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posted by Fnord666 on Friday February 22, @10:45PM   Printer-friendly
from the it-tastes-good-though dept.

A frosty mug of beer or ruby-red glass of wine just wouldn't be the same if the liquid was murky or gritty. That's why producers of alcoholic beverages usually filter them. But in a study appearing in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers report that a material often used as a filter could be transferring heavy metals such as arsenic to beer and wine. They also found ways to possibly limit this contamination.

Chronic dietary exposure to high levels of arsenic, lead and cadmium can endanger health. Therefore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set limits on these heavy metals in foods and beverages. Although some studies have reported elevated levels of the contaminants in wine and beer, researchers aren't sure how the metals are ending up in these beverages. Benjamin Redan, Lauren Jackson and colleagues wondered if the diatomaceous earth (DE) used to filter beer and wine could be introducing heavy metals, and if so, whether altering the filtering conditions could reduce the transfer.

Journal Reference:
Benjamin W. Redan, Joseph E. Jablonski, Catherine Halverson, James Jaganathan, Md. Abdul Mabud, Lauren S. Jackson. Factors Affecting Transfer of the Heavy Metals Arsenic, Lead, and Cadmium from Diatomaceous-Earth Filter Aids to Alcoholic Beverages during Laboratory-Scale Filtration. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2019; DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.8b06062

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday February 22, @09:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the I-remember-now dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

New molecules reverse memory loss linked to depression, aging

New therapeutic molecules developed at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) show promise in reversing the memory loss linked to depression and aging.

These molecules not only rapidly improve symptoms, but remarkably, also appear to renew the underlying brain impairments causing memory loss in preclinical models. These findings were presented today at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Washington DC.

"Currently there are no medications to treat cognitive symptoms such as memory loss that occur in depression, other mental illnesses and aging," says Dr. Etienne Sibille, Deputy Director of the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at CAMH and lead scientist on the study.

What's unique and promising about these findings, in the face of many failures in drug development for mental illness, is that the compounds are highly targeted to activate the impaired brain receptors that are causing memory loss, he says.

It took a series of studies – the most recent appearing in January 2019 in Molecular Neuropsychiatry – to reach this stage. First, Dr. Sibille and his team identified the specific impairments to brain cell receptors in the GABA neurotransmitter system. Then they showed that these impairments likely caused mood and memory symptoms in depression and in aging.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday February 22, @07:41PM   Printer-friendly
from the faster-and-faster dept.

Hiroshima University, National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, and Panasonic Corporation announced the successful development of a terahertz (THz) transceiver that can transmit or receive digital data at 80 gigabits per second (Gbit/s). The transceiver was implemented using silicon CMOS integrated circuit technology, which would have a great advantage for volume production. Details of the technology will be presented at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) 2019 to be held from February 17 to February 21 in San Francisco, California [1].

The THz band is a new and vast frequency resource expected to be used for future ultrahigh-speed wireless communications. IEEE Standard 802.15.3d, published in October 2017, defines the use of the lower THz frequency range between 252 gigahertz (GHz) and 325 GHz (the "300-GHz band") as high-speed wireless communication channels. The research group has developed a single-chip transceiver that achieves a communication speed of 80 Gbit/s using the channel 66 defined by the Standard. The research group developed a 300-GHz-band transmitter chip capable of 105 Gbit/s [2] and a receiver chip capable of 32 Gbit/s [3] in the past few years. The group has now integrated a transmitter and a receiver into a single transceiver chip.

"We presented a CMOS transmitter that could do 105 Gbit/s in 2017, but the performance of receivers we developed, or anybody else did for that matter, were way behind [3] for a reason. We can use a technique called 'power combining' in transmitters for performance boosting, but the same technique cannot be applied to receivers. An ultrafast transmitter is useless unless an equally fast receiver is available. We have finally managed to bring the CMOS receiver performance close to 100 Gbit/s," said Prof. Minoru Fujishima, Graduate School of Advanced Sciences of Matter, Hiroshima University.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday February 22, @05:59PM   Printer-friendly
from the do-androids-dream-of-electric-sheep? dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Sophisticated New AI Performs Better When It Can Sleep And Dream

Sleep is pretty great. In humans, evidence suggests it has a whole range of benefits, including this one: it keeps the brain healthy by letting neurons prune unnecessary synaptic connections we make during the day.

This process, called synaptic homeostasis, prevents the brain from being overrun by useless memories. It's possible that it helps to improve our cognitive performance, while dreams allow us to process our memories.

As it turns out, something similar may be occurring when artificial neural networks are allowed to sleep and dream.

Yep, you read that correctly. And it works very similarly to how it is thought to occur in humans.

Of course, artificial neural networks (ANNs) - a type of artificial intelligence based on biological neural networks - don't automatically and instinctively fall asleep and dream. Which is why mathematicians in Italy programmed a type of ANN called a Hopfield network to be able to sleep.

"Inspired by sleeping and dreaming mechanisms in mammal brains, we propose an extension of this model displaying the standard on-line (awake) learning mechanism (that allows the storage of external information in terms of patterns) and an off-line (sleep) unlearning & consolidating mechanism," they wrote in their paper.

In other words, while the ANN is 'awake', it's learning and storing patterns. But its storage capacity is limited.

So the team worked out a way to mathematically implement human sleep patterns - rapid-eye movement sleep and slow-wave sleep, the former of which is thought to remove unnecessary memories, and the latter of which is thought to consolidate important ones.

So this is what the ANN's 'sleep' state does too, cycling through and unlearning unnecessary information, and then consolidating what's left, the important stuff.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday February 22, @04:27PM   Printer-friendly
from the stop-the-butterfly's-wing dept.

Researchers at the IIT Madras have developed an algorithm that can help with the management of enormous, dense crowds using minimal manpower, and prevent deadly stampedes in massive public gatherings.

"These kinds of stampedes have clear patterns in how they start. We wanted to understand those early signs and figure out how you place the police people, or what we call ''game-changers'', who then direct the crowd in a way that would prevent a stampede," professor Panchagnula said.

The Kumbh Mela, a Hindu pilgrimage at Prayagraj (Allahabad), is the world's largest religious gathering. Crores and crores of people taking a dip in the river Ganga on some days, making the event a hot spot for possible mishaps that could put thousands at risk.

For reference, one crore is also equivalent to 100 lakhs, where one lakh is equal to one hundred thousand. So one crore is 10,000,000.

See also Sparse game changers restore collective motion in panicked human crowds at arXive.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday February 22, @02:55PM   Printer-friendly
from the just-reboot-it dept.

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Have you tried taking it off and putting it back on again?

"My left shoe won't even reboot": Faulty app bricks Nike smart sneakers

Nike users are experiencing some technical difficulties in the wild world of connected footwear. Nike's $350 "Adapt BB" sneakers are the latest in the company's line of self-lacing shoes, and they come with the "Nike Adapt" app for Android and iOS. The app pairs with the shoes and lets you adjust the tightness of the laces, customize the lights (yeah, there are lights), and see, uh, how much battery life your shoes have left. The only problem: Nike's Android app doesn't work.

Android users report that their new kicks aren't paring with the app properly, and some customers report failed firmware updates for the shoes, which render them unable to pair with the app at all. Nike's app on Google Play has been flooded with 1-star reviews in response to the faulty update.

One user writes, "The first software update for the shoe threw an error while updating, bricking the right shoe." Another says, "App will only sync with left shoe and then fails every time. Also, app says left shoe is already connected to another device whenever I try to reinstall and start over."

"My left shoe won't even reboot." writes another. One user offers a possible solution, saying, "You need to do a manual reset of both shoes per the instructions."

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday February 22, @01:23PM   Printer-friendly
from the disco-is-back dept.

Methanol—a colorless liquid that can be made from agricultural waste—has long been touted as a green alternative to fossil fuels. But it’s toxic and only has half the energy as the same volume of gasoline. Now, researchers report they’ve created a potentially cheap way to use sunlight to convert methanol to ethanol, a more popular alternative fuel that’s less harmful and carries more energy.

The new report is “great work” says Zhongmin Liu, a chemist at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics in China who was not involved with the research. If the process can be optimized and scaled up, he says, “It has the potential to change the world.”

The notion of converting methanol to ethanol isn’t new. Companies already have a trio of chemical processes that do so. But these require adding heat, pressure, and toxic additives, such as carbon monoxide. Companies can also make ethanol directly by fermenting corn kernels or sugarcane. But growing those crops requires precious farmland that could otherwise grow food. Researchers and companies have also come up with ways to convert agricultural wastes into ethanol. So far, however, these have proved too costly to be competitive.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday February 22, @11:51AM   Printer-friendly
from the define-pi==3-has-already-been-tried dept.

It's no secret that some of our federal legislators don't have a firm grip on scientific evidence; it only takes watching a session of the House Science Committee, where one member suggested the climate-driven rise of the oceans might instead be caused by rocks falling into the ocean.

What's often overlooked is that state legislators are even worse (though it's not clear how much this is a product of there simply being more of them). Each year, they oversee a variety of attempts to introduce pseudoscience into the public schools of a number of states.

[...] The legislator in question is Republican Joe Read, who represents an area north of Missoula, home of many fine scientists at the University of Montana. Read has eight bills under consideration in the current session of the legislature, and two of those focus on climate change.

As a result, the [first] bill would prohibit state agencies, officials, and employees from doing anything to cooperate with federal efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions. If passed, the Montana government "may not implement or enforce in any way any federal regulation, rule, or policy implementing a federal greenhouse gas regulatory program."

But if you thought Read's grasp of constitutional law was shaky, you should check out his reason for objecting to doing anything about climate change. That's laid out in his second bill, which targets both science education and in-state programs designed to reduce carbon emissions. And it doesn't mince words, suggesting that pretty much all the scientists have it wrong: "the [US] National Climate Assessment makes the same errors as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the National Academy of Sciences is also fundamentally wrong about climate change."

What are those errors? They are not reality based. Rep. Read claims "all Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change arguments to prove claims of increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide have failed," even though we've measured that increase in a number of ways. There are also things that are difficult to comprehend, like the statement that "the carbon-14 data shows that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claim that human emissions have decreased the 'buffer capacity of the carbonate system' is an invalid claim."

More coverage at the Billings Gazette.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday February 22, @10:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the besmirched dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984

Flaw in mIRC App Allows Attackers to Execute Commands Remotely

A vulnerability was discovered in the mIRC application that could allow attackers to execute commands, such as the downloading and installation of malware, on a vulnerable computer.

mIRC is a popular Internet Relay Chat, or IRC, application that allows users to connect to IRC servers in order to chat with other users. These chat servers are used to talk about a variety of topics and allow users to send images, links, and files to other users on the same server.

[...] A new vulnerability has been discovered by security researchers Benjamin Chetioui and Baptiste Devigne of ProofOfCalc that allows attackers to inject commands into these custom URI schemes when created by mIRC versions older than 7.55.

"mIRC has been shown to be vulnerable to argument injection through its associated URI protocol handlers that improperly escape their parameters," the researchers explain in their writeup. "Using available command-line parameters, an attacker is able to load a remote configuration file and to automatically run arbitrary code."

[...] This vulnerability can be exploited simply by having a user open a web page, it can be distributed via phishing, forum posts, or through any other location that allows user submitted content.

This vulnerability was fixed in mIRC 7.55, which was released on February 8th, 2019. As the researchers have posted a proof-of-concept exploit and as the vulnerability is trivial to exploit, users running older versions of mIRC are strongly advised to upgrade to the latest 7.55 version.

Here are the home and download pages for mIRC.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday February 22, @08:31AM   Printer-friendly
from the it-can-always-get-worse dept.

Millions of Chinese individuals and businesses have been labelled as untrustworthy on an official blacklist banning them from any number of activities, including accessing financial markets or traveling by air or train, as the use of the government’s social credit system accelerates.

[...] Over 3.59 million Chinese enterprises were added to the official creditworthiness blacklist last year, banning them from a series of activities, including bidding on projects, accessing security markets, taking part in land auctions and issuing corporate bonds, according to the 2018 annual report released by the National Public Credit Information Center.

[...] According to the report, the authorities collected over 14.21 million pieces of information on the “untrustworthy conduct” of individuals and businesses, including charges of swindling customers, failing to repay loans, illegal fund collection, false and misleading advertising, as well as uncivilized behavior such as taking reserved seats on trains or causing trouble in hospitals.

About 17.46 million “discredited” people were restricted from buying plane tickets and 5.47 million were restricted from purchasing high-speed train tickets, the report said.

I, for one, welcome our new, well-behaved party overlords.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday February 22, @06:55AM   Printer-friendly
from the best-defense-is-a-good-offense dept.

The founder of Huawei has said there is "no way the US can crush" the company, in an exclusive interview with the BBC.

Ren Zhengfei described the arrest of his daughter Meng Wanzhou, the company's chief financial officer, as politically motivated.

The US is pursuing criminal charges against Huawei and Ms Meng, including money laundering, bank fraud and stealing trade secrets.

Huawei denies any wrongdoing.

Also at CNBC.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday February 22, @05:18AM   Printer-friendly
from the keep-your-friends-close-and-your-enemies-closer? dept.

An article at reports The Number of U.S. Hate Groups Keeps Surging, Largely Thanks to Young, White men:

The number of hate groups nationwide reached a record high in 2018, driven partly by the persistent growth of white nationalist groups catering to young, college-aged men.

There are currently 1,020 active hate groups in America — up from 954 in 2017, and 917 the previous year, according to an annual tally by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The new, young face of hate emerged from the shadows during the 2016 election and organized through a shared language of memes and under the banner of the “alt-right.” Many hailed then-candidate Donald Trump, with his hard-line views on immigration, as a hero. In celebration of his election, the alt-right’s one-time de facto leader Richard Spencer led a room full of young men in suits to give Nazi salutes.

Since then, Spencer and other prominent actors, entangled in costly lawsuits and tired of being heckled by anti-fascist protesters, have faded into relative obscurity.

At the same time, groups like Identity Evropa — whose khaki-clad members were a formidable presence at the violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017— have proliferated and expanded their reach by setting up new chapters across the country. Patriot Front also grew significantly in 2018 after splintering from Vanguard America, the group linked to the 19-year-old neo-Nazi who rammed his car into a crowd of protesters during the Charlottesville rally and killed Heather Heyer.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday February 22, @03:42AM   Printer-friendly
from the public-sievert dept.

Grand Canyon tourists exposed for years to radiation in museum building, safety manager says

For nearly two decades at the Grand Canyon, tourists, employees, and children on tours passed by three paint buckets stored in the National Park's museum collection building, unaware that they were being exposed to radiation.

Although federal officials learned last year that the 5-gallon containers were brimming with uranium ore, then removed the radioactive specimens, the park's safety director alleges nothing was done to warn park workers or the public that they might have been exposed to unsafe levels of radiation.

In a rogue email sent to all Park Service employees on Feb. 4, Elston "Swede" Stephenson — the safety, health and wellness manager — described the alleged cover-up as "a top management failure" and warned of possible health consequences.

[...] Stephenson said the containers were stored next to a taxidermy exhibit, where children on tours sometimes stopped for presentations, sitting next to uranium for 30 minutes or more. By his calculation, those children could have received radiation dosages in excess of federal safety standards within three seconds, and adults could have suffered dangerous exposure in less than a half-minute.

Also at NPR.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday February 22, @02:04AM   Printer-friendly
from the You-got-to-know-when-to-hold-'em,-Know-when-to-fold-'em,-Know-when-to-walk-away... dept.

Samsung finally showed off its new foldable smartphone, the $1,980 Galaxy Fold

Samsung on Wednesday announced more details about its foldable smartphone, called the Galaxy Fold. At Samsung's Unpacked event, we finally saw what the Galaxy Fold will look like, having only seen the device in the shadows when the company announced its existence in November.

The device will use a "7nm" processor and include 12 GB of RAM and 512 GB of internal storage. Oddly enough, there is no microSD slot or headphone jack despite the device's size. Galaxy Fold will include six cameras.

See also: The Galaxy Fold makes no sense as a consumer device yet

With the Galaxy Fold, you spend big to get access to the beta test. The glimpses I got, brief though they were, during Samsung's live presentation of the Fold in London gave me reason to be wary. First and foremost, the inner display of the device never seems to fold out to be perfectly flat. Light reflections glinting off its surface in the presenter's hand exposed a slight ridge in the middle, a spine where the hinge resides and disturbs the flat plane. The left and right wings of the opened Galaxy Fold also reflected light at different angles. I know from my experience with the Royole Flexpai, the first foldable phone, just how hard it is to combine folding and flatness in one device. Judgment should be reserved until we've had a chance to hold one in our hands, but my first impression is that the Fold doesn't always have a perfect, undisturbed 7.3-inch tablet surface. It's a compromise.

As impressive as it is, the Samsung Galaxy Fold won't bring growth back to the smartphone market right now

Galaxy Fold will amaze you. Here's why you won't buy one

Also at Reuters, Bloomberg, and Wccftech.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday February 22, @12:26AM   Printer-friendly
from the down-and-dirty dept.

TSMC's Fab 14B Photoresist Material Incident: $550 Million in Lost Revenue

TSMC[*] on Friday revealed more details regarding an incident with a photoresist material at its Fab 14B earlier this year. The contaminated chemical damaged wafers on TSMC's 12 nm and 16 nm lines, and the company now expects the full impact of the event to reduce their revenue by a whopping $550 million in the first quarter.

TSMC said that a batch of photoresist it used included a specific element which was abnormally treated, creating a foreign polymer in the photoresist. The problem was detected late when the wafer yeilds were lower than expected. As it turns out, consequences of the photoresist incident at Fab 14B were more serious than initially calculated by TSMC. There are media reports claiming that between 10,000 and 30,000 wafers were affected and had to be scrapped, but TSMC has never confirmed either of the numbers.

According to media reports, the affected companies include HiSilicon/Huawei, NVIDIA, and MediaTek, but TSMC has not disclosed names of its customers that suffered from the incident. The only thing that TSMC does confirm is that it has already negotiated new delivery scheduled with its customers.

[*] TSMC: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company

Previously: TSMC Fab 14 B hit by Massive Wafer Defection due to Chemical Contamination, 16/12nm Production Line

Original Submission