Why Cybersecurity has an Open-Source Solution

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 10:51 AM PDT

While cybersecurity might seem like the sort of problem that requires layers upon layers of tightly-locked proprietary software, the truth is that constant iteration and collaboration is significantly more effective at combating new threats quickly. To learn more about the benefits of open-source work in cybersecurity, and the way that cyber has changed in the past handful of decades, we spoke with Michael Shinn, CEO of Atomicorp.

[...]SHINN: Yeah. So you know, my colleagues in the open source community may have their own sort of different definitions about what they think open source is. But for me, open source has always been about the fact that if there's something that I wanted to change in the software, I could do it. And that's really the core. There are lots of other benefits of open source. It might be free, there might be a lot of people working on it, maybe there's a community. But for me, it always started with the fact that I had a piece of software that I'm using, and I can make enhancements, changes and fixes

ABERMAN: True hacker culture.

SHINN: That's right. And in cybersecurity, that's really important. There's lots of really smart people out there. It's not possible for any cybersecurity vendor to understand every possible situation in which their product might be used. The people who are going to understand that are the people who are closest to the problem. And it's great if you can make it possible for them to enhance your software, and hopefully contribute that back to you. All boats rise together. So in the security world, we see some of the more interesting or powerful cybersecurity technologies, like snort, it blew away all of the other network based IDS's that were out there, all the proprietary ones.


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Mexico Hail: Ice 1.5m thick Carpets Guadalajara

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 09:13 AM PDT

Freak flooding in Guadalajara after a massive hail storm. Pictures on BBC:

Six suburbs in the Mexican city of Guadalajara were carpeted in a thick layer of ice after a heavy hailstorm. The ice was up to 1.5m (5ft) thick in places, half-burying vehicles.

[...]Hailstorms form when warm, moist air from the surface rises upwards forming showers and storms. Temperatures higher up, even in summer, can get well below 0C and so ice crystals form along with something called "supercooled water" which then grows into pellets of ice.

In severe thunderstorms, air can rise rapidly and is able to hold up these hailstones and allow them to expand in size. Eventually they get too heavy and fall to the ground.

In warmer parts of the year, such as in Guadalajara which has maximum temperatures of around 31-32C [(87-90 °F)] in June, more moisture is available, contributing to the formation of hailstorms.

Temperatures this month have been higher than normal with Torreon, to the north of Guadalajara, reaching highs of 37C [(99 °F)].

Hm, I wonder if somebody is going to mention anthropogenic warming with this?

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5 Phones with the Best Battery Life

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 07:33 AM PDT

An article from c|net has their list of 5 Phones with the Best Battery Life:

From 5G and folding displays to pop-up cameras and in-screen fingerprint readers, this year has been a dynamic time for phones. But whether or not these technological trends are here to stay, one phone feature always ranks at the top of the list for users: a long battery life.

Now that we've reached the middle of 2019, it's time to take a look at some of the best phones so far. After all, the last thing you want is for your phone to run out of juice when you need it most. Usually, a phone lasts a full workday with moderate use. But if you use it heavily, you'll need to recharge it more often. Batteries also lose steam over time, running down faster the longer you've owned the phone. The possibility of losing battery -- and therefore losing your communication hub -- is frightening and real.

If you feel your phone's battery seems to be stuck in the '90s and doesn't last as long as you'd like, you're not alone. So if a long-life battery tops your list of needs, check out these top-scorers -- they lasted impressively long during our lab tests for continuous video playback on Airplane mode.

Wait. In Airplane mode? So that means that there are no radio circuits active. No phone calls. No internet (LTE or Wi-Fi). That makes these results questionable for real-world use, but it may be somewhat indicative of comparative longevity. With that caveat, what were their results?

Apple iPhone XR:
19 hours and 53 minutes
Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus:
21 hours
[*] Samsung Galaxy S10:
18 hours
Huawei P30 Pro:
22 hours and 57 minutes
[*] Huawei P30:
21 hours and 31 minutes
Samsung Galaxy Note 9:
19 hours and 20 minutes
LG V50 ThinQ:
17 hours and 49 minutes

[*] Related model that was also tested.

I do not use FaceBook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or any other social media site (except SoylentNews, of course). I also use my phone as a local hotspot to get on the internet when at home -- but it is usually in my charger when doing that. Further, I activated all the battery-saving measures I could find. That said, I generally have about 50% charge left on my Galaxy S7 at day's end.

How does your phone usage and logevity stack up?

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Veritas Claims Leaked Internal E-Mails from Google Showing Political Bias of Results

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:59 AM PDT

[Editor's note: This story has an interesting viewpoint given the proliferation of "Deep Fake" videos we recently covered here. I see it as a portent of discussions to come. How much can we trust reporting? How much slanting and posturing of "reports" and "studies" are going to be promulgated in the lead-up to the next presidential election? Is this item all a bunch of crap or an indication of things we can expect to come? How much can we trust, and how to we go about assessing the veracity of what is presented to us by not only the main-stream media, but also social media, too? We hereby disclaim any assurance as to the credibility of the accusations made here and present it solely as an example of what may be coming -- and an opportunity to practice techniques at validating/corroborating or challenging/refuting it. The story submission appears after the break.]

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Found: A Sweet Way to Make Everyday Things Almost Indestructible

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 05:49 AM PDT

Submitted via IRC for Bytram

Found: A sweet way to make everyday things almost indestructible

A new discovery from the University of Virginia School of Medicine reveals how sugars could be used to make almost indestructible cloth and other materials. Nature figured it out long ago, but the answer has been hidden away in bubbling baths of acid.

In certain acidic hot springs, even volcanic hot springs, live ancient single-celled organisms that can exist in conditions far too extreme for most forms of life. They have tiny appendages called pili that are so tough that they resisted UVA scientists' numerous efforts to break them apart to learn their secrets. "We were unable to take these things apart in boiling detergent. They just remained absolutely intact," said researcher Edward H. Egelman, PhD, of UVA's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. "So we then tried much harsher treatments, including boiling them in lye, which is sodium hydroxide. Nope."

The researchers tried several other approaches before throwing up their hands and turning to cryo-electron microscopy, which allows them to image submicroscopic things almost down to individual atoms. What they found was shocking. "There's just a huge amount of sugar covering the entire surface of these filaments in a way that has never been seen before," Egelman said. "These bugs have devised a way to just use massive amounts of sugar to cover these filaments and make them resistant to the incredible extremes of the environment in which they live."

[...] People can take a lesson from nature's design to manufacture products that are similarly sturdy, Egelman said. Take a protein such as wool, say, and coat it in a special arrangement of sugars and you could make amazingly durable clothing, carpet or even building materials. "Proteins are pretty sturdy and resilient, but with this type of covering of sugar, they would be much more stable, even more resilient," Egelman said. "They could have lots of uses."

An extensively glycosylated archaeal pilus survives extreme conditions (DOI: 10.1038/s41564-019-0458-x) (DX)

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Genealogy Sites Have Helped Identify Suspects. Now They’ve Helped Convict One

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 03:39 AM PDT

Genetic genealogy — in which DNA samples are used to find relatives of suspects, and eventually the suspects themselves — has redefined the cutting edge of forensic science, solving the type of cases that haunt detectives most: the killing of a schoolteacher 27 years ago, an assault on a 71-year-old church organ player, the rape and murder of dozens of California residents by a man who became known as the Golden State Killer.

But until a trial this month in the 1987 murder of a young Canadian couple, it had never been tested in court. Whether genetic genealogy would hold up was one of the few remaining questions for police departments and prosecutors still weighing its use, even as others have rushed to apply it. On Friday, the jury returned a guilty verdict.

"There is no stopping genetic genealogy now," said CeCe Moore, a genetic genealogist whose work led to the arrest in the murder case. "I think it will become a regular, accepted part of law enforcement investigations."

Detective James H. Scharf of the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office in Washington State took all of six minutes on the stand to describe how a semen sample collected from one of the victim's clothing led to two second cousins of the suspect, and then to the name of the man on trial, William Talbott II.

The defense could have challenged the use of genetic genealogy on privacy grounds, or as a violation of people's right to control their personal data. Instead, defense lawyers did not pose a single question about the technique. After more than two days of deliberation, the jury convicted Mr. Talbott on two counts of murder.

Mr. Talbott's lawyers said they viewed genetic genealogy as just another way of generating investigative leads. "Police have always used a variety of things to develop tips," said Rachel Forde, a public defender, in an interview. The brother of one of the victims had even consulted a psychic at one point, she said.

But if the case quelled some investigators' concerns, it was not likely to put to rest a raging debate over the ethics of using the technique to solve crimes and how to balance privacy with the demands of law enforcement.

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Who Will Wake Up From a Coma? Electrical Jolts in the Brain Offer Hints

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 01:59 AM PDT

Who will wake up from a coma? Electrical jolts in the brain offer hints

Researchers may have found a way to detect inklings of consciousness in comatose and vegetative patients just days after they experience a brain injury—and it appears the method may help predict which patients will rouse and recover in the months afterward.

A team of researchers in New York recorded electrical activity in the brains of unresponsive patients while giving them simple spoken commands, such as "keep opening and closing your right hand" or "wiggle your toes." Of 104 unresponsive patients tested, 16 (15%) showed some activity. Of those 16 patients, eight of them (50%) went on to be able to follow spoken commands by the time they left the hospital. A year later, seven of them (44%) were able to function independently for at least eight hours at a time.

In contrast, only 14% of those who showed no electrical activity early on reached that level of recovery after a year. The results were published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

[...] The researchers used a common, relatively easy-to-use test to assess brain activity: an electroencephalogram. Also known as an EEG, it picks up electrical pulses using electrodes attached to the scalp (in this case, a standard assembly of 21 electrodes was used). EEGs are often used to diagnose epilepsy, assess brain activity after a stroke, or during sleep disorders.

The researchers conducted the tests in 25-minute spoken-command sessions, testing the 104 unresponsive patients along with 10 healthy people as a control group. Of the unresponsive patients, 16 showed electrical activity while 88 did not. Over the following year, six with EEG activity and 50 without it died, some because they were taken off of life support (four and 24, respectively).

But seven of the original 16 with EEG activity rallied and reached a recovery level scored as a 4 or higher on the Extended Glasgow Outcome Scale. This is a clinical scale that ranks outcomes of brain injuries from 1 (dead) to 8 ("upper good"), which is generally a resumption of normal life. A score of 4 is considered "upper severe disability." Patients with this score are dependent for daily support but can be left at home alone for eight or more hours. While 44% (seven patients) with EEG activity after injury made it to a 4 or higher in a year, only 14% (12 of the 88 patients) without EEG had a 4 or higher. The study was not large enough to link such outcomes to any causes of brain injuries.

Detection of Brain Activation in Unresponsive Patients with Acute Brain Injury (DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1812757)

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Theranos Founder Elizabeth Holmes to Face Trial Next Year on Fraud Charges

Posted: 01 Jul 2019 12:38 AM PDT

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Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes will go on trial next summer

Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of blood-testing startup Theranos, will officially go to trial in San Jose next year, according to the US District Judge Edward J. Davila of the Northern District of California.

[...] According to TechCrunch, the trial will begin in August 2020, with jury selection beginning on July 28th, 2020. The Wall Street Journal also reports that prosecutors have collected millions of pages of documents, and that the defense has complained about the amount that is being presented, and that the WSJ's initial reporting might have unduly influenced the way the government regulators approached the company.

Previously: Blood Unicorn Fairy Tale: Theranos Founder Charged With Fraud
Elizabeth Holmes Steps Down as Theranos CEO as DoJ Levels Charges
Theranos to Dissolve in a Pool of Blood

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2019: DRAM Cheaper... For Now

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 10:55 PM PDT

RAM has never been cheaper, but are the historic prices here to stay?

RAM prices are at historic lows. But it hasn't always been that way. If you upgraded your PC's memory in 2018, you might be kicking yourself right now. This writer certainly is. I upgraded from an old, faithful 16GB of 1,600MHz DDR3 to a 16GB kit of Corsair Vengeance RGB 3,000MHz DDR4. It cost me the equivalent of $200 at the time. That same kit today is just $75. What the hell happened? As of mid-2019, prices have finally gotten under control and are currently at an all-time low, making this a great time to upgrade. But is it here to stay?

[...] Ben Miles, managing director of award-winning British system builder Chillblast, explained that "more and more memory foundries [are focusing] on flash type memory to feed the insatiable smart device and mobile phone industries. Turning a DRAM factory into a flash factory or vice versa takes many weeks, so when companies have chosen their path, its[sic] non-trivial to turn it back. When demand outstrips supply, module vendors are forced to stockpile DRAM chips and offer more money to secure stock, driving up prices."

All of this led to a huge increase in RAM prices between 2016 and 2018. Gamers Nexus put together an in-depth report on this at the start of 2018 and showed the near 200 percent increases in price for some modules, both DDR3 and DDR4. Looking at PCPartPicker's historic trend graphs, we can see that early-2018 was the peak for RAM pricing, but that many speeds and kits took many months to even approach a noticeable fall in price throughout the year, only really falling hard in 2019.

[...] "We don't see the current low price of memory being the new normal," Ben Miles of Chillblast said. "As profits fall in DRAM due to abundance, factories switch focus back to flash, so we can expect peak demand in Q4 to see rising prices once again." [Corsair's public relations manager Justin Ocbina] was a little more hesitant to forecast price rises, but he did suggest that other industries were beginning to pick up the slack for the slowing smartphone market. That could lead to rising prices at some point in the near future.

There's also DDR5 to consider. We've heard a lot about the potential capabilities of this next-generation memory for years, and that's something that Corsair will be switching its attention to in the years to come. Ocbina said that from the get-go, it is expected to dethrone DDR4 from its premium, performance spot. That gap will only widen as more kits are launched following the new standard's debut.

"Historic" low prices (that are about the same per GB as in 2012 or 2015)? Nothing DDR5 and a flood, power outage, or nitrogen leak can't fix.

See also: Micron's DRAM Update: More Capacity, Four More 10nm-Class Nodes, EUV, 64 GB DIMMs

Previously: Expect 20-30% Cheaper NAND in Late 2018
Weak Demand for DRAM Could Lead to Price Decreases in 2019
DRAM Prices Will Continue to Decline in Q1/Q2 2019
Huawei Blacklisting Predicted to Cause DRAM Prices to Drop 15%

Related: Manufacturing Memory Means Scribing Silicon in a Sea of Sensors

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Motel 6 Pays $10 Million to Settle ICE Guest List Lawsuit

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 09:37 PM PDT

Motel 6 to Pay $10 Million for Sharing Guest Data With ICE

Motel 6 has agreed to pay $10 million to settle claims with former guests targeted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents for deportation because of their "Latino-sounding names."

The deal is an amended settlement to resolve a case filed on behalf of unidentified victims of ICE interrogation and deportation after Motel 6 shared its guest lists with federal agents. Some of the 1,400 branches of the discount hotel chain allowed ICE agents to bang on doors during early morning hours to question and detain guests.

A November deal to resolve the litigation was panned by an Arizona federal judge in January who questioned whether either side could plausibly identify any of the victims, some of whom may be undocumented immigrants. Among U.S. District Judge David Campbell's concerns was whether unnamed plaintiffs would be willing to identify themselves to collect damages as low as $50.

[...] The new settlement increases minimum compensation to $75 while increasing maximum damages to $200,000 from $100,000 for those victims enduring deportation proceedings. Should the parties fail to identify the John and Jane Does represented in the case, unclaimed damages will be awarded to one of four non-profit organizations which offer legal aid to Latino residents in the U.S.

Minimum compensation ought to be at least $200 (see previous story).

Also at Reuters.

Previously: Two Motel 6 Locations in Phoenix, AZ Reported Guests to U.S. ICE [Updated]

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Invasive Exsanguinating Tick Spreading

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 08:00 PM PDT

The Asian Longhorn tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis), native to eastern China and Russia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and a few Pacific islands is continuing its spread through the Eastern and mid United States.

In those countries, it harbors an array of bacterial and viral diseases that infect humans, including a potentially deadly hemorrhagic fever. It's even more feared for the way it attacks livestock. This tick reproduces asexually, laying thousands of eggs at a time and producing waves of offspring that extract so much blood that grown cattle grow weak and calves die.

According to the CDC the tick has now been found in 11 states. It is cold tolerant and feeds on wildlife with long ranges such as deer, increasing the speed of its spread.

It's a truism among tick researchers that their work is underfunded compared with other insect vectors. After all, the US public health system was founded on fighting mosquitoes

To this day, the CDC maintains national maps of the ranges of different mosquito species. States, counties, and cities operate more than 700 mosquito-abatement districts, and the American Mosquito Control Association estimates those agencies collectively spend $200 million a year on catching, analyzing, and killing the bugs. Ticks don't get anywhere near that kind of coordinated attention or money.

Four years ago, the Entomological Society of America (ESA) recommended development of an Integrated Tick Management (ITM) program across the country.

Ben Beard, a medical entomologist who is deputy director of the CDC's division of vector-borne diseases ("vector" is shorthand for "insects that transmit diseases when they bite"), says [the lack of funding] is beginning to change. "We have funded state health departments to begin efforts for tick surveillance," he says.

This is a start, but the CDC's data, even in its current limited state, shows that the ticks are leaving us behind and we need to catch up.

Previous Coverage
US Invaded by Savage Tick that Sucks Animals Dry, Spawns Without Mating

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Donald Trump Has Become the First Sitting U.S. President to Set Foot in North Korea

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 06:25 PM PDT

US-North Korea: Trump and Kim agree to restart talks in historic meeting

Donald Trump has become the first sitting US president to set foot in North Korea, after meeting Kim Jong-un in the area dividing the two Koreas. Mr Trump and the North Korean leader posed for handshakes before talking for nearly an hour in the heavily fortified demilitarised zone (DMZ). Both countries agreed to set up teams to resume stalled nuclear talks. Their last summit broke down in February with no progress on denuclearisation in North Korea.

[...] In a meeting apparently arranged after Mr Trump invited Mr Kim on Twitter on Saturday, they shook hands across the demarcation line between the Koreas before Mr Trump briefly crossed into North Korea, a symbolic milestone.

"Good to see you again. I never expected to meet you at this place," a smiley Mr Kim told Mr Trump through an interpreter in an encounter broadcast live on international television. "Big moment," Mr Trump said, "tremendous progress." Looking relaxed, Mr Kim crossed into South Korea and alongside Mr Trump said: "I believe this is an expression of his willingness to eliminate all the unfortunate past and open a new future."

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Optical Media Consolidation: Verbatim Sold to CMC Magnetics

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 04:02 PM PDT

Mitsubishi's Verbatim, Known for CD, DVD and BD Optical Media, Sold to CMC

This month Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. decided to sell its legendary Verbatim business unit to CMC Magnetics. Verbatim is primarily known for its recordable optical media, but the company also sells USB flash drives, DAS devices, accessories, and so on.

Under the terms of the agreement, CMC will pay Mitsubishi Chemical $32 million in cash for Verbatim-related assets, including patents, technologies, sales network, and other. Being one of the pioneers of blank floppy disk and optical media, Verbatim owns a large portfolio of IP for discs, including production methods, various coatings, and other technologies. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Chemical has used the brand to market USB flash drives, SSDs, DAS devices, power banks, various accessories, and even 3D printing filaments. It is unclear whether CMC is also set to get these businesses and whether it intends to keep them running.

CMC has manufactured Verbatim-branded optical media for a while now using Verbatim's technologies, so change of ownership is not expected to result in change of quality. Meanwhile, since the whole Verbatim supply chain will now belong to CMC, it is possible to expect the media to get slightly cheaper. Furthermore, with IP from Verbatim, CMC will be able to improve its own-brand products without paying for a license.

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Trump Administration Will Loosen Restrictions Against Huawei

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 01:42 PM PDT

Trump reversed course on Huawei. What happens now?

Six weeks after Huawei was blacklisted by the US government, President Donald Trump had what the Chinese telecom firm described as a "U-turn." Trump said Saturday that "US companies can sell their equipment to Huawei," allowing the transactions won't present a "great, national emergency problem."

Trump's comments at the G20 in Japan came after a widely anticipated meeting with Chinese President Xi Jingping. The two sides met to discuss the impasse in the trade dispute, and Huawei, one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world, has become a flash point in the battle.

In May, the US Commerce Department banned sales of American-made goods to Huawei without first obtaining a license. US officials have accused the company of working to undermine US national security and foreign policy interests. Trump said Huawei was still part of the ongoing trade discussions between Washington and Beijing, but for now, he would move to resume allowing US companies to sell parts to the Chinese firm.

Also at Android Authority and Business Insider:

President Trump has said US firms can continue selling to Huawei, apparently contradicting a Commerce Department trade blacklist on the Chinese tech firm.

See also: A China-U.S. Trade Truce Could Enshrine a Global Economic Shift

Previously: New Law Bans U.S. Government from Buying Equipment from Chinese Telecom Giants ZTE and Huawei
Huawei Working on its Own OS to Prepare for "Worst-Case Scenario" of Being Deprived of Android
Google Pulls Huawei's Android License
The Huawei Disaster Reveals Google's Iron Grip On Android
Huawei Calls on U.S. to Adjust its Approach to Tackle Cybersecurity Effectively
Google Doesn't Want Huawei Ban Because It Would Result in an Android Competitor
Huawei Soldiers on, Announces Nova 5 and Kirin 810

Related: U.S. Reaches Deal to Keep China's ZTE in Business: Congressional Aide
US Hits China's ZTE with $1 Billion Penalty

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How a Library Handles a Rare and Deadly Book of Wallpaper Samples

Posted: 30 Jun 2019 11:18 AM PDT

How a Library Handles a Rare and Deadly Book of Wallpaper Samples

Shadows from the Walls of Death, printed in 1874 and measuring about 22 by 30 inches, is a noteworthy book for two reasons: its rarity, and the fact that, if you touch it, it might kill you. It contains just under a hundred wallpaper samples, each of which is saturated with potentially dangerous levels of arsenic.

The book is the work of Dr. Robert M. Kedzie, a Union surgeon during the American Civil War and later professor of chemistry at Michigan State Agricultural college (now MSU). When he came to serve on the state’s Board of Health in the 1870s, he set out to raise awareness about the dangers of arsenic-pigmented wallpaper. Though a lethal toxin, arsenic can be mixed with copper and made into beautiful paints and pigments, most commonly Scheele’s Green or Paris Green. This was no fringe phenomenon: near the end of the 19th century, the American Medical Association estimated that as much as 65 percent of all wallpaper in the United States contained arsenic.

[...] Of the original 100 copies, only four remain. Most libraries, concerned about poisoning their patrons, destroyed their volumes. Two of the surviving books remain in Michigan—one at MSU and the other at the University of Michigan. MSU’s copy rests on an unassuming shelf in the library’s Special Collections division, housed in an appropriately green box. Each page is individually encapsulated in plastic so that researchers and the curious can handle it without fear.

[...] The other two copies of Shadows have made their way to the Harvard University Medical School and the National Library of Medicine, which has digitized the entire volume and made it freely available online. That was no simple task: Dr. Stephen Greenberg, head of the rare books and early manuscripts section of the NLM’s History of Medicine division, says workers had to suit up in protective gear before handling the book.

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