explosivejared writes: Sheep Marketplace, a.onion marketplace that sprung up in the wake of the Silk Road seizure, closed down over the weekend after nearly 100 thousand BTC, worth around $100 million, were stolen. The market had been plagued by suspicion for weeks, and it all came to a head last week as admins began disallowing withdrawal of bitcoins in escrow. Users revolted. The forum was shutdown. Admins claimed a bug allowed 5,000 BTC to be stolen. Eventually the entire site went down, taking tens of millions of dollars worth BTC with it. It is still unclear who is responsible, but reddit user sheepreloaded2 claims to have identified the wallet containing the stolen bitcoins and has been frustrating attempts to launder them.
explosivejared writes: Reddit users have formed a crowdsourced effort to compile photos and trade theories about the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday. There's always a worry that moves like this might turn into mob-led witch hunts, but cooler heads seem to be prevailing. A post warning people of repeating the mistakes made surrounding the accusations of Richard Jewell has been voted to the top of the findbostonbombers reddit. Of particular interest is the subreddit on analysis of the bomb components. Users seem to have established the type of trigger used and may be able to establish a radius that the bomber(s) may have been within during the blast
explosivejared writes: "Evgeny Morozov in the newest issue of The New Republic uses a highly critical review of Steven Johnson's book Future Perfect push back against what Morozov terms "internet-centrism" or the belief that the Internet has it's own internal logic of decentralization that has obviated older, hierarchical organizational structures. Now Johnson has replied, and the subsequent debate is online.
With the conversation between Morozov and Johnson as a starting point, I'd like to pose some questions to/.. I think we can all agree that the internet has proven that decentralized organizations can bring significant positive impacts, but what are the limits on this? As Morozov points out, even in ostensibly decentralized organizations there are often hidden hierarchies, and this is true for the Internet as well. Where could the vast, varied phenomenon we call the internet benefit from more openly centralized organization, if it can at all?"
Nanothermal therapy – the use of nanoparticles to cook a tumor to death – is one of the many promising uses of nanotechnology to both improve the effectiveness of cancer therapy and reduce its side effects. Now, a team of investigators from the Texas Center for Cancer Nanomedicine has shown that liver cancer cells will take up targeted gold nanoparticles, absorb radio waves, and generate heat that damages the cells. In addition, the researchers have discovered how to increase the thermal toxicity of these nanoparticles."
explosivejared writes: "The Economist has a story on the increasing scientific productivity countries like China, India, and Brazil relative to the field's old guards in America, Europe, and Japan. Scientific productivity in this sense includes percent of GDP spent on R&D and the overall numbers of researchers, scholarly articles, and patents that a country produces. The article sees this as a natural side effect of the buoying economic prospects of these countries. Perhaps the most positive piece of the story is the fact that a full 35% of scholarly scientific articles in leading journals are now the product of international collaboration. From the article: "[M]ore than 35% of articles in leading journals are now the product of international collaboration. That is up from 25% 15 years ago—something the old regime and the new alike can celebrate.""
explosivejared writes: "It sounds like the plot of a sci-fi movie: rogue black holes roaming our galaxy, threatening to swallow anything that gets too close. In fact, new calculations by Ryan O'Leary and Avi Loeb (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) suggest that hundreds of massive black holes, left over from the galaxy-building days of the early universe, may wander the Milky Way.
Good news, however: Earth is safe. The closest rogue black hole should reside thousands of light-years away. Astronomers are eager to locate them, though, for the clues they will provide to the formation of the Milky Way. "These black holes are relics of the Milky Way's past," said Loeb. "You could say that we are archaeologists studying those relics to learn about our galaxy's history and the formation history of black holes in the early universe." According to theory, rogue black holes originally lurked at the centers of tiny, low-mass galaxies. Over billions of years, those dwarf galaxies smashed together to form full-sized galaxies like the Milky Way."
explosivejared writes: "Yesterday we discussed the medical scare that physicist Stephen Hawking was going through. Happily, his website has posted a succinct statement that he is being kept for observation, but he is comfortable and expecting a full recovery."
explosivejared writes: "Forbes is running a story discussing the verdict in the Pirate Bay case and its implications on file sharing, specifically with regard to Google. The article points out what most on/. already realize: Google provides essentially the same service that the Pirate Bay does. The Pirate Bay case may be far from over, accounting for appeals, but the Pirate Bay's assumption of being unchallengeable was shattered. The article raises the question of whether or not Google is untouchable in the matter. The story is quick to point out how the situation resembles a futile game of cat mouse, but given how the Pirate Bay's confidence was ultimately broken, is Google untouchable?"
explosivejared writes: "New Scientist is running a story about a software based regimen of mental exercise used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia that other treatments, like drugs, cannot reach.
From the article: BRAIN training in a computerised mind gym could help people with schizophrenia cope with the debilitating cognitive problems caused by the condition.
This is not the first attempt to use computer tools to treat the cognitive problems that come with schizophrenia, but it is more intensive than earlier efforts. Each volunteer did about 50 hours of brain training over 10 weeks. The approach is also unusual because it initially focuses on improving a person's ability to process sensory information, before honing higher-level cognitive processing."
explosivejared writes: "Humans don't always make the most rational decisions. As studies have shown, even when logic and reasoning point in one direction, sometimes we chose the opposite route, motivated by personal bias or simply "wishful thinking." This paradoxical human behavior has resisted explanation by classical decision theory for over a decade. But now, scientists have shown that a quantum probability model can provide a simple explanation for human decision-making — and may eventually help explain the success of human cognition overall."
explosivejared writes: "Although anthropologists and evolutionary biologists are still debating this question, a new study, published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, supports the view that the first egalitarian societies may have appeared tens of thousands of years before the French Revolution, Marx, and Lenin.
These societies emerged rapidly through intense power struggle and their origin had dramatic implications for humanity. In many mammals living in groups, including hyenas, meerkats, and dolphins, group members form coalitions and alliances that allow them to increase their dominance status and their access to mates and other resources. Alliances are especially common in great apes, some of whom have very intense social life, where they are constantly engaged in a political maneuvering as vividly described in Frans de Waal's "Chimpanzee politics".
In spite of this, the great apes' societies are very hierarchical with each animal occupying a particular place in the existing dominance hierarchy. A major function of coalitions in apes is to maintain or change the dominance ranking. When an alpha male is well established, he usually can intimidate any hostile coalition or the entire community. In sharp contrast, most known hunter-gatherer societies are egalitarian. Their weak leaders merely assist a consensus-seeking process when the group needs to make decisions, but otherwise all main political actors behave as equal. Some anthropologists argue that in egalitarian societies the pyramid of power is turned upside down with potential subordinates being able to express dominance over potential alpha-individuals by creating large, group-wide political alliance."
explosivejared writes: "Marketplace is running a story on the apparently sparse effectiveness of direct-to-consumer drug ads. The pharmaceutical industry spends billions of dollars on direct-to-consumer advertising, but a Harvard Medical School study says the ads aren't really working. Researchers say that even when new drug therapies are introduced, direct-to-consumer advertising for the drug, there is only an initial slight "uptick" in sales."
explosivejared writes: "The Economist has a write up on the coming boom in undersea cable infrastructure. Firms are expected to spend at least $7 billion over the next three years on new cables. These new investments are the first major expansions since the dot-com bust left telecoms with a load of fancy new fiber but no deluge of traffic to glean profits from. Even though three quarters of undersea fiber is still dark, the article says that along with the forecast for drastic increases in traffic, insuring redundancy is also important to those investing in new cables."
explosivejared writes: "The Economist is running an article that challenges what it calls the "myth" of increased access to broadband access leading to increased productivity across an economy. The article is frank when it says that, "'bigger is better broadband' is orthodoxy, not economics." The reason cited in the article is that so far only media and entertainment deliverers have effectively harnessed the power of high bandwidth on a large scale. Other than that, nobody in the rest of the business world has quite figured out how to use broadband to make a real change in productivity.
So, other than for the infamous Linux.iso's that everyone shares 24 hours a day, maybe Gates only need adjust his immortal 640k comment a little, to say 1.5 mb maybe? I joke, but the article does raise an interesting point."
explosivejared writes: "Reason Magazine online is running an article on the "The Failure of Centralized Scientific Planning." The article is a review of a book, Sex, Science and Profits: How People Evolved to Make Money , on the subject of publicly funded research. The author of the article reinforces the main point of the book that public research has hindered scientific innovation. It makes some very imaginative historical links about private research yielding greater results than public research, going so far as to say that the Dark Ages brought about more innovation than the age of the Romans.
All in all, the article is a provocative read, if not an outright polemic. I personally rejected most of the article's claims in my comment on the article's discussion page. Despite my rejection, the article still incites interesting debate about the fundamental questions regarding the value of public research. We are in a tightening economy and an election year, a recipe for great change in the amount of and commitment to public funding. So, where should we be headed with regards to publicly funded science?"