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NOAA Just Prevented SpaceX From Showing its Rocket in Orbit

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 09:29 AM PDT

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

On Friday morning, SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket into space and later deployed 10 Iridium communications satellites into low-Earth orbit as planned. But unexpectedly for most watching, the company's webcast was precluded from showing the mission in its entirety.

At T+ 9:00 minutes, just two seconds before the rocket's second-stage engine cut off from firing, the video from space ended. The launch commentator, SpaceX engineer Michael Hammersley, explained earlier in the broadcast that "[d]ue to some restrictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, SpaceX will be intentionally ending live video coverage of the 2nd stage just prior to engine shutdown."

Asked about this on Friday morning, a NOAA spokesman was not aware of the situation. "I can only think it's an error," Chris Vaccaro told Ars. "I would double check with them (SpaceX)." NOAA has promised more information will be forthcoming. (4:45pm ET Update: NOAA released this statement).

We did double check with SpaceX. It was definitely an issue with NOAA, the rocket company said. Apparently NOAA recently asserted that cameras on the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, which SpaceX uses for engineering purposes, qualify as a remote sensing system, which are subject to NOAA's regulation. A provisional license obtained by SpaceX for Friday's launch of the Iridium-5 mission required it to end views once the second stage reached orbit.

-- submitted from IRC

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Walmart Could Jump on the "Buy a Health Insurer" Trend with Humana Acquisition

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 07:08 AM PDT

Walmart could acquire the health insurer Humana, in a deal reminiscent of CVS's acquisition of Aetna:

Walmart Inc. is in preliminary talks to buy insurer Humana Inc., according to people familiar with the matter, a deal that would mark a dramatic shift for the retail behemoth and the latest in a recent flurry of big deals in health-care services.

It isn't clear what terms the companies may be discussing, and there is no guarantee they will strike a deal. If they do, the deal would be big: Humana currently has a market value of about $37 billion. It also would be Walmart's largest deal by far, eclipsing its 1999 acquisition of the U.K.'s Asda Group PLC for $10.8 billion. Walmart, which in addition to being the world's biggest retailer is also a major drugstore operator, has a market value of about $260 billion.

[...] Walmart has a vast pharmacy business, with locations in most of its roughly 4,700 U.S. stores and in many of it Sam's Club warehouse locations. Humana is a Medicare-focused insurer that could deepen Walmart's relationship with a key demographic—seniors—at a time when the retailer is being threatened by Amazon on several fronts.

Also at CNN.

Related: $54 Billion Anthem-Cigna Health Insurer Merger Rejected by U.S. Judge
CVS Attempting $66 Billion Acquisition of Health Insurer Aetna
Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase to Offer Their Own Health Care to U.S. Employees
Is Amazon Planning a Disruptive AWS-Like Move Into Health Care?
Amazon Prime... For Medicaid Recipients

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Smaller and Faster: The Terahertz Computer Chip is Now Within Reach

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 04:47 AM PDT

Submitted via IRC for AndyTheAbsurd

[...] Optic communications encompass all technologies that use light and transmit through fiber optic cables, such as the internet, email, text messages, phone calls, the cloud and data centers, among others. Optic communications are super fast but in microchips they become unreliable and difficult to replicate in large quanitites.

Now, by using a Metal-Oxide-Nitride-Oxide-Silicon (MONOS) structure, Levy and his team have come up with a new integrated circuit that uses flash memory technology -- the kind used in flash drives and discs-on-key -- in microchips. If successful, this technology will enable standard 8-16 gigahertz computers to run 100 times faster and will bring all optic devices closer to the holy grail of communications: the terahertz chip.

Source: Smaller and faster: The terahertz computer chip is now within reach

Non-Volatile Silicon Photonics Using Nanoscale Flash Memory Technology (DOI: 10.1002/lpor.201700190) (DX)

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Huawei CEO Still Committed to the U.S. Market

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 02:26 AM PDT

Huawei's consumer business group CEO Richard Yu is not giving up on selling smartphones and other devices in the U.S., despite warnings against the company made by U.S. government officials and a lack of support from retailers. The company recently released a new flagship smartphone, the Huawei P20 Pro:

"We are committed to the US market and to earning the trust of US consumers by staying focused on delivering world-class products and innovation," Yu told CNET in an email. "We would never compromise that trust."

The comments mark a defiant response to the vague warnings made by US officials that have effectively crippled Huawei's ability to get its phones in front of consumers. In January, AT&T pulled out of a landmark plan to sell the Mate 10 Pro, an important high-end Huawei phone. Verizon reportedly also scuttled a deal to carry the device based on political pressure. CNET was also first to report that Best Buy, the US' largest electronics retailer, dropped Huawei phones from its roster.

[...] "The security risk concerns are based on groundless suspicions and are quite frankly unfair," Yu said. "We welcome an open and transparent discussion if it is based on facts." [...] "We work with 46 of the 50 global operators," Yu told CNET, "And have maintained a very strong security record because security is one of our top priorities." [...] "Even without the United States market, we'll be No. 1 in the world," Yu said earlier this week.

Huawei reported a 27% jump in profits in 2017, despite its struggle to establish itself in the U.S. market.

See also: Huawei P20 launch highlights the risks of U.S. paranoia over Chinese security
Huawei's P20 Pro is a hugely promising phone that will upset Americans

Previously: U.S. Lawmakers Urge AT&T to Cut Ties With Huawei
Verizon Cancels Plans to Sell Huawei Phone Due to U.S. Government Pressure
The U.S. Intelligence Community's Demonization of Huawei Remains Highly Hypocritical

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U.S. National Institutes of Health Punishes Researchers Who Break Confidentiality of Peer Review

Posted: 31 Mar 2018 12:05 AM PDT

NIH moves to punish researchers who violate confidentiality in proposal reviews

When a scientist sends a grant application to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, and it goes through peer review, the entire process is supposed to be shrouded in secrecy. But late last year, NIH officials disclosed that they had discovered that someone involved in the proposal review process had violated confidentiality rules designed to protect its integrity. As a result, the agency announced in December 2017 that it would rereview dozens of applications that might have been compromised.

Now, NIH says it has completed re-evaluating 60 applications and has also begun taking disciplinary action against researchers who broke its rules. "We are beginning a process of really coming down on reviewers and applicants who do anything to break confidentiality of review," Richard Nakamura, director of NIH's Center for Scientific Review (CSR), said at a meeting of the center's advisory council earlier this week. (CSR manages most of NIH's peer reviews.) Targets could include "applicants who try to influence reviewers ... [or] try to get favors from reviewers."

[...] The agency provided few details about the transgressions after Michael Lauer, NIH's deputy director for extramural research, published a blog post on the matter on 22 December 2017.

Related: Should Scientific Journals Publish Text of Peer Reviews?

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FCC Authorizes SpaceX to Provide Broadband Satellite Services

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 09:44 PM PDT

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

The Federal Communications Commission approved an application by Space Exploration Holdings, doing business as SpaceX, to provide broadband services using satellite technology in the United States and around the world. With this action, the Commission takes another step to increase high-speed broadband availability and competition in the United States.

This is the first approval of a U.S.-licensed satellite constellation to provide broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies. SpaceX proposed a satellite system comprised of 4,425 satellites and was granted authority to use frequencies in the Ka (20/30 GHz) and Ku (11/14 GHz) bands to provide global Internet connectivity.

From Techcrunch:

The company has already launched test versions of the satellites, but the full constellation will need to go out more than two at a time. SpaceX eventually plans to launch 12,000 of the things, but this authorization is for the high-altitude group of 4,425; a separate authorization is necessary for the remaining number, since they'll be operating at a different altitude and radio frequency.

-- submitted from IRC

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Microsoft Does the Cloud and AI Shuffle

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 07:24 PM PDT

From the NY Times: "The Windows era at Microsoft, long in eclipse, is officially history. Microsoft said on Tuesday that it was splitting up its Windows engineering team and that the leader of its Windows business was leaving."

Microsoft is ready for a world beyond Windows

"We want to move from people needing Windows to choosing Windows, to loving Windows. That is our bold goal," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella three years ago. At the time, Microsoft was unveiling more details about Windows 10, and surprising people with technologies like the HoloLens headset. It was an exciting time of opportunity and optimism that had Microsoft betting on people loving Windows so much that Windows 10 would be running on 1 billion devices within three years. Neither wager worked out — which is fine, because Windows as we know it is no longer critical to Microsoft's future success.

Microsoft announced a new reorganization yesterday. It's the fourth major shuffle inside the company over the past five years, and the most significant of Nadella's tenure. Microsoft is splitting Windows across the company, into different parts. Terry Myerson, a 21-year Microsoft veteran, is leaving the company and his role as Windows chief. The core development of Windows is being moved to a cloud and AI team, and a new team will take over the "experiences" Windows 10 users see like apps, the Start menu, and new features. There's a lot of shuffling going on, but Nadella's 1,300 word memo leaves little doubt over the company's true future: cloud and AI.

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Why You Stink at Fact-Checking

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 05:58 PM PDT

Here's a quick quiz for you:

In the biblical story, what was Jonah swallowed by?
How many animals of each kind did Moses take on the Ark?

Did you answer "whale" to the first question and "two" to the second? Most people do ... even though they're well aware that it was Noah, not Moses who built the ark in the biblical story.

Psychologists like me call this phenomenon the Moses Illusion. It's just one example of how people are very bad at picking up on factual errors in the world around them. Even when people know the correct information, they often fail to notice errors and will even go on to use that incorrect information in other situations.

Research from cognitive psychology shows that people are naturally poor fact-checkers and it is very difficult for us to compare things we read or hear to what we already know about a topic. In what's been called an era of "fake news," this reality has important implications for how people consume journalism, social media and other public information.

The Moses Illusion has been studied repeatedly since the 1980s. It occurs with a variety of questions and the key finding is that – even though people know the correct information – they don't notice the error and proceed to answer the question.

[...] Detecting and correcting false information is difficult work and requires fighting against the ways our brains like to process information. Critical thinking alone won't save us. Our psychological quirks put us at risk of falling for misinformation, disinformation and propaganda. Professional fact-checkers provide an essential service in hunting out incorrect information in the public view. As such, they are one of our best hopes for zeroing in on errors and correcting them, before the rest of us read or hear the false information and incorporate it into what we know of the world.


[PDF] Moses illusion: Implication for human cognition

Moses strikes again: Focalization effect on a semantic illusion

Knowledge neglect

Although the title seems click-baity, this is an interesting article. As most of you are techies, you must have faced a few problems with regard to fact-checking. What do you think about this phenomenon ?

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Silicon Valley Warms to President Trump

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 04:20 PM PDT

Silicon Valley Warms to Trump After a Chilly Start

Two days after Donald J. Trump won the 2016 election, executives at Google consoled their employees in an all-staff meeting broadcast around the world.

"There is a lot of fear within Google," said Sundar Pichai, the company's chief executive, according to a video of the meeting viewed by The New York Times. When asked by an employee if there was any silver lining to Mr. Trump's election, the Google co-founder Sergey Brin said, "Boy, that's a really tough one right now." Ruth Porat, the finance chief, said Mr. Trump's victory felt "like a ton of bricks dropped on my chest." Then she instructed members of the audience to hug the person next to them.

Sixteen months later, Google's parent company, Alphabet, has most likely saved billions of dollars in taxes on its overseas cash under a new tax law signed by Mr. Trump. Alphabet also stands to benefit from the Trump administration's looser regulations for self-driving cars and delivery drones, as well as from proposed changes to the trade pact with Mexico and Canada that would limit Google's liability for user content on its sites.

Once one of Mr. Trump's most vocal opponents, Silicon Valley's technology industry has increasingly found common ground with the White House. When Mr. Trump was elected, tech executives were largely up in arms over a leader who espoused policies on immigration and other issues that were antithetical to their companies' values. Now, many of the industry's executives are growing more comfortable with the president and how his economic agenda furthers their business interests, even as many of their employees continue to disagree with Mr. Trump on social issues.

💔 💰💰💰 💕👌

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Galaxy Found Containing No Dark Matter

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 02:39 PM PDT

A galaxy has been found containing no dark matter, but that proves dark matter is real?

A distant galaxy that appears completely devoid of dark matter has baffled astronomers and deepened the mystery of the universe's most elusive substance.

[...] In the Milky Way there is about 30 times more dark matter than normal matter. The latest observations focused on an ultra-diffuse galaxy – ghostly galaxies that are large but have hardly any stars – called NGC 1052-DF2.

The team tracked the motions of 10 bright star clusters and found that they were travelling way below the velocities expected. "They basically look like they're standing still," said van Dokkum.

The velocities gave an upper estimate for the galactic mass of 400 times lower than expected. "If there is any dark matter at all, it's very little," van Dokkum explained. "The stars in the galaxy can account for all of the mass, and there doesn't seem to be any room for dark matter."

Paradoxically, the authors said the discovery of a galaxy without dark matter counts as evidence that it probably does exist. A competing explanation for the fast-orbiting stars is that the way gravity drops off with distance has been misunderstood – but if this were the case, all galaxies should follow the same pattern.

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/mar/28/galaxy-without-any-dark-matter-baffles-astronomers. The findings are published in the journal Nature.

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Coffee: Known to the State of California to Cause Cancer

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 01:20 PM PDT

Coffee sold in California must carry cancer warning, judge rules

Coffee sold in California must carry a cancer warning, a court has ruled. The judge in Los Angeles said Starbucks and about 90 other coffee sellers had failed to warn customers about a potentially toxic compound that is produced during the roasting process.

The firms were sued by a California-based non profit-group over the chemical acrylamide. The group argued that as acrylamide is regarded as carcinogenic under state law, it should be sold with a warning.

Ruling in favour of the Council for Education and Research on Toxics, Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle said the companies should not be exempt from the law, as they had failed to prove that the "consumption of coffee confers a benefit to human health". The companies have until 10 April to appeal the decision.

Also at The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Related: California Issues Warning Over Cellphones; Study Links Non-Ionizing Radiation to Miscarriage

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ACLU to Cities: Defend Online Privacy & Net Neutrality Via Publicly-Owned Municipal Broadband

Posted: 30 Mar 2018 11:44 AM PDT

Common Dreams reports

A new report details how local officials can create publicly owned internet programs that not only protect free speech and privacy, but also are accessible and affordable

In response to Republicans' recent attacks on net neutrality and digital privacy protections at the behest of giant telecommunications companies, the ACLU is calling on local government leaders to establish municipal broadband systems.

"States, cities, towns, and counties should take matters into their own hands by creating publicly owned services that do honor those values and can help ensure an open internet." —ACLU report

"Net neutrality and privacy protections are essential for the open internet that has transformed our society. With the Trump administration and for-profit companies abandoning those values, what we're seeing around the country is that local governments can protect them and provide access for all", said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, and the principal author of an ACLU report released [March 29].

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