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Here’s What U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz Has to Say About the Prosecution of Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz's suicide last week was just the beginning. The public outcry from the tech community has been massive, with a petition to remove the prosecuting attorney for Aaron's case, one Carmen Ortiz, from office hitting the required number of signatures for an official White House response relatively quickly. In large part, a majority of these complaints center around the opinion that the prosecution was overzealous at best. Ortiz, for her part, has remained mum on the subject. Until last night, that is. Her office has released an official statement on the matter of Swartz's prosecution and, uh, it's... definitely something.

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Petition to Fire Aaron Swartz’s Prosecutor Hits Required Signatures for White House Response

Aaron Swartz committed suicide on January 11th, and while no one but Swartz will ever truly know why, many have speculated that the legal troubles he was facing were a factor. He was being aggressively prosecuted for unlawfully obtaining information and recklessly damaging a protected computer after he made repeated efforts to steal files from JSTOR. The District Attorney leading the case against him was D.A. Carmen Ortiz, and the We the People petition to have her fired has already hit the required number of signatures needed to receive a White House response.

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Anonymous Hacks MIT Site in Wake of Aaron Swartz’s Suicide [UPDATED]

The hacker group Anonymous defaced pages of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) site just hours after the school announced it would launch a full investigation into their role in Aaron Swartz's death. Swartz committed suicide on Friday while facing millions of dollars in fines and up to 50 years in prison for stealing documents from MIT and academic database JSTOR. In response, Anonymous has publicly called for the reform of computer crime laws and prosecution, and they've been busy the last few days petitioning the White House to classify DDoS attacks as a form of protest while also engaging in this hack of MIT.

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There’s a New Form of Magnetism, New State of Matter Thanks to MIT

We all learned in elementary school that the three states of matter are solid, liquid, and gas. Then if you took science classes in high school you probably learned plasma was a state of matter too. For most people, it stops there, but there are actually a lot more states matter can get itself into, and science just went and found a new one. MIT researchers have discovered a new state of matter, complete with its own unique form of magnetism. We can't wait to see what the Insane Clown Posse has to say about this.

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Large Hadron Collider Creating Never-Before-Seen Kind Of Matter

A contingent of MIT researchers working with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) think they've found something no one has ever seen in the depths of the reams of data provided by the LHC's particle smashups, and no, it's not the Higgs boson, because jeez, you guys, there's more to life than the Higgs boson, you know? By studying collision patterns in heavy metals, researchers think they may be seeing the first signs of a theorized state of matter known as color glass condensate, which could be the result of particles colliding at near-light speed entering a state of quantum entanglement, becoming inexplicably connected to one another.

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Guinea Pig Turned Into Living Battery, The Matrix One Step Closer To Just Being Our Lives

You may think of guinea pigs as just furry little machines designed to process alfalfa into poop, but they are so much more than that! They are furry little poop machines that also make convenient batteries, like potatoes, that have fur and squeal! It's not just them, either -- pretty much any mammal can be turned into a battery, courtesy of our highly conductive inner ears, meaning the plot of The Matrix just got more plausible.

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Asteroids Could Be Deflected Using Paintballs If We Had 20 Years to Spare

The potential for a huge asteroid impact is something that doesn't just concern science fiction these days. Scientists have spent a number of hours pondering exactly how the world might deal with an incoming catastrophe from space. Somehow blowing up any wayward asteroids is a constant suggestion in popular culture, but the reality is that an explosion might just create more debris with which to deal. Sung Wook Paek, an MIT grad student, has suggested that we should instead fire two volleys of paintballs at any asteroid on a collision course.

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A Bit of Algebra Makes Wi-Fi Go Much Faster

You may be reading this while you're slowly updating a Steam game or watching a buffering Netflix show on your PS3 even though you pay for a fairly speedy Internet. Regardless of how far we've come regarding Internet speed, and how our phones can watch television shows while we wait in line at the bank, there's always something left to be desired when it comes to Internet speed. The maximum speed provided by an Ethernet cable is often preferred to the ease, but slower maximum available speed of a wireless signal, but with the addition of a bit of algebra to clear of network clogging, Wi-Fi signals may become much faster without the addition of any new hardware.

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This Mechanical Pencil Draws Nanotubes That Detect Toxic Gases

Carbon nanotubes could be a great way to detect toxic gases in environments from hospitals to mines. So far, though, the detectors have been too expensive and difficult to produce to put into wide practice. That could change thanks to the work of a team at MIT who have developed a new method of deploying the nanotubes, which can be tweaked to detect many different types of gases. By compressing the tubes into a graphite-like substance, the ream has made crafting a nanotube gas detector as easy as drawing a line with a mechanical pencil.

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Meet the Like-A-Hug Vest, Inflates to Give Hug for Every Facebook Like Received

It's unfortunate that social media popularity doesn't always translate to popularity in meatspace. In order to connect these disparate parts, Melissa Chow, Phil Seaton, and Andy Payne from MIT have created the Like-A-Hug vest. Specifically, the vest inflates to simulate a hug whenever someone "Likes" the wearer's photos, videos, or status updates on their connected Facebook account. So not only can you look silly, but everyone can tell just how forever alone you are when it never inflates.

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Maker Faire 2012: Robots and 3D Printers and Fiery Unicorns, Oh My

We spent this Saturday at New York's Maker Faire 2012 gawking at  cool DIY gadgets and gear from labs, garages, and hackerspaces near and far. We'll have a gallery of some of our favorite pictures from the show up soon, but for now, here are our first reactions on this year's Maker Faire.

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iPhone App Instantly Identifies Super PACs Behind Political Ads

It's that time of year again. The time when the airwaves are so saturated with political advertisements that you find yourself wishing democracy would go away and leave us clawing one another's eyes out for the world's last remaining loaf of bread in peace. This year promises to be even worse, with money flooding into political action committees and newly unleashed Super PACs swollen with cash money to buy up the commercial space that should be reminding us about fast food items we might like to purchase. With a new mobile app, Super PAC App, you can at least find out who is responsible for the onslaught of presidential campaign ads you're about to be subjected to -- especially if you're one of the poor lost souls in a swing state whose vote might actually count.

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New Chemical Compound Database Knows All the Reactions

After 10 years of work, Northwestern University researchers have assembled a database of all known organic chemical compounds and the ways that they react together. By gathering data from researchers around the world, the Northwestern team was able to cram the collective wisdom of several centuries worth of chemists into a tool they compare to Google, but for looking at chemical reactions instead of wondering "what other show was that guy in, he looks so familiar?" The database, known as Chematica , should speed up development and testing of chemical compounds for things like food additives and pharmaceuticals.

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Newly Discovered CYCLOPS Gene Points To Vulnerability in Cancer Cells

A long-theorized but only recently discovered class of genes may point to an inherent weakness in tumor cells. Even better news? The soft spot in cancer's defenses is present in cells from a wide variety of cancers, meaning that treatments derived from it could be a tool in fighting cancers across the board, not just targeting one or two types. Researchers from MIT, Harvard and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute report on these so-called CYCLOPS genes (the acronym officially stands for Copy number alterations Yielding Cancer Liabilities Owing to Partial losS, but we suspect the name stuck mostly because it just sounds cool) this week in the journal Cell.

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Graphene Reacts Based on Material Beneath It, Continues to Amaze

Most compositions react to different chemicals due to the nature of their atomic structure and other similar factors. This, apparently, is one of those things that doesn't necessarily apply to graphene. When layered on top of various materials, a one-atom-thick sheet of the stuff can exhibit drastically different properties. This includes both how the graphene reacts chemically with other materials introduced to the sheet and how it conducts electricity.

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Fact or Fiction: MIT Grad Student Saved Apollo 13

In an "ask me anything" thread on Reddit, a 97 year old man who allegedly worked on Apollo 1 through Apollo 14 made a claim that Apollo 13's brilliant "slingshot maneuver" idea was not the work of NASA, but that of a grad student at MIT. NASA then covered the whole thing up when they found out that the student in question was "a real hippy type." If this story is true, it completely rewrites one of the most heroic rescue efforts in United States aerospace history; many redditors, however, are calling "BS." Make the jump for the full scoop as well as our take on the matter.

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Taking Airborne Won’t Help You: The Top Airports for Spreading Disease

You might want to give that trip to Maui a little more thought. Don't start packing until you take a look at a list of U.S. airports ordered by their likeliness to spread infectious disease. Researchers at MIT have taken a variety of factors into account for determining which airports are most likely to be the hubs of global disease spread. Laguardia or JFK may be a more serious decision than you thought.

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Graphene Can Improve Desalination Efficiency by Several Orders of Magnitude, Can Do Pretty Much Anything

Graphene. It can be stronger than steel and thinner than paper. It can generate electricity when struck by light. It can be used in thin, flexible supercapacitors that are up to 20 times more powerful than the ones we use right now and can be made in a DVD burner. It's already got an impressive track record, but does it have any more tricks up its sleeve? Apparently, yes. According to researchers at MIT, graphene could also increase the efficicency of desalination by two or three orders of magnitude. Seriously, what can't this stuff do?

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New Fuel Cell Implant Is Powered By Your Bodily Fluids

Neuroengineers at MIT have developed a new kind of fuel cell that is small enough to be implanted in the human body and can generate electricity from the glucose already present in your cerebrospinal fluid. The power from these cells would allow you to generate enough electricity to power sensors that can decode your brain activity and interface with cool peripheral gadgets and prothetic limbs. A cyberpunk future is surely close at hand.

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MIT Scientists Invent Needleless Injections, Next, Drill-less Fillings

Consider the Following

Needle-phobics rejoice! A team at MIT has developed new technology that can administer injections without the need to pierce the skin with a tiny sharp object. Which left me with only two questions: Does it involve accelerating substances to the speed of sound? Does it involve shooting things into my eyes? The answer to these questions are, joyfully, "yes," and "yes."

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