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PvtVoid (1252388) writes "In the semiannual report to Congress by the NSF Office of Inspector General, the organization said it received reports of a researcher who was using NSF-funded supercomputers at two universities to mine Bitcoin. The computationally intensive mining took up about $150,000 worth of NSF-supported computer use at the two universities to generate bitcoins worth about $8,000 to $10,000, according to the report. It did not name the researcher or the universities."
An anonymous reader writes, quoting Business Insider: "Eight different law enforcement agencies in Indiana have purchased massive Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAP) that were formerly used in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mark Alesia reports for the Indy Star. Pulaski County, home to 13,124 people, is one of the counties that have purchased an 55,000 pound, six-wheeled patrol vehicles, from military surplus. When asked to justify the purchase of a former military vehicle, Pulaski County Sheriff Michael Gayer told the Indy Star: "The United States of America has become a war zone."'
First time accepted submitter LordFlower (606949) writes "In a study, published today in Neuropsycopharmacology, exposure to general anesthesia in both human and rat infants was associated with long-term episodic memory deficits. Children aged 6 to 11 years exposed to general anesthesia during infancy had poorer episodic memory than age/gender matched controls. This deficit was replicated in rats using an analogous paradigm with full experimental control of pre-existing conditions could be exercised, suggesting a causal relation rather than correlational one. Prior research in rats suggests a mechanism of disrupted developmental synaptogenesis and apoptosis.
While a growing literature has demonstrated the presence of memory deficits and neurodegeneration in rats after general anesthesia exposure in infancy, this is the first to demonstrate a long-term deficit after exposure during human infancy. Given that each year 1.5 million infants undergo a surgery requiring general anesthesia, these findings are particularly alarming."
mpicpp (3454017) writes with this excerpt from Ars: "The first man to be arrested in Chicago based on facial recognition analysis was sentenced last week to 22 years in prison for armed robbery. ... In February 2013, Pierre Martin robbed a man at gunpoint while on a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) train. After taking the man's phone, Martin jumped off the train. However, his image was captured by CTA surveillance cameras and was then compared to the Chicago Police Department's database of 4.5 million criminal booking images. Martin, who already had priors, had a mugshot in the database. He was later positively identified by witnesses. At trial, Martin also admitted to committing a similar robbery also on the Pink Line in January 2013—his face was captured during both robberies."
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "When hunter-gatherers in the Middle East began to settle down and cultivate crops about 10,500 years ago, they became the world's first farmers. But two new papers suggest that they were at home on both the land and the sea: Studies of ancient and modern human DNA, including the first reported ancient DNA from early Middle Eastern farmers, indicate that agriculture spread to Europe via a coastal route, probably by farmers using boats to island hop across the Aegean and Mediterranean seas."
Last month, at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014, Timothy Lord spotted a guy wearing a very large piece of headgear that included two crossed wrenches. The guy turned out to be Mike Szczys, Managing Editor of hackaday.com, which says, "The Hackaday Prize will send one person into space for building the next evolution of hardware." That's certainly of interest to the hardware hacker/maker crowd. How they're going to arrange the space flight (probably one of those "just above the atmosphere" hops) isn't specified, but even so the contest is an interesting idea, and the Hack A Day site seems to have some interest hacks and tutorials on it. So go ahead and enter the contest -- and don't forget to take your camera with you on your flight into space, because we'll want to see pictures! (Alternate Video Link)
An anonymous reader writes "South African education authorities are about to embark on an ambitious plan to take their schools textbook free, using the familiar refrain of one-tablet-per-child to do so. The education minister in Gauteng (the province which covers Johannesburg and Pretoria) has announced a plan to model new schools in the area on Sunward Park, a government school which went all-digital at the start of 2012. Other schools in the state will then follow, along with a plan to extend the project nationally."
An anonymous reader writes "Two 14-year-olds hacked a Bank of Montreal ATM after finding an operators manual online that showed how to gain administrative control. Matthew Hewlett and Caleb Turon alerted bank employees after testing the instructions on an ATM at a nearby supermarket. At first the employees thought the boys had the PIN numbers of customers. 'I said: "No, no, no. We hacked your ATM. We got into the operator mode,"' Hewlett was quoted as saying. Then, the bank employees asked for proof. 'So we both went back to the ATM and I got into the operator mode again,' Hewlett said. 'Then I started printing off documentations like how much money is currently in the machine, how many withdrawals have happened that day, how much it's made off surcharges. Then I found a way to change the surcharge amount, so I changed the surcharge amount to one cent.'"
mpicpp (3454017) writes in with news about Amazon's new payments service. "The company launched a service Monday known as Amazon Payments that allows consumers to use their Amazon accounts to send and receive money and shop online at 'thousands of sites other than Amazon.' It's accessible on both desktops and mobile devices. For businesses, Amazon is selling the service as a way to take advantage of its security and user data while saving time for new customers. There's no recurring fee for retailers to use the platform, though Amazon plans to take a standard cut of 2.9% from those businesses, plus $0.30 for each transaction of $10 or more. With more than 244 million active customer accounts, Amazon already has a massive base of potential users for the service. The effort represents a new front in its assault on eBay, which owns online payments service PayPal."
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Elon Musk has said repeatedly he wants to 'do something controversial' with Tesla's collection of electric car patents, but he finally offered specifics at the UK launch of his Tesla Model S on Sunday. The Tesla Motors CEO said he would like to open up the designs for his Supercharger systems — the free fast-charging stations designed to quickly refuel Tesla's electric cars — to create a standard for other car makers to use. Musk previously said he didn't want Superchargers to become a 'walled garden.'"
First time accepted submitter Graculus (3653645) writes "NASA has named Gavin A. Schmidt to head the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, a leading Earth climate research laboratory. Currently deputy director of the institute, Schmidt steps into the position left vacant after the retirement of long-time director James E. Hansen and becomes only the third person to hold the post."
First time accepted submitter Joe_NoOne (48818) writes "A new theory suggests that our male ancestors evolved beefy facial features as a defense against fist fights. The bones most commonly broken in human punch-ups also gained the most strength in early hominin evolution. They are also the bones that show most divergence between males and females. From the article: 'Fossil records show that the australopiths, immediate predecessors of the human genus Homo, had strikingly robust facial structures. For many years, this extra strength was seen as an adaptation to a tough diet including nuts, seeds and grasses. But more recent findings, examining the wear pattern and carbon isotopes in australopith teeth, have cast some doubt on this "feeding hypothesis". "In fact, [the australopith] boisei, the 'nutcracker man', was probably eating fruit," said Prof David Carrier, the new theory's lead author and an evolutionary biologist at the University of Utah. Instead of diet, Prof Carrier and his co-author, physician Dr Michael Morgan, propose that violent competition demanded the development of these facial fortifications: what they call the "protective buttressing hypothesis".'"
A while ago you had the chance to ask amateur scientist, and author of the Getting Started in Electronics and the Engineer's Mini-Notebook series, Forrest Mims, a number of questions about science, engineering, and a lifetime of educating and experimenting. Below you'll find his detailed answers to those questions.
jfruh (300774) writes "If you're a Verizon broadband customer and you've tried streaming Netflix over the past few days, you might've seen a message telling you that the "Verizon network is crowded" and that your stream is being modified as a result. Verizon isn't taking this lying down, saying that there's no proof Verizon is responsible for Netflix's issues, and is threatening to sue over the warnings."
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Greenland's white snow is getting darker. Scientists have generally attributed that darkening to larger, slightly less white snow grains caused by warmer temperatures. But researchers have found a new source of darkening taking hold: impurities in the snow. The new darkening effect could easily add 2 centimeters to the projections of 20 cm sea level rise by 2100—and perhaps more if impurity levels grow with time."
An anonymous reader writes "Wireless security researcher Michael Ossmann asked himself: 'Could I make the gadgets that the agency uses to monitor and locate mobile phones, tap USB and Ethernet connections, maintain persistent malware on PCs, communicate with malware across air gaps, and more, by just using open source software and hardware?' In this podcast he shares his insights on what to use — and how — to duplicate hardware devices found in the ANT catalog."
An anonymous reader writes "Ex-KGB Major Boris Karpichko says that spies from Russia's SVR intelligence service, posing as diplomats in Hong Kong, convinced Snowden to fly to Moscow last June. 'It was a trick and he fell for it,' Karpichko, who reached the rank of Major as a member of the KGB's prestigious Second Directorate while specializing in counter-intelligence, told Nelson. 'Now the Russians are extracting all the intelligence he possesses.'"
heretic108 (454817) writes "Internet mega-entrepreneur, uber-gamer and now NZ political corruption-buster Kim DotCom has posted a bounty of $5 million to anyone who can dig up any dirt which saves him from extradition to the U.S.. This bounty would be payable not only to government employees, but also to anyone who can retrieve documents clearly proving corruption in the whole prosecution process. 'We are asking for information that proves unlawful or corrupt conduct by the US government, the New Zealand government, spy agencies, law enforcement and Hollywood', Dotcom told website Torrentfreak.com."
An anonymous reader writes "For the first time in eight years, Sony has overtaken Nintendo on the total number of game consoles sold. Sony sold 18.7 million consoles in the last financial year, compared to Nintendo sales of 16.3 million. Sony's PlayStation 4 has emerged as the bestselling 'new-gen' console. But demand for Nintendo's Wii U — with its touchscreen controller — has lagged far behind the original Wii, which was the most popular hardware of the last generation."
An anonymous reader writes in with the story of how MIT's fusion energy experiment is alive and well even though its federal funding was axed. "'In the end, it is about picking a winner and a parochial effort to direct money to MIT,' said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based watchdog group. 'It's certainly a case of lawmakers bucking the president and putting their thumb on the scale for a particular project.' MIT enlisted the support of a wealthy Democratic donor from Concord and the help of an influential Washington think-tank co-founded by John Kerry. These efforts were backed by lobbyists, including a former congressman from Massachusetts, with connections to the right lawmakers on the right committees. The cast also included an alliance of universities, industry and national labs, all invested in the fusion dream. 'It's ground-breaking research that could lead an energy revolution,' [Senator Elizabeth] Warren said. 'This was not about politics. This was about good science.' The revival of MIT's project, whatever its merits, clearly demonstrated what the combination of old-fashioned Washington horse-trading and new-fangled power — both nuclear and political — can do."