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Science

Scientists Say the Future Looks Bleak For Our Bones 39

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-bones-about-it dept.
HughPickens.com writes Nicholas St. Fluer reports at The Atlantic that according to researchers, our convenient, sedentary way of life is making our bones weak foretelling a future with increasing fractures, breaks, and osteoporosis. For thousands of years, hunter-gatherers trekked on strenuous ventures for food with dense skeletons supporting their movements and a new study pinpoints the origin of weaker bones at the beginning of the Holocene epoch roughly 12,000 years ago, when humans began adopting agriculture. "Modern human skeletons have shifted quite recently towards lighter—more fragile, if you like—bodies. It started when we adopted agriculture. Our diets changed. Our levels of activity changed," says Habiba Chirchir. A second study attributes joint bone weakness to different levels of physical activity in ancient human societies, also related to hunting versus farming.

The team scanned circular cross-sections of seven bones in the upper and lower limb joints in chimpanzees, Bornean orangutans and baboons. They also scanned the same bones in modern and early modern humans as well as Neanderthals, Paranthropus robustus, Australopithecus africanus and other Australopithecines. They then measured the amount of white bone in the scans against the total area to find the trabecular bone density. Crunching the numbers confirmed their visual suspicions. Modern humans had 50 to 75 percent less dense trabecular bone than chimpanzees, and some hominins had bones that were twice as dense compared to those in modern humans. Both studies have implications for modern human health and the importance of physical activity to bone strength. "The lightly-built skeleton of modern humans has a direct and important impact on bone strength and stiffness," says Tim Ryan. That's because lightness can translate to weakness—more broken bones and a higher incidence of osteoporosis and age-related bone loss. The researchers warn that with the deskbound lives that many people lead today, our bones may have become even more brittle than ever before. "We are not challenging our bones with enough loading," says Colin Shaw, "predisposing us to have weaker bones so that, as we age, situations arise where bones are breaking when, previously, they would not have."
Businesses

Comcast-TWC Merger Review On Hold 79

Posted by Soulskill
from the checking-their-bona-fides dept.
An anonymous reader writes: When the U.S. Federal Communications Commission began reviewing the merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, it imposed a 180-day deadline on the review process. The agency has now pushed that deadline back a few weeks after learning that TWC withheld over 7,000 documents they shouldn't have. TWC originally claimed the documents fall under attorney-client privilege, but that appears not to be the case.

Perhaps more disturbing, the article says another 31,000 documents "went missing" because of a vendor error. (Perhaps even more disturbing is that this is a drop in the bucket compared to the sum total of information TWC dumped on the FCC — apparently over 5 million pages. How they can be expected to properly review that much material is beyond me.)

The FCC is also ready to close the public comment period for the merger, during which over 600,000 comments were filed. Critics are making their final arguments and Comcast is tallying up all the nice things people (and paid public relations agencies) had to say.
Lord of the Rings

Ars: Final Hobbit Movie Is 'Soulless End' To 'Flawed' Trilogy 312

Posted by Soulskill
from the things-you'll-pay-for-even-though-you-know-you'll-hate dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The final chapter to Peter Jackson's series of films based on The Hobbit debuted last week, and the reviews haven't been kind. Ars Technica just posted theirs, and it highlights all the problems with Battle of the Five Armies, a two-hour and twenty-four minute film based on only 72 pages of the book. Quoting: "The battles in Battle of the Five Armies are deadly boring, bereft of suspense, excessively padded, and predictable to the point of being contemptuous of the audience. Suspense is attempted mostly by a series of last-minute saves and switches. ... There are other problems. Everyone in this movie takes themselves way too seriously, which makes them even harder to sympathize with. Peter Jackson leans way too hard on voice modulation to make characters seem menacing or powerful. The movie's tone is still way out of step with the book's tone. ... There's one big thing that doomed these movies from the outset — the fiscally smart but artistically bankrupt decision to make a single, shortish children's novel into three feature-length prequel films." Other review titles: "Peter Jackson Must Be Stopped," "The Phantom Menace of Middle Earth," and "Lots of Fighting, Not Much Hobbit."
China

Serious Economic Crisis Looms In Russia, China May Help 250

Posted by Soulskill
from the blame-the-bears dept.
jones_supa writes: Russia is facing a "full-blown economic crisis," a former finance minister has warned, as the country is forced to take emergency financial measures. The economy has been battered by a wave of sanctions (set by other countries as a result of tensions over Ukraine), geopolitical uncertainty, and falling oil prices. Analysts have warned that the Russian economy will not improve in the long run until the aforementioned conditions have also improved. The Central Bank of Russia said that a plan to loan Trust bank an amount of up to 30bn rubles ($54m) had been approved. Trust bank has run a series of advertisements featuring actor Bruce Willis in Russia, along with the ironic quote: "When I need money, I just take it." Anna Stupnytska, an economist at Fidelity Solutions, said that "the risk of a sovereign default is low, it's the corporate sector where the main vulnerabilities lie, and banking in particular. Due to sanctions, companies cannot refinance their debt as access to international markets has been essentially cut off." Reader hackingbear adds: Two Chinese ministers offered support for Russia as President Vladimir Putin seeks to shore up the plummeting ruble without depleting foreign-exchange reserves. Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said expanding a currency swap between the two nations and making increased use of the yuan for bilateral trade would have the greatest impact in aiding Russia. Western governments and experts have been criticizing China for restricting exchange and suppressing the value of its currency, even though anyone who lived in China during the 1990's knew that the value of the yuan was cut to align with the (vibrant) black market. But as grandma has warned us, we should be careful of what we wish for. China has greatly sped up the relaxation of currency exchange and is promoting the yuan as an alternative to the dollar for global trade and finance. They've signed currency-swap agreements with 28 other central banks to encourage this. Once accomplished, and backed by China's growing military might, Renminbi would be a formidable competitor to U.S. Dollar, which would hamper the U.S's ability to borrow almost freely with banks around the world.
Movies

"Star Trek 3" To Be Helmed By "Fast & Furious" Franchise Director Justin Lin 317

Posted by timothy
from the just-this-guy-you-know dept.
Dave Knott writes Although J.J. Abrams directed the first two films in the popular revamped Star Trek series, his new job masterminding the Star Wars sequels had left Star Trek 3 as one of the most prestigious unfilled directing assignments in Hollywood. No longer. It is now known that Justin Lin will direct the third Star Trek film. Lin is best known for revitalizing the long-running Fast & Furious series, helming the third through sixth films in that franchise. Several top-flight directors were under consideration for Star Trek 3, but Lin was the only one actually offered the job, following the postponement of the Bourne Legacy sequel that he had previously been set to direct.
Networking

Hotel Group Asks FCC For Permission To Block Some Outside Wi-Fi 283

Posted by timothy
from the just-baby-steps dept.
alphadogg writes The FCC will soon decide whether to lay down rules regarding hotels' ability to block personal Wi-Fi hotspots inside their buildings, a practice that recently earned Marriott International a $600,000 fine. Back in August, Marriott, business partner Ryman Hospitality Properties and trade group the American Hotel and Lodging Association asked the FCC to clarify when hotels can block outside Wi-Fi hotspots in order to protect their internal Wi-Fi services. From elsewhere in the article: During the comment period, several groups called for the agency to deny the hotel group’s petition. The FCC made clear in October that blocking outside Wi-Fi hotspots is illegal, Google’s lawyers wrote in a comment. “While Google recognizes the importance of leaving operators flexibility to manage their own networks, this does not include intentionally blocking access to other commission-authorized networks, particularly where the purpose or effect of that interference is to drive traffic to the interfering operator’s own network,” they wrote.
OS X

Apple Pushes First Automated OS X Security Update 111

Posted by timothy
from the little-cat-feet dept.
PC Magazine reports (as does Ars Technica) that Apple this week has pushed its first automated security update, to address critical flaws relating to Network Time Protocol: The flaws were revealed last week by the Department of Homeland Security and the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute—the latter of which identified a number of potentially affected vendors, including FreeBSD Project, NTP Project, OmniTI, and Watchguard Technologies, Inc. A number of versions of the NTP Project "allow attackers to overflow several buffers in a way that may allow malicious code to be executed," the Carnegie Mellon/DHS security bulletin said. ... The company's typical security patches come through Apple's regular software update system, and often require users to move through a series of steps before installing. This week's update, however, marks Cupertino's first implementation of its automated system, despite having introduced the function two years ago, Reuters said.
United Kingdom

BT, Sky, and Virgin Enforce UK Porn Blocks By Hijacking Browsers 283

Posted by timothy
from the big-enough-to-give-you-what-you-want dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this story at Ars Technica, excerpting: BT, Sky, and Virgin Media are hijacking people's web connections to force customers to make a decision about family-friendly web filters. The move comes as the December deadline imposed by prime minister David Cameron looms, with ISPs struggling to get customers to say yes or no to the controversial adult content blocks. The messages, which vary by ISP, appear during browser sessions when a user tries to access any website. BT, Sky,TalkTalk and Virgin Media are required to ask all their customers if they want web filters turned on or off, with the government saying it wants to create a "family friendly" Internet free from pornography, gambling, extreme violence and other content inappropriate for children. But the measures being taken by ISPs have been described as "completely unnecessary" and "heavy handed" by Internet rights groups. The hijacking works by intercepting requests for unencrypted websites and rerouting a user to a different page. ISPs are using the technique to communicate with all undecided customers. Attempting to visit WIRED.co.uk, for example, could result in a user being redirected to a page asking them about web filtering. ISPs cannot intercept requests for encrypted websites in the same way.
Upgrades

Samsung Announces Production of 20nm Mobile LPDDR4, Faster Than Desktop DDR4 41

Posted by timothy
from the leapfrog-is-fun dept.
MojoKid writes Samsung announced today that it has begun volume production of its 8Gb LPDDR4 memory chips, with expected commercial shipments in 2015. The announcement is noteworthy for a number of reasons. First, one of the most important characteristics of a modern mobile device is its battery life, and moving to a new memory standard should significantly reduce the memory subsystem's power consumption. Second, however, there's the clock speed. Samsung is claiming that its LPDDR4 will hit 3.2GHz, and while bus widths on mobile parts are significantly smaller than the 64-bit channels that desktops use, the higher clock speed per chip will help close that gap. In fact, multiple vendors have predicted that LPDDR4 clock speeds will actually outpace standard DDR4, with a higher amount of total bandwidth potentially delivered to tablets and smartphones than conventional PCs will see. In addition, the power savings are expected to be substantial.
Movies

'Citizenfour' Producers Sued Over Edward Snowden Leaks 160

Posted by Soulskill
from the indicting-a-ham-sandwich dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this news from The Hollywood Reporter: Horace Edwards, who identifies himself as a retired naval officer and the former secretary of the Kansas Department of Transportation, has filed a lawsuit in Kansas federal court that seeks a constructive trust over monies derived from the distribution of Citizenfour. Edwards ... seeks to hold Snowden, director Laura Poitras, The Weinstein Co., Participant Media and others responsible for "obligations owed to the American people" and "misuse purloined information disclosed to foreign enemies." It's an unusual lawsuit, one that the plaintiff likens to "a derivative action on behalf of the American Public," and is primarily based upon Snowden's agreement with the United States to keep confidentiality. ... Edwards appears to be making the argument that Snowden's security clearance creates a fiduciary duty of loyalty — one that was allegedly breached by Snowden's participation in the production of Citizenfour without allowing prepublication clearance review. As for the producers and distributors, they are said to be "aiding and abetting the theft and misuse of stolen government documents." The lawsuit seeks a constructive trust to redress the alleged unjust enrichment by the film. A 1980 case that involved a former CIA officer's book went up to the Supreme Court and might have opened the path to such a remedy.
The Courts

Argentine Court Rules Orangutan Is a "Non-Human Person" 183

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-wanna-be-like-you-hoo-hoo dept.
First time accepted submitter Andrio writes In an unprecedented decision, an Argentine court has ruled that the Sumatran orangutan 'Sandra', who has spent 20 years at the zoo in Argentina's capital Buenos Aires, should be recognized as a person with a right to freedom. The ruling, signed by the judges unanimously, would see Sandra freed from captivity and transferred to a nature sanctuary in Brazil after a court recognized the primate as a "non-human person" which has some basic human rights. The Buenos Aires zoo has 10 working days to seek an appeal." A similar case involving chimpanzees failed to provide "non-human person" status here in the U.S. earlier this month.
Security

South Korean Power Plants To Conduct Cyber-Attack Drills Following Hack 39

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
An anonymous reader writes South Korea's nuclear operator has been targeted in a cyber-attack, with hackers threatening people to 'stay away' from three of the country's nuclear reactors should they not cease operations by Christmas. The stolen data is thought to be non-critical information, and both the company and state officials have assured that the reactors are safe. However, KHNP has said that it will be conducting a series of security drills over the next two days at four power plants to ensure they can all withstand a cyber-attack. The hacks come amid accusations by the U.S. that North Korea may be responsible for the punishing hack on Sony Pictures. Concerns have mounted that Pyongyang may initiate cyber strikes against industrial and social targets in the U.S. and South Korea.

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