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Jalopnik has a story about how the Norwegian capital, Oslo, recorded only one death on its roads in 2019.
Speed limit laws and reducing the very presence of cars in the city center and downtown areas have resulted in a very aggressive, downward trend of traffic-related fatalities in the Nordic country's capital city. There was only one traffic-related death in Oslo in all of 2019.
No children were killed in traffic in Norway last year, Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten reported.
There was only one road-related death of a pedestrian, cyclist or child in 2019 in Oslo. No children were killed in traffic in Norway last year, either.
Norway plans to reach "Vision Zero", and eliminate road-related deaths within four years and do more to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, serious injuries.
The only person who died last year, according to Aftenposten, was a man whose car crashed into a fence in June.
This sharp decline is due to the fact that Oslo heavily regulates places where people are allowed to drive and has set strict speed limits. The city is also very friendly towards cycling and walking.
Olso's road fatality rate for 2019 was 0.1 death per 100,000 people. American States vary between 12 and 26 per 100,000 people
The heat in the world's oceans reached a new record level in 2019, showing "irrefutable and accelerating" heating of the planet.
The world's oceans are the clearest measure of the climate emergency because they absorb more than 90% of the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases emitted by fossil fuel burning, forest destruction and other human activities.
The new analysis shows the past five years are the top five warmest years recorded in the ocean and the past 10 years are also the top 10 years on record. The amount of heat being added to the oceans is equivalent to every person on the planet running 100 microwave ovens all day and all night.
[...]"We found that 2019 was not only the warmest year on record, it displayed the largest single-year increase of the entire decade, a sobering reminder that human-caused heating of our planet continues unabated," said Prof Michael Mann, at Penn State University, US, and another team member.
Cheng, L., Abraham, J., Zhu, J. et al. Ocean Temperatures Hit Record High as Rate of Heating Accelerates Adv. Atmos. Sci. (2020) 37: 137. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00376-020-9283-7
Now a team of scientists has repurposed living cells -- scraped from frog embryos -- and assembled them into entirely new life-forms. These millimeter-wide "xenobots" can move toward a target, perhaps pick up a payload (like a medicine that needs to be carried to a specific place inside a patient) -- and heal themselves after being cut.
"These are novel living machines," says Joshua Bongard, a computer scientist and robotics expert at the University of Vermont who co-led the new research. "They're neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It's a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism."
The new creatures were designed on a supercomputer at UVM -- and then assembled and tested by biologists at Tufts University. "We can imagine many useful applications of these living robots that other machines can't do," says co-leader Michael Levin who directs the Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology at Tufts, "like searching out nasty compounds or radioactive contamination, gathering microplastic in the oceans, traveling in arteries to scrape out plaque."
The results of the new research were published January 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
[...]"I think it's an absolute necessity for society going forward to get a better handle on systems where the outcome is very complex," Levin says. "A first step towards doing that is to explore: how do living systems decide what an overall behavior should be and how do we manipulate the pieces to get the behaviors we want?"
In other words, "this study is a direct contribution to getting a handle on what people are afraid of, which is unintended consequences," Levin says -- whether in the rapid arrival of self-driving cars, changing gene drives to wipe out whole lineages of viruses, or the many other complex and autonomous systems that will increasingly shape the human experience.
"There's all of this innate creativity in life," says UVM's Josh Bongard. "We want to understand that more deeply -- and how we can direct and push it toward new forms."
Also at CNET
Sam Kriegman, Douglas Blackiston, Michael Levin, and Josh Bongard. A scalable pipeline for designing reconfigurable organisms. PNAS, 2020 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1910837117
The case Google v. Oracle America, previously named Oracle America, Inc. v. Google, Inc., is being heard by the US Supreme Court. At the center of the case is whether programmers require permission to use an application programming interface (API). The outcome will determine the extent to which APIs can or should be copyrighted. If it turns out that copyright can be used to lock competitors out of using any given API, then there are severe repercussions for software development, as all programs these days rely heavily on pre-existing libararies which are then accessed via APIs.
Google: The case for open innovation:
The Court will review whether copyright should extend to nuts-and-bolts software interfaces, and if so, whether it can be fair to use those interfaces to create new technologies, as the jury in this case found. Software interfaces are the access points that allow computer programs to connect to each other, like plugs and sockets. Imagine a world in which every time you went to a different building, you needed a different plug to fit the proprietary socket, and no one was allowed to create adapters.
This case will make a difference for everyone who touches technology—from startups to major tech platforms, software developers to product manufacturers, businesses to consumers—and we're pleased that many leading representatives of those groups will be filing their own briefs to support our position.
At bottom in the case is the issue of whether copyright law bars the commonplace practice of software reimplementation, "[t]he process of writing new software to perform certain functions of a legacy product." (Google brief p.7) Here, Google had repurposed certain functional elements of Java SE (less that 0.5% of Java SE overall, according to Google's brief, p. 8) in its Android operating system for the sake of interoperability—enabling Java apps to work with Android and Android apps to work with Java, and enabling Java developers to build apps for both platforms without needing to learn the new conventions and structure of an entirely new platform.
The case – ten years in making – centres on Oracle's claims that its Java patents and copyrights were infringed by Google when the search giant created its Android mobile operating system. An initial ruling in Google's favour was overturned on appeal, and the case is finally due to land in the Supreme Court this year. Google filed its opening brief for the justices this week.
When was the last time, outside of school, when you yourself have written a program entirely from scratch and not used even a single set of application programming interfaces? Yeah. Thought so.
Anaxagoras, Asteria Morpheus and Marv are all in the running.
NASA is definitely keeping an open mind when it comes to naming its Mars 2020 rover. It may end up being as simple as "Wonder" or as unusual as "Propulsion Major Crater."
NASA announced on Monday the list of semifinalists for its rover-naming contest, which was open to US kids from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Volunteer judges narrowed down 28,000 essay submissions to 155 semifinalists. There are some repeats among the proposed names, with Tenacity, Determination, Ingenuity, Inspiration, Possibility, Perspective and Perseverance showing up more than once.
[...] You can browse the entries, read the essays and start rooting for your favorite.
[...] Judges will now whittle the semifinalists down to nine finalists. A public vote will help determine the rover's final name. NASA will announce the winner in March.
I think they should call it "Red Rover".
The Australian town of Murchison, Victoria, is home to fewer than 1,000 people but is one of the most important sites in the history of astronomy. In 1969, a huge meteorite fell to Earth, breaking up in the atmosphere and showering fragments of space rock south of the town. Decades later, researchers have discovered that locked inside those fragments were minuscule grains of stardust, the oldest material ever known to reach the planet.
Researchers have found grains that are likely 5 billion to 7 billion years old -- older than our solar system, which formed about 4.6 billion years ago.
[...] The paper, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, details how Heck and other colleagues examined 40 grains of stardust that were taken from the Murchison meteorite three decades ago. To determine the age of the grains, they studied isotopes of the element neon, which interact with cosmic rays in space. The exposure to cosmic rays, which are high-energy particles that zip across the universe, creates these isotopes of neon. Seeing their abundance helped reveal the stardust's age.
The grains of stardust were pulled into the Murchison meteorite as it journeyed through space on its eventual collision course with the Earth. The majority of the stardust grains studied formed before our sun's birth around 4.6 billion years ago, and several are even older than 5 billion years.
[...] "We have more young grains that we expected," said [geophysicist Philipp] Heck. "Our hypothesis is that the majority of those grains ... formed in an episode of enhanced star formation. There was a time before the start of the solar system when more stars formed than normal."
[...] The authors concede that their methodology -- using neon isotopes to age the grains -- does "suffer from relatively large uncertainties." But the research does provide more information on the formation and movement of interstellar dust and can also tell us more about star formation in the Milky Way.
Philipp R. Heck, Jennika Greer, Levke Kööp, Reto Trappitsch, Frank Gyngard, Henner Busemann, Colin Maden, Janaína N. Ávila, Andrew M. Davis, and Rainer Wieler. Lifetimes of interstellar dust from cosmic ray exposure ages of presolar silicon carbide. PNAS. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1904573117
A new theoretical framework is allowing neural networks to learn and recognize patterns on geometric surfaces.
Neural networks based on the visual cortex, called
"convolutional neural networks" (CNNs) have proved surprisingly adept at learning patterns in two-dimensional data—especially in computer vision tasks like recognizing handwritten words and objects in digital images.
CNNs however, are largely stuck in two dimensions.
Now, researchers have delivered, with a new theoretical framework for building neural networks that can learn patterns on any kind of geometric surface. These "gauge-equivariant convolutional neural networks," or gauge CNNs, developed at the University of Amsterdam and Qualcomm AI Research by Taco Cohen, Maurice Weiler, Berkay Kicanaoglu and Max Welling, can detect patterns not only in 2D arrays of pixels, but also on spheres and asymmetrically curved objects. "This framework is a fairly definitive answer to this problem of deep learning on curved surfaces," Welling said.
Applications envisioned include climate modeling, medical scan analysis, computer vision, particle interactions etc.
A gauge CNN would theoretically work on any curved surface of any dimensionality, but Cohen and his co-authors have tested it on global climate data, which necessarily has an underlying 3D spherical structure. They used their gauge-equivariant framework to construct a CNN trained to detect extreme weather patterns, such as tropical cyclones, from climate simulation data. In 2017, government and academic researchers used a standard convolutional network to detect cyclones in the data with 74% accuracy; last year, the gauge CNN detected the cyclones with 97.9% accuracy. (It also outperformed a less general geometric deep learning approach designed in 2018 specifically for spheres — that system was 94% accurate.)
Physicists such as Kyle Cranmer at New York University, are already planning to put Gauge CNNs to work in analyzing four dimensional data related to the forces at work within a proton "a perfect use case for neural networks that have this gauge equivariance."
"Clinical criteria for diagnosing disorders that affect behavior and language are still mainly based on studies of English speakers and Western cultures, which could lead to misdiagnosis if people who speak different languages or come from another cultural background express symptoms differently," said study senior author Maria Luisa Gorno-Tempini, MD, PhD, a professor of neurology and psychiatry and the Charles Schwab Distinguished Professor in Dyslexia and Neurodevelopment at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center. "It is critical going forward that studies take language and cultural differences into account when studying brain disorders that affect higher cognitive functions — which we know are greatly impacted by culture, environment, and experience."
The new study, published January 10, 2020 in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, focused on patients with primary progressive aphasia (PPA), a neurodegenerative disorder that affects language areas in the brain, a condition often associated with Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and other dementia disorders.
The researchers recruited 20 English-speaking PPA patients from the UCSF Memory and Aging Center and 18 Italian-speaking PPA patients from San Raffaele Hospital, all of whom shared a variant of PPA characterized by difficulty producing or pronouncing words — so-called non-fluent PPA.
"We wanted to study patients with PPA to understand whether people from different language backgrounds actually experienced the disease differently, and what that might mean for how we try to help patients remain resilient to the disease," said study lead author Elisa Canu, PhD, a neuropsychologist and researcher in the San Raffaele Scientific Institute's Neuroimaging Research Unit, which is led by co-author Massimo Filippi, MD, full professor of neurology at the affiliated Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, and director of the neurology and neurophysiology units at the San Raffaele Hospital.
Cognitive tests and MRI brain scans revealed similar cognitive function and comparable levels of brain degeneration in the two groups. But when the researchers compared their performance on a battery of linguistic tests, they observed a key difference.
English speakers had more trouble pronouncing words — the traditional hallmark of nonfluent PPA — and tended to speak less than usual. In contrast, Italian speakers with the same disorder had fewer pronunciation difficulties but tended to produce much shorter and grammatically simpler sentences. For example, when asked to describe a drawing of a family at a lake house picnicking and flying a kite, Italian speakers with non-fluent PPA might respond (in Italian): "The man and the woman and the dog"; "Boat in the water"; "Family have picnic"; "There is a kite".
"We think this is specifically because the consonant clusters that are so common in English pose a challenge for a degenerating speech-planning system," said Gorno-Tempini, who directs the language neurobiology laboratory at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, and is co-director of the UCSF Dyslexia Center and the recently launchedUCSF-UC Berkeley Schwab Dyslexia and Cognitive Diversity Center. "In contrast, Italian is easier to pronounce, but has much more complex grammar, and this is how Italian speakers with PPA tend to run into trouble."
[...] "This means that there are probably many people around the world — including non-native English speakers in the U.S. — who are not getting the right diagnosis because their symptoms don't match what is described in clinical manuals based on studies of native English speakers," said Gorno-Tempini.
Elisa Canu, Federica Agosta, Giovanni Battistella, Edoardo G. Spinelli, Jessica DeLeon, Ariane E. Welch, Maria Luisa Mandelli, H. Isabel Hubbard, Andrea Moro, Giuseppe Magnani, Stefano F. Cappa, Bruce L. Miller, Massimo Filippi, Maria Luisa Gorno-Tempini. Speech production differences in English and Italian speakers with nonfluent variant PPA [$], Neurology (DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000008879)
The observant reader will notice that we have reduced the number of stories we post on weekdays from about 15 stories per day to about 13 stories per day. We would certainly like to continue with the higher rate, but we have been struggling to do so with current staff.
We try to post enough stories each day so that there is "something for everyone". Ultimately this site is for the community. It is also by the community; it does not run all by itself.
We Need Your Help
People's lives change. They move, get married, have health issues, change jobs, etc. All of these place additional demands on their spare time. SoylentNews is not immune to this; in fact we have experienced all of these. With less free time available, more work falls upon the other staff members — whose lives are already quite full.
What would help?
Volunteer! Have you ever thought about being an editor at SoylentNews?
You'll get to learn a super-sekret handshake, the passcode to enter our volcano-lair, and the admiration of your fellow Soylentils!
Right from the start, let me point out that we — SoylentNews — aim to be impartial. If you have an agenda that you would like to push or advocate (or denigrate) then skip to the next story.
On the other hand, not a great deal of time is needed. Even if you have only an hour or two per week that you could contribute, that would be greatly appreciated!
An earlier request for help summarized things nicely (slightly updated here):
Well we are all volunteers, so we contribute what we can, when we can, no one is expected to edit X stories/day (make your own hours). I would say a strong recommendation (maybe not requirement) is signing onto IRC once in a while (especially when editing) so one can communicate with the other editors. Editing a few stories a day, or even a few a week would be welcome. A typical submission takes me about 15-30 minutes to edit, usually on the longer side if I'm expanding or adding a balanced point of view without trying to put words into the mouth of the submitter. The rest is pretty much what you'd expect:
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One also needs to:
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Nominate someone. Have you noticed someone who tends to compose well-written comments or journal entries? Think they might be a good fit? Please let us know!
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The controversial proposed sale of the .org internet registry to an unknown private equity firm will hit a critical decision point this week, and all the organizations in charge are refusing to talk about it.
On December 9, DNS overseer ICANN put a temporary halt on the sale by sending a letter to the organization that runs the .org registry, PIR, as well as its parent company, ISOC aka the Internet Society, demanding greater transparency over the sale to Ethos Capital as well as answers to a series of questions asked by the wider internet community.
That response is due this week and a response has apparently been sent but no one – not ICANN, ISOC, PIR or Ethos – will talk about it. We still don't even have a list of the questions ICANN claims it asked.
"PIR has submitted responses to ICANN's request for additional information pertaining to the transaction with Ethos Capital, LLC," ISOC told us, having asked PIR on our behalf. "PIR is working with ICANN to release its original notice regarding the contemplated change of control and information it provided in response to ICANN's subsequent request. This information will be released in the coming days pursuant to the principles set forth in ICANN's Documentary Information Disclosure Policy."
We approached ICANN, pointing out that this response clearly indicates active discussions between the organizations as well as decisions being made on the basis of ICANN policies, and asked for comment. ICANN told us a day later that it wouldn't comment.
In the meantime, a group of internet pioneers and former ICANNers – including its first chair Esther Dyson and former CEO Mike Roberts – have said they are setting up a new non-profit organization that they propose take over the .org registry in order to continue to run it as a non-profit, rather than convert to a for-profit corporation, as the Ethos Capital deal indicated.
[The study's co-senior author James M. Metz, MD] noted that other research teams have generated similar doses using electrons, which do not penetrate deep enough into the body to be clinically useful as a cancer treatment for internal tumors. Other groups have tried the approach with conventional photons, but currently available treatment devices do not have the ability to generate the necessary dosage. This study shows, that with technical modifications, the currently available accelerators for protons can achieve FLASH doses with the biologic effects today.
The key for the Penn team was the ability to generate the dose with protons, and even in that setting, researchers had to specially develop the tools needed to effectively and accurately measure radiation doses, since the standard detectors were quickly saturated due to the high levels of radiation. The Roberts Proton Therapy Center includes a dedicated research room to run experiments like these, allowing investigators to use photon and proton radiation side-by-side just feet from the clinic. It's one of the few facilities in the world with those unique features, and Metz said this infrastructure is what made Penn's FLASH experiments possible.
"We've been able to develop specialized systems in the research room to generate FLASH doses, demonstrate that we can control the proton beam, and perform a large number of experiments to help us understand the implications of FLASH radiation that we simply could not have done with a more traditional research setup," Metz said.
California could become the first state to introduce its own brand of generic prescription drugs in an effort to drag down stratospheric healthcare costs. The plan for state-branded drugs is part of California Gov. Gavin Newsom's budget proposal, which he is expected to unveil Friday, January 10.
"A trip to the doctor's office, pharmacy or hospital shouldn't cost a month's pay," Newsom said in a statement. "The cost of healthcare is just too damn high, and California is fighting back." A plan for California to sell its own drugs would "take the power out of the hands of greedy pharmaceutical companies," Newsom said, according to the Associated Press.
Under the plan, the state would contract with one or more generic drug companies, which would manufacture select prescription drugs under a state-owned label, according to an overview of the plan reported by the Los Angeles Times. Those state generics would presumably be offered to Californians at a lower price than current generics, which could spark more competitive pricing in the market overall.
So far, much of the plan's details are unclear, though, including which drugs might be sold and how much money they could save residents and the state.
The conceptual plan so far has garnered both praise and skepticism from health industry experts.
Anthony Wright, executive director of the advocacy group Health Access California, told the Associated Press that "Consumers would directly benefit if California contracted on its own to manufacture much-needed generic medications like insulin—a drug that has been around for a century yet the price has gone up over tenfold in the last few decades."
Less than two years before launch, scientists associated with NASA's Lucy mission, led by Southwest Research Institute, have discovered an additional small asteroid that will be visited by the Lucy spacecraft. Set to launch in 2021, its 12-year journey of almost 4 billion miles will explore the Trojan asteroids, a population of ancient small bodies that share an orbit with Jupiter.
This first-ever mission to the Trojans was already going to break records by visiting seven asteroids during a single mission. Now, using data from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), the Lucy team discovered that the first Trojan target, Eurybates, has a satellite. This discovery provides an additional object for Lucy to study.
"If I had to bet that one of our destinations had a satellite, it would have been this one," said SwRI's Hal Levison, principal investigator of the mission. "Eurybates is considered the largest remnant of a giant collision that occurred billions of years ago. Simulations show that asteroid collisions like the one that made Eurybates and its family often produce small satellites."
This correlates with big Kuiper Belt objects thought to be cousins to the Trojans, which show evidence of both massive collisions and small satellites.
[...] The small object was difficult to spot, in part, because Eurybates is 6,000 times brighter than its satellite. This implies that it's less than 1 km (0.5 miles) across, which, if correct, would make it among the smallest objects ever visited by a spacecraft.
"Before we believed that it was actually real, we had to make sure that a single satellite could actually fit all of the data," said SwRI's Cathy Olkin, deputy principal investigator of the Lucy mission. "Using computer simulations, we demonstrated many possible satellite orbits that match both the observations where we can see the satellite, as well as the times when we don't."
Lucy mission completes critical design review Provided by Southwest Research Institute Citation: Lucy mission now has a new destination (2020, January 9) retrieved 9 January 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-01-lucy-mission-destination.html
A major UK high street retailer has been fined the maximum amount under the pre-GDPR data protection regime for deficiencies which led to a breach affecting 14 million customers.
Privacy regulator the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) fined DSG Retail £500,000 under the 1998 Data Protection Act after POS malware was installed on 5390 tills.
The incident affected Currys PC World and Dixons Travel stores between July 2017 and April 2018, allowing hackers to harvest data including customer names, postcodes, email addresses and failed credit checks from internal servers, over a nine-month period.
The “poor security arrangements” highlighted by the ICO included ineffective software patching, the absence of a local firewall, and lack of network segregation and routine security testing.
“Our investigation found systemic failures in the way DSG Retail Limited safeguarded personal data. It is very concerning that these failures related to basic, commonplace security measures, showing a complete disregard for the customers whose personal information was stolen,” said ICO director of investigations, Steve Eckersley.
[...] Another business in the group, Carphone Warehouse, was fined £400,000 by the ICO in 2018 for similar security issues.
The putative black hole was detected indirectly from the motion of a bright companion star, orbiting an invisible compact object over a period of about 80 days. From new observations, a Belgian team showed that the original measurements were misinterpreted and that the mass of the black hole is, in fact, very uncertain. The most important question, namely how the observed binary system was created, remains unanswered. A crucial aspect is the mass of the visible companion, the hot star LS V+22 25. The more massive this star is, the more massive the black hole has to be to induce the observed motion of the bright star. The latter was considered to be a normal star, eight times more massive than the Sun.
A team of astronomers from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and the University of Potsdam had a closer look at the archival spectrum of LS V+22 25, taken by the Keck telescope at Mauna Kea, Hawaii. In particular, they were interested in studying the abundances of the chemical elements on the stellar surface. Interestingly, they detected deviations in the abundances of helium, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen compared to the standard composition of a young massive star. The observed pattern on the surface showed ashes resulting from the nuclear fusion of hydrogen, a process that only happens deep in the core of young stars and would not be expected to be detected at its surface.
[...] The authors concluded that LS V+22 25 must have interacted with its compact companion in the past. During this episode of mass-transfer, the outer layers of the star were removed and now the stripped helium core is visible, enriched with the ashes from the burning of hydrogen.
A. Irrgang, S. Geier, S. Kreuzer, I. Pelisoli, U. Heber. A stripped helium star in the potential black hole binary LB-1. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 2020; 633: L5 DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201937343