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Submission + - With this new system, scientists never have to write a grant application again (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: Almost every scientist agrees: Applying for research funding is a drag. Writing a good proposal can take months, and the chances of getting funded are often slim. Funding agencies, meanwhile, spend more and more time and money reviewing growing stacks of applications.

That’s why two researchers are proposing a radically different system that would do away with applications and reviews; instead scientists would just give each other money. “Self-organized fund allocation” (SOFA), as it’s called, was developed by computer scientist Johan Bollen at Indiana University in Bloomington. When he first published about the idea in 2014, many people were skeptical. But interest appears to be growing, and thanks to the work of an enthusiastic advocate, ecologist Marten Scheffer of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, the Dutch parliament adopted a motion last year asking the country’s main funding agency, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), to set up a SOFA pilot project.

Submission + - Does space heat up when you accelerate? Physicists to test controversial idea (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: More than 40 years ago, a leading relativity theorist made a surprising prediction. Whereas empty space should feel immeasurably cold to any observer gliding along at a constant speed, one who is accelerating, say because he's riding a rocket, would find empty space hot. This so-called Unruh effect seemed practically impossible to measure, but now four theorists claim they have devised a doable experiment that could confirm the underlying physics. Skeptics say it will do no such thing—but for contradictory reasons.

"The hope is that this will convince skeptics that the whole thing is coherent," says Stephen Fulling, a theoretical physicist and mathematician at Texas A&M University in College Station who was not involved in the work. But Vladimir Belinski, a theorist at International Network of Centers for Relativistic Astrophysics in Pescara, Italy, says, "The Unruh effect is nonsense, it's based on a mathematical mistake."

Submission + - New theory may explain the 'music of the meteors' (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: For centuries, some observers have claimed that shooting stars or meteors hiss as they arc through the night sky. And for just as long, skeptics have scoffed on the grounds that sound waves coming from meteors should arrive several minutes after the light waves, which travel nearly a million times faster. Now, scientists have proposed a theory to explain how our eyes and ears could perceive a meteor at nearly the same time. The hypothesis might also explain how auroras produce sound, a claim made by many indigenous peoples living at high latitudes

Submission + - FDA slams St. Jude Medical for ignoring security flaws in medical devices (securityledger.com)

chicksdaddy writes: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a letter of warning to medical device maker Abbott on Wednesday, slamming the company for what it said was a pattern of overlooking security and reliability problems in its implantable medical devices at its St. Jude Medical division and describing a range of the company’s devices as “adulterated,” in violation of the US Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the Security Ledger reports. (https://securityledger.com/2017/04/fda-st-judes-knew-about-device-flaws-2-years-before-muddy-waters-report/)

In a damning warning letter (https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2017/ucm552687.htm), the FDA said that St. Jude Medical knew about serious security flaws in its implantable medical devices as early as 2014, but failed to address them with software updates or by replacing those devices. The government found that St. Jude, time and again, failed to adhere to internal security and product quality guidelines, a lapse that resulted in at least one patient death.

St. Jude Medical, which is now wholly owned by the firm Abbott, learned of serious and exploitable security holes in the company’s “high voltage and peripheral devices” in an April, 2014 “third party assessment” commissioned by the company. But St. Jude “failed to accurately incorporate the findings of that assessment” in subsequent risk assessments for the affected products, including Merlin@home, a home-based wireless transmitter that is used to provide remote care for patients with implanted cardiac devices, the FDA revealed. Among the security flaws: a “hardcoded universal unlock code” for the company’s implantable, high voltage devices.

The report casts doubt on a defamation lawsuit St. Jude filed against the firm MedSec Holdings Ltd over its August, 2016 report that warned of widespread security flaws in St. Jude products, including Merlin@home. The MedSec report on St. Judes technology was released in conjunction with a report by the investment firm Muddy Waters Research, which specializes in taking “short” positions on firms. (https://securityledger.com/2016/08/the-big-short-alleged-security-flaws-fuel-bet-against-st-jude-medical/) At the time, MedSec said that the security of the company’s medical devices and support software was “grossly inadequate compared with other leading manufacturers,” and represents “unnecessary health risks and should receive serious notice among hospitals, regulators, physicians and cardiac patients.” St. Judes has called the MedSec allegations false, but it now appears that the company had heard similar warnings raised by its own third-party security auditor more than a year prior.

Submission + - Feds Charge Wall Street Traders with Code Theft (informationweek.com)

CowboyRobot writes: Three men have been charged with stealing proprietary high-frequency trading algorithms from Amsterdam-based trading house Flow Traders. The accusations include that two of the three, while employees of Flow Traders, emailed strategies, algorithms, and source code to themselves before quitting the company. Theft of proprietary code and algorithms from financial firms is increasingly common, with at least six related U.S. prosecutions since November 2010. But while plaintiffs argue that the code is essential intellectual property, the defense can argue that such information is intrinsically linked to the environment in which it's being run, requires teams of programmers to maintain, and thus is of little use to another organization.

Submission + - Royal Navy Deployed Laser Weapons During the Falklands War (gizmag.com) 1

Zothecula writes: Despite recent demonstrations by the US Navy, we still think of laser weapons as being things of the future. However, previously-classified British documents prove that not only were the major powers working on laser weapons in the 1970s and 80s, but that they were already being deployed with combat units in war zones. A letter from the Ministry of Defence released under the 30-year rule reveals that laser weapons were deployed on Royal Navy ships during the Falklands War in 1982, and that the British government was concerned about similar weapons being developed behind the Iron Curtain.

Submission + - BlackBerry Officially Open to Sale (slashdot.org)

Nerval's Lobster writes: BlackBerry is considering whether to sell itself off to the highest bidder. The company’s Board of Directors has announced the founding of a Special Committee to explore so-called “strategic alternatives to enhance value and increase scale,” which apparently includes “possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the Company or other possible transactions.” BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins added that, while the committee did its work, the company would continue to its recent overhead-reduction strategy. Prem Watsa, chairman and CEO of Fairfax Financial—BlackBerry’s largest shareholder—announced that he would resign from the company’s board in order to avoid a potential conflict of interest. News that BlackBerry is considering a potential sale should surprise nobody. Faced with fierce competition from Google and Apple, the company’s market-share has tumbled over the past several quarters. In a desperate bid to regain its former prominence in the mobile-device industry, BlackBerry developed and released BlackBerry 10, a next-generation operating system meant to compete toe-to-toe against Google Android and Apple iOS—despite a massive ad campaign, however, early sales of BlackBerry 10 devices have proven somewhat underwhelming.
Power

Submission + - Atomic Comics: Comic books and the atomc education of America (thebulletin.org)

Lasrick writes: Great review of the book "Atomic Comics." Includes wonderful old illustrations from Atomic Rabbit, Atoman, Buck Rogers, True Comics, Whiz Comics, etc. Here's a quote: "Still, the comics had been dealing with atomic beams, weapons, and propulsion through most of the war, and if these comic strips and books were wrong about the details, Szasz notes, "the fact that the American public instantly grasped the basic outlines of the atomic age almost surely has its roots in the larger-than-life adventures of Superman, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and Mickey Mouse, and well as other long-forgotten characters from that 'loose and baggy creature' of American popular culture.""
Biotech

Submission + - Study Claims Human Intelligence Peaked Two to Six Millennia Ago (independent.co.uk) 1

eldavojohn writes: Professor Gerald "Jerry" Crabtree of Stanford's Crabtree Laboratory published a paper (PDF warning) that has appeared in two parts in "Trends in Genetics." The paper opens with a very controversial suggestion, 'I would be willing to wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions' and from there speculates we're on the decline of human intelligence and we have been for at least a couple millennia. His argument seems to suggest that agriculture and, following from that, cities have allowed us to break free of such environmental forces on competitive genetic mutations — a la Mike Judge's theory. However, the conclusion of the paper urges humans to keep calm and carry on as any attempt to fix this genetic trend would almost certainly be futile and disturbing.
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - No kidding, the upper-class is more likely to commit unethical behavior. (vice.com)

everydayelk writes: "Do you lie and cheat on a regular basis? Do you cut in front of pedestrians in traffic? Do you consider greed to be a virtuous quality? Do you think you’re totally awesome and worthy? Scientifically speaking, you are more likely to be upper-class, according to a just-out study in PNAS examining the relationship between socio-economic class and propensity to act unethically (and using those things as ethical markers). Seven studies, ranging from objective envrionmental observation to a dice pseudo-game to straight-up what would you do in this scenario? questions were performed, and every one of the studies found the same general result: being rich makes you kind of an asshole. Act surprised."

Submission + - Dutch Supreme Court sees game objects as goods (newser.com)

thrill12 writes: The Dutch Supreme Court ruled on January 31st that the taking away of possessions in the game Runescape from a 13-year-old boy was in fact theft because the possessions could be seen as actual goods. The highest court explained this not by arguing it was software that was copied, but by stating that the game data were real goods that were acquired through "effort and time investment" and "the principal had the actual and exclusive dominion of the goods" — up until the moment the other guy took them away, that is.
Hardware

Submission + - Why the Raspberry Pi won't ship in kit form (geek.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The guys at Broadcom have released an image containing the Raspberry Pi SoC and memory chip to help explain why the tiny PC won't ship in kit form. Clearly the chips are so small and the solder blobs required so tiny, 99% of the time you would mess up doing it by hand. Add to that the fact one chip as to sit on top of the other, and if you're a millimeter out your chips are fried.
Censorship

Submission + - Google "Does No Evil"... (reuters.com)

alreaud writes: "Looking at Google's concept of "Do No Evil", one has to ask: "How does skipping the most popular question on YouTube to President Obama serve the concept of Do No Evil?" Monday, the POTUS had a Google+ hangout, and the most voted upon question on YouTube was: "Mr. President, my name is Stephen Downing, and I'm a retired deputy chief of police from the Los Angeles Police Department. From my decades of law enforcement experience I have come to see our country's drug policies as a failure and a complete waste of criminal justice resources. According to the Gallup Poll, the number of Americans who support legalizing and regulating marijuana now outnumber those who support continuing prohibition. What do you say to this growing voter constituency that wants more changes to drug policy than you have delivered in your first term?""
Google

Submission + - UK Grills Google Execs over Privacy, Takedown Poli (itproportal.com)

hypnosec writes: Web search giant Google was subject to severe criticism by the UK authorities for not taking appropriate measures to remove the images from the Max Mosley orgy video. Google was earlier alleged for not making endeavors to take down the images and executives from the search engine giant did not have a choice but to face a bitter question hour session from the MPs. It was the vice president of Google communications and Public Affairs, David-John Collins, accompanied by the legal director and associate general counsel for Google, Daphne Keller who took the responsibility of confronting the raging allegations from the government officials. Apparently, the agonizing discussion went on for hours and the joint MPs and peers on joint committee kept on pricking the executives on the blunder they had done.

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