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Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Way To Deal With Roving TSA Teams?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's tip-well department:
An anonymous reader writes "I live in Boston, and I have noticed the TSA performs random security checks at the Copley T (subway station) and other locations. I routinely travel with a laptop, iPhone, and other gadgetry. What are my rights when asked by one of the TSA agents to 'come over here'? Can I say no and proceed with my private business? What if a police officer says that I 'must go over there and cooperate'? Can I decline or ask for a warrant? Like the majority of the population, I turn into an absolute shrinking violet when pressured by intimidating authority, but I struggle with what I see to be blatant social devolution. Has anybody out there actually responded rationally, without complying? What were your experiences?"

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Ants Turned Into 'Supersoldiers'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's ok-science-we're-through department:
New submitter jmcdougald.esq sends word that a team of researchers from McGill University has tinkered with the development of a type of ant to produce what they call a 'supersoldier' subcaste — ants that are much larger than average workers but only appear naturally in a few species (abstract). The team's work showed that by exposing the ant larvae to a hormone-like chemical, they could induce 'supersoldier' growth in many more species.
"This result suggests that supersoldiers existed in the common ancestor of the entire genus. Even though the supersoldier subcaste eventually disappeared in most species, the ants kept the potential to make it. Because the same hormone sets the fate of both supersoldiers and soldiers, it may not have been possible to completely lose one without compromising the other. ... In some species that evolved later, such as Pheidole obtusospinosa, the supersoldiers became a permanent addition. Whereas most Pheidole species simply evacuate their nests when army ants invade, for some reason P. obtusospinosa find it beneficial to stay, which makes supersoldiers a useful addition to the community."

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Negative Irreproducible Tweets For Science Publishing
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 01:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-let's-not-call-them-that department:
New submitter mwolfam writes "Every scientist has at least one paper or graph tucked in a folder that lies in a dusty corner of the hard drive next to that dancing baby that used to be all the rage. The data is interesting, but doesn't lend itself to the creation of the grand narrative you must have for a traditional publication. It's time to expand traditional scientific publication to include a place for the data that normally falls through the cracks: short but interesting bits of data, negative results, and irreproducible results."

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Solo Explorer Begins Bicycle Journey To South Pole
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's things-i-really-don't-want-to-ever-do department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Helen Skelton, the first person to solo kayak the length of the Amazon, has set for herself another difficult task — to travel up to 14 hours a day battling 80mph winds and -50C temperatures 800km across Antarctica in an attempt to reach the South Pole by bicycle. It's no average ride, and Skelton, 28, is not using your average bike. Her specially-built Hanebrink 'ice bike' took designers in Los Angeles three months to finish. It features a seamless frame made of aluminium aircraft tubing, heat-treated to withstand harsh environments, and fat, tubeless, rubber tires designed to bulge over the rim to provide maximum stability and traction. The bike is designed to be as minimalist as possible, to make it aerodynamic and very low maintenance. 'The bike is designed specifically to cycle in soft snow or sand,' says polar guide Doug Stoup. 'We trained together in the desert this past summer. It helps because the temperatures are so cold the snow has little moisture and has a sand-like consistency.' Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes commends Skelton for taking on 'incredibly tough and grueling challenge.' 'Like Captain Scott, Helen is attempting something that has never been tried before and I applaud her pioneering efforts.'"

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Drones Within a Drone Riding a Balloon
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 12:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's unidentifiable-flying-object department:
smitty777 writes "Given the U.S.'s recent drone issues, what is the new recipe for sending a drone over another country of interest? Simple, just take a balloon and attach a Tempest drone to the bottom of it. Now, attach two more CICADA drones to that. The balloon climbs to over 55k feet, then drops the first drone, which can travel another 11 miles or so. It then deploys the CICADA drones. These unpowered gliders slip past radar undetected and start sending back information. There are future plans to mount many (count hundreds) of the CICADA glider drones to the Tempest in the future. The article quotes the flight engineer describing the process as 'straightforward.'"

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NASA Launches Open Source Portal
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-your-typical-nasa-launch department:
sproketboy writes "NASA has launched code.nasa.gov, which will become a portal for NASA's open source software development activities. In its current form, it hosts a directory of the organization's open source software projects and provides documentation about NASA's open source software processes."

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No, SETI Has Not Detected Alien Signals From Space
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 11:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's feel-free-to-panic-anyway-though department:
The Bad Astronomer writes "Rumors are going around that SETI astronomers have detected possible alien signals from space. Bottom line: signals were detected when the Green Bank Telescope was pointed at target planets discovered by Kepler, but the signals are almost certainly interference from man-made satellites orbiting the Earth. This happens pretty often, so we need to be aware that these kinds of false positives pop up."

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US Report Sees Perils To America's Tech Future
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 11:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's cutting-into-our-tv-time department:
dcblogs sends this excerpt from ComputerWorld:
"The ability of the U.S. to compete globally is eroding, according to an Obama administration report released Friday. It described itself as a 'call to arms.' Titled 'The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States (PDF),' it points out a number of 'alarms,' including: the U.S. ran a trade surplus in 'advanced technology products,' which includes biotechnology products, computers, semiconductors and robotics, until 2002. In 2010, however, the U.S. 'ran an $81 billion trade deficit in this critically important sector.' In terms of federal research, in 1980 the federal government provided about 70% of all dollars spent on basic research, but since then the government's share of basic research funding given to all entities has fallen to 57%. It also says real median household income has stalled, and argues for policies that foster innovation."

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Mozilla Public License 2.0 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's expect-3.0-beta-tomorrow department:
revealingheart writes "Mozilla has announced the release of the Mozilla Public License 2.0. The new version provides for compatibility with the Apache and GPL licenses, improved patent protections and recent changes in copyright law. The full license text is available online. Mozilla has updated their wiki with plans to upgrade their codebase; Bugzilla has also said that they will update (with an exemption to keep the project MPL only). The MPL was previously incompatible with other copyleft licenses like the GPL. The new version is compatible (unless exempted) and doesn't require multiple licenses (as currently stands with Firefox and Thunderbird). This will allow Mozilla to incorporate Apache-licensed code; but will mean that their software becomes incompatible with GPL2 code."

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Canadian Gov't Considers Plan To Block Public Domain
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 10:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's victory-for-dead-authors department:
An anonymous reader writes "Canada celebrated New Year's Day this year by welcoming the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Carl Jung into the public domain just as European countries were celebrating the arrival of James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, 20 years after both entered the Canadian public domain. The Canadian government is now considering a plan to enter trade negotiations that would extend the term of copyright by 20 years, meaning nothing new would enter the public domain in Canada until at least 2032. The government is holding a public consultation with the chance for Canadians to speak out to save the public domain."

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What a Black Box Data Dump Looks Like
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's recording-for-posterity department:
An anonymous reader writes "Massachusetts Lt. Governor Tim Murray recently crashed his Ford Crown Victoria while reportedly traveling 108 mph. The car was pretty much shredded, but Murray walked away without major injuries. According to data from the car's black box, Murray and the Crown Vic experienced the equivalent of 40 gravities during the crash. The data contradicts the story he gave police. Maybe we should strap black boxes to all our politicians."

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Apple Patents Power Adapter That Recovers Lost Passwords
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's charging-for-security department:
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Apple has patented a power charger that also serves as a password recovery backup. If a user forgets his Macbook's password, for instance, he simply plugs in the cord, and it would provide a unique ID number stored in a memory chip in the adapter that acts as a decryption key, unscrambling an encrypted copy of the password stored on the machine. The technique, according to the patent, incentivizes better password use by avoiding traditional password recovery techniques that annoy users and lead to disabled or easily-guessed passwords. The new technique is only secure, the patent admits, in cases where the user leaves a mobile device's charger at home. So the idea may make the most sense for long-battery-life devices like iPods, iPads and iPhones rather than laptops, at least until laptop batteries last long enough that users don't take their power adapters with them and expose them to theft."

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US 'Space Warplane' Spying On Chinese Spacelab
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 08:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's it-is-now-the-future department:
PolygamousRanchKid sends this excerpt from El Reg:
"The U.S. Air Force's second mysterious mini-space shuttle, the X-37B, could be spying on China's space laboratory and the first piece of its space station, Tiangong-1. Amateur space trackers told the British Interplanetary Society publication Spaceflight that the black-funded spaceplane seemed to be orbiting the Earth in tandem with Tiangong-1, or the Heavenly Palace, leading the magazine to speculate that its unknown mission is to spy on [the lab]. ... The lab is unmanned for the moment, so all there'd be to study is the technology of the craft and what experiments it's doing. Still, the U.S. is hugely suspicious of China's space endeavors, so it's more than possible that they'd want to get a look at Tiangong-1 just in case it's doing anything unexpected."

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Researchers Create First Genetically Modified Monkeys
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 07:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's didn't-we-just-see-this-movie department:
Several readers tipped news that U.S. scientists have created 'chimeric' monkeys, made with genetic material from as many as six different genomes (abstract). This is significant because it's the first time researchers have used the technique on a primate. From the article:
"Researchers took very early stem cells, called totipotent stem cells, from separate developing embryos and basically glued them together, implanting the mixed embryos into surrogate mother monkeys. The cells — from totally different sources — didn’t fuse, but worked together in harmony, forming fully fledged, normal, healthy animals. ... The key here was the scientists’ use of totipotent cells, so named for their ability to differentiate into the totality of possible cells in an animal. A totipotent cell can give rise to a whole animal. Pluripotent stem cells, the type most frequently used in stem cell research, can differentiate into any cell in the body, but can’t become a whole animal, and can’t make other embryonic tissues like a placenta. Totipotent stem cells are only derived from the very earliest stages of a zygote, mere days after fertilization. In humans, totipotent cells differentiate into pluripotent cells after four days."

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Are Brain Teasers Good Hiring Criteria?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 06:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's manholes-are-round-to-accommodate-ninja-turtles department:
theodp writes "Your brain teaser prowess may win you a job at Google, but the folks at 37signals don't hire programmers based on puzzles, API quizzes, math riddles, or other parlor tricks. 'The only reliable gauge I've found for future programmer success,' explains 37signals' David Heinemeier Hansson, 'is looking at real code they've written, talking through bigger picture issues, and, if all that is swell, trying them out for size.'"
Those of you who have hired employees: have you seen correlation between interview puzzle success and job competency? How should an interviewee best handle these questions?

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Iran Developing 'Halal' Domestic Intranet
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 06:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's taking-their-toys-and-going-home department:
An anonymous reader writes "The WSJ reports that Iran is beginning a crackdown on Internet use by its citizens, creating new blocks against foreign content and stepping up surveillance of browsing habits. Internet cafes in Iran have 15 days to set up security cameras and start collecting information on customers, and people are finding it increasingly difficult to use social networking sites. The new restrictions are likely being implemented now to head off dissent and protests about the upcoming parliamentary elections. According to the article, 'The network slowdown likely heralds the arrival of an initiative Iran has been readying—a "halal" domestic intranet that it has said will insulate its citizens from Western ideology and un-Islamic culture, and eventually replace the Internet. This week's slowdown came amid tests of the Iranian intranet, according to domestic media reports that cited a spokesman for a union of computer-systems firms. He said the intranet is set to go live within a few weeks.'"

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Ohm's Law Survives To the Atomic Level
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 05:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's smaller-the-better department:
Hugh Pickens writes "Moore's Law, the cornerstone of the semiconductor industry, may get a reprieve from its predicted demise. As wires shrink to just nanometers in diameter, their resistivity tends to grow exponentially, curbing their usefulness as current carriers. But now a team of researchers has shown that it is possible to fabricate low-resistivity nanowires at the smallest scales imaginable by stringing together individual atoms in silicon as small as four atoms (about 1.5 nanometers) wide and a single atom tall. The secret is to introduce phosphorus along that line because each phosphorus atom donates an electron to the silicon crystal, which promotes electrical conduction. They then encase the nanowires entirely in silicon, which makes the conduction electrons more immune to outside influence. By embedding phosphorus atoms within a silicon crystal with an average spacing of less than 1 nanometer, the team achieved a diameter-independent resistivity, which demonstrates ohmic scaling to the atomic limit. 'That moves the wires away from the surfaces and away from other interfaces,' says physicist says Michelle Simmons. 'That allows the electron to stay conducting and not get caught up in other interfaces.' The wires have the carrying capacity of copper, indicating that the technique might help microchips continue their steady shrinkage over time and may even extend the life of Moore's Law. 'Fundamentally, we have shown that we can maintain low resistivities in doped silicon wires down to the atomic scale,' says Simmons, adding that it may not be ready for production now, but, 'who knows 20 years from now?'"

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Is the Canadian Arctic the Future of Astronomy?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 02:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's planets-and-poutine department:
sciencehabit writes "Frigid temperatures, dry air, and endless nights should, in theory, make the polar regions top spots for ground-based optical astronomy. So far, Antarctica has been getting all the action, with a handful of optical telescopes peering into the sky from the icy continent. But a new study indicates that the Canadian high Arctic is also a good spot for ground-based optical astronomy. In fact, the great white north offers some practical advantages over the Antarctic."

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Shopping Center Tracking System Condemned by Civil Rights Campaigners
Posted by News Fetcher on January 06 '12 at 12:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's on-the-do-not-track-list department:
hypnosec writes "Civil rights campaigners have spoken out against a technology used by several shopping centers in the UK to track consumers using their mobile signals. The shopping centers claim that the technology helps them provide better services to consumers and retailers without compromising privacy. The system, called the Footpath, allows them to know how people are spending time in a shopping center, which spots they visit the most and even the route they take while walking around. Several consumer and civil rights groups, including Big Brother Watch, say consumers must be given a choice on whether they want their movement tracked or not." We covered a similar tracking system here in the U.S. last month.

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Symantec Looks Into Claims of Stolen Source Code
Posted by News Fetcher on January 05 '12 at 09:32 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's all-your-code-are-belong-to-us department:
wiredmikey writes "A group of hackers claim to have stolen source code for Symantec's Norton Antivirus software. The group is operating under the name Dharmaraja, and claims it found the data after compromising Indian military intelligence servers. So far it's unclear if the claims are a significant threat, as the information posted thus far by the hackers includes a document dated April 28, 1999, that Symantec describes as defining the application programming interface (API) for the virus Definition Generation Service. However, a second post entitled 'Norton AV source code file list' includes a list of file names reputedly contained within Norton AntiVirus source code package. Symantec said it is still in the process of analyzing the data in the second post, a Symantec spokesperson said."

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