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Can Humankind Establish a Supply Chain in Space? ( 209

Long-time Slashdot reader RockDoctor shares a new paper by NASA planetary scientist Philip Metzger, "detailing a roadmap for humanity to take control of the Solar System in order to solve problems on Earth" by utilizing the resources that are already on the moon. In a 2013 paper, Dr. Metgzer wrote: "[B]ootstrapping" can be achieved with as little as 12 metric tons landed on the Moon during a period of about 20 years... The industry grows exponentially because of the free real estate, energy, and material resources of space. The mass of industrial assets at the end of bootstrapping will be 156 metric tons with 60 humanoid robots or as high as 40,000 metric tons... Within another few decades with no further investment, it can have millions of times the industrial capacity of the United States...
Dr. Metzger wrote in 2013 that "This industry promises to revolutionize the human condition." (See RockDoctor's original submission for more details.) While Metzger now notes that "It will require a sustained commitment of several decades to complete," his new article points out that a lunar supply chain outpost "will cost about 1/3 or less of the existing annual budgets of the national space programs," thanks to advances in both robotics and artificial intelligence, and will help humanity develop renewable energy and greatly expand the availability of other limited resources.

Microsoft Hopes To Hire More Coders With Autism ( 226

Autistic people are methodical and detail-oriented, and a new Microsoft program is trying to hire more of them, according to Fast Company. Slashdot reader tedlistens writes: Vauhini Vara takes a look at the at the (difficult) efforts of Microsoft to recruit more autistic engineers and make a more neurodiverse workplace, through the lens of one of those coders. "The program, which began in May 2015, does away with the typical interview approach, instead inviting candidates to hang out on campus for two weeks and work on projects while being observed and casually meeting managers who might be interested in hiring them. Only at the end of this stage do more formal interviews take place.

"The goal is to create a situation that is better suited to autistic people's styles of communicating and thinking. Microsoft isn't the first to attempt something like this: The German software firm SAP, among a handful of others, have similar programs -- but Microsoft is the highest-profile company to have gone public with its efforts, and autistic adults are hoping it will spark a broader movement."

One autistic coder says they make better employees because "You don't have to tell someone not to go home early. They'll just stay." But there's also a push to bring different analytical and creative approaches into Microsoft's company culture. The article ultimately asks the question, "Could the third-largest corporation in the world make the case that hiring and employing autistic people, with all their social and intellectual quirks, was good, not bad, for business?"

New Research Reveals Hundreds of Undiscovered Black Holes ( 75

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: New research by the University of Surrey published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society has shone light on a globular cluster of stars that could host several hundred black holes, a phenomenon that until recently was thought impossible. Globular clusters are spherical collections of stars which orbit around a galactic center such as our Milky-way galaxy. Using advanced computer simulations, the team at the University of Surrey were able to see the un-see-able by mapping a globular cluster known as NGC 6101, from which the existence of black holes within the system was deduced. These black holes are a few times larger than the Sun, and form in the gravitational collapse of massive stars at the end of their lives. It was previously thought that these black holes would almost all be expelled from their parent cluster due to the effects of supernova explosion, during the death of a star. It is only as recently as 2013 that astrophysicists found individual black holes in globular clusters via rare phenomena in which a companion star donates material to the black hole. This work, which was supported by the European Research Council (ERC), has shown that in NGC 6101 there could be several hundred black holes, overturning old theories as to how black holes form.

Elon Musk Asks Twitter For Help In Finding Cause of SpaceX Explosion ( 266

On September 1, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and destroyed the AMOS-6 satellite that belonged to Facebook, which was going to be used to beam internet to developing parts of the world. Since the cause for the explosion has yet to be solved, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is asking for help via Twitter. Slashdot reader Thelasko writes: Elon Musk stated on Twitter last night, "Still working on the Falcon fireball investigation. Turning out to be the most difficult and complex failure we have ever had in 14 years." He went on to say, "Important to note that this happened during a routine filling operation. Engines were not on and there was no apparent heat source." Other Tweets mention a "bang" sound before the fire, and that SpaceX "have not ruled out" the possibility that something struck the rocket.

10 Percent of the World's Wilderness Has Been Lost Since 1990s ( 150

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Live Science: Wilderness areas around the world have experienced catastrophic declines over the last two decades, with one-tenth of global wilderness lost since the 1990s, according to a new study. Since 1993, researchers found that a cumulative wilderness area twice the size of Alaska and half the size of the Amazon has been stripped and destroyed. The shrinking wilderness is due, in part, to human activity such as mining, logging, agriculture, and oil and gas exploration. The researchers said their findings underscore the need for international policies to recognize the value of wilderness and to protect wilderness areas from the threats they face. Central Africa and the Amazon saw the most wilderness decline, the researchers found. Of the roughly 1.27 million square miles (3.3 million square kilometers) of global wilderness lost, the Amazon accounted for nearly one-third, and 14 percent of the world's wilderness was lost from Central Africa, according to the study. The researchers determined that only 11.6 million square miles (30.1 million square km) of wilderness is left, which equates to just 20 percent of the Earth's total land mass. The study was published online in the journal Current Biology.

Video Shows How Bacteria Invade Antibiotics And Transform Into Superbugs ( 87

guises writes: By making a giant petri dish out of bands of increasingly antibiotic-laced agar, a couple of microbiologists have created a means to watch bacterial evolution as it happens: colonies introduced to the dish expand to fill the areas in which they can survive and then mutate and spread into the areas in which they can not. It takes only eleven days for the bacteria to evolve sufficient resistance to survive in an area with a thousand times the concentration of antibiotics that would have killed the original colonies. And it makes a pretty neat video.

Smartphones Can Steal 3D Printing Plans By Listening To The Printer ( 45

An anonymous reader quotes a report from FedScoop: Smartphones equipped with special programming can become a sophisticated spy sensor capable of stealing designs from a 3D printer -- just by measuring the noise and electromagnetic radiation the printer emits. Researchers from the University of Buffalo recently discovered how a smartphone on a bench about 8 inches away from a 3D printer could allow someone to reconstruct a simple object being printed with 94 percent accuracy. Complex objects can be copied with 90 percent accuracy. The attack basically reverse-engineers the printing blueprint by reconstructing the movement of the nozzle from the electromagnetic and acoustic energy it generates while working. Most information came from electromagnetic waves, which accounted for about 80 percent of the useful data. The remaining 20 percent came from acoustic waves. Wenyao Xu, assistant professor in the University of Buffalo's Department of Computer Science and Engineering, is the lead author of the study, "My Smartphone Knows What You Print: Exploring Smartphone-Based Side-Channel Attacks Against 3D Printers," which will be presented at the Association for Computing Machinery's 23rd annual Conference on Computer and Communications Security next month in Austria.

Google's DeepMind Develops New Speech Synthesis AI Algorithm Called WaveNet ( 46

Artem Tashkinov writes: Researchers behind Google's DeepMind company have been creating AI algorithms which could hardly be applied in real life aside from pure entertainment purposes -- the Go game being the most recent example. However, their most recent development, a speech synthesis AI algorithm called WaveNet, beats the two existing methods of generating human speech by a long shot -- at least 50% by Google's own estimates. The only problem with this new approach is that it's very computationally expensive. The results are even more impressive considering the fact that WaveNet can easily learn different voices and generate artificial breaths, mouth movements, intonation and other features of human speech. It can also be easily trained to generate any voice using a very small sample database. Quartz has a voice demo of Google's current method in its report, which uses recurrent neural networks, and WaveNet's method, which "uses convolutional neural networks, where previously generated data is considered when producing the next bit of information." The report adds, "Researchers also found that if they fed the algorithm classical music instead of speech, the algorithm would compose its own songs."
The Internet

Who Is Getting Left Behind In the Internet Revolution? ( 112

Reader sciencehabit writes: The internet is often hailed as a liberating technology. No matter who you are or what kind of country you live in, your voice can be amplified online and heard around the world. But that assumes that people can get on the internet in the first place. Research has shown that poverty and remoteness can prevent people from getting online, but a new study out today also shows that just belonging to a politically marginalized group can translate to poorer access. The study, published online today in Science, provides the first global map of the people being left behind by the internet revolution. Mapping the internet is hard. Although it is true that every computer with a connection has a real-world location, no one actually knows where they all are. Rather than being organized top-down, the world's computers are connected to each other by a bushy, redundant network of servers. Each country builds and maintains its own infrastructure for connecting citizens to the wider internet. The decision to expand and maintain the infrastructure in one region and not another is up to those in power. And therein lies the problem: Ethnic and religious minorities who are excluded from their country's political process may also be systematically excluded from the global internet.

AAPS Doctors Run Survey On Hillary Clinton's Health ( 629

schwit1 PR Newswire: Concerns about Hillary Clinton's health are "serious -- could be disqualifying for the position of President of the U.S.," say nearly 71% of 250 physicians responding to an informal internet survey by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). About 20% said concerns were "likely overblown, but should be addressed as by full release of medical records." Only 2.7% responded that they were "just a political attack; I have confidence in the letter from her physician and see no cause for concern." While more than 81% were aware of her history of a concussion, only 59% were aware of the cerebral sinus thrombosis, and 52% of the history of deep venous thrombosis. More than 78% said the health concerns had received "not enough emphasis" in the media, and only 2.7% that there had been "too much emphasis." Nearly two-thirds said that a physician who had a concern about a candidate's fitness to serve for health reasons should "make the concerns known to the public." Only 11% said a physician should "keep silent unless he had personally examined the patient," and 10% that the candidate's health was "off limits for public discussion." A poll of 833 randomly selected registered voters by Gravis Marketing showed that nearly half (49%) were not aware of the "well documented major health issues that Hillary Clinton has." Nearly three-fourths (74%) were unaware of Bill Clinton's statement that Hillary suffered a "terrible" concussion requiring "six months of very serious work to get over." The majority (57%) thought that candidates should release their medical records.

North Korea Conducts Fifth Nuclear Test -- The Largest One Yet ( 243

TMB writes: As reported by CNN, North Korea has conducted its 5th nuclear test, the largest yet at 10 kilotons. Before the test was reported, Slashdot reader hcs_$reboot reported: A magnitude 5.3 earthquake has been detected in North Korea, amid reports the country had been preparing for its fifth nuclear test. South Korea's Yonhap news agency said it had been an "artificial quake." The U.S. Geological Survey said the tremor had been detected in the north-east of North Korea, close to a known nuclear test site. The earthquake occurred close to the surface, the USGS said. The shallow depth and precise timing of the quake suggests it was man-made. North Korea says it has tested a nuclear warhead and that the test showed the warhead "has been standardized to be able to be mounted on strategic ballistic rockets."

Today Marks The 50th Anniversary of 'Star Trek' ( 204

Dave Knott writes: Today marks the 50th anniversary of the first television broadcast of Star Trek. The first episode of the science fiction series was aired on September 8, 1966. From its humble beginnings, Star Trek has gone on to become one of the best-loved and most successful television concepts of all time, an enduring pop culture touchstone that changed science fiction forever and spawned multiple series and movies that continue to this day. What does Star Trek mean to you? Are you a trekkie/trekker? What are your best memories of the series, and how has it affected your life?

NASA Launches OSIRIS-REx Spacecraft To Intercept Asteroid ( 36

NASA has successfully launched the OSIRIS-REx space probe on Thursday, which aims to take a sample of asteroid Bennu and return to Earth. CNN reports: "The probe is scheduled to arrive at Bennu in August 2018. For months it will hang out -- take pictures, make scans of the asteroid's surface and create a map. Then in July 2020, OSIRIS-REx wil unfurl its 11-foot-long (3.35-meter) robot arm called TAGSAM and make contact with Bennu's surface for about five seconds. During those seconds, the arm will use a blast of nitrogen gas to kick up rocks and dust and then try to snag a sample of the dust and store it. NASA hopes to get at least 2 ounces (60 grams) and maybe as much as 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) of asteroid dust and small rocks. OSIRIS-REx heads home in March 2021 and arrives back at Earth on September 24, 2023, but it won't land. In a bit of Hollywood-style drama, it will fly over Utah and drop off the capsule holding the asteroid sample. A parachute will guide the capsule to the ground at the Utah Test and Training Range in Tooele County." OSIRIS-REx is an acronym for the objectives of the mission: Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification and Security-Regolith Explorer. It spells the name of the Egyptian god Osiris. The report adds that while the mission is a first for NASA, it is not a first for mankind. "Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft brought back a small sample of asteroid Itokawa dust in 2010."

Sri Lanka, Once Severely Affected By Malaria, Now Absolutely Free Of It ( 30

The World Health Organization has declared Sri Lanka free of malaria, calling it a "remarkable public health achievement" for the Indian Ocean island, which was once the most affected nations in the world. The Hindu reports:Sri Lanka has become malaria-free. On September 5, the World Health Organisation officially recognised this huge public health achievement. The WHO certifies a country so when the chain of local transmission is interrupted for at least three consecutive years; the last reported case was in October 2012. With no local transmission reported, Sri Lanka's priority since October 2012 has been to prevent its return from outside, particularly from malaria-endemic countries such as India. There were 95, 49 and 36 cases reported in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively, all contracted outside Sri Lanka. In a commendable initiative, Sri Lanka adopted a two-pronged strategy of targeting both vector and parasite, undertaking active detection of cases and residual parasite carriers by screening populations irrespective of whether malaria symptoms were present.

A Small Asteroid Buzzed Earth Wednesday, But Everything's Cool ( 94

An anonymous reader writes: If the Earth were a person, it might have felt a sudden wind rustling its hair when a small asteroid whizzed past the planet on Wednesday. The asteroid, saddled with the name 2016 RB1, is a new discovery. Astronomers just noticed it on September 5 thanks to the keen eye of a telescope from the Catalina Sky Survey in Tucson, Arizona. What makes 2016 RB1 so sneaky is its small size. It's only about 25 to 50 feet (7 to 16 meters) in diameter. It passed within just 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers) of Earth, which NASA helpfully translates into 1/10th the distance from Earth to the moon. In terms of the massive size of the galaxy, that qualifies as a relatively close shave. An animated GIF of the flyby shows a tiny white dot moving against a grainy space background. The asteroid's trajectory kept it well out of the way of any satellites, and the planet was never in any danger.

It's Official: You're Lost In a Directionless Universe ( 213

Reader sciencehabit writes: Ever peer into the night sky and wonder whether space is really the same in all directions or if the cosmos might be whirling about like a vast top? Now, one team of cosmologists has used the oldest radiation there is, the afterglow of the big bang, or the cosmic microwave background (CMB), to show that the universe is 'isotropic,' or the same no matter which way you look: There is no spin axis or any other special direction in space. In fact, they estimate that there is only a one-in-121,000 chance of a preferred direction -- the best evidence yet for an isotropic universe. That finding should provide some comfort for cosmologists, whose standard model of the evolution of the universe rests on an assumption of such uniformity.

We Risk Programming Inequality into Our DNA ( 367

An anonymous reader writes:Imagine having a chip in your brain to boost your concentration, or pumping artificial blood into your veins to improve stamina. With gene editing, this may be possible. Scientists are pioneering the ability to tweak our DNA to wipe out disease and maybe even allow us to choose desirable traits in our unborn children, like height or intelligence. None of these technologies have moved out of the lab, but Americans are already uncomfortable with them. In a survey from Pew Research Center, almost half said they wouldn't want to edit their baby's genes -- whether it were to combat disease or shop for traits. Nearly 70 percent of survey participants also said they were more worried than enthusiastic about the possibility of synthetic-blood and brain-chip implants. They saw these options as "meddling with nature," even though we've been using technology to enhance our lives for thousands of years.

Star Trek's LCARS Could Become Your Virtual Assistant ( 145

H_Fisher writes: It has arguably inspired many other technological innovations in the fifty years since its premiere, and now another Star Trek-inspired touch could be coming to your device: the voice of Majel Barrett from the Star Trek universe's LCARS computer system. CNET reports: "The voice of LCARS was provided by Majel Barrett, who was married to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Although Barrett sadly passed away in 2008, she took several roles on the show over the years, including nurse Christine Chapel in Star Trek: The Original Series and Betazoid ambassador Lwaxana Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation. According to a tweet by the official Roddenberry account yesterday, this has provided enough phonetic data to perhaps get Barrett's voice appearing in upcoming new 2017 TV series Star Trek: Discovery -- and maybe even a Siri-like virtual assistant."

T-Mobile To Boost Its LTE Speeds To 400 Mbps ( 73

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Next Web: T-Mobile plans to boost its LTE speeds to up to 400 Mbps in the very near future. The Next Web reports: "The company is getting ready to boost its maximum theoretical internet speeds to become the faster carrier in the U.S. by a wide margin. The network will soon support theoretical speeds up to 400 Mbps -- nearly half the speed of Google Fiber. There's a two-pronged approach to the upgrade. First is incorporating 4x4 MIMO (multiple input, multiple output) technology, which will supposedly double the speed from the current 7-40 Mbps customers tend to experience with T-Mobile (about the same as Verizon with LTE-A). This upgrade is available now in 319 cities, although it's a moot point because only the S7 and S7 Edge will be able to use the tech via a software update "later this month." In October, the company will roll out 256 QAM support to the S7 and S7 Edge (and again, more phones later), which increases the amount of bits per transmission. T-Mobile says this will lead to theoretical maximum speeds of 400 Mbps." The Next Web followed-up with T-Mobile to ask about what the real-world speeds would be after the upgrade. The company says "customers can expect to see real world peak speeds of 190 Mbps," which is over four times current peaks speeds, but also far below the theoretical 400 Mbps.

China Plans To Build A Deep-Sea 'Space Station' In South China Sea ( 73

China is ramping up its space efforts, it appears. A Chinese company named KuangChi Science plans to launch balloons from Hangzhou, in eastern China. HuffingtonPost reports: China is stepping up efforts to build a deep-sea underwater 'space station' in the South China Sea. If the plans go ahead, the station would be located 3000 metres below the surface, inhabited by humans, and would be used to hunt for minerals. There are also concerns that it would be used for military purposes in territories that are hotly contested between China and other nations, including the Philippines, Vietnam and Japan. The news comes from a Science Ministry presentation that revealed China's current five-year economic plan (till 2020). Despite no further details or blueprints being made public, the presentation ranked this project as second in a list of 100 science and technology priorities according to Bloomberg.

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