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Category Archives: science

http://phys.org/news/2016-08-scientists-dark-milky-massive-galaxy.html

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The idea of “obfuscating” a program had been around for decades, but no one had ever developed a rigorous mathematical framework for the concept, let alone created an unassailable obfuscation scheme. Over the years, commercial software companies have engineered various techniques for garbling a computer program so that it will be harder to understand while still performing the same function. But hackers have defeated every attempt. At best, these commercial obfuscators offer a “speed bump,” said Sahai, now a computer science professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “An attacker might need a few days to unlock the secrets hidden in your software, instead of a few minutes.”Secure program obfuscation would be useful for many applications, such as protecting software patches, obscuring the workings of the chips that read encrypted DVDs, or encrypting the software controlling military drones. More futuristically, it would allow people to create autonomous virtual agents that they could send out into the computing “cloud” to act on their behalf. If, for example, you were heading to a remote cabin in the woods for a vacation, you could create and then obfuscate a computer program that would inform your boss about emails you received from an important client, or alert your sister if your bank balance dropped too low. Your passwords and other secrets inside the program would be safe.

The latest surgeon general’s reporton the health effects of smoking — issued at the 50th anniversary of the pathbreaking 1964 report — offers astonishing new evidence of just how much harm tobacco is causing. Despite the many gains in reducing risks over the past half-century, researchers keep finding new and insidious ways in which smoking is harming the smokers themselves and nonsmokers who breathe in toxic fumes.The report, issued last Friday, finds that cigarette smoking kills even more Americans than previously estimated (about 480,000 a year, up from 443,000), and is a cause, though not necessarily the major cause, of even more diseases than previously recognized, including liver and colorectal cancers. These add to the long list of other cancers caused by smoking, as well as rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments. The report newly identifies exposure to secondhand smoke as a cause of strokes.The report estimates that smoking costs the United States between $289 billion and $333 billion a year for medical care and lost productivity, well above the previous estimate of $193 billion.Most shocking, the report finds that today’s smokers have a much higher risk for lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease than smokers in 1964, despite smoking fewer cigarettes.It reports that the risk of developing adenocarcinoma of the lung, the most common type of lung cancer, has increased substantially over the past several decades because of changes in the design and composition of cigarettes. These include ventilated filters that lead to more puffing of noxious materials and blended tobaccos that contain carcinogenic nitrosamines.There is no doubt who is to blame for this mess, the report says. It is the tobacco industry, which “aggressively markets and promotes lethal and addictive products,” continues to recruit youth and young adults as new customers, and has “deliberately misled the public on the risks of smoking cigarettes.”

As simple as a Brita pitcher is to use for filtering water, who has time to wait for gravity to do its work when you’re not at home? With a little downward force on your end, the Grayl cup will purify 16 ounces of water in just 15 seconds, making it better-tasting and safer to drink. It’s basically a french press that cleans your water, instead of turning it into brown sludge.

Using the Grayl is as simple as filling the outer container with water, and then slowly inserting the inner chamber which pushes the water through replaceable filters as it slides down. The $20 everyday filter is good for about three months or 300 uses and removes 99.99 percent of bacteria. But if you’re planning to fill up somewhere a little more risky, a $40 purifier is also available that removes 99.999 percent of bacteria, protozoa, and viruses.

As two-dimensional graphene has become one of the most lusted-after materials in science, many have wondered if there might be a 3D counterpart that we could actually build things with. A team of scientists at the Berkeley Lab just offered an affirmative answer. Well, almost.

A team lead by Oxford’s Yulin Chen just confirmed that a sodium-bismuth compound, Na3Bi, holds many of the same properties of graphene with the luxury of being thicker. This three-dimensional quantum matter was tested at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source and was shown to conduct electricity as well if not better than graphene. On top of that, the scientists also believe that it will work as a topological insulator, a material that’s conductive on the surface but insulates in bulk.

It is widely believed that people are bad at naming odors. This has led researchers to suggest smell representations are simply not accessible to the language centers of the brain. But is this really so? Psychologist Asifa Majid from Radboud University Nijmegen and linguist Niclas Burenhult from Lund University Sweden find new evidence for smell language in the Malay Peninsula.

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Many people can recall reading at least one cherished story that they say changed their life. Now researchers at Emory University have detected what may be biological traces related to this feeling: Actual changes in the brain that linger, at least for a few days, after reading a novel.

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After centuries of medical science I thought doctors knew every single bit of the human body. Incredibly enough,ScienceDaily reports on the discovery of a new body element called the anterolateral ligament, which apparently has been hiding all this time in our knees.

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Computer pioneer and codebreaker Alan Turing has been given a posthumous royal pardon.It addresses his 1952 conviction for homosexuality for which he was punished by being chemically castrated.

The conviction meant he lost his security clearance and had to stop the code-cracking work that had proved vital to the Allies in World War Two.

The pardon was granted under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy after a request by Justice Minister Chris Grayling.’Appalling’ treatment”Dr Alan Turing was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind,” said Mr Grayling.He said the research Turing carried out during the war at Bletchley Park undoubtedly shortened the conflict and saved thousands of lives.Turing’s work helped accelerate Allied efforts to read German Naval messages enciphered with the Enigma machine. He also contributed some more fundamental work on codebreaking that was only released to public scrutiny in April 2012.

“His later life was overshadowed by his conviction for homosexual activity, a sentence we would now consider unjust and discriminatory and which has now been repealed,” said Mr Grayling.”Turing deserves to be remembered and recognised for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science. A pardon from the Queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man.”

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