Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


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Submission + - British Library Helps Lock Down More Knowledge (

Glyn Moody writes: Once again, the British Library is working with Microsoft to encourage people to use proprietary technologies instead of open ones. This time, it's giving away some open source code aimed at academic researchers, but with the catch that this software needs Windows Server, SQL Server, .NET Framework and SharePoint to work. Do publicly-funded libraries have a duty to promote open formats and open source, or is this kind of approach acceptable?

Submission + - 9th Human's DNA sequenced. This one died in 2000BC (

quaith writes: ""Inuk" is the ninth human to have their entire genome sequenced but unlike the previous eight, he has been dead for 4,000 years. Inuk had brown eyes and brown skin. His blood type was A+. He was one of the Saqqaq people, one of the first cultures to settle in the frozen north of the New World. From four small tufts of hair and four small pieces of bon, his genome has been sequenced by a large team of scientists from 8 countries. The team used next-generation sequencing technology to sequence 80% of the genome 20 times with the results comparable to a modern human genome in terms of quality."

Submission + - New Interactive Black Hole Simulation Published (

quaith writes: "The New Scientist reports on a simulation just published in the American Journal of Physics that shows how the sky would appear in the vicinity of a black hole — if an observer could actually get near one. Using real positions of around 118,000 stars, the simulation shows how the bending of light, the frequency shift, and the magnification caused by gravitational lensing and aberration in the vicinity of the black hole affect the sky's appearance. The simulation is interactive and allows the user to explore the stellar sky around the black hole. The simulation offers a couple of modes: "quasi static" or "freely falling" and the sample videos are quite spectacular. The New Scientist has a writeup, with an embedded video. The original article citation is here. The simulation, which runs on Linux or Windows, as well as sample videos can be downloaded from the University of Stuttgart website."

Submission + - Adobe Mix-up Leaves Flaw Open for 16 Months (

Trailrunner7 writes: Adobe has acknowledged that an internal screw-up caused a potentially dangerous Flash Player flaw to remain unpatched for more than 16 months after it was first reported by an external security researcher. "It slipped through the cracks," said Emmy Huang, a product manager for Flash Player. Adobe's mea-culpa follows the public release of proof-of-concept code demonstrating a Flash Player browser plug-in crash.

Submission + - Statistical Analysis of U of Chicago Graffiti ( 1

quaith writes: "Quinn Dombrowski, a member of the University of Chicago's central IT staff, has been recording the graffiti left in the Joseph Regenstein Library Since September 2007. To date, she's photographed and transcribed over 620 pieces of graffiti. Over 410 of them are datable to within a week of their creation. She has now published in Inkling Magazine a statistical analysis of the entire collection covering such subjects as love, hate, despair, sex, anatomy and temporal fluctuations of each of these — after November, both love and despair graffiti drop off significantly until spring, while sex graffiti reaches its one and only peak in December before declining for the rest of the school year. The story includes links to all of the original graffiti photos which she's made freely available to use under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license."

Submission + - International Space Station Cupola Video Released (

quaith writes: "With the Space Shuttle Endeavour scheduled to be launched at 4:39 AM EST on Sunday for a trip to the International Space Station, the European Space Agency (ESA) has released a video that shows how the modules it's carrying, Node-3 ('Tranquility') and Cupola, are going to get attached. Node-3 is a connecting module. Cupola has six trapezoidal windows and circular roof that are designed to provide a unique vantage point for observing Earth. The video animations show how the station's robotic arm will be used to first put both in place as a single module, then detach Cupola from the end of Node-3 and reattach it on the Earth-facing side. With this addition, the ISS should start to look something Jules Verne would have been interested in visiting."

Submission + - CRU Emails may have been 'unintionally shared' (

quaith writes: "The Guardian is reporting more details on how a server of the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia was hacked. This breach led to Prof. Phil Jones stepping down as head of the CRU and widespread discussion about the credibility of science. The Guardian reports that UAE has confirmed that all of this material was simply sitting in an archive on a single backup CRU server, available to be copied. Other incidents suggest the data could have been down-loadable from a public ftp site on the server. The Guardian concludes, that "if this turns out to be true, UEA may end up looking foolish. For there will be no one to arrest"."

Submission + - Europe's LHC to Run at Half-Energy through 2011 (

quaith writes: "ScienceInsider reports that Europe's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will run at half its maximum energy through 2011 and likely not at all in 2012. The previous plan was to ramp it up to 70% of maximum energy this year. Under the new plan, the LHC will run at 7 trillion electron-volts (TeV) through 2011. The LHC would then shut down for a year so workers could replace all of its 10,000 interconnects with redesigned ones allowing the LHC to run at its full 14 TeV capacity in 2013. The change raises hopes at the LHC’s lower-energy rival, the Tevatron Collider at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, of being extended through 2012 instead of being shut down next year. Fermilab researchers are hoping that their machine might collect enough data to beat the LHC to the discovery of the Higgs boson, a particle key to how physicists explain the origin of mass."

Submission + - 500 teraFLOPS Supercomputer from PlayStations ( 1

quaith writes: "The U.S. Air Force is in the process of building a supercomputer from PlayStation 3 (PS3) consoles. The Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, NY, has already built a cluster with 336 Sony PS3s and are beefing that up by another 1,700. The Air Force plans to have the 1,700 consoles fully integrated into the system by June as part of the Department of Defense's High Performance Computer Modernization Program. Once it's finished, the supercomputing cluster should be able to deliver approximately 500 teraFLOPS of computing performance; enough to land it a spot among the top ten most-powerful supercomputers today. The total cost is expected to be about $2M.


Submission + - MySQL Founder fears 'Bait and Switch' from Oracle (

ruphus13 writes: Monty Widenius has been a vocal critic of the Oracle acquisition of Sun, fearing for the future of MySQL. Now that the deal is pretty much done, Monty is very skeptical on the future, especially for the Open Source version of MySQL, and fears a 'bait and switch' from Oracle. From the interview, "It's clear that Oracle is in the game for the profit and it's in their interest to get out as much money from MySQL as they can over the long term. There will be less development of the Community version of MySQL. MySQL Enterprise will over time be only available as closed source and with a different feature set than the Community version. By keeping the price very low in the beginning for MySQL Enterprise, they will have a high conversation rate as it will be much easier to move to this than to another database. This will create an efficient lock-in and make it very hard for a MySQL 'fork' to survive or get traction, as it's almost impossible to keep things compatible. When Oracle finally raises prices, most users just have to pay..."

Submission + - Official State Microbes (

quaith writes: "It's a slow news day, so why not waste time proposing official state microbes. This list is inspired by the fact that in December, Wisconsin passed a bill giving their high honor to Lactococcus Lactis, the microbe that turns milk into cheese. There's eleven suggestions so far. The list is growing, but there's still time to make sure your state gets represented. On the Oscillator blog by Christina Agapakis"

Submission + - Fetid Fish Revise Understanding of Fossil Formatio (

grrlscientist writes: A team of paleontologists from the University of Leicester devised a new method for extracting information from 500 million year old fossils: they studied the rate and sequence of decomposition for individual physical features to better understand how our ancient fish-like ancestors might have originally looked. The team's data revealed a surprisingly consistent pattern of decomposition throughout time. This pattern shows that as these modern fish decayed, the most recently evolved features — those characters that are most informative because they distinguish closely related animals within the same lineage — rotted first. The last features to disappear were more ancient; those that are shared by all vertebrates, such the notochord. These findings indicate that some of the earliest vertebrate fossils may have been more evolutionarily advanced than previously thought.

Submission + - Decreased Water Vapor Has Offset Global Warming ( 4

quaith writes: "Nature reports that a team led by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration describe how a mysterious 10% drop in water vapor in the stratosphere since 2000 could have offset the expected warming due to greenhouse gases. The calculated offset is roughly 25%. The team's model also suggests that an increase in water vapor might have boosted earlier warming by about 30% in the 1980s and 1990s. This drop in atmospheric water vapor is now on the list of possible culprits causing average global temperatures to flatten out over the past decade, despite increasing greenhouse-gas emissions."

Submission + - New Bird-Like Theropod Found in China (

quaith writes: A report by GrrlScientist on a just published article in Science describes a new fossil theropod from the early Late Jurassic. Theropods are the group of meat-eating dinosaurs that include velociraptors and Tyrannosaurus Rex. GrrlScientist says in her post "Currently, most scientists think that birds are modern dinosaurs, but because small hollow bones like those of birds and small dinosaurs don't fossilize well, the early fossil record for birds is sparse." This fossil, found in China's Gobi Desert, is a three-dimensionally preserved nearly complete skeleton. It has has features of both dinosaurs and birds and strengthens the dinosaur-bird hypothesis.

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