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  • New Material Can Soak Up Uranium From Seawater (2019/02/23 22:39)
    A new adsorbent material "soaks up uranium from seawater, leaving interfering ions behind," reports the ACS's Chemical & Engineering News, in an article shared by webofslime: The world's oceans contain some 4 billion metric tons of dissolved uranium. That's roughly 1,000 times as much as all known terrestrial sources combined, and enough to fuel the global nuclear power industry for centuries. But the oceans are so vast, and uranium's concentration in seawater is so low -- roughly 3 ppb -- that extracting it remains a formidable challenge... Researchers have been looking for ways to extract uranium from seawater for more than 50 years... Nearly 20 years ago, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) confirmed that amidoxime-functionalized polymers could soak up uranium reliably even under harsh marine conditions. But that type of adsorbent has not been implemented on a large scale because it has a higher affinity for vanadium than uranium. Separating the two ions raises production costs. Alexander S. Ivanov of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, together with colleagues there and at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and other institutions, may have come up with a solution. Using computational methods, the team identified a highly selective triazine chelator known as H2BHT that resembles iron-sequestering compounds found in bacteria and fungi.... H2BHT exhibits little attraction for vanadium but has roughly the same affinity for uranyl ions as amidoxime-based adsorbents do. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
  • Record-Breaking Jet Stream Accelerates Air Travel, Flight Clocks In At 801 MPH (2019/02/23 21:44)
    pgmrdlm quotes CBS News: On Monday night, the river of air 35,000 feet above the New York City area, known as the jet stream, clocked in at a blazing 231 mph. This is the fastest jet stream on record since 1957 for the National Weather Service in Upton, New York — breaking the old record of 223 mph, according to NWS forecaster Carlie Buccola. This wind provided a turbo boost to commercial passenger planes along for the ride. With the help of this rapid tailwind, Virgin Atlantic Flight 8 from Los Angeles to London hit what could be a record high speed for a Boeing 787: 801 mph over Pennsylvania at 9:20 p.m. Monday night... "The typical cruising speed of the Dreamliner is 561 mph," CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave points out. "The past record for the 787 is 776 mph set in January 2017 by a Norwegian 787-9 flying from JFK to London Gatwick. That flight set a record for the fastest subsonic transatlantic commercial airline flight -- 5 hours and 13 minutes, thanks to a 202 mph tailwind." FlightAware, a global aviation data services company, reminds CBS that even a 100 mph increase in the jet stream can shorten a flight by an hour. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
  • What Happens When Police License Plate Readers Make Mistakes? (2019/02/23 20:51)
    An anonymous reader writes: The Verge reports that San Francisco Bay Area police "pulled over a California privacy advocate and held him at gunpoint after a database error caused a license plate reader to flag a car as stolen, a lawsuit alleges." Brian Hofer, the chairman of Oakland's Privacy Advisory Commission, was handcuffed and surrounded by multiple police cars, and says a police deputy injured his brother by throwing him to the ground. They were finally released -- 40 minutes later. But ironically, Hofer has been a staunch critic of license plate readers, "which he points out have led to wrongful detentions, invasions of privacy and potentially costly lawsuits." (California bus driver Denise Green was detained at gunpoint when her own car was incorrectly identified as stolen -- leading to a lawsuit which she eventually settled for nearly $500,000.) And at least one thief simply swapped license plates with an innocent driver. The executive director of Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, a state government program, acknowledged that the accuracy rate of the license plate readers is about 90 percent, yet "added that in some cases, the technology has actually exonerated people, or given potential suspects alibis. But there is no way for the public to know just how effective the license plate reader technology is in capturing criminals" -- apparently because police departments aren't capturing that data. Only one of the region's police departments, in Piedmont, California, reported its "efficacy metrics" to the agency -- with 7,500 "hits" which over 11 months led to 28 arrests (and the recovery of 39 cars) after reading 21.3 million license plates. The license plate readers cost $20,000 per patrol car. In Hofer's case, he was driving a rental car which had previously been reported as stolen but then later recovered -- though for some reason the police or rental car agency failed to update their database. But he criticizes the fact that "somebody could pull a gun on your because of an alert that a computer system gave them." "They're just pulling guns and going cowboy on us," Hofer says. "It's a pretty terrifying position to be in.... "This is happening more frequently than it should be. They're not ensuring the accuracy of their data and people's lives are literally at risk." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
  • Virgin Galactic Reaches Space Again In Highest, Fastest Test Flight Yet (2019/02/23 19:34)
    "If you're willing to spend $250,000 for a quick trip to space, that option is getting closer to reality," reports CNN. VSS Unity, Virgin Galactic's rocket-powered plane, climbed to a record altitude of nearly 56 miles during a test flight on Friday, marking the second time Richard Branson's startup has reached space. Two pilots, and for the first time, an additional crew member, were on board. Beth Moses, Galactic's chief astronaut trainer and an aerospace engineer, rode along with the pilots. The trip allowed her to run safety checks and get a first look at what Galactic's customers could one day experience. Moses has logged hundreds of hours on zero gravity aircrafts, and she described the G Forces aboard the supersonic plane as "mildly wild." Some moments were intense, she told CNN Business, but it was never uncomfortable. "I was riveted and I think our customers will be as well." Unity took off from a runway in California's Mojave Desert just after 8 am PT and cruised to about 45,000 feet attached to its mothership before it broke away and fired its rocket motor. The plane then swooped into the upper reaches of the atmosphere, 295,000 feet high, at supersonic speeds. It's top speed was Mach 3. At the peak of its flight path, Unity experienced a few minutes of weightlessness and looked out into the black skies of the cosmos. Moses said she was able to leave her seat and take in the view. "The Earth was beautiful -- super sharp, super clear," she said, "with a gorgeous view of the Pacific mountains." America's Federal Aviation Administration says they'll now award commercial astronaut wings to all three members of the crew, and CNN reports that this second successful test flight suggests Galactic "could be on track" to start flying tourists into space this year. "About 600 people have reserved tickets, priced between $200,000 and $250,000, to fly with Galactic. And the company says it wants to eventually lower prices to broaden its customer base." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
  • Microsoft's Cloud Evangelist Adds 'Clippy' To Their Business Card (2019/02/23 18:34)
    An anonymous reader quotes Business Insider's update on Microsoft Clippy, the animated cartoon paperclip that was Office's virtual assistant until the early 2000s, that "everyone loved to hate." After 18 years, has it become retro chic? When Chloe Condon, a newly hired Microsoft cloud evangelist, ordered new business cards, she avoided the standard corporate look and instead went with Clippy-themed cards and tweeted them out... They've got a picture of Clippy on the front and on the back they say, "It looks like you are trying to get in touch with Chloe," with her contact info listed below... Naturally, the Clippy The Paperclip Twitter account loved these cards. He tweeted, "@chloecondon It looks like you're using my likeness on your new business cards. Would you like help with WAIT I'M ON BUSINESS CARDS NOW?!" And then former Microsoft exec Steven Sinofsky, the man credited for developing Microsoft Office into a massive hit, noticed the cards and tweeted, "I suppose if you live long enough, others will wear your failures as a badge of honor...." After four years of scorn, Clippy was officially retired in 2001. Sinofsky tells Business Insider that the company even issued a funny press release about it.... Microsoft even held an official retirement party for him in San Francisco, too. Sinfosky shared a photo from that party with us... If you look closely, you'll see unemployed Clippy is actually using the party thrown in his honor to collect charity for himself and beg for food. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
  • 12-Year-Old Boy Reportedly Builds A Nuclear Fusion Reactor (2019/02/23 17:34)
    An anonymous reader quotes the Guardian: An American 14-year-old has reportedly become the youngest known person in the world to create a successful nuclear reaction. The Open Source Fusor Research Consortium, a hobbyist group, has recognised the achievement by Jackson Oswalt, from Memphis, Tennessee, when he was aged 12 in January 2018.... The enterprising teenager said he transformed an old playroom in his parents' house into a nuclear laboratory with $10,000 (£7,700) worth of equipment that uses 50,000 volts of electricity to heat deuterium gas and fuse the nuclei to release energy. "The start of the process was just learning about what other people had done with their fusion reactors," Jackson told Fox. "After that, I assembled a list of parts I needed. I got those parts off eBay primarily and then oftentimes the parts that I managed to scrounge off of eBay weren't exactly what I needed. So I'd have to modify them to be able to do what I needed to do for my project...." [S]cientists are likely to remain sceptical until Oswalt's workings are subject to verification from an official organisation and are published in an academic journal. Still, the teenager may now have usurped the previous record holder, Taylor Wilson, who works in nuclear energy research after achieving fusion aged 14. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
  • Redis Changes Its Open Source License -- Again (2019/02/23 16:34)
    "Redis Labs is dropping its Commons Clause license in favor of its new 'available-source' license: Redis Source Available License (RSAL)," reports ZDNet -- adding "This is not an open-source license." Redis Labs had used Commons Clause on top of the open-source Apache License to protect its rights to modules added to its 3-Clause-BSD-licensed Redis, the popular open-source in-memory data structure store. But, as Manish Gupta, Redis Labs' CMO, explained, "It didn't work. Confusion reigned over whether or not the modules were open source. They're not open-source." So, although it hadn't wanted to create a new license, that's what Redis Labs ended up doing.... The RSAL grants, Gupta said, equivalent rights to permissive open-source licenses for the vast majority of users. With the RSAL, developers can: Use the software; modify the source code; integrate it with an application; and use, distribute, support, or sell their application. But -- and this is big -- the RSAL forbids you from using any application built with these modules in a database, a caching engine, a stream processing engine, a search engine, an indexing engine, or a machine learning/artificial intelligence serving engine. In short, all the ways that Redis Labs makes money from Redis. Gupta wants to make it perfectly clear: "We're not calling it open source. It's not." Earlier this month the Open Source Initiative had reaffirmed its commitment to open source's original definition, adding "There is no trust in a world where anyone can invent their own definition for open source, and without trust there is no community, no collaboration, and no innovation." And earlier this week on Twitter a Red Hat open-source evangelist said they wondered whether Redis was just "clueless. There are a lot of folks entering #opensource today who are unwilling to do the research and reading, and assume that these are all new problems." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
  • European Governments Approve Controversial New Copyright Law (2019/02/23 14:00)
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A controversial overhaul of Europe's copyright laws overcame a key hurdle on Wednesday as a majority of European governments signaled support for the deal. That sets the stage for a pivotal vote by the European Parliament that's expected to occur in March or April. Supporters of the legislation portray it as a benign overhaul of copyright that will strengthen anti-piracy efforts. Opponents, on the other hand, warn that its most controversial provision, known as Article 13, could force Internet platforms to adopt draconian filtering technologies. The cost to develop filtering technology could be particularly burdensome for smaller companies, critics say. Online service providers have struggled to balance free speech and piracy for close to two decades. Faced with this difficult tradeoff, the authors of Article 13 have taken a rainbows-and-unicorns approach, promising stricter copyright enforcement, no wrongful takedowns of legitimate content, and minimal burdens on smaller technology platforms. But it seems unlikely that any law can achieve all of these objectives simultaneously. And digital-rights groups suspect that users will wind up getting burned -- both due to wrongful takedowns of legitimate content and because the burdens of mandatory filtering will make it harder to start a new online hosting service. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
  • President Trump Wants US To Win 5G Through Real Competition (2019/02/23 11:00)
    hackingbear writes: In a tweet, President Trump said he wanted "5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible. I want the United States to win through competition, not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies. American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind." While he did not specifically mention China's Huawei, many interpreted the comments as Mr Trump taking a softer stance on the firm. The U.S. has been pressuring allies to block out the Chinese telecom giant from their future 5G mobile networks, but the tactic meets considerable resistance. "Mr. President. I cannot agree with you more. Our company is always ready to help build the real 5G network in the U.S., through competition," Huawei President Ken Hu replied in a tweet, mocking Trump's frequent usages of the word "real." Huawei is the second biggest holder of 5G patents after Samsung and the top contributor to the 5G standard, and is setting its sight on 6G. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
  • Japan's Hayabusa 2 Successfully Touches Down On Ryugu Asteroid, Fires Bullet Into Its Surface (2019/02/23 08:00)
    Japan's Hayabusa 2 spacecraft has successfully touched down on the asteroid Ryugu at around 11:30 GMT on Thursday. "Data from the probe showed changes in speed and direction, indicating it had reached the asteroid's surface, according to officials from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)," reports The Guardian. From the report: The probe was due to fire a bullet at the Ryugu asteroid, to stir up surface matter, which it will then collect for analysis back on Earth. The asteroid is thought to contain relatively large amounts of organic matter and water from some 4.6 billion years ago when the solar system was born. The complicated procedure took less time than expected and appeared to go without a hitch, said Hayabusa 2 mission manager Makoto Yoshikawa. The spacecraft is seeking to gather 10g of the dislodged debris with an instrument named the Sampler Horn that hangs from its underbelly. Whatever material is collected by the spacecraft will be stored onboard until Hayabusa 2 reaches its landing site in Woomera, South Australia, in 2020 after a journey of more than three billion miles. UPDATE: JAXA says it successfully fired a "bullet" into Ryugu, collecting the disturbed material. "JAXA scientists had expected to find a powdery surface on Ryugu, but tests showed that the asteroid is covered in larger gravel," reports CNN. "As a result the team had to carry out a simulation to test whether the projectile would be capable of disturbing enough material to be collected by [the Sampler Horn]. The team is planning a total of three sampling events over the next few weeks." Read more of this story at Slashdot.



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