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KentuckyFC writes "Goldilocks zones are regions around stars that are 'just right' for liquid water and for the chemistry of life as we know it. Now one cosmologist points out that the universe must have been through a Goldilocks epoch, a period in which warm, watery conditions could have existed on almost any planet in the entire cosmos. The key phenomenon here is the cosmic background radiation, the afterglow of the Big Bang which was blazing hot when it first formed. But as the universe expanded, the wavelength of this radiation increased, lowering its energy. Today, it is an icy 3 Kelvin. But somewhere along the way, it must have been between 273 and 300 Kelvin, just right to keep water in liquid form. According to the new calculations, this Goldilocks epoch would have occurred when the universe was about 15 million years old and would have lasted for several million years. And since the first stars had a lifespan of only 3 million years or so, that allows plenty of time for the heavy elements to have formed which are necessary for planet formation and the chemistry of life. Indeed, if live did evolve a this time, it would have predated life on Earth by about 10 billion years."
the_newsbeagle writes "If you can't fix it, go around it. That's the thinking behind an experimental treatment for traumatic brain injury. Using an implanted microdevice, researchers recorded the electrical signals from a sensory region of a rat's brain, skipped over a damaged brain region that typically processes sensory information, and sent the electric signals on to the premotor cortex. This cyborg mouse could then move normally. What this means is that we're getting better at speaking the brain's language — even if we don't understand it, we can mimic it."
theodp writes "Among the patents granted to Facebook this week by the USPTO is one for Inferring Household Income for Users of a Social Networking System. 'For example,' Facebook explains, 'an assumption might be made about a user that reads CNN.com and nytimes.com every day that the user is in a higher income bracket than another user that only reads TMZ.com and PerezHilton.com on the theory that a user who reads newspapers might be assumed to make more money than a user who only reads celebrity gossip blogs.' Advertisements such as those for travel packages, cars, and home mortgages, Facebook adds, 'are targeted to users based on income bracket,' which might also be inferred by 'gathering and analyzing different types of information about a user's geographic location.' Hey, what could go wrong?"
An anonymous reader writes "Peter Higgs, the physicist who laid the groundwork for the discovery of the Higgs boson and winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics, says he doubts any university would give him a job today. Higgs says universities wouldn't consider him productive enough — though the papers he published were important and of high quality, he didn't have the volume necessary for serious consideration in today's competitive employment environment. 'He doubts a similar breakthrough could be achieved in today's academic culture, because of the expectations on academics to collaborate and keep churning out papers. He said: "It's difficult to imagine how I would ever have enough peace and quiet in the present sort of climate to do what I did in 1964." Speaking to the Guardian en route to Stockholm to receive the 2013 Nobel prize for science, Higgs, 84, said he would almost certainly have been sacked had he not been nominated for the Nobel in 1980.' His comments highlight the absurdity of the current system for finding researchers in academia. How many researchers of Higgs' caliber have been turned down for similar reasons?"
Diamonddavej writes "TorrentFreak reports a potentially troubling court decision in Germany. The company Appwork has been threatened with a 250,000 Euro fine for functionality committed to its open-source downloader (JDownloader2) repository by a volunteer coder without Appwork's knowledge. The infringing code enables downloading of RTMPE video streams (an encrypted streaming video format developed by Adobe). Since the code decrypted the video streams, the Hamburg Regional Court decided it represented circumvention of an 'effective technological measure' under Section 95a of Germany's Copyright Act and it threatened Appwork with a fine for 'production, distribution and possession' of an 'illegal' piece of software."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Washington Post reports that the carjackers who set off international alarm bells by absconding with a truckload of highly radioactive cobalt-60, used in hospital radiotherapy machines, most likely had no idea what they were stealing and will die soon from exposure. The robbery occurred as the cobalt-60 was being driven from a public hospital in the border town of Tijuana to a storage facility in central Mexico. While waiting for daybreak at a gas station in the state of Hidalgo the drivers were jumped by two gunmen who beat them and stole the truck. "I believe, definitely, that the thieves did not know what they had; they were interested in the crane, in the vehicle," says Mardonio Jimenez, a physicist with Mexico's nuclear safety commission. The prospect that material that could be used in a radioactive dirty bomb had gone missing sparked an urgent two-day hunt that concluded when the material, cobalt-60, used in hospital radiotherapy machines, was found along with the stolen Volkswagen truck. The cobalt-60 was found, removed from its casing, in a rural area near the town of Hueypoxtla about 25 miles from where the truck was stolen. Jimenez suspects that curiosity got the better of the thieves and they opened the box. So far the carjackers have not been arrested, but authorities expect they will not live long. "The people who handled it will have severe problems with radiation. They will, without a doubt, die.""
sl4shd0rk writes "Remember when the ex-cable lobbyist Tom Wheeler was appointed to the FCC chair back in May of 2013? Turns out he's currently gunning for Internet Service Providers to be able to 'favor some traffic over other traffic.' It would set a dangerous precedent, considering the Open Internet Order in 2010 forbade such action if it fell under unreasonable discrimination. The bendy interpretation of the 2010 order is apparently aimed somewhat at Netflix, as Wheeler stated: 'Netflix might say, "I'll pay in order to make sure that my subscriber might receive the best possible transmission of this movie."'"
An anonymous reader writes "I am a senior engineer and software architect at a fortune 500 company and manage a brand (website + mobile apps) that is a household name for anyone with kids. This year we migrated to a new technology platform including server hosting and application framework. I was brought in towards the end of the migration and overall it's been a smooth transition from the users' perspective. However it's a security nightmare for sysadmins (which is all outsourced) and a ripe target for any hacker with minimal skills. We do weekly and oftentimes daily releases that contain and build upon the same security vulnerabilities. Frequently I do not have control over the code that is deployed; it's simply given to my team by the marketing department. I inform my direct manager and colleagues about security issues before they are deployed and the response is always, 'we need to meet deadlines, we can fix security issues at a later point.' I'm at a loss at what I should do. Should I go over my manager's head and inform her boss? Approach legal and tell them about our many violations of COPPA? Should I refuse to deploy code until these issues are fixed? Should I look for a new job? What would you do in my situation?"
Pseudonymous Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto (whether that name represents one person or several) is believed to hold many millions of dollars in Bitcoin. Various attempts have been made to pin down Nakamoto's identity; the IB Times reports today that a (sadly anonymous) analysis points to George Washington University economics professor Nick Szabo, based on textual analysis and some other clues, such as Szabo's expertise in digital currency and his role as founder of GoldCoin. Szabo's blog Unenumerated is fascinating reading, whether or not this analysis is right.
KentuckyFC writes "Epidemiologists have long known how to model the way disease spreads through a population using a computer simulation. This generally involves three populations of individuals: those who are susceptible to disease, those who are infected and those who recover, return to the population and are no longer susceptible. Researchers then feed data about the number of infections and so on into the model which can then work out the disease characteristics such as infection rates. And with this information, they can predict the future evolution of the disease. Now researchers have used a similar model to simulate the spread of infection during a zombie epidemic. They've gathered infection data from real zombie movies, put this into the model and used it to predict the disease characteristics. The results show two clear types of zombie infection which differ in what happens to people after they die. In the first, epitomized by Night of the Living Dead, everybody who dies becomes a zombie. In the second, as in Shaun of the Dead, not everyone who dies becomes a zombie--contact with a zombie beforehand is required. This allows the interesting dynamic of escaping zombification by committing suicide. It also shows how close these zombies have come to winning. The research isn't entirely frivolous. The researchers say exactly the same process of model-building, data gathering and simulation works equally well on real diseases such as influenza. So their approach is a useful teaching tool for budding epidemiologists of the future."
First time accepted submitter wick3t writes "The Neo900 fundraising campaign has already achieved the milestone of 200 pre-orders which means that mass production is now feasible. This follows a successful first prototype that was showcased at the OpenPhoenux-Hard-Software-Workshop 2013. Their next target is 1000 pre-orders as they aspire to reduce the production costs of each device." For those not familiar, the Neo 900 is an offshoot of the OpenMoko GTA04 designed for use in the popular Nokia N900 case (and, yes, they're fixing the weak usb port).
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Kurt Anderson has an interesting read at Vanity Fair about Dutch painter Jan Vermeer, best known for 'Girl with a Pearl Earring,' and the search for how he was able to achieve his photo-realistic effects in the 1600s. Considered almost as mysterious and unfathomable as Shakespeare in literature, Vermeer at age 21, with no recorded training as an apprentice, began painting masterful, singular, uncannily realistic pictures of light-filled rooms and ethereal young women. 'Despite occasional speculation over the years that an optical device somehow enabled Vermeer to paint his pictures, the art-history establishment has remained adamant in its romantic conviction: maybe he was inspired somehow by lens-projected images, but his only exceptional tool for making art was his astounding eye, his otherworldly genius,' says Anderson. To try to learn how Vermeer was able to achieve such highly realistic painting, American inventor and millionaire Tim Jenison spent five years learning how to make lenses himself using 17th-century techniques, mixed and painted only with pigments available in the late 1600s and even constructed a life-size reproduction of Vermeer's room with wooden beams, checkerboard floor, and plastered walls. The result has been a documentary movie, Tim's Vermeer, by magicians Penn & Teller that may have resolved the riddle and explains why it has remained a secret for so long. 'The photorealistic painters of our time, none of them share their techniques,' says Teller. 'The Spiderman people aren't talking to the Avatar people. When [David] Copperfield and I have lunch, we aren't giving away absolutely everything.'"
c0lo writes "A Chinese Long March rocket is scheduled to blast off to the Moon on Sunday evening at about 6pm UTC carrying a small robotic rover that will touch down on to the lunar surface in about two weeks' time – the first soft landing on the Earth's only natural satellite since 1976. China has been methodically and patiently building up the key elements needed for an advanced space programme — from launchers to manned missions in Earth orbit to unmanned planetary craft — and it is investing heavily. After only 10 years since it independently sent its first astronaut into space, China is forging ahead with a bold three-step programme beginning with the robotic exploration of possible landing sites for the first Chinese astronauts to set foot on lunar soil between 2025 and 2030. Prof Ouyang Ziyuan of the department of lunar and deep space exploration and an adviser to the mission commented to the BBC on the scale of Chinese thinking about the Moon. He said the forthcoming venture would land in an ancient crater 400km wide called Sinus Iridum, thought to be relatively flat and clear of rocks, and explore its geology. China.org.cn promised live coverage of the event."
angry tapir writes "With the look of Google Plus and Facebook-like elements, a new social network named "Syme" feels as cozy as a well-worn shoe. But beneath the familiar veneer, it's quite different. Syme encrypts all content, such as status updates, photos and files, so that only people invited to a group can view it. Syme, which hosts the content on its Canada-based servers, says it can't read it. "The overarching goal of Syme is to make encryption accessible and easy to use for people who aren't geeks or aren't hackers or who aren't cryptography experts," co-founder Jonathan Hershon said in an interview about the service." See also Diaspora.
jones_supa writes "Jolla, the mobile phone company formed by ex-Nokia employees, has officially launched its first phone. It will be initially available in Finland, paired with the local telecom operator DNA. After that, it will be made available in 135 other countries. The Jolla handset runs the Sailfish OS, which is itself based on the former MeeGo platform developed by Nokia and Intel several years ago to produce Linux-based smartphone software. Sailfish can run Android apps and it also integrates Nokia's Here mapping and positioning technology. Looking at the hardware, the device sports a 1.4GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor, 1GB memory and 16GB of flash storage, plus a 4.5in 960x540 IPS touchscreen with Gorilla 2 Glass. It has the usual mobile network support, including GSM/3G/4G, 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth, 8MP autofocus rear camera and 2MP front camera. SIM-free pricing is expected to be €399."
rjmarvin writes "Docker 0.7 was released today, with 7 major new features including support to run on all Linux distributions. No longer capable solely on running on Debian and Ubuntu Linux, Docker 0.7 adds support for distributions such as Red Hat, SUSE, Gentoo and Arch. From the announcement: 'A key feature of Docker is the ability to create many copies of the same base filesystem almost instantly. Under the hood Docker makes heavy use of AUFS by Junjiro R. Okajima as a copy-on-write storage mechanism. AUFS is an amazing piece of software and at this point it’s safe to say that it has safely copied billions of containers over the last few years, a great many of them in critical production environments. Unfortunately, AUFS is not part of the standard linux kernel and it’s unclear when it will be merged. This has prevented docker from being available on all Linux systems. Docker 0.7 solves this problem by introducing a storage driver API, and shipping with several drivers. Currently 3 drivers are available: AUFS, VFS (which uses simple directories and copy) and DEVICEMAPPER, developed in collaboration with Alex Larsson and the talented team at Red Hat, which uses an advanced variation of LVM snapshots to implement copy-on-write. An experimental BTRFS driver is also being developed, with even more coming soon: ZFS, Gluster, Ceph, etc. When the docker daemon is started it will automatically select a suitable driver depending on its capabilities.'"
New submitter BugNuker writes "Comet ISON has been speeding towards the sun, and while doing so, it has been getting brighter. There was hope that ISON would be 'Comet of the Century' material. That does not seem to be the case, but it still exists and it's still very interesting. Recently, ISON has undergone some outbursts, making it a near naked-eye object. ISON is still approaching perihelion (it will get there at 18:25 UTC on 28 November). For now, we can keep watching the STEREO spacecraft images for more evidence." Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society put together this animated GIF of the comet from images taken by the STEREO-A spacecraft. Karl Battams put together a fascinating GIF as well. The Planetary Society has a list of information feeds and scheduled events for keeping tabs on ISON.
First time accepted submitter gnosygnu writes "Want your own copy of English Wikipedia with images? Got 100 GB of disk space? Then open-source app XOWA may be of interest to you. The project released torrents yesterday for the 2013-11-04 version of English Wikipedia. There's 100 GB of sqlite databases containing 13.9 million pages, and 3.7 million images — readable from any Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X system. Image downloads for other wikis are building, but you can still use XOWA to read the text-only version for other wikis like Wiktionary, Wikisource, Wikiquote and 660 more. Next time you find yourself stranded without the internet, you can pull out your own copy of Wikipedia for use."
schwit1 writes with a short excerpt from The Cable "The United States and its key intelligence allies are quietly working behind the scenes to kneecap a mounting movement in the United Nations to promote a universal human right to online privacy, according to diplomatic sources and an internal American government document obtained by The Cable. American representatives have made it clear that they won't tolerate such checks on their global surveillance network." A leaked memo containing U.S. suggestions for changes to the ICCPR includes gems like (referring to intercepting communications) "Move 'may threaten' from before 'the foundations of a democratic [society]...' to before 'freedom of expression.' We need to clarify that privacy violations could 'interfere with' freedom of expression and avoid the inaccurate suggestion that all privacy violations are violations of freedom of expression." The U.S. changes are pretty much directed at making dragnet surveillance of non-citizens technically legal.