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posted by martyb on Wednesday April 17 2019, @10:36PM   Printer-friendly
from the let-me-think-about-it-a-bit dept.

Fake news has already fanned the flames of distrust towards media, politics and established institutions around the world. And while new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) might make things even worse, it can also be used to combat misinformation.

A fake story might, for example, make the claim that a very high percentage of crimes in a European country are committed by foreign immigrants. In theory that might be an easy claim to disprove because of large troves of available open data, yet journalists waste valuable time in finding that data. So Fandango’s tool links all kinds of European open data sources together, and bundles and visualises it. Journalists can use, for example, pooled together national data to address claims about crimes or apply data from the European Copernicus satellites to climate change debates.

Essentially, previous studies show that fake news stories are shared online in different ways from real news stories, says Prof. Bronstein. Fake news might have far more shares than likes on Facebook, while regular posts tend to have more likes than they have shares. By spotting patterns like these, GoodNews attaches a credibility score to a news item.

The GoodNews team hopes to monetise this service through a start-up called Fabula AI, based in London. While they hope to roll out the product at the end of the year, they envisage having customers such as large media companies like Facebook and Twitter, but also individual users.

Can artificial intelligence help end fake news?

[More Info]:
Fandango
GoodNews

Do you think that AI is a solution to the fake news problem ??


Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday April 17 2019, @08:56PM   Printer-friendly
from the Miracle-Max-the-Wizard dept.

Scientists Restore Some Functions in a Pig's Brain Hours after Death:

Circulation and cellular activity were restored in a pig's brain four hours after its death, a finding that challenges long-held assumptions about the timing and irreversible nature of the cessation of some brain functions after death, Yale scientists report April 17 in the journal Nature.

The brain of a postmortem pig obtained from a meatpacking plant was isolated and circulated with a specially designed chemical solution. Many basic cellular functions, once thought to cease seconds or minutes after oxygen and blood flow cease, were observed, the scientists report.

"The intact brain of a large mammal retains a previously underappreciated capacity for restoration of circulation and certain molecular and cellular activities multiple hours after circulatory arrest," said senior author Nenad Sestan, professor of neuroscience, comparative medicine, genetics, and psychiatry.

However, researchers also stressed that the treated brain lacked any recognizable global electrical signals associated with normal brain function.

"At no point did we observe the kind of organized electrical activity associated with perception, awareness, or consciousness," said co-first author Zvonimir Vrselja, associate research scientist in neuroscience. "Clinically defined, this is not a living brain, but it is a cellularly active brain."

[...] researchers in Sestan's lab, whose research focuses on brain development and evolution, observed that the small tissue samples they worked with routinely showed signs of cellular viability, even when the tissue was harvested multiple hours postmortem. Intrigued, they obtained the brains of pigs processed for food production to study how widespread this postmortem viability might be in the intact brain. Four hours after the pig's death, they connected the vasculature of the brain to circulate a uniquely formulated solution they developed to preserve brain tissue, utilizing a system they call BrainEx. They found neural cell integrity was preserved, and certain neuronal, glial, and vascular cell functionality was restored.

Journal Reference:
Vrselja, Z. et al. Restoration of brain circulation and cellular functions hours post-mortem. Nature, 2019 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1099-1

Also at The New York Times, National Geographic, and NPR.

The article in The New York Times explores some of the medical ethics of this experimentation and what it may hold down the line. Consider, for example, current policies and practices concerning organ donations from "dead" people.

Previously: Researchers are Keeping Pig Brains Alive Outside the Body


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Wednesday April 17 2019, @07:07PM   Printer-friendly

Breaking Bad: Japan Prof 'Made Students Produce Ecstasy':

A Japanese university professor could face up to 10 years in jail after allegedly getting his students to produce ecstasy, officials said Wednesday, in an echo of TV hit series "Breaking Bad".

Authorities suspect the 61-year-old pharmacology professor from Matsuyama University in western Japan got his pupils to make MDMA—commonly known as ecstasy—in 2013 and another so-called "designer drug" 5F-QUPIC last year.

The professor told investigators he was aiming to further the "education" of his pharmaceutical sciences students, an official from the local health ministry told AFP.

The ecstasy allegedly produced has not been found and has "probably been discarded," added this official, who asked to remain anonymous.

[...] Japanese law states that a researcher needs a licence issued by regional authorities to manufacture narcotics for academic purposes.

Next on the syllabus was how to start, organize, and operate a fast-growing business?


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Wednesday April 17 2019, @04:40PM   Printer-friendly
from the striking-development? dept.

Possible Evidence of an Extrasolar Object Striking the Earth in 2014:

A pair of researchers has found possible evidence of an extrasolar object striking the Earth back in 2014. In their paper uploaded to the arXiv preprint server, Amir Siraj and Abraham Loeb describe their study of data in the Center for Near-Earth Object studies database and what they found.

[...]Loeb and Siraj had reasoned that space objects traveling faster than normal might be evidence enough of an extrasolar visitor. That led to them to perform searches in the Center for Near-Earth Object studies database for objects that traveled faster than normal. They report that they found three hits, two of which they dismissed because of incomplete data. The third described a meteor that was believed to be slightly less than a meter wide that had been observed disintegrating in the atmosphere on January 8th, 2014, at a height of 18.7 kilometers near Papua New Guinea. Its speed had been measured by a government sensor at 216,000 km/h. By looking at its trajectory and tracing backward, the researchers report that it likely came from somewhere outside of our solar system. If the evidence pans out, the sighting would be the first known instance of an extrasolar object striking the Earth.

The researchers suggest that the object's high speed indicates that it was likely flung out of another star system. And if that were the case, it would have been reasonably close to its star at some point, deep in the interior of a planetary system—perhaps in its "Goldilocks zone," which means there was some chance it carried life. The researchers have written a paper describing their findings, which they have submitted to The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

For various definitions of 'striking' and 'Earth'.


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Wednesday April 17 2019, @03:06PM   Printer-friendly
from the an-internet-vs-The-Internet dept.

The Russian parliament has approved a law creating a separate, domestic network, separate from the Internet. This Russian network of networks will be fully isolatable and will mean that the country's communications will become autonomous and able to continue functioning even when the plug is pulled on Russia's connections to the Internet at large. Concerns increase that this move will be used more for control of content and even just plain censorship, and make any attempts at circumventing restrictions much more difficult. The law is expected to take effect November 1st. Russia has already banned certain programs, such as Telegram.

One of the law's goals is to keep as much of the data exchanged between Russian internet users within the country's borders as possible. This aim may sound like a move to protect Russian users from external threats, but rights groups have warned that the new measures could ultimately be directed at Kremlin critics rather than international adversaries.

The idea of increasing the government's control over the internet is part of a more long-term national policy trend. In 2017, officials said they wanted 95% of internet traffic to be routed locally by 2020. Since 2016, a law has required social networks to store data about Russian users on servers within the country. The law was officially presented as an anti-terrorism measure — but many criticized it as an attempt to control online platforms that can be used to organize anti-government demonstrations.

Also at Silicon: Russian Parliament Passes Bill To Isolate Internet.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday April 17 2019, @01:46PM   Printer-friendly
from the and-he-shall-rain-down-fire-and-brimstone dept.

Ars Technica is running an article about a "Self-proclaimed security provider" who has released exploits for three separate Zero day vulnerabilities within plugins used in the WordPress (an open-source content management system) software ecosystem.

According to the Ars Technica article:

Over the past three weeks, a trio of critical zeroday vulnerabilities in WordPress plugins has exposed 160,000 websites to attacks that allow criminal hackers to redirect unwitting visitors to malicious destinations. A self-proclaimed security provider who publicly disclosed the flaws before patches were available played a key role in the debacle, although delays by plugin developers and site administrators in publishing and installing patches have also contributed.

Over the past week, zeroday vulnerabilities in both the Yuzo Related Posts and Yellow Pencil Visual Theme Customizer WordPress plugins—used by 60,000 and 30,000 websites respectively—have come under attack. Both plugins were removed from the WordPress plugin repository around the time the zeroday posts were published, leaving websites little choice than to remove the plugins. On Friday (three days after the vulnerability was disclosed), Yellow Pencil issued a patch. At the time this post was being reported, Yuzo Related Posts remained closed with no patch available.

In-the-wild exploits against Social Warfare, a plugin used by 70,000 sites, started three weeks ago. Developers for that plugin quickly patched the flaw but not before sites that used it were hacked.

All three waves of exploits caused sites that used the vulnerable plugins to surreptitiously redirect visitors to sites pushing tech-support scams and other forms of online graft. In all three cases, the exploits came after a site called Plugin Vulnerabilities published detailed disclosures on the underlying vulnerabilities. The posts included enough proof-of-concept exploit code and other technical details to make it trivial to hack vulnerable sites. Indeed, some of the code used in the attacks appeared to have been copied and pasted from the Plugin Vulnerabilities posts.

The author also pointed out that 11 days passed between the disclosure of the Yuzo Related Posts zeroday and the first known reports it was being exploited. Those exploits wouldn't have been possible had the developer patched the vulnerability during that interval, the author said.

Asked if there was any remorse for the innocent end users and website owners who were harmed by the exploits, the author said: "We have no direct knowledge of what any hackers are doing, but it seems likely that our disclosures could have led to exploitation attempts. These full disclosures would have long ago stopped if the moderation of the Support Forum was simply cleaned up, so any damage caused by these could have been avoided, if they would have simply agreed to clean that up."

[...] The crux of the author's beef with WordPress support-forum moderators, according to threads such as this one, is that they remove his posts and delete his accounts when he discloses unfixed vulnerabilities in public forums. A recent post on Medium said he was "banned for life" but had vowed to continue the practice indefinitely using made-up accounts. Posts such as this one show Plugin Vulnerabilities' public outrage over WordPress support forums has been brewing since at least 2016.

Ars Technica goes on to editorialize:

To be sure, there's plenty of blame to spread around recent exploits. Volunteer-submitted WordPress plugins have long represented the biggest security risk for sites running WordPress, and so far, developers of the open source CMS haven't figured out a way to sufficiently improve the quality. What's more, it often takes far too long for plugin developers to fix critical vulnerabilities and for site administrators to install them. Warfare Plugins' blog post offers one of the best apologies ever for its role in not discovering the critical flaw before it was exploited.

But the bulk of the blame by far goes to a self-described security provider who readily admits to dropping zerodays as a form of protest or, alternatively, as a way to keep customers safe (as if exploit code was necessary to do that). With no apologies and no remorse from the discloser—not to mention a dizzying number of buggy, poorly-audited plugins in the WordPress repository—it wouldn't be surprising to see more zeroday disclosures in the coming days.

A weakness of community developed software, which is also its biggest strength, is that profit is not the motive. As such, developers may or may not be responsive to reports of security vulnerabilities.

So where do Soylentils fall on this? Is the guy who disclosed the vulnerabilities without reporting them to the developers first most at fault for site compromises, or are the plugin developers who failed to patch their code in a timely fashion the real villains?


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday April 17 2019, @12:17PM   Printer-friendly
from the even-SN-is-vulnerable dept.

From the insides of Business Insider

As a huge fire took hold of Paris' Notre-Dame Cathedral on Monday evening, alt-right figures were in no time spreading rumours and disinformation on social media linking the blaze to Muslims and hinting at a sinister cover up.

French officials on Monday night were quick to say that arson was unlikely to be the cause of the blaze as it engulfed the roof of the 12th century cathedral, but far-right activists and propagandists were already all over social media channels pushing conspiracies.

Conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec compared the blaze to 9/11, despite no link having made to terrorism by French officials, while alt-right activist Faith Goldy falsely claimed that three days previously "a Muslim jihadis [sic] in Paris was arrested for planning a terrorist attack at Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Funny, there was this little AC scurrying about here on SN yesterday, saying things like this.

...but well countered here, also by an AC:

See Also:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/16/notre-dame-fire-investigators-seek-cause-of-cathedral-blaze-paris

Police have begun questioning workers who were carrying out renovations at the cathedral. The Paris prosecutor's office has opened an inquiry into "involuntary destruction by fire", indicating they believe the cause of the blaze was accidental rather than criminal.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/notre-dame-fire-cause-everything-know-cathedral-paris/

The Paris prosecutor's office said it was treating the fire as an accident, ruling out arson and possible terror-related motives, at least for now.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday April 17 2019, @10:43AM   Printer-friendly
from the that-could-have-been-me dept.

Velonews reports that former champion cyclist Twigg got a CS degree but wasn't too successful in that career, and is now homeless in Seattle, https://www.velonews.com/2019/04/news/now-homeless-twigg-opens-up-in-article-with-seattle-times_492734 A longer version of the story/interview appears in the Seattle Times, https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/homeless/olympic-medal-winning-cyclist-rebecca-twigg-is-homeless-in-seattle/

Rebecca Twigg has now been without a home for almost five years in Seattle, living first with friends and family, then in her car, then in homeless shelters and then, for a night, under garbage bags on the street downtown. She hasn't had a bike for years, and no one recognizes her anymore, she says.

Twigg, 56, agreed to share her story to convince the public that not all homeless people are addicted to drugs or alcohol; that there are many like her, who have struggled with employment and are "confused," as she said she is, about what to do next with their lives. She did not want to discuss mental health but feels it should be treated more seriously in Washington.

"Some of the hard days are really painful when you're training for racing," Twigg said, "but being homeless, when you have little hope or knowledge of where the finish line is going to be, is just as hard."

[...] She was spotted at 17 by famous cycling coach Eddie Borysewicz. After she won the world championship, he invited her to live in the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and train for the 1984 Olympic Games, where for the first time, women would be competing on bicycles.

Americans dominated the Olympics that year. Twigg won a silver medal, missing gold by a few inches to famous racer Connie Carpenter. She continued on her way up over the next several years, setting world records, winning world titles, and racing more than 60 times a year. She became known for her competition in individual pursuit, where two cyclists start at the same time on opposite sides of the track and each tries to catch the other. She's still among the most-decorated athletes in pursuit.

But the breakneck pace couldn't continue forever. She was married and soon after divorced. She crashed in Texas, broke her thumb and got 13 stitches in her head. The following year she felt burned out. She took a break at age 26, and that year she grew an entire inch, possibly because her body no longer had to expend so much energy training.

Twigg got an associate degree in computer science and became a programmer for a seaweed-products company in San Diego.

Twigg says the career wasn't a perfect fit. She quit and started training for the 1992 Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal in the 3,000-meter pursuit after only nine months of training. As she entered her 30s, she became regarded as the best American female cyclist.

The article has more details, she tried other IT jobs, but (not surprisingly to me) it sounds like her heart wasn't really in it.

If you were in her spot, what would you do for a second act, after such stunning early success in international sports? Some former athletes become motivational speakers or coaches, but she may not be the "self promoter" type, relying on her skill/strength for her success instead of team politics.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday April 17 2019, @09:07AM   Printer-friendly
from the you-may-qualify-for-a-FREE-jail-cell dept.

In what will likely be quite welcome news to irritated consumers, authorities in the United States have broken up a $1.2 billion Medicare fraud ring that has been relentlessly pounding consumer phones since at least mid-2018.

The operation consisted of

doctors, telemarketers and owners of medical equipment companies [who] peddled medically unnecessary orthotic braces to hundreds of thousands of elderly and disabled patients.

The basic approach of the scam was to get a beneficiary to provide (or just verify) personal or Medicare information. Then whether requested or not, needed or not, they were sent medical brace after medical brace and Medicare charged for it all using the beneficiary's information. (Detailed graphic of the scam here)

Prosecutors accused so-called durable medical equipment (DME) companies of paying kickbacks and bribes in exchange for referrals by doctors working with fraudulent telemedicine companies for back, knee, shoulder and wrist braces that patients did not need.

The scheme allegedly involved the use of call centers in the Philippines and throughout Latin America, with proceeds laundered through offshore shell companies and used to buy exotic cars, yachts and luxury real estate.

Charges were brought against 130 medical equipment companies that submitted over $1.7 Billion in claims of which more than $900 million had been paid.

Authorities identified the largest alleged individual scheme as a US$454 million fraud run by Florida residents Creaghan Harry, Lester Stockett and Elliot Loewenstern, respectively the owner, chief executive and marketing vice president of call centers and telemedicine companies.

[...] [U.S. Attorney Craig] Carpenito also announced charges against New Jersey residents Neal Williamsky and Nadia Levit, who own approximately 25 DME companies, over their alleged roles in a separate US$150 million scheme.

Lawyers for Williamsky and Levit lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lawyers for Harry, Loewenstern and Stockett could not immediately be located, and attempts to reach those defendants by phone were unsuccessful.

No doubt they quit taking calls from those not in their contacts list due to spam calls.

The HHS also issued an alert warning people of the scam.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday April 17 2019, @07:27AM   Printer-friendly
from the no-need-to-spread-the-word-but-okay-to-let-the-disease-spread? dept.

Submitted via IRC for AzumaHazuki

Deadly germs, Lost cures: A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy [Editor's Comment: Link has disappeared.]

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/06/health/drug-resistant-candida-auris.html [Alternative Link]

Last May, an elderly man was admitted to the Brooklyn branch of Mount Sinai Hospital for abdominal surgery. A blood test revealed that he was infected with a newly discovered germ as deadly as it was mysterious.

Doctors swiftly isolated him in the intensive care unit. The germ, a fungus called Candida auris, preys on people with weakened immune systems, and it is quietly spreading across the globe.

Over the last five years, it has hit a neonatal unit in Venezuela, swept through a hospital in Spain, forced a prestigious British medical center to shut down its intensive care unit, and taken root in India, Pakistan and South Africa .

Recently C. auris reached New York, New Jersey and Illinois, leading the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to add it to a list of germs deemed "urgent threats."

The man at Mount Sinai died after 90 days in the hospital, but C. auris did not. Tests showed it was everywhere in his room, so invasive that the hospital needed special cleaning equipment and had to rip out some of the ceiling and floor tiles to eradicate it.

"Everything was positive — the walls, the bed, the doors, the curtains, the phones, the sink, the whiteboard, the poles, the pump," said Dr. Scott Lorin, the hospital's president. "The mattress, the bed rails, the canister holes, the window shades, the ceiling, everything in the room was positive."

[...] In the United States, two million people contract resistant infections annually, and 23,000 die from them, according to the official C.D.C. estimate. That number was based on 2010 figures; more recent estimates from researchers at Washington University School of Medicine put the death toll at 162,000. Worldwide fatalities from resistant infections are estimated at 700,000.

[...] With bacteria and fungi alike, hospitals and local governments are reluctant to disclose outbreaks for fear of being seen as infection hubs. Even the C.D.C., under its agreement with states, is not allowed to make public the location or name of hospitals involved in outbreaks. State governments have in many cases declined to publicly share information beyond acknowledging that they have had cases.

All the while, the germs are easily spread — carried on hands and equipment inside hospitals; ferried on meat and manure-fertilized vegetables from farms; transported across borders by travelers and on exports and imports; and transferred by patients from nursing home to hospital and back.

C. auris, which infected the man at Mount Sinai, is one of dozens of dangerous bacteria and fungi that have developed resistance. Yet, like most of them, it is a threat that is virtually unknown to the public.

[...] Dr. Lynn Sosa, Connecticut's deputy state epidemiologist, said she now saw C. auris as "the top" threat among resistant infections. "It's pretty much unbeatable and difficult to identity," she said.

Nearly half of patients who contract C. auris die within 90 days, according to the C.D.C. Yet the world's experts have not nailed down where it came from in the first place.

'No need' to tell the public

Under her [Dr. Johanna Rhodes, an infectious disease expert at Imperial College London] direction, hospital workers used a special device to spray aerosolized hydrogen peroxide around a room used for a patient with C. auris, the theory being that the vapor would scour each nook and cranny. They left the device going for a week. Then they put a "settle plate" in the middle of the room with a gel at the bottom that would serve as a place for any surviving microbes to grow, Dr. Rhodes said.

Only one organism grew back. C. auris.

It was spreading, but word of it was not. The hospital, a specialty lung and heart center that draws wealthy patients from the Middle East and around Europe, alerted the British government and told infected patients, but made no public announcement.

"There was no need to put out a news release during the outbreak," said Oliver Wilkinson, a spokesman for the hospital.

This hushed panic is playing out in hospitals around the world. Individual institutions and national, state and local governments have been reluctant to publicize outbreaks of resistant infections, arguing there is no point in scaring patients — or prospective ones.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday April 17 2019, @05:49AM   Printer-friendly
from the waiting-until-they-try-to-legislate-"abhorent"-text dept.

Australia has rammed through another law requiring “abhorrent” video, audio or still images to be removed within an hour. This will apply to content providers both in and out of Australia as long as the content is available to Australians. Individuals and companies face jail time and/or huge fines if the content is not removed "within a reasonable time". If the content is found to be hosted in Australia then the Australian government must be alerted. This is yet another knee jerk reaction to the NZ shootings which were streamed live online.

Who is paying for someone to be awake at 3am to curate and remove this stuff?


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday April 17 2019, @04:13AM   Printer-friendly
from the how-fast-are-they-clocked? dept.

Sony's PlayStation system architect Mark Cerny has confirmed hardware details about Sony's upcoming PlayStation console, including the use of an 8-core "7nm" Zen 2 CPU from AMD, and an AMD "7nm" Navi GPU of unspecified size/performance. The version of Navi in the console will also support real-time ray tracing:

The big news here of course is that Cerny is confirming that Sony is tapping AMD's latest CPU and GPU architectures for the next-generation PlayStation's chip. On the CPU side we're looking at 8 CPU cores based on AMD's Zen 2 microarchitecture. This is the same CPU microarchitecture that AMD is expecting to launch in PCs mid-year, with products such as their Ryzen "Matisse" CPU and second-generation EPYC "Rome" processors. While we're still waiting to see just how well the Zen 2 architecture performs in the real world, it's succeeding the already very powerful Zen (1) architecture, so everyone has high expectations here and AMD seems eager to deliver on them.

Meanwhile on the GPU side, AMD will be tapping their forthcoming Navi GPU architecture for the chip. Unlike the CPU side, Son[sic] and Cerny aren't saying anything here about the GPU configuration, so there's little to be said about performance; all of that will come down to how big of a Navi GPU block Sony has asked for. Navi itself is a codename we've seen on AMD's GPU roadmaps since 2016, however we still know relatively little about the architecture beyond the fact that in 2016 at least, AMD was intending to focus on scalability and support for next-generation memory (which at this point we'd take to mean GDDR6). Like the Zen 2 CPU architecture, we're expecting Navi-powered GPUs to start shipping this year for PCs, so we should have a better idea soon of all of what Navi will entail.

However in the meantime, Cerny himself did open up a bit about Navi – or at least the version that will be going into Sony's chip. The next-generation PlayStation will support ray tracing, mirroring developments we've seen in the PC world in the last year with the introduction of DirectX Raytracing and hardware support in rival NVIDIA's GPUs. Over the last couple of years, ray tracing has increasingly been heralded as the next evolution in GPU rendering technologies, as it allows for more realistic rendering methods to be used, especially with regards to light. Ray tracing is expensive, but done right it can add to a game in ways that can't be done cheaply (if at all) with pure compute-shader based approaches.

A "custom unit for 3D audio" is also mentioned, and the console will use an SSD instead of an HDD. 8K resolution support will be included (at least for video output, if games don't run at that resolution).

The next-generation Xbox console is rumored to feature similar hardware (8-core Zen 2, 12 teraflops Navi, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD). There is also talk of a streaming-focused Xbox with cheaper hardware (8-core Zen 2, 4 teraflops Navi, 12 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD).

Also at Wccftech.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday April 17 2019, @02:36AM   Printer-friendly
from the or-they-are-being-eaten-by-a-grue dept.

At the April 13th and 14th meeting of the American Physical Society in Denver, Co. Physicists debated new ways to determine how long neutrons actually live. While neutrons are typically bound up with protons in the nucleus of atoms, and are perfectly stable there, they don't last long on their own.

Depending on the approach taken to measure it, the average lifetime of a neutron returns different values.

Using the bottle method (put a bunch of Neutrons in a 'bottle' and count how many are left after a period of time), the average lifetime is 14 minutes, 39 seconds.
Using the 'beam' method (count the protons given off in a detector as neutrons decay), the average lifetime is 14 minutes, 47 seconds.

These two methods are so precise that they do not overlap even taking the worst possible margins of error of both. It is a puzzler.

"The discrepancy has bedevilled researchers for nearly 15 years."

One possibility is that one of the two methods is doing something wrong. In that case, researchers might want to combine beam and bottle in a single device. At the meeting, physicist Zhaowen Tang of the Los Alamos lab described how researchers could put a particle detector inside a bottle neutron trap and count neutrons using both methods. His team has acquired funding to start building the device.

Another possibility is that the beam and bottle approaches have been measuring the neutron lifetime correctly, but that some unseen factor accounts for the discrepancy between the two. A leading idea is that neutrons might occasionally decay into not just protons but also dark matter, the mysterious unseen material that makes up much of the Universe's matter.

Interesting that plain old neutrons might be the key to opening the door on dark matter.

Pinpointing the lifetime of a neutron is important for understanding how much hydrogen, helium and other light elements formed in the first few minutes after the Universe was born in the Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago. Scientists also think they can hunt for new types of physics if they can better pin down the neutron's lifetime, because that would help to constrain measurements of other subatomic particles.

A few seconds goes a long way in physics.


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Wednesday April 17 2019, @12:57AM   Printer-friendly
from the No,-I'm-storing-up-potential-iPSCs dept.

According to an article in the journal Advanced Science, researchers at Tel Aviv University were able to create a small 3D-printed heart that included blood vessels out of human tissue.

Until now, researchers have only been able to print simple tissues lacking blood vessels, so a 3D, fully vascularized engineered heart is a step in the right direction.

The process consists of taking a sample of abdominal fat tissue, reprogramming the cells to become induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), differentiating these into cardiac muscle cells and blood vessel cells, and combining them with hydrogels to form structures for the cells to proliferate on.

Heart disease causes one in four deaths in the US (about 610,000 people a year), and there's a shortage of heart donors for transplants, so 3D-printed hearts could help solve a major issue

As a next step, the team plans to culture, print, and transplant similar hearts into animals. Significant challenges still remain, such as the efficient cultivation of the stem cells to gain the large quantity needed to engineer full-size organs and improvement of the blood vessel network demonstrated; the team indicates we are many, many years from from doing this for humans.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Tuesday April 16 2019, @11:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the Walks-like-a-duck^W-attack... dept.

Soon after a fire engulfed Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday, news outlets began streaming live broadcasts on YouTube. Below several of the clips was an odd box of text: A snippet from Encyclopedia Britannica about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

YouTube, a division of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, introduced this text box feature last year to combat the spread of conspiracy theories, including those that question the 9/11 attacks. On Monday, YouTube’s software mistakenly labeled the plumes of smoke in Paris as footage from 2001, triggering the panel below the video.

“We are deeply saddened by the ongoing fire at the Notre-Dame cathedral,” said a YouTube spokesman. “These panels are triggered algorithmically and our systems sometimes make the wrong call. We are disabling these panels for live streams related to the fire.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-15/youtube-flags-notre-dame-fire-as-9-11-conspiracy-in-wrong-call

Who are the humans to say the AI was wrong on this one? It found a correlation between the two topics and made its decision. The exact reasons for its decision are inscrutable to the humans, they are just contradicting the AI based on preconceived bias or because they don't like the resulting discussion.


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