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Updated: 1 hour 27 min ago

Physicists Induce Motionless Quantum State In Largest Object Yet

1 hour 28 min ago
Scientists have managed to slow down the atoms almost to a complete stop in the largest macro-scale object yet. The research has been published in the journal Science. New Atlas reports: The temperature of a given object is directly tied to the motion of its atoms -- basically, the hotter something is, the more its atoms jiggle around. By extension, there's a point where the object is so cold that its atoms come to a complete standstill, a temperature known as absolute zero (-273.15 C, -459.67 F). Scientists have been able to chill atoms and groups of atoms to a fraction above absolute zero for decades now, inducing what's called the motional ground state. This is a great starting point to then create exotic states of matter, such as supersolids, or fluids that seem to have negative mass. Understandably, it's much harder to do with larger objects, because they're made up of more atoms which are all interacting with their surroundings. But now, a large international team of scientists has broken the record for largest object to be induced into a motional ground state (or extremely closely to one, anyway). Most of the time, these experiments are done with clouds of millions of atoms, but the new test was performed on a 10-kg (22-lb) object that contains almost an octillion atoms. Strangely enough, that "object" isn't just one thing itself but the combined motion of four different objects, with a mass of 40 kg (88 lb) each. The researchers conducted the experiment at LIGO, a huge facility famous for detecting gravitational waves as they wash over Earth. It does this by beaming lasers down two 4-km (2.5-mile) tunnels, and bouncing them back with mirrors -- and those mirrors were the objects that the new study cooled to a motional ground state. The photons of light in LIGO's lasers exert tiny bumps on the mirrors as they bounce off, and these disturbances can be measured in later photons. Since the beams are constant, the scientists have plenty of data about the motions of the atoms in the mirrors -- meaning they can then design the perfect counteracting forces. To do so, the researchers attached electromagnets to the back of each mirror, which reduced their collective motion almost to the motional ground state. The mirrors moved less than one-thousandth the width of a proton, essentially cooling down to a crisp 77 nanokelvins -- a hair above absolute zero. The team says that this breakthrough could enable new quantum experiments on the macro scale.

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Categories: Technology

Stress Turns Hair Gray, But It's Reversible, Study Says

4 hours 58 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Scientific American: Few harbingers of old age are clearer than the sight of gray hair. As we grow older, black, brown, blonde or red strands lose their youthful hue. Although this may seem like a permanent change, new research reveals that the graying process can be undone -- at least temporarily. In a study published today in eLife, a group of researchers provide the most robust evidence of this phenomenon to date in hair from around a dozen people of various ages, ethnicities and sexes. It also aligns patterns of graying and reversal to periods of stress, which implies that this aging-related process is closely associated with our psychological well-being. The researchers [...] developed a technique to digitize and quantify the subtle changes in color, which they dubbed hair pigmentation patterns, along each strand. These patterns revealed something surprising: In 10 of [the 14 participants], who were between age nine and 39, some graying hairs regained color. The team also found that this occurred not just on the head but in other bodily regions as well. "When we saw this in pubic hair, we thought, 'Okay, this is real,'" [Martin Picard, a mitochondrial psychobiologist at Columbia University] says. "This happens not just in one person or on the head but across the whole body." He adds that because the reversibility only appeared in some hair follicles, however, it is likely limited to specific periods when changes are still able to occur. Most people start noticing their first gray hairs in their 30s -- although some may find them in their late 20s. This period, when graying has just begun, is probably when the process is most reversible, according to [study co-author Ralf Paus, a dermatologist at the University of Miami]. In those with a full head of gray hair, most of the strands have presumably reached a "point of no return," but the possibility remains that some hair follicles may still be malleable to change, he says. In a small subset of participants, the researchers pinpointed segments in single hairs where color changes occurred in the pigmentation patterns. Then they calculated the times when the change happened using the known average growth rate of human hair: approximately one centimeter per month. These participants also provided a history of the most stressful events they had experienced over the course of a year. This analysis revealed that the times when graying or reversal occurred corresponded to periods of significant stress or relaxation. In one individual, a 35-year-old man with auburn hair, five strands of hair underwent graying reversal during the same time span, which coincided with a two-week vacation. Another subject, a 30-year-old woman with black hair, had one strand that contained a white segment that corresponded to two months during which she underwent marital separation and relocation -- her highest-stress period in the year.

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Categories: Technology

Shedding Light On the Mechanism of Magnetic Sensing In Birds

6 hours 18 min ago
For some time, a collaboration of biologists, chemists and physicists centered at the Universities of Oldenburg (Germany) and Oxford (UK) have been gathering evidence suggesting that the magnetic sense of migratory birds such as European robins is based on a specific light-sensitive protein in the eye. In the current edition of the journal Nature, this team demonstrate that the protein cryptochrome 4, found in birds' retinas, is sensitive to magnetic fields and could well be the long-sought magnetic sensor. Phys.Org reports: First author Jingjing Xu, a doctoral student in Henrik Mouritsen's research group in Oldenburg, took a decisive step toward this success. After extracting the genetic code for the potentially magnetically sensitive cryptochrome 4 in night-migratory European robins, she was able, for the first time, to produce this photoactive molecule in large quantities using bacterial cell cultures. Christiane Timmel's and Stuart Mackenzie's groups in Oxford then used a wide range of magnetic resonance and novel optical spectroscopy techniques to study the protein and demonstrate its pronounced sensitivity to magnetic fields. The team also deciphered the mechanism by which this sensitivity arises -- another important advance. "Electrons that can move within the molecule after blue-light activation play a crucial role," explains Mouritsen. Proteins like cryptochrome consist of chains of amino acids: robin cryptochrome 4 has 527 of them. Oxford's Peter Hore and Oldenburg physicist Ilia Solov'yov performed quantum mechanical calculations supporting the idea that four of the 527 -- known as tryptophans -- are essential for the magnetic properties of the molecule. According to their calculations, electrons hop from one tryptophan to the next generating so-called radical pairs which are magnetically sensitive. To prove this experimentally, the team from Oldenburg produced slightly modified versions of the robin cryptochrome, in which each of the tryptophans in turn was replaced by a different amino acid to block the movement of electrons. Using these modified proteins, the Oxford chemistry groups were able to demonstrate experimentally that electrons move within the cryptochrome as predicted in the calculations -- and that the generated radical pairs are essential to explain the observed magnetic field effects. Hore says "if we can prove that cryptochrome 4 is the magnetic sensor we will have demonstrated a fundamentally quantum mechanism that makes animals sensitive to environmental stimuli a million times weaker than previously thought possible."

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Categories: Technology

DeepMind Uses AI To Tackle Neglected Deadly Diseases

6 hours 58 min ago
Artificial intelligence is to be used to tackle the most deadly parasitic diseases in the developing world, tech company DeepMind has announced. The BBC reports: The London-based Alphabet-owned lab will work with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDI) to treat Chagas disease and Leishmaniasis. Scientists spend years in laboratories mapping protein structures. But last year, DeepMind's AlphaFold program was able to achieve the same accuracy in a matter of days. Many diseases are linked to the roles of proteins in: catalysing chemical reactions (enzymes); fighting disease (antibodies); and acting as chemical messengers (hormones such as insulin). And knowing the 3D structure of a protein is important in developing treatments for, among others, cancer, dementia and infectious diseases. Prof Dame Janet Thornton, of the European Bioinformatics Institute, told BBC News: "Most new drugs in recent years have been developed using protein-structural data as one part of the process. "There are, however, many other aspects which need to be taken into account, which, due to lack of data, may not be amenable to AI approaches." But the predictions would be "particularly valuable" for pathogens with unknown protein structures, including some neglected diseases. "Developing new AI approaches for designing such drugs is a new challenge but one to which the new AI techniques can be applied and this holds out great hope for the future," Dame Janet added.

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Warren Buffett Resigns From Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

7 hours 38 min ago
Warren Buffett, the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, announced his resignation as a trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Wednesday, according to a press release. Interesting Engineering reports: Bill and Melinda Gates announced that they were getting divorced in May of 2021. For many, it was an earth-shattering announcement, one that raises a host of questions about the future of their foundation and its quest to end disease worldwide. This latest announcement adds to the growing number of questions about what's in store for the many enterprises currently being managed by the Gates Foundation. The foundation supplies grants to researchers studying polio, nutrition, agriculture, global education, sanitation, HIV, malaria, tobacco control, vaccines, gender inequality...and we're just getting started. At the age of 90, Buffet has donated $41 billion worth of Berkshire stock to the five foundations. In today's announcement, he added that he has donated an extra $4.1 billion, but he didn't give a reason for his decision. "Today is a milestone for me," Buffett wrote in a statement. "In 2006, I pledged to distribute all of my Berkshire Hathaway shares -- more than 99% of my net worth -- to philanthropy. With today's $4.1 billion distribution, I'm halfway there." "For years I have been a trustee -- an inactive trustee at that -- of only one recipient of my funds, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMG). I am now resigning from that post, just as I have done at all corporate boards other than Berkshire's," Buffett said. "The CEO of BMG is Mark Suzman, an outstanding recent selection who has my full support. My goals are 100% in sync with those of the foundation, and my physical participation is in no way needed to achieve these goals."

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Peloton Treadmill Safety Update Requires $40 a Month Subscription

8 hours 18 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Peloton's Treadmills cost between $2,500 and $4,000. They've also injured 70 people and killed one child. Peloton issued a recall on the treadmills after an investigation by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Those who kept the Tread+ got a nasty shock in their inbox recently: After the treadmill downloaded an update Peloton said was designed to make the device safer, users reported they could no longer run on it without paying Peloton a $39.99 per month subscription fee. "We care deeply about the safety and well being of our Members and we created Tread Lock to secure your Tread+ against unauthorized access," Peloton said in an email it sent to customers. "Unfortunately at this time 'Just Runn' is no longer accessible without a Peloton Membership." It offered to waive the subscription fee for the first three months and apologized for the inconvenience. Peloton's subscription ecosystem provides users with live classes, crafted playlists, and customized tracks. For people who just want to run or bike, they can select the "Just Bike" or "Just Run" feature and use their devices like normal exercise equipment. Unless, of course, the user has updated the Tread+ to get the safety update. [...] The new Tread Lock update adds another layer of safety to the Tread+. "Tread Lock is a safety feature that automatically locks the Peloton Tread+ after you put your Tread+ to sleep or after 45 seconds of inactivity outside of a class," Peloton said on its website. For now, the cost of using that new feature is, apparently, about $40 a month, though Peloton claimed it would not always be so. "Unfortunately due to current technical limitations, Tread Lock is not yet available without a Peloton Membership," Peloton told Motherboard in an email. "We understand that this is an inconvenience for some and are working on updates to Tread Lock that will allow us to make Tread Lock and Just Run available without a Peloton Membership."

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AI Helps Restore Rembrandt's Night Watch Masterpiece

8 hours 58 min ago
For the first time in more than 300 years, Rembrandt's masterpiece The Night Watch can again be seen in its entirety in the Netherlands. The BBC reports: Created in 1642 by the Dutch master, the huge picture was trimmed on all four sides in 1715 to fit between two doors in Amsterdam town hall. The city's Rijksmuseum has now added the missing scenes from a small, early copy of the original. It used artificial intelligence (AI) to mimic Rembrandt's style. The Night Watch is considered Rembrandt's most ambitious work. It was commissioned by the mayor and leader of the civic guard of Amsterdam, Frans Banninck Cocq, who wanted a group portrait of his militia company. Prior to the restoration the painting was nearly 4m tall and 4.5m wide (12.5 x 15 ft) and weighed 337kg (743lb). As well as being famous for its size, the piece is acclaimed for its use of dramatic lighting and movement. In 1975, a man armed with a bread knife fought off a museum guard and slashed the painting, telling bystanders that he "did it for the Lord." The piece was also attacked with a knife in 1911 and sprayed with a chemical in 1990, but only minor damage occurred on both occasions that was relatively easy to repair.

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Supreme Court Sides With High School Cheerleader Who Cursed Online

Wed, 23/06/2021 - 23:50
schwit1 shares a report from CNN: The Supreme Court ruled in favor of a former high school cheerleader who argued that she could not be punished by her public school for posting a profanity-laced caption on Snapchat when she was off school grounds. The case involving a Pennsylvania teenager was closely watched to see how the court would handle the free speech rights of some 50 million public school children and the concerns of schools over off-campus and online speech that could amount to a disruption of the school's mission or rise to the level of bullying or threats. The 8-1 majority opinion was penned by Justice Stephen Breyer. "It might be tempting to dismiss (the student's) words as unworthy of the robust First Amendment protections discussed herein. But sometimes it is necessary to protect the superfluous in order to preserve the necessary," Breyer wrote. Breyer said that the court has made clear that students "do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression even 'at the school house gate.'" "But," he said, "we have also made clear that courts must apply the First Amendment in light of the special characteristics of the school environment." "The school itself has an interest in protecting a student's unpopular expression, especially when the expression takes place off campus. America's public schools are the nurseries of democracy," the opinion read. Breyer disagreed with the reasoning of a lower court opinion that held that a school could never regulate speech that takes place off campus, but at the same time he declined to set forth what he called "a broad, highly general First Amendment rules stating just what counts as 'off-campus speech." Instead, he allowed that while the cheerleader's post were "crude" they "did not amount to fighting words." He said that while she used "vulgarity" her speech was not "obscene." In addition, her post appeared "outside of school hours from a location outside of school" and they did not target any member of the school community with "abusive" language. He added that she used her own personal cellphone and her audience consisted of a private circle of Snapchat friends. Breyer said "these features of her speech" diminish the school's interest in punishing her. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented. He wrote that students like the former cheerleader "who are active in extracurricular programs have a greater potential, by virtue of their participation, to harm those programs." He added: "For example, a profanity-laced screed delivered on social media or at the mall has a much different effect on a football program when done by a regular student than when done by the captain of the football team. So, too, here."

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Categories: Technology

Amazon Wins Trial Over Technology To Order Groceries With Alexa

Wed, 23/06/2021 - 23:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Amazon won a Texas trial in which it was accused of incorporating an Israeli company's patented "smart kitchen" inventions for voice commands to shop for groceries online into the Alexa digital assistant. Amazon didn't infringe three patents owned by closely held Ikan Holdings LLC's Freshub unit, the federal jury in Waco, Texas, said Tuesday. Freshub said its inventions allow consumers to create shopping lists, establish a shopping cart and order from their local grocer by using voice commands or scanning bar codes of products with an internet-connected device. Amazon knew of Freshub and its patents when it incorporated the technology into its Alexa assistant and Echo smart speakers, and promoted it for use with its Whole Foods grocery chain, Freshub claimed. Amazon accused the company of manipulating patent applications to ensure they covered Alexa and Echo after the popular products had already entered the market. Amazon also warned jurors that a victory for Freshub would mean more lawsuits by the company against other tech firms like Apple and Google. Freshub argued consumers using the technology spent more money, so it was entitled to $3.50 per unit sold with the functionality, for a total of $246 million. Amazon argued that the patents were worth at most $1 million.

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Scholars on LinkedIn Are Being Blocked in China 'Without Telling Them Why'

Wed, 23/06/2021 - 22:30
Affected users say social-networking site owned by Microsoft is obstructing them over 'prohibited content' without further explanation. From a report: Eyck Freymann, an Oxford University doctoral student, was surprised to get a notice from LinkedIn this month telling him his account had been blocked in China. The "Experience" section of his profile, which detailed his career history, contained "prohibited" content, he was informed. The social-networking site owned by Microsoft didn't explain more, but Mr. Freymann said he thought it was because he had included the words "Tiananmen Square massacre" in the entry for his two-year stint as a research assistant for a book in 2015. "LinkedIn is pulling people's material off without telling them why," he said. "It was surprising because I am just a graduate student. I didn't think I would have mattered." The academic is one of a spate of LinkedIn users whose profiles have been blocked in recent weeks. The Wall Street Journal identified at least 10 other individuals who had their profiles blocked or posts removed from the China version of LinkedIn since May, including researchers in Jerusalem and Tokyo, journalists, a U.S. congressional staffer and an editor based in Beijing who posted state media reports about elephants rampaging across China. A LinkedIn spokeswoman said in a statement that while the company supports freedom of expression, offering a localized version of LinkedIn in China means adherence to censorship requirements of the Chinese government on internet platforms. The company didn't comment on whether its actions were proactive or in response to requests from Chinese authorities. LinkedIn made a trade-off to accept Chinese censorship when it entered China in 2014 and has typically censored human-rights activists and deleted content focused on posts deemed sensitive to the Chinese government. The recent dragnet stands out for having caught several academics in its path, resulting in the deletion of entire profiles instead of individual posts.

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Categories: Technology

Ubuntu-maker Canonical Will Support Open Source Blender on Windows, Mac, and Linux

Wed, 23/06/2021 - 21:50
An anonymous reader shares a report: Blender is one of the most important open source projects, as the 3D graphics application suite is used by countless people at home, for business, and in education. The software can be used on many platforms, such as Windows, Mac, and of course, Linux. Today, Ubuntu-maker Canonical announces it will offer paid enterprise support for Blender LTS. Surprisingly, this support will not only be for Ubuntu users. Heck, it isn't even limited to Linux installations. Actually, Canonical will offer this support to Blender LTS users on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

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Categories: Technology

Mathematicians Welcome Computer-Assisted Proof in 'Grand Unification' Theory

Wed, 23/06/2021 - 21:10
Proof-assistant software handles an abstract concept at the cutting edge of research, revealing a bigger role for software in mathematics. From a report: Mathematicians have long used computers to do numerical calculations or manipulate complex formulas. In some cases, they have proved major results by making computers do massive amounts of repetitive work -- the most famous being a proof in the 1970s that any map can be coloured with just four different colours, and without filling any two adjacent countries with the same colour. But systems known as proof assistants go deeper. The user enters statements into the system to teach it the definition of a mathematical concept -- an object -- based on simpler objects that the machine already knows about. A statement can also just refer to known objects, and the proof assistant will answer whether the fact is 'obviously' true or false based on its current knowledge. If the answer is not obvious, the user has to enter more details. Proof assistants thus force the user to lay out the logic of their arguments in a rigorous way, and they fill in simpler steps that human mathematicians had consciously or unconsciously skipped. Once researchers have done the hard work of translating a set of mathematical concepts into a proof assistant, the program generates a library of computer code that can be built on by other researchers and used to define higher-level mathematical objects. In this way, proof assistants can help to verify mathematical proofs that would otherwise be time-consuming and difficult, perhaps even practically impossible, for a human to check. Proof assistants have long had their fans, but this is the first time that they had a major role at the cutting edge of a field, says Kevin Buzzard, a mathematician at Imperial College London who was part of a collaboration that checked Scholze and Clausen's result. "The big remaining question was: can they handle complex mathematics?" says Buzzard. "We showed that they can."

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John McAfee Found Dead in Prison Cell After Spanish High Court Allows Extradition, According to Spanish Newspaper El Mundo

Wed, 23/06/2021 - 20:32
Reuters: Antivirus creator John McAfee, 75, was found dead in his prison cell in Barcelona after the Spanish high court had authorised his extradition to the US, the Catalan justice department said, confirming an earlier report from El Mundo newspaper. Everything points it could be a death by suicide, the department said in a statement. The high court had agreed to extradite him back to the US where he faces tax evasion charges. Spanish newspaper El Mundo's story. AFP has corroborated the news.

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Uber Eats Adds Pricing Disclaimer Requested by Attorneys General

Wed, 23/06/2021 - 19:48
Uber added a disclosure to its food delivery app saying menu item prices may be higher than those charged by restaurants, bowing to pressure from attorneys general. From a report: The disclaimer will only be shown to customers in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., after the attorneys general there pressed for a concession from the company. They said in a joint statement Tuesday that the change will offer customers more price transparency. Before customers finalize an order, Uber will show a message that reads, "Prices may be lower in store."

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Morgan Stanley's New York Office Bans Unvaccinated Staff and Clients

Wed, 23/06/2021 - 19:05
Morgan Stanley plans to ban workers from its New York headquarters if they have not received a Covid-19 vaccine. The rule will apply to non-vaccinated guests and clients as well. From a report: According to a source close to the company, Morgan Stanley said in a memo to its employees in the New York metropolitan area that all staff working in buildings with a "large employee presence" are required to confirm their vaccination status by July 1. The source added that "vaccine attestation is on an honorary basis for employees, contingent workforce, clients and visitors." The company plans to expand the vaccination mandate to employees and guests in other Morgan Stanley locations in New York City and nearby Westchester starting July 12. "Operating within a fully vaccinated environment allows us to lift restrictions like the use of face coverings and the need to maintain physical distancing, returning to more normal office conditions," the source added.

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Kickstarter CEO: Let's Try a 4-Day Work Week

Wed, 23/06/2021 - 18:28
Kickstarter announced Tuesday that it plans to experiment with a four-day work week in an effort to offer workers more flexibility and additional time to spend on creative pursuits. From a report: Lots of tech companies are planning to offer flexibility around where employees work post-pandemic. Now some companies are also rethinking when people work. Kickstarter plans next year to test a four-day work week with some or all of its employees, though details of that remain to be figured out, including whether all workers will have the same schedule. Dating app Bumble, meanwhile, says it's giving all employees this week off to allow a much-needed break. Kickstarter CEO Aziz Hasan told Axios that he had toyed with the notion of a four-day week in the past, but was motivated by the pandemic to actually give it a try. "What we've been all living through the last 18 months, you feel this compression on your professional life, your personal life," Hasan said. The idea of a four-day work week wasn't spurred by the company's ongoing collective bargaining negotiations, Hasan said. He added that the company's newly formed union has been supportive of the idea.

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South African Brothers Vanish, and So Does $3.6 Billion in Bitcoin

Wed, 23/06/2021 - 17:44
A pair of South African brothers have vanished, along with Bitcoin worth $3.6 billion from their cryptocurrency investment platform. From a report: A Cape Town law firm hired by investors says they can't locate the brothers and has reported the matter to the Hawks, an elite unit of the national police force. It's also told crypto exchanges across the globe should any attempt be made to convert the digital coins. Following a surge in Bitcoin's value in the past year, the disappearance of about 69,000 coins -- worth more than $4 billion at their April peak -- would represent the biggest-ever dollar loss in a cryptocurrency scam. The incident could spur regulators' efforts to impose order on the market amid rising cases of fraud. The first signs of trouble came in April, as Bitcoin was rocketing to a record. Africrypt Chief Operating Officer Ameer Cajee, the elder brother, informed clients that the company was the victim of a hack. He asked them not to report the incident to lawyers and authorities, as it would slow down the recovery process of the missing funds. Some skeptical investors roped in the law firm, Hanekom Attorneys, and a separate group started liquidation proceedings against Africrypt. "We were immediately suspicious as the announcement implored investors not to take legal action," Hanekom Attorneys said in response to emailed questions. "Africrypt employees lost access to the back-end platforms seven days before the alleged hack." The firm's investigation found Africrypt's pooled funds were transferred from its South African accounts and client wallets, and the coins went through tumblers and mixers -- or to other large pools of bitcoin -- to make them essentially untraceable.

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Radio Waves From Earth Have Reached Dozens of Stars

Wed, 23/06/2021 - 17:06
For billions of years, Earth has been playing a cosmic game of hide-and-seek. New research published today in Nature posits that roughly 1,700 stars are in the right position to have spotted life on Earth as early as 5,000 years ago. From a report: These stars, within 100 parsecs (or about 326 light-years) of the sun, were found using data from NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the European Space Agency's Gaia mission. And with thousands of exoplanets already found orbiting other stars in our universe, could we have already seen life on other planets come and go? Might they have seen us? "The universe is dynamic," says Lisa Kaltenegger, director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell, and lead author of the study. "Stars move, we move. First the Earth moves around the sun, but the sun moves around the center of our galaxy." About 70% of exoplanets are found using the transit method: when a planet passes between a star and an observer, the star dims enough to confirm the presence of a previously unseen celestial body. Kaltenegger and coauthor Jackie Faherty of the American Museum of Natural History compiled a list of stars that either will see or already have seen Earth transit in their lifetimes. Of these, they found seven stars with orbiting exoplanets that could potentially be habitable. Statistically, one out of four stars has a planet that exists in the "Goldilocks zone" -- not too hot, not too cold, and just far away from a star to support life. But how do we determine whether faraway exoplanets meet these criteria? When transiting exoplanets block stellar light, part of that light filters through the atmosphere. Energy and light interact with the molecules and atoms of that planet, and by the time that light reaches an astronomer's telescope, scientists can determine whether it has interacted with chemicals like oxygen or methane. A combination of those two, Kaltenegger says, is the fingerprint for life.

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Tim Berners-Lee Defends Auction of NFT Representing Web's Source Code

Wed, 23/06/2021 - 16:27
Tim Berners-Lee has defended his decision to auction an NFT (non-fungible token) representing the source code to the web, comparing the sale to an autographed book or a speaking tour. From a report: The creator of the world wide web announced his decision to create and sell the digital asset through Sotheby's auction house last week. In the auction, which begins on Wednesday and will run for one week, collectors will have the chance to bid on a bundle of items, including the 10,000 lines of the source code to the original web browser, a digital poster created by Berners-Lee representing the code, a letter from him, and an animated video showing the code being entered. "This is totally aligned with the values of the web," Berners-Lee told the Guardian. "The questions I've got, they said: 'Oh, that doesn't sound like the free and open web.' Well, wait a minute, the web is just as free and just as open as it always was. The core codes and protocols on the web are royalty free, just as they always have been. I'm not selling the web -- you won't have to start paying money to follow links. "I'm not even selling the source code. I'm selling a picture that I made, with a Python programme that I wrote myself, of what the source code would look like if it was stuck on the wall and signed by me. "If they felt that me selling an NFT of a poster is inappropriate, then what about me selling a book? I do things like that, which involve money, but the free and open web is still free and open. And we do still, every now and again, have to fight to keep it free and open, fight for net neutrality and so on."

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Apple Says Third-Party App Stores Would Open iPhones To Scammers

Wed, 23/06/2021 - 15:45
Apple is raising fears about letting users install applications outside the company's App Store, an issue being targeted by lawmakers and regulators that also played a prominent role in its recent trial against Epic Games. From a report: The company said Wednesday on its website that requiring apps to be downloaded from the App Store protects consumers against scams, keeps their privacy secure and provides developers payment for their work. All those benefits could disappear if apps can be downloaded from third-party app stores with lesser protections or users get an app from a website or PC and "sideload" it onto the phone. The timing of Apple's push back isn't coincidental. The U.S. House Judiciary Committee Wednesday is scheduled to discuss six proposed antitrust bills, including one sponsored by Rhode Island Democrat Representative David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island and chairman of the antitrust subcommittee that, if passed into law, could call for Apple to open up to third-party app stores and provide all of its iPhone technologies to third-party software makers. "It shall be unlawful for a person operating a covered platform, in or affecting commerce, to restrict or impede the capacity of a business user to access or interoperate with the same platform, operating system, hardware and software features that are available to the covered platform operator's own products, services, or lines of business," according to an early copy of the bill. "Allowing sideloading would degrade the security of the iOS platform and expose users to serious security risks not only on third-party app stores, but also on the App Store," the Cupertino, California-based technology giant said on its website. "Because of the large size of the iPhone user base and the sensitive data stored on their phones -- photos, location data, health and financial information -- allowing sideloading would spur a flood of new investment into attacks on the platform."

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