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MacKinnon Extradition Blocked By UK Home Secretary

the_newsbeagle Why he hacked: Looking for alien conspiracies (258 comments)

"McKinnon claimed that UFOs were the reason for his hack. Convinced that the government was hiding alien antigravity devices and advanced energy technologies, he planned to find and release the information for the benefit of humanity. He said his intrusion was detected just as he was downloading a photo from NASA's Johnson Space Center of what he believed to be a UFO." http://spectrum.ieee.org/telecom/internet/the-autistic-hacker/0

about a year and a half ago

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IBM Watson, Geneticist

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about 1 month ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "The AI known as IBM Watson has been a Jeopardy champion, is training to become a doctor, and will soon add geneticist to its list of titles. Yesterday IBM and the NY Genome Center announced a collaboration in which oncologists will give Watson reams of genetic data for 20 brain cancer patients. The AI will search through vast troves of medical literature for information regarding each patient's specific set of genetic mutations, then offer treatment suggestions."
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Should We Hack the Van Allen Belts Around the Earth?

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about a month and a half ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "Before you give the obvious answer (no), take a moment to consider. The Van Allen radiation belts, zones of high-energy charged particles that ring the Earth, can cause all manner of trouble to satellites and spacecraft that pass through them. And shielding is so boring. So scientists are experimenting with hacking the belts; more specifically, they think they can use carefully tuned electromagnetic waves to drive these particles out of space and disperse them in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Say it with me now: What could possibly go wrong?"
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How to Take Apart Fukushima's 3 Melted-Down Reactors

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about 2 months ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "In Japan, workers have spent nearly three years on the clean-up and decommissioning of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. They only have 37 years to go.

Taking apart the plant's three melted-down reactors is expected to take 40 years and cost $15 billion. The plant's owner, TEPCO, admits that its engineers don't yet know how they'll pull off this monumental task. An in-depth examination of the decommissioning process explains the challenges, such as working amid the radioactive rubble, stopping up the leaks that spill radioactive water throughout the site, and handling the blobs of melted nuclear fuel. Many of the tasks will be accomplished by newly invented robots that can go where humans fear to tread."

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Inside Chris Anderson's Open-Source Drone Factory

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about 2 months ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "The former editor of Wired is betting that the 21st century skies will be filled with drones, and not the military sort. His company, 3D Robotics, is building open-source UAVs for the civilian market, and expects its drones to catch on first in agriculture. As noted in an article about the company's grand ambitions: "Farms are far from the city’s madding crowds and so offer safe flying areas; also, the trend toward precision agriculture demands aerial monitoring of crops. Like traffic watching, it’s a job tailor-made for a robot: dull, dirty, and dangerous." Also, farmers apparently wouldn't need FAA approval for privately owned drones flying over their own property."
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China's PandaX Project Looks for Dark Matter in the Heart of a Marble Mountain

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about 3 months ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "Chinese engineers love their superlatives: Biggest dam, fastest train, etc etc. Now they've constructed the deepest underground dark matter detector beneath a mountain in Sichuan province. Such dark matter seekers have to be buried deep to shield them from cosmic rays, because that radiation would be picked up by the detector and could be confused for radiation generated by dark matter. Other dark matter detectors are similarly subterranean: LUX, in the United States, is at the bottom of an abandoned mine in South Dakota, and a European effort called XENON lies below the Gran Sasso mountain. The Chinese researchers hope their PandaX detector will finally reveal the much-hypothesized, never-seen dark matter particles known as WIMPs."
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Healing Broken Hearts With Light-Activated Glue

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about 3 months ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "When surgeons set out to repair holes in the walls of the heart's chambers or in blood vessels, they often do invasive open-heart surgery and use sutures, staples, and glue to keep a patch in place. But the sutures and staples are a rough fix, and many of the glues on the market today don't work well on wet tissue that's continually flexed by the heart's contractions and the movement of pumping blood. Today biomaterial researchers announced a new light-activated glue that could make surgery less invasive, quicker, and easier. The adhesive was inspired by slugs' and sandcastle worms' sticky secretions, which work underwater, and it can be applied with slender tools during minimally invasive surgery. A flash of UV light then sets the glue, which bends and flexes with the tissue."
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China: The Next Space Superpower

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about 4 months ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes ""As 2014 dawns, China has the most active and ambitious space program in the world," says this article. While it's true that the Chinese space agency is just now reaching milestones that the U.S. and Russia reached 40 years ago (its first lunar rover landed in December), the Chinese government's strong support for space exploration means that it's catching up fast. On the agenda for the next decade: A space station to rival the ISS, a new spaceport, new heavy-lift rockets, a global satellite navigation system to rival GPS, and China's first space science satellites."
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Neural Prosthetic Is a "Bridge" over Damaged Brain Areas

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about 4 months ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "If you can't fix it, go around it. That's the thinking behind an experimental treatment for traumatic brain injury. Using an implanted microdevice, researchers recorded the electrical signals from a sensory region of a rat's brain, skipped over a damaged brain region that typically processes sensory information, and sent the electric signals on to the premotor cortex. This cyborg mouse could then move normally. What this means is that we're getting better at speaking the brain's language — even if we don't understand it, we can mimic it. W/ dramatic video."
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Paleontologist Studies Seriously Old Sh*t

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about 5 months ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "Paleoscatologist Karen Chin knows you can learn a lot about ancient ecosystems by studying coprolites — fossilized feces. She has studied dino droppings from herbivores, and identified the types of plants those dinosaurs ate. She has identifed T. rex turds, and found evidence that prehistoric dung beetles made use of those king-sized dino patties. This profile of Chin goes through her greatest hits, then focuses on her latest work, which sheds light on the reemergence of life after the K-Pg extinction event that brought down the dinosaurs... but left some surprising creatures unscathed."
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Fighting Paralysis With Electricity

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about 6 months ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "In spinal cord injuries, the brain's commands can't reach the lower body — so in a ground-breaking experiment at the University of Louisville, researchers are providing artificial commands via electrodes implanted in the spine. The first paralyzed people to try out the tech have already been able to stand on their own, and have regained some bowel and sexual function. A video that accompanies the article also shows paralyzed rats that were able to walk again with this kind of electrical stimulation."
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Tiny Pacemaker Can Be Delivered to Your Heart's Interior Via a Catheter

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about 6 months ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "About four million people around the world have pacemakers implanted in their bodies, and those devices all got there the same way: surgeons sliced open their patients' shoulders and inserted the pulse-generating devices in the flesh near the heart, then attached tiny wires to the heart muscle. This invasive surgery carries risks of infection, of course, and those delicate wires are often the failure point when pacemakers stop working.

A device that just received approval in the EU seems to solve those problems. This tiny pacemaker is the first that doesn't require wires to bring the electrical signal to the heart muscle, because it's implanted inside the heart itself, and is hooked onto the inner wall of one of the heart's chambers. This is possible because the cylindrical device can be inserted and attached using a steerable catheter that's snaked up through the femoral artery. This blog post has an animation of the insertion process."

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PTSD-Monitoring App Captured the Psychological Effects of the Boston Bombing

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about 8 months ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "This DARPA-funded smartphone app is designed to monitor veterans for signs of depression and PTSD. It screens for signals of psychological distress in a number of ways; for example, the app looks for signs of social isolation (reduced number of phone calls and texts), physical isolation (the phone isn't leaving the house), and sleep disruption (the phone is used in the middle of the night). Interestingly, the company that invented the app was testing it in Boston at the time of the Boston marathon bombing, and reports that the app picked up signals of distress in the days after the attack."
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Bionic Skin: The Killer App for Flexible Electronics

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about 8 months ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "Most of the researchers who work on flexible electronics imagine putting their materials to use in flexible displays, like a rollable, foldable iPad that you could cram in your pocket. And I'm not saying that wouldn't be cool. But researcher Takao Someya of the University of Tokyo has a different idea: He wants his ultra-thin, ultra-flexible electronics to be used as bionic skin.

Someya and other researchers have created circuits that stick to your skin, and that can stretch and bend as you move your body. These materials are still in the labs, but the scientists imagine many uses for them. For example, if a synthetic skin is studded with pressure and heat sensors, it could be used as a lifelike covering for prosthetic limbs. There are also potential biomedical applications: The e-skin could discreetly monitor an outpatient's vital signs, and send the data to a nearby computer.

The article includes a short vid showing Someya's material in action."

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Can a Japanese AI Get Into University?

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about 7 months ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "Japanese researchers are trying to develop an artificial intelligence program that can pass the standardized test required of all college-bound high school students. Interestingly, the AI is showing good progress in the history portion of the exam, because it's fairly adept at looking up answers in a vast textual database. But the so-called Todai Robot is having trouble with math, "because the questions are presented as word problems, which the Todai Robot must translate into equations that it can solve," as well as with physics, which "presumes that the robot understands the rules of the universe." If the AI does succeed in mastering the general university exam, researchers will next tackle the notoriously difficult University of Tokyo entrance exam, which will require the bot to write essays."
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China to Try Out Ocean Thermal Energy System

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about 8 months ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "When you've got a wacky high-tech idea that will cost a lot of money, head to China. Lockheed Martin is the lastest company to heed this advice. For decades, Lockheed has investigated ocean thermal energy conversion, in which the temperature difference between warm surface water and cold deep water is leveraged to produce power. Just a few years ago, the company was working with the Navy and discussing a possible OTEC pilot project in Hawaii's Pearl Harbor. That idea has since been scrapped, and Lockheed is now partnering with a Chinese resort developer to build the 10-MW pilot plant off the coast of southern China. Lockheed hasn't disclosed the cost of building this plant, but outside experts say it might cost more than $300 million."
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The DNA Data Deluge

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about 10 months ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "Fast, cheap genetic sequencing machines have the potential to revolutionize science and medicine--but only if geneticists can figure out how to deal with the floods of data their machines are producing. That's where computer scientists can save the day. In this article from IEEE Spectrum, two computational biologists explain how they're borrowing big data solutions from companies like Google and Amazon to meet the challenge.

An explanation of the scope of the problem, from the article: "The roughly 2000 sequencing instruments in labs and hospitals around the world can collectively generate about 15 petabytes of compressed genetic data each year. To put this into perspective, if you were to write this data onto standard DVDs, the resulting stack would be more than 2 miles tall. And with sequencing capacity increasing at a rate of around three- to fivefold per year, next year the stack would be around 6 to 10 miles tall. At this rate, within the next five years the stack of DVDs could reach higher than the orbit of the International Space Station.""

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The Next Revolution in Medicine: Genome Scans for Everyone

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about a year ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "This year, a biotech company called Ion Torrent will introduce a new chip for its genome sequencing machine, which should enable researchers and doctors to scan a complete human genome for $1000 and in just a couple of hours. Compare that to the effort required to complete the first human genome: $3 billion and 13 years. Ion Torrent has nearly reached the $1000-genome milestone by virtue of a process called "semiconductor sequencing," and the company's founder says his chip-based sequencing machine benefits from all the efficiencies of the computer industry. At a price point of $1000, genome scans could become a routine part of medicine. And the price could keep dropping. As this IEEE Spectrum article says, "Ion Torrent plans to ride Moore’s Law as far as it will go."

To test out the technology, and to investigate just how useful genome scans are these days for your typical, reasonably healthy person, the IEEE Spectrum reporter got her own genome scanned and analyzed."

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First Details of Chinese Spacecraft's Asteroid Encounter

the_newsbeagle the_newsbeagle writes  |  about a year ago

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "Chinese aerospace engineers have revealed, for the first time, details about their Chang’e-2 spacecraft’s encounter with the asteroid Toutatis last month. They have plenty to boast of: The asteroid flyby wasn’t part of the original flight plan, but engineers adapted the mission and navigated the satellite through deep space.

Exactly how close Chang'e-2 came to Toutatis is still unclear. The article states that the first reports “placed the flyby range at 3.2 km, which was astonishingly—even recklessly—tight. Passing within a few kilometers of an asteroid only 2 to 3 km in diameter at a speed of 10 730 meters per second could be described as either superb shooting or a near disaster.” If the Chinese spacecraft did pass that near, it could provide a “scientific bonanza” with data about the asteroid’s mass and composition."

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