The Washington Post is reporting that the sophisticated 'Flame' malware was created by the United States and Israel in order to collect intelligence on Iranian computer networks. The intel was to be used in a cyber-sabotage campaign intended to slow Iran's development of nuclear weapons. This follows confirmation a few weeks ago that the U.S. and Israel were behind Stuxnet, which caused problems at Iran's nuclear facilities. From the article: "The emerging details about Flame provide new clues to what is thought to be the first sustained campaign of cyber-sabotage against an adversary of the United States. 'This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action,' said one former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official, who added that Flame and Stuxnet were elements of a broader assault that continues today. 'Cyber-collection against the Iranian program is way further down the road than this.' ... The scale of the espionage and sabotage effort 'is proportionate to the problem that's trying to be resolved,' the former intelligence official said, referring to the Iranian nuclear program. Although Stuxnet and Flame infections can be countered, 'it doesn't mean that other tools aren't in play or performing effectively,' he said."
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zacharye writes "Google chairman Eric Schmidt revealed in December that the company was working on its first own-brand tablet, and the 'Nexus 7' slate will finally be unveiled next week during the Google I/O developer conference, according to multiple reports. The latest reaffirmation comes from DigiTimes, which has reported a number of details surrounding Google's upcoming tablet that will seemingly prove accurate."
An anonymous reader writes "Religion is often thought of as psychological defense against bad behavior, but researchers have recently found that the effect of religion on pro-social behaviors may actually be driven by the belief in hell and supernatural punishment rather than faith in heaven and spiritual benevolence. In a large analysis of 26 years of data consisting of 143,197 people in 67 countries, psychologists found significantly lower crime rates in societies where many people believe in hell compared to those where more people believed in heaven."
bill_mcgonigle writes "In his essay 'Capitalists Who Fear Change,' author Jeffrey Tucker takes on 'wimps who don't want to improve.' From DMCA take-downs on 3D printing files to the constant refrain that every new form of music recording will 'kill music,' Mr. Tucker observes, 'Through our long history of improvement, every upgrade and every shift from old to new inspired panic. The biggest panic typically comes from the producers themselves who resent the way the market process destabilizes their business model.' He analyzes how the markets move the march of technology ever forward. He takes on patents, copyrights, tariffs, and protectionism of entrenched interests in general, with guarded optimism: 'The promise of the future is nothing short of spectacular — provided that those who lack the imagination to see the potential here don't get their way.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Oracle CEO Larry Ellison claimed during a June 6 presentation that the upcoming Oracle Cloud would offer more than 100 enterprise-grade applications. While Oracle certainly intends on offering a broad range of cloud products, at least one analyst has questioned how the company is counting up to that magic '100 applications' total. Meanwhile, another analyst feels that, despite Oracle's commanding presence in enterprise IT, it could face a significant challenge in its fight for the cloud-computing market."
derekmead writes "When urban planners were trying to turn New York's Roosevelt Island from a haven for the disabled and the mentally ill into a liveable city, they got utopian. Lying beneath their plans was an unusual technology: a series of tubes that literally suck garbage from buildings at speeds up to 60 miles per hour to a central collection point, where the trash is taken off the island by truck or barge. Theoretically, that eliminates the emissions and traffic caused by giant garbage trucks, and makes trash sorting easier. Now, more than thirty years after the 'AVAC,' or Automated Vacuum Collection System, was installed, Envac, the Swedish company that built it, is exploring how to upgrade it and even extend the system to other parts of the city. Under a new feasibility study conducted by City University and funded by two city agencies, the easiest option would be to stretch the current system south, to cover the new technology campuses being built on Roosevelt Island by Cornell University and the Technion. "
Phoghat writes "Could mirror universes or parallel worlds account for dark matter — the 'missing' matter in the Universe? In what seems to be mixing of science and science fiction, a new paper by a team of theoretical physicists hypothesizes the existence of mirror particles as a possible candidate for dark matter. An anomaly observed in the behavior of ordinary particles that appear to oscillate in and out of existence could be from a 'hypothetical parallel world consisting of mirror particles,' says a press release from Springer. 'Each neutron would have the ability to transition into its invisible mirror twin, and back, oscillating from one world to the other.'"
New submitter MoriT sends this excerpt from a post examining the correlation between women's enrollment in computer science programs at college and their access to the internet. "There is currently a responsibility-dodging contest between industry and academia over who is to blame for the declining enrollment of women in Computer Science and declining employment of women in software development. I hear people in industry bemoan the 'empty pipeline,' while academics maintain that women aren't entering their programs because of perceptions of the industry. I have compiled some data that may help resolve the question by highlighting a third factor common to both: access to an Internet-based culture of computing. ... I conclude that in the last 10 years among many Northern European nations, rising Internet access is correlated with falling interest in computer science relative to other professions among women. The group of Mediterranean nations that show a positive correlation should be a fruitful area for future research, but seem outliers from the Northern cohort."
retroworks writes "Bloomberg News makes the case that when the federal government offers tuition assistance, students apply to more expensive colleges, giving the institutions an incentive to raise tuition and a disincentive to lower it. (The Wall Street Journal has a similar article, but it's paywalled.) This reminds me of the debate over President Reagan's cuts to the Pell Grant program in the 1980s. MIT's Campus Paper 'The Tech' quoted the MIT administration as saying it had 'no idea what really will occur' when Reagan's proposal to cut Pell came to Washington. So the question is, 25 years later, do we know now? Did cuts to federal tuition assistance hurt the education of the lower income students? Did increases to Pell grants create more opportunity? Or is federal money the milkshake, and students are just the straw?"
david.emery writes "Julian Assange, his appeals in the United Kingdom having run out, today went to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to request asylum from his pending extradition to Sweden to face questioning for 'unlawful coercion and sexual misconduct including rape.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Do you remember when Microsoft tried to claim that Internet Explorer was still the most-used browser by accusing StatCounter of using a flawed methodology? Well, StatCounter has just posted a response that walks through a number of errors and omissions in Microsoft's reasoning. They (rather politely) explain the importance of sample size, discuss the value of page view counts versus unique visitor counts, and explain the difference between their methodology and that of Net Applications."
colinneagle writes "Would you believe the Inspector General from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said it would violate the privacy of Americans for the IG office to tell us how many people in the United States had their privacy violated via the NSA warrantless wiretap powers which were granted under the FISA Amendment Act of 2008? The Act is up for a five-year extension, but Senator Ron Wyden said he'd block FAA renewal until Congress received an answer from the NSA about how many 'people in the United States have their communications reviewed by the government' under FAA powers."
New submitter Mystakaphoros writes "Musician David Lowery (of Cracker fame) takes NPR intern Emily White to task for her stance on paying for (or failing to pay for) music. Quoting: 'By allowing the artist to treat his/her work as actual property, the artist can decide how to monetize his or her work. This system has worked very well for fans and artists. Now we are being asked to undo this not because we think this is a bad or unfair way to compensate artists but simply because it is technologically possible for corporations or individuals to exploit artists work without their permission on a massive scale and globally. We are being asked to continue to let these companies violate the law without being punished or prosecuted. We are being asked to change our morality and principals to match what I think are immoral and unethical business models.'"
sciencehabit writes "The first-ever use of interactive computer tasks on a national science assessment suggests that most U.S. students struggle with the reasoning skills needed to investigate multiple variables, make strategic decisions, and explain experimental results. The results (PDF) are part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress that was given in 2009 to a representative sample of students in grades four, eight, and 12. What the vast majority of students can do, the data show, is make straightforward analyses. More than three-quarters of fourth grade students, for example, could determine which plants were sun-loving and which preferred the shade when using a simulated greenhouse to determine the ideal amount of sunlight for the growth of mystery plants. When asked about the ideal fertilizer levels for plant growth, however, only one-third of the students were able to perform the required experiment, which featured nine possible fertilizer levels and only six trays. Fewer than half the students were able to use supporting evidence to write an accurate explanation of the results. Similar patterns emerged for students in grades 8 and 12."
New submitter Otis_INF writes "To honor Alan Turing, two researchers at the CWI built a simple LEGO Turing Machine, to show everyone how simple a computer actually is. Primary goals were to make every operation as visible as possible and to make it using just a single LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT set." And if a simple Turing machine gets old, Reader miller60 adds a link to this Lego data center "that recreates all the major features of an IT facility, assembled from 5,772 pieces, 28 figures, and 1 meter of fiber optic cable. The builder, Tanaka, has uploaded details to the Lego Digital Designer Gallery so others can build and adapt their own."