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I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Black hole quasar tsunamis moving at 46 million miles per hour

TheRegister - Sat, 2020-03-21 08:30
When science reality is more interesting than science fiction

Astronomers have discovered the universe’s most powerful winds: driven by supermassive black holes, they ripple across interstellar space bulldozing through material in galaxies, and are known as quasar tsunamis, we're told.…

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Scientists Create Quantum Sensor That Covers Entire Radio Frequency Spectrum

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-03-21 07:00
A quantum sensor could give Soldiers a way to detect communication signals over the entire radio frequency spectrum, from 0 to 100 GHz, said researchers from the Army. Such wide spectral coverage by a single antenna is impossible with a traditional receiver system, and would require multiple systems of individual antennas, amplifiers and other components. Phys.Org reports: In 2018, Army scientists were the first in the world to create a quantum receiver that uses highly excited, super-sensitive atoms -- known as Rydberg atoms -- to detect communications signals, said David Meyer, a scientist at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratory. The researchers calculated the receiver's channel capacity, or rate of data transmission, based on fundamental principles, and then achieved that performance experimentally in their lab -- improving on other groups' results by orders of magnitude, Meyer said. "These new sensors can be very small and virtually undetectable, giving Soldiers a disruptive advantage," Meyer said. "Rydberg-atom based sensors have only recently been considered for general electric field sensing applications, including as a communications receiver. While Rydberg atoms are known to be broadly sensitive, a quantitative description of the sensitivity over the entire operational range has never been done." To assess potential applications, Army scientists conducted an analysis of the Rydberg sensor's sensitivity to oscillating electric fields over an enormous range of frequencies -- from 0 to 1012 Hertz. The results show that the Rydberg sensor can reliably detect signals over the entire spectrum and compare favorably with other established electric field sensor technologies, such as electro-optic crystals and dipole antenna-coupled passive electronics. The findings have been published in the Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics.

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Greenland's Melting Ice Raised Global Sea Level By 2.2mm In Two Months

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-03-21 03:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Last year's summer was so warm that it helped trigger the loss of 600 billion tons of ice from Greenland -- enough to raise global sea levels by 2.2mm in just two months, new research has found. Unlike the retreat of sea ice, the loss of land-based glaciers directly causes the seas to rise, imperiling coastal cities and towns around the world. Scientists have calculated that Greenland's enormous ice sheet lost an average of 268 billion tons of ice between 2002 and 2019 -- less than half of what was shed last summer. By contrast, Los Angeles county, which has more than 10 million residents, consumes 1 billion tons of water a year. "We knew this past summer had been particularly warm in Greenland, melting every corner of the ice sheet, but the numbers are enormous," said Isabella Velicogna, a professor of Earth system science at University of California Irvine and lead author of the new study, which drew upon measurements taken by Nasa's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace) satellite mission and its upgraded successor, Grace Follow-On. "In Antarctica, the mass loss in the west proceeds unabated, which is very bad news for sea level rise," Velicogna said. "But we also observe a mass gain in the Atlantic sector of east Antarctica caused by an increase in snowfall, which helps mitigate the enormous increase in mass loss that we've seen in the last two decades in other parts of the continent."

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A Slashdotter's Take On a Way To Use Smartphones To Defeat the Coronavirus Pandemic

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-03-21 02:10
Longtime Slashdot reader dbart writes: With the near ubiquitous use of smartphones in America, it's sensible to seize upon this resource to help with the coronavirus pandemic. Here's my take on a way to use smartphones to deal with the pandemic: America does not currently have a good coronavirus test -- but they are in development. Once a test is available there should be a smartphone app ready to deploy immediately. The app should work like this: A person would be tested for the virus at a testing station and the results of the test would be entered into the app's database. The person could then go about their business, such as going back to work. Upon arriving at the place of work, the person would bring up the app on their smartphone. The app would display some information to identify the subject that was tested along with a barcode. The employer would then scan in the barcode with the app on the employer's phone which will check with the central database and report back the results of their coronavirus test and the recency of the test. The employer would decide whether to allow the person into the workplace. This could similarly be used to safely allow entry to a restaurant, airplane, theater, sporting event, etc. -- thus getting the economy functioning again. I've only presented a rough sketch of my idea about this above and there's many nuances to how this should work. It's obvious that everyone should be tested frequently for this to be effective. This would require testing on a massive scale, but considering the damage happening to the American economy, such massive testing could easily be justified. A capability as described above would get the American economy restarted at the soonest possible time and would allow society to function until a vaccine is available. It would also be a very valuable asset to epidemiological investigators. If an app was designed with enough forethought it could be deployed internationally. I'm hoping to get not just a Slashdot conversation but a larger conversation started about the use of technology to defeat this virus. Perhaps there's a Slashdotter with the skillsets to make this happen who would like to take this on. If anyone has a contact at the CDC please forward this post to them to insure that technological solutions such as this are being considered.

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Microsoft Teases Revamped UI For Windows 10

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-03-21 01:30
In celebration of Windows 10 hitting 1 billion users, Microsoft's chief product officer Panos Panay teased Windows 10's next UI refresh. Gizmodo reports: In the video posted to Instagram, Microsoft starts by showing the evolution of its OS throughout the years going as far back as Windows 1.01 all the way to Windows 10. However, where things start to get interesting is around 12 seconds in when Microsoft shows off a new set of updated icons followed by a redesigned look for Windows 10's Start Menu and Live Tiles. Instead of a bunch of brightly color rectangles, Microsoft is implementing a more unified color scheme that can adjust automatically to match your desktop background and potentially other UI elements. Additionally, Microsoft also showed off a wide variety of accessibility options including a range of pointers in various sizes and colors, what looks like improved support for the Xbox Adaptive Controller, a tease for a new built-in snipping tool, and more. Then Microsoft capped everything off by showing light and dark themes for Windows 10 along with a bunch of windows resizing and snapping options, all designed to making multi-tasking just a bit faster and easier. Microsoft also made a point to mention support for both x86-based systems powered by chips from Intel and AMD and ARM-based systems like the Surface Pro X.

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FYI: You can trick image-recog AI into, say, detecting cats as dogs – by abusing scaling code to poison training data

TheRegister - Sat, 2020-03-21 01:23
You may want to check what you're actually teaching your neural networks in future

Boffins in Germany have devised a technique to subvert neural network frameworks so they misidentify images without any telltale signs of tampering.…

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Risky Hack Could Double Access To Ventilators As Coronavirus Peaks

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-03-21 00:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: An emergency medicine physician says she and a colleague invented a way to connect four patients to a single ventilator, a hack that could significantly increase the capacity of overburdened hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. Doctors Greg Neyman and Charelene Irvin Babcock published a pilot study of the technique in Academic Emergency Medicine in 2006. Babock is now an emergency medicine physician at a hospital in Detroit, Michigan and posted a YouTube video on March 14 describing the technique. The technique is remarkably simple. "Four sets of standard ventilator tubing were connected to a single ventilator via two flow splitters," the study said. "Each flow splitter was constructed of three Briggs T-Tubes which included connection adapters with the valves removed." In Babock's video, she said the adapters were 22mm in size. Basically, any kind of T-shaped tube can be adapted to extend the ventilator to more than one patient. Babock's video has gone viral, and she told Motherboard in a phone interview that she put together the four way adapter set in her YouTube video in 15 minutes using supplies her hospital already had. In an interview with Motherboard, Babcock said that actually using it on coronavirus patients is a tough call, but a potentially life-saving one in a last-resort situation. "It's only been done in test lungs," she said over the phone. "But it's probably better than nothing in dire circumstances. We don't know how bad it's gonna get. [Italy] is so overwhelmed with people that will die without ventilators and they don't have enough ventilators. Sometimes trying something almost MacGyverish is better than doing nothing."

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Using Apple CarPlay Impairs Driver Reaction More Than Alcohol, Study Shows

Slashdot - Sat, 2020-03-21 00:10
U.K. based road safety charity IAM RoadSmart has released a study showing how in-vehicle infotainment systems can substantially impair driver's reaction times even more than alcohol and cannabis. AppleInsider reports: The test involved two experimental trials focusing on Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Twenty Android and twenty Apple users would be subjected to the same simulated test route. Each driver drove three times: A control drive, where they did not interact with the system, a voice-enabled drive where they used the voice system only, and a touch-enabled drive, where they used the touch screen of the system only. As part of the test, users would be required to follow another car, navigate an erratic motorway, and perform a figure-eight loop. During these tests, users would be told to perform a task, such as accessing music on Spotify, input data into a navigation app, or read texts and take phone calls. Additionally, participants would be asked to flash their headlights whenever a red bar appeared on the screen, which measured their reaction time to external events. Regardless of the infotainment system, all users showed significantly slowed reaction time. Undistracted drivers typically showed a one-second reaction time. Those who used the voice-controlled Apple CarPlay saw a 36% increase in their reaction time, which rose to 57% when they used the touch interface. Android Auto users faired only slightly better -- a 30% increase in reaction time when using voice control, and 53% when using touch controls. For comparison, those who drive under the influence at the drink-drive limit showed a 12% increase in reaction time, and those who used cannabis saw a 21% increase. Those who used Android Auto saw a 1.73-foot (0.53-meter) deviation on their lane positioning when performing navigation tasks with Android Auto. Those who used Apple CarPlay saw a deviation of 1.64 feet (0.50 meters.)

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The Nokia 8.3 Is the First Truly Global 5G Phone

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-03-20 23:50
HMD Global today unveiled its latest Nokia-branded mobile phones. "The Nokia 8.3 5G is the world's first global 5G phone, which means it supports bands in every country in which 5G is currently deployed," reports Android Police. "At the same time, the Nokia 5.3, 1.3, and a new roaming data plan from HMD also made their debut." From the report: Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G mobile platform, the Nokia 8.3 5G promised a future-proofed experience as it supports more 5G bands across the entire range (NSA/SA/DSS) than any handset currently on the market. It features a 6.8-inch FHD+ (2400x1080p) display with a hole-punch cutout for the 24MP selfie camera, but it's a shame to see the Nokia logo plastered on the chin. On the rear, there are four cameras including a 64MP main sensor with Zeiss optics complemented by a 12MP ultra-wide lens, plus 2MP depth and macro sensors. The fingerprint scanner lies within the power button on the side, while a USB-C port, 3.5mm headphone jack, and dedicated Google Assistant button are all onboard. Battery capacity is rated at 4,500mAh, and NFC is also included for mobile payments. The Nokia 8.3 5G starts at just 599 euros ($640) for the 6/64GB model, with an 8/128GB variant also available for 649 euros ($649) -- it'll go on sale in the summer. [The U.S. launch hasn't been announced yet, but the 8.3 is coming to Europe in summer 2020.]

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Ex-Uber Engineer Pleads Guilty To Stealing Trade Secrets From Google

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-03-20 23:30
Anthony Levandowski, former Google engineer and a pioneer of self-driving car tech, agreed to plead guilty Thursday to stealing trade secrets from the internet giant. CNET reports: Levandowski left Google in 2016 to start his own self-driving truck company, which was quickly acquired by Uber for $680 million. These actions set off a chain of events that led to Google's autonomous vehicle unit, Waymo, suing Uber over alleged theft of self-driving car trade secrets. That lawsuit settled in February 2018 with Uber agreeing to pay Waymo $245 million. The prosecutors indicted Levandowski in August in a suit that involves 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets from Google. The activities allegedly took place as he prepared to leave the search giant to build out Uber's self-driving car operation. Levandowski pleaded guilty to one count of trade secret theft in an agreement in which federal prosecutors agree to drop the remaining charges, according to a filing with the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California. The plea carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. "I downloaded these files with the intent to use them for my own personal benefit, and I understand that I was not authorized to take the files for this purpose," Levandowski said in the filing. No sentencing date has yet been scheduled.

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iFixit Is Building a Repair Database For Medical Equipment, and It Needs Your Help

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-03-20 22:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Repair specialist iFixit is building a database filled with repair information for the world's hospital equipment in anticipation of the increased demand caused by COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. In particular, it's calling for repair manuals for ventilators and BiPAP machines that can be used as ventilators. iFixit's database can be found here, and the company is calling for people to create new device pages and upload photographs and manuals. There are currently few sources for repair manuals online. iFixit notes that resources like Frank's Hospital Workshop exist, but these are relatively small operations. Some manufacturers provide easy access to repair manuals on their websites, but others make them harder to find. There are a few different parts to iFixit's campaign beyond assembling a collection of manuals. Once it's got a manual, the company wants to format its information to make it as easy to understand as possible. It plans to break the manuals down into guides for individual repairs, to reformat them to make them more SEO-friendly, and to translate them into other languages. iFixit also wants to put together preventive maintenance guides so technicians can work to keep their equipment in good working order before it reaches the point of breaking down. iFixit is also asking people in the medical community "to provide information about which ventilators are currently in use as well as which parts are most likely to break," the report adds. If you have any manuals to contribute, you can upload them to iFixit directly or email the company.

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Hackers Breach FSB Contractor and Leak Details About IoT Hacking Project

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-03-20 22:10
Russian hacker group Digital Revolution claims to have breached a contractor for the FSB -- Russia's national intelligence service -- and discovered details about a project intended for hacking Internet of Things (IoT) devices. From a report: The group published this week 12 technical documents, diagrams, and code fragments for a project called "Fronton." ZDNet has not seen the documents first hand since they are still password-protected; however, the hackers provided the files to BBC Russia earlier this week. According to screenshots shared by the hacker group, which ZDNet asked security researchers to analyze, and based on BBC Russia's report from earlier this week, we believe the Fronton project describes the basics of building an IoT botnet. The technical Fronton documents were put together following a procurement order placed by one of the FSB's internal departments, unit No. 64829, which is also known as the FSB Information Security Center.

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Bored during lockdown? Why not try out these data-spilling KrØØk Wi-Fi bug exploits against your nearby devices

TheRegister - Fri, 2020-03-20 21:47
It's not like you can snoop on anyone right now anyway, right?

Proof-of-concept exploit code has emerged for last month's data-leaking KrØØk vulnerability present in a billion-plus Wi-Fi-connected devices and computers.…

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What We Know So Far About SARS-CoV-2

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-03-20 21:30
We've known about SARS-CoV-2 for only three months, but scientists can make some educated guesses about where it came from and why it's behaving in such an extreme way. From a report: The structure of the virus provides some clues about its success. In shape, it's essentially a spiky ball. Those spikes recognize and stick to a protein called ACE2, which is found on the surface of our cells: This is the first step to an infection. The exact contours of SARS-CoV-2's spikes allow it to stick far more strongly to ACE2 than SARS-classic did, and "it's likely that this is really crucial for person-to-person transmission," says Angela Rasmussen of Columbia University. In general terms, the tighter the bond, the less virus required to start an infection. There's another important feature. Coronavirus spikes consist of two connected halves, and the spike activates when those halves are separated; only then can the virus enter a host cell. In SARS-classic, this separation happens with some difficulty. But in SARS-CoV-2, the bridge that connects the two halves can be easily cut by an enzyme called furin, which is made by human cells and -- crucially -- is found across many tissues. "This is probably important for some of the really unusual things we see in this virus," says Kristian Andersen of Scripps Research Translational Institute. Further reading: How the Coronavirus Could Take Over Your Body (Before You Ever Feel It)

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At Long Last, NASA's Probe Finally Digs in On Mars

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-03-20 20:50
NASA unsticks its Martian digging probe by whacking it with a shovel. From a report: Every day, the InSight lander's suite of instruments sends back data proving that the Red Planet isn't really dead. Marsquakes rumble the seismometer. Swirling vortices register on onboard pressure sensor. And temperature sensors help track the weather and changing of the seasons. Despite the lander's successes, however, one gauge has met with resistance from the Martian environment while trying to carry out its mission. Something has stopped InSight's 15-inch digging probe, dubbed "the mole" for its burrowing prowess. Instead of diving deep into the Martian sand where it could take the planet's temperature, it's been stuck half-buried. An intercontinental team of MacGyvers has spent a year devising successively daring plans to get the mole digging again, but still it flounders on the surface. Now their final gambit -- directly pushing the mole into the soil -- has shown tentative signs of success, NASA announced Friday on Twitter. The goal of the mole, which is the measurement probe of InSight's Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (or HP3), is to track the temperature variations of Mars itself. This heat comes from Mars's core, which, like Earth's core, remains warm from the planet's birth. By measuring it, researchers hope to learn about Mars's formation -- but from the rod-shaped mole's current position they can get readings only of the surface temperature. Mission planners hope to ideally reach 15 feet underground to escape the warming and cooling from the Martian seasons that would interfere with reading the planet's true temperature. A rock could be in the way, but the more likely culprit appears to be the Martian soil. Previous observations had led the German Aerospace Center engineers who designed the probe to expect that it would be digging through loose sand. They built the mole to bounce up and down like a jackhammer, sinking with each stroke and threading its way around any modestly sized rocks it encountered. But the probe has found soil that seems more dirt-like than sand-like; It sticks together and doesn't collapse around the mole to give it enough friction to dig. What the mole needs is a little nudge.

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Amazon Prime Video To Slow Streaming To Fight Broadband Overload

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-03-20 20:10
Amazon's Prime Video, the world's second-largest streaming service, is set to join YouTube and Netflix in reducing the speed of its streams across Europe to make sure broadband networks can handle the surge in usage as millions are confined to their homes. From a report: It is understood that the BBC is discussing whether to implement similar temporary measures for the iPlayer, which has the largest UK audience of any streaming service, along with Disney+, which launches across most of western Europe and the UK next week. An Amazon Prime Video spokesman said: "We support the need for careful management of telecom services to ensure they can handle the increased internet demand, with so many people now at home full-time due to Covid-19. Prime Video is working with local authorities and internet service providers where needed to help mitigate any network congestion, including in Europe, where we've already begun the effort to reduce streaming bitrates while maintaining a quality streaming experience for our customers."

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Forget toilet roll, bandwidth is the new ration: Amazon, YouTube also degrade video in Europe to keep 'net running amid coronavirus crunch

TheRegister - Fri, 2020-03-20 19:57
Pair join Netflix to turn it down for what? Connectivity stability

Amazon Prime Video and Google's YouTube have joined Netflix in dialing down their video stream quality in the European Union, Switzerland, and the UK for 30 days to preserve internet stability during the COVID-19 pandemic.…

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CDC Launches Coronavirus Self-Checker Chatbot With the Help of Microsoft

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-03-20 19:30
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has collaborated with Microsoft to introduce the Coronavirus Self-Checker, a tool designed to better help you understand the disease which has caused over 10,000 confirmed cases in the United States and claimed at least 187 lives. From a report: The chatbot is another step Microsoft has taken to educate the public about the viral outbreak, after developing home-testing kits, a COVID-19 tracker tool, and a $100 million donation for global coronavirus research. At the very beginning of the chat, the bot asks if you are sick or if you have been in touch with someone who is sick. The conversation cuts short if you select no, noting that this "Coronavirus Self-Checker system is for those who may be sick." Although a considerable amount of data indicates that many COVID-19 carriers are asymptomatic or presymptomatic, the bot is specifically for individuals displaying visible symptoms of the virus.

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Online face mask sales scams, 400% uptick of coronavirus phishing reports: Brit cops' workload shifts online along with the nation's

TheRegister - Fri, 2020-03-20 19:02
Criminal scum use pandemic as golden business opportunity

British police are saying coronavirus-related fraud reports have spiked by 400 per cent over the past six weeks as the COVID-19 illness continues its inexorable march through humanity.…

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MIT Has Made the Decision To No Longer Consider the SAT Subject Tests

Slashdot - Fri, 2020-03-20 18:50
MIT's Stu Schmill, in a press release: I'm happy to announce our decision to discontinue the use of subject tests starting with the 2020-21 admissions cycle for first-year and transfer admissions (for students entering MIT in 2021 and beyond). We made this decision after considerable study, in consultation with our faculty policy committee. We believe this decision will improve access for students applying to MIT.

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