Science and Technology

Academics on Google’s payroll?

The Google Transparency Project, an arm of an organization called the Campaign for Accountability, released a study this month claiming that Google funneled money to hundreds of academic research projects related to antitrust, intellectual property and other legal policy issues important to the company’s bottom line. Worse, the Google Transparency Project alleged that most of the resulting publications failed to disclose Google’s financial stake in the research. Pitched as an expose of corporate corruption of the ivory tower, the story got immediate traction in national and international media outlets. More interesting Articles from

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Fact-checking site Snopes pleads for help to stay alive

Snopes, touted as the internet’s oldest fact-checking website, said Monday it is in danger of shutting down due to a legal dispute with a digital services company hosting the site. The site founded in 1994 to debunk urban legends and fake news said in a statement the dispute has cut off advertising revenues for its operations, and asked readers for donations of $10 or more. Snopes, which has been locked in a legal battle with services firm Proper Media, said its contractual relationship ended earlier this year, “but the vendor will not acknowledge the change in contractual status and continues …

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Alphabet profit hit by EU fine on Google

Google’s parent company Alphabet says its quarterly profits took a hit because of a $2.74 billion anti-trust fine imposed by the European Union Google parent Alphabet on Monday reported a quarterly profit of $3.5 billion, in a sharp decline from a year ago, with a massive fine by the European Commission biting into earnings. The technology giant reported that revenue grew to $26 billion in the recently ended quarter, and that profit would have tallied nearly $6.3 billion if it weren’t for a $2.74 billion antitrust fine levied on search engine Google by the European Commission. The earnings for the …

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Google parent books $2.7B fine as European fight looms

This Tuesday, July 19, 2016, file photo shows the Google logo at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, reports earnings on Monday, July 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) Google parent Alphabet is taking a $2.7 billion write-down to cover a large fine EU antitrust enforcers assessed in June . While the search giant can shrug off the cost, uncertainty lingers over its ability to operate freely on the continent going forward. The European Commission ruling slapped down Google for abusing its market dominance in search by unfairly directing visitors to …

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Microsoft Paint brushed aside

Microsoft executive Megan Saunders introduces Paint 3D at a Microsoft news conference in 2016 in New York. The original Paint application, dating back to 1985, is to be retired, Microsoft said Microsoft on Monday announced the end of days for its pioneering Paint application as it focuses on software for 3-D drawing. Paint drawing and image processing software that made its debut in 1985 with the Windows operating system was among the applications listed as “removed or deprecated” in a Windows 10 Fall Creators Update set for release later this year. Features or functions on the list “are not in …

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Target ‘best connected neighbors’ to stop spread of infection in developing countries

A fishing village along Lake Victoria in the Mayuge District of Uganda, close to where researchers gathered data for the latest study. Credit: Dr. Goylette Chami Our lives benefit from social networks: the contact and dialogue between family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. However these networks can also cost lives by transmitting infection or misinformation, particularly in developing nations. In fact, when there is an outbreak of disease, or of damaging rumour that hinders uptake of vaccination, the network through which it spreads needs to be broken up – and fast. But who are the people with most connections – the …

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‘Making Contact’ chronicles an astronomer’s struggle to find E.T.

Making ContactSarah ScolesPegasus Books, $27.95 In Carl Sagan’s 1985 sci-fi novel Contact, a radio astronomer battles naysayers and funding setbacks to persist in her audacious plan — scanning the skies for signals from aliens. Sagan had real-life inspiration for his book (and the 1997 movie of the same name): astronomer Jill Tarter, who spearheaded the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, for decades. In Sagan’s story, the protagonist, Ellie Arroway, detects mysterious chatter from the cosmos. Tarter had no such luck. But her story, told by journalist Sarah Scoles in Making Contact, still provides insights into what it means to …

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German automakers’ shares fall on diesel emissions concerns

In this Wednesday, March 15, 2017 file photo, the four ring logo of German car producer Audi is photographed at the headquarters after the annual press conference in Ingolstadt, Germany. German automaker Audi says it will fit up to 850,000 diesel cars with new software to improve their emissions performance, following a similar move by rival Daimler as the auto industry tries to get ahead of public controversy over the technology. Audi, the luxury brand of the Volkswagen Group, announced the voluntary retrofitting program on Friday, July 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, file) The German auto industry’s troubles over excessive …

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Swedish leader says security leak in 2015 was disaster

Sweden’s prime minister says a security leak in the transport agency two years ago was “a disaster,” but it’s unclear what damage it may have caused. Stefan Lofven says the data leak was revealed after security police investigated the outsourcing of services by the Swedish Transport Agency and found IT workers in other countries, including the Czech Republic, were not given normal security checks. The leak was first reported on last week. Lofven told reporters Monday that he heard about the leak in January 2016 and that the leadership of the agency had been replaced. He said the head of …

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Will this Aussie robot be Amazon’s ‘pick’ of the bunch?

The Australian Centre for Robotic Vision team contesting the Amazon Robotics Challenge. Credit: Anthony Weate, QUT It’s the competition that could save Amazon.com billions in logistics – and QUT’s custom-built robot may be the winning solution. Built by a team of roboticists from the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision (the Centre), headquartered at QUT, ‘CartMan’ the logistics robot will pit its item-picking skills against 15 other international robots in the third annual Amazon Robotics Challenge, part of RoboCup 2017 in Nagoya, Japan, on Thursday 27 July. And with a prize pool of US$250,000 for teams that successfully complete the task …

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World’s highest output density with power amplifier for W-band GaN transmitters

Figure 1. Credit: Fujitsu Fujitsu today announced the development of a gallium-nitride (GaN) high-electron mobility transistor (HEMT) power amplifier for use in W-band (75-110 GHz) transmissions. To realize long-distance, high-capacity wireless communications, a promising approach is to utilize the W-band and other high frequency bands that encompass a broad range of usable frequencies, and increase output with a transmission power amplifier. At the same time, demand exists for improved efficiency in power amplifiers in order to mitigate the increased power consumption of communication systems. Fujitsu has now succeeded in developing a power amplifier for use in W-band transmissions that offers …

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Smart sensors could save lives

KAUST scientists’ disposable mobile wireless sensor nodes can be used to give early warning of industrial leaks or forest fires. Reproduced with permission from ref 1. Credit: Farooqui et al. 3-D-printed, disposable sensors capable of detecting noxious gases and changes in temperature and humidity, could revolutionize environmental monitoring. In an emergency, early warning is key to escaping from a hazard, such as a forest fire or a chemical leak. Motivated to improve on safety, a team from KAUST is using 3-D printing to develop a cheap, reliable system to signal danger1. Existing early warning systems rely on satellite monitoring, watch …

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Fewer big rogue planets roam the galaxy, recount shows

Big, rogue planets — ones without parent stars — are rare. A new census of free-floating Jupiter-mass planets determined that these worlds are a tenth as common as previous estimates suggested. The results appear online July 24 in Nature. Planets can go rogue in two ways: They can get kicked out of their parent planetary systems or form when a ball of gas and dust collapses (SN: 4/4/15, p. 22). In the new study, Przemek Mróz of the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Warsaw and colleagues estimated the number of large, rogue planets in our galaxy using a technique …

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