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Submission + - Toy inspired medical centrifuge costing under 1 dollar

colinwb writes: Stanford researchers (link has video) have developed a human-powered medical centrifuge, costing 20 cents, based on a whirligig children's toy. As proof of concept, it can separate malaria parasites from blood cells in 15 minutes, and the parasites can be identified using a cheap microscope previously reported on Slashdot.

A Nature article and video, with useful caveats about whether this will actually be used, and a full description with diagrams and seriously impressive mathematics. They've also applied for a Guinness World Record of the fastest rotational speed from a human-powered device: 125,000 rpm.

Submission + - Mapping the brain functions of extinct animals

brindafella writes: How can scientists map the brain functions of an extinct animal? The technique is called diffusion tensor imaging, and it has recently mapped the preserved brains of two thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus), extinct as of 1936 in Tasmania, the island state of Australia. Thylacine were the largest known carnivorous marsupial (pouched mammal) of modern times. Diffusion tensor imaging looks at how water diffuses inside parts of the brain. Using it with traditional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the researchers mapped how molecules moved through the brain of the thylacine while it was alive to reveal the neural wiring of different brain regions. They tested the technique with a brain of a similar animal, a Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), preserved at about the same time, and the brain of a recently deceased Devil.

Submission + - Female Shark Learns To Reproduce Without Males After Years Alone (newscientist.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A female shark separated from her long-term mate has developed the ability to have babies on her own. Leonie the zebra shark (Stegostoma fasciatum) met her male partner at an aquarium in Townsville, Australia, in 1999. They had more than two dozen offspring together before he was moved to another tank in 2012. From then on, Leonie did not have any male contact. But in early 2016, she had three baby sharks. Intrigued, Christine Dudgeon at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, and her colleagues began fishing for answers. One possibility was that Leonie had been storing sperm from her ex and using it to fertilize her eggs. But genetic testing showed that the babies only carried DNA from their mum, indicating they had been conceived via asexual reproduction. Some vertebrate species have the ability to reproduce asexually even though they normally reproduce sexually. These include certain sharks, turkeys, Komodo dragons, snakes and rays. However, most reports have been in females who have never had male partners. In sharks, asexual reproduction can occur when a female’s egg is fertilized by an adjacent cell known as a polar body, Dudgeon says. This also contains the female’s genetic material, leading to “extreme inbreeding”, she says. “It’s not a strategy for surviving many generations because it reduces genetic diversity and adaptability.” Nevertheless, it may be necessary at times when males are scarce. “It might be a holding-on mechanism,” Dudgeon says. “Mum’s genes get passed down from female to female until there are males available to mate with.” It’s possible that the switch from sexual to asexual reproduction is not that unusual; we just haven’t known to look for it, Dudgeon says.

Submission + - California's bullet train is hurtling toward a multibillion-dollar overrun (latimes.com)

schwit1 writes: California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more. And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

A confidential Federal Railroad Administration risk analysis, obtained by the Times, projects that building bridges, viaducts, trenches and track from Merced to Shafter, just north of Bakersfield, could cost $9.5 billion to $10 billion, compared with the original budget of $6.4 billion.

The federal document outlines far-reaching management problems: significant delays in environmental planning, lags in processing invoices for federal grants and continuing failures to acquire needed property.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority originally anticipated completing the Central Valley track by this year, but the federal risk analysis estimates that that won’t happen until 2024, placing the project seven years behind schedule.

Submission + - Creepy genealogy site knows a lot about you. (washingtonpost.com)

schwit1 writes: There are many “people search” sites and data brokers out there, like Spokeo, or Intelius, that also know a lot about you. This is not news, at least for the Internet-literate. And the information on FamilyTreeNow comes largely from the public records and other legally accessible sources that those other data brokers use. What makes FamilyTreeNow stand out on the creepy scale, though, is how easy the site makes it for anyone to access that information all at once, and free.

Profiles on FamilyTreeNow include the age, birth month, family members, addresses and phone numbers for individuals in their system, if they have them. It also guesses at their “possible associates,” all on a publicly accessible, permalink-able page. It’s possible to opt out, but it’s not clear whether doing so actually removes you from their records or (more likely) simply hides your record so it’s no longer accessible to the public.

Submission + - Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC? 1

MarkBrown151 writes: Russia, we are told, breached the servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), swiped emails and other documents, and released them to the public, to alter the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.

How substantial is the evidence backing these assertions?

Hired by the Democratic National Committee to investigate unusual network activity, the security firm Crowdstrike discovered two separate intrusions on DNC servers. Crowdstrike named the two intruders Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear, in an allusion to what it felt were Russian sources. According to Crowdstrike, “Their tradecraft is superb, operational security second to none,” and “both groups were constantly going back into the environment” to change code and methods and switch command and control channels..Source

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 + - FBI Operated 23 Tor-Hidden Child Porn Sites, Deployed Malware From Them (arstechnica.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Federal investigators temporarily seized a Tor-hidden site known as Playpen in 2015 and operated it for 13 days before shutting it down. The agency then used a “network investigative technique” (NIT) as a way to ensnare site users. However, according to newly unsealed documents recently obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, the FBI not only temporarily took over one Tor-hidden child pornography website in order to investigate it, the organization was in fact authorized to run a total of 23 other such websites. According to an FBI affidavit among the unsealed documents: "In the normal course of the operation of a web site, a user sends "request data" to the web site in order to access that site. While Websites 1-23 operate at a government facility, such request data associated with a user's actions on Websites 1-23 will be collected. That data collection is not a function of the NIT. Such request data can be paired with data collected by the NIT, however, in order to attempt to identify a particular user and to determine that particular user's actions on Websites 1-23." Security researcher Sarah Jamie Lewis told Ars that “it’s a pretty reasonable assumption” that at one point the FBI was running roughly half of the known child porn sites hosted on Tor-hidden servers. Lewis runs OnionScan, an ongoing bot-driven analysis of the Tor-hidden darknet. Her research began in April 2016, and it shows that as of August 2016, there were 29 unique child porn related sites on Tor-hidden servers. That NIT, which many security experts have dubbed as malware, used a Tor exploit of some kind to force the browser to return the user’s actual IP address, operating system, MAC address, and other data. As part of the operation that took down Playpen, the FBI was then able to identify and arrest the nearly 200 child porn suspects. (However, nearly 1,000 IP addresses were revealed as a result of the NIT’s deployment, which could suggest that even more charges may be filed.)

Submission + - Let Them Eat LinkedIn: Microsoft's Advice for the 'Left Out and Left Behind' 1

theodp writes: Reflecting on Tuesday's election outcome via his LinkedIn account, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella refers readers to a blog post by Microsoft President Brad Smith for "Microsoft’s thoughts and recommendations for the new Administration and Congress." In Moving forward together: Our thoughts on the US election, Smith writes, "First and foremost, the vote yesterday registered a strong concern about the plight of those who feel left out and left behind. In important respects, this concern is understandable. In recent months we’ve been struck by a study from Georgetown University. It shows that a quarter-century of U.S. economic growth under Democrats and Republicans alike has added 35 million net new jobs. But the number of jobs held by Americans with only a high school diploma or less has fallen by 7.3 million. The disparity is striking. The country has experienced a doubling of jobs for Americans with a four-year college degree, while the number of jobs for those with a high school diploma or less has fallen by 13 percent." But not to worry — Microsoft has the cure for what ails 'em. "As we’ve had the opportunity to learn more," Smith explains, "we’ve concluded that new technology tools can play an important role. This was part of the conviction that led Microsoft to decide earlier this year to acquire LinkedIn, a deal that has already been cleared to close by regulators in the United States. LinkedIn is a good example of what one increasingly sees among both tech companies and tech-based non-profit groups. New technology services and tools help individuals develop new skills and connect with new jobs. As we look to the future, these can better help more people develop so-called middle skills – the types of technical skills that can ensure that those with less than a college degree can not only learn valuable new skills, but obtain the certifications and credentials that will be valuable in the workplace. And we believe that new data tools such as LinkedIn’s Economic Graph can serve even more cities and states to help those in government match their worker training and economic development resources with the strongest opportunities in the market. These are but a few of the roles where new technology can help."

Submission + - China Launches World's First Pulsar Navigation Satellite (indianexpress.com)

hackingbear writes: After launching the world's first quantum communication satellite this year, China today successfully launched the world's first pulsar-based navigation satellite which will conduct in-orbit experiments using pulsar detectors to demonstrate new technologies. The X-ray pulsar navigation satellite — XPNAV-1 — was sent skyward at 7:42 AM (local time) atop a Long March 11 solid-fuelled rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in China’s northwest. China's new system is expected to be a significant improvement over the earth-based systems currently used by spacecraft as it would eliminate the time delay with sending signals back to Earth and processing.

Submission + - Democrats lost the asian vote, and the rest followed (financegeek.org)

An anonymous reader writes: Asians were less supportive than the polls suggested. People who supported Trump didn't want to say so publicly. The lack of Asian support led to lack of Latino support which swung the election

Submission + - After Trump Win, ISPs are Laying Groundwork for Gutting Net Neutrality (techdirt.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A story at Techdirt considers possible ramifications of a business-friendly Trump administration, with telecom insiders seeing a huge win against regulation. Trump has proclaimed he opposes net neutrality, and many believe he'll work to gut the current FCC and its recent pro-consumer stance. ISPs are already making it clear they see an opportunity to role back "onerous FCC regulations."

Submission + - British "flash crash" trader pleads guilty. (telegraph.co.uk)

whoever57 writes: Navinder Sarao, the British trader who was accused of causing the "flash crash" in 2010 and was extradited to the USA this week has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of spoofing. No details of the plea deal have been released, but it is believed that he has agreed to forfeit $13M. Several years of jail time are also expected for Mr. Sarao

Submission + - Silicon Valley Investors Call For California To Secede From the US (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: As Donald Trump’s shock election victory reverberated around Silicon Valley late on Tuesday night, some high-profile technologists were already calling for California to secede from the United States. The broader west coast is a stronghold for the Democrats, and significantly more politically progressive and racially diverse than large swathes of central US. California is also the biggest economy in the US and the sixth largest in the world with a gross state product of $2.496tn for 2015, according to the IMF. The campaign for independence – variously dubbed Calexit, Califrexit and Caleavefornia – has been regarded as a fringe movement. But support was revitalized by influential Uber investor and Hyperloop co-founder Shervin Pishevar, in a series of tweets announcing his plans to fund a “legitimate campaign for California to become its own nation” – posted even before the full results were in. A few hours later, Hillary Clinton conceded the election to Trump, and Pishevar told CNBC that he was serious about Calexit. “It’s the most patriotic thing I can do,” he said, adding that the resulting nation would be called New California. “We can re-enter the union after California becomes a nation. As the sixth largest economy in the world, the economic engine of the nation and provider of a large percentage of the federal budget, California carries a lot of weight,” he said. Pishevar was supported by others in Silicon Valley. Angel investor Jason Calacanis said that California succession would be simple in the wake of both Brexit and a Trump win. Evan Low, a Democrat serving in the California state assembly, said that he’d support the introduction of a bill to start the independence process. The proposal illustrates the technology industry’s frustration with Trump over his repeated criticisms of Silicon Valley companies.

Submission + - Trump tapped the viral anger over H-1B use (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: President-elect Donald Trump realized early in his campaign that U.S. IT workers were angry over training foreign visa-holding replacements. He knew this anger was volcanic. Trump is the first major U.S. presidential candidate in this race — or any previous presidential race — to focus on the use of the H-1B visa to displace IT workers. He asked former Disney IT employees, upset over having to train foreign replacements, to speak at his rallies. "The fact is that Americans are losing their jobs to foreigners," said Dena Moore, a former Disney IT worker at a Trump rally in Alabama in February. "I believe Mr. Trump is for Americans first." Hillary Clinton, in an interview with Vox, said that "everybody with six degrees of separation either knows or thinks they know someone who knows somebody who lost a job to an undocumented worker or to a worker brought over on a visa to do their job. There's just a lot of churn that suggests this is a real problem." What Clinton described is the definition of viral, and she was right. For nearly 25 years, IT workers have been complaining of training their foreign replacements and the anger had indeed gone viral. Trump used that, Clinton did not.

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