US Scientists Predict Long Battle Against Ebola

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 9:38pm
An anonymous reader writes: Despite recent advances in medicine to treat Ebola, epidemiologists are not hopeful that the outbreak in west Africa will be contained any time soon. Revised models for the disease's spread expect the outbreak to last 12 to 18 months longer, likely infecting hundreds of thousands of people. "While previous outbreaks have been largely confined to rural areas, the current epidemic, the largest ever, has reached densely populated, impoverished cities — including Monrovia, the capital of Liberia — gravely complicating efforts to control the spread of the disease. ... What worries public health officials most is that the epidemic has begun to grow exponentially in Liberia. In the most recent week reported, Liberia had nearly 400 new cases, almost double the number reported the week before. Another grave concern, the W.H.O. said, is 'evidence of substantial underreporting of cases and deaths.' The organization reported on Friday that the number of Ebola cases as of Sept. 7 was 4,366, including 2,218 deaths." Scientists are urging greater public health efforts to slow the exponential trajectory of the disease and bring it back under control.

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Categories: Science

The Future According To Stanislaw Lem

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 8:30pm
An anonymous reader writes "The Paris Review has an article about SF author Stanislaw Lem, explaining Lem's outlook on the future and his expectations for technological advancement. Lem tended toward a view that technology would infect and eventually supplant biological evolution. But he also suggested an interesting explanation for why we haven't detected alien civilizations: "Perhaps ... they are so taken up with perfecting their own organisms that they've abandoned space exploration entirely. According to a similar hypothesis, such beings are invisible because technological ease has resulted in a 'Second Stone Age' of 'universal illiteracy and idleness.' When everyone's needs are perfectly met, it 'would be hard, indeed, to find one individual who would choose as his life's work the signaling, on a cosmic scale, of how he was getting along.' Rather than constructing Dyson Spheres, Lem suggests, advanced civilizations are more likely to spend their time getting high.""

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Categories: Science

Justice Sotomayor Warns Against Tech-Enabled "Orwellian" World

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 7:16pm
An anonymous reader writes: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor spoke on Thursday to faculty and students at the University of Oklahoma City about the privacy perils brought on by modern technology. She warned that the march of technological progress comes with a need to enact privacy protections if we want to avoid living in an "Orwellian world" of constant surveillance. She said, "There are drones flying over the air randomly that are recording everything that's happening on what we consider our private property. That type of technology has to stimulate us to think about what is it that we cherish in privacy and how far we want to protect it and from whom. Because people think that it should be protected just against government intrusion, but I don't like the fact that someone I don't know can pick up, if they're a private citizen, one of these drones and fly it over my property."

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Categories: Science

Zebrafish Model of a Learning and Memory Disorder Shows Better Way to Target Treatment

Science Daily - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 6:13pm
Using a zebrafish model of a human genetic disease called neurofibromatosis, researchers have found that the learning and memory components of the disorder are distinct features that will likely need different treatment approaches.
Categories: Science

DARPA Funds Harvard's Soft Exoskeletal Suit

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 6:04pm
An anonymous reader writes: The military and private contractors have been toying with exoskeletal combat suits for a while, but Harvard's Wyss Institute has a new take on the concept. Rather than using a hard metal frame and the massively overpowered mechanical servos necessary to move it, the Soft Exosuit is a lightweight mesh of webbing combined with a series of strain sensors and basic microprocessors. "The suit mimics the action of leg muscles and tendons when a person walks, and provides small but carefully timed assistance at the leg joints without restricting the wearer's movement." The suit continually monitors its wearer's body position, movement, and muscular strain, providing small amounts of targeted support. The team has now received $2.9 million in funding from DARPA to refine the suit's design. They say they'll be working on medical applications for the suit as well as military ones.

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Categories: Science

Robot Operating System To Officially Support ARM Processors

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 4:55pm
DeviceGuru writes: The Open Source Robotics Foundation (OSRF), which maintains the open source Robot Operating System (ROS), has announced its first formal support for an ARM target. The organization will add support for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 600, a smartphone-oriented, quad-core, Cortex-A15-like system-on-chip running up to 1.7GHz. The Linux version of ROS for Snapdragon 600 will be available in Q4 of this year, with the Android version due in the first half of 2015. The OSRF will test, refine, and fully integrate support for the ARM instruction set architecture into ROS development efforts. OSRF will also perform ongoing maintenance to support ROS on the Snapdragon 600.

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Categories: Science

Orion Spacecraft Moved To Fueling Facility | Time-Lapse Video

Space.com - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 4:06pm
In preparation of its test flight, the next-generation NASA capsule has been transferred from the Kennedy Space Center's Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building to the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility.
Categories: Science

The Challenges and Threats of Automated Lip Reading

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 3:45pm
An anonymous reader writes: Speech recognition has gotten pretty good over the past several years. it's reliable enough to be ubiquitous in our mobile devices. But now we have an interesting, related dilemma: should we develop algorithms that can lip read? It's a more challenging problem, to be sure. Sounds can be translated directly into words, but deriving meaning out of the movement of a person's face is much more complex. "During speech, the mouth forms between 10 and 14 different shapes, known as visemes. By contrast, speech contains around 50 individual sounds known as phonemes. So a single viseme can represent several different phonemes. And therein lies the problem. A sequence of visemes cannot usually be associated with a unique word or sequence of words. Instead, a sequence of visemes can have several different solutions." Beyond the computational aspect, we also need to decide, as a society, if this is a technology that should exist. The privacy implications extend beyond that of simple voice recognition.

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Categories: Science

Best Space Photos of the Week - Sept. 13, 2014

Space.com - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 3:37pm
From a colorful map of Rosetta Probe's comet target to a video of a trash-filled spaceship's fiery demise, don't miss these amazing space images of the week for Sept. 13, 2014.
Categories: Science

Auroras 'Will Never Be Forgotten' From X-Flare's Solar Storm | Video

Space.com - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 3:31pm
Chad Blakley (http://lightsoverlapland.com) captured a vibrant display of Northern Lights over Abisko National Park in Sweden on Sept. 12, 2014. They were generated by a KP-7 geomagnetic storm that hit Earth as a result of two coronal mass ejections.
Categories: Science

The MOOC Revolution That Wasn't

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 2:41pm
An anonymous reader writes: Dan Friedman at TechCrunch is ready to call Massive Open Online Courses a failure. Originally hailed as a revolution in learning, MOOCs have seen disappointing course completion numbers. Coursera and Udacity, two of the most prominent online learning hubs, have seen about 8 million enrollments in the past few years. Unfortunately, half of those students didn't even watch a single lecture, and only a few hundred thousand completed the course they signed up for. Friedman says, "[N]ew technologies enable methods of "learn by doing" that just weren't possible before we could deliver immersive experiences to people's laptops and phones. In the 1960's, Jerome Bruner expanded an educational theory known as constructivism with the idea that students should learn through inquiry under the guidance of a teacher to grasp complex ideas intuitively. That process of trial, failure, and then being shown the correct path has been proven to drive student motivation and retention of learning. What we don't yet know is if that process of trial and failure can become 10x more engaging when delivered through a new medium such as Minecraft or Oculus. ... These new immersive worlds promise to hold the attention of students in ways textbooks never could."

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Categories: Science

Best Night Sky Photos of the Week: Sept. 13, 2014

Space.com - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 2:21pm
From a brilliant Harvest Moon, to spectacular auroras, don't miss these amazing objects to watch in the night sky.
Categories: Science

Drone-Based Businesses: Growing In Canada, Grounded In the US

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 1:36pm
An anonymous reader writes: As small drones become affordable, and as clever people come up with ideas on how to use them, we've been hearing about more and more plans for drone-based business. In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration was quick to shut down such ideas in order to give themselves time to regulate the nascent industry. Not so, in Canada. Thanks to a simple permit system, anyone wanting to use a drone for commercial purposes can do so in Canada by simply applying and waiting a few weeks. Around 1,500 of these permits have been granted already, and Canada's private drone industry is flourishing as a result. Drones have been used for agriculture analysis, TV production, real estate photography, law enforcement, and many other tasks.

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Categories: Science

NASA Completes 1st Orion Space Capsule for December Test Flight

Space.com - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 1:32pm
NASA's first Orion space capsule, designed to carry astronauts to deep-space destinations, is ready for fueling ahead of its debut test flight in December.
Categories: Science

Ariane 5 Rocket Launches Measat 3b and Optus 10 Satellites Into Orbit

Space.com - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 1:15pm
Measat 3b and Optus 10 satellites launched from Kourou, French Guiana, on an Ariane 5 rocket, Sept. 11, 2014.
Categories: Science

Early Reviews of Destiny: Unfulfilled Potential

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 12:30pm
Destiny is a first-person shooter set in a persistent, online world. It was released on Tuesday by Bungie, the development studio behind Halo, and billed as a blending of console shooters and progression-based MMOs. Reviews for the game are finally trickling out, and most publications say it's merely average. (Though it's worth noting that the social and multiplayer portions of the game are difficult to evaluate in such a short timeframe, and like many MMOs, Destiny will continue to see active development.) Polygon's Arthur Gies reports, "Destiny doesn't look real, but rather, it looks like painted concept art, meticulously assembled and presented to you at all times. Instead, it's the suggestion, through Destiny's concept, its soundtrack and its visual presentation, that Destiny is big. That there's a whole universe out there to explore, a reality worth discovering. There isn't, though." Jeff Gerstmann at Giant Bomb had a similar reaction: "There are cool little flashes of brilliance in Destiny, but a lot of it feels like a game designed by people who weren't sure what sort of game they were designing. Is it a loot shooter? Sort of, but the loot isn't very good. Is it an MMO? No, but you'll occasionally encounter other players out in the field. A story-driven shooter like the Halo franchise? Sure, if you don't mind digging through the developer's website to find those little bits of lore." The Escapist's Jim Sterling concludes, "Destiny exists in the shadow of multiple games, taking a little from each, and doing nothing truly remarkable with any of it. It's a prime example of how the nebulous concept of 'content' can be used to puff up a game without adding anything to it."

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Categories: Science

Leading a Double Life Turned This Woman Into a Best-Selling Author

Wired News - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 10:30am

In the latest installment of Geek's Guide to the Galaxy, The Witch with No Name author Kim Harrison talks about how reinventing herself lead to success.

The post Leading a Double Life Turned This Woman Into a Best-Selling Author appeared first on WIRED.








Categories: Science

Medical Milestone: Scientists Reset Human Stem Cells

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 9:21am
SternisheFan sends news that researchers from the University of Cambridge have made a breakthrough in the production of human pluripotent stem cells. The goal when developing this kind of stem cell is to have them as early in the cell's lifecycle as possible, so that they're more like true embryonic stem cells and can fulfill whatever role is needed. But all of them made so far are advanced slightly down their developmental pathway. The new work, published in the journal Cell (abstract), has found a way to "reset" the cells by introducing two genes that induce a developmental "ground state."

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Categories: Science

Amazon Is Killing Off Its Free P2P Money-Transfer Service WebPay On October 13

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 6:18am
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon WebPay, a free online money-transfer service, is shutting down October 13, 2014. This means you'll no longer be able to send, receive, or request money using just your email address and the Amazon Payments webpage. There were hints back in June that the service would be going away soon. Amazon sent out an email this week to active Amazon Payments account users notifying them it is pulling the plug.

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Categories: Science

Amazon Is Killing Off Its Free P2P Money-Transfer Service WebPay On October 13

Slashdot - Sat, 13/09/2014 - 6:18am
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon WebPay, a free online money-transfer service, is shutting down October 13, 2014. This means you'll no longer be able to send, receive, or request money using just your email address and the Amazon Payments webpage. There were hints back in June that the service would be going away soon. Amazon sent out an email this week to active Amazon Payments account users notifying them it is pulling the plug.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science