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posted by martyb on Monday January 21, @07:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the Not-kidding dept.

Chinese authorities say world's first gene-edited babies were illegal

Authorities in China say experiments which led to the birth of the world's first gene-edited babies broke the country's laws, state-run Xinhua news reported Monday. In November, Chinese scientist He Jiankui sparked international outrage when he announced that twin girls -- Lulu and Nana -- had been born with modified DNA to make them resistant to HIV. He later revealed a second woman was pregnant as a result of the research.

[...] On Monday, investigators from Guangdong Province Health Commission said that "the case has been initially identified as an explicitly state-banned human embryo-editing activity for reproductive purposes conducted by He Jiankui," Xinhua reported. The commission added that the scientist has conducted the work "In pursuit of personal fame and fortune, with self-raised funds and deliberate evasion of supervision and private recruitment of related personnel." The authorities also believe He forged both ethical review documents and blood tests to circumvent a ban on assisted reproduction for HIV-positive patients, state media reported.

[...] Authorities in China said He and any other people or institutions involved will be "dealt with seriously according to the law, and if suspected of crimes, they will be handed over to the public security bureau," according to Xinhua. "For the born babies and pregnant volunteers, Guangdong Province will work with relevant parties to perform medical observation and follow-up visits under the guidance of relevant state departments," Xinhua said, adding that born babies and pregnant volunteers will be monitored and followed-up with under the guidance of relevant state departments.

Where's the paper?

Also at TechCrunch and Newsweek.

Previously: Chinese Scientist Claims to Have Created the First Genome-Edited Babies (Twins)
Furor Over Genome-Edited Babies Claim Continues (Updated)
Chinese Gene-Editing Scientist's Project Rejected for WHO Database (Plus: He Jiankui is Missing)
Chinese Scientist Who Allegedly Created the First Genome-Edited Babies is Reportedly Being Detained

Original Submission   Alternate Submission

posted by chromas on Monday January 21, @06:02PM   Printer-friendly
from the identification-politics dept.

Civil rights group marks MLK Day with call for 'Trump card' national ID

A prominent civil rights group is marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day by pressing President Trump to honor his promise to create a national photo ID card for citizens.

Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of the iconic civil rights leader and a co-chairmen of the Drum Major Institute, met with Trump two years ago on MLK Day. During that meeting, the then president-elect endorsed the idea of a national photo ID. This year, the group is calling on Trump to follow through.

William Wachtel, co-founder of the Drum Major Institute, said the group sees the issue as critical to ensuring King's work to remove barriers to voting.

[...] The idea has invited controversy in the past, in particular over privacy concerns. In 2013, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced a measure, the Protect Our Privacy Act, attached to a Senate immigration bill. The Paul amendment sought to prevent the creation of a national ID card, citing worries that it would make it easier for the government to track people. Wachtel sought to ease concerns about such an ID, saying it would not be mandatory and would only be an option for those who sought it.

Original Submission

posted by CoolHand on Monday January 21, @04:23PM   Printer-friendly
from the gender-inequality dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Men's pain tolerance decreases when exposed to a setting where they've previously had a painful experience.

A painful experience is not one you are likely to forget—you don't need to a trunk slammed onto your finger multiple times to realize that it's a situation you'd like to avoid. According to a study published Thursday (January 10) in Current Biology, one painful ordeal in a particular setting is enough to make pain less tolerable in that same place in the future—but only if you're male. 

A growing body of evidence suggests a close link between pain and memory. For example, scientists have found that the molecular mechanisms underlying the two processes in the neurons of the spinal cord and brain share striking similarities. And in rodents, scientists have used drugs that manipulate memory-like processes in the spinal cord to reduce persistent pain. "The idea that chronic pain is an issue of memory is increasingly gaining traction," says Jeffrey Mogil, a neuroscientist at McGill University and a coauthor of the new study.  

[...] The reason for the absence of Pavlovian pain memory might be study design, rather than biology. Mogil and his colleagues now developed an experiment that demonstrated this effect, although they stumbled on it by accident. While working on another study looking at the social effects of pain, they discovered that injecting a diluted solution of acetic acid into the bellies of mice—a procedure that causes temporary stomach pain—immediately increased their sensitivity to thermal pain. Twenty-four hours later, the effect remained. 

This finding made Mogil and his team wonder whether that the hypersensitivity was due to classical conditioning. To test this theory, they tried placing mice in a different room a day after the acetic acid injection and discovered that the pain hypersensitivity did not occur.

[...] To see whether humans had the same experience, the team recruited 79 people and repeated the experiments using the so-called ischemic tourniquet test, in which a blood pressure cuff is squeezed tightly around a participant's arm and the resultant loss of blood supply causes pain. (This procedure is safe, but according to Mogil, "it hurts like hell.") Again, they found that just the men showed a heighted response to heat pain the next day—and only in the room where they previously took part in the agonizing task. In a different room, men's tolerance for heat pain remained unchanged after the tourniquet test. Women rated heat pain similarly on both testing days, and in both locations.

Closer examinations revealed that, at least in mice, the context-dependent pain hypersensitivity was dependent on testosterone. The pain memories disappeared in castrated male rodents, and it emerged in ovariectomized female animals infused with testosterone. 

[...] Anne Murphy, a neuroscientist at Georgia State University who did not take part in the work, says she was surprised that the researchers only found this effect in males. "I would really like to see this in a clinically relevant situation," Murphy adds. "For example, if you know you're going into repeated surgery, is the pain experienced by the second surgery more intense than the first one?" 

Several important questions remain, such as what effect the testosterone is having on the pain-related stressfor now, the study has only shown that both testosterone and stress response are required to produce pain memories. But for Mogil, the most important takeaway from this study is that these findings "reinforce the fact that sex differences are important in pain, and females deserve to be studied," he says. "The field has completely ignored the study of females for decades, and only now are people starting to switch."


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday January 21, @02:42PM   Printer-friendly
from the Hard-to-be-social-without-a-network dept.

It's been a long time coming but soon the wishful thinking social media site alternative Google+ is shutting down for good. Or for bad as the case may be for the hundreds of thousands of users who still call Google+ a home and who are severely lacking in options for a place to move to. There's always Facebook, but given the anti-Facebook culture prevalent in the G+ network over the years it won't be an option for many. While communities debate the move, admins of communities size up the prospect of migrating years of data to another platform. Google plans to execute the shutdown in April 2019.

Original Submission

posted by CoolHand on Monday January 21, @01:05PM   Printer-friendly
from the bite-me dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Researchers come face to face with huge great white shark

Two shark researchers who came face to face with what could be one of the largest great whites ever recorded are using their encounter as an opportunity to push for legislation that would protect sharks in Hawaii.

Ocean Ramsey, a shark researcher and conservationist, told The Associated Press that she encountered the 20-foot (6-meter) shark Tuesday near a dead sperm whale off Oahu.

The event was documented and shared on social media by her fiancé and business partner Juan Oliphant.

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources said it was aware of photos of the great white and that tiger sharks also have been feeding on the whale.

Oliphant, who photographed the now-viral images, said it's unclear if the shark is the famed Deep Blue, believed to be the largest great white ever recorded.

"She looks the part right now," Oliphant said about the shark spotted Tuesday. "Maybe even more exciting that there is another massive, you know, super-size great white shark out there. Because their populations are so dwindling."

Ramsey, who operates Oahu-based One Ocean Diving and Research with Oliphant, said she has been pushing for several years for a bill that would ban the killing of sharks and rays in Hawaii, and hopes this year the measure will become law.

[...] Ramsey said extensive training and time spent studying shark behavior has kept her team and customers safe. She teaches people about how to act and, more importantly, not act when they encounter a shark in the water.

Ramsey and her team observe behavior, identify and tag sharks and share that data with researchers as well as state and federal officials. She said she previously swam with the huge shark on research trips to Guadalupe Island, Mexico.

[...] Ramsey said it's impressive that the great white has survived a "gauntlet of human death traps."

"I don't know how old she is," Ramsey said. "But for her to survive through so many longline fisheries and. you know, gill nets and team nets and fishermen who might just kill her because they think that she is a monster ... it's very special."

Explore further: Dead great white shark found on Cape Cod beach

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday January 21, @10:28AM   Printer-friendly
from the powerful-research dept.

Tiny silicon particles could power lithium ion batteries with 10 times more capacity

University of Alberta chemists have taken a critical step toward creating a new generation of silicon-based lithium ion batteries with 10 times the charge capacity of current cells.

“We wanted to test how different sizes of silicon nanoparticles could affect fracturing inside these batteries,” said Jillian Buriak, a U of A chemist and Canada Research Chair in Nanomaterials for Energy.

Silicon shows promise for building much higher-capacity batteries because it’s abundant and can absorb much more lithium than the graphite used in current lithium ion batteries. The problem is that silicon is prone to fracturing and breaking after numerous charge-and-discharge cycles, because it expands and contracts as it absorbs and releases lithium ions.

The researchers examined silicon nanoparticles of four different sizes, evenly dispersed within highly conductive graphene aerogels, made of carbon with nanoscopic pores, to compensate for silicon’s low conductivity. They found that the smallest particles—just three billionths of a metre in diameter—showed the best long-term stability after many charging and discharging cycles.

[...] “As the particles get smaller, we found they are better able to manage the strain that occurs as the silicon ‘breathes’ upon alloying and dealloying with lithium, upon cycling,” explained Buriak.

[...] The study, “Size and Surface Effects of Silicon Nanocrystals in Graphene Aerogel Composite Anodes for Lithium Ion Batteries,” was published in Chemistry of Materials.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday January 21, @08:51AM   Printer-friendly
from the head-on-over-here dept.

Submitted via IRC for takyon

Mini-Monsters with Multiple Heads Created in the Lab

The tiny, immortal hydra is a freshwater animal that can regenerate an entirely new animal from just the tiniest sliver of its body. Usually, it does this perfectly: One foot, one long skinny body, and one tentacled head.

But with a single genetic tweak, researchers can create monstrous hydras that sprout fully functional heads all over their bodies — appropriate for an animal named for an ancient Greek monster that had somewhere between six and nine heads.

These many-headed hydras aren't just a trick of mad science. For the first time, researchers have figured out what keeps hydra head regeneration in check. The findings could inform everything from human developmental studies to cancer research. [The 12 Weirdest Animal Discoveries]

Though hydras are simple animals, regrowing body parts is no minor achievement. With each regeneration, the animal has to organize its body plan so that just one head ends up on top, and just one foot, or basal disc, sprouts on the bottom. Researchers had some of the pieces of this puzzle. They knew the gene Wnt3 is crucial for prompting the growth of the head. They also knew there must be some molecular check on Wnt3. Without that inhibition, the hydra would just grow heads all over. They also knew that a particular receptor and genetic activator, called beta-catenin/TCF, were activated by Wnt3 to start the head-growth process.

[...] What happens, Galliot and her colleagues reported today (Jan. 19) in the journal Nature Communications, is that when a hydra needs a new head, it releases Wnt3, which clings to beta-catenin/TCF, which activates a whole bunch of genes, including more Wnt3 and Sp5. Without Sp5, the Wnt3 keeps the cycle going, and tons of heads pop up all over the regenerating hydra. These heads, Galliot said, are totally functional. They have a nervous system and tentacles and a working mouth.

When Sp5 is in the picture, as it is in nature, it binds to Wnt3, keeping that activator from finding and binding to beta-catenin/TCF. In the absence of Wnt3, beta-catenin/TCF stops sending out "make a head!" messages, and only one head grows.

[...] It turns out that Wnt3 isn't just in flatworms and hydras and other simple, regenerating animals. It's also in mammals, including humans. The gene appears to affect embryonic development, which means that understanding its function could help scientists understand what controls early human development. Wnt3 is also a crucial driver of some sorts of cancer, Galliot said. It might be that Sp5 manipulation could halt the proliferation of such cancers, she said.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday January 21, @07:14AM   Printer-friendly
from the their-way-or-the-highway dept.

Michael Biebl, long-time maintainer of systemd for Debian (2010 or earlier, based on changelog.Debian.gz), is taking undetermined holidays from packaging it. The e-mail was short:

Will stop maintaining systemd in debian for a while.

What's going on is just too stupid/crazy.

This takes place after he discussed a bug in which he expected systemd to respect local settings, and not rename network devices:

@yuwata a default policy like /lib/systemd/network/ should never trump explicit user configuration.

Later he seems surprised about how things roll there:

I'm amazed that I have to point this out....

The issue is locked currently, and also archived just in case, so everyone can read the initial report and the replies he got.

Opinion: It seems distribution developers are starting to get the stick too, not just users with their "errors" (taken from a reply). Will distributions finally wake up or is that they don't still grok the attitude of projects like this? [Or is it something else? --Ed.]

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday January 21, @05:37AM   Printer-friendly
from the when-you-want-a-top-end-video-card-for-research dept.

Q2VKPT Is the First Entirely Raytraced Game with Fully Dynamic Real-Time Lighting, Runs 1440P@60FPS with RTX 2080Ti via Vulkan API

Q2VKPT [is] an interesting graphics research project whose goal is to create the first entirely raytraced game with fully dynamic real-time lighting, based on the Quake II engine Q2PRO. Rasterization is used only for the 2D user interface (UI).

Q2VKPT is powered by the Vulkan API and now, with the release of the GeForce RTX graphics cards capable of accelerating ray tracing via hardware, it can get close to 60 frames per second at 1440p (2560×1440) resolution with the RTX 2080 Ti GPU according to project creator Christoph Schied.

The project consists of about 12K lines of code which completely replace the graphics code of Quake II. It's open source and can be freely downloaded via GitHub.

This is how path tracing + denoising (4m16s video) works.

Also at Phoronix.

Related: Nvidia Announces Turing Architecture With Focus on Ray-Tracing and Lower-Precision Operations
Nvidia Announces RTX 2080 Ti, 2080, and 2070 GPUs, Claims 25x Increase in Ray-Tracing Performance

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday January 21, @03:16AM   Printer-friendly
from the we-should-get-together-some-time dept.

Paris informs Tokyo it wants Renault and Nissan to integrate[*]

A French government delegation has informed Tokyo that it would seek an integration of Renault and Nissan, most likely under the umbrella of a single holding company, the Nikkei reported on Sunday.

The delegation, which included French government-designated Renault director Martin Vial, also said that it wanted to name Nissan's next chairman, according to the report. Nissan was not immediately available for comment.

Nissan ex-chairman Carlos Ghosn, arrested and detained in Tokyo since Nov. 19, has been indicted in Japan on charges of under-reporting his salary for eight years through March 2018, and temporarily transferring personal investment losses to Nissan during the global financial crisis. Ghosn has denied all charges.

[*] Noscript caused issues for me; same story can be found at U.S. News & World Report.

Previously: Nissan Motor Chairman and Others Set to be Indicted

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday January 21, @12:55AM   Printer-friendly
from the That's-Entertainment! dept.


Streaming mogul Netflix claims Fortnite is now a bigger competitor than other media companies like Game of Thrones and True Detective producer HBO.

[...] It's a notable comparison that highlights not only how incredulously popular Epic's last-man-standing shooter has become, but also how its impact is now being felt by some of the biggest names outside of the games industry.

Indeed, it's easy to see why Netflix considers Fortnite a main rival. The free-to-play title is available on almost every platform imaginable, from consoles and PCs to smartphones, and hit 8.3 million concurrent players before Christmas.

Is Netflix right? Is gaming a bigger long-term threat to streaming services than the streaming services are to each other?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday January 20, @10:34PM   Printer-friendly
from the Fee-Fie-Fou-Fhum-Fideism-Falafel dept.

Commentary at Salon!

Should you believe in a God? Not according to most academic philosophers. A comprehensive survey revealed that only about 14 percent of English speaking professional philosophers are theists. As for what little religious belief remains among their colleagues, most professional philosophers regard it as a strange aberration among otherwise intelligent people. Among scientists the situation is much the same. Surveys of the members of the National Academy of Sciences, composed of the most prestigious scientists in the world, show that religious belief among them is practically nonexistent, about 7 percent.

[...] Now nothing definitely follows about the truth of a belief from what the majority of philosophers or scientists think. But such facts might cause believers discomfort. There has been a dramatic change in the last few centuries in the proportion of believers among the highly educated in the Western world. In the European Middle Ages belief in a God was ubiquitous, while today it is rare among the intelligentsia. This change occurred primarily because of the rise of modern science and a consensus among philosophers that arguments for the existence of gods, souls, afterlife and the like were unconvincing. Still, despite the view of professional philosophers and world-class scientists, religious beliefs have a universal appeal. What explains this?

[...] First, if you defend such beliefs by claiming that you have a right to your opinion, however unsupported by evidence it might be, you are referring to a political or legal right, not an epistemic one. You may have a legal right to say whatever you want, but you have epistemic justification only if there are good reasons and evidence to support your claim. If someone makes a claim without concern for reasons and evidence, we should conclude that they simply don't care about what's true. We shouldn't conclude that their beliefs are true because they are fervently held.

Another problem is that fideism—basing one's beliefs exclusively on faith—makes belief arbitrary, leaving no way to distinguish one religious belief from another. Fideism allows no reason to favor your preferred beliefs or superstitions over others. If I must accept your beliefs without evidence, then you must accept mine, no matter what absurdity I believe in. But is belief without reason and evidence worthy of rational beings? Doesn't it perpetuate the cycle of superstition and ignorance that has historically enslaved us? I agree with W.K. Clifford. "It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence." Why? Because your beliefs affect other people, and your false beliefs may harm them.

I am checking to see what the Church of the Flying Spagetti Monster has to say about all this.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday January 20, @08:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the Soyvertisment-Game-Ad-Alert-dept dept.

Mortal Kombat is back with it's 11th version this time with MMA badass Ronda Rousey as Sonya Blade with an ultra violent preview trailer. Given the progression of titles in the MK series it will take a significant boost to deliver a winner this time, something for which the preview shows it may have a good shot at. Assuming the preview isn't pure fluff.

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Sunday January 20, @05:52PM   Printer-friendly
from the high-windspeed-collision dept.

NASA's Juno spacecraft captures Jupiter's massive storms, revealing planet's 'striking blemish'

Deep in outer space, two powerful storms brewed near Jupiter's iconic Red Spot. And the planet's colorful, swirling clouds became even more mesmerizing — a feat space enthusiasts may not have imagined was possible.

NASA's Juno spacecraft captured the stunning sight during a recent flyby in late December, though the agency only just released the images on Thursday. The spacecraft was about 23,000 to 34,000 miles from the top of the planet's clouds at the time. [...] The photos show a huge storm called Oval BA hovering near the Great Red Spot. The "striking blemish" on Jupiter's surface is about twice as wide as Earth

All agree that Andrew Jackson was V.G.L. -- Very Good Looking. But this looks even better. Thinking of ordering the Hard Copy to hang in my office. Bye Andy!!!

Also at SWRI.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday January 20, @02:42PM   Printer-friendly
from the Eye-for-an-"i"-dept dept.

In April 2011, 17 year old Wang Shangkunsold a kidney to buy an iPhone. When asked why he did this, the man said “Why do I need a second kidney? One is enough,”.

The man subsequently developed complications and now needs regular dialysis to survive. The complications may have been caused by a lack of post operative care. The doctors involved have been arrested.

Original Submission