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Massive news in the micro-world: a hexaquark particle

'Didn't you hear, I come in six-packs?'*


A German research synchrotron is trumpeting its find of a new exotic particle with six quarks – the largest quark number ever observed.

The "dibaryon" (two baryons) is described in a paper in Physical Review Letters (abstract here, pre-print version here at Arxiv).

If you're like this Vulture South hack, the paper reads as a very dry means of announcing a momentous discovery. For example: “The obtained Αγ angular distributions deviate systematically from the current SAID SP07 NN partial-wave solution. Incorporating the new Ay data into the SAID analysis produces a pole in the 3D33G3 waves in support of the d resonance hypothesis.”

But it's the “3D33G3 waves” that matter here (we think), since it indicates the number of quarks the experiment observed.

The Jülich Research Centre press release notes that this is a confirmation experiment of results first observed in 2011. The previous experiment, however, wasn't able to be replicated by other researchers, so the operators of the COSY accelerator created a new experiment that others can reproduce.

Different states of quark matter. Image: Jülich Research Centre

“The measurements that we performed at COSY in 2011 were already very precise. But because the experiments could not be repeated at any other accelerator worldwide, we had to come up with another experiment to verify the results,” explains Professor Hans Ströher, director at the Nuclear Physics Institute (IKP-2) in Jülich.

The most familiar quark state in the universe is the baryonic state: three quarks bound to make up protons (which last forever), neutrons (which need the warm embrace of an atom to last longer than 15 minutes), and other baryons that decay in 10-10 seconds. Mesons, comprising a quark and an antiquark, also have a short life (10-8) seconds.

Theorists had predicted higher quark states for decades: Freeman Dyson is attributed as the first to suggest so, in 1964 – and the “tetraquark” that comprises two quarks and two antiquarks has been inferred from observations since 2003.

The new Jülich research doesn't observe the hexaquark directly: rather, the experiment watches for the decay products of the short-lived particle.

In this experiment, referred to as “elastic scattering”, the researchers bombarded a proton with deuterons. “The exotic bound state formed during the collision influenced the angle with which the particles moved away from each other after the collision, thus allowing it to be identified,” the research centre release states.

“The findings are part of a bigger picture. If this particle exists, then theoretically a whole range of other exotic states can be expected,” says Jülich’s IKP-1 director professor James Ritman.

El Reg notes that this piece of exotic particle physics didn't need the might and power of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN: COSY is a 184-metre synchrotron operating in the “medium” power range. ®

*Bootnote: As in "No, just a Zaphod Beeblebrox, didn't you hear I come in six packs?" ®

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It's the flu season – FluBot, that is: Surge of info-stealing Android malware detected

And a bunch of bank-account-raiding trojans also identified

FluBot, a family of Android malware, is circulating again via SMS messaging, according to authorities in Finland.

The Nordic country's National Cyber Security Center (NCSC-FI) lately warned that scam messages written in Finnish are being sent in the hope that recipients will click the included link to a website that requests permission to install an application that's malicious.

"The messages are written in Finnish," the NCSC-FI explained. "They are written without Scandinavian letters (å, ä and ö) and include, for example, the characters +, /, &, % and @ in illogical places in the text to make it more difficult for telecommunications operators to filter the messages. The theme of the text may be that the recipient has received a voicemail message or a message from their mobile operator."

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AsmREPL: Wing your way through x86-64 assembly language

Assemblers unite

Ruby developer and internet japester Aaron Patterson has published a REPL for 64-bit x86 assembly language, enabling interactive coding in the lowest-level language of all.

REPL stands for "read-evaluate-print loop", and REPLs were first seen in Lisp development environments such as Lisp Machines. They allow incremental development: programmers can write code on the fly, entering expressions or blocks of code, having them evaluated – executed – immediately, and the results printed out. This was viable because of the way Lisp blurred the lines between interpreted and compiled languages; these days, they're a standard feature of most scripting languages.

Patterson has previously offered ground-breaking developer productivity enhancements such as an analogue terminal bell and performance-enhancing firmware for the Stack Overflow keyboard. This only has Ctrl, C, and V keys for extra-easy copy-pasting, but Patterson's firmware removes the tedious need to hold control.

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Microsoft adds Buy Now, Pay Later financing option to Edge – and everyone hates it

There's always Use Another Browser

As the festive season approaches, Microsoft has decided to add "Buy Now, Pay Later" financing options to its Edge browser in the US.

The feature turned up in recent weeks, first in beta and canary before it was made available "by default" to all users of Microsoft Edge version 96.

The Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) option pops up at the browser level (rather than on checkout at an ecommerce site) and permits users to split any purchase between $35 and $1,000 made via Edge into four instalments spread over six weeks.

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Visiting a booby-trapped webpage could give attackers code execution privileges on HP network printers

Patches available for 150 affected products

Tricking users into visiting a malicious webpage could allow malicious people to compromise 150 models of HP multi-function printers, according to F-Secure researchers.

The Finland-headquartered infosec firm said it had found "exploitable" flaws in the HP printers that allowed attackers to "seize control of vulnerable devices, steal information, and further infiltrate networks in pursuit of other objectives such as stealing or changing other data" – and, inevitably, "spreading ransomware."

"In all likelihood, a lot of companies are using these vulnerable devices," said F-Secure researchers Alexander Bolshev and Timo Hirvonen.

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Leaked footage shows British F-35B falling off HMS Queen Elizabeth and pilot's death-defying ejection

Parachute snagged on ship's bows

Video Video footage has emerged of a British F-35B fighter jet falling off the front of aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth after a botched takeoff.

The leaked clip, seemingly from a CCTV camera on the carrier's bridge, shows the Lockheed Martin-made stealth aircraft slowly trundling down the deck before tipping over the ski-jump ramp on her bows.

As the £100m RAF jet nosed over, the pilot ejected – only for his parachute to snag on the carrier's bows as he descended back towards the ship.

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Lloyd's of London suggests insurers should not cover 'retaliatory cyber operations' between nation states

And they might attribute cyber attacks if governments won't

Lloyd’s of London may no longer extend insurance cover to companies affected by acts of war, and new clauses drafted for providers of so-called "cyber" insurance are raising the spectre of organisations caught in tit-for-tat nation state-backed attacks being left high and dry.

The insurer's "Cyber War and Cyber Operation Exclusion Clauses", published late last week, include an alarming line suggesting policies should not cover "retaliatory cyber operations between any specified states" or cyber attacks that have "a major detrimental impact on… the functioning of a state."

"The insurer shall have the burden of proving that this exclusion applies," warn the exclusion policies published by the Lloyd's Market Association.

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UK competition regulator to Meta's Facebook: Sell Giphy, we will not approve the purchase

CMA finds that deal would be bad for consumers and tighten Zuck's grip on almost half of £7bn digital ad spend

The UK competition watchdog has ordered Meta, the owner of Facebook, to sell Giphy after deciding purchase of the animated GIF creator platform will damage rivals, consumers and advertisers.

Today's directive is effectively the same as that handed down in August, when the Competition Markets Authority voiced concerns that could only be resolved if Facebook was to offload the $400m acquisition it made in May 2020.

The panel that ran their finger over the merger concluded the buy would only tighten Facebook's already vice-like grip on the social media landscape by:

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You, me and debris: NASA cans ISS spacewalk because it's getting too risky outside

Broken antenna will have to wait as warning comes in less than 24 hours before airlock opening

NASA has delayed a spacewalk scheduled today from the International Space Station amid concerns about debris.

The spacewalk by NASA astronauts Thomas Marshburn and Kayla Barron was due to have started today with a switch to spacesuit battery power at 12:10 UTC followed by an exit from the outpost's Quest airlock.

The planned 6.5-hour spacewalk was to have Marshburn positioned at the end of the Canadarm2 robotic arm and swung out over the structure by ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer at the controls within the orbiting lab. Barron was to assist with the replacement of an antenna on the P1 truss.

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Can Rust save the planet? Why, and why not

The snag: This programming language is safe and efficient, but hard to learn, impacting productivity

Re:Invent Here at a depleted AWS Re:invent in Las Vegas, Rust Foundation chairwoman Shane Miller and Tokio project lead Carl Lerche made the case for using Rust to minimize environmental impact, though said its steep learning curve made the task challenging.

Miller is also a senior engineering manager for AWS, and Lerche a principal engineer at the cloud giant.

How can Rust save the planet? The answer is that more efficient code requires fewer resources to run, which means lower energy usage in data centers and also in the environmental impact of manufacturing computing equipment and shipping it around the world.

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The climate is turning against owning our own compute hardware. Cloud is good for you and your customers

From the data centre to the desktop, here is the green solution

Register Debate Welcome to the latest Register Debate in which writers discuss technology topics, and you the reader choose the winning argument. The format is simple: we propose a motion, the arguments for the motion will run this Monday and Wednesday, and the arguments against on Tuesday and Thursday. During the week you can cast your vote on which side you support using the poll embedded below, choosing whether you're in favour or against the motion. The final score will be announced on Friday, revealing whether the for or against argument was most popular.

This week's motion is: Renting hardware on a subscription basis is bad for customers.

Call it leasing, equipment rental, or hardware as a service, the idea of NOT owning your computing devices has been around for years. However, many individuals and corporations have been distinctly ambivalent about the idea, feeling that the benefits tend to flow to the suppliers, and most of all, the financers.

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You loved running JavaScript in your web browser. Now, get ready for Python scripting

All thanks to CPython, WebAssembly, and some clever developers (And yes, there's Pyodide, too)

Python, one of the world's most popular programming languages, may soon become even more ubiquitous as it finds a home within web browsers.

Ethan Smith, a Berkeley-based software developer, recently revealed a project that allows CPython, the default implementation of the Python programming language, to run within web browsers via WebAssembly, or WASM.

WASM is a binary format that provides near-native performance within web browsers. It's a compilation target for languages like C/C++, C# and Rust. It's commonly used to create performance-sensitive code that JavaScript isn't well-suited to handle; wedding Python to WASM though its Emscripten compiler is more about ease of use and distribution than performance, at least at this point.

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