SciTech Briefs

Halo 2 source code leaked on Internet

Code for the eagerly anticipated Xbox game Halo 2 has been posted to a number of websites and newsgroups, three weeks ahead of its official November 9 release date. Anyone with a DVD burner, a modded Xbox, and the game?s code could play immediately. In a statement, Xbox maker Microsoft said, ?We consider downloading this code or making it available for others to download as theft.? The website of Halo 2 developer Bungie Studios announced that the leak was probably not the work of outside hackers, but instead that of ?some jerk in the manufacturing plant.? Microsoft also said that it does not anticipate any changes to the regular launch as a result of the leak.

Source: Newsday

NASA probe crash due to switch error

NASA?s Genesis capsule, which crashed in the Utah desert last month after its parachutes failed to open, probably had broken switches in its parachute system, according to the capsule?s mission review board. The board?s chairman cautioned that the parachute failure may not have been the only problem with the capsule.
The parachutes were supposed to open when sensors picked up braking caused by the Earth?s atmosphere, and a specially designed helicopter was to pluck the capsule out of the sky to prevent damage to samples of the solar wind the spacecraft had collected over three years. The plates on which samples were collected were shattered into over 3000 pieces after the capsule, which had no brakes, slammed into the ground at almost 200 mph. According to NASA, some parts of the samples were preserved well enough to be used in studies.

Source: CNN

Male fish making eggs in Potomac

Scientists doing routine research on fish in the Potomac River last summer noticed a strange new trend: male fish producing eggs. Researchers are unsure of the cause of the phenomenon, but suspect high levels of female hormones present in chicken manure that was dumped into the river may be to blame. No similar human health problems have been reported in the area, but scientists are worried because things that cause problems in people can show up earlier in fish.
Forty-two percent of male smallmouth bass caught over that summer were ?intersex,? the term for egg-producing males. Of 66 male smallmouth bass caught in a follow-up study in the spring, 79 percent were intersex. Fish near Colorado sewage plants have found to have similar symptoms after being exposed to hormones and chemicals such as caffeine, which fish bodies treat like hormones.

Source: The Washington Post

Intel kills 4 GHz production plans

Computer chip maker Intel has scrapped plans to produce a 4 GHz model of its popular Pentium 4 processor, following the industry trend of devaluing clock speed as the sole measure of a processor?s worth. Intel will now focus on other ways to improve performance, such as running two processors in parallel. Intel has been at the forefront of processor technology since it released its 5 MHz 8088 processor in 1979. Its fastest chip on the market now runs at 3.6 GHz.

Source: BBC

Compiled by
Kevin Chang