Scientists Build 'Baby' Wormhole

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Scientists have long pursued a deeper understanding of wormholes and now appear to be making progress. Researchers announced on Wednesday that they forged two miniscule simulated black holes — those extraordinarily dense celestial objects with gravity so powerful that not even light can escape — in a quantum computer and transmitted a message between them through what amounted to a tunnel in space-time. It was a “baby wormhole,” according to Caltech physicist Maria Spiropulu, a co-author of the research published in the journal Nature. But scientists are a long way from being able to send people or other living beings through such a portal, she said.

“Experimentally, for me, I will tell you that it’s very, very far away. People come to me and they ask me, ‘Can you put your dog in the wormhole?’ So, no,” Spiropulu told reporters during a video briefing. “…That’s a huge leap.” […] Spiropulu said the researchers found a quantum system that exhibits key properties of a gravitational wormhole but was small enough to implement on existing quantum hardware. The researchers said no rupture of space and time was created in physical space in the experiment, though a traversable wormhole appeared to have emerged based on quantum information teleported using quantum codes on the quantum processor. “There’s a difference between something being possible in principle and possible in reality,” added physicist and study co-author Joseph Lykken of Fermilab, America’s particle physics and accelerator laboratory. “So don’t hold your breath about sending your dog through the wormhole. But you have to start somewhere. And I think to me it’s just exciting that we’re able to get our hands on this at all.”

“It looks like a duck, it walks like a duck, it quacks like a duck. So that’s what we can say at this point — that we have something that in terms of the properties we look at, it looks like a wormhole,” Lykken said.

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Source: Slashdot – Scientists Build ‘Baby’ Wormhole

Neuralink CEO Elon Musk expects human trials within six months

It’s been six years since Tesla, SpaceX (and now Twitter) CEO Elon Musk co-founded brain-control interfaces (BCI) startup, Neuralink. It’s been three years since the company first demonstrated its “sewing machine-like” implantation robot, two years since the company stuck its technology into the heads of pigs — and just over 19 months since they did the same to primates, an effort that allegedly killed 15 out of 23 test subjects. After a month-long delay in October, Neuralink held its third “show and tell” event on Wednesday where CEO Elon Musk announced, “we think probably in about six months, we should be able to have a Neuralink installed in a human.”

Neuralink has seen tumultuous times in the previous April 2021 status update: The company’s co-founder, Max Hodak, quietly quit just after that event, though he said was still a “huge cheerleader” for Neuralink’s success. That show of confidence was subsequently shattered this past August after Musk reportedly approached Neuralink’s main rival, Synchron, as an investment opportunity. 

Earlier in February, Neuralink confirmed that monkeys had died during prototype testing of its BCI implants at the ​​University of California, Davis Primate Center but rejected accusations by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine of animal cruelty. In July, Synchron beat Neuralink to market when doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York successfully installed the company’s inch-and-a-half long device into a person living with ALS. The patient, who has lost their ability to move and communicated independently, should be able to surf the web and send text messages using the device to translate their thoughts into computer commands. That same month, an affair Musk had with a Neuralink executive, who is now pregnant with his twins, also came to light

Neuralink is still working towards gaining FDA approval for its implant, though the company was awarded the agency’s Breakthrough Device Designation in July 2020. This program allows patients and caregivers more “timely access” to promising treatments and medical devices by fast tracking their development and regulatory testing. As of September, 2022 the FDA has granted that designation to 728 medical devices

The FDA has also updated its best practices guidance regarding clinical and nonclinical BCI testing in 2021. “The field of implanted BCI devices is progressing rapidly from fundamental neuroscience discoveries to translational applications and market access,” the agency asserted in its May guidance. “Implanted BCI devices have the potential to bring benefit to people with severe disabilities by increasing their ability to interact with their environment, and consequently, providing new independence in daily life.”

“In many ways it’s like a Fitbit in your skull, with tiny wires,” Musk said of Neuralink’s device during the 2021 livestream event. The device relies on as many as 1,024, 5-micron diameter leads “sewn” into a patient’s grey matter to form connections with the surrounding neurons, providing high-resolution sampling of the brain’s electrical emissions and translating between analog electrical impulses and digital computer code. Theoretically, at least. So far, all Neuralink has accomplished is getting a monkey to play Pong without a joystick.

“We are all already cyborgs in a way,” Musk quipped during his opening remarks, “in that your phone and your computer are extensions of yourself.” However, those devices pose significant limitations on our ability to communicate, he argued. “If you’re interacting with a phone, it’s limited by the speed of which you can move your thumbs, or the speed of which you can talk into your phone.”  


Source: Engadget – Neuralink CEO Elon Musk expects human trials within six months

Cocaine Synthesized In a Tobacco Plant

Longtime Slashdot reader Amiga Trombone shares a report from Phys.Org: A team of researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, working with a colleague from Syngenta Jealott’s Hill International Research Centre in the U.K., has developed a way to synthesize cocaine using a tobacco plant. The group describes how they synthesized the notorious drug and possible uses for their process in their paper published in Journal of the American Chemical Society.

In studying the coca plant, the researchers discovered that the cocaine that winds up in its leaves is not produced by elements in the plant converting 4-(1-methyl-2-pyrrolidinyl)-3-oxobutanoic acid to hyoscyamine, as has been thought. They found that it is instead produced by the two enzymes, EnMT4 and EnCYP81AN15. To prove their discovery, the group genetically engineered a tobacco plant to produce the two enzymes in its leaves, which resulted in the production of small amounts of cocaine (with assistance from a substance also produced in the plant called ornithine, which is similar to the precursor in the coca plant). […] Not mentioned in the paper is the possibility of synthesizing the two enzymes produced by both the coca and engineered tobacco plant as a more direct way to synthesize cocaine.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Cocaine Synthesized In a Tobacco Plant

EU Unveils Plans To Cut Europe's Plastic and Packaging Waste

The EU executive wants to ban mini-shampoo bottles in hotels and the use of throwaway cups in cafes and restaurants, as part of sweeping legal proposals to curb Europe’s mountains of waste. The Guardian reports: A draft EU regulation published on Wednesday also proposes mandatory deposit and return schemes for single-use plastic drinks bottles and metal cans, as well as an end to e-commerce firms wrapping small items in huge boxes. The new rules, which will have to be approved by EU member states and the European parliament, are intended to tackle the surge in plastic and other packaging waste. EU officials estimate that 40% of new plastics and 50% of paper are used in packaging, making the sector a vast consumer of virgin materials.

The EU passed a law in 2019 to ban the most common single-use plastic items, such as plastic cutlery, stirrers and straws, but officials want to go further to tackle soaring amounts of packaging rubbish. The average European is thought to generate 180kg of packaging waste each year, which could rise by 19% by 2030, without action. Under the latest proposals, EU member states would have to reduce packaging waste per capita by 15% by 2040 compared with 2018. Officials think this could be achieved by more reuse and refilling, as well as tighter controls on packaging. For example, e-commerce retailers would have to ensure that empty space in a box is a maximum 40% in relation to the product.

The commission also hopes to end confusion about recycling: it proposes harmonized labels, probably pictograms, to make it clear to consumers which bin to use. In a separate law, the commission seeks to ensure that products claiming to be “biobased,” “biodegradable” or “compostable” meet minimum standards. In an attempt to clamp down on greenwashing, consumers would be able to tell how long it takes an item to biodegrade, how much biomass was used in its production and whether it is really suitable for home composting.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – EU Unveils Plans To Cut Europe’s Plastic and Packaging Waste

Judge Approves Apple's Massive MacBook Keyboard Lawsuit Payout

A California federal judge has given preliminary approval to Apple’s plan to pay $50 million to settle a long-running class-action lawsuit over the faulty MacBook butterfly keyboard. MacTrast reports: Law360 says the payment will include $13.6 million in attorney fees, up to $2 million in litigation costs, and $1.4 million in settlement administration costs, with the rest distributed to class members. The lawsuit covers customers in California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, who complained that Apple knew of and concealed the fact that its 2015 and later MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro machines were equipped with “butterfly” keyboards that were prone to failure, and that its repair program for the keyboard was insufficient, as the replacement keyboards could also fail. […]

Apple initially agreed to the settlement in July 2022. Customers in the above-mentioned states are expected to receive maximum payouts of $395 to customers who replaced multiple keyboards, $125 to people who replaced one keyboard, and $50 to people who replaced keycaps. Mac owners who received butterfly keyboard replacements will begin receiving class notices later in December.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Judge Approves Apple’s Massive MacBook Keyboard Lawsuit Payout

Is sustainability still a thing in open source?

Eugen Rochko just reported that the social service Mastodon had “hit 1,028,362 monthly active users […] 1,124 new Mastodon servers since Oct 27 and 489,003 new users”. Known mainly by open source developers, Mastodon has suddenly become mainstream, promising to take inclusive, open, and free values to social media.

Source: LXer – Is sustainability still a thing in open source?

Elon Musk says he and Tim Cook 'resolved the misunderstanding' about Twitter's iOS app

Elon Musk and Tim Cook have apparently made up following a dustup over the status of Twitter’s iOS app. Musk, who earlier this week, claimed that Apple had “threatened to withhold’ Twitter from the App Store,” said he and Cook had a “good conversation” during a meeting at Apple’s headquarters.

“Among other things, we resolved the misunderstanding about Twitter potentially being removed from the App Store,” Musk wrote. “Tim was clear that Apple never considered doing so.” Musk never said what the original source of Apple’s issue with Twitter’s app was. But Twitter’s former head of trust and safety has stated that Apple had flagged various issues during the app review process in the past.

Of note, Musk’s latest tweets don’t mention if Cook addressed any of Musk’s other recent complaints. In addition to the App Store issue, Musk had also joined the growing ranks of developers to criticize the App Store’s 30 percent “secret tax” on in-app purchases. Musk reportedly delayed the re-launch of Twitter Blue subscriptions in order to avoid the fees, according to the newsletter Platformer.

Musk had also called out Cook for halting much of Apple’s advertising on Twitter, claiming that the iPhone maker had “mostly stopped” ad campaigns on the platform. The company is currently trying to reassure brands amid a broader pullback in advertising from the platform.

Source: Engadget – Elon Musk says he and Tim Cook ‘resolved the misunderstanding’ about Twitter’s iOS app

OpenStack Cloud Sees Explosive Growth

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: One bit of accepted wisdom in some cloud circles is that OpenStack, the open-source Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud, is declining. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s alive, well, and growing like crazy. According to the 2022 OpenStack User Survey, OpenStack now has over 40 million production cores. Or, in other words, it’s seen 60% growth since 2021 and a 166% jump since 2020. Not bad for a so-called also-run, eh? It’s not just telecoms, where OpenStack has become the backbone of major cell companies such as China Mobile and Verizon. Nor is it just other major companies such as the Japanese instant messaging service LINE, the on-demand, cloud-based financial management service company Workday, Walmart Labs, and Yahoo. No, many other, much smaller companies have also staked their cloud future on OpenStack.

Why? There are many reasons. As Jonathan Bryce, executive director of the Open Infrastructure Foundation (OpenInfra Foundation), OpenStack’s parent organization, said, “OpenStack supports the ever-changing world of infrastructure where now we have GPUs, FPGAs, smart NICs, and smart storage. At the same time, you can still get direct access to the underlying hardware.” This, in turn, enables “OpenStack users to create such amazing things as telecom cloud workloads on the cloud that can do edge transcoding video. With this, people can watch 4K videos on their phones using 5G.” Another reason for OpenStack’s growing popularity is its Kubernetes integration. Thanks to Linux OpenStack Kubernetes Infrastructure (LOKI), Kubernetes is now deployed on over 85% of OpenStack deployments. In addition, Magnum, the OpenStack container orchestration service, is also gaining popularity. 21% of users are now running production workloads with it. […] Kubernetes is also very useful with hybrid clouds. OpenStack is often used in hybrid clouds. Indeed, 80% of OpenStack users are deploying it in hybrid clouds. To make it easier to build out hybrid clouds, operators are turning to Octavia, an open-source, operator-scale load-balancing program. Today, not quite 50% of OpenStack deployments are using Octavia. OpenInfra Foundation’s general manager Thierry Carrez said: “Hype is nice, but substance lasts, and as OpenStack deployments continue to grow in staggering numbers, the OpenStack community is proving that it’s not only alive and well, but also delivering indisputable value to organizations.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – OpenStack Cloud Sees Explosive Growth

The Last of Us Character Posters Introduce the Show's Post-Apocalyptic Ensemble

If there’s a genre that won’t die, it’s survivors doing their best (and sometimes their worst) amid a zombie apocalypse. Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us PlayStation games offer a particularly compelling take on the story—which is why the series is soon making the jump to HBO Max. Today, we’ve got close-up looks at the …

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Source: Gizmodo – The Last of Us Character Posters Introduce the Show’s Post-Apocalyptic Ensemble

Chrome, Defender, and Firefox 0-days linked to commercial IT firm in Spain

The word ZERO-DAY is hidden amidst a screen filled with ones and zeroes.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Google researchers said on Wednesday they have linked a Barcelona, Spain-based IT company to the sale of advanced software frameworks that exploit vulnerabilities in Chrome, Firefox, and Windows Defender.

Variston IT bills itself as a provider of tailor-made Information security solutions, including technology for embedded SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) and Internet of Things integrators, custom security patches for proprietary systems, tools for data discovery, security training, and the development of secure protocols for embedded devices. According to a report from Google’s Threat Analysis Group, Variston sells another product not mentioned on its website: software frameworks that provide everything a customer needs to surreptitiously install malware on devices they want to spy on.

Researchers Clement Lecigne and Benoit Sevens said the exploit frameworks were used to exploit n-day vulnerabilities, which are those that have been patched recently enough that some targets haven’t yet installed them. Evidence suggests, they added, that the frameworks were also used when the vulnerabilities were zero-days. The researchers are disclosing their findings in an attempt to disrupt the market for spyware, which they said is booming and poses a threat to various groups.

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Source: Ars Technica – Chrome, Defender, and Firefox 0-days linked to commercial IT firm in Spain

Zuckerberg Says Apple's Policies Not 'Sustainable'

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday added to the growing chorus of concerns about Apple, arguing that it’s “problematic that one company controls what happens on the device.” Axios reports: “I think the problem is that you get into it with the platform control, is that Apple obviously has their own interests,” Zuckerberg said at The New York Times’ Dealbook conference. “[T]he fact that companies have to deliver their apps exclusively through platforms that are controlled by competitors — there is a conflict of interest there,” he said. That conflict of interest makes Apple “not just a kind of governor that is looking out for the best of people’s interests.”

Zuckerberg also noted that Apple’s policies differ from other tech giants, including Microsoft and Google, which allow apps to be sideloaded onto devices if they’re inaccessible in app stores. “I do think Apple has sort of singled themselves out as the only company that is trying to control, unilaterally, what apps get on the device and I don’t think that’s a sustainable or a good place to be.” Changes to Apple’s app tracking policies last year are expected to cost Meta billions of dollars in lost ad revenue.

Zuckerberg’s comments come days after Musk publicly attacked Apple, alleging the company’s app store policies are an abuse of power. Asked about Musk’s content moderation decisions, Zuckerberg didn’t go as far as to endorse his strategy, but said, “I kind of think the world in the industry gets more interesting when people take some different approaches.” “[Y[ou can agree or disagree with what Elon is doing, or how he’s doing it. But I do think it’s going to be very interesting to see how this plays out in terms of the approaches he’s taking.” When asked about TikTok, Zuckerberg said it raises “a very complex set of questions” about the involvement of the Chinese state with TikTok’s affairs. “I’m sure it’s complicated.”

Further reading: Mark Zuckerberg Still ‘Long-Term Optimistic’ on Metaverse, Says Skepticism Doesn’t Bother Him Too Much

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Zuckerberg Says Apple’s Policies Not ‘Sustainable’

Vote for Your Favorite Wildlife Photo of the Year

Do you prefer a happy shot of polar cub frolicking among flowers, or a frightening close-up of a wasp’s attack on a spider? The National History Museum in London is asking for the public to vote on its top nature photos of 2022. On Wednesday, it opened up the People’s Choice portion of its annual Wildlife Photographer…

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Source: Gizmodo – Vote for Your Favorite Wildlife Photo of the Year

Twitter is now pushing recommended tweets to everyone

Twitter is now pushing more tweets from accounts users don’t already follow into their timelines. The company revealed that it’s now surfacing recommendations to all its users, even people who had successfully avoided them in the past.

“We want to ensure everyone on Twitter sees the best content on the platform, so we’re expanding recommendations to all users, including those who may not have seen them in the past,” the company wrote in a tweet.

It’s not clear if this means recommendations will begin to appear in the “latest” timeline, which sorts tweets chronologically and has historically not included recommendations, or if Twitter is simply making recommendations more prominent in other parts of the app. In its tweet, the company pointed to a blog post from September, which states that “recommendations can appear in your Home timeline, certain places within the Explore tab, and elsewhere on Twitter.”

Anecdotally, it seems some users are already reportingnoticeablechanges to their timelines, with the appearance of new topic suggestions and many tweets from seemingly random accounts.

Though the change may feel jarring, it’s not the first time the company has experimented with adding more suggested content. Twitter has been pushing recommendations into various parts of its service for years, though it has sometimes tweaked how often these suggestions appear. In the past, Twitter has also been careful to note that it bars certain types of content from recommendations in order to avoid amplifying potentially harmful or low-quality content, though it’s not entirely clear if that’s still the case. The company no longer has a communications team.

Interestingly, Twitter’s current CEO, Elon Musk, hasn’t always spoken favorably about the platform’s recommendation algorithms. Back in May, he tweeted that using the app’s “latest” timeline was crucial to “fix” Twitter’s feed. “You are being manipulated by the algorithm in ways you don’t realize,” he said at the time. Musk, who has also spoken about his desire to open source Twitter’s algorithms, hasn’t yet weighed in on the new expansion of recommendations, or how the feature works.

Source: Engadget – Twitter is now pushing recommended tweets to everyone

[$] Python and hashing None

The recent discussion of a proposed change to the Python language—the usual
fare on the
language’s Ideas
—was interesting, somewhat less for the actual feature under
discussion than
for the other issues raised. The change itself is a minor, convenience
feature that would provide a reproducible iteration order for certain
kinds of sets between
invocations of the interpreter. That is a pretty limited use case, and one
that could perhaps be fulfilled in other ways, but the discussion also
highlighted some
potentially worrying trends in the way that feature ideas are handled in
the Python community.

Source: – [$] Python and hashing None