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+ - How we'll someday be able to see past the Cosmic Microwave Background

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang writes: When it comes to the farthest thing we can see in the Universe, that’s the Cosmic Microwave Background, or the leftover glow from the Big Bang, emitted when the Universe was a mere 380,000 years old. But what, exactly, does this mean? Does it mean that we’re seeing the “edge” of the Universe? Does it mean that there’s nothing to see, farther back beyond it? Does it mean that, as time goes on, we’re going to be able to see farther back in time and space? The answers are no, no, and yes, respectively. If we want to see farther than ever before, we've got two options: either wait for more time to pass, or get moving and build that cosmic neutrino background detector.

+ - What Does Iowa Do With 33 Million Dead Chickens? 2

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: Stephanie Strom writes in the NYT that deadly avian flu viruses have affected more than 33 million turkeys, chickens and ducks since December and while farmers in Asia and elsewhere have had to grapple with avian flu epidemics, farmers in the United States have never confronted a health crisis among livestock like this one. Almost every day brings confirmation by the Agriculture Department that at least another hundred thousand or so birds must be destroyed; some days, the number exceeds several million.

Mounds and mounds of carcasses have piled up in vast barns in the northwestern corner of Iowa, where farmers and officials have been appealing for help to deal with disposal of such a vast number of flocks. Workers wearing masks and protective gear have scrambled to clear the barns, but it is a painstaking process. In these close-knit towns that include many descendants of the area’s original Dutch settlers, some farmers have resorted to burying dead birds in hurriedly dug trenches on their own land, while officials weighed using landfills and mobile incinerators. Federal lawmakers from Iowa called on the Agriculture Department to do more to help farmers with the culling and disposal of birds. The federal agency has made tens of millions of dollars available for assistance, and noted that it is deploying hundreds of staff members, including 85 in Iowa. Iowa, where one in every five eggs consumed in the country is laid, has been the hardest hit: More than 40 percent of its egg-laying hens are dead or dying. Many are in this region, where barns house up to half a million birds in cages stacked to the rafters. The high density of these egg farms helps to explain why the flu, which can kill 90 percent or more of a flock within 48 hours, is decimating more birds in Iowa than in other states. “It’s important that we get that done fairly soon and we need landfills to be reasonable in terms of the charges they’re assessing and willing to take these birds,” says US Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “But at some point in time we’ve basically got to get rid of these birds because otherwise we’re going to begin to have some other issues in terms of odor and flies and things of that nature that people are obviously not going to want to deal with.”

+ - What to Say When the Police Tell You to Stop Filming Them 3

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com writes: Robinson Meyer writes in The Atlantic that first of all, police shouldn’t ask. “As a basic principle, we can’t tell you to stop recording,” says Delroy Burton, a 21-year veteran of DC's police force. “If you’re standing across the street videotaping, and I’m in a public place, carrying out my public functions, [then] I’m subject to recording, and there’s nothing legally the police officer can do to stop you from recording.” What you don’t have a right to do is interfere with an officer's work. "“Police officers may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations,” according to Jay Stanley who wrote the ACLU’s “Know Your Rights” guide for photographers, which lays out in plain language the legal protections that are assured people filming in public. Police officers may not confiscate or demand to view your digital photographs or video without a warrant and police may not delete your photographs or video under any circumstances.

What if an officer says you are interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations and you disagree with the officer? “If it were me, and an officer came up and said, ‘You need to turn that camera off, sir,’ I would strive to calmly and politely yet firmly remind the officer of my rights while continuing to record the interaction, and not turn the camera off," says Stanley. The ACLU guide also supplies the one question those stopped for taking photos or video may ask an officer: "The right question to ask is, ‘am I free to go?’ If the officer says no, then you are being detained, something that under the law an officer cannot do without reasonable suspicion that you have or are about to commit a crime or are in the process of doing so. Until you ask to leave, your being stopped is considered voluntary under the law and is legal."

+ - Carbon dioxide hits 400ppm

Submitted by mrflash818
mrflash818 writes: For the first time since we began tracking carbon dioxide in the global atmosphere, the monthly global average concentration of this greenhouse gas surpassed 400 parts per million in March 2015, according to NOAA’s latest results.


+ - Ancestery.com caught sharing DNA database with government->

Submitted by SonicSpike
SonicSpike writes: In 1996, a young woman named Angie Dodge was murdered in her apartment in a small town in Idaho. Although the police collected DNA from semen left at the crime scene, they haven’t been able to match the DNA to existing profiles in any criminal database, and the murder has never been solved.

Fast forward to 2014. The Idaho police sent the semen sample to a private lab to extract a DNA profile that included YSTR and mtDNA—the two genetic markers used to determine patrilineal and matrilineal relationships (it’s unclear why they reopened the case after nearly 20 years). These markers would allow investigators to search some existing databases to try to find a match between the sample and genetic relatives.

The cops chose to use a lab linked to a private collection of genetic genealogical data called the Sorenson Database (now owned by Ancestry.com), which claims it’s “the foremost collection of genetic genealogy data in the world.” The reason the Sorenson Database can make such an audacious claim is because it has obtained its more than 100,000 DNA samples and documented multi-generational family histories from “volunteers in more than 100 countries around the world.”

Sorenson promised volunteers their genetic data would only be used for “genealogical services, including the determination of family migration patterns and geographic origins” and would not be shared outside Sorenson.

Despite this promise, Sorenson shared its vast collection of data with the Idaho police. Without a warrant or court order, investigators asked the lab to run the crime scene DNA against Sorenson’s private genealogical DNA database. Sorenson found 41 potential familial matches, one of which matched on 34 out of 35 alleles—a very close match that would generally indicate a close familial relationship. The cops then asked, not only for the “protected” name associated with that profile, but also for all “all information including full names, date of births, date and other information pertaining to the original donor to the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy project.”

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Some good data... (Score 5, Insightful) 434

by Todd Palin (#49625081) Attached to: Google Can't Ignore the Android Update Problem Any Longer

I'm not too sure that having the latest OS is the consumer's highest priority. For me it is getting a phone without bloatware. I want a phone that doesn't have dozens of apps that I can't delete and I'm not even sure what they do. If I want a Blockbuster app, I'll download it myself. Seriously, my last phone had a Blockbuster app that couldn't be deleted, despite Blockbuster being long dead. I now have an Amazon Cloud app that can't be deleted, and uses some of my data everyday despite the fact that I have never used the app.

Ask you carrier about bloatware and they will say that they are sorry, but they can't fix it.

Comment: Re:should be a long time for most people (Score 1) 125

by Todd Palin (#49608149) Attached to: I've had my current ISP (disregarding mergers) for ...

Yes. I have had Charter for a long time, only because I have no other real choice. I have actually considered DSL and wireless as options because I hate Charter so much, but I stay after I really think about how awful DSL and wireless would be. Charter sucks, but not as much as DSL and wireless.

Comment: Re:We should be studying this now (Score 1) 105

by Todd Palin (#49597455) Attached to: Climatologist Speaks On the Effects of Geoengineering

"maybe we don't know everything there is to know about geoengineering"

That is the understatement of the year. More like, we know almost nothing about geo-engineering. The reason we know almost nothing is that we have only studied a few dozen accidental effects on the climate from human activities. We have these accidental effects, and we have computer models. While I concede that the computer models have gotten quite good lately, I certainly would not bet the planet's future on their ability to accurately predict unintended consequences. So, that leaves what? Are you proposing that we try some trial and error experiments? If you are to get much data from this it would have to be huge. It has taken a century of burning fossil fuels as fast as we can get it out of the ground to get us into this mess. What kind of trial do you suggest?

Comment: Re:Geo-engineering is intrinsically riskier (Score 3, Insightful) 105

by Todd Palin (#49595879) Attached to: Climatologist Speaks On the Effects of Geoengineering

I wish I had some mod points for you. This is exactly the issue. Our climate system is incredibly complex, and new complexities are always being added to climate models as we discover them. The geo-engineering solutions might look good in one dimension, but have virtually infinite potential forks that lead to unintended consequences. The real question is, Are we willing to try a geo-engineering solution that is certain to have unimaginable unintended consequences? Unfortunately, the answer is probably yes. There are many stories about various schemes that have been implemented and produced profound unintended consequences, so it is obvious that that won't stop folks from trying it.

Comment: Re:"...no reason to think it couldn’t..." (Score 1) 152

by Todd Palin (#49541243) Attached to: Yellowstone Supervolcano Even Bigger Than We Realized

Actually, it is close to certain that this chamber will erupt eventually. Eventually, on the geologic time scale, could be a really long time from now, on a human time scale. The Snake River Plains were formed by an eruption from this very system about 11 million years ago. That was long before our ancestors became human, so it really was a long time ago. When it does erupt again, the humans might be long gone. Or, maybe not.

+ - Facebook and Instagram are down->

Submitted by sixthousand
sixthousand writes: As of 1:30AM EST Facebook and Instagram are widely reported being down. It is yet unclear whether this is a localized or global outage. A statement was released at 1:51AM EST on the Instagram Twitter account which reads: "We're aware of an outage affecting Instagram and are working on a fix. Thank you for your patience." Could this be the result of excessive usage caused by homebound users across the northeast due to winter storm Juno?
Link to Original Source

+ - Childhood neglect erodes the brain->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit writes: In perhaps the most famous study of childhood neglect, researchers have closely tracked the progress, or lack of it, in children who lived as infants in Romania’s bleak orphanages and are now teenagers. A new analysis now shows that these children, who display a variety of behavioral and cognitive problems, have less white matter in their brains than do a group of comparable children in local families. The affected brain regions include nerve bundles that support attention, general cognition, and emotion processing. The work suggests that sensory deprivation early in life can have dramatic anatomical impacts on the brain and may help explain the previously documented long-term negative affects on behavior. But there’s some potential good news: A small group of children who were taken out of orphanages and moved into foster homes at age 2 appeared to bounce back, at least in brain structure.
Link to Original Source

+ - EFF Unveils Plan For Ending Mass Surveillance-> 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a detailed, global strategy for ridding ourselves of mass surveillance. They stress that this must be an international effort — while citizens of many countries can vote against politicians who support surveillance, there are also many countries where the citizens have to resort to other methods. The central part of the EFF's plan is: encryption, encryption, encryption. They say we need to build new secure communications tools, pressure existing tech companies to make their products secure against everyone, and get ordinary internet-goers to recognize that encryption is a fundamental part of communication in the surveillance age. They also advocate fighting for transparency and against overreach on a national level. "[T]he more people worldwide understand the threat and the more they understand how to protect themselves—and just as importantly, what they should expect in the way of support from companies and governments—the more we can agitate for the changes we need online to fend off the dragnet collection of data." The EFF references a document created to apply the principles of human rights to communications surveillance, which they say are "our way of making sure that the global norm for human rights in the context of communication surveillance isn't the warped viewpoint of NSA and its four closest allies, but that of 50 years of human rights standards showing mass surveillance to be unnecessary and disproportionate."
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Humanity has the stars in its future, and that future is too important to be lost under the burden of juvenile folly and ignorant superstition. - Isaac Asimov