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Submission + - New Class Of Black Holes Discovered (

basil64 writes: Hadley Leggett reports today on that astrophysicists at the French Centre d'Etude Spatiale des Rayonnements using the ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray space telescope have discovered what they believe to be the first 'medium' sized black hole ( with a mass aprroximately 500 times that of the Sun) called "Hyper-Lumonous X-Ray Source 1. "The existence of such intermediate-mass black holes is in dispute," the French scientists wrote Wednesday in Nature, "and though many candidates have been proposed, none are widely accepted as definitive." The purported singularity is located in the edge of the ESO 243-49 galaxy.

Submission + - The Hysteria of the Cyber-Warriors (

Willfro writes: Evgeney Morozov has a piece up now at Boston Review about the hyperbole and reality of "cyber war".

"At the end of May, President Obama called cyber-security 'one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.' His words echo a flurry of gloomy think-tank reports. Unfortunately, these reports are usually richer in vivid metaphor--with fears of "digital Pearl Harbors" and "cyber-Katrinas"--than in factual foundation.

So why is there so much concern about "cyber-terrorism"? Answering a question with a question: who frames the debate? Much of the data are gathered by ultra-secretive government agencies--which need to justify their own existence--and cyber-security companies--which derive commercial benefits from popular anxiety. Journalists do not help. Gloomy scenarios and speculations about cyber-Armaggedon draw attention, even if they are relatively short on facts.


Submission + - The Bottomless DVD (

SkyDude writes: This PC Magazine article, written by Mark Hachman, is in the July issue:

Imagine storing 10,000 standard--definition movies on one disc. Sound impossible? Not to a team of Australian researchers. The team recently published a report in the journal Nature in which it details its development of a "five-dimensional" storage medium that promises to store up 10 terabytes on a single disc.

Peter Zijlstra, James W.M. Chon, and Min Gu of the Swinburne University of Technology found a way to combine addressing data using wavelength, polarization, and three spatial dimensions, creating the so-called five dimensions of addressable space. The approach allows for a storage density of a terabit of information in just a cubic centimeter of space.

Mixing and matching different methods of addressing data has been tried using individual methods, the researchers said. In fact, writing data to a three-dimensional storage medium has been one of the hallmarks of holographic storage. But for five-dimensional storage, the team projected information into the material using different color wavelengths. Additional information was then added by polarizing the light, first at a fixed orientation and then by rotating the filter 90 degrees. Data was read using a technique called "longitudinal SPR--mediated 2-photon luminescence."

It's difficult to say, however, how easily a solution like this might be moved into production, since the medium used to store the information is a network of gold nanorods.

"The major hurdle is the lack of a suitable recording medium that is extremely selective in the domains of wavelength and polarization," the researchers wrote in an abstract. Nonetheless, companies such as Samsung have already expressed interest.


Submission + - Comets Probably Seeded Earth's Nitrogen Atmosphere (

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 + - Mining Asteroids and Getting Rich (or not) (

astroengine writes: "Asteroid mining is a popular industry in sci-fi novels and space visions of the future. Asteroids are great because they contain a huge wealth of precious metals and handy ores... right? Actually, asteroid mining is far from being a practical reality for many decades, as there is one thing that always gets in the way: profit.

From Space Disco:

"But while our musings about exploiting the vast resources of asteroids are all well and good, we need to keep in mind that for mining corporations to devote the time and effort to the idea, asteroid mining needs to be a profitable line of business which brings in a tidy sum at the end of the fiscal year and looks good on a balance sheet. Considering that major mining conglomerates have annual revenues between $30 and $50 billion, that number has to be very big."



Submission + - The Galaxy's 62-Million Year Extinction Oscillator

Hugh Pickens writes: "Cosmologist Adrian Mellott has an interesting article in Seed Magazine where he discusses his search for the mechanism behind the mass extinctions in earth's history that seem to occur with a period of about 62 million years. Scientists have identified nearly 20 mass extinctions throughout the fossil record including the end-Permian event about 250 million years ago that killed off about 95 percent of life on Earth and the mass extinction at end of the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago when dinosaurs' domination of the earth reached its end. Mellott notes that as our solar system slowly orbits the Milky Way's center, it oscillates through the galactic plane with a period of around 65 million years. "The space between galaxies is not empty. It's actually full of rarefied hot gas," says Mellott. "As our galaxy falls into the Local Supercluster, it should disturb this gas and create a shock wave, like the bow shock of a jet plane" generating cascades of high-energy subatomic particles and radiation called "cosmic rays" causing enhanced cloud formation and depletion of the ozone layer killing off many small organisms at the base of the food chain and potentially leading to a population crash. So where is the earth now in the 62-million year extinction cycle? "If the past is any guide, we are on the downside of biodiversity, a few million years from hitting bottom," writes Mellott. "We now must try to understand the 62-million year cycle itself by seeking correlations with things like the rate of seabed fossil formation or the rates of species origination and extinction. Only by gathering these clues can we fathom the diversity recession that seems to lie in our geological future.""
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - People reject free money out of anger (

puff3456 writes: The Ultimatum Game, in which test subjects respond to take-it-or-leave-it offers, has allowed psychologists to explore how humans handle issues like fairness and punishment. But a new study shows some people attempt to punish even when the rules of the game are stacked in a way that makes it impossible.

Submission + - New attempt at Internet censorship in Italy ( 3

myrrdyn writes: There is a new law proposed in Italian Senate to block online publication of information about past criminal trials. Main point of this proposal (link in Italian) is to ensure an "oblivion right" to those condemned for past crimes/misdemeanor, i.e. the right to have publication about past offenses removed from public view. What is troubling about this is that in current form (yet to be discussed) no exemption are contemplated, except for terrorism, life sentences and such. Under the hood of privacy concern there is a serious attempt to limit liberty of speech and liberty of press. Is not a small coincidence that the proposer (On. Carolina Lussana) has an husband (Mr. Galati, elected in the Deputy Chamber) who was condemned some years ago in criminal trials, and the two together are in the coalition lead by Silvio Berlusconi, who also faced (and is facing) trials related to judge corruptions and much more
Operating Systems

Submission + - EXT4, Btrfs, NILFS2 Performance Benchmarks (

An anonymous reader writes: Phoronix has published Linux filesystem benchmarks comparing XFS, EXT3, EXT4, Btrfs and NILFS2 filesystems. This is the first time that the new EXT4 and Btrfs and NILFS2 filesystems have been directly compared when it comes to their disk performance though the results may surprise. For the most part, EXT4 came out on top.

Submission + - Firefox Standard Will Combat Cross-Site-Scripting (

Al writes: "The Mozilla foundation is to adopt a new standard to help web site's prevent cross site scripting (XSS) attacks. The standard, called Content Security Policy (CSP), will let a website specify what Internet domains are allowed to host the scripts that run on its pages. This breaks with Web browsers' tradition of treating all scripts the same way by requiring that websites put their scripts in separate files and explicitly state which domains are allowed to run the scripts. The Mozilla Foundation selected the implementation because it allows sites to choose whether to adopt the restrictions. "The severity of the XSS problem in the wild and the cost of implementing CSP as a mitigation are open to interpretation by individual sites," Brandon Sterne, security program manager for Mozilla, wrote on Mozilla Security Blog. "If the cost versus benefit doesn't make sense for some site, they're free to keep doing business as usual."

Submission + - Scottish Minister wants to stop national ID cards (

basil64 writes: "Kable is reporting on The Register that Scottish Minister for community safety Fergus Ewing has written to the home secretary in Whitehall opposing plans for a national ID card system. "Given the current financial climate, I believe the UK government should have better uses for the vast sums of money being spent on this scheme which presents an unacceptable threat to citizens' privacy and civil liberties, with little tangible evidence to suggest it will do anything to safeguard against crime and terrorism." The UK is planning on following EU plans for a standard biometric ID card system under the by-now-standard excuse of combatting terrorism. Nice to see that not all parts of the UK are not just falling in line with EU security strategies."

Submission + - Spreading Open Source in Schools: Sugar on a Stick (

griffjon writes: "Sugar on a Stick is the OLPC interface, updated by SugarLabs, to a bootable Fedora 11 that maintains changes on a USB stick. It can run on any computer (after rebooting) or in qemu. Kids got to test-drive Sugar on OLPCs and other networks at a school fair, which is an interesting way for OSS to get a foot in the door in schools where teachers send home MS Word assignments: "[My daughter] brought [her teacher] a USB stick with OOo and an offer on my part to assist in setting up the lab with free software; I didn't hear back, but I didn't hear about Word any more, either.""

Submission + - GPUs Are Good For More Than Gaming

Hugh Pickens writes: "Dr. Dobb's reports that the graphics processing units (GPUs) available in video gaming computers and consoles are very efficient at manipulating and displaying computer graphics and their highly parallel structure also make them more efficient than a general-purpose central processing unit for a range of complex calculations important to defense applications. "As radar systems and other sensor systems get more complicated, the computational requirements are becoming a bottleneck," says Daniel Campbell. "We are capitalizing on the ability of GPUs to process radar, infrared sensor and video data faster than a typical computer and at a much lower cost and power than a computing cluster." Mark Richards at Georgia Tech Research Institute is leading a team to rewrite common signal processing commands in the Vector, Signal and Image Processing Library (VSIPL), an open standard developed by embedded signal and image processing hardware and software vendors, targeting GPUs supporting NVIDIA's CUDA platform but the underlying principles can be applied to GPUs developed by other companies. Studies have shown that VSIPL functions operate between 20 and 350 times faster on a GPU than a central processing unit, depending on the function and size of the data set. "The results are not surprising because GPUs excel at performing repetitive arithmetic tasks like those in VSIPL, such as signal processing functions like Fourier transforms, spectral analysis, image formation and noise filtering," says Richards. "We've just alleviated the need for engineers to understand the entire GPU architecture by simply providing them with a library of routines that they frequently use.""
Wireless Networking

Submission + - Comcast bringing metropolitan WiMAX to subscribers (

RickRussellTX writes: "Comcast plans to offer 4 megabits/sec WiMAX services to customers in Portland, Oregon starting tomorrow. Branded as "Comcast High-Speed 2go" and "4G", the service will require a $44.99 per month subscription in addition to existing Comcast home service. For $69.99 they will offer a dual-mode card with access to both Comcast WiMAX and Sprint's national 3G wireless network. Future rollouts are planned for Chicago, Philadelphia, and Atlanta.

Say what you will about Comcast (and I know many Slashdot readers have plenty to say about Comcast), this is a daring attempt to bypass entrenched cell phone companies with a direct-to-consumer wireless service."

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