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Submission + - US State Department Can't Get Rid of Email Hackers (

An anonymous reader writes: Three months after the State Department confirmed hackers breached its unclassified email system, the government still hasnt been able to evict them from the network, say three people familiar with the investigation. Government officials, assisted by outside contractors and the National Security Agency, have repeatedly scanned the network and taken some systems offline. But investigators still see signs of the hackers on State Department computers, the people familiar with the matter said. Each time investigators find a hacker tool and block it, these people said, the intruders tweak it slightly to attempt to sneak past defenses. It isn’t clear how much data the hackers have taken, the people said. They reaffirmed what the State Department said in November: that the hackers appear to have access only to unclassified email. Still, unclassified material can contain sensitive intelligence.

Submission + - The best—and worst—places to drive your electric car (

sciencehabit writes: For those tired of winter, you’re not alone. Electric cars hate the cold, too. Researchers have conducted the first investigation into how electric vehicles fare in different U.S. climates. The verdict: Electric car buyers in the chilly Midwest and sizzling Southwest get less bang for their buck, where poor energy efficiency and coal power plants unite to turn electric vehicles into bigger polluters.

Submission + - Jellyfish are attacking nuclear power plants (

Lasrick writes: The power plant shutdowns (both nuclear and non-nuclear) that jellyfish cause are increasing, possibly due to warming oceans. And it's not just jellyfish: algae and kelp are responsible for wreaking havoc on filtering systems that are proving no match for aquatic life. 'Jellyfish and algae have assaulted nuclear power plants in the United States, Canada, Scotland, Sweden, Japan, and France. In Scotland alone, two reactors at the country’s Torness power station had to shut down in a single week when the seawater they used as a coolant was inundated with jellyfish. (Because of their tremendous need for cool water, nuclear power plants are often located next to oceans and other naturally occurring large bodies of water.)' The IAEA warns that current monitoring and removal systems in place for 'biological fouling' are inadequate and that warming waters are going to cause more and more of these incidents, the costs of which are astronomical.

Submission + - Can Slashdot Share User Statistics on Mod Points?

An anonymous reader writes: I've been visiting /. off and on since the 90s (though I lost an account and started over about 13 years ago). I'm trying to discern whether it's my imagination, or whether the sniping and trolling is getting worse. It occurred to me that Slashdot may be able to track how many "moderation" points are being used to send comments to -1 as a possible indicator (though not proof) that there are more trolls about. Or the percentage over the years of comments posted "anonymously". And what are the demographics for posts from Europe, Asia, etc? What's going on Slashdot? Is the neighborhood getting a little seedy?

Submission + - NIST: Crystal Pattern Matching Recovers Obliterated Serial Numbers from Metal (

chicksdaddy writes: Criminals beware: researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have figured out how to recover serial numbers obliterated from metal surfaces such as firearms and automobiles — a common problem in forensic examinations.

Law enforcement agencies use serial numbers to track ownership of firearms and build criminal cases. But serial numbers can be removed by scratching, grinding or other methods. Analysts typically try to restore the numbers with acid or electrolytic etching or polishing, because deformed areas behave differently from undamaged material. But these methods don’t always work.

According to this report ( NIST researchers used a technique called electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) to read, in the crystal structure pattern, imprints on steel that had been removed by polishing.

In EBSD, a scanning electron microscope scans a beam of electrons over the surface of a crystalline material such as a metal. The electrons strike atoms in the target and bounce back. Because the atoms are arranged in a regular pattern, the scattered electrons interact and form patterns that reveal the crystal’s structure on a scale down to tens of nanometers. The more perfect the crystal structure, the stronger and clearer the pattern. Software can then calculate the pattern quality to reveal crystal damage; areas with more damage produce lower quality patterns.

In the NIST experiments, described in Forensic Science International,* researchers hammered the letter “X” into a polished stainless steel plate. The letter stamps were as deep as 140 micrometers, meeting federal regulations for firearm serial numbers. The researchers then polished the metal again to remove all visible traces of the letters, and collected the EBSD diffraction patterns and pattern quality data and analyzed them for evidence of the imprints.

Comment Mail in ballots work better (Score 1) 480

Here in Colorado we just held an all mail in election. Every voter is mailed a ballot. You had roughly 3 weeks to do research and vote. I believe voter turnout was just over 70%. Certainly fewer excuses for not voting. Would also help fight voter fraud, if and when there is ever any evidence of this right-wing ruse designed to suppress voter turnout.

Submission + - Cosmos: The Climate Change Episode

capsfan100 writes: Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, with his new hit series Cosmos, has awakened in many of us our love of science.
Tonight, he finally tackled climate change head on after alluding to it many times previously. As with every episode, he and Seth MacFarlane wove amazing computer graphics, detailed scientific evidence and animated historical story telling into an easy to comprehend documentary.
They demonstrated why human caused global warming is "a pretty tight case," and beautifully explained the adverse affects of carbon pollution from human activities like burning coal and oil, at one point "visualizing" the CO2 in a typical city.
Using a fascinating array of video to explain the scientific understanding of climate change and other natural mechanics like positive feedback loops, we're warned our kids are in for "a rough ride."
I don't want to spoil the end, but let's just say they remain optimistic, pointing out its not an impossible predicament — we know what the solutions are, we just need the political will and courage to do what needs to be done.
Did tonight's episode inspire you enough to share it with others? To take any other action? If you missed it live tonight, it will be on Hulu tomorrow.

Submission + - Curved TVs Nothing But A Gimmick (

Lucas123 writes: Currently, the hottest trend from TV manufacturers is to offer curved panels, but analysts say it's nothing more than a ploy to pander to consumers who want the latest, coolest-looking tech in their home. In the end, the TVs don't offer better picture quality. In fact, they offer a degraded view to anyone sitting off center. Samsung and LG claim that the curve provides a cinema-like experience by offering a more balanced and uniform view so that the edges of the set don't appear further away than the middle. Paul Gray, director of European TV Research for DisplaySearch, said those claims are nothing by pseudo-science. "Curved screens are a gimmick, much along the same lines as 3D TVs are," said Paul O'Donovan, Gartner's principal analyst for consumer electronics research.

Submission + - NSA "Knows the way you think" (

mspohr writes: “As you write a message, you know, an analyst at the NSA or any other service out there that’s using this kind of attack against people can actually see you write sentences and then backspace over your mistakes and then change the words and then kind of pause and — and — and think about what you wanted to say and then change it. And it’s this extraordinary intrusion not just into your communications, your finished messages but your actual drafting process, into the way you think.”

More information here:

Submission + - Why David Deutsch's New Theory of Reality is Deeper Than Quantum Mechanics

KentuckyFC writes: In 1948, the Bell Labs mathematician and engineer Claude Shannon published The Mathematical Theory of Communication (pdf). In it, he laid out the basic process of communication and formally introduced ideas such as information, the role of transmitters and receivers as well as the idea of a channel and its capacity to carry information. This theory now forms the basis of all digital communication so it's no exaggeration to say that it has been hugely influential. By contrast, no equivalent theory exists for quantum information, despite decades of work by quantum theorists. That could all change now thanks to the work of David Deutsch, a theoretical physicist, who has developed a theory that links classical and quantum information using a deeper theoretical framework. Deutsch's new approach is called constructor theory and it turns the conventional approach to physics on its head. Physicists currently ply their trade by explaining the world in terms of initial conditions and laws of motion. This leads to a distinction between what happens and what does not happen. By contrast, Deutsch’s new fundamental principle is that all laws of physics are expressible entirely in terms of the physical transformations that are possible and those that are impossible. In other words, the laws of physics do not tell you what is possible and impossible, they are the result of what is possible and impossible. So reasoning about the physical transformations that are possible and impossible leads to the laws of physics. He uses this approach to develop a number of principles that all physical laws must follow, both those that are known and those that are unknown. Consequently, constructor theory must be deeper than all known physical theories such as quantum mechanics and relativity. He draws an analogy between this and conservation laws which are deeper than all other physical laws which must follow them. It's too early to say what impact Deutsch's new approach will have. But he has a spectacular record in physics having been a pioneer of quantum computation in the 1980s and one of the chief exponents of the multiverse, both of which have become mainstream ideas.

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