2018-07-01 00:00:00 ..
2018-12-06 13:46:56 UTC
2018-12-07 12:02:58 UTC
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The FCC is considering classifying texts as an information service in order to give carriers more tools to fight automated messages and spam texts. However, the Senators don't see the need. The Telecom Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) already requires senders to get permission from a receiver before sending an automated text. Additionally, there is concern that carriers might block legitimate bulk messages. Verizon did so in 2007 when it stopped women's rights advocacy group Naral Pro-Choice America from sending a mass text to its members because the content was considered controversial.
Here is the original letter (pdf).
Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984
The venom of insects such as wasps and bees is full of compounds that can kill bacteria. Unfortunately, many of these compounds are also toxic for humans, making it impossible to use them as antibiotic drugs.
After performing a systematic study of the antimicrobial properties of a toxin normally found in a South American wasp, researchers at MIT have now created variants of the peptide that are potent against bacteria but nontoxic to human cells.
In a study of mice, the researchers found that their strongest peptide could completely eliminate Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a strain of bacteria that causes respiratory and other infections and is resistant to most antibiotics.
When Microsoft announced that its Edge browser would be revamped using Chromium, the internet's response was generally quite positive. Edge is far from the worst browser on the planet, but it's certainly not what we'd call a fan favorite. As such, even the slightest indication that it could be changed significantly would have been welcome news for many.
However, it would seem that "many" doesn't include one individual in particular: Mozilla CEO Chris Beard. In a blog post published today, titled "Goodbye, EdgeHTML," Beard expressed his frustrations with Microsoft's decision.
"By adopting Chromium, Microsoft hands over control of even more of online life to Google," Beard writes in the post. "This may sound melodramatic, but it's not. The "browser engines" — Chromium from Google and Gecko Quantum from Mozilla — are "inside baseball" pieces of software that actually determine a great deal of what each of us can do online."
Microsoft's switch to Chromium could be a big boon for Google's own implementation.
A simple device that can capture its own weight in water from fresh air and then release that water when warmed by sunlight could provide a secure new source of drinking water in remote arid regions, new research from KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science & Technology) suggests.
At the heart of the device is the cheap, stable, nontoxic salt, calcium chloride. This deliquescent salt has such a high affinity for water that it will absorb so much vapor from the surrounding air that eventually a pool of liquid forms.
The full research paper is available on-line.
Imagine not having to charge your phone or laptop for weeks. That is the dream of researchers looking into alternative batteries that go beyond the current lithium-ion versions popular today. Now, in a new study appearing in the journal Science, chemists at several institutions, including Caltech and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed by Caltech for NASA, as well as the Honda Research Institute and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, have hit on a new way of making rechargeable batteries based on fluoride, the negatively charged form, or anion, of the element fluorine.
"Fluoride batteries can have a higher energy density, which means that they may last longer -- up to eight times longer than batteries in use today," says study co-author Robert Grubbs, Caltech's Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry and a winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. "But fluoride can be challenging to work with, in particular because it's so corrosive and reactive."
In the 1970s, researchers attempted to create rechargeable fluoride batteries using solid components, but solid-state batteries work only at high temperatures, making them impractical for everyday use. In the new study, the authors report at last figuring out how to make the fluoride batteries work using liquid components -- and liquid batteries easily work at room temperature. "We are still in the early stages of development, but this is the first rechargeable fluoride battery that works at room temperature," says Simon Jones, a chemist at JPL and corresponding author of the new study.
[...] The key to making the fluoride batteries work in a liquid rather than a solid state turned out to be an electrolyte liquid called bis(2,2,2-trifluoroethyl)ether, or BTFE. This solvent is what helps keep the fluoride ion stable so that it can shuttle electrons back and forth in the battery. Jones says his intern at the time, Victoria Davis, who now studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, was the first to think of trying BTFE. While Jones did not have much hope it would succeed, the team decided to try it anyway and were surprised it worked so well.
Room Temperature Cycling of Metal Fluoride Electrodes: Liquid Electrolytes for High Energy Fluoride-Ion Cells (DOI: 10.1126/science.aat7070) (DX)
In response to the news of what's going on in Australia, Derek Zimmer over at Private Internet Access' blog covers split key cryptography and why government back doors don't/won't/can't work. Attempts to regulate cryptography have been going on for a long while and each try has failed. He starts with recent history, the cold war, and follows through to the latest attempts to stifle encryption. These past failures give a foundation which can be applied to the current situation in hopes of understanding why cryptographers around the world are universally against these kinds of schemes.
The new proposal touted by the NSA, GCHQ, The Australian government and others is a simple evolution of Key Escrow. The proposal is key escrow with split-key cryptography, which is just key escrow with extra steps. There is still a "Golden Key" that can decrypt all messages from a particular service, but this time, two or more entities have pieces of that key. The concept, popularized by a Microsoft researcher, is said to solve the problem of abuse, because all parties have to agree to decrypt the messages.
Earlier on SN:
Australia Set to Pass Controversial Encryption Law
Apple Speaks Out Against Australian Anti-Encryption Law; Police Advised Not to Trigger Face ID
When's A Backdoor Not A Backdoor? When The Oz Government Says It Isn't
Australian Government Pursues "Golden Key" for Encryption
Altria hopes pot is the key to help it grow beyond its stagnant cigarette business. Tobacco giant Altira is investing $1.8 billion in Canadian cannabis company Cronos Group. That will give Altria a 45% stake in the company, with an option for Altria to increase its stake to 55% over the next five years. Reports of an Altria-Cronos deal first surfaced earlier this week. The decision by Altria to go ahead with an investment in Cronos shows that Altria is serious about investing in marijuana as a new growth area as sales of traditional cigarettes slow. Altria's stock has fallen nearly 25% this year and the company is expected to report revenue growth of only about 1% this year and in 2019.
[...] Cronos and other cannabis stocks have been thrust into the spotlight in the past few months following the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada in October, as well as legalized recreational and medical pot in several US states last month. With Democrats winning control of the US House, Congress may finally pass the Farm Bill, which would make it legal to produce hemp and potentially open the door for more products containing cannabidiol, or CBD. Many alcoholic beverage, tobacco and other consumer products companies may want to bet on cannabis. Canadian marijuana company Canopy Growth (CGC) already has received a multibillion dollar investment from Corona owner Constellation Brands (STZ). Coca-Cola (KO) was rumored to be considering an investment in Canadian cannabis company Aurora (ACB). [...] Coke's archrival Pepsi (PEP) hasn't completely ruled out a move into cannabis.
It's official: Big Tobacco is now a player in the cannabis market. That will change the game.
Previously: Another Major Beermaker is Looking at Ways to Enter the Cannabis Business
Coca-Cola Is Eyeing the Cannabis Market
Peter Thiel's Cannabis Company Was Briefly Worth More Than Twitter
Cannabis Becomes Legal in Canada
A report posted to PLoS|ONE suggests low-calorie sweetener use may not be an effective means of weight control. The full article is available at that link; here is the abstract:
Low-calorie sweetener use for weight control has come under increasing scrutiny as obesity, especially abdominal obesity, remain entrenched despite substantial low-calorie sweetener use. We evaluated whether chronic low-calorie sweetener use is a risk factor for abdominal obesity.
Participants and Methods
We used 8268 anthropometric measurements and 3096 food diary records with detailed information on low-calorie sweetener consumption in all food products, from 1454 participants (741 men, 713 women) in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging collected from 1984 to 2012 with median follow-up of 10 years (range: 0–28 years). At baseline, 785 were low-calorie sweetener non-users (51.7% men) and 669 participants were low-calorie sweetener users (50.1% men). Time-varying low-calorie sweetener use was operationalized as the proportion of visits since baseline at which low-calorie sweetener use was reported. We used marginal structural models to determine the association between baseline and time-varying low-calorie sweetener use with longitudinal outcomes—body mass index, waist circumference, obesity and abdominal obesity—with outcome status assessed at the visit following low-calorie sweetener ascertainment to minimize the potential for reverse causality. All models were adjusted for year of visit, age, sex, age by sex interaction, race, current smoking status, dietary intake (caffeine, fructose, protein, carbohydrate, and fat), physical activity, diabetes status, and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension score as confounders.
With median follow-up of 10 years, low-calorie sweetener users had 0.80 kg/m2 higher body mass index (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.17–1.44), 2.6 cm larger waist circumference (95% CI, 0.71–4.39), 36.7% higher prevalence (prevalence ratio = 1.37; 95% CI, 1.10–1.69) and 53% higher incidence (hazard ratio = 1.53; 95% CI 1.10–2.12) of abdominal obesity than low-calorie sweetener non-users.
Low-calorie sweetener use is independently associated with heavier relative weight, a larger waist, and a higher prevalence and incidence of abdominal obesity suggesting that low-calorie sweetener use may not be an effective means of weight control.
I'm curious if there was a difference in outcome based on which low-calorie sweetener was used. Here they lumped (pun intended) them all together:
Low-calorie sweetener consumption was noted when consumption of food or drink containing low-calorie sweetener (aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame potassium, or sucralose) was recorded in the dietary record. This collection method identified low-calorie sweeteners found in all food products, not just diet soda.
Separately, does anyone know if the use of artificial sweeteners reduces the risk of dental cavities?
The arrest of one of China's leading tech executives by the Canadian police for extradition to the United States has unleashed a combustible torrent of outrage and alarm among affluent and influential Chinese, posing a delicate political test for President Xi Jinping and his grip on the loyalty of the nation's elite.
The outpouring of conflicting sentiments — some Chinese have demanded a boycott of American products while others have expressed anxiety about their investments in the United States — underscores the unusual, politically charged nature of the Trump administration's latest move to counter China's drive for technological superiority.
In a hearing on Friday in Vancouver, Canadian prosecutors said the executive, Meng Wanzhou of the Chinese telecom giant Huawei, faced accusations of participating in a scheme to trick financial institutions into making transactions that violated United States sanctions against Iran.
Unlike a new round of tariffs or more tough rhetoric from American officials, the detention of Ms. Meng, the company's chief financial officer, appears to have driven home the intensifying rivalry between the United States and China in a visceral way for the Chinese establishment — and may force Mr. Xi to adopt a tougher stance against Washington, analysts said. In part, that is because Ms. Meng, 46, is so embedded in that establishment herself.
Related: New Law Bans U.S. Government from Buying Equipment from Chinese Telecom Giants ZTE and Huawei
Australia Bans China's Huawei (and maybe ZTE) from 5G Mobile Network Project
Washington Asks Allies to Drop Huawei
A Seattle woman rinsed her sinuses with tap water. A year later, she died of a brain-eating amoeba. Her case is reported this week in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases [open, DOI: 10.1016/j.ijid.2018.09.013] [DX].
The 69-year-old, whose name was not given, had a lingering sinus infection. For a month, she tried to get rid of it using a neti pot with tap water instead of using sterile water, as is recommended. Neti pots are used to pour saline into one nostril and out of the other to irrigate the sinuses, usually to fight allergies or infections.
According to the doctors who treated the woman, the non-sterile water that she used it thought to have contained Balamuthia mandrillaris, an amoeba that over the course of weeks to months can cause a very rare and almost always fatal infection in the brain.
A Google training exercise that went wrong meant a dummy advert was placed on a "huge number" of webpages and apps, the Financial Times has reported. The mistake meant a blank yellow rectangle was active on the sites and apps for about 45 minutes on 4 December, it said. The ad was only visible to people in the US and Australia.
The mistake happened when trainees were being shown how to use Google's in-house ad placing system.
[...] The advert was placed at a far higher rate of return than any other ad and was routed through several third-party exchanges, so it reached a wide audience. [...] [Google] added that it would "honour" any payments to publishers which they incurred as a result of the mistake.
After VW was outed for falsifying environmental data in its cars hundreds of thousand of VW vehicles were taken off the road now sitting in storage sites. Hundreds of thousands of cars now lie in lots in the Mojave Desert, a shuttered suburban Detroit football stadium, and a former Minnesota paper mill in America alone. These vehicles are now in the open slowly breaking down with pollutants entering the environment. Is the the modern cost of corporate greed? What can we do to ensure this never happens again?
Dr Colombano told Califoria's SETI-backed Decoding Alien Intelligence Workshop back in March that scientists need to broaden their idea of what an extra-terrestrial would like like.
'I simply want to point out the fact that the intelligence we might find and that might choose to find us (if it hasn't already) might not be at all be produced by carbon based organisms like us,' his report read.
He added that scientists must 're-visit even our most cherished assumptions', which has implications for everything from an alien's lifespan to its height.
'The size of the 'explorer' might be that of an extremely tiny super-intelligent entity,' he says.
Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984
Oath, the Verizon subsidiary that owns the Yahoo and AOL digital media brands, has announced that as of December 17, all adult content will be banned from the Tumblr blogging site. Any still or moving images displaying real-life human genitals or female nipples and any content—even drawn or computer-generated artwork—depicting any sexual acts will be prohibited.
Genitals and female nipples will only be permitted within the context of breastfeeding, childbirth, and in health-related subjects such as gender confirmation surgery. Written erotica will also remain on the site.
Nowadays, pornography represents a substantial element of Tumblr's content. A 2013 estimate said that around 11 percent of the site's 200,000 most-visited domains were porn, and some 22 percent of inbound links were from adult sites.
Scientists long believed that Earth's lower mantle was composed of Bridgmanite (Mg,Fe)SiO3 and magnesiowüstite (Mg,Fe)O, in which Fe2+ dwells. This view changed when experiments showed that Fe2+ simply can't exist at the pressure and temperature of the lower mantle. What is present is Fe3+. The two phases (Mg,Fe)SiO3 and (Mg,Fe)O both shed Fe2+ and, in turn, MgSiO3 and MgO remain. However, what mineral hosts Fe3+ had remained unknown.
Now, scientists have a possible answer: Maohokite, a newly discovered high-pressure mineral. It may be what composes the Earth's lower mantle along with Bridgmanite MgSiO3 and magnesiowüstite MgO. The study reporting this new mineral was published in Meteoritics & Planetary Science.
[...] Maohokite, with a composition of MgFe2O4, has an orthorhombic CaFe2O4-type structure. The existing mineralogical model of the Earth's mantle shows that the ferromagnesian lower mantle is mainly composed of Bridgmanite (Mg,Fe)SiO3 and magnesiowüstite (Mg,Fe)O. Therefore, the fact that Maohokite contains Mg and Fe, two major components of the lower mantle, only makes the case stronger that Maokohite is a key mineral in the lower mantle.
The researchers were under a lot of pressure to produce this result.