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2022-06-30 14:20:41 UTC
2022-07-01 01:52:53 UTC --fnord666
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NASA scientists hope to solve a fundamental mystery about Mars' atmosphere, and you can help. They've organized a project called Cloudspotting on Mars that invites the public to identify Martian clouds using the citizen science platform Zooniverse. The information may help researchers figure out why the planet's atmosphere is just 1% as dense as Earth's even though ample evidence suggests the planet used to have a much thicker atmosphere.
The air pressure is so low that liquid water simply vaporizes from the planet's surface into the atmosphere. But billions of years ago, lakes and rivers covered Mars, suggesting the atmosphere must have been thicker then.
[...] "We want to learn what triggers the formation of clouds – especially water ice clouds, which could teach us how high water vapor gets in the atmosphere – and during which seasons," said Marek Slipski, a postdoctoral researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
That's where Cloudspotting on Mars comes in. The project revolves around a 16-year record of data from the agency's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which has been studying the Red Planet since 2006. The spacecraft's Mars Climate Sounder instrument studies the atmosphere in infrared light, which is invisible to the human eye. In measurements taken by the instrument as MRO orbits Mars, clouds appear as arches. The team needs help sifting through that data on Zooniverse, marking the arches so that the scientists can more efficiently study where in the atmosphere they occur.
[...] While scientists have experimented with algorithms to identify the arches in Mars Climate Sounder data, it's much easier for humans to spot them by eye. But Kleinboehl said the Cloudspotting project may also help train better algorithms that could do this work in the future. In addition, the project includes occasional webinars in which participants can hear from scientists about how the data will be used.
Cloudspotting on Mars is the first planetary science project to be funded by NASA's Citizen Science Seed Funding program. The project is conducted in collaboration with the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences. For more NASA citizen science opportunities, go to science.nasa.gov/citizenscience.
On Feb. 15, 2013, an asteroid measuring 59 feet (18 meters) across and weighing 12,125 tons (11,000 metric tons) entered Earth's atmosphere at around 41,600 mph (66,950 km/h). Fortunately, the meteor exploded around 14.5 miles (23.3 kilometers) above the city of Chelyabinsk in southern Russia, showering the surrounding area in tiny meteorites and avoiding a colossal single collision with the surface. Experts at the time described the event as a major wake-up call to the dangers asteroids pose to the planet.
The Chelyabinsk meteor explosion was the largest of its kind to occur in Earth's atmosphere since the 1908 Tunguska event. It exploded with a force 30 times greater than the atomic bomb that rocked Hiroshima, according to NASA. Video footage of the event showed the space rock burning up in a flash of light that was briefly brighter than the sun, before creating a powerful sonic boom that broke glass, damaged buildings and injured around 1,200 people in the city below, previously reported on Space.com.
[...] The researchers stumbled upon the new types of crystal while they were examining specks of the dust under a standard microscope. One of these tiny structures, which was only just big enough to see under the microscope, was fortuitously in focus right at the center of one of the slides when one team member peered through the eyepiece. If it had been anywhere else the team would likely have missed it, according to Sci-News (opens in new tab).
[...] The new crystals came in two distinct shapes; quasi-spherical, or "almost spherical," shells and hexagonal rods, both of which were "unique morphological peculiarities," the researchers wrote in the study.
Further analysis using X-rays revealed that the crystals were made of layers of graphite — a form of carbon made from overlapping sheets of atoms, commonly used in pencils — surrounding a central nanocluster at the heart of the crystal. The researchers propose that the most likely candidates for these nanoclusters are buckminsterfullerene (C60), a cage-like ball of carbon atoms, or polyhexacyclooctadecane (C18H12), a molecule made from carbon and hydrogen.
Taskaev, Sergey, Skokov, Konstantin, Khovaylo, Vladimir, et al. Exotic carbon microcrystals in meteoritic dust of the Chelyabinsk superbolide: experimental investigations and theoretical scenarios of their formation, The European Physical Journal Plus (DOI: 10.1140/epjp/s13360-022-02768-7)
Companies selling shampoo, food and other products wrapped in plastic have a decade to cut down on their use of the polluting material if they want their wares on California store shelves.
Major legislation passed and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday aims to significantly reduce single-use plastic packaging in the state and drastically boost recycling rates for what remains. It sets the nation's most stringent requirements for the use of plastic packaging, with lawmakers saying they hope it sets a precedent for other states to follow.
[...] Under the bill, plastic producers would have to reduce plastics in single-use products 10% by 2027, increasing to 25% by 2032. That reduction in plastic packaging can be met through a combination of reducing package sizing, switching to a different material or making the product easily reusable or refillable. Also by 2032, plastic would have to be recycled at a rate of 65%, a massive jump from today's rates. It wouldn't apply to plastic beverage bottles, which have their own recycling rules.
Efforts to limit plastic packaging have failed in the Legislature for years, but the threat of a similar ballot measure going before voters in November prompted business groups to come to the negotiating table. The measure's three main backers withdrew it from the ballot after the bill passed, though they expressed concern the plastics industry will try to weaken the requirements.
[...] It does not ban styrofoam food packaging but would require it to be recycled at a rate of 30% by 2028, which some supporters said is a de facto ban because the material can't be recycled. The ballot measure would have banned the material outright. It would have given more power to the state recycling agency to implement the rules rather than letting industry organize itself.
Sen. Ben Allen, a Santa Monica Democrat who led negotiations on the bill, said it represented an example of two groups that are often at odds—environmentalists and industry—coming together to make positive change.
[...] Joshua Baca of the American Chemistry Council, which represents the plastics industry, said the bill unfairly caps the amount of post-consumer recycled plastic that can be used to meet the 25% reduction requirement and limits "new, innovative recycling technologies."
The bill bans incineration and combustion of plastic, but leaves open the possibility for some forms of so-called chemical recycling.
Today, the Lockbit ransomware gang announced the launch of Lockbit 3.0, a new ransomware-as-a-service offering and a bug bounty program.
According to Lockbit's leak site, as part of the bug bounty program, the cyber gang will pay all security researchers, ethical and unethical hackers "to provide Personally Identifiable Information (PII) on high-profile individuals and web exploits in exchange for remuneration ranging from $1,000 to $1 million."
[...] "A key focus of the bug bounty program are defensive measures: preventing security researchers and law enforcement from finding bugs in its leak sites or ransomware, identifying ways that members including the affiliate program boss could be doxed, as well as funding bugs within the messaging software used by the group for internal communications and the Tor network itself," Narang said.
The writing on the wall is that Lockbit's adversarial approach is about to get much more sophisticated. "Anyone that still doubts cybercriminal gangs have reached a level of maturity that rivals the organizations they target, may need to reassess," said Mike Parkin, senior technical engineer at Vulcan Cyber.
[...] "This should have every enterprise looking at the security of their internal supply chain, including who and what has access to their code, and any secrets in it. Unethical bounty programs like this turn passwords and keys in code into gold for everybody who has access to your code," said Casey Bisson, head of product and developer enablement at BluBracket.
Lockbit 3.0 Ransomware bughunting for $$$ So the makers of ransomware are now offering bug-bounties to find bugs in their software and info to doxx them. Rewards ranging from $1k to millions. Question is can you trust them to pay out if you find something? And if you find something wouldn't it be more appropriate to send them to jail with it? Or if you are a crook wouldn't you use what you found against them? Isn't it also a security risk for them to share code for their malware ransomware with outsiders?
I guess the question is: if you found something would you (1) give it to them for the bounty (2) use it against them to steal their shit (3) turn it over to law enforcement?
The Perseverance rover touched down on the Red Planet in February 2021 carrying, among other instruments, a weather station dubbed Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA). That instrument includes two wind sensors that measure speed and direction, among several other sensors that provide weather metrics such as humidity, radiation and air temperature.
Pebbles carried aloft by strong Red Planet gusts recently damaged one of the wind sensors, but MEDA can still keep track of wind at its landing area in Jezero Crater, albeit with decreased sensitivity, José Antonio Rodriguez Manfredi, principal investigator of MEDA, told Space.com.
"Right now, the sensor is diminished in its capabilities, but it still provides speed and direction magnitudes," Rodriguez Manfredi, a scientist at the Spanish Astrobiology Center in Madrid, wrote in an e-mail. "The whole team is now re-tuning the retrieval procedure to get more accuracy from the undamaged detector readings."
The two approximately ruler-sized wind sensors on Perseverance are encircled by six individual detectors that aim to give accurate readings from any direction, according to materials from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, which manages the rover.
[...] Like all instruments on Perseverance, the wind sensor was designed with redundancy and protection in mind, Rodriguez Manfredi noted. "But of course, there is a limit to everything."
After spending billions doubling the size of its fulfillment network during the pandemic, Amazon finds itself in a perilous position.
In the first quarter of 2022, the e-commerce giant reported a $3.8 billion net loss after raking in an $8.1 billion profit in Q1 2021. That includes $6 billion in added costs — the bulk of which can be traced back to that same fulfillment network.
Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) CFO Brian Olsavsky said the company chose to expand its warehouse network based on "the high end of a very volatile demand outlook." So far this year, though, it has shut down or delayed plans for at least 16 scheduled facilities.
"We currently have some excess capacity in the network that we need to grow into," Olsavsky told investors on Amazon's Q1 2022 earnings call. "So, we've brought down our build expectations. Note again that many of the build decisions were made 18 to 24 months ago, so there are limitations on what we can adjust midyear."
[...] If you're wondering how that's possible, consider Amazon's unmatched turnover rate. A New York Times investigation uncovered that even before the pandemic, it was as high as 150%. That means there are more employees leaving Amazon warehouses each year than there are being hired.
In fact, there has been so much turnover that Amazon began tracking it weekly and found it loses an estimated 3% of its warehouse workers every seven days. That means the e-commerce powerhouse sifts through its entire supply of warehouse labor every eight months on average.
Simply put, the strategy isn't sustainable long term. Still, Wulfraat believes Amazon can weather the storm.
"It will take some time to iron out the wrinkles, but they will get through it," he told Supply Chain Dive.
Machine learning goes with the flow [pdf press release]:
An artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm trained to listen to patients pass urine is able to identify abnormal flows and could be a useful and cost-effective means of monitoring and managing urology patients at home
The deep learning tool, Audioflow, performed almost as well as a specialist machine used in clinics, and achieves similar results to urology residents in assessing urinary flow. The current study focuses on sound created by urine in a soundproof environment, but the ambition is to create an app so patients can monitor themselves at home.
Uroflowmetry is an important tool for the assessment of patients with symptoms, but patients have to urinate into a machine during outpatient visits. They are asked to urinate into a funnel connected to the uroflowmeter which records information about flow. During the COVID-19 pandemic access to clinics has been restricted, and even where patients can attend, the test can take a long time with queues to use a single machine.
[...] "Our AI can outperform some non-experts and comes close to senior consultants," he continues. "But the real benefit is having the equivalent of a consultant in the bathroom with you, every time you go. We are now working towards the algorithm being able to work when there is background noise in the normal home environment and this will make the true difference for patients."
Audioflow will now be rolled out as a smartphone app via primary care physicians so it can be tested in the real world and learn from different datasets in different noise environments.
Soon you'll be able to get critiques from Alexa as you go to the bathroom.
"Fractal wood burning" refers to using hacked microwave power supplies to char Lichtenberg figures into wood. It is extraordinarily dangerous, and dozens of people have been killed following instructions contained in viral videos. Ann Reardon recently posted a thorough debunking of the method, which quickly became popular in its own right—a timely and essential remedy to a lethal problem that social media companies are under no obligation to deal with themselves.
But YouTube has removed Reardon's video, claiming it is harmful and dangerous—while leaving up fractal wood burning videos demonstrating methods that have killed, at latest count, 34 people in America.
The presumed "explanation" is that YouTube's moderation is automated, and that this removal was likely triggered by keywords or abusive flagging by the viral (and often outright sinister) "crafts" channels that Reardon's video implicitly criticizes. But that's not what YouTube says in its takedown notification, and you can still get served these completely lethal instructions with obvious search terms there.
[...] Reardon simply reposted her well-researched debunking again with an explanation: "your life is more important than my channel".
Those who forget history often inadvertently repeat it. Some of us recall that twenty-one years ago, the most popular code hosting site, a fully Free and Open Source (FOSS) site called SourceForge, proprietarized all their code — never to make it FOSS again. Major FOSS projects slowly left SourceForge since it was now, itself, a proprietary system, and antithetical to FOSS. FOSS communities learned that it was a mistake to allow a for-profit, proprietary software company to become the dominant FOSS collaborative development site.
SourceForge slowly collapsed after the DotCom crash, and today, SourceForge is more advertising link-bait than it is code hosting. We learned a valuable lesson that was a bit too easy to forget — especially when corporate involvement manipulates FOSS communities to its own ends. We now must learn the SourceForge lesson again with Microsoft's GitHub.
GitHub has, in the last ten years, risen to dominate FOSS development. They did this by building a user interface and adding social interaction features to the existing Git technology. (For its part, Git was designed specifically to make software development distributed without a centralized site.) In the central irony, GitHub succeeded where SourceForge failed: they have convinced us to promote and even aid in the creation of a proprietary system that exploits FOSS. GitHub profits from those proprietary products (sometimes from customers who use it for problematic activities).
Specifically, GitHub profits primarily from those who wish to use GitHub tools for in-house proprietary software development. Yet, GitHub comes out again and again seeming like a good actor — because they point to their largess in providing services to so many FOSS endeavors. But we've learned from the many gratis offerings in Big Tech: if you aren't the customer, you're the product. The FOSS development methodology is GitHub's product, which they've proprietarized and repackaged with our active (if often unwitting) help.
Microsoft's new service for automatically writing AI-based code, Copilot, has sparked outrage in the Open Source community.
"Microsoft loves open source." So much has been put on this slogan recently, only to change the Open Source community's perspective toward the Redmond company.
And while Microsoft was no longer demonized as the worst thing that could happen to the Open Source, certain of the Redmond tech giant's tactics remained regardless of the times.
[...] And now we get to the core of the issue. Copilot is powered by natural language text and openly available source code, including code in GitHub public repositories. And, of course, you must have a paid subscription or a special invitation from Microsoft to access Copilot.
To put it another way. You are a developer who has contributed valuable content to various GitHub projects over the years. Of course, everyone is welcome to use it.
Would you be satisfied if your code was used for profit by a closed-source app without giving you credit? In its classic fashion, this is where Microsoft tramples on moral boundaries.
A team of scientists and a games specialist have designed 'Diamond: The Game', a board game developed to give secondary school students a chance to explore a broad range of STEM scientific careers and subjects. This is achieved through first-hand experience of the different aspects of working in scientific research and life as a scientist and shows how research at a facility like Diamond underpins successful science. [...]
Dr Mark Basham and Dr Claire Murray from the UK's national synchrotron Diamond Light Source and Dr Matthew Dunstan from the University of Cambridge created the game for 2-5 players. It lasts between 20-30 minutes and is for ages 10 and up. It puts students directly in the role of a researcher at Diamond, visiting different beamlines (laboratories) to make progress in a diverse range of scientific projects in Physics, Chemistry, Cultural Heritage, and more.
[...] The game was developed in line with Diamond's Public Engagement programme which actively promotes careers in STEM to secondary level students who can visit the facility and see their scientific curricula in action. The target for the game was to therefore create an engagement option for schools that were not able to visit the facility. This became even more important with the advent of the pandemic. The team say that the potential for a resource like this to function in both formal and informal settings make it a valuable tool in multiple learning environments, especially as there is evidence children as early as seven make career limiting decisions.
This paper showcases a gaming approach which could be adapted by educators, educational professionals, or subject enthusiasts to cover any desired topic of study ie. not limited to STEM subjects and could be transferred to the broader curriculum. Diamond – The Game reflects the interdisciplinary nature of science undertaken at a facility like the Diamond synchrotron and how it underpins work on everything from fragments of Rembrandt's painting of Homer, COVID-19 drug screening, to the degradation of the Mary Rose Tudor warship and much more.
If you want to grab a few friends and play the home version, they released a Print and Play version in 2020.
Murray et al. Diamond: The Game – a board game for secondary school students promoting scientific careers and experiences. Research for All, 6(1): 14. DOI: 10.14324/RFA.06.1.14
About 25 years ago, July 11, 1997, Carl Sagan's and Ann Druyan's movie "Contact" hit the theaters. Vulture has a long read based on interviews with over a score of people who were involved in making the movie. Jodie Foster had the lead role. The co-author, Carl Sagan, died along the way and the production survived a series of lawsuits.
Ahead of Contact's 25th anniversary, we spoke to nearly two dozen people involved in its making, including Zemeckis, Foster, McConaughey, Druyan, Sasha Sagan, and veteran producer Lynda Obst. They disagreed on several aspects of Contact's development saga, but settled on some consensus: Contact was a lightning-in-a-bottle project, the kind of thing big movie studios barely made before and would probably never make again — intellectually challenging, emotionally messy, heavy with metaphor, wherein nobody shoots an alien in the face in front of an American flag. "We used to do that," said Foster. "We used to make movies that were resonant and were entertaining."
[...] Ann Druyan: This is 1978. Carl and I are still working on Cosmos. At the time, it was popular to say things like, "Well, if men are as smart as women, then how come there are no female Leonardos? No female Einsteins?" This made both of us furious. I had just co-written the part of Cosmos about the Great Library of Alexandria and the fact that Hypatia, who was the leader of the library, was a mathematician focusing on the Diophantine equations that Newton would later become interested in. Her reward for being the great intellectual light of the library in 415 AD was to be ripped from her chariot that she was driving herself and carved to bits with abalone shells.
People were throwing everything at Carl then. He was such a phenomenon in the culture, and everybody wanted to do something with him. So we knew we could get a book and a movie contract. We agreed one night, sitting in the pool at our little rented house in West Hollywood, that we were going to tell a story in which not only would a woman be the intellectual hero but, in the great tradition of Gilgamesh, she was going to go on the voyage and the guys would stay home.
Telling people to turn their smartphones off, or set them on silent as a strategy to ease distractions or avoid addictive internet behaviors may backfire on some folks, according to Penn State researchers.
In a study, the researchers report that people checked their phones more often when their devices were in silent mode. They added that those who scored high in "Fear-of-Missing-Out" and "Need-to-Belong" personality tests checked their phones even more when silencing them and, in some cases, stayed on phones longer.
"The general, commonsensical approach to overcoming addiction or any kind of substance overuse or dependency is by cutting back on that substance," said Sundar, who is also an affiliate of Penn State's Institute for Computational and Data Sciences. "The industry approach to curbing smartphone overuse has generally been to try and figure out ways to cut off your access to phone, or to reduce the number of notifications or to give you the option of turning off the sound. While these are commonsensical approaches, we really do not know if they are psychologically effective. This seems to be one of those instances when cutting back can actually backfire or boomerang."
[...] People with high levels of FoMO checked their phones about 50 times a day when the vibration signal was on. In silent mode, though, the number of checks soared to about 120 checks a day for those participants. The researchers also found that people with high levels of FoMO stayed on phones significantly longer if their phones were in silent mode.
People with high levels of the Need-to-Belong trait did not pick up their phone more when their phones were in silent mode, however they did stay on phones longer if their phones were either on silent or vibration-only mode.
"Imagine, in class, the instructor tells the students to turn off their phones, we think that now everyone is paying attention to the instructor," said Sundar. "But, what our research is the opposite, in that they are preoccupied thinking about all the things that they're missing, so it might be even more distracting."
MengqiLiao and S. ShyamSundar, Sound of silence: Does Muting Notifications Reduce Phone Use?, Comput Hum Behav, 134, 2022. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2022.107338
PETALING JAYA, June 24 — A hamster has safely returned home after a trip into the stratosphere via a flying balloon.
The experiment was carried out by Japanese company Iwatani Giken as part of its goal to make space travel accessible to the masses.
The hamster was placed in an airtight plastic cabin and lifted off with a balloon at Miyakojima city in Okinawa on June 9, said the company in a recent media statement.
The cabin was monitored during the test flight to ensure that oxygen levels, atmospheric pressure and temperature were the same as on the ground.
The company added that a camera installed in the cabin showed that the creature was comfortably snoozing during its flight.
[...] According to The Hokkaido Shimbun Press, the firm's next experiment will be a manned test flight to a maximum altitude of 25 kilometres.
One small step for a hamster, one giant leap for hamsterkind. I wonder what stories he shares with his hamster buddies.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told CNBC's Jim Cramer on Monday that she believes GlobalWafers will follow through on its plan to build a silicon wafer factory in Texas — but only if Congress passes funding for the CHIPS for America Act by the time the August recess begins.
"This investment that they're making is contingent upon Congress passing the CHIPS Act [funding]. The CEO told me that herself, and they reiterated that today," Raimondo said in an interview on "Mad Money."
"It has to be done before they go to August recess. I don't know how to say it any more plainly. This deal ... will go away, I think, if Congress doesn't act," she added.
GlobalWafers, a Taiwan-based semiconductor silicon wafer firm, said Monday that it plans to build a facility to produce the component in Sherman, Texas. The facility could create up to 1,500 jobs and produce 1.2 million wafers a month, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
The CHIPS (Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors) for America Act incentivizes investment in the U.S. semiconductor industry. While it was passed in January 2021, a funding package has not been approved by Congress.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell threatened Thursday to derail a bill designed to boost semiconductor manufacturing in the United States if Democrats revive their stalled climate and social policy package.
The rejuvenation of the Democratic reconciliation package, central to President Joe Biden's agenda, remains a work in progress and is far from certain. But with some signs of progress in the negotiations, McConnell is moving to complicate Democratic plans by warning that Republicans would react by stopping separate semiconductor legislation from moving over the finish line in the coming weeks, despite its bipartisan support.
"Let me be perfectly clear: there will be no bipartisan USICA as long as Democrats are pursuing a partisan reconciliation bill," McConnell tweeted, referring to the shorthand name for the computer chips bill that passed the Senate last year.
Both chambers of Congress have passed their versions of the legislation, which would include $52 billion in incentives for companies to locate chip manufacturing plants in the U.S. Lawmakers are now trying to reconcile the considerable differences between the two bills, but at a pace that has many supporters worried the job won't get done before lawmakers break for their August recess.
Researchers at the University of Oxford have found that hawks control their flight to ensure the safest landing conditions when perching, even if it takes longer and more energy to do so. Understanding how birds optimise their landing manoeuvres through learning may help in developing small aircraft capable of perching like birds.
In new research published in Nature, four Harris' hawks wearing tiny retroreflective markers were tracked flying back and forth between two perches. Their precise movements were recorded by 20 motion capture cameras positioned around the room, allowing the research team to reconstruct their flight paths on over 1,500 flights. The research team then used computer simulations to understand why the birds chose their particular path to the perch.
Aircraft have the luxury of using a runway for braking after landing to reduce speed. In contrast, birds must brake before they arrive at the perch -- however slowing down to a safe speed while in flight risks stall, leading to a sudden loss of flight control. The researchers discovered that the hawks follow a flight path that slows them down to a safe speed but minimises the distance from the perch at which they stall.
To minimise stall, the hawks dived downwards while flapping, before spreading their wings into a gliding posture as they swooped up to the perch. By selecting just the right speed and position from which to swoop up to the perch, the birds were already within grabbing distance of the perch when they stalled, keeping their landings as safe and controllable as possible.
Co-lead author Dr Lydia France, Department of Biology, University of Oxford said: 'We found that our birds weren't optimising either the time or energy spent, so their swooping trajectories were neither the shortest nor cheapest options for getting from A to B. Instead, our birds were reducing the distance from the perch at which they stalled and were even better at limiting stall than our simplified computer model.'
[...] Landing is a critical manoeuvre, and stalling has been the cause of many aircraft accidents. Looking at birds and asking how they solve the problem of safe landing might help us find new bioinspired design solutions for our own technologies, including small aircraft capable of perching like birds.
KleinHeerenbrink, Marco, France, Lydia A., Brighton, Caroline H., et al. Optimization of avian perching manoeuvres [open], Nature (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04861-4)