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  • Mysterious, Phony Cell Towers Found Throughout US

    Trachman writes: Popular Science magazine recently published an article about a network of cell towers owned not by telecommunication companies but by unknown third parties. Many of them are built around U.S. military bases. "Interceptors vary widely in expense and sophistication – but in a nutshell, they are radio-equipped computers with software that can use arcane cellular network protocols and defeat the onboard encryption. ... Some interceptors are limited, only able to passively listen to either outgoing or incoming calls. But full-featured devices like the VME Dominator, available only to government agencies, can not only capture calls and texts, but even actively control the phone, sending out spoof texts, for example."

    96 comments | 5 hours ago

  • Invasion of Ukraine Continues As Russia Begins Nuclear Weapons Sabre Rattling

    cold fjord writes Russian President has issued a stark indication of Russia's military capabilities: "I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations. This is a reality, not just words." According to News.com.au, "It's the first time in more than 25 years that Moscow has raised the spectre of nuclear war. The difference this time is that its tanks are already pouring over its western borders." To put numbers behind that, "Russia has moved 4,000 to 5,000 military personnel — a figure far higher than one U.S. official's earlier claim of 1,000 troops. The soldiers are aligned in 'formed units' and fighting around Luhansk and Donetsk.... And they may soon have company: Some 20,000 troops are on border and 'more may be on the way.'" On top of that, the Ukraine Defence Minister claims Russia has made threats that they're prepared to use tactical nuclear weapons to stop further resistance.

    487 comments | 9 hours ago

  • NATO Set To Ratify Joint Defense For Cyberattacks

    An anonymous reader writes: At the upcoming NATO meeting, according to the NY Times, the 28 member states are expected to ratify "a far-reaching change in the organization's mission of collective defense: For the first time, a cyberattack on any of the 28 NATO nations could be declared an attack on all of them, much like a ground invasion or an airborne bombing." A former NATO ambassador describes NATO's technological capability as "pretty basic" and suggests any counter-cyberattacks would likely be lodged by member states (meaning the U.S. and maybe Britain). He opines, "It's a measure of how far we've come on this issue that there's now a consensus that a cyberattack could be as devastating as any other kind of attack, maybe even more so." Helpfully, the agreement avoids defining what sort of "cyberattack" would warrant an armed response. The Times describes the agreement as "deliberately unclear."

    32 comments | 13 hours ago

  • Islamic State "Laptop of Doom" Hints At Plots Including Bubonic Plague

    Foreign Policy has an in-depth look at the contents of a laptop reportedly seized this year in Syria from a stronghold of the organization now known as the Islamic State, and described as belonging to a Tunisian national ("Muhammed S."). The "hidden documents" folder of the machine, says the report, contained a vast number of documents, including ones describing and justifying biological weapons: The laptop's contents turn out to be a treasure trove of documents that provide ideological justifications for jihadi organizations -- and practical training on how to carry out the Islamic State's deadly campaigns. They include videos of Osama bin Laden, manuals on how to make bombs, instructions for stealing cars, and lessons on how to use disguises in order to avoid getting arrested while traveling from one jihadi hot spot to another. ... The information on the laptop makes clear that its owner is a Tunisian national named Muhammed S. who joined ISIS in Syria and who studied chemistry and physics at two universities in Tunisia's northeast. Even more disturbing is how he planned to use that education: The ISIS laptop contains a 19-page document in Arabic on how to develop biological weapons and how to weaponize the bubonic plague from infected animals. ... "The advantage of biological weapons is that they do not cost a lot of money, while the human casualties can be huge," the document states.

    362 comments | 4 days ago

  • Particle Physics To Aid Nuclear Cleanup

    mdsolar sends this report from Symmetry Magazine: Cosmic rays can help scientists do something no one else can: safely image the interior of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. ... [M]uon tomography is similar to taking an X-ray, only it uses naturally produced muons. These particles don't damage the imaged materials and, because they already stream through everything on Earth, they can be used to image even the most sensitive objects. Better yet, a huge amount of shielding is needed to stop muons from passing through an object, making it nearly impossible to hide from muon tomography. ... By determining how muons scatter as they interact with electrons and nuclei within the item, the team's software creates a three-dimensional picture of what's inside. ... To prove the technology, the Los Alamos team shipped a demo detector system to a small, working nuclear reactor in a Toshiba facility in Kawasaki, Japan. There, they placed one detector on either side of the reactor core. "When we analyzed our data we discovered that in addition to the fuel in the reactor core, they had put a few fuel bundles off to the side that we didn't know about," says Morris. "They were really impressed that not only could we image the core, but that we also found those bundles."

    35 comments | 4 days ago

  • No, a Stolen iPod Didn't Brick Ben Eberle's Prosthetic Hand

    New submitter willoremus writes A wounded Army vet had his $75k prosthetic hand bricked when someone stole his iPod Touch? Yeah, not so much. I'm a tech reporter for Slate.com, and a Slashdot post earlier this week prompted me to look into this story and ultimately debunk some of the key info. Sorry for self-posting, but I thought folks here might be interested in the truth since the false story was one of the top posts earlier this week.

    122 comments | 5 days ago

  • Russian Military Forces Have Now Invaded Ukraine

    SpzToid (869795) writes Those plucky "Ukrainian separatist's" ambition to join Russia have now been given Russian military support, as the Russian Army with long columns of armor have invaded Ukraine and have opened up a second warring front, in a big way. The Reuters report, interestingly, quotes a member of Putin's own advisory council on human rights describing the move as an invasion: "When masses of people, under commanders' orders, on tanks, APCs and with the use of heavy weapons, (are) on the territory of another country, cross the border, I consider this an invasion."

    832 comments | 5 days ago

  • $75K Prosthetic Arm Is Bricked When Paired iPod Is Stolen

    kdataman writes U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ben Eberle, who lost an arm and both legs in Afghanistan, had his Ipod Touch stolen on Friday. This particular Ipod Touch has an app on it that controls his $75,000 prosthetic arm. The robbery bricked his prosthesis: "That is because Eberle's prosthetic hand is programmed to only work with the stolen iPod, and vice versa. Now that the iPod is gone, he said he has to get a new hand and get it reprogrammed with his prosthesis." I see three possibilities: 1) The article is wrong, possibly to guilt the thief into returning the Ipod. 2) This is an incredibly bad design by Touch Bionics. Why would you make a $70,000 piece of equipment permanently dependent on a specific Ipod Touch? Ipods do fail or go missing. 3) This is an intentionally bad design to generate revenue. Maybe GM should do this with car keys? "Oops, lost the keys to the corvette. Better buy a new one."

    194 comments | about a week ago

  • Put A Red Cross PSA In Front Of the ISIS Beheading Video

    Bennett Haselton writes After footage of James Foley's beheading by ISIS terrorists was posted online on Tuesday, Twitter and Youtube elected to remove any footage or links to the footage posted by users. Obviously this reduces the incentive for terrorist groups to post such content, by shrinking their audience, but it also reduces the public's access to information. Would it be ethical to make the content available, if it was preceded by an advertisement for a cause that runs counter to everything ISIS stands for? Read below to see what Bennett has to say.

    300 comments | about a week ago

  • Air Force Requests Info For Replacement Atlas 5 Engine

    schwit1 (797399) writes The U.S. Air Force on Thursday issued a request for information from industry for the replacement of the Russian-made engines used by ULA's Atlas 5 rocket: "Companies are being asked to respond by Sept. 19 to 35 questions. Among them: "What solution would you recommend to replace the capability currently provided by the RD-180 engine?" Air Force officials have told Congress they only have a broad idea of how to replace the RD-180. Estimates of the investment in money and time necessary to field an American-built alternative vary widely. Congress, meanwhile, is preparing bills that would fund a full-scale engine development program starting next year; the White House is advocating a more deliberate approach that begins with an examination of applicable technologies. In the request for information, the Air Force says it is open to a variety of options including an RD-180 facsimile, a new design, and alternative configurations featuring multiple engines, and even a brand new rocket. The Air Force is also trying to decide on the best acquisition approach. Options include a traditional acquisition or a shared investment as part of a public-private partnership. [emphasis mine]"

    The Atlas 5 is built by Lockheed Martin. This is really their problem, not the Air Force or ULA. In addition, the Air Force has other options, both from Boeing's Delta rocket family as well as SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.

    107 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Finding an ISIS Training Camp Using Google Earth

    An anonymous reader writes: Terrorist organization ISIS has been in the news a lot lately for their hostile activities in Iraq and Syria. They've also been very active online, posting propaganda and photos on various social networking sites to try to recruit more members. Frequently, they'll have pictures of themselves in nondescript locations — but even carefully selected images give clues to a real location. Citizen journalists at Bellingcat analyzed a group of these photos, comparing buildings and bridges in the background to images from Google Earth. With very little to go on, they were able to pinpoint the location of a terrorist training camp.

    134 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Would Scottish Independence Mean the End of UK's Nuclear Arsenal?

    Lasrick writes The referendum on Scottish independence on September 18th affects more than just residents of the United Kingdom. All of the UK's nuclear deterrent is located in Scotland, and Alex Salmond and the Scottish government have pledged to safely remove and permanently ban nuclear weapons from Scottish territory within the first term of a newly independent parliament.

    375 comments | about two weeks ago

  • NASA's Space Launch System Searches For a Mission

    schwit1 writes: Managers of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) are searching for a mission that they can propose and convince Congress to fund. "Once SLS is into the 2020s, the launch rate should see the rocket launching at least once per year, ramping up to a projected three times per year for the eventual Mars missions. However, the latter won’t be until the 2030s. With no missions manifested past the EM-2 flight, the undesirable question of just how 'slow' a launch rate would be viable for SLS and her workforce has now been asked." Meanwhile, two more Russian rocket engines were delivered yesterday, the first time that's happened since a Russian official threatened to cut off the supply. Another shipment of three engines is expected later this year. In Europe, Arianespace and the European Space Agency signed a contract today for the Ariane 5 rocket to launch 12 more of Europe’s Galileo GPS satellites on three launches. This situation really reminds me of the U.S. launch market in the 1990s, when Boeing and Lockheed Martin decided that, rather than compete with Russia and ESA for the launch market, they instead decided to rely entirely on U.S. government contracts, since those contracts didn’t really demand that they reduce their costs significantly to compete.

    53 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Two Years of Data On What Military Equipment the Pentagon Gave To Local Police

    v3rgEz writes: Wondering how the St. Louis County Police ended up armed with surplus military gear, and what equipment other departments have? A FOIA request at MuckRock has turned up every item given to local law enforcement under the Pentagon's 1022 program, the mechanism by which local law enforcement can apply for surplus or used military gear.

    264 comments | about two weeks ago

  • DARPA Contemplates Vast Ocean Network

    coondoggie writes Probably one of the last and perhaps unforgiving areas of the world not truly "wired" is above and below the ocean. Researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) want to explore the possibility of seriously changing that notion and develop what it calls "a system-of-systems architecture and critical components to support networked maritime operations, to include undersea, surface, and above surface domains."

    12 comments | about three weeks ago

  • DARPA Uses Preteen Gamers To Beta Test Tomorrow's Military Software

    Daniel_Stuckey writes with a story about an interesting (or, you might think, creepy) institution at the University of Washington's Seattle campus. It's the Center for Game Science, a research lab that makes educational video games for children, and that received the bulk of its funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the wing of the U.S. Department of Defense that supports research into experimental military technology. Why is DARPA the original primary funder of the CGS? According to written and recorded statements from current and former DARPA program managers, as well as other government documents, the DARPA-funded educational video games developed at the CGS have a purpose beyond the pretense of teaching elementary school children STEM skills.

    84 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Snowden: NSA Working On Autonomous Cyberwarfare Bot

    WIRED published a long piece on Edward Snowden today (worth a read on its own), and simultaneously broke news of "MonsterMind," an NSA program to monitor all network traffic and detect attacks, responding with a counterattack automatically. From the article: Although details of the program are scant, Snowden tells WIRED in an extensive interview with James Bamford that algorithms would scour massive repositories of metadata and analyze it to differentiate normal network traffic from anomalous or malicious traffic. Armed with this knowledge, the NSA could instantly and autonomously identify, and block, a foreign threat. More than this, though, Snowden suggests MonsterMind could one day be designed to return fire — automatically, without human intervention... Snowden raised two issues with the program: the source of an attack could be spoofed to trick the U.S. into attacking an innocent third party, and the violation of the fourth amendment since the NSA would effectively need to monitor all domestic network traffic for the program to work. Also in Bamford's interview are allegations that the NSA knocked Syria offline in 2012 after an attempt to install intercept software on an edge router ended with the router being bricked.

    194 comments | about three weeks ago

  • DARPA Wants To Kill the Password

    jfruh writes Many security experts agree that our current authentication system, in which end users are forced to remember (or, more often, write down) a dizzying array of passwords is broken. DARPA, the U.S. Defense Department research arm that developed the Internet, is trying to work past the problem by eliminating passwords altogether, replacing them with biometric and other cues, using off-the-shelf technology available today.

    383 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Point-and-Shoot: TrackingPoint's New Linux-Controlled AR-15s

    Ars Technica takes a look at the next generation of TrackingPoint's automatically aimed rifles (not "automatic" in the usual sense), and visited the shooting range where they're tested out. Like the company's previous generation of gun (still in production, and increasingly being sold to government buyers), TrackingPoint's offerings integrate a Linux computer that makes acquiring and tracking a target far easier and more accurate than it would otherwise be. Unlike the older models, though, this year TrackingPoint is concentrating on AR-15s, rather than longer, heavier bolt-action rifles. A slice: The signature "Tag-Track-Xact" system has gained additional functionality on the AR models, too. With the bolt-action guns, there was only one way to put a round onto a target: first, you sighted in on the thing you wanted to hit and depressed the red tagging button just above the trigger. A red pip would appear in the scope’s crosshairs, and you’d place the pip onto the target and release the button. The scope’s rangefinding laser would then illuminate the target to measure its distance, and the image processor would fix on the object; if you moved, or if the target moved, the red pip would remain atop the target. Then, to fire, you squeezed the trigger and lined the crosshairs up with the target’s pip. When the two coincided, the weapon fired. This method works fine for a bolt-action rifle where every round has to be manually chambered, but it’s less than ideal for a carbine, which one might want to fire off-hand (i.e., standing up and aiming) or from the hip. With this in mind, the AR PGFs have a new "free fire mode," in which you can tag a target once and then shoot at it as many times as you want by pulling the trigger directly, with all the shots using the ballistic data from the first shot’s tag. That means, says writer Lee Hutchinson, a rifle "with essentially 100 percent accuracy at 250 yards."

    219 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Long-Wave Radar Can Take the Stealth From Stealth Technology

    AbrasiveCat (999190) writes "In the continuing game of cat and mouse between offensive and defensive technologies of war, the technology of radar stealth may have been matched by new multiple frequency radar systems. U.S Naval Institute News reports the Chinese and Russians may be developing such systems. The present radar systems use high frequency waves for accurately locating an incoming target. Stealth aircraft are designed to adsorb or reflect these waves away from the receiver. It turns out longer wave radars can see the stealth aircraft. The longer wave radar lacks the precision of the high frequency radar, but when the two are combined, as the Russians, Chinese (and U.S.) are doing, you can produce accurate targeting radar. The F117 may have been in a golden age for stealth technology, it will be interesting to see if the F35 arrives too late to be effective against other countries with advanced radar systems."

    275 comments | about three weeks ago

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