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Submission + - Linking mass extinctions to the Sun's journey in the Milky Way (

schwit1 writes: In a paper published today on the Los Alamos astro-ph preprint service, astronomers propose that as many as eleven past extinction events can be linked to the Sun’s passage through the spiral arms of the Milky Way. (You can download the paper here [pdf].)

A correlation was found between the times at which the Sun crosses the spiral arms and six known mass extinction events. Furthermore, we identify five additional historical mass extinction events that might be explained by the motion of the Sun around our Galaxy. These five additional significant drops in marine genera that we find include significant reductions in diversity at 415, 322, 300, 145 and 33 Myr ago. Our simulations indicate that the Sun has spent ~60% of its time passing through our Galaxy’s various spiral arms.

Submission + - Crunching the Numbers On Shared Cellphone Contracts (

itwbennett writes: The Wall Street Journal has a handy online calculater to help you sort out which phone plan is best for you. But one thing you'll notice is that shared or 'family' plans rarely offer any real savings, or benefits beyond the convenience of having a single bill, says blogger Kevin Purdy, who is bracing himself to propose a phone plan separation with his wife.

Submission + - Voyager Reaches Mystery Interstellar Doorstep (

astroengine writes: Voyager’s prolonged journey into interstellar space took another dramatic turn when the intrepid space probe last summer passed into a bizarre and unanticipated cosmic hallway between the bubble of space under the sun’s influence and whatever lies beyond. On the celestial highway since September 1977, the Voyager 1 probe soared past Jupiter and Saturn in 1979 and 1980, respectively, then ended up an a path that led toward interstellar space. Eventually, the spacecraft will get there, but exactly when that will happen — and what else it may encounter before then — is anybody’s guess. “The results of the measurements from Voyager have been surprising us not just since last August, but for about the last 2.5 years,” astronomer Stamatios Krimigis, with Johns Hopkinds University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, told Discovery News.

Submission + - How One Brooklyn Start-Up is Revolutionizing the Street Sign (

An anonymous reader writes: Hungry for new technology? Chew on this: Breakfast, a multifaceted, Brooklyn-based company, has designed and built a revolutionary new street sign known as Points that quite literally points you in the direction of whatever it is you're craving. The start-up, which aims to create a link between the online world and the real world, specializes in combining custom robotics with superior design, enhanced digital experiences, and "[good] ol' fashioned fun" to create the products of the future. To learn more about Points and what goes on behind the scenes at Breakfast, we spoke with one of the company's co-founders, Michael Lipton, about their latest innovation...

(Click the provided link to read the entire interview.)

Submission + - Hacking and attacking automated homes (

colinneagle writes: If you use the Z-Wave wireless protocol for home automation then you might prepare to have your warm, fuzzy, happiness bubble burst; there will be several presentations about attacking the automated house at the upcoming Las Vegas hackers' conferences Black Hat USA 2013 and Def Con 21. For example, CEDIA IT Task force member Bjorn Jensen said, "Today, I could scan for open ports on the Web used by a known control system, find them, get in and wreak havoc on somebody's home. I could turn off lights, mess with HVAC systems, blow speakers, unlock doors, disarm alarm systems and worse."

Among other things, the hacking Z-Wave synopsis adds, "Zigbee and Z-wave wireless communication protocols are the most common used RF technology in home automation systems...An open source implementation of the Z-wave protocol stack, openzwave, is available but it does not support the encryption part as of yet. Our talk will show how the Z-Wave protocol can be subjected to attacks."

Submission + - Potentially Deadly Asian Bug 'Aedes Albopictus' To Infest New Jersey (

Rebecka Schumann writes: An aggressive, Asian, blood-sucking bug known as the tiger mosquito is anticipated to hit the East Coast this summer, an insect that is feared will spread potentially deadly diseases throughout the state of New Jersey. The bug (scientific name: “Aedes albopictus” or “albo") is expected to make an appearance for the first time this summer since it was discovered in the state in 1995. While other mosquitoes are well-known for completing the majority of their blood-sucking after sundown, tiger mosquitoes are known to attack its human victims during daylight hours.

According to a report from ABC News, officials are concerned over the upcoming swarm due to the bug’s ability to spread up to four viral diseases including West Mile and unlike other mosquitoes, is known to primarily bite its human prey during daylight hours. The bug is reportedly "impossible" to remove and is "here to stay."

Submission + - Robotic Kiosk Stores Digital Copies Of Physical Keys

An anonymous reader writes: The New York Daily News reports that a startup company in Manhattan is putting robotic key copying machines in 7-Eleven stores. The machines can automatically create physical copies of common apartment and office keys. What is more interesting is that they allow users to save digital copies of their keys, which can later be created when the original is lost or the user is locked out of their home.

Submission + - Popular smartphone and free app used to get data from chip-enabled credit cards. (

An anonymous reader writes: CBC is reporting: Using a Samsung Galaxy SIII — one of the most popular smartphones available in Canada — and a free app downloaded from the Google Play store, CBC was able to read information such as a card number, expiry date and cardholder name simply holding the smartphone over a debit or credit card. And it could be done through wallets, pockets and purses.

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