A team led by Virginia Commonwealth University professor Jennifer Fettweis have characterized a previously uncatalogued bacterial STD which is strongly associated with another STD, Trichomoniasis.
From the paper's abstract:
Here, we characterize an uncultivated vaginal mycoplasma tightly associated with trichomoniasis that was previously known by its 16S rRNA sequence as “Mnola.” In this study, the mycoplasma was found almost exclusively in women infected with the sexually transmitted pathogen Trichomonas vaginalis, but rarely observed in women with no diagnosed disease.
The newly characterized bacterium's (proposed name “Candidatus Mycoplasma girerdii”) relationship to Trichomoniasis is unclear, but is found to be quite prolific in those infected with it.
According to a press release from CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, data from experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will be made openly available.
The first high-level and analysable collision data openly released come from the CMS experiment and were originally collected in 2010 during the first LHC run. This data set is now publicly available on the CERN Open Data Portal. Open source software to read and analyse the data is also available, together with the corresponding documentation. The CMS collaboration is committed to releasing its data three years after collection, after they have been thoroughly studied by the collaboration.
The Open Data Portal itself includes a wealth of information including tools, documentation on the formats and primary and processed data sets. CERN also provide a (virtualbox)Virtual Machine with the processing tools included ready to go.
Also covered at HackerNews, and an earlier discussion.
The Debian project has suffered from a long string of negative events recently, ranging from severe discontent over the inclusion of systemd, to talk of forking the project, to a grave bug affecting the important 'wine' package, to the resignation and reduced involvement of long time contributors.
The latest strife affecting Debian revolves around a request for a Debian package of the GPC-Slots 2 software. This request has been rejected with little more than an ad hominem attack against the software's author.
In response to the request, Stephen Gran wrote,
This is code by someone who routinely trolls Debian. I doubt we want any more poisonous upstreams in Debian, so I at least would prefer this never get packaged.
Jonathan Wiltshire proceeded to mark the request as 'wontfix', and closed it.
While Debian does strive to maintain high standards regarding the software it packages, the negative and personal nature of this rejection, without any apparent technical or licensing concerns, appears to conflict with Debian's own Code of Conduct. Such a personal attack could be seen as contradictory to the Code of Conduct's mandate that Debian participants "Be respectful", "Be collaborative", and most importantly, "Assume good faith".
Given its recent troubles as of late, many of them concerning the poor treatment of Debian developers and users alike, can Debian really afford to get embroiled in yet another negative incident?
Scientific American reports that simply breathing on money could soon reveal if it's the real deal or counterfeit thanks to a photonic crystal ink developed by Ling Bai and Zhongze Gu and colleagues at Southeast University in Nanjing, China that can produce unique color changing patterns on surfaces with an inkjet printer system which would be extremely hard for fraudsters to reproduce. The ink mimics the way Tmesisternus isabellae – a species of longhorn beetle – reversibly switches its color from gold to red according to the humidity in its environment. The color shift is caused by the adsorption of water vapor in their hardened front wings, which alters the thickness and average refractive index of their multi-layered scales.
To emulate this, the team made their photonic crystal ink using mesoporous silica nanoparticles, which have a large surface area and strong vapor adsorption capabilities that can be precisely controlled. The complicated and reversible multi-color shifts of mesoporous CPC patterns are favorable for immediate recognition by naked eyes but hard to copy. "We think the ink's multiple security features may be useful for anti-fraud applications," says Bai, "however we think the technology could be more useful for fabricating multiple functional sensor arrays, which we are now working towards."
Two stories about Google graced The Register in recent days.
The First was about Google (allegedly) stripping SSL from British Telephone (BT) mobile users search requests, even when the users had started from https pages, and were using BT WiFi subscribers piggy-backing off wireless connections, (I have no idea what exactly is meant by piggy-backing in this context). Personally, I would suspect BT of having a hand in that.
The open secret here is that for some VIP customers, search requests coming from their networks have SSL stripped as a service. This was mostly developed for schools where Google supplies their mail , web, and search services. Some of these places are statutorily obligated to filter their networks. BT may have been setting this bit themselves, but is difficult to tell.
A google engineer Adam Langly posted in a public forum that you can bypass any institutional ssl stripping by always accessing Google Searches via a different URL:
"However, if you want an encrypted search option, 'https://encrypted.google.com' is always encrypted and isn't affected by these methods."
You might want to set that as your Google landing page on mobile devices if you use wifi on some business or school campuses.
The second story concerns a trial balloon that Google is floating in a few markets called "Contributor" where, for a small(ish) fee, Google will strip ads out of pages, and share that fee with the web site in lieu of advertising revenue. The monthly fee, ranging between $1 and $3 per site, will be paid to the site operator after Google takes its cut.
El Reg speculates:
Perhaps Google and websites heavily reliant on ads are tired of netizens using ad-blocking browser plugins. Perhaps Google just wants to prove that the vast majority of people are OK with ads, and few want to spend even $1 a month on a web subscription.
So the question is, Soylentils: Are there any sites you would be willing to pay a dollar a month to visit without ads?
Nature has a report that the Gates Foundation has announced a broad open access policy with regards to funded research:
from January 2015, researchers it funds must make open their resulting papers and underlying data-sets immediately upon publication — and must make that research available for commercial re-use. “We believe that published research resulting from our funding should be promptly and broadly disseminated,” the foundation states.
There is some concern that the "commercial use" availability clause may prevent publication in many journals, such as both Nature and Science
Nature, for example, states that openly archived manuscripts may not be re-used for commercial purposes. So do the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Elsevier and Wiley and many other publishers (in relation to their non-OA journals)
The nature article references an earlier report that suggested that even researchers who support open-access may want to restrict commercial re-use.
The International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology, an open-access journal some accuse of being predatory due to its lack of actual editorial judgment of any kind, has recently accepted for publication a paper entitled Get me off Your F****** Mailing List [pdf]. (warning: NSFW language, in case it wasn't obvious)
This raises an interesting point about open-access journals: How does one police the quality of the work when some are faking the editorial process entirely?
Inbox is a new email app based on Gmail, which appears to be mostly aimed at mobile users — with separate versions "optimized" for web, Android, and iOS. This blog post gives an overview of their development tools for the three platforms:
For iOS we developed the now open source J2ObjC cross compiler to translate our Java data model to Objective-C, and again we get a natural API on which to build our native iOS Inbox app (complete with [Reminder snooze]). The astute reader may wonder how we deal with the impedance mismatch when translating from a garbage collected language (Java) to a reference counted one (Objective-C). Generally, J2ObjC relies on Objective-C autorelease pools, so objects normally garbage-collected are instead freed when a pool drains. ...
As an old guy, I don't really like their usage of "impedance mismatch", but maybe the analogy is okay? See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impedance_mismatch
A recent study by the University of Zurich shows that bankers are substantially more dishonest than other professionals (abstract is in German). Interestingly, this is tied closely to their profession. As private individuals, they are just as honest (or dishonest) as anyone else. However, as soon as they are reminded of their profession, their dishonesty soars. The study draws the conclusion that the context and standards of the profession are the problem.
Of course, anyone who has been paying attention has long suspected this to be true. It is interesting that it has now been demonstrated in an objective study, and that a University was bold enough to do this in a country known for its banking industry. Perhaps this will help sow the seeds of much-needed reform?
Jerry Hirsch writes in the LA Times that personal transportation is on the cusp of its greatest transformation since the advent of the internal combustion engine. For a century, cars have been symbols of freedom and status but according to Hirsch, passengers of the future may well view vehicles as just another form of public transportation, to be purchased by the trip or in a subscription. Buying sexy, fast cars for garages could evolve into buying seat-miles in appliance-like pods, piloted by robots, parked in public stalls. "There will come a time when driving the car is like riding the horse," says futurist Peter Schwartz. "Some people will still like to do it, but most of us won't." People still will want to own vehicles for various needs, says James Lentz, chief executive of Toyota's North American operations. They might live in a rural area and travel long distances daily. They might have a big family to haul around. They might own a business that requires transporting supplies. "You will still have people who have the passion for driving the cars and feeling the road," says Lentz. "There may be times when they want the cars to drive them, but they won't be buying autonomous-only cars."
One vision of the future is already playing out in Grenoble, France, where residents can rent from a fleet of 70 pod-like Toyota i-Road and Coms electric cars for short city trips. "It is a sharing program like what you see in Portland [Oregon] with bicycles," says Lentz. Drivers can check out and return the cars at various charging points. Through a subscription, they pay the equivalent of $3.75 for 30 minutes. Because the vehicles are so small, it's easy to build out their parking and charging infrastructure. Skeptics should consider the cynicism that greeted the horseless carriage more than a century ago, says Adam Jonas who adds that fully autonomous vehicles will be here far sooner than the market thinks (PDF). Then, Jonas says, skeptics asked: "Why would any rational person want to replace the assuredness of that hot horse body trustily pulling your comfortable carriage with an unreliable, oil-spurting heap of gears, belts and chains?"
C++ expert Scott Meyers announced that his new book: "Effective Modern C++" has been released. Or maybe that should be post-modern?
In my opinion, the original two Effective C++ books changed the style of programming books for the better. We went from "This is the language" to "You know the language but this is the best way we know to use it".
What's interesting about this particular book, apart from the fact that the best way to use C++ has changed yet again, is that C++ is actually arguably now a bit simpler than it was. Yes it has lambdas and more features but a lot of the real pain points — like template boil plate and being careful to avoid creating copies of objects — have been improved with move semantics and the auto keyword. It's still a beast of a language but it feels that this time it is a bit more manageable and the book seems to reflect that.
American companies are supplying technology that the governments of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are using to spy on their citizens’ communications and clamp down on dissent, according to a new report ( https://www.privacyinternational.org/sites/privacyinternational.org/files/downloads/press-releases/privateinterests.pdf ) [PDF] from the UK-based advocacy group Privacy International.
Verint Systems, a manufacturer of surveillance systems headquartered in Melville, N.Y., has sold software and hardware to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan that is capable of mass interception of telephone, mobile, and Internet networks, the group alleged in its Nov. 20 report. It also provided the training and technical support needed to run them, the report said.
Verint, which claims customers in 180 nations, in turn sought decryption technology made by a firm in California, Netronome, as it helped the Uzbek government attempt to crack the encryption used by Gmail, Facebook, and other popular sites, according to the report.
Over at Hackernews is a link to a WindPower Engineering article from September on Electricity stored as a temperature difference.
This is basically a write up of the Isentropic energy storage system which uses a gravel storage medium and argon gas as a thermal transfer medium:
James Macnaghten and Mark Wagner, co-founded Isentropic, Ltd., a company that is currently developing a new storage technology called pumped-heat electricity storage (PHES), which stores electricity as heat and cold. PHES, Isentropic claims, is cheaper than pumped hydro, is deployable anywhere in the world, and is comparable—and in some cases superior—to pumped hydro with a round-trip storage efficiency of 72 to 80%.
An independent study by Parsons Brinckerhoff reports that PHES costs 30% less than pumped hydropower with a per hour storage cost of $103/kWh. Currently the technology is scaled to support up to a 2,000-home town. For this scale, the building housing the system is estimated to be 20 to 40m tall.
Note: as highlighted in the HN threads the storage cost quoted above appears to be capital cost of building the store, not the operating cost.
The Isentropic homepage has an informative Youtube video describing the PHES process, and an Isentropic process is formally defined as one where "the entropy of the system remains constant throughout".
Original HackerNews link. Although relatively old this is an interesting storage technology I haven't seen covered previously on SN.
I am the maintainer of the Epoch Init System, a single threaded Linux init system with non-intrusiveness in mind, and I'm preparing to release 2.0. It's mostly a code cleanup release, but while I'm at it, I thought I'd ask the Soylent community what features they'd like to see. I'm open to all good ideas, but I'm wary of feature creep, so as a result, I won't consider the following:
* multithreaded/parallel services, because that goes against design goals of simplicity and harms customizability
* mounting support or networking support; it's an init system, use busybox if you need a mount command.
So what do soylentils want to see in the next release of the Epoch Init System?
Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are studying a mysterious ecosystem at one of the world's deepest undersea hydrothermal vents to get clues about what life could be like on other planetary bodies, such as Jupiter's icy moon Europa, which has a subsurface ocean. At the vents tiny shrimp are piled on top of each other, layer upon layer, crawling on rock chimneys that spew hot water. "You go along the ocean bottom and there's nothing, effectively," says Max Coleman. "And then suddenly we get these hydrothermal vents and a massive ecosystem. It's just literally teeming with life." Bacteria, inside the shrimps' mouths and in specially evolved gill covers, produce organic matter that feed the crustaceans. The particular bacteria in the vents are able to survive in extreme environments because of chemosynthesis, a process that works in the absence of sunlight and involves organisms getting energy from chemical reactions. In this case, the bacteria use hydrogen sulfide, a chemical abundant at the vents, to make organic matter. The temperatures at the vents can climb up to a scorching 842 degrees Fahrenheit (450 degrees Celsius), but waters just an inch away are cool enough to support the shrimp. The shrimp are blind, but have thermal receptors in the backs of their heads.
According to the exobiologists, these mysterious shrimps and its symbiotic bacterium may hold clues "about what life could be like on other planetary bodies." It's life that may be similar—at the basic level—to what could be lurking in the oceans of Europa, deep under the icy crust of the Jupiter moon. According to Emma Versteegh "whether an animal like this could exist on Europa heavily depends on the actual amount of energy that's released there, through hydrothermal vents." Nobody is seriously planning a landing mission on Europa yet. But the European Space Agency aims to launch its JUpiter ICy moons Explorer mission (JUICE) to make the first thickness measurements of Europa's icy crust starting in 2030 and NASA also has begun planning a Europa Clipper mission that would study the icy moon while doing flybys in a Jupiter orbit.