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[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:111 | Votes:118

posted by janrinok on Saturday May 11, @08:03PM   Printer-friendly

U.S. National Science Foundation suspends UTEP's aerospace grant - KVIA:

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- On April 25, The U.S. National Science Foundation instructed the University of Texas, El Paso [UTEP] to suspend work on the Regional Innovation Engine and Aerospace Center pending further review.

In a statement released by the university, "On or about April 6, UTEP became aware of potentially incorrect statements in its proposal to the National Science Foundation for the Regional Innovation Engine Program. UTEP conducted a review and found that the statements in question committed resources to the NSF grant that UTEP does not have. We have sent a letter today (May 6) informing the NSF of these erroneous claims."

In January, UTEP won the inaugural NSF Regional Innovation Engines award for up to $15 million dollars over the next two years, according to the university's website.

They say, they could have received up to $160 million dollars in over 10-years and would have supported the Paso del Norte Defense and Aerospace Innovation Engine, greatly impacting the borderland community.

According to El Paso Matters, The award was granted on the proposal from Dr. Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D., UTEP's associate vice president, who lead the Aerospace Center.

Since the announcement of the suspension of the grant, borderland leaders have expressed their concerns.

"Dr. Choudhuri and Dr. Wicker have played pivotal roles in advancing UTEP's Aerospace Center. Their vision has propelled Far West Texas into an era of ambitious growth, positioning us as a competitive force in the aerospace, defense, and advanced manufacturing industry. We will continue our collaboration with UTEP and local partners to ensure the Aerospace Center continues to build economic opportunities and a brighter future for the students, workers, and communities of Far West Texas," says Texas Senator César Blanco.

"Over a decade ago, our community united to focus our economic development efforts on aerospace and defense manufacturing, aiming to raise wages, retain talent, and foster job creation, ultimately positioning El Paso as a national leader in these industries," said Congresswoman Veronica Escobar. "At the heart of this vision stands Dr. Ashan Choudhuri, whose leadership has transformed what was once a dream into a tangible reality, unfolding daily before us."

[...] In the statement released by UTEP they did not mention Dr. Ahsan Choudhuri but the university did say that effective immediately, Dr. Kenneth Meissner, Dean of the College of Engineering, will serve as acting head for the center.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday May 11, @03:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the What-do-we-do-with-it? dept.

[Editor's Comment: I am not sure of the credibility, neutrality or origin of the source material.]

Report: Major Media Outlets Partnered With AI Company Are Filling Google With AI-Generated Trash

[...] Major media outlets have reportedly partnered with an AI company called AdVon Commerce to publish tens of thousands of fake product reviews and fill up Google Search results with piles of AI-generated trash.

While sites like InformationLiberation are manually blacklisted by Google's "trusted flaggers" for telling the truth, major media outlets which are manually whitelisted by Google for pushing regime propaganda are given top results for any garbage they publish.

Regime media have been taking advantage of this setup for years with low-quality clickbait but now they're taking spamming/SEO manipulation to a whole new level with AI.

I've suspected for quite some time those diversional "news article" clickbait sites ( like "She thought it was a dog. When the vet saw it, he called the Police! " ) are written by AI, designed to make you fish through myriads of buttons to get the next snippet of story.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday May 11, @10:29AM   Printer-friendly
from the dystopia-is-now! dept.

The United States Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) is currently evaluating a new generation of robotic "dogs" developed by Ghost Robotics, with the potential to be equipped with gun systems from defense tech company Onyx Industries, reports The War Zone.

[...] MARSOC is currently in possession of two armed Q-UGVs undergoing testing, as confirmed by Onyx Industries staff, and their gun systems are based on Onyx's SENTRY remote weapon system (RWS), which features an AI-enabled digital imaging system and can automatically detect and track people, drones, or vehicles, reporting potential targets to a remote human operator that could be located anywhere in the world. The system maintains a human-in-the-loop control for fire decisions, and it cannot decide to fire autonomously.

On LinkedIn, Onyx Industries shared a video of a similar system in action.

[...] The prospect of deploying armed robotic dogs, even with human oversight, raises significant questions about the future of warfare and the potential risks and ethical implications of increasingly autonomous weapons systems. There's also the potential for backlash if similar remote weapons systems eventually end up used domestically by police. Such a concern would not be unfounded: In November 2022, we covered a decision by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to allow the San Francisco Police Department to use lethal robots against suspects.

Previously on SoylentNews:
    You Can Now Buy a Flame-Throwing Robot Dog for Under $10,000 - 20240426
    San Francisco Decides Killer Police Robots Aren't Such a Great Idea - 20221208

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday May 11, @05:48AM   Printer-friendly

"The future of space travel depends on our ability to reach celestial pit stops faster and more efficiently. As such, NASA is working with a technology development company on a new propulsion system that could drop off humans on Mars in a relatively speedy two months' time rather than the current nine month journey required to reach the Red Planet

[...] The potentially groundbreaking propulsion system is being developed by Arizona-based Howe Industries. To reach high velocities within a shorter period of time, the pulsed plasma rocket would use nuclear fission—the release of energy from atoms splitting apart—to generate packets of plasma for thrust.

[...] It would essentially produce a controlled jet of plasma to help propel the rocket through space. Using the new propulsion system, and in terms of thrust, the rocket could potentially generate up to 22,481 pounds of force (100,000 Newtons) with a specific impulse (Isp) of 5,000 seconds, for remarkably high fuel efficiency"

[...] "The space agency claims that the propulsion system's high efficiency could allow for crewed missions to Mars to be completed within two months. As it stands today with commonly used propulsion systems, a trip to Mars takes around nine months."...

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday May 11, @01:02AM   Printer-friendly
from the old-space-heater dept.

Someone purchased the eight year old Cheyenne supercomputer for $480k. Failing hardware. Leaking water system. What would it be good for? Selling for parts would flood the market. Testing the parts would take forever. They also have to pay for transport from it's current location. Originally built by SGI.

Cheyenne Supercomputer - Water Cooling System

Components of the Cheyenne Supercomputer

Installed Configuration: SGI ICE™ XA.

E-Cells: 14 units weighing 1500 lbs. each.

E-Racks: 28 units, all water-cooled

Nodes: 4,032 dual socket units configured as quad-node blades

Processors: 8,064 units of E5-2697v4 (18-core, 2.3 GHz base frequency, Turbo up to 3.6GHz, 145W TDP)

Total Cores: 145,152

Memory: DDR4-2400 ECC single-rank, 64 GB per node, with 3 High Memory E-Cells having 128GB per node, totaling 313,344 GB

Topology: EDR Enhanced Hypercube

IB Switches: 224 units

Moving this system necessitates the engagement of a professional moving company. Please note the four (4) attached documents detailing the facility requirements and specifications will be provided. Due to their considerable weight, the racks require experienced movers equipped with proper Professional Protection Equipment (PPE) to ensure safe handling. The purchaser assumes responsibility for transferring the racks from the facility onto trucks using their equipment.

Please note that fiber optic and CAT5/6 cabling are excluded from the resale package.

The internal DAC cables within each cell, although removed, will be meticulously labeled, and packaged in boxes, facilitating potential future reinstallation.

Any ideas (serious or otherwise) of suitable uses for this hardware?

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday May 10, @08:43PM   Printer-friendly

Gene Therapy Restored Hearing in Deaf Child: [Paywalled in some regions]

Regeneron's gene therapy is being tested in a clinical trial.

An experimental gene therapy gave a deaf child the ability to hear, her family and investigators for a clinical trial say.

Opal Sandy, the girl, received an injection of DB-OTO, Regeneron's gene therapy, in her ear when she was 11 months old. Her hearing was assessed as normal within six months.

"When Opal could first hear us clapping unaided it was mind-blowing," Jo Sandy, the girl's mother, said in a statement released by the UK's National Health Service (NHS).

[...] "Providing the full complexity and spectrum of sound in children born with profound genetic deafness is a phenomenon I did not expect to see in my lifetime," Dr. Lawrence Lustig, chair of Columbia University's Department of Otolaryngology and one of the trial investigators, said in a statement.

Opal was born with genetic deafness from mutations of the otoferlin gene. About one in every 500 children are born in the United States with little or no ability to hear, and genetic changes like variants of the otoferlin gene are one cause.

Variants in the gene inhibit the production of a protein necessary for communication between the inner ear and the auditory nerve. The problem can be partially rectified with hearing aids or cochlear implants.

"It was our ultimate goal for Opal to hear all the speech sounds. It's already making a difference to our day-to-day lives, like at bath-time or swimming, when Opal can't wear her cochlear implant," James Sandy, Opal's father, said.

The DB-OTO is aimed at restoring the full spectrum of sound to people with mutated otoferlin gene. It's given as an intracochlear injection into one ear, or administered directly to the inner ear. A phase 1/2 clinical trial testing the gene therapy started in 2023, enrolling children in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Spain.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday May 10, @03:58PM   Printer-friendly
from the data-is-the-new-currency dept.

More than 800,000 people in Europe and the US appear to have been duped into sharing card details and other sensitive personal data with a vast network of fake online designer shops apparently operated from China:

An international investigation by the Guardian, Die Zeit and Le Monde gives a rare inside look at the mechanics of what the UK's Chartered Trading Standards Institute has described as one of the largest scams of its kind, with 76,000 fake websites created.

A trove of data examined by reporters and IT experts indicates the operation is highly organised, technically savvy – and ongoing.

Operating on an industrial scale, programmers have created tens of thousands of fake web shops offering discounted goods from Dior, Nike, Lacoste, Hugo Boss, Versace and Prada, as well as many other premium brands.

[...] The first fake shops in the network appear to have been created in 2015. More than 1m "orders" have been processed in the past three years alone, according to analysis of the data. Not all payments were successfully processed, but analysis suggests the group may have attempted to take as much as €50m (£43m) over the period. Many shops have been abandoned, but a third of them – more than 22,500 – are still live.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday May 10, @11:16AM   Printer-friendly
from the corporate-schadenfreude dept.

The Federal Communications Commission clarified its net neutrality rules to prohibit more kinds of fast lanes.

While the FCC voted to restore net neutrality rules on April 25, it didn't release the final text of the order until yesterday. The final text has some changes compared to the draft version released a few weeks before the vote.

[...] Advocates warned that mobile carriers could use the 5G technology called "network slicing" to create fast lanes for categories of apps, like online gaming, and charge consumers more for plans that speed up those apps. This isn't just theoretical: Ericsson, a telecommunications vendor that sells equipment to the major carriers, has said the carriers could get more money from gamers by charging "up to $10.99 more for a guaranteed gaming experience on top of their 5G monthly subscription."

[...] The final FCC order released yesterday addresses that complaint.

"We clarify that a BIAS [Broadband Internet Access Service] provider's decision to speed up 'on the basis of Internet content, applications, or services' would 'impair or degrade' other content, applications, or services which are not given the same treatment," the FCC's final order said.

The "impair or degrade" clarification means that speeding up is banned because the no-throttling rule says that ISPs "shall not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of Internet content, application, or service."

[...] In one FCC filing, AT&T promoted network slicing as a way "to better meet the needs of particular business applications and consumer preferences than they could over a best-efforts network that generally treats all traffic the same." AT&T last week started charging mobile customers an extra $7 per month for faster wireless data speeds, but this would likely comply with net neutrality rules because the extra speed applies to all broadband traffic rather than just certain types of online applications.

[...] Broadband providers plan to sue the FCC in an effort to block the regulation.

Previously on SoylentNews:
FCC Restores Net Neutrality Rules that Ban Blocking and Throttling in 3-2 Vote - 20240426
Cable Lobby Vows "Years of Litigation" to Avoid Bans on Blocking and Throttling - 20240404

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday May 10, @06:41AM   Printer-friendly

Three of our community had sent in submissions regarding the solar storms expected to arrive over the weekend. Auroras, weather permitting, will be visible over much of the northern hemisphere. For those of you who like to see such things, or for those of you looking for something different to do, why not get outside and take a look:

Updated flare status

For the first time since October 2003, G5 conditions have been observed. This is described as an extreme geomagnetic storm and is the highest level on NOAA's scale for geomagnetic storms. In addition to reaching G5 conditions, an S2-level solar radiation storm was observed today, and HF radio blackouts at the R3-level have occurred multiple times.

If you're hoping to see auroras, NOAA provides real-time short-range ~30-60 minute forecasts of auroral activity in both the northern and southern hemispheres. There is also a separate dashboard for monitoring disruptions to HF radio.

Solar storms incoming this weekend

Earth prepares for solar storm impact from three CMEs this weekend

Solar activity has reached high levels in the past 24-36 hours, with background flux at or near M1.0. The most significant developments from the Sun include the growth and merging of Regions 3664 and 3668, as well as the production of numerous M-class solar flares and two X-class solar flares from CMEs that are expected to arrive at Earth this weekend.

A particularly volatile sunspot has sent a series of solar storms surging toward the Earth, many of which are due to hit in the next few days.

Sunspot AR3663 released five plumes of solar plasma—coronal mass ejections, or CMEs—in the past day, with the second, third, and fifth being forecast to slam directly into our planet this weekend.

This could lead to "strong" geomagnetic storms in our magnetic field and atmosphere, which could result in auroras being seen as far south as Illinois and Oregon.

auroras incoming!

Auroras will be visible from much of the Northern Hemisphere tonight through Saturday night!

NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center Issues Rare G4 Watch for Incoming CME

NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has issued a rare G4 watch for incoming coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that are expected to arrive as early as 18-21 UTC on Friday. NOAA's scale for geomagnetic storms is based on the planetary K-index, and goes as high as G5. The K-index is a measure of horizontal disturbances in Earth's magnetic field caused by the interaction of the CME with Earth's magnetosphere, and is estimated from observations collected by many ground-based magnetometers.

Although G4 conditions occurred as recently as March 23 of this year, the SWPC has not forecasted G4 conditions since January 2005. The most recent time G5 conditions were reached was during the 2003 Halloween solar storms. In a G4 geomagnetic storm, auroras may be visible at geomagnetic latitudes as low as 45°.

A large cluster of sunspots ejected several CMEs which have merged during their approach to Earth. The incoming geomagnetic storm is currently forecasted to be most severe from 03-12 UTC on Saturday, with the highest planetary K-index expected to be 8.33. Another CME is expected to start impacting Earth around 15 UTC on Saturday, with the geomagnetic storm peaking at G2 conditions between 03-06 UTC on Sunday.

If you'd like to monitor geomagnetic disturbances, there are guides for DIY projects (1, 2, and 3) where you can construct your own magnetometer capable of measuring nanoTesla-scale variations in the magnetic field to monitor for auroras.

Original Submission #1Original Submission #2Original Submission #3Original Submission #4

posted by janrinok on Friday May 10, @06:32AM   Printer-friendly
from the if-at-first-you-dont-succeed dept.

The first crewed flight of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner will be delayed at least another week and a half to replace a faulty valve in its Atlas 5 launch vehicle.

NASA announced late May 7 that the Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission, whose launch was scrubbed May 6 because of a malfunctioning valve in the rocket's Centaur upper stage, had been rescheduled for no earlier than May 17 at 6:16 p.m. Eastern.

[...] The lengthy delay will allow United Launch Alliance to roll the rocket back to its Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) hangar

[...] Tory Bruno, president and chief executive of ULA, said the concern was that the vibration could have caused the valve to approach its rated life of 200,000 cycles. The valve was vibrating at 40 hertz, he noted.

He said then that engineers would examine if those vibrations involved full cycles of the valve. If so, then ULA would have to replace the valve. [...]

[...] The two astronauts flying the CFT mission, Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams, will remain at the Kennedy Space Center in pre-flight quarantine for this latest delay, NASA said.

It's good that they caught a problem like this.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Friday May 10, @01:51AM   Printer-friendly

The next Swiss Army Knife won't have a knife:

The Swiss Army Knife has become such a shorthand for multifunctionality that companies producing does-a-lot-of-stuff wares will often say that their goods are the "Swiss Army Knife" of whatever category they're a part of. You can use the tool to cut stuff, snip stuff, uncork stuff, file stuff, in some cases download stuff.

But Victorinox, the company behind the famous gadget, is working on a Swiss Army Knife without the knife part.

"We are in the early stages of developing pocket tools without blades," a spokesperson for the company told CNN. Though it won't be discontinuing its bladed version, the company has been trying to figure out how to serve customers in places — specifically England and some Asian countries — where knives aren't as welcome a pocket sight than in other markets. The British government, for example, is considering new legislation on carrying blades in public.

The Swiss Army Knife has its roots in 1880s Germany. Then the Swiss Karl Elsener took production over the border. Soon a competitor emerged in the company Wenger, and for a while the Swiss government split its orders for the tools between the two of them. Wenger called its version the "genuine" Swiss Army Knife, and Elsener's Victorinox called its version the "original." The two companies ended up merging in 2005.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday May 09, @07:11PM   Printer-friendly

Nintendo says announcement on Switch successor 'this fiscal year':

Nintendo said Tuesday it will make an announcement about a highly anticipated new console by the end of March 2025 as sales decline of the hugely popular Switch, which is now in its eighth year.

Despite logging a record net profit in the year to March, helped by the weak yen, the game giant expects net profit to drop nearly 40% in the current financial year.

Players and investors have been hungry for news about a successor to the Switch, and the company said a statement was finally forthcoming.

[...] Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Nathan Naidu said before the earnings release that Nintendo consoles typically have a "six-to-seven year lifecycle."

"Given hardware drives about 40% of total sales, its drag on (the) overall top line might extend into fiscal 2025 absent a new gaming gadget," he said.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday May 09, @02:26PM   Printer-friendly

Contact forms are almost always worse for users than just putting an email on your website. I explore why they're terrible, why you've done it anyway, and what to do about it.

Why your contact form sucks

Your contact form is completely broken

It's remarkable how many contact forms are just straight-up broken. A WordPress upgrade here, a change to your CRM there, and your contact form silently breaks.

At time of writing, B&Q's contact form just plainly doesn't work1. I am fairly amazed that a retailer with revenues in the billions doesn't notice written queries have stopped coming in.

[...] Contact forms are hard to get right, and often just a worse experience for everyone involved. Go forth and remove your contact form and list your email on your website now!

[Ed. comment: click through and read the lengthy, but hard to argue against, complaints about web-based contact forms]

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday May 09, @09:39AM   Printer-friendly

Scientists have demonstrated a creative solution to plastic pollution, one of our most pressing environmental problems. Plastic was embedded with spores of plastic-eating bacteria that are activated when dumped in landfill, biodegrading 90% of the material in five months. Weirder still, this actually made the plastic tougher and stronger during use.

Plastic is a strong, versatile material, but the same properties that make it useful also make it hard to dispose of. It famously takes decades or centuries to degrade, so huge amounts of plastic waste are clogging up landfill and oceans.

Intriguingly, it seems like nature is adapting, as it so often does. In recent years scientists discovered bacteria that have evolved the ability to break down plastic, isolated the enzymes that do it, and even ramped up their efficiency. This could potentially make for more efficient recycling centers where plastic is treated with enzymes and bacteria. But what about plastic that doesn't make it to these facilities? Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) is a tough type of plastic commonly used to make things like shoes, sporting goods, phone cases and car parts, but can't currently be recycled.

So for the new study, the team investigated a new potential method to dispose of TPU – embedding spores of the plastic-eating bacteria Bacillus subtilis right into the plastic itself. Ideally, you'd be able to use the plastic products as normal, without them breaking down too early, and only when they were dumped in landfill or natural environments would they start biodegrading.

The first problem to overcome is that the high heat used to produce plastic would kill off most bacterial spores. So the researchers genetically engineered the microbes to withstand that heat, and found that 96 to 100% of the edited bacteria survived at the plastic processing temperature of 135 °C (275 °F), compared to just 20% of unedited bugs.

Next, they tested how well the bacteria would break down the plastic, a process that's triggered by nutrients and moisture in the soil. At concentrations of up to 1% of the plastic's weight, the bacteria broke down over 90% of the material within five months of being buried in compost.

It's easy to assume that giving plastic its own Achille's heel will only make it weaker during use, but it turns out the opposite is true. Plastic made with the spores was found to be up to 37% tougher and had up to 30% higher tensile strength than regular TPU, with the team hypothesizing that the spores act as a reinforcing filler.

Journal Reference:
Kim, H.S., Noh, M.H., White, E.M. et al. Biocomposite thermoplastic polyurethanes containing evolved bacterial spores as living fillers to facilitate polymer disintegration. Nat Commun 15, 3338 (2024).

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday May 09, @04:56AM   Printer-friendly
from the cutting-off-the-VPN-family-jewels dept.

The TunnelVision vulnerability has existed since 2002 and may already be known to attackers:

Researchers have devised an attack against nearly all virtual private network applications that forces them to send and receive some or all traffic outside of the encrypted tunnel designed to protect it from snooping or tampering.

TunnelVision, as the researchers have named their attack, largely negates the entire purpose and selling point of VPNs, which is to encapsulate incoming and outgoing Internet traffic in an encrypted tunnel and to cloak the user's IP address. The researchers believe it affects all VPN applications when they're connected to a hostile network and that there are no ways to prevent such attacks except when the user's VPN runs on Linux or Android. They also said their attack technique may have been possible since 2002 and may already have been discovered and used in the wild since then.

The effect of TunnelVision is "the victim's traffic is now decloaked and being routed through the attacker directly," a video demonstration explained. "The attacker can read, drop or modify the leaked traffic and the victim maintains their connection to both the VPN and the Internet."

The attack works by manipulating the DHCP server that allocates IP addresses to devices trying to connect to the local network. A setting known as option 121 allows the DHCP server to override default routing rules that send VPN traffic through a local IP address that initiates the encrypted tunnel. By using option 121 to route VPN traffic through the DHCP server, the attack diverts the data to the DHCP server itself.

[...] Interestingly, Android is the only operating system that fully immunizes VPN apps from the attack because it doesn't implement option 121. For all other OSes, there are no complete fixes.

Originally spotted on Schneier on Security.

Original Submission

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