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Comments:58 | Votes:165

posted by takyon on Thursday June 30, @02:53AM   Printer-friendly
from the another-small-hop-for-two-men dept.

The Daily Mail reports that Solar Impulse 2 has crossed the Atlantic Ocean. The aircraft is propelled by electric motors that receive power from photovoltaic cells and storage batteries. The flight from New York City to Seville took 71 hours.

Previously: Solar Impulse 2 Set for Next Leg in Round-the-World Flight


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posted by takyon on Thursday June 30, @01:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the too-little-too-late dept.

The Independent reports on an article in Nature (full article is paywalled) (DOI: 10.1038/nature18307) in which the effects of the actions to which governments committed themselves at December's Paris climate summit are predicted. The authors estimate "a median warming of 2.6–3.1 degrees Celsius by 2100" if those policies are followed; they say more drastic action will be needed if warming is to be kept to 2 degrees or less.


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posted by martyb on Wednesday June 29, @11:54PM   Printer-friendly
from the joint-initiative dept.

The LA Times reports that the Secretary of State's Office certified that a random sample showed sufficient signatures among the 600,000 petitions turned in to qualify the Legalization of Marijuana initiative for the November 8 election ballot.

The initiative would allow adults ages 21 and older to possess, transport and use up to an ounce of cannabis for recreational purposes and would allow individuals to grow as many as six plants.

California would join Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon as states that allow recreational use of marijuana. Eight other states also have marijuana measures on their ballots this year.

If the random sample of petition qualifies, one would think that the initiative will pass handily. California is a lot more conservative than you might think once you get out of the big cities. But there is no doubt the big cities supplied most of the signature for the petitions. However, this is one issue that may not be decided along party lines, as both sides seem to be gravitating toward legalization.

It might have something to do with the statistics that are starting to filter in from the legalized states.


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posted by janrinok on Wednesday June 29, @10:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the he-could-be-a-she dept.

A new study of the 37,000-year old remains of the "Deep Skull" - the oldest modern human discovered in island South-East Asia - has revealed this ancient person was not related to Indigenous Australians, as had been originally thought. The Deep Skull was also likely to have been an older woman, rather than a teenage boy.

The research, led by UNSW Australia Associate Professor Darren Curnoe, represents the most detailed investigation of the ancient cranium specimen since it was found in Niah Cave in Sarawak in 1958.

"Our analysis overturns long-held views about the early history of this region," says Associate Professor Curnoe, Director of the UNSW Palaeontology, Geobiology and Earth Archives Research Centre (PANGEA). "We've found that these very ancient remains most closely resemble some of the Indigenous people of Borneo today, with their delicately built features and small body size, rather than Indigenous people from Australia."

The study, by Curnoe and researchers from the Sarawak Museum Department and Griffith University, is published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

The Deep Skull was discovered by Tom Harrisson of the Sarawak Museum during excavations at the West Mouth of the great Niah Cave complex and was analysed by prominent British anthropologist Don Brothwell. In 1960, Brothwell concluded the Deep Skull belonged to an adolescent male and represented a population of early modern humans closely related, or even ancestral, to Indigenous Australians, particularly Tasmanians.

"Brothwell's ideas have been highly influential and stood largely untested, so we wanted to see whether they might be correct after almost six decades," says Curnoe. "Our study challenges many of these old ideas. It shows the Deep Skull is from a middle-aged female rather than a teenage boy, and has few similarities to Indigenous Australians. Instead, it more closely resembles people today from more northerly parts of South-East Asia."

[...]

"We need to rethink our ideas about the region's prehistory, which was far more complicated than we've appreciated until now."


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posted by martyb on Wednesday June 29, @08:44PM   Printer-friendly
from the UEFI-and-signatures-FTW dept.

Intel is considering selling its security business as the company tries to focus on delivering chips for cloud computing and connected devices, according to a news report.

The Intel Security business came largely from the company's acquisition for US$7.7 billion of security software company McAfee. Intel announced plans to bake some of the security technology into its chips to ensure higher security for its customers.

With the surge in cyberthreats, providing protection to the variety of Internet-connected devices, such as PCs, mobile devices, medical gear and cars, requires a fundamentally new approach involving software, hardware and services, the company said in February 2011, when announcing the completion of the McAfee acquisition.

Intel has been talking to bankers about the future of its cybersecurity business for a deal that would be one of the largest in the sector ... a group of private equity firms may join together to buy the security business if it is sold at the same price or higher than what Intel paid for it.

[...] The company rebranded its McAfee business as Intel Security in 2014.

The security sector has seen a lot of interest from private equity buyers. Symantec said earlier this month it was acquiring Web security provider Blue Coat for $4.65 billion in cash, in a deal that will see Silver Lake, an investor in Symantec, enhancing its investment in the merged company, and Bain Capital, majority shareholder in Blue Coat, reinvesting $750 million in the business through convertible notes.

Intel said in April that it was cutting 12,000 jobs, or 11 percent of its workforce, by mid-2017 as it tries to evolve from chips for PCs to silicon for data centers and the Internet of Things.


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posted by cmn32480 on Wednesday June 29, @07:02PM   Printer-friendly
from the skynet-in-the-making dept.

El Reg reports

Today's generation of fighter pilots could be the last of their breed, thanks to an [Artificial Intelligence] system dubbed ALPHA that's proving unkillable in air combat.

The US Air Force has just completed dogfighting trials in a simulator, pitching the software against retired Air Force Colonel Gene Lee. The AI--which ran on a $35 Raspberry Pi computer--was deliberately handicapped but still managed to shoot down its fleshy opponent every time and evade his attempts to kill it.

[...] To make the defeat even more humiliating, the ALPHA AI's fighters were deliberately handicapped with shorter-range missiles and fewer of them, and its opponents got additional intelligence from a simulated AWACS radar aircraft.

[...] The key to the software is the use of a "Genetic Fuzzy Tree" algorithm[PDF], which breaks down complex decisions into simpler if/then scenarios and narrows down the possible choices very quickly. The code then works through its plans 250 times faster than a human can blink.


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posted by cmn32480 on Wednesday June 29, @05:14PM   Printer-friendly
from the dash-might-be-a-dud dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Amazon is reportedly trying to attract more consumers to its Dash push-button ordering devices by beefing up the brands offering goods for sale through the gadgets.

The internet retail giant is expected to announce this week the addition of dozens of new brands for Dash buttons, according to a Wall Street Journal report Sunday that cites documents and people familiar with the matter. It wasn't immediately clear which brands might be added to the lineup of Dash buttons, which are small, Internet-connected buttons that people can click to purchase household goods like paper towels or detergent through Amazon.

The new batch of brands comes roughly two months after Amazon unleashed dozens more of them to mark the first anniversary of the tiny widgets in April, tripling the current lineup to surpass 100 different buttons. Because the Dash button was introduced just before April 1, 2015, some reporters wondered if the concept was a joke.

Despite the reinforcements, consumer response to the tiny devices has been tepid, according to one market researcher. In a study released in march, Slice Intelligence found that less than 50 percent of people who bought the buttons actually placed an order with them.


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posted by cmn32480 on Wednesday June 29, @03:38PM   Printer-friendly
from the easing-into-orbit dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Juno is on the seven-day countdown to entering Jovian orbit, and it's going to be a wild ride.

On May 31, the probe crossed the boundary between solar gravity and Jupiter's.

That also marked the start of manoeuvering towards an orbit that's going to take it within 5,000 km of the planet's cloud tops for 37 flybys.

As space probes go, Juno is a hefty beast indeed. Much of its roughly 3,640 kg (8,000 pound) weight is shielding to protect the probe from the radiation of the planet's much-more-intense version of Earth's Van Allen belts.

It's one of the toughest radiation environments in the solar system (Vulture South supposes things are more unpleasant at a similar distance from the Sun).

The shielding around the probe's flight computer alone weighs in at more than 170 kg.

NASA says the excitement will start with a 35-minute burn of its main engine for orbital insertion. That burn will lop 542 metres per second off the probe's velocity.

Orbit insertion and NASA TV commentary begin at 10:30 PM EDT on July 4th.


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posted by martyb on Wednesday June 29, @01:57PM   Printer-friendly
from the NanoMathoTechoNology dept.

Science Daily carries an article about a new approach to cancer treatment (more specifically, cancer treatment resistance):

Every year thousands of patients die from recurrent cancers that have become resistant to therapy, resulting in one of the greatest unsolved challenges in cancer treatment. By tracking the fate of individual cancer cells under pressure of chemotherapy, biologists and bioengineers at Harvard Medical School studied a network of signals and molecular pathways that allow the cells to generate resistance over the course of treatment.

Using this information, a team of applied mathematicians led by Professor Mohammad Kohandel at the University of Waterloo, developed a mathematical model that incorporated algorithms that define the phenotypic cell state transitions of cancer cells in real-time while under attack by an anticancer agent. The mathematical simulations enabled them to define the exact molecular behavior and pathway of signals, which allow cancer cells to survive treatment over time.

[...] The approach the bioengineers took was to build a single nanoparticle, inspired by computer models, that exploit a technique known as supramolecular chemistry. This nanotechnology enables scientists to build cholesterol-tethered drugs together from "tetris-like" building blocks that self-assemble, incorporating multiple drugs into stable, individual nano-vehicles that target tumors through the leaky vasculature. This 2-in-1 strategy ensures that resistance to therapy never has a chance to develop, bringing together the right recipe to destroy surviving cancer cells.

The paper, "Rationally Designed 2-in-1 Nanoparticles Can Overcome Adaptive Resistance in Cancer," (DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b00320) was published online on June 3, 2016 in the leading nanotechnology journal ACS Nano.


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posted by martyb on Wednesday June 29, @12:18PM   Printer-friendly
from the now-only-but-a-memory dept.

Don't count on memristor technology ever making it out of HPE Labs. It has been displaced by 3D XPoint and other competing memory/storage technologies:

Memristor was first reported by HPE Labs eight years ago, as a form of persistent memory. At the time HP Labs Fellow R. Stanley Williams compared it to flash: "It holds its memory longer. It's simpler. It's easier to make - which means it's cheaper - and it can be switched a lot faster, with less energy."

Unfortunately it isn't simpler to make and still isn't here. NVMe SSDs have boosted flash's data access speed, reducing the memory-storage gap, and Intel/Micron's 3D XPoint SSDs will arrive later this year as the first viable productised technology to fill that gap.

WDC's SanDisk unit is working on ReRAM technology for its entry into storage-class memory hardware, and HPE has a partnership with SanDisk over its use. SanDisk foundry partner Toshiba has a ReRAM interest. WDC's HGST unit has been involved with Phase Change Memory. IBM has demonstrated a 3bits/cell Phase Change Memory (PCM) technology. Samsung has no public storage-class memory initiative, although it has been involved in STT-RAM.

The problem for HPE with Memristor is that it would need volume manufacturing to get the cost down. Unless it can sell the potential chips to other server OEMs, it would be the only consumer of Memristor chips and have its servers compete with the XPoint-using OEMs that Intel and Micron are lining up.


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posted by n1 on Wednesday June 29, @12:04PM   Printer-friendly
from the oliver-twist dept.

We have been made aware that there are some problems with our site's automatic notification of subscriptions expiring. We are looking into it. I was surprised to find that mine had run out and suspect that others may be similarly unaware.

Please take a moment to load the Subscription Page and verify your status. We appreciate your support and cannot run this site without it. This is a purely volunteer effort here -- none of the staff receive any financial remuneration for their efforts. Your contributions go entirely to keeping this site running.

Please accept my deep and heartfelt thanks to all of you who contribute to the site in other ways: those who submit stories, post and moderate comments, edit the stories, support our systems, maintain and update the software, and all-round do what they can to make this a community for all of us!

On behalf of all the staff here at SoylentNews, I thank you in advance for your support.


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posted by martyb on Wednesday June 29, @10:32AM   Printer-friendly
from the increased-fines-will-maintain-revenue dept.

Joshua Browder has set up a service that has led users to challenge and overturn over $2.5 million in parking tickets:

An "automated lawyer" chatbot service has successfully challenged and overturned more than $2.5m in parking tickets in New York and London, according to its inventor.

The Do Not Pay service automatically generates an appeal if people fit the criteria to challenge a parking ticket – all publicly available information – and it has been successful an extraordinary 64 per cent of the time, says London-born Stanford student Joshua Browder. Asked about the success rate, he told The Register: "It's not that high. Parking tickets are a multimillion dollar industry. I am just appealing a small fraction of it."

The service is free and leads people through a series of quick questions before firing off a missive to fine-collecting bureaucrats. Not surprisingly, having an artificial intelligence (AI) bot do the legwork for you has been inviting, and over 250,000 appeals have been lodged through it. Demand is such that Browder noted with some irony that his focus on it caused him to get his own parking ticket.


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posted by martyb on Wednesday June 29, @08:49AM   Printer-friendly
from the knowing-how-AND-why dept.

phys.org carries this story:

Convinced that better use of data will improve research, innovation and literacy across other disciplines, six leading statisticians recently published "Ten Simple Rules for Effective Statistical Practice" in the journal PLOS Computational Biology. Part of the popular open access "Ten Simple Rules (TSR)" series, this piece surpassed 51,000 views in only two weeks.

Authors Nancy Reid, of the University of Toronto, Rob Kass of Carnegie Mellon University, Brian Caffo of Johns Hopkins University, Marie Davidian of North Carolina State University, Xiao-Li Meng of Harvard University, and Bin Yu of the University of California, Berkeley, advise practitioners to first "treat statistics as a science, not a recipe."

In furthering this point, the authors stressed the need for researchers across various fields of science to avoid misperceptions and inaccurate claims resulting from faulty statistical reasoning. Grappling with such subtle phenomena requires principled statistical analysis, affirm the authors, who encourage researchers to consider statistics "a language constructed to assist this process, with probability as its grammar."

[...] Meng notes "sound statistical practices require a bit of science, engineering, and arts, and hence some general guidelines for helping practitioners to develop statistical insights and acumen are in order. No rules, simple or not, can be 100% applicable or foolproof, but that's the very essence that I find this is a useful exercise. It reminds practitioners that good statistical practices require far more than running software or an algorithm."

Here is a link to the "Ten Simple Rules" collection at PLOS.


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posted by martyb on Wednesday June 29, @07:07AM   Printer-friendly
from the helps-AND-hinders dept.

Scientists at Emory Vaccine Center, in collaboration with investigators from Thailand, have found that people infected with dengue virus develop antibodies that cross-react with Zika virus.

Some of these antibodies have the potential to neutralize Zika virus -- possibly providing immune protection. At the same time, in laboratory experiments, antibodies against dengue could enhance Zika virus infection of human cells.

The results are scheduled for publication on Monday, June 27 in PNAS.

Zika virus is similar genetically to dengue virus and part of the same flavivirus family. They are both transmitted by Aedes mosquitos. Dengue is endemic in several countries currently experiencing Zika outbreak, leading to proposals that pre-existing dengue immunity is influencing the severity of the Zika epidemic.

"There are really two sides of the coin here: both cross-neutralization and antibody-dependent enhancement," says Jens Wrammert, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics (infectious diseases) at Emory University School of Medicine and Emory Vaccine Center. "We find antibody-mediated enhancement of infection with cells in the laboratory, but we have yet to clarify what effects these antibodies have on the outcome of infection in humans."

"Zika immune responses and disease severity may be different in dengue-endemic areas, or among dengue-experienced vs dengue-naïve groups. These factors must be taken into account when doing Zika vaccine or other clinical studies."

There are four strains of dengue virus, and infection with one strain does not lead to long-lasting immunity against the other three. In fact, secondary infection with a different strain can increase the risk of developing a more severe illness, called dengue hemorrhagic fever.

This is thought to happen through "antibody-dependent enhancement": pre-existing antibodies to the first strain, unable to stop the secondary infection, instead bind to immune cells and help the new strain infect them.

Emory scientists found that a similar phenomenon occurs with Zika. Antibodies obtained from nine dengue-infected patients at Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok -- both during acute infection and after recovery -- could help Zika virus (a strain isolated in 2015 from Puerto Rico) infect immune cells in cell culture.

From Science daily ; see also the original Emery University publication.


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posted by martyb on Wednesday June 29, @05:19AM   Printer-friendly
from the Smile-for-the-Camera? dept.

An interesting blog post on sucuri.net describes a DDoS using CCTV devices:

Our security operations team investigate and mitigate multiple denial of service (DDoS) attacks every single day. One recent case caught our attention because of the intensity and duration of the attack, and -- as we discovered through some research -- how it was being done. In this article, we'll share the specifics in an effort to track down the vulnerable devices...

The post continues:

It is not new that attackers have been using IoT devices to start their DDoS campaigns, however, we have not analyzed one that leveraged only CCTV devices and was still able to generate this quantity of requests for so long.

As we extracted the geo-location from the IP addresses generating the DDoS, we noticed that they were coming from all over the world, different countries and networks. A total of 25,513 unique IP addresses came within a couple of hours.

[...] As we dug deeper into each of these IP addresses, we learned that all of them were running the "Cross Web Server" and had a similar default HTTP page with the "DVR Components" title.

This is what raised our suspicious of a IoT botnet that was leveraging some CCTVs as part of the attack. As we kept looking, we found the company logos from the resellers and manufactures on all IP addresses.

The common thread turned out to be that all of the devices were running BusyBox, software that provides several stripped-down Unix tools in a single executable file. [Wikipedia] Sucuri conjectures: "It seems like they might have been hacked via a recently disclosed RCE vulnerability in CCTV-DVR (this is unconfirmed)."

Also covered at Ars Technica and SiliconANGLE.


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