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Submission + - Tallying the Mistakes and Malfunctions of Robot Surgeons (

An anonymous reader writes: El Reg reports on a new study that looked into malfunction and injury reports for medical procedures that used robot surgeons. From 2007 to 2013, 1.74 million such procedures were carried out, 86% of which were related to urology and gynecology. Of those, the study looked at reports of "adverse events," which were sent to the FDA. In that time period, there were 144 deaths, 1,391 patient injuries, and 8,061 device malfunctions. The malfunctions included "falling of burnt/broken pieces of instruments into the patient (14.7%), electrical arcing of instruments (10.5%), unintended operation of instruments (8.6%), system errors (5%), and video/imaging problems (2.6%)." The more complicated surgeries involving vital organs were naturally the most dangerous. Head and neck surgeries accounted for 19.7% of all adverse results, and cardiothoracic procedures accounted for 6.4%. The much more common urology and gynecology procedures had adverse event rates of 1.4% and 1.9%. The researchers are quick to note that despite the high number of malfunctions, a vastly higher number of robotic procedures went off without a hitch. They say increased adoption of these techniques will go a long way toward resolving bugs and device failures.

Submission + - How two bored 1970s housewives helped create the PC industry (

harrymcc writes: One of the first significant PC companies was Vector Graphic. Founded in 1976, it was an innovator in everything from industrial design to sales and marketing, and eventually went public. And alone among early PC makers, it was founded and run by two women, Lore Harp and Carole Ely. Over at Fast Company, Benj Edwards tells the story of this fascinating, forgotten company.

Submission + - The French Scrabble champion who doesn't speak French (

Camembert writes: New Zealander Nigel Richards won the French language Scrabble world championship without knowing the language; rather he memorised the word list in 9 weeks.
While Richards was already 3 times champion in English this is still very impressive.
To me this also seems to indicate that being good at Scrabble is more a matter of being very good at the puzzle optimisation it requires, rather than to have a good grasp of language.
Link to source:

Submission + - If an 800-kiloton nuclear warhead detonated above midtown Manhattan (

Lasrick writes: Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles are believed to carry a total of approximately 1,000 strategic nuclear warheads that can hit the US less than 30 minutes after being launched. Of this total, about 700 warheads are rated at 800 kilotons; that is, each has the explosive power of 800,000 tons of TNT. This article is a description of the consequences of the detonation of a single such warhead over midtown Manhattan, in the heart of New York City.

Submission + - Nanny State Bans Many Porn Acts in UK

DigitAl56K writes: The Independent reports that the UK's Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 has banned a long list of sex acts from Video-On-Demand pornography produced in the UK, many with no obvious reason. The restrictions "appear to make no distinction between consensual and non-consensual practices between adults".

A list of banned acts can be found in TFA, and include use of physical restraints, spanking, and humiliation. I wonder how long it will be before sites hosting content featuring such terrible, heinous, immoral acts are permanently blocked by the UK's net filter.

Submission + - Aliens Are Probably Everywhere, Just Not Anywhere Near Humans

rossgneumann writes: If there’s intelligent life in the cosmos, it’s probably nowhere we can get to anytime soon. At least that’s the finding of the astrobiologist who, for the first time in decades, has rendered a major update to the key formula scientists use to seek out interstellar life. That’d be the Drake equation, which was developed over half a century ago to determine where life might lurk in the universe. Using the new Kepler data, astrobiologist Amri Wandel did some calculations to estimate the density of life-bearing worlds in our corner of the universe.

Submission + - New effort to grant legal rights to chimpanzees fails (

sciencehabit writes: Advocates of “legal personhood” to chimpanzees have lost another battle. This morning, a New York appellate court rejected a lawsuit by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) to free a chimp named Tommy from captivity. The group had argued that the chimpanzee deserved the human right of bodily liberty. Despite the loss, the NhRP is pursuing more cases in the hopes of conferring legal rights to a variety of animals, from elephants to dolphins.

Submission + - A Cheap, Durable Robot Hand With An Adaptable Grip

An anonymous reader writes: Building robot hands that mimic human ones may not be doing robotic grasping any favors. Authors from iRobot, Harvard and Yale describe the success they've had with an underactuated, three fingered hand. It doesn't look human, but thanks to a design that prioritizes flexibility and adaptability, it can do a lot of the same jobs with a lot less programming than previous models.

Submission + - Candy Crush Saga Has Trademarked the Word 'Candy' (

An anonymous reader writes:, owners of Candy Crush, have received a U.S. trademark on the use of the word "candy" in games and clothing. Forbes thinks it is overly broad. "One would think Hasbro, the maker of that venerable children's board game (which does have video game versions) Candy Land, would already have this trademark sewed up."

Submission + - Russian Teen Created Software Used In Target Breach (

jfruh writes: A Los Angeles security company believes that BlackPOS, the malware that infected Target's point-of-sale systems and was responsible for the recent massive security breach, was created by a 17-year-old Russian who goes by the name of "ree4" online. ree4 doesn't seem to have been directly involved in the attack, though he may have received a cut of the profits from it. Meanwhile, two Mexican nationals were arrested at a U.S. border crossing in Texas on suspicions of being connected to the breach, though they may have done nothing more than purchased stolen credit card information.

Submission + - Groklaw Closure (

JImbob0i0 writes: After many years amid fears of forced exposure in light of the recent NSA/PRISM/Lavabits events PJ has closed the doors of Groklaw.

With Microsoft/Motorola, Oracle/Google, SCO/IBM, Apple/Samsung still going on in the background will the legal implications of technology companies fade from view without the light that has been shined on them over the years?

SCO was ridiculed in no small part to researchers at the site.

Oracle was shown to have severe misunderstandings of the Java licenses.

Microsoft was forced out of the background.

When PJ last retired she passed the site over to another but recently she's been managing it herself again. This closure notice appears pretty final however.

What now for legal blogs in the technological world?

Submission + - Bombing Suspect Almost Let Islamic Law Stop The Attack (

PolygamousRanchKid writes: The man accused of trying to blow up the Fed yesterday struggled with the moral implications of the crime before allegedly deciding to go through with the attack. But, Nafis almost didn't carry out his attack, worrying that entering the U.S. on a student visa meant he couldn't carry out jihad here, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case.

Nafis used Facebook to ask an FBI informant as well as another person whether Islamic law would prohibit his plot, The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog reported Wednesday. “The three discussed certain Islamic legal rulings that advise that it is unlawful for a person who enters a country with a visa to wage jihad there,” according to the complaint.

University of Washington law professor Clark Lombardi, an Islamic law expert, told Law Blog he didn't know of any laws prohibiting jihad if the person had a visa.


Submission + - Rapid test pinpoints newborns' genetic diseases in days (

ananyo writes: "A faster DNA sequencing machine and streamlined analysis of the results can diagnose genetic disorders in days rather than weeks.
Up to a third of the babies admitted to neonatal intensive care units have a genetic disease. Although symptoms may be severe, the genetic cause can be hard to pin down.
The research team used the new system to analyse the genomes of five children, including two brothers, with undiagnosed diseases and found definite or likely causative mutations in four of them (abstract). The researchers also sequenced portions of the parents’ genomes to track down which flagged mutations might cause disease.
The Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, and the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin now plans to start genome sequencing in the neonatal intensive care unit with the arrival of faster sequencing machines from Illumina and from rival Life Technologies."


Submission + - San Diego Zoo Creates Biomimicry Incubator (

waderoush writes: "The San Diego Zoo has built a world famous reputation as a tourist destination, for helping to rescue the California Condor, and maybe (if you're old enough) for Joan Embery's appearances with Johnny Carson. Now the zoo is using its expertise to drive innovation by establishing a new 'Centre for Bioinspiration.' While the Anglicized spelling of 'center' might seem pretentious, the zoo has a down-to-earth goal of innovating through the emerging field of biomimicry, which is exemplified by Qualcomm's Mirasol display technology (the displays generate colors using the same type of interference between light waves that causes iridescence in butterfly wings). The center includes an incubator for developing new bio-inspired products and technologies, where ideas would be advanced to a proof of concept or working model, and then licensed. The incubator also intends to help develop bio-inspired ideas from outside the zoo."

The hardest part of climbing the ladder of success is getting through the crowd at the bottom.