Nerval's Lobster writes "Futurist and author Ray Kurzweil predicts the cloud will eventually do more than store our emails or feed us streaming movies on demand: it's going to help expand our brain capacity beyond its current limits. In a question-and-answer session following a speech to the DEMO technology conference in Santa Clara, California last week, Kurzweil described the human brain as impressive but limited in its capacity to hold information. 'By the time we're even 20, we've filled it up,' he said, adding that the only way to add information after that point is to 'repurpose our neocortex to learn something new.' (Computerworld has posted up the full video of the talk.) The solution to overcoming the brain's limitations, he added, involves 'basically expanding our brains into the cloud.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
kenekaplan writes "NASA has used VxWorks for several deep space missions, including Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. When the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) needs to run stress tests or simulations for upgrades and fixes to the OS, Wind River's Mike Deliman gets the call. In a recent interview, Deliman, a senior member of the technical staff at Wind River, which is owned by Intel, gave a peek at the legacy technology under Curiosity's hood and recalled the emergency call he got when an earlier Mars mission hit a software snag after liftoff."
Hugh Pickens writes "The Christian Science Monitor reports that despite an apparent prohibition on faster-than-light travel by Einstein's theory of special relativity, applied mathematician James Hill and his colleague Barry Cox say the theory actually lends itself easily to a description of velocities that exceed the speed of light. 'The actual business of going through the speed of light is not defined,' says Hill whose research has been published in the prestigious Proceedings of the Royal Society A. 'The theory we've come up with is simply for velocities greater than the speed of light.' In effect, the singularity at the speed of light divides the universe into two: a world where everything moves slower than the speed of light, and a world where everything moves faster. The laws of physics in these two realms could turn out to be quite different. In some ways, the hidden world beyond the speed of light looks to be a strange one. Hill and Cox's equations suggest, for example, that as a spaceship traveling at super-light speeds accelerated faster and faster, it would lose more and more mass, until at infinite velocity, its mass became zero. 'We are mathematicians, not physicists, so we've approached this problem from a theoretical mathematical perspective,' says Dr Cox. 'Should it, however, be proven that motion faster than light is possible, then that would be game changing. Our paper doesn't try and explain how this could be achieved, just how equations of motion might operate in such regimes.'"
another random user writes "Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and others tech firms met with regulators and patent officials in Geneva to discuss changes to intellectual property laws. The event follows a flurry of lawsuits involving smartphone makers. It is set to focus on how to ensure license rights to critical technologies are offered on 'reasonable' terms. Companies are split over whether they should be allowed to ban rivals' devices if they do not agree a fee. The talks have been organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN agency responsible for ensuring phone-makers agree standards so that their devices can interact with each other."
another random user writes "A US team aims to build a robot that can work out how to use nearby objects to solve problems or escape threats. The machine has been dubbed a 'MacGyver Bot,' after the TV character who cobbled together devices to escape life-threatening situations. The challenge is to develop software that 'understands' what objects are in order to deduce how they can be used. The US Navy is funding the project and says the machines might ultimately be deployed alongside humans. It is providing $900,000 to robotics researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology to carry out the work."
An anonymous reader writes "Last night, Google held its Pwnium 2 competition at Hack in the Box 2012, offering up a total of $2 million for security holes found in Chrome. Only one was discovered; a young hacker who goes by the alias 'Pinkie Pie' netted the highest reward level: a $60,000 cash prize and a free Chromebook (the second time he pulled it off). Google today patched the flaw and announced a new version of Chrome for Windows, Mac, and Linux."
SchrodingerZ writes "Two Americans have won the 2012 Nobel prize in Chemistry for their work in cell research. Their work involves the discovery and manipulation of the G-protein-coupled receptors, which detect signals outside the of cells they inhabit. 'The human body has about 1,000 kinds of such receptors, which enable it to respond to a wide variety of chemical signals, like adrenaline. Some receptors are in the nose, tongue and eyes, and let us sense smells, tastes and vision.' The winners are Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka. Lefkowitz works at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and is a professor at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. Kobilka is a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine in California. Their research has helped create newer and more effective drugs with fewer side effects. More on G Protein-coupled Receptor research can be found in the Journal of Biological Chemistry."
wiredmikey writes "The U.S. Supreme Court said this week it will let stand an immunity law on wiretapping viewed by government as a useful anti-terror tool but criticized by privacy advocates. The top U.S. court declined to review a December 2011 appeals court decision that rejected a lawsuit against AT&T for helping the NSA monitor its customers' phone calls and Internet traffic. Plaintiffs argue that the law allows the executive branch to conduct 'warrantless and suspicionless domestic surveillance' without fear of review by the courts and at the sole discretion of the attorney general. The Obama administration has argued to keep the immunity law in place, saying it would imperil national security to end such cooperation between the intelligence agencies and telecom companies. The Supreme Court is set to hear a separate case later this month in which civil liberties' group are suing NSA officials for authorizing unconstitutional wiretapping."
itwbennett writes "ICANN wants to store more data (including credit card information) about domain name registrations in its Whois database, wants to hold on to that data for two years after registration ends, and wants to force registrant contact information to be re-verified annually — moves that are applauded by David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. The E.U.'s Article 29 Working Group is markedly less enthusiastic, saying ICANN's plans trample on citizens' right to privacy."
redletterdave writes "After one Taiwanese newspaper snapped and printed a satellite photo of a top-secret military base from the new Maps application running on an iPhone 5, the defense ministry of Taiwan on Tuesday publicly requested Apple blur the sensitive images of the country's classified military installations. The top-secret radar base, located in the northern county of Hsinchu, contains a highly-advanced ultra-high-frequency long-range radar that military officials say can detect missiles launched as far away as the city of Xinjiang, which is located in northwest China. The radar system was obtained via U.S.-based defense group Raytheon in 2003, and is still being constructed with hopes to be completed by the end of this year. 'Regarding images taken by commercial satellites, legally we can do nothing about it,' said David Lo, the spokesman of Taiwan's defense ministry, in a statement to reporters. 'But we'll ask Apple to lower the resolution of satellite images of some confidential military establishments the way we've asked Google in the past.'"
New submitter major_lima sends this excerpt from Ars: "When a typical user downloads Ubuntu for free and installs it on a computer with a Windows license that the user did pay for, Canonical gets nothing in the form of payment. There's nothing wrong with that — this is the open source world, after all, and many people contribute to Ubuntu with code rather than money. But starting this week, Canonical is presenting desktop OS downloaders with an optional donation form. ... 'Pay what you think it's worth,' and 'Show Ubuntu some love' are among the messages users will see, and downloaders can direct their donations to specific parts of Ubuntu development. ... Once you donate, the Ubuntu desktop starts downloading. Or, you can just skip the donation and download the OS for free, just as you always could. For some reason, the donation page is not presented to Ubuntu Server users."
concealment sends this quote from an article at CNN: "Moderating a discussion on the future of broadband, Mashable editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff tossed a provocative question to the audience: 'By quick show of hands, how many out there think that broadband is a luxury?' Next question: 'How many out there think it is a human right?' That option easily carried the audience vote. Broadband access is too important to society to be relegated to a small, privileged portion of the world population, Hans Vestberg, president and CEO of Ericsson, said during the discussion. Dr. Hamadoun Touré, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union, echoed Vestberg's remarks. 'We need to make sure all the world's inhabitants are connected to the goodies of the online world, which means better health care, better education, more sustainable economic and social development,' Touré said."
The Bad Astronomer writes "Using the newly-commissioned ALMA radio observatory, astronomers have taken detailed images of one of the most amazing objects in the sky: the red giant R Sculptoris (abstract). As the star dies, it undergoes gigantic seizures beneath its surface that blast out waves of gas and dust from the surface. These normally expand into a spherical shell, but the presence of a nearby companion star changes things. The combined orbits of the two stars fling out the material like a garden sprinkler, forming enormous and incredibly beautiful spiral arms. Measuring the size and shape of the spiral shows the last eruption was 1800 years ago, lasted for nearly two centuries, and expelled enough material to make a thousand earths."
Hugh Pickens writes "According to Joan Lowy of the Associated Press, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has alerted the auto repair industry that tens of thousands of car owners may be driving vehicles with counterfeit air bags, which fail to inflate properly or don't inflate at all. Although no deaths or injuries have been tied to the counterfeit bags, it's unclear whether police accident investigators would be able to identify a counterfeit bag from a genuine one. The counterfeit bags typically have been made to look like air bags from automakers, and usually include a manufacturer's logo, but government investigators believe many of the bags come from China. Auto dealerships that operate their own body shops are usually required by their franchise agreements to buy their parts, including air bags, directly from automakers and therefore are unlikely to have installed counterfeit bags. But only 37 percent of auto dealers have their own body shops, so many consumers whose vehicles have been damaged are referred by their insurance companies to auto body shops that aren't affiliated with an automaker. Safety officials will warn millions of Americans that the air bags in over 100 vehicle models could be dangerous counterfeits, telling them to have their cars and trucks inspected as soon as possible. Dai Zhensong, a Chinese citizen, had the counterfeit air bags manufactured by purchasing genuine auto air bags that were torn down and used to produce molds to manufacture the counterfeit bags. Trademark emblems were purchased through dealerships located in China and affixed to the counterfeit air bags, which were then advertised on the Guangzhou Auto Parts website and sold for approximately $50 to $70 each, far below the value of an authentic air bag. The NHTSA has made a list of automobiles available that may be at risk for having counterfeit air bags."
another random user writes with this quote from Nature News: "Few researchers have given credence to claims that samples of dinosaur DNA have survived to the present day, but no one knew just how long it would take for genetic material to fall apart. Now, a study of fossils found in New Zealand is laying the matter to rest — and putting paid to hopes of cloning a Tyrannosaurus rex (abstract). After cell death, enzymes start to break down the bonds between the nucleotides that form the backbone of DNA, and micro-organisms speed the decay. In the long run, however, reactions with water are thought to be responsible for most bond degradation. Groundwater is almost ubiquitous, so DNA in buried bone samples should, in theory, degrade at a set rate. Determining that rate has been difficult because it is rare to find large sets of DNA-containing fossils with which to make meaningful comparisons. To make matters worse, variable environmental conditions such as temperature, degree of microbial attack and oxygenation alter the speed of the decay process. By comparing the specimens' ages and degrees of DNA degradation, the researchers calculated that DNA has a half-life of 521 years. That means that after 521 years, half of the bonds between nucleotides in the backbone of a sample would have broken; after another 521 years half of the remaining bonds would have gone; and so on."