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10K-Year-Old Extinct Species Found in Cave

One of Earth’s long-extinct and ancient predators has been found—wholly intact for the first time—in a cave in eastern Russia, the Siberian Times reports. According to the Academy of Sciences of Yakutia, two cave lion cubs were discovered this summer almost totally preserved by permafrost in the Sakha Republic of Siberia. “The find is sensational, no doubt,“ says a source linked to the discovery. The Academy plans to present the lions along with other high-profile, Pleistocene-era finds (like the Kolyma woolly rhinoceros and a woolly mammoth nicknamed Yuka) to the media in November. Scientists involved promise the cubs have no scary infections, like anthrax, but little else is known—including whether high-quality DNA was obtained from them, the Mirror reports.

Closely related to today’s Afro-Asiatic lion, cave lions (Panthera spelaea) apparently roamed from Russia’s far east to the British Isles, as well as northwestern Canada and Alaska. They were big, with a shoulder height of nearly four feet, and stalked horses, reindeer, and maybe young mammoths, IFL Science reports. It’s unclear why they went extinct, but human hunting and climate change may have robbed them of prey. Only individual bones, parts of teeth, and carcass fragments have been found of cave lions until this year. Incredibly, Siberia’s other ancient finds (described well last year by the BBC) were so well-preserved by Mother Nature that the meat may be edible and could “even contain liquid blood,“ says IFL Science.


Mystery Space Junk to Strike Earth on Friday the 13th

An unknown object is falling from the sky—WTF?? Actually, astronomers refer to it as WT1190F and say it’s destined to strike Earth on Friday the 13th next month, CBS San Francisco reports. Bill Gray, an expert at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif., says the unknown piece of space junk will land in the Indian Ocean not far from Sri Lanka.

The object appears to be three to six feet long and has likely been orbiting way beyond the moon for a while now, Nature reports. It may be paneling or a used rocket stage from a recent trip to the moon, or could date back as far as the Apollo flights. Gray predicts it will burn up before landing, but adds that “I would not necessarily want to be going fishing directly underneath it.“


How Russia Could Take Down Our Internet

American officials fear Russia might sever underwater Internet cables during a possible conflict, plunging the West—including its governments, economies, and citizens—into chaos. More than a dozen officials tell the New York Times that concerns over cable-cutting are being voiced at the Pentagon, particularly after Russian submarines and spy ships were spotted near underwater global communications cables in the North Sea, northeast Asia, and off the American East Coast. Last month, for example, a Russian spy ship traveling to Cuba sailed slowly near an East Coast cable that lands near Guantanamo Bay. The ship—which Russia claims is an oceanographic vessel—was carrying deep-sea submersibles capable of cutting cables hidden miles deep at sea.

“I’m worried every day about what the Russians may be doing,“ says a Navy commander. Undersea cables carry more than 95% of daily communications, reports the Times, and “the risk here is that any country could cause damage to the system and do it in a way that is completely covert, without having a warship with ... cable-cutting equipment right in the area,“ says a researcher who’s studied the security of cables. While he says “cables get cut all the time—by anchors that are dragged, by natural disasters,“ these breaks usually occur close to shore and repairs take just a few days. Cuts at harder-to-reach greater depths are much more concerning. Officials say Russians may also be searching for secret cables perhaps used by the US for military operations.


15-Year-Old Boy Arrested in British Telecom Cyberattack

A 15-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with a hack that put the 4 million customers of British telecommunications company TalkTalk at risk, the Guardian reports. British police arrested the teen on suspicion of violating the Computer Misuse Act Monday in Northern Ireland and searched his home, according to the New York Times. On Tuesday, he was released on bail. “We know this has been a worrying time for customers, and we are grateful for the swift response and hard work of the police,“ the Guardian quotes a TalkTalk company statement. It has been the only arrest so far in the cyberattack first reported last week.

TalkTalk says a group of hackers demanded ransom in connection with the cyberattack, though multiple groups are claiming responsibility for it, the Times reports. According to the Guardian, when TalkTalk announced the data breach last Wednesday it feared hackers may have gotten bank and personal information from its phone and Internet customers. But the company now believes the hack was less serious than initially feared, and no credit or debit card numbers were stolen, the BBC reports. In the days since the hack—TalkTalk’s third data breach in the past 10 months—stocks have tumbled and the government has promised an investigation into the company’s cybersecurity, the Times reports.


This Girl Will Solve Your Cybersecurity Problems for $2

What if we told you that for just $2 you could have a near-unbreakable password? What if we told you that password would come courtesy of an 11-year-old girl whose only prior business experience was in lemonade stands? Ars Technica reports New York City sixth-grader Mira Modi launched her own cybersecurity business—Diceware Passwords—this month. Diceware is a password-creation process that’s been around for decades. You roll a six-sided die five times to make a five-digit number, which corresponds to a short English word. Do that six times, and you have a passphrase that it would take something like an entire country’s security agency to crack, according to Diceware Passwords. Do it eight times, and the passphrase is unbreakable with any known technology and should be safe until at least 2050. (The key is the phrase’s entropy, or randomness, explains the Next Web.)

“I started this business because my mom was too lazy to roll dice so many times, so she paid me to roll dice and make passwords for her,“ Modi says on her website. “Then I realized that other people wanted them, too.“ If you order a password from Modi, she’ll roll her dice, handwrite your phrase on a piece of paper, and physically mail you the only copy, Ars Technica reports. On her website, Modi also recommends clients capitalize random letters or add symbols so their final password is “not the exact same one that I gave you.“ She’s sold about 30 so far. Modi says it’s important to have strong passwords as hackers and computers get more sophisticated, even though most people her age are busy sharing the simple passwords to their Instagram accounts with each other. “I don’t think my friends understand,“ Modi tells Ars Technica. “But I think it’s cool.“

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Scientists Find New Way to Probe Pyramids

How do you see what’s inside an Egyptian pyramid without taking it apart or even “drilling the slightest opening?“ With infrared thermography, 3D scans with lasers and drones, and cosmic-ray detectors, scientists said Sunday at a press conference. Forbes translates the latter technology: Scientists will study “how the cosmic rays that continually zap our planet skitter through the stones.“ The scanning—which will take scientists several yards deep into the structures—will start at the Bent Pyramid at Dashour, chosen to be first “due to its distinguished and unique architectural design and because it is the first attempt at pyramid construction that has not been carefully studied,“ Mamdouh Eldamaty, Egypt’s antiquities minister, tells Ahram Online of the roughly 4,600-year-old pyramid

The scanning will then continue at the Red Pyramid and the two grand Giza pyramids of Cheops and Chephren, the AP reports. Cheops, also known as Khufu, is the last of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing, per the Scan Pyramids project site. Thought to be about 480 feet in height originally, History.com notes “it took modern man until the 19th century to build a taller structure” than Khufu. Scientists have used such cosmic-ray techniques before to scan nuclear reactors ruined at Japan’s Fukushima site and to peer inside ancient pyramids in Belize and Mexico. In fact, scientists “looked for the cosmic-ray signature” of chambers tucked away in the Pyramid of Chephren in the 1960s, says Forbes, “but scanning technologies have gone through a quantum leap since then.“ The mission begins in November and should last until late 2016.


Dad Learns That Unborn Twin ‘Fathered’ His Son

Sorry sir, you’re not the father of your newborn child—your unborn brother is. So a 34-year-old man was told in the only known case of a paternity test being tricked by a so-called “human chimera,“ the Independent reports. It began when a US couple learned that their son, born healthy in 2014 with the aid of a fertility clinic, had a different blood type than his parents. Concerned, the husband took an at-home paternity test and learned that his DNA didn’t match the son’s. “You can imagine the parents were pretty upset,“ Stanford University geneticist Barry Starr tells BuzzFeed. “They thought the clinic had used the wrong sperm.“ The clinic assured them there was no mixup, so the couple got a lawyer and approached Starr for help. On Starr’s advice, the father and son took DNA ancestry tests and learned that genetically the dad was his son’s uncle.

In other words, the dad was a “human chimera” who had soaked up the genes of a twin that perished in the womb, then passed them on to the son. Starr saw further evidence of chimerism in the father’s skin (which was two-toned in dark and light strips) and a DNA test of his semen, which identified a slight father-son genetic match of 10%. Human chimerism isn’t new, though: It’s been seen on TV shows like CSI and in real-life cases, like a mom who took a DNA test for a kidney transplant and learned she wasn’t the biological mother of two of her sons, or another woman who got similar news after submitting a DNA sample for welfare payments, the Daily Beast reports. “Human chimerism is very common, but exquisitely difficult to identify, coming to light almost exclusively by accidents like this,“ a biologist says.

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Search Begins for Alien Signals Near Bizarre Star

SETI’s wide-range telescope is powered up and trained on KIC 8462852—the curious star in the North Hemisphere that’s emitting an odd light pattern. The Allen Telescope Array, located a few hundred miles northeast of San Francisco, is actively hunting for alien signals coming from the star’s general area, Space.com reports, based on theories from some astronomers that the star’s dimming events over the past few years could be from structures built by an extraterrestrial civilization.

Not that chances are stellar that an ET find is right around the corner. “History suggests we’re going to find an explanation for this that doesn’t involve Klingons,“ a senior SETI astronomer tells Space.com. Still, as Anders Sandberg frames it in Gizmodo, it’s a mission worth undertaking. “If there is no intelligent life in space it means either that we are very lucky—or that intelligent species die out fast,“ he writes. “But if there is [or was] another technological civilization, it would be immensely reassuring: We would know intelligent life can survive for at least some sizable time.“


Cops: Teens Hack School to Change Grades, Schedules

Three 17-year-old friends are facing years in prison for allegedly hacking into their New York high school’s computer system to change grades and schedules, CBS News reports. Police say Daniel Soares installed a device on a Commack High School computer to swipe passwords and user names from staff last May, according to Newsday. New York Daily News reports Soares allegedly used the stolen information to boost his grades in physics, history, and economics and to change the schedules of 300 or so students. According to Newsday, he also improved the grades of Erick Vaysman. The school discovered the data breach in July. Soares and Vaysman—plus Alex Mosquera—were charged Tuesday following an investigation.

Soares—the alleged “mastermind”—is facing up to 11 years in prison on five felony charges, including burglary and identity theft, CBS reports. Vaysman and Mosquera face up to four years in prison for felony computer tampering and allegedly asking Soares to hack the school’s computer system. All three pleaded not guilty to the charges. Fellow students have some theories about the motivation behind the alleged hack. “He must have been scared about college and wanted good grades,“ one classmate tells the Daily News. “I guess they did it to be cool,” says another. “I feel bad for them. This is going to hurt their future.”

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Scientists Figure Out Origin of Man’s Best Friend

Your best pal may have come a long way to curl up at your feet: A new DNA study of more than 5,000 dogs from 38 countries finds they probably originated in Central Asia, or Mongolia and Nepal more specifically, at least 15,000 years ago, reports the BBC. Cornell researchers drew blood from 4,676 purebred dogs—making up 161 breeds typically created in the last 200 years—and 549 street dogs with older lineages to study chromosomes inherited from the male and female line, reports New Scientist. The data showed genetic diversity is highest in Central Asia, then in surrounding areas like Afghanistan, Egypt, India, and Vietnam, reports Popular Science. That suggests the most recent common ancestor of “all the dogs alive today” came from that region, says lead author Adam Boyko. “It mirrors what we see in humans and how they spread out of East Africa.“

It’s possible some dogs were domesticated elsewhere but diversified in Central Asia. But “we found no evidence” of multiple domestication events, Boyko says. “It looks like there’s a single origin,“ though there appears to have been “a little bit of gene flow between wolves and dogs post-domestication.“ Boyko’s team suspects higher human population density, better hunting techniques, and climate change pushed gray wolves toward scavenging, which led to domestication. But as similar studies suggest dogs originated in the Middle East, East Asia, and Europe, some scientists are treating the results with caution. One tells the New York Times that only a study of ancient and modern DNA could provide definitive results. Among difficulties researchers faced: “We showed up in Puerto Rico at a fishing village and the dogs turned up their noses at roast beef sandwiches,“ says Boyko. “They were used to eating fish entrails.“


Apple Fans Hunt for Steve Jobs’ Unmarked Grave

Atlantis. The Fountain of Youth. A decent Fantastic 4 movie. Dreamers and adventurers have been searching for the unfindable throughout history. Now we can add another hidden treasure to the list: Steve Jobs’ grave. The San Jose Mercury News reports Apple fans from around the world—China, Indonesia, Brazil, Paris, Russia, and more—have been visiting Silicon Valley’s Alta Mesa Memorial Park to pay respects to the company’s founder, who died four years ago. There’s only one problem: Jobs’ grave is one of many that are unmarked in the 72-acre cemetery. “We had people wandering a lot around the cemetery with the claim they are going to find him,“ cemetery general manager Marilyn Talbot tells the Mercury News. “Good luck.“

The Mercury News reports Jobs’ family requested an unmarked grave. And biographer Walter Isaacson says they had Jobs buried in an area where no future plots were planned near an apricot orchard. A reporter from an Italian blog claimed to have found Jobs’ grave, but it turns out he actually left a half-eaten apple on the eternal resting place of a grandmother who died around the same time. While the cemetery won’t reveal the location of Jobs’ grave, they have left out a book in the lobby where visitors can leave a message for him. They’ve nearly filled two volumes.


Google Has Audio Files of Everything You’ve Asked It

“It’s all there—my dumb voice asking dumb questions that I thought were lost into the ephemerality of Google’s search servers,“ Mike Murphy writes on Quartz. Murphy recently learned that not only does Google store records of all your text searches, it also keeps audio recordings of all your queries. And you can listen to them. The Guardian reports Google’s new history page gives a list of everything users have ever said to Ok Google, the company’s voice control system for Android phones. It’s part of Google’s attempt to be less cagey about what personal data it’s storing. For example, the same page also tells users where Google has tracked their locations.

But rather than being reassuring, this transparency can actually have the opposite effect. “It’s good to be able to see what the company keeps,“ Alex Hern writes in the Guardian. “But it’s also a stark reminder of just how much it has in the first place.“ Murphy calls it “unnerving.“ Quartz reports it’s unclear why Google is holding on to the audio recordings of customers’ voices. According to the Guardian, the stored audio may help improve the voice control feature generally and its recognition of users’ voices personally. Should users find the existence of an audio catalog of all their conversations with Google off-putting, Quartz has instructions on how to delete the files.


Friends Track iPhone to Find Missing College Student

A couple of tenacious women armed with the Find My iPhone app tracked down their severely injured friend Sunday, two days after he disappeared following a sorority party at Georgia Tech, WSB Atlanta reports. According to ABC News, it was extremely fortunate 24-year-old Jimmy Hubert accidentally left the party with his date’s phone in his pocket. His friends Emma Jeffery and Alexandra Vanderlinde used the app installed by his date to track Hubert to a desolate stretch along some train tracks, WSB reports. That’s where they found him face down in a ditch and barely conscious. “[Hubert’s rescue] is all credited to our students not giving up on their friend,” ABC quotes Georgia Tech’s chief of police during a press conference Monday.

ABC reports Hubert was found with broken ribs and vertebrae, a punctured lung, and cerebral hemorrhaging. According to WSB, authorities don’t suspect foul play, but his friends claim Hubert told them he was beaten by a group of homeless men after he left the party. NBC News reports they also admit he said he was hit by a train, but they think he was confused when he said that. According to WSB, Hubert’s mother posted on Facebook that he was mugged. NBC reports Hubert was missing his shoes, wallet, and both phones when he was found. Police have yet to be able to interview Hubert because of the extent of his injuries.


Consumer Reports Yanks Tesla Recommendation

The ultra hip Tesla Model S tests great, but it seems it might not hold up in the long run, according to a new report published Tuesday by Consumer Reports. The publication gave the electric vehicle its best performance rating ever—a seemingly mathematically impossible 103 out of 100—in August. Two months later, and Consumer Reports can’t even recommend the Model S because of a “worse-than-average overall problem rate.“ “We’re seeing all types of issues,“ Consumer Reports‘ director of auto testing tells CNBC. “Some are annoying issues like squeaks in the hatch or rattles and squeaks in the sunroof, but we’re also seeing major issues in terms of the charging systems. We’re even seeing people who have to have the entire electric motor replaced.“

Consumer Reports heard from approximately 1,400 Model S owners for its annual car-reliability survey, and they reported an “array of detailed and complicated maladies,“ reports the Washington Post. Most of the problems—which also involved the drivetrain and touchscreen center console—were fixed for free under warranty. And customers reported still being happy overall with the $100,000-and-change vehicle. But despite Consumer Reports standing by its review of the Model S being the best-performing car ever tested, Tesla stocks quickly dropped nearly 7% in the wake of Tuesday’s report. According to CNBC, Lexus was at the opposite end of Tesla as this year’s most reliable brand.


‘Spooky’ Asteroid Will Be Very Close on Halloween

In what sounds like the setup to a sci-fi horror movie, an asteroid deemed “extremely eccentric” by NASA and “strikingly spooky” by Discovery will be very close to Earth on Halloween. NASA says the asteroid, 2015 TB145, is up to 1,542 feet in diameter and will be moving “unusually fast” when it comes within 310,000 miles of our planet, which is around 1.3 times the distance to the moon, the Christian Science Monitor reports. It will be at its closest just before sunrise in North America on October 31, NASA says, but the waning moon will make it hard to see with small telescopes.

“The flyby presents a truly outstanding scientific opportunity to study the physical properties of this object,“ NASA says. The last time an asteroid this size came this close to Earth was 2006, NASA says, and there isn’t another one expected until 2027—but since this one wasn’t detected until October 10 this year, there could be more surprises in store. NASA says the asteroid will zip by safely, and the strangeness of its orbit may explain why it was spotted so late, Gizmodo reports.

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