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Measurement Shows the Electron's Stubborn Roundness
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

OneHundredAndTen writes: A new article in Nature reports of a new, extremely precise measurement of the electric dipole moment of the electron. The conclusion is that, within the margin of error of the measurement, the electron remains a perfect sphere. This implies that supersymmetric theories keep running out of corners to hide, that another nail is driven into their coffin, and that string theory looks less and less compelling. By lighting up the molecules with lasers, "the scientists were able to interpret how other subatomic particles alter the distribution of an electron's charge," reports Scientific American. "The symmetrical roundness of the electrons suggested that unseen particles aren't big enough to skew electrons into squashed oblong shapes, or ovals. These findings once again confirm a long-standing physics theory, known as the Standard Model, which describes how particles and forces in the universe behave."

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Microplastics Found In 90 Percent of Table Salt
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

An anonymous reader quotes a report from National Geographic: New research shows microplastics in 90 percent of the table salt brands sampled worldwide. Of 39 salt brands tested, 36 had microplastics in them, according to a new analysis by researchers in South Korea and Greenpeace East Asia. Salt samples from 21 countries in Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia were analyzed. The three brands that did not contain microplastics are from Taiwan (refined sea salt), China (refined rock salt), and France (unrefined sea salt produced by solar evaporation). The study was published this month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The density of microplastics found in salt varied dramatically among different brands, but those from Asian brands were especially high, the study found. The highest quantities of microplastics were found in salt sold in Indonesia. Asia is a hot spot for plastic pollution, and Indonesia -- with 34,000 miles (54,720 km) of coastline -- ranked in an unrelated 2015 study as suffering the second-worst level of plastic pollution in the world. In another indicator of the geographic density of plastic pollution, microplastics levels were highest in sea salt, followed by lake salt and then rock salt. Even though the study found that the average adult consumes approximately 2,000 microplastics per year through salt, it's not clear what the health consequences are.

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The Army Is Preparing To Send Driverless Vehicles Into Combat
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

The U.S. Army is getting ready to send driverless trucks into combat. "Next fall, [the Army's] 'Leader-Follower' technology will enable convoys of autonomous vehicles to follow behind one driven by a human," reports VICE News. "It's a direct response to the improvised explosive devices that caused nearly half the casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan." From the report: Much of the research and development of these technologies has been done at TARDEC, the Army's Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, in Warren, Michigan. Typically human-driven trucks are outfitted with sensors and cameras through a TARDEC-created applique kit. They're not exactly robots, just regular military trucks that have been made a lot smarter. The technology is expected to be ready for field use in September 2019.

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Twitter Publishes Archive of 10 Million Tweets From Russian, Iranian Bots
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

AmiMoJo shares a report from Boing Boing: To enable "further research of information operations on Twitter," the company today published a dataset of tweets posted by known Russian and Iranian troll farms. "These large datasets comprise 3,841 accounts affiliated with the IRA, originating in Russia, and 770 other accounts, potentially originating in Iran," the blog post reads. "They include more than 10 million Tweets and more than 2 million images, GIFs, videos, and Periscope broadcasts, including the earliest on-Twitter activity from accounts connected with these campaigns, dating back to 2009." You can download the Russian and Iranian datasets here. The Russian dataset is comprised of 1.24GB of tweets and 300GB of media, while the Iranian dataset is comprised of 168MB of tweets and 65.7GB of media.

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iPhone's New Parental Controls Block Sex Ed, Allow Violence and Racism
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

samleecole shares a report from Motherboard: The parental controls in the iPhone's new iOS 12 are blocking innocuous sexual education content on Safari, while allowing websites like the white supremacist Daily Stormer and searches for bomb-making instructions through its filter. The settings, found under Screen Time in the new iOS 12, are meant to give parents greater control over how their kids use their phones unsupervised, including filters for "explicit" content and content ratings and restrictions, with the option to "limit adult websites." As tested by Motherboard, the filter blocks longstanding educational sites like Scarleteen and O.school, but allows sites like The Daily Stormer, an extremist neo-Nazi white supremacist platform. The filter in question "limits adult websites" on Safari. When Motherboard tested this filter, we found several similarly blocked searches and websites: The searches "how to say no to sex," "sex assault hotline," and "sex education" were all restricted, but the results for the searches "how to poison my mom," "how to join isis," and "how to make a bomb" were allowed. 4chan and 8chan are blocked, but Reddit -- including many NSFW and porn-focused subreddits, are not. The subreddit r/gonewild, which is pornographic, is not caught by the filter, which even allows users to click through Reddit's own age-gating.

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