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Medicine

Startup Aims To Commercialize a Brain Implant To Improve Memory (ieee.org) 85

the_newsbeagle writes: Neuroscientist Ted Berger has achieved some remarkable feats in his work on an implanted brain prosthetic to boost memory. Working with rats, he recorded the electrical signals associated with a specific memory from one animal's brain, then inserted that signal -- and thus the memory -- into another animal's brain. Working with monkeys, the implanted device enhanced the animals' recall in difficult memory tasks.

Still, it's startling to learn that a startup is ready to commercialize Berger's work, and is trying to build a memory prosthetic for humans suffering from Alzheimer's, brain injuries, and stroke. The new company, named Kernel, will fund human trials and develop electrodes that can record from and stimulate more brain cells.
"An implanted memory prosthetic would have electrodes to record signals during learning, a microprocessor to do the computations, and electrodes that stimulate neurons to encode the information as a memory," writes Eliza Strickland via IEEE Spectrum.
Earth

There's A 50% Chance of Another Chernobyl Before 2050, Say Safety Specialists (technologyreview.com) 140

An anonymous reader writes from a report via MIT Technology Review: Spencer Wheatley and Didier Sornette at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and Benjamin Sovacool at Aarhus University in Denmark have compiled the most comprehensive list of nuclear accidents ever created and used it to calculate the chances of future accidents. They say there is a 50:50 chance that a major nuclear disaster will occur somewhere in the world before 2050. "There is a 50 percent chance that a Chernobyl event (or larger) occurs in the next 27 years," they conclude. Since the International Atomic Energy Agency doesn't publish a historical database of the nuclear accidents it rates using the International Nuclear Event Scale, others, like Wheatley and co, have to compile their own list of accidents. They define an accident as "an unintentional incident or event at a nuclear energy facility that led to either one death (or more) or at least $50,000 in property damage." Each accident must have occurred during the generation, transmission, or distribution of nuclear energy, which includes accidents at mines, during transportation, or at enrichment facility, and so on. Fukushima was by far the most expensive accident in history at a cost of $166 billion, which is 60 percent of the total cost of all other nuclear accidents added together. Wheatley and co say their data suggests that the nuclear industry remains vulnerable to dragon king events, which are large unexpected events that are difficult to analyze because they follow a different statistical distribution, have unforeseen causes, and are few in number. "There is a 50% chance that a Fukushima event (or larger) occurs in the next 50 years," they say.
Advertising

Smartphone Surveillance Tech Used To Target Anti-Abortion Ads At Pregnant Women (rewire.news) 260

VoiceOfDoom writes: Rewire reports: "Last year, an enterprising advertising executive based in Boston, Massachusetts, had an idea: Instead of using his sophisticated mobile surveillance techniques to figure out which consumers might be interested in buying shoes, cars, or any of the other products typically advertised online, what if he used the same technology to figure out which women were potentially contemplating abortion, and send them ads on behalf of anti-choice organizations?"

Regardless of one's personal stance on the pro-choice/anti-abortion debate, the unfettered use of tracking and ad-targeting technology which makes this kind of application possible is surely a cause for concern. In Europe, Canada and many other parts of the world, the use of a person's data in this way would be illegal thanks to strict privacy laws. Is it time for the U.S. to consider a similar approach to protect its citizens?
Google has been reportedly tracking users on around 80 percent of all 'Top 1 Million' domains. Facebook is doing something similar. A recent report shows that Facebook uses smartphone microphones to identify the things users are listening to or watching based on the music and TV shows its able to identify. Facebook says the feature must be turned on, and that "it's only active when you're writing a status update."
Businesses

Facebook Acquires VR Audio Company, Launches 'Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation' (theverge.com) 28

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: Facebook is looking to improve its virtual-reality audio experience with the acquisition of Two Big Ears. Facebook is rereleasing Two Big Ears' "Spatial Workstation" software as the Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation, reports VentureBeat. The software is designed to "make VR audio succeed across all devices and platforms," and Two Big Ears developers will be merged with Facebook's Oculus team of employees. The acquisition of Two Big Ears is being made by Facebook and not Oculus -- the program is branded as a Facebook product, focused on 360-degree video and VR. The Spatial Workstation was first released last fall and was a platform for mixing audio that sounded realistically three-dimensional. Two Big Ears will provide "support in accordance with your current agreement" for the next 12 months to those who purchased a paid license to the old workstation. The company says it "will continue to be platform and device agnostic," not being locked into the Rift or Gear VR. Facebook did not disclose the sum of the acquisition. Two Big Ears was previously partnered with YouTube to help bring 360-degree live streaming and spatial audio to the site.
Earth

Climate-Exodus Expected In The Middle East And North Africa (phys.org) 240

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and the Cyprus Institute in Nicosia have calculated that the Middle East and North Africa could become so hot that human habitability is compromised. The goal of limiting global warming to less than two degrees Celsius, agreed at the recent UN climate summit in Paris, will not be sufficient to prevent this scenario. The result is deeply alarming: Even if Earth's temperature were to increase on average only by two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times, the temperature in summer in these regions will increase more than twofold. This means that during hot days temperatures south of the Mediterranean will reach around 46 degrees Celsius (approximately 114 degrees Fahrenheit) by mid-century. Such extremely hot days will occur five times more often than was the case at the turn of the millennium. In combination with increasing air pollution by windblown desert dust, the environmental conditions could become intolerable and may force people to migrate.
Encryption

US Begins Dropping 'Cyberbombs' On ISIS (nytimes.com) 126

In what appears to be a significant shift in its tactic to battle against the terrorist organization, the U.S. has begun launching cyberattacks against ISIS (non-paywall link). The New York Times reports that the Department of Defense's Cyber Command unit is mounting cyberattacks against the terrorist organization. The Cyber Command unit aims to stop the organization from spreading its message. The Times reports: The goal of the new campaign is to disrupt the ability of the Islamic State to spread its message, attract new adherents, circulate orders from commanders and carry out day-to-day functions, like paying its fighters. A benefit of the administration's exceedingly rare public discussion of the campaign, officials said, is to rattle the Islamic State's commanders, who have begun to realize that sophisticated hacking efforts are manipulating their data. Potential recruits may also be deterred if they come to worry about the security of their communications with the militant group. "We are dropping cyberbombs," Robert O. Work, deputy secretary of defense said. "We have never done that before."
Communications

Smart Mattress With Lover Detection System Will Track Your Partner's Infidelities (hothardware.com) 161

MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: Do you worry that your significant other is having mid-day romps in your bedroom while you're stuck at work banging out TPS reports? There's an app for that, and a smart mattress with built-in sensors to detect when between-the-sheet activities are taking place, with or without your participation. It's part of what a mattress company in Spain is calling its "lover detection system." You can't make this stuff up. Or maybe you can. You might seriously question whether or not the so-called Smarttress from Durmet is a real thing or an attempt at a viral marketing stunt. By all accounts, it certainly looks real. There are two dozen ultrasonic sensors embedded in the springs of the mattress. These tell-all sensors detect the speed and intensity of motion, how long the mattress has been active, and the history of encounters. That data is used to create a 3D map in real time, which you can view on your mobile device with an app for either iOS or Android devices.

Comment Re:At least its an option. (Score 0) 64

I like the idea that if, in a most insanely dire emergency, where you can't get a real doctor, this might be available.

No this doesn't make sense. You don't just do a kidney transplant this isn't like removing a mole. There is a ton of followup and anti-rejection medication and labs that need to be run in the immediate postop and perioperative period. Doing a kidney transplant in the "bush" isn't realistic, so you don't need youtube to teach you how to do this if you are able to do this from a support standpoint the surgical staff are already going to know how to do the surgery.

I agree it would be a Bad Idea if you had NO formal medical training. But lets assume the worst case scenario here, you are in a area that is hundreds of miles away from the nearest hospital. You have a compatible kidney match, but the doctor on hand has been killed. If given the choice beteewn trying to flip between medical texts and seeing a guide, I'd ALWAYS chose the guide.

Comment Re:No (Score 3, Informative) 186

Is it too much to ask to just buy some damn hardware? I expect there to be a driver, but that's it. I don't need some stupid always-on crap for the GPU, or a network connection, or online services. I'll buy my own games and apps thanks, just make the damn thing work and take your "value added" crap home.

You could possibly looking to purchasing a Razer OSVR, I have not looked into their terms of service. But it seems more likely to serve your needs.

Comment I hope they consulted a lawyer first. (Score 2) 88

I mean, I can understand wanting to come in from the cold and all. But this seems ill thought out, all and all. From what little I know about Romania, it doesn't seem like a good idea to turn yourself over to the authorities with the corruption scandals going on. They would be more likely to give you a harsher sentence to prove that their precinct is "clean". But, like I said, I'm not very well versed in the country or its laws.

Comment There is agressive and then there is this. (Score 1) 370

I mean, it seems like the equivalent of a door to door to door vacuum sales man knocking on your door. You answer you are aren't interested. Then they start hammering on your door, you are annoyed, but you ignore them. Then they are like, screw it. Sledgehammer your door open, start shouting about how awesome their product is as they start knocking things over with their unwanted vacuum. You try telling them that it REALLY isn't something that you want and they respond, I can't hear you over how awesome this vacuum is.

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