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Comment Re: Possible explanation (Score 2) 74

Amongst other groups, I think that more than likely. Most crop circles in the UK tend to occur in a belt across the South of England that includes GCHQ, several stone circles including Stonehenge, several universities including Oxford and Warwick, then London, and is well served by arterial roads to facilitate fairly rapid access to suitable fields. Factor in that the crops ripen in autumn, just after the new intake of student happens each year, and there are some pretty obvious potential sources of perpetrators who would have the necessary math, ingenuity, inclination and sense of humour necessary to pull it off.

Comment Re: Possible explanation (Score 3, Interesting) 74

No, that was my point - I thought I'd emphasised that in the last line. It might - quite literally - have come out of a field of study riddled with hoaxes and kooks, but it does appear that Hawkins discovered a set of previously unknown Euclidean-style geometric relationships in his meticulous study of the various designs the perpetrators used.

Comment Re:Possible explanation (Score 2, Interesting) 74

I recalled something on this too, so I did a little Googling. Turns out that a former Chair of the Astronomy Dept. at Boston University called Gerald S. Hawkins did indeed propose some theories based on designs found in crop circles. There's more than a little kookiness in the search results because a lot of the nature of the topic, not helped by some echos of Gödel Escher Bach with some musical connections in his findings, but there does appear to be some genuine math behind it - although it's questionable whether the perpetrators of the crop circles were just using trial and error or actually doing the math first. Basically, it all comes down to relationships between nested regular polygons that touch at each vertex or mid-point of an edge, e.g. a circle that touches all four corners of a square and so on. Euclid documented many of these, but Hawkins supposedly found a bunch of new variations that he (or anyone else) failed to find any evidence of past proofs for; it's hardly up there with Pythagoras' theorem, but they are genuine geometric theorems.

Submission + - Melinda Gates' Guide to Holiday STEM Shopping

theodp writes: In My Guide to Holiday Gifts, Melinda Gates presents "a STEM gift guide, with ideas for toys, games, and books that I hope will delight kids while encouraging them to find creative answers to challenging puzzles." Truth be told, the world's richest Mom's gift guide is less than inspiring; it certainly pales by comparison to Amazon's STEM picks. Back in 2009, Slashdot discussed science gifts for kids. So, how about a 2016 update?

Comment Re:Reads Like An Ad (Score 1) 357

Truly energy-producing fusion is not available even in bombs.

Sure it is. The fusion components of boosted and multi-stage bombs produce lots of energy. In two or three stage devices that use inert tampers fusion produces the vast amount of energy.

The earliest known incidence of a three-stage device being tested, with the third stage, called the tertiary, being ignited by the secondary, was May 27, 1956 in the Bassoon device. This device was tested in the Zuni shot of Operation Redwing. This shot used non fissionable tampers; an inert substitute material such as tungsten or lead was used. Its yield was 3.5 megatons, 85% fusion and only 15% fission.

The public records for devices that produced the highest proportion of their yield via fusion-only reactions are the Peaceful nuclear explosions of the 1970s, with the 3 detonations that excavated part of Pechora–Kama Canal, being cited as 98% fusion each in the Taiga test's 15 kiloton explosive yield devices, that is, a total fission fraction of 0.3 kilotons in a 15 kt device.[35] The 50 megaton Tsar Bomba at 97% fusion,[36] the 9.3 megaton Hardtack Poplar test at 95.2%,[37] and the 4.5 megaton Redwing Navajo test at 95% fusion.[38]

Comment Re:No mention of the internet architecture of cour (Score 2) 83

Not really, they are *all* part of the problem, including all of the people pointing fingers - no one is perfect at security, nor will anyone they ever be if you are realistic, although I do agree that lax end-user ISPs are playing a huge part in this particular instance with Mirai and its derivatives - e.g. TalkTalk is still a huge source of the Mirai traffic being dropped by my firewall, whereas Eircom and Deutsche Telekom are now dropping off fast. The security principles of defense in depth, while normally applied by an individual organization, can be applied on the large scale as well, and that's what's ultimately needed here - the issue is coercing people who are able to do something but can't be bothered to actually do it, and that generally means some form of legislation. *Everyone*, regardless of whether they are a device maker (of IoT devices and routers), end user, service provider, or backbone carrier, needs to assume that their devices and/or users are dumb, and put appropriate security and mitigation measures in place to the best of their ability. You're never going to completely fix the problem, so the best you can do is to try as hard as you can to mitigate against the damage with the resources you have, and hopefully that will be enough to reduce the problem to a mere nuisance.

Submission + - Can't Hear in Noisy Places is a real medical condition (

turkeydance writes: called Hidden Hearing Loss:
Now there’s growing evidence that the causes of problems processing speech amid noise are different than the causes of problems hearing sound. Scientists believe exposure to loud noises can erode the brain’s ability to listen selectively and decode words, without causing traditional hearing damage. Difficulty understanding speech amid noise can set in long before traditional hearing loss.
Hearing loss in adults is usually associated with damage to the tiny hair cells that line the inner ear and transfer sound signals to nerve fibers that lead to the brain. Aging, trauma and noise exposure can all cause those hair cells to deteriorate.

New research suggests that the synapses connecting the hair cells to nerve fibers are even more vulnerable and suffer permanent damage long before the hair cells deteriorate, bringing about the difficulties in selective listening.

Submission + - Twitter Cuts API Access for Surveillance Tool That Let Police Spy on Activists

blottsie writes: Twitter has cut ties with a third social network surveillance firm, citing company policies intended to safeguard users against the surreptitious collection of data by law enforcement agencies, according to an exclusive report from the Daily Dot.

The severed contract follows Twitter nullifying the commercial data agreements of two other leading social-network-surveillance firms, Geofeedia and Snaptrends.

The company, Ontario-based Media Sonar, brazenly advertised its software in private talks with police as useful for monitoring activists across multiple social networks, documents obtained through open-records requests show.

Submission + - Yik Yak Lays Off 60 Percent of Employees As Growth Collapses (

An anonymous reader writes: Yik Yak has laid 60 percent of employees amid a downturn in the app’s growth prospects, The Verge has learned. The three-year-old anonymous social network has raised $73.5 million from top-tier investors on the promise that its young, college-age network of users could one day build a company to rival Facebook. But the challenge of growing its community while moving gradually away from anonymity has so far proven to be more than the company could muster. Employees who were affected were informed of the layoffs Thursday morning, sources told The Verge. Yik Yak employed about 50 people, and now only about 20 remain, the company said. The community, marketing, design, and product teams were all deeply affected, one source said. Atlanta-based Yik Yak was founded in 2014 by Furman University students Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington. The app updated the concept of dorm newsletters for the mobile era, letting anyone post comments about school, their campus, or life in general. The fact that comments were anonymous initially helped the app grow, as it encouraged more candid forms of sharing than students might otherwise post on Facebook or Instagram.

Submission + - Cisco: Zeus spawn "Floki bot" malware gaining use, cyber-underworld notorieity (

coondoggie writes: “[Floki bot] is based on the same codebase that was used by the infamous Zeus trojan, the source code of which was leaked in 2011. Rather than simply copying the features that were present within the Zeus trojan ‘as-is’, Floki Bot claims to feature several new capabilities making it an attractive tool for criminals,” Talos wrote.

Submission + - US Life Expectancy Declines For the First Time Since 1993 (

An anonymous reader writes: For the first time in more than two decades, life expectancy for Americans declined last year — a troubling development linked to a panoply of worsening health problems in the United States. Rising fatalities from heart disease and stroke, diabetes, drug overdoses, accidents and other conditions caused the lower life expectancy revealed in a report released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics. In all, death rates rose for eight of the top 10 leading causes of death. The new report raises the possibility that major illnesses may be eroding prospects for an even wider group of Americans. Its findings show increases in “virtually every cause of death. It’s all ages,” said David Weir, director of the health and retirement study at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. Over the past five years, he noted, improvements in death rates were among the smallest of the past four decades. “There’s this just across-the-board [phenomenon] of not doing very well in the United States.” Overall, life expectancy fell by one-tenth of a year, from 78.9 in 2014 to 78.8 in 2015, according to the latest data. The last time U.S. life expectancy at birth declined was in 1993, when it dropped from 75.6 to 75.4, according to World Bank data. The overall death rate rose 1.2 percent in 2015, its first uptick since 1999. More than 2.7 million people died, about 45 percent of them from heart disease or cancer.

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