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Medicine

Scientists Found the Origin of the Ebola Outbreak 1

Posted by Soulskill
from the it-was-the-butler-with-the-candlestick-in-the-library dept.
Taco Cowboy sends this report from Vox: One of the big mysteries in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is where the virus came from in the first place — and whether it's changed in any significant ways. ... In a new paper in Science (abstract), researchers reveal that they have sequenced the genomes of Ebola from 78 patients in Sierra Leone who contracted the disease in May and June. Those sequences revealed some 300 mutations specific to this outbreak. Among their findings, the researchers discovered that the current viral strains come from a related strain that left Central Africa within the past ten years. ... Using genetic sequences from current and previous outbreaks, the researchers mapped out a family tree that puts a common ancestor of the recent West African outbreak some place in Central Africa roughly around 2004. This contradicts an earlier hypothesis that the virus had been hanging around West Africa for much longer than that. Researchers are also planning to study the mutations to see if any of them are affecting Ebola's recent behavior. For example, this outbreak has had a higher transmission rate and lower death rate than others, and researchers are curious if any of these mutations are related to that. ... The scientific paper on Ebola is also a sad reminder of the toll that the virus has taken on those working on the front lines. Five of the authors died of Ebola before it was published.

+ - Reformatting a Machine 125 Million Miles Away->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "NASA's Opportunity rover has been rolling around the surface of Mars for over 10 years. It's still performing scientific observations, but the mission team has been dealing with a problem: the rover keeps rebooting. It's happened a dozen times this month, and the process it a bit more involved than rebooting a typical computer, taking a day or two to get back into operation every time. To try and fix this, the Opportunity team is planning a tricky operation: reformatting the flash memory from 125 million miles away. "Preparations include downloading to Earth all useful data remaining in the flash memory and switching the rover to an operating mode that does not use flash memory. Also, the team is restructuring the rover's communication sessions to use a slower data rate, which may add resilience in case of a reset during these preparations." The team suspects some of the flash memory cells are simply wearing out. The reformat is scheduled for some time in September."
Link to Original Source

+ - Ask Slashdot: Best Phone Apps?->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The phone app ecosystem has matured nicely over the past several years. There are apps for just about everything I need to do on my phone. But I've noticed that once an app fills a particular need, I don't tend to look for newer or potentially better apps that would replace it. In a lot of areas, I'm two or three years out of date — maybe there's something better, maybe not. Since few people relish the thought of installing, testing, and uninstalling literally hundreds of apps, I thought I'd put the question to the Slashdot community: what interesting, useful new apps are you aware of? This can be anything from incredibly slick, well-designed single purpose apps to powerful multi-function apps to entertainment-oriented apps."
Link to Original Source

+ - States Allowing Medical Marijuana Have Fewer Painkiller Deaths->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Narcotic painkillers aren't one of the biggest killers in the U.S., but overdoses do claim over 15,000 live per year and send hundreds of thousands to the emergency room. Because of this, it's interesting that a new study (abstract) has found states that allow the use of medical marijuana have seen a dramatic reduction in opioid overdose fatalities. "Previous studies hint at why marijuana use might help reduce reliance on opioid painkillers. Many drugs with abuse potential such as nicotine and opiates, as well as marijuana, pump up the brain’s dopamine levels, which can induce feelings of euphoria. The biological reasons that people might use marijuana instead of opioids aren’t exactly clear, because marijuana doesn’t replace the pain relief of opiates. However, it does seem to distract from the pain by making it less bothersome." This research comes at a time when the country is furiously debating the costs and benefits of marijuana use, and opponents of the idea are paying researchers to paint it in an unfavorable light."
Link to Original Source

+ - NASA's Competition For Dollars->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "We often decry the state of funding to NASA. Its limited scope has kept us from returning to the moon for over four decades, maintained only a minimal presence in low-Earth orbit, and failed to develop a capable asteroid defense system. But why is funding such a problem? Jason Callahan, who has worked on several of NASA's annual budgets, says it's not just NASA's small percentage of the federal budget that keeps those projects on the back burner, but also competition for funding between different parts of NASA as well. "[NASA's activities include] space science, including aeronautics research (the first A in NASA), technology development, education, center and agency management, construction, maintenance, and the entire human spaceflight program. The total space science budget has rarely exceeded $5 billion, and has averaged just over half that amount. Remember that space science is more than just planetary: astrophysics, heliophysics, and Earth science are all funded in this number. Despite this, space science accounts for an average of 17 percent of NASA’s total budget, though it has significant fluctuations. In the 1980s, space science was a mere 11 ½ percent of NASA’s budget, but in the 2000s, it made up 27 percent.""
Link to Original Source

+ - Judge Allows L.A. Cops to Keep License Plate Reader Data Secret

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled that the Los Angeles Police Department is not required to hand over a week's worth of license plate reader data to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). He cited the potential of compromising criminal investigations and giving (un-charged) criminals the ability to determine whether or not they were being targeteted by law enforcement. The ACLU and the EFF sought the data under the California Public Records Act, but the judge envoked Section 6254(f), "which protects investigatory files". ACLU attorney Peter Bibring notes, "New surveillance techniques may function better if people don't know about them, but that kind of secrecy is inconsistent with democratic policing.""

+ - Google's Megan Smith Would be First U.S. CTO Worthy of Title

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Bloomberg is reporting that Google X's Megan Smith is the top candidate for U.S. Chief Technology Officer. With a BS/MS in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, and experience ranging from General Magic to Google, Smith would arguably be the first U.S. CTO worthy of the title (the outgoing U.S. CTO has a bachelor's in Econ; his predecessor has a master's in Public Policy). Now, if Smith can just reassure parents of boys that the girls-take-all approach to CS education funding she championed for Google won't become national policy, her confirmation should be smooth sailing!"
Technology

Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up? 460

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-touch-that-dial dept.
An anonymous reader writes: It's the year 2014, and I still have a floppy drive installed on my computer. I don't know why; I don't own any floppy disks, and I haven't used one in probably a decade. But every time I put together a PC, it feels incomplete if I don't have one. I also have a Laserdisc player collecting dust at the bottom of my entertainment center, and I still use IRC to talk to a few friends. Software, hardware, or otherwise, what technology have you had a hard time letting go? (I don't want to put a hard limit on age, so you folks using flip-phones or playing on Dreamcasts or still inexplicably coding in Perl 4, feel free to contribute.)

+ - Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "It's the year 2014, and I still have a floppy drive installed on my computer. I don't know why; I don't own any floppy disks, and I haven't used one in probably a decade. But every time I put together a PC, it feels incomplete if I don't have one. I also have a Laserdisc player collecting dust at the bottom of my entertainment center, and I still use IRC to talk to a few friends. Software, hardware, or otherwise, what technology have you had a hard time letting go? (I don't want to put a hard limit on age, so you folks using flip-phones or playing on Dreamcasts or still inexplicably coding in Perl 4, feel free to contribute.)"
Link to Original Source
Social Networks

Study: Social Networks Have Negative Effect On Individual Welfare 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the tweeting-can-cause-polio dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A study of 50,000 people in Italy has found the impact of social networking on individual welfare to be "significantly negative." The researchers found that improvements in self-reported well-being occurred when online networking led to face-to-face interactions, but this effect was overwhelmed by the perceived losses in well-being (PDF) generated by interaction strictly through social networks. The researchers "highlight the role of discrimination and hate speech on social media which they say play a significant role in trust and well-being. Better moderation could significantly improve the well-being of the people who use social networks, they conclude."

+ - Study: Social Networks Have Negative Effect On Individual Welfare->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "A study of 50,000 people in Italy has found the impact of social networking on individual welfare to be "significantly negative." The researchers found that improvements in self-reported well-being occurred when online networking led to face-to-face interactions, but this effect was overwhelmed by the perceived losses in well-being (PDF) generated by interaction strictly through social networks. The researchers "highlight the role of discrimination and hate speech on social media which they say play a significant role in trust and well-being. Better moderation could significantly improve the well-being of the people who use social networks, they conclude.""
Link to Original Source
Science

Particle Physics To Aid Nuclear Cleanup 30

Posted by Soulskill
from the baby-steps-to-a-tricorder dept.
mdsolar sends this report from Symmetry Magazine: Cosmic rays can help scientists do something no one else can: safely image the interior of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. ... [M]uon tomography is similar to taking an X-ray, only it uses naturally produced muons. These particles don't damage the imaged materials and, because they already stream through everything on Earth, they can be used to image even the most sensitive objects. Better yet, a huge amount of shielding is needed to stop muons from passing through an object, making it nearly impossible to hide from muon tomography. ... By determining how muons scatter as they interact with electrons and nuclei within the item, the team's software creates a three-dimensional picture of what's inside. ... To prove the technology, the Los Alamos team shipped a demo detector system to a small, working nuclear reactor in a Toshiba facility in Kawasaki, Japan. There, they placed one detector on either side of the reactor core. "When we analyzed our data we discovered that in addition to the fuel in the reactor core, they had put a few fuel bundles off to the side that we didn't know about," says Morris. "They were really impressed that not only could we image the core, but that we also found those bundles."
Firefox

Mozilla To Support Public Key Pinning In Firefox 32 73

Posted by Soulskill
from the pin-the-key-on-the-fox dept.
Trailrunner7 writes: Mozilla is planning to add support for public-key pinning in its Firefox browser in an upcoming version. In version 32, which would be the next stable version of the browser, Firefox will have key pins for a long list of sites, including many of Mozilla's own sites, all of the sites pinned in Google Chrome and several Twitter sites. Public-key pinning has emerged as an important defense against a variety of attacks, especially man-in-the-middle attacks and the issuance of fraudulent certificates. The function essentially ties a public key, or set of keys, issued by known-good certificate authorities to a given domain. So if a user's browser encounters a site that's presenting a certificate that isn't included in the set of pinned public keys for that domain, it will then reject the connection. The idea is to prevent attackers from using fake certificates in order to intercept secure traffic between a user and the target site.
PC Games (Games)

This 'SimCity 4' Region With 107 Million People Took Eight Months of Planning 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
Jason Koebler writes: Peter Richie spent eight months planning and building a megacity in vanilla SimCity 4, and the end result is mind-boggling: 107.7 million people living in one massive, sprawling region (video). "Traffic is a nightmare, both above ground and under," Richie said. "The massive amount of subway lines and subway stations are still congested during all times of the day in all neighborhoods of each and every mega-city in the region. The roadways are clogged at all times, but people still persist in trying to use them."

+ - This 'SimCity 4' Region With 107 Million People Took Eight Months of Planning

Submitted by Jason Koebler
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "Peter Richie spent eight months planning and building a megacity in vanilla SimCity 4, and the end result is mind-boggling: 107.7 million people living in one massive, sprawling region.
"Traffic is a nightmare, both above ground and under," Richie said. "The massive amount of subway lines and subway stations are still congested during all times of the day in all neighborhoods of each and every mega-city in the region. The roadways are clogged at all times, but people still persist in trying to use them.""

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