Archive for June 2006

Huge asteroid to fly past Earth

USATODAY.com – Huge asteroid to fly past Earth July 3

By Joe Rao, SPACE.com Skywatching Columnist

An asteroid possibly as large as a half-mile or more in diameter is rapidly approaching the Earth. There is no need for concern, for no collision is in the offing, but the space rock will make an exceptionally close approach to our planet early on Monday, July 3, passing just beyond the moon’s average distance from Earth.

Astronomers will attempt to get a more accurate assessment of the asteroid’s size by “pinging” it with radar.

And skywatchers with good telescopes and some experience just might be able to get a glimpse of this cosmic rock as it streaks rapidly past our planet in the wee hours Monday. The closest approach occurs late Sunday for U.S. West Coast skywatchers.

The asteroid, designated 2004 XP14, was discovered on Dec. 10, 2004 by the Lincoln Laboratory Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR), a continuing camera survey to keep watch for asteroids that may pass uncomfortably close to Earth.

Although initially there were concerns that this asteroid might possibly impact Earth later this century and thus merit special monitoring, further analysis of its orbit has since ruled out any such collision, at least in the foreseeable future. [Read.More]

Archaeologists may have discovered a tropical version of Stonehenge

USATODAY.com – Archaeologists may have discovered a tropical version of Stonehenge

By Stan Lehman, Associated Press

SAO PAULO, Brazil — A grouping of granite blocks along a grassy Amazon hilltop may be the vestiges of a centuries-old astronomical observatory — a find archaeologists say indicates early rainforest inhabitants were more sophisticated than previously believed.

The 127 blocks, some as high as 9 feet tall, are spaced at regular intervals around the hill, like a crown 100 feet in diameter.

On the shortest day of the year — Dec. 21 — the shadow of one of the blocks disappears when the sun is directly above it.

“It is this block’s alignment with the winter solstice that leads us to believe the site was once an astronomical observatory,” said Mariana Petry Cabral, an archaeologist at the Amapa State Scientific and Technical Research Institute. “We may be also looking at the remnants of a sophisticated culture.” [Read.On]

Hackers use Google Pages to host Trojan horse – Network World

Hackers use Google Pages to host Trojan horse – Network World

Google’s Web site hosting service is apparently being used by hackers to try to steal money using a malicious program, a security company said.
Related links

Security vendor Websense Inc. warned on Friday that a Trojan horse is being hosted on a site with the same IP address as the main Google Pages Web site.

Trojan horses present themselves as legitimate programs but actually conceal malicious code inside. They can be engineered to steal information from computers and are frequently spread by unsolicited e-mails or via instant messaging (IM) links.

Users are enticed to open attachments or click on Web links to launch the Trojan, releasing the malicious code on their computer. [Full.Article]

Mini black holes might reveal 5th dimension

USATODAY.com – Mini black holes might reveal 5th dimension

By Ker Than, Space.com

A space telescope scheduled for launch in 2007 will be sensitive enough to detect theoretical miniature black holes lurking within our solar system, scientists say.

By doing so, it could test an exotic five-dimensional theory of gravity that competes with Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. That is, of course, if the tiny black holes actually exist.

The idea, recently detailed online in the journal Physical Review D, is being proposed by Charles Keeton, a physicist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and Arlie Petters of Duke University in North Carolina.

Branes

The Randall-Sundrum braneworld model, named after the scientists who created it, states that the visible universe is a membrane embedded within a larger universe, like a strand of seaweed floating in the ocean. Unlike the universe described by General Relativity — which has three dimensions of space and one of time — the braneworld universe contains an extra fourth dimension of space for a total of five dimensions.

If the braneworld theory is true, it would “upset the applecart,” Petters said. “It would confirm that there is a fourth dimension to space, which would create a philosophical shift in our understanding of the natural world.”

The braneworld theory predicts the existence of tiny black holes seeded throughout the universe, remnants of the Big Bang. Thousands of them should exist in our solar system. General Relativity, in contrast, predicts that such primordial black holes evaporated long ago.

The researchers predict that braneworld black holes are about the size of an atomic nucleus but have masses similar to that of a tiny asteroid.

Gamma ray ripples

Petters and Keeton say their theory is testable. The mini-black holes should warp the fabric of space-time differently from other types of black holes — thosr of stellar-mass and the supermassive variety — due to their close association with the fifth dimension. Light, specifically gamma-rays, should be distorted differently when they whiz past braneworld black holes compared to conventional black holes.

“Our calculations show that braneworld black holes will give you a certain ripple in the gamma rays that would be different from general relativity,” Petters told SPACE.com.

The researchers think that the Gamma-ray Large Space Telescope (GLAST) scheduled for launch in 2007 should be sensitive enough to detect the gamma ray distortions. [Original]

Copyright 2006, SPACE.com Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Google and Its Continuing Dark Fiber Mystery

eWeek: Google and Its Continuing Dark Fiber Mystery

The market is still guessing about Google’s continued purchases of “dark fiber” and what that will mean to the Internet. Yet another explanation was floated at a recent IT conference: IPv6, the next-generation Internet standard.

During a debate on the adoption of Internet Protocol Version 6 at the Burton Group’s annual Catalyst conference in San Francisco, Alex Lightman, CEO of IP telephony vendor Innofone.com, offered a new reason for Google’s expenditures on dark fiber.

His observation came during a dialogue on Internet addressing and the lack of support by service providers for IPv6. He is worried that the United States is focused on the present and is not addressing future needs.

According to Lightman, some service providers are preparing for IPv6. He ran down a list of companies with “slash 20” addresses.

“You know who else has a big pot of slash 20? Google,” Lightman said. “Yahoo does too. It’s not that service providers aren’t doing it—it’s the savvy service providers, with the high multiples and visionary management, that are getting ready to go into it.

“This is why Google bought mobile dark fiber. It’s to go out and go: ‘All these bozos in America aren’t rolling out IPv6, so we’ll do it if they aren’t going to,'” he said. [Read.More]

Cyber-criminals Use P2P Tools for Identity Theft, Security Analyst Warns

eWeek: Cyber-criminals Use P2P Tools for Identity Theft, Security Analyst Warns

EAST PALO ALTO, Calif.— Cyber-criminals are multiplying quickly and becoming more sophisticated in the ways in which they take advantage of unwitting Internet individual users and companies, a nationally recognized cyber-security specialist told an SD Forum seminar audience June 22.

And peer-to-peer networks such as Limewire, Kazaa, Grokster and others aren’t helping to quell the increase in crimes committed via the Internet, he said.

“It used to be only burglaries from people’s homes and businesses,” said Howard Schmidt, a former cyber-security adviser to the Bush administration, former chief information security officer at Microsoft and eBay, and now a principal in R&H Security Consulting in Issaquah, Wash.

“Those still happen, of course, but now, it’s so much more lucrative to break into people’s online information and steal someone’s identity, that a lot of bad people around the world are spending an awful lot of time learning to do it.” [Read.On]

U.S. Navy: Data Breach Affects 28,000

eWeek: U.S. Navy: Data Breach Affects 28,000

Five spreadsheet files with personal data on approximately 28,000 sailors and family members were found on an open Web site, the U.S. Navy announced June 23.

The personal data included the name, birth date and social security number on several Navy members and dependents. The Navy said it was notified on June 22 of the breach and is working to identify and notify the individuals affected.

“There is no evidence that any of the data has been used illegally. However, individuals are encouraged to carefully monitor their bank accounts, credit card accounts and other financial transactions,” the Navy said in a statement.

Thats gotta suck… ;-<

Intel pushing its ‘Woodcrest’ chips

eWeek: Will Intel Get Its Groove Back with ‘Woodcrest’?

Server makers are lining up a host of new and enhanced systems armed with Intel’s new “Woodcrest” Xeon processor, a chip built on a new architecture that promises better performance coupled with greater energy efficiency.

Intel initially said the Xeon 5100 family—based on Intel’s new Core microarchitecture—would be released in the third quarter. However, earlier this month the giant chip maker pushed up the date to June 26 in an attempt to take back momentum from rival Advanced Micro Devices, which has gained market share over the past couple of years based on the strength of the performance-per-watt capabilities of its Opteron processors.

Various OEMs say the Xeon 5100 chips put Intel solidly back in the game. Officials with Dell say the new chips will help its PowerEdge servers improve performance by up to 152 percent while lowering power consumption by as much as 25 percent. [Read.On]

Hubble telescope’s main camera has stopped working

USATODAY.com – Hubble telescope’s main camera has stopped working

BALTIMORE (AP) — The main camera on the Hubble Space Telescope, which has revolutionized astronomy with its stunning pictures of the universe, has stopped working, engineers who work on the camera said Saturday.

The Advanced Camera for Surveys, a third-generation instrument installed by a space shuttle crew in 2002, went off line Monday, and engineers are still trying to figure out what happened and how to repair it.

“It’s still off line today,” Max Mutchler, an instruments specialist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, said Saturday.

Engineers are hopeful the problem can be fixed, said Ed Campion, a NASA spokesman at Goddard Space Flight Center outside Baltimore, which is responsible for managing the Hubble. [Read.On]

Earth is hottest now in 2,000 years

USATODAY.com – Study: Earth is hottest now in 2,000 years; humans responsible for much of the warming

By John Heilprin, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — It has been 2,000 years and possibly much longer since the Earth has run such a fever. The National Academy of Sciences, reaching that conclusion in a broad review of scientific work requested by Congress, reported Thursday that the “recent warmth is unprecedented for at least the last 400 years and potentially the last several millennia.”

A panel of top climate scientists told lawmakers that the Earth is heating up and that “human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming.” Their 155-page report said average global surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere rose about 1 degree during the 20th century.

The report was requested in November by the chairman of the House Science Committee, Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y., to address naysayers who question whether global warming is a major threat.

Last year, when the House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, launched an investigation of three climate scientists, Boehlert said Barton should try to learn from scientists, not intimidate them.

Other new research Thursday showed that global warming produced about half of the extra hurricane-fueled warmth in the North Atlantic in 2005, and natural cycles were a minor factor, according to Kevin Trenberth and Dennis Shea of the Commerce Department’s National Center for Atmospheric Research. Their study is being published by the American Geophysical Union.

The panel looked at how other scientists reconstructed the Earth’s temperatures going back thousands of years, before there was data from modern scientific instruments.

For all but the most recent 150 years, the academy scientists relied on “proxy” evidence from tree rings, corals, glaciers and ice cores, cave deposits, ocean and lake sediments, boreholes and other sources. They also examined indirect records such as paintings of glaciers in the Alps.

Combining that information gave the panel “a high level of confidence that the last few decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the last 400 years,” the academy said.

Overall, the panel agreed that the warming in the last few decades of the 20th century was unprecedented over the last 1,000 years, though relatively warm conditions persisted around the year 1000, followed by a “Little Ice Age” from about 1500 to 1850. [Full.Article]

Stephen Hawking worried about global warming

USATODAY.com – Stephen Hawking warns about global warming

By Alexa Olesen, Associated Press

BEIJING — Stephen Hawking expressed concern about global warming Wednesday even as he charmed and provoked a group of Chinese students.

Before an audience of 500 at a seminar in Beijing, the celebrity cosmologist said, “I like Chinese culture, Chinese food and above all Chinese women. They are beautiful.”

The audience of mostly university students and professors and a smattering of journalists laughed and applauded.

Asked about the environment, Hawking, who suffers from a degenerative disease, uses a wheelchair and speaks through a computerized voice synthesizer, said he was “very worried about global warming.”

He said he was afraid that Earth “might end up like Venus, at 250 degrees centigrade and raining sulfuric acid.”

The comment is a pointed one for China — which is the second largest emitter of the greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming, after the United States. Experts warn that if emissions aren’t reduced the world’s glaciers could melt, threatening cities and triggering droughts and other environmental disasters. [….]

Linux 2.6.17 Kernel: Better Wi-Fi, Faster Performance

Linux 2.6.17 Kernel: Better Wi-Fi, Faster Performance

This past Saturday, June 17, saw the arrival of the latest stable version of the Linux kernel: Linux 2.6.17.

While this new kernel doesn’t boast any earth-shaking additions, it does include numerous improvements to Linux for both users and developers.

For many laptop users, the most important news is that Linux now includes built-in driver support for the Broadcom 43xx-based wireless card family.

This Wi-Fi chip family is found in many laptops such as many models from Acer, Apple (those using Airport Extreme), Compaq and Dell. [Read.On]

Unpatched Apps Riskier than Malware

Bit9: Unpatched Apps Riskier than Malware

Bit9, of Cambridge, Mass., on June 20 released a list of 15 widely deployed applications with critical vulnerabilities that go unnoticed in enterprise IT organizations and urged businesses to clamp down on the use of out-of-date software.

The Bit9 list includes versions of several mainstream products—Mozilla Firefox, Apple’s iTunes and QuickTime, Skype, Adobe Acrobat Reader and Sun JRE (Java Runtime Environment)—that contain critical, code-execution vulnerabilities.

The company said the list is limited to applications that are well-known in the consumer space and are frequently downloaded by employees, often without the approval of IT departments.

“[They] rely on the end user, rather than a central administrator, to manually patch or upgrade the software to eliminate the vulnerability,” the company said in its advisory, noting that network administrators have no control over whether the vulnerable versions of the software are updated.

For example, Firefox 1.0.7 contains multiple security flaws that range from memory corruption to buffer overflows. [Read.On]