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Submission + - The abandoned college campuses of Second Life (fusion.net)

drkim writes: "In the year 2007, people were really excited about Second Life... Many universities set up their own private islands to engage students; some even held classes within Second Life.
Most of these virtual universities are gone... ...but it turns out a handful remain as ghost towns..."

Submission + - Physicist Builds Supercomputer From Old PlayStations (sciencealert.com) 1

drkim writes: A home-made PlayStation 3 supercomputer is 3,000 times more powerful than any desktop processor, and is being used to study black holes.

Guarav Khanna, a black hole physicist at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in the US, has managed to build a powerful and extremely cheap supercomputer using old PlayStation 3s (PS3s), and he’s used it to publish several papers on black holes.

His research focusses on finding gravitational waves, which are curvatures in space-time that ripple out from a violent astrophysical event, such as two black holes colliding. They were first predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, but no one has been able to observe them.

Submission + - A Drone That Finds Survivors Through Their Phones (suasnews.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Quoting from the article: "During his semester project in Computer Science, Jonathan Cheseaux developed a system for locating a person via his or her mobile phone with a drone. This device could be used to find victims in natural disasters."
This is yet another example of the difference between a rational drone policy and what the FAA's Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft is destroying.

Submission + - Is your textbook studying you? (ruwenzori.net)

drkim writes: Shades of "Snow Crash"?

A number of schools have started using a program called CourseSmart, which uses e-book analytics to alert teachers if their students are studying the night before tests, rather than taking a long-haul approach to learning.

In addition to test scores, the CourseSmart algorithm assigns each student an “engagement index” which can determine not just if a student is studying, but also if they’re studying properly.

(BTW: We are holding a 'In Soviet Russia....' reference contest on this one, too.)

Submission + - Bitcoin Falls 15% Following FBI's Silk Road Seizure (blogspot.com.au)

quantr writes: Bitcoin is taking it on the chin following the FBI seizure of Silk Road, a popular – and partially hidden – marketplace for drugs and other items generally outside the orbit of the law. As TechCrunch reported earlier today, about $1.2 billion in Bitcoin flowed through Silk Road, resulting in a nearly $80 million commission for the service.

Bitcoin is responding as you would expect, as a core market that accepted it has been taken down, the federal government hemming in on its slice of the web: By rapidly shedding value.

Submission + - Mars Orbiter Spies Lackluster Comet ISON (discovery.com)

astroengine writes: Scientists managing the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have released their first observations of the incoming Comet ISON. The MRO was commanded to turn away its perpetual Mars-ward gaze and point into deep space to capture its own snapshot of the famous comet. ISON is currently making its closest approach to the red planet, passing just 7 million miles from its surface. The first raw images were snapped on Sept. 29 when the object was 8 million miles from the planet and more images (taken on Oct. 1 and Oct. 2) are currently being processed. The four initial observations reveal a fuzzy cometary object moving relative to background stars. Detail is lacking as the comet is still too distant, but these observations are useful to gauge how the brightness of the object compares to predicted values. So far, ISON is at the “low end” of predicted brightness values.

Submission + - Time-travelling 1970s transistor radio, with WiFi (hylobatidae.org)

Ford Prefect writes: "If you're British, you'll know what BBC Radio 4 is. And if you grew up with it then moved abroad, timezones are a problem. Especially if you've moved to the eight-hours-out Seattle. So, with a Raspberry Pi and a 1970s Roberts radio, I built a solution. Which, in some space-time continuum-collapsing temporal loop, promptly appeared on Radio 4 itself. Oops! Assembly instructions, source code and pictures included for any expats wishing to build something similar..."
Biotech

Researchers Build Water Soluble Chips 52

angry tapir writes "Researchers in the U.S. have developed integrated circuits that can stick to the skin like a child's tattoo and in some cases dissolve in water when they're no longer needed. The 'bio chips' can be worn comfortably on the body to help diagnose and treat illnesses. The circuits are so thin that when they're peeled away from the body they hang like a sliver of dead skin, with a tangle of fine wires visible under a microscope. Similar circuits could one day be wrapped around the heart like 'an electronic pericardium' to correct irregularities such as arrhythmia."
Privacy

Submission + - Do you want your mouse spying on you? (hothardware.com)

drkim writes: Razer’s 'Naga' gaming mouse not only needs a connection to the net to activate advanced functions and extra buttons, their ToS lets them harvest 'aggregate,' 'individual,' and 'personally identifiable' information on you. The constant connection to the net can also cause sluggish response during gaming. Remember, here in US, mouse watches you. Another article: http://boingboing.net/2012/11/07/razer-naga-gaming-mouse-requir.html
Graphics

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Best Laptop With Decent Linux Graphics Support? 4

jcreus writes: After struggling for some years with Nvidia cards (the laptop from which I am writing this has two graphic cards, an Intel one and Nvidia one, and is a holy mess [I still haven't been able to use the Nvidia card]) and, encouraged by Torvalds' middle finger speech, I've decided to ditch Nvidia for something better. I am expecting to buy another laptop and, this time, I'd like to get it right from the start. It would be interesting if it had decent graphics support and, in general, were Linux friendly. While I know Dell has released a Ubuntu laptop, it's way off-budget. My plan is to install Ubuntu, Kubuntu (or even Debian), with dual boot unfortunately required. Thanks in advance, Slashdot!
Earth

Submission + - The Moons local gravity mapped (bbc.co.uk)

Dupple writes: "If you look at how highly cratered the Moon is — the Earth used to look like that; parts of Mars still do look like that," explained Prof Maria Zuber, Grail's principal investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US.

"This period of time when all these impacts where occurring — this was the time when the first microbes were developing.

"We had some idea from the chemistry [of ancient rocks] that Earth was a violent place early on, but now we now know it was an extremely difficult place energetically as well, and it shows just how tenacious life had to be to hang on," she told BBC News.

Prof Zuber was speaking in San Francisco at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, the world's largest annual gathering for Earth and planetary scientists..

Earth

Submission + - Suomi satellite pictures Earth in black (bbc.co.uk)

SternisheFan writes: This spectacular night-time view of Earth is called Black Marble. It has been assembled from a series of cloud-free images acquired by one of the most capable satellites in the sky today -the Suomi spacecraft. The platform was launched by the US last year, principally to deliver critical meteorological data. The Black Marble dataset shows off one of Suomi's key innovations: the low-light sensitivity of its VIIRS instrument.
    VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) can discern a range of phenomena of interest to weather forecasters -cloud, snow, fog, etc -even when the satellite is on the dark side of the Earth. Most of the time, all VIIRS needs to do its work is some illumination from the Moon. But if that is not available, the instrument can still detect features down below just from the nocturnal glow of the atmosphere itself. And, of course, just as this Black Marble rendition demonstrates, VIIRS is also very good at capturing the lights of our cities. The new imagery was unveiled here at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, the largest annual gathering of Earth scientists.
    http://npp.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Technology

First Direct Image of DNA Double Helix 44

New submitter bingbat writes "Scientists at the University at Genoa, Italy have successfully photographed the double-helix structure of a single strand of DNA, using a tunneling electron microscope. This marks the first visual confirmation of its structure." The full paper is behind a paywall, but the linked abstract includes the picture that's worth a thousand words.

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