By EditorDavid from Slashdot's explosive-charges department
Pursuing a renewable energy strategy, Arizona's largest electric company "installed massive batteries near neighborhoods with a large number of solar panels, hoping to capture some of the energy from the afternoon sun to use after dark," reports the Associated Press.
Slashdot reader pgmrdlm shares their report on what happened next:
But an April fire and explosion at a massive battery west of Phoenix that sent eight firefighters and a police officer to the hospital highlighted the challenges and risks that can arise as utilities prepare for the exponential growth of the technology. With an investigation ongoing and no public word on the fire's cause, the incident is being closely watched by energy storage researchers and advocates... "Absent battery storage, the whole value proposition of intermittent renewable energy makes no sense at all," said Donald Sadoway, a battery researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-founder of battery storage company Ambri...
Nearly all of the utility-scale batteries now on the grid or in development are massive versions of the same lithium ion technology that powers cellphones and laptops... Arizona Public Service (APS) has assembled a team of engineers, safety experts and first responders to work with the utility, battery-maker Fluence and others to carefully remove and inspect the 378 modules that comprise the McMicken battery system and figure out what happened....
The APS fire was the third involving a utility-scale battery. One was at an APS-owned battery in Flagstaff in 2012, and the other was in Hawaii. APS has shut down its two similar batteries while awaiting the investigation's results, but the utility is not slowing down its plans to deploy new massive batteries, said Alan Bunnell, a company spokesman. "We believe energy storage is vital to a clean energy future here in Arizona," Bunnell said.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's blogging-rebuttals department
Thursday the Wall Street Journal wrote a piece about AMD's joint venture with Chinese holding coming THATIC -- titled "How a Big U.S. Chip Maker Gave China the 'Keys to the Kingdom'." The article argues that AMD "essentially granted China access to advanced processor IP that could be used to threaten U.S. national security," reports Forbes.
But they add that the same day, AMD executive Harry Wolin wrote an angry blog post in response, complaining that the story "contains several factual errors and omissions and does not portray an accurate picture." Forbes reports:
From Wolin's post, "Starting in 2015, AMD diligently and proactively briefed the Department of Defense, the Department of Commerce and multiple other agencies within the U.S. Government before entering into the joint ventures. AMD received no objections whatsoever from any agency to the formation of the joint ventures or to the transfer of technology -- technology which was of lower performance than other commercially available processors. In fact, prior to the formation of the joint ventures and the transfer of technology, the Department of Commerce notified AMD that the technology proposed was not restricted or otherwise prohibited from being transferred. Given this clear feedback, AMD moved ahead with the joint ventures."
Not only does AMD claim it had the green light from multiple government entities to enter into the deal, the post claims that the WSJ article is simply wrong. "The Wall Street Journal story omits important factual details, including the fact that AMD put significant protections in place to protect its intellectual property (IP) and prevent valuable IP from being misused or reverse engineered to develop future generations of processors."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's high-scores-in-the-cloud department
harrymcc writes: Jay Adelson, the cofounder of Digg, has a new, deeply personal startup: Scorbit. It aims to connect existing pinball machines to the internet, giving them networked leaderboards, compatibility with smartphone apps, and other newfangled features. But Scorbit faces a major competitor in Stern, the pinball giant whose new Spike platform is attempting to introduce similar functionality. Over at Fast Company, Jared Newman reports on the dueling systems and the general pinball resurgence now underway.
The COO of a pinball parts supplier tells Fast Company that "People are just saturated with the internet. They don't want to look at screens anymore for entertainment, but they want to be entertained, so they want something physical. Pinball ticks all the boxes there."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's bitcoin-bears department
An anonymous reader quotes Bloomberg News:
Bitcoin soared as much as 39% this week to $13,852, the highest since January 2018. But it hit a brick wall around 4:30 p.m. New York time Wednesday, plunging more than $1,800 within about 10 minutes. Moments later, prominent cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Inc. reported a system outage, which was resolved after an hour. Swings continued Thursday, with the coin anywhere from down 7.3% to up 4.8%... Volatility in Bitcoin is near the highest levels since early 2018, when the bubble was bursting. Analysts said this was likely a sign of things to come.
It was just last Saturday that the price of bitcoin surged past $11,000 -- less than 24 hours after rising past $10,000. (Right now it's within $50 of $12,000.)
But another Bloomberg article notes that the price of Bitcoin tends to spike on weekends (when the traditional stock exchanges are closed), and that those spikes since just the beginning of May accounted for nearly 40% of Bitcoin's price gains in 2019. One pundit tells them it "takes a lot less to move the needle when everyone's sleeping or it's the weekend."
That rang true to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Mike McGlone. "It is more Asia and those more sophisticated traders picking time and paths of least resistance to profit," said McGlone. "I fully expect the leveraged money professional-types are utilizing all tools to spark moves and profit from."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's back-to-the-future department
Long-time Slashdot reader cshamis tipped us off to this story in HotHardware:
It is official, folks -- Retro Games is releasing a full-size retro reboot of the original Commodore 64, called TheC64, on December 5...
Of course, modern amenities abound for this reboot. TheC64 can connect to any modern TV via HDMI, to deliver "crisp 720p HD visuals" at 60Hz (USA) or 50Hz (Europe). It also comes with an updated joystick featuring 8 buttons, micro switches, and USB connectivity. It bears a passing resemblance to the original, but with additional bells and whistles. TheC64 will arrive with 64 games preinstalled, including titles such as California Games, Destroyer, Impossible Mission (1 and 2), Monty on the Run, Speedball 2, and many others... [P]layers will be able to add more games from a USB memory stick (not included).
The original Commodore 64 is widely considered the best-selling single-model PC of all time. Estimates have sales pegged at somewhere between 10-17 million units.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's please-trust-nobody department
In comments submitted to America's Federal Trade Commission, Microsoft says repairing its devices could jeopardize protections from the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) security chip.
"Don't believe them," argues a group of information security professionals who support the right to repair. Slashdot reader chicksdaddy quotes their report:
The statement was submitted ahead of Nixing the Fix, an FTC workshop on repair restrictions that is scheduled for mid-July... "The unauthorized repair and replacement of device components can result in the disabling of key hardware security features or can impede the update of firmware that is important to device security or system integrity," Microsoft wrote... "If the TPM or other hardware or software protections were compromised by a malicious or unqualified repair vendor, those security protections would be rendered ineffective and consumers' data and control of the device would be at risk. Moreover, a security breach of one device can potentially compromise the security of a platform or other devices connected to the network...."
As we know: Firms like Microsoft, Lexmark, LG, Samsung and others use arguments like this all the time and then not too subtly imply that their authorized repair professionals are more trustworthy and honest than independent competitors. But that's just hot air. They have no data to back up those assertions and there's no way that their repair technicians are more trustworthy than owners, themselves...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's beneficial-bacteria department
Long-time Slashdot reader tomhath shares some big bacteria news from Harvard Medical School:
Researchers from Joslin Diabetes Center determined Veillonella metabolizes lactic acid produced by exercise and converts it into propionate, a short chain fatty acid. The human body then utilizes that propionate to improve exercise capacity...
"It creates this positive feedback loop. The host is producing something that this particular microbe favors. Then in return, the microbe is creating something that benefits the host," Aleksandar D. Kostic Ph.D. says. "This is a really important example of how the microbiome has evolved ways to become this symbiotic presence in the human host."
By Friday, CNBC was reporting their research "could lead to a probiotic-like supplement that 'regular joes' could use to enhance their performance in a few years."
"The future of fitness is here and it's something that we're rapidly developing," Jonathan Scheiman, former Harvard postdoctoral fellow and CEO and co-founder of FitBiomics, tells CNBC Make It. "We want to translate this into consumer products to promote health and wellness [to the masses]..."
[The researchers] found the mice given Veillonella ran 13% longer on a treadmill compared to mice who were not given the bacteria. "It might not seem like a huge number, but I definitely think its biologically significant and certainly if you ask a marathon runner, if they could increase their running ability by 13% -- I think that they will be generally interested," Aleksandar Kostic, co-author of the study and an assistant professor of microbiology at the Joslin Diabetes Center tells CNBC Make It.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's maybe-not department
hackingbear tipped us off to a breaking news story.
US President Donald Trump has appeared to soften his tone on Chinese communications giant Huawei, suggesting that he would allow the company to once again purchase U.S. technology. Speaking at a press conference in Osaka, Saturday, Trump said that the U.S. sells a "tremendous amount of product" to Huawei. "That's okay, we will keep selling that product," said Trump. "The (U.S.) companies were not exactly happy that they couldn't sell."
Forbes points out "While it's not a lifting of the blanket ban, it will significantly benefit the Chinese manufacturer."
This news just broke with comments made by Trump, including "U.S. companies can sell their equipment to Huawei. We're talking about equipment where there's no great national security problem with it." The details of this statement are still pending, but it is likely that 5G infrastructure equipment may still not be part of this access deal while the smartphone segment may be where we see open access.
One Daily Beast contributor argues the action "appears to be a surrender to publicly issued Chinese demands."
But TechCrunch writes that "any mutual trust has been broken and things are unlikely to be the same again."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's programmer-paparazzi department
"Linux frontman Linus Torvalds thinks he's 'more self-aware' these days and is 'trying to be less forceful' after his brief absence from directing Linux kernel developers because of his abusive language on the Linux kernel mailing list," reports ZDNet.
"But true to his word, he's still not necessarily diplomatic in his communications with maintainers..."
Torvalds' post-hiatus outburst was directed at Dave Chinner, an Australian programmer who maintains the Silicon Graphics (SGI)-created XFS file system supported by many Linux distros. "Bullshit, Dave," Torvalds told Chinner on a mailing list. The comment from Chinner that triggered Torvalds' rebuke was that "the page cache is still far, far slower than direct IO" -- a problem Chinner thinks will become more apparent with the arrival of the newish storage-motherboard interface specification known as Peripheral Express Interconnect Express (PCIe) version 4.0. Chinner believes page cache might be necessary to support disk-based storage, but that it has a performance cost....
"You've made that claim before, and it's been complete bullshit before too, and I've called you out on it then too," wrote Torvalds. "Why do you continue to make this obviously garbage argument?" According to Torvalds, the page cache serves its correct purpose as a cache. "The key word in the 'page cache' name is 'cache'," wrote Torvalds.... "Caches work, Dave. Anybody who thinks caches don't work is incompetent. 99 percent of all filesystem accesses are cached, and they never do any IO at all, and the page cache handles them beautifully," Torvalds wrote.
"When you say the page cache is slower than direct IO, it's because you don't even see or care about the *fast* case. You only get involved once there is actual IO to be done."
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's criminal-charges department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the now-defunct biotech unicorn Theranos, will face trial in federal court next summer with penalties of up to 20 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines. Jury selection will begin July 28, 2020, according to U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila, who announced the trial will commence in August 2020 in a San Jose federal court Friday morning. Holmes and former Theranos president Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani were indicted by a grand jury last June with 11 criminal charges in total. Two of those charges were conspiracy to commit wire fraud (against investors, and against doctors and patients). The remaining nine are actual wire fraud, with amounts ranging from the cost of a lab test to $100 million. Bloomberg says Holmes' legal team plans to argue that The Wall Street Journal's John Carreyrou "had an undue influence on federal regulators," and "went beyond reporting the Theranos story."
"The jury should be aware that an outside actor, eager to break a story, and portray the story as a work of investigative journalism, was exerting influence on the regulatory process in a way that appears to have warped the agencies' focus on the company and possibly biased the agencies' findings against it," her attorneys wrote, per Bloomberg. "The agencies' interactions with Carreyrou thus go to the heart of the government's case."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's mold-and-bacteria department
Mold spores commonly found aboard the International Space Station (ISS) turn out to be radiation resistant enough to survive 200 times the X-ray dose needed to kill a human being. Based on experiments by a team of researchers led by Marta Cortesao, a microbiologist at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne, the new study indicates that sterilizing interplanetary spacecraft may be much more difficult than previously thought. New Atlas reports: The researchers exposed samples of Aspergillus and Pennicillium spores to X-rays, heavy ions, and high-frequency ultraviolet light of the kinds and intensities found in space. Such radiation damages DNA and breaks down cell structures, but the spores survived X-rays up to 1,000 gray, heavy ions at 500 gray, and UV rays up to 3,000 joules per meter squared. Gray is a measurement of radiation exposure based on the absorption of one joule of radiation energy per kilogram of matter. To place the results into perspective, five gray will kill a person and 0.7 gray is how much radiation the crew of a Mars mission would receive on a 180-day mission.
Since mold spores can already survive heat, cold, chemicals, and drying out, being able to take on radiation as well poses new challenges. It means that not only will manned missions have to put a lot of effort into keeping the ship clean and healthy, it also means that unmanned planetary missions, which must be free of terrestrial organisms to prevent contaminating other worlds, will be harder to sterilize. But according to Cortesao there is a positive side to this resiliency. Since fungal spores are hard to kill, they'd be easier to carry along and grow under controlled conditions in space, so they can be used as raw materials or act as biological factories.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lost-and-found department
A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Spain and the U.S. has announced that they have discovered a new property of light -- self-torque. Their findings have been published in the journal Science. Phys.Org reports: Scientists have long known about such properties of light as wavelength. More recently, researchers have found that light can also be twisted, a property called angular momentum. Beams with highly structured angular momentum are said to have orbital angular momentum (OAM), and are called vortex beams. They appear as a helix surrounding a common center, and when they strike a flat surface, they appear as doughnut-shaped. In this new effort, the researchers were working with OAM beams when they found the light behaving in a way that had never been seen before.
The experiments involved firing two lasers at a cloud of argon gasâ"doing so forced the beams to overlap, and they joined and were emitted as a single beam from the other side of the argon cloud. The result was a type of vortex beam. The researchers then wondered what would happen if the lasers had different orbital angular momentum and if they were slightly out of sync. This resulted in a beam that looked like a corkscrew with a gradually changing twist. And when the beam struck a flat surface, it looked like a crescent moon. The researchers noted that looked at another way, a single photon at the front of the beam was orbiting around its center more slowly than a photon at the back of the beam. The researchers promptly dubbed the new property self-torque -- and not only is it a newly discovered property of light, it is also one that has never even been predicted. Their technique may be used to modulate the orbital angular momentum of light in ways very similar to modulating frequencies in communications equipment, leading to the development of novel devices that make use of manipulating extremely tiny materials.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's search-and-destroy department
Iranian authorities have seized about 1,000 bitcoin mining machines in two abandoned factories, after warnings that the activity had led to a spike in consumption of government-subsidized electricity. Reuters reports: "Two of these bitcoin farms have been identified, with a consumption of one megawatt,"; Arash Navab, a power official in the central province of Yazd, told the television. The machines, which produce cryptocurrencies that are banned in Iran, were mostly to blame for a 7% increase in power consumption in the month to June 21, according to an Energy Ministry spokesman, quoted by the website of state-run Press TV. In 2018, Iran's central bank banned the country's banks from dealing in cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, over money-laundering concerns.Read Replies (0)