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During the COVID-19 lockdowns, on average, the time you spend in front of a computer has

  • Increased greatly
  • Increased somewhat
  • Not changed
  • Decreased somewhat
  • Decreased greatly
  • It's complicated (explain)
  • I don't have a computer you insensitive clod

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:42 | Votes:162

posted by Fnord666 on Friday July 31, @10:35PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the self-stirring dept.

Challenging a central dogma of chemistry: Energy flow in chemical reactions:

The findings violate a central dogma of chemistry, that molecular diffusion and chemical reaction are unrelated. To observe that molecules are energized by chemical reaction is "new and unknown," said Granick. "When one substance transforms to another by breaking and forming bonds, this actually makes the molecules move more rapidly. It's as if the chemical reactions stir themselves naturally."

"Currently, Nature does an excellent job of producing molecular machines but in the natural world scientists have not understood well enough how to design this property," said Wang. "Beyond curiosity to understand the world, we hope that practically this can become useful in guiding thinking about transducing chemical energy for molecular motion in liquids, for nanorobotics, precision medicine and greener material synthesis."

The unexpected ripples generated by chemical reactions, especially when catalyzed (accelerated by substances not themselves consumed), propagate long-range. For chemists and physicists, this work challenges the textbook view that molecular motion and chemical reaction are decoupled, and that reactions affect only the nearby vicinity. For engineers, this work shows a powerful new approach to design nanomotors at the truly molecular level.

[...] Wang remarked with enthusiasm: "Now, we're like a baby taking her first steps and there's so much exciting opportunity to grow this baby."

[...] Granick concluded: "The field of active materials, quite new and growing fast, is enriched by this discovery that chemical reactions behave as nanoswimmers made of individual molecules that stir up the reaction soup. The concept of active materials has shown its value in challenging a central dogma of chemistry."

Journal Reference:
Huan Wang, Myeonggon Park, Ruoyu Dong, et al. Boosted molecular mobility during common chemical reactions [$], Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.aba8425)

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday July 31, @08:26PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the bad-vendor-no-cookie dept.

If you own one of these 45 Netgear devices, replace it: Kit maker won't patch vulnerable gear despite live proof-of-concept code:

Netgear has quietly decided not to patch more than 40 home routers to plug a remote code execution vulnerability – despite security researchers having published proof-of-concept exploit code.

The vuln was revealed publicly in June by Trend Micro's Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) following six months spent chivvying Netgear behind the scenes to take it seriously.

Keen-eyed Reg readers, however, noticed that Netgear quietly declared 45 of the affected products as "outside the security support period" – meaning those items won't be updated to protect them against the vuln.

America's Carnegie-Mellon University summarised the vuln in a note from its Software Engineering Institute: "Multiple Netgear devices contain a stack buffer overflow in the httpd web server's handling of upgrade_check.cgi, which may allow for unauthenticated remote code execution with root privileges."

[...] With today's revelation that 45 largely consumer and SME-grade items will never be patched, Netgear faces questions over its commitment to older product lines. Such questions have begun to be addressed in Britain by calls from government agencies for new laws forcing manufacturers to reveal devices' design lifespans at the point of purchase.

Brian Gorenc, Trend Micro's senior director of vulnerability research and head of ZDI, told The Register in a statement: "Consumers should always ensure their devices are still supported by their manufacturers. They should also check the available support before purchasing a device. Unfortunately, there are too many examples of vendors abandoning devices that are still in wide use – sometimes even when they are still available to purchase. We hope vendors clearly communicate their support and lifecycle policies so that consumers can make educated choices."

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday July 31, @06:17PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the not-nominal dept.

Mars-bound spaceship experiencing technical issues: NASA:

Mars 2020, the spaceship carrying NASA's new rover Perseverance to the Red Planet, is experiencing technical difficulties and is running on essential systems only, the agency said Thursday.

"Data indicate the spacecraft had entered a state known as safe mode, likely because a part of the spacecraft was a little colder than expected while Mars 2020 was in Earth's shadow," NASA said.

The spaceship has left Earth's shadow and the temperatures are now normal.

[...] Matt Wallace, the mission's deputy project manager, said that the fact that the spaceship had entered safe mode was not overly concerning.

"That's perfectly fine, the spacecraft is happy there," he said. "The team is working through that telemetry, they're going to look through the rest of the spacecraft health. "So far, everything I've seen looks good, so we'll know more in a little bit."

Perseverance, Ingenuity begin seven month journey to Mars
Atlas 5 launches Mars 2020 mission

Mars 2020 Rover to Include a Mars Helicopter
Mars Helicopter Enters Final Testing
Mars Mission Readies Tiny Chopper for Red Planet Flight
NASA Reveals the New Wavy Martian Wheels it Thinks Can Crush the Red Planet
Three Missions to Mars Happening this Month

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday July 31, @04:08PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the feed-me! dept.

Bacteria live despite burial in seafloor mud for 100 million years:

You know those videos where people open (or even eat?) military rations from World War II? It's shocking to see just how well-preserved these "foods" can be after all those decades. In a way, Yuki Morono and his team of researchers at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology flipped that experience around by giving modern food to some old organisms. But their case involved bringing up ancient mud from the seafloor and adding some food to see if anything was alive in there.

There were, in fact, bacteria in the mud, which likely doesn't sound surprising. But given the environment and the age of this stuff—100 million years—it's actually pretty remarkable.

[...] The thing is, the researchers don't think this is just modern bacteria that have made their way deep into the mud. In fact, they shouldn't be able to move at all in that mud. The average space between particles in the clay should be considerably smaller than the size of a bacterium. The presence of microbes in the oldest sediments represent communities that are about as old as the sediment itself, the researchers conclude.

[...] This leads to an extraordinary claim: "Our results suggest that microbial communities widely distributed in organic-poor abyssal sediment consist mainly of aerobes that retain their metabolic potential under extremely low-energy conditions for up to 101.5 [million years]."

[...] So if the researchers are right about what they've found, it's a testament to the fact that life is nothing if not persistent. By slowing down to live within extremely limited means, these bacterial communities may have survived for a simply incredible length of time.

Also At:
100 million-year-old life forms found on the ocean floor

Journal Reference:
Yuki Morono, Motoo Ito, Tatsuhiko Hoshino, et al. Aerobic microbial life persists in oxic marine sediment as old as 101.5 million years [open], Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-17330-1)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday July 31, @01:59PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the ruh-roh! dept.

Cartoons Were Right? Bending a Rifle's Barrel Backward Will Actually Redirect a Bullet:

In an experiment you should never, ever try at home, the experimenters at YouTube's DemolitionRanch found that if you were strong enough to bend the barrel of a rifle back on itself (a clever maneuver Bugs Bunny often pulled on Elmer Fudd) the bullet would actually follow the curved path.

[...] For DemolitionRanch's latest firearms experiment, it goes one step beyond what The Mythbusters tested[*] and bent the barrel of an automatic rifle almost 180 degrees backward so that it points back at someone unfortunate enough to be holding the weapon. [...] They built a remote rig to safely test what would happen.

[...] when the rifle was fired remotely, the bullet exited the barrel at its business end


Video on YouTube

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday July 31, @11:50AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the medium-rare dept.

Big Tech CEOs grilled by Congress: Key moments from the historic antitrust meeting:

For five hours on Wednesday, the four Big Tech CEOs of the world's most powerful companies faced a grilling from US lawmakers in Washington, in an unprecedented hearing over alleged anti-competitive practices at their companies.

The hearing was the first time that Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google's parent Alphabet appeared together before Congress.

The Big Tech CEOs, appearing via video link, all faced moments in the spotlight from the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, with Pichai and Zuckerberg receiving the most attention. It was sixth and final hearing into competition in the digital market by the committee, and a culmination of more than 1.3 million documents and hundreds of hours of interviews and testimonies.

There are long-standing concerns that the four companies, worth a combined $4.85tn, have become too dominant for rivals to compete on the same level.

Antitrust regulators fear that a lack of competition will lead to higher prices for consumers. However, when digital platforms offer services for free – as Facebook and Google do – it is difficult for lawmakers to prove that consumers are worse off.

Another charge is that a lack of competition stifles innovation, which in theory could lead to subpar products and services for consumers. But given the four tech giants are known for being at the cutting edge of innovation, this is again difficult to prove.

As such, Congress is considering new antitrust laws that are appropriate for the digital age, which could prevent so much power being concentrated in so few companies.

Here are some of the key topics the Big Tech CEOs were grilled on.

Here's a couple YouTube streams of the hearing from Reuters (6½h) & C-SPAN3 (5½hr).

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday July 31, @09:41AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the just-a-bunny-hop dept.

SpaceX completes static fire of Starship prototype, will hop next:

After scrubbing several attempts for weather concerns, technical issues, and even a range violation due to a nearby boat, SpaceX succeeded in static-fire testing the latest prototype of its Starship vehicle on Thursday.

At 3:02pm local time in South Texas, the single Raptor engine attached to the Starship prototype dubbed Serial Number 5, or SN5, roared to life for a few seconds. In video shared by, the test appeared to be nominal, evidently providing SpaceX engineers with the confidence they need in the latest iteration of Starship.

Starship SN5 just completed full duration static fire. 150m hop soon.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 30, 2020

Shortly after the test, the founder and chief engineer of SpaceX, Elon Musk, confirmed that the static fire meant the company now plans to move forward with a short test flight of the vehicle. Based upon a notification from the US Federal Aviation Administration, this 150-meter flight test could take place as soon as Sunday, with a launch window opening at 8am local time (13:00 UTC).

(2020-04-28) Starship Chilled. Starship Pressurized. and for the First Time, It Didn't Explode
(2020-04-03) SpaceX Almost Ready to Start Testing SN3 -- The Third Starship Prototype
(2019-11-21) Starship Prototype Mk1 Fails During Propellant Tank Loading Test: Onwards to Mk3
(2019-08-28) SpaceX's Starhopper Completes 150 Meter Test Hop

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday July 31, @07:32AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the as-good-as-new dept.

New insights into wound healing: Using 3D mapping, researchers uncover a process that has stymied mechanobiology:

When we get a wound on our skin, the cells in our bodies quickly mobilize to repair it. While it has been known how cells heal wounds and how scars form, a team led by researchers from Washington University in St. Louis has determined for the first time how the process begins, which may provide new insight into wound healing, fibrosis and cancer metastasis.

"Clinical efforts to prevent the progression of fibrocontractile diseases, such as scarring and fibrosis, have been largely unsuccessful, in part because the mechanisms that cells use to interact with the protein fibers around them are unclear," [Delaram] Shakiba said. "We found that fibroblasts use completely different mechanisms in the early -- and I think the most treatable -- stages of these interactions, and that their responses to drugs can therefore be the opposite of what they would be in the later stages."

[...] The researchers learned they could control the cell shape in two ways: First, by controlling the boundaries around it, and second, by inhibiting or upregulating particular proteins involved in the remodeling of the collagen.

Fibroblasts pull the edges of a wound together, causing it to contract or close up. Collagen in the cells then remodels the extracellular matrix to fully close the wound. This is where mechanobiology comes into play.

"There's a balance between tension and compression inside a cell that is newly exposed to fibrous proteins," [professor Guy] Genin said. "There is tension in actin cables, and by playing with that balance, we can make these protrusions grow extremely long," Genin said. "We can stop the remodeling from occurring or we can increase it."

Journal Reference:
Delaram Shakiba, Farid Alisafaei, Alireza Savadipour, et al. The Balance between Actomyosin Contractility and Microtubule Polymerization Regulates Hierarchical Protrusions That Govern Efficient Fibroblast–Collagen Interactions, ACS Nano (DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.9b09941)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday July 31, @05:22AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the dollars-and-sense dept.

Putting Copper in Hospitals:

[Copper] does this by leaching electrons from bacteria, which causes a charge to build up inside the cell which ultimately leads to free radical formation and cell death. Many studies have now shows that the microbial burden on copper surfaces is reduced by 80% compared to traditional surfaces. When used on frequently touched surfaces in hospitals, this can significantly reduce the amount of bacteria hanging around. Another study showed that the total reduction in bacteria from a copper alloy surface was 99.9% (compared to baseline, not to control surfaces). In controlled studies, copper surfaces work as advertised – they kill bacteria and viruses.

But does this actually reduce the incidence of hospital acquired infections (HAIs, also called health care associated infections)? The answer is yes. A 2017 systematic review of studies found that introducing copper surface in the hospital reduced HAIs by 25%.

[...] This will require a significant investment by hospitals – replacing beds, serving trays, tables, rails, door handles, and other high-touch surfaces. [...] The estimated cost of the most common HAIs is around $10 billion per year in the US. This cost is often absorbed by the hospital. This is because reimbursement for hospital stays is often determined by DRGs – diagnostic related groups. Hospitals are paid by insurance companies based upon the patient's diagnosis. If a patient is admitted for pneumonia, the hospital gets paid a fixed amount which represents the average cost of treating pneumonia. If the patient does well and is discharged quickly, the hospital makes money. If they do not do well and have complications and a prolonged stay, the hospital loses money. This provides a good financial incentive for hospitals to provide efficient and effective care, and minimize complications.

(2020-07-19) Laser-Textured Metal Surfaces Kill Bacteria Faster

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday July 31, @03:11AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the orbital-enlargement dept.

The Mystery of Titan’s Expanding Orbit:

Seen through the eyes of some omnipotent time traveler, our solar system—like any planetary system—is a heaving, pulsing thing. Across millions and billions of years its contents ebb and flow. Planetary orbits shift in shape and orientation, and billions of ancient asteroidal pieces shuffle through the skeletal disk that defines the major architecture of all that surrounds the sun, itself a star that sheds mass and energy as it gradually climbs an-ever brightening staircase of thermonuclear fusion.

But some things are assumed to be comparatively dull and unchanging. Saturn's largest moon, Titan, for instance, was expected to sit in its orbit with little alteration to that position over the billions of years since its formation. Now a study published in Nature Astronomy by Lainey, et al., has used measurements from the Cassini spacecraft (which orbited Saturn from 2004 to 2017) to determine that Titan has an orbit that grows by an astonishing 11 centimeters each year.

[...] So, what's going on? The answer may be a phenomenon broadly characterized as resonance-locking tidal theory. In essence, if the internals of a planet like Saturn get "strummed" at the right frequency by the gravitational pull of a moon there's an amplification of the tidal distortion—a kind of natural ringing, or resonance, of the thick gaseous envelope of the planet, and consequently more powerful gravitational interaction with the moon that's doing the strumming. And because the internal structure of a gas giant evolves over billions of years (because of things like gravitational contraction and helium rain) these resonances will change over time, sometimes "locking" onto different moons' orbital period and driving unexpectedly fast alterations in their orbits.

Journal Reference:
Valéry Lainey, Luis Gomez Casajus, Jim Fuller, et al. Resonance locking in giant planets indicated by the rapid orbital expansion of Titan, Nature Astronomy (DOI: 10.1038/s41550-020-1120-5)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday July 31, @01:01AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the gonna-need-more-disks dept.

Apache Software Foundation Estimates Its Code Value Increased ~$600M For FY2020

For fiscal year 2019 the Apache Software Foundation valued their codebase at around $20 billion USD. The open-source organization has now published their annual report for fiscal year 2020.

The Apache Software Foundation's FY2020 report values their massive code-base now in excess of $20 billion dollars using the CoCoMo[*] model. With eight million lines of code added over their fiscal year, they estimate that increase to be approximately worth $600 million USD worth of work.

[*] Constructive Cost Model (COCOMO).

Blog post. Annual Report FY2020.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Thursday July 30, @10:50PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the dept.

Medieval medicine remedy could provide new treatment for modern day infections:

Antibiotic resistance is an increasing battle for scientists to overcome, as more antimicrobials are urgently needed to treat biofilm-associated infections. However scientists from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick say research into natural antimicrobials could provide candidates to fill the antibiotic discovery gap.

Bacteria can live in two ways, as individual planktonic cells or as a multicellular biofilm. Biofilm helps protect bacteria from antibiotics, making them much harder to treat, one such biofilm that is particularly hard to treat is those that infect diabetic foot ulcers.

[...] Building on previous research done by the University of Nottingham on using medieval remedies to treat MRSA, the researchers from the School of Life Sciences at University of Warwick reconstructed a 1,000-year-old medieval remedy containing onion, garlic, wine, and bile salts, which is known as 'Bald's eyesalve', and showed it to have promising antibacterial activity. The team also showed that the mixture caused low levels of damage to human cells.

They found the Bald's eyesalve remedy was effective against a range of Gram-negative and Gram-positive wound pathogens in planktonic culture. This activity is maintained against the following pathogens grown as biofilms:

  1. Acinetobacter baumanii—commonly associated with infected wounds in combat troops returning from conflict zones.
  2. Stenotrophomonas maltophilia—commonly associated with respiratory infections in humans
  3. Staphylococcus aureus—a common cause of skin infections including abscesses, respiratory infections such as sinusitis, and food poisoning.
  4. Staphylococcus epidermidis—a common cause of infections involving indwelling foreign devices such as a catheter, surgical wound infections, and bacteremia in immunocompromised patients.
  5. Streptococcus pyogenes—causes numerous infections in humans including pharyngitis, tonsillitis, scarlet fever, cellulitis, rheumatic fever and post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.

All of these bacteria can be found in the biofilms that infect diabetic foot ulcers and which can be resistant to antibiotic treatment. These debilitating infections can lead to amputation to avoid the risk of the bacteria spreading to the blood to cause lethal bacteremia.

Journal Reference:
Jessica Furner-Pardoe, Blessing O. Anonye, Ricky Cain, et al. Anti-biofilm efficacy of a medieval treatment for bacterial infection requires the combination of multiple ingredients [open], Scientific Reports (DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-69273-8)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday July 30, @08:38PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the ship-it! dept.

Chinese Type 075 Big Deck Amphib Preparing for Sea Trials - USNI News:

The Chinese Navy's newest amphibious warfare asset, the Type 075 LHD (Landing Helicopter Dock) is setting sail for the first time, according to ship spotter reports.

The vessel, which was built in Shanghai, has been fitting out since it was floated on September 26, 2019. Candid photos surfacing on the Chinese language internet show it being fueled, and tugs readied.

The Type-075 represents a step-change in the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) amphibious warfare capabilities. It will enable better over-the-horizon landing capabilities and improve air cover. And there are already rumors of the follow-on Type-076 LHD which is expected to include EMALS (Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System) for unmanned combat aerial vehicles or crewed aircraft. At this stage, these rumors should be treated with caution. But they do give an indication of the direction PLAN amphibious capabilities are going.

In addition to the well-deck for Type 726 hovercraft (generally equivalent to the U.S. Navy's Landing Craft Air Cushion), the LHD will have a large rotor-wing component. This will include the Z-8 transport helicopter which is based on the French SA 321 Super Frelon. More modern types seen aboard, in mock-up form, include the naval variant of the Harbin Z-20 — an apparent copy of the Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk-Sea Hawk family.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday July 30, @06:26PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the All-your-zoom-meetings-are-belong-to-us dept.

[Emphasis in original retained. What appears here is the tl;dr summary; the article provides the steps taken to sleuth this out, as well as a timeline of the researcher's communications with Zoom that started on April 1st. --Ed.]

Zoom meetings were default protected by a 6 digit numeric password, meaning 1 million maximum passwords. I discovered a vulnerability in the Zoom web client that allowed checking if a password is correct for a meeting, due to broken CSRF and no rate limiting.

This enabled an attacker to attempt all 1 million passwords in a matter of minutes and gain access to other people's private (password protected) Zoom meetings.

This also raises the troubling question as to whether others were potentially already using this vulnerability to listen in to other people's calls (e.g. the UK Cabinet Meeting!).

I reported the issue to Zoom, who quickly took the web client offline to fix the problem. They seem to have mitigated it by both requiring a user logs in to join meetings in the web client, and updating default meeting passwords to be non-numeric and longer. Therefore this attack no longer works.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday July 30, @04:16PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the luckiest-spacecraft-indeed dept.

Once considered lost, ESA and NASA's SOHO came back from the brink of death to work even better than it did before:

Welcome to the final episode in The Register's series on engineering longevity in space. We conclude with the joint ESA and NASA project, more than 24 years into a two-year mission: the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).

Launched atop an Atlas II-AS from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on 2 December 1995 at 08:08 UT, SOHO's prime scientific objectives are to investigate the outer layer and study the interior of the Sun as well as observe the solar wind.

[...] SOHO orbits the First Lagrangian Point (L1), lurking approximately 1.5 million kilometres from Earth and enjoys an uninterrupted view of the Sun. Its primary mission was supposed to last for two years but is now approaching the quarter-century mark.

However, it is not its extraordinary longevity for which SOHO is famous. It is for an almost mission-ending incident in 1998, the recovery from which cemented the probe's reputation as one of ESA's luckiest spacecraft, as well as one of its most long-lived.

Original Submission