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Which of the following "Dilbert" characters would your co-workers say best resembles you?

  • Dilbert
  • Dogbert
  • Wally
  • Alice
  • Catbert
  • Intern
  • PHB
  • Other (please specify)

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:65 | Votes:102

posted by martyb on Friday May 29, @07:41AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the so-THERE-you-are! dept.

Half the matter in the universe was missing—we found it hiding in the cosmos:

In the late 1990s, cosmologists made a prediction about how much ordinary matter there should be in the universe. About 5%, they estimated, should be regular stuff with the rest a mixture of dark matter and dark energy. But when cosmologists counted up everything they could see or measure at the time, they came up short. By a lot.

The sum of all the ordinary matter that cosmologists measured only added up to about half of the 5% what was supposed to be in the universe.

This is known as the "missing baryon problem" and for over 20 years, cosmologists like us looked hard for this matter without success.

It took the discovery of a new celestial phenomenon and entirely new telescope technology, but earlier this year, our team finally found the missing matter.

[...] But when radio waves pass through matter, they are briefly slowed down. The longer the wavelength, the more a radio wave "feels" the matter. Think of it like wind resistance. A bigger car feels more wind resistance than a smaller car.

The "wind resistance" effect on radio waves is incredibly small, but space is big. By the time an FRB ["Fast Radio Burst"] has traveled millions or billions of light-years to reach Earth, dispersion has slowed the longer wavelengths so much that they arrive nearly a second later than the shorter wavelengths.

[...] We were overcome by both amazement and reassurance the moment we saw the data fall right on the curve predicted by the 5% estimate. We had detected the missing baryons in full, solving this cosmological riddle and putting to rest two decades of searching.

Journal Reference:
J.-P. Macquart, J. X. Prochaska, M. McQuinn, et al. A census of baryons in the Universe from localized fast radio bursts, Nature (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2300-2)

The initial results are based on six data points, FRBs; the researchers will continue to look for others.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday May 29, @05:35AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the the-one-who-pays-the-piper-calls-the-tunes dept.

Media Corruption? Car Safety Recalls Reported Less When Manufacturers Advertise More:

A new study looked at the relationship between advertising by car manufacturers in U.S. newspapers and news coverage of car safety recalls in the early 2000s. The study found that newspapers provided less coverage of recalls issued by manufacturers that advertised more regularly in their publications than of recalls issued by other manufacturers that did not advertise, and this occurred more frequently when the recalls involved more severe defects.

[...] "Because media coverage affects a variety of outcomes, it's vital that news outlets provide unbiased and accurate information to consumers so they can make well-informed decisions," says Ananya Sen, assistant professor of information systems and economics at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College, who coauthored the study. "Our findings demonstrate a robust supply-side bias due to advertising revenue, one that may be quite dangerous."

Advertising accounts for nearly 80 percent of newspapers' total revenue in the United States, with total ad spending by the automotive sector surpassing $20 billion in 2006. The study's authors contend that newspapers' reliance on advertising raises concerns that editorial decisions may be vulnerable to the influence of advertisers, especially large ones.

[...] The study concluded that newspapers provided less coverage of recalls from manufacturers that bought more advertising in the previous two years. Specifically, higher spending on advertising was associated with a lower probability that the newspaper published any article on the recalls, and for those newspapers that did publish information about recalls, fewer articles were published. The bias was strongest when small newspapers published ads from local car dealers. The effect was stronger for recalls that involved a large number of vehicles and that involved more severe defects.

[...] "The vulnerability of newspapers to be influenced by advertisers and the role of market structure have implications for policymakers," explains Graham Beattie, assistant professor of economics at Loyola Marymount University, who coauthored the study. "Regulators should formulate rules that limit such conflicts of interest through policies such as limiting concentration of media ownership and encouraging competition between media outlets."

Journal Reference:
Advertising Spending and Media Bias: Evidence from News Coverage of Car Safety Recalls [$], Management Science (DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2019.3567)

Interesting study but it's looking at data that's at least 10 years old. It would be interesting to see the same study using more recent data.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday May 29, @03:28AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the customer-disservice dept.

US cable subscribers are still being 'ripped off' by creeping price increases – and this lot has had enough:

In many ways it’s a rite of passage in America: being ripped off by your cable company and trying to figure out how they did it. Now a lawsuit against Charter Communications is seeking to uncover just that.

The biggest scam of all – pressuring or forcing subscribers to “rent” the clunky, technologically outdated cable box at a greatly inflated price – is still in place, despite a brief effort by the FCC in 2016 to shut it down.

And then there are hidden costs – such as “broadcast TV fees” and “regional sports fees” – raking in tens of millions of dollars in pure profit for unscrupulous cable companies, despite Consumer Reports focusing on the topic for a number of years, and now Congress even starting to pay attention.

But although we have all grown used to our cable fees rocketing the second you are off the special two-year contract rate, requiring you to call up the company and threaten to move to a competitor until you are offered the next incredible special deal, Charter may have pushed things too far with its latest special offer: a two-year flat fee deal that somehow, it is claimed, grew more expensive every month.

Five Charter Communications customers, based in Ohio and Kentucky, have formally accused [PDF] the company of a bait-and-switch scam for its cable TV service. The biz advertised a fixed monthly rate, they say, but far from being fixed, every few months it cost a little more.

Are the cable companies to blame, or the sports and movie channels that are charging more?


Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Friday May 29, @01:18AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the PS> dept.

cmd.exe is dead, long live PowerShell: Microsoft leads aged command-line interpreter out into 'maintenance mode'

Microsoft senior program manager Rich Turner took to Twitter in recent days to remind everyone that it really is time to move on from Windows' ancient command processor, cmd.exe.

"Cmd is in maintenance mode," said the Windows Terminal and Windows Subsystem for Linux pusher, "it should not be used for interactive shell work."

[...] To be fair, cmd has been a little whiffy for a while now. As the original default command line interpreter for the Windows NT (and OS/2) era, it has its roots in the old COMMAND.COM days of DOS and Windows 95, and provided a way for admins to move their ageing batch files and scripts into a brighter, DOS-free world.

[...] Microsoft has long punted an alternative to users in the form of the vastly more capable PowerShell, which appeared in Windows-only form back in 2006 before going cross-platform and open source 10 years later (briefly acquiring the suffix "Core" as it did so).

Many organisations, however, have plenty of legacy cmd scripts still running behind the scenes. The engine running those scripts is now in "maintenance mode", meaning that something pretty major would have to go wrong before anyone in Redmond goes tinkering. Every time a change is made, explained Turner, "something critical breaks".

[...] Turner's pointer to PowerShell is not without its own problems. While PowerShell 7 may be the future, what is currently lurking in the big box of Windows is version 5.1, which, like cmd, is in maintenance mode and has received only the odd fix or three as it waited for the Core incarnation to get closer to parity.

Lee, a 20-year Microsoft veteran and principal software engineer manager, chimed in that the gang "can't update inbox to PS7 until we reconcile the LTS support gap between .NET and Windows".

Spaghetti code and structured code can be written in [nearly any] language. I've now constructed well over 3,000 .BAT/.CMD files — some dating back to the early 1990s — which I still use to this day. I'll grant there are some quick-and-dirty one-offs in the mix, but the vast majority employ structured programming, have a modification history, are fully-commented, and have help (with examples) available from the command line.

I'm looking to port them to run on Linux (Ubuntu/Mate). Many of them make use of Windows ports of Unix utilities like gawk, sed, wc, date, ls and a smattering of others as the need arose.

Context: I've been writing "batch" programs (DCL, EXEC, REXX, TECO, Tcl/Tk, Elisp, sh, csh, bash, Perl, etc.) starting in the the 1980s. It seemed that each operating system had its own command language, so I'd just learn and make use of whatever was available on that system.

Just for least-common-denominator's sake, I'm tempted to port them to bash. I have some experience with it (and other shells such as sh and csh going way back). bash also has the advantage of being written when processors were much slower and memory was severely limited. So performance should be excellent.

On the other hand, Python is popular and thereby has lots of on-line support available.

What has been your experience?


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday May 28, @11:09PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the bend-and-stretch,-reach-for-the-stars dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

"If you want to hide something in solid media, this is different," [professor Guoliang] Huang said. "In solid media, the wave is more complicated than the radar wave because in solid media we not only have a compression wave but we also have a shear wave. In civil engineering, we deal with earthquakes—seismic waves, which have longitudinal and shear waves, and most of the damage is cause by the shear wave."

Huang said there is no natural material that satisfies the long-standing problem of transformation-invariance, wherein non-standard properties are needed after certain transformations. He said the ultimate purpose of his research is to model, design and fabricate materials that will fill in this "behavioral gap." The new class of cloaking or polar materials his team created is composed of a functionally graded lattice embedded in an isotropic continuum background. The layers were 3-D printed and manually assembled.

"We experimentally and numerically investigated the characteristics of the proposed cloak and found very good cloaking performance under both tension and shear loadings," Huang wrote in his paper, one of two research papers Huang and his team had published by the Physical Review of Letters on the subject of polar materials.

[...] "The results that the University of Missouri team has recently published are encouraging," said Dr. Dan Cole, program manager, Army Research Office, an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratory. "This research could lead to new strategies for steering mechanical waves away from critical regions in solid objects, which could enable novel capabilities in soldier protection and maneuvers."

Journal Reference
Xianchen Xu, Chen Wang, Wan Shou, et al. Physical Realization of Elastic Cloaking with a Polar Material, Physical Review Letters (DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.124.114301)


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday May 28, @09:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the keep-in-touch dept.

U.S. Army signs deal with SpaceX to assess Starlink broadband

The U.S. Army will experiment using Starlink broadband to move data across military networks. An agreement signed with SpaceX on May 20 gives the Army three years to test out the service.

The Army and SpaceX signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement known as a CRADA, an Army source told SpaceNews.

The project will be overseen by the Combat Capabilities Development Command's C5ISR Center based at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

CRADAs are commonly used by the military to evaluate technologies and services from the private sector before it commits to buying them. The Army in this case wants to be able to assess the performance of the Starlink low Earth orbit internet service when connected to military systems. The Army will seek answers to key questions such as what ground equipment it will need to use Starlink and how much systems integration work could be required.

Also at Ars Technica.

Update: Army's evaluation of Starlink broadband to focus on reliability, vulnerability

The upcoming evaluation of SpaceX's Starlink broadband by the U.S. Army will look primarily at the reliability of the service and potential vulnerabilities of the satellites to hostile attacks, a senior Army official said May 27.

[...] "I would view this as exploratory," Gen. John Murray, commander of the U.S. Army Futures Command, told reporters on Wednesday on a Defense Writers Group conference call.

"It's about figuring out what capabilities they can provide, and what vulnerabilities do they have?" said Murray.

The Army Futures Command advises Army leaders on what investments the service should make to modernize weapons and information systems. One of the priorities identified by Futures Command is high capacity, low latency communications for units in the field that need to move large amounts of data.

A space internet service from low Earth orbit like Starlink would be used by the Army to supplement geosynchronous satellite-based and terrestrial communications.

Murray said the Army has signed exploratory agreements with SpaceX and other companies to make sure the product works before it buys it. The Army wants to try it "before we lock ourselves into a multibillion dollar acquisition program," he said.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday May 28, @06:50PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the For-the-Big-Sky dept.

Phys.org:

Research has shown that, while people in their 20s often leave rural communities, a higher percentage of young adults in their 30s choose rural communities, Schmitt-Wilson said. Still, most of the research on migration of young adults to rural communities focuses on "returners," or those choosing to move home to the community they were raised in, she added.

[...] The researchers found that while study participants were candid about challenges associated with life in rural areas of Montana—such as a lack of amenities and geographic and social isolation—they also highlighted a number of benefits.

"Those benefits included the quality of life they experience in their rural communities, including family-centered environments, low cost of living, unconditional support provided by community members, intergenerational friendships, increased sociability and unique opportunities for personal and professional growth available for young adults in rural communities," Schmitt-Wilson said.

If urban centers are in lockdown and their amenities are gone, would young people still choose city life or would places like rural Montana do?


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday May 28, @04:37PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Women with Neandertal gene give birth to more children

One in three women in Europe inherited the receptor for progesterone from Neandertals – a gene variant associated with increased fertility, fewer bleedings during early pregnancy and fewer miscarriages. This is according to a study published in Molecular Biology and Evolution by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.

[...] Progesterone is a hormone, which plays an important role in the menstrual cycle and in pregnancy. Analyses of biobank data from more than 450,000 participants – among them 244,000 women – show that almost one in three women in Europe have inherited the progesterone receptor from Neandertals. 29 percent carry one copy of the Neandertal receptor and three percent have two copies.

"The proportion of women who inherited this gene is about ten times greater than for most Neandertal gene variants," says Hugo Zeberg. "These findings suggest that the Neandertal variant of the receptor has a favourable effect on fertility."

Neanderthals.

Journal Reference:
Hugo Zeberg, Janet Kelso, Svante Pääbo. Neandertal Progesterone Receptor [open], Molecular Biology and Evolution (DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msaa119)


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday May 28, @02:28PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the GE-We-bring-good-things-to-light dept.

GE switches off light bulb business after almost 130 years

General Electric has finally found a buyer for its lighting business and will be selling off its last consumer-facing business after more than 120 years of operation.

Boston-based GE said today it would divest the lighting business to Savant Systems, a smart home management company also based in Massachusetts. The companies did not disclose financial terms of the deal, but sources told The Wall Street Journal that the transaction was valued at about $250 million.

Savant specializes in full smart home systems for the luxury market. Acquiring a lighting business directly will allow it to take advantage of vertical integration and take more control over the physical equipment it installs in consumer' homes. Savant will keep the business's operations in Cleveland, where it is currently based, and will receive a long-term license to keep using the GE branding for its products.

The lighting business is GE's oldest segment, dating all the way back to the company's founding through a series of mergers with Thomas Edison's companies in the late 1880s and early 1890s.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday May 28, @12:15PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the does-it-go-round-in-circles?-♬♬ dept.

Bankrupt OneWeb seeks license for 48,000 satellites, even more than SpaceX

SpaceX and OneWeb have asked for US permission to launch tens of thousands of additional satellites into low Earth orbit.

SpaceX's application to launch 30,000 satellites—in addition to the nearly 12,000 it already has permission for—is consistent with SpaceX's previously announced plans for Starlink.

OneWeb's application to launch nearly 48,000 satellites is surprising because the satellite-broadband company filed for bankruptcy in March. OneWeb is highly unlikely to launch a significant percentage of these satellites under its current structure, as the company reportedly "axed most of its staff" when it filed for bankruptcy and says it intends to use bankruptcy proceedings "to pursue a sale of its business in order to maximize the value of the company." Getting FCC approval to launch more satellites could improve the value of OneWeb's assets and give more options to whoever buys the company.

Previously:
SpaceX Approved to Deploy 1 Million U.S. Starlink Terminals; OneWeb Reportedly Considers Bankruptcy
OneWeb Goes Bankrupt, Lays Off Staff, Will Sell Satellite-Broadband Business


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday May 28, @10:06AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the things-that-make-you-go-hmmmn?-BOOM! dept.

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Two Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists have discovered a new mechanism for ignition of high explosives that explains the unusual detonation properties of 1,3,5-triamino-2,4,6-trinitrobenzene (TATB).

[...] Highly insensitive explosives offer greatly enhanced safety properties over more conventional explosives, but the physical properties responsible for the safety characteristics are not clear. Among explosives, TATB is nearly unique in its safety-energy trade-offs.

Engineering models for shock initiation safety and detonation performance of explosives rely on physics models that center on the formation and growth of hot spots (local regions of elevated temperature that accelerate chemical reactions) thought to govern these responses. However, models for TATB based on the hot spot concept have so far been unable to simultaneously describe both initiation and detonation regimes. This indicates missing physics in the fundamental understanding of what processes drive insensitive high explosives to detonate.

[...] Answering questions regarding the chemical reactivity of shear bands required turning to quantum-based molecular dynamics (QMD) simulation approaches and high performance computing. "The main challenge with QMD is that it can only be applied to small systems, so we developed a multiscale modeling technique to look at the chemistry of shear band and crystal regions in representative volume elements," explained Matt Kroonblawd, lead author on the study.

Through scale bridging with QMD, the team found that disordered material in shear bands becomes chemically activated. The bands are formed in strongly shocked TATB and react 200 times faster than the crystal, which gives a physical explanation for why engineering models required empirical "switching functions" to go between shock initiation and detonation situations.

Journal Reference:
Matthew P. Kroonblawd, et al. "High Explosive Ignition through Chemically Activated Nanoscale Shear Bands", Physical Review Letters (2020). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.124.206002


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday May 28, @07:58AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the don't-bug-me-while-I'm-eating dept.

Phys.org:

Resembling giant mealworms, superworms (Zophobas atratus) are beetle larvae that are often sold in pet stores as feed for reptiles, fish and birds. In addition to their relatively large size (about 2 inches long), these worms have another superpower: They can degrade polystyrene plastic. Now, researchers reporting in ACS' Environmental Science & Technology have linked this ability to a strain of bacteria that lives in the larvae's gut.

[...] The team placed 50 superworms in a chamber with polystyrene as their only carbon source, and after 21 days, the worms had consumed about 70% of the plastic. The researchers then isolated a strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria from the gut of the worms and showed that it that could grow directly on the surface of polystyrene and break it down. Finally, they identified an enzyme from the bacteria, called serine hydrolase, that appeared to be responsible for most of the biodegradation.

Journal Reference:
Hong Rae Kim et al. Biodegradation of Polystyrene by Pseudomonas sp. Isolated from the Gut of Superworms (Larvae of Zophobas atratus), Environmental Science & Technology (DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.0c01495)

Feed the plastic grocery bags to the worms, then feed the worms to the seagulls.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday May 28, @05:48AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the pigs^W-bacteria-in-spaaace! dept.

Terrestrial bacteria can grow on nutrients from space:

In the past decade, there has been renewed thinking about human missions to the moon and perhaps even to Mars. Inevitably, terrestrial microorganisms on the bodies of astronauts, spaceships or equipment will come into contact with extraterrestrial environments. Researchers from the Radboudumc describe in an article in Astrobiology that bacteria can survive on an "extraterrestrial diet," which affected their pathogenic potential

[...] For this study, four non-fastidious environment-derived bacterial species with pathogenic features were selected, including Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. To determine whether extraterrestrial survival and growth were possible, the researchers developed a minimal bacterial diet based on nitrogen, phosphorus, sulphur, iron and water to which carbohydrates found in carbonaceous meteorites were added. The four bacterial species were shown to survive and multiply on this minimal diet.

Journal Reference:
Jorge Domínguez-Andrés et al. Growth on Carbohydrates from Carbonaceous Meteorites Alters the Immunogenicity of Environment-Derived Bacterial Pathogens, Astrobiology (DOI: 10.1089/ast.2019.2173)

The guide to being a hitchhiker in the galaxy says to be a bacterium.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday May 28, @03:42AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the take-a-hike! dept.

Melting ice reveals an ancient, once-thriving trade route:

Earlier this year, Antiquity published an article about an ancient mountain pass uncovered on Lendbreen, a melting ice patch in the central mountain range of the Loomseggen Ridge in Norway. This retreating ice patch exposed lichen-free areas of bedrock where artifacts have been found simply lying on the bare ground. The dated artifacts indicate that the mountain pass was used from around AD 300-1500, but that its usage increased around AD 1000 during the Viking Age. This was a time of elevated travel, trade, and urbanization in Northern Europe.

[...] The findings on Lendbreen are varied and contain numerous types of transportation-related items including the remains of sleds, walking sticks, horse-snowshoes, and horse bones. They also contain many everyday items, including a woven tunic and a mitten, textile rags, and a collection of shoes made from hide. Most notably, archaeologists found ruins of a stone shelter near the top of the ice patch, indicating that this was a significant travel route.

Journal Reference
Lars Pilø , Espen Finstad, James H. Barrett. Crossing the ice: an Iron Age to medieval mountain pass at Lendbreen, Norway [open], Antiquity (DOI: 10.15184/aqy.2020.2)

Also at: columbia.edu.

Melting glaciers have been a boon for high-elevation archaeology, because artifacts have been well preserved in the ice.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday May 28, @01:33AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the that's-hot! dept.

Scientists develop the most heat-resistant material ever created:

A group of scientists from NUST MISIS developed a ceramic material with the highest melting point among currently known compounds. Due to the unique combination of physical, mechanical and thermal properties, the material is promising for use in the most heat-loaded components of aircraft, such as nose fairings, jet engines and sharp front edges of wings operating at temperatures above 2000 degrees C.

[...] During recent developments, the goal of the scientists was to create a material with the highest melting point and high mechanical properties. The triple hafnium-carbon-nitrogen system, hafnium carbonitride (Hf-C-N), was chosen, as scientists from Brown University (U.S.) previously predicted that hafnium carbonitride would have a high thermal conductivity and resistance to oxidation, as well as the highest melting point among all known compounds (approximately 4200 degrees C).

Using the method of self-propagating high-temperature synthesis,the NUSTMISIS scientists obtained HfC0.5N0.35, (hafnium carbonitride) close to the theoretical composition, with a high hardness of 21.3 GPa, which is even higher than in new promising materials, such as ZrB2/SiC (20.9 GPa) and HfB2/SiC/TaSi2 (18.1 GPa).

Journal Reference:
V.S. Buinevicha. A.A. Nepapusheva, D.O. Moskovskikha et al. Fabrication of ultra-high-temperature nonstoichiometric hafnium carbonitride via combustion synthesis and spark plasma sintering, Ceramics International (DOI: 10.1016/j.ceramint.2020.03.158)

The material is meant for spaceplanes.


Original Submission