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The Internet

Researchers Map Locations of 4,669 Servers In Netflix's Content Delivery Network (ieee.org) 10

Wave723 writes from a report via IEEE Spectrum: For the first time, a team of researchers has mapped the entire content delivery network that brings Netflix to the world, including the number and location of every server that the company uses to distribute its films. They also independently analyzed traffic volumes handled by each of those servers. Their work allows experts to compare Netflix's distribution approach to those of other content-rich companies such as Google, Akamai and Limelight. To do this, IEEE Spectrum reports that the group reverse-engineered Netflix's domain name system for the company's servers, and then created a crawler that used publicly available information to find every possible server name within its network through the common address nflxvideo.net. In doing so, they were able to determine the total number of servers the company uses, where those servers are located, and whether the servers were housed within internet exchange points or with internet service providers, revealing stark differences in Netflix's strategy between countries. One of their most interesting findings was that two Netflix servers appear to be deployed within Verizon's U.S. network, which one researcher speculates could indicate that the companies are pursuing an early pilot or trial.
Communications

Study: 33% of Facebook Users Want Less News In Their Feed (businessinsider.com) 75

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Business Insider: According to a survey of 526 random Facebook users conducted by Spot.IM, 33% of Facebook users in the U.S. want to see fewer news articles in their feeds. The survey comes at a time when Facebook is desperately trying to improve the quality of publisher articles that gain traction on its platform. Here are some important takeaways from the study: Older people are likelier to want less news in their Facebook feeds. While 33% of all respondents indicated there was too much news and shared links in their Facebook feeds, the majority of this group was individuals aged 30 or older. Those 30-44 (37%), 45-59 (36%), and 60+ (36%) said they want less news in their feeds. Young Facebook users enjoy consuming news on social media. While middle-aged and older Facebook users don't like seeing news in their feeds, those aged 18-29 were much more interested and excited to see even more news articles on Facebook. 32% of respondents in this group wanted to see more news, while just 21% wanted less. This is an encouraging sign for publishers who want to reach a new generation of news consumers. The majority of people don't care about how much news they see on Facebook. Overall, 51% of all surveyed said they simply don't care if more or less news shows up in their Facebook feeds. A study conducted in June by Columbia University says that 59% of people don't even read the articles they share.
Space

Hunt For Ninth Planet Reveals Distant Solar System Objects (carnegiescience.edu) 134

schwit1 writes: Astronomers have discovered several new objects orbiting the Sun at extremely great distances beyond the orbit of Neptune. The most interesting new discovery is 2014 FE72: "2014 FE72 is the first distant Oort Cloud object found with an orbit entirely beyond Neptune," reports Carnegie Institution for Science. "It has an orbit that takes the object so far away from the Sun (some 3000 times farther than Earth) that it is likely being influenced by forces of gravity from beyond our Solar System such as other stars and the galactic tide. It is the first object observed at such a large distance." This research is being done as part of an effort to discover a very large planet, possibly as much as 15 times the mass of Earth, that the scientists have proposed that exists out there.
Space

SETI Has Observed a 'Strong' Signal That May Originate From a Sun-like Star (arstechnica.com) 258

An anonymous reader writes: The RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya, Russia has detected a strong signal around 11 GHz (which is very unlikely to be naturally-caused) coming from HD164595, a star nearly identical in mass to the Sun and located about 95 light years from Earth. The system is known to have at least one planet. If the signal were isotropic, it would seem to indicate a Kardashev Type II civilization. While it is too early to draw any conclusions, the discovery will be discussed at an upcoming SETI committee meeting on September 27th. According to Paul Gilster, author of the Centauri Dreams website, "No one is claiming that this is the work of an extraterrestrial civilization, but it is certainly worth further study. Working out the strength of the signal, the researchers say that if it came from an isotropic beacon, it would be of a power possible only for a Kardashev Type II civilization. If it were a narrow beam signal focused on our Solar System, it would be of a power available to a Kardashev Type I civilization. The possibility of noise of one form or another cannot be ruled out, and researchers in Paris led by Jean Schneider are considering the possible microlensing of a background source by HD164595. But the signal is provocative enough that the RATAN-600 researchers are calling for permanent monitoring of this target."
Earth

Early Human Ancestor Lucy 'Died Falling Out of a Tree' (bbc.com) 113

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: New evidence suggests that the famous fossilized human ancestor dubbed "Lucy" by scientists died falling from a great height -- probably out of a tree. CT scans have shown injuries to her bones similar to those suffered by modern humans in similar falls. The 3.2 million-year-old hominin was found on a treed flood plain, making a branch her most likely final perch. It bolsters the view that her species -- Australopithecus afarensis -- spent at least some of its life in the trees. Writing in the journal Nature, researchers from the U.S. and Ethiopia describe a "vertical deceleration event" which they argue caused Lucy's death. In particular they point to a crushed shoulder joint, of the sort seen when we humans reach out our arms to break a fall, as well as fractures of the ankle, leg bones, pelvis, ribs, vertebrae, arm, jaw and skull. Discovered in Ethiopia's Afar region in 1974, Lucy's 40%-complete skeleton is one of the world's best known fossils. She was around 1.1m (3ft 7in) tall and is thought to have been a young adult when she died. Her species, Australopithecus afarensis, shows signs of having walked upright on the ground and had lost her ancestors' ape-like, grasping feet -- but also had an upper body well-suited to climbing. The bones of this well-studied skeleton are in fact laced with fractures, like most fossils. By peering inside the bones in minute detail, the scanner showed that several of the fractures were "greenstick" breaks. The bone had bent and snapped like a twig: something that only happens to healthy, living bones. "The Ethiopian ministry has agreed to release 3D files of Lucy's right shoulder and her left knee. So anyone with an interest in this can print Lucy out and evaluate these fractures, and our hypothesis, for themsleves." You can find the files here.
Software

Tesla To Further Restrict Its Autopilot Software To Prevent Accidents (electrek.co) 140

Tesla is planning to further restrict its Autopilot mode via a v8.0 software update that will make it much harder for drivers to ignore safety alerts. Tesla's Autopilot currently issues alerts on the dashboard "reading Hold Steering Wheel and the driver has to apply pressure on the wheel to make it go away," reports Electrek. "If you quickly respond to those alerts, the Autopilot's Autosteer and Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC) do not disengage." The system will disengage if you ignore those warnings for too long. Electrek reports: "Now we learn that Tesla is about to introduce a new restriction with the upcoming v8.0 software update to give more weight to the alerts. According to sources familiar with the Autopilot program, Tesla will add a safety restriction that will result in not only the Autopilot disengaging after alerts are repeatedly ignored, but also blocking the driver from re-engaging the feature after it was automatically disengaged. The driver will not be able to reactivate the Autopilot until the car is stopped and put in 'Park.' So far, it looks like it would only affect the Autosteer feature of the Autopilot and TACC would still be available for the duration of the drive. The goal of the new restriction appears to be to encourage Tesla owners to respond to the visual alert and not to ignore them."
Space

ISRO Successfully Test-fires Scramjet Rocket Engine (thehindu.com) 49

An anonymous reader writes: Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), on Sunday, successfully tested two indigenous scramjet engines. India has become the fourth country to demonstrate the flight testing of scramjet engine after the US, Russia and European Space Agency.
According to a report, the scramjet will bring down the launch cost of weather satellite INSAT-3DR which is a weather forecast system designed for enhanced meteorological observations and disaster warning. The satellite scheduled to be launched in August earlier, but it has been postponed to September.

NASA

Isolated NASA Team Ends Year-Long Mars Simulation In Hawaii (bbc.com) 175

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the BBC: A team of six people have completed a Mars simulation in Hawaii, where they lived in near isolation for a year. Since August 29th, 2015, the group lived in close quarters in a dome, without fresh air, fresh food or privacy... Having survived their year in isolation, the crew members said they were confident a mission to Mars could succeed. "I can give you my personal impression which is that a mission to Mars in the close future is realistic," Cyprien Verseux, a crew member from France, told journalists. "I think the technological and psychological obstacles can be overcome."

The team consisted of a French astro-biologist, a German physicist and four Americans -- a pilot, an architect, a journalist and a soil scientist... the six had to live with limited resources, wear a space-suit when outside the dome, and work to avoid personal conflicts. They each had a small sleeping cot and a desk inside their rooms. Provisions included powdered cheese and canned tuna.

Robotics

Recent College Grads Aim To Land A Robot On The Moon (thehindu.com) 59

Sunday the Indian Space Research Organization successfully test-launched a scramjet rocket, propelled by "an air-breathing propulsion system which uses hydrogen as fuel and oxygen from the atmosphere air as the oxidizer" rather than carrying a tank of liquid oxygen. "if the need for liquid oxygen is taken away, the space craft can be much lighter, hence cheaper to launch," notes one newspaper, adding that India is only the fourth country to flight-test a scramjet engine after the U.S., Russia and the European Space Agency.

But in addition, 15 former ISRO scientists are now helping Team Indus, one of the 16 teams remaining in Google's $30 million Lunar XPRIZE competition, who will use ISRO's polar satellite launch vehicle to send their spacecraft to the moon. GillBates0 writes: An official designated as "Skywalker", said that such space missions used to be limited to extremely elite people and PhDs in the past. That stereotype is now breaking. "I was just a college student a couple of years ago and now I am working on an actual space mission, how cool is that," said Karan Vaish, 23, who is helping the team to design the lunar rover. Eighty per cent of the team is reported to be less than five years out of college.
Biotech

'Longest Living Human' Says He Is Ready For Death At 145 (telegraph.co.uk) 307

Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes an article from The Telegraph: An Indonesian man who claims to be the longest living human in recorded history has described how he "just wants to die". Mbah Gotho, from Sragen in central Java, was born on December 31, 1870, according to the date of birth on his identity card. Now officials at the local record office say they have finally been able to confirm that remarkable date as genuine. If independently confirmed, the findings would make Mr Gotho a staggering 145 years old -- and the longest lived human in recorded history.
"One of Mr Gotho's grandsons said his grandfather has been preparing for his death ever since he was 122," according to the article. Though he lived long enough to meet his great-great grandchildren, he's already outlived four wives, all 10 of his brothers and sisters, and all of his children.
Democrats

US Patients Battle EpiPen Prices And Regulations By Shopping Online (cnn.com) 391

"The incredible increase in the cost of EpiPens, auto-injectors that can stop life-threatening emergencies caused by allergic reactions, has hit home on Capitol Hill," reports CNN. Slashdot reader Applehu Akbar reports that the argument "has now turned into civil war in the US Senate": One senator's daughter relies on Epi-Pen, while another senator's daughter is CEO of Mylan, the single company that is licensed to sell these injectors in the US. On the worldwide market there is no monopoly on these devices... Is it finally time to allow Americans to go online and fill their prescriptions on the world market?
Time reports some patients are ordering cheaper EpiPens from Canada and other countries online, "an act that the FDA says is technically illegal and potentially dangerous." But the FDA also has "a backlog of about 4,000 generic drugs" awaiting FDA approval, reports PRI, noting that in the meantime prices have also increased for drugs treating cancer, hepatitis C, and high cholesterol. In Australia, where the drug costs just $38, one news outlet reports that the U.S. "is the only developed nation on Earth which allows pharmaceutical companies to set their own prices."
United States

HAARP Holds Open House To Dispel Rumors Of Mind Control (adn.com) 147

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: HAARP -- the former Air Force/Navy/DARPA research program in Alaska -- will host an open house Saturday where "We hope to show people that it is not capable of mind control and not capable of weather control and all the other things it's been accused of..." said Sue Mitchell, spokesperson for the geophysical institute at the University of Alaska. "We hope that people will be able to see the actual science of it." HAARP, which was turned over to The University of Alaska last August, has been blamed for poor crop yields in Russia, with conspiracy theorists also warning of "a super weapon capable of mind control or weather control, with enough juice to trigger hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes."

The facility's 180 high-frequency antennas -- spread across 33 acres -- will be made available for public tours, and there will also be interactive displays and an unmanned aircraft 'petting zoo'. The Alaska Dispatch News describes it as "one of the world's few centers for high-power and high-frequency study of the ionosphere... important because radio waves used for communication and navigation reflect back to Earth, allowing long-distance, short-wave broadcasting."

Earth

Floating Solar Device Boils Water Without Mirrors (arstechnica.com) 80

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Researchers from MIT and the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, led by George Ni, describe a prototype design that boils water under ambient sunlight. Central to their floating solar device is a "selective absorber" -- a material that both absorbs the solar portion of the electromagnetic spectrum well and emits little back as infrared heat energy. For this, the researchers turn to a blue-black commercial coating commonly used in solar photovoltaic panels. The rest of the puzzle involves further minimizing heat loss from that absorber, either through convection of the air above it or conduction of heat into the water below the floating prototype. The construction of the device is surprisingly simple. At the bottom, there is a thick, 10-centimeter-diameter puck of polystyrene foam. That insulates the heating action from the water and makes the whole thing float. A cotton wick occupies a hole drilled through the foam, which is splayed and pinned down by a square of thin fabric on the top side. This ensures that the collected solar heat is being focused into a minute volume of water. The selective absorber coats a disc of copper that sits on top of the fabric. Slots cut in the copper allow water vapor from the wick to pass through. And the crowning piece of this technological achievement? Bubble wrap. It insulates the top side of the absorber, with slots cut through the plastic to let the water vapor out. Tests in the lab and on the MIT roof showed that, under ambient sunlight, the absorber warmed up to 100 degrees Celsius in about five minutes and started making steam. That's a first. The study has been published in two separate Nature articles: "Steam by thermal concentration" and "Steam generation under one sun enabled by a floating structure with thermal concentration."
Communications

Juno Probe To Get First Up-Close Look At Jupiter On Saturday (space.com) 32

NASA's Juno spacecraft will get its first up-close view at Jupiter this Saturday. Space.com reports: "At 8:51 a.m. EDT (1251 GMT) on Saturday (Aug. 27), Juno will zoom within 2,600 miles (4,000 kilometers) of Jupiter's cloud tops -- closer than the probe is scheduled to come during its entire mission, NASA officials said. And Juno will have all of its science instruments during Saturday's flyby. This was not the case during the spacecraft's only previous close approach to Jupiter, which occurred July 4 when Juno arrived in orbit around the giant planet. During Saturday's close pass, all eight of Juno's science instruments will be collecting data, and the probe's visible-light imager, known as JunoCam, will take close-up photos." You can also look forward to Venus-Jupiter Conjunction 2016, an event happening on August 27 where Venus and Jupiter's respective orbits will bring the two planets the closest that they'll be to each other until 2065. The two planets will be positioned roughly five degrees above the Western horizon on August 27.
Power

Dyson Will Spend $1.4 Billion, Enlist 3,000 Engineers To Build a Better Battery (digitaltrends.com) 242

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: Among the 100 new products the company founder James Dyson wants to invent by 2020, the greatest investment in people and money is to improve rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, as reported by Forbes (Warning: paywalled). And Dyson is not planning incremental improvements. His opinion is that current Li-ion batteries don't last long enough and aren't safe enough -- the latter as evidenced by their propensity to spontaneously catch on fire, which is rare but does happen. Dyson believes the answer lies in using ceramics to create solid-state lithium-ion batteries. Dyson says he intended to spend $1.4 billion in research and development and in building a battery factory over the next five years. Last year Dyson bought Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Sakti3, which focuses on creating advanced solid-state batteries, for $90 million. The global lithium-ion battery market accounts for $40 billion in annual sales, according to research firm Lux as cited by Forbes. Dyson's company (which is an accurate description since he has 100-percent ownership) currently employs 3,000 engineers worldwide. He intends to hire another 3,000 by 2020. Their average age is 26. Dyson values young engineers, saying, "The enthusiasm and lack of fear is important. Not taking notice of experts and plowing on because you believe in something is important. It's much easier to do when you're young."

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