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  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PDT/-7.0/DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.

Texas’ “failsafe” generators failed, risking weeks-long catastrophe

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 9:50am
A worker repairs a power line in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.

Enlarge / A worker repairs a power line in Austin, Texas, on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (credit: Thomas Ryan Allison/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Texas’ days-long power outages during last February’s deep freeze almost stretched into weeks or even months thanks to a string of failures at “black start” generators.

More than half of the state’s 28 black start generators, which are crucial for bringing a collapsed grid back to life, experienced outages themselves, according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal. Of the 13 primary generators, nine encountered trouble, as did six of 15 secondary generators acting as backups in case the primary backups failed. Some had trouble getting enough fuel to run, while others were damaged by the cold weather.

“Having had experience for almost two decades with utilities, it’s genuinely inconceivable to me—even in today’s massively deregulated environment—I cannot imagine how any regulatory oversight got itself into this position,” said Evan Wilner, who served as Delaware’s first public advocate representing utility customers.

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Engineered virus and goggles restore object recognition in a blind man

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 9:26am
Image of a seated person wearing a red cap and goggles.

Enlarge / The goggles in use. The red cap isn't part of the system; it holds electrodes that are tracking the participant's brain activity. (credit: Sahel et. al.)

Our nerves' electrical impulses are created by a class of proteins called ion channels, which let ions flow into and out of cells. But controlling the flow of ions has uses that go well beyond creating nerve impulses, and there are many other channels made by cells—and even some made by bacteria and other organisms that don't have nerves.

Scientists have discovered channels that only allow ions to flow after being triggered by light of specific wavelengths. When placed back into nerve cells, the channels turned out to be useful, as they allowed researchers to activate nerves using nothing but light. This discovery created an entire field of research—optogenetics—which has demonstrated that even complicated behaviors like socializing can be controlled with light.

But light-activated nerve activity is also part of normal biology, in the form of our eyes. The development of channels as a research tool has raised the prospect of using them to treat failing vision. In an important proof of concept, researchers have now used a light-sensitive channel and some specialized goggles to allow someone who is otherwise blind to locate objects.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

How I learned to love the Indianapolis 500, America’s greatest race

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 7:34am
Scott Dixon has won six IndyCar championships and one Indy 500. On Sunday, he will start the 105th Indy 500 from pole position.

Enlarge / Scott Dixon has won six IndyCar championships and one Indy 500. On Sunday, he will start the 105th Indy 500 from pole position. (credit: Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As an immigrant, it took me a while to properly appreciate the Indianapolis 500. Taking place this coming Sunday, the race is one of the oldest in the world, and it's the largest single-day sporting event of the year, to boot. To the uninitiated, 200 laps on a track with only four corners doesn't seem that complicated. But consider the fact that the 33 drivers still lap at an average speed of more than 220 mph (354 km/h), often inches from each other—and from the wall that lines the 2.5-mile (4 km) oval—and everything comes into perspective.

The race usually takes place on the same day as F1's Monaco Grand Prix (and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600), but it's now the highlight of the day for me, usually offering up about three hours of close but unpredictable racing. The demands on the driver are high—unlike in F1, an IndyCar has no power steering, for one thing.

And the addition of the aeroscreen has resulted in a considerable increase in cockpit temperatures now that drivers are no longer exposed to airflow. On top of that, teams need to manage their tire and fuel strategies and perfectly execute each pit stop if they want a shot at victory. It's a daunting challenge that has bested even legendary drivers like F1 double champion Fernando Alonso.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Covert channel in Apple’s M1 is mostly harmless, but it sure is interesting

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 5:15am
Logo for Apple's M1 line.

Enlarge (credit: Apple)

Apple's new M1 CPU has a flaw that creates a covert channel that two or more malicious apps—already installed—can use to transmit information to each other, a developer has found.

The surreptitious communication can occur without using computer memory, sockets, files, or any other operating system feature, developer Hector Martin said. The channel can bridge processes running as different users and under different privilege levels. These characteristics allow for the apps to exchange data in a way that can't be detected—or at least without specialized equipment.

Technically, it’s a vulnerability but...

Martin said that the flaw is mainly harmless because it can't be used to infect a Mac and it can't be used by exploits or malware to steal or tamper with data stored on a machine. Rather, the flaw can be abused only by two or more malicious apps that have already been installed on a Mac through means unrelated to the M1 flaw.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary and the soft, squishy science of language

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 4:30am
Artist's impression of either understanding being achieved or intergalactic war being incited, I'm not sure which.

Enlarge / Artist's impression of either understanding being achieved or intergalactic war being incited, I'm not sure which. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

Andy Weir's latest, Project Hail Mary, is a good book that you'll almost certainly enjoy if you enjoyed Weir's freshman novel The Martian. It's another tale of solving problems with science, as a lone human named Ryland Grace and a lone alien named Rocky must save our stellar neighborhood from a star-eating parasite called "Astrophage." PHM is a buddy movie in space in a way that The Martian didn't get to be, and the interaction between Grace and Rocky is the biggest reason to read the book. The pair makes a hell of a problem-solving team, jazz hands and fist bumps and all.

<em>Project Hail Mary</em> product image
Project Hail Mary
(Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.)
But the relative ease with which Grace and Rocky understand each other got me thinking about the real-world issues that might arise when two beings from vastly different evolutionary backgrounds try to communicate. PHM's otherwise solid commitment to science leans a bit here on what we might call the "anthropic principle of science fiction," after the more well-known general anthropic principle. To wit: Rocky and Grace can communicate well with each other because it serves the story, and if they couldn't, the book would be shorter and less interesting.

I get it—that's how storytelling works. I don't want to sound like a bitter basement-dwelling critic throwing shade at a bestselling science fiction author. But PHM is like The Martian in that it's about solving problems realistically. From my nerd basement throne, it feels like the softer sciences of linguistics and anthropology (or perhaps xenolinguistics and xenoanthropology) don't get the same stage time as their more STEM-y counterparts like physics and relativity.

Read 59 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Rocket Report: Russia plans nuclear space tug, Falcon Heavy launch delays

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 4:00am
The Falcon 9 rocket launches its 100th consecutive, successful flight on Wednesday.

Enlarge / The Falcon 9 rocket launches its 100th consecutive, successful flight on Wednesday. (credit: Trevor Mahlmann / Ars Technica)

Welcome to Edition 3.46 of the Rocket Report! This week we have a mix of milestones to report for the Federal Aviation Administration and SpaceX, some launch delays, and as usual, some quirky news. Next week, the newsletter turns 4 years old—hard to believe I've been at this so long.

As always, we welcome reader submissions, and if you don't want to miss an issue, please subscribe using the box below (the form will not appear on AMP-enabled versions of the site). Each report will include information on small-, medium-, and heavy-lift rockets as well as a quick look ahead at the next three launches on the calendar.

Virgin Galactic gets back into space. On Saturday, Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity spacecraft flew above 80 km for the third time, completing a much-anticipated return to space following more than two years of downtime. The flight, which crested at an altitude of 89.2 km, was piloted by CJ Sturckow and Dave Mackay, Ars reports. The flight was significant for Virgin Galactic, as the last time VSS Unity successfully carried out a powered spaceflight was February 2019.

Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments

SolarWinds hackers are back with a new mass campaign, Microsoft says

ArsTechnica - Fri, 05/28/2021 - 1:15am
SolarWinds hackers are back with a new mass campaign, Microsoft says

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

The Kremlin-backed hackers who targeted SolarWinds customers in a supply chain attack have been caught conducting a malicious email campaign that delivered malware-laced links to 150 government agencies, research institutions and other organizations in the US and 23 other countries, Microsoft said.

The hackers, belonging to Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, first managed to compromise an account belonging to USAID, a US government agency that administers civilian foreign aid and development assistance. With control of the agency’s account for online marketing company Constant Contact, the hackers had the ability to send emails that appeared to use addresses known to belong to the US agency.

Nobelium goes native

“From there, the actor was able to distribute phishing emails that looked authentic but included a link that, when clicked, inserted a malicious file used to distribute a backdoor we call NativeZone,” Microsoft Vice President of Customer Security and Trust Tom Burt wrote in a post published on Thursday evening. “This backdoor could enable a wide range of activities from stealing data to infecting other computers on a network.”

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Do Homeopathic Cures Work?

Discovery News Headlines - Fri, 11/27/2020 - 11:33am
Alternative medicine has proven tricky to study, and sometimes dangerous to patients. Doctors are divided as to whether or not it has any merit at all.
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