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sciencehabit writes China's Ministry of Agriculture has decided not to renew biosafety certificates that allowed research groups to grow genetically modified (GM) rice and corn. The permits, to grow two varieties of GM rice and one transgenic corn strain, expired on 17 August. The reasoning behind the move is not clear, and it has raised questions about the future of related research in China.
ashshy writes Argonne National Lab is leading the charge on next-generation battery research. In an interview with The Motley Fool, Argonne spokesman Jeff Chamberlain explains how new lithium ion chemistries will drive down the cost of electric cars over the next few years. "The advent of lithium ion has truly enabled transportation uses," Chamberlain said. "Because if you remember your freshman chemistry, you think of the periodic table -- lithium is in the upper left-hand corner of the periodic table. Only hydrogen and helium are lighter on an atomic basis."
mdsolar writes that a study suggests that tuberculosis first appeared in the New World less than 6,000 years ago and it was brought here by seals. After a remarkable analysis of bacterial DNA from 1,000-year-old mummies, scientists have proposed a new hypothesis for how tuberculosis arose and spread around the world. The disease originated less than 6,000 years ago in Africa, they say, and took a surprising route to reach the New World: it was carried across the Atlantic by seals. The new study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, has already provoked strong reactions from other scientists. "This is a landmark paper that challenges our previous ideas about the origins of tuberculosis," said Terry Brown, a professor of biomolecular archaeology at the University of Manchester. "At the moment, I'm still in the astonished stage over this."
MojoKid writes We're often told that having a kill switch in our mobile devices — mostly our smartphones — is a good thing. At a basic level, that's hard to disagree with. If every mobile device had a built-in kill switch, theft would go down — who would waste their time over a device that probably won't work for very long? Here's where the problem lays: It's law enforcement that's pushing so hard for these kill switches. We first learned about this last summer, and this past May, California passed a law that requires smartphone vendors to implement the feature. In practice, if a smartphone has been stolen, or has been somehow compromised, its user or manufacturer would be able to remotely kill off its usability, something that would be reversed once the phone gets back into its rightful owner's hands. However, such functionality should be limited to the device's owner, and no one else. If the owner can disable a phone with nothing but access to a computer or another mobile device, so can Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia or Apple. If the designers of a phone's operating system can brick a phone, guess who else can do the same? Everybody from the NSA to your friendly neighborhood police force, that's who. At most, all they'll need is a convincing argument that they're acting in the interest of "public safety."
schwit1 writes: Scientists have found that, despite a complete ban since 2007, ozone-depleting chemicals are still being pumped into the atmosphere from some unknown source. "Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), which was once used in applications such as dry cleaning and as a fire-extinguishing agent, was regulated in 1987 under the Montreal Protocol along with other chlorofluorocarbons that destroy ozone and contribute to the ozone hole over Antarctica. Parties to the Montreal Protocol reported zero new CCl4 emissions between 2007-2012. However, the new research shows worldwide emissions of CCl4 average 39 kilotons (about 43,000 U.S. tons) per year, approximately 30 percent of peak emissions prior to the international treaty going into effect. "We are not supposed to be seeing this at all," said Qing Liang, an atmospheric scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the study published online in the Aug. 18 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. "It is now apparent there are either unidentified industrial leakages, large emissions from contaminated sites, or unknown CCl4 sources."
Today's videos are parts three and four of our casual interview with Tim O'Reilly, founder of O'Reilly Media and one of the most influential open source boosters around. (You supplied the questions. He supplied the answers.) We had a lot more to say about Tim yesterday when we ran parts one and two of our video interview with him. (Today's alternate Video Links: Video 3 ~ Video 4; transcript covers both videos.)
An anonymous reader writes eBooks are great and wonderful, but as The Guardian reports, they might not be as good for readers as paper books. Results from a new study show that test subjects who read a story on a Kindle had trouble recalling the proper order of the plot events. Out of 50 test subjects, half read a 28-page story on the Kindle, while half read the same story on paper. The Kindle group scored about the same on comprehension as the control group, but when they were asked to put the plot points in the proper order, the Kindle group was about twice as likely to get it wrong.
So, is this bad news for ebooks? Have we reached the limits of their usefulness? Not necessarily. While there is evidence that enhanced ebooks don't enhance education, an older study from 2012 showed that students who study with an e-textbook on an ebook reader actually scored as well or higher on tests than a control group who did not. While that doesn't prove the newer research wrong, it does suggest that further study is required. What has your experience been with both recall and enjoyment when reading ebooks?
msm1267 writes: The keepers of Tor commissioned a study testing the defenses and viability of their Firefox-based browser as a privacy tool. The results (PDF) were a bit eye-opening since the report's recommendations don't favor Firefox as a baseline for Tor, rather Google Chrome. But Tor's handlers concede that budget constraints and Chrome's limitations on proxy support make a switch or a fork impossible.
darthcamaro writes: Linux has clawed its way into lots of places these days. But at the LinuxCon conference in Chicago today Linus Torvalds was asked where Linux should go next. Torvalds didn't hesitate with his reply. "I still want the desktop," Torvalds said, as the audience erupted into boisterous applause. Torvalds doesn't see the desktop as being a kernel problem at this point, either, but rather one about infrastructure. While not ready to declare a "Year of the Linux Desktop" he still expects that to happen — one day.
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from UC San Diego, University of Michigan, and Johns Hopkins say they've found security vulnerabilities in full-body backscatter X-ray machines deployed to U.S. airports between 2009 and 2013. In lab tests, the researchers were able to conceal firearms and plastic explosive simulants from the Rapiscan Secure 1000 scanner, plus modify the scanner software so it presents an "all-clear" image to the operator even when contraband was detected. "Frankly, we were shocked by what we found," said lead researcher J. Alex Halderman. "A clever attacker can smuggle contraband past the machines using surprisingly low-tech techniques."
New submitter NBSCALIDBA writes: Eeva Haaramo reports on Helsinki's ambitious plan to transform city transportation. From on-demand buses to city bikes to Kutsuplus mini-transport vans, the Finnish capital is trying to change the whole concept of getting around in a city. "Under the plan, all these services will be accessed through a single online platform. People will be able to buy their transport in service packages that work like mobile phone tariffs: either as a complete monthly deal or pay as you go options based on individual usage. Any number of companies can use the platform to offer transport packages, and if users find their travel needs change, they'll be able to switch packages or moved to a rival with a better deal."
bmahersciwriter (2955569) writes Scientific reports have increasingly linked the bacteria in your gut to health and maladies, often making wild-sounding claims. Did you hear about the mice who were given fecal transplants from skinny humans and totally got skinny! Well, some of the more gut-busting results might not be as solid as they seem. Epidemiologist Bill Hanage offers five critical questions to ask when confronted by the latest microbiome research.
Via TorrentFreak comes news that Google is now being asked to remove one million links per day (or an average of one takedown notice every 8ms). In 2008, they received one takedown request approximately every six days. From the article: The massive surge in removal requests is not without controversy. It’s been reported that some notices reference pages that contain no copyrighted material, due to mistakes or abuse, but are deleted nonetheless. Google has a pretty good track record of catching these errors, but since manual review of all links is unachievable, some URLs are removed in error. ... The issue has also piqued the interest of U.S. lawmakers. Earlier this year the House Judiciary Subcommittee had a hearing on the DMCA takedown issue, and both copyright holders, Internet service providers, and other parties are examining what they can do to optimize the process. In the meantime, the number of removal requests is expected to rise and rise, with 10 million links per week being the next milestone.
New submitter Randy-tanner (3791853) writes A well known New York architect & contractor has begun construction on what is possibly the largest 3D printing related project ever undertaken. He is 3D printing an entire estate, which includes an in-ground swimming pool, a pool house, and a huge 2400 square foot home. The project is expected to take two years to complete, and if all goes as planned the printer will automatically insert rebar into the concrete.
Digia has announced that existing Qt modules will now be covered under the LGPLv3 in addition to the LGPLv2.1, GPLv3, and the enterprise (proprietary) license. New modules will be dropping LGPLv2.1 and GPLv3+ and be released under the LGPLv3 and GPLv2+ instead. This should be a good move: new Qt modules will be Apache license compatible, LGPLv3 code can trivially be converted to GPLv3, and Digia is even releasing a few modules it intended to make proprietary as Free Software. The KDE Free Qt Foundation is on board. The move was made because of device vendors exploiting a loophole in the GPLv2/LGPLv2.1 that denied users the right to modify Qt or write their own applications. Digia has some self-interest as well, since those vendors were exploiting the tivoization loophole to avoid buying enterprise licenses. From the announcement:
We also consider locked-down consumer devices using the LGPL’ed version of Qt to be harmful for the Qt ecosystem. ... Because of this, we are now adding LGPL v3 as a licensing option to Qt 5.4 in addition to LGPL v2.1. All modules that are part of Qt 5.3 are currently released under LGPL v2.1, GPL v3 and the commercial license. Starting with Qt 5.4, they will be released under LGPL v2.1, LGPL v3 and the commercial license. ... In Qt 5.4, the new Qt WebEngine module will be released under LGPL v3 in the open source version and under a LGPLv2.1/commercial combination for Qt Enterprise customers. ...
Adding LGPLv3 will also allow us to release a few other add-ons that Digia before intended to make available solely under the enterprise license. ... The first module, called Qt Canvas3D, will give us full WebGL support inside Qt Quick. ... The second module is a lightweight WebView module ... There is a final add-on that will get released under LGPL v3. This module will give native look and feel to the Qt Quick Controls on Android. This module can’t be released under LGPL v2.1, as it has to use code that is licensed under Apache 2.0, a license that is incompatible with LGPL v2.1, but compatible with LGPL v3.
An anonymous reader writes Consumers are inadvertently leaving back doors open to attackers as they share login details and sign up for automatic log on to mobile apps and services, according to new research by Intercede. While 52% of respondents stated that security was a top priority when choosing a mobile device, 51% are putting their personal data at risk by sharing usernames and passwords with friends, family and colleagues. The research revealed that consumers are not only sharing passwords but also potentially putting their personal and sensitive information at risk by leaving themselves logged in to applications on their mobile devices, with over half of those using social media applications and email admitting that they leave themselves logged in on their mobile device.
jrepin (667425) writes Version 3.3 of Kolab.org, a free and open source groupware solution, has been released. It is now possible to add tags to email messages, work with notes right in the webclient, and manage your resources more easily. Kolab.org 3.3 introduces a new folder navigation view that allows you to search and subscribe to shared calendars, address books, task lists etc. directly from within the respective view. The calendar got a quickview mode which allows you to open an undistorted view on a single calendar. The user interface can now be fully operated with the keyboard and has support for screen readers as well as voice output as suggested by the WCAG 2.0 Guidelines and WAI ARIA standards.
stephendavion (2872091) writes Researchers will demonstrate the process used to spy on smartphones using gyroscopes at Usenix Security event on August 22, 2014. Researchers from Stanford and a defense research group at Rafael will demonstrate a way to spy on smartphones using gyroscopes at Usenix Security event on August 22, 2014. According to the "Gyrophone: Recognizing Speech From Gyroscope Signals" study, the gyroscopes integrated into smartphones were sensitive enough to enable some sound waves to be picked up, transforming them into crude microphones.
An anonymous reader writes: The Heartbleed vulnerability is the cause of the data breach at Community Health Systems, which resulted in 4.5 million records (containing patient data) being compromised. According to a blog post from TrustedSec, the attackers targeted a vulnerable Juniper router and obtained credentials, which allowed them access to the network's VPN.
walterbyrd sends this story from Vox: Everyone agrees that there's been an explosion of patent litigation in recent years, and that lawsuits from non-practicing entities (NPEs) — known to critics as patent trolls — are a major factor. But there's a big debate about whether trolls are creating a drag on innovation — and if so, how big the problem is. A new study (PDF) by researchers at Harvard and the University of Texas provides some insight on this question. Drawing from data on litigation, R&D spending, and patent citations, the researchers find that firms that are forced to pay NPEs (either because they lost a lawsuit or settled out of court) dramatically reduce R&D spending: losing firms spent $211 million less on R&D, on average, than firms that won a lawsuit against a troll. "After losing to NPEs, firms significantly reduce R&D spending — both projects inside the firm and acquiring innovative R&D outside the firm," the authors write. "Our evidence suggests that it really is the NPE litigation event that causes this decrease in innovation."
An anonymous reader writes: The folks in charge of the Mars rover Curiosity have been trying to solve an increasingly urgent problem: what to do about unexpected wheel damage. The team knew from the start that wear and tear on the wheels would slowly accumulate, but they've been surprised at how quickly the wheels have degraded over the past year. Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society blog has posted a detailed report on the team's conclusions as to what's causing the damage and how they can mitigate it going forward. Quoting: "The tears result from fatigue. You know how if you bend a metal paper clip back and forth repeatedly, it eventually snaps? Well, when the wheels are driving over a very hard rock surface — one with no sand — the thin skin of the wheels repeatedly bends. The wheels were designed to bend quite a lot, and return to their original shape. But the repeated bending and straightening is fatiguing the skin, causing it to fracture in a brittle way. The bending doesn't happen (or doesn't happen as much) if the ground gives way under the rover's weight, as it does if it's got the slightest coating of sand on top of rock. It only happens when the ground is utterly impervious to the rover's weight — hard bedrock. The stresses from metal fatigue are highest near the tips of the chevron features, and indeed a lot of tears seem to initiate close to the chevron features."
Elledan writes: Federal investigators in California have requested that BrightSource — owner of thermal solar plants — halt the construction of more (and bigger) plants until their impact on wildlife has been further investigated. "Unlike many other solar plants, the Ivanpah plant does not generate energy using photovoltaic solar panels. Instead, it has more than 300,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door. Together, they cover 1,416 hectares. Each mirror collects and reflects solar rays, focusing and concentrating solar energy from their entire surfaces upward onto three boiler towers, each looming up to 40 stories high. The solar energy heats the water inside the towers to produce steam, which turns turbines that generate enough electricity for 140,000 homes." The concentrated solar energy chars and incinerates the feathers of passing birds. BrightSource estimates about a thousand bird die this way every year, but an environmental group claims the real number is much higher.