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Submission + - Google and NASA are getting a new quantum computer (theverge.com)

sckirklan writes:

The famous Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab is getting some powerful new hardware. A joint project between Google, NASA, and the Universities Space Research Association, the Quantum AI Lab today announced a multi-year agreement to install a D-Wave 2X, a state-of-the-art quantum processor released earlier this year. With over 1,000 qubits, the machine is the most powerful computer of its kind, and will be put to work tackling difficult optimization problems for both Google and NASA.

Submission + - French citizens prepare their 6th Republic

An anonymous reader writes: The 6th June 2015, the first assembly of the 6th Republic happened in Paris, in le Palais de la Découverte (the Palace of Discovery). This civil movement (not officially sanctioned by the current government) has been brewing for the past year, and has created a mixed assembly through online elections (with mandatory gender parity) and random selection.

An audio recording of their debates is available (in french).

They mostly elected to not decide anything by themselves but build and promote tools to empower the citizens.

Submission + - 3D Bioprinters Could Make Enhanced, Electricity-Generating 'Superorgans'

meghan elizabeth writes: Why stop at just mimicking biology when you can biomanufacture technologically improved humans? 3D-printed enhanced "superorgans"—or artificial ones that don’t exist in nature—could be engineered to perform specific functions beyond what exists in nature, like treating disease. Already, a bioprinted artificial pancreas that can regulate glucose levels in diabetes patients is being developed. Bioprinting could also be used to create an enhanced organ that can generate electricity to power electronic implants, like pacemakers.

Submission + - Wordpress: Is Light Pollution the Easiest Environmental Problem to Fix? (wordpress.com)

janedffy writes: Not so terribly long ago, people everywhere experienced nights so black that even the Milky Way could cast shadows on the earth. According to some estimates, around 80 percent of people now live under night skies so polluted by artificial light that they’ve never seen the Milky Way at all.

As with many aspects of modern life, light pollution represents both a triumph of technology and a minor disaster. Along with increased safety, convenience and economic benefits, an artificially lit world brings heath problems, environmental degradation and another layer of inefficient energy consumption. It also disrupts a fundamental relationship that has evolved between humans and the natural world. Far from the province just of goblins and bandits, historians such as A. Roger Ekrich have noted how darkness influenced cultural and social practices. The territory of intimacy and imagination, night can also carve out a refuge from the never-ending responsibilities of the day.

This notion, that night is an integral, and profound, part of the human experience, not merely a few inconvenient hours away from the sun, underpins author Paul Bogard’s impassioned defense The End of Night: Searching for Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light.

In the book, Bogard, who teaches creative nonfiction and environmental writing at James Madison University, and often lectures on the subject of light pollution, charts a geography of night across Western Europe and North America in which the majority of their residents under 40 have been raised in a world without “real night.” For Bogard, who spent his childhood summers in the dark nights at the edge of a Minnesota lake, the pace at which we’re relighting the world has pushed us to the cusp of an incalculable loss. Unchecked, the damage renders our world not just poorer, but also smaller. Throughout human history, for instance, the night sky has offered a taste of transcendence with its awe-inspiring beauty. “And in this beauty,” Bogard writes in the introduction to The End of Night, “the overwhelming size of the universe has seemed less ominous, Earth’s own beauty more incredible. If indeed the numbers and distances of the night sky are so large that they become nearly meaningless, then let us find the meaning under our feet.”

In the edited conversation below, the author discusses the dangers of staying up late with your iPad and the $2.2 billion we could recoup overnight.

A PBS piece on light pollution talks about how, after a huge power outage struck LA in the 1990s, Angelenos were reportedly so freaked out by the appearance of “strange clouds” hovering overhead that they called 911—evidently that was the first time most of them had ever gotten a glimpse of the Milky Way. At this point, what relationship do you think most modern Americans have to the night sky?

I remember recently being in Times Square, and there was so much light that it just felt like we were in a domed stadium almost, looking up at something totally artificial above us. That is obviously the extreme of the situation, but I think that when most Americans are living now in cities and suburbs where they’re getting anywhere from two dozen to four dozen stars instead of 2,500, which is the number you could see on a normal night with no light pollution, it’s almost like why bother? Why have a relationship? I don’t know if most people even look up and notice the stars. And certainly way, way back, when a night sky was something that would tell you stories about your life, we’re way beyond that.

I have very good friends in New Mexico, and I was just out at one of the pueblos there, like an hour from Albuquerque. I said to our guide, it must be amazing here at night, and he said, yeah it is, and I asked, do you have stories associated with the constellations for example? He said, yeah, we have a whole mythology filled with stories about how to live and what a good life is and all that. Human culture in America is totally disconnected from that now.

Your book incorporates a number of literary quotes, as well as references to artists and thinkers like Van Gogh and Thoreau. You seem to be drawing an implicit connection between darkness and the creative impulse.

I was just working on an essay where I was talking about the intangible value of darkness. At least a significant part of its value is these intangibles, like we were just talking in terms of mythology and metaphorical darkness, and I wrote something like, “Darkness is always a part of creation, every artist knows that.” Every artist has had that experience where you’re just like, oh my god, I don’t know what to do next, what’s the next line? What should I paint here? That’s that darkness. It’s not being able to see; it’s not obvious; it’s not lit up.


4-Billion-Pixel Panorama View From Curiosity Rover 101

SternisheFan points out that there is a great new panorama made from shots from the Curiosity Rover. "Sweep your gaze around Gale Crater on Mars, where NASA's Curiosity rover is currently exploring, with this 4-billion-pixel panorama stitched together from 295 images. ...The entire image stretches 90,000 by 45,000 pixels and uses pictures taken by the rover's two MastCams. The best way to enjoy it is to go into fullscreen mode and slowly soak up the scenery — from the distant high edges of the crater to the enormous and looming Mount Sharp, the rover's eventual destination."

Google Pledges Not To Sue Any Open Source Projects Using Their Patents 153

sfcrazy writes "Google has announced the Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge. In the pledge Google says that they will not sue any user, distributor, or developer of Open Source software on specified patents, unless first attacked. Under this pledge, Google is starting off with 10 patents relating to MapReduce, a computing model for processing large data sets first developed at Google. Google says that over time they intend to expand the set of Google's patents covered by the pledge to other technologies." This is in addition to the Open Invention Network, and their general work toward reforming the patent system. The patents covered in the OPN will be free to use in Free/Open Source software for the life of the patent, even if Google should transfer ownership to another party. Read the text of the pledge. It appears that interaction with non-copyleft licenses (MIT/BSD/Apache) is a bit weird: if you create a non-free fork it appears you are no longer covered under the pledge.

Video When Your Data Absolutely, Positively has to be Destroyed (Video) 295

Here's a corporate motto for you: "Destroying data since 1959." Timothy ran into a company called Garner Products (which doesn't use that motto as far as we know), at a security conference. While most exhibitors were busily preserving or encrypting data one way or another, Garner was not only destroying data but delighting in it. And yes, they've really been doing this since 1959; they started out degaussing broadcast cartridges so broadcasters could re-use them without worrying about old cue tones creeping into new recordings. Now, you might ask, "Instead of spending $9,000 or more to render hard drives useless, couldn't you just use a $24 sledge hammer? And have the fun of destroying something physical as a free bonus?" Yes, you could. You'd get healthy exercise as well, and if you only wanted to destroy the data on the hard drives, so what? New drives are cheap these days. But some government agencies and financial institutions require degaussing before the physical destruction (and Garner has machines that do physical destruction, too -- which is how they deal with SSDs). Garner Products President Ron Stofan says in the interview that their destruction process is more certain than shooting a hard drive with a .45. But neither he nor Tim demonstrated a shooting vs. degaussing test for us, so we remain skeptical.

Submission + - GitHub Registers its 3 Millionth User (paritynews.com)

hypnosec writes: Code sharing site and online version control system GitHub, which is based on Git — the distributed version control system developed by Linus Torvalds, has now over three million registered users it has been revealed. Announcing the achievement, the code sharing site used by the likes of jQuery, Perl, PHP, Ruby as well as Joomla said on a blog post that "three millionth person signed up for a GitHub account” on Monday night.

Submission + - This Robot Needs a Hug (itworld.com)

itwbennett writes: "It has been an interesting week at the Computer Human Interaction (CHI) show in Vancouver, what with all the humans and computers interacting. And none have interacted quite so interestingly as a robot developed by scientists at Japan's Osaka University that can convey physical emotions through a phone call or e-mail system. Its intended use: Hugging the elderly so you don't have to."

Submission + - WebGL flaw leaves GPU exposed to hackers

recoiledsnake writes: Google spent a lot of time yesterday talking up WebGL, but UK security firm Context seems to think users should disable the feature because it poses a serious security threat, and the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) is encouraging people to heed that advice. According to Context, a malicious site could pass code directly to a computer's GPU and trigger a denial of service attack or simply crash the machine. Ne'er-do-wells could also use WebGL and the Canvas element to pull image data from another domain, which could then be used as part of a more elaborate attack. Khronos, the group that organizes the standard, responded by pointing out that there is an extension available to graphics card manufacturers that can detect and protect against DoS attacks, but it did little to satisfy Context — the firm argues that inherent flaws in the design of WebGL make it very difficult to secure.

Submission + - Infertility could impede human space colonization (independent.co.uk)

intellitech writes: The prospect of long-term space travel has led scientists to consider, increasingly seriously, the following conundrum: if travelling to a new home might take thousands of years, would humans be able to successfully procreate along the way? The early indications from NASA are not encouraging. Space, it seems, is simply not a good place to have sex.

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