Iceberg six times the size of Manhattan in open ocean watched by scientists_

Scientists are monitoring one of the largest icebergs in existence, after it broke off from an Antarctic glacier and began to head into the open ocean.

The iceberg covers about 255 square miles, making it roughly six times the size of Manhattan – and is up to 500 meters thick.

Known as B31, glacial crack that created the iceberg was first detected in 2011 but the iceberg separated from Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier in November.

NASA glaciologist Kelly Brunt said that the iceberg is not currently presenting a danger, but needs to be continually monitored.

“It’s one that’s large enough that it warrants monitoring. There is not a lot of shipping traffic down there. We’re not particularly concerned about shipping lanes. We know where all the big ones are.”

She added that scientists are especially interested because it originated in an unexpected location.

“It’s like a large sheet cake floating through the Southern Ocean.”

Scientists say the iceberg has floated across Pine Island Bay, a basin of the Amundsen Sea, and will likely be swept up soon in the swift currents of the Southern Ocean.


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New Membranes Key For A Thirsty World_

It appears that desalination technology advances are on the horizon thanks to materials science. The MIT team that conducted the study, “Quantifying the potential of ultra-permeable membranes for water desalination,” found that boosting the amount of saltwater that passes through membranes at any one time will significantly improve the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of desalination.

For making freshwater out of seawater, they found that next-generation membranes would require 15 percent less energy. And using the filters on brackish water that has more salt than fresh waters but less than the ocean could yield up to an amazing 46 percent reduction in energy use. Such brackish waters are commonly found in estuaries where rivers and sea meet, in inland saline freshwater lakes, and underground, in aquifers suffering from saltwater intrusion.

“We came out expecting the main use for new ultrapermeable membranes would be to lower the energy footprint of facilities that convert seawater into fresh,” MIT materials science and engineering doctoral candidate David Cohen-Tanugi tells Txchnologist. Cohen-Tanugi is a coauthor of the study and focuses on water research. “We realized a bigger opportunity lies in desalinating brackish water. I found the energy savings we could attain quite striking.”

A dream material

He says his team found that tripling permeability would lead to energy, space and capital investment savings. But using the thinnest material possible, two-dimensional sheets of linked carbon atoms called graphene, will boost a membrane’s permeability to water by as much as a thousand times. Researchers around the world are working to make this a reality. One of the active areas of research is solving how to drill exact holes in the material that are big enough to let water molecules through but too small for salt ions.

Cohen-Tanugi says that while graphene is his “dream material” because its thinness means ultrapermeability to water molecules, many other ideas being tested could provide step changes in the right direction. General Electric, for instance, has just launched an “open innovation challenge” to the public to present ideas that improve the energy efficiency of water desalination.

“My personal perspective is that I’ve been amazed at how fast advances have come in this field,” he says. “Ten years ago, graphene was barely a thing. Now you have companies looking at how to manufacture it industrially reel-to-reel. I think this will happen a lot faster than we can imagine.”


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Insect Having an Existential Crisis:

Is this bug a workout warrior who’s doing some insane six legged bench press? Or is he a dumb little critter who think he’s walking normally and doesn’t realize he’s trapped upside down? Whatever he’s doing, it’s hypnotic. And it goes on forever. And ever. And ever.

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War is Bullshit_

Original by Rodrigo Rosa


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Woman Accused Of Selling Heroin From Hospital Intensive Care Unit_

A woman in western Pennsylvania is accused of selling heroin from a hospital intensive care unit and a hospital room.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Miele (MEE’-lee) for Excela Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg says hospital security became suspicious of the large number of people flowing in and out of the woman’s room.

Greensburg police say an undercover informant bought $90 worth of heroin Friday from the woman, who was being treated for an undisclosed ailment at the hospital. A police search of the room also uncovered $3,800 in heroin, two syringes and $1,400.

Thirty-eight-year-old Lori Sullenberger was charged Tuesday with felony and misdemeanor drug charges. It wasn’t clear Tuesday evening if she had hired a lawyer. Two others who police say bought or had drugs from the woman face misdemeanor charges.


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The Horrors Cover Frankie Knuckles’ “Your Love”_

Last night, The Horrors stopped by BBC Radio 1′s studio at Maida Vale to play a couple songs from their forthcoming album, Luminous (“So Now You Know” and “In and Out of Sight”). They also covered “Your Love” by the late Frankie Knuckles. Listen to it below. (“Your Love” starts at the eighteen minute mark.)


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How to Keep Milk from Spoiling Without Refrigeration_

For centuries, before refrigeration, an old Russian practice was to drop a frog into a bucket of milk to keep the milk from spoiling. In modern times, many believed that this was nothing more than an old wives’ tale. But researchers at Moscow State University, led by organic chemist Dr. Albert Lebedev, have shown that there could be some benefit to doing this, though of course in the end you’ll be drinking milk that a frog was in.

Ice boxes first became available to consumers in the early to mid-19th century and, with that, the ice trade became big business. New England and Norway became major purveyors of ice, but anywhere it was cold, ice was a major export. Usually made out of wood with tin or zinc walls and insulation material like sawdust, cork, or straw, ice boxes were popular until they were rendered obsolete by the electrical refrigerator starting around the 1930s.

Jacob Perkins invented the first version of the refrigerator in 1834 when it was discovered that the hazardous compound ammonia, when liquefied, had a cooling effect. But it wasn’t until the late 1920s when Freon was developed by General Motors and DuPont as a “nontoxic” cooling agent, and replaced ammonia, that refrigerators for consumers started to gain traction.

Despite the prevalence of ice in parts of Russia, in certain small rural Russian villages many didn’t have access to ice boxes, so they had to find ways to keep things cold and unspoiled. A practice developed, that continued into the 20th century, as described by Dr. Lebedev from memories from his childhood,

[For] small portions of milk to drink, they used to put [a] frog inside… A small frog over there could prevent the milk from being spoiled.

This rather curious practice was an inspiration for a study and, then, a discovery that may lead to a significant new source of antibiotics. In 2010, scientists from United Arab Emirates University made an announcement that the secretions from certain frogs’ skins have antibacterial and antifungal properties. Using species native to African countries, they studied the compounds coming from the frogs, which are known as antimicrobial peptides and are a string of amino acids.

After isolating these compounds, they began testing them against various bacterial infections. For example, the dreaded “Iraqibacter,” a drug-resistant bacterial infection that has been known to hit wounded soldiers in Iraq could (once again, potentially) be fought with a compound found in the skin of a mink frog that are native to North America. Secretions from a foothill four-legged frog may have the potential to fight the well-known resistant MRSA staph skin infection.

In 2012, scientists from Moscow State University decided to take this a step further by breaking down the compounds and studying the individual peptides. In a study entitled “Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of Skin Peptidome of Russian Brown Frogs” published in the Journal of Proteome Research in November 2012, and using Russian brown frogs (which are edible and considered a delicacy), they extracted secretions by applying electrodes.

What came out was a cocktail of 76 different peptides that all had different properties. Michael Zasloff, now a professor at Georgetown University, but formerly a researcher with the National Institutes of Health said in an interview that, “What is amazing is that no two frogs have the same cocktail. They’re all different, and all beautifully tuned to deal with the microbes that these animals face.”

As promising as the results are so far, many scientists are skeptical of any real benefit coming from them. For instance, Jun O. Liu, a professor of pharmacology at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, stated in reference to other apparent natural occurring “magic antibiotics,” “There are natural substances that work in a lab beautifully but then when you give it to a human it’s totally inactive or it’s toxic.”

While this all may or may not ultimately be medicinally helpful for humans, beginning centuries ago certain Russians seem to have been on to something with putting frogs in milk to delay it spoiling. Although, I think we can all agree that putting a frog in one’s milk takes a back seat to the other age-old way to store milk without refrigeration- making it into delicious cheese.


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Inside the ‘DarkMarket’ Prototype, a Silk Road the FBI Can Never Seize

The homepage of DarkMarket, a prototype for a decentralized online black market.The Silk Road, for all its clever uses of security protections like Tor and Bitcoin to protect the site’s lucrative drug trade, still offered its enemies a single point of failure.

When the FBI seized the server that hosted the market in October and arrested its alleged owner Ross Ulbricht, the billion-dollar drug bazaar came crashing down.If one group of Bitcoin black market enthusiasts has their way, the next online free-trade zone could be a much more elusive target.

At a Toronto Bitcoin hackathon earlier this month, the group took home the $20,000 first prize with a proof-of-concept for a new online marketplace known as DarkMarket, a fully peer-to-peer system with no central authority for the feds to attack.

If DarkMarket’s distributed architecture works, law enforcement would be forced to go after every contraband buyer and seller one by one, a notion that could signal a new round in the cat-and-mouse game of illicit online sales.“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” said Amir Taaki, one of DarkMarket’s creators and the founder of the anarchist group Unsystem, in a short speech at the Toronto Bitcoin Expo unveiling the project.

He compared DarkMarket’s improvements on the now-defunct Silk Road to the advent of Bittorrent, a decentralized technology that revamped Napster’s more vulnerable model of filesharing and flummoxed copyright enforcers. “Like a hydra, those of us in the community that push for individual empowerment are in an arms race to equip the people with the tools needed for the next generation of digital black markets.”

DarkMarket, Taaki and its other developers admit, is still just an experimental demonstration. They have yet to integrate anonymity protections like Tor into the software; currently every user’s IP address is listed for every other user to see. And black market enthusiasts shouldn’t expect DarkMarket’s creators to finish the open source project themselves any time soon–Taaki says he’s focused on polishing his anonymous Bitcoin software project Dark Wallet, and his co-creators Damian Cutillo and William Swanson say they’re tied up with their own Bitcoin startup known as Airbitz.“This is just a simple prototype, but we wanted to show people that it’s possible,” Taaki says. “But this is going to happen. If not us, someone else will do it.”Taaki argues that DarkMarket’s code, posted to GitHub, already has all the basic ingredients that made Silk Road a giant underground success: the ability for buyers and sellers to communicate privately and make payments to each other, pages where sellers can show their wares, a reputation system for sellers with ratings and reviews, and an escrow system that protects payment until goods are received by the buyer. “And it’s all totally decentralized,” says Taaki.Achieving those functions, while also preventing scams and fraud, is no simple task. Two of DarkMarket’s creators, Swanson and Cutillo, gave WIRED a demo of the software along with a step-by-step explanation of how a typical deal would go down. What they revealed is a Rube Goldberg machine of checks and balances designed to prevent users from cheating each other, without ever requiring oversight from an administrator or other authority figure.Here’s how it works:

■A user downloads the DarkMarket software, which runs as a daemon in the background of the user’s operating system, allowing them to connect to the DarkMarket network through any browser. The DarkMarket daemon incorporates a library of commands for peer-to-peer networking known as ZeroMQ, which allows the user’s PC to become a node in a distributed network where every user can communicate directly with every other user.

An example DarkMarket seller page showing MDMA pills for sale

■Any DarkMarket user can become a seller on the market simply by editing an HTML file that DarkMarket designates as his or her seller page, adding pictures and descriptions of items for sale just as he or she would on the Silk Road or eBay. (For users with nothing to sell, the page remains blank.) Buyers can browse the market by clicking on other users’ DarkMarket nodes or search for a seller’s nickname to view their seller pages. At the moment, DarkMarket displays only a bare IP address for every user, but the system’s creators say it will eventually show a pseudonym for each one and also allow product searches.

■When a user wants to buy something, he or she sends an order message (“I’ll take ten of your finest MDMA doses”) to the seller. If the seller agrees, the buyer and seller together choose what DarkMarket calls an “arbiter.” Since the market doesn’t have any central authority, the arbiter’s job is to settle any disputes–to serve as a tie breaker in any stalemate that might arise if the deal goes sour. Both the buyer and seller can keep a list of approved arbiters, and one will be chosen at random from the overlapping names on their lists. “The arbiter is just another peer on the network,” says Swanson. “Just as anyone can be a buyer or seller, anyone can be an arbiter.”

■Once the buyer, seller and arbiter for a transaction are chosen, DarkMarket creates a new Bitcoin address that will serve as the escrow, holding the buyer’s money until the transaction is complete. But this isn’t any run-of-the-mill Bitcoin address; It combines the three users’ public encryption keys, created based on a private encryption key generated when they installed DarkMarket, to offer what’s known as a “multisignature” address. That address is designed so that once the buyer’s bitcoins go into it, they can only be moved again if two out of three of the parties agrees and signs that transaction with the private key that controls their Bitcoins.

■The buyer moves his or her money to the escrow address. If the product is shipped and arrives, the buyer and seller both sign a transaction to move the escrowed bitcoins to the seller. If the product doesn’t arrive–or if it’s defective, or some other dispute arises–the buyer and the seller may both try to move the bitcoins into their own account. In that case the arbiter can choose which transaction to sign, which determines where the coins end up. The arbiter can also demand a payment for his or her services, which would be split off from the bitcoins.

■After a transaction, every participant can leave ratings and reviews for every other participant. Those reputation measurements are cryptographically signed with the writer’s private key so that they can’t be forged, and copied to other nodes on the network. When a user visits a seller page, the ratings and reviews for that seller are pulled from other nodes to display the seller’s track record, preventing fraud and rewarding good customer service.

■To create consistent identities and prevent untrustworthy users from impersonating trusted ones, DarkMarket nodes keep a list of all the public keys and nicknames of every user on the network. This ledger of names and keys is periodically put through a cryptographic function known as a hash and added to the Bitcoin blockchain by including it in a small transaction. That trick prevents anyone from altering the ledger to steal someone’s identity; When a user searches for a nickname on DarkMarket, the software looks at the blockchain to check the user’s key against the ledger before displaying that user’s seller page. (So far, Taaki has made DarkMarket’s identities to the Bitcoin blockchain manually, but he says he plans to automatic the process.)

If DarkMarket improves and catches on among contraband traders, it’s not exactly clear what legal risks Taaki and his fellow coders might be taking. Taaki argues that he’s merely distributing a program–not running a criminal conspiracy. “I’m just a humble coder,” he says. “Code is a form of expression. You can’t imprison someone for speaking an idea.”And if the creators of a fully peer-to-peer black market were to be locked up? If all goes according to plan, their leaderless community would go about business as usual.Here’s a video made by an audience member at Taaki and Swanson’s presentation of DarkMarket at the Toronto Bitcoin Expo.


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Newly Discovered Warhol Artworks Found On Amiga Floppy Disks From 1985_

A multi-institutional team of new-media artists, computer experts, and museum professionals have discovered a dozen previously unknown experiments by Andy Warhol (BFA, 1949) on aging floppy disks from 1985.

The purely digital images, “trapped” for nearly 30 years on Amiga® floppy disks stored in the archives collection of The Andy Warhol Museum (AWM), were discovered and extracted by members of the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Computer Club, with assistance from the AWM’s staff, CMU’s Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry (FRSCI), the Hillman Photography Initiative at the Carnegie Museum of Art (CMOA), and New York based artist Cory Arcangel.


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Nanoparticle Panels Will Bring Blue Skies Indoors_

Skylights are so 1986. Now it doesn’t matter if the weather outside is dark and dreary, or even if it’s midnight, for that matter: Thanks to this LED panel which replicates cloudless skies, you’ll feel like you’re bathed in warm sunshine.

What the panel is actually imitating is the Earth’s atmosphere, a special cocktail of nitrogen, oxygen, and assorted other gases that makes our sky appear blue. Using a white LED behind a polymer screen that is coated in titanium dioxide nanoparticles, the window is able to reproduce Rayleigh scattering—the process that separates light particles into “blue” sky and “yellow” sun for our eyes.


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