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文章 #1  未閱讀文章News Express[FIND] » 2021-05-15 11:30

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China is About To Try a High-Stakes Landing on Mars

China is all set to attempt its first landing on another planet. After months in orbit around Mars, the Tianwen-1 spacecraft will deposit a rover called Zhurong on the surface of Mars. If successful, China will become the second country in history to explore the Martian surface with a rover. From a report: Tianwen-1 arrived at Mars on February 10, marking the arrival of China's first independent interplanetary mission. Since then, Tianwen-1 has been making close approaches to Mars every 49 hours as it flies in an elliptical orbit around the planet, each time taking high-resolution images of the landing site in Utopia Planitia, a vast plain that may once have been covered by an ancient Martian ocean. Chinese officials have said the landing attempt would take place in mid-to-late May, and a report on Twitter quoted Ye Peijian of the China Association for Science and Technology saying the landing will take place on May 14 at 7:11 p.m. ET. This aligns with estimates from amateur radio astronomers tracking the spacecraft.

Mission scientists have been analyzing the topography and geology of Utopia Planitia to guide the spacecraft's landing attempt, and if they decide not to attempt a landing on May 14, they will have additional opportunities on May 16 and May 18. Named for an ancient Chinese fire god, the 529-pound Zhurong rover is similar in size to NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers, which landed on the red planet in 2004 and sent back exciting images and data about the planet's surface conditions. China's rover could make additional important discoveries concerning water and past habitability on the planet, paving the way for future human missions to Mars.

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Facebook Loses Challenge To Irish Watchdog's Data Curbs

Facebook lost a court fight over an initial order from a European Union privacy watchdog threatening its transfers of users' data across the Atlantic. From a report: An Irish court on Friday rejected the social network's challenge, saying it didn't establish "any basis" for calling into question the Irish Data Protection Commission's decision. The dispute is part of the fallout from July's shock decision at the EU's Court of Justice, which toppled the so-called Privacy Shield, an EU-approved trans-Atlantic transfer tool, over fears citizens' data isn't safe once shipped to the U.S. That EU court ruling was quickly followed by a preliminary order from the Irish authority telling Facebook it could no longer use an alternative tool, known as standard contractual clauses, to satisfy privacy rules when shipping data to the U.S.

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Darkside Ransomware Gang Says It Lost Control of Its Servers, Money a Day After Biden Threat

A day after US President Joe Biden said the US plans to disrupt the hackers behind the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, the operator of the Darkside ransomware said the group lost control of its web servers and some of the funds it made from ransom payments. From a report: "A few hours ago, we lost access to the public part of our infrastructure, namely: Blog. Payment server. CDN servers," said Darksupp, the operator of the Darkside ransomware, in a post spotted by Recorded Future threat intelligence analyst Dmitry Smilyanets. "Now these servers are unavailable via SSH, and the hosting panels are blocked," said the Darkside operator while also complaining that the web hosting provider refused to cooperate. In addition, the Darkside operator also reported that cryptocurrency funds were also withdrawn from the gang's payment server, which was hosting ransom payments made by victims. The funds, which the Darkside gang was supposed to split between itself and its affiliates (the threat actors who breach networks and deploy the ransomware), were transferred to an unknown wallet, Darksupp said. This sudden development comes after US authorities announced their intention to go after the gang.

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Gaming's Biggest Space Opera Returns

The iconic spacefaring adventure "Mass Effect" is back today with "Mass Effect: Legendary Edition," a single, remastered version of all three games. From a report: There is no series like "Mass Effect" -- even when it comes to BioWare's other choice-driven RPGs like "Dragon Age." "Mass Effect" is a big ol' space adventure first and foremost, but it's also about loyalty, love, and tough calls. "Mass Effect" follows Commander Shepard -- a hero players can customize for looks and gender -- across three games as they wage war against a galactic threat known as the Reapers. Key choices carry through all three games, whether it's who survives, or who you ally yourself with.

"Mass Effect" (2007) is a classic sci-fi thriller, where Shepard races to stop a turncoat operative hungry for power.
"Mass Effect 2" (2010) is a miscreant adventure centered on building a ragtag squad, culminating in a final "suicide" mission where everyone's survival is on the line.
"Mass Effect 3" (2012) brings the trilogy to a close through a more somber, war-focused story about loss and consequence.

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Maker of Expensive Japanese Toaster Gets Into Smartphone Business

Balmuda, a Japanese design company known for its stylish appliances, has announced plans to make a smartphone. From a report: There aren't many details on the device itself yet, but it'll be a 5G handset that's expected to be released in November. SoftBank will sell it as a carrier model, while Balmuda will also offer an unlocked version. In its announcement, Balmuda notes that since the smartphone business is getting increasingly commoditized, the company wants to provide an experience that only it can.

However, the actual manufacturing is out of Balmuda's wheelhouse, so it's partnering with Kyocera on the phone. Balmuda has a fairly limited product line for the home including air purifiers, humidifiers, lights, speakers, rice cookers, and so on. Its best known product is a toaster called "Balmuda The Toaster," which sells for 25,850 yen (about $235, though it's available in the US for $329 through the MoMa Design Store) and uses steam to ensure your shokupan, among other things, is perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Bloomberg reported five years ago that it had become a cult hit in Japan with a three-month waiting time to buy one.

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Top Researchers Are Calling For a Broader Investigation Into the Origin of Covid-19

In a letter in the journal Science, 18 prominent biologists -- including the world's foremost coronavirus researcher -- are lending their weight to calls for a new investigation of all possible origins of the virus, and calling on China's laboratories and agencies to "open their records" to independent analysis.

UPDATE:The New York Times points out that at least one of the signers, an epidemiologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, told them explicitly that "I think it is more likely than not that SARS-CoV-2 emerged from an animal reservoir rather than a lab." And the Times notes that "Unlike other recent statements, the new letter did not come down in favor of one scenario or another."

But Kristian Andersen, a virologist at the Scripps Research Institute, still points out to the Times that "the letter suggests a false equivalence between the lab escape and natural origin scenarios. To this day, no credible evidence has been presented to support the lab leak hypothesis, which remains grounded in speculation."

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Language Models Like GPT-3 Could Herald a New Type of Search Engine

An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT Technology Review: In 1998 a couple of Stanford graduate students published a paper describing a new kind of search engine: "In this paper, we present Google, a prototype of a large-scale search engine which makes heavy use of the structure present in hypertext. Google is designed to crawl and index the Web efficiently and produce much more satisfying search results than existing systems." The key innovation was an algorithm called PageRank, which ranked search results by calculating how relevant they were to a user's query on the basis of their links to other pages on the web. On the back of PageRank, Google became the gateway to the internet, and Sergey Brin and Larry Page built one of the biggest companies in the world. Now a team of Google researchers has published a proposal for a radical redesign that throws out the ranking approach and replaces it with a single large AI language model, such as BERT or GPT-3 -- or a future version of them. The idea is that instead of searching for information in a vast list of web pages, users would ask questions and have a language model trained on those pages answer them directly. The approach could change not only how search engines work, but what they do -- and how we interact with them.

[Donald Metzler and his colleagues at Google Research] are interested in a search engine that behaves like a human expert. It should produce answers in natural language, synthesized from more than one document, and back up its answers with references to supporting evidence, as Wikipedia articles aim to do. Large language models get us part of the way there. Trained on most of the web and hundreds of books, GPT-3 draws information from multiple sources to answer questions in natural language. The problem is that it does not keep track of those sources and cannot provide evidence for its answers. There's no way to tell if GPT-3 is parroting trustworthy information or disinformation -- or simply spewing nonsense of its own making.

Metzler and his colleagues call language models dilettantes -- "They are perceived to know a lot but their knowledge is skin deep." The solution, they claim, is to build and train future BERTs and GPT-3s to retain records of where their words come from. No such models are yet able to do this, but it is possible in principle, and there is early work in that direction. There have been decades of progress on different areas of search, from answering queries to summarizing documents to structuring information, says Ziqi Zhang at the University of Sheffield, UK, who studies information retrieval on the web. But none of these technologies overhauled search because they each address specific problems and are not generalizable. The exciting premise of this paper is that large language models are able to do all these things at the same time, he says.

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'Black Fungus' Complication Adds To India's COVID Woes

The Indian government has told doctors to look out for signs of mucormycosis or "black fungus" in COVID-19 patients as hospitals report a rise in cases of the rare but potentially fatal infection. From a report: The state-run Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said at the weekend that doctors treating COVID-19 patients, diabetics and those with compromised immune systems should watch for early symptoms including sinus pain or nasal blockage on one side of the face, one-sided headache, swelling or numbness, toothache and loosening of teeth.

The disease, which can lead to blackening or discolouration over the nose, blurred or double vision, chest pain, breathing difficulties and coughing blood, is strongly linked to diabetes. And diabetes can in turn be exacerbated by steroids such as dexamethasone, used to treat severe COVID-19. "There have been cases reported in several other countries - including the UK, U.S., France, Austria, Brazil and Mexico, but the volume is much bigger in India," said David Denning, a professor at Britain's Manchester University and an expert at the Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections (GAFFI) charity. Further reading about the 'black fungus': BBC; NPR, the New York Times, and the Guardian.

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Confronting Disinformation Spreaders on Twitter Only Makes It Worse, MIT Scientists Say

According to a new study conducted by researchers at MIT, being corrected online just makes the original posters more toxic and obnoxious. From a report: Basically, the new thinking is that correcting fake news, disinformation, and horrible tweets at all is bad and makes everything worse. This is a "perverse downstream consequence for debunking," and is the exact title of MIT research published in the '2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.' The core takeaway is that "being corrected by another user for posting false political news increases subsequent sharing of low quality, partisan, and toxic content."

The MIT researchers' work is actually a continuation of their study into the effects of social media. This recent experiment started because the team had previously discovered something interesting about how people behave online. "In a recent paper published in Nature, we found that a simple accuracy nudge -- asking people to judge the accuracy of a random headline -- improved the quality of the news they shared afterward (by shifting their attention towards the concept of accuracy)," David Rand, an MIT researcher and co-author of the paper told Motherboard in an email. "In the current study, we wanted to see whether a similar effect would happen if people who shared false news were directly corrected," he said. "Direct correction could be an even more powerful accuracy prime -- or, it could backfire by making people feel defensive or focusing their attention on social factors (eg embarrassment) rather than accuracy."

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'Scheme Flooding' Technique May Be Used To Deanonymize You

sandbagger shares a report from The Register: FingerprintJS, maker of a browser-fingerprinting library for fraud prevention, on Thursday said it has identified a more dubious fingerprinting technique capable of generating a consistent identifier across different desktop browsers, including the Tor Browser. Konstantin Darutkin, senior software engineer at FingerprintJS, said in a blog post that the company has dubbed the privacy vulnerability "scheme flooding." The name refers to abusing custom URL schemes, which make web links like "skype://" or "slack://" prompt the browser to open the associated application. "The scheme flooding vulnerability allows an attacker to determine which applications you have installed," explains Darutkin. "In order to generate a 32-bit cross-browser device identifier, a website can test a list of 32 popular applications and check if each is installed or not."

Visiting the schemeflood.com site using a desktop (not mobile) browser and clicking on the demo will generate a flood of custom URL scheme requests using a pre-populated list of likely apps. A browser user would typically see a pop-up permission modal window that says something like, "Open Slack.app? A website wants to open this application. [canel] [Open Slack.app]." But in this case, the demo script just cancels if the app is present or reads the error as confirmation of the app's absence. It then displays the icon of the requested app if found, and moves on to its next query. The script uses each app result as a bit to calculate the identifier. The fact that the identifier remains consistent across different browsers means that cross-browser tracking is possible, which violates privacy expectations.

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'I Made Doge In Like Two Hours': Dogecoin Creator Says He 'Didn't Consider' Environmental Impact

One of the creators of dogecoin has noted that he "didn't consider" the environmental impact of the cryptocurrency, which was initially created as a joke. The Independent reports: The comments from Billy Markus, one of the people who helped create dogecoin in the first place, when it was intended partly as a joke, came in response to a tweet from Elon Musk. Mr Musk had been attempting to clarify his position on cryptocurrency generally, in the wake of his statement about Tesla. "To be clear, I strongly believe in crypto, but it can't drive a massive increase in fossil fuel use, especially coal," Mr Musk had written. In response, Mr Markus sent a crying face emoji, which he later clarified he had meant to indicate "aw man, you right, environment stuff." In reply to that, Mr Markus was asked whether he had considered energy usage when creating the cryptocurrency. "i made doge in like 2 hours i didn't consider anything," he wrote.

Dogecoin was created in 2013, in reference to the meme and to poke fun at the vast numbers of cryptocurrencies that had been launched. But Mr Markus helped build the technical foundations that allow it to practically work, too. Like bitcoin, dogecoin requires miners to undertake complex cryptographical puzzles to create new bitcoins. That system, known as proof-of-work, relies on large amounts of computing power that use considerable amounts of energy, much of which is generated from fossil fuels.

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TSMC Is Considering a 3nm Foundry In Arizona

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Reuters reports that TSMC -- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the chip foundry making advanced processors for Apple, AMD, and Qualcomm -- is beefing up its plans to build factories in Arizona while turning away from an advanced plant in Europe. Last year, TSMC announced that it would invest $10-$12 billion to build a new 5 nm capable foundry near Phoenix, Arizona. According to Reuters' sources, TSMC officials are considering trebling the company's investment by building a $25 billion second factory capable of building 3 nm chips. More tentative plans are in the works for 2 nm foundries as the Phoenix campus grows over the next 10-15 years as well. TSMC's focus on the US rather than Europe may have a lot to do with the company's market -- in Q1 2021, 67 percent of its sales were in North America, 17 percent were in Asia Pacific, and only 6 percent came from Europe and the Middle East. The majority of TSMC's European clients are auto manufacturers who buy cheaper and less-advanced chips.

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A Toshiba Business Unit Says It Has Been Attacked By Hacking Group DarkSide

A division of Toshiba said in a statement on Friday that its European business has been hit by a cyberattack by cyber criminal group DarkSide, which is the same group that the U.S. FBI blamed for the Colonial Pipeline attack. According to a Toshiba spokesperson, the attack occurred the evening of May 4. CNBC reports: The Toshiba unit, which sells self-checkout technology and point-of-sale systems to retailers, told CNBC that it has not paid a ransom. "They required money, but we didn't contact them and didn't pay any money," a spokesperson said. Toshiba Tec said that a "minimal" amount of work data was stolen in a ransomware attack. No leaks of the data have been detected so far and protective measures were put in place after the cyber-attack, the company said. Further reading: Darkside Ransomware Gang Says It Lost Control of Its Servers, Money a Day After Biden Threat

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Apple Patents a Way To Deliver 3D Content Without 3D Glasses

Apple has patented the ability to deliver 3D content to devices like the iPhone, iPad and Macs without requiring 3D glasses. From a report: The company recently filed a patent with the heading of "Split-screen driving of electronic device displays." And the tech it describes means that flat screens on smartphones and tablets will be able to show an image in 3D without the viewer having to wear any glasses or VR headset. The idea is that iPhone and iPad screen will be able to display two different images simultaneously, in a way that will fool your brain into seeing a three-dimensional image.

Yes, there are already devices that do this, but the patent notes that existing methods are "problematic," stating: "it can be difficult to provide this type of content on a multi-function device such as a smartphone or a tablet without generating visible artifacts such as motion blur, luminance offsets, or other effects which can be unpleasant or even dizzying to a viewer." The rest of the patent application goes into a great deal of depth about how Apple plans to resolve these problems, and create a smooth 3D viewing experience on a flat screen without the need for glasses. This is gets hugely technical, but starts from the notion that the screen switches between left and right sides of an image via alternating pixel rows.

The patent is also quite vague about how this will all work on a practical level. It doesn't state, for example, what angle viewers will need to position their iPhone or iPad at to get the effect. But it does show that Apple is serious about developing this tech, and has put some proper thought into it.

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Mammals Can Breathe Through Their Intestines

fahrbot-bot shares a report from Gizmodo: When pressed for oxygen, some fish and sea cucumbers will use their lower intestines to get a little extra out of their environment. Now, a team of Japanese researchers say that mammals are also capable of respirating through their rectal cavity, at least in a lab setting. The team's research is published today in the journal Med and describes the capacity for mice, rats, and pigs to survive longer and have more strength in low-oxygen circumstances when given oxygen gas or an oxygen-rich liquid through their rectums, in a process similar to an enema. While fish like loaches and catfish use a similar method to gain additional oxygen in the natural world, this doesn't appear to be an evolutionary adaptation for mammals. In other words, mammalian bodies can't naturally do this, but with a little push from modern science, it becomes possible. Previous research has seen oxygen injected directly into mammalian bloodstreams, prolonging the lives of rabbits, but the rectal approach to the low-oxygen problem is novel.

The experiment, while disturbing, was designed to find new ways to save the lives of people whose lungs are failing. These treatments prolonged the animals' survival in a low-oxygen setting by staving off respiratory failure. Mice were given both the gas and liquid oxygen delivery methods, while the rats and pigs only received the liquid treatment. In a lab-controlled hypoxic setting (a chamber that was 9.5% oxygenated), mice without the supplemental oxygenation died after about 11 minutes. With the treatment, three-quarters of the tested mice survived for nearly an hour in the same lethal conditions. ScienceAlert adds these details: Initially, their research subjects were mice, who were thankfully anesthetized for the next part. The researchers developed an oxygen ventilation system to be inserted anally; they induced hypoxia via tracheal intubation, and compared mice ventilated intestinally to control mice who received no ventilation. Of the control mice, not a single one survived longer than 11 minutes. This was in marked contrast to the mice receiving intestinal oxygen, 75 percent of which survived for 50 minutes.

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