2021-07-22 12:14:55 ..
2021-07-25 07:14:27 UTC
2021-07-25 14:09:38 UTC --martyb
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) discovered multiple instances of Candida Auris that were resistant to all medicines in two health institutions in Texas and a long-term care facility in Washington, D.C. for the first time.
According to researchers, a deadly, difficult-to-treat fungal infection spreading through nursing homes and hospitals across the United States is becoming even more dangerous. For the first time, the fungus, Candida Auris, was utterly impervious to all existing medication in several cases.
[...] The discovery, announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday, is a concerning step in the evolution of C. Auris, a hardy yeast infection first found in Japan in 2009 and spreading rapidly throughout the globe.
During the coronavirus pandemic, federal health officials believe the disease has expanded even farther, with overburdened hospitals and nursing homes unable to keep up with the surveillance and control procedures needed to manage local outbreaks.
According to the C.D.C.'s recent study, five out of over 120 cases of C. Auris were resistant to therapy.
[...] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not name the facilities where the novel infections occurred. Still, health officials said there was no apparent link between the outbreaks in Texas at a hospital and a long-term care facility that shared patients and in Washington, D.C. at a single long-term care center. Between January and April, epidemics occurred.
According to the C.D.C., about a third of infected patients died within 30 days, although officials said it was unclear if their deaths were caused by the fungus because they were already critically ill.
“Hardware-based improvements are going to get more and more difficult,” said Neil Thompson, an innovation scholar at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL). [...] Thompson, speaking at Supercomputing Frontiers Europe 2021, likely wasn’t wrong: the proximate death of Moore’s law has been a hot topic in the HPC community for a long time.
[...] Thompson opened with a graph of computing power utilized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) over time. “Since the 1950s, there has been about a one trillion-fold increase in the amount of computing power being used in these models,” he said. But there was a problem: tracking a weather forecasting metric called mean absolute error (“When you make a prediction, how far off are you on that prediction?”), Thompson pointed out that “you actually need exponentially more computing power to get that [improved] performance.” Without those exponential gains in computing power, the steady gains in accuracy would slow, as well.
Enter, of course, Moore’s law, and the flattening of CPU clock frequencies in the mid-2000s. “But then we have this division, right?” Thompson said. “We start getting into multicore chips, and we’re starting to get computing power in that very specific way, which is not as useful unless you have that amount of parallelism.” Separating out parallelism, he explained, progress had dramatically slowed. “This might worry us if we want to, say, improve weather prediction at the same speed going forward,” he said.
So in 2020, Thompson and others wrote a paper examining ways to improve performance over time in a post-Moore’s law world. The authors landed on three main categories of promise: software-level improvements; algorithmic improvements; and new hardware architectures.
This third category, Thompson said, is experiencing the biggest moment right now, with GPUs and FPGAs exploding in the HPC scene and ever more tailor-made chips emerging. Just five years ago, only four percent of advanced computing users used specialized chips; now, Thompson said, it was 11 percent, and in five more years, it would be 17 percent. But over time, he cautioned, gains from specialized hardware would encounter similar problems to those currently faced by traditional hardware, leaving researchers looking for yet more avenues to improve performance.
[...] The way past these mathematical limits in algorithm optimization, Thompson explained, was through approximation. He brought back the graph of algorithm improvement over time, adding in approximate algorithms – one 100 percent off, one ten percent off. “If you are willing to accept a ten percent approximation to this problem,” he said, you could get enormous jumps, improving performance by a factor of 32. “We are in the process of analyzing this data right now, but I think what you can already see here is that these approximate algorithms are in fact giving us very very substantial gains.”
Thompson presented another graph, this time charting the balance of approximate versus exact improvements in algorithms over time. “In the 1940s,” he said, “almost all of the improvements that people are making are exact improvements – meaning they’re solving the exact problem. … But you can see that as we approach these later decades, and many of the exact algorithms are starting to become already completely solved in an optimal way … approximate algorithms are becoming more and more important as the way that we are advancing algorithms.”
Charles E. Leiserson, Neil C. Thompson, Joel S. Emer, et al. There’s plenty of room at the Top: What will drive computer performance after Moore’s law? [$], Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.aam9744)
Intel 10nm Enhanced SuperFin has been renamed to Intel 7. Intel revealed that this node is now in volume production and it will see 10 to 15% performance per watt improvement over 10nm SuperFin. This node will be used for Alder Lake and Sapphire Rapids.
Intel 4 is what was previously known as Intel's 7nm node. The manufacturer promises a 20% performance per watt gain over Intel 7. This node will use EUV lithography. The first products to feature Intel 4 are Meteor Lake which had taped in in Q2 2021 and Granite Rapids's compute tile.
[...] Intel 20A node will provide innovations beginning the first half of 2024. The A stands for angstrom, a metric unit 0.1 of the size of a nanometer. This node will introduce a new transistors architecture known as RibbonFET and PowerVia interconnect innovation. Intel does not confirm which product will use the Intel 20A node.
Per Intel's announcement, Intel and Qualcomm are partnering up to get Qualcomm products on Intel's 20A process, one of the company's most advanced (and farthest-out) process node. The first of Intel's "Ångström" process nodes, 20A is due in 2024 and will be where Intel first implements Gate-All-Around (GAA) transistors, one of the major manufacturing technology milestones on Intel's new roadmap.
This is the first time Intel has given a detailed look at the Meteor Lake SOC that features three separate chiplets that are connected together through Forveros technology. Intel is expected to utilize a next-generation core architecture that will power the compute die while the I/O will be located on its own SOC-LP die. The GPU die will also be separate and will be composed of up to 192 EU (96 EU for Desktops & 192 EUs for Mobility). The Meteor Lake lineup will comprise 5-125W CPUs and feature a bump pitch of 36u (microns).
A one-atom-thin 2D magnet developed by Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley could advance new applications in computing and electronics.
[...] The researchers synthesized the new 2D magnet – called a cobalt-doped van der Waals zinc-oxide magnet – from a solution of graphene oxide, zinc, and cobalt.
Just a few hours of baking in a conventional lab oven transformed the mixture into a single atomic layer of zinc-oxide with a smattering of cobalt atoms sandwiched between layers of graphene.
In a final step, the graphene is burned away, leaving behind just a single atomic layer of cobalt-doped zinc-oxide.
[...] To confirm that the resulting 2D film is just one atom thick, Yao and his team conducted scanning electron microscopy experiments at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry to identify the material’s morphology, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging to probe the material atom by atom.
X-ray experiments at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source characterized the 2D material’s magnetic parameters under high temperature.
Additional X-ray experiments at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource verified the electronic and crystal structures of the synthesized 2D magnets. And at Argonne National Laboratory’s Center for Nanoscale Materials, the researchers employed TEM to image the 2D material’s crystal structure and chemical composition.
The researchers found that the graphene-zinc-oxide system becomes weakly magnetic with a 5-6% concentration of cobalt atoms. Increasing the concentration of cobalt atoms to about 12% results in a very strong magnet.
To their surprise, a concentration of cobalt atoms exceeding 15% shifts the 2D magnet into an exotic quantum state of “frustration,” whereby different magnetic states within the 2D system are in competition with each other.
And unlike previous 2D magnets, which lose their magnetism at room temperature or above, the researchers found that the new 2D magnet not only works at room temperature but also at 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit).
“Our 2D magnetic system shows a distinct mechanism compared to previous 2D magnets,” said Chen. “And we think this unique mechanism is due to the free electrons in zinc oxide.”
[...] According to Chen, zinc oxide’s free electrons could act as an intermediary that ensures the magnetic cobalt atoms in the new 2D device continue pointing in the same direction – and thus stay magnetic – even when the host, in this case the semiconductor zinc oxide, is a nonmagnetic material.
“Free electrons are constituents of electric currents. They move in the same direction to conduct electricity,” Yao added, comparing the movement of free electrons in metals and semiconductors to the flow of water molecules in a stream of water.
Rui Chen, Fuchuan Luo, Yuzi Liu, et al. Tunable room-temperature ferromagnetism in Co-doped two-dimensional van der Waals ZnO [open], Nature Communications (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-24247-w)
Two U.S. scientists have won a 1 million euro ($1.18 million) prize for creating a food generator concept that turns plastics into protein.
The 2021 Future Insight Prize went to Ting Lu, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Stephen Techtmann, associate professor of biological sciences at Michigan Technological University, for their project. It uses microbes to degrade plastic waste and convert it into food.
The German science and technology company Merck sponsors the prize. Global plastics production totaled 368 million metric tons in 2019. The only decline in the past 60 years came because the COVID-19 pandemic choked production of goods worldwide as factories sputtered and shipping slowed down.
[...] The two scientists, who call their project a food “generator,” focused on finding an efficient, economical and versatile technology that finds a use for plastics that are at the end of their useful life and would otherwise end up in landfills or oceans.
The resulting foods “contain all the required nutrition, are nontoxic, provide health benefits and additionally allow for personalization needs,” according to Merck.
The scientists learned to exploit synthetically altered microbes, programming them genetically to convert waste into food.
Gives new meaning to the phrase you are what you eat.
Nicholas S. McCarty, Rodrigo Ledesma-Amaro. Synthetic Biology Tools to Engineer Microbial Communities for Biotechnology, Trends in Biotechnology (DOI: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2018.11.002)
The chief executive of tobacco business Philip Morris International has called on the UK government to ban cigarettes within a decade, in a move that would outlaw its own Marlboro brand.
Jacek Olczak said the company could “see the world without cigarettes … and actually, the sooner it happens, the better it is for everyone.” Cigarettes should be treated like petrol cars, the sale of which is due to be banned from 2030, he said.
Government action would end the confusion felt by smokers, some of whom still thought the “alternatives are worse than cigarettes”, Olczak told the Sunday Telegraph. “Give them a choice of smoke-free alternatives … with the right regulation and information it can happen 10 years from now in some countries. You can solve the problem once and forever.”
Philip Morris International (PMI) recently said it wanted half its turnover to come from non-smoking products as it morphs into a “healthcare and wellness company” with executive pay tied to its new mission to “unsmoke the world” by phasing out cigarettes.
Nonetheless the company has come under fire from anti-smoking campaigners who accused it of hypocrisy after it launched a £1bn takeover bid for Vectura, a British pharmacy company that makes asthma inhalers.
Editor's note: this in the 50,000th story submission to SoylentNews! Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this milestone!
Boris Johnson’s plan to lift virtually all of England’s pandemic restrictions on Monday is a threat to the world and provides fertile ground for the emergence of vaccine-resistant variants, international experts say.
Britain’s position as a global transport hub would mean any new variant here would rapidly spread around the world, scientists and physicians warned at an emergency summit. They also expressed grave concerns about Downing Street’s plans.
Government advisers in New Zealand, Israel and Italy were among those who sounded alarm bells about the policy, while more than 1,200 scientists backed a letter to the Lancet journal warning the strategy could allow vaccine-resistant variants to develop.
[...] New coronavirus infections in the UK are at a six-month high, according to government figures, and the number of people in hospital and dying with Covid are at their highest level since March. Thursday’s data showed 3,786 people in hospital with Covid and another 63 virus-related deaths.
Downing Street, which has defended the lifting of all remaining legal restrictions on social gatherings in England on 19 July, is hoping the rapid rollout of vaccines will keep a lid on the number of people becoming seriously ill.
Tesla recently announced that any Tesla user can subscribe to Autopilot’s Full Self-Driving feature for $99 to $199 per month, but it seems the new feature still comes with its fair share of kinks. Recently a Tesla driver took to Twitter to share an entertaining little problem with the system.
It turns out that the feature mistakes the full moon for a yellow light and slows down the vehicle. It should be noted that this is an extremely yellow and quite low moon.
NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter successfully completed its 10th flight on Mars on Saturday, bringing its total distance flown on the Red Planet to more than one mile (roughly 1.60 kilometers) and capturing important images to help out its friend, the Perseverance rover.
In a Twitter post early Sunday, NASA confirmed that its helicopter had flown over an area called “Raised Ridges,” which is part of a fracture system that the Perseverance team finds intriguing and is considering visiting sometime in the future. Fracture systems often operate as pathways for fluid to get underground. If water did indeed flow through Raised Ridges, it would be an ideal spot to look for evidence of past Martian life, which is the rover’s primary goal, and maybe even drill a sample for further examination.
And, just a reminder:
The status update also takes the time to remind us how Ingenuity has gone above and beyond its initial goals and carried out impressive maneuvers. It has survived on Mars for 107 sols, or Martian days, which is 76 more than its original mission.
In addition, the helicopter has also managed to perform two flight software updates designed to improve its flight and color image capture abilities. Ingenuity has flown for a total of more than 14 minutes on Mars, or more than 112% above its performance in tech demos. It has also given us new views of the Red Planet, taking 43 13-megapixel color images and 809 black and white navigation images.
The push to make foie gras, the fattened liver of a duck or goose, in a lab comes amid a push to find a sustainable, ethical alternative to meat raised for slaughter. Most foie gras is made by force-feeding ducks and geese through a tube to engorge their livers up to 10 times their normal sizes. The process can leave ducks too big to walk or breathe, according to animal activists.
[...] With growing opposition to foie gras because of animal cruelty concerns, Nicolas Morin-Forest, Gourmey’s co-founder and chief executive, said that producing the delicacy from cultivated cells was a way to preserve a centuries-old French culinary tradition.
[...] Gourmey engineers faux meat by taking cells out of a freshly laid duck egg and placing them into a cultivator. The cells are then fed with proteins, amino acids and sugar, similar to the nutrients a duck would get from a diet of oats, corn and grass. The cells are then harvested and transformed into foie gras in a process that uses significantly less land and water than traditional methods.
[...] Mr. Morin-Forest said that, on a technical level, foie gras was well suited to be grown in a lab precisely because of its delicate texture compared with other types of meat.
Although initially expecting to only sell a few thousand units, the Raspberry Pi has sold more than 40 million computers to date. Over time it has developed quite a fan base. Part of cultivating that base has been through a dedicated blog and help forum. The Raspberry Pi blog and forum have now turned 10 years old.
We’ve kept every single blog post we’ve ever written up on this site, starting way back in July 2011. Ten years is a long time in internet terms, so you’ll find some dead links in some earlier posts; and this website has undergone a number of total redesigns, so early stuff doesn’t tend to have the pretty thumbnail associated with it to show you what it’s all about. (Our page design didn’t use them back then.) But all the same, for the internet archeologists among you, or those interested in the beginnings of Raspberry Pi, those posts from before we even had hardware are worth flicking through.
There are two organizations involved. Raspberry Pi Trading makes the hardware, the magazines, the peripherals, etc. The Raspberry Pi Foundation runs the charitable programs.
(2021) Raspberry Pi Begins Selling its RP2040 Microcontroller for $1
(2021) The Ongoing Raspberry Pi Fiasco
(2021) Raspberry Pi Users Mortified as Microsoft Repository that Phones Home is Added to Pi OS
(2020) Raspberry Pi: We're Making it Easier to Build Our Devices into Your Hardware
(2020) Raspberry Pi 400: Its Designer Reveals More About the Faster Pi 4 in the $70 PC's Keyboard
If you walk along the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in Amsterdam, you will notice an elegant and aesthetically pleasing steel bridge for pedestrians. If not for the media attention it got, you would even consider it a regular feature of the city's architecture. But this bridge loaded with sensors, is actually the world's first 3D-printed steel bridge, according to an Imperial College London press release.
Printed by four robots in a matter of just six months, the bridge heralds a new beginning in additive manufacturing. Most 3D printing projects, whether they are designed for outer space or rapid infrastructure, use proprietary inks or starting material. This bridge, however, uses steel, a tried and tested construction material, and is actually an experiment to test whether it can find applications in 3D printing.
"A 3D-printed metal structure large and strong enough to handle pedestrian traffic has never been constructed before," said Imperial co-contributor Prof. Leroy Gardner of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, in a press release. "We have tested and simulated the structure and its components throughout the printing process and upon its completion, and it's fantastic to see it finally open to the public."
The project, initiated in 2015, used multi-axis robots to heat the steel to 2,732°F (1,500°C) and constructed the bridge layer by layer. The almost 40-foot (12-meter)-long bridge is made up of close to 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg) of stainless steel. Considering the way the bridge was constructed, it was only befitting that a robot was actually used to inaugurate it. Dutch Queen Maxima pressed a green button to set a robotic arm equipped with a pair of scissors into motion to cut the ribbon and opened the bridge to pedestrians and cyclists.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has filed suit against gaming giant Activision Blizzard, alleging that they fostered a hostile and sexist work environment for female employees, who comprise about 20% of their workforce. From Bloomberg Law:
Video game giant Activision Blizzard Inc., maker of games including World of Warcraft and Diablo, fosters a "frat boy" culture in which female employees are subjected to constant sexual harassment, unequal pay, and retaliation, according to a lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
A two-year investigation by the state agency found that the company discriminated against female employees in terms and conditions of employment, including compensation, assignment, promotion, and termination. Company leadership consistently failed to take steps to prevent discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, the agency said.
[...] The agency seeks an injunction forcing compliance with workplace protections, as well as unpaid wages, pay adjustments, back pay, and lost wages and benefits for female employees.
"We value diversity and strive to foster a workplace that offers inclusivity for everyone. There is no place in our company or industry, or any industry, for sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind," a spokesperson for Activision Blizzard said in a statement. "We take every allegation seriously and investigate all claims. In cases related to misconduct, action was taken to address the issue."
[...] "The picture the DFEH paints is not the Blizzard workplace of today," the company said.
Some examples of the allegations include "cube crawls", where male employees would get drunk and harass female employees, delegating heavy workloads to women while paying them less, and even an incident where a female employee committed suicide after nude photos of her were passed around during a company holiday party.
The case is Calif. Dep't of Fair Emp. & Housing v. Activision Blizzard Inc., Cal. Super. Ct., No. 21stcv26571, 7/20/21. Further coverage of the story at The Verge, the BBC, and CNN.
It is probably not a good idea to play New World right now. The closed Beta and Alpha builds of this game have reportedly been a reason for the bricking of GeForce RTX 3090 graphics cards, multiple users on the official game's forum have reported.
The issue appears to affect mainly GeForce RTX 3090 graphics cards which are reportedly overheating and see power spikes. The game has an uncapped framerate in the main menus, which is usually associated with buzzing capacitors. Most users however have reported that EVGA RTX 3090 cards specifically are the most affected brand. A number of the RTX 3090 cards have been bricked in the process.
[...] Update: Amazon Games released the following statement:
Hundreds of thousands of people played in the New World Closed Beta yesterday, with millions of total hours played. We've received a few reports of players using high-performance graphics cards experiencing hardware failure when playing New World.
New World makes standard DirectX calls as provided by the Windows API. We have seen no indication of widespread issues with 3090s, either in the beta or during our many months of alpha testing.
The New World Closed Beta is safe to play. In order to further reassure players, we will implement a patch today that caps frames per second on our menu screen. We're grateful for the support New World is receiving from players around the world, and will keep listening to their feedback throughout Beta and beyond.
The Conversation discusses the archeological time line indicating the earliest known usage of various psychoactive substances. They conclude that it is most likely that use of psychoactive substances mostly began relatively late in our history. It probably began after the Neolithic Revolution in 10,000 BC when we invented farming and civilisation. Wine, betel, and cannabis rank among those with the earliest evidence of use found so far.
Archaeology suggests alcohol and drugs date back millennia, to early agricultural societies. But there’s little evidence early hunter-gatherers used them. That implies something about agricultural societies and the civilisations they gave rise to promoted substance use. But why?
It’s possible large civilisations simply drive innovation of all kinds: in ceramics, textiles, metals – and psychoactive substances. Perhaps alcohol and drugs also promoted civilisation – drinking can help people socialise, altered perspectives encourage creativity, and caffeine makes us productive. And it may just be safer to get drunk or high in a city than the savannah.
A darker possibility is that psychoactive substance use developed in response to civilisation’s ills. Large societies create large problems – wars, plagues, inequalities in wealth and power – against which individuals are relatively powerless. Perhaps when people couldn’t change their circumstances, they decided to change their minds.
It’s a complex problem. Just thinking about it makes me want to grab a beer.
Some psychoactive compounds are stimulants and increase alertness, others decrease it. Some affect mood, and others alter perception of reality.