2018-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2018-02-21 11:34:42 UTC
2018-02-21 14:43:38 UTC
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One one hand, drinking alcohol may make you live longer.
Drinking could help you live longer—that's the good news for happy-hour enthusiasts from a study presented last week at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. According to the study, people who live to 90 or older often drink moderately.
On the other, you might not remember who you are any more.
Heavy drinkers are putting themselves at risk of dementia, according to the largest study of its kind ever conducted.
Apple Inc. is in talks to buy long-term supplies of cobalt directly from miners for the first time, according to people familiar with the matter, seeking to ensure it will have enough of the key battery ingredient amid industry fears of a shortage driven by the electric vehicle boom.
The iPhone maker is one of the world's largest end users of cobalt for the batteries in its gadgets, but until now it has left the business of buying the metal to the companies that make its batteries.
The talks show that the tech giant is keen to ensure that cobalt supplies for its iPhone and iPad batteries are sufficient, with the rapid growth in battery demand for electric vehicles threatening to create a shortage of the raw material. About a quarter of global cobalt production is used in smartphones.
ShmooCon, an American hacker convention, has its 2018 presentations online over at the Internet Archive, or on Youtube maybe. Each year original material on subjects related to computer security and cyberculture is presented. ShmooCon 2018 ran from January 19th through the 21st in Washington, D.C. with about 2,200 attendees.
Submitted via IRC for FatPhil
An amateur astronomer has captured the birth of a supernova while trying out his new camera. Scientists believe this could be the first time anyone has photographed the initial flashing of a supernova—a phase which can last just minutes.
Researchers think the serendipitous snaps offer unique insights into the evolution of supernova, which are usually only pictured after this brief "shock breakout" phase. A new analysis of the surge of light is published in Nature this week.
[...] The discovery was monumental not just for Buso but astronomy as a whole. Researchers Melina Bersten and Gastón Folatelli, part of the team investigating the supernova in the Nature paper, told Newsweek these chance photos could be the first of their kind.
"We actually think this is the first time an observer recorded the appearance of a supernova literally on camera. Some supernova have been discovered hours after explosion. But, Victor Buso caught the exact minutes when the supernova was being born," Bersten said. Not only that, she added, but he had captured the evolution of this elusive phase.
A Bangkok court has awarded paternity rights to a Japanese man over 13 babies he fathered through Thai surrogate mothers. The ruling allows Mitsutoki Shigeta, 28, to pursue custody of the children.
The son of a wealthy entrepreneur, he caused controversy in 2014 when he was revealed to have fathered at least 16 babies via surrogates in Thailand. His so-called "baby factory" case and others led to Thailand banning commercial surrogacy for foreigners.
Mr Shigeta, who was not present at the trial, was awarded "sole parent" rights after the Thai surrogates forfeited their rights, according to the court, which did not name him.
"For the happiness and opportunities which the 13 children will receive from their biological father, who does not have a history of bad behaviour, the court rules that all 13 born from surrogacy to be legal children of the plaintiff," Bangkok's Central Juvenile Court said in a statement.
Submitted via IRC for Runaway1956
We've noted for some time how Chinese hardware vendor Huawei has been consistently accused of spying on American citizens without any substantive, public evidence. You might recall that these accusations flared up several years ago, resulting in numerous investigations that culminated in no hard evidence whatsoever to support the allegations. We're not talking about superficial inquiries, we're talking about eighteen months, in-depth reviews by people with every interest in exposing them. One anonymous insider put it this way in the wake of the last bout of hysteria surrounding the company:
We knew certain parts of government really wanted" evidence of active spying, said one of the people, who requested anonymity. "We would have found it if it were there.
[...] This week, hysteria concerning Huawei again reached a fevered pitch, as U.S. intelligence chiefs, testifying before Congress over Russian hacking and disinformation concerns, again proclaimed that Huawei was spying on American citizens and their products most assuredly should not be used:
At the hearing, FBI Director Chris Wray testified, "We're deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don't share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks." Purchasing Huawei or ZTE products, Wray added, "provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.
Which values would those be, exactly? Would it be the values, as leaked Edward Snowden docs revealed, that resulted in the NSA hacking into Huawei, stealing source code, then attempting to plant its own backdoors into Huawei products? Or perhaps it's the values inherent in working closely with companies like AT&T to hoover up every shred of data that touches the AT&T network and share it with the intelligence community? Perhaps it's the values inherent in trying to demonize encryption, by proxy weakening security for everyone?
With their insensitivity to decoherence what are known as Majorana particles could become stable building blocks of a quantum computer. The problem is that they only occur under very special circumstances. Now researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have succeeded in manufacturing a component that is able to host the sought-after particles.
After an intensive period of analyses the research team led by Professor Floriana Lombardi, Chalmers University of Technology, was able to establish that they had probably succeeded in creating a topological superconductor.
[...] Majorana fermions are highly original particles, quite unlike those that make up the materials around us. In highly simplified terms, they can be seen as half electron. In a quantum computer the idea is to encode information in a pair of Majorana fermions which are separated in the material, which should, in principle, make the calculations immune to decoherence.
In solid state materials they only appear to occur in what are known as topological superconductors - a new type of superconductor that is so new and special that it is hardly ever found in practice. But a research team at Chalmers University of Technology is now among the first in the world to submit results indicating that they have actually succeeded in manufacturing a topological superconductor.
"Our experimental results are consistent with topological superconductivity," says Floriana Lombardi, Professor at the Quantum Device Physics Laboratory at Chalmers.
To create their unconventional superconductor they started with what is called a topological insulator made of bismuth telluride, Be2Te3. A topological insulator is mainly just an insulator - in other words it does not conduct current - but it conducts current in a very special way on the surface. The researchers have placed a layer of a conventional superconductor on top, in this case aluminium, which conducts current entirely without resistance at really low temperatures. "The superconducting pair of electrons then leak into the topological insulator which also becomes superconducting," explains Thilo Bauch, Associate Professor in Quantum Device Physics.
However, the initial measurements all indicated that they only had standard superconductivity induced in the Bi2Te3 topological insulator. But when they cooled the component down again later, to routinely repeat some measurements, the situation suddenly changed - the characteristics of the superconducting pairs of electrons varied in different directions.
"And that isn't compatible at all with conventional superconductivity. Suddenly unexpected and exciting things occurred," says Lombardi.
A report written by academics from institutions including the Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, University of Cambridge Center for a New American Security, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and OpenAI warns that AI systems could be misused:
Drones turned into missiles, fake videos manipulating public opinion and automated hacking are just three of the threats from artificial intelligence in the wrong hands, experts have said.
The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence report warns that AI is ripe for exploitation by rogue states, criminals and terrorists. Those designing AI systems need to do more to mitigate possible misuses of their technology, the authors said. And governments must consider new laws.
The report calls for:
- Policy-makers and technical researchers to work together to understand and prepare for the malicious use of AI
- A realisation that, while AI has many positive applications, it is a dual-use technology and AI researchers and engineers should be mindful of and proactive about the potential for its misuse
- Best practices that can and should be learned from disciplines with a longer history of handling dual use risks, such as computer security
- An active expansion of the range of stakeholders engaging with, preventing and mitigating the risks of malicious use of AI
The usually staid world of professional-grade flight simulations was rocked by controversy over the weekend, with fans accusing mod developer FlightSimLabs (FSLabs) of distributing "malware" with an add-on package for Lockheed Martin's popular Prepar3d simulation. The developer insists the hidden package was intended as an anti-piracy tool but has removed what it now acknowledges was a "heavy-handed" response to the threat of people stealing its add-on.
The controversy started Sunday when Reddit user crankyrecursion noticed that FSLabs' Airbus A320-X add-on package was setting off his antivirus scanner. FSLabs had already recommended users turn off their antivirus protection when installing the add-on, so this wasn't an isolated issue.
The reason for the warning, as crankyrecursion found, was that the installer seemed to be extracting a "test.exe" file that matched a "Chrome Password Dump" tool that can be found online. As the name implies, that tool appears to extract passwords saved in the Chrome Web browser—not something you'd expect to find in a flight-sim add-on. The fact that the installer necessarily needs to run with enhanced permissions increased the security threat from the "Password Dump."
[...] In a later update, Kalamaras acknowledges that some users were uncomfortable with "this particular method which might be considered to be a bit heavy-handed on our part." The company promptly released a new installer without the test.exe code included.
FlightSimLabs, a studio that specialises in custom add-ons for other company's flight sims, has been found to be secretly installing a program onto user's computers designed to check whether they're playing a pirated copy of their software.
The code—basically a Chrome password dumping tool— was discovered by Reddit user crankyrecursion on February 18, and as TorrentFreak report was designed to trigger "a process through which the company stole usernames and passwords from users' web browsers."
Rather than deny or challenge the discovery, FlightSimLabs boss Lefteris Kalamaras wrote on the company's forums that yes, the code is in there, but it's only designed to be used on pirated copies of their software (emphasis his).
The price of solar panels has fallen far and fast. But the Energy Department (DOE) wants to bring those costs down even further, especially for residential homes. After all, studies have shown that if every inch of useable rooftop in the US had solar panels on it, the panels could provide about 40 percent of the nation's power demand. Right now, the DOE's goal is residential solar that costs 5¢ per kilowatt-hour by 2030.
In a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), researchers mapped out some possible pathways to that goal. Notably, the biggest barriers to cost reduction appear to be the stubborn "soft costs" of solar installation. Those soft costs include supply chain costs, labor costs, and sales and marketing costs that aren't related to the physical production of solar cells at a factory.
NREL wrote: "Because the 2030 target likely will not be achieved under business-as-usual trends, we examine two key market segments that demonstrate significant opportunities for cost savings and market growth: installing PV at the time of roof replacement and installing PV as part of the new home construction process."
The report mapped out two "visionary" pathways (as well as two "less-aggressive' pathways) to achieving those cost reductions within the roof replacement and new home construction markets. The result? The only way NREL found it could achieve the "visionary" cost reductions was by assuming that solar installers would start selling low-cost solar-integrated roof tiles before 2030, "which could significantly reduce supply chain, installation labor, and permitting costs."
[...] [It's] not just Tesla working on this: the Colorado-based lab cites CertainTeed's solar shingle product and GAF's solar panels as examples of products breaking the divide between roof and solar panel installation.
Bigelow Aerospace has created a spinoff company that will manage its orbital space stations, and has announced plans for an inflatable module that would be even larger than the B330:
Bigelow Aerospace — the Las Vegas-based company manufacturing space habitats — is starting a spinoff venture aimed at managing any modules that the company deploys into space. Called Bigelow Space Operations (BSO), the new company will be responsible for selling Bigelow's habitats to customers, such as NASA, foreign countries, and other private companies. But first, BSO will try to figure out what kind of business exists exactly in lower Earth orbit, the area of space where the ISS currently resides.
Bigelow makes habitats designed to expand. The densely packed modules launch on a rocket and then inflate once in space, providing more overall volume for astronauts to roam around. The company already has one of its prototype habitats in orbit right now: the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, which has been attached to the International Space Station since 2016. The BEAM has proven that Bigelow's expandable habitat technology not only works, but also holds up well against the space environment.
Now, Bigelow is focusing on its next space station design: the B330. The habitat is so named since it will have 330 cubic meters (or nearly 12,000 cubic feet) of interior volume when expanded in space. That's about one-third the volume provided by the ISS. Bigelow hopes to launch two B330s as early as 2021, on top of the United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rockets, and the company even has plans to put a B330 around the Moon. After that, Bigelow has bigger plans to create a single station with 2.4 times the entire pressurized volume of the ISS, the company announced today. Such a huge station will need to be constructed in an entirely new manufacturing facility that Bigelow plans to build — though the company hasn't decided on a location yet.
Bigelow's BEAM is currently attached to the ISS and has a volume of about 16 cubic meters, which has been described as that of "a large closet with padded white walls". The B330 will have 330 cubic meters of pressurized volume. The newly proposed module is called the BA 2100, or "Olympus", with 2,250 cubic meters of volume, compared to the ISS's total 931 cubic meters. The mass of the BA 2100 could range from 65 to 100 metric tons, likely requiring a super-heavy launcher such as the SLS Block 1B/2 or SpaceX's BFR.
Related: How to Get Back to the Moon in 4 Years, Permanently
Bigelow Expandable Activity Module to Continue Stay at the International Space Station
Bigelow and ULA to Put Inflatable Module in Orbit Around the Moon by 2022
Serge Wroclawski, a long-time contributor to OpenStreetMap, has posted a criticism of the management choices he believes are preventing the OpenStreetMap Foundation from fulfilling its mission (much like the Wikimedia Foundation):
I feel the OpenStreetMap project is currently unable to fulfill that mission due to poor technical decisions, poor political decisions, and a general malaise in the project. I'm going to outline in this article what I think OpenStreetMap has gotten wrong. It's entirely possible that OSM will reform and address the impediments to its success- and I hope it does. We need a Free as in Freedom geographic dataset.
[The "mobile launcher" component] supports the testing and servicing of the massive SLS rocket, as well as moving it to the launch pad and providing a platform from which it will launch.
According to a new report in NASASpaceflight.com, the expensive tower is "leaning" and "bending." For now, NASA says, the lean is not sufficient enough to require corrective action, but it is developing contingency plans in case the lean angle becomes steeper.
These defects raise concerns about the longevity of the launch tower and increase the likelihood that NASA will seek additional funding to build a second one. In fact, it is entirely possible that the launch tower may serve only for the maiden flight of the SLS rocket in 2020 and then be cast aside. This would represent a significant waste of resources by the space agency.
[...] [From] the tower's inception in 2009, NASA will have spent $912 million on the mobile launcher it may use for just a single launch of the SLS rocket. Moreover, the agency will have required eight years to modify a launch tower it built in two years.
The second mobile launcher, intended for larger versions of the SLS, will cost about $300 million (if not more).
Related: Maiden Flight of the Space Launch System Delayed to 2019
Trump Space Adviser: Mars "Too Ambitious" and SLS is a Strategic National Asset
NASA Opens Door to Possibly Lowering SLS Cost Using Blue Origin's Engines
After the Falcon Heavy Launch, Time to Defund the Space Launch System?
Samsung has announced a 30.72 TB SSD. It uses 64-layer 512 Gb TLC NAND dies, with 16 of each stacked to make a 1 TB package. It has 40 GB of DDR4 DRAM cache, also using layered packages:
The PM1643 drive also applies Through Silicon Via (TSV) technology to interconnect 8Gb DDR4 chips, creating 10 4GB TSV DRAM packages, totaling 40GB of DRAM. This marks the first time that TSV-applied DRAM has been used in an SSD.
Complementing the SSD's hardware ingenuity is enhanced software that supports metadata protection as well as data retention and recovery from sudden power failures, and an error correction code (ECC) algorithm to ensure high reliability and minimal storage maintenance. Furthermore, the SSD provides a robust endurance level of one full drive write per day (DWPD), which translates into writing 30.72TB of data every day over the five-year warranty period without failure. The PM1643 also offers a mean time between failures (MTBF) of two million hours.
Samsung started manufacturing initial quantities of the 30.72TB SSDs in January and plans to expand the lineup later this year – with 15.36TB, 7.68TB, 3.84TB, 1.92TB, 960GB and 800GB versions – to further drive the growth of all-flash-arrays and accelerate the transition from hard disk drives (HDDs) to SSDs in the enterprise market.
Related: SK Hynix Plans 72-Layer 512 Gb NAND for Late 2017
SK Hynix Developing 96 and 128-Layer TLC 3D NAND
Western Digital Announces 96-Layer 3D NAND, Including Both TLC and QLC
Toshiba Develops 512 GB and 1 TB Flash Chips Using TSV
Expect 20-30% Cheaper NAND in Late 2018
The most famous atmospheric features of both Jupiter and Neptune may be gone soon:
When we think of storms on the other planets in our Solar System, we automatically think of Jupiter. Jupiter's Great Red Spot is a fixture in our Solar System, and has lasted 200 years or more. But the storms on Neptune are different: they're transient.
[...] "It looks like we're capturing the demise of this dark vortex, and it's different from what well-known studies led us to expect," said Michael H. Wong of the University of California at Berkeley, referring to work by Ray LeBeau (now at St. Louis University) and Tim Dowling's team at the University of Louisville. "Their dynamical simulations said that anticyclones under Neptune's wind shear would probably drift toward the equator. We thought that once the vortex got too close to the equator, it would break up and perhaps create a spectacular outburst of cloud activity."
Rather than going out in some kind of notable burst of activity, this storm is just fading away. And it's also not drifting toward the equator as expected, but is making its way toward the south pole. Again, the inevitable comparison is with Jupiter's Great Red Spot (GRS). The GRS is held in place by the prominent storm bands in Jupiter's atmosphere. And those bands move in alternating directions, constraining the movement of the GRS. Neptune doesn't have those bands, so it's thought that storms on Neptune would tend to drift to the equator, rather than toward the south pole.
A ferocious storm has battered Jupiter for at least 188 years. From Earth, it is observed as red swirling clouds racing counter-clockwise in what is known as the planet's "Great Red Spot." But after shrinking for centuries, it may now be on the brink of disappearing for good.
"In truth, the GRS [Great Red Spot] has been shrinking for a long time," lead Juno mission team member and planetary scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Glenn Orton told Business Insider in an email. "The GRS will in a decade or two become the GRC (Great Red Circle). Maybe sometime after that the GRM"—the Great Red Memory.