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posted by n1 on Wednesday May 17 2017, @10:31PM   Printer-friendly
from the home-sweet-home dept.

Chelsea Manning has been freed from the Fort Leavenworth military prison, according to a US Army spokesperson:

In January she tweeted that she wanted to move to Maryland after being released, a state where she previously lived. On Monday she tweeted: "Two more days until the freedom of civilian life ^_^ Now hunting for private #healthcare like millions of Americans =P".

Manning will remain on active army duty while her military court conviction remains under appeal. She will have healthcare benefits but will be unpaid, the army says. An online campaign set up by her attorney has raised $150,000 (£115,725) to pay for her living expenses for the first year after her release. If the appeal is denied, she could be dishonourably discharged from the army, US media say.

The mentioned Chelsea Manning Welcome Home Fund. Also at NPR, NYT, and CNN.

Original Submission

posted by n1 on Wednesday May 17 2017, @08:58PM   Printer-friendly
from the on-the-rocks dept.

A Dubai firm's dream of towing icebergs from the Antarctic to the Arabian Peninsula could face some titanic obstacles.

Where many see the crumbling polar ice caps as a distressing sign of global warming, the National Advisor Bureau Limited sees it as a source of profit, and a way of offsetting the effects of climate change in the increasingly sweltering Gulf.

The firm has drawn up plans to harvest icebergs in the southern Indian Ocean and tow them 9,200 kilometers (5,700 miles) away to the Gulf, where they could be melted down for freshwater and marketed as a tourist attraction.

"The icebergs are just floating in the Indian Ocean. They are up for grabs to whoever can take them," managing director Abdullah al-Shehi told The Associated Press in his Dubai office. He hopes to begin harvesting them by 2019.

[...] The firm would send ships down to Heard Island, an Australian nature reserve in the southern Indian Ocean, where they would steer between massive icebergs the size of cities in search of truck-sized chunks known as growlers. Workers would then secure them to the boats with nets and embark on a yearlong cruise to the United Arab Emirates.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday May 17 2017, @07:20PM   Printer-friendly
from the growing-interest dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

The production of one of the key raw materials for fertilizer, ammonia (NH3) or nitrogen oxide (NOx), is a very energy-intensive process that is responsible for about 2% of all global CO2 emissions. However, it is hardly possible any longer to cut the energy consumption via current production processes since the theoretically minimal feasible energy consumption has already been more or less reached.

So the Indian PhD candidate [Bhaskar S.] Patil sought alternative methods to produce ammonia and nitrogen oxides for his PhD research, building two types of reactor, the Gliding Arc (GA) reactor and the Dielectric Barrier Discharge (DBD) reactor. In his experiments the GA reactor in particular appeared to be the most suited to producing nitrogen oxides. In this reactor, under atmospheric pressure, a plasma-front (a kind of mini lightning bolt) glides between two diverging metal surfaces, starting with a small opening (2 mm) to a width of 5 centimeters. This expansion causes the plasma to cool to room temperature. During the trajectory of the 'lightning', the nitrogen (N2) and oxygen (O2) molecules react in the immediate vicinity of the lightning front to nitrogen oxides (NO and NO2).

Patil optimized this reactor and at a volume of 6 liters per minute managed to achieve an energy consumption level of 2.8 MJ/mole, quite an improvement on the commercially developed methods that use approximately 0.5 MJ/mole. With the theoretical minimum of Patil's reactor, however, being that much lower (0.1 MJ/mole), in the long term this plasma technique could be an energy-efficient alternative to the current energy-devouring ammonia and nitrate production. An added benefit is that Patil's method requires no extra raw materials and production can be generated on a small scale using renewable energy, making his technique ideally suited for application in remote areas that have no access to power grids, such as parts of Africa, for instance.

[...] Apart from use at remote farms, this technique can also be used to stimulate the growth of plants in greenhouses and to store sustainable energy in liquid fuels.

The PhD research of Patil was financially supported by the EU MAPSYN consortium.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday May 17 2017, @05:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the things-you-can't-drink dept.

Here is part of an abstract (Javascript required; emphasis copied from the original stories) . . .

Carbon dioxide in carbonated beverages induces ghrelin release and increased food consumption in male rats: Implications on the onset of obesity.

RESULTS: Here, we show that rats consuming gaseous beverages over a period of around 1 year gain weight at a faster rate than controls on regular degassed carbonated beverage or tap water. This is due to elevated levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and thus greater food intake in rats drinking carbonated drinks compared to control rats. Moreover, an increase in liver lipid accumulation of rats treated with gaseous drinks is shown opposed to control rats treated with degassed beverage or tap water. In a parallel study, the levels of ghrelin hormone were increased in 20 healthy human males upon drinking carbonated beverages compared to controls.

CONCLUSIONS: These results implicate a major role for carbon dioxide gas in soft drinks in inducing weight gain and the onset of obesity via ghrelin release and stimulation of the hunger response in male mammals.

Here is another article.

Fizzy water could cause obesity by encouraging you to eat more

Fizzy water could be a cause of obesity, according to a new study.

[...] The rats who drank fizzy drinks also showed signs of fat accumulating around their organs, a symptom of chronic obesity.

Levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin were "significantly higher" after the rats had had a carbonated drink.

[...] Gavin Partington, director-general of the British Soft Drinks Association, said the study was "bad science" because the outcomes for humans may not be the same as those for rats.

Regular coke has tons of sugar. So switch to Diet Coke. But that has artificial sweetener which can make you gain weight. So try La Croix flavored sparkling water, but oh, no, that is carbonated, and it can make you gain weight. Maybe bottled water? But that's probably no good either since whenever rats are experimented upon, something bad happens to them. Therefore I should just go on the wagon and stop drinking completely since even tap water is no good. Maybe researchers are being given too much money? Maybe living in cages causes problems in rats? Maybe back to regular coke.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday May 17 2017, @04:14PM   Printer-friendly
from the pretty-trashy dept.

An uninhabited island in the South Pacific is littered with the highest density of plastic waste anywhere in the world, according to a study.

Henderson Island, part of the UK's Pitcairn Islands group, has an estimated 37.7 million pieces of debris on its beaches. The island is near the centre of an ocean current, meaning it collects much rubbish from boats and South America.

Researchers hope people will "rethink their relationship with plastic".

The joint Australian and British study said the rubbish amounted to 671 items per square metre and a total of 17 tonnes.

Wikipedia has coverage of Henderson Island and notes:

Henderson Island (formerly also San Juan Bautista and Elizabeth Island) is an uninhabited island in the south Pacific Ocean. It is one of the world's last two raised coral atolls whose ecosystems remain relatively unaffected by human contact, except that they are now subject to tonnes of plastic pollution that collects there, as observed in 2017[3]. Ten of its 51 flowering plants, all four of its land birds and about a third of the identified insects and gastropods are endemic – a remarkable diversity given the island's size.[4]

Measuring 9.6 kilometres (6.0 mi) by 5.1 kilometres (3.2 mi), it has an area of 37.3 square kilometres (14.4 sq mi) and is located 193 kilometres (120 mi) northeast of Pitcairn Island.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday May 17 2017, @02:42PM   Printer-friendly
from the those-who-can't-do,-sue dept.

How do you profit from virtual reality without the need for customers or products? You sue! Fresh from winning a $500 million judgment against Facebook/Oculus, ZeniMax Media is now suing Samsung:

Carmack, whose company id Software was acquired by ZeniMax in 2009, was one of the driving forces behind the Gear VR. While the headset was released by Samsung, it's described as "powered by Oculus," with heavy software optimizations developed by Carmack. But the lawsuit alleges that Carmack owed much of his success at Oculus to software he developed as part of a team at ZeniMax.

Among other things, the Texas court filing claims that Carmack secretly brought Oculus (and former ZeniMax) employee Matt Hooper into id Software's offices to develop an "attack plan" for mobile VR, which Oculus would later take to Samsung. The Samsung Gear VR was also built on some of the same code as the Oculus Rift, which was the subject of ZeniMax's earlier lawsuit.

Also at Ars Technica and PC Gamer. Zenimax v Samsung lawsuit. Gear VR.

Previously: Zenimax Sues Oculus on Trade Secrets
Mark Zuckerberg Will Testify in Oculus VR Trade Secrets Trial
Facebook/Oculus Ordered to pay $500 Million to ZeniMax
John Carmack Sues ZeniMax for $22.5 Million
Founder of Oculus VR, Palmer Luckey, Departs Facebook

Related: Samsung to Open VR Movie Studio in New York
Goodbye Cardboard: Google to Create VR Headset to Compete with Samsung's Gear VR
Samsung Gear VR Adds a Tracked Controller

Original Submission

posted by on Wednesday May 17 2017, @01:02PM   Printer-friendly
from the time-travellers dept.

In what is quite an amazing discovery, scientists have confirmed that a bracelet found in Siberia is 40,000 years old. This makes it the oldest piece of jewelry ever discovered, and archeologists have been taken aback by the level of its sophistication.

The bracelet was discovered in a site called the Denisova Cave in Siberia, close to Russia's border with China and Mongolia. It was found next to the bones of extinct animals, such as the wooly mammoth, and other artifacts dating back 125,000 years.

The cave is named after the Denisovan people — a mysterious species of hominins from the Homo genus, who are genetically different from both Homo sapiens and Neanderthals.

[...] Strangely, however, DNA evidence also suggests that, at some point, the Denisovans must have interbred with an as yet unknown and undiscovered species of humans beings.

Skeletal remains show that the Denisovans were probably far more robust and powerful than modern humans, and were, until now, assumed to be a more primitive, archaic type of humans than us.

But, the discovery of the bracelet suggests this was far from true. Amazingly, the skill involved in making this adornment shows a level of technique at least 30,000 years ahead of its time.

It is an astonishing find, having been exquisitely crafted 30,000 years before the Stone Age, which is considered to have begun 10,000 years ago. It is like discovering a 747, made a thousand years before the Wright Brothers ever flew...

Original Submission

posted by on Wednesday May 17 2017, @11:21AM   Printer-friendly
from the leakers-are-everywhere dept.

President Donald Trump disclosed highly classified information to Russia's foreign minister about a planned Islamic State operation, two U.S. officials said on Monday, plunging the White House into another controversy just months into Trump's short tenure in office.

The intelligence, shared at a meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, was supplied by a U.S. ally in the fight against the militant group, both officials with knowledge of the situation said.

The White House declared the allegations, first reported by the Washington Post, incorrect.

[...] One of the officials said the intelligence discussed by Trump in his meeting with Lavrov was classified "Top Secret" and held in a secure "compartment" to which only a handful of intelligence officials have access.

After Trump's disclosure of the information, which one of the officials described as spontaneous, officials immediately called the CIA and the National Security Agency, both of which have agreements with a number of allied intelligence services around the world, and informed them what had happened.

Also at The Washington Post and The New York Times.

[Update.] According to Ars Technica, President Trump then proceeded to Tweet information about this meeting:

Statements from President Trump on Twitter and from White House National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster did not directly contradict details initially reported by the Washington Post late on Monday. McMaster said that no sources or methods were exposed in the conversation. However, the unnamed officials cited in the Post report were concerned that Trump's citing of the exact location "in the Islamic State’s territory where the US intelligence partner detected the threat" could expose the source. Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted:

As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017 terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017

Trump also lashed out at the intelligence community for leaking about his actions:

I have been asking Director Comey & others, from the beginning of my administration, to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community.....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 16, 2017

Original Submission

posted by on Wednesday May 17 2017, @09:54AM   Printer-friendly
from the OK-Alexa,-tell-Cortana-to-call-Siri dept.

Amazon is dominating the voice-controlled speaker market, according to a new forecast from eMarketer out this morning. The maker of the Echo-branded speakers will have 70.6 percent of all voice-enabled speaker users in the U.S. this year – well ahead of Google Home's 23.8 percent and other, smaller players like Lenovo, LG, Harmon Kardon, and Mattel, who combined only account for 5.6 percent of users.

The new report backs up another from VoiceLabs released in January, which also found that Amazon was leading the voice-first device market, thanks to Echo's popularity.

While the market itself is not expected to be a winner-take-all scenario, competitors like Amazon and Google will win entire homes, as most consumers have said they wouldn't consider buying a competing device once they already own one voice-controlled speaker.


Gee whiz!

Original Submission

posted by on Wednesday May 17 2017, @08:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the goofy-facial-hair-and-hats dept.

If you have been craving more of that real-life, edge-of-your-seat drama we enjoyed following the adventures of John McAfee just a few years ago, you're in luck.

A movie about the notorious tech magnate is in the works, with actor Johnny Depp filling the lead role, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The dark comedy, titled "King of the Jungle," is based on a 2012 Wired article about a journalist's experience chronicling McAfee's journey from tech entrepreneur to cocaine addict to fugitive.

The article, "John McAfee's Last Stand," by Joshua Davis, follows McAfee as he loses his fortune and moves to the jungle of Belize, setting up a "Colonel Kurtz-like compound of guns, sex and madness," according to The Hollwood Reporter. The movie is about escalating paranoia, slippery reality and murder, according to the report.

Original Submission

posted by on Wednesday May 17 2017, @06:33AM   Printer-friendly
from the bad-touch dept.

A police officer in East Liverpool, Ohio, collapsed and was rushed to the hospital after he brushed fentanyl residue off his uniform, allowing the drug to enter his system through his hands. The officer had apparently encountered the opioid earlier in the day while making a drug bust.

"This is scary. He could have walked out of the building and left and he could have passed out while he was driving. You don't even know it's there on his clothes," East Liverpool Police Chief John Lane told CNN.

Original Submission

posted by on Wednesday May 17 2017, @04:55AM   Printer-friendly
from the or-unicorn-poop dept.

Science Alert reports on the discovery, in images from NASA's Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft, of flashes of light from the Earth:

[...] NASA detected 866 bursts of light between June 2015 and August 2016, and they were all coming from the land.

A similar phenomenon had been seen before:

Back in 1993, astronomer Carl Sagan noticed strange flashes of light showing up in images of Earth taken by the Galileo spacecraft.


In Galileo's images, they found large glints of light, reflecting like mirrors - but he could only find them in regions of the planet covered in water.

Previously, specular reflections from water had been offered as the explanation. Now, the phenomenon is thought to be reflections from horizontal ice crystals.

Further information:
video with sound

Related stories:
Video: "One Year on Earth" from NASA's DISCOVR
NASA Releases Photos of Illuminated Dark Side of the Moon
Something Different - Space Photos of the Week from Wired
SpaceX DSCOVR Launch Postponed To Monday (18:07 ET)

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday May 17 2017, @03:13AM   Printer-friendly
from the cutting-edge dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

To add a simple date to a tombstone in the late 90s, Ron Richard, an engraver based in Southern Massachusetts, would trace the numbers onto a sheet of rubber and cut them out with an X-acto knife. By the time he'd placed the stencil onto the stone and run over it with his sandblaster (sand bounces off of the rubber portions of the stencil and carves rock exposed in the voids in between), about 20 minutes had passed.

Today, the same process takes Richard about five minutes. "It's far, far different," Richard says of his job nearly 20 years after he started his business, Northeast Stonewriters.

Richard now uses his laptop computer, which he brings with him to the cemetery, to lay out the text he wants to engrave. He uses a specialized printer, designed for the sign industry, to cut the rubber stencil according to the appropriate sizes and fonts.

Engravers and etchers like Richard, according to a survey by the US Department of Labor, now have the most automated occupation in the United States.

In the context of the current narrative of robots and software taking over jobs, this sounds like a sad story. But when I called a handful of etchers and engravers who have been in the business for decades, that's not the story they told me.

-- submitted from IRC

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday May 17 2017, @01:46AM   Printer-friendly
from the hopefully-not-kryptonite dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Blackened and irregular, the prehistoric beads found in a centuries-old Illinois grave don't look like anything special. But the latest analysis1 shows that they were fashioned from an exotic material: the shards of a meteorite that fell to Earth more than 700 kilometres from where the beads were found.

The link between the Anoka meteorite, which landed in central Minnesota, and the Illinois beads confirms that "2,000 years ago, goods and ideas were moved hundreds of miles across eastern North America", says Timothy McCoy, co-author of the analysis and curator-in-charge of meteorites at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

The beads were made by people of the Hopewell culture, which flourished in the US Midwest from 100 bc to 400 ad — spreading from its epicentre in Ohio to as far as Mississippi. The culture is known for sprawling ceremonial earthworks and for objects made of non-local materials such as mica. The iron beads were discovered in 1945 in a Hopewell grave near Havana, Illinois, alongside more than 1,000 shell and pearl beads. Together, they indicate that the grave's occupant was of high rank, says archaeologist Bret Ruby of the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe, Ohio, who was not involved with the analysis. "You've got to open a lot of clams to find 1,000 pearl beads."

Scientists have known for decades that the grave's 22 iron-nickel beads came from a meteorite, but they didn't know which one. Earlier research had ruled out the Anoka, an iron-nickel meteorite found in 1961 during the digging of a cesspool near Anoka, Minnesota.

[1] McCoy, T. J., Marquardt, A. E., Wasson, J. T., Ash, R. D. & Vicenzi, E. P. J. Archaeol. Sci. 81, 13e22 (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2017.03.003

-- submitted from IRC

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday May 17 2017, @12:16AM   Printer-friendly

An Indian teenager has built what is thought could be the world's lightest satellite, which will be put into orbit at a Nasa[sic] facility in the US in June.

Rifath Shaarook's 64-gram (0.14 lb) device was selected as the winner in a competition co-sponsored by Nasa[sic]. The 18-year-old says its main purpose was to demonstrate the performance of 3-D printed carbon fibre.

Rifath told local media his invention will go on a four-hour mission for a sub-orbital flight. During that time, the lightweight satellite will operate for around 12 minutes in a micro-gravity environment of space.

"We designed it completely from scratch," he said. "It will have a new kind of on-board computer and eight indigenous built-in sensors to measure acceleration, rotation and the magnetosphere of the earth."

We need more competitions like this that encourage young people in science, and we need the media to make a bigger deal about it.

Original Submission

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