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Don’t believe the hype: We may never know the identity of Jack the Ripper

Ars Technica - March 19, 2019 - 8:22pm

Enlarge / Fictional Victorian physician John Stephenson (David Warner) is Jack the Ripper in the 1979 film Time After Time. A new scientific paper claiming to have identified the real Ripper might as well be speculative fiction, say geneticists. (credit: YouTube/Warner Bros.)

A new DNA analysis of stains on a silk shawl that may have belonged to one of Jack the Ripper's victims concluded that the killer was a Polish barber named Aaron Kosminski, according to a paper published last week in the Journal of Forensic Sciences. But other scientists are already calling into question the paper's bombshell conclusions—and they're not exactly mincing words.

Finally putting to rest the identity of one of history's most notorious killers would indeed be very big news, especially for true-crime buffs who have followed the Ripper saga for years (so-called "Ripperologists"). The problem is, we've been here many times before. This is just the latest claim to have "proof" of Jack the Ripper's true identity, and while it has all the trappings of solid science, the analysis doesn't hold up under closer scrutiny. Several geneticists have already spoken out on Twitter and to Science magazine to point out, as Kristina Killgrove writes at Forbes, that "the research is neither new nor scientifically accurate."

On August 31, 1888, police discovered the body of Mary Ann Nichols in Bucks Row in London's Whitechapel district. Her throat had been cut and her abdomen ripped open. Over the next few months, a serial killer who came to be known as Jack the Ripper would use the same method to kill four women: Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. And then, as abruptly as they began, the murders stopped. (These are the "canonical five." Other murders sometimes attributed to the Ripper are inconclusive.)

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Musk defense “borders on the ridiculous,” SEC tells court

Ars Technica - March 19, 2019 - 8:10pm

Enlarge (credit: VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

The Securities and Exchange Commission heaped scorn on Elon Musk and his legal arguments in a Monday legal filing. The agency is asking New York federal Judge Alison Nathan to hold Musk in contempt for tweeting a projection of 2019 vehicle output without first getting the tweet approved by Tesla's lawyers.

Musk has been battling the SEC since last August, when he tweeted that he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private. That turned out to be untrue, and it's illegal to publish inaccurate information that has the potential to move markets. Under the terms of a September deal, Musk paid a $20 million fine and gave up his role as the chairman of Tesla's board (Tesla paid an additional $20 million).

Musk also promised to have Tesla lawyers review future tweets that could contain information that is "material"—that is, significant enough to affect the price of Tesla's stock.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Dealmaster: Grab another year of PlayStation Plus for $45

Ars Technica - March 19, 2019 - 7:50pm

Enlarge (credit: TechBargains)

Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Today's list is headlined by a deal on Sony's PlayStation Plus, as digital codes for a 12-month membership are currently going for $45 at Amazon, GameStop, and other retailers. That's $15 off the subscription's standard going rate.

The value here is pretty straightforward: PlayStation Plus is required to play multiplayer games online with a PlayStation 4. It still gets you access to a couple free games each month, 100GB of cloud storage for game saves, and various discounts in Sony's PlayStation Store, too.

This deal isn't the absolute best we've seen—these 12-month codes were going for $40 around Black Friday last year, and every now and then we'll see some promo code bring it down as well. But this is the cheapest it's been at major retailers since the holidays, so if you need to top-up soon—or if you just want to tack on another year of service in advance and don't want to wait a few months—this might be a good time to take advantage.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

All aboard the driverless bus in Greater Manchester

BBC Technology News - March 19, 2019 - 7:32pm
Developers hope driverless technology could be used in public transport within five years.

Hayabusa2 finds that its destination is also a very dark rubble pile

Ars Technica - March 19, 2019 - 7:28pm

Enlarge / A sense of the phenomenal resolution at which we can explore the asteroid Ryugu. (credit: JAXA)

Asteroids can tell critical stories about the birth of our Solar System and the processes that produced its planets. In some cases, they are time capsules for the planetesimals that went on to form our planets. In others, they've been through multiple rounds of catastrophic collisions and reformation, providing testimony of the violent processes that built our current Solar System. But figuring out what they tell us has been difficult, because their small size and generally large distance from Earth make them difficult to study using telescopes. And the bits and pieces we have been able to study directly have been altered by the process of plunging from space through the Earth's atmosphere.

All that's on the verge of changing in the near future, as we have not one but two missions that will return samples from asteroids over the next couple of years. In the case of JAXA's Hayabusa2 mission, the first sample retrieval has already taken place, while NASA's OSIRIS-REx arrived at its destination more recently. But since arriving, both probes have been studying the mini-worlds they were sent to, and the first results of those studies are now in.

Today, Nature and Science are releasing a large collection of papers that describe the initial observations of the two asteroids that these missions have targeted. The bodies have turned out to be remarkably similar, as you can see by visiting our Bennu coverage and then comparing it with what we now know about Ryugu, described below.

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Google reveals gaming platform Stadia

BBC Technology News - March 19, 2019 - 6:33pm
The new digital platform will stream games over the internet at console-like quality, the company said.

At Bennu, NASA finds a mysterious, boulder-strewn asteroid

Ars Technica - March 19, 2019 - 6:30pm

Enlarge / These images of the asteroid Bennu’s northern hemisphere show it covered with rocks. (credit: NASA)

After traveling more than 2 billion kilometers through outer space over the course of 27 months, NASA's OSIRIS-REx spacecraft arrived at the asteroid Bennu in early December of last year. Since arriving, the spacecraft's five scientific instruments have been surveying the 490-meter wide asteroid to better understand its properties and find a safe landing site from which to gather samples for a return to Earth.

On Tuesday, the first results of these scientific inquiries were published in seven papers that appeared in Nature and a handful of its research journals. The seven papers are collated on this website.

In some respects, Bennu is about what scientists expected—a "rubble pile" of stony meteorites that have aggregated under the influence of microgravity. Scientists were able to determine that the density of the asteroid is about 1,190kg per cubic meter. By way of comparison, a potato has a density of about 700kg per cubic meter, and dry gravel about 1,500kg per cubic meter.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

These are the top ten security vulnerabilities most exploited by hackers

ZDnet Blogs - March 19, 2019 - 6:18pm
But one simple thing could help stop the vast majority of these attacks, say researchers.
Categories: Opinion

The SEC calls for new contempt sanctions for Elon Musk

BBC Technology News - March 19, 2019 - 6:15pm
US financial regulator has called for sanctions after Mr Musk tweeted without seeking Tesla's approval.

Google jumps into gaming with Google Stadia streaming service, coming “in 2019”

Ars Technica - March 19, 2019 - 6:13pm

Enlarge / The Google Stadia controller, which includes a few custom buttons. The service will also support wired USB controllers and mouse-and-keyboard controls. (credit: Google)

SAN FRANCISCO—At the Game Developers Conference, Google announced its biggest play yet in the gaming space: a streaming game service named Google Stadia, designed to run on everything from PCs and Android phones to Google's own Chromecast devices.

As of press time, the service's release window is simply "2019." No pricing information was announced at the event.

Google Stadia will run a selection of existing PC games on Google's centralized servers, taking in controller inputs and sending back video and audio using Google's network of low-latency data centers. The company revealed a new Google-produced controller, along with a game-streaming interface that revolves around a "play now" button. Press this on any Web browser and gameplay will begin "in as quick as five seconds... with no download, no patch, no update, and no install."

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Boeing 737 Max: Software patches can only do so much

ZDnet Blogs - March 19, 2019 - 5:49pm
Systems architects, engineers, and management can all learn from the history of the development of this complex aircraft.
Categories: Opinion

Tracking tools found on EU government and health websites

BBC Technology News - March 19, 2019 - 5:34pm
The trackers, used to monitor user behaviour online, were found on thousands of official web pages.

Facebook: No one reported NZ shooting video during 17-minute livestream

Ars Technica - March 19, 2019 - 4:57pm

Enlarge / CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND—MARCH 19: People look on as men pray in a park near Al Noor mosque after a terrorist attack that killed 50 people. (credit: Getty Images | Carl Court)

Facebook says a livestream of last week's New Zealand mass shooting was viewed fewer than 200 times during its live broadcast and that nobody reported the video to Facebook while the livestream was ongoing.

"The first user report on the original video came in 29 minutes after the video started, and 12 minutes after the live broadcast ended," Facebook VP and Deputy General Counsel Chris Sonderby wrote in an update posted yesterday.

Ultimately, the original Facebook Live video of the terrorist attack "was viewed about 4,000 times in total before being removed from Facebook," the company said. Video of the attack was uploaded many times after the original was removed, and a few hundred thousand videos were viewable on Facebook before being taken down.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments


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