2018-07-01 00:00:00 ..
2018-11-10 11:32:55 UTC
2018-11-10 12:56:46 UTC
We always have a place for talented people, visit the Get Involved section on the wiki to see how you can make SoylentNews better.
The kilogram — anywhere in the world, for any purpose — is based on the exact weight of a golf-ball-sized chunk of platinum and iridium stored under three glass bell jars in a vault in an ornate building outside of Paris. Accessing the vault requires three people with three separate keys and the oversight of the Bureau Internationale des Poids et Mesures, the international organization that oversees the International System of Units.
Despite all of this security, in the 129 years since the International Prototype of the Kilogram was forged, polished and sanctioned as an artifact of measurement, it seems to have lost a tiny amount of material.
[...] On Friday, metrologists — people who study the science of measurements — and representatives from 57 nations will gather in a conference room in Versailles, France to redefine the kilogram. In other words: the way we weigh the world is about to change.
From New Atlas:
A new study from the Telethon Kids Institute in Australia has revealed a possible association between intellectual disability and some specific forms of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). Experts are urging caution when interpreting these results, as it is unclear exactly what may be causing the increased rates of intellectual disability.
The study tracked over 200,000 live births between 1994 and 2002. A little over one percent of those births were conceived using an ART technique. Overall, the results showed only a small increase in intellectual disability relating to ART (1 in 48 for ART versus 1 in 59 for non-ART). However, a specific technique called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), showed a more significant increase in risk for intellectual disability (1 in 32).
Scientists led by the University of Copenhagen's Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark have found an ancient meteor crater under the Greenland ice cap that's larger than Paris. Discovered using ground-penetrating radar data gathered by NASA, the possibly three-million-year-old impact crater is 19 mi (31 km) in diameter, about 1,000 ft (305 m) deep, and is buried under 3,200 ft (1,000 m) of glacial ice.
Until now, Greenland was thought to be devoid of impact craters. With its permanent shroud of ever-moving glaciers, the giant island was considered too erosive for any craters to survive for long before being ground away. However, the discovery of the crater under the Hiawatha Glacier shows that not only does the region have impact craters, it also has one of the 25 largest impact craters on Earth.
At last we know the source of the parasite that killed Isaiah's father.
A Micron buddy told me about this when the story broke, and I was sure someone would pick it up here. So though it's a bit late, I hope you enjoy it.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday unveiled an indictment against two companies based in China and Taiwan and three individuals, saying they conspired to steal trade secrets from U.S. semiconductor company Micron Technology Inc relating to its research and development of memory storage devices.
The charges against Taiwan-based United Microelectronics Corp, China state-owned Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co Ltd and three individuals who once worked for a unit of Micron mark the fourth case brought by the Justice Department since September as part of a broader crackdown against alleged Chinese espionage on U.S. companies.
Increasing the scary factor was that one guy was a Director at Micron. So he probably had access to far more intel than the average molerat.
While the list isn't comprehensive, it looked at 70 popular items and found that a little over 25 of them meet Mozilla's minimum security standards. The most secure gadgets: the Nintendo Switch, a Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit that mixes wand magic and teaching kids how to code, and an open-source smart speaker called Mycroft Mark 1.
Also at Engadget.
The Justice Department has prepared an indictment against the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, marking a drastic escalation of the government's yearslong battle with him and his anti-secrecy group. It was not clear if prosecutors have filed charges against Mr. Assange. The indictment came to light late Thursday through an unrelated court filing in which prosecutors inadvertently mentioned charges against him. "The court filing was made in error," said Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the United States attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia. "That was not the intended name for this filing."
[...] Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at George Washington University who closely tracks court cases, uncovered the filing and posted it on Twitter.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to say on Thursday what led to the inadvertent disclosure. It was made in a recently unsealed filing in an apparently unrelated sex-crimes case charging a man named Seitu Sulayman Kokayi with coercing and enticing an underage person to engage in unlawful sexual activity. Mr. Kokayi was charged in early August, and on Aug. 22, prosecutors filed a three-page document laying out boilerplate arguments for why his case at that time needed to remain sealed.
While the filing started out referencing Mr. Kokayi, federal prosecutors abruptly switched on its second page to discussing the fact that someone named "Assange" had been secretly indicted, and went on to make clear that this person was the subject of significant publicity, lived abroad and would need to be extradited — suggesting that prosecutors had inadvertently pasted text from a similar court filing into the wrong document and then filed it.
"Another procedure short of sealing will not adequately protect the needs of law enforcement at this time because, due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged," prosecutors wrote. They added, "The complaint, supporting affidavit, and arrest warrant, as well as this motion and the proposed order, would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter."
Previously: Prominent Whistleblowers and Journalists Defend Julian Assange at Online Vigil
Ecuador Reportedly Almost Ready to Hand Julian Assange Over to UK Authorities
DNC Serves WikiLeaks Lawsuit Over Twitter; US Senate Invites Assange to Testify for Russia Probe
The Guardian: Russian Diplomats Planned to Sneak Julian Assange Out of the UK
Julian Assange Sues Ecuador for "Violating His Fundamental Rights"
UK Said Assange Would Not be Extradited If He Leaves Embassy Refuge
Ongoing Bitcoin woes left the channel holding all the cards, and that's not a good thing
Nvidia has turned in growth in revenue and profit, but has been punished for missing its guidance in the third quarter of its fiscal 2019, all amid a continuing sharp drop in demand from crypto-currency miners.
Its stock fell as much as 20 per cent after it reported on Thursday:
- Revenue of $3.18bn, up 21 per cent year-on-year, during the three months to the end of October.
- Net income of $1.23bn in that quarter, up 47 per cent year-on-year.
- GAAP diluted earnings per share of $1.97, up 48 per cent year-on-year.
Nvidia missed forecasts because of a decline in what was formerly one of its most important growth markets – cryptocurrency mining rigs. With Bitcoin and Ethereum declining in value, big mining rigs are less economic.
As CEO and cofounder Jensen Huang said in the company's media announcement: "Our near-term results reflect excess channel inventory post the crypto-currency boom, which will be corrected."
CFO Colette Kress told analysts on a conference call that GaaP gross margins grew 90 basis points year-on-year, reflecting "our continued shift towards higher-value platforms", but the crypto collapse meant Nvidia suffered a "$57mn charge for prior architecture and chips."
[...] The company's announcement noted that in the last year, there was "a 48 per cent jump over last year in the number of systems using NVIDIA GPU accelerators, climbing to 127, including the fastest in the world, No 1 in the US, No 1 in Europe and No 1 in Japan".
Was nice while it lasted. Now that Bitcoin has dropped from $19,500 to $5,500 over the past 11 months and other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and Litecoin have seen drops of 80-90%, a one-time bright spot in NVIDIA's revenue stream has passed. How much of an opportunity is this for AMD?
BlackBerry on Friday announced that it has agreed to acquire next-generation endpoint security firm Cylance for US $1.4 billion in cash.
In addition to the cash payment, BlackBerry will assume unvested Cylance employee incentive awards.
The deal is expected to close before the end of BlackBerry's current fiscal year (February 2019), and Cylance will operate as a separate business unit within BlackBerry.
Cylance, which has raised nearly $300 million in funding, currently has more than 4,000 customers, including more than 20% of the Fortune 500. The company previously said that it had annual revenues over $130 million for fiscal year 2018, and over 90% year-over-year growth.
Cylance's flagship endpoint security product, CylancePROTECT, takes a mathematical and machine learning approach to identifying and containing zero day and advanced attacks. The company has been utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning as part of its core marketing message since the company was founded in 2012.
"We plan on immediately expanding the capabilities across BlackBerry's 'chip-to-edge' portfolio, including QNX, our safety-certified embedded OS that is deployed in more than 120 million vehicles, robot dogs, medical devices, and more," a BlackBerry company spokesperson told SecurityWeek. "Over time, we plan to integrate Cylance technology with our Spark platform, which is at the center of our strategy to ensure data flowing between endpoints (in a car, business, or smart city) is secured, private, and trusted."
Loved the keyboard on my now-long-since-dead BlackBerry Curve. Saw their struggles with bringing out an Android handset and am quite frankly very much surprised that they had this large of a war chest to invest in such an acquisition. Anybody here still using a BlackBerry? Which one?
In just a few weeks, humanity may take its first paid ride into the age of driverless cars. Waymo, the secretive subsidiary of Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., is planning to launch the world's first commercial driverless car service in early December, according to a person familiar with the plans. It will operate under a new brand and compete directly with Uber and Lyft.
Waymo is keeping the new name a closely guarded secret until the formal announcement, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans haven't been made public.
"Waymo has been working on self-driving technology for nearly a decade, with safety at the core of everything we do," the company said in an emailed statement. A Waymo spokesperson declined to comment on the name of the new service or timing of the launch.
It's a big milestone for self-driving cars, but it won't exactly be a "flip-the-switch" moment. Waymo isn't planning a splashy media event, and the service won't be appearing in an app store anytime soon, according to the person familiar with the program. Instead, things will start small—perhaps dozens or hundreds of authorized riders in the suburbs around Phoenix, covering about 100 square miles.
The first wave of customers will likely draw from Waymo's Early Rider Program—a test group of 400 volunteer families who have been riding Waymos for more than a year. The customers who move to the new service will be released from their non-disclosure agreements, which means they'll be free to talk about it, snap selfies, and take friends or even members of the media along for rides. New customers in the Phoenix area will be gradually phased in as Waymo adds more vehicles to its fleet to ensure a balance of supply and demand.
Related: Google Waymo Vehicles to Hit the Road This Month
Waymo Orders Thousands More Chrysler Pacifica Minivans for Driverless Fleet
Walmart and Waymo to Trial Driverless Shuttle Service in Phoenix for Grocery Pickups
Cannabis retailers in Canada began to run low on supplies from the very first day of legalisation a month ago. How long are shortages expected to continue as the new market for recreational cannabis finds its feet?
In the early days of legalisation, James Burns was confident his company had enough product on the shelves of its five new cannabis retail stores, even though they only received half of their order from the provincial supplier. Now, he has had staff refreshing the government supply website in the early hours to snap up scarce new stock as soon as it's available, and is considering restricting store hours.
"While there was product to order we were very comfortably getting a large amount of it," says Burns, the CEO of Alcanna, a company that owns a chain of private liquor stores in Canada and the US and, now, cannabis stores in the province of Alberta. "But obviously, when there's literally none there, it doesn't matter how big you are, there's just none there. If the government warehouse is empty, it's empty. There's nothing you can do."
[...] A report released in early October by the CD Howe Institute, a Toronto-based economic think tank, estimates that the current legal supply will meet about 30% to 60% of total demand in the first months of legalisation. But people in the industry say the scarcity is worse than expected. "Everybody knew this was going to happen," says Burns. "Probably, frankly, not this quick and this starkly."
Patrick Wallace, owner of Waldo 420 in Medicine Hat, Alberta, predicts it will be a year to 18 months before supply matches demand. "We're riding on our initial investment of stock from a few weeks back," he says. "So we're OK now but it's not sustainable."
Previously: Canada Becomes the Second Nation to Legalize Cannabis
Peter Thiel's Cannabis Company Was Briefly Worth More Than Twitter
Hostage to NAFTA? Canada Signs on to War on Drugs Despite Recent Cannabis Legalization
Cannabis Becomes Legal in Canada
Uber Technologies Inc said on Wednesday that growth in bookings for its ride-hailing and delivery services rose 6 percent in the latest quarter, the third quarter in a row that growth has remained in the single digits after double-digit growth for all of last year.
The San Francisco-based firm lost $1.07 billion for the three months ending Sept. 30, a 20 percent increase from the previous quarter but down 27 percent from a year ago, when the company posted its biggest publicly reported quarterly loss on the heels of the departure of Uber co-founder and former Chief Executive Travis Kalanick.
Uber is seeking to expand in freight hauling, food delivery and electric bikes and scooters as growth in its now decade-old ride-hailing business dwindles. The company, valued at $76 billion, faces pressure to show it can still grow enough to become profitable and satisfy investors in an initial public offering planned for some time next year. ADVERTISEMENT
Its adjusted loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization was $592 million, down from $614 million last quarter and $1.02 billion a year ago.
We may lose money on every transaction but we'll make it up in volume?
But seriously, I find it interesting there was absolutely no mention of their plans with self-driving vehicles.
I received my PS3 "OtherOS" class action lawsuit settlement payment yesterday: $10.07.
Have other members received settlements yet? More, less, or the same amount?
[We previously covered this in PlayStation 3 "OtherOS" Class Action Settlement Claims End on April 15 . Whatever happened to the $65 settlement that was mentioned there? --Ed.]
Nuclear fusion has long been heralded as a potential answer to our prayers. But it's always been "thirty years away", according to the industry joke.
Now several start-ups are saying they can make fusion a commercial reality much sooner.
[...] A major challenge is how to build a structure strong enough to contain the plasma - the very high-temperature nuclear soup in which the fusion reactions take place - under the huge pressures required.
Exhaust systems will "have to withstand levels of heat and power akin to those experienced by a spaceship re-entering orbit," says Prof Ian Chapman, chief executive of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA),
Robotic maintenance systems will also be needed, as well as systems for breeding, recovering and storing the fuel.
"UKAEA is looking into all these issues, and is building new research facilities at Culham Science Centre near Oxford to work with industry to develop solutions," says Prof Chapman.
[...] Oxfordshire-based Tokamak Energy is working on spherical tokamaks or reactors that use high temperature superconductors (HTS) to contain the plasma in a very strong magnetic field.
"High temperature" in the context of this branch of physics means a distinctly chilly -70C or below.
[...] The company has built three tokamaks so far, with the third, ST40, built from 30mm (1.2in) stainless steel and using HTS magnets. This June it achieved plasma temperatures of more than 15 million C - hotter than the core of the sun.
The firm hopes to be hitting 100 million C by next summer - a feat Chinese scientists claim to have achieved this month.
"We expect to have energy gain capability by 2022 and be supplying energy to the grid by 2030," says Mr Carling.
Meanwhile in the US, MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] is working with the newly-formed Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) to develop Sparc, a doughnut-shaped tokamak with magnetic fields holding the hot plasma in place.
Funded in part by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a fund led by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg and other billionaires, the team hopes to develop fusion reactors small enough to be built in factories and shipped for assembly on site.
[...] "With the new HTS magnet technology, a net-energy fusion device can be much, much smaller - Sparc would be about one sixty-fourth the volume and mass of Iter[*]," says Martin Greenwald, deputy director of MIT's plasma science and fusion centre.
[*] From Wikipedia, ITER: "(International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is an international nuclear fusion research and engineering megaproject, which will be the world's largest magnetic confinement plasma physics experiment. It is an experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor that is being built next to the Cadarache facility in Saint-Paul-lès-Durance, in Provence, southern France."
And, tokamak: "(Russian: Токамáк) is a device that uses a powerful magnetic field to confine a hot plasma in the shape of a torus. The tokamak is one of several types of magnetic confinement devices being developed to produce controlled thermonuclear fusion power. As of 2016, it is the leading candidate for a practical fusion reactor."
NPR is reporting that Democrat Jared Golden has been declared the winner of Maine House District 2 after ranked-choice voting (RCV) boosted his vote count over Republican Bruce Poliquin. Poliquin had received more initial votes than Golden, but did not receive the requisite 50% of the vote.
Maine's new ranked-choice system of voting allows voters to rank candidates in their order of preference and to transfer their votes if no candidate gets more than 50 percent.
Local newspaper Portland Press Herald fills in some details:
Golden captured 50.5 percent of the vote to Poliquin’s 49.5 percent to become the first challenger to defeat an incumbent in Maine’s sprawling 2nd District in a century. The Marine Corps veteran and Lewiston lawmaker also made history by winning the nation’s first congressional election to utilize ranked-choice voting, enabling him to erase an initial deficit by securing the second- and third-choice votes of people who cast their ballots for two independents.
The final vote tally was 139,231 votes for Golden versus 136,326 votes for Poliquin – a margin of 2,905 votes.
However, Thursday’s ranked-choice voting results won’t be the final word on the 2nd District race, which was one of the most expensive in the country. Poliquin defiantly declared Thursday afternoon that he “won the constitutional ‘one-person, one-vote'” tally on Election Day and vowed to continue his lawsuit challenging the legality of ranked-choice voting.
[...] Poliquin led Golden by 2,632 votes after Election Day, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s Office. But neither Poliquin nor Golden received majority support during the initial tally, with both pulling in roughly 46 percent, while independents Tiffany Bond and William Hoar received a combined 8 percent of the vote.
That triggered Thursday’s ranked-choice runoff, which came after staffers in Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s office spent several days scanning and downloading all of the nearly 290,000 ballots cast in the 2nd District on Nov. 6. The runoff only took a few minutes to complete as a specialized computer software eliminated Hoar and Bond from the equation and redistributed their supporters’ votes to the candidates – either Poliquin or Golden – who they had ranked highest.
In the end, Golden gained 10,232 votes from the ranked-choice retabulations while Poliquin gained 4,695 votes. That allowed Golden to overcome a 2,632-vote deficit from the initial vote. Roughly 8,000 of the ballots cast for the independents did not designate an additional choice or did not select either of the major-party candidates.
Maine voters first approved the switch to ranked-choice voting in November 2016 and then reaffirmed that decision via a second ballot initiative in June.
Also at WGME.
The CIA inspector general’s office — the spy agency’s internal watchdog — has acknowledged it “mistakenly” destroyed its only copy of a mammoth Senate torture report at the same time lawyers for the Justice Department were assuring a federal judge that copies of the document were being preserved, Yahoo News has learned.
While another copy of the report exists elsewhere at the CIA, the erasure of the controversial document by the office charged with policing agency conduct has alarmed the U.S. senator who oversaw the torture investigation and reignited a behind-the-scenes battle over whether the full unabridged report should ever be released, according to multiple intelligence community sources familiar with the incident.
The deletion of the document has been portrayed by agency officials to Senate investigators as an “inadvertent” foul-up by the inspector general. In what one intelligence community source described as a series of errors straight “out of the Keystone Cops,” CIA inspector general officials deleted an uploaded computer file with the report and then accidentally destroyed a disk that also contained the document, filled with thousands of secret files about the CIA’s use of “enhanced” interrogation methods.
[...] The 6,700-page report, the product of years of work by the Senate Intelligence Committee, contains meticulous details, including original CIA cables and memos, on the agency’s use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other aggressive interrogation methods at “black site” prisons overseas. A 500-page executive summary was released in December 2014 by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s outgoing chair. It concluded that the CIA’s interrogations were far more brutal than the agency had publicly acknowledged and produced often unreliable intelligence. The findings drew sharp dissents from Republicans on the panel and from four former CIA directors.
But the full three-volume report, which formed the basis for the executive summary, has never been released. In light of a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling last week that the document is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, there are new questions about whether it will ever be made public, or even be preserved.