NASA's Juno Spacecraft Braves Jupiter Radiation For a 4th of July Arrival

Slashdot - Sun, 03/07/2016 - 3:35pm
MarkWhittington writes: July 4, if all goes well, will be an occasion for celebration at NASA as the Juno spacecraft, after a nearly five-year voyage, will go into orbit around Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system. Juno will spend its time in a zone of intense radiation, against which it has been armored, in an effort to ferret out Jupiter's secrets. By so doing, NASA hopes to gain insights into the origin of the solar system as well as gaining more knowledge of the gas giant, comprised mostly of hydrogen and helium with trace elements of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur.

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American Cities Are Installing DHS-Funded Audio Surveillance

Slashdot - Sun, 03/07/2016 - 2:30pm
"Audio surveillance is increasingly being used on parts of urban mass transit systems," reports the Christian Science Monitor. Slashdot reader itwbennett writes "It was first reported in April that New Jersey had been using audio surveillance on some of its light rail lines, raising questions of privacy. This week, New Jersey Transit ended the program following revelations that the agency 'didn't have policies governing storage and who had access to data.'" From the article: New Jersey isn't the only state where you now have even more reason to want to ride in the quiet car. The Baltimore Sun reported in March that the Maryland Transit Administration has used audio recording on some of its mass transit vehicles since 2012. It is now used on 65 percent of buses, and 82 percent of subway trains have audio recording capability, but don't use it yet, according to the Sun. And cities in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Michigan, Ohio, Nevada, Oregon and California have either installed systems or moved to procure them, in many cases with funding from the federal Department of Homeland Security.

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Gawk at the Inner Workings of France’s Pre-War Classic Cars

Wired News - Sun, 03/07/2016 - 2:00pm
The Mullin Automotive Museum invited visitors to gawk at the inner workings of its collection of French vehicles. The post Gawk at the Inner Workings of France's Pre-War Classic Cars appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

Rolling Drone Delivery Robots Have Arrived

Slashdot - Sun, 03/07/2016 - 1:30pm
Starship Technologies has begun testing their on-demand delivery robots in cities around the world -- including Washington, D.C. -- to manage the "last mile" for small deliveries. Slashdot reader Okian Warrior quotes the Starship Technologies site: Capable of carrying the equivalent of two grocery bags, the robots can complete local deliveries within 5-30 minutes from a local hub or retail outlet, for 10-15 times less than the cost of current last-mile delivery alternatives. Customers can choose from a selection of short, precise delivery slots -- meaning goods arrive at a time that suits them. During delivery, shoppers can track the robot's location in real time through a mobile app, and on arrival only the app holder is able to unlock the cargo. Created by two Skype co-founders, the company uses ground-based delivery drones equipped with nine cameras, two-way audio capability, and GPS, according to ABC News, which has video of the robots in action. "When confronted with any kind of issue or trouble, a human at Starship can take over. The remote operator can have a two-way conversation with those around the robot... They hope to make the robots available for 24/7 delivery and for only a $1 fee." What could go wrong?

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Juno Spacecraft's July 4 Jupiter Arrival: What to Expect - Sun, 03/07/2016 - 12:00pm
NASA's Juno spacecraft is scheduled to enter orbit around Jupiter Monday night (July 4), ending a nearly five-year trek to the solar system's biggest planet. Here's how the highly anticipated arrival should go down.
Categories: Science

UN Council: Seriously, Nations, Stop Switching Off the Internet!

Slashdot - Sun, 03/07/2016 - 11:33am
An anonymous reader writes: "The United Nations officially condemned the practice of countries shutting down access to the internet at a meeting of the Human Rights Council on Friday," reports the Register newspaper, saying Friday's resolution "effectively extends human rights held offline to the internet," including freedom of expression. "The resolution is a much-needed response to increased pressure on freedom of expression online in all parts of the world," said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of Article 19, a long-standing British human rights group which had pushed for the resolution. "From impunity for the killings of bloggers to laws criminalizing legitimate dissent on social media, basic human rights principles are being disregarded to impose greater controls over the information we see and share online." Thirteen countries, including Russia and China, had unsuccessfully urged the deletion of the text guaranteeing internet access, and Article 19 says the new resolution even commits states to address "security concerns on the Internet in accordance with their obligations to protect freedom of expression, privacy and other human rights online." But they also called the resolution a missed opportunity to urge states to strengthen protections on anonymity and encryption, and to clarify the boundaries between state and private ICT actors.

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With Tacoma, the Developers of Gone Home Venture Into Space

Wired News - Sun, 03/07/2016 - 11:00am
A desire to take the "walking simulator" genre of exploration-based storytelling games to new heights is why Tacoma is set in an abandoned space station. The post With Tacoma, the Developers of Gone Home Venture Into Space appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

The Oracle of Arithmetic Works Best Without Writing Down a Thing

Wired News - Sun, 03/07/2016 - 11:00am
At 28, Peter Scholze is uncovering deep connections between number theory and geometry. The post The Oracle of Arithmetic Works Best Without Writing Down a Thing appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

While You Were Offline: You Stay Classy, #HeterosexualPrideDay

Wired News - Sun, 03/07/2016 - 11:00am
Also, Hillary Clinton wrote a good-bye letter to a beloved website and we're still unable to take our eyes off Brexit. Just another week in paradise. The post While You Were Offline: You Stay Classy, #HeterosexualPrideDay appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

4 Browsers That Might Break Your Chrome Addiction

Wired News - Sun, 03/07/2016 - 9:54am
Now more than ever, there's life after Chrome. The post 4 Browsers That Might Break Your Chrome Addiction appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

Self-Driving Tesla Owners Share Videos of Reckless Driving

Slashdot - Sun, 03/07/2016 - 7:33am
An anonymous reader writes: The driver killed in a Tesla car accident "celebrated the Autopilot feature that made it possible for him to cruise the highways, making YouTube videos of himself driving hands-free," reports the New York Times, adding that one of his videos of a near-miss went viral just 11 weeks before his death -- after it was shared on Twitter by Elon Musk. But USA Today reports that Tesla drivers have also filmed themselves playing Jenga and Checkers or sleeping while using the autopilot feature. "Even though Tesla tells drivers to 'keep your hands on the wheel at all times and stay alert,' the temptation to test a no-hands drive is just too much." In April, a Volvo driver had criticized Tesla for releasing a dangerous "wannabe" Autopilot system. But when Tesla introduced the self-driving feature in October, Elon Musk argued that "Long term, it'll be way better than a person. It never gets tired, never has something to drink, never argues with someone in the car." He had also said that within three years Tesla cars should be able to drive a sleeping driver in to work -- but that that functionality is not currently supported.

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Will Brexit Hurt International Cyber-Security?

Slashdot - Sun, 03/07/2016 - 3:30am
The Brexit shock continues to reverberate throughout the global economic and policy worlds. Andrea Limbago from the security company Endgame responds to a poll showing that most security professionals have concerns about Brexit: Will it weaken cybersecurity because of additional bureaucratic hurdles to information sharing with the EU, as well limited cross-national collaboration in fighting cyber criminals? There is also concern about the possibility of a brain drain -- in-demand security talent pool fleeing the UK -- which could increasingly impact security and data protection. Limbago suggests tech workers in Britain's financial sector may feel the impact, "with Bitcoin surging and the pound dropping.... London's role as the financial hub is now threatened thanks to the Brexit, the rise of digital currencies, and the EU's move toward greater digital integration." And there's also the possibility of "a push for digital sovereignty and greater national control over the Internet." But another poll found that 64% of information security professionals didn't think Brexit would affect Britain's ability to defend against cyber-attacks. Can security professionals continue their inter-nation cooperation, elevating data and security concerns over new administrative differences between Europe and the U.K.?

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Google Searches For 'VR Porn' Increase 10,000%

Slashdot - Sun, 03/07/2016 - 1:34am
Slashdot reader Bob768 writes: Over the last 20 months, with the rise of virtual reality technology, the number of Google searches for the phrase 'VR Porn' have soared nearly 10,000%. The leading country for these searches is Norway. Last November searches for the term experienced the "spike of all spikes", according to a post on the VR Talk forum, which also identifies the top cities (two in Australia) for the searches -- Helsinki, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Singapore, Tel Aviv, and Seoul.

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Landlords, ISPs Team Up To Rip Off Tenants On Broadband

Slashdot - Sat, 02/07/2016 - 11:35pm
"Network operators like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and ATT, in cahoots with [real estate] developers and landlords, routinely use a breathtaking array of kickbacks, lawyerly games of Twister, blunt threats, and downright illegal activities to lock up buildings in exclusive arrangements," reports Harvard Law Professor Susan Crawford. itwbennett writes: Eight years ago, the FCC issued an order banning exclusive agreements between landlords and ISPs, but a loophole is being exploited, leaving many tenants in apartment buildings with only one choice of broadband service provider. The loophole works like this: Instead of having an exclusive agreement with one provider, the landlords refuse to let any other companies than their chosen providers access their properties... "This astounding, enormous, decentralized payola scheme affects millions of American lives," Crawford writes, revealing Comcast's revenue-sharing proposals for property owners and urging cities (and national lawmakers) to require broadband neutrality in residential buildings. Other loopholes are also being exploited, Crawford writes, and "it's why commercial tenants in NYC pay through the nose for awful Internet access service in the fanciest of commercial buildings... We've got to take landlords out of the equation -- all they're doing is looking for payments and deals...and the giant telecom providers in our country are more than happy to pay up."

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Linux Mint 18 'Sarah' Released, Supports Generic GTK X-Apps

Slashdot - Sat, 02/07/2016 - 10:33pm
Slashdot reader Type44Q writes: The Linux Mint team announced the immediate availability of their latest release, Mint 18 "Sarah," in Cinnamon and MATE flavors. These follow on the heels of their respective beta versions, which have been out for nearly a month. "Linux Mint 18 is a long-term support release which will be supported until 2021," the team announces on MATE's "new features" page, adding they've improved their update manager, included support for the Debian syntax of "apt", and are working on the "X-Apps" project to "produce generic applications for traditional GTK desktop replace applications which no longer integrate properly outside of a particular environment."

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Categories: Science

Advanced colorectal cancer: Anti-interleukin-1 alpha antibody MABp1 improves outcomes significantly over placebo

Science Daily - Sat, 02/07/2016 - 6:44pm
A novel anti-interleukin 1-alpha antibody has shown a significant impact on symptoms, and a high level of safety and tolerability in patients with advanced colorectal cancer, according to phase III data.
Categories: Science

How to bring the entire web to VR

Kurzweil AI - Sat, 02/07/2016 - 3:08am

Google is working on new features to bring the web to VR, according to Google Happiness Evangelist .

To help web developers embed VR content in their web pages, the Google Chromium team has been working towards WebVR support in Chromium (programmers: see Chromium Code Reviews), Beaufort said. That means you can now use Cardboard- or Daydream-ready VR viewers to see pages with compliant VR content while browsing the web with Chrome.

(credit: Google)

“The team is just getting started on making the web work well for VR so stay tuned, there’s more to come!” he said.

Google previously launched VR view,  which enables developers to embed immersive content on Android, iOS and the web. Users can view it on their phone, with a Cardboard viewer, or with a Chrome browser on their desktop computer.

For native apps, programmers can embed a VR view in an app or web page by grabbing the latest Cardboard SDK for Android or iOS and adding a few lines of code.

On the web, embedding a VR view is as simple as adding an iframe on your site, as KurzweilAI did in the 360-degrees view shown at the top of this page, using iframe code copied from the HTML on Introducing VR view: embed immersive content into your apps and websites on Google Developers Blog. (Chrome browser is required. In addition to a VR viewer, you can use either the mouse or the four arrow keys to explore the image in 360 degrees.)

Categories: Science

A host of common chemicals endanger child brain development, NIH journal reports

Kurzweil AI - Sat, 02/07/2016 - 1:35am

(credit: Graphic by Julie McMahon)

In a new open-access report in the NIH journal Environmental Health Perspectives, 47 scientists, health practitioners, and children’s health advocates have made a consensus statement in “Project TENDR: Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks“ — endorsed by nine medical organizations — and issued a call to action for renewed attention to the growing evidence that many common and widely available chemicals endanger neurodevelopment in fetuses and children of all ages.

The list includes chemicals used extensively in consumer products and that have become widespread in the environment. Of most concern are lead and mercury; organophosphate pesticides used in agriculture and home gardens; phthalates, which are used in pharmaceuticals, plastics and personal care products; flame retardants known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers; and air pollutants produced by the combustion of wood and fossil fuels, said University of Illinois Comparative Biosciences professor Susan Schantz, one of dozens of individual signatories to the consensus statement.

The list provides “prime examples of toxic chemicals that can contribute to learning, behavioral, or intellectual impairment, as well as specific neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD or autism spectrum disorder,” according to the report.

Polychlorinated biphenyls

Polychlorinated biphenyls, once used as coolants and lubricants in transformers and other electrical equipment, also are of concern. PCBs were banned in the U.S. in 1977, but can persist in the environment for decades, she said.

“These chemicals are pervasive, not only in air and water, but in everyday consumer products that we use on our bodies and in our homes,” Schantz said. “Reducing exposures to toxic chemicals can be done, and is urgently needed to protect today’s and tomorrow’s children.”

“The human brain develops over a very long period of time, starting in gestation and continuing during childhood and even into early adulthood,” Schantz said. “But the biggest amount of growth occurs during prenatal development. The neurons are forming and migrating and maturing and differentiating. And if you disrupt this process, you’re likely to have permanent effects.”

Hormonal disrupters

Some of the chemicals of concern, such as phthalates and PBDEs, are known to interfere with normal hormone activity. For example, most pregnant women in the U.S. will test positive for exposure to phthalates and PBDEs, both of which disrupt thyroid hormone function.

“Thyroid hormone is involved in almost every aspect of brain development, from formation of the neurons to cell division, to the proper migration of cells and myelination of the axons after the cells are differentiated,” said Schantz. “It regulates many of the genes involved in nervous system development.”

Schantz and her colleagues at Illinois are studying infants and their mothers to determine whether prenatal exposure to phthalates and other endocrine disruptors leads to changes in the brain or behavior. This research, along with parallel studies in older children and animals, is a primary focus of the Children’s Environmental Health Research Center at Illinois, which Schantz directs.

Phthalates also interfere with steroid hormone activity. Studies link exposure to certain phthalates with attention deficits, lower IQ and conduct disorders in children. “Phthalates are everywhere; they’re in all kinds of different products. We’re exposed to them every day,” Schantz said.

The report criticizes current regulatory lapses that allow chemicals to be introduced into people’s lives with little or no review of their effects on fetal and child health. “For most chemicals, we have no idea what they’re doing to children’s neurodevelopment,” Schantz said. “They just haven’t been studied.

“And if it looks like something is a risk, we feel policymakers should be willing to make a decision that this or that chemical could be a bad actor and we need to stop its production or limit its use,” she said. “We shouldn’t have to wait 10 or 15 years — allowing countless children to be exposed to it in the meantime — until we’re positive it’s a bad actor.”

Project TENDR has a website with information about each of the chemicals of concern. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency fund the Children’s Environmental Health Research Center at the University of Illinois.

Project TENDR is an alliance of 48 of the nation’s top scientists, health professionals and health advocates. It was launched by Maureen Swanson of the Learning Disabilities Association of America and Irva Hertz-Picciotto of UC Davis, who brought together participants across many disciplines and sectors, including epidemiology, toxicology, exposure science, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, nursing, public health, and federal and state chemical policy. Medical and scientific societies that have signed on in support include American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Nurses Association, Endocrine Society, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, National Medical Association, National Hispanic Medical Association, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Physicians for Social Responsibility and the National Council of Asian Pacific Island Physicians. TENDR’s long-term mission is to lower the incidence of neurodevelopmental disorders by reducing exposure levels to chemicals and pollutants that can contribute to these conditions, especially during fetal development and early childhood.

Steve Drake, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology | U. of I. biosciences professor Susan Schantz directs the Children’s Environmental Health Research Center at the University of Illinois, which is studying whether, and how, exposure to phthalates disrupts child brain development. Phthalates are used in some cosmetics, food packaging and products with fragrances.

Food Safety | From DDT to Glyphosate: Rachel Carson, We Need You Again

Abstract of Project TENDR: Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks. The TENDR Consensus Statement

SUMMARY: Children in America today are at an unacceptably high risk of developing neurodevelopmental disorders that affect the brain and nervous system including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, intellectual disabilities, and other learning and behavioral disabilities. These are complex disorders with multiple causes—genetic, social, and environmental. The contribution of toxic chemicals to these disorders can be prevented. APPROACH: Leading scientific and medical experts, along with children’s health advocates, came together in 2015 under the auspices of Project TENDR: Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks to issue a call to action to reduce widespread exposures to chemicals that interfere with fetal and children’s brain development. Based on the available scientific evidence, the TENDR authors have identified prime examples of toxic chemicals and pollutants that increase children’s risks for neurodevelopmental disorders. These include chemicals that are used extensively in consumer products and that have become widespread in the environment. Some are chemicals to which children and pregnant women are regularly exposed, and they are detected in the bodies of virtually all Americans in national surveys conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The vast majority of chemicals in industrial and consumer products undergo almost no testing for developmental neurotoxicity or other health effects. CONCLUSION: Based on these findings, we assert that the current system in the United States for evaluating scientific evidence and making health-based decisions about environmental chemicals is fundamentally broken. To help reduce the unacceptably high prevalence of neurodevelopmental disorders in our children, we must eliminate or significantly reduce exposures to chemicals that contribute to these conditions. We must adopt a new framework for assessing chemicals that have the potential to disrupt brain development and prevent the use of those that may pose a risk. This consensus statement lays the foundation for developing recommendations to monitor, assess, and reduce exposures to neurotoxic chemicals. These measures are urgently needed if we are to protect healthy brain development so that current and future generations can reach their fullest potential.

Categories: Science

Prenatal exposure to acetaminophen may increase autism spectrum symptoms

Kurzweil AI - Sat, 02/07/2016 - 1:33am

Tylenol PM (left) and Tylenol (right) (credit: Ragesoss/CC)

A new study has found that paracetamol (aka acetaminophen; trade names include Tylenol and Panadol), which is used extensively during pregnancy, has a strong association with autism spectrum symptoms in boys and for both genders in relation to attention-related and hyperactivity symptoms.

The findings* were published this week in the International Journal of Epidemiology. This is the first study of its kind to report an independent association between the use of this drug in pregnancy and autism spectrum symptoms in children.

It is also the first study to report different effects on boys and girls. Comparing persistently to nonexposed children, the study has found an increase of 30 per cent in the risk of detriment to some attention functions, and an increase of two clinical symptoms of autism spectrum symptoms in boys. Boys also showed more autism spectrum symptoms when persistently exposed to paracetamol.

“Paracetamol could be harmful to neurodevelopment for several reasons,” said Co-author Dr. Jordi Júlvez, also a researcher at CREAL. “First of all, it relieves pain by acting on cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

Why boys are more likely to have autism

“Since these receptors normally help determine how neurons mature and connect with one another, paracetamol could alter these important processes. It can also affect the development of the immune system, or be directly toxic to some fetuses that may not have the same capacity as an adult to metabolize this drug, or by creating oxidative stress.”

There could also be an explanation for why boys are more likely to have autism spectrum symptoms: “The male brain may be more vulnerable to harmful influences during early life”, said Claudia Avella-Garcia. “Our differing gender results suggest that androgenic endocrine disruption, to which male brains could be more sensitive, may explain the association.”

The study concluded that the widespread exposure of infants to paracetamol in utero could increase the number of children with ADHD or autism spectrum symptoms. However, they stressed further studies should be conducted with more precise dosage measurements, and that the risks versus benefits of paracetamol use during pregnancy and early life should be assessed before treatment recommendations are made.

* Researchers in Spain recruited 2644 mother-child pairs in a birth cohort study during pregnancy. 88 per cent were evaluated when the child was one year old, and 79.9 per cent were evaluated when they were five years old. Mothers were asked about their use of paracetamol during pregnancy and the frequency of use was classified as never, sporadic, or persistent. Exact doses could not be noted due to mothers being unable to recall them exactly. 43 per cent of children evaluated at age one and 41 per cent assessed at age five were exposed to any paracetamol at some point during the first 32 weeks of pregnancy. When assessed at age five, exposed children were at higher risk of hyperactivity or impulsivity symptoms. Persistently exposed children in particular showed poorer performance on a computerised test measuring inattention, impulsivity and visual speed processing.

Abstract of Acetaminophen use in pregnancy and neurodevelopment: attention function and autism spectrum symptoms

Background: Acetaminophen is extensively used during pregnancy. But there is a lack of population-representative cohort studies evaluating its effects on a range of neuropsychological and behavioural endpoints. We aimed to assess whether prenatal exposure to acetaminophen is adversely associated with neurodevelopmental outcomes at 1 and 5 years of age.

Methods: This Spanish birth cohort study included 2644 mother-child pairs recruited during pregnancy. The proportion of liveborn participants evaluated at 1 and 5 years was 88.8% and 79.9%, respectively. Use of acetaminophen was evaluated prospectively in two structured interviews. Ever/never use and frequency of use (never, sporadic, persistent) were measured. Main neurodevelopment outcomes were assessed using Childhood Autism Spectrum Test (CAST), Conner’s Kiddie Continuous Performance Test (K-CPT) and ADHD-DSM-IV form list. Regression models were adjusted for social determinants and co-morbidities.

Results: Over 40% of mothers reported using acetaminophen. Ever-exposed offspring had higher risks of presenting more hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms [incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 1.41, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.01–1.98), K-CPT commission errors (IRR = 1.10, 1.03–1.17), and lower detectability scores (coefficient β = −0.75, −0.13–−0.02). CAST scores were increased in ever-exposed males (β = 0.63, 0.09–1.18). Increased effect sizes of risks by frequency of use were observed for hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms (IRR = 2.01, 0.95–4.24) in all children, K-CPT commission errors (IRR = 1.32, 1.05–1.66) and detectability (β = −0.18, −0.36–0.00) in females, and CAST scores in males (β = 1.91, 0.44–3.38).

Conclusions: Prenatal acetaminophen exposure was associated with a greater number of autism spectrum symptoms in males and showed adverse effects on attention-related outcomes for both genders. These associations seem to be dependent on the frequency of exposure.

Categories: Science