2021-07-22 12:14:55 ..
2021-10-18 11:21:58 UTC
2021-10-18 12:49:30 UTC --martyb
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Fossil fuelsFossil fuel industry gets subsidies of $11m a minute, IMF finds
The fossil fuel industry benefits from subsidies of $11m every minute, according to analysis by the International Monetary Fund.
The IMF found the production and burning of coal, oil and gas was subsidised by $5.9tn in 2020, with not a single country pricing all its fuels sufficiently to reflect their full supply and environmental costs. Experts said the subsidies were “adding fuel to the fire” of the climate crisis, at a time when rapid reductions in carbon emissions were urgently needed.
Explicit subsidies that cut fuel prices accounted for 8% of the total and tax breaks another 6%. The biggest factors were failing to make polluters pay for the deaths and poor health caused by air pollution (42%) and for the heatwaves and other impacts of global heating (29%).
Setting fossil fuel prices that reflect their true cost would cut global CO2 emissions by over a third, the IMF analysts said. This would be a big step towards meeting the internationally agreed 1.5C target. Keeping this target within reach is a key goal of the UN Cop26 climate summit in November.
Agreeing rules for carbon markets, which enable the proper pricing of pollution, is another Cop26 goal. “Fossil fuel price reform could not be timelier,” the IMF researchers said. The ending of fossil fuel subsidies would also prevent nearly a million deaths a year from dirty air and raise trillions of dollars for governments, they said.
“There would be enormous benefits from reform, so there’s an enormous amount at stake,” said Ian Parry, the lead author of the IMF report. “Some countries are reluctant to raise energy prices because they think it will harm the poor. But holding down fossil fuel prices is a highly inefficient way to help the poor, because most of the benefits accrue to wealthier households. It would be better to target resources towards helping poor and vulnerable people directly.”
[...] The G20 countries emit almost 80% of global greenhouse gases. More than 600 global companies in the We Mean Business coalition, including Unilever, Ikea, Aviva, Siemens and Volvo Cars, recently urged G20 leaders to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.
For more than 20 years, D-Wave has been synonymous with quantum annealing. Its early bet on this technology allowed it to become the world's first company to sell quantum computers, but that also somewhat limited the real-world problems its hardware could solve, given that quantum annealing works especially well for optimization problems like protein folding or route planning. But as the company announced at its Qubits conference today, a superconducting gate-model quantum computer — of the kind IBM and others currently offer — is now also on its roadmap.
D-Wave believes the combination of annealing, gate-model quantum computing and classic machines is what its businesses' users will need to get the most value from this technology. "Like we did when we initially chose to pursue annealing, we're looking ahead," the company notes in today's announcement. "We're anticipating what our customers need to drive practical business value, and we know error-corrected gate-model quantum systems with practical application value will be required for another important part of the quantum application market: simulating quantum systems. This is an application that's particularly useful in fields like materials science and pharmaceutical research."
It sounds like a scene from a spy thriller. An attacker gets through the IT defenses of a nuclear power plant and feeds it fake, realistic data, tricking its computer systems and personnel into thinking operations are normal. The attacker then disrupts the function of key plant machinery, causing it to misperform or break down. By the time system operators realize they've been duped, it's too late, with catastrophic results.
The scenario isn't fictional; it happened in 2010, when the Stuxnet virus was used to damage nuclear centrifuges in Iran. And as ransomware and other cyberattacks around the world increase, system operators worry more about these sophisticated "false data injection" strikes. In the wrong hands, the computer models and data analytics – based on artificial intelligence – that ensure smooth operation of today's electric grids, manufacturing facilities, and power plants could be turned against themselves.
Purdue University's Hany Abdel-Khalik has come up with a powerful response: to make the computer models that run these cyberphysical systems both self-aware and self-healing. Using the background noise within these systems' data streams, Abdel-Khalik and his students embed invisible, ever-changing, one-time-use signals that turn passive components into active watchers. Even if an attacker is armed with a perfect duplicate of a system's model, any attempt to introduce falsified data will be immediately detected and rejected by the system itself, requiring no human response.
[Source]: Purdue University
President Biden on Friday signed into law a bill that provides financial support to U.S. government officials who have fallen victim to "Havana syndrome," mysterious health symptoms that have affected U.S. personnel in various parts of the world.
"We are bringing to bear the full resources of the U.S. Government to make available first-class medical care to those affected and to get to the bottom of these incidents, including to determine the cause and who is responsible," Biden said in a written statement Friday. "Protecting Americans and all those who serve our country is our first duty, and we will do everything we can to care for our personnel and their families."
Frank Figliuzzi, a former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, called for greater coordination within the U.S. government to combat the growing number of mysterious soundwave attacks against Americans dubbed as "Havana Syndrome."
"I still don't see the kind of coordinated, across agency, government-wide approach to this where there's a central medical review that's done, no matter which agency you're from, if you've been impacted, and look, these attacks have stepped-up in their brazenness," Figliuzzi said.
Figliuzzi, an NBC News national security analyst, gave examples of the increasingly flagrant attacks against high-ranking U.S. officials. One attack occurred during a trip to India in September with CIA Director William Burns. Another potential attack delayed Vice President Kamala Harris' trip to Vietnam in August.
The U.S. government's investigation into the mysterious illnesses impacting American personnel overseas and at home is turning up new evidence that the symptoms are the result of directed-energy attacks, according to five lawmakers and officials briefed on the matter.
In response to a report by the news magazine Der Spiegel, Berlin police said they had since August been investigating an "alleged sonic weapon attack on employees of the U.S. Embassy," but declined to provide further information.
Also at NYT.
Wccftech reported a few days ago about known issues appearing after users have installed Microsoft's newest Windows 11 operating system—Oracle VirtualBox software and Cốc Cốc browser compatibility issues, as well as Intel networking issues. Today, AMD reported issues that their Windows 11 compatible AMD processors were having with performance while running certain applications after the new OS installation.
AMD urges users to stick with Windows 10 as a workaround, hotfix coming
[...] Known changes to performance affected areas such as
- Measured and functional L3 cache latency may increase by ~3X.
- UEFI CPPC2 ("preferred core") may not preferentially schedule threads on a processor's fastest core.
[...] To fix these issues, AMD and Microsoft have rolled out both updates to Windows 11, as well as software updates from AMD that will roll out over this month. Microsoft and AMD plan to update their separate knowledge bases with articles updating users with included version numbers and other information as they become available. AMD does state, that while these problems are happening, to continue to use a current supported version of Windows 10 instead of continuing utilizing Windows 11 until the problems have been actively concluded.
More details at AMD's Knowledge Base.
Intel's Core i7-12700K Alder Lake CPU has been tested in the CPU-z benchmark and allegedly is up to 45% faster than the fastest 8 core CPUs based on Intel's Rocket Lake and AMD's Zen 3 processor lineups.
Intel Core i7-12700K Alder Lake 12 Core Up To 45% Faster Than Core i9-11900K & Ryzen 7 5800X In CPU-z Multi-Threaded Benchmark
The alleged CPU-z benchmark result has been tweeted by TUM_APISAK and shows the Intel Core i7-12700K scoring 800.2 points in the single-core and 9423.2 points in the multi-core benchmark tests. The Core i7-12700K is a 12 core chip but it should be positioned in the same price category as AMD Ryzen 7 5800X and Intel Core i7-11700K. Based on that, the performance improvement is huge for both single-core and multi-core tests.
In the single-core test, the Intel Core i7-12700K is around 17.3% faster than the Core i9-11900K, 24% faster than the Core i7-11700K, and 25% faster than the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X. In Multi-core tests, the Intel Core i7-12700K pushes on top with a 45% lead over the AMD Ryzen 7 5800X and Intel Core i9-11900K. Compared to its predecessor, the multi-core performance is improved by 50%. The CPU only loses to the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X which is a 12 core and 24 thread part and is around 2% faster than the Core i7-12700K.
Reports of birds being trapped in the center of hurricanes date back to at least the 19th century, when crews observed the phenomenon from the bows of ships and saw their vessels become mobile ports for exhausted birds.
"It's been really fun reading some of these older observations from the 1800s about taking a ship through a hurricane eye and watching birds landing on it," said Van Den Broeke, associate professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences. "So we've known for a long time that this happens.
"But it's really only since (the advent of) radar observations that we have gotten any sense of how many of these systems actually do transport birds and insects."
The technology that allowed meteorologists to really begin differentiating weather from organisms -- dual-polarimetric radar, which added a second, vertical dimension to previously one-dimensional observations -- became widely available only in the past 10 years. Which means that much still remains unclear about when, how often and under what conditions a hurricane turns a free bird into a whirlybird.
[...] Though the intensity of a hurricane may hold the greatest sway, Van Den Broeke came across evidence that timing and geography matter, too. The largest bioscatter signatures appeared in hurricanes that occurred between July and October, when many bird species are migrating southward to the tropics, suggesting that native seabirds are not alone in getting swept up. Bioscatter was also larger and denser, on average, in hurricanes that struck the Gulf Coast and Florida, which boast a larger concentration and diversity of birds than other areas struck by the recorded hurricanes.
[...] He's now analyzing inversion data collected by parachuted instruments, called dropsondes, that are released within hurricanes from aircraft flown by the U.S. Air Force and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"I'm comparing the observations of inversion height to the bioscatter signatures," said Van Den Broeke, whose work is supported by the National Science Foundation. "Does it match up? Do birds fly above that? Below it? And can we say something, then, about intensity changes in tropical cyclones, and relate that to how the bioscatter signature behaved?
"It's possible there's some kind of systematic effect there."
If so, bioscatter altitude might eventually become a radar-based proxy for hurricane traits that can currently be measured only via dropsonde.
Matthew S. Van Den Broeke. ZSL Publications [open], Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation (DOI: 10.1002/rse2.225)
These findings, published online Oct. 7 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, reveal that a chemical inhibitor of the enzyme PDE9 stimulates cells to burn more fat. This occurred in male mice and in female mice whose sex hormones were reduced by removing their ovaries, thus mimicking menopause. Postmenopausal women are well known to be at increased risk for obesity around their waist as well as at risk for cardiovascular and metabolic disease.
Inhibiting PDE9 did not cause these changes in female mice that had their ovaries, so female sex hormone status was important in the study.
“Currently, there isn’t a pill that has been proven effective for treating severe obesity, yet such obesity is a global health problem that increases the risk of many other diseases,” says senior investigator David Kass, M.D., Abraham and Virginia Weiss Professor of Cardiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “What makes our findings exciting is that we found an oral medication that activates fat-burning in mice to reduce obesity and fat buildup in organs like the liver and heart that contribute to disease; this is new.”
This study follows work reported by the same laboratory in 2015 that first showed the PDE9 enzyme is present in the heart and contributes to heart disease triggered by high blood pressure. Blocking PDE9 increases the amount of a small molecule known as cyclic GMP, which in turn controls many aspects of cell function throughout the body. PDE9 is the enzyme cousin of another protein called PDE5, which also controls cyclic GMP and is blocked by drugs such as Viagra. Inhibitors of PDE9 are experimental, so there is no drug name yet.
Based on these results, the investigators suspected PDE9 inhibition might improve cardiometabolic syndrome (CMS), a constellation of common conditions including high blood pressure; high blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides; and excess body fat, particularly around the waist. CMS is considered a pandemic by medical experts and a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancers and COVID-19.
Sumita Mishra, Nandhini Sadagopan, Brittany Dunkerly-Eyring, et al. Inhibition of phosphodiesterase type 9 reduces obesity and cardiometabolic syndrome in mice [open], The Journal of Clinical Investigation (DOI: 10.1172/JCI148798)
The European Commission (EC) this week extended its probe of Nvidia's proposed acquisition of Arm until at least October 27 and said that Nvidia offered the EU certain concessions to[sic] in a bid to persuade the bloc's antimonopoly regulators to approve the deal. Experts say that the EU regulatory review will take considerably longer.
In a bid to make regulators approve the deal to acquire Arm, Nvidia is eager to offer various incentives to respective countries or blocs. In the U.K., the company proposed to invest 'at least' $100 million in the country's most powerful supercomputer. The EC said that it had received concessions proposal from Nvidia as well, but did not elaborate, reports Bloomberg.
Now that the probe is formally extended to October 27, the EU competition authority will request opinion from competitors and clients before determining whether to accept Nvidia's concessions, demand more or initiate a four-month long investigation, reports Reuters. Bloomberg believes that the probe will be extended further, which will give the EC some additional time to seek feedback from interested parties and figure out what it might get from Nvidia.
Also at Notebookcheck.
A while back, Samsung announced that it would be mass producing 3GAE (3nm Gate-All-Around Early) and 3GAP (3nm Gate-All-Around Plus) nodes, resulting in incredible performance and power-efficiency gains. Unfortunately, not everything groundbreaking will have a positive start, and while the Korean giant aims to commence its mass production plans, those will happen in the first half of 2022.
[...] Instead of pushing forward just to get ahead or match TSMC’s progress, we believe that Samsung has made the right call in delaying its 3nm technology. This will allow the Korean manufacturer to establish a firm base, get over the experimental process earlier, and churn out a higher number of wafers at a faster pace to various clients. Though Samsung claims that its 3nm technology will offer a 35 percent performance jump and 50 percent power savings compared to its 7nm LPP nodes, it is not confirmed how it will fare against TSMC’s own 3nm offerings.
[...] However, Samsung continues to exude that ‘never give up’ attitude as we previously reported that the Korean giant is about to finalize its $17 billion chip plant in Texas. Perhaps that location might also serve various clientele for 3nm orders. It looks like we will find out next year.
"In addition to developing polymers for emerging applications, scientists are facing an urgent challenge: Plastic pollution," said Zhigang Suo, the Allen E. and Marilyn M. Puckett Professor of Mechanics and Materials, the senior author of the study. "The development of biodegradable polymers has once again brought us back to fundamental questions—why are some polymers tough, but others brittle? How do we make polymers resist tearing under repeated stretching?"
Polymer chains are made by linking together monomer building blocks. To make a material elastic, the polymer chains are crosslinked by covalent bonds. The more crosslinks, the shorter the polymer chains and the stiffer the material.
"As your polymer chains become shorter, the energy you can store in the material becomes less and the material becomes brittle," said Junsoo Kim, a graduate student at SEAS and co-first author of the paper. "If you have only a few crosslinks, the chains are longer, and the material is tough but it's too squishy to be useful."
To develop a polymer that is both stiff and tough, the researchers looked to physical, rather than chemical bonds to link the polymer chains. These physical bonds, called entanglements, have been known in the field for almost as long as polymer science has existed, but they've been thought to only impact stiffness, not toughness.
But the SEAS research team found that with enough entanglements, a polymer could become tough without compromising stiffness. To create highly entangled polymers, the researchers used a concentrated monomer precursor solution with 10 times less water than other polymer recipes.
"By crowding all the monomers into this solution with less water and then polymerizing it, we forced them to be entangled, like tangled strings of yarn," said Guogao Zhang, a postdoctoral fellow at SEAS and co-first author the paper. "Just like with knitted fabrics, the polymers maintain their connection with one another by being physically intertwined."
With hundreds of these entanglements, just a handful of chemical crosslinks are required to keep the polymer stable.
"As elastomers, these polymers have high toughness, strength, and fatigue resistance," said Meixuanzi Shi, a visiting scholar at SEAS and co-author of the paper. "When the polymers are submerged in water to become hydrogels, they have low friction, and high wear resistance."
Junsoo Ki, Guogao Zhang, Meixuanzi Shi, Zhigang Suo. Fracture, fatigue, and friction of polymers in which entanglements greatly outnumber crosslinks Science (2021). DOI: 10.1126/science.abg6320)
Netflix is to edit scenes of its hit series "Squid Game," after large numbers of viewers began dialing a phone number that appears in the production — much to the despair of those on the other end of the line.
The dystopian series sees hundreds of people who are experiencing the misery of financial ruin, invited to an undisclosed location where they play childhood games in a bid to win a billion-dollar-prize. The rules are clear: if they lose, they die.
When protagonist Ki-hun flashes his games invitation card, an 8-digit number is seen. That number, however, just so happens to belong to a South Korean woman who says she has been bombarded with calls and messages from strangers ever since the show first premiered.
"I've been unceasingly getting calls and texts 24/7 to the point where my daily life has become difficult," said Kim Gil-young, a dessert shop owner who has used the number for 10 years.
She explained that the flood of calls during the day and night was constantly depleting her cellphone battery.
[...] Netflix said on Wednesday: "Together with the production company, we are working to resolve this matter, including editing scenes with phone numbers where necessary."
Others who share similar phone numbers have also been experiencing the same woes as the woman from Seongju County in South Korea's North Gyeongsang Province.
All activity generates heat, because energy escapes from everything we do. But too much can wear out batteries and electronic components—like parts in an aging laptop that runs too hot to actually sit on your lap. If you can't get rid of heat, you've got a problem.
Scientists at the University of Chicago have invented a new way to funnel heat around at the microscopic level: a thermal insulator made using an innovative technique. They stack ultra-thin layers of crystalline sheets on top of each other, but rotate each layer slightly, creating a material with atoms that are aligned in one direction but not in the other.
"Think of a partly-finished Rubik's cube, with layers all rotated in random directions," said Shi En Kim, a graduate student with the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering who is the first author of the study. "What that means is that within each layer of the crystal, we still have an ordered lattice of atoms, but if you move to the neighboring layer, you have no idea where the next atoms will be relative to the previous layer—the atoms are completely messy along this direction."
The result is a material that is extremely good at both containing heat and moving it, albeit in different directions—an unusual ability at the microscale, and one that could have very useful applications in electronics and other technology.
"The combination of excellent heat conductivity in one direction and excellent insulation in the other direction does not exist at all in nature," said study lead author Jiwoong Park, professor of chemistry and molecular engineering at the University of Chicago. "We hope this could open up an entirely new direction for making novel materials."
Kim, Shi En, Mujid, Fauzia, Rai, Akash, et al. Extremely anisotropic van der Waals thermal conductors [open], Nature (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03867-8)
FAA figures released Tuesday show more disruptions on commercial flights in the past week than any week in the past two and a half months.
The FAA says there were 128 new incidents reported by flight crews, bringing this year's total to 4,626 incidents. The new number is the highest weekly figure since the FAA started releasing weekly data on July 20.
About 72% of issues in the past week were over the federal transportation mask mandate, figures show.
[...] The agency has proposed more than $1 million in fines against unruly airline passengers this year.
One $45,000 fine announced in August was against a passenger accused of throwing his luggage at another passenger and, while lying on the aisle floor, "grabbing a flight attendant by the ankles and putting his head up her skirt."
Another passenger would not wear his face mask, the FAA, said, and "acted as though his hand was a gun and made a 'pew, pew' noise as if he was shooting a fellow passenger."
[...] Pekoske said 110 TSA officers have been assaulted this year.
Among the most egregious incidents: Last December, a Delta Air Lines passenger tried to open the cockpit door mid-flight and struck a flight attendant in the face before being restrained by crew members and a fellow passenger. On an Alaska Airlines flight in March, a Colorado man who refused to wear a face mask swatted at a flight attendant, then stood up and urinated in his seat area. In May, a Southwest Airlines passenger punched out a flight attendant’s teeth after being told to keep her seat belt fastened.
[...] The threat of four- and five-figure fines has not tamped down unruly behavior on planes. “Civil penalties alone are failing to deter criminal activity by airline passengers,” [...]
[...] The airline industry, meanwhile, says this is a job for the Department of Justice. “We believe that the United States Government is well equipped to prosecute unruly and disruptive onboard behavior,” [...]
What, if anything, should be done, or could improve the situation?
Live video broadcasting service Twitch has been hit by a massive hack that exposed 125GB of the company's data. In a 4chan thread posted (and removed) Wednesday, an anonymous user posted a torrent file of the multi-gig data dump. The dump contains the company's source code and details of money earned by Twitch creators.
In a 4chan post seen by Ars today, an anonymous user claimed to leak 125GB of data lifted from 6,000 internal Twitch Git repositories. The forum poster mocked Amazon's acquisition of Twitch, writing, "Jeff Bezos paid $970 million for this, we're giving it away FOR FREE."
The hacker wrote that the purpose of the leak was to cause disruption and promote competition among video streaming platforms. The hacker further said that Twitch's "community is a disgusting, toxic cesspool."
Twitch appears to have been hacked, leaking source code for the company’s streaming service, an unreleased Steam competitor from Amazon Game Studios, and details of creator payouts. An anonymous poster on the 4chan messaging board has released a 125GB torrent, which they claim includes the entirety of Twitch and its commit history.
The poster claims the leak is designed to “foster more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space.” The Verge is able to confirm that the leak is legitimate, and includes code that is as recent as this week. Video Games Chronicle first reported details on the leak earlier today.
Twitch has confirmed it has suffered a data breach, and the company says it’s “working with urgency to understand the extent of this.”
Extreme, climate-fueled rainfall broke records this week in a part of Italy known for its rain and an area in Oman not known for rain at all.
On Monday, a series of storms put on the parking brakes over northwestern Italy, unleashing rainfall rates never before seen in all of Europe after over 29 inches (742 mm) of rain fell in just 12 hours. In Oman, a rare tropical cyclone dumped years' worth of rainfall, bringing deadly floods to the desert landscape that rarely sees much rain in an entire year.
[...] For some context, 36 inches is roughly equivalent to the average rainfall one would expect in Seattle in a year. It would take London an average of 15 months to tally such rainfall. Dozens had to be rescued after reports of mudslides and flooding dotted the landscape, leading a bridge to collapse in the town of Quiliano, according to Milan news outlet Corriere della Sera.
[...] Less than 2 days earlier and a little over 3,000 miles to the southeast, Cyclone Shaheen made landfall in far northern Oman with winds just shy of a Category 1 hurricane.
The storm drenched the normally parched city of Al Khaburah with over 14 inches (300 mm) of rainfall in a matter of hours, according to The Times of Oman.