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Submission + - Study Reveals Bot-On-Bot Editing Wars Raging On Wikipedia's Pages (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A new study from computer scientists has found that the online encyclopedia is a battleground where silent wars have raged for years. Since Wikipedia launched in 2001, its millions of articles have been ranged over by software robots, or simply “bots," that are built to mend errors, add links to other pages, and perform other basic housekeeping tasks. In the early days, the bots were so rare they worked in isolation. But over time, the number deployed on the encyclopedia exploded with unexpected consequences. The more the bots came into contact with one another, the more they became locked in combat, undoing each other’s edits and changing the links they had added to other pages. Some conflicts only ended when one or other bot was taken out of action. The findings emerged from a study that looked at bot-on-bot conflict in the first ten years of Wikipedia’s existence. The researchers at Oxford and the Alan Turing Institute in London examined the editing histories of pages in 13 different language editions and recorded when bots undid other bots’ changes. While some conflicts mirrored those found in society, such as the best names to use for contested territories, others were more intriguing. Describing their research in a paper entitled Even Good Bots Fight in the journal Plos One, the scientists reveal that among the most contested articles were pages on former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf, the Arabic language, Niels Bohr and Arnold Schwarzenegger. One of the most intense battles played out between Xqbot and Darknessbot which fought over 3,629 different articles between 2009 and 2010. Over the period, Xqbot undid more than 2,000 edits made by Darknessbot, with Darknessbot retaliating by undoing more than 1,700 of Xqbot’s changes. The two clashed over pages on all sorts of topics, from Alexander of Greece and Banqiao district in Taiwan to Aston Villa football club.

Submission + - World's only sample of 'holy grail' metallic hydrogen lost in laboratory mishap (ibtimes.co.uk)

drunkdrone writes: A piece of rare meta poised to revolutionise modern technology and take humans into deep space has been lost in a laboratory mishap. The first and only sample of metallic hydrogen ever created on earth was the rarest material on the planet when it was developed by Harvard scientists in January this year, and had been dubbed "the holy grail of high pressure physics".

The metal was created by subjecting liquid hydrogen to pressures greater that those at the centre of the Earth. At this point, the molecular hydrogen breaks down and becomes an atomic solid.

Scientists theorised that metallic hydrogen – when used as a superconductor – could have a transformative effect on modern electronics and revolutionise medicine, energy and transportation, as well as herald in a new age of consumer gadgets.

Sadly, an attempt to study the properties of metallic hydrogen appears to have ended in catastrophe after one of the two diamonds being used like a vice to hold the tiny sample was obliterated.

Submission + - 188,000 evacuated, emergency declared as California's massive Oroville Dam threa (washingtonpost.com)

Mr D from 63 writes: About 188,000 residents near Oroville, Calif., were ordered to evacuate Sunday after a hole in an emergency spillway in the Oroville Dam threatened to flood the surrounding area. Thousands clogged highways leading out of the area headed south, north and west, and arteries major and minor remained jammed as midnight approached on the West Coast — though by early Monday, Lake Oroville’s water level had dropped to a point at which water was no longer spilling over.

The lake level reached its peak of 902.59 feet at about 3 a.m. Sunday and dropped to 898 feet by 4 a.m. Monday, according to the Sacramento Bee. Water flows over the emergency spillway at 901 feet.

“The drop in the lake level was early evidence that the Department of Water Resources’ desperate attempt to prevent a catastrophic failure of the dam’s emergency spillway appeared to be paying dividends,” the Bee reported Monday.

Submission + - SPAM: President Trump Becoming a One Man Demographic for Cable News Advertising

AmiMoJo writes: Donald Trump watches a lot of television. It is not mere entertainment for him, but also a means to power and a guide to policy. Anonymous aides have said it can be difficult to wrest Trump from the screen to fulfill the duties of his office. Minutes after Fox News used the words "ungrateful traitor" to describe Chelsea Manning and "weak leader" to describe President Obama, Trump sent a tweet calling Manning an "Ungrateful TRAITOR" and Obama "a weak leader." Last week, Maryland Representative Elijah Cummings directly implored the president to call him in a segment on Morning Joe. "I know you’re watching,” he said. “Call me. I want to talk to you.” Hours later, Trump called the congressman's Washington office. Stand Up Republic, the nonprofit led by conservative presidential candidate Evan McMullin and his running mate Mindy Finn, is now airing commercials on Morning Joe just for Trump.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Four of Iceland's main volcanoes all preparing for eruption (icelandmonitor.mbl.is)

Applehu Akbar writes: Because Iceland is the one exposed place on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, it has long been a paradise for vulcanologists. At any given time at least one of its 130 volcanoes is doing...something interesting. Now that four of Iceland's largest volcanoes are showing signs of impending eruption, the world may be in for another summer of ash. Katla, Hecla, Bárðarbunga and Grímsvötn have all had major activity in the past, including vast floods from melting glaciers, enough ash to ground aircraft over all of Europe, volumes of sulfur that have induced global nuclear winter for a decade at a time, and clouds of poisonous fluoride gas.

When the mountains of Iceland speak, the whole world listens.

Submission + - 'Lost continent' found under Mauritius in the Indian Ocean (cnn.com)

schwit1 writes: Found — one lost continent, hiding underneath a tropical holiday destination.

It might sound implausible, but deep at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, a research team, led by South Africa's University of the Witwatersrand, has found pieces of an ancient continent.

The lava-covered piece of continent, dubbed 'Mauritia,' was found under the popular island of Mauritius.

According to the report published this week in the journal Nature Communications, the piece of crust is left over from the breakup of Gondwanaland, a super-continent that existed more than 200 million years ago.


Submission + - Indonesian Air Pollution May Have Killed 100,000 In 2015 (theguardian.com)

dryriver writes: A 12 year old girl named Muhanum Anggriawati is believed to have been one of many victims of the haze, or air pollution, that regularly spreads across Indonesia because of the huge deforestation fires linked to palm oil production and other agribusiness. A number of large Indonesian agribusiness companies appear to be burning down vast swathes of Indonesian forest to grow profitable produce on the cleared land. The Global Fire Emissions Database reports that in 2015, fires in Indonesia generated about 600m tonnes of greenhouse gases, which is roughly equivalent to Germany’s entire annual output. The smoke contains dangerous chemicals such as carbon monoxide, ammonia and cyanide. A study by Harvard and Columbia universities revealed that the haze may have caused the premature deaths of more than 100,000 people in south-east Asia in 2015. The authors estimated that there were 91,000 deaths in Indonesia; 6,500 in Malaysia and 2,200 in Singapore. Due to widespread corruption in Indonesia's court system, the victims of the deadly haze caused by deforestation-by-fire face grave problems in getting the perpetrators held to account.

Submission + - Scientists Crack Why Eating Sounds Can Make People Angry (bbc.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Why some people become enraged by sounds such as eating or breathing has been explained by brain scan studies. The condition, misophonia, is far more than simply disliking noises such as nails being scraped down a blackboard. UK scientists have shown some people's brains become hardwired to produce an "excessive" emotional response. Olana developed the condition when she was eight years old. Her trigger sounds include breathing, eating and rustling noises. Scientists, including Olana, at multiple centres in the UK scanned the brains of 20 misophonic people and 22 people without the condition. They were played a range of noises while they were in the MRI machine, including: neutral sounds such as rain; generally unpleasant sounds such as screaming; people's trigger sounds. The results, published in the journal Current Biology, revealed the part of the brain that joins our senses with our emotions — the anterior insular cortex — was overly active in misophonia. And it was wired up and connected to other parts of the brain differently in those with misophonia. Dr Sukhbinder Kumar, from Newcastle University, told BBC News: "They are going into overdrive when they hear these sounds, but the activity was specific to the trigger sounds not the other two sounds. The reaction is anger mostly, it's not disgust, the dominating emotion is the anger — it looks like a normal response, but then it is going into overdrive." There are no treatments, but Olana has developed coping mechanisms such as using ear plugs. It is still not clear how common the disorder is, as there is no clear way of diagnosing it and it was only recently discovered. Ultimately, the researchers hope, understanding the difference in the misophonic brain will lead to new treatments. One idea is that low levels of targeted electricity passed through the skull, which is known to adjust brain function, could help.

Submission + - Antarctic Bottom Waters Freshening at Unexpected Rate (whoi.edu)

baalcat writes: Shift could disturb ocean circulation and hasten sea level rise, researchers say.

In the cold depths along the sea floor, Antarctic Bottom Waters are part of a global circulatory system, supplying oxygen-, carbon- and nutrient-rich waters to the world’s oceans. Over the last decade, scientists have been monitoring changes in these waters. But a new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) suggests these changes are themselves shifting in unexpected ways, with potentially significant consequences for the ocean and climate.

In a paper published January 25 in Science Advances, a team led by WHOI oceanographers Viviane Menezes and Alison Macdonald report that Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) has freshened at a surprising rate between 2007 and 2016—a shift that could alter ocean circulation and ultimately contribute to rising sea levels.

“If you change the circulation, you change everything in the ocean,” said Menezes, a WHOI postdoctoral investigator and the study’s lead author. Ocean circulation drives the movement of warm and cold waters around the world, so it is essential to storing and regulating heat and plays a key role in Earth’s temperature and climate. “But we don’t have the whole story yet. We have some new pieces, but we don’t have the entire puzzle.”

The puzzle itself isn’t new: past studies suggest that AABW has been undergoing significant changes for decades. Since the 1990s, an international program of repeat surveys has periodically sampled certain ocean basins around the world to track the circulation and conditions at these spots over time. Along one string of sites, or “stations,” that stretches from Antarctica to the southern Indian Ocean, researchers have tracked the conditions of AABW—a layer of profoundly cold water less than 0C (it stays liquid because of its salt content, or salinity) that moves through the abyssal ocean, mixing with warmer waters as it circulates around the globe in the Southern Ocean and northward into all three of the major ocean basins.

Submission + - AI can predict when patients will die from heart failure 'with 80% accuracy' (ibtimes.co.uk)

drunkdrone writes: Scientists say they have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) programme that is capable of predicting when patients with a serious heart disorder will die with an 80% accuracy rate.

Researchers from the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS) believe the software will allow doctors to better treat patients with pulmonary hypertension by determining how aggressive their treatment needs to be.

Submission + - Superbugs now Killing more Americans than Breast Cancer

randomErr writes: Antibiotic-resistant superbugs are now slaying more patients than breast cancer, according to a new statistics by the UK Sepsis Trust. The British Department of Health say about 5,000 people die each year from drug-resistant infections The UK Sepsis Trust looked at the Department of Health’s own data to produce an estimate of 12,000 killed per year by superbugs. That’s more than twice as high as the current estimate.

Submission + - Google Bans AdNauseam Chrome Extension, the Ad Blocker That Clicks on All Ads (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Google has banned the AdNauseam Chrome extension from the Chrome Web Store, an add-on that became very popular with users because it automatically clicked on all ads on a page, which prevented advertisers from building profiles on the extension's users.

Google didn't provide any in-depth details about why it did so, only saying that "An extension should have a single purpose that is clear to users," but the AdNauseam team suspects the extension's purpose might have played a role in having their product banned, which they say contradicts "Google’s business model."

Nevertheless, when Google bans a Chrome extension, it also takes proactive steps that prevent users from updating or re-installing the add-on. This mechanism helps Google ban malware-laced Chrome extension, but it can inadvertently serve as a tool to blackball developers or any unwanted add-ons.

Users that want to bypass Google's ban and install the AdNauseam extension can do so by following this tutorial that shows them how to load the extension using Chrome's Developer Mode. The AdNauseam Firefox and Opera extensions remain standing, and the AdNauseam source code is available on GitHub.

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