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Zothecula writes If you're going to deploy robots in biological settings – for example, inside the body – it makes a lot of sense to build those robots out of actual biological body parts. Muscle, for example, is a very effective, biodegradable replacement for an electric actuator that can run in a nutrient-rich fluid without the need for any other power source. Bio-robotics experts in Illinois have demonstrated a bio-bot built from 3-D printed hydrogel and spinal muscle tissue that can "walk" in response to an electrical signal. Their next step will be trying to incorporate neurons that can get the bot walking in different directions when faced with different stimuli.
First time accepted submitter Franz Struwig writes "MAKE Magazine has a great review of a bicycle radar product — showing off some of the early prototype innards: "The latest version features a 24 GHz radar antenna — high enough to resolve more targets and small enough to fit on a bike — an ARM processor, and Bluetooth LE to communicate with the front unit. The radar creates a doppler map, and recognizes not only the vehicle, but how far away it is and how quickly it’s approaching. It communicates this to the cyclist by a system of LEDs, and to the car by increasing the rate at which the tail light blinks as the car gets closer."
bmahersciwriter writes The news team at the scientific journal Nature turns its investigative power on the journal itself. The goal: to try and understand how two papers that made extraordinary claims about a new way to create stem cells managed to get published despite some obvious errors and a paucity of solid evidence. The saga behind these so-called STAP cells is engaging, but sadly reminiscent of so many other scientific controversies.
mask.of.sanity writes Forensics and industry experts have cast doubt on an alleged National Security Agency capability to locate whistle blowers appearing in televised interviews based on how the captured background hum of electrical devices affects energy grids. Divining information from electrified wires is a known technique: Network Frequency Analysis (ENF) is used to prove video and audio streams have not been tampered with, but experts weren't sure if the technology could be used to locate individuals.
KentuckyFC writes Stars form when clouds of gas and dust collapse under their own gravity, generating enough heat and pressure to fuse the atoms inside them together. When this cloud of dust and gas is the remnants of a supernova, it can contain all kinds of heavy elements in addition to primordial hydrogen, helium and lithium. Now one astrophysicist has calculated that a recently discovered phenomenon of turbulence, called preferential concentration, can profoundly alter star formation. He points out that turbulence is essentially vortices rotating on many scales of time and space. On certain scales, the inertial forces these eddies create can push heavy particles into the calmer space between the vortices, thereby increasing their concentration. In giant clouds of interstellar gas, this concentrates heavy elements, increasing their gravitational field, attracting more mass and so on. The result is the formation of a star that is made entirely of heavy elements rather than primordial ones. Astrophysicists call the amount of heavy elements in a star its "metallicity". Including preferential concentration in the standard model of star formation leads to the prediction that 1 in 10,000 stars should be totally metal. Now the race is on to find the first of this new class of entirely metal stars.
v3rgEz (125380) writes A month before Comcast's announcement of a $45B takeover of rival Time-Warner, Comcast's top lobbyist invited the US government's top antitrust regulators to share the company's VIP box at the Sochi Olympics. A Freedom of Information Act request from Muckrock reveals that the regulators reluctantly declined, saying "it sounds like so much fun" but the pesky "rules folks" would frown on it, instead suggesting a more private dinner later.
This is an interview with Duolingo engineer Franklin Ditzler. He's not a smooth marketing guy getting all rah-rah about the company and what it does, just a coder who enjoys his job and seems to like where he works and what he's doing. Note that Duolingo is a free language teaching tool, and they seem determined to keep it free for language students by selling crowdsourced translation services to companies like CNN and BuzzFeed.
Duolingo founder and CEO Luis von Ahn is an associate professor in the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Science Department, and was one of the original developers behind reCAPTCHA. Google acquired ReCAPTCHA in 2009 for "an undisclosed sum," a bit of history that led TechCrunch to speculate back in 2011 that Google would buy Duolingo within six months -- which didn't happen. But don't despair. It's still possible that Google (or another big company) might absorb Duolingo. We'll just have to wait and see -- and possibly improve our foreign language skills while we wait. (Alternate Video Link)
realized (2472730) writes "In nine cases in 2013, state police were unable to break the encryption used by criminal suspects they were investigating, according to an annual report on law enforcement eavesdropping released by the U.S. court system on Wednesday. That's more than twice as many cases as in 2012, when police said that they'd been stymied by crypto in four cases—and that was the first year they'd ever reported encryption preventing them from successfully surveilling a criminal suspect. Before then, the number stood at zero."
New submitter DaveSmith1982 writes with word from PV Tech that A property tax exemption for solar power systems in California has been extended to 2025, following the passing of a bill as part of the annual state budget. Senate Bill 871 (SB871) was approved during the signing of the budget by governor Jerry Brown, which took place last week. The wording of SB871 extends the period during which property taxes will not be applied to "active solar energy systems," which includes PV and solar water heaters.
wiredmikey (1824622) writes "Security researchers have found a way to disable the protection systems provided by the latest version of Microsoft's Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET), a software tool designed to prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited by using various mitigation technologies. Others have managed to bypass EMET in the past, but researchers from Offensive Security have focused on disarming EMET, rather than on bypassing mitigations, as this method gives an attacker the ability use generic shellcodes such as the ones generated by Metasploit. The researchers managed to disarm EMET and get a shell after finding a global variable in the .data section of the EMET.dll file. Initially, they only managed to get a shell by executing the exploit with a debugger attached, due to EMET's EAF checks. However, they've succeeded in getting a shell outside the debugger after disarming EAF with a method described by security researcher Piotr Bania in January 2012. The researchers tested their findings on Windows 7, Internet Explorer 8 and EMET 4.1 update 1."
New submitter marxmarv writes If you search the web for communications security information, or read online tech publications like Linux Journal or BoingBoing, you might be a terrorist. The German publication Das Erste disclosed a crumb of alleged XKeyScore configuration, with the vague suggestion of more source code to come, showing that Tor directory servers and their users, and as usual the interested and their neighbor's dogs due to overcapture, were flagged for closer monitoring. Linux Journal, whose domain is part of a listed selector, has a few choice words on their coveted award. Would it be irresponsible not to speculate further?
New submitter thittesd0375 (1111917) writes New rules adopted by the FCC will greatly limit the amount of bandwidth available in the unlicensed U-NII band used to deliver internet to rural areas. The filters required to comply with the new rules would shrink the available frequencies from 125MHz to only 45MHz. Petitions to reconsider this ruling can be submitted here and previous petitions can be found here.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from TechDirt: Three years ago we wrote about how Austrian police had seized computers from someone running a Tor exit node. This kind of thing happens from time to time, but it appears that folks in Austria have taken it up a notch by... effectively now making it illegal to run a Tor exit node. According to the report, which was confirmed by the accused, the court found that running the node violated 12 of the Austrian penal code, which effectively says:"Not only the immediate perpetrator commits a criminal action, but also anyone who appoints someone to carry it out, or anyone who otherwise contributes to the completion of said criminal action." In other words, it's a form of accomplice liability for criminality. It's pretty standard to name criminal accomplices liable for "aiding and abetting" the activities of others, but it's a massive and incredibly dangerous stretch to argue that merely running a Tor exit node makes you an accomplice that "contributes to the completion" of a crime. Under this sort of thinking, Volkswagen would be liable if someone drove a VW as the getaway car in a bank robbery. It's a very, very broad interpretation of accomplice liability, in a situation where it clearly does not make sense.
tobiasly (524456) writes I run a few websites which are occasionally the target of bogus DMCA takedown requests. Even a cursory look at these requests would reveal that the content these requests try to have removed are not even eligible for copyright (for example, someone named "John Smith" decides he wants to have every instance of his name removed from the internet, so he claims he has a copyright on "John Smith", and the comment section of my website has that name somewhere.) I'm guessing most webmasters of sites with significant traffic face this problem, but I'm having difficulty finding information on domain registrars' and hosting providers' DMCA response policies. Most seem to over-react and require an official counter-response. I'm worried I'll miss one of these someday and find that my entire domain was suspended as a result. Both my domain registrar and hosting provider have forwarded these notices in the past. I'm also worried that they're forwarding my response (including personal details) to the original complainant. Which domain registrars and hosting providers have you found who handle these complaints in a reasonable manner, and filter out the ones that are obviously bogus? Which ones have a clearly stated policy regarding these requests, and respect the site owner's privacy? Some of these domains are .us TLD, which unfortunately will limit my choice to U.S.-based companies.
AthanasiusKircher (1333179) writes The story is classic: Boy meets Girl. Boy likes Girl. Boy goes on the internet and writes about his fantasies that involve killing and eating Girl. Boy goes to jail. In this case, the man in question, NYC police officer Gilberto Valle, didn't act on his fantasies — he just shared them in a like-minded internet forum. Yesterday, Valle was released from jail after a judge overturned his conviction on appeal. U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe wrote that Valle was "guilty of nothing more than very unconventional thoughts... We don't put people in jail for their thoughts. We are not the thought police and the court system is not the deputy of the thought police." The judge concluded that there was insufficient evidence, since "this is a conspiracy that existed solely in cyberspace" and "no reasonable juror could have found that Valle actually intended to kidnap a woman... the point of the chats was mutual fantasizing about committing acts of sexual violence on certain women." (A New York magazine article covered the details of the case and the implications of the original conviction earlier this year.)
jfruh (300774) writes As social networks proliferated in the early '10s, so did the idea of a corporate social network — a Facebook-like community on an intranet where employees could interact. Unfortunately, corporate users are staying away in droves, perceiving the systems as one more in-box they'd have to take care of and getting their social-networking fix from Facebook and the like. From what I've seen of these internal networks, another good reason is that they're not as good as the full-time social networks are, and offer access only to a small universe of particpants anyhow. They're like a central-casting "rock band" in '80s movies — they come off as conspicuously aping the real thing.
An anonymous reader writes "I work for a huge company. We use SAS all the time for everything, which is great if you have a bunch of non-programmer employees and you want them to do data analysis and build models... but it ends up stifling any real innovation, and I worry we will get left behind. Python and R both seem to be emerging stars in the data science game, so I would like to steer us towards one of them. What compelling arguments can you give that would help an old company change its standard if that company is pretty set in its ways?"
RockDoctor (15477) writes The Guardian is reporting that a Finnish heat of an international gaming competition is being segregated into male and female branches in accordance to international rules. The International e-Sports Federation (IeSF) want "eSports" to be recognised as equivalent to physical sports. And that, it seems, requires that competitors be segregated on grounds of sex. Which may be appropriate for pole vaulters, but not necessarily appropriate for ePole vaulters. This leaves the organisers of national heats of eSports in a rather invidious position of having (in this case) a tournament only open to "Finnish male players." Update: 07/03 14:38 GMT by T : As several readers point out in the comments, this policy has been abruptly reversed.
rudy_wayne (414635) writes A Goldman Sachs contractor was testing internal changes made to Goldman Sachs system and prepared a report with sensitive client information, including details on brokerage accounts. The report was accidentally e-mailed to a 'gmail.com' address rather than the correct 'gs.com' address. Google told Goldman Sachs on June 26 that it couldn't just reach into Gmail and delete the e-mail without a court order. Goldman Sachs filed with the New York Supreme Court, requesting "emergency relief" to avoid a privacy violation and "avoid the risk of unnecessary reputational damage to Goldman Sachs."
Graculus (3653645) writes Budgetmakers in the U.S. Senate have moved to halt U.S. participation in ITER, the huge international fusion experiment now under construction in Cadarache, France, that aims to demonstrate that nuclear fusion could be a viable source of energy. Although the details are not available, Senate sources confirm a report by Physics Today that the Senate's version of the budget for the Department of Energy (DOE) for fiscal year 2015, which begins 1 October, would provide just $75 million for the United States' part of the project. That would be half of what the White House had requested and just enough to wind down U.S. involvement in ITER. According to this story from April, the U.S. share of the ITER budget has jumped to "$3.9 billion — roughly four times as much as originally estimated." (That's a pretty big chunk; compare it, say, to NASA's entire annual budget.)
redletterdave (2493036) writes Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said the company's experiment designed to purposefully manipulate the emotions of its users was communicated "poorly". Sandberg's public comments, which were the first from any Facebook executive following the discovery of the one-week psychological study, were made while attending a meeting with small businesses in India that advertise on Facebook. "This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was," Sandberg said. "It was poorly communicated. And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you." anavictoriasaavedra points out this article that questions how much of this outrage over an old press release is justified and what's lead to the media frenzy. Sometimes editors at media outlets get a little panicked when there's a big story swirling around and they haven't done anything with it. It all started as a largely ignored paper about the number of positive and negative words people use in Facebook posts. Now it's a major scandal. The New York Times connected the Facebook experiment to suicides. The story was headlined, Should Facebook Manipulate Users, and it rests on the questionable assumption that such manipulation has happened. Stories that ran over the weekend raised serious questions about the lack of informed consent used in the experiment, which was done by researchers at Cornell and Facebook and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But to say Facebook’s slight alteration of news feeds caused people to suffer depression seems to be unsupported by any kind of data or logic.
mdsolar writes with news about the cleanup of the site that exposed Harold McCluskey to the highest dose of radiation from americium ever recorded. Workers are finally preparing to enter one of the most dangerous rooms in the world — the site of a 1976 blast in the United States that exposed a technician to a massive dose of radiation and led to his nickname: the "Atomic Man." Harold McCluskey, then 64, was working in the room at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation when a chemical reaction caused a glass glove box to explode. He was exposed to the highest dose of radiation from the chemical element americium ever recorded — 500 times the occupational standard. Hanford, located in central Washington state, made plutonium for nuclear weapons for decades. The room was used to recover radioactive americium, a byproduct of plutonium. Covered with blood, McCluskey was dragged from the room and put into an ambulance headed for the decontamination center. Because he was too hot to handle, he was removed by remote control and transported to a steel-and-concrete isolation tank. During the next five months, doctors laboriously extracted tiny bits of glass and razor-sharp pieces of metal embedded in his skin. Nurses scrubbed him down three times a day and shaved every inch of his body every day. The radioactive bathwater and thousands of towels became nuclear waste.
Zothecula writes Rising atmospheric CO2 levels can generally be tackled in three ways: developing alternative energy sources with lower emissions; carbon capture and storage (CCS); and capturing carbon and repurposing it. Researchers at Princeton University are claiming to have developed a technique that ticks two of these three boxes by using solar power to convert CO2 into formic acid. With power from a commercially available solar panel provided by utility company Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G), researchers in the laboratory of Princeton professor of chemistry Andrew Bocarsly, working with researchers at New Jersey-based start-up Liquid Light Inc., converted CO2 and water to formic acid (HCOOH) in an electrochemical cell.