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Submission + - Rosetta finds Organic Space Dust (esa.int)

phantomfive writes: Rosetta’s dust-analysing COSIMA (COmetary Secondary Ion Mass Analyser) instrument has made the first unambiguous detection of solid organic matter in the dust particles ejected by Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, in the form of complex carbon-bearing molecules.

While organics had already been detected in situ on the comet’s surface by instruments on-board Philae and from orbit by Rosetta’s ROSINA , those were both in the form of gases resulting from the sublimation of ices. By contrast, COSIMA has made its detections in solid dust.

Their presence was only ever hinted at in previous comet missions.

Comment Re:Ever heard of mutah? (Score 2) 161

There is however strict laws about the women involved in this... [...] For example, they cannot have vaginal sex with 2 different men within a week of each other... After all, they must grieve one husband before the next.

Actually the mandatory intermediary period is usually more than 1 week (usually at least a month), and the reason is very pragmatic: if a child is born, it needs to be clear who is the father.

As you've already discovered, among various Islamic schools of theology there is vigorous disagreement about whether mut'ah is permitted or not. The most prominent distinction is that among Shiites it's mostly permitted and among Sunnis mostly forbidden, but there are Sunni communities there are some who practice mut'ah as well. Like with most details of Islamic law, people will have strong normative opinions. Instead of looking at the wide variety of things that Muslims are actually practicing in the world, they will claim that their opinion represents the whole of Islam and that everybody else is wrong. Since every side can draw on 1400 years' of theological debate to show that they are right and you aren't, and at the base of it there are texts that can be interpreted in different wys, but are considered sacred and must not be questioned, this kind of debate tends to degenerate very quickly.

Comment Fixed, and apparently not a HTTPS issue (Score 5, Informative) 96

The security issue seems to be fixed as of KeePass 2.3.4 and it looks like the discussion about HTTPS and ads is missing the point. From the website (http://keepass.info/help/kb/sec_issues.html#updsig):

"There have been some articles about automatic KeePass updates being vulnerable. This section clarifies the situation and its resolution.

First of all, we would like to note that KeePass cannot update itself. KeePass does support checking for updates (optional; by downloading a version information file, comparing the available with the installed version number, and displaying a notification if necessary). However, it neither downloads nor installs any new version automatically. Users have to do this manually.

KeePass can be downloaded from many servers (SourceForge with its many mirror servers, FossHub, etc.). In order to make sure that the downloaded file is official, users should check whether the file is digitally signed (Authenticode; all KeePass binaries are signed, including the installer, KeePass.exe and all other EXE and DLL files). The digital signature can be checked using Windows Explorer by right-clicking the file -> 'Properties' -> tab 'Digital Signatures'. When running the installer, the UAC dialog displays the digital signature information, i.e. users who carefully read the UAC dialog do not have to inspect the file properties separately. This is recommended for all users, independent of where you download KeePass from.

The KeePass website links to SourceForge for downloading KeePass. However, even if SourceForge (or the KeePass website) is compromised and serves a malicious download, users who check the digital signature will notice the attack and will not run the malware. Note that HTTPS cannot prevent a compromise of the download server; checking the digital signature does.

The version information file is downloaded from the KeePass website over HTTP. Thus a man in the middle (someone who can intercept your connection to the KeePass website) could have returned an incorrect version information file, possibly making KeePass display a notification that a new KeePass version is available. However, the next steps (downloading and installing the new version) must be carried out by the user manually, and here users who check the digital signature will notice the attack.

Resolution. In order to prevent a man in the middle from making KeePass display incorrect version information (even though this does not imply a successful attack, see above), the version information file is now digitally signed (using RSA-2048 and SHA-512). KeePass 2.34 and higher only accept such a digitally signed version information file. This solution is more secure than just using HTTPS, because it guarantees version information safety even when the webserver is compromised (the private key for signing the version information is not stored on the webserver)."

Comment Re:Why now? (Score 2) 347

If you wonder why Facebook suddenly cracks down on unkind posts about immigrants, here is the reason: - during new year celebrations hordes of immigrants sexually assaulted German women in Cologne and other cities - media kept it quiet for about a week. Hard to say if it was case of self-censorship or pressure from federal government - after a week coverup finally failed due to increasing discussion of the events of Facebook. At that time German government have not managed to get Facebook to remove any mentions of cologne attacks - apparently Facebook finally caved and will participate in future media blackouts when hordes of immigrants get violent next time. Merkel bet her career on 'success' of immigration plan and since she cannot actually prevent immigrants from assaulting, robbing and raping, the only way forward is to cover up everything. This could not work without compliance of social media

Let's put some of that right:

  • the main problem on New Year's Eve in Cologne was (a) inadequate policing near the cathedral where the assaults happened, and (b) that the police tried to cover this up in their initial report. Cologne police already has a bad reputation for cover-ups and various incidents, there have been calls for police reform in Cologne for a while now.
  • as for the "media being silent for a week": New Year's Eve was a Thursday; Friday January 1 was a public holiday, followed by a weekend, so that most media outlets were severely understaffed and initially relied on the police reports. Cologne itself has two local newspapers: Kölner Express and Kölner Stadtanzeiger. "Express" is a tabloid and initially copied the police report. "Stadtanzeiger" had detailed coverage on the events in their first issue after the events, on Saturday January 2. As soon as it became clear that the police report was untrustworthy, other media got up to speed, and their issues of Monday and Tuesday January 4-5 (three to four days after the facts) were full of reports. Now that is still a long time, but not "silent for a week" and clearly not silenced from above.
  • after that, mainstream media were full of op-eds and detailed pieces analyzing how it could happen that this was reported so late (again, 3-4 days), with lots of self-criticism (that you seem to to have read, chosen to ignore, or chosen not to believe).
  • there are a lot of conspiracy theorists around who believe that the media "are controlled from above", are "silenced" etc.. These people have a strangely linear, vertical, and antiquated understanding of how German redactions work. These people are also stuck in the 1990s in that they completely ignore the boom of media outlets that has happened with the appearance of social media in general. It is now next to impossible to completely silence the media on any issue, because iany single person who were to be silenced and disagrees about it, immediately has lots of other outlets. The price for that is that on those outlets there is a bad signal/noise ratio and a lot of shit floating around (so reputation does matter).
  • we are in a situation in Germany now where right-wing hate crimes (physical attacks up to murder and arson) are on the rise and are outnumbering other ideologically motivated crime, including left-wing and religious extremists, by a wide margin. This is in spite of the tendency of police and conservative politicians to be "blind on the right eye" - left-wing crime historically gets persecuted more extensively in Germany because of the history of left-wing terrorism of the 1970s. We have a major neo-Nazi problem in Germany now that is coming from below, and mostly (but not exclusively) from the east.
  • as an expresson of this trend towards the right, German Facebook in particular has become full a lot of right-wing sentiment that sometimes takes very ugly expressions. It's not only "concerned citizens", some of these people are actually stating that they intend to murder someone, or calling other people to do it. Like it or not, under German law this is a crime, and these people are not only sick fucks, they are also criminals. Now for the last few years, we were in the strange situation that Facebook would censor pictures of nipples, but would not censor openly neo-Nazi statements calling to set fire to immigrant dormitories. All that is happening now is that Facebook is starting to realize that there is a problem - with the law as well as with its own reputation - and is starting to react and to follow the law.
  • German neo-Nazis are realizing that times are changing, and have now started to move from Facebook to other social networks, mostly to VKontakte (a Russian social network). Let's see how long that will work out.

Submission + - LHC Season 2 is about to start testing the frontiers of physics (web.cern.ch)

An anonymous reader writes: The final preparations for the second run of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are in place. This week, it is expected to start taking new data with collisions at the record-breaking energy of 13 teraelectronvolts (TeV).

There are a lot of expectations about this new LHC season. In one of CERN's articles physicists tell of their hopes for new discoveries during the LHC's second run. "They speak of dark matter,supersymmetry, the Higgs boson, antimatter, current theory in particle physics and its limits as well as new theoretical models that could extend it".

Submission + - US Customs destroys Virtuoso's Flutes because they were "agricultural items" (bostonglobe.com) 2

McGruber writes: Flute virtuoso Boujemaa Razgui performed on a variety of flutes of varying ethnicity, each made by himself over years for specific types of ancient and modern performance. Razgui has performed with many US ensembles and is a regular guest with the diverse and enterprising Boston Camerata (http://www.bostoncamerata.com/index.html).

Last week, Razgui flew from Morocco to Boston, with stops in Madrid and New York. In New York, he says, a US Customs official opened his luggage and found the 13 flutelike instruments — 11 nays and two kawalas. Razgui says he had made all of the instruments using hard-to-find reeds. “They said this is an agriculture item,” said Razgui, who was not present when his bag was opened. “I fly with them in and out all the time and this is the first time there has been a problem. This is my life.” When his baggage arrived in Boston, the instruments were gone. He was instead given a number to call. “They told me they were destroyed,” he says. “Nobody talked to me. They said I have to write a letter to the Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. This is horrible. I don’t know what to do. I’ve never written letters to people.” (http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/names/2014/01/01/customs-officials-destroys-flute-virtuoso-instruments/HRnFgh1FwIqY5n2FdoKlMN/story.html)

Novelist Norman Lebrecht was the first to report the story. One ensemble director told him that 'I can’t think of an uglier, stupider thing for the U.S. government to do than to deprive this man of the tools of his art and a big piece of his livelihood.’ (http://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2013/12/outrage-at-jfk-as-customs-men-smash-flutes.html)

Submission + - Are High MOOC Failure Rates a Bug or a Feature?

theodp writes: In The Online Education Revolution Drifts Off Course, NPR's Eric Westervelt reports that 2013 might be dubbed the year that online education fell back to earth. Westervelt joins others in citing the higher failure rate of online students as evidence that MOOCs aren't all they're cracked up to be. But viewed another way, the ability to try and fail without dire debt or academic consequences that's afforded by MOOCs could be viewed as a feature and not a bug. Being able to learn at one's own pace is what Dr. Yung Tae Kim has long argued is something STEM education sorely lacks, and MOOCs make it feasible to allow students to try-try-again if at first they don't succeed. By the way, if you couldn't scrape together $65,000 to take CS50 in-person at Harvard this year, today's the first day of look-Ma-no-tuition CS50x (review), kids!

Comment Re:Carpet (Score 2) 95

It's not carpet, they're styrofoam plates to imitate embossed plaster. You see that quite often in flats in Soviet-era prefab apartment blocks.

People used that sort of thing as part of low-to-medium-end remodels to individualize their flats a little bit, in particular in the 1990s, together with closing their balconies with masonry to get a little bit of extra (super-small) floor space, partly removing the inner wall sections to get a more individual layout, and moving the kitchens to the balcony to use the former kitchen as an extra room.

Comment Re:What would happen to the birds? (Score 1) 387

If we look at the basic pattern behind your arguments, we find the following:

  • Plant X is a very old design - with modern designs that couldn't happen
  • The number of deaths is exaggerated anyway
  • Other death sources are much more prominent, but are ignored

You use them for wind power (Altamont Pass is old anyway, there aren't really that many bird deaths anyway, more birds get killed by cars than by windmills). However, interestingly enough they're exactly the same kinds of arguments a nuke defender would use (Fukushima is old anyway, not that many human deaths can be directly attributed to it anyway, more humans get killed by cars than by nuke plants).

I'm not saying either is right or wrong, but it's just very interesting to note just how similar the line of argument gets as soon as people are on the defensive.

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