Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

Earth’s gravity revealed in unprecedented detail

In Europe News, Tech, World News on March 31, 2011 at 4:55 pm


After just two years in orbit, ESA’s GOCE satellite has gathered enough data to map Earth’s gravity with unrivalled precision. Scientists now have access to the most accurate model of the ‘geoid’ ever produced to further our understanding of how Earth works.

The new geoid was unveiled today at the Fourth International GOCE User Workshop hosted at the Technische Universität München in Munich, Germany. Media representatives and scientists from around the world have been treated to the best view yet of global gravity.

The geoid is the surface of an ideal global ocean in the absence of tides and currents, shaped only by gravity. It is a crucial reference for measuring ocean circulation, sea-level change and ice dynamics – all affected by climate change.

Prof. Reiner Rummel, former Head of the Institute for Astronomical and Physical Geodesy at…

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Are there keyloggers on Samsung laptops?

In Big Brother, Tech on March 31, 2011 at 4:54 pm

By Elinor Mills

A security researcher says he discovered keylogging software installed on two brand-new Samsung laptops that could be used to monitor all activities on the computer remotely.

Mohamed Hassan, founder of NetSec Consulting, discovered StarLogger software on Samsung laptops with model numhebers R525 and 540 after running security scanning software on the systems when he bought them last month, writes in a guest column in Network World posted today.

Windows-based StarLogger starts up when the computer is turned on, records all keystrokes made on the computer, can be difficult to detect, and can be set to periodically send surreptitious e-mails with information gleaned from the computer to a predetermined e-mail address, with screen capture images attached. A Samsung representative told CNET this afternoon that the company would looking into the matter.

Late this evening, Samsung…

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Farmers and seed producers launch preemptive strike against Monsanto

In Americas on March 31, 2011 at 4:53 pm

By The Cornucopia Institute

New York – On behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations, the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed suit today against Monsanto Company challenging the chemical giant’s patents on genetically modified seed. The organic plaintiffs were forced to sue preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should their crops ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed.

Monsanto has sued farmers in the United States and Canada, in the past, when their patented genetic material has inadvertently contaminated their crops.

A copy of the lawsuit can be found at:

The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, was filed in federal district court in Manhattan and assigned to Judge Naomi Buchwald. Plaintiffs in the suit represent a…

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Radiation from Japan reaches Europe

In Europe News, World News on March 30, 2011 at 5:32 pm

By Andrew Willis

BRUSSELS – Small amounts of radiation thought to come from Japan’s crisis-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant have been detected across Europe.

On Tuesday (29 March), Britain’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) said “the minutest” levels of radioactive iodine had been detected at its air monitoring stations in Oxfordshire and Glasgow over the past nine days.

It stressed however that the levels were too low to cause any risk to human health, peaking at 300 micro-becquerels per cubic metre but averaging a much lower 11 micro-becquerels over the nine-day period.

“Levels may rise in the coming days and weeks but they will be significantly below any level that could cause harm to public health,” the HPA said in a statement.

Similar amounts of radioactive material…

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US set to give arms to Libyans

In Americas, World News on March 30, 2011 at 5:31 pm

By Paola Totaro

The United States has paved the way for Libya’s rebel groups to be armed by the international community if air strikes to oust Muammar Gaddafi fail.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed for the first time in London that the United Nations resolution did allow for the ”legitimate transfer of arms” to rebels if a nation chose to do so.

”Our interpretation of 1973 amended is that it overrode the absolute prohibition of arms to anyone in Libya … so there could be legitimate transfer of arms if a country chose to do that. We have not made that decision at this time,” she said.

Speaking at the Foreign Office after the summit on Libya late on Tuesday, Mrs Clinton stressed…

Debut of the first practical “artificial leaf”

In Tech on March 30, 2011 at 5:31 pm


ANAHEIM, March 27, 2011 — Scientists today claimed one of the milestones in the drive for sustainable energy — development of the first practical artificial leaf. Speaking here at the 241st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, they described an advanced solar cell the size of a poker card that mimics the process, called photosynthesis, that green plants use to convert sunlight and water into energy.

“A practical artificial leaf has been one of the Holy Grails of science for decades,” said Daniel Nocera, Ph.D., who led the research team. “We believe we have done it. The artificial leaf shows particular promise as an inexpensive source of electricity for homes of the poor in developing countries. Our goal is to make each home its own power station,” he said.

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It’s tracking your every move and you may not even know

In Big Brother, Europe News, Tech on March 29, 2011 at 4:35 pm

By Noam Cohen

A favorite pastime of Internet users is to share their location: services like GoogleLatitude can inform friends when you are nearby; another, Foursquare, has turned reporting these updates into a game.

But as a German Green party politician, Malte Spitz, recently learned, we are already continually being tracked whether we volunteer to be or not. Cellphone companies do not typically divulge how much information they collect, so Mr. Spitz went to court to find out exactly what his cellphone company…

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Libya is another case of selective vigilantism by the west

In World News on March 29, 2011 at 4:35 pm

By Tarik Ali

Bombing Tripoli while shoring up other despots in the Arab world shows the UN-backed strikes to oust Gaddafi are purely cynical.

The US-Nato intervention in Libya, with United Nations security council cover, is part of an orchestrated response to show support for the movement against one dictator in particular and by so doing to bring the Arab rebellions to an end by asserting western control, confiscating their impetus and spontaneity and trying to restore the status quo ante.

It is absurd to think that the reasons for bombing Tripoli or for the turkey shoot outside Benghazi are designed to protect civilians. This particular argument…

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Reactors now leaking plutonium into soil

In World News on March 29, 2011 at 4:34 pm

By Leonard Greene

Weapons-grade plutonium was found in the soil surrounding Japan’s crisis-stricken power plant yesterday, heightening fears at the facility, where workers have struggled for weeks to keep the nuclear lid from blowing off its damaged, leaky reactors.

The world’s most serious atomic crisis in 25 years went from bad to worse after crews discovered traces of the material — a key ingredient in nuclear weapons.

“The situation is very grave,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said today. “We are doing our utmost efforts to contain the damage.”

Still, plant managers downplayed the discovery of the plutonium 238, 239 and 240.

The Tokyo Electric Power Co., which…

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Google plans to turn your Android phone into an electronic wallet.

In Big Brother, Tech on March 28, 2011 at 8:26 pm

In the future, you better not lose your Android phone. Google is teaming up with MasterCard and Citigroup to turn your Android phone into a portable wallet, allowing you to pay for purchases simply by waving your phone around.

It would basically enable Citigroup…

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