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Submission + - All New 'Starship Troopers' Reboot in the Works 1 writes: Hollywood Reporter reports that Columbia Pictures is rebooting Starship Troopers, the 1997 sci-fi film directed by Paul Verhoeven. The studio is not remaking the film but is said to be going back to the original Heinlein novel for an all-new take and no personnel from the 1997 film are involved. Verhoeven’s film, which starred Casper van Dien and Denise Richards, received critical acclaim for its surprising satire but was a disappointment at the box office, making just $121m worldwide from a $105m budget. The original movie, considered a mixed success at the time of its release went on to achieve a cult following and during the DVD boom of the 2000s, it became a mini-franchise for the studio, which produced three additional direct-to-DVD movies. The newly announced reboot is said to be more faithful to Robert A. Heinlein's original book, but is that a good idea? "Starship Troopers has been decried as promoting fascism and being racist in its creation of a society where democracy has been severely restricted and warfare against the alien "bugs" comes with its own coded terminology that hews too closely to real-world racism for many," says Graeme McMillan. "The question then becomes: in updating Starship Troopers to make it more acceptable to today's audience, can it still manage to remain faithful enough to Heinlein's original to please the existing fan base?"

Submission + - World's Largest Space Telescope Is Complete, Expected To Launch In 2018 (

An anonymous reader writes: After more than 20 years of construction, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is complete and, following in-depth testing, the largest-ever space telescope is expected to launch within two years, NASA officials announced today (Nov. 2). NASA Administrator Charles Bolden hosted a news conference to announce the milestone this morning at the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, overlooking the 18 large mirrors that will collect infrared light, sheltered behind a tennis-court-size sun shield. JWST is considered the successor to NASA's iconic Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope will be much more powerful than even Hubble for two main reasons, Mather said at the conference. First, it will be the biggest telescope mirror to fly in space. "You can see this beautiful, gold telescope is seven times the collecting area of the Hubble telescope," Mather said. And second, it is designed to collect infrared light, which Hubble is not very sensitive to. Earth's atmosphere glows in the infrared, so such measurements can't be made from the ground. Hubble emits its own heat, which would obscure infrared readings. JWST will run close to absolute zero in temperature and rest at a point in space called the Lagrange Point 2, which is directly behind Earth from the sun's perspective. That way, Earth can shield the telescope from the sun's infrared emission, and the sun shield can protect the telescope from both bodies' heat. The telescope's infrared view will pierce through obscuring cosmic dust to reveal the universe's first galaxies and spy on newly forming planetary systems. It also will be sensitive enough to analyze the atmospheres of exoplanets that pass in front of their stars, perhaps to search for signs of life, Mather said. The telescope would be able to see a bumblebee a moon's distance away, he added — both in reflected light and in the body heat the bee emitted. Its mirrors are so smooth that if you stretched the array to the size of the U.S., the hills and valleys of irregularity would be only a few inches high, Mather said.

Submission + - Researchers make a high-performance battery from junkyard scraps (

Science_afficionado writes: A team of engineers and materials scientists at Vanderbilt University have discovered how to make high-performance batteries using scraps of metal from the junkyard and common household chemicals. The researchers believe their innovation could provide the large amounts of economical electrical storage required by the grid to handle alternative energy sources and may ultimately allow homeowners to build their own batteries and disconnect entirely from the grid.

Submission + - France's Nuclear Storm: Many Power Plants Down Due to Quality Concerns (

mdsolar writes: The discovery of widespread carbon segregation problems in critical nuclear plant components has crippled the French power industry—20 of the country’s 58 reactors are currently offline and under heavy scrutiny. France’s nuclear safety chairman said more anomalies “will likely be found,” as the extent of the contagion is still being uncovered.

With over half of France’s 58 reactors possibly affected by “carbon segregation,” the nation’s nuclear watchdog, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN) has ordered that preventative measures be taken immediately to ensure public safety. As this story goes into production in late October, ASN has confirmed that 20 reactors are currently offline and potentially more will shut down in coming weeks.

The massive outages are draining power from all over Europe. Worse, new questions continue to swirl about both the safety and integrity of Électricité de France SA’s (EDF’s) nuclear fleet, as well as the quality of some French- and Japanese-made components that EDF is using in various high-profile nuclear projects around the world.

EDF’s nuclear power plants (NPPs) provide up to 75% of France’s power needs. Its NPPs are spread out over 19 sites and include 34 900-MW units, 20 1,300-MW units, and four 1,450-MW units. As the fleet suffered through shutdowns, inspections, and reviews, production fell in September to its lowest level since 1998—just 26.6 TWh, according to French grid operator Reseau de transport d’electricite.

With more NPPs scheduled to go offline, that figure may continue falling. Earlier in October, EDF reduced its 2016 generation targets from 395–400 TWh to 380–390 TWh, while estimates for nuclear output in 2017 have also been lowered to between 390 TWh and 400 TWh. For perspective, annual nuclear production averaged 417 TWh in the period 2005–2015. Although in 2009 output fell to 390 TWh, for the last decade production has consistently been above 400 TWh and exceeded the target range of 410–415 TWh in both 2014 and 2015.

Following EDF’s reduced nuclear generation forecast, wholesale power prices immediately began jumping with Q4 2016, Q1 2017, and calendar 2017 baseload contracts trading up by €1.70/MWh, €1.65/MWh, and €1.20/MWh, respectively. To address the energy shortfall, France is turning to coal and other fossil fuels, as well as imported power. Despite the COP21 carbon emissions agreement, which recently went into force, France is now burning coal at its highest levels in 32 years.

Submission + - 100 Drones in Fireworks-Like Show Set Record (

Tablizer writes: Intel CEO Brian Krzanich asked marketing director of perceptual computing Anil Nanduri what he would do with 100 flying drones. He wanted Nanduri to find a way to push the boundaries and show people an exciting new way to experience the wonders of drone technology.

Nanduri put that challenge to a small group of artists and technology researchers at Ars Electronica Futurelab in Linz, Austria. The team quickly created an outdoor flying drone light show syncopated to a live orchestra.

When all 100 light-equipped drones danced and painted 3D shapes and messages in sky above Flugplatz Ahrenlohe, Tornesch, near Hamburg, Germany in early November, a new record was born.

Submission + - Study Finds Little Lies Lead To Bigger Ones (

An anonymous reader writes: Telling little fibs leads down a slippery slope to bigger lies — and our brains adapt to escalating dishonesty, which makes deceit easier, a new study shows. Neuroscientists at the University College London's Affective Brain Lab put 80 people in scenarios where they could repeatedly lie and get paid more based on the magnitude of their lies. They said they were the first to demonstrate empirically that people's lies grow bolder the more they fib. The researchers then used brain scans to show that our mind's emotional hot spot — the amygdala — becomes desensitized or used to the growing dishonesty, according to a study published online Monday in the journal Nature Neuroscience. And during this lying, brain scans that show blood supply and activity at the amygdala decrease with increasing lies, said study co-author and lab director Tali Sharot. "The more we lie, the less likely we are to have an emotional response" — say, shame or guilt — "that accompanies it," Sharot said. Garrett said he suspects similar escalation factors happen in the "real world," which would include politics, infidelity and cheating, but he cautioned that this study was done in a controlled lab setting so more research would be needed to apply it to other situations. The study found that there is a segment of people who don't lie and don't escalate lies, but Sharot and Garrett weren't able to determine how rare those honest people are. It also found that people lie more when it benefits both them and someone else than when they just profit alone.

Submission + - WikiLeaks Transmits Cryptic Hashes As Assange's Internet Link Is Cut (

MojoKid writes: If you follow WikiLeaks on Twitter, you may have noticed a series of cryptic tweets consisting of strings of numbers and letters. These are hashes that appear to be related to another WikiLeak post on Twitter claiming its co-founder, Julian Assange, is without Internet access after his connection was "intentionally severed by a state party." That action has reportedly activated WikiLeaks' "appropriate contingency plans" in response. The announcement surfaced several hours after the site posted the aforementioned cryptic hash posts, three in all with references to Ecuador, Secretary of State John Kerry, and the UK FCO (United Kingdom Foreign Commonwealth Office). Each tweet contained a 64-character hash, which led to rumors that Assange was dead and that the strings of characters were "dead man's keys" or a "dead man's switch," codes to reveal classified secrets in the event of his death. That doesn't appear to be the case. Instead, those hashes, which are preceded by "pre-commitment" labels, are unique codes that can prove the legitimacy of documents leaked in the future that contain the same hashes. Any changes to the documents would alter the 64-character code assigned to them.

Submission + - Feds Demand Everyone's Fingerprints To Open Phones (

ArtemaOne writes: Under the Fourth Amendment, Americans are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures, but according to one group of federal prosecutors, just being in the wrong house at the wrong time is cause enough to make every single person inside provide their fingerprints and unlock their phones.

Back in 2014, a Virginia Circuit Court ruled that while suspects cannot be forced to provide phone passcodes, biometric data like fingerprints doesn’t have the same constitutional protection. Since then, multiple law enforcement agencies have tried to force individual suspects to unlock their phones with their fingers, but none have claimed the sweeping authority found in a Justice Department memorandum recently uncovered by Forbes.

Submission + - Airplane crashes shed light on short online attention spans (

sciencehabit writes: On 19 May, EgyptAir Flight 804 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea, killing all 56 passengers and 10 crew members aboard. The Wikipedia entry documenting the disaster went up within hours, and it will likely remain online into perpetuity. Human readers, however, lost interest after about a week. A pair of new studies reveals that’s common whether an aircraft crash kills 50 people or 500—a finding that reveals some surprises about our online attention spans.

Submission + - It doesn't look too good for Tatooine.

RockDoctor writes: Everyone who has paid even the most cursory of attention to the Star Wars films (I've seen at least two of them. Out of however many.) knows that the planet Tatooine orbits two stars in close binary orbits. But everyone who has paid even the most cursory of attention to astrophysics knows that the evolution of the stars is likely to have ... consequences ... for any planets in orbit around the system's centre of mass.

A paper published yesterday on Arxiv studies the known planets in Tatooine-like systems (PDF). The Kepler telescope has confirmed a number of planets around close binary star systems. So astrophysicists have studied the evolution of these systems.

It doesn't look good for Tatooine-like planets. Of the nine systems studied, five experienced "common-envelope stages" where gas is transferred from the lighter of the two stars to the heavier (which changes the evolutionary trajectory of both stars). This is not good — cataclysmic novae and X-ray outbursts are common outcomes. On the other hand, "two systems trigger a double-degenerate supernova explosion" — which doesn't sound like it'll be good for the sunburn either. Those planets which don't suffer "RUD", don't do much better, as the "common-envelope stage" and the resulting gas drag and close-approaches can lead to 10-fold increases in both orbital diameter and eccentricity. In as little as one planetary orbit. Double-plus ungood.

All in all, Tatooine-like planets would probably not be a place to put a long-term centre of government. So actually, Lucas wasn't far wrong.

Submission + - Multiple Linux Distributions Affected by Crippling Bug in systemd ( 1

An anonymous reader writes: System administrator Andrew Ayer has discovered a potentially critical bug in systemd which can bring a vulnerable Linux server to its knees with one command. "After running this command, PID 1 is hung in the pause system call. You can no longer start and stop daemons. inetd-style services no longer accept connections. You cannot cleanly reboot the system." According to the bug report, Debian, Ubuntu, and CentOS are among the distros susceptible to various levels of resource exhaustion. The bug, which has existed for more than two years, does not require root access to exploit.

Submission + - Wyoming's open-source enterprise code library a secret no more (

alphadogg writes: Wyoming’s 250-person Enterprise Technology Services group knew it had a good thing in its open-source Enterprise Extensible Code Library, but it chose to keep things under wraps outside of the state until last week when members of that team attended an annual confab for state government CIOs. The library of reusable code is designed to slash the time and cost it takes to build apps, and provide a platform for others to build upon, possibly resulting in a consolidated app dev system nationwide in the US.

Submission + - Security pro who exposed flaws in Florida elections website sentenced to 20-day (

An anonymous reader writes: A Florida man will serve 20 days in jail for computer hacking after he exploited a security flaw on the Lee County Elections Office website as “a silly political stunt” for a local candidate.
David Michael Levin of Estero, Fla. pleaded guilty in a Fort Myers courtroom Tuesday to a single misdemeanor count in connection with hacking the Lee County elections website. He’ll serve 20 days in jail followed by two years of probation, a local CBS affiliate reported.

Submission + - LG Introduces The V20, The First Android Nougat Smartphone (

An anonymous reader writes: LG has unveiled its V20 flagship smartphone, the successor to the V10 that LG introduced last year, and the first smartphone to run Google's Android Nougat operating system out of the box. It's also the first phone to get In Apps, a new homescreen shortcut in Android that makes it easy to search through content on all installed apps. There's a customizable "second screen" at the top, the fingerprint scanner/power button on the rear, and a removable smooth aluminum alloy back cover that can allow you to remove the battery. There's no longer two front facing camera sensors, just one 5-megapixel wide-angle camera. There are however two rear-facing camera sensors similar to the G5. There's an 8-megapixel 135-degree wide-angle camera sensor and 16-megapixel 75-degree camera sensor. The new phone features a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage with support for up to 2TB of storage via microSD, a 3200 mAh battery, and a QHD display. It measures 159.7 x 78.1 x 7.6mm and weighs 174g. The USB-C adapter supports fast charging. The phone will be available in titan, silver, and pink, although pink won’t be coming to the U.S. market. LG has yet to disclose the price, the release date, or carrier availability for the phone.

Submission + - White House is planning to let more foreign entrepreneurs work in the U.S (

Peter Hudson writes: After failing to get Congress to pass a “startup visa” as part of broad immigration reform, the Obama administration is moving ahead with an alternative that would allow overseas entrepreneurs to live in the U.S. for up to five years to help build a company. Already speaking out in favor of the new rules is PayPal co-founder Max Levchin: “I believe that the most promising entrepreneurs from around the world should have the same opportunity I had — the chance to deliver on their potential, here in America.” Levchin moved to the U.S. from the Soviet Union in 1991.

To be eligible to work in the U.S. under the new rule there are three conditions: 1) the foreigner would have to own at least 15 percent of a U.S.-based startup, 2) the foreigner would need to have a central role in the startup's operations and 3) the startup would need to have ”potential for rapid business growth and job creation.” The third requirement could be met by having at least $100K in government grants or $345K invested from US venture investors.

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UNIX was not designed to stop you from doing stupid things, because that would also stop you from doing clever things. -- Doug Gwyn