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Effective: 2016-January to 2016-June

Updated: 2016-05-09

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posted by cmn32480 on Tuesday May 24, @06:31PM   Printer-friendly
from the I-can't-heeeeeeeaaaaaar-yooooouuuuuuuuu dept.

If you live in Waco, Texas, your neighbor maneuvering a gas lawn mower in the middle of the night likely wouldn't violate the decibel limit, which is eight times louder than the typical nighttime limit in the United States.

The large difference is just one example of the diversity of laws regulating noise throughout the United States. The Noise Pollution Clearinghouse, a national non-profit based in Vermont that gathers noise related resources and advocates for quieter public spaces, has now compiled a database of noise ordinances for nearly 500 of the largest communities in the U.S. The goal is to make it easier for researchers and lawmakers to understand what regulations exist and which ones work the best.

"I've analyzed ordinances from 491 communities so far," said Les Blomberg, executive director of the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse. He will present his database at the 171st meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, held May 23-27 in Salt Lake City, by which time he hopes to have gotten up to at least 500 communities.

Noise pollution doesn't get much press in modern society, but it does affect many citizens. In New York City, for example, noise complaints are among top calls to the 311 city information line. Even in rural places, semi-trucks' "jake brakes" can shatter the supposed peace and quiet.

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posted by cmn32480 on Tuesday May 24, @04:45PM   Printer-friendly
from the some-art,-some-science,-and-a-whole-lotta-black-magic dept.

According to many Metallica devotees, the official version of the band's 2008 record Death Magnetic is not the one worth listening to. Upon the album's release, fan forums exploded in disgust, choked with complaints that the songs sounded shrill, distorted, ear-splitting. These listeners liked the music and the songwriting, but everything was so loud they couldn't really hear anything. There was no nuance. Their ears hurt. And these are Metallica fans—people ostensibly undeterred by extremity. But this was too much.

The consensus seemed to be that Death Magnetic was a good record that sounded like shit. That the whole thing was drastically over-compressed, eliminating any sort of dynamic range. That it had been ruined in mastering. Eventually, more than 12,000 fans signed a petition in protest of the "unlistenable" product, and a mass mail-back-a-thon of CDs commenced. The whole episode provoked a series of questions, not just about what had gone wrong with Death Magnetic but about the craft in question: What is mastering, exactly? How does it work? Beyond the engineers themselves, almost no one seems to know.

An article on sound engineering, but the real question is, people listened to Metallica after 2000?

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posted by cmn32480 on Tuesday May 24, @03:04PM   Printer-friendly
from the lightweight,-cheap,-and-strong dept.

A team at DoE ORNL has developed a process that can join carbon fiber parts together using a laser:

Joining carbon fiber composites and aluminum for lightweight cars and other multi-material high-end products could become less expensive and the joints more robust because of a new method that harnesses a laser's power and precision.

The process, developed by a team led by Adrian Sabau of the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, would replace the practice of preparing the surface of the materials by hand using abrasive pads, grit blasting and environmentally harmful solvents. Using a laser to remove layers of material from surfaces prior to bonding improves the performance of the joints and provides a path toward automation for high-volume use.

"Our technique is vastly superior to the conventional surface preparation methods," Sabau said. "Combined with the potentially dramatic reduction in the cost of carbon fiber polymer composites, this represents an important step toward increasing the use of this lightweight high-strength material in automobiles, which could reduce the weight of cars and trucks by 750 pounds."

[...] Sabau will present the team's findings at The Society for the Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering conference May 23-26 in Long Beach, California (

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posted by cmn32480 on Tuesday May 24, @01:28PM   Printer-friendly
from the keep-it-open dept.

Here's something you might be interested in if you live near San Francisco:

The first Decentralized Web Summit is a call for dreamers and builders who believe we can lock the Web open for good. This goal of the Summit (June 8) and Meetup featuring lightning talks and workshops (June 9) is to spark collaboration and take concrete steps to create a better Web.

[...] Current builders of decentralized technologies will be on hand to share their visions of how we can build a fully decentralized Web. The founders and builders of IPFS, the Dat Project, WebTorrent, Tahoe-LAFS, zcash,, BitTorrent, Ethereum, BigChainDB, Blockstack, Interledger, Mediachain, MaidSafe, Storj and others will present their technologies and answer questions. If you have a project or workshop to share on June 9, we'd love to hear from you at

[...] Wednesday, June 8, 2016 at 8:00 AM – Thursday, June 9, 2016 at 8:00 PM

Internet Archive, 300 Funston Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94118

Please register on our Eventbrite (limit 250 participants on June 8).

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posted by cmn32480 on Tuesday May 24, @11:47AM   Printer-friendly
from the it's-not-just-a-phone-anymore dept.

A new kind of Apple Store is opening on Saturday.

Across the street from the iconic San Francisco store, Apple is opening a new flagship aimed at being more than just a store. The trademark 42-foot glass doors will open to a kind of Apple-designed public forum, with a conference room, advice for small businesses, concerts, and a layout that blurs the line between inside and outside.

"This is not just a store," Angela Ahrendts, Apple's senior vice president of retail and online stores, said in a Thursday press release. "We want people to say, 'Hey, meet me at Apple.... Did you see what's going on at Apple?"

Apple is not the first business to engaged in an aesthetic revamp for physical store locations. More and more large companies have taken a designer's eye to rebuilding or in some cases building stores to for greater aesthetics, layout, and convenience.

What would you do if you had $100 billion in cash sitting in the bank?

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posted by cmn32480 on Tuesday May 24, @10:01AM   Printer-friendly
from the your-heart-just-isn't-in-it dept.

The Register runs an interesting story about the Fitbit's accuracy:

Scientists have tested a pair of wearable fitness gadgets from Fitbit and found they get heart rates wrong by as much as 25 beats per minute. The study (PDF) was commissioned by law firm Lieff Cabraser, which is running a class action against Fitbit over inaccurate heart rate readings.

Not only is this a dangerous flaw, but imagine what happens to your insurance when wrong numbers are propagated in the system.

The results are not only scary, but dangerous as well for those who rely on non-medical equipment's data:

This study will scare the many athletes - serious competitors and weekend warriors alike – who aim to train at certain heart rates. If the devices over-report heart rates, users will have trained at lower heart rates than they wanted to achieve. If the devices under-report, users may be straining to reach heart rates beyond their optimal peak levels. Which can end badly.

Previously: On Fitbits, Their Accuracy, and Required Usage at Oral Roberts University

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posted by cmn32480 on Tuesday May 24, @08:16AM   Printer-friendly
from the shopping-in-the-future,-today! dept.

In Chinese Internet and text slang, "520" means "I love you". Naturally, there's a lot of romantic gift-giving going on come May 20. This weekend Taobao, an Alibaba-owned online marketplace similar to Amazon, encouraged people to shop via VR headset by offering interactions with a virtual boyfriend or girlfriend.

To enter this brave new world of digital love, Chinese buyers needed the Taobao app and a VR headset such as Samsung's Gear VR. They simply needed to scan this QR code and then they'd be whisked off to choose their cyber soul-mate.

Customers were offered two choices: "boyfriend" or "girlfriend", the former played by popular Chinese actor Yang Yang, the latter by actress Dilraba. They would interact with buyers in various prerecorded point-of-view videos, wherein they would wake the user up and even make them breakfast.

This was a move by Alibaba to get more people on board with its new VR video player, developed by subsidiary GnomeMagic. The Chinese giant isn't the only e-commerce company hoping to get buyers in the VR realm, with eBay recently partnering with Australian department store Myer to sell 12,500 products through a VR store.

Has anyone from Taobao gone shopping with an acquisitive girlfriend or boyfriend before?

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posted by cmn32480 on Tuesday May 24, @06:29AM   Printer-friendly
from the no-big-shock dept.

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

A California man is suing Facebook for allegedly scanning the content of private messages sent between users of the site.

The suit alleges that Facebook scans the messages in search of hyperlinks sent between users. "If there is a link to a web page contained in that message, Facebook treats it as a 'like' of the page, and increases the page's 'like,' counter by one," the suit contends. The site tracks when users "like" pages in order to compile individual profiles that allow third parties to send targeted advertisements.


Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Tuesday May 24, @04:42AM   Printer-friendly
from the reinventing-one's-self dept.

When Michael Vaudreuil's college classmates were in the library studying together at night, he was wiping down chalkboards and picking up their trash.

But this weekend, donning a black cap and gown, he stood with them not as a 54-year-old college custodian but as a fellow undergraduate.

It was 2008, the year of the economic downturn, when Vaudreuil filed for bankruptcy, his house was foreclosed on and his car repossessed. His thriving 24-year plastering business had ground to a halt as the economy waned.

Months earlier, in May 2007, a typically busy time for construction work, he sat home for two weeks without any jobs lined up, the first time that had ever happened in all the years he'd been an independent contractor. It was an early indication that hard times were ahead. By fall, he tried to find a steady job with a construction company but by then no one was hiring. And now he no longer had the extra income to support his wife's entrepreneurial effort — a coffee vending machine business — so that went under too.

Dunno what other Soylentils think, but this feels different in the year 2016 than it might have felt in the year 1990...

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posted by cmn32480 on Tuesday May 24, @02:54AM   Printer-friendly
from the facts-and-debate dept.

Robert Zubrin, president of Mars Society has penned an extremely articulate article excoriating climate change proponents that want to prosecute scientists for their anti-catastrophic beliefs. He methodically addresses all their arguments, leaving nothing open to imagination. From the article:

Recently, the attorneys general of a number of states have launched an effort to use the RICO anti–​organized-crime statute to prosecute opponents of climate-change alarmism. This is nothing less than an all-out attack on science.

[...] To attempt to prevail in a scientific dispute through the use of force is equivalent to the use of a gun to prevail in a courtroom, or, for that matter, of rape to prevail in courtship. It is nothing less than a criminal rejection of a basic principle of our civilization.

[...] No valid scientific theory has ever required the use of police powers to prevail. No Ptolemaist was ever burned at the stake by Copernicans, nor did the relativity theorists ever find the need to round up the hard-core Newtonians or Etherite dead-enders. Even such counterintuitive theories as quantum mechanics and the Big Bang have done just fine without the assistance of Gestapo raids directed against their detractors. In the courtroom of science, if you have the facts on your side, you don't need a gun — and juries would be well advised to distrust the case of those parties who choose to use weapons to silence adversarial witnesses.

The article is long and worth reading carefully, every single word is measured in platinum, as we step into the future.

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posted by cmn32480 on Tuesday May 24, @01:11AM   Printer-friendly
from the it's-all-great-until-the-emp dept.

As you're brushing your teeth in the morning you monitor a digital display mirror that shows all your relevant information for the day: Schedule of appointments, weather and battery levels of all your devices, including your phone and BMW i3 electric car in the garage.

As you walk into your kitchen and turn on your coffee machine, that's the cue your car has been waiting for to turn itself on and begin to warm up. Time to go: With a swipe on your touch-enabled car key, the vehicle detaches from its charging unit, pulls out of the garage and up to your front door. It's already calculated the best route to your first appointment, taking into account traffic and weather.

While driving the car detects other vehicles on the roadway and communicates with them, staying the perfect distance away for safety and efficiency. Each passing car relays its coordinates, which your car analyzes to calculate the threat of a crash potential. On uphill climbs that the car has identified in its three-dimensional topographical navigation system, the car devotes additional electric power to the engine to help conserve gasoline. At the crest of the hill, the battery power turns off so that it's ready to regenerate during braking on the downhill descent.

We've seen this film before, haven't we, where you can drive through special lanes at restaurants to pick up meals you can eat in your car, and cruise effortlessly in and out of comfortable hotel rooms at the end of a day's pleasure driving? There were others, too, about the wonderful promise of atomic power for everyone.

Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Monday May 23, @11:29PM   Printer-friendly
from the have-a-heart dept.

The gene Oct4 is being investigating for its role in preventing heart attacks and strokes, as well as possible applications in regenerative medicine:

University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered that a gene called Oct4 — which scientific dogma insists is inactive in adults — actually plays a vital role in preventing ruptured atherosclerotic plaques inside blood vessels, the underlying cause of most heart attacks and strokes.

The researchers found that Oct4 controls the conversion of smooth muscle cells into protective fibrous "caps" inside plaques, making the plaques less likely to rupture. They also discovered that the gene promotes many changes in gene expression that are beneficial in stabilizing the plaques. In addition, the researchers believe it may be possible to develop drugs or other therapeutic agents that target the Oct4 pathway as a way to reduce the incidence of heart attacks or stroke.

The researchers are also currently testing Oct4′s possible role in repairing cellular damage and healing wounds, which would make it useful for regenerative medicine.

Activation of the pluripotency factor OCT4 in smooth muscle cells is atheroprotective (DOI: 10.1038/nm.4109)

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posted by takyon on Monday May 23, @09:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the vietclient dept.

In historic move, U.S. lifts embargo on arms sales to Vietnam

The Obama administration announced Monday that the United States would fully lift a longstanding U.S. embargo on lethal arms sales to Vietnam, a decision that reflects growing concerns about China's military clout and illustrates the warming bilateral ties between the former enemy nations.

President Obama unveiled the new arrangement at a news conference with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang during the opening day of his first visit to the country. Obama emphasized that his decision reflected a maturing relationship and deepening cooperation on security and economic investment four decades after the end of the Vietnam War.

taykon: I noticed the WaPost paywall has kicked in for me as well. This news is also at BBC, TIME, CNN, and Reuters.

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posted by cmn32480 on Monday May 23, @08:16PM   Printer-friendly
from the there-is-a-joke-here-someplace dept.

Sexual conflict between males and females can lead to changes in the shape of their genitals, according to research on burying beetles by scientists at the University of Exeter.

The study, published in the journal Evolution, provides new evidence that conflict over how often mating takes place can lead to males evolving longer penis-like organs and females larger 'claws' on their genitalia, within ten generations.

Genital shape varies enormously across the animal kingdom compared, for instance, to body shape. One reason for this may be that the shapes of male and female genitalia co-evolve as a result of sexual conflict. Dr Megan Head, one of the authors of the new study said: "It takes two to tango, so when changes in shape in one sex leads to corresponding changes in the other sex this is known as co-evolution."

Mixed results: males have longer penises, females have claws on their vaginas. Which part of that is bad is left as an exercise for the reader.

Selection on an antagonistic behavioral trait can drive rapid genital coevolution in the burying beetle, Nicrophorus vespilloides (open, DOI: 10.1111/evo.12938)

Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Monday May 23, @06:29PM   Printer-friendly
from the it's-just-a-big-hole-in-the-ground dept.

A Southwest Research Institute-led team of scientists discovered two geologically young craters—one 16 million, the other between 75 and 420 million, years old—in the Moon's darkest regions.

"These 'young' impact craters are a really exciting discovery," said SwRI Senior Research Scientist Dr. Kathleen Mandt, who outlined the findings in a paper published by the journal Icarus. "Finding geologically young craters and honing in on their age helps us understand the collision history in the solar system."

Key to this discovery was the SwRI-developed Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) instrument aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). LAMP uses the far-ultraviolet Lyman-alpha band skyglow and light from ultraviolet-bright stars LAMP to "see" in the dark and image the permanently shaded regions of the Moon. Using LAMP and LRO's Mini-RF radar data, the team mapped the floors of very large, deep craters near the lunar south pole. These deep craters are difficult to study because sunlight never illuminates them directly. Tiny differences in reflectivity, or albedo, measured by LAMP allowed scientists to discover these two craters and estimate their ages.

Not sure how Linux-Apache-MySQL-PHP (LAMP) helps planetary scientists understand collision history in the solar system, but hat's off to them for doing so.

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