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David Patterson Says It's Time for New Computer Architectures and Software Languages
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 09:43 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Tekla S. Perry, writing for IEEE Spectrum: David Patterson -- University of California professor, Google engineer, and RISC pioneer -- says there's no better time than now to be a computer architect. That's because Moore's Law really is over, he says : "We are now a factor of 15 behind where we should be if Moore's Law were still operative. We are in the post -- Moore's Law era." This means, Patterson told engineers attending the 2018 @Scale Conference held in San Jose last week, that "we're at the end of the performance scaling that we are used to. When performance doubled every 18 months, people would throw out their desktop computers that were working fine because a friend's new computer was so much faster." But last year, he said, "single program performance only grew 3 percent, so it's doubling every 20 years. If you are just sitting there waiting for chips to get faster, you are going to have to wait a long time."

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Giant Spiderweb Cloaks Land in Aitoliko, Greece
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 09:43 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's meanwhile-in-Greece department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Warmer weather conditions in western Greece have led to the eerie spectacle of a 300m-long spiderweb in Aitoliko. A vast area of greenery has been covered by the web, reports the Daily Hellas. Experts say it is a seasonal phenomenon, caused by Tetragnatha spiders, which can build large nests for mating. An increase in the mosquito population is also thought to have contributed to the rise in the number of spiders. Maria Chatzaki, professor of molecular biology and genetics at Democritus University of Thrace, Greece said high temperatures, sufficient humidity and food created the ideal conditions for the species to reproduce in large numbers. She told Newsit.gr: "It's as if the spiders are taking advantage of these conditions and are having a kind of a party. They mate, they reproduce and provide a whole new generation. "These spiders are not dangerous for humans and will not cause any damage to the area's flora. The spiders will have their party and will soon die."

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EU Justice Commissioner Quits Facebook, Describing Her Experience as 'Channel of Dirt'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 08:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's bottom-line department:
The European Commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality shut down her Facebook account, describing her experience on the social network as a "channel of dirt." From a report: At a news conference Thursday in Brussels, Vera Jourova said that she received an "influx of hatred" on the popular platform and decided to cancel her account as a result. "I don't want to avoid communication with people, even with critical people," she said, noting her decision to leave Facebook was not to avoid public criticism. Her mailbox is filled with critical comments, she said, and she responds to those people who don't use vulgar language. "This is my nature, I speak to everybody who wants normal, honest, descent communication." Euractiv earlier reported on Jourova's remarks. At the same news conference, Jourova warned Facebook that it faces the prospect of sanctions from European member states if the company does not comply with consumer protection rules.

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'It Just Seems That Nobody is Interested in Building Quality, Fast, Efficient, Lasting, Foundational Stuff Anymore'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 08:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's ayes-have-it department:
Nikita Prokopov, a software programmer and author of Fira Code, a popular programming font, AnyBar, a universal status indicator, and some open-source Clojure libraries, writes: Remember times when an OS, apps and all your data fit on a floppy? Your desktop todo app is probably written in Electron and thus has userland driver for Xbox 360 controller in it, can render 3d graphics and play audio and take photos with your web camera. A simple text chat is notorious for its load speed and memory consumption. Yes, you really have to count Slack in as a resource-heavy application. I mean, chatroom and barebones text editor, those are supposed to be two of the less demanding apps in the whole world. Welcome to 2018. At least it works, you might say. Well, bigger doesn't imply better. Bigger means someone has lost control. Bigger means we don't know what's going on. Bigger means complexity tax, performance tax, reliability tax. This is not the norm and should not become the norm. Overweight apps should mean a red flag. They should mean run away scared. 16Gb Android phone was perfectly fine 3 years ago. Today with Android 8.1 it's barely usable because each app has become at least twice as big for no apparent reason. There are no additional functions. They are not faster or more optimized. They don't look different. They just...grow? iPhone 4s was released with iOS 5, but can barely run iOS 9. And it's not because iOS 9 is that much superior -- it's basically the same. But their new hardware is faster, so they made software slower. Don't worry -- you got exciting new capabilities like...running the same apps with the same speed! I dunno. [...] Nobody understands anything at this point. Neither they want to. We just throw barely baked shit out there, hope for the best and call it "startup wisdom." Web pages ask you to refresh if anything goes wrong. Who has time to figure out what happened? Any web app produces a constant stream of "random" JS errors in the wild, even on compatible browsers. [...] It just seems that nobody is interested in building quality, fast, efficient, lasting, foundational stuff anymore. Even when efficient solutions have been known for ages, we still struggle with the same problems: package management, build systems, compilers, language design, IDEs. Build systems are inherently unreliable and periodically require full clean, even though all info for invalidation is there. Nothing stops us from making build process reliable, predictable and 100% reproducible. Just nobody thinks its important. NPM has stayed in "sometimes works" state for years.

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Apple's New Strategy: Sell Pricier iPhones First
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 07:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's show-me-the-money department:
The staggered release gives the company a month to sell higher-end models without cheaper competition from itself. WSJ: This year, according to people familiar with Apple's production plans, the company prioritized production of its two pricier OLED models, the iPhone XS and XS Max, whose prices start at about $1,000. Both will hit stores Friday, followed five weeks later by the least expensive new model, the XR, which has an LCD screen and a starting price of $749. The staggered release gives Apple a month to sell the higher-end models without cheaper competition from itself. It also simplifies logistics and retail demands and could strengthen Apple's ability to forecast sales and production of all three models through the Christmas holidays, analysts and supply chain experts said. "It's sort of a Dutch auction," said Josh Lowitz, co-founder of research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, referring to the practice of starting with a high asking price, then lowering it until a buyer accepts. "The people who are most committed will pay to get early access. Then you get to the people who are making a choice and may settle for the $750 phone. This could become the new normal."

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Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt Predicts the Internet Will Split in Two By 2028 -- and One Part Will Be Led By China
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 07:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Speaking at a private event in San Francisco this week, Eric Schmidt said he believes within the next decade there will be two distinct internets: one led by the U.S. and the other by China. At the event, economist Tyler Cowen asked, "What are the chances that the internet fragments over the years?" To which former Google CEO said: I think the most likely scenario now is not a splintering, but rather a bifurcation into a Chinese-led internet and a non-Chinese internet led by America. If you look at China, and I was just there, the scale of the companies that are being built, the services being built, the wealth that is being created is phenomenal. Chinese Internet is a greater percentage of the GDP of China, which is a big number, than the same percentage of the US, which is also a big number. If you think of China as like 'Oh yeah, they're good with the Internet,' you're missing the point. Globalization means that they get to play too. I think you're going to see fantastic leadership in products and services from China. There's a real danger that along with those products and services comes a different leadership regime from government, with censorship, controls, etc. Look at the way BRI works -- their Belt and Road Initiative, which involves 60-ish countries -- it's perfectly possible those countries will begin to take on the infrastructure that China has with some loss of freedom.

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Microplastics Can Spread Via Flying Insects, Research Shows
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 05:40 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fish-out-of-water department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Microplastic can escape from polluted waters via flying insects, new research has revealed, contaminating new environments and threatening birds and other creatures that eat the insects. Scientists fed microplastics to mosquito larvae, which live in water, but found that the particles remained inside the animals as they transformed into flying adults. Other recent research found that half of the mayfly and caddisfly larvae in rivers in Wales contained microplastics. The new study, published in the journal Biology Letters, used Culex pipiens mosquitoes, as they are found across the world in many habitats. The researchers found the larvae readily consumed fluorescent microplastic particles that were 0.0002cm in size. The larvae matured into a non-feeding pupa stage and then emerged as adult mosquitoes, which still had significant microplastic within them. The researchers are now studying if this damages the mosquitoes. Professor Amanda Callaghan, at the University of Reading, UK, says it is "highly likely" that other flying insects that begin as water larvae will also eat and retain microplastics. Furthermore, animals that feed on insects, like birds, bats, and spiders, are likely also consuming microplastics.

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First Hydrogen-Powered Train Hits the Tracks In Germany
Posted by News Fetcher on September 21 '18 at 12:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new department:
"French train-building company Alstom built two hydrogen-powered trains and delivered them to Germany last weekend, where they'll zoom along a 62-mile stretch of track that runs from the northern cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervorde, and Buxtehude," reports Ars Technica. "The new trains replace their diesel-powered counterparts and are the first of their kind, but they are likely not the last. Alstom is contracted to deliver 14 more hydrogen-powered trains, called Coradia iLint trains, before 2021." From the report: The trains are an initial step toward lowering Germany's transportation-related emissions, a sector that has been intractable for policy makers in the country. But hydrogen fuel faces some chicken-and-egg-type problems. Namely, hydrogen is difficult to store, and making it a truly zero-emissions source of fuel requires renewable electricity to perform water electrolysis. The more common option for creating hydrogen fuel involves natural gas reforming, which is not a carbon-neutral process.

The advantages of hydrogen fuel cells are that -- unlike battery-powered vehicles -- refueling a hydrogen-powered vehicle is just as fast as a vehicle powered by fossil fuels. No sitting around and charging overnight is required. Trains tend not to be battery-powered when they're electric, however, because they're so heavy. Electric train systems tend to use catenary systems, with electrified cables providing electricity to the train. But over long distances, setting up an external electricity source can be expensive. Both trains have a reported range of 1,000km (621 miles) and can reach top speeds of 140km/h (87mph). Cost is unknown, although Alstom's press release says that Lower Saxony, the German state where the trains will run, supported the purchase of the 14 additional trains with $94.5 million.

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Facebook Will Open a 'War Room' Next Week To Monitor Election Interference
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '18 at 08:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's information-fiduciaries department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Sheera Frankel and Mike Isaac [write from The New York Times]: "Sandwiched between Building 20 and Building 21 in the heart of Facebook's campus, an approximately 25-foot by 35-foot conference room is under construction. Thick cords of blue wiring hang from the ceiling, ready to be attached to window-size computer monitors on 16 desks. On one wall, a half dozen televisions will be tuned to CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and other major cable networks. A small paper sign with orange lettering taped to the glass door describes what's being built: "War Room."

Set to open next week, the conference room is in keeping with Facebook's nick-of-time approach to midterm election preparedness. (It introduced a "pilot program" for candidate account security on Monday.) It's a big project. Samidh Chakrabarti, who oversees elections and civic engagement, told the Times: "We see this as probably the biggest companywide reorientation since our shift from desktops to mobile phones." Of course, the effort extends beyond the new conference room. Chakrabarti showed the Times a new internal tool "that helps track information flowing across the social network in real time," helping to identify misinformation as it goes viral or a surge in the creation of new (and likely fake) accounts.

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Tesla Model 3 Earns Five-Star Crash Safety Rating From NHTSA
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '18 at 06:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pat-on-the-back department:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has awarded the Tesla Model 3 with a five-star safety rating -- the highest possible score. This means that every car Tesla has built has earned a five-star rating. Jalopnik reports: The NHTSA tests cover three primary categories: Frontal Crash, Side Crash, and Rollover, and the Model 3 received the highest ratings in all categories. For some categories, it's easy to understand why Teslas do so well. Rollover resistance, for example, makes sense for cars that carry most of their weight at the very bottom, in the batteries sandwiched in the Tesla's chassis design. Other reasons for the remarkable crash safety may be that, without the need for a heavy chunk of metal as a drivetrain, effective and large crumple zones can be designed in, front and rear. The NHTSA has released videos of their frontal collision test, side pole collision test, and side collision test, for those who like watching these sort of things.

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China Blocks Twitch
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '18 at 06:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it-was-fun-while-it-lasted department:
After becoming the third most popular free app on China's App Store, Twitch is now no longer accessible and the Twitch app has been removed from the country's App Store. Engadget reports: While Twitch was available in China previously, it never gained much traction since its service is much slower than it is elsewhere. But when the country's CCTV state broadcaster chose not to air the Asian Games, those wanting to watch the event's eSports competitions sought coverage from other outlets. Now, with Twitch seemingly blocked in the country, it follows in the footsteps of other banned sites, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Abacus first reported the news.

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Apple Will Judge Call, Email Activity To Assign Users a 'Trust Score'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '18 at 06:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sounds-like-an-episode-of-Black-Mirror department:
Apple recently updated its iTunes privacy policy page, making mention of a "trust score" it gives iPhone users on how they make calls or send emails. The INQUIRER reports: "To help identify and prevent fraud, information about how you use your device, including the approximate number of phone calls or emails you send and receive, will be used to compute a device trust score when you attempt a purchase," Apple explained. "The submissions are designed so Apple cannot learn the real values on your device. The scores are stored for a fixed time on our servers."

In practical terms, the Cupertino crew will only look at Apple account usage patterns and hoover up metadata rather than more personal, and potentially damning information. [T]he data collection and trust score assigning should help Apple better spot and dodgy activity going on in Apple accounts that aren't in keeping with those of the legitimate users. [I]t's not entirely clear how Apple will use the metadata to actually spot fraud, as it hasn't explained its workings.

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Walmart Is Putting 17,000 Oculus Go Headsets In Its Stores To Help Train Employees In VR
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '18 at 05:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's workplace-training department:
Walmart is reportedly planning to send Oculus Go headsets to each of its nearly 5,000 stores so that more of its employees can get instruction more often. TechCrunch reports: The big box giant will begin sending four headsets to each Walmart supercenter and two headsets to each Neighborhood Market in the country. That may not necessarily seem like a ton to train a store full of employees, but at Walmart's scale that amounts to about 17,000 headsets being shipped by year's end. The move is the evolution of an announcement that the company made last year that it was working with STRIVR Labs to bring virtual reality training to its 200 "Walmart Academy" training centers. Those training sessions were done on PC-tethered Oculus Rifts, the move to Oculus Go headsets really showcases how much more simple standalone headset hardware is to set up and operate.

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What Ecstasy Does To Octopuses
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '18 at 04:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's social-behavior department:
Gul Dolen, a neuroscientist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine who studies how the cells and chemicals in animal brains influence animals' social lives, gave ecstasy to octopuses and recorded her observations. The study, published in the journal Current Biology, suggests that the psychoactive drug that can make people feel extra loving toward others also has the same effect on octopuses. An anonymous reader shares the report from The Atlantic: [Dolen] and her colleague Eric Edsinger put five Californian two-spot octopuses individually into the middle of three connected chambers and gave them free rein to explore. One of the adjacent chambers housed a second octopus, confined inside an overturned plastic basket. The other contained an unfamiliar object, such as a plastic flower or a Chewbacca figurine. Dolen and Edsinger measured how long the main animal spent in the company of its peer, and how long with the random toy. The free-moving individuals thoroughly explored the chambers, and from their movements, Dolen realized that individuals of any sex gravitate toward females, but avoid males. Next, she dosed the animals with ecstasy. Again, there's no precedent for this, but researchers often anesthetize octopuses by dunking them in ethanol -- a humane procedure with no lasting side effects. So Dolen and Edsinger submerged their octopuses in an MDMA solution, allowing them to absorb the drug through their gills. At first they used too high a dose, and the animals "freaked out and did all these color changes," Dolen says. But once the team found a more suitable dose, the animals behaved more calmly -- and more sociably. "With ecstasy in their system, the five octopuses spent far more time in the company of the same trapped male they once shunned," the report continues. "Even without a stopwatch, the change was obvious. Before the drug, they explored the chamber with the other octopus very tentatively." "They mashed themselves against one wall, very slowly extended one arm, touched the [other animal], and went back to the other side," Dolen says. "But when they had MDMA, they had this very relaxed posture. They floated around, they wrapped their arms around the chamber, and they interacted with the other octopus in a much more fluid and generous way. They even exposed their [underside], where their mouth is, which is not something octopuses usually do."

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Crippling DDoS Vulnerability Put the Entire Bitcoin Market At Risk
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '18 at 04:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's impending-doom department:
A major flaw was spotted in the Bitcoin network that could have allowed miners to bring down the entire blockchain by flooding full node operators with traffic, via a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack. "A denial-of-service vulnerability (CVE-2018-17144) exploitable by miners has been discovered in Bitcoin Core versions 0.14.0 up to 0.16.2." the patch notes state. "It is recommended to upgrade any of the vulnerable versions to 0.16.3 as soon as possible." The Next Web reports: Developers have issued a patch for anyone running nodes, along with an appeal to update the software immediately. As far as the attack vector in question goes, there's a catch: anyone ballsy enough to try to bring down Bitcoin would have to sacrifice almost $80,000 worth of Bitcoin in order do it. The bug relates to its consensus code. It meant that some miners had the option to send transaction data twice, causing the Bitcoin network to crash when attempting to validate them. As such invalid blocks need to be mined anyway, only those willing to disregard block reward of 12.5BTC ($80,000) could actually do any real damage.

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Xiaomi Admits To Putting Ads In the Settings Menu of Its Phones
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '18 at 02:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's caught-red-handed department:
Xiaomi, the world's fourth largest smartphone maker, was caught by a Reddit user for placing ads in the settings menu of its smartphones. The ads reportedly show up in Xiaomi's MIUI apps, including the music app and settings menu (MIUI is the name of Xiaomi's skinned version of Android). The Verge reports: When The Verge reached out to Xiaomi for confirmation on this matter, the company responded with the following statement, while also clarifying that it only applies to its devices running MIUI and not its Android One phones: "Advertising has been and will continue to be an integral part of Xiaomi's Internet services, a key component of the company's business model. At the same time, we will uphold user experience by offering options to turn off the ads and by constantly improving our approach towards advertising, including adjusting where and when ads appear. Our philosophy is that ads should be unobtrusive, and users always have the option of receiving fewer recommendations."

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Amazon Plants Fake Packages In Delivery Trucks As Part of Undercover Ploy To 'Trap' Drivers Stealing
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '18 at 02:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's quality-assurance department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Business Insider: Amazon uses fake packages to catch delivery drivers who are stealing, according to sources with knowledge of the practice. The company plants the packages -- internally referred to as "dummy" packages -- in the trucks of drivers at random. The dummy packages have fake labels and are often empty.

Here's how the practice works, according to the sources: During deliveries, drivers scan the labels of every package they deliver. When they scan a fake label on a dummy package, an error message will pop up. When this happens, drivers might call their supervisors to address the problem, or keep the package in their truck and return it to an Amazon warehouse at the end of their shift. Drivers, in theory, could also choose to steal the package. The error message means the package isn't detected in Amazon's system. As a result, it could go unnoticed if the package were to go missing. "If you bring the package back, you are innocent. If you don't, you're a thug," said Sid Shah, a former manager for DeliverOL, a courier company that delivers packages for Amazon.

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In a World of Robots, Carmakers Persist in Hiring More Humans
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '18 at 02:52 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's some-positive-outlook department:
It looks like car-industry employees who are concerned about robots taking their jobs don't need to worry -- for now, at least. Of the 13 publicly traded automakers with at least 100,000 workers at the end of their most-recent fiscal year, 11 had more staff compared with year-end 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Combined, they had 3.1 million employees, or 11 percent more than four years earlier, the data show. From the report: Carmakers in China and other emerging markets, where growth is strongest, favor human labor because it requires less upfront investment, said Steve Man, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence in Hong Kong. In developed markets, tasks that can be handled by robots were automated years ago and automakers are now boosting hiring in research and development as the industry evolves. "There's been a lot of growth in emerging markets, especially China, so that's one reason automakers are adding staff," Man said. "More staff is being added on the R&D side, with the push for autonomous, electric, connected vehicles." A trio of Chinese automakers, SAIC Motor, Dongfeng Motor Group and BYD -- in which Warren Buffett is a major investor -- increased staff by at least 24 percent. Volkswagen accounted for more than one in five jobs among the group of 13, and increased its employee count by 12 percent in the period. Things, however, look differently at General Motors, which shrank its payroll 18 percent to 180,000, and Nissan Motor, which contracted by 2.8 percent to 139,000 workers, the report added.

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Radio Astronomers Are Increasingly Using Convolutional Neural Networks To Sift Through Massive Amounts of Data
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '18 at 01:32 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's massive-undertake department:
Radio astronomers have so far cataloged fewer than 300 fast radio bursts, mysterious broadband radio signals that originate from well beyond the Milky Way. Almost a third of them -- 72, to be precise -- were not detected by astronomers at all but instead were recently discovered by an artificial intelligence (AI) program trained to spot their telltale signals, even hidden underneath noisy background data. The very first recorded fast radio burst, or FRB, was spotted by radio astronomers in 2007, nestled in data from 2001, reads a report on IEEE Spectrum. Today, algorithms spot FRBs by sifting through massive amounts of data as it comes in. However, today's best algorithms still can't detect every FRB that reaches Earth. That's why AI developed by Breakthrough Listen, a SETI project headed by the University of California, Berkeley, which has already found dozens of new bursts in its trial run, will be a big help in future searches. The report adds: There are a few theories about what FRBs (fast radio bursts) might be. The prevailing theory is that they're created by rapidly rotating neutron stars. In other theories, they emanate from supermassive black holes. Even more out-there theories describe how they're produced when neutron stars collide with stars composed of hypothetical dark matter particles called axions. The bursts are probably not sent by aliens, but that theory has its supporters, too. What we do know is that FRBs come from deep space and each burst lasts for only a few milliseconds. Traditionally, algorithms tease them out of the data by identifying the quadratic signals associated with FRBs. But these signals are coming from far-flung galaxies. "Because these pulses travel so far, there are plenty of complications en route," says Zhang. Pulses can be distorted and warped along the way. And even when one reaches Earth, our own noisy planet can obfuscate a pulse. That's why it makes sense to train an AI -- specifically, a convolutional neural network -- to poke through the data and find the ones that traditional algorithms missed. "In radio astronomy," says Zhang, "at least nowadays, it's characterized by big data." Case in point: The 72 FRBs identified by the Berkeley team's AI were found in 8 terabytes of data gathered by the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. To even give the AI enough information to learn how to spot those signals in the first place, Zhang says the team generated about 100,000 fake FRB pulses. The simple quadratic structure of FRBs makes it fairly easy to construct fake pulses for training, according to Zhang. Then, they disguised these signals among the Green Bank Telescope data. As the team explains in their paper [PDF], accepted by The Astrophysical Journal with a preprint available on arXiv, it took 20 hours to train the AI with those fake pulses using a Nvidia Titan Xp GPU. By the end, the AI could detect 88 percent of the fake test signals. Furthermore, 98 percent of the identifications that the AI made were actually planted signals, as opposed to the machine mistakenly identifying background noise as an FRB pulse.

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Titans of Mathematics Clash Over Epic Proof of ABC Conjecture
Posted by News Fetcher on September 20 '18 at 01:32 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Two mathematicians have found what they say is a hole at the heart of a proof that has convulsed the mathematics community for nearly six years. Quanta Magazine: In a report [PDF] posted online Thursday, Peter Scholze of the University of Bonn and Jakob Stix of Goethe University Frankfurt describe what Stix calls a "serious, unfixable gap" within a mammoth series of papers by Shinichi Mochizuki, a mathematician at Kyoto University who is renowned for his brilliance. Posted online in 2012, Mochizuki's papers supposedly prove the abc conjecture, one of the most far-reaching problems in number theory. Despite multiple conferences dedicated to explicating Mochizuki's proof, number theorists have struggled to come to grips with its underlying ideas. His series of papers, which total more than 500 pages, are written in an impenetrable style, and refer back to a further 500 pages or so of previous work by Mochizuki, creating what one mathematician, Brian Conrad of Stanford University, has called "a sense of infinite regress." Between 12 and 18 mathematicians who have studied the proof in depth believe it is correct, wrote Ivan Fesenko of the University of Nottingham in an email. But only mathematicians in "Mochizuki's orbit" have vouched for the proof's correctness, Conrad commented in a blog discussion last December. "There is nobody else out there who has been willing to say even off the record that they are confident the proof is complete." Nevertheless, wrote Frank Calegari of the University of Chicago in a December blog post, "mathematicians are very loath to claim that there is a problem with Mochizuki's argument because they can't point to any definitive error." That has now changed. In their report, Scholze and Stix argue that a line of reasoning near the end of the proof of "Corollary 3.12" in Mochizuki's third of four papers is fundamentally flawed. The corollary is central to Mochizuki's proposed abc proof. "I think the abc conjecture is still open," Scholze said. "Anybody has a chance of proving it."

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