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+ - Potentially Immortal Single Cell Life form Eats, Breathes, Electrons ->

Submitted by retroworks
retroworks (652802) writes "University of Southern California, Los Angeles researchers are studying forms of bacteria, found on the sea bed, which can feed directly on electrons from electric current. Unlike any other living thing on Earth, electric bacteria use energy in its purest form – naked electricity in the shape of electrons harvested from rocks and metals. NewScientist reports on cells which make ATP, a molecule that acts as an energy storage unit for almost all living things. This life form needs no sugar or protein, it can consume electrons, from electricity, directly.

"To grow these bacteria, the team collects sediment from the seabed, brings it back to the lab, and inserts electrodes into it. First they measure the natural voltage across the sediment, before applying a slightly different one. A slightly higher voltage offers an excess of electrons; a slightly lower voltage means the electrode will readily accept electrons from anything willing to pass them off. Bugs in the sediments can either "eat" electrons from the higher voltage, or "breathe" electrons on to the lower-voltage electrode, generating a current. That current is picked up by the researchers as a signal of the type of life they have captured.""

Link to Original Source

Comment: Meat is in 2nd Link (Score 1) 82

by retroworks (#47496503) Attached to: High School Students Not Waiting For Schools To Go Online

The blog about the second link (2013 in particular doesn't really add much value.

The UCLA report, however, is pretty interesting. Many of the application strategies described were the same my daughter (entering college in September) and wife and I adapted. We told her that the mortgage crisis of 2008 was triggered by a bunch of adults who were told at 17-18 that signing student debt notes for university was rational and wise, and that it so confused people that it's no surprise they never saved to buy cars or houses and brought the whole economy down. We figured that more and more applicants were coming from overseas, which is a good thing as otherwise the middle tier colleges in the USA will collapse. Like the averages in the report, we told her to apply to many more colleges, as the cost of the application (about $100 per college) was probably less than the standard deviation between financial aid offers from the 1/4-1/3 of institutions she'd get admitted to.

If you are going to apply to college, or have kids headed that way, the report is definitely worth reading. We managed to find a way to get the full cost down to about $15K including room and board. All the things people were told to consider in choosing a college 20-30 years ago don't matter. You can choose based on selectivity, class size, strength of degree programs, etc. but aside from geography the only thing you will remember is people - roomates, classmates, bandmates, workmates, and professors - and there's no way to analyze that in advance, so just take the deal you can afford.

Comment: Tinkerer's Blessing vs. Resource Curse (Score 2) 145

The "curse of natural resources", also known as the paradox of plenty, refers to the paradox that countries and regions with an abundance of natural resources, specifically point-source non-renewable resources like minerals and fuels, tend to have less economic growth and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources. The skills to succeed are in government control of billion dollar resource control contracts, and being related to people with sharp elbows.

By contrast, nations which have succeeded despite having few natural resources - Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, etc. - usually develop from import for repair and refurbishment. Fixer economies reward problem solving skills and education. "Good enough" tech. I like Hartree's phrase "like locking the toolbox until the car is fixed" (mod him up please)

"Every man is, no doubt, by nature, first and principally recommended to his own care; and as he is fitter to take care of himself than of any other person, it is fit and right that it should be so." - Adam Smith

Comment: Bigger blackness (Score 1) 238

I moderated /. (emitted my energy). But the world is not more enlightened, because I was counter-moderated (anti-doesn't-matter). We may need this device/material to more accurately graph our lack of enlightenment, given the energy (carbon) submitted. Already available, BTW, on /. beta.

Comment: "It's just matter of time, money, and effort." (Score 5, Interesting) 91

It's well established that plenty of consumers discard or donate hard disks without taking any precautions, and are playing roulette with their identity. It's also well established that hundreds of millions of tons of this equipment is replaced, resold, stolen or discarded, and most people who wind up with the secondary device lack either the time, money, or effort to scavenge data off the phone. If in fact someone is in the identity theft business by buying phones on ebay, they'd profile themselves pretty well after a dozen phone purchases (what do these data-theft-victims have in common?). And who knows how many phones they'd have to buy which had been wiped in some way (and required more time, money and effort)?

This isn't a bad article in that it birddogs simple things you can do before selling your used phone, and if it elevates the perception of risk in order to get people to do something easy, that's appropriate. But in response to people who are shooting and burning their devices to be "100% sure" that no one spends the time, money and effort to follow them... that's appropriate if you are a high risk target. If you have stuff on your phone of interest to the FBI or KGB, the amount of time+money+effort may be less than or = the amount of risk. Your call.

But there is a lot of hyperbole out there about the percentage of identity theft which is traced to secondary market devices, and the billions of dollars in secondary market sales on sites like ebay represent time+money+effort interest in new product makers to spend fanning flames. Again it's appropriate that the article raises concerns and then points to simple efforts a consumer can take to increase the barrier-to-entry to their personal data. But the army of ebay buyers getting their porn fixes by buying and then de-encrypting cell phones to retrieve ugly selfies seems exaggerated. Warn people about sharks if they are swimming in shark infested waters, don't tell people that most swimmers will be attacked by sharks.

Tear your mail in 8 pieces and someone could dig it out of the trash and tape it together, but the time+money+effort that represents is significant. I remember people selling paper shredding equipment in the 1990s who described armies of Iranian students or Chinese peasants who could be buying torn paper and taping it back together. If they know it's the President of the USA's mail, they no doubt will expend that time+money+effort... Presidents should assume they are swimming in a shark tank. For most of us, ebay resales are a swimming pool, and warnings of shark attacks get tiresome.

+ - Dubai's Climate-Controlled "Dome City": Members Only?->

Submitted by retroworks
retroworks (652802) writes "Motherboard.vice reports on Dubai's planned 7Km "pedestrian city", complete with retractable air conditioned dome. The mega-project is projected to open at the United Arab Emirates World Expo Trade Fair (2020). Dubai's demographics — 85% expatriot imported labor (mostly Asian) — is already one of the most polarized by income level, and Motherboard finds the air conditioned cityscape artwork "dystopian". Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Rasheed, on the other hand, sees it as a move towards a tourism economy, and part of the kingdom's plan for post-petroleum. "We plan to transform Dubai into a cultural, tourist and economic hub for the two billion people living in the region around us; and we are determined to achieve our vision," Bin Rasheed explains in a press release.

Details of the "Mall of the World" project include:
- World’s largest mall occupying 8 million sq. ft. connected to 100 hotels and serviced apartments buildings with 20,000 hotel rooms
- Temperature-controlled covered retail street network spreading over 7 km
- Largest indoor family theme park in the world
- Wellness district catering to medical tourists in 3 million sq. ft."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Learned Behavior can be Passed On (Score 2, Interesting) 157

by retroworks (#47440505) Attached to: Chimpanzee Intelligence Largely Determined By Genetics
Can't remember whether I saw this on /. or another news site, but the cutting edge research on evolution has been called "neo Lamarckism". Intelligence itself can be passed on genetically. A recent "Epigenetic inheritance" study showed that mice who were taught to associate an odor with danger had baby mice who reacted strongly to the same odor. (Science Daily 12/2013). It may be that learning or education "triggers" latent genes. Lamarck may not turn out to be a Tesla, but Darwin is unfinished business.

Comment: Need fast-acting yeast (Score 2) 159

by retroworks (#47438119) Attached to: Biohackers Are Engineering Yeast To Make THC

They better act fast if they want to skirt the law with yeast, while there's still a law to break. In USA, Pot will be legal nationwide by 2018

At least that's been my bet. According to the LA Times today, the DEA in Washington is showing "fatigue" at enforcing it and the White House is ready to give up on the "war on pot".

Comment: "Don't Worry, it's only 400k volts" (Score 1) 162

by retroworks (#47430305) Attached to: Hair-Raising Technique Detects Drugs, Explosives On Human Body

This is intriguing. Jokes about tasers and cattleprods will abound, and it would definitely get plenty of late night comedy attention. But if the science is good, it will have a lot of commercial applications. As the employer of several commercial truck drivers (and a CDL who takes the tests myself), I'd be very interested in having one at the doorway of our employment office (to scare away certain substance abusing job applicants, mainly).

What it doesn't really address is the "bottleneck" equation at TSA. We've already reached the breakeven point where a suicide bomber can kill more people standing in the incoming security line of the airport than he'd kill bringing down a plane (arguably TSA is mainly a property crime and marketing psychology tool). Also I wonder what the "false positives" rates are and how many people will miss flight connections. You are going after one out of a billion flyers, it would have to either be wickedly accurate in order to achieve it's outcome, which is to redirect suicide bombers from airplanes and towards softer targets.>/p>

+ - British Airways Experiments with Electronic Mood Reading Blankets->

Submitted by retroworks
retroworks (652802) writes "From Bloomberg Businessweek: "British Airways (BAY:LN), the airline that pioneered the flat-bed seats in the 1990s, has taken the business of in-flight sleep to its next (logical? absurd?) level: The airline has developed a blanket to analyze the “meditative state” of premium cabin fliers. The wool “happiness blanket” is embedded with tiny fiber-optic LEDs that change color based on brainwaves transmitted via Bluetooth from a band worn on a passenger’s head. Blue signifies calm, peace, and relaxation and is seen most often when the person is sleeping deeply."

A British Airways video (embedded in the article) describes how its gizmo monitors "neurons in the brain" sensing when a passenger is enjoying a state of well being. Information is transferred via bluetooth to microfibers in the blanket, which turn bright red if the passenger feels anxious. Now, the video explains, British Airways knows — scientifically — that people like to sleep during their flight."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Peeping Toms in the Neighborhood (Score 4, Interesting) 268

by retroworks (#47340459) Attached to: That Toy Is Now a Drone
The article and comments miss the point. They are trying to regulate the use of the drones for peeping in neighbors yards and windows. They are trying to regulate it in a way without banning them, the over-reaction which will probably occur the first time a nude child shows up on youtube from an evil neighbor's google glasses. The CBS article - and most articles via - point out that you can buy these pocket yard drones on amazon and are more nuanced about the policy debate than the /. "government is gonna take your toys away" article.

Comment: What is the Attrition Rate at Mensa? (Score 1) 561

by retroworks (#47322715) Attached to:, Mensa Create Dating Site For Geniuses

Mensa members appear to treat IQ as a fixed point, like an SAT test score or GPA that stays in your recordbook forever. But people obviously slow down over time, or suffer psychological symptoms such as paranoia or obsession which may have a deleterious effect on IQ. Some think the act of joining Mensa itself is a contraindicator of highest intelligence (perhaps why they had to dip to 98th percentile, the top thought better of enlisting).

What dating sites actually need is not more dating sites, but a Kayak,com service where I can find dates simultaneously from MENSA,, EHarmony,, AdultFriendFinder, ChristianSingles, AshleyMadison, HinduConnections, etc., with search-by boxes for attractiveness, income, and other values-based searches. Oh wait, i think the NSA has that already, maybe we can lower the national debt by making it a paid search service.

Comment: Re:Progress (Score 5, Interesting) 268

by retroworks (#47313225) Attached to: Wikipedia Editors Hit With $10 Million Defamation Suit

Agreed. I have no problem with Wikipedia editors being sued. I recently ran across a Wikipedia biography of El Salvador ex-presidente Jose Napolean Duarte which was written atrociously, basically accusing him of being a dictator behind a military coup. I corrected the article, noting he was actually popularly elected (a mayor of San Salvador, not a military coup leader), ousted in a coup, and then brought back in a counter coup, and then again popularly elected. Had to repost it twice, it kept getting "reverted" (it did get fixed but someone has since added "His military regime is noted for large-scale human rights abuses and massacres amongst the civilian population, supported by the Reagan Administration and the Central Intelligence Agency" to the first paragraph). Sure, Duarte was criticized for accepting the invitation of the second coup, but most people feel the human rights abuses were the work of the first junta and those opposed to the Salvadoran land reforms proposed by Duarte. But who has time to fight an idiot editor?

This could get modded "off topic", I guess, but IMHO Wikipedia should encourage defamation lawsuits against its volunteer editors. The main problem is that people with extremely hostile views edit more perniciously, and moderate editors don't have time to fight about it. Unfortunately, that's a remedy of the rich, not for people who don't have the means to sue for defamation.

You can bring any calculator you like to the midterm, as long as it doesn't dim the lights when you turn it on. -- Hepler, Systems Design 182