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Nevada Earthquake Swarm Increases Chance of Larger Quake
Posted by News Fetcher on November 10 '14 at 02:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's whole-lot-of-shaking-going-on department:
An anonymous reader writes Hundreds of small earthquakes have been gaining in strength in northwestern Nevada. The Nevada region bordering California and Oregon was hit by 18 quakes in less than 24 hours, with magnitudes measuring from 2.7 to 4.5. According to CNN: "This does not necessarily mean a big one will come, state seismologists said, but they added that it's good to be prepared, just in case. Seismologists refer to such quake groupings as swarms, and the U.S. Geological Survey has detected them regularly. They can produce thousands of small tremors."

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Prehistory's Brilliant Future
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '14 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's what's-old-is-new department:
An anonymous reader writes Senior Vice President and Provost of Science at the American Museum of Natural History, Michael J. Novacek, has written an op-ed piece about the glut of new dinosaurs recently discovered, including a fish fossils with flexible limbs which documents the transition from life in the water to life on land. In addition to the new species, a team has recently published its work on new skeletal remains of Spinosaurus, a 100-million-year-old carnivore. From the article: "As with any frontier of new knowledge, there are challenges as well as opportunities. Certain regions of the world, like North Africa, may hold the key to understanding the evolution of major groups, but remain poorly explored. Even as some regions become accessible thanks to political change, others can turn into conflict zones. Illegal fossil poaching is rampant in many areas and needs to be controlled before it does untold damage to our future knowledge. It is all the more important to deal with these challenges when we consider the unique contribution of paleontological evidence to human knowledge. From our study of living species, we could not have been predicted the existence of dragonflies as big as sea gulls or dinosaurs with the bulk of large whales that could support themselves on land. Such discoveries provide insights about the capacity of organisms to evolve, adapt and survive."

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25th Anniversary: When the Berlin Wall Fell
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '14 at 08:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's bad-old-days department:
Lasrick writes Today is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This retrospective describes how quickly the Wall was erected, and how Berliners were completely caught off guard by its construction: "Berlin's citizens woke up one morning in August 1961 to find coils of barbed wire running down the middle of their streets; the first inkling some people had that anything was amiss was when their subway train didn't stop at certain stations. Later, the first strands of wire were replaced with a cement wall, along with watchtowers, a wide 'death strip,' and an electrified fence."

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How Alibaba Turned November 11 Into the World's Biggest Online Shopping Day
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '14 at 05:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's buy-something department:
hackingbear writes Bummed that you're home alone on date night, or stuck in your mom's basement, yet again? Don't worry. A new gadget or some scuba gear could help. Observed on November 11 — or "11.11," for the date with the most 1s — Singles Day, which started out as a joke among a group of male college students attending Nanjing University in the 1990s, has become the world's biggest online shopping day, thanks to the e-commerce prowess of China's Alibaba Group. On this day last year, they sold twice what all US companies sold on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. This year, Alibaba has decided to take its 11.11 promotions worldwide, highlighting global brands including online jewelry store Blue Nile, clothing brand Juicy Couture, and even Costco. Amazon has tried to get a piece of the action. The Seattle-based company launched promotions for the holiday last year on its Chinese site, and it's done so again this year.

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Google "Evicted" the Berlin Wall From Property It Bought
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '14 at 04:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's get-off-my-lawn department:
theodp writes Sunday marks the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, which Google commemorates in today's Doodle. "Seeking inspiration for this doodle," notes the Google Doodle Team, "we took a short bike ride from our Mountain View, California headquarters to our local public library to study an actual piece of the Berlin Wall" (the Berlin Wall segments are featured in the Doodle). Interestingly, the post doesn't mention Google's connection to how the two sections of the Berlin Wall wound up at the library. After Google bought the Bayside Business Plaza in 2012, where the 12-foot-tall remnants had been kept for decades by German-born businessman Frank Golzen before his death, it reportedly gave the Golzen family until summer 2013 to get the Berlin Wall off its lawn. "Although the donating family has until next summer to remove the installation from the current location," reads a 2012 City of Mountain View Staff Report, "their preference (and the preference of the new owner of the property) is to remove it sooner." A recommendation to relocate the seven ton concrete slabs to remote Charleston Park, adjacent to the Googleplex, was nixed by the City Council, who voted instead to move the Berlin Wall sections to its current home in front of a downtown public library.

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New Facebook Update Lets You Choose News Feed Content
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '14 at 02:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's new-feature department:
An anonymous reader writes The company has rolled out some changes that make it easier to control what comes in your News Feed. From the article: "The social network unveiled a new settings menu and customization options for News Feed that allows users to personalize the types of content they see. The News Feed settings menu, which appears in the Facebook apps and on the web, displays which friends appear most often in your News Feed and which friends you've chosen to unfollow. From there, you can choose to unfollow people you don't want to see anymore or re-follow (Facebook calls it "reconnecting" with) those you've previously hidden from your feed."

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Berlin's Digital Exiles: Where Tech Activists Go To Escape the NSA
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '14 at 01:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's a-safe-place-to-be department:
An anonymous reader writes with this story about how Berlin has become a haven for Laura Poitras and other journalists who want to limit the amount of NSA disruption in their lives. "It's the not knowing that's the hardest thing, Laura Poitras tells me. 'Not knowing whether I'm in a private place or not.' Not knowing if someone's watching or not. Though she's under surveillance, she knows that. It makes working as a journalist 'hard but not impossible'. It's on a personal level that it's harder to process. 'I try not to let it get inside my head, but I still am not sure that my home is private. And if I really want to make sure I'm having a private conversation or something, I'll go outside.'

.....We're having this conversation in Berlin, her adopted city, where she'd moved to make a film about surveillance before she'd ever even made contact with Snowden. Because, in 2006, after making two films about the US war on terror, she found herself on a 'watch list'. Every time she entered the US – 'and I travel a lot' – she would be questioned. 'It got to the point where my plane would land and they would do what's called a hard stand, where they dispatch agents to the plane and make everyone show their passport and then I would be escorted to a room where they would question me and oftentimes take all my electronics, my notes, my credit cards, my computer, my camera, all that stuff.' She needed somewhere else to go, somewhere she hoped would be a safe haven. And that somewhere was Berlin."


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Washington Dancers Sue To Prevent Identity Disclosure
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '14 at 12:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's for-your-eyes-only department:
An anonymous reader writes with this BBC story about a Washington open-records law that is having some controversial consequences for some unlikely people. "Government open-records requests can be boring. Government open-records requests made by a man who wants to obtain information about 70 licensed strippers in his town so he can 'pray for them', on the other hand... The godly citizen in question is David Allen Van Vleet of Tacoma, Washington. In September he filed court papers to obtain personal information on 70 government-licensed nude dancers at a nightclub in his area — including their full names, addresses, photos and dates of birth. (Yes, Washington requires nude dancers to pay a $75 a year license fee.) The county auditor granted his request under the state's open-records law - although she also notified area dancers and club managers of her action. On 21 October two licensees sued to block the release of the information. Two days later a county judge issued a temporary order blocking the release, with a final decision scheduled for 15 December."

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The Military's Latest Enemy: Climate Change
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '14 at 11:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's it's-getting-hot-in-here department:
Lasrick writes A surprising report from the Pentagon last month places climate change squarely among the seemingly endless concerns of the US military. Although a Wall Street Journal editorial misrepresented the report in an editorial (subtitled 'Hagel wants to retool the military to stop glaciers from melting'), the report itself is straightforward and addresses practical military issues such as land management of bases and training facilities. "So, this plan is not really about mobilizing against melting glaciers; it's more like making sure our ships have viable facilities from which to launch bombs against ISIS. And the report doesn't just focus on home, though. It casts a wider eye towards how a changing climate will affect defense missions in the future."

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Orbiters Study Effect of Giant Comet-Caused Meteor Shower On Mars
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '14 at 10:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's sky-is-falling department:
An anonymous reader writes According to observations made by NASA and ESA orbiters, the extremely close flyby of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring to Mars was accompanied by a meteor shower larger than any seen on Earth. NASA said that dust from Comet Siding Spring vaporized high up in the Martian atmosphere, producing "an impressive meteor shower." An observer on Mars surface might have seen thousands of shooting stars per hour. "This historic event allowed us to observe the details of this fast-moving Oort Cloud comet in a way never before possible using our existing Mars missions," Jim Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division at the agency's Headquarters in Washington, said in the statement.

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Researchers Develop Remote-Controlled Cyber-Roaches
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '14 at 08:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's bug-and-rescue department:
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a series of remote-controlled cyber-roaches that could aid in future disaster relief efforts. The cockroaches are strapped to circuit boards and microphones, which they carry around. The circuits control the movements of each roach, and the microphone is capable of detecting environmental sounds and their sources. "In a collapsed building, sound is the best way to find survivors," said Dr. Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at North Carolina State University and senior author of two papers on the work."

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CERN May Not Have Discovered Higgs Boson After All
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '14 at 07:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's not-so-fast department:
An anonymous reader writes Physicists Peter Higgs and Francois Englert won the Nobel Prize for discovering Higgs Boson, but some scientists believe that the particle may not have been discovered yet at all. A new study by a group of scientists from the University of Southern Denmark, raises the possibility that the data collected from the Large Hadron Collider could instead explain another type of subatomic particle. Mads Toudal Frandsen, a particle physicist, explained in a statement, "The CERN data is generally taken as evidence that the particular particle is the Higgs particle ... It is true that the Higgs particle can explain the data but there can be other explanations, we would also get this data from other particles."

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Judge Says Public Has a Right To Know About FBI's Facial Recognition Database
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '14 at 06:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's now-you-know department:
schwit1 writes U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said the bureau's Next Generation Identification program represents a "significant public interest" due to concerns regarding its potential impact on privacy rights and should be subject to rigorous transparency oversight. "There can be little dispute that the general public has a genuine, tangible interest in a system designed to store and manipulate significant quantities of its own biometric data, particularly given the great numbers of people from whom such data will be gathered," Chutkan wrote in an opinion.

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Mayday PAC Goes 2 For 8
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '14 at 05:47 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's above-the-mendoza-line department:
An anonymous reader writes: Lawrence Lessig's Mayday.us project had a bold goal: create a super PAC to end all super PACs. It generated significant support and raised over $10 million, which it spent endorsing a group of candidates for the recent mid-term elections and the primaries beforehand. The results weren't kind. Only two of the eight candidates backed by Mayday won their elections, and both of those candidates were quite likely to win anyway. Lessig was understandably displeased with the results. In a post on the Mayday site, he said, "What 2014 shows most clearly is the power of partisanship in our elections. Whatever else voters wanted, they wanted first their team to win."

Kenneth Vogel, author of Big Money, a recent book on the rise of super PACs, was critical of of Mayday's efforts, saying, "While voters do express high levels of disgust about the state of campaign finance and the level of corruption in Washington, they tend to actually cast votes more on bread-and-butter economic issues." Still, Lessig is hopeful for the future: "We moved voters on the basis of that message. Not enough. Not cheaply enough. But they moved."


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Raspberry Pi A+ Details Leaked
Posted by News Fetcher on November 09 '14 at 02:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's A+-would-pi-again department:
mikejuk writes Despite trying to keep it secret, a major Raspberry Pi retailer has published some details of the upcoming model A+ Raspberry Pi thanks to a product page that went live early. The board layout looks different and is much smaller than the model A or B+. Judging from the photograph, the A+ board encompasses the four standard mounting holes, which makes it approximately 56x65mm — the model B+ is 56x85mm.

The key improvement is the new 40-pin GPIO socket, which makes the model A+ fully compatible with the HAT expansion standard. This means that any new HAT expansion cards should now work with the A+. It also has what's likely a connector for the yet-unreleased Raspberry Pi touchscreen. Another welcome change is the micro SD slot. One downside of the A+ is that it still has only a single USB 2 connector.


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Researchers Direct Growth of Neurons With Silicon Nitride Microtubes
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '14 at 11:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's superbrain-under-construction department:
MTorrice writes: Bioengineers want to connect electronics and neurons to make devices such as new cochlear implants or prosthetic limbs with a seemingly natural sense of touch. They also could build synthetic neural circuitry to use to study how the brain processes information or what goes wrong in neurodegenerative diseases.

As a step toward these applications, a team of researchers has developed a way to direct the growth of axons, the connection-forming arms of neurons. They use transparent silicon nitride microtubes on glass slides to encourage the cells' axons to grow in specific directions. The cultured nerve cells grow aimlessly until they bump into one of the tubes. The axon then enters the tube, and its growth is accelerated 20-fold. Silicon nitride already is used in some orthopedic devices, and could serve as a substrate for electronics to interface with the growing neurons.


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Researchers Simulate Monster EF5 Tornado
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '14 at 08:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's any-way-the-wind-blows department:
New submitter Orp writes: I am the member of a research team that created a supercell thunderstorm simulation that is getting a lot of attention. Presented at the 27th Annual Severe Local Storms Conference in Madison, Wisconsin, Leigh Orf's talk was produced entirely as high def video and put on YouTube shortly after the presentation. In the simulation, the storm's updraft is so strong that it essentially peels rain-cooled air near the surface upward and into the storm's updraft, which appears to play a key role in maintaining the tornado. The simulation was based upon the environment that produced the May 24, 2011 outbreak which included a long-track EF5 tornado near El Reno Oklahoma (not to be confused with the May 31, 2013 EF5 tornado that killed three storm researchers).

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There's No Such Thing As a General-Purpose Processor
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '14 at 05:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's or-ghosts department:
CowboyRobot writes: David Chisnall of the University of Cambridge argues that despite the current trend of categorizing processors and accelerators as "general purpose," there really is no such thing and believing in such a device is harmful.

"The problem of dark silicon (the portion of a chip that must be left unpowered) means that it is going to be increasingly viable to have lots of different cores on the same die, as long as most of them are not constantly powered. Efficient designs in such a world will require admitting that there is no one-size-fits-all processor design and that there is a large spectrum, with different trade-offs at different points."


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Long-term Study Finds No Link Between Video Game Violence and Real Violence
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '14 at 04:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's but-don't-let-it-get-in-the-way-of-your-opinion department:
SternisheFan sends news that a study has been completed on the long-term effects of violence in movies and video games on violence in real life. A researcher at Stetson University found no link between the consumption of violent media and an increase in societal violence. The study was published in the Journal of Communication. From the article:
"Entertainment Software Ratings Board ratings were used to estimate the violent content of the most popular video games for the years 1996-2011. These estimates of societal video game violence consumption were correlated against federal data on youth violence rates during the same years. Violent video game consumption was strongly correlated with declines in youth violence. However, it was concluded that such a correlation is most likely due to chance and does not indicate video games caused the decline in youth violence. ... Previous studies have focused on laboratory experiments and aggression as a response to movie and videogame violence, but this does not match well with real-life exposure.

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fMRI Data Reveals How Many Parallel Processes Run In the Brain
Posted by News Fetcher on November 08 '14 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's still-won't-run-crysis department:
New submitter xgeorgio writes: From MIT Technology Review: "The human brain carries out many tasks at the same time, but how many? Now fMRI data has revealed just how parallel gray matter is. ... Although the analysis is complex, the outcome is simple to state. Georgiou says independent component analysis reveals that about 50 independent processes are at work in human brains performing the complex visuo-motor tasks of indicating the presence of green and red boxes. However, the brain uses fewer processes when carrying out simple tasks, like visual recognition.

That's a fascinating result that has important implications for the way computer scientists should design chips intended to mimic human performance. It implies that parallelism in the brain does not occur on the level of individual neurons but on a much higher structural and functional level, and that there are about 50 of these. 'This means that, in theory, an artificial equivalent of a brain-like cognitive structure may not require a massively parallel architecture at the level of single neurons, but rather a properly designed set of limited processes that run in parallel on a much lower scale,' he concludes." Here's a link to the full paper: "Estimating the intrinsic dimension in fMRI space via dataset fractal analysis – Counting the `cpu cores' of the human brain."


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