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Submission + - ITER Fusion Reactor Enters Existential Crisis

deglr6328 writes: The long beleaguered experimental magnetic confinement fusion reactor ITER, is currently in what some are calling the worst crisis of its 25 year history. Still existing only on the paper of thousands of proposed design documents, latest cost estimates for the superconducting behemoth are soaring to nearly 20 billion USD; roughly twice the estimates of as recent as a few years ago. Anti-nuclear environmentalist organizations have seized upon the moment as an opportunity to use the current global economic crisis as a means to push for permanently killing the project. If ITER is not built, the prospect of magnetic confinement fusion as a technique to reach thermonuclear breakeven and ignition in the laboratory would be in serious question. Meanwhile, the largest laser-driven inertial confinement fusion project, the National Ignition Facility, has demonstrated the ability to use self generated plasma optical gratings to control capsule implosion symmetry with high finesse, and is on schedule to achieve ignition and potentially high gain before the end of the year.

Submission + - An end to frivolous patents may be in sight (

fiannaFailMan writes: The Economist has high hopes that frivolous patents may become a thing of the past.

America’s Supreme Court is about to issue a ruling which, by all accounts, will make it difficult, if not impossible, to get a patent for a business process. And because most business processes are, at bottom, computer algorithms, the Supreme Court’s judgment could also bar all sorts of software patents in the process. As a result, a lot of patents for online shopping, medical-diagnostic tests and procedures for executing trades on Wall Street could be invalidated.


Submission + - Super-speed Internet satellite blasts off in Japan (

petercasier writes: "Japan launched a rocket Saturday carrying a satellite that will test new technology that promises to deliver "super high-speed Internet" service to homes and businesses around the world. The WINDS super-fast Internet satellite is a joint project of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. If the technology proves successful, subscribers with small dishes will connect to the Internet at speeds many times faster than what is now available over residential cable or DSL services. The satellite would offer speeds of up to 1.2 gigabytes per second."

Submission + - Microsoft tries to get writer fired! 1

Blake Gombrich writes: "As a loyal reader I feel it is my duty to inform you of this: I am a regular on the Penny Arcade forums and one of the developing stories I have been watching is one in which one of my fellow PAers seems to be having a bit of trouble with Microsoft. After moving from the UK to the States, he had problems getting his Live account working in his new area. He called Microsoft with help on the issue. As I understand it, all calls were unhelpful, emails ignored and 2 advisers on phone support told him to "go back to England". Amazing. Now it is apparent that he works for a gaming publication. He posted the situation in his blog to raise awareness of the issue. In what shocked me, a representative from Microsoft called his editor and asked that he be dropped from the writing team! Apparently this was requested to remove "any contention between the publication and Microsoft." In my honest opinion this is totally unacceptable. As writers and bloggers yourselves this kind of behavior should alarm (if not anger) you. As a 360 owner myself this is very troubling, and as a gamer this is infuriating. Here is the forum thread with all the information: Thank you for your time and keep up the good work! Blake Gombrich"

Submission + - Doctors say placebo use common (

The Madd Rapper writes: According to the survey, 45% of respondents have prescribed placebos in actual practice (as opposed to clinical trials). They disclosed this with varying specificity, e.g, this "may help and will not hurt" or is "a medicine with no specific effect." Only 12% said placebos should never be used.


Submission + - 2008... International Year of the Potato !

An anonymous reader writes: Yes, thats right..the UN has designated 2008 as the International Year of the Potato, to highlight the tasty spuds increasing importance as a food source worldwide. Among the many events planned are an international conference, Potato Science for the Poor: Challenges for the New Millennium to be held in March in Cuzco, Peru, and a series of presentations in European cities entitled the Procession of the Potato.

So, no matter how you like your taters — mashed, boiled, fried, or baked — be sure and celebrate the humble potato throughout this new year, and dont forget that the potato is the most important root and tuber crop in the world and the third most important food crop in the world!

Via Living In Peru
The Courts

Submission + - DMCA subpoenas used to protect Internet security ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: Many on Slashdot accuse music and movie companies of violating privacy and legal rights when they send DMCA subpoenas, and generally excoriate the DMCA subpoena process. Will they similarly condemn AVG for sending DMCA subpoenas to search engines and domain registrars in order to discover the identity of sellers of counterfeit antivirus software? Is there a difference?

Submission + - YouTube censoring atheists. (

Metaleks writes: 'Tis the season to be jolly. But all is not well. It would seem that YouTube is censoring those who lack Christmas spirit. One after another, atheists on YouTube are being removed from Top 100 lists, and having their channels stripped of any honours. To prove this wasn't some sort of YouTube glitch, one atheist went as far as creating another account. As soon as he was "discovered" of being an atheist his videos were stripped of any honours and his name taken off of the Top 100 lists. Why is YouTube censoring atheists?

Submission + - Apple Offering 'Fake Steve' Cash to Close Shop (

An anonymous reader writes: Daniel Lyons, a.k.a. Fake Steve Jobs, made a post earlier today about how Apple was apparently offering him some money (in the wake of the ThinkSecret shutdown) to end his blog 'The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs', and that he was interested in taking it. A few hours later, Lyons made another post, saying that Apple's lawyers had contacted him angrily, saying the details of the deal were supposed to remain private. Could this be the end of the blog which has entertained us with the egomaniac rantings of "Steve" for the past year?

Submission + - More bad news for MD5 (

thornmaker writes: "Sûnnet Beskerming has a good writeup on the newly found weaknesses with MD5 hashes.

From the article: "New research has raised some interesting alternatives for people seeking to demonstrate (or exploit) the nature of MD5 hashes more readily. With the techniques discussed in the linked paper, it is possible to create two distinct sets of data and prepend seemingly random data to both sets and create new sets that generate valid MD5 collisions. Though the "prefix attack" is not new and it isn't the first time that it has been considered for application to generating MD5 collisions, it is the first time that a reliable demonstration has been provided that works on arbitrary initial data, rather than specially-seeded proof of concept samples."

At least we still have the family of SHA hashes..."


Submission + - Student given detention for using Firefox 3

An anonymous reader writes: Several sites are reporting that a student has been given detention for using "Firefox.exe" to do his classwork. No, really. The student was in class, working on an assignment that necessitated using a browser. The teacher instructed him to stop using Firefox and to do his classwork, to which the student responded that he was doing his classwork using a "better" browser (it is unclear whether the computer was the student's own computer or not). The clueless teacher (who called the rogue program "Firefox.exe") ordered him to detention.

Submission + - RF Energy Breaks H2O Bonds in Saltwater Solution

Out of Round writes: While researching a means to cure his cancer, inventor John Kanzius serendipitously discovered that radiating saltwater with RF energy at a frequency 14GHz, results in the release of H2 and O at a significant rate. The article doesn't mention the amount of RF power used but there is a You Tube video showing the process in action with the resulting vigorous flame spewing out of the test tube powering a Stirling engine. The mechanism for this phenomenon is not understood but with sufficient conversion efficiencies, it could have wide-ranging implications for the future of this planet.

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