By BeauHD from Slashdot's there's-more-where-that-came-from department
Iwastheone shares a report from Business Insider: Arthur Ashkin, the world's oldest Nobel Prize winner, [...] has turned the bottom floor of his house into a kind of laboratory where he's developing a solar-energy-harnessing device. Ashkin's new invention uses geometry to capture and funnel light. Essentially, it relies on reflective concentrator tubes that intensify solar reflections, which could make existing solar panels more efficient or perhaps even replace them altogether with something cheaper and simpler. The tubes are "dirt cheap," Ashkin says -- they cost just pennies to create -- which is why he thinks they "will save the world." He's even got his eye on a second Nobel Prize.
Ashkin's lifelong fascination with light has already saved countless lives. He shared the 2018 Nobel Prize in physics for his role in inventing a tiny object-levitating technology called optical tweezers, which is essentially a powerful laser beam that can "catch very small things," as Ashkin describes it. Optical tweezers can hold and stretch DNA, thereby helping us probe some of the biggest mysteries of life. [...] Ashkin has already filed the necessary patent paperwork (he holds at least 47 patents to date) for his new invention, but said he isn't ready to share photos of the concentrators with the public just yet. Soon, he hopes to publish his results in the journal Science.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's environmentally-friendly department
In a press release, Samsung said that it will be replacing plastic packaging with "environmentally sustainable elements" beginning this year. The Verge reports: The company announced today that it will replace the plastic used in phones, tablets and wearables for molds and accessory bags made with "eco-friendly materials." The company also says that it will also change the design for its phone chargers to reduce the use of plastics, "swapping the glossy exterior with a matte finish." The company will also replace plastic bags used to protect its air conditioners, refrigerators, TVs, and washing machines with recycled materials and bioplastics that come from non-fossil fuel sources. Finally, the company will begin using paper that's been certified by "global environmental organizations" in its manuals by next year.
Gyeong-bin Jeon the head of Samsung's Global Customer Satisfaction Center, says that the company is working to address "society's environmental issues such as resource depletion and plastic wastes," and that it wants to minimize the waste that it produces. In making the shift, Samsung pledges to use 500 thousand tons of recycled plastics and to collect 7.5 tons of discarded products by 2030.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's digital-drug department
SpzToid shares a report from Reuters: When Danny Reagan was 13, he began exhibiting signs of what doctors usually associate with drug addiction. He became agitated, secretive and withdrew from friends. He had quit baseball and Boy Scouts, and he stopped doing homework and showering. But he was not using drugs. He was hooked on YouTube and video games, to the point where he could do nothing else. As doctors would confirm, he was addicted to his electronics. "After I got my console, I kind of fell in love with it," Danny, now 16 and a junior in a Cincinnati high school, said. "I liked being able to kind of shut everything out and just relax." Danny was different from typical plugged-in American teenagers. Psychiatrists say internet addiction, characterized by a loss of control over internet use and disregard for the consequences of it, affects up to 8 percent of Americans and is becoming more common around the world. "We're all mildly addicted. I think that's obvious to see in our behavior," said psychiatrist Kimberly Young, who has led the field of research since founding the Center for Internet Addiction in 1995. "It becomes a public health concern obviously as health is influenced by the behavior." At first, Danny's parents took him to doctors and made him sign contracts pledging to limit his internet use. The "Reboot" program at the Lindner Center for Hope offers inpatient treatment for 11 to 17-year-olds who, like Danny, have addictions including online gaming, gambling, social media, pornography and sexting, often to escape from symptoms of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. âoeRebootâ patients spend 28 days at a suburban facility equipped with 16 bedrooms, classrooms, a gym and a dining hall. They undergo diagnostic tests, psychotherapy, and learn to moderate their internet use.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's space-time-continuum department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Tonic: The perception of time is a fundamental process of the brain, linked tightly to attention, emotions, memory, psychiatric and neurological disorders, and even consciousness -- but while scientists have been anecdotally noting how drugs can change time perception for decades, very few have been able to address the question rigorously with tightly designed studies. Cognitive neuroscientist Devin Terhune says he's been interested in understanding the neurochemical mechanisms involved in the distortions in the perception of time, and these drugs are one way to do that. Psychedelics act on specific pathways and chemicals in the brain, and if they also change the perception of time, we could learn exactly how it happens. At the end of November, Terhune and his co-authors published a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in Psychopharmacology on the effects of microdoses of LSD on people's perception of time. They found that even at small doses, LSD seems to change the way people interpret time, though the specifics of how and when are still to be determined.
< article continued at Slashdot's space-time-continuum department
>Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's going-going-gone department
Facebook Moments, the standalone mobile app designed to let users privately share photos and videos, is shutting down next month. "Facebook confirmed the app's services will end February 25," reports TechCrunch. "Facebook decided to end support for the app, which hasn't been updated in some time, because people weren't using it." From the report: Moments, which first launched in 2015, has seen some competition from other Facebook products recently, which might have led to its demise. For instance, Facebook built out its Stories feature, which includes a direct sharing option. That option, while designed for one-offs and not whole albums, did allow users to bypass the Moments app entirely in order to privately send photos with a select friend or friends. Users also have the option to share any of their photos from the app as Albums on Facebook. If someone downloads the app to an Album, the privacy setting will default to "Only Me" but a user always has the option to share it with friends. Facebook says it will continue to incorporate options for saving memories within the Facebook app, as well. "We're ending support for the Moments app, which we originally launched as a place for people to save their photos. We know the photos people share are important to them so we will continue offering ways to save memories within the Facebook app," Rushabh Doshi, director of product management said in a statement. If you're a Moments user, you should see a message warning you about the app's demise. You can either export your photos from any device, or create a private album on your Facebook account to retrieve your photos.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's beige-box-of-the-future department
On Thursday, Tim Cook took to Twitter to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Macintosh, recalling how it changed the world. "35 years ago, Macintosh said hello. It changed the way we think about computers and went on to change the world. We love the Mac, and today weâ(TM)re proud that more people than ever are using it to follow their passions and create the future," Cook tweeted. The Register provides a brief history lesson on how the Mac changed how users interact with computers. Here is an excerpt from the report: After the disastrous debut of the Lisa, and the abject failure of the Apple III, it was down to the Steve Jobs-led Macintosh project to save the day for the troubled computer manufacturer. Rival IBM had launched the Personal Computer XT just under a year earlier, in March 1983, with up to 640KB of RAM and a mighty Intel 8088 CPU. It also included PC-DOS 2, which would go on to underpin Microsoft's operating system efforts in subsequent decades. IBM had started to rule the PC industry, but what the IBM PC XT did not have was a graphical user interface, sticking instead with the sober command line of DOS. The Macintosh, on the other hand, had a GUI lifted from Apple's ill-fated Lisa project, except (and unusually, as things would turn out) retailed at a lower price of $2,495 (just over $6,000 in today's money). It ran faster than the Lisa too, with its Motorola 68000 CPU clocked at 7.8MHz.
< article continued at Slashdot's beige-box-of-the-future department
>Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's line-in-the-sand department
Germany has laid out a $91 billion plan to phase out its use of coal by 2038, a government-appointed commission said Saturday. "Under the plan, half of the up to $91 billion will go to the regions shuttering plants in the west and east of the country, while the other half will be spent on preventing electricity prices from rising," ABS-CBN News reports. From the report: The commission agreed to the deadline after months of bitter wrangling as pressure mounts on Europe's top economy to step up its commitment to battling climate change. The panel, consisting of politicians, climate experts, unions and industry figures from coal regions, announced the deal after a final marathon session ended on Saturday morning. The commission's findings will now be passed on to the government, which is expected -- barring a surprise -- to follow the recommendations of the panel it set up. The plan will be discussed at a meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel, Finance Minister Scholz and regional leaders on Thursday, national news agency DPA said.
Several plants using lignite or brown coal, which is more polluting than black coal, would be closed by 2022. Other plants will follow until 2030, when only 17 gigawatts of Germany's electricity will be supplied by coal, compared to today's 45 gigawatts. The last plant will close in 2038 at the latest, the commission said, but did not rule out moving this date forward to 2035 if conditions permit. The affected regions, where tens of thousands of jobs directly or indirectly linked to brown- and black-coal energy production, will receive 40 billion euros as compensation over the next two decades. Two billion euros will also be spent each year over the same period to stop customers from facing rising electricity prices.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's revealed-for-the-first-time department
"A 2016 document proposing cost cuts at Alphabet's Google, including fewer promotions and bonuses, sparked heated debate when it was shared inside the technology company for the first time this week," reports Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter. "At a companywide townhall meeting on Thursday, Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai fielded questions about the proposals, some of which have been implemented." From the report: The ideas were in a 2016 slide deck drafted by the company's human resources department from a brainstorming session. The document, portions of which were read to Bloomberg News, was circulated in recent days by employees via Google's internal communications systems. It detailed proposed changes to employee compensation, benefits and perks. The document also discussed how the proposals could be best presented to employees to minimize frustration, according to one of the people. That caused the most anger among some staff after the document was circulated, said this person.
< article continued at Slashdot's revealed-for-the-first-time department
>Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's needs-some-work department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Over the last two years, Amazon has aggressively marketed its facial recognition technology to police departments and federal agencies as a service to help law enforcement identify suspects more quickly. Now a new study from researchers at the M.I.T. Media Lab has found that Amazon's system, Rekognition, had much more difficulty in telling the gender of female faces and of darker-skinned faces in photos than similar services from IBM and Microsoft. The results raise questions about potential bias that could hamper Amazon's drive to popularize the technology.
In the study, published Thursday, Rekognition made no errors in recognizing the gender of lighter-skinned men. But it misclassified women as men 19 percent of the time, the researchers said, and mistook darker-skinned women for men 31 percent of the time. Microsoft's technology mistook darker-skinned women for men just 1.5 percent of the time. For the latest study, [co-author of the study, Ms. Buolamwini, said] she sent a letter with some preliminary results to Amazon seven months ago. But she said that she hadn't heard back from Amazon, and that when she and a co-author retested the company's product a couple of months later, it had not improved. "It's not possible to draw a conclusion on the accuracy of facial recognition for any use case -- including law enforcement -- based on results obtained using facial analysis," Matt Wood, general manager of AI at Amazon Web Services, said. He added that the researchers had not tested the latest version of Rekognition, which was updated in November. "Amazon said that in recent internal tests using an updated version of its service, the company found no difference in accuracy in classifying gender across all ethnicities," the NYT reports. The new study is scheduled to be presented Monday at an artificial intelligence and ethics conference in Honolulu.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's watch-out department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: U.S. cable Internet customers are using an average of 268.7GB per month, and 4.1 percent of households use at least 1TB, according to new research by the vendor OpenVault. Households that use at least 1TB a month are at risk of paying overage fees because of the 1TB data caps imposed by Comcast and other ISPs. Terabyte users nearly doubled year over year, as just 2.1 percent of households hit the 1TB mark last year, according to OpenVault. OpenVault found that households that face data caps use 8.5-percent less data than un-capped users, suggesting that cable customers limit their Internet usage when they face the prospect of overage fees. According to OpenVault, the caps can help cable companies avoid major network upgrades.
Specifically, "OpenVault's 2018 data also shows that average usage for households with flat-rate pricing was 282.1GB/HH, more than 9 percent higher than the 258.2GB/HH average usage for households on usage-based billing (UBB) plans," OpenVault wrote. Stated another way, customers facing caps and overage fees use 8.5-percent less data than un-capped customers. Un-capped customers are, naturally, more likely to exceed a terabyte. "The percentage of flat-rate (non-UBB) households exceeding 1TB of usage was 4.82 percent, a full percentage point higher than the 3.81 percent of UBB households who exceeded the 1TB threshold," OpenVault said. The 268.7GB average household data used in December 2018 was "up from 226.4GB/HH [household] at the end of June 2018 and a 33.3 percent increase over the YE 2017 average of 201.6GB/HH," OpenVault said. Median usage was 145.2GB in December 2018, "up from 116.4GB/HH in June 2018 and a 40 percent increase over the YE 2017 median of 103.6GB/HH," the company also said.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Dunning-Kreuger department
The Edmonton Journal reports:
Recently, researchers asked more than 2,000 American and European adults their thoughts about genetically modified foods. They also asked them how much they thought they understood about GM foods, and a series of 15 true-false questions to test how much they actually knew about genetics and science in general. The researchers were interested in studying a perverse human phenomenon: People tend to be lousy judges of how much they know. Across four studies conducted in three countries -- the U.S., France and Germany -- the researchers found that extreme opponents of genetically modified foods "display a lack of insight into how much they know." They know the least, but think they know the most. "The less people know," the authors conclude, "the more opposed they are to the scientific consensus."
Science communicators have made concerted efforts to educate the public with an eye to bringing their attitudes in line with the experts," they write in the journal Nature Human Behaviour. But people with an inflated sense of what they actually know -- and most in need of education -- are also the ones least likely to be open to new information.... Extreme views often come along with not appreciating the complexity of the subject -- "not realizing how much there is to know," said Philip Fernbach, lead author of the new study and a professor of marketing at the University of Colorado Boulder. "People who don't know very much think they know a lot, and that is the basis for their extreme views."
Slashdot reader Layzej links to Rational Wiki's article on "The Backfire Effect," to illustrate Fernbach's observation that "People double down on their 'counter-scientific consensus attitudes'.
"Epecially when people feel threatened or if they are being treated as if they are stupid."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's one-small-step-for-rock department
schwit1 quotes Popular Mechanics: A lot of the rocks we have on Earth are pretty old, but none of them were around when our planet was first formed. The Earth itself is around 4.5 billion years old, and the oldest rocks we've ever found are a little over half that age. That seems to have changed, however, because a group of scientists recently announced they've found a rock that formed only half a billion years after the Earth itself. The twist is that this particular rock wasn't discovered on Earth at all. It was found on the moon. The rock itself was discovered decades ago by the Apollo 14 crew. The Apollo missions brought back a whole lot of rock samples, and scientists have been methodically analyzing them ever since. This one seems to have been somewhere near the end of the list, but it may be the most interesting one ever found. According to the analysis, this rock formed somewhere between 4 and 4.1 billion years ago, about 12.4 miles beneath the Earth's crust. Researchers knew it came from the Earth based on the amount of various minerals like quartz and feldspar, which are common on Earth but rare on the Moon. They could tell how deep it was based on a molecular analysis of the rock, which can tell the researchers what temperature the rock was at when it formed.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's giant-leaps-for-mankind department
This year's Sundance Film Festival opened with a new 93-minute documentary crafted entirely from archival footage of NASA's Apollo 11 mission, reports collectSpace -- including some never seen before:
In the course of sourcing all of the known imagery, the National Archives (NARA) staff members made a discovery that changed the course of the project -- an unprocessed collection of 65mm footage, never before seen by the public. Unbeknownst to even the NARA archivists, the reels contained wide format scenes of the Saturn V launch, the inside of the Launch Control Center and post-mission activities aboard the USS Hornet aircraft carrier... The resulting transfer -- from which the documentary was cut -- is the highest resolution, highest quality digital collection of Apollo 11 footage in existence. "We knew that the clock was ticking, this material had been sitting around for 50 years," said director Todd Douglas Miller, commenting on the motivation behind the film scanning effort.
The other unexpected find was a massive cache of audio recordings -- more than 11,000 hours -- comprising the individual tracks from 60 members of the Mission Control team. "Apollo 11" film team members wrote code to restore the audio and make it searchable and then began the multi-year process of listening to and documenting the recordings. The effort yielded new insights into key events of the moon landing mission, as well as surprising moments of humor and camaraderie. "Much of the footage in 'Apollo 11' is, by virtue of both access and proper preservation, utterly breathtaking," wrote The Hollywood Reporter's Daniel Fienberg in his review of the film. "The sense of scale, especially in the opening minutes, sets the tone as [the] rocket is being transported to the launch pad and resembles nothing so much as a scene from 'Star Wars' only with the weight and grandeur that come from 6.5 million pounds of machinery instead of CG."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I-see-you-are-trying-to-build-nuclear-power-plants department
An anonymous reader quotes the Washington Post:
Bill Gates thinks he has a key part of the answer for combating climate change: a return to nuclear power... Gates, who founded TerraPower in 2006, is telling lawmakers that he personally would invest $1 billion and raise $1 billion more in private capital to go along with federal funds for a pilot of his company's never-before-used technology, according to congressional staffers. "Nuclear is ideal for dealing with climate change, because it is the only carbon-free, scalable energy source that's available 24 hours a day," Gates said in his year-end public letter. "The problems with today's reactors, such as the risk of accidents, can be solved through innovation."
Gates's latest push comes at an important turn in climate politics. Nuclear power has united both unpopular industry executives and a growing number of people -- including some prominent Democrats -- alarmed about climate change. But many nuclear experts say that Gates's company is pursuing a flawed technology and that any new nuclear design is likely to come at a prohibitive economic cost and take decades to perfect, market and construct in any significant numbers... Edwin Lyman, a nuclear expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said TerraPower is one of many companies that is raising the public's hopes for advanced nuclear reactor designs even though they're still on the drawing boards and will remain unable to combat climate change for many years.
Jonah Goldman, of Gates Ventures, stressed to The Post that Gates was not advocating for TerraPower alone, according to GeekWire.
"Gates thinks the U.S. has 'the best minds, the best lab systems and entrepreneurs willing to take risk,' Goldman told the newspaper. 'But what we don't have is a commitment on Congress' part.'"Read Replies (0)