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Submission + - Judge Calls Malibu Media "Troll", Denies Subpoena

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: In what could be the beginning of the end of the Malibu Media litigation wave involving alleged BitTorrent downloads of porn films, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein in Manhattan federal court has denied Malibu Media's request for a subpoena to get the subscriber's name and address from his or her internet service provider. In his 11-page decision (PDF), Judge Hellerstein discussed "copyright trolls" and noted that (a) it is not clear that Malibu Media's porn products are entitled to copyright protection, (b) discussed some of its questionable litigation practices, (c) Malibu's "investigation" leads at best to an IP address rather than to an individual infringer, (d) there is a major risk of misidentification, (e) Malibu has no evidence that the individual John Doe committed any act of infringement, and (f) Malibu's claim that there is no other practical way for it to target infringement was not supported by adequate evidence.

Submission + - Office of Personnel Management. Not a hack: a Giveaway!

bbsguru writes: According to ArsTechnica The OPM loss of personal info on 14 million-and-counting US Federal empolyees and contractors wasn't so much a theft as a sharing...

From the article...
Some of the contractors that have helped OPM with managing internal data have had security issues of their own—including potentially giving foreign governments direct access to data long before the recent reported breaches. A consultant who did some work with a company contracted by OPM to manage personnel records for a number of agencies told Ars that he found the Unix systems administrator for the project "was in Argentina and his co-worker was physically located in the [People's Republic of China]. Both had direct access to every row of data in every database: they were root. Another team that worked with these databases had at its head two team members with PRC passports. I know that because I challenged them personally and revoked their privileges. From my perspective, OPM compromised this information more than three years ago and my take on the current breach is 'so what's new?'

Submission + - Mystery of Ceres' bright spots grows

schwit1 writes: New data from NASA mission suggest varied origins for tantalizing gleams on dwarf planet's surface.

The Dawn science team has released the first global map of Ceres, based on the preliminary images produced during the spacecraft's approach in March.

This map is very preliminary. The global survey produced during Dawn's year long visit will be far more detailed.

Submission + - Tracking the weather on an exoplanet

schwit1 writes: Scientists have begun gathering increasingly detailed information about the atmosphere and weather on the exoplanet HD189733B, 63 light years away with an orbit that produces a transit every 2.2 days.

It appears that the temperature rises with increasing altitude, reaching 3,000 degrees at the top of the atmosphere. There are also strong winds blowing from the cold to the hot side of the planet.

Submission + - Acetaminophen reduces both pain and pleasure, study finds (scienceblog.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers studying the commonly used pain reliever acetaminophen found it has a previously unknown side effect: It blunts positive emotions. Acetaminophen, the main ingredient in the over-the-counter pain reliever Tylenol, has been in use for more than 70 years in the United States, but this is the first time that this side effect has been documented.

Submission + - Briny Water May Pool in Mars' Equatorial Soil (discovery.com)

astroengine writes: Mars may be a frigid desert, but perchlorate salts in the planet’s soil are lowering the freezing temperature of water, setting up conditions for liquid brines to form at equatorial regions, new research from NASA’s Curiosity rover shows. The discovery of subsurface water, even a trickle, around the planets warmer equatorial belt defies current climate models, though spacecraft orbiting Mars have found geologic evidence for transient liquid water, a phenomenon termed “recurring slope lineae.” The findings, published in this week’s Nature Geoscience, are based on nearly two years worth of atmospheric humidity and temperature measurements collected by the roving science laboratory Curiosity, which is exploring an ancient impact basin called Gale Crater near the planet’s equator. The brines, computer models show, form nightly in the upper 2 inches of the planet’s soil as perchlorates absorb atmospheric water vapor. As temperatures rise in the morning, the liquid evaporates. The levels of liquid, however, are too low to support terrestrial-type organisms, the researchers conclude. “It is not just a problem of water, but also temperature. The water activity and temperatures are so low in Mars that they are beyond the limits of cell reproduction and metabolism,” Javier Martin-Torres, with Lulea University of Technology, in Kiruna, Sweden, wrote in an email to Discovery News.

Submission + - What's the point in Sharp's 5.5 inch 4K 806ppi screen? (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: It is a given that whatever technology you see if front of you will be bettered if not next week, then next month or next year. Processors will get faster, hard drives bigger, laptops thinner and... well, you get the idea. In the realm of mobile devices there was a time when size meant everything. Mobile phone screens grew larger and larger, but then focus started to switch.

Size, it turned out, was not everything after all; it’s the number of pixels that matters. We started to see ppi figures quoted everywhere, Apple even came up with its own label for the pixel density at which pixels became indistinguishable — Retina Display. This was just the start of the battle of the pixels, though, and now things are starting to get a bit silly. Sharp has announced a 5.5 inch 4K screen which boasts a pixel density of 806ppi. Say, what?

Submission + - How Medical Tech Gave a Patient a Massive Overdose (medium.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Pablo Garcia went to the hospital feeling fine. Then the hospital made him very sick. Through a series of technological mishaps, a prescription for one pill of a routine antibiotic became 38 pills, sending Garcia into a seizure. “Wait, look at this Septra dose,” the resident on duty said to Garcia's nurse at the time. “This is a huge dose. Oh my God, did you give this dose?” She had. But in this medical horror story, the real culprit was hospital technology.

Submission + - New study finds fracking does not contaminate drinking water

An anonymous reader writes: A new study, using data from more than 11,000 drinking water wells in northern Pennsylvania, has found no evidence that fracking causes contamination.

The new study of 11,309 drinking water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania concludes that background levels of methane in the water are unrelated to the location of hundreds of oil and gas wells that tap hydraulically fractured, or fracked, rock formations. The finding suggests that fracking operations are not significantly contributing to the leakage of methane from deep rock formations, where oil and gas are extracted, up to the shallower aquifers where well water is drawn.

The result also calls into question prominent studies in 2011 and 2013 that did find a correlation in a nearby part of Pennsylvania. There, wells closer to fracking sites had higher levels of methane. Those studies, however, were based on just 60 and 141 domestic well samples, respectively.

The article outlines in detail the many disagreements and uncertainties of both the old studies and this new one. It also however contains this one key quote about the earlier studies, buried in the text, that illustrates the politics influencing the reporting of the anti-fracking research:

The two papers seemed to show that fracking was leading to increased concentrations of methane in drinking water. Dissolved methane is not toxic, and drinking water often contains significant background levels of the gas from natural sources.

Earlier studies were top media stories. They were used to show the harm fracking does, and were the justification for the banning of fracking in New York. Yet, the methane they found was not necessarily caused by fracking, and isn’t even a health concern anyway.

Will the press give this new report as much coverage? It might not be right, but it sure does indicate that the science is unsettled, and that the risks from fracking are overblown.

Submission + - Top-secret U.S. replica of Iran nuclear sites key to weapons deal (latimes.com)

Lasrick writes: Paul Richter at the LA Times has a very cool article describing replicas of Iran's nuclear facilities that the US operates in order to study what Iran's technical capabilities are. 'Using centrifuges acquired when Libya abandoned its nuclear program in 2003, as well as American-built equipment, the government has spent millions of dollars over more than a decade to build replicas of the enrichment facilities that are the pride of Iran's nuclear program.' Fascinating stuff.

Submission + - New compound quickly disables chemical weapons (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: In 2013, the Syrian military allegedly launched sarin gas rockets into a rebel-held town, killing hundreds. After diplomats brokered a deal to eradicate the weapons, international organizations began the dangerous job of destroying them. One roadblock to chemical weapons disposal is that heat and humidity quickly break down enzymes that can disable the deadly chemicals. Now, researchers have developed a highly stable compound that can inactivate nerve agents like sarin in a matter of minutes.

Submission + - Researchers may have solved origin-of-life conundrum (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: The origin of life on Earth is a set of paradoxes. In order for life to have gotten started, there must have been a genetic molecule—something like DNA or RNA—capable of passing along blueprints for making proteins, the workhorse molecules of life. But modern cells can’t copy DNA and RNA without the help of proteins themselves. To make matters more vexing, none of these molecules can do their jobs without fatty lipids, which provide the membranes that cells need to hold their contents inside. And in yet another chicken-and-egg complication, protein-based enzymes (encoded by genetic molecules) are needed to synthesize lipids.

Now, researchers say they may have solved these paradoxes. Chemists report today that a pair of simple compounds, which would have been abundant on early Earth, can give rise to a network of simple reactions that produce the three major classes of biomolecules—nucleic acids, amino acids, and lipids—needed for the earliest form of life to get its start. Although the new work does not prove that this is how life started, it may eventually help explain one of the deepest mysteries in modern science.

Submission + - Graphene breakthrough promises 'million-fold improvement' in hard drive capacity (thestack.com)

An anonymous reader writes: New techniques have been developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory [http://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2015/nrl-researchers-pattern-magnetic-graphine] which, it claims, promise 'a roughly greater than million-fold improvement over current hard drives' by magnetizing graphene. Graphene exhibits magnetic properties only via defects in production or the binding of chemical groups, but the NRL have found a 'robust' technique of reliably magnetizing the material by immersing it for a minute in cryogenic ammonia and lithium. The additional hydrogen atoms magnetize the graphene, and data can be written to it by using an electron beam to selectively remove hydrogen atoms. NRL researcher Dr. Woo-Kyung Lee says: "Since massive patterning with commercial electron beam lithography system is possible, we believe that our technique can be readily applicable for current microelectronics fabrication,"

Submission + - Humanitarian Drones: Finding Unexploded Bombs from Past Wars (ieee.org)

the_newsbeagle writes: During the Vietnam War the country of Laos was pounded by 2 million tons of bombs, including a vast number of cluster bombs that scattered smaller bomblets across the landscape. Many of those failed to explode on impact and lodged in the ground, creating a deadly legacy of war that remains to this day. To help surveyors locate and remove these unexploded bombs, a drone company plans to fly its octocopters over the Laotian countryside. The drones will scan the land with a laser imaging system to make precise topographical maps, allowing surveyors to identify old trenches, bunkers, and other features that were likely targeted in bombing campaigns.

Submission + - Lockheed Martin spacecraft targets space station, moon missions (networkworld.com)

coondoggie writes: Lockheed Martin is certainly no stranger to spacecraft and it is now using that expertise to offer up a new ship capable of resupplying the International Space Station and other missions. The company this week rolled out a three-part space system: a reusable space servicing vehicle called Jupiter; a large, versatile cargo container named the Exoliner; and a robotic arm.

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