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Submission + - The Swiss Pirate Party has its First Mayor

bs0d3 writes: Alex Arnold from the Pirate Party Switzerland, has been elected mayor of Eichberg. This is the first mayoral win for the pirates in Switzerland, and hopefully just the begining of things to come. Thomas Bruderer, president of the Pirate Party Switzerland, is delighted: "This result is for our young party is an important milestone. To win a majority vote shows that our members are not just a marginal phenomenon; but are in the midst of society."

Submission + - Termites explode to defend their colonies (nature.com)

ananyo writes: A species of termite found in the rainforests of French Guiana takes altruism seriously: aged workers grow sacks of toxic blue liquid that they explode onto their enemies in an act of suicidal self-sacrifice to help their colonies.
The “explosive backpacks” of Neocapritermes taracua grow throughout the lifetimes of the worker termites, filling with blue crystals secreted by a pair of glands on the insects' abdomens. Older workers carry the largest and most toxic backpacks. Those individuals also, not coincidentally, are the least able to forage and tend for the colony: their mandibles become dull and worn as the termites age, because they cannot be sharpened by moulting (abstract).


Submission + - USB 3.0 100W Power Standard Could Charge Laptops (techweekeurope.co.uk)

judgecorp writes: "The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has published a Power Delivery standard which will deliver up to 100W. The specification (press release here with link to full details) includes new bi-directional — and backward compatible — USB cables, and has been proposed as the new connector between mains adapters and laptops, eliminating e-waste by standardising a proprietary component."

Submission + - Mathematical parrot reveals his genius with posthumous paper (nature.com)

ananyo writes: Even in death, the world’s most accomplished parrot continues to amaze. The final experiments involving Alex – a grey parrot trained to count objects – have just been published. They show that Alex could accurately add together Arabic numerals to a sum of eight and three sets of objects, putting his mathematical abilities on par with (and maybe beyond) those of chimpanzees and other non-human primates (abstract http://www.springerlink.com/content/q08n44457x236ln6/).

Submission + - What Could Have Been in the Public Domain on Janua (duke.edu) 1

SgtChaireBourne writes: Many works published in 1955 would have entered the public domain this year.
Duke University's Center for the Study of the Public Domain has an overview of the movies, books, songs and historical works that are kept out of the public domain by changes to copyright law since 1978. Instead of seeing these enter the public domain in 2012, we will have to wait until 2051 before being able to use these works without restriction.


Submission + - Japanese use wild monkeys to track radiation (cnn.com)

PolygamousRanchKid writes: Scientists in Japan are taking a novel approach to measuring the impact of radiation in a forest affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis: enlisting the help of local wild monkeys. Takayuki Takahashi, a professor of robotic technology at Fukushima University, told CNN Wednesday his team was working on a collar fitted with a dosimeter to measure radiation levels that could be fitted to the monkeys before they are released back into the wild. Takahashi said the experiment would help researchers understand how radiation in the forest can affect human beings, as well as wild animals. While human scientists have been monitoring radiation levels from the air, the use of monkey "assistants" will give them a clearer idea of conditions on the ground.

PRK: 'So I like kinda woke up with a dart in my arm and a collar locked around my neck . . . '


Submission + - Tracking Users from powerline signals (washington.edu)

An anonymous reader writes: A team of scientists from the University of Washington recently report at http://www.sigsac.org/ccs/CCS2011/techprogram.shtml">CCS that short (~12 minute samples) of electrical noise collected by a sensor plugged in any wall socket of a home can be used to figure out what movie is being watched on TV.

The signal being tracked is created by inadvertent electromagnetic interference (EMI) generated by modern switching power supplies. The research looked at 8 televisions of various sizes (58", 42", and 32"), technologies (Plasma, LCD), and years of manufacture (2010, 2009, 2008, 2007). The team was also able to create a neural network model that generated EMI noise matched the signature of a TV. This is similar to a previous story , but goes significantly deeper in uncovering the depth of information leakage over the powerline.

http://abstract.cs.washington.edu/~miro/docs/ccs2011.pdf">PDF link

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