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Kepler Confirms 100+ New Exoplanets ( 37

schwit1 writes: Astronomers have confirmed another 100 of Kepler's more than 3,000 candidate exoplanets. reports: "One of the most interesting set of planets discovered in this study is a system of four potentially rocky planets, between 20 and 50 percent larger than Earth, orbiting a star less than half the size and with less light output than the Sun. Their orbital periods range from five-and-a-half to 24 days, and two of them may experience radiation levels from their star comparable to those on Earth. Despite their tight orbits -- closer than Mercury's orbit around the sun -- the possibility that life could arise on a planet around such a star cannot be ruled out, according to Crossfield." Because the host star as well as many of these other confirmed exoplanets are red dwarf stars, the possibility of life is reduced because the star and its system is likely to have a less rich mix of elements compared to our yellow G-type Sun. In May, Kepler added a record 1,284 confirmed planets, nine of which orbit in their sun's habitable zone.

New Dwarf Planet Discovered In Outer Solar System ( 119

astroengine quotes a report from Seeker: Astronomers have found another Pluto-like dwarf planet located about 20 times farther away from the sun than Neptune. The small planet, dubbed 2015 RR245, is estimated to be about 435 miles in diameter and flying in an elliptical, 700-year orbit around the sun. At closest approach, RR245 will be about 3.1 billion miles from the sun, a milestone it is expected to next reach in 2096. At its most distant point, the icy world is located about 7.5 billion miles away. It was found by a joint team of astronomers using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) on Maunakea, Hawaii, in images taken in September 2015 and analyzed in February. The discovery was announced on Monday in the Minor Planet Electronic Circular.

YouTube Looking To Launch Online TV Service Next Year With ESPN, ABC, and CBS ( 24

An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reported in May that YouTube is working on a paid subscription service called Unplugged that would offer customers a selection of TV channels streamed via the internet. Now, The Information (Warning: source may be paywalled) is reporting that deals are starting to come together, and ESPN, ABC, and CBS are "firmly expected" to be available through the service. Other major broadcasters are expected to try and get involved with the service, but the report notes that YouTube may purposely choose to pass on smaller networks, like HGTV, to try and market YouTube videos instead. The question remains to be answered as to how YouTube plans to make anyone interested in its service. ESPN, ABC, and CBS are already offered through other online TV services, like Sling TV. CBS has its own standalone subscription service, and ESPN will soon have its own as well. Also, The Information notes that YouTube Red -- YouTube's existing subscription service -- isn't doing so well. Although, it's worth noting that service is completely different than what Unplugged is rumored to feature.

Japan Says Yes To Mirrorless Cars ( 290

An anonymous reader writes: Last month, Japan became one of the first countries to allow vehicles to use cameras instead of mirrors. "Video mirrors" will no longer be reserved for concept cars. They will likely turn into a huge marketplace for tech businesses and suppliers now that the "Land of the Rising Sun" gave Japanese companies the green light by allowing mirrorless vehicles. While many would argue that glass mirrors work just fine, video mirrors do have some real-world advantages. They can reduce drag and improve fuel efficiency (Warning: source may be paywalled) while improving the looks of a vehicle in the process. In addition, they can capture a wide-angle view that can see blind spots, and they can improve visibility by digitally compensating for glare, darkness or even rainy weather. The first company to supply digital mirrors will be Ichikoh. Their first product will be an interior rear-view mirror named the Smart Rear View Mirror that will enter production on June 28th.

American Cities Are Installing DHS-Funded Audio Surveillance ( 160

"Audio surveillance is increasingly being used on parts of urban mass transit systems," reports the Christian Science Monitor. Slashdot reader itwbennett writes "It was first reported in April that New Jersey had been using audio surveillance on some of its light rail lines, raising questions of privacy. This week, New Jersey Transit ended the program following revelations that the agency 'didn't have policies governing storage and who had access to data.'" From the article: New Jersey isn't the only state where you now have even more reason to want to ride in the quiet car. The Baltimore Sun reported in March that the Maryland Transit Administration has used audio recording on some of its mass transit vehicles since 2012. It is now used on 65 percent of buses, and 82 percent of subway trains have audio recording capability, but don't use it yet, according to the Sun. And cities in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio, Nevada, Oregon and California have either installed systems or moved to procure them, in many cases with funding from the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Oracle May Have Stopped Funding and Developing Java EE ( 115

While anticipating new features in Java 9, developers also have other concerns, according to an anonymous Slashdot reader: ArsTechnica is reporting that Oracle has quietly pulled funding and development efforts away from Java EE, the server-side Java technology that is part of hundreds of thousands of Internet and business applications. Java EE even plays an integral role for many apps that aren't otherwise based on Java, and customers and partners have invested time and code. It wouldn't be the first time this has happened, but the implications are huge for Java as a platform.
"It's a dangerous game they're playing..." says one member of the Java Community Process Executive Committee. "It's amazing -- there's a company here that's making us miss Sun." Oracle's former Java evangelist even left the company in March and became a spokesman for the "Java EE Guardians," who have now created an online petition asking Oracle to "clarify" its intent and resume development or "transfer ownership of Java EE 8".

Oracle Ordered To Pay $3B Damages To HP ( 47

Oracle has been ordered to pay HP $3 billion in damages by a California jury over HP's claim that Oracle reneged on a deal to support HP computer servers running on Itanium chips from Intel. Oracle said it will appeal. BBC reports:The court battle over the contract was settled in 2012 but the damages HPE was due have only now been agreed. HP was split into two in 2015 with HPE taking over the running of its servers and services business. In court, HPE argued that although the 2012 legal judgement meant Oracle had resumed making software for the powerful chips, its business had suffered harm. It argued that Oracle took the decision in 2011 to stop supporting Itanium in a bid to get customers to move to hardware made by Sun -- a hardware firm owned by Oracle. Oracle said that its decision in 2011 was driven by a realisation that Itanium was coming to the end of its life. It also argued that the contract it signed never obliged it to keep producing software in perpetuity. Intel stopped making Itanium chips in late 2012 and many companies that used servers built around them have now moved to more powerful processors.

Computer Simulations Point To the Source of Gravitational Waves ( 126

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: On February 11th, scientists at the LIGO observatory made history when they announced the detection of the first gravitational waves. A new study says the gravitational waves likely came from two massive suns that formed about 12 billion years ago, or two billion years after the Big Bang. The researcher's calculations have been published today in the journal Nature, and were determined by running a complex simulation called the Synthetic Universe: a computer model that simulates how the Universe may have evolved since the start of the Big Bang. The simulation even includes a synthetic LIGO detector to determine the types of objects that the observatory would detect over time. The Synthetic Universe can also make predictions as it includes a mock-LIGO to chronologically sync when we detected the waves. If the model is correct, we should see LIGO pick up to 60 detections when it begins its next observation run this fall. It could hear up to 1,000 detections annually at its peak sensitivity. The lead study author Chris Belczynski speculates specifically the size of black hole mergers that the LIGO should be able to detect from gravitational waves, a combined mass between 20 and 80 times the mass of our sun, indicating that they're likely from soon after the Big Bang when stars had lower metal content and formed proportionately larger black holes. His model suggests that the ones that collided to make these gravitational waves were stars that formed 12 billion years ago, became black holes 5 million years later, and then merged 10.3 billion years after that.

India Launches Record 20 Satellites In Space Using A Single Rocket ( 110

William Robinson writes from a report via Times of India: The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) used its workhorse PSLV-C34 to inject 20 satellites which includes 17 satellites from various countries like US, Canada, Germany and Indonesia, into orbit in a single mission and set a new record on Wednesday. In the final stages of the mission, ISRO also demonstrated the vehicle's capability to place satellites in different orbits. In the demonstration, the vehicle reignited twice after its fourth and final stage and moved further a few kilometers into another orbit. Also included are a couple of satellites from academic institutions, Sathyabamasat from Sathyabhama University, Chennai and Swayam from College of Engineering, Pune. From the report: "The 320 ton Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C34) took off on its 36th flight at 9:26 a.m. from the Satish Dhawan Space Center with 20 satellites including its primary payload Cartosat-2 series, which provides remote sensing services, and earth observation and imaging satellites from U.S., Canada, Germany and Indonesia. It was also the 14th flight of PSLV in 'XL' configuration with the use of solid strap-on motors. ISRO scientists said, the vehicle had been pre-programmed for today's launch to perform tiny maneuvering to place the 20 satellites into polar sun-synchronous orbits with different inclinations and velocities. It ensured that the satellites were placed with enough distance to prevent collision."

Elon Musk's Tesla Plans To Acquire Elon Musk's SolarCity For $2.7B In Stock ( 55

An anonymous reader writes from a report via TechCrunch: Today, Elon Musk's electric car and battery company Tesla has announced its offer to buy solar panel installation company SolarCity. Now is a better time than ever to acquire SolarCity, as it recently had its value downgraded. If Tesla does acquire SolarCity, the companies could allow you to outfit your home with solar panels that power a giant battery for your various appliances, such as an electric vehicle. The deal, which has yet to be approved by SolarCity and its board, involves SolarCity's stock being exchanged for Tesla stock. TechCrunch reports that "the deal would pay a premium of 21% to 30% on top of SolarCity's value of $2.14 billion, so Tesla would be buying SolarCity for between $2.59 billion and $2.78 billion worth of its stock." The Tesla team writes, "It's now time to complete the picture. Tesla customers can drive clean cars and they can use our battery packs to help consume energy more efficiently, but they still need access to the most sustainable energy source that's available: the sun." Elon Musk has also been in the news today through OpenAI, the artificial-intelligence non-profit backed by Elon Musk, Amazon Web Services and others. OpenAI announced it is working on creating a physical robot that performs household chores.

Astronomers Say There Could Be At Least Two More Mystery Planets In Our Solar System ( 84

schwit1 quotes a report from ScienceAlert: A team of astronomers has performed new calculations on the data that originally gave rise to the Planet Nine hypothesis, and these new numbers suggest that the hypothetical extra planet might not be alone -- there could be multiple planets hiding at the edge of our Solar System that we've yet to discover. If the researchers are correct -- which nobody knows for sure right now -- it could really mean a do-over for the high school textbooks. The scientists estimate that Planet Nine is 10 times more massive than Earth, and think it performs an extremely elongated orbit of the Sun, that takes between 10,000 and 20,000 years to complete. The Caltech researchers based their hypothesis for the existence of Planet Nine on the unusual movement of six large objects floating in the Kuiper belt, suggesting that their orbits are being shaped by a hidden planet.

Second Gravitational Wave Detected From Ancient Black Hole Collision ( 220

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Physicists have detected ripples in the fabric of spacetime that were set in motion by the collision of two black holes far across the universe more than a billion years ago. The event marks only the second time that scientists have spotted gravitational waves, the tenuous stretching and squeezing of spacetime predicted by Einstein more than a century ago. The faint signal received by the twin instruments of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US revealed two black holes circling one another 27 times before finally smashing together at half the speed of light. The cataclysmic event saw the black holes, one eight times more massive than the sun, the other 14 times more massive, merge into one about 21 times heavier than the sun. In the process, energy equivalent to the mass of the sun radiated into space as gravitational waves. Writing in the journal Physical Review Letters on Wednesday, the LIGO team describes how a second rush of gravitational waves showed up in their instrument a few months after the first, at 3.38am UK time on Boxing Day morning 2015. An automatic search detected the signals and emailed the LIGO scientists within minutes to alert them. The latest signals arrived at the Livingston detector 1.1milliseconds before they hit the Hanford detector, allowing scientists on the team to roughly work out the position of the collision in the sky. In February, LIGO scientists officially announced the first-ever observation of gravity waves.

A $190 Million Misclick for T. Rowe Price ( 35

An anonymous reader writes: This week a court ordered restitution for any investors who'd opposed the 2013 buyout of Dell Inc., approximately $3.87 per share, plus interest. The investment firm T. Rowe Price was a vocal opponent of the deal, and had over 30 million shares scattered throughout its mutual funds. But an automated system at T. Rowe Price used its default setting -- which indicated support for the buyout -- an error which is now estimated to have cost the firm close to $190 million.
Dell won't receive the money "because, in essence, they checked the wrong box," reports Fortune. And the Baltimore Sun adds that the firm now faces the prospect of class action lawsuit from angry investors.

Declaring Code Is Not Code, Says Larry Page ( 405

Alphabet CEO Larry Page says his company never considered getting permission from Oracle for using the latter's Java APIs in Android. Page, who appeared in a federal court, said Java APIs are open and free, which warrants them or anyone to use it without explicit permission from Oracle. From an Ars Technica report (edited for clarity): "But you did copy the code and copy the structure, sequence, and organization of the APIs?" Oracle attorney Peter Bicks asked, raising his voice. "I don't agree with 'copy code,'" Page said. "For me, declaring code is not code," Page said. "Have you paid anything to Oracle for using that intellectual property?" Bicks asked. "When Sun established Java, they established it as an open source thing," Page said. "I believe the APIs we used were pretty open. No, we didn't pay for the free and open things." [...] "Was Google seeking a license for Java?" Google lawyer Robert Van Nest asked. "Yes, and a broader deal around other things, like branding and cooperation," Page said. "After discussions with Sun broke off, did you believe Google needed a license for APIs?" Van Nest asked. "No, I did not believe that," Page said. "It was established industry practice that the API and just the headers of those things could be taken and re-implemented. [It must be done] very carefully, not to use any existing implementation of those systems. That's been done many, many times. I think we acted responsibly and carefully around these intellectual property issues."

NASA's Planet Hunter Spots Record 1,284 New Planets, 9 In A Habitable Zone ( 83

coondoggie quotes a report from Network World: NASA's planet hunting space telescope Kepler added a record 1,284 confirmed planets to its already impressive discoveries of extraterrestrial worlds. [This batch of planets is the largest single account of new planets since Kepler launched in 2009 and more than doubles the number of confirmed planets realized by the space telescope so far to more than 2,300.] The discoveries were a result of an automated technique implemented in a publicly available custom software package called Vespa, which lets scientists analyze thousands of signals Kepler has identified to determine which are most likely to be caused by planets and which are caused by non-planetary objects such as stars. "Vespa computed the reliability values for over 7,000 signals identified in the latest Kepler catalog which identified 4,302 potential planets and verified the 1,284 planets with 99% certainty," said the Princeton researchers that developed Vespa. NASA said, based on their size, nearly 550 of the validated planets could be rocky like Earth. Nine of which orbit in their sun's habitable zone.

Flexible Floating Football-Field Sized Solar Panels ( 70

mdsolar writes: Offshore wind farms are growing in popularity as energy providers look for different ways of harvesting power from the sun without using valuable land resources. One unique idea being developed by engineers at Vienna University of Technology is a floating platform called a Heliofloat that would function as a sea-based solar power station.... an open-bottom, flexible float as large as a football field and covered from edge to edge with solar panels. Heliofloats can operate as standalone platforms for smaller operations with moderate energy requirements. Multiple heliofloats also can be connected together, forming a floating solar-harvesting power grid.
Each heliofloat is 100 meters long, reportedly cheap and easy to build, and may eventually be used to power desalination plants and biomass extraction.

Oracle Patches 136 Flaws In 49 Products 23

An anonymous reader writes: Oracle has released the April 2016 Critical Patch Update, which provides fixes for 136 vulnerabilities in 49 products, including Java SE and MySQL, the company's Database Server and E-Business Suite, its Fusion Middleware, and its Sun Systems Products Suite. "Oracle continues to periodically receive reports of attempts to maliciously exploit vulnerabilities for which Oracle has already released fixes. In some instances, it has been reported that attackers have been successful because targeted customers had failed to apply available Oracle patches. Oracle therefore strongly recommends that customers remain on actively-supported versions and apply Critical Patch Update fixes without delay," the company advised.

Shockwave Images Help NASA In Development of 'Quiet' Supersonic Jet ( 63

An anonymous reader writes: NASA is working on developing a next-generation supersonic jet that can break the sound barrier with a soft "thump" instead of a sonic boom. They are using a technique called schlieren imagery to "visualize supersonic flow phenomena with full-scale aircraft in flight" with the sun as the backdrop for the photos. According to a NASA blog post, viewing shock waves and their density is crucial to the project so engineers can work on a design to minimize those reverberations. While the Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) research aircraft is being developed, stunning images were captured of a supersonic jet flying at Mach 1.05 with the sun in the background. NASA says when QueSST is operational, it could "unlock the future to commercial supersonic flight over land," essentially ushering in a new era of aviation that could allow us to get from point A to point B faster and without the loud roar of the Concorde as it breaks the sound barrier.

Solar Panel Developed That Can Generate Electricity From Rain ( 106

Reader Socguy writes: Scientists in China have developed a prototype solar panel with a single atom-thick layer of graphene on the surface. This layer allows the panel to generate electricity, not just from the sun but also from any rain that falls on it. This development promises to further boost the output of solar panels during times of less than optimal conditions.Also from the report, "All it takes is a mere one-atom thick graphene layer for an excessive amount of electrons to move as they wish across the surface. In situations where water is present, graphene binds its electrons with positively charged ions. Some of you may know this process to be called as the Lewis acid-base interaction."

Monster Black Holes May Lurk All Around Us ( 184

Taco Cowboy quotes a report from Yahoo News: Astronomers have stumbled upon a supermassive black hole in an unexpected corner of the Universe, implying these galactic monsters are much more common than once thought, a study said Wednesday. The giant, with an estimated mass 17 billion times that of our Sun, was discovered in a relative desert, astronomers from the University of California, Berkeley, wrote in the journal Nature. "While finding a gigantic black hole in a massive galaxy in a crowded area of the Universe is to be expected -- like running across a skyscraper in Manhattan -- it seemed less likely they could be found in the Universe's small towns," said a university statement. Big, star-rich galaxies where supermassive black holes had previously been found, are very rare. Smaller ones like the NGC 1600 galaxy housing the newly-discovered whopper, are much more common, but were not previously thought to be appropriate host. "So the question now is: 'Is this the tip of an iceberg?'" said study co-author Chung-Pei Ma. "Maybe there are a lot more monster black holes out there that don't live in a skyscraper in Manhattan, but in a tall building somewhere in the Midwestern plains." The largest supermassive black hole spotted to date tipped the scales at about 21 billion solar masses, said the study authors.

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