Dudes n Beer – Week In The News March 27 2018

Politico – Zuckerberg expected to testify before House commerce panel

Lawmakers from the House Energy and Commerce committee expect Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before them in the coming weeks, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The hearing could come on April 12, the person said. Multiple congressional committees have invited Zuckerberg to appear in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal.

Facebook is under heavy scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators in the U.S. and abroad amid reports that the Trump-linked data firm secretly accessed and misused data from 50 million Facebook users.

Committee spokeswoman Elena Hernandez told POLITICO that any claims that the hearing is already set for April 12 are “incorrect” and that the exact hearing date remains in flux. “The committee is continuing to work with Facebook to determine a day and time for Mr. Zuckerberg to testify,” she said.

Time – Facebook Admits It May Collect Data About Your Calls and Text Messages. Here’s How to Turn It Off

Just as Facebook has been trying to overcome a user data scandal involving the U.K. political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, the world’s largest social media company is again under fire for practices related to overreaching data collection.

Facebook acknowledged Sunday that for years it has been collecting the call and text history of users who own Android phones. It says it has been doing so with users permission, but it’s not that simple.

People who explicitly “opted in” to allowing Facebook to harvest their cell phone data did so by agreeing to let the company import their phone contacts so they could use Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android phones — but it was not obvious to many users that they were agreeing to have their cell phone records logged when they agreed to import their contacts to use those apps on their Android phones

TechCrunch – Facebook Knows Literally Everything About You

Cambridge Analytica may have used Facebook’s data to influence your political opinions. But why does least-liked tech company Facebook have all this data about its users in the first place?

Let’s put aside Instagram, WhatsApp and other Facebook products for a minute. Facebook has built the world’s biggest social network. But that’s not what they sell. You’ve probably heard the internet saying “if a product is free, it means that you are the product.”

And it’s particularly true in this case because Facebook is the world’s second biggest advertising company in the world behind Google. During the last quarter of 2017, Facebook reported $12.97 billion in revenue, including $12.78 billion from ads.

That’s 98.5 percent of Facebook’s revenue coming from ads.

Ads aren’t necessarily a bad thing. But Facebook has reached ad saturation in the newsfeed. So the company has two options — creating new products and ad formats, or optimizing those sponsored posts.

Facebook has reached ad saturation in the newsfeed

This isn’t a zero-sum game — Facebook has been doing both at the same time. That’s why you’re seeing more ads on Instagram and Messenger. And that’s also why ads on Facebook seem more relevant than ever.

If Facebook can show you relevant ads and you end up clicking more often on those ads, then advertisers will pay Facebook more money.

So Facebook has been collecting as much personal data about you as possible — it’s all about showing you the best ad. The company knows your interests, what you buy, where you go and who you’re sleeping with.

You can’t hide from Facebook

Facebook’s terms and conditions are a giant lie. They are purposely misleading, too long and too broad. So you can’t just read the company’s terms of service and understand what it knows about you.

That’s why some people have been downloading their Facebook data. You can do it too, it’s quite easy. Just head over to your Facebook settings and click the tiny link that says “Download a copy of your Facebook data.”

In that archive file, you’ll find your photos, your posts, your events, etc. But if you keep digging, you’ll also find your private messages on Messenger (by default, nothing is encrypted).

And if you keep digging a bit more, chances are you’ll also find your entire address book and even metadata about your SMS messages and phone calls.

All of this is by design and you agreed to it. Facebook has unified terms of service and share user data across all its apps and services (except WhatsApp data in Europe for now). So if you follow a clothing brand on Instagram, you could see an ad from this brand on Facebook.com.

Messaging apps are privacy traps

But Facebook has also been using this trick quite a lot with Messenger. You might not remember, but the on-boarding experience on Messenger is really aggressive.

Daily Mail – Brian Acton, the WhatsApp co-founder who Mark Zuckerberg helped make a billionaire, urges everyone to DELETE their Facebook profile – but it will take 90 days to wipe

Mark Zuckerberg may have helped make him a billionaire, but that hasn’t stopped Brian Acton from turning against Facebook

The co-founder of Whatsapp has taken to Twitter to urge everyone to delete their Facebook profiles tweeting: ‘It is time. #deletefacebook’.

It takes 90 days for a user’s data to be wiped from the site after deleting it.

The hashtag has been trending amid outrage over Facebook’s links to controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica and its handling of personal data. 

Acton sold Whatsapp to Facebook for $19 billion (£11.4 billion) in 2014 – the largest deal in Facebook’s history. 

The Californian-based entrepreneur’s apparent advocacy for people to remove their profiles comes as Facebook faces pressure to explain its privacy safeguards to regulators and politicians in the US and UK

TechCrunch – Elon Musk deletes own, SpaceX and Tesla Facebook pages after #deletefacebook

Elon Musk apparently wasn’t aware that his company SpaceX had a Facebook page. The SpaceX and Tesla CEO has responded to a comment on Twitter calling for him to take down the SpaceX, Tesla and Elon Musk official pages in support of the #deletefacebook movement by first acknowledging he didn’t know one existed, and then following up with promises that he would indeed take them down.

He’s done just that, as the SpaceX Facebook page is now gone, after having been live earlier today (as you can see from the screenshot included taken at around 12:10 PM ET).

CNN – Police: Austin bomber left 25-minute confession video on phone

Austin, Texas (CNN)As the Austin bomber sensed that authorities were closing in on him on Tuesday night, he took out his cell phone and recorded a 25-minute video confessing to building the explosive devices — but didn’t explain why he targeted his victims, interim Austin police Chief Brian Manley said.

“It is the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his life that led him to this point,” the interim chief said. “I know everybody is interested in a motive and understanding why. And we’re never going to be able to put a (rationale) behind these acts,” Manley told reporters Wednesday night.

The video made by Mark Anthony Conditt, whose string of package bombs killed two people and wounded five in Texas, was found on his cell phone when police recovered his body Wednesday morning. The cell phone was in Conditt’s possession at the time of his death, police said.

Manley says that Conditt did not make any terror- or hate-related references in the confession.

Hours after he made the video, police found Conditt leaving a hotel. They followed him until they made a move to stop him from getting on an interstate and Conditt ended up in a ditch.

Authorities say Conditt, 23, killed himself with his last explosive device.

Federal agents went to the bomber’s home Wednesday while police interviewed his roommates, attempting to determine whether any bombs remained and if Conditt acted alone.

Politico – McConnell backs bill to ease up on hemp cultivation

Mitch McConnell will introduce legislation to allow states to regulate their own hemp industries, a move that could be a boon to the Senate majority leader should he pursue reelection in 2020.

The Kentucky senator announced on Monday he will pursue a bill that would make states the primary regulators of hemp, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture. Hemp growth was once outlawed in the United States, but McConnell worked in 2014 to write a new law allowing pilot programs for it. Since then, Kentucky has become the state with the third-most acres of hemp growth.

“Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky’s agricultural heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future,” McConnell said on Monday at an event at the state Department of Agriculture in Frankfort, Ky. “I believe that we are ready to take the next step and build upon the successes we’ve seen with Kentucky’s hemp pilot program.”

ClickOrlando.com – Motion reveals Pulse gunman’s father was FBI informant

ORLANDO, Fla. – Attorneys for Noor Salman called for a mistrial after they say new details from prosecutors reveal that Pulse gunman Omar Mateen‘s father was an FBI source and is currently under a criminal investigation.

According to a motion filed by the defense, prosecutors sent an email on Saturday that stated Seddique Mateen was a confidential FBI source from 2005 through June 2016.

The email also stated that Seddique Mateen is being investigated for money transfers to Turkey and Pakistan after documents were found in his home on the day of the Pulse attack.

Salman’s attorneys claim the late disclosure of the information prevented them from exploring whether or not Seddique Mateen knew of his son’s plans to attack the nightclub on June 12,

Judge Paul Byron ruled Monday afternoon that the mistrial would not be granted because Salman’s attorneys were not harmed by the government’s failure to disclose that Seddique Mateen was a confidential informant. 

The government email to Salman’s attorneys also states that in 2012, “An anonymous tip indicated that Seddique Mateen was seeking to raise $50,000-$100,000 via a donation drive to contribute toward an attack against the government of Pakistan.”

According to the motion, the defense states that the decision not to give Noor Salman a polygraph was possibly “based on the FBI’s desire to implicate Noor Salman, rather than Seddique Mateen in order to avoid scrutiny of its own ineptitude with the latter.”

The defense also said Seddique’s connection with the FBI played a role in a 2013 investigation into Omar Mateen for allegedly making threats against coworkers.

WGN 9 Chicago – Dylann Roof sentenced to death for church slayings

CHARLESTON, S.C. — A federal jury has sentenced Dylann Roof to death for killing nine black church members in a racially motivated attack in 2015.

Roof, who is white, faced either life in prison or execution for the slayings on June 17, 2015. The Justice Department says he is the first person to get the death penalty for federal hate crimes.

The jury reached a decision after about three hours of deliberations.

Roof was convicted last month of all 33 federal charges against him. During sentencing, he represented himself and told jurors he didn’t have a mental illness. But he didn’t offer any remorse or ask that his life be spared.

Roof told FBI agents he wanted to bring back segregation or perhaps start a race war with the slayings.

ABC – Molecule found in Titan’s atmosphere may form cell-like membranes

Cell membranes important for life

Vinyl cyanide (C2H3CN) is an organic molecule used in the manufacture of plastics and synthetic rubbers. While it is toxic to Earth-based life forms, it is ideally suited to form cell-like membranes in the hydrocarbon-rich environment found on Titan.

Cell membranes are thought to be important for the development of life in a liquid environment because they can create a sealed-off chamber where biochemical reactions can take place more easily than in the more dilute open water setting.

Computer simulations have suggested that vinyl cyanide would behave in a similar fashion in Titan’s environment, to the phospholipid molecules that make up cell membranes found in life on Earth.

However, this behaviour is yet to be demonstrated in the laboratory setting.

Gizmodo – Don’t Bother Trying to Outrun This Creepy Spiderbot That Transforms Into a Rolling Wheel

If the only thing more terrifying to you than a spider is a spider chasing you, you’re not going to want to watch this video of Festo’s latest creation. Using eight reconfigurable legs, the BionicWheelBot can creepily crawl along the ground, but then transform into a wheel and roll at an alarming speed. Someone find me a gigantic rolled up newspaper.

Unlike Boston Dynamic’s creations, such as SpotMini and ATLAS—robots that seem specifically engineered to supplant humanity—Festo’s machines are typically far less intimidating; Robotic flying butterflies and hopping kangaroos are more fascinating than fearsome.

But the BionicWheelBot, inspired by the real-life flic-flac spider that’s known for doing cartwheels to quickly escape a predator, is equal parts technical marvel and terror for anyone who’s uneasy around creepy-crawlies. From a functional point of view, the robot’s ability to transform makes it ideal for tackling various types of terrain. When things get uneven, the BionicWheelBot can slowly tip-toe its way over rocks, debris, and other obstacles with its articulated legs. But when the path ahead is clear, it can convert into a wheel and use two of its legs to quickly propel itself along.


Sky News – Daredevil ‘Mad’ Mike Hughes blasts off in homemade steam rocket

A daredevil inventor who believes the Earth is flat blasted himself around 570 metres (1,875ft) into the air in a rocket before landing with a bump.

‘Mad’ Mike Hughes, 61, a US limo driver from California, was slightly injured when his steam-powered rocket launch ended with a hard landing in the Mojave Desert on Saturday.

“This thing wants to kill you 10 different ways,” said Mr Hughes, who said the crash left him with an aching back.

The daredevil blasted off shortly after 3pm local time with no countdown or fanfare.

Mr Hughes reached an estimated 350mph before activating his parachute.

He was forced to deploy a second chute as his rocket, emblazoned with the words “research flat earth”, was falling too fast.

The daredevil landed bluntly with the rocket’s nose breaking in two places – as it was designed to do.

“Am I glad I did it? Yeah. I guess,” he said.

Riverfront Times – Billy Busch, Anheuser-Busch Heir, Charged With Assaulting 6th Grader at Basketball Practice

Update: 4:30 p.m. Saturday — Statements from Billy Busch’s attorney and the father of the boy he is accused of assaulting have been attached to the bottom of the story.

Billy Busch, great grandson of beer baron Adolphus Busch, is facing an assault charge for allegedly manhandling a sixth grader at his son’s school.

The 58-year-old Busch bloodied the boy’s nose, dragged him by the front of his shirt and pinned him against a wall before the boy’s father pulled him off, according to police reports obtained by the Riverfront Times through a Sunshine request.

Busch is due to appear Wednesday in Creve Coeur municipal court.

Gizmodo – Craigslist Is Shutting Down Its Personals Section

In response to the Senate passing H.R.1865, an anti-online sex trafficking bill that has the potential to seriously harm consenting, adult sex workers, Craigslist has shuttered its all of its personals sections. Even the platonic ones.

Early Friday morning, Craigslist made a public post regarding the bill commonly known as FOSTA (Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) that explained the logic behind their decision to shut down one of the most widely-used subsections of the platform. The message was straight and to the point:

“US Congress just passed HR 1865, “FOSTA”, seeking to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully.

Any tool or service can be misused. We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking craigslist personals offline. Hopefully we can bring them back some day.

To the millions of spouses, partners, and couples who met through craigslist, we wish you every happiness!”

In a post-FOSTA world, websites like Craigslist where sex workers commonly posted ads for their services would be legally responsible for the whatever kinds of illegal interactions users ultimately took part in.

In the most ideal of situations, a bill like FOSTA could play a role in fighting off sex trafficking. In reality though, the bill (as is the case here) is causing a chilling effect that gooses sites like Craigslist to close up at least part of their shop and actively hurts consenting sex workers who rely on the website. As drastic as it may seem, it’s easy to understand the why of Craigslist’s decision to avoid the consequences of FOSTA, but the question now is whether other sites frequently used by sex workers will follow suit.

We’ve reached out to Craigslist founder Craig Newmark for comment and will update if we hear back.


Health Times – Scientist Reveal What Cannabis Does to Your Bones…

A study was published by The Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, conducted by researchers from Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University. This study showed that a chemical in marijuana, known as cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), strengthens bones and accelerates the healing of fractures, without causing any psychotropic effects.
The researcher Yankel Gabet explained:

 “We found that CBD alone makes bones stronger during healing, enhancing the maturation of the collagenous matrix, which provides the basis for new mineralization of bone tissue. After being treated with CBD, the healed bone will be harder to break in the future.”

The team of experts inflicted mild femoral fractures on rats, and then gave an injection of CBD to some of them, while others received CBD plus tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the ingredient that causes the marijuana high). They analyzed the healing between them and the rats that had not received any marijuana chemicals. Their conclusion was that rats injected with CBD experienced the same effects, regardless of the addition of THC.

Gabet added:

“We found CBD alone to be sufficiently effective in enhancing fracture healing. Other studies have also shown CBD to be a safe agent, which leads us to believe we should continue this line of study in clinical trials to assess its usefulness in improving human fracture healing.”

The same team previously found that the body contains receptors which respond to cannabinoid compounds, and they are not confined to the brain. This study showed that the skeleton has cannabinoid receptors which trigger bone formation and prevent bone loss, and the second study just confirmed this.

Global News – Over 150 whales found beached in Australian bay, few survive

More than 150 whales have become stranded in Hamelin Bay in western Australia, and only 15 of them were still alive on Friday, authorities said. The mammals are believed to be short-finned pilot whales.

The stranded animals were first spotted by a commercial fisherman early on Friday morning.

Stranded whales on the beach at Hamelin Bay are seen in this picture obtained from social media, March 23, 2018, in Australia.

NBC News – Joe Biden’s Son Hunter Kicked Out of Navy for Cocaine

ice President Joe Biden’s son was booted from the Navy Reserve because he tested positive for drugs, it was revealed on Thursday.

A U.S. official told NBC News that Hunter Biden was kicked out of the Reserve earlier this year after he failed a drug test.

The official said Biden failed the test in 2013, but he was not kicked out until Feb. 14 of this year. Senior U.S. officials told NBC News that Biden, 44, tested positive for cocaine. The Wall Street Journal first reported the incident.

According to one official, Biden’s dismissal from the Naval Reserves was not made public “because he was treated like any other sailor who fails a drug test and is thrown out of the Navy.” The official said the services do not routinely report such cases.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency – Rabbi says meat from genetically cloned pig could be eaten by Jews – including with milk

A prominent Orthodox rabbi in Israel said that meat from a genetically cloned pig would be kosher for consumption by Jews, including when eaten with dairy products.

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow told Ynet in an interview published Wednesday that cloned meat is not subject to the rules that apply to the consumption of regular meat.

Cherlow is quoted as saying that “cloned meat produced from a pig shall not be defined as prohibited for consumption – including with milk.”

In the interview, Cherlow of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization appears to be talking about meat that is grown artificially in a laboratory from the cells of a pig rather than meat produced from a live pig whose genetic material comes from a cell from which the pig was cloned. However, the article does not quote him as making the distinction.

In the interview ahead of a Bar-Ilan University symposium titled “Science and Halacha” featuring a talk by Cherlow, he advocated rabbinic approval of cloned meat “so that people would not starve, to prevent pollution, and to avoid the suffering of animals.”

When the “cell of a pig is used and its genetic material is utilized in the production of food, the cell in fact loses its original identity and therefore cannot be defined as forbidden for consumption,” Cherlow said. “It wouldn’t even be meat, so you can consume it with dairy.”

In 2013, Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union’s kosher division, said that meat from a lab-grown hamburger could be consumed with dairy products, although halacha, religious Jewish law, forbids it in meat produced from a live animal.

But Genack, who was commenting on the production of an artificial hamburger produced by researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, did not mention pork, whose consumption is one of Judaism’s strongest prohibitions.

Daily Beast – EXCLUSIVE: ‘Lone DNC Hacker’ Guccifer 2.0 Slipped Up and Revealed He Was a Russian Intelligence Officer

Guccifer 2.0, the “lone hacker” who took credit for providing WikiLeaks with stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee, was in fact an officer of Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU), The Daily Beast has learned. It’s an attribution that resulted from a fleeting but critical slip-up in GRU tradecraft.

That forensic determination has substantial implications for the criminal probe into potential collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia. The Daily Beast has learned that the special counsel in that investigation, Robert Mueller, has taken over the probe into Guccifer and brought the FBI agents who worked to track the persona onto his team.

While it’s unclear what Mueller plans to do with Guccifer, his last round of indictments charged 13 Russians tied to the Internet Research Agency troll farm with a conspiracy “for the purpose of interfering with the U.S. political and electoral processes, including the presidential election of 2016.” It was Mueller’s first move establishing Russian interference in the election within a criminal context, but it stopped short of directly implicating the Putin regime.

Mueller’s office declined to comment for this story. But the attribution of Guccifer 2.0 as an officer of Russia’s largest foreign intelligence agency would cross the Kremlin threshold—and move the investigation closer to Trump himself.

Popular Science – Naps are really beneficial. Here’s how to take them.

Sneaking a little midday snooze feels unspeakably indulgent. While the rest of the world is hard at work or dealing with the drudgery of household chores, you’re snuggled up in your own cozy dream world. Whether it last a few minutes or a full REM cycle, boy, does it feel good to get away.

But naps aren’t always full of fuzzy sheep. Sometimes, you can’t drop off, or you fall so deeply asleep that waking feels like fighting the all-consuming pull of a black hole. No wonder scientists are divided on the health benefits of a dozy afternoon.

Friends and family members may suggest tips for hacking your way to better sleep, but what does the science say on napping? And how can you actually do it better? We took a look at the evidence.

The health effects of midday sleep

Ideally, everyone would get a perfect eight hours. We would all wake up like we imagine our ancestors once did, without an alarm, relying on only the pink streamers of early sunlight and the crowing of the birds to guide us back into the waking world. But that rarely happens.

In the United States, 15 million Americans work the graveyard shift, which puts them at higher risk for all manner of disease, including obesity and diabetes. And daytime workers have their own problems, including insomnia, poor time management, and shallow sleep. Artificial light, especially the blue light that illuminates our phones, doesn’t help either—it encourages us to stay up far later than our candle-loving ancestors did.

Naturally, catching up on sleep during the day has been heralded as one solution to our snoozy problems. Startups sell special workplace pods that would allow employees to take 20-minute naps in the office with relative privacy. The Google search “Can I nap at work?” turns up 39 million hits. The results are mostly advice on how to nap, with some legal advice on whether you can demand an in-office siesta (or conversely, if you can fire a napping employee) sprinkled in

Gizmodo – UK Doctors Used Stem Cells to Restore Eyesight in Two People

British doctors have taken a huge step towards curing a common form of age-related chronic eye condition.

Two elderly patients with macular degeneration at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London were given a cutting-edge stem cell therapy as part of a small trial to improve vision for people with sudden and severe loss of vision caused by what’s known as “wet” macular degeneration, in which abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina and macula in the eye. “Wet” macular degeneration is less common than “dry” macular degeneration, but it is a more severe form of the disease that occurs as “dry” macular degeneration progresses. It rarely causes total blindness, but it can cause blurriness and blind spots that make it hard to see clearly. The idea was to replace those diseased eye cells using stem cells that were derived from a human embryo and then inserted into the back of the eye.

Embryonic stem cells are special because they have the ability to become any other cell type in the human body. In this case, they were coaxed into becoming the kind of cell that makes up the retinal pigment epithelium. They were embedded into a scaffold to hold them in place, a living patch of cells only one layer thick. That patch was then surgically inserted under the rods and cones in the back of the eye.

The technique and results of the study were published online in the journal Nature Biotechnology this week.

Defense One – The US Military Is Making Lasers That Create Voices out of Thin Air

Within three years, the Pentagon’s non-lethal weapons lab hopes to have a direct energy weapon that can produce an effect like a haunted walkie-talkie or the biblical burning bush.

Watch the video above and listen carefully for what sounds like a human voice during the second spin. That’s not an audio recording or a broadcast transmitted over radio…it’s not human at all. It’s an auditory effect that’s created by military scientists who manipulated the air with lasers — and it’s the Pentagon’s most interesting idea for stopping people charging checkpoints, or just scaring the crap out of them.

The U.S. military’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program, or JNLWD, is inching closer to a weapon that alters atoms to literally create words from thin air. It’s called the Laser-Induced Plasma Effect and, fingers crossed, they hope to be able to say intelligible words within the next three years.

The weapon is composed of two parts: first, a femtosecond laser, which shoots a burst of focused light for 10−15 seconds, just long enough to rip the electrons from air molecules and create a ball of plasma. (Sometimes called the fourth state of matter, plasma is a field of electrified gas, highly responsive to electromagnetic effects.) The scientists then hit that plasma field with a second nanolaser, tuned to an extremely narrow range of wavelengths. They use that to manipulate the plasma field in a way that can produce light and noise. Get the interaction precise enough and you get something that sounds like a haunted walkie-talkie.

“We’re this close to getting it to speak to us. I need three or four more kilohertz,” says David Law, who runs JNLWD’s technology division. Ultimately, he wants a single system that can produce multiple effects — noise, light, even heat — and replace a wide variety of non-lethal weapons that the military has been testing.

Spaece Daily – Diamond powers first continuous room-temperature solid-state maser

Scientists have built the world’s first continuous room-temperature solid-state maser.

Maser stands for “microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” The device is the older sibling of the laser and operates at microwave frequencies. But while masers came first, the technology never caught on like the laser. That’s mostly because masers require temperatures approaching absolute zero to function.

Now, scientists have designed a maser that works at room temperature.

In 2012, researchers shot laser pulses at room temperature using the organic molecule pentacene. The maser was unable to work continuously, however, as the radiation would have melted the crystal molecules.

The new and improved maser uses a different material, a synthetic diamond grown in a nitrogen-rich atmosphere.

“This breakthrough paves the way for the widespread adoption of masers and opens the door for a wide array of applications that we are keen to explore,” Jonathan Breeze, a material scientist at Imperial College London, said in a news release. “We hope the maser will now enjoy as much success as the laser.”

Scientists used a high-energy electron beam to knock carbon atoms out of the synthetic diamond, leaving behind tiny vacancies in the diamond’s atomic structure. When the diamond is heated, the nitrogen atoms and carbon vacancies pair off, coupling to form what are called nitrogen-vacancy defect centers.

When the diamond is placed inside a sapphire ring and blasted with green laser light, the material produces continuous maser light — all at room temperature.

Traditionally, masers are deployed in deep space communication and radio astronomy technologies, but the latest breakthrough — detailed in the journal Nature — could allow for the use of masers in medical imaging, bomb detection and quantum computing.

CBS – Walmart Launches Small Army Of Autonomous Scanning Robots

Artificial intelligence will soon be put to work at Walmart stores around the country. And it could be a game-changer for retail.

The company is launching a small army of autonomous scanning robots. The robots are 6 feet tall, equipped with an array of lights, cameras, and radar sensors.

It then goes up and down each aisle on its own, at 2 to 3 mph, scanning the shelves for empty spots and also checking the price tags.

Because the robot uses LIDAR and other video cameras, what the robot actually sees is very similar to what a self-driving car sees.

The three dimensional world it sees is detailed enough for the algorithm to figure out what’s missing and needs restocking.

And when an employee standing on a ladder gets in view of the camera, it’ll scan that too.

Martin Hitch is the chief business officer at Bossanova, the San Francisco company that made the robot.

He sais the robot is supposed to drive around obstacles and look for alternative routes.

“We boxed it in with four TV cameras earlier, and it made a decision on the fly as to how to figure out a way around so that it could carry on with its job,” Hitch said. “That’s the most rewarding thing. When it successfully navigates a really complex and dynamic space and just gets on with the job. It’s unobtrusive, it just carries on.”

The robot can scan an aisle in about 90 seconds, a fraction of the time it would take a human to do.

It doesn’t get bored, distracted and presumably, doesn’t make mistakes. The goal: fewer empty shelves, and better selection.

Walmart is testing the robot in 50 stores across four states.

Shopper Deborah Espinoza was at the Walmart store in Milpitas and spoke with an employee about the robot.

“Wow, so it’s like taking somebody’s job?” Espinoza asked.

A Walmart employee said, “It’s not taking someone’s job. It’s designed to improve the job.”

“Oh really?” Espinoza responded.

Espinoza was skeptical. She works at San Jose International Airport and says when automated checkout was introduced there, cashiers were laid off.

Walmart says they are freeing up their associates to provide better customer service. We asked Espinoza if she buys that.

“Uh, no. No,” Espinoza said.

Walmart says it is still too early to say how the robots will impact their workforce.

Tiffany Wilson with Walmart said, “So, it may change the types of jobs, because technology changes the types of jobs that we have. But nothing will replace customer service and human interaction and being with other people, and being serviced, by a human.”

USA Today – World’s largest collection of ocean garbage is twice the size of Texas

The world’s largest collection of ocean garbage is growing.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of plastic, floating trash halfway between Hawaii and California, has grown to more than 600,000 square miles, a study published Thursday found. That’s twice the size of Texas.

Winds and converging ocean currents funnel the garbage into a central location, said study lead author Laurent Lebreton of the Ocean Cleanup Foundation, a non-profit organization that spearheaded the research.

First discovered in the early 1990s, the trash in the patch comes from around the Pacific Rim, including nations in Asia and North and South America, Lebreton said.

The patch is not a solid mass of plastic. It includes about 1.8 trillion pieces and weighs 88,000 tons — the equivalent of 500 jumbo jets. The new figures are as much as 16 times higher than previous estimates.
















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