the unofficial Slashdot digest archive

Alterslash picks up to the best 5 comments from each of the day’s Slashdot stories, and presents them on a single page for easy reading.

'Mushrooms on Mars is a Hoax. Stop Believing Hacks'

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Several science web sites are strongly disputing a China-based journal's claim that time-lapse photos of Mars show growing mushrooms.

TNW Neural headlined their story "Mushrooms on Mars is a hoax — stop believing hack 'scientists'" If you believe those images demonstrate fungus growing on Mars, I'm about to blow your frickin' mind. Check out this pic. You see that? To heck with fungus, that's an entire highway growing out of the sand in front of a moving bus. You can clearly see that the Earth's sandy crust is being broken apart as the expanding highway organism grows beneath it.

Or, if you're the "Occam's Razor" type: the wind is just blowing sand around. I've never been to Mars, but I'm led to believe there are rocks, dust, and wind. Do we really need to go any further in debunking this nonsense?

They also link to Retraction Watch's page about the story's lead author, Rhawn Gabriel Joseph. IFL Science picks up the story: Nicknamed the Space Tiger King — due to the photographs posted on his frankly ridiculous personal website — Joseph has spent decades erroneously claiming that life has already been discovered on other planets. Back in the 1970s, he began alleging that NASA's Viking lander had found biological matter, despite the agency stating the exact opposite of this.

After setting up his own journal in an attempt to air his unscientific assertions, he later filed a lawsuit against NASA in order to force them to investigate a structure which he claimed resembled a "putative biological organism", but which later turned out to be a rock.

CNET adds: "Claiming that mushrooms are sprouting all over Mars is an extraordinary claim that requires better evidence than an analysis of photographic morphology by a known crank who has claimed, on the basis of the same kind of analysis, that he has seen fields of skulls on Mars," says Paul Myers, a developmental biologist at the University of Minnesota, Morris, who has followed Joseph's work in the past...

After being alerted to the new paper on Wednesday, I sent emails to the associate editors-in-chief of Advances in Microbiology, asking for clarification around the peer review process. They have not responded to requests for comment. I also emailed members of the editorial board listed on SCIRP's website, including Jian Li, a microbiologist at Monash University in Australia. He says he has not been on the journal's editorial board "for at least five to six years" and has not handled any of the papers in the journal.

The "mushrooms" theory was also dismissed by several actual scientists, reports Futurism: "The conditions on Mars are so extreme that you're not going to see fungi or any kind of life growing at that sort of speed under conditions like coldness and low air pressure," Jonathan Clarke, president of Mars Society Australia, told the South China Morning Post. "Life can barely survive, let alone thrive."

Clarke also took issue with the paper claiming that mushrooms were actually growing on Mars. "It's just like if you go to a beach and there are shells," he told the newspaper. "If the wind blows, the sand moves and exposes more shells. But we won't say the shells are growing there, it's just that they become visible..."

"We have more than photos, records, instruments that tell us what these materials are made of," David Flannery, lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology who is a member of NASA's Mars 2020 mission science team, told SCMP. "And we have models for the features we see around us.... Robots are sending back huge amounts of data," he added. "We have plenty of information but it's just that no one is interpreting the features that we see as something like fungi. There's zero evidence for that."

"This paper, which is really not credible, will be ignored by the scientific community," Flannery said.

Barsoom patriots

By algaeman • Score: 3 • Thread
John Carter eats a lot of magic mushrooms.

New Study Again Finds Mediterranean Diet Lowers Symptoms of Brain Aging

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
CNN reports that a new study has again found that Mediterranean diets can lower your risk of dementia "by interfering with the buildup of two proteins, amyloid and tau, into the plaques and tangles that are hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease." "The mountain of evidence continues to build that you are what you eat when it comes to brain health," said Dr. Richard Isaacson, who directs the Alzheimer's Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital... "For every point of higher compliance with the diet, people had one extra year less of brain aging. That is striking," Isaacson added. "Most people are unaware that it's possible to take control of your brain health, yet this study shows us just that...."

What is the Mediterranean diet...? The true diet is simple, plant-based cooking, with the majority of each meal focused on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and seeds, with a few nuts and a heavy emphasis on extra-virgin olive oil. Fats other than olive oil, such as butter, are consumed rarely, if at all. And say goodbye to refined sugar or flour. Meat can make a rare appearance, but usually only to flavor a dish. Instead, meals may include eggs, dairy and poultry, but in much smaller portions than in the traditional Western diet. However, fish, which are full of brain-boosting omega-3's, are a staple.

The study, published Wednesday in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, examined 343 people at high risk of developing Alzheimer's and compared them to 169 cognitively normal subjects... After adjusting for factors like age, sex and education, the study found that people who did not follow the diet closely had more signs of amyloid and tau buildup in their spinal fluid than those who did adhere to the diet... "These results add to the body of evidence that show what you eat may influence your memory skills later on," said study author Tommaso Ballarini, a postdoctoral fellow at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Bonn, Germany, in a statement...

This isn't the first research to find a link between brain health and the Mediterranean diet or one of its plant-based cousins. A study of nearly 6,000 healthy older Americans with an average age of 68 found those who followed the Mediterranean or the similar MIND diet lowered their risk of dementia by a third.

After reviewing the new study, Isaacson told CNN that "The strongest factor to really move the needle was regular fish consumption."

Capitol Rioters Identified Using Facial Recognition Software, Cellphone Records - and Social Media Posts

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
NBC News reports more than 440 Americans have now been charged with storming the U.S. Capitol building on January 6th, with charges now filed against people from 44 of America's 50 states. They describe it as "one of the largest criminal investigations in American history." The largest number come from Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida, in that order. Men outnumber women among those arrested by 7 to 1, with an average age of 39, according to figures compiled by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. A total of 44 are military veterans.
Hundreds of arrests happened because rioters later bragged online: In nearly 90 percent of the cases, charges have been based at least in part on a person's own social media accounts.

A New York man, Robert Chapman, bragged on the dating app Bumble that he'd been in the Capitol during the riot. The person he was seeking to date responded, "We are not a match," and notified the FBI.

In fact, the investigative agency has now received "hundreds of thousands" of tips from the public, and has even posted photos of people who participated in the riots online asking for the public's help to identify them.

But NBC also reports that technology is being used to identify participants:
  • "Investigators have also used facial recognition software, comparing images from surveillance cameras and an outpouring of social media and news agency videos against photo databases of the FBI and at least one other federal agency, Customs and Border Protection, according to court documents."
  • Investigators "have also subpoenaed records from companies providing cellphone service, allowing agents to tell whether a specific person's phone was inside the Capitol during the siege."

Re:Facial recognition software?

By Cmdln Daco • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Then maybe it should be used to identify the people who rioted and burned and looted all last summer, so they can pay retribution. Because it's just a tool to be used.

Re:Portland, OR, too

By jacks smirking reven • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Take it up with the US Attorney then.

"Williams explained decisions are made on a case-by-case basis."

“Everything is case-specific when you go about these cases being processed through the system,” said Williams, who stepped down on Feb. 28. U.S. attorneys are traditionally asked to resign at the start of a new administration.

Federal prosecutors rarely handle protest cases. But when Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt passed on most protest cases saying he was reserving resources for the most serious crimes, the feds stepped in. Then-Attorney General William Barr reportedly instructed federal prosecutors to aggressively pursue protesters deemed violent or destructive.

“I've never made a decision in my career based upon political pressure or institutional pressure,” said Williams.

Re:Facial recognition software?

By timholman • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

That's a hopeless battle. If you outlaw face recognition, only outlaws will recognize faces with software. You just can't stop it.

You can't stop face recognition from being misused legally, either, but you can at least provide recourse for those against whom it is misused. You can prohibit misuse and provide for actual penalties for organizations which abuse it.

You see the same flawed line of reasoning being used against license plate readers. It's just OCR software running real time with a live camera feed. You can't outlaw it or make it disappear.

I point out to people who are the most vociferous about banning facial recognition technology that they are parroting the same line of reasoning used by government officials who want to ban private encryption. "It can be used by bad people to do bad things, so we have to ban it." They are oblivious to their own cognitive dissonance.

And of course this leads to another observation: the people who complain the most about technological dystopias really have no problem with dystopias at all, provided those dystopias match their own political, religious, or moral viewpoints. You can see it right here on Slashdot, where the same posters who criticized the use of facial recognition against BLM protestors are applauding it when it is used against the U.S. Capitol protestors.

Re:Facial recognition software?

By Moryath • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread
Yes, let's identify the various white-supremacist agents provocateur and police members who looted and burned so that white-supremacist slime like Cmdlin Daco can gaslight in internet discussions.

Re:Facial recognition software?

By gmack • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Since when is this a partisan issue? Why not do both? Rioted/looted/damaged property? Right or Left toss them in jail.

China's Out-of-Control Rocket Plunges Out of Orbit, Crashes Into Ocean

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An out-of-control Chinese rocket plunged out of orbit and reentered Earth's atmosphere in the Indian Ocean (just west of the Maldives), reports CNN, citing China's space agency: Most of the rocket was "destroyed" on reentry to the atmosphere, the space agency said. The rocket, which is about 108 feet tall and weighs nearly 40,000 pounds, had launched a piece of a new Chinese space station into orbit on April 29.

After its fuel was spent, the rocket had been left to hurtle through space uncontrolled until Earth's gravity dragged it back to the ground.

Generally, the international space community tries to avoid such scenarios. Most rockets used to lift satellites and other objects into space conduct more controlled reentries that aim for the ocean, or they're left in so-called "graveyard" orbits that keep them in space for decades or centuries. But the Long March rocket is designed in a way that "leaves these big stages in low orbit," said Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University.

In this case, it was impossible to be certain exactly when or where the booster would land. The European Space Agency had predicted a "risk zone" that encompassed "any portion of Earth's surface between about 41.5N and 41.5S latitude" — which included virtually all of the Americas south of New York, all of Africa and Australia, parts of Asia south of Japan and Europe's Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. The threat to populated areas of land was not negligible, but fortunately the vast majority of Earth's surface area is consumed by oceans...

The rocket is one of the largest objects in recent memory to strike the Earth after falling out of orbit, following a 2018 incident in which a piece of a Chinese space lab broke up over the Pacific Ocean and the 2020 reentry of an 18-metric-ton Long March 5B rocket [also launched by China].


By schwit1 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

CNN, yes the Clown News Network

Ridiculous propaganda.

By BAReFO0t • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

We get it, you hate the Chinese. I think their governmenr is evil too. But this is no different than any of our re-entrys.
PROTIP: They only tell us it "burns up in the athmosphere" to calm people. Just like the Chinese tell their people. In reality, we got readable documents surviving re-rentry in the past. Not everything burns up. Controlling it, is at best an illusion.

Re: Crash in the USA

By hcs_$reboot • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Just because it's bigger than youe dick and IQ?

The Earth area is ~510 M km2, USA area is ~10 M km2, or ~2%. My dick is better at math than you.


By AmiMoJo • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Nobody knew where it would land until the last moment because it was tumbling, which meant that the amount of drag it experienced was impossible to predict.

Everyone knew it wouldn't land on Washington or Beijing though because it wasn't in an orbit that took it over those areas.

When it became possible to know where it would land the Chinese did put out information. You just didn't notice because you can't read Chinese and it wasn't widely reported, with journalists preferring to get their information from the US.

Re:Here's the record of what happened

By K. S. Kyosuke • Score: 5, Funny • Thread
Considering the condition of the item upon delivery, I have to ask...was it UPS, or FedEx?

Elon Musk Begins Hosting 'Saturday Night Live' - As the World Watches

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
This afternoon Elon Musk tweeted a special URL allowing viewers outside the U.S. to simultaenously livestream his 90-minute appearance on Saturday Night Live for the first time in more than 100 countries, starting at 11:30 p.m. EST. The A.V. Club had a sardonic reaction to the livestreaming on YouTube: Good news for anyone looking at tonight's upcoming broadcast of Saturday Night Live — in which labor-busting vaccine skeptic Elon Musk will be given a platform to broadcast his techno-dystopian brain contents to the world — and thought, "Wow, there's not enough Google involved here." Well, not anymore.
Musk has already appeared in a two promos for the show. (Though CNN quips that the tonight's live show means NBC is " relying on Musk to filter his thoughts in real time, despite little evidence, historically, of him holding back on just about anything he wants to say — even when under scrutiny by federal regulators.") And the rest of the world is getting ready too. While Tesla brought the Cybertruck prototype to its New York City store, Lucid Air made plans to broadcast an ad for its coming 500-mile-range electric car that will compete with cars from Musk's Tesla.

Meanwhile, Bleeping Computer reports that Twitter scammers have been hacking into verified Twitter accounts and changing the profiles to impersonate SNL's, then replying to Musk's tweets with URL's lead to cryptocurrency giveaway scams. "We have determined that the scammers have made at least $97,054.62 over the past two days. The Ethereum giveaway scams also earned them $13,758." And the Dogecoin scammers netted at least $42,456.

And this week also Slate noted a spike in the price of Dogecoin. The joke cryptocurrency based on a shiba inu meme is up — uh, let me check — about 20 percent since this time Tuesday, has just about doubled in price since April 27, and as of this moment is up about 26,000 percent for the year (lol). It's trading around 64 cents as I type this... [I]t's probably not worth overthinking this. We're living in the stonks era. Elon is going on a sketch comedy show and is hinting that he might bring up a dumb digital token that everyone finds inherently funny. Now CNBC is hauling on experts to illuminate what the hell is going on, and members of the financial media are having to write earnest explainers about why you should invest in the dog money with caution, as if a single sane person would think otherwise.

What makes the whole rally uniquely amusing, compared with, say, the rise of Bitcoin, is that it's a willfully dumb affront not just to traditional finance, but also to the broader crypto community — which has, shall we say, mixed feelings about Dogecoin, mostly because they think it makes their project, which they tend to treat with self-righteous seriousness, look very silly... Dogecoin is the, well, underdog of the crypto world, the currency that was looked down upon by much of the Bitcoin- and Ethereum-boosting elite. Except now it has an $82 billion market cap. The dogecoiners — basically the sweet, dumb, bong-ripping frat of the crypto world — find all this hilarious.

So what will happen tonight? Ultimately castmember Michael Che, who co-hosts the show's parody newscast segment Weekend Update, joked that while some of the show's performers objected to Musk's appearance, he saw the selection of Musk as both "polarizing" and "exciting."

"You know, what's funny is that I would say I know about 20 to 25% of the white people that get to host the show anyway. So Elon, I was like, 'Oh, I know who he is at least.'"

Share your own reactions in the comments.


By Stormwatch • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

My impression was that other car makers were hesitant, like: "Sure we can make electric cars, but not many people really want them, and all the infrastructure for traditional cars is already there, rebuilding the world for electric would be a ton of work and a massive expense..."

And suddenly Tesla made electric cars fashionable, which forced the others to go all in.

Why do people not like Musk?

By beepsky • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
I don't get why anybody would dislike Musk.
Guy is fucking awesome. Unlike most CEOs who only do mundane things that make profit, he's willing to pursue whatever crazy sci-fi ideas he thinks are cool even if they're risky.
He's the guy who's going to lead colonization of outer space, he led a revolution in transportation making electric cars no longer a pipe dream, and he's building brain computer interfaces so some day we can have cyberpunk-esque prosthetics which could very well lead to near immortality.

Re: Shame

By saloomy • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
He is also the only reason the US has manned space flight again. Boeing would have milked the taxpayer tens of billions more before scrapping their program for the next president to kick if yet another boondoggle. Thank you Elon.

here's my 0.02 dogecoine

By codeButcher • Score: 3 • Thread

Wow, that acronym-laden summary is about as rambling and incoherent as any MJ-enhanced Musk interview. Let's see all the issues it gets a stab at:
* Labour relations
* Vaccines
* Google (but the significance eludes me)
* Competition
* Free speech
* Hacking/scamming
* Cryptocurrency
* America's new Offendedness Economy
* Race
did I miss anything? That's "only" 9.

My grandparents emigrated from NS Germany, my parents found themselves under Apartheid South Africa, I spent since 1994 in ANC South Africa - and I believe I have built up a bad case of propaganda intolerance through this generational sensitization. So whenever such a grand effort is launched to silence someone or put him in an unfavourable light, I pay a little more attention to what he has to say. Goebbels' theory has now become counter-productive. Even though I don't have a great liking for American television or American "comedy", so I will probably not watch it directly - perhaps someone will post a transcript, or more likely someone who did watch it will make a meme of the good parts, which will reach me eventually. In the mean time there's more important things to do.

Dogecoin tumbles after Elon Musk calls it a hustle

By waspleg • Score: 3 • Thread

I hate all the cryptoscams, but what an asshole.

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The value of dogecoin dropped sharply in early U.S. hours on Sunday, after Tesla chief and cryptocurrency supporter Elon Musk called it a 'hustle' during his guest-host spot on the "Saturday Night Live" comedy sketch TV show.

Dogecoin was quoted as low as $0.47 on crypto exchange Binance, down 28% from levels around $0.65 before the show.

This prick has rabid followers and is in your 401k. Fuck him.

Does XKCD's Cartoon Show How Scientific Publishing Is a Joke?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"An XKCD comic — and its many remixes — perfectly captures the absurdity of academic research," writes the Atlantic (in an article shared by Slashdot reader shanen).

It argues that the cartoon "captured the attention of scientists — and inspired many to create versions specific to their own disciplines. Together, these became a global, interdisciplinary conversation about the nature of modern research practices." It depicts a taxonomy of the 12 "Types of Scientific Paper," presented in a grid. "The immune system is at it again," one paper's title reads. "My colleague is wrong and I can finally prove it," declares another. The gag reveals how research literature, when stripped of its jargon, is just as susceptible to repetition, triviality, pandering, and pettiness as other forms of communication. The cartoon's childlike simplicity, though, seemed to offer cover for scientists to critique and celebrate their work at the same time...

You couldn't keep the biologists away from the fun ("New microscope!! Yours is now obsolete"), and — in their usual fashion — the science journalists soon followed ("Readers love animals"). A doctoral student cobbled together a website to help users generate their own versions. We reached Peak Meme with the creation of a meta-meme outlining a taxonomy of academic-paper memes. At that point, the writer and internet activist Cory Doctorow lauded the collective project of producing these jokes as "an act of wry, insightful auto-ethnography — self-criticism wrapped in humor that tells a story."

Put another way: The joke was on target. "The meme hits the right nerve," says Vinay Prasad, an associate epidemiology professor and a prominent critic of medical research. "Many papers serve no purpose, advance no agenda, may not be correct, make no sense, and are poorly read. But they are required for promotion." The scholarly literature in many fields is riddled with extraneous work; indeed, I've always been intrigued by the idea that this sorry outcome was more or less inevitable, given the incentives at play. Take a bunch of clever, ambitious people and tell them to get as many papers published as possible while still technically passing muster through peer review ... and what do you think is going to happen? Of course the system gets gamed: The results from one experiment get sliced up into a dozen papers, statistics are massaged to produce more interesting results, and conclusions become exaggerated. The most prolific authors have found a way to publish more than one scientific paper a week. Those who can't keep up might hire a paper mill to do (or fake) the work on their behalf.

The article argues the Covid-19 pandemic induced medical journals to forego papers about large-scale clinical trials while "rapidly accepting reports that described just a handful of patients. More than a few CVs were beefed up along the way."

But pandemic publishing has only served to exacerbate some well-established bad habits, Michael Johansen, a family-medicine physician and researcher who has criticized many studies as being of minimal value, told me. "COVID publications appear to be representative of the literature at large: a few really important papers and a whole bunch of stuff that isn't or shouldn't be read."
Unfortunately, the Atlantic adds, "none of the scientists I talked with could think of a realistic solution."

Types of Slashdot Comments

By drkshadow • Score: 3 • Thread

# "One, Two, ???, Profit!"
# "Well duh, this is clearly obvious"
# "This might be obvious for you, but some other people..."
# "Repost!"
# "You're thinking about it from the wrong view point"
# "<Technical details>"
# "If we can do this, then imagine if we..."
# First post - everyone tries to be on top
## 75 Replies

Re: Clicked to take a look, remembered why

By serviscope_minor • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

We're talking about a fucking stick figure comic that went for years making math jokes.

Here's one from the early days and it's explicitly political:

Look, you are as your username suggests a RightWingNutJob, which means inventing your own reality par for the course. I get that. So this is for anyone else casually reading, since we both know you are incapable of changing your opinion.

Re: Clicked to take a look, remembered why

By The Evil Atheist • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

which means inventing your own reality

"Right wing", "conservative", whatever you want to call it, is always based on an alternate reality known as "the past". "The past" was always better, and strangely never has the things one hates. It's like they lack a sense of awareness that their perception of things, especially the past, is heavily clouded by what they want things to be, rather than what things are.

Re:Some real value but some gaming

By VeryFluffyBunny • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

It is at the point of Beth's paper being published that Andy should get any credit.

That's how it already works - researchers' impact factor is calculated from how often their papers are cited & quality of the journals they're published in.

There's 2 problems with this: #1 Researchers can still game the system by publishing claims that are guaranteed to incite indignant outrage among their peers thereby guaranteeing a flurry or rebuttal papers which in turn generates a large number of citations. #2 Rating papers by who publishes them gives even more power to the parasitic academic publishing industry, e.g. Elsevier, which is currently bleeding academia dry & making it more difficult for researchers to do their work.

All solutions that simply exchange one set of metrics for another is missing the fundamental point that metrics alone are a very poor solution, as was expressed by Charles Goodhart (1975):

"Any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes."

Otherwise known as: When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

Reference: Goodhart, Charles. ‘Problems of Monetary Management: The U.K. Experience’. In Inflation, Depression, and Economic Policy in the West, edited by Anthony S Courakis, 111–46. Rowman & Littlefield, 1981.

The 1980's calling. This is old news.

By WierdUncle • Score: 3 • Thread

Long ago, I did a final year project in electronics, which involved background research into relevant papers on switched-capacitor filters. The amount of dross was amazing, even then. Eventually, I found that the derivative dross papers all cited one or two papers of actual interest. A typical dross paper would pick up on some formulae in the original work, twiddle the algebra a bit, and derive some load of rubbish results that had little connection to reality. It was not wrong, as such, but just fundamentally useless.

A few years later, the same phenomenon came up, when my father did a bit of consultancy after he had retired as a scientific civil servant. He had been given some papers by his customer (our neighbour), and wanted my opinion. There was one paper worth studying. The rest were just derivative and not at all informative. He was relieved when I told him that. He thought he was going senile, because that sort of rubbish would never have been published in his day.

Emails, Text Messages Can Be Retrieved From Smartphones Synced to Vehicles

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Slashdot reader ytene writes: As reported by The Intercept, U.S. Customs and Border Protection have just spent $456,063 for a package of technology specifically designed to access smartphone data via a motor vehicle. From the article:

"...part of the draw of vacuuming data out of cars is that so many drivers are oblivious to the fact that their cars are generating so much data in the first place, often including extremely sensitive information inadvertently synced from smartphones."

This data can include "Recent destinations, favorite locations, call logs, contact lists, SMS messages, emails, pictures, videos, social media feeds, and the navigation history of everywhere the vehicle has been, when and where a vehicle's lights are turned on, and which doors are opened and closed at specific locations" as well as "gear shifts, odometer reads, ignition cycles, speed logs, and more. This car-based surveillance, in other words, goes many miles beyond the car itself."

Perhaps the most remarkable claim, however, was, "We had a Ford Explorer we pulled the system out, and we recovered 70 phones that had been connected to it. All of their call logs, their contacts and their SMS."

Mohammad Tajsar, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), is quoted as saying, "Whenever we have surveillance technology that's deeply invasive, we are disturbed," he said. "When it's in the hands of an agency that's consistently refused any kind of attempt at basic accountability, reform, or oversight, then it's Defcon 1."

Another reason

By quonset • Score: 3 • Thread

Not to have a "smart" phone. Granted, you could always not sync your phone to the car, but considering the people we're dealing with, that is clearly not an option.

Flip phone for the win.

Re:Seriously, who DIDN'T know this?!

By lazarus • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Almost everyone. A couple of years ago I was in a hotel and was taking a call in the complimentary "business lounge" on my cell. While chatting I booted up the PC that was in there and checked the browser history. First hit was a bank. Clicked on it and the browser auto-filled some person's username and password and I was looking at their accounts.

I spent the next 20 minutes removing saved passwords and history from every browser on the machine and trying to turn off those options. People are dumb.

This isn't about CBP

By JeffOwl • Score: 3 • Thread
If CBP is following the law, this isn't a problem on their end. (That is to say, if they use this with a warrant or in specific situations where they have enough cause that they do not need a warrant.) Blame the makers of cars and cell phones. For one... If I want to let the car access my IM's and call logs and such for convenience while driving (I don't, but if I did) there is no reason to have the car store a record of those.

Rental Car Companies

By bill_mcgonigle • Score: 3 • Thread

I never sync with a rental car and I'm always amazed to find all that info on the "radio". How they don't do a factory reset after a return is beyond me. Somebody's gonna sue them.

Car as a Trojan

By ytene • Score: 3 • Thread
One of the aspects of this that struck me was the potential for an organization like CBP to use, say a rental car to target a suspect.

The recent slashdot story that covered the reverse engineering performed by Moxie Marlinspike’s of Whisper Systems against the Cellebrite code included mention of the fact that the Cellebrite application appeared to be making use of an iTunes library [hinting that it may have been illegal use of the library.

That suggested to me that part of Cellebrite’s strategy was to trick the handset in to thinking that it was being connected to an iTunes instance that it could trust. Now, it doesn’t follow that an iPhone will automatically “trust” a vehicle to which it is connected, but suppose that vehicle originally had Apple CarPlay running in it, but CBP and/or their third party were able to maliciously hack the CarPlay?

If they were able to do something similar to Cellebrite, maybe that would explain how so much and such varied data was being accessed by the vehicle?

If so - and, again, this is all supposition, Apple need to further harden iOS and iPadOS such that before a connection is accepted, each end of the link need to be able to prove that it has not been tampered with, maybe by some form of mutual authentication test.

Astronomers Search For Answers To Origins of Interstellar Visitors Like 'Oumuamua

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Getting to another extrasolar planet is never going to happen in my lifetime, or that of Western civilisation," says Alan Jackson, an astronomer and planetary scientist at Arizona State University. "But we can have nature deliver pieces of them to us that we can actually see up close."

Slashdot reader boudie2 shares this article from BBC Future, which notes that astronomers spent decades looking for objects from outside our solar system — until two arrived at once. "'Oumuamua has not yet been definitively classified as a comet or an asteroid — it might be something else entirely," the article points out. For one thing, 'Oumuamua didn't have a comet-like tail: Two things in particular fixated scientists. The first was its mysterious acceleration away from the Sun, which was hard to reconcile with many ideas about what it might have been made of. The second was its peculiar shape — by some estimates, it was 10 times as long as it was wide. Before 'Oumuamua, the most elongated known space objects were three times longer than they were wide... [F]inally, earlier this year Jackson and his colleague Steven Desch came up with an explanation that seems to explain 'Oumuamua's quirky features, without the need for any alien technology... "We just realised that nitrogen ice could supply exactly the amount of push it needs — and it's observed on Pluto," he says. To corroborate the idea, they calculated how shiny the surface of 'Oumuamua was and compared it to the reflectivity of nitrogen ice — and found that the two were more or less exact matches.

The team concluded that the object was likely to be a chunk of nitrogen ice, which was chipped off the surface of a Pluto-like exoplanet around a young star. Based on the evolution of our own solar system, which started out with thousands of similar planets in the icy neighbourhood of the Kuiper belt, they suggested that the fragment may have broken off around half a billion years ago...

Though the object would have finally reached the very outermost edge of the Solar System many years ago, it would have taken a long time to travel to the balmy, central region where it was first discovered — and been gradually worn down into a pancake as it approached. This explains its unusual shape and its acceleration in one go, because the evaporating nitrogen would have left an invisible tail that propelled it forwards. "Our atmosphere is mostly nitrogen and you can see though it," says Jackson. "Nitrogen gas is difficult to detect."

Again, not everyone is happy with this suggestion.

Luckily, the second interstellar object, 2I/Borisov "has turned out to be emphatically less difficult to decipher than its cosmic companion. It's been recognised as the first interstellar comet ever found."

Deepfake Satellite Imagery Poses a Not-so-Distant Threat

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo quotes the Verge's warning about " deepfake geography: AI-generated images of cityscapes and countryside." Specifically, geographers are concerned about the spread of fake, AI-generated satellite imagery. Such pictures could mislead in a variety of ways. They could be used to create hoaxes about wildfires or floods, or to discredit stories based on real satellite imagery... Deepfake geography might even be a national security issue, as geopolitical adversaries use fake satellite imagery to mislead foes...

The first step to tackling these issues is to make people aware there's a problem in the first place, says Bo Zhao, an assistant professor of geography at the University of Washington. Zhao and his colleagues recently published a paper on the subject of "deep fake geography," which includes their own experiments generating and detecting this imagery... As part of their study, Zhao and his colleagues created software to generate deepfake satellite images, using the same basic AI method (a technique known as generative adversarial networks, or GANs) used in well-known programs like They then created detection software that was able to spot the fakes based on characteristics like texture, contrast, and color. But as experts have warned for years regarding deepfakes of people, any detection tool needs constant updates to keep up with improvements in deepfake generation.

What a load of crap!

By oldgraybeard • Score: 3, Interesting • Thread
Here is the real goal! "(Think about reports on Chinaâ(TM)s Uyghur detention camps that gained credence from satellite evidence." China wants to say their concentration camps are faked and this professor is helping! Wonder how much money is flowing to the University/Professors here and from where?

Easy enough

By Krishnoid • Score: 3 • Thread
Just enter these photos into a blockchain. That should be good enough, right?

'Ghost Gun' Loophole Leads US Justice Dept to Propose New Definition of 'Firearm'

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
America's Justice Department proposed a new rule Friday to update the definition of "firearm" for the first time since 1968, in an effort to close the so-called "ghost gun" loophole.

UPI reports: Attorney General Merrick Garland said the modernized definition would require retailers to perform background checks on customers before selling some ready-made kits that allow people to build their own guns. Such guns are known as "ghost guns" because they don't have serial numbers and can't be traced. "Criminals and others barred from owning a gun should not be able to exploit a loophole to evade background checks and to escape detection by law enforcement," Garland said...

Under the proposed rule, manufacturers must include a serial number on the firearm frame or receiver in a kit. Firearm dealers also must add serial numbers to 3D-printed guns or other un-serialized firearms they take into their inventory.

Re: SUPER illegal

By TomWinTejas • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Sweet Jesus, please learn history for all of our sakes. Regulated in 1789 did not mean restricted by laws.

A well stocked refrigerator, being necessary to feed a family, the right of the People to store food shall not be infringed.

The shall not be infringed part is rather clear, no matter what mental gymnastics you fools wish to perform.

Re: You know...

By arbiter1 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Yea sadly these idiots don't learn from history of brutal dictators in the fact this is one first things they do is make sure the people they are ruling over can't fight back.

Re:You know...

By I75BJC • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Of course you realize that even those you are demonizing as "ammosexuals", etc. do not believe a six year old should have a gun, don't you?

Of course your Straw Man argument doesn't work in the real world. I guess that you didn't check it out before you submitted your post.

Of course you realize that the 6 year old carried the firearm into the school AGAINST local, state, and federal laws. She didn't follow the law (on the face of the situation).

Of course you realize that criminals do not obey the "laws". Laws do not effect criminals. In my locality, the schools are demanding that the LEOs stop providing a Resource Officer (LEO) at their schools. The absence of security personnel will make it easier for criminals/outlaws, etc. to enter schools and kill students, teachers, administrators and other employees of the schools.

Of course you have an excuse for not realizing that insulting and demonizing people never helps because of your own preconceived ideas. Which don't have a basis in reality for the vast majority of the USA and its citizens.

Re: You know...

By gizmo2199 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I'm always baffled by the media and more recently Democrats framing inner-city gang warfare as "gun violence" as if there are disembodied guns running around randomly shooting people. I always hear "Why is no one doing anything about these guns" rather than "why isn't anyone stopping these young black men from killing each other."

Re: You know...

By ravenshrike • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

80% receivers have been around en masse since the fall of the Soviet Union when a bunch of AK parts hit the market and people built their own. Specifically as a term of art it refers to AR reciever blanks since the late 90s. It has jack fucki g all to do.with 3d printing. The "Ghost Gun machine is just miniature CNC machine. Of course, since you can make a AR lower out of frigging wood if you're bored enough, the entire "controversy" is completely farcical. This has Jack fucking all to do with stopping criminals and everything to do.with weaponizing gun regulations to be used against normal people.

'Despite Chip Shortage, Chip Innovation Is Booming'

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
The New York Times reports on surprising silver linings of the global chip shortage: Even as a chip shortage is causing trouble for all sorts of industries, the semiconductor field is entering a surprising new era of creativity, from industry giants to innovative start-ups seeing a spike in funding from venture capitalists that traditionally avoided chip makers. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and Samsung Electronics, for example, have managed the increasingly difficult feat of packing more transistors on each slice of silicon. IBM on Thursday announced another leap in miniaturization, a sign of continued U.S. prowess in the technology race. Perhaps most striking, what was a trickle of new chip companies is now approaching a flood.

Equity investors for years viewed semiconductor companies as too costly to set up, but in 2020 plowed more than $12 billion into 407 chip-related companies, according to CB Insights. Though a tiny fraction of all venture capital investments, that was more than double what the industry received in 2019 and eight times the total for 2016. Synopsys, the biggest supplier of software that engineers use to design chip, is tracking more than 200 start-ups designing chips for artificial intelligence, the ultrahot technology powering everything from smart speakers to self-driving cars. Cerebras, a start-up that sells massive artificial-intelligence processors that span an entire silicon wafer, for example, has attracted more than $475 million. Groq, a start-up whose chief executive previously helped design an artificial-intelligence chip for Google, has raised $367 million.

"It's a bloody miracle," said Jim Keller, a veteran chip designer whose resume includes stints at Apple, Tesla and Intel and who now works at the A.I. chip start-up Tenstorrent. "Ten years ago you couldn't do a hardware start-up...."

More companies are concluding that software running on standard Intel-style microprocessors is not the best solution for all problems. For that reason, companies like Cisco Systems and Hewlett Packard Enterprise have long designed specialty chips for products such as networking gear. Giants like Apple, Amazon and Google more recently have gotten into the act. Google's YouTube unit recently disclosed its first internally developed chip to speed video encoding.

And Volkswagen even said last week that it would develop its own processor to manage autonomous driving.

Dumb article

By tomhath • Score: 3 • Thread
Chip shortage is a manufacturing (and political) problem, it has little to do with research and innovation. If anything the high demand should drive investment in R & D. But this is New York Times.

Software is Easy. Material Science is hard.

By TheNarrator • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The most underreported story in tech for the last couple of years is the failure of Intel to get to a new process node. They just can't get the manufacturing to work. The only company that can do it is TSMC, and Samsung, at low yields. This is not a software problem. This is a physics, chemistry and material science problem. We have talented physicists getting billions to look for dark matter on the other side of the universe, or do string theory or whatever, and they should be working at semiconductor companies getting these new process technologies going. I doubt there are a lot of people in Korea or China who are spending their whole careers on things going on at the other end of the galaxy.

We have been in a golden age where software can improve every business and many easy gains have been made here. What's happening now though is that we're running up against the hard problems that don't happen inside a computer and you can't just throw software at it.

Re: Software is Easy. Material Science is hard.

By backslashdot • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Much of our physics, without which you cannot even make a transistor, comes from astronomy. Newton, for example, developed calculus and the laws of motion/gravity trying to explain Galileo observations of Jupiter. Einstein developed the general theory of relativity trying to explain the precession of the planet Mercury. Semiconductor device physics utilize the Laplace transform and also Poisson equations .. Who were Laplace and Poisson? Astronomers calculating gravitational interactions. Just about everything fundamental to semiconductor device materials physics comes from astronomy and particle physics. Other high tech fields lean on astronomy too. When Illumina was building their DNA sequencer, they hired expertise from astrophotography because they needed to photograph tiny flashes of light as produced by enzymes acting on DNA. If we halt studies of astrophysics we will hit a wall.

Ransomware Cyberattack Forces Major US Pipeline Company to Halt Operations

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Colonial Pipeline, which accounts for 45% of the East Coast's fuel, said it has shut down its operations due to a cyberattack," reports ZDNet. "The attack highlights how ransomware and other cyberattacks are increasingly a threat to real-world infrastructure.

"The company delivers refined petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, home heating oil, and fuel for the U.S. Military."

UPDATE: Saturday the company confirmed that the attack involved ransomware.

The Associated Press reports: Colonial Pipeline said the attack took place Friday and also affected some of its information technology systems. The Alpharetta, Georgia-based company said it hired an outside cybersecurity firm to investigate the nature and scope of the attack and has also contacted law enforcement and federal agencies. "Colonial Pipeline is taking steps to understand and resolve this issue," the company said in a late Friday statement. "At this time, our primary focus is the safe and efficient restoration of our service and our efforts to return to normal operation. This process is already underway, and we are working diligently to address this matter and to minimize disruption to our customers and those who rely on Colonial Pipeline."

Oil analyst Andy Lipow said the impact of the attack on fuel supplies and prices depends on how long the pipeline is down. An outage of one or two days would be minimal, he said, but an outage of five or six days could causes shortages and price hikes, particularly in an area stretching from central Alabama to the Washington, D.C., area. Lipow said a key concern about a lengthy delay would be the supply of jet fuel needed to keep major airports operating, like those in Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina.

The precise nature of the attack was unclear, including who launched it and what the motives were...

Mike Chapple, teaching professor of IT, analytics and operations at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business and a former computer scientist with the National Security Agency, said systems that control pipelines should not be connected to the internet and vulnerable to cyber intrusions. "The attacks were extremely sophisticated and they were able to defeat some pretty sophisticated security controls, or the right degree of security controls weren't in place," Chapple said...

The article also points out the U.S. government says it's "undertaking a new effort to help electric utilities, water districts and other critical industries protect against potentially damaging ensure that control systems serving 50,000 or more Americans have the core technology to detect and block malicious cyber activity. The White House has announced a 100-day initiative aimed at protecting the country's electricity system from cyberattacks by encouraging owners and operators of power plants and electric utilities to improve their capabilities for identifying cyber threats to their networks. It includes concrete milestones for them to put technologies into use so they can spot and respond to intrusions in real time. The Justice Department has also announced a new task force dedicated to countering ransomware attacks...

Re:Who to blame?

By rskbrkr • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread
The guy that hooked up pipeline operations to the internet in the first place?

Perpetrators Need to Face Consequences

By theshowmecanuck • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
State or private individuals, there needs to be serious publicly displayed consequences to these actions. The public needs to see that they are either being protected or the perpetrators are brought to justice. And they need to know everything is being done to ensure it won't happen again. Preferably all three. These are vital systems.

Re:Who to blame?

By awwshit • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

I worked at a Chevron station in the late 80s/early 90s. Delivery price was based on distance while the fuel cost was based on volume. We couldn't compete with stations 5 miles away because our costs were higher - which meant the other stations got more volume which hurt our costs even more.

When the US invaded Iraq in the early 90s, Chevron sent out a letter basically saying they raised prices because they could as a CYA but their costs hadn't really changed. Our margins were about $0.10/gallon at that time, we made more on snacks/drinks than fuel.

Don't be so quick to judge the local stations, the supply chain is tightly controlled and the station at the end of that chain is getting squeezed.

Re:Perpetrators Need to Face Consequences

By Registered Coward v2 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

State or private individuals, there needs to be serious publicly displayed consequences to these actions. The public needs to see that they are either being protected or the perpetrators are brought to justice. And they need to know everything is being done to ensure it won't happen again. Preferably all three. These are vital systems.

This foreshadows the future of warfare. Being able to put boots on the ground and bombs on target won't matter if the other side can shutdown critical infrastructure. Hard to fly without gas...

Today's cybercriminals will be tomorrows war heroes...

Re:Who to blame?

By psycho12345 • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Its a known problem, basically the companies have offloaded ALL the risk onto the downstream, and retained all the ownership on the upstream, it has become incredibly common for any local franchise of anything. It even has an economic term: chickenization, originally attributed to how chicken farms have the farmers own basically nothing, but are still responsible for everything (upstream in that case is major food processors like Tyson).

New Studies Show Covid-19 Vaccines' Effectiveness Against Variants

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
CNN recently reported on "a batch" of new studies published Wednesday — with one quantifying how much immunity improves after the second dose, and others showing how well coronavirus vaccines work against new variants of the virus: The first nationwide study of coronavirus vaccination, done in Israel, showed Pfizer/BioNtech's vaccine works far better after two doses. Two shots of the vaccine provided greater than 95% protection from infection, severe illness and death, Dr. Eric Haas of the Israel Ministry of Health and colleagues reported in the Lancet medical journal. "Two doses of BNT162b2 are highly effective across all age groups in preventing symptomatic and asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections and COVID-19-related hospitalizations, severe disease, and death, including those caused by the B.1.1.7 SARS-CoV-2 variant," they wrote. The B.1.1.7 variant, first seen in Britain, has spread widely and is now the most common new variant seen in the US. It was also common in Israel when the study was done...

"By 14 days after vaccination, protections conferred by a second dose [of the Pfizer vaccine] increased to 96.5% protection against infection, 98% against hospitalization, and 98.1% against death," the team wrote. But people who got only one dose of the vaccine were far less protected. One dose alone gave just 57.7% protection against infection, 75.7% against hospitalization, and 77% against death....

Separately, a team in the Gulf state of Qatar looked at the efficacy of Pfizer's vaccine in the population there when B.1.351 and B.1.1.7 were both circulating. They found reassuring results. "The estimated effectiveness of the vaccine against any documented infection with the B.1.1.7 variant was 89.5% at 14 or more days after the second dose. The effectiveness against any documented infection with the B.1.351 variant was 75%," the researchers wrote in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine...

Vaccine maker Moderna reported Wednesday that a booster shot delivering a half-dose of its current vaccine revs up the immune response against both B.1.351 and P.1. And a booster dose formulated specifically to match B.1.351 was even more effective, Moderna said in a statement...

In another study, vaccine maker Novavax confirmed earlier findings that showed its vaccine protects against B.1.351.

"Quantity has a quality all its own"

By Beryllium Sphere(tm) • Score: 3 • Thread

Antibodies to previous versions still have some affinity for the variants. They can still neutralize an infection in principle by sheer numbers.

If you've studied "dynamic equilibrium" in chemistry this will all be intuitive. Otherwise, an easy way to see it is that if an antibody falls off like an old sticky note, as long as there's lots more nearby to take its place the virus still has an unwanted friend who will introduce it to a macrophage.

The extraordinary increase in antibody levels from a second dose could explain why second-dose people are so much more resistant to variants.

More data...

By dbreeze • Score: 3 • Thread /...


Since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the race for testing new platforms designed to confer immunity against SARS-CoV-2, has been rampant and unprecedented, leading to emergency authorization of various vaccines. Despite progress on early multidrug therapy for COVID-19 patients, the current mandate is to immunize the world population as quickly as possible. The lack of thorough testing in animals prior to clinical trials, and authorization based on safety data generated during trials that lasted less than 3.5 months, raise questions regarding the safety of these vaccines. The recently identified role of SARS-CoV-2 glycoprotein Spike for inducing endothelial damage characteristic of COVID-19, even in absence of infection, is extremely relevant given that most of the authorized vaccines induce the production of Spike glycoprotein in the recipients. Given the high rate of occurrence of adverse effects, and the wide range of types of adverse effects that have been reported to date, as well as the potential for vaccine-driven disease enhancement, Th2-immunopathology, autoimmunity, and immune evasion, there is a need for a better understanding of the benefits and risks of mass vaccination, particularly in the groups that were excluded in the clinical trials. Despite calls for caution, the risks of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination have been minimized or ignored by health organizations and government authorities. We appeal to the need for a pluralistic dialogue in the context of health policies, emphasizing critical questions that require urgent answers if we wish to avoid a global erosion of public confidence in science and public health. /...


The risks outlined here are a major obstacle to continuing global SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. Evidence on the safety of all SARS-CoV-2 vaccines is needed before exposing more people to the184 risk of these experiments, since releasing a candidate vaccine without time to fully understand the resulting impact on health could lead to an exacerbation of the current global crisis [41]. Risk-stratification of vaccine recipients is essential. According to the UK government, people below 60 years of age have an extremely low risk of dying from COVID-191 187 . However, according to Eudravigillance, most of the serious adverse effects following SARS-CoV-2 vaccination occur in people aged 18-64. Of particular concern is the planned vaccination schedule for children aged 6 years and older in the United States and the UK. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently anticipated that teenagers across the country will be vaccinated in the autumn and younger children in early 2022, and the UK is awaiting trial results to commence vaccination of 11 million children under 18. There is a lack of scientific justification for subjecting healthy children to experimental vaccines, given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that they have a 99.997% survival rate if infected with SARS-CoV-2. Not only is COVID-19 irrelevant as a threat to this age group, but there is no reliable evidence to support vaccine efficacy or effectiveness in this population or to rule out harmful side effects of these experimental vaccines. In this sense, when physicians advise patients on the elective administration of COVID-19 vaccination, there is a great need to better understand the benefits and risk of administration, particularly in understudied groups.

In conclusion, in the context of the rushed emergency-use-authorization of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, and the current gaps in our understanding of their safety, the following questions must be raised:

Is it known whether cross-reactive antibodies from previous coronavirus infections or vaccine206 induced antibodies may influence the risk of unintended pathogenesis following vacci

not "nationwide" in Apartheid Israel

By Uberbah • Score: 3 • Thread

where racist colonialists are denying the vaccine to the native, occupied population.

Re: mRNA vaccines

By BAReFO0t • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Yes, people don't realize it's as big a deal as penicillin!

Basically, we can now deliver immune system updates.
This will also literally be the cure for cancer.

We can even set up a distributed immune system update network between humans that way. Just like mothers give immune updates to their babies via breast milk.

(Of course it can be abused for nefarious purposes. But so can anything powerful, from nuclear fission over chemistry to neuro-psychology and central water supply. Anyone who wants to be evil, could alread do so since forever. It would be crazy to waste it just because of being a pussy.)

South African variant

By carton • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

The Lancet study does not address South African b.1.351 variant so it's just confirming things we already knew. CNN's article, as you would expect, muddies this by talking about the effectiveness of hypothetical vaccines no one has received yet, leaving out vaccine/variant combinations we know work poorly like Oxford/b.1.351.

It does not inform an American which of the three approved vaccines has the broadest variant coverage, which is the actionable question for their audience.

I get better information from twitter than Slashdot-reposting-CNN. Sad.

New Audio From Mars Captures Sounds of Ingenuity Helicopter's Flight

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"A ghostly hum has been echoing across the plains of Mars' Jezero Crater," reports Business Insider.

Slashdot reader quonset writes: NASA has released a short video of Ingenuity's fourth flight on Mars. However, a bountiful side effect is they were able to hear the hum of its rotors.

Perseverance's microphone was turned on during the flight, and despite Ingenuity being over 260 feet away, it was able to capture both sight and sound of the historic event.

While the majority of sound is Martian wind rustling against the microphone, NASA enhanced the sound to make the rotor sounds more audible. They are most apparent when Ingenuity returns to its takeoff spot and the rotor hum dies down when the blades come to a halt.

"We had carried out tests and simulations that told us the microphone would barely pick up the sounds of the helicopter, as the Mars atmosphere damps the sound propagation strongly," said NASA's science lead for the Perseverance rover's microphone.

"We have been lucky to register the helicopter at such a distance. This recording will be a gold mine for our understanding of the Martian atmosphere."

No science payload

By TWX • Score: 3 • Thread

"We have been lucky to register the helicopter at such a distance. This recording will be a gold mine for our understanding of the Martian atmosphere."

For a drone aircraft that was touted as having no scientific payload onboard it sure seems to be contributing to scentific understanding.

Makes me wonder how long until they start trying to use it as a terrain-scout in advance of the rover's movements, scouting both paths to drive and interesting geologic features to consider studying.

If a helicopter flies on mars..

By e3m4n • Score: 3 • Thread
If a helicopter flies on mars and nothing is around to hear it, does it, in fact, make noise?

Facebook Criticized For 'Arbitrary' Suspension of Trump -- by Its Own Oversight Board

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"It never occurred to me that a Facebook-appointed panel could avoid a clear decision about Donald Trump's heinous online behavior," writes a New York Times technology reporter. "But that is what it's done..."

They call the board's decision "kind of perfect, actually, since it forces everyone's hand — from the Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to our limp legislators in Congress..."

The editor of the conservative National Review adds: If Facebook had set out to demonstrate that it has awesome power over speech in the United States, including speech at the core of the nation's political debate, and is wielding that power arbitrarily, indeed has no idea what its own rules truly are or should be, it wouldn't have handled the question any differently... The oversight board underlines the astonishing fact that in reaching its most momentous free-speech decision ever in this country, in determining whether a former president of the United States can use its platform or not, Facebook made it up on the fly. "In applying this penalty," the board writes of the suspension, "Facebook did not follow a clear, published procedure." This is like the U.S. Supreme Court handing down decisions in the absence of a written Constitution, or a home-plate umpire calling balls and strikes without an agreed-upon strike zone...
John Samples, a member of the Oversight Board, has even said explicitly that their decision was not about former president Trump — but about Facebook itself. The Washington Post reports: Samples said the board found that Facebook enforced a rule that didn't exist at the time. Trump was suspended indefinitely, rather than permanently or for a specific period of time, as defined by the company's own rules. "In a sense we were being tough with them," Samples said.

Other members said the board's call should reassure anyone concerned that Facebook wields too much control over online speech. "Anyone who's concerned about Mark Zuckerberg's power and his company's power over our speech online should actually praise this decision," Julie Owono, executive director of Internet Sans Frontières, said at a virtual event hosted by the Stanford Cyber Policy Center. "The board refused to support an arbitrary suspension..."

The flurry of media appearances marked a critical moment in the board's existence, as it tries to prove its legitimacy, define its powers and establish its relationship with Facebook.

NPR notes that former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a board co-chair, even called Facebook "a bit lazy" for failing to set a specific penalty in the first place... "What we are telling Facebook is that they can't invent penalties as they go along. They have to stick to their own rules," Thorning-Schmidt said in an interview with Axios. The board's criticism didn't stop at Facebook's imposing what it called a "vague, standardless penalty." It slammed the company for trying to outsource its final verdict on Trump. "Facebook has a responsibility to its users and to its community and to the broader public to make its own decisions," Jamal Greene, another board co-chair and constitutional law professor at Columbia, said Thursday during an Aspen Institute event. "The board's job is to make sure that Facebook is doing its job," he said.

Tensions between the board's view of the scope of its role and Facebook's were also evident in the board's revelation that the company wouldn't answer seven of the 46 questions it asked about the Trump case. The questions Facebook refused to answer included how its own design and algorithms might have amplified the reach of Trump's posts and contributed to the Capitol assault. "The ones that the company refused to answer to are precisely related to what happened before Jan. 6," Julie Owono, an oversight board member and executive director of the digital rights group Internet Sans Frontières, said at the Aspen Institute event.

"Our decision says that you cannot make such an important decision, such a serious decision for freedom of expression, freedom of speech, without the adequate context."

Re:No Free Speech Violations Here...

By sinij • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
Your definition of free speech is ridiculous. Yes, First Amendment does not protect you from private censorship, but how can you say that your free speech is not violated when nearly all speech is digital? We have main means of communication that is monopolized by a few bad actors working as a tightly coordinated dupoly? I don't know what rock you live under, but in 2021 if you do not have access to social media you can't be a politician, artist, journalist, public intellectual and so on.

Think this through. Do you think Jack Dorsey or Mark Zuckerberg should have a veto power over who you vote, what opinions you can discuss and so on? Because that is logical conclusion of your stance on free speech.

Re:He's not muzzled

By jacks smirking reven • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

I mean, all things are relative but Trump lied aout things from the outset, from big things to small things. The man is mentally incapable of being honest, even for a politician due to his crippling NPD.

- "It didn't rain on my inauguration"
- "My inauguration was bigger than Obama's"
- The "the greatest speech that was ever made to them," allegedly from the Boy Scouts when in fact he's never made a speech to the boy scouts.
- Countless upon countless "Sir" stories about big strong men who break down in tears around him and declare him the greatest man.
- The entire fucking "Sharpiegate" thing with the hurricane track that he hew drew over to cover for his hasty tweet about Alabama. I know that feels like forever ago but jesus christ what petty and bizarre nonsense.
- "I will eliminate the entire national debt as President". You could read that as boasting but he didn't even attempt to reduce it, he practically supercharged it.
- "I'll be too busy working to golf" then spends nearly an entire year on his own golf courses.
- His damn tax returns. Still hasn't released them....
- That he passed Veterans Choice when it was signed by Obama in 2014. He did sign an expansion but that's never the story he tells.
- Windmill noise causes cancer.
- Healthcare plan coming "in two weeks"
- "Michigan's Man of the Year" a prize that does not exist.
- “The ice caps were going to melt. They were going to melt. They were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records, so OK, they’re at a record level.”. Sea ice levels are at their smallest ever recorded.
- "Millions if illegals voted in 2016". A lie that was proved wrong by his own Justice Department.
- Continually claimed to want to protect pre-existing conditions in healthcare while simultaneously having his AG try to remove them in federal court while at the same time claiming Biden was the one who wanted to remove them.

And the entire 2020 election fraud conspiracy.

Look I get that "politicians lie" etc but this is just the literal tip of the iceberg of false statements the man cannot stop himself from making.

But go off about Jussie Smollett, you're keeping it to the real important shit I can tell.

Re:He's not muzzled

By Anonymous Coward • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The Russia collusion hoax

Trump and his people privately and publically welcomed and solicited Russia to help him cheat. They obliged within hours of the president himself asking in front of the whole world.

Manafort (whom Trump pardoned) shared non-public campaign data with RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE to help Trump.

Oh, shut up

By damn_registrars • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
I'm tired to seeing people bitch about "free speech" in the context of facebook. It doesn't matter what their market dominance is, they are not the only venue for speech. They are a company, and they are free to make decisions on what kind of material they want to carry and be associated with. If they don't want Trump to post there, they are free to stop him from doing so.

At the same time, Trump is free to pool his money and start a new website to post his thoughts to. There are plenty of programmers who are disciples of his movement and would happily help build a website for him.

Re: wat

By Woodmeister • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
If you're going to be pedantic, the BLM protests also fit the definition. So the other shoe should fit as well.