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  • Extreme Shrimp May Hold Clues To Alien Life On Europa

    HughPickens.com writes: Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are studying a mysterious ecosystem at one of the world's deepest undersea hydrothermal vents to get clues about what life could be like on other planetary bodies, such as Jupiter's icy moon Europa, which has a subsurface ocean. At the vents, tiny shrimp are piled on top of each other, layer upon layer, crawling on rock chimneys that spew hot water. "You go along the ocean bottom and there's nothing, effectively," says Max Coleman. "And then suddenly we get these hydrothermal vents and a massive ecosystem. It's just literally teeming with life." Bacteria, inside the shrimps' mouths and in specially evolved gill covers, produce organic matter that feed the crustaceans. The particular bacteria in the vents are able to survive in extreme environments because of chemosynthesis, a process that works in the absence of sunlight and involves organisms getting energy from chemical reactions. In this case, the bacteria use hydrogen sulfide, a chemical abundant at the vents, to make organic matter. The temperatures at the vents can climb up to a scorching 842 degrees Fahrenheit (450 degrees Celsius), but waters just an inch away are cool enough to support the shrimp. The shrimp are blind, but have thermal receptors in the backs of their heads.

    According to the exobiologists, these mysterious shrimps and its symbiotic bacterium may hold clues "about what life could be like on other planetary bodies." It's life that may be similar—at the basic level—to what could be lurking in the oceans of Europa, deep under the icy crust of the Jupiter moon. According to Emma Versteegh "whether an animal like this could exist on Europa heavily depends on the actual amount of energy that's released there, through hydrothermal vents." Nobody is seriously planning a landing mission on Europa yet. But the European Space Agency aims to launch its JUpiter ICy moons Explorer mission (JUICE) to make the first thickness measurements of Europa's icy crust starting in 2030 and NASA also has begun planning a Europa Clipper mission that would study the icy moon while doing flybys in a Jupiter orbit.

    75 comments | 3 days ago

  • Jolla Crowdfunds Its First Tablet

    SmartAboutThings writes: Jolla is another rising star in the tech world, having recently expanded its smartphone sales into more countries across the globe. Jolla's Sailfish OS is based on the Linux kernel, and considered by many to be a direct successor to Nokia and Intel's MeeGo and the N9 mobile phone. Its software is based on the open-sourced components of MeeGo. Now, the company is ready to start production of its first tablet. They're crowdfunding it, and they blew past their $380,000 goal in about two hours.

    The tablet has a 7.9-inch screen with a resolution of 2048 x 1536. It's powered by a 1.8GHz 64-bit quad-core Intel processor, comes with a 32GB of storage, an SD card slot, 2GB of RAM and a 5MP rear camera. Judging by its size, we can see this will rival the iPad Mini the new Nokia N1. While there aren't too many Sailfish-specific apps available, as with the phone, Jolla's tablet will be compatible with Android apps.

    56 comments | about a week ago

  • Collin Graver and his Wooden Bicycle (Video)

    This is not a practical bike. "Even on smooth pavement, your vision goes blurry because you're vibrating so hard," Collin said to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter back in 2012 when he was only 15 -- and already building wooden bicycles. Collin's wooden bikes are far from the first ones. Wikipedia says, "The first bicycles recorded, known variously as velocipedes, dandy horses, or hobby horses, were constructed from wood, starting in 1817." And not all wooden bicycles made today are as crude as Collin's. A Portland (OR) company called Renovo makes competition-quality hardwood bicycle frames -- for as little as $2200, and a bunch more for a complete bike with all its hardware fitted and ready to roll.

    Of course, while it might be sensible to buy a Renovo product if you want a wood-framed bike to Race Across America, you won't improve your woodworking skills the way Collin's projects have improved his to the point where he's made a nice-looking pair of wood-framed sunglasses described in his WOOD YOU? SHOULD YOU? blog. (Alternate Video Link)

    71 comments | about a week ago

  • Elite: Dangerous Dumps Offline Single-Player

    Robotron23 writes: The developers behind the sequel to legendary video game Elite have, to the anger and dismay of fans, dropped the offline single-player mode originally promised. The game is due for full release in under a month. With the title having raised about $1.5 million from Kickstarter, and millions more in subsequent campaigns that advertised the feature, gamers are livid. A complaints thread on the official Elite forums has swelled to 450+ pages in only three days, while refunds are being lodged in the thousands. It is down to the discretion of Frontier, the game's developer, whether to process refund requests of original backers.

    472 comments | about a week ago

  • After Four Days, Philae Team Gets to Rest

    The Associated Press reports on one happy consequence of the inevitable shutdown of the Philae lander, after its incredible landing on Rosetta: the team that was in control of the lander here on earth finally gets to take a well-deserved break, after four nearly sleepless days and nights. It seems unlikely -- though it's not impossible -- that Philae will get enough solar energy to briefly wake up again; its bouncy landing and harpoon malfunction mean that the craft is in shadow rather than the sunlight that it was hoped to bask in. From CNN: Originally, it was supposed to have seven hours of light per comet day -- which lasts just 12.4 hours. Now it is exposed only 1.5 hours a day. That's likely not enough to juice up Philae's rechargeable secondary battery, ESA said. There is one last hope. "Mission controllers sent commands to rotate the lander's main body, to which the solar panels are fixed," ESA says in on its blog. "This may have exposed more panel area to sunlight."

    88 comments | about two weeks ago

  • GTK+ Developers Call For Help To Finish Cross-Platform OpenGL Support

    jones_supa writes OpenGL support under GTK is getting into good shape for providing a nice, out-of-the-box experience by default on key platforms for the GTK+ 3.16 / GNOME 3.16 release in March. For a few weeks now within mainline GTK+ has been native OpenGL support and as part of that a new GtkGLArea widget for allowing OpenGL drawing within GTK applications. Since that initial work landed, there's been more GTK+ OpenGL code progressing that right now primarily benefits Linux X11 and Wayland users. While good progress is being made and improvements still ongoing to the GNOME toolkit, GNOME developers are requesting help in ensuring other GTK+ backends can benefit from this OpenGL support. If you are using or planning to use GTK+ 3 on Windows or OS X, and you know how to use OpenGL on those two platforms, please consider helping out the GTK+ developers by implementing the GdkGLContext API using WGL and AppleGL.

    89 comments | about two weeks ago

  • First Victims of the Stuxnet Worm Revealed

    An anonymous reader writes: Analyzing more than 2,000 Stuxnet files collected over a two-year period, Kaspersky Lab can identify the first victims of the Stuxnet worm. Initially security researchers had no doubt that the whole attack had a targeted nature. The code of the Stuxnet worm looked professional and exclusive; there was evidence that extremely expensive zero-day vulnerabilities were used. However, it wasn't yet known what kind of organizations were attacked first and how the malware ultimately made it right through to the uranium enrichment centrifuges in the particular top secret facilities. Kaspersky Lab analysis sheds light on these questions.

    39 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Espionage Campaign Targets Corporate Executives Traveling Abroad

    An anonymous reader writes Kaspersky Lab researched the Darkhotel espionage campaign, which has lurked in the shadows for at least four years while stealing sensitive data from selected corporate executives traveling abroad. Darkhotel hits its targets while they are staying in luxury hotels. The crew never goes after the same target twice; they operate with surgical precision, obtaining all the valuable data they can from the first contact, deleting traces of their work and fading into the background to await the next high profile target. The most recent traveling targets include top executives from the USA and Asia doing business and investing in the APAC region: CEOs, senior vice presidents, sales and marketing directors and top R&D staff. This threat actor is still active.

    101 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Google "Evicted" the Berlin Wall From Property It Bought

    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.

    59 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Long-term Study Finds No Link Between Video Game Violence and Real Violence

    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.

    250 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Does Watson Have the Answer To Big Blue's Uncertain Future?

    HughPickens.com writes: IBM has recently delivered a string of disappointing quarters, and announced recently that it would take a multibillion-dollar hit to offload its struggling chip business. But Will Knight writes at MIT Technology Review that Watson may have the answer to IBM's uncertain future. IBM's vast research department was recently reorganized to ramp up efforts related to cognitive computing. The push began with the development of the original Watson, but has expanded to include other areas of software and hardware research aimed at helping machines provide useful insights from huge quantities of often-messy data. "We're betting billions of dollars, and a third of this division now is working on it," says John Kelly, director of IBM Research, said of cognitive computing, a term the company uses to refer to artificial intelligence techniques related to Watson. The hope is that the Watson Business Group, a division aimed making its Jeopardy!-winning cognitive computing application more of a commercial success, will be able to answer more complicated questions in all sorts of industries, including health care, financial investment, and oil discovery; and that it will help IBM build a lucrative new computer-driven consulting business.

    But Watson is still a work in progress. Some companies and researchers testing Watson systems have reported difficulties in adapting the technology to work with their data sets. "It's not taking off as quickly as they would like," says Robert Austin. "This is one of those areas where turning demos into real business value depends on the devils in the details. I think there's a bold new world coming, but not as fast as some people think." IBM needs software developers to embrace its vision and build services and apps that use its cognitive computing technology. In May of this year it announced that seven universities would offer computer science classes in cognitive computing and last month IBM revealed a list of partners that have developed applications by tapping into application programming interfaces that access versions of Watson running in the cloud. Big Blue said it will invest $1 billion into the Watson division including $100 million to fund startups developing cognitive apps. "I very much admire the end goal," says Boris Katz, adding that business pressures could encourage IBM's researchers to move more quickly than they would like. "If the management is patient, they will really go far."

    67 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Major Performance Improvement Discovered For Intel's GPU Linux Driver

    An anonymous reader writes: LunarG, on contract with Valve Software, discovered a critical shortcoming with the open-source Intel Linux graphics driver that was handicapping the performance. A special bit wasn't being set by the Linux driver but was by the Windows driver, which when enabled is increasing the Linux performance in many games by now ~20%+, which should allow for a much more competitive showing between Intel OpenGL performance on Windows vs. Linux. However, the patch setting this bit isn't public yet as apparently it's breaking video acceleration in certain cases.

    96 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Sketches Released of New Star Wars Museum

    An anonymous reader writes Chicago has some great museums, but none have architecture that excite me as much as the renderings (read "storyboards, not blueprints," but they're also called "plans," which I hope means they're pretty accurate) of George Lucas's Star Wars museum. Technically, it's the "George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art," but we know what he means, and these pictures only make the point clearer. Says the Associated Press story, "The Beijing-based principal designer, Ma Yansong of MAD Architects, released the first sketches Tuesday. The seven-story museum will be located between Soldier Field and McCormick Place on Lake Michigan. It's expected to cost about $400 million. Ma has said it's the most important project of his career to date."

    65 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Ferguson No-Fly Zone Revealed As Anti-Media Tactic

    The AP (here, carried by the San Francisco Chronicle) reports that recorded conversations reveal flight restrictions requested in August by the police force of Ferguson, MO, and agreed to by Federal aviation safety officials, were specifically intended to limit the access of journalists to the area, rather than purely in response to safety concerns. One FAA manager in Kansas City was recorded saying police "did not care if you ran commercial traffic through this TFR (temporary flight restriction) all day long. They didn't want media in there." "There is really ... no option for a [Temporary Flight Restriction] that says, you know, 'OK, everybody but the media is OK,'" he said. The managers then worked out wording they felt would keep news helicopters out of the controlled zone but not impede other air traffic. The conversations contradict claims by the St. Louis County Police Department, which responded to demonstrations following the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, that the restriction was solely for safety and had nothing to do with preventing media from witnessing the violence or the police response. Police said at the time, and again as recently as late Friday to the AP, that they requested the flight restriction in response to shots fired at a police helicopter. But police officials confirmed there was no damage to their helicopter and were unable to provide an incident report on the shooting. On the tapes, an FAA manager described the helicopter shooting as unconfirmed "rumors."

    265 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Qualcomm Begins Contributing To Reverse-Engineered Freedreno Linux Driver

    An anonymous reader writes: For over two years there's been a Freedreno driver project that's been reverse-engineering Qualcomm's Adreno graphics hardware. Freedreno consists of both a user-space Gallium3D driver providing OpenGL / OpenGL ES support and a DRM/KMS kernel driver to replace Qualcomm's open-source kernel driver designed just around Android's needs. The community-based, reverse-engineering Freedreno driver project is finally paying off and gaining critical momentum with Qualcomm now contributing to the driver. QuIC through the Aurora Forum provided Adreno A4xx hardware support to the Freedreno MSM kernel driver.

    19 comments | about three weeks ago

  • MPAA Bans Google Glass In Theaters

    An anonymous reader writes: The Motion Picture Association of America, along with the National Association of Theater Owners, have banned Google Glass and similar devices from being in movie theaters. They said, "As part of our continued efforts to ensure movies are not recorded in theaters, however, we maintain a zero-tolerance policy toward using any recording device while movies are being shown. As has been our long-standing policy, all phones must be silenced and other recording devices, including wearable devices, must be turned off and put away at show time. Individuals who fail or refuse to put the recording devices away may be asked to leave." This is a change from the MPAA's stance earlier this year that Glass was "no threat" in terms of copyright infringement. A spokesman said the ban is geared toward combating more sophisticated wearables in the future.

    357 comments | about three weeks ago

  • OpenBSD Drops Support For Loadable Kernel Modules

    jones_supa writes: The OpenBSD developers have decided to remove support for loadable kernel modules from the BSD distribution's next release. Several commits earlier this month stripped out the loadable kernel modules support. Phoronix's Michael Larabel has not yet found an official reason for the decision to drop support. He wagers that it is due to security or code quality/openness ideals.

    162 comments | about a month ago

  • Windows 0-Day Exploited In Ongoing Attacks

    An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft is warning users about a new Windows zero-day vulnerability that is being actively exploited in the wild and is primarily a risk to users on servers and workstations that open documents with embedded OLE objects. The vulnerability is currently being exploited via PowerPoint files. These specially crafted files contain a malicious OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) object. This is not the first time a vulnerability in OLE has been exploited by cybercriminals, however most previous OLE vulnerabilities have been limited to specific older versions of the Windows operating system. What makes this vulnerability dangerous is that it affects the latest fully patched versions of Windows.

    114 comments | about a month ago

  • Delivering Malicious Android Apps Hidden In Image Files

    An anonymous reader writes "Researchers have found a way to deliver a malicious app to Android users by hiding it into what seems to be an encrypted image file, which is then delivered via a legitimate, seemingly innocuous wrapper app. Fortinet malware researcher Axelle Apvrille and reverse engineer Ange Albertini created a custom tool they dubbed AngeCryption, which allows them to encrypt the payload Android application package (APK) and make it look like an image (PNG, JPG) file . They also had to create another APK that carries the "booby-trapped" image file and which can decrypt it to unveil the malicious APK file and install it. A malicious app thusly encrypted is nearly invisible to reverse engineers, and possibly even to AV solutions and Google's Android Bouncer." (Here's the original paper, from researchers Axelle Apvrille and Ange Albertini.)

    113 comments | about a month ago

  • Mars Orbiter Beams Back Images of Comet's Surprisingly Tiny Nucleus

    astroengine writes The High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on board NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has become the first instrument orbiting Mars to beam back images of comet Siding Spring's nucleus and coma. And by default, it has also become the first ever mission to photograph a long-period comet's pristine nucleus on its first foray into the inner solar system. Interestingly, through analysis of these first HiRISE observations, astronomers have determined that the icy nucleus at the comet's core is much smaller than originally thought. "Telescopic observers had modeled the size of the nucleus as about half a mile, or one kilometer, wide," writes a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory news release. "However, the best HiRISE images show only two to three pixels across the brightest feature, probably the nucleus, suggesting a size less than half that estimate."

    47 comments | about a month ago

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