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Metal-Free Metamaterial Can be Swiftly Tuned to Change Electromagnetic Properties

Posted: 02 May 2018 08:17 AM PDT

Dielectric Metamaterial is Dynamically Tuned by Light

Researchers at Duke University have built the first metal-free, dynamically tunable metamaterial for controlling electromagnetic waves. The approach could form the basis for technologies ranging from improved security scanners to new types of visual displays.

The results appear on April 9 in the journal Advanced Materials.

[...] For this study, the [silicon] cylinders were sized to interact with terahertz waves—a band of the electromagnetic spectrum that sits between microwaves and infrared light. Controlling this wavelength of light could improve broadband communications between satellites or lead to security technology that can easily scan through clothing. The approach could also be adapted to other bands of the electromagnetic spectrum—like infrared or visible light—simply by scaling the size of the cylinders.

Phototunable Dielectric Huygens' Metasurfaces (DOI: 10.1002/adma.201800278) (DX)


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Training The Squirrel Terminator

Posted: 02 May 2018 07:15 AM PDT

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

Depending on which hemisphere of the Earth you're currently reading this from, summer is finally starting to fight its way to the surface. For the more "green" of our readers, that can mean it's time to start making plans for summer gardening. But as anyone who's ever planted something edible can tell you, garden pests such as squirrels are fantastically effective at turning all your hard work into a wasteland. Finding ways to keep them away from your crops can be a full-time job, but luckily it's a job nobody will mind if automation steals from humans.

[Peter Quinn] writes in to tell us about the elaborate lengths he is going to keep bushy-tailed marauders away from his tomatoes this year. Long term he plans on setting up a non-lethal sentry gun to scare them away, but before he can get to that point he needs to perfect the science of automatically targeting his prey. At the same time, he wants to train the system well enough that it won't fire on humans or other animals such as cats and birds which might visit his garden.

Source: https://hackaday.com/2018/04/30/training-the-squirrel-terminator/


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Volkswagen and Audi Cars Vulnerable to Remote Hacking

Posted: 02 May 2018 05:43 AM PDT

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow4408

A Dutch cyber-security firm has discovered that in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems deployed with some car models from the Volkswagen Group are vulnerable to remote hacking. Daan Keuper and Thijs Alkemade, security researchers with Computest, said they successfully tested their findings and exploit chains on Volkswagen Golf GTE and Audi A3 Sportback e-tron models (Audi is a brand part of the Volkswagen Group).

The two researchers said used a car's WiFi connection to exploit an exposed port and gain access to the car's IVI, manufactured by electronics vendor Harman. Researchers also gained access to the IVI system's root account, which they say allowed them access to other car data.

"Under certain conditions attackers could listen in to conversations the driver is conducting via a car kit, turn the microphone on and off, as well as gaining access to the complete address book and the conversation history," Computest researchers said. "Furthermore, due to the vulnerability, there is the possibility of discovering through the navigation system precisely where the driver has been, and to follow the car live wherever it is at any given time," researchers added.

Source: https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/volkswagen-and-audi-cars-vulnerable-to-remote-hacking/

Original Paper: The Connected Car Ways to get unauthorized access and potential implications


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China is Mining Data Directly from Workers’ Brains on an Industrial Scale

Posted: 02 May 2018 04:11 AM PDT

'Forget the Facebook leak': China is mining data directly from workers' brains on an industrial scale

But there's one big difference – the workers wear caps to monitor their brainwaves, data that management then uses to adjust the pace of production and redesign workflows, according to the company.

The company said it could increase the overall efficiency of the workers by manipulating the frequency and length of break times to reduce mental stress.


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GEDmatch: "What If It Was Called Police Genealogy?"

Posted: 02 May 2018 02:23 AM PDT

Police submitted a DNA sample under a fake name to GEDmatch, an online DNA-matching/genealogy service, in order to capture a man they suspect to be the "Golden State Killer". Science Magazine interviewed Yaniv Erlich, who warned back in 2014 that GEDmatch could be used for law enforcement purposes:

A chat with the geneticist who predicted how the police may have tracked down the Golden State Killer

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Hasbro Acquires Power Rangers and Other Assets From Saban Entertainment for $522 Million

Posted: 02 May 2018 12:48 AM PDT

Hasbro Picks Up Power Rangers, Other Saban Entertainment Assets, for $522 Million

Toymaker Hasbro, Inc. announced on Tuesday said it would acquire Saban's Power Rangers and other entertainment assets in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $522 million.

The transaction also includes other properties including "My Pet Monster," "Popples," "Julius Jr.," "Luna Petunia" and "Treehouse Detectives." Hasbro and Saban brands previously announced a $22 million master toy licensing agreement set to begin next year.

Hasbro will pay nearly $230 million in cash and issue $270 [million] in Hasbro common stock for the assets. The sale is expected to [close] during the second quarter of 2018.

The Power Rangers franchise, first started in 1993 by Haim Saban, is one of the longest-running live-action kids series. It has now spawned a number of movies including last year's Lionsgate picture, which grossed $142 million globally.

Hasbro's financials were recently hurt by the demise of Toys "R" Us.

Haim Saban.

Also at Deadline, CNBC, and The Hollywood Reporter.


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Nvidia V100 GPUs and Google TPUv2 Chips Benchmarked; V100 GPUs Now on Google Cloud

Posted: 01 May 2018 11:13 PM PDT

RiseML Benchmarks Google TPUv2 against Nvidia V100 GPU

RiseML Blog last week reported benchmarks that suggest Google's custom TPUv2 chips and Nvidia V100 GPUs offer roughly comparable performance on select deep learning tasks but that the cost for access to TPUv2 technology on Google Cloud is less than the cost of accessing V100s on AWS. Google began providing public access to TPUv2 in February via its Cloud TPU offering which includes four TPUv2 chips.

[...] Elmar Haußmann, cofounder and CTO of RiseML, wrote in the company blog, "In terms of raw performance on ResNet-50, four TPUv2 chips (one Cloud TPU) and four V100 GPUs are equally fast (within 2% of each other) in our benchmarks. We will likely see further optimizations in software (e.g., TensorFlow or CUDA) that improve performance and change this.

Google later announced that it would offer access to Nvidia Tesla V100 GPUs on its Google Cloud Platform:

The cloud giant also announced general availability of Nvidia's previous-generation P100 parts, in public beta on Google's platform since September 2017.

[...] While Google was the first of the big three public cloud providers to embrace [Nvidia Tesla (Pascal)] P100s, it was the last to adopt V100s. Amazon Web Services has offered the Volta parts since October 2017. Microsoft Azure followed with a private preview in November 2017. And IBM brought PCIe variant V100s into its cloud in January of this year.


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NASA Analyzes Forgotten Galileo Data from Flyby of Ganymede

Posted: 01 May 2018 09:38 PM PDT

NASA dusts off FORTRAN manual, revives 20-year-old data on Ganymede

NASA scientists have made some new discoveries about Jupiter's giant moon Ganymede, thanks to a dedicated team, an elderly VAX machine and 20-year-old data from the long-defunct Galileo probe.

Fifteen years after Galileo (no, not that one) ended its days with a plunge into the atmosphere of Jupiter, NASA scientists have resurrected the 20-year-old datasets and added more detail to the puzzle of Ganymede's magnetosphere.

The new data, published in Geophysical Research Letters [DOI: 10.1002/2017GL075487] [DX], paints a picture of a stormy environment, with particles blasted off the moon's icy surface by incoming plasma raining down from Jupiter.

Ganymede is the solar system's largest and most massive satellite, but has slightly lower surface gravity than the Moon (0.146g vs 0.165g). Like many other icy objects in the solar system, Ganymede may have liquid oceans capable of supporting life. ESA's Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) will fly by Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa before eventually orbiting Ganymede. It may also include a Russian-built Ganymede lander.

Also at NASA.


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"Mission Success" for Arkyd-6 Asteroid Prospecting Demonstration Spacecraft

Posted: 01 May 2018 08:03 PM PDT

Planetary Resources declares 'mission success' for Arkyd-6

The technology demonstration spacecraft Arkyd-6, built by Planetary Resources to test technologies for future asteroid prospecting, has completed all of its mission requirements, the company said April 24, 2018.

Launched on Jan. 12, 2018, atop an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle with 30 other satellites, the 22-pound (10-kilogram) Arkyd-6 was designed as a technology demonstrator for future missions to explore and categorize asteroids for eventual resource mining.

[...] The company said the spacecraft successfully deployed its solar panels, demonstrated using its attitude control, distributed computing systems, communications systems, and its Mid-Wavelength Infrared (MWIR) imager.

Planetary Resources said the MWIR is the first commercial imager of its kind in space. It is capable of detecting water and other resources on Earth, but the company hopes to use the technology to locate water and minerals on asteroids for potential mining.

The company plans to launch Arkyd-301 spacecraft to near-Earth asteroids starting in 2020. The article includes an animation of what an Algerian refinery looks like using the MWIR imager.

Previously: Planetary Resources' Arkyd-6 Ready for Launch


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"Synthetic Opioids" Now Kill More People than Prescription Opioids in the U.S.

Posted: 01 May 2018 06:16 PM PDT

Synthetics now killing more people than prescription opioids, report says

Synthetic opioids such as fentanyl have overtaken prescription opioids as the No. 1 killer in the opioid epidemic, according to a new report.

The report, published Tuesday in the journal JAMA [DOI: 10.1001/jama.2018.2844] [DX], calculated the number and percentage of synthetic opioid-related overdose deaths in the United States between 2010 and 2016 using death certificates from the National Vital Statistics System. The researchers found that about 46% of the 42,249 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2016 involved synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, while 40% involved prescription drugs.

That's more than a three-fold increase in the presence of synthetic opioids from 2010, when synthetic drugs were involved in approximately 14% of opioid-overdose deaths.

Related: Heroin, Fentanyl? Meh: Carfentanil is the Latest Killer Opioid
Study Finds Stark Increase in Opioid-Related Admissions, Deaths in Nation's ICUs
U.S. Life Expectancy Continues to Decline Due to Opioid Crisis
Purdue Pharma to Cut Sales Force, Stop Marketing Opioids to Doctors
The More Opioids Doctors Prescribe, the More Money They Make
Two More Studies Link Access to Cannabis to Lower Use of Opioids


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Instagram to Automatically Filter Out "Bullying" Comments

Posted: 01 May 2018 04:41 PM PDT

Instagram will filter out bullying comments

At the F8 conference today, it was announced that Instagram will filter out bullying comments from posts, starting today. This includes anything "intended to harass or upset people in our community," the platform's CEO said in a post. Doing this will ensure Instagram remains "an inclusive, supportive place for all voices," he wrote.

From our CEO @kevin: "Starting today, Instagram will filter bullying comments intended to harass or upset people in our community. To be clear: we don't tolerate bullying on Instagram. Our Community Guidelines have always prohibited bullying on our platform, and I'm proud to announce this next step in our ongoing commitment to keeping Instagram an inclusive, supportive place for all voices. We also believe in promoting kindness — encouraging our community to support one another both on and off Instagram. On Saturday we will host a Kindness Prom to celebrate people on our platform who are spreading positivity. These young leaders are inspiring their peers by helping kindness, acceptance and support grow on Instagram and in the world. Since Mike and I founded Instagram, it's been our goal to make it a safe place for self-expression and to foster kindness within the community. This update is just the next step in our mission to deliver on that promise."

The filter will be enabled automatically, but can be disabled. Regardless of a user's settings, the filter will be able to automatically flag comments for official review. Facebook's DeepText machine learning algorithm is used to review words for context and meaning.

Also at NYT and The Verge.


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Russia Launches Barge Carrying Nuclear Power Plant

Posted: 01 May 2018 02:55 PM PDT

The Akademik Lomonosov, under construction since 2007, has been launched. The barge,

has a length of 144 metres (472 ft) and width of 30 metres (98 ft). It has a displacement of 21,500 tonnes and a crew of 69 people. For the power generation, it has two modified KLT-40 naval propulsion reactors together providing up to 70 MW of electricity or 300 MW of heat.

According to Engadget:

Starting from St Petersburg, it will be towed around Norway to a Russian town called Murmansk to take on nuclear fuel. From there, it will head to the Arctic to power the oil-industry town of Pevek, along with a desalination plant and drilling rigs. While it's not the first floating nuclear plant -- the US used one from 1968 to 1975 -- it will be the first one in almost 40 years.

Futurism reports that:

Rosatom, the government-owned Russian energy company that developed the Lomonosov, released a statement saying that the floating reactor will be "invincible" to tsunamis and other natural disasters, and that it has met all the requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The company argues that they have rendered Lomonosov harmless to the environment.

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Comcast Won’t Give New Speed Boost to Internet Users Who Don’t Buy TV Service

Posted: 01 May 2018 01:11 PM PDT

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow4408

Comcast keeps losing TV subscribers, but it has a new way to fight cord cutting.

As streaming video continues to chip away at cable TV subscriber numbers, Comcast is making some of its Internet speed increases available only to customers that pay for both Internet and video service.

Last week, Comcast announced speed increases for customers in Houston and the Oregon/SW Washington areas. The announcement headlines were "Comcast increases Internet speeds for some video customers."

Customers with 60Mbps Internet download speeds are being upped to 150Mbps; 150Mbps subscribers are going to 250Mbps; and 250Mbps subscribers are getting a raise to 400Mbps or 1Gbps.

Comcast says speed increases will kick in automatically without raising the customers' monthly bills—but only if they subscribe to certain bundles that include both Internet and TV service.

Source: https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2018/04/comcast-wont-give-new-speed-boost-to-internet-users-who-dont-buy-tv-service/


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Video Game Loot Boxes are now Considered Criminal Gambling in Belgium

Posted: 01 May 2018 11:35 AM PDT

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

FIFA, Overwatch, Counter-Strike: GO could face fines and prison penalties.

The Belgian Gaming Commission has determined that randomized loot boxes in at least three games count as "games of chance," and publishers could therefore be subject to fines and prison sentences under the country's gaming legislation.

A statement by Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geens (machine translation) identifies loot boxes in Overwatch, FIFA 18, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive as meeting the criteria for that "game of chance" definition: i.e., "there is a game element [where] a bet can lead to profit or loss and chance has a role in the game." The Commission also looked at Star Wars: Battlefront II and determined that the recent changes EA made to the game means it "no longer technically forms a game of chance."

Beyond that simple definition, the Gaming Commission expressed concern over games that draw in players with an "emotional profit forecast" of randomized goods, where players "buy an advantage with real money without knowing what benefit it would be." The fact that these games don't disclose the odds of receiving specific in-game items is also worrisome, the Commission said.

[...] Belgium's decision follows on a similar finding in the Netherlands, which specifically called out loot boxes in FIFA 18, DotA 2, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and Rocket League for illegal gambling activities. In the United States, legislators in Hawaii, Washington state, and the US Senate continue to look into loot box regulations, even as industry bodies like the Entertainment Software Rating Board downplay the need for such actions.

[ TMB Note: We deeply apologize for using that word outside of a serious screenplay. ]

Source: https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2018/04/video-game-loot-boxes-are-now-considered-criminal-gambling-in-belgium/


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Judge says CIA Emails to Journalists Don't Have to be Released to Public

Posted: 01 May 2018 10:03 AM PDT

Submitted via IRC for DrexlSpivey

The CIA can selectively divulge classified information to selected reporters in emails yet withhold that information from other journalists or members of the public when they seek the same information under the Freedom of Information Act, a federal judge in New York has ruled.

The decision appeared in the court record on Friday but became more widely disseminated Monday.

The ruling comes amid vigorous national debate over leaks to the media and the use of anonymous sources in covering national security news, including an ongoing FBI investigation into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Judge Colleen McMahon of the Southern District of New York ruled that the CIA does not have to release parts of five emails senior CIA officials sent to journalists from the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and The Washington Post in 2012. At the time, the CIA was facing pressure over links it may have had to a Pakistani doctor who helped American forces hunt down Osama bin Laden.

Source: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/national-security/article210169704.html


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