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Laptop

Storm Worm retaliates against security researchers

New features of botnets created by the infamous Storm Worm allow denial of service attacks to be launched against security defenders that attempt to interrupt its operation.

Attempts to probe command-and-control servers can result in a withering counter-attack of malicious traffic that can swamp the internet connections of security activists for days, according to Josh Korman, host-protection architect the ISS security division of IBM.
Bulb

Ancient DNA reveals that some Neanderthals were redheads

Ancient DNA retrieved from the bones of two Neanderthals suggests that at least some of them had red hair and pale skin, scientists report this week in the journal Science. The international team says that Neanderthals' pigmentation may even have been as varied as that of modern humans, and that at least 1 percent of Neanderthals were likely redheads.

The scientists -- led by Holger Römpler of Harvard University and the University of Leipzig, Carles Lalueza-Fox of the University of Barcelona, and Michael Hofreiter of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig -- extracted, amplified, and sequenced a pigmentation gene called MC1R from the bones of a 43,000-year-old Neanderthal from El Sidrón, Spain, and a 50,000-year-old individual from Monti Lessini, Italy.
Better Earth

Sudden Naked-Eye Comet Shocks the Astronomy World

A distant comet that was as faint as magnitude 18 on October 20th has suddenly brightened by a millionfold, altering the naked-eye appearance of the constellation Perseus.

This startling outburst of Comet Holmes (17P) may be even stronger than the one that occurred 115 years ago, in November 1892, when the comet was first spotted by English amateur Edwin Holmes.
Document

1955 'Origin of Life' Paper Retracted by Author

In January 1955, Homer Jacobson, a chemistry professor at Brooklyn College, published a paper called "Information, Reproduction and the Origin of Life" in American Scientist, the journal of Sigma Xi, the scientific honor society.

In it, Dr. Jacobson speculated on the chemical qualities of earth in Hadean time, billions of years ago when the planet was beginning to cool down to the point where, as Dr. Jacobson put it, "one could imagine a few hardy compounds could survive."

Nobody paid much attention to the paper at the time, he said in a telephone interview from his home in Tarrytown, N.Y. But today it is winning Dr. Jacobson acclaim that he does not want - from creationists who cite it as proof that life could not have emerged on earth without divine intervention.
Bad Guys

Boeing Tests HALE Hydrogen Propulsion System Using Ford-Developed Engine

Boeing, using a Ford Motor Company-developed hydrogen engine, has successfully tested the hydrogen propulsion system of its High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft. "This test demonstrates the technical readiness of the hydrogen engine system and confirms the capability breakthrough in flight endurance and altitude that could be realized by a variety of military and commercial customers," said Darryl Davis, vice president and general manager, Boeing Advanced Precision Engagement and Mobility Systems.

©Boeing Illustration - Chuck Schroeder
Coffee

NASA Offers 2 Million Dollar Lunar Lander Competition Prize

During the X PRIZE Cup Oct. 27-28, NASA's Centennial Challenges Program will offer prizes totaling $2 million if competing teams successfully meet the requirements of the Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge. The challenge will take place at Holloman Air Force Base, in Alamogordo, N.M.

©Unknown
Question

When Science Attacks!

Two scandals rocked the sci-tech world last week. Not to put too fine a point on it, they reminded us that bad research and implementation can kill.

In South Africa, a widely used antiaircraft cannon called the Oerlikon GDF-005 suffered from what many observers believe was a computer malfunction, which killed nine soldiers and maimed 15 in a training exercise. Its computer-controlled sighting mechanism went haywire, and the gun automatically turned its barrel to face the trainees next to it, spraying bullets from magazines that it automatically reloaded until it was out of ammunition. Many compared the incident to science fiction fare like Robocop or Terminator, in which military bots turn on their masters.
Info

Archaeologists to restart excavations at Herculaneum in Italy

In an attempt to recover the lost works of Aristotle, Sophocles and Catullus, archaeologists are to restart excavations at the ancient city of Herculaneum in Italy, where a Roman library lies buried beneath 90 ft of lava from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

"It is impossible, absolutely impossible, to excavate Villa dei Papyri without finding fantastic things. We may find the lost scrolls of Aristotle, or we may find something even more exciting that we had not even thought of yet," Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, the Director of the Herculaneum Conservation Project, told The Daily Telegraph.
Bizarro Earth

History of mass extinction is a grim lesson on climate change

The five periods in the history of Earth that had the highest levels of extinction were all linked to climate change, fossil evidence shows.

The findings support fears that wild-life will be driven to extinction in the next few centuries in numbers to rival the death of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Higher temperatures found to be associated with four of the mass extinctions were at about the same level that is forecast by climate change scientists for the next 100 to 200 years.
Telescope

First Known Belt Of Moonlets In Saturn's Rings Detected

A narrow belt harboring moonlets as large as football stadiums discovered in Saturn's outermost ring probably resulted when a larger moon was shattered by a wayward asteroid or comet eons ago, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder study.

©NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute/ University of Colorado
A team led by the University of Colorado at Boulder has detected an unseen belt of moonlets in Saturn's outermost "A" ring (top image, outer purple band). The moonlets in the belt were detected by gravity "wakes" 10 miles to 20 miles across (boxed in bottom image) by the narrow-angle camera aboard the NASA Cassini spacecraft.
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