2017-07-01 00:00:00 ..
2017-09-22 14:37:13 UTC
2017-09-23 17:50:08 UTC
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Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Human beings largely object to income inequality and are willing to correct injustice—unless, of course, it rattles their status quo.
That's the conclusion of a recent study looking at how far people would go to redistribute resources between the haves and have nots. Participants fiercely objected to "when winners become losers and losers become winners," researchers note in the paper, published in the latest issue of Nature Human Behaviour.
Researchers initially recruited Indian, American, and Chinese participants take part in an experimental game they called "the redistribution game." The gist of the game was simple: Participants were given a number of scenarios that would redistribute a fixed sum from a richer person to someone poorer. Participants were told the original standing of wealth was assigned randomly.
In the first scenario, participants had to decide if they wanted to transfer two coins from person A (who already had four coins) to person B (who had one). Researchers note the "transfer would reduce inequality," (as there's less of a gap between them), but person B would end up one coin richer than person A, reversing their status.
In the second version of game, participants were asked whether they'd transfer one coin to person B (where person A ended up with three coins and person B with two coins). Researchers ran a third and fourth scenario that allowed participants to transfer coins from person A to B, where the outcome still left person A with significantly more coins.
-- submitted from IRC
Scientists have reanimated zebrafish embryos using lasers, gold nanorods, and cryoprotectants:
Using a combination of lasers, gold particles, and antifreeze, scientists have successfully reanimated frozen zebrafish embryos. This new technique could one day help biologists bank the embryos of species at risk for extinction or preserve the genetically modified fish that scientists use to study human diseases. But first, researchers have to make sure more of the embryos can actually survive this new process.
Deep-freezing eggs, sperm, and embryos to save them for later is called cryopreservation. We've been cryopreserving sperm since the 1950s and human embryos since the 1980s. But fish embryos have been frustrating scientists for almost 60 years. With sea life threatened by warming and acidifying oceans, figuring out how to safeguard that genetic diversity is becoming more urgent.
Gold Nanorod Induced Warming of Embryos from the Cryogenic State Enhances Viability (DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.7b02216) (DX)
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Cisco has patched nine serious remote code execution vulnerabilities in the SNMP subsystem running in its IOS and IOS XE software. The vulnerabilities had been publicly disclosed.
Cisco notified users of the availability of patches after releasing its initial advisory on the matter on June 29, warning of the public disclosure as well as providing workarounds.
All releases of Cisco IOS and IOS XE software are affected, as are all versions of SNMP (1, 2c and 3), the company said. A request for comment from Cisco on the source of the public disclosures was not returned in time for publication.
Nine buffer overflow vulnerabilities (CVE-2017-6736-CVE-2017-6744) were patched, each allowing a remote attacker without authentication to use specially crafted SNMP packets to exploit the flaws and either execute code remotely or cause a system to reload, Cisco said.
Systems running SNMP version 2c or earlier can be exploited only if an attacker knows the SNMP read-only community string for the particular system. For SNMP version 3, an attacker would have to have credentials for a targeted system to carry out an attack.
"A successful exploit could allow the attacker to execute arbitrary code and obtain full control of the affected system or cause the affected system to reload," Cisco said in its advisory.
-- submitted from IRC
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Broadband providers made it clear this week: they wholeheartedly support net neutrality... but they want to overturn those pesky net neutrality rules and replace them with something that isn't so strict.
In fact, the way to truly protect net neutrality is to keep the Internet free of regulations, Internet provider CenturyLink wrote. "Keep the Internet Open and Free—Without Regulation" was the title of CenturyLink's blog post Wednesday.
"Reversing the FCC's 2015 Internet regulation order will do several positive things: Increase customer choice, spur innovation and investment, [and] create lasting consumer and competitive protections," CenturyLink wrote.
Comcast, meanwhile, accused net neutrality supporters of "creat[ing] hysteria."
This was part of a flurry of activity by ISPs and broadband lobby groups in response to yesterday's "Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality," a protest of the Federal Communications Commission plan to deregulate broadband and eliminate or replace net neutrality rules. All of the ISPs and lobby groups claimed to support net neutrality even though they have fought against the FCC's attempts to enforce rules against blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization.
The Day of Action resulted in more than 3.4 million e-mails to Congress and more than 1.6 million comments to the FCC, protest organizer Fight for the Future said yesterday. "More than 125,000 websites, people, artists, online creators, and organizations" signed up to participate in the protest, the group said.
The net neutrality docket now has 7.3 million comments.
-- submitted from IRC
I saw an story in Slate about stagnant wages in an economy that is growing otherwise:
There's a disturbance in the force of the U.S. economy. An airline canceled flights because it couldn't find enough pilots to steer them. Despite high demand, homebuilders in Colorado are throttling back activity because they can't find the workers to erect frames. Farmers in Alabama are fretting that crops may rot in the ground for a lack of workers to bring in the harvest.
[...] There are a whopping 5.7 million job openings (well over twice the level of eight years ago). Meanwhile, baby boomers are aging out of the workforce at a rapid clip and Mexicans, many of whom crossed the border to work, have been leaving the U.S. for years. The demand for workers is high.
Given these conditions, wages should be rising sharply. But look at this chart from the Atlanta Federal Reserve: They haven't been, and they're not. … Last week, the New York Times featured a Columbus, Ohio, cleaning company owner mystified that he couldn't find applicants for his $9.25-per-hour jobs ("I sometimes wish there was actually a higher unemployment rate," he actually said) and a Nebraska roofer who couldn't figure out why nobody applied for the $17-an-hour jobs she was offering. "The pay is fair," she said.
Actually, if not a single person applies for your job, the pay probably isn't fair. But that's where America remains stubbornly stuck: Employers won't pay enough, and workers either won't or can't demand more. There are likely a lot of reasons, but the biggest, or least most fixable, may be psychological: From an economic perspective, both sides of the hiring market should have the power to increase overall wages in the current climate—but they aren't.
[...] There could be a skills gap in which the workers out there simply don't have the training necessary to fill the open jobs. Or it could be that, as Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times ventured on Twitter, that "a lot of American businesses have lost the muscle memory of how to compete for workers." That is to say, they have literally forgotten the words to use, and the tools to deploy, when workers aren't lining up in droves to fill their positions.
I also found this in the Daily Caller. It discusses the shortage of H2B workers this year. Most folks here know about H1B workers... H2B is program for low skill seasonal workers which has seen rule changes and cuts this year.
Businesses in Bar Harbor, Maine are turning to locals to make up for a shortage of foreign guest workers that normally fill summer jobs in the bustling seaside resort town.
Because the H-2B visa program has already reached its annual quota, Bar Harbor's hotels, restaurants and shops can't bring in any more foreign workers for the rest of the busy summer tourist season.
[...] The shortage is so acute that companies are sweetening incentives for local workers. Searchfield says some businesses are offering flexible schedules that might appeal to older workers who might be interested in working only a day or two each week. And other companies have gone so far as to offer higher wages to entice locals.
DARPA has announced the winners of six contracts related to neural engineering:
Here's a brief snapshot of the teams chosen and the focus of their work (for additional details, refer to the NESD factsheet):
- Brown University team led by Dr. Arto Nurmikko will seek to decode neural processing of speech, focusing on the tone and vocalization aspects of auditory perception. The team's proposed interface would be composed of networks of up to 100,000 untethered, submillimeter-sized "neurograin" sensors implanted onto or into the cerebral cortex. A separate RF unit worn or implanted as a flexible electronic patch would passively power the neurograins and serve as the hub for relaying data to and from an external command center that transcodes and processes neural and digital signals.
- Columbia University team led by Dr. Ken Shepard will study vision and aims to develop a non-penetrating bioelectric interface to the visual cortex. The team envisions layering over the cortex a single, flexible complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) integrated circuit containing an integrated electrode array. A relay station transceiver worn on the head would wirelessly power and communicate with the implanted device.
- Fondation Voir et Entendre team led by Drs. Jose-Alain Sahel and Serge Picaud will study vision. The team aims to apply techniques from the field of optogenetics to enable communication between neurons in the visual cortex and a camera-based, high-definition artificial retina worn over the eyes, facilitated by a system of implanted electronics and micro-LED optical technology.
- John B. Pierce Laboratory team led by Dr. Vincent Pieribone will study vision. The team will pursue an interface system in which modified neurons capable of bioluminescence and responsive to optogenetic stimulation communicate with an all-optical prosthesis for the visual cortex.
- Paradromics, Inc., team led by Dr. Matthew Angle aims to create a high-data-rate cortical interface using large arrays of penetrating microwire electrodes for high-resolution recording and stimulation of neurons. As part of the NESD program, the team will seek to build an implantable device to support speech restoration. Paradromics' microwire array technology exploits the reliability of traditional wire electrodes, but by bonding these wires to specialized CMOS electronics the team seeks to overcome the scalability and bandwidth limitations of previous approaches using wire electrodes.
- University of California, Berkeley, team led by Dr. Ehud Isacoff aims to develop a novel "light field" holographic microscope that can detect and modulate the activity of up to a million neurons in the cerebral cortex. The team will attempt to create quantitative encoding models to predict the responses of neurons to external visual and tactile stimuli, and then apply those predictions to structure photo-stimulation patterns that elicit sensory percepts in the visual or somatosensory cortices, where the device could replace lost vision or serve as a brain-machine interface for control of an artificial limb.
Also at DARPA.
Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo died in custody on Thursday. Now comes the censorship:
After Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese dissident and 2010 Nobel Peace laureate, died in custody on Thursday evening, his Chinese admirers went online to voice their sympathy and grief — and countless government censors buckled down for a long night's work.
The Chinese government's drive to silence discussion of Liu — who died of liver cancer at age 61 — predates even 2009, when he was handed an 11-year sentence for helping draft Charter 08, a document calling for multiparty democracy and freedom of speech. On Chinese social networks, searches for "Liu Xiaobo" return nothing, and most Chinese citizens barely know his name.
Yet on Friday, China's social media sites were filled with expressions of solidarity and grief, suggesting that Liu's case — and his ideals — may be more influential in China than many outsiders believe. These expressions were often cryptic and muted — snatches of poetry, allegorical quotes — but still, the censors responded in force.
On Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, they deleted photos of Liu and his wife, Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest since Liu's arrest, though she has never been charged with a crime. They blocked flickering candle emojis, the letters RIP and LXB, and the dates "1955-2017," the years of Liu's birth and death. They removed poems by Liu and Liu Xia; photos of the South African revolutionary Nelson Mandela, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1993; and even the phrase: "someone died today."
"I think this kind of pokes a hole in the narrative that he's not well known in China," said William Nee, a Hong Kong-based researcher at Amnesty International. "I don't know if I'd characterize this as a paradigm shift. But it might be that some of the seeds he'd started to plant — or, the ideas in Charter 08 — have started to bear fruit among the rights defense community, and they're becoming more well known and are spreading among parts of the general public."
[...] Yet Friday's outpouring of support also exposed some of the censorship apparatus' weaknesses. On Friday, "LXB" was censored, but "XB" was not. The Chinese word for candle — 蜡烛 — was censored, but adding a space between the characters — 蜡 烛 — brought up several results, many related to Liu's death.
This editorial will set you straight.
The Register reports that registrar logins hacked and 750 web addresses were compromised:
More than 750 domain names were hijacked through the internet's own systems, registrar Gandi has admitted.
Late last week, an unknown individual managed to get hold of the company's login to one of its technical providers, which then connects to no fewer than 27 other top-level domains, including .asia, .au, .ch, .jp and .se.
Using that login, the attacker managed to change the domain details on the official nameservers for 751 domains on a range of top-level domains, and redirect them all to a specific website serving up malware.
The changes went unnoticed for four hours until one [of] the registry operators reported the suspicious changes to Gandi. Within an hour, Gandi's technical team identified the problem, changed all the logins and started reverting the changes made – a process that took three-and-a-half hours, according to the company's incident report, published this week.
[...] "We sincerely apologize that this incident occurred," said its report. "Please be assured that our priority remains on the security of your data and that we will continue to protect your security and privacy in the face of ever-evolving threats."
Music hosting biz SoundCloud, having just axed 40 per cent of its staff, is now trying to ward off rumors that it will go broke in less than two months.
The song-sharing service was rumored to be in crisis mode and had to shut its doors, with just 50 days of funding left before it ran out of cash. A spokesperson insisted Thursday, however, that this is not the case, and that following last week's layoffs, SoundCloud is going to be able to turn a profit soon.
[...] This comes as SoundCloud struggles to get its advertising and subscription revenues up high enough to push the music-sharing service into the black. Since 2008, the company has relied on VC funding to stay afloat and, after nine years, is still trying to turn a profit.
On Thursday afternoon, a photograph of a car trailing a massive stream of snot and also possibly eels began appearing on Twitter. It was a horror show — and the people had questions. Like, what in the world happened? And does insurance cover slime damage?
[...] The car sliming happened in Oregon on Thursday afternoon. And it turns out, the eel-like creatures are not, in fact, eels. They’re Pacific hagfish — primitive jawless fish that are sometimes called slime eels for the mind-boggling quantities of goo they produce when they feel threatened — like, say, when the truck transporting them tipped over in a five-car crash. The accident sent 7,500 pounds of hagfishes sloshing over an Oregon roadway, dousing nearby cars.
Note from submitter: The pictures in the article are definitely worth a look!
The top Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives' antitrust subcommittee has voiced concerns about Amazon.com Inc's $13.7 billion plan to buy Whole Foods Market Inc and is pushing for a hearing to look into the deal's potential impact on consumers.
The deal announced in June marks the biggest acquisition for the world's largest online retailer. Amazon has not said what it will do with Whole Foods' stores and other assets, but analysts and investors worry the move could upend the landscape for grocers, food delivery services and meal-kit companies.
U.S. Representative David Cicilline requested the hearing on Thursday in a letter to the chair of the House Judiciary Committee and the subcommittee chairman. Shares of Amazon were up 0.3 percent in mid-morning trading on Friday. "Amazon's proposed purchase of Whole Foods could impact neighborhood grocery stores and hardworking consumers across America," Cicilline said in a statement. "Congress has a responsibility to fully scrutinize this merger before it goes ahead."
The deal must be approved by U.S. antitrust enforcers, in this case most likely the Federal Trade Commission.
From U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline's letter:
Some have also raised concerns that the transaction will also increase Amazon's online dominance, enabling it to prioritize its products and services over competitors. Amazon uses its e-commerce platform, which reaches nearly half of American online shoppers, "to spot new products to sell, test sales of potential new goods, and exert more control over pricing." Expanding its retail footprint through this transaction may increase the risks of self-dealing and preferential treatment of its goods on this platform. According to a report by ProPublica Amazon's pricing algorithm favors Amazon and its sellers by favoring "its own products ahead of better deals offered by others it charges for services." Acquiring additional sources of consumer data through this transaction may increase the risk of self-dealing or enable Amazon to leverage its platform over other businesses. As Gene Kimmelman, the President of Public Knowledge, recently observed, questions of platform dominance should be taken seriously to ensure that "no company uses its market power to foreclose competition, or to leverage its success in one market to gain an unfair advantage in another."
The earliest asteroids were probably made of mud, not rock. Radioactive heat in the early solar system could have melted globs of dust and ice before they had a chance to turn to rock [open, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602514] [DX], a new simulation published July 14 in Science Advances shows. The results could solve several puzzles about the composition of meteorites found on Earth and may explain why asteroids are different from comets.
[...] Bland reasoned that heat from radioactive decay would melt the ice, and the resulting body would be an enormous dollop of mud. The mud would suspend sediment particles, so they wouldn't be stripped of their sunlike elements. And it would allow the early asteroids to be any size and remain cool.
Bland and Bryan Travis of the Planetary Science Institute, who is based in Los Alamos, N.M., ran computer models of how the mud balls would evolve. Convection currents, like those that move molten rock within the Earth's mantle, would develop, helping to transfer heat into space, the models showed. After several million years, the ball would harden completely, yielding the asteroids seen today.
Designers can extend Moore's Law scaling beyond the 5-nanometer node by choosing two-dimensional anisotropic (faster with the grain) materials such as monolayers of black phosphorus, according to Imec (Leuven, Belgium). Researchers from the nonprofit semiconductor research institute described their findings at the annual Imec Technology Forum, held in San Francisco on the eve of Semicon West (July 11-13).
Imec's demonstration project focused on field-effect transistors for high-performance logic applications as part of its Core CMOS program. Using co-optimization at the material, device, and circuit levels, Imec and its collaborators proved the concept using 2-D monolayers of anisotropic black phosphorus with a smaller effective mass in the transport direction. The black phosphorus was sandwiched between interfacial layers of low-k dielectric, with stacked dual gates deployed atop high-k dielectrics to control the atomically thin channels.
Imec demonstrated the co-optimization approach at the 10-nm node but says the architecture could function with sub-half volt (<0.5-V) power supplies and an effective oxide thickness of less than 50 angstroms (0.5 nm), allowing its FETs to extend Moore's Law for high-performance logic applications below the 5-nanometer node.
Two astronomers from the Complutense University of Madrid in Spain studied 22 "extreme" TNOs (ETNOs), which orbit the sun at an average distance of at least 150 AU and never get closer than Neptune. (Neptune lies about 30 AU from the sun and orbits on a roughly circular path.) Specifically, the duo analyzed the ETNOs' "nodes," the two points at which the objects cross the plane of the solar system. (Distant bodies such as ETNOs tend not to lie in the same plane as the sun and the solar system's eight officially recognized planets.)
The researchers found that the objects' nodes generally aggregate at certain distances from the sun (as do those of 24 "extreme Centaurs," very distant objects with some characteristics of asteroids and others of comets). In addition, they discovered a correlation between the nodes' positions and an orbital parameter known as inclination.
The new results back the Planet Nine hypothesis, said lead author Carlos de la Fuente Marcos. "Assuming that the ETNOs are dynamically similar to the comets that interact with Jupiter, we interpret these results as signs of the presence of a planet that is actively interacting with them in a range of distances from 300 to 400 AU," he told Spain's Information and Scientific News Service, which is known by its Spanish acronym, SINC. "We believe that what we are seeing here cannot be attributed to the presence of observational bias."
Also at EarthSky.
Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:
Here's another reason to start the day with a cup of joe: Scientists have found that people who drink coffee appear to live longer.
Drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of death due to heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and respiratory and kidney disease for African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Latinos and whites.
People who consumed a cup of coffee a day were 12 percent less likely to die compared to those who didn't drink coffee. This association was even stronger for those who drank two to three cups a day -- 18 percent reduced chance of death.
Lower mortality was present regardless of whether people drank regular or decaffeinated coffee, suggesting the association is not tied to caffeine, said Veronica W. Setiawan, lead author of the study and an associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
"We cannot say drinking coffee will prolong your life, but we see an association," Setiawan said. "If you like to drink coffee, drink up! If you're not a coffee drinker, then you need to consider if you should start."
The study, which will be published in the July 11 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, used data from the Multiethnic Cohort Study, a collaborative effort between the University of Hawaii Cancer Center and the Keck School of Medicine.
-- submitted from IRC
Two studies showed a link between coffee-drinking and a propensity toward longevity, but stopped short of proving cause and effect. [...] one downside to the research is the fact that many people stop drinking coffee -- or drink less of it -- when they are ill, a "bias that is very hard to fully overcome."