another random user writes with news that Facebook and Zynga have altered their business arrangement to become less closely intertwined. Zynga.com will no longer be promoted on the social networking site, and Zynga won't have to show ads for Facebook. "Zynga is the developer behind Farmville, a game once mostly played on Facebook, which at its peak attracted 82 million players a month. Zynga now has its own games platform, but players will no longer be able to share their progress on Facebook. Zynga's share price fell by 13% in after-hours trading following the news. It is the latest blow for the company, which last month announced job cuts and studio closures. ... Facebook said the move would bring its relationship with Zynga in line with other games studios. ... Recent figures suggest 80% of Zynga's revenue comes from Facebook users."
New submitter dj_tla writes "A team of Canadian researchers has created a state-of-the-art brain model that can see, remember, think about, and write numbers. The model has just been discussed in a Science article entitled 'A Large-Scale Model of the Functioning Brain.' There have been several popular press articles, and there are videos of the model in action. Nature quotes Eugene Izhikevich, chairman of Brain Corporation, as saying, 'Until now, the race was who could get a human-sized brain simulation running, regardless of what behaviors and functions such simulation exhibits. From now on, the race is more [about] who can get the most biological functions and animal-like behaviors. So far, Spaun is the winner.' (Full disclosure: I am a member of the team that created Spaun.)"
An anonymous reader writes "A story at the BBC explains how the UK government has put an extra clause into a funding bill to ensure that any new 'free schools' (independent schools run by groups of parents or organizations, but publicly-funded) must teach evolution rather than creationism or potentially lose their funding. 'The new rules state that from 2013, all free schools in England must teach evolution as a 'comprehensive and coherent scientific theory.' The move follows scientists's concerns that free schools run by creationists might avoid teaching evolution. Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society, said it was 'delighted.' Sir Paul told BBC News the previous rules on free schools and the teaching of evolution versus creationism had been 'not tight enough.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Microsoft's Surface Pro boasts one feature that could rapidly become an Achilles Heel, especially if Microsoft intends for the device to compete against Apple's iPad and a host of lightweight Google Android touch-screens. In a Nov. 29 Tweet to a customer, the official Surface Twitter feed claimed: 'We expect it [Surface Pro] to have approx. half the battery life of Surface with Windows RT.' That means Surface Pro will have roughly four hours of battery life. That's roughly half the battery life (if not less) of Apple's various iPads, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, Research In Motion's PlayBook, Hewlett-Packard's now-cancelled TouchPad, and Motorola's all-but-forgotten Xoom. In other words, pretty much every tablet currently on the market. Nor can the Surface Pro compete with other tablets on price. The 64GB version of the device will retail for $899, with the 128GB version coming in a little higher at $999."
An anonymous reader writes "A Tor Exit node owner is being prosecuted in Austria. As part of the prosecution, all of his electronics have been held by the authorities, including over 20 computers, his cell phone and hard disks. 'During interview with police later on Wednesday, Weber said there was a "more friendly environment" once investigators understood the Polish server that transmitted the illegal images was used by Tor participants rather than by Weber himself. But he said he still faces the possibility of serious criminal penalties and the possibility of a precedent that Tor operators can be held liable if he's convicted.' This brings up the question: What backup plan, if any, should the average nerd have for something like this?"
ananyo writes "A global team of researchers has come up with the most accurate estimate yet for melting of the polar ice sheets, ending decades of uncertainty about whether the sheets will melt further or actually gain mass in the face of climate change. The ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are melting at an ever-quickening pace. Since 1992, they have contributed 11 millimeters — or one-fifth — of the total global sea-level rise, say the researchers. The two polar regions are now losing mass three times faster than they were 20 years ago, with Greenland alone now shedding ice at about five times the rate observed in the early 1990s. This latest estimate, published this week in Science, draws on up to 32 years of ice-sheet simulations and 20 years of satellite data to give an estimate two to three times more accurate than that in the last IPCC report."
TrueSatan writes "Finally, Bradley Manning's military court case starts. He's only had to wait 2 years to be heard. Manning claims that while remanded in custody in Iraq he 'passed out due to the heat' and 'contemplated suicide.' The United Nations special rapporteur on torture found Manning's detention was 'cruel and inhuman.' Manning wants the case against him to be dismissed because his pre-trial punishment was so severe. Manning's attorney, David Coombs, earlier released an 11-page letter detailing the conditions of Manning's confinement. Manning offered guilty pleas to minor charges, but not to spying, aiding American enemies or treason, and those pleas have been accepted by the judge."
dryriver sends this quote from a BBC report: "Imagine treating your phone like a piece of paper. Roll it up. Drop it. Squish it in your backpack. Step on it — without any damage. Researchers are working on just such handsets — razor-thin, paper-like and bendable. There have already been prototypes, attracting crowds at gadget shows. But rumors abound that next year will see the launch of the first bendy phone. Numerous companies are working on the technology — LG, Philips, Sharp, Sony and Nokia among them — although reports suggest that South Korean phone manufacturer Samsung will be the first to deliver. Samsung favors smartphones with so-called flexible OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology, and is confident that they will be 'very popular among consumers worldwide.' Their screens will be 'foldable, rollable, wearable and more, [and] will allow for a high degree of durability through their use of a plastic substrate that is thinner, lighter and more flexible than conventional LCD technology,' says a Samsung spokesperson.'"
eldavojohn writes "This holiday season I will return to the land of my childhood. It is flat and desolate with the nearest major city being a three hour car drive away. Although being able to hear the blood pulse through your ears and enjoying the full milky way is nice, I have finally convinced my parents to get "the internet." It's basically a Verizon Jetpack that receives 4G connected to a router. My mom says it works great but she has complained of it cutting in and out. I know where the tower is, this land is so flat and so devoid of light pollution that the tower and all windmills are supernovas on the horizon at night. Usually I use my rooted Galaxy Nexus to read Slashdot, reply to work e-mails, etc. I would like to build an antenna for her 4G device so they can finally enjoy information the way I have. I have access to tons of scrap copper, wood, steel, etc and could probably hit a scrap yard if something else were needed. As a kid, I would build various quad antennas in an attempt to get better radio and TV reception (is the new digital television antenna design any different?) but I have no experience with building 4G antennas. I assume the sizes and lengths would be much different? After shopping around any 4G antenna costs way too much money. So, Slashdot, do you have any resources, suggestions, books, ideas or otherwise about building something to connect to a Jetpack antenna port? I've got a Masters of Science but it's in Computer Science so if you do explain complicated circuits it helps to explain it like I'm five. I've used baluns before in antenna design but after pulling up unidirectional and reflector antenna designs, I realize I might be in a little over my head. Is there an industry standard book on building antennas for any spectrum?"
KermMartian writes "In what seems to be an accelerating arms race for graphing calculator supremacy between Texas Instruments and Casio, the underdog Casio has fired a return salvo to the recently-announced TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition. The new ClassPad fx-CP400 has a massive color touchscreen and a Matlab-esque CAS. Though not accepted on the SAT/ACT, will such a powerful device gain a strong following among engineers and professionals?"
sciencehabit writes "People usually find out that they have cancer after developing symptoms or through a screening test such as a mammogram—signs that may appear only after the cancer has grown or spread so much that it can't be cured. But what if you could find out from a simple, highly accurate blood test that you had an incipient tumor? By sequencing the abnormal DNA that a tumor releases into a person's bloodstream, researchers are now one step closer to a universal cancer test. Although the technique is now only sensitive enough to detect advanced cancers, that may be a matter of money: As sequencing costs decrease, the developers of the method say the test could eventually pick up early tumors as well."
redletterdave writes "In each one of Amazon.com's 80 fulfillment centers around the globe, Amazon relies on barcodes and human hands rather than robots or automation to find and ship the proper items in a quick and efficient manner. Without robots, Amazon utilizes a system known as 'chaotic storage,' where products are essentially shelved at random but are tagged with barcodes to be scanned at every step of the ordering, selection and shipping process. The real advantage to chaotic storage is that it's significantly more flexible than conventional storage systems. If there are big changes in a product range, the company doesn't need to plan for more space, because the products or their sales volumes don't need to be known or planned in advance if they're simply being stored at random. Free space is also better utilized in a chaotic storage system, and it's also a major time saver to not organize products as they come in. This system is the true key to Amazon.com's success in online retail."
AlphaWolf_HK writes "Newzbin2, one of the most recognized index sites for usenet, has closed for good. A statement reads: 'It is with regret that we announce the closure of Newzbin2. A combination of several factors has made this the only option. For a long time we have struggled with poor indexing of Usenet, poor numbers of reports caused by the majority of our editors dropping out & no-one replacing them. Our servers have been unstable and crashing on a regular basis meaning the NZBs & NFOs are unavailable for long periods and we don't have the money to replace them. To make things worse all our payment providers dropped out or started running scared. The MPA sued Paypal and are going at our innocent payment provider Kthxbai Ltd in the UK. Our other payment provider has understandably lost their nerve. Result? We have no more payment providers to offer & no realistic means of taking money (no, Bitcoin isn't credible as it's just too hard for 90% of people).'"
cylonlover writes "Exploring the regions of deep space beyond Mars means sending probes where solar power isn't practical. Since the 1960s, NASA has equipped its Apollo missions and unmanned explorers with Radioisotope Thermal Generators (RTGs). These have worked very well, but they run on plutonium 238, which is currently in short supply. Therefore, the Los Alamos National Laboratory is developing a new small nuclear reactor for spacecraft that uses uranium instead of plutonium to power Stirling engines and generate electricity. At the Nevada National Security Site's Device Assembly Facility near Las Vegas, engineers from Los Alamos, the NASA Glenn Research Center and National Security Technologies LLC conducted a Demonstration Using Flattop Fissions (DUFF) experiment that produced 24 watts of electricity using a pair of free-piston Stirling engines."
An anonymous reader writes "Mcor and Staples announced today a deal in which Mcor will supply their paper-based 3D printers to Staples Copy Centers worldwide. Staples customers will be able to upload their 3D model and pick up the printed object at their local copy center. The rollout starts in The Netherlands and Belgium in 1Q 2013 and then opens up in other countries."