Cloned Mice Created From Freeze Dried Skin Cells In World First
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian:
Researchers have created cloned mice from freeze dried skin cells in a world first that aims to help conservationists revive populations of endangered species. The breakthrough paves the way for countries to store skin cells from animals as an insurance policy, as the cells can be used to create clones that boost the species' genetic diversity if they become threatened with extinction in the future. While scientists have used frozen cells to produce clones for conservation projects, the cells are kept in liquid nitrogen which is expensive and risky: if there are power outages or the liquid nitrogen is not regularly topped up, the cells melt and become unusable. Freeze dried sperm can also be used to create clones, but cannot be obtained from all animals.
In the latest work, researchers froze dried skin cells from mouse tails and stored them for up to nine months before trying to create clones from them. The freeze-drying processes killed the cells, but the scientists found they could still create early stage cloned embryos by inserting the dead cells into mouse eggs that had their own nuclei removed. These early stage mouse embryos, known as blastocysts, were used to create stocks of stem cells that were put through another round of cloning. The stem cells were inserted into mouse eggs emptied of their own nuclei, leading to embryos that surrogate mice carried to term. The first cloned mouse, named Dorami after a melon bread-loving robot in the Doraemon Manga series, was followed by 74 more. To check whether the clones had healthy fertility, nine females and three males were bred with normal mice. All the females went on to have litters.
Despite the achievement, the process is inefficient -- freeze drying damaged DNA in the skin cells -- and the success rate for creating healthy female and male mouse pups was only 0.2 to 5.4%. In some of the cells, the Y chromosome was lost, leading to female mice being born from cells obtained from male animals. "If the same treatment could be performed in endangered species where only males survived, it would be possible to produce females and naturally preserve the species, the authors write in Nature Communications.
More Dogs In the Neighborhood Often Means Less Crime
In a study conducted in Columbus, researchers found that neighborhoods with more dogs had
lower rates of homicide, robbery and, to a lesser extent, aggravated assaults compared to areas with fewer dogs, at least when residents also had high levels of trust in each other. Phys.Org reports:
The results suggest that people walking their dogs puts more "eyes on the street," which can discourage crime, said Nicolo Pinchak, lead author of the study and a doctoral student in sociology at The Ohio State University. "People walking their dogs are essentially patrolling their neighborhoods," Pinchak said. "They see when things are not right, and when there are suspect outsiders in the area. It can be a crime deterrent."
For the study, researchers looked at crime statistics from 2014 to 2016 for 595 census block groups -- the equivalent of neighborhoods -- in the Columbus area. They obtained survey data from a marketing firm that asked Columbus residents in 2013 if they had a dog in their household. Finally, they used data from the Adolescent Health and Development in Context study (which Browning runs) to measure trust in individual neighborhoods. As part of that study, residents were asked to rate how much they agreed that "people on the streets can be trusted" in their neighborhoods. Research has shown that trust among neighbors is an important part of deterring crime, because it suggests residents will help each other when facing a threat and have a sense of "collective efficacy" that they can have a positive impact on their area, Pinchak said.
Results of this study showed, as expected, that neighborhoods with high levels of trust had lower levels of homicide, robbery and aggravated assaults when compared to neighborhoods with low levels of trust. But among high-trust neighborhoods, those with high concentrations of dogs showed an additional drop in crime compared to those with low concentrations of dogs. Among the high-trust neighborhoods, neighborhoods high in dog concentration had about two-thirds the robbery rates of those low in dog concentration and about half the homicide rates, the study found. It really has to do with the dog walking, Pinchak said. [...] Results showed that the trust and dog-walking combination helped reduce street crimes: those crimes like homicides and robberies that tend to occur in public locations, including streets and sidewalks. The study found that more dogs in a neighborhood was also related to fewer property crimes, like burglaries, irrespective of how much residents trust each other, Pinchak said. [...] The protective effect of dogs and trust was found even when a wide range of other factors related to crime was taken into account, including the proportion of young males in the neighborhood, residential instability and socioeconomic status. The study was
published in the journal Social Forces.
Xbox 360 games Will No Longer Be Part of Xbox Games With Gold In October
planning to remove Xbox 360 games from its monthly Games with Gold offer in October. The Verge reports:
The software maker has started emailing Xbox Live Gold subscribers to warn them of the change, noting that the company has "reached the limit of our ability to bring Xbox 360 games to the catalogue." Games with Gold is a monthly benefit for subscribers of Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Microsoft hand picks free games each month, and all Xbox 360 titles are playable on the latest Xbox Series X / S consoles and Xbox One.
Microsoft's Xbox backward compatibility program briefly returned with 76 new games last year, but the company made it clear it had "reached the limit of our ability to bring new games to the catalog from the past due to licensing, legal and technical constraints." That would explain why it has now reached the limit on new Xbox 360 titles for Games with Gold. If you've already downloaded or redeemed Xbox 360 games through Games with Gold, this change won't impact those titles. This just means starting October 1st, Microsoft won't be adding any additional Xbox 360 titles to the Games with Gold offering.
Gtk 5 Might Drop X.11 Support, Says GNOME Dev
One of the GNOME developers has suggested that the next major release of Gtk
could drop support for the X window system. The Register reports:
Emmanuele Bassi opened a discussion last week on the GNOME project's Gitlab instance that asked whether the developers could drop X.11 support in the next release of Gtk. At this point, it is only a suggestion, but if it gets traction, this could significantly accelerate the move to the Wayland display server and the end of X.11.
Don't panic: Gtk 5 is not imminent. Gtk is a well-established toolkit, originally designed for the GIMP bitmap editing program back in 1998. Gtk 4 arrived relatively recently, shortly before the release of GNOME 40 in 2021. GNOME 40 has new user-interface guidelines, and as a part of this, Gtk 4 builds GNOME's Adwaita theme into the toolkit by means of the new libadwaita library, which is breaking the appearance of some existing apps.
Also, to be fair, as we recently covered, the X window system is very old now and isn't seeing major changes, although new releases of parts of it do still happen. This discussion is almost certain to get wildly contentious, and the thread on Gitlab has been closed to further comments for now. If this idea gains traction, one likely outcome might well be a fork of Gtk, just as happened when GNOME 3 came out. [...] A lot of the features of the current version, X.11, are no longer used or relevant to most users. Even so, X.12 is barely even in the planning stages yet.
Broadest US Pirate Site Injunction Rewritten/Tamed By Cloudflare
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak:
After causing outrage among online services including Cloudflare, the most aggressive pirate site injunction ever handed down in the US has undergone significant weight loss surgery. Now before the court is a heavily modified injunction that is most notable for everything that's been removed. It appears that Cloudflare drew a very clear line in the sand and refused to step over it. [...] The injunctions granted extreme powers, from residential ISP blocking to almost any other action the plaintiffs deemed fit to keep the sites offline. Almost immediately that led to friction with third-party service providers and the situation only worsened when a concerned Cloudflare found itself threatened with contempt of court for non-compliance. The CDN company fought back with support from Google and EFF and that led the parties back to the negotiating table. Filings in the case last week suggested an acceptance by the plaintiffs that the injunction cannot be enforced in its present form. The parties promised to work on a new injunction to address both sides' concerns and as a result, a new proposal now awaits the court's approval. [...]
With the contempt of court issue behind them, Cloudflare and the plaintiffs appear to have settled their differences. An entire section in the injunction dedicated to Cloudflare suggests that the CDN company is indeed prepared to help the video companies but they'll have to conform to certain standards. Before even contacting Cloudflare they'll first need to make "reasonable, good faith efforts to identify and obtain relief for the identified domains from hosting providers and domain name registries and registrars."
If the plaintiffs still need Cloudflare's assistance, Cloudflare will comply with requests against domain names listed in this injunction and future injunctions by preventing access to the following: "Pass-through security services, content delivery network (CDN) services, video streaming services, and authoritative DNS services, DNS, CDN, streaming services, and any related services." An additional note states that the plaintiffs acknowledge that Cloudflare's compliance "will not necessarily prevent the Defendants from providing users with access to Defendants' infringing services." Given the agreement on the terms, the amended injunction will likely be signed off by the court in the coming days. Service providers everywhere will breathe a sigh of relief while rightsholders will have a template for similar cases moving forward. The proposed amended injunction documents can be found here (
Ubisoft To Shut Down Multiplayer For Older Games
A collection of over a dozen games from Ubisoft
will see their online elements shut down on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 in September, "which means players won't be able to play their multiplayer components, access their online features, link Ubisoft accounts in-game, or install and access downloadable content," reports The Verge. From the report:
"Closing the online services for some older games allows us to focus our resources on delivering great experiences for players who are playing newer or more popular titles," Ubisoft's help page reads. With Assassin's Creed Brotherhood having originally released in November 2010, it's had almost 12 years of online support. But it's always sad to see a piece of gaming history become inaccessible, especially given the game's multiplayer element was missing from its remaster on the PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Alongside Brotherhood, the online services associated with 2011's Assassin's Creed Revelations on PS3 and Xbox 360 are also being shut down, as well as 2012's Assassin's Creed 3 on PC, PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii U. [...] Other games set to have their online services decommissioned across various platforms this September include Driver San Francisco, Far Cry 3's 2012 release, Ghost Recon Future Soldier, Prince of Persia the Forgotten Sands, Rayman Legends, and Splinter Cell: Blacklist. You can view the full list of games
PulseAudio and Systemd Creator, Lennart Poettering, Reportedly Leaves Red Hat
To much surprise, the lead developer of systemd
Lennart Poettering who also led the creation of
Avahi, and has been a prolific free software contributor
has reportedly left Red Hat. Michael Larabel writes via Phoronix:
So far no public announcement appears to have been made, but according to a source has been reportedly removed from Red Hat's internal employee database. Yesterday Lennart did comment on the public Fedora devel mailing list to having now created a personal Red Hat Bugzilla account for his Fedora contributions after it was raised in bug reports and brought up on the mailing list that Lennart's Red Hat account is disabled. Emailing his Red Hat address this morning indeed yields an auto-response that it's no longer in use.
He's still active in systemd world with new commits made as of today, so it will be interesting to see where he ends up or his next moves with his vast Linux ecosystem expertise and pivotal role in spearheading systemd's direction.
IDC: 'All Eyes Will Be On Apple' As Meta's VR Strategy 'Isn't Sustainable'
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica:
A recent media release from market research firm IDC predicts that Meta (the parent company of Facebook) may not be able to compete in the mixed-reality business in the long run if its strategy remains unchanged. The media release offers a bird's-eye view of the virtual reality hardware marketplace. In the release, IDC research manager Jitesh Ubrani said that, while "Meta continues to pour dollars into developing the metaverse, [the company's] strategy of promoting low-cost hardware at the expense of profitability isn't sustainable in the long run."
A similar concern was raised by tech industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo late last month. Kuo predicted that Meta would make moves to scale down investment in virtual reality, creating an opening for Apple and other competitors. He also wrote that Meta's practice of selling VR headsets at a loss is unsustainable. Currently, Meta owns 90 percent of the VR headset market, according to the IDC release. In distant second is ByteDance's Pico, at just 4.5 percent. Overall, VR headset shipments jumped 241.6 percent year over year in the first quarter of 2022. But the industry faced significant supply issues in Q1 2021, contributing to "a favorable comparison" for this year's Q1.
Like Kuo a couple of weeks ago, IDC research director Ramon Llamas said that "all eyes will be on Apple as it launches its first headset next year." Apple's headset is expected to be much more expensive than Meta's offerings, driving up the average unit price for the product category across the board, and Llamas believes Apple's offering "will appeal primarily to a small audience of early adopters and Apple fans." In other words, don't expect the first Apple headset to ship vastly more units than Meta's Oculus Quest 2 right out of the gate. It's just a first step in a long-term plan to own the mixed-reality market.
3-D Printing Grows Beyond Its Novelty Roots
For 3-D printing, whose origins stretch back to the 1980s, the technology, economic and investment trends
may finally be falling into place for the industry's commercial breakout, according to manufacturing experts, business executives and investors. From a report:
They say 3-D printing, also called additive manufacturing, is no longer a novelty technology for a few consumer and industrial products, or for making prototype design concepts. "It is now a technology that is beginning to deliver industrial-grade product quality and printing in volume," said Jorg Bromberger, a manufacturing expert at McKinsey & Company. He is the lead author of a recent report by the consulting firm titled, "The Mainstreaming of Additive Manufacturing."
3-D printing refers to making something from the ground up, one layer at a time. Computer-guided laser beams melt powders of metal, plastic or composite material to create the layers. In traditional "subtractive" manufacturing, a block of metal, for example, is cast and then a part is carved down into shape with machine tools. In recent years, some companies have used additive technology to make specialized parts. General Electric relies on 3-D printing to make fuel nozzles for jet engines, Stryker makes spinal implants and Adidas prints latticed soles for high-end running shoes. Dental implants and teeth-straightening devices are 3-D printed. During the Covid-19 pandemic, 3-D printers produced emergency supplies of face shields and ventilator parts.
Today, experts say, the potential is far broader than a relative handful of niche products. The 3-D printing market is expected to triple to nearly $45 billion worldwide by 2026, according to a report by Hubs, a marketplace for manufacturing services. The Biden administration is looking to 3-D printing to help lead a resurgence of American manufacturing. Additive technology will be one of "the foundations of modern manufacturing in the 21st century," along with robotics and artificial intelligence, said Elisabeth Reynolds, special assistant to the president for manufacturing and economic development.
Inside the Dying Art of Subtitling
The wildly popular series Squid Game drew criticism for its English subtitles. Just
how did those happen? CNET News:
Subtitlers contend with unrealistic expectations, tight deadlines and competition from clunky machine translation. Often, their work goes underappreciated, under the radar. Sometimes Uludag would be sent a file to translate at 11 p.m. -- "and they would say we need it by 8 a.m." Without skilled subtitlers, movies such as historic Oscar winner Parasite are lost in translation. Yet the art of subtitling is on the decline, all but doomed in an entertainment industry tempted by cheaper emerging artificial intelligence technologies. Subtitlers have become a dying breed.
And this had been the predicament before the world started watching a little show called Squid Game. In 28 days, Squid Game leapfrogged Bridgerton as Netflix's most popular series ever. It also inadvertently started a global conversation about bad subtitles. While critics lauded the South Korean battle royale-themed drama for its polished production values, gripping story and memorable characters, many accused Netflix of skimping on the quality of Squid Game's English subtitles.
A prime example: Ali, the Pakistani laborer, shares a touching moment with Sang Woo, an embezzler who graduated from Korea's top university. Sang Woo suggests Ali call him hyung, instead of sajang-nim or "Mr. Company President." The term hyung literally translates as "older brother," a term used by a man to address an older man with whom he has formed a closer bond. That's Ali and Sang Woo. Yet, the line "Call me hyung" was translated as "Call me Sang Woo." A rare moment of compassion and humanity, amid all the gloom and gore, was lost. [...]
Yet Netflix, which abandoned its in-house subtitling program Hermes one year after its launch in 2017, is interested in a different area of translation: dubbing. It's not hard to see why. For example, 72% of Netflix's American viewers said they prefer dubs when watching Spanish hit Money Heist, Netflix's third most popular show ever. Unfairly criticized, underfunded and facing a lack of support from the entertainment industry, subtitlers are on the brink. At least the Squid Game controversy illuminated an unsung fact: Good subtitles are an exceptionally difficult art.
'Sand Battery Could Solve Green Energy's Big Problem'
Finnish researchers have installed the world's first fully working 'sand battery' which can store green power for months at a time. The developers say this could solve the problem of year-round supply, a major issue for green energy. Using low-grade sand, the device is charged up with heat made from cheap electricity from solar or wind. The device has been installed in the Vatajankoski power plant which runs the district heating system for the area. Low-cost electricity warms the sand up to 500C by resistive heating (the same process that makes electric fires work). This generates hot air which is circulated in the sand by means of a heat exchanger. Sand is a very effective medium for storing heat and loses little over time. The developers say that their device could keep sand at 500C for several months. So when energy prices are higher, the battery discharges the hot air which warms water for the district heating system which is then pumped around homes, offices and even the local swimming pool.
Fields Medals in Mathematics Won by Four Under Age 40
Four mathematicians whose research covers areas like prime numbers and the packing of eight-dimensional spheres are the
latest recipients of the Fields Medals, which are given out once every four years to some of the most accomplished mathematicians under the age of 40. From a report:
At a ceremony in Helsinki on Tuesday, the International Mathematical Union, which administers the awards, bestowed the medals, made of 14-karat gold, to Hugo Duminil-Copin, 36, of the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques just south of Paris and the University of Geneva in Switzerland; June Huh, 39, of Princeton University; James Maynard, 35, of the University of Oxford in England; and Maryna Viazovska, 37, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.
Mark Braverman, 38, of Princeton University received the Abacus Medal, a newer award that was modeled after the Fields for young computer scientists. Dr. Viazovska is just the second woman to receive a Fields Medal, while Dr. Huh defies the stereotype of a math prodigy, having not been drawn into the field until he was already 23 and in his last year of college. The Fields Medals, first awarded in 1936, were conceived by John Charles Fields, a Canadian mathematician. They and the Abacus Medal are unusual among top academic honors in that they go to people who are still early in their careers -- younger than 40 years on Jan. 1 -- and honor not just past achievements but also the promise of future breakthroughs. That the Fields are given only once every four years adds prestige through rarity -- something more like gold medals at the Olympics. Another award, the Abel Prize, is modeled more on the Nobel Prize and recognizes mathematicians annually for work over their careers. The recipients learned months ago that they had been chosen but were told not to share the news with friends and colleagues.
NIST Announces First Four Quantum-Resistant Cryptographic Algorithms
NIST has announced winners of its post-quantum cryptography battle of the giants.
CRYSTALS-Kyber has been chosen for standard encryption, CRYSTALS-Dilithium, Falcon, and SPHINCS+ were chosen for digital signatures. Falcon is recommended by NIST as a backup for Dilithium where shorter keys are needed, and SPHINCS+ uses a different mathematical technique than all of the other submissions, so if it is found that there's a flaw in the maths for the others, then there's something to fall back on.
There is still a final round for public key encryption algorithms. The remaining candidates are BIKE, Classic McEliece, HQC, and SIKE.
The mailing list members probably wish that they could use Slashdot's moderation system about now, as some of the discussions have been extremely heated. This was especially true for the signature system Rainbow, which is used by the ABC Mint crypto-currency, which was rejected after what was claimed to be a catastrophic flaw was reported, with allegations that it could be broken over a weekend on a laptop, followed by counter-allegations that many of the other algorithms had significant flaws in them also. (This is likely why SPHINCS+ is a backup.)
Another area that was hotly debated was CPU design flaws, particularly HertzBleed, which got the well-known crypto maestro Bernstein rather annoyed. As SIKE is a final round candidate, NIST seem to be satisfied with his explanation for why CPU design flaws should not be considered. It is to be seen how this debate progresses.
Why Britain's New Stamps Are Causing Outrage and Upset
Royal Mail's stamps are finally entering the digital world, with printed codes that can be used to track letters or linked to videos. Collectors, traditionalists and royalists
are not amused. From a report:
In February, Royal Mail introduced a new design for its standard stamps, which have changed so little since the launch of the Penny Black in 1840 that they are officially known as "definitives." The new stamps -- "plum purple" for first class, "holly green" for second -- still feature the same regal profile introduced more than 50 years ago. But what is most bothering purists -- and leading Johnson to the brink of direct action -- is the addition next to the Queen of a digital barcode. The rectangular codes -- which look like QR codes but are apparently not QR codes, which are a particular, and trademarked, kind of code -- are designed to stop counterfeiting and to enable the tracking of all letters to improve efficiency. Correspondents will soon be able to share photo or video messages by linking digital content to their coded stamps. Recipients will view it via the Royal Mail app (currently the codes link to a short film featuring Shaun the Sheep and a plasticine postwoman).
[...] David Gold, the head of public affairs and policy at Royal Mail Group, knew the coded stamps would create a stir. "Collectors, traditionalists and royalists feel a sense of ownership over stamps," he says. It's why the new stamps, the designs for which had to be approved by Buckingham Palace, include a fake perforation as a kind of dignity screen between code and Queen (who is also, notably, facing the other way). Gold says the codes mean Royal Mail can track all letters, allowing it to better monitor, predict and respond to regional changes in demand, for example. He is also confident the unique codes will stop the fraudulent washing of postmark ink and resale of used stamps -- a crime that he claims costs Royal Mail "tens of millions" of pounds a year.
FedEx To Close Data Centers, Retire All Mainframes By 2024, Saving $400 Million
FedEx is to close its data centers and
retire all of its remaining mainframes within the next two years. Speaking during the FedEx investor day, FedEx CIO Rob Carter said the company is aiming for a "zero data center, zero mainframe" environment based in the cloud, which will result in $400 million in savings annually. From a report:
"We've been working across this decade to streamline and simplify our technology and systems," he said. "We've shifted to cloud...we've been eliminating monolithic applications one after the other after the other...we're moving to a zero data center, zero mainframe environment that's more flexible, secure, and cost-effective. Within the next two years we'll close the last few remaining data centers that we have, we'll eliminate the final 20 percent of the mainframe footprint, and we'll move the remaining applications to cloud-native structures that allow them to be flexibly deployed and used in the marketplace and business. While we're doing this, we'll achieve $400 million of annual savings."
HTC Quietly Announced a New Android Tablet, and Nobody Noticed
HTC, the once-impressive Android smartphone manufacturer,
has a surprise tablet to accompany its bizarre metaverse-focused Desire 22 Pro. From a report:
The new A101 is an Android tablet with a 10.1-inch display, entry-level specs, and a design that's straight out of the middle of the last decade. The device, which we spotted via AndroidPolice, appears to have been quietly announced last month -- according to the Wayback Machine -- and is aimed at the African market. It follows the A100 tablet, which was released in Russia last year to a similar non-reaction. Given that the tablet appears to be marketed solely at emerging markets, I don't want to be too snarky about its specs or design. But it's still just plain weird to see HTC -- makers of literally the first-ever Android phone and a company that Google once entrusted to build a Nexus-branded tablet (the Nexus 9) -- producing forgettable devices like this. The A101 even runs 2020's Android 11 out of the box, rather than Android 12 or the big-screen focused Android 12L.
EU Lawmakers Pass Landmark Tech Rules, But Enforcement a Worry
EU lawmakers gave the thumbs up on Tuesday to
landmark rules to rein in tech giants such as Alphabet unit Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, but enforcement could be hampered by regulators' limited resources. From a report:
In addition to the rules known as the Digital Markets Act (DMA), lawmakers also approved the Digital Services Act (DSA), which requires online platforms to do more to police the internet for illegal content. Companies face fines of up to 10% of annual global turnover for DMA violations and 6% for DSA breaches. Lawmakers and EU states had reached a political deal on both rule books earlier this year, leaving some details to be ironed out. The European Commission has set up a taskforce, with about 80 officials expected to join up, which critics say is inadequate. Last month it put out a 12 million euro ($12.3 million) tender for experts to help in investigations and compliance enforcement over a four-year period. EU industry chief Thierry Breton sought to address enforcement concerns, saying various teams would focus on different issues such as risk assessments, interoperability of messenger services and data access during implementation of the rules.
AI-Powered Technology Will Be Used To Speed Up VAR Offside Calls at World Cup
New AI-powered technology will be used at the Qatar World Cup, Fifa has confirmed, claiming it will
halve the time taken to make VAR offside decisions. From a report:
Semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) will see a complete overhaul of the system used to judge positional offside decisions in the lead-up to a goal. While a referee and their assistant will still make on-field calls and the referee will have a final say on SAOT decisions, the controversial practice of rewinding TV footage will be a thing of the past.
"Semi-automated offside technology is faster and more accurate and offers better communication to fans," said Pierluigi Collina, the chair of Fifa's referees committee. "It can create a new form of visualisation for supporters at home and in the ground. All tests have worked well and so [SAOT] is going into Qatar World Cup 2022." During the World Cup offside reviews will be conducted by creating a 3D map of the goalscoring action, using a combination of 12 cameras and a hi-tech ball. The Adidas Al Rihla ball will be fitted with a sensor that sends out location data 500 times per second, which will be matched against player positions on camera, with synchronised devices tracking 29 points on players' bodies and relaying information 50 times per second.
The West's Drought Could Bring About a Data Center Reckoning
When it comes to water use, data centers are the tech industry's secret water hogs -- and they
could soon come under increased scrutiny. From a report:
The West is parched, and getting more so by the day. Lake Mead -- the country's largest reservoir -- is nearing "dead pool" levels, meaning it may soon be too low to flow downstream. The entirety of the Four Corners plus California is mired in megadrought. Amid this desiccation, hundreds of the country's data centers use vast amounts of water to hum along. Dozens cluster around major metro centers, including those with mandatory or voluntary water restrictions in place to curtail residential and agricultural use.
Exactly how much water, however, is an open question given that many companies don't track it, much less report it. While their energy use and accompanying emissions have made more headlines, data centers' water usage is coming under increasing scrutiny. And as climate change makes water more scarce, pressure could grow on hyperscale data centers to disclose their water use and factor scarcity into where and how they operate. Centers consume water both directly (for liquid cooling) and indirectly (for non-renewable electricity generation). Roughly one-fifth of the data center servers in the U.S. source water directly from moderately to highly water-stressed watersheds, according to a 2021 analysis published in Environmental Research Letters.
Large Hadron Collider Discovers Three New Exotic Particles
The international LHCb collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has
observed three never-before-seen particles: a new kind of "pentaquark" and the first-ever pair of "tetraquarks," which includes a new type of tetraquark. The findings, presented today at a CERN seminar, add three new exotic members to the growing list of new hadrons found at the LHC. They will help physicists better understand how quarks bind together into these composite particles. From a report:
Quarks are elementary particles and come in six flavours: up, down, charm, strange, top and bottom. They usually combine together in groups of twos and threes to form hadrons such as the protons and neutrons that make up atomic nuclei. More rarely, however, they can also combine into four-quark and five-quark particles, or "tetraquarks" and "pentaquarks." These exotic hadrons were predicted by theorists at the same time as conventional hadrons, about six decades ago, but only relatively recently, in the past 20 years, have they been observed by LHCb and other experiments.
Most of the exotic hadrons discovered in the past two decades are tetraquarks or pentaquarks containing a charm quark and a charm antiquark, with the remaining two or three quarks being an up, down or strange quark or their antiquarks. But in the past two years, LHCb has discovered different kinds of exotic hadrons. Two years ago, the collaboration discovered a tetraquark made up of two charm quarks and two charm antiquarks, and two "open-charm" tetraquarks consisting of a charm antiquark, an up quark, a down quark and a strange antiquark. And last year it found the first-ever instance of a "double open-charm" tetraquark with two charm quarks and an up and a down antiquark. Open charm means that the particle contains a charm quark without an equivalent antiquark.
Twitter Sues India's Government Over Content Takedown Orders
sued the Indian government to challenge some of its takedown orders, TechCrunch reported Tuesday, further escalating the tension between the American social giant and New Delhi. From a report:
In its lawsuit, filed Tuesday, Twitter alleges that New Delhi has abused its power by ordering it to remove several tweets from its platform. The lawsuit follows a rough year and a half for Twitter in India, a key overseas market for the firm, where it has been asked to take down hundreds of accounts and tweets, many of which critics argue were objected because they denounced the Indian government's policies and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
'The Phone is Terrible For Cloud Gaming'
An anonymous reader
shares a column:
The promise of cloud gaming is that you can do it from anywhere using any device with internet access and a good enough browser (each cloud gaming service seems to have its own requirements on the browser front). You should be able to play super demanding games whether you're on a work trip with nothing but a work laptop or at home and the main TV is being hogged -- or even if you just don't feel like sitting on the couch. But the biggest promise of cloud gaming is that, no matter where you are, if you've got a phone then you've got all your games.
In practice, this is a bad idea. After spending the last few weeks rapturously using my Steam Deck near daily to play games in the cloud, I am never going to willingly attempt cloud gaming on my phone again. Valve's enormous do-anything handheld PC has made me realize that, actually, sometimes dedicated gaming hardware is good! The Swiss Army knife approach to mobile gaming promised by cloud gaming on your phone is about as useful as the saw on a real Swiss Army knife. I appreciate the effort, but I don't actually want to use it.
I've tried to make cloud gaming work on my phone a lot. I've attempted Red Dead Redemption 2 and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Halo and Gears of War and plenty of other games. Each time, I'm hit with wonder because, holy shit, these are demanding AAA games that usually require tons of expensive (and noisy) hardware playing on my phone. That feels like the delivery on a promise tech companies made me decades ago. But the wonder wears off when you cloud game on your phone for an extended period of time. Cloud gaming drains the phone's battery quickly, which means you can and will be feeling the battery anxiety.
Japanese Court Ruling Poised To Make Big Tech Open Up on Algorithms
Japanese legal experts have said an antitrust case related to a local restaurant website could change how large internet platforms such as Google, Facebook and Amazon operate in the country,
forcing them to reveal the inner workings of their secret algorithms. From a report:
Last month, a Tokyo court ruled in favour of Hanryumura, a Korean-style BBQ restaurant chain operator in an antitrust case brought against Kakaku.com, operator of Tabelog, Japan's largest restaurant review platform. Hanryumura successfully argued that Kakaku.com had altered the way user scores were tallied in ways that hurt sales at its restaurant outlets. While Kakaku.com has been ordered to pay Hanryumura $284,000 in damages for "abuse of superior bargaining position," the internet company has appealed against the decision.
Japanese legal experts said the outcome may have far-reaching implications, as the court requested Kakaku.com to disclose part of its algorithms. While the restaurant group is constrained from publicly revealing what information was shown to it, the court's request set a rare precedent. Big Tech groups have long argued that their algorithms should be considered trade secrets in all circumstances. Courts and regulators across the world have begun to challenge that position, with many businesses having complained about the negative impact caused by even small changes to search and recommendations services.