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Medicine

Pentagon Halts Work at Labs For Dangerous Pathogens After Anthrax Scare 13

An anonymous reader writes: The Pentagon announced yesterday it is issuing a moratorium on work at nine different biodefense labs after live anthrax was discovered outside containment at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. The facility was discovered to have been shipping live anthrax specimens — instead of dead ones — to other labs. Work can only begin again after the shuttered facilities are certain to be clean of anthrax and assured of safe conduct. "The review calls for the military labs to ensure that personnel are properly trained on lab safety procedures and that necessary maintenance is conducted on biosafety level 3 lab facilities that work with some of the most dangerous pathogens. It calls for validating record-keeping and inventories of the military's 'Critical Reagents Program' — including 'ensuring that all materials associated with the CRP are properly accounted for.'"
Programming

An Idea For Software's Industrial Revolution 91

An anonymous reader writes: Tech company Code Valley makes the bold claim that a software industrial revolution may be imminent (PDF). They propose shifting developers from the coding domain (current software development practice) to a "design-domain," where the emphasis is no longer on writing code, but on decentralized design – code becomes simply a by-product of this collaboration. In this design-domain, software programs are designed (and built) by a peer-to-peer supply chain of software vendors, each owned and managed by a software engineer. They envisage a global supply-chain of these software experts capable of reliably delivering immensely complex software.
Cellphones

Cheap Smartphones Quietly Becoming Popular In the US 62

An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that ZTE and its cheap Android smartphones have been grabbing more and more of the market in the U.S. It's not that the phones are particularly good — it's that they're "good enough" for the $60 price tag. The company has moved up to fourth among smartphone makers, behind Apple, Samsung and LG. That puts them ahead of a lot of companies making premium devices: HTC, Motorola, and BlackBerry, to name a few. ZTE, a Chinese manufacturer, seems to be better at playing the U.S. markets than competitors like Xiaomi and Huawei, and they're getting access to big carriers and big retailers. "Its phone sales are all the more surprising because it's been frozen out of the more lucrative telecom networking market since 2012. That year, the House Intelligence Committee issued a report warning that China's intelligence services could potentially use ZTE's equipment, and those of rival Huawei Technologies, for spying. Huawei then dismissed the allegations as 'little more than an exercise in China bashing.'"
Businesses

ThinkGeek Opens First Physical Store In Orlando 34

New submitter Enderxeno writes with news that on September 25th, geek merchandise retailer ThinkGeek will open its first brick-and-mortar store in Orlando, Florida. The store will open in a mall, and the company will be running it with the help of GameStop, who bought ThinkGeek back in June. The new store will have a 3,000 square foot space that used to be occupied by Radio Shack, and it will focus "entirely on collectibles." (Disclosure: Slashdot and ThinkGeek used to share a corporate overlord. We don't talk anymore, but we still like them. Even though they finally took away our employee discounts.)
Crime

Science Teacher Arrested After Crashing Drone At US Open 116

An anonymous reader writes: We all had that science teacher growing up — the one who took his classroom experiments a little too far. The one with the potato cannon. The one who made you wonder how he didn't get into trouble in his spare time. Well, it's finally happened for one science teacher from New York City. The 26-year-old man was arrested last night after he crashed a drone into some empty seats at the U.S. Open. He was charged with reckless endangerment, reckless operation of a drone, and operating a drone in a New York City public park outside a prescribed area for doing so. Nobody was injured, but the drone did fly through the arena while a pair of tennis players were in the middle of a match. The game was briefly interrupted when the drone crashed.
NASA

NASA To 'Lasso' a Comet To Hitchhike Across the Solar System 70

evilviper writes: Traveling around space can require a lot of fuel, to help fight the fuel bill NASA has a spacecraft concept that would hitch a free ride on one of the many comets and asteroids traveling across our solar system. Comet Hitchhiker, developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, would feature a reusable tether system to replace the need for propellant for entering orbit and landing on objects.

The spacecraft would first cast an extendable tether toward the object and attach itself using a harpoon attached to the tether. Next, it would reel out the tether while applying a brake that harvests energy while the spacecraft accelerates. This allows Comet Hitchhiker to accelerate and slowly match the speed of its ride, and keeping that slight tension on the line harvests energy that is stored on-board for later use, reeling itself down to the surface of the comet or asteroid. A comet hitchhiker spacecraft can obtain up to ~10 km/s of delta-V by using a carbon nanotube (CNT) tether, reaching the current orbital distance of Pluto (32.6 AU) in just 5.6 years.
Government

New Cellphone Surveillance Safeguards Imposed On Federal Law Enforcement 31

Earthquake Retrofit writes: The NPR website has an interesting story that the Justice Department says it will beef up legal requirements for using cell-site simulators. It includes a rare picture of the device and refers to them as dirt boxes. From the story: "Under the new policy, federal investigators will be required to get a warrant from a judge demonstrating probable cause, in most domestic criminal probes. Agents will need to explain to judges how the technology is being used. And they'll be directed to destroy volumes of bystanders' data 'no less than once daily.' 'This policy is really designed to ... try to promote transparency, consistency and accountability, all while being mindful of the public's privacy interest,' said Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates."
Networking

For Future Wearable Devices, the Network Could Be You 14

angry tapir writes: Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have found a way for wearable devices to communicate through a person's body instead of the air around it. Their work could lead to devices that last longer on smaller batteries and don't give away secrets as easily as today's systems do. From the Computerworld story: "A team led by Professor Patrick Mercier of the university's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering has discovered a way to use the body itself as the medium for data transmission. It uses magnetic fields and shows path loss that's 10 million times lower than what happens with Bluetooth. This could make the magnetic networks much more efficient, so devices don't have to work as hard to communicate and can have smaller batteries -- or get longer useful lives with the same size batteries. The team hasn't actually tested the system's energy use yet. They envision the technology being used for networks of health sensors that monitor many parts of the body."
Medicine

Another Neurodegenerative Disease Linked To a Prion 33

MTorrice writes: A new study concludes that a brain protein causes the rare, Parkinson's-like disease called multiple systems atrophy (MSA) by acting like a prion, the misbehaving type of protein infamously linked to mad cow disease. The researchers say the results are the most definitive demonstration to date that proteins involved in many neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, exhibit prion-like behavior: They can misfold into shapes that then coax others to do the same, leading to protein aggregation that forms neurotoxic clumps. If these other diseases are caused by prion-like proteins, then scientists could develop treatments that slow or stop disease progression by designing molecules that block prion propagation.
Math

Ada Lovelace and Her Legacy 94

nightcats writes: Nature has an extensive piece on the legacy of the "enchantress of abstraction," the extraordinary Victorian-era computer pioneer Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron. Her monograph on the Babbage machine was described by Babbage himself as a creation of "that Enchantress who has thrown her magical spell around the most abstract of Sciences and has grasped it with a force that few masculine intellects (in our own country at least) could have exerted over it." Ada's remarkable merging of intellect and intuition — her capacity to analyze and capture the conceptual and functional foundations of the Babbage machine — is summarized with a historical context which reveals the precocious modernity of her scientific mind. "By 1841 Lovelace was developing a concept of 'Poetical Science', in which scientific logic would be driven by imagination, 'the Discovering faculty, pre-eminently. It is that which penetrates into the unseen worlds around us, the worlds of science.' She saw mathematics metaphysically, as 'the language of the unseen relations between things;' but added that to apply it, 'we must be able to fully appreciate, to feel, to seize, the unseen, the unconscious.' She also saw that Babbage's mathematics needed more imaginative presentation."
Transportation

Pioneer Looks To Laserdisc Tech For Low-Cost LIDAR 48

itwbennett writes: Pioneer is developing a 3D LIDAR (light detection and ranging) sensor for use in autonomous vehicles that could be a fraction of the cost of current systems (the company envisions a price point under $83). Key to this is technology related to optical pickups once used in laserdisc players, which Pioneer made for 30 years. From the ITWorld story: "The system would detect objects dozens of meters ahead, measure their distance and width and identify them based on their shape. Pioneer, which makes GPS navigation systems, is working on getting the LIDAR to automatically produce high-precision digital maps while using a minimum of data compared to the amount used for standard maps for car navigation."
Transportation

Copenhagen's New All-Electric Public Carsharing Programming 75

dkatana writes: Residents in Copenhagen have a new all-electric, free-floating, carsharing service. DriveNow is launching 400 brand new BMW i3 electric cars in the Danish city. The service is one-way, and metered by the minute. The big news is that residents can sign-up on the spot taking a picture of their drivers' license and a selfie and use their public transport accounts to pay. There will be a car available every 300 meters, the same distance as bus stops. The cost will be 3.50 kroner ($0.52) per minute driven. If members decide to park the car for a few minutes continuing the rental, those stationary minutes are charged at 2.5 kroner ($0.37). The maximum charge per hour is capped at 190 kroner ($28.50). There is no annual fee.
Earth

Congressional Testimony: A Surprising Consensus On Climate 259

Lasrick writes: Many legislators regularly deny that there is a scientific consensus, or even broad scientific support, for government action to address climate change. Researchers recently assessed the content of congressional testimony related to either global warming or climate change from 1969 to 2007. For each piece of testimony, they recorded several characteristics about how the testimony discussed climate. For instance, noting whether the testimony indicated that global warming or climate change was happening and whether any climate change was attributable (in part) to anthropogenic sources. The results: Testimony to Congress—even under Republican reign—reflects the scientific consensus that humans are changing our planet's climate.
The Internet

Connecting the Unwired World With Balloons, Satellites, Lasers & Drones 13

1sockchuck writes: New projects are seeking to connect the unwired world using balloons, drones, lasers and satellites to deliver wireless Internet. There are dueling low-earth orbit satellite initiatives backed by billionaires Elon Musk (SpaceX) and Richard Branson (OneWeb), while Google's Project Loon is using balloons (which sometimes crash) and Facebook is building a solar-powered UAV (Project Aquila). “The Connectivity Lab team is very focused on the technical challenges of reaching those people who are typically in the more rural, unconnected parts of the world,” Jay Parikh, vice president of engineering at Facebook says. “I think that we need to get them access. My hope is that we are able to deliver a very rich experience to them, including videos, photos and—some day—virtual reality and all of that stuff. But it’s a multi-, multi-, multi-year challenge, and I don’t see any end in sight right now.”
Earth

Easy-To-Clean Membrane Separates Oil From Water 34

ckwu writes: A steel mesh with a novel self-cleaning coating can separate oil and water, easily lifting oil from an oil-water mixture and leaving the water behind. Unlike existing oil-water separation membranes, if the coated mesh gets contaminated with oil, it can be simply rinsed off with water and reused, without needing to be cleaned with detergents. The team was able to use the mesh to lift crude oil from a crude oil-seawater mixture, showcasing the feasibility of oil-spill cleanup. The membrane could also be used to treat oily wastewater and as a protective barrier in industrial sewer outlets to avoid oil discharge.