2017-07-01 00:00:00 ..
2017-11-15 12:53:09 UTC
2017-11-19 08:14:01 UTC
We always have a place for talented people, visit the Get Involved section on the wiki to see how you can make SoylentNews better.
Spotted at Lobsters is a thread about a stackoverflow question on man; why does running "man -w" report "gimme gimme gimme" when run at 00:30?
This gets this response:
Pretty much the whole story is in the commit. The maintainer of man is a good friend of mine, and one day six years ago I jokingly said to him that if you invoke man after midnight it should print "gimme gimme gimme", because of the Abba song called "Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight":
Well, he did actually put it in. A few people were amused to discover it, and we mostly forgot about it until today.
Anyone know of other good easter eggs that have cropped up unexpectedly and caught users out?
An Oxford graduate's failure to get a top degree cost him a lucrative legal career, the High Court has heard.
Faiz Siddiqui alleges "inadequate" teaching on his modern history course resulted in him getting a low upper second degree in June 2000. He blames staff being absent on sabbatical leave and is suing the university for £1m. Oxford denies negligence and causation and says the case is "massively" outside the legal time limit.He said: "Whilst a 2:1 degree from Oxford might rightly seem like a tremendous achievement to most, it fell significantly short of Mr Siddiqui's expectations and was, to him, a huge disappointment."
Mr Mallalieu said his employment history in legal and tax roles was "frankly poor" and he was now unemployed, rather than having a career at the tax bar in England or a major US law firm. Mr Siddiqui also said his clinical depression and insomnia have been significantly exacerbated by his "inexplicable failure". Julian Milford, for Oxford University, told the court Mr Siddiqui complained about insufficient resources, but had only described the teaching as "a little bit dull".
Perhaps he might find employment with "This is Windows calling..."
Hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber Technologies Inc., a massive breach that the company concealed for more than a year. This week, the ride-hailing firm ousted its chief security officer and one of his deputies for their roles in keeping the hack under wraps, which included a $100,000 payment to the attackers.
Compromised data from the October 2016 attack included names, email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million Uber riders around the world, the company told Bloomberg on Tuesday. The personal information of about 7 million drivers was accessed as well, including some 600,000 U.S. driver's license numbers. No Social Security numbers, credit card information, trip location details or other data were taken, Uber said.
"None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it." - Dara Khosrowshahi
At the time of the incident, Uber was negotiating with U.S. regulators investigating separate claims of privacy violations. Uber now says it had a legal obligation to report the hack to regulators and to drivers whose license numbers were taken. Instead, the company paid hackers to delete the data and keep the breach quiet. Uber said it believes the information was never used but declined to disclose the identities of the attackers.
Is it just me, or does Uber dig itself deeper each time?
For the first time ever astronomers have studied an asteroid that has entered the Solar System from interstellar space. Observations from ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile and other observatories around the world show that this unique object was traveling through space for millions of years before its chance encounter with our star system. It appears to be a dark, reddish, highly-elongated rocky or high-metal-content object. The new results appear in the journal Nature on 20 November 2017.
On 19 October 2017, the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawai`i picked up a faint point of light moving across the sky. It initially looked like a typical fast-moving small asteroid, but additional observations over the next couple of days allowed its orbit to be computed fairly accurately. The orbit calculations revealed beyond any doubt that this body did not originate from inside the Solar System, like all other asteroids or comets ever observed, but instead had come from interstellar space. Although originally classified as a comet, observations from ESO and elsewhere revealed no signs of cometary activity after it passed closest to the Sun in September 2017. The object was reclassified as an interstellar asteroid and named 1I/2017 U1 (`Oumuamua).
"We had to act quickly," explains team member Olivier Hainaut from ESO in Garching, Germany. "`Oumuamua had already passed its closest point to the Sun and was heading back into interstellar space."
...  The Pan-STARRS team’s proposal to name the interstellar objet[sic] was accepted by the International Astronomical Union, which is responsible for granting official names to bodies in the Solar System and beyond. The name is Hawaiian and more details are given here. The IAU also created a new class of objects for interstellar asteroids, with this object being the first to receive this designation. The correct forms for referring to this object are now: 1I, 1I/2017 U1, 1I/`Oumuamua and 1I/2017 U1 (`Oumuamua). Note that the character before the O is an okina. So, the name should sound like H O u mu a mu a. Before the introduction of the new scheme, the object was referred to as A/2017 U1.
-- submitted from IRC. See also here.
a new chemical composite developed by researchers at MIT could provide an alternative. It could be used to store heat from the sun or any other source during the day in a kind of thermal battery, and it could release the heat when needed, for example for cooking or heating after dark.
A common approach to thermal storage is to use what is known as a phase change material (PCM), where input heat melts the material and its phase change -- from solid to liquid -- stores energy. When the PCM is cooled back down below its melting point, it turns back into a solid, at which point the stored energy is released as heat. There are many examples of these materials, including waxes or fatty acids used for low-temperature applications, and molten salts used at high temperatures. But all current PCMs require a great deal of insulation, and they pass through that phase change temperature uncontrollably, losing their stored heat relatively rapidly.
Instead, the new system uses molecular switches that change shape in response to light; when integrated into the PCM, the phase-change temperature of the hybrid material can be adjusted with light, allowing the thermal energy of the phase change to be maintained even well below the melting point of the original material.
The rate of cooling can be controlled.
Grace G. D. Han, Huashan Li, Jeffrey C. Grossman. Optically-controlled long-term storage and release of thermal energy in phase-change materials. Nature Communications, 2017; 8 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01608-y
Given that collaboration [in science] is the norm, you may be asking yourself the eternal question: Who cares? How does the image of a lone scientist hero cause any danger to me?
The problem arises when there is a debate about a scientific topic. Following this structure, debate is a necessary and encouraged part of the scientific process. This debate happens before the idea is released to anyone outside of a few scientists and, while it can become heated at times, takes place with great respect between proponents of different viewpoints.
The danger can come when scientific results are released to the public. Our society now provides a platform for anyone to comment, regardless of his or her education, experience or even knowledge of the topic at hand.
While this is an excellent method of disseminating knowledge, it can also provide a platform for any opinion—regardless of the weight of data behind it—to be equal to that released in more traditional scientific ways.
Particularly in today's largely populist climate, people are looking to see the lone scientist hero overthrow the perceived dominance of facts coming from academia.
And herein lies the problem. In this situation, the opinion of a lone commenter may be considered on equal footing with that of tens or hundreds of people who have made the subject their life's work to ensure their interpretations are correct.
Everybody is entitled to their own scientific opinion, but everybody is not entitled to their own scientific facts?
Airlines are under pressure to reduce their carbon emissions, and are highly vulnerable to global oil price fluctuations. These challenges have spurred strong interest in biomass-derived jet fuels. Bio-jet fuel can be produced from various plant materials, including oil crops, sugar crops, starchy plants and lignocellulosic biomass, through various chemical and biological routes. However, the technologies to convert oil to jet fuel are at a more advanced stage of development and yield higher energy efficiency than other sources.
We are engineering sugarcane, the most productive plant in the world, to produce oil that can be turned into bio-jet fuel. In a recent study, we found that use of this engineered sugarcane could yield more than 2,500 liters of bio-jet fuel per acre of land. In simple terms, this means that a Boeing 747 could fly for 10 hours on bio-jet fuel produced on just 54 acres of land. Compared to two competing plant sources, soybeans and jatropha, lipidcane would produce about 15 and 13 times as much jet fuel per unit of land, respectively.
Maybe jet fuel is a better use of the world's sugar supply than eating it is...
Expanding bike lanes, handing out free helmets and making lessons free: New York is making great strides in encouraging pedal power at the expense of exhaust fumes, even if some cyclists are still nervous about navigating bottleneck traffic.
For years, the city of 8.5 million—which has the most extensive public transport network in the United States—stood and watched the bike boom take off in European capitals.
In 2013, then billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg launched the Citi Bike sharing scheme and since then, New York has seen the fastest growth rate in cycle use of any big US city.
"The city has come a long ways in terms of having a much stronger commitment to promoting bicycling," says Rich Conroy, education director for Bike New York, a non-profit organization that encourages safe cycling.
"People realize we can't grow as a city by building more streets and adding more cars," explained Conroy.
Get exercise time in, lose weight, get to work, and save money all at the same time. What's not to love?
Quartz has found that Android phones have been tracking user locations and sending them to Google throughout 2017:
Even if you take all of those precautions, phones running Android software gather data about your location and send it back to Google when they're connected to the internet, a Quartz investigation has revealed.
Since the beginning of 2017, Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers—even when location services are disabled—and sending that data back to Google. The result is that Google, the unit of Alphabet behind Android, has access to data about individuals' locations and their movements that go far beyond a reasonable consumer expectation of privacy. Quartz observed the data collection occur and contacted Google, which confirmed the practice.
The cell tower addresses have been included in information sent to the system Google uses to manage push notifications and messages on Android phones for the past 11 months, according to a Google spokesperson. They were never used or stored, the spokesperson said, and the company is now taking steps to end the practice after being contacted by Quartz. By the end of November, the company said, Android phones will no longer send cell-tower location data to Google, at least as part of this particular service, which consumers cannot disable.
"In January of this year, we began looking into using Cell ID codes as an additional signal to further improve the speed and performance of message delivery," the Google spokesperson said in an email. "However, we never incorporated Cell ID into our network sync system, so that data was immediately discarded, and we updated it to no longer request Cell ID."
A team of scientists led by Virginia Commonwealth University physicist Jason Reed, Ph.D., have developed new nanomapping technology that could transform the way disease-causing genetic mutations are diagnosed and discovered. Described in a study published today in the journal Nature Communications, this novel approach uses high-speed atomic force microscopy (AFM) combined with a CRISPR-based chemical barcoding technique to map DNA nearly as accurately as DNA sequencing while processing large sections of the genome at a much faster rate. What's more—the technology can be powered by parts found in your run-of-the-mill DVD player.
The human genome is made up of billions of DNA base pairs. Unraveled, it stretches to a length of nearly six feet long. When cells divide, they must make a copy of their DNA for the new cell. However, sometimes various sections of the DNA are copied incorrectly or pasted together at the wrong location, leading to genetic mutations that cause diseases such as cancer. DNA sequencing is so precise that it can analyze individual base pairs of DNA. But in order to analyze large sections of the genome to find genetic mutations, technicians must determine millions of tiny sequences and then piece them together with computer software. In contrast, biomedical imaging techniques such as fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) can only analyze DNA at a resolution of several hundred thousand base pairs.
Reed's new high-speed AFM method can map DNA to a resolution of tens of base pairs while creating images up to a million base pairs in size. And it does it using a fraction of the amount of specimen required for DNA sequencing.
A Suezmax container ship can hold over 10,000 TEUs or “Twenty Foot Equivalent Units”. Most containers carried are double this length – FEUs or “Forty Foot Equivalent Units” – but that still means in the region of 5,000 containers.
Only around one third of that cargo is on-deck though – most is hidden in the holds, under massive hatch covers. To get a container out from the bottom of the hold could involve removing 50 containers from that hatch cover, removing the hatch cover, then taking a further 8 containers to access the bottom of a stack.
Screw up the load plan and you create chaos. What if the load plan, which is just a CSV list or similar, is hacked and modified? No-one knows what container is where. instead of taking 24-48 hours to load and unload, it could take weeks to manually re-inventory the ship. Time is money for a ship. Lots of money. Blocking a port for a period whilst the mess is resolved incurs enormous costs and could even jeopardise supplies to an entire country.
Seems like more bang-for-the-buck than an IED [Improvised Explosive Device].
Tencent Holdings Ltd. has surpassed Facebook Inc. in market value, becoming the first Chinese technology company to join the ranks of the world's five largest corporations.
Investors piled into the Chinese social networking giant, extending this year's rally to 127 percent and boosting its market value by some $292 billion as of Tuesday's close. That year-long surge has made founder Ma Huateng the mainland's second-richest man and lifted the entire Hong Kong bourse. The operator of the ubiquitous WeChat messaging service is now valued at $523 billion, a whisker above Facebook's $522 billion on Monday.
Investors are betting that Tencent can lean on its billion-plus users and hit games like Honour of Kings to evolve into an advertising and entertainment titan along the lines of a Google or Facebook. Created almost two decades ago as a web portal before morphing into one of the world's biggest purveyors of video games, the argument is that its dominance of Chinese social networking also bankrolls an expansion into newer markets from video streaming to finance.
Also at TechCrunch.
Nissan Leafs, which go about 107 miles on a charge, sometimes end up relegated to commuter cars due to battery-life worries. The mass-market, standard Tesla Model 3 can go double that, but even that distance can be disconcerting on long road trips.
Both batteries could work about 50 percent longer with a device provisionally patented by Vanderbilt University's Ken Pence, professor of the practice of engineering management, and Tim Potteiger, a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering. It reconfigures modules in electric car battery packs to be online or offline—depending on whether they're going to pull down the other modules.
The two used Tesla's open-source, high-density, lithium-ion battery to model their method of improving durability, adding a controller to each of the battery's cells.
"We know there are some battery cells that run out of juice earlier than others, and when they do, the others run less efficiently," Potteiger said. "We make sure they all run out of energy at the same time, and there's none left over."
Is a 50% boost in range worth the expense of the extra controllers?
The new rules are expected to be announced on Wednesday, whilst most Americans are distracted by getting home to loved ones for Thanksgiving.
This will then be followed by a vote on 10 December, which would see the 2015 rules designed to protect the internet being torn down.
[...] The important point, as we've said before, is that once the genie is out of the bottle, getting it back in is almost impossible and for our readers outside the US, don't think this doesn't affect you - everything that passes through US servers will be affected in some way and will knock on to you.
A team of researchers with the University of Georgia in Athens has developed a technique for controlling chemical reactions that release drugs inside the body. In their paper published in the journal Nature Catalysis, the group describes coating chemicals to prevent a reaction from occurring until the application of a magnetic field that releases a desired drug.
In some medical applications, it is better for a medical treatment if a chemical can be applied directly to a certain part of the body and nowhere else. Chemicals meant to treat tumors are the prime example—chemotherapy drugs act on every cell they contact, causing a host of negative side effects. In this new effort, the group took a novel approach to solving this problem, using a magnet to force coated chemicals together, prompting a drug releasing reaction.
To provide a means for controlling when chemicals come into contact inside the body, the researchers created tiny packets by first coating iron oxide nanoparticles with silica and then coating them further with two types of polymers, which, when combined, form a brush-like structure. Each of the packets was then loaded with either an enzyme or a substrate meant to react with the enzyme, and, of course, the drug to be released.
The technique is intended to better target chemotherapy in cancer treatments such that only tumors are exposed to the chemical agents. It is hoped the more precise targeting can avoid the side effects of chemotherapy.