NASA Launches Massive Digital Library For Space Video, Photos and Audio

Slashdot - 23 min 42 sec ago
earlytime quotes a report from Space.com: NASA on Tuesday (March 28) unveiled a new online library that assembles the agency's amazing space photos, videos and audio files into a single searchable library. The NASA Image and Video Library, as the agency calls it, can be found at http://images.nasa.gov/ and consolidates space imagery from 60 different collections into one location. The new database allows users to embed NASA imagery in websites, includes image metadata like date, description and keywords, and offers multiple resolution sizes, NASA officials said. According to the NASA statement, other features include: Automatic scaling to suite the interface for mobile phones and tablets; EXIF/camera data that includes exposure, lens used and other information (when available from the original image); Easy public access to high resolution files; Downloadable caption files for all videos. The new NASA archive is not meant to be a complete archive of all of the space agency imagery. But it does aim to showcase what the space agency has to offer.

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Categories: Science

Scientists Turn Mammalian Cells Into Complex Biocomputers

Slashdot - 3 hours 53 min ago
sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: Computer hardware is getting a softer side. A research team has come up with a way of genetically engineering the DNA of mammalian cells to carry out complex computations, in effect turning the cells into biocomputers. The group hasn't put those modified cells to work in useful ways yet, but down the road researchers hope the new programming techniques will help improve everything from cancer therapy to on-demand tissues that can replace worn-out body parts. To upgrade their DNA "switches," Wong and his colleagues steered clear of transcription factors and instead switched human kidney cell genes on and off using scissor-like enzymes that selectively cut out snippets of DNA. These enzymes, known as DNA recombinases, recognize two target stretches of DNA, each between 30 to 50 or more base pairs long. When a recombinase finds its target DNA stretches, it cuts out any DNA in between, and stitches the severed ends of the double helix back together. To design genetic circuits, Wong and his colleagues use the conventional cellular machinery that reads out a cell's DNA, transcribes its genes into RNA, and then translates the RNA into proteins. This normal gene-to-protein operation is initiated by another DNA snippet, a promoter, that sits just upstream of a gene. When a promoter is activated, a molecule called RNA polymerase gets to work, marching down the DNA strand and producing an RNA until it reaches another DNA snippet -- a termination sequence -- that tells it to stop. To make one of their simplest circuits, Wong's team inserted four extra snippets of DNA after a promoter. The main one produced green fluorescent protein (GFP), which lights up cells when it is produced. But in front of it was a termination sequence, flanked by two snippets that signaled the DNA recombinase. Wong and his team then inserted another gene in the same cell that made a modified recombinase, activated only when bound to a specific drug; without it, the recombinase wouldn't cut the DNA. When the promoter upstream of the GFP gene was activated, the RNA polymerase ran headfirst into the termination sequence, stopped reading the DNA, and didn't produce the fluorescent protein. But when the drug was added, the recombinase switched on and spliced out the termination sequence that was preventing the RNA polymerase from initiating production of GFP. Voila, the cell lit up. The approach Wong and his colleagues used worked so well that they were able to build 113 different circuits, with a 96.5% success rate. The study has been published in the journal Nature.

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Categories: Science

Bay Area Tech Executives Indicted For H-1B Visa Fraud

Slashdot - 6 hours 23 min ago
New submitter s.petry quotes a report from The Mercury News: Two Bay Area tech executives are accused of filing false visa documents through a staffing agency in a scheme to illegally bring a pool of foreign tech workers into the United States. An indictment from a federal grand jury unsealed on Friday accuses Jayavel Murugan, Dynasoft Synergy's chief executive officer, and a 40-year-old Santa Clara man, Syed Nawaz, of fraudulently submitting H-1B applications in an effort to illegally obtain visas, according to Brian Stretch, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California. The men are charged with 26 counts of visa fraud, conspiracy to commit visa fraud, use of false documents, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to prosecutors. Each charge can carry penalties of between two and 20 years in prison. Prosecutors say the men used fraudulent documents to bring workers into the U.S. and create a pool of H-1B workers to hire out to tech companies. The indictment charges that from 2010 to 2016, Dynasoft petitioned to place workers at Stanford University, Cisco and Brocade, but the employers had no intention of receiving the foreign workers named on the applications. Nawaz submitted fake "end-client letters" to the government, falsely claiming the workers were on-site and performing jobs, according to the indictment. Slashdot reader s.petry adds: "While not the only problem with the H-1B Visa program, this is a start at investigating and hopefully correcting problems."

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Categories: Science

Ask Slashdot: What Are Some Lies Programmers Tell Themselves?

Slashdot - 7 hours 3 min ago
snydeq writes: "Confidence in our power over machines also makes us guilty of hoping to bend reality to our code," writes Peter Wayner, in a discussion of nine lies programmers tell themselves about their code. "Of course, many problems stem from assumptions we programmers make that simply aren't correct. They're usually sort of true some of the time, but that's not the same as being true all of the time. As Mark Twain supposedly said, 'It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.'" The nine lies Wayner mentions in his discussion include: "Questions have one answer," "Null is acceptable," "Human relationships can be codified," "'Unicode' stands for universal communication," "Numbers are accurate," "Human language is consistent," "Time is consistent," "Files are consistent," and "We're in control." Can you think of any other lies programmers tell themselves?

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Categories: Science

Trump Can Scrub the Clean Power Plan, But the West Will Stay Green

Wired News - 7 hours 3 min ago
The region is poised for more renewable energy and less coal. The post Trump Can Scrub the Clean Power Plan, But the West Will Stay Green appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

The Galaxy S8 Will Be Samsung's Biggest Test Ever

Slashdot - Tue, 28/03/2017 - 11:40pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: You know what's coming tomorrow, you've known and waited for it for months now. Samsung's 2017 flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8, will be officially announced, and one of the most critical periods in the company's history will begin. The phone Samsung launches on Wednesday will carry greater expectations and have to prove a lot more than usual. Even as the world's biggest smartphone maker, Samsung's mobile credibility was deeply shaken by the Galaxy Note 7 snafu, so it now needs to reassert its reliability while also rebooting its technological advantage. Vlad Savov provides a "rundown of the biggest challenges facing Samsung" in his report. While Samsung will need to nail the design and camera performance, as well as many other things, the most critical area will be the battery, given how the Note 7 was recalled due to battery issues. Even though that incident took place half a year ago, we are still faced with the consequences. Samsung is still trying to figure out what to do with the "recalled units" and people are still making bad jokes about "explosive Samsung news." If the Galaxy S8 is to have any battery issues whatsoever, the result could be catastrophic for the company. Though, Samsung is well aware of this and has likely packed "the most robust and durable batteries we've ever seen in a smartphone" inside the Galaxy S8 devices.

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Categories: Science

Google Launches New Website To Showcase Its Open Source Projects and Processes

Slashdot - Tue, 28/03/2017 - 11:10pm
BrianFagioli writes: Google is an essential member of the open source community. The search giant contributes some really great projects, offering code to be used many -- it claims more than 2,000 such contributions! Heck, the company even hosts the annual Summer of Code program, where it pairs students with open source projects teams. In other words, Google is helping to get young folks excited about open source. Today, Google announced that it is launching an all-new website to focus on open source. It is not a general open source site, but a destination to learn more about the search-giant's relationship with it. "Today, we're launching opensource.google.com, a new website for Google Open Source that ties together all of our initiatives with information on how we use, release, and support open source. This new site showcases the breadth and depth of our love for open source. It will contain the expected things: our programs, organizations we support, and a comprehensive list of open source projects we've released. But it also contains something unexpected: a look under the hood at how we 'do' open source," says Will Norris, Open Source Programs Office, Google.

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Categories: Science

Law of physics explains natural drivers of wealth inequality

Science Daily - Tue, 28/03/2017 - 11:06pm
A engineering professor has proposed an explanation for why the income disparity in America between the rich and poor continues to grow. According to the constructal law of physics, income inequality naturally grows along with the economy.
Categories: Science

Man with quadriplegia employs injury bridging technologies to move again -- just by thinking

Science Daily - Tue, 28/03/2017 - 11:06pm
A subject who was paralyzed below his shoulders in a bicycling accident, is believed to be the first person with quadriplegia in the world to have arm and hand movements restored with the help of two temporarily implanted technologies. A brain-computer interface with recording electrodes under his skull, and a functional electrical stimulation (FES) system activating his arm and hand, reconnect his brain to paralyzed muscles.
Categories: Science

Whither we goest?

Michael Prescott - Tue, 28/03/2017 - 10:54pm

I haven't posted much new material lately, in part because I've been busy, but also in part because I'm not quite sure what this blog should be about anymore. When I started blogging back in January of 2005, I unimaginatively titled my space Michael Prescott's Blog because I had no idea what subject matter I would end up discussing. I definitely didn't anticipate homing in on evidence for life after death and its implications. If anything, I probably figured I would talk mostly about fiction writing, movies, and current events, with the paranormal as only a small part of the mix. 

But over the years, the reactions I got from readers were usually most positive when psi and afterlife issues were under discussion. As a result, in classic stimulus-and-response fashion, I gravitated toward this material. I've written in the last year or two that I'm not quite as interested in this subject as I used to be; I've read and written so much about it that, for me, it feels kind of played out. A few times in the past year, I've put up a post on politics just for variety, but in almost all cases I've gotten many negative responses. 

What's been most apparent recently, however, is that even when I put up a nonpolitical post, the discussion can turn heatedly political in short order. This was most obvious with regard to my post "A World of Hurt," which concerned different theories of evil and their spiritual implications; the comments thread has spiraled down into a free-for-all about Donald Trump, Brexit, and other hot-button issues that have very little to do with the original topic.

My impression is that many readers, like me, are starting to get bored with rehashing paranormal and spiritual issues, and are looking for a different direction. This is fine by me. The problem is, I'm not quite sure what direction to take. I don't want to turn this blog into a political forum, because the arguments can become so contentious, and because there are already a huge number of political websites pushing every conceivable point of view. Besides, who wants to think about politics all the time?

I do, however, have other interests – for instance, the Shakespeare authorship question, classic and contemporary movies, fiction-writing techniques and practices, the history of Christianity as reconstructed by modern New Testament academic studies, special visual effects in cinema, and money management. I can probably think of other things, but that's a start.

I'm wondering if perhaps the blog should become more eclectic and deal with some or all of the above issues on a regular basis, along with the occasional paranormal post as necessary. Or would it be better to stick with paranormal stuff and simply have fewer posts? Or do you think it's time for me to shut down the blog, while leaving all the earlier posts and comments threads archived indefinitely?

I'm open to any suggestions and ideas. I'll be traveling tomorrow, so I may not be able to approve comments right away.

Categories: Fortean

DJI Proposes New Electronic 'License Plate' For Drones

Slashdot - Tue, 28/03/2017 - 10:40pm
linuxwrangler writes: Chinese drone maker DJI proposed that drones be required to transmit a unique identifier to assist law enforcement to identify operators where necessary. Anyone with an appropriate receiver could receive the ID number, but the database linking the ID with the registered owner would only be available to government agencies. DJI likens this to a license plate on a car and offers it as a solution to a congressional mandate that the FAA develop methods to remotely identify drone operators. "The best solution is usually the simplest," DJI wrote in a white paper on the topic, which can be downloaded at this link. "The focus of the primary method for remote identification should be on a way for anyone concerned about a drone flight in close proximity to report an identifier number to the authorities, who would then have the tools to investigate the complaint without infringing on operator privacy. [...] No other technology is subject to mandatory industry-wide tracking and recording of its use, and we strongly urge against making UAS the first such technology. The case for such an Orwellian model has not been made. A networked system provides more information than needed, to people who don't require it, and exposes confidential business information in the process."

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Categories: Science

Hong Kong Government Loses Laptops Containing Personal Data of 3.7 Million Voters

Slashdot - Tue, 28/03/2017 - 10:00pm
New submitter fatp writes: Hong Kong Free Press reports that the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) has lost two laptops containing the personal data of all 3.7 million voters after the chief executive election [on Sunday]. The REO said "the personal data was encrypted and there was no evidence that it had been leaked." Only 1,194 people had right to vote in the election.

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Categories: Science

China's ZTE Removed From US Trade Blacklist

Slashdot - Tue, 28/03/2017 - 9:20pm
From a report: The U.S. Commerce Department will remove Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE Corp from a trade blacklist after the company admitted to violating sanctions on Iran, the Commerce Department said in a notice made public on Tuesday.

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Categories: Science

Amazon’s Time-Saving Trick for Groceries: You Drive to Us

Wired News - Tue, 28/03/2017 - 8:58pm
The company that changed retail forever by bringing everything to your door wants to convince you it's innovative to drive to them. The post Amazon's Time-Saving Trick for Groceries: You Drive to Us appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

US Congress Votes To Shred ISP Privacy Rules

Slashdot - Tue, 28/03/2017 - 8:40pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: The U.S. House of Representatives has just approved a "congressional disapproval" vote of privacy rules, which gives your ISP the right to sell your internet history to the highest bidder. The measure passed by 232 votes to 184 along party lines, with one Democrat voting in favor and 14 not voting. This follows the same vote in the Senate last week. Just prior to the vote, a White House spokesman said the president supported the bill, meaning that the decision will soon become law. This approval means that whoever you pay to provide you with internet access -- Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, etc -- will be able to sell everything they know about your use of the internet to third parties without requiring your approval and without even informing you. That information can be used to build a very detailed picture of who you are: what your political and sexual leanings are; whether you have kids; when you are at home; whether you have any medical conditions; and so on -- a thousand different data points that, if they have sufficient value to companies willing to pay for them, will soon be traded without your knowledge. With over 100 million households online in the United States, that means Congress has just given Big Cable an annual payday of between $35 billion and $70 billion.

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Categories: Science

BitTorrent To Refocus On What Made It Rich - uTorrent

Slashdot - Tue, 28/03/2017 - 8:00pm
Best known for its uTorrent client, BitTorrent Inc has been focusing more on other projects for a while. But now, with another shake-up imminent, the company has made a fresh commitment to focus on uTorrent and Mainline clients. From an article on TorrentFreak: Caught between the bad publicity generated by millions of pirates using the software for less than legal activities, a reliance on its huge revenue, plus its role in distributing content from signed-up artists, BitTorrent Inc. has at times been required to delicately maneuver around the client's very existence. Now, however, that might be about to change. According to a report from Variety, changes are underway at BitTorrent Inc that could see uTorrent and its Mainline sister client come back into the limelight. First up, the company has yet another new CEO. Rogelio Choy joins the company after spending two years at parking service Luxe Valet. However, Choy is also a former BitTorrent employee, serving as its Chief Operating Officer between 2012 and 2015. The hiring of Choy reportedly coincides with a shake-up of BitTorrent Inc.'s product line. BitTorrent Live, the patented live video streaming project developed by BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen, will be set loose as a separate, venture-funded company, Variety reports.

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Categories: Science

AT&T Joins The Linux Foundation as a Platinum Member

Slashdot - Tue, 28/03/2017 - 7:40pm
From a press release: The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit advancing professional open source management for mass collaboration, today announced that AT&T has become a Platinum member. This follows news of the company's contribution of several million lines of ECOMP code to The Linux Foundation, as well as the new Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) Project based on production-ready code from AT&T and OPEN-O contributors. Chris Rice, senior vice president of AT&T Labs, joins The Linux Foundation Board of Directors and was also recently selected as the ONAP chairman. "Open source is crucial to AT&T's software transformation," said Chris Rice, chairman of ONAP and senior vice president of AT&T Labs. "So, it was a natural decision for us to join The Linux Foundation. SDN is helping us meet performance, capital spending and efficiency goals and we expect continued benefits. But more so, we recognize that the open source community accelerates innovation. We're excited to work with The Linux Foundation and its members to promote a globally accepted platform for SDN and NFV technologies."

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Categories: Science

Tinder’s New Desktop App Pushes You to Actually Talk to People

Wired News - Tue, 28/03/2017 - 7:34pm
Tinder Online encourages users to temper their snap judgements with some genuine connections. The post Tinder's New Desktop App Pushes You to Actually Talk to People appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

Facebook Copied Snapchat a Fourth Time, and Now All Its Apps Look the Same

Slashdot - Tue, 28/03/2017 - 7:20pm
Facebook is copying Snapchat again. From a report on Recode: Today it launched Stories, the 24-hour photo and video montages that ultimately disappear, inside of its core Facebook app. This is the fourth time Facebook has cloned the key Snapchat feature in the past nine months; the social giant has already copied it into Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. On the surface, Facebook's move simply looks like an unabashed defense strategy against Snapchat, the company's most obvious threat since 2011, when Google tried to dive into social with a service that turned out to be much more like a bellyflop. This is getting serious. What many people don't realize is that even if Facebook manages to get half a percent of its users to use its copycat tools, Snapchat will lose a substantial number of potential customers that could have joined its service. With Facebook, which has over 1.8 billion users (+ the possibly tens of millions of people that use WhatsApp, Instagram, or Messenger app and don't have a Facebook account), increasingly offering all of Snapchat's features on its apps, the future of Evan Spiegel's company doesn't look all that good.

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Categories: Science

Tiny bacterium provides window into whole ecosystems

Science Daily - Tue, 28/03/2017 - 6:53pm
Research on Prochlorococcus, the most abundant life form in the oceans, shows the bacteria's metabolism evolved in a way that may have helped trigger the rise of other organisms, to form a more complex marine ecosystem with overall greater biomass.
Categories: Science