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What should be the Book Club pick for December 2018?

  • Snow Crash - by Neal Stephenson
  • We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse #1) - by Dennis Taylor
  • Dawn (Xenogenesis #1) - by Octavia Butler
  • The Metropolitan Man (Fan Fiction) - by Alexander Wales
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow (Non-Fiction) - by Daniel Kahneman
  • Superforecasting (Non-Fiction) - by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner
  • Makers (Fiction) - by Cory Doctorow
  • Rip Foster in Ride the Gray Planet - by Harold L. Goodwin

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:26 | Votes:48

posted by takyon on Saturday September 22, @06:25PM   Printer-friendly
from the final-puff dept.

Into the pot you go: Maine restaurant sedates lobsters with marijuana smoke

Lobsters in one Maine restaurant go out in a blaze of glory once they hit the pot. The owner of a lobster joint is sedating her crustaceans with marijuana smoke before cooking them – granting them, she says, a blissfully humane death.

Charlotte Gill, owner of Charlotte's Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor, told the Portland Press Herald that she had been looking for a way to reduce the suffering of her signature menu item. She experimented with blowing marijuana smoke into a tank with one lobster, Roscoe (basically, she hot-boxed him). When Gill then removed Roscoe's claw bands and returned him to a tank with the other lobsters, she says, he was less aggressive. Gill has a medical marijuana license.

She plans to offer this cooking method as an option for customers who want their lobsters to be baked before they're boiled. But that doesn't mean customers will get stoned from their dinner.

"THC breaks down completely by 392 degrees, therefore we will use both steam as well as a heat process that will expose the meat to 420-degree extended temperature, in order to ensure there is no possibility of carry-over effect," Gill told the Press Herald. So where some see a humane death for the lobster, others see a waste of perfectly good weed.

Related: Switzerland Bans Lobster Boiling Without Stunning or Killing Them


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Saturday September 22, @03:59PM   Printer-friendly
from the read-and-find-out dept.

How long does a quantum jump take?

It was one of the crucial experiments in quantum physics: when light falls on certain materials, electrons are released from the surface. Albert Einstein was the first to explain this phenomenon in 1905, when he spoke of "light quanta" -- the smallest units of light that we call photons today.

In tiny fractions of a second, an electron of the material absorbs a photon, "jumps" into another state and leaves the surface. This "photoelectric effect" is so fast that until now it has mostly been regarded as instantaneous -- as a sudden change of state, from one moment to the next. However, new measurement methods are so precise that it has now become possible to observe such a process and to measure its duration precisely. A team from the Vienna University of Technology, together with research groups from Garching, Munich and Berlin, determined the duration of the photoelectric effect at a tungsten surface. The results were published in the journal Nature.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday September 22, @01:38PM   Printer-friendly
from the powered-exoskeleton? dept.

If we wish to colonize another world, finding a planet with a gravitational field that humans can survive and thrive under will be crucial. If its gravity is too strong our blood will be pulled down into our legs, our bones might break, and we could even be pinned helplessly to the ground.

Finding the gravitational limit of the human body is something that's better done before we land on a massive new planet. Now, in a paper published on the pre-print server arXiv, three physicists, claim that the maximum gravitational field humans could survive long-term is four-and-a-half times the gravity on Earth.

Or, at least you could if you are an Icelandic strongman – and Game of Thrones monster – who can walk with more than half a metric ton on your back. For mere mortals, the researchers say, it would need to be a little weaker.

[...] For the maximum gravity at which we could take a step, the team turned to Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, an Icelandic strongman who once walked five steps with a 1430 pound log on his back, smashing a 1,000-year-old record[*].

[*] YouTube video.

What's the Maximum Gravity We Could Survive?


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Saturday September 22, @11:17AM   Printer-friendly
from the no-comment dept.

Submitted via IRC for Fnord666

A new study in the journal Scientific Reports gets to the bottom of it: Why do dogs that are trained to locate poop sometimes find the wrong kind of poop?

[...] In her own work, DeMatteo has successfully used scat-detection dogs to identify the routes traveled by endangered pumas and other reclusive carnivores along a biologically important corridor in Argentina.

Detection dogs are great at determining the presence of specific animals because they can find droppings hidden in grass, droppings that have been rained on and disintegrated into the mud -- or even droppings that have been eaten and then recycled.

Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180914100433.htm


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday September 22, @08:56AM   Printer-friendly
from the vroom-vroom dept.

From the University of Texas at Austin:

In a breakthrough for nanotechnology, engineers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed the first method for selecting and switching the mechanical motion of nanomotors among multiple modes with simple visible light as the stimulus.

The capability of mechanical reconfiguration could lead to a new class of controllable nanoelectromechanical and nanorobotic devices for a variety of fields including drug delivery, optical sensing, communication, molecule release, detection, nanoparticle separation and microfluidic automation.

The finding, made by Donglei (Emma) Fan, associate professor at the Cockrell School of Engineering's Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Ph.D. candidate Zexi Liang, demonstrates how, depending on the intensity, light can instantly increase, stop and even reverse the rotation orientation of silicon nanomotors in an electric field. This effect and the underlying physical principles have been unveiled for the first time. It switches mechanical motion of rotary nanomotors among various modes instantaneously and effectively.

Journal Reference:
Zexi Liang, Donglei Fan. Visible light–gated reconfigurable rotary actuation of electric nanomotors. Science Advances, 2018; 4 (9): eaau0981 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau0981


Original Submission

posted by takyon on Saturday September 22, @06:35AM   Printer-friendly
from the non-trivial dept.

One of the most important unsolved problems in mathematics may have been solved, retired mathematician Michael Atiyah is set to claim on Monday. In a talk at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany, Atiyah will present what he refers to as a "simple proof" of the Riemann hypothesis, a problem which has eluded mathematicians for almost 160 years.

Born in 1929, Atiyah is one of the UK's most eminent mathematical figures, having received the two awards often referred to as the Nobel prizes of mathematics, the Fields medal and the Abel Prize. He also, at various times, served as president of the London Mathematical Society, the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

If a solution to the Riemann hypothesis is confirmed, it would be big news. Among other things, the hypothesis is intimately connected to the distribution of prime numbers, those indivisible by any whole number other than themselves and one. If the hypothesis is proven to be correct, mathematicians would be armed with a map to the location of all such prime numbers, a breakthrough with far-reaching repercussions in the field.

New Scientist

[ALSO COVERED BY]:

Sir Atiyah's conference on the Riemann Hypothesis

Michael Atiyah and the Reimann hypothesis

[RELATED]:

Millennium Problems


Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Saturday September 22, @04:16AM   Printer-friendly
from the payload-for-science dept.

Hayabusa2 conducts MINERVA-II deployment on Asteroid Ryugu

The Japanese asteroid sampling mission Hayabusa2 – launched on December 3, 2014 aboard an H-IIA rocket from Tanegashima, Japan – completed its long flight to asteroid Ryugu (formerly 1999 JU3) before – on September 21 – achieving the milestone of deploying its two tiny MINERVA-II robots/rovers.

[...] The Hayabusa2 mission is intended to image and sample the asteroid 1999 JU3, discovered in May 1999, now known as Ryugu, and to return samples of the asteroid, including samples excavated from an impactor to collect materials from under the surface, to Earth for analysis in laboratories.

[...] Besides the primary and backup sample collectors, the mission includes three MINERVA "hoppers" similar to the one used on the original Hayabusa mission that will land at several locations on the surface to study these locations with cameras and thermometers.

An impactor (SCI) with a 2 kg pure copper lump (Liner) will be used to excavate a crater on the surface, and there will be a sub-satellite that will be released to observe the impact.

Images from MINERVA-II 1 deployment.

162173 Ryugu and Hayabusa2.

Also at BBC, The Register, Space.com (alt).

Previously: Hayabusa2 Approaches Asteroid Ryugu
Hayabusa2 Reaches Asteroid 162173 Ryugu


Original Submission

posted by takyon on Saturday September 22, @01:55AM   Printer-friendly
from the jet-drag dept.

Microsoft's Jet crash: Zero-day flaw drops after deadline passes:

The Zero Day Initiative has gone public with an unpatched remote-code execution bug in Microsoft's Jet database engine, after giving Redmond 120 days to fix it. The Windows giant did not address the security blunder in time, so now everyone knows about the flaw, and no official patch is available.

The bug, reported to Microsoft on May 8 with a 120-day deadline before full disclosure, was described on Thursday by ZDI, here. It was discovered by Lucas Leong of Trend Micro Security Research.

The bad news: it's a remote-code execution vulnerability, specifically, an out-of-bounds memory write. The good news is that an attacker can only trigger the bug by tricking the victim into opening a specially crafted Jet file, and any arbitrary malicious code smuggled in the document is executed only with the user's privileges (we've all made sure that users don't have admin privilege, right?) The booby-trapped Jet file can also be opened using JavaScript, so someone could be fooled into viewing a webpage that uses JS to open the file, causing the code to run if it's picked up by the database.

The other good news is that the Jet database engine is not terribly well deployed: it's mostly associated with Microsoft Access and Visual Basic. However, if you are using it, you probably will want to stop users from opening any maliciously rigged files.


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday September 21, @11:58PM   Printer-friendly
from the Wait-until-version-2.0 dept.

Nvidia's Turing pricing strategy has been 'poorly received,' says Instinet

Instinet analyst Romit Shah commented Friday on Nvidia Corp.'s new Turing GPU, now that reviews of the product are out. "The 2080 TI is indisputably the best consumer GPU technology available, but at a prohibitive cost for many gamers," he wrote. "Ray tracing and DLSS [deep learning super sampling], while apparently compelling features, are today just 'call options' for when game developers create content that this technology can support."

Nvidia shares fall after Morgan Stanley says the performance of its new gaming card is disappointing

"As review embargos broke for the new gaming products, performance improvements in older games is not the leap we had initially hoped for," Morgan Stanley analyst Joseph Moore said in a note to clients on Thursday. "Performance boost on older games that do not incorporate advanced features is somewhat below our initial expectations, and review recommendations are mixed given higher price points." Nvidia shares closed down 2.1 percent Thursday.

Moore noted that Nvidia's new RTX 2080 card performed only 3 percent better than the previous generation's 1080Ti card at 4K resolutions.

And a counterpoint:

Morgan Stanley's Failure To Comprehend Bleeding Edge GPU Tech Results In NVIDIA Downgrade

Morgan Stanley appears to have completely missed the point with NVIDIA's bleeding edge RTX series, treating it with such a tone-deaf rigor and an apparent lack of understanding of the underlying tech involved, that is almost impressive. They reached a "disappointed" conclusion based on conventional performance of an unconventional product, which wouldn't in itself be so bad if it weren't for the fact that 2/3rds of the RTX's value proposition, which includes conventional-performance-enhancing-features, isn't even available yet. But then again, these are the same peeps that gave AMD a price target of $11 before drastically revising their estimates – so maybe it's not that bad an analysis.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley appear to have access to a crystal ball, because while most of us are waiting for NVIDIA to get its act together and give us our promised titles with RTX and DLSS support (so we can judge whether said features are worth the money being asked) they have simply consulted this coveted spherical mirror and formed conclusions already, deeming it unworthy of the market. It's only a pity this mirror didn't help them with forecasting AMD.

See also: Nvidia's Botched RTX 20 Series Launch: 'You Can't Benchmark Goals'

Previously: Nvidia Announces Turing Architecture With Focus on Ray-Tracing and Lower-Precision Operations
Nvidia Announces RTX 2080 Ti, 2080, and 2070 GPUs, Claims 25x Increase in Ray-Tracing Performance
10 Reasons Linux Gamers Might Want To Pass On The NVIDIA RTX 20 Series


Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday September 21, @10:27PM   Printer-friendly
from the Sky's-the-limit dept.

The ESA teamed with Nissan to build an off-road astronomy lab

Nissan unveiled its Navara Dark Sky concept vehicle at the Hannover Motor Show this week, and it's a vehicle designed for astronomers. The truck is an enhanced version of the automaker's Navara vehicle and along with including some handy new features, it also has a trailer in tow that carries a powerful PlaneWave telescope. Designed with the European Space Agency, the trailer not only houses the telescope but has a number of features that protect the telescope and help researchers collect and transmit data.

The trailer boasts a refrigerated interior that helps stabilize the telescope and battery packs can power a WiFi hotspot, a laptop station and a UHF transmitter for data relay. Further, the truck itself makes use of red lighting in order to cut down on light pollution while the ProPilot driver assistance technology takes the trailer into account and helps locate parking that best accommodates the trailer and telescope.

Seems like a good platform for measuring occultations.

Also at Autoblog.


Original Submission

posted by takyon on Friday September 21, @08:49PM   Printer-friendly
from the get-a-grip dept.

Yale News:

[Robotic] skins enable users to design their own robotic systems. Although the skins are designed with no specific task in mind, Kramer-Bottiglio said, they could be used for everything from search-and-rescue robots to wearable technologies. The results of the team's work are published today in Science Robotics [DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aat1853] [DX].

The skins are made from elastic sheets embedded with sensors and actuators developed in Kramer-Bottiglio's lab. Placed on a deformable object — a stuffed animal or a foam tube, for instance — the skins animate these objects from their surfaces. The makeshift robots can perform different tasks depending on the properties of the soft objects and how the skins are applied. [...] Robots are typically built with a single purpose in mind. The robotic skins, however, allow users to create multi-functional robots on the fly. That means they can be used in settings that hadn't even been considered when they were designed, said Kramer-Bottiglio.

The robotic skin you had carry your coffee cup to you can now be used for... other things.


Original Submission

posted by takyon on Friday September 21, @07:11PM   Printer-friendly
from the Molly-bathing-for-fun dept.

Scientists have discovered that your ordinary, everyday octopus can get "high" on MDMA just like humans. While intoxicated with "molly", an octopus is likely to be more social and friendly towards others, changing from being antisocial to highly social, much like how the drug affects humans.

Human and octopus lineages are separated by over 500 million years of evolution and show divergent anatomical patterns of brain organisation, which makes this find surprising. This may make the octopus an attractive test subject for future drug trials.

In order to test the theory that an octopus is affected by MDMA in the same way as a human, an octopus was submerged in a tank of water mixed with MDMA, and later put into a series of three connected chambers, one of which had a caged octopus underneath. The stoned octopus chose to spend its time trying to play with the caged octopus, in a complete reversal of sober octopus nature.

A Conserved Role for Serotonergic Neurotransmission in Mediating Social Behavior in Octopus (open, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.07.061) (DX)


Original Submission

posted by takyon on Friday September 21, @05:30PM   Printer-friendly
from the trickle dept.

Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd

China Blocks Twitch Game-Streaming Service

Video game-streaming service Twitch has been blocked in China.

Since 20 September, Twitch's website has been unreachable from the country and its app has been removed from the local Apple App Store.

Twitch has confirmed that it is being blocked but it has not said why the authorities have imposed the restriction.

The service was cut off shortly after enjoying a significant bump in popularity among Chinese gamers. The streaming service has been gaining a larger following in China over the last few months. Many keen gamers flocked to it in late August to watch eSports matches being played at the Asian Games in Jakarta.

Not a fan of Twitch myself, but I'm even less of a fan of censorship.


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Friday September 21, @03:15PM   Printer-friendly
from the ♪I've-been-caught-stealing-once-when-I-was-5♪ dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984

Amazon uses fake packages to catch delivery drivers who are stealing, according to sources with knowledge of the practice.

The company plants the packages — internally referred to as "dummy" packages — in the trucks of drivers at random. The dummy packages have fake labels and are often empty.

[...] During deliveries, drivers scan the labels of every package they deliver. When they scan a fake label on a dummy package, an error message will pop up.

When this happens, drivers might call their supervisors to address the problem, or keep the package in their truck and return it to an Amazon warehouse at the end of their shift.

Drivers, in theory, could also choose to steal the package. The error message means the package isn't detected in Amazon's system. As a result, it could go unnoticed if the package were to go missing.

"If you bring the package back, you are innocent. If you don't, you're a thug," said Sid Shah, a former manager for DeliverOL, a courier company that delivers packages for Amazon.

Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-sets-traps-for-drivers-2018-9


Original Submission

posted by chromas on Friday September 21, @01:31PM   Printer-friendly
from the ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ dept.

Spotify to let artists post music without labels:

In a move with the power to shake up the music industry, Spotify said Thursday that it will allow select artists to upload songs directly without record labels or distributors.

Spotify, by far the biggest player in the fast-growing format of streaming, said that the feature for now is only in the test phase for select US-based independent artists who have secured their own copyrights.

But the feature, if eventually put to scale, could in the long run drastically change the business decisions for artists who would not need to go through a label or one of the batch of new companies, such as TuneCore, that provide uploading services for independent artists.

Spotify said artists would simply upload their songs to the platform, first seeing a preview of how it will look, with the Swedish company automatically sending royalties each month.


Original Submission