Look Up! NASA Launch Will Create Colorful Clouds

Space.com - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 12:08pm
NASA is hoping to execute a nighttime rocket launch that's designed to create artificial glowing clouds. These could be visible to millions of people along the U.S. East Coast tonight (June 18).
Categories: Science

Glowing Nebula Decorates Space in Hubble Image

Space.com - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 12:00pm
A splendid nebula decorates the cosmos 2,000 light-years from Earth.
Categories: Science

The Most Amazing Space Photos This Week!

Space.com - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 12:00pm
A "Strawberry Minimoon" rises over New York City, the Black Sea turns turquoise and Saturn's moon Iapetus has a two-toned face. Here are our picks for the most amazing space photos of the week.
Categories: Science

Lunar Laser Link: Virtual Reality from the Moon

Space.com - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 11:46am
The world’s first laser communication link…from the Moon!
Categories: Science

Obama Failed to Punish Russian Hacking, and Other Security News This Week

Wired News - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 11:00am
Every Saturday we round up the biggest cybersecurity news of the week.
Categories: Science

Honda's Self-Driving Approach Starts With the Acura NSX Supercar

Wired News - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 11:00am
The NSX relies on the kind of innovation that will help Honda cruise into the self-driving future.
Categories: Science

The Most Amazing Space Stories of the Week!

Space.com - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 11:00am
4,034 potential planets, the blinding power of a solar eclipse, a military space corps and a horde of space lasers feature in Space.com's top stories this week.
Categories: Science

Sci-Hub Ordered To Pay $15 Million In Piracy Damages

Slashdot - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 10:00am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Two years ago, academic publisher Elsevier filed a complaint (PDF) against Sci-Hub and several related "pirate" sites. It accused the websites of making academic papers widely available to the public, without permission. While Sci-Hub is nothing like the average pirate site, it is just as illegal according to Elsevier's legal team, who obtained a preliminary injunction from a New York District Court last fall. The injunction ordered Sci-Hub's founder Alexandra Elbakyan to quit offering access to any Elsevier content. However, this didn't happen. Instead of taking Sci-Hub down, the lawsuit achieved the opposite. Sci-Hub grew bigger and bigger up to a point where its users were downloading hundreds of thousands of papers per day. Although Elbakyan sent a letter to the court earlier, she opted not engage in the U.S. lawsuit any further. The same is true for her fellow defendants, associated with Libgen. As a result, Elsevier asked the court for a default judgment and a permanent injunction which were issued this week. Following a hearing on Wednesday, the Court awarded Elsevier $15,000,000 in damages, the maximum statutory amount for the 100 copyrighted works that were listed in the complaint. In addition, the injunction, through which Sci-Hub and LibGen lost several domain names, was made permanent.

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FCC Grants OneWeb Approval To Launch Over 700 Satellites For 'Space Internet'

Slashdot - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 7:00am
OneWeb has been granted approval from the FCC to launch a network of internet-beaming satellites into orbit. FCC chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement: "Humans have long sought inspiration from the stars, from the ancient Egyptians orienting the pyramids toward certain stars to the Greeks using constellations to write their mythology. In modern times, we've done the same, with over 1,000 active satellites currently in orbit. Today, the FCC harnesses that inspiration as we seek to make the promise of high-speed internet access a reality for more Americans, partly through the skies..." The Verge reports: OneWeb plans to launch a constellation of 720 low-Earth orbit satellites using non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) technology in order to provide global, high-speed broadband. The company's goal has far-reaching implications, and would provide internet to rural and hard-to-reach areas that currently have little access to internet connectivity. Additionally, OneWeb has a targets of "connecting every unconnected school" by 2022, and "bridging the digital divide" by 2027. According to OneWeb, the company plans to launch an initial 10 production satellites in early 2018, which, pending tests, will then be followed by a full launch as early as 2019.

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Obama Authorized a Secret Cyber Operation Against Russia, Says Report

Slashdot - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 3:30am
Jessica Conditt reports via Engadget: President Barack Obama learned of Russia's attempts to hack U.S. election systems in early August 2016, and as intelligence mounted over the following months, the White House deployed secrecy protocols it hadn't used since the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, according to a report by The Washington Post. Apparently, one of the covert programs Obama, the CIA, NSA and other intelligence groups eventually put together was a new kind of cyber operation that places remotely triggered "implants" in critical Russian networks, ready for the U.S. to deploy in the event of a pre-emptive attack. The downed Russian networks "would cause them pain and discomfort," a former U.S. official told The Post. The report says CIA director John Brennan, Obama and other officials had at least four "blunt" conversations with Russian officials about its cyber intrusions beginning August 4th. Obama confronted Vladimir Putin in person during a meeting of world leaders in China this past September, the report says, and his administration even sent Russia a warning through a secure channel originally designed to help the two countries avoid a nuclear strike. Moscow apparently responded one week later -- after the U.S. election -- denying the accusation.

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32TB of Windows 10 Internal Builds, Core Source Code Leak Online

Slashdot - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 2:05am
According to an exclusive report via The Register, "a massive trove of Microsoft's internal Windows operating system builds and chunks of its core source code have leaked online." From the report: The data -- some 32TB of installation images and software blueprints that compress down to 8TB -- were uploaded to betaarchive.com, the latest load of files provided just earlier this week. It is believed the data has been exfiltrated from Microsoft's in-house systems since around March. The leaked code is Microsoft's Shared Source Kit: according to people who have seen its contents, it includes the source to the base Windows 10 hardware drivers plus Redmond's PnP code, its USB and Wi-Fi stacks, its storage drivers, and ARM-specific OneCore kernel code. Anyone who has this information can scour it for security vulnerabilities, which could be exploited to hack Windows systems worldwide. The code runs at the heart of the operating system, at some of its most trusted levels. In addition to this, hundreds of top-secret builds of Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016, none of which have been released to the public, have been leaked along with copies of officially released versions.

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6 Female Founders Accuse VC Justin Caldbeck of Making Unwanted Advances

Slashdot - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 1:25am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Yesterday The Information reported on allegations made by half a dozen women working in the tech industry who say they have faced unwanted and inappropriate advances from Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Justin Caldbeck, co-founder and managing partner of Binary Capital. The women include Niniane Wang, co-creator of Google Desktop and a prior CTO of Minted; and Susan Ho and Leiti Hsu, co-founders of Journy, a travel planning and booking service. The Information also talked to three other women who said Caldbeck made inappropriate advances to them. It says these women did not want their names disclosed for fear of retaliation from the VC -- and because of wider concerns they might suffer a backlash from men in the industry who don't see inappropriate advances as a problem. Among the allegations made to The Information are that Caldbeck sent explicit text messages to women; that Caldbeck sent messages in the middle of the night suggesting meeting up; that Caldbeck suggested going to a hotel bedroom during a meeting; that Caldbeck made a proposition about having an open relationship; and that Caldbeck grabbed a woman's thigh under the table of a bar during a meeting. Several of the women reported finding Caldbeck's advances so awkward they gave up on continued dealings with him. In Caldbeck's initial statement, he "strongly" denied the allegations and claimed: "I have always enjoyed respectful relationships with female founders, business partners, and investors." However, in response to The Information's story, his tone changed significantly: "Obviously, I am deeply disturbed by these allegations. While significant context is missing from the incidents reported by The Information, I deeply regret ever causing anyone to feel uncomfortable. The fact is that I have been privileged to have worked with female entrepreneurs throughout my career and I sincerely apologize to anyone who I made uncomfortable by my actions. There's no denying this is an issue in the venture community, and I hate that my behavior has contributed to it." Caldbeck has since released a full statement to Axios, where he says he "will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from Binary Capital..."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Tactile sensor lets robots gauge objects’ hardness and manipulate small tools

Kurzweil AI - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 1:05am

A GelSight sensor attached to a robot’s gripper enables the robot to determine precisely where it has grasped a small screwdriver, removing it from and inserting it back into a slot, even when the gripper screens the screwdriver from the robot’s camera. (credit: Robot Locomotion Group at MIT)

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have added sensors to grippers on robot arms to give robots greater sensitivity and dexterity. The sensor can judge the hardness of surfaces it touches, enabling a robot to manipulate smaller objects than was previously possible.

The “GelSight” sensor consists of a block of transparent soft rubber — the “gel” of its name — with one face coated with metallic paint. It is mounted on one side of a robotic gripper. When the paint-coated face is pressed against an object, the face conforms to the object’s shape and the metallic paint makes the object’s surface reflective. Mounted on the sensor opposite the paint-coated face of the rubber block are three colored lights at different angles and a single camera.

Humans gauge hardness by the degree to which the contact area between the object and our fingers changes as we press on it. Softer objects tend to flatten more, increasing the contact area. The MIT researchers used the same approach.

A GelSight sensor, pressed against each object manually, recorded how the contact pattern changed over time, essentially producing a short movie for each object. A neural network was then used to look for correlations between changes in contact patterns and hardness measurements. The resulting system takes frames of video as inputs and produces hardness scores with very high accuracy.

The researchers also designed control algorithms that use a computer vision system to guide the robot’s gripper toward a tool and then turn location estimation over to a GelSight sensor once the robot has the tool in hand.

“I think that the GelSight technology, as well as other high-bandwidth tactile sensors, will make a big impact in robotics,” says Sergey Levine, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California at Berkeley. “For humans, our sense of touch is one of the key enabling factors for our amazing manual dexterity. Current robots lack this type of dexterity and are limited in their ability to react to surface features when manipulating objects. If you imagine fumbling for a light switch in the dark, extracting an object from your pocket, or any of the other numerous things that you can do without even thinking — these all rely on touch sensing.”

The researchers presented their work in two papers at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation.


Wenzhen Yuan | Measuring hardness of fruits with GelSight sensor

Abstract of Tracking Objects with Point Clouds from Vision and Touch

We present an object-tracking framework that fuses point cloud information from an RGB-D camera with tactile information from a GelSight contact sensor. GelSight can be treated as a source of dense local geometric information, which we incorporate directly into a conventional point-cloud-based articulated object tracker based on signed-distance functions. Our implementation runs at 12 Hz using an online depth reconstruction algorithm for GelSight and a modified secondorder update for the tracking algorithm. We present data from hardware experiments demonstrating that the addition of contact-based geometric information significantly improves the pose accuracy during contact, and provides robustness to occlusions of small objects by the robot’s end effector.

Categories: Science

Tesla Is 'In Talks' To Build a Factory In China

Slashdot - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 12:45am
Tesla confirmed yesterday that it is "in talks" with the municipal government of Shanghai to manufacture its vehicles in the country. Tesla said in a statement: "Tesla is working with the Shanghai Municipal Government to explore the possibility of establishing a manufacturing facility in the region to serve the Chinese market. As we've said before, we expect to more clearly define our plans for production in China by the end of the year. Tesla is deeply committed to the Chinese market, and we continue to evaluate potential manufacturing sites around the globe to serve the local markets. While we expect most of our production to remain in the U.S., we do need to establish local factories to ensure affordability for the markets they serve." Quartz reports: The announcement follows more than a year of speculation that the electric-vehicle maker would set up shop in China, and confirms that Tesla is altering its China strategy away from merely exporting vehicles in order to reach more Chinese consumers. Earlier this year, Musk made a stealth visit to China to visit Wang Yang, one of the nation's highest-ranking officials, to discuss Tesla's plans. Tesla has been selling vehicles in China since 2014, but to date, its share of the electric vehicle market remains marginal, at just 2% as of June 2016, according to trade blog CleanTechnica. There are several reasons for this, one of which is price. Tesla currently exports its vehicles to China, and the government places an import tax of 50% on Tesla cars. The sticker price for the most simple Model S in China is $104,972, compared to $69,500 in the US.

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Small chips, big impact: Researcher studies cardiovascular, sickle cell disease

Science Daily - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 12:20am
A researcher is developing new miniature models to better understand the factors that lead to heart disease and sickle cell anemia.
Categories: Science

'Chiropractors Are Bullshit'

Slashdot - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 12:05am
From an article on The Outline, submitted by two readers: If you're one of the approximately 80 percent of Americans who have suffered from back pain, you may have been referred to a chiropractor for medical help. In the modern-day internet landscape, you'll find chiropractic celebrities like Dr. Josh Axe (1.7 million Facebook followers), Dr. Billy DeMoss (20,000 Facebook followers), and Dr. Eric Berg (472,000 YouTube subscribers) giving advice that goes beyond managing spinal issues. Both in their offices and on social media, chiropractors have adapted to a marketplace that's demanding more than just pain management: they extol the virtues of an "alkaline diet," tell you how to manage stress with detoxing, and wax scientific about the adrenal gland. [...] Chiropractic care, I'm sorry to say, is little more than the buffoonery of a 19th-century lunatic who derived most of his medical theory from seances. It has not evolved much since its creation. Chiropractic beliefs are dangerously far removed from mainstream medicine, and the vocation's practices have been linked to strokes, herniated discs, and even death. Chiropractors can't replace your doctor, and I'm amazed that they're still even allowed to practice. [...] Though some chiropractors are now making an effort to introduce evidence-based practices into their treatment, chiropractic as a whole hasn't evolved like other areas of medicine -- with hypotheses, experimentation, and peer review. Instead, it was birthed by a strange combination of hocus pocus, guesswork, and strongly held religious beliefs.

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Plastic Water Bottles Might Have Poisoned Ancient Californians

Wired News - Sat, 24/06/2017 - 12:00am
Native Americans living in California made their own plastic water bottles. However, they didn't know how toxic that might be.
Categories: Science

Texting While Driving Now Legal In Colorado -- In Some Cases

Slashdot - Fri, 23/06/2017 - 11:20pm
Fines for texting and driving in Colorado have jumped to $300, but according to the fine print, the increased fine only applies to drivers who are texting in "a careless or imprudent manner." Therefore, drivers who are texting in any other manner are still within the law. FOX31 Denver reports: Before the new legislation, any texting while driving was illegal. Tim Lane of the Colorado District Attorney's Office confirmed the softening crackdown on all texting and driving. "The simple fact is that if you are texting while driving but not being careless, it's no longer illegal," he said. What constitutes "careless" driving is up to the discretion of each individual law enforcement officer. Cellphone use of any kind is still banned for drivers younger than 18. Teens caught with a phone in hand while driving will be slapped with a $50 fine.

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IT Services Company Wipro Forces 600 Employees To Work In Bed Bug Infested Office

Slashdot - Fri, 23/06/2017 - 10:40pm
McGruber writes: Information Technology Services CorporationWipro's 600-employee call center in Chamblee, Georgia is in infected with bed bugs according to Atlanta television station 11Alive. The facilities manager admits there is a bed bug problem and it's been an issue since late May. Employees told the tv station that the bugs are all over the three floors -- and they're biting. But employees are being told they still must go to work. Kwanita Holmes sent 11Alive photos of what she said is a bed bug bite on her arm: "We're at work 8 hours a day and we're getting munched on all day," she said. Wipro said it's paying for in-home bed bug consultations and treatments for employees.

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Categories: Science