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Dark Matter Is Even More of a Mystery Than Expected

slashdot - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 22:29
schwit1 writes: Using the Hubble and Chandra space telescopes astronomers have discovered that dark matter is not only invisible to direct observation, it is invisible to itself! Quoting: "As two galactic clusters collide, the stars, gas and dark matter interact in different ways. The clouds of gas suffer drag, slow down and often stop, whereas the stars zip past one another, unless they collide — which is rare. On studying what happens to dark matter during these collisions, the researchers realized that, like stars, the colliding clouds of dark matter have little effect on one another. Thought to be spread evenly throughout each cluster, it seems logical to assume that the clouds of dark matter would have a strong interaction — much like the colliding clouds of gas as the colliding dark matter particles should come into very close proximity. But rather than creating drag, the dark matter clouds slide through one another seamlessly." The data here is on the very edge of reality, built on too many assumptions. We know that something undetected as yet is influencing the motions of galaxies, but what exactly it is remains completely unknown. These results only make the mystery more mysterious.

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Toshiba Announces 3D Flash With 48 Layers

slashdot - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 21:47
Lucas123 writes: Admitting it has bumped up against a 15 nanometer process wall, Toshiba announced it's focusing its efforts on three dimensional NAND using its Bit Cost Scalable technology (PDF) in order to increase capacity. It has dedicated a Japanese fab plant to it and developed 48-level 3D NAND, which bumps density up 33% over previous 3D NAND flash. The new 3D NAND will be able to store 128Gb of data per chip (16GB). Samsung has been mass producing 32-layer, triple-level cell (TLC) 3D NAND since last October and has incorporated it into some of its least expensive SSDs. Yesterday, Micron and Intel announced their own 32-layer 3D TLC NAND, which they claimed will lead to 10TB SSDs. While Toshiba's 3D NAND is multi-level cell (meaning it stores two bits per transistor versus three), the company does plan on developing a TLC version. Toshiba said it's not abandoning 15nm floating gate flash, but it will focus those efforts on lower capacity applications.

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Hoax-Detecting Software Spots Fake Papers

slashdot - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 21:07
sciencehabit writes: In 2005, three computer science Ph.D. students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created a program to generate nonsensical computer science research papers. The goal was "to expose the lack of peer review at low-quality conferences that essentially scam researchers with publication and conference fees." The program — dubbed SCIgen — soon found users across the globe, and before long its automatically generated creations were being accepted by scientific conferences and published in purportedly peer-reviewed journals. But SCIgen may have finally met its match. Academic publisher Springer this week is releasing SciDetect, an open-source program to automatically detect automatically generated papers. SCIgen uses a "context-free grammar" to create word salad that looks like reasonable text from a distance but is easily spotted as nonsense by a human reader.

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Google Loses Ruling In Safari Tracking Case

slashdot - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 20:25
mpicpp sends this report from CNET: The floodgates are now open for UK users to sue Google over privacy violations tied to tracking cookies. In a landmark ruling, the UK's Court of Appeal has dismissed Google's request to prevent British Web users from suing the company over tracking cookies and privacy violations. The decision was announced Friday, according to the BBC. In spite of default privacy settings and user preferences — including an opt-out of consent to be tracked by cookies — Google's tracking cookies gathered information on Safari browser users for nine months in 2011 and 2012.

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Amazon Requires Non-Compete Agreements.. For Warehouse Workers

slashdot - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 19:41
Rick Zeman writes: Amazon, perhaps historically only second to Newegg in the IT nerdling's online shopping heart, has not only subjected their warehouse employees to appalling working conditions, but they're also making them sign a non-compete agreement for the privilege. Here's an excerpt from the agreement: "During employment and for 18 months after the Separation Date, Employee will not, directly or indirectly, whether on Employee's own behalf or on behalf of any other entity (for example, as an employee, agent, partner, or consultant), engage in or support the development, manufacture, marketing, or sale of any product or service that competes or is intended to compete with any product or service sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon (or intended to be sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon in the future)."

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Behind the Scenes At a Quantum Dot Factory

slashdot - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 18:59
Tekla Perry writes: In a nondescript office complex in Milpitas, Calif., Nanosys is making enough quantum dots to populate 6 million 60-inch television screens annually. "The process goes on in what looks like a microbrewery. In about half a dozen large metal tanks ... Nanosys combines cadmium and selenium and adjusts the temperature, concentration, and catalysts added to force these precursors to combine into stable crystals of cadmium selenide. Then, by readjusting the conditions, the system stops the formation of crystals and triggers the beginning of crystal growth. A computer controls the process according to a programmed “recipe;” staff members monitor the growth of the crystals by shining light on them and measuring the wavelength of the fluorescence; the smallest crystals don’t fluoresce at all, then, as the crystals get larger, the wavelength changes. Nanosys stops the process when the fluoresced light hits the target wavelength, which varies depending on what particular display industry standard that the batch of film is designed to meet."

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Ask Slashdot: What Makes Some Code Particularly Good?

slashdot - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 18:16
itwbennett writes: When developers talk about what makes some source code particularly 'good,' a handful of qualities tend to get mentioned frequently (functional, readable, testable). What would you add to this list?

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Rebuilding the PDP-8 With a Raspberry Pi

slashdot - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 17:35
braindrainbahrain writes: Hacker Oscarv wanted a PDP-8 mini computer. But buying a real PDP-8 was horribly expensive and out of the question. So Oscarv did the next best thing: he used a Raspberry Pi as the computing engine and interfaced it to a replica PDP-8 front panel, complete with boatloads of fully functional switches and LEDs.

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Modern Cockpits: Harder To Invade But Easier To Lock Up

slashdot - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 16:53
HughPickens.com writes: Jad Mouawad And Christopher Drew write in the NY Times that although airplane cockpits are supposed to be the last line of defense from outside aggressors, airlines have fewer options if the threat comes from within. One of the major safety protocols that actually made planes safer in the past 15 years was that the cockpits were turned into fortresses. Unfortunately, that exact advantage was exploited by the co-pilot of the Germanwings plane on Tuesday to crash it intentionally. "It is shocking to me that there was not a second person present in the cockpit," says Mark Rosenker, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Access to the cockpit is strictly regulated in the United States. Passengers are not allowed to congregate near the cockpit door, and whenever the door is open, no one is allowed in the forward bathroom and flight attendants usually block aisle access, sometimes using a food cart. The Federal Aviation Administration mandates that a flight attendant must sit in the cockpit when either pilot steps into the passenger area; European regulations do not have a similar two-person rule, but they're now talking about creating one. The Germanwings accident also points to potential shortcomings in how pilots are screened for mental problems, a recurring concern for an industry that demands focus and discipline in an increasingly technical job, often in stressful situations. In 2012, a well-regarded pilot with JetBlue, one of the airline's earliest employees, was physically restrained by passengers on a flight from New York to Las Vegas after displaying erratic behavior. In that case, the co-pilot locked the pilot out of the cabin and made an emergency landing in Amarillo, Tex. "Aircraft-assisted pilot suicides," as the Federal Aviation Administration calls them, are rare. They include the November 2013 crash of a Mozambique Airlines plane bound for Luanda, Angola, which bears an eerie resemblance to the Germanwings plane's demise. When the flight's co-pilot left to use the lavatory, the captain locked him out of the cockpit and manually steered the aircraft earthward. The crash of Egypt Airlines Flight 990 off Nantucket, Mass., in 1999, which killed all 217 people on board, was also caused by deliberate action, a National Transportation Safety Board investigation concluded. Experts on suicide say that the psychology of those who combine suicide with mass murder may differ in significant ways from those who limit themselves to taking their own lives.

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US Air Force Overstepped In SpaceX Certification

slashdot - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 16:11
Rambo Tribble writes: An internal review commissioned by Air Force Secretary Deborah James has concluded that Air Force personnel tasked with evaluating SpaceX's certification treated it as a design review, going so far as to dictate organizational changes in the company. This was judged contrary to the intention of promoting a competitive environment. The report, prepared by former Air Force Chief of Staff General Larry Welch, concluded, "The result to date has been ... the worst of all worlds, pressing the Falcon 9 commercially oriented approach into a comfortable government mold that eliminates or significantly reduces the expected benefits to the government of the commercial approach. Both teams need to adjust."

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Amazon Announces Unlimited Cloud Storage Plans

slashdot - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 09:29
An anonymous reader sends word that Amazon is now offering unlimited cloud storage plans to compete with Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. "Last year, Amazon gave a boost to its Prime members when it launched a free, unlimited photo storage for them on Cloud Drive. Today, the company is expanding that service as a paid offering to cover other kinds of content, and to users outside of its loyalty program. Unlimited Cloud Storage will let users get either unlimited photo storage or "unlimited everything" — covering all kinds of media from videos and music through to PDF documents — respectively for $11.99 or $59.99 per year."

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Ordnance Survey Releases Mapping Tools

slashdot - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 07:02
rHBa writes The BBC reports that the UK mapping organization Ordnance Survey has added 4 new products to its open data portfolio: OS Local, Names, Rivers and Roads. Perhaps the most interesting of the free data sets is OS Local which provides a base map to identify "hotspots" such as property pricing, insurance risk, and crime. The OS are not creating a new Google Maps-style service of their own but rather are providing their data for use by other third-party apps and online tools. They expect developers and designers to use the data to enhance their own products and improve the information people can access via the web.

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Robobug: Scientists Clad Bacterium With Graphene To Make a Working Cytobot

slashdot - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 04:23
Zothecula writes By cladding a living cell with graphene quantum dots, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) claim to have created a nanoscale biomicrorobot (or cytobot) that responds electrically to changes in its environment. This work promises to lay the foundations for future generations of bio-derived nanobots, biomicrorobotic-mechanisms, and micromechanical actuation for a wide range of applications. "UIC researchers created an electromechanical device — a humidity sensor — on a bacterial spore. They call it NERD, for Nano-Electro-Robotic Device. The report is online at Scientific Reports, a Nature open access journal."

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Millennial Tech Workers Losing Ground In US

slashdot - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 02:06
Nerval's Lobster writes Millennial tech workers are entering the U.S. workforce at a comparable disadvantage to other tech workers throughout the industrialized world, according to study earlier this year from Educational Testing Services (PDF). How do U.S. millennials compare to their international peers, at least according to ETS? Those in the 90th percentile (i.e., the top-scoring) actually scored lower than top-scoring millennials in 15 of the 22 studied countries; low-scoring U.S. millennials ranked last (along with Italy and England/Northern Ireland). While some experts have blamed the nation's education system for the ultimate lack of STEM jobs, other studies have suggested that the problem isn't in the classroom; a 2014 report from the U.S. Census Bureau suggested that many of the people who earned STEM degrees didn't actually go into careers requiring them. In any case, the U.S. is clearly wrestling with an issue; how can it introduce more (qualified) STEM people into the market?

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Win Or Lose, Discrimination Suit Is Having an Effect On Silicon Valley

slashdot - Fri, 03/27/2015 - 00:25
SpzToid sends word that the Ellen Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers discrimination case wrapped up yesterday. No matter what the outcome turns out to be, it has already effected how business is being done in Silicon Valley. "'Even before there's a verdict in this case, and regardless of what the verdict is, people in Silicon Valley are now talking,' said Kelly Dermody, managing partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, who chairs the San Francisco law firm's employment practice group. 'People are second-guessing and questioning whether there are exclusionary practices [and] everyday subtle acts of exclusion that collectively limit women's ability to succeed or even to compete for the best opportunities. And that's an incredibly positive impact.' Women in tech have long complained about an uneven playing field — lower pay for equal work, being passed over for promotions and a hostile 'brogrammer' culture — and have waited for a catalyst to finally overhaul the status quo. This trial — pitting a disgruntled, multimillionaire former junior partner against a powerful Menlo Park, Calif., venture capital firm — was far from the open-and-shut case that many women had hoped for. More gender discrimination suits against big tech firms are expected to follow; some already have, including lawsuits against Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc."

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GAO Denied Access To Webb Telescope Workers By Northrop Grumman

slashdot - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 23:44
schwit1 writes In a report as well as at House hearings today the GAO reported that Northrop Grumman has denied them one-on-one access to workers building the James Webb Space Telescope. "The interviews, part of a running series of GAO audits of the NASA flagship observatory, which is billions of dollars overbudget and years behind schedule, were intended to identify potential future trouble spots, according to a GAO official. But Northrop Grumman Aerospace, which along with NASA says the $9 billion project is back on track, cited concerns that the employees, 30 in all, would be intimidated by the process." To give Northrop Grumman the benefit of the doubt, these interviews were a somewhat unusual request. Then again, if all was well why would they resist? Note too that the quote above says the cost of the telescope project is now $9 billion. If the project was "back on track" as the agency and Northrop Grumman claim, then why has the budget suddenly increased by another billion?

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PayPal To Pay $7.7 Million For Sanctions Violations

slashdot - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 23:03
jfruh writes PayPal may not be a bank, but it's still legally required to follow regulations on transferring money — but the company has admitted to a number of violations, including allowing transfers to an individual specifically sanctioned by the U.S. State Department for helping proliferate nuclear weapons. From Ars: "On Wednesday afternoon, PayPal reached a settlement with the US Treasury Department, agreeing that it would pay $7.7 million for allegedly processing payments to people in countries under sanction as well as to a man the US has listed as involved in the nuclear weapons black market. The company neither confirmed nor denied the allegations, but it voluntarily handed over its transaction data to the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)."

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Australia Passes Mandatory Data Retention Law

slashdot - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 22:20
Bismillah writes Opposition from the Green Party and independent members of parliament wasn't enough to stop the ruling conservative Liberal-National coalition from passing Australia's new law that will force telcos and ISPs to store customer metadata for at least two years. Journalists' metadata is not exempted from the retention law, but requires a warrant to access. The metadata of everyone else can be accessed by unspecified government agencies without a warrant however.

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Micron and Intel Announce 3D NAND Flash Co-Development To Push SSDs Past 10TB

slashdot - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 21:38
MojoKid writes Both Micron and Intel noted in a release today that traditional planar NAND flash memory is reaching a dead-end, and as such, have been working together on 3D memory technology that could open the floodgates for high densities and faster speeds. Not all 3D memory is alike, however. This joint development effort resulted in a "floating gate cell" being used, something not uncommon for standard flash, but a first for 3D. Ultimately, this 3D NAND is composed of flash cells stacked 32 high, resulting in 256Gb MLC and 384Gb TLC die that fit inside of a standard package. That gives us 48GB per die, and up to 750GB in a single package. Other benefits include faster performance, reduced cost, and technologies that help extend the life of the memory.

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Generate Memorizable Passphrases That Even the NSA Can't Guess

slashdot - Thu, 03/26/2015 - 20:59
HughPickens.com writes Micah Lee writes at The Intercept that coming up with a good passphrase by just thinking of one is incredibly hard, and if your adversary really is capable of one trillion guesses per second, you'll probably do a bad job of it. It turns out humans are a species of patterns, and they are incapable of doing anything in a truly random fashion. But there is a method for generating passphrases that are both impossible for even the most powerful attackers to guess, yet very possible for humans to memorize. First, grab a copy of the Diceware word list, which contains 7,776 English words — 37 pages for those of you printing at home. You'll notice that next to each word is a five-digit number, with each digit being between 1 and 6. Now grab some six-sided dice (yes, actual real physical dice), and roll them several times, writing down the numbers that you get. You'll need a total of five dice rolls to come up with each word in your passphrase. Using Diceware, you end up with passphrases that look like "cap liz donna demon self", "bang vivo thread duct knob train", and "brig alert rope welsh foss rang orb". If you want a stronger passphrase you can use more words; if a weaker passphrase is ok for your purpose you can use less words. If you choose two words for your passphrase, there are 60,466,176 different potential passphrases. A five-word passphrase would be cracked in just under six months and a six-word passphrase would take 3,505 years, on average, at a trillion guesses a second. After you've generated your passphrase, the next step is to commit it to memory.You should write your new passphrase down on a piece of paper and carry it with you for as long as you need. Each time you need to type it, try typing it from memory first, but look at the paper if you need to. Assuming you type it a couple times a day, it shouldn't take more than two or three days before you no longer need the paper, at which point you should destroy it. "Simple, random passphrases, in other words, are just as good at protecting the next whistleblowing spy as they are at securing your laptop," concludes Lee. "It's a shame that we live in a world where ordinary citizens need that level of protection, but as long as we do, the Diceware system makes it possible to get CIA-level protection without going through black ops training."

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