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What should be the Book Club picks for April+?

  • Oryx and Crake - Book #1 of the MaddAddam trilogy - Margaret Atwood
  • Beggars in Spain - Book #1 of the Sleepless trilogy - Nancy Kress
  • Too Far - Rich Shapiro
  • Revolt in 2100 - (short stories collection) - Robert A. Heinlein
  • Morlock the Maker Short Stories - (pre-Blood of Ambrose?) - James Enge
  • Downbelow Station - C. J. Cherryh
  • Hammerfall - C. J. Cherryh
  • Sundiver - David Brin

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:17 | Votes:55

posted by chromas on Monday April 22, @11:50PM   Printer-friendly
from the puns-about-square-meals-and-stuff dept.

Here's Soylent's New Product. It's Food.

Mr. [Rob] Rhinehart first pitched Soylent to the world with a post titled "How I Stopped Eating Food." Now his successor Mr. [Bryan] Crowley says that Soylent's customers — and everyone else — should definitely keep eating food.

Asked if new customers should consider living solely off Soylent, Mr. Crowley said, "We don't recommend it, no. Absolutely. 100 percent. We don't recommend, not because we don't think it's healthy or we don't think it's there. It's a very difficult thing to do and our research tells us that it happens for a very limited amount of time." (Mr. Rhinehart himself moved the company toward gentler "meal replacement" messaging before stepping down in December 2017, when he announced Mr. Crowley as his own replacement.)

Now Soylent has edged closer to something its customers might recognize as food.

There are other reasons to tell a less provocative story. In 2017, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency informed Soylent that its product didn't meet agency requirements for "meal replacement," which halted the company's expansion in that country. In 2016, the first attempt at solid Soylent — the Food Bar — was quickly pulled from circulation after customers reported vomiting and diarrhea.

The company is working hard to ensure its products are not merely safe to eat, but also tasty and enjoyable. "That's the big word that we talked a lot about," Mr. Crowley said. "Before it was all about function. Original Soylent was function, function, function. Now you hear words like enjoyment in our mission."

Stargate SG-1 s04e01.

Previously: Soylent Halts Sale of Bars; Investigation into Illnesses Continues
Soylent Meal Replacement Sales Blocked in Canada

Related: The Other Soylent Finally Ships
Ambronite: Organic Soylent Alternative
In Busy Silicon Valley, Protein Powder Is in Demand
Soylent 2.0 is Coming: Food Replacement Premixed in Bottles
Spore Scare Stops Shipments of Soylent Superfood
Soylent Stops Selling Powder While it Investigates Customer Sickness Complaints
Soylent Has Arrived At Walmart

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Monday April 22, @09:23PM   Printer-friendly

The Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) has found that NASA is unlikely to send humans on a mission near Mars (not including a landing on the surface of Mars) any sooner than 2037:

An independent report concluded that NASA has no chance of sending humans to Mars by 2033, with the earliest such a mission could be flown being the late 2030s.

[...] STPI, at NASA's direction, used the strategy the agency had laid out in its "Exploration Campaign" report, which projects the continued use of the Space Launch System and Orion and development of the lunar Gateway in the 2020s. That would be followed by the Deep Space Transport (DST), a crewed spacecraft that would travel from cislunar space to Mars and back. NASA would also develop lunar landers are related system to support crewed missions to the lunar surface, while also working on systems for later missions to the surface of Mars.

That work, the STPI report concluded, will take too long to complete in time to support a 2033 mission. "We find that even without budget constraints, a Mars 2033 orbital mission cannot be realistically scheduled under NASA's current and notional plans," the report states. "Our analysis suggests that a Mars orbital mission could be carried out no earlier than the 2037 orbital window without accepting large technology development, schedule delay, cost overrun, and budget shortfall risks."

That schedule is driven by the technology risks associated in particular with the Deep Space Transport, including life support systems and propulsion, that require long lead times. A mission to Mars launching in 2033, the report concluded, would need to have critical technologies tested by 2022, which is unlikely. Moving ahead without completing those technologies first, the report stated, will "dramatically increase technology and schedule risks for the DST and could force the DST design to be revised if any one of these technology testing programs reveals problems."

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Monday April 22, @07:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the business-prescription dept.

Submitted via IRC for ErkleLives

Charter Communications won't be kicked out of New York after all.

Nine months after a New York government agency ordered Charter to leave the state over its alleged failure to comply with merger conditions, state officials have announced a settlement that will let Charter stay in New York in exchange for further broadband expansions. The settlement will enforce a new version of the original merger conditions and require a $12 million payment, about half of which could help other ISPs deploy broadband.


Previously: Charter (Time Warner Cable) Sued by State of New York for Slow Internet
New York State Threatens To Revoke Charter's Cable Franchise For Bullshitting

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday April 22, @04:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the I-want-my-free-ice-machine dept.

According to the researchers, the new version of Maxwell's demon [1] could have consequences in self-organization and selection processes that occur during biological evolution. For instance, this device could be relevant in the regulation of biological networks in generation, transmission and transduction of signals through cell membranes.

The experimental testing has been conducted in a system of optical tweezers, which enables the manipulation of a molecule each time, in this case a DNA molecule. With the right force on this structure, it is possible to unfold it, but if the force is small enough, the unfolded state becomes rare, so it finds the precise moment it was looking for. When the molecule is in a rare state, it has more energy and it is possible to use it. "The rarer the episode, the harder for us to find it, but the more energy we can get from it," notes Ribezzi.

Meanwhile, the University of Zurich is playing with Peltier devices in kitchen scale to claim free cooling that you can measure without expensive equipment:

The researchers have now shown for the first time that this kind of thermal oscillating circuit can also be operated "passively", i.e. with no external power supply. Thermal oscillations still occurred and, after a while, heat flowed directly from the colder copper to a warmer heat bath with a temperature of 22°C, without being temporarily transformed into another form of energy. Despite this, the authors were also able to show that the process does not actually contradict any laws of physics. To prove it, they considered the change in entropy of the whole system and showed that it increased with time—fully in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics.


[1] [Editor's Comment] Maxwell's demon is a machine proposed by James Clerk Maxwell in 1867. The hypothetical machine would use thermal fluctuations to obtain energy, apparently violating the second principle of thermodynamics.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Monday April 22, @03:00PM   Printer-friendly
from the all-the-days-of-Methuselah-were-nine-hundred-sixty-nine-years dept.

In a new paper published in the journal Cell, Scientists identify a protein that improves DNA repair functions and show that variations resulting in improved repair capability in longer lived species is associated with their increased longevity.

The gene sirtuin 6 (SIRT6) organizes proteins and enzymes that repair broken DNA. Mice without the gene age prematurely while mice with extra copies live longer. Researchers hypothesized that SIRT6 activity co-evolved and was more efficient in longer lived species. To confirm this

using a panel of 18 rodent species with diverse lifespans, we show that more robust DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair, but not nucleotide excision repair (NER), coevolves with longevity.

Additionally, introducing stronger variants of the gene protein (from longer lived animals) into shorter lived organisms (such as fruit flies) reduced stress-induced DNA damage and increased lifespans.

Humans are already a long lived species with optimized SIRT6, however according to the researchers

"we have other species that are even longer lived than humans," [Andrei Seluanov, professor of biology at the University of Rochester] says. Next steps in the research involve analyzing whether species that have longer lifespans than humans—like the bowhead whale, which can live more than 200 years—have evolved even more robust SIRT6 genes.

The ultimate goal is to develop interventions that delay cancer and other degenerative diseases.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday April 22, @01:23PM   Printer-friendly
from the Happiness-is-mandatory.-The-social-credit-system-is-your-friend dept.

China's courts have now added 13.5 million individuals to the social-credit punishment list.

People deemed untrustworthy in China have been blocked from the purchase of more than 25 million plane and train tickets, as the country works to build the massive social-credit system designed to monitor and shape the conduct of its citizens

The system covers "19 key areas of dishonesty" such as failing to make court-ordered payments (China has no personal bankruptcy statutes), spending habits, turnstile violations, and filial piety, as well as

spreading online rumours and false information, committing financial fraud, delivering unlicensed medical treatment, evading taxes, cheating on tests and fixing sports matches.

Chinese officials are careful to point out that this is only the beginning of the process of implementing a social-credit system. There are also multiple blacklists involved, not one big blacklist like the United State's 'No-Fly' list.

In total, the number of blacklists in China now likely numbers in the hundreds, said Dai Xin, a professor at Ocean University of China School of Law. But it remains experimental, he said, like many initiatives in China, where "governments just go ahead with some vague assumptions of what may happen if a measure is adopted."

Critics call the system the beginning of a "digital panopticon", while other Chinese scholars and officials defend the system as one that will ease life for those who display good conduct and integrity even as it deprives the untrustworthy of access to services.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday April 22, @11:50AM   Printer-friendly
from the ankle-bone-connected-to-the-shin-bone,-shin-bone-connected-to-the...well,-it-depends dept.

There are 206 bones in the human body, but for 39% of the population, that is not enough. According to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of Anatomy, a small bone in the back of the human knee (image) called the 'fabella' is 3.5x as frequent in humans as it was 150 years ago. The fabella was lost as our ancestors evolved.

"In old world monkeys, it appears to play a role in knee muscle mechanics" however in humans it's purpose, if it even has one, is unknown.

It might help “reduce friction within tendons, redirecting muscle forces, or, as in the case of the kneecap, increasing the mechanical force of that muscle,” [Michael Berthaume of Imperial College London] says in the release. “Or it could be doing nothing at all. . . .

The researchers did speculate on some of the factors involved

“The average human, today, is better nourished, meaning we are taller and heavier,” Berthaume says in a press release. “This came with longer shinbones and larger calf muscles—changes which both put the knee under increasing pressure. This could explain why fabellae are more common now than they once were.” The researchers suggest that genetics may influence whether people have the ability to develop fabellae, but if they do, environmental factors such as the mechanical forces that the knee experiences likely drive the bones’ formation.

While one's first inclination might be that having an extra bone is a good thing, this apparent 'appendix' of the skeletal system may be more trouble than it is worth.

Regardless of whether it provides a functional advantage, the bone has been linked to various ailments. Its presence can cause knee pain, for example, and people who suffer from osteoarthritis in their knees, for example, are about twice as likely to have it than those without osteoarthritis. The fabella can also create additional challenges for knee replacement surgery.

There can even be two (fabella bipartita) or three (fabella tripartita) of these bones, although this is rare.

Be honest - are you feeling the back of your knee to see if there's something there?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday April 22, @10:12AM   Printer-friendly
from the Just-kidding? dept.

Ukraine election: Comedian Zelensky wins presidency by landslide

Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky has won a landslide victory in the country's presidential election, exit polls suggest.

The polls give the political newcomer, who dominated the first round of voting three weeks ago, more than 70% support.

Mr Zelensky, 41, challenged incumbent president Petro Poroshenko who has admitted defeat. The apparent result is being seen as a huge blow to Mr Poroshenko and a rejection of Ukraine's establishment.

"I will never let you down," Mr Zelensky told celebrating supporters on Sunday. "I'm not yet officially the president," he added. "But as a citizen of Ukraine I can say to all countries in the post-Soviet Union: Look at us. Anything is possible!"

See also: Ukrainian Presidential Debate Sparks Envy Among Russians And Belarusians – OpEd

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday April 22, @08:36AM   Printer-friendly
from the free-is-always-in-demand dept.

A decade ago this week, Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm, and Carl Lundström were all found guilty of 'assisting in making copyright content available' via their site, The Pirate Bay. Each was sentenced to a year in jail and their fines totaled over $3 million. Now ten years on, the site has a life of its own without those four. It has been the target of a many takedown notices and has even been blocked multiple times.

Ten years ago this week, four men were found guilty and sentenced to prison for running The Pirate Bay. At the time, Peter Sunde said that the site would continue, no matter what. A decade on he has been proven absolutely right and that in itself is utterly remarkable.

Earlier on SN:
The Pirate Bay Turns 15 Years Old (2018)
How The Pirate Bay Helped Spotify Become a Success (2018)
The Man from Earth Sequel "Pirated" on The Pirate Bay - By Its Creators (2018)
How The US Pushed Sweden to Take Down The Pirate Bay (2017)
What's a Digital Copy Worth? Not Much, Says Peter Sunde's New Machine (2015)

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday April 22, @06:59AM   Printer-friendly
from the yes-please dept.

ICANN Urges Adopting DNSSEC Now:

Continuing attacks on directory name services have prompted ICANN to prompt enterprise DNS uses to push their suppliers for DNSSEC services to block some of these attacks that can compromise corporate data.

Powerful malicious actors continue to be a substantial risk to key parts of the Internet and its Domain Name System security infrastructure, so much so that The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers is calling for an intensified community effort to install stronger DNS security technology.

Specifically ICANN is calling for full deployment of the Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) across all unsecured domain names. DNS, often called the internet’s phonebook, is part of the global internet infrastructure that translates between common language domain names and IP addresses that computers need to access websites or send emails. DNSSEC adds a layer of security on top of DNS.

[...]Full deployment of DNSSEC ensures end users are connecting to the actual web site or other service corresponding to a particular domain name, ICANN says “Although this will not solve all the security problems of the Internet, it does protect a critical piece of it – the directory lookup – complementing other technologies such as SSL (https:) that protect the "conversation", and provide a platform for yet-to-be-developed security improvements,” ICANN says.

In a release calling for the increased use of DNSSEC technologies, ICANN noted that recent public reports show a pattern of multifaceted attacks utilizing different methodologies.

“Some of the attacks target the DNS, in which unauthorized changes to the delegation structure of domain names are made, replacing the addresses of intended servers with addresses of machines controlled by the attackers. This particular type of attack, which targets the DNS, only works when DNSSEC is not in use,” ICANN stated.

[...]ICANN offered a checklist of recommended security precautions that members of the domain-name industry, registries, registrars, resellers and related others shoudl[sic] take to protect their systems, their customers’ systems and information reachable via the DNS.

Make sure you know where you are going.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Monday April 22, @05:22AM   Printer-friendly
from the I-see^W-hear-what-you-did-there dept.

The Profoundly Deaf Girl Who Found Her Voice after Brain Surgery:

Seven-year-old Leia Armitage lived in total silence for the first two years of her life, but thanks to pioneering brain surgery and years of therapy she has found her voice and can finally tell her parents she loves them.

"We were told you could put a bomb behind her and she wouldn't hear it at all if it went off," said Leia's father, Bob, as he recalled finding out their baby daughter had a rare form of profound deafness.

Leia, from Dagenham in east London, had no inner ear or hearing nerve, meaning that even standard hearing aids or cochlear implants wouldn't help her.

As a result, she was never expected to speak - but despite the risks, her parents fought for her to be one of the first children in the UK to be given an auditory brainstem implant, requiring complex brain surgery when she was two years old.

[...] He and his wife Alison hoped that after the surgery at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust she would be able to hear things like cars beeping their horns as she crossed the road - to make her safer in the world.

However, in the five years since the surgery, her progress has been much greater than they ever expected.

[...] Now, after lots of regular speech and language therapy, she can put full sentences together, attempt to sing along to music and hear voices on the phone.

[...] The cutting-edge surgery involves inserting a device directly into the brain to stimulate the hearing pathways in children born with no cochlea or auditory nerves.

A microphone and sound processor unit worn on the side of the head then transmits sound to the implant.

This electrical stimulation can provide auditory sensations, but it cannot promise to restore normal hearing.

[...] "The outcomes are variable. Some will do better than others," he said.

"They have to adapt to it and younger children do better so we like to insert the implant early if possible."

I had heard of reports doing something similar for completely blind people with brain implants and a custom (low-resolution) video cam. It only makes sense that the technology would be extended to another one of the five senses. Still, I find it amazing what technology can accomplish. Go science!

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday April 22, @03:45AM   Printer-friendly
from the it-was-obstructing-my-view-of-Venus dept.

Intelsat 29e (IS29e) has failed irrecoverably and is now drifting out of control in Geosynchronous orbit.

The satellite experienced damage on April 7th which caused a propellant leak. This resulted in disruption of service for "maritime, aeronautical and wireless operator customers in the Latin America, Caribbean and North Atlantic regions." While they worked to recover the satellite, a second anomoly occurred, at which point all further efforts to recover the satellite failed.

Luxembourg-based Intelsat has declared its IS-29E a total loss, [this] “means it will continue to drift uncontrolled along its current orbit in GEO,” explains T.S. Kelso, the operator of CelesTrak, a leading source for orbital element sets and related software to keep an eye on satellites and orbital debris.

[...] [T.S.]Kelso tweeted back on April 16th that the current situation with IS-29E “continues to be quite troubling,” with the troubled satellite spiraling around IS-11 & IS-32E. Additionally there are reports of 13 pieces of associated debris, he reported.

IS29e is now drifting around geosynchronous orbit at about 1.2 degrees of longitude per day. This means that it will make a complete circuit of the globe in about 10 months. The other 500 functioning satellites in Geosynchronous orbit will need to keep watch on yet another object and steer clear of it.

An earlier tweet on April 11th by Kelso sheds light on the second anomaly:

Kelso said: “Watched nervously” this morning as IS-29E and NASA’s Tracking Data Relay Satellite 3 “had what we consider a ‘nightmare scenario’ in GEO — a high-speed encounter — (~1 km/s). Let’s wish Intelsat luck on getting IS-29E back under control.”

TDRS 3 was retired in December 2011 and no longer used, it was placed in 'storage' in its current orbit. Presumably lacking sufficient propellant to boost to a graveyard orbit, or with an eye towards making use of it in the future.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Monday April 22, @02:06AM   Printer-friendly
from the ok-alexa-sing-it! dept.

Submitted via IRC for ErkleLives

Amazon today announced the launch of a free, ad-supported music service in the U.S. that will be available to anyone who wants to play free music on their Echo speaker.

Until today, Echo owners who wanted to stream music from Amazon could either pay for an annual Prime membership for access to Prime Music or they could pay $3.99 per month to stream from Amazon Music Unlimited (or $9.99/month to stream on non-Echo devices, as well.)

The new service has the same catalog as Prime Music, which today has just over two million songs. Amazon Music Unlimited, meanwhile, has 50 million songs.


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Monday April 22, @12:29AM   Printer-friendly
from the profit-first dept.

Claims of Shoddy Production Draw Scrutiny to a Second Boeing Jet

When Boeing broke ground on its new factory near Charleston in 2009, the plant was trumpeted as a state-of-the-art manufacturing hub, building one of the most advanced aircraft in the world. But in the decade since, the factory, which makes the 787 Dreamliner, has been plagued by shoddy production and weak oversight that have threatened to compromise safety.

A New York Times review of hundreds of pages of internal emails, corporate documents and federal records, as well as interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees, reveals a culture that often valued production speed over quality. Facing long manufacturing delays, Boeing pushed its work force to quickly turn out Dreamliners, at times ignoring issues raised by employees.

Complaints about the frenzied pace echo broader concerns about the company in the wake of two deadly crashes involving another jet, the 737 Max. Boeing is now facing questions about whether the race to get the Max done, and catch up to its rival Airbus, led it to miss safety risks in the design, like an anti-stall system that played a role in both crashes.

Safety lapses at the North Charleston plant have drawn the scrutiny of airlines and regulators. Qatar Airways stopped accepting planes from the factory after manufacturing mishaps damaged jets and delayed deliveries. Workers have filed nearly a dozen whistle-blower claims and safety complaints with federal regulators, describing issues like defective manufacturing, debris left on planes and pressure to not report violations. Others have sued Boeing, saying they were retaliated against for flagging manufacturing mistakes.

Joseph Clayton, a technician at the North Charleston plant, one of two facilities where the Dreamliner is built, said he routinely found debris dangerously close to wiring beneath cockpits. "I've told my wife that I never plan to fly on it," he said. "It's just a safety issue."

Also at CNN and CNBC.

Related: Boeing 737 Max Aircraft Grounded in the U.S. and Dozens of Other Countries
Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan's Ties to Boeing Under Investigation
Initial Findings Put Boeing's Software at Center of Ethiopian 737 Crash

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Sunday April 21, @10:06PM   Printer-friendly
from the snoopy dept.

A real world safety-study of peanut oral immunotherapy (P-OIT) for peanut allergies in preschoolers resulted in ~90% of study participants safely reaching the maintenance stage of the treatment.

We are the first group to describe preschool P-OIT in a real-world multicenter setting. The treatment appears to be safe for the vast majority of patients because symptoms were generally mild and very few reactions received epinephrine; however, life-threatening reactions in a minority of patients (0.4%) can still occur.

Oral Immunotherapy consists of a lengthy process

Oral immunotherapy starts off by giving a patient a small amount of the food [they are] allergic to -- in this case, peanuts -- and then steadily increasing the amount of that food until they reach maximum dosage. This works to desensitize the person to the food to the point that it doesn't cause a dangerous, allergic reaction.

The research was done at multiple clinics across Canada on children between 9 months and five years of age.

OIT is not a cure and requires ongoing maintenance to maintain desensitization to the allergen. If the maintenance dosage is stopped resensitization may occur.

Original Submission