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Hacking and computer security. Read today's research news on hacking and protecting against codebreakers. New software, secure data sharing, and more.
Updated: 5 hours 57 min ago

How widespread is tax evasion? Cost of 'round-tripping,' a method investors use to avoid the tax collector

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 18:19
Tax evasion is widely assumed to be an eternal problem for governments -- but how widespread is it? For the first time, a new study has put a cost on a particular kind of tax evasion, known as "round-tripping," that the U.S. government has been trying to thwart.

Gigabit wireless communications: Research could have significant implications for future of mobile devices

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 17:15
The millimeter-wave band (58-63GHz) is seen as a perfect candidate for short-range gigabit wireless communications. These networks are envisaged to satisfy the demands of future data-rate hungry applications but few studies have analysed the potential of frequency reuse at 60GHz.

Thermoelectric generator on glass fabric for wearable electronic devices

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 17:14
Wearable computers or devices have been hailed as the next generation of mobile electronic gadgets, from smart watches to smart glasses to smart pacemakers. For electronics to be worn by a user, they must be light, flexible, and equipped with a power source, which could be a portable, long-lasting battery or no battery at all but a generator. How to supply power in a stable and reliable manner is one of the most critical issues to commercialize wearable devices. Scientists have now proposed a solution to this problem by developing a glass fabric-based thermoelectric (TE) generator that is extremely light and flexible and produces electricity from the heat of the human body.

Researchers bolster development of programmable quantum computers

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 17:12
Scientists have performed a proof-of-concept experiment that will aid the future development of programmable quantum computers. In a new study, the researchers describe an experiment that was performed on a crystal containing trillions, rather than hundreds, of quantum mechanical spins, which replicates some of the features of the current generation of much smaller, specialized computers.

Virus structure inspires novel understanding of onion-like carbon nanoparticles

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 16:22
Symmetry is ubiquitous in the natural world. It occurs in gemstones and snowflakes and even in biology, an area typically associated with complexity and diversity. There are striking examples: the shapes of virus particles, such as those causing the common cold, are highly symmetrical and look like tiny footballs.

Should you trust your financial advisor? Pseudo-mathematics and financial charlatanism

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 14:30
Your financial advisor calls you up to suggest a new investment scheme. Drawing on 20 years of data, he has set his computer to work on this question: If you had invested according to this scheme in the past, which portfolio would have been the best? His computer assembled thousands of such simulated portfolios and calculated for each one an industry-standard measure of return on risk. Out of this gargantuan calculation, your advisor has chosen the optimal portfolio. After briefly reminding you of the oft-repeated slogan that "past performance is not an indicator of future results," the advisor enthusiastically recommends the portfolio, noting that it is based on sound mathematical methods. Should you invest?

Increased time on Facebook could lead women to negative body images

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 12:35
The mediated version of what women should look like has always been under scrutiny, particularly looking at actresses and fashion models. But what about body image from social networks and friends? A recent study found that more time on Facebook could lead to more negative feelings and more comparisons to the bodies of friends.

Magnetization can surf on the top of a laser-induced sound wave

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 12:34
An effective coupling between magnetism and light can be mediated by sound. This newly discovered phenomenon could be important for recording data on a magnetic device with the help of light.

Neurofinance study confirms that financial decisions are made on an emotional basis

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 12:33
The willingness of decision makers to take risks increases when they play games of chance with money won earlier.  Risk taking also rises when they have the opportunity to compensate for earlier losses by breaking even.

Dangerous ways computer worms are spreading among smartphones

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 00:45
Scientists have recently discovered that some of the most common activities among smartphone users -- scanning 2-D barcodes, finding free Wi-Fi access points, sending SMS messages, listening to MP3 music and watching MP4 videos -- can leave devices vulnerable to harmful 'computer worms.'

Scalable, universal quantum computer? Quantum information processed with system comprising optical photon and trapped atom

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 19:57
When it comes to recognizing complex patterns or to decoding encrypted messages, conventional computers reach their limits. A whole new quality in the communication and processing of data is expected from a technology that exploits the special properties of quantum particles such as superposition and entanglement. Scientists are pursuing a variety of different concepts towards the development of such a quantum computer. One professor follows the strategy of combining two rather dissimilar techniques: quantum communication using photons, and information processing using stationary atoms. His team has now for the first time realized a quantum logic gate between a single photon and a single atom.

New 'switch' could power quantum computing: Light lattice traps atoms, builds networks of quantum information transmitters

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 17:47
Using a laser to place individual rubidium atoms near the surface of a lattice of light, scientists have developed a new method for connecting particles -- one that could help in the development of powerful quantum computing systems. The new technique allows researchers to couple a lone atom of rubidium, a metal, with a single photon, or light particle.

See what a child will look like using automated age-progression software

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 17:46
Researchers have developed software that automatically generates images of a young child's face as it ages through a lifetime. The technique is the first fully automated approach for aging babies to adults that works with variable lighting, expressions and poses.

Hedge funds generally make financial markets work more smoothly, expert argues

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 13:40
Financial markets generally work better thanks to so called “hedge” funds. “Although hedge funds are not well understood by the general public, they provide many important services to the wider economy,” said an expert.

Technical tests of biodiversity: When physicists play with genetics of populations

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 13:39
The effect of migration on biodiversity (intended as the coexistence of different genetic traits) is an open question: does migration increase or decrease the genetic variability of populations? Or is the relationship more complex than that? A team of physicists has developed and analyzed a model that simulates the effect of migration on the genetic biodiversity of populations, and discovered that the effect is all but trivial.

Novel ultra-fast electrical circuits use light-generated tunneling currents

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 13:36
Scientists have successfully designed and fabricated electrical circuits that can operate at hundreds of terahertz frequencies, which is tens of thousands times faster than today’s state-of-the-art microprocessors.

'RoboClam' hits new depths as robotic digger

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 01:35
A digging robot inspired by the unique mechanisms employed by the Atlantic razor clam has been created by a group of researchers in the US. The robot, dubbed RoboClam, is able to dig with extreme efficiency by transforming the surrounding soil from a solid into a liquid, and could have a variety of applications from anchoring underwater robots to subsea cable installation and mine neutralization.

Google Glass puts the focus on Parkinson's

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 01:33
The next generation of wearable computing is being trialled for the first time to evaluate its potential to support people with Parkinson’s. Glass is a wearable computer being developed by Google. Likened to the kind of technology fictionalized in the Hollywood Blockbuster Minority Report, at first glance Glass appears to be no more than a pair of designer glasses. But the system works like a hands-free smartphone, displaying information on the lens of the Glass. The technology is voice-operated and linked to the internet.

Consumer, be aware: Quality of health-related internet searches varies

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 19:42
If you’re like most people, you’ve gone online to find out what’s causing that ringing in your ears or whether a gluten-free diet is worth considering. Be careful. Researchers have found that, as with so much on the Internet, the quality of the information you dig up may depend on what you ask for and the results could be hazardous to your health.

Is the U.S. power grid too big?

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 16:19
Researchers are asking whether there is a "right" size for the U.S. power grid; they believe that smaller grids would reduce the likelihood of severe outages, such as the 2003 Northeast blackout, likening the grid behavior to sandpiles: “Sandpiles are stable until you get to a certain height. Then you add one more grain and the whole thing starts to avalanche.”