The UK government is to outline measures to permit driverless cars to use public roads by next year.
Currently, autonomous vehicles are only allowed on private roads.
The Department for Transport had previously pledged to allow self-driving cars to be trialled on public roads by the end of 2013.
In December, the Treasury said it would create a Â£10m prize to fund a town or city to become a testing ground for the cars.
The government wants to signal that Britain can be a leader in such technology, and Business Secretary Vince Cable will announce measures to boost research later.
Scientists have created a "quantum Cheshire Cat" by separating a particle from one of its physical properties. Named after the cat in Alice in Wonderland that vanishes leaving only its grin, a beam of neutrons was used to separate them from their magnetic moment.
From its very beginning, quantum theory has been revealing extraordinary and counter-intuitive phenomena, such as wave-particle duality, Schroedinger cats and quantum non-locality. Another paradoxical phenomenon found within the framework of quantum mechanics is the 'quantum Cheshire Cat': if a quantum system is subject to a certain pre- and postselection, it can behave as if a particle and its property are spatially separated. It has been suggested to employ weak measurements in order to explore the Cheshire Cat's nature. Here we report an experiment in which we send neutrons through a perfect silicon crystal interferometer and perform weak measurements to probe the location of the particle and its magnetic moment. The experimental results suggest that the system behaves as if the neutrons go through one beam path, while their magnetic moment travels along the other.
This advisory was posted on the tor-announce mailing list.
"On July 4 2014 we found a group of relays that we assume were trying to deanonymize users. They appear to have been targeting people who operate or access Tor hidden services. The attack involved modifying Tor protocol headers to do traffic confirmation attacks.
The attacking relays joined the network on January 30 2014, and we removed them from the network on July 4. While we don't know when they started doing the attack, users who operated or accessed hidden services from early February through July 4 should assume they were affected.
Unfortunately, it's still unclear what "affected" includes. We know the attack looked for users who fetched hidden service descriptors, but the attackers likely were not able to see any application-level traffic (e.g. what pages were loaded or even whether users visited the hidden service they looked up). The attack probably also tried to learn who published hidden service descriptors, which would allow the attackers to learn the location of that hidden service. In theory the attack could also be used to link users to their destinations on normal Tor circuits too, but we found no evidence that the attackers operated any exit relays, making this attack less likely. And finally, we don't know how much data the attackers kept, and due to the way the attack was deployed (more details below), their protocol header modifications might have aided other attackers in deanonymizing users too.
Relays should upgrade to a recent Tor release (0.2.4.23 or 0.2.5.6-alpha), to close the particular protocol vulnerability the attackers used but remember that preventing traffic confirmation in general remains an open research problem. Clients that upgrade (once new Tor Browser releases are ready) will take another step towards limiting the number of entry guards that are in a position to see their traffic, thus reducing the damage from future attacks like this one. Hidden service operators should consider changing the location of their hidden service."
A group of researches have successfully demonstrated an attack against a trio of Android devices, running either the vendor's stock Android or CyanogenMod. The attack requires the user to have installed their application first. Although the application has zero permissions, it was capable of exploiting Google Voice Search to perform commands on its behalf.
NASA press release: Cassini Spacecraft Reveals 101 Geysers and more on Icy Saturn Moon
Saturn's moon Enceladus has been a surprising and fascinating target for the Cassini mission. Now, the spacecraft and its team of scientists have even more details on the sources of water plumes erupting into space from the small moon. Images available at the Cassini Mission imaging site.
The Center for American Progress reports:
The Supreme Court's recent Hobby Lobby decision, which allowed some for-profit companies to claim a religious exemption to Obamacare's contraception mandate, has sparked a heated debate over the definition of religious liberty and its role in modern society. At this point, even a Satantic cult has decided to weigh in.
The Satanic Temple - a faith community that describes itself as facilitating "the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty" - has launched a new campaign seeking a religious exemption to certain anti-abortion laws that attempt to dissuade women from ending a pregnancy. The group says they have deeply held beliefs about bodily autonomy and scientific accuracy, and those beliefs are violated by state-level "informed consent" laws that rely on misleading information about abortion risks.
The online sale and distribution service of PC games, GOG Ltd. accidentally gave away a whole bunch of Linux games to its users.
The company recently introduced support for Linux platforms by adding well over 50 Linux-compatible games to its online store. However, things didn't go as planned and during their Linux Launch Promotion, more than 20 games appeared in a number of users' accounts.
These users realized that they weren't eligible for any freebies and took the matter to GOG.com community forums.
The site's support representative, JuriJ admitted that there was a glitch at their end which offered them these free games. However, he also added that those who got their hands on these free games do not have to return them. As for those users who would like to return the games, should contact him via email.
Here's the complete reply as found on GOG.com:
Thank you for your honesty. Yesterday, due to a small glitch on our end, you and a bunch of other lucky people ended up getting games from the Linux Launch promo for free. Don't worry, though, as it's totally cool with us and you may keep them. Yes, we will not be removing these titles from your account and we do hope you will enjoy them!
Of course, if you prefer, like some of our community members, we can always remove them your shelf - just let us know replying to this email. Again, there's no problem if you want to keep them.
The BBC, Billboard and Techdirt all report the AARC (little known organisation representing artists in America by collecting royalties) has filed a law suit against General Motors, Ford and the makers of a device that can auto rip a CD in a car and store the resulting music on a hard drive for easy future play back.
They previously tried to sue Rio in the late 1990's over their MP3 player and lost (which then gave rise to many other MP3 players), they are trying really hard to claim that this is different and that the sole purpose of this device is to copy music and other digital recordings. They claim they should be receiving $2,500 per car that this device is in.
Promising "an appstore for the physical world," Amazon's just unveiled their new online market for products created using a 3-D Printer.
"Customization gives customers the power to remix their world," explains the co-founder of Mixee Labs (an Amazon partner), "and we want to change the way people shop online."
Amazon's ability to sell you things before they've even been built is currently limited mostly to novelties like iPhone cases, jewelry, and bobbleheads that look like you. But as one web page explains, you're also buying a chance to experience the beginning of mainstream 3D printing.
The Rude Baguette reports
Modular, Open Source, Hackable Breach is ticking all the boxes with the ambitious browser project they launched this month. The team, originally composed of TOTEMS (formerly Nitrogram) CTO Stanislas Polu, Socket.io (now Automattic)'s Guillermo Rauch, Alejandro Vizio & others, is now made up of around 80 developers collaborating on the project. Since its release last month, the product has seen over 160,000 users user the browser (according to their public Google Analytics account), with around 2,500 Daily Active users using the product.
Built on Google's open source Chromium project, Breach goes one step beyond Mozilla & Chrome, who enable developers to build 3rd party add-ons/plugins for the respective browsers when you first start Breach, it has no functionality. Functionalities are brought in by modules, meaning that everything down to the core features of a browser navigation, display, etc. are hackable.
The product isn't quite mass-market ready yet, says Polu, who says that it is more exciting for developers (especially those who love browsers built entirely on node.js), but that Developers are likely to bring some great innovation to the outdated parts of a browser "bookmarks", "tabs", and other features that have been grandfathered into the modern browser may be ready for an overhaul.
Harvard economics professor Sendhil Mullainathan writes in the New York Times about the interesting correlations between the release dates of new phones and OSes and search queries that indicate frustration with the speed of the phones that people already have. Mullainathan illustrates with graphs and provides plausible explanations for the difference on just how different the curves are over time for the search terms "iPhone slow" and "Samsung Galaxy slow."
It's easy to see with the iPhone graph especially how it could seem to users that Apple has intentionally slowed down older phones to nudge them toward upgrading. While he's careful not to rule out intentional slowing of older phone models which is a possibility after all. Mullainathan cites several factors that mean there's no need to believe in a conspiracy to slow phones, and at least two big reasons like reputation and liability for companies involved like Apple, Google, and other cellphone manufacturers like Samsung not to take part in one. Mullainathan points out various wrinkles in what the data could really indicate, including genuine but innocent slowdowns caused by optimizing for newer hardware. It's an interesting look at the difference between having mere statistics, no matter how rigorously gathered, and knowing quite what it means.
Ahhh, something near and dear to this old repairman's heart! I am always on the lookout for new tools and Infoworld has The Top 25 Free Windows Tools with plenty of really good ones.
Over the years I've found my most valuable tool (besides my brain) to be a little bitty reg file that resets the sound on any version of Windows, I've used it more times than I can count. What's your favorite tool or trick to keep Windows purring along?
Natural Society reports
The West Virginia State Supreme Court finalized a big blow to the biotech giant Monsanto this month, finishing a settlement causing Monsanto to pay $93 million to the tiny town of Nitro, West Virginia for poisoning citizens with Agent Orange chemicals. The settlement was approved last year, but details were worked out only weeks ago as to how the funds were to be spent.
The settlement will require Monsanto to do the following:
NASA's Mars rover, Opportunity, has been driving over Mars since 2004. In that time, it has now driven over 40 kilometres, making it the longest distance travelled off-Earth. The previous record was held by the Russian Lunokhod 2 rover, which drove 39 kilometres on the moon in 1973.
"Opportunity has driven farther than any other wheeled vehicle on another world," said Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager John Callas, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "This is so remarkable considering Opportunity was intended to drive about one kilometer and was never designed for distance. But what is really important is not how many miles the rover has racked up, but how much exploration and discovery we have accomplished over that distance."
A drive of 157 feet (48 meters) on July 27 put Opportunity's total odometry at 25.01 miles (40.25 kilometers). This month's driving brought the rover southward along the western rim of Endeavour Crater. The rover had driven more than 20 miles (32 kilometers) before arriving at Endeavour Crater in 2011, where it has examined outcrops on the crater's rim containing clay and sulfate-bearing minerals. The sites are yielding evidence of ancient environments with less acidic water than those examined at Opportunity's landing site.
If the rover can continue to operate the distance of a marathon — 26.2 miles (about 42.2 kilometers) — it will approach the next major investigation site mission scientists have dubbed "Marathon Valley." Observations from spacecraft orbiting Mars suggest several clay minerals are exposed close together at this valley site, surrounded by steep slopes where the relationships among different layers may be evident.
What projects have you worked on that have greatly exceeded their design specifications? Alternatively, what products have you purchased that have far exceeded your expectations?
The Local Europe reports
One of Germany's top universities wants to ditch German and switch almost all of its master's programmes to English in the next six years, prompting fears that the academic standing of the German language is under serious threat.
Munich's Technical University (TU), one of the highest ranked in Germany, already uses English in 30 of its 99 master's courses. Now the board of trustees has followed a recommendation by the university's president, Wolfgang Herrmann, to switch to English for most other master's modules by 2020.
"English is the lingua franca in academia and of the economy," Herrmann told the Suddeutsche Zeitung on Wednesday. He said it was important to prepare students for a professional life in which they would be expected to speak English.
Herrmann also said he wanted to send a "strong signal" that would allow TU to compete for the brightest master's students globally.
A spokesman for the university told The Local the TU did not have a target for the number of modules it would offer in English. He added the plans were based on demands from students.
"We want to expand our offers in English. This will not affect all modules," the spokesman said.
The university declined to give further details.
But Sebastian Biermann, chair of TU's student parliament, disputed that students had called for English across the board.
"This came from the university's management, not from students or the university's departments," he told The Local.
While Biermann said student representatives were open to more English, "generally switching all master's degrees to English is something we view rather critically".
Biermann said the reform made sense for some departments like computer sciences, where English is already common. It was not the right solution for courses like constructional engineering, he said, where textbooks and legal requirements were mostly in German.
Switching TU master's programmes to English also requires fluency among academic and administrative staff and more language support for students. Biermann said students doubted this could be achieved by 2020.