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2018-02-20 05:59:06 UTC
2018-02-20 11:52:28 UTC
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Engineers at Purdue University and GlobalFoundries have gotten today's most advanced transistors to vibrate at frequencies that could make 5G phones and other gadgets smaller and more energy efficient. The feat could also improve CPU clocks, make wearable radars, and one day form the basis of a new kind of computing. They presented their results today at the IEEE International Solid-States Circuits Conference, in San Francisco.
Sumitomo Forestry, an industry giant in Japan, [is] pivoting to plyscrapers and proposing a 70-story, 350 meter (1148') tower for the Marunouchi district in Tokyo. It's called W350, the plan being that it will be finished in 2041, the 350th anniversary of the founding of the company.
[...] Using a hybrid 9:1 ratio of wood to steel, Sumitomo Forestry aims to replace concrete, which is one of the world's largest carbon footprint contributors. The skyscraper would be a 70-floor mixed-use building that would include a hotel, office space, commercial space, and residences. Wrap-around balconies at different intervals would be planted with lush wildlife. And greenery would extend throughout the entire complex, creating a vertical forest where humans and wildlife can flourish.
[...] It is a brace tube structure, "a structural system that forms a cylindrical shell (brace tube) with columns / beams and braces. By placing braces diagonally in a set of shafts assembled with columns and beams, it prevents the building from deforming against lateral forces such as earthquakes and wind."
The images are beautiful.
An increasing number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) around the world have been blocking more and more access based on accusations of copyright infringement. Those demanding the blocking assert that high standards are followed when making the decision. However, those studying the situation are finding otherwise. Given the scope creep demonstrated by these activities there is legitimate concern for the future availability of Virtual Private Networks (VPN) on those providers.
TorrentFreak covers analysis from University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist on the topic via his personal blog:
A group of prominent Canadian ISPs and movie industry companies are determined to bring pirate site blocking efforts to North America. This plan has triggered a fair amount of opposition, including cautioning analyses from law professor Michael Geist, who warns of potential overblocking and fears that VPN services could become the next target.
Michael Geist's personal blog jumps right in with a discussion of likely expansions to the scope of blocking and other sources of blocking over-reach.
The Bell coalition website blocking proposal downplays concerns about over-blocking that often accompanies site blocking regimes by arguing that it will be limited to "websites and services that are blatantly, overwhelmingly, or structurally engaged in piracy." Having discussed piracy issues in Canada and how the absence of a court order makes the proposal an outlier with virtually every country that has permitted site blocking, the case against the website blocking plan now turns to the inevitability of over-blocking that comes from expanding the block list or from the technical realities of mandating site blocking across hundreds of ISPs for millions of subscribers. This post focuses on the likely expansion of the scope of piracy for the purposes of blocking and the forthcoming posts will discuss other sources of blocking over-reach.
Once a technology or practice is in place, it is usually extended and abused beyond its original purpose. Even in the short history of the World Wide Web as well as the Internet, scope creep has shown itself to be a real problem.
Canadian Pirate Site Blocks Could Spread to VPNs, Professor Warns
The Case Against the Bell Coalition's Website Blocking Plan, Part 5: The Inevitable Expansion of the Block List Standard for "Piracy" Sites
Efforts to extradite alleged computer hacker Lauri Love have been abandoned by US authorities.
[...] Mr Love said he may help UK investigators to bring charges to get the case "over and done with".
American authorities confirmed they will not fight a High Court decision to block Mr Love's extradition to the US, on the grounds it would be "oppressive". A Crown Prosecution Service spokesman confirmed Mr Love will not be extradited.
Aerojet Rocketdyne wants the U.S. Air Force to contribute more funding for the development of its AR1 rocket engine. But that may be a hard sell when the mostly privately funded BE-4 from Blue Origin is close to being ready to fly:
In recent years, Aerojet has sought funding from the US Air Force to design and build the AR1, which has approximately 20 percent more thrust than a space shuttle main engine. The Air Force, in turn, has pledged as much as $536 million in development costs provided that Aerojet puts its own skin in the game—about one-third of research and development expenses.
According to a new report in Space News, Aerojet is now saying that even this modest investment is too much, and the company is seeking to reduce its share of the development costs from one-third to one-sixth. "As we look to the next phase of this contract, we are working with the Air Force on a smart and equitable cost-share," Aerojet spokesman Steve Warren told the publication. "We are committed to delivering an engine in 2019."
According to the report, the Air Force is not inclined to renegotiate the agreement. The Air Force's hesitation to increase its investment is probably because the military may not really need the AR1 rocket engine any more due to the emergence of Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Related: Blue Origin Will Build its Rocket Engine in Alabama
NASA Opens Door to Possibly Lowering SLS Cost Using Blue Origin's Engines
After the Falcon Heavy Launch, Time to Defund the Space Launch System?
Google's Project Zero has disclosed a vulnerability in the Microsoft Edge web browser that bypasses the browser's Arbitrary Code Guard (ACG). Project Zero disclosed the bug 14 days after the end of the usual 90-day period, but it apparently wasn't enough time for Microsoft to patch it:
Google's Project Zero initiative tasks its security researchers with finding flaws in various software products developed by the company itself as well as other firms. Back in 2016, it revealed a serious vulnerability present in Windows 10, and reported a "crazy bad vulnerability" in Windows in 2017. Now, the firm has disclosed another security flaw in Microsoft Edge, after the Redmond giant failed to fix it in the allotted time.
[...] According to the Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC), the problem turned out to be more complex than initially believed, due to which it was given an additional 14-day grace period by Google. Although the company missed this deadline in its February Patch Tuesday too - which forced Google to make the flaw public - Microsoft is confident that it will resolve the issue by March 13, aligning the shipment of the fix with the Patch Tuesday in March.
Regular use of cleaning sprays can have as much of an impact on health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, according to a new study. Scientists at Norway's University of Bergen tracked 6,000 people, with an average age of 34 at the time of enrolement in the study, who used the products over a period of two decades, according to the research published in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine [open, DOI: 10.1164/rccm.201706-1311OC] [DX].
They found that lung function decline in women regularly using the products, such as cleaners, was equivalent over the period to those with a 20 cigarettes a day smoking habit. [...] The experts attribute the decline in lung function to the damage that cleaning agents cause to the mucous membranes lining the airways, resulting over time in persistent changes.
The results follow a study by French scientists in September 2017 that found nurses who used disinfectants to clean surfaces at least once a week had a 24 percent to 32 percent increased risk of developing lung disease.
The Register spotted Ubuntu behaving badly again with respect to users' privacy. In their article "Ubuntu wants to slurp PCs' vital statistics – even location – with new desktop installs: Data harvest notice will be checked by default", they note that in addition to installing popcon and apport by default, Canonical seeks much deeper data mining (without using the word "telemetry"):
[...] "We want to be able to focus our engineering efforts on the things that matter most to our users, and in order to do that we need to get some more data about sort of setups our users have and which software they are running on it," explained Will Cooke, the director of Ubuntu Desktop at Canonical.
[...] Data Canonical seeks "would include" the following: Ubuntu Flavour, Ubuntu Version, Network connectivity or not, CPU family, RAM, Disk(s) size, Screen(s) resolution, GPU vendor and model, OEM Manufacturer, Location (based on the location selection made by the user at install). No IP information would be gathered, Installation duration (time taken), Auto login enabled or not, Disk layout selected, Third party software selected or not, Download updates during install or not, [and] LivePatch enabled or not.
The system plans to leverage the power of the default setting by making the choice opt-out, not opt-in as popcon has been in the past: Cooke explained to the ubuntu-devel audience that "Any user can simply opt out by unchecking the box, which triggers one simple POST stating, 'diagnostics=false'. There will be a corresponding checkbox in the Privacy panel of GNOME Settings to toggle the state of this."
El Reg also noted Ubuntu's plan to address user privacy concerns:
This seems less egregious than Ubuntu's past invasions of privacy, but much more invasive and Windows 10-like.
The first episode of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" was broadcast on PBS on February 19, 1968. Fifty years later, the program is still being shown on public television stations, to the delight of both children and adults. Though he passed away in 2003, Fred Rogers' philosophy continues to influence children's television today.
Growing human organs inside other animals has taken another step away from science-fiction, with researchers announcing they have grown sheep embryos containing human cells.
Scientists say growing human organs inside animals could not only increase supply, but also offer the possibility of genetically tailoring the organs to be compatible with the immune system of the patient receiving them, by using the patient's own cells in the procedure, removing the possibility of rejection. [...] "Even today the best matched organs, except if they come from identical twins, don't last very long because with time the immune system continuously is attacking them," said Dr Pablo Ross from the University of California, Davis, who is part of the team working towards growing human organs in other species.
[...] Ross and colleagues have recently reported a major breakthrough for our own species, revealing they were able to introduce human stem cells into early pig embryos, producing embryos for which about one in every 100,000 cells were human. These chimeras – a term adopted from Greek mythology – were only allowed to develop for 28 days.
Now, at this week's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Austin, Texas, the team have announced that they have managed a similar feat with sheep embryos, achieving an even higher ratio of human to animal cells. "About one in 10,000 cells in these sheep embryos are human," said Ross.
Japan is expected to lift a ban on growing human organs inside of animals.
Also at The Telegraph.
Related: Surgeons Smash Records With Pig-to-Primate Organ Transplants
Human-Animal Chimeras are Gestating on U.S. Research Farms
Pig Hearts Survive in Baboons for More than Two Years
NIH Plans To Lift Ban On Research Funds For Human-Animal Chimera Embryos
Human-Pig 'Chimera Embryos' Detailed
Rat-Mouse Chimeras Offer Hope for Diabetics
eGenesis Bio Removes PERV From Pigs Using CRISPR
The Intercept reports
The nation's secretaries of state gathered for a multi-day National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) conference in Washington, D.C., this weekend, with cybersecurity on the mind.
Panels and lectures centered around the integrity of America's election process, with the federal probe into alleged Russian government attempts to penetrate voting systems a frequent topic of discussion.
[...] One way to allay concerns about the integrity of electronic voting machine infrastructure, however, is to simply not use it. Over the past year, a number of states are moving back towards the use of paper ballots or at least requiring a paper trail of votes cast.
For instance, Pennsylvania just moved to require all voting systems to keep a paper record of votes cast. Prior to last year's elections in Virginia, the commonwealth's board of elections voted to decertify paperless voting machines--voters statewide instead voted the old-fashioned way, with paper ballots.
[...] Oregon is one of two states in the country to require its residents to vote by mail, a system that was established via referendum in 1998. [Oregon Secretary of State Dennis] Richardson argued that this old-fashioned system offers some of the best defense there is against cyber interference.
"We're using paper and we're never involved with the Internet. The Internet is not involved at all until there's an announcement by each of our 36 counties to [the capital] Salem of what the results are and then that's done orally and through a confirmation e-mail and the county clerks in each of the counties are very careful to ensure that the numbers that actually are posted are the ones that they have," he said. "Oregon's in a pretty unique situation."
[...] In New Hampshire, the state uses a hybrid system that includes both paper ballots and machines that electronically count paper ballots with a paper trail.
Karen Ladd, the assistant secretary of state for New Hampshire, touted the merits of the system to The Intercept. "We do a lot of recounts, and you can only have a recount with a paper ballot. You can't do a recount with a machine!" she said.
America's paper ballot states may seem antiquated to some, but our neighbors to the north have used paper ballots for federal elections for their entire history. Thanks to an army of officials at 25,000 election stations, the integrity of Canada's elections is never in doubt.
White House chief of staff John Kelly and a Secret Service agent scuffled with Chinese security officials over the U.S. nuclear "football" during a trip to China in November, Axios reported Sunday.
[...] The interaction reportedly took place during President Trump's trip to Beijing's Great Hall of the People. The aide carrying the briefcase was blocked from entering the hall, and another official quickly told Kelly, five sources told Axios.
Kelly then came over and told the officials to continue walking in, after which a Chinese security official grabbed at Kelly, and the chief of staff pushed him off, according to Axios. A Secret Service agent then tackled the Chinese security official, the publication reported.
U.S. officials were asked to not discuss the interaction, according to Axios. Chinese officials were never in possession of the bag containing the launch codes, and a top Chinese security official apologized to the Trump team afterward.
The nuclear football (also known as the atomic football, the President's emergency satchel, the Presidential Emergency Satchel, the button, the black box, or just the football) is a briefcase, the contents of which are to be used by the President of the United States to authorize a nuclear attack while away from fixed command centers, such as the White House Situation Room. It functions as a mobile hub in the strategic defense system of the United States. It is held by an aide-de-camp.
Scientists have claimed to have detected anti-cancer properties in three traditional varieties of rice found in Chhattisgarh.
[...] These varieties were taken from the rice germplasm bank preserved in IGKV, said Sharma, principal scientist at the genetics and plant breeding department of the agriculture university.
The three varieties of rice have properties to cure lungs and breast cancers without affecting normal cells, Sharma told PTI.
Scientists have taken the first steps towards what they say could become a new blood and urine test for autism. Their study tested children with and without the condition and found higher levels of protein damage in those with the disorder.
The researchers said the tests could lead ultimately to the earlier detection of the condition, which can be difficult to diagnose. But experts expressed caution, saying such a test was still a long way off.
[...] For this new study, published in the Molecular Autism journal, researchers looked for chemical differences in the blood and urine of 38 autistic children and 31 children without the condition, all aged between five and 12. In those with autism they found higher levels of protein damage - particularly in the blood plasma - which they said were associated with ill health.
Dr Naila Rabbani, from the University of Warwick, who led the study, told the BBC the tests could ultimately be used by doctors to diagnose autism earlier in childhood by detecting these markers.
Advanced glycation endproducts, dityrosine and arginine transporter dysfunction in autism - a source of biomarkers for clinical diagnosis (open, DOI: 10.1186/s13229-017-0183-3) (DX)
From The Verge:
Google didn't violate labor laws by firing engineer James Damore for a memo criticizing the company's diversity program, according to a recently disclosed letter from the US National Labor Relations Board. The lightly redacted statement is written by Jayme Sophir, associate general counsel of the NLRB's division of advice; it dates to January, but was released yesterday, according to Law.com. Sophir concludes that while some parts of Damore's memo were legally protected by workplace regulations, "the statements regarding biological differences between the sexes were so harmful, discriminatory, and disruptive as to be unprotected."
Damore filed an NLRB complaint in August of 2017, after being fired for internally circulating a memo opposing Google's diversity efforts. Sophir recommends dismissing the case; Bloomberg reports that Damore withdrew it in January, and that his lawyer says he's focusing on a separate lawsuit alleging discrimination against conservative white men at Google. NLRB records state that its case was closed on January 19th.
There are White House Staff positions open, I hear.
For a moment, it seemed the hackers had slipped up and exposed their identities. It was the summer of 2013, and European investigators were looking into an unprecedented breach of Belgium's telecommunications infrastructure. They believed they were on the trail of the people responsible. But it would soon become clear that they were chasing ghosts – fake names that had been invented by British spies.
[...] The covert operation was the first documented example of a European Union member state hacking the critical infrastructure of another. The malware infection triggered a massive cleanup operation within Belgacom, which has since renamed itself Proximus. The company – of which the Belgian government is the majority owner – was forced to replace thousands of its computers at a cost of several million Euros. Elio di Rupo, Belgium's then-prime minister, was furious, calling the hack a "violation." Meanwhile, one of the country's top federal prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into the intrusion.
The criminal investigation has remained open for more than four years, but no details about its activities have been made public. Now, following interviews with five sources close to the case, The Intercept – in collaboration with Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant – has gained insight into the probe and uncovered new information about the scope of the hack.
Interesting both from the technical and the political viewpoints, this episode could have unexpected results for the future. Despite the egregious misuse of "hack" and related words.