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Science

Researchers At Brown University Shattered a Quantum Wave Function 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-step-on-the-pieces dept.
Jason Koebler writes: A team of physicists based at Brown University has succeeded in shattering a quantum wave function. That near-mythical representation of indeterminate reality, in which an unmeasured particle is able to occupy many states simultaneously, can be dissected into many parts. This dissection, which is described this week in the Journal of Low Temperature Physics, has the potential to turn how we view the quantum world on its head. Specifically, they found it's possible to take a wave function and isolate it into different parts. So, if our electron has some probability of being in position (x1,y1,z1) and another probability of being in position (x2,y2,z2), those two probabilities can be isolated from each other, cordoned off like quantum crime scenes.
Education

Tech Giants Donate $750 Million In Goods and Services To Underprivileged Schools 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
mrspoonsi sends news that a group of major tech companies has combined to donate $750 million worth of gadgets and services to students in 114 schools across the U.S. Apple is sending out $100 million worth of iPads, MacBooks, and other products. O'Reilly Media is making $100 million worth of educational content available for free. Microsoft and Autodesk are discounting software, while Sprint and AT&T are offering free wireless service. This is part of the ConnectED Initiative, a project announced by the Obama Administration last year to bring modern technology to K-12 classrooms. The FCC has also earmarked $2 billion to improve internet connectivity in schools and libraries over the next two years. Obama also plans to seek funding for training teachers to utilize this infusion of technology.
The Internet

Ask Slashdot: Unlimited Data Plan For Seniors? 169

Posted by timothy
from the goldarned-internet dept.
New submitter hejman08 writes with a question probably faced by many whose parents, grandparents, and other relatives rely on them for tech support and advice, specifically one about finding an appropriate data plan for his grandmother, of whom he writes: She is on her own plan through Verizon with 1GB of data, and she literally blows through it in three days or less every month, then complains about having nothing to do. They have Wi-Fi at her senior center, but only in specific rooms, and she has bad ankles and knees so she wants to stay home. Internet service would cost 80 a month to add where she lives. What I am wondering, is if any of the genius slashdotters out there know of a plan that- regardless of cost of phone, which we could manage as a gift to her, once- would allow her to have at least 300 minutes, 250 texts, and truly unlimited data (as in none of that Unlimited* stuff that is out there where they drop you to caveman speeds within a gig of usage), all for the price of less than say, 65 a month? The big 4 carriers don't seem to have anything that would work for her. What would you recommend? (I might start with a signal repeater in a utility closet, myself, or some clandestine CAT5 from a friendly neighbor's place.)
The Internet

20 More Cities Want To Join the Fight Against Big Telecom's Broadband Monopolies 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the internet-of-the-people dept.
Jason Koebler writes At least 20 additional American cities have expressed a formal interest in joining a coalition that's dedicated to bringing gigabit internet speeds to their residents by any means necessary—even if it means building the infrastructure themselves. The Next Centuries Cities coalition launched last week with an impressive list of 32 cities in 19 states who recognize that fast internet speeds unencumbered by fast lanes or other tiered systems are necessary to keep residents and businesses happy. That launch was so successful that 20 other cities have expressed formal interest in joining, according to the group's executive director.
Science

The Problem With Positive Thinking 157

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-that-optimists dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The NY Times explains research into how our mindset can influence results. The common refrain when striving for a goal is to stay positive and imagine success — people say this will help you accomplish what you want. But a series of psychological experiments show such thinking tends to have exactly the opposite effect. "In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, we asked two groups of college students to write about what lay in store for the coming week. One group was asked to imagine that the week would be great. The other group was just asked to write down any thoughts about the week that came to mind. The students who had positively fantasized reported feeling less energized than those in the control group. As we later documented, they also went on to accomplish less during that week." This research has been replicated across many types of people and many different goals.

Building on that research, the scientists developed a thought process called "mental contrasting," where people are encouraged to think about their dreams coming true only for a few minutes before dedicating just as much time to thinking about the obstacles they'll have to deal with. Experiments have demonstrated that subjects using these techniques were more successful at things like exercise and maintaining a healthy diet than a control group. "[D]reaming about the future calms you down, measurably reducing systolic blood pressure, but it also can drain you of the energy you need to take action in pursuit of your goals."
AI

Machine Learning Expert Michael Jordan On the Delusions of Big Data 145

Posted by samzenpus
from the listen-up dept.
First time accepted submitter agent elevator writes In a wide-ranging interview at IEEE Spectrum, Michael I. Jordan skewers a bunch of sacred cows, basically saying that: The overeager adoption of big data is likely to result in catastrophes of analysis comparable to a national epidemic of collapsing bridges. Hardware designers creating chips based on the human brain are engaged in a faith-based undertaking likely to prove a fool's errand; and despite recent claims to the contrary, we are no further along with computer vision than we were with physics when Isaac Newton sat under his apple tree.
The Internet

Will Fiber-To-the-Home Create a New Digital Divide? 291

Posted by samzenpus
from the have-and-have-nots dept.
First time accepted submitter dkatana writes Having some type of fiber or high-speed cable connectivity is normal for many of us, but in most developing countries of the world and many areas of Europe, the US, and other developed countries, access to "super-fast" broadband networks is still a dream. This is creating another "digital divide." Not having the virtually unlimited bandwidth of all-fiber networks means that, for these populations, many activities are simply not possible. For example, broadband provided over all-fiber networks brings education, healthcare, and other social goods into the home through immersive, innovative applications and services that are impossible without it. Alternatives to fiber, such as cable (DOCSYS 3.0), are not enough, and they could be more expensive in the long run. The maximum speed a DOCSYS modem can achieve is 171/122 Mbit/s (using four channels), just a fraction the 273 Gbit/s (per channel) already reached on fiber.
Hardware

FTDI Reportedly Bricking Devices Using Competitors' Chips. 697

Posted by Soulskill
from the playing-dirty dept.
janoc writes It seems that chipmaker FTDI has started an outright war on cloners of their popular USB bridge chips. At first the clones stopped working with the official drivers, and now they are being intentionally bricked, rendering the device useless. The problem? These chips are incredibly popular and used in many consumer products. Are you sure yours doesn't contain a counterfeit one before you plug it in? Hackaday says, "It’s very hard to tell the difference between the real and fake versions by looking at the package, but a look at the silicon reveals vast differences. The new driver for the FT232 exploits these differences, reprogramming it so it won’t work with existing drivers. It’s a bold strategy to cut down on silicon counterfeiters on the part of FTDI. A reasonable company would go after the manufacturers of fake chips, not the consumers who are most likely unaware they have a fake chip." Update: 10/24 02:53 GMT by S : In a series of Twitter posts, FTDI has admitted to doing this.
Robotics

Robot SmackDowns Wants To Bring Robot Death Matches To an Arena Near You 82

Posted by timothy
from the only-if-I-get-to-drive dept.
Business Insider profiles Andrew Stroup, Gui Cavalcanti and Matt Oehrlein, who are trying to get off the ground a robot competition league, called Robot SmackDowns. The idea, as you might guess from the name, is to showcase violence and drama to draw on the crowd-appeal of wrestling, NASCAR, and monster truck rallies: this is definitely not Dean Kamen's FIRST — it's giant mechanical beasts shooting at and otherwise trying to destroy each other. And it's not quite right to call them robots in the usual sense; they're more like mecha: "In a MegaBots battle, a two-member team sits inside the bot's upper torso, where the controls systems are housed. Although the co-founders assure me that the pilot and gunner are well protected inside, the situation presents a heightened suspense. Each 15,000-pound robot is equipped with six-inch cannons inside its arms that fire paint-filled missiles and cannon balls at 120 miles per hour. Good aim can cause enough damage to jam its opponent's weapons system or shoot off a limb." They'll be launching a Kickstarter campaign soon; according to the article, "Assuming it raises enough money to build a fleet, [the company's] plan is to take the bots on the road. They will tour the country, face off in epic battles against other MegaBots, and build a fan base. Stroup says (without giving specifics) networks have reached out and will closely watch how MegaBot, Inc.'s upcoming Kickstarter campaign performs. The possibilities for distribution seem endless, though the team is tight-lipped about the exact direction it's headed."
Science

Oxytocin Regulates Sociosexual Behavior In Female Mice 216

Posted by timothy
from the take-two-of-these-and-I'll-make-breakfast-in-the-morning dept.
Chipmunk100 writes In a research article in the journal Cell scientists report that there is a subset of neurons that are vital in social interest of female mice for males during estrus, the sexually receptive phase of their cycle. They say that these neurons are responsive to oxytocin. The level of oxytocin rise when we hug or kiss a loved one. The BBC has an article on the findings as well, and reports that Without [oxytocin], female mice were no more attracted to a mate than to a block of Lego ... [The affected] neurons are situated in the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain important for personality, learning and social behaviour. Both when the hormone was withheld and when the cells were silenced, the females lost interest in mating during oestrous, which is when female mice are sexually active.
Linux

What's Been the Best Linux Distro of 2014? 303

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-the-flamewar-begin dept.
An anonymous reader writes With 23% of the year remaining, Linux Voice has donned flameproof clothing to subjectively examine what it feels have been the best distros of the year so far, including choices for beginners, desktop fashionistas and performance fetishists, before revealing a surprising overall winner.
United Kingdom

Brits Must Trade Digital Freedoms For Safety, Says Crime Agency Boss 264

Posted by Soulskill
from the those-who-trade-liberty-for-security dept.
bestweasel writes: The Guardian has an interview with Keith Bristow, the head of the National Crime Agency, (sometimes called Britain's FBI, apparently) in which he says, "Britons must accept a greater loss of digital freedoms in return for greater safety from serious criminals and terrorists." He also mentions pedophiles, of course. The article seems to cover just the highlights of the interview, but in another quote he says that for "policing by consent," the consent is "expressed through legislation." While this might sound reassuring, it's coupled with the Home Secretary's call last week for greater mass surveillance powers. Presumably whoever wins power in the elections next year will claim that this gives them the required consent (that's democracy, folks!) and pass the laws.
Stats

Nearly 700 Genetic Factors Found To Influence Human Adult Height 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-much-for-genetic-height-therapy dept.
damn_registrars writes: A consortium of scientists from many different countries reviewed genome-wide association study data sets of over 250,000 individuals in a search for genetic factors that influence adult height. Looking at Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, the researchers found 697 distinct genetic markers that can explain some 20 percent of the heritability of human adult height. Previous studies had found around 180 such markers, but the larger sample set increased the ability to detect these changes, both within genes and in non-coding regions. Genes found in this set included ones from pathways not previously connected to skeletal growth.

This study is also significant for the sample size, which allows it to address whether the data from such large sets has a tendency to converge or diverge on genetic pathways; this study particularly favors the latter, which is of great utility toward studying other polygenetic conditions in the future. The original paper is likely paywalled, however the abstract is available for free and some of the collaborators behind it have other bits available for free in the meantime.
AI

One In Three Jobs Will Be Taken By Software Or Robots By 2025, Says Gartner 405

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-took-our-jobs! dept.
dcblogs writes: "Gartner predicts one in three jobs will be converted to software, robots and smart machines by 2025," said Peter Sondergaard, Gartner's research director at its big Orlando conference. "New digital businesses require less labor; machines will make sense of data faster than humans can," he said. Smart machines are an emerging "super class" of technologies that perform a wide variety of work, both the physical and the intellectual kind. Machines, for instance, have been grading multiple choice test for years, but now they are grading essays and unstructured text. This cognitive capability in software will extend to other areas, including financial analysis, medical diagnostics and data analytic jobs of all sorts, says Gartner. "Knowledge work will be automated."

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