Forget About Asteroids Colliding w/ Earth, Here Comes Mercury

Solar System - Planets

Bad news:

Computer simulations of long-term planetary motion for our solar systems reveals that Jupiter may eventually destabilize Mercury’s orbit over time. Mercury already has an eccentric orbit and it’s entirely possible influences from larger bodies could accentuate that orbit to the point where it overlaps with Venus.

And if that happens, the smaller planet (Mercury) would careen off and all bets are off at that point, Earth could be a likely recipient of a catastrophic kissing of planets and I’m sure you know what that means for civilization.

Good news:

There is only a 1% chance of this occurring before Sol balloons into a red giant billions of years from now, but still…wouldn’t that be cool?

Sky & Telescope has the doomsday scenario announced by the Paris Observatory and University of California, Santa Cruz.

[via fark]

Lost Producers Give a Few Hints To Popular Mechanics

Lost - Hadron Collider

Executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse tell Popular Mechanics they’ve been following the development of the Large Hadron Collider above (right) as they lay out Lost‘s time-travel plot for the rest of this season.

Could one of the Dharma Initiative’s stations (left) create a mini black hole into the future?

Note: One of the safety concerns of this collider constructed in Switzerland is that it may actually generate micro black holes that could lead to a doomsday scenario, though this claim is not widely adopted by the scientific community.

T-Rex ‘Tissue’ May Be the Real Deal After All

Dino

Scientists are puzzled by the purported discovery of something they thought couldn’t possibly still exist — bits of soft tissue from a Tyrannosaurus rex bone from Utah. Fossil-hunters found the matter two years ago, and skeptics have challenged its authenticity ever since.

But now there’s new evidence suggesting the tissue is the real thing. They’ve successfully retrieved a tiny sequence of protein from the 68 million year old fossil.

Listen to the 3 minute NPR podcast on the find.

Shutdown Day 2008

Shutdown Day

Shutdown Day 2008 is your opportunity to be part of one of the biggest global experiments ever to take place on the Internet. The idea behind Shutdown Day is to find out how many people can go without a computer for one whole day, and what will happen if we all participate; the initiative was started by Denis Bystrov and Ashutosh Rajekar, both of Montreal, Canada.

I think we can all agree that being asked to go without your computer for a day is a big ask, especially if you’re addicted to e-mail, IM’ing, surfing the web. But if you could find some other interesting activities to do for just a day other than sitting at your PC, you may discover something about yourself and your priorities.

Here’s a youtube video they produced, pitching the event:

[youtube qbn5uRuIDm8]

Bigfoot in the News

 Bigfoot

News on our favorite 7 foot primate:

– At the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, John Green lays out his case for the authenticity of the creature seen in the famous 1967 photo above by asking  you to “Notice the Arms“.

– While the trackers didn’t actually see or hear the beast, Bigfoot tracks were spotted in West Virginia.

– Man charges Bigfoot with molestation. The AP video on this story below:

[youtube jX1DaIjrhRU]

Colleges are Targets of E-Mail Scam

Fish

Thousands of users at many colleges this month have been targets of a phishing attack, sending network admins scrambling.  This broad attack at higher education is turning many user accounts of the university networks into zombies, so if you’re a recipient of a Viagra advert from a college kid, now you know.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has the details and the weird awareness campaign by Louisiana State University.

Skype Introduces ‘Unlimited’ World Calling Plan

Maintaining its free computer-to-computer video, voice, and instant messaging, Skype announced today an “unlimited” €8.95 monthly calling plan for connecting to international mobile and landlines.

As usual with network providers, “unlimited” means limited to 10,000 minutes per month, which Skype says is more than 5 hours a day, but the flat fee allows users to call any of 34 countries.

Battlestar Galactica’s Secret Cylons Tell All

BSG

If you have the Sci-Fi channel, are you watching the last season of BSG in recent weeks?

It’s all about the ‘final 5’ cylons, 4 of which were revealed at the end of the last season. Well, io9 has a private Q&A with the 4 and some secrets are revealed (spoilers).

Learn more about the eyepatch, crying during sex, hair loss and much more, some of it silly.

Check out io9 and their Sci-Fi BSG tell all.

Microsoft: "We took out Storm botnet"

 Windows Security Sheild

In malware news today, Computerworld is reporting that Microsoft took credit for crushing the Storm botnet, saying that the malware search-and-destroy tool it distributes to Windows users disinfected so many bots that the hackers threw in the towel. Its malware scanner cleaned more than 500k PCs infected with the bot in ’07

You can read this to mean the hackers squeezed out as much money as possible from Storm and are working on v2.

In other related malware/adware news:

Some users may like adware

China continues to face severe botnet problem

Preparing For The Vegas Star Trek Convention

StarTrek

This August is the 41st anniversary of Star Trek and is also the yearly occurrence of the Star Trek convention in Vegas. This is the big one as far as the worldwide ST cons go. I don’t get out to many cons but 2 years ago I attended the Stargate convention in Vancouver, BC where the show is filmed, next year it’ll probably be Dragon Con that gets my convention $$$.

Anyway, I have tickets, hotel, will be driving to the con in 4 months and I’m starting to look for additional things I can do to prepare. Like map out the activities I plan on attending, photo ops I want to sign up for, Klingon Language to learn, autographs to obtain, contests to enter on-site.

OK, I made up the one on learning the Klingon alphabet, it’s too much strain on my throat, you have to make a lot of thick throat gagging sounds to get it right. See for yourself:

Klingon alphabet

Welp, maybe you can’t really tell by looking at the glyphs but you get the point, it’s not happening. I’ll just wimp out and read the English translations of any Klingon text, thank you very much.

Speaking of manly-men, how much of a man or geek do you have to be though to get one of these and read it:

It’s advertised as:

Prepared by the Klingon Language Institute, The Klingon Hamlet presents full English and Klingon versions of Shakespeare’s play side by side. Only experienced Klingon speakers will be able to fully appreciate the nuances of the Klingon-language version, but for anyone who has dabbled in the language, this is an excellent opportunity to acquire large chunks of authentic text to practice on.

South Koreans Clone Their Sniffer Dog

dog

South Korea reckons that ‘Chase’, a Canadian Labrador Retriever is the BEST SNIFFER DOG around. So instead of buddying him up with newbie dogs to transfer his wealth of knowledge and skills, they did the next best thing…they made 7 more ‘Chases’ by cloning the mutt.

Apparently the dogs are doing well in their training and their genetic qualities look promising. If everything works out, they report for duty in June 2008.

On a side note:

Hurray me! I’ve had that dog icon above for over 2 years and I finally have an opportunity to use it. I think this is going to be a good week after all!

Quickly Lock Your Windows PC

For years I’ve been using the Windows+L key combination to lock my workstation. Recently I stumbled across this neat trick. Create a shortcut on your quick launch toolbar that will lock the workstation for you.

Steps:

1. Right click on your deksotp and select New, Shortcut
2. Paste this text in – rundll32.exe user32.dll,LockWorkStation
3. Click next and type a name for the shortcut, like maybe Lock
4. Click Finish
5. You can right click on your new shortcut and change the icon (there is a lock icon as part of the collection in %SystemRoot%\system32\SHELL32.dll)
6. Drag the icon to your taskbar

Voila!

Earthcore: The World’s First Podcast-Only Novel

In 2005, fiction author Scott Sigler announced the release of EarthCore as “the world’s first Podcast-only novel.” He released an hour of audio each week, creating a format similar to weekly drama TV shows with continuing storylines. The free Podcast feed ran for 24 episodes and one might even credit him with the boom in podiocast’ing of novels today (go to podiobooks.com and marvel at what’s available for free or with a small paypal donation).

In his press release at the time, Sigler said:

EarthCore is the first Podcast novel because it is not available in any other format. Listeners can’t buy the book and peek at the last page, they have to wait each week for a new episode. You can listen to them on your iPod or MP3 player, letting you enjoy the story while driving, at the gym, walking — anywhere you want to listen. Listeners don’t have to be in a specific place at a specific time. You listen whenever you want.

I’m just sorry I missed out on it 3 years ago, in the past week and a half I’ve been addicted to it. If you read Geeknews via a feed then you didn’t see the update to my sidebar this weekend calling attention to Earthcore, I like it that much. If you enjoy sci-fi/suspense/blood ‘n guts, you owe it to yourself to listen, give it 4 or 5 episodes and you’ll be hooked.

Reviewers say:

– “This audio book has everything: cutting-edge science; a perfectly-realized setting; terror both plausible and profoundly unsettling.”

– “EarthCore is in-your-face, steel-tipped boot on your throat, speed-metal fiction!”

Here’s the synopsis:

Deep below a desolate Utah mountain lays the largest platinum deposit ever discovered. A billion-dollar find, it waits for any company that can drill a world’s record, three-mile-deep mine shaft.

EarthCore is the company with the technology, the resources and the guts to go after the mother lode. Young executive Connell Kirkland is the company’s driving force, pushing himself and those around him to uncover the massive treasure.

But Kirkland and EarthCore are not the first to find this treasure. The mountain’s history reveals two centuries of disappearances, murder, and insanity.

The discovery of ancient platinum knives, razor-sharp despite lying untouched for 1,000 years, reveals evidence of an ancient culture. If the artifacts are genuine, they show a pre-historic empire that once spanned from the Southern tip of South America all the way up through the American Southwest.
Wealth and fame lie under that Utah mountain, but at three miles below the surface, where the rocks are so hot they burn bare skin, something has been waiting for centuries. Waiting … and guarding. Kirkland and EarthCore are about to find out first-hand why this treasure has never been unearthed.

Highly recommended!

Sharing Spit Forces Changes In DNA Testing

Medical

In a recent paternity test, a DNA sample was taken from a suspected father in the case. For quite a few years now, samples are usually taken from mouth to collect saliva cells to conduct the DNA analysis.

In the Journal of Forensic Sciences, Dr José Antonio Lorente Acosta (director of the Laboratory of Genetic Identification of the University of Granada) explains how saliva samples were collected from the subject’s mouth using the standard swabbing method you’ve probably seen on CSI dozens of times.

However, the saliva analysis (epithelial cells from the interior of mouth) taken from the person gave an incongruous result, a DNA which could not come from the man who had carried out the test.

After repeating the analysis, there was an only one possible conclusion: In the mouth of that man there was DNA from two different persons.

After dismissing other possibilities, the question was: how was it possible? The analysts met with the person in question and showed him the results and explained that they thought he was purposely trying to manipulate the samples which could get him in serious trouble with the judge in the case.

Faced with the evidence, he admitted that shortly before the mouth swab he put someone else’s saliva in his mouth, saliva that he had kept in a little container for the moment. This will cause a change in the protocol for the process moving forward; it will be compulsory for the donor to wash his mouth out before a witness.

The University of Granada Science News has more detailed information.

Hack an Elevator

This hack will put some elevator cars into an express mode, sending you directly to your desired floor, bypassing any requests from patrons at floors in between your originating and destination floors.

[youtube vr6YKXlhXbY]

Youtube is chock full of other geeks demonstrating this same hack.