Science & Tech News

Islamic State "Laptop of Doom" Hints At Plots Including Bubonic Plague

Slashdot Updates - 48 min 1 sec ago
Foreign Policy has an in-depth look at the contents of a laptop reportedly seized this year in Syria from a stronghold of the organization now known as the Islamic State, and described as belonging to a Tunisian national ("Muhammed S."). The "hidden documents" folder of the machine, says the report, contained a vast number of documents, including ones describing and justifying biological weapons: The laptop's contents turn out to be a treasure trove of documents that provide ideological justifications for jihadi organizations -- and practical training on how to carry out the Islamic State's deadly campaigns. They include videos of Osama bin Laden, manuals on how to make bombs, instructions for stealing cars, and lessons on how to use disguises in order to avoid getting arrested while traveling from one jihadi hot spot to another. ... The information on the laptop makes clear that its owner is a Tunisian national named Muhammed S. who joined ISIS in Syria and who studied chemistry and physics at two universities in Tunisia's northeast. Even more disturbing is how he planned to use that education: The ISIS laptop contains a 19-page document in Arabic on how to develop biological weapons and how to weaponize the bubonic plague from infected animals. ... "The advantage of biological weapons is that they do not cost a lot of money, while the human casualties can be huge," the document states.

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Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

Slashdot Updates - 1 hour 29 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: It's the year 2014, and I still have a floppy drive installed on my computer. I don't know why; I don't own any floppy disks, and I haven't used one in probably a decade. But every time I put together a PC, it feels incomplete if I don't have one. I also have a Laserdisc player collecting dust at the bottom of my entertainment center, and I still use IRC to talk to a few friends. Software, hardware, or otherwise, what technology have you had a hard time letting go? (I don't want to put a hard limit on age, so you folks using flip-phones or playing on Dreamcasts or still inexplicably coding in Perl 4, feel free to contribute.)

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Study: Social Networks Have Negative Effect On Individual Welfare

Slashdot Updates - 2 hours 23 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: A study of 50,000 people in Italy has found the impact of social networking on individual welfare to be "significantly negative." The researchers found that improvements in self-reported well-being occurred when online networking led to face-to-face interactions, but this effect was overwhelmed by the perceived losses in well-being (PDF) generated by interaction strictly through social networks. The researchers "highlight the role of discrimination and hate speech on social media which they say play a significant role in trust and well-being. Better moderation could significantly improve the well-being of the people who use social networks, they conclude."

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Particle Physics To Aid Nuclear Cleanup

Slashdot Updates - 3 hours 8 min ago
mdsolar sends this report from Symmetry Magazine: Cosmic rays can help scientists do something no one else can: safely image the interior of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. ... [M]uon tomography is similar to taking an X-ray, only it uses naturally produced muons. These particles don't damage the imaged materials and, because they already stream through everything on Earth, they can be used to image even the most sensitive objects. Better yet, a huge amount of shielding is needed to stop muons from passing through an object, making it nearly impossible to hide from muon tomography. ... By determining how muons scatter as they interact with electrons and nuclei within the item, the team's software creates a three-dimensional picture of what's inside. ... To prove the technology, the Los Alamos team shipped a demo detector system to a small, working nuclear reactor in a Toshiba facility in Kawasaki, Japan. There, they placed one detector on either side of the reactor core. "When we analyzed our data we discovered that in addition to the fuel in the reactor core, they had put a few fuel bundles off to the side that we didn't know about," says Morris. "They were really impressed that not only could we image the core, but that we also found those bundles."

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Mozilla To Support Public Key Pinning In Firefox 32

Slashdot Updates - 3 hours 48 min ago
Trailrunner7 writes: Mozilla is planning to add support for public-key pinning in its Firefox browser in an upcoming version. In version 32, which would be the next stable version of the browser, Firefox will have key pins for a long list of sites, including many of Mozilla's own sites, all of the sites pinned in Google Chrome and several Twitter sites. Public-key pinning has emerged as an important defense against a variety of attacks, especially man-in-the-middle attacks and the issuance of fraudulent certificates. The function essentially ties a public key, or set of keys, issued by known-good certificate authorities to a given domain. So if a user's browser encounters a site that's presenting a certificate that isn't included in the set of pinned public keys for that domain, it will then reject the connection. The idea is to prevent attackers from using fake certificates in order to intercept secure traffic between a user and the target site.

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This 'SimCity 4' Region With 107 Million People Took Eight Months of Planning

Slashdot Updates - 4 hours 31 min ago
Jason Koebler writes: Peter Richie spent eight months planning and building a megacity in vanilla SimCity 4, and the end result is mind-boggling: 107.7 million people living in one massive, sprawling region (video). "Traffic is a nightmare, both above ground and under," Richie said. "The massive amount of subway lines and subway stations are still congested during all times of the day in all neighborhoods of each and every mega-city in the region. The roadways are clogged at all times, but people still persist in trying to use them."

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Robot Printer Brings Documents To Your Desk

Slashdot Updates - 5 hours 12 min ago
mrspoonsi sends this news from the BBC: Fuji Xerox has developed a new robotic printer that can move around a lounge or office to bring documents to the person who printed them. The printer is designed to be used primarily in public places as a way to keep sensitive documents secure. Sensors on the machine prevent it from bumping into people on the way. However, some analysts argued that the idea was not cost effective when compared with other secure printing methods. Fuji Xerox — a joint venture between the two firms — has been testing the printer this month at a business lounge in Tokyo. Each desk in the lounge is given a unique web address from which to print. Users access the address and upload documents to be printed. Once the printer receives the job, it moves to the intended recipient who then has to display a smart card to activate printing.

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Intel's Haswell-E Desktop CPU Debuts With Eight Cores, DDR4 Memory

Slashdot Updates - 5 hours 58 min ago
crookedvulture writes: Intel has updated its high-end desktop platform with a new CPU-and-chipset combo. The Haswell-E processor has up to eight cores, 20MB of cache, and 40 lanes of PCI Express 3.0. It also sports a quad-channel memory controller primed for next-gen DDR4 modules. The companion X99 chipset adds a boatload of I/O, including 10 SATA ports, native USB 3.0 support, and provisions for M.2 and SATA Express storage devices. Thanks to the extra CPU cores, performance is much improved in multithreaded applications. Legacy comparisons, which include dozens of CPUs dating back to 2011, provide some interesting context for just how fast the new Core i7-5960X really is. Intel had to dial back the chip's clock speeds to accommodate the extra cores, though, and that concession can translate to slower gaming performance than Haswell CPUs with fewer, faster cores. Haswell-E looks like a clear win for applications that can exploit its prodigious CPU horsepower and I/O bandwidth, but it's clearly not the best CPU for everything. Reviews also available from Hot Hardware, PC Perspective, AnandTech, Tom's Hardware, and HardOCP.

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Intel's Haswell-E Desktop CPU Debuts With Eight Cores, DDR4 Memory

Slashdot Updates - 5 hours 58 min ago
crookedvulture writes: Intel has updated its high-end desktop platform with a new CPU-and-chipset combo. The Haswell-E processor has up to eight cores, 20MB of cache, and 40 lanes of PCI Express 3.0. It also sports a quad-channel memory controller primed for next-gen DDR4 modules. The companion X99 chipset adds a boatload of I/O, including 10 SATA ports, native USB 3.0 support, and provisions for M.2 and SATA Express storage devices. Thanks to the extra CPU cores, performance is much improved in multithreaded applications. Legacy comparisons, which include dozens of CPUs dating back to 2011, provide some interesting context for just how fast the new Core i7-5960X really is. Intel had to dial back the chip's clock speeds to accommodate the extra cores, though, and that concession can translate to slower gaming performance than Haswell CPUs with fewer, faster cores. Haswell-E looks like a clear win for applications that can exploit its prodigious CPU horsepower and I/O bandwidth, but it's clearly not the best CPU for everything. Reviews also available from Hot Hardware, PC Perspective, AnandTech, Tom's Hardware, and HardOCP.

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IEEE Guides Software Architects Toward Secure Design

Slashdot Updates - 6 hours 46 min ago
msm1267 writes: The IEEE's Center for Secure Design debuted its first report this week, a guidance for software architects called "Avoiding the Top 10 Software Security Design Flaws." Developing guidance for architects rather than developers was a conscious effort the group made in order to steer the conversation around software security away from exclusively talking about finding bugs toward design-level failures that lead to exploitable security vulnerabilities. The document spells out the 10 common design flaws in a straightforward manner, each with a lengthy explainer of inherent weaknesses in each area and how software designers and architects should take these potential pitfalls into consideration.

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Use of 'language of deceit' betrays scientific fraud

New Scientist - Breaking news - 7 hours 28 min ago
Distinguishing scientific papers known to be fraudulent from those that contain genuine results can be done simply by comparing the writing styles






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Japanese Publishers Lash Out At Amazon's Policies

Slashdot Updates - 7 hours 30 min ago
Nate the greatest writes: Amazon is in a bitter contract fight with Hachette in the U.S. and Bonnier in Germany, and now it seems the retail giant is also in conflict with publishers in Japan. Amazon has launched a new rating system in Japan which gives preference to publishers with larger ebook catalogs (and publishers that pay higher fees), leading to complaints that Amazon is using its market power to blackmail publishers. Where have we heard that complaint before? The retailer is also being boycotted by a handful of Japanese publishers who disagree with Amazon offering a rewards program to students. The retailer gives students 10% of a book's price as points, which can be used to buy more books. This skirts Japanese fixed-price book laws, so several smaller publishers pulled their books from Amazon in protest. Businesses are out to make money and not friends, but Amazon sure is a lightning rod for conflicts, isn't it?

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New push for better handling of football head injuries

New Scientist - Breaking news - 7 hours 49 min ago
We know little about the consequences of concussion and even heading the ball in soccer, but the sport's authorities are now taking the issue seriously






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Today on New Scientist

New Scientist - Breaking news - 8 hours 3 min ago
All the latest on newscientist.com: vitamins and minerals to take – and forget, cops with cameras, Nairobi's secret networks, beautiful cracks and more






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Astronomers Find What May Be the Closest Exoplanet So Far

Slashdot Updates - 8 hours 16 min ago
The Bad Astronomer writes: Astronomers have found a 5.4 Earth-mass planet orbiting the star Gliese 15A, a red dwarf in a binary system just 11.7 light years away (PDF). Other exoplanets candidates have been found that are closer, but they are as yet unconfirmed. This is more evidence that alien planets are common in the galaxy.

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Soviet dog spacesuit for pooches with the right stuff

New Scientist - Breaking news - 8 hours 20 min ago
Your canine companion can strut its stuff in this authentic Soviet spacesuit, worn by genuine doggy heroes of the space race Belka and Strelka






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Painful memories eased by inhaling xenon gas

New Scientist - Breaking news - 8 hours 27 min ago
The odourless, colourless and mostly inert gas xenon has been used to ease painful memories in mice. It could help us to forget our own past traumas






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How Big Telecom Smothers Municipal Broadband

Slashdot Updates - 8 hours 58 min ago
Rick Zeman writes: The Center for Public Integrity has a comprehensive article showing how Big Telecom (aka, AT&T, Comcast, Charter, Time Warner) use lobbyists, paid-for politicians, and lawsuits (both actual and the threat thereof) in their efforts to kill municipal broadband. From the article: "The companies have also used traditional campaign tactics such as newspaper ads, push polls, direct mail and door-to-door canvassing to block municipal networks. And they've tried to undermine the appetite for municipal broadband by paying for research from think tanks and front groups to portray the networks as unreliable and costly."

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Earth's tectonic plates have doubled their speed

New Scientist - Breaking news - 9 hours 33 min ago
The latest study suggests Earth's plates today move twice as fast as they did 2 billion years ago – maybe because the mantle has got more runny






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Magnetic Stimulation Boosts Memory In Humans

Slashdot Updates - 9 hours 41 min ago
sciencehabit writes: Our memories are annoyingly glitchy. Names, dates, birthdays, and the locations of car keys fall through the cracks, losses that accelerate at an alarming pace with age and in neurodegenerative diseases. Now, by applying electromagnetic pulses through the skull to carefully targeted brain regions, researchers have found a way to boost memory performance in healthy people. The new study (abstract) sheds light on the neural networks that support memories and may lead to therapies for people with memory deficits, researchers say. Similar studies have been performed using electric current.

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