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Submission + - How many fundamental constants does it take to describe our Universe?

StartsWithABang writes: Our Universe is the way it is for two reasons: the initial conditions that it started off with, and the fundamental particles, interactions and laws that govern it. When it comes to the physical properties of everything that exists, we can ask ourselves how many fundamental, dimensionless constants or parameters it takes to give us a complete description of everything we observe. Surprisingly, the answer is 26 (not 42), and there are a few things that remain unexplained, even with all of them.

Submission + - HP Security Research (ZDI) claims $125K Microsoft bug bounty

xeno writes: Articles at ZDNet and Threatpost describe HP's Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) team winning Microsoft's $100K Mitigation Bypass Bounty for compromises of the Isolated Heap and MemoryProtection functions in the most recent IE. Their findings included how to do an "oracle" compromise of MemProtect to make it provide details on how to completely bypass ASLR, which has broader implications. HP also provided solution guidance to MS and received another $25k through the BlueHat Bonus for Defense. HPSR posted a video announcement, and researchers Brian Gorenc, AbdulAziz Hariri and Simon Zuckerbraun are donating the entire $125k proceeds evenly to STEM education programs at Texas A&M, Concordia, and Khan Academy.

Submission + - Sony plan to pull out of MPAA revealed (

Earthquake Retrofit writes: The New York Times is reporting: "... Sony Pictures chairman Michael Lynton last month told industry colleagues of a plan to withdraw from the movie trade organization, according to people who have been briefed on the discussions. He cited the organization's slow response and lack of public support in the aftermath of the attack on Sony and its film “The Interview,” as well as longstanding concerns about the cost and efficacy of the group."

Submission + - With Insider Help, ID Theft Ring Stole $700,000 in Apple Gift Cards (

itwbennett writes: The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has indicted five people for using personal information stolen from around 200 people to fund the purchase of hundreds of thousands of dollars in Apple gift cards, which in turn were used to buy Apple products. 'Using stolen information to purchase Apple products is one of the most common schemes employed by cybercrime and identity theft rings today,' District Attorney Cyrus Vance said in a statement. 'We see in case after case how all it takes is single insider at a company—in this instance, allegedly, a receptionist in a dentists’ office—to set an identity theft ring in motion, which then tries to monetize the stolen information by purchasing Apple goods for resale or personal use,' he said.

Submission + - DARPA issues $2mil Cyber Grand Challenge

Papa Fett writes: DARPA announced the Cyber Grand Challenge (CGC)--the first-ever tournament for fully automatic network defense systems. International teams will compete to build systems that reason about software flaws, formulate patches and deploy them on a network in real time. Teams would be scored against each other based on how capably their systems can protect hosts, scan the network for vulnerabilities, and maintain the correct function of software. The winning team would receive a cash prize of $2 million, with second place earning $1 million and third place taking home $750,000. If DARPA is as successful as they were with their Grand Challenge of self driving cars, according to The Register, "it's Brown trousers time for some in antivirus industry."

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: What's the best way to work on projects while travelling?

An anonymous reader writes: I really want to go travel the world with the money I've saved up at my day job, but I also want to grow as a developer in the process. This is a long-term engagement: 2-3 years or more depending on whether my software is successful. I'll probably be hopping from hostel to hostel at first, with a few weeks at each. How do I find a good work environment in these conditions? Do hostels generally have quiet areas where work could be done? Is it OK to get out your laptop and spend the day in a cafe in Europe, assuming you keep buying drinks? What about hackerspaces — are those common on the other side of the globe? (Apartments are an option for later on, but I'm concerned about losing the social atmosphere that's built in with the hostel lifestyle.)

I've never done anything like this before, but I'm really excited about the idea! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Submission + - Blimps, TV Airwaves Could Help Google Spread the Web (

Nerval's Lobster writes: Pop quiz: how do you bring the Internet to underdeveloped parts of the world?

The answer, in Google’s case, is with blimps. Yes, blimps—the same ones that float over football stadiums on game days, and which fell out of favor as passenger transports after a certain incident in New Jersey—could help Google “transmit signals to an area of hundreds of square miles,” according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal. That’s just one idea mulled by Google executives. The search-engine giant is also reportedly considering some sort of satellite-based network, as well as converting unused channels in the broadcast television spectrum (traditionally known as “white space”) for wireless-broadband use. “Google has been working on building an ecosystem of new microprocessors and low-cost smartphones” that would connect to the new networks, the Journal added. Google has been playing with the airwaves-for-Internet idea for some time. In March, it launched a trial program in the Cape Town area of South Africa, giving ten schools wireless broadband via unused white space. “During the trial, we will attempt to show that broadband can be offered over white spaces without interfering with licensed spectrum holders,” read a note posted to the Official Google Africa Blog at the time. “To prevent interference with other channels, the network uses Google’s spectrum database to determine white space availability.” It’s easy to argue that bringing the Internet—particularly high-speed broadband—to underserved areas of the world is a good thing. But it’s also easy to see the darker underbelly to such an infrastructure project: if Google controls the infrastructure providing that Internet, then the company controls the flow of information into those areas (with regulatory oversight, one hopes).

Submission + - Jeremy Hammond of LulzSec Pleads Guilty to Stratfor Attack (

eldavojohn writes: After facing thirty years to life imprisonment and pleading not guilty to charges last year, Jeremy Hammond has pleaded guilty to his alleged involvement in Anonymous' hacking of Stratfor. The self proclaimed hacktivist member of LulzSec who has compared himself to the late Aaron Swartz explained his reasoning in his plea: "Today I pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This was a very difficult decision. I hope this statement will explain my reasoning. I believe in the power of the truth. In keeping with that, I do not want to hide what I did or to shy away from my actions. This non-cooperating plea agreement frees me to tell the world what I did and why, without exposing any tactics or information to the government and without jeopardizing the lives and well-being of other activists on and offline. During the past 15 months I have been relatively quiet about the specifics of my case as I worked with my lawyers to review the discovery and figure out the best legal strategy. There were numerous problems with the government’s case, including the credibility of FBI informant Hector Monsegur. However, because prosecutors stacked the charges with inflated damages figures, I was looking at a sentencing guideline range of over 30 years if I lost at trial. I have wonderful lawyers and an amazing community of people on the outside who support me. None of that changes the fact that I was likely to lose at trial. But, even if I was found not guilty at trial, the government claimed that there were eight other outstanding indictments against me from jurisdictions scattered throughout the country. If I had won this trial I would likely have been shipped across the country to face new but similar charges in a different district. The process might have repeated indefinitely. Ultimately I decided that the most practical route was to accept this plea with a maximum of a ten year sentence and immunity from prosecution in every federal court. Now that I have pleaded guilty it is a relief to be able to say that I did work with Anonymous to hack Stratfor, among other websites. Those others included military and police equipment suppliers, private intelligence and information security firms, and law enforcement agencies. I did this because I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors. I did what I believe is right."

Submission + - World Bank Invests in Modular Infrastructure to Boost Wireless in Africa, Asia (

1sockchuck writes: A unit of the World Bank is backing a provider of factory-built data centers in hopes of accelerating wireless access in parts of Asia and Africa. The $24 million investment will support the deployment of pre-fabricated modular IT enclosures from Flexenclosure, as well as power systems for wireless towers that use a combination of solar and wind power and batteries. The Swedish company's system includes software that can manage multiple sources to optimize the power supply, or even extend it to support local water pumps and schools.

Submission + - Transform any Unity project into a relativistic playground with OpenRelativity (

schirra writes: The MIT Game Lab has just released the graphics/physics engine from its popular game "A Slower Speed of Light" as an open-source project, allowing anyone to play around with the effects of special relativity using Unity3D. While the hope is that game developers and educators will use OpenRelativity to develop new kinds of relativistic games and simulations, that shouldn't stop those with a casual interest from playing around with these wicked cool effects. For the physics inclined, these effects include Lorentz contraction, time dilation, Doppler shift, and the searchlight effect--though a PhD in theoretical physics isn't required to enjoy or use the project.

Submission + - Scientists Link Autism with Lack of Gut Bacteria

parallel_prankster writes: Scientists at University College Cork (UCC) have found that mice who were raised without bacteria in their gut showed autistic patterns of behavior. Scientists argue that their findings demonstrate the crucial role stomach bacteria plays in the development of normal social behaviour. Professor Ted Dinan, psychiatry professor and a principal investigator in the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre (APC), said the core of their paper argued that animals need a normal range of bacteria in their gut in order for normal social development. Dinan said, “In our studies involving mice, we found animals raised in a germ-free environment (without microbiota in their gut) spent more time interacting with objects than other animals and so have distinctively autistic patterns of behavior.”
He said that the serotonin system, which helps regulate mood, does not develop properly if there is not enough bacteria in the gut. Mice in the study who did not have enough bacteria were less interested in new social situations than mice with a normal level of bacteria.
The scientists said that the bacteria deficient mice behavior resembles social cognition deficits of patients. Children with autism also show repetitive behaviors and scientists pointed out that gut problems are common among those with autism. Scientists weaned bacteria and then added it and this reversed the mice’s social avoidance and repetitive behaviors, but had no impact on social cognition impairments.

Submission + - BSA Study Demonstrates Open Source's Economic Advantage (

jrepin writes: The fundamental premise of the latest BSA study — that licensed proprietary software is better in many ways than pirated copies — actually applies to open source software even more strongly, with the added virtues that the software is free to try, to use and to modify. That means the potential economic impact of free software is also even greater than that offered by both licensed and unlicensed proprietary software. It's yet another reason for governments around the world to promote the use of open source in their countries by everyone at every level.

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% APL is a natural extension of assembler language programming; ...and is best for educational purposes. -- A. Perlis