daveschroeder writes "In the wake of previous coverage alleging that Apple, Nokia, RIM, and others have provided Indian government with backdoors into their mobile handsets — which itself spawned a US investigation and questions about handset security — it turns out the memo which ignited the controversy is probably a fake designed to draw attention to the "Lords of Dharmaraja." According to Reuters, "Military and cyber-security experts in India say the hackers may have created the purported military intelligence memo simply to draw attention to their work, or to taint relations between close allies India and the United States." Apple has already denied providing access to the Indian government."
astroengine writes "Last year, using the exoplanets discovered by the Kepler space telescope as a guide, astronomers took a statistical stab at estimating the number of exoplanets that exist in our galaxy. They came up with at least 50 billion alien worlds. Today, astronomers from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md., and the PLANET (Probing Lensing Anomalies NETwork) collaboration have taken their own stab at the 'galactic exo-planetary estimate' and think there are at least 100 billion worlds knocking around the Milky Way."
itwbennett writes "The announcement earlier this week that AT&T joined OpenStack was greeted with much fanfare (of the 'woo hoo for open source' variety). But dig into why AT&T decided to sign up for OpenStack and things get a lot more interesting. 'AT&T is about to take on Amazon's EC2 and S2 cloud services, and OpenStack's technology is going to be the engine that drives it,' writes blogger Brian Profit. 'Leaving aside the potential problems for user privacy here — and oh, there are many to be addressed to be sure — a plan such as this would represent a stunning coup for AT&T, since they would be able to provide the one thing Apple and Google have not been able to have in their respective plans to own the entire stack: the network on which all communications must flow.'"
An anonymous reader writes "U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio has sanctioned Paul Ceglia, a man that claims he owns half Facebook, and ordered him to pay $5,000 to the court. The judge also ordered Ceglia to pay for part of Facebook's attorney fees and expenses, an amount which will likely be much higher. The social networking giant hopes to have Ceglia's lawsuit dismissed early this year."
ambermichelle pointed out a story about the search for life on other planets, and the likelihood that it would be much different than what we find on Earth. With the increase of extremophile discovery in recent years perhaps it's time to reassess what the definition of "life" should be. "In November 2011, NASA launched its biggest, most ambitious mission to Mars. The $2.5 billion Mars Science Lab spacecraft will arrive in orbit around the Red Planet this August, releasing a lander that will use rockets to control a slow descent into the atmosphere. Equipped with a 'sky crane,' the lander will gently lower the one-ton Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars. Curiosity, which weighs five times more than any previous Martian rover, will perform an unprecedented battery of tests for three months as it scoops up soil from the floor of the 96-mile-wide Gale Crater. Its mission, NASA says, will be to 'assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life.' For all the spectacular engineering that's gone into Curiosity, however, its goal is actually quite modest. When NASA says it wants to find out if Mars was ever suitable for life, they use a very circumscribed version of the word. They are looking for signs of liquid water, which all living things on Earth need. They are looking for organic carbon, which life on Earth produces and, in some cases, can feed on to survive. In other words, they're looking on Mars for the sorts of conditions that support life on Earth. But there's no good reason to assume that all life has to be like the life we're familiar with. In 2007, a board of scientists appointed by the National Academies of Science decided they couldn't rule out the possibility that life might be able to exist without water or carbon. If such weird life on Mars exists, Curiosity will probably miss it."
bednarz writes "IBM retained its patent crown for 2011, topping the list of patent winners for the 19th year in a row. The only other U.S. company to make the top 10, Microsoft, fell from third place to sixth place, according to IFI Claims Patent Services' list of the top 50 U.S. patent assignees. HP and Intel fell out of the top 10 and landed 14th and 16th, respectively. Apple moved up to No. 39 after breaking into the top 50 for the first time last year. Asian firms account for 25 of the top 50, and U.S. firms hold 17 slots."
judgecorp writes "The Swiss Army knife has been available with storage for some time — now there is a 1 terabyte version. It comes with two bodies, so the storage can be swapped out into a flight-safe version with no knife or scissors. The company left the price off its release, but sources suggest it is $3000."
chicksdaddy wrote in with a link to a story about a Microsoft project that will share security information in real time with customers and law enforcement. The article reads "Microsoft has proven that it can take down huge, global botnets like Kelihos, Rustock and Waldec. Now the company is ready to start making the data it acquires in those busts available to governments, law enforcement and customers as a real time threat intelligence feed. Representatives from the Redmond, Washington software maker told an audience at the International Conference on Cyber Security (ICCS) here that it was testing a new service to distribute threat data from captured botnets and other sources to partners, including foreign governments, Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) and private corporations."
bdking writes "Reddit's planned 12-hour 'blackout' on January 18 sounds like an ineffectual, if not self-defeating, strategy for opposing the Stop Online Piracy Act. But the social news site actually will use that time not to 'go dark,' but to educate visitors about the ramifications of the House legislation that many fear will lead to widespread shutdowns of Internet sites."
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cylonlover writes "Animal testing is an area that elicits strong feelings on both sides of the argument for and against the practice. Supporters like the British Royal Society argue that virtually every medical breakthrough of the 20th century involved the use of animals in some way, while opponents say that it is not only cruel, but actually impedes medical progress by using misleading animal models. Whatever side of the argument researchers fall on, most would likely use an alternative to animal testing if it existed. And an alternative that reduces the need for animal testing is just what Fraunhofer researchers hope their new sensor nanoparticles will be."
snydeq writes "Dr. Franklin Tessler discusses the hidden stress-related injuries of touchscreen use, and how best to use smartphones, tablets, and touch PCs to avoid them. 'Touchscreen-oriented health hazards are even more insidious because most people aren't even aware that they exist. The potential for injury from using touchscreens will only go up ... as the rise of the touchscreen means both new kinds of health hazards and more usage in risky scenarios,' Tessler writes, providing tips for properly positioning touchscreens and ways to avoid repetitive stress injuries and eyestrain."
sciencehabit writes "None of us would be here today if, billions of years ago, a tiny, single-celled organism hadn't started using oxygen to make a living. Researchers don't know exactly when this happened, or why, but a team of scientists has come closer than ever before to finding out. They've identified the earliest known example of aerobic metabolism, the process of using oxygen as fuel. The discovery may even provide clues as to where the oxygen came from in the first place."
netbuzz writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation nine months ago filed a Freedom of Information Act request to prompt the FAA to release the names of government agencies and private entities that have received permission to fly unmanned aircraft over our heads. Nine months later, the FAA has neither released the information nor explained why it hasn't. On Tuesday the EFF filed suit (PDF) to force the agency to do so. Says EFF staff attorney Jennifer Lynch: 'Drones give the government and other unmanned aircraft operators a powerful new surveillance tool to gather extensive and intrusive data on Americans' movements and activities. As the government begins to make policy decisions about the use of these aircraft, the public needs to know more about how and why these drones are being used to surveil United States citizens.'"