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How Telescopes Deal With Earthquakes In Chile
Posted by News Fetcher on February 27 '10 at 02:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's why-is-that-star-making-lissajous-curves deptartment:
Reader edgeofphysics provides a technical sidelight on the earthquake in Chile this morning — some details on how the European Southern Observatory protects the mirrors of the Very Large Telescope when an earthquake strikes. "Given that Chile is one of the most seismically active countries in the world, how do astronomers protect their giant telescopes that have been built or are being built in the Chilean Andes? This blog post discusses how Chile's most advanced facility protects its priceless 8.2-meter primary mirrors in the event of an earthquake."

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Vermont May Revoke Nuclear Plant License
Posted by News Fetcher on February 27 '10 at 01:15 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's green-glowing-mountain-state deptartment:
mdsolar writes "Following the Vermont Senate's 26-to-4 vote not to approve a 20-year license extension for the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, the Vermont Public Service Board will consider revoking its operating license as well. Meanwhile, the plant continues to operate without its Director of Nuclear Safety Assurance, who has been placed on administrative leave; the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has merely issued a Demand for Information rather than shutting down a plant that is lacking a full compliment of safety personnel. It may be that the NRC is not capable of doing what is needed with regard to Entergy, the plant owner, which is also facing prosecution by the Mississippi Attorney General."

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A New Wi-Fi Exploit, Limited But Clever
Posted by News Fetcher on February 27 '10 at 12:00 PM
By kdawson from Slashdot's out-of-thin-air deptartment:
eggboard writes "Martin Beck, who in 2008 co-wrote a paper describing a way to inject packets into a secured Wi-Fi system, is back with a more extensive exploit. His 'Enhanced TKIP Michael Attacks' still don't allow extraction of a key, and are limited to TKIP (not AES-CCMP) WPA-protected networks. Still, he's figured out how to put in large payloads, and to extract data sent from an access point to a client — all without cracking the network key. The attack requires proximity to sniff and inject data, but it's another crack in the older key standard (TKIP) that no one with serious security interests should still be using." Here is Beck's paper (PDF) describing the new attacks.

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The Difficulty of Dismantling Constellation
Posted by News Fetcher on February 27 '10 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's contract-termination-fees-are-out-of-this-world deptartment:
Last month, we discussed news that President Obama's 2011 budget proposal did not include plans to continue NASA's Constellation program, choosing instead to focus on establishing a stronger foundation for low earth orbit operations. Unfortunately, as government officials prepare to shut down Constellation, they're warning that it won't be a quick or simple process due to the contracts involved. From the Orlando Sentinel:"Obama's 2011 budget proposal provides $2.5 billion to pay contractors whatever NASA owes them so the agency can stop work on Constellation's Ares rockets, Orion capsule and Altair lunar lander. But administration officials acknowledge that this number is, at best, an educated guess. ... Many inside and outside of the space agency, however, think the number is too low. The agency has signed more than $10 billion worth of contracts to design, test and build the Ares I rocket and Orion capsule that were the heart of Constellation. But government auditors said last year that the costs of some of those contracts had swelled by $3 billion since 2007 because of design changes, technical problems and schedule slips. How much NASA will owe on all those contracts if the plug gets pulled is unclear. Many of the deals are called 'undefinitized contracts,' meaning that the terms, conditions — and price — had not been set before NASA ordered the work to start. That means the agency will need to negotiate a buyout with the contractor — and that can be a long and painful process, according to government officials familiar with the cancellation process."

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The Awful Anti-Pirate System That Will Probably Work
Posted by News Fetcher on February 27 '10 at 09:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's an-opposing-arrrrrgument deptartment:
spidweb writes "Much virtual ink has been spilled over Ubisoft's new, harsh DRM system for Assassin's Creed 2. You must have a constant internet connection, and, if your connection breaks, the game exits. While this has angered many (and justifiably so), most writers on the topic have made an error. They think that this system, like all DRM systems in the past, will be easily broken. This article explains why, as dreadful as the system is, it does have a chance of holding hackers off long enough for the game to make its money. As such it is, if nothing else, a fascinating experiment. From the article: 'Assassin's Creed 2 is different in a key way. Remember, all of its code for saving and loading games (a significant feature, I'm sure you would agree) is tied into logging into a distant server and sending data back and forth. This vital and complex bit of code has been written from the ground up to require having the saved games live on a machine far away, with said machine being programmed to accept, save, and return the game data. This is a far more difficult problem for a hacker to circumvent.'"

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UN To Create Independent Panel To Review IPCC
Posted by News Fetcher on February 27 '10 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's this-can-only-end-well deptartment:
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that an independent board of scientists will be appointed to review the workings of the world's top climate science panel, which has faced recriminations over inaccuracies in a 2007 report that included a prediction that Himalayan glaciers would vanish by 2035, although there is no scientific consensus to that effect. That brief citation — drawn from a magazine interview with a glaciologist who says he was misquoted — and sporadic criticism of the panel's leader have fueled skepticism in some quarters about the science underlying climate change. Nick Nuttall, a spokesman for the United Nations Environment Program, said the review body would be made up of 'senior scientific figures' who could perhaps produce a report by late summer for consideration at a meeting of the climate panel in October in South Korea. 'I think we are bringing some level of closure to this issue,' says Nuttall. One area to be examined is whether the panel should incorporate so-called gray literature, a term to describe nonpeer-reviewed science, in its reports. Many scientists say that such material, ranging from reports by government agencies to respected research not published in scientific journals, is crucial to seeking a complete picture of the state of climate science."

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Major Electronics Vendors Accused of Price Fixing
Posted by News Fetcher on February 27 '10 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's if-it-ain't-broke deptartment:
Lucas123 writes "After the DOJ launched an investigation last fall into price fixing by major optical disk drive manufacturers, a home electronics retail store filed a class-action lawsuit this week seeking triple damages for what it is claiming to be long-standing collusion between Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, LG Electronics and Hitachi to raise and fix prices on the drives. The suit claims the vendors used trade organization forums as meeting places to discuss the price fixing. 'These are big Asian smoke-stack industries where they're investing in big fabrication plants. You can't have a technology destroy the business,' said the attorney representing the plaintiff. 'If you fire up a big fab plant with CRT tubes, and the next generation technology destroys it, then you have a big fab plant manufacturing buggy whips. So they have to make sure the price points for these [newer] technologies ... don't destroy existing markets.'"

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Defending Against Drones
Posted by News Fetcher on February 27 '10 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hobbyist-vs-terrorist deptartment:
theodp writes "The US has not had to truly think about its air defense since the Cold War. But as America embraces the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, Newsweek says it's time to consider how our greatest new weapon may come back to bite us. Smaller UAVs' cool, battery-powered engines make them difficult to hit with conventional heat-seeking missiles. And while Patriot missiles can take out UAVs, at $3 million apiece such protection carries a steep price tag, especially if we have to deal with $500 DIY drones."

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FlightGear Reaches v2.0
Posted by News Fetcher on February 27 '10 at 05:45 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's on-wings-of-eagles deptartment:
distantbody writes "The flight sim project FlightGear has reached version 2.0. From the website: 'Highlights of this new version include: Dramatic new 3D clouds, dramatic lighting conditions, improved support for custom scenery, and many many new and detailed aircraft models.' Full list of improvements here. And of course the screenshots. The release coincides with the release of SimGear v2, the 'set of open-source libraries designed to be used as building blocks for quickly assembling 3d simulations, games, and visualization applications' on which FlightGear is based."

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New Zealand Legislature Mulls File-Sharing Bill
Posted by News Fetcher on February 27 '10 at 02:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's flee-to-australia-oh-wait deptartment:
bitserf writes from New Zealand: "Our overlords in government have decided to try and push through some file sharing legislation. In the bill remains the controversial provisions for three-strikes removal of internet access, though interestingly, nothing prohibiting users from moving to other ISPs. Text of the bill can be found here. Interesting timing, considering ACTA negotiations due to be held in Wellington in April."

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Gaming With GPS On Your Smartphone
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '10 at 11:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's getting-lost-despite-two-meter-precision deptartment:
Barence writes "If your handset doesn't get you out and about, tramping through mud, climbing around and hunting for hidden treasure, then something needs an upgrade. The iPhone, Blackberry's Storm and Bold lines, and many Symbian and Android handsets now sport GPS, which makes your smartphone the ticket to join a global movement of outdoor games. These are outbound challenges that pit teams and solo players against themselves and each other in the search for hidden treasure, undiscovered landmarks and hidden spots all over the world. This article delves into several of the best smartphone-friendly real-world games, each of which is a bridge between the online and offline worlds."

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Project M Could Send Every Scientist To the Moon, By Proxy
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '10 at 10:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's why-leave-the-house deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes with this interesting bit of speculation: "NASA can put humanoids on the Moon in just 1000 days. They would be controlled by scientists on Earth using motion capture suits, giving them the feeling of being on the lunar surface. If they can achieve this for real, the results for science research of our satellite could be amazing."

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Microsoft Wins Windows XP Downgrade Lawsuit
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '10 at 07:30 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's that's-just-like-your-judgment-man deptartment:
CWmike writes "A federal judge has dismissed a year-old lawsuit against Microsoft over alleged antitrust violations for the 'downgrade' rules it set for Windows Vista and XP. The order put an end to the lawsuit filed by Emma Alvarado in February 2009. In her original complaint, she accused Microsoft of coercing computer makers into forcing consumers who wanted to run Windows XP to first buy Windows Vista, or later, Windows 7, before they were allowed to downgrade to XP. The judge rejected Alvarado's accusations, saying that the plaintiff had not proved Microsoft benefited from the downgrade practices that it created and that OEMs implemented."

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The 1-Second Linux Boot
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '10 at 07:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's unexamined-boot-is-not-worth-booting deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes "Less than one second Linux boot! This video shows an OMAP3530 capturing video data from a camera and rendering it to an LCD display — the video appears on the LCD display in less than a second from reset."

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Secret Service Runs At "Six Sixes" Availability
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '10 at 05:15 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's only-need-half-as-many deptartment:
PCM2 writes "ABC News is reporting that the US Secret Service is in dire need of server upgrades. 'Currently, 42 mission-oriented applications run on a 1980s IBM mainframe with a 68 percent performance reliability rating,' says one leaked memo. That finding was the result of an NSA study commissioned by the Secret Service to evaluate the severity of their computer problems. Curiously, upgrades to the Service's computers are being championed by Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who says he's had 'concern for a while' about the issue."

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What Has Your Phone Survived?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '10 at 04:45 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's very-harsh-words deptartment:
NotAnIndividual writes "On an ice fishing trip two months ago, I lost my iPhone somewhere in the snow. I searched and searched, but to no avail. But just this weekend when moving the ice hut, lo and behold there it was. I quickly threw it into a bag of rice and placed it under a lamp to defrost. Three hours later I plugged it in. I wasn't expecting much. I mean, really, it had been frozen in snow for the last two months! To my surprise, the Apple logo popped up. I put in the SIM card and voila, my iPhone was back. My apps, my contacts, my music and more importantly my life were back. And this is the same iPhone that I dropped in a cup of coffee a few months ago! This got me wondering how much damage a cell phone can actually take. How have other Slashdot users punished their phones without actually killing them completely?"

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Losing Google Would Hit Chinese Science Hard
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '10 at 04:00 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's talk-to-your-government deptartment:
An anonymous reader writes to share recent statements by Chinese scientists that indicate troubled waters ahead if Google were to pull out of China. "More than three-quarters of scientists in China use the search engine Google as a primary research tool and say their work would be significantly hampered if they were to lose it, a survey showed on Wednesday. In the survey, 84 percent said losing Google would 'somewhat or significantly' hamper their research and 78 percent said international collaborations would be affected. 'Research without Google would be like life without electricity,' one Chinese scientist said in the survey, which asked more than 700 scientists for their views."

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LG Launches Watch Phone In India
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '10 at 03:45 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's can-you-hear-me-now-kit? deptartment:
roh2cool writes "If you are a watch freak and also happen to be a fan of ultra rare (and expensive) gadgets, this might just interest you. The LG GD910 watch phone looks like a normal watch – except for the fact that it can double up as your mobile phone when needed. 'It is quite thin at just 13.9mm and packs in 3G and Video Calling capabilities as well. The phone is quite stylish and the front fascia is covered by scratch-proof tempered glass. It comes with a Bluetooth headset so you don’t have to keep talking like David Hasselhoff talked to his super-car KITT in the “Knight Rider” series.'"

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What Is Time? One Researcher Shares His Exploration
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '10 at 02:45 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's what-about-the-underverse deptartment:
Physicist Sean Carroll has built up a bit of a name for himself by tackling one of the age old questions that no one has been able to fully explain: What is time? Earlier this month he gave an interview with Wired where he tried to explain his theories in layman's terms. "I’m trying to understand how time works. And that’s a huge question that has lots of different aspects to it. A lot of them go back to Einstein and spacetime and how we measure time using clocks. But the particular aspect of time that I’m interested in is the arrow of time: the fact that the past is different from the future. We remember the past but we don’t remember the future. There are irreversible processes. There are things that happen, like you turn an egg into an omelet, but you can’t turn an omelet into an egg."

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Exploring Advanced Format Hard Drive Technology
Posted by News Fetcher on February 26 '10 at 02:15 PM
By ScuttleMonkey from Slashdot's lift-the-hood-once-in-a-while deptartment:
MojoKid writes "Hard drive capacities are sometimes broken down by the number of platters and the size of each. The first 1TB drives, for example, used five 200GB platters; current-generation 1TB drives use two 500GB platters. These values, however, only refer to the accessible storage capacity, not the total size of the platter itself. Invisible to the end-user, additional capacity is used to store positional information and for ECC. The latest Advanced Format hard drive technology changes a hard drive's sector size from 512 bytes to 4096K. This allows the ECC data to be stored more efficiently. Advanced Format drives emulate a 512 byte sector size, to keep backwards compatibility intact, by mapping eight logical 512 byte sectors to a single physical sector. Unfortunately, this creates a problem for Windows XP users. The good news is, Western Digital has already solved the problem and this quick overview at HotHardware offers some insight into the technology and how it performs."

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