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News Roundup: Gmail Crashes, Fire Ant Invasions, & Scientists in Space

80beatsBy Andrew MosemanMarch 1, 2011 2:41 AM


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  • Who needs a vomit comet? The Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Colorado reached a deal with Virgin Galactic to send some of its scientists up on SpaceShipTwo's suborbital flights, allowing them to conducts tests in weightlessness.

  • Fire ants may have originated in South America, but their home base for invading the world at large is right here in the United States. So says a new study of more than 2,000 fire ant colonies spread around the globe.

  • Gone in a flash: About 150,000 Gmail users woke up to find their mailboxes wiped clean—messages, folders, and all. Google is racing to recover the lost correspondences. In the meantime, this is a reminder of two things. First, you should back up your email. And second, Google is really, really big. Those 150,000 people represent just .08 percent of Gmail users.

  • Charles Schumer tells people to be safe, and safen up! The United States Senator from New York called for public wi-fi and major websites to use the Internet protocol HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) as the default, rather than the typical but less secure HTTP. Common HTTP, he says, is "a welcome mat for would-be hackers." If the Senator would also push for the speedy adoption of IPv6, that would be nice too.

  • Alan Turing's archive has a home. Though he is more widely known today on this side of the pond for the Turing Test, a classic challenge of artificial intelligence, Turing was a master codebreaker for the British during World War II. When his wartime papers went up for auction, many Brits feared a private collector would purchase them. But, as Indiana Jones would say, "These belong in a museum." So the U.K.'s National Heritage Memorial Fund swooped in at the 11th hour to buy them.

Image: Mark Greenberg

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