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+ - Can Bad Scientific Practice Be Fixed? 3

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: Richard Horton writes in that a recent symposium on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research discussed one of the most sensitive issues in science today: the idea that something has gone fundamentally wrong with science (PDF), one of our greatest human creations. The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. According to Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, a United Kingdom-based medical journal, the apparent endemicity of bad research behaviour is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world or retrofit hypotheses to fit their data.

Can bad scientific practices be fixed? Part of the problem is that no-one is incentivized to be right. Instead, scientists are incentivized to be productive and innovative. Tony Weidberg says that the particle physics community now invests great effort into intensive checking and rechecking of data prior to publication following several high-profile errors,. By filtering results through independent working groups, physicists are encouraged to criticize. Good criticism is rewarded. The goal is a reliable result, and the incentives for scientists are aligned around this goal. "The good news is that science is beginning to take some of its worst failings very seriously," says Horton. "The bad news is that nobody is ready to take the first step to clean up the system."

+ - Latest Vector To Attack Point-of-Sale Terminals: Email ->

Submitted by jfruh
jfruh writes: Point-of-sale software has meant that in many cases where once you'd have seen a cash register, you now see a general-purpose PC running point-of-sale (PoS) software. Unfortunately, those PCs have all the usual vulnerabilities, and when you run software on it that processes credit card payments, they become a tempting target for hackers. One of the latest attacks on PoS software comes in the form of malicious Word macros downloaded from spam emails.
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+ - Large Amount of Star Citizen Art Assets Leaked

Submitted by jones_supa
jones_supa writes: A huge batch of work-in-progress assets for Star Citizen have leaked to the public. An unknown person, likely connected with Cloud Imperium Games in some way, provided a link to the 48 gigabytes of content. The link has now been taken down, but as we know, it's hard to remove material from Internet after once put there. Being a CryEngine game, it has been suggested that it might be possible to view some of the assets using CryEngine development tools. Leaks are always quite the conundrum with the opportunities they present to curious fans and competitor companies, but can also be very depressing for the developers and publisher of the game.

+ - Privacy Behaviors After Snowden->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: An article in Communications of the ACM takes a look at how Edward Snowden's revelations about government surveillance have changed privacy behaviors across the world. The results are fairly disappointing. While the news that intelligence agencies were trawling data from everyday citizens sparked an interest in privacy, it was small, and faded quickly. Even through media coverage has continued for a long time after the initial reports, public interest has dropped back to earlier levels. The initial interest spike was notably less than for other major news events. Privacy-enhancing behaviors experiences a small surge, but that too failed to impart any long-term momentum. The author notes that the spike in interest "following the removal of privacy-enhancing functions in Facebook, Android, and Gmail" was stronger than the reaction to the government's privacy-eroding actions.
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+ - Tech Bubble? What Tech Bubble?

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: Conor Dougherty writes in the NYT that the tech industry’s venture capitalists — the financiers who bet on companies when they are little more than an idea — are going out of their way to avoid the one word that could describe what is happening around them: Bubble “I guess it is a scary word because in some sense no one wants it to stop,” says Tomasz Tunguz. “And so if you utter it, do you pop it?” In 2000, tech stocks crashed, venture capital dried up and many young companies were vaporized. Today, people see shades of 2000 in the enormous valuations assigned to private companies like Uber, with a valuation of $41 billion, and Slack, the corporate messaging service that is about a year old and valued at $2.8 billion in its latest funding round. A few years ago private companies worth more than $1 billion were rare enough that venture capitalists called them “unicorns.” Today, there are 107 unicorns and while nobody doubts that many of tech’s unicorns are indeed real businesses, valuations are inflating, leading some people to worry that investment decisions are being guided by something venture capitalists call FOMO — the fear of missing out.

With interest rates at historic lows, excess capital causes investment bubbles. The result is too much money chasing too few great deals. Unfortunately, overcapitalizing startups with easy money results in superfluous spending and dangerously high burn rates and investors are happy to admit that this torrid pace of investment has started to worry them. “Do I think companies are overvalued as a whole? No,” says Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator. “Do I think too much money can kill good companies? Yes. And that is an important difference.”

+ - Nerve Cells Made From Blood Cells

Submitted by BarbaraHudson
BarbaraHudson writes: From the beats-turning-water-into-wine dept

The CBC is reporting that Canadian scientists are turning blood stem cells into nerve cells

The new technique involves extracting stem cells from blood — ones that normally have the potential to become red blood cells or various kinds of white blood cells involved in fighting off pathogens. The blood stem cells are converted over about a month into neural stem cells.

These neural stem cells are then manipulated in the lab to give rise to several types of nerve cells, including those that make up the peripheral nervous system throughout the arms, legs and the rest of the body.

His lab hopes to further develop the blood-generated neural stem cells into motor and other kinds of neurons that could conceivably one day be transplanted into patients to restore healthy brain cells as a treatment for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or Lou Gehrig's disease, as well as retinal nerve cells to treat people who are losing their sight due to age-related macular degeneration,

+ - Scientists Map 5,000 New Ocean Viruses->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: The ocean contains many mysteries, but none so great as its viruses. Scientists estimate that there are 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 virus particles in all the world’s seas. They outnumber all cellular life forms by roughly a factor of 10. Scientists have been dimly aware of the staggering scale of the ocean’s virosphere since the late 1980s, but many of the simplest questions about it remained open for years. Scientists couldn’t even say how many species of viruses there were in the oceans. It’s as if zoologists were dimly aware that many places on Earth were home to things called mammals, but their knowledge was based only on a few squirrels in a cage.

Duhaime and her colleagues joined the Tara Oceans Expedition to change that, by collecting ocean viruses on a scale never attempted before. As they report in the May 22 issue of Science, they gathered enough samples to confidently estimate the total number of distinct populations of viruses in the sunlit upper reaches of the ocean. Out of the 5,476 populations they identified, only 39 were previously known to science.

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+ - Next Generation 460-Foot Towers To Bring Wind Power to All Fifty States

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: Diane Cardwell reports at the NYT that once the next generation of larger, taller turbines in development hits the market, all 50 states could become wind energy producers and the bigger machines — reaching as high as 460 feet — could eventually make faster winds at higher altitudes an economical source of electricity. “We believe very much the central role of wind in meeting our climate challenges, and we’re very committed in this direction,” says Ernest Moniz, the secretary of energy. “It’s going to require being able to take advantage of a broader set of resources,” and it will give wind power a “bigger footprint,” onshore and off.

Energy officials and executives are pushing toward machinery that would reach 360 to 460 feet high. That would increase the wind development potential in an additional 700,000 square miles — more than a fifth of the United States — bringing the total area to 1.8 million square miles. The potential expansion would affect areas where wind farms already exist and bring areas into the market. The main regions where height would increase potential wind production include the Southeast, Northeast, states around the Ohio River valley and the Great Lakes, and parts of the interior West and Pacific Northwest. In all, the DOE report "Enabling Wind Power Nationwide" says, land-based and offshore wind could produce 16,150 gigawatts of electricity a year, more than 10 times the country’s consumption (PDF). Wind installations now account for 65 gigawatts, just under 5 percent of national demand. “We’ve proven out as an industry in Europe, with a fair number of turbines in Europe at 120 meters,” says Tom Kiernan. “By going to 100 or 110 meters, we can open up all 50 states."

+ - Oregon to test pay-per-mile idea as replacement for gas tax->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 writes: Oregon is about to embark on a first-in-the-nation program that aims to charge car owners not for the fuel they use, but for the miles they drive. Drivers will be able to install an odometer device without GPS tracking.

The program is meant to help the state raise more revenue to pay for road and bridge projects at a time when money generated from gasoline taxes are declining across the country, in part, because of greater fuel efficiency and the increasing popularity of fuel-efficient, hybrid and electric cars.

Starting July 1, up to 5,000 volunteers in Oregon can sign up to drive with devices that collect data on how much they have driven and where. The volunteers will agree to pay 1.5 cents for each mile traveled on public roads within Oregon, instead of the tax now added when filling up at the pump. Some electric and hybrid car owners, however, say the new tax would be unfair to them and would discourage purchasing of green vehicles.

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+ - Princeton Study: Congress Statistically Does Not Care About You

Submitted by chavez988
chavez988 writes: A study conducted by Princeton researchers recently found there is almost no statistical correlation between the opinions of 90% of the the population and how congress votes, but a an almost 1-to-1 correlation between the top 10%. So one question is whether or not we can still call congressmen "representatives"? This video explains the study well.

+ - World's Smallest Beamsplitter Paves Way Toward Computing at the Speed of Light->

Submitted by Zothecula
Zothecula writes: Silicon photonics is an emerging technology that incorporates electronic circuits using photons of laser light rather than electrons to transmit, receive, and manipulate information. As such, a silicon photonic CPU could potentially process information at the speed of light – millions of times faster than computers available today. In a step towards this goal, engineers working at the University of Utah have developed an ultra-compact photonic beam-splitter so small that millions of these devices could fit on a single silicon chip.
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+ - Floating train at 2000 km/h set to store 10% of Dutch electricity->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: The construction of a huge underground maglev-style floating railway will make it possible to store 10% of the Netherlands' daily energy needs in the form of kinetic energy. This Energy Train can compensate for peaks and troughs in the supply and demand of wind and solar energy at one tenth of the usual costs.

The concept has been devised and developed by the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) and is set to revolutionise the world of energy storage.

The floating railway will cover a circular track with a radius of 2.5 km. In periods when too much wind or solar energy is generated, the surplus electricity is used to set in motion a pure-mass floating maglev train within a vacuum tunnel. It can reach a speed of 2,000 kilometres per hour. In periods when insufficient renewable energy is generated, this kinetic energy can be re-converted into electricity and fed into the grid

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+ - One of the Strongest, Lightest Metals Ever Made Is Less Dense Than Water

Submitted by Jason Koebler
Jason Koebler writes: A new class of magnesium-alloy syntactic foam, which is made out of hollow particles to lower its weight and density is one of the strongest metals for its weight and density ever developed, which makes it ideal for use in boats.
Developed by Nikhil Gupta at NYU Polytechnic University, the alloy is 44 percent stronger than similar, aluminum-based foams, and each individual sphere within the foam can withstand pressure of more than 25,000 pounds per square inch before breaking, which is roughly 100 times the pressure exerted by water coming out of a firehose. Gupta's foams are currently used by the Navy and he suspects this one will be ready for use in warships within three years.

A good supervisor can step on your toes without messing up your shine.