Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.
the_newsbeagle writes "To study the mysterious phenomena of dark matter and dark energy, astronomers are turning to supercomputers that can simulate the entire evolution of the universe. One such simulation, the Bolshoi projection, recently did a complete run-through. It started with the state the universe was in around 13.7 billion years ago (not long after the Big Bang) and modeled the evolution of dark matter and energy up to the present day. The run used 14,000 CPUs on NASA's fastest supercomputer."
martypantsROK writes "After nearly seven years of living abroad, I'm planning to return to the U.S. in early 2013. Last time I lived there, smart phones weren't out yet. Dropped calls were common, and poor reception (can you hear me now?) was an ad campaign. I'm used to South Korea's wicked speeds, both for internet and wireless networks, and I'm wondering what the Slashdot community believes to be best carrier in the U.S. Which is fastest? Which offers the best deal for lots of data? Nationwide roaming and coverage? Prices? Service?"
nk497 writes "When Paul Otellini announced Ultrabooks last year, he predicted they would grab 40% of the laptop market by this year. One analyst firm has said Ultrabooks will only make up 5% of the market this year, slashing its own sales predictions from 22m this year to 10.3m. However, IHS iSuppli said that Ultrabooks have a chance at success if manufacturers get prices down between $600 to $700 — a discount of as much as $400 on the average selling price of the devices — and they could still grab a third of the laptop market by 2016."
coondoggie writes "Researchers with the Sandia National Laboratory have tied together 300,000 virtual Android-based devices in an effort to study the security and reliability of large smartphone networks. The Android project, dubbed MegaDroid, is carefully insulated from other networks at the Labs and the outside world, but can be built up into a realistic computing environment, the researchers stated."
SchrodingerZ writes "With the price of gold skyrocketing in today's market, Michigan State University researchers have discovered a bacterium that can withstand high toxicity levels that are necessary to create natural gold. '"Microbial alchemy is what we're doing — transforming gold from something that has no value into a solid, precious metal that's valuable," said Kazem Kashefi, assistant professor of microbiology and molecular genetics.' The bacteria is Cupriavidus metallidurans, which is conditioned to be tolerant to heavy, toxic metals and to be 25 times stronger than most bacteria. When put into gold-chloride (a natural forming toxic liquid), the bacteria reproduces and converts the liquid into a gold nugget. The complete process takes about a week to perform. This experiment is currently on tour as an art exhibit called 'The Great Work of the Metal Lover.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has just announced the winner of the SHA-3 competition: Keccak, created by Guido Bertoni, Joan Daemen and Gilles Van Assche of STMicroelectronics and Michaël Peeters of NXP Semiconductors. 'Keccak has the added advantage of not being vulnerable in the same ways SHA-2 might be,' says NIST computer security expert Tim Polk. 'An attack that could work on SHA-2 most likely would not work on Keccak because the two algorithms are designed so differently.' For Joan Daemen it must be a 'two in a row' feeling, since he also is one of the authors of AES."
pigrabbitbear writes "Created by four New York University students, Diaspora tried to destroy the notion that one social network could completely dominate the web. Diaspora – 'the privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network,' as described on their Kickstarter page – offered what seemed like the perfect antidote to Zuckerbergian tyranny. The New York Times quickly got wind. Tired of being bullied, technologists rallied behind the burgeoning startup spectacle, transforming what began as a fun project into a political movement. Before a single line of code had been written, Diaspora was a sensation. Its anti-establishment rallying cry and garage hacker ethos earned it kudos from across an Internet eager for signs of life among a generation grown addicted to status updates. And yet, the battle may have been lost before it even began. Beyond the difficulty of actually executing a project of this scope and magnitude, the team of four young kids with little real-world programming experience found themselves crushed under the weight of expectation. Even before they had tried to produce an actual product, bloggers, technologists and open-source geeks everywhere were already looking to them to save the world from tyranny and oppression. Not surprisingly, the first release, on September 15, 2010 was a public disaster, mainly for its bugs and security holes. Former fans mockingly dismissed it as 'swiss cheese.'"
Gunkerty Jeb writes "Researchers working on the 'physically unclonable functions found in standard PC components (PUFFIN) project' announced last week that widely used graphics processors could be the next step in online authentication. The project seeks to find uniquely identifiable characteristics of hardware in common computers, mobile devices, laptops and consumer electronics. The researchers realized that apparently identical graphics processors are actually different in subtle, unforgeable ways. A piece of software developed by the researchers is capable of discerning these fine differences. The order of magnitude of these differences is so minute, in fact, that manufacturing equipment is incapable of manipulating or replicating them. Thus, the fine-grained manufacturing differences can act as a sort of a key to reliably distinguish each of the processors from one another. The implication of this discovery is that such differences can be used as physically unclonable features to securely link the graphics cards, and by extension, the computers in which they reside and the persons using them, to specific online accounts."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Current rumor suggests that Apple is gearing up to unveil its iPad Mini Oct. 17, with invitations to media arriving Oct. 10. That's according to Fortune, which obtained the information from an unnamed Apple investor who, in turn, heard those dates from other unnamed sources. While that attribution might prove a bit too vaporous for some people, it does align with earlier reports from AllThingsD that Apple is planning to reveal a smaller iPad sometime in October. If those rumors prove accurate, the unveiling of an iPad Mini in that timeframe could prove very bad news for the upcoming Windows 8 tablets. (Gizmodo offers a pretty complete rumor rundown on the iPad Mini's possible features here.) Unlike the traditional PC market, Microsoft doesn't dominate the market for mobile-device operating systems. Windows 7 tablets never gained much of a toehold among tablet users, who prefer iPads and Android-based devices by wide margins. When it comes to Windows 8 (and Windows RT, the version of next-generation Windows for ARM architecture), Microsoft is starting out as the underdog."
Lasrick writes "Private security contractors strike again, this time at the Y-12 National Security Complex. A nun, a gardener, and a housepainter cut through three security fences to find themselves 20 feet away from highly dangerous nuclear material. And of course, only one guard has been fired (the one who arguably acted the bravest and did the right thing). A Department of Energy report (PDF) on the incident found 'troubling displays of ineptitude in responding to alarms, failures to maintain critical 2 security equipment, over reliance on compensatory measures, misunderstanding of security protocols, poor communications, and weaknesses in contract and resource management.' The contractors have been put on notice, (PDF), but they still have the contracts."
Dr Herbert West writes "The phrase 'correlation does not imply causation' goes back to 1880 (according to Google Books). However, use of the phrase took off in the 1990s and 2000s, and is becoming a quick way to short-circuit certain kinds of arguments. In the late 19th century, British statistician Karl Pearson introduced a powerful idea in math: that a relationship between two variables could be characterized according to its strength and expressed in numbers. An exciting concept, but it raised a new issue: how to interpret the data in a way that is helpful, rather than misleading. When we mistake correlation for causation, we find a cause that isn't there, which is a problem. However, as science grows more powerful and government more technocratic, the stakes of correlation — of counterfeit relationships and bogus findings — grow larger."
another random user sends this quote from the BBC: "A temporary sales ban on Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet computer in the U.S. has been lifted by a U.S. court. District Judge Lucy Koh gave a court order rescinding a ban on U.S. sales that was part of a patent dispute with Apple. ... The ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 had been placed before a month-long patent trial between Apple and Samsung. In August, at the conclusion of that trial Apple was awarded a victory on many of its patent violation claims where it said Samsung had copied Apple's iPhone and iPad designs. It was also awarded more than $1bn (£664m) in damages. However, the jury found that Samsung had not violated the patent that was the basis for the ban on the sale of the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Samsung, therefore, argued for the sales ban to be lifted." Samsung also went on the offensive against the iPhone 5 today, filing a motion to add the device to its ongoing patent infringement suit against Apple. Meanwhile, on another front, some good news for Apple: Motorola Mobility, owned by Google, has withdrawn its second complaint against Apple to the ITC. The complaint was filed in August over patent infringement claims involving several minor features. No explanation has been provided for the withdrawal, but Google indicated there was no agreement between the companies.
ananyo writes "One of the largest-ever studies of retractions has found that two-thirds of retracted life-sciences papers were stricken from the scientific record because of misconduct such as fraud or suspected fraud — and that journals sometimes soft-pedal the reason. The study contradicts the conventional view that most retractions of papers in scientific journals are triggered by unintentional errors. The survey examined all 2,047 articles in the PubMed database that had been marked as retracted by 3 May this year. But rather than taking journals' retraction notices at face value, as previous analyses have done, the study used secondary sources to pin down the reasons for retraction if the notices were incomplete or vague. The analysis revealed that fraud or suspected fraud was responsible for 43% of the retractions. Other types of misconduct — duplicate publication and plagiarism — accounted for 14% and 10% of retractions, respectively. Only 21% of the papers were retracted because of error (abstract)."
It took Dr. Adam Blankespoor two years and $14,000 to convert his 1996 Honda Civic into an all-electric plug-in vehicle. He's an automotive engineer and researcher, but if he can do it, you can probably follow in his footsteps and create your own electric vehicle if you are so inclined. He talks about a 45 mile range, with 30 miles as a practical limit. That's not competitive with the Tesla S, but there's also a massive price difference to consider. This is another person Slashdot met at the Ann Arbor Maker Faire. If you want to see what kinds of electric vehicles other have made, possibly for inspiration, the Electric Vehicle Photo Album is a good place to start. And if you want information on how to build your own electric car, using "electric car conversion" as your Google search term will put you on the track of more electric car information than you can shake a Tesla Coil at.
I recently sat down with one of our co-founders, Jeff "hemos" Bates, to talk about Slashdot's 15th anniversary and the world of niche news. Because history was involved, Jeff had a lot to say about the growth of specialized news and the partisanship that groups make. Bates contends that what's old is new when it comes to media, and that people would rather be right than get along. Below you'll find a condensed version of his treatise on niche media and communities.