Monday, February 25, 2013

Acer launches 16GB Iconia B1 Android tablet for ?139

DNP EMBARGO  Acer outs 16GB Iconia B1A71 a lowend Android slate for &euro139

Acer's low-end Iconia B1-A71 Android tablet made its debut at CES 2013, packing a dual-core 1.2GHz Mediatek processor and 8GB of internal storage. A few months later here at MWC, the company is introducing a 16GB model of the 7-inch Jelly Bean slate, and it's on sale immediately for €139 (compared to €119 for the 8GB version). The higher storage capacity is the real story here; otherwise, you're looking at the same 1,024 x 600 display, 0.3-megapixel camera and lightweight plastic build. Like the version announced at CES, the B1 is available in Africa, Europe and the Middle East but not North America. Cruise past the break for the press release.

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Graphene: A material that multiplies the power of light

Feb. 24, 2013 ? Bottles, packaging, furniture, car parts... all made of plastic. Today we find it difficult to imagine our lives without this key material that revolutionized technology over the last century. There is wide-spread optimism in the scientific community that graphene will provide similar paradigm shifting advances in the decades to come. Mobile phones that fold, transparent and flexible solar panels, extra thin computers... the list of potential applications is endless.

The most recent discovery published in Nature Physics and made by researchers at the Institute of Photonic Science (ICFO), in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, Germany, and Graphenea S.L. Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain, demonstrate that graphene is able to convert a single photon that it absorbs into multiple electrons that could drive electric current (excited electrons) -- a very promising discovery that makes graphene an important alternative material for light detection and harvesting technologies, now based on conventional semiconductors like silicon.

"In most materials, one absorbed photon generates one electron, but in the case of graphene, we have seen that one absorbed photon is able to produce many excited electrons, and therefore generate larger electrical signals" explains Frank Koppens, group leader at ICFO. This feature makes graphene an ideal building block for any device that relies on converting light into electricity. In particular, it enables efficient light detectors and potentially also solar cells that can harvest light energy from the full solar spectrum with lower loss.

The experiment consisted in sending a known number of photons with different energies (different colors) onto a monolayer of graphene. "We have seen that high energy photons (e.g. violet) are converted into a larger number of excited electrons than low energy photons (e.g. infrared). The observed relation between the photon energy and the number of generated excited electrons shows that graphene converts light into electricity with very high efficiency. Even though it was already speculated that graphene holds potential for light-to-electricity conversion, it now turns out that it is even more suitable than expected!" explains Tielrooij, researcher at ICFO.

Although there are some issues for direct applications, such as graphene's low absorption, graphene holds the potential to cause radical changes in many technologies that are currently based on conventional semiconductors. "It was known that graphene is able to absorb a very large spectrum of light colors. However now we know that once the material has absorbed light, the energy conversion efficiency is very high. Our next challenge will be to find ways of extracting the electrical current and enhance the absorption of graphene. Then we will be able to design graphene devices that detect light more efficiently and could potentially even lead to more efficient solar cells." concludes Koppens.

Scientists, industries and the European Commission are so convinced of the potential of graphene to revolutionize the world economy that they promise an injection of ?1.000 million in graphene research.

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. K. J. Tielrooij, J. C. W. Song, S. A. Jensen, A. Centeno, A. Pesquera, A. Zurutuza Elorza, M. Bonn, L. S. Levitov, F. H. L. Koppens. Photoexcitation cascade and multiple hot-carrier generation in graphene. Nature Physics, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nphys2564

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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Sunday, February 24, 2013

The ?Language? Gene and Women?s Wagging Tongues

Aka, How to Twist Science to Reinforce Gender Stereotypes

Stylized rendering of FOXP2 attached to DNA (Wikipedia, Creative Commons License)

Stylized rendering of FOXP2 attached to DNA (Wikipedia, Creative Commons License)

Genes are subject to multiple layers of regulation.? An early regulatory point is transcription.? During this process, regulatory proteins bind to DNA regions (promoters and enhancers) that direct gene expression.? These DNA/protein complexes attract the transcription apparatus, which docks next to the complex and proceeds linearly downstream, producing the heteronuclear (hn) RNA that is encoded by the gene linked to the promoter.? The hnRNA is then spliced and either becomes structural/regulatory RNA or is translated into protein.

Transcription factors are members of large clans that arose from ancestral genes that went through successive duplications and then diverged to fit specific niches.? One such family of about fifty members is called FOX. Their DNA binding portion is shaped like a butterfly, which has given this particular motif the monikers of forkhead box or winged helix.? The activities of the FOX proteins extend widely in time and region.? One of the FOX family members is FOXP2, as notorious as Fox News ? except for different reasons: FOXP2 has become entrenched in popular consciousness as ?the language gene?.? As is the case with all such folklore, there is some truth in this; but as is the case with everything in biology, reality is far more complex.

FOXP2, the first gene found to ?affect language? (more on this anon), was discovered in 2001 by several converging observations and techniques.? The clincher was a large family (code name KE), some of whose members had severe articulation and grammatical deficits with no accompanying sensory or cognitive impairment.? The inheritance is autosomal dominant: one copy of the mutated gene is sufficient to confer the trait. When the researchers definitively identified the FOXP2 gene, they found that the version of FOXP2 carried by the KE affected members has a single point mutation that alters an invariant residue in its forkhead domain, thereby influencing the protein?s binding to its DNA targets.

Like all transcription factors, FOXP2 regulates many promoters. The primary domains of FOXP2 influence are brain and lung development.? Some of its downstream targets are themselves regulators of brain function (most prominently neurexin CNTNAP2).? Not surprisingly, deleting or mutating both FOXP2 copies in mice results in early death, whereas doing so to one copy leads to decreased vocalization and slightly impaired motor learning. FOXP2 is broadly conserved across vertebrates, but its critical functional regions have tiny but telling differences even between humans and their closest ape relatives.? Like other genes that influence human-specific attributes, human FOXP2 seems to have undergone positive selection during the broad intervals of crucial speciation events.? Along related lines, Neanderthals and Denisovans apparently had the same FOXP2 allele as contemporary humans, and by this criterion were fully capable of the articulation that makes language possible.

Which brings us to the nub of the issue.? What does FOXP2 do in brain?? Genes don?t encode higher-order functions, let alone behavior.? Also recall that the KE family members have a very circumscribed defect, despite its dramatic manifestation.? Finally, keep firmly in mind that language in humans includes a complex genetic component that involves many loci and just as many environmental interactions.? FOXP2 does not encode inherent language ability.? Instead, the time and place of its expression as well as studies in cell systems and other organisms (zebra finches, rodents) indicate that FOXP2 may be involved in neuronal plasticity, which in turn modulates capacity for learning by forming new synaptic connections.? FOXP2 may also be involved in regulation of motor neuron control in certain brain regions (cortical motor areas, cerebellum, striatum) that affect the ability to vocalize, sing and, in humans, form the complex sounds of language.

Given its connection, however over-interpreted, to ?what makes a human? as well as its chromosomal location (in 7q31, which also harbors candidates for autism and dementia), it?s not surprising that FOXP2 has acquired quasi-mythic dimensions in the lay imagination.? However, careful studies have shown that the genes on 7q31 responsible for autism and dementia are distinct from FOXP2.? Also, as I said earlier, FOXP2 does not code for language ability ? and even less for its culturally determined manifestations (many of which are a minefield of confirmation biases, unquestioned assumptions and simply sloppy work).

Gender Words. Mark Liberman?s Language Log, Sept. 2006

Gender Words. Mark Liberman?s Language Log, Sept. 2006

The latest round in the misrepresentation of FOXP2 is the gone-viral variation of ?there?s more of this ?language protein? in the left hemisphere of 4-year girls and that?s why women are three times as talkative as men?.? This came from the PR pitch of a research team who did a study primarily on rats (which confirmed the link between FOXP2 levels and vocalization) and then, perhaps attempting to latch onto a catchy soundbite, extended the gender link to humans based on? a single PCR amplification of ten Broca?s area cortices (from postmortem brains of 4-year olds, five from each sex; Broca?s area is involved in language processing).

To begin with, all studies conducted so far definitively show that women and men utter the same number of words by any metric chosen ? and that in fact men talk more than women in mixed-gender conversations (to say nothing of the gender-linked ratio of interruptions).? And whereas it?s true that girls develop vocal competence slightly earlier than boys and show higher linguistic skills during the early acquisition window, this difference is transient.? Furthermore, the FOXP1 control that the authors of the study argue does not show a gender-correlated change (unlike FOXP2) in fact is on the verge of doing so, and the relative statistical significances might well change if a larger number of samples were tested.? Finally, whereas decrease of FOXP2 reduces vocalization and increases pitch in male rat pups, it has the opposite effect in female rat pups.? In other words, the correlation between FOXP2 levels and vocalization/pitch is not straightforward even in rats.

In the larger context of expression and reception of vocalizations, the difference is not how much women talk, but how welcome and/or valued their input is.? Even trivial zomboid blathering is given higher value if it?s culturally coded as masculine (examples: sport newscasters; most congressmen).? In fairness to the researchers of the study that caused all this rehashing of kneejerk stereotypes and evopsycho Tarzanism, here is the concluding paragraph of their paper.? It states something both measured and, frankly, obvious:

?Gender is a purely human construct consisting of both self and others? perception of one?s sex and is arguably the first and most salient of all phenotypic variables. Sex differences in how language is received and processed and how speech is produced has the potential to influence gender both within and external to an individual. Whether human sex differences in FOXP2, and possibly FOXP1 as well, contribute to gender variation in language is a question for future research.?

Relevant publications and links:

Lai CS, Fisher SE, Hurst JA, Vargha-Khadem F, Monaco AP (2001).? A forkhead-domain gene is mutated in a severe speech and language disorder. Nature 413(6855):519-23.

White SA, Fisher SE, Geschwind DH, Scharff C, Holy TE (2006).? Singing mice, songbirds, and more: models for FOXP2 function and dysfunction in human speech and language. J. Neurosci. 26(41):10376-9.

Bowers JM, Perez-Pouchoulen M, Edwards NS, McCarthy MM (2013).? FOXP2 mediates sex differences in ultrasonic vocalization by rat pups and directs order of maternal retrieval. J. Neurosci. 33(8):3276-83.

Mark Liberman.? Gabby Guys: The Effect size (Language Log, Sept. 23, 2006)

Mark Liberman.? An Invented Statistic Returns (Language Log, Feb. 22, 2013)

Athena Andreadis.? Eldorado Desperadoes: Of Mice and Men (Starship Reckless, July 18, 2009)

Athena Andreadis.? Miranda Wrongs: Reading Too Much into the Genome (Starship Reckless, June 10, 2011)



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Santana exhibition debut pushed back to mid-March

New York Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana reacts during a spring training baseball workout, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

New York Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana reacts during a spring training baseball workout, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) ? Johan Santana will not make his first spring training appearance for the New York Mets this year until mid-March.

General manager Sandy Alderson said Friday the 33-year old left-hander is expected to pitch in an exhibition game sometime from March 10-12 instead of March 2. Alderson said he didn't think Santana will miss the start of the regular season, but said it was a possibility.

"There's no structural issue. It's just a matter of building up strength," Alderson said. "He'll be long-tossing before he gets back on the mound. We expect that his schedule will have been delayed somewhat."

A two-time AL Cy Young Award winner, Santana missed 2011 following shoulder surgery and went 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA in 21 starts last year, when he pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history on June 1 against St. Louis. He didn't pitch after Aug. 17 because of lower back inflammation.

Santana threw off a mound Sunday for the first time since August on Sunday. He said he felt fine after the 20-pitch session and was on track to start the April 1 opener against San Diego.

Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek examined Santana this week.

"We expected he would have had a normal offseason and he did have a normal offseason with the exception of not throwing," Alderson said. "His throwing program is somewhat behind, but the important thing is Altchek saw him yesterday. There's no structural issue. There's no shoulder issue, it's just an overall conditioning issue as it relates to throwing."

Santana gets $25.5 million this year in the final guaranteed season of his $137.5 million, six-year contract. The Mets hold a $25 million option for 2014 with a $5.5 million buyout.

Alderson also said reliever Pedro Feliciano and outfielder Jamie Hoffmann have returned to New York for follow-up exams to their physicals, which took place Sunday. Alderson would not go into detail other than terming the issues "non-orthopedic." He expects the both players to return to camp within two days.

New York said reliever Frank Francisco is expected to begin throwing Monday or Tuesday. Francisco was examined by Altchek on Thursday and Alderson said it was determined there was no structural issues in his surgically repaired right elbow. Francisco has not pitched in more than a week due to inflammation.

Associated Press


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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Vegas strip shooting, crash SUV found; man sought

This photo provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows Ammar Harris in a booking photo from a 2012 arrest in Las Vegas. Police have identified Harris as a suspect in a shooting that sent a Maserati into a taxi that exploded, killing three people on Feb. 21, 2013 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)

This photo provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows Ammar Harris in a booking photo from a 2012 arrest in Las Vegas. Police have identified Harris as a suspect in a shooting that sent a Maserati into a taxi that exploded, killing three people on Feb. 21, 2013 in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)

This photo provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows a black Range Rover SUV in Las Vegas that was found Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, at an apartment complex east of the Las Vegas Strip. It has been impounded as evidence in connection with a shooting that sent a Maserati into a taxi that exploded, killing three people. Police are looking for 26-year-old Ammar Harris in connection with the shooting. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)

FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2013 file photo, law enforcement personal investigate the scene of a mulit-vehicle accident on Las Vegas Blvd and Flamingo Road Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. Variously known as an adult playground and Disneyland for grown-ups, Las Vegas has worked to brand itself as a place where tourists can enjoy a sense of edginess with no real danger. But a series of high-profile and seemingly random incidents that have left visitors to the Strip dead or in the hospital is threatening Sin City?s reputation as a padded room of a town where people can cut loose with no fear of consequences. (AP Photo/Las Vegas Review-Journal, Jeff Scheid) LOCAL TV OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; LAS VEGAS SUN OUT

This undated image provided by Robert S. Beckett shows Kenneth Cherry Jr., also known as rapper Kenny Clutch. The Clark County, Nev., coroner's office identified Cherry as the Maserati driver who died after being peppered with gunfire from someone in a Range Rover SUV, sparking a fiery crash that killed two others, in Las Vegas, Feb. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Robert S. Beckett)

(AP) ? A black SUV was found Saturday in Las Vegas, where police named a 26-year-old man as the suspect in a shooting and fiery crash that killed an aspiring rapper in a Maserati and two people in a taxi, and injured at least five other people at the heart of the Strip.

Police said Ammar Harris was being sought in connection with the deadly shooting and six-vehicle chain-reaction carnage before dawn Thursday on the neon-lit boulevard near the Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Bally's and Flamingo resorts.

"His location is unknown," police Capt. Chris Jones said of Harris, who sometimes goes by the name Ammar Asim Faruq Harris. Police say he has been arrested for working as a pimp.

Police also released a photo that Jones said was taken when Harris was arrested last year on pandering, kidnapping, sexual assault and coercion charges. The disposition of that case was not immediately known.

The photo shows Harris with tattoos on his right cheek and words in script on his neck above an image appearing to depict an owl with blackened eyes. Jones warned that Harris should be considered armed and dangerous.

The Range Rover with blackout windows and distinctive black rims was located at an apartment complex just a couple of blocks east of the Strip. Jones said it was impounded as evidence and towed away.

The shooting killed aspiring rapper Kenneth Wayne Cherry Jr., who was driving a dark gray Maserati that was peppered by gunfire from the SUV.

Taxi driver Michael Boldon and passenger Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, of Maple Valley, Wash., died when the Maserati hit their taxi, which exploded in flames.

Boldon, 62, was a family man who moved from Michigan to Las Vegas. Sutton-Wasmund, 48, was a businesswoman and mother of three.

A passenger in the Maserati was wounded in the arm and four people from four other vehicles were treated for injuries that police said weren't life-threatening. The Maserati passenger was released from a hospital, and police said he was cooperating with investigators. His name hasn't been made public.

The shocking chain of events had family members and friends in Las Vegas, California, Michigan and Washington trying to grasp the blink-of-an-eye finality of it all.

"My son was a good boy," Kenneth Cherry Sr. told reporters Saturday in a news conference convened by Las Vegas lawyers Vicki Greco and Robert Beckett.

Beckett said they wanted to respond to rumors that the 27-year-old son ? who produced a rap video using the name Kenny Clutch ? was a gangster and a troublemaker. The attorneys had represented his son, and now represent his estate and the family.

"My son was a victim just like the two people in that taxi," Kenneth Cherry Sr. said. "Trouble found him. The people in the taxicab, trouble found them."

Court records show Cherry had no criminal cases or convictions in Las Vegas, and police said there was no record of arrests.

The Clark County coroner determined that Kenny Cherry died of at least one gunshot to the chest. Boldon and Sutton-Wasmund died of injuries in the crash. All three deaths were ruled homicides.

Police say the shooting appeared to stem from an argument at the valet area of the upscale Aria resort-casino about a block south of the crash scene. They haven't shared details. The shooting happened after a night featuring Morocco-born rapper French Montana at Aria's signature nightclub, Haze.

Police obtained traffic and surveillance videos and enlisted help from federal authorities and agencies in neighboring states to look for the Range Rover.

Cherry's parents live in Emeryville, Calif., and the father said his son's body would be taken back to Oakland, where memorial services were incomplete.

He said his son started a music career in Oakland after attending two Catholic high schools. According to his father, Cherry was recognized by other rappers within a West Coast hip-hop strain called hyphy.

Cherry wasn't well-known in wider music circles, according to Chuck Creekmur, CEO of

Kenny Clutch's YouTube music video, "Stay Schemin," shows scenes of hotels along the Strip as he sings about paying $120,000 for his Maserati.

"One mistake change lives all in one night," he raps in one verse.

Kenneth Cherry Sr., who said he runs a cellphone business, said he helped his son make payments on the Maserati and last spoke with him on Wednesday. They talked about the high cost of the son's cellphone use.

Cherry Sr. described his son as an entrepreneur but didn't say how he made money or if he had jobs other than his music production. He declined to say more when pressed by reporters.

Boldon's family in Las Vegas struggled to cope with his death, said Tehran Boldon, the taxi driver's younger brother.

Boldon's sister, Carolyn Jean Trimble, said Boldon was a father, a grandfather and a car enthusiast who watched IndyCar and NASCAR races and drove a Mercedes when he wasn't in a cab. He was one of five children born and raised in Michigan, where he took care of his ailing father before moving to Las Vegas to be with his 93-year-old mother.

Bolden had owned a clothing store in Detroit and worked at a car dealership, his sister said. He began driving taxis after moving to Las Vegas about 1 1/2 years ago.

The irony that a man with a taste for beautiful cars was killed by a sports car wasn't lost on Trimble.

"He would be tickled to death: 'Damn, of all things, a Maserati hit me, took me out like that,'" she said. "I'm happy he didn't suffer."

In Washington, Sutton-Wasmund co-owned a dress shop, said Debbie Tvedt, the office manager for a Maple Valley plumbing company that Sutton-Wasmund started with her husband, James Wasmund. Sutton-Wasmund had been in Las Vegas attending a trade show with her partner in the shop.

"It's a big loss," Tvedt said tearfully in a telephone interview with AP.

The Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce website said Sutton-Wasmund was a board member from 2004 to 2011 before becoming a marketing representative.

"Sandi was a loving wife, mother, daughter and sister," said a statement provided to KING-TV in Seattle on behalf of Sutton-Wasmund's family. "Her innocent and tragic loss will be felt by all of those who knew and loved her and by the community at large."

A phone message left for James Wasmund was not immediately returned.

The famously glowing, always-open Las Vegas Strip was closed for some 15 hours after the crash. Nevada Highway Patrol Sgt. Eric Kemmer recalled a similarly long closure after the 1996 drive-by slaying of rapper Tupac Shakur.

That shooting ? involving assailants opening fire on Shakur's luxury sedan from a vehicle on Flamingo Road ? happened about a block away from Thursday's crash.

The Shakur killing has never been solved.


Associated Press writers Michelle Rindels in Las Vegas, Garance Burke in San Francisco, Kathy McCarthy in Seattle and AP Music Writer Mesfin Fekadu in New York contributed to this report.

Associated Press


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Bid on a signed Johnny Manziel football, help a student with leukemia!

Van Jr. High School student Byron Jones found out in January that he had leukemia and had to leave school. Now he has to get regular costly chemotherapy, bone marrow and blood transfusions.

"I drive to Dallas every Thursday to get chemotherapy, and if I need blood or anything, I do that," he said.

Van Jr. High School has rallied behind Byron. The students started collecting donations, selling t-shirts and bracelets, and now they're having a silent auction, and they invite everyone to be a part!


If you are interested in bidding on an autographed Jonny Manziel football,? the? silent auction is occurring this week, Feb. 18-22.

The bidding will start at $2500.00 and the auction will end at 3:00pm, Friday, February 22, 2013.? You will need to email Paige Redmond your bid at to place your bid.

An email to each bidder will go out daily at 3:00pm to give them an update on the highest bid and bidder. On the final day Paige will send an email out at 12:00pm stating who is currently in the lead and at what amount.?

In the event of a tie bid at the deadline on Friday, February 22, 2013, she will notify the parties involved with the tie to give them an opportunity to place one final bid.? If the winning bidder cannot follow through on the promise to pay, then the second place bidder will be notified.?

Cashier checks and money orders are the only forms of payment that can be accepted.?

The monies received will go directly to the family to help pay cover costs incurred from weekly medical treatments.

You can also donate in any amount to Byron at Texas Bank and Trust. Just go to any Texas Bank and Trust and donate to the Byron Jones fund.

There will be a blood drive for Byron at the Van Jr. High gymnasium on February 26 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Copyright 2013 KLTV. All rights reserved.


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ZEN and TECH 52: Fitness month sleep and relaxation special!

Georgia and Rene are joined by WPCentral's Daniel Rubino, a former sleep technician, to discuss the importance of rest, relaxation, meditation, and... sleep! We talk about common sleeping problems, and offer tips and advice on getting better, healthier sleep. Join us!

Show notes



While Georgia is a therapist, she's not YOUR therapist. Everything said or implied on this show is for informational and entertainment purposes only. And shouldn't be taken in any way as a replacement for proper, professional care.


Music is Peace on Earth by wellman.

Thanks everyone, you're the best community on the web and we love having you with us!


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Journey to the limits of spacetime

Friday, February 22, 2013

Voracious absences at the center of galaxies, black holes shape the growth and death of the stars around them through their powerful gravitational pull and explosive ejections of energy.

"Over its lifetime, a black hole can release more energy than all the stars in a galaxy combined," said Roger Blandford, director of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Science. "Black holes have a major impact on the formation of galaxies and the environmental growth and evolution of those galaxies."

Gravitational forces grow so strong close to a black hole that even light cannot escape from within, hence the difficulty in observing them directly. Scientists infer facts about black holes by their influence on the astronomical objects around them: the orbit of stars and clumps of detectable energy.

With this information in hand, scientists create computer models to understand the data and to make predictions about the physics of distant regions of space. However, models are only as good as their assumptions.

"All tests of general relativity in the weak gravity field limit, like in our solar system, fall directly along the lines of what Einstein predicted," explained Jonathan McKinney, an assistant professor of physics at the University of Maryland at College Park. "But there is another regime?which has yet to be tested, and which is the hardest to test?that represents the strong gravitational field limit. And according to Einstein, gravity is strongest near black holes."

This makes black holes the ultimate experimental testing grounds for Einstein's theory of general relativity.

While black holes cannot be observed, they are typically accompanied by other objects with distinctive features that can be seen, including accretion disks, which are circling disks of superhot matter on our side of the black hole's "event horizon"; and relativistic jets, high-powered streams of ionized gases that shoot hundreds of thousands of light years across the sky.

In a paper published in Science in January 2013, McKinney, Tchekhovskoy and Blandford predicted the formation of accretion disks and relativistic jets that warp and bend more than previously thought, shaped both by the extreme gravity of the black hole and by powerful magnetic forces generated by its spin. Their highly detailed models of the black hole environment contribute new knowledge to the field.

For decades, a simplistic view of the accretion disks and polar jets reigned. It was widely believed that accretion disks sat like flat plates along the outer edges of black holes and that jets shot straight out perpendicularly. However, new 3D simulations performed on the powerful supercomputers of the National Science Foundation's Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) and NASA overturned this oversimplified view of jets and disks.

The simulations show that the jet is aligned with the black hole's spin near the black hole but that it gradually gets pushed by the disk material and becomes parallel to (but offset from) the disk's rotational axis at large distances. The interaction between the jet and disk leaves a warp in the accretion disk density.

"An important aspect that determines jet properties is the strength of the magnetic field threading the black hole," said Alexander Tchekhovskoy, a post-doctoral fellow at the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science. "While in previous works it was a free parameter, in our series of works the field is maximum: it is as strong as a black hole's gravity pull on the disk."

In the simulations, the twisting energy grows so strong that it actually powers the jet. In fact, the jet can reorient the accretion disk, rather than the other way around, as was thought previously.

"People had thought that the disk was the dominant aspect," McKinney said. "It was the dog and the jet was the wagging tail. But we found that the magnetic field builds up to become stronger than gravity, and then the jet becomes the dog and the disk becomes the wagging tail. Or, one can say the dog is chasing its own tail, because the disk and jet are quite balanced, with the disk following the jet ? it's the inverse situation to what people thought."

What does this have to do with Einstein and his theory of general relativity?

Astronomers are closer than ever to being able to see the details of the jets and accretion disks around black holes. In a September 2012 paper in Science, Sheperd Doeleman of MIT reported the first images of the jet-launching structure near the supermassive black hole, M87, at the center of a neighboring galaxy, captured using the Event Horizon Telescope, a very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) array composed of four telescopes at three geographical locations. It constituted a small sliver of a vast skyscape, yet the results give astronomers like McKinney, Tchekhovskoy and Blandford the hope that they will get their first comprehensive glimpse into the black hole's neighborhood in the next three to five years.

"We'll see the gases swirl around the black hole and other optical effects that will be signatures of a black holes in spacetime that one can look out for," said Blandford.

The observations will either match models like theirs, or they will be different. Both outcomes will tell researchers a lot.

"If you don't have an accurate model and anything can happen as far as you understand, then you're not going to be able to make any constraints and prove one way or another whether Einstein was right," McKinney explained. "But if you have an accurate model using Einstein's equations, and you observe a black hole that is very different from what you expected, then you can begin to say that he may be wrong."

The model Blandford and others generated using supercomputing simulations will help serve that comparative role. But they need to add one crucial element to make the simulations meaningful: a way of translating the physics of the black hole system into a visual signal as it would be seen from the vantage point of our telescopes, billions of light years away.

"We're in the process of making our simulations shine, so they can be compared with observations," McKinney said, "not only to test our ideas of how these disks and jets work, but ultimately to test general relativity."


University of Texas at Austin, Texas Advanced Computing Center:

Thanks to University of Texas at Austin, Texas Advanced Computing Center for this article.

This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Jesse Jackson Jr., wife to appear in court

(AP) ? Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife are to appear in federal court to answer criminal charges that they engaged in an alleged scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items.

Both the former Illinois congressman and his wife, Sandra, have agreed to plead guilty in deals with federal prosecutors. Jackson is charged with conspiracy and his wife with one count of filing false joint federal income tax returns for the years 2006 through 2011 that knowingly understated the income the couple received.

The Jacksons are appearing separately Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins ? with the former congressman appearing in the morning and his wife in the afternoon.

Both Jackson and his wife face maximum penalties of several years in prison; he also faces hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and forfeitures.

Jackson, 47, used campaign money to buy a $43,350 gold-plated, men's Rolex watch and spent $9,587.64 on children's furniture, according to court papers filed in the case. His wife spent $5,150 on fur capes and parkas, the document said.

When prosecutors charged the couple last Friday, the ex-congressman said he fully accepts the responsibility for the improper decisions and mistakes he has made. Tom Kirsch, an attorney for Jackson's wife, said she has signed a plea agreement with federal prosecutors and would plead guilty to one tax count.

The conspiracy charge against the former congressman carries a maximum statutory penalty of up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and other penalties. The charge against Sandra Jackson carries a maximum of three years in prison. However, one of her lawyers, Tom Kirsch, says the plea agreement "does not contemplate a sentence of that length." Sandra Jackson was a Chicago alderman before she resigned last month during the federal investigation.

In court papers filed against Jackson on Friday, prosecutors said that upon conviction he must forfeit $750,000, plus tens of thousands of dollars' worth of memorabilia items and furs. The memorabilia includes a football signed by U.S. presidents, a Michael Jackson fedora, and memorabilia of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Lee ? all from a company called Antiquities of Nevada.

Associated Press


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The big shift | Peak Oil News and Message Boards

The big shift thumbnail

An energy transition has begun, but it?s probably not the one you imagined.

It might have an ugly financial face, an authoritarian political mask or come in the guise of geographic disunion.

But it probably won?t look like a solar panel or a windmill. And it won?t include flying cars or undersea homes.

Although no one really knows where the globe?s energy mix is headed or how it will shape our lives in the future, energy experts now offer a diversity of forecasts, stories and warnings.

Their pronouncements are both myth busting if not startling.

When economies shrink

Jeff Rubin, the former chief economist for CIBC, argues that ?the new green? will not be endless arrays of solar panels or windmills but less oil and smaller economies.

Mikal Hook, an analyst at Sweden?s Uppsala Depletion Group, goes further and argues that any orderly energy transition might now be impossible because renewables simply can?t grow as fast as oil.

He also warns that all citizens should prepare for ?high and likely volatile oil prices,? and that governments should be ?educating their citizenry of the risk of contraction to minimize potential future social discord.?

Chris Turner, Calgary?s sustainability journalist, believes that an orderly energy leap can be made but political leaders and the status quo aren?t showing much interest in public transit or renewable forms of energy at least in North America.

Joseph Tainter, the U.S. anthropologist and historian, suggests that civilization has climbed a tall spiral staircase of energy complexity without knowing how far we can go with the resources we have at hand.

He warns that it takes energy to solve complex problems and he doesn?t think society can voluntarily cut back on fossil fuels.

Vaclav Smil, a University of Manitoba researcher and one of the world?s great energy analysts, believes that energy obesity is the moral problem and proscribes a diet consisting of low-hanging fruit such as efficient furnaces and high speed trains.

Douglas Reynolds, an economist and engineer at University of Alaska Fairbanks, calls the collapse of the Soviet Union a dark energy transition and one completely unforetold.

When oil production collapsed from 12 million to five million barrels a day after 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, the rich got richer, the Eastern Union dissolved and the Warsaw Pact crumbled.

And that?s just a sampling of the voices and ideas you?ll read in this series on energy transitions. In the next couple of weeks we?ll take a hard look at the myths, the facts and some enduring truths about dirty oils, uncertain renewables and contracting economies.

Where we are now

But before we can talk about change, evolution, innovation or just plain dissolution, we need to appreciate where we are in the energy world.

The basic global energy picture is what Nobel laureate Richard Smalley once called the ?terawatt challenge.? And it comes with no comfortable answers.

What?s a terawatt? It is the average rate at which energy is released in the burning of five billion barrels of oil during a year.

The world uses on a continuing basis about 17 terawatts of energy in the form of coal, gas, oil and nuclear power. Eighty-five per cent of that work comes from fossil fuels. In fact, oil provides 37 per cent of the energy mix and accounts for 90 per cent of all transportation fuels. It?s the lynchpin of the global energy system.

Renewable or green forms of energy such as hydro and wood contribute slightly more than one terawatt. Wind, solar and biofuels barely appear on the chart. (One terawatt, by the way, is the amount of energy the world consumed in 1890.)


Terrawatt challenge: Chart shows where our energy comes from now. Where can we go from here?

Now the relationship between economic growth and energy consumption is pretty direct, if not fundamental. Countries that spend lots of energy, and particularly oil, tend to be wealthier than those that don?t.

?Just as higher metabolic rates are required to sustain and grow larger, more complex bodies, so higher rates of energy consumption are required to sustain and grow larger, more developed economies that provide greater levels of technological development and higher standards of living,? explains a group of scientists in the journal BioScience in 2011. Even GDP is strongly linked to oil spending.

In an article entitled ?Energetic Limits to Economic Growth? the scientists add that a global energy diet would likely constrict the economic system. ?Gradually reducing an individual?s food supply leads initially to physiological adjustments, but then to death from starvation, well before all food supplies have been exhausted,? say the scientists.

Changing the diet

Now everyone who buys gasoline knows that the era of cheap oil is over and that is already feeling the pinch. Business as usual is not working.

Difficult hydrocarbons such as bitumen and deep sea oil are now replacing easy oil, and that shift alone represents a dramatic and little heralded energy transition.

The carbon, capital and environmental footprint of these difficult or low quality crudes are bigger and more complex than light oil.

At the same time most citizens also recognize that investments in renewable forms of energy remain small, costly and dispersed. Moreover they produce electricity, not liquid fuel.

So that?s the first challenge. How does a society maintain an expensive 17 terawatt diet when the cost of its primary energy supply hits triple digits and the so-called replacements are neither as versatile or portable as oil?

But here?s another twist. If the rest of the world were to adopt the lifestyles of the average North American who now consumes 24 barrels of oil (and lots more electricity) civilization would require a fivefold increase in energy consumption. That?s 77 terawatts.

To entertain a global population of 9.5 billion in 2050 on North Americans standards multiplies the challenge again.

Such a policy would take another 268 terawatts or 16 times the current level of energy spending. (Just to energize nine billion people living at current Chinese standards would take at least 34 terawatts or a near tripling of current rates.)


Utopian dreams: French postcard from the late 19th century portraying how our master of energy would allow us to be living now. Source: Messy Nessy.

These ungainly figures invite several more conundrums. The amount of energy that can be harvested from the planet on an annual basis is about 77 terawatts. So any business as usual case based on exporting North American energy lifestyles to China and India totally busts the world?s energy bank.

A third problem arises from the atmospheric pollution created by the burning of fossil fuels over more than 150 years. To avoid catastrophic global warming and runaway ocean acidification, scientists calculate that society requires a massive energy conversion to renewables beginning yesterday.

Such a program means converting the current energy budget of 17 terawatts from mostly fossil fuels to 14 terawatts from renewables within 25 years. Such a revolution would reduce the fossil fuel share of the energy mix to about three terawatts a day.

Wind farm continents?

But is such a feat even possible given renewables low profile energy in a debt-ridden world?

The U.S. inventor and engineer Saul Griffith calculates that that world would have to industrialize a landmass the size of Australia with wind farms, solar arrays and algae biofuel factories to achieve such a climate stabilization goal.

He calls this unmade alternative geography ?Renewistan,? and compares the scale of the endeavor to getting all the combatants in the Second World War fighting on the same side for 25 years in a row. Few environmentalists appreciate the magnitude or the cost of this challenge.

In the end, there are several different ways of answering the terawatt challenge. The politically correct and dominant approach is denial. But one way or another the globe must increase either renewable energy supplies, decrease fossil fuel use or lower population levels. Or achieve all three simultaneously.

But whatever nations choose or deny, ordinary citizens face years of political and economic volatility in the years ahead.

And the first thing we need to acknowledge and understand about energy transitions is that they do not arrive fully formed or in polite clothing.

The long switch from wood to coal was driven by the systematic deforestation of Europe while the difficult shift from human slavery to inanimate slaves energized by steam took one of the world?s most dramatic protest movements: abolition.

Realism and hope

History shows that energy transitions are invariably a utopian?s worst nightmare or a novelist?s best idea: they are protracted, difficult and unpredictable.

And one more thing: energy transitions are often ripe with conflict.

All the more reason to begin today thinking and talking about that transition, and so this is the first of many articles to come in a series we are calling ?The Big Shift? ? a clear-eyed exploration of what limits we face in our fossil fuel energy supplies, the potential of green energy, the resilience of our societies, the fragility of our political systems.

This series seeks to provide merely the most realistic information and well grounded analyses available. There?s no usefulness in sugar coating that produces false optimism that in turn might lull us into complacency at a moment when critical technological and political shifts must be anticipated and navigated. At the same time, hope begins with recognizing the challenges we face and the opportunities they present. Once gauged with clarity, we can get on with the task at hand, minimizing the risk and hardship that any big shift necessarily entails.

The Tyee


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Raising NC tanning-bed age discussed in House

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Some North Carolina legislators say young people should be barred from getting bronzed with tanning beds because their risks for cancer are too great.

A House committee considered a bill Tuesday to prohibit tanning salons from having customers under age 18. Current law prohibits anyone 13 or younger from using salon equipment unless a doctor gives the child a written prescription. Children 14 to 17 must have a parent's permission.

The bill has the weight of several medical and cancer-prevention groups behind it. Dermatologist Dr. Kelly Nelson with Duke University Medical Center told the committee she's seen too many women with melanoma and other skin cancers that used tanning beds as teenagers.

A vote was delayed after a spokesman for an industry-funded institute argued that bill supporters were misinforming lawmakers.


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Career outlook is bleak for kid Oscar nominees

By Rick Warner, TODAY contributor

If 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis wins an Oscar for "Beasts of the Southern Wild," she?ll be the youngest performer ever to capture an adult version of Hollywood?s most coveted prize. Unfortunately for Wallis, her chances of taking home the gold-plated statuette for best actress are slim, and if history is a predictor, being bestowed with an Oscar at such a young age won't do much for her career anyway.

Reuters, WireImage

Wallis, who was only 6 when she made "Beasts of the Southern Wild,"? is the 22nd actor or actress to get an Oscar nomination before turning 18. Only three have won, however, and all for supporting roles: Tatum O?Neal, Anna Paquin and Patty Duke.? That?s not counting the honorary juvenile award first given to 6-year-old Shirley Temple in 1935 and last handed out to 14-year-old Hayley Mills in 1961.

The youngest winner was O?Neal, just 10 when she was honored for her precocious performance as the sidekick of a Depression-era con man (played by her father Ryan) in 1973?s "Paper Moon." She went on to star in "The Bad News Bears" and "International Velvet," but drug problems -- the result, according to her autobiography "A Paper Life," of growing up with an alcoholic mother and abusive father living in Hollywood?s fast lane -- derailed her career and marriage to tennis great John McEnroe.

Paquin, who was 11 when she won for 1993?s "The Piano," is the anomaly. She stars in HBO's "True Blood," had a recurring role in the "X-Men" series and has scored great film roles in "Almost Famous" and "The Squid and the Whale."

Duke's career trajectory was much different. Winning the the supporting-actress award for playing Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker" (1962) when she was 16 did not "open any doors for me," she told

Sure, she parlayed her Oscar into a TV series, "The Patty Duke Show," but her feature-film career fizzled as an adult and she mostly appeared in made-for-TV movies."It's a kick when people refer to me as an Oscar winner," she said. "But part of me says, 'Hey, I?m 66 years old. When are you going to give me another part for which I could be nominated?' "

While Wallis is the youngest best actress nominee, she's not the youngest nominee ever -- that goes to Justin Henry, only 8 when he played the child of divorcing parents in "Kramer vs. Kramer?? (1979).? He?s never given up acting, but he hasn?t achieved the same kind of recognition again, and now works as a sales director for an Internet ad company.

" 'Kramer vs. Kramer' spoiled me," he told "When you have such a magical experience with your first movie, it?s hard to match after that."

Haley Joel Osment, who was 11 when he was nominated as the boy who sees dead people in "The Sixth Sense" (1999), later starred in Steven Spielberg?s "A.I." and recently finished filming the sci-fi thriller "I?ll Follow You Down.?? But like many young Oscar nominees, he?s had a hard time duplicating his early success.

"When you?re young, it seems like a blur," Osment said. "You don?t realize what a unique situation you?re in."

The list of young Oscar nominees includes one-hit wonders (Mary Badham of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Quinn Cummings of "The Goodbye Girl"); actors who who died prematurely (Sal Mineo of "Rebel Without a Cause" and Brandon deWilde of "Shane"); and casualties of drug or alcohol abuse (Jack Wild of "Oliver!" and Linda Blair of "The Exorcist").

Is there a reluctance to give Oscars to very young actors? Do Academy voters prefer to vote for veterans who may not get another chance for glory?

"I do think voters are partial to people who have paid their dues, which works against young actors who don?t yet have long histories,?? Robert Osborne, a host for Turner Classic Movies and author of many books about the Oscars, told "The demands put on an adult and a child are entirely different, and it?s foolish to try to compare them," he said.

Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin are among the exceptions, child actors who continued to have steady, successful careers after losing their first bids for Oscars.

Foster was 14 when she was nominated for her supporting role as a child prostitute in "Taxi Driver" (1976). Though she lost to Beatrice Straight ("Network"), Foster went on to win best-actress Oscars for "The Accused" (1988) and "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991), and recently received a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes.

Breslin, a best supporting-actress nominee for "Little Miss Sunshine" (2006) at age 10, filmed five movies last year, including an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play "August: Osage County." Breslin said her parents made sure celebrity didn?t go to her head.

"I still had to come home, take out the trash and feed the dogs," she told in an interview from her New York home, where she still lives with her mom and dad.

So what does the experience of past juvenile nominees mean for Wallis? Would an Oscar victory be a good or bad omen? Would losing actually be better than winning?

Regardless of what happens at the Oscars on Feb. 24, history indicates that Wallis faces an uphill battle to achieve adult stardom. But as Foster and Paquin prove, it can be done.

"Winning an Oscar when you?re young is wonderful,?? Duke said, "but it?s what you do with the rest of your life that really matters.??


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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Apple Hit By Hackers Who Struck Facebook

Apple Inc. said Tuesday that it has been attacked by hackers who infected a small number of the company's Mac computers. WSJ's Jessica Lessin reports. (Photo: Getty Images)

Apple Inc. said Tuesday that some of its employees' Mac computers were attacked by hackers, a rare admission for a company that has long touted its security over PCs running Windows software.

Apple said a "small number" of computers became infected after employees visited a website for software developers that transmitted the malicious computer code.

Apple said Tuesday it would release a software update to protect Mac users, and is working with law enforcement to find the source of the so-called malware.

The disclosure is unusual for Apple, which generally doesn't detail particular attacks. In the past, the company has generally issued notices on its support page of possible vulnerabilities and issued software updates to fix them.

Why is an old iPhone still worth hundreds of dollars? New research suggests a surprising explanation: hoarding. Kelli Grant explains on digits. Photo: Getty Images.

Apple had for years boasted that its computers were resistant to malicious software, a key selling point over computers running Microsoft Corp.'s software. Hackers have increasingly targeted Macs in recent years, reflecting the growing popularity of the Apple brand and the rising number of Macs being used in companies.

The malicious code in the latest attack is believed to have been the same discovered by Facebook Inc., which said on Friday that its employees' computers were breached by hackers last month.

The companies played down the impact of the attacks on their operations, and Apple and Facebook said no data appeared to have been stolen. But the events underscore the vulnerability of some of the world's most sophisticated technology companies to an ever-changing array of attacks, with outside experts increasingly tracing the break-ins in the U.S. to foreign countries.

Twitter Inc., the popular microblogging site, earlier this month said it had been the victim of an attack that may have granted hackers access to information including usernames and email addresses for about 250,000 of its users.

Motivations of the attackers seem to be proliferating. In the case of technology companies, people rummaging through their computer networks seem to be searching for product-development plans and other intellectual property.

At government institutions, reported targets include information about intelligence-gathering and weapons systems. In other cases, intruders have looked for information about critical pieces of U.S. infrastructure, such as electricity and energy distribution networks.

A report on Tuesday by security research firm Mandiant Corp. pointed to cyberespionage efforts by a group in China it linked to the military.

At the CIO Network on January 15, 2013 in San Diego, CA, Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff talks about the various methods governments and companies can use to respond to a cyber attack.

At the CIO Network on January 15, 2013 in San Diego, CA, Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff discusses the various types of cyber crimes that threaten U.S. companies as well as our energy grid and various utilities.

"From our visibility, it is massive and it is growing exponentially over the years," said Dan McWhorter, Mandiant's managing director of threat intelligence.

Chinese government officials rejected the allegations.

The attacks show how the range of targets are broadening beyond organized criminals, many based in Eastern Europe, seeking customer data like credit card numbers.

A report to be published Wednesday by a U.S. research firm, Trustwave Holdings Inc., says of the 450 data breaches that Trustwave investigated in 2012 for its own clients around the world, more than 33% originated from Romania, and 29% from the U.S.

China was the fifth-most-common source, Trustwave said, accounting for nearly 4% of the attacks, while nearly 15% have unknown origins.

Many highly publicized attacks have been based on a tactic called "spear-phishing," where email users are tricked into opening a legitimate-sounding message that contains code called malware that lets attackers penetrate corporate networks.

Apple and Facebook appeared to be affected by another exploit, called a "watering hole" attack. Facebook, in a blog post, on Friday said it discovered the attack after finding a suspicious Internet domain in its computer logs that it traced to a single employee laptop.

The social network then launched what it called a "significant" investigation, working with other companies it believed to have been affected, as well as with law enforcement authorities.

Some security researchers said they believed the attack may have originated in China, but Facebook hasn't commented on where it may have originated.

Apple, for its part, said Tuesday, "The malware was employed in an attack against Apple and other companies, and was spread through a website for software developers."

Last year, hundreds of thousands of Macs were hit by a massive attack from a malware program known as "Flashback." Apple released a security update for its software at the time.

Chester Wisniewski, a senior security adviser at Sophos Canada, said he has recently noticed an increase in more sophisticated "data stealing" software designed for Apple's Mac computers.

Mr. Wisniewski suggested this might be due to the type of decision maker within a company liable to have an Apple computer rather than a PC: "Executives and VPs are more likely to have Macs," he said.

Twitter, meanwhile, responded to its attack by resetting passwords for infected accounts. "This attack was not the work of amateurs, and we do not believe it was an isolated incident," Twitter said, but didn't elaborate.


Apple and Facebook said no data appeared to have been stolen. Above, a man looks at his Apple iPad.

Mandiant said it found evidence linking the attacks it studied to the Chinese military, including IP addresses of intruders registered in Shanghai.

It also said the size of the infrastructure of the attacker it researched suggests a large organization with at least dozens and possibly hundreds of people at work.

Mr. McWhorter said that unlike hacking attacks that seek credit card numbers and other personal information that can be easily sold, the Chinese attacks it followed often ignored sensitive financial data to instead focus on stealing intellectual property.

"Anyone that has intellectual property that makes their business work and makes them run and makes them more profitable" is at risk, he said.

Trustwave's data meanwhile, show that hacking attacks by organized criminals seeking valuable customer data still dominate the cyberattacks on big and small businesses, at least in total numbers.

"The vast majority of what we see is financially motivated?going after financial data and trying to make money off it," said Nicholas Percoco, a senior vice president at Trustwave.

A report published last year by a unit of Verizon Communications Inc. that also investigates cybercrime found a similar geographic distribution of hackers. In the 855 intrusions from 2011 it studied from its own clients and in conjunction with the U.S. Secret Service and other international police groups, Verizon found that 67% of attacks originated from Eastern Europe, 20% from the U.S., and 2% from East Asia.

But the numbers don't paint a complete picture, said security experts. While companies are now more aware of attacks that lead to financial crimes?and hiring companies such as Trustwave and Verizon to investigate them?espionage-focused hacks have been typically harder to identify and track.

When intellectual property or trade secrets get stolen "there is no fraud algorithm to let you know," said Chris Porter, a managing principal at Verizon. It takes companies longer to realize they've been the victim of an espionage attacks, he said, and when American companies do they often deal directly with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which doesn't release data on the topic.

"We are finally shining a light on this a little bit," said Mr. Porter.

?John Letzing
contributed to this article.

Write to Jessica E. Lessin at and Geoffrey A. Fowler at


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Senator Jon Tester Visits St. Patrick Hospital's Physical Therapy ...

Jon Tester at St. Pats
photo by Peter Christian

Senator Jon Tester was in Missoula Monday afternoon to visit St. Patrick Hospital and discuss a bill he has sponsored to help physical therapy students pay off their loans.

Tester has sponsored the Physical Therapist Student Loan Repayment Eligibility Act, which would allow physical therapists to participate in the National Health Service Loan Repayment Program.

After touring St. Patrick Hospital?s physical therapy workout facility, Tester sat down with hospital administrators, a PT professor at the University of Montana and three physical therapy students to discuss the challenges they face in the program.

Student debt and living under the burden of increased costs in post-graduate programs was the main theme of the discussion.

Jon Tester discussion with physical therapy students

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After the group discussion, Tester explained how the bill would help physical therapy students qualify for loan forgiveness by serving in rural areas for a specified time. He also addressed the pending sequester, saying there are several options on the table to keep from hacking at programs with a budgetary chain saw.The sequester amounts to across-the-board budget cuts that will strike in March barring an agreement on deficit reduction.

Senator Jon Tester

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