2019-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2019-05-18 18:06:00 UTC
2019-05-19 12:21:38 UTC
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Nobel Prize-winning American scientist James Watson has been stripped of his honorary titles after repeating comments about race and intelligence.
In a TV programme, the pioneer in DNA studies made a reference to a view that genes cause a difference on average between blacks and whites on IQ tests. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory said the 90-year-old scientist's remarks were "unsubstantiated and reckless". Dr Watson had made similar claims in 2007 and subsequently apologised.
He shared the Nobel in 1962 with Maurice Wilkins and Francis Crick for their 1953 discovery of the DNA's double helix structure.
Dr Watson sold his gold medal in 2014, saying he had been ostracised by the scientific community after his remarks about race. He is currently in a nursing home recovering from a car accident and is said to have "very minimal" awareness of his surroundings.
Previously: Disgraced Scientist is Selling his Nobel Prize
NPR covers a recent recruitment campaign by the British military.
Are you a "binge gamer"?
An unfocused office prankster?
A "me me me millennial"?
If so, the British army wants to recruit you.
It's all part of a new advertising campaign unveiled by the U.K. Defense Ministry aimed at 16- to 25-year-olds "looking for a job with purpose," according to a statement.
In videos, radio spots and posters, the advertisements take negative stereotypes about Generation Z — and their predecessors, the notorious millennials — and rebrand them as strengths. Self-centeredness becomes "self-belief," phone obsession becomes "focus" and selfies become "confidence."
The posters are hillarious, worth a peek at the original article.
The Washington Post reports FBI’s investigation of Trump included a counterintelligence inquiry:
The FBI investigation into President Trump that was opened almost immediately after he fired then-Director James B. Comey also included a counterintelligence component to determine if the president was seeking to help Russia, and if so, why, according to people familiar with the matter.
The decision by then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe to open an investigation of a sitting president was a momentous step, but it came after Trump had cited the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election in his decision to fire Comey, these people said.
The counterintelligence component of the Trump investigation was first reported by the New York Times.
Late Saturday night, Fox News host Jeanine Pirro asked Trump in an interview if he is or ever was working for Russia. Trump responded, "I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked." Referring to the New York Times story, he went on, "I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written."
See also The Guardian.
Something strange is going on at the top of the world. Earth’s north magnetic pole has been skittering away from Canada and towards Siberia, driven by liquid iron sloshing within the planet’s core. The magnetic pole is moving so quickly that it has forced the world’s geomagnetism experts into a rare move.
On 15 January, they are set to update the World Magnetic Model, which describes the planet’s magnetic field and underlies all modern navigation, from the systems that steer ships at sea to Google Maps on smartphones.
The most recent version of the model came out in 2015 and was supposed to last until 2020 — but the magnetic field is changing so rapidly that researchers have to fix the model now. “The error is increasing all the time,” says Arnaud Chulliat, a geomagnetist at the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Centers for Environmental Information.
Privacy advocates have been on about how big data and large datasets can be be used against the population for decades. Now key data released by the immigration department may provide the key to bringing barbaric crimes out into the open. Data released by the Government shows thousands of child brides allowed by immigration. Accounts by some of the victims detail how they were used to gain access to America even though they were underage. While some senators have sworn to close the loopholes used to bring child brides into the US we can only expect more of this type of activity to come to light in the future as the public engages in analysis of data released by governments.
Residents in a Sydney suburb have rejected small cell Huawei boxes that are part of the 5G rollout. While this type of infrastructure normally requires approval, these boxes are simply being stuck on poles around the place. Their purpose is to supplement the forthcoming 5G network which will replace the existing 3G/4G network in the future. The residents so far are limiting themselves to requesting the local council to removing the undesired boxes.
University of Adelaide researchers have discovered a new complex carbohydrate in barley. The first of its kind to be discovered in over 30 years, the cereal polysaccharide has potential applications in food, medicine and cosmetics.
[...] The new polysaccharide is a mix of glucose, commonly found in cellulose, and xylose, which is found in dietary fibre. Based on the relative proportions of each sugar, the hybrid polysaccharide has the potential to behave as a structural component of the wall providing strength or conversely as a viscous gel.
Further research is required to understand the new polysaccharide's potential uses. Existing polysaccharides have a wide range of uses. They improve the quality of dietary fibre in porridge and are also used extensively in biomedical and cosmetic applications.
"The properties of the new polysaccharide could be manipulated to suit the desired function, increasing the range of potential uses," says Dr Little. "The genes involved in the biosynthesis of the new polysaccharide were also discovered as part of this work. The same genes can be found in all major cereal crops – not just barley. We can now use this knowledge to find ways of increasing these polysaccharides in crops, providing the possibility of generating plant material with a range of potentially different physical properties for industrial applications."
A Novel (1,4)-β-Linked Glucoxylan Is Synthesized by Members of the Cellulose Synthase-Like F Gene Family in Land Plants (open, DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.8b00568) (DX)
Amazon-owned smart doorbell maker Ring is facing claims that might give some smart home enthusiasts pause. Recent reports from The Intercept and The Information have accused the company of mishandling videos collected by its line of smart home devices, failing to inform users that their videos would be reviewed by humans and failing to protect the sensitive video footage itself with encryption.
In 2016, Ring moved some of its R&D operations to Ukraine as a cost-saving move. According to The Intercept's sources, that team had "unfettered access to a folder on Amazon's S3 cloud storage service that contained every video created by every Ring camera around the world." That group was also privy to a database that would allow anyone with access the ability to conduct a simple search to find videos linked to any Ring owner. At this time, the video files were unencrypted due to the "sense that encryption would make the company less valuable" expressed by leadership at the company.
At the same time the Ukraine team was allowed this access, Ring "executives and engineers" in the U.S. were allowed "unfiltered, round-the-clock live feeds from some customer cameras" even if that access was completely unnecessary for their work.
Also at The Mercury News.
According to the CDC a suberbug acquired during bariatric surgery in Tijuana just got worse.
The superbug that infected nearly a dozen Americans who recently underwent weight-loss surgery at a Tijuana hospital had a particularly nasty genetic mutation that set off alarm bells after patients began showing up in hospitals and doctors officers[sic] with painful wounds.
Pseudomonas is a common bacteria found normally in the environment the world over and generally poses little threat unless you have a weakened immune system or are sick.
Dr. David “Cal” Ham, a CDC medical officer, said Friday that the particular strain of pseudomonus bacteria involved in 11 confirmed cases had metallo-beta lactamase genes. Often called “VIM” by the epidemiological community, Ham explained that these genes cause the microbes that carry them to excrete enzymes that destroy carbapenems, a workhorse class of antibiotics with some of the broadest efficacy in medicine.
One patient has died, some have recovered, and others
are still in hospitals suffering as doctors work down a dwindling list of available options.
Dr. Ham added
“Several of the isolates involved are susceptible only to a couple of, I would say, less-than-optimal antibiotics that have significant side effect profiles.”
The pseudomonus strains in question were already drug resistant, adding the ability to ward off carbapenems makes the already serious threat even more deadly.
The inexorable decline of antibiotics continues.
SpaceX, citing a need to get "leaner," said Friday it will lay off more than 10% of its roughly 6,000 employees.
[...] "To continue delivering for our customers and to succeed in developing interplanetary spacecraft and a global space-based internet, SpaceX must become a leaner company," the Hawthorne-based company said in a statement. "Either of these developments, even when attempted separately, have bankrupted other organizations. This means we must part ways with some talented and hardworking members of our team."
[...] SpaceX makes most of its money from commercial and national security satellite launches, as well as two NASA contracts, one a multibillion-dollar deal to deliver cargo to the International Space Station and the other up to $2.6 billion to develop a capsule that will deliver astronauts to the space station. The first launch of that capsule, without a crew, is planned for February.
The Elon Musk-led company has even more ambitious — and expensive — plans. Musk has said SpaceX will conduct a "hopper test" of its Mars spaceship prototype as early as next month. The production version of that spaceship and its rocket system is expected to cost billions.
Earlier this month, privately held SpaceX said it raised about $273 million in equity and other securities in an offering that sought to raise about $500 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company is worth $31 billion, according to Equidate, which tracks private-company valuations.
There's an old adage about making something: "Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick two." Is SpaceX trying to pick all three?
A panorama from the dark side of the moon is now available from China's Chang'e 4 Lander.
The image is available in hi-res here.
The mission consists of two robots: the Chang'e 4 lander and the Yutu 2 rover. Since their arrival on Jan. 2, both have been exploring the lunar surface inside Von Kármán Crater, a 115-mile-wide (186 kilometers) feature
Putting this into units Soylentils are comfortable with, this is approximately 1049 Ice Hockey rinks across.
The Yutu 2 rover is visible not far away in the panorama, but is currently not active as it hibernates through the long Lunar day, during which temperatures can reach an electronics damaging 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius).
High temperature electronics can be done, but presumably making them also function at low temperatures (-173 degrees Celsius at night) presents challenges that were not worth overcoming and the decision was made to survive one extreme and operate in the other.
[The Raspberry Pi] Foundation has announced that it is joining the RISC-V Foundation, suggesting that a shift away from Arm could be on the cards. "We're excited to have joined the RISC-V Foundation as a silver member," the Raspberry Pi Foundation posted to its Twitter account. "[We're] hoping to contribute to maturing the Linux kernel and Debian port for the world's leading free and open instruction set architecture."
A shift from the proprietary Arm architecture to RISC-V would fit in nicely with the Foundation's goal of low-cost, highly-accessible computing for education and industry – but would put paid to its tradition of keeping backwards compatibility where possible, something it has already suggested might be the case when it moves away from the Broadcom BCM283x platform for the Raspberry Pi 4. Foundation co-founder Eben Upton, though, is clear: the Foundation is currently focusing on supporting the ISA in software, and not with a development board launch.
I'm curious how many Soylentils have a Raspberry Pi (or more than one) and which model(s). How has your experience been? What are the positives and shortcomings you've encountered? Do you think it would be a good move for them to move to RISC-V?
More background on RISC-V is available at Wikipedia.
Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984
Aviation experts and zoologists have provided new insights into how gulls configure their wing shape -- known as wing morphing -- to stabilize their flight. The findings could be used to design more efficient flying vehicles, including soaring drones for farming or environmental monitoring.
[...] Although a gliding bird's ability to stabilize its flight path is as critical as its ability to produce lift, relatively few quantitative studies on avian flight stability have been completed. This is what brought UBC researchers Christina Harvey, Vikram Baliga and Professor Doug Altshuler to Lavoie's wind tunnel lab at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS).
The researchers measured the lift and drag on 12 different wing shapes, all with slightly different elbow and shoulder angles. They determined that with a simple adjustment of a gull's elbow joints -- either to expand its wings outwards or inwards -- gulls are able to transition across a broad range of wing shapes to stabilize glide. When soaring, the wings are fully extended and have a more rounded shape, which increases their stability. When taking off or landing they are tucked in more and have a flatter shape.
"If you can change the shape of the wings, you can create more stable configurations with lower drag when you want more endurance," says Lavoie. "Gulls can use updrafts to increase altitude so they don't have to flap their wings as much to conserve energy. But if they need to make quick maneuvers, like diving to catch fish, they can change the shape of the wing for that particular purpose."
C. Harvey, V. B. Baliga, P. Lavoie, D. L. Altshuler. Wing morphing allows gulls to modulate static pitch stability during gliding. Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 2019; 16 (150): 20180641 DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2018.0641
Software developer Bryan Cantrill has a second, more detailed, blog post on EULA plus Copyright frankenlicenses. The combination of the two appears to bring in a lot of baggage from both proprietary licensing and EULAs while being dressed up as FOSS. He writes a blog post in response to a longer discussion on HN and blog post from the CEO of Confluent. He discusses the situation, raises quite a few questions (three are quoted below), and concludes with an assessment on the seriousness of the problem and a call to action.
This prompts the following questions, which I also asked Jay via Twitter:
1. If I git clone software covered under the Confluent Community License, who owns that copy of the software?
2. Do you consider the Confluent Community License to be a contract?
3. Do you consider the Confluent Community License to be a EULA?
[...] To foundations concerned with software liberties, including the Apache Foundation, the Linux Foundation, the Free Software Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Open Source Initiative, and the Software Freedom Conservancy: the open source community needs your legal review on this! I don’t think I’m being too alarmist when I say that this is potentially a dangerous new precedent being set; it would be very helpful to have your lawyers offer their perspectives on this, even if they disagree with one another. We seem to be in some terrible new era of frankenlicenses, where the worst of proprietary licenses are bolted on to the goodwill created by open source licenses; we need your legal voices before these creatures destroy the village!