Science & Tech News

Facebook banks on virtual reality as the future of socialising

New Scientist - Breaking news - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 6:26am
New tools from Facebook suggest that in the future we will talk to our friends in a virtual reality chat room and enhance our communications with AR
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Physicists Observe 'Negative Mass'

Slashdot Updates - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 6:00am
Physicists have created a fluid with "negative mass," which accelerates towards you when pushed. From a report on BBC: In the everyday world, when an object is pushed, it accelerates in the same direction as the force applied to it; this relationship is described by Isaac Newton's Second Law of Motion. But in theory, matter can have negative mass in the same sense that an electric charge can be positive or negative. Prof Peter Engels, from Washington State University (WSU), and colleagues cooled rubidium atoms to just above the temperature of absolute zero (close to -273C), creating what's known as a Bose-Einstein condensate. In this state, particles move extremely slowly, and following behaviour predicted by quantum mechanics, acting like waves. They also synchronise and move together in what's known as a superfluid, which flows without losing energy.

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Creative people physically see and process the world differently

New Scientist - Breaking news - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 6:00am
Those who display a high degree of the openness personality trait may be more creative because of the way they process visual information
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China To Question Apple About Live-Streaming Apps On App Store That Violate Internet Regulations

Slashdot Updates - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 5:00am
Three Chinese government agencies are planning to tell Apple to "tighten up checks" on live-streaming software offered on its app store, which can be used to violate internet regulation in the country. "Law enforcement officers had already met with Apple representatives over live-streaming services, [state news agency Xinhua reported], but did not provide details of the meetings," reports The Guardian. From the report: The inquiry appears to be focused on third-party apps available for download through Apple's online marketplace. The company did not respond to requests for comment. China operates the world's largest internet censorship regime, blocking a host of foreign websites including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but the authorities have struggled to control an explosion in popularity of live-streaming video apps. As part of the inquiry into live-streaming, three Chinese websites -- toutiao.com, huoshanzhibo.com and huajiao.com -- were already found to have violated internet regulations, and had broadcast content that violated Chinese law, including providing "pornographic content," the Xinhua report said. Pornography is banned in China. The three sites were told to increase oversight of live-broadcasting services, user registration and "the handling of tips-offs." Two of the websites, huoshanzhibo.com and huajiao.com, were under formal investigation and may have their cases transferred to the police for criminal prosecutions, the Xinhua report said. Casting a wide net, the regulations state that apps cannot "engage in activities prohibited by laws and regulations such as endangering national security, disrupting social order and violating the legitimate rights and interests of others."

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The bright lights of big cities help blackbirds thrive

New Scientist - Breaking news - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 5:00am
Blackbirds do better when they nest near street lights, but all city birds seem to hate the noise
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95% Engineers in India Unfit For Software Development Jobs: Report

Slashdot Updates - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 4:30am
An anonymous reader shares a report: Talent shortage is acute in the IT and data science ecosystem in India with a survey claiming that 95 percent of engineers in the country are not fit to take up software development jobs. According to a study by employability assessment company Aspiring Minds, only 4.77 percent candidates can write the correct logic for a programme -- a minimum requirement for any programming job. Over 36,000 engineering students form IT related branches of over 500 colleges took Automata -- a Machine Learning based assessment of software development skills -- and over 2/3 could not even write code that compiles.

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Psychedelic drugs push the brain to a state never seen before

New Scientist - Breaking news - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 4:01am
Brain measurements have revealed that LSD, ketamine and psilocybin cause patterns of brain activity that are far more diverse than normal consciousness
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First Evidence For Higher State of Consciousness Found

Slashdot Updates - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 4:30pm
New submitter baalcat quotes a report from Neuroscience News: Neuroscientists observed a sustained increase in neural signal diversity -- a measure of the complexity of brain activity -- of people under the influence of psychedelic drugs, compared with when they were in a normal waking state. The diversity of brain signals provides a mathematical index of the level of consciousness. For example, people who are awake have been shown to have more diverse neural activity using this scale than those who are asleep. This, however, is the first study to show brain-signal diversity that is higher than baseline, that is higher than in someone who is simply "awake and aware." Previous studies have tended to focus on lowered states of consciousness, such as sleep, anesthesia, or the so-called "vegetative" state. For the study, Michael Schartner, Dr Adam Barrett and Professor Seth of the Sackler Center reanalyzed data that had previously been collected by Imperial College London and the University of Cardiff in which healthy volunteers were given one of three drugs known to induce a psychedelic state: psilocybin, ketamine and LSD. Using brain imaging technology, they measured the tiny magnetic fields produced in the brain and found that, across all three drugs, this measure of conscious level -- the neural signal diversity -- was reliably higher. The findings have been published in Scientific Reports.

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Navy, Marines Prohibit Sharing Nude Photos In Wake of a Facebook Scandal

Slashdot Updates - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 3:50pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: The Navy and Marine Corps issued new regulations that ban members from sharing nude photographs following a scandal involving military personnel sharing intimate pictures of their female colleagues -- some of which were taken without their knowledge -- in a secret Facebook group. The new statute, which was signed Tuesday by Acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley, went into effect immediately and will be made permanent when the next edition of the Navy's regulations is printed, according to Navy Times. Military courts will handle violations of the new rule. The crackdown comes after a Facebook group was uncovered featuring naked photos of female service members. The group was eventually shut down by Facebook after a request from the Marine Corps. The Center for Investigative Reporting found that some of the photographs posted on the Facebook group may have been taken consensually, but others may not have been.

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Ask Slashdot: What Are Good Books On Inventing, Innovating and Doing R&D?

Slashdot Updates - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 3:10pm
dryriver writes: I've signed up to a project that involves inventing new ways to do things and also performing the technology R&D required to make these new ways a reality. So, dear Slashdotters, are there any good books on inventing, innovating or doing R&D? Books that describe different ways to approach inventing/R&D? Books on managing a team effort to invent, innovate and research? Or even good books about the history of past inventions -- how they were created, why they were created, how and why they succeeded or failed in the real world? Thanks!

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Drunken crayfish show that loneliness raises alcohol tolerance

New Scientist - Breaking news - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 3:00pm
Crayfish forced to be solitary are less affected by alcohol, because being alone appears to alter the way their nerves function
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Toyota Unveils Plan For Hydrogen Powered Semi Truck

Slashdot Updates - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 2:30pm
New submitter omaha393 quotes a report from R&D Magazine: Toyota announced a new initiative on Wednesday aimed at advancing its work in vehicles powered by alternative energy sources. The automaker unveiled Project Portal, which is a novel hydrogen fuel cell system designed for heavy duty truck use at the Port of Los Angeles. A proof-of-concept truck powered by this fuel cell will be part of a feasibility study held at the Port this summer, with the goal of examining the potential of this technology in heavy-duty applications. The test vehicle will produce more than 670 horsepower and 1,325 pound feet of torque from two of these novel fuel cell stacks along with a 12kWh battery. Overall, the combined weight capacity is 80,000 pounds that will be carried over 200 miles. omaha393 adds: "While hydrogen fuel has been criticized due to high cost of production and safety concerns, recent advances in catalysis and solid storage systems have made the prospect of hydrogen fuel an attractive commercial prospect for the future."

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Tesla Settles Lawsuit Against Former Autopilot Program Director Accused of Stealing Info, Engineers

Slashdot Updates - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 1:50pm
Earlier this year, Tesla filed a lawsuit against its former director of Autopilot Programs, Sterling Anderson, for stealing proprietary information about the Autopilot program and recruiting fellow Tesla engineers to work with him at Aurora Innovation, another autonomous driving company. According to Electrek, "the lawsuit was settled today with Tesla withdrawing their allegations without damages and Aurora agreeing to make itself available for an audit by a third-party to make sure they don't have proprietary information from Tesla's Autopilot program." From the report: Aurora also agreed to cover the cost of the audit for up to $100,000. The startup claims that it had already ordered its own audit, which found âoeno material Tesla confidential information." As for the allegations of poaching employees, Aurora has agreed not to reach out to Tesla employees for a year and to release the names of former Tesla employees who have joined the startup already. You can read Auroraâ(TM)s statement about the settlement in full here and Teslaâ(TM)s further down below: âoeSelf-driving vehicles will save lives, preserve resources, and make transportation more accessible and enjoyable for everyone. Aurora was founded on the premise that experience, innovative thinking, hard work, and a commitment to doing the right thing can accelerate this future..."

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Microsoft's Skype Is Most Used Messaging Service For Cyber Criminals, Study Finds

Slashdot Updates - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 1:10pm
chicksdaddy quotes a report from The Security Ledger: Cyber criminals lurk in the dark recesses of the internet, striking at random and then disappearing into the virtual ether. But when they want to talk shop with their colleagues, they turn to Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft and its Skype communications tools, according to an analysis by the firm Flashpoint. Mentions of different platforms were used as a proxy for gauging interest in and use of these messaging services. Flashpoint analysts looked, especially, for invitations to continue conversation outside of cyber criminal marketplaces, like references to ICQ accounts or other platforms. The survey results show that, out of a population of around 80 instant messenger platforms and protocols, a short list of just five platforms accounts for between 80% and 90% of all mentions within the cyber underground. Of those, Microsoft's Skype was the chat king. It ranked among the top five platforms across all language groups. That, despite the platform's lack of end-to-end encryption or forward secrecy features and evidence, courtesy of NSA hacker Edward Snowden, that U.S. spies may have snooped on Skype video calls in recent years, The Security Ledger reports. The conclusion: while security is a priority amongst thieves, it isn't the sole concern that cyber criminals and their associates have. In fact, sophisticated hacking communities like those in Russia to continue to rely on legacy platforms like ICQ when provably more secure alternatives exist. The reason? Business. "These cyber criminals have a lot of different options that they're juggling and a lot of factors that weigh on their options," said Leroy Terrelonge III, the Director of Middle East and Africa Research at Flashpoint. "We might suspect that cyber criminals use the most secure means of communication all the time, that's not what our research showed."

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Pirate Bay Founder Launches Anonymous Domain Registration Service

Slashdot Updates - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 12:40pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Former Pirate Bay spokesperson and co-founder Peter Sunde has just announced his latest venture. Keeping up his fight for privacy on the Internet, he's launching a new company called Njalla, that helps site operators to shield their identities from prying eyes. The name Njalla refers to the traditional hut that Sami people use to keep predators at bay. It's built on a tall stump of a tree or pole and is used to store food or other goods. On the Internet, Njalla helps to keep people's domain names private. While anonymizer services aren't anything new, Sunde's company takes a different approach compared to most of the competition. With Njalla, customers don't buy the domain names themselves, they let the company do it for them. This adds an extra layer of protection but also requires some trust. A separate agreement grants the customer full usage rights to the domain. This also means that people are free to transfer it elsewhere if they want to.

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Facebook is Working On a Way To Let You Type With Your Brain

Slashdot Updates - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 11:20am
From a report: Facebook today unveiled a project from its secretive Building 8 research group that's working to create a brain-computer interface that lets you type with your thoughts. Regina Dugan, a former director of DARPA and the ex-head of Google's experimental ATAP research group, announced the news today onstage at Facebook's F8 developer conference. Dugan, who now heads up Building 8, says the goal is "something as simple as a yes-no brain click" that could fundamentally change how we interact with and use technology. While it does not exist today outside of very specific medical research trials, Dugan says her team is actively working to make it a reality. Dugan refers to the technology as a "brain mouse for AR," meaning it could be an ideal way to receive direct input from neural activity that would remove the need for augmented reality devices to track hand motions or other body movements. For instance, the Microsoft HoloLens uses hand tracking to let you tap your finger in front of you as if you were clicking a mouse. Facebook's theoretical device could also be used for patients with severe paralysis, acting as a "speech prosthetic" Dugan says.

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Newest Firefox Browser Bashes Crashes

Slashdot Updates - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 10:40am
Nobody likes it when a web browser bombs instead of opening up a website. Mozilla is addressing that in the newly released v53 of its Firefox browser, which it claims crashes 10 percent fewer times. CNET adds: The improvement comes through the first big debut of a part of Project Quantum, an effort launched in 2016 to beef up and speed up Firefox. To improve stability, Firefox 53 on Windows machines isolates software called a compositor that's in charge of painting elements of a website onto your screen. That isolation into a separate computing process cuts down on trouble spots that can occur when Firefox employs computers' graphics chips, Mozilla said.

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Why a neonicotinoid ban isn’t enough to protect the environment

New Scientist - Breaking news - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 10:00am
Neurotoxic pesticides hurt more than just bees, and they have spread throughout the environment. A ban is a good thing, but it could create another problem
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Blood from human babies makes brains of elderly mice young again

New Scientist - Breaking news - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 10:00am
Young blood can rejuvenate the mind. Now a study has identified a protein in umbilical cord blood that can boost memory and brain function in aged mice
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The five best exoplanets in the galaxy to check for alien life

New Scientist - Breaking news - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 10:00am
The announcement of a new habitable, “Earth-like” planet made us wonder – where should we look first?
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