By msmash from Slashdot's what-happens-next? department
An anonymous reader shares a report: For a long time, China has been a dumping ground for the world's problematic plastics. In the 1990s, Chinese markets saw that discarded plastic could be profitably recreated into exportable bits and bobs -- and it was less expensive for international cities to send their waste to China than to deal with it themselves. China got cheap plastic and the exporting countries go rid of their trash. But in November 2017, China said enough. The country closed its doors to contaminated plastic, leaving the exports to be absorbed by neighboring countries like Vietnam, South Korea, and Thailand. And without the infrastructure to absorb all the waste that China is rejecting, the plastics are piling up. Between now and 2030, 111 million metric tons of trash -- straws, bags, water bottles -- will have nowhere to go, according to a paper published in Science Advances on Wednesday. That's as if every human on Earth contributed a quarter of their body mass in mostly single-use plastic polymers to a massive, abandoned pile of garbage.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
The Oxford English Dictionary is asking the public to help it mine the regional differences of English around the world to expand its record of the language, with early submissions ranging from New Zealand's "munted" to Hawaii's "hammajang." From a report: Last year, a collaboration between the OED, the BBC and the Forward Arts Foundation to find and define local English words resulted in more than 100 new regional words and phrases being added to the dictionary, from Yorkshire's "ee bah gum" to the north east's "cuddy wifter," a left-handed person. Now, the OED is widening its search to English speakers around the world, with associate editor Eleanor Maier calling the early response "phenomenal," as editors begin to draft a range of suggestions for inclusion in the dictionary. These range from Hawaii's "hammajang," meaning "in a disorderly or shambolic state," to the Scottish word for a swimming costume, "dookers" or "duckers," and New Zealand's "munted," meaning "broken or wrecked." The OED is also looking to include the word "chopsy," a Welsh term for an overly talkative person; "frog-drowner," which Americans might use to describe a torrential downpour of rain; "brick", which means "very cold" to residents of New Jersey and New York City; and "round the Wrekin", meaning "in a lengthy or roundabout manner" in the Midlands. The dictionary has already found that, depending on location, a picture hanging askew might be described as "agley," "catawampous," "antigodlin" or "ahoo" by an English speaker, while a loved one could be called a "doy," "pet," "dou-dou," "bubele," "alanna" or "babber."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Joshua Rapp Learn, reporting for National Geographic: Critically endangered eels hyped up on cocaine could have trouble making a 3,700-mile trip to mate and reproduce -- new research warns. And while societies have long grappled with ways to cope with the use of illicit drugs, less understood are the downstream effects these drugs might have on other species after they enter the aquatic environment through wastewater. So, in the name of research, scientists pushed cocaine on European eels in labs for 50 days in a row, in an effort to monitor the effects of the experience on the fish. European eels have complex life patterns, spending 15 to 20 years in fresh or brackish water in European waterways before crossing the Atlantic Ocean to spawn in the Sargasso Sea just east of the Caribbean and the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. While the eels are also farmed for food, the wild population is considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to dams and other waterway changes that block their migrations, overfishing, and different types of water pollution. The eels are vulnerable to trace concentrations of cocaine, particularly in their early lives, according to the researchers of a study published in Science of the Total Environment.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's further-exploration department
Lindsay, a compact rectangle amid the lakes northeast of Toronto, is at the heart of one of the world's biggest tests of a guaranteed basic income. Technology Review: In a three-year pilot funded by the provincial government, about 4,000 people in Ontario are getting monthly stipends to boost them to at least 75 percent of the poverty line. That translates to a minimum annual income of $17,000 in Canadian dollars (about $13,000 US) for single people, $24,000 for married couples. Lindsay has about half the people in the pilot -- some 10 percent of the town's population. The report outlines that the Canadian province's vision for a basic income -- and the underlying experiment -- differs from that of the one we have seen in Silicon Valley. The report continues: The Canadians are testing it as an efficient antipoverty mechanism, a way to give a relatively small segment of the population more flexibility to find work and to strengthen other strands of the safety net. That's not what Silicon Valley seems to imagine, which is a universal basic income that placates broad swaths of the population. The most obvious problem with that idea? Math. Many economists concluded long ago that it would be too expensive, especially when compared with the cost of programs to create new jobs and train people for them. That's why the idea didn't take off after tests in the 1960s and '70s. It's largely why Finland recently abandoned a basic-income plan after a small test.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-is-money department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: The ride-hailing company has started testing a feature that gives riders the option to trade a shorter wait for a cheaper fare. "Prices are lower at 17:00," Uber recently advised an Uber employee who requested a ride in Berkeley, California, and tweeted a screenshot of the feature. The image showed the Uber employee that he could request a ride "now" (4:56pm local time) for $10.18, or wait until 5pm and pay $8.15, about 25% less. "If you're OK leaving later, we'll request your ride at 17:00 for a lower price," Uber's app stated.
The option to wait longer in exchange for a cheaper ride is being tested among all Uber employees in San Francisco and Los Angeles, a company spokeswoman told Quartz in an email. "Affordability is a top reason riders choose shared rides, and we're internally experimenting with a way to save money in exchange for a later pickup," she said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's synthetic-biology department
A major U.S. government report warns that advances in synthetic biology now allow scientists to have the capability to recreate dangerous viruses from scratch; make harmful bacteria more deadly; and modify common microbes so that they churn out lethal toxins once they enter the body. The Guardian reports: In the report, the scientists describe how synthetic biology, which gives researchers precision tools to manipulate living organisms, "enhances and expands" opportunities to create bioweapons. "As the power of the technology increases, that brings a general need to scrutinize where harms could come from," said Peter Carr, a senior scientist at MIT's Synthetic Biology Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The report calls on the U.S. government to rethink how it conducts disease surveillance, so it can better detect novel bioweapons, and to look at ways to bolster defenses, for example by finding ways to make and deploy vaccines far more rapidly. For every bioweapon the scientists consider, the report sets out key hurdles that, once cleared, will make the weapons more feasible. The Guardian references a case 20 years ago where geneticist Eckard Wimmer recreated the poliovirus in a test tube. Earlier this year, a team at the University of Alberta built an infectious horse pox virus. "The virus is a close relative of smallpox, which may have claimed half a billion lives in the 20th century," reports The Guardian. "Today, the genetic code of almost any mammalian virus can be found online and synthesized."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's piece-of-work department
An anonymous reader writes: "A hacker once considered 'the Internet's most inept criminal' received on Monday a prison sentence of 20 months in prison for launching DDoS attacks against the city of Madison, Wisconsin -- attacks which caused delays and outages to various municipality services, including its 911 emergency call center," reports Bleeping Computer. He was sentenced for this attack in particular, part of a plea deal, but his attacks span over two years. The hacker, Randall Charles Tucker, 23, known as Bitcoin Baron, never bothered hiding his attacks, advertised them on Twitter, and used public chats and Skype to brag about his deeds. According to a timeline of events, Tucker carried out all of these hacks -- most of which were downright silly -- as a way to boost his reputation before going to jail for stabbing his father with a prison knife. The plan backfired when authorities linked him to the hacks and received another 20 months in prison on top of the original 18 months.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cheaper-by-the-dozen department
A few days ago, Elon Musk announced a "new general assembly line" made with "minimal resources." As Ars Technica reports, this new tented facility "is seemingly the first phase of an entirely new building, dubbed 'Factory 2.0.'" From the report: The tent is easily visible from the nearby Warm Springs BART station platform. When Ars visited on Monday afternoon, there appeared to be cranes and forklifts moving around the site. We could not easily see inside the long white temporary structure, but there did not appear to be any newly completed vehicles rolling off the lines in the adjacent parking lot. Still, one automotive expert that Ars spoke with said that a new temporary manufacturing facility on the same site as conventional automotive factories was unprecedented in the industry. Dave Sullivan, an analyst with Auto Pacific, told Ars that he wondered what was wrong with Tesla's existing facilities, if Musk decided the company needed more capacity. "It's almost a sign of desperation," he said. "It's a sprint to be profitable in the third quarter." Ars notes that "each tent is 53-feet-high by 150-feet-long -- there seem to be several connected in a long line, mounted with aluminum framing." In a tweet, Musk said: "It's actually way better than the factory building. More comfortable & a great view of the mountains."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's planning-for-the-future department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Portland, Oregon officials claim its city has some of the best bike data in the United States -- data revealing how many people ride bicycles, where they're going and what streets they're using. Their collection of that data, however, has been as low-tech as it gets: city staffers and volunteers stand out on street corners for two hours at a time and count. Now, the city is aiming for more comprehensive, accurate data collection with the installation of 200 sensors installed on street lights on three of Portland's deadliest streets: Southeast Division St., SE Hawthorne Blvd. and 122nd St.
The Traffic Sensor Safety Project, for a price tag of just over $1 million, represents the first major milestone for the Smart City PDX initiative. It relies on GE's Current CityIQ sensors, which are powered with Intel IoT technology and use AT&T as the data carrier. GE, Intel and AT&T have already worked together to deploy smart streetlight sensors in San Diego.Read Replies (0)