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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 18 declined, 5 accepted (23 total, 21.74% accepted)

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Submission + - Student rejected for "India's rape problem". Professor reprimanded (

vigmeister writes: A professor at the University of Leipzig is in hot water for rejecting a student's internship application citing "India's rape problem". While this led to a strongly worded reprimand from the German ambassador to India, the University seems to be backing the professor. However, the story of a second student to whom this happened previously may throw the "out of context" theory to rest. What is, of course, alarming is the overtly racist tone of the professor and the apparent lack of consequences (other than a reprimand). In an occupation rife with dishonesty , bullying and "a pressure cooker culture", is racism (and tolerance to it) yet another plague that seems to permeate academia in an entirely different way compared to other professions?

Submission + - Tractable acoustic tractor beams (

vigmeister writes: Structured acoustic fields can pull macroscopic objects towards the source by means of nonconservative forces.
In order to generate the tailored acoustic field, the team used a square matrix array of about 1000 transducers, operating at ultrasound frequency (550 kilohertz), placed at the bottom of a water-filled chamber. Each one can be individually addressed, not only with on-off states, but also by programming up to eight discrete phase values. This device allows the researchers to imprint a spatial modulation on the emitted acoustic field. In this case, the generated patterns behave, in the region of interest, as a pair of plane waves whose wave vectors are symmetrically inclined towards the array centerline, where the target was suspended from a force balance. The two waves intersect at a certain height over the array plane, having a hollow core underneath; the height of the intersection point can be readjusted by changing the emission pattern from the array.

By varying the vertical position of the target, the researchers were able to obtain a detailed map of the acoustic force as a function of the distance from the object to the source plane, which was measured in terms of changes in weight of the target. Based on a theoretical analysis, two contributions of the force were clearly identified; a negative (pulling) force due to the reflection in the walls of the prisms, and a positive (pushing) one, owed to the absorbed radiation at the base. The qualitative behavior of the total force and its order of magnitude (millinewtons) agreed well with the experiments. The equilibrium position, where the two contributions of the force are exactly balanced, can be controlled by reconfiguring the acoustic field. All the measurements were done for different configurations of the acoustic pattern and for each of the two targets, whose volumes are of the order of tens of cubic centimeters.
Although the intensity gradients may play a role in the force towards the low-pressure regions, the careful design of the experiment for maximizing the forward scattering, the ability to control the equilibrium position, and the fair comparison with simulations guarantee that the main role is indeed played by the scattering force. Therefore, this is the first demonstration of a nonconservative pulling force in the acoustics realm, which complements previous demonstrations in optics.

In addition, the authors point out the potential impact that the control of acoustic forces and the generation of structured ultrasound fields may have in modern biomedical techniques. In therapeutic treatments involving focused high-intensity fields, for example, the precise control of energy deposition could be greatly improved with the use of complex beams.

Interaction between matter and waves always seems to surprise scientists in new ways. The more we advance in the study and generation of structured wave fields and novel materials, the higher the possibility of finding new effects and applications.

Submission + - Cornell researcher demonstrates precognition (

vigmeister writes: "Most science papers don’t begin with a description of psi, those “anomalous processes of information or energy transfer” that have no material explanation. (Popular examples of psi include telepathy, clairvoyance and psychokinesis.) It’s even less common for a serious science paper, published in an elite journal, to show that psi is a real phenomenon. But that’s exactly what Daryl Bem of Cornell University has demonstrated in his new paper, “Feeling the Future: Experimental Evidence for Anomalous Retroactive Influences on Cognition and Affect,” which was just published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Bem’s experimental method was extremely straightforward. He took established psychological protocols, such as affective priming and recall facilitation, and reversed the sequence, so that the cause became the effect. For instance, he might show students a long list of words and ask them to remember as many as possible. Then, the students are told to type a selection of words which had been randomly selected from the same list. Here’s where things get really weird: the students were significantly better at recalling words that they would later type."

These results are claimed to be statistically significant in the article. The relevant paper is here . If I start saving money for a rainy day does that mean I am going to get drenched in a downpour soon?

Submission + - Muslim only FaceBook for Pakistan? (

vigmeister writes: A few young entrepreneurs seem to have come up with a solution to Pakistan blocking facebook. They're seemingly working round the clock to recreate facebook and target it towards muslims. It is not just a new social networking portal. It is actually a facebook clone intended for use by the (large) facebook userbase in Pakistan who, as a country, spurned facebook for it's user generated content. Intellectual property issues aside, I am not sure why they are trying to clone facebook. They could and possibly should contribute code and resources to Diaspora which they can ostensibly simply run an installation of and target it towards Muslims.

In their youthful naivete, they also invite 'sweet' users of other religions to join in. Which, to me, sounds like an invitation to the culturally insensitive, freedom of speech wielding crowd to defeat one of the purposes of MillatFaceBook which is to avoid blasphemy rampant in the original facebook.

"We want to tell Facebook people 'if they mess with us they have to face the consequences'," warns Usman Zaheer, COO. "If someone commits blasphemy against our Prophet Mohammed then we will become his competitor and give him immense business loss"

Submission + - Artificial life created as a synthetic organism (

vigmeister writes:

Scientists in the US have succeeded in developing the first synthetic living cell. The researchers constructed a bacterium's "genetic software" and transplanted it into a host cell. The resulting microbe then looked and behaved like the species "dictated" by the synthetic DNA. The advance, published in Science, has been hailed as a scientific landmark, but critics say there are dangers posed by synthetic organisms. The researchers hope eventually to design bacterial cells that will produce medicines and fuels and even absorb greenhouse gases.

The 'synthetic' aspect and the rest of the article makes it seems like they can control the properties of the cell. Since the dangers mentioned in the article are easy to enumerate, I wonder what the scientific community can do to escape paranoid legislation. In addition to the ethical dilemma associated with this development, the philosophical ramifications are just as significant. Also, which existing religious frameworks accommodate something approaching 'creation of life'? Or is this to religion what synthesis of urea did for chemistry? P.S. Is it just a coincidence that this came about as soon as Jack took the job? *cough*God complex*cough*


Submission + - Snooping on keyboards through power sockets (

vigmeister writes: "Supposedly, most keyboards wires are poorly shielded which enables keylogging by monitoring power outlets for electricity leaking to the ground wires. "Security researchers found that poor shielding on some keyboard cables means useful data can be leaked about each character typed. By analysing the information leaking onto power circuits, the researchers could see what a target was typing. The attack has been demonstrated to work at a distance of up to 15m, but refinement may mean it could work over much longer distances. "
They then go on to mention hotel rooms as an example of a susceptible location. Perhaps I should stop packing my desktop on those business trips. On a more serious note, seeing as I am using a wired keyboard to type this, I'm curious to know if using some variety of a wireless keyboard is more secure."


Submission + - Solar plane to make public debut (

vigmeister writes: "Swiss adventurer Bertrand Picard is set to unveil a prototype of the solar-powered plane he hopes eventually to fly around the world. The initial version, spanning 61m but weighing just 1,500kg, will undergo trials to prove it can fly at night. Mr Picard, who made history by circling the globe non-stop in a balloon in 1999, says he wants to demonstrate the potential of renewable energies. He expects to make a crossing of the Atlantic in 2012. The HB-SIA has the look of a glider but is on the scale — in terms of its width — of a modern airliner. The aeroplane incorporates composite materials to keep it extremely light and uses super-efficient solar cells, batteries, motors and propellers to get it through the dark hours. The public unveiling on Friday of the HB-SIA is taking place at Dubendorf airfield near Zürich."

Submission + - Asus slaps Linux in the face ( 2

vigmeister writes: "Techgeist has an article about an 'It's better with Windows' website from Asus and MS. I think the article should've been title 'Asus stabs Linux in the back'. "Linux just got a major slap in the face today from Asus. One of the highlights of Linux going mainstream was the wildly popular Asus Eee PC preinstalled with a customized Linux distro geared towards web applications. While I personally never got what the big deal was, I was still happy for all the Linux people out there waiting for this day, but it looks like the cause for celebration won't be lasting much longer. Asus and Microsoft have teamed up and have made a site called It's Better With Windows. The page touts how easy it is to get up and ready with Windows on an Asus Eee PC, while slyly stating that you won't have to deal with an "unfamiliar environment" and "major compatibility issues." While it is silly to state such a thing since Asus built the Linux distribution specifically for the Eee PC, I give Microsoft two points for snarky comments.""

Submission + - Using WiMAX to replace a phone? (

vigmeister writes: "I've decided to explore the possibility of using a netbook/MID as a phone while eschewing the services of a cellphone provider. Now that Atlanta (where I live) has WiMAX from Clear, I ought to be connected everywhere within the city to the internet (once I sign up). Theoretically, this should mean that I will be able to use my netbook as a cell phone. Of course, there are some very real issues to overcome and I am simply putting this experiment together to see if it is something that is realistically possible. This could possibly extend to uncapped 3G connections (if they exist anymore) as well. Are there any obvious problems you would foresee? Is there anything I have missed or any other questions I should attempt to answer in this 'experiment' of mine? A major issue is, of course, the fact that my pseudo-netbook has to be carried everywhere and left always on. I've asked slashdot for advice regarding the best OS for this machine. However, if the experment is somewhat succesful, it seems as if using your netbook/MID as a phone might require a relatively customized OS which could possibly be a 'remix' of a suitable Linux distro. Something like Maemo, but not as hardware specific. Thoughts, suggestions?"

Submission + - Dubai unveils world's first cloned camel (

vigmeister writes: "Injaz, or Achievement, was unveiled to the world alongside her surrogate mother five days after being born at the city's Camel Reproduction Centre. "We are all very excited by the birth of Injaz," Dr Lulu Skidmore, the centre's scientific director, said. "This significant breakthrough in our research programme gives a means of preserving the valuable genetics of our elite racing and milk-producing camels in the future." This camel apparently shares none of its DNA with its surrogate mother. That is significant for preserving genes as claimed above. The middle east is re-emerging as a centre of science and technology after a long hiatus which bodes well for the even distribution of technology globally. However, what happens when this technology becomes accessible to countries which have lower moral standards than accepted by the majority of the world as a baseline?"

Submission + - Is buying intl. editions of textbooks legal?

vigmeister writes: "As a current poor graduate student(TM), a few friends and I were discussing the legality of purchasing brand new international editions of textbooks while in the US from websites like NBCIndia and third party sellers on Amazon, eBay and other websites. The cost of these textbooks is often a fraction of their cost in USD. Students snap up the international editions of these textbooks with great eagerness since you typically pay between $20 and $30 (incl. shipping) for textbooks that are priced between $100 and $200 for the US editions. A quick search online reveals no conclusive evidence regarding the issue.
So my question is this: Is the sale of these books by sellers located outside the US legal if they ship the product to the US? What if the financial transaction takes place abroad and the book is sent to your US address? Are the purchasers victims or are they also guilty of any wrongdoing? Since students often re-sell these books, the legality of their initial purchase determines the legality of their resale (even when the first-sale doctrine is considered).
More importantly, is it constitutional for publishers to restrict the sale of international editions in the US? How does this apply to other products that are outside the purview of copyright law?"
Operating Systems

Submission + - Best OS for netbooks and underpowered tablets

vigmeister writes: "I joined the netbook bandwagon early this year in a rather odd fashion by picking up an outdated portable tablet (Fujitsu P1510) which just about matches the latest greatest netbooks for their performance and portability features while nipping them by managing to be a tablet and give me a better battery life. I have been happy using XP Tablet on this machine until recently when I have started feeling that by optimizing the OS for targeted use, I may be able to squeeze more out of the device. I don't see very many netbooks or ultraportables around me, so I ask slashdot these questions that are probably useful for a large userbase here :
1) What OS would you recommend for a netbook/outdated laptop? Usage is typically light — web surfing (with multimedia), email, word processing, spreadsheet and reading pdfs.
2) What OS would you recommend for a ultraportable tablet? Usage is similar to a netbook, but now we have a tablet on our hands. There's a little more document editing going on and good handwriting recognition and notetaking software would be great.
I would like for the user experience to be snappy on a computer that is essentially running the equivalent of a 1.2 GHz PIII with 512mb RAM. The other objective for both of these is to maximize the battery life as that is the major drawback of these ultraportables. A small memory footprint would work wonders since the hard drives on these devices are typically slow and completely suck the joy out of using them when swap space is being used. Any tips? If you are still using your outdated laptops/tablets productively, please share with us how you're doing so so we can too."

Submission + - Princeton investigated for reverse discrimination (

vigmeister writes: "
Do elite universities hold Asian-Americans to higher standards than other applicants? Do Ivy League schools set caps on the number of high-achieving minority students admitted, comparing Asian-American applicants against one another instead of the rest of the applicant pool? These questions were recently recharged by word that the Education Department will broaden its investigation of Princeton University's admissions process, a probe that began after an applicant filed a federal civil rights complaint saying the school spurned him because of his race.
Lot of top flight universities seem to be limiting numbers of Asian American students getting admitted. However, the specific student who filed a case against Princeton assumes that SAT scores and grades get you into college. What about all the essays, recommendations and extra-curricular activities that people harped on about when we applied to college? Does this discrimination affect students in certain fields more than others? Are students from the Indian subcontinent included in the category of "Asian American"? Incidentally, I am watching the Chinpokomon episode of South Park."

PlayStation (Games)

Submission + - PS3 Blu-ray disc readable on your PC (

vigmeister writes: "
Knowing that the PS3 games use Blu-ray discs, have you ever wondered about popping in one of your game discs into a Blu-ray drive on your PC to see if you could read it? Since Blu-ray drives are still really expensive, probably not. Even if you did have one it wouldn't do much good, unless you had a Lite-ON DH-401S that is.
This Lite-On Blu-ray drive that can read your PS3 game discs. Makes me question how strong the DRM on PS3 game discs is since Sony's gonna need all the DRM they can get."

It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - Shrink claims liberalism is a mental disorder (

vigmeister writes: "
Just when liberals thought it was safe to start identifying themselves as such, an acclaimed, veteran psychiatrist is making the case that the ideology motivating them is actually a mental disorder. "Based on strikingly irrational beliefs and emotions, modern liberals relentlessly undermine the most important principles on which our freedoms were founded," says Dr. Lyle Rossiter, author of the new book, "The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness." "Like spoiled, angry children, they rebel against the normal responsibilities of adulthood and demand that a parental government meet their needs from cradle to grave." While political activists on the other side of the spectrum have made similar observations, Rossiter boasts professional credentials and a life virtually free of activism and links to "the vast right-wing conspiracy."
When did the the line between professional opinions and personal convictions get blurred so?"

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The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.