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Multiple US Airlines Hit By Flight Check-in and Booking Systems Outage
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '19 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's outage-report department:
A computer system that airlines use for check-in kiosks, booking and more was experiencing issues on Tuesday, apparently affecting multiple air carriers. From a report: There were widespread reports on social media of air passengers inconvenienced by the outage, with long lines at airports across the country. Sabre Airline Solutions released this statement shortly before noon Eastern Time: "We are aware of the issues facing some of our customers. Recovery is in progress. We apologize for the inconvenience." The company was tweeting that statement to people who took note of the outage. American Airlines flagged the issue, saying in a statement that Sabre was "experiencing a technical issue that is impacting multiple carriers, including American Airlines. Sabre is working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, and we apologize to our customers for the inconvenience." American later said that the issue with Sabre's system "has been resolved."

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Firefox Lockbox Comes To Android To Ease Password Pain
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '19 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-products department:
If you're a Firefox true believer, or even just a Firefox user, your password struggles just got a little easier with the release of Firefox Lockbox for Android devices. From a report: The password manager, based on login information already in Firefox, makes it easier to sign into apps as well. It integrates with login autocomplete systems in both Apple's iOS and Google's Android software, Mozilla said. It's not as fancy as password managers like LastPass, BitWarden, 1Password and Dashlane, and the only browser it works with is Firefox. On the other hand, if you're already in the Firefox world, it's basically already set up for you. There's no migration process as with dedicated password managers.

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Swift 5 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '19 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department:
Ted Kremenek, a manager of the Languages and Runtimes team at Apple, writes: Swift 5 is now officially released! Swift 5 is a major milestone in the evolution of the language. Thanks to ABI stability, the Swift runtime is now included in current and future versions of Apple's platform operating systems: macOS, iOS, tvOS and watchOS. Swift 5 also introduces new capabilities that are building blocks for future versions, including a reimplementation of String, enforcement of exclusive access to memory during runtime, new data types, and support for dynamically callable types.

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EU Parliament Votes To End Daylight Savings
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '19 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's about-time department:
The European Parliament on Tuesday voted with a large majority to end daylight savings time in the EU by 2021. From a report: Under the proposals, each member state would decide whether to continue with twice-a-year clock changes or stick permanently to summer or winter time. All 28 member states would need to inform the European Commission of their choice ahead of the proposed switch, by April 2020. They would then coordinate with the bloc's executive so that their decisions do not disrupt the functioning of the single market.

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Europe Passes Controversial Online Copyright Reforms
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '19 at 05:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's huge-step-backward-for-humanity department:
EU lawmakers today endorsed an overhaul of the bloc's two-decade old copyright rules, which will force Google and Facebook to pay publishers for use of news snippets and make them filter out protected content. From a report: The set of copyright rules known as the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, but more succinctly as the EU Copyright Directive, has been debated and discussed for several years. While it is broadly uncontroversial in many regards, there are two facets to the directive that has caused the internet to freak out. Article 11, which has been dubbed the "link tax," stipulates that websites pay publishers a fee if they display excerpts of copyrighted content -- or even link to it. This obviously could have big ramifications for services such as Google News. Then there is Article 13, dubbed the "upload filter," which would effectively make digital platforms legally liable for any copyright infringements on their platform, which has stoked fears that it would stop people from sharing content -- such as GIF-infused memes -- on social networks. In a statement, EFF said, "In a stunning rejection of the will five million online petitioners, and over 100,000 protestors this weekend, the European Parliament has abandoned common-sense and the advice of academics, technologists, and UN human rights experts, and approved the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive in its entirety."

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Australia Threatens Social Media Laws That Could Jail Tech Execs
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '19 at 05:51 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's now-we're-talking department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: Following the livestreamed New Zealand mosque shooting that left 50 dead in Christchurch, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is looking to crack down on extremist content on social media. Morrison will on Tuesday meet with Australian executives of Facebook, Twitter and Google to discuss extremist content legislation that would punish these companies' executives with jail time, the Australian Financial Review reports. Local internet service providers will also be present at the meeting.

Details of the proposed legislation aren't yet known. However, Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which applies to any company operating in the continent, showed that tech companies can change their global practices to appease local legislation. News of Morrison's meeting with tech executives comes on the same day that his government announced increased punishment for companies misusing user information. Maximum penalties for misuse of private data was raised from AU$2.1 million to AU$10 million -- or 10 percent of the company's domestic revenue, or three times the value gained from that misuse of data.

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HTC Debuts New 'Vive Focus Plus' VR Headset; Available To Developers April 15 For $799
Posted by News Fetcher on March 26 '19 at 03:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-shiny department:
HTC has debuted their new virtual-reality headset called the Vive Focus Plus. Starting at $799, the headset functions similarly to the Oculus Quest, which starts shipping this spring at half the cost, but has improved specifications and is geared towards the business market. HTC says the Vive Focus Plus would be available to developers on April 15. UploadVR reports: The Vive Focus Plus will ship in most markets with an enterprise license. The headset is said to launch with 250 Vive Wave applications while its Viveport Infinity subscription program claims to include "over 70 premium titles." [Some of the specifications include a 3K AMOLED (2880x1600) display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, 75Hz frame rate, 110-degree field of view, and inside-out tracking.]

HTC is a company that appears to be in technological transition -- with the Vive Focus Plus the latest example. HTC's first generation Vive headset debuted in 2016 for $$799, a full $200 more than the Rift with a wider feature set. That system relied on Valve's SteamVR Tracking technology to operate. All headsets HTC released since 2016, except for the Vive Pro, don't rely on this technology. It should still be possible for some HTC systems to interact with SteamVR content but we've yet to test that sort of of functionality in a home setting. While Vive Focus Plus is HTC's current standalone headset the company is also planning the convertible Vive Cosmos as well. It is hard to get a full picture right now of how different Vive Focus Plus and Oculus Quest are from another in actual real-world use. HTC is trying to gear the headset to the business market but it is not clear how the headset or its business license will outperform Oculus Quest for business use cases.

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Once-Shrinking Greenland Glacier Is Now Growing, NASA Study Shows
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '19 at 11:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's surprise-findings department:
kenh shares a report from NBC News: A major Greenland glacier that was one of the fastest shrinking ice and snow masses on Earth is growing again, a new NASA study finds. The Jakobshavn (YA-cob-shawv-en) glacier around 2012 was retreating about 1.8 miles (3 kilometers) and thinning nearly 130 feet (almost 40 meters) annually. But it started growing again at about the same rate in the past two years, according to a study in Monday's Nature Geoscience. Study authors and outside scientists think this is temporary.

A natural cyclical cooling of North Atlantic waters likely caused the glacier to reverse course, said study lead author Ala Khazendar, a NASA glaciologist on the Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) project. Khazendar and colleagues say this coincides with a flip of the North Atlantic Oscillation -- a natural and temporary cooling and warming of parts of the ocean that is like a distant cousin to El Nino in the Pacific. The water in Disko Bay, where Jakobshavn hits the ocean, is about 3.6 degrees cooler than a few years ago, study authors said. While this is "good news" on a temporary basis, this is bad news on the long term because it tells scientists that ocean temperature is a bigger player in glacier retreats and advances than previously thought, said NASA climate scientist Josh Willis, a study co-author. Over the decades the water has been and will be warming from man-made climate change, he said, noting that about 90 percent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases goes into the oceans.

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Automation Threatens 1.5 Million Workers In Britain, Says ONS
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '19 at 08:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's times-they-are-a-changin department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: About 1.5 million workers in Britain are at high risk of losing their jobs to automation, according to government estimates, with women and those in part-time work most affected. Supermarket checkout assistants have already borne the brunt of the phenomenon, the Office for National Statistics found, with 25.3% of jobs disappearing between 2011 and 2017. Other jobs where automation has taken its toll include laundry workers, farm workers and tyre fitters, among which numbers have dropped by 15% or more, said the ONS, as machines have replaced labor.

Women are most likely to lose out, said the ONS. "The analysis showed a higher proportion of roles currently filled by women are at risk of automation; in 2017, 70.2% of high-risk jobs were held by women." It named Tamworth, Rutland and South Holland in Lincolnshire as the areas most exposed to automation -- partly reflecting a relatively high level of farm workers -- while Camden in north London has the workers least at risk. But the ONS analysis also found many workers -- especially those in their mid to late 30s and who work in London and the south-east -- have little to fear from the rise of the robots. Those with higher levels of education appear to be better protected. "The ONS said that, of the jobs at risk, 39% were held by people whose educational attainment level was GCSE or below, while 1.2% were held by those who had been through higher education or university," the report says.

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McDonald's Bites on Big Data With $300 Million Acquisition
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '19 at 05:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's whatever-floats-your-boat department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Mention McDonald's to someone today, and they're more likely to think about Big Mac than Big Data. But that could soon change: The fast-food giant has embraced machine learning, in a fittingly super-sized way. McDonald's is set to announce that it has reached an agreement to acquire Dynamic Yield, a startup based in Tel Aviv that provides retailers with algorithmically driven "decision logic" technology. When you add an item to an online shopping cart, it's the tech that nudges you about what other customers bought as well. Dynamic Yield reportedly had been recently valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars; people familiar with the details of the McDonald's offer put it at over $300 million. That would make it the company's largest purchase since it acquired Boston Market in 1999.

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We Transition Between 19 Different Brain Phases When Sleeping, Study Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '19 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's I'd-be-lucky-to-get-to-four department:
A new study suggests that instead of the traditional four sleep stages we generally understand the brain moves through, there are in fact at least 19 different identifiable brain patterns transitioned through while sleeping. New Atlas reports: Traditionally scientists have identified four distinct stages our brain transitions through in a general sleep cycle -- three non-REM sleep phases (N1-3) that culminate in an REM phase. The four stages have been classically determined and delineated using electroencephalographic (EEG) brainwave recordings. The new research set out to more comprehensively record whole-brain activity in a number of subjects by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The study began by studying 57 healthy subjects in an fMRI scanner. Each subject was asked to lie in the scanner for 52 minutes with their eyes closed. At the same time, each subject was tracked using an EEG. This allowed the researchers to compare traditional brainwave sleep cycle data with that from the fMRI.

< article continued at Slashdot's I'd-be-lucky-to-get-to-four department >

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Gmail App Changes Will Cause Most IFTTT Features To Stop Working
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '19 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's heads-up department:
Almost all of Gmail's IFTTT routines and actions will stop working at the end of the month as Google alters the Gmail API to make it more secure. The only functionality of IFTTT-Gmail integration will be sending yourself an email and sending an email to someone else. TechSpot reports: The roots of this problem reach back to a breathless report in the Wall Street Journal in the summer of 2018 that claimed Gmail app developers have been reading your email. What it actually meant was that Gmail's OAuth account access was too simple -- if you allowed an application to access to Gmail, it had access to all of it. Even apps that didn't need the full text of emails for their intended function would have access to that after you signed in. Google began tightening access to Gmail content for third-party apps, and that's where IFTTT comes in.

As of March 31, Google is placing new restrictions on Gmail apps. Apps can no longer read, create, or modify message bodies. None of IFTTT's seven Gmail triggers will work anymore after the new API rules go into effect. In conversations with Google, IFTTT was able to keep two of the Gmail actions: sending yourself an email and sending an email to someone else. However, the trigger needs to be from another service. You can log into your IFTTT account to see which of your Applets are affected by the change. The new API rules only affect Gmail. Other G Suite services like Google Drive and Assistant will remain operating normally.

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Music Labels Sue Charter, Complain That High Internet Speeds Fuel Piracy
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '19 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's who-doesn't-love-fast-internet department:
The music industry is suing Charter Communications, claiming that the cable Internet provider profits from music piracy by failing to terminate the accounts of subscribers who illegally download copyrighted songs. The lawsuit also complains that Charter helps its subscribers pirate music by selling packages with higher Internet speeds. Ars Technica reports: While the act of providing higher Internet speeds clearly isn't a violation of any law, ISPs can be held liable for their users' copyright infringement if the ISPs repeatedly fail to disconnect repeat infringers. The top music labelsâ"Sony, Universal, Warner, and their various subsidiariesâ"sued Charter Friday in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Colorado. While Charter has a copyright policy that says repeat copyright infringers may be disconnected, Charter has failed to disconnect those repeat infringers in practice, the complaint said: "Despite these alleged policies, and despite receiving hundreds of thousands of infringement notices from Plaintiffs, as well as thousands of similar notices from other copyright owners, Charter knowingly permitted specifically identified repeat infringers to continue to use its network to infringe. Rather than disconnect the Internet access of blatant repeat infringers to curtail their infringement, Charter knowingly continued to provide these subscribers with the Internet access that enabled them to continue to illegally download or distribute Plaintiffs' copyrighted works unabated. Charter's provision of high-speed Internet service to known infringers materially contributed to these direct infringements."

< article continued at Slashdot's who-doesn't-love-fast-internet department >

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The Adult Brain Does Grow New Neurons After All, Study Says
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '19 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lifelong-neuron-formation department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American: For decades, scientists have debated whether the birth of new neurons -- called neurogenesis -- was possible in an area of the brain that is responsible for learning, memory and mood regulation. A growing body of research suggested they could, but then a Nature paper last year raised doubts. Now, a new study published today in another of the Nature family of journals -- Nature Medicine -- tips the balance back toward "yes." In light of the new study, "I would say that there is an overwhelming case for the neurogenesis throughout life in humans," Jonas Frisen, a professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said in an e-mail. Frisen, who was not involved in the new research, wrote a News and Views about the study in the current issue of Nature Medicine.

The researchers, from Spain, tested a variety of methods of preserving brain tissue from 58 newly deceased people. They found that different methods of preservation led to different conclusions about whether new neurons could develop in the adult and aging brain. Brain tissue has to be preserved within a few hours after death, and specific chemicals used to preserve the tissue, or the proteins that identify newly developing cells will be destroyed, said Maria Llorens-Martin, the paper's senior author. Other researchers have missed the presence of these cells, because their brain tissue was not as precisely preserved, says Llorens-Martin, a neuroscientist at the Autonomous University of Madrid in Spain. Jenny Hsieh, a professor at the University of Texas San Antonio who was not involved in the new research, said the study provides a lesson for all scientists who rely on the generosity of brain donations. "If and when we go and look at something in human postmortem, we have to be very cautious about these technical issues."

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Android Users' Security and Privacy At Risk From Shadowy Ecosystem of Pre-Installed Software, Study Warns
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '19 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's something-to-keep-you-up-at-night department:
Researchers behind a large-scale independent study of pre-installed Android apps "unearthed a complex ecosystem of players with a primary focus on advertising and 'data-driven services' -- which they argue the average Android user is likely to be unaware of (while also likely lacking the ability to uninstall/evade the baked in software's privileged access to data and resources themselves)," reports TechCrunch. From the report: The study, which was carried out by researchers at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and the IMDEA Networks Institute, in collaboration with the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) at Berkeley (USA) and Stony Brook University of New York (US), encompassed more than 82,000 pre-installed Android apps across more than 1,700 devices manufactured by 214 brands, according to the IMDEA institute. "The study shows, on the one hand, that the permission model on the Android operating system and its apps allow a large number of actors to track and obtain personal user information," it writes. "At the same time, it reveals that the end user is not aware of these actors in the Android terminals or of the implications that this practice could have on their privacy. Furthermore, the presence of this privileged software in the system makes it difficult to eliminate it if one is not an expert user."

< article continued at Slashdot's something-to-keep-you-up-at-night department >

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Google Fixes Chrome 'Evil Cursor' Bug Abused by Tech Support Scam Sites
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '19 at 03:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Google has patched a Chrome bug that was being abused in the wild by tech support scammers to create artificial mouse cursors and lock users inside browser pages by preventing them from closing and leaving browser tabs. From a report: The trick was first spotted in September 2018 by Malwarebytes analyst Jerome Segura. Called an "evil cursor," it relied on using a custom image to replace the operating system's standard mouse cursor graphic. A criminal group that Malwarebytes called Partnerstroka operated by switching the standard OS 32-by-32 pixels mouse cursor with one of 128 or 256 pixels in size. A normal cursor would still appear on screen, but in the corner of a bigger transparent bounding box. [...] The "evil cursor" fix is currently live for Google Canary users, and is scheduled to land in the Chrome 75 stable branch, to be released later this spring.

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Comcast To Spend $50 Million To Create the Nation's First Video Gaming Arena
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '19 at 01:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Philly: Comcast Spectacor, which owns the Flyers, is to announce Monday morning that it will construct the first arena for gaming fans in the U.S. for the Comcast-owned Fusion, company officials say. The $50 million project is a testament to the surging popularity of esports, in which players compete in video games before large crowds. The company plans to break ground this summer on part of the 47-acre stadium complex site that Comcast Spectacor leases in South Philadelphia. The 3,500-seat arena will rise on a parking lot, next to Xfinity Live! and within walking distance of the Linc, Citizens Bank Park, and the Wells Fargo Center.

Nate Nanzer, commissioner of the 20-team Overwatch League, said there has never been a special-purpose esports arena "built anywhere. This is a huge step for esports. This is something we will see pop up all over the world." Besides housing Comcast's Fusion, one of the Overwatch League's teams, the venue is planned to be a major east coast hub for gaming events, company executives said. Comcast Spectacor expects to hold about 120 events a year in the new arena, with other gigs ranging from TED Talks to electronic dance music and K-pop concerts. K-pop is a music genre from South Korea that is popular with Fusion fans, Comcast Spectacor officials said. The Fusion Arena is looking to sell naming rights to the venue.

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Apple Arcade Is a New Game Subscription Service For iOS, Mac, and Apple TV
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '19 at 01:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fun-for-the-whole-family department:
Apple has unveiled a few different subscription services today at its "show time" event, including a new Apple Arcade game subscription service for titles that can be installed from the App Store. The company is aiming to curate some of the 300,000 games currently available from the App Store into this new ad-free subscription service. "There will be 100 new and exclusive games available on Apple Arcade, which will launch on the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV," reports The Verge. From the report: These games won't be available on any other mobile platform or any subscription service other than Apple Arcade. Games will be downloaded and played straight from the App Store, and subscribers will be able to try games whenever they want and resume them across devices. All of the game features, content, and future updates will be included, and there will be no ads shown within the games.

SimCity creator Will Wright is also making a game for the service. Apple is promising games from Annapurna Interactive, Bossa Studios, Cartoon Network, Finji, Giant Squid, Klei Entertainment, Konami, Lego, Mistwalker Corporation, SEGA, Snowman, ustwo games, and more. Apple isn't just curating the games for Apple Arcade; it's actually planning to contribute to the development costs of creating them. Apple might not have announced its own game studio today, but it's certainly a big step toward that. Apple Arcade is launching this fall in more than 150 countries, but Apple is not yet revealing pricing for this subscription service. Apple does say that "access for up to six family members," will be available, suggesting you'll be able to share the subscription. While the full list of games isn't available yet, some of the titles revealed on Apple Arcade's website include: LEGO Brawls, HitchHiker, Kings of the Castle, Where Cards Fall, and Frogger in Toy Town. If you're a game developer, you can sign up for more information about the service here.

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Apple TV+, With Shows From Spielberg, Oprah and J.J. Abrams, is Coming This Fall
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '19 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's major-push department:
Alongside its new news and payment services, Apple today also unveiled Apple TV+, a place for its new slate of original shows. The new service, billed as a place for the "highest-quality storytelling," will be available in over 100 countries and released starting this fall through the Apple TV app. From a report: It will be ad-free, on-demand and available both streaming online and downloadable. Pricing will be announced this fall. Apple TV Plus is the company's way of jumping into the streaming video game, where Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and others have already established themselves and brought in millions of cord-cutter customers fleeing cable subscriptions. The new service also works as a way for Apple to grow its thriving services business, helping it continue to grow despite lagging iPhone sales.

The company in 2017 hired Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg from Sony Pictures Television to oversee "all aspects of video programming." The two were responsible for shows such as Breaking Bad, The Crown and Rescue Me. And in the past year, Apple has continually announced original content it's producing -- including a multiyear partnership deal with Oprah and deals with Reese Witherspoon, J.J. Abrams and dozens of others. The company has reportedly gone well past its original $1 billion budget to bring in this list of movie and television A-listers, who are slated to create about 30 shows and a handful of movies.

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The Adult Brain Does Grow New Neurons After All, Study Says
Posted by News Fetcher on March 25 '19 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
A new study points toward lifelong neuron formation in the human brain's hippocampus, with implications for memory and disease. From a report: For decades, scientists have debated whether the birth of new neurons -- called neurogenesis -- was possible in an area of the brain that is responsible for learning, memory and mood regulation. A growing body of research suggested they could, but then a Nature paper last year raised doubts. Now, a new study published today in another of the Nature family of journals -- Nature Medicine -- tips the balance back toward "yes." In light of the new study, "I would say that there is an overwhelming case for the neurogenesis throughout life in humans," Jonas Frisen, a professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said in an e-mail. Frisen, who was not involved in the new research, wrote a News and Views about the study in the current issue of Nature Medicine.

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