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Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Scientists briefly trap a form of antimatter [via The Los Angeles Times]

Physicists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, have confirmed that they successfully trapped 38 particles of antihydrogen for two-tenths of a second. The achievement is being hailed as a scientific breakthrough, although the amount stored wouldn’t provide enough energy to power a light bulb for more than half a nanosecond. The process involves cooling the antihydrogen to a half a degree abolve absolute zero and containing the atoms in a “magnetic bowl” suspended in a vacuum, briefly preventing the antimatter from touching matter and annihilating. Fine-tuning the process may allow scientists to create far more antimatter and examine why the universe appears to contain only matter.

Roman settlement found on historic estate [via The Independent]

Archaeologists excavating the site of a future west London hotel have discovered more than 11,000 artifacts from an ancient Roman settlement just half a meter below the surface. Among the 2,000-year-old finds are myriad pottery shards, coins, human remains and a road. “The archaeology at Syon Park has given us a valuable, rare insight into the daily life of an agricultural village on the outskirts of Londinium (London) that would have supplied the Roman city and provided shelter for travellers passing through,” archaeologist Jo Lyon said. “It helps us build a picture of the Roman landscape and shows how the busy metropolis of Londinium connected with the rest of Roman Britain.”

Russian woman calls in fake bomb threat to prevent daughter’s marriage [via CNN]

According to officials a Russian woman hoping to stop her daughter from marrying in Morocco told police her daughter was planning to blow up the plane. The daughter was questioned and cleared for the flight, which left late after officials determined there was no threat. The mother was arrested for making a terror threat after the call was traced to her.

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I heard this story on NPR today as I was driving home from Target, and it made me rather sad. Apparently, Russia has made it a policy as of late to raid groups that oppose its government and confiscate their computers, claiming that they are investigating whether or not the group is using pirated Microsoft Windows software. What bothered me was not that the Russian government is allegedly harassing those who disagree with it — which I do think is not cool — but that it can be considered a crime to use and share software needed to function in today’s world.

Most of you probably think this is no big deal. After all, if these people didn’t pay for the software, then they shouldn’t be allowed to use it. That’s the way our world works. But the problem is that this system puts too much power into the hands of too few corporations. If I have to use the internet to communicate with colleagues and type up documents in order to pass a class, and my only avenues to do so is to buy either a Windows PC or a Mac, then this gives Microsoft and Apple a lot of say so in aspects of my life that they really shouldn’t have any say in.

I’ve given this a lot of thought, you see, because I run Linux on all of my computers. Currently, I use openSUSE Linux, and while I won’t digress into the nitty gritty about what the various distributions of Linux are, feel free to read this blog post I wrote about openSUSE a while back.

Linux has changed the way I view computing. First of all, I’ve come to see computing not as a service we pay Microsoft or Apple to let us use but rather as a right needed to function in today’s world. Linux instills this ideal by being entirely open source. People are free to contribute to it, copy it, and alter it until their heart’s content. At the same time, most of the software designed to run on Linux can be installed for free, legally, on as many computers as you want. I currently run openSUSE on all of my computers, can type up whatever I want for class using OpenOffice, browse the web using Firefox, manage email using Thunderbird, and kill hours of free time playing the Battle for Wesnoth. I am providing these links because this software is also available for both Windows and Mac, so you should check them out, even if you’re not at all interested in installing a Linux distribution. In the meantime, if something goes wrong on my computer, I can repair or reinstall openSUSE without having to purchase another version or input a serial key. I merely have to redownload or reuse my previous installation CD. You see, I can do all the computing I need without having to pay Microsoft a dime or worry about the feds knocking down my door. I just wish more people were in the same boat.

And that is why the current raiding situation in Russia moves me so.

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Man is charged with a hate crime after stabbing a Muslim New York City cab driver [via the Examiner]

A man allegedly attacked a cab driver in Manhattan Tuesday night after the cab driver identified himself as Muslim. According to police reports, the man, 21-year-old film student Michael Enright told the cabbie to “consider this a checkpoint,” then allegedly stabbed the man several times with a Leatherman tool. The driver stopped the cab, locked Enright inside and called for police. Enright has been charged with second-degree attempted murder as a hate crime, first-degree assault as a hate crime and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Those who know Enright say this is completely out of his character; police reports indicate he may have been drunk at the time.

Watching a Watchdog [via Inside Higher Ed]

Inside Higher Ed examines the Washington Post’s position toward Kaplan, Inc., a for-profit education firm owned by the paper’s parent company. The Post recently published an editorial bashing proposed U.S. Department of Education rules regarding for-profit higher education regulation, a position some say is counter to the typically pro-regulation position of the editorial page. Although the editorial disclosed the company owns Kaplan — the major source of income for the Post — critics still say the Post had a hidden agenda.

Putin fires dart at gray whale from crossbow [via AP]

There’s really no good way to say this, so I’m just going to come right out with it. Russian President Prime Minister Vladimir Putin shot a whale with a crossbow from a rubber dinghy yesterday. “I hit it at the fourth try!” Putin yelled to reporters from the boat. Fortunately for the whale, the dart was only designed to collect a skin sample, not injure it. “Asked why he got involved, Putin simply said, ‘Because I like it. I love the nature.’” Doesn’t Putin have other things to worry about — like large swaths of Russia being on fire right now?

Stem Cell Ruling Will Be Appealed [via The New York Times]

A federal judge’s order earlier this week halting federally-funded research using embryonic stem cells will be appealed by the Justice Department, administration officials announced. Barack Obama lifted the executive ban on funding stem cell research upon assuming office. Although some projects already underway may continue, National Institutes of Health officials said they feared more than 80 projects with $54 million in funding are in jeopardy. “This decision has the potential to do serious damage to one of the most promising areas of biomedical research, just at the time when we were really gaining momentum,” said NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins.

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