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Submission + - Largest US Insurance Company to Leave Obamacare (cnn.com)

FlyHelicopters writes: "UnitedHealthcare, the biggest health insurer in the United States, said Tuesday that it plans to exit most of the Affordable Care Act state exchanges where it currently operates by 2017.

And according to estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation, it could mean higher insurance premiums in several states — most notably Alabama, Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska and North Carolina.

UnitedHealth rivals Aetna (AET) and Humana (HUM) are merging. So are Cigna (CI) and Anthem (ANTM). That means that the industry could be about to go from five big players to only three."

Submission + - Big Science is broken (firstthings.com) 1

schwit1 writes: Advocates of the existing scientific research paradigm usually smugly declare that while some published conclusions are surely false, the scientific method has "self-correcting mechanisms" that ensure that, eventually, the truth will prevail. Unfortunately for all of us, Wilson makes a convincing argument that those self-correcting mechanisms are broken.

For starters, there's a "replication crisis" in science. This is particularly true in the field of experimental psychology, where far too many prestigious psychology studies simply can't be reliably replicated. But it's not just psychology. In 2011, the pharmaceutical company Bayer looked at 67 blockbuster drug discovery research findings published in prestigious journals, and found that three-fourths of them weren't right. Another study of cancer research found that only 11 percent of preclinical cancer research could be reproduced. Even in physics, supposedly the hardest and most reliable of all sciences, Wilson points out that "two of the most vaunted physics results of the past few years — the announced discovery of both cosmic inflation and gravitational waves at the BICEP2 experiment in Antarctica, and the supposed discovery of superluminal neutrinos at the Swiss-Italian border — have now been retracted, with far less fanfare than when they were first published."

What explains this? In some cases, human error. Much of the research world exploded in rage and mockery when it was found out that a highly popularized finding by the economists Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhardt linking higher public debt to lower growth was due to an Excel error. Steven Levitt, of Freakonomics fame, largely built his career on a paper arguing that abortion led to lower crime rates 20 years later because the aborted babies were disproportionately future criminals. Two economists went through the painstaking work of recoding Levitt's statistical analysis — and found a basic arithmetic error. This is serious. In the preclinical cancer study mentioned above, the authors note that "some non-reproducible preclinical papers had spawned an entire field, with hundreds of secondary publications that expanded on elements of the original observation, but did not actually seek to confirm or falsify its fundamental basis."

This gets into the question of the sociology of science. It's a familiar bromide that "science advances one funeral at a time." The greatest scientific pioneers were mavericks and weirdos. Most valuable scientific work is done by youngsters. Older scientists are more likely to be invested, both emotionally and from a career and prestige perspective, in the regnant paradigm, even though the spirit of science is the challenge of regnant paradigms.

Why, then, is our scientific process so structured as to reward the old and the prestigious? Government funding bodies and peer review bodies are inevitably staffed by the most hallowed (read: out of touch) practitioners in the field. The tenure process ensures that in order to further their careers, the youngest scientists in a given department must kowtow to their elders' theories or run a significant professional risk. Peer review isn't any good at keeping flawed studies out of major papers, but it can be deadly efficient at silencing heretical views.

Submission + - Flexible e-skin Display is Thinner Than Saran Wrap, Tracks Blood Oxygen Levels (gizmag.com)

Zothecula writes: From displays that curve to screens that swerve, flexible electronics is fast developing area of technology that promises to put a new twist on the way we absorb information. Bending televisions are an early example of this being adapted to the consumer world, and if a team of Japanese researchers has its way electronic skin (e-skin) won't be all that far behind. The team's new durable, flexing OLED display prototype is less than one quarter the thickness of Saran wrap and can be worn on the skin to display blood-oxygen levels, with the developers working to afford it other health-monitoring abilities, too.

Submission + - Is PHP A Better Platform? (bestdesigntuts.com)

pixelcrayons1 writes: PHP is one of the popular server-side scripting languages designed for web development. Today, a big segment of the “server side website development industry” is dominated by PHP. Besides, many popular sites like Wikipedia and Facebook as well as CMSs like WordPress, Magento, Drupal, and Joomla are built on PHP.

Submission + - Bank of England Looks Into 'Centralised' Bitcoin Alternative, RSCoin (thestack.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The Bank of England is working with researchers at University College London to design a Bitcoin clone of its own that can be centrally controlled. It was recently found that the UK’s central bank had reached out to university researchers to help it create a cryptographically secure digital currency. The resulting system has now been revealed, and is named RSCoin. The system employs cryptography to obviate counterfeiting and tampering. Unlike other mechanisms, the digital ledger used by the new cryptocurrency is handled exclusively by a central body and will only be made accessible to users in possession of a specific encryption key. Its developers explained that an RSCoin ledger could be published publicly by a central bank, and added that the system’s design would also allow a central bank to make transactions entirely, or partially, anonymous.

Submission + - Miniature Fuel Cell to Keep Drones Aloft for Over an Hour (gizmag.com)

Zothecula writes: Drones are being utilized in everything from parcel delivery to search and rescue, but their limited flight times are restricting their ability to travel great distances or stay for extended periods of time in the field. Simply adding more batteries, however, affects flight characteristics and reduces the load the drone can carry. To help solve this problem, researchers at the Pohang University of Science and Technology (Postech) have created a miniature fuel cell they claim not only provides enough energy to keep a drone in the sky for over an hour, but may well find applications in powering everything from smartphones to cars in the not-too-distant future.

Submission + - Wi-Fi hotspot blocking persists despite FCC crackdown (networkworld.com)

alphadogg writes: The FCC has slapped hotels and other organizations with nearly $2.1 million in fines since the fall of 2014 for blocking patrons’ portable Wi-Fi hotspots in the name of IT security, or more likely, to gouge customers for Internet service. But Network World’s examination of more than a year’s worth of consumer complaints to the FCC about Wi-Fi jamming shows that not all venue operators are getting the message.

Submission + - Y2K of Time Zones in Windows 10 (mozilla.org)

ememisya writes: Currently the latest version of major browsers (Chrome 47, Edge 20, Firefox 43) are broken on Windows 10 when it comes to dealing with time, more specifically the JavaScript Date object. The Date object, as most JS developers may be familiar with, deals with all things time related on browsers. This is all well, unless for example you were born on March 10 1980 at midnight EST in the US. If you are that unlucky fellow, this means that whenever you are submitting your birth date on a website on Windows 7, 8, or 10, using one of the major browsers mentioned, you will in fact be telling that website that your birth date is March 9th.

The reason for this is the historical shifts of the daylight savings time in the US. For example, in 1980 the daylight savings time for EST US started on April 27th, the last Sunday of April. However as time went on, laws such as Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1986, and more recently Energy Policy Act of 2005, have shifted when the daylight savings time starts and ends.

What's happening on Windows 10 with these modern browsers is that the current daylight savings time policy in 2016 (starting at the second Sunday of March) gets applied historically to all dates in the past, meaning on March 10 1980 at midnight EST, the clocks still showed 12:00AM, but what Firefox, and Chrome does on Windows is to go, "Daylight savings time starts at the second Sunday of March right? Right. Surely it did back then as well." and gives you the Date instance of March 9 1980 at 11:00PM instead.

The Edge browser? First Sunday of April 1980 (the 6th) because why not?

Are you a Pisces or an Aries born in the 80s, in the Unites States of America? Avoid this issue by using a common Linux distribution as the mentioned browsers Chrome and Firefox are working correctly on Linux distributions.

This bug was originally brought to my attention by Catherine Winfrey.

Feed Engadget: GM quietly buys failed Uber rival Sidecar (engadget.com)

They wont say it out loud, but car makers are secretly terrified about what Uber will do to their business. Thats why GM is buying up the remains of one of its rivals, Sidecar, in a deal worth somewhere close to $30 million. Bloomberg is reporting...

Submission + - Detailed Seafloor Gravity Map Brings the Earth's Surface Into Sharp Focus (gizmag.com)

Zothecula writes: Not so long ago the ocean floor was as unknown as the far side of the Moon. Now, an international team of scientists is using satellite data to chart the deep ocean by measuring the Earth's gravitational field. The result is a new, highly-detailed map that covers the three-quarters of the Earth's surface that lies underwater. The map is already providing new insights into global geology.

Submission + - Oxford Scientists Create The Most Expensive Material On Earth (sijutech.com)

Sepa Blackforesta writes: Forget diamond, gold and plutonium, because scientists at Oxford University have created a material with a price tag that dwarfs all of the finest substances money can buy, and they recently sold off their first sample of the material to the tune of £100 million a gram, around $US32,000 for 200 micrograms, the world’s most expensive material ever.

Submission + - Kite power—latest in green technology? (thebulletin.org) 1

Dan Drollette writes: The solution to producing energy without contributing to global warming may be to go fly a kite. Literally. Researchers in Switzerland and Italy — high-altitude places where the winds are strong, steady and predictable — have been working on ways to generate electricity from kites that fly hundreds or thousands of meters high. The scientists already have a prototype cranking out 27 megawatts; they expect to have a 100-megawatt plant big enough to power 86,000 households. And they say that they can produce electricity for less that 4 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is better than fossil fuel. Plus, the kites look really cool (as does the "“Darrieus rotor vertical axis wind turbine” at the base of the St Bernard Pass, on the Swiss side, which I've seen in operation in person). Be sure to click on the links.

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