7.8 Earthquake Rocks Nepal, Hundreds Dead

Slashdot - 56 min 36 sec ago
An anonymous reader writes: Nepal was struck by an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 today, with an epicenter 80 km east of the country's second biggest city, Pokhara. Its effects were also strongly felt in the capital, Kathmandu. Casualty reports conflict, but authorities have indicated at least 500 are dead and many more are feared to be trapped. Nepal has declared a state of emergency for the affected areas, and asked for international humanitarian assistance. India and Pakistan have both offered help. Some Indian cities were affected by the earthquake as well, and there are reports of avalanches on Mt. Everest, which has many climbers at any given time.

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Categories: Science

Tesla To Announce Battery-Based Energy Storage For Homes

Slashdot - 1 hour 58 min ago
Okian Warrior writes: Billionaire Elon Musk will announce next week that Tesla will begin offering battery-based energy storage for residential and commercial customers. The batteries power up overnight when energy companies typically charge less for electricity, then are used during the day to power a home. In a pilot project, Tesla has already begun offering home batteries to SolarCity (SCTY) customers, a solar power company for which Musk serves as chairman. Currently 330 U.S. households are running on Tesla's batteries in California. The batteries start at about $13,000, though California's Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PCG) offers customers a 50% rebate. The batteries are three-feet high by 2.5-feet wide, and need to be installed at least a foot and a half off the ground. They can be controlled with a Web app and a smartphone app.

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Categories: Science

25 Years of the Hubble Space Telescope: A Story of Redemption

Space.com - 2 hours 16 min ago
This week, NASA and the space science community celebrated 25 years since the launch and deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope, an instrument with one of the greatest redemption stories in science history.
Categories: Science

The Plan to Bring Nature Back to the Los Angeles River

Wired News - 3 hours 20 min ago

Los Angeles' river, a long-neglected wasteland, is about to become an urban oasis: a linear, riparian Central Park.

The post The Plan to Bring Nature Back to the Los Angeles River appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Webmonkey Podcast: Go Behind the Scenes With WIRED’s Coders

Wired News - 3 hours 20 min ago

WIRED announces the rebirth of Webmonkey, with a new podcast on what happens behind the scenes at WIRED, and what's happening in the greater web community.

The post Webmonkey Podcast: Go Behind the Scenes With WIRED’s Coders appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

While You Were Offline: The Avengers Disassemble in Press Junket Hell

Wired News - 3 hours 21 min ago

If there's a running theme to this week's online stories, it's the idea that being a celebrity is fairly weird.

The post While You Were Offline: The Avengers Disassemble in Press Junket Hell appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Sci-Fi Films Need More Big Ideas Like Ex Machina’s

Wired News - 3 hours 21 min ago

In this Geek's Guide to the Galaxy author and Ex Machina director Alex Garland discusses why sci-fi films need more big ideas.

The post Sci-Fi Films Need More Big Ideas Like Ex Machina’s appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

You Should Google Everyone, Even Your Therapist

Wired News - 3 hours 21 min ago

Googling and Facebooking allows us to expedite intimacy when we need it most. We should embrace it.

The post You Should Google Everyone, Even Your Therapist appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Subject: Help, Dammit

Wired News - 3 hours 50 min ago

About a month ago, I bought a car. Unlike the average person, I didn't have to face the dealer alone. I had access to the writers behind WIRED's automotive coverage.

The post Subject: Help, Dammit appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Amp Up Movie Night With This Essential Home Theater Gear

Wired News - 4 hours 26 min ago

An auteur-worthy home theater is easy to achieve–just cast the right gear.

The post Amp Up Movie Night With This Essential Home Theater Gear appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Mystery of the Coldest Spot In the CMB Solved

Slashdot - 4 hours 59 min ago
StartsWithABang writes: The cosmic microwave background is a thing of beauty, as not only does its uniform, cold temperature reveal a hot, dense past that began with the hot Big Bang, but its fluctuations reveal a pattern of overdensities and underdensities in the very early stages of the Universe. It's fluctuations just like these that give rise to the stars, galaxies, groups and clusters that exist today, as well as the voids in the vast cosmic web. But effects at the surface of last scattering are not the only ones that affect the CMB's temperature; if we want to make sure we've got an accurate map of what the Universe was born with, we have to take everything into account, including the effects of matter as it gravitationally grows and shrinks. As we do exactly this, we find ourselves discovering the causes behind the biggest anomalies in the sky, and it turns out that the standard cosmological model can explain it all.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Pirate Bay Blockade Censors CloudFlare Customers

Slashdot - 7 hours 52 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: The blockade of the Pirate Bay by UK ISPs is causing trouble for CloudFlare customers. Several websites have been inadvertently blocked by Sky because a Pirate Bay proxy is hosted behind the same IP-addresses. In a response, CloudFlare threatened to disconnect the proxy site from its network. Like any form of censorship web blockades can sometime lead to overblocking, targeting perfectly legitimate websites by mistake. This is also happening in the UK where Sky's blocking technology is inadvertently blocking sites that have nothing to do with piracy.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Why declining investment in basic research threatens a US innovation deficit

Kurzweil AI - 10 hours 33 min ago

Declining U.S. federal government research investment — from just under 10 percent in 1968 to less than 4 percent in 2015 — in critical fields such as cybersecurity, infectious disease, plant biology, and Alzheimer’s are threatening an “innovation deficit,” according to a new MIT report to be released Monday, April 27.

U.S. competitors are increasing their investment in basic research. The European Space Agency successfully landed the first spacecraft on a comet. China developed the world’s fastest supercomputer and has done research in plant biology uncovering new ways to meet global food demand and address malnutrition. Meanwhile, U.S. investment in basic plant-related research and development is far below that of many other scientific disciplines, despite the fact that the agricultural sector is responsible for more than 2 million U.S. jobs and is a major source of export earnings.

The report, entitled “The Future Postponed: Why Declining Investment in Basic Research Threatens a U.S. Innovation Deficit,” highlights opportunities in basic research that could help shape and maintain U.S. economic power and benefit society.

In the report, MIT faculty members provide examples of critical fields in which investment is required, highlighting potential opportunities and areas where U.S. government support is needed. The authors explain that the FDA has approved 19 new cancer drugs in the past two years, thanks to more than four decades of basic research on the biology of cancer.

Among the recommendations of the report to expand research:

  • Research in neurobiology, brain chemistry, and the science of aging to develop new treatments for Alzheimer’s.
  • New antibiotics could tackle the growing health threat posed by the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, an area where commercial incentives to invest are lacking.
  • Synthetic biology research could lead to such developments as customized treatments for genetic diseases, engineered viruses that can identify and kill cancer cells, and climate-friendly fuels; however, a lack of investment in laboratory facilities is leading to a migration of top talent and research leadership overseas.
  • The U.S. has an opportunity to take a leadership role in a number of areas including fusion energy research, robotics, and quantum information technologies.

The report was prepared by the MIT Committee to Evaluate the Innovation Deficit to examine how research cutbacks will affect the future of scientific research in the U.S.

The event will feature talks by Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); Katrine Bosley, CEO of Editas Medicine; MIT Professor Marc Kastner, president of the Science Philanthropy Alliance; and select MIT faculty. The event is co-sponsored by AAAS, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, The Science Coalition, and MIT.

Other speakers:

  • Maria Zuber, vice president for research at MIT
  • Karl Berggren, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT and director of the Nanostructures Laboratory
  • Chris Kaiser, professor of biology at MIT
  • Ron Weiss, professor of biological engineering and electrical engineering and computer science at MIT and director of the Synthetic Biology Center
  • Anne White, professor of nuclear engineering at MIT

Full schedule: http://dc.mit.edu/innovation-deficit/event


Categories: Science

Microsoft Opens Vulnerability Bounty Program For Spartan Browser

Slashdot - 10 hours 54 min ago
jones_supa writes: As it did in the past when it tried to make Internet Explorer more secure, Microsoft has launched a new bug bounty program for Spartan browser, the default application of Windows 10 for surfing the information highway. A typical remote code execution flaw can bring between $1,500 and $15,000, and for the top payment you also need to provide a functioning exploit. The company says that it could pay even more than that, if you convince the jury on the entry quality and complexity. Sandbox escape vulnerabilities with Enhanced Protected Mode enabled, important or higher severity vulnerabilities in Spartan or its engine, and ASLR info disclosure vulnerabilities are also eligible. If you want to accept the challenge, Microsoft provides more information on how to participate.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Scientists create the sensation of invisibility

Kurzweil AI - 11 hours 43 min ago

Ph.D. student Zakaryah Abdulkarim, M.D., shows how to create the illusion of invisibility in the lab (photomontage) (credit: Staffan Larsson)

How would it feel to be invisible? Neuroscientists at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet have found out. It can actually changes your physical stress response in challenging social situations, for example.

The history of literature features many well-known narrations of invisibility and its effect on the human mind, such as the myth of Gyges’ ring in Plato’s dialogue The Republic and the science fiction novel The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells. Now it’s been studied in the lab.

The experiment

In an open-access article in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers describe the experiment. The participant is standing up and is wearing a set of head-mounted displays. She is asked to look down at her ody, but instead of her real body she sees empty space. Then the scientist touches the participant’s body in various locations with a large paintbrush while, with another paintbrush held in the other hand, exactly imitates those movements in mid-air in full view of the participant.

The experimental setup of the invisible body condition (left panel) and the mannequin condition (right panel) (credit: Arvid Guterstam et al./Scientific Reports)

“Within less than a minute, the majority of the participants started to transfer the sensation of touch to the portion of empty space where they saw the paintbrush move and experienced an invisible body in that position,” says Arvid Guterstam, lead author of the present study. “We showed in a previous study that the same illusion can be created for a single hand. The present study demonstrates that the ‘invisible hand illusion’ can, surprisingly, be extended to an entire invisible body.”

The study examined this illusion experience in 125 participants. To demonstrate that it actually worked, the researchers would make a stabbing motion with a knife toward the empty space that represented the belly of the invisible body. The participants’ sweat response to seeing the knife was elevated while experiencing the illusion but absent when the illusion was broken, which suggests that the brain interprets the threat in empty space as a threat directed toward one’s own body.

Therapy for social anxiety

In another part of the study, the researchers examined whether the feeling of invisibility affects social anxiety by placing the participants in front of an audience of strangers.

“We found that their heart rate and self-reported stress level during the ‘performance’ was lower when they immediately prior had experienced the invisible body illusion compared to when they experienced having a physical body,” says Arvid Guterstam. “These results are interesting because they show that the perceived physical quality of the body can change the way our brain processes social cues.”

The researches hope that the results of the study will be of value to future clinical research, for example in the development of new therapies for social anxiety disorder.

“Follow-up studies should also investigate whether the feeling of invisibility affects moral decision-making, to ensure that future invisibility cloaking does not make us lose our sense of right and wrong, which Plato asserted over two millennia ago,” says principal investigator Henrik Ehrsson, professor at the Department of Neuroscience.

This research was funded by the Swedish Research Council and the Söderberg Foundation.

Abstract of Illusory ownership of an invisible body reduces autonomic and subjective social anxiety responses

What is it like to be invisible? This question has long fascinated man and has been the central theme of many classic literary works. Recent advances in materials science suggest that invisibility cloaking of the human body may be possible in the not-so-distant future. However, it remains unknown how invisibility affects body perception and embodied cognition. To address these questions, we developed a perceptual illusion of having an entire invisible body. Through a series of experiments, we characterized the multisensory rules that govern the elicitation of the illusion and show that the experience of having an invisible body reduces the social anxiety response to standing in front of an audience. This study provides an experimental model of what it is like to be invisible and shows that this experience affects bodily self-perception and social cognition.

Categories: Science

How to create a computer in a test tube

Kurzweil AI - 13 hours 39 min ago

A light beam switches a single molecule, using gold electrodes attached to the diarylethene molecule (credit: HZDR/Pfefferkorn)

How many individual molecules does it take to automatically create a circuit? The answer: one, if you use light to switch it on and off, say scientists at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the University of Konstanz.

The trick: a strong bond between individual atoms that weakens in one location and forms again precisely when energy is pumped into the structure.

The first molecular switch

These molecular electronics devices work in a fluid in a test tube, not on a silicon slab. Jannic Wolf, a chemist at the University of Konstanz, discovered that a particular diarylethene compound is an eligible candidate.

The advantages of this molecule:

  • It rotates very little when a point in its structure opens.
  • It has two “nanowires” that can be used as contacts. It’s an insulator when open and becomes a conductor when closed.

The diarylethene is attached at the end of the nanowires to electrodes so that the current can flow. For that, they used extremely thin tips made of a few gold atoms.

When a beam of light then hits the molecule, it switches from its open to its closed state, resulting in current flowing. “I believe that we have succeeded in making an important step toward a genuine molecular electronic component,” said Erbe.

Well, almost. Switching off doesn’t work yet. But they’re working on it.

Irradiation with ultraviolet light causes a diarylethene molecule to switch from the off state to the on state (credit: Torsten Sendler et al./Advanced Science)

Replacing billion-euro fabs

Artur Erbe, a physicist at the HZDR, is convinced that in the future, molecular electronics will open the door for novel and increasingly smaller (and more energy-efficient) components or sensors. “Single molecules are currently the smallest imaginable components capable of being integrated into a processor,” he suggests.

They scientists are also working on self-organization. “DNA molecules are, for instance, able to arrange themselves into structures without any outside assistance. If we succeed in constructing logical switches from self-organizing molecules, then computers of the future will come from test tubes,” predicts Erbe.

The big advantages: billion-euro manufacturing plants that are necessary for manufacturing today’s microelectronics could be a thing of the past; and very little energy will be required.

The Technische Universität DresdenLeibniz-Institute of Polymer Research Dresden (IPF), the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technology and Systems (IKTS) and the NaMLab gGmbH are also involved in the research.

More in an open-access paper in the journal Advanced Science.

Abstract of Light-Induced Switching of Tunable Single-Molecule Junctions

A major goal of molecular electronics is the development and implementation of devices such as single-molecular switches. Here, measurements are presented that show the controlled in situ switching of diarylethene molecules from their nonconductive to conductive state in contact to gold nanoelectrodes via controlled light irradiation. Both the conductance and the quantum yield for switching of these molecules are within a range making the molecules suitable for actual devices. The conductance of the molecular junctions in the opened and closed states is characterized and the molecular level E 0, which dominates the current transport in the closed state, and its level broadening Γ are identified. The obtained results show a clear light-induced ring forming isomerization of the single-molecule junctions. Electron withdrawing side-groups lead to a reduction of conductance, but do not influence the efficiency of the switching mechanism. Quantum chemical calculations of the light-induced switching processes correlate these observations with the fundamentally different low-lying electronic states of the opened and closed forms and their comparably small modification by electron-withdrawing substituents. This full characterization of a molecular switch operated in a molecular junction is an important step toward the development of real molecular electronics devices.

Categories: Science

Buggy Win 95 Code Almost Wrecked Stuxnet Campaign

Slashdot - 13 hours 56 min ago
mask.of.sanity writes: Super-worm Stuxnet could have blown its cover and failed its sabotage mission due to a bug that allowed it to spread to ancient Windows boxes, malware analysts say. Stuxnet was on the brink of failure thanks to buggy code allowing it to spread to PCs running older and unsupported versions of Windows, and probably causing them to crash as a result. Those blue screens of death would have raised suspicions at the Natanz nuclear lab.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

What Is a Geosynchronous Orbit?

Space.com - Fri, 24/04/2015 - 11:57pm
In a geosynchronous orbit, a satellite orbits Earth at the same speed as the planet is turning, enabling it to stay in place over a single location.
Categories: Science

No, Apple Isn’t Cutting Pebble Off From iOS

Wired News - Fri, 24/04/2015 - 11:32pm

Apple started rejecting Pebble apps seemingly out of nowhere---but it's not as bad as it looks.

The post No, Apple Isn’t Cutting Pebble Off From iOS appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Allegation: Philly Cops Leaned Suspect Over Balcony To Obtain Password

Slashdot - Fri, 24/04/2015 - 11:30pm
An anonymous reader writes with this news from Ars Technica: If you want access to encrypted data on a drug dealer's digital device, you might try to break the crypto—or you might just try to break the man. According to testimony from a police corruption trial currently roiling the city of Philadelphia, officers from an undercover drug squad took the latter route back in November 2007. After arresting their suspect, Michael Cascioli, in the hallway outside his 18th floor apartment, the officers took Cascioli back inside. Although they lacked a search warrant, the cops searched Cascioli's rooms anyway. According to a federal indictment (PDF), the officers 'repeatedly assaulted and threatened [Cascioli] during the search to obtain information about the location of money, drugs, and drug suppliers.' That included, according to Cascioli, lifting him over the edge of his balcony to try to frighten out of him the password to his Palm Pilot. That sounds like a good time for a duress password.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science