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dcblogs writes "Bill Gates and Alan Greenspan, in separate forums, offered outlooks and prescriptions for fixing jobs and income. Gates is concerned that graduates of U.S. secondary schools may not be able stay ahead of software automation. 'These things are coming fast,' said Gates, in an interview with the American Enterprise Institute 'Twenty years from now labor demand for a lots of skill sets will be substantially lower, and I don't think people have that in their mental model.' Meanwhile, former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan believes one way to attack income inequity is to raise the H-1B cap. If the program were expanded, income wouldn't necessarily go down much, but it would go down enough to make an impact. Income inequality is a relative concept, he argued. People who are absolutely at the top of the scale in 1925, for instance, would be getting food stamps today, said Greenspan. 'You don't have to necessarily bring up the bottom if you bring the top down.'"
sciencehabit writes "Measuring just 4880 kilometers across, Mercury is a small world. The planet became slightly smaller as its interior cooled, which caused Mercury to shrink, buckling its surface and creating numerous cliffs and ridges. Now, after studying 5934 of these features, researchers report online today in Nature Geoscience that Mercury's contraction was much greater than previously thought: During the past 4 billion years, the planet's diameter decreased by 7 to 14 kilometers. The greater estimate of shrinkage accords with models that predict how much a rocky planet should contract as its interior cools; the new work may also lend insight into the evolution of extrasolar planets that, like Mercury and unlike Earth, lack any moving continents."
hackingbear writes "China e-commerce giant Alibaba Group confirmed early Sunday that it plans to become a public company in the US. The proposed US IPO, which is expected to raise more than $15 billion, is a bid winning over Hong Kong stock exchange, which had been competing for the offering with US stock exchanges but objected to some of Alibaba's proposed listing terms. Founded in 1999 by former English teacher Jack Ma, the Hangzhou, China company, of which Yahoo owns 24%, provides marketplace platforms that allow merchants to sell goods directly to consumers controlling 80% of Internet e-commerce market in China."
An anonymous reader writes "The UK minister for immigration and security, James Brokenshire has called for the government to do more to deal with 'unsavoury', rather than illegal, material online. 'Terrorist propaganda online has a direct impact on the radicalisation of individuals and we work closely with the internet industry to remove terrorist material hosted in the UK or overseas,' Brokenshire told Wired.co.uk in a statement."
An anonymous reader writes "The wisdom of getting a college degree and saddling yourself with a huge amount of debt has been called into question recently, but not by Eric Schmidt. The Google Chairman says it's still worth it, noting that: 'The economic return to higher education over a lifetime produces significant compound greater earnings.' From the article: 'When asked about the difficulty in paying for college, Schmidt was adamant: "I appreciate it's expensive and we need to fix that," he said, but "figure out a way to do it." One potential problem with Schmidt's statement is that it was an argument for the average student. It may be more advantageous for students at the bottom and top quartiles of the talent distribution to go straight into the workforce (or get vocational training). Case in point, Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college, and I don't think anybody would say he made a mistake.'"
puddingebola writes "From his New York Times Obituary, 'Had Jack A. Kinzler not built model planes as a boy, had he not visited the post office as a youth and had he not, as a grown man, purchased four fishing rods at $12.95 apiece, Skylab — the United States' $2.5 billion space station — would very likely have been forfeit.' An excellent obit from the NYT, recounting the story of how Kinzler saved the Skylab mission with a telescoping parasol to patch a damaged heat shield. An inventive thinker and tinkerer, Mr. Kinzler was also responsible for the flags and plaques placed during the Apollo mission."
theodp writes "Over at Slate, Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter argues that Google's anti-copyright stance is just a way to devalue content, which is bad for artists and bad for consumers. The screed is Sutter's response to an earlier anti-copyright rant in Slate penned by a lawyer who represents Google and is a Fellow at the New America Foundation, a public policy institute chaired by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt that receives funding from Schmidt and Google. 'Everyone is aware that Google has done amazing things to revolutionize our Internet experience,' writes Sutter. 'And I'm sure Mr. and Mrs. Google are very nice people. But the big G doesn't contribute anything to the work of creatives. Not a minute of effort or a dime of financing. Yet Google wants to take our content, devalue it, and make it available for criminals to pirate for profit. Convicted felons like Kim Dotcom generate millions of dollars in illegal revenue off our stolen creative work. People access Kim through Google. And then, when Hollywood tries to impede that thievery, it's presented to the masses as a desperate attempt to hold on to antiquated copyright laws that will kill your digital buzz. It's so absurd that Google is still presenting itself as the lovable geek who's the friend of the young everyman. Don't kid yourself, kids: Google is the establishment. It is a multibillion-dollar information portal that makes dough off of every click on its page and every data byte it streams. Do you really think Google gives a s**t about free speech or your inalienable right to access unfettered content? Nope. You're just another revenue resource Google can access to create more traffic and more data streams. Unfortunately, those streams are now pristine, digital ones of our work, which all flow into a huge watershed of semi-dirty cash. If you want to know more about how this works, just Google the word "parasite."'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Benedict Carey reports at the NYT that the uncertainties surrounding Malaysia Airlines Flight 370's disappearance are enormous, but naval strategists have been unraveling lost-at-sea mysteries as far back as the U-boat battles of World War II, and perhaps most dramatically in 1968, when an intelligence team found the submarine Scorpion, which sank in the North Atlantic after losing contact under equally baffling circumstances. "The same approach we used with Scorpion could be applied in this case and should be," says John P. Craven who helped pioneer the use of Bayesian search techniques to locate objects lost at sea. "But you need to begin with the right people." The approach is a kind of crowdsourcing, but not one in which volunteers pored over satellite images, like they have in search of Flight 370. "That effort is akin to good Samaritans combing a forest for a lost child without knowing for certain that the child is there," writes Carey.
Instead, forecasters draw on expertise from diverse but relevant areas — in the case of finding a submarine, say, submarine command, ocean salvage, and oceanography experts, as well as physicists and engineers. Each would make an educated guess as to where the ship is, based on different scenarios: the sub was attacked; a torpedo activated onboard; a battery exploded. Craven's work was instrumental in the Navy's search for the missing hydrogen bomb that had been lost in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Spain in 1966 and this is how Craven located the Scorpion. "I knew these guys and I gave probability scores to each scenario they came up with," says Craven. The men bet bottles of Chivas Regal to keep matters interesting, and after some statistical analysis, Craven zeroed in on a point about 400 miles from the Azores, near the Sargasso Sea. The sub was found about 200 yards away.
In the case of the downed Malaysian plane, forecasters might bring in climate and ocean scientists, engineers who worked on building the plane's components and commercial pilots familiar with the route. Those specialists would then make judgments based on the scenarios already discussed as possible causes for the disappearance of Flight 370: terrorism, pilot error, sudden depressurization and engine failure. Sound-detection technology in and around the Indian Ocean may aid this forecasting. The sound of the airliner's fall — if it hit the water — might already have been picked up by submarines watching each other. "In that case the information would be classified," says former submarine commander Alfred Scott McLare, "and we wouldn't know anything until it was released through back channels somehow.""
destinyland writes "Hoping to inspire life-extending medical research, science fiction author Gennady Stolyarov has launched a campaign to give away 1,000 free copies of his transhumanist picture book for children, Death is Wrong. 'My greatest fear about the future is not of technology running out of control or posing existential risks to humankind,' he explains. 'Rather, my greatest fear is that, in the year 2045, I will be...wondering, "What happened to that Singularity we were promised by now...?"' Along with recent scientific discoveries, the book tells its young readers about long-lived plants and animals '"that point the way toward lengthening lifespans in humans,' in an attempt to avoid a future where children 'would pay no more attention to technological progress and life-extension possibilities than their predecessors did.'"
coondoggie writes "The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has moved along a project it says would use hot-spot enabled drones to bring wireless communications to even the most distant and harsh environments. The project known as Fixed Wireless at a Distance is designed specifically to overcome the challenge inherent with cell communication in remote areas and this week the agency awarded L-3 $16.4 million to support the next iteration of the system."
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Department of Education has released a proposal for new regulations that would hold colleges that receive federal student aid accountable for the employment success of their graduates. The overhaul is prompted by the fact that students from for-profit colleges account for nearly 50% of all loan defaults yet only account for about 13% of the total higher education population. '[O]f the for-profit gainful employment programs the Department could analyze and which could be affected by [the proposed regulations], the majority--72%--produced graduates who on average earned less than high school dropouts.'"
sciencehabit writes "When we talk about the human microbiome, bacteria usually get all the press. But microscopic fungi live in and on us, too. New research shows that a little-known fungus called Pichia lives in healthy mouths and may play an important role in protecting us from an infection caused by the harmful fungus Candida. The friendly fungus makes a substance that may even lead to a new anti-fungal drug."
An anonymous reader writes "Government-funded science is struggling in the United States. With the unstable economy over the past decade and the growing hostility to science in popular rhetoric, basic research money is getting hard to find. Part of the gap is being filled by billionaire philanthropists. Steven Edwards of the American Association for the Advancement of Science says, 'For better or worse, the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money.' Vast amounts of research are now driven by names like Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, David Koch, and Eric Schmidt. While this helps in some ways, it can hurt in others. 'Many of the patrons, they say, are ignoring basic research — the kind that investigates the riddles of nature and has produced centuries of breakthroughs, even whole industries — for a jumble of popular, feel-good fields like environmental studies and space exploration. ... Fundamentally at stake, the critics say, is the social contract that cultivates science for the common good.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Earlier this week, Respawn Entertainment launched Titanfall, a futuristic first-person shooter with mechs that has been held up as the poster child for the Xbox One. The Digital Foundry blog took the opportunity to compare how the game plays on the Xbox One to its performance on a well-appointed PC. Naturally, the PC version outperforms, but the compromises are bigger than you'd expect for a newly-released console. For example, it runs at an odd resolution (1408x792), the frame rate 'clearly isn't anywhere near locked' to 60fps, and there's some unavoidable screen tear. Reviews for the game are generally positive — RPS says most of the individual systems in Titanfall are fun, but the forced multiplayer interaction is offputting. Giant Bomb puts it more succinctly: 'Titanfall is a very specific game built for a specific type of person.' Side note: the game has a 48GB install footprint on PCs, owing largely to 35GB of uncompressed audio."
Daniel_Stuckey writes "With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's Reinvent the Toilet challenge, [a] team has developed a toilet that uses concentrated solar power to scorch and disinfect human waste, turning feces into a useful byproduct called biochar ... a sanitary charcoal material that is good for soils and agriculture. By converting solid waste to biochar (liquid waste is diverted elsewhere, as it's easier to deal with), the toilet thus allows for sanitary waste disposal without huge infrastructure investments. The toilet itself, called the Sol-Char, is a fascinating bit of engineering. In order to sanitize waste without the help of massive treatment facilities, Linden's team instead designed the toilet to scorch waste in a chamber heated by fiber optic cables that pipe in heat from solar collectors on the toilet's roof. 'A solar concentrator has all this light focused in on one centimeter. It'd be fine if we could bring everyone's fecal waste up to that one point, like burning it with a magnifying glass,' Linden said. 'But that's not practical, so we were thinking of other ways to concentrate that light.'"