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posted by hubie on Wednesday August 03, @11:53PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the we-are-(again)-very-sorry-and-promise-to-do-better dept.

Facebook may have violated patient privacy laws:

Meta may have scooped up sensitive medical information without consent. The Verge reports that two proposed class-action lawsuits accuse the company and hospitals of violating HIPAA, the California Invasion of Privacy Act and other laws by collecting patient data without consent. Meta's Pixel analytic tracking tool allegedly sent health statuses, appointment details and other data to Facebook when it was present on patient portals.

In one lawsuit from last month, a patient said Pixel gathered data from the UC San Francisco and Dignity Health portals that was used to deliver ads related to heart and knee issues. The second lawsuit, from June, is broader and claims at least 664 providers shared medical info with Facebook through Pixel.

[...] They also follow a string of privacy-related US legal action against the social media giant. Meta is facing a DC Attorney General suit over Cambridge Analytica's collection of more than 70 million Americans' personal data. The company is also grappling with lawsuits over its deactivated facial recognition system, and only this year settled a 2012 class-action over the use of tracking cookies. These latest courtroom battles suggest that concerns about Meta's data gathering practices are far from over, even as the company makes its own efforts to crack down on misuse.

Previously: Facebook is Receiving Sensitive Medical Information From Hospital Websites – the Markup

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Wednesday August 03, @09:11PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the you're-a-sneaky-one dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

Albert Einstein first published his book explaining the theory of general relativity—which postulated black holes—in 1922. One hundred years later, astronomers captured actual images of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. In a recent paper, a team of astronomers describes another exciting new discovery: the first "dormant" black hole observed outside of the galaxy.

VFTS 243 is a binary system, meaning it is composed of two objects that orbit a common center of mass. The first object is a very hot, blue star with 25 times the mass of the Sun, and the second a black hole nine times more massive than the Sun. VFTS 243 is located in the Tarantula Nebula within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way located about 163,000 light-years from Earth.

The black hole in VFTS 243 is considered dormant because it is not emitting any detectable radiation. This is in stark contrast to other binary systems in which strong X-rays are detected from the black hole.

[...] The fact that the black hole in VFTS 243 system is in a circular orbit with the star is strong evidence that there was no supernova explosion, which otherwise might have kicked the black hole out of the system—or at the very least disrupted the orbit. Instead, it appears that the progenitor star collapsed directly to form the black hole sans explosion.

[...] To date, astronomers have detected nearly 100 events where binary black holes merge and produced ripples in space-time. But how these binary black hole systems form is still unknown, which is why VFTS 243 and similar yet-to-be-discovered systems are so vital to future research. Perhaps nature has a sense of humor—for black holes are the darkest objects in existence and emit no light, yet they illuminate our fundamental understanding of the universe.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday August 03, @06:28PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the grockles-of-means dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

In an Aug. 1 procurement notice, NASA announced changes in requirements for future solicitations for private astronaut missions, or PAMs, to the station. The changes, the agency said, came from the experience from the first such mission, Axiom Space’s Ax-1 flight in April, “and other recent civilian-crew spaceflight.”

One of the biggest changes, and one still being finalized according to the procurement notice, is a requirement that such missions have “a former flown NASA (U.S.) government astronaut” as a commander. “A former NASA astronaut provides experienced guidance for the private astronauts during pre-flight preparation through mission execution,” the document states, and “provides a link between the resident ISS expedition crew and the private astronauts and reduces risk to ISS operations and PAM/ISS safety.”

The Ax-1 mission was led by a former NASA astronaut, Michael López-Alegría. The company’s second mission, the only other PAM approved to date by NASA, will also be led by a former NASA astronaut, Peggy Whitson.

“It became pretty clear, first of all, that customers really didn’t want to fly with nobody who has done it before,” López-Alegría recalled of planning for the Ax-1 mission during a talk at the ISS Research and Development Conference July 28. “Secondly, NASA was a lot more comfortable having someone who had been there before.”

However, Axiom executives said shortly before the Ax-1 mission that they were looking ahead to missions without a professional astronaut on board. Michael Suffredini, president and chief executive of Axiom, said at an April 1 briefing that the company expected to fly four customers, rather than three customers and one professional astronaut, by its fourth mission.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday August 03, @03:44PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the need-more-embedded-scripts-in-web-pages! dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

More than 750 new job postings for software developers go live every day in the UK, with JavaScript leading the demand for programming language skills among employers.

According to developer recruitment platform CodinGame, a new tech job is advertised every two minutes in the United Kingdom, with over half of tech job postings commanding salaries of at least £50,000 ($60,900) and one in five (20%) promising £70,000 ($85,300) and above.

The UK is enjoying a boom in tech investment, with investors putting £89.5 billion into European tech firms in 2021, a third of which was directed towards UK firms. The majority of these investments were aimed at London firms, which, as a result, accounted for 47.5% of all new tech jobs posted in 2021.

The majority of tech vacancies last year were in software development and engineering roles, which increased by 88.2% between 2020 and 2021.

In an analysis of available coding roles, CodinGame found that JavaScript continued its reign as the most in-demand programming language, with 33% of all job postings requiring proficiency in the language.

JavaScript job postings eclipsed its runner-up language, Java, by 33%. Other popular coding languages include Python, C# and C++.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday August 03, @01:02PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

The Raspberry Pi 4's open-source Vulkan driver for its Broadcom GPUs has now achieved conformance with the Vulkan API 1.2 standard. 

Vulkan is a graphics and compute API that provides high-efficiency, cross-platform access to modern GPUs, and aims to provide graphics developers with new ways to get the best performance out of hardware. Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton described the driver as a 'much requested feature' when work started on the project a couple of years ago.

[...] The new driver will come to future Raspberry Pi OS updates as the Vulkan 1.2 updates have been merged into the upstream V3DV Mesa driver. As with Vulkan 1.0 conformance Raspberry Pi gained over a year ago, Vulkan 1.2 API conformance gives app developers better access to Pi's Broadcom VideoCore 3d GPU. 

The best examples of "real world" applications for Vulkan on Raspberry Pi today are games running on Android/Lineage, Upton said.

Raspberry Pi has partnered with consultancy Igalia to develop Vulkan drivers for Pi 4's GPU.  

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday August 03, @10:19AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the did-anyone-call-while-I-was-eating? dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

There are certain skills that once acquired, such as riding a bike or looking both ways before crossing a street, rarely have to be relearned. Most studies on learning and long-term memory in the wild focus on a handful of animal species. Now, in a paper published in Current Biology, U.S. National Science Foundation–supported researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute share the first report of long-term memory in frog-eating bats (Trachops cirrhosis).

"Frog-eating bats are an excellent emerging model organism for studying cognitive and sensory ecology," says biologist May Dixon, lead author of the paper. "Learning plays a big part in their lives."

The bats' ability to retain information means that when they are hunting frogs, their main prey, they don't have to continuously relearn which frog calls indicate that a frog is good to eat, poisonous or too big to carry.

Dixon and colleagues trained 49 wild bats to respond to cellphone ringtones played through speakers. Bats responding to two of the tones found a baitfish reward on the speaker every time, but when they responded to three other tones, they were not rewarded. They quickly learned to fly to the speaker when ringtones indicated a snack, and not to respond to the other tones. The bats were then microchipped and released back into Panama's Soberania National Park.

Researchers recaptured eight of the bats one to four years later, and when they played the experimental ringtones again, the bats recognized and responded to the two rewarded ringtones even four years later. The experiment included 17 untrained frog-eating bats that did not fly to the sounds.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday August 03, @07:32AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the every-fiber-of-my-being dept.

The human gut evolved to thrive on fermentable fibers, not bacon cheeseburgers:

That huge array of dietary fiber supplements in the drugstore or grocery aisle can be overwhelming to a consumer. They make all sorts of health claims too, not being subject to FDA review and approval. So how do you know which supplement works and would be best for you?

A rigorous examination of the gut microbes of study participants who were fed three different kinds of supplements in different sequences concludes that people who had been eating the least amount of fiber before the study showed the greatest benefit from supplements, regardless of which ones they consumed.

[...] The benefit of dietary fiber isn't just the easier pooping that advertisers tout. Fermentable fiber -- dietary carbohydrates that the human gut cannot process on its own but some bacteria can digest -- is also an essential source of nutrients that your gut microbes need to stay healthy.

[...] When your gut bugs are happily munching on a high-fiber diet, they produce more of the short-chain fatty acids that protect you from diseases of the gut, colorectal cancers and even obesity. And in particular, they produce more of a fatty acid called butyrate, which is fuel for your intestinal cells themselves. Butyrate has been shown to improve the gut's resistance to pathogens, lower inflammation and create happier, healthier cells lining the host's intestines.

[...] "We didn't see a lot of difference between the fiber supplements we tested. Rather, they looked interchangeable," David said during a tour of his sparkling new lab in the MSRB III building, which includes a special "science toilet" for collecting samples and an array of eight "artificial gut" fermenters for growing happy gut microbes outside a body.

[...] "It doesn't need to be a supplement either," Holmes added. "It can just be a fiber-rich food. Folks who were already eating a lot of fiber, which comes from plants like beans, leafy greens, and citrus, already had very healthy microbiomes."

Journal Reference:
Zachary Holmes, Max Villa, Heather Durand, et al., Microbiota Responses to Different Prebiotics Are Conserved Within Individuals and Associated with Habitual Fiber Intake, Microbiome, 2022. DOI: 10.1186/s40168-022-01307-x

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Wednesday August 03, @04:44AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the I-want-one dept.

An unnamed contributor wrote:

NuScale will get the final approval nearly six years after starting the process:

On Friday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced that it would be issuing a certification to a new nuclear reactor design, making it just the seventh that has been approved for use in the US. But in some ways, it's a first: the design, from a company called NuScale, is a small modular reactor that can be constructed at a central facility and then moved to the site where it will be operated.

[...] Once complete, the certification is published in the Federal Register, allowing the design to be used in the US. Friday's announcement says that the NRC is all set to take the publication step.

The NRC will still have to weigh in on the sites where any of these reactors are deployed. Currently, one such site is in the works: a project called the Carbon Free Power Project, which will be situated at Idaho National Lab. That's expected to be operational in 2030 but has been facing some financial uncertainty. Utilities that might use the power produced there have grown hesitant to commit money to the project.

Previous stories:
First Major Modular Nuclear Project Having Difficulty Retaining Backers
US Gives First-Ever OK for Small Commercial Nuclear Reactor
The US Government Just Invested Big in Small-Scale Nuclear Power
Safer Nuclear Reactors on the Horizon

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Wednesday August 03, @01:55AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the I-see-your-true-organs-shining-through dept.

New stamp-sized ultrasound adhesives produce clear images of heart, lungs, and other internal organs:

Ultrasound imaging is a safe and noninvasive window into the body's workings, providing clinicians with live images of a patient's internal organs. To capture these images, trained technicians manipulate ultrasound wands and probes to direct sound waves into the body. These waves reflect back out to produce high-resolution images of a patient's heart, lungs, and other deep organs.

Currently, ultrasound imaging requires bulky and specialized equipment available only in hospitals and doctor's offices. But a new design by MIT engineers might make the technology as wearable and accessible as buying Band-Aids at the pharmacy.

In a paper appearing today in Science, the engineers present the design for a new ultrasound sticker — a stamp-sized device that sticks to skin and can provide continuous ultrasound imaging of internal organs for 48 hours.

[...] If the devices can be made to operate wirelessly — a goal the team is currently working toward — the ultrasound stickers could be made into wearable imaging products that patients could take home from a doctor's office or even buy at a pharmacy.

"We envision a few patches adhered to different locations on the body, and the patches would communicate with your cellphone, where AI algorithms would analyze the images on demand," says the study's senior author, Xuanhe Zhao, professor of mechanical engineering and civil and environmental engineering at MIT. "We believe we've opened a new era of wearable imaging: With a few patches on your body, you could see your internal organs."

[...] "We imagine we could have a box of stickers, each designed to image a different location of the body," Zhao says. "We believe this represents a breakthrough in wearable devices and medical imaging."

Journal Reference:
Chonghe Wang, Xiaoyu Chen, Liu Wang, et al., Bioadhesive ultrasound for long-term continuous imaging of diverse organs, Science, 377, 2022. DOI: 10.1126/science.abo2542

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Tuesday August 02, @11:08PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the shock-and-awe dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

Zeta Ophiuchi is a star with a complicated past, as it was likely ejected from its birthplace by a powerful stellar explosion. A detailed new look by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory helps tell more of the history of this runaway star.

Located approximately 440 light-years from Earth, Zeta Ophiuchi is a hot star that is about 20 times more massive than the Sun. Evidence that Zeta Ophiuchi was once in close orbit with another star, before being ejected at about 100,000 miles per hour when this companion was destroyed in a supernova explosion over a million years ago has been provided by previous observations.

In fact, previously released infrared data from NASA’s now-retired Spitzer Space Telescope, seen in this new composite image, reveals a spectacular shock wave (red and green) that was formed by matter blowing away from the star’s surface and slamming into gas in its path. A bubble of X-ray emission (blue) located around the star, produced by gas that has been heated by the effects of the shock wave to tens of millions of degrees, is revealed by data from Chandra.

Video of article

Reference: “Thermal emission from bow shocks. II. 3D magnetohydrodynamic models of zeta Ophiuchi” by S. Green, J. Mackey, P. Kavanagh, T. J. Haworth, M. Moutzouri and V. V. Gvaramadze, Accepted, Astronomy and Astrophysics.
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/202243531

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Tuesday August 02, @08:20PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the where's-the-kaboom? dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

A multi-institutional team of researchers and collaborators successfully executed an integrated vessel confinement system (VCS) experiment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), as part of an experimental campaign to study how nuclear materials react to high explosives without conducting a traditional nuclear test.

The experiment—dubbed Miramar—was an extensive collaboration across LLNL, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the United Kingdom's Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) and the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). It is a major milestone in an upcoming subcritical experiment series, named "Nimble." The Nimble series is designed to remain below the threshold of nuclear criticality in accordance with the U.S. commitment not to return to nuclear explosive testing. The Nimble series will play a key role in assessing the safety, security and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, as well as providing data crucial to certifying that modernized warheads will perform as expected.

Miramar is the penultimate dress rehearsal experiment leading up to the Nimble series at NNSS's underground U1a facility in Nevada. The experiment will help ensure that there will not be vessel confinement or data-return surprises when the Nimble experiments are conducted in U1a. This was a fully integrated test, meaning that all components of the vessel and confinement system were in place, as well as diagnostic and experimental components, using relevant materials.

[...] "Completion of this experiment provides the information and confidence necessary to move forward with upcoming activities and experiments in the Nimble series," Najjar said. "Overall, Miramar was a very successful experiment with excellent data return and allowed the team to evaluate and verify procedures in preparation for fielding and execution of the subcritical experiments at U1a."

It isn't necessarily easy testing the stability of things designed to blow up without blowing them up.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Tuesday August 02, @05:37PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Nichelle Nichols, Uhura in 'Star Trek,' Dies at 89

Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed communications officer Uhura on the original "Star Trek" series, died Saturday night in Silver City, N.M. She was 89 years old.

Nichols' death was confirmed by Gilbert Bell, her talent manager and business partner of 15 years.

Lt. Uhura will hail no more

Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura on Star Trek TOS has died, leaving behind fond memories and a lasting memory of a black woman in a Command position (I remember that on Land of the Giants, there was a black male who was second in command).

Was she not also on an episode or two of Star Trek Continues (or such independent show)?

Fond and lasting memories as 'heroes' continue aging and dying. Uhura WILL be missed, by me at least. :(

Trailblazing Star Trek Actress Nichelle Nichols Dies at 89

Trailblazing Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols dies at 89:

American actress Nichelle Nichols, best known for her role in 1960s sci-fi TV series Star Trek, has died aged 89.

Ms Nichols broke barriers in her role as Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in the series, becoming one of the first black actresses in the US to play a figure in authority.

She was later employed by Nasa in an effort to encourage more women and African-Americans to become astronauts.

She died of natural causes on Saturday night, her son Kyle Johnson said.

[...] As well as working as an actress, Ms Nicholls also became an ambassador for the US space agency Nasa, helping to recruit women and minorities to its Space programme.

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

posted by janrinok on Tuesday August 02, @02:54PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the say-cheese dept.

Hubble captures a diverse trio of galactic objects:

Though we're still reeling from the first images of distant galaxies taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, we can't overlook the contributions of our old faithful friend Hubble. Researchers share stunning images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope every week, and this week's image shows a trio of galactic objects of varying different types.

These objects, located in the constellation of Hercules, were imaged in the optical wavelength by Hubble. There are three main objects here: the prominent galaxy LEDA 58109 in the top right, named for the Lyon-Meudon Extragalactic Database in which it is cataloged, and two more objects in the bottom left. The most distant of these two objects is the galaxy  SDSS J162557.25+435743.5, named after the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and in front of this is an active galactic nucleus called SDSS J162558.14+435746.4.

An active galactic nucleus or AGN is a busy region at the heart of a galaxy that is notably bright, but this brightness is not necessarily due to stars. The light given off by these regions can be in the radio, microwave, infrared, and ultraviolet wavelengths as well as visible light, and it is thought to be given off by the enormous supermassive black holes which lie at the center of almost every galaxy. As these regions shine brightly, they can obscure other galaxies like the example seen in this image.

Additionally, this image shows the many types of galaxies that exist. "Galaxy classification is sometimes presented as something of a dichotomy: spiral and elliptical," Hubble scientists write. "However, the diversity of galaxies in this image alone highlights the complex web of galaxy classifications that exist, including galaxies that house extremely luminous AGNs at their cores, and galaxies whose shapes defy the classification of either spiral or elliptical."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday August 02, @12:10PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the fleeting-milliseconds-slip-by dept.

Considering the recent thread on the potential removal of leap seconds, a story in TheAge aussie paper seemed worth adding to the discussion:

Earth had its shortest day since records began last month, with 1.59 milliseconds shaved off the usual 24 hour spin on June 29 - raising the prospect that a negative leap second may soon be needed to keep clocks matched up with the heavens.

The Earth appears to be spinning slightly faster than normal.

Usually, Earth's average rotational speed decreases slightly over time and timekeepers have been forced to add 27 leap seconds to atomic time since the 1970s as the planet slows.

But since 2020, the phenomenon has reversed with records being frequently broken over the last two years. The previous fastest day was -1.47 milliseconds under 24 hours on July 19 2020 and it was almost broken again on July 26, when the day was -1.50 milliseconds shorter. While the effect is too small to be noticeable by humans, it can accumulate over time, potentially impacting modern satellite communication and navigation systems which rely on time being consistent with the conventional positions of the Sun, Moon and stars.

It means that it may soon be necessary to remove time, adding a negative leap second, and speeding up global clocks for the first time ever.

Related stories:
  Why One Critical Second Can Wreak Havoc On The Internet
  5. 4. 3. 2. 1. 1... An Extra Second to See Out 2016

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Tuesday August 02, @09:23AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the free-coffee-and-donut-should-do-it dept.

A while back, we read about how Tim Hortons' app tracked users' movements throughout the day, whether the app was open or not. The tracker noted locations visited, including homes, workplaces, and competing coffee chains.

Now, after an investigation by Canada's privacy commissioner, to resolve a class action lawsuit, Tim Hortons have suggested a settlement:

Tim Hortons says it has reached a proposed settlement in multiple class-action lawsuits alleging the restaurant's mobile app violated customer privacy which would see the restaurant offer a free coffee and doughnut to affected users.

The company says the settlement, negotiated with the legal teams involved in the lawsuits, still requires court approval.

The coffee and doughnut chain says the deal would see eligible app users receive a free hot beverage and baked good.

Tim Hortons says in court documents it would also permanently delete any geolocation information it may have collected between April 1, 2019 and Sept. 30, 2020, and direct third-party service providers to do the same.

One free drink and a donut: We value your privacy (at a couple of bucks)?

Previous story: Tim Hortons Coffee App Broke Law by Constantly Recording Users' Movements

Original Submission