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Pluto's Outer Moons Orbit Chaotically, With Unpredictable Sunrises and Sunsets 92

StartsWithABang writes: Few things in this world are as regular as sunrise and sunset. With the application of a little physics, you can predict exactly where and when the sun will rise or set from any location on Earth. Thus far, every world in our Solar System — planet, moon and asteroid — has had the exact same experience as us. But out in the Kuiper belt, Pluto is different. The only known world in the Solar System where a significant fraction of the system's mass is not in a single component, the outer moons of the Pluto-Charon system provide a unique environment to study how planets might behave in orbit around binary stars. The amazing takeaway? The rotational part of the orbit is chaotic; the worlds tumble, and hence sunrises and sunsets are no longer predictable.

Startup Magic Leap Hires Sci-Fi Writer Neal Stephenson As Chief Futurist 48

First time accepted submitter giulioprisco writes Magic Leap, a secretive Florida augmented reality startup that raised $542 million in October, hired renowned science fiction writer Neal Stephenson as its "Chief Futurist." Stephenson offers hints at the company's technology and philosophy: "Magic Leap is bringing physics, biology, code, and design together to build a system that is going to blow doors open for people who create things." According to the Magic Leap website, their Dynamic Digitized Lightfield Signal technology permits generating images indistinguishable from real objects.

Linus Torvalds Celebrates 20 Years of Windows 3.11 With Linux 3.11-rc5 Launch 113

hypnosec writes "Linus Torvalds released Linux 3.11-rc5 yesterday wishing that it would have been a lovely coincidence if he were able to release final Linux 3.11 as on the exact same day 20 years ago Microsoft released Windows 3.11. 'Sadly, the numerology doesn't quite work out, and while releasing the final 3.11 today would be a lovely coincidence (Windows 3.11 was released twenty years ago today), it is not to be,' notes Torvalds in the release announcement."

Carnivorous Plant Ejects Junk DNA 116

sciencehabit writes "The carnivorous humped bladderwort, found on all continents except Antarctica, is a model of ruthless genetic efficiency. Only 3% of this aquatic plant's DNA is not part of a known gene, new research shows. In contrast, only 2% of human DNA is part of a gene. The bladderwort, named for its water-filled bladders that suck in unsuspecting prey, is a relative of the tomato. The finding overturns the notion that this repetitive, non-coding DNA, popularly called 'junk' DNA, is necessary for life."

Cyber Monday and Amazon's Online Dominance 174

sturgeon writes "A report out this morning pegs Amazon with a whopping 14% share of all daily Internet users — almost twice the nearest competitor (Ebay). And this number does not include all shopping sites absorbed by the growing Amazon empire. The original report has interesting graphics comparing Amazon to other retailers like Best Buy."

Romney-Ryan Release Space Policy Paper 378

RocketAcademy writes "The Romney-Ryan campaign has released a white paper on space policy, which observers find to be long on criticisms of the Obama Administration but short on specific recommendations. The policy promises 'a robust role for commercial space,' but it's clearly a supporting role: 'NASA will set the goals and lead the way in human space exploration.' When it comes to space, both parties put government ahead of private enterprise. Some see a parallel with the policies which are driving space companies out of California. Newt Gingrich, one of the few politicians who thinks seriously about space, says the policy is a step in the right direction but not enough."

EyeRing Could Help Blind People See Objects 31

cylonlover writes "Generally speaking, the vast majority of augmented reality applications that enhance the world around us by overlaying digital content on images displayed on smartphone, tablet or computer screens are aimed squarely at the sighted user. A team from the Fluid Interfaces Group at MIT's Media Lab has developed a chunky finger-worn device called EyeRing that translates images of objects captured through a camera lens into aural feedback to aid the blind."

Looking Back At the Commodore 64 263

An anonymous reader writes "It's the 30th anniversary of the Commodore 64 this week — news that has made more than a few gaming enthusiasts feel their age. This story looks back at some of the peculiarities that made the machine so special — a true mass-market computer well into the era where a computer in every home was a novelty idea, not a near reality."
The Internet

Democratic Super PAC Buys 630

netbuzz writes "The purchase of by a Democratic Super PAC — and the use of it to highlight Newt Gingrich's political weaknesses — is either amusing or a dirty trick, depending on your politics and your view of the Republican presidential hopeful. In either case, however, it is a cautionary tale about the importance of controlling your brand online, a task that is about to get more difficult for everyone thanks to the impending expansion of generic top-level domains."

Google's Amazon River Street View Project Screenshot-sm 45

Thanks to Google and the Foundation for a Sustainable Amazon (FAS), your days of paddling up and down the Amazon basin looking for a fishing camp are over. Google is expanding its Street View service to cover a 30-mile section of the Rio Negro River tributary from Manaus to Terra Preta. FAS project leader Gabriel Ribenboim said, "It is very important to show the world not only the environment and the way of life of the traditional population, but to sensitize the world to the challenges of climate change, deforestation and combating poverty."

Yahoo, Facebook Test "Six Degrees of Separation" Screenshot-sm 228

An anonymous reader writes "Yahoo has partnered with Facebook to test the iconic social experiment known as 'six degrees of separation' (everyone is on average approximately six steps away from any other person on Earth). The goal of the Small World Experiment is to determine the social path length between two strangers by tapping into the world's largest social network and its 750 million users, each of whom have an average of 130 friends." Looks like a fun project, but not quite as useful as knowing how close you are to Kevin Bacon.

Happy System Administrator Appreciation Day Screenshot-sm 220

alphadogg writes "It's the last Friday in July. Have you hugged your system administrators today? Bought a cake? Picked up the tab for lunch? There's still time to show your thanks for the unsung heroes who keep corporate desktops, servers and networks running. Today is System Administrator Appreciation Day, an annual event thought up by IT pro Ted Kekatos. A company picnic and an old HP advertisement sparked the idea for the first SysAdmin Day, now in its 12th year."

iPhone 4 Survives Fall From Skydiver's Pocket Screenshot-sm 233

tripleevenfall sent in a link with a story that is sure to be the basis for the next iPhone 4 commercial. From the article: "Jarrod McKinney's iPhone 4 — a notoriously fragile device — cracked when his 2-year-old knocked it off a bathroom shelf. So it's easy to see why McKinney, a 37-year-old in Minnesota, would be 'just absolutely shocked' when that same phone survived a fall from his pocket — while he was skydiving from 13,500 feet."

Stanford Students Build "JediBot" Screenshot-sm 157

An anonymous reader writes "By combining a dexterous robotic arm, a foam-padded lightsaber, the movement tracking capabilities of Microsoft's Kinect sensor, and some clever software, students at Stanford University have created what can only be called a JediBot. Using a series of pre-programmed 'attack moves', and Kinect to detect the location of the enemy's light saber, JediBot can attack and defend with surprising grace. For now its attack moves are fairly slow — it can only attack once every 2 or 3 seconds — but presumably you could tweak a knob (and remove the foam padding) to turn JediBot into a real killing machine." I look forward to model that can also "force choke" an opponent.

Happy Tau Day Screenshot-sm 298

Forget about Pi Day, today we celebrate something twice as good: Tau Day. For far too long, Pi has been the bride and Tau has been the bridesmaid. As Michael Hartl points out in The Tau Manifesto, "Pi is a confusing and unnatural choice for the circle constant." He is giving a talk at the California Institute of Technology based on the Manifesto, with pie served at the end. "Twice as many as you might expect," he says.

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