Ellen Pao Loses Silicon Valley Gender Bias Case Against Kleiner Perkins

Slashdot - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 11:25pm
vivaoporto writes As reported by the New York Times, USA Today and other publications, a jury of six men and six women rejected current Reddit Inc CEO Ellen Pao's claims against her former employer, the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Ms. Pao's suit, that alleged employment discrimination based on gender, workplace retaliation and failure to take reasonable steps to prevent gender discrimination, asked $16 million in compensatory damages plus punitive damages. The jury decided, after more than two days of deliberation and more than four weeks of testimony, that her formed employer neither discriminated against the former junior partner for her gender, nor fired the complainant because of a high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit against the firm in 2012. She alleged that Kleiner Perkins had promoted male partners over equally qualified women at the firm, including herself, and then retaliated against her for raising concerns about the firm's gender dynamics by failing to promote her and finally firing her after seven years at the firm after she filed her 2012 lawsuit.

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Categories: Science

Engineers create stretchable structures tougher than bulletproof vests

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 10:58pm

SEM micrographs of a coil fabricated from aligned nanofibers (credit: (credit: Mahmoud Baniasadi et al./ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces)

Researchers at University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas) have created a material made from nanofibers that can stretch to up to seven times its length while remaining tougher than Kevlar.

These structures absorb up to 98 joules per gram. Kevlar, often used to make bulletproof vests, can absorb up to 80 joules per gram. The researchers hope the structures will one day form material that can reinforce itself at points of high stress and could potentially be used in military airplanes or other defense applications.

Piezoelectric action

In a study published by ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, a journal of the American Chemical Society, researchers twisted nanofiber into yarns and coils. The electricity generated by stretching the twisted nanofiber formed an attraction ten times stronger than a hydrogen bond, which is considered one of the strongest forces formed between molecules.

Researchers sought to mimic their earlier work on the piezoelectric action (how pressure forms electric charges) of collagen fibers found inside bone in hopes of creating high-performance materials that can reinforce itself, said Dr. Majid Minary, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the University’s Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and senior author of the study.

“We reproduced this process in nanofibers by manipulating the creation of electric charges to result in a lightweight, flexible, yet strong material,” said Minary, who is also a member of the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute. “Our country needs such materials on a large scale for industrial and defense applications.”

Schematic of the electrospinning process; (inset) jet of PVDF-TrFE solution projected from the tip of the needle toward the collector (credit: Mahmoud Baniasadi et al./ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces)

For their experiment, researchers first spun nanofibers out PVDF and its co-polymer, polyvinvylidene fluoride trifluoroethylene (PVDF-TrFE). Researchers then twisted the fibers into yarns, and then continued to twist the material into coils.

Optical microscope image of a coil (credit: Mahmoud Baniasadi et al./ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces)

Researchers then measured mechanical properties of the yarn and coils, such as how far it can stretch and how much energy it can absorb before failure.

“Our experiment is proof of the concept that our structures can absorb more energy before failure than the materials conventionally used in bulletproof armors,” Minary said. “We believe, modeled after the human bone, that this flexibility and strength comes from the electricity that occurs when these nanofibers are twisted.”

The next step in the research is to make larger structures out of the yarns and coils, Minary said.

A Texas A&M University engineer also participated in the work, which was funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Research Program and the National Science Foundation.

Abstract of High-Performance Coils and Yarns of Polymeric Piezoelectric Nanofibers

We report on highly stretchable piezoelectric structures of electrospun PVDF-TrFE nanofibers. We fabricated nanofibrous PVDF-TrFE yarns via twisting their electrospun ribbons. Our results show that the twisting process not only increases the failure strain but also increases overall strength and toughness. The nanofibrous yarns achieved a remarkable energy to failure of up to 98 J/g. Through overtwisting process, we fabricated polymeric coils out of twisted yarns that stretched up to ∼740% strain. This enhancement in mechanical properties is likely induced by increased interactions between nanofibers, contributed by friction and van der Waals interactions, as well as favorable surface charge (Columbic) interactions as a result of piezoelectric effect, for which we present a theoretical model. The fabricated yarns and coils show great promise for applications in high-performance lightweight structural materials and superstretchable piezoelectric devices and flexible energy harvesting applications.

Categories: Science

Wii U Zelda Won’t Arrive in 2015, or Even Show at E3

Wired News - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 10:45pm

Nintendo said today that its highly anticipated new Legend of Zelda for Wii U won't make its planned 2015 release date, and won't be at this year's E3 Expo.

The post Wii U Zelda Won’t Arrive in 2015, or Even Show at E3 appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

To Stay Relevant, Intel Explores Its Biggest Takeover Ever

Wired News - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 10:39pm

Intel, the world's largest chip maker, is in talks to acquire Silicon Valley chip builder Altera, according to reports. If the deal goes through, it would be Intel's largest takeover ever.

The post To Stay Relevant, Intel Explores Its Biggest Takeover Ever appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Dark Matter Is Even More of a Mystery Than Expected

Slashdot - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 10:29pm
schwit1 writes: Using the Hubble and Chandra space telescopes astronomers have discovered that dark matter is not only invisible to direct observation, it is invisible to itself! Quoting: "As two galactic clusters collide, the stars, gas and dark matter interact in different ways. The clouds of gas suffer drag, slow down and often stop, whereas the stars zip past one another, unless they collide — which is rare. On studying what happens to dark matter during these collisions, the researchers realized that, like stars, the colliding clouds of dark matter have little effect on one another. Thought to be spread evenly throughout each cluster, it seems logical to assume that the clouds of dark matter would have a strong interaction — much like the colliding clouds of gas as the colliding dark matter particles should come into very close proximity. But rather than creating drag, the dark matter clouds slide through one another seamlessly." The data here is on the very edge of reality, built on too many assumptions. We know that something undetected as yet is influencing the motions of galaxies, but what exactly it is remains completely unknown. These results only make the mystery more mysterious.

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Categories: Science

Photosynthesis hack needed to feed the world by 2050

Kurzweil AI - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 9:58pm

Pipeline of transformation of leaf discs of tobacco (easily transformed and forms a closed canopy) with constructs for improved photosynthetic efficiency through regeneration on selective media, growth of the initial transformants to seed, and then testing of transgenes in replicated field plots (credit: Stephen P. Long et al./Cell)

High-performance computing and genetic engineering could boost crop photosynthetic efficiency enough to feed a planet expected to have 9.5 billion people on it by 2050, researchers report in an open-access paper in the journal Cell.

“We now know every step in the processes that drive photosynthesis in plants such as soybeans and maize,” said University of Illinois plant biology professor Stephen P. Long, who wrote the report with colleagues from Illinois and the CAS-MPG Partner Institute of Computational Biology in Shanghai.

Improvement strategies

“We have unprecedented computational resources that allow us to model every stage of photosynthesis and determine where the bottlenecks are, and advances in genetic engineering will help us augment or circumvent those steps that impede efficiency. Long suggested several strategies.

Add pigments. “Our lab and others have put a gene from cyanobacteria into crop plants and found that it boosts the photosynthetic rate by 30 percent. ” But Long says we could improve that. “Some bacteria and algae contain pigments that utilize more of the solar spectrum than plant pigments do. If added to plants, those pigments could bolster the plants’ access to solar energy.

Add the blue-green algae system. Some scientists are trying to engineer C4 photosynthesis in C3 plants, but this means altering plant anatomy, changing the expression of many genes and inserting new genes from C4 plants, Long said.

“Another, possibly simpler approach is to add to the C3 chloroplast the system used by blue-green algae,” he said. This would increase the activity of Rubisco, an enzyme that catalyzes a vital step of the conversion of atmospheric carbon dioxide into plant biomass. Computer models suggest adding this system would increase photosynthesis as much as 60 percent, according to Long.

More sunlight for lower leaves. Computer analyses of the way plant leaves intercept sunlight have revealed other ways to improve photosynthesis. Many plants intercept too much light in their topmost leaves and too little in lower leaves; this probably allows them to outcompete their neighbors, but in a farmer’s field such competition is counterproductive, Long said. Studies headed by U. of I. plant biology professor Donald Ort aim to make plants’ upper leaves lighter, allowing more sunlight to penetrate to the light-starved lower leaves.

Eliminate traffic jams. “The computer model predicts that by altering this system by up-regulating some genes and down-regulating others, a 60 percent improvement could be achieved without any additional resource — so 60 percent more carbon could be assimilated for no more nitrogen,” Long said.

In silico simulation. “The next step is to create an in silico plant to virtually simulate the amazingly complex interactions among biological scales,” said U. of I. plant biology professor Amy Marshall-Colon, a co-author on the report. “This type of model is essential to fill current gaps in knowledge and better direct our engineering efforts.”

30 years lead time

The work should be undertaken now, Long said. “If we have a success today, it won’t appear in farmers’ fields for 15 years at the very earliest,” he said. “We have to be doing today what we may need in 30 years.”

Stephen Long is a professor in the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois, and also has an appointment in the department of crop sciences.

Funding for this work was provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Abstract of Meeting the Global Food Demand of the Future by Engineering Crop Photosynthesis and Yield Potential

Increase in demand for our primary foodstuffs is outstripping increase in yields, an expanding gap that indicates large potential food shortages by mid-century. This comes at a time when yield improvements are slowing or stagnating as the approaches of the Green Revolution reach their biological limits. Photosynthesis, which has been improved little in crops and falls far short of its biological limit, emerges as the key remaining route to increase the genetic yield potential of our major crops. Thus, there is a timely need to accelerate our understanding of the photosynthetic process in crops to allow informed and guided improvements via in-silico-assisted genetic engineering. Potential and emerging approaches to improving crop photosynthetic efficiency are discussed, and the new tools needed to realize these changes are presented.

Categories: Science

Toshiba Announces 3D Flash With 48 Layers

Slashdot - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 9:47pm
Lucas123 writes: Admitting it has bumped up against a 15 nanometer process wall, Toshiba announced it's focusing its efforts on three dimensional NAND using its Bit Cost Scalable technology (PDF) in order to increase capacity. It has dedicated a Japanese fab plant to it and developed 48-level 3D NAND, which bumps density up 33% over previous 3D NAND flash. The new 3D NAND will be able to store 128Gb of data per chip (16GB). Samsung has been mass producing 32-layer, triple-level cell (TLC) 3D NAND since last October and has incorporated it into some of its least expensive SSDs. Yesterday, Micron and Intel announced their own 32-layer 3D TLC NAND, which they claimed will lead to 10TB SSDs. While Toshiba's 3D NAND is multi-level cell (meaning it stores two bits per transistor versus three), the company does plan on developing a TLC version. Toshiba said it's not abandoning 15nm floating gate flash, but it will focus those efforts on lower capacity applications.

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Categories: Science

Star Power: Spring's Night Sky Dazzles with Constellations Aplenty

Space.com - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 9:14pm
With spring underway, the evening sky is in transition. What new stars and constellations will adorn the night sky for the next few months?
Categories: Science

Giant Alien Planet Has 4 Suns in Its Sky

Space.com - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 9:11pm
Astronomers have spotted a fourth star in a planetary system called 30 Ari, bringing the number of such known quadruple-sun systems to two. Numerous two- and three-star planets have been identified.
Categories: Science

After Loss, Pao Hopes Case Helped Level the Playing Field

Wired News - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 9:10pm

After deliberating since Wednesday, a San Francisco jury delivered its verdict in Silicon Valley's most closely watched trial.

The post After Loss, Pao Hopes Case Helped Level the Playing Field appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Hoax-Detecting Software Spots Fake Papers

Slashdot - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 9:07pm
sciencehabit writes: In 2005, three computer science Ph.D. students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology created a program to generate nonsensical computer science research papers. The goal was "to expose the lack of peer review at low-quality conferences that essentially scam researchers with publication and conference fees." The program — dubbed SCIgen — soon found users across the globe, and before long its automatically generated creations were being accepted by scientific conferences and published in purportedly peer-reviewed journals. But SCIgen may have finally met its match. Academic publisher Springer this week is releasing SciDetect, an open-source program to automatically detect automatically generated papers. SCIgen uses a "context-free grammar" to create word salad that looks like reasonable text from a distance but is easily spotted as nonsense by a human reader.

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Categories: Science

F1 Drivers Push Their Bodies to Extremes in Malaysia’s Heat

Wired News - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 8:52pm

This weekend, Formula One heads to Malaysia, one of the most humid and hottest tracks on the calendar. It tests both man and machine.

The post F1 Drivers Push Their Bodies to Extremes in Malaysia’s Heat appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Did 'Iron Rain' Bypass the Moon to Fall Mostly on Earth?

Space.com - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 8:38pm
New experiments show that the asteroids that slammed into Earth and the moon more than 4 billion years ago were vaporised into a mist of iron but stayed gravitationally stuck on more massive Earth.
Categories: Science

Storage Breakthrough Will Improve SSD Capacity Tenfold

Wired News - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 8:33pm

Two companies today announced new 3D NAND technology that stacks layers of flash cells vertically to increase density.

The post Storage Breakthrough Will Improve SSD Capacity Tenfold appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Google Loses Ruling In Safari Tracking Case

Slashdot - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 8:25pm
mpicpp sends this report from CNET: The floodgates are now open for UK users to sue Google over privacy violations tied to tracking cookies. In a landmark ruling, the UK's Court of Appeal has dismissed Google's request to prevent British Web users from suing the company over tracking cookies and privacy violations. The decision was announced Friday, according to the BBC. In spite of default privacy settings and user preferences — including an opt-out of consent to be tracked by cookies — Google's tracking cookies gathered information on Safari browser users for nine months in 2011 and 2012.

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Categories: Science

Get Your Shots, Wash Your Hands, Thanks, and Goodbye

Wired News - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 8:19pm

A final post from the Superbug blog, with sincere thanks to readers, colleagues and editors.

The post Get Your Shots, Wash Your Hands, Thanks, and Goodbye appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Blast-Off! Astronaut and Cosmonaut Leave Earth For A Year | Video

Space.com - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 8:07pm
NASA's Scott Kelly and Roscosmos' Mikhail Kornienko have begun their flight to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft.
Categories: Science

Liftoff! US, Russia Launch Historic One-Year Space Mission

Space.com - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 7:49pm
An American astronaut and Russian cosmonaut launched into space Friday to attempt something their two countries have never done together before: a one-year mission on the International Space Station that could help one day send humans to Mars.
Categories: Science

Amazon Requires Non-Compete Agreements.. For Warehouse Workers

Slashdot - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 7:41pm
Rick Zeman writes: Amazon, perhaps historically only second to Newegg in the IT nerdling's online shopping heart, has not only subjected their warehouse employees to appalling working conditions, but they're also making them sign a non-compete agreement for the privilege. Here's an excerpt from the agreement: "During employment and for 18 months after the Separation Date, Employee will not, directly or indirectly, whether on Employee's own behalf or on behalf of any other entity (for example, as an employee, agent, partner, or consultant), engage in or support the development, manufacture, marketing, or sale of any product or service that competes or is intended to compete with any product or service sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon (or intended to be sold, offered, or otherwise provided by Amazon in the future)."

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Categories: Science

Behind the Scenes At a Quantum Dot Factory

Slashdot - Fri, 27/03/2015 - 6:59pm
Tekla Perry writes: In a nondescript office complex in Milpitas, Calif., Nanosys is making enough quantum dots to populate 6 million 60-inch television screens annually. "The process goes on in what looks like a microbrewery. In about half a dozen large metal tanks ... Nanosys combines cadmium and selenium and adjusts the temperature, concentration, and catalysts added to force these precursors to combine into stable crystals of cadmium selenide. Then, by readjusting the conditions, the system stops the formation of crystals and triggers the beginning of crystal growth. A computer controls the process according to a programmed “recipe;” staff members monitor the growth of the crystals by shining light on them and measuring the wavelength of the fluorescence; the smallest crystals don’t fluoresce at all, then, as the crystals get larger, the wavelength changes. Nanosys stops the process when the fluoresced light hits the target wavelength, which varies depending on what particular display industry standard that the batch of film is designed to meet."

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Categories: Science