The American Physical Society (APS) and the American Institute of Physics (AIP) announced today, on behalf of the Heineman Foundation for Research, Educational, Charitable, and Scientific Purposes, that theoretical physicist Pierre Ramond, director of the Institute for Fundamental Theory at the University of Florida, has won the 2015 Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics -- one of the highest honors for scientific investigators in that field.
In recognizing Ramond, the two organizations cited his "pioneering foundational discoveries in supersymmetry and superstring theory, in particular the dual model of fermions and the theory of the Kalb-Ramond field".
"Since the days of ancient Democritus, philosophers and scientists who pondered what makes up the fundamental building blocks of matter have thought about point-like particles -- first atoms then subatomic particles like electrons or quarks", said H. Frederick Dylla, executive director and CEO of AIP. "But by initiating superstring theory in the early 1970s, Pierre Ramond generalized to all particles the notion that the basic building blocks are not point particles at all, but tiny string-like objects that vibrate to form the particles."
The prize consists of a certificate and a $10,000 award, which will be presented at a special ceremony during the April 2015 APS meeting in Baltimore, Md.
Adobe has tweaked its Digital Editions 4 desktop ebook reader to now encrypt the data it secretly sends back to headquarters – data that details a user's reading habits.
Previously, information on every single tome accessed by Digital Editions 4 was phoned home unencrypted, allowing anyone eavesdropping on a network to intercept it. Now that information is transmitted via HTTPS, and only if the book includes copy-protection measures.
Version 4.0 of the software collected detailed records about books the user has been reading, such as which pages were read and when, and sent this intelligence back to the adelogs.adobe.com server. There was no way to opt out of this, short of deleting the application.
Now, with version 4.0.1, that information is encrypted and sent to the aforementioned server, and is limited to books with DRM protections. We note that the server's SSL/TLS configuration scores an A- from Qualys; the server's certificate has a 2048-bit RSA key albeit with a SHA-1 signature, and it prefers RC4 over stronger ciphers.
A Silicon Valley company is paying more than $43,000 in back wages and penalties after labor regulators found eight employees brought from India were grossly underpaid and overworked while assigned to a special project in the U.S.
The probe announced this week by the U.S Department of Labor uncovered several egregious violations at Electronics for Imaging Inc., a printing technology specialist that generated revenue of $728 million last year, when the misconduct occurred.
Among other things, Electronics for Imaging paid the eight workers far below California's required minimum wage—$8 per hour at the time—while they helped the company move its headquarters from Foster City, California, to Fremont, California, during a three-month period, according to the Labor Department.
While assigned to the project, some of the Indian workers logged as many as 122 hours in a week without being paid overtime. As result, they received as little as $1.21 per hour.
The BBC and Phys.org report on a new paper by researchers from University of Florida and University of Zurich, concerning the megalodon (an extinct species of shark that could grow to four times the size of a modern great white). This latest research claims to peg the date of megalodon's extinction at 2.6 million years ago. It also suggests that the extinction of the largest sea predator at the time made it possible for whales to grow to their current size.
Our results suggest that C. megalodon went extinct around 2.6 Ma. Furthermore, when contrasting our results with known ecological and macroevolutionary trends in marine mammals, it became evident that the modern composition and function of modern gigantic filter-feeding whales was established after the extinction of C. megalodon. Consequently, the study of the time of extinction of C. megalodon provides the basis to improve our understanding of the responses of marine species to the removal of apex predators, presenting a deep-time perspective for the conservation of modern ecosystems.
A mathematical approach called Optimal Linear Estimation (OLE) was used by the researchers on 42 of the most recent megalodon fossils.
Justice Department lawyers have asked a federal court in Pittsburgh to dismiss a sweeping lawsuit brought earlier this year by a local lawyer against President Barack Obama and other top intelligence officials.
In a new motion to dismiss filed on Monday, the government told the court that the Pittsburgh lawyer, Elliott Schuchardt, lacked standing to make a claim that his rights under the Fourth Amendment have been violated as a result of multiple ongoing surveillance programs.
Specifically, Schuchardt argued in his June 2014 complaint that both metadata and content of his Gmail, Facebook, and Dropbox accounts were compromised under the PRISM program as revealed in the documents leaked by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden.
There's no linked story but I thought this is worth sharing.
I was looking for some specific proof about locally compact spaces. And to my very surprise I found Pr∞fwiki. It's a site full of wonderful mathematical proofs. It's crystal clear, or at least aims to be so. Much clearer to read than wikipedia, which in my opinion tends to be full of various things except ones that can be directly verified, just by reading it and checking the proof. By looking at history I see that it's operating since roughly 2009. And it needs our help, of course. When I find some proof I will definitely add it there! Will you?
Sunnyskyz website has a fascinating article on hydrogen sulfide gas' therapeutic benefits. While this is dated from July this year, I don't think it has made an appearance here yet.
"Although hydrogen sulfide gas"—produced when bacteria breaks down food—"is well known as a pungent, foul-smelling gas in rotten eggs and flatulence, it is naturally produced in the body and could in fact be a healthcare hero with significant implications for future therapies for a variety of diseases," Dr. Mark Wood said in a university release.
Although the stinky gas can be noxious in large doses, scientists believe that a whiff here and there has the power to reduce risks of cancer, strokes, heart attacks, arthritis, and dementia by preserving mitochondria.
Further information is available on the University of Exeter's website, lending credence to this being more than just a hoax article - despite the amusing title.
The Conversation has launched a US version of the site.
The Conversation has more than 60 staff based in the US, Australia and the UK and we have collaborated with more than 14,000 scholars and researchers globally.
If you’d like to know how we differ to other websites, please read our message at the top of the homepage. In short, unlike other sites, all our content is authored by credentialed subject matter specialists from the university and research world and curated by professional editors. We are non-profit, and work with the global scholarly and research community.
Because we are committed to the free flow of information, we have no pay wall. In addition all content is published under Creative Commons so it’s free for anyone to republish. More than 12,000 sites worldwide have republished our articles.
They also list 10 ways in which we are different, detailing what makes them stand out from other information services.
Abby Phillip reports at the Washington Post that that Mark Zuckerberg just posted a 30-minute Q&A at Tsinghua University in Beijing in which he answered every question exclusively in Chinese - a notoriously difficult language to learn and particularly, to speak. "It isn't just Zuckerberg's linguistic acrobatics that make this a notable moment," writes Philip. "This small gesture — although some would argue that it is a huge moment — is perhaps his strongest foray into the battle for hearts and minds in China." Zuckerberg and Facebook have been aggressively courting Chinese users for years and the potential financial upside for the business. Although Beijing has mostly banned Facebook, the company signed a contract for its first ever office in China earlier this year. A Westerner speaking Mandarin in China — at any level — tends to elicit joy from average Chinese, who seem to appreciate the effort and respect they feel learning Mandarin demonstrates. So how well did Zuckerberg actually do? One Mandarin speaker rates Zuckerberg's language skills at the level of a seven year old: "It's hard not see a patronizing note in the Chinese audience's reaction to Zuckerberg's Mandarin. To borrow from Samuel Johnson's quip, he was like a dog walking on its hind legs: It wasn't done well, but it was a surprise to see it done at all."
The first privately funded lunar mission launched today. The mission involves sending a 31-pound spacecraft called 4M, fitted with an antenna, small computer, and radiation sensor, on a Chinese rocket to Earth's satellite. Funded by private company LuxSpace, the craft will fly by the moon transmitting a signal back to Earth that can be picked up by amateur radio enthusiasts. The project is hitchhiking on a Chinese rocket transporting China's latest lunar spacecraft, which is also scheduled to fly by the moon -- another step in their moon exploration program.
4M began broadcasting exactly 77.8 minutes after it's launch at 1:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time. LuxSpace is hosting a contest to see who can recieve the most messages from the private payload before the mission ends (You can compete either as an individual or as a team.). The messages sent from the payload will be sequences of tones broadcast at different frequencies. Even if you don't want to participate in the contest, you can track the mission's progress online.
Jake Swearingen writes at The Atlantic that the Internet can be a mean, hateful, and frightening place - especially for young women but human behavior and the limits placed on it by both law and society can change. In a Pew Research Center survey of 2,849 Internet users, one out of every four women between 18 years old and 24 years old reports having been stalked or sexually harassed online. "Like banner ads and spam bots, online harassment is still routinely treated as part of the landscape of being online," writes Swearingen adding that "we are in the early days of online harassment being taken as a serious problem, and not simply a quirk of online life." Law professor Danielle Citron draws a parallel between how sexual harassment was treated in the workplace decades ago and our current standard. "Think about in the 1960s and 1970s, what we said to women in the workplace," says Citron. "'This is just flirting.' That a sexually hostile environment was just a perk for men to enjoy, it's just what the environment is like. If you don't like it, leave and get a new job." It took years of activism, court cases, and Title VII protection to change that. "Here we are today, and sexual harassment in the workplace is not normal," said Citron. "Our norms and how we understand it are different now."
According to Swearingen, the likely solution to internet trolls will be a combination of things. The expansion of laws like the one currently on the books in California, which expands what constitutes online harassment, could help put the pressure on harassers. The upcoming Supreme Court case, Elonis v. The United States, looks to test the limits of free speech versus threatening comments on Facebook. "Can a combination of legal action, market pressure, and societal taboo work together to curb harassment?" asks Swearingen. "Too many people do too much online for things to stay the way they are."
The Center for American Progress reports:
Change.org, a website that allows users to create petitions, announced on Monday that it will be changing its family leave policy, increasing the paid time an employee can take for the arrival of a new child from six weeks to 18. Parents of both genders, as well as those who have a child through childbirth or adoption, will be eligible for the leave.
The company claims that it is the most generous paid family leave policy in the tech world, and that may be true. While as of last year Google offered 22 weeks [ NYT Paywall ] paid leave for biological mothers, fathers and parents who adopt only get seven. Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit offer both parents 17 paid weeks. Yahoo! offers mothers who give birth, adopt, use a surrogate, or foster 16 paid weeks, while fathers get eight.
Common Dreams reports:
In a letter to [US officials], Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John F. Sopko writes: "Despite spending over $7 billion to combat opium poppy cultivation and to develop the Afghan government's counternarcotics capacity, opium poppy cultivation levels in Afghanistan hit an all-time high in 2013."
"As of June 30, 2014, the United States has spent approximately $7.6 billion on counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan," the letter states.
"Despite the significant financial expenditure, opium poppy cultivation has far exceeded previous records," he writes, adding that this "calls into question the long-term effectiveness and sustainability of those prior efforts."
[...] A Defense Department response to the SIGAR findings, which is included in the report, states, in part: "In our opinion, the failure to reduce poppy cultivation and increase eradication is due to the lack of Afghan government support for the effort." The Department also states that the rise in poppy cultivation "is a significant threat to U.S. and international efforts in Afghanistan."
But U.S. poppy eradication and interdiction efforts have been described as spectacular failures. As the Drug Policy Alliance has noted, drug eradication efforts have not brought decreases in violence:
Just as alcohol prohibition allowed organized crime to flourish in the 1920s, drug prohibition empowers a dangerous underground market that breeds violent crime throughout the United States and the world. The illegality of drugs has inflated the price, and thus the profit, of drugs substantially. With it, the competition for drug markets has intensified, often through violence. Whether on street corners in U.S. cities, across the border in Mexico, or in the poppy fields of Afghanistan, drug trade-related violence continues, despite the billions of drug war dollars devoted annually to law enforcement and interdiction efforts.
 Want a laugh? Look at the source code for that page and see how many times they repeat **This is the main content area**.
Spotted over at Hackernews is a link to an eevblog posting on FTDI drivers recognising and disabling "fake" devices.
Future Technology Devices International, commonly known by its abbreviation FTDI, is a Scottish privately held semiconductor device company, specializing in Universal Serial Bus technology.
The FTDI FT232 is a widely used USB to serial converter component; there are, however, some cases of compatible "clone" devices being used in products rather than the official FTDI chips.
It appears that the latest official FTDI driver now recognises these devices and when it encounters them it reprograms the product ID so that the device is no longer recognised, and will not work. (These devices can, however, be reprogrammed and recovered using Windows/XP or Linux.) FTDI have stated that the user has allowed them to do this as part of the driver license agreement.
The Linux driver is still safe, but the binary blob from Windows update is now something that we should all blacklist and uninstall, for our own safety. I've already bricked one of my FTDI boards. Will FTDI reimburse me for the purchase and time it will now take to undo all this damage? I doubt it. Did they think this fully through before launching a hostile attack on their end-users? I doubt that, too.
More comments on the original hackernews thread.
The Center for American Progress reports:
If free donuts, gym memberships, or flex pay programs aren't your preferred employee benefit, cheap solar systems could soon be an option. On Wednesday, three major companies -- Cisco Systems, 3M, and Kimberly-Clark -- announced they will now give employees a deeply discounted way of buying or leasing solar panels for their homes.
Called the Solar Community Initiative, the program promises a flat rate that is on average 35 percent lower than the national average and roughly 50 percent less expensive than average electric utility rates. According to the announcement, the offer will start as a benefit to more than 100,000 employees. If one percent choose to power their homes with solar, more than 74,500 metric tons of carbon emissions would be avoided each year.
Offered through Geostellar, a cost comparison site for solar panels, the program will also include options for employees' friends and families in the United States and parts of Canada. The initiative was conceived and facilitated by the World Wildlife Fund.