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Submission + - Wind power now cheapest energy in UK and Germany, no subsidies needed. (bloomberg.com)

Socguy writes: Bloomburg reports wind has now crossed the threshold to become the cheapest source of energy in both the UK and Germany. Notable because this is the first time it has occurred in a G7 country. In the US, wind and Solar have started biting into the capacity factor of fossil fuel driven plants as generators opt to idle plants more often in favor of nearly free renewable energy. This is leading to changes in the lifetime profitability of those plants.

Submission + - Steve Wozniak Projects AI Will Become Smarter Than Humans, Keep Us As Pets (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: No matter what your opinion is of Steve Wozniak, there is little doubt he's one of the most influential people in the history of Personal Computing. Often times noted for making bold enthusiastic claims, especially when it comes to the advancement of technology in every day life, Woz may have stepped slightly off the deep end in a recent interview where he projected the advancement of AI (Artificial Intelligence) so capable that it would be smarter than humans and eventually turn us into pets of the Internet of Things. Woz also joked, "I got this idea a few years ago and so I started feeding my dog filet steak and chicken every night because, do unto others." The projection was made for hundreds of years in the future and Woz doesn't necessarily view it as a bad thing because he feels AI would want to take care of us and "make things nice for humans."

Submission + - 'Armored lizard' was ancestor of today's turtles (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: It’s a primitive turtle, but it looks nothing like today’s dome-shelled reptiles. Resembling a broad-bodied, short-snouted lizard, the 240-million-year-old creature—dubbed Pappochelys rosinae—appears to be a missing link between prototurtles and their modern relatives, according to a new study. If so, the find could fill in a number of pieces about turtle evolution.

Submission + - Legendary Demonoid BitTorrent Tracker Apparently Back Online (torrentfreak.com) 1

Freshly Exhumed writes: TorrentFreak has broken the news that after more than a year of downtime the Demonoid tracker came back online on January 9, 2014. The tracker is linked to nearly 400,000 torrent files and more than a million peers, which makes it one of the largest working BitTorrent trackers on the Internet. There is no word yet on when the site will make a full comeback, but the people behind it say they are working to revive one of the most famous file-sharing communities. As the single largest semi-private BitTorrent tracker that ever existed, Demonoid used to offer a home to millions of file-sharers. Note that this is apparently the original Demonoid and not the d2 site that claims to be using the Demonoid database.

Submission + - North Carolina destroys historical records .. (wordpress.com)

An anonymous reader writes: North Carolina destroys historical records ..

on Friday, December 6, 2013, at 6:00 in the evening (after all the county workers had left, and with no notice to the local historical group involved in the project), a team from the North Carolina Archives swept in and confiscated ALL the materials – with the cover of Law Enforcement! They took the documents to the County Incinerator, and methodically burned EVERYTHING. They did this while a few locals stood by, not understanding why or precisely what was happening.

Submission + - Peakl Oil Threat Gone - Era of Cheap Biofuels finaly here?

Bodhammer writes: Pacific Northwest Nation Labs has developed a new technology that turns algae to crude in an hour. This press release http://www.pnnl.gov/news/release.aspx?id=1029 describes process and the partner they have selected for the pilot plant. The process is efficient and produces crude oil which can be traditionally refined, clean water, gas which can be burned or cleaned to make LNG, and nutrients that can go back into the process. Is this the end of the Peak Oil threat?

Submission + - Edward Snowden's coworker refutes NSA claims (forbes.com)

wannabegeek2 writes: check for dupes.

in an article which purportedly was carefully verified, a former coworker states that the NSA's current PR blitz amounts to a smear campaign against Mr. Snowden. Further, he describes him as a genius among genius's, who was given the access he needed by the NSA, and did not need to steal or dupe his coworkers to obtain passwords to accomplish his task.

Submission + - Child 'training' book triggers backlash

mrspoonsi writes: BBC Reports: A child-raising book that advocates whipping with branches and belts has sold hundreds of thousands of copies to evangelical Christians. But the deaths of three children whose parents appear to have been influenced by the authors' teachings have provoked a growing backlash. The implements can vary. For a child under one year old, a willowy branch or a 1ft (30cm) ruler is recommended. For older children, a larger branch or a belt. But the objective of the "spanking" described in Michael and Debi Pearl's To Train Up a Child is the same — making children surrender completely to their parents' will. Like other people who have witnessed Michael Pearl's advice being put into practice, Hannah says her parents were seduced by the idea of a simple formula that would make their children compliant. "The problem is that [Pearl] tells you you have to break your children," she says. "And to get there you have to be completely ruthless." To Train Up a Child is widely seen as the most extreme of the publications produced by conservative Christians in the US who advocate corporal punishment.

Submission + - OpenSSH has a new cipher, chacha20-poly1305, from D.J. Bernstein!

ConstantineM writes: Inspired by a recent Google initiative to adopt ChaCha20 and Poly1305 for TLS, OpenSSH developer Damien Miller has added a similar protocol to ssh, chacha20-poly1305@openssh.com, which is based on D. J. Bernstein algorithms that are specifically optimised to provide the highest security at the lowest computational cost, and not require any special hardware at doing so. Some further details are in his blog, and at undeadly. The source code of the protocol is remarkably simple — less than 100 lines of code!

Submission + - Why Drone Package Delivery Will Be A Nightmare For Law Enforcement (forbes.com) 1

SonicSpike writes: Law enforcement may already be gritting its teeth over the idea of legal drone delivery. Being able to send things by drone could be hugely disruptive to the existing mail system: a peer-to-peer postal service that cuts out the USPS and FedEx. That’s fine when Amazon is shipping out books, but what about the kind of deliveries that law enforcement wants to be able to track? The existing postal system is full of surveillance.

If drones took off (heh) as a private way to send packages and letters over short or long distances, law enforcement would lose an important crime-fighting tool: their surveillance of the mail system. Much like electronic communication has gone “dark” thanks to encryption tools, the postal system could go “dark” thanks to private robot postmen.

This may sound far-fetched, but private, illicit drone deliveries are already happening. Last month, three men and a woman were caught smuggling tobacco into a Georgia prison. They used an Octocopter to do it. Unfortunately for them, their drone wasn’t an autonomous one and they had to crouch in the woods near the prison yard and watch the flight of their copter with binoculars. If it had been an autonomous drone, they may well have gotten away with the crime, and the smugglers wouldn’t be facing up to 20 years in their drone delivery zone for crossing prison guard lines with contraband.

Submission + - Large-scale trial of driverless cars to begin on open roads (telegraph.co.uk)

SonicSpike writes: Volvo is to introduce 100 driverless cars on to public roads as part of the world’s first large-scale autonomous driving pilot.

The cars will drive in normal, everyday road conditions, surrounded by pedestrians and other traffic, and will even be able to self-park, as the Swedish car-maker (which is now under Chinese ownership) attempts to demonstrate the benefits, including improved safety and efficiency, of self-driving cars.

Volvo is working alongside the Swedish Transport Administration, The Swedish Transport Agency, Lindholmen Science Park and the City of Gotehenburg, with the goal of placing both it and Sweden as leaders in the development of future mobility.

Submission + - The Quietest Place on Earth Will Cause You to Hallucinate in 45 Minutes

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Industry Tap reports that there is a place so quiet you can hear your heart beat, your lungs breathe and your stomach digest. It's the anechoic chamber at Orfield Labs in Minnesota where 3ft of sound-proofing fiberglass wedges and insulated steel and concrete absorbs 99.99% of sound, making it the quietest place in the world. "When it’s quiet, ears will adapt," says the company’s founder and president, Steven Orfield. "The quieter the room, the more things you hear. You'll hear your heart beating, sometimes you can hear your lungs, hear your stomach gurgling loudly. In the anechoic chamber, you become the sound." The chamber is used by a multitude of manufacturers, to test how loud their products are and the space normally rents for $300 to $400 an hour. "It's used for formal product testing, for research into the sound of different things — heart valves, the sound of the display of a cellphone, the sound of a switch on a car dashboard." But the strangest thing about the chamber is that sensory deprivation makes the room extremely disorienting, and people can rarely stay in the dark space for long. As the minutes tick by in absolute quiet, the human mind begins to lose its grip, causing test subjects to experience visual and aural hallucinations. "We challenge people to sit in the chamber in the dark — one reporter stayed in there for 45 minutes," says Orfield who says even he can't stand the quiet for more than about 30 minutes. Nasa uses a similar chamber to test its astronauts putting them in a water-filled tank inside the room to see "how long it takes before hallucinations take place and whether they could work through it".

Submission + - File-Sharing Site Was Actually an Anti-Piracy Honeypot (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The administrator of file-sharing site UploaderTalk shocked and enraged his userbase a few days ago when he revealed that the site was nothing more than a honeypot set up by a company called Nuke Piracy. The main purpose of the site had been to gather data on its users. The administrator said, 'I collected info on file hosts, web hosts, websites. I suckered shitloads of you. I built a history, got the trust of some very important people in the warez scene collecting information and data all the time.' Nobody knows what Nuke Piracy is going to do with the data, but it seems reasonable to expect lawsuits and the further investigation of any services the users discussed. His very public betrayal is likely meant to sow discord and distrust among the groups responsible for distributing pirated files.

Submission + - Olfactory test in diagnosing the Alzheimer's disease (ufl.edu)

Taco Cowboy writes: Most Alzheimer's patients has their sense of smell affected, with the left nostril significantly more impaired than the right.

The experiment involved capping one nostril and measuring the distance at which the patient could detect about a tablespoon of peanut butter. In some Alzheimer's patients, the left nostril was impaired so thoroughly that, on average, it had 10 centimeters less range than the right, in terms of odor detection.

Of the 24 patients tested who had mild cognitive impairment, which sometimes signals Alzheimer’s disease and sometimes turns out to be something else, about 10 patients showed a left nostril impairment and 14 patients did not

Peanut butter was used because it's a so-called " pure odorant "

Generally our sense of smell actually incorporates two distinct sensations: the olfactory sense, or smell, as well as a trigeminal sense, which is like a more physical burning or stinging sort of sense. Peanut butter has no trigeminal element; it's only olfactory, which makes it ideal for testing, as the link to Alzheimer's is specifically dealing with the olfactory sense

This test could be used by clinics that don’t have access to the personnel or equipment to run other, more elaborate tests required for a specific diagnosis, which can lead to targeted treatment.

The peanut butter test would be a useful tool to add to a full suite of clinical tests for neurological function in patients with memory disorders.

Submission + - 'Dramatic' Drop In Global HIV Infections (bbc.co.uk)

dryriver writes: The number of HIV infections and Aids-related deaths has fallen dramatically, according to a UN report. Death rates fell from 2.3 million during its peak in 2005 to 1.6 million last year, says UNAIDS. The number of new HIV infections fell by a third since 2001 to 2.3 million. Among children, the drop was even steeper. In 2001 there were more than half a million new infections. By 2012 the figure had halved to just over a quarter of a million. The authors put the fall in deaths and infection rates in children down to better access to antiretroviral drugs which help suppress the virus. Without treatment, people with HIV can go on to develop Aids which makes simple infections deadly. By the end of 2012 almost 10m people in low and middle income countries, including South Africa, Uganda and India, were accessing antiretroviral therapy, according to the report. The improved access is being attributed to drugs being more affordable and available in communities, as well as more people coming forward for help. According to UNAIDS, the world is "closing in" on its Millennium Development Goals to stop and reverse the Aids epidemic by 2015.

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