Google Enters Race For Nuclear Fusion Technology

Slashdot - 3 hours 17 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Google and a leading nuclear fusion company have developed a new computer algorithm which has significantly speeded up experiments on plasmas, the ultra-hot balls of gas at the heart of the energy technology. Tri Alpha Energy, which is backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, has raised over $500 million in investment. It has worked with Google Research to create what they call the Optometrist algorithm. This enables high-powered computation to be combined with human judgement to find new and better solutions to complex problems. Working with Google enabled experiment's on Tri Alpha Energy's C2-U machine to progress much faster, with operations that took a month speeded up to just a few hours. The algorithm revealed unexpected ways of operating the plasma, with the research published on Tuesday in the journal Scientific Reports. The team achieved a 50% reduction in energy losses from the system and a resulting increase in total plasma energy, which must reach a critical threshold for fusion to occur.

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Categories: Science

Otherworlds: A New Book Exploring the Links Between Psi and Psychedelics

Underground Stream - 3 hours 28 min ago

Our good friend (and Darklore contributor) Dr David Luke has a new book available covering the strange lands that live between shamanism and parapsychology: Otherworlds: Psychedelics and Exceptional Human Experience (Amazon US / Amazon UK). Here's the blurb:

A psychonautic scientific trip to the weirdest outposts of the psychedelic terrain, inhaling anything and everything relevant from psychology, psychiatry, parapsychology, anthropology, neuroscience, ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, biochemistry, religious studies, cultural history, shamanism and the occult along the way.

Staring the strange straight in the third eye this eclectic collection of otherworldly entheogenic research delivers a comprehensive and yet ragtaglledy scientific exploration of synaesthesia, extra-dimensional percepts, inter-species communication, eco-consciousness, mediumship, possession, entity encounters, near-death and out-of-body experiences, psi, alien abduction experiences and lycanthropy. Essentially, its everything you ever wanted to know about weird psychedelic experiences, but were too afraid to ask…

David is a former president of the Parapsychology Association who has published almost one hundred papers on transpersonal experiences, anomalous phenomena and altered states of consciousness - so he knows his stuff.

Links: Grab a copy of Otherworlds from Amazon US or Amazon UK

Degenerative Brain Disease Found In Nearly All Donated NFL Player Brains, Says Study

Slashdot - 4 hours 42 min ago
A new study published Tuesday in the journal American Medical Association found that 110 out of 111 brains of those who played in the NFL had degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). NPR reports: In the study, researchers examined the brains of 202 deceased former football players at all levels. Nearly 88 percent of all the brains, 177, had CTE. Three of 14 who had played only in high school had CTE, 48 of 53 college players, 9 of 14 semiprofessional players, and 7 of 8 Canadian Football League players. CTE was not found in the brains of two who played football before high school. According to the study's senior author, Dr. Ann McKee, "this is by far the largest [study] of individuals who developed CTE that has ever been described. And it only includes individuals who are exposed to head trauma by participation in football." A CTE study several years ago by McKee and her colleagues included football players and athletes from other collision sports such as hockey, soccer and rugby. It also examined the brains of military veterans who had suffered head injuries. The study released Tuesday is the continuation of a study that began eight years ago. In 2015, McKee and fellow researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University published study results revealing 87 of 91 former NFL players had CTE.

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Categories: Science

AT&T Loses Record Number of Traditional TV Subscribers In Q2, Drops 156,000 DirecTV Satellite Customers

Slashdot - 5 hours 22 min ago
According to Variety, AT&T's pay-TV business has lost a record 351,000 traditional video customers in the second quarter, with the internet-delivered DirecTV Now service failing to fully offset the losses. From the report: In Q2, historically a seasonally weak period for the pay-TV business, DirecTV's U.S. satellite division lost 156,000 customers sequentially, dropping to 20.86 million, compared with a gain of 342,000 in the year-earlier quarter. AT&T's U-verse lost 195,000 subs in the quarter, which was actually an improvement over the 391,000 it lost in Q2 of 2016. AT&T touted that it gained 152,000 DirecTV Now customers in Q2, after adding just 72,000 in the first quarter of 2017. Overall, it had signed up 491,000 DirecTV Now subs as of the end of June, after the OTT service launched seven months ago.

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Categories: Science

Toyota's New Solid-State Battery Could Make Its Way To Cars By 2020

Slashdot - 6 hours 2 min ago
According to the Wall Street Journal, Toyota is in production engineering for a solid state battery, which uses a solid electrolyte instead of the conventional semi-liquid version used in today's lithium-ion batteries. The company said it aims to put the new tech in production electric vehicles as early as 2020. TechCrunch reports: The improved battery technology would make it possible to create smaller, more lightweight lithium-ion batteries for use in EVs, that could also potentially boost the total charge capacity and result in longer-range vehicles. Another improvement for this type of battery would be longer overall usable life, which would make it possible to both use the vehicles they're installed in for longer, and add potential for product recycling and alternative post-vehicle life (some companies are already looking into putting EV batteries into use in home and commercial energy storage, for example).

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Categories: Science

China Forces Muslim Minority To Install Spyware On Their Phones

Slashdot - 6 hours 42 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bleeping Computer: Chinese authorities in the province of Xinjiang are forcing locals of the Uyghur Muslim minority to install an app on their phones that will allow the government to scan their device for "terrorist propaganda," local media reports. In reality, the app creates MD5 hashes for the user's files and matches them against a database of known terrorist content. The app also makes copies of the user's Weibo and WeChat databases and uploads it to a government server, along with the user's IMEI, IMSI, and WiFi login information. The app is called Jingwang (Citizen Safety) and was developed by police forces from Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital. Authorities launched the app in April, and also included the ability to report suspicious activity to the police. At the start of July, Xinjiang officials started sending WeChat messages in Uyghur and Chinese to locals, asking them to install the app or face detainment of up to 10 days. Police have also stopped people on the street to check if they installed the app. Several were detained for refusing to install it. Locals are now sharing the locations of checkpoints online, so others can avoid getting arrested.

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Categories: Science

Zero-G Blood and the Many Horrors of Space Surgery

Wired News - Tue, 25/07/2017 - 11:30pm
Traumatic injury in space has a huge potential impact on a mission. And people barely know anything about how to deal with it.
Categories: Science

Sperm Counts Among Western Men Have Halved In Last 40 Years, Says Study

Slashdot - Tue, 25/07/2017 - 11:20pm
New submitter flote shares a report from The Guardian: Sperm counts among men have more than halved in the last 40 years, research suggests, although the drivers behind the decline remain unclear. The latest findings reveal that between 1973 and 2011, the concentration of sperm in the ejaculate of men in western countries has fallen by an average of 1.4% a year, leading to an overall drop of just over 52%. The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction Update by an international team of researchers, drew on 185 studies conducted between 1973 and 2011, involving almost 43,000 men. The team split the data based on whether the men were from western countries -- including Australia and New Zealand as well as countries in North America and Europe -- or from elsewhere. After accounting for factors including age and how long men had gone without ejaculation, the team found that sperm concentration fell from 99 million per ml in 1973 to 47.1 million per ml in 2011 -- a decline of 52.4% -- among western men unaware of their fertility. For the same group, total sperm count -- the number of sperm in a semen sample -- fell by just under 60%.

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Categories: Science

Cloudflare Wants to Eliminate 'Moot' Pirate Site Blocking Threat

Slashdot - Tue, 25/07/2017 - 10:40pm
Cloudflare is not happy with the RIAA's efforts to hold the company liable for pirate websites on its network. From a report: Representing various major record labels, the RIAA filed a lawsuit against MP3Skull in 2015. Last year a Florida federal court sided with the RIAA, awarding the labels more than $22 million in damages. In addition, it issued a permanent injunction which allowed the RIAA to take over the site's domain names. Despite the multi-million dollar verdict, MP3Skull continued to operate using a variety of new domain names, which were subsequently targeted by the RIAA's legal team. As the site refused to shut down, the RIAA eventually moved up the chain targeting CDN provider Cloudflare with the permanent injunction. The RIAA argued that Cloudflare was operating "in active concert or participation" with the pirates. Cloudflare objected and argued that the DMCA shielded the company from the broad blocking requirements. However, the court ruled that the DMCA doesn't apply in this case, opening the door to widespread anti-piracy filtering. The court stressed that, before issuing an injunction against Cloudflare, it still had to be determined whether the CDN provider is "in active concert or participation" with the pirate site. [...] Cloudflare now wants the dangerous anti-piracy filtering order to be thrown out. The company submitted a motion to vacate the order late last week, arguing that the issue is moot. In fact, it has been for a while for some of the contended domain names. The CDN provider says it researched the domain names listed in the injunction and found that only three of the twenty domains used Cloudflare's services at the time the RIAA asked the court to clarify its order. Some had never used CloudFlare's services at all, they say.

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Categories: Science

Motorola Unveils the Moto Z2 Force, a Smartphone With Double the Cameras and a Shatterproof Screen

Slashdot - Tue, 25/07/2017 - 10:00pm
Motorola has announced a new flagship smartphone that will be available on every major U.S. carrier. Some of the noteworthy specifications include a nearly indestructible screen and dual rear-facing camera sensors. The Verge reports: The Moto Z2 Force is the closest thing to a flagship phone that Motorola has released this year, and it's got all the hardware specs to show for it: inside is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. It runs Android 7.1 with a promised upgrade to Android O to come. That's all standard fare for an expensive 2017 smartphone, and the Z2 Force is certainly expensive at around $720. It's priced even higher on some carriers like AT&T ($810). This version is much thinner than last year's phone, but that sleek design comes with a significant sacrifice in battery capacity; the Z2 Force has a 2,730mAh battery compared to the 3,500mAh battery in the old Moto Z Force. Between this and the Moto Z2 Play, Motorola sure does seem obsessed with slimming things down lately, and what are we gaining? Oh, there's no headphone jack on this thing either. Be prepared to go wireless or live the dongle life.

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Categories: Science

India's Transport Minister Vows To Ban Self-Driving Cars To Save Jobs

Slashdot - Tue, 25/07/2017 - 9:20pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Companies in the United States, Germany, Japan, and other countries are racing to develop self-driving cars. But India's top transportation regulator says that those cars won't be welcome on Indian streets any time soon. "We won't allow driverless cars in India," said Nitin Gadkari, India's minister for Road Transport, Highways, and Shipping, according to the Hindustan Times. "I am very clear on this. We won't allow any technology that takes away jobs." Gadkari is taking a very different approach from politicians in the United States, where both the Obama and Trump administrations have been keen to promote the development of self-driving vehicles. "We are bullish on automated vehicles," said Obama Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx last year. His successor, Elaine Chao, has also signaled support for self-driving technology, while also expressing concerns about safety risks and potential job losses.

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Categories: Science

Trump Says Apple's Tim Cook Has Promised Him He'd Build Three US Factories: 'Big, Big, Big'

Slashdot - Tue, 25/07/2017 - 8:40pm
President Donald Trump said Tuesday that Apple CEO Tim Cook has committed to build three big manufacturing plants in the U.S., a surprising statement that would help fulfill his administration's economic goal of reviving American manufacturing. From a report: Apple CEO Tim Cook called Trump to share that the iPhone-maker would do more manufacturing domestically, Trump told WSJ. "I spoke to [Mr. Cook], he's promised me three big plants -- big, big, big," Trump was quoted as saying. Apple has already said that it would start a $1 billion fund to promote advanced manufacturing jobs in the United States. With its wide network of developers, Apple has already created two million jobs in the United States, according to Cook.

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Categories: Science

Adobe Flash Will Finally Die Off in 2020

Wired News - Tue, 25/07/2017 - 8:37pm
No, for real this time.
Categories: Science

Large, distant comets more common than previously thought

Science Daily - Tue, 25/07/2017 - 8:10pm
There are about seven times more long-period comets measuring at least 1 kilometer across than previously predicted, suggests new research. The researchers also found that long-period comets are, on average, nearly twice as large as 'Jupiter family' comets, whose orbits are shaped by Jupiter's gravity and have periods of less than 20 years.
Categories: Science

Tech Jobs Are Surging in Seattle, Declining in Silicon Valley

Slashdot - Tue, 25/07/2017 - 8:00pm
The number of posted tech jobs rose by 10.7 percent in the first half of the year from 2016 in the Seattle area, as eight tech hubs continue to dominate the U.S. technology industry, according to a new study by Indeed. From a report: But while Silicon Valley retains its spot as the premier technological center in the U.S., tech listings plunged by 5.9 percent in the western and southern valley around San Jose in the first half of the year, and an even higher 7.8 percent in San Francisco and along the eastern Bay Area, Indeed said. Raleigh, NC, saw the largest plummet, with tech listings dropping by 14.6 percent.

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Categories: Science

Physicists master unexplored electron property

Science Daily - Tue, 25/07/2017 - 7:42pm
While the charge and spin properties of electrons are widely utilized in modern day technologies such as transistors and memories, another aspect of the subatomic particle has long remained uncharted. This is the 'valley' property which has potential for realizing a new class of technology termed 'valleytronics' -- similar to electronics (charge) and spintronics (spin). This property arises from the fact that the electrons in the crystal occupy different positions that are quantum mechanically distinct.
Categories: Science

Study: Yoga helps back pain among veterans

Science Daily - Tue, 25/07/2017 - 7:42pm
Those who completed a 12-week yoga program had better scores on a disability questionnaire, improved pain intensity scores, and a decline in opioid use, a study that included 150 veterans with chronic low back pain found. The findings jibe with those from two past clinical trials involving non-veterans.
Categories: Science

Mediterranean-style diets linked to better brain function in older adults

Science Daily - Tue, 25/07/2017 - 7:42pm
Eating foods included in two healthy diets -- the Mediterranean or the MIND diet -- is linked to a lower risk for memory difficulties in older adults, according to a new study.
Categories: Science

Could spraying particles into marine clouds help cool the planet?

Science Daily - Tue, 25/07/2017 - 7:42pm
A first test of humans' ability to modify clouds would help explain the behavior of clouds and aerosols, while also testing a possible future climate emergency measure.
Categories: Science

Well-designed visual aids improve risk understanding

Science Daily - Tue, 25/07/2017 - 7:42pm
Informed decision making depends on the ability to accurately evaluate and understand information about risk, suggests a new study. A state-of-the-science review of the literature concludes that visual aids are beneficial for diverse people with different levels of numeracy and graph literacy. The study identifies five categories of practical, evidence-based guidelines for the evaluation and design of visual aids.
Categories: Science