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Posts tagged as: clever
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Saturday, May 10, 2008
‘The Church of Scientology has lost its grip on James Packer.
The billionaire’s closest friends have revealed that he has quietly distanced himself from Scientology, labelled a cult by some former members, as it faces international controversy about its anti-psychiatry stance.
Members of Mr Packer’s inner circle have confirmed that the billionaire, who had ranked as Scientology’s wealthiest member in the world, was no longer undertaking Scientology courses and had slowly moved away from the religion, telling his closest friends he no longer “needs it”.’
Friday, May 9, 2008
‘Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) stepped in front of a group of tech executives in Washington this morning to deliver a caffeinated and surprisingly sharp defense of network neutrality. Pledging to use “every ounce of my energy to protect network neutrality,” Wyden had a message for ISPs who might be pondering new charges for various forms of access: “think twice.” If ISPs start down that road, they might soon find that they lose key legal protections including “safe harbors” and tax freedom.
Wyden delivered his ultimatum at a Computer & Communications Industry Association conference in DC, where he cast the entire network neutrality debate in terms of a legislative compromise. Years ago, Congress began protecting ISPs from the twin threats of regulation and taxation; in return, ISPs were expected to deliver an unimpeded connection to the Internet. A move away from a neutral ‘Net would undermine the “very philosophical underpinnings of what we fought for for the last 15 years,” according to Wyden. If that happens, he sees no reason for Congress to continue sheltering ISPs.’
Friday, May 2, 2008
‘Researchers at HP Labs have built the first working prototypes of an important new electronic component that may lead to instant-on PCs as well as analog computers that process information the way the human brain does.
The new component is called a memristor, or memory resistor. Up until today, the circuit element had only been described in a series of mathematical equations written by Leon Chua, who in 1971 was an engineering student studying non-linear circuits. Chua knew the circuit element should exist — he even accurately outlined its properties and how it would work. Unfortunately, neither he nor the rest of the engineering community could come up with a physical manifestation that matched his mathematical expression.
Thirty-seven years later, a group of scientists from HP Labs has finally built real working memristors, thus adding a fourth basic circuit element to electrical circuit theory, one that will join the three better-known ones: the capacitor, resistor and the inductor.’
Sunday, April 20, 2008
‘In what marks an important step towards helping lunar colonists grow their own food, a Ukrainian team, working with the European Space Agency, ESA, has shown that marigolds can grow in crushed rock very like the lunar surface, with no need for plant food.
The research was presented at the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, by Dr Bernard Foing of ESA, director of the International Lunar Exploration Working Group, and father of the SMART-1 moon probe, who believes it is an important milestone because it does away with the need to bring bringing nutrients and soil from Earth.
He has worked with Natasha Kozyrovska and Iryna Zaetz from the Ukranian Academy of Sciences in Kiev, who planted marigolds in crushed anorthosite, a type of rock found on Earth which is very similar to lunar soil, called regolith.
They did not grow well until the team added different types of bacteria, which made them thrive; the bacteria appeared to leach elements from the rock that the plants needed, such as potassium.’
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
‘A 13-year-old German schoolboy corrected NASA’s estimates on the chances of an asteroid colliding with Earth, a German newspaper reported Tuesday, after spotting the boffins had miscalculated.
Nico Marquardt used telescopic findings from the Institute of Astrophysics in Potsdam (AIP) to calculate that there was a 1 in 450 chance that the Apophis asteroid will collide with Earth, the Potsdamer Neuerster Nachrichten reported.
NASA had previously estimated the chances at only 1 in 45,000 but told its sister organisation, the European Space Agency (ESA), that the young whizzkid had got it right. [..]
Both NASA and Marquardt agree that if the asteroid does collide with earth, it will create a ball of iron and iridium 320 metres (1049 feet) wide and weighing 200 billion tonnes, which will crash into the Atlantic Ocean.
The shockwaves from that would create huge tsunami waves, destroying both coastlines and inland areas, whilst creating a thick cloud of dust that would darken the skies indefinitely.’
Followup to The Asteroid Threat is Out There.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
‘Will Foster never has too much trouble getting a parking spot for his second vehicle.
After all, who’s going to argue with a guy driving a half-scale Panzer tank complete with a working air cannon?
“I took it home, driving it around in this white picket fence neighborhood and one of the neighbors called the cops on us,” said Foster, a Kettering University student who began building the tank from scratch nearly two years ago.
“(Police) came and they just told us to head back home, but they were also laughing at it because they had never seen anything like that before.” [..]
Roughly the size of a small car, Foster’s tank can reach speeds of around 20 mph with its three-cylinder diesel engine. Just like the real thing, the tank runs on treads and has a 360-degree cannon powered by compressed air from a scuba tank.’
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‘According to reports, authorities in Belgium have seized documents, financial records and computer equipment form the local branch of the Church of Scientology (Church) and then sealed off the building.
The reports state that the Church in Belgium is being investigated for extortion and fraud for allegedly posting false job openings in newspapers and then attempting to get those who applied to join the Church. Several ex-members of the Church has also reportedly approached authorities with accusations of intimidation and extortion.
Police in Belgium have been investigating the Church for nearly ten years prior to this raid.
In a statement to the press, the Church says that the police “violated their fundamental rights” as a religious organization and accused the police of “malicious justice operations.” The Church plans to contest any charges filed against it. They also state that the postings were requests for volunteers and not employees.’
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
‘Powerful infection-fighting proteins found in alligator blood could help fight HIV and antibiotic-resistant ‘superbugs’ in humans, suggests new American research.
Scientists who successfully extracted the active proteins from alligators’ white blood cells have found that these kill a wide variety of bacteria, fungi and viruses. The findings were presented over the weekend at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans.
“We’re very excited about the potential of these alligator blood proteins as both antibacterial and antifungal agents,” says Mark Merchant, principal investigator at McNeese State University in Louisiana, USA, and co-author of the study. “There’s a very real possibility that you could be treated with an alligator blood product one day.”‘
Sunday, March 30, 2008
‘I suppose you were windsurfing. I’ve never seen anyone windsurf with a porch umbrella for a sail, boldly charging across the bay like a cross between Admiral Nelson and Mary Poppins. I was amazed — you didn’t just sail downwind, I swear I saw you tacking. You, sir, are my hero. I wanted to tell you so, but alas, I was on the shore. I had so many questions. No, I really only had one question (why?) but it seemed like a really, really good question. Every time I went back, I hoped to see you again, Umbrella Man, but alas, I have not seen you since. Should you happen to read this, could I trouble you for the story behind your brave voyage?’
‘According to the standard model of physics, matter and antimatter were created in equal quantities shortly after the Big Bang. The two types of particles should have thus cancelled each other out and the universe should be permeated by energy.
But as our existence attests, that did not happen. Experiments suggests the universe today is composed of about 75 per cent dark energy, 20 per cent dark matter, and five per cent matter/antimatter, with the overwhelming bulk of the latter consisting of normal matter.
A major mystery of modern physics is why normal matter particles are the building blocks of the observable universe. Why are we not made of antimatter? Or pure energy? Scientists speculate that a tiny imbalance in the early universe allowed a small fraction of normal matter – one particle for every one billion – to avoid annihilation and survive to form stars, planets, and humans.’
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
‘Less than a week after losing in the latest U.S. spectrum auction, Google Inc. has started pitching its plan to use TV “white space” — unlicensed and unused airwaves — to provide wireless Internet.
In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission released by Google on Monday, the Internet search giant pressed the government to open up the white space for unlicensed use in hopes of enabling more widespread, affordable Internet access over the airwaves.
“As Google has pointed out previously, the vast majority of viable spectrum in this country simply goes unused, or else is grossly underutilized,” Richard Whitt, Google’s Washington telecom and media lawyer, wrote in the letter. “Unlike other natural resources, there is no benefit to allowing this spectrum to lie fallow.”
Google said the white space, located between channels 2 and 51 on TV sets that aren’t hooked up to satellite or cable services, offer a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide ubiquitous wireless broadband access to all Americans.”
In addition, opening up the spectrum would “enable much-needed competition to the incumbent broadband service providers,” Whitt wrote.’
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
‘A German lorry driver escaped a rap for driving while using a mobile phone – after claiming he was using it as an ear warmer.
A court in Hamm accepted Walter Klein’s claims that he had been using the phone which was warm after being recharged to warm his ears.
It means he had not broken the law which says drivers can only make phone calls with a hands free set.
Klein, 43, told the court: “I had an earache and it was being made worse because the cab had not heated up yet – it takes a while on a big rig. [..]’
Sunday, March 16, 2008
‘In 2005, just 45% of the fifth-graders at Ramona Elementary School in Hollywood scored at grade level on a standardized state test. In 2006, that figure rose to 76%. What was the difference?
If you answered 31 percentage points, you are correct. You could also express it as a 69% increase.
But there is another, more intriguing answer: The difference between the two years may have been Singapore math.
At the start of the 2005-06 school year, Ramona began using textbooks developed for use in Singapore, a Southeast Asian city-state whose pupils consistently rank No. 1 in international math comparisons. Ramona’s math scores soared.
“It’s wonderful,” said Principal Susan Arcaris. “Seven out of 10 of the students in our school are proficient or better in math, and that’s pretty startling when you consider that this is an inner-city, Title 1 school.”‘
‘A playful New Zealand dolphin used to swimming with humans has amazed conservationists by guiding two distressed whales back to sea.
The dolphin led the two pygmy sperm whales 200 metres along the beach and through a channel to the open sea, Department of Conservation worker Malcolm Smith said today.
The two whales, a mother and her young calf, were found stranded on Mahia Beach, on North Island’s east coast on Monday morning, Smith said. [..]
“They obviously couldn’t find their way back past it to the sea,” Smith said.
Four attempts by volunteers to refloat the pair failed and it was becoming highly likely they would have to be euthanised, he said.
Then the dolphin, named Moko by local residents, swam up.’
Friday, March 7, 2008
‘Rufus Terrill has had it with the drug dealers, petty thieves and vandals he says roam the streets outside his downtown Atlanta bar, O’Terrills.
But instead of calling the police or hiring private security guards, Terrill reached for his toolbox.
He mounted an old meat smoker atop a three-wheel scooter and attached a spotlight, an infrared camera, water cannon and a loudspeaker. He covered the contraption with impact-resistant rubber and painted the whole thing jet black.
And so was born what surely must be Atlanta’s first remote-controlled, robotic vigilante. [..]
He flashes the robot’s spotlight and grabs a walkie-talkie, which he uses to boom his disembodied voice over the robot’s sound system.
“I tell them they are trespassing, it’s private property, and they have to leave,” he said. “They throw bottles and cans at it. That’s when I shoot the water cannon. They just scatter like roaches.” [..]
Terrill insists he’s not a kook, that he’s serious about using his robot to fight crime.’
‘Every night Joe Weston-Webb loads chicken droppings into a 30ft catapult and primes a cannon that used to fire his wife with a railway sleeper, all in the name of security.
The ex-showman wheeled out old props in a desperate bid to protect his business from arsonists. [..]
Mr Weston-Webb, 70, has rigged up Britain’s biggest anti-burglar device after being targeted by vandalism, break-ins and even an arson attack.
But police have told him he will be prosecuted if he unleashes the wrath of the 30ft-tall Roman catapult – filled with chicken poo collected from a nearby farm – on any yobs he catches on his property.
The businessman has even put up a sign outside his property reading: “WARNING. These premises are protected by Smart Poo and railway sleeper projectiles.”‘
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
‘Australian scientists have developed a computer chip that promises to remove the wires from your home entertainment system.
The chip was developed by National Information Computer Technology Australia (NICTA) at the University of Melbourne, and could appear in a range of electronic devices including laptops, televisions and home entertainment systems.
NICTA chief executive officer Dr David Skellern said the team had to overcome significant challenges in developing the chip. [..]
The chip uses the unlicensed 57-64 gigahertz frequency band to transmit and receive data.
It can transfer data at speeds of up to five gigabits per second within a range of 10 metres. This would allow the wireless transfer of the entire contents of a DVD in less than five seconds, 20 times faster than the current Wi-Fi standard.’
‘It has always been impossible to clearly photograph electrons since their extremely high velocities have produced blurry pictures. In order to capture these rapid events, extremely short flashes of light are necessary, but such flashes were not previously available.
With the use of a newly developed technology for generating short pulses from intense laser light, so-called attosecond pulses, scientists at the Lund University Faculty of Engineering in Sweden have managed to capture the electron motion for the first time.
The movie shows how an electron rides on a light wave after just having been pulled away from an atom. This is the first time an electron has ever been filmed, and the results are presented in the latest issue of Physical Review Letters.’
Friday, February 22, 2008
‘The “Cult of the Dead Cow” hacker group – cDc for short – has published a tool that searches for vulnerabilities and private information across the web. Using well-chosen Google search queries, Goolag Scan discovers links to vulnerable web applications, back doors, or documents inadvertently put on the internet that contain sensitive information.
This kind of “Google hacking” is already well known: a hacker using the pseudonym Johnny has already published quite a collection of these “Google Hacks” or “Google Dorks” on his web site ihackstuff. What cDc has done is create an automated tool that allows an unskilled hacker to use these same techniques. [..]
Goolag Scan is cDc’s latest attempt to rub salt into the wound. “Private individuals, firms, and even governments are putting more and more stuff on the web, and nobody cares what it means for security”, explained cDc member Oxblood Ruffin to heise Security. cDc says it is publishing this tool now to let everyone check their own web site for vulnerabilities, and do something about them.’
Thursday, February 21, 2008
‘This dude hacks the jumbo screen at Utrecht Central Station to announce train cancellations and prank bystanders.’
This is the same guy from Kids Hack German Highway Signs.
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Wednesday, February 20, 2008
‘Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia, is refusing to remove medieval artistic depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, despite being flooded with complaints from Muslims demanding the images be deleted.
More than 180,000 worldwide have joined an online protest claiming the images, shown on European-language pages and taken from Persian and Ottoman miniatures dating from the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, are offensive to Islam, which prohibits any representation of Muhammad. But the defiant editors of the encyclopaedia insist they will not bow to pressure and say anyone objecting to the controversial images can simply adjust their computers so they do not have to look at them.’
Sunday, February 17, 2008
‘Scientists at Canada’s McGill University have discovered a way to boost an organism’s natural anti-virus defenses, effectively making its cells immune to influenza and other viruses. In effect, this makes the cells immune to flu and other viruses.
The researchers performed their study with mice, and knocked out two key genes that repress production of interferon. Without these repressor genes, the mouse cells produced much higher levels of interferon, which effectively blocked viruses from reproducing. The researchers tested the process on influenza virus, encephalomyocarditis virus, vesicular stomatitis virus and Sindbis virus.
“People have been worried for years about potential new viral pandemics, such as avian influenzas,” Dr. Sonenberg, the study’s lead author, said in a press release issued by McGill University. “If we might now have the means to develop a new therapy to fight flu, the potential is huge.”‘
Friday, February 15, 2008
‘Newspapers across Europe Wednesday reprinted the controversial cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed that sparked worldwide protests two years ago.
The cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed provoked widespread outrage in the Muslim world two years ago.
The move came one day after Danish authorities arrested three people allegedly plotting a “terror-related assassination” of Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist behind the drawing.
Berlingske Tidende, was one of the newspapers involved in the republication by newspapers in Denmark. It said: “We are doing this to document what is at stake in this case, and to unambiguously back and support the freedom of speech that we as a newspaper always will defend,” in comments reported by The Associated Press.’
‘During the week of December 17 – 19, 2007, Lakota Indian leaders traveled to Washington DC and withdrew from the constitutionally mandated treaties to become a free and independent country. They do so in a fully honest, legal, and ethical manner.
“We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us,” long-time Indian rights activist Russell Means told a handful of reporters and a delegation from the Bolivian embassy. All were gathered in a church in a run-down neighborhood of Washington for a news conference. In other words, the Republic of Lakota is now inviting everyone within their country borders to join them and to live free and create a new government based on the laws of brotherhood.’
Thursday, February 7, 2008
‘No matter how many times you shot a unicorn, they’re sure to stumble off into the bushes and make one last agony-filled run for the fabled gates of their pastel pink homelands. As long as you put enough holes in your unicorns heart and lungs (click here for a shootin’ diagram), you’ve got nothing to worry about: your unicorn will die coughing up it’s own blood not far from where you capped him. When you find a unicorn you’ve shot, don’t get all excited and run over to touch. The first rule is that unicorns are tricky bitches and often fake death just to lure you within impaling range. To avoid this common and undesirable hunter’s fate, pump a couple of rounds into your unicorn’s torso (just don’t hit the horn!). After a couple of safety shots, take a sharp stick and jab it into the unicorn’s eyeball. If the unicorn doesn’t move, congrats, you’ve killed him! If the unicorn still thrashed and makes nasty noises, shot, poke and repeat as many times as necessary.’