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The Best Star Trek

  • The Original Series (TOS) or The Animated Series (TAS)
  • The Next Generation (TNG) or Deep Space 9 (DS9)
  • Voyager (VOY) or Enterprise (ENT)
  • Discovery (DSC) or Picard (PIC)
  • Lower Decks or Prodigy
  • Strange New Worlds
  • Orville
  • Other (please specify in comments)

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:41 | Votes:63

posted by janrinok on Saturday February 10, @09:48PM   Printer-friendly

https://phys.org/news/2024-02-laser-driven-lightsails-stable.html

It's a long way to the nearest star, which means conventional rockets won't get us there. The fuel requirements would make our ship prohibitively heavy. So an alternative is to travel light. Literally. Rather than carrying your fuel with you, simply attach your tiny starship to a large reflective sail, and shine a powerful laser at it.

The impulse of photons would push the starship to a fraction of light speed. Riding a beam of light, a lightsail mission could reach Proxima Centauri in a couple of decades. But while the idea is simple, the engineering challenges are significant, because, across decades and light-years, even the smallest problem can be difficult to solve.

One example of this can be seen in a recent arXiv preprint paper. It looks at the problem of how to balance a lightsail on a laser beam. Although the laser could be aimed directly toward a star, or where it will be in a couple of decades, the lightsail would only follow the beam if it is perfectly balanced.

If a sail is slightly tilted relative to the beam, the reflected laser light would give the lightsail a slight transverse push. No matter how small this deviation is, it would grow over time, causing its path to drift ever away from its target. We will never align a lightsail perfectly, so we need some way to correct small deviations.

For traditional rockets, this can be done with internal gyroscopes to stabilize the rocket, and engines that can dynamically adjust their thrust to restore balance. But a gyro system would be too heavy for an interstellar lightsail, and adjustments of the beam would take months or years to reach the lightsail, making quick changes impossible. So the authors suggest using a radiative trick known as the Poynting–Robertson effect.

The effect was first studied in the early 1900s and is caused by the relative motion between an object and a light source. For example, a dust grain orbiting the sun sees light coming at a slight forward angle due to its motion through sunlight. That little forward component of light can slow down the asteroid ever so slightly. This effect causes dust to drift toward the inner solar system over time.

In this paper, the authors consider a two-dimensional model to see how the Poynting–Robertson effect might be used to keep our lightsail probe on course. To keep things simple, they assumed the light beam to be a simple monochromatic plane wave. Real lasers are more complex, but the assumption is reasonable for a proof of concept. They then showed how a simple two-sail system can use the effects of relative motion to keep the craft in balance. As the sails tilt off course slightly, a restorative force from the beam counters it. Thus proving the concept could work.

More information: Rhys Mackintosh et al, Poynting-Robertson damping of laser beam driven lightsails, arXiv (2024). DOI: 10.48550/arxiv.2401.16924

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday February 10, @05:06PM   Printer-friendly

Many Indigenous peoples and local communities around the world are leading very satisfying lives despite having very little money.This is the conclusion of a study by ICTA-UAB, which shows that many societies with very low monetary income have remarkably high levels of life satisfaction, comparable to those in wealthy countries.

Economic growth is often prescribed as a sure way of increasing the well-being of people in low-income countries, and global surveys in recent decades have supported this strategy by showing that people in high-income countries tend to report higher levels of life satisfaction than those in low-income countries. This strong correlation might suggest that only in rich societies can people be happy.

[...] The research, published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), consisted of a survey of 2,966 people from Indigenous and local communities in 19 globally distributed sites. Only 64% of surveyed households had any cash income. The results show that "surprisingly, many populations with very low monetary incomes report very high average levels of life satisfaction, with scores similar to those in wealthy countries," says Eric Galbraith, researcher at ICTA-UAB and McGill University and lead author of the study.

[...] The researchers highlight that, although they now know that people in many Indigenous and local communities report high levels of life satisfaction, they do not know why. Prior work would suggest that family and social support and relationships, spirituality, and connections to nature are among the important factors on which this happiness is based, "but it is possible that the important factors differ significantly between societies or, conversely, that a small subset of factors dominate everywhere. I would hope that, by learning more about what makes life satisfying in these diverse communities, it might help many others to lead more satisfying lives while addressing the sustainability crisis," Galbraith concludes.

[Source]: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

[Also Covered By]: ScienceDaily

What would give you true happiness ? Can you be really happy with less money ?


Original Submission

posted by hubie on Saturday February 10, @12:20PM   Printer-friendly
from the streaming-restrictions-are-coming-in-torrents dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

So we’ve noted more than once that as the streaming sector is saturated and new user growth slows, streaming giants will follow on a fairly predictable path that got their predecessors (cable TV companies) in trouble. Namely, shifting away from innovation and disruption and consumer welfare, and toward nickel-and-diming customers in a bid to give Wall Street improved quarterly returns at any cost.

That means a lot of pointless and harmful “growth for growth sake” mergers (see: Discovery Time Warner), endless price hikes, weird attempts to nickel-and-dime users (see: Amazon suddenly charging extra to avoid new ads), a general skimping on staff pay and customer service, and a steady enshittification of overall product quality you’ve probably already noticed.

Part of that process involves eliminating popular things that previously helped bring in new customers, like password sharing. We’ve noted how when Netflix wanted to sign up more customers, it praised password sharing, acknowledging that it didn’t really hurt the company’s bottom line, and basically acted as free advertising. Besides, Netflix already charges users extra for additional simultaneous streams.

Now that global growth is slowing, Netflix has to effectively cannibalize its own product quality and brand to appease Wall Street. It’s not good enough to just have a high quality product that makes money and people like; the need for improved quarterly returns inevitably turns disruptors into turf protectors. It’s what kicked Comcast in the teeth, and streaming execs seem poised to ignore the lessons.

[...] But if there’s any potential to squeeze out a tiny bit of additional profits from existing customers, these executives will do it. Wall Street demands it. And when annoyed users increasingly head to free alternatives or piracy after being inundated with price hikes and sagging product quality, execs will inevitably blame everything and everyone but themselves for the failure. It’s how this all works.


Original Submission

posted by hubie on Saturday February 10, @07:34AM   Printer-friendly
from the Congratulations!-You-found-the-FBI's-backdoor dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

We're very familiar with the many projects in which Raspberry Pi hardware is used, from giving old computers a new lease of life through to running the animated displays so beloved by retailers. But cracking BitLocker? We doubt the company will be bragging too much about that particular application.

The technique was documented in a YouTube video over the weekend, which demonstrated how a Raspberry Pi Pico can be used to gain access to a BitLocker-secured device in under a minute, provided you have physical access to the device.

A Lenovo laptop was used in the video, posted by user stacksmashing, although other hardware will also be vulnerable. The technique also relies on having a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) separate from the CPU. In many cases, the two will be combined, in which case the technique shown cannot be used.

[...] Microsoft has long accepted that such attacks are possible, although it describes them as a "targeted attack with plenty of time; the attacker opens the case, solder, and uses sophisticated hardware or software."

At less than a minute in the example, we'd dispute the "plenty of time" claim, and while the Raspberry Pi Pico is undoubtedly impressive for the price, at less than $10, the hardware spend is neither expensive nor specific.

[...] As one wag observed: "Congratulations! You found the FBI's backdoor."


Original Submission

posted by hubie on Saturday February 10, @02:49AM   Printer-friendly
from the scary-that-not-using-a-smart-phone-is-news dept.

Seth Lavin, a school principal in Chicago, reports his experience switching from a smart phone in this opinion piece that originates from the LA Times.

About three months ago, I bought a flip phone and turned off my smartphone for good. [...] [A student] asks, "Why did you put yourself on punishment?" But I do not feel punished. I feel free.

Kids and their phones are different - closer - since COVID. [...] Teachers said they could sense kids' phones distracting them from inside their pockets.

We banned phones outright, equipping classrooms with lockboxes that the kids call "cellphone prisons." It's not perfect, but it's better. A teacher said, "It's like we have the children back." [...]

And what about adults? Ninety-five percent of young adults now keep their phones nearby every waking hour, according to a Gallup survey; [...]

We want children off their phones because we want them to be present, but children need our presence, too. [...] Every year, I see kids get phones and disappear into them. I don't want that to happen to mine. I don't want that to have happened to me.

So I quit. And now I have this flip phone.

What I don't have is Facetime or Instagram. I can't use Grubhub or Lyft or the Starbucks Mobile App. I don't even have a browser. I drove to a student's quinceañera, and I had to print out directions as if it were 2002.

[...] I can still make calls, though people are startled to get one. I can still text. And I can still see your pictures, though I can "heart" them only in my heart. [...]

Turning off my smartphone didn't fix all my problems. But I do notice my brain moving more deliberately, shifting less abruptly between moods. I am bored more, sure - the days feel longer - but I am deciding that's a good thing. And I am still connected to the people I love; they just can't text me TikToks.

It's hard to imagine a revolution against the smartphone, though there are glimmers of resistance. [...] Twelve percent of adults recently told Gallup that their smartphones make life worse, up from 6% in 2015.

But I'm not doing this to change the culture. I'm doing this because I don't want my sons to remember me lost in my phone.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday February 09, @10:04PM   Printer-friendly
from the somebody-will-always-pay dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

Scalpers have taken to Apple's new headset, but there's currently plenty of supply.

When Apple Vision Pro launched late last week, there were two main topics of conversation. The first is all of the things it can do and how well it can do them. The other is the price: it starts at $3,499 with 256GB of storage and goes up from there. That's a lot of money, but there's actually someone trying to charge more than Apple: scalpers. They're often trying to start around $4,000, with some asking for as $10,000 in an attempt to make extra cash. Scalpers have unfortunately become a fixture of major technology launches. Remember the PlayStation 5 shortages that started in 2020? Those didn't resolve until just last year. Or what about graphics cards during the early pandemic? Those all went on third-party marketplaces as scalpers and the bots they employ have served as unwanted middlemen for financial gain. But with Vision Pro, that doesn't seem to be working. When I went to my local Apple Store on the evening of the launch for the demo experience, the specialist who gave me the demo told me that if I wanted the 512GB or 1TB models, I could get one immediately. That was right before the store closed. As I write this, I could get a 256GB model from Apple and pick it up tomorrow at a store near my office or the one closest to my home. Others are available this week. Shipping might take a bit more time, as it would arrive closer to the end of the month. And yet, scalpers are taking to eBay for a premium. Why would you do that when you could get it from the manufacturer?

"Well, that's the beauty of open markets and speculation," Ramon T. Llamas, a research director with the analysis firm IDC’s devices and displays team, told Tom’s Hardware. But the Vision Pro market is a bit different than recent tech scalping. For starters, Llamas points out, a lot of people are still trying to figure out what they're going to use a Vision Pro for. The PlayStation 5 has a very defined use case, which is part of why it was so in demand. Others may be waiting for later generations of the product and let early adopters work out the kinks. 

"It's easy to see there is some interest out there for this device, but when you're competing against the supplier itself, Apple, with a very fixed price and everything — a very public price — and… ample supply on hand, you're going to dive into some limitations," Llamas said. Which is to say, when I open eBay and Facebook Marketplace, I'm seeing a lot of listings.

This is compounded in difficulty by the degree of customization involved in buying a Vision Pro. It requires two scans from an iPhone or iPad with Apple's Face ID. These measurements decide which size straps should come in the box, as well as which size light shield will fit your face.

Some sellers list the size they bought (presumably, revealing the size of their noggin in the process); in other cases, you may go in blind on the sizing. As long as there's stock in an Apple Store near you, it makes far more sense, for $3,499.99, to go get it fitted to your own head. The idea that someone would want to buy an ill-fitting Vision Pro for more money doesn't make much sense, especially because they might end up going to Apple anyway and shelling out $199 for a new light seal and cushions or $99 for a new headband.

[...] Apple didn't respond to a request for comment. We'll update if we hear back.


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday February 09, @05:18PM   Printer-friendly
from the d'oh! dept.

https://arstechnica.com/space/2024/02/humanitys-most-distant-space-probe-jeopardized-by-computer-glitch/

Voyager 1 is still alive out there, barreling into the cosmos more than 15 billion miles away. However, a computer problem has kept the mission's loyal support team in Southern California from knowing much more about the status of one of NASA's longest-lived spacecraft.

The computer glitch cropped up on November 14, and it affected Voyager 1's ability to send back telemetry data, such as measurements from the spacecraft's science instruments or basic engineering information about how the probe was doing. [...] "It would be the biggest miracle if we get it back. We certainly haven't given up," said Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in an interview with Ars. "There are other things we can try. But this is, by far, the most serious since I've been project manager."

Dodd became the project manager for NASA's Voyager mission in 2010, overseeing a small cadre of engineers responsible for humanity's exploration into interstellar space. Voyager 1 is the most distant spacecraft ever, speeding away from the Sun at 38,000 mph (17 kilometers per second). [...] The latest problem with Voyager 1 lies in the probe's Flight Data Subsystem (FDS), one of three computers on the spacecraft working alongside a command-and-control central computer and another device overseeing attitude control and pointing. [...] In November, the data packages transmitted by Voyager 1 manifested a repeating pattern of ones and zeros as if it were stuck, according to NASA. Dodd said engineers at JPL have spent the better part of three months trying to diagnose the cause of the problem. She said the engineering team is "99.9 percent sure" the problem originated in the FDS, which appears to be having trouble "frame syncing" data. [...] "It's likely somewhere in the FDS memory," Dodd said. "A bit got flipped or corrupted. But without the telemetry, we can't see where that FDS memory corruption is."

[...] "We have sheets and sheets of schematics that are paper, that are all yellowed on the corners, and all signed in 1974," Dodd said. "They're pinned up on the walls and people are looking at them. That's a whole story in itself, just how to get to the information you need to be able to talk about the commanding decisions or what the problem might be." [...] "It is difficult to command Voyager," Dodd said. "We don't have any type of simulator for this. We don't have any hardware simulator. We don't have any software simulator... There's no simulator with the FDS, no hardware where we can try it on the ground first before we send it. So that makes people more cautious, and it's a balance between getting commanding right and taking risks."

[...] The spacecraft's vast distance and position in the southern sky require NASA to use the largest 230-foot (70-meter) antenna at a Deep Space Network tracking site in Australia, one of the network's most in-demand antennas.

"The data rates are very low, and this anomaly causes us not to have any telemetry," Dodd said. "We're kind of shooting in the blind a little bit because we don't know what the status of the spacecraft is completely."

Previously on SoylentNews:
Engineers Work to Fix Voyager 1 Computer - 20231215

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Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday February 09, @12:37PM   Printer-friendly

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:

AWS could rake in between $400 million and $1 billion a year from charging customers for public IPv4 addresses while migration to IPv6 remains slow.

The cloud computing kingpin signaled last year that it would start charging customers for public IPv4 addresses from February 1, as covered by The Register at the time.

AWS cited increasing scarcity and claimed the cost to acquire a single public IPv4 address for customer use had risen more than 300 percent over the past few years.

Fortunately, the charge is hardly ruinous – $0.005 (half a cent) per IP address per hour, which equates to a total cost of $43.80 per year for each public IPv4 address you have – excluding any IP addresses that you might own and opt to bring to AWS using Amazon's BYOIP (Bring Your Own IP) service.

However a technologist has done the calculations and estimated that across all users, this will add up to a sum of between $400 million and $1 billion a year for AWS. Not bad for something that was being offered completely free just a few days ago (and is still offered for 750 hours a month at no cost in the AWS free tier).

The source of the billion-dollar claim is Andree Toonk, founder and CEO of network services biz Border0, who is presumably trying to generate business for his own company.

Toonk used Amazon's own IP address range data to estimate that the cloud colossus has at least 131,932,752 IPv4 addresses. Based on the average price for an IPv4 address being about $35 at the time of writing, this means that AWS is sitting on about $4.6 billion, should it wish to divest itself of them.

He also used a script to ping all of the IPv4 addresses in order to gauge how many were "alive" within the AWS network and came up with an answer of about 6 million. But many instances on AWS will have a security policy to not respond to a ping packet, so the actual number of active IPv4 addresses could be double that.

Even with just those six million addresses, that's $262.8 million AWS will earn from charging for IPv4 in a year.

He forecast the headline $400 million to $1 billion figure by projecting a "conservative" estimate that between 10 percent and 30 percent of the IPv4 addresses (approximately 7.9 million) published in the AWS JSON are used for a year.

We asked AWS if it recognized any of these figures, and what the company itself estimated it would earn from charging customers for public IPv4 addresses, but it declined to answer, instead referring us to its original blog post disclosing the charges.

The general feeling among industry experts is that this is fair game, and customers should make plans to migrate to IPv6 if they don't like it – assuming their applications allow this, of course.

[...] "My view is that AWS has been smart in buying up IPv4 addresses, and this is a way for it to cash in until IPv6 adoption makes IPv4 redundant. It's just that organizations are not rushing to move to IPv6," he said.

Previously: AWS to Charge Customers for Public IPv4 Addresses From 2024


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday February 09, @07:52AM   Printer-friendly
from the it's-popular-all-of-a-sudden dept.

Everyone knows we should be doing backups. While the standard these days is an online backup (too expensive for a full backup, I use it for important, small things,) or using an external hard drive, SSDs can lose their data after a few years of not being powered on and hard drives are complicated mechanical beasts susceptible to their grease hardening, bearings seizing, etc.

The best option if I want long term backups is to grab good quality blurays and a burner. Is anyone else out there doing this? How are you handling splitting up your data (who only has 32gb of data these days?) Do you just have a dedicated spot on your hard drive to stage backups before burning or are there some software tricks on modern computers like the old days to burn a single "file" across multiple discs? How far back a backup have you recovered, now that bluray's going on 20 years old?


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday February 09, @03:05AM   Printer-friendly

https://spectrum.ieee.org/non-line-of-sight-infrared

Just because an object is around a corner doesn't mean it has to be hidden. Non-line-of-sight imaging can peek around corners and spot those objects, but it has so far been limited to a narrow band of frequencies. Now, a new sensor can help extend this technique from working with visible light to infrared. This advance could help make autonomous vehicles safer, among other potential applications.

Non-line-of-sight imaging relies on the faint signals of light beams that have reflected off surfaces in order to reconstruct images. The ability to see around corners may prove useful for machine vision—for instance, helping autonomous vehicles foresee hidden dangers to better predict how to respond to them, says Xiaolong Hu, the senior author of the study and a professor at Tianjin University in Tianjin, China. It may also improve endoscopes that help doctors peer inside the body.

The light that non-line-of-sight imaging depends on is typically very dim, and until now, the detectors that were efficient and sensitive enough for non-line-of-sight imaging could only detect either visible or near-infrared light. Moving to longer wavelengths might have several advantages, such as dealing with less interference from sunshine, and the possibility of using lasers that are safe around eyes, Hu says.

Now Hu and his colleagues have for the first time performed non-line-of-sight imaging using 1,560- and 1,997-nanometer infrared wavelengths. "This extension in spectrum paves the way for more practical applications," Hu says.

In the new study, the researchers experimented with superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors. In each device, a 40-nanometer-wide niobium titanium nitride wire was cooled to about 2 kelvins (about –271 °C), rendering the wire superconductive. A single photon could disrupt this fragile state, generating electrical pulses that enabled the efficient detection of individual photons.

The scientists contorted the nanowire in each device into a fractal pattern that took on similar shapes at various magnifications. This let the sensor detect photons of all polarizations, boosting its efficiency.

The new detector was up to nearly three times as efficient as other single-photon detectors at sensing near- and mid-infrared light. This let the researchers perform non-line-of-sight imaging, achieving a spatial resolution of roughly 1.3 to 1.5 centimeters.

Journal Reference:
Yifan Feng, Xingyu Cui, Yun Meng, Xiangjun Yin, Kai Zou, Zifan Hao, Jingyu Yang, and Xiaolong Hu, "Non-line-of-sight imaging at infrared wavelengths using a superconducting nanowire single-photon detector," Opt. Express 31, 42240-42254 (2023) https://doi.org/10.1364/OE.497802


Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday February 08, @10:21PM   Printer-friendly
from the who-reads-those-anyway dept.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2024/02/trio-wins-700k-vesuvius-challenge-grand-prize-for-deciphering-ancient-scroll/

Last fall we reported on the use of machine learning to decipher the first letters from a previously unreadable ancient scroll found in an ancient Roman villa at Herculaneum—part of the 2023 Vesuvius Challenge. Tech entrepreneur and challenge co-founder Nat Friedman has now announced via X (formerly Twitter) that they have awarded the grand prize of $700,000 for producing the first readable text. The three winning team members are Luke Farritor, Yousef Nader, and Julian Schilliger.

As previously reported, the ancient Roman resort town Pompeii wasn't the only city destroyed in the catastrophic 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Several other cities in the area, including the wealthy enclave of Herculaneum, were fried by clouds of hot gas called pyroclastic pulses and flows.

[...] Brent Searles' lab at the University of Kentucky has been working on deciphering the Herculaneum scrolls for many years. He employs a different method of "virtually unrolling" damaged scrolls, which he used in 2016 to "open" a scroll found on the western shore of the Dead Sea, revealing the first few verses from the book of Leviticus. The team's approach combined digital scanning with micro-computed tomography—a noninvasive technique often used for cancer imaging—with segmentation to digitally create pages, augmented with texturing and flattening techniques. Then they developed software (Volume Cartography) to unroll the scroll virtually.

[...] In October, Farritor, a college student and SpaceX intern, successfully read the first text hidden within one of the rolled-up scrolls using a machine-learning model. The achievement snagged him $40,000. Nader, an Egyptian bio-robotics student in Berlin, received a smaller $10,000 First Ink prize for essentially being the second person to decipher letters in a scroll. Schilliger, a Swiss robotics student at ETH Zurich, won three Segmentation Tooling prizes, which enabled 3D mapping of the papyrus.

Schilliger, Farritor, and Nader then formed a "superteam" to create the winning entry, extracting 15 columns of text from inside the carbonized scroll. In addition, there was a three-way tie for runner-up, with each entry winning $50,000 for devising new approaches to the subtleties of ink labeling and sampling: Shao-Qian Mah; Louis Schlessinger and Arefeh Sherafati; and Elian Rafael Dal Prá, Sean Johnson, Leonardo Scabini, Raí Fernando Dal Prá, João Vitor Brentigani Torezan, Daniel Baldin Franceschini, Bruno Pereira Kellm, Marcelo Soccol Gris, and Odemir Martinez Bruno.

[...] The Vesuvius Challenge co-founders thought when they started the challenge that there was less than a 30 percent chance of success within the year, since, at the time, no one had been able to read actual letters inside of a scroll. However, the crowdsourcing approach proved wildly successful. It's still just 5 percent of a single scroll, so Friedman, Searles, and Gross have announced a new challenge for 2024: $100,000 for the first entry that can read 90 percent of the four scrolls scanned thus far.

[...] "We have not yet found the villa's main library, which would have contained a much wider range of Greek and Latin literature," historian Garrett Ryan wrote on the Vesuvius Challenge site. "That library, with its thousands or even tens of thousands of scrolls, must still be buried. If those texts are discovered, and if even a small fraction can still be read, they will transform our knowledge of classical life and literature on a scale not seen since the Renaissance."

Previously on SoylentNews:


Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday February 08, @05:34PM   Printer-friendly

https://newatlas.com/medical/neuropathy-chronic-nerve-pain-non-opioid-compound/

Researchers have discovered a non-opioid compound that, in mice, effectively reduced the pain hypersensitivity associated with chronic and often debilitating nerve pain caused by diabetes or chemotherapy drugs. It's opened the door to developing a drug to treat the condition for which existing painkillers do little.

Diabetes, chemotherapy drugs, multiple sclerosis, injuries and amputations have all been associated with neuropathic pain, usually caused by damage to nerves in various body tissues, including the skin, muscles and joints. Mechanical hypersensitivity – or mechanical allodynia – is a major symptom of neuropathic pain, where innocuous stimuli like light touch cause severe pain.

Many available pain medications aren't effective in reducing this often-debilitating type of chronic pain. However, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin), in collaboration with UT Dallas and the University of Miami, may have advanced the treatment of neuropathic pain by discovering a molecule that reduces mechanical hypersensitivity in mice.

"We found it to be an effective painkiller, and the effects were rather long-lived," said Stephen Martin, a co-corresponding author of the study. "When we tested it on different models, diabetic neuropathy and chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, for example, we found this compound has an incredible beneficial effect."

[...] "It's our goal to make this compound into a drug that can be used to treat chronic pain without the dangers of opioids," Martin said. "Neuropathic pain is often a debilitating condition that can affect people their entire lives, and we need a treatment that is well tolerated and effective."

Journal Reference:
Muhammad Saad Yousuf, et al., Highly specific σ2R/TMEM97 ligand FEM-1689 alleviates neuropathic pain and inhibits the integrated stress response, PNAS, 2023. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2306090120


Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday February 08, @12:48PM   Printer-friendly

The European Parliament has reached a provisional deal on EU regulations to strengthen consumers' right to repair.

Negotiations over the bill have been ongoing for a while now - the rules were first proposed in March 2022, and the hope is that new requirements will be finalized in 2024.

The thinking is that consumers should be better informed about the lifespan and repairability of products before buying them, and there should be measures to boost repair after the legal guarantee period has expired.

All told, the bill looks set to bolster the repair sector. Manufacturers must make spare parts and tools available for "a reasonable price" and be prohibited from using contractual clauses or hardware or software blocks to obstruct repairs. While singling no company out specifically, the European Parliament said: "In particular, they should not impede the use of second-hand or 3D issued spare parts by independent repairers."

Other consumer rights in the deal include options for borrowing a device while their own is being repaired or opting for a refurbished unit, an additional one-year extension of the legal guarantee for repaired goods, and free online access to indicative repair prices.

Under the regulation, manufacturers must inform customers of the duty to repair and be obligated to fix "common household products," such as a washing machine or smartphone. The European Parliament has left open the possibility of adding more items over time.

[...] It will be a while before this all goes into effect, though. Once both Council and Parliament adopt the directive, member states will have 24 months to get it into national law.


Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday February 08, @08:03AM   Printer-friendly

https://www.theregister.com/2024/02/07/failed_usb_sticks/

The report, from German data recovery company CBL, concluded that NAND chips from reputable manufacturers such as Hynix, Sandisk, or Samsung that had failed quality control were being resold and repurposed. While still working, the chips' storage capacity is reduced.

"When we opened defective USB sticks last year, we found an alarming number of inferior memory chips with reduced capacity and the manufacturer's logo removed from the chip. Clearly discarded and unrecognizable microSD cards are also soldered onto a USB stick and managed with the external one on the USB stick board instead of the microSD's internal controller," explains Conrad Heinicke, Managing Director of CBL Datenrettung GmbH.

[...] Technological advancements have also affected these NAND chips, but not in a good way. The chips originally used single-level cell (SLC) memory cells that only stored one bit each, offering less data density but better performance and reliability. In order to increase the amount of storage the chips offered, manufacturers started moving to four bits per cell (QLC), decreasing the endurance and retention. Combined with the questionable components, it's why CBL warns that "You shouldn't rely too much on the reliability of flash memory."

[...] It's always wise to be careful when choosing your storage device and beware of offers that seem too good to be true. Back in 2022, a generic 30TB M.2 external SSD was available for about $18 on Walmart's website. It actually held two 512MB SD cards stuck to the board with hot glue – their firmware had been modified to report each one as 15 TB. There was also the case of fake Samsung SSDs with unbelievable slow speeds uncovered last year.


Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday February 08, @03:23AM   Printer-friendly
from the no,-really,-it's-not-true. dept.

Documents show industry-backed Air Pollution Foundation uncovered the severe harm climate change would wreak

"The fossil fuel industry funded some of the world's most foundational climate science as early as 1954, newly unearthed documents have shown, including the early research of Charles Keeling, famous for the so-called "Keeling curve" that has charted the upward march of the Earth's carbon dioxide levels."

A coalition of oil and car manufacturing interests provided $13,814 (about $158,000 in today's money) in December 1954 to fund Keeling's earliest work in measuring CO2 levels across the western US, the documents reveal.

Keeling would go on to establish the continuous measurement of global CO2 at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. This "Keeling curve" has tracked the steady increase of the atmospheric carbon that drives the climate crisis and has been hailed as one of the most important scientific works of modern times.

[...] Experts say the documents show the fossil fuel industry had intimate involvement in the inception of modern climate science, along with its warnings of the severe harm climate change will wreak, only to then publicly deny this science for decades and fund ongoing efforts to delay action on the climate crisis.

"They contain smoking gun proof that by at least 1954, the fossil fuel industry was on notice about the potential for its products to disrupt Earth's climate on a scale significant to human civilization," said Geoffrey Supran, an expert in historic climate disinformation at the University of Miami.

[...] "These documents talk about CO2 emissions having planetary implications, meaning this industry understood extraordinarily early on that fossil fuel combustion was profound on a planetary scale," he said.

"There is overwhelming evidence the oil and gas industry has been misleading the public and regulators around the climate risks of their product for 70 years. Trusting them to be part of the solutions is foolhardy. We've now moved into an era of accountability."

Obligatory XKCD


Original Submission