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Submission + - Drones and satellites spot lost civilizations in unlikely places ( 1

sciencehabit writes: What do the Sahara desert and the Amazon rainforest have in common? Until recently, archaeologists would have told you they were both inhospitable environments devoid of large-scale human settlements. But they were wrong. Here today at the annual meeting of the AAAS, two researchers explained how remote sensing technology, including satellite imaging and drone flights, is revealing the traces of past civilizations that have been hiding in plain sight.

Submission + - Slashdot BETA Discussion ( 60

mugnyte writes: With Slashdot's recent restyled "BETA" slowly rolled to most users, there's been a lot of griping about the changes. This is nothing new, as past style changes have had similar effects. However, this pass there are significant usability changes: A narrower read pane, limited moderation filtering, and several color/size/font adjustments. BETA implies not yet complete, so taking that cue — please list your specific, detailed opinoins, one per comment, and let's use the best part of slashdot (the moderation system) to raise the attention to these. Change can be jarring, but let's focus on the true usability differences with the new style.

Submission + - Odyssey Moon and the Lunar X PRIZE (

Curtis Ellzey writes: "From the 25th International Space Symposium, Bob Richards, CEO of Odyssey Moon, talks about their commercial space enterprise, their involvement with the Lunar X PRIZE, and some unique payloads they plan on delivering to the surface of the moon. Odyssey Moon was the first team to complete registration for the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE competition and plans to make history with the first private robotic mission to the surface of the Moon"

Submission + - Smallest Exoplanet Yet Discovered

Snowblindeye writes: Well-known exoplanet researcher Michel Mayor today announced the discovery of the lightest exoplanet found so far. The planet, "e", in the famous system Gliese 581, is only about twice the mass of our Earth. The team also refined the orbit of the planet Gliese 581 d, first discovered in 2007, placing it well within the habitable zone, where liquid water oceans could exist.

Planet Gliese 581 e orbits its host star — located only 20.5 light-years away in the constellation Libra ("the Scales") — in just 3.15 days. "With only 1.9 Earth-masses, it is the least massive exoplanet ever detected and is, very likely, a rocky planet", says co-author Xavier Bonfils from Grenoble Observatory.

Being so close to its host star, the planet is not in the habitable zone. But another planet in this system appears to be. From previous observations this star was known to harbour a system with a Neptune-sized planet and two super-Earths. With the discovery of Gliese 581 e, the planetary system now has four known planets, with masses of about 1.9 (planet e), 16 (planet b), 5 (planet c), and 7 Earth-masses (planet d). The planet furthest out, Gliese 581 d, orbits its host star in 66.8 days. "Gliese 581 d is probably too massive to be made only of rocky material, but we can speculate that it is an icy planet that has migrated closer to the star," says team member Stephane Udry. The new observations have revealed that this planet is in the habitable zone, where liquid water could exist. "'d' could even be covered by a large and deep ocean — it is the first serious 'water world' candidate," continued Udry.

Submission + - World's first x ray laser 1

smolloy writes: The world's first x ray laser (LCLS) has see first light.

A Free Electron Laser (FEL) is based on the light that is emitted by accelerated electrons when they are forced to move in a curved path. The beam then interacts with this emitted light in order to excite coherent emission (much like in a regular laser); thus producing a very short, extremely bright, bunch of coherent x ray photons.

The engineering expertise that went into this machine is phenomenal — "This is the most difficult lightsource that has ever been turned on," said LCLS Construction Project Director John Galayda. "It's on the boundary between the impossible and possible, and within two hours of start-up these guys had it right on." — and the benefits to the applied sciences from research using this light can be expected to be enormous — "For some disciplines, this tool will be as important to the future as the microscope has been to the past." said SLAC Director Persis Drell.
Real Time Strategy (Games)

Submission + - Creating the next DotA for Starcraft 2 (

seanhb writes: "In my opinion Starcraft 2 will bring amazing opportunities to game modders across the globe. Whenever a game modification comes out for Warcraft 3 it is always compared to DotA and this can be quite frightening for new modders. That's why I'm so excited for Starcraft 2, it represents a clean slate where game modders will have to fight for the top position again."
PC Games (Games)

Massive EVE Online Alliance Disbanded 352

tnt001 writes "In the world of EVE Online, the infamous Band of Brothers alliance has been disbanded. It seems that rival alliance Goonswarm had a spy in the holding corporation, and he stole money as well as capital ships and other assets. The spy then disbanded the alliance. 'One of GoonSwarm's stated motivations from their early days as an alliance was to punish what they viewed as the arrogance of Band of Brothers. If they've held true to that ideal, stealing the alliance out from under BoB effectively means GoonSwarm has accomplished what they set out to do years ago.' As of 11:00 GMT, BoB lost all its sovereignty (its outposts are conquerable now, cyno-jammers are offline, jump bridges are inoperable)."
PlayStation (Games)

Mechanical AI Made In LittleBigPlanet 65

Laurens writes "Despite slow sales of LittleBigPlanet in the USA, you might have heard of the calculator made within the game, but now that has been topped. I found a fully-functioning AI machine which plays Tic-Tac-Toe against the player. Considering that you can't actually program in LBP, this feat is impressive; it is a machine which has mechanical AND and OR ports made of pistons and proximity detectors, a physically moving Program Counter, and hundreds of wires. The level is called 'Tic Tac Toe' and is by author Cristel." Another player created a similarly amazing level that is a recreation of John Conway's Game of Life.

GTA IV DLC Announced 49

Rockstar Games recently announced upcoming downloadable content for Grand Theft Auto IV, entitled The Lost and Damned. It's due out on February 17th, and it focuses on a member of a Liberty City biker gang, rather than Niko Bellic. Joystiq has some early screenshots. "In the original game, Niko crossed paths with The Lost several times. This time, Niko has only a bit part, [Rockstar's Dan Houser] says. 'The story is not directly impacted by decisions you took in the main game,' he says. But 'tons of details and mysteries from the main story get explained, so it will add a lot of color to the main story.'"

E=mc^2 Verified In Quantum Chromodynamic Calculation 268

chirishnique and other readers sent in a story in AFP about a heroic supercomputer computation that has verified Einstein's most famous equation at the level of subatomic particles for the first time. "A brainpower consortium led by Laurent Lellouch of France's Centre for Theoretical Physics, using some of the world's mightiest supercomputers, have set down the calculations for estimating the mass of protons and neutrons, the particles at the nucleus of atoms. ... [T]he mass of gluons is zero and the mass of quarks is only five per cent. Where, therefore, is the missing 95 per cent? The answer, according to the study published in the US journal Science on Thursday, comes from the energy from the movements and interactions of quarks and gluons. ... [E]nergy and mass are equivalent, as Einstein proposed in his Special Theory of Relativity in 1905." Update: 11/21 15:50 GMT by KD : New Scientist has a slightly more technical look at the accomplishment.

Massive Martian Glaciers Found 314

Kozar_The_Malignant writes "Scientific American is reporting that 'data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter point to vast glaciers buried beneath thin layers of crustal debris.' Data from the surface-penetrating radar on MRO revealed that two well-known mid-latitude features are composed of solid water ice. One is about three times the size of the City of Los Angeles. This certainly makes the idea of establishing a station on Mars far more plausible."

Resurrecting the Mighty Mammoth, Cheaply 322

somanyrobots writes with an interesting followup in the New York Times to the earlier-reported substantial reconstruction of the woolly mammoth genome: "Scientists are talking for the first time about the old idea of resurrecting extinct species as if this staple of science fiction is a realistic possibility, saying that a living mammoth could perhaps be regenerated for as little as $10 million. The same technology could be applied to any other extinct species from which one can obtain hair, horn, hooves, fur or feathers, and which went extinct within the last 60,000 years, the effective age limit for DNA." (The Washington Post article linked from the earlier post was much more skeptical, calling such an attempt "still firmly the domain of science fiction." The New York Times article, while describing the process in similar terms, also calls attention to recent advances in sequencing DNA, as well as recoding DNA for cloning.)

Zapping Contrails With Microwave Emitters 125

An anonymous reader writes "Dissipation of contrails with a powerful microwave beam aligned behind aircraft engines is being touted as a possible solution to help address air transport's effects on the climate. 'The remote heating of condensation nuclei could be achieved by applying electromagnetic radiation, such as microwaves,' says Cranfield University's Frank Noppel. 'Depending on assumptions made, calculation shows that the power required for such a device could be as little as 0.1% of the engine power.'"

Scientists Grow New Eyes (In Tadpoles) 37

MagnetDroid writes "Michael Zuber and his colleagues from SUNY Upstate Medical University have shown how to regrow frogs eyes using stem cells. Zuber's team genetically engineered the stem cells to express transcription factors that regulate eye development and, when they transplanted them into frog embryos that had had one eye removed, they regrew into fully functioning tadpole eyes. Unfortunately, the same trick doesn't work in mammals but Zuber hopes to find chemicals that activate the transcription factors without genetic engineering and says this might one day lead to new treatments for diseases linked to cell loss in the retina."

Feed Engadget: Toshiba's gigabeat prototype sports a 3.2-inch OLED display (

Filed under: Portable Audio, Portable Video

Hey hey, lookie here, a Toshiba gigabeat prototype unearthed by Akihabara News at CEATEC. No real details except for the display: a vivid 3.2-inch, 240 x 427 pixel OLED. Yeah, we also noticed the curvier profile and missing Windows flag from the interface keys. A subtle clue, perhaps, as to how much longer Toshiba is willing to support Microsoft's defunt Portable Media Center platform.

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