Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



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Submission + - Conexant and Amazon bring Alexa to Raspberry Pi with âAudioSmart 2-mic Deve (betanews.com)

BrianFagioli writes: Much of Amazonâ(TM)s success with Echo and Alexa is thanks to third-party developers and hardware. Today, Conexant and Amazon announce the AudioSmart 2-mic Development Kit. This add-on for the Raspberry Pi should enable easier development of devices using Amazonâ(TM)s Alexa voice technology. This could ultimately lead to further growth and adoption of the Alexa voice assistant.

Submission + - Korora 25 'Gurgle' Fedora-based Linux distribution now available for download (betanews.com)

BrianFagioli writes: If you want to use Fedora but do not want to spend time manually installing packages and repos, there is a solid alternative — Korora. Despite the funny-sounding name, it is a great way to experience Fedora in a more user-friendly way. Today, version 25, code-named 'Gurgle', becomes available for release.

Submission + - Union of Concerned Scientists Pens open letter to President-Elect Trump

PvtVoid writes: The Union of Concerned Scientists has released an open letter to President-Elect Trump on science and public policy, outlining five items essential to sound science in the United States, stating that "... scientists should, without fear of reprisal or retaliation, have the freedom and responsibility to:

— conduct their work without political or private-sector interference.

— candidly communicate their findings to Congress, the public, and their scientific peers publish their work and participate meaningfully in the scientific community.

— disclose misrepresentation, censorship, and other abuses of science.

— ensure that scientific and technical information coming from the government is accurate."

The letter has been signed so far by more than 8,000 scientists.

Submission + - In Era Of Fake News, Should Scholars Be Trained to Fight Online Trolls? (edsurge.com)

jyosim writes: There's plenty of fake news and conspiracy theories on Reddit—the kind of material that appears to be eroding political discourse. Yet one professor at the University of California at Davis plans to send her graduate students into the popular online forum this week to teach them to bring more-accurate scientific information to the public. With the election of Donald Trump, who has Tweeted that he does not accept the scientific consensus around climate change, and an apparent increase in the influence of fake news, she adds, there is even greater pressure on scientists “to reach out to new audiences and talk to people about why we need scientists in our life and why we need evidence” to back up policy decisions.
Now more than 1,300 scientists moderate the r/Science subreddit to block out climate deniers and others making arguments not backed by facts.

  “There are people who actually strategize on how to disrupt legitimate news that is contrary to their agenda,” says Nathan Allen, moderator for r/Science. “They do things like badger people that they disagree with.”

One tactic has come to be known as sea lioning. That’s when opponents of a scientist’s work pepper them with seemingly polite but insincere questions demanding evidence for every point they make, as a way to throw them off point or exhaust them. “It’s culturally censoring people,” he adds. “The amount of energy it takes to respond to each point is just overwhelming. A lot of scientists just aren’t up for the fight.”

Submission + - Matt Taibbi: 'Washington Post' 'Blacklist' Story Is Shameful and Disgusting (rollingstone.com)

MyFirstNameIsPaul writes: From the article:

Most high school papers wouldn't touch sources like these. But in November 2016, both the president-elect of the United States and the Washington Post are equally at ease with this sort of sourcing.

Even worse, the Post apparently never contacted any of the outlets on the "list" before they ran their story. Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism says she was never contacted. Chris Hedges of Truthdig, who was part of a group that won the Pulitzer Prize for The New York Times once upon a time, said the same. "We were named," he tells me. "I was not contacted."

Hedges says the Post piece was an "updated form of Red-Baiting."

"This attack signals an open war on the independent press," he says. "Those who do not spew the official line will be increasingly demonized in corporate echo chambers such as the Post or CNN as useful idiots or fifth columnists."


Submission + - A physical model for (some of) Tabby's Star's light dips. 2

RockDoctor writes: A fresh paper on Arxiv describes a model proposed to explain at least some of the light dips in "Tabby's Star" (Kepler Input Catalogue KIC 8462852). When the irregular light received from this star was recognised in 2015, nobody could come up with a credible explanation for the irregularity of the star's light dips, or their depth. Further studies suggest sustained dimming over the photographic observation epoch, further deepening the puzzle. This new paper proposes a model of a jet of material which leaves the star's surface, then casts off a plume described as "smoke plume" which is swept around in the stars orbit. The opaque jet and the less-opaque "smoke plume" then intersect with the light travelling towards us to generate an asymmetric dip in the star's light curve, as observed in the past.

Which is an interesting model. The big peculiarity is that the "smoke plume" orientation with respect to the material jet implies that the outer parts of this star's envelope is rotating faster than the inner part where the jet originates. Which would raise almost as many questions as the original discovery.

Definitely, this is a very peculiar system.

(PDF here ; NB, the paper does not appear to have been submitted to a journal, or peer-reviewed.)

Submission + - Dogs remember more than expected (gizmodo.com)

tomhath writes: This story won't surprise most dog owners: They're watching you, and they remember what you've done.

A new study published in Current Biology shows that dogs, like humans, can recall prior events, even when those events weren’t particularly important or meaningful at the time. This suggests that dogs have “episodic memory,” which is the ability to mentally travel back in time and recall experiences and specific events, such as times, places, and associated emotions. Importantly, episodic memory is also a possible sign of self-awareness in dogs...

Importantly, the dogs had to remember events they had witnessed, but not performed before. This means they had to dig into the “recent history” file of their brains and pull out the required information—in other words, they had to rely on their episodic memory.


Submission + - SPAM: Satellite Abandoned In 1967 Mysteriously Comes Back Online

schwit1 writes: An American satellite abandoned in 1967 suddenly came back online and began transmitting again for the first time in 50 years.

Amateur astronomers first suspected that they’d found the satellite in 2013, but needed years to confirm that it was still occasionally transmitting. The satellite, dubbed LES1, was built by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and launched into space in 1965.

A mistake in the satellite’s circuitry caused it to never leave its circular orbit, and it eventually stop transmitting in 1967. The satellite’s signal now fluctuates widely in strength, meaning that it’s likely only transmitting when its solar panels are in direct sunlight. Scientists expect that the satellite’s onboard batteries have disintegrated.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - A Brief History of RTS AI Research (gamasutra.com)

bgweber writes: An overview of the history of AI research in RTS games and some of the events leading up to the announcement of the Blizzard and DeepMind AI collaboration at BlizzCon.

Submission + - Mysterious 'ping' sound from sea floor baffles Igloolik (www.cbc.ca)

Freshly Exhumed writes: Hunters in a remote community in Nunavut are concerned about a mysterious "pinging" sound, sometimes also described as a "hum" or "beep," in Fury and Hecla Strait throughout the summer. Paul Quassa, a member of the legislative assembly, says whatever the cause, it's scaring the animals away. "That's one of the major hunting areas in the summer and winter because it's a polynya, ...and this time around, this summer, there were hardly any." Internal correspondence between sources in the Department of National Defence suggest submarines were not immediately ruled out, but were also not considered a likely cause. "We've heard in the past of groups like Greenpeace putting in some kinds of sonars in the seabed to get the sea mammals out of the way so Inuit won't be able to hunt them," Quassa said. These rumours, though persistent, have never been substantiated, and Greenpeace denies the assertion.

Submission + - 'Calibration error' changes GOP votes to Dem in Illinois (foxnews.com) 1

Okian Warrior writes: Early voting in Illinois got off to a rocky start Monday, as votes being cast for Republican candidates were transformed into votes for Democrats.

Republican state representative candidate Jim Moynihan: “I tried to cast a vote for myself and instead it cast the vote for my opponent,” Moynihan said. “You could imagine my surprise as the same thing happened with a number of races when I tried to vote for a Republican and the machine registered a vote for a Democrat.”

The conservative website Illinois Review reported that “While using a touch screen voting machine in Schaumburg, Moynihan voted for several races on the ballot, only to find that whenever he voted for a Republican candidate, the machine registered the vote for a Democrat in the same race. He notified the election judge at his polling place and demonstrated that it continued to cast a vote for the opposing candidate’s party. Moynihan was eventually allowed to vote for Republican candidates, including his own race.

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