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Submission + - Dice Ruins Slashdot (slashdot.org) 12

An anonymous reader writes: In an attempt to modernize Slashdot, Dice has removed everything that made Slashdot unique and worthwhile and has turned it into a generic blog site. User feedback has been unanimously negative, but this is to no avail, and users will have to head elsewhere for insightful and entertaining commentary on tech news.

Submission + - Memory gaffe leaves Aussie bank accounts open to theft (scmagazine.com.au)

mask.of.sanity writes: A researcher has found flaws in the way major Australian banks handle customer login credentials which could allow the details to be siphoned off by malware.

He built proof of concept malware to pull unencrypted passwords, account numbers and access credentials from volatile memory of popular web browsers every two hours.

Submission + - Obama's EPA Makes A Rad Decision (forbes.com) 1

QuantumPion writes: The Environmental Protection Agency released draft guidelines last month that could significantly relax radiation hazard standards in the case of a radiological event in the United States by using risk-based decisions.

“Think of it this way. The situations covered by these new guidelines are similar to someone dying of thirst who has the chance to drink fresh water having 2,000 pCi per gallon of radium in it. While the safe drinking water levels are 20 pCi/gal for Ra, 2,000 pCi/gal is of no threat, especially if you’re going to die from imminent dehydration. Of course, a bag of potato chips has 3,500 picocuries, so go figure.”


Submission + - Unintended and Malicious Applications of Augmented Reality (net-security.org)

Orome1 writes: "Augmented reality technologies overlay computer generated data on a live view of the real world. Anticipated application domains include entertainment, travel, education, collaboration, and law enforcement, among numerous others. Expect the wondrous, the compelling, and the creepy. We will see all three. This article combines augmented reality with reasonable assumptions of technological advancement, business incentives, and human nature to present a less optimistic, but probable, future augmented reality applications."
The Military

Submission + - Air Force believes anti-g suit is cause of F-22's oxygen problems (flightglobal.com) 2

wired_parrot writes: The USAF believes it may have identified the root cause of the F-22 Raptor's oxygen troubles: pilots are running into physiological limitations in attempting to breath oxygen while under high-g loads, leading to a condition know as acceleration atelectasis. This is being aggravated by the anti-g suit worn by pilots, which puts pressure in their chest. It may be that the F-22 has reached the edge of what a human pilot can handle

Submission + - Higgs Boson Explained 2

ahale writes: "The moment anyone finds out I research particle physics, the question is always asked: “Do you think we will find the Higgs Boson?” My immediate answer is always: No. Honestly, I do not really have any idea- I just like giving the short answer to avoid intense explanation. The Higgs Boson has received a lot of media attention. It is my aim to explain in plain terms: what is the Higgs Boson? And, why must it exist?

I should note: I am very much against the media hype of the Higgs Boson. It is just another part of the Standard Model (which I explain below), and there is no reason to pour so much money into crony corporate physics research. Had physics not been a political tinker toy of corporations and interested countries, the Higgs particle would have been experimentally verified years ago. In the explanation below, I put aside my own beliefs and just offer the facts.

The Higgs Boson is a mathematically proposed part of the Standard Model of Particle Physics (Which I will just abbreviate as: SM from now on). The SM is an explanation of the fundamental players in what actually constitutes all of reality. Molecules are made of atoms. Atoms are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Protons and neutrons are made of quarks. Quarks are bound together by a force. That is the quick definition of the SM. There are other particles as well, but they do not concern us- at this time. Think of the SM as the Periodic Table for Particle Physics.

The Higgs Boson is an esoteric but relevant player in the SM. While its role is formal and mathematical- it is responsible for the defining characteristic of particles.

In nature we have 4 fundamental forces that act upon the constituents. These forces are: Gravity, Electromagnetism, Weak force, and the Strong force. The first two are very familiar to humans and we encounter these every day. I will not bother to explain these two.

The Weak force is what causes radioactive decay of subatomic particles. It has two force carrier particles associated with it: The W and Z boson.

The Strong force has little to do with what I am trying to explain here. The strong force is what binds quarks together.

It was discovered by three Nobel Prize winning Physicists in 1979 that the electromagnetic force and the weak force are actually derived from a single unified force. This force is not unified until a particle accelerator reaches the level of ~100 TeV (tera electron volts). At the early universe, when everything was still hot enough- these two forces were indistinguishable.

Leaving out the tedious mathematics, when these forces are combined it can be views as symmetry. That is, one is symmetrical to the other and there is no preferred point of reference.

As mentioned above, the force carriers for the weak force are the W and Z boson, which are extremely massive, but very short range. The force carrier for the electromagnetic force is massless. How is this mass lost? The mass is converted into energy, that energy is essentially a photon (The force carrier of the electromagnetic force): the particle of light. The photon never rests; it always travels at light speed. The mass from the electroweak force, somehow gets converted into the energy of the electromagnetic force. (Recall Einstein’s famous equation). The answer: there must be a particle responsible for this. What is this proposed particle? That is the Higgs particle.

Let us take a moment to get some terms straight. In quantum mechanics, specifically quantum field theory- you may use these three terms interchangeably: field, wave, and particle. A field is something that may permeate a space. If one is to wiggle that field, a wave develops. The resulting wave is a differential equation of probability. The area where the probability is high: is where it is likely to find the “particle”. This short definition I offer is a mix of three ideas: the Schrodinger equations, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, and the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum waves. You are welcome to research those further to get a better grasp.

To recap, the relationship is: fields: to wave: to particle. This explanation greatly ignores the particle wave duality. I do not intend to explain it here.

Going back to the Higgs particle.

  It was proposed by Peter Higgs that a field must permeate all of space. The space between atoms, the space between everything: the people, planets, galaxies, and the universe. Anywhere where the laws of physics as we know, hold true: exists the Higgs field.

This idea sounds crazy to most people. If there is some kind of uniform field that is everywhere, should we not feel it? This field is only agitated at high energies; therefore we would need to “pluck” this field with a high energy “guitar pick” for lack of a better analogy.

For the past thirty plus years physicists have attempted to “pluck” this field. By doing so, they hope to create a wave which can be described to have the properties of the Higgs Particle as predicted by the SM.

How does this field create all the mass properties of all the particles known?

Trying to explain this is trying to put very formal mathematics into terms, but I think it is something I would like to try. As particles move through this field, the same effect that reduces the electroweak force into the electromagnetic force can turn energy into mass, just as it turns mass into energy. As we go up on the TeV scale, that is- as we get hotter and hotter- ever closer to the early universe, the electromagnetic and the weak forces become a single unified force. Also, the strong force begins to have less influence, instead it is replaced by the electroweak force until eventually they are a single force. This is believed to happen because of the “drag”, produced by the Higgs field.

The experimental discovery of the Higgs field by producing a Higgs Boson, would greatly explain the SM. It would explain why the fundamental forces converge and decohere (not to be confused with quantum decoherence). The discovery would complete the particle physics most successful model and lead to more accurate predictions about reality, cosmology, and the universe as a whole.

While it may not be the Higgs field that lends all the particles their mass and other properties, there is something out there. Something must cause these forces to converge and act differently upon the particles. Failure to find the Higgs would just give researchers another route to travel. Perhaps another force of nature? Or- Perhaps we misunderstand the high energy excitation of particles and forces. Either way, it is not likely the SM will be scrapped any time soon."

Submission + - Linguistics cracks Skype calls (i-programmer.info)

mikejuk writes: You might think of linguistics as being interesting but not really useful. Now computational linguistics has been used to crack Skype encryption and reconstruct what is being said in a VoIP call.
What is surprising is that though they are encrypted, the frames that make up a Skype call contain clues about what phonemes are being spoken.


Submission + - Null Character Hack Allows SSL Spoofing (wired.com) 3

eldavojohn writes: Two researchers, Dan Kaminsky and Moxie Marlinspike, came up with exact same way to fake being a popular website with authentication from a certificate authority. Wired has the details: 'When an attacker who owns his own domain — badguy.com — requests a certificate from the CA, the CA, using contact information from Whois records, sends him an email asking to confirm his ownership of the site. But an attacker can also request a certificate for a subdomain of his site, such as Paypal.com\0.badguy.com, using the null character \0 in the URL. The CA will issue the certificate for a domain like PayPal.com\0.badguy.com because the hacker legitimately owns the root domain badguy.com. Then, due to a flaw found in the way SSL is implemented in many browsers, Firefox and others theoretically can be fooled into reading his certificate as if it were one that came from the authentic PayPal site. Basically when these vulnerable browsers check the domain name contained in the attacker's certificate, they stop reading any characters that follow the "\0 in the name.'
The Internet

Pakistan YouTube Block Breaks the World 343

Allen54 noted a followup to yesterday's story about Pakistan's decision to block YouTube. He notes that "The telecom company that carries most of Pakistan's traffic, PCCW, has found it necessary to shut Pakistan off from the Internet while they filter out the malicious routes that a Pakistani ISP, PieNet, announced earlier today. Evidently PieNet took this step to enforce a decree from the Pakistani government that ISP's must block access to YouTube because it was a source of blasphemous content. YouTube has announced more granular routes so that at least in the US they supercede the routes announced by PieNet. The rest of the world is still struggling."

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