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Submission + - Computer Beats Go Champion

Koreantoast writes: Go (weiqi), the ancient Chinese board game, has long been held up as one of the more difficult, unconquered challenges facing AI scientists... until now. Google DeepMind researchers, led by David Silver and Demis Hassabis, developed a new algorithm called AlphaGo, enabling the computer to soundly defeat European Go champion Fan Hui in back-to-back games, five to zero. Played on a 19x19 board, Go players have more than 300 possible moves per turn to consider, creating a huge number of potential scenarios and a tremendous computational challenge. All is not lost for humanity yet: DeepMind is scheduled to face off in March with Lee Sedol, considered one of the best Go players in recent history, in a match compared to the Kasparov-Deep Blue duels of previous decades.

Submission + - Excessive video game play's possible link with suicide among students in US (dispatchtribunal.com)

hypnosec writes: A new study has claimed that college students who indulge in excessive video game play are more capable of acting on suicidal thoughts. The claims have been put forward by a team of researchers through a study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. wherein they have claimed that suicide ideation and planning may be elevated among frequent video game players who indulge in gaming for more than five hours a day. The study basically links action video games, which usually involve violence and aggressive content, to acquired capability for suicide (ACS). While researchers found no significant association between overall hours of video game play and ACS, and gender did not make a difference, when focusing on the action category of video games, the relationship between hours of game play and ACS became significant.

Submission + - Climate change strongly linked to UK flooding (ft.com)

mdsolar writes: In normal weather the River Eden in Cumbria is a placid waterway, flowing at a rate of about 50 cubic metres per second.

After Storm Desmond arrived last month, it hurled 1,700 cu m, the contents of an Olympic swimming pool, into the Solway Firth every second — a historic record for any English river. A similar torrent was measured on the Tyne in Northumberland.

December’s record flow rates in northern England’s rivers — and similar records being broken in the east of Scotland this week — emphasise the exceptional nature of the winter rainfall and flooding, say scientists at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the leading flood research body in the UK.

In December, Britain’s wettest month since Met Office records began in 1910, rain fell so heavily over such a wide area that serious flooding was inevitable, said Professor Alan Jenkins, CEH deputy director. In other words, any precautionary measures could not have stopped it — though mitigation schemes could help in some places.

Some have blamed upland landowners and farmers for exacerbating the impact of the rainfall through deforestation, as well as draining peat bogs and other natural reservoirs that could hold back or soak up floodwaters.

Submission + - Investigate oil spills with the Public Lab open source Oil Testing Kit (kickstarter.com)

jywarren writes: The DIY environmental group Public Lab has introduced a Kickstarter for a kit to identifying the source of oil pollution, using simple open source hardware tools — a Blu-Ray laser and a fold-up cardboard spectrometer. They are calling for beta testers to join the project in order to solve key remaining challenges in the open source technique; beta testers will get early access to prototypes. Worried about crude or motor oil spills near your home? Investigate them yourself!

Submission + - Physicist Proves Mathematically Black Holes Don't Exist (wncn.com) 2

Koreantoast writes: Black holes, the stellar phenomena that continues to capture the imagination of scientists and science fiction authors, may not actually exist. According to a paper published by Physics professor Laura Mersini-Houghton at the University of North Carolina and Mathematics Professor Harald Pfeiffer of the University of Toronto, as a collapsing star emits Hawking radiation, it also sheds mass at a rate that it no longer has the density necessary to become a black hole; the singularity and event horizon never forms. While the ArXiv paper with the exact solution has not been peer reviewed, the preceding paper by Mersini-Houghton with the approximate solutions was published in Physics Letters B.

"I'm still not over the shock," said Mersini-Houghton. "We've been studying this problem for a more than 50 years and this solution gives us a lot to think about... Physicists have been trying to merge these two theories – Einstein's theory of gravity and quantum mechanics – for decades, but this scenario brings these two theories together, into harmony."

Submission + - Credit Card Breach at P.F. Chang's (krebsonsecurity.com)

schwit1 writes: Nationwide chain P.F. Chang’s China Bistro said today that it is investigating claims of a data breach involving credit and debit card data reportedly stolen from restaurant locations nationwide.

On June 9, thousands of newly-stolen credit and debit cards went up for sale on rescator[dot]so, an underground store best known for selling tens of millions of cards stolen in the Target breach. Several banks contacted by KrebsOnSecurity said they acquired from this new batch multiple cards that were previously issued to customers, and found that all had been used at P.F. Chang’s locations between the beginning of March 2014 and May 19, 2014.

Submission + - Google buys satellite imaging company Skybox for $500 million (arstechnica.com)

mpicpp writes: Google has just acquired satellite imaging company Skybox for a cool half-billion dollars.

According to Inc. magazine, the Mountain View startup launched its first “minibar-sized” satellite into orbit in November 2013 and will launch eight more by the end of 2015. It plans to have 24 satellites in its constellation by 2018. With Google’s backing, though, that timeline could get accelerated.

Skybox is unique because it’s one of the rare companies to provide high-resolution photography from space. The company wants to use computer analytics to unlock valuable data from satellite images—potentially worth a lot of money to future clients.

Submission + - Under Armour-Lockheed Designed Suit Blamed for Poor US Speedskating Perfomance (wsj.com) 1

Koreantoast writes: The United States surprisingly poor performance in speedskating, despite strong performances in recent World Cup events, has been blamed in part on an untested speedskating suit. The Mach 39, designed through a joint venture between Under Armour and Lockheed Martin, was supposed to provide Team USA with a high tech advantage, using advanced fluid dynamic models and dimpled surface to disrupt air flow and improve comfort. Instead, performances have been disastrous thus far, with athletes going as far as modifying their suits at the Olympics to try and reverse their fortunes. The suits have caused enough concerns that US Speedskating is taking the unusual step of seeking special dispensation from International Skating Union to ditch the high tech suits and switch back to their old uniforms. Teams are normally required to keep the same equipment through the entire Games. Insert jokes and comparisons to Lockheed's more famous product, the JSF, here.

Submission + - The NSA Had Permission to Spy on Brits (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: In the latest twist of a story that just keeps unraveling, The Guardian has revealed that the NSA had permission from intelligence officials in the UK to spy on British citizens—even if they didn’t suspect them of doing anything wrong. You’d be forgiven for reacting to the news with a shrug and an eye-roll. After everything that’s come out of the files leaked by Edward Snowden, it hardly comes as a surprise to be presented with more evidence that, yes, everyone’s been spying on everyone else. But this latest revelation deserves a moment’s reflection. As The Guardian explained, this is “the first explicit confirmation that UK citizens have been caught up in US mass surveillance program.”

Submission + - Analysis Makes Case that Gladwell's Culture & Air Crashes Analysis Badly Fla (blogspot.com)

Koreantoast writes: As a recent Slashdot article showed, interest in Malcolm Gladwell's theory on the impact of culture on airline crashes has come up again following the tragic accident of Asiana Flight 214. Yet how good was Gladwell's analysis of the Korean Air Flight 801 accident which is the basis of his theory? A recent analysis by the popular Ask a Korean! blog shows serious flaws in Gladwell's presentation: ignorance of the power dynamics amongst the flight crew, mischaracterizations of Korean Air's flight accident record (three of the seven deadly incidents characterized as "accidents" were actually military attacks or terrorism) and manipulative omissions in the pilot transcripts to falsely portray the situation. "Even under the most kindly light, Gladwell is guilty of reckless and gross negligence. Under a harsher light, Gladwell's work on the connection between culture and plane crashes is a shoddy fraud." Perhaps Gladwell should have asked a Korean before the chapter.

Submission + - Somali Al Shabaab Live Tweet Attack on UN Development Program Compound (foreignpolicy.com)

Koreantoast writes: In another interesting example of the increasing use and sophistication of social media by non-governmental organizations, the Somali-based Islamic insurgency al-Shabab live tweeted their latest attack, a suicide assault against a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) facility in Mogadishu which left 15 dead. During the event, they denounced UNDP, tweeting during the attack that the UN is "a merchant of death & a satanic force of evil, has a long inglorious record of spreading nothing but poverty, dependency & disbelief" and proceeded to mock newly appointed UN Representative Nicholas Kay who is to arrive in Somalia later this month. Also of note is their initiation of communications with various press entities including the AP, BBC and IHS Janes through Twitter. Hat tip to Foreign Policy magazine for the story.
Microsoft

Submission + - Windows 8 Fights Off 85% Of Malware Detected In The Past Six Months

An anonymous reader writes: Now that Windows 8 is on sale and has already been purchased by millions, expect very close scrutiny of Microsoft’s latest and greatest security features. 0-day vulnerabilities are already being claimed, but what about the malware that’s already out there? When tested against the top threats, Windows 8 is immune to 85 percent of them, and gets infected by 15 percent, according to tests run by BitDefender.
Science

Submission + - Scientists Study "Frictional Ageing" - Standing Objects Becoming Harder to Move (bbc.com) 1

dryriver writes: The BBC reports: 'Have you ever had the impression that heavy items of furniture start to take root – that after years standing in the same place, they’re harder to slide to a new position? Do your best wine glasses, after standing many months unused in the cabinet, seem slightly stuck to the shelf? Has the fine sand in the kids’ play tray set into a lump?

If so, you’re not just imagining it. The friction between two surfaces in contact with each other does slowly increase over time. But why? A paper by two materials scientists at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, USA, suggests that the surfaces could actually be slowly chemically bonding together.

There are already several other explanations for this so-called “frictional ageing” effect. One is simply that two surfaces get squashed closer together. But a curious thing about friction is that the frictional force opposing sliding doesn’t depend on the area of the contacting surfaces. You’d expect the opposite to be the case: more contact should create more friction. But in fact two surfaces in apparent contact are mostly not touching at all, because little bumps and irregularities, called asperities, prop them apart. That’s true even for apparently smooth surfaces like glass, which are still rough at the microscopic scale. It’s only the contacts between these asperities that cause friction.'

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