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Submission + - When did Irene stop being a hurricane? (blogspot.com)

jamesl writes: Cliff Mass, a climate researcher at the University of Washington and popular Seattle blogger asks, "When did Irene stop being a hurricane?"

" ... there is really no reliable evidence of hurricane-force winds at any time the storm was approaching North Carolina or moving up the East Coast."

"I took a look at all the observations over Virgina, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York. Not one National Weather Service or FAA observation location, not one buoy observations, none reach the requisite wind speed. Most were not even close."

"Surely, one of the observations upwind of landfall, over Cape Hatteras or one of the other barrier island locations, indicated hurricane-force sustained winds? Amazingly, the answer is still no."

Cliff supports his statement with data from NOAA/NWS/NDBC presented in easy to understand charts.


Submission + - Facebook Pays out $40K to Hackers (itworld.com)

itwbennett writes: "Three weeks after launching a bug bounty program that pays Web hackers cash for finding flaws with its website, Facebook said it has paid out more than $40,000 in rewards. Facebook pays $500 per bug but will shell out more money for exceptional issues. For example, one hacker was paid out $5,000 for 'one really good report,' Facebook said. The company said that it has also paid out $7,000 to a researcher who flagged six different issues."

Submission + - Microsoft 'Ribbonizes' Windows 8 File Manager (computerworld.com)

CWmike writes: "Microsoft said on Monday that it will 'ribbonize' the file manager in next year's Windows 8, adding Explorer to the short list of integrated applications that already sport the interface in Windows 7. Microsoft's Alex Simons, director of program management, released screenshots of the new ribbon interface planned for Explorer (scroll way down). 'We evaluated several different UI [user interface] command affordances including expanded versions of the Vista/Windows 7 command bar, Windows 95/Windows XP style toolbars and menus, several entirely new UI approaches, and the Office style ribbon,' explained Simons. 'Of these, the ribbon approach offered benefits in line with our goals.' Plans by Microsoft and others — including Mozilla at one point — to ribbonize applications have often met resistance. 'We knew that using a ribbon for Explorer would likely be met with skepticism by a set of power users, but there are clear benefits,' Simons said."

Submission + - There's Been a Leak at WikiLeaks 2

adeelarshad82 writes: German paper Der Freitag claims it has uncovered a batch of online unredacted diplomatic cables that came from WikiLeaks. Editor Steffen Kraft said he found a "password protected csv file" that contained a 1.73GB cache of diplomatic cables from WikiLeaks. Its pages contained "named or otherwise identifiable 'informers' and 'suspected intelligence agents' from Israel, Jordan, Iran, and Afghanistan.

Comment Re:This is pretty big. (Score 1) 200

Well, the USAF X-47B just returned from 270+ days in (constantly changing) orbit, doing god knows what. And it also has some downmass capability. From the space enthusiast point of view, I would call that good news too. Also, the X-43 is out of storage. For god knows what, but possibly to be fitted with a Merlin engine and flown underneath VG's White Knight II. Fun things are happening in space flight. They are just not happening (mainly) at NASA any more.

Comment current internet not inevitable or irreversible (Score 1) 366

*If* google fails, it won't be around one day and gone the next. In any case, there are other search engines that do a nearly as good a job as google, so we would still be able to do search. Migrating from Gmail would be slightly more complicated, but would still be doable, especially considering that all other free email providers would love to, and actively encourage and help anyone wanting to migrate. Generally, if google stumbles, there are plenty of others ready and willing to pick up the slack. -- Far more worrying would to have a systemic failure of the entire 'free stuff & ads 'business model. If providing free search and/or email (and social networking) is no longer profitable, we are truly screwed. It is not that we would have to pay much for search and email (marginal costs are very small); but the net would probably balkanize (if search isn't free, why would content? And in this case, why link to your competitor's content?) and stovepipe. Using the Internet use would end up looking like using a mobile phone. Useful, no doubt. But a shadow of what its former self. -- Sorry for the melodrama; but the current human architecture of the internet is very fortuitous, but was hardly inevitable. It emerged, largely unplanned, from a series of developments that could easily have happened elsehow. There are other ways of creating a world wide network, that would do almost all that the net does, but provide much more top-down control.

Enzyme Found To Help Formation of New Axons 88

Greg George writes "Researchers at Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology have announced that they have found an enzyme that helps nerves to grow in areas damaged after trauma. In typical injuries, scar tissue forms around the damage point and the body removes the tissue so that new muscle and nerves can regrow in the damaged area. In spinal cord injuries, scar tissue forms and that is the end of the story. Special chemicals form that stop the body's cells from moving in and removing the scar tissue and then allowing the healing process to start. Studies have been done attempting to bypass the scar tissue, but none has been successful in large-scale repair of injured muscle and nerves in the spinal column. The researchers for this paper have found that sugar proteins near the damage point stop the healing and that an enzyme can be used to break down these proteins so that the body can then begin repairs. The enzyme, chondroitinase ABC (chABC), is sensitive to heat, and breaks down quickly in a human body. To stop that process they found that by replacing the ABC with another sugar called trehalose, they were able to stabilize the ABC, allowing it to break down scar tissue over a large area. The gel formed by these sugars is stable for up to six weeks in the bodies of test animals, allowing the research team to inject growth factors that increased the healing, to the point that the animals started to use their limbs again. The work is still in the beginning stages." Reuters reporting adds a few more details: "...many other approaches will be needed to repair spinal cord injuries in humans, including controlling inflammation, which can cause additional injury, stimulating nerve fiber growth, and getting nerves to reconnect and communicate with the brain."

LHC Shut Down Again — By Baguette-Dropping Bird 478

Philip K Dickhead writes "Is Douglas Adams scripting the saga of sorrows facing the LHC? These time-traveling Higgs-Boson particles certainly exhibit the sign of his absurd sense of humor! Perhaps it is the Universe itself, conspiring against the revelations intimated by the operation of CERN's Large Hadron Collider? This time, it is not falling cranes, cracked magnets, liquid helium leaks or even links to Al Qaeda, that have halted man's efforts to understand the meaning of life, the universe and everything. It now appears that the collider is hindered from an initial firing by a baguette, dropped by a passing bird: 'The bird dropped some bread on a section of outdoor machinery, eventually leading to significant overheating in parts of the accelerator. The LHC was not operational at the time of the incident, but the spike produced so much heat that had the beam been on, automatic failsafes would have shut down the machine.'"

Comment Re:Basic physics/electronics fail? (Score 2, Interesting) 240

err... its only inverse-square if the energy is unfocused. Since we are talking about a *beam*, this is clearly not the case. The parallel is not exact, but we have known how to transmit EM radiation directionally for decades (what do you think all those parabolic dishes are for?), thereby avoiding inverse-square attenuation; the EM energy is 'beamed' to a receiving antenna, where it induces a current and hence transmits energy. In this case, the trick is constructing a primary coil such that most of the magnetic flux lines that cross it also cross a secondary coil (i.e., it preserves most of the magnectic flux). A AC current on the primary will induce a current in the secondary, and the energy efficiency will be the ratio between the magnectic flux in both coils. Interestingly, if you apply a DC current to one of these coils, you will end up with a very focused electromagnet. You could use it to manipulate a small permanent magnet far away from the coil (on the order of the AC transmission distance), for instance. This sort of remote, non invasive manipulation must have tons of application, from surgical (e.g., guiding a probe to a clogged artery), to military (defusing bombs), to whatever (safecracking anyone?) Anyway, very cool stuff.

Comment Designing and building (Score 3, Insightful) 256

I'm sure there will be many interesting suggestions, but to me it would be preferable to focus on building simpler devices which the students design themselves, rather than something fancier that forces them to simply follow a blueprint (because they won't have the time/expertise to design it from scratch). Of course, there will be a continuum between 'built from scratch' and 'paint by numbers'-type projects, with different levels of student involvement in its design, and you'll have to find your balance.

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