Thursday, March 21, 2013

Voyager 1 Officially Exits Our Solar System

Voyager 1 Officially Exits Our Solar System: An anonymous reader writes "A new study released today (abstract) indicates that the Voyager 1 spacecraft has become the first man-made object to exit our solar system. Instrumentation data sent back to NASA indicate the historic event likely occurred on August 25, 2012, evidenced by drastic changes in radiation levels as the craft ventured past the heliopause. What remains to be seen, however, is whether Voyager 1 has actually made it to true interstellar space, or whether it has entered a separate, undefined region beyond our solar system. Either way, the achievement is truly monumental. 'It's outside the normal heliosphere, I would say that. We're in a new region,' said Bill Webber, professor emeritus of astronomy at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. 'And everything we're measuring is different and exciting.'" Update: 03/20 20:44 GMT by S : Reader skade88 points out that the JPL Voyager team is not so sure: "It is the consensus of the Voyager science team that Voyager 1 has not yet left the solar system or reached interstellar space. In December 2012, the Voyager science team reported that Voyager 1 is within a new region called 'the magnetic highway' where energetic particles changed dramatically. A change in the direction of the magnetic field is the last critical indicator of reaching interstellar space and that change of direction has not yet been observed." So we'll probably be hearing about this again in a couple years.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Smart-bombing cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and more

Smart-bombing cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and more: Scientists are crafting new pharmaceuticals that could dramatically improve a patient’s odds when heavy-duty drugs are prescribed. The research is focused on developing drugs with the kind of precision that the military seeks with smart bombs.

CCTV Hack Takes Casino For $33 Million

CCTV Hack Takes Casino For $33 Million: iComp writes "A sophisticated scheme to use a casino's own security systems against it has netted scammers $33 million in a high-stakes poker game after they were able to gain a crucial advantage by seeing the opposition's cards. The team used a high-rolling accomplice from overseas who was known to spend large amounts while gambling at Australia's biggest casino, the Crown in Melbourne, according to the Herald Sun. He and his family checked into the Crown and were accommodated in one of its $30,000-a-night villas. The player then joined a private high-stakes poker game in a private suite. At the same time, an unnamed person got access to the casino's CCTV systems in the poker room and fed the information he gleaned back to the player via a wireless link. Over the course of eight hands the team fleeced the opposition to the tune of $33 million."

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When it rains these days, does it pour? Has the weather become stormier as the climate warms?

When it rains these days, does it pour? Has the weather become stormier as the climate warms?: Scientists have shown that the signature of an increase in storminess could be extracted from precipitation data for the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. The scientists suspect the same signature lies hidden under naturally stormier weather at other locations as well.

How Beer Gave Us Civilization

How Beer Gave Us Civilization: Hugh Pickens writes "Jeffrey P. Khan writes in the NY Times about how recent anthropological research suggests that human's angst of anxiety and depression ultimately results from our transformation, over tens of thousands of years, from biologically shaped, almost herd-like prehistoric tribes, to rational and independent individuals in modern civilization. The catalyst for suppressing the rigid social codes that kept our clans safe and alive was fermented fruit or grain. 'Once the effects of these early brews were discovered, the value of beer must have become immediately apparent,' writes Khan. 'With the help of the new psychopharmacological brew, humans could quell the angst of defying those herd instincts. Conversations around the campfire, no doubt, took on a new dimension: the painfully shy, their angst suddenly quelled, could now speak their minds.' Examining potential beer-brewing tools in archaeological remains from the Natufian culture in the Eastern Mediterranean, the team concludes that 'brewing of beer was an important aspect of feasting and society in the Late Epipaleolithic' era. In time, humans became more expansive in their thinking, as well as more collaborative and creative. A night of modest tippling may have ushered in these feelings of freedom — though, the morning after, instincts to conform and submit would have kicked back in to restore the social order. Today, many people drink too much because they have more than average social anxiety or panic anxiety to quell — disorders that may result, in fact, from those primeval herd instincts kicking into overdrive. But beer's place in the development of civilization deserves at least a raising of the glass. As the ever rational Ben Franklin supposedly said, 'Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.'"

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A Moon Base Made From Lunar Dust

A Moon Base Made From Lunar Dust: Zothecula writes "The race to build a manned research station on the moon has been slowly picking up steam in recent years, with several developed nations actively studying a variety of construction methods. In just the past few months, the European Space Agency revealed a design involving 3D-printed structures and the Russian Federal Space Agency announced plans for a moon base by 2037. Now international design agency, Architecture Et Cetera (A-ETC), has thrown its hat into the ring with a proposal for SinterHab, a moon base consisting of bubble-like compartments coated in a protective layer of melted lunar dust."

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Antarctica's first whale skeleton found with nine new deep-sea species

Antarctica's first whale skeleton found with nine new deep-sea species: Marine biologists have, for the first time, found a whale skeleton on the ocean floor near Antarctica, giving new insights into life in the sea depths. The discovery was made almost a mile below the surface in an undersea crater and includes the find of at least nine new species of deep-sea organisms thriving on the bones.

We Should Be Allowed To Unlock Everything We Own

We Should Be Allowed To Unlock Everything We Own: An anonymous reader writes "When cell phone unlocking became illegal last month, it set off a firestorm of debate over what rights people should have for phones they have legally purchased. But this is really just one facet of a much larger problem with property rights in general. 'Silicon permeates and powers almost everything we own. This is a property rights issue, and current copyright law gets it backwards, turning regular people — like students, researchers, and small business owners — into criminals. Fortune 500 telecom manufacturer Avaya, for example, is known for suing service companies, accusing them of violating copyright for simply using a password to log in to their phone systems. That's right: typing in a password is considered "reproducing copyrighted material." Manufacturers have systematically used copyright in this manner over the past 20 years to limit our access to information. Technology has moved too fast for copyright laws to keep pace, so corporations have been exploiting the lag to create information monopolies at our expense and for their profit. After years of extensions and so-called improvements, copyright has turned Mickey Mouse into a monster who can never die.' We need to win the fight for unlocking phones, and then keep pushing until we actually own the objects we own again."

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Remains of 400-Year-Old Explosion Provide New Insight Into Star's Death

Remains of 400-Year-Old Explosion Provide New Insight Into Star's Death: Astronomers have determined that the remains of a dead star seen in the image above formed from a white dwarf stealing material away from a nearby red giant star.

Famous supernova reveals clues about crucial cosmic distance markers

Famous supernova reveals clues about crucial cosmic distance markers: A new study using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory points to the origin of a famous supernova. This supernova, discovered in 1604 by Johannes Kepler, belongs to an important class of objects that are used to measure the rate of expansion of the Universe.

Putting the clock in 'cock-a-doodle-doo'

Putting the clock in 'cock-a-doodle-doo': Of course, roosters crow with the dawn. But are they simply reacting to the environment, or do they really know what time of day it is? Researchers have evidence that puts the clock in "cock-a-doodle-doo.