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Duterte bans smoking in public places

CNN - Fri, 2017-05-19 06:46
First it was drugs, now it's cigarettes.

Chinese Jets Flew Dangerously Close During Intercept, U.S. Says

NY Times - Fri, 2017-05-19 06:44
The Air Force filed a formal protest with China, saying that two fighters had flown in an “unprofessional” way near an American military plane over the East China Sea.

Fuel cell microbes turn methane into electricity

Futurity.org - Fri, 2017-05-19 06:35

Researchers have created a microbial fuel cell that can convert methane directly to electricity.

The fuel cell could help to solve the problem of moving methane from place to place. Transporting methane from gas wellheads to market provides multiple opportunities for this greenhouse gas to leak into the atmosphere.

“Currently, we have to ship methane via pipelines,” says Thomas K. Wood, professor of chemical engineering at Penn State. “When you ship methane, you release a greenhouse gas. We can’t eliminate all the leakage, but we could cut it in half if we didn’t ship it via pipe long distances.”

The researchers’ goal is to use microbial fuel cells to convert methane into electricity near the wellheads, eliminating long-distance transport. That goal is still far in the future, but they now have created a bacteria-powered fuel cell that can convert the methane into small amounts of electricity.

“People have tried for decades to directly convert methane,” says Wood. “But they haven’t been able to do it with microbial fuel cells. We’ve engineered a strain of bacteria that can.”

Bottom of the sea

Microbial fuel cells convert chemical energy to electrical energy using microorganisms. They can run on most organic material, including wastewater, acetate, and brewing waste. Methane, however, causes some problems for microbial fuel cells because, while there are bacteria that consume methane, they live in the depths of the ocean and are not currently culturable in the laboratory.

“We know of a bacterium that can produce an energy enzyme that grabs methane,” says Wood. “We can’t grow them in captivity, but we looked at the DNA and found something from the bottom of the Black Sea and synthesized it.”

Fixing methane leaks wouldn’t cost so much

The researchers actually created a consortium of bacteria that produces electricity because each bacterium does its portion of the job. Using synthetic biological approaches, including DNA cloning, the researchers created a bacterium like those in the depths of the Black Sea, but one they can grow in the laboratory. This bacterium uses methane and produces acetate, electrons, and the energy enzyme that grabs electrons.

Shuttles from sludge

The researchers, who report the results in the journal Nature Communications, also added a mixture of bacteria found in sludge from an anaerobic digester—the last step in waste treatment. This sludge contains bacteria that produce compounds that can transport electrons to an electrode, but these bacteria needed to be acclimated to methane to survive in the fuel cell.

“We need electron shuttles in this process,” says Wood. “Bacteria in sludge act as those shuttles.”

Microbe ‘friends’ use electrons to eat methane

Once electrons reach an electrode, the flow of electrons produces electricity. To increase the amount of electricity produced, the researchers used a naturally occurring bacterial genus—Geobacter—which consumes the acetate created by the synthetic bacteria that captures methane to produce electrons.

To show that an electron shuttle was necessary, the researchers ran the fuel cell with only the synthetic bacteria and Geobacter. The fuel cell produced no electricity. They added humic acids—a non-living electron shuttle—and the fuel cells worked. Bacteria from the sludge are better shuttles than humic acids because they are self-sustaining. The researchers have filed provisional patents on this process.

“This process makes a lot of electricity for a microbial fuel cell,” says Wood. “However, at this point that amount is 1,000 times less than the electricity produced by a methanol fuel cell.”

Additional researchers are from Penn State and the National Institute of Cardiology, Mexico City. The US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy supported this work.

Source: Penn State

The post Fuel cell microbes turn methane into electricity appeared first on Futurity.

A Trump FCC advisor’s proposal for bringing free Internet to poor people

Ars - Fri, 2017-05-19 06:30

(credit: Aurich / Thinkstock)

When Donald Trump won the presidency, his early decisions made it clear that the Federal Communications Commission would become much less strict in regulating Internet service providers. The FCC transition team he formed to chart a new course for the agency was primarily composed of people who oppose net neutrality rules and want ISPs to face fewer regulations in general. After the transition advisors finished their analysis and made recommendations, Trump named Republican Ajit Pai the new chairman, and Pai has since gotten to work reversing the net neutrality rules and other decisions made by his Democratic predecessor, Tom Wheeler.

One of the most immediate changes was that the FCC leadership now fully supports zero-rating, the practice in which ISPs exempt some websites and online services from data caps, often in exchange for payment from the websites. Zero-rating is controversial in the US and abroad, with many consumer advocates and regulators saying it violates the net neutrality principle that all online content should be treated equally by network providers.

But some zero-rating proponents believe it can serve a noble purpose—bringing Internet access to poor people who otherwise would not be online. That's the view of Roslyn Layton, who served on Trump's FCC transition team, does telecom research at Aalborg University in Denmark, and works as a visiting fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

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Common Sense: Washington Post, Breaking News, Is Also Breaking New Ground

NY Times - Fri, 2017-05-19 06:00
As with Watergate, the paper’s scoops about the administration are helping shape the national conversation. They are also driving its digital success.

Apple Said to Be Increasing Production of Rumored 10.5-inch iPad Pro

MacRumors - Fri, 2017-05-19 05:35
Apple is said to be boosting production of its upcoming 10.5-inch iPad Pro, making launch of the new form-factor tablet over the next couple of months increasingly probable, according to sources in the Taiwanese supply chain.

DigiTimes reported on Friday that shipments for the company's 10.5-inch iPad Pro are expected to increase to 600,000 units in July, up from around 500,000 units currently, with annual shipments said to reach 5 million units this year, said market watchers.

Previously, reports suggested Apple's manufacturing partners reportedly began limited production of the new-size tablet in March, but rumors have lacked consensus regarding when Apple will launch the device, with suggestions of an early April event having failed to materialize.

However, since that time, noted KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has claimed there is a "greater than 70 percent chance" that Apple will unveil the long-rumored tablet at WWDC in June, based on the timing of production ramp-up.

The 10.5-inch iPad Pro is expected to have a similar form factor as the current 9.7-inch model, but squeezes in a larger display thanks to narrower bezels. Analysts say Apple is hoping the device will mark the company's resurgence in the tablet market, given that sales of iPads have declined for 13 consecutive quarters, with consumers seeing little reason to upgrade the tablets they already own.

However, at least one Apple pundit has suggested the company could wait until October to launch the 10.5-inch iPad, in order to avoid spoiling the design of the much-rumored "iPhone 8" with an edge-to-edge OLED display, which is expected to be announced in September.

Today's DigiTimes report also touches on a rumored upgrade to Apple's 12.9-inch iPad Pro, with some market watchers claiming the device could begin mass production in June, "with stable shipments in the third quarter". Meanwhile, Apple's sale expectations for its recently launched low-cost 9.7-inch iPad are "expected to accelerate Apple's pace on phasing out the iPad mini 4 from the market", according to sources.
Demand for the tablet is expected to pick up strongly starting the end of the second quarter and will reach the peak in the third quarter, increasing the device's monthly shipments to over four million units in June and July, the market watchers noted.Despite the launch of new iPads this year, market watchers still expect Apple's tablet shipments to fall compared to 2016. Worldwide tablet shipments were around 8.74 million units in the first quarter and the release of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro should shore up the second quarter's tablet shipments to 8.9 million units, claimed the report.

Related Roundup: iPad Pro
Tag: digitimes.com
Buyer's Guide: 9.7" iPad Pro (Don't Buy)
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An AI invented a bunch of new paint colors that are hilariously wrong

Ars - Fri, 2017-05-19 05:30

Enlarge / Who came up with these names? Welp, it wasn't an AI.

At some point, we've all wondered about the incredibly strange names for paint colors. Research scientist and neural network goofball Janelle Shane took the wondering a step further. Shane decided to train a neural network to generate new paint colors, complete with appropriate names. The results are possibly the greatest work of artificial intelligence I've seen to date.

Writes Shane on her Tumblr, "For this experiment, I gave the neural network a list of about 7,700 Sherwin-Williams paint colors along with their RGB values. (RGB = red, green, and blue color values.) Could the neural network learn to invent new paint colors and give them attractive names?"

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Victims Call Hackers’ Bluff as Ransomware Deadline Nears

NY Times - Fri, 2017-05-19 05:22
Some affected users are standing defiant or pleading poverty, resulting in a far smaller ransom take than expected.

Where a solar roof works and where it doesn’t

Ars - Fri, 2017-05-19 05:15

A press image of some smooth black tiles. (credit: Tesla)

Last week, Tesla and Tesla’s newly purchased solar-panel company SolarCity announced that they’d be taking pre-orders at $1,000 a pop for installations of their new solar roof product. The solar roof is made up of tiles—some that produce solar power and some inert—that look just like regular roof tiles.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the solar roof late last year, just before investors were about to vote on whether the electric-car company should buy SolarCity. At the reveal, Musk told the crowd that “the goal is to have a roof that's less than the installed cost of a roof plus electricity.” Later, in a conversation with reporters, Musk said, “It's not gonna make sense for somebody to replace a brand-new roof with a solar roof.”

But after that announcement, the CEO got bolder with his claims on the cost of his company’s roof, saying at a shareholder meeting that “It’s looking quite promising that a solar roof actually [costs] less than normal roof before you even take the value of electricity into account.”

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State Dept. won't release Tillerson communication on Russia

CNN - Fri, 2017-05-19 05:03
The State Department is withholding a document related to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's communications with the department about Russia in his capacity as ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO, citing a need to protect internal deliberations.

Vows: He Showed Up Dressed as Reba McEntire. That Seemed to Work.

NY Times - Fri, 2017-05-19 05:00
A couple manages to mix romance and renovation, and a country singer provides an assist.

Alien Covenant drips with blood and plot resolutions—but you better be a fan

Ars - Fri, 2017-05-19 05:00

Enlarge / Hard to shoot these xenos when they can just JUMP ON YOUR GUN. (credit: 20th Century Fox)

It took Ridley Scott 35 years, but the sci-fi filmmaking legend finally got to make his version of Aliens. All it took to get there was a decades-long dwindling of the series, a kind-of-but-not-exactly reboot in the form of 2012's Prometheus, and a five-year cloud of confusion for series fans. Maybe that was Scott's game plan all along!

At any rate, now we have Alien Covenant, and it's probably as much of a James Cameron-styled film as we may ever get out of Scott. But that makes Covenant sound more accessible than it really is. If you're a longtime series fan and have grown into either an apologist or a hater, you're going to love this sequel's adherence to Alien film lore, its zillions of answers, and its return to terror sequences chock full of gooey, murderous xenomorphs.

If you're just looking for some solid sci-fi, on the other hand, you may find yourself adrift. This movie is only going to work if you at least have a clue about what happened in Prometheus—even though Alien Covenant is a completely different kind of film.

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Durbin: Trump's 'witch hunt' claims are 'outrageous'

Washington Post - Fri, 2017-05-19 05:00
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said President Trump's claims that he's the subject of a “witch hunt” are “outrageous,” on May 18 at the Capitol.

The Daily: ‘The Daily’: More Comey Memos, More Revelations

NY Times - Fri, 2017-05-19 04:49
Michael S. Schmidt discusses previously unreported details of the president’s efforts to win over the F.B.I. director.

Japan: China 'escalating' tensions over disputed islands

CNN - Fri, 2017-05-19 04:29
Japan scrambled warplanes on Thursday after four Chinese coastguard ships and a drone aircraft entered territory it claims around disputed islands in the East China Sea, according to Defense Ministry officials.
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