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posted by martyb on Monday August 02, @07:15AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the rtfm dept.

An Anonymous Coward writes:

Motor Trend has seen fit to publish this "News Flash", with the subheading,

You don't own an autonomous vehicle, no matter what the marketing implies

While this is probably not news to SoylentNews readers, Motor Trend has seen more than their share of people that don't get it. The first photo is a wrecked and burned Model S.

What exists today is a collection of technologies called Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), which can handle basic driving tasks for short periods of time in specific, ideal conditions. ADAS must be monitored at all times, and the car's driver must be alert, undistracted, and prepared to take control at any moment. The best ADAS available today allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel but not their eyes off the road.

These systems fall under the Society of Automotive Engineers' (SAE) classification system as SAE Level 2. That's level two out of five. What you think of as real self-driving or autonomous driving, where a car pilots itself anywhere at any time in any conditions, is Level 5. Sorry, but we're a long, long way from Level 5.

The SAE Level 0-5 chart is included.

What about Level 3? Glad you asked. Many automakers consider it to be so dangerous, they plan to skip it entirely. Level 3 means a car can drive itself completely in good conditions, but the driver still has to pay attention and be ready to take over at any time. Problem is, study after study shows humans are absolutely terrible at this kind of multitasking and refocusing.

In a matter of minutes, people become complacent and overconfident in the computer. Their minds wander. They daydream, check their phone, play with the radio, dig through a bag or bin, fall asleep, or do any number of things other than sit and stare at the road, ready to resume driving themselves. Worse, those studies also show human reaction times become dangerously long when the car stops driving itself and tells them to take command. We need much longer than normal to process what the car tells us, read the environment, read the situation, and react. That kind of delay is almost a guaranteed disaster, and it's potentially fatal.

Your submitting AC has been saying the same thing about SAE Level 3 since I first heard it existed. I might accept a Level 3 car if the hand-off time was guaranteed/proven to be a minute or more. This might be closer to a Level 4 car that included complete weather data and, for example, handed-off a minute before the car drove into a fog bank.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Monday August 02, @04:34AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Governor-Alfred-E.-Newman? dept.

Florida breaks record with more than 21,000 new COVID cases:

Florida reported 21,683 new cases of COVID-19, the state’s highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic, according to federal health data released Saturday, as its theme park resorts again started asking visitors to wear masks indoors.

The state has become the new national epicenter for the virus, accounting for around a fifth of all new cases in the U.S. as the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus continues to spread.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has resisted mandatory mask mandates and vaccine requirements, and along with the state Legislature, has limited local officials’ ability to impose restrictions meant to stop the spread of COVID-19. DeSantis on Friday barred school districts from requiring students to wear masks when classes resume next month.

The latest numbers were recorded on Friday and released on Saturday on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. The figures show how quickly the number of cases is rising in the Sunshine State: only a day earlier, Florida reported 17,093 new daily cases. The previous peak in Florida had been 19,334 cases reported on Jan. 7, before the availability of vaccinations became widespread.

The state reported 409 deaths this week, bringing the total to more than 39,000 since its first in March 2020. The state’s peak happened in mid-August 2020, when 1,266 people died over a seven-day period. Deaths usually follow increases in hospitalizations by a few weeks.

Florida breaks record for new coronavirus cases as surge of infections rips through state:

At Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, all of the beds at its covid-only intensive care unit are filled with unvaccinated patients. Ademola Ayo Akinkunmi, director of patient care services for Jackson Health System, told the Miami Herald that the rise of the delta variant in an area where vaccination rates are low has left doctors scrambling to find more space to deal with the uptick in covid patients.

“It just went boom,” Akinkunmi said. “No matter how hard we work to discharge patients, we know there are others coming.”

Doctors at Tampa General Hospital are seeing more than 90 covid patients, breaking its previous record, Seetha Lakshmi, medical director of its Global Emerging Diseases Institute, told the Associated Press. Lakshmi noted that 83 percent of the hospital’s covid patients are unvaccinated.

“It feels like we are getting hit by a train, the pace is so fast and uncontrolled,” she said. “I just don’t have any words anymore. This is awful, just awful, and it is going to be awful.”

Florida’s surge comes as Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) recently announced that parents will be given the choice of whether their children follow mask rules in school this fall. The Friday decision, shortly before Florida is set to resume in-person learning, is a challenge to federal guidance and local school districts. DeSantis’s announcement, which followed several Republican-led states that have barred mask mandates in schools, was decried by critics as “irresponsible” and “appalling” amid the surge in infections.

[...] “Why would we have the government force masks on our kids when many of these kids are already immune through prior infection, they’re at virtually zero risk of significant illness and when virtually every school personnel had access to vaccines for months and months?” DeSantis said.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday August 01, @11:51PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the let-the-collection-of-data-on-meeting-attendees-commence^W-continue dept.

Zoom settles US class action privacy lawsuit for $86m:

The lawsuit alleged that Zoom had invaded the privacy of millions of users by sharing personal data with Facebook, Google and LinkedIn.

It also accused Zoom of misstating that it offers end-to-end encryption and for failing to prevent hackers from "zoombombing" sessions.

The firm denied any wrongdoing, but has agreed to boost its security practices.

The preliminary settlement, which also includes a provision that Zoom will give its staff specialised training in data handling and privacy, is still subject to approval by US District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California.

[...] The class-action lawsuit, filed in March 2020 in the US District Court in the Northern District of California, is just one of several legal complaints facing the US-based video-conferencing platform.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Zoom Meetings paid subscribers nationwide, as well as free users.

According to the plaintiff's lawyers, US Zoom subscribers generated $1.3bn in revenues for the video-conferencing firm.

Should the proposed settlement be approved, subscribers included in the class action would be eligible for 15% refunds on their subscriptions or $25, whichever is larger, while others could receive up to $15.

The plaintiffs' lawyers also intend to seek $21.3m in legal fees from Zoom.

Also at BBC.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday August 01, @07:06PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Two-thirds of American employees regret their college degrees:

A college education is still considered a pathway to higher lifetime earnings and gainful employment for Americans. Nevertheless, two-thirds of employees report having regrets when it comes to their advanced degrees, according to a PayScale survey of 248,000 respondents this past spring that was released Tuesday.

Student loan debt, which has ballooned to nearly $1.6 trillion nationwide in 2019, was the No. 1 regret among workers with college degrees. About 27% of survey respondents listed student loans as their top misgiving, PayScale said.

[...] About 70% of college students graduated with student loan debt this year, averaging about $33,000 per student. And as younger grads pay off student loan balances, they're struggling to accumulate wealth or are putting off purchasing homes — some millennials are even struggling to purchase groceries.

[...] College debt was followed by chosen area of study (12%) as a top regret for employees, though this varied greatly by major. Other regrets include poor networking, school choice, too many degrees, time spent completing education and academic underachievement.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday August 01, @02:21PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Rickroll video hits a billion views on YouTube as Internet’s most popular prank:

The Internet’s most popular prank, Rickrolling, has driven the official video for Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up to the prestigious 1 billion views milestone. To celebrate the achievement, singer Astley pinned a comment on the video announcing the moment, thanking fans for the “amazing, crazy, wonderful” milestone.

Never Gonna Give You Up was uploaded by Rick Astley on YouTube in late 2009. The song soon became a popular prank that reached meme status, with Internet users alleging they’d linked to one thing when, in reality, the person who clicked the link would be taken to YouTube’s copy of the music video.

This is a notable achievement and milestone. Take a look, though, at Wikipedia's List of Most-Viewed Videos.

Also at The Verge.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Sunday August 01, @09:50AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the antiantioxidants dept.

Research Shows Cell Aging Can Be Slowed by Oxidants:

At high concentrations, reactive oxygen species — known as oxidants — are harmful to cells in all organisms and have been linked to aging. But a study from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, has now shown that low levels of the oxidant hydrogen peroxide can stimulate an enzyme that helps slow down the aging of yeast cells.

One benefit of antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, is that they neutralize reactive oxygen species — known as oxidants — which may otherwise react with important molecules in the body and destroy their biological functions. Larger amounts of oxidants can cause serious damage to DNA, cell membranes, and proteins for example. Our cells have therefore developed powerful defense mechanisms to get rid of these oxidants, which are formed in our normal metabolism.

It was previously believed that oxidants were only harmful, but recently we have begun to understand that they also have positive functions. Now, the new research from Chalmers University of Technology shows that the well-known oxidant hydrogen peroxide can actually slow down the aging of yeast cells. Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical used for hair and tooth whitening, among other things. It is also one of the oxidants formed in our metabolism that is harmful at higher concentrations.

The Chalmers researchers studied the enzyme Tsa1, which is part of a group of antioxidants called peroxiredoxins.

“Previous studies of these enzymes have shown that they participate in yeast cells’ defenses against harmful oxidants,” says Mikael Molin, who leads the research group at Chalmers’ Department of Biology and Biological Engineering. “But the peroxiredoxins also help extend the life span of cells when they are subjected to calorie restriction. The mechanisms behind these functions have not yet been fully understood.”

Journal Reference:
Friederike Roger, Cecilia Picazo, Wolfgang Reiter, et al. Peroxiredoxin promotes longevity and H2O2-resistance in yeast through redox-modulation of protein kinase A, eLife (DOI: 10.7554/eLife.60346)

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday August 01, @05:02AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

China is building a 2nd base for nuclear missiles, say analysts:

Analysts at the Federation of American Scientists say China is building a second field of silos for launching nuclear missiles in a development that could constitute “the most significant expansion of the Chinese nuclear arsenal ever”.

The United States-based researchers made the discovery after analysing commercial satellite images, and said on Monday that the field – located near the city of Hami in Xinjiang province – may eventually include about 110 silos.

The new field is about 380km (236 miles) from a base near the city of Yumen in neighbouring Gansu province, where a separate group of researchers earlier this month found construction under way on 120 missile silos.

Altogether, the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force now appears to have 250 silos under construction at Hami, Yumen, as well as at a training ground near the city of Jilantai in Inner Mongolia, wrote the FAS’s Matt Korda and Hans Kristensen.

[...] “The number of new Chinese silos under construction exceeds the number of silo-based ICBMs operated by Russia, and constitutes more than half of the size of the entire US ICBM force,” they wrote. “The Chinese missile silo program constitutes the most extensive silo construction since the US and Soviet missile silo construction during the Cold War.”

However, they stressed that it was unclear how China would operate the new silos, whether it would load all of them with missiles or use a portion as empty decoys. They also noted it was not known how many warheads each missile would carry.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday August 01, @12:16AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the falling-up dept.

Vaccinated people make up 75% of recent COVID-19 cases in Singapore, but few fall ill:

SINGAPORE, July 23 (Reuters) - Vaccinated individuals accounted for three-quarters of Singapore's COVID-19 infections in the last four weeks, but they were not falling seriously ill, government data showed, as a rapid ramp-up in inoculations leaves fewer people unvaccinated.

While the data shows that vaccines are highly effective in preventing severe cases, it also underscores the risk that even those inoculated could be contagious, so that inoculation alone may not suffice to halt transmission.

Of Singapore's 1,096 locally transmitted infections in the last 28 days, 484, or about 44%, were in fully vaccinated people, while 30% were partially vaccinated and just over 25% were unvaccinated, Thursday's data showed.

While seven cases of serious illness required oxygen, and another was in critical condition in intensive care, none of the eight had been fully vaccinated, the health ministry said.

"There is continuing evidence that vaccination helps to prevent serious disease when one gets infected," the ministry said, adding that all the fully vaccinated and infected people had shown no symptoms, or only mild ones.

Infections in vaccinated people do not mean vaccines are ineffective, experts said.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Saturday July 31, @07:28PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the china...viruses... dept.

China scientists discover giant viruses in the deepest place on Earth:

The first known batch of viruses retrieved from the deepest point in the Mariana Trench includes giant species bigger than some bacterium, according to a research team in Shanghai.

The many legends of giant sea creatures have been largely debunked because of the challenges to large, complex life forms at the greatest ocean depths.

But the researchers discovered several giant viral species, including mimiviruses – which typically use amoeba as their hosts – in sediments taken from a seabed nearly 11,000 metres (36,000 feet) below sea level at Challenger Deep.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Saturday July 31, @02:46PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the go-astronomy dept.

Astronomers seek evidence of tech built by aliens:

An international team of scientists led by a prominent Harvard astronomer announced a new initiative Monday to look for evidence of technology built by extraterrestrial civilizations.

Called the Galileo Project, it envisages the creation of a global network of medium-sized telescopes, cameras and computers to investigate unidentified flying objects, and has so far been funded with $1.75 million from private donors.

Given recent research showing the prevalence of Earth-like planets throughout the galaxy, "We can no longer ignore the possibility that technological civilizations predated us," Professor Avi Loeb told reporters at a news conference.

"The impact of any discovery of extraterrestrial technology on science, our technology, and on our entire world view, would be enormous," he added in a statement.

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Saturday July 31, @10:00AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the go-sciences dept.

Water transformed into shiny, golden metal:

If you can’t turn water into gold like a good alchemist would, the next best thing might be to transform water itself into a shiny, metallic material. Researchers have achieved that feat by forming a thin layer of water around electron-sharing alkali metals.

The water stayed in a metallic state for a only few seconds, but the experiment did not require the high pressures that are normally needed to turn non-metallic materials into electrically conductive metals.

[...] In theory, most materials are capable of becoming metallic if put under enough pressure. Atoms or molecules can be squeezed together so tightly that they begin to share their outer electrons, which can then travel and conduct electricity as they do in a chunk of copper or iron. Geophysicists think that the centres of massive planets such as Neptune or Uranus host water in such a metallic state, and that high-pressure metallic hydrogen can even become a superconductor, able to conduct electricity without any resistance.

Journal References:
1.) Castelvecchi, Davide. Water transformed into shiny, golden metal, (DOI: 10.1038/d41586-021-02065-w)
2.) Mason, Philip E., Schewe, H. Christian, Buttersack, Tillmann, et al. Spectroscopic evidence for a gold-coloured metallic water solution, Nature (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03646-5)
3.) Tillmann Buttersack, Philip E. Mason, Ryan S. McMullen, et al. Photoelectron spectra of alkali metal–ammonia microjets: From blue electrolyte to bronze metal [$], Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz7607)
4.) Mason, Philip E., Uhlig, Frank, Vaněk, Václav, et al. Coulomb explosion during the early stages of the reaction of alkali metals with water, Nature Chemistry (DOI: 10.1038/nchem.2161)

Original Submission

posted by mrpg on Saturday July 31, @05:13AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the and-the-mind? dept.

CRISPR therapy cures first genetic disorder inside the body:

A new CRISPR therapy: Now, researchers from Intellia Therapeutics and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have demonstrated for the first time that a CRISPR therapy delivered into the bloodstream can travel to desired tissues to make edits.

"This is a major milestone for patients," Jennifer Doudna, co-developer of CRISPR, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR.

"While these are early data, they show us that we can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically so far, which is being able to deliver it systemically and get it to the right place," she continued.

Journal Reference:
Julian D. Gillmore, Ed Gane, Jorg Taubel, et al. CRISPR-Cas9 In Vivo Gene Editing for Transthyretin Amyloidosis, New England Journal of Medicine (DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2107454)

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Saturday July 31, @12:30AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Watchdog denies Blue Origin's challenge to NASA's lunar lander program

Blue Origin's protest against NASA's decision to pick just one company to build the country's first human lunar lander in decades was denied by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the watchdog agency said Friday, also denying a similar protest from Dynetics. The decision keeps Blue Origin's rival, Elon Musk's SpaceX, the sole winner of NASA's lucrative Moon lander program and hands a loss to Jeff Bezos, whose space company waged a months-long fight to win the same funding.

In a formal protest filed in April, Bezos' Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics had accused NASA of running afoul of contracting law when the agency shelved their proposals and gave Musk's SpaceX a lone $3 billion contract to land a crew of humans on the Moon by 2024. NASA had said it could award up to two companies for the contract, but never committed to that number, and went with SpaceX's Starship proposal. The GAO found that NASA "reserved the right to make multiple awards, a single award, or no award at all."

Musk responded to the news by tweeting "GAO" with a flexing bicep emoji.

Also at CNBC and Wccftech.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday July 30, @09:36PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

Google And Facebook Mandate Vaccines For Employees At U.S. Offices:

Google and Facebook will require U.S. employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus before returning to the company's offices, the tech giants said on Wednesday.

In a blog post, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the vaccine mandate would apply to its U.S. offices in the coming weeks and would be required eventually for other locations.

"Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead," Pichai wrote.

Shortly after Google's announcement, Facebook said it too will require anyone coming to work at its U.S. offices to be vaccinated.

"How we implement this policy will depend on local conditions and regulations. We will have a process for those who cannot be vaccinated for medical or other reasons and will be evaluating our approach in other regions as the situation evolves," Lori Goler, Facebook's vice president of people, wrote in a statement.

The tech giants' vaccine requirements could push other employers to follow suit.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday July 30, @06:51PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the What-does-this-button-do? dept.

Russian module suddenly fires thrusters after docking with space station:

Flight controllers at NASA and Roscosmos averted a disaster on Thursday after a large Russian module docked with the International Space Station and began to "inadvertently" fire its thrusters.

The Russian "Nauka" module linked to the space station at 8:30 am CT (13:30 UTC), local time in Houston, where NASA's Mission Control is based. After that, Russian cosmonauts aboard the station began preparing to open the hatches leading to Nauka, but at 11:34 am Houston time, Nauka unexpectedly started to fire its movement thrusters.

Within minutes, the space station began to lose attitude control. This was a problem for several reasons. First of all, the station requires a certain attitude to maintain signal with geostationary satellites and talk to Mission Control on the ground. Also, solar arrays are positioned to collect power based upon this predetermined attitude.

Another concern is G forces on the station's structure. The various components of the extensive space station were assembled in microgravity and designed to operate at zero-G. So even small stresses on the vehicle can induce small cracks or other problems with the station's structure.

For all of these reasons, space station flight controllers in Houston and Moscow acted quickly after the station started to drift. Attitude control was fully lost at 11:42 am, and engines on the space station's service module were fired. This was followed by a handover to the Russian Progress vehicle attached to the station, which began to fire its thrusters. This tug-of-war offset the Nauka module thruster activity, which eventually stopped after fuel supplies were exhausted. By 12:29 pm on Thursday, attitude control was restored. It made for quite an hour on the ground and in space.

[...] By late Thursday afternoon, when NASA officials held a teleconference to brief reporters, the situation appeared to be well in hand.

Russia's MLM Nauka Makes Triumphant Docking to ISS.

Original Submission