2018-07-01 00:00:00 ..
2018-12-06 13:46:56 UTC
2018-12-07 12:02:58 UTC
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Shares of Johnson & Johnson tumbled Friday, after a Reuters report that the drug and consumer-products company knew for decades that its baby talcum powder was contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen, that is alleged to have caused cancer in thousands of its customers.
The stock ended 10% lower on Friday, marking its largest one-day percentage decline in 16 years and lowest close in nearly four months, according to FactSet data. It led decliners on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 on the day, and accounted for about 101 points of the Dow's 497-point loss.
[...] Reuters said an examination of internal company memos and other documents found the New Jersey–based company was aware of the presence of small amounts of asbestos in its products from as early as 1971 but failed to disclose that fact to regulators or to the general public.
Reuters reporter Lisa Girion stands by her report that Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos was in its baby powder. "Our report on the fact that J&J was aware of small amounts of asbestos in its talc, in its baby power, in the ore that it mined in Vermont to make baby power, is based entirely on their documents," Girion told CNBC's "Power Lunch" on Friday.
The Reuters story sent J&J shares down 9 percent on Friday and prompted a response from the health-care company that called the article "one-sided, false and inflammatory." "Simply put, the Reuters story is an absurd conspiracy theory, in that it apparently has spanned over 40 years, orchestrated among generations of global regulators, the world's foremost scientists and universities, leading independent labs, and J&J employees themselves," the company said in a statement.
See also: Asbestos Opens New Legal Front in Battle Over Johnson's Baby Powder
Those J&J Baby-Powder Lawsuits Aren't Going Away
Johnson & Johnson loses $39.8 billion in market value in one day after report claims it knew about asbestos in its baby powder
Previously: The Baby Powder Trials: How Courts Deal with Inconclusive Science
Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $417m in Latest Talc Cancer Case
$417 Million Talc Cancer Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson Tossed Out
Johnson & Johnson Loses New Jersey Talc Cancer Case
Can a dead rocket in space be anything but debris? Isro believes it might actually be useful. Feted for its frugality and tech savvy, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is working on a new technology where it will use the last stage of the PSLV rocket for space experiments. It will perform a technology demonstration of this new system when it launches the PSLV C44 rocket in January.
Talking to [Times of India] here, Isro chairman K Sivan said, "Normally, the last stage of a PSLV rocket after releasing the primary satellite in space becomes dead and categorised as debris. It remains in the same orbit as that of the released satellite. Now, we are working on a new technology where we will give life to this "dead" last stage of PSLV, also called PS4 stage, for six months after its launch. This rocket stage will double up as a satellite. This will be the most cost-effective way to perform experiments in space as we don't have to launch a separate rocket for the purpose." He said that "India is the only country in the world that is working on this new technology".
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984
A Federal Communications Commission advisory committee has proposed a new tax on Netflix, Google, Facebook, and many other businesses that require Internet access to operate.
If adopted by states, the recommended tax would apply to subscription-based retail services that require Internet access, such as Netflix, and to advertising-supported services that use the Internet, such as Google and Facebook. The tax would also apply to any small- or medium-sized business that charges subscription fees for online services or uses online advertising. The tax would also apply to any provider of broadband access, such as cable or wireless operators.
The collected money would go into state rural broadband deployment funds that would help bring faster Internet access to sparsely populated areas. Similar universal service fees are already assessed on landline phone service and mobile phone service nationwide. Those phone fees contribute to federal programs such as the FCC's Connect America Fund, which pays AT&T and other carriers to deploy broadband in rural areas.
The state tax proposal comes from the FCC's Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC), a group criticized by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo—who quit the committee—"for advancing the interests of the telecommunications industry over those of the public." BDAC members include AT&T, Comcast, Google Fiber, Sprint, other ISPs and industry representatives, researchers, advocates, and local government officials.
The BDAC tax proposal is part of a "State Model Code for Accelerating Broadband Infrastructure Deployment and Investment." Once finalized by the BDAC, each state would have the option of adopting the code.
An AT&T executive who is on the FCC advisory committee argued that the recommended tax should apply even more broadly, to any business that benefits financially from broadband access in any way. The committee ultimately adopted a slightly more narrow recommendation that would apply the tax to subscription services and advertising-supported services only.
Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984
Today, Google shared information about some of the AI work it's doing in Asia, but in a blog post about the work, it also made a pretty clear statement about how its facial recognition technology will and won't be used for the time being. The company noted that while facial recognition systems stand to be quite useful in a variety of situations, from assistive technologies to locating missing people, they also comes with risks.
"Like many technologies with multiple uses, facial recognition merits careful consideration to ensure its use is aligned with our principles and values, and avoids abuse and harmful outcomes," Google said. "We continue to work with many organizations to identify and address these challenges, and unlike some other companies, Google Cloud has chosen not to offer general-purpose facial recognition APIs before working through important technology and policy questions."
[...] "This is a strong first step," the ACLU's Nicole Ozer said in a statement about Google's announcement. "Google today demonstrated that, unlike other companies doubling down on efforts to put dangerous face surveillance technology into the hands of law enforcement and ICE, it has a moral compass and is willing to take action to protect its customers and communities. Google also made clear that all companies must stop ignoring the grave harms these surveillance technologies pose to immigrants and people of color, and to our freedom to live our lives, visit a church, or participate in a protest without being tracked by the government."
Following an announcement by Fortnite developer Epic Games that it would create its own PC games store, giving 88% of revenue to developers, Discord has announced that it will give 90% of revenue to developers who sell games on its own store:
Discord is looking to make its fledgling game store the most developer-friendly option around. Today, the company announced that it will offer developers a 90 percent share of revenue when its PC game store opens up to all creators starting next year. The store first launched in October with a heavily curated selection of indie games, including Into the Breach and Dead Cells as well as a handful of timed exclusives. Currently, it operates under a fairly standard 70 / 30 revenue split.
"Turns out, it does not cost 30 percent to distribute games in 2018," Discord CEO Jason Citron explained in a blog post. "After doing some research, we discovered that we can build amazing developer tools, run them, and give developers the majority of the revenue share."
Last week, Fortnite developer Epic launched its own PC games store, which similarly offered a more developer-friendly revenue split, taking just a 12 percent cut of all game sales. Both Epic and Discord are looking to make their digital shops more appealing to developers by offering better terms than the current dominant platform Steam.
Games devs are routinely corralled to "crunch" to hit sequential release target deadlines to ensure a project gets delivered on time and budget. Unpaid overtime is a norm. Long hours are certainly expected. And taking any holiday across vast swathes of the year can be heavily frowned upon, if not barred entirely.
From the outside looking in it's hard not to conclude people's passion for gaming is being exploited in the big business interest of shipping lucrative titles to millions of gamers.
In the U.K. that view is now more than just a perception, with the decision of a group of video games workers to unionize.
The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) said today it's setting up a union branch for games workers, the first such in the country — and one of what's claimed as just a handful in the world — with the aim of tackling what it dubs the "wide-scale exploitation" of video games workers.
In recent years the union has gained attention for supporting workers in the so-called "gig economy," backing protests by delivery riders and drivers for companies including Uber and Deliveroo. But this is its first foray into representing games workers.
Also at RockPaperShotgun.
Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984
Facebook AI Research is open-sourcing some of the conversational AI tech it is using to power its Portal video chat display and M suggestions on Facebook Messenger.
The company announced today that its PyTorch-based PyText NLP framework is now available to developers.
Natural language processing deals with how systems parse human language and are able to make decisions and derive insights. The PyText framework, which the company sees as a conduit for AI researchers to move more quickly between experimentation and deployment, will be particularly useful for tasks like document classification, sequence tagging, semantic parsing and multitask modeling, among others, Facebook says.
In the 1980s oceanographer and Naval Reserve commanding officer Robert Ballard found the resting place of the Titanic. It turns out that as part of the deal to get funding for the search from the US Navy, he was to first find the two missing nuclear submarines, the Thresher and the Scorpion, both of which sank in the 1960s. After finding both submarines, he located the remains of the Titanic in only 8 days by finding and following its debris trail, leaving the last 4 days of the mission to examine the wreck.
It starts in 1982, when Ballard, who had performed a number of top-secret Naval missions during the Cold War, was developing his own remotely-operated underwater vehicle.
Unable to get science grants, he asked Deputy Chief of Naval Operations Ronald Thunman if the Navy would help fund his project. "He said, 'All my life I've wanted to go find the Titanic.' And I was taken aback by that," Thunman recalled. "I said, 'Come on, this is a serious, top secret operation. Find the Titanic? That's crazy!'"
Thunman did say yes, but only if Ballard used the funds and the time to find two missing U.S. nuclear submarines – the Thresher and the Scorpion – which had sunk in the Atlantic in the 1960s.
Earlier on SN:
Titanic Engineering Facts (2015)
Blizzard may only have seven active games listed on its Battle.net launcher at the moment, but that list includes some of the biggest in the gaming world. So when the company announces it's shifting its development priorities away from one of those ongoing online titles, it's a big deal.
So it is with last night's surprise update on the status of Blizzard-universe MOBA Heroes of the Storm. Blizzard now says "we need to take some of our talented developers and bring their skills to other projects," and thus have "made the difficult decision to shift some developers from Heroes of the Storm to other teams."
This doesn't mean the immediate end of the game or anything of the sort. Blizzard promises continued active support, "with new heroes, themed events, and other content that our community loves, though the cadence will change." We're guessing that last part means the "cadence" will get less frequent, for what it's worth.
When does the risk of a publisher dropping support for an online game platform hurt the chance that gamers will pony up in the first place?
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On Nov. 26, NASA's InSight mission knew the spacecraft touched down within an 81-mile-long (130-kilometer-long) landing ellipse on Mars. Now, the team has pinpointed InSight's exact location using images from HiRISE, a powerful camera onboard another NASA spacecraft, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).
The InSight lander, its heat shield and parachute were spotted by HiRISE (which stands for High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) in one set of images last week on Dec. 6, and again on Tuesday, Dec. 11. The lander, heat shield and parachute are within 1,000 feet (several hundred meters) of one another on Elysium Planitia, the flat lava plain selected as InSight's landing location.
Submitted via IRC for SoyCow1984
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and [provide] speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved functionality in a material called molybdenum ditelluride. The two-dimensional material stacks into multiple layers to build a memory cell.
Chip-maker companies have long called for better memory technologies to enable a growing network of smart devices. One of these next-generation possibilities is resistive random access memory, or RRAM for short. [...] A material would need to be robust enough for storing and retrieving data at least trillions of times, but materials currently used have been too unreliable. So RRAM hasn't been available yet for widescale use on computer chips. Molybdenum ditelluride could potentially last through all those cycles.
"We haven't yet explored system fatigue using this new material, but our hope is that it is both faster and more reliable than other approaches due to the unique switching mechanism we've observed," Joerg Appenzeller, Purdue University's Barry M. and Patricia L. Epstein Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the scientific director of nanoelectronics at the Birck Nanotechnology Center.
Electric-field induced structural transition in vertical MoTe2- and Mo1–xWxTe2-based resistive memories (DOI: 10.1038/s41563-018-0234-y) (DX)
It's not often you open a mathematical research paper and find a Pablo Neruda poem. But a new study in the journal Nature Human Behavior begins just like that: "Es tan corto el amor, y tan largo el olvido." Translation? "Love is so short, forgetting is so long."
The paper, titled "The universal decay of collective memory and attention," is an ambitious attempt to turn the slow slippage of cultural memory—the way a hit song lingers, or doesn't—into a quantitative method for measuring the way our attention to various cultural products declines. It seeks, in other words, to turn the most abstract cognitive phenomenon into a cold, hard equation.
[...] The process of decline was similar among all of the artifacts the researchers studied, but the amount of time it took for each to fade varied by domain. Biographies lasted the longest, circulating in the collective memory for 20 to 30 years. Music disappeared the fastest, lasting just 5.6 years on average.
[...] The work could fuel research into our species' tendency to forget large spans of history, with landmark events tucked away into our cultural memory, sans context of the surrounding years and minus the perspective of characters we don't care for. Perhaps understanding how quickly these historical moments fade—morphing from the truth we lived to the condensed narrative we save for posterity—could keep us from constantly repeating ourselves.
Sorry for the long link to the paper. The shorter link gives access to the abstract.
[Paper - Abstract] The universal decay of collective memory and attention
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As President Donald Trump threatened to allow a government shutdown if Congress did not provide funding for his proposed wall along the Mexican border, a Republican congressman from Ohio offered up alternative routes to getting the wall built: through Internet crowdfunding or through an initial coin offering.
During an interview with NPR's Morning Edition on December 12, Rep. Warren Davidson said that he had offered what he referred to as a "modest proposal" in the form of his "Buy a Brick, Build a Wall Act." The bill, which he submitted on November 30, would authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to accept monetary gifts from anyone "on the condition that it be used to plan, design, construct, or maintain a barrier along the international border between the United States and Mexico." The funds would go into an account called the "Border Wall Trust Fund," and a public website would be set up to process donations electronically.
Rep. Davidson told NPR's Steve Inskeep that the donations could come from anyone and be gathered in a number of ways."You could do it with this sort of, like, crowdfunding site," Davidson explained. "Or you could do it with blockchain—you could have Wall Coins."
Each day in India’s capital, New Delhi, hundreds of thousands of people take a quiet subway across the crowded suburbs to reach their work. The relative calm is interrupted every few minutes as the train reaches a station and an ever-growing population jostles to find a seat. Seconds later, everyone returns their attention to their smartphone screen, resuming the comedy sketch they were watching on YouTube.
More than 7,500 miles away, executives at Netflix are scrambling for new strategies to court this audience. Earlier this year, CEO Reed Hastings, who has identified sleep as the biggest competition to his service on multiple occasions, wondered out loud if the next 100 million Netflix subscribers are in India.
They probably are, but YouTube, not sleep, has already claimed them.
The story posits that YouTube is overtaking Netflix because it is more mobile-friendly.
After going missing on Christmas Day five years ago, deep ocean measuring equipment belonging to the UK's National Oceanography Centre (NOC) has just been found on a beach in Tasmania by a local resident after making an incredible 14,000 km journey across the ocean.
In 2011, this deep-ocean lander instrument was deployed by NOC scientists in the northern Drake Passage, which is a narrow section of the ocean between South America and Antarctica. Measuring ocean bottom pressure here helps provide information on the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which is the largest ocean current in the world. The instrument was due to spend two years collecting data at a depth of 1100 metres, before being recovered on Christmas Day in 2013 by a research expedition on the Royal Research Ship (RRS) James Clark Ross, operated by British Antarctic Survey. However it did not return to the surface as planned for reasons that are not clear, possibly due to something getting tangled up with the release mechanism.
After being presumed lost, the deep ocean instrument frame was discovered washed up on a beach on the western tip of Tasmania. After being made aware of the find, the manufacturers were able to use the serial numbers on two of the sensors on the frame to trace the NOC as the owners and contact them.
The image in the article serves up robust testimony to the differential ability of the probe's materials to resist marine fouling.