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When did you last verify that your backup could be restored?

  • My what?
  • Never
  • Some years ago
  • Some years ago with a different backup system, on different hardware, in a different company
  • My data is public and i just google it for recovery
  • I'm in the backup department, not the recovery department - you insensitive clod!
  • Other - please specify in comments

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:38 | Votes:75

posted by martyb on Friday November 20, @11:37PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the there-can-be-only-one dept.

See this page Dev Fonts.

Which one of these fonts, or alternately, what other font not appearing on that page is "the true one and only" programming font?

Let the (friendly!) battles begin!

(Please include, if possible, a link from which it can be downloaded.--Ed.)


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday November 20, @09:28PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

The Caribbean islands poisoned by a carcinogenic pesticide:

"First we were enslaved. Then we were poisoned." That's how many on Martinique see the history of their French Caribbean island that, to tourists, means sun, rum, and palm-fringed beaches. Slavery was abolished in 1848. But today the islanders are victims again - of a toxic pesticide called chlordecone that's poisoned the soil and water and been linked to unusually high rates of prostate cancer.

"They never told us it was dangerous," Ambroise Bertin says. "So people were working, because they wanted the money. We didn't have any instructions about what was, and wasn't, good. That's why a lot of people are poisoned." He's talking about chlordecone, a chemical in the form of a white powder that plantation workers were told to put under banana trees, to protect them from insects.

Ambroise did that job for many years. Later, he got prostate cancer, a disease that is commoner on Martinique and its sister French island of Guadeloupe than anywhere else in the world. And scientists blame chlordecone, a persistent organic pollutant related to DDT. It was authorised for use in the French West Indies long after its harmful effects became widely known.

"They used to tell us: don't eat or drink anything while you're putting it down," Ambroise, now 70, remembers. But that's the only clue he and other workers in Martinique's banana plantations in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s had about the possible danger. Few if any were told to wear gloves or masks. Now, many have suffered cancer and other illnesses.

Chlordecone is an endocrine disrupter, meaning it can affect hormonal systems.

One of the world's leading experts on the chemical, Prof Luc Multigner, of Rennes University in France, says epidemiological studies have shown increased risk of premature births and increased risk of adverse brain development in children at the exposure levels people in Martinique and Guadeloupe face through contaminated food consumption.

He also says: "There is enough toxicological and experimental data to conclude that chlordecone is carcinogenic."

Following a detailed study Prof Multigner and colleagues conducted on Guadeloupe in 2010, he estimates chlordecone is responsible for about 5-10% of prostate cancer cases in the French West Indies, amounting to between 50 to 100 new cases per year, out of a population of 800,000.

[n.b. Emphasis retained from source article]


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday November 20, @07:19PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Hidden world of bacteria and fungi discovered on Leonardo da Vinci's drawings:

Leonardo da Vinci is famous for his elaborate, nuanced artworks and advanced technological ideas. But new research has revealed another level of complexity to his drawings: a hidden world of tiny life-forms on his artwork.

The findings, the researchers said, could help build a microbiome "catalogue" for artwork. Each of the pieces had a unique enough collection of microbes that researchers could have identified it again later purely from a study of its microscopic biology. And the drawings' microbiomes had enough key elements in common to help researchers spot counterfeits based on differences in their microbiomes, or even authentic drawings that had been stored in different conditions over the centuries. The researchers also showed that da Vinci's drawings had a significantly different microbiome than expected, with lots of bacteria and human DNA — likely a consequence of centuries of handling by art restorers and other people. Microbes known to make paper degrade over time were also present, showing why those restorers' efforts had been necessary The study amounts to a proof-of-concept exercise, showing how microbiomes might, in the future, reveal unexpected histories of certain artworks or help detect forgeries.

Researchers examined the microscopic biological material, living and dead, in seven of the master's "emblematic" drawings, and found an unexpected diversity of bacteria, fungi and human DNA. Most of that material probably landed on the sketches well after da Vinci's death 501 years ago, so the DNA (or the bulk of it at least) likely comes from other people who have handled the drawings over the centuries and not the polymath himself. But the newfound biological materials do have a story to tell.

[...] The biggest surprise, the researchers wrote, was the high concentration of bacteria in the drawings, especially as compared with fungi. Past studies have shown that fungi tend to dominate the microbiomes of paper objects such as these drawings, but in this case an unusually high amount of bacteria from humans and insects (likely flies that pooped on the paper at some point) were present.

The study was published Friday (Nov. 20) in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.

Journal Reference:
Piñar, Guadalupe, Guadalupe, Sclocchi, Maria Carla, Pinzari, Flavia, et al. The Microbiome of Leonardo da Vinci's Drawings: A Bio-Archive of Their History, Frontiers in Microbiology (DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.593401)


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday November 20, @05:14PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the xkcd-1161 dept.

From the horse's mouth

Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) announced on Thursday a new breakthrough in glass-ceramic technology, Corning® Guardiant®. Under test methods approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paint and coatings containing Corning Guardiant were shown to kill more than 99.9% of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The tests provide the first demonstration of highly durable antimicrobial activity against SARS-CoV-2. The demonstrated antimicrobial efficacy remained active even after tests simulating six years of scrubbing. The tests were designed to account for the cleaning that a surface could be subjected to over time.

[...] Corning is working alongside PPG as it seeks EPA registration for its paint product formulated with Corning Guardiant.

Corning Guardiant contains copper, which has been shown to exhibit antimicrobial efficacy when applied to surfaces, consistently reducing germs on contact. Corning Guardiant keeps the most effective form of copper readily available for reducing harmful germs.

[...] Corning is currently collaborating with leading paint and coatings manufacturers around the world, including PPG, to develop products containing Corning Guardiant that meet governmental and regulatory requirements. Subject to EPA approval, PPG's antiviral paint product will be available under the name COPPER ARMOR™

[...] The results of SARS-CoV-2 testing on coatings containing Corning Guardiant were recently obtained by Dr. Luisa Ikner in Professor Charles Gerba's lab at the University of Arizona. Following U.S. EPA recommendations that test methods mimic in-use conditions for antimicrobial surface materials seeking claims against harmful germs, the lab used stringent test methods that simulated realistic contamination, which is dry and invisible.

In addition to the SARS-CoV-2 results, Corning has also published research on Corning Guardiant demonstrating kill[sic] of other bacteria and viruses with greater than 99.9% efficacy in under two hours, including gram positive bacteria (such as Staphylococcus aureus), gram negative bacteria (such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa), and non-enveloped viruses (such as murine norovirus, which belongs to the hardest-to-kill class of viruses in terms of its susceptibility to disinfectants).


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday November 20, @03:05PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Hackers can use just-fixed Intel bugs to install malicious firmware on PCs:

As the amount of sensitive data stored on computers has exploded over the past decade, hardware and software makers have invested increasing amounts of resources into securing devices against physical attacks in the event that they're lost, stolen, or confiscated. Earlier this week, Intel fixed a series of bugs that made it possible for attackers to install malicious firmware on millions of computers that use its CPUs.

The vulnerabilities allowed hackers with physical access to override a protection Intel built into modern CPUs that prevents unauthorized firmware from running during the boot process. Known as Boot Guard, the measure is designed to anchor a chain of trust directly into the silicon to ensure that all firmware that loads is digitally signed by the computer manufacturer. Boot Guard protects against the possibility of someone tampering with the SPI-connected flash chip that stores the UEFI, which is a complex piece of firmware that bridges a PC's device firmware with its operating system.

[...] Intel isn't saying how it fixed a vulnerability that stems from fuse settings that can't be reset. Hudson suspects that Intel made the change using firmware that runs in the Intel Management Engine, a security and management coprocessor inside the CPU chipset that handles access to the OTP fuses, among many other things. (Earlier this week, Intel published never-before-disclosed details about the ME here.)

The two other vulnerabilities stemmed from flaws in the way CPUs fetched firmware when they were powered up. All three of the vulnerabilities were indexed under the single tracking ID CVE-2020-8705, which received a high severity rating from Intel. (Intel has an overview of all November security patches here. Computer manufacturers began making updates available this week. Hudson's post, linked above, has a far more detailed and technical writeup.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday November 20, @12:56PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the epic-decision dept.

Judge dismisses Apple's "theft" claims in Epic Games lawsuit:

US District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers this week threw out two Apple counterclaims stemming from the company's antitrust/breach-of-contract court battle with Epic Games over the fate of Fortnite on iOS.

[...] This week's ruling, however, deals with counterclaims filed by Apple in response to that lawsuit. In those counterclaims, Apple argued that the introduction of Epic Direct Payments (which are still available in the iOS version of the game, for people who downloaded it before the App Store removal) amounted to "intentional interference" with Apple's legitimate business. The company also sought extra punitive damages for what it considers "little more than theft" of the 30-percent commission that it is rightfully owed.

[...] "This is a high-stakes breach of contract case and an antitrust case and that's all in my view," Rogers said. And despite Apple's loss here, those two core elements of the case will continue to be argued as the case moves forward to a trial, with arguments scheduled for May.

"Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines that apply equally to every developer who sells digital goods and services," Apple said in a statement. "Their reckless behavior made pawns of customers, and we look forward to making it right for them in court next May."

previously:
Fortnite Maker Sues Apple after Removal of Game From App Store


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday November 20, @10:47AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the can-you-picture-that? dept.

Google Photos is the latest "Unlimited" plan to impose hard limits:

Today, Google Photos VP Shimrit Ben-Yair announced the end of Google Photos' unlimited photo storage policy. The plan already came with significant caveats—unlimited storage was for the tier Google deems "High quality," which includes compressed media only, capped at 16 megapixels for photos and 1080p for videos. Uncompressed or higher-resolution photos and videos saved in original quality count against the 15GiB cap for the user's Google Drive account.

As of June 2021, high-quality photos and videos will also begin counting against a user's Google Drive storage capacity. That said, if you've already got a terabyte of high quality photos and videos stored in Photos, don't panic—the policy change affects new photos and videos created or stored after June 2021 only. Media that's already saved to Google Photos is grandfathered in and will not be affected by the new policy change.

[...] If you're not sure how long your available storage will last, you can get an estimate at https://photos.google.com/storage. That page will use the rate at which a Google account has stored data—including Drive, Gmail, and Photos—and project the date at which that account will bump up against capacity limits.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday November 20, @08:38AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the b-b-b-but-zomies-are-already-dead dept.

RadioShack will live forever as a zombie brand:

RadioShack's shambling remains were given another jolt of life today when they were purchased by another company that plans to relaunch the once-great retailer as an online-focused brand.

The store's remains were purchased by Retail Ecommerce Ventures (REV), a startup founded in 2019 that's been scooping up brands from other faded retail giants as well, including Pier 1, Modell's Sporting Goods, Dressbarn, and more. REV says RadioShack's website already has "strong existing sales and sales potential," and the company is "confident" it can further raise awareness of the brand internationally.

REV claims it's successfully turned around other companies it's launched as online brands. The Wall Street Journal reported that Dressbarn more than doubled its revenue between the first and second quarter of 2020.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday November 20, @06:29AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Astronaut: SpaceX Dragon beats shuttle, Soyuz for launching:

SpaceX delivered its second crew of astronauts to the International Space Station late Monday night, just 27 hours after their launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

In their first press conference from orbit, the four astronauts described Sunday night's launch and their first impressions of the space station, their new home until spring.

Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi—who became only the third person to launch aboard three kinds of spacecraft—said "the Dragon is the best, short answer."

[...] First-time space flyer Victor Glover, the crew's pilot, said the G-forces gradually built up after the rocket's second stage kicked in.

"In a fighter, you can't hold 4 G's for several minutes, not most aircraft," Glover noted. "I've been able to feel that for a few seconds. But to have that for an extended period was just truly amazing."

Once reaching orbit, "it's surreal," he added. "I've seen tons of pictures. But when I first looked out the window at the Earth, it's hard to describe. There are no words ... It was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime feeling."

[...] The astronauts chose a small, plush Baby Yoda as their zero-gravity indicator for the same reason—"when you see him, it's hard not to smile," said commander Mike Hopkins. The crew had started watching the Disney and "Star Wars" TV series, "The Mandalorian," featuring Baby Yoda.

"The ride into space was probably a little rougher than Baby Yoda was used to," Hopkins said.

The SpaceX crew—which also includes Shannon Walker—joined one other American and two Russians at the orbiting outpost. It's the first time the space station has had seven long-term crew members all at once, which is expected to boost scientific output.


Original Submission

posted by takyon on Friday November 20, @04:20AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the x-files dept.

NSF begins planning for decommissioning of Arecibo Observatory's 305-meter telescope due to safety concerns

Following a review of engineering assessments that found damage to the Arecibo Observatory cannot be stabilized without risk to construction workers and staff at the facility, the U.S. National Science Foundation will begin plans to decommission the 305-meter telescope, which for 57 years has served as a world-class resource for radio astronomy, planetary, solar system and geospace research.

The decision comes after NSF evaluated multiple assessments by independent engineering companies that found the telescope structure is in danger of a catastrophic failure and its cables may no longer be capable of carrying the loads they were designed to support. Furthermore, several assessments stated that any attempts at repairs could put workers in potentially life-threatening danger. Even in the event of repairs going forward, engineers found that the structure would likely present long-term stability issues.

"NSF prioritizes the safety of workers, Arecibo Observatory's staff and visitors, which makes this decision necessary, although unfortunate," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "For nearly six decades, the Arecibo Observatory has served as a beacon for breakthrough science and what a partnership with a community can look like. While this is a profound change, we will be looking for ways to assist the scientific community and maintain that strong relationship with the people of Puerto Rico."

Arecibo Heartbreak: Iconic SETI Dish Will Be Demolished Due to Risk of 'Catastrophic' Collapse

The recent failure of two support cables at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico has destabilized the structure such that it cannot be repaired without placing construction workers at significant risk, according to officials with the National Science Foundation. As feared, the beloved 1,000-foot telescope will have to be decommissioned.

As if 2020 couldn't get any worse, we received news this morning that the giant dish at Arecibo will have to be demolished. The National Science Foundation came to this hard decision following a review of engineering assessments, which concluded that the observatory is in seriously bad shape and that it cannot be stabilized without placing workers in danger. The NSF is now planning for the controlled decommission of the dish, ending a historic 57-year run.

But there is this . . .

"I want to say this as forcefully as possible," said Ralph Gaume, the director of NSF's Division of Astronomical Sciences, at a call for reporters earlier today. "We're not closing the Arecibo Observatory."

Also at The Verge, Science Magazine, and Space News.


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2Original Submission #3

posted by martyb on Friday November 20, @02:11AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the putting-things-into-perspective dept.

[2020-11-20 02:51:10 UTC; Had used worldwide daily death count (10,970); correct value for US single-day deaths was 2,065.--martyb]

[How many Soylentils personally know of someone who has contracted or died from COVID-19? Please accept my condolences for your loss. --martyb]

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 — the deadliest in world history — killed 2,977 people:

During the September 11 attacks of 2001, 2,977 people were killed, 19 hijackers committed murder–suicide, and more than 6,000 others were injured. The immediate deaths included 265 on the four planes (including the terrorists), 2,606 in the World Trade Center and in the surrounding area, and 125 at the Pentagon. The attacks were the deadliest terrorist act in world history, causing the death of over 500 more people than the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

In just one day — yesterday, Wednesday, November 18, 2020 — COVID-19 took the lives of 2,065 people in the US. At that rate, in excess of 86,000 more Americans will die between today and the end of the year. Deaths tend to lag infection onset by about a month. As the case rate experiences exponential growth, expect a commensurate increase in deaths before year's end.

U.S. Surpasses 250,000 Covid-19 Deaths

The COVID-19 death count continues to increase. The US hit the grim milestone of 250,000 deaths yesterday.

U.S. surpasses 250,000 Covid-19 deaths:

The United States has recorded a quarter-million Covid-19 deaths, the latest NBC News numbers showed Wednesday, and the death rate has been accelerating in recent weeks as cases have been surging across the country.

The 250,000th death was logged Wednesday morning, the data revealed.

In the last four weeks there has been a 42 percent increase in the number of fatalities, from a weekly average of 821 per day in early October to last week's average of 1,167 per day, according to an NBC News analysis of the available data.

And a year after the first Covid-19 infection was reported in China, people were dying in America at a pace not seen since mid-August, the analysis showed.

[...] In addition to deaths, the U.S. leads the world with 11.4 million Covid-19 infections, the NBC News figures showed.

"Right now, we are in an absolutely dangerous situation that we have to take with the utmost seriousness," Dr. Brett Giroir, the Trump administration's coronavirus testing czar, told MSBNC's Andrea Mitchell. "This is not crying wolf. This is the worst rate of rise in cases that we have seen in the pandemic in the United States. And, right now, there's no sign of flattening."

Covid-19 Has Killed 250,000 People in the US. That's 10 Times the Deaths From Car Crashes in a Year

Covid-19 has killed 250,000 people in the US. That's 10 times the deaths from car crashes in a year:

Health experts say if Americans don't get more serious about wearing masks and avoiding careless socializing, the rate of deaths will keep soaring this fall and winter.

Here's a look at how deadly Covid-19 is, compared with several other causes of death in the US. To get a more balanced picture, we took the five-year annual average ending in 2018, the latest available year of data for most causes.

[...] Coronavirus has killed 250,000 people in the US in less than 10 months, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

[...] On average, 24,166 people die each year in car crashes, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

[...] That means at least 10 times more people have died from Covid-19 so far this year than car crashes typically do over an entire year.

[...] An average of 42,200 people died from the flu each year from 2014 through 2018, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So in less than 10 months, Covid-19 deaths have reached more than five times the average number of annual flu deaths.

The new coronavirus isn't just deadlier than the flu -- it's also much more contagious than the flu.

[...] On average, 45,439 people died by suicide from 2014 through 2018, according to CDC data.

[...] Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. An average of 670,595 people die from heart disease each year, according to CDC data.

[...] An average of 612,725 people die of cancer in the US each year, according to CDC data.

[...] An average of 141,952 people in the US die from strokes each year, according to CDC data.


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

posted by martyb on Friday November 20, @12:02AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

S&P 500 adds Tesla, sending stock price soaring:

Tesla will finally be added to the S&P 500 Index[*], the committee responsible for the index announced after markets closed on Monday. The change will take effect on December 21.

[...] People have trillions of dollars in index funds that track the S&P 500 index. This means that when a stock is added to the S&P 500, fund managers have to add it to their portfolios, pushing up the stock price.

[...] Tesla reported a fifth quarter of profits in October, and now the S&P committee is finally adding Tesla to its index.

[...] Tesla's stock price has surged by a factor of five over the course of 2020, making Elon Musk one of the world's richest people. Bloomberg estimates that he is now worth more than $100 billion.

[*] S&P 500: S&P 500 Index:

The S&P 500, or simply the S&P, is a stock market index that measures the stock performance of 500 large companies listed on stock exchanges in the United States. It is one of the most commonly followed equity indices.

The S&P 500 index is a capitalization-weighted index and the 10 largest companies in the index account for 26% of the market capitalization of the index. The 10 largest companies in the index, in order of weighting, are Apple Inc., Microsoft, Amazon.com, Facebook, Alphabet Inc. (class A & C), Berkshire Hathaway, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble and Nvidia, respectively.

Exactly one year ago — on November 18, 2019 — TSLA was $66.61 per share; yesterday's close was at $486.64 (+45.03)


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday November 19, @09:53PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the sounds-like-a-new-supervillian dept.

NASA's Hubble Sees Unexplained Brightness from Colossal Explosion

NASA announces the Hubble Space Telescope captured images of the source of a Gamma-ray Burst.

Long ago and far across the universe, an enormous burst of gamma rays unleashed more energy in a half-second than the Sun will produce over its entire 10-billion-year lifetime. In May of 2020, light from the flash finally reached Earth and was first detected by NASA's Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory. Scientists quickly enlisted other telescopes — including NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, the Very Large Array radio observatory, the W. M. Keck Observatory, and the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope network — to study the explosion's aftermath and the host galaxy. It was Hubble that provided the surprise.

Yes, a kilonova, a merger of neutron stars.

Based on X-ray and radio observations from the other observatories, astronomers were baffled by what they saw with Hubble: the near-infrared emission was 10 times brighter than predicted. These results challenge conventional theories of what happens in the aftermath of a short gamma-ray burst. One possibility is that the observations might point to the birth of a massive, highly magnetized neutron star called a magnetar.

"These observations do not fit traditional explanations for short gamma-ray bursts," said study leader Wen-fai Fong of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. "Given what we know about the radio and X-rays from this blast, it just doesn't match up. The near-infrared emission that we're finding with Hubble is way too bright. In terms of trying to fit the puzzle pieces of this gamma-ray burst together, one puzzle piece is not fitting correctly."

Without Hubble, the gamma-ray burst would have appeared like many others, and Fong and her team would not have known about the bizarre infrared behavior. "It's amazing to me that after 10 years of studying the same type of phenomenon, we can discover unprecedented behavior like this," said Fong. "It just reveals the diversity of explosions that the universe is capable of producing, which is very exciting."

"There are more things in the heavens than are dreamt of in your astrophysics."

Neutron star mergers are very rare but are extremely important because scientists think that they are one of the main sources of heavy elements in the universe, such as gold and uranium.

Accompanying a short gamma-ray burst, scientists expect to see a "kilonova" whose peak brightness typically reaches 1,000 times that of a classical nova. Kilonovae are an optical and infrared glow from the radioactive decay of heavy elements and are unique to the merger of two neutron stars, or the merger of a neutron star with a small black hole.

Magnetic Monster?

Fong and her team have discussed several possibilities to explain the unusual brightness that Hubble saw. While most short gamma-ray bursts probably result in a black hole, the two neutron stars that merged in this case may have combined to form a magnetar, a supermassive neutron star with a very powerful magnetic field.

More?

If the extra brightness came from a magnetar that deposited energy into the kilonova material, then within a few years, the team expects the ejecta from the burst to produce light that shows up at radio wavelengths. Follow-up radio observations may ultimately prove that this was a magnetar, and this may explain the origin of such objects.

"With its amazing sensitivity at near-infrared wavelengths, Hubble really sealed the deal with this burst," explained Fong. "Amazingly, Hubble was able to take an image only three days after the burst. Through a series of later images, Hubble showed that a source faded in the aftermath of the explosion. This is as opposed to being a static source that remains unchanged. With these observations, we knew we had not only nabbed the source, but we had also discovered something extremely bright and very unusual. Hubble's angular resolution was also key in pinpointing the position of the burst and precisely measuring the light coming from the merger."

Not bad for a satellite telescope that should be retired.

The team's findings appear in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

Astronomers Witnessed the Birth of a Supermassive Magnetar Following a Kilonova

In many places already, picking the Smithsonian Magazine one for the high density of links, arxiv included.

This year, astronomers witnessed a cosmic spectacle when two neutron stars—the dense remains of collapsing stars—crashed into each other billions of lightyears away. Their gargantuan collision lit up the galaxy with a flash and gave rise to a magnetar—a supermassive star with a hyper-powerful magnetic field. Astronomers have known about magnetars, but this event marks the first time they've ever witnessed one being born...

Using remarkably powerful equipment, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Swift Observatory, the scientists observed a quick flash of light on May 22. The stars' collision certainly didn't occur that night—instead, it occurred 5.47 billion years ago, and its light had just reached Earth, according to a press release.

The team observed a quick flash of gamma radiation, the result of the stars crashing and sending space matter blasting through the galaxy to settle among the stars. Then came the long-burning glow of a kilonova—a colossal explosion that produces heavy elements like gold and platinum—as the space dust swirled around the newly formed magnetar, reports Live Science.

The explosion released more energy in half a second than the sun emits over ten billion years, according to another press release.

But the scientists noticed something even more bewildering: The flash emitted ten times the average amount of infrared light, reports Meghan Bartels for Space.com. The findings will be published in The Astrophysical Journal and are currently available on the pre-print server arXiv.org.

"When two neutron stars merge, the most common predicted outcome is that they form a heavy neutron star that collapses into a black hole within milliseconds or less," lead author Wen-fai Fong, an astrophysicist at Northwestern University, says in a press release.

"Our study shows that it's possible that, for this particular short gamma-ray burst, the heavy object survived," Fong says. "Instead of collapsing into a black hole, it became a magnetar: A rapidly spinning neutron star that has large magnetic fields, dumping energy into its surrounding environment and creating the very bright glow that we see."

The spinning magnetar transferred a remarkable amount of energy to the debris created by the collision, heating the material up and generating a bright glow, Richard A. Lovett for Cosmos.

Artist rendition on youtube.


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday November 19, @07:44PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the It's-for-your-own-good dept.

GM to leverage driver data as it jumps back into the insurance business – TechCrunch:

General Motors is launching an insurance service, returning to a business that it abandoned more than a decade ago, but this time more in step with the connected-car era.

The service, called OnStar Insurance, will offer bundled auto, home and renters' insurance, starting this year with GM employees in Arizona. GM's new insurance agency, OnStar Insurance Services, will be the exclusive agent for OnStar Insurance. Homesite Insurance Group, an affiliate of American Family Insurance, will underwrite the program.

The services will be available to the public nationwide by the end of 2022, including people who drive vehicles outside of GM's portfolio of Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC branded cars, trucks and SUVs. The aim, however, is to leverage the vast amounts of data captured through its OnStar connected car service, which today has more than 16 million members in the United States.

GM's pitch is that this data can be an asset to drivers and help them cash in on lower insurance rates based on safe driving habits.

"Our goal is really to create greater transparency and greater control for our customers in influencing what they pay for insurance and their total cost of ownership on the vehicles," Russell Page, GM's head of business intelligence said in a recent interview.

The data play is substantial. The company has logged more than 121 million GB of data usage across the Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC brands since the launch of 4G LTE in 2014.


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Thursday November 19, @05:35PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the flipping-back-and-forth dept.

Faster magnetic switch with lower energy consumption developed:

A recent collaborative study between the UAB, Georgetown University, HZDR Dresden, CNM's Madrid and Barcelona, University of Grenoble, and ICN2, and published in the journal Nature Communications has shown that it is possible to switch magnetism ON and OFF in metals containing nitrogen (that is, to generate or remove all magnetic features of this material) with voltage. One simple analogy would be that we are able to increase or completely remove the strength with which a magnet attracts to, for example, the door of a fridge, simply by connecting it to a battery and applying a certain voltage polarity. In this project, cobalt-nitride is shown to be non-magnetic on its own, but when nitrogen is removed with voltage, it forms a cobalt-rich structure which is magnetic (and vice versa). This process is shown to be repeatable and durable, suggesting that such a system is a promising means to write and store data in a cyclable manner. Interestingly, it is also shown to require less energy and it is faster than systems using alternative non-magnetic atoms, such as oxygen, elevating the possible energy savings.

Journal Reference:
Julius de Rojas, Alberto Quintana, Aitor Lopeandía, et al. Voltage-driven motion of nitrogen ions: a new paradigm for magneto-ionics [open], Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-19758-x)


Original Submission