coondoggie writes "Space tourism company Virgin Galactic today said its spacecraft developer has been granted an experimental launch permit from the Federal Aviation Administration to begin rocket-powered testing of its spaceships. With the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation permit, Scaled Composites and its SpaceShipTwo craft will be able to test the aerodynamic performance of the spacecraft with the full weight of the rocket motor system on board. Integration of key rocket motor components, already underway, will continue into the autumn."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "In the 60s and 70s Sweden, Russia and Finland were the foremost players in the game of ore dogs, using dogs to sniff out ore deposits for mining. The technique was forgotten in the last century, but this article shows they're now being used again to discover ore deposits. From the article: 'The keen noses of sniffer dogs are proving so successful at locating ore that even the mining giants are sitting up and taking notice. Berenice Baker talks to Peter Bergman, geologist and CEO of the Swedish company OreDog, about his plans to turn the canine skills into a multi-million dollar global industry providing exploration services for the mining industry while offering a Google-like working environment for staff.'"
benfrog writes "ISPs and financial-services companies would share data about computers made into botnets under a pilot program announced today by the Obama administration. From the article: 'The voluntary principles announced today include coordinating across sectors and confronting the problem globally. They were developed by the Industry Botnet Group, comprising trade groups including the Business Software Alliance and TechAmerica.' The White House is also backing a bill proposed by Joe Lieberman that would put the Department of Homeland Security in charge of cybersecurity of vital systems such as power grids and transportation networks."
MojoKid writes "Folks have been clamoring for more on Google's Project Glass and Sergey Brin — one of the co-founders of Google — is now burying himself in the R&D department associated with its development. Recently Brin appeared on 'The Gavin Newsom Show' with the prototype glasses perched on his face. The visit was actually a bit awkward as you can see in the video, as it's a lot of Brin and Newsom describing what they're seeing via the glasses with no visual for the audience. However, Brin dropped a bomb when he stated that he'd like to have the glasses out as early as next year."
Hugh Pickens writes "Derek Thompson writes that there is an excellent chance you are wearing, or within arm's reach of, a pair of headphones or earbuds. To visit a modern office place is to walk into a room with a dozen songs playing simultaneously but to hear none of them. In survey after survey, office workers report with confidence that music makes us happier, better at concentrating, and more productive. But science says we're full of it, writes Thompson. 'Listening to music hurts our ability to recall other stimuli, and any pop song — loud or soft — reduces overall performance for both extroverts and introverts.' So if headphones are so bad for productivity, why do so many people at work have headphones? The answer is that personal music creates a shield both for listeners and for those walking around usm says Thompson. 'I am here, but I am separate. In a wreck of people and activity, two plastic pieces connected by a wire create an aura of privacy.' We assume that people wearing them are busy or oblivious, so now people wear them to appear busy or oblivious — even without music. Wearing soundless headphones is now a common solution to productivity blocks. 'If music evolved as a social glue for the species — as a way to make groups and keep them together — headphones allow music to be enjoyed friendlessly — as a way to savor our privacy, in heightened solitude,' concludes Thompson. 'In a crowded world, real estate is the ultimate scarce resource, and a headphone is a small invisible fence around our minds — making space, creating separation, helping us listen to ourselves.'"
Master Moose sends this quote from a Bloomberg report: "When Apple's next iPhone hits store shelves, Technicolor's engineers will rush to get the handset — not to make calls or play games, but to rip it apart. Technicolor, an unprofitable French company that invented the process for color movies used in The Wizard of Oz and countless other classics, plans to cash in on its 40,000 video, audio and optics patents to turn its fortunes around. The company has a team of 220 people dissecting every new smartphone and tablet from industry goliaths such as Apple, Samsung Electronics and HTC for patent infringements. Although Technicolor signed its first licensing deal in the 1950s, de Russe [executive vice-president of intellectual property at Technicolor] said, 'it feels like the rest of the world has just woken up to why patents are interesting.' Patent licensing is the most profitable business of the company."
New submitter Screen404-O writes "During a radio interview, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell suggested that using unmanned drones to assist police would be 'great' and 'the right thing to do.' 'Increased safety and reduced manpower are among the reasons the U.S. military and intelligence community use drones on the battlefield, which is why it should be considered in Virginia, he says. ... McDonnell added Tuesday it will prove important to ensure the state maintains Americans' civil liberties, such as privacy, if it adds drones to its law enforcement arsenal.' Is this the next step toward militarizing our law enforcement agencies? How exactly can they ensure our privacy, when even the Air Force can't?"
Nerval's Lobster writes "In a bid to expand the reach of its cloud services, Microsoft has introduced Office 365 for Government, which features the same cloud-based productivity tools as Office 365 but stores data in a segregated community cloud. Google and Microsoft have been locked in vicious battle over the past few years to score cloud contracts for government agencies. Microsoft hopes its support of standards such as ISO 27001, SAS70 Type II, HIPAA, FERPA, and FISMA will help to give it an edge in winning those contracts."
scibri writes "Sagittarius A*, the dormant supermassive black hole that lies at the center of our galaxy, was much more active not that long ago. Astronomers using the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have picked up some faint gamma-ray signals that suggest Sagittarius A* was emitting a pair of powerful gamma-ray jets like other galactic black holes as recently as 20,000 years ago (arXiv paper). If our black hole was more active in the past, it could explain why Sagittarius A* seems to be growing about 1,000 times too slowly for it to have reached its current mass of about four million solar masses since the Galaxy formed about 13.2 billion years ago."
New submitter polyphydont writes "Children of parents with low social status are less able to resist the temptations of technological entertainment, a fact that impedes their education and adds to the obstacles such children face in obtaining financial comfort later in life. As explained in the article, poor parents and their children often waste both their time and money on heavily marketed entertainment systems. Such families often accumulate PCs, gaming consoles and smart phones, but use them only for nonconstructive activities."
The Bad Astronomer writes "Next week, on June 5/6, there will be the last Venus transit across the face of the Sun until the year 2117. There are dozens of sites issuing press releases about it — online resources, watching live, viewing advice — so I've collected them into a single blog post with tons of links and my own advice on how to observe this (most likely) last-in-a-lifetime event. This complements the previous article on Slashdot from a few weeks ago."
We mentioned yesterday Jeremy Hansen's run for the Vermont Senate. There are a lot of political races currently active in the U.S.; what makes Hansen's interesting (besides his background in computer science) is his pledge to use modern communication technology to provide a taste of direct representation within a representative democracy. He makes a claim not many candidates (and probably even fewer elected officials) ever will: "A representative should be elected who would work strictly as an advisor and make all policy and voting decisions based on the will of his or her constituents, regardless of personal opinion." To that end, Hansen says that if he's elected, he'll employ "an accessible online voting platform to allow discussion and voting on bills" for his constituents. He's agreed to answer questions about how such a system could work, and the nature of democracy in today's ultra-connected world, in which distance and communication delays are much smaller than they were even 20 years ago, never mind 200. So ask Hansen whatever questions you'd like about his plans and philosophy; as always, ask as many questions as you please, but please separate them into separate posts, lest ye be modded down.
benfrog writes "Dot-word bidders are in a last-minute dash for domain names as ICANN has revealed its timetable for the controversial new TLDs. The organization will close its TLD Application System (TAS) at a minute before midnight tonight (23.59 GMT, 19.59 ET, 16.59 Pacific). The TAS was originally supposed to close on April 12, but the deadline was extended twice because of a security bug. The winners for domains will be selected (initially) by a 'widely derided mechanism' of 'digital archery' in which every bidder will be assigned a date and time and then be asked to login to a secure website and hit a submit button as close to that time as possible."
coondoggie writes "Forty-nine percent of U.S. companies are having a hard time filling what workforce management firm ManpowerGroup calls mission-critical positions within their organizations. IT staff, engineers and 'skilled trades' are among the toughest spots to fill. The group surveyed some 1,300 employers and noted that U.S. companies are struggling to find talent, despite continued high unemployment, over their global counterparts, where 34% of employers worldwide are having difficulty filling positions."
SicariusMan writes "The age old question: do Guinness and other stouts' bubbles really sink, or is it an optical illusion? Well, some mathematicians have figured it out." Full paper via arXiv; From the article: "To analyze the effect of different glass shapes, the mathematicians modeled Guinness beer containing randomly distributed bubbles in both a pint glass and an anti-pint glass (i.e., an upside-down pint). An elongated swirling vortex forms in both glasses, but in the anti-pint glass the vortex rotates in the opposite direction, causing an upward flow of fluid and bubbles near the wall of the glass."