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UPI NewsTrack Science and Technology News

June 11, 2012 at 7:00 PM   |   Comments

Flame, Stuxnet viruses show 'cooperation'

MOSCOW, June 11 (UPI) -- Teams creating the Stuxnet and Flame viruses worked together and both programs may have been the work of the U.S. government, Russian security researchers say.

Experts at Kaspersky Lab, a Russian company that first identified the Flame virus, said source code was shared between the teams making the malware attacks.

Both Flame, discovered last month, and Stuxnet, revealed in 2010, attacked targets in Iran.

"What we have found is very strong evidence that Stuxnet/Duqu and Flame cyber-weapons are connected," said Alexander Gostev, chief security expert at Kaspersky. "The new findings that reveal how the teams shared source code of at least one module in the early stages of development prove that the groups co-operated at least once."

An investigation by The New York Times has pointed to the United States as being responsible for Stuxnet, developed in cooperation with Israel to cause disruption in Iranian nuclear facilities.

No definitive evidence has been presented that the United States was behind Flame, The Hill reported.

No country has as yet publicly taken responsibility for either malware attack.


Record-breaking solar flare described

GREENBELT, Md., June 11 (UPI) -- A NASA space telescope detected the highest-energy light ever measured in an eruption on the sun during a powerful solar blast, the space agency has reported.

The powerful solar flare, observed March 7 by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, produced such an outpouring of gamma rays -- a form of light with even greater energy than X-rays -- that the sun briefly became the brightest object in the gamma-ray sky, NASA said Monday.

"For most of Fermi's four years in orbit, its LAT saw the sun as a faint, steady gamma-ray source thanks to the impacts of high-speed particles called cosmic rays," Nicola Omodei, an astrophysicist at Stanford University, said. "Now we're beginning to see what the sun itself can do."

The March flare produced high-energy gamma rays for about 20 hours, two and a half times longer than any event on record, researchers said.

Solar eruptions are increasing as the sun moves toward the peak of its roughly 11-year-long activity cycle, expected in mid-2013, they said.


Low-lactose calf genetically bred in China

HOHHOT, China, June 11 (UPI) -- Chinese scientists say they've bred the world's first genetically-modified calf that will produce low-lactose milk when it matures in two years.

Named "Lakes," the calf was born April 24 at Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Monday.

Researcher Zhang Li and a research team extracted fetal fibroblasts from a Holstein cow that was 45 days pregnant and genetically engineered the fetus by transplanting a lactose dissolution enzyme into the cell.

The engineered fetus was then transplanted into the womb of a cow in July 2011.

"The enzyme can dissolve lactose -- the main sugar found in dairy products -- into galactose or glucose to ease digestive disorders among the lactose-intolerant people," Zhang said.

Lakes should produce safer milk for such people, who account for nearly 60 percent of the Chinese population, researchers said.

Symptoms of the lactose intolerance include rashes, diarrhea and digestive disorders.

"Lakes, the calf, is a blessing for these people," Zhang said. "She will produce low-lactose milk after she is 25 months old and has delivered calves."


Apple shows new iOS 6 feature set

SAN FRANCISCO, June 11 (UPI) -- Apple has announced the latest version of its iOS mobile operating system, with version 6 of the software having 200 new features for the iPhone and iPad.

Personalization options -- such as allowing users to turn on a do-not-disturb mode, respond to phone calls with a set message and set VIP status for individuals whose e-mails would come through as alerts -- were among the features revealed at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, CNET.com reported Monday.

Also included is an updated version of the Siri voice assistant program.

In the new operating system a user's Apple ID and phone number will be consolidated, allowing calls and messages to be accessed on either the iPhone or iPad, Apple said.

An app called Passbook will be able to store boarding passes, store gift cards and movie tickets, the company said.

Expected to be available to consumers in the fall, iOS 6 will work with iPhones back to 3GS models and with second and third generation iPads.

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