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Submission + - 'Outsiders' Crack 50-Year-Old Math Problem (quantamagazine.org)

An anonymous reader writes: Over the decades, the Kadison-Singer problem had wormed its way into a dozen distant areas of mathematics and engineering, but no one seemed to be able to crack it. The question “defied the best efforts of some of the most talented mathematicians of the last 50 years,” wrote Peter Casazza and Janet Tremain of the University of Missouri in Columbia, in a 2014 survey article.

As a computer scientist, Spielman knew little of quantum mechanics or the Kadison-Singer problem’s allied mathematical field, called C*-algebras. But when Kalai, whose main institution is the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, described one of the problem’s many equivalent formulations, Spielman realized that he himself might be in the perfect position to solve it. “It seemed so natural, so central to the kinds of things I think about,” he said. “I thought, ‘I’ve got to be able to prove that.’” He guessed that the problem might take him a few weeks.

Instead, it took him five years. In 2013, working with his postdoc Adam Marcus, now at Princeton University, and his graduate student Nikhil Srivastava, now at the University of California, Berkeley, Spielman finally succeeded. Word spread quickly through the mathematics community that one of the paramount problems in C*-algebras and a host of other fields had been solved by three outsiders — computer scientists who had barely a nodding acquaintance with the disciplines at the heart of the problem.

Submission + - Windows 10 Fall Update Uninstalls Desktop Software Without Informing Users (ghacks.net)

ourlovecanlastforeve writes: Martin Brinkmann of GHacks writes: Beware, latest Windows 10 Update may remove programs automatically. Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system may uninstall programs — desktop programs that is — from the computer after installation of the big Fall update that the company released earlier this month. I noticed the issue on one PC that I upgraded to Windows 10 Version 1511 but not on other machines. The affected PC had Speccy, a hardware information program, installed and Windows 10 notified me after the upgrade that the software had been removed from the system because of incompatibilities. There was no indication beforehand that something like this would happen, and what made this rather puzzling was the fact that a newly downloaded copy of Speccy would install and run fine on the upgraded system.

Submission + - MIT team invents efficient shockwave-based process for desalination of water. (youtube.com)

An anonymous reader writes: As the availability of clean, potable water becomes an increasingly urgent issue in many parts of the world, researchers are searching for new ways to treat salty, brackish or contaminated water to make it usable. Now a team at MIT has come up with an innovative approach that, unlike most traditional desalination systems, does not separate ions or water molecules with filters, which can become clogged, or boiling, which consumes great amounts of energy.

Instead, the system uses an electrically driven shockwave within a stream of flowing water, which pushes salty water to one side of the flow and fresh water to the other, allowing easy separation of the two streams.

According to the researchers, this approach is a fundamentally new and different separation system. Unlike most other approaches to desalination or water purification, this one performs a “membraneless separation” of ions and particles.

Membranes in traditional desalination systems, such as those that use reverse osmosis or electrodialysis, are “selective barriers”.

They allow molecules of water to pass through, but block the larger sodium and chlorine atoms of salt. Compared to conventional electrodialysis, “This process looks similar, but it’s fundamentally different,”

In the new process, called shock electrodialysis, water flows through a porous material —in this case, made of tiny glass particles, called a frit — with membranes or electrodes sandwiching the porous material on each side. When an electric current flows through the system, the salty water divides into regions where the salt concentration is either depleted or enriched. When that current is increased to a certain point, it generates a shockwave between these two zones, sharply dividing the streams and allowing the fresh and salty regions to be separated by a simple physical barrier at the center of the flow. Read more.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

Submission + - Neurons Can Be Changed from One Type Into Another from Within the Brain (scitechdaily.com)

schwit1 writes: A newly published study from Harvard biologists shows how neurons can be dramatically changed from one type into another from within the brain and how neighboring neurons recognize the reprogrammed cells as different and adapt by changing how they communicate with them.

Building on earlier work in which they disproved neurobiology dogma by “reprogramming” neurons — turning one form of neuron into another — in the brains of living animals, Harvard Stem Cell Institute researchers have now shown that the networks of communication among reprogrammed neurons and their neighbors can also be changed, or “rewired.”

I'm sure someone mentioned beforehand that the science of trans-neurons was settled.

Submission + - 17th Century formula for Pi emerges from Quantum description of Hydrogen Atom

UncleJosh writes: Discovered by a Physicist and Mathematician at the University of Rochester the Wallis product just "fell out" of a problem assigned to a quantum mechanics class. The variational approach to solving quantum mechanical systems is usually used for systems that have no exact solution, but the application of the variational approach to the (non-relativistic) quantum equation for the hydrogen atom revealed the connection.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: How to Determine If One Is on a Watchlist? 1

An anonymous reader writes: On Slashdot, we joke about it all the time: "I did a Google search for 'pressure cooker' and I connected a bunch of times to the Tor network to download some Linux distribution .torrent files... I must be on some sort of watchlist now." There have been news articles about people being questioned in airports and given special attention for being political activists. How can one determine is one is on a watchlist of some sort? Are there any Slashdot users who are knowingly on a watchlist? What sort of suspicious special attention have you received?

Submission + - Usernames reveal the age and psychology of game players (sciencedirect.com)

limbicsystem writes: Your online name can reveal a lot about you. Researchers from the University of York and Riot Games have shown that information harvested from the usernames of players who signed up to 'League of Legends' can sometime reveal both their ages and how they behave online. And the short story is that both younger players and players with obnoxious names are more likely to exhibit toxic online behaviour. Big brother is watching you JaceFizz69 — you have been warned!

Submission + - Prison Hack Show Attorney-Client Privilege Violation (theintercept.com)

Advocatus Diaboli writes: "An enormous cache of phone records obtained by The Intercept reveals a major breach of security at Securus Technologies, a leading provider of phone services inside the nation’s prisons and jails. The materials — leaked via SecureDrop by an anonymous hacker who believes that Securus is violating the constitutional rights of inmates — comprise over 70 million records of phone calls, placed by prisoners to at least 37 states, in addition to links to downloadable recordings of the calls. The calls span a nearly two-and-a-half year period, beginning in December 2011 and ending in the spring of 2014."

"Particularly notable within the vast trove of phone records are what appear to be at least 14,000 recorded conversations between inmates and attorneys, a strong indication that at least some of the recordings are likely confidential and privileged legal communications — calls that never should have been recorded in the first place. The recording of legally protected attorney-client communications — and the storage of those recordings — potentially offends constitutional protections, including the right to effective assistance of counsel and of access to the courts."

Submission + - Intel Skylake-U For Laptops Posts Solid Gains In Testing, Especially Graphics (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: Intel's 6th Generation Skylake family of Core processors has been available for some time now for desktops. However, the mobile variant of Skylake is perhaps Intel's most potent incarnation of the new architecture that has been power-optimized on 14nm technology with a beefier graphics engine for notebooks. In late Q3, Intel started rolling out Skylake-U versions of the chip in a 15 Watt TDP flavor. This is the power envelope that most "ultrabooks" are built with and it's likely to be Intel's highest volume SKU of the processor. The Lenovo Yoga 900 tested here was configured with an Intel Core i7-6500U dual-core processor that also supports Intel HyperThreading for 4 logical processing threads available. Its base frequency is 2.5GHz, but the chip will Turbo Boost to 3GHz and down clocks way down to 500MHz when idle. The chip also has 4MB of shared L3 cache and 512K of L2 and 128K of data cache, total. In the benchmarks, the new Skylake-U mobile chip is about 5 — 10 faster than Intel's previous generation Broadwell platform in CPU-intensive tasks and 20+ percent faster in graphics and gaming, at the same power envelope, likely with better battery life, depending on the device.

Submission + - NASA's Cassini discovers hydrocarbon dunes on Titan (examiner.com)

MarkWhittington writes: NASA made an announcement that Titan, a moon of Saturn and the largest moon in the solar system, has hydrocarbon dunes. The discovery has highlighted the entirely alien nature of Titan, which has seas, lakes and rains of liquid methane and ethane and a surface comprised on water ice. The fact that it has dunes made of frozen hydrocarbon that acts like sand, blown by the wind, on Earth is yet another piece of data that has scientists interested in studying Titan further.

Submission + - Controversial New UK Internet Powers Bill Makes No Mention of VPNs (thestack.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The Draft Investigatory Powers Bill presented by the UK Home Secretary Theresa May to Parliament today has caused controversy because it proposes new legislation to force UK ISPs to retain an abbreviated version of a user's internet history for a year, and would also oblige vendors such as Apple not to provide consumer-level encryption that the vendor cannot access itself in accordance with a court order. But perhaps the most surprising aspect of DIPA is that Virtual Private Networks are mentioned nowhere in its 299 pages, even though VPNs are a subject of great interest to Europe, Russia, Iran, China and the United States. Is Britain ignorant on the subject, or actually considering some of the toughest VPN legislation in the west?

Submission + - ESR: Radical Feminists Are Attempting to Frame Linus, Others for Sexual Assault (ibiblio.org)

_KiTA_ writes: Open Source Pioneer Eric S. Raymond has revealed explosive allegations on his blog, claiming that he has a source with evidence that the Ada Initiative, a tech initiative designed to support women in open source, has been attempting to frame Linus Torvalds and other high profile members of the Linux and Open Source community for sexual assault. Linus has been noted for never being alone at conferences as of late, apparently this is a defensive move due to repeated attempts to "scalp" him — getting him alone and then immediately pushing a fake claim of sexual harassment or assault to either have him arrested or pulled off Linux development.

Possibily related to October's Linux Kernel Dev Sarah Sharp Quits, Citing 'Brutal' Communications Style story on how feminist Sarah Sharp took words out of context to try and suggest Linus and Greg were being aggressive monsters on the Kernel Mailing List — something she equates with physical violence on her blog.

Sarah Sharp is a member of the Ada Initiative's Advisory Board, the group that is apparently behind the attempt to frame Linus, among others, for sexual misconduct.

Submission + - Leading theory of solar system's formation just disproven

StartsWithABang writes: In 2005, scientists put forth the Nice Model to explain the configuration of the Solar System's planets. It was thought that the outer planets, Jupiter in particular, migrated through the inner Solar System, and were then pulled back out by the presence of the outer giants, causing the late heavy bombardment of the terrestrial planets as it crossed the asteroid belt. But not only are extra gas giants that have since been ejected required to explain the outer worlds, but the migration would have ejected the inner, terrestrial worlds, indicating that the rocky planets finished forming after the gas giants were already in place. R.I.P., Nice Model: 2005-2015.

Feed Google News Sci Tech: NASA study: Net gains for Antarctic ice sheets - UPI.com (google.com)


NASA study: Net gains for Antarctic ice sheets
The gains came in the form of ice thickening -- thickening researchers have previously dismissed as snow accumulations. By Brooks Hays | Oct. 31, 2015 at 5:00 PM. Comments 0 Comments. share with facebook. share with twitter. A new NASA study claims...
Mass gains of Antarctic Ice Sheet greater than losses, NASA study reportsPhys.Org
Antarctica snowfall may be outpacing glacier meltSummit County Citizens Voice
NASA study: Mass gains of Antarctic Ice Sheet greater than losses(e) Science News (press release) (registration)
GlobalPost-Zee News
all 19 news articles

Submission + - Mother of all apes—including humans—may have been surprisingly small (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: From sturdy chimpanzees to massive gorillas to humans themselves, the living great apes are all large-bodied, weighing between 30 and 180 kilograms. So for years most researchers thought the ancestral ape must have tipped the scales as well. But the partial skeleton of an 11.6-million-year-old primitive ape may force scientists to reimagine the ancestor of all living apes and humans. With a muzzle like a gibbon but a large brain for its body size, the ancient primate has traits that link it to all apes and humans—yet it weighed only 4 kg to 5 kg, according to a report today in Science.

Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.