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Medicine

Death Toll at 4 In NYC Legionnaire's Outbreak 13 13

Reuters reports that four people have died of Legionnaire's Disease in an outbreak in the Bronx, and 65 more have exhibited symptoms of the disease. The Bronx was also home to the most recent flare-up of the disease, in December of last year. Says the article, In response to the outbreak, the city's health department has inspected 22 buildings in the Bronx, 17 of which have cooling towers. Five buildings, including the historic Opera House Hotel, Lincoln Medical Center and the Concourse Plaza mall and movie complex, tested positive for Legionella. Disinfection efforts are ongoing or have already been completed at all five sites. ... The people who died from the disease were older adults with underlying medical problems, according to a city press release. The department said the city's drinking water supply, fountains and pools have not been affected.
United States

Germany Won't Prosecute NSA, But Bloggers 107 107

tmk writes: Despite plenty of evidence that the U.S. spied on German top government officials, German Federal Prosecutor General Harald Range has declined to investigate any wrongdoings of the secret services of allied nations like the NSA or the British GCHQ. But after plans of the German secret service "Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz" to gain some cyper spy capabilities like the NSA were revealed by the blog netzpolitik.org, Hange started an official investigation against the bloggers and their sources. They are now being probed for possible treason charges.
Biotech

Genetically Modified Rice Makes More Food, Less Greenhouse Gas 294 294

Applehu Akbar writes: A team of researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences has engineered a barley gene into rice, producing a variety that yields 50% more grain while producing 90% less of the powerful greenhouse gas methane. The new rice pulls off this trick by putting more of its energy into top growth. In countries which depend on rice as a staple, this would add up to a really large amount of increased rice and foregone methane.
Biotech

Study: Certain Vaccines Could Make Diseases More Deadly 195 195

sciencehabit writes: New research suggests that vaccines that don't make their hosts totally immune to a disease and incapable of spreading it to others might have a serious downside. According to a controversial study by Professor Andrew Read these so-called "imperfect" or "leaky" vaccines could sometimes teach pathogens to become more dangerous. Sciencemag reports: "The study is controversial. It was done in chickens, and some scientists say it has little relevance for human vaccination; they worry it will reinforce doubts about the merits or safety of vaccines. It shouldn't, says lead author Andrew Read, a biologist at Pennsylvania State University, University Park: The study provides no support whatsoever for the antivaccine movement. But it does suggest that some vaccines may have to be monitored more closely, he argues, or supported with extra measures to prevent unintended consequences."
NASA

German Scientists Confirm NASA's Controversial EM Drive 512 512

MarkWhittington writes: Hacked Magazine reported that a group of German scientists believe that they have confirmed that the EM Drive, the propulsion device that uses microwaves rather than rocket fuel, provides thrust. The experimental results are being presented at the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics' Propulsion and Energy Forum in Orlando by Martin Tajmar, a professor and chair for Space Systems at the Dresden University of Technology. Tajmar has an interest in exotic propulsion methods, including one concept using "negative matter."
Medicine

Malaria Vaccine Passes Key Regulatory Hurdle 34 34

An anonymous reader writes: The BBC reports that the European Medicines Agency has approved the world's first malaria vaccine for real-world use. The vaccine is far from perfect, and the World Health Organization still has to make a final decision on it, but it's a key victory for GlaxoSmithKline, who have been developing the vaccine for three decades. "The best protection was among children aged five to 17 months who received three doses of the vaccine a month apart, plus a booster dose at 20 months. In this group, cases of severe malaria were cut by a third over four years." Unfortunately, the boosters are quite necessary for protection, and it doesn't protect young babies from malaria. The disease "kills around 584,000 people a year worldwide, most of them children under five in sub-Saharan Africa."
United States

US House Committee Approves Anti-GMO Labeling Law 446 446

An anonymous reader writes: The House Agriculture Committee approved a measure banning mandatory GMO labeling as well as local efforts to regulate genetically engineered crops. The decision is a major victory for U.S. food companies and other opponents of labeling genetically modified foods. "This... legislation will ensure that Americans have accurate, consistent information about their food rather than a 50 state patchwork of labeling laws that will only prove costly and confusing for consumers, farmers and food manufacturers," said Pamela Bailey, CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), said in a statement.
Earth

Double-Dynamo Model Predicts 60% Fall In Solar Output In The 2030s 249 249

sycodon points out reports of a new model of solar dynamics from University of Northumbria professor Valentina Zharkova, predictions from which "suggest that solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the 'mini ice age' that began in 1645." Zharkova's model, based on observation of solar magnetism, "draws on dynamo effects in two layers of the Sun, one close to the surface and one deep within its convection zone." Zharkova’s and her colleages at three other universities believe that this two-layer model "could explain aspects of the solar cycle with much greater accuracy than before — possibly leading to enhanced predictions of future solar behaviour. “We found magnetic wave components appearing in pairs; originating in two different layers in the Sun’s interior. They both have a frequency of approximately 11 years, although this frequency is slightly different [for both] and they are offset in time.”
Transportation

Simple Geometry = More Seats In an Airline 394 394

New submitter innerpeace writes: New airline seat arrangement looks to increase passenger capacity. A patent application by Zodiac Seats France calls for a design that puts every other passenger in a row facing backward. That means that in a row of three fliers, the seat by the window and the seat by the aisle face toward the front of the plane while the middle seat faces toward the back. The design idea could fit up to 80 more passengers in a plane, depending on the current seat layout. Whatever downsides it has, if such a design is adopted, I hope it leads to a stronger adoption of a convention that those with window seats board first.
The Almighty Buck

A 'Star Trek' Economic System May Be Closer Than You Think 503 503

HughPickens.com writes: Anna North writes about "Star Trek'"s "post-economic" system, in which money no longer exists and anything you want can be made in a replicator, essentially for free. According to Manu Saadia, the author of "Trekonomics," a forthcoming book about the economics of the "Star Trek" universe, when everything is free objects will no longer be status symbols. Success will be measured in achievements, not in money: ""Instead of working to become more wealthy, you work to increase your reputation," says Saadia. "You work to increase your prestige. You want to be the best captain or the best scientist in the entire galaxy. And many other people are working to do that, as well. It's very meritocratic."

In a time of rising inequality and stagnating wages, a world where everyone's needs are met and people only work if they feel like it seems pretty far away but a post-scarcity economy is actually far more within reach than the technological advances for which "Star Trek" is better known. If productivity growth continues, Saadia believes there will be much more wealth to go around in a few hundred years' time. In general, society might look more like present-day New Zealand, which he sees as less work-obsessed than the United States: "You work to live rather than the other way round." Wealthy retirees today also already live an essentially post-money existence, "traveling and exploring and deepening their understanding of the world and being generally happy." According to Saadia we're beginning to get a few hints of what the post-money, reputation-based economy might look like. "If you look at things like Instagram, Vine, places where people put a huge amount of work into basically just gaining a certain amount of reputation, it's fascinating to see. Or even Wikipedia, for that matter. The Internet has begun to give us a hint of how much people will work, for no money, just for reputation."
Education

Are Certifications Worth the Time and Money? 296 296

Nerval's Lobster writes: Having one or more certifications sounds pretty sensible in today's world, doesn't it? Many jobs demand proof that you've mastered a particular technology. But is the argument for spending lots of time and money to earn a certification as ironclad as it seems? In a new column, developer David Bolton argues 'no.' Most certifications just prove you can pass tests, he argues, not mastery of a particular language or platform; and given the speed at which technology evolves, most are at risk of becoming quickly outdated. Plus they aren't the sole determiner of whether you can actually land a job: 'Recruiters sometimes have trouble determining a developer's degree of technical experience, and so insist upon certificates or tests to judge abilities. If you manage to get past them to the job interview, the interviewer (provided they're also a developer) can usually get a good feel for your actual programming ability and whether you'll fit well with the group.' Are certifications mostly a rip-off, or are some (especially the advanced ones) actually useful, as many people insist?
Television

Harry Shearer Returns To the Simpsons 100 100

jones_supa writes: Fans of The Simpsons will find this turn of events nothing short of excellent: seven weeks after saying he was done with Fox's endless animated comedy, Harry Shearer has agreed to rejoin the show. Shearer has now signed the same four-season contract as the other five primary voice actors. He previously tweeted, "I wanted what we've always had: the freedom to do other work." Executive producer Al Jean found that tweet confusing, saying, "Everybody on the show does lots of outside projects. He actually gets to record on the phone and do the [table] reads on the phone. So we've never kept him from doing that stuff."
Star Wars Prequels

Han Solo To Get His Own Star Wars Movie Prequel 227 227

New submitter alaskana writes: According to Starwars.com, Han Solo will be getting his own movie prequel. The film will purportedly tell the story of a young Han Solo and how he came to be the wily smuggler that shows up in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. The film is set to be directed by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord (of The Lego Movie fame) and written by Lawrence and Jon Kasdan. Get your popcorn and tickets ready, as the movie is set to debut May 25, 2018.
Security

Hacking Team Scrambling To Limit Damage Brought On By Explosive Data Leak 95 95

An anonymous reader writes: Who hacked Hacking Team, the Milan-based company selling intrusion and surveillance software to governments, law enforcement agencies and (as it turns out) companies? A hacker who goes by "Phineas Fisher" claims it was him (her? them?). In the meantime, Hacking Team is scrambling to minimize the damage this hack and data leak is doing to the company. They sent out emails to all its customers, requesting them to shut down all deployments of its Remote Control System software ("Galileo") — even though it seems they could do that themselves, as the customer software apparently has secret backdoors. Perhaps they chose the first route because they hoped to keep that fact hidden from the customers? And because every copy of Hacking Team's Galileo software is secretly watermarked, the leaked information could allow researchers to link a certain backdoor to a specific customer.
Medicine

Ask Slashdot: Have You Tried a Standing Desk? 340 340

An anonymous reader writes: Evidence is piling up that sitting down all day is really bad for you. I work primarily from home, and as I grow older, I'm starting to worry about long term consequences to riding a desk full-time. We talked about this a few years ago, but the science has come a long way since then, and so have the options for standing desks. My questions: do you use a standing desk? What kind of setup do you have? There are a lot of options, and a lot of manufacturers. Further studies have questioned the wisdom of standing all day, so I've been thinking about a standing/sitting combo, and just switching every so often. If you do this, do you have time limits or a particular frequency with which you change from sitting to standing?

I'm also curious about under-desk treadmills — I could manage slowly walking during parts of my work, and the health benefits are easy to measure. Also, any ergonomic tips? A lot of places seem to recommend: forearms parallel to the ground, top of monitor at eye level, and a pad for under your feet. Has your experience been the same? Those of you who have gone all-out on a motorized setup, was it worth the cost? The desks are dropping in price, but I can still see myself dropping upward of $1k on this, easily.

6.023 x 10 to the 23rd power alligator pears = Avocado's number

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