2020-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2020-02-19 10:38:24 UTC
2020-02-19 17:38:36 UTC
We always have a place for talented people, visit the Get Involved section on the wiki to see how you can make SoylentNews better.
Submitted via IRC for Anonymous_Coward
After decades of miniaturization, the electronic components we've relied on for computers and modern technologies are now starting to reach fundamental limits. Faced with this challenge, engineers and scientists around the world are turning toward a radically new paradigm: quantum information technologies.
Quantum technology, which harnesses the strange rules that govern particles at the atomic level, is normally thought of as much too delicate to coexist with the electronics we use every day in phones, laptops and cars. However, scientists with the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering announced a significant breakthrough: Quantum states can be integrated and controlled in commonly used electronic devices made from silicon carbide.
"The ability to create and control high-performance quantum bits in commercial electronics was a surprise," said lead investigator David Awschalom, the Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering at UChicago and a pioneer in quantum technology. "These discoveries have changed the way we think about developing quantum technologies—perhaps we can find a way to use today's electronics to build quantum devices."
In two papers published in Science and Science Advances, Awschalom's group demonstrated they could electrically control quantum states embedded in silicon carbide. The breakthrough could offer a means to more easily design and build quantum electronics—in contrast to using exotic materials scientists usually need to use for quantum experiments, such as superconducting metals, levitated atoms or diamonds.
These quantum states in silicon carbide have the added benefit of emitting single particles of light with a wavelength near the telecommunications band. "This makes them well suited to long-distance transmission through the same fiber-optic network that already transports 90 percent of all international data worldwide," said Awschalom, senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory and director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange.
Moreover, these light particles can gain exciting new properties when combined with existing electronics. For example, in the Science Advances paper, the team was able to create what Awschalom called a "quantum FM radio;" in the same way music is transmitted to your car radio, quantum information can be sent over extremely long distances.
"All the theory suggests that in order to achieve good quantum control in a material, it should be pure and free of fluctuating fields," said graduate student Kevin Miao, first author on the paper. "Our results suggest that with proper design, a device can not only mitigate those impurities, but also create additional forms of control that previously were not possible."
Electrical and optical control of single spins integrated in scalable semiconductor devices [$], Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.aax9406)
Electrically driven optical interferometry with spins in silicon carbide [open], Science Advances (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay0527)
Verizon this week is laying off another 150 staffers from the Verizon Media division that includes the Yahoo and AOL subsidiaries, according to a CNN report.
[...]The latest layoffs are less extensive than a major round of job cuts in January 2019.
[...]Verizon purchased Yahoo for $4.48 billion in June 2017 and AOL for $4.4 billion in June 2015.
[...]In December 2018, Verizon said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it had "experienced increased competitive and market pressures throughout 2018 that have resulted in lower-than-expected revenues and earnings," and that "[t]hese pressures are expected to continue." Verizon at the time recorded a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of about $4.6 billion, wiping out nearly all of the Yahoo/AOL division's goodwill value.
In Q3 2019, the most recent quarter, Verizon reported media-division revenue of $1.8 billion, down two percent year over year.
Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan said last month that the company is focused on growing the division's advertising, subscriptions, and e-commerce businesses, according to the CNN report.
Submitted via IRC for RandomFactor
Researchers have developed a new hybrid device -- pairing silicon with organic, carbon-based molecules -- that can convert blue photons into red photons, paving the way for more efficient solar energy conversion.
Silicon's electronic properties make it a popular choice for a variety of technologies. The material, one of Earth's most abundant, is used to make everything from semiconductors to solar cells. But silicon isn't great at turning light into electricity.
While silicon can convert red photons into electricity just fine, its attempts to convert blue photons, which carry twice as much energy as red photons, yields mostly wasted thermal energy.
For the new device, engineers paired silicon with a carbon-based material called anthracene that converts blue photons into red photons, which the silicon can more easily convert into electricity.
Achieving spin-triplet exciton transfer between silicon and molecular acceptors for photon upconversion$, Nature Chemistry (DOI: doi:10.1038/s41557-019-0385-8)
Submitted via IRC for chromas
Using the System Usability Scale (SUS) in a major study published this week, Mayo researchers found modern Electronic Health Records (EHR) to be less user-friendly than Microsoft Excel. EHR got an SUS score of 45, which also ranks below GPS (maps), Amazon, and ATMs. At the top of the scale – Google search.
[...] The study showed that “SUS scores were associated with emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and overall burnout; as SUS scores increased, emotional exhaustion and depersonalization scores decreased, as did the overall prevalence of burnout.”
It’s important to note that some specialties at higher risk for burnout rated their EHRs more favorably than those at lower risk for burnout. “This finding suggests that the relationship between EHR usability and burnout may not be due to more burned out physicians rating their EHR less favorably.”
In short, modern physician-perceived electronic health record (EHR) usability is lacking. There’s a lot of room for improvement in the way the United States electronic health records system handles data and allows data to be accessed and utilized.
Changes in Burnout and Satisfaction With Work-Life Integration in Physicians and the General US Working Population Between 2011 and 2017, Mayo Clinic Proceedings (DOI: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2018.10.023)
It seems to come around quicker every year – the failure of so-called smart toys to meet the most basic of security requirements. Which? has discovered a bunch of sack fillers that dirtbags can use to chat to your kids this Christmas.
Back in 2017, the consumer group found toys with security problems relating to network connections, apps or other interactive features. The results of its latest round of testing show manufacturers are struggling to improve standards.
Working with security researchers NCC Group, Which? found a karaoke machine that could transmit audio from anyone passing within Bluetooth range because of its unsecured connection. It found walkie-talkies from VTech which anyone with their own set of similar equipment could connect to over a 200-metre range. It also found a Mattel-backed games portal which appeared to be unmoderated, allowing users to upload their own games with content inappropriate for children.
Ken Munro, security researcher with consultancy Pen Test Partners, said that although there was no evidence the vulnerabilities revealed by Which? had not been used by nefarious characters to contact children, parents should still beware of toys that do not meet minimum standards.
"The reason we don't hear of these attacks is they are local: it would be one parent at a time. Is it still worrying? Yes, I don't like the idea of this thing being unsecured," he said.
Tech Review reports on some Danish experiments on beer foaming, https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614907/does-tapping-the-bottom-of-a-beer-can-really-stop-it-fizzing-over/ (likely also available on archive.is if you don't subscribe).
Among the great questions in science, one stands sadly neglected: Is it possible to stop a shaken beer can from foaming by tapping it before opening?
There are good theoretical reasons to think this should work. The tapping should release any bubbles that are stuck to the inside walls of the can. These should then float to the surface and dissipate, making the beer less likely to foam when it is opened. But is this true?
Today, we get an answer thanks to the selfless work of Elizaveta Sopina at the University of Southern Denmark and a few colleagues. This group has tested the theory for the first time using randomized controlled trials involving 1,000 cans of lager. And luckily for the research team, the result raises at least as many questions as it answers, ensuring a strong future for beer-related research.
[...] The cans were then shaken using a "Unimax 2010 shaker" for two minutes at 440 rpm. "Pilot testing revealed that this shaking method successfully mimicked carrying beer on a bicycle for 10 minutes—a common way of transporting beer in Denmark," says Sopina and co. Unwanted foaming must be at epidemic levels there.
The researchers then weighed each can, tapped it by flicking it three times on its side with a finger, and then opened it. Finally, they weighed the can again to determine the amount of beer that had been lost.
The results are palate tickling. Sopina and co compared the amount of beer lost for tapped and untapped cans that had been shaken and found no statistical difference—both lost about 3.5 grams of liquid to foaming.
They also found no meaningful difference between the cans that had not been shaken—when opened, they lost about 0.5 grams on average.
Personally, I don't have a dog in this fight, always drink bottled (or tap) beer. But for you can users I suggest that looking inside the can might be a more direct way to see what is going on with the bubbles--seal up a can with camera & light source inside, or make some cans with a small viewing window. But that might generate an answer, where the goal of this research seems to be to consume more beer...For Science!
The Guardian is reporting;
The world's first fully electric commercial aircraft has taken its inaugural test flight, taking off from the Canadian city of Vancouver and flying for 15 minutes.
"This proves that commercial aviation in all-electric form can work," said Roei Ganzarski, chief executive of Australian engineering firm magniX.
The company designed the plane's motor and worked in partnership with Harbour Air, which ferries half a million passengers a year between Vancouver, Whistler ski resort and nearby islands and coastal communities.
The recycled 62-year-old de Havilland Beaver seaplane is designed for short hops of 160 km or less, which represents the majority of Harbour Air flights. They're looking to save millions on costly maintenance and downtime. Harbour Air hopes to convert most of their airplanes after certification.
Macronix will begin shipping 3D NAND in 2020, with Nintendo as the first customer:
Macronix, a Taiwan-based manufacturer for special-purpose memory solutions, will start volume shipments of its own 3D NAND memory in the second half of next year. The company will become the first flash manufacturer in Taiwan to produce in-house designed 3D NAND.
Macronix will manufacture 48-layer 3D NAND memory in the second half of 2020, said Miin Wu, the chairman of the company, during a press conference dedicated to Macronix's 30th anniversary. The company then plans to start shipments of 96-layer 3D NAND in 2021 and 192-layer 3D NAND in 2022. At present, the most advanced technology used by the firm to make NAND is its planar 19 nm technology that has been in use since February, 2019.
Macronix did not disclose the organization of its 3D NAND, but since the company typically produces memory for specialized devices such as defibrillators, drones, video game cartridges, and watches, they are likely aiming for longevity and reliability here. Which these days is a rather unique offering, since most commodity flash memory is focused first and foremost on density.
One likely product will be 64 GB game cards for the Nintendo Switch.
It doesn't pay to be an early adopter. Smart glasses maker North, which developed a pair of glasses called Focals earlier this year, has just announced an updated version for 2020. That means the first Focals, which displayed notifications via a retinal-projection technology that looked like a tiny pop-up window in one eye, are being discontinued, the company says.
The improved glasses promise to be 40% lighter and have 10 times the display resolution of the first version. "We spent the last year in the market learning how to build, sell and support smart glasses with our first-gen product, that we now will combine with over five years of research working on the technology upgrades in Focals 2.0," Steven Lake, North CEO, said in a press release.
Meanwhile, Magic Leap has struggled to move its Magic Leap One Creator Edition headsets despite over $2.6 billion in funding:
The Information today published an in-depth report about Magic Leap's state of affairs. Most notable is how it apparently only sold 6,000 Magic Leap One Creator Edition headsets in the first six months.
Priced at $2,295, buyers get a "Lightwear" headset that connects to a puck-shaped "Lightpack" computer worn around their waist. CEO Rony Abovitz reportedly had an initial goal of 1 million devices in the first year before settling with 100,000.
Instead of producing a new version in the near term, Magic Leap will try to sell the same headsets to businesses:
Magic Leap is pitching its headset to businesses with a new name. The Magic Leap One Creator Edition, which shipped last August, is being replaced with the Magic Leap 1, which sells for the same price of $2,295.
The Magic Leap 1 will replace the original Creator Edition, and Magic Leap's chief product officer Omar Khan says it has "some minor updates." But it appears visually indistinguishable from the old device, and there's apparently no significant change in the industrial design or the optics, including the field of view and overall visual quality. Magic Leap also takes pains to avoid calling it a "next-generation" headset or even a major update — the company said today that it's planning to release a Magic Leap 2 in 2021. This update seems to be mostly symbolic, indicating that the Magic Leap headset is no longer an experiment.
Previously: Magic Leap Finally Announces a Product, But is It Still Vaporware?
Magic Leap Opens Up Orders for $2,295 "Creator Edition" Augmented Reality Headset
"North Focals" $1000 Smartglasses Reviewed
Magic Leap Accuses Chinese Company of Copying Trade Secrets
Another High-Flying, Heavily Funded AR Headset Startup is Shutting Down
As of this morning, Linux network stack maintainer David Miller has committed the WireGuard VPN project into the Linux "net-next" source tree. Miller maintains both net and net-next—the source trees governing the current implementation of the Linux kernel networking stack and the implementation of the next Linux kernel's networking stack, respectively.
This is a major step forward for the WireGuard VPN project. Net-next gets pulled into the new Linux kernel during its two-week merge window, where it becomes net. With WireGuard already a part of net-next, this means that—barring unexpected issues—there should be a Linux kernel 5.6 release candidate with built-in WireGuard in early 2020. Mainline kernel inclusion of WireGuard should lead to significantly higher uptake in projects and organizations requiring virtual private network capability.
WireGuard is a free and open-source software application and communication protocol that implements virtual private network (VPN) techniques to create secure point-to-point connections in routed or bridged configurations. It is run as a module inside the Linux kernel and aims for better performance than the IPsec and OpenVPN tunneling protocols. It was written by Jason A. Donenfeld and is published under the second version of the GNU General Public License (GPL).
Saturn's tiny, frozen moon Enceladus is a strange place. Just 300 miles across, the moon is thought to have an outer shell of ice covering a global ocean 20 miles deep, encasing a rocky core. Slashed across Enceladus' south pole are four straight, parallel fissures or "tiger stripes" from which water erupts. These fissures aren't quite like anything else in the solar system.
"We want to know why the eruptions are located at the south pole as opposed to some other place on Enceladus, how these eruptions can be sustained over long periods of time and finally why these eruptions are emanating from regularly spaced cracks," said Max Rudolph, assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Davis.
[...] Enceladus' surface temperature is about negative 200 degrees Celsius, so if a crack formed in the ice, you would expect it to freeze shut pretty quickly. Yet the south polar fissures remain open, and in fact reach all the way to the liquid ocean below. That's because liquid water within the fissure is sloshed around by tidal forces produced by Saturn's gravity, releasing energy as heat, Rudolph said. That stops the crack from freezing shut.
The release of pressure from the fissures stops new cracks from forming elsewhere on the moon, such as at the north pole. But at the same time, water vented from the crack falls back as ice, building up the edges of the fissure and weighing it down a bit. That causes the ice sheet to flex, the researchers calculate, just enough to set off a parallel crack about 20 miles away. "Our model explains the regular spacing of the cracks," Rudolph said.
Also at Carnegie Science.
Researchers discovered a new Snatch ransomware strain that will reboot computers it infects into Safe Mode to disable any resident security solutions and immediately starts encrypting files once the system loads.
Encrypting the victim's files is possible because most security tools are automatically disabled when Windows devices boot in Safe Mode as the Sophos Managed Threat Response (MTR) team and SophosLabs researchers found.
"Snatch can run on most common versions of Windows, from 7 through 10, in 32- and 64-bit versions," they add. "The samples we've seen are also packed with the open-source packer UPX to obfuscate their contents."
Snatch ransomware came out towards the end of 2018 and it became noticeably active during April 2019 as shown by a spike in ransom notes and encrypted file samples submitted to Michael Gillespie's ID Ransomware platform.
[...] To take advantage of anti-malware solutions not loading in Safe Mode, the Snatch ransomware component installs itself as a Windows service dubbed SuperBackupMan capable of running in Safe Mode that can't be stopped or paused, and then force restarts the compromised machine.
After the device enters Windows Safe Mode, Snatch ransomware will delete "all the Volume Shadow Copies on the system" as the researchers discovered, preventing "forensic recovery of the files encrypted by the ransomware."
In the next stage, the malware will start encrypting its victims' files, with the attackers now being sure that recovery without payment is impossible.
The city of Pensacola is struggling to recover from a cyber attack that hit its computer network over the weekend. Some services are still affected but no critical ones. Few details are available but the attack prompted the city to disconnect much of its network until a solution for the problem was found.
The incident became known around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday and city employees in the IT department have been working to restore the network.
It is unclear what type of cyber incident is causing the issues or how many computers it affected but the online payment systems at Pensacola Energy and for city sanitation are among them.
Due to the nature of the information available on these systems, investigators are now trying to determine if data was exposed.
Computer-based communication, including email, is also down but 911 and other emergency services (police and fire departments) remained unaffected and online permitting is available. Some phones have been impacted; the 311 customer service is able to receive calls but responding to requests may not be immediately possible, reads a statement from the City of Pensacola.
"We severed things immediately as soon as we found out we were having this problem," said Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson in a press conference today, reports the Pensacola News Journal.
Most of the systems currently offline are so because the IT department took the decision as a preventive measure, said Pensacola spokeswoman Kaycee Lagarde.
Also at Ars Technica.
Investigative media outlet MBKh Media found that access to [the citywide CCTV camera system] and the live streams is being sold on underground forums and chat rooms.
Andrey Kaganskikh, the journalist that did the investigation says that the sellers are law enforcement individuals as well as government bureaucrats that can log into the Integrated Center for Data Processing and Storage (YTKD), the very system that keeps the data from cameras in Moscow.
Whoever wants to check the live stream from a camera receives a unique link to the City CCTV System that connects to all public cameras in Moscow. The URL works for five days, Kaganskikh says.
This is the same period mentioned on the city's CCTV section for storing footage from crowded places, shops, and courtyards. Data from educational organizations is saved for 30 days.
Furthermore, government officials or police officers sell their login credentials to the system to provide unlimited access to all cameras. The price of admission is 30,000 rubles ($470), according to Kaganskikh.
Apparently "restricted access" means restricted to those who can pay for it.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) charged Russian citizens Maksim V. Yakubets and Igor Turashev for deploying the Dridex malware (aka Bugat and Cridex), and for their involvement in international bank fraud and computer hacking schemes.
The two were charged with conspiracy, computer hacking, wire fraud, and bank fraud in a 10-count indictment unsealed today, concerning the distribution of the malware they used to automate the theft of sensitive financial and personal information like banking credentials, as well as for infecting their victims with ransomware in more recent attacks.
"The State Department, in partnership with the FBI, announced today a reward of up to $5 million under the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Yakubets," the DoJ says.
[...] Yakubets was the leader of Evil Corp since at least 2017, a Russia-based cybercriminal group of hackers that developed and disseminated the Dridex malware via large scale phishing email campaigns.
[...] "This is a landmark for the NCA, FBI and U.S. authorities and a day of reckoning for those who commit cybercrime," NCA Director Jones added.
"Following years of online pursuit, I am pleased to see the real-world identity of Yakubets and his associate Turashev revealed. Yakubets and his associates have allegedly been responsible for losses and attempted losses totaling hundreds of millions of dollars."