Effective: 2016-June to 2016-December
Updated by: NCommander
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The Spirit rover on Mars found some interesting rock formations in the Gusev crater. A NASA scientist has just published a paper suggesting that these silica deposits could have been formed by biological activity.
"This mineral, opaline silica, can form in various ways," said Steve Ruff, the planetary scientist at Arizona State University who led the recent study. "It can form around a hot spring or geyser, or in fumaroles," he added, referring to the steaming vents around volcanoes that spew hot, sulfur-rich gases into the air.
Initially, Ruff and his colleagues suspected Spirit's opaline silica deposits formed billions of years ago, from basaltic rocks that were leached by sulfuric acid pouring out of fumaroles. But as they continued to analyze Spirit's data, the scientists began to favor another possibility: opaline silicate precipitating out of hot, mineral-rich waters. After Spirit became stuck in a rut in 2009, and died in 2010, there was no way prove one scenario or the other.
A few years back, Ruff got a new lead. Reading a volcanology paper, he came across a reference to El Tatio, a vast Chilean hydrothermal system located 14,000 feet above sea level, where hot spring and geyser channels contain deposits of opaline silica. Excitingly, many of the silica deposits at El Tatio bore striking similarity to those in Gusev crater, and the cold, arid environment seemed pretty Mars-like, too.
To learn more about what's shaping opaline silica minerals on Earth, Ruff and his colleague Jack Farmer traveled to El Tatio to survey the environment and collect samples for spectral analysis and high-resolution imaging. They learned that silica minerals at El Tatio form in shallow, hydrothermal waters—and that the deposits most closely resembling the Martian ones occur in the presence of microbes.
Full Paper: Silica deposits on Mars with features resembling hot spring biosignatures at El Tatio in Chile DOI: 10.1038/ncomms13554
Two university students and their professor have created smartphone software that allows people with hand tremors to use touchscreens accurately.
According to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem 11 million people have cerebral palsy globally, an additional 10 million have Parkinson's Disease and with an aging population there is growing demand for a solution.
It was a situation noted by two of the university's students - Aviva Dayan and Ido Elad - and their Professor Yuval Kochman who went on to develop a potentially "life-changing", but yet-to-be-named, tremor absorbing software which could open up touchscreen technology to millions of people.
[...] Dayan describes the software as a "translation programme" which intercepts and "listens" to the shaky screen touches, cancelling out the "noise" of the tremors for the operating system to understand and act upon without delay.
[...] Dayan says: "As far as the user is concerned, they just press the icons on the screen, and the computer works just the same as it works for anyone else."
This looks to be an invaluable piece of software to keep older people connected to their friends and family.
A team of researchers at Peking University has developed a new type of vaccine that they claim may allow for a new approach to generating live virus vaccines which could conceivably be adapted to any type of virus. In their paper published in the journal Science, the team outlines the means by which they modified an influenza virus causing it to incite an immune response without a risk of infection.
Most vaccines today contain viruses that have been killed or weakened to the point that they are unlikely to cause an infection when injected into a healthy patient. Such vaccines work by causing the immune system to target similar viruses if found in the body before they have a chance to multiply, causing an infection. Unfortunately, in some cases, people with weak immune systems have found themselves experiencing a full-blown infection from a vaccine. In this new effort, the researchers took a new approach to creating a vaccine—modifying an influenza virus in such a way as disallow it from causing an infection in any patient.
Getting started the right way as a developer is tough, so I wrote you a letter I'd love to have received some ten years ago.
Getting a diploma does not mean the end of studying
Holding that shiny piece of paper you worked so hard for in your hands? Congrats!
In reality, you are just getting started. While your official studies are over, it does not mean that you do not need to learn new tricks anymore. Quite the contrary, actually: modern software evolves so fast that you need to learn new things every day to stay current. It's a good idea to come up with a daily routine of checking what's new in your field. For developers, Hackernews and Proggit are good for this. Ask what your colleagues read.
The real gems – and most satisfying lessons – lie in the comments section. When browsing Proggit, I recommend reading the comments before committing fifteen minutes to reading a nicely titled (or click-baited) article. Do this. Do this daily. Even on the weekends. You will thank yourself in a year.
In a recent article on Jalopnik.com, Shep McAllister talks about the Nikola Motor Company and the Nikola One. The Nikola One will be the first hybrid hydrogen-electric class-8 semi.
Six months ago the Nikola Motor Company came out of nowhere and announced it was going to put the first electric-powered big rig on American roads. We've been skeptical, but Nikola just revealed a full-sized model that apparently works, and more importantly a plan to build and sell it at scale.
[...] The Nikola One is a semi-truck sleeper cab, meaning it's got a little apartment behind the driver's seat. The Nikola Two will be a day cab version that's a little shorter and cheaper, but running the same hyrdogen[sic]-charged electric motor set.
[...] So the Nikola truck is supposed to be able to cover 1,200 miles without refilling its hydrogen supply, but we've been hearing that figure and the 1,000 horsepower, 2,000 lb-ft of torque claims since the first renders of this thing were unveiled back in the summer.
It's an interesting concept and if it works out we might be seeing the end of diesel trucking in the US.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
The plan will span nine projects that total 1,100 km (683 miles) in length, the country's powerful economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, said in an online statement on Monday. The projects will be built over the years to 2020, and are part of a wider plan that will stretch to 2030, it added.
The current population of the three areas is estimated at around 110 million, and by the time the plan is complete, the so-called Jing-Jin-Ji project will span 212,000 sq km (82,000 sq miles), or more than twice the size of South Korea.
The expanding railway networks have cut commute time in the region significantly, said Steven McCord, research head at real estate service firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL). "It was not possible to go all the way from Beijing to Binghai and that's a one-hour trip now. It's now also possible to go between Tianjin and Tangshan in less than 30 minutes, which was previously several hours' drive," he said.
"I think there are few places in the world that have that kind of integration. It has made it much easier to do business."The news helped push up shares of firms that stand to benefit from the plan.
-- submitted from IRC
By significantly increasing the speed of functional MRI (fMRI), researchers funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) have been able to image rapidly fluctuating brain activity during human thought. fMRI measures changes in blood oxygenation, which were previously thought to be too slow to detect the subtle neuronal activity associated with higher order brain functions. The new discovery that fast fMRI can detect rapid brain oscillations is a significant step towards realizing a central goal of neuroscience research: mapping the brain networks responsible for human cognitive functions such as perception, attention, and awareness.
[...] Combining several new techniques, Jonathan R. Polimeni, Ph.D., senior author of the study, and his colleagues at Harvard's Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, applied fast fMRI in an effort to track neuronal networks that control human thought processes, and found that they could now measure rapidly oscillating brain activity. The results of this groundbreaking work are reported in the October 2016 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Scientists have identified the cluster of genes responsible for reproductive traits in the Primula flower, first noted as important by Charles Darwin more than 150 years ago.
Darwin hypothesised that some plant species with two distinct forms of flower, where male and female reproductive organs were of differing lengths, had evolved that way to promote out-crossing by insect pollinators.
His ground-breaking insight into the significance of the two forms of flower known as 'pins' and 'thrums' coined the term 'heterostyly', and subsequent studies contributed to the foundation of modern genetic theory.
And now scientists at the University of East Anglia, working at the John Innes Centre, have identified exactly which part of these species' genetic code made them that way, through an event that occurred more than 51 million years ago.
Full paper: Genetic architecture and evolution of the S locus supergene in Primula vulgaris DOI: 10.1038/nplants.2016.188
This article from MedicalXpress reports on a different way of looking at ADHD:
Hyperactivity seems to be the result of not being able to focus one's attention rather than the other way around. This was proposed in an article in PLOS ONE, written by researchers at Radboud university medical center and Radboud University. It seems to suggest that more attention should be given to the AD than to the HD component.
ADHD is a combination of having difficulties with focusing one's attention (attention deficit, AD) and overly active, impulsive behaviour (hyperactivity disorder, HD). Interestingly enough, many people often struggle with a combination of both characteristics. Very often they are both easily distracted and impulsive, in other words, both AD and HD. "Which leads to the question of whether this involves a correlation, a coincidental combination, or perhaps a causal relation," states computer scientist Tom Heskes.
[...] "This causal relation was also suggested in early psychiatric literature," says psychiatrist Jan Buitelaar, "but as far as we know there was never any hard evidence supporting this claim. It's interesting to see that this mathematical approach enables us to talk with more certainty about a causal relation. And it would be even more interesting, for example, to study whether we can find a more neurological basis for that relation.
Submitted via IRC for chromas
The summits of Hawaii's Big Island could get more than two feet of snow, with a winter storm warning in effect through Saturday.
A Winter Storm Warning is in effect through Saturday evening for elevations above 11,000 feet. The summits could get 20 to 30 inches of snow through Saturday, CBS affiliate KGMB.
An upper level low pressure area has brought the sub-freezing temperatures and unstable conditions. The low will combine with moisture surging in from the southeast, which could result in bursts of heavy snow, especially above 12,000 feet.
Conditions on the summits are dangerous. Besides being cold, east to southeast winds of 10 to 20 miles per hour are expected with higher gusts. The strong winds also will cause drifting snow, and freezing fog will reduce visibility to as low as a quarter of a mile.
It's common for media and academics to cite the statistic that China's one-child policy has led to anywhere from 30 million to 60 million "missing girls" that has created a gender imbalance in the world's most populous nation.
But a University of Kansas researcher is a co-author of a study that has found those numbers are likely overblown, and that a large number of those girls aren't missing at all—it was more of an administrative story that had to do with how births are registered at local levels in China.
"People think 30 million girls are missing from the population. That's the population of California, and they think they're just gone," said John Kennedy, a KU associate professor of political science. "Most people are using a demographic explanation to say that abortion or infanticide are the reasons they don't show up in the census, and that they don't exist. But we find there is a political explanation."
The 2010 Chinese census found the sex ratio at birth was 118 males for every 100 females. Globally the average is about 105 males to females. In 2015, Chinese state media announced all couples would be allowed to have two children, signaling the end of the controversial 35-year-old policy, but scholars and policymakers are examining how the ban could have lasting social influence in China on everything from elderly care to political stability.
At the present, companies like Intel are mass-producing transistors 14 nanometers across – just 14 times wider than DNA molecules. They're made of silicon, the second-most abundant material on our planet. Silicon's atomic size is about 0.2 nanometers.
Today's transistors are about 70 silicon atoms wide, so the possibility of making them even smaller is itself shrinking. We're getting very close to the limit of how small we can make a transistor.
At present, transistors use electrical signals – electrons moving from one place to another – to communicate. But if we could use light, made up of photons, instead of electricity, we could make transistors even faster. My work, on finding ways to integrate light-based processing with existing chips, is part of that nascent effort.
A pair of researchers has found that word use popularity tends to oscillate over 14-year periods. In their paper published in the journal Palgrave Communications, Marcelo Montemurro, with The University of Manchester in the U.K. and Damián Zanette with the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research in Argentina describe how they analyzed data obtained from millions of books publicly available in a Google database and found a cyclical pattern of word popularity.
Most people who live very long come to see that some words fall into popularity and then out again. While some that come into existence during certain periods of time, such as "rad" or "boogie" might disappear never to be heard from again, most common nouns, the researchers found, tend to have a cyclical popularity, and that for a reason they cannot explain, it happens in 14-year periods.
To learn more about word use popularity, the researchers wrote scripts that were used to dig through almost 5 million books that have been digitized and stored in Google's Ngram database. The scripts counted every noun encountered, which allowed the users to rank them by popularity year by year. They then tracked how the rankings changed over time and that was when they found a pattern. English nouns rose in popularity and then sank again in 14-year cycles—though they note that over the past couple of centuries, the cycles have been a year or two longer. They also found that some groups of nouns, such as those that referenced royalty, tended to rise and fall together in synced cycles. And other cycles, they found, tended to be connected with worldwide events such as wars or the Olympics. They noted, too, that the results were approximately the same when analyzing nouns in books written in other languages, which, they claim, suggests a universality to their findings.
That would mean it's roughly time to remark what a bitchin' finding this is.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) was hit with a ransomware attack on Friday, causing fare station terminals to carry the message, "You are Hacked. ALL Data Encrypted." Turns out, the miscreant behind this extortion attempt got hacked himself this past weekend, revealing details about other victims as well as tantalizing clues about his identity and location.
On Monday, KrebsOnSecurity was contacted by a security researcher who said he hacked this very same email@example.com inbox after reading a news article about the SFMTA incident. The researcher, who has asked to remain anonymous, said he compromised the extortionist's inbox by guessing the answer to his secret question, which then allowed him to reset the attacker's email password. A screen shot of the user profile page for firstname.lastname@example.org shows that it was tied to a backup email address, email@example.com, which also was protected by the same secret question and answer.
Live by the hack, die by the hack.
Destin Sandlin (of SmarterEveryDay) is a Nikola Tesla fan, in this video Destin builds a Tesla coil and uses the lightning bolts to play music. But even better, he finds another like minded neighbor that has build[sic] many Tesla coils and Destin gets to capture 20ft+ lightning bolts in slow motion. But even better than that, his neighbor has built a Tesla coil gun and Destin not only captures that in slow motion but his neighbor and Destin both get shot by the lightning bolts from the gun. What are the effects of getting shot by a lightning bolt gun? You gotta watch.