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Apple & other companies want Calif. DMV to change autonomous vehicle rules

Sun, 04/30/2017 - 04:55

Dozens of tech companies, including Apple, Google’s Waymo and Tesla, have expressed their desire to see some changes in the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ self-driving car policies.

Apple, Waymo, Tesla and other companies like Uber, Lyft, Toyota and Ford recently submitted comments to the California DMV, which were then shared online. The suggestions range from deciding when a driver should take control of the self-driving vehicle to recommending paying passengers to be allowed to ride in autonomous vehicles.

Waymo, the self-driving car subsidiary of Google, said, “We’re encouraged by the DMV efforts to develop regulations for autonomous vehicles that would help California remain a leader in the development of self-driving cars. Waymo looks forward to deploying this life-saving technology in the state.”

Apple’s director of product integrity Steve Kenner said in a statement that the Cupertino-based tech giant wanted the DMV to make changes to three of its policies that relate to disengagement reporting, definitions and testing of vehicles without safety drivers.

The California DMV told reports that it is reviewing the public comments on the proposed self-driving vehicle regulations. In case it decides to make changes to the existing regulations, it will hold a fifteen-day public comment period to allow individuals and companies to weigh in.

Business: Auto SectorTechnology: AppleTechnology

Uber self-driving car chief stepping away from leadership role

Sat, 04/29/2017 - 04:04

Anthony Levandowski, the controversial chief of Uber’s self-driving car project, is reportedly stepping away from the leadership role due to a lawsuit filed by Google’s autonomous car unit Waymo.

Levandowski announced that he was stepping away from the leadership role and would no longer be working on projects related to LiDAR technology and will instead concentrate on security and safety.

Announcing his decision, he added, “Making this organizational change means I will have absolutely no oversight over or input into our LiDAR work. Going forward, please make sure not to include me in meetings or email threads related to LiDAR, or ask me for advice on the topic.”

Waymo’s lawsuit alleges that Levandowski, who played a key role in Waymo’s success in developing the autonomous car technology, stole thousands of technical files from its servers and left the company.

Levandowski later founded his own autonomous truck business called Otto, which was later acquired by ride-hailing firm Uber. The Google subsidiary alleges that Uber’s autonomous cars are based on its stolen technology.

Business: Technology NewsCompanies: Uber

Abnormally high number of humpbacks dying off Atlantic coast: report

Fri, 04/28/2017 - 04:46

The U.S. National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Marine Fisheries’ latest report has revealed that humpback whales have been dying in abnormally large numbers along the Atlantic Coast.

The federal agency declared it an unusual mortality event that is called when higher-than-typical number of marine creatures expires for unfamiliar reasons. More details are due on Thursday this week.

Meanwhile a 43-foot-long Sei whale washed up near the North Surf Road beach. It was first spotted in the morning hours on Wednesday. The dead whale’s body was in such a bad state that officials couldn’t identify it right away.

Officials couldn’t determine the cause of the whale’s death. However, some believe that it might have been bit by a fast-moving ship.

A separate juvenile humpback was found dead in the shallow water of the Delaware Bay. It was apparently the fourth stranded whale in Delaware waters so far this year. Four another whales have stranded off the coast of Virginia and last fall there was a stranding off Long Island.

General: Science NewsResearch

Researchers record baby humpback whales 'whispering' to their mothers

Thu, 04/27/2017 - 04:19

Revealing a previously unknown survival technique of whales, a new study found that newborn humpbacks and their mothers whisper to each other to escape potential predators.

The recordings of the whispers in the form of the infant whales’ quiet grunts and squeaks were made with devices attached to the baby whales, which are typically nearly 5 meters long at the time of their birth.

During an annual migration to food-rich waters of the Antarctic region, newborn whales have to travel with their mothers for thousands of miles. Exactly what occurs during this period is still a mystery.

Simone Videsen from Denmark’s Aarhus University said, “These early life stages of wild whales are so elusive because they're an aquatic animal. We can't follow them around all the time to see what they're doing.”

The new study suggested that the baby humpbacks whisper in really low sounds because they do not want any unwanted listeners, such as killer whales which can predate on these calves.

The discovery of the existence of the previously unknown survival technique of the humpback whales was detailed in the most recent edition of the journal Functional Ecology.

General: Science NewsResearch

Waymo offering free rides to people in its self-driving minivans

Wed, 04/26/2017 - 04:18

Google Inc.’s self-driving car unit Waymo is offering free rides in its autonomous minivans to people in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area of Arizona, the company has confirmed.

Waymo announced that it’s offering its services to members of the public as part of its “early rider” program. The program is intended on cataloguing how autonomous cars will factor into everyday lives’ of people.

Interested people can sign up on Waymo’s official website, and the company will chose riders depending on the kinds of free trips they want to take as well as their willingness to use autonomous vehicles as their principal mode of haulage.

John Krafcik, chief executive of Waymo, said, “We want as many people as possible to experience our technology, and we want to bring self-driving cars to more communities sooner.”

Krafcik also made it clear that a test driver will be behind the wheel during the ride. However, he insisted that the vehicle will drive without any human intervention as long as possible.

The free rides are currently available only to residents of Phoenix and its surrounding towns, such as Chandler, Gilbert and Tempe.

Technology: TechnologyCompanies: GoogleWaymo

AT&T releasing updates for Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 Plus

Tue, 04/25/2017 - 03:55

U.S. network provider AT&T is reportedly rolling out its first software update for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus smartphones.

According to a fresh report by the Android Soul, the 5.8-inch new smartphone has started receiving the firmware build G950USQU1AQD9, while the bigger 6.2-inch device is set to get the firmware build G955USQU1AQD9.

The updates are being distributed over-the-air (OTA) and AT&T has plans to roll out the updates in stages. Thus, the mobile network provider will likely need multiple days to complete the rollout. The updates are approximately 300MB in size each.

While the contents of the new updates are presently unknown, experts believe that AT&T is likely distributing new security patches to the Galaxy S8 and the Galaxy S8 Plus smartphones.

The updates are being distributed over-the-air (OTA) and AT&T has plans to roll out the updates in stages. Thus, the mobile network provider will likely need multiple days to complete the rollout. The updates are approximately 300MB in size each.

Meanwhile, IHS Markit has estimated that the Galaxy S8 has cost South Korea-based Samsung $307.50 to build. The unconfirmed figure is significantly bigger that the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge’s estimated costs of $255.10 and $271.20, respectively.

Technology: Technology NewsCompanies: Samsung

Mobile phones can cause brain tumours: Italian court rules

Sat, 04/22/2017 - 04:12

In a landmark ruling, an Italian court has acknowledged and ruled that excessive, work-related use of a mobile phone can cause brain tumour.

The court’s ruling came after a plaintiff identified as Roberto Romeo alleged that excessive, work-related use of mobile phones caused him to develop a tumour in the brain.

Romeo, 57, had testified that his work duties forced him to use a mobile phone for 3-4 hours of each working day for more than fifteen years.

Lawyers Stefano Bertone and Renato Ambrosio, who represented Romeo in the court, said, “For the first time in the world, a court has recognised a causal link between inappropriate use of a mobile phone and a brain tumour.”

The court agreed with his claim and awarded the 57-year-old a state-funded pension of around £400 per month.

The ruling was made on 11th of April but only made public on Thursday. The ruling is, however, subject to a possible appeal.

General: HealthRegion: Italy

Duluth to host ‘March for Science’ on Saturday

Fri, 04/21/2017 - 03:59

Duluth’s nonpartisan “March for Science” will be one of more than four hundred marches that are scheduled to take place across the nation on Saturday in support of science.

On Earth Day, hundreds of marchers will take to the Lakewalk to express their support for science. The march will start with a speaker expressing views on the significance of science in the community at 10 a.m. at Leif Erikson Park.

Participants will march along the Lakewalk to the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center’s adjacent lawn, where more speakers will speak and conclude the program.

Geologist Alex Steiner, a co-organizer of the march, said, “It’s important to have informed decisions, especially on things that we have data for. We see this acceptance of ignorance and denial of science in our current political arena from both sides. It's not really acceptable anymore…”

Steiner also criticized funding cuts to various science programs for reasons that just are not true. It may be noted here that President Donald Trump’s administration recently announced notable cuts to various scientific research programs, including climate change programs.

General: Science NewsPeople: Donald Trump

Americans are more distressed than ever before: study

Wed, 04/19/2017 - 04:11

A new study has revealed that more Americans than ever before are in the grip of stress, depression and anxiety; and several of them are unable to get required help.

A team of experts from NYU Langone Medical Center made an analysis of Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data and came to know that 3.4 per cent of the American adults or more than 8.3 million adult people in the United States are now suffering from serious psychological distress, called SPD.

The condition of SPD is characterized by feelings of sadness, restlessness and worthlessness hazardous enough to impair the victim’s well-being. Previously, 3 per cent or less of the U.S. population was found affected by SPD.

Lead researcher Judith Weissman, a research manager in the department of medicine at NYU, said, “Based on our data, we estimate that millions of Americans have a level of emotional functioning that leads to lower quality of life and life expectancy.”

The study also revealed that access to needed health care services have deteriorated for people suffering from SPD over the past few years.

The findings of the new study, which are based on the National Health Interview Survey, appeared in the most recent edition of the journal Psychiatric Services.

General: HealthResearchCompanies: CDC

Scientists piece together first-ever image of black hole

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 04:01

Using an Earth-sized telescope, an international team of scientists may have snapped the first-ever image of a black hole.

Project manager Michael Bremer, an astronomer with the International Research Institute for Radio Astronomy (IRAM), explained that they created a network of telescopes spanning from Hawaii to Spain to Antarctica by combining eight observatories like the pieces of a massive mirror.

The earth-sized virtual telescope, dubbed the Event Horizon Telescope, was used to capture an image of Sagittarius A*, a massive black hole at the center of our galaxy – the Milky Way.

Bremer said in a statement, “Instead of building a telescope so big that it would probably collapse under its own weight, we combined eight observatories like the pieces of a giant mirror. This gave us a virtual telescope as big as Earth — about 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) is diameter.”

Scientists know for a long time that a black hole exists at the center of the Milky Way. But, they could never capture a precise image of the black hole. However, the EHT project is expected to provide a clear image showing the black hole’s surrounding ring and its shadow.

Theoretical astronomy suggests that a black hole absorbs anything that comes too close to it, including planets, debris and even light. Gravity & light-sucking monster Sagittarius A* weighs as much as four million suns.

General: Science NewsResearch

Dr. Mark Wainberg dies after struggling in waters off Bal Harbour, Fla.

Sun, 04/16/2017 - 06:08

Famed microbiologist Dr. Mark Wainberg, who played a crucial role in the fight against HIV and AIDS, passed away earlier this week. He was 71.

Dr. Wainberg’s son Zev told reporters that his father died on Tuesday after struggling in the rough waters off Bal Harbour, Florida. He was swimming when rough surfs drowned him. His son managed to pull him to shore.

CPR was performed before the arrival of paramedics, and he was transported to Aventura Hospital in Aventura, where doctors declared him dead.

The AIDS pandemic was taking thousands of lives in the 1980s when Dr. Wainberg started to study the virus that causes AIDS -- HIV. Working with Dr. Robert Gallo, he found how certain cells and antibodies grow the virus.

In 1989, he found that a new antiviral drug dubbed 3TC or Lamivudine was effective against HIV. The drug soon became a key part of the AIDS cocktail of drugs that is still used to treat AIDS patients.

In an interview, he said, “It’s no longer enough to simply have said, ‘OK, we’ve done a great job and we’ve transformed HIV from a lethal sentence that used to kill everybody into a chronic, manageable disease,’? We want to get to zero.”

In addition to his son Zev, Dr. Wainberg is survived by his wife Susan Hubschman; another son, Jonathan; and three grandchildren.

General: HealthRegion: United States

Microsoft patches NSA’s leaked Windows hacks

Sun, 04/16/2017 - 04:19

Microsoft Corp. has claimed that it has already patched the security holes in Windows that were allegedly exploited by a group called “The Shadow Brokers” earlier this year.

The hacking tools that were probably originated from the NSA were recently released online, and the software giant was capable of testing and confirming patches that are available for all supported versions of operating system.

Microsoft’s responsed quickly after a number of security researchers raised concerns. One of the security experts even advised users of Windows to turn off their computers for the weekend.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden argued that the NSA didn’t warn Microsoft about the leaked security holes. However, a security researcher, known as the grugq, claimed that the NSA might have reported a few bugs themselves.

While the Redmond firm always acknowledges the source of security flaw reports, the grugq noticed that there are no acknowledgements for patches (MS17-010) that were issued in March to fix some of the leaked NSA exploits.

While Microsoft has already patched the exploits; users of older versions of Windows, including XP and Windows Vista, might still be at risk as the software giant will likely not supply any patches for these unsupported operating systems.

Technology: InternetTechnologyCompanies: NASAMicrosoft

Las Vegas to offer clean needles through vending machines

Sat, 04/15/2017 - 03:55

Struggling to fight back soaring heroin and HIV rates, Las Vegas health authorities are betting on a new approach -- offering clean needles in vending machines.

Las Vegas has become the first city in the U.S. to provide addicts with free clean needles through vending machines; and officials believe that the new effort will help reduce transmission of potentially deadly diseases like HIV and hepatitis C.

The effort has been made by the Las Vegas Hard Reduction Center’s Trac-B Exchange program, which is known for making harm-reduction approaches.

Announcing the effort, Trac-B Exchange program manager Chelsi Cheatom said, “Anytime someone’s engaging in a behavior that could cause them some potential health side effects, we want to encourage them to reduce their risk.”

However, the free-to-use syringe vending machines are not accessible to anyone walking by. They are only open to clients of Trac-B Exchange.

As per a report by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 1 in every 10 AIDS diagnoses in 2015 was attributed to intravenous use of drugs. Use of heroin among 18-25 years old individuals has doubled over the past decade.

General: HealthRegion: Los Angeles

Nintendo announces new games for Switch

Fri, 04/14/2017 - 03:30

During the most recent Nintendo Direct, the mobile gaming giant showed off a few new game titles that will be available to Nintendo Switch users this year.

In addition to announcing big games like Minecraft and release date for ARMS, Nintendo Direct confirmed that Project Mekuru is coming to Nintendo Switch this summer.

Gamers will be able to play Project Mekuru in a four-player battle mode and the gameplay will include taking over territory on an attractive board by ground-pounding to match tiles to the color of the player’s character.

It may be noted here that Project Mekuru made a brief appearance in a sizzle reel that was shown off at the Switch reveal event in January this year. But very little information was revealed at the time.

NIS also confirmed that its new game “Disgaea 5 Complete” will also be rolled out for Nintendo Switch players on 23rd of May this year.

Technology: GamingTechnology NewsCompanies: Nintendo

Decomposed bat found inside package of salad: officials confirm

Wed, 04/12/2017 - 03:56

Fresh Express is recalling a limited number of units of Organic Marketside Spring Mix, after two consumers in Florida discovered the remains of a decomposed bat inside a package of the salad.

Announcing the recall, Fresh Express only said that some “extraneous animal matter” was discovered by two customers in a 5-ounce container of the salad. Later, authorities revealed that it was a badly decomposed a Mexican free-tailed bat.

The bat was sent to a lab of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) for rabies testing as the animal can sometimes carry the devastating disease. Officials said that the bat was so badly decomposed that it couldn’t be determined whether it had rabies.

Florida health officials evaluated the two consumers who ate the salad from the package in which the decomposed bat was found. None of them exhibited any signs of the disease of rabies.

Officials said in a statement, “In this circumstance, the risk of rabies transmission is considered to be very low, but because it isn’t zero, the two people who ate salad from the package that contained the bat were recommended to begin post-exposure rabies treatment.”

The product being recalled by the company is marketed in a clear container with production code G089B19, best-used-by date of April 14, 2017, and UPC code 6 8113132897 5 on the bottom of the container.

General: HealthCompanies: CDC

Future Google Pixel phones may feature curved screens

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 03:35

Tech giant Google Inc. has plans to introduce a curved screen on the follow-up to its Pixel flagship smartphone that was launched in 2016, according to emerging media reports.

A report from South Korea’s Electronic Times claimed that Google has offered to invest $880 million (1 trillion won) in LG Display Co. in order to secure a stable supply of flexible OLEDs for its next handset.

While many may be surprised by this piece of information, experts said it is not that much astonishing as it seems to be the popular flavor of the year in smartphone design.

For instance, Korean electronics giant Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 smartphone sports a curved screen. Cupertino-based Apple Inc. has reportedly signed a deal with a company to get 160 million curved screens for its next iPhone.

However, it may take some time for Google to get curved screens as its offer is still under consideration by LG Display. Google mayn’t have many other options as Samsung will likely not be able to accommodate additional demand after signing a deal with Apple.

Technology: TechnologyCompanies: GoogleSamsung

Apple upgrades Mac Pros without increasing their starting prices

Sun, 04/09/2017 - 05:01

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple Inc has upgraded its Mac Pro desktop computers by equipping them with faster CPUs, more efficient GPUs and additional memory, while keeping their starting prices at their existing levels.

While Apple hasn’t officially unveiled the new standard configurations of its Mac computers, it showed them on its website earlier this month.

The previous Mac Pro 4-core model now comes equipped with a 6-core Intel Xeon E5 processor that offers 12MB of L3 cache and Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz. The former 6-core Mac Pro model now come equipped withy an 8-core Intel Xeon E5 processor that offers 25MB of L3 cache and Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz.

The new 6-core Mac Pro also comes with the optional 3.0GHz 8-core processor with 25MB of L3 cache or a 2.7GHz twelve-core processor with 30MB of L3 cache. Buyers of the new 8-core model can also upgrade to a 2.7GHz 12-core chip accompanied by 30MB of L3 cache.

In addition, the updated 6-core model gets 16GB of 1866MHz DDR3 ECC memory standard, up from 12GB in the previous model. The 6-core Mac Pro now gets dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs. Both models continue to come equipped with 256 gigabytes of PCIe-based flash storage that can be upgraded to 512GB or 1TB of storage at some additional cost.

Despite the significant enhancements, Mac Pro desktop lineup’s starting prices remained at their existing levels. The six-core and eight-core models of the Mac Pro start at $2,999 and $3,999, respectively.

Technology: TechnologyCompanies: Apple

Waymo couldn’t be more wrong: Uber argues

Sun, 04/09/2017 - 04:14

Ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. continues to insist that the laser sensor technology that is being used in its self-driving cars has nothing to do with Waymo’s allegedly stolen laser sensor technology.

As per new filings in connection with the federal lawsuit alleging the theft of trade secrets, Uber attorneys claimed that Google’s self-driving unit Waymo is using a single-lens Lidar, while Uber is using a four-lens technology.

In the new filings, Uber attorneys wrote, “This fact alone demonstrates the misguided nature of Waymo’s request for ‘extraordinary and drastic relief,’ Waymo could not be more wrong, and Uber’s design could not be more different.”

The dispute started in February when Waymo filed the suit alleging that its former employee Anthony Levandowski stole 14,000 technical files from the company’s servers and launched his autonomous truck business called Otto, which was later acquired by Uber.

Uber called Waymo’s legal action a “baseless attempt” to hold back a competitor.

However, earlier this week, the judge presiding over the case indicated that Waymo’s request for a preliminary injunction might be granted. In that situation, Uber will have to stop testing its autonomous cars.

Technology: TechnologyCompanies: WaymoUber

Samsung to launch Asiana Airlines edition of Galaxy S8 & S8 Plus

Sat, 04/08/2017 - 03:40

South Korean electronics giant Samsung and Asiana Airlines have reportedly signed a deal to launch a special edition of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus that members of the airline will be able to purchase with mileage points.

Samsung will sell nearly 2,000 units of the special edition of the two news flagship phones, and interested airline members will be bale to apply for the devices between 7th of April and 17th of April.

It may be noted here that the aforementioned dates are the same as dates for placing pre-orders for the regular versions of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus.

Members of Korea’s second-largest airline can purchase the smartphones at a discounted price with thirty thousand mileage points. The airline also announced that it would offer more services for customers to allow them to use their mileage going forward.

Meanwhile, Korean analysts have predicted that the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus smartphones will sell well and help the manufacturer reach record profit in the second quarter of current fiscal year.

Companies: NvidiaTechnology: Technology NewsRegion: South Korea

Elon Musk’s new firm to merge human brain with machines

Fri, 04/07/2017 - 03:46

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has founded another tech firm called Neuralink, which aims to create a much more sophisticated artificial intelligence by linking human brains with computers.

Neuralink will focus on using the neural lace technology where humans and machines will be able to interact with each other without using any physical interface.

The so-called neural lace technology works through implantation of electrodes into the brain, which allows people to communicate with machines. Such a blend will allow people to upload as well as download their thoughts as well. It will also improve humans’ cognitive skills in addition to their memory.

Mr. Musk’s SpaceX is meanwhile working on an ambitious plan to take humans to Mars. The new technology would likely be of great help in achieving that goal.

Philip Rhoades, who founded a body-freezing cryonics lab & a brain preserving firm called the Neural Archives Foundation, said, “I am convinced that I need to become a virtual person (via mind uploading) sooner rather than later … I don’t care if your average Facebook user thinks it’s all crazy...”

Electrode implants in the human brain are already used in several people diagnosed with neurological disorders like epilepsy and Parkinson’s. However, these implants aren’t as complex as Mr. Musk envisions them to be.

Companies: SpaceXGeneral: Science NewsPeople: Elon Musk

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