Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.
cylonlover writes "Exploring the regions of deep space beyond Mars means sending probes where solar power isn't practical. Since the 1960s, NASA has equipped its Apollo missions and unmanned explorers with Radioisotope Thermal Generators (RTGs). These have worked very well, but they run on plutonium 238, which is currently in short supply. Therefore, the Los Alamos National Laboratory is developing a new small nuclear reactor for spacecraft that uses uranium instead of plutonium to power Stirling engines and generate electricity. At the Nevada National Security Site's Device Assembly Facility near Las Vegas, engineers from Los Alamos, the NASA Glenn Research Center and National Security Technologies LLC conducted a Demonstration Using Flattop Fissions (DUFF) experiment that produced 24 watts of electricity using a pair of free-piston Stirling engines."
An anonymous reader writes "Mcor and Staples announced today a deal in which Mcor will supply their paper-based 3D printers to Staples Copy Centers worldwide. Staples customers will be able to upload their 3D model and pick up the printed object at their local copy center. The rollout starts in The Netherlands and Belgium in 1Q 2013 and then opens up in other countries."
jbernardo writes "After all the indie, multi-platform (including 4 for android) and DRM free releases, the latest Humble Bundle release is a polarizing one. It features non-indie games, it is Windows only, and the games are saddled with DRM. There is already a very vocal discussion on the Humble Bundle Google+ thread, but it seems it is selling well."
helix2301 writes "Every two months, AV-Test takes a look at popular antivirus software and security suites and tests them in several ways. In their latest test which was performed on Windows 7 during September and October, Microsoft Security Essentials didn't pass the test to achieve certification. Although that may not sound that impressive, Microsoft's program was the only one which didn't receive AV-Test's certificate. For comparison, the other free antivirus software, including Avast, AVG and Panda Cloud did."
dsinc writes "Last week Curiosity was able to use its SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) device to confirm the discovery. A robotic arm with a complex system of Spectral Analysis devices was able to vaporize and identify gasses from the sample, concluding that it is in fact plastic. How plastic formed or ended up on the Martian surface is quite an exciting mystery that sparks many questions. The type of plastic sampled as we know so far can only be formed using petrochemicals, meaning not only that there could possibly be a source of oil on the Red Planet, but that somehow it got turned into plastic. Even more interesting is that oil or petrochemicals used to create this type of plastic are only known to come from ancient fossilized organic materials, such as zooplankton and algae, which geochemical processes convert into oil pointing to the earthshaking evidence that there was once life on mars. 'Right now we have multiple working hypotheses, and each hypothesis makes certain predictions about things like what the spherules are made of and how they are distributed,' said Curiosity's principal investigator, Steve Squyres, of Cornell University. 'Our job as we explore Matijevic Hill in the months ahead will be to make the observations that will let us test all the hypotheses carefully, and find the one that best fits the observations.'" Update: Yes, it's a hoax
An anonymous reader writes "I'm hoping for a discussion about the best file system for a web hosting server. The server would serve as mail, database, and web hosting. Running CPanel. Likely CentOS. I was thinking that most hosts use ext3 but with of the reading/writing to log files, a constant flow of email in and out, not to mention all of the DB reads/writes, I'm wondering if there is a more effective FS. What do you fine folks think?"
An anonymous reader writes with this news from Australia's Computerworld: "The German parliament is set to discuss a controversial online copyright bill that is meant to allow news publishers to charge search engines such as Google for reproducing short snippets from their articles. Earlier this week, Google started a campaign against the proposed law. Google was criticized for its campaign against the law. The search engine 'obviously' tries to use its own users for lobbying interests 'under the pretext of a so-called project for the freedom of the Internet,' wrote Günter Krings and Ansgar Heveling, politicians of the CDU and CSU conservative parties, who together form the biggest block in the German parliament."
First time accepted submitter novakom writes "Apparently during the cold war, one fall-back position the U.S. was looking at to ensure mutual assured destruction was to put nukes on the moon. This would ensure that the U.S. could retaliate against even an effective first strike by the Russians. The first step, of course, would be to detonate a nuke on the moon. And yes, Carl Sagan was on the team (and apparently leaked the info!)"
The Bad Astronomer writes "Just in time for the holiday season, the NASA space probe MESSENGER appears to have all but confirmed the existence of ice at Mercury's north pole. Ice has long been suspected to be hiding in permanently shadowed areas in deep craters at the planet's pole, but new data show several converging lines of evidence (thermal and visible light mapping, radar, neutron emission) that as much as a trillion tons of ice may be buried just centimeters deep under the surface. Scientists also see evidence of organic (carbon-based) molecules as well. That's not life, but it's more of an indication that volatile compounds can exist on the solar system's innermost planet." Further, astroengine writes "New results from the MESSENGER spacecraft not only confirm that the planet closest to the sun has ice inside shaded craters near the north pole, but that a thin layer of very dark organic material seems to be covering a good part of the frozen water. Both likely arrived via comets or asteroids millions — or hundreds of millions — of years ago."
Readycharged writes "A generation's childhood dreams have come true with the creation of a working 'robot in disguise' Transformer which, when operated by remote control, morphs from a luxury sports car to a missile hurling robot in seconds. Japanese inventor Kenji Ishida is planning to make 10 lucky (and undoubtedly rich) purchasers owners of these toys in the run up to Christmas, having first displayed them at the Maker Faire in Tokyo during the first week of December. For those willing to wait a few years, Ishida plans to have created a life size, drivable model by 2030."
Nerval's Lobster writes "While Microsoft claims it's sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses in the month since launch—a more rapid pace than Windows 7—new data from research firm The NPD Group suggests that isn't helping sales of actual Windows devices, which, in its estimation, are down 21 percent from last year. Desktops dropped 9 percent year-over-year, while notebooks fell 24 percent. 'After just four weeks on the market, it's still early to place blame on Windows 8 for the ongoing weakness in the PC market,' Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at The NPD Group, wrote in a Nov. 29 statement attached to the data. 'We still have the whole holiday selling season ahead of us, but clearly Windows 8 did not prove to be the impetus for a sales turnaround some had hoped for.'" That seems to match the public grumbling of Acer and Asus about early sales. And though these figures exclude Surface sales, the newly announced prices on for new Windows 8 Pro-equipped Surface tablets might not endear them to anyone. Have you (or has your business?) moved to Windows 8?
This is what we asked Jason Perlow. He wrote a Linux Magazine column for many years and now writes for ZDNet. The ZDNet blurb describes him as "a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies." Most recently, he worked for IBM, and for Unisys before that. So Jason knows plenty about Linux and its role in big-time enterprise computing. In this video, he talks about how Linux needs to take another step forward to gain even more enterprise traction in coming years.
First time accepted submitter r3dR0v3r writes "I have the opportunity to help improve / replace the website of my small U.S. town (~6000 people). The town leaders are open to most any suggestions, and are open to the idea of having the website facilitate a more open government — by being a place at which town documents, meeting agendas, meeting minutes, legal forms, ordinances, etc. can be found in an organized way and downloaded. And of course the site should provide general info about the town, it's services, recreation opportunities, etc.. Now, we have no budget, so we'll be looking at free/open software. I've considered options such as Drupal, but I'm doing this as volunteer work so I don't want to start from scratch and spend overly much time. Thus, I'm looking for advice about any existing platforms made specifically for municipalities as a great way to get a jump start. I'm guessing there are other slashdotters that have helped their communities in this way. Your suggestions please?"
slashchuck writes "Niels Bohr is one of the greatest scientists who ever lived and a favorite of his fellow Danes when he lived in Copenhagen. Apparently, after he won the Nobel Prize in 1922, the Carlsberg brewery gave him a gift – a house located next to the brewery. And the best perk of the house? It had a direct pipeline to the brewery so that Bohr had free beer on tap whenever he wanted."
eldavojohn writes "Mojang's Marcus Persson (better known as 'Notch') has answered quite a few questions in an interview with PC Gamer about his new game 0x10c. Since its announcement, there's been very few details about game play aside from the DCPU-16 and art tests. But in this interview, Notch has revealed quite a bit about how the game will function and non-final ideas he has for either a monthly fee to play in a 'multiverse' or micropayments. He talks about a custom OS people are working on to load into the game's CPU as well as a an in-game 3D printer that will allow you to make virtual objects. When asked about Kickstarter and his Oculus dev kit, Notch said 'Definitely going to make it work in 0x10c no matter what' and his account of using the Oculus Rift sounds more than promising for the VR Device. When asked about Linux he said, '[Linux] is wonderful. I think we need to have it, and it's a shame that more people, including myself, don't use it. It's gotten easier and friendlier.' When asked about Microsoft he said, 'I use their OS – Windows 7 is an amazing operating system in my opinion and of course there's the Xbox, which I love. I'm sure Bing is going to take off and save them. [Editor's note: Notch is smiling mischievously as he says this.]'"