Science & Tech News

Asteroid clay is a better space radiation shield than aluminium

New Scientist - Breaking news - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 12:00pm
Cosmic radiation poses one of the biggest health risks for astronauts on long space missions, but clay extracted from space rocks could protect them
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Google Home Gets 'Beauty & The Beast' Promo But Google Says It's Not an Ad

Slashdot Updates - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 11:20am
Danny Sullivan, reporting for MarketingLand: Ask Google Home what your day is like today, and it will remind you that Disney's Beauty and the Beast is opening today. Google says this isn't an ad. But it's definitely an out-of-the-ordinary cooperation with a Google Home "partner." The promotion was spotted by Bryson Meunier, whose child was definitely excited to hear the news delivered by Google Home. "This isn't an ad; the beauty in the Assistant is that it invites our partners to be our guest and share their tales," a spokesperson said. The company doesn't list Disney as one of its partners on Google Home website, the report adds.

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Australia wants to ban unvaccinated children from preschool

New Scientist - Breaking news - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 11:00am
The government wants 95 per cent of Australian children vaccinated – a level that would stop infectious diseases spreading and protect those who can’t be vaccinated
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Judge Rejects Google Deal Over Email Scanning

Slashdot Updates - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 10:40am
A federal judge in San Francisco slammed a legal settlement that proposed to pay $2.2 million to lawyers, but nothing to consumers who had the contents of their email scanned by Google without their knowledge or permission. From a report: In a 6-page order, Judge Lucy Koh told Google and class action attorneys the proposed settlement was insufficient, in part because it failed to clearly tell consumers what the search giant had done. "This notice is difficult to understand and does not clearly disclose the fact that Google intercepts, scans and analyzes the content of emails sent by non-Gmail users to Gmail users for the purpose of creating user profiles of the Gmail users to create targeted advertising for the Gmail users," Koh wrote.

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Robot eavesdrops on men and women to see how much they talk

New Scientist - Breaking news - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 10:07am
Women speak more when they’re talking to a woman rather than a man, finds a robot with a fur hat that studied conversations between men, women and children
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New autism blood test likely to join ranks of also-rans

New Scientist - Breaking news - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 10:00am
A new blood test for autism promises to catch the condition much earlier than standard interventions. Here’s why it probably won’t change anything
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Buying a Samsung TV Online Could Jeopardize Your Data

Slashdot Updates - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 10:00am
An anonymous reader shares a CNET report: If you buy a product from Samsung's online store, your name, address, order information and other data may be accessible to anyone who cares to look. Matt Metzger, a self-described "application security engineer" who said he has worked in shipping-industry compliance, wrote Wednesday on Medium about an accidental discovery. Metzger said he ordered a TV from the Samsung online store and was sent a URL to track his delivery. When he followed the URL, he discovered that his tracking number was the same one used for someone else's previous delivery and that he could see sensitive information, such as the person's name and items ordered, without any security measures getting in the way. Metzger also discovered that more information was attached in a TIFF file to his own order after the delivery was completed. The file included his full name, address and signature.Samsung told CNET it is aware of the issue and is looking into it.

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Swedish men on target to be first to completely stub out smoking

New Scientist - Breaking news - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 9:56am
Just 5 per cent of Swedish men between the ages of 30 and 44 are lighting up. They use snus instead, which is banned elsewhere in Europe. But is it safe?
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Recoded organism paves way to new genetic language of life

New Scientist - Breaking news - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 9:38am
A new technique has allowed a quicker way of recoding genetic information, which could allow us to design fresh life forms with useful properties from scratch
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Swatch Takes on Google, Apple With Watch Operating System

Slashdot Updates - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 9:20am
Corinne Gretler, reporting for Bloomberg: Swatch said it's developing an alternative to the iOS and Android operating systems for smartwatches as Switzerland's largest maker of timepieces vies with Silicon Valley for control of consumers' wrists. The company's Tissot brand will introduce a model around the end of 2018 that uses the Swiss-made system, which will also be able to connect small objects and wearables, Swatch Chief Executive Officer Nick Hayek said in an interview Thursday. The technology will need less battery power and it will protect data better, he said later at a press conference. Switzerland's four-century-old watch industry has been adjusting to new competition since Apple entered its territory with the Apple Watch in 2015. Hayek faces the uphill challenge of trying to outsmart Google and Apple, which have fended off would-be rivals to their operation systems in smartphones and watches.

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The Last Days of Club Penguin

Slashdot Updates - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 8:40am
Club Penguin, a decade-old tween-focused social network by Disney is shutting down. From a report on The Outline: Club Penguin, which launched in 2005, will shutter on March 29, ending an 11-year run that at its peak drew 200 million users to the site. While the traffic has reportedly been in decline over the past few years -- the OG Club Penguin kids have mostly aged out (most of the site's user are 8-13), and there's growing competition from other social networking games, like the new LEGO Life -- fans both young and old are reacting to the news with emotions that run the Kubler-Ross gamut. Some have been reduced to shell-like human embodiments of the Loudly Crying Face emoji. James Charles, the beauty-obsessed 17-year-old Instagram star who was recently announced as the first male face of CoverGirl, tweeted, "my entire childhood is going down the drain wow I'm gonna cry RIP greendude50." Others are lashing out, attempting speedruns or willfully disobeying chat rules in the hopes of getting booted in an act of you-can't-fire-me-I-quit defiance. And of course, plenty are soaking up the last days, taking part in the community-wide "Waddle On" celebration that's essentially a G-rated version of an end-of-days rager.

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Tardigrades turn into glass to survive complete dehydration

New Scientist - Breaking news - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 8:24am
Water bears make unique jelly proteins that form a glass-like cocoon to protect them from drought. The find could one day help make drought resistant crops
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Premature babies’ brains respond differently to gentle touching

New Scientist - Breaking news - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 8:00am
Babies born very early miss out on weeks of development in the womb and experience painful procedures. This seems to alter their response to touch
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Slashdot Asks: Is the Internet Killing Old and New Art Forms or Helping Them Grow?

Slashdot Updates - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 8:00am
The thing about the internet is that as it gained traction and started to become part of our lives, it caused a lot of pain -- bloodbath, many say -- to several major industries. The music industry was nearly decimated, for instance, and pennies on the dollar doesn't begin to describe what has happened to the newspapers. But things are starting to change, many observers note. As Netflix CEO Reed Hastings noted at the New Yorker Tech Festival last year, the internet is increasingly changing the way people consume content and that has forced the industries to innovate and find new ways to cater to their audiences. But some of these industries are still struggling to figure out new models for their survival. Farhad Manjoo, a technology columnist at The New York Times, argues that for people of the future, our time may be remembered as a period not of death, but of rejuvenation and rebirth. He writes: Part of the story is in the art itself. In just about every cultural medium, whether movies or music or books or the visual arts, digital technology is letting in new voices, creating new formats for exploration, and allowing fans and other creators to participate in a glorious remixing of the work. [...] In the last few years, and with greater intensity in the last 12 months, people started paying for online content. They are doing so at an accelerating pace, and on a dependable, recurring schedule, often through subscriptions. And they're paying for everything. [...] It's difficult to overstate how big a deal this is. More than 20 years after it first caught mainstream attention and began to destroy everything about how we finance culture, the digital economy is finally beginning to coalesce around a sustainable way of supporting content. If subscriptions keep taking off, it won't just mean that some of your favorite creators will survive the internet. It could also make for a profound shift in the way we find and support new cultural talent. It could lead to a wider variety of artists and art, and forge closer connections between the people who make art and those who enjoy it.

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Netflix Will Explore Mobile-Specific Cuts of Its Original Series

Slashdot Updates - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 7:20am
An anonymous reader shares an article: Netflix chief product officer Neil Hunt said in a briefing today with journalists in San Francisco that the company plans to explore streaming mobile-specific cuts of its original movies and TV shows, to satisfy what he said was a growing audience of mobile Netflix watchers. "It's not inconceivable that you could take a master [copy] and make a different cut for mobile," Hunt said. To date, Netflix hasn't been delivering different cuts for different viewing platforms, Hunt said, but "it's something we will explore over the next few years." The idea would be to create a version of the content with scenes or shots that are more easily visible or immersive on a mobile phone, since certain shots can be hard to see or can appear diminished on a relatively small phone screen.

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Microsoft To End Support For Windows Vista In Less Than a Month

Slashdot Updates - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 6:40am
In less than a month's time, Microsoft will put Windows Vista to rest once and for all. If you're one of the few people still using it, you have just a few weeks to find another option before time runs out. (I mean, nobody will uninstall it from your computer, but.) From a report on PCWorld: After April 11, 2017, Microsoft will no longer support Windows Vista: no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options, or online technical content updates, Microsoft says. (Mainstream Vista support expired in 2012.) Like it did for Windows XP, Microsoft has moved on to better things after a decade of supporting Vista. As Microsoft notes, however, running an older operating system means taking risks -- and those risks will become far worse after the deadline. Vista's Internet Explorer 9 has long since expired, and the lack of any further updates means that any existing vulnerabilities will never be patched -- ever. Even if you have Microsoft's Security Essentials installed -- Vista's own antivirus program -- you'll only receive new signatures for a limited time.

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These fish are evolving right now to become land-dwellers

New Scientist - Breaking news - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 6:15am
The threat of predation makes the blenny fish seek refuge outside of water, where they are safer, perhaps retracing steps of first land-dwelling animals
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Tesla To Raise Over $1.15 Billion To Help Offset Risk For Model 3 Production

Slashdot Updates - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 6:02am
Tesla is looking to raise a total of around $1.15 billion from stock and convertible senior notes as a way to help "further reduce any risks" that it'll incur as it scales its business to handle its aggressive Model 3 production schedule, the company said. From a report: Tesla's decision to pad out its balance sheet with more capital was anticipated by many analysts, and a fair number of Wall Street watchers actually thought Tesla would seek more to help it grow based on recent comments made by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. The Model 3 is set to begin full production this year, with pre-production begun in February with a temporary production line pause to help get processes at its Fremont factory ready for the new vehicle. The split of the new funding efforts will see Tesla pursue $250 million in common stock offering, with $750 million raised via convertible notes due in 2022. Elon Musk himself will personally contribute by buying $25 million in Tesla stock.

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Psychopathic CEOs Are Rife In Silicon Valley, Experts Say

Slashdot Updates - Thu, 03/16/2017 - 5:40am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: There is a high proportion of psychopathic CEOs in Silicon Valley, enabled by protective investors and weak human resources departments, according to a panel of experts at SXSW festival. Although the term "psychopath" typically has negative connotations, some of the attributes associated with the disorder can be advantageous in a business setting. "A true psychopath is someone that has a blend of emotional, interpersonal, lifestyle and behavioral deficits but an uncanny ability to mask them. They come across as very charming, very gregarious. But underneath there's a profound lack of remorse, callousness and a lack of empathy," said forensic and clinical psychologist Michael Woodworth, who has worked with psychopathic murderers in high security prisons, on Tuesday. According to recent studies there's a high prevalence of psychopathy among high-level executives in a corporate environment: 4-8% compared with 1% in the general population. This makes sense, according to Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bryan Stolle because "it's an irrational act to start a company." "You have to have a tremendous amount of ego [and] self-deception to embark on that journey," he said. "You have to make sacrifices and give up things, including sometimes a marriage, family and friends. And you have to convince other people. So they are mostly very charismatic, charming and make you suspend the disbelief that something can't be done." However, the positive attributes are accompanied by manipulation. "One of the main things that makes them extremely difficult to organizations is their willingness to manipulate through deception," said Jeff Hancock, a Stanford social scientist who studies psychopathy. "Psychopaths will handpick people they can use as lackeys or supporters, such as someone in HR they can have in their wheelhouse," said Woodworth.

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AMD Announces Ryzen 5 Processors With 4 and 6-Core Chips Starting At $169

Slashdot Updates - Wed, 03/15/2017 - 11:00pm
MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: Today, AMD unveiled additional details with respect to the entire Ryzen 5 processor line-up. Unlike the Ryzen 7 series, which consists entirely of 8-core/16-thread processors, the Ryzen 5 family has two tiers consisting of 6-core/12-thread and 4-core/8-thread processors. The entry-level part is the Ryzen 5 1400, a 4-core/8-thread CPU with base and turbo clocks of 3.2GHz and 3.4GHz, respectively. The Ryzen 5 1500X has the same quad-core configuration, but with base and turbo clocks of 3.5GHz and 3.7GHz, and also has support for an extended XFR frequency range of up to 3.9GHz. The Ryzen 5 1600 is a 6-core/12-thread processor, with 3.2GHz base and 3.6GHz boost clocks. And at the top of the stack is the Ryzen 5 1600X -- which has a similar 6-core configuration -- but cranks things up even further to 3.6GHz/4.0GHz. With XFR, the absolute maximum frequency for all of the Ryzen 5 processors will be somewhat higher, but AMD hasn't disclosed specifics for all parts. AMD's Ryzen 5 processor line-up will work with the very same AM4 platform as the higher-end Ryzen 7. Ryzen 5 series processors will be launching officially on April 11, with prices starting at $169 for the Ryzen 5 1400. An additional $20 will get you a Ryzen 5 1500X, while the 6-core Ryzen 5 1600 and 1600X will sell for $219 and $249, respectively.

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