Hugh Pickens writes "Lewis M. Cohen reports that this Election Day, Massachusetts is poised to approve the Death With Dignity Act, a modernized, sanitized, politically palatable term that replaces the now-antiquated expression 'physician-assisted suicide.' Oregon's Death With Dignity Act has been in effect for the past 14 years, and the state of Washington followed suit with a similar law in 2008. But the Massachusetts ballot question has the potential to turn death with dignity from a legislative experiment into the new national norm, because the state is the home of America's leading medical publication (the New England Journal of Medicine), hospital (Massachusetts General), and four medical schools (Harvard, Boston University, University of Massachusetts, and Tufts). If the act passes in Massachusetts, other states that have previously had unsuccessful campaigns will certainly be emboldened to revisit this subject. The initiative would allow terminally ill patients with six months or less to live to request from their doctor a prescription for a lethal dose of a drug. Doctors do not have to offer the option at all, and patients must make three requests, two verbal and one written. They must self-administer the drug, which would be ingested. The patients must be deemed capable of making an informed decision. 'It's all about choice,' says George Eighmey, a key player in instituting the Oregon law, defending it against repeal and shepherding it into reality. 'You decide. No one else can decide for you. No can can force you into it, coerce you into it or even suggest it to you unless you make a statement: "I don't want to live like this any more" or "I'm interested in that law out there, doctor, can you give me something to alleviate this pain and suffering."'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
derekmead writes "Batteries rule everything around us, which makes breakthroughs a big deal. A research team at Rice says they have produced a nice jump: by using a crushed silicon anode in a lithium-ion battery, they claim to have nearly tripled the energy density of current li-ion designs. Engineer Sibani Lisa Biswal and research scientist Madhuri Thakur reported in Nature's Scientific Reports (it has yet to be published online) that by taking porous silicon and crushing it, they were able to dramatically decrease the volume required for anode material. Silicon has long been looked at as an anode material because it holds up to ten times more lithium ions than graphite, which is most commonly used commercially. But it's previously been difficult to create a silicon anode with enough surface area to cycle reliably. Silicon also expands when it's lithiated, making it harder to produce a dense anode material. After previously testing a porous silicon 'sponge,' the duo decided to try crushing the sponges to make them more compact. The result is a new battery design that holds a charge of 1,000 milliamp hours per gram through 600 tested charge cycles of two hours charging, two hours discharging. According to the team, current graphite anodes can only handle 350 mAh/g."
BigBadBus writes "The BBC is reporting that the remains of a World War 2 carrier pigeon were found during renovation of a chimney in England. What is interesting is that the pigeon's remains still had its message attached to the leg ring; even more interesting, this is the first recorded instance of a code being used rather than plain text. The successor to WW2 code-breaking HQ Bletchley Park, the GCHQ, is trying to decipher this unique code. Maybe a Slashdot reader can beat them to it?"
New submitter jest3r writes "On Tuesday the EFF filed a brief proposing a process for the Court in the Megaupload case to hold the government accountable for the actions it took (and failed to take) when it shut down Megaupload's service and denied third parties access to their property. Many businesses used Megaupload's cloud service to store and share files not related to piracy. The government is calling for a long, drawn-out process that would require individuals or small companies to travel to courts far away and engage in multiple hearings just to get their own property back. Additionally, the government's argument that you lose all your property rights by storing your data on the cloud could apply to Amazon's S3 or Google Apps or Apple iCloud services as well (see page 4 of their filing)."
Lucas123 writes "As anyone who's typed on a virtual keyboard — or yelled at a voice-control app like Siri — can attest, no current text input holds a candle to a traditional computer keyboard. From the reed switch keyboards of the early '70s to the buckling spring key mechanism that drove IBM's popular PC keyboards for years to ThinTouch technology that will have about half the travel of a MacBook Air's keys, the technology that drove data entry for decades isn't likely to go anywhere anytime soon. This article takes a look back on five decades of keyboard development and where it's likely to go in the future."
MatthewVD writes "The National Hurricane Center reported today that the combined energy and duration of all the storms in the Atlantic basin hurricane season was 30 percent above the average from 1981 to 2010. At Weather Underground, Dr. Jeff Masters blogs that record low levels of arctic ice could have caused a 'blocking ridge' over Greenland that pushed Hurricane Sandy west. Meanwhile, Bloomberg BusinessWeek says, 'it's global warming, stupid.'"
mask.of.sanity writes "Dangerous website flaws have been discovered in PayPal that grant attackers access to customer credit card data, account balances and purchase histories. The holes still exist. One was publicly disclosed after a failed effort in July to responsibly disclose them under PayPal's bug bounty program. PayPal is working to close the holes."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Hurricane Sandy may have plunged part of New York City into darkness, drowned its basements and subway tunnels in saltwater, and even set part of a neighborhood on fire, but it couldn't stop New Yorkers from standing in line for hours to purchase the iPad Mini. Hundreds of people lined up in front of Apple's Fifth Avenue store for the chance to get their hands on the 7.9-inch device. According to CNET, which was on the scene and running a live-blog ahead of the store's 10 AM EST opening, 'many people in line are not fluent in English and are either Asian immigrants or visitors.' That opening was originally supposed to take place at 8 AM, and likely delayed because of the obvious citywide transportation issues. But for those in New York City who manage to get their sweaty hands on a new iPad Mini, there's an unusual wrinkle in the situation: power is still out below 39th Street in Manhattan, as well as portions of Brooklyn and Queens. (Apple's Fifth Avenue store is well above that power line.) While some private homes and businesses in electrified areas have set out power strips for strangers to charge their phones, it's hard to imagine a crowd of New Yorkers standing idly by while someone spends a significant amount of time charging a new tablet. Fortunately, many of those without power have found refuge with friends and family, if they haven't left the city altogether."
An anonymous reader writes "We can't get rid of software patents, says Richard Stallman, but we could change how they apply to creating and using software and hardware. In an editorial at Wired, he advocates for a legislative solution to the patent wars that would protect both developers and users. Quoting: 'We should legislate that developing, distributing, or running a program on generally used computing hardware does not constitute patent infringement. This approach has several advantages: —It doesn't require classifying patents or patent applications as "software" or "not software." —It provides developers and users with protection from both existing and potential future computational idea patents. —Patent lawyers can't defeat the intended effect by writing applications differently.'"
CowboyRobot writes "A pair of reports by Juniper and Bit9 confirm the suspicion that many apps are spying on users. '26 percent of Android apps in Google Play can access personal data, such as contacts and email, and 42 percent, GPS location data... 31 percent of the apps access phone calls or phone numbers, and 9 percent employ permissions that could cost the user money, such as incurring premium SMS text message charges... nearly 7 percent of free apps can access address books, 2.6 percent, can send text messages without the user knowing, 6.4 percent can make calls, and 5.5 percent have access to the device's camera.' The main issue seems to be with poor development practices. Only in a minority of cases is there malicious intent. The Juniper report and the Bit9 report are both available online."
sfcrazy writes "Apple is having trouble in Mexico right before the holiday season. The company has lost rights to the name iPhone in the country, as it was already owned by a Mexican telecom company called iFone (Google translation of Spanish original). iFone registered its trademark in 2003, four years before Apple iPhone was launched. In 2009, Apple filed a complaint with the Mexican Industrial Property Institute demanding that iFone stop using is name because it could confuse users. That claim was since denied, and iFone is looking to turn the tables."
another random user writes with news that a Virginia man, Kywan Fisher, has been ordered to pay $1,500,000 to porn-maker Flava Works for sharing ten of the company's films over BitTorrent. "The huge total was reached through penalties of $150,000 per movie, the maximum possible statutory damages under U.S. copyright law." The man did not make any defense in federal court to Flava Works' copyright infringement claims, so the judge handed down a default judgement. "In 2011 Fisher and several other defendants were sued by adult entertainment company Flava Works. The case in question differs from the so-called 'John Doe' lawsuits as the copyright holder had detailed information on the defendants who had paid accounts on the company’s movie portal. For Fisher the trouble started when instead of just viewing the films for personal entertainment, he allegedly went on to share copies on BitTorrent. These illicit copies were traced directly back to his account through a code embedded in the videos. ... The verdict will be welcomed by Flava and the many other copyright holders involved in BitTorrent lawsuits in the United States. DieTrollDie, a close follower and critic of these cases, points out that it will be widely cited in settlement letters to other defendants, but that the case itself is notably different. 'This was not the normal Copyright Troll case – there was some actual evidence beyond a public IP address. Not a smoking gun by far, but certainly enough to show a preponderance of evidence,' DTD writes.
cylonlover writes "Having successfully negotiated the challenging regulatory slopes of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of Energy, and a host of Oregon state agencies, the Newberry Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) demonstration project is in the process of creating a new geothermal reservoir in central Oregon. The core of the new reservoir is a two mile (3.2 km) deep well drilled about four miles (6.4 km) from the center of Newberry Volcano. The rock surrounding the wellbore reaches temperatures in the order of 600 F (300 C), and is nearly impermeable to water. That, however, is about to change. Newberry Volcano is one of the largest and youngest volcanoes in the United States. Having last erupted about 1,300 years ago, it consists of over 400 individual volcanic vents, which, when combined, form a broad mounded landform referred to as a shield volcano. The Newberry EGS Demonstration geothermal reservoir is being formed in the high-temperature, low-permeability deep lava of the volcano's northwest flank."
terrancem writes "The Kihansi Spray Toad went extinct in the wild in 2005 when its habitat in Tanzania was destroyed by a dam. However conservationists at the Bronx Zoo managed to maintain a captive population which is now large enough to allow a bold experiment to move forward: reintroducing the toad into its old habitat. To make the once tropical gorge moist again, engineers have designed an artificial misting system that should allow toads to survive in the wild. The effort marks what may be the first time conservationists have ever re-established an 'extinct' species in a human-engineered ecosystem."
First time accepted submitter GrimAndBearIt writes "NASA's Curiosity rover is poised to settle years of debate on the question of atmospheric methane on Mars, which would be a sign of microbial life. With parts per trillion sensitivity, it's not so much a question of whether the rover will be able to smell trace amounts of methane, but rather a question of how much. NASA has announced that Grotzinger's team will discuss atmospheric measurements at a briefing on 2 November. If the rover has detected methane at sufficiently high concentration, or exhibiting temporal variations of the kind that suggests microbial activity, then it will surely motivate a desire to identify and map the sources."