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Submission + - Brain Aging Gene Discovered (neurosciencenews.com)

baalcat writes: Genetic variant accelerates normal brain aging in older people by up to 12 years.

Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers have discovered a common genetic variant that greatly impacts normal brain aging, starting at around age 65, and may modify the risk for neurodegenerative diseases. The findings could point toward a novel biomarker for the evaluation of anti-aging interventions and highlight potential new targets for the prevention or treatment of age-associated brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Submission + - Even China Can't Kill Bitcoin (bloomberg.com)

hackingbear writes: As part of an effort to control capital outflows, the Chinese central bank required bitcoin exchanges to suspend withdrawals until they could update their compliance systems. Trading on the exchanges took a big hit, but the bitcoin activity resurfaced on less formal over-the-counter venues like craigslist-like sites LocalBitcoins, or WeChat channels. Even if a government shuts down every bitcoin node in its country, a bitcoin user can still transact as long as a single node is accessible overseas. This puts regulators in a tough spot. It’s hard to control something that exists nowhere and everywhere at the same time. This is nothing new for the Chinese regulators though. For most of the last three decades, including now, the Chinese government has been trying to pop up the value of Yuan, contrary to the currency rate suppression narratives you might have heard repeatedly in the last decade, by restricting citizens from buying U.S. dollars, only seeing that the vibrant black markets reset Yuan's rate to the lower real market value. Markets can’t be regulated out of existence. The next best thing might be to let them operate in the open.

Submission + - SPAM: If your TV rats you out, what about your car?

schwit1 writes: Nowadays, auto manufacturers seem to be tripping over each other pointing out that they offer Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. And more recent phenomenon are announcements—from companies including Ford and Hyundai—that they are offering Amazon Alexa capabilities. You talk. It listens.

In late January, General Motors said it is releasing a next-generation infotainment software development kit (NGI SDK) to software developers to write apps for GM cars. The NGI SDK includes native Application Program Interfaces (APIs) that allow access to expected things — like oil life and tire pressure and whether lightbulbs are burned out — but unexpected things, as well. Like the presence of passengers in the vehicle.

Here's the thing. While it may seem appealing to have all manner of connectivity in cars, there is the other side of that. Without getting all tinfoil hat about this, when your TV set is ratting you out, isn't it likely that your car will?

It drives. And watches. And listens. And collects data the likes of which you might otherwise not have shared.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Spike of radioactive Iodine levels is detected in Europe (theaviationist.com)

schwit1 writes: Iodine-131 (131I), a radionuclide of anthropogenic origin, has recently been detected in tiny amounts in the ground-level atmosphere in Europe. The preliminary report states it was first found during week 2 of January 2017 in northern Norway. Iodine-131 was also detected in Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain, until the end of January.

However, no one seems to know the reason behind the released Iodine-131. Along with nuclear power plants, the isotope is also widely used in medicine and its presence in the air could be the effect of several different incidents.

Or, as someone speculates, it could have been the side effect of a test of a new nuclear warhead in Russia: an unlikely (considered the ability to detect nuke tests through satellites and seismic detectors) violation of Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Submission + - IBM & Watson booted by MD Anderson cancer research center (forbes.com)

Life2Short writes: According to Fortune Magazine IBM's Watson has not impressed folks at the University of Texas' cancer research center. Apparently IBM does not meet the expectations of MD Anderson. FTFA: "And a scathing report from auditors at the University of Texas says the project cost MD Anderson more than $62 million and yet did not meet its goals."

Submission + - Iron-age potters accidentally recorded Earth's magnetic field strength

Solandri writes: We've only been able to measure the Earth's magnetic field strength for about 2 centuries. During this time, there has been a gradual decline in the field strength. In recent years, the rate of decline seems to be accelerating, leading to some speculation that the Earth may be losing its magnetic field — a catastrophic possibility since the magnetic field is what protects life on Earth from dangerous solar radiation. Ferromagnetic particles in rocks provide a long-term history which tells us the poles have flipped numerous times. But uncertainties in dating the rocks prevents their use in understanding decade-scale magnetic field fluctuations.

Now a group of archeologists and geophysicists have come up with a novel way to produce decade-scale temporal measurements of the Earth's magnetic field strength from before the invention of the magnetometer. When iron-age potters fired their pottery in a kiln to harden it, it loosened tiny ferromagnetic particles in the clay. As the pottery cooled and these particles hardened, it captured a snapshot of the Earth's magnetic field. Crucially, the governments of that time required pottery used to collect taxed goods (e.g. a portion of olive oil sold) to be stamped with a royal seal. These seals changed over time as new kings ascended, or governments were completely replaced after invasion. Thus by cross-referencing the magnetic particles in the pottery with the seals, researchers were able to piece together a history of the Earth's magnetic field strength spanning from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century BCE. Their findings show that large fluctuations in the magnetic field strength over a span of decades are normal.

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