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Wind Power Now Cheapest Energy In UK and Germany; No Subsidies Needed 223

Socguy writes: Bloomberg reports wind power has now crossed the threshold to become the cheapest source of energy in both the UK and Germany. This is notable because it's the first time this has occurred in a G7 country. In the U.S., wind and solar are still massively overshadowed by the power generated from fossil fuel plants, but the percentage is creeping up. It's gotten to the point where it's starting to affect the lifetime profitability of new plants.

The Mutant Genes Behind the Black Death 93

An anonymous reader writes: Each year, 4 million people visit Yosemite National Park in California. Most bring back photos, postcards and an occasional sunburn. But two unlucky visitors this summer got a very different souvenir. They got the plague. This quintessential medieval disease, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis and transmitted most often by fleabites, still surfaces in a handful of cases each year in the western United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its historical record is far more macabre. The plague of Justinian from 541 to 543 decimated nearly half the population in the Mediterranean, while the Black Death of the Middle Ages killed one in every three Europeans.

Now researchers are beginning to reveal a surprising genetic history of the plague. A rash of discoveries show how just a small handful of genetic changes — an altered protein here, a mutated gene there — can transform a relatively innocuous stomach bug into a pandemic capable of killing off a large fraction of a continent.

The most recent of these studies, published in June, found that the acquisition of a single gene named pla gave Y. pestis the ability to cause pneumonia, causing a form of plague so lethal that it kills essentially all of those infected who don't receive antibiotics. In addition, it is also among the most infectious bacteria known. "Yersinia pestis is a pretty kick-ass pathogen," said Paul Keim, a microbiologist at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. "A single bacterium can cause disease in mice. It's hard to get much more virulent than that."

Submission + - Future Smartphone Ideas and Technology (

Ran Zhou writes: What will smartphones look like in ten years from now? What kind of technology will be implemented in the phone? This article will give you the slight images on what smartphone can do in the future.

Larry Wall Unveils Perl 6.0.0 139

An anonymous reader writes: Last night Larry Wall unveiled the first development release of Perl 6, joking that now a top priority was fixing bugs that could be mistaken for features. The new language features meta-programming — the ability to define new bits of syntax on your own to extend the language, and even new infix operators. Larry also previewed what one reviewer called "exotic and new" features, including the sequence operator and new control structures like "react" and "gather and take" lists. "We don't want their language to run out of steam," Larry told the audience. "It might be a 30- or 40-year language. I think it's good enough."

Team Constructs Silicon 2-qubit Gate, Enabling Construction of Quantum Computers ( 90

monkeyzoo writes: A team at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney has made a crucial advance in quantum computing. Their advance, appearing in the journal Nature (abstract), demonstrated a two-qubit logic gate — the central building block of a quantum computer — and, significantly, did it in silicon. This makes the building of a quantum computer much more feasible, since it is based on the same manufacturing technology as today's computer industry. Until now, it had not been possible to make two quantum bits 'talk' to each other — and thereby create a logic gate — using silicon. But the UNSW team — working with Professor Kohei M. Itoh of Japan's Keio University — has done just that for the first time. The result means that all of the physical building blocks for a silicon-based quantum computer have now been successfully constructed, allowing engineers to finally begin the task of designing and building a functioning quantum computer.
Open Source

Matthew Garrett Forks the Linux Kernel 638

jones_supa writes: Just like Sarah Sharp, Linux developer Matthew Garrett has gotten fed up with the unprofessional development culture surrounding the kernel. "I remember having to deal with interminable arguments over the naming of an interface because Linus has an undying hatred of BSD securelevel, or having my name forever associated with the deepthroating of Microsoft because Linus couldn't be bothered asking questions about the reasoning behind a design before trashing it," Garrett writes. He has chosen to go his own way, and has forked the Linux kernel and added patches that implement a BSD-style securelevel interface. Over time it is expected to pick up some of the power management code that Garrett is working on, and we shall see where it goes from there.

International Exploit Kit Angler Thwarted By Cisco Security Team 36

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers at a Cisco security unit have successfully interrupted the spread of a massive international exploit kit which is commonly used in ransomware attacks. The scientists discovered that around 50% of computers infected with Angler were connecting with servers based at a Dallas facility, owned by provider Limestone Networks. Once informed, Limestone cut the servers from its network and handed over the data to the researchers who were able to recover Angler authentication protocols, information needed to disrupt future diffusion.

Submission + - Tim Cook Is Not a Fan of Microsoft's Windows 10 Strategy (

jones_supa writes: We live in a world where all tech companies out there struggle to innovate and find new ways to interconnect their devices and Microsoft is definitely trying hard. But as far as Apple is concerned, melting together all platforms is not seen as a good idea. Speaking at a conference with Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, Apple's CEO Tim Cook commented on the future of the company's desktop and tablet platforms, explaining that for the moment, there's no intention to merge the two. "We don't believe in having one operating system for PC and mobile. We think it subtracts from both, and you don't get the best experience from either. We're very much focused on two," Cook said.

Submission + - Is The 21st Century The Century Of Religion? (

angelastirlingas4 writes: Vivekananda International Forum on Hindu-Buddhist global initiatives in conflict avoidance and environmental consciousness Twenty years ago I was invited to give an open lecture at St Gallen, the prestigious Swiss university, on the theme of Chinaâ(TM)s emergence in the global market economy. This was not as banal a subject as it [...]
The Almighty Buck

When Fraud Detection Shuts Down Credit Cards Inappropriately 341

reifman writes: On Sunday, Capital One declined a $280 travel reservation I charged at India-based and immediately shut off my card for all transactions until I contacted them by phone. It wasn't the first time that CapitalOne had shut off my card after a single suspect transaction. But, I'd actually purchased from using my CapitalOne card on two prior occasions. It was an example of very poor fraud detection and led me on a tour of their pathetic customer service. The banks want to cut their losses regardless of how it impacts their customers. Having had my own credit card suspended out of an abundance of caution on a different credit card issuer's part (for legitimate charges), but having recently had some widely known scam charges get accepted, the fraud protection algorithms that the credit companies use certainly seem inscrutable sometimes, and so do the surrounding practices about communicating with customers. How would you like it to work instead?

Submission + - Study Finds Poor People More Likely to Die in Car Crashes writes: Emily Badger and Christopher Ingraham report at the Washington Post that new research finds that improvements in road safety since the 1990s haven't been evenly shared with fatality rates actually increasing for people 25 and older with less than a high school diploma. In 1995, death rates — adjusted for age, sex and race — were about 2.5 times higher for people at the bottom of the education spectrum than those at the top. By 2010, death rates for the least educated were about 4.3 times higher than for the most educated. According to Badger and Ingraham, the underlying issue is not that a college degree makes you a better driver. Rather, the least-educated tend to own cars that are older and have lower crash-test ratings and those with less education are likely to earn less and to have the money for fancy safety features such as side airbags, automatic warnings and rear cameras. Poor people are also more likely to live in areas where infrastructure is crumbling and have less political clout to get anything done about dangerous road conditions.

The role of behavioral differences is murkier. Some studies show lower seat-belt use among the less-educated, but seat-belt use has also increased faster among that group over time, meaning socioeconomic differences there are narrowing. Badger and Ingraham conclude that "as we increasingly fantasize about new technologies that will save us from our own driving errors — cars that will brake for us, or spot cyclists we can't see, or even take over all the navigation — we should anticipate that, at first, those benefits may mostly go to the rich."

Legionnaires' Bacteria Reemerges In Previously Disinfected Cooling Towers 118

schwit1 writes with the New York Times' unsettling report that 15 water-cooling towers in the Bronx that this week tested positive for Legionnaires' disease had been disinfected less than two months ago. From the NYT: After an outbreak of the disease killed 12 people in July and August in the South Bronx, the city required every building with cooling towers, a common source of the Legionella bacteria that cause the disease, to be cleaned within two weeks. ... [The] city found this week that bacteria had regrown in at least 15 towers that had been cleaned recently in the Morris Park section of the Bronx. The testing occurred after a fresh outbreak in that area that has killed one person and sickened at least 12, and spurred an order from health officials for the towers to be disinfected again.

Submission + - The Decline of 'Big Soda': Is Drinking Soda the New Smoking? writes: Margot Sanger-Katz reports in the NYT that soda consumption is experiencing a serious and sustained decline as sales of full-calorie soda in the United States have plummeted by more than 25 percent over the past twenty years. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they are actively trying to avoid the drinks that have been a mainstay of American culture but bottled water is now on track to overtake soda as the largest beverage category in two years. The changing patterns of soda drinking appear to come thanks, in part, to a loud campaign to eradicate sodas. School cafeterias and vending machines no longer contain regular sodas. Many workplaces and government offices have similarly prohibited their sale.

For many public health advocates, soda has become the new tobacco — a toxic product to be banned, taxed and stigmatized. “There will always be soda, but I think the era of it being acceptable for kids to drink soda all day long is passing, slowly,” says Marion Nestle. “In some socioeconomic groups, it’s over.” Soda represents nearly 25% of the U.S. beverage market and its massive scale have guaranteed profit margins for decades. Historically, beverage preferences are set in adolescence, the first time that most people begin choosing and buying a favorite brand. But the declines in soda drinking appear to be sharpest among young Americans. "Kids these days are growing up with all of these other options, and there are some parents who say, ‘I really want my kids to drink juice or a bottled water,’ ” says Gary A. Hemphill. “If kids grow up without carbonated soft drinks, the likelihood that they are going to grow up and, when they are 35, start drinking is very low.”

"Live or die, I'll make a million." -- Reebus Kneebus, before his jump to the center of the earth, Firesign Theater