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[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 04:40:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Robot Makes Scientific Discovery (Mostly) On Its Own

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Hugh Pickens writes "A science-savvy robot called Adam has successfully developed and tested its first scientific hypothesis, discovering that certain genes in baker's yeast code for specific enzymes which encourage biochemical reactions in yeast, then ran an experiment with its lab hardware to test its predictions, and analyzed the results, all without human intervention. Adam was equipped with a database on genes that are known to be present in bacteria, mice and people, so it knew roughly where it should search in the genetic material for the lysine gene in baker's yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Ross King, a computer scientist and biologist at Aberystwyth University, first created a computer that could generate hypotheses and perform experiments five years ago. 'This is one of the first systems to get [artificial intelligence] to try and control laboratory automation,' King says. '[Current robots] tend to do one thing or a sequence of things. The complexity of Adam is that it has cycles.' Adam has cost roughly $1 million to develop and the software that drives Adam's thought process sits on three computers, allowing Adam to investigate a thousand experiments a day and still keep track of all the results better than humans can. King's group has also created another robot scientist called Eve dedicated to screening chemical compounds for new pharmaceutical drugs that could combat diseases such as malaria.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/Vfg0tNypEEA/article.pl

[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 07:36:00 EDT from rss

Subject: After Sweden's New Law, a Major Drop In Internet Traffic

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iamnot writes "The new IPRED law came into effect in a big way in Sweden on April 1st. A news report has come out showing that internet traffic dropped by 30% from March 31st to April 1st. A lawyer from the Swedish anti-piracy agency was quoted as saying that the drop in traffic 'sends a very strong signal that the legislation works.' Is the new law, which allows for copyright holders to request the identification of people sharing files, truly curing people of their evil ways? Or perhaps it is just taking some time for Swedish downloaders to figure out the new IPREDator VPN system from The Pirate Bay."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/fFYfqrlvpLo/article.pl

[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 10:27:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Gmail Marks Five Years In Beta

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TrekkieTechie writes "Though in fact the big day was April 1st, Google celebrated the five-year anniversary of the popular online email service Gmail with a post on the service's blog, saying 'we want to give a big thank you to all of you who use Gmail every day, to those who've been around since the beginning, to those who were using an AJAX app before the term AJAX was popular, to those who started chatting right in your email ... we couldn't have gotten here without you.' The milestone has also prompted speculation about when, if ever, Gmail will lose its beta status, and Ars Technica recently sat down with Todd Jackson, Gmail's Project Manager, to discuss the reasoning behind that nagging beta label."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/ImpkArINcrI/article.pl

[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 21:44:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Bionic Eye Telescope To Treat Macular Degeneration

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Al writes "A miniature telescope that fits inside the eye of someone with macular degeneration and helps them regain normal vision has been developed by a start-up company called VisionCare Ophthalmic Technologies. Macular degeneration affects the center of the retina, making it difficult to read, watch television and recognize faces. The new device, which is about the size of a pencil eraser, works like a fixed telephoto lens within the eye, projecting a magnified image of whatever the wearer is looking at onto a large part of the peripheral retina. Magnifying the image on the eye allows the retinal cells outside the macula enables a patient to recognize details using their peripheral vision. Clinical trials suggest that the device could improve vision by about three and a half lines on an eye chart. Last week, an advisory panel for the Food and Drug Administration unanimously recommended that the agency approve the implant."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/CGtKstVXGsI/article.pl

[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 21:01:00 EDT from rss

Subject: First Look At Fedora 11 Beta Release

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Ars Technica has a first look at the latest beta release from the Fedora universe and it has several new shiny-bits including kernel modesetting, ext4, and faster boot times. "Fedora 11, which is codenamed Leonidas, is scheduled for final release at the end of May. It will include several new features and noteworthy improvements, such as RPM 4.7, which will reduce the memory consumption of complex package activity, tighter integration of PackageKit, faster boot time with a target goal of 20 seconds, and reduced power consumption thanks to a major tuning effort. This version of Fedora will ship with the latest version of many popular open source software programs, including GNOME 2.26, KDE 4.2, and Xfce 4.6. This will also be the first Fedora release--and possibly the first mainstream distro release--to use the new Ext4 filesystem by default.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/u3qqjqHxvS8/article.pl

[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 20:13:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Offshore Windpower To Potentially Exceed US Demand

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SpuriousLogic writes to mention that a new Interior Department report suggests that wind turbines off US coastlines could supply enough electricity to meet, or exceed, the nation's current demand. While a good portion of this is easily accessible through shallow water sites, the majority of strong wind resources appear to be in deep water which represents a significant technological hurdle. "Salazar told attendees at the 25x'25 Summit in Virginia, a gathering of agriculture and energy representatives exploring ways to cut carbon dioxide emissions, that "we are only beginning to tap the potential" of offshore renewable energy. The report is a step in the Obama administration's mission to chart a course for offshore energy development, an issue that gained urgency last year amid high oil prices and chants of 'Drill, baby, drill' at the Republican National Convention."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/50kX3NPVcmw/article.pl

[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 19:30:00 EDT from rss

Subject: 100 Hours of Astronomy Webcast Underway

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An anonymous reader writes "As part of the International Year of Astronomy, the live video webcast Around the World in 80 Telescopes is taking place now, with fascinating live linkups with the world's leading observatories. The schedule for the webcast is available as a PDF and the recorded videos are available via the 100 hours of astronomy page"

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http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/B08Y-QFRcss/article.pl

[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 18:47:00 EDT from rss

Subject: New CyberSecurity Bill Raises Privacy Questions

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Nicolas Dawson points out coverage in Mother Jones of the early stages of a new cybersecurity bill that conveys sweeping powers on the President. Quoting: "The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 (PDF) gives the president the ability to 'declare a cybersecurity emergency' and shut down or limit Internet traffic in any 'critical' information network 'in the interest of national security.' The bill does not define a critical information network or a cybersecurity emergency. That definition would be left to the president. The bill... also grants the Secretary of Commerce 'access to all relevant data concerning [critical] networks without regard to any provision of law, regulation, rule, or policy restricting such access.' This means he or she can monitor or access any data on private or public networks without regard to privacy laws."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/1y-tDDJ-qzw/article.pl

[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 18:04:00 EDT from rss

Subject: EVO Linux Gaming Console Opens Pre-Orders

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Engadget is reporting that Envizions, maker of the EVO Linux game console, has finally announced final specs and opened the doors to pre-orders. All bets are off till users actually see the hardware, but it would be nice to see a new player in the market. Of course this assumes they put some time into a little polish that is usually expected from the gaming community (that website, yikes) and some effort into a killer game library. "Envizions say that the console will run a modified, quick-boot distro of Fedora called Mirrors (which can be upgraded to a beefier build named Mirrors Evolution X), and will feature a "cloud" service stacked with Amiga (!) games and an Akimbo-based video service. Beyond that, proper titles will be sold online and on SD cards for around $20." I'm sure they wont forget to send Slashdot a beta review copy with a couple of games.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/rReO9KUqe6I/article.pl

[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 17:23:00 EDT from rss

Subject: VLC 0.9.9, The Best Media Player Just Got Better

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Matt Asay points out a recent update to VLC as they narrow in on a 1.0 release. Already a favorite of many, the open source project has made great strides in recent history towards really solidifying the position as best-in-class. This update, 0.9.9, fixes several display bugs and sees some definite performance improvements. "If you've yet to try VLC, do so. Whether you just want to play media files or also want to convert them, VLC can handle just about anything you throw at it. When all other media players fail, whether on Windows, Linux, or the Mac, VLC will almost always deliver. You can download VLC media player 0.9.9 here. It's open source, but that's not why you'll want to keep using it. You'll use it because it's better than its proprietary peers--by a long stretch.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/IHdlZmlr14s/article.pl

[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 16:40:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Baby Chicks Have Innate Mathematical Skills

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Hugh Pickens writes "Chicks can add and subtract small numbers shortly after hatching, says Rosa Rugani at the University of Trento. Rugani reared chicks with five plastic containers of the kind found inside Kinder chocolate eggs. This meant the chicks bonded with the capsules, much as they do with their mother, making them want to be near the containers as they grew up. In one test, the researchers moved the containers back and forth behind two screens while the chicks watched. When the chicks were released into the enclosure, they headed for the screen obscuring the most containers, suggesting they had been able to keep track of the number of capsules behind each by adding and subtracting them as they moved. It is already known that many non-human primates and monkeys can count, and even domestic dogs have been found to be capable of simple additions but this is the first time the ability has been seen in such young animals, and with no prior training in problem solving of any kind."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/h7wB30jO11w/article.pl

[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 16:01:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Trick Used To Pass French "Three Strikes"

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Glyn Moody writes "France's 'Loi Hadopi' — better known as 'three strikes and you're out' — was passed by the National Assembly late last night when only 16 deputies were present (the vote was 12 in favor, 4 against). Most politicians had left because it was expected that the vote would take place next week. In this way, President Sarkozy has sneaked his controversial legislation through the French parliament — and shown his contempt for the democratic process. So now what?"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/-IbMoHtUo1Q/article.pl

[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 15:19:00 EDT from rss

Subject: New Entrant In the Race For Wafer-Thin Speakers

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Smivs notes another technology aiming to become the ubiquitous flat, flexible loudspeaker in public and private spaces. This one comes out of the University of Warwick, in the UK, and may reach the market before year's end. We've discussed other attempts on this problem over the years, including a touch-sensitive display that is also a speaker, and an approach based on nanotubes. "The arrangement also allows for highly directional and accurate sound, say the researchers. The speakers would be ideal in public places such as passenger terminals since the sound quality does not deteriorate as much as conventional speakers... The flat speakers are relatively inexpensive to manufacture, say the researchers, and can be printed with design or concealed inside ceilings."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/qI97oOS06ZY/article.pl

[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 14:37:00 EDT from rss

Subject: IBM About To Buy Sun For $7 Billion

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plasticsquirrel was one of several readers to send in the sharpening rumors that IBM is on the verge of acquiring Sun Microsystems, as we discussed last week. The pricetag is reportedly $7 billion. According to the NYTimes's sources, "People familiar with the negotiations say a final agreement could be announced Friday, although it is more likely to be made public next week. IBM's board has already approved the deal, they said." After the demise of SGI, one has to wonder about the future of traditional Unix. If the deal goes through, only IBM, HP, and Fujitsu will be left as major competitors in the market for commercial Unix. And reader UnanimousCoward adds, "Sun only came into the consciousness of the unwashed masses with the company not being able to get E10K's out the door fast enough in the first bubble. We here will remember some pizza-box looking thing, establishing 32 MB of RAM as a standard, and when those masses were scratching their heads at slogans like 'The Network is the Computer.' Add your favorite Sun anecdote here."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/gdK5xQ_ry8k/article.pl

[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 13:58:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Quantum Setback For Warp Drives

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KentuckyFC writes "Warp drives were generally considered impossible by mainstream scientists until 1994 when the physicist Michael Alcubierre worked out how to build a faster-than-light drive using the principles of general relativity. His thinking was that while relativity prevents faster-than-light travel relative to the fabric of spacetime, it places no restriction on the speed at which regions of spacetime may move relative to each other. So a small bubble of spacetime containing a spacecraft could travel faster than the speed of light, at least in principle. But one unanswered question was what happens to the bubble when quantum mechanics is taken into account. Now, a team of physicists have worked it out, and it's bad news: the bubble becomes unstable at superluminal speeds, making warp drives impossible (probably)."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/dRatYLWDGCA/article.pl

[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 13:18:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Preston Responds On ICANN CyberSafety Constituency

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An anonymous reader writes "After coverage here on Slashdot and elsewhere, Cheryl Preston has responded. She says that 'some netizens have missed the mark by turning the rather hum-drum constituency formation issue into a rash of (admittedly sometimes quite humorous) charges, allegations, and ad hominem attacks. I can only wish that I had control of some global Mormon conspiracy network, that this were a money-making proposition, and that my powers of persuasion could possibly move ICANN to adopt a content regulatory system...in reality, the CyberSafety constituency is interested in many current GNSO issues, such as Fast Flux Hosting (FFH); the development of a Registrants' Rights Charter; the gathering of identity information on WHOIS; and public order issues with the granting of new Top Level Domain names, to name a few.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/mO7udKcY2gI/article.pl

[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 22:28:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Verizon Promises 4G Wireless For Rural America

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Hugh Pickens writes "A Pew study last year found that only 38 percent of rural American homes have access to broadband Internet, compared to 57 percent in cities and 60 percent in the suburbs. All that could be about to change with the announcement that Verizon plans to start introducing a new wireless network in the 700 MHz spectrum in 2010. 'The licenses we bought in the 700MHz auction cover the whole US,' says Tony Melone, a Verizon Wireless VP. 'And we plan to roll out LTE [high-speed mobile service] throughout the entire country, including places where we don't offer our [current] cell phone service today.' Because the [700 MHz] spectrum is in a lower frequency, it can transmit signals over longer distances and penetrate through obstacles, and because the signals travel longer distances, Verizon can deploy fewer cell towers than if it used spectrum from a higher frequency band, which means it can provide coverage at a lower cost. President Obama's administration is well aware of the high-speed Internet divide that exists today, and as part of the overall economic stimulus package passed by Congress, the government is allocating $7.2 billion for projects that bring broadband Internet access to rural towns and communities."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/2anlSQwNjOo/article.pl

[#] Fri Apr 03 2009 23:12:00 EDT from rss

Subject: Group Pushes FCC To Investigate Skype for iPhone

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Macworld is reporting that an internet advocacy group has asked the FCC to investigate whether the WiFi-only restriction on the Skype for iPhone app is in violation of federal law. "Since its release on Tuesday, Skype for iPhone has been downloaded more than a million times — that's a rate of six downloads a second, according to the company. All this despite the fact the software only works via the iPhone's Wi-Fi connection, and not AT&T's 3G network. [...] The letter cites the FCC's Internet Policy Statement (PDF link) which states that 'consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice' in order to 'preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/2mapyBkkrlg/article.pl

[#] Sat Apr 04 2009 00:01:00 EDT from rss

Subject: MIT Building Batteries Using Viruses

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thefickler writes "Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are now using viruses to build cathodes for Lithium Ion batteries. Three years ago these same researchers found they could build an anode using viruses. Creating both the anode and cathode using viruses will make batteries easy to build. This nanoscale battery technology will allow batteries to be lightweight and to 'take the shape of their container' rather than creating containers for the batteries, which could open up new possibilities for car and electronics manufacturers."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/PWIFTzPe_54/article.pl

[#] Sat Apr 04 2009 00:58:00 EDT from rss

Subject: FBI Seizes All Servers In Dallas Data Center

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1sockchuck writes "FBI agents have raided a Dallas data center, seizing servers at a company called Core IP Networks. The company's CEO has posted a message saying the FBI confiscated all its customer servers, including gear belonging to companies that are almost certainly not under suspicion. The FBI isn't saying what it's after, but there are reports that it's related to video piracy, sparking unconfirmed speculation that the probe is tied to the leaking of Wolverine."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



http://rss.slashdot.org/~r/Slashdot/slashdot/~3/3ir1uHVATmc/article.pl

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