Humans may have been able to survive the Ice Age by seeking refuge in caves along the coast of South Africa.
The isolated region, roughly 240 miles east of Cape Town, would have helped a small group of humans last through a catastrophic temperature change which devastated the ranks most mammal populations about 195,000 years ago.
Though intriguing, the hypothesis has not convinced all scientists. Professor Chris Stringer, a human origins expert at the Natural History Museum in London, told the Daily Mail that he was skeptical about the claim humanity descended from a single band of survivors in Africa.
"We know, for example, that there were early modern humans in Ethiopia 160,000 years ago and others in Morocco, and populations like those may also have contributed to our ancestry," Stringer told the paper.You can learn more about the African evidence for the origins of modern human behavior by clicking on this video of a lecture Marean delivered a couple of years ago:)
The designs follow last year's successful test at Plattsburgh International Airport in New York.
"During a recent review, we discovered that our U.S. Citi Mobile iPhone banking app was accidentally saving information related to customer accounts in a hidden file on their iPhones," the company said in a statement. "This information may also have been saved on their computer if they had been synchronizing their iPhone with their computer via iTunes."
Citi has released an update to its iPhone app that corrects the problem and deletes any Citi mobile information that may have been stored on the mobile device or the customer's computer.
Other Citi apps and services are not affected and Citi said it had no reason to believe that any customer data was compromised.
The new app was released a week ago and last Tuesday 118,000 letters were mailed to customers using the app, according to a source familiar with the matter.The article originally appeared on CNET
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have detected a blue star called HE 0437-5439 they say was unceremoniously expelled from the Milky Way and is now hurtling through space at 1.6 million miles an hour. Scientists say his rates as one of the fastest of the 16 so-called hypervelocity stars they've discovered since 2005.
These sorts of exiled stars are rare. How rare? According to astronomer Warren Brown of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. for every 100 million stars in the Milky Way's population of 100 billion stars, "there lurks one hypervelocity star," according to Brown, who also is lead author on a paper about the finding published online July 20 in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The age of the star remains unclear as well as its origin. In a press release, NASA suggested that HE 0437-5439, then part of a "triple-star system," might have been created roughly 100 million years ago when it steered dangerously close to a giant black hole. At that point, the black hole may have grabbed one of the stars and ejected the other two from the Milky Way.
Don't lose sleep, though, about the star heading for an apocalyptic collision with Planet Earth. HE 0437-5439 may be destined to roam through space but it's heading in the opposite direction. What it finds out there is another story.
Before and after images taken over the the last forty years present stark visual testimony to the impact that humans have had on major bodies of water around the world.
The water loss most telling in images of the Aral Sea in Asia, which once ranked as the fourth biggest lake in the world. It's now estimated that the lake has lost half its water since the 1960s.
Benjamin Lloyd-Hughes of University of Reading told The Daily Mail that the "disaster seen at the Aral Sea and the marshes are the combined effects of man and rising temperatures in those regions. 'There has not been much change in rainfall in those areas but the temperature has risen by over 1 degree Centigrade since 1970, which will have enhanced losses due to evaporation." "Pollution in the area will have become worse because as the water evaporates, pollutants in the water become more concentrated and less diluted," he added. But the Aral Sea is not the only body of water under stress. The Daily Mail has the full story here.
"Recently there has been a real increase in online activity from consumers dissatisfied with some of our competitors' products," Samsung said in a press release. "We decided to contact a cross section of individuals to offer them a free Samsung Galaxy S as a replacement, as we're confident that once people have the phone in their hands, they'll see how impressive it is for themselves."
A new privacy bill introduced in the U.S. Congress this week would have serious unintended consequences and could even harm the nation's economy unless its Democratic sponsor rewrites it, Internet industry representatives warned Thursday.
The proposal, introduced by Rep. Bobby Rush of Illinois, slaps fines of up to $5 million on businesses and even some individuals unless they abide by a complex set of new regulations to be administrated by the Federal Trade Commission.
That legislation "would turn the Internet from a fast-moving information highway to a slow-moving toll-road," Michael Zaneis, vice president of public policy at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, told Rush's committee on Thursday. "Such a move would hinder, not facilitate e-commerce." The group's board members include representatives of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, AOL, Comcast, Amazon.com, Fox Interactive, and CBS Interactive, which publishes CNET.
Zaneis took pains to compliment some portions of the legislation (H.R. 5777) drafted by Rush, the chairman of a House consumer protection subcommittee. But, Zaneis added, "our industry is a major component of the national economy," and burdensome regulations would retard its growth and cause economic harm.Continue »
Apple said early today that it won't be shipping white models of its iPhone 4 until later this year.
Borrowing on Shakespeare's maxim about brevity being the soul of wit, the company was typically opaque explaining the problem:
"White models of Apple's new iPhone? 4 have continued to be more challenging to manufacture than we originally expected, and as a result they will not be available until later this year. The availability of the more popular iPhone 4 black models is not affected."
When Apple began shipping the iPhone in June, the company said the white-colored models would be available in late July. During its conference call after its earnings call earlier this week, Apple officials did not point to any manufacturing or sourcing problems which might extend the delay. However, the company did say it was struggling to keep up with tremendous demand for the new smartphone.
This is just the latest headache for Apple management since bringing the iPhone 4 to market. First, Apple was forced to prematurely curtail the online pre-order process when the transaction servers got overwhelmed. Then from the first day it went officially on sale, the iPhone 4 was accompanied by complaints about antenna reception complaints.
During the conference call with analysts, chief operating officer Tim Cook was unable to estimate when Apple expected to get supply aligned with demand.
"We honestly don't know is the answer. We have been pleasantly surprised at how fast this product has gotten out of the chute. If you look at how long it took us to sell the first million iPods, the 20-plus months versus the one month of iPad, it is a phenomenal difference," he said.
"It is not following a typical early adopter curve and then taking a long time to cross into the mainstream. So I don't know how high is high. Our guts tell us this market is very big, and we believe that iPad is really defining the market, and we to want take full advantage of it, and so we are investing enormous time and resource in increasing our capability and getting iPad out to as many people as we can."
The company said it sold 3.3 million iPads in the gadget's first quarter on the market, and people who want to buy one now are finding many stores out of stock. Online, the waiting time is seven to 10 business days.
Separately, Apple on Friday began taking orders for free iPhone 4 cases that CEO Steve Jobs promised a week ago. Customers have to download an application from Apple and then enter their iTunes or Apple ID password, before choosing from a menu of cases.
The guessing game continues as to why Facebook's automated systems deleted a controversial post from Sarah Palin.
The company is not commenting in detail about the circumstances surrounding the incident in which a July 20 post by Palin disappeared from the site. Palin's post, which expressed her opposition to plans to build a mosque near the World Trade Center site reappeared Thursday but it's still not clear what - or who - was responsible.
Facebook indicated that the culprit was an automated system, but declined to get more specific than that. Citing security issues, Facebook would not go into details about how its systems work.
An official note issued by Facebook said that Palin's post did not violate the services content standards "but was removed by an automated system We're always working to improve our processes and we apologize for any inconvenience this caused."
Period. End quote.
Since bowing out as governor of Alaska after her unsuccessful 2008 bid for vice president as John McCain's running mate, Palin has regularly used social media like Facebook - as well as Twitter - as a soapbox to comment on issues du jour without needing to go through the filter of the press - which she routinely dismisses as "the lamestream media."
As such, she's managed to draw a significant amount of attention for herself with controversial posts like the one in question.
No one is disputing that America stands for - and should stand for - religious tolerance. It is a foundation of our republic. This is not an issue of religious tolerance but of common moral sense. To build a mosque at Ground Zero is a stab in the heart of the families of the innocent victims of those horrific attacks. ...I agree with the sister of one of the 9/11 victims (and a New York resident) who said: "This is a place which is 600 feet from where almost 3,000 people were torn to pieces by Islamic extremists. I think that it is incredibly insensitive and audacious really for them to build a mosque, not only on that site, but to do it specifically so that they could be in proximity to where that atrocity happened."
Many Americans, myself included, feel it would be an intolerable and tragic mistake to allow such a project sponsored by such an individual to go forward on such hallowed ground. This is nothing close to "religious intolerance," it's just common decency.
On Monday, David Khan was visiting the downtown San Francisco offices of his public relations agency to demonstrate the capabilities of a product his company has been developing for the last year and a half. An intern was sent out to walk the neighborhood carrying a smartphone loaded with the copy of the software. The meeting participants then settled around a computer to monitor her movements on the screen.
That's when reality met reality television.
"I would call it freakish," recalled Khan, the CEO of Covia Labs.
The first sign that something was amiss came when the blip representing the intern began moving away from office in an unexpected direction. Then it began accelerating at a rapid clip.
"We thought, well, that was interesting," said David Fonkalsrud of the public relations firm KF Communications.
Just as the office was about to call her, the intern walked through the doors in tears, saying that someone on a bike had snuck up behind her and snatched the iPhone she was testing from her hands.
A call went out to 911 but this was a unique situation where Kahn explained that he could track the whereabouts of the thief for the police in real time.
"My adrenaline was pumping," Khan said, recalling the chronology for a reporter.
As they received updates the police were able to apprehend a suspect with the stolen smartphone about 15 minutes later.
The Covia Labs' technology allows military or law enforcement managers to distinguish the real-time positions of their forces in the field. In other words, a good guys, bad guys distinction. Carrying mobile devices loaded with the software, friendly forces automatically transmit their real-time locations to headquarters. The security credentials last only for the duration of the mission.
Khan described the underlying technology as a successor to Java, which came to prominence in the 1990s as a software tool that would run on all devices. But Khan said that promise was never fully realized because Java was designed to ignore the specifics of the underlying hardware devices.
"It turned out that hardware is very different and that's why it didn't succeed," he said. "We've tried to get the equivalent of Java in a way that exposes the underlying hardware."
The tracking technology is still being tested but Khan said it likely will be commercially available toward the end of the year.
And no, this wasn't a reality TV stunt.
"Those people in Colorado showed that you can go to jail for something like that," said Khan. (He was alluding to last summer's "Balloon Boy" stunt in which a Colorado couple made up a story about their 6-year-old son floating off in a runaway balloon to gain publicity.
Still, this was the kind of PR opportunity that seemed too good to be true. Except, of course, for the guy arrested by the cops.
More than 65 million brief Twitter messages pass through cyberspace per day. Researchers from Northeastern and Harvard universities have come up to visually represent the mood of the nation based on millions of "tweets."
"Pulse of the Nation: U.S. Mood Throughout the Day," appears to confirm conventional wisdom. The findings, visualized on a U.S. map, showed that early morning and late evening have the highest levels of happiness. The West coast is consistently three hours behind the East coast in reaching the happiness zone. In addition, as would expected, weekends were scored happier than weekdays, with Sunday morning as the high and Thursday evenings as the low score. Apparently, work days are not the happiest time in the lives of Twitter users, and by inference the larger population.
The researchers analyzed over 300 million tweets collected between September 2006 and August 2009 to determine the mood of America over a 24-hour, 7-day period, and by geolocation. The mood of each tweet was inferred via Affective Norms for English Words, a word-rating system that gives normative emotional ratings for English language words.
The video below shows the shifting mood, or pulse, over time:
That's the gist of a gossipy story published by theDaily Beast, claiming that Microsoft are upset about the performance of the company's stock.
But the story sourcing seems thin. As one might expect with an article like this one suggesting a revolt against Ballmer and the board, all of the quotes are anonymous. The piece sources described as being "close to Microsoft" report the existence of an increasingly resentful "faction of certain executives" who hold Ballmer responsible for the stagnation in Microsoft's stock price.
Their argument, according to these sources, is that Microsoft's overall financial performance has been solid--analysts expect the company to show continued earnings improvement when it reports second-quarter results today. It has scored some strategic wins with the Yahoo search deal, Xbox, and Windows 7 release, and is sitting on a cash pile of more than $20 billion. But instead of a steadily rising stock price, Microsoft shares have fluctuated wildly over the last few years, seemingly unable to break out of the mid-$20s for any significant length of time.
That states the conventional wisdom but it only tells part of the story. The stagnation in Microsoft's stock has less to do with Ballmer than it does with Microsoft's decades-long Windows-centric business model. That approach, which was a money machine during the client-server era, in some respects has become an albatross in the age of the Internet, where the the Web-top is increasingly more important than the operating systems running on the desktop.
Indeed, Ballmer has nudged Microsoft to embrace Web-based computing, though one could build a case - as the Daily Beast article does, that he's been behind the curve. While the company has built a strong new businesses in consumer entertainment to capitalize on the growing popularity of digital devices, it doesn't get a lot of credit. The Zune digital player doesn't ever get mentioned in the same breath as Apple's iPhone 4 and the company recently suffered through the embarrassment of canceling its Kin smartphone less than two months after its introduction. At the same time, Microsoft has failed to keep up with Google in the search advertising. Whatever the truth, the company is no longer viewed as the tech industry's most innovative software company.
The flip side of the equation:Critics are always wont to exaggerate "the looming crisis" at Microsoft. The company remains multi-billion-dollar powerhouse in the IT business and can expect to profit as the economy recovers from economic recession. Microsoft was uncool during the late 1990s but when the dotcom bubble burst in 2000, the stability of the company's revenue stream suddenly looked a lot more attractive when compared with the carnage taking place among Internet companies.
None of this is meant to suggest that a serious move to unseat the CEO is impossible. But in the absence of hard evidence, that claim is just one more to add to the perennial Microsoft rumor mill.
On Wednesday, Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and six other GOP senators introduced legislation that would sharply curb the Federal Communications Commission's ability to regulate broadband providers.
"The FCC's rush to takeover the Internet is just the latest example of the need for fundamental reform to protect consumers," DeMint said in a statement. Without this legislation, DeMint said, the FCC will "impose unnecessary, antiquated regulations on the Internet."
The new bill--called the Freedom for Consumer Choice Act, or FCC Act--doesn't eliminate the FCC's power over broadband providers. But that power would become sharply limited, and come to resemble the antitrust enforcement power of the Department of Justice.
One section, for instance, lets the FCC define "unfair methods of competition" and levy "requirements" on the industry, but only if marketplace competition is inadequate.
In May, a federal appeals court unanimously ruled that the FCC's attempt to slap Net neutrality regulations on Internet providers--in a case that grew out of Comcast throttling BitTorrent transfers--was not authorized by Congress. The opinion called the FCC's claims "flatly inconsistent" with the law.
Supporters of Net neutrality say new Internet regulations or laws are necessary to prevent broadband providers from restricting content or prioritizing one type of traffic over another. Broadband providers and many conservative and free-market groups, on the other hand, say some of the proposed regulations would choke off new innovations and could even require awarding e-mail spam and telemedicine identical priorities.
A broadband industry representative, who did not want to be identified by name, said DeMint's measure turns the current debate upside-down. Currently, that person said, Net neutrality advocates can invent a "parade of horribles that could happen if the Internet was left unregulated." But under the DeMint bill, the FCC and Net neutrality advocates "would need to prove a tangible consumer benefit in order to impose new regulation."
New regulation would only be permitted if the FCC can demonstrate that "marketplace competition is not sufficient to adequately protect consumer welfare" and the lack of competition "causes or is likely to cause substantial injury to consumers." (If the FCC decides to impose regulations without sufficient proof, look for broadband providers to file a lawsuit.)
Art Brodsky of Public Knowledge, one of the more prominent supporters of Net neutrality regulations, told CNET that: "No one wants to regulate the Internet. They start from that premise, which is mistaken." The bill takes a wrong turn, Brodsky said, by "duplicating the jurisdiction and purpose" of the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, which share antitrust authority.
But theory doesn't always mesh with political practice. Some rank-and-file Dems are clamoring for Net neutrality about as much as Bush-era Republicans were clamoring for limited government. Yet 74 House Democrats sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski instructing him to abandon his Net neutrality plans.
Other sponsors of the FCC Act, all Republicans, are Orrin Hatch of Utah; John Ensign of Nevada; John Thune of South Dakota; Tom Coburn of Oklahoma); John Cornyn of Texas; and Jeff Sessions of Alabama.This article originally appeared on CNET
A new study in the journal Nature finds that mountain marmots are waking up earlier from hibernation because of longer summers. The upshot:They are getting more time to feed their little faces and then reproducing earlier than usual. That change in the marmot calendar offers their offspring an advantage in getting through the winter.
During hibernation, a marmot will lose around 40 percent of its body mass so their ability to pack it on during prime eating months also works to the general population's advantage. Marmots, which mate starting when they are about two years old, live up to 15 years.
"Marmots are awake for only four to five months of the year. These months are a busy time for them - they have to eat and gain weight, get pregnant, produce offspring and get ready to hibernate again," said Arpat Ozgul, lead author of the study. "Since the summers have become longer, marmots have had more time to do all these things and grow before the upcoming winter, so they are more likely to succeed and survive."
The study was carried out between 1976 and 2008 by several universities, including London's Imperial College London, where Ozgul teaches in the Department of Life Sciences.
Ozgul said that researchers have observed changes in the body mass of individual marmots over the course of the last three decades - as well as changes in their population size over the last 10 years. But he hesitated to predict what might happen next. "Will populations thrive in the changing climate? We suspect that this population increase is a short-term response to the lengthening summers. We hope that by continuing this long-term study we will shed important light on the marmots' future response to climate change," he said.