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Government

Amateur Scientists Find New Clue In D.B. Cooper Case, Crowdsource Their Investigation (kare11.com) 136

Six months after the FBI closed the only unsolved air piracy in American aviation history -- after a 45-year investigation -- there's a new clue. An anonymous reader quotes Seattle news station KING: A band of amateur scientists selected by the Seattle FBI to look for clues in the world's most infamous skyjacking may have found new evidence in the 45-year-old case. They're asking for the public's help because of new, potential leads that could link DB Cooper to the Puget Sound aerospace industry in the early 1970s. The scientific team has been analyzing particles removed from the clip-on tie left behind by Cooper after he hijacked a Northwest Orient passenger jet in November 1971. A powerful electron microscope located more than 100,000 particles on old the JCPenny tie. The team has identified particles like Cerium, Strontium Sulfide, and pure titanium.

Tom Kaye, lead researcher for the group calling itself Citizen Sleuths, says the group is intrigued by the finding, because the elements identified were rarely used in 1971, during the time of Cooper's daring leap with a parachute from a passenger jet. One place they were being used was for Boeing's high-tech Super Sonic Transport plane...

Interestingly, it was even a Boeing aircraft that Cooper hijacked, and witnesses say he wasn't nervous on the flight, and seemed familiar with the terrain below.
Science

New Research Suggests the Appendix Has a Purpose After All (qz.com) 133

The appendix is an organ thought to have gone the way of our wisdom teeth and body hair: At one point we all needed them, now people can get by just fine without them. However, it turns out, at least the appendix has some purpose in the body. From a report: Scientists, though, have never been certain what the appendix used to do -- and if it is still, in fact, useless. On Jan. 9, a team of researchers led by scientists at Midwestern University Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine published a review study proposing an answer: the appendix is a secondary immune function that both catalyzes immune cell responses and floods your gut with beneficial bacteria when they've been depleted. And it still plays that role, in a limited fashion, in human body function."We can function okay without it, but the appendix does provide some degree of immunity and beneficial bacteria,â Heather Smith, an anatomist and lead author of the paper said.
Intel

Origin PC's Custom, Professional Overclocking Will Push Your Kaby Lake Chip Past 5GHz (pcworld.com) 94

An anonymous reader writes: Intel's new Kaby Lake desktop processors may not be huge improvements over their Skylake predecessors in terms of raw speed, but they've got it where it counts in one enthusiast-friendly area: overclocking. Now the high-end custom PC builder Origin is putting its (and your) money where its mouth is. Origin's has offered professional overclocking as a $75 option in its systems for a while, and now the builder is touting that Kaby Lake desktops chips will go up to -- and potentially over -- the 5GHz barrier. Hot, hot, hot, hot damn. Intel's chips haven't hit such lofty heights since the Sandy Bridge days and the Core i7-2600K. Since then, Intel's processors usually tap out around the 4.5GHz mark. While the current wording for Origin's professional overclocking doesn't guarantee a set frequency due to the silicon lottery -- promising only that "Origin PC's award winning system integrators will overclock your processor and squeeze out every last megahertz" with every overclock "stringently tested and benchmarked for ensured stability" -- the company must feel darn confident to market that 5GHz number in big, bold numbers in a press release.
Star Wars Prequels

Lucasfilm Creates A 4K Ultra-HD Restoration of the Original 'Star Wars' (4k.com) 304

An anonymous reader quotes 4K.com: When the first ever of the Star Wars films, "A New Hope" turns 40 in 2017, millions of dedicated fans of the immensely popular franchise might get a very unique treat in the form of a limited theater screening in beautifully restored form with theatrical 4K resolution of the first movie released in the series. According to recent comments made by Rogue One director Gareth Edwards, a 4K restoration of Star Wars Episode IV "A New Hope" does indeed exist and now the only real question is whether or not the cleaned up and sharpened version of the movie will be hitting the big screen once again.
White it's release status is unknown, the ultra-high definition footage is said to be spectacular. In the interview, Edwards says "You can't watch it without getting carried away... It just turns you into a child."
Businesses

More Than One-Third of Schoolchildren Are Homeless In Shadow of Silicon Valley (theguardian.com) 504

Alastair Gee writes via The Guardian about Palo Alto's problem with homeless children. Palo Alto is one of the most expensive cities in the United States, yet "slightly more than one-third of students (1,147 children) are defined as homeless here, mostly sharing homes with other families because their parents cannot afford one of their own, and also living in RVs and shelters." From the report: The circumstances of the crisis are striking. Little more than a strip of asphalt separates East Palo Alto from tony Palo Alto, with its startups, venture capitalists, Craftsman homes and Whole Foods. East Palo Alto has traditionally been a center for African American and Latino communities. Its suburban houses are clustered on flat land by the bay, sometimes with no sidewalks and few trees, but residents say the town boasts a strong sense of cohesion. Yet as in the rest of Silicon Valley, the technology economy is drawing new inhabitants and businesses -- the Facebook headquarters is within Ravenswood's catchment area -- and contributing to dislocation as well as the tax base. "Now you have Caucasians moving back into the community, you have Facebookers and Googlers and Yahooers," said Pastor Paul Bains, a local leader. "That's what's driven the cost back up. Before, houses were rarely over $500,000. And now, can you find one under $750,000? You probably could, but it's a rare find." Several homeless families whose children attend local schools told the Guardian that they had considered moving to cheaper real estate markets, such as the agricultural Central Valley, but there were no jobs there. One man shares a single room with three children, in a house where three other families each have a room. Another woman lives with her partner and five children in a converted garage. Even teachers are not immune to such difficulties. Ten of the staff who work on early education programs -- one-third of the total -- commute two or more hours each way a day because they cannot find housing they can afford.
Businesses

Apple CEO Tim Cook Calls AirPods 'a Runaway Success' (cnbc.com) 214

It turns out the $159 AirPods Bluetooth earphones are selling well, or so CEO Tim Cook would have us believed. Cook dropped by the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday while on vacation, and talked about the AirPods sales. From a report on CNBC: In comments to CNBC, Cook declined to talk specifically on Apple's outlook, but he said it has been a "great holiday." He added that the company's new wireless earbuds, AirPods, are "a runaway success." When asked if more would come into stock, he said Apple's "making them just as fast as we can." AirPods debuted at September's splashy event, but saw shipping delays through most of the fall and finally hit shelves just days before the crucial Christmas shopping rush. The limited shipments were sold quickly -- ship dates are now six weeks out on Apple's website.
Science

Pregnancy Alters Woman's Brains 'For At Least Two Years' (bbc.com) 280

EzInKy writes: The BBC and others are reporting the results of a study that women's brains do in fact change during pregnancy. BBC reports: "Pregnancy reduces grey matter in specific parts of a woman's brain, helping her bond with her baby and prepare for the demands of motherhood. Scans of 25 first-time mums showed these structural brain changes lasted for at least two years after giving birth. European researchers said the scale of brain changes during pregnancy were akin to those seen during adolescence. But they found no evidence of women's memory deteriorating. This study, from researchers at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and Leiden University and published in Nature Neuroscience, looked at the brain scans of women before they became pregnant, soon after they gave birth, and two years later, to see how the brain changed. And they compared these women's brains with those of 19 first-time fathers, 17 men without children and 20 women who had never given birth. The researchers found 'substantial' reductions in the volume of grey matter in the brains of first-time mothers. The grey matter changes occurred in areas of the brain involved in social interactions used for attributing thoughts and feelings to other people -- known as 'theory-of-mind' tasks. The researchers thought this would give new mothers an advantage in various ways - help them recognize the needs of their child, be more aware of potential social threats and become more attached to their baby." Thanks Mom! As for first-time fathers, the researchers found no changes in their grey matter.
Firefox

Most Firefox Users Still Running Windows 7 (softpedia.com) 210

Microsoft is pushing hard for Windows 10 to become the operating system of choice for everyone across the world, but this isn't happening just yet, as Windows 7 keeps dominating the desktop market. From a report on Softpedia: The Firefox Hardware Report published recently by Mozilla shows that Windows 7 is the number one browser for users running the company's browser, with a share of 44.86 percent, followed by Windows 10 with 25.67 percent. Seeing Windows 7 dominating the desktop OS charts is not surprising, but on the other hand, it's living proof that Microsoft will really have a hard time moving users to Windows 10 before 2020 when it reaches end of support. Microsoft's Windows 10, however, already improved substantially since its launch in 2015, mostly thanks to the free upgrade offer targeting Windows 7 and 8.1 users, but this still isn't enough to become the number one choice for PC users.
AI

Londoners Tests A Self-Driving Beer Tap And An AI-Assisted Brewery (gizmodo.co.uk) 90

At a bar in London, they're now testing the prototype for a self-driving beer tap, according to drunkdrone. Gizmodo UK reports: All you need to do is select your pint of choice on the touchscreen, pay with a tap of your contactless card and stick your pint glass at its base. The pump contains an electronic valve, which opens to allow beer to flow through. A liquid flow meter ensures the right amount of good stuff comes out.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg is also reporting on a London startup that's brewing beer with a special algorithm that constantly modifies the percentage of each ingredient -- hops, water, yeast and grain -- based on ongoing customer feedback. Levels of carbonation, bitterness and alcohol content all change based on how people are responding... The algorithm produces new recipes every month incorporating the feedback. "There are too many brands out there that just have one recipe for a beer, and they've had it for 60 years," said Hew Leith, co-founder of IntelligentX, the maker of the beer appropriately named AI. "We're not about that. We're about using data to listen to our customers, get all that feedback, and then brew something that's more attuned to what they actually want and need."
He believes the same process could also be used to design perfume, chocolate, and coffee.
Microsoft

Microsoft Will Soon Start Bundling Drivers With Windows Store Games (thurrott.com) 102

Microsoft will start bundling drivers with Windows Store games to improve the performance of the game once downloaded. A report on Thurrott adds: This will work by the game download trigging Windows Update to acquire the minimum driver requirements to make sure that application works as intended. This may perturb some users who like having complete control over the driver updates for their hardware as this auto-download mechanism will overwrite the existing installation of the driver. Of course, you can still roll-back the update but hopefully Microsoft gives us a way to stop the auto-download of the driver via the Windows Store when this feature arrives.
Earth

Radiation From Fukushima Disaster Reaches Oregon Coast (nypost.com) 139

An anonymous reader quotes a report from New York Post: Radiation from Japan's 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster has apparently traveled across the Pacific. Researchers reported that radioactive matter -- in the form of an isotope known as cesium-134 -- was collected in seawater samples from Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach in Oregon. The levels were extremely low, however, and don't pose a threat to humans or the environment. In 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a wave of tsunamis that caused colossal damage to Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The disaster released several radioactive isotopes -- including the dangerous fission products of cesium-137 and iodine-131 -- that contaminated the air and water. The ocean was later contaminated by the radiation. But cesium-134 is the fingerprint of Fukushima due to its short half-life of two years, meaning the level is cut in half every two years. Cesium-137 has a 30-year half-life. Particles from Chernobyl, nuclear weapons tests, and discharge from other nuclear power plants are still detectable -- in small, harmless amounts. While this is the first time cesium-134 has been detected on US shores, Higley said "really tiny quantities" have previously been found in albacore tuna. The Oregon samples were collected by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in January and February. Each sample measured 0.3 becquerels, a unit of radioactivity, per cubic meter of cesium-134 -- significantly lower than the 50 million becquerels per cubic meter measured in Japan after the disaster.
Microsoft

Microsoft Exec Urges Linux Developers To Try Windows 10 (softpedia.com) 403

An anonymous reader shares a Softpedia article: Microsoft has finally acknowledged the potential that the open-source world in general, and Linux in particular, boasts, so the company is exploring its options to expand in this area with every occasion. Most recently, an episode posted on Channel 9 and entitled "Improvements to Bash on Windows and the Windows Console" with senior program manager Rich Turner calls for Linux developers to give up on their platforms for Windows 10. "Fire up a Windows 10 Insiders' build instance and run your code, run your tools, host your website on Apache, access your MySQL database from your Java code," he explained. Turner went on to point out that the Windows subsystem for Linux is there to provide developers with all the necessary tools to code just like they'd do it on Linux, all without losing the advantages of Windows 10. "Whatever it is that you normally do on Linux to build an application: whether it's in Go, in Erlang, in C, whatever you use, please, give it a try on Bash WSL, and importantly file bugs on us. It really makes our life a lot easier and helps us build a product that we can all use and be far more productive with, he continued. Editor's note: The original title from Softpedia was edited because it was misleading. A Microsoft employee doesn't represent the entire company (at least in this instant he wasn't speaking for the company), and at no point has he asked "all Linux developers" to "give up" on Linux.
Science

Toyota's Battery 'Breakthrough' Can Lead To More Range, Longer Life (cnet.com) 29

Toyota thinks it's found a way to create more efficient EV batteries. The car company is calling its method, which allows a free flow of lithium ions from the cathode to the anode, the "world's first behavior observation method for lithium ions in electrolyte." CNET adds:Charging and discharging batteries can create lithium ion deviation. Some of these ions can get bunched up, which can affect a battery's performance over time. In order to help reduce that bunching, scientists need to see what's happening as the ions flow through the battery's electrolyte. That observation wasn't possible until now. Toyota made has replaced the phosphorous in a traditional lithium-ion battery electrolyte with heavier elements. These heavier elements, which ferry the ions through the electrolyte, are then bombarded with powerful x-rays, which allows researchers to observe how the ions flow through. So what does this all mean? By observing the lithium ions in the electrolyte, research and development dollars can be spent on preventing the bunching that degrades battery performance. Toyota believes its breakthrough can improve electric vehicle range by up to 15 percent and improve the battery's life simultaneously.
Piracy

$1 Billion Getty Images Public Domain Photograph Dispute is Over (torrentfreak.com) 99

Earlier this year, photographer Carol Highsmith received a $120 settlement demand from Getty Images after she used one of her own public domain images on her website (which is she had donated to the Library of Congress and made available to the public to reproduce and display for free). Highsmith responded with a $1bn lawsuit but after a few short months, as TorrentFreak reports, the case is all over, with neither side a clear winner. From the report: To begin, on October 28, US District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff dismissed each of Carol Highsmith's federal copyright claims. "Defendants Getty Images (US), Inc., License Compliance Services, Inc., Alamy, including that Inc., and Alamy Ltd. collectively moved to dismiss all claims of plaintiffs Carol Highsmith and This is America!, Inc. under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act,... the Lanham Act,... New York General Business Law,... and New York common law of unfair competition," the Judge wrote. "Upon consideration, the Court grants defendants' motions,â he added. With the federal claims gone, three state law claims were including that Getty charged licensing fees for images when it shouldn't have and collected settlements from alleged infringers when it had no right. However, these claims have now also been dismissed, along with the rest of the case. "It is hereby stipulated and agreed, by and among the parties, that this action shall be dismissed with prejudice pursuant to Rule 41(a)(l)(A)(ii) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, each party to bear its own costs and fees," the Judge wrote in his dismissal. Since the case was dismissed with prejudice, it is done and cannot be brought back to court.
NASA

Final NASA Eagleworks Paper Confirms Promising EM Drive Results (hacked.com) 477

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Hacked: Earlier this month Hacked reported that a draft version of the much expected EmDrive paper by the NASA Eagleworks team, had been leaked. Now, the final version of the paper has been published. The NASA Eagleworks paper, titled "Measurement of Impulsive Thrust from a Closed Radio-Frequency Cavity in Vacuum," has been published online as an open access "article in advance" in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)'s Journal of Propulsion and Power, a prestigious peer-reviewed journal. The paper will appear in the December print issue of the journal. The final version of the paper is very similar to the leaked draft. In particular, the NASA scientists confirm the promising experimental results: "Thrust data from forward, reverse, and null suggested that the system was consistently performing at 1.2 +/- 0.1 mNkW, which was very close to the average impulsive performance measured in air. A number of error sources were considered and discussed." The scientists add that, though the test campaign was not focused on optimizing performance and was more an exercise in existence proof, it is still useful to put the observed thrust-to-power figure of 1.2 mN/kW in context. "[For] missions with very large delta-v requirements, having a propellant consumption rate of zero could offset the higher power requirements. The 1.2 mN/kW performance parameter is over two orders of magnitude higher than other forms of 'zero propellant' propulsion, such as light sails, laser propulsion, and photon rockets having thrust-to-power levels in the 3.33--6.67 uN/kW (or 0.0033--0.0067 mN/kW) range." In other words, a modest thrust without having to carry fuel can be better, especially for long-distance space missions, than a higher thrust at the cost of having to carry bulky and heavy propellant reserves, and the EmDrive performs much better than the other "zero propellant" propulsion systems studied to date.

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