mspohr writes: The Economist has an interesting story about two neuroscientists/engineers who decided to test the methods of neuroscience using a 6502 processor. Their results are published in the PLOS Computational Biology journal. Neuroscientists explore how the brain works by looking at damaged brains and monitoring inputs and outputs to try to infer intermediate processing. They did the same with the 6502 processor which was used in early Atari, Apple and Commodore computers. What they discovered was that these methods were sorely lacking in that they often pointed in the wrong direction and missed important processing steps.
mspohr writes: From the Washington Post: "In a powerful testament to the warming of the planet, two leading U.S. science agencies Wednesday jointly declared 2016 the hottest year on record, surpassing the previous record set just last year — which, itself, had topped a record set in 2014.
Average surface temperatures in 2016, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, were 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than 2015 and featured eight successive months (January through August) that were individually the warmest since the agency’s records began in 1880."
mspohr writes: After four years in prison, Anonymous' rabblerousing information activist is back with a new plan to restart his radical muckraking. A story in Wired recounts the history of legendary Anonymous hacker Barrett Brown and his post prison plans which includes the creation of software for hacktivist muckraking, Pursuant. Brown canâ(TM)t imagine a better time to resume his work as a journalist and radical information agitator. âoeWhen things deteriorate, when the system destroys itself as itâ(TM)s doing right now and does so in such an obvious and disgusting way, my ideas seem less crazy,â he says.
mspohr writes: The Guardian has a news article about a recently published article proposing a way to test the theory that the speed of light was infinite at the birth of the universe: "The newborn universe may have glowed with light beams moving much faster than they do today, according to a theory that overturns Einstein’s century-old claim that the speed of light is a constant.
João Magueijo, of Imperial College London, and Niayesh Afshordi, of the University of Waterloo in Canada, propose that light tore along at infinite speed at the birth of the universe when the temperature of the cosmos was a staggering ten thousand trillion trillion celsius." "Magueijo and Afshordi came up with their theory to explain why the cosmos looks much the same over vast distances. To be so uniform, light rays must have reached every corner of the cosmos, otherwise some regions would be cooler and more dense than others. But even moving at 1bn km/h, light was not travelling fast enough to spread so far and even out the universe’s temperature differences."
mspohr writes: Interesting discussion between Glenn Greenwald and Naomi Klein on The Intercept on the limits of disclosure and privacy. "...the author and activist Naomi Klein believes there are serious threats to personal privacy and other critical political values posed by hacks of this sort, particularly when accompanied by the indiscriminate publication of someone’s personal emails." The article notes that back in the early days, Wikileaks carefully vetted its leaks to avoid compromising personal information. However, the latest leaks of DNC email have no editing and contain personal information such as discussion of personal problems of individuals unrelated to any public purpose. "But personal emails — and there’s all kinds of personal stuff in these emails — this sort of indiscriminate dump is precisely what Snowden was trying to protect us from. That’s why I wanted I wanted to talk with you about it, because I think we need to continuously reassert that principle." Do Wikileaks or journalists have any responsibility to privacy?
mspohr writes: Continuing its leadership in innovation, Apple has patented a paper bag. We all remember the groundbreaking "rounded corners" innovation Now we have a paper bag!!! Just try to make your own paper bag and you'll be speaking with Apple lawyers, (Note: In fairness to Apple, this is a "special" paper bag which is stronger due to numerous improvements on your ordinary bag... just don't try to copy it.)
mspohr writes: The Guardian has an opinion piece by Richard Stallman which argues that we should be able to pay for news anonymously. From the article: "Online newspapers and magazines have come to depend, for their income, on a system of advertising and surveillance, which is both annoying and unjust. Readers are rebelling by installing ad blockers, which cut into the publisher’s surveillance-based income. And in response, some sites are cutting off access to readers unless they accept being surveilled. What they ought to do instead is give us a truly anonymous way to pay." He also (probably not coincidentally) has developed a method to do just that. "For the GNU operating system, which was created by the free software movement and is typically used with the kernel Linux, we are developing a suitable payment system called GNU Taler that will allow publishers to accept anonymous payments from readers for individual articles. "
mspohr writes: The NY Times has an interesting article about GE "reinventing" itself as a software start-up. "It may not qualify as a lightning-bolt eureka moment, but Jeffrey R. Immelt, chief executive of General Electric, recalls the June day in 2009 that got him thinking. He was speaking with G.E. scientists about new jet engines they were building, laden with sensors to generate a trove of data from every flight — but to what end?
That data could someday be as valuable as the machinery itself, if not more so. But G.E. couldn’t make use of it.
“We had to be more capable in software,” Mr. Immelt said he decided. Maybe G.E. — a maker of power turbines, jet engines, locomotives and medical-imaging equipment — needed to think of its competitors as Amazon and IBM." They have a software center with 1,400 employees in San Ramon, Ca and are developing a new OS, Predix, designed to work with sensor data from machines. "G.E.’s success or failure over the next decade, Mr. Immelt says, depends on this transformation. He calls it “probably the most important thing I’ve worked on in my career.”
mspohr writes: Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute has written a review in Medium (https://medium.com/solutions-journal-summer-2016/soft-energy-paths-f044e7b65443#.eyikcq16c) of his 1976 article (Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken http://www.rmi.org/Knowledge-C...) where he reviews his predictions as well as government predictions for the energy future. "At that teachable moment, my Foreign Affairs article “Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken?” reframed the energy problem and added an alternative vision of U.S. energy strategy. The “hard path” was more of the same; the “soft path” combined energy efficiency with a shift to renewable supply. The article soon became that venerable journal’s most-reprinted ever, spreading as virally as pre-Internet technologies permitted. Forty years later, a review of its initial reception and continued influence shows what lessons have and haven’t been learned."
"In contrast to the soft path’s dependence on pluralistic consumer choice in deploying a myriad of small devices and refinements, the hard path depends on difficult, large-scale projects requiring a major social commitment under centralized management. The hard path, sometimes portrayed as the bastion of free enterprise and free markets, would instead be a world of subsidies, $100-billion bailouts, oligopolies, regulations, nationalization, eminent domain, corporate statism.”
Interesting look back from the perspective of 40 years ago to see how energy use, policy, and supply have evolved.
mspohr writes: Our favorite science guy has an interview (and video) in Quartz where he explains how Louisiana flooding is due to climate change: “As the ocean gets warmer, which it is getting, it expands,” Nye explained. “Molecules spread apart, and then as the sea surface is warmer, more water evaporates, and so it’s very reasonable that these storms are connected to these big effects.” The article also notes that a National Academy of Sciences issued a report with the same findings: "Scientists from around the world have concurred with Nye that this is exactly what the effects of climate change look like, and that disasters like the Louisiana floods are going to happen more and more. According to a National Academy of Sciences report published earlier this year, extreme flooding can be traced directly to human-induced global warming. As the atmosphere warms, it retains more moisture, leading to bouts of sustained, heavy precipitation that can cause floods."
mspohr writes: Bill McKibbin has an article in the New Republic which lays out the case for a broad effort to mobilize our resources to fight climate change. "For years, our leaders chose to ignore the warnings of our best scientists and top military strategists. Global warming, they told us, was beginning a stealth campaign that would lay waste to vast stretches of the planet, uprooting and killing millions of innocent civilians. But instead of paying heed and taking obvious precautions, we chose to strengthen the enemy with our endless combustion; a billion explosions of a billion pistons inside a billion cylinders have fueled a global threat as lethal as the mushroom-shaped nuclear explosions we long feared. Carbon and methane now represent the deadliest enemy of all time, the first force fully capable of harrying, scattering, and impoverishing our entire civilization." "By most of the ways we measure wars, climate change is the real deal: Carbon and methane are seizing physical territory, sowing havoc and panic, racking up casualties, and even destabilizing governments. " He includes analysis of just what it would take in terms of industrial mobilization to stop polluting with CO2. The answer is, a lot, but it is possible.
mspohr writes: The Arctic’s ice is disappearing. We must reduce emissions, fast, or the human castastrophe predicted by ocean scientist Peter Wadhams will become reality. "When in 1970 he joined the first of what would be more than 50 polar expeditions, the Arctic sea ice covered around 8m sq km at its September minimum. Today, it hovers at around 3.4m, and is declining by 13% a decade. In 30 years Wadhams has seen the Arctic ice thin by 40%, the world change colour at its top and bottom and the ice disappear in front of his eyes.
In a new book, published just as July 2016 is confirmed by Nasa as the hottest month ever recorded, this most experienced and rational scientist states what so many other researchers privately fear but cannot publicly say – that the Arctic is approaching a death spiral which may see the entire remaining summer ice cover collapse in the near future."
mspohr writes: An article published by Bill McKibben in The Guardian points the finger at Exxon for spreading climate change denial which led to lack of action to prevent widespread coral die-off. "We know the biggest culprits now, because great detective work by investigative journalists has uncovered key facts in the past year. The world’s biggest oil company, Exxon, knew everything there was to know about climate change by the late 1970s and early 1980s. Its scientists understood how much and how fast it was going to warm, and how much damage that was going to do. And the company knew the scientists were right: that’s why they started “climate-proofing” their own installations, for instance building their drilling rigs to accommodate the sea level rise they knew was coming.
What they didn’t do was tell the rest of us. Instead, they – and many other players in the fossil fuel industry – bankrolled the rise of the climate denial industry, helping fund the “thinktanks” and front groups that spent the last generation propagating the phoney idea that there was a deep debate about the reality of global warming. As a result, we’ve wasted a quarter century in a phoney argument about whether the climate was changing."
mspohr writes: A new venture from a cybersecurity legend, Peiter Zatko, known more commonly by his hacker handle “Mudge” and his wife, Sarah, a former NSA mathematician, have developed a first-of-its-kind method for testing and scoring the security of software. "Called the Cyber Independent Testing Lab, the Zatkos’ operation won’t tell you if your software is literally incendiary, but it will give you a way to comparison-shop browsers, applications, and antivirus products according to how hardened they are against attack. It may also push software makers to improve their code to avoid a low score and remain competitive." The Zatkos’ system is not comprehensive, and although it will provide one indicator of security risk, it’s not a conclusive indicator. Vendors are going to hate it. "The technique involves, in part, analyzing binary software files using algorithms created by Sarah to measure the security hygiene of code. During this sort of examination, known as “static analysis” because it involves looking at code without executing it, the lab is not looking for specific vulnerabilities, but rather for signs that developers employed defensive coding methods to build armor into their code." There will be a presentation at the Black Hat conference next week: https://www.blackhat.com/us-16...
mspohr writes: A few years ago, a Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/yuansong84/ifind-the-worlds-first-battery-free-item-locating/description) was set up to develop a locator tag powered by free RF energy harvested from the environment. This was called a scam here on Slashdot (https://mobile.slashdot.org/story/14/06/23/2357200/500k-energy-harvesting-kickstarter-scam-unfolding-right-now) and was shut down before it was funded on Kickstarter. However, it now appears that the concept is not as far-fetched as some predicted. A UK company CleanSpace (https://store.clean.space/) has developed a CO sensor which is powered by free RF. Here's a review (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C1zjblLIyI). It uses Freevolt (http://www.getfreevolt.com/) technology to keep a battery charged and the CO sensor running. Since they have several thousand of these devices collecting data (https://our.clean.space/maplondon/), they do appear to work and it seems to be in the "not a scam" department.