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A Hyper-Velocity Impact In the Asteroid Belt? 114

astroengine writes "Astronomers have spotted something rather odd in the asteroid belt. It looks like a comet, but it's got a circular orbit, similar to an asteroid. Whether it's an asteroid or a comet, it has a long, comet-like tail, suggesting something is being vented into space. Some experts think it could be a very rare comet/asteroid hybrid being heated by the sun, but there's an even more exciting possibility: It could be the first ever observation of two asteroids colliding in the asteroid belt."

Dad Delivers Baby Using Wiki Screenshot-sm 249

sonamchauhan writes "A Londoner helped his wife deliver their baby by Googling 'how to deliver a baby' on his mobile phone. From the article: 'Today proud Mr Smith said: "The midwife had checked Emma earlier in the day but contractions started up again at about 8pm so we called the midwife to come back. But then everything happened so quickly I realized Emma was going to give birth. I wasn't sure what I was going to do so I just looked up the instructions on the internet using my BlackBerry."'"
The Internet

Wikipedia Approaches Its Limits 564

Reservoir Hill writes "The Guardian reports that a study by Ed H Chi demonstrates that the character of Wikipedia has changed significantly since Wikipedia's first burst of activity between 2004 and 2007. While the encyclopedia is still growing overall, the number of articles being added has reduced from an average of 2,200 a day in July 2007 to around 1,300 today while at the same time, the base of highly active editors has remained more or less static. Chi's team discovered that the way the site operates had changed significantly from the early days, when it ran an open-door policy that allowed in anyone with the time and energy to dedicate to the project. Today, they discovered, a stable group of high-level editors has become increasingly responsible for controlling the encyclopedia, while casual contributors and editors are falling away. 'We found that if you were an elite editor, the chance of your edit being reverted was something in the order of 1% — and that's been very consistent over time from around 2003 or 2004,' says Chi. 'For editors that make between two and nine edits a month, the percentage of their edits being reverted had gone from 5% in 2004 all the way up to about 15% by October 2008. And the 'onesies' — people who only make one edit a month — their edits are now being reverted at a 25% rate.' While Chi points out that this does not necessarily imply causation, he suggests it is concrete evidence to back up what many people have been saying: that it is increasingly difficult to enjoy contributing to Wikipedia unless you are part of the site's inner core of editors. Wikipedia's growth pattern suggests that it is becoming like a community where resources have started to run out. 'As you run out of food, people start competing for that food, and that results in a slowdown in population growth and means that the stronger, more well-adapted part of the population starts to have more power.'"
Internet Explorer

Reports of IE Hijacking NXDOMAINs, Routing To Bing 230

Jaeden Stormes writes "We just started getting word of a new browser hijack from our sales force. 'Some site called Bing?' they said. Sure enough, since the patches last night, their IE6 and IE7 installations are now routing all NXDOMAINs to Bing. Try it out — put in something like www.DoNotHijackMe.com." We've had mixed results here confirming this: one report that up-to-date IE8 behaves as described. Others tried installing all offered updates to systems running IE6 and IE7 and got no hijacking.
Update: 08/11 23:24 GMT by KD : Readers are reporting that it's not Bing that comes up for a nonexistent domain, it's the user's default search engine (noting that at least one Microsoft update in the past changed the default to Bing). There may be nothing new here.

XML Library Flaw — Sun, Apache, GNOME Affected 140

bednarz writes with this excerpt from Network World: "Vulnerabilities discovered in XML libraries from Sun, the Apache Software Foundation, the Python Software Foundation and the GNOME Project could result in successful denial-of-service attacks on applications built with them, according to Codenomicon. The security vendor found flaws in XML parsers that made it fairly easy to cause a DoS attack, corruption of data, and delivery of a malicious payload using XML-based content. Codenomicon has shared its findings with industry and the open source groups, and a number of recommendations and patches for the XML-related vulnerabilities are expected to be made available Wednesday. In addition, a general security advisory is expected to be published by the Computer Emergency Response Team in Finland (CERT-FI)."
Role Playing (Games)

Sims 3 Expansion Announced 84

EA has announced that The Sims 3 will be getting its first expansion pack on November 16th, titled World Adventures. It will be available at first for the PC and Mac clients, and later for mobile platforms. "Players can take their Sims on new journeys to famous real-world inspired destinations around the globe for the first time ever and seek out new adventures. ... From mastering martial arts in Shang Simla, China, discovering rich culture and famous landmarks on a romantic getaway to Champs Les Sims, France or exploring the depths of ancient tombs in Al Simhara, Egypt, players can take their Sims on a journey that will change their Sims' lives." EA's Lyndsay Pearson spoke further about the expansion in an interview with IGN.

NASA Suggests Nano Robots To Explore Mars 104

destinyland writes "'We're going to have to do extensive robotic exploration,' says the director of NASA's Ames Research Center, suggesting nanotechnology to build self-replicating robots on Mars. Genetically engineering extraction and construction microbes could 'grow' electrical components, and eventually convert carbon dioxide on Mars into oxygen. 'If we really want to settle Mars, and we don't want to have to carry millions of tons of equipment with us to duplicate the way we live on Earth, these technologies will be key.' This interview with Peter Worden, the director of NASA's Ames Research Center, was just featured in the summer issue of H+ magazine, and he also argues that robots will be necessary to first survey Mars for underground microbes and protect the unique Martian biosphere, since it may contain clues about earth's own first life forms. In fact, given the water and carbon that's been discovered on Mars, the possibility of underground microbes is still considered real, and Worden argues that Mars 'may already be supporting life.'"

The Incredible Shrinking Genome 113

Shipud writes "Mammalian genomes have been shrinking for about 65 million years, roughly since the dinosaur extinction. Why? And why were ancient mammalian genomes three times larger than they are today? A new article in Genome Biology and Evolution tries to explain this bizarre finding, and why the genomes of mammals (but not of other living groups) are still shrinking. 'Once [the dinosaurs] were gone, mammals started to radiate, fill those niches, and a whole new level of competition arose. The selective advantage of not having a genome encumbered by potentially damaging mobile DNA elements has probably become critical at this "be ye fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein" stage. In effect, the genomes of mammals has been shrinking by removing mobile DNA elements, just after the KT boundary. And according to the model presented in this study, this process is still ongoing: mammalian genomes are not at an equilibrium size. Unlike flies, mammals are still cleaning up.'"

Submission + - Comets Probably Seeded Earth's Nitrogen Atmosphere (technologyreview.com)

KentuckyFC writes: "One of the biggest puzzles of astrobiology is the origin of the Earth's oceans and atmosphere. One favoured theory is that our water is the leftovers from a bombardment of comets early in Earth's history. But the ratio of hydrogen and deuterium in the oceans doesn't match the ratio in the four comets measured so far (Halley's, Hyakutake, Hale-Bopp and C/2002 T7 LINEAR). Now a new analysis of the ratio of nitrogen-14 and 15 isotopes in these comets and on Earth places new limits on how much of our environment could have come from comets. On the one hand, the astronomers who did the work say that no more than a few percent of Earth's water could have come from comets. But on the other, they say that the ratio of nitrogen isotopes in these comets almost exactly matches the ratio in Earth's atmosphere. That suggests that while Earth's oceans must have come from somewhere else, Earth's early atmosphere was probably seeded by comets."

Submission + - Hackers target Neopets users

An anonymous reader writes: If you have children that play on the popular virtual world game Neopets, you might want to warn them of a social engineering scam gleefully targeting "twelve year old kids". Neopets users looking for rare items are sent private messages from the hackers, who direct them to sites hosting keyloggers & trojans. They then use the infected PC as a means to get to data the parents might have stored there, be it credit card details, Paypal accounts or online banking. Seeing the screenshots of some of these people talking about putting these children into botnets is just unbelievable — if ever you wanted proof that people up to no good online will go to any lengths to get their hands on some money (or even just feel good about outsmarting a twelve year old), here it is.

Pulsar Signals Could Provide Galactic GPS 146

KentuckyFC writes "We're all familiar with GPS. It consists of a network of satellites that each broadcast a time signal. A receiver on Earth can then work out its position in three-dimensional space by comparing the arrival times of the signals from at least three satellites. That's handy, but it only works on Earth. Now astronomers say that the millisecond signals from a network of pulsars could allow GPS-style navigation on a galactic scale. They propose using four pulsars that form a rough tetrahedron with the Solar System at its center, and a co-ordinate system with its origin at 00:00 on 1 January 2001 at the focal point of the Interplanetary Scintillation Array, the radio telescope near Cambridge in the UK that first observed pulsars. The additional complexity of working with signals over these distances is that relativity has to be taken into account (which is why the origin is defined as a point in space-time rather than just space). The pulsar GPS system should allow users to determine their position in space-time anywhere in the galaxy to within a few nanoseconds, which corresponds to an accuracy of about a meter." Pulsars slow down over time, and the arXiv paper doesn't seem to mention this. The paper is mainly about establishing a coordinate system and a reference selection of pulsars. Any proposed Galactic Positioning System would have to take the slowing into account, and since it is poorly understood and not completely predictable, this would limit accuracy.

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