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Construction of World's Largest Telescope Finally Underway in Chile

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the it's-chilly-at-night-and-chile-all-day dept.

Space 76

mpicpp (3454017) writes with this update about a long-awaited project, the European Extremely Large Telescope: The partial demolition of Cerro Armazones, a mountain in northern Chile's Antofagasta region, marked the start of constructing the world's largest and most powerful telescope, an instrument capable of capturing 14 times more light than existing telescopes. At 2:00 p.m. Thursday, the blasting of Cerro Armazones, 3,060 meters (11,800 feet) high, removed from the peak between 25 and 30 meters (80 and 100 feet) of its height in order to create a plain some 200 meters (655 feet) long, on which to mount the European Extremely Large Telescope, or E-ELT, a project of the European Southern Observatory. On this site will be built a structure 60 meters (200 feet) high and 80 meters (260 feet) in diameter, with mirrors of 39.3 meters (129 feet) which in 10 years will begin to explore the origins of the universe. The telescope will shed light on the 'dark ages' of the universe, when the Milky Way was only 500,000 years old, and thanks to its enormous size it could also contribute to finding extraterrestrial life by detecting whether exoplanets have oxygen in their atmospheres.

Make a Date With Fraud

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the hey-at-least-it's-a-date dept.

Crime 61

Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "Netcraft is reporting that criminals are mounting massive phishing attacks through online dating sites. The scams are numerous and target multiple sites. Actual methods range from blackmail to 419-style scams. Characteristically, fraudsters hijack an existing account on one of the services, then use that as a portal to deliver a PHP script to compromise the site. 'The latest attacks make use of a phishing kit which contains hundreds of PHP scripts, configured to send stolen credentials to more than 300 distinct email addresses.' The BBC offers additional insights ."

Chicago Adding Sensors For Public Monitoring

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the keepin'-eye-on-yous dept.

Crime 107

An anonymous reader writes "A research project dubbed the 'Array of Things' will add sensors for public monitoring throughout Chicago. The project is being started by a collaborative effort between the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratories. The goal of the project is to build a permanent data collection infrastructure to monitor things that might help government officials, researchers and companies better understand the city environment. Sensors will examine various attributes such as air quality, wind, light, sound heat, precipitation, and of course cell phone data. Eventually the researchers would like to see the sensors exist as a public utility throughout the entire city to help public, private and academic partners learn about the city. Researchers say there is nothing to fear about privacy because the sensors will only count people by observing cellphone traffic. With such assurances from researchers working in a shining example of transparency and democratic freedom like Chicago, what could possible go wrong?"

Ask Slashdot: Best Way to Learn C# For Game Programming?

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the can't-sharpen-the-sea dept.

Programming 254

An anonymous reader writes So I, like many people, want to make my own game. Outside of MATLAB, Visual Basic, and LabVIEW I have no real programming experience. I initially started with Ruby, but after doing my homework decided that if I ever wanted to progress to a game that required some power, I would basically need to learn some form of C anyway. Further digging has led me to C#. The other parts of game design and theory I have covered: I have ~8 years of CAD modeling experience including Maya and Blender; I have a semiprofessional sound studio, an idie album on iTunes, and am adept at creating sound effects/music in a wide variety of programs; I'm familiar with the setbacks and frustration involved with game development — I beta tested DotA for 9ish years; I already have my game idea down on paper (RTS), including growth tables, unit types, unit states, story-lines, etc. I've been planning this out for a year or two; I will be doing this on my own time, by myself, and am prepared for it to take a couple years to finish. The reason for listing that stuff out, is that I want people to understand that I know what I'm getting myself in to, and I'm not trying to put out a not-so-subtle "help me make a game for free lol" type of post. With all of that said, where is a good place to start (i.e., recommended books) for learning C# for game programming? I am familiar with object oriented programming, so that's a little bit of help. I'm not necessarily looking for the syntax (that part is just memorization), but more for the methodology involved. If anyone also has any suggestions for other books or information that deal with game development, I would love to hear that too. I know enough to understand that I really don't know anything, but have a good foundation to build on.

The EPA Carbon Plan: Coal Loses, But Who Wins?

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the probably-the-mets dept.

Earth 268

Lasrick writes: Mark Cooper with one of the best explanations of some of the most pressing details on the new EPA rule change: 'The claims and counterclaims about EPA's proposed carbon pollution standards have filled the air: It will boost nuclear. It will expand renewables. It promotes energy efficiency. It will kill coal. It changes everything. It accomplishes almost nothing.' Cooper notes that although it's clear that coal is the big loser in the rule change, the rule itself doesn't really pick winners in terms of offering sweet deals for any particular technology; however, it seems that nuclear is also a loser in this formulation, because 'Assuming that states generally adhere to the prime directive of public utility resource acquisition—choosing the lowest-cost approach—the proposed rule will not alter the dismal prospects of nuclear power...' Nuclear power does seem to be struggling with economic burdens and a reluctance from taxpayers to pay continuing subsides in areas such as storage and cleanup. It seems that nuclear is another loser in the new EPA rule change.

The Supreme Court Doesn't Understand Software

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the software-is-a-series-of-tubes dept.

Software 263

An anonymous reader writes We had some good news yesterday when the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a software patent for failing to turn an idea into an invention. Unfortunately, the justices weren't willing to make any broader statements about the patentability of basic software tools, so the patent fights will continue. Timothy B. Lee at Vox argues that this is because the Supreme Court does not understand software, and says we won't see significant reform until they do.

He says, "If a sequence of conventional mathematical operations isn't patentable, then no software should enjoy patent protection. For example, the 'data compression' patents that Justice Kennedy wants to preserve simply claim formulas for converting information from one digital format to another. If that's not a mathematical algorithm, nothing is. This is the fundamental confusion at the heart of America's software patent jurisprudence: many judges seem to believe that mathematical algorithms shouldn't be patented but that certain kinds of software should be patentable. ... If a patent claims a mathematical formula simple enough for a judge to understand how it works, she is likely to recognize that the patent claims a mathematical formula and invalidate it. But if the formula is too complex for her to understand, then she concludes that it's something more than a mathematical algorithm and uphold it."

Scientists Successfully Grow Full Head of Hair On Bald Man

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the not-for-patrick-stewart dept.

Biotech 109

realized writes: "A man with almost no hair on his body has grown a full head of it after a novel treatment by doctors at Yale University. The patient had previously been diagnosed with both alopecia universalis, a disease that results in loss of all body hair, and plaque psoriasis, a condition characterized by scaly red areas of skin. The only hair on his body was within the psoriasis plaques on his head. He was referred to Yale Dermatology for treatment of the psoriasis. The alopecia universalis had never been treated.

After two months on tofacitinib [an FDA-approved arthritis drug] at 10 mg daily, the patient's psoriasis showed some improvement, and the man had grown scalp and facial hair — the first hair he'd grown there in seven years. After three more months of therapy at 15 mg daily, the patient had completely regrown scalp hair and also had clearly visible eyebrows, eyelashes, and facial hair, as well as armpit and other hair, the doctors said."

Community Pick

The Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Plastics

The Grim Reefer (1162755) writes | about 3 months ago

2

The Grim Reefer (1162755) writes "Today many plastic products, from sippy cups and blenders to Tupperware containers, are marketed as BPA-free. But CertiChem and its founder, George Bittner's findings—some of which have been confirmed by other scientists—suggest that many of these alternatives share the qualities that make BPA so potentially harmful.

Those startling results set off a bitter fight with the $375-billion-a-year plastics industry. The American Chemistry Council, which lobbies for plastics makers and has sought to refute the science linking BPA to health problems, has teamed up with Tennessee-based Eastman Chemical—the maker of Tritan, a widely used plastic marketed as being free of estrogenic activity—in a campaign to discredit Bittner and his research. The company has gone so far as to tell corporate customers that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected Bittner's testing methods. (It hasn't.) Eastman also sued CertiChem and its sister company, PlastiPure, to prevent them from publicizing their findings that Tritan is estrogenic, convincing a jury that its product displayed no estrogenic activity. And it launched a PR blitz touting Tritan's safety, targeting the group most vulnerable to synthetic estrogens: families with young children. "It can be difficult for consumers to tell what is really safe," the vice president of Eastman's specialty plastics division, Lucian Boldea, said in one web video, before an image of a pregnant woman flickered across the screen. With Tritan, he added, "consumers can feel confident that the material used in their products is free of estrogenic activity.""

Link to Original Source

Overeager Compilers Can Open Security Holes In Your Code

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the i-blame-the-schools dept.

Programming 199

jfruh writes: "Creators of compilers are in an arms race to improve performance. But according to a presentation at this week's annual USENIX conference, those performance boosts can undermine your code's security. For instance, a compiler might find a subroutine that checks a huge bound of memory beyond what's allocated to the program, decide it's an error, and eliminate it from the compiled machine code — even though it's a necessary defense against buffer overflow attacks."

Modular Science is Building Hardware and Software for Lab Automation (Video)

Roblimo posted about 3 months ago | from the biology-research-on-an-organic-shoestring dept.

Biotech 6

Modular Science is something Tim Lord spotted at last month's O'Reilly Solid Conference in San Francisco. Its founder, Peter Sand, has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT. He's scheduled to speak at this year's OSCON, and his speaker blurb for that conference says, "He is the founder of ManyLabs, a nonprofit focused on teaching math and science using sensors and simulations. Peter also founded Modular Science, a company working on hardware and software tools for science labs. He has given talks at Science Hack Day, Launch Edu, and multiple academic conferences, including SIGGRAPH." And now he's also been interviewed on Slashdot. Note that there are plenty of lab automation systems out there. Peter is working on one that is not only "an order of magnitude cheaper" than similar devices, but is also easy to modify and expand. It's the sort of system that would fit well not just in a college-level lab, but in a high school lab or a local makerspace. (Alternate Video Link)

Continuous System For Converting Waste Plastics Into Crude Oil

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the thar-be-oil-in-them-thar-'fills dept.

Power 139

rtoz writes: A MIT spinout company aims to end the landfilling of plastic with a cost-effective system that breaks down nonrecycled plastics into oil, while reusing some of the gas it produces to operate. To convert the plastics into oil, this new system first shreds them. The shreds are then entered into a reactor — which runs at about 400 degrees Celsius — where a catalyst helps degrade the plastics' long carbon chains. This produces a vapor that runs through a condenser, where it's made into oil. Much of the system's innovation is in its continuous operation (video). This company aims to produce more refined fuel that recyclers can immediately pump back into their recycling trucks, without the need for oil refineries. Currently, 2 trillion tons of plastic waste is sitting in U.S. landfills, so there is a huge demand for this technology.

Supermicro Fails At IPMI, Leaks Admin Passwords

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the bet-they-fix-it-now dept.

Security 102

drinkypoo writes: Zachary Wikholm of Security Incident Response Team (CARISIRT) has publicly announced a serious failure in IPMI BMC (management controller) security on at least 31,964 public-facing systems with motherboards made by SuperMicro: "Supermicro had created the password file PSBlock in plain text and left it open to the world on port 49152." These BMCs are running Linux 2.6.17 on a Nuvoton WPCM450 chip. An exploit will be rolled into metasploit shortly. There is already a patch available for the affected hardware.

NASA Funds Projects For Asteroid-Capture Plan

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the nasa-in-the-sky-with-diamonds dept.

NASA 65

An anonymous reader writes: NASA has announced funding for 18 different projects aimed at developing an asteroid retrieval mission. "The agency is working on two concepts for the mission. The first concept would fully capture a very small asteroid in free space and the other would retrieve a boulder off of a much larger asteroid. Both concepts would redirect an asteroid mass less than 10 meters in size to orbit the moon. Astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft launched on the Space Launch System (SLS) would rendezvous with the captured asteroid mass in lunar orbit and collect samples for return to Earth." Astronomers using the Spitzer Space Telescope have also identified and measured the size of a candidate near-earth asteroid. It measures roughly six meters in diameter, and seems to be held together lightly, possible as a "pile of rubble."

Steve Wozniak Endorses Lessig's Mayday Super PAC

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the i-am-the-internet-and-i-approve-this-message dept.

The Almighty Buck 209

Funksaw writes: Steve Wozniak, co-found of Apple Computer, has come out to endorse Lawrence Lessig's MAYDAY PAC in an animated audio recording. Mayday.US, (formerly MayOne.US) is Lessig's crowd-funded (citizen-funded!), kick-started Super PAC to end all Super PACs. In the video, Wozniak points out that we're never going to get anywhere on issues important to the Internet community and technology advocates if we don't fix the root cause of corruption. The video can be found at the Mayday PAC's new landing page, "theInternetHasASuperPAC.com."

Judge: $324M Settlement In Silicon Valley Tech Worker Case Not Enough

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the good-news-for-the-lawyers dept.

Google 150

itwbennett writes: "A proposed $324.5 million settlement of claims that Silicon Valley companies (Adobe, Apple, Google, and Intel) suppressed worker wages by agreeing not to hire each others' employees may not be high enough, a judge signaled on Thursday. Judge Lucy Koh didn't say whether she would approve the settlement, but she did say in court that she was worried about whether that amount was fair to the roughly 64,000 technology workers represented in the case. Throughout Thursday's hearing, she questioned not just the amount but the logic behind the settlement as presented by lawyers for both the plaintiffs and the defendants."

Will 7nm and 5nm CPU Process Tech Really Happen?

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the less-is-more dept.

Hardware 142

An anonymous reader writes "This article provides a technical look at the challenges in scaling chip production ever downward in the semiconductor industry. Chips based on a 22nm process are running in consumer devices around the world, and 14nm development is well underway. But as we approach 10nm, 7nm, and 5nm, the low-hanging fruit disappears, and several fundamental components need huge technological advancement to be built. Quoting: "In the near term, the leading-edge chip roadmap looks clear. Chips based on today's finFETs and planar FDSOI technologies will scale to 10nm. Then, the gate starts losing control over the channel at 7nm, prompting the need for a new transistor architecture. ... The industry faces some manufacturing challenges beyond 10nm. The biggest hurdle is lithography. To reduce patterning costs, Imec's CMOS partners hope to insert extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography by 7nm. But EUV has missed several market windows and remains delayed, due to issues with the power source. ... By 7nm, the industry may require both EUV and multiple patterning. 'At 7nm, we need layers down to a pitch of about 21nm,' said Adam Brand, senior director of the Transistor Technology Group at Applied Materials. 'That's already below the pitch of EUV by itself. To do a layer like the fin at 21nm, it's going to take EUV plus double patterning to round out of the gate. So clearly, the future of the industry is a combination of these technologies.'"

Girls Take All In $50 Million Google Learn-to-Code Initiative

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the more-good-coders-more-good-software dept.

Education 548

theodp writes: On Thursday, Google announced a $50 million initiative to inspire girls to code called Made with Code. As part of the initiative, Google said it will also be "rewarding teachers who support girls who take CS courses on Codecademy or Khan Academy." The rewards are similar to earlier coding and STEM programs run by Code.org and Google that offered lower funding or no funding at all to teachers if participation by female students was deemed unacceptable to the sponsoring organizations. The announcement is all the more intriguing in light of a Google job posting seeking a K-12 Computer Science Education Outreach Program Manager to "work closely with external leaders and company executives to influence activities that drive toward collaborative efforts to achieve major 'moonshots' in education on a global scale." Perhaps towards that end, Google recently hired the Executive Director of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA), who was coincidentally also a Code.org Advisory Board member. And Code.org — itself a Made With Code grantee — recently managed to lure away the ACM's Director of Public Policy to be its COO. So, are these kinds of private-public K-12 CS education initiatives (and associated NSF studies) a good idea? Some of the nation's leading CS educators sure seem to think so (video).

Public Interest In Great White Shark Devours Research Site's Servers

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the we're-gonna-need-a-bigger-load-balancer dept.

Shark 57

Lucas123 writes: Katherine, a 14-foot, 2,300lb. Great White Shark, has become so popular with visitors to a research site tracking her daily movements that the site's servers have crashed and remained down for hours. The shark, one of dozens tagged for research by the non-profit global shark tracking project OCEARCH, typically cruises very close to shore up and down the Eastern Seaboard. That has attracted a lot interest from the swimming public. Currently, however, she's heading from Florida's west coast toward Texas. OCEARCH tags sharks with four different technologies to create a three-dimensional image of a shark's activities. "On average, we're collecting 100 data points every second — 8.5 million data points per day."

US House of Representatives Votes To Cut Funding To NSA

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the congress-threatening-to-actually-do-something dept.

Government 164

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. House of Representatives voted late Thursday night, 293 to 123, to approve an amendment to the NSA's appropriations bill that cuts all funding for warrantless surveillance and for programs that force companies to create backdoors in their products. The success of this vote in the House is attributed to the fact that the amendment did not have to go through the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees and also to the increasingly apparent unpopularity of NSA activities among voters. Although privacy advocates laud the vote, there are those who note that the amendment specifically applies to the NSA and CIA while remaining silent on other agencies such as the FBI. The appropriations bill in its entirety will now proceed to the Senate for approval."

Mozilla Working On a New Website Comment System

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the fight-the-trolls dept.

Mozilla 142

sfcrazy writes Mozilla is working on developing a content and commenting platform in collaboration with The New York Times and The Washington Post. The platform aims to be the next-generation commenting and content creation platform which will give more control to readers. Mozilla says in a blog post, “The community platform will allow news organizations to connect with audiences beyond the comments section, deepening opportunities for engagement. Through the platform, readers will be able to submit pictures, links and other media; track discussions, and manage their contributions and online identities. Publishers will then be able to collect and use this content for other forms of storytelling and spark ongoing discussions by providing readers with targeted content and notifications.” The project is being funded by Knights Foundation.

Smartphones To Monitor Schizophrenics

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the is-the-phone-watching-me? dept.

Medicine 99

the_newsbeagle writes Psychiatrists have realized that they can collect vast amounts of data about their patients using smartphone apps that passively monitor the patients as they go about their daily business. A prototype for schizophrenia patients is being tested out now on Long Island. The Crosscheck trial will look at behavior patterns (tracking movement, sleep, and conversations) and correlate them with the patient's reports of symptoms and moods; researchers hope the data will reveal the "signature" of a patient who is about relapse and therefore needs help.

German Intel Agency Helped NSA Tap Fiber Optic Cables In Germany

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the no-i-in-team dept.

United States 103

An anonymous reader writes Der Spiegel has written a piece on the extent of collaboration between Germany's intelligence agency, Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), and the U.S.'s National Security Agency (NSA). The sources cited in the piece do reveal BND's enthusiastic collusion in enabling the NSA to tap fiber optic cables in Germany, but they seem inconclusive as to how much information from the NSA's collection activity in the country is actually shared between the NSA and BND. Of note is evidence that the NSA's collection methods do not automatically exclude German companies and organizations from their data sweep; intelligence personnel have to rectro-actively do so on an individual basis when they realize that they are surveilling German targets. Germany's constitution protects against un-warranted surveillance of correspondence, either by post or telecommunications, of German citizens in Germany or abroad and foreigners on German soil.

Researchers Find "Achilles Heel" of Drug Resistant Bacteria

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the take-your-medicine dept.

Biotech 106

Rambo Tribble writes Researchers in Britain are reporting that they have found a way to prevent bacteria from forming the "wall" that prevents antibiotics from attacking them. “It is a very significant breakthrough,” said Professor Changjiang Dong, from the University of East Anglia's (UAE) Norwich Medical School. “This is really important because drug-resistant bacteria is a global health problem. Many current antibiotics are becoming useless, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Many bacteria build up an outer defence which is important for their survival and drug resistance. We have found a way to stop that happening," he added. This research provides the platform for urgently-needed new generation drugs.

Draper Labs Develops Low Cost Probe To Orbit, Land On Europa For NASA

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the heading-out dept.

Space 79

MarkWhittington writes Ever since the House passed a NASA spending bill that allocated $100 million for a probe to Jupiter's moon Europa, the space agency has been attempting to find a way to do such a mission on the cheap. The trick is that the mission has to cost less than $1 billion, a tall order for anything headed to the Outer Planets. According to a Wednesday story in the Atlantic, some researchers at Draper Labs have come up with a cheap way to do a Europa orbiter and land instruments on its icy surface.

The first stage is to orbit a cubesat, a tiny, coffee can sized satellite that would contain two highly accurate accelerometers that would go into orbit around Europa and measure its gravity field. In this way the location of Europa's subsurface oceans would be mapped. Indeed it is possible that the probe might find an opening through the ice crust to the ocean, warmed it is thought by tidal forces.

The second stage is to deploy even smaller probes called chipsats, tiny devices that contain sensors, a microchip, and an antenna. Hundreds of these probes, the size of human fingernails, would float down on Europa's atmosphere to be scattered about its surface. While some might be lost, enough will land over a wide enough area to do an extensive chemical analysis of the surface of Europa, which would then be transmitted to the cubesat mothership and then beamed to Earth.

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