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Businesses

Company Creates Gun That Looks Like a Cellphone (nbcnews.com) 678

Earthquake Retrofit writes: Sometimes you want to carry your gun in peace, but people keep drawing attention to your piece. This very issue plagued Kirk Kjellberg, the creator of Ideal Conceal, a [.380-caliber pistol] that folds up to look like a smartphone. "A boy spotted me in [a] restaurant and said loudly, 'Mommy, Mommy, that guy's got a gun!' And then pretty much the whole restaurant stared at me," Kjellberg told NBC News. He developed Ideal Conceal to avoid those awkward situations. According to NBC News, "In locked position, the two-shot plastic gun with a metal core can be discreetly slipped into pockets, like a real phone. But 'with one click of the safety it opens and is ready to fire,' Ideal Conceal claims. The Department of Homeland Security has contacted him about the pistol, and he plans on giving them x-rays of it so law enforcement can distinguish it from cellphones during airport screenings. An Ideal Conceal prototype is slated for June, with sales beginning in October. The gun is listed for $395."
Politics

Researcher Measures Brain Reactions To Donald Trump (cnn.com) 290

An anonymous reader writes: Sam Barnett "has been strapping electrode caps on focus group participants and showing them primary season debates," reports CNN, and there's one clear conclusion. "Seeing Trumps face, hearing Trump's voice, lights up the brain." His data captured big surges in neural activity for hot-button topics like immigration, and revealed that while Marco Rubio actually triggered slightly more brain activity among men, Trump clearly produced the highest reactions among women and overall. "The focus group participants might have been excited by Trump. Or they might have been repulsed," reports CNN. "But one thing was for sure: they weren't bored." Barnett has also used electroencephalography (or EEG) to study advertising, and in the future he hopes to also apply it to other complex forms of brain stimulation like movies and even hedge-fund investing.
Earth

Cautious Steps Toward Seabed Mining (maritime-executive.com) 97

mdsolar writes: The deep ocean was once assumed to be lifeless and barren. Today we know that even the deepest waters teem with living creatures, some of them thought to be little changed from when life itself first appeared on the planet. The deep ocean is also essential to the earth's biosphere. It regulates global temperatures, stores carbon, provides habitat for countless species and cycles nutrients for marine food webs. Currently stressed by pollution, industrial fishing, and oil and gas development, these cold, dark waters now face another challenge: mining. With land-based mineral sources in decline, seabeds offer a new and largely untapped frontier for mineral extraction, and companies are gearing up to mine a treasure trove of copper, zinc, gold, manganese, and other minerals from the ocean floor. Scientists, regulators, and mining companies are now collaborating on frameworks and strategies for mining the seabed responsibly. Cindy Van Dover, director of the Duke University Marine Laboratory and chair of the school's Division of Marine Science and Conservation, says that's encouraging, given that seabed mining appears to be inevitable.
Space

Scientists Propose Using Cold War Era Weapons To Deflect Asteroids (blastingnews.com) 114

MarkWhittington writes: Many people are considering what to do if an asteroid was headed for a collision with Earth. One such collision wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Now, films such as "Armageddon" and "Deep Impact" depict what might happen if Earth were threatened with a similar event in modern times. As a result, some people are repurposing weapons that were built or envisioned during the Cold War to confront the celestial threat, from old ICBMs to space-based laser systems.
Spam

BT Announces Free Service To Screen Nuisance Callers (thestack.com) 69

An anonymous reader writes: British telco BT is launching a free landline service for UK customers which promises to divert millions of unwanted calls. A dedicated team at BT will monitor calls made to UK numbers, across its network of over 10 million domestic landlines, to identify suspicious patterns, which could help to filter out nuisance callers. The flagged numbers will then be directed to a junk voicemail box. The company has estimated that the voicemail 'net' will catch up to 25 million cold calls every week. It explained that to achieve this success rate, it would be deploying enormous amounts of compute power to monitor and analyse large amounts of data in real-time.
Biotech

Washington Hosts Summit On Gene Editing and 'Designer Babies' (washingtonpost.com) 137

An anonymous reader sends word that a three-day summit has begun in Washington to discuss the future of genetic engineering. It has a particular focus on the CRISPR technique, which has made gene editing quicker and more robust than ever before. "The reason CRISPR is so controversial is that it works well on 'germline' cells, such as sperm, eggs and embryonic cells, and the genetic editing results in heritable traits. Many scientific organizations have called for a time-out on any experiments on human cells, fearing that this crosses into dicey ethical territory. This meeting in Washington could potentially generate a new call for restraint, or some guidelines in how to handle the explosive technology." Many scientists, lawyers, and policymakers are present at the summit to try to reach consensus on how the scientific community should proceed with such research, and how the fruits of their research should be used. Professor Alta Charo said, "The more we can have effective systems for responsible oversight for the development and deployment of a technology, the more we can take chances. We have the chance to back up at the end, and change course."
Media

Rupert Murdoch Buys National Geographic Magazine 286

dywolf writes: In a move that has inspired "dread" among the publication's journalists, as well as long time readers, Rupert Murdoch has just bought a controlling interest in all of National Geographic's media properties. The move turns the long time non-profit into a for-profit media corporation in the process. Some commenters have pointed to Murdoch's previous collaboration with the National Geographic Society, the NatGeo TV channel, as well other once respected publications he has bought such as the Wall Street Journal, as an example of what to expect, and to explain their apprehension at the deal. This raises a question for reader KatchooNJ: As many of you likely know, Rupert Murdoch has famously not been quiet about his denial of climate change. National Geographic gives grants to scientists... so, is anything going to now change with the focus of National Geographic's organization?
Businesses

Counterterrorism Expert: It's Time To Give Companies Offensive Cybercapabilities 220

itwbennett writes: Juan Zarate, the former deputy national security advisor for counterterrorism during President George W. Bush's administration says the U.S. government should should consider allowing businesses to develop 'tailored hack-back capabilities,' deputizing them to strike back against cyberattackers. The government could issue cyberwarrants, giving a private company license 'to protect its system, to go and destroy data that's been stolen or maybe even something more aggressive,' Zarate said Monday at a forum on economic and cyberespionage hosted by think tank the Hudson Institute.
Programming

Prison Program Aims To Turn Criminals Into Coders 305

Press2ToContinue writes with news that San Quentin, a notorious California prison, has started a program to teach a class of inmates to write code. The first class will last for six months, and the inmates are learning about programming for eight hours a day. The hope is to give them the skills to find a good job after they leave prison, which in turn would reduce their chances of recidivism. Since the state's Dept. of Corrections prohibits internet access, the class only "pretends" to be online — they can't use internet-based resources, and nobody on the outside can see or use the software they create. One of the class's backers said, 'Almost every week there's epiphanies. And most of the guys in here, they've never touched a computer before. They are progressing beyond our expectations."
Cloud

Would You Rent Out Your Unused Drive Space? 331

Press2ToContinue writes "There is a new idea out there, proposed by Shawn Wilkinson, Tome Boshevski & Josh Brandof, that if you have unused disk space on your HD that you should rent it out. It is a great idea and the concept may have a whole range of implementations. The 3 guys describe their endeavor as: "Storj is a peer-to-peer cloud storage network implementing end-to-end encryption would allow users to transfer and share data without reliance on a third party data provider. The removal of central controls would eliminate most traditional data failures and outages, as well as significantly increasing security, privacy, and data control. A peer-to-peer network and basic encryption serve as a solution for most problems, but we must offer proper incentivisation for users to properly participate in this network."
Power

Shale: Good For Gas, Oil...and Nuclear Waste Disposal? 138

Lasrick writes: Chris Neuzil is a senior scientist with the National Research Program of the U.S. Geological Survey. He thinks the qualities of shale make it the perfect rock in which to safely and permanently house high-level nuclear waste. Given the recent discovery that water is much more of an issue than originally thought for the tough rock at Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Utah, the unique qualities of shale, along with its ubiquitous presence in the U.S., could make shale rock a better choice for the 70,000 metric tons of commercial spent fuel currently sitting above ground at nuclear power facilities throughout the country. France, Switzerland, and Belgium are all considering repositories in shale, but it hasn't been studied much in the U.S. "Shale is the only rock type likely to house high-level nuclear waste in other countries that has never been seriously considered by the U.S. high-level waste program. The uncertain future of Yucca Mountain places plans for spent nuclear fuel in the United States at a crossroads. It is an opportunity to include shale in a truly comprehensive examination of disposal options."
Businesses

Big Data Knows When You Are About To Quit Your Job 185

HughPickens.com writes Quentin Hardy reports at the NYT that a leading maker of cloud-based software for running corporate human resources and financial operations has announced new products that provide the kind of data analysis that Netflix uses to recommend movies, LinkedIn has to suggest people you might know, or Facebook needs to put a likely ad in front of you. One version of the software, called Insight Applications, predicts which high-performing employees are likely to leave a company in the next year; it then offers possible actions (more money, new job) that might make them stay. In another instance, expense reporting software can predict which employee populations are most likely to exceed their budgets. "We've applied machine learning to affect consumer tastes," says Mohammad Sabah, director of data science at Workday. "Putting it to career choices, to pay and employment, have a huge upside if we do it right." Already, Sabah says, "we're surprised how accurately we can predict someone will leave a job." The goal is to predict future business outcomes to take advantage of opportunities and cut risk levels. One future product may be the ability to predict who will and won't make their sales quotas, and suggest who should be hired to improve the outcome. "Making an employee happy, improving the efficiency of a company these are hard problems that affect corporations."
Earth

Climate Scientist Pioneer Talks About the Furture of Geoengineering 140

First time accepted submitter merbs writes At the first major climate engineering conference, Stanford climatologist Ken Caldeira explains how and why we might come to live on a geoengineered planet, how the field is rapidly growing (and why that's dangerous), and what the odds are that humans will try to hijack the Earth's thermostat. From the article: "For years, Dr. Ken Caldeira's interest in planet hacking made him a curious outlier in his field. A highly respected atmospheric scientist, he also describes himself as a 'reluctant advocate' of researching solar geoengineering—that is, large-scale efforts to artificially manage the amount of sunlight entering the atmosphere, in order to cool off the globe."
Earth

Mapping a Monster Volcano 105

bmahersciwriter (2955569) writes In one of the biggest-ever seismology deployments at an active volcano, researchers are peppering Mount St Helens in Washington state with equipment to study the intricate system of chambers and pipes that fed the most devastating eruption in U.S. history. This month, they plan to set off 24 explosions — each equivalent to a magnitude-2 earthquake — around around the slumbering beast in an effort to map the its interior with unprecedented depth and clarity.
Microsoft

Microsoft Wants You To Trade Your MacBook Air In For a Surface Pro 3 365

mpicpp writes with news about a new Microsoft trade-in program to encourage sales of the new Surface Pro 3. Microsoft is offering a limited time Surface Pro 3 promotion via which users can get up to $650 in store credit for trading in certain Apple MacBook Air models. The new promotion, running June 20 to July 31, 2014 -- "or while supplies last" -- requires users to bring MacBook Airs into select Microsoft retail stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada. (The trade-in isn't valid online.)...To get the maximum ($650) value, users have to apply the store credit toward the purchase of a Surface Pro 3, the most recent model of the company's Intel-based Surface tablets.

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