DnB Week In The News – Week of Feb 21 2018

· Guardian – Boston Dynamics is teaching its robot dog to fight back against humans

Boston Dynamics’ well-mannered four-legged machine SpotMini has already proved that it can easily open a door and walk through unchallenged, but now the former Google turned SoftBank robotics firm is teaching its robo-canines to fight back. A newly released video shows SpotMini approaching the door as before, but this time it’s joined by a pesky human with an ice hockey stick. Unperturbed by his distractions, SpotMini continues to grab the handle and turn it even after its creepy fifth arm with a claw on the front is pushed away.

· Bloomberg – Mines Linked to Child Labor Are Thriving in Rush for Car Batteries

The appetite for electric cars is driving a boom in small-scale cobalt production in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where some mines have been found to be dangerous and employ child labor. Production from so-called artisanal mines probably rose by at least half last year, according to the estimates of officials at three of the biggest international suppliers of the metal, who asked not to be named because they’re not authorized to speak on the matter. State-owned miner Gecamines estimates artisanal output accounted for as much as a quarter of the country’s total production in 2017.

· Nat Geo – Maya Artifacts Found In World’s Largest Underwater Cave

Last month, researchers from the Great Maya Aquifer Project announced the discovery of the world’s largest underwater cave system in Yucatán after realizing that two massive cave systems in the Mexican peninsula were connected. Now, they’re unveiling the findings to the public. “This immense cave represents the most important submerged archaeological site in the world,” underwater archaeologist and National Geographic explorer Guillermo de Anda told National Geographic in January when the newly discovered system was announced. “It has more than a hundred archaeological contexts, among which is evidence of the first settlers of America, as well as the extinct fauna and, of course, of the Maya culture.”

· Fox – Secret to Great Pyramid’s near perfect alignment possibly found

Though slightly lopsided, the towering, Great Pyramid of Giza is an ancient feat of engineering, and now an archaeologist has figured out how the Egyptians may have aligned the monument almost perfectly along the cardinal points, north-south-east-west — they may have used the fall equinox. “The builders of the Great Pyramid of Khufu aligned the great monument to the cardinal points with an accuracy of better than four minutes of arc, or one-fifteenth of one degree,” wrote Glen Dash, an engineer who studies the Giza pyramids, in a paper published recently in the Journal of Ancient Egyptian Architecture.

· Gizmodo – Half the DNA on the NYC Subway Matches No Known Organism 

The results of a massive new DNA sequencing project on the New York City subway have just been published. And yup, there’s a lot of bacteria on the subway—though we know most of it is harmless. What’s really important, though, is what we don’t know about it. The PathoMap project, which involved sampling turnstiles, benches, and keypads at 466 stations, found 15,152 life-forms in total, half of which were bacterial. The Wall Street Journal has created a fun, interactive microbial map of the subway out of the data, showing where on the lines the bacteria “associated with” everything from mozzarella cheese to staph infections was found.

· USA Today – Trump takes executive action to ban bump stocks that increase weapons’ firepower

President Trump signed a memorandum instructing the attorney general to regulate the use of bump stocks, effectively banning the use of the devices that can allow rifles to mimic automatic weapons.Trump made the announcement at a Medal of Valor ceremony at the White House for firefighters and police officers — some of whom had intervened in shooting incidents.

· USA Today – Switzerland makes it illegal to boil a lobster

When it comes to cooking fresh lobster, the Swiss are now saying: We feel your pain. A law takes effect March 1 that bans the common cooking method of tossing a live lobster into a pot of boiling water, quickly killing the tasty crustacean. That practice is being outlawed because the Swiss say it’s cruel and lobsters can sense pain. The first such national legislation of its kind in the world calls for a more humane death for lobsters: “rendering them unconscious” before plunging them into scalding water. Two methods are recommended: electrocution or sedating the lobster by dipping it into saltwater and then thrusting a knife into its brain.

· Gaurdian – Breakthrough as scientists grow sheep embryos containing human cells

Advance brings us closer to growing transplant organs inside animals or being able to genetically tailor compatible organs, say researchers In 2016, almost 460 people in the UK died waiting for transplant organs to become available. Growing human organs inside other animals has taken another step away from science-fiction, with researchers announcing they have grown sheep embryos containing human cells. Scientists say growing human organs inside animals could not only increase supply, but also offer the possibility of genetically tailoring the organs to be compatible with the immune system of the patient receiving them, by using the patient’s own cells in the procedure, removing the possibility of rejection.

· Laser scanning reveals ‘lost’ ancient Mexican city ‘had as many buildings as Manhattan’

Groundbreaking lidar scanning reveals the true scale of Angamuco, built by the Purépecha from about 900AD. Researchers say it is a high-tech laser mapping technique that is rewriting the textbooks at an unprecedented rate. The approach, known as light detection and ranging scanning (lidar) involves directing a rapid succession of laser pulses at the ground from an aircraft.  The time and wavelength of the pulses reflected by the surface are combined with GPS and other data to produce a precise, three-dimensional map of the landscape. Crucially, the technique probes beneath foliage – useful for areas where vegetation is too dense for travel.

· Wired – Lab-Grown Meat Is Coming, Whether You Like It or Not

Scientists have been culturing meat in labs for years, but Just and other startups like Finless Foods, which is growing fish meat, have been feverishly pursuing this so-called “clean meat” of late. Just is chasing a cultured chorizo and a cultured nugget in addition to the foie gras. And Josh Tetrick of JUST labs a controversial food company formerly known as Hampton Creek, whose entire board quit last year. claims his startup has finally made the process cost-effective enough to take to market: At the end of this year, he says, Just will officially introduce an as yet undisclosed lab-grown meat, the first time the stuff will hit shelves.

· Daily Mail – Scientists detect more than 200 earthquakes in just 10 DAYS after warning that magma below the surface is showing signs of strain

Latest swarm began Feb 8, about 8mi northeast of West Yellowstone, Montana. As of February 18, the scientists say they’ve detected more than 200 quakes .Still, experts say the activity is ‘relatively weak,’ and alert level remains normal

· WSJ – South Korean Cryptocurrency Regulator Found Dead at Home

A South Korean official who guided Seoul’s regulatory clampdown on cryptocurrencies was found dead on Sunday, according to a government spokesman. Jung Ki-joon, 52, was head of economic policy at the Office for Government Policy Coordination. He helped coordinate efforts to create new legislation aimed at suppressing cryptocurrency speculation and illicit activity, the spokesman said. Semiofficial news agency Yonhap reported that Mr. Jung was presumed to have suffered a heart attack and police had opened an investigation into the cause of death. Yonhap also reported that Mr. Jung was found at home. The government spokesman said later that “he died from some unknown cause. He passed away while he was sleeping and [his] heart [had] already stopped beating when he was found dead.”

· Longview News Journal – Jefferson declares itself state ‘Bigfoot capital’

A proclamation last week by Jefferson Mayor Carey Heaster Jr. recognizes his city as the “official Bigfoot capital of Texas.” The proclamation signed Monday states: “Numerous Marion County residents have reported multiple sightings of mysterious Bigfoot-like creatures in and around Jefferson for decades.” It also recognizes Jefferson as the “geographical epicenter” of Bigfoot sightings. The idea for the proclamation came from Texas Bigfoot Conference founder Craig Woolheater, who hosts the annual conference in downtown Jefferson each October.

· Truth In Media – Fmr. CIA Director Admits the U.S. Interferes in Foreign Elections

After the federal indictment of 13 Russian citizens accused of conspiracy to defraud the US, former Bill Clinton-era CIA director James Woolsey took to the media to criticize Russia and frame the narrative surrounding alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election— but in the process, he ended up admitting that the United States meddles in foreign elections “only for good cause and in the interest of democracy.” After Woolsey declared the dangers of an “expansionist Russia” and saying that the nation “has a larger cyber-army than its standing army,” Fox News host Laura Ingraham asked the former CIA chief:  “Have we ever tried to meddle in other countries’ elections?” The response by the former head of the CIA was surprisingly candid: “Oh probably, but it was for the good of the system…” said Woolsey, bringing up examples of US interference in Europe during the late 40’s to “stop the communists from taking over.”

· Movieweb.com – Black Panther Audience Loses It When Fifty Shades Plays Instead

A packed movie theater in Atlanta was treated to the first 10 minutes of Fifty Shades Freed instead of Black Panther and the crowd was not amused. One Marvel fan just keeps shouting, “No!” over and over again. The two movies could not be more different than each other and one has to wonder how a mix up like that could ever happen in the first place, especially on the opening night of Black Panther, a movie that people have been looking forward to for months. One moviegoer took to social media to share a few videos from the first 10 minutes of Fifty Shades Freed with a crowd both laughing and angry at the same time.

· Express UK – Human speech will be replaced by thought communication by 2050, claims expert

Human speech will become a thing of the past by the year 2050, by which time we will communicate by thought via a computer-generated collective consciousness, it has been claimed.

‘It is very similar to the work of Elon Musk – it is an open source platform for humanity.’ Said Marko Karjnovic as he unveiled his ideas at The Museum of the Future as part of the World Government Summit in Dubai. The Hybrid Intelligence Biometric Avatar (HIBA), will understand the feelings of people connected to it, take on their personas, exchange information with them and even become part of the fabric of their brains. He suggested the technology would enable people to use “brain to brain communication” anywhere on the planet.HIBA would work in much the same way as existing AI applications such as Siri and Alexa, but on a much grander and more sophisticated scale

· C-Net – Science takes a step toward real-life lightsabers

A new state of matter makes the sci-fi sword seem possible. It could also give us computers nearly as fast as the speed of light. Researchers from MIT and Harvard in 2013 managed to get photons, which are basically particles of light, to play nice with each other and create a new state of matter. Harnessing such a breakthrough could lead to actual quantum leaps in computing and perhaps even give us a real-world lightsaber.  Now the same team has done it again. This time they observed not just photon pairs, but also groups of three photons interacting to make another completely new kind of photonic matter

· NPR – Did Pox Virus Research Put Potential Profits Ahead of Public Safety?

In the brave new world of synthetic biology, scientists can now brew up viruses from scratch using the tools of DNA technology. The latest such feat, published last month, involves horsepox, a cousin of the feared virus that causes smallpox in people. Critics charge that making horsepox in the lab has endangered the public by basically revealing the recipe for how any lab could manufacture smallpox to use as a bioweapon. The scientist who did the work, David Evans of the University of Alberta in Canada, has said his team had to synthesize horsepox because they wanted to study the virus and there was no other way to get it. There was another possibility, NPR has learned. Evans could have done research on a specimen of horsepox collected from the wild, but he didn’t pursue that alternative.

· Independent – Cow escapes on way to slaughterhouse, smashes through metal fence, breaks arm of man trying to catch her then swims to safety on island in lake

A cow has been living alone on an island, attacking anyone who comes near, after staging a miraculous escape on its way to a slaughterhouse. The animal made its bid for safety last month after it refused to get into a truck taking it to be killed for meat. Instead it rammed a metal fence before making a dash for the nearby Lake Nysa, south Poland. After the cow’s owner, known only as Mr Lukasz, attempted to get it back to the farm, the cow broke one of his worker’s arms, It then entered the water and swam to one of the islands in the middle of the lake. Mr Lukasz said he even saw it dive underwater on its way. After a week of trying and failing to get the cow back, Mr Lukasz gave up and began making sure it was fed enough food to stay alive instead.





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