The First X-Ray Taken of a Single Atom

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Atomic-scale imaging emerged in the mid-1950s and has been advancing rapidly ever since — so much so, that back in 2008, physicists successfully used an electron microscope to image a single hydrogen atom. Five years later, scientists were able to peer inside a hydrogen atom using a “quantum microscope,” resulting in the first direct observation of electron orbitals. And now we have the first X-ray taken of a single atom, courtesy of scientists from Ohio University, Argonne National Laboratory, and the University of Illinois-Chicago, according to a new paper published in the journal Nature.

“Atoms can be routinely imaged with scanning probe microscopes, but without X-rays one cannot tell what they are made of,” said co-author Saw-Wai Hla, a physicist at Ohio University and Argonne National Laboratory. “We can now detect exactly the type of a particular atom, one atom at a time, and can simultaneously measure its chemical state. Once we are able to do that, we can trace the materials down to [the] ultimate limit of just one atom. This will have a great impact on environmental and medical sciences.” […] Hla has been working for the last 12 years to develop an X-ray version of STM: synchrotron X-ray-scanning tunneling microscopy, or SX-STM, which would enable scientists to identify the type of atom and its chemical state. X-ray imaging methods like synchrotron radiation are widely used across myriad disciplines, including art and archaeology. But the smallest amount to date that can be X-rayed is an attogram, or roughly 10,000 atoms. That’s because the X-ray emission of a single atom is just too weak to be detected — until now.

SX-STM combines conventional synchrotron radiation with quantum tunneling. It replaces the conventional X-ray detector used in most synchrotron radiation experiments with a different kind of detector: a sharp metal tip placed extremely close to the sample, the better to collect electrons pushed into an excited state by the X-rays. With Hla et al.’s method, X-rays hit the sample and excite the core electrons, which then tunnel to the detector tip. The photoabsorption of the core electrons serves as a kind of elemental fingerprint for identifying the type of atoms in a material. The team tested their method at the XTIP beam line at Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source, using an iron atom and a terbium atom (inserted into supramolecules, which served as hosts). And that’s not all. “We have detected the chemical states of individual atoms as well,” said Hla. “By comparing the chemical states of an iron atom and a terbium atom inside respective molecular hosts, we find that the terbium atom, a rare-earth metal, is rather isolated and does not change its chemical state, while the iron atom strongly interacts with its surrounding.” Also, Hla’s team has developed another technique called X-ray-excited resonance tunneling (X-ERT), which will allow them to detect the orientation of the orbital of a single molecule on a material surface.

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Source: Slashdot – The First X-Ray Taken of a Single Atom

US Announces $46 Million In Funds To Eight Nuclear Fusion Companies

The US Department of Energy has announced that eight American companies working on nuclear fusion energy will receive $46 million in government funding to pursue pilot plants aimed at generating power from fusion reactions. Reuters reports: The Energy Department’s Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program hopes to help develop pilot-scale demonstration of fusion within a decade. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to partnering with innovative researchers and companies across the country to take fusion energy past the lab and toward the grid,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a release. The awardees are: Commonwealth Fusion Systems, Focused Energy Inc, Princeton Stellarators Inc, Realta Fusion Inc, Tokamak Energy Inc, Type One Energy Group, Xcimer Energy Inc, and Zap Energy Inc

The funding, which comes from the Energy Act of 2020, is for the first 18 months. Projects may last up to five years, with future funding contingent on congressional appropriations and progress from the companies in meeting milestones.

Looking to launch fusion plants that use lasers or magnets, private companies and government labs spent $500 million on their supply chains last year, according to a Fusion Industry Association (FIA) survey. They plan to spend about $7 billion by the time their first plants come online, and potentially trillions of dollars mainly on high-grade steel, concrete and superconducting wire in a mature industry, estimated to be sometime between 2035 and 2050, the survey said.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – US Announces Million In Funds To Eight Nuclear Fusion Companies

New Report Says American Government Agencies Are Using Malware Similar To Banned Pegasus Spyware

A new report has revealed that a government agency in the US, namely the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), is allegedly using a spyware called Paragon Graphite that shares similarities with the notorious Pegasus spyware. From a report: Pegasus was sold off to the government and other law firms. Moreover, we saw the firm making plenty of purchases through the likes of hackers. The software tends to give in to exploitation that can be achieved through zero clicks, all thanks to the great skill of hackers. Moreover, such software can produce its target without any interaction. […] New reports by the Financial Times stated how the American Government makes use of this technology as it can pierce all sorts of protections linked to modern-day smart devices. Similarly, it can evade various forms of encryption for messaging applications such as WhatsApp and harvest data thanks to the likes of cloud backups. And yes, it’s very similar to its counterpart Pegasus in this ordeal.

For now, the DEA is awfully hushed on the matter and not releasing any more comments on this situation. But it did reveal how its agency ended up purchasing Graphite to be used by agencies in Mexico so they could curb the drug cartel situation. “According to four [industry figures], the US Drug Enforcement and Administration Agency is among the top customers for Paragon’s signature product nicknamed Graphite,” reports the Financial Times. “The malware surreptitiously pierces the protections of modern smartphones and evades the encryption of messaging apps like Signal or WhatsApp, sometimes harvesting the data from cloud backups — much like Pegasus does.”

The report adds: “Congressman Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote to the DEA in December asking for more details on the purchase. Mexico is among the worst abusers of NO’s Pegasus which it bought nearly a decade ago.

Schiff wrote: “such use [of spyware] could have potential implications for US national security, as well as run contrary to efforts to deter the broad proliferation of powerful surveillance capabilities to autocratic regimes and others who may misuse them.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – New Report Says American Government Agencies Are Using Malware Similar To Banned Pegasus Spyware

Reddit Is Killing The Best Way To Read The Site

Reddit is one of the biggest and most important websites on the planet, especially since it’s one of the last places human beings can get questions answered by actual human beings. So it sucks to see that the company is about to crush many of the best ways to actually experience the whole thing.

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Source: Kotaku – Reddit Is Killing The Best Way To Read The Site

Meta Threatens To Yank News Content From California Over Payments Bill

Meta announced that it would remove news content from its platform in California if the state government passes legislation requiring tech companies to pay publishers. Reuters reports: The proposed California Journalism Preservation Act would require “online platforms” to pay a “journalism usage fee” to news providers whose work appears on their services, aimed at reversing a decline in the local news sector. In a tweeted statement, Meta spokesman Andy Stone called the payment structure a “slush fund” and said the bill would primarily benefit “big, out-of-state media companies under the guise of aiding California publishers.”

The statement was Meta’s first on the California bill specifically, although the company has been waging similar battles over compensation for news publishers at the federal level and in countries outside the United States.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Meta Threatens To Yank News Content From California Over Payments Bill

Report: Two Men Got Jobs At Amazon Just To Steal Copies Of Zelda

A report from Japanese magazine Shūkan Bunshun says that in the leadup to the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom earlier this month two men—in isolated cases—got contract jobs at Amazon for the express purpose of getting their hands on a copy of the game early.

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Source: Kotaku – Report: Two Men Got Jobs At Amazon Just To Steal Copies Of Zelda

Instagram explains its recommendations and 'shadowbanning'

Instagram is, once again, trying to explain how its recommendations work in an attempt to dispel “misconceptions” about how the app’s algorithm works and whether or not the company engages in “shadowbanning” of certain creators. In a new blog post from Instagram’s top exec Adam Mosseri, he offers one of the most detailed explanations to date on how the app ranks content in various parts of the app.

“Instagram doesn’t have a singular algorithm that oversees what people do and don’t see on the app,” Mosseri explains. Instead, he says, there are multiple algorithms and ranking systems underpinning different aspects of the app, like Explore, Reels, Stories and search. Each of these uses a variety of signals to determine how content is ranked for each user.

For example, the order of posts in your main feed is determined by your past activity, as well as previous interactions with the person who made each post. Likewise, Stories posts take into account viewing history as well as “closeness,” or “how likely you are to be connected as friends or family.” On the other hand, recommendations in Explore are largely based “posts you’ve liked, saved, shared and commented on in the past,” but are more likely to come from accounts you’ve never interacted with.

One of the more interesting sections of Mosseri’s blog post is titled “addressing shadowbanning.” Mosseri notes that there isn’t a universal definition for the word, but acknowledges that many creators “use the term to imply that a user’s account or content is limited or hidden without a clear explanation or justification.” And he says that the company is working to increase transparency around when creators’ content or accounts are blocked from the app’s recommendations.

Specifically, he calls out the app’s “account status” feature, which can alert users if one of their posts or their account is considered “ineligible” for recommendations. The feature also offers an appeals process. While it’s not the first time Instagram has addressed the issue, which has been the subject of much speculation and conspiracy theories over the years, there has been a notable shift in the way the company is talking about “shadowbanning.”

In a similar post from two years ago, Mosseri wrote that “the truth is most of your followers won’t see what you share, because most look at less than half of their Feed.” Now, he says Instagram is working on increasing transparency in cases when a creator’s content isn’t widely distributed due to a policy violation. “If anything makes your content less visible, you should know about it and be able to appeal,” he wrote.

He added that Instagram is testing “new notifications to help creators understand when the reach of their reel may be limited due to a watermark” (the company has tried to discourage users from posting recycled TikToks to Reels for years).

While some creators may still find these explanations unsatisfying — and there are more than a few who fall into that camp, judging by the comments on Mosseri’s own Instagram post — the new details underscore just how central algorithmic recommendations are becoming to Instagram. While the app re-introduced an optional chronological feed, Mark Zuckerberg has said his goal is to transform Instagram and Facebook into a “discovery engine” more focused on recommendations than posts from friends.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Source: Engadget – Instagram explains its recommendations and ‘shadowbanning’

6 monitor and TV innovations remind us that trade shows still exist

Wall Street Firms To Take On Binance, Coinbase, Other Crypto-Native Exchanges

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CryptoSlate: Traditional financial firms, including Standard Chartered, Nomura, and Charles Schwab, are busy building or funding new crypto exchange and custody platforms, FT reported on May 31. These well-known Wall Street firms are betting that fund managers are still interested in trading crypto even after last year’s market downturn and the string of crypto scandals. The FTX bankruptcy and Terra ecosystem implosion, among others, highlighted the risk of investing through largely unregulated exchanges. But legacy firms believe asset managers prefer dealing with established players over crypto-native exchanges like Binance.

Gautam Chhugani, Senior Analyst of Global Digital Assets at Bernstein, told FT: “The large, pedigreed, traditional institutional investors definitely prefer dealing with counterparties who they know have been in existence for years and have been regulated in the traditional sense.” In a survey of 250 asset managers published by EY-Parthenon earlier this month, half of the respondents said they would consider switching from a crypto-native group to a traditional-backed company if they offered the same services. Additionally, 90% of respondents trusted traditional financial groups to act as custodians for their crypto assets.

The collapse of crypto firms last year and the disclosures on alleged malpractices eroded the trust of crypto investors. Traditional financial firms are banking on their finance industry expertise, long-standing reputations, and lack of regulatory scrutiny to attract clients. The new wave of legacy-backed crypto platforms will compete with Coinbase and Binance, which also host institutional clients. But traditional finance firms will compete by building more transparent operations — particularly in separating exchanges from asset custody to avoid conflict of interest and reduce risk. The report notes that BNY Mellon and Fidelity already operate separate crypto custody divisions. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq is waiting for regulators to greenlight its service.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Wall Street Firms To Take On Binance, Coinbase, Other Crypto-Native Exchanges

How To Find Everything For Fortnite’s Week 12 Quests

Season Three of Fortnite’s fourth chapter is almost upon us, but we’ve still got quests left to do. For Week 12, you’ll be chattin’ it up with NPCs, spending money, stealing money, doing some amateur geology, and killing other players dead.

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Source: Kotaku – How To Find Everything For Fortnite’s Week 12 Quests

Critical Role Has a Custom Zelda TTRPG, and We Might Never See It

Last night, Critical Role played a Legend of Zelda-inspired tabletop roleplaying game, and we might never get to see it, play it, or hear about it ever again. This could change but… who knows. The point is that there is a Nintendo-approved Zelda-inspired TTRPG out there, totally playable, and nobody is handing it…

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Source: Gizmodo – Critical Role Has a Custom Zelda TTRPG, and We Might Never See It

Amazon To Pay $30 Million For Alexa, Ring Privacy Violations

Amazon and its subsidiary, Ring, have agreed to separate multi-million dollar settlements with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over privacy violations involving children’s use of Alexa and homeowners’ use of Ring doorbell cameras. Amazon will pay $25 million for failing to delete Alexa recordings as requested by parents and for keeping them longer than necessary, while Ring will pay $5.8 million for mishandling customers’ videos. Reuters reports: “While we disagree with the FTC’s claims regarding both Alexa and Ring, and deny violating the law, these settlements put these matters behind us,” said in a statement. It also pledged to make some changes to its practices.

In its complaint against filed in Washington state, the FTC said that it violated rules protecting children’s privacy and rules against deceiving consumers who used Alexa. For example, the FTC complaint says that Amazon told users it would delete voice transcripts and location information upon request, but then failed to do so.

The FTC also said Ring gave employees unrestricted access to customers’ sensitive video data said “as a result of this dangerously overbroad access and lax attitude toward privacy and security, employees and third-party contractors were able to view, download, and transfer customers’ sensitive video data for their own purposes.” As part of the FTC agreement with Ring, which spans 20 years, Ring is required to disclose to customers how much access to their data the company and its contractors have.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Amazon To Pay Million For Alexa, Ring Privacy Violations

Canonical: We Are Excited to Explore the Idea of a Fully Containerised, Immutable Ubuntu Desktop

Canonical’s Oliver Smith writes today in a blog post that the company behind one of the most popular GNU/Linux distributions is excited to explore the idea of a fully containerized and immutable Ubuntu desktop in the near future.

Source: LXer – Canonical: We Are Excited to Explore the Idea of a Fully Containerised, Immutable Ubuntu Desktop

Researchers tell owners to “assume compromise” of unpatched Zyxel firewalls

Researchers tell owners to “assume compromise” of unpatched Zyxel firewalls

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Firewalls made by Zyxel are being wrangled into a destructive botnet, which is taking control of them by exploiting a recently patched vulnerability with a severity rating of 9.8 out of a possible 10.

“At this stage if you have a vulnerable device exposed, assume compromise,” officials from Shadowserver, an organization that monitors Internet threats in real time, warned four days ago. The officials said the exploits are coming from a botnet that’s similar to Mirai, which harnesses the collective bandwidth of thousands of compromised Internet devices to knock sites offline with distributed denial-of-service attacks.

According to data from Shadowserver collected over the past 10 days, 25 of the top 62 Internet-connected devices waging “downstream attacks”—meaning attempting to hack other Internet-connected devices—were made by Zyxel as measured by IP addresses.

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Source: Ars Technica – Researchers tell owners to “assume compromise” of unpatched Zyxel firewalls