Sci/Tech briefs

New worm plagues computers

A new worm has infected nearly 9 million personal computers around the world in what experts claim to be the worst infection since 2003. Computer security experts believe that the worm is the first step of a multistage attack and as yet have no idea who programmed the worm.

The worm, named Conficker or Downadup, has spread because of a newly discovered weakness in Microsoft’s Windows operating system. It spreads through portable devices like USB flashdrives and by figuring out network passwords. This worm is capable of causing infected computers to form botnets, which are systems that can be controlled by a remote user. The worm could, thus, cause infected computers to send spam, infect other computers, or enable the remote controller to get a hold of the user’s personal information.

Source: The New York Times

Antarctica faces global warming

Recent research shows that Antarctica has been steadily warming over the last 50 years at almost the same rate as the rest of the world. This finding contradicts previous belief that although the rest of the world was getting warmer, Antarctica was actually getting cooler. The eastern part of Antarctica is getting cooler, but the western part is getting warmer. Since the warming is greater than the cooling, the net effect is that Antarctica has become warmer over the past few years.
The study, published in the journal Nature, reported that the warming in West Antarctica was more than 0.1° Celsius over the past 50 years.

Source: ScienceDaily

Japan sends satellite into space

On Friday, Japan launched a satellite for monitoring greenhouse gas emissions. Seven smaller satellites were also launched along with the bigger one.

The H-2A rocket that was used for the launch was carrying the largest number of satellites ever used for a Japanese mission.
The large satellite will help scientists record carbon dioxide and methane densities from 56,000 locations on the earth. Through this launch, Japan seeks to contribute to the global effort of coping with climate change.

Source: Reuters

Forests deplete due to global warming

A new study claims that forests in the Pacific Northwest are diminishing twice as fast as they were 17 years ago. Scientists believe global warming to be the cause of this increased death rate of forests. Data for the study was collected over a period of 50 years from forests in Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and British Columbia. Of all the sites, California was found to have the largest tree death rate.

The study was conducted in forests that were up to 500 years old and increased death rates were found for trees of all ages. After ruling out a number of other possible causes for forest depletion, scientists narrowed down to global warming as the cause for the death of trees.