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Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

Idle

Anthropologist Spends Three Years Living With Hackers 252

Posted by samzenpus
from the going-native dept.
concealment writes "Coleman, an anthropologist who teaches at McGill University, spent three years studying the community that builds the Debian GNU/Linux open source operating system and hackers in the Bay Area. More recently, she's been peeling away the onion that is the Anonymous movement, a group that hacks as a means of protest — and mischief. When she moved to San Francisco, she volunteered with the Electronic Frontier Foundation — she believed, correctly, that having an eff.org address would make people more willing to talk to her — and started making the scene. She talked free software over Chinese food at the Bay Area Linux User Group's monthly meetings upstairs at San Francisco's Four Seas Restaurant. She marched with geeks demanding the release of Adobe eBooks hacker Dmitry Sklyarov. She learned the culture inside-out."
Network

Caltech and UVic Set 339Gbps Internet Speed Record 79

Posted by samzenpus
from the greased-lightning dept.
MrSeb writes "Engineers at Caltech and the University of Victoria in Canada have smashed their own internet speed records, achieving a memory-to-memory transfer rate of 339 gigabits per second (53GB/s), 187Gbps (29GB/s) over a single duplex 100-gigabit connection, and a max disk-to-disk transfer speed of 96Gbps (15GB/s). At a sustained rate of 339Gbps, such a network could transfer four million gigabytes (4PB) of data per day — or around 200,000 Blu-ray movie rips. These speed records are all very impressive, but what's the point? Put simply, the scientific world deals with vasts amount of data — and that data needs to be moved around the world quickly. The most obvious example of this is CERN's Large Hadron Collider; in the past year, the high-speed academic networks connecting CERN to the outside world have transferred more than 100 petabytes of data. It is because of these networks that we can discover new particles, such as the Higgs boson. In essence, Caltech and the University of Victoria have taken it upon themselves to ride the bleeding edge of high-speed networks so that science can continue to prosper."
Earth

Scientific American's Fred Guterl Explores the Threats Posed By Technology 93

Posted by samzenpus
from the keep-your-head-down dept.
Lasrick writes "Fred Guterl is the executive editor of Scientific American, and in this piece he explores various threats posed by the technology that modern civilization relies on. He discusses West African and Indian monsoons, infectious diseases, and computer hacking. Here's a quote: 'Today the technologies that pose some of the biggest problems are not so much military as commercial. They come from biology, energy production, and the information sciences — and are the very technologies that have fueled our prodigious growth as a species. They are far more seductive than nuclear weapons, and more difficult to extricate ourselves from. The technologies we worry about today form the basis of our global civilization and are essential to our survival.'"
Government

Lamar Smith, Future Chairman For the House Committee On Science, Space, and Tech 292

Posted by Soulskill
from the politician-selected-for-job-in-politics dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Lamar Smith, a global warming skeptic, will become the new chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Someone who disagrees with the vast majority of scientists will be given partial jurisdiction over NASA, EPA, DOE, NSF, NOAA, and the USGS. When will candidates who are actually qualified to represent science or at a minimum show an interest in it be the representatives of science with regard to political decision-making?"
Space

British Skylon Engine Passes Its Tests 172

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the some-hope-for-humanity dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports that the SABRE hybrid (part air-breathing jet, part rocket) that is intended to power the Skylon single-stage-to-orbit space plane has passed its final technical demonstration test, and is now looking for money (only £250m!) to prepare for manufacturing. If this goes ahead, travel into orbit from local airports (ideally, those close to the equator) will be possible. And quite cheaply. But might it have the same legal difficulties flying from U.S. airports as the Concorde did?"
Science

Workers Raise First Section of New Chernobyl Shelter 149

Posted by Soulskill
from the giant-portable-stadium-roofs dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this AP report: "Workers have raised the first section of a colossal arch-shaped structure that eventually will cover the exploded nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power station. Project officials on Tuesday hailed the raising as a significant step in a complex effort to clean up the consequences of the 1986 explosion, the world's worst nuclear accident. Upon completion, the shelter will be moved on tracks over the building containing the destroyed reactor, allowing work to begin on dismantling the reactor and disposing of radioactive waste.'"
Space

Spectacular New Views of Saturn's Polar Vortex 49

Posted by Soulskill
from the mind-the-undertow dept.
sighted writes "Today the robotic spacecraft Cassini returned some jaw-dropping images of the odd hexagon in the planet's north polar region. The hexagon has been seen before, but the change of season has more fully revealed the feature in visible light. Cassini also zoomed in on the churning vortex at the north pole itself. The south pole features a similar maelstrom."
Media

Users Abandon Ship If Online Video Quality Is Not Up To Snuff, Says Study 155

Posted by Soulskill
from the make-a-resolution-for-higher-resolution dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The first large scientific study of how people respond to poor video quality on the Internet paints a picture of ever rising user expectations and the willingness to abandon ship if those expectations are not met (PDF). Some nuggets: 1) Some users are willing to wait for no more than 2 seconds for a video to start playing, with each additional second adding 6% to the abandonment rate. 2) Users with good broadband connectivity expect faster video load times and are even more impatient than ones on mobile devices. 3) Users who experience video freezing watch fewer minutes of the video than someone who does not experience freezing. If a video freezes for 1% of its total play time, 5% less of its total play time is watched, on average. 4) Users who experience failures when they try to play videos are less likely to return to the same website in the future. Big data was analyzed (260+ million minutes of video) and some cool new data analysis techniques used."
NASA

Longest US Space Mission Planned For 2015 29

Posted by Soulskill
from the bring-a-book dept.
SchrodingerZ writes "Captain Scott Kelly, brother of former commander Mark Kelly, will embark on the United States' longest manned space mission, set for 2015. Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will spend an entire year on the orbiting International Space Station. The mission will be a first for NASA's space program, but it is far from the world record. The longest recorded time in space was the 438-day mission of Russia's Valery Polyakov, working on the Mir Space Station, 1994-1995. Kelly, a decorated Navy captain, received degrees from State University of New York Maritime College and the University of Tennessee, and was the flight engineer for space station expedition 25, and commander of expedition 26 in 2010. 'Kornienko hails from Russia's Syzran, Kuibyshev, region and has worked in the space industry since 1986.' The yearlong study on humans working in space will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, spring 2015."
Science

Large Hadron Collider May Have Produced New Matter 238

Posted by Soulskill
from the news-for-nerds-stuff-that's-matter dept.
Covalent writes "The Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator and the 'Big Bang machine' that was used to discover what appears to be the long-sought Higgs boson particle (as announced July 4), may have another surprise up its sleeve this year: The LHC looks to have produced a new type of matter, according to a new analysis of particle collision data by scientists at MIT and Rice University. The new type of matter, which has yet to be verified, is theorized to be one of two possible forms: Either 'color-glass condensate' — a flattened nucleus transformed into a 'wall' of gluons, which are smaller binding subatomic particles, or it could be 'quark-gluon plasma,' a dense, soup or liquid-like collection of individual particles."
NASA

What Will NASA Do With Its Gifted Spy 'Scopes? 129

Posted by Soulskill
from the regift-them-to-spacex dept.
astroengine writes "NASA has begun surveying scientists on what they would like to do with two Hubble-class space telescopes donated to the civilian space agency by its secretive sibling, the National Reconnaissance Office — which operates the nation's spy satellites. But the gifts have some formidable strings attached, including costs to develop instruments and launch the observatories. The telescopes, though declassified, also are subject to export regulations. 'We need to retain possession and control,' NASA's astrophysics division director Paul Hertz told Discovery News. 'That doesn't preclude us from partnering (with other countries). It just sets boundaries on the nature of the partnership.' NASA also isn't allowed to use the telescopes for any Earth-observing missions. Topping the list of possible missions for the donor hardware is a remake of NASA's planned Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope, known as WFIRST. The mission, estimated to cost between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, is intended to answer questions about dark energy, a relatively recently discovered phenomenon that is believed to be speeding up the universe's rate of expansion."
Biotech

Pioneering Transplant Surgeon Joseph Murray Dead at 93 24

Posted by timothy
from the giver-of-life dept.
alphadogg writes "Dr. Joseph E. Murray, the Nobel laureate who conducted the world's first successful organ transplant, died Monday at the Boston hospital where the pioneering surgery was performed. He was 93. On Dec. 23, 1954, in Operating Room 2 of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Dr. Murray took the healthy kidney of Ronald Herrick and sutured it into the donor's dying identical twin, Richard. With that 5½-hour operation, Dr. Murray and his team saved a life, sparked an ethical debate that still echoes today, and opened medicine to a new frontier. Murray, who focused on plastic and reconstructive surgery for most of his career, was recognized with the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1990."
Earth

Sub-Ice Antarctic Lake Vida Abounds With Life 122

Posted by timothy
from the time-to-make-a-pan-galactic-gargle-blaster dept.
ananyo writes "It is permanently covered by a massive cap of ice up to 27 metres thick, is six times saltier than normal sea water, and at 13 C is one of the coldest aquatic environments on Earth — yet Lake Vida in Antarctica teems with life. Scientists drilling into the lake have found abundant and diverse bacteria, including at least one new phylum (full paper (PDF)). The find increases the chances that life may exist (or have once existed) on planets such as Mars and moons such as Jupiter's Europa."
Space

Hairspray Could Help Us Find Advanced Alien Civilizations 211

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the at-least-the-fashionable-ones dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Charles Q. Choi reports that hairspray could one day serve as the sign that aliens have reshaped distant worlds because one group of gases that might be key to terraforming planets are CFCs. 'Our hypothesis is that evidence of intelligent life might be evident in a planetary atmosphere,' says astrobiologist Mark Claire at the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science. CFCs are entirely artificial, with no known natural process capable of creating them in atmospheres. Detecting signs of these gases on far-off worlds with telescopes might serve as potent evidence that intelligent alien civilizations were the cause, either intentionally as part of terraforming or accidentally via industrial pollution. 'An industrialized civilization will be one that will use its planetary resources for fabrication, the soon-to-be-detectable-from-Earth atmospheric byproducts of which could be a tell-tale sign of their activity,' says astrobiologist Sanjoy Som. CFCs can be easily recognized in planetary atmospheres because their atmospheric 'fingerprint' (i.e. chemical spectra) is very different from natural elements, and are a tell-tale sign that life on the surface has advanced industrial capabilities. Using state-of-the-art computer models of atmospheric chemistry and climate, researchers plan to discover what visible signs CFCs and other artificial byproducts of alien terraforming or industry might have on exoplanet atmospheres. 'We are about a decade away of being able to measure detailed compositions of the atmospheres of extrasolar planets,' says Som."

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

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