SpaceX's Final Falcon 9 Design Coming This Year, 2 Falcon Heavy Launches in 2018

Space.com - 1 hour 23 min ago
SpaceX intends to launch a final upgrade to the Falcon 9 rocket, known as the Block 5, later this year, and has three Falcon Heavy launches planned for the next 18 months.
Categories: Science

Gemini 9: NASA's Troubled Rendezvous Mission in Photos

Space.com - 1 hour 25 min ago
On June 3, 1966, two NASA astronauts blasted off on the three-day Gemini 9 mission to rendezvous with another spacecraft and test out a rocket-powered jet pack. But the mission didn't quite go according to plan.
Categories: Science

Drill! Students Mine for Simulated Martian Ice

Space.com - 1 hour 26 min ago
While Mars has water ice beneath its surface, extracting the liquid for future human missions will be a challenge.
Categories: Science

How Silicon Valley Pushed Coding Into American Classrooms

Slashdot - 2 hours 22 min ago
theodp writes: Noting that Apple CEO Tim Cook's advice for President Trump at last week's White House gathering of the Tech Titans was that "coding should be a requirement in every public school," the New York Times examines How Silicon Valley Pushed Coding Into American Classrooms (Warning: source may be paywalled). "The Apple chief's education mandate was just the latest tech company push for coding courses in schools," writes Natasha Singer. "But even without Mr. Trump's support, Silicon Valley is already advancing that agenda -- thanks largely to the marketing prowess of Code.org, an industry-backed nonprofit group." Singer continues: "In a few short years, Code.org has raised more than $60 million from Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Salesforce, along with individual tech executives and foundations. It has helped to persuade two dozen states to change their education policies and laws, Mr. Hadi Partovi, co-founder of Code.org, said, while creating free introductory coding lessons, called Hour of Code, which more than 100 million students worldwide have tried. Along the way, Code.org has emerged as a new prototype for Silicon Valley education reform: a social-media-savvy entity that pushes for education policy changes, develops curriculums, offers online coding lessons and trains teachers -- touching nearly every facet of the education supply chain. The rise of Code.org coincides with a larger tech-industry push to remake American primary and secondary schools with computers and learning apps, a market estimated to reach $21 billion by 2020." Singer also mentions Apple's work to spread computer science in schools. The company launched a free app last year called Swift Playgrounds to teach basic coding in Swift, as well as a yearlong curriculum for high schools and community colleges to teach app design in Swift.

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Research Finds 1 In 3 American Cats and Dogs Are Overweight

Slashdot - 5 hours 22 min ago
After surveying 2.5 million dogs and 500,000 cats in the U.S. last year, a group of researchers found that about one in three were overweight or obese. "Looking over data from the last decade, the researchers say the new figures reveal a 169-percent increase in hefty felines and a 158-percent increase in chunky canines," reports Ars Technica. From the report: All the data is from researchers at Banfield, which runs a chain of veterinary hospitals across 42 states. The researchers surveyed animals that checked into one of Banfield's 975 locations, putting them through a five-point physical and visual exam. Animals were considered overweight if their ribs were not clearly visible or easily felt and if their waists were also hard to see. Pets were dubbed obese if their ribs couldn't be felt at all and they had no visible waist. As in humans, being overweight makes pets more prone to chronic health conditions. Also similar to humans, doctors blame pets' weight problems on overfeeding and lack of exercise. Other contributing factors include genetics and health issues such as arthritis, which can make play painful. Last, some pet owners may not be able to spot weight issues in their pets -- particularly because so many more dogs and cats are now overweight, making chubby pets the new norm. Dog breeds with the highest prevalence of obesity are Labrador Retrievers, Cairn Terriers, and Cocker Spaniels, the researchers report. For cats, the fattest breeds are Manx and Maine Coons.

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Categories: Science

Mayors of 7,400 Cities Vow To Meet Obama's Climate Commitments

Slashdot - 8 hours 52 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Mayors of more than 7,400 cities across the world have vowed that Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris accord will spur greater local efforts to combat climate change. At the first meeting of a "global covenant of mayors," city leaders from across the US, Europe and elsewhere pledged to work together to keep to the commitments made by Barack Obama two years ago. Cities will devise a standard measurement of emission reductions to help them monitor their progress. They will also share ideas for delivering carbon-free transport and housing. Kassim Reed, the mayor of Atlanta, told reporters he had travelled to Europe to "send a signal" that US states and cities would execute the policies Obama committed to, whether the current White House occupants agreed or not. Reed, whose administration has promised that the city of Atlanta will use 100% renewable energy by 2035, said 75% of the US population and GDP lay in urban areas, where local leaders were committed to fighting climate change. "We have the ability to still achieve between 35% and 45% CO2 emission reductions without the involvement of the national government and it is why I chose to be here at this time to send a signal to 7,400 cities around the world that now should be a time of optimism, passion and action," he said.

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Categories: Science

How to capture videos of brains in real time

Kurzweil AI - 9 hours 55 min ago

Individual neurons firing within a volume of brain tissue (credit: The Rockefeller University)

A team of scientists has peered into a mouse brain with light, capturing live neural activity of hundreds of individual neurons in a 3D section of tissue at video speed (30 Hz) in a single recording for the first time.

Besides serving as a powerful research tool, this discovery means it may now be possible to “alter stimuli in real time based on what we see going on in the animal’s brain,” said Rockefeller University’s Alipasha Vaziri, senior author of an open-access paper published June 26, 2017 in Nature Methods.

By dramatically reducing the time and computational resources required to generate such an image, the algorithm opens the door to more sophisticated experiments, says Vaziri, head of the Rockefeller Laboratory of Neurotechnology and Biophysics. “Our goal is to better understand brain function by monitoring the dynamics within densely interconnected, three-dimensional networks of neurons,” Vaziri explained.

Watching mice think in real time

The scientists first engineered the animals’ neurons to fluoresce (glow), using a method called optogenetics. The stronger the neural signal, the brighter the cells shine. To capture this activity, they used a technique known as “light-field microscopy,” in which an array of lenses generates views from a variety of perspectives. These images are then combined to create a three-dimensional rendering, using a new algorithm called “seeded iterative demixing” (SID) developed by the team.

Without the new algorithm, the individual neurons are difficult to distinguish. (credit: The Rockefeller University)

To record the activity of all neurons at the same time, their images have to be captured on a camera simultaneously. In earlier research, this has made it difficult to distinguish the signals emitted by all cells as the light from the mouse’s neurons bounces off the surrounding, opaque tissue. The neurons typically show up as an indistinct, flickering mass.

The SID algorithm now makes it possible to simultaneously capture both the location of the individual neurons and the timing of their signals within a three-dimensional section of brain containing multiple layers of neurons, down to a depth of 0.38 millimeters.* Vaziri and his colleagues were able to track the precise coordinates of hundreds of active neurons over an extended period of time in mice that were awake and had the option of walking on a customized treadmill.

Three-dimensional view of stained hippocampus with Stanford University’s CLARITY system, showing fluorescent-expressing neurons (green), connecting interneurons (red) and supporting glia (blue). (Credit: Deisseroth lab)

Researchers were previously only able to look into brains of transparent organisms, such as the larvae of zebrafish. Stanford University scientists were able to image mouse brains in 3D (with the CLARITY system), but only for static images.

* “SID can capture neuronal dynamics in vivo within a volume of 900 × 900 × 260 μm located as deep as 380 μm in the mouse cortex or hippocampus at a 30-Hz volume rate while discriminating signals from neurons as close as 20 μm apart, at a computational cost three orders of magnitude less than that of frame-by-frame image reconstruction.” – Tobias Nöbauer et al./Nature Methods

Abstract of Video rate volumetric Ca2+ imaging across cortex using seeded iterative demixing (SID) microscopy

Light-field microscopy (LFM) is a scalable approach for volumetric Ca2+ imaging with high volumetric acquisition rates (up to 100 Hz). Although the technology has enabled whole-brain Ca2+ imaging in semi-transparent specimens, tissue scattering has limited its application in the rodent brain. We introduce seeded iterative demixing (SID), a computational source-extraction technique that extends LFM to the mammalian cortex. SID can capture neuronal dynamics in vivo within a volume of 900 × 900 × 260 μm located as deep as 380 μm in the mouse cortex or hippocampus at a 30-Hz volume rate while discriminating signals from neurons as close as 20 μm apart, at a computational cost three orders of magnitude less than that of frame-by-frame image reconstruction. We expect that the simplicity and scalability of LFM, coupled with the performance of SID, will open up a range of applications including closed-loop experiments.

Categories: Science

Why Victims of Facebook Censorship Don't Leave Facebook

Wired News - 10 hours 33 min ago
When network effects mean social monopoly.
Categories: Science

London Metropolitan Police's 18,000 Windows XP PCs Is a Disaster Waiting To Happen

Slashdot - 11 hours 22 min ago
According to MSPoweruser, the London Metropolitan Police are still using around 18,000 PCs powered by Windows XP, an operating system Microsoft stopped supporting in 2014. What's more is that the police force is upgrading its PCs from Windows XP to Windows 8.1, instead of Windows 10. Only 8 PCs at the police force are reportedly powered by the "most secure version of Windows right now." From the report: From the looks of things, the London Metropolitan Police will continue to upgrade their systems to Windows 8.1 at the moment. Windows 8.1 is still being supported by Microsoft, although the mainstream support for the OS is set to end on the 9 January 2018. Microsoft will offer extended support for the OS until 2023, which means Windows 8.1 is still a much more secure alternative for the Metropolitan Police than Windows XP. Windows 10 still would have been the best option in terms of security, however. Microsoft is releasing security updates for the OS every month, and the new advanced security features like Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection makes PCs running Windows a whole lot more secure. The spokesman of the 0Conservative London Assembly said in a statement: "The Met is working towards upgrading its software, but in its current state it's like a fish swimming in a pool of sharks. It is vital the Met is given the resources to step up its upgrade timeline before we see another cyber-attack with nationwide security implications."

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Categories: Science

Researchers Create New Probiotic Beer That Boosts Immunity

Slashdot - 12 hours 2 min ago
randomErr writes: A new patent has been filed for a innovative brewing technique that incorporates a live strain of good bacteria into the brewing process. Researchers at NUS (National University of Singapore) have created a probiotic sour beer that may boost immunity and improve gut health. The bacteria Lactobacillus paracasei L26 is capable of neutralizing toxins and viruses and regulating the immune system. Chan Mei Zhi Alcine, of the Food Science and Technology Program at NUS said, "While good bacteria are often present in food that have been fermented, there are currently no beers in the market that contain probiotics. Developing sufficient counts of live probiotics in beer is a challenging feat as beers contain hop acids that prevent the growth and survival of probiotics. As a believer of achieving a healthy diet through consuming probiotics, this is a natural choice for me when I picked a topic for my final-year project."

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Categories: Science

DHS Won't Extend Laptop Ban, But Its New Protocols Will Make Airport Security Extra Annoying

Wired News - 12 hours 6 min ago
Expect more pat downs and closer inspection of your gadgets on flights into and out of the United States.
Categories: Science

Higher IQ in childhood is linked to a longer life

Science Daily - 12 hours 22 min ago
Higher intelligence (IQ) in childhood is associated with a lower lifetime risk of major causes of death, including heart disease, stroke, smoking related cancers, respiratory disease and dementia, finds a new study.
Categories: Science

O'Reilly No Longer Selling Individual Books, Videos Online

Slashdot - Wed, 28/06/2017 - 11:50pm
dovf writes: Just got an email from O'Reilly Media that as of today, they are no longer selling individual books or videos online -- rather, they are encouraging people to sign up for Safari. They are continuing to publish books and videos, "and you'll still be able to buy them at Amazon and other retailers." They also make it clear that we will not lose access to already-purchased content, updates to such content, etc. More details can be found in the FAQ. No mention, though, of whether the content sold at these other retailers will remain DRM-free... From the FAQ: "You can buy all of the books (ebooks and print) at shop.oreilly.com from Amazon and other digital and bricks-and-mortar retailers. We're no longer selling individual books and videos via shop.oreilly.com -- but we are definitely continuing to publish books and videos on the topics you need to know. And of course, every O'Reilly book and video (including O'Reilly conference sessions) is available instantly on Safari." The only mention of "DRM" in the FAQ is in regard to what happens to the digital content you have in your account at members.oreilly.com. According to O'Reilly, "Your DRM-free ebooks and videos are safe and sound, and you'll continue to have free lifetime access to download them anytime, anywhere."

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Categories: Science

US Imposes Stricter Security Screenings At Foreign Airports, But Won't Expand Laptop Ban Yet

Slashdot - Wed, 28/06/2017 - 11:20pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The United States will require foreign airports to implement stricter security practices and screenings for any passengers headed to the U.S. John Kelly, the U.S. secretary of Homeland Security, announced today that the new measures were being put in place. Though he didn't go into specifics, Kelly said the new requirements would include further screenings of electronics, more thorough vetting of passengers, and measures meant to stop "insider attacks." The U.S. is also encouraging the use of more bomb-detecting dogs, "advanced checkpoint screening technology," and the addition of "preclearance" locations, which station U.S. customs officers overseas, allowing them to screen passengers before boarding instead of after they land. One thing Kelly didn't announce was an expansion of the tablet and laptop ban, which is currently in effect on flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa. If airports don't comply with the new screening rules, Kelly said, they may be subject to additional electronics bans. But for the time being, it sounds like the ban will be kept to those 10 locations. According to Reuters, airlines have 21 days to comply with the new rules for explosives screenings and four months to comply with everything else.

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Categories: Science

Equal Rights Center Sues Uber For Denying Equal Access To People Who Use Wheelchairs

Slashdot - Wed, 28/06/2017 - 10:40pm
The Equal Rights Center is suing Uber, alleging that the company has chosen not to include wheelchair-accessible cars as an option in its standard UberX fleet of vehicles, and excludes people who use wheelchairs in Washington, D.C. According to the lawsuit, Uber is in violation of Title 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the D.C. Human Rights Act. TechCrunch reports: After conducting its own investigation of Uber's services for people in wheelchairs, the ERC found that passengers had to wait an average of eight times longer for an accessible car to arrive. They also had to pay twice as much in fares, according to the ERC's study. Ultimately, the ERC wants Uber to integrate wheelchair accessible cars into its UberX fleet so that people who use wheelchairs don't have to wait longer and pay more to use the car service. Uber said in a statement provided to TechCrunch: "We take this issue seriously and are committed to continued work with the District, our partners, and stakeholders toward expanding transportation options and freedom of movement for all residents throughout the region."

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Categories: Science

WikiLeaks Dump Reveals a Creepy CIA Location-Tracking Trick

Wired News - Wed, 28/06/2017 - 10:35pm
By hacking into computers and tracking the Wi-Fi networks nearby, the CIA could pinpoint Windows PCs around the world.
Categories: Science

NASA keeps a close eye on tiny stowaways

Science Daily - Wed, 28/06/2017 - 10:32pm
Wherever you find people, you also find bacteria and other microorganisms. The International Space Station is no exception.
Categories: Science

Study of US seniors strengthens link between air pollution and premature death

Science Daily - Wed, 28/06/2017 - 10:32pm
A new study of 60 million Americans -- about 97 percent of people age 65 and older in the United States -- shows that long-term exposure to airborne fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone increases the risk of premature death, even when that exposure is at levels below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
Categories: Science

Scientists identify cause, possible treatment for life-threatening gut condition

Science Daily - Wed, 28/06/2017 - 10:32pm
Investigators have discovered a genetic cause and potential treatment strategy for a rare immune disorder called CHAPLE disease. Children with the condition can experience severe gastrointestinal distress and deep vein blood clots. No effective treatments are available to ameliorate or prevent these life-threatening symptoms.
Categories: Science

Samsung Plans To Open $380 Million Home Appliance Plant In US, Creating Almost 1,000 Jobs

Slashdot - Wed, 28/06/2017 - 10:00pm
Samsung Electronics has agreed to open a $380 million home appliance manufacturing plant in Newberry County, South Carolina. The new plant is expected to generate 954 local jobs by 2020. CNBC reports: The South Korean firm said this year it was in talks to build a home appliances plant in the United States amid worries about protectionist policies under U.S. President Donald Trump put pressure on global companies to generate jobs in the country. "With this investment, Samsung is reaffirming its commitment to expanding its U.S. operations and deepening our connection to the American consumers, engineers and innovators," Samsung Electronics America President and CEO Tim Baxter said.

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Categories: Science