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Cybercriminals attacking banks and financial organizations use their foothold in a compromised infrastructure to gain access to similar targets in other regions or countries.
In a report released today and shared with BleepingComputer, international security company Group-IB specialized in preventing cyber attacks describes a so called cross-border domino-effect that can lead to spreading an infection beyond the initial target. The report is based on information from incident response work conducted in 2018 by the company's team of computer forensics experts.
The incident response activities at various financial institutions revealed that in some cases the attacker used their access to send emails to other banks and payment systems.
"So the threat actor definitely carried out attacks beyond its initial targets," a company representative told us.
In a research breakthrough funded by NASA, scientists have synthesized a molecular system that, like DNA, can store and transmit information. This unprecedented feat suggests there could be an alternative to DNA-based life, as we know it on Earth – a genetic system for life that may be possible on other worlds.
This new molecular system, which is not a new life form, suggests scientists looking for life beyond Earth may need to rethink what they are looking for. The research appears in Thursday's edition of Science Magazine.
[...] The synthetic DNA includes the four nucleotides present in Earth life – adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine – but also four others that mimic the structures of the informational ingredients in regular DNA. The result is a double-helix structure that can store and transfer information.
[Steven] Benner's team, which collaborated with laboratories at the University of Texas in Austin, Indiana University Medical School in Indianapolis, and DNA Software in Ann Arbor, Michigan, dubbed their creation "hachimoji" DNA (from the Japanese "hachi," meaning "eight," and "moji," meaning "letter"). Hachimoji DNA meets all the structural requirements that allow our DNA to store, transmit and evolve information in living systems.
Hachimoji DNA and RNA: A genetic system with eight building blocks (DOI: 10.1126/science.aat0971) (DX)
Related: Scientists Add Letters X and Y to DNA Alphabet
Scientists Engineer First Semisynthetic Organism With Three-base-pair DNA
How Scientists Are Altering DNA to Genetically Engineer New Forms of Life
Synthetic X and Y Bases Direct the Production of a Protein With "Unnatural" Amino Acids
A legislator in Canada has proposed a bill to ensure that individuals and indpendent shops can repair brand-name devices. If on the off chance that the bill becomes law, major hardware vendors will have to change how they sell their products.
[...] On Thursday, Coteau introduced a private member's bill in provincial parliament that, if passed, would be the first "right to repair" law for electronic devices in North America. More than a dozen US states are currently considering similar bills, but nothing is on the books yet in the US or in Canada.
The legislation proposes that tech companies make diagnostic tools, repair manuals, and official parts available to consumers at their request. The legislation would also require that any new products ship with a repair manual. Documents provided to consumers must be free unless they request paper copies, and parts, tools, and software must be provided at a fair price.
Earlier on SN:
Apple's T2 Security Chip Can Prevent Unauthorized Third-Party Repair of Devices
Yes, Americans, You Can Break Anti-Piracy DRM If You Want to Repair Some of Your Kit – US Govt
45 Out of 50 Electronics Companies Illegally Void Warranties After Independent Repair, Sting Reveals
The Right to Repair Battle Has Come to California
For most people, snow days aren't very productive. Some people, though, use the time to discover the most distant object in the solar system.
That's what Scott Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., did this week when a snow squall shut down the city. A glitzy public talk he was due to deliver was delayed, so he hunkered down and did what he does best: sifted through telescopic views of the solar system's fringes that his team had taken last month during their search for a hypothesized ninth giant planet.
That's when he saw it, a faint object at a distance 140 times farther from the sun than Earth—the farthest solar system object yet known, some 3.5 times more distant than Pluto. The object, if confirmed, would break his team's own discovery, announced in December 2018, of a dwarf planet 120 times farther out than Earth, which they nicknamed "Farout." For now, they are jokingly calling the new object "FarFarOut." "This is hot off the presses," he said during his rescheduled talk on 21 February.
"Farout" is designated 2018 VG18 by the Minor Planet Center. "FarFarOut" has no designation yet.
The transition took place over the course of 50 weeks and was caused simply by the introduction of a predator to the environment. Time-lapse videos are available in the supplementary info.
The transition from unicellular to multicellular life was one of a few major events in the history of life that created new opportunities for more complex biological systems to evolve. Predation is hypothesized as one selective pressure that may have driven the evolution of multicellularity. Here we show that de novo origins of simple multicellularity can evolve in response to predation. We subjected outcrossed populations of the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to selection by the filter-feeding predator Paramecium tetraurelia. Two of five experimental populations evolved multicellular structures not observed in unselected control populations within ~750 asexual generations.
Most reptiles and fish have multiple sets of teeth during their lifetime. However, most mammals, such as humans, have only one set of replacement teeth and some mammals, like mice, have only a single set with no replacement. This diversity raises both evolutionary questions -- how did different tooth replacement strategies evolve? -- and developmental ones -- which mechanisms prevent replacement teeth in animals that lost them?
In a new paper in Development, Professor Abigail Tucker and PhD student Elena Popa of King's College London tackle these questions with a molecular analysis of mouse tooth development. They have pinpointed why mice don't have replacement teeth by comparing gene expression in the dental lamina, the area that forms the teeth, of the mouse and the minipig, which has two sets of teeth.
[...]Using sophisticated genetic techniques, the researchers activated Wnt signalling in the mouse RSDL at E15.5 and E16 stages of development, revitalising this structure, and additional teeth were formed as a consequence.
The new moon is dubbed Hippocamp, after the fish tailed horses from Greek Mythology.
The discovery was published in the journal Nature
Mark...did not set out to make this discovery. He was analyzing Neptune’s rings with a new technique to process old images that essentially twisted them while adding them together. That allowed him to better see the rings, which are both faint and quick-moving.
On a whim, he decided to apply that same technique to other parts of the image he produced. To his surprise, a tiny white dot appeared.
Further analyses have confirmed that it is a moon, and a rather odd one.
Hippocamp is flat, tiny (only 527 ice hockey rinks in diameter, or about 20 miles), and in a fast orbit that is too near to Proteus. This leads to speculation that it was a fragment broken free from Proteus billions of years ago by an impact, possibly with some refugee from the Kuiper belt.
[This provides] further support for the hypothesis that the inner Neptune system has been shaped by numerous impacts.
Flat and icy, whatever could we use that for?
Poorly maintained IT systems on container ships are leaving the vessels open to cyber-attack and catastrophe, it is claimed.
This is according to folks this week at security house Pen Test Partners, who found that in some cases, connected maritime devices dating back to the early 1990s are being left open to the public internet for miscreants to play with. Many devices also have hardcoded and easily discoverable passwords.
This may all seem like some kind of fantasy based on the plot of the hit 1990s movie Hackers, in which heroes Acid Burn and Zero Cool and their cyber-pals race to stop malware sinking a bunch of oil tankers. However, UK-based Pen Test Partners (PTP) have dug up legit vulnerabilities before, so forgive us if we give them the benefit of the doubt here.
"If one was suitably motivated, perhaps by a nation state or a crime syndicate, one could bring about the sinking of a ship," explained PTP consultant Ken Munro. "Maybe one wanted to delay an LNG shipment in winter to a country running out of gas, affecting spot prices."
And how exactly would the theoretical hacker go about sinking or waylaying the ship? Munro says that wreaking havoc on your average container ship would be as simple as messing with its ballast tanks, shifting the distribution of the weight from one part of the vessel to another and causing it to tip.
A frosty mug of beer or ruby-red glass of wine just wouldn't be the same if the liquid was murky or gritty. That's why producers of alcoholic beverages usually filter them. But in a study appearing in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers report that a material often used as a filter could be transferring heavy metals such as arsenic to beer and wine. They also found ways to possibly limit this contamination.
Chronic dietary exposure to high levels of arsenic, lead and cadmium can endanger health. Therefore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set limits on these heavy metals in foods and beverages. Although some studies have reported elevated levels of the contaminants in wine and beer, researchers aren't sure how the metals are ending up in these beverages. Benjamin Redan, Lauren Jackson and colleagues wondered if the diatomaceous earth (DE) used to filter beer and wine could be introducing heavy metals, and if so, whether altering the filtering conditions could reduce the transfer.
Benjamin W. Redan, Joseph E. Jablonski, Catherine Halverson, James Jaganathan, Md. Abdul Mabud, Lauren S. Jackson. Factors Affecting Transfer of the Heavy Metals Arsenic, Lead, and Cadmium from Diatomaceous-Earth Filter Aids to Alcoholic Beverages during Laboratory-Scale Filtration. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2019; DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.8b06062
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New therapeutic molecules developed at Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) show promise in reversing the memory loss linked to depression and aging.
These molecules not only rapidly improve symptoms, but remarkably, also appear to renew the underlying brain impairments causing memory loss in preclinical models. These findings were presented today at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Washington DC.
"Currently there are no medications to treat cognitive symptoms such as memory loss that occur in depression, other mental illnesses and aging," says Dr. Etienne Sibille, Deputy Director of the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at CAMH and lead scientist on the study.
What's unique and promising about these findings, in the face of many failures in drug development for mental illness, is that the compounds are highly targeted to activate the impaired brain receptors that are causing memory loss, he says.
It took a series of studies – the most recent appearing in January 2019 in Molecular Neuropsychiatry – to reach this stage. First, Dr. Sibille and his team identified the specific impairments to brain cell receptors in the GABA neurotransmitter system. Then they showed that these impairments likely caused mood and memory symptoms in depression and in aging.
Hiroshima University, National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, and Panasonic Corporation announced the successful development of a terahertz (THz) transceiver that can transmit or receive digital data at 80 gigabits per second (Gbit/s). The transceiver was implemented using silicon CMOS integrated circuit technology, which would have a great advantage for volume production. Details of the technology will be presented at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) 2019 to be held from February 17 to February 21 in San Francisco, California .
The THz band is a new and vast frequency resource expected to be used for future ultrahigh-speed wireless communications. IEEE Standard 802.15.3d, published in October 2017, defines the use of the lower THz frequency range between 252 gigahertz (GHz) and 325 GHz (the "300-GHz band") as high-speed wireless communication channels. The research group has developed a single-chip transceiver that achieves a communication speed of 80 Gbit/s using the channel 66 defined by the Standard. The research group developed a 300-GHz-band transmitter chip capable of 105 Gbit/s  and a receiver chip capable of 32 Gbit/s  in the past few years. The group has now integrated a transmitter and a receiver into a single transceiver chip.
"We presented a CMOS transmitter that could do 105 Gbit/s in 2017, but the performance of receivers we developed, or anybody else did for that matter, were way behind  for a reason. We can use a technique called 'power combining' in transmitters for performance boosting, but the same technique cannot be applied to receivers. An ultrafast transmitter is useless unless an equally fast receiver is available. We have finally managed to bring the CMOS receiver performance close to 100 Gbit/s," said Prof. Minoru Fujishima, Graduate School of Advanced Sciences of Matter, Hiroshima University.
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Sleep is pretty great. In humans, evidence suggests it has a whole range of benefits, including this one: it keeps the brain healthy by letting neurons prune unnecessary synaptic connections we make during the day.
This process, called synaptic homeostasis, prevents the brain from being overrun by useless memories. It's possible that it helps to improve our cognitive performance, while dreams allow us to process our memories.
As it turns out, something similar may be occurring when artificial neural networks are allowed to sleep and dream.
Yep, you read that correctly. And it works very similarly to how it is thought to occur in humans.
Of course, artificial neural networks (ANNs) - a type of artificial intelligence based on biological neural networks - don't automatically and instinctively fall asleep and dream. Which is why mathematicians in Italy programmed a type of ANN called a Hopfield network to be able to sleep.
"Inspired by sleeping and dreaming mechanisms in mammal brains, we propose an extension of this model displaying the standard on-line (awake) learning mechanism (that allows the storage of external information in terms of patterns) and an off-line (sleep) unlearning & consolidating mechanism," they wrote in their paper.
In other words, while the ANN is 'awake', it's learning and storing patterns. But its storage capacity is limited.
So the team worked out a way to mathematically implement human sleep patterns - rapid-eye movement sleep and slow-wave sleep, the former of which is thought to remove unnecessary memories, and the latter of which is thought to consolidate important ones.
So this is what the ANN's 'sleep' state does too, cycling through and unlearning unnecessary information, and then consolidating what's left, the important stuff.
Researchers at the IIT Madras have developed an algorithm that can help with the management of enormous, dense crowds using minimal manpower, and prevent deadly stampedes in massive public gatherings.
"These kinds of stampedes have clear patterns in how they start. We wanted to understand those early signs and figure out how you place the police people, or what we call ''game-changers'', who then direct the crowd in a way that would prevent a stampede," professor Panchagnula said.
The Kumbh Mela, a Hindu pilgrimage at Prayagraj (Allahabad), is the world's largest religious gathering. Crores and crores of people taking a dip in the river Ganga on some days, making the event a hot spot for possible mishaps that could put thousands at risk.
For reference, one crore is also equivalent to 100 lakhs, where one lakh is equal to one hundred thousand. So one crore is 10,000,000.
See also Sparse game changers restore collective motion in panicked human crowds at arXive.
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Have you tried taking it off and putting it back on again?
Nike users are experiencing some technical difficulties in the wild world of connected footwear. Nike's $350 "Adapt BB" sneakers are the latest in the company's line of self-lacing shoes, and they come with the "Nike Adapt" app for Android and iOS. The app pairs with the shoes and lets you adjust the tightness of the laces, customize the lights (yeah, there are lights), and see, uh, how much battery life your shoes have left. The only problem: Nike's Android app doesn't work.
Android users report that their new kicks aren't paring with the app properly, and some customers report failed firmware updates for the shoes, which render them unable to pair with the app at all. Nike's app on Google Play has been flooded with 1-star reviews in response to the faulty update.
One user writes, "The first software update for the shoe threw an error while updating, bricking the right shoe." Another says, "App will only sync with left shoe and then fails every time. Also, app says left shoe is already connected to another device whenever I try to reinstall and start over."
"My left shoe won't even reboot." writes another. One user offers a possible solution, saying, "You need to do a manual reset of both shoes per the instructions."
Methanol—a colorless liquid that can be made from agricultural waste—has long been touted as a green alternative to fossil fuels. But it’s toxic and only has half the energy as the same volume of gasoline. Now, researchers report they’ve created a potentially cheap way to use sunlight to convert methanol to ethanol, a more popular alternative fuel that’s less harmful and carries more energy.
The new report is “great work” says Zhongmin Liu, a chemist at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics in China who was not involved with the research. If the process can be optimized and scaled up, he says, “It has the potential to change the world.”
The notion of converting methanol to ethanol isn’t new. Companies already have a trio of chemical processes that do so. But these require adding heat, pressure, and toxic additives, such as carbon monoxide. Companies can also make ethanol directly by fermenting corn kernels or sugarcane. But growing those crops requires precious farmland that could otherwise grow food. Researchers and companies have also come up with ways to convert agricultural wastes into ethanol. So far, however, these have proved too costly to be competitive.