2018-07-01 00:00:00 ..
2018-11-10 11:32:55 UTC
2018-11-10 12:56:46 UTC
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Back at the start of the year, a set of attacks that leveraged the speculative execution capabilities of modern high-performance processors was revealed. The attacks were named Meltdown and Spectre. Since then, numerous variants of these attacks have been devised. In tandem, a range of mitigation techniques has been created to enable at-risk software, operating systems, and hypervisor platforms to protect against these attacks.
A research team—including many of the original researchers behind Meltdown, Spectre, and the related Foreshadow and BranchScope attacks—has published a new paper disclosing yet more attacks in the Spectre and Meltdown families. The result? Seven new possible attacks. Some are mitigated by known mitigation techniques, but others are not. That means further work is required to safeguard vulnerable systems.
The previous investigations into these attacks have been a little ad hoc in nature: examining particular features of interest to provide, for example, a Spectre attack that can be performed remotely over a network or Meltdown-esque attack to break into SGX enclaves. The new research is more systematic, looking at the underlying mechanisms behind both Meltdown and Spectre and running through all the different ways the speculative execution can be misdirected.
Submitted via IRC for Bytram
In the introduction to her new book, Hannah Fry points out something interesting about the phrase "Hello World." It's never been quite clear, she says, whether the phrase—which is frequently the entire output of a student's first computer program—is supposed to be attributed to the program, awakening for the first time, or to the programmer, announcing their triumphant first creation.
Perhaps for this reason, "Hello World" calls to mind a dialogue between human and machine, one which has never been more relevant than it is today. Her book, called Hello World, published in September, walks us through a rapidly computerizing world. Fry is both optimistic and excited—along with her Ph.D. students at the University of College, London, she has worked on many algorithms herself—and cautious. In conversation and in her book, she issues a call to arms: We need to make algorithms transparent, regulated, and forgiving of the flawed creatures that converse with them.
I reached her by telephone while she was on a book tour in New York City.
Submitted via IRC for Bytram
When the Boston public school system announced new start times last December, some parents found the schedules unacceptable and pushed back. The algorithm used to set these times had been designed by MIT researchers, and about a week later, Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, emailed asking me to cosign an op-ed that would call on policymakers to be more thoughtful and democratic when they consider using algorithms to change policies that affect the lives of residents. Kade, who is also a Director's Fellow at the Media Lab and a colleague of mine, is always paying attention to the key issues in digital liberties and is great at flagging things that I should pay attention to. (At the time, I had no contact with the MIT researchers who designed the algorithm.)
I made a few edits to her draft, and we shipped it off to the Boston Globe, which ran it on December 22, 2017, under the headline "Don't blame the algorithm for doing what Boston school officials asked." In the op-ed, we piled on in criticizing the changes but argued that people shouldn't criticize the algorithm, but rather the city's political process that prescribed the way in which the various concerns and interests would be optimized. That day, the Boston Public Schools decided not to implement the changes. Kade and I high-fived and called it a day.
[...] A few months later, having read the op-ed in the Boston Globe, Arthur Delarue and Sébastien Martin, PhD students in the MIT Operations Research Center and members of the team that built Boston's bus algorithm, asked to meet me. In very polite email, they told me that I didn't have the whole story.
There's more to it than first meets the eye.
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A new study out of the Krembil Brain Institute, part of the Krembil Research Institute, suggests there could be more to that morning jolt of goodness than a boost in energy and attention. Drinking coffee may also protect you against developing both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
"Coffee consumption does seem to have some correlation to a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease," says Dr. Donald Weaver, Co-director of the Krembil Brain Institute. "But we wanted to investigate why that is -- which compounds are involved and how they may impact age-related cognitive decline."
[...] "The caffeinated and de-caffeinated dark roast both had identical potencies in our initial experimental tests," says Dr. Mancini. "So we observed early on that its protective effect could not be due to caffeine."
Dr. Mancini then identified a group of compounds known as phenylindanes, which emerge as a result of the roasting process for coffee beans. Phenylindanes are unique in that they are the only compound investigated in the study that prevent -- or rather, inhibit -- both beta amyloid and tau, two protein fragments common in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, from clumping. "So phenylindanes are a dual-inhibitor. Very interesting, we were not expecting that." says Dr. Weaver.
As roasting leads to higher quantities of phenylindanes, dark roasted coffee appears to be more protective than light roasted coffee.
"It's the first time anybody's investigated how phenylindanes interact with the proteins that are responsible for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's," says Dr. Mancini. "The next step would be to investigate how beneficial these compounds are, and whether they have the ability to enter the bloodstream, or cross the blood-brain barrier."
The Planetary Society reports:
Representative John Culberson, an 8-term Texas Republican and staunch supporter of NASA and planetary exploration, lost his re-election bid to Democrat Lizzie Fletcher last week. Many factors played into this outcome, but one bears consideration by space advocates: his support for the scientific search for life at Europa was seen as a weakness and attacked accordingly.
Over the past four years, Culberson used his chairmanship of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations subcommittee to increase spending on NASA and missions to search for life on Europa. He directed hundreds of millions of dollars to this effort and played a critical role in getting the Europa Clipper mission officially adopted by NASA and the White House. And he did this without cannibalizing other NASA programs. His motivation was passion, not parochialism, as the prime benefactor of these federal dollars was California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, located far outside his Houston-area congressional district.
An elderly friend died last year and among other things I inherited a couple of bottles of Creme de Menthe. For anyone unfamiliar, it's bright green and very minty -- 60 proof / 30% alcohol by volume. I'm not a regular drinker, and I am one of those weirdos that believes in waste-not, want-not, so I felt obligated to find a way to (slowly) consume it. My eventual choice was to pour a shot or two over a bowl of chocolate ice cream -- not bad, compare to mint chocolate-chip ice cream, with a little kick.
Any other suggestions?
[An Anonymous Editor suggested Creme de Menthe Brownies (located at the bottom of the page).]
The International Space Station's first 3D printer with its own recycling machine is en route to the orbital laboratory aboard a Northrop Grumman spacecraft.
The Cygnus spacecraft launched early Saturday morning aboard an Antares rocket, carrying 7,400 pounds of supplies to aid dozens of investigations and research projects conducted on the space station, NASA said in a news release.
The load includes the space station's first all-in-one 3D printer and recycler, known as the "Refabricator," NASA said. It will be able to take plastic materials and old 3D-printed parts on the space station and recycle them into new 3D-printer "ink" that will allow astronauts to make new tools in space.
The technology will also "greatly reduce the need to continually launch large supplies of new material and parts for repairs and maintenance," NASA said. That, in turn, should reduce the cost of the resupplying the space station.
The demand for plastic wrenches aboard the ISS will be satisfied.
The space station marks its 20th year in orbit on Tuesday. The first section launched on Nov. 20, 1998, from Kazakhstan.
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The center of gravity in high energy physics could move to Asia if either of two grand plans is realized. At a workshop here last week, Chinese scientists unveiled the full conceptual design for the proposed Circular Electron Positron Collider (CEPC), a $5 billion machine to tackle the next big challenge in particle physics: studying the Higgs boson. (Part of the design was published in the summer.) Now, they’re ready to develop detailed plans, start construction in 2022, and launch operations around 2030—if the Chinese government agrees to fund it.
Meanwhile, Japan’s government is due to decide by the end of December whether to host an equally costly machine to study the Higgs, the International Linear Collider (ILC). How Japan’s decision might affect China’s, which is a few years away, is unclear. But it seems increasingly likely that most of the future action around the Higgs will be in Asia. Proposed “Higgs factories” in Europe are decades away and the United States has no serious plans.
The Higgs boson, key to explaining how other particles gain mass, was discovered at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, in 2012—more than 40 years after being theoretically predicted. Now, scientists want to confirm the particle’s properties, how it interacts with other particles, and whether it contributes to dark matter. Having only mass but no spin and no charge, the Higgs is really a “new kind of elementary particle” that is both “a special part of the standard model” and a “harbinger of some profound new principles,” says Nima Arkani-Hamed, a theorist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Answering the most important questions in particle physics today “involves studying the Higgs to death,” he says.
Submitted via IRC for takyon
ASUS this week released its financial results for the third quarter of the year, and in the process issued comments regarding two pressing issues: shortages of Intel’s chipsets and processors, as well as the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China. As it turns out, the situation is tough in both cases: tight supply will persist for quarters, whereas the trade feud may force ASUS and other companies to relocate its production facilities from China to other countries.
As reported, high demand for high-profile products has increased pressure on Intel’s factory network and forced the chipmaker to prioritize fabrication of its high-margin large-die Core and Xeon CPUs over other products in the recent months. Consequently, shipments of entry-level products made using 14 nm process technology are tight right now. In a bid to tackle the problem, Intel is in the process of allocating $1 billion to boost production of chips at its manufacturing facilities located in Oregon, Arizona, Ireland, and Israel. Meanwhile, it takes months to install new equipment into fabs, so any new step-and-scan tools acquired this quarter will unlikely have any impact on fab throughput until end of Q1 next year. ASUS certainly knows about that and admits that it expects tight supply to persist till Q2 or Q3 2019.
“We cannot answer on behalf of Intel,” said Jerry Shen, chief executive ASUS during the company’s earnings conference. “For example, data center will be the priority for Intel shipments, but priority is something we cannot answer on behalf of Intel. The shortage will affect component levels the most, such as the motherboard. Currently we believe that this will not be resolved before the Q2 of next year. Perhaps, it will be resolved in Q3 of next year. So, from now to next year we face many uncertainties in terms of CPU shortages.”
On Saturday, November 16th, around 282,000 people blocked roads and highways all over France. The protesters, nicknamed the gillets jaunes after the yellow warning vests they wore, had organized through Facebook. Their beef: the increase in environmental taxes on gasoline, on top of a number of other tax increases.
We don't disagree with having to pay more to help act for the environment and fight climate change, was the general opinion, but why should it be only the little folks who have to pay while the elite can easily grin and bear it -- why not tax also all that heavy fuel burned by aeroplanes and tanker ships?
The action, which persisted throughout the day, resulted in over 100 wounded and one tragic death when a mother driving her child to hospital panicked.
The protesters do have a point. While media and politics rightly, if very, very much belatedly, are warning about climate change, the alternatives proposed clearly are not to be taken seriously.
The hard choices we need to face apparently come down to cities investing in smart cameras to fine visitors based on production year and type of their automobile. Public transport investing will come, but not to the countryside where car/ride sharing, Uber and similar services simply are not viable; Tesla and relatives are on another price planet for ordinary people.
As to the EU's emission trading system (ETS) that should drive industry to climate change action: news broke on the same day as the gillets jaunes actions that Britain -- on the verge of leaving the EU -- is one of the biggest net exporters of such credits: Britain had 900 million of these credits too much, for the years 2013-2015 alone.
Submitted via IRC for Bytram
After not experiencing any meaningful amounts of precipitation for at least 500 years, Chile’s Atacama Desert is finally getting some rain. Quite unexpectedly, however, these rains—instead of fostering life—are doing the exact opposite.
[...] The unprecedented rains, the authors say, are the result of changing climatic conditions over the Pacific Ocean. An extensive “mass of clouds” came to the desert from the Pacific Ocean—an “unprecedented phenomenon,” the researchers say, that occurred twice in three years.
The resulting precipitation resulted in the widespread extinction of many native microbial species. The local extinction rate, according to the new study, reached as high as 85 percent in the hardest-hit places. Extremophile organisms, accustomed to arid conditions, were unable to cope with the influx of water.
“The hyperdry soils before the rains were inhabited by up to 16 different, ancient microbe species,” said Alberto G. Fairén, an astrobiologist at Cornell and a co-author of the new study, in a statement. “After it rained, there were only two to four microbe species found in the lagoons,” said Fairen, who is also a researcher with the Centro de Astrobiología, Madrid. “The extinction event was massive.”
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Walk, don’t run, on the martian moon Phobos. A new study finds that traveling faster than about 5 kilometers per hour on some regions of the Red Planet’s largest satellite could shoot you straight off into space.
Phobos (pictured[*]) is an odd duck among our solar system’s moons. It’s tiny (a fraction of a percent the size of our own moon) and is shaped like a potato; that weird shape draws gravity to different places, depending on where you are.
All these features make Phobos a challenge to travel on, researchers report in Advances in Space Research. In some places, moving any faster than 5 kilometers per hour would be enough to free you from the moon’s meager gravitational pull, sending you off into space where you’d likely be captured by Mars’s gravity and end up orbiting the Red Planet. The fastest you could travel anywhere on Phobos would be about 36 kilometers per hour, or a little faster than a golf cart, the team finds.
[*] Here is a link to the picture.
-- submitted from IRC
Submitted via IRC for Bytram
The most luminous galaxy ever discovered is cannibalizing not one, not two, but at least three of its smaller neighbors, according to a new study published today (Nov. 15) in the journal Science and coauthored by scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The material that the galaxy is stealing from its neighbors is likely contributing to its uber-brightness, the study shows.
[...] "It is possible that this feeding frenzy has already been ongoing for some time, and we expect the galactic feast to continue for at least a few hundred million years," said Tanio Diaz-Santos of the Universidad Diego Portales in Santiago, Chile, lead author of the study.
[...] This kind of galactic cannibalism is not uncommon. Astronomers have previously observed galaxies merging with or accreting matter from their neighbors in the nearby universe. For example, the pair of galaxies collectively known as "the Mice" are so named because each has a long, thin tail of accreting material stretching away from it.
The rise and rise of cheap hotels has bred a new variant of smart hotel where the door and the room can be controlled by a mobile phone application. With no room service, selectable coloured interior lighting, no fridge, and no door key Mi-Pad in New Zealand may be an indication of what hotels will be like in the future. With a smartphone app to control the front door, lighting, order room service, room temperature, and message other guests the hotel truly offers self service. If this catches on, how many other hotels will switch to automated service to save money on staff wages?
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The Central Intelligence Agency has concluded that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to American officials.
The C.I.A. made the assessment based on the crown prince's control of Saudi Arabia, which is such that the killing would not have taken place without his approval, and has buttressed its conclusion with two sets of crucial communications: intercepts of the crown prince's calls in the days before the killing, and calls by the kill team to a senior aide to the crown prince.
[...] The increasingly definitive assessment from the spy agency creates a problem for President Trump, who has tied his administration to Prince Mohammed and proclaimed him the future of Saudi Arabia, a longtime American ally. But the new assessment by the C.I.A. is sure to harden the resolve of lawmakers on Capitol Hill to continue to investigate the killing of Mr. Khashoggi and punish Saudi Arabia.
Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, has been particularly close to Prince Mohammed. Mr. Kushner has long advocated that a strong relationship with the Saudis is in the United States' interest, and he has pushed to maintain support for the crown prince despite the death of Mr. Khashoggi, who Saudi officials now say was killed with a lethal dose of tranquilizers and dismembered. Previously, Saudi officials said that Mr. Khashoggi had been strangled.
[...] Neither administration officials nor intelligence officers believe the controversy over Mr. Khashoggi will drive Prince Mohammed from power, which is one reason White House officials believe cutting ties with the prince would not be in the interest of the United States.
takyon: The Saudis have denied the reports.