Daily Archives: April 2, 2018



By Elana Glowatz On Monday, April 2, 2018 – 12:02

The debris floating around Earth includes leftover pieces from SpaceX rocket launches.

The wayward Chinese space station Tiangong-1 crashed into the Pacific on Sunday night, ending a weeks-long brouhaha as people wondered whether the parts that survived the spacecraft’s fiery rush through Earth’s atmosphere would land on their heads.

While the defunct station dropped safely in the water, there’s plenty more garbage around the planet that could cause trouble.

For starters, Earth’s lower orbit is choked with hundreds of thousands of space debris pieces that remain from old satellites and equipment like launchers dating back as far as the start of the Space Race. Although most are small, they are moving as fast as 17,500 miles per hour—a speed about 10 times faster than a bullet—and can do some damage, no matter how tiny.

Visualizing that amount of material can be rough, so the website Stuff in Space can help bring it home. It shows what a cluttered mess Earth’s orbit is. It also allows the user to sort the space junk by source if, for example, someone wanted to see what SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets have left behind. The most recent addition is some leftovers from a rocket body that is cruising at about 8,700 miles above the Earth and moving about 2.5 miles per second—or 9,000 miles per hour.

Scientists have been struggling for years to figure out what to do with space debris. Collisions have made small impacts in the International Space Station, which poses a risk to astronauts living there. The debris also narrows the spots through which space agencies and companies can launch future missions to Mars or neighboring solar systems.

One recent concept is a space “harpoon,” which the company Airbus is building to throw at a large satellite called Envisat that is out of commission. The harpoon would pierce the satellite and then move it in such a way that it would burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists in China, the nation behind the Tiangong-1, have proposed using lasers to break up the larger chunks into smaller pieces.

See All Of The Best Photos Of The Week In These Slideshows

Until the world’s experts figure out what to do with all the space trash up there, you can keep an eye on the debris and track the pieces that fall to Earth on Satview. It also shows the satellites in orbit, of which more than 1,700 are still operating.

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How Tiangong-1 Compares to the ISS
Tiangoing-1: China’s Space Station Crashes to Earth
Incredible Tiangong-1 Image Captured
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By Kristin Hugo On Monday, April 2, 2018 – 11:03

An illustration of human DNA.

Update |

At-home DNA tests are “not intended for medical use,” meaning that the data they give you shouldn’t be used as a replacement for a real medical diagnosis.

At-home genetic testing companies like 23andMe, Ancestry.com, Family Tree DNA and My Heritage are gaining popularity as a relatively cheap way to understand one’s ethnicity and genetic history.

Yet new research suggests that some results identifing genetic issues may be innaccurate—and that as much as 40 percent of analyses of these at-home genetic tests implying genetic disorders could be innacurate.

Researchers at AmbryGenetics conducted a study of 49 individuals who had done “direct-to-consumer” DNA tests who then sent their genetic results to third parties for analysis. AmbryGenetics then checked those analyses with a more detailed and expensive genetic test. They found that only 60 percent of the genetic variance results could be confirmed.

While this is a relatively small sample of 49 people, the thirteen results that came from the company 23andMe were confirmed accurate. In an email to Newsweek, they noted that their product “undergoes an incredibly rigorous, FDA-mandated accuracy review process – much more rigorous than this study which only used 49 samples from several different companies, whereas we test hundreds of samples.”

The study was published Monday in the journal Nature.

See All Of The Best Photos Of The Week In These Slideshows

Companies often send back raw data containing a complicated list of gene abnormalities that can imply that a person is more likely to have a disorder. The FDA said that they can’t advertise as a way to diagnose diseases, but 23andMe specifically has permission to market genetic health risk tests for certain conditions.

Some companies simply offer the raw DNA data for their customers to do what they like with it. That data comes with a disclaimer that the results are not verified for accuracy.

The authors of the study noted that reading false results about genetic disorders could lead to people taking better preventative care of themselves, but also might create needless anxiety over a nonexistent issue for them. The authors wrote that it was important for doctors to order tests that truly confirmed a condition before treating it.

This article has been updated with information from 23andMe.

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DNA of Cockroaches Explains Why They Are So Strong
Early Humans Had More Sex Than Expected With Denisovans
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Consequence of Sound 2001: A Space Odyssey returning to theaters in 70mm for 50th anniversary

Consequence of Sound
2001: A Space Odyssey returning to theaters in 70mm for 50th anniversary

“Unrestored” version will feature no digital tricks, remastered effects, or revisionist edits”

BY BEN KAYEON APRIL 02, 2018, 10:46AM

2001: A Space Odyssey
If you’re half crazy all for the love of Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, you’re in luck. To mark its 50th anniversary, Warner Bros.’ is opening its archives’ pod bay doors to present a theatrical re-release of the film.

Docking in select theaters on May 18th, WB’s reissue is an “unrestored” 70mm print “struck from new printing elements made from the original camera negative,” according to a studio statement (via The Wrap). “This is a true photochemical film recreation. There are no digital tricks, remastered effects, or revisionist edits.” That means the movie will be presented in a way that’s as close to Kubrick’s original vision as possible.

(Read: Ranking: Every Stanley Kubrick Film from Worst to Best)

This new 70mm print will make its debut at Cannes Film Festival with an introduction from Christopher Nolan. The director called the chance to introduce one of his favorite works of cinema in “all its analog glory… an honor and a privilege.”

A fully restored version of 2001 will also be available on DVD and Blu-ray later this year. Revisit the original trailer below.

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INTERNET INSECURITY: Chrome Is Scanning Files on Your Computer


Chrome Is Scanning Files on Your Computer, and People Are Freaking Out
Some cybersecurity experts and regular users were surprised to learn about a Chrome tool that scans Windows computers for malware. But there’s no reason to freak out about it.



Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai
Apr 2 2018, 12:37pm

Image: pixinoo/Shutterstock

The browser you likely use to read this article scans practically all files on your Windows computer. And you probably had no idea until you read this. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

Last year, Google announced some upgrades to Chrome, by far the world’s most used browser—and the one security pros often recommend. The company promised to make internet surfing on Windows computers even “cleaner” and “safer ” adding what The Verge called “basic antivirus features.” What Google did was improve something called Chrome Cleanup Tool for Windows users, using software from cybersecurity and antivirus company ESET.

Tensions around the issue of digital privacy are understandably high following Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, but as far as we can tell there is no reason to worry here, and what Google is doing is above board.

In practice, Chome on Windows looks through your computer in search of malware that targets the Chrome browser itself using ESET’s antivirus engine. If it finds some suspected malware, it sends metadata of the file where the malware is stored, and some system information, to Google. Then, it asks you to for permission to remove the suspected malicious file. (You can opt-out of sending information to Google by deselecting the “Report details to Google” checkbox.)

A screenshot of the Chrome pop-up that appears if Chrome Cleanup Tool detects malware on your Windows computer.
Last week, Kelly Shortridge, who works at cybersecurity startup SecurityScorecard, noticed that Chrome was scanning files in the Documents folder of her Windows computer.

“In the current climate, it really shocked me that Google would so quietly roll out this feature without publicizing more detailed supporting documentation—even just to preemptively ease speculation,” Shortridge told me in an online chat. “Their intentions are clearly security-minded, but the lack of explicit consent and transparency seems to violate their own criteria of ‘user-friendly software’ that informs the policy for Chrome Cleanup [Tool].”

Her tweet got a lot of attention and caused other people in the infosec community—as well as average users such as me—to scratch their heads.

“Nobody likes surprises,” Haroon Meer, the founder at security consulting firm Thinkst, told me in an online chat. “When people fear a big brother, and tech behemoths going too far…a browser touching files it has no business to touch is going to set off alarm bells.”

Now, to be clear, this doesn’t mean Google can, for example, see photos you store on your windows machine. According to Google, the goal of Chrome Cleanup Tool is to make sure malware doesn’t mess up with Chrome on your computer by installing dangerous extensions, or putting ads where they’re not supposed to be.

Read more: The Motherboard Guide to Not Getting Hacked

As the head of Google Chrome security Justin Schuh explained on Twitter, the tool’s “sole purpose is to detect and remove unwanted software manipulating Chrome.” Moreover, he added, the tool only runs weekly, it only has normal user privileges (meaning it can’t go too deep into the system), is “sandboxed” (meaning its code is isolated from other programs), and users have to explicitly click on that box screenshotted above to remove the files and “cleanup.”

In other words, Chrome Cleanup Tool is less invasive than a regular “cloud” antivirus that scans your whole computer (including its more sensitive parts such as the kernel) and uploads some data to the antivirus company’s servers.

But as Johns Hopkins professor Matthew Green put it, most people “are just a little creeped out that Chrome started poking through their underwear drawer without asking.”

That’s the problem here: most users of an internet browser probably don’t expect it to scan and remove files on their computers.

When reached out for comment, a Google spokesperson redirected me to the blog post from last year and Schuh’s tweets.

Got a tip? You can contact this reporter securely on Signal at +1 917 257 1382, OTR chat at lorenzo@jabber.ccc.de, or email lorenzo@motherboard.tv

A section in Chrome’s Privacy Whitepaper explains that “Chrome periodically scans your device to detect potentially unwanted software.” That exact language has been there since at least January of 2017, according to archived versions of the whitepaper. And similar language (“Chrome scans your computer periodically for the sole purpose of detecting potentially unwanted software”) has been there for even longer.

Martijn Grooten, the editor of Virus Bulletin and organizer of one of the premiere antivirus conferences in the world, told me in a Twitter chat that the behavior of the Chrome Cleanup Tool was “sensible.”

“For almost all users, this seems really harmless, and for those who are extremely concerned about Google seeing some metadata, maybe they shouldn’t be running Google’s browser in the first place,” he said.

This story has been updated to include a quote from Kelly Shortridge.

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THE GUARDIAN Teachers vow to oppose introduction of baseline assessments Richard Adams

Teachers vow to oppose introduction of baseline assessments
Richard Adams

Teachers have vowed to oppose the government’s plans to assess children in the first weeks of school, as the country’s largest teaching union called for a boycott of pilot schemes planned for next year.

The baseline assessments, to be taken at the start of a child’s reception year in primary schools in England, were proposed by the government last year as a replacement for national tests in year 2, when children would be seven years old.

But delegates at the National Education Union’s annual conference in Brighton voted against cooperating with the new tests, which are likely to be rolled out for the first time on a voluntary basis in schools from September 2019.

Sats for seven-year-olds in England to be scrapped
Read more
The Department for Education argues that the assessments will simply measure the emerging abilities of children at the point they start formal education, and be used to measure their later progress. But NEU members heard that the assessments could distract children when they first arrive in school.

Katharine Lindenberg, a teacher from Waltham Forest in London, said the baseline tests were unnecessary, expensive and even immoral.

“Baseline tests will be given to four-year-olds in the first weeks of reception. They are unnecessary, they are pointless, they are expensive and above all they are damaging and they are immoral.

“This is a time when children should be building their confidence, gaining trust with their teachers and support staff. Learning through play, establishing routines. They will become data, that is what baseline testing is all about,” Lindenberg said.

The government first attempted to introduce baseline assessments for reception classes in 2015. But the move was undermined by the DfE’s insistence on using several private providers, and the tests collapsed after research showed the different assessments were incompatible.

Alex Kenny, a member of the NEU’s executive, said: “We want to pile pressure on heads and governors to say that they won’t volunteer to take part in baseline in 2019.

“But if that pressure doesn’t work, we will combine it with indicative ballots so that we can identify the schools and areas where we can use industrial action if heads say they will go ahead with the pilot.”

Earlier, the conference delegates endorsed a motion in support of public libraries as a way of introducing children to books.

Jennifer Bhambri-Lyte, a delegate from North Somerset, said some children were so unfamiliar with books that they thought they operated like tablets or smartphones.

“In a world of food banks, as my colleagues have previously talked about, books are a luxury that many families just cannot afford,” she said.

Figures show children worst hit by library cuts
Read more
“Sharing a book brings parents together for precious moments, and I’ve taught both nursery and reception and I personally still find it disturbing to see a child pick up a book and try to swipe left.”

Kevin Courtney, the joint general secretary of the NEU, said while there was a statutory requirement for prisons to have libraries, there was no such rule for schools – meaning that many relied on council-run libraries.

“Given the closure of many public libraries, we are losing the tools to create confident, excited young readers,” Courtney said.

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Today’s Holiday: Georgiritt

Today’s Holiday:

St. George is honored each year at Traunstein in Bavaria, Germany, on Easter Monday to commemorate the legend of George’s victory over the dragon that was threatening the pagan city of Sylene. Because St. George is usually depicted on horseback, the farmers of Traunstein decorate their own horses with garlands and ribbons and ride them across the fields and three times around the parish church. After the local priest blesses the horses and other animals, the procession turns toward the village. The festival ends with ritualistic sword dances that have been handed down from medieval times.

More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

Today’s Birthday: Giacomo Casanova (1725)

Today’s Birthday:
Giacomo Casanova (1725)

Although his name is now synonymous with philandering playboys, Casanova was initially a man of the church. Expelled from an Italian seminary for scandalous conduct, he was later denounced as a magician and imprisoned. He escaped and traveled widely before becoming a spy for Venetian inquisitors. His huge autobiography, first published in 12 volumes, paints a vivid picture of 18th-century Europe and established his reputation as a seducer. He spent his last years in what rather tame occupation? More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

This Day in History: Sverdlovsk Anthrax Leak (1979)

This Day in History:
Sverdlovsk Anthrax Leak (1979)

Known as the “biological Chernobyl,” the accidental release of anthrax at a Russian military facility in Sverdlovsk—now Yekaterinburg—roughly 900 mi (1,450 km) east of Moscow, sickened and killed around 100 people. The exact number of victims remains unknown because, as part of the Soviet government’s cover-up of the incident, which it blamed on tainted meat, all of the victims’ medical records were destroyed. What fortuitous weather condition likely prevented a much greater loss of life? More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

Quote of the Day: Arthur Conan Doyle

Quote of the Day:
Arthur Conan Doyle

Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another.

More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

Article of the Day: Autogyros

Article of the Day:

An autogyro is a type of aircraft characterized by a free-spinning horizontal rotor that turns due to passage of air upward through the blades. Whereas a helicopter achieves lift with powered rotor blades that push air downward, an autogyro’s rotor is driven by aerodynamic forces alone. Invented by Spanish engineer Juan de la Cierva and first flown in 1923, the autogyro gained popularity before it was eclipsed by the more practical helicopter. What is the top speed reached by an autogyro? More…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

Idiom of the Day: the march of time

Idiom of the Day:
the march of time

The steady, unstoppable advancement of time. Watch the video…: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch

Word of the Day: moonshine

Word of the Day:

Definition: (noun) Whiskey illegally distilled from a corn mash.
Synonyms: bootleg, corn liquor
Usage: I drank too much moonshine last night, and now I have a terrible hangover.: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tfd.mobile.TfdSearch