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Comment: Re:What is the significance here? (Score 2) 60

by hey! (#48231075) Attached to: Building All the Major Open-Source Web Browsers

File it under "stuff that matters".

A lot of arguments for open source are based on things which people outside the project could in principle accomplish, but in practice seldom do. So it's reassuring at least that an experienced developer can build the two most popular browsers from scratch. It means the arguments aren't hollow. I've seen closed source projects that were purchased by companies, only to find out that getting them to build on any computer but the one it was developed on is a serious engineering challenge.

That the process of building these browsers from scratch is somewhat arcane will come as no surprise to any experienced developer. But that it's not so arcane that it's impractical to figure out is good news.

+ - When Snowden speaks, future lawyers (and judges) listen->

Submitted by TheRealHocusLocus
TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) writes "We are witness to an historic 'first': an individual charged with espionage and actively sought by the United States government has been (virtually) invited to speak at Harvard Law School, with applause. HLS Professor Lawrence Lessig conducted the hour-long interview last Monday with a list of questions by himself and his students.

Some interesting jumps are Snowden's assertion that mass domestic intercept is an 'unreasonable seizure' under the 4th Amendment, it also violates 'natural rights' that cannot be voted away even by the majority, a claim that broad surveillance detracts from the ability to monitor specific targets such as the Boston Marathon bombers, calls out Congress for not holding Clapper accountable for misstatements, and laments that contractors are exempt from whistleblower protection though they do swear an oath to defend the Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic. These points have been brought up before. But what may be most interesting to these students is Snowden's suggestion that a defendant under the Espionage act be permitted to present an argument before a jury that the act was committed "in the public interest". Could this pure-judicial move help ensure a fair trial for whistleblowers whose testimony reveals Constitutional violation?

Professor Lessig wraps up the interview by asking Snowden, Hoodies or Suits? “Hoodies all the way. I hope in the next generation we don't even have suits anymore, they're just gone forever.”"

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Is that unreasonable? (Score 1) 222

by hey! (#48230459) Attached to: High Speed Evolution

Is it unreasonable for the average height of a population to grow by 7" in twenty generations? I should think so. But if you changed your initial conditions somewhat, maybe less unreasonable.

There are roughly 400 genes known to influence height. Imagine we have a small, isolated population that does not interbreed with other populations -- say on an isolated island. This population's average male height is, say 175 cm for men -- roughly the same as the average American. However the population contains all the alleles neede to generate individuals approacing 7' in height. We then take our population and put them under evolutionary pressure; let's say we shoot everyone who reaches the age of 16 and is below average height. It wouldn't many generations for that population's average height to become quite tall, as "tall genes" begin to predominate.

Let's change that initial condition by stipulating that there are no "tall genes" in the initial population. It's still average height, but maybe it lacks both "tall genes" and "short genes". It would be surprising if the genetic height potential for a newborn changed very quickly, because you've got to wait for a lot of "lucky" mutations and twenty generations is not that long.

Let's go back to our successful initial conditions and change something else. This time the population has all the necessary alleles to produce super-tall people, but it interbreeds extensively with a large external population which is not subject to our culling protocol. Under these conditions the population's height increase will be slow, or non-existent depending on the rate at which individuals interbreed with populations not under pressure.

The bottom line: it depends.

+ - Profits! Profits! Profits! Ballmer Says Amazon Isn't a Real Business

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "According to Steve Ballmer, Amazon.com is not a real business. “They make no money,” Ballmer said on the Charlie Rose Show. “In my world, you’re not a real business until you make some money. I have a hard time with businesses that don’t make money at some point.” Ballmer’s comments come as Amazon posted a $437 million loss for the third quarter, disappointing Wall Street. "If you are worth $150 billion," Ballmer added, "eventually somebody thinks you’re going to make $15 billion pre-tax. They make about zero, and there’s a big gap between zero and 15." Fired-up as ever, LA Clippers owner Ballmer's diss comes after fellow NBA owner Mark Cuban similarly slammed IBM, saying Big Blue is no longer a tech company (Robert X. Cringely seems to concur). "Today, they [IBM] specialize in financial engineering," Cuban told CNBC after IBM posted another disappointing quarter. "They're no longer a tech company, they are an amalgamation of different companies that they are trying to arb[itrage] on Wall Street, and I'm not a fan of that at all.""

+ - More brainlessness from Ebola experts and government operatives

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "A doctor, having just returned from Guinea where he was frequently exposed to ebola, wandered about New York City for days, thus ignoring government protocols that required him to limit his contact with outsiders.

Lo and behold, 9 days after his return he is diagnosed with Ebola.

However, this isn't the worst of it. The police, after securing the doctor's apartment, removed their gloves and masks used to protect them and dumped them in an ordinary street trash container on a public street."

Comment: Should be VERY USEFUL for gene & stem cell the (Score 1) 45

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48226945) Attached to: Detritus From Cancer Cells May Infect Healthy Cells

This should be REALLY USEFUL - for gene therapy and stem cell therapy.

One of the big problems with such therapies is how to deliver the modified genes or regulators to the target cells, without converting them to something that would be rejected or otherwise have unintended markers or modifications.

One approach is to deliver genes or regulatory chemicals via a modified virius or using viral capsid proteins to construct an "injector". (A family of methods for turning harvested somatic cells into toti/pluri/multi/unipotent stem cells consists of inserting four regulatory proteins - by inserting about four GENES THAT CODE FOR THEM via a modified virus.)

Now here we have a a method, already used by the body, to transport RNA signalling snippets and other factors from one cell into another, by a sending cell creating virus-like carrier particles that destination cells readily accept and absorb.

THAT looks like an IDEAL basis for building a carrier for regulatory factors to switch cell modes on and off, or to tote new genetic material into a target cell for incorporation, to correct genetic errors or supply lost genes:

  1) Make fake exosomes carrying the message you want to deliver.
  2) Inject them into the tissue you want to affect.
  3) Rewrite the state or code of the target cells.
  4) Cure disease (or otherwise augment the patient's health).
  5) PROFIT!

Comment: But I bet it's descended from a virus. (Score 1) 45

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48226881) Attached to: Detritus From Cancer Cells May Infect Healthy Cells

Viruses by definition contain genetic code from outside the host organism.

On the other hand, just as some organelles (i.e. mitochondria, chloroplasts) are apparently the remnant of a microbial infection or ancient symbiosis that became integrated, there are several cellular mechanisms that are apparently remnants of an ancient retrovirus infection, where the bulk of the viral genome was lost but one of its mechanisms was retained and adapted to perform some useful new function.

I'd be willing to bet this is another example of such an

Comment: Not necessarily. (Score 1) 45

by Ungrounded Lightning (#48226835) Attached to: Detritus From Cancer Cells May Infect Healthy Cells

No, you'd have to be inbred with the cancer 'donor' to not reject their cancer as readily as you'd reject an organ transplant from them.

Not necessarily.

These things aren't carrying the full-blown genome. They're carrying little bits of it - like regulatory switches (or something that functions like that). They ought to be able, occasionally, to covert another person's cells JUST FINE without also marking them as any more foreign than an equivalent cancer naturally arising in that person.

+ - Verizon Injects Unique IDs into HTTP Traffic

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest wireless carrier, is now also a real-time data broker. According to a security researcher at Stanford, Big Red has been adding a unique identifier to web traffic. The purpose of the identifier is advertisement targeting, which is bad enough. But the design of the system also functions as a 'supercookie' for any website that a subscriber visits."
Science

Decades-old Scientific Paper May Hold Clues To Dark Matter 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-scientists-become-hoarders dept.
sciencehabit writes: Here's one reason libraries hang on to old science journals: A paper from an experiment conducted 32 years ago may shed light on the nature of dark matter, the mysterious stuff whose gravity appears to keep the galaxies from flying apart. The old data put a crimp in the newfangled concept of a 'dark photon' and suggest that a simple bargain-basement experiment could put the idea to the test. The data come from E137, a "beam dump" experiment that ran from 1980 to 1982 at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California. In the experiment, physicists slammed a beam of high-energy electrons, left over from other experiments, into an aluminum target to see what would come out. Researchers placed a detector 383 meters behind the target, on the other side of a sandstone hill 179 meters thick that blocked any ordinary particles.

Comment: Re:This is silly (Score 1) 662

For example, FedEx and UPS could not handle the volumes of packages that each handles per day without automation.

OTOH, FedEx and UPS don't look like the sort of places where you'd want to eat.

McDonalds took a 30% hit in earnings. It didn't help that they were passing out pamphlets to employees on how to apply for food stamps. I had a friend who took her kids there all the time, but even she was revolted when she heard that and they never went there again.

Comment: Re:my thoughts (Score 1) 350

by hey! (#48218699) Attached to: NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

That's because you use ridiculously vaguye language like "easy to transmit". You need to specify the conditions under which the potential transmission takes place. What peoiple don't realize is just how primitive conditions are in Africa, and what a difference it makes. These are countries where medical providers re-use latex gloves, sometimes even hypodermic needles. Granted, this guy was part a medical mission that probably had all the protective equipment, but you have to keep in mind that the primitive conditions that preceded them meant that there have been some TEN THOUSAND cases in the region.

It's immensely labor intensive to take care of an Ebola patient, especially with the precautions required by close contact., but the overwhelming numbers introduces yet another deadly risk factor: fatigue.

So yes, I suppose you could say the medical personnel who contracted Ebola are stupid because they made a mistake under pressure. But what about the rest of us? This epidemic should never have got big enough to pose a global concern. It was our choice to cut the CDC's emergency preparedness budget to a billion dollars below the FY 2002 mark.

All constants are variables.

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