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posted by janrinok on Friday September 15 2023, @09:29PM   Printer-friendly
from the how-does-one-get-guilt-prone-people-into-power? dept.

People in power who are guilt-prone are less likely to be corrupt:

Guilt. It's a horrible feeling that causes us to question our worth as human beings. But while it's something that induces sleepless nights and stress-related physical symptoms in individuals, for society at large, the tendency toward guilt might have some benefits.

"People who are prone to feeling guilt in their everyday lives are less likely to take bribes," said UC Santa Barbara psychology professor Hongbo Yu, who specializes in how social emotions give rise to behaviors. He is a senior author of a paper that appears in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

In a study he conducted in collaboration with partners at East China Normal University and Zhejiang Normal University, Yu looked at guilt not as an episodic state — such as how we feel after specific instances in which we hurt someone — but rather as a personality trait, in which people tend to worry about the potential harm their actions cause.

"So I could be a person for whom it is really easy to feel guilt in my everyday life," he explained, "while others might be less likely to feel guilt, or have a higher bar for feeling that emotion."

We all can probably intuit that anticipatory guilt might make us think twice before undertaking an action with potentially bad consequences for others. But what has been less clear is how this crucial morality-related personality trait affects decision makers in situations involving temptation and incentives, balanced against potential harm to others.

[...] "You know someone's going to get hurt," Yu said. "In the paper we argue that when the victim is more salient, the association between the guilt trait and corrupt behavior becomes stronger." Concern for others' suffering, they said, might play a significant role in how guilt-proneness influences bribe-taking behaviors.

[...] Indeed, the researchers say, guilt proneness is not the only trait that might predict corrupt behaviors (or lack of them), and it's worth studying how this trait, along with other personality traits, might "serve as a reliable anti-corruption predictor in personnel selection," such as when choosing people for leadership positions or for high-stakes jobs.

"We can't claim causality, but we can leverage the association between the guilt trait and the lower likelihood of corruption to make us more confident about their integrity," Yu said. "Maybe that's something we can apply to the real world."

Journal Reference:
Hu, Y., Qiu, S., Wang, G., Liu, K., Li, W., Yu, H., & Zhou, X. (2023). Are Guilt-Prone Power-Holders Less Corrupt? Evidence From Two Online Experiments. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 0(0).

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday September 15 2023, @04:47PM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

The water coming out of your faucet is safe to drink, but that doesn't mean it's completely clean. Chlorine has long been the standard for water treatment, but it often contains trace levels of disinfection byproducts and unknown contaminants. Georgia Institute of Technology researchers developed the minus approach to handle these harmful byproducts.

Instead of relying on traditional chemical addition (known as the plus approach), the minus approach avoids disinfectants, chemical coagulants, and advanced oxidation processes typical to water treatment processes. It uses a unique mix of filtration methods to remove byproducts and pathogens, enabling water treatment centers to use ultraviolet light and much smaller doses of chemical disinfectants to minimize future bacterial growth down the distribution system.

"The minus approach is a groundbreaking philosophical concept in water treatment," said Yongsheng Chen, the Bonnie W. and Charles W. Moorman IV Professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "Its primary objective is to achieve these outcomes while minimizing the reliance on chemical treatments, which can give rise to various issues in the main water treatment stream."

Chen and his student Elliot Reid, the primary author, presented the minus approach in the paper, "The Minus Approach Can Redefine the Standard of Practice of Drinking Water Treatment," in the Environmental Science & Technology journal.

The minus approach physically separates emerging contaminants and disinfection byproducts from the main water treatment process using these already proven processes:

The minus approach is intended to engage the water community in designing safer, more sustainable, and more intelligent systems. Because its technologies are already available and proven, the minus approach can be implemented immediately.

Journal information: Environmental Science & Technology

More information: Elliot Reid et al, The Minus Approach Can Redefine the Standard of Practice of Drinking Water Treatment, Environmental Science & Technology (2023). DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.2c09389

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday September 15 2023, @12:02PM   Printer-friendly
from the what's-in-a-name dept.

Intel today confirmed key details about the next generation of Thunderbolt cable, Thunderbolt 5. The company expects PCs and accessories with Thunderbolt 5 to release in 2024.

Intel will release Thunderbolt 5 technical collateral and development resources to developers in Q4 of 2024, Jason Ziller, general manager of the client connectivity division at Intel, told reporters ahead of the announcement.

The main feature of the new specification is its ability to transmit data at up to 120 gigabits per second (Gbps) while simultaneously receiving data at up to 40 Gbps. The mode, which Intel is dubbing Bandwidth Boost, only occurs when a high-bandwidth display is connected.

[...] Thunderbolt 5 will support previous versions of Thunderbolt and is based on the USB-IF USB4 Version 2.0, VESA DisplayPort 2.1, and PCI-SIG PCIe 4.0 (x4) specifications.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday September 15 2023, @07:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the betteridge-doesn't-think-so dept.

A new study out of the Complexity Science Hub concludes that social disintegration and violent conflict played a crucial role in shaping the population dynamics of early farming societies in Neolithic Europe:

Complexity scientist Peter Turchin and his team at CSH, working as part of an international and interdisciplinary collaboration, may have added a meaningful piece to a long-standing puzzle in archeology. Scholars have long tried to understand why Neolithic farmer populations go through boom-bust cycles, including "collapses" when whole regions are abandoned. According to one common explanation, climate fluctuations are the main driver, but empirical tests do not fully support this claim. In a new paper, published in the latest issue of Nature Scientific Reports, Turchin and his team seem to have come up with a new piece of information.

"Our study shows that periodic outbreaks of warfare — and not climate fluctuations – can account for the observed boom-bust patterns in the data," argues Turchin, who's a project leader at the Complexity Science Hub (CSH).

[...] Turchin has been applying mathematical models of social integration and disintegration to analyze the rise and fall of complex societies, such as agrarian empires in history or modern nation-states. He admits he wasn't convinced that such ideas would also apply to prehistory, such as the European Neolithic, where most of the time people lived in small-scale farming communities with no deep social inequalities and limited political organization beyond local settlements.

"I confess that until recently I thought that such societies were quite resilient and not susceptible to social disintegration and collapse," says Turchin. "There is no state or nobles to rebel against and, in any case, what's there to 'collapse'?," adds the complexity scientist.

Turchin, however, now holds a different view. Increasing evidence suggested that "simple" Neolithic farmers' societies also collapsed. "In fact, such cases are much more profound than the social and political breakdown of more recent societies, because archaeology indicates that substantial regions were depopulated."

[...] "Since we don't see consistent large-scale political organization during this time, it would be easy to imagine that things were static, such that people settled in a village and lived there for three or four thousand years without much happening in between. That doesn't seem to be the case. Sadly, this also means that this period was more violent than previously thought."

[...] "Additionally, the study indicates that humans and their interactions, whether friendly or violent, form a complex system, regardless of their political or economic organization. It doesn't matter if you don't want to organize into a state, you are still affected by your neighbors and their neighbors as well," adds Kondor.

Journal Reference:
Dániel Kondor, James S. Bennett, Detlef Gronenborn, et al., Explaining population booms and busts in Mid-Holocene Europe, Sci. Rep., 13, 9310 (2023)

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday September 15 2023, @02:33AM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

Apple chief Tim Cook previously announced that the tech giant will be purchasing chips for its iPhones, Macs and other key products made in Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) new factory in Phoenix, Arizona. It seemed like a huge win for the Biden administration, which signs the CHIPS Act into law last year to boost manufacturing in the US and lessen its reliance on overseas suppliers. Now, The Information has reported that even though the components for Apple's chips will be manufactured in the US, they'll still have to be sent back to TSMC's home country for assembly.

Apparently, the manufacturer's factory in Arizona doesn't have the facilities to package its customers' more advanced chips. "Packaging" is what you call the final stage of fabrication, wherein the chip's components are assembled inside a housing as close together as possible to enhance speed and power efficiency. The iPhone, in particular, has been using a packaging method developed by TSMC since 2016. Chips for iPads and Macs can be packaged outside of Taiwan, but the iPhone's will have to be assembled in the country.

[...] Seeing as the government recently established (PDF) a National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing program to boost chip packaging in the US, it's aware of the need to bring the process into the country, as well. Apple and all the aforementioned TSMC clients aren't the only companies whose chips have to be sent overseas for assembly, since manufacturers aren't making enough products in the US to justify building packaging facilities in the country. However, that program is only getting $2.5 billion in funding under the CHIPS Act, and the Institute of Printed Circuits told the publication that the amount shows packaging isn't being prioritized. As for TSMC, The Information's sources said it has no plans to build packaging facilities in the US due to the huge costs involved, and any future packaging method it develops will most likely be offered in Taiwan.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday September 14 2023, @09:42PM   Printer-friendly

Brain injury from contact sports doesn't just affect professional athletes:

Evan Hansen was born to play football. A strong, rambunctious kid, he started playing sports year-round as early as he could. "He was very selfless, always willing to sacrifice himself for the betterment of the team," says his father, Chuck Hansen. As a fearless linebacker at Wabash College in Indiana, the young player made 209 tackles in his first three seasons, and was hit far more than that during games and practices. Two days after winning the second game of his senior year, Evan died by suicide.

Searching for an explanation, Chuck Hansen pored through his son's internet search history. One query popped out: "CTE."

CTE stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurodegenerative brain disease that causes symptoms like memory loss, depression, and emotional dysregulation. Since 2005, it has been linked to head trauma and to contact sports like football, where brains can get knocked around during tackles and collisions. In 2016, the National Football League acknowledged that the sport was linked to CTE after many retired players were diagnosed posthumously by researchers at the Boston University CTE Center.

[...] This study reveals that young, amateur athletes aren't spared from the brain damage that comes with contact sports, even if they quit before going pro. And studying early-stage CTE in young, otherwise healthy brains, McKee says, "may give us clues as to how the disease is triggered." To her, the takeaway is clear: "We need to reduce the number and the strength of head impacts in contact sports. If we don't, we're going to face consequences like this."

[...] A common misconception is that a one-time impact can lead to neurodegeneration. The real problem is getting hit in the head over and over, for years and years. "A tennis player who had five concussions is not going to get CTE," says Nowinski. "There's something about getting hundreds or thousands of head impacts a year. That's what triggers it, whether you have concussion symptoms or not."

[...] But CTE is preventable. Small changes to practice drills and gameplay could make a huge difference for young athletes, says Nowinski. The playbook for prevention is simple: Reduce the number of hits to the head, and reduce the strength of those hits. Most happen during practice, so by reducing the number of drills involving head impacts and choosing ones that are less likely to cause high-magnitude blows, coaches can spare their players unnecessary danger. "You can't get rid of CTE in tackling sports," adds Nowinski, "but you can get rid of most cases of CTE."

Reducing the length of each game and the number of games per season can minimize the likelihood of head injuries, and banning brain-jostling events, like fighting in hockey or heading in soccer, can make games safer, he continues. Perhaps most importantly, youth sports leagues can raise the age at which kids are first exposed to preventable head impacts. "With tackle football before 14, the risks are not worth the benefits," Nowinski says. "You don't become a better football player from playing young." In one case study reported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, transitioning from tackle to flag football would reduce a young athlete's median number of head impacts per season from 378 to eight.

But, Nowinski points out, there is no central governing body in charge of youth sports leagues, leaving it largely up to individual coaches to make changes to their practice drills and recruitment strategies. "The opportunity is right in front of our faces," says Nowinski. "I remember being told how much football makes you a leader. But right now, on this issue, there's a black hole of leadership."

McKee doesn't think that parents should take their kids out of sports—far from it. "We just need to change the rules and our thinking about these games, so that CTE isn't a consequence of playing contact sports," McKee says.

And for young athletes concerned about CTE, she urges them to seek help for mental health symptoms, build personal support systems, and keep moving forward with their lives. "Individuals like Evan need to be seen, because in all likelihood, we can treat their symptoms and help them feel less hopeless," she says. "It's not a time to despair. It's a time to come in, be evaluated, and be treated."

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday September 14 2023, @04:58PM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

A team of planetary scientists at Arizona State University has found evidence that the multitude of bright flashes in Venus' atmosphere may be due to meteors passing through, not lightning strikes. In their paper published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, the group describes their study of the flashes of light and what they learned about them.

Scientists studying Venus have noted periodic flashes of light in its atmosphere for many years. For most of that time the flashes have been attributed to lightning flashing through the planet's atmosphere. Probes sent to the planet have done little to confirm the origin of the flashes—bursts of electromagnetic static have been recorded, which have been likened to the type heard during thunderstorms on Earth, suggesting lightning as a likely source.

But there has also been a sticking point—recorded bursts of static and images of a light flashing through the atmosphere have never been observed happening at the same time. Also, there is little evidence showing that Venus' atmosphere is capable of producing lightning. Such issues led the researchers on this new effort to consider another source—meteors.

[...] In comparing the number of flashes recorded in Venus' atmosphere with the number of possible meteor strikes, the team found them to be close enough to suggest that they could be related. More research is required, but if the initial findings turn out to be correct, space agencies will breathe a sigh of relief—sending a probe through clouds laden with lightning strikes is far more difficult than one where the skies are occasionally lit up by meteors.

Journal Reference:
C. H. Blaske et al, Meteors May Masquerade as Lightning in the Atmosphere of Venus, JGR Planets (2023). DOI: 10.1029/2023JE007914

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday September 14 2023, @12:14PM   Printer-friendly
from the on-rails dept.

Platoons of driverless cargo trucks cruising across highways is one of those tempting technocrat ideas that doesn't look like it will pan out. As autonomous driving technology matured in the middle of the last decade, we saw trials of the concept, but human truck drivers do more than just throttle, steer, and brake, and they aren't likely to be replaced soon.

A better idea would be to shift some of that cargo to our underutilized railways—here, the idea of platooning is an old one, better known as a "train." Parallel Systems hopes to do just that with its second-generation autonomous battery-electric freight railcar.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday September 14 2023, @07:33AM   Printer-friendly
from the dirty-little-secrets dept.

For state-sponsored hacking operations, unpatched vulnerabilities are valuable ammunition. Intelligence agencies and militaries seize on hackable bugs when they're revealed—exploiting them to carry out their campaigns of espionage or cyberwar—or spend millions to dig up new ones or to buy them in secret from the hacker gray market.

But for the past two years, China has added another approach to obtaining information about those vulnerabilities: a law that simply demands that any network technology business operating in the country hand it over. When tech companies learn of a hackable flaw in their products, they're now required to tell a Chinese government agency—which, in some cases, then shares that information with China's state-sponsored hackers, according to a new investigation. And some evidence suggests foreign firms with China-based operations are complying with the law, indirectly giving Chinese authorities hints about potential new ways to hack their own customers.

Today, the Atlantic Council released a report—whose findings the authors shared in advance with WIRED—that investigates the fallout of a Chinese law passed in 2021, designed to reform how companies and security researchers operating in China handle the discovery of security vulnerabilities in tech products.
The report's authors combed through the Chinese government's own descriptions of that program to chart the complex path the vulnerability information then takes: The data is shared with several other government bodies, including China's National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Teams/Coordination Center, or CNCERT/CC, an agency devoted to defending Chinese networks. But the researchers found that CNCERT/CC makes its reports available to technology "partners" that include exactly the sort of Chinese organizations devoted not to fixing security vulnerabilities but to exploiting them. One such partner is the Beijing bureau of China's Ministry of State Security, the agency responsible for many of the country's most aggressive state-sponsored hacking operations in recent years, from spy campaigns to disruptive cyberattacks. And the vulnerability reports are also shared with Shanghai Jiaotong University and the security firm Beijing Topsec, both of which have a history of lending their cooperation to hacking campaigns carried out by China's People Liberation Army.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday September 14 2023, @02:48AM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

Located in the 28-mile-long and 22-mile-wide McDermitt Caldera, the discovery of the deposit will be a massive boost to the United States' lithium reserves, which have been estimated at just one million metric tons. Most of the world's major deposits are in countries outside of North America, such as Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, China and Australia. It could also encourage more US investment in electric cars and will alleviate fears over lithium shortages – it's thought that a million metric tons of lithium will be needed by 2024.

"It could change the dynamics of lithium globally, in terms of price, security of supply and geopolitics," Belgian geologist Anouk Borst told Chemistry World. "The US would have its own supply of lithium and industries would be less scared about supply shortages."

The size of the deposit still has to be confirmed, but Lithium Americas Corporation says it expects to start mining the supply in 2026.

[...] Not everyone is celebrating the discovery, especially the Native American tribes who say the land is sacred. There are also potential dangers to native wildlife, and researchers are worried that the project will cause groundwater levels to drop to dangerous levels. Even NASA has spoken out against mining in the area. The space agency has been using Nevada's Railroad Valley lakebed since 1993 to accurately gauge the time it takes for satellite signals to travel to Earth and back, allowing it to calibrate the satellites.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Wednesday September 13 2023, @10:07PM   Printer-friendly

Stories submitted via Arthur T Knackerbracket and by NotSanguine about the exoplanet K2-18 b:

James Webb Telescope Detects Further Proof That Distant Exoplanet May Host Life

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

Scientists have discovered methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of K2-18 b, a distant exoplanet that has long piqued the curiosity of astronomers for having the potential to sustain life.

Using data from the James Webb Space Telescope, scientists based at NASA, the Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency (ESA) were able to detect the presence of carbon-bearing molecules including methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of the planet that is about 8.6 times the Earth’s mass.

The discovery adds to recent studies that suggested the K2-18 b could be what is known as a Hycean exoplanet – one that has the potential to have a hydrogen-rich atmosphere and a water ocean-covered surface.

[...] “Our findings underscore the importance of considering diverse habitable environments in the search for life elsewhere,” explained Prof Nikku Madhusudhan, an astronomer at the University of Cambridge and lead author of the paper announcing these results, which will be published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

“Traditionally, the search for life on exoplanets has focused primarily on smaller rocky planets, but the larger Hycean worlds are significantly more conducive to atmospheric observations.”

These initial Webb observations also provided a possible detection of a molecule called dimethyl sulphide, which on Earth is only produced by life – largely emitted by the vast swathes of phytoplankton that inhabit our oceans.

“Upcoming Webb observations should be able to confirm if [dimethyl sulphide] is indeed present in the atmosphere of K2-18 b at significant levels,” added Madhusudhan.

Even though K2-18 b hosts carbon-bearing molecules and lies in the habitable zone based on the distance from its star, this does not mean it can necessarily support life. Scientists said that the planet’s large size means that its interior likely contains a large mantle of high-pressure ice.

And while Hycean worlds are predicted to have oceans of water, it is possible that the ocean is too hot to be habitable or be liquid.

Paper preprint [PDF]

Webb Discovers Methane, Carbon Dioxide in Atmosphere of K2-18 b

NASA announced that the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has detected carbon-based molecules (methane, carbon dioxide and other organics) in the atmosphere of an exoplanet ~120 light years from Earth.

From the NASA announcement:

A new investigation with NASA's James Webb Space Telescope into K2-18 b, an exoplanet 8.6 times as massive as Earth, has revealed the presence of carbon-bearing molecules including methane and carbon dioxide. Webb's discovery adds to recent studies suggesting that K2-18 b could be a Hycean exoplanet, one which has the potential to possess a hydrogen-rich atmosphere and a water ocean-covered surface.

The first insight into the atmospheric properties of this habitable-zone exoplanet came from observations with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, which prompted further studies that have since changed our understanding of the system.

K2-18 b orbits the cool dwarf star K2-18 in the habitable zone and lies 120 light-years from Earth in the constellation Leo. Exoplanets such as K2-18 b, which have sizes between those of Earth and Neptune, are unlike anything in our solar system. This lack of equivalent nearby planets means that these 'sub-Neptunes' are poorly understood, and the nature of their atmospheres is a matter of active debate among astronomers.
The abundance of methane and carbon dioxide, and shortage of ammonia, support the hypothesis that there may be a water ocean underneath a hydrogen-rich atmosphere in K2-18 b. These initial Webb observations also provided a possible detection of a molecule called dimethyl sulfide (DMS). On Earth, this is only produced by life. The bulk of the DMS in Earth's atmosphere is emitted from phytoplankton in marine environments.

graph of the expolanet's spectra

The inference of DMS is less robust and requires further validation. "Upcoming Webb observations should be able to confirm if DMS is indeed present in the atmosphere of K2-18 b at significant levels," explained Madhusudhan.

While K2-18 b lies in the habitable zone, and is now known to harbor carbon-bearing molecules, this does not necessarily mean that the planet can support life. The planet's large size — with a radius 2.6 times the radius of Earth — means that the planet's interior likely contains a large mantle of high-pressure ice, like Neptune, but with a thinner hydrogen-rich atmosphere and an ocean surface. Hycean worlds are predicted to have oceans of water. However, it is also possible that the ocean is too hot to be habitable or be liquid.

"Although this kind of planet does not exist in our solar system, sub-Neptunes are the most common type of planet known so far in the galaxy," explained team member Subhajit Sarkar of Cardiff University. "We have obtained the most detailed spectrum of a habitable-zone sub-Neptune to date, and this allowed us to work out the molecules that exist in its atmosphere."

Characterizing the atmospheres of exoplanets like K2-18 b — meaning identifying their gases and physical conditions — is a very active area in astronomy. However, these planets are outshone — literally — by the glare of their much larger parent stars, which makes exploring exoplanet atmospheres particularly challenging.

The team sidestepped this challenge by analyzing light from K2-18 b's parent star as it passed through the exoplanet's atmosphere. K2-18 b is a transiting exoplanet, meaning that we can detect a drop in brightness as it passes across the face of its host star. This is how the exoplanet was first discovered in 2015 with NASA's K2 mission. This means that during transits a tiny fraction of starlight will pass through the exoplanet's atmosphere before reaching telescopes like Webb. The starlight's passage through the exoplanet atmosphere leaves traces that astronomers can piece together to determine the gases of the exoplanet's atmosphere.

"This result was only possible because of the extended wavelength range and unprecedented sensitivity of Webb, which enabled robust detection of spectral features with just two transits," said Madhusudhan. "For comparison, one transit observation with Webb provided comparable precision to eight observations with Hubble conducted over a few years and in a relatively narrow wavelength range."

"These results are the product of just two observations of K2-18 b, with many more on the way," explained team member Savvas Constantinou of the University of Cambridge. "This means our work here is but an early demonstration of what Webb can observe in habitable-zone exoplanets."

Original Submission

    How Astronomers Detected Water on a Potentially Habitable Exoplanet for the First Time
    Water Detected on Super Earth Exoplanet in Habitable Zone
    Second "Super-Earth" Found Orbiting K2-18, 111 Light Years Away

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Wednesday September 13 2023, @05:19PM   Printer-friendly
from the too-hot dept.

Harris Wolobah, a healthy 14-year-old from Worcester, Massachusetts, tragically died last Friday, hours after eating a single ultra-spicy tortilla chip seasoned with two of the hottest peppers in the world.

The teen's mother, Lois Wolobah, reportedly picked up her son from school that day after getting a call from the nurse that he was sick.
Lois Wolobah believes the chip played a role in the death of her son, who had no known underlying medical conditions.

"I just want there to be an awareness for parents to know that it's not safe," Wolobah told The New York Times in an article published Wednesday. "It needs to be out of the market completely."

On Thursday, the maker of the Paqui chip—Amplify Snack Brands, a subsidiary of the Hershey Company—announced that it was taking the potentially deadly chip off shelves.

The chip was intended only for adults and carried clear warnings, the company said in a statement. It was not intended for "children or anyone sensitive to spicy foods or who has food allergies, is pregnant or has underlying health conditions."
The Paqui chip was seasoned with the Carolina Reaper pepper, the current hottest pepper in the world, and the Naga Viper pepper, which was the reigning hottest pepper in 2011 but is now merely among the top 10.
As a group of doctors from the University of Mississippi wrote in a 2020 medical case report:

The content of capsaicin, the compound that gives peppers their spicy taste, may be measured in Scoville heat units (SHU). The Carolina Reaper pepper boasts up to 2,200,000 SHU. For reference, standard pepper spray contains around 2,000,000 to 5,000,000 SHU, ghost pepper 1,000,000 SHU, and jalapeno pepper 3,500 SHU.

According to PepperScale, the Carolina Reaper is the 4th hottest pepper in the world. Behind the #1 Pepper X, #2 Apollo Pepper, and #3 Dragon's Breath Pepper. Though, none of those have been verified by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Wednesday September 13 2023, @12:37PM   Printer-friendly
from the Mosaic-browser-not-Mosaic-hops dept.

Tim Berners-Lee wrote the first text-only WWW browser. Then in 1991 four Finnish college students wrote the first graphical web browser, Erwise, but let it drop and that was the end of that. Two years later, Eric Bina and Marc Andreessen released NCSA Mosaic and, importantly, published it to an FTP site.

The very first web browser was the WorldWideWeb of Berners-Lee, but the first popularized web browser was the NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser. Previous web browsers were not user friendly; they lacked an intuitive and inviting way to allow people to navigate the then-new World Wide Web.In 1992 two developers at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois (Marc Andreessen and Eric Brina) began working on a graphical, user friendly web browser they would later call "Mosaic". The most notable features this computer program had that other browsers lacked were the ability to view pictures directly on the page, its ease of navigation, and the way this browser handled hyperlinks. Previous browsers only showed pictures as separate files available for download that were linked to the page, so no pictures were directly visible from any main web page. Other browsers also lacked a smooth graphical interface to help navigate through the page, to include scrolling and the now-standard "back", "forward", and "refresh" buttons. Finally, the Mosaic browser was the first browser to incorporate clickable hyperlinks. Previous browsers gave reference numbers so users could manually type in the new URL, whereas this new browser allowed users to simply click the link directly to get to the desired page.
-- NCSA Mosaic Internet Web Browser: The Complete History

And from NCSA's site:

"To be sure, Mosaic deserves credit for tackling two problems. First, earlier browsers were troublesome to get up and running, while Mosaic was a lot easier, thanks largely to [NCSA developer Eric] Bina's programming skill. Second, Mosaic was the first published browser that automatically displayed pictures along with text, as in the pages of a magazine layout or an illustrated book. That was important because later on it would be the proliferation of pretty pictures that transformed that Web from the domain of scientists and hackers to a cultural phenomenon that captured the interest of the masses."
-- NCSA Mosaic™

In other words, NCSA Mosaic was released in January, 1993, making it 30 years ago this year.

Which browser did you use back when you first started with the WWW?
What would you revive from the WWW as it was when you started and what would you retain from the current WWW?

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Wednesday September 13 2023, @07:48AM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

Microsoft has struck a deal with Heirloom Carbon, a startup that has developed a process for using limestone to capture carbon to fight climate change. The technique could contribute to Microsoft's ongoing attempt to become carbon-negative.

Limestone naturally absorbs carbon over many years, but Heirloom's method accelerates the process. The company uses a kiln powered by renewable energy to heat crushed limestone to around 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit, which separates it into carbon dioxide and calcium oxide. Adding water to the calcium oxide allows it to absorb sufficient amounts of carbon within days, after which Heirloom re-inserts it into the kiln to restart the cycle.

Although the technology is proven, the maximum scale at which it remains cost-effective is unclear. Another issue facing all carbon capture methods is storing the substance.

[...] Regardless of the limestone method's effectiveness, it will likely need to complement other carbon capture technologies that Microsoft is employing to become carbon-negative by 2030. A few years ago, the company also said that by 2050, it wants to remove all of the carbon it has ever emitted since its 1975 founding.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Wednesday September 13 2023, @03:03AM   Printer-friendly

Study shows viewership of harmful content concentrated among a small group of users:

As the second most popular social media platform in the world, YouTube frequently attracts criticism. In particular, critics argue that its algorithmic recommendations facilitate radicalization and extremism by sending users down "rabbit holes" of harmful content.

According to a new study published in Science Advances, however, exposure to alternative and extremist video channels on YouTube is not driven by recommendations. Instead, most consumption of these channels on the platform can be attributed to a small group of users high in gender and racial resentment and who subscribe to these channels and follow links to their videos.

The study authors caution that these findings do not exonerate the platform. "YouTube's algorithms may not be recommending alternative and extremist content to nonsubscribers very often, but they are nonetheless hosting it for free and funneling it to subscribers in ways that are of great concern," says co-author Brendan Nyhan, the James O. Freedman Presidential Professor at Dartmouth.

[...] In 2019, YouTube announced that changes to its algorithms had reduced watch time of harmful content by 50%, with a 70% decline in watch time by nonsubscribers. These reports had not been independently verified, so the research team set out to determine who is watching this type of content and evaluate what recommendations are offered by YouTube's algorithm.

[...] Given the challenges of trying to characterize the content of every single video viewed, the researchers focused on the type of YouTube channels people watched. They compiled lists of channels that had been identified as alternative or extreme by journalists and academics and then examined how often a participant visited videos from those channels.

[...] A majority of viewers of the potentially harmful channels were subscribers to the type of channel in question: 61% subscribers for alternative channels and 55% for extremist channels. Almost all subscribed either to the channel in question or another one like it: 93% for alternative channels and 85% for extremist channels.

Viewing time data showed that a tiny percentage of people were responsible for most of the time participants spent watching potentially harmful channels. Specifically, 1.7% of participants were responsible for 80% of time spent on alternative channels while only 0.6% of participants were responsible for 80% of the time spent on extremist channels.

The researchers also found that people who scored high in hostile sexism and racial resentment were more likely to visit videos from alternative and extremist channels.

[...] "What really stands out is the correlation between content subscribers' prior levels of hostile sexism and more time spent watching videos from alternative and extremist channels," says Nyhan. "We interpret that relationship as suggesting that people are seeking this content out."

By contrast, the researchers found that recommendations to alternative and extremist channel videos were very rare and that "rabbit hole"-type events were only observed a handful of times during the study period.

Journal Reference:
Annie Y. Chen, Brendan Nyhan, Jason Reifler, et al., Subscriptions and external links help drive resentful users to alternative and extremist YouTube channels, Sci. Adv., Vol. 9, No. 35 DOI:

Original Submission