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NASA Offers Bounty For Improved Asteroid Detection Algorithms
Posted by News Fetcher on March 11 '14 at 06:30 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's all-power-to-sensors department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Dara Kerr reports at CNET that NASA is launching an 'Asteroid Data Hunter' contest to inspire the creation of algorithms that identify asteroids in images captured by ground-based telescopes. ... The winning solution must increase the detection sensitivity, minimize the number of false positives, ignore imperfections in the data, and run effectively on all computer systems. 'Current asteroid detection initiatives are only tracking one percent of the estimated objects that orbit the Sun,' says Chris Lewicki. 'We are excited to partner with NASA in this contest to help increase the quantity and knowledge about asteroids that are potential threats, human destinations, or resource rich.' NASA's goal is to discover those unknown asteroids and then track and characterize them. For the contest, citizen scientists will be allowed to study images taken from ground-based telescopes to see if they can develop improved algorithms for identifying asteroids. If dangerous asteroids are found, NASA could determine if they'd be viable for a re-direction into a lunar orbit. 'For the past three years, NASA has been learning and advancing the ability to leverage distributed algorithm and coding skills through the NASA Tournament Lab to solve tough problems,' said Jason Crusan, NASA Tournament Lab director. 'We are now applying our experience with algorithm contests to helping protect the planet from asteroid threats through image analysis.'"

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Valve Open Sources Their DirectX To OpenGL Layer
Posted by News Fetcher on March 11 '14 at 05:02 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's please-port-mame-hlsl-shader-to-sdlmame-kthx department:
jones_supa writes "A bit surprisingly, Valve Software has uploaded their Direct3D to OpenGL translation layer onto GitHub as open source. It is provided as-is and with no support, under the MIT license allowing you to do pretty much anything with it. Taken directly from the DOTA2 source tree, the translation layer supports limited subset of D3D 9.0c, bytecode-level HLSL to GLSL translator, and some SM3 support. It will require some tinkering to get it to compile, and there is some hardcoded Source-specific stuff included. The project might bring some value to developers who are planning to port their product from Windows to Linux."

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Men And Women Think Women Are Bad At Basic Math
Posted by News Fetcher on March 11 '14 at 04:46 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's my-mom-makes-fun-of-me-for-sucking-at-diff-eq department:
sciencehabit writes "Think women can't do math? You're wrong — but new research (paywalled) shows you might not change your mind, even if you get evidence to the contrary. A study of how both men and women perceive each other's mathematical ability finds that an unconscious bias against women — by both men and women — could be skewing hiring decisions, widening the gender gap in mathematical professions like engineering."

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CanSecWest Presenter Self-Censors Risky Critical Infrastructure Talk
Posted by News Fetcher on March 11 '14 at 01:15 AM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's security-through-obscurity department:
msm1267 writes "A presenter at this week's CanSecWest security conference withdrew his scheduled talk for fear the information could be used to attack critical infrastructure worldwide. Eric Filiol, scientific director of the Operational Cryptology and Virology lab. CTO/CSO of the ESIEA in France, pulled his talk on Sunday, informing organizer Dragos Ruiu via email. Filiol, a 22-year military veteran with a background in intelligence and computer security, said he has been studying the reality of cyberwar for four months and came to the decision after discussions with his superiors in the French government. Filiol said he submitted the presentation, entitled 'Hacking 9/11: The next is likely to be even bigger with an ounce of cyber,' to CanSecWest three months ago before his research was complete. Since his lab is under supervision of the French government, he was required to review his findings with authorities.

'They told me that this presentation was unsuitable for being public,' Filiol said in an email. 'It would be considered as an [incentive] to terrorism and would give precise ideas to terrorists on the know-how (the methodology) and the details regarding the USA (but also how to find weaknesses in other countries)."


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Drones Used To Smuggle Drugs Into Prison
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '14 at 11:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's prisons-upgraded-with-anti-drone-missles department:
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Over the weekend, Ma 28-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of using a small quadcopter drone to smuggle an unknown quantity of illegal drugs into a prison in Melbourne, Australia. While it's certainly not the first time small-fry UAV technology has been used by a mid-level mule to airmail drugs into the clink, it does suggest a growing trend in the highest-tech of prison highs. Here, then, is a brief history of drone-assisted prison drug smuggling In November 2013, guards at Hull jail in Gatineau, Canada, spotted a small drone flying over the prison's walls [beware the autoplaying videos]. An exhaustive search of both Hull's grounds and the immediate vicinity turned up nothing by way of whatever contraband the drone might have been toting around.

Nevertheless, it didn't appear to be one-off incident 'This sort of thing happens often in prisons all across Quebec,' Stephane Lemaire, president of Quebec's correctional officers' union, told the Ottawa Sun. 'Usually the drones are carrying small packages of drugs or other illicit substances.' The problem, Lemaire added, is that 'the drone can be controlled from more than a kilometer away, and the [Hull] prison is surrounded by forest.'"


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Scientists Build Three Atom Thick LEDs
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '14 at 09:15 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's smaller-better-faster department:
minty3 tipped us to news that UW researchers have built the thinnest LEDs yet: a mere three atoms thick. Quoting El Reg: "Team leader Xiaodong Xu, a UW assistant professor in physics and materials science and engineering, and his graduate student Ross, have published the technique in the latest issue of Nature Nanotechnology. They report that the LEDs are small and powerful enough to be used in optical chips that use light instead of electricity to shuttle signals and data through a processor, or they could be stacked to make new thin and flexible displays."

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University of Cambridge Develops Potentially More Secure Password Storage System
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '14 at 06:45 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's tpm-minus-bad-things department:
An anonymous reader writes "University of Cambridge's S-CRIB Scrambler resides in a Raspberry Pi and performs a hash-based message authentication code (HMAC). 'The secret 10-character key used to generate the HMAC resides solely on the dongle. Because it's not included in password tables that are stored on servers, the key could remain secret even in the event of a major security breach.' There are pros and cons associated with this method, of course, ranging from scalability to loss of access due to device hardware failure. As with all current options for password security, there's no guarantee that even this system remains secure."

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Ask Slashdot: How Can I Prepare For the Theft of My Android Phone?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '14 at 04:30 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's self-destruct-fuse department:
New submitter Adam Jorgensen writes "Last week my 4-week old Moto G phone was stolen while getting onto the train at Salt River in Cape Town, South Africa. That in itself is no big deal. Cellphone theft is a huge problem here in South Africa and I've had at least two previous cellphones stolen. The big deal this time, for me at least, was that this was the first time I've lost an Android phone to theft. When I actually sat down and thought about it, losing a fully configured Android phone is actually a big deal as it provides ready access to all kinds of accounts, including ones Google account. This could potentially allow the thief to engage in all kinds of malicious behavior, some of which could have major implications beyond the scope of the theft.

Luckily for me it seems that the thief did the usual thing: Dumped the SIM card, wiped the phone, and switched it off. It's probably had it's IMEI changed by now and been sold on to some oblivious punter, possibly some oblivious punter in another country. Still, the potential for serious issue is making me have second thoughts about replacing the phone with anything capable of doing much more than calling. My question is this: Are there any serious solutions out there for Android that secure against theft?"


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Stanford Bioengineer Develops a 50-cent Paper Microscope
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '14 at 04:01 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's check-out-those-microbes department:
An anonymous reader writes "Scope: A Stanford bioengineer has developed an ultra-low-cost print-and-fold microscope and is now showing others how to make one themselves. The 50-cent lightweight, paper 'Foldscope' — which 'can be assembled in minutes, [and] includes no mechanical moving parts' — was designed to aid disease diagnosis in developing regions."

The paper describing the design is on arXiv, and a video demoing the microscope is attached below.

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Court Denies NSA Request To Hold Phone Records Beyond 5 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '14 at 03:45 PM
By Unknown Lamer from Slashdot's destroy-evidence-protect-privacy department:
itwbennett writes "As Slashdot readers will remember, last month the U.S government 'petitioned the court system' to let the NSA retain phone call metadata for more than 5 years, ironically 'because it needs to preserve it as evidence for the various privacy lawsuits filed against the government.' Well, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has ruled against that request. The FISC's Presiding Judge Reggie B. Walton ruled Friday (PDF) that the proposed amended procedures would further infringe on the privacy interests of U.S. persons whose 'telephone records were acquired in vast numbers and retained by the government for five years to aid in national security investigation.'"

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How Engineers Are Building a Power Station At the South Pole
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '14 at 02:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's cold-work department:
KentuckyFC writes "One of the more ambitious projects at the South Pole is the Askaryan Radio Array, a set of radio antennas under the ice that will listen for the tell tale signals of high energy neutrinos passing by. This array will eventually be over a thousand times bigger than the current largest neutrino detector: Icecube, which monitors a cubic kilometer of ice next door to the planned new observatory. But there's a problem. How do you supply 24/7 power to dozens of detectors spread over such a vast area in the middle of the Antarctic? The answer is renewable energy power stations that exploit the sun during the summer and the wind all year round. The first of these stations is now up and running at the South Pole and producing power. It is also helping to uncover and iron out the various problems that these stations are likely to encounter. For example; where to put the batteries needed to supply continuous power when all else fails. The team's current approach is to bury the battery to protect it from temperature extremes. That works well but makes maintenance so difficult that scaling this approach to dozens of power stations doesn't seem feasible. That's a problem for the future but for the moment, green power has finally come to the white continent."

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Study: Elephants Have Learned To Tell Certain Languages Apart
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '14 at 02:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's I-think-he-can-hear-you-ray department:
sciencehabit writes "Whether we realize it, African elephants are listening to us. The pachyderms can tell certain human languages apart and even determine our gender, relative age, and whether we're a threat, according to a new study. The work illustrates how elephants can sometimes protect themselves from human actions. The work may be helpful in preventing 'human-elephant conflicts where the species co-exist,' says Joshua Plotnik, a behavioral ecologist at Mahidol University, Kanchanaburi, in Thailand. For instance, elephants might be deterred from entering farmland or encouraged to stick to the corridors designed for their use. 'The trouble is elephants are too smart to be fooled by us for long.'"

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Embarrassing Stories Shed Light On US Officials' Technological Ignorance
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '14 at 01:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's Is-this-thing-on? department:
colinneagle writes "Speaking at the SXSW Conference recently, Dr. Peter W. Singer, director of the Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, recalled one U.S. official who was 'about to negotiate cybersecurity with China' asking him to explain what the term 'ISP' (Internet Service Provider) means. This wasn't the only example of this lack of awareness. 'That's like going to negotiate with the Soviets and not knowing what "ICBM" means,' Dr. Singer said. 'And I've had similar experiences with officials from the UK, China and Abu Dhabi.' Similarly, Dr. Singer recalled one account in which Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of the U.S. Homeland Security Department from 2009 to 2013, admitted that she didn't use email 'because she just didn't think it was useful.' 'A Supreme Court justice also told me "I haven't got round to email yet" — and this is someone who will get to vote on everything from net neutrality to the NSA negotiations,' Dr. Singer said."

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China Deploys Satellites In Search For Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '14 at 12:31 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's eye-in-the-sky department:
EwanPalmer writes "China has begun using its orbiting satellites in a bid to find the missing Malaysian Airlines flight. The Xi'an Satellite Monitor and Control Center is said to have launched an emergency response to search for Flight MH370 after it went off radar over the South China Sea in the early hours of Saturday. The center is reported to have adjusted up to 10 of its high-res satellites to help search for the plane."

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Sony & Panasonic Next-Gen Optical Discs Moving Forward
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '14 at 11:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's slowly-but-surely department:
jones_supa writes "From last summer you might remember the Sony & Panasonic plans to bring next generation optical discs with recording capacity of at least 300GB. Various next-gen optical discs from different companies have been proposed, but this joint effort seems to be still moving forward. The disc is called simply Archival Disc and, roadmap and key specifications are out. First-wave ADs are slated to launch in summer of 2015 and will be able to hold up to 300GB of data. Archival Discs will be double-sided, so this works out to 150GB of data per side. Future versions of the technology will improve storage density, increasing to 500GB (or 250GB per side) and 1TB (500GB per side) as the standard matures."

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SXSW: Edward Snowden Swipes At NSA
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '14 at 11:31 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's I-stab-at-thee department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "In a Google Hangout with an auditorium full of South by Southwest attendees, government whistleblower (and former NSA employee) Edward Snowden suggested that encrypted communication should become more ubiquitous and easier to use for the majority of Internet denizens. 'The way we interact with [encrypted email and communications] is not good,' he said from somewhere within Russia, where he resides under the conditions of a one-year asylum. 'It needs to be out there, it needs to happen automatically, it needs to happen seamlessly.' For his part, Snowden still believes that companies should store user data that contributes directly to their respective business: 'It's not that you can't collect any data, you should only collect the data and hold it as long as necessary for the operation of the business.' He also couldn't resist some choice swipes at his former employer, accusing high-ranking intelligence officials Michael Hayden and Keith Alexander of harming the world's cyber-security—and by extension, United States national security—by emphasizing offensive operations over the defense of communications. 'America has more to lose than anyone else when every attack succeeds,' Snowden said. 'When you are the one country that has sort of a vault that's more full than anyone else's, it makes no sense to be attacking all day.'"

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Nanomaterial May Be Future of Hard Drives
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '14 at 10:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's future-is-now department:
sciencehabit writes "Most magnets shrug off tiny temperature tweaks. But now physicists have created a new nanomaterial--an ultrathin 10-nanometer layer of nickel grafted onto a 100-nanometer-thick wafer of a substance called vanadium oxide--that dramatically changes how easily it flips its magnetic orientation when heated or cooled only slightly. The effect, never before seen in any material, could eventually lead to new types of computer memory."

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Ukraine May Have To Rearm With Nuclear Weapons Says Ukrainian MP
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '14 at 10:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's big-boom department:
An anonymous reader writes "USA Today reports, "Ukraine may have to arm itself with nuclear weapons if the United States and other world powers refuse to enforce a security pact that obligates them to reverse the Moscow-backed takeover of Crimea, a member of the Ukraine parliament told USA TODAY. The United States, Great Britain and Russia agreed in a pact 'to assure Ukraine's territorial integrity' in return for Ukraine giving up a nuclear arsenal it inherited from the Soviet Union after declaring independence in 1991, said Pavlo Rizanenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament. ... Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the commitments in the agreement are not relevant to Crimea because a 'coup' in Kiev has created 'a new state with which we have signed no binding agreements.' The U.S. and U.K. have said that the agreement remains binding and that they expect it to be treated 'with utmost seriousness, and expect Russia to, as well.'"

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Author Says It's Time To Stop Glorifying Hackers
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '14 at 10:01 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's no-praise-for-you department:
First time accepted submitter Geste writes "Diane McWhorter pleads in this NYT Op-Ed piece that it's time to stop glorifying hackers. Among other things she rails against providers' tendencies to 'blame the victim' with advice on improved password discipline. Interesting, but what lesson are we to learn from someone who emails lists of passwords to herself?"

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US Intelligence Officials To Monitor Federal Employees With Security Clearances
Posted by News Fetcher on March 10 '14 at 10:01 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's watching-the-watchers department:
First time accepted submitter Trachman writes in with news about a monitoring program designed to help stop future leaks of government documents. "U.S. intelligence officials are planning a sweeping system of electronic monitoring that would tap into government, financial and other databases to scan the behavior of many of the 5 million federal employees with secret clearances, current and former officials told The Associated Press. The system is intended to identify rogue agents, corrupt officials and leakers, and draws on a Defense Department model under development for more than a decade, according to officials and documents reviewed by the AP."

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