Science & Technology
Fri, 07 Apr 2017 13:00 UTC
What if virtual reality was used in the pursuit of mayhem?
Much has been said about the positives of technology that can reshape reality or even create a new one, but last month two respected academic researchers held a talk at South by Southwest in Austin to explore not just those positives, but also the potential negatives of reality technology.
"This is a scene from a movie from the 1940s called Gaslight," Todd Richmond told the packed room, pointing to a screen showing a man and a woman standing by an old gaslight in a home. "How many people know what gaslighting is? So the term gaslighting comes from when lights used to be gas fueled. And it's a way of driving someone into mental distress by manipulating their environment without telling them and then denying that it's being manipulated. So the classic, the gaslight lamp lighting is that you slowly turn down the lights on your spouse because you're trying to drive your spouse nuts. Your spouse says, 'Is it getting darker?' And you say, 'No, I don't know what you're talking about.' And if you do that enough over time, you would begin to freak people out.
"So is VR the perfect platform for this? The answer is, yeah, if you're going to use it for that."
What could go wrong: Smithfield Foods establishing bioscience unit to sell pig organs for human transplants
Wed, 12 Apr 2017 11:30 UTC
Routine pig-human organ transplants are years away, but recent scientific advances are breaking down barriers that frustrated prior attempts to use pigs as a ready supply of replacement parts for sick or injured people, making it an attractive new market.
"Our bread and butter has always been the bacon, sausage, fresh pork - very much a food-focused operation," Courtney Stanton, vice president of Smithfield's new bioscience unit, told Reuters in an exclusive interview.
"We want to signal to the medical device and science communities that this is an area we're focused on - that we're not strictly packers," she said.
Smithfield, the $14 billion subsidiary of China's WH Group (0288.HK), in its first move has joined a public-private tissue engineering consortium funded by an $80 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Smithfield is the only pork producer, joining health-care companies including Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N), Medtronic (MDT.N) and United Therapeutics Corp (UTHR.O).
NASA scientists have detected hydrogen from hydrothermal vents in ice plumes from Saturn's ocean-bearing moon Enceladus in conditions which they say could have led to the rise of life on Earth.
The Thunderbolts Project
Tue, 11 Apr 2017 13:27 UTC
Thu, 13 Apr 2017 12:29 UTC
Arms maker Tecmash, which is part of Rostec Corporation, said it's going to be busy producing the state-of-the-art submarine rubber coating for the next five years in accordance with the state order.
"We've launched new high-tech lines for manufacturing special rubber plates in September 2016. Today we already have an order for its production for the next five years. The main feature of this coating lies in its high noise-damping ability," Sergey Rusakov, Tecmash CEO, said as cited by the company's press service.
Auroras are caused by streams of charged particles like electrons that originate with solar winds and in the case of Jupiter, volcanic gases spewed by the moon Io. Whether solar particles or volcanic sulfur, the material gets caught in powerful magnetic fields surrounding a planet and channeled into the upper atmosphere. There, the particles interact with atmospheric gases such as oxygen or nitrogen and spectacular bursts of light result. With Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus excited hydrogen is responsible for the show.
Auroras on Earth, Jupiter and Saturn have been well-studied but not so on the ice-giant planet Uranus. In 2011, the Hubble Space Telescope took the first-ever image of the auroras on Uranus. Then in 2012 and 2014 a team from the Paris Observatory took a second look at the auroras in ultraviolet light using the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) installed on Hubble.
Marine life has figured out a way to cope. New research finds that a full three-quarters of sea animals make their own light.
The study, published April 4 in the journal Scientific Reports, is the first to really quantify animal bioluminescence in the ocean. It turns out that the ability to glow isn't rare at all.
"I'm not sure people realize how common bioluminescence is," study researcher Séverine Martini, a postdoctoral researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), said in a statement. "It's not just a few deep-sea fishes, like the angler fish. It's jellies, worms, squids ... all sorts of things." [Gallery: Images of Glowing Aquatic Life]
Tue, 11 Apr 2017 19:37 UTC
The fragments were brought to the sea floor by massive mud volcanoes near the Mariana trench - the deepest place on the planet. If scientists confirm evidence of microbial life in the material it will triple the previous estimated depth limit for life within the Earth's mantle.
A team of scientists lead by Oliver Plümper, a researcher at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. During an analysis of the mineral-rich mud, the team did not find intact microbes but did observe traces of organic material.
Hydrocarbons, lipids, and amino acids were found in 46 rock samples drilled from the mud volcano chemicals associated with bacterial waste products, reported Science Alert.
"This is another hint at a great, deep biosphere on our planet," Plumper told National Geographic. "It could be huge or very small, but there is definitely something going on that we don't understand yet."
New York Times
Mon, 10 Apr 2017 00:00 UTC
While such wizardry is convenient, it has also left a gaping security hole.
New findings published Monday by researchers at New York University and Michigan State University suggest that smartphones can easily be fooled by fake fingerprints digitally composed of many common features found in human prints. In computer simulations, the researchers from the universities were able to develop a set of artificial "MasterPrints" that could match real prints similar to those used by phones as much as 65 percent of the time.
Comment: For more information the reader might find these articles interesting:
- Iris scanning makes its way to the smartphone
- FBI forces woman to unlock her phone using fingerprint biometrics
Tue, 11 Apr 2017 12:30 UTC
The U.S. Navy is funding the development of a new super-surveillance system which uses robots to snoop on humans in terrifying detail. It has handed a $1.7 million (£1.4 million) grant to researchers from Cornell University, who are working to build a system which can "conduct surveillance as a single entity with many eyes".
The cash was handed over by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, which is dedicated to developing new forms of military and civilian technology.
Last year, we exclusively revealed that the same department discussed plans to fit humans with microchips and track their every move. Now it wants to develop a system which lets teams of surveillance robots gather and share intelligence "at the speed of light". "Once you have robots that cooperate you can do all sorts of things," said Kilian Weinberger, associate professor of computer science.
Comment: Bye-bye privacy. Never alone, never again.