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What should be the Book Club picks for April+?

  • Oryx and Crake - Book #1 of the MaddAddam trilogy - Margaret Atwood
  • Beggars in Spain - Book #1 of the Sleepless trilogy - Nancy Kress
  • Too Far - Rich Shapiro
  • Revolt in 2100 - (short stories collection) - Robert A. Heinlein
  • Morlock the Maker Short Stories - (pre-Blood of Ambrose?) - James Enge
  • Downbelow Station - C. J. Cherryh
  • Hammerfall - C. J. Cherryh
  • Sundiver - David Brin

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:12 | Votes:21

posted by martyb on Friday April 19, @08:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the Death-is-cheap-life-is-expensive-dept dept.

Have you ever wondered what it costs to keep a person alive when they are on the brink of death? Thanks to a post by a suicide survivor who started a rash of posts concerning hospital costs for the mortally challenged we know that the hospital bill for suicide management can be from 10K to 100K. Oliver Jordan clocked up 25,000 likes and hundreds of responses to his post with some people saying it cost them 10K to 20K for a US emergency room visit. Once a patient enters a hospital they can racked many charges often without realising what the end bill will be.

In memory of MDC.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday April 19, @06:34PM   Printer-friendly
from the significant-change dept.

In science, the success of an experiment is often determined by a measure called "statistical significance." A result is considered to be "significant" if the difference observed in the experiment between groups (of people, plants, animals and so on) would be very unlikely if no difference actually exists. The common cutoff for "very unlikely" is that you'd see a difference as big or bigger only 5 percent of the time if it wasn't really there — a cutoff that might seem, at first blush, very strict.

It sounds esoteric, but statistical significance has been used to draw a bright line between experimental success and failure. Achieving an experimental result with statistical significance often determines if a scientist's paper gets published or if further research gets funded. That makes the measure far too important in deciding research priorities, statisticians say, and so it's time to throw it in the trash.

More than 800 statisticians and scientists are calling for an end to judging studies by statistical significance in a March 20 comment published in Nature. An accompanying March 20 special issue of the American Statistician makes the manifesto crystal clear in its introduction: "'statistically significant' — don't say it and don't use it."

There is good reason to want to scrap statistical significance. But with so much research now built around the concept, it's unclear how — or with what other measures — the scientific community could replace it. The American Statistician offers a full 43 articles exploring what scientific life might look like without this measure in the mix.

Statistical Significance

Is is time for "P is less than or equal to 0.05" to be abandoned or changed ??

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday April 19, @04:59PM   Printer-friendly
from the 5nm-is-45-silicon-atoms-@-111pm-each dept.

Samsung Completes Development of 5nm EUV Process Technology

Samsung Foundry this week announced that it has completed development of its first-generation 5 nm fabrication process (previously dubbed 5LPE). The manufacturing technology uses extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) and is set to provide significant performance, power, and area advantages when compared to Samsung's 7 nm process (known as 7LPP). Meanwhile, Samsung stresses that IP developed for 7LPP can be also used for chips to be made using 5LPE.

Samsung's 5 nm technology continues to use FinFET transistors, but with a new standard cell architecture as well as a mix of DUV and EUV step-and-scan systems. When compared to 7LPP, Samsung says that their 5LPE fabrication process will enable chip developers to reduce power consumption by 20% or improve performance by 10%. Furthermore, the company promises an increase in logic area efficiency of up to 25%.

One interesting technology that will eventually be on Samsung's roadmap: "gate-all-around" field effect transistors.

Meanwhile, TSMC has announced a new node, "6nm", which will allow for smaller die sizes than "7nm" with no improvements to performance or power consumption. It is also not better than the TSMC "7nm+" node, which will use extreme ultraviolet lithography:

TSMC this week unveiled its new 6 nm (CLN6FF, N6) manufacturing technology, which is set to deliver a considerably higher transistor density when compared to the company's 7 nm (CLN7FF, N7) fabrication process. An evolution of TSMC's 7nm node, N6 will continue to use the same design rules, making it easier for companies to get started on the new process. The technology will be used for risk production of chips starting Q1 2020.

TSMC states that their N6 fabrication technology offers 18% higher logic density when compared to the company's N7 process (1st Gen 7 nm, DUV-only), yet offers the same performance and power consumption. Furthermore, according to TSMC N6 'leverages new capabilities in extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL)' gained from N7+, but does not disclose how exactly it uses EUV for the particular technology. Meanwhile, N6 uses the same design rules as N7 and enables developers of chips to re-use the same design ecosystem (e.g., tools, etc.), which will enable them to lower development costs. Essentially, N6 allows to shrink die sizes of designs developed using N7 design rules by around 15% while using the familiar IP for additional cost savings.

See table in article.

Previously: Samsung Discusses Foundry Plans Down to "3nm"
TSMC's "5nm" (CLN5FF) Process On-Track for High-Volume Manufacturing in 2020

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday April 19, @03:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the Jump! dept.

From the original announcement:

"After 7 years of development... Super Mario Bros. 64


This is a Commodore 64 port of the 1985 game SUPER MARIO BROS. for the Famicom and Nintendo Entertainment System. It contains the original version that was released in Japan and United States, as well as the European version. It also detects and supports a handful of turbo functionalities, and has 2 SID support.

The original game was released in two versions:
- Japanese/US-release - the original for NTSC, 60 Hz video systems.
- European-release - adjusted for PAL, 50 Hz video systems.


This port will try to run the game at the intended speed (as well as having the sound in the correct pitch); this means you can play either version on any type of C64. It also means that the Japanese/US-release will not play 20% slower on a PAL-system. Likewise, the European-release will not play 20% faster on an NTSC-system."

Judging by comments on Lemon64, it is a faithful port:
- Jumping from a powerup works
- The "minus world" trick works
- Wall jump works

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday April 19, @01:45PM   Printer-friendly
from the post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc dept.

After Heart Attack: Late Dinner and no Breakfast a Killer Combination:

People who skip breakfast and eat dinner near bedtime have worse outcomes after a heart attack. That's the finding of research published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

The study found that people with the two eating habits had a four to five times higher likelihood of death, another heart attack, or angina (chest pain) within 30 days after hospital discharge for heart attack.

This was the first study to evaluate these unhealthy behaviours in patients with acute coronary syndromes. Skipping breakfast was observed in 58%, late-night dinner eating in 51%, and both behaviours in 41%.

The study enrolled patients with a particularly serious form of heart attack called ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). "One in ten patients with STEMI dies within a year, and nutrition is a relatively inexpensive and easy way to improve prognosis," said study author Dr Marcos Minicucci, of São Paolo State University, Brazil.

He recommended a minimum two hour interval between dinner and bedtime. "It is said that the best way to live is to breakfast like a king," he added. "A good breakfast is usually composed of dairy products (fat-free or low fat milk, yogurt and cheese), a carbohydrate (whole wheat bread, bagels, cereals), and whole fruits. It should have 15 to 35% of our total daily calorie intake."

The study included 113 patients with a mean age of 60, and 73% were men. Patients were asked about eating behaviours on admission to a coronary intensive care unit. Skipping breakfast was defined as nothing before lunch, excluding beverages, such as coffee and water, at least three times per week. Late-night dinner eating was defined as a meal within two hours before bedtime at least three times per week.

Is your first meal still called breakfast if you don't wake up until after noon?

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday April 19, @12:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the persistent-little-bugger dept.

How the Hepatitis B Virus Establishes Persistent Infection:

New research sheds light on how a hepatitis B viral protein stimulates the expansion of immune cells that impair antiviral responses, according to a study published April 18 in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens by Haitao Guo of the Indiana University School of Medicine, Bin Wang and Jiming Zhang of Fudan University, and colleagues. The findings potentially explain how the hepatitis B virus (HBV) establishes and maintains chronic infection, and could lead to the development of novel therapeutic strategies.

HBV is a blood-borne pathogen that chronically infects approximately 350 million people worldwide, and more than 780,000 patients die annually due to HBV-related liver diseases. Chronic HBV infection is associated with impaired virus-specific T-cell responses. Myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) are immune cells known to play a critical role in impairing antiviral T-cell responses. In addition, the hepatitis B e-antigen (HBeAg) -- a hepatitis B viral protein -- may represent a viral strategy to establish persistent infection, but the mechanism remains largely unknown. In the new study, the researchers examined the mechanisms underlying the expansion of MDSCs and the suppression of T-cell responses in persistent HBV infection.

The researchers analyzed the circulation frequency of MDSCs in 164 patients with chronic HBV infection and 70 healthy donors. They found that the frequency of circulating MDSCs in HBeAg-positive patients is higher than in HBeAg-negative patients. Moreover, HBeAg induced the expansion of MDSCs through the upregulation of a molecule called indoleamine-2, 3-dioxygenase (IDO), which plays a critical role in the suppression of T-cell proliferation. According to the authors, the findings suggest a novel mechanism in which HBeAg-induced MDSC expansion impairs T-cell function through the IDO pathway and favors the establishment of persistent HBV infection. The HBeAg-MDSC-IDO axis may therefore serve as an immunotherapeutic target of chronic hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B on Wikipedia.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday April 19, @10:41AM   Printer-friendly
from the unicorns-all-the-way-down dept.

Man Asks for Pixel 3 Refund, Gets 10 Pink Replacements Instead:

This is the tale of customer service gone awry as told by Reddit user Cheetoz, who said he was resorting to shaming Google to try to get some resolution to the apparent shipping blunder. In a post on the social network, Cheetoz describes returning a defective white handset for a refund of its $1,000 purchase price but receiving only $80 -- to cover the sales tax, he said.

His frustration was then compounded by the bizarre: Instead of receiving the approximately $900 he'd be owed, he was sent 10 pink Pixel 3s after placing a separate transaction for a single Not Pink Pixel 3. His thread included an image of the 10 phones, with the message: "Google, I have your phones. You have my money. Let's sort this out."

He admits that financially, he's coming out ahead, but says he wants to do the right thing and return them. But not without getting the refund he's owed in exchange.

OMG Pwnies!

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Friday April 19, @09:09AM   Printer-friendly
from the thank-god(s)-for-science! dept.

Even seemingly irrational beliefs can become ensconced in the social norms of a society. Research by biologists in the School of Arts and Sciences shows how.

Ancient Roman leaders once made decisions about important events, such as when to hold elections or where to build new cities, based on the presence or flight patterns of birds. Builders often omit the thirteenth floor from their floor plans, and many pedestrians go well out of their way to avoid walking under a ladder.

While it's widely recognized that superstitions like these are not rational, many persist, guiding the behavior of large groups of people even today.

In a new analysis driven by game theory, two theoretical biologists devised a model that shows how superstitious beliefs can become established in a society's social norms. Their work, which appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrates how groups of individuals, each starting with distinct belief systems, can evolve a coordinated set of behaviors that are enforced by a set of consistent social norms.

How superstitions spread

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Friday April 19, @07:37AM   Printer-friendly
from the always-look-on-the-dark-side-of-life dept.

In a paper published in Physical Review Letters University of Chicago and Fermilab scientists lay out a way it might be possible to spot dark matter's tracks.

Theorists think there's one particular kind of dark particle that only occasionally interacts with normal matter. It would be heavier and longer-lived than other known particles, with a lifetime up to one tenth of a second. A few times in a decade, researchers believe, this particle can get caught up in the collisions of protons that the LHC is constantly creating and measuring.

One theory suggests that the Higgs boson could actually decay into the 'long lived' dark particles.

Wang, UChicago postdoctoral fellow Jia Liu and Fermilab scientist Zhen Liu (now at the University of Maryland) proposed a new way to search by exploiting one particular aspect of such a dark particle. "If it's that heavy, it costs energy to produce, so its momentum would not be large—it would move more slowly than the speed of light," said Liu, the first author on the study.

The only problem is sorting out these events from the rest; there are more than a billion collisions per second in the 27-kilometer LHC, and each one of these sends subatomic chaff spraying in all directions.

The time delay of the slower moving particles is the key.

The difference is less than a billionth of a second, but it is within the range the detectors can suss out and the upgrade the LHC is undergoing will increase that sensitivity even further.

The trap is already being built by experimentalists. The LHC will turn back on in 2021 with increased detection and energy at which point it will be time for the hunt to begin.

Interesting that plain old Higgs bosons might be the key to opening the door on dark matter.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Friday April 19, @06:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the Dear-SoylentNews-staff... dept.

EU Tells Internet Archive That Much Of Its Site Is 'Terrorist Content'

Update: The Internet Archive has issued a minor correction to its original story, noting that it was not actually Europol who sent the demand, but rather the French Internet Referral Unit using the Europol system, so that it looked like it was coming from Europol.

[...] We've been trying to explain for the past few months just how absolutely insane the new EU Terrorist Content Regulation will be for the internet. Among many other bad provisions, the big one is that it would require content removal within one hour as long as any "competent authority" within the EU sends a notice of content being designated as "terrorist" content. The law is set for a vote in the EU Parliament just next week.

And as if they were attempting to show just how absolutely insane the law would be for the internet, multiple European agencies (we can debate if they're "competent") decided to send over 500 totally bogus takedown demands to the Internet Archive last week, claiming it was hosting terrorist propaganda content.

And just in case you think that maybe the requests are somehow legit, they are so obviously bogus that anyone with a browser would know they are bogus. Included in the list of takedown demands are a bunch of the Archive's "collection pages" including the entire Project Gutenberg page of public domain texts, it's collection of over 15 million freely downloadable texts, the famed Prelinger Archive of public domain films and the Archive's massive Grateful Dead collection. Oh yeah, also a page of CSPAN recordings. So much terrorist content!

Also at Boing Boing.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Friday April 19, @04:33AM   Printer-friendly
from the always-look-on-the-bright-side-of-life dept.

After a $14-Billion Upgrade, New Orleans' Levees Are Sinking:

Sea-level rise and ground subsidence will render the flood barriers inadequate in just four years

The $14 billion network of levees and floodwalls that was built to protect greater New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was a seemingly invincible bulwark against flooding.

But now, 11 months after the Army Corps of Engineers completed one of the largest public works projects in world history, the agency says the system will stop providing adequate protection in as little as four years because of rising sea levels and shrinking levees.

The growing vulnerability of the New Orleans area is forcing the Army Corps to begin assessing repair work, including raising hundreds of miles of levees and floodwalls that form a meandering earth and concrete fortress around the city and its adjacent suburbs.

"These systems that maybe were protecting us before are no longer going to be able to protect us without adjustments," said Emily Vuxton, policy director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, an environmental group. She said repair costs could be "hundreds of millions" of dollars, with 75% paid by federal taxpayers.

"I think this work is necessary. We have to protect the population of New Orleans," Vuxton said.

The protection system was built over a decade and finished last May when the Army Corps completed a final component that involves pumps.

The agency's projection that the system will "no longer provide [required] risk reduction as early as 2023" illustrates the rapidly changing conditions being experienced both globally as sea levels rise faster than expected and locally as erosion wipes out protective barrier islands and marshlands in southeastern Louisiana.

Could never have seen that coming.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Friday April 19, @03:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the FSM dept.

It would seem from the research Biological and cognitive underpinnings of religious fundamentalism that traumatic brain injury to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and/or dorsolateral prefrontal cortex would be associated with religious fundamentalism, or the narrowing of religious beliefs.

Religious beliefs are socially transmitted mental representations that may include supernatural or supernormal episodes that are assumed to be real. Religious beliefs, like other beliefs, are embedded in different ways in different people and societies (Cristofori & Grafman, in press).

One form of religious belief, religious fundamentalism, embodies adherence to a set of firm religious beliefs advocating unassailable truths about human existence (Altemeyer & Hunsberger, 1992). According to the Baylor Religion Survey, a national survey study conducted with a nationally representative sample of 1721 respondents from the United States, 7.7% of all respondents reported being “Fundamentalist” as a part of their religious identity; 1.0% agreed that “Fundamentalist” was the one term that best described their religious identity (Bader, et al., 2006).

[...] Our study explores whether fundamentalism is modulated by the prefrontal cortex (PFC), an important brain area involved in social event knowledge, abstractions and higher order social belief systems. Substantial evidence indicates that damage to the PFC can modify individuals’ belief systems (Forbes & Grafman, 2010; Krueger & Grafman, 2012). For instance, patients with ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) lesions rated radical political statements as more moderate than matched controls (Cristofori, Viola, et al., 2015) and focal damage to the vmPFC resulted in greater religious fundamentalism, compared to healthy controls (Asp, Ramchandran, & Tranel, 2012). Thus, although a collection of cortical sectors function together to help shape and formulate beliefs, the PFC may be a critical hub for the representation of the diverse and abstract social beliefs that lie at the core of many religions.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Friday April 19, @01:28AM   Printer-friendly

You can now download the source code for all Infocom text adventure classics

The source code of every Infocom text adventure game has been uploaded to code-sharing repository GitHub, allowing savvy programmers to examine and build upon some of the most beloved works of digital storytelling to date.

There are numerous repositories under the name historicalsource, each for a different game. Titles include, but are not limited to, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Planetfall, Shogun, and several Zork games—plus some more unusual inclusions like an incomplete version of Hitchhiker's sequel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Infocom samplers, and an unreleased adaptation of James Cameron's The Abyss.

Also at Motherboard.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Friday April 19, @12:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the text/plain;charset=oooops? dept.

Facebook Stored Millions of Instagram Passwords in Plain Text:

Facebook says it stored millions of Instagram users’ passwords in plain text, leaving them exposed to people with access to certain internal systems. The security lapse was first reported last month, but at the time, Facebook said it only happened to “tens of thousands of Instagram users,” whereas the number is now being revised up to “millions.” The issue also affected “hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users” and “tens of millions of other Facebook users.”

Passwords are supposed to be stored in an encrypted format that allows websites to confirm what you’re entering without directly reading it. But as Krebs on Security first reported, various errors seem to have caused Facebook’s systems to log some passwords in plain text since as early as 2012. Facebook noticed the problem in January and said in March that the issue had been resolved.

Who could ever imagine imagine FaceBook treating users' passwords as if it were a game.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday April 18, @10:44PM   Printer-friendly
from the can't-beat-it dept.

“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”

—Mary Heaton Vorse, circa 1911

Ask any professional writer for the secret of their success, and there’s a good chance they’ll respond with some variation of the above advice. It was passed down to me by my Aunt Nene, updated for the contemporary generation as “the secret of writing is ass in chair.”

Ass-in-chair produces results, as a method. But it can weaken and destroy your body in practice, which is exactly what happened to your humble narrator. I spent 10 to 16 hours a day with my ass in a chair, writing — or often trying and failing to write — comic books and video games from 2014 through 2016. Every day I woke up, put my ass in the chair, worked in my chair, ate in my chair and, for all intents and purposes, lived in my chair.

I gained about 20 pounds in those two years, and I wasn’t happy with myself. I tried changing my eating habits, but dieting alone wouldn’t take the fat off. I had to exercise.

The trouble was that the more I exercised, the more pain I felt in my lower back, which zapped me with searing bolts of lightning whenever I jumped, ran, climbed, or swam. I needed to be more active, but I was capable of doing less and less. Even sitting became painful, which caused me to order a standing desk and finally see a doctor, but it was too late.

[...]It was January 2017. I was alone at home, standing in my kitchen, waiting for a tea kettle to boil, when I coughed. A fiery lightning bolt pierced my lower back. The pain shot down through my toes and swept my legs out from under me. Everything flashed white. Then I found myself on the floor, immobile and in worse pain than I’ve ever known.

An MRI confirmed the culprits: two herniated discs in my lumbar spine. I couldn’t sit, drive, or do much of anything comfortably for months. I had no paid time off as a freelancer, so my only option was to write while standing up. It felt unnatural at first, but I adapted.

Long-term physical therapy along with a better diet helped up to a point and then plateaued.

I needed full-body, high-intensity cardio activity that would not aggravate my back. I found it by accident, while experimenting with the Oculus Rift.

[...]I played for hours my first night, sampling a bunch of great games that I still recommend today: Lone Echo, Robo Recall,Space Pirate Trainer, and The Climb, a rock-climbing game which lets anyone indulge their inner Alex Honnold and free solo their way up some intimidating mountains.

My back, shoulders, legs, and arms all became sore the next day. Not injured sore, but post-workout recovery sore. Maybe I hadn’t fixed a real space station, fought an army of robots, or scaled Siberian glaciers, but my body seemed to think it was real enough. This more than playing games. It was rehab.

He played a variety of games but the one standout was Beat Saber.

You play while standing on a platform in a neon-lit industrial void. There’s a red plasma-saber in your left hand, and a blue plasma-saber in your right. Beats fly toward you in red and blue boxes as your choice of music plays. You have to slice each box in half, while matching your saber colors to the colors of the beats.

I used short, tight motions to play at first, until I found that a perfect 50/50 slice and a 150-degree arc on each swing would maximize my score. The beats came at me so quickly in later levels that I had to master complex swing patterns, two-handed slashes, crossovers, and drumlike trill strokes. Energy walls sometimes flew at me with the beats, forcing me to squat and dodge while swinging my sabers.

Beat Saber became the new centerpiece of my daily routine. I played it for over an hour on my best days, swinging through songs again and again to master them as the sweat fell on my yoga mat. I found myself catching a runner’s high about 40 to 50 minutes into most sessions, causing the whole world to melt away as the Force flowed through my body, guiding my sabers to their beats. No aches, no pains, and no strains. Just pure, kinetic flow.

Original Submission