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posted by hubie on Thursday August 04, @10:08PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the build-it-and-the-government-contracts-will-come dept.

But the ISS isn't done yet — far from it, in fact:

The International Space Station (ISS) is entering its golden years, but activities aboard the orbiting lab aren't slowing down — just the opposite, in fact.

The ISS can't fly forever, however, and NASA officials envision a diverse market of commercial space stations taking its place as demand for access to low Earth orbit (LEO) continues to increase.

[...] Northrop Grumman, Axiom Space, Nanoracks and Sierra Space are all private companies with plans to construct their own space stations. NASA wants at least one of them to be on orbit before the ISS retires, a timeline the companies are targeting as well.

"The commercial LEO destination partners we are working with today have plans to be operational as early as 2027," Gatens said.

[...] Roberts expects a diverse availability of private space stations, unique in their designs and specialized in their abilities, saying, "Each of these commercial LEO destination companies, the four [Northrop Grumman, Axiom Space, Nanoracks and Sierra Space] are going to be looking at ways to address different needs from different consumers out there ... Each of those companies is likely to take slightly different approaches to designing and operating their stations. And that's going to have, I think, an extremely beneficial value."

Roberts sees a day when NASA is less invested in space stations and more invested in science aboard space stations. "While there needs to be continued strong support from governments, we at National Lab and NASA and other agencies are also working towards that day when they are purely commercial-driven, so that the consumer will drive what's accessible in space and what's needed there," he said. "And that ... will drive acceleration in the pace of discovery in that environment."

With over 20 years of expertise building and operating a space station, NASA is offering whatever insight it can to companies to utilize their on-orbit experience. "NASA is not dictating how that hardware is going to be built," said Costello, "but we do hope that you benefit from those lessons learned." He also points out the additional eight years of life the ISS still has ahead (provided the other partners officially endorse the 2030 timeline) and hopes the station's facilities continue to improve.

"We're looking at capabilities that we can enable on ISS, but with a mindset towards portability," Costello said, "to move those onto CLDs [commercial LEO destinations] in the future, so that we can continue the NASA research and the National Lab research that takes advantage of those research facilities on the ISS in a future program."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday August 04, @07:21PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the I-didn't-see-that-coming dept.

The recent swoon in cryptocurrency valuations "has directly impacted pricing of luxury watches from brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe," said the company, which is based in Karlsruhe, Germany, and has more than half a million watches listed for sale on its website...

At the same time, Stracke said trading volumes on the platform, which links dealers or private sellers with buyers, have jumped more than 50% in the first half of the year.

The price of a Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711A, which sells for about $35,000 at retail, surged to $240,000 in the first quarter, according to Chrono24. Now the blue-dialed steel sports watch is fetching about $190,000 [...]

But why the soaring demand in the first place? In addition to crypto and stock-market gains, stimulus cash bolstered the secondhand-timepiece market, one segment of the larger luxury-goods market, which includes handbags, designer sneakers and fine jewelry, among other high-cost items. Rampant inflation and the war in Ukraine contributed to their appeal, as buyers sought tangible stores of value.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday August 04, @04:34PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the you-take-the-high-road dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

A new study by Jeroma Adda (Department of Economics) finds that the acquisition of skills is the main contributor to higher salaries for workers, with the magnitude of the effect differing according to the type of skill and the career stage of the worker. Although workers can acquire skills on the job, those who undergo training before entering the job market generally obtain greater wages and are in unemployment less often.

People make a series of choices throughout their careers: whether to get educated/trained before working, which job offers to accept, or whether they should quit their current job. Each decision has an impact on earnings that may unfold over many years, and understanding their effects requires not only examining immediate returns but longer-term outcomes. With this aim, Professor Adda and Christian Dustmann (University College London), in a forthcoming paper in the Journal of Political Economy, estimate a mathematical model to understand the determinants of wage growth. Using comprehensive data on labor market outcomes of German men over several decades, they find that workers' ability levels, their accumulation of human capital, and changing of jobs across different sectors and firms all have significant positive contributions to earnings.

To unpack their findings, it is first important to understand that research on labor markets distinguishes the tasks workers perform into two categories: routine-manual (RM) tasks, which follow well-defined and repetitive procedures that require a modest amount of training; and cognitive-abstract (CA) tasks, which require more technical and creative capabilities. To estimate the returns for each type of skill, the authors classify each occupation according to the predominant type of task. Thus they are able to go beyond the differentiation of returns to different jobs and can estimate the returns to task-specific work experience. Their results indicate that the accumulation of RM and CA skills over the course of an individual's career is the most important driver of wage growth. RM skills contribute more significantly to increases in worker productivity and earnings in the first years of their careers, but once a set of basic skills has been acquired their contribution to wage growth reduces to zero. On the other hand, CA skills take a longer time to be accumulated, and thus take longer to affect earnings, but have a longer-lasting impact, sustained throughout the individuals' career. These differential returns translate to workers in the CA sector earning, on average, higher wages than those in predominantly RM sectors.

[...] The authors also find that mobility of workers across the labor market contributes to higher salaries. Switching between different jobs generates a significant increase in earnings, but this is concentrated in the early years of the worker's career, namely the first job move. Though this change produces large gains, these quickly decline and additional mobility does not seem to contribute to larger returns. However, the authors also observe the existence of lock-in effects: workers are initially allocated to a sector for which they are not the most suited, but the accumulation of experience specific to that sector disincentivizes them from moving to jobs in other sectors.

More information: Jerome Adda et al, Sources of Wage Growth, Journal of Political Economy (2022). DOI: 10.1086/721657

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday August 04, @01:51PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the attack-of-the-clones dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

Thousands of GitHub repositories were forked (copied) with their clones altered to include malware, a software engineer discovered today.

While cloning open source repositories is a common development practice and even encouraged among developers, this case involves threat actors creating copies of legitimate projects but tainting these with malicious code to target unsuspecting developers with their malicious clones.

GitHub has purged most of the malicious repositories after receiving the engineer's report.

Today, software developer Stephen Lacy left everyone baffled when he claimed having discovered a "widespread malware attack" on GitHub affecting some 35,000 software repositories.

Contrary to what the original tweet seems to suggest, however, "35,000 projects" on GitHub have not been affected or compromised in any manner.

Rather, the thousands of backdoored projects are copies (forks or clones) of legitimate projects purportedly made by threat actors to push malware.

Official projects like crypto, golang, python, js, bash, docker, k8s, remain unaffected. But, that is not to say, the finding is unimportant, as explained in the following sections.

While reviewing an open source project Lacy had "found off a google search," the engineer noticed the following URL in the code that he shared on Twitter:


BleepingComputer, like many, observed that when searching GitHub for this URL, there were 35,000+ search results showing files containing the malicious URL. Therefore, the figure represents the number of suspicious files rather than infected repositories:

We further discovered, out of the 35,788 code results, more than 13,000 search results were from a single repository called 'redhat-operator-ecosystem.'

[...] As a best practice, remember to consume software from the official project repos and watch out for potential typosquats or repository forks/clones that may appear identical to the original project but hide malware.

This can become more difficult to spot as cloned repositories may continue to retain code commits with usernames and email addresses of the original authors, giving off a misleading impression that even newer commits were made by the original project authors. Open source code commits signed with GPG keys of authentic project authors are one way of verifying the authenticity of code.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday August 04, @11:05AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Antipodal-Cheeseburgers dept.

Quanta Magazine has an article about Antipodal Duality:

Last year, the particle physicist Lance Dixon was preparing a lecture when he noticed a striking similarity between two formulas that he planned to include in his slides.

The formulas, called scattering amplitudes, give the probabilities of possible outcomes of particle collisions. One of the scattering amplitudes represented the probability of two gluon particles colliding and producing four gluons; the other gave the probability of two gluons colliding to produce a gluon and a Higgs particle.

"I was getting a little confused because they looked kind of similar," said Dixon, who is a professor at Stanford University, "and then I realized that the numbers were basically the same — it's just that the [order] had gotten reversed."

He shared his observation with his collaborators over Zoom. Knowing of no reason the two scattering amplitudes should correspond, the group thought perhaps it was a coincidence. They started calculating the two amplitudes at progressively higher levels of precision (the greater the precision, the more terms they had to compare). By the end of the call, having calculated thousands of terms that kept agreeing, the physicists were pretty certain they were dealing with a new duality — a hidden connection between two different phenomena that couldn't be explained by our current understanding of physics.

Now, the antipodal duality, as the researchers are calling it, has been confirmed for high-precision calculations involving 93 million terms. While this duality arises in a simplified theory of gluons and other particles that does not quite describe our universe, there are clues that a similar duality might hold in the real world. Researchers hope that investigating the strange finding could help them make new connections between seemingly unrelated aspects of particle physics.

"This is a magnificent discovery because it is totally unexpected," said Anastasia Volovich, a particle physicist at Brown University, "and there is still no explanation of why it should be true."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday August 04, @08:14AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the don't-yet-amount-to-a-hill-of-beans-in-this-crazy-world dept.

Ancient crop provides flavor for humans, forage for livestock:

Tepary beans are among the most drought-tolerant legume crops in the world, but at one time, they were almost an endangered species in the U.S.

Waltram Ravelombola, Ph.D., a Texas A&M AgriLife Research organic and specialty crop breeder at Vernon and in the Texas A&M Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, is one of a few scientists funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service grant to bring tepary beans into modern cropping systems and diets.

The legume — pronounced tep-uh-ree — is an ancient crop native to the northern part of Mexico and the southwestern part of the U.S. The beans can be multiple sizes and colors, like pinto or black beans, but they offer drought tolerance other legumes don't, Ravelombola said.

Teparys can be consumed as beans by humans or as forage by livestock, providing better nutrition content than cowpeas and guar. Like cowpeas and guar, tepary can fix nitrogen in the soil.

Yet currently, Ravelombola said, no large supplies of seed exist to be planted.

[...] However, getting the beans to the point of widespread commercialization won't be an easy process.

Ravelombola said it will take at least eight growing seasons; there could be more than one growing season per year, depending on climate. [...]

Anyone ever eat one? It surprises me that a niche market for them never developed over the decades, or that they didn't find their way to a different part of the globe.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday August 04, @05:24AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

The tech company now lets users buy genuine parts for the Galaxy S20, S21, and Tab S7+ models, though this initiative is somewhat limited compared to others:

Samsung has taken its first, tentative baby steps in the path toward giving users the option to self repair their devices. These new repair kits are only available for a few select models, and new parts could still cost a pretty penny.

On Tuesday, the company shared its new repair kits carrying genuine parts in partnership with iFixit. The new kits come with guides and tools as well, but so far parts are limited to screens, charging ports, and back glass. [...]

Apple released its iPhone repair kits in April for the iPhone 12, iPhone 13, and third gen iPhone SE devices. The company decided for some reason to provide tool rental kits at nearly $50 bucks for a week's use. At the same time, it offers significantly more parts and tools for its select product lines, including cameras and sim trays. [...]

Other major tech companies are also anticipating the release of their own self-repair services. Google said back in April that it would have parts available for the Pixel 2 through Pixel 6 Pro available later this year, and the company promises to have repair options for the UK, Canada, and Europe as well as the U.S. Around the same time, Microsoft released a study showing the benefits of self-repair, and promised it would be working toward that end. However, it has not made any public statements about the timing for the release of its own self-repair service.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday August 04, @02:42AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Huey-Dewey-and-Louie dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

NASA's trio of robots known as Astrobee have completed the first phase of a project to test whether an autonomous system can provide spacecraft monitoring, maintenance and incident response.    

[...] NASA has sent up three Astrobee "free flying" robots to the ISS since work started in 2018. Bumble and Honey were launched to the International Space Station (ISS) in April 2019 and Queen left for the ISS in July 2019. They're being used to test autonomous maintenance crews as NASA gears for the Artemis human lunar missions and future missions to Mars.

The latest milestone the project achieved was having two Astrobees — Queen (foreground) and Bumble (background), see below — work independently, alongside astronauts, in separate areas of ISS. (Astronaut Raja Chari is closest to camera and Matthias Maurer is in the background).

Each robot is propelled by electric fans and has a docking station that they can independently return to for a recharge. They also feature a perching arm that can grasp handrails or assist astronauts. And they've given NASA's media team reason to make lots of bee and honey puns. 

The Astrobee was designed to work alongside astronauts, but NASA is also exploring their potential for Artemis on Gateway, a spacecraft that will orbit the Moon and provide an outpost for human lunar missions. Gateway could only be manned for six weeks of a year, leaving extended periods where autonomous maintenance systems could step in. 

Original Submission

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