Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



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Submission + - We Were Wrong - the Testes Are Connected to the Immune System (sciencealert.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Some parts of the body – including the tissues of the brain and testes – have long been considered to be completely hidden from our immune system.

Last year scientists made the amazing discovery that a set of previously unseen channels connected the brain to our immune system; now, it appears we might also need to rethink the immune system's relationship with the testes, potentially explaining why some men are infertile and how some cancer vaccines fail to provide immunity.

Researchers from University of Virginia School of Medicine discovered a 'very small door' which allows the testes to expose some of its antigens to the immune system without letting it inside.

For the past four decades the testes have been regarded as having 'immune privilege', meaning they don't mount an immune response when introduced to materials the immune system considers foreign.

Together with the brain, eyes, and placenta, inflammation in these parts of the body would be seriously bad news, which could explain why they are all physically or chemically hidden from the white cells and antibodies which protect us from infection.

The science WAS settled.

Submission + - An Unexpected New Lung Function Has Been Found - They Make Blood (sciencealert.com) 1

schwit1 writes: Researchers have discovered that the lungs play a far more complex role in mammalian bodies than we thought, with new evidence revealing that they don't just facilitate respiration — they also play a key role in blood production.

In experiments involving mice, the team found that they produce more than 10 million platelets (tiny blood cells) per hour, equating to the majority of platelets in the animals' circulation. This goes against the decades-long assumption that bone marrow produces all of our blood components.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco also discovered a previously unknown pool of blood stem cells that makes this happen inside the lung tissue — cells that were incorrectly assumed to mainly reside in bone marrow.

"This finding definitely suggests a more sophisticated view of the lungs — that they're not just for respiration, but also a key partner in formation of crucial aspects of the blood," says one of the researchers, Mark R. Looney.

Submission + - Judge OK's Petition for America's First 'Genderless' Person (heatst.com)

schwit1 writes: Home Culture Wars By Jillian Kay Melchior | 12:33 pm, March 25, 2017 A Portland student has become the first American to gain legal designation as “genderless”, following a ruling by a Multnomah County judge.

The March 10 decision, reported for the first time on Thursday, involved a 27-year-old who was born male but claimed to identify with no gender whatsoever. Judge Amy Holmes, who approved the petition, also last year approved a “non-binary” gender designation for another Portland resident.

The 27-year-old formerly known as Patrick Abbatiello, now legally designated agender, also got legal approval to change names, now going only by “Patch,” no surname. That name also serves as a pronoun, Patch explained to the local NBC affiliate this week.

Submission + - Foreign Students Say U.S. High School Classes Are Absurdly Easy (the-american-interest.com)

schwit1 writes: When the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy surveyed foreign exchange students studying in the U.S. in 2001, it found that they thought that American education was a cake walk compared to secondary education in their home countries. And when it conducted the survey again in 2016, it found that exchange students thought that U.S. education was even less challenging than before.

Submission + - SPAM: Peak oil? Sooner than you think

schwit1 writes: The London-based investment advisory firm Redburn thinks that global demand for oil could peak around 2026, writes Fereidoon Sionshansi, President of Menlo Energy Economics and publisher of the newsletter EEnergy Informer. The implications for oil majors are ominous.For some time, there has been speculation about when global oil demand may peak – not because we will run out of oil or prices will spike making oil unaffordable, notions that are now considered passé – but because we won’t be needing as much of the stuff as we thought we would. And once the peak is finally reached – whenever that is – demand will begin to drop thereafter, perhaps precipitously.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: Double Filters Allow Tetrachromatic Vision in Humans.

schwit1 writes: “Humans have three types of cone cells in the back of the eye to differentiate color. Some react to blue, some to green and some to red. The cones do their work by responding to the difference in wavelength of the incoming light. Such vision is known as trichromatic. In this new effort, the researchers have found a way of fooling the brain into seeing as if there were a fourth type of cone, by wearing glasses with two types of filters. The result is tetrachromatic vision. . . . The filters remove some parts of the blue light spectrum. But the filters each remove a different part. When the filters are fitted into a frame and worn like regular glasses, the wearer is able to see colors that are normally hidden—metamers. In a sense, it is rather the opposite of what occurs with people who are color blind. They might see blue and red as the same, even though there is more light information there. Adding spectrum identification to color blind eyes allows for seeing more of what is already there. With the new combined filter system, a person is able to look at what appears to be an object that is all the same color, such as purple, and see more colors in it—those normally hidden metamers.”
Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: Soviet cover-up of nuclear fallout worse than Chernobyl

schwit1 writes: It was a nuclear disaster four times worse than Chernobyl in terms of the number of cases of acute radiation sickness, but Moscow’s complicity in covering up its effects on people’s health has remained secret until now.

We knew that in August 1956, fallout from a Soviet nuclear weapons test at Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan engulfed the Kazakh industrial city of Ust-Kamenogorsk and put more than 600 people in hospital with radiation sickness, but the details have been sketchy.

After seeing a newly uncovered report, New Scientist can now reveal that a scientific expedition from Moscow in the aftermath of the hushed-up disaster uncovered widespread radioactive contamination and radiation sickness across the Kazakh steppes.

The scientists then tracked the consequences as nuclear bomb tests continued — without telling the people affected or the outside world.

The report by scientists from the Institute of Biophysics in Moscow was found in the archive of the Institute of Radiation Medicine and Ecology (IRME) in Semey, Kazakhstan. “For many years, this has been a secret,” says the institute’s director Kazbek Apsalikov, who found the report and passed it on to New Scientist.

More nuclear bomb tests were conducted at Semipalatinsk than anywhere else in the world during the 1950s and early 1960s. Western journalists have reported since the breakup of the Soviet Union on the apparent health effects on villagers downwind of the tests. And some recent studies have estimated radiation doses using proxies such as radioactivity in tooth enamel.

The newly revealed report, which outlines “the results of a radiological study of Semipalatinsk region” and is marked “top secret”, shows for the first time just how much Soviet scientists knew at the time about the human-health disaster and the extent of the cover-up.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Does Windows 10 have a keylogger enabled by default? (privateinternetaccess.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Many Windows 10 users are unknowingly sending the contents of every keystroke they make to Microsoft due to an enabled-by-default keylogger. This function has been around since the beginning of Windows 10, and is a prime example of why you should never go through the default install process on any Operating System. Windows 10 privacy has been a hot button issue since its release years ago. The French government even issued a warning to Microsoft last year, telling them to:

Stop collecting excessive data and tracking browsing by users without their consent.

It seems Microsoft only paid attention to the latter half of that warning. While many Windows 10 users may have technically given their consent, most when informed that this has happened will want to disable the Windows 10 keylogger ASAP.

Submission + - There Are 80,000 US Dams, With An Average Age Of 52 (zerohedge.com)

An anonymous reader writes: In his joint address to Congress, U.S. President Donald Trump touted a $1 trillion infrastructure investment plan as a means to stimulate the economy while constructing, if not rebuilding outright, crucial projects around the country. Trump later met with U.S. business leaders on March 8 seeking support from the private sector for the plan. It is key to implementing the administration's infrastructure goals, primarily as a way to keep costs revenue neutral, so the federal government does not have to increase spending. Specifically, some locks and dams are on the president's priority list. A handful of projects, however, is only a drop in the bucket of aging, in some cases cracking, U.S. water systems.

Officials have been asked to identify new and existing projects that need to be completed in general. The National Governors Association has already presented a list of more than 400 "shovel ready" projects. While details remain scarce, it appears the strategy is to have the private sector fund the majority of any planned projects, using federal funds only when necessary. But relying on the private sector will inevitably skew the infrastructure initiative toward projects that have a better potential for financial returns, such as ports, airports and toll roads.

Submission + - The Federal Government's Student-Loan Fraud (investors.com)

An anonymous reader writes: “President Obama had a great idea back in 2010: nationalize the student loan program, and its problems would soon go away. It didn’t happen. Instead, more people are refusing to pay their student loans than ever before. . . . By taking over the student loan program, Obama in essence politicized it. Last year on the campaign hustings, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders repeatedly talked about making college “free.” That is, they want to socialize the costs, but privatize the benefits, of a college education. Still surprised people aren’t paying their loans?”

Submission + - U.S. Carbon Dioxide Emissions Fall 3 Percent (reason.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The International Energy Agency is reporting data showing that economic growth is being increasingly decoupled from carbon dioxide emissions. Basically, human beings are using less carbon dioxide intensive fuels to produce more goods and services. The IEA attributes the relatively steep drop in U.S. emissions largely to the ongoing switch by electric generating companies from coal to cheap natural gas produced using fracking from shale deposits. Renewals also contributed a bit to the decline. From the IEA:

Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions were flat for a third straight year in 2016 even as the global economy grew, according to the International Energy Agency, signaling a continuing decoupling of emissions and economic activity. This was the result of growing renewable power generation, switches from coal to natural gas, improvements in energy efficiency, as well as structural changes in the global economy.


Submission + - SPAM: NY bill would require removal of inaccurate, irrelevant or excessive statements 1

schwit1 writes: In a bill aimed at securing a "right to be forgotten," introduced by Assemblyman David I. Weprin and (as Senate Bill 4561 by state Sen. Tony Avella), New York politicians would require people to remove 'inaccurate,' 'irrelevant,' 'inadequate' or 'excessive' statements about others...
  • Within 30 days of a "request from an individual,"
  • "all search engines and online speakers] shall remove ... content about such individual, and links or indexes to any of the same, that is 'inaccurate', 'irrelevant', 'inadequate' or 'excessive,'' "
  • "and without replacing such removed ... content with any disclaimer [or] takedown notice."
  • " '[I]naccurate', 'irrelevant', 'inadequate', or 'excessive' shall mean content,"
  • "which after a significant lapse in time from its first publication,"
  • "is no longer material to current public debate or discourse,"
  • "especially when considered in light of the financial, reputational and/or demonstrable other harm that the information ... is causing to the requester's professional, financial, reputational or other interest,"
  • "with the exception of content related to convicted felonies, legal matters relating to violence, or a matter that is of significant current public interest, and as to which the requester's role with regard to the matter is central and substantial."

Failure to comply would make the search engines or speakers liable for, at least, statutory damages of $250/day plus attorney fees.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - SPAM: Astronomers Just Found a Star Orbiting a Black Hole at 1% the Speed of Light

schwit1 writes: Astronomers have spotted a star whizzing around a vast black hole at about 2.5 times the distance between Earth and the Moon, and it takes only half an hour to complete one orbit.

To put that into perspective, it takes roughly 28 days for our Moon to do a single lap around our relatively tiny planet at speeds of 3,683 km(2,288 miles) per hour.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Two Pages of Trumps Taxes Revealed 1

An anonymous reader writes: MSNBC recently released two pages of President Trump's 2005 form 1040. No more Trump tax documents are forthcoming, even though tens of thousands of people have access to Trump’s tax information, and over a million people have petitioned whitehouse.gov for them to be released. With all that potential access to these documents, why is it that no hackers have come up with any more pages of this widely-distributed data? If anyone found it, all they have to do is release it to Wikileaks, who has promised to publish it.

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