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New Proof That the Moon Was Created in a Massive Collision

derekmead Re:Bad title (2 comments)

Yes, that's a mistake. Hope the eds change it if it gets picked up.

about 2 years ago
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Man Dies After Playing Diablo III for 40 Hours

derekmead what's sad about this (1 comments)

is that it doesn't even feel newsy. I mean, it's sad that this guy died, but doesn't it seem to happen rather frequently?

more than 2 years ago
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Virtual Reality Helmet Designed For Deep Space Surgery

derekmead Reptilian shapeshifters (83 comments)

The reptiloids have avoided this problem altogether because whenever they're injured they just change their form into something that isn't injured.

more than 2 years ago

Submissions

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Astronomers find star-inside-star 40 years after first theorized

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a month ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "After 40 years, astronomers have likely found a rather strange celestial body known as a Thorne–ytkow object (TZO), in which a neutron star is absorbed by a red supergiant. Originally predicted in the 1970s, the first non-theoretical TZO was found earlier this year, based on calculations presented in apaper forthcoming in MNRAS .

TZOs were predicted by astronomer Kip Thorne and Anna ytkow, who wasthen postdoctoral fellow at CalTech. The pair imagined what might happen if a neutron star in a binary system merged with its partner red supergiant.

This wouldn’t be like two average stars merging. Neutron stars are the ancient remnants of stars that grew too big and exploded. Their cores remain small—about 12.5 miles—as they shed material out into space. Red supergiants are the largest stars in the galaxy with radii up to 800 times that of our sun, but they aren’t dense."

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Compressive Sensing Camera Has No Lens, Never Needs Focusing

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "If you get annoyed when your pictures of your cat Mopsy end up out of focus, imagine how frustrating out of focus images are in situation that are actually important, like surveillance. Researchers at Bell Labs have a potential solution: a lensless architecture for taking pictures that are never out of focus.

The new camera is based on the concept of compressive sensing, which, as the authors write in a paper available on the arXiv preprint server, makes it "possible to represent an mage by using fewer measurements than the number of pixels." In other words, it develops an image while tossing out superfluous data.

The architecture described by Gang Huang et al. is surprisingly simple: a single pixel sensor that can record three colors of light is arrayed behind an aperture assembly, potential made by an LCD, that can create a matrix of apertures of varying opacity. By using this matrix with multiple apertures to direct light to the sensor, multiple measurements of light data can be conducted at once. And because the sensor images what passes through the flat sensor, and not what's been focused on it through a lens, images physically can't be out of focus. Although, at this stage they aren't very sharp."

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China Took the Clean Energy Lead in 2012

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "According to a new study from Pew Charitable Trusts, China was the world leader in clean energy investment in 2012. The US, meanwhile, saw its grip loosen on many of the clean energy technologies it developed.

According to the research, total clean energy investment totaled $269 billion worldwide last year, a decline from 2011's record high of $302 billion. However, clean energy investment in the Asia and Oceania markets grew by 16 percent to $101 billion. In terms of investment—which is an indicator that a country or region has offered compelling projects, struck a good regulatory balance, and has a strong economy—that makes Asia the epicenter of the global clean energy market.

The Pew researchers thus labeled the US clean energy sector as "underperforming," largely for a trio of reasons. First, China's boom and manufacturing prowess has taken investment away from the US. Second, the US regulatory environment for clean energy is horrifically unstable (as is the regulatory environment as a whole) as politicians battle over budget rhetoric. Finally, the US has failed to capitalize on its innovation prowess and develop its clean energy manufacturing sector to its full potential."

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The FAA Will Let Boeing's 787 Dreamliner Fly Again

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "Having completed intense review of the aircraft's flight systems and functionality, component reliability, two weeks ago Boeing completed testing on the last item on its list, the plane's battery housing. The FAA on Friday approved the new system. That means the 787, which Boeing has continued to build while new battery solutions were developed, will now be able to resume regular flights as soon as workers are able to carry out an overhaul of the planes that need the upgrade.

"FAA approval clears the way for us and the airlines to begin the process of returning the 787 to flight with continued confidence in the safety and reliability of this game-changing new airplane," Jim McNerney, CEO of Boeing, said in a news release announcing the approval."

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Twitter's New #Music App Is Pretty, But Is It Special?

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "Twitter just launched its new recommendation and discovery service, appropriately titled #Music. The app recommends artists to users based on what your friends are listening to, which artists you follow on Twitter, and which musicians are currently trending. The service is partnered with Spotify, iTunes and Rdio so users who subscribe to the third parties can listen to full songs. While #Music is a logical addition to Twitter, and the company boasts that it "will change the way people find music," its recommendation engine is by no means novel or even an improvement from other discovery apps that are currently available."
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Scientists Are Cracking the Primordial Soup Mystery

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "Scientists have had a basic understanding of how life first popped up on Earth for a while. The so-called "primordial soup" was sitting around, stagnant but containing the basic building blocks of life. Then magic happened and we ended up with life. It's that "magic" that has been the sticking point for scientists, but new research from a team of scientists at the University of Leeds has started to shed light on the mystery, explaining just how objects from space might have kindled the reaction that sparked life on Earth.

It's generally accepted that space rocks played an important role in life's genesis on Earth. Meteorites bombarding the planet early in its history delivered some of the necessary materials for life but none brought life as we know it. How inanimate rocks transformed into the building blocks of life has been a mystery.

But this latest research suggests an answer. If meteorites containing phosphorus landed in the hot, acidic pools that surrounded young volcanoes on the early Earth, there could have been a reaction that produced a chemical similar one that's found in all living cells and is vital in producing the energy that makes something alive."

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Hackers Aren't Going to Hijack Planes with a Smartphone

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "A talk given by a security consultant at the Hack In The Box conference in Amsterdam has been making waves for a couple days now, largely because it made bold claims: Hugo Teso, whos also a trained commercial pilot, said hed developed a way to hijack airplanes (as in take over their flight controls) by attacking the planes systems wirelessly using an Android app he developed.

Teso set up a framework to gain access to two aircraft systems that broadcast wirelessly: the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast(ADS-B), which communicates flight, traffic, and weather data back and forth with air traffic controllers; and the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), which essentially sends standardized messages back and forth between pilots and the ground, in some cases automatically so that pilots dont have to spend their time sending in standard reports.

Now, its true that both systems are insecure, and it does have some worrisome implications–for one, perhaps someone could spoof a plane via the ADS-B to warn pilots of a mid-air collision, which would likely cause some chaos on the flight deck. Regardless, that airline systems so susceptible to attacks is certainly is certainly something that needs to be fixed. But the claim that a plane could be remotely controlled–which Teso did simulate in his talk, although the doom hype blame also lies with some media outlets–is pretty much false, for a number of reasons. For one, it's highly unlikely that a wireless attack could even access autopilot systems, which are physically isolated, and even then pilots would have no trouble taking over manual control.

Its unfortunate that the discussion has revolved around "Were all gonna die!" style headlines of hackers crashing planes with cell phones, because the exploits Teso demonstrated are worth examining on their own. Fooling around with ADS-B in particular seems like an area ripe for trouble. But no, turning a plane into a drone with a smartphone won't happen."

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The Solar Industry Is Finally Making More Power Than It Uses

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "Last year was by all accounts a very good year for solar power, with the US market growing 76 percentaccording to the latest stats from the Solar Energy Industries Association, and global capacity doubling since 2010. Theres now roughly 282 gigawatts of solar power, in both its photovoltaic and concentrating forms, installed around the world. Thats a lot of theoretically carbon-free electricity.

But according to new research from Stanford University, published in Environmental Science & Technology, only now is the amount of energy produced by solar power around the world probably surpassing the energy required to make more solar power modules. Thats a big threshold to cross. Just five years ago, the solar power industry consumed 75 percent more energy than it produced.

Heres an even better thing: At the rate installations are going, the energy and carbon debt incurred in making all the solar photovoltaics made to date could be paid off as soon as 2015, and certainly by 2020."

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Fake Academic Journals Are a Very Real Problem

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "Because its become so easy to start a new publication in this new pixel-driven information economy, a new genre of predatory journals is emerging at an alarming rate. The New York Times just published an exposée of sorts on the topic. Its only an exposée of sorts because the scientific community knows about the problem. There are blogs set up to shame the fake journals into halting publishing. There are tutorials online for spotting a fake journal. Theres even a list created and maintained by academic librarian Jeffrey Beall that keeps an eye on all the new fake journals coming out. When Beall started the list in 2010, it had only 20 entries. Now it has over 4,000. The journal Nature even published an entire issue on the problem a couple of weeks ago.So again, scientists know this is a problem. They just dont know how to stop it."
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Meet the PR Guru Who Wants to Help Corporations Write Wikipedia

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "Phil Gomes is a senior vice president with Edelman Digital, the online arm of the world's largest public relations firm. He thinks PR professionals should be spending more time on Wikipedia.

Gomes believes that corporate communications departments should be playing a more active role in shaping companies' profiles across what is the most commonly-accessed source of information about them. He believes this can be done ethically and responsibly, and he believes that it will ultimately lead to more accurate Wikipedia entries.

Corporations managing their brands on Wikipedia is far from a novel concept—Exxon Mobil, Anheuser-Busch, Chevron, the Washington Post Group, and plenty of others have admitted to editing their own Wikipedia pages. But Gomes doesn't think this has to be a bad thing, if proper guidelines are followed, and it's done transparently. That's why Gomes co-founded Corporate Representatives for Ethical Wikipedia Engagement with John Cass in January 2012."

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American Express Taken Down by DDoS, Possibly Related to Global Attacks

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "For at least the past hour, hackers have been hammering the back end of American Express's website with a DDoS attack, and insiders say it's potentially part of the largest attack ever, which made headlines on Wednesday.

According to an American Express employee, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the matter, users haven't been able to log into their accounts since 3:55 pm on Thursday afternoon, a fact that's been confirmed by a flurry of tweets, and that his team believes the attacks may be related to yesterday's global attacks. American Express has since confirmed the attack in a phone call.

The attack is affecting American Express's websites in the United States and abroad. "They are hammering the backend systems that handle bill pay, statements, [and] account summary," said the AmEx employee, who added that some of the company's online ad and content platforms were down too. No user data was compromised, the employee said."

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The ATF Isn't Convinced That 3D-Printed Guns Compare to the Real Thing

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "3D-printing gun parts has taken off, thanks to the likes of Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed. While the technology adds a rather interesting wrinkle to the gun control debate, the ATF currently is pretty hands-off, saying that while 3D-printed gun technology has arrived, it's not good enough yet to start figuring out how to regulate it.

"We are aware of all the 3D printing of firearms and have been tracking it for quite a while," Earl Woodham, spokesperson for the ATF field office in Charlotte, said. "Our firearms technology people have looked at it, and we have not yet seen a consistently reliable firearm made with 3D printing."

A reporter called the ATF's Washington headquarters to get a better idea of what it took to make a gun "consistently reliable," and program manager George Semonick said the guns should be "made to last years or generations." In other words, because 3D-printed guns aren't yet as durable as their metal counterparts, the ATF doesn't yet consider them as much of a concern."

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Doing Hard Time for Hacking Doesn't Actually Require Any Hacking

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "It's hard to know what to make of Andrew Auernheimer. The 27-year-old grey hat, known in the hacker community as "Weev," was sentenced to 41 months in prison and ordered to pay a $75,000 fine to AT&T on Monday morning for his involvement in a 2010 incident involving iPads on the carrier's network. However, as Weev himself points out and tech bloggers confirm, he is being punished as a hacker who never actually did any hacking — not technically speaking, anyways.

So if Weev isn't a hacker, is he another activist, like Aaron Swartz, who's been swept up by too strict hacking laws? Or is he more of a rabblerouser, like Matthew Keys, the Reuters employee who helped Anonymous deface the Los Angeles Times's website? Or is he really a regular old criminal like the court says he is? The ambiguity here places Weev in a growing line-up of digital usual suspects, from Swartz to Keys, boy-men whom the government wants to make examples of and whom the internet freedom community, for better or worse, is eager to embrace as heroes."

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All Eyes Are on WeChat, Including the Chinese Government's

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "If you haven't heard of WeChat, think of it as a better WhatsApp, crossed with the social features of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, mixed with Skype and a walkie-talkie—with a little dash of Grindr on top. (Or bottom, depending on your personal proclivities.) It's taken China by storm. As of January, it had 300 million users. Unsurprisingly, it's attracting a lot of marketing interest: Companies like Starbucks and Nike have already run campaigns on WeChat.

But there's a catch, according to Eveline Chao:

"I started using WeChat a few weeks ago to stay in touch with friends in China, and love it so much that, like the company itself, I'm now trying to get my American friends to download it as well. Problem is, I always feel obligated to add one teeny, little caveat: Even if you're living stateside, there's a chance you'll be surveilled by the Chinese government.""

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China's Next Big Export Will Be Nuclear Reactors

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "Unlike the US, where nuclear reactors are way past their expiration dates and where development and construction of new-generation plant designs has pretty much stalled, China's made a big push into nuclear, and plans to export domestic reactors within a couple years. China's most recent home-built reactor design is called the CAP1400, a 1400 megawatt reactor that features passive cooling. A test and demonstration was opened last year, and the first full-use CAP1400 reactor is scheduled to come online in early 2014.

Assuming construction of a full-capability CAP1400 begins this year, China will ink deals with undisclosed nations to export reactors at some point in the future, according to a report in China Daily. Sun Qin, the chairman of China National Nuclear Corporation, said the only other hurdle is approval from China's State Council, as the country's security inspector has already signed off on the design.

While Sun did not disclose who was thinking about picking up Chinese reactors, he did tell China Daily that CNNC's unconditional credit conditions makes the nuclear option attractive to developing nations, who need efficient sources of energy but don't have nuclear technology–or, in many cases, a whole lot of fossil fuels."
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Scientists Have Re-Cloned Mice to the 25th Generation

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "Dolly's mere existence was profound. It was also unusually short, at just six years. But scientists in Japan announced yesterday they have succeeded in cloning mice using the same technique that created Dolly with more or less perfect results: The mice are healthy, they live just as long as regular mice, and they’ve been flawlessly cloned and recloned from the same source to the 25th generation.

Researchers claim it's the first example of seamless, repeat cloning using the Dolly method—known as “somatic cell nuclear transfer” (SCNT)—in which the nucleus from an adult source animal is transferred to an egg with its nucleus removed. Until recently, the process was fraught with failures and mutations. But the team led by Teruhiko Wakayama, whose results were published today in the journal Cell Stem Cell, was able to create 581 clones from the same original mouse.

Scientists, including Dolly’s creator, have long felt the process was still too unstable—and too wasteful of precious eggs, given the failure rate—to be used on humans any time soon. But perhaps it's not so far off, after all."
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How Video Games Are Sharpening Surgical Skills

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "A group of post-graduate medical students in Rome who participated in a recent month-long program using the Nintendo Wii went on to earn higher scores in surgical simulators relating to laparoscopic, or keyhole, surgery compared to students who did not use the Wii. The researchers, who ran the simulations at the University of Rome, just published their findings in PLOS One, and said that using the Wii could become a “helpful, inexpensive and entertaining part of the training of young laparoscopists" to supplement a standard, hands-on surgical education with simulators in operating rooms.

Here's how it worked: Researchers had the students play the Wii everyday for an hour, five times a week, for a total of four weeks. The trials included playing tennis and "battle" games, the idea being to improve hand-eye coordination. Simple, right? But it goes beyond Wii Fitness and busting n00bs in the ring--a number of games and apps are cropping up that cater exclusively to in-training medical professionals."

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BPA May Mess with Your Genes and Lungs, Too

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "As if the potential threat of man boobs, breast cancer, and enlarged prostates weren’t scary enough, this week, new evidence in the case against BPA was added to the pile. On Monday, news emerged in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that studies in rats showed BPA could interfere with gene expressions partly responsible for the development of the central nervous system. Researchers speculate that could “possibly play a role” in creating neurological disorders.

Just today, a second study emerged from the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health linking early childhood exposure to BPA with a higher risk for wheeze and asthma. The study found that 90 percent of the children, tested at ages 3, 5 and 7, demonstrated detectable levels of BPA. After controlling for other environmental factors like second-hand smoke, the researchers found wheeze and asthma risk increases at “fairly routine, low doses of exposure to BPA."
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Astronomers Used Dashcam Footage to Calculate the Russian Meteor's Trajectory

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "The Chelyabinsk meteorite was unexpected, but the digital age means we’re always ready to capture something interesting. Case in point. News of the meteorite broke with a slew of amateur videos from cars, security cameras, and cell phones, offering immediate proof that the news wasn’t a hoax. The videos all also captured something really useful: the trail of a fireball streaking across the sky.

To researchers, that’s perfect trajectory data. Amateur videos caught enough of the fireball’s trajectory that Jorge Zuluaga and Ignacio Ferrin, two researchers at the University of Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia, were able to work backward to find the meteorite’s orbit and origin. Their results are now available on the arXiv pre-print server (PDF).

The Colombian researchers were inspired by Stefen Geens, who first published an estimate of the Chelyabinsk meteor’s path. Matching dashboard and security cameras footage with data from Google Earth, he was able to reconstruct the path of the rock as it entered the atmosphere. It matched the trajectory image taken by the geostationary weather satellite Meteosat-9."

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Determinism and Its Enemies Are Still Waging War over the Soul of Science

derekmead derekmead writes  |  about a year and a half ago

derekmead (2466858) writes "Wherever determinism appears, controversy attends, raising specters of days when colonialists, eugenicists, public health officials, and political idealists believed they could cure the human condition through manipulation and force. Understanding those fears helps shed light on the controversy surrounding a recent paper (PDF) published in the American Economic Review, entitled, “The ‘Out of Africa’ Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development.” In it, economists Quamrul Ashraf and Oded Galor argue that the economic development of broad human populations correlate with their levels of genetic diversity—which is, in turn, pinned to the distance its inhabitants migrated from Africa thousands of years ago. Reaction has been swift and vehement.

An article signed by 18 academics in Current Anthropology accuses the researchers of “bad science”—“something false and undesirable” based on “weak data and methods” that “can become a justification for reactionary policy.” The paper attacks everything from its sources of population data to its methods for measuring genetic diversity, but the economists are standing by their methods. The quality of Ashraf and Galor's research notwithstanding, the debate illustrates just how tricky it's become to assert anything which says something about human development was in any way inevitable."

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