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Physicists Identify Possible New Particle Behind Dark Matter

/. - 1 hour 45 min ago
sciencehabit writes: Like cops tracking the wrong person, physicists seeking to identify dark matter — the mysterious stuff whose gravity appears to bind the galaxies — may have been stalking the wrong particle. In fact, a particle with some properties opposite to those of physicists' current favorite dark matter candidate — the weakly interacting massive particle, or WIMP — would do just as good a job at explaining the stuff, a quartet of theorists says. Hypothetical strongly interacting massive particles — or SIMPs — would also better account for some astrophysical observations, they argue.

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Got Gas? Switch to Sourdough

Soylent New - 2 hours 3 min ago

A paper appearing on PLOS One today suggest that switching to Sourdough bread products can significantly reduce the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

IBS is something of a catch-all diagnosis of a number of gastrointestinal disorders usually involving excess gas, bloating, pain, etc. It is often confused with Celiac disease — the disease spawning the current Gluten Free diet fad.

The PLOS One study, done at The University of Reading in the UK, suggests that the problem may be related to how we make our bread and the differences in intestinal bacteria that is induced by different bread making processes.

It turns out that most bread is made differently in the UK. Due to the type of low-protein grain available in the UK most bread was made with the Chorleywood bread process which is characterized by high speed sheering (cutting) mixers (and tight control of air pressure) that mix bread so fast that they need external cooling. This method is also characterized by very short fermentation (rising) time. This method is used in over 80 percent of factory-produced bread in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and India, but is virtually unknown in North America due to higher protein grains.

The scientists compared Chorleywood bread (type A) with yeasted long fermentation bread (type B) and Sourdough bread (type C).

In general, IBS subjects showed higher rates of gas production compared to healthy controls. Rates of gas production for type A and conventional long fermentation (type B) breads were almost identical in IBS and healthy subjects. But Sourdough bread produced significantly lower cumulative gas after 15 h fermentation as compared to type A and B breads in IBS subjects.

The sourdough bread also tended to make more butyrate during digestion. According to a Japanese Study:

The researchers, led by a group from the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences (IMS-RCAI) in Kanagawa, believe their findings make a case for using butyrate to treat inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's disease.

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Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Crashes

/. - 2 hours 38 min ago
Fallen Kell writes: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo has crashed. "'During the test. the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle,' the company said in a statement. "The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely. Our first concern is the status of the pilots, which is unknown at this time.'"" ABC says one person is dead, and another injured. This was the craft's fourth powered test flight, and its first since January.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Breaking news - Virgin SpaceShipTwo Crash

Soylent New - 3 hours 13 sec ago

BBC News reports - 'In-flight anomaly' on Virgin SpaceShipTwo

Virgin Galactic says that its SpaceShipTwo space tourism craft has suffered an "in-flight anomaly".

The craft was being tested in the Mojave Desert region of California. Virgin Galactic said it would issue a fuller statement shortly.

Local police said they were responding to reports of a crash in Cantil.

More information available from Kern Golden Empire and FOX 4 NEWS on Twitter.

Virgin Galactic Twitter

Spaceflight Now

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Colleges Face New 'Gainful Employment' Regulations For Student Loans

/. - 3 hours 12 min ago
HughPickens.com writes: Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the Education Department wants to make sure loan programs that prey on students don't continue their abusive practices. Now Kimberly Hefling reports that for-profit colleges who are not producing graduates capable of paying off their student loans could soon stand to lose access to federal student-aid programs. In order to receive federal student aid, the law requires that most for-profit programs, regardless of credential level, and most non-degree programs at non-profit and public institutions, including community colleges, prepare students for "gainful employment in a recognized occupation" (PDF). To meet these "gainful employment" standards, a program will have to show that the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate does not exceed 20 percent of his or her discretionary income or 8 percent of total earnings. "Career colleges must be a stepping stone to the middle class. But too many hard-working students find themselves buried in debt with little to show for it. That is simply unacceptable," says Duncan. "These regulations are a necessary step to ensure that colleges accepting federal funds protect students, cut costs and improve outcomes. We will continue to take action as needed." But not everyone is convinced the rules go far enough. "The rule is far too weak to address the grave misconduct of predatory for-profit colleges," writes David Halperin. "The administration missed an opportunity to issue a strong rule, to take strong executive action and provide real leadership on this issue." The final gainful employment regulations follow an extensive rulemaking process involving public hearings, negotiations and about 95,000 public comments and will go into effect on July 1, 2015.

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Smart Meters and New IoT Devices Cause Serious Concern

/. - 3 hours 58 min ago
dkatana writes: The ongoing deployment of internet-of-things devices is already creating serious issues and discussions about the privacy of users, IoT security, and the potential threat of cyber criminals taking control of sensors and smart devices connected to the Internet. Security and privacy concerns associated with smart meters are why they are currently "optional" in several countries. That's the case in the Netherlands after consumer organizations and privacy watchdog groups campaigned vigorously to stop the mandatory smart meter deployment. A report from researchers at Tilburg University claimed that "smart meters have the capacity to reveal quite privacy-sensitive information, thus affecting not only informational privacy but also privacy of the home and of family life." This now applies to televisions as well — an article in Salon discusses the author's new "smart" TV, which came with a 46-page privacy policy. Quoting: "It logs where, when, how and for how long you use the TV. It sets tracking cookies and beacons designed to detect 'when you have viewed particular content or a particular email message.' It records 'the apps you use, the websites you visit, and how you interact with content.' It ignores 'do-not-track' requests as a considered matter of policy. It also has a built-in camera — with facial recognition."

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Somebody’s Already Using Verizon’s ID to Track Users

Soylent New - 4 hours 5 min ago

Wired and Forbes reported earlier this week that the two largest cellphone carriers in the United States, Verizon and AT&T, are adding a tracking number to their subscribers' Internet activity, even when users opt out.

The data can be used by any site — even those with no relationship to the telecoms — to build a dossier about a person's behavior on mobile devices — including which apps they use, what sites they visit and for how long.

ProPublica reports that MoPub ("the world's largest mobile ad exchange"), acquired by Twitter in 2013, uses Verizon's tag to track and target cellphone users for ads and that AT&T and Vodaphone are also testing the waters with similar tracking IDs.

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Android Co-Founder Andy Rubin Leaving Google

/. - 4 hours 43 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: The Wall Street Journal reports that Andy Rubin is leaving Google. Rubin co-founded Android in 2003 and stayed on when the company was acquired by Google in 2005. Rubin led Android through the acquisition of over a billion users, until 2013 when he moved to Google's robotics division. He was replaced in the Android division by Sundar Pichai, who continues in charge of that, Chrome, Google+, and many other products. Rubin's robotics role will be filled by James Kuffner. "Mr. Rubin's departure is a blow to Google's robotics efforts. However, Mr. Kuffner is experienced in the sector, having worked on human-like robot technology for over two decades, including seven years at Carnegie Mellon University and five years on Google's self-driving car project."

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Facebook Sets Up Shop On Tor

/. - 5 hours 30 min ago
itwbennett writes: Assuming that people who use the anonymity network want to also use Facebook, the social network has made its site available on Tor, Facebook software engineer Alec Muffett said in a post on Friday. Facebook also decided to encrypt the connection between clients and its server with SSL, providing an SSL certificate for Facebook's onion address. This was done both for internal technical reasons and as a way for users to verify Facebook's ownership of the onion address. Since it is still an experiment, Facebook hopes to improve the service and said it would share lessons learned about scaling and deploying services via an onion address over time.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Demystifying the MOOC

Soylent New - 6 hours 6 min ago

When massive open online courses first grabbed the spotlight in 2011, many saw in them promise of a revolutionary force that would disrupt traditional higher education by expanding access and reducing costs. The hope was that MOOCs — classes from elite universities, most of them free, in some cases enrolling hundreds of thousands of students each — would make it possible for anyone to acquire an education, from a villager in Turkey to a college dropout in the United States.

Following the “hype cycle” model for new technology products developed by the Gartner research group, MOOCs have fallen from their “peak of inflated expectations” in 2012 to the “trough of disillusionment.”

There are several reasons for the disillusionment. First, the average student in a MOOC is not a Turkish villager with no other access to higher education but a young white American man with a bachelor’s degree and a full-time job.

Eight of every 10 students enrolled in University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania MOOCs in 2012-13 already had a degree of some kind. The credentials gap was most pronounced in countries where the courses were supposed to have the biggest impact among the undereducated: Some 80 percent of MOOC students in Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa had a college degree, while in the overall population only 5 percent did. The data represents more than two dozen courses offered through Coursera, a for-profit company that partners with universities and organizations to offer the online courses.


Jeffrey J. Selingo is author of “MOOC U: Who Is Getting the Most Out of Online Education and Why” (Simon & Schuster), from which this essay is adapted.

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MPAA Bans Google Glass In Theaters

/. - 6 hours 13 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: The Motion Picture Association of America, along with the National Association of Theater Owners, have banned Google Glass and similar devices from being in movie theaters. They said, "As part of our continued efforts to ensure movies are not recorded in theaters, however, we maintain a zero-tolerance policy toward using any recording device while movies are being shown. As has been our long-standing policy, all phones must be silenced and other recording devices, including wearable devices, must be turned off and put away at show time. Individuals who fail or refuse to put the recording devices away may be asked to leave." This is a change from the MPAA's stance earlier this year that Glass was "no threat" in terms of copyright infringement. A spokesman said the ban is geared toward combating more sophisticated wearables in the future.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Breaching Air-Gap Security With Radio

/. - 6 hours 59 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: Security researcher Mordechai Guri with the guidance of Prof. Yuval Elovici from the cyber security labs at Ben-Gurion University in Israel presented at MALCON 2014 a breakthrough method ("AirHopper") for leaking data from an isolated computer to a mobile phone without the presence of a network. In highly secure facilities the assumption today is that data can not leak outside of an isolated internal network. It is called air-gap security. AirHopper demonstrates how the computer display can be used for sending data from the air-gapped computer to a near by smartphone. The published paper and a demonstration video are at the link.

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Hungary's Plans For Internet Tax On Hold After Protests

/. - 7 hours 33 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: When news broke last week that the Hungarian government was planning to tax internet traffic at a rate of about 62 cents per gigabyte, people on the internet were outraged. But it went beyond that: there were protests in the streets in Hungary, and the European Union warned against the plan. Now, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has put the plans on hold, saying, "This tax in its current form cannot be introduced." It's not completely dead — Orban has planned consultations over the next year to look for other ways to tax revenue generated over the internet.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Journal Nature is Asking for Source Code

Soylent New - 8 hours 13 min ago

Nature is updating its policy to state that papers in Nature journals should make computer code accessible where possible.

Although this policy update does not go as far as requiring all code explicitly, it is a major step forward with the journal now indicating code availability and:

Editors will insist on availability where they consider it appropriate: any practical issues preventing code sharing will be evaluated by the editors, who reserve the right to decline a paper if important code is unavailable.

Nature is not requiring open source though, from the Authors and Referees Guidelines

For all studies using custom code that is deemed central to the conclusions, a statement must be included in the Methods section, under the heading “Code availability”, indicating whether and how the code can be accessed, including any restrictions to access.

Given the complexity and the key role played by analysis software and the various tools used to manipulate the data sets, it's an interesting question as to whether this policy goes far enough, especially given such episodes as those highlighted in this article on the Reinhart-Rogoff blunder.

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Most Planets In the Universe Are Homeless

/. - 8 hours 19 min ago
StartsWithABang writes: We like to think of our Solar System as typical: a central star with a number of planets — some gas giants and some rocky worlds — in orbit around it. Yes, there's some variety, with binary or trinary star systems and huge variance in the masses of the central star being common ones, but from a planetary point of view, our Solar System is a rarity. Even though there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy for planets to orbit, there are most likely around a quadrillion planets in our galaxy, total, with only a few trillion of them orbiting stars at most. Now that we've finally detected the first of these, we have an excellent idea that this picture is the correct one: most planets in the Universe are homeless. Now, thank your lucky star!"

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Microsoft Enters the Wearables Market With 'Band'

/. - 9 hours 1 min ago
Microsoft has announced the availability of "Microsoft Band," a wearable device that goes on the wrist. It's designed to do health- and fitness-related tasks, like monitoring heart rate and how well a wearer sleeps, and its on-board GPS lets users map their run/bike routes. The company says Band plays nicely with iOS and Android devices in addition to Windows phones. It also has full support for viewing phone notifications and calendar alerts, and a built-in microphone enables queries through the Cortana personal assistant software. The display is rectangular, 11mm x 33mm (0.43" x 1.3"), and has a resolution of 320x106. They claim a battery life of 48 hours, with a charge time of 1.5 hours or less. The device costs $200.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ask Slashdot: Can You Say Something Nice About Systemd?

/. - 9 hours 44 min ago
ewhac writes: "I'm probably going to deeply deeply regret this, but every time a story appears here mentioning systemd, a 700-comment thread of back-and-forth bickering breaks out which is about as informative as an old Bud Light commercial, and I don't really learn anything new about the subject. My gut reaction to systemd is (currently) a negative one, and it's very easy to find screeds decrying systemd on the net. However, said screeds haven't been enough to prevent its adoption by several distros, which leads me to suspect that maybe there's something worthwhile there that I haven't discovered yet. So I thought it might be instructive to turn the question around and ask the membership about what makes systemd good. However, before you stab at the "Post" button, there are some rules... Bias Disclosure: I currently dislike systemd because — without diving very deeply into the documentation, mind — it looks and feels like a poorly-described, gigantic mess I know nothing about that seeks to replace other poorly-described, smaller messes which I know a little bit about. So you will be arguing in that environment." Nice Things About systemd Rules: Post each new Nice Thing as a new post, not as a reply to another post. This will let visitors skim the base level of comments for things that interest them, rather than have to dive through a fractally expanding tree of comments looking for things to support/oppose. It will also make it easier to follow the next rule: Avoid duplication; read the entire base-level of comments before adding a new Nice Thing. Someone may already have mentioned your Nice Thing. Add your support/opposition to that Nice Thing there, rather than as a new post. Only one concrete Nice Thing about systemd per base-level post. Keep the post focused on a single Nice Thing systemd does. If you know of multiple distinct things, write multiple distinct posts. Describe the Nice Thing in some detail. Don't assume, for example, that merely saying "Supports Linux cgroups" will be immediately persuasive. Describe how the Nice Thing is better than existing, less controversial solutions. systemd is allegedly better at some things than sysvinit or upstart or inetd. Why? Why is the Nice Thing possible in systemd, and impossible (or extremely difficult) with anything else? (In some cases, the Nice Thing will be a completely new thing that's never existed before; describe why it's good thing.)We will assume out of the gate that systemd boots your system faster than ${SOMETHING_ELSE}, so no points for bringing that up. Bonus points are awarded for: Personal Experience. "I actually did this," counts for way more than, "The docs claim you can do this." Working Examples. Corollary to the above — if you did a Nice Thing with systemd, consider also posting the code/script/service file you wrote to accomplish it. Links to Supporting Documentation. If you leveraged a Nice Thing, furnish a link to the docs you used that describe the Nice Thing and its usage.

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Europe’s Cybersecurity Threat Assessment

Soylent New - 11 hours 13 sec ago

Forget cyber-espionage, cyber-warfare and cyber-terrorism. The biggest threat to Europe’s infrastructure cybersecurity are power outages and poor communication.

On Thursday, ENISA (European Network and Information Security Agency) held its biggest ever cybersecurity exercise involving more than 200 organisations and 400 cyber-security professionals from 29 European countries.

The bi-annual event simulates a lifelike attack, modelled on real events, to test the reaction of national Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTS), government ministries, telco companies, energy companies, financial institutions and internet service providers.

But Steve Purser, Head of Operations at ENISA explained: “The biggest threats we really see are not attacks, but hardware and software failures.”


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Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare

/. - 12 hours 23 min ago
HughPickens.com writes We know that about 10 million more people have insurance coverage this year as a result of the Affordable Care Act but until now it has been difficult to say much about who was getting that Obamacare coverage — where they live, their age, their income and other such details. Now Kevin Quealy and Margot Sanger-Katz report in the NYT that a new data set is providing a clearer picture of which people gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The data is the output of a statistical model based on a large survey of adults and shows that the law has done something rather unusual in the American economy this century: It has pushed back against inequality, essentially redistributing income — in the form of health insurance or insurance subsidies — to many of the groups that have fared poorly over the last few decades. The biggest winners from the law include people between the ages of 18 and 34; blacks; Hispanics; and people who live in rural areas. The areas with the largest increases in the health insurance rate, for example, include rural Arkansas and Nevada; southern Texas; large swaths of New Mexico, Kentucky and West Virginia; and much of inland California and Oregon. Despite many Republican voters' disdain for the Affordable Care Act, parts of the country that lean the most heavily Republican (according to 2012 presidential election results) showed significantly more insurance gains than places where voters lean strongly Democratic. That partly reflects underlying rates of insurance. In liberal places, like Massachusetts and Hawaii, previous state policies had made insurance coverage much more widespread, leaving less room for improvement. But the correlation also reflects trends in wealth and poverty. Many of the poorest and most rural states in the country tend to favor Republican politicians.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Swedish Regulator Orders Last "Hold-Out" ISP To Retain Customer Data

/. - 13 hours 42 min ago
An anonymous reader writes Despite the death of the EU Data Retention Directive in April, and despite the country having taken six years to even begin to obey the ruling, the Swedish government, via its telecoms regulator, has forced ISPs to continue retaining customer data for law enforcement purposes. Now the last ISP retrenching on the issue has been told that it must comply with the edict or face a fine of five million krona ($680,000). While providers all over Europe have rejoiced in not being obliged any longer to provide infrastructure to retain six months of data per customer, Sweden and the United Kingdom alone have insisted on retaining the ruling — particularly surprising in the case of Sweden, since it took six years to begin adhering to the Data Retention Directive after it was made law in 2006. Britain's Data Retention and Investigatory Powers bill, rushed through in July, actually widens the scope of the original EU order.

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