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posted by requerdanos on Saturday August 21 2021, @09:40PM   Printer-friendly
from the please-let-this-be-it-this-time dept.

Alzheimer's discovery reveals "Achilles' heel" of synapse degeneration:

Scientists believe one of the key culprits behind the cognitive decline seen in Alzheimer's are amyloid beta proteins that clump together and disrupt the brain's synaptic connections, but how they carry out such degeneration has remained unclear. A new study has shone compelling new light on this phenomenon, with the authors demonstrating how these toxic agents take aim at the "Achilles' heel" of synapses, and better yet, how they might just be stopped.

[...] Neurobiologists at the University of California (UC) San Diego focused on a major type of synapse called glutamatergic synapses. During brain development, these synapses are pieced together by a powerful signaling pathway called the planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway, which includes signaling components called Celsr3 and Vangl2. These work in harmony to stabilize and disassemble synapses, respectively, to keep their numbers at a healthy level.

[...] The researchers then turned their attention to another key component of the PCP pathway called Ryk, which functions much like Vangl2 in mediating synapse disassembly. Using special antibodies, the scientists blocked the function of Ryk and found that this too prevented the degeneration of synapses by the amyloid beta proteins. In mouse models of Alzheimer's, both knocking out the gene for Ryk and administering the Ryk-blocking antibody protected the synapses and preserved cognitive function.

"As amyloid beta pathology and synapse loss usually occurs in early stages of Alzheimer's disease, even before cognitive decline can be detected, early intervention, such as restoring the rebalance of the PCP pathway, will likely be beneficial for Alzheimer's patients," says Zou.

The Ryk antibody also proved effective at quelling some of the signs of neuroinflammation seen in Alzheimer's, though the exact mechanisms behind this are unclear. In any case, the scientists believe these results indicate the PCP could prove a valuable target in efforts to protect synapse loss in Alzheimer's disease, and potentially other conditions.

Also at: UC San Diego

Journal Reference:
Bo Feng, Andiara E. Freitas, Lilach Gorodetski, et al. Planar cell polarity signaling components are a direct target of β-amyloid–associated degeneration of glutamatergic synapses [open], Science Advances (DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abh2307)

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday August 21 2021, @04:53PM   Printer-friendly
from the wrong-kind-of-rock dept.

NASA's Perseverance to attempt second Mars soil scoop, hoping rocks don't 'crumble':

NASA's Perseverance rover will drive to a new location in the coming weeks to drill for its first Mars soil sample, scientists say, weeks after the robot's first attempt resulted in an empty sample tube.

[...] Now the rover, a science lab on wheels that landed on Mars in February, will drive to a new location called Citadelle for a second shot at picking up its first rock sample. This time, to make sure a sample is actually collected, engineers will wait for images of the sample tube to come back before it gets processed and stowed inside the rover’s belly.

“We were just super excited that the hardware worked from beginning to end without any faults. And then there was that surprise — ‘No sample? What do you mean no sample?’,” Louise Jandura, the Chief Engineer for Sampling & Caching on NASA’s Perseverance team, says of the first attempt on August 5th. “So quickly, after that sunk in, we started to do the investigation.”

The rock that Perseverance’s sampling drill bit dug into wasn’t as sturdy as scientists thought it’d be. What was supposed to be a fairly solid rock core turned out to be a crumbly powder that slipped out of the rover’s sampling tube. After finding the sample tube was empty, mission staff used the rover’s cameras to analyze remnants of the hole that Perseverance drilled. They figured the mound of dust around the hole and some material at the bottom of the hole were what slipped out.

“The rock simply wasn’t our kind of rock,” Jennifer Trosper, Project Manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, wrote in a blog post on Thursday. “Although we had successfully acquired over 100 cores in a range of different test rocks on Earth, we had not encountered a rock in our test suite that behaved in quite this manner.”

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday August 21 2021, @12:07PM   Printer-friendly

Rain fell at the normally snowy summit of Greenland for the first time on record:

Temperatures at the Greenland summit over the weekend rose above freezing for the third time in less than a decade. The warm air fueled an extreme rain event that dumped 7 billion tons of water on the ice sheet, enough to fill the Reflecting Pool at the National Mall in Washington, DC, nearly 250,000 times.

It was the heaviest rainfall on the ice sheet since record keeping began in 1950, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and the amount of ice mass lost on Sunday was seven times higher than normal for this time of year.

The New York Times adds It Rained at the Summit of Greenland. That's Never Happened Before:

Something extraordinary happened last Saturday at the frigid high point of the Greenland ice sheet, two miles in the sky and more than 500 miles above the Arctic Circle: It rained for the first time.

The rain at a research station — not just a few drops or a drizzle but a stream for several hours, as temperatures rose slightly above freezing — is yet another troubling sign of a changing Arctic, which is warming faster than any other region on the planet.

"It's incredible, because it does write a new chapter in the book of Greenland," said Marco Tedesco, a researcher at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. "This is really new."

At the station, which is called Summit and is occupied year-round under the auspices of the National Science Foundation, there is no record of rain since observations began in the 1980s. And computer simulations show no evidence going back even further, said Thomas Mote, a climate scientist at the University of Georgia.

Above-freezing conditions at Summit are nearly as rare. Before this century, ice cores showed they had occurred only six times in the past 2,000 years, Martin Stendel, a senior researcher at the Danish Meteorological Institute, wrote in an email message.

But above-freezing temperatures have now occurred at Summit in 2012, 2019 and this year — three times in fewer than 10 years.

The Greenland ice sheet, which is up to two miles thick and covers about 650,000 square miles, has been losing more ice and contributing more to sea-level rise in recent decades as the Earth has warmed from human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.

The surface of the ice sheet gains mass every year, because accumulation of snowfall is greater than surface melting. But overall, the sheet loses more ice through melting where it meets the ocean, and through the breaking-off of icebergs. On average over the past two decades, Greenland has lost more than 300 billion tons of ice each year.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday August 21 2021, @07:22AM   Printer-friendly

Chip shortage: Toyota to cut global production by 40%:

The world's biggest carmaker had planned to make almost 900,000 cars next month, but has now reduced that to 540,000 vehicles.

Volkswagen, the world's second-biggest car producer, has warned it may also be forced to cut output further.

The Covid pandemic boosted demand for appliances that use chips, such as phones, TVs and games consoles.

On Thursday, German firm Volkswagen, which cut output earlier in the year, told Reuters: "We currently expect supply of chips in the third quarter to be very volatile and tight.

"We can't rule out further changes to production."

Toyota's other rivals, including General Motors, Ford, Nissan, Daimler, BMW and Renault, have already scaled back production in the face of the global chip shortage.

[...] New cars often include dozens of microchips but Toyota benefited from having built a larger stockpile of chips - also called semiconductors - as part of a revamp to its business continuity plan, developed in the wake of the Fukushima earthquake and tsunami a decade ago.

The decision to cut production now has been precipitated by the resurgence of coronavirus cases across Asia hitting supplies.

[...] The aim for Toyota as a whole was to make up for any lost volume by the end of 2021, he added.

[...] Shares in Toyota fell by 4.4% on Thursday, their biggest daily drop since December 2018.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday August 21 2021, @02:37AM   Printer-friendly

AMD Launches The Infinity Hub As Its Newest Open-Source Portal:

AMD Infinity Hub is [...] focused on high performance computing (HPC) with AMD Instinct accelerators. Infinity Hub is also more about porting existing software to the Radeon Open eCosystem (ROCm) for enjoying Instinct support rather than developing new and original HPC software.

The AMD Infinity Hub in its initial form lays out instructions on how to obtain/use ROCm-enabled versions of AMBER, Chroma, CP2K, GROMACS, NAMD, OpenMM, PyTorch, SPECFEM3D, and TensorFlow.

Some of these upstream open-source projects already have ROCm support available and in those cases the Infinity Hub is just outlining ROCm support caveats and other details to help users. While ROCm can work on select consumer Radeon GPUs too, the Infinity Hub is just focused on the support around their Instinct accelerators.

AMD is striving for the Infinity Hub to be a resource to make it easier to deploy HPC workloads on their GPUs/accelerators, simplify deployments, and stay up to date with new resources.

[...] The Infinity Hub can be viewed on;

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday August 20 2021, @11:47PM   Printer-friendly

Babylonian Tablet Trigonometry:

Contrary to what generations of pupils have learned in high school geometry, the Greek philosopher Pythagoras did not come up with this foundational theorem [(a² + b² = c²)] first. The proof lies in an ancient artifact that dates back to the Old Babylonian (OB) period: 1900 to 1600 B.C.

In 1894, Father Jean-Vincent Scheil excavated a clay tablet at an archaeological expedition at Sippar, southwest of Baghdad. "But its significance was not understood at the time," Daniel Mansfield—lead author of the new research and a mathematician at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia—writes in The Conversation.

The tablet, known as Si.427, is "the only known example of a cadastral document from the OB period, which is a plan used by surveyors to define land boundaries," according to Mansfield. On the front of the artifact is an inscription showing a diagram of a field. The surveyors drew a series of perpendicular lines, using Pythagorean triples to create precise right angles so that the fields' boundaries were as square as possible.

There's evidence of triangles drawn around the periphery of the field documented on the tablet, but if that's not enough proof, consider the back of the clay tablet. On it, cuneiform text describes the opposite side, including details about the sizes of the fields.

[...] Surveyors used Pythagorean triples to measure fields and draw accurate maps, but some numbers that make up Pythagorean triples aren't regular, and don't make sense to try to scale up to fit any field. Plimpton 322 lists a bunch of Pythagorean triples and notes which of their three values is regular, helping ancient Babylonian surveyors to quickly "do the math," so to speak.

Journal Reference:
Mansfield, Daniel F.. Plimpton 322: A Study of Rectangles [open], Foundations of Science (DOI: 10.1007/s10699-021-09806-0)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday August 20 2021, @08:57PM   Printer-friendly
from the how-fast-can-it-run-on-the-Moon-or-Mars? dept.

Elon Musk Reveals Plans to Unleash a Humanoid Tesla Bot

Elon Musk reveals plans to unleash a humanoid Tesla Bot:

Tesla CEO Elon Musk ended a deeply technical AI Day event [(3h3m21s)] with a head-turning announcement: a humanoid robot.

After a dancing human dressed as a robot moved off stage at Thursday's invitation-only event in Palo Alto, California, Musk introduced Tesla Bot. It will be based on Tesla's Autopilot system and is essentially a humanoid form of the car. Musk considers the electric vehicles "fully sentient robots on wheels." So might as well make it a human-like bot!

The bot looks like a human with two arms (and two hands with five fingers) and two legs. It'll stand at 5 feet 8 inches and weigh 125 pounds. It can only run 5 mph, which Musk assured was slow enough for most people to escape if something goes wrong: "If you can run faster than that it’ll be fine."

Most importantly, Musk said it would be friendly ("of course") and operate dangerous, repetitive, and boring tasks as it "navigates a world built for humans."

Musk repeated that the humanoid would have a screen on its head and eight cameras, like on Tesla cars that can drive with assistance from Autopilot. "It's all the same tools we see in the car," he said.

Elon Musk Reveals Tesla Bot, a Humanoid Robot Utilizing Tesla's Vehicle AI

The story continues at c|net:

Elon Musk reveals Tesla Bot, a humanoid robot utilizing Tesla's vehicle AI:

Three slides detailed the robot's proposed specifications and Musk made sure he pointed out you could both outrun the Tesla Bot and "overpower" it. He has, in the past, rallied against the use of robots as weapons and warned of the risks AI might pose -- once calling it the "biggest risk we face as a civilization." I guess if they're your incredibly slow, easy-to-overpower robots, the dangers are reduced.

One particular slide said they would eliminate "dangerous, repititive, boring tasks" and Musk provided an example suggesting the robot could be told to "go to the store and get ... the following groceries."

A prototype would likely be ready next year, he said.

Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

posted by janrinok on Friday August 20 2021, @06:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the not-so-innovative-I-guess dept.

Google Has Been Paying Wireless Carriers Billions To Not Develop Competing App Stores:

To be clear, wireless carrier app stores have always kind of sucked. Verizon's efforts to create its own app store were shut down in 2012, after underwhelming consumers for years. At the time, the narrative was that Verizon just didn't find it worth the trouble in the face of Google domination and innovation. And while that's still largely true (wireless carriers are utterly unfamiliar with competition and therefore historically suck at innovation and adaptation), it turns out there was another reason.

Namely, that Google was paying Verizon and other major wireless companies a big chunk of money to not compete with the Android marketplace. And they were paying smartphone manufacturers to ship devices without competing app stores installed. Both nuggets were buried in a freshly unredacted copy of Epic's antitrust complaint (pdf) against Google, first spotted by Jeremy Owens:

Man, I love when the redactions come off and there are fascinating numbers underneath.

This unredacted graf shows that telcos get up to 25% of Google's app sales to keep them from developing rival app stores on the smartphones they sell and service.

This agreement to start paying wireless carriers 20-25% of app sales was occurring right around the time that Google brass was visibly starting to wimp out on consumer-centric issues like net neutrality. That involved working closely with Verizon to push the FCC toward flimsy, loophole-filled, "compromise" 2010 net neutrality rules that excluded wireless entirely. Verizon proceeded to then successfully sue the FCC to have those repealed anyway, leading to better rules in 2015 that were also dismantled a few years, later, albeit thanks to lobbying, not the courtroom.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Friday August 20 2021, @03:31PM   Printer-friendly
from the could dept.

UCLA-led study could clarify how microbes can exacerbate cognitive decline:

In the experiment, which was conducted with mice, researchers found that gut microbes can exacerbate the effects of cognitive impairment because of how they affect the hippocampus, the region of the brain that is critical for memory and learning. They found that the concentration of one group of bacteria called Bilophila increased dramatically in the gut microbiota of mice that were fed a ketogenic diet — high in fat, and low in carbohydrates — and were intermittently deprived of oxygen, creating a condition called hypoxia.

The scientists also found that a ketogenic diet, hypoxia and treatment with a species of Bilophila called Bilophila wadsworthia impaired the hippocampus, leading to reduced cognitive ability in mice.

The researchers gave several mice a ketogenic diet and others a standard diet. Then, all of the mice received reduced levels of oxygen for five consecutive days and then were given four days to recover. Depriving the animals of some oxygen was a way for the scientists to cause cognitive impairment, in order to mimic the cognitive impairment in humans that can be caused by neurological diseases or aging.

Next, the scientists observed their ability to navigate a maze. When trying to find their way out of a maze, mice on the ketogenic diet made an average of 30% more errors than mice given the standard diet. (The range of difference between the two groups was 25% to 75%.)

The researchers also evaluated whether the different diets alone could cause any change in cognitive behavior in mice who had not been deprived of oxygen. In that experiment, there was no appreciable difference in the mice’s ability to find their way out of the maze based on whether they had a ketogenic diet or a standard diet — indicating that the negative impact on cognitive ability only occurred in combination with oxygen deprivation.

[...] Next, the researchers investigated what would happen if they depleted the mice’s microbiota before administering a ketogenic diet and exposing them to hypoxia. Interestingly, mice that had their microbiota depleted first made significantly fewer errors in the maze than mice that were exposed to hypoxia and given a ketogenic diet but had not had changes to their microbiota first.

Journal Reference:
Christine A. Olson. Alterations in the gut microbiota contribute to cognitive impairment induced by the ketogenic diet and hypoxia, Cell Host & Microbe (DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2021.07.004)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday August 20 2021, @12:46PM   Printer-friendly
from the tigers-never-change-their-stripes dept.

Windows 11 Is Making It Absurdly Difficult to Change Browsers
In a page ripped right out of the '90s, Microsoft reminds us that it's still engaging in the browser wars.

[....] there have been plenty of chances to dive into the OS to see what's next from Microsoft. And there's evidence of the same old story. Namely, Microsoft wants to make it hard for you to use a browser that isn't Edge.

The Verge reports on how convoluted the new process is to change the default browser in Windows 11. Like in Windows 10, you'll get a prompt when you click on a web link asking you to choose an app. But unless you specifically tell the system that you'd like to switch browsers, it will assume you're okay with Microsoft Edge as the default.

[....] It gets worse: if you don't remember on the initial pop-up, you'll have to dig into the settings to change the default app for every specific file type. This can get tedious! It means you'll have to tell Windows which app should open an HTM, HTML, PDF, SVG, and XHTML file—and that's only a sampling of the file types that a browser can open. Additional screenshots show Windows 11 still nags the user to try Microsoft Edge when switching browsers.

From the same people who brought us IE 6, the bane of web developers everywhere, now comes Edge — the browser with the swirl toilet flushing icon.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday August 20 2021, @10:00AM   Printer-friendly

Milestone #1:
First off, please join me in congratulating janrinok in posting his 5,400th story! I can attest that it represents a tremendous commitment of time and effort, all freely given to the community. Thanks JR!

Milestone #2:
Secondly, we are a few days away from our team reaching 2.8 billion points towards Folding at Home. Official Team Stats and a more informative summary. As I write this, our team is currently ranked #392 in the world. Please be aware we are up against teams such as AWS, Google, Apple, Facebook, SAP, IBM, Dell, Oracle... you get the idea. Our top contributor is Runaway1956 who has been contributing about 2.5 million points per day. Barring any surprises, he is on track to reach 1 billion points by month's end. Way to go!

Lastly, I need to call the community's attention to some problems with moderations.

For the most part, things have been working out well! Considering the diverse viewpoints — and strong feelings about them — I'd say things are working amazingly well. There are some, however, who are prolific, vocal, strong-willed, and are trying to push their own agenda. They are likely to be unhappy with these changes. Until notified otherwise, feel free to moderate complaints about moderation as "-1 Offtopic" and just move on.

Effective Immediately:
For the benefit of the community who have been acting in good faith all along, staff will commence issuing moderation bans on accounts that have been acting unfairly. Each ban will have been discussed among staff and no unilateral action will be taken. If you receive a ban, it's because a majority of staff are in agreement that unfair moderations have been performed and needed to be dealt with.

Staff have been developing tools and procedures for tracking moderation abuse for some time, and we are now reaching the stage where we can take action against offenders. It is necessary for these tools to provide a high degree of confidence to avoid false positives. We now have that confidence.

What's the Point?
Moderation is intended for the community to decrease the visibility of "poor" comments and to improve the visibility of "good" comments. Note the word "comments". The user who posted the comment should have no bearing on your moderation. (If it does, you are doing it wrong.) Express your disagreement either by presenting a counter argument in a new comment, or by using a "-1 Disagree" mod — that's what it's there for. As one staff member noted: "If you find almost everything another user posts objectionable, then moderation is not the solution — simply foe him, and set your preferences for foes to a suitably-low negative value."

We have tried to provide the tools for the community to moderate itself. This has worked out well for the most part! Here's a big thank you to those who quietly go along and try to make SoylentNews a better place each day.

Sockpuppet Accounts:
These are hereby forbidden. If staff detects collusion in moderation, that is grounds for an immediate ban on moderation. Acct #1 and acct #2 both moderating acct #3 in lockstep? Ban. Acct #1 upmoding acct #2 and acct #2 upmodding acct #1 to boost karma? Ban.

The guidelines had previously stated that more than 4 downmods per day were forbidden, excess would be reversed. We have seen cases where user "A" has downmodded user "B" exactly 4 times per day for many days in a row. This demonstrates intentional action of one user against another user. Because such actions do have negative consequences on the visibility of user "B"'s posts and journals, they are effectively an act of censorship, and are strongly frowned upon; therefore staff reserves the right to take action up to an including a mod ban, at our sole discretion.

There are more instances; this list is NOT intended to be exhaustive.

Think you can get away with something? Just because you have not seen us act so far, does not mean we have not noticed. If you persist, you're doing so at your own risk. Please do not come crying to us or the community when your schemes backfire — you have been warned. As mentioned earlier, complaints about moderation and moderation bans are off-topic and are to be moderated that way.

Staff has access to daily reports and ad-hoc queries. We have been holding regular discussions about moderation abuse. We will continue to do so. Cases of perceived abuse are discussed and no action is taken unless there is unassailable evidence about the facts and substantial agreement about the consequences (thus avoiding unilateral action).

For future reference, here are the moderator guidelines at the time of this being written. They are undergoing review right now and will be revised to include the preceding.

This document attempts to explain the moderation system that lies underneath this implementation of Slashcode's vast comment section. It was originally written for Slashcode years ago, so the specifics of this moderation system are outlined here. Keep in mind that as this project grows, some aspects can change to better serve the community and improve the overall experience.


  1. Purpose
  2. Goals
  3. Who
  4. How
  5. Mod Bombs
  6. Sock Bombs
  7. Spam Mod
  8. Moderation Issues
  9. FAQ


As you might have noticed, a site like this can get a lot of comments. Some are downright terrible; others are truly gems, and hundreds of comments can be hard to sift through.

The moderation system is designed to sort the gems and the crap from the steady stream of information that flows through the pipe. And wherever possible, it tries to make the readers of the site take on the responsibility.

The goal is that each reader will be able to read the the threshold they prefer. Select "-1" and you'll see trolls and possible wrongly-modded comments, try "5" and you'll see only the top-rated comments.


  1. Promote Quality, Discourage Crap.
  2. Make SoylentNews as readable as possible for as many people as possible.
  3. Do not require a huge amount of time from any single moderator.
  4. Do not allow any single moderator a 'reign of terror' -- no 'mod bombs'.


We've set up a few simple rules for determining who is eligible to moderate.

  1. Logged In User If the system can't keep track, it won't work, so you gotta log in. Sorry if you're paranoid, but this system demands a certain level of accountability.
  2. Positive Contributors Slashcode tracks your "Karma" (see the FAQ). If you have non-negative Karma, this means you have posted more good comments than bad, and are eligible to moderate. This weeds out spam accounts.
  3. No Sockpuppet Accounts Accounts newer than 1 month are not eligible to moderate. This should keep sockpuppet accounts from immediately being a problem.

So the end result is a pool of eligible users that represent (hopefully) average, positive SoylentNews contributors.


Each day every eligible moderator is given 5 10 mod points to play with. Each comment they moderate deducts a point. When they run out of points, they are done moderating until 00:10 UTC when mod points are regenerated.

Moderation takes place by clicking the drop down list that appears next to comments, and selecting one of the adjectives like 'Flamebait' or 'Informative'. In general, bad words will reduce a comment's score by a single point (a 'down mod'), good words increase a comment's score by a single point (an 'up mod'). All comments are scored on an absolute scale from -1 to 5. Logged in users start at 1 (although this can vary from -1 to 2 based on their overall contribution to discussions) and anonymous users start at 0.

Moderators can participate in the same discussion as both a moderator and a poster. You are only prevented from modding your own posts.

Concentrate more on promoting than on demoting. The real goal here is to find the juicy good stuff and let others read it. Do not promote personal agendas. Do not let your opinions factor in. Try to be impartial about this. Simply disagreeing with a comment is not a valid reason to 'down mod' it. Likewise, agreeing with a comment is not a valid reason to 'up mod' it. The goal here is to share ideas. To sift through the haystack and find golden, shiny needles. And to keep the children who like to spam in check.

Mod Bombs

A 'mod bomb' is simply when a user, 'A', uses all 5 or more of their moderation points to 'down mod' comments posted by a single user, 'B'. Would you want someone who has a vendetta to use all a bunch of their mod points on your comments? It works both ways -- don't use all a bunch of your mod points on a single user. When this is detected, the account performing the moderation ('A') is given a 30-day 'time out' on moderating all moderations making up the mod bomb are reversed and the mod points are not returned. We would like to make the code automatically prevent a mod bomb from occurring, but this is not yet in place. The focus is on the quality of the comments on the site, not on who posts them. Remember that there are other users on the site who have mod points. If you have used all that are permitted, do not fret as someone else will likely come along later.

Sock Bombs

Much like a 'mod bomb', a 'sock bomb' is when a user, 'A', use 4 or more of their moderation points to 'up mod' comments posted by a single user, 'B'. (The name is taken from the idea of a "sockpuppet" account.) Again, our intention is to update the code to automatically prevent this from happening. We realize that this can happen unintentionally when, say, a subject-matter expert provides supporting information in comments to a story. Excess 'up mods' beyond 4 per day are subject to being reversed. A repeated pattern of user 'A' upmodding user 'B' may be subject to further action. In short, please do not try to 'game' the system.

Spam Mod

The spam moderation (spam mod) is to be used only on comments that genuinely qualify as spam. Spam is unsolicited advertisement, undesired and offtopic filth, or possibly illegal in general. Spam can come in many forms, but it differs from a troll comment in that it will have absolutely no substance, is completely undesired, is detrimental to the site, or worse.

The spam mod is special in that is removes 10 Karma points from the user that posted the comment. This mod is meant to combat spam and not to be used to punish commenters (when in doubt, don't use this mod). Our goal is to put a spammer in Karma Hell and for them to not be able to get out of it easily. As we do not want this used against non-spamers, we monitor all spam mods to make sure moderators are not abusing the spam mod. If we find a moderator that unfairly applied the spam mod, we remove the mod giving the poster back the Karma points, and the modder is banned from modding for one month. Further bans to the same modder add increasing amounts of ban time. If you inadvertently applied a spam mod, mail the admin and we will remove the spam mod without banning you. Even though we have updated the interface to physically separate the spam mod from the other mods, unintentional modding may still be an unfortunate occurrence.


If you are unsure of whether a comment is spam or not, don't use the spam mod. Here are some examples of spam:

  • Proper spam. Anything whose primary purpose is advertisement (unless somehow relevant to the discussion/article).
  • HOSTS/GNAA/etc... type posts. Recurring, useless annoyances we're all familiar with.
  • Posts so offtopic and lacking value to even be a troll that they can't be called anything else. See here, here or here for example.
  • Repeating the same thing over and over. This includes blockquoting entire comments without adding anything substantial to them.

Moderation Issues

If you see moderation abuse (mod bombing or spam mod), please mail the admin any comments (the cid link) showing the abuse. Alternatively, mention it on the main IRC channel. We will investigate and make amends if necessary. This also applies for users who display an atypical pattern of up or down mods against another user. Moderation abuse may result in the loss of ability to moderate for a time, or in some cases, permanently. (If you find almost everything another user posts objectionable, then moderation is not the solution - simply foe them, and set your preferences for foes to a suitably low negative value.

FAQ I just got moderator access, what do I do?

The fact that you are reading this document proves that you are already on the right track.

Why can't I moderate any more?

  • Do you still have any moderator points left?
  • You can't moderate your own posts.

What is a Good Comment? A Bad Comment?

  • Good Comments are insightful. You read them and are better off having read them. They add new information to a discussion. They are clear, hopefully well written, or maybe amusing. These are the gems we're looking for, and they deserve to be promoted. (Score: 2-5)
  • Average Comments might be slightly offtopic, but still might be worth reading. They might be redundant. They might be a 'Me Too' comment. They might say something painfully obvious. They don't detract from the discussion, but they don't necessarily significantly add to it. They are the comments that require the most attention from the moderators, and they also represent the bulk of the comments. (Score: 0-1)
  • Bad Comments are flamebait, incorrect, or have nothing to do with the article. Other examples: Ad Hominem, ridicule for others with different opinion (without backing it up with anything more tangible than strong words), repeats of something said 15 times already (read previous comments before you post), use of unnecessary foul language, some are hard to read or just don't make any sense. Basically they detract from the article they are attached to. (Score: -1)

What is Karma?

Karma is the sum of all moderation activity done to a user. Karma is used to determine eligibility for moderator status and can affect your comments starting score. Every new user starts with a Karma of 0, and as long as your Karma isn't negative you are eligible to become a moderator.

Why Don't I get my points back after I post in a discussion I moderated?

We've decided to allow a moderator to moderate in a discussion, and then comment afterward without undoing their moderation.

How can I improve my Karma?

10 tips for improving your Karma:

Post intelligently:
Interesting, insightful, thought provoking comments are rated higher on a fairly consistent basis.
Post calmly:
Nobody likes a flame war. In fact, more times than not the flamer gets burned much more than their target. "Flamebait" is hit quickly and consistently with "-1" by moderators. As the bumper sticker says... "Don't be a dick."
If you can't be deep, be funny:
If you don't have something to contribute to the discussion, some humor is welcome. Humor is lacking in our lives and will continue to be promoted. Remember though, what rips your sides out may be completely inane to somebody else.
Post early:
If an article has over a certain number of posts on it already, yours is less likely to be moderated. This is less likely both statistically (there are more to choose from) and due to positioning (as a moderator I have to actually find your post way at the end of a long list.)
Post often:
If you only post once a month you can expect your karma to remain low. Also, lively discussion in an open forum is what makes SoylentNews really "Rock the Casbah."
Stay on topic:
Off topic posts are slapped quickly and consistently with "-1" by moderators.
Be original:
Avoid being redundant and just repeating what has already been said. (Did I really just say that?) Yes, being moderated as "redundant" is worth "-1" to your post and your karma. Especially to be avoided are the "what he said" and "me too" posts.
Read it before you post:
Does it say what you really want it to say? Check your own spelling and grammar. Occasionally, a perfectly beneficial post is passed over by moderators because it is completely irrelevant to content feature. This is also a good approach to checking yourself for what you're really saying. Can't tell you the number of times I've stopped myself from saying the opposite of what I meant by checking my own s&g.
Log in as a registered user:
I know, this sounds obvious but, "Anonymous Coward" does not have a karma rating. You can't reap the perceived benefits of your own accidental brilliance if you post anonymously. Have pride in your work and take credit for it.
Read SoylentNews regularly:
You can't possibly contribute to the discussion if you're not in the room. Come to the party and play.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday August 20 2021, @08:14AM   Printer-friendly

'Green steel': Swedish company ships first batch made without using coal:

The world's first customer delivery of "green steel" produced without using coal is taking place in Sweden, according to its manufacturer.

The Swedish venture Hybrit said it was delivering the steel to truck-maker Volvo AB as a trial run before full commercial production in 2026. Volvo has said it will start production in 2021 of prototype vehicles and components from the green steel.

Steel production using coal accounts for around 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Hybrit started test operations at its pilot plant for green free steel in Lulea, northern Sweden, a year ago. It aims to replace coking coal, traditionally needed for ore-based steel making, with renewable electricity and hydrogen. Hydrogen is a key part of the EU's plan to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday August 20 2021, @05:29AM   Printer-friendly
from the I-spy-with-my-little-eye... dept.

Japan developing AI, satellite system to track foreign ships in its waters:

Japan is developing a maritime surveillance system that will use artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced satellite technologies to identify and track foreign ships operating suspiciously close to its waters or that intrude into its territory.

The government is earmarking an initial 450 million yen (US$4.1 million) for the project under the third supplementary budget for fiscal 2020, with technology companies being invited to submit proposals for the system.

An analyst said Tokyo is finding it difficult to keep track of the vessels illegally entering its vast ocean territories.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday August 20 2021, @02:44AM   Printer-friendly

No preloading. No promises what's next.

Samsung says it will stop loading its $1,000 smartphones with ads:

Samsung says it will cut down on the ads it shows on its smartphones. The announcement was first reported by Korean news agency Yonhap and was later confirmed by Samsung in a statement to The Verge. The official line from the industry giant is "Samsung has made a decision to cease the advertisement on proprietary apps, including Samsung Weather, Samsung Pay, and Samsung Theme." The company added, "The update will be ready by later this year."

Samsung ships Android on all its smartphones, but it changes the experience with a "One UI" skin and includes several Samsung-developed packed-in apps. Many of these apps—like Bixby, Samsung Health, and Weather—contain big banner ads, sometimes right at the top of the app, where you would normally expect to find an app logo or navigation information. The worst offenders are notification ads—a Samsung app will spawn a notification to entice you to buy a new gadget or install a new app.

[...] A "later this year" launch date would mean that the first new ad-free Samsung phone will be the Galaxy S22.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday August 20 2021, @12:03AM   Printer-friendly

S. Korea develops technique to recycle discarded solar panels into high-performance solar cells:

Researchers have developed a non-destructive technique to recycle discarded solar panels to create high-performance solar cells. The technique will become crucial in a few decades when solar panels that are currently being used are discarded after their operational life of about 20 years.

A solar panel is a photovoltaic module made of materials such as glass, aluminum, silicon and copper. It uses sunlight as a source of energy to generate direct current electricity. A solar cell is a black mirror-like electrical device that is the key component of a solar panel. Techniques have been researched to maximize the efficiency of recycling solar panels.

The state-run Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) said in a statement on August 19 that a technique developed by its research team led by Lee Jin-seok enables the recycling of solar panels. The institute said the new technique can recycle both undamaged and damaged panels to achieve up to 100 percent retrieval rate of glass components. About 80 percent of other materials can be retrieved and recycled into high-performance solar cells.

Original Submission