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VW Has Emissions-Cheating Fix Ready, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's coming-soon department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Portland Press Herald: Volkswagen plans to fix the engines that were rigged to cheat on emissions tests by updating computer software and installing a larger catalytic converter to trap harmful nitrogen oxide, according to two dealers who were briefed by executives on the matter. The dealers said that limited details of the plan were made public last week at a regional dealer meeting in Newark, New Jersey, by Volkswagen of America Chief Operating Officer Mark McNabb. Portland Press Herald reports: "One dealer said the group was told that early testing of a small sample of repaired cars showed that the fix made 'no discernible difference' in the cars' mileage, horsepower or torque. Both dealers said they were told that more testing was needed and that the plans still had to be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board. One of the dealers said the so-called 'Generation 1' diesels -- about 325,000 VW Jettas, Golfs, Passats and Beetles from the 2009 to 2014 model years – would get new software and bigger catalytic converters in January or February of next year. About 90,000 'Generation 2' Passats already have sufficient emissions systems and would get only a software update early next year. Another 67,000 'Generation 3' 2015 models would get software in October and would get additional hardware a year later, the dealer said. Dealers also were told that they'd be reimbursed by VW for sales losses due to the scandal, and that new vehicles are coming." Last month, Volkswagen agreed to a record $14.7 billion settlement over the emissions cheating.

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Issa Bill Would Kill A Big H-1B Loophole
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pending-legislation department:
ErichTheRed writes: This isn't perfect, but it is the first attempt I've seen at removing the "body shop" loophole in the H-1B visa system. A bill has been introduced in Congress that would raise the minimum wage for an H-1B holder from $60K to $100K, and place limits on the body shop companies that employ mostly H-1B holders in a pass-through arrangement. Whether it's enough to stop the direct replacement of workers, or whether it will just accelerate offshoring, remains to be seen. But, I think removing the most blatant and most abused loopholes in the rules is a good start. "The high-skilled visa program is critical to ensuring American companies can attract and retain the world's best talent," said Issa in a statement. "Unfortunately, in recent years, this important program has become abused and exploited as a loophole for companies to replace American workers with cheaper labor from overseas."

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Comcast To Offer Pay-As-You-Go TV, Broadband Service
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's convenient-way-to-spend-money department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from DSLReports: Comcast plans to roll-out prepaid cable TV and internet services later this year in portions of Illinois and four other states. According to a company announcement, Comcast's Xfinity Prepaid Services lets users sign up for TV or internet services and renew service for seven or 30 days at a time -- instead of paying by the month. A one-time setup fee of $80 includes equipment and 30 days of service, with users paying $15 for an additional seven days and $45 for an additional 30 days. "We want to create an easy, pay-as-you-go option for people who want more flexibility and predictability when buying our services," said Marcien Jenckes, Executive Vice President, Consumer Services, Comcast Cable. "And our partnership with Boost Mobile will give Xfinity Prepaid customers even more places where they can conveniently sign-up and pay-as-they-go."

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Edward Snowden At Comic-Con: 'I Live a Surprisingly Free Life'
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's personal-life department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Guardian: Director Oliver Stone talked to whistleblower Edward Snowden in front of an audience at a question and answer session on Thursday evening. He compared Snowden's anxiety over his own appearance in his Snowden biopic film "Snowden" to that of Donald Trump, who was cut from one of his films six years before. Snowden replied: "I'd like to avoid that association." At the event, Snowden did also shed some light on his personal life, years after his revelation of the NSA's secret surveillance of the American public's internet activity resulted in criminal charges under the Espionage Act that led to his exile in Russia. "I can confirm that I am not living in a box," Snowden said. "I actually live a surprisingly free life. This was not the most likely outcome. I didn't actually expect to make it out of Hawaii. I thought it was incredibly risky. I had a lot of advantages in doing what I did; I worked for the CIA on the human intelligence side, I worked for the NSA on the signals intelligence side, and I taught counterintelligence. This is not something that's covered that well in the media. I was about as well placed as anybody could be, and I still thought I was going to get rolled up at the airport and that there were going to be knocks on the doors of the journalists." When asked what he thought about Gordon-Levitt's performance in the film where he plays Edward Snowden, Snowden responded: "This is one of the things that's kind of crazy and surreal about this kind of experience: I don't think anybody looks forward to having a movie made about themselves, especially someone who is a privacy advocate. Some of my family members have said, 'He sounds just like you!' I can't hear it myself but if he can pass the family test he's doing all right." Snowden agreed to participate on the film because he thought it could raise awareness in ways his own advocacy could not. Snowden was also in the news recently for developing a way for potentially imperiled smartphone users to monitor whether their devices are making any potentially compromising radio transmissions.

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Scientists' Biggest Search For Dark Matter To Date Just Turned Up Nothing
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 03:11 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's still-in-the-dark department:
Peter Dockrill, reporting for ScienceAlert: For something that's hypothesised to make up more than 80 percent of the mass of the entire universe, it's no easy thing to detect the existence of dark matter. That's the conclusion the world is coming to today, after scientists announced that a massive $10 million experiment to find traces of elusive dark matter particles had failed after an exhaustive 20-month search. "We've probed previously unexplored regions of parameter space with the aim of making the first definitive discovery of dark matter," said physicist Cham Ghag from University College London in the UK, one of the scientists who took part in the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) project based in South Dakota. "Though a positive signal would have been welcome, nature was not so kind! Nonetheless, a null result is significant as it changes the landscape of the field by constraining models for what dark matter could be beyond anything that existed previously."Ars Technica has more details.

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MasterCard Is Buying the Core of the British Payments Infrastructure
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 01:52 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's big-whale-meets-big-shark department:
Mastercard has agreed to purchase a controlling stake in VocalLink, the payments processor that handles most payroll and household bill processing in the UK. The American payment giant will be paying up to $1.14 billion. Fortune reports: According to MasterCard MA, the deal would create "the first true combination of the traditional person-to-merchant cards business with a clearing business." That is, of course, presuming it clears regulatory scrutiny. VocaLink runs Link, the network that provides interoperability between British ATMs, as well as BACS, the clearing house for payments between bank accounts, and Faster Payments, the inter-bank transfer system for Internet and telephone-based payments.FastCompany explains what this could mean for MasterCard users.

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Apple: Pokemon Go Sets Record For Most Downloads In Its First Week
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 01:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's gotta-catch-em-all department:
An anonymous reader writes: Apple has confirmed to TechCrunch that Pokemon Go has attracted more downloads in the App Store during its first week than any other app in App Store history. What's even more surprisingly is that the app was only available in a few countries at the time -- it initially launched in New Zealand, Australia and the U.S. Apple didn't provide the number of downloads, but one can assume it's well into the millions. Pokemon Go is expected to become even more popular as it becomes available in more countries -- the game just launched in Japan today. With millions of downloads in the first week alone, Pokemon Go is expected to generate large sums of money for Apple. The Guardian is reporting that Apple will "rake in $3 billion in revenue from Pokemon Go in the next one to two years as gamers buy 'PokeCoins' from its app store."

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Google Fiber Reminds People It's a 'Real Business'
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 12:32 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's don't-mess-with-'em department:
An anonymous reader writes: While Google Fiber gets a massive amount of media hype (justly based on its disruptive speed and price point), the reality is that despite numerous city "launches" -- not that many people can actually get the service. But while many ISPs and analysts have dismissed Google Fiber as an adorable experiment that will never impact them, many of these folks have been forced to changing their tune as Google Fiber's list of planned launch cities grows larger. In a profile piece over at USAToday, the company once again notes that while Google Fiber may have begun as a PR exercise, it's now dead serious about being a large, nationwide disruptive kick in the ass for incumbent broadband providers. "It is indeed a real business, and it's serving to increase competition as well, and that's something that we don't mind," Google Fiber boss and former Qualcomm exec Dennis Kish tells the paper. "We think it's healthy for the market and for consumers."

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FCC Calls On Phone Companies To Offer Free Robocall Blocking
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 12:32 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's say-no-to-robocalls department:
The FCC chairman on Friday pressed major U.S. phone companies to take immediate steps to develop technology that blocks unwanted automated calls available to consumers at no charge. Chairman Tom Wheeler, in letters to CEOs of Verizon Communications, AT&T, Sprint, US Cellular, Level 3 Communications, Frontier Communications, Bandwidth.com, and T-Mobile, said that so-called robocalls, automated pre-recorded telephone calls often from telemarketers or scam artists continue because the industry isn't taking any action. Wheeler demands answers with "concrete, actionable solutions to address these issues" within 30 days. A report on FastCompany adds: Wheeler also urged carriers to create a list of institutions like government agencies and banks that are commonly impersonated by scammers and filter out overseas callers impersonating them through falsified caller ID data

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China Wants To Be a Top 10 Nation For Automation By Putting More Robots In Its Factories
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 11:11 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's automation-push department:
An anonymous reader shares a Reuters report: China is aiming for a top-10 ranking in automation for its industries by 2020 by putting more robots in its factories, the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) said. China's push to modernize its manufacturing with robotics is partly a response to labor shortages and fast-rising wages. But the world's second-largest economy still has far lower robot penetration than other big industrialized economies -- just 36 per 10,000 manufacturing workers in 2015, ranking it 28th among the world's most automated nations. By 2020, it aims to boost penetration to 150 per 10,000 workers, IFR said in a statement, citing Wang Ruixiang, President of the China Machinery Industry Federation. To help reach that goal, China aims for sales of 100,000 domestically produced industrial robots a year by 2020, up 49 percent compared with last year, the IFR said in a statement at an industry summit in Shanghai, where the Chinese federation's chief was speaking.

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Fortune 500 Company Hires Ransomware Gang To Hack the Competition
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 11:11 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's security-woes department:
It's no secret that ransomware hackers are in the business to make money. But a new business arrangement hitting the news today may surprise many. Vice's Motherboard, citing research and investigation (PDF) from security firm F-Secure, is reporting that a Fortune 500 company, the name of which hasn't been unveiled, hired a ransomware gang to hack its competitors. From the article: In an exchange with a security researcher pretending to be a victim, one ransomware agent claimed they were working for a Fortune 500 company. "We are hired by [a] corporation to cyber disrupt day-to-day business of their competition," the customer support agent of a ransomware known as Jigsaw said, according to a new report by security firm F-Secure. "The purpose was just to lock files to delay a corporation's production time to allow our clients to introduce a similar product into the market first."In a statement to Motherboard, Mikko Hypponen said, "If this indeed was a case where ransomware was used on purpose to disrupt a competitor's operation, it's the only case we know of." F-Secure adds that the consumer representative noted that "politicians, governments, husbands, wives -- people from all walks of life contract [them] to hack computers, cell phones."

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'The Hillary Leaks' - Wikileaks Releases 19,252 Previously Unseen DNC Emails
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 09:51 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's boom department:
Reader schwit1 writes: The state department's release of Hillary emails may be over, but that of Wikileaks is just starting. Moments ago, Julian Assange's whistleblower organization released over 19,000 emails and more than 8,000 attachments from the Democratic National Committee. This is part one of their new Hillary Leaks series, Wikileaks said in press release.:"Today, Friday 22 July 2016 at 10:30am EDT, WikiLeaks releases 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments from the top of the US Democratic National Committee -- part one of our new Hillary Leaks series. The leaks come from the accounts of seven key figures in the DNC: Communications Director Luis Miranda (10770 emails), National Finance Director Jordon Kaplan (3797 emails), Finance Chief of Staff Scott Comer (3095 emails), Finance Director of Data & Strategic Initiatives Daniel Parrish (1472 emails), Finance Director Allen Zachary (1611 emails), Senior Advisor Andrew Wright (938 emails) and Northern California Finance Director Robert (Erik) Stowe (751 emails). The emails cover the period from January last year until 25 May this year." The emails released Friday cover a period from January 2015 to May 2016. They purportedly come from the accounts of seven key DNC staffers: Andrew Wright, Jordon Kaplan, Scott Comer, Luis Miranda, Robert Stowe, Daniel Parrish and Allen Zachary.
A quick scan of the emails focus on Bernie Sanders and dealing with the fallout of many Democrats opposing Hillary Clinton and calling the system "rigged." Many of the emails exchanged between top DNC officials are simply the text of news articles concerning how establishment democrats can "deal" with the insurgent left-winger. Update: 07/22 17:41 GMT by M :Guccifer 2.0 has claimed responsibility for the leak.

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How Apple and Facebook Helped To Take Down KickassTorrents
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 09:51 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's now-you-see-me department:
Reader itwbennett writes (edited): Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of the torrent directory service KickassTorrents, was arrested in Poland earlier this week, charged with copyright infringement and money laundering. As we dig deeper as to what exactly happened, it turns out Apple and Facebook were among the companies that handed over data to the U.S. in its investigation. Department of Homeland Security investigators traced IP addresses associated with KickassTorrents domains to a Canadian ISP, which turned over server data, including emails. At some point, investigators noticed that Vaulin had an Apple email account that was used to make iTunes purchases from two IP addresses -- both of which also accessed a Facebook account promoting KickassTorrents.if you're wondering where exactly iTunes came into play, here's a further explanation. It all started in November 2015, when an undercover IRS Special Agent reached out to a KickassTorrents representative about hosting an advertisement on the site. An agreement was made and the ad, which purportedly advertised a program to study in the United States, was to be placed on individual torrent listings for $300 per day. When it finally went live on March 14th 2016, a link appeared underneath the torrent download buttons for five days. Sure it was a short campaign, but it was enough to link KAT to a Latvian bank account, one that received $31 million in deposits -- mainly from advertising payments -- between August 2015 and March 2016. Upon further investigation of the email accounts, and corresponding reverse lookups, it was found that the account holder had made a purchase on iTunes.

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Sony Is the Only Remaining Obstacle To PS4-Xbox Cross-Play
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 08:31 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's who's-at-fault? department:
In March, Microsoft announced native support for cross-platform play between Xbox One and Windows 10. At the time, the company also added that this support could be extended to "other console and PC networks," something which led people to wonder if truly cross-platform gaming, on any platform, was next. When asked, Sony did say that it was open to the idea. "PlayStation has been supporting cross-platform play between PC on several software titles starting with Final Fantasy 11 on PS2 and PC back in 2002. We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross-platform play." But since then, it appears that Sony has had a change of heart, which has resulted in developers asking the company for an update. Kotaku reports: In recent days, the developers behind Rocket League and The Witcher 3 have both called for Sony to break down the walls separating PlayStation Network and Xbox Live and allow cross-platform multiplayer. What's changed in the last few days are developers making an open call for Sony to make good on having that conversation with publishers and developers. In an interview with IGN, Psyonix president Jeremy Dunham explained how the Rocket League developer had already taken care of the technical side of things. "We're literally at the point where all we need is the go-ahead on the Sony side," said Dunham, "and we can, in less than a business day, turn it on and have it up and working no problem. It'd literally take a few hours to propagate throughout the whole world, so really we're just waiting on the permission to do so." In another statement to IGN, CD Projekt RED CEO Marcin Iwinski supported Psyonix.

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Samsung Fights Back, Sues China's Huawei For Patent Infringement
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 08:31 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's fighting-back department:
In May, China's conglomerate Huawei filed a lawsuit against Samsung accusing the Korean company of infringing on some of its 4G-related patents. Now, Samsung is returning the favor. According to Reuters, Samsung has filed a lawsuit of its own against Huawei for a very similar reason. From the report: An intellectual property court in Beijing said on its official Weixin account that Samsung sued Huawei and a department store in Beijing and has claimed 161 million yuan ($24.14 million) in damages. Samsung asked the two defendants to stop production and sales of products the South Korean firm says infringes on its patents, including Huawei's Mate 8 and Honor smartphones, the court said.

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Hacker Steals 1.6 Million Accounts From Top Mobile Game's Forum
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 07:01 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Zack Whittaker, reporting for ZDNet: A hacker has targeted the official forum of popular mobile game "Clash of Kings," making off with close to 1.6 million accounts. The hack was carried out on July 14 by a hacker, who wants to remain nameless, and a copy of the leaked database was provided to breach notification site LeakedSource.com, which allows users to search their usernames and email addresses in a wealth of stolen and hacked data. In a sample given to ZDNet, the database contains (among other things) usernames, email addresses, IP addresses (which can often determine the user's location), device identifiers, as well as Facebook data and access tokens (if the user signed in with their social account). Passwords stored in the database are hashed and salted. LeakedSource has now added the total 1,597,717 stolen records to its systems.

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Verizon Nears Deal to Acquire Yahoo
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 07:01 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's big-whale-small-whale department:
Verizon Communications is nearing a deal to buy Yahoo, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. While nothing is official yet, the publication claims that Verizon is discussing a price close to $5 billion for Yahoo's core Internet business. The report adds that Yahoo's patents are not part of the discussion, and it's unclear whether the two companies are considering Yahoo's real estate. "The companies may be ready to announce the deal in the coming days, the people said," the report adds. Interestingly, CNBC, citing its own sources, is independently reporting the same thing.

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NVIDIA Drops Surprise Unveiling of Pascal-Based GeForce GTX Titan X
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 05:41 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's surprise-announcement department:
MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: Details just emerged from NVIDIA regarding its upcoming powerful, Pascal-based Titan X graphics card, featuring a 12 billion transistor GPU, codenamed GP102. NVIDIA is obviously having a little fun with this one and at an artificial intelligence (AI) meet-up at Stanford University this evening, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang first announced, and then actually gave away a few brand-new, Pascal-based NVIDIA TITAN X GPUs. Apparently, Brian Kelleher, one of NVIDIA's top hardware engineers, made a bet with NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, that the company could squeeze 10 teraflops of computing performance out of a single chip. Jen-Hsun thought that was not doable in this generation of product, but apparently, Brian and his team pulled it off. The new Titan X is powered by NVIDIA's largest GPU -- the company says it's actually the biggest GPU ever built. The Pascal-based GP102 features 3,584 CUDA cores, clocked at 1.53GHz (the previous-gen Titan X has 3,072 CUDA cores clocked at 1.08GHz). The specifications NVIDIA has released thus far include: 12-billion transistors, 11 TFLOPs FP32 (32-bit floating point), 44 TOPS INT8 (new deep learning inferencing instructions), 3,584 CUDA cores at 1.53GHz, and 12GB of GDDR5X memory (480GB/s). The new Titan X will be available August 2nd for $1,200 direct from NVIDIA.com.

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Scientists Find Chemical-Free Way To Extend Milk's Shelf Life For Up To 3 Weeks
Posted by News Fetcher on July 22 '16 at 02:34 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sour-milk department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Digital Trends: Researchers at Purdue University and the University of Tennessee have found a non-chemical way to extend regular milk's shelf life to around 2-3 weeks, and without affecting the nutrients or flavor. The technology they've developed involves increasing the temperature of milk by just 10 degrees for less than a second, which is well below the 70-degree Celsius threshold needed for pasteurization. That quick heat blast is still able to eliminate more than 99 percent of the bacteria left from pasteurization. "The developed technology uses low temperature, short time (LTST) in a process that disperses milk in the form of droplets with low heat/pressure variation over a short treatment time in conjunction with pasteurization," Bruce Applegate, Purdue's associate professor in the Department of Food Science, explained to Digital Trends. "The resultant product was subjected to a taste panel and participants had equal or greater preference for the LTST pasteurized milk compared to normally pasteurized milk. The shelf was determined to be a minimum of two weeks longer than the standard shelf life from pasteurization alone." As for whether or not this method will make its way to store shelves, it won't in the near future. "Currently an Ohio-based milk processor is using this technology and distributing the milk," Applegate says. "The unit is approved for processing milk in Ohio and distribution nationwide. The product is currently being distributed, however it has not been labeled as extended shelf life milk. Once the commercial application is validated the milk will be labelled with the extended shelf life." Scientists from Duke University believe there may be a large source of hydrogen gas under the ocean, caused by rocks forming from fast-spreading tectonic plates.

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Large Source Of Hydrogen Gas May Lie Near Slow-Spreading Tectonic Plates Under The Ocean
Posted by News Fetcher on July 21 '16 at 11:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's under-the-sea department:
New submitter pyroclast writes: According to research from Duke University, rocks forming from fast-spreading tectonic plates create hydrogen gas in large quantities. The tectonic alternation of hydrolyzed ultramafic rock to serpentinized rock has the byproduct of hydrogen gas. Science Daily reports: "'A major benefit of this work is that it provides a testable, tectonic-based model for not only identifying where free hydrogen gas may be forming beneath the seafloor, but also at what rate, and what the total scale of this formation may be, which on a global basis is massive,' said [researcher] Lincoln F. Pratson[.] 'Most scientists previously thought all hydrogen production occurs only at slow-spreading lithosphere, because this is where most serpentinized rocks are found. Although faster-spreading lithosphere contains smaller quantities of this rock, our analysis suggests the amount of H2 produced there might still be large,' [researcher Stacy] Worman said. [S]cientists need to understand where the gas goes after it's produced. 'Maybe microbes are eating it, or maybe it's accumulating in reservoirs under the seafloor. We still don't know,' Worman said. 'Of course, such accumulations would have to be quite significant to make hydrogen gas produced by serpentinization a viable fuel source.'"

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