Mars

Interviews: Shaun Moss Answers Your Questions About Mars and Space Exploration 48 48

Recently the founder of the Mars Settlement Research Organization and author of The International Mars Research Station Shaun Moss agreed to sit down and answer any questions you had about space exploration and colonizing Mars. Below you will find his answers to your questions.
Australia

Studies Find Genetic Signature of Native Australians In the Americas 97 97

Applehu Akbar writes: Two new research papers claim to have found an Australo-Melanesian DNA signal in the genetic makeup of Native Americans, dating to about the time of the last glacial maximum. This may move the speculation around the Clovis people and Kennewick man to an entirely new level. Let's hope that it at least shakes loose some more funding for North American archaeology. Ars reports: "The exact process by which humanity introduced itself to the Americas has always been controversial. While there's general agreement on the most important migration—across the Bering land bridge at the end of the last ice age—there's a lot of arguing over the details. Now, two new papers clarify some of the bigger picture but also introduce a new wrinkle: there's DNA from the distant Pacific floating around in the genomes of Native Americans. And the two groups disagree about how it got there."
Privacy

FCC CIO: Consumers Need Privacy Controls In the Internet of Everything Era 46 46

Lemeowski writes: Who is responsible for ensuring security and privacy in the age of the Internet of Things? As the number of Internet-connected devices explodes — Gartner estimates that 25 billion devices and objects will be connected to the Internet by 2020 — security and privacy issues are poised to affect everyone from families with connected refrigerators to grandparents with healthcare wearables. In this interview, U.S. Federal Communications Commission CIO David Bray says control should be put in the hands of individual consumers. Speaking in a personal capacity, Bray shares his learnings from a recent educational trip to Taiwan and Australia he took as part of an Eisenhower Fellowship: "A common idea Bray discussed with leaders during his Eisenhower Fellowship was that the interface for selecting privacy preferences should move away from individual Internet platforms and be put into the hands of individual consumers." Bray says it could be done through an open source agent that uses APIs to broker their privacy preferences on different platforms.
Australia

Cray To Build Australia's Fastest Supercomputer 54 54

Bismillah writes: US supercomputer vendor Cray has scored the contract to build the Australian Bureau of Meteorology's new system, said to be capable of 1.6 petaFLOPS and with an upgrade option in three years' time to hit 5 petaFLOPS. From the iTnews story: "The increase in capacity will allow the BoM to deal with growth in the 1TB of data it collects every day, which it expects to increase by 30 percent every 18 months to two years. It will also allow the agency to collect new areas of information it previously lacked the capacity for. 'The new observation platforms that are coming online are bringing quite a lot more data,' supercomputer program director Tim Pugh told iTnews.
EU

Data Store and Spying Laws Found Illegal By EU Court 64 64

WillAffleckUW writes: The EU High Court found the United Kingdom's data retention (and subsequent storage and analysis) and surveillance laws to be illegal throughout the EU, which subsequently would be an argument in courts in Australia and Canada against their own spy laws. This effectively brings back the rule of law that all EU citizens have a right to privacy that is at the Bill of Rights level, not an easily short-circuited legal basis.

"The judges identified two key problems with the law: that it does not provide for independent court or judicial scrutiny to ensure that only data deemed 'strictly necessary' is examined; and that there is no definition of what constitutes 'serious offenses' in relation to which material can be investigated." It is uncertain that this would apply to U.S. spy laws, as a right of privacy is only inferred by U.S. high courts and is not written into constitutions as it is in the EU, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Earth

2014 Was Earth's Warmest Year On Record 383 383

An anonymous reader writes: A lengthy report compiled by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration using work from hundreds of scientists across 58 countries has found that 2014 was the hottest year on record. "The warmth was widespread across land areas. Europe experienced its warmest year on record, with more than 20 countries exceeding their previous records. Africa had above-average temperatures across most of the continent throughout 2014, Australia saw its third warmest year on record, Mexico had its warmest year on record, and Argentina and Uruguay each had their second warmest year on record. Eastern North America was the only major region to experience below-average annual temperatures." They've also published a page showing highlights of the major findings. Greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise, the global sea level reached a record high, and average sea surface temperatures reached a record high.
Australia

Preserving Radio Silence At the Square Kilometer Array 27 27

johnslater writes: The Guardian has a story on the radio silence requirements at the Square Kilometer Array in Australia. The RF requirements for the SKA are far more stringent than at the US National Radio Quiet Zone at Greenbank, to such an extent that the specialized supercomputers to control the array have specially shielded data centers, and the as-yet-unbuilt supercomputer to process the data will be located hundreds of miles away in Perth. To quote Dr John Morgan in the article: "You can guarantee that the thing that SKA will be remembered for ... is going to be the thing you have not thought of. It's the unknown unknown."
United States

Rich and American? Australia Wants You 337 337

An anonymous reader writes: Following the success of a millionaire visa program to attract wealthy Chinese, Australia has launched an invite-only visa program that promises citizenship to rich American entrepreneurs. To meet the requirements of the Premium Investment Visa plan Americans must first invest around 15 million Australian dollars. Reuters reports: "Investment advisors who have been briefed on the plan by government officials expressed doubts about the wisdom of targeting Americans, with several telling Reuters the more obvious place to start was Australia's Asian neighbors. After all, why would a successful U.S. entrepreneur want to invest a large chunk of cash in Australia — a country very similar to the United States, just further away from everything — in exchange for a passport that carries few additional benefits to their own? 'The U.S. has some problems that Australia doesn't have. It's got a lot more racial crimes, it's got a lot more gun-related crimes, but I don't think that is going to drive a whole bunch of ultra-rich Americans out of their country,' said Bill Fuggle, a partner at law firm Baker & McKenzie who advises wealthy Chinese migrating to Australia."
Security

Australian Cops and Anti-Corruption Agencies Keen On Hacking Team Malware 27 27

Bismillah writes: Although they've denied it in the past, Australia's federal and state police are very interested in Hacking Team's law enforcement spyware. There has also been recent interest from the Victoria state anti-corruption agency IBAC, leaked HT emails show. ITNews reports: "Emails leaked by attackers who infiltrated the systems of spyware provider Hacking Team this week reveal the Australian Federal Police was not the only local agency interested in the firm's suite of surveillance tools. Analysis of the leaked emails by iTnews reveals a number of agencies - including ASIO, IBAC and two local police forces - were also interested in the company's spyware."
Mars

Interviews: Ask Shaun Moss About Mars and Colonizing Space 99 99

samzenpus writes: Shaun Moss is a computer scientist with a 15-year passion for Mars. While reading Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson in 1999 Shaun realized that people would go to Mars in his lifetime, and he decided he wanted to be part of that. Since then he has been an active member of a variety of space enthusiast groups, including the Mars Society and Mars Society Australia. Shaun is also the founder of the Mars Settlement Research Organization. His research has included how to make air and steel on Mars, Martian timekeeping systems, terraforming and more, and he has given numerous presentations at conferences in Australia and the United States. For the past 1.5 years he has been developing a robust and affordable humans-to-Mars mission architecture and a plan to establish an International Mars Research Station, which is now available as a book. Shaun has agreed to answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Australia

Aussie Telco Caught Handing Over User Mobile Numbers To Websites Without Consent 35 35

AlbanX writes: Australian telco Optus has been nabbed passing its customers' mobile phone numbers to third-party websites without the customers' knowledge or consent. The practice, known as HTTP header enrichment, aims to streamline the process of direct billing for customers, but they're not happy. The discovery was made by a user on the telco forum Whirlpool, and Optus confirmed it. They said, "Optus adds our customers' mobile number to the information in select circumstances where we have a commercial relationship with owners of particular websites."
Censorship

Australia Passes Site-Blocking Legislation 57 57

ausrob writes: Cementing their position as Australia's most backwards and dangerous government in recent memory comes this nasty bit of legislation, riddled with holes (which is nothing new for this decrepit Government): "The legislation allows rights holders to go to a Federal Court judge to get overseas websites, or "online locations", blocked that have the "primary purpose" of facilitating copyright infringement. If a rights holder is successful in their blocking request, Australian internet providers, such as Telstra and Optus, will need to comply with a judge's order by disabling access to the infringing location." Adds reader Gumbercules!! links to another story on the legislation, writing: Aside from the sheer inefficiency of trying to spot piracy by blocking individual sites, there's also the risk that servers which house other, more legitimate sites, will be caught up in the net. Unsurprisingly, the bill does nothing to remedy the fact that Australians pay far more for access to media than other places in the World or that media is often not available or extremely delayed, here.
Censorship

In 6 Months, Australia Bans More Than 240 Games 136 136

dotarray writes with this snippet from (apropos) Player Attack: In the 20 years from 1995 to January 2015, there were 77 games Refused Classification in Australia. After January though, more than 240 games have been effectively banned by the Classification Board — an average of 40 per month. Most of these games are mobile- or digital-only releases you're unlikely to have ever heard of, with names like League Of Guessing, 'w21wdf AB test,' Sniper 3D Assault Zombie, Measure Bra Size Prank, and Virtual Marijuana Smoking showing up in just the first few pages. What games are banned in your country?
Network

June 30th Leap Second Could Trigger Unexpected Issues 233 233

dkatana writes: On January 31, 2013, approximately 400 milliseconds before the official release of the EIA Natural Gas Report, trading activity exploded in Natural Gas Futures. It is believed that was the result of some fast computer trading systems being programmed to act, and have a one-second advance access to the report. On June 30th a leap second will be added to the Network Time Protocol (NTP) to keep it synchronized with the slowly lengthening solar day. In this article, Charles Babcock gives a detailed account of the issues, and some disturbing possibilities: The last time a second needed to be added to the day was on June 30, 2012. For Qantas Airlines in Australia, it was a memorable event. Its systems, including flight reservations, went down for two hours as internal system clocks fell out of synch with external clocks.

The original author of the NTP protocol, Prof. David Mills at the University of Delaware, set a direct and simple way to add the second: Count the last second of June 30 twice, using a special notation on the second count for the record. Google will use a different approach: Over a 20-hour period on June 30, Google will add a couple of milliseconds to each of its NTP servers' updates. By the end of the day, a full second has been added. As the NTP protocol and Google timekeepers enter the first second of July, their methods may differ, but they both agree on the time.

But that could also be problematic. In adding a second to its NTP servers in 2005, Google ran into timekeeping problems on some of its widely distributed systems. The Mills sleight-of-hand was confusing to some of its clusters, as they fell out of synch with NTP time. Does Google's smear approach make more sense to you, or does Mills's idea of counting the last second twice work better? Do you have a better idea of how to handle this?
Australia

Drone Racing Poised To Go Mainstream 98 98

New submitter Strepto writes: Using video cameras and special goggles or screens, First Person View has been a thing in the RC world for a while. In the last couple of years though, mini quadcopters have taken things to a whole new level, and the inevitable racing has begun to happen with these incredibly quick and agile little machines.

A recent event in Melbourne, Australia, was covered by various media including the ABC, Gizmag and Mashable. Our little media race (first and last place videos here) went down well, but there are still a number of regulatory barriers to jump in Australia and overseas. It's hard to judge public perception though. I was just wondering what the Slashdot crew thinks about this; does it look dangerous, irresponsible or just plain cool? What do you think the future holds?
Australia

Australian ISPs Will Be Forced To Block (Some) Pirate Websites 45 45

angry tapir writes: Senators representing Australia's two main political blocs have issued a report backing a bill that will allow copyright holders to apply for a court order forcing ISPs to block access to piracy-linked websites. The proposed law has met with a less-than-enthusiastic from anti-censorship activists and consumer advocates. Even the federal parliament's human rights committee has been concerned about whether the law is a proportionate response to piracy.
Medicine

Man With the "Golden Arm" Has Saved Lives of 2 Million Babies 97 97

schwit1 writes: James Harrison, known as "The Man with the Golden Arm," has donated blood plasma from his right arm nearly every week for the past 60 years. Soon after Harrison became a donor, doctors called him in. His blood, they said, could be the answer to a deadly problem. Harrison was discovered to have an unusual antibody in his blood and in the 1960s he worked with doctors to use the antibodies to develop an injection called Anti-D. It prevents women with rhesus-negative blood from developing RhD antibodies during pregnancy. "In Australia, up until about 1967, there were literally thousands of babies dying each year, doctors didn't know why, and it was awful," explains Jemma Falkenmire, of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. "Women were having numerous miscarriages and babies were being born with brain damage." It was the result of rhesus disease — a condition where a pregnant woman's blood actually starts attacking her unborn baby's blood cells. In the worst cases it can result in brain damage, or death, for the babies. Australia was one of the first countries to discover a blood donor with this antibody, so it was quite revolutionary at the time. Last year we ran a story about another person with "golden blood" named Thomas.
Programming

Australia's Prime Minister Doesn't Get Why Kids Should Learn To Code 306 306

New submitter Gob Gob writes: The Prime Minister of Australia has come out and ridiculed an opposition policy aimed at teaching kids to code. In response to the leader of the Labor Party's question about whether he would commit to supporting Labor's push to have coding taught in every primary school in Australia, the Prime Minister said: "He said that he wants primary school kids to be taught coding so they can get the jobs of the future. Does he want to send them all out to work at the age of 11? Is that what he wants to do? Seriously?"
Hardware Hacking

Video Glowforge is a CNC Laser Cutter, not a 3D Printer (Video) 45 45

Co-Founder and CEO Dan Shapiro says, right at the beginning of the interview, that the Glowforge machine is a CNC laser cutter and engraver, not a 3-D Printer. He says they've "simplified the heck" out of the hardware and software, and are making an easy-to-use, non-costly ($2500 has been bandied about as the unit's likely price) device that can fit on a kitchen table -- or, more likely, a workbench at a maker facility. Although Dan did very well on Kickstarter (and afterwards) with his previous venture, Robot Turtles, this time he seems to have raised his first $9 million in the venture capital market, with participation from several MakerBot executives.

Glowforge is not the only CNC laser cutter/etcher device out there (or about to be). In Australia, Darkly Labs appears to have raised $569,397 (AUD) on Kickstarter to bring their LazerBlade to life, and already makes a small laser device called the Emblaser. There are others, too, including Boxzy, which did the Kickstarter thing and will now sell you a device that "rapidly transforms into 3 kinds of machines: CNC Mill, 3D Printer & Laser Engraver while enhancing precision & power with ballscrews." All this, and their top-of-the-line "does everything" machine sells for a mere $3500. Obviously, devices to give makers and prototypers the ability to make ever more complex and accurate shapes are coming to market like crazy. We'll continue to keep an eye on all this activity, including a second video interview with Glowforge's Dan Shapiro tomorrow.
The Media

How a Scientist Fooled Millions With Bizarre Chocolate Diet Claims 260 260

__roo writes: Did you know chocolate helps you lose weight? You can read all about this great news for chocoholics in the Daily Star, Daily Express, Irish Examiner, and TV shows in Texas and Australia, and even the front page of Bild, Europe's largest daily newspaper. The problem is that it's not true. A researcher who previously worked with Science to do a sting operation on fee-charging open access journals ran a real—but obviously flawed—study rigged to generate false positives, paid €600 to get it published in a fee-charging open access journal, set up a website for a fake institute, and issued press releases to feed the ever-hungry pool of nutrition journalists. The doctor who ran the trial had the idea to use chocolate, because it's a favorite of the "whole food" fanatics. "Bitter chocolate tastes bad, therefore it must be good for you. It's like a religion."