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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experiment in Antarctica, and the supposed discovery of superluminal neutrinos at the Swiss-Italian border — have now been retracted, with far less fanfare than when they were first published."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 + - 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.

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.

Submission + - AMD Unveils 64-Bit ARM-Based Opteron A1100 System On Chip With Integrated 10GbE (hothardware.com)

MojoKid writes: AMD is adding a new family of Opterons to its enterprise processor line-up today called the Opteron A1100 series. Unlike AMD's previous enterprise offerings, however, these new additions are packing ARM-based processor cores, not the X86 cores AMD has been producing for years. The Opteron A1100 series is designed for a variety of use cases and applications, including networking, storage, dense and power-efficient web serving, and 64-bit ARM software development. The new family was formerly codenamed "Seattle" and it represents the first 64-bit ARM Cortex-A57-based platform from AMD. AMD Opteron A1100 Series chips will pack up to eight 64-bit ARM Cortex-A57 cores with up to 4MB of shared Level 2 and 8MB of shared Level 3 cache. They offer two 64-bit DDR3/DDR4 memory channels supporting speeds up to 1866 MHz with ECC and capacities up to 128GB, dual integrated 10Gb Ethernet network connections, 8-lanes of PCI-Express Gen 3 connectivity, and 14 SATA III ports. AMD is shipping to a number of software and hardware partners now with development systems already available.

Submission + - Black Hat SEO Campaign Powered By SQL Injection

itwbennett writes: A new threat advisory from Akamai warns of a Black Hat SEO campaign that's leveraging SQL Injection as a means to generate links to a website dedicated to stories about cheating. At one point, Akamai says, the campaign included more than 3,800 websites and 348 unique IP addresses. CSO Online's Steve Ragan points out that 'technically, the campaign is more mass defacement than straight-up SEO scam, because the primary focus was SQL Injection.' And, while the Akamai report doesn't list the website behind the campaign, Ragan did some digging and found that storyofcheating[dot]com is the site that got the most traffic from the campaign.
Programming

Submission + - Oracle v Google A Programmer Reads the Patents (i-programmer.info)

mikejuk writes: After much group discussion about the Oracle/Google trial, I suddenly realized that none of my colleagues had read the patents — neither had I and this meant we were all talking about something we didn't know anything about. So I decided to find out what the patents really cover by reading them from cover to cover — the results were interesting.
Do you think I found amazing ideas worthy of patent protection?

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