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2018-01-17 20:14:45 UTC
2018-01-18 08:18:51 UTC
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A system of at least five exoplanets has been discovered by citizen scientists through a project called Exoplanet Explorers, part of the online platform Zooniverse, using data from NASA's Kepler space telescope. This is the first multi-planet system discovered entirely through crowdsourcing. A study describing the system has been accepted for publication in The Astronomical Journal.
Thousands of citizen scientists got to work on Kepler data in 2017 when Exoplanet Explorers launched. It was featured on a program called Stargazing Live on the Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). On the final night of the three-day program, researchers announced the discovery of a four-planet system. Since then, they have named it K2-138 and determined that it has a fifth planet -- and perhaps even a sixth, according to the new paper.
The K2-138 System: A Near-resonant Chain of Five Sub-Neptune Planets Discovered by Citizen Scientists (open, DOI: 10.3847/1538-3881/aa9be0) (DX) (arXiv)
Deep in a swamp in the Russian republic of Tuva, SNSF-funded archaeologist Gino Caspari has discovered an undisturbed Scythian burial mound. All the evidence suggests that this is not only the largest Scythian princely tomb in South Siberia, but also the earliest -- and that it may be harbouring some outstandingly well-preserved treasures.
Gino Caspari made the most significant find in his career to date not with a shovel, but at a computer. A recipient of Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) funding, archaeologist Caspari discovered a circular structure on high-resolution satellite images of the Uyuk River valley (Siberia) on his computer screen. An initial trial dig carried out this summer by the Bern University scientist together with the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Hermitage Museum confirmed his suspicion: the structure is a kurgan, a Scythian princely tomb.
[...] Wooden beams found by Caspari during the test excavation date back to the 9th century BC, predating Arzhan 1, which was built at the turn of the 9th to the 8th century BC and excavated in the 1970s. "We have a great opportunity here," says a delighted Caspari, commenting on the results of the trial dig published in the current issue of Archaeological Research in Asia (*).
[...] The climatic characteristics of the Siberian soil add to Caspari's hopes. In the Uyuk Valley, the permafrost layer largely begins just a few metres below the surface. Everything above that thaws in summer, and organic material rots. However, beneath the thick stone packing of the kurgans, the rays of sunlight are unable to thaw out the soil. "Very rarely ice lenses form directly beneath the kurgans," explains Caspari. The ice prevents the decay of organic matter and preserves sensitive material. Caspari is expecting further finds to be unearthed in the course of the project: "If we're lucky, we might even find some well-preserved wood carvings or carpets under the stones, or perhaps an ice mummy."
Gino Caspari, Timur Sadykov, Jegor Blochin, Irka Hajdas. Tunnug 1 (Arzhan 0) – an early Scythian kurgan in Tuva Republic, Russia. Archaeological Research in Asia, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.ara.2017.11.001
India on Friday deployed a remote sensing Cartosat and 30 other satellites, including 28 from six nations into the earth's orbit after a copybook launch from its spaceport here. The 44.4-metre tall Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C40) roared into a clear sky after a perfect lift-off at 9.29 a.m. following a 28-hour countdown. The 320-tonne rocket would eject the satellites one-by-one and deploy them into the earth's lower orbit 17 minutes and 18 seconds after the lift-off.
Of the 31 satellites, three are Indian and the rest are from Canada, Finland, France, South Korea, UK and the US.
[YouTube Video]: The Launch of PSLV-C40 / Cartosat-2 Series Satellite
Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard
Porn streaming sites were accessed from UK parliament 24,000 times in six months, figures have shown.
I'm torn between making a "bunch of wankers" joke and castigating them for being underachievers.
Since its inception, Skype has been notable for its secretive, proprietary algorithm. It's also long had a complicated relationship with encryption: encryption is used by the Skype protocol, but the service has never been clear exactly how that encryption was implemented or exactly which privacy and security features it offers.
That changes today in a big way. The newest Skype preview now supports the Signal protocol: the end-to-end encrypted protocol already used by WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Allo, and, of course, Signal. Skype Private Conversations will support text, audio calls, and file transfers, with end-to-end encryption that Microsoft, Signal, and, it's believed, law enforcement agencies cannot eavesdrop on.
Presently, Private Conversations are only available in the Insider builds of Skype.
Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd
French startup Blade, the company behind Shadow, is about to expand its cloud gaming service to the U.S. Customers who live in California can pre-order starting today, and they'll be able to access the service on February 15th. The rest of the U.S. will be able to subscribe later this summer.
Shadow is currently live in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg. For a flat monthly fee, you can rent a gaming PC in a data center near you. You can then access this beefy computer using desktop and mobile apps as well as the company's own little box. It's a full-fledged Windows 10 instance — you can install Steam, Battle.net or whatever you want.
Behind the scene, each user gets a high-end dedicated Nvidia GPU. The company is currently using a mix of GeForce GTX 1080 and Quadro P5000. Shadow also gives you 8 threads on an Intel Xeon 2620 processor, 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Overall, it represents 8.2 teraflops of computing power — as a comparison, Microsoft promises 6 teraflops with the Xbox One X.
In Europe, the service currently costs $54 per month, or $42 per month with a three-month commitment, or $36 if you're willing to pay for a year (€44.95/€34.95/€29.95). American customers will pay more or less the same thing for the cheapest tier — $34.95 per month for a one-year commitment.
The House of Representatives passed legislation Thursday that would extend a controversial government spying power known as "Section 702" for another six years—without new privacy safeguards that had been sought by civil liberties groups.
Debate over the legislation now shifts over to the Senate, where it faces a filibuster threat from both Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
"If this Section 702 bill comes to the Senate, I will filibuster it," Wyden wrote in a tweet shortly after the House bill passed.
Wyden opposes the legislation because he believes that it offers too few protections for Americans' privacy rights. The powers granted by Section 702 are only supposed to be used against foreigners on foreign soil. But an American's communications can get swept up in the NSA's surveillance dragnet if they communicate with people overseas. Privacy advocates have championed an amendment to impose new privacy safeguards on the use of Section 702. But it was voted down by the House on Thursday.
[...] There isn't much time for the Senate to act. Section 702 expires on January 19, a little more than a week away.
Just a year ago, poliovirus seemed on its last legs in Pakistan, one of its final strongholds. Polio cases were steadily falling, from 306 in 2014 to 54 in 2015, 20 in 2016, and, by last count, eight in 2017. Blood tests showed that, overall, immunity to the virus had never been higher, even among children aged 6 to 11 months, thanks to years of tireless vaccination campaigns. Surely, there were not enough susceptible kids to sustain transmission, and the virus would burn itself out within a year.
Unsettling new findings, however, show it is far from gone. In the most extensive effort in any country to scour the environment for traces of the virus, polio workers are finding it widely across Pakistan, in places they thought it had disappeared. They are wondering "just what the hell is going on" and how worried they should be, says epidemiologist Chris Maher of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, who runs polio operations in the eastern Mediterranean region. Does this mean the virus is more entrenched than anyone realized and is poised to resurge? Or is this how a virus behaves in its final days—persisting in the environment but not causing disease until it fades out?
[...] Along with Afghanistan and Nigeria, Pakistan is one of just three endemic countries—places where indigenous wild poliovirus has never been vanquished.
[...] Since the eradication effort began in 1988, the gold standard for detecting poliovirus has been surveillance for acute flaccid paralysis (AFP)—finding and testing every child with a sudden weakness or floppiness in the arms or legs. The yearly case count has been the benchmark for success: After 12 months without a polio case, WHO has historically removed a country from the endemic list.
Polio workers collect sewage samples, usually from open drainage ditches, and test them for virus. If the test is positive, that means someone in the catchment area is infected and actively excreting it. Pakistan now has 53 sampling sites, more than any other country. And at a time when cases are the lowest on record, 16% of samples from across the country are testing positive.
[...] One possible explanation for the disconnect is that AFP surveillance is missing cases. Maher doubts that the number is significant, but others suspect that too many children among the mobile populations, including the marginalized Pashtun minority, still aren't being vaccinated despite ramped up efforts to reach them. "I don't think polio is entrenched across Pakistan, but this last reservoir of 'people on the move' is sustaining the virus," says Steve Cochi, a polio expert at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
[...] The program is not taking any chances. The response to each positive environmental test is now as aggressive as to a case of paralysis. And the program is hammering the virus with repeated vaccination campaigns throughout the "low season," between December and May, when cold weather makes it tougher for the virus to survive. Whether the strategy works will become clear later this year when the weather turns warm. But one thing is certain: The absence of cases is no longer enough to declare victory over polio. Going forward, a country will not be considered polio-free until 12 months have passed without a case—or a positive environmental sample.
France is set to launch a champagne box-sized mini satellite into Earth orbit on Friday to study a mysterious, juvenile planet system in our Milky Way galaxy, mission controllers said.
The PicSat orbiter's target is the massive star Beta Pictoris, some 60 light years from Earth in the southern constellation of Pictor (The Painter's Easel), and its planet Beta Pictoris b—a gassy giant.
Built at the Paris Observatory's LESIA laboratory, with European backing, PicSat is due to be launched in the early-morning hours of Friday on an Indian PSLV rocket.
It will orbit our planet at an altitude of some 500 kilometres (310 miles), hoping to learn more about Beta Pictoris b by observing the next time it transits its host star, appearing as a dot on the bright surface as seen from Earth's perspective.
Beta Pictoris b, the only currently known exoplanet in the system, has a mass of about 7 Jupiter masses and orbits at a distance of around 9.2 AU.
The PicSat mission will continuously monitor for a transit, which could last for up to a few hours, in order to alert more powerful observatories:
The nominal PicSat mission will last for one year. When the start of a planetary or other transit is observed, the 3.6-meter telescope from the European Southern Observatory in La Sille, Chile, will also be immediately put into action to observe Beta Pictoris using the powerful HARPS instrument. These data combined will allow an even better understanding of the phenomenon.
64-layer 3D NAND is shipping, but the 256Gbit die will come and go rapidly. That's what makes this NAND cycle different. Many of the companies we've spoken to do not want to invest in products with such a limited shelf life. The 512Gbit die are right around the corner from the fabs. Some estimates put a major ramp up coming before mid year. The technology offers a 2x capacity increase while taking only a little more space on the wafer. The bits per wafer doesn't double, but it gets very close. The retail products coming in the second half of 2018 with have a heavy impact on SSD pricing. Some estimates from engineers we've spoken with put retail pricing on track for a 20% to 30% reduction over similar-capacity products shipping today.
Emerging technologies and form factors that reduce the material costs will also play a role. Toshiba Memory America showcased the new RC100 NVMe SSD that uses multi-chip packaging to cram the controller and flash in a single package.
Toshiba has described stacking 8-16 512 Gb dies with through silicon vias (TSVs) to create 512 GB and 1 TB packages. Samsung plans to stack 32 256 Gb dies to make 1 TB packages for an upcoming 128 TB SSD.
Previously: SK Hynix Plans 72-Layer 512 Gb NAND for Late 2017
SK Hynix Developing 96 and 128-Layer TLC 3D NAND
Intel First to Market With 64-Layer 3D NAND SSDs
Western Digital Announces 96-Layer 3D NAND, Including Both TLC and QLC
Toshiba's 3D QLC NAND Could Reach 1000 P/E Cycles
WD Announces 64-Layer 3D QLC NAND With 768 Gb Per Die, to be Shown at Flash Memory Summit
Amid the ongoing Meltdown fiasco, Intel has only one way to go in the data center... down. Intel may be forced to offer discounts or rebates to prevent customers from eventually moving to AMD x86 chips (such as Epyc) or even ARM chips:
Intel chips back 98% of data center operations, according to industry consultancy IDC. [...] Microsoft said on Tuesday the patches necessary to secure the threats could have a significant performance impact on servers.
[...] For Gleb Budman's company, San Mateo-based online storage firm Backblaze, building with ARM chips would not be difficult. "If ARM provides enough computing power at lower cost or lower power than x86, it would be a strong incentive for us to switch," said Budman. "If the fix for x86 results in a dramatically decreased level of performance, that might increasingly push in favor of switching to ARM."
Infinitely Virtual, a Los Angeles-based cloud computing vendor, is counting on Intel to replace equipment or offer a rebate to make up for the loss in computing power, Chief Executive Adam Stern said in an interview. "If Intel doesn't step up and do something to make this right then we're going to have to punish them in the marketplace by not purchasing their products," said Stern, whose company relies exclusively on Intel processors.
[...] Both Qualcomm and Cavium are developing ARM chips aimed at data centers. Cavium said it aimed to rival the performance of Intel chips for applications like databases and the content-delivery networks that help speed things like how fast online videos load.
Although Russia has plans to detach some of its modules from the International Space Station (ISS) in order to form the basis of a new space station, the majority of the ISS may be deorbited as soon as 2024 or 2028:
Over the course of six missions, the British-born Nasa astronaut has spent more than a year in space. Foale has flown in the Space Shuttle and the Russian Soyuz, lived on the Mir space station and commanded the International Space Station (ISS). He’s carried out four space walks, totalling almost 23 hours outside in both Russian and American spacesuits. These included an epic eight-hour spacewalk to upgrade the computer on the Hubble Space Telescope.
[...] A joint enterprise between the US, Russia, the European Space Agency (Esa), Japan and Canada, the ISS has now been continuously occupied since 2000. And, over that time, has increasingly come to justify its $100bn (£75bn) cost. [...] But the station's days are numbered. Funding by the various space agencies involved is only agreed until 2024. This means in just six years' time, the most expensive structure ever built will be pushed out of orbit by a Progress spacecraft to disintegrate over the Pacific. And the countdown clock is ticking. "Year by year, Russia is launching the fuel to fill up the tanks of the ISS service module to enable the space station to be deorbited," says Foale. "That's the current plan – I think it's a bad plan, a massive waste of a fantastic resource."
[...] Since leaving Nasa, Foale has been working in the private sector on new aviation technologies and believes commercial operators could step-in to secure the future of the ISS. "I'm hoping that commercial space can come up with a business plan that allows part of the ISS to be maintained in space, without sinking it into the Pacific Ocean," he says. "You have to come up with innovative ways of keeping it in space." The ISS already supports some commercial operations. A private company, NanoRacks, operates experiments in equipment racks on the station for private clients. The station is increasingly also being used to launch small satellites into orbit, carried up in commercial spacecraft such as SpaceX's Dragon robotic supply ship. The Russian space agency takes tourists to the station and has even suggested it might build a hotel module.
[...] In the meantime, Foale is formulating his campaign to save the ISS and says he plans to launch websites to gather support to help save the space station. He says he intends to keep pressure on the space agencies to continue to fund the programme. "Every engineer, manager, astronaut or cosmonaut who's worked on the ISS, we all think the space station is such an achievement on behalf of humanity that it should continue," he says. "I'm still giving Nasa a chance to tell me how they're going to do it."
But, unless the private sector steps in, Foale fears that in 2024 the space agencies – and the politicians that fund them – will end up destroying one of the world's greatest engineering accomplishments, not to mention a massive economic investment by millions of taxpayers around the world.
Save it, send it to the Moon, or burn it?
The Wordfence blog has an examination of an emerging attack on the Wordpress ecosystem.
[...] In the software industry, a supply chain attack exploits a trusted relationship between software vendors or authors and their customers. For WordPress, that means figuring out how to embed malware into software updates. In one case, we saw an existing plugin author install malware on customer sites in an effort to monetize an existing plugin. In every other case we have uncovered, the attack was carried out by someone who had purchased the plugin with the express intention of attacking its users.
This is a follow-up to December's discovery of backdoor code in three mildly popular plug-ins. Those otherwise-trusted plug-ins had been purchased from the original developer by a third party, who then injected malicious code in subsequent updates.
In the last two weeks, the WordPress.org repository has closed three plugins because they contained content-injection backdoors. ... Each of them had been purchased in the previous six months as part of the same supply chain attack, with the goal of injecting SEO spam into the sites running the plugins.
While everyone was screaming about Meltdown and Spectre, another urgent security fix was already in progress for many corporate data centers and cloud providers who use products from Dell's EMC and VMware units. A trio of critical, newly reported vulnerabilities in EMC and VMware backup and recovery tools—EMC Avamar, EMC NetWorker, EMC Integrated Data Protection Appliance, and vSphere Data Protection—could allow an attacker to gain root access to the systems or to specific files, or inject malicious files into the server's file system. These problems can only be fixed with upgrades. While the EMC vulnerabilities were announced late last year, VMware only became aware of its vulnerability last week.
[...] For those familiar with the architecture of these products, the vulnerabilities may not be a surprise—EMC Avamar and the other applications use Apache Tomcat, which was patched multiple times last year to address critical security vulnerabilities. However, it's not clear whether these patches were incorporated into earlier updates of the EMC and VMware products or if any of the bugs just fixed in updates of the EMC/VMware products were Tomcat related.
Buried glaciers have been spotted on Mars, offering new hints about how much water may be accessible on the Red Planet and where it is located, researchers said Thursday.
Although ice has long been known to exist on Mars, a better understanding of its depth and location could be vital to future human explorers, said the report in the US journal Science.
[...] Scientists have not determined how these particular scarps initially form. However, once the buried ice becomes exposed to Mars' atmosphere, a scarp likely grows wider and taller as it "retreats," due to sublimation of the ice directly from solid form into water vapor. At some of them, the exposed deposit of water ice is more than 100 yards, or meter[sic], thick. Examination of some of the scarps with MRO's Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) confirmed that the bright material is frozen water. A check of the surface temperature using Odyssey's Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) camera helped researchers determine they're not seeing just thin frost covering the ground.