lee1 writes "Lockeed’s Charles Chase has created a bit of excitement by claiming that the Skunkworks team is on the verge of solving the world’s energy problem with a new type of fusion device. We are not provided very many details — it is cylindrical, and the plasma is heated by RF. Apparently it works because the imposed magnetic confinement field is very clever. Unfortunately, the history of clever fusion ideas is littered with the corpses of magnetic field configurations that were almost perfect, except for one little hole." Link to Original Source top
lee1 writes "Where by 'Photoshop' I mean version 1.0.1, released for the Macintosh in 1990, and where by 'open source' I mean downloadable without charge if you execute the "Computer History Museum Software License Agreement". This would seem to make it open source, free as in beer, but not quite free as in speech — but I'm no expert. About 75% of the code is in Pascal, 15% is in 68000 assembler language, and the rest is data. The article features interesting screenshots of Photoshop running on an ancient black and white Macintosh — where by 'black and white' I do not mean greyscale. Much of the interface has not changed. There is also a code assessment by the 'Chief Scientist for Software Engineering at IBM Research Almaden' who admires the almost entirely uncommented code greatly, saying 'This is the kind of code I aspire to write.'" Link to Original Source top
lee1 writes "The author peers into a Microsoft store and spies a sea of Microsoft employees, vastly outnumbering the few customers. Later, he notices an animated crowd of civilians surrounding a Microsoft display. But it's not the product that they're excited about." Link to Original Source top
lee1 writes "Using special techniques that present information to one eye while hiding the information from the conscious mind (my masking it with more distracting imagery presented to the other eye), researchers have shown two new and very unexpected things: we can read and understand short sentences, and we can perform multi-step arithmetic problems, entirely unconsciously. The results of the reading and calculating are available to and influence the conscious mind, but we remain unaware of their existence. While we have known for some time that a great deal of sensory processing occurs below the surface and affects our deliberative behavior, it was widely believed until now that the subconscious was not able to actually do arithmetic or parse sentences." Link to Original Source top
lee1 writes ""Imagine the confusion, inconvenience, and possible embarrassment that could be created if the operator of an smtp server decided, unilaterally and without advertisement, to deviate from the published standards and expected behavior by tampering with your email. Imagine if they silently changed the From: header to a different address; one that belonged to someone else, one that was not supposed to be publicly known, or one that is not monitored? Google does exactly this." Link to Original Source top
Japanese Panel Finds Fukushima Accident was "Man-Made"
lee1 writes "A legislative inquiry has issued a scathing report claiming that the Fukushima disaster was “manmade” and could have been prevented. It lays the blame partly on the character of Japanese society." Link to Original Source top
Was the Eighth-century Jump in C14 Caused by a supernova?
lee1 writes "This is a great story about how the internet, combined with projects
to digitize historical artifacts, can allow a prepared mind to make
new connections and create new knowledge.
Jonathon Allen, an undergraduate biochemistry major, heard about the
mysterious jump in C14 levels in the growth rings of
Japanese trees from 774 C.E. from a Nature podcast. After
Googling for a while, he was able to connect this mysterious
phenomenon with the description, in an 8th century chronicle, of
what may have been a supernova. The chronicle was digitized as part
of the Yale’s Avalon Project." Link to Original Source top
lee1 writes "In a decision handed down on Pi Day, a US District Court has ruled that the mathematical constant pi can not be copyrighted. The claim of copyright was brought by one 'mathematical musician' against another; both had created pieces of music based on the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. The judge sensibly opined that 'Pi is a non-copyrightable fact, and the transcription of pi to music is a non-copyrightable idea.'" Link to Original Source top
lee1 writes "Quantum dots are nanometer-sized, light-sensitive, semiconducting particles. Researchers at the University of Washington have discovered that when these particles are in proximity to a nerve cell, shining light on the dots causes the neurons' ion channels to open and the nerve cell to fire. This opens up a new vista of possible treatments for various brain disorders. The dots can be implanted by coating them with molecules with an affinity for the targeted tissues and injecting them into the bloodstream. After that, the main problem will be to figure out how to shine light into the brain. But there are high hopes for the treatment of retinal disorders, where this problem is, obviously, already solved." Link to Original Source top
lee1 writes "Wikileaks has had to cease publishing classified files due to what the organization calls a "blockade by US-based finance companies" that, according to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has "destroyed 95% of our revenue." Assange also opined that "A handful of US finance companies cannot be allowed to decide how the whole world votes with its pocket." According to Assange the group was taking "pre-litigation action" against the financial blockade in Iceland, Denmark, the UK, Brussels, the United States and Australia. They have also filed an anti-trust complaint with the European Commission." Link to Original Source top
lee1 writes "After the police broke in to a Gizmodo editor’s home and collected emails from computers found there as part of the investigation of the stolen 2010 iPhone prototype, the DA petitioned the court to withdraw the search warrant, because it violated a law intended to protect journalists. Nevertheless, the DA, rather than apologize for the illegal search and seizure, issued a critique of the seized emails, commenting that they were ‘juvenile’ and that ‘It was obvious that they were angry with the company about not being invited to [...] some big Apple event [...] this is like 15-year-old children talking [...] They talked about having Apple right where they wanted them and they were really going to show them.'" Link to Original Source top
lee1 writes "When a Chinese research journal became the first in China to be subjected to CrossCheck text analysis software, it was found to be chock full of plagiarised articles. 31 percent of papers were discovered to be characterised by unreasonable copying and plagiarism overall, with 40% in computer science and life sciences. Part of the explanation is thought to lie in certain aspects of Chinese culture, which emphasizes rote memorization and repetition and regards the copying a teacher's work as a learning technique. Also, the rigid hierarchical nature of Chinese academic beauracracies means that an accusation of misconduct directed at a high-ranking researcher by an underling will not be taken seriously." Link to Original Source top
lee1 writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation is trying to urge a federal court to block what they claim is the unconstitutional use of the federal anti-stalking law to prosecute a man for posting criticism of a public figure to Twitter. The law was orginally targeted against crossing state lines for the purpose of stalking, but was modified in 2005 to make the 'intentional infliction of emotional distress' by the use of 'any interactive computer service' a crime. The prosecution’s theory in this case is that using Twitter to criticize a public figure can be a criminal act if the person’s feelings are hurt." Link to Original Source top
lee1 writes "Some autistic children are known to possess a mutation in a particular gene. Scientists have genetically engineered a mouse to have the same mutation, and claim that it exhibits autistic behaviors, as well as abnormal brain chemistry. In social interaction experiments, the mouse either avoided normal interactions or became inappropriately aggressive, behaviors that the Johns Hopkins researchers claim is similar to social behavior in autistic humans." Link to Original Source top
lee1 writes "A citizen of the UK, of Pakistani origin, has been arrested for possessing a recipe for the production of ricin, an extremely dangerous poison made from castor beans. He has also been charged with possessing some bomb-making instructions.
He has not been accused of actually doing or having anything besides information. Some claim that you can find a ricin recipe on the web; others that the recipes are bogus. Either way, think twice about indulging your curiosity if you live in Britain." Link to Original Source top
lee1 writes "Dhanji R. Prasanna, an engineer who recently resigned from Google, describes Google's famous back-end infrastructure as a collection of obsolete technologies, designed 10 years ago for building search engines and crawlers. He blasts MapReduce and its closed-source friends as 'ancient, creaking dinosaurs', compared with outside open source projects like MessagePack, JSON, and Hadoop. He also criticizes Google's coding culture, which has become unfriendly to hacker types due to the company's enormous size." Link to Original Source top
lee1 writes "RSA has finally admitted that its SecureID tokens were duplicated by criminals who broke into their computers and gained access to the 'seed records'. They have offered to replace the tokens used by their customers, although they suggest that the attack was targeted only at military information (Lockheed Martin), and the attackers have shown no interest in financial or personal data. Replacing tokens for a large organization is very disruptive, and, according to an RSA manager, 'there is no guarantee that it won't happen again.'" Link to Original Source top
lee1 writes "A fundamental result of information theory and thermodynamics is that computation generates heat, as your knees may have noticed. Further, it has been proven that, in a classical computer, deleting data necessarily produces a small amount of waste heat. A new theoretical result shows that in a quantum computer deleting data actually cools the device under the right circumstances. The result can be checked by experiment and has possible practical applications; it leads as well to a new understanding of entropy in thermodynamics and information theory." Link to Original Source top
lee1 writes "In a 10 year long experiment, scientists at Imperial College have made the most precise measurement so far of the shape of the electron. It's round. So round, in fact, that if the electron were enlarged to the size of the solar system, its shape would diverge from a perfect sphere less than the width of a human hair. The experiment continues in the search for even greater precision. There are implications for understanding processes in the early universe, namely the mysterious fate of the antimatter." Link to Original Source top
lee1 writes "Charlie Brooker laments the embarrassing offerings available at the movie theater and points out that recent game titles are not only technically amazing, but better at telling a story and appealing to the intelligent person looking for entertainment. All related in his inimitable foaming-at-the-mouth style." Link to Original Source