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Chefs Preview Surface Tension-Based Cocktail Garnishes
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '14 at 10:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's drinking-science department:
carmendrahl writes "Last fall, MIT researchers made news for developing two bioinspired cocktail toppers-- a moving cocktail boat and a floral pipette-- in collaboration with James Beard Award-winning chef José Andrés. Both the boat and floral pipette operate by taking advantage of surface tension-- either to propel the boat forward or to keep small drops of liquid inside the flower's petals. Some of those early garnishes were nominally edible. But to make them worthy of a restaurant debut requires balancing of flavors, temperature, density, and alcohol content, among other factors. Here's a look inside Andrés' company ThinkFoodGroup to see how the project is coming along. The toppers aren't available to the public just yet."

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Windows 9 Already? Apparently, Yes.
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '14 at 10:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's gift-that-keeps-on-giving department:
Nerval's Lobster writes "A little over a year after Microsoft released Windows 8, and a mere three months after it pushed out a major update with Windows 8.1, rumors abound that Windows 9 is already on its way. According to Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows, Microsoft will begin discussing the next version of Windows (codenamed 'Threshold,' at least for the moment) at April's BUILD conference. 'Threshold is more important than any specific updates, he wrote. 'Windows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public, and the latest release, Windows 8.1, which is a substantial and free upgrade with major improvements over the original release, is in use on less than 25 million PCs at the moment.' Microsoft intends Threshold to clean up at least a portion of Windows 8's mess. Development on the latest operating system will supposedly begin in late April, which means developers who attend BUILD won't have access to an early alpha release—in fact, it could be quite some time before Microsoft locks down any new features, although it might double down on Windows 8's controversial 'Modern' (previously known as 'Metro') design interface. Yet if Thurrott's reporting proves correct, Microsoft isn't abandoning the new Windows interface that earned such a lackluster response—it's betting that the format, once tweaked, will somehow revive the operating system's fortunes. With Ballmer leaving the company and a major reorganization underway, it'll be the next Microsoft CEO's task to make sure that Windows 9 is a hit; in fact, considering that rumored 2015 release date, shepherding the OS could become that executive's first major test."

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Government Lab Uses Smartphones To Measure Gamma Ray Exposure
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '14 at 09:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's hulk-phone-is-strongest-there-is department:
KentuckyFC writes "Back in 2008, Slashdot reported that researchers were developing ways of turning cellphones into radiation detectors. Since then a few apps have even appeared that claim to do this. However, convincing evidence that they work as advertised is hard to come by. Now government researchers at Idaho National Labs have created their own app that uses an ordinary smartphone as a gamma ray detector, put it through its paces in the lab and published the results. The pixels in smartphone cameras can detect gamma rays in the same way as they pick up visible light. So when the lens is covered, the image should reveal evidence of gamma ray exposure once other noise has been removed, such as that from heat and current leakage. These guys have tested several types of Android smartphone with a variety of gamma ray sources at various different doses. The researchers say the phones give a reasonable measure of radiation dose, can detect the direction of source (by comparing the measurements from the front and back cameras) and can even measure the energy of the gamma rays by measuring the length of the tracks that appear in the image. While the results do not match the quality of bespoke detectors, that may not matter since in many circumstances cellphones are likely to be the only sensors that are available. That could be useful for emergency services, air travelers wanting to monitor their extra radiation dose on routes over the arctic and people who live in areas with a higher than average background radiation level."

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Bennett Haselton: Google+ To Gmail Controversy Missing the Point
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '14 at 08:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's read-all-about-it department:
Bennett Haselton writes "Google created controversy by announcing that
Google+ users will now be able to
send email to Gmail users
even without having those Gmail users' email addresses.
I think this debate misses the point, because it's unlikely to create a deluge
of unsolicited email to Gmail users, as long as Google can throttle outgoing messages
from Google+ users and terminate abusive accounts. The real controversy should
be over the fact that Google+ users can search a public database of
the names of all Gmail users in the first place. And limiting the ability of
Google+ users to write to those Gmail accounts, won't do anything to address
that."
Read below to see what Bennett has to say.

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LulzSec's Sabu To Be Sentenced In New York
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '14 at 07:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's paying-the-discount-price department:
DavidGilbert99 writes "Two and a half years after he was arrested at his New York apartment by the FBI, LulzSEc member-turned-FBI informant Hector Monsegur (aka Sabu) is set to be sentenced in the South District of New York court at 4pm local time on Monday where he could face up to 124 years in jail. However, following his cooperation with the US authorities, Monsegur is likely to get a much reduced sentence and could avoid jail completely. His sentencing has been adjourned numerous times for unknown reasons, and if the FBI have any more use for him, then we could see it delayed again."

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How Good Are Charter Schools For the Public School System?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '14 at 06:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's on-a-scale-1-10 department:
theodp writes "'You go to these charters,' gushed Bill Gates in 2010, 'and you sit and talk to these kids about how engaged they are with adults and how much they read and what they think about and how they do projects together.' Four years later, Gates is tapping his Foundation to bring charter schools to Washington State, doling out grants that included $4.25 million for HP CEO Meg Whitman's Summit Public Schools. So what's not to like? Plenty, according to Salon's The Truth About Charter Schools, in which Jeff Bryant delves into the dark side of the charter movement, including allegations of abuse, corruption, lousy instruction, and worse results. Also troubling Bryant is that the children of the charter world's biggest cheerleaders seem never to attend these schools ('A family like mine should not use up the inner-city capacity of these great schools,' was Bill Gates' excuse). Bryant also cites Rethinking Schools' Stan Karp, who argues that Charter Schools Are Undermining the Future of Public Education, functioning more like deregulated 'enterprise zones' than models of reform, providing subsidized spaces for a few at the expense of the many. 'Our country has already had more than enough experience with separate and unequal school systems,' Karp writes. 'The counterfeit claim that charter privatization is part of a new 'civil rights movement', addressing the deep and historic inequality that surrounds our schools, is belied by the real impact of rapid charter growth in cities across the country. At the level of state and federal education policy, charters are providing a reform cover for eroding the public school system and an investment opportunity for those who see education as a business rather than a fundamental institution of democratic civic life. It's time to put the brakes on charter expansion and refocus public policy on providing excellent public schools for all.'"

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Experiment Shows Caffeine Boosts Long Term Memory
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '14 at 06:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's its-fun-to-stay-up-late department:
An anonymous reader writes "A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins has published results demonstrating that caffeine seems to boost long-term memory. In a double-blind study, participants were shown a series of images soon after taking either a caffeine pill or a placebo; 24 hours later they were tested on a similar, but not identical, series of images. Those who took the caffeine pill were more likely to correctly classify images as being different, identical, or similar to those seen the previous day; researchers refer to this as a 'pattern separation' test. The beneficial effect of caffeine on the long-term memory of honey bees was covered by Slashdot earlier."

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How Weather Influences Global Warming Opinions
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '14 at 05:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's cold-is-the-new-hot department:
An anonymous reader writes in with this story about how people's belief in climate change shifts with the temperature. "Last week's polar vortex weather event wasn't only hard on fingers, toes and heating bills. It also overpowered the ability of most people to make sound judgments about climate change, in the same way that heat waves do, according to a new study published in the Jan. 11 issue of the journal Nature Climate Change. Researchers have known for some time that the acceptance of climate change depends on the day most people are asked. During unusually hot weather, people tend to accept global warming, and they swing against it during cold events."

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Hubble Telescope Snaps Images of Tarantula Nebula
Posted by News Fetcher on January 13 '14 at 02:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's look-at-that department:
An anonymous reader writes "NASA's Hubble Space Telescope snapped a series new images inside the Tarantula Nebula, located within the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) – the third closest galaxy to the Milky Way. Hubble officials previously released images of the spidery nebula, however, this is the deepest view of the intriguing cosmic region full of star clusters yet."

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India Frees Itself of Polio
Posted by News Fetcher on January 12 '14 at 11:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's wiped-out department:
An anonymous reader writes "It's been three years since the last recorded polio case in India and health officials hope to officially certify India polio free in the next few weeks. 'Hamid Jafari, director of the WHO's polio-eradication campaign, says the agency's ambitious quest to stop all polio transmission by the end of 2014 is now within reach. If that is achieved, and no new cases crop up for three years, polio—like smallpox—will be officially banished from the planet. "India was one of the most important sources" from where the virus spread to other countries, said Dr. Jafari.'"

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British Spies To Be Allowed To Break Speed Limit
Posted by News Fetcher on January 12 '14 at 08:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's live-and-let-speed department:
An anonymous reader writes "The Telegraph reports, 'Britain's spies are to be given a "licence to speed" for the first time, under changes to motoring laws. While James Bond would no doubt have scorned such niceties, officers in MI5 and MI6 are currently required to obey the rules of the road, even when national security is under threat. Now Robert Goodwill, the transport minister, intends to add the Security Service and the Secret Intelligence Service to the group of agencies with permission to break the speed limit.'"

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Building a Better Bike Helmet Out of Paper
Posted by News Fetcher on January 12 '14 at 05:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's recycled-helmet department:
An anonymous reader writes "Inspired by nature, a London man believes the solution to safer bike helmets is to build them out of paper. '"The animal that stood out was the woodpecker. It pecks at about ten times per second and every time it pecks it sustains the same amount of force as us crashing at 50 miles per hour," says Surabhi. "It's the only bird in the world where the skull and the beak are completely disjointed, and there's a soft corrugated cartilage in the middle that absorbs all the impact and stops it from getting a headache." In order to mimic the woodpecker's crumple zone, Anirudha turned to a cheap and easily accessible source — paper. He engineered it into a double-layer of honeycomb that could then be cut and constructed into a functioning helmet. "What you end up with is with tiny little airbags throughout the helmet," he says.'"

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Doctors Say Food Stamp Cuts Could Cause Higher Healthcare Costs
Posted by News Fetcher on January 12 '14 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's unintended-consequences department:
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Lauran Neergaard writes at the Christian Science Monitor that doctors are warning that if Congress cuts food stamps, the federal government could be socked with bigger health bills because over time the poor wind up seeking treatment in doctors' offices or hospitals as a result. 'If you're interested in saving health care costs, the dumbest thing you can do is cut nutrition,' says Dr. Deborah Frank of Boston Medical Center, who founded the Children's HealthWatch pediatric research institute. 'People don't make the hunger-health connection.' Food stamps feed 1 in 7 Americans and cost almost $80 billion a year, twice what it cost five years ago. The doctors' lobbying effort comes as Congress is working on a compromise farm bill that's certain to include food stamp cuts. Republicans want heftier reductions than do Democrats in yet another partisan battle over the government's role in helping poor Americans. Conservatives say the program spiraled out of control as the economy struggled and the costs are not sustainable. However research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts estimated that a cut of $2 billion a year in food stamps could trigger in an increase of $15 billion in medical costs (PDF) for over the next decade. Other research shows children from food-insecure families are 30 percent more likely to have been hospitalized for a range of illnesses. 'Food is medicine,' says Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern, who has led the Democrats' defense of the food stamp program. 'Critics focus almost exclusively on how much we spend, and I wish they understood that if we did this better, we could save a lot more money in health care costs.'"

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Orbital Becomes Second Private Firm To Send Cargo Craft To ISS
Posted by News Fetcher on January 12 '14 at 03:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's put-that-anywhere department:
An anonymous reader writes "Orbital Sciences Corp.'s unmanned Cygnus spacecraft delivered 3,000 pounds of equipment, fresh fruit, and Christmas presents from the families of all six ISS spacemen today. 'From the men and women involved in the design, integration and test, to those who launched the Antares (rocket) and operated the Cygnus, our whole team has performed at a very high level for our NASA customer, and I am very proud of their extraordinary efforts,' said David W. Thompson, president and chief executive officer of Orbital, in a written statement from the company."

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Google Confirms Shut Down of Schemer
Posted by News Fetcher on January 12 '14 at 02:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's end-of-the-line department:
An anonymous reader writes "Google has confirmed it is shutting down its goal sharing service Schemer. The company says Schemer's last day will be February 7, after which all data will be permanently deleted. The iOS app has already been pulled from Apple's App Store while the Android app on Google Play hasn't been updated since October 2012."

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Regex Golf, xkcd, and Peter Norvig
Posted by News Fetcher on January 12 '14 at 12:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's problem-to-solve department:
mikejuk writes "A recent xkcd strip has started some deep academic thinking. When AI expert Peter Norvig gets involved you know the algorithms are going to fly. Code Golf is a reasonably well known sport of trying to write an algorithm in the shortest possible code. Regex Golf is similar, but in general the aim is to create a regular expression that accepts the strings in one list and rejects the strings in a second list. This started Peter Norvig, the well-known computer scientist and director of research at Google, thinking about the problem. Is it possible to write a program that would create a regular expression to solve the xkcd problem? The result is an NP hard problem that needs AI-like techniques to get an approximate answer. To find out more, read the complete description, including Python code, on Peter Norvig's blog. It ends with this challenge: 'I hope you found this interesting, and perhaps you can find ways to improve my algorithm, or more interesting lists to apply it to. I found it was fun to play with, and I hope this page gives you an idea of how to address problems like this.'"

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SpaceShipTwo Sets a New Altitude Record
Posted by News Fetcher on January 12 '14 at 11:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's space-time department:
An anonymous reader writes "Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo reached an altitude of 71,000 feet, beating out its previous record of 69,000 feet. From the article: 'This time around, Virgin Galactic and Mojave-based Scaled Composites, the plane's builder, tested a new reflective coating on the rocket plane's tail booms. The flight also marked the first tryout for a thruster system that's designed to keep the plane on course when it's above the atmosphere. Virgin Galactic said all of the test objectives were met.'"

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Demonoid BitTorrent Tracker Apparently Back Online
Posted by News Fetcher on January 12 '14 at 10:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's share-away department:
Freshly Exhumed writes "TorrentFreak has broken the news that after more than a year of downtime the Demonoid tracker is back online. The tracker is linked to nearly 400,000 torrent files and more than a million peers, which makes it one of the largest working BitTorrent trackers on the Internet. There is no word yet on when the site will make a full comeback, but the people behind it say they are working to revive one of the most famous file-sharing communities. As the single largest semi-private BitTorrent tracker that ever existed, Demonoid used to offer a home to millions of file-sharers. Note that this is apparently the original Demonoid and not the d2 site that claims to be using the Demonoid database."

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Credo Mobile Releases Industry's First Transparency Report
Posted by News Fetcher on January 12 '14 at 09:00 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's always-watching department:
memnock writes "Wired and The Washington Post both report that mobile service provider CREDO is the first telecom to release a report detailing requests from the government for customer information. From Wired: 'A small telecom believed to be at the center of a historic court battle over government surveillance published its first transparency report on Thursday, noting that it had received 16 government requests for customer data in 2013. But the report may be most significant for what it doesn't say.'"

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Hackers Gain "Full Control" of Critical SCADA Systems
Posted by News Fetcher on January 12 '14 at 08:30 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's protect-ya-neck department:
mask.of.sanity writes "Researchers have found holes in industrial control systems that they say grant full control of systems running energy, chemical and transportation systems. They also identified more than 150 zero day vulnerabilities of varying degrees of severity affecting the control systems and some 60,000 industrial control system devices exposed to the public internet."

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