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UPI NewsTrack Science and Technology News

July 12, 2012 at 7:29 PM   |   Comments

Yahoo! confirms exposure of passwords

SAN FRANCISCO, July 12 (UPI) -- Yahoo says it has been the victim of a security breach in which hundreds of thousands of login credentials were posted in plain text to a hacker site.

More than 453,000 login credentials apparently originating from the Yahoo Voices platform were posted to the hacker site D33D, with the hackers saying they intended the data dump to be a "wake-up call," CNET.com reported Thursday.

"We hope that the parties responsible for managing the security of this subdomain will take this as a wake-up call, and not as a threat," the hackers said in a comment posted along with the hacked date.

"There have been many security holes exploited in Web servers belonging to Yahoo! Inc. that have caused far greater damage than our disclosure. Please do not take them lightly."

Yahoo has confirmed it is investigating the breach.

"We are currently investigating the claims of a compromise of Yahoo! user IDs," it said in a statement.

The breach is the latest in a string of password thefts, with sites such as LinkedIn, eHarmony and Last.fm having been victims of hacking that exposed confidential user information.


System can warn of dangerous solar storms

NEWARK, Del., July 12 (UPI) -- Solar radiation that could kill astronauts in space can be forecast nearly 3 hours in advance, giving them time to take protective action, researchers say.

The radiation comes from massive explosions on the sun that send streams of charged particles toward Earth.

"Traveling nearly at the speed of light, it takes just 10 minutes for the first particles ejected from a solar storm to reach Earth," University of Delaware researcher John Bieber said.

Bieber, along with colleagues from Chungnam National University in South Korea, said data collected by two neutron monitors installed years ago at the South Pole by the University of Delaware can determine the intensity of the high-energy, fast-moving particles that arrive to Earth first from solar storms.

By examining the properties of the first-arriving particles, scientists can make useful predictions about the slower-moving, yet more dangerous particles to follow, Beiber said.

"These slower-moving particles are more dangerous because there are so many more of them. That's where the danger lies," Bieber said.

The system can provide a warning time up to 166 minutes about the arrival of the more dangerous particles, which would give astronauts time to seek out an armored area in their spacecraft, Bieber said.

Most astronauts have flown in low Earth orbit in recent years, but if we go back to the moon or decide to send humans to Mars, Beiber said, the danger from radiation is significant.

In fact, he said, he thinks some of the Apollo astronauts were just lucky.

"Somehow they got these moon launches between big solar flares that would have killed them right then and there."


Study: Eye movement no clue to truth/lies

HARTFIELD, England, July 12 (UPI) -- A commonly held belief that eye movement can indicate if a person is lying or telling the truth is unfounded and should be abandoned, British researchers say.

Proponents of so-called Neuro-Linguistic Programming have claimed when a person looks up to the right he or she is probably lying while a glance up to the left shows one is telling the truth.

Researchers at two British universities say tests have shown the idea has no basis in fact and are urging the public and organizations to abandon this approach to lie detection.

Scientists at the University of Hertfordshire and the University of Edinburgh filmed volunteers as they either lied or told the truth, carefully recording their eye movements.

In a second study another group of participants was asked to watch the videos and attempt to detect the lies on the basis of eye movements.

"The results of the first study revealed no relationship between lying and eye movements, and the second showed that telling people about the claims made by NLP practitioners did not improve their lie detection skills," Hertfordshire researcher Richard Wiseman said.

"A large percentage of the public believes that certain eye movements are a sign of lying, and this idea is even taught in organizational training courses," Edinburgh researcher Caroline Wyatt said. "Our research provides no support for the idea and so suggests that it is time to abandon this approach to detecting deceit."


Oval eggs suggest dinosaur/bird link

BARCELONA, Spain, July 12 (UPI) -- The discovery of dinosaur eggs with a unique shape -- they are oval -- suggests a link between dinosaurs and modern birds, Spanish researchers say.

Unlike most non-avian dinosaur eggs, which are symmetrical, the oval shape of some non-avian theropod eggs from the upper Cretaceous period discovered in Spain suggests birds and the theropods could have a common ancestor.

The oval form is rarely seen in eggs from the period and is similar to that of modern day eggs, researchers from Complutense University of Madrid and the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona said.

The oval shape of bird eggs is associated with their physiology -- they take on this shape given the existence of only one oviduct, which can form only one egg at a time.

The region in the oviduct creating the eggshell membrane is what gives the egg its asymmetrical oval shape.

The wider end contains a bag of air that allows the bird to breathe in the last stages of its development, an evolutionary step relatively underdeveloped in most dinosaurs, researchers said.

The egg discovered by the Spanish researchers may therefore represent a missing link between dinosaurs and birds, a release from the Barcelona university said Thursday.

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