By msmash from Slashdot's next-big-bet department
Akshat Rathi, writing for Quartz: The world needs radical new energy technologies to fight climate change. In 2016, Quartz reported that a group of billionaires -- including Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, Mukesh Ambani, and Richard Branson -- launched Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) to invest at least $1 billion in creating those technologies. Now, 18 months later, Quartz can reveal the first two startups that BEV will be investing in: Form Energy and Quidnet Energy. Both companies are developing new technologies to store energy, but taking completely different approaches to achieve that goal. The way to reach the world's climate goals is straightforward: reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions to zero within the next few decades. But the energy technologies that can help us get there tend to need lots of money and long lead times to develop. That's why many conventional investors, who are looking for quicker returns, have burned their fingers investing in clean tech. The wealthy investors of BEV want to remedy that. Their $1 billion fund is "patient capital," to be invested in only companies working on technologies capable of cutting global carbon emissions by at least 500 million metric tons annually, even if they may not provide returns on investment for up to 20 years.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hang-in-there-buddy department
According to NASA, the Mars Opportunity rover is currently trying to survive an intensifying dust storm on the red planet. "The storm's atmospheric opacity -- the veil of dust blowing around, which can blot out sunlight -- is now much worse than a 2007 storm that Opportunity weathered," reports NASA. "The previous storm had an opacity level, or tau, somewhere above 5.5; this new storm had an estimated tau of 10.8 as of Sunday morning." Engadget reports: The storm was first detected on Friday June 1st by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, at which point the rover's team was notified because of the weather event's proximity to Opportunity. The rover uses solar panels, so a dust storm could have an extremely negative impact on Opportunity's power levels and its batteries. By Wednesday June 6th, Opportunity was in minimal operations mode because of sharply decreasing power levels. The brave little rover is continuing to weather the storm; it sent a transmission back to Earth Sunday morning, which is a good sign. It means there's still enough charge left in the batteries to communicate with home, despite the fact that the storm is continuing to worsen.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's non-invasive department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: A test developed by scientists in the U.K. and U.S. might someday be able to pinpoint the men most likely to get prostate cancer. A new study published Monday in Nature Genetics suggests the test can detect the one percent of men who are genetically most vulnerable to developing prostate cancer, a leading cause of cancer deaths among American men. The international research team used a new DNA analysis technique to peer into the genes of more than 70,000 people enrolled in previous studies. Some 45,000 of the subjects had already developed prostate cancer, while 25,000 hadn't. So the researchers compared the two groups, singling out any inherited genetic variations that might have contributed to their cancer risk. According to the authors, they managed to find 63 new variants never before associated with prostate cancer.
These results were then integrated with nearly a hundred genetic variants linked to prostate cancer previously found among 60,000 people to create a total genetic risk score. And finally, the researchers devised a test that uses a person's saliva to detect these more than 150 variants. In the U.S., people over the age of 50 are generally screened for prostate cancer via the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Those with a certain high level of PSA should be screened annually, while everyone else is advised to be screened every two years. But the saliva test could reveal especially high-risk people who need annual screening regardless of their PSA level, while ruling out low-risk people who don't need annual screening based on their genetic risk and PSA scores. Those people would only need screenings every two, five, and maybe even 10 years.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rules-to-follow department
Apple has updated the App Store's Review Guidelines to explicitly ban on-device mining across any type of app, and all of Apple's platforms. The new section 3.1.5 (b), titled Cryptocurrencies, provides five clear rules for what will and won't be allowed in macOS, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS apps going forward. VentureBeat reports: The upshot of the new rules is that while Apple will permit cryptocurrencies to exist on its platforms, it's adding requirements to stop scammers and individuals from exploiting App Store customers, while making explicit that it's blocking developers from eating Apple device processing power for mining activities. As AppleInsider notes, the Review Guidelines were previously less concerned with cryptocurrencies, allowing an app to facilitate crypto and ICO transactions if it complied with the laws in the app's distributed territories.
Since the App Store is virtually the only place to acquire software for iPhones, iPads, iPod touches, Apple TVs, and Apple Watches, Apple's decision will effectively end crypto mining on those devices. On macOS, however, users will continue to be able to acquire apps outside of the Mac App Store, enabling mining and other activities to continue without Apple's seal of approval.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's modern-day-crimes department
A CNET report provides some insight on an elite K-9 search class that trains dogs to sniff out electronics, including phones, hard drives and microSD cards smaller than your thumb. From the report: Only one out of every 50 dogs tested qualifies to become an electronic storage detection, or ESD, dog, says Kerry Halligan, a K-9 instructor with the Connecticut State Police. That's because it's a lot harder to detect the telltale chemical in electronics than it is to sniff out narcotics, bombs, fire accelerants or people, she says. But Labrador retrievers like Harley, with their long snouts and big muzzles, can pick up even the faintest olfactory clues. These tech-seeking dogs are helping law enforcement find child pornography stashed in hidden hard drives, uncover concealed phones, nab white-collar evidence kept on hard drives and track calls stored on SIM cards. The most famous case occurred in 2015, when a Labrador retriever named Bear found a hidden flash drive containing child pornography in the home of former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle. The district attorney called the discovery vital to Fogle's conviction.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's caught-you-because-I-can department
Federal authorities announced Monday that they had "disrupted" what they call "Business Email Compromise" schemes, which involve a malicious actor sending a phishing email and somehow convincing employees with access to a company's financial credentials to transfer money fraudulently. From a report: The FBI added that $2.4 million dollars was seized, while $14 million in "fraudulent wire transfers" was recovered. Seventy-four people were arrested worldwide, including 42 in the United States, 29 in Nigeria, and three others in Canada, Mauritius, and Poland. "Fraudsters can rob people of their life's savings in a matter of minutes," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. "These are malicious and morally repugnant crimes. The Department of Justice has taken aggressive action against fraudsters in recent months, conducting the largest sweep of fraud against American seniors in history back in February." The Department of Justice did not immediately provide a full list of those arrested, or the criminal complaints, but it said that, "since the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) began formally keeping track of BEC and its variant, email account compromise (EAC), there has been a loss of over $3.7 billion reported to the IC3."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department
The state-run Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) ordered all unregistered bloggers and online forums on Monday to suspend their websites immediately or face criminal prosecution. Several sites, including popular online discussion platform Jamiiforums, have reportedly shut down to avoid prosecution. Reuters reports: Regulations passed in March made it compulsory for bloggers and owners of other online forums such as YouTube channels to register with the government and pay up to $900 for a license. Per capita income in Tanzania is slightly below $900 a year. Digital activists say the law is part of a crackdown on dissent and free speech by the government of President John Magufuli, who was elected in 2015. Government officials argue the new rules are aimed at tackling hate speech and other online crimes, including cyberbullying and pornography.
"All unregistered online content providers must be licensed before June 15. Starting from today June 11 until June 15, they are prohibited from posting any new content on their blogs, forums or online radios and televisions," the regulator said in a statement on Monday. The statement said legal action would be taken against any unregistered websites posting new content. Anyone convicted of defying the new regulations faces a fine of at least 5 million shillings ($2,200), imprisonment for a minimum 12 months, or both.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Editing cell genomes with CRISPR-Cas9 might increase the risk of developing cancer, two studies published Monday warn. From a report: Editing cells' genomes with CRISPR-Cas9 might increase the risk that the altered cells, intended to treat disease, will trigger cancer, two studies published on Monday warn -- a potential game-changer for the companies developing CRISPR-based therapies. In the studies, published in Nature Medicine, scientists found that cells whose genomes are successfully edited by CRISPR-Cas9 have the potential to seed tumors inside a patient. That could make some CRISPR'd cells ticking time bombs, according to researchers from Sweden's Karolinska Institute and, separately, Novartis. CRISPR has already dodged two potentially fatal bullets -- a 2017 claim that it causes sky-high numbers of off-target effects was retracted in March, and a report of human immunity to Cas9 was largely shrugged off as solvable. But experts are taking the cancer-risk finding seriously.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's details-are-in-the-devil department
An anonymous reader writes: Last year, Canada introduced a new lottery system used to extend permanent-resident status to the parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens. The process was designed to randomly select applicants in order to make the process fairer than the old first-come, first-served system. There's just one problem: the software used to run the lottery isn't actually random. The Globe and Mail reported the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) uses Microsoft Excel to run the immigration lottery to select 10,000 people for permanent resident status from a field of about 100,000 applications received each year. Experts warned that the random number generating function in Excel isn't actually random and may put some applicants at a disadvantage. First, it's best to understand just how the lottery system works. An Access to Information request filed by The Globe and Mail shows that IRCC inputs the application number for every person entering the lottery into Excel, then assigns them a random number to each using a variation of the program's RAND command. They then sort the list from smallest to largest based on the random number assigned and take the first 10,000 applications with the lowest numbers. The system puts a lot of faith in Excel's random function, which it might not deserve. According to Universite de Montreal computer science professor Pierre L'Ecuyer, Excel is "very bad" at generating random numbers because it relies on an old generator that is out of date. He also warned that Excel doesn't pass statistical tests and is less random than it appears, which means some people in the lottery may actually have a lower chance of being selected than others.Read Replies (0)