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Bigfoot Spotted Sneaking Around Below Bald Eagle Nest, Multiple Outlets Report ( 173

Take it with a pinch of salt. Maybe some more. Eric Mack, writing for CNET:Bigfoot, that mysteriously unkempt and anti-social gentlemen of the woodlands, has again made an appearance on camera in his trademark blurry yet intriguing style. This time the legendary cryptid has apparently been captured on the CarbonTV Eagle Cam in northern Michigan. The live webcam is trained on a bald eagle nest 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground near the Platte River State Fish Hatchery. In the aforementioned video we see a dark lumbering figure talking into frame about 10 seconds into the clip. The shadowy silhouette of something clearly bipedal makes its way through the stand of trees before walking out of frame. While the creature appears to fit the traditional description of Bigfoot, it also could pretty easily be explained as a bear or a human. Because the camera is capturing the forest floor looking down from 100 feet up, the perspective is a little screwy and it's hard to get much clarity.Further reporting on Time, and Fox.

New Study Suggests There's a Limit To How Long People Can Live ( 290

Life expectancies have risen in many countries around the world thanks to breakthroughs in medical treatment and sanitation in the last century. The maximum age of death has also increased. But as these numbers continue to rise, it raises the question as to how long can people live? ABC News reports: The record for the world's oldest person is 122 years and the odds of shattering that record are slim, according to an analysis published Wednesday in the journal Nature. In the new study, researchers [at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York] analyzed mortality data from a global database. They found that while there have been strides in reducing deaths among certain groups -- children, women during childbirth and the elderly -- the rate of improvement was slower for the very old, those over 100 years old. Next they examined how old centenarians were when they died. The record holder is Jeanne Calment, of France, who lived until 122 years old. Since her death in 1997, no one has broken her record. The researchers calculated the odds of someone reaching 125 years in a given year are less than 1 in 10,000. They think the human life span more likely maxes out at 115 years. Some aging specialists said the study doesn't take into account advances that have been made in extending the life span -- and health -- of certain laboratory animals including mice, worms and flies through genetic manipulation and other techniques. The goal is to eventually find treatments that might slow the aging process in humans and keep them healthier longer.

'Nano-Machines' Win European Trio Chemistry Nobel Prize ( 16

Dave Knott writes from a report via The Guardian: Sir Fraser Stoddart, from Scotland, Bernard Feringa, from the Netherlands, and Jean-Pierre Sauvage, from France have won the Nobel prize in chemistry for developing "nano-machines," an advance that paved the way for the world's first smart materials. In living organisms, cells work as molecular machines to power our organs, regulate temperature and repair damage. Working separately, the Nobel trio were among the first to replicate this kind of function in synthetic molecules, by working out how to convert chemical energy into mechanical motion. This allowed them to construct molecular devices a thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair, including switches, motors, shuttles and even something resembling a motorcar. The advances have allowed scientists to develop materials that will reconfigure and adapt by themselves depending on their environment -- for instance contracting with heat, or opening up to deliver drugs when they arrive at a target site in the body.

Blue Origin Lands Rocket During Launch Escape Test ( 89

SpaceX isn't the only private company interested in reusable rockets. Blue Origin, an American privately-funded aerospace manufacturer established by founder Jeff Bezos, surprised everyone, including itself, by successfully landing its New Shepard rocket in today's in-flight launch escape test. Gizmodo reports: Moments ago, Blue Origin conducted an in flight test of its launch escape system, separating a crew capsule from its New Shepard booster at an altitude of 16,000 feet. This test was critical to ensure that the rocket will be safe for human passengers, whom Blue Origin hopes to start flying into sub-orbital space as early as next year. Not only did the crew capsule make a clean separation, deploy its parachutes, and land softly in a small cloud of dust back on Earth, but the booster -- which everybody expected to go splat -- continued on its merry way into suborbital space, after which it succeeded in landing smoothly back on Earth for a fifth time. Although Blue Origin has tested its launch escape system on the launchpad before, this is the first time such a system has been tested, by anyone, in flight since the 1960s. It was almost too perfect. You can watch the test here.

Theranos To Shut Down Its Blood-Testing Facilities, Shrink Workforce By 40% ( 66

tripleevenfall quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Theranos Inc. said it will shut down its blood-testing facilities and shrink its workforce by more than 40% (Warning: may be paywalled; alternate source). The company said it had 790 full-time employees as of August 1. The moves mark a dramatic retreat by the Palo Alto, Calif., company and founder Elizabeth Holmes from their core strategy of offering a long menu of low-price blood tests directly to consumers. Those ambitions already were endangered by crippling regulatory sanctions that followed revelations by The Wall Street Journal of shortcomings in Theranos's technology and operations. Theranos later voided all results from its proprietary device for 2014 and 2015, though the company said it wasn't aware of any patient harm resulting form its tests. Ms. Holmes said in a statement: "We will return our undivided attention to our miniLab platform. Our ultimate goal is to commercialize miniaturized, automated laboratories capable of small-volume sample testing, with an emphasis on vulnerable patient populations, including oncology, pediatrics, and intensive care."

There's Even More Evidence That Fitness Trackers Don't Work ( 160

Turns out it's really hard to persuade people to exercise -- even when they have access to how many steps they've taken, and even when they get paid for it. A staggering 90 percent of people stop wearing fitness trackers when given the choice. Fortune reports: In the new yearlong study, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, researchers randomized 800 people in Singapore who had a full-time job into four groups. Some wore a Fitbit Zip and were paid a small amount of money to get moving -- which they were instructed either to keep or to donate to charity -- while others didn't wear Fitbits. Researchers measured their physical activity, weight, blood pressure, the body's ability to use oxygen (called cardiorespiratory fitness) and their self-reported quality of life. For the last six months of the study, all incentives were dropped, and people could choose whether or not to continue wearing their fitness trackers. (About 40% of people had stopped wearing it in the first six months anyway.) The cash seemed to work at first. Those who were rewarded with cash did an extra 13 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each week and added 570 steps to their daily counts. Raising money for charity had no effect. But once the monetary rewards stopped, so did the improvements. By the end of the study, just 10% of people were still wearing the trackers.

Boeing CEO Vows To Beat Elon Musk To Mars ( 254

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg sketched out a Jetsons-like future at a conference Tuesday, envisioning a commercial space-travel market with dozens of destinations orbiting the Earth and hypersonic aircraft shuttling travelers between continents in two hours or less. And Boeing intends to be a key player in the initial push to send humans to Mars, maybe even beating Musk to his long-time goal. "I'm convinced the first person to step foot on Mars will arrive there riding a Boeing rocket," Muilenburg said at the Chicago event on innovation, which was sponsored by the Atlantic magazine. Like Musk's SpaceX, Boeing is focused on building out the commercial space sector near earth as spaceflight becomes more routine, while developing technology to venture far beyond the moon. The Chicago-based aerospace giant is working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to develop a heavy-lift rocket called the Space Launch System for deep space exploration. Boeing and SpaceX are also the first commercial companies NASA selected to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. Boeing built the first stage for the Saturn V, the most powerful U.S. rocket ever built, which took men to the moon. Nowadays, Muilenburg sees space tourism closer to home "blossoming over the next couple of decades into a viable commercial market." The International Space Station could be joined in low-earth orbit by dozens of hotels and companies pursuing micro-gravity manufacturing and research, he said. Muilenburg said Boeing will make spacecraft for the new era of tourists. He also sees potential for hypersonic aircraft, traveling at upwards of three times the speed of sound.

'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' Far Bigger Than Imagined, Aerial Survey Shows ( 220

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The vast patch of garbage floating in the Pacific Ocean is far worse than previously thought, with an aerial survey finding a much larger mass of fishing nets, plastic containers and other discarded items than imagined. A reconnaissance flight taken in a modified C-130 Hercules aircraft found a vast clump of mainly plastic waste at the northern edge of what is known as the "great Pacific garbage patch," located between Hawaii and California. The density of rubbish was several times higher than the Ocean Cleanup, a foundation part-funded by the Dutch government to rid the oceans of plastics, expected to find even at the heart of the patch, where most of the waste is concentrated. The heart of the garbage patch is thought to be around 1m sq km (386,000 sq miles), with the periphery spanning a further 3.5m sq km (1,351,000 sq miles). The dimensions of this morass of waste are continually morphing, caught in one of the ocean's huge rotating currents. The north Pacific gyre has accumulated a soup of plastic waste, including large items and smaller broken-down micro plastics that can be eaten by fish and enter the food chain. Following a further aerial survey through the heart of the patch on Sunday, the Ocean Cleanup aims to tackle the problem through a gigantic V-shaped boom, which would use sea currents to funnel floating rubbish into a cone. A prototype of the vulcanized rubber barrier will be tested next year, with a full-sized 100km (62-mile) barrier deployed by 2020 if trials go well. "Normally when you do an aerial survey of dolphins or whales, you make a sighting and record it," said Boyan Slat, the founder of the Ocean Cleanup. "That was the plan for this survey. But when we opened the door and we saw the debris everywhere. Ever half second you see something. So we had to take snapshots -- it was impossible to record everything. It was bizarre to see that much garbage in what should be pristine ocean."

British Trio Wins Nobel Prize In Physics For Study of Exotic Matter ( 25

Dave Knott writes: David J. Thouless, F. Duncan M. Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for discoveries in condensed-matter physics that have transformed the understanding of matter that assumes strange shapes. All three were born in Britain but work in the United States. Using advanced mathematical models, the three scientists studied unusual phases, or states, of matter, such as superconductors, superfluids or thin magnetic films. Their findings have relevance for materials science and electronics. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm awarded the prize for "theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter." Topology is a branch of mathematics that describes properties that change only in increments. In the early 1970s, Dr. Kosterlitz and Dr. Thouless "demonstrated that superconductivity could occur at low temperatures and also explained the mechanism, phase transition, that makes superconductivity disappear at higher temperatures," the academy found. In the 1980s, Dr. Thouless showed that the integers by which the conductivity of electricity could be measured were topological in their nature. Around that time, Dr. Haldane discovered how topological concepts could be used to understand the properties of chains of small magnets found in some materials. "We now know of many topological phases, not only in thin layers and threads, but also in ordinary three-dimensional materials," the academy said. "Over the last decade, this area has boosted front-line research in condensed matter physics, not least because of the hope that topological materials could be used in new generations of electronics and superconductors, or in future quantum computers."

Johnson & Johnson Discloses That Its Insulin Pump Is Hackable ( 79

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Stack: Johnson and Johnson has revealed that its JJ Animas OneTouch Ping insulin pump is vulnerable to hackers, who could potentially force the device to overdose diabetic patients -- however, it declares that the risk of this happening is very low. Unnamed executives from the American multinational medical manufacturer said that they were taking the unprecedented step of warning customers about the vulnerability, particularly in light of recent controversies regarding attack vectors in cardiac equipment. In a letter to doctors and 114,000 patients, sent on Monday, the company wrote: "The probability of unauthorized access to the OneTouch Ping system is extremely low... It would require technical expertise, sophisticated equipment and proximity to the pump, as the OneTouch Ping system is not connected to the internet or to any external network." Even though the company's own technicians were able to hack the pump within a distance of 25 feet, Johnson and Johnson's chief medical officer Brian Levy observed that the hack would be extremely difficult to pull off, and said "We believe the OneTouch Ping system is safe and reliable. We urge patients to stay on the product."

Yoshinori Ohsumi of Japan Wins Nobel Prize In Medicine For Study of Cell Recycling ( 15

Dave Knott writes from a report via The Guardian: The 2016 Nobel prize in medicine has been awarded to Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi for discoveries on how cells break down and recycle their own components. Ohsumi uncovered "mechanisms for autophagy," a fundamental process in cells that scientists believe can be harnessed to fight cancer and dementia. Autophagy is the body's internal recycling program -- scrap cell components are captured and the useful parts are stripped out to generate energy or build new cells. The process is crucial for preventing cancerous growths, warding off infection and, by maintaining a healthy metabolism, it helps protect against conditions like diabetes. The report adds: "[Ohsumi] said he chose to focus on the cell's waste disposal system, an unfashionable subject at the time, because he wanted to work on something different. By studying the process in yeast cells, Ohsumi identified the main genes involved in autophagy and showed how the proteins they code for come together to build the autophagosome membrane. He later showed that a similar cellular recycling process occurs in human cells -- and that our cells would not survive without it."

Researchers Restore the First Recording of Computer-Generated Music ( 127

BoxRec writes: Alan Turing was part of a team who created the earliest known recording of music produced by a computer. It starts with a few bars of God Save the Queen, a snippet of Baa Baa Black Sheep and then Glenn Miller's swing hit In The Mood. The recording was captured by the BBC in the Autumn of 1951 on a 12-inch (30.5cm) acetate disc. But when Professor Jack Copeland of the University of Canterbury in Christchurch and composer Jason Long discovered the disc, the audio on the disc had been distorted. In a blog post for the British Library, Copeland and Long said it "gave at best only a rough impression of how the computer sounded." BBC News reports: "By analyzing the recording, Copeland and Long realized it was playing at the wrong speed, possibly as a result of the recorder's turntable running too quickly as the acetate was cut. As they knew the notes the computer was actually capable of playing, the pair were able to calculate exactly by how much the recording needed to be speeded up in order to exactly match the sound made by the Ferranti Mark 1. They also removed extraneous noise from the recording -- though not the engineer's voice. 'It was a beautiful moment when we first heard the true sound of Turing's computer,' Copeland and Long wrote. Now anyone can hear it in all its somewhat ramshackle glory."

Toyota's Kirobo Mini Companion Robot To Sell For $400 ( 62

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: Three years ago a small robot called Kirobo blasted into space, headed for the International Space Station. When it arrived, the 34-cm-tall, Toyota-made android became best buddies with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, accompanying him around the station, engaging in polite conversation, and even showing emotion according to the subject matter. Following Kirobo's successful space jaunt, the car company decided to back the development of a smaller version of the already small robot, calling it -- rather appropriately -- Kirobo Mini. It unveiled the diminutive droid at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show. Toyota announced on Monday that Kirobo Mini will go on sale in Japan next year for 39,800 yen (about $390), though a 300-yen (about $2.95) monthly subscription fee will also be necessary. Besides the robot itself, you'll also receive a "cradle" that's designed to fit inside a car's cup holder, ensuring that the robot travels in style wherever you take it. An ad (video) released by Toyota over the weekend shows Kirobo Mini hanging out with families, couples, the elderly, singletons, and students, with everyone visibly enthralled by its ability to say the right thing at the right time. However, Kirobo Mini's specific functionality, and the extent to which it'll be able to interact with humans, is yet to be revealed.

Researchers Develop System To Send Passwords, Keys Through Users' Bodies ( 61

Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On the Wire: Credential theft is one of the more persistent and troubling threats in security, and researchers have been trying to come up with answers to it for decades. A team at the University of Washington has developed a system that can prevent attackers from intercepting passwords and keys sent over the air by sending them through users' bodies instead. The human body is a good transmission mechanism for certain kinds of waves, and the UW researchers were looking for a way to take advantage of that fact to communicate authentication information from a user's phone directly to a target device, such as a door knob or medical device. In order to make that idea a reality, they needed to develop a system that could be in direct contact with the user's body, and could produce electromagnetic signals below 10 MHz. And to make the system usable for a mass audience, the team needed widely available hardware that could generate and transmit the signals. So the researchers settled on the fingerprint sensor on iPhones and the touchpad on Lenovo laptops, as well as a fingerprint scanner and a touchpad from Adafruit. The concept is deceptively simple: generate an electromagnetic signal from the fingerprint sensor or touchpad and transmit that through the user's body to the target device. The signal can carry a typical password or even an encryption key, the researchers said. "We show for the first time that commodity devices can be used to generate wireless data transmissions that are confined to the human body. Specifically, we show that commodity input devices such as fingerprint sensors and touchpads can be used to transmit information to only wireless receivers that are in contact with the body," the researchers, Mehrdad Hessar, Vikram Iyer, and Shyamnath Gollakota, of UW said in their paper, "Enabling On-Body Transmissions With Commodity Devices."

Sandpoint Town Square Home To First Public Solar Roadways Panel Installation ( 163

Two years after the Idaho-based company Solar Roadways exceeded its crowdfunding goal of $1 million for constructing roads that gather solar power, the company has completed its first public installation in the City of Sandpoint, Idaho, where there are 30 tiles currently installed. New Atlas reports: The 150 sq ft (14 sq m) installation in Sandpoint's Jeff Jones Town Square is made up of 30 SR3 panels. Where Solar Roadways' second generation prototype was a 36-watt panel, the SR3 is the same size but is rated at 48 W, made possible by replacing the panel mounting holes with edge connectors. The new units each include four heating elements to help keep the installation free of snow and ice and over 300 brighter, daylight readable LEDs with over 16 million available colors. Though now laid down and switched on, not everything went exactly to plan with the installation. Manufacturing difficulties meant that some of the SR3 panels were not fully operational at the time of the public reveal. The working units were placed in the center of the grid and surrounded by dead panels. Solar Roadways aims to swap out the non-working units as soon as possible. Sandpoint officials plan to allow the public to interact with and modify the light show soon, and future plans for the town square include free public Wi-Fi and the roll out of electric vehicle charging stations. You can view the live stream of the Solar Roadways installation here.

Scientists Identify Another Source of Dangerous Greenhouse Gases: Reservoirs ( 159

A team of researchers from Canada, Holland, China, the U.S. and Brazil "found that greenhouse gas emissions from man-made reservoirs were likely equal to the equivalent of one gigaton of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere every year...a little less than one-sixth of the United State's greenhouse gas emissions." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Popular Science: A reservoir is usually created by damming a river, overflowing the banks and flooding the surrounding area, creating a man-made lake...the perfect conditions for microbes to generate greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane (a gas that is about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide)... "When reservoirs are first flooded there's organic matter in the soil and vegetation that can be converted by microbes into methane and carbon dioxide," John Harrison, a co-author of the paper, tells Popular Science.

"Also, reservoirs because they are in line in rivers, they receive a lot of organic matter and organic sediment from upstream that can fuel the production of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide." Harrison says that reservoirs also tend to occur in areas where fertilizers are used on the surrounding land. Runoff from those fertilizers into bodies of water can cause algal blooms that can also produce more methane and carbon dioxide.

If the world's reservoirs were a country, they'd be #8 on a list of polluters -- right behind Brazil, China, the EU and the U.S.

Revolutionary Ion Thruster To Be Tested On International Space Station ( 132

Three Australian researchers have developed "an ion thruster that could replace the current chemical-based rocket propulsion technology, which requires huge volumes of fuel to be loaded onto a spacecraft." Slashdot reader theweatherelectric shares this article from the ABC News: An Australian-designed rocket propulsion system is heading to the International Space Station for a year-long experiment that ultimately could revolutionize space travel. The technology could be used to power a return trip to Mars without refuelling, and use recycled space junk for the fuel... It will be placed in a module outside the ISS, powered, as Dr Neumann describes, by an extension cord from the station. "What we'll be doing with our system is running it for as long as we can, hopefully for the entire year on the space station to measure how much force it's producing for how long."
In the early 2000s "it was basically a machine the size of a fist that spat ions from a very hot plasma ball through a magnetic nozzle at a very high velocity," and the researchers are now hoping to achieve the same effect by recycling the magnesium in space junk.

Implication of Sabotage Adds Intrigue To SpaceX Investigation ( 182

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Washington Post: The long-running feud between Elon Musk's space company and its fierce competitor United Launch Alliance took a bizarre twist this month when a SpaceX employee visited its facilities at Cape Canaveral, Fla., and asked for access to the roof of one of ULA's buildings. About two weeks earlier, one of SpaceX's rockets blew up on a launchpad while it was awaiting an engine test. As part of the investigation, SpaceX officials had come across something suspicious they wanted to check out, according to three industry officials with knowledge of the episode. SpaceX had still images from video that appeared to show an odd shadow, then a white spot on the roof of a nearby building belonging to ULA, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The SpaceX representative explained to the ULA officials on site that it was trying to run down all possible leads in what was a cordial, not accusatory, encounter, according to the industry sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation. The building, which had been used to refurbish rocket motors known as the SMARF, is just more than a mile away from the launchpad and has a clear line of sight to it. A representative from ULA ultimately denied the SpaceX employee access to the roof and instead called Air Force investigators, who inspected the roof and didn't find anything connecting it to the rocket explosion, the officials said. This week, ten members of Congress sent a four-page letter to several government agencies about the SpaceX explosion, raising the question as to whether or not SpaceX should be leading the investigation. Elon Musk said the investigation into what went wrong is the company's "absolute top priority." He added, "We've eliminated all of the obvious possibilities for what occurred there. So what remains are the less probable answers." SpaceX aims to resume flights in November.

Rosetta's 12-Year Mission Ends With Landing On Comet ( 40

sciencehabit writes: It was an unusual grand finale. The crowded European Space Agency (ESA) operations center in Darmstadt, Germany, waited in silence and then the signal from the descending Rosetta mission simply stopped at 1.19 pm local time showing that the spacecraft had, presumably, landed on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko some 40 minutes earlier, due to the time the signal takes to reach Earth. Mission controllers hugged each other; there was gentle applause from onlookers; and that was it. There were no last minute crises. Seven of Rosetta's instruments kept gathering data until the end. Holger Sierks, principal investigator of the 12-year mission's main camera, showed the gathered staff, officials, and journalists Rosetta's final picture: a rough gravelly surface with a few larger rocks covering an area 10 meters across. Earlier, it had snapped the interior of deep pits on the comet (shown above, from an altitude of 5.8 kilometers) that may show the building blocks it is made of. "It's very crude raw data but this will keep us busy," Sierks said. It is hoped that this last close-up data grab will help to clarify the many scientific questions raised by Rosetta.

Feds Go After Mylan For Scamming Medicaid Out of Millions On EpiPen Pricing ( 198

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Over the nine or so years that Mylan, Inc. has been selling -- and hiking the price -- of EpiPens, the drug company has been misclassifying the life-saving device and stiffing Medicaid out of full rebate payments, federal regulators told Ars. Under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, drug manufacturers, such as Mylan, can get their products covered by Medicaid if they agree to offer rebates to the government to offset costs. With a brand-name drug such as the EpiPen, which currently has no generic versions and has patent protection, Mylan was supposed to classify the drug as a "single source," or brand name drug. That would mean Mylan is required to offer Medicaid a rebate of 23.1 percent of the costs, plus an "inflation rebate" any time Mylan raises the price of the brand-name drug at a rate higher than inflation. Mylan has opted for such price increases -- a lot. Since Mylan bought the rights to EpiPen in 2007, it has raised the price on 15 separate occasions, bringing the current list price to $608 for a two-pack up from about $50 a pen in 2007. That's an increase of more than 500 percent, which easily beats inflation. But instead of classifying EpiPen as a "single source" drug, Mylan told regulators that it's a "non-innovator multiple source," or generic drug. Under that classification, Mylan is only required to offer a rebate of 13 percent and no inflation rebates. It's unclear how much money Mylan has skipped out on paying in total to state and federal governments. But according to the state health department of Minnesota, as reported by CNBC, the misclassification cost that state $4.3 million this year alone.

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