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The First Draft of the SN manifesto is available

Do you trust your government?

  • Yes
  • No
  • I gots guns.. who cares 'bout the gubmint?
  • What government? This place is anarchy! And I'm going fishing.
  • Hang all them power mad bastards.
  • Zaphod Beeblebrox was a bad choice.
  • Abstain due to NSA fears.
  • Hillary Clinton is HOT!

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:94 | Votes:419

posted by cmn32480 on Thursday February 11, @09:13AM   Printer-friendly
from the evolution-beats-chemicals dept.

Wild tomatoes are better able to protect themselves against the destructive whitefly than our modern, commercial varieties, new research has shown.

The study, published today in the academic journal Agronomy for Sustainable Development, shows that in our quest for larger redder, longer-lasting tomatoes we have inadvertently bred out key characteristics that help the plant defend itself against predators.

Led by Newcastle University, UK, the research shows that wild tomatoes have a dual line of defence against these voracious pests; an initial mechanism which discourages the whitefly from settling on the plant in the first place and a second line of defence which happens inside the plant where a chemical reaction causes the plant sap to "gum up" blocking the whitefly's feeding tube.

Thomas McDaniel, the PhD student who led the research, says the findings highlight the natural resistance of wild plant varieties and suggests we need to "breed some of that wildness back in" instead of continuously looking for new methods of pest control."By selecting for certain characteristics we have inadvertently lost some really useful ones," explains McDaniel, who is based in the School of Biology at Newcastle University.

"The tomatoes we buy in the supermarket may have a long shelf life and be twice as big as the wild varieties but the trade-off is an intensive and costly pest control regime—both biological and in the form of chemical pesticides.

"Our research suggests that if we can breed the whitefly resistant genes back into our commercial varieties then we can produce a super tomato that not only has all the characteristics that we have selected for but is also naturally resistant to the whitefly."

Novel resistance mechanisms of a wild tomato against the glasshouse whitefly

Older article: Control of tomato whiteflies using the confusion effect of plant odours (open, DOI: 10.1007/s13593-014-0219-4)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday February 11, @07:36AM   Printer-friendly
from the who-does? dept.

Bruce Schneier opines about AT&T's CEO saying tech companies shouldn't have any input into the crypto debate:

My guess is that AT&T is so deep in bed with the NSA and FBI that he's just saying things he believes justif[y] his position.

Ars Technica has a few words about the matter, or you can head over to the The Wall Street Journal's [paywalled] original interview.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday February 11, @05:54AM   Printer-friendly
from the he-should-demonstrate-by-personal-example dept.

Ars Technica has a good write up on James Clapper's (the US FBI Chief) public comments about the Internet of Things (IoT), and how they may be used.

Considering that many IoT devices are intended for in-the-home devices, will citizens push back against this type of deeply intrusive monitoring?

Will people reject convenience that has the feature to be monitored in real time across many toys, products, and "smart" devices? How long will the data be retained, and can any of the collection be turned off?

What if it becomes a social construct in that tampering with an IoT device because it may contain or transmit something embarassing becomes tantamount to concealing evidence? Or if can cause an obstruction of justice if you disable the reporting functionality by blocking DNS or any other means of keeping the traffic inside the home?

What will the public let the government do with IoT data to foster better protection of civilian freedom from terror and tyranny?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday February 11, @04:19AM   Printer-friendly
from the what-would-YOU-do? dept.

Seven years after the global financial crisis erupted in 2008, the world economy continued to stumble in 2015. According to the United Nations' report World Economic Situation and Prospects 2016, the average growth rate in developed economies has declined by more than 54% since the crisis. An estimated 44 million people are unemployed in developed countries, about 12 million more than in 2007, while inflation has reached its lowest level since the crisis.

More worryingly, advanced countries' growth rates have also become more volatile. This is surprising, because, as developed economies with fully open capital accounts, they should have benefited from the free flow of capital and international risk sharing – and thus experienced little macroeconomic volatility. Furthermore, social transfers, including unemployment benefits, should have allowed households to stabilise their consumption.

[...] Neither monetary policy nor the financial sector is doing what it's supposed to do. It appears that the flood of liquidity has disproportionately gone towards creating financial wealth and inflating asset bubbles, rather than strengthening the real economy. Despite sharp declines in equity prices worldwide, market capitalization as a share of world GDP remains high. The risk of another financial crisis cannot be ignored.

There are other policies that hold out the promise of restoring sustainable and inclusive growth. These begin with rewriting the rules of the market economy to ensure greater equality, more long-term thinking, and reining in the financial market with effective regulation and appropriate incentive structures.

But large increases in public investment in infrastructure, education, and technology will also be needed. These will have to be financed, at least in part, by the imposition of environmental taxes, including carbon taxes, and taxes on the monopoly and other rents that have become pervasive in the market economy – and contribute enormously to inequality and slow growth.

There's likely no certain and simple solution. Witness recent efforts in Europe with major austerity initiatives and in the United States with quantitative easing. If you were the Emperor of the World, what would you do?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday February 11, @02:45AM   Printer-friendly
from the Pons-Fleischmann dept.

Thursday Feb 11th will likely go down in scientific history as the formal announcement of the widely-leaked and hinted-at first detection of gravitational waves.

The LIGO gravitational wave team is having a press conference on Thursday at 10:30am EST to announce the widely expected to result in Nobel Prizes first detection of gravitational waves.

The LIGO team's press release notes:

(Washington, DC) -- Journalists are invited to join the National Science Foundation as it brings together the scientists from Caltech, MIT and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) this Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at the National Press Club for a status report on the effort to detect gravitational waves - or ripples in the fabric of spacetime - using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO).

Do any Soylentils have the "secret" URL for the webcast? Please don't do anything stupid on this historic occasion, but it would be cool to watch history being made. Its kind of the physics equivalent of a moon rocket launch. It's very widely leaked that history will be made Thursday morning... wouldn't you like to see it?

Backreaction has everything you need to know about gravitational waves for preparation for the webcast.

It's an exciting time to be alive! On the other hand, if the endless leaks and insinuations are bogus, its also an exciting time to be pissed off, too.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Thursday February 11, @01:08AM   Printer-friendly
from the comparing-apples-to-orchards dept.

Most people understand that investing in the future is important, and that goes for conserving nature and natural resources, too. But in the case of investing in such "natural" assets as groundwater, forests, and fish populations, it can be challenging to measure the return on that investment.

A Yale-led research team has adapted traditional asset valuation approaches to measure the value of such natural capital assets, linking economic measurements of ecosystem services with models of natural dynamics and human behavior.

This innovation will enable policymakers to better evaluate conservation and natural resource management programs, make apples-to-apples comparisons between investing in conversation of natural capital and other investments, and provides a component critical to measuring sustainability.

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the authors demonstrate how to price natural capital using the example of the Kansas High Plains' groundwater aquifer -- a critical natural resource that supports the region's agriculture-based economy.

Another method might be to compel politicians and the ultra-wealthy to live in Love Canal for 6 months and then ask them how much they'd pay to get out.

Original Study

Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Wednesday February 10, @11:28PM   Printer-friendly
from the hunt-and-peck dept.

The number of fingers does not determine typing speed, new study shows. People using self-taught typing strategies were found to be as fast as trained typists.

Researchers from Aalto University studied the typing behavior of 30 people covering a broad range of age and skill. Their findings challenge the common belief that you need to have taken a touch typing course – to learn how to type with all 10 fingers – in order to be fast:

"We were surprised to observe that people who took a typing course, performed at similar average speed and accuracy, as those that taught typing to themselves and only used 6 fingers on average", explains doctoral candidate Anna Feit.

This is the first study that explores how people type if they never learned the touch typing system. To record the exact finger movements during typing, the researchers used a so called optical motion capture system. Therefore they placed reflective markers on the joints of the fingers and recorded their position with 12 high-speed infrared cameras. Similar high fidelity systems have been used in professional film-making.

"When you ask a person which fingers they use for typing, they cannot tell much. The motion tracking data exposes it, and for the first time we can exactly say which finger presses which key", explains Dr. Daryl Weir.

Original Submission

posted by CoolHand on Wednesday February 10, @09:46PM   Printer-friendly
from the big-brother-in-action dept.

A user on Voat going by the handle CheesusCrust has done an analysis of Windows 10 telemetry using DD-WRT doing remote logging to a Linux machine, and they have found that even with all of the telemetry options disabled, a clean Windows 10 Enterprise Edition install still appears to be sending substantial amounts of data back to Microsoft. In an eight-hour period, the experiment identified 3967 connection attempts to 51 distinct Microsoft IP addresses. A further update after 30 hours of letting it sit shows a total of 113 different external IPs are accessed. CheesusCrust also performed a further test using the popular anti-Windows 10 telemetry application DisableWinTracking, and found that while it is able to reduce the data being sent back to Microsoft, even the most stringent options cannot completely eliminate it.

Previous SN coverage

Original Submission

posted by CoolHand on Wednesday February 10, @08:01PM   Printer-friendly
from the fun-with-quantums dept.

A researcher from IBM's quantum computing research group has created a startup that could compete with the likes of D-Wave and Google:

The airy Berkeley office space of startup Rigetti Computing boasts three refrigerators—but only one of them stores food. The other two use liquid helium to cool experimental computer chips to a fraction of a degree from absolute zero. The two-year-old company is trying to build the hardware needed to power a quantum computer, which could trounce any conventional machine by tapping into quantum mechanics.

The company aims to produce a prototype chip by the end of 2017 that is significantly more complex than those built by other groups working on fully programmable quantum computers. The following generation of chips should be able to accelerate some kinds of machine learning and run highly accurate chemistry simulations that might unlock new kinds of industrial processes, says Chad Rigetti, the startup's founder and CEO.

[...] Rigetti aims to ultimately set up a kind of quantum-powered cloud computing service, where customers pay to run problems on the company's superconducting chips. It is also working on software to make it easy for other companies to write code for its quantum hardware.

[...] The startup is currently testing a three-qubit chip made using aluminum circuits on a silicon wafer, and the design due next year should have 40 qubits. Rigetti says that's possible thanks to design software his company has created that reduces the number of prototypes that will need to be built on the way to a final design. Versions with 100 or more qubits would be able to improve on ordinary computers when it comes to chemistry simulations and machine learning, he says.

Paywall buster.

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday February 10, @06:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the turning-back-the-clock dept.

Main link: Skylake Overclocking: Regular CPU BCLK overclocking is being removed

Intel has, for many years now, disabled overclocking on all but a select few, highly-priced CPUs, by fixing the maximum clock multiplier. (A practice not limited to Intel, as AMD has also done so on some series). The base clock was technically modifiable, but since it drove not just the CPU, but also RAM and PCIe clocks, you were lucky to get even a few megahertz out of it.

With their newest generation of chips, codenamed "Skylake", the PCIe domain is on a separate clock generator. While Intel officially only supported overclocking on their designated CPUs, and only on their highest-end chipset, SuperMicro, ASRock, and several other motherboard vendors produced motherboards using low-end chipsets that allowed base clock overclocking on any processor. Since this could allow extremely cheap systems to be performance-competitive with much higher-cost systems, albeit with higher cooling requirements and greater risk of failure, Intel was obviously upset.

The story is still developing (no parties have yet been willing to talk on the record, least of all Intel), but the latest BIOS update for several ASRock motherboards includes a firmware update and disabling the BCLK overclocking (the two are believed to be connected - the latest firmware prevents BCLK modification). Additionally, all marketing surrounding this unofficial-official overclocking support has been pulled. SuperMicro and other vendors have not yet done so, but unnamed sources are indicating that they will.

While it may be tempting to put the blame solely on Intel, this was clearly not a feature they intended to support, and the motherboard vendors should have been more cautious about making a feature out of bypassing a limitation on the CPUs, regardless of whether it was an artificial limitation or not. That said, I for one hope AMD's next line of CPUs is both fully competitive with Intel, and fully overclockable across the entire range. Maybe that is what is needed to force Intel to compete on price/performance again.

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday February 10, @05:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the francenbook dept.

French data protection regulator CNIL, has flagged Facebook with a formal notice to comply with European data privacy laws within the next three months, or face possible sanctions. Facebook is said to now be reviewing the CNIL's demands. The CNIL has argued that the social network is violating multiple data protection laws, including the collection of non-member browsing activities. It also added that the platform is gathering data regarding the sexual orientation, religious and political preferences 'without the explicit consent of account holders.' It noted too that Facebook does not notify users at sign-up of their rights concerning their personal data. The CNIL further accused Facebook of setting advertising cookies 'without properly informing and obtaining the consent of internet users.'

Original Submission

posted by takyon on Wednesday February 10, @03:50PM   Printer-friendly
from the works-as-intended dept.

The LA Times reports despite having a cell phone that was owned by one of the two San Bernardino terrorist attackers, the FBI has been unable to decrypt the device. The head of the FBI James B. Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that after more than two months FBI technicians were unable to read the data. The brand and OS of the device has not been released.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday February 10, @02:41PM   Printer-friendly
from the space-is-BIG dept.

Nothing to see here, just a galaxy or three... hundred:

Hundreds of hidden nearby galaxies have been studied for the first time, shedding light on a mysterious gravitational anomaly dubbed the Great Attractor. Despite being just 250 million light-years from Earth — very close in astronomical terms — the new galaxies had been hidden from view until now by our Milky Way Galaxy.

Using CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope equipped with an innovative receiver, an international team of scientists was able to see through the stars and dust of the Milky Way into a previously unexplored region of space. The discovery may help to explain the Great Attractor region, which appears to be drawing the Milky Way and hundreds of thousands of other galaxies towards it with a gravitational force equivalent to a million billion Suns.

Lister Staveley-Smith, from The University of Western Australia node of the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research, said the team found 883 galaxies, a third of which had never been seen before. "The Milky Way is very beautiful of course, and it's very interesting to study our own galaxy, but it completely blocks out the view of the more distant galaxies behind it," he said.

Statement at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, and another article at

The Parkes HI Zone of Avoidance Survey (DOI 10.3847/0004-6256/151/3/52): article is also available here.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Wednesday February 10, @01:09PM   Printer-friendly
from the Department-of-Homeland-Security's-Security-Deportment dept.

Portions of the U.S. government appear to have been hacked once again:

US authorities have acknowledged a data breach affecting the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security - but downplayed its severity. A hacker, or hacking group, published via Twitter what they said were records of 9,000 DHS employees.

According to technology news site Motherboard, the hacker has said he will soon share the personal information of 20,000 DoJ employees, including staff at the FBI. The news site said it had verified small portions of the breach, but also noted that some of the details listed appeared to be incorrect or possibly outdated.

In a statement, the DHS told journalists: "We take these reports very seriously, however there is no indication at this time that there is any breach of sensitive or personally identifiable information." The Department of Justice also downplayed the breach's significance.

The hacker is understood to have used simple human engineering to bypass one stage of the authorities' security systems.

Motherboard quoted the hacker, who explained: "So I called up, told them I was new and I didn't understand how to get past [the portal]. They asked if I had a token code, I said no, they said that's fine - just use our one."

The hackers claims to have downloaded 200 gigabytes of data, which have not been released yet.

Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Wednesday February 10, @11:22AM   Printer-friendly
from the can't-get-these-at-the-circus dept.

Leon Bellan and his colleagues have repurposed cotton candy machines to help create capillary systems for lab-grown organs:

Cotton candy machines may hold the key for making life-sized artificial livers, kidneys, bones and other essential organs. For several years, Leon Bellan, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University, has been tinkering with cotton candy machines, getting them to spin out networks of tiny threads comparable in size, density and complexity to the patterns formed by capillaries – the tiny, thin-walled vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to cells and carry away waste. His goal has been to make fiber networks that can be used as templates to produce the capillary systems required to create full-scale artificial organs."

In an article published online on Feb. 4 by the Advanced Healthcare Materials journal, Bellan and colleagues report that they have succeeded in using this unorthodox technique to produce a three-dimensional artificial capillary system that can keep living cells viable and functional for more than a week, which is a dramatic improvement over current methods.

"Some people in the field think this approach is a little crazy," said Bellan, "But now we've shown we can use this simple technique to make microfluidic networks that mimic the three-dimensional capillary system in the human body in a cell-friendly fashion. Generally, it's not that difficult to make two-dimensional networks, but adding the third dimension is much harder; with this approach, we can make our system as three-dimensional as we like."

[...] Bellan is using a top-down approach. He reports that his cotton-candy spinning method can produce channels ranging from three to 55 microns, with a mean diameter of 35 microns. "So far the other top-down approaches have only managed to create networks with microchannels larger than 100 microns, about ten times the size of capillaries," he said. In addition, many of these other techniques are not able to form networks as complex as the cotton candy approach.

Development of 3D Microvascular Networks Within Gelatin Hydrogels Using Thermoresponsive Sacrificial Microfibers (DOI: 10.1002/adhm.201500792)

Original Submission

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