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Satellites Spot Hidden Villages In Amazon
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 07:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's eye-in-the-sky department:
sciencehabit writes The Amazon is home to perhaps dozens of isolated tribes who make their living far off the grid from the wider society, growing crops and hunting and gathering in the forest. These reclusive peoples are threatened by drug running, illegal logging, and highway construction, even if they dwell in 'protected' reserves in Peru or Brazil; one group, apparently pushed out of its lands, made contact this summer. Now, researchers have a new way of examining their fate without disruptive and frightening flyovers by aircraft. Researchers use high-resolution WorldView or GeoEye satellite images to monitor demographic changes in isolated Amazon tribes. The scientists got location and population estimates for five isolated villages along the Brazil-Peru border from Brazilian government reports and other sources. Then they examined 50-centimeter resolution satellite images taken in 2006, 2012, and 2013 and could spot the peoples' horticultural fields and characteristic pattern of either longhouses or clusters of small houses; these villages could be clearly differentiated from the transient camps of illegal loggers or drug runners.

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Crowdsourcing Project Predicts Progression of ALS
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 07:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's with-a-little-help-from-my-friends department:
sciencehabit writes Using data from old clinical trials, two groups of researchers have found a better way to predict how amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) progresses in different patients. The winning algorithms—designed by non-ALS experts—outperformed the judgments of a group of ALS clinicians given the same data. The advances could make it easier to test whether new drugs can slow the fatal neurodegenerative disease. For the competition, participants were given just a slice of this data set, collected over 3 months, and asked to design an algorithm to predict how patients would fare in the subsequent 9 months, according to a standard functional scale that measures their ability to move and care for themselves. When predictions from the two winning algorithms were combined, they outperformed estimates solicited from a dozen ALS clinicians who pored over the same data, the authors report. They estimate that using these algorithms to predict outcomes could allow a drug sponsor to reduce the size of the trial by at least 20% and save as much as $6 million in a large phase III trial.

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The Fight Over the EFF's Secure Messaging Scoreboard
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 05:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's making-the-grade department:
blottsie writes The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)'s new Secure Messaging Scorecard is designed to answer one important question: Which apps and tools actually keep your messages secure and safe from prying eyes? The results have been mixed. In the midst of many positive reactions from technology companies and users, the scorecard stoked a wave of criticism from several prominent figures in the security industry, who deemed the effort inaccurate, misleading, and vague."

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New Particle Collider Is One Foot Long
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 04:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's it's-not-the-size-of-the-collider-it's-the-speed-of-the-particles department:
Jason Koebler writes The CERN particle collider is 17 miles long. China just announced a supercollider that is supposed to be roughly 49 miles long. The United States' new particle collider is just under 12 inches long. What the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory's new collider lacks in size, it makes up for by using plasma to accelerate particles more than 500 times faster than traditional methods. In a recent test published in Nature, Michael Litos and his team were able to accelerate bunches of electrons to near the speed of light within the tiny chamber."

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Why the Time Is Always Set To 9:41 In Apple Ads
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 04:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's ticking-away-the-moments-that-make-up-a-dull-day department:
jones_supa writes If you have looked carefully, the clock has traditionally been always set to 9:42 in Apple advertisements. You could see it across various commercials, print ads, and even on Apple's website. The explanation is simple: That's the time in the morning that Steve Jobs announced the very first iPhone in 2007. Around 42 minutes into his keynote address he said "Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone." The picture of the phone was carefully scheduled to pop up at that moment. "We design the keynotes so that the big reveal of the product happens around 40 minutes into the presentation", Apple's Scott Forstall confirms. The time was even slightly tweaked in 2010, when the very first iPad was released, so that when it was revealed, it displayed a different time: 9:41.

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LibraryBox is an Open Source Server That Runs on Low-Cost Hardware (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 03:45 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's share-thousands-of-books-no-matter-how-far-you-are-out-in-the-boonies department:
The world is full of wireless servers -- or at least some of it is. There are still many places, including parts of the United States, where you can have all the laptops, smart phones, and other wireless-capable devices you want, but there's no server that caters to them. Enter LibraryBox. It's open source and it runs on a variety of low-cost, low-power hardware. The project's website calls it "portable private digital distribution."

A lot of people obviously like this project and wish it well. LibraryBox ran a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, hoping for $3000, and raised $33,119. But today's interviewee, Jason Griffey, can explain his project better than we can, so please watch the video (or read the transcript) if you want to learn more about LibraryBox -- including the story behind the project's name. (Alternate Video Link)

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Study Shows Direct Brain Interface Between Humans
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 03:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's I-want-to-know-what-you're-thinking department:
vinces99 writes University of Washington researchers have successfully replicated a direct brain-to-brain connection between pairs of people as part of a scientific study following the team's initial demonstration a year ago. In the newly published study, which involved six people, researchers were able to transmit the signals from one person's brain over the Internet and use these signals to control the hand motions of another person within a split second of sending that signal.

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Meet the 36 People Who Run Wikipedia
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 02:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's who's-running-things department:
blastboy writes By pretty much any logic, Wikipedia shouldn't work: A vast website, built on the labor of volunteers, with very few tangible rewards and a fairly weird hierarchy. From the article: "The stewards would prefer to go unnoticed. Only one has ever had any real fame—Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales served as a steward from 2006 to 2009. They operate above the fray, giving and taking user privileges and intervening in matters that lower-ranking editors can’t handle. You can summon them for emergencies in the Wikimedia Stewards IRC chat room by typing '!steward.' Their secrecy has a certain irony, given the very public product they manage, but perhaps it’s emblematic of Wikimedia as a whole. When your foundational value is that 'every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge,' hierarchies become a necessary evil."

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Net Neutrality Alone Won't Solve ISP Throttling Abuse, Here's Why
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 01:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's keeping-it-fair department:
MojoKid writes Net neutrality is an attractive concept, particularly if you've followed the ways the cable and telco companies have gouged customers in recent years, but only to a limited extent. There are two problems with net neutrality as its commonly proposed. First, there's the fact that not all traffic prioritization is bad all of the time. Video streams and gaming are two examples of activities that require low-latency packet delivery to function smoothly. Email and web traffic can tolerate significantly higher latencies, for example. Similarly, almost everyone agrees that ISPs have some responsibility to control network performance in a manner that guarantees the best service for the most number of people, or that prioritizes certain traffic over others in the event of an emergency. These are all issues that a careful set of regulations could preserve while still mandating neutral traffic treatment in the majority of cases, but it's a level of nuance that most discussions of the topic don't touch. The larger and more serious problem with net neutrality as its often defined, however, is that it typically deals only with the "last mile," or the types and nature of the filtering an ISP can apply to your personal connection.

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Fabiola Gianotti To Take Over As CERN Director-General
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 01:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's who's-in-charge department:
somegeekynick writes "The public face of the ATLAS experiment at CERN which co-discovered the the Higgs-like boson in 2012, Fabiola Gianotti, 52, has been chosen as the next Director-General of the particle physics lab. She'll become the first woman to hold the position. The 5-year term begins on Jan 1, 2016."

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Sketches Released of New Star Wars Museum
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 12:30 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's that's-no-museum department:
An anonymous reader writes Chicago has some great museums, but none have architecture that excite me as much as the renderings (read "storyboards, not blueprints," but they're also called "plans," which I hope means they're pretty accurate) of George Lucas's Star Wars museum. Technically, it's the "George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art," but we know what he means, and these pictures only make the point clearer. Says the Associated Press story, "The Beijing-based principal designer, Ma Yansong of MAD Architects, released the first sketches Tuesday. The seven-story museum will be located between Soldier Field and McCormick Place on Lake Michigan. It's expected to cost about $400 million. Ma has said it's the most important project of his career to date."

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Ebola Nose Spray Vaccine Protects Monkeys
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 12:00 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's spray-away department:
First time accepted submitter GeekyKhan writes A new needle-free vaccine has proven to be 100% effective at stopping the transmission of Ebola in monkeys, and it could spell a breakthrough in the battle against the disease. The vaccine is administered through a nasal spray using a common cold virus genetically engineered to carry Ebola DNA. From NBC: "The vaccine uses a common cold virus genetically engineered to carry a tiny piece of Ebola DNA. Sprayed up the nose, it saved all nine monkeys tested for infection. But now the research is dead in the water without funding, Maria Croyle of the University of Texas at Austin’s College of Pharmacy said. 'Now we are at the crossroads, trying to figure out where to get the funding and resources to continue,' Croyle told NBC News."

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Pacific Northwest Lab's Sensor-Packed Fish Gauges Hydropower Facilities
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 11:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's release-the-swimbot department:
coondoggie writes Sometimes it takes a fish to do a man's job. Scientists at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a sensor-laden, synthetic Sensor Fish that can be used to swim into hydropower facilities like dams to evaluate structures and other environmental systems. Using Sensor Fish, PNNL researchers say they can measure the various forces juvenile salmon experience as they pass through dams. The Sensor Fish initially was designed to evaluate dams equipped with a common type of turbine along the Columbia River, the Kaplan turbine. The pressure change, they found, is akin to traveling from sea level to the top of Mount Everest in blink of an eye.

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Using Naval Logbooks To Reconstruct Past Weather and Predict Future Climate
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's climate-change-destroyed-the-mermaid's-natural-habitat department:
Lasrick writes: What a great idea: the Old Weather Project uses old logbooks to study the weather patterns of long ago, providing a trove of archival data to scientists who are trying to fill in the details of our knowledge about the atmosphere and the changing climate. "Pity the poor navigator who fell asleep on watch and failed to update his ship's logbook every four hours with details about its geographic position, time, date, wind direction, barometric readings, temperatures, ocean currents, and weather conditions." As Clive Wilkinson of the UK's National Maritime Museum adds, "Anything you read in a logbook, you can be sure that it is a true and faithful account."

The Old Weather Project uses citizen scientists to transcribe and digitize observations that were scrupulously recorded on a clockwork-like basis, and it is one of several that climate scientists are using to create "a three-dimensional computer simulation that will provide a continuous, century-and-a-half-long profile of the entire planet's climate over time" — the 20th Century Reanalysis Project. Data is checked and rechecked by three different people before entry into the database, and the logbook measurements are especially valuable because they were compiled at sea.


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Physicists Resurrect an Old, Strange Dark Matter Theory
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 09:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's throwing-dark-matter-at-a-wall-and-seeing-what-sticks department:
New submitter rossgneumann writes: Dark matter might not be nearly as exotic as most theories suggest. Instead, it could be macroscopic clumps of material formed from common particles already found within the Standard Model of particle physics. This argument comes courtesy of physicists at Case Western University (PDF). Dark matter is usually thought of in terms of exotic, so-far undiscovered particles. The leading candidates are known as weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs. But the Case Western theory suggests that there are no dark matter particles, at least none that exist outside of current knowledge. Instead, there are baseball-sized clumps of "regular" matter formed from unexpected combinations of Standard Model particles.

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NSA Director Says Agency Shares Most, But Not All, Bugs It Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 09:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's you-can-trust-us department:
Trailrunner7 writes: When the National Security Agency discovers a new vulnerability that looks like it might be of use in penetrating target networks, the agency considers a number of factors, including how popular the affected software is and where it's typically deployed, before deciding whether to share the new bug. The agency shares most of the bugs it finds, NSA Director Mike Rogers said, but not all of them.

Speaking at an event at Stanford University, Rogers said that the NSA has been told by President Barack Obama that the default decision should be to share information on new vulnerabilities "The president has been very specific to us in saying, look, the balance I want you to strike will be largely focused on when you find vulnerabilities, we're going to share them. By orders of magnitude, when we find new vulnerabilities, we share them," Rogers said.


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The Other Side of Diversity In Tech
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 08:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's all-together-now department:
An anonymous reader writes: We frequently discuss diversity in the tech industry, and all the initiatives getting underway to encourage women and minorities to enter (and stay in) the field. The prevailing theme is that this will be good for companies, good for innovation, and good for the future of technology. While that's true, greater representation will also be good for the individuals themselves. Erica Joy has been in IT for a long time, and she's worked in many of the industry hotspots. She's written an insightful article on how the lack of diversity has affected her throughout her career. An excerpt: "Unfortunately, my workplace is homogenous and so are my surroundings. I feel different everywhere. I go to work and I stick out like a sore thumb. ... I feel like I've lost my entire cultural identity in effort to be part of the culture I've spent the majority of the last decade in."

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Government Data Requests To Facebook Up By 24%
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 08:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's strong-YoY-growth department:
davidshenba writes: Facebook has revealed that government requests for user data has increased by 24% to nearly 35,000 during the first six months of the year. Also content restrictions due to local laws increased by 19% in the same period. According to Facebook, they scrutinize every government request for legal sufficiency and "push back hard when we find deficiencies or are served with overly broad requests." Already Facebook is fighting its largest ever legal battle against a U.S. court order to handover 400 users' data.

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Revitalizing Medical Imaging With Ultrasound-On-a-Chip
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 08:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's look-into-your-heart department:
catchblue22 writes: MIT Technology Review has an article about a device being developed by Butterfly Network that aims to make medical imaging dirt cheap. From the article: "Butterfly's patent applications describe its aim as building compact, versatile new ultrasound scanners that can create 3-D images in real time. Hold it up to a person's chest, and you would look through 'what appears to be a window' into the body, according to the documents. ... Most ultrasound machines use small piezoelectric crystals or ceramics to generate and receive sound waves. But these have to be carefully wired together, then attached via cables to a separate box to process the signals. Anyone who can integrate ultrasound elements directly onto a computer chip could manufacture them cheaply in large batches, and more easily create the type of arrays needed to produce 3-D images."

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The Effect of Programming Language On Software Quality
Posted by News Fetcher on November 05 '14 at 08:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's hold-on-to-your-hats department:
HughPickens.com writes: Discussions whether a given programming language is "the right tool for the job" inevitably lead to debate. While some of these debates may appear to be tinged with an almost religious fervor, most people would agree that a programming language can impact not only the coding process, but also the properties of the resulting product. Now computer scientists at the University of California — Davis have published a study of the effect of programming languages on software quality (PDF) using a very large data set from GitHub. They analyzed 729 projects with 80 million SLOC by 29,000 authors and 1.5 million commits in 17 languages. The large sample size allowed them to use a mixed-methods approach, combining multiple regression modeling with visualization and text analytics, to study the effect of language features such as static vs. dynamic typing, strong vs. weak typing on software quality. By triangulating findings from different methods, and controlling for confounding effects such as team size, project size, and project history, they report that language design does have a significant, but modest effect on software quality.

< article continued at Slashdot >

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