Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


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Submission + - US DOJ Sets Up Email Address to Receive Tips About George Zimmerman (

brian0918 writes: The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the US Department of Justice has just setup an email address to be used specifically by the public to assist in building a civil rights case against George Zimmerman. On a conference call between DOJ officials and various civil rights organizations, "DOJ officials announced they had set up a way for people to send email tips that could help aid in their investigation. The email address will be operational later this week."

Submission + - Oregon State University Fires Climate Change Skeptic ( 2

brian0918 writes: "With finals approaching, Oregon State University chemistry professor Nicholas Drapela was fired without warning. Three weeks later, he has still been given no reason for the university’s decision to 'not renew his contract'. Drapela, an outspoken critic of man-made climate change, worked at the university for 10 years and was well-liked by students. Oregon physicist Gordon J. Fulks, another critic of anthropogenic climate change, has circulated a letter in defense of Drapela."

Submission + - Climategate spreads to Wikipedia ( 14

sparkydevil writes: Some catnip to those who have long argued about administrator bias and groupthink in Wikipedia.

Canada's National Post reports here and here that one of the objectives of those promoting Climate alarm was to control Wikipedia. Starting in February 2003 U.K. scientist and Green Party activist William Connolley, one of nine team members, rewrote Wikipedia'½Â½Â(TM)s articles on global warming, on the greenhouse effect, on the instrumental temperature record, on the urban heat island, on climate models, on global cooling as well as working to erase the Little Ice Age, the Medieval Warm Period and infamous hockey stick graph. He rewrote articles on the politics of global warming and on the scientists who were skeptical of the team.

According to the article Connolly created or rewrote 5,428 unique Wikipedia articles, removed more than 500 articles as an administrator and barred over 2000 Wikipedia contributors while rewarding those who supported his views. "In these ways, Connolley turned Wikipedia into the missionary wing of the global warming movement."

Submission + - Analysis of CRU Files Concludes They Were Leaked ( 3

MyFirstNameIsPaul writes: Through an analysis of the files themselves, and not their content, Lance Levsen concludes that the CRU files were leaked. Here is his conclusion:

"It is most likely that the FOI Officer at the University put it on an anonymous ftp server or that it resided on a shared folder that many people had access to and some curious individual looked at it.

If as some say, this was a targeted crack, then the cracker would have had to have back-doors and access to every machine at UEA and not just the CRU. It simply isn't reasonable for the FOI Officer to have kept the collection on a CRU system where CRU people had access, but rather used a UEA system.

Occam's razor concludes that "the simplest explanation or strategy tends to be the best one". The simplest explanation in this case is that someone at UEA found it and released it to the wild and the release of wasn't because of some hacker, but because of a leak from UEA by a person with scruples."

The significance being that a leak indicates a worker unhappy with the integrity of the organization. Or someone who likes ot make big messes.


Submission + - What do Bird Feathers and Beer Foam Have in Common ( 1

Rational Egoist writes: "Researchers at Yale University have found that some of the brightest colors in bird feathers are created through structures similar in origin and composition to that of beer foam. Unlike with most colors in nature — which are produced by pigments — the bright blue colors of Bluebirds and Blue Jays are actually produced by sponge-like nanostructures. These structures are formed in quite the same way as beer foam. From the article: "[Researchers] compared the nanostructures to examples of materials undergoing phase separation, in which mixtures of different substances become unstable and separate from one another, such as the carbon-dioxide bubbles that form when the top is popped off a bubbly drink. They found that the color-producing structures in feathers appear to self-assemble in much the same manner. Bubbles of water form in a protein-rich soup inside the living cell and are replaced with air as the feather grows.""

Submission + - Afghan Student Gets 20 Years for Blasphemy (

Invisible Pink Unicorn writes: "Despite nationwide public support for his initial death sentence, a three-judge appeals court has reduced the sentence of Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh to 20 years in prison. Kambakhsh was charged with circulating an article on women's rights that he found online. From the article: "Family members have said Kambakhsh was beaten and threatened with death until he signed a confession and that local journalists who expressed support for him were warned they would be arrested if they persisted.""

Submission + - School Board Adopts GPA-Redistribution Plan (

An anonymous reader writes: Citing the dismal state of education in America, and the area's high poverty rate, the Coachella Valley Unified School District of Riverside County, California, is transitioning to a planned GPA-redistribution system. The program, which the board passed with a 5-2 majority at their September 11th meeting, would redistribute grade point averages (GPA) among students at their four high schools and three middle schools according to a "tiered system of excellence." Students with the lowest GPAs from poor families would receive incremental GPA "boosts", which in turn would be deducted from students with higher GPAs.

Submission + - Gamma Ray Burst Visible at Record Distance (

Invisible Pink Unicorn writes: "A gamma ray burst detected on March 19 by NASA's Swift satellite has set a new record for the most distant object that could be seen with the naked eye. The burst had a measured redshift of 0.94, which translates into a distance of 7.5 billion light years, meaning the explosion took place 7.5 billion years ago. The optical afterglow from heated gas was 2.5 million times more luminous than the most luminous supernova ever recorded, making it the most intrinsically bright object ever observed by humans in the universe. The previous most distant object visible to the naked eye is the nearby galaxy M33, a relatively short 2.9 million light years from Earth."
Social Networks

Submission + - Facebook photos land Eden Prairie kids in trouble

slim-t writes: The Star Tribune is reporting that students have been disciplined for photos of them on Facebook. "Eden Prairie High School administrators have reprimanded more than 100 students and suspended some from sports and other extracurricular activities after obtaining Facebook photos of students partying, several students said Tuesday." Is the school right to do this? My opinion is that the students should know not to post pictures of yourself breaking the law.
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Most Absurd Example of False Tech Advertising?

Invisible Pink Unicorn writes: "In several of the NCAA football bowls that aired this postseason, the DLP technology developed by Texas Instruments was advertised in a particularly misleading way — by plastering a bunch of "DLP" logos on a normal camera, they implied that the camera somehow utilized the DLP technology that's used in televisions and projectors. We also recently saw James Randi offer $1M to anyone who can prove that a pair of $7,250 Pear Anjou speaker cables do anything out of the ordinary. What other particularly egregious examples of false advertising in technology have other readers encountered?"

Submission + - £27,000 bill for using mobile phone as a

biscuitfever11 writes: A British man is facing a bill of £27,000 ($54,000) for using his mobile phone as a modem for his PC.,1000000085,39291766,00.htm

The guy who got caught out is just a factory worker, and actually signed an expensive contract with Vodafone to allow him to download data. He says he may now have to bankrupt as a result. This is starting a trend after a Canadian man got caught with a $81,000 bill only a couple of weeks ago, again for using his mobile as a modem.

The phone companies are telling people not to use their phone as a modem, but sometimes this is the fastest connection you gonna get. It's just rotten luck that the phone companies see fit to charge such extortionate amounts.

Submission + - Solar System Date of Birth Determined (

Invisible Pink Unicorn writes: "UC Davis researchers have dated the earliest step in the formation of the solar system — when microscopic interstellar dust coalesced into mountain-sized chunks of rock — to 4,568 million years ago, within a range of about 2,080,000 years. In the second stage, mountain-sized masses grew quickly into about 20 Mars-sized planets and, in the third and final stage, these small planets smashed into each other in a series of giant collisions that left the planets we know today. The dates of these intermediary stages are well established. The article abstract is available from Astrophysical Journal Letters."

Submission + - Gamma Ray Burst From the Middle of Nowhere (

Invisible Pink Unicorn writes: "A team of astronomers has discovered a cosmic explosion that seems to have come from the middle of nowhere — 88,000 light years from the nearest galaxy-sized collection of stars, gas, and dust. This "shot in the dark" is surprising because the type of explosion, a long-duration gamma-ray burst (GRB), is thought to be powered by the death of a massive star. The question is, how did such a massive star develop in a region completely devoid of gas or dust? One possibility is that the star formed in the outskirts of an interacting galaxy, as seen in the famous Hubble Space Telescope picture of the 'Tadpole' galaxy."

Submission + - The Immune System can Deliver Cancer-Killing Virus (

Invisible Pink Unicorn writes: "Mayo Clinic researchers have designed a technique that uses the body's own cells and a virus to destroy cancer cells that spread from primary tumors to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system. This procedure triggered an immune response to cancer cells, which means that it could be used as a cancer vaccine to prevent recurrence. They combined infection-fighting T-cells with the vesicular stomatitis virus that targets and destroys cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed. To deliver the virus, researchers removed T-cells from a healthy mouse, loaded them with the virus and injected the T-cells back into the mouse. Researchers found that once the T-cells returned to the lymph nodes and spleen, the virus detached itself from the T-cells, found the tumor cells, selectively replicated within them and extracted tumor cells from those areas."

Submission + - Deep Impact Probe to Look for Earth-sized Planets (

Invisible Pink Unicorn writes: "NASA has given University of Maryland scientists the green light to fly the Deep Impact probe to Comet Hartley 2. The spacecraft will fly by Earth on New Year's Eve at the beginning of a more than two-and-a-half-year journey to Hartley 2. During the first six months of the journey to Hartley 2, they will use the larger of the two telescopes on Deep Impact to search for Earth-sized planets around five stars selected as likely candidates for such planets. Upon arriving at the comet, Deep Impact will conduct an extended flyby of Hartley 2 using all three of the spacecraft's instruments — two telescopes with digital color cameras and an infrared spectrometer."

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