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Supreme Court blocks patenting of genomic DNA

Supreme Court blocks patenting of genomic DNA | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Micah Baldwin



The US Supreme Court, in a nearly unanimous ruling (Scalia joined the majority, but only in part), has held that a piece of DNA that occurs naturally is not eligible for patenting.
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What's new at the crossroads of culture, technology and science
Curated by Artur Alves
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FCC votes for net neutrality, a ban on paid fast lanes, and Title II

FCC votes for net neutrality, a ban on paid fast lanes, and Title II | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Internet providers are now common carriers, and they're ready to sue.
Artur Alves's insight:

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The Federal Communications Commission today voted to enforce net neutrality rules that prevent Internet providers—including cellular carriers—from blocking or throttling traffic or giving priority to Web services in exchange for payment.

 

The most controversial part of the FCC's decision reclassifies fixed and mobile broadband as a telecommunications service, with providers to be regulated as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. This decision brings Internet service under the same type of regulatory regime faced by wireline telephone service and mobile voice, though the FCC is forbearing from stricter utility-style rules that it could also apply under Title II.

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Surprise! America Already Has a Manhattan Project for Developing Cyber Attacks | WIRED

Surprise! America Already Has a Manhattan Project for Developing Cyber Attacks | WIRED | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
“What we really need is a Manhattan Project for cybersecurity.” It’s a sentiment that swells up every few years in the wake of some huge computer intrusion—most recently the Sony and Anthem hacks. The invocation of the legendary program that spawned the atomic bomb is telling. The Manhattan Project is America’s go-to shorthand for our…
Artur Alves's insight:

«

On Monday, we finally learned the truth of it. America already has a computer security Manhattan Project. We’ve had it since at least 2001. Like the original, it has been highly classified, spawned huge technological advances in secret, and drawn some of the best minds in the country. We didn’t recognize it before because the project is not aimed at defense, as advocates hoped. Instead, like the original, America’s cyber Manhattan Project is purely offensive.

This revelation came by way of the Russia-based anti-virus company Kaspersky. At a conference in Cancun this week, Kaspersky researchers detailed the activities of a computer espionage outfit it calls the “Equation Group,” which, we can fairly surmise from previous leaks, is actually the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations unit. NSA’s cyber capabilities have been broadly known since the German news magazineDer Spiegel published a leaked 50-page catalog of NSA spy gear and malware in late 2013. But the one-page catalog descriptions didn’t convey the full flavor of the NSA’s technology. For that, somebody had to actually get their hands on that technology—capture it in the wild—and take it apart piece by piece, which is what Kaspersky did.

The result is impressive. The company has linked six different families of malware—“implants,” as the NSA calls them—to the Equation Group, the oldest of which has been kicking around since 2001. The malware has stayed below the radar in part because the NSA deploys it in limited, cautious stages. In the first stage, the agency might compromise a web forum or an ad network and use it to serve a simple “validator” backdoor to potential targets. That validator checks every newly infected computer to see if it’s of interest to the NSA. If not, it quietly removes itself, and nobody is the wiser.«

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How Google determined our right to be forgotten

How Google determined our right to be forgotten | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Google has acted as judge, jury and executioner in the wake of Europe’s right to be forgotten ruling. But what does society lose when a private corporation rules public information?
Artur Alves's insight:

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The point of having rights against search engines is not to manipulate memory or eliminate information, but to make it less prominent, where justified, and combat the side-effects of this uniquely modern phenomenon that information is instantly, globally, and perpetually accessible.

Since when has the internet become “truth”, or “memory”? And since when has “history” been reduced to Google’s commercially prioritised list of an imperfect collection of digital traces? Such elisions ignore the nuance of forgiveness and understanding, in conjunction with memory itself, in building truth and justice. They undervalue privacy and autonomy, at the price of near-total transparency, in building community and security.

The all-or-nothing framings imposed on this case constrain, influence and shape the narrative of a much broader war: the struggle for our digital identities. We have reached a critical moment. Control over our personal data has been all but lost online: lost to corporations, to governments; lost to each other. How can we, as individuals, be empowered by the huge benefits of digital connectivity and global information flows, yet still retain some personal control over the way our identities are represented and traded online? Costeja González’s case is a small but critical battle on that broader terrain.

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Hackers reportedly stole more than a billion private records last year

Hackers reportedly stole more than a billion private records last year | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Most of them from large data breaches in the United States.
Artur Alves's insight:

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The latest findings of the Breach Level Index (BLI), published by digital security company Gemalto, reveal a 49 percent increase in data breaches overall. More than half of the 1,500 breaches measured were motivated by identity theft, overshadowing all other categories, including access to financial data.

The majority of data breaches, or 55 percent, occurred due to a “malicious outsider.” Accidental loss accounted for 25 percent, “malicious insiders” for 15 percent, state sponsored hacks for 4 percent, and hacktivism for only 1 percent.

One-third of the most severe breaches were also motivated by identity theft, Gemalto reported.

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How Ransomware Works, and Why You Should Be Afraid | MIT Technology Review

How Ransomware Works, and Why You Should Be Afraid | MIT Technology Review | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Thousands of people will have their personal files held hostage this year, by software that uses virtually unbreakable encryption.
Artur Alves's insight:

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After infecting a computer, perhaps via an e-mail attachment or a malicious website, ransomware automatically encrypts files, which may include precious photos, videos, and business documents, and issues an electronic ransom note. Getting those files back means paying a fee to the criminals who control the malware—and hoping they will keep their side of the bargain by decrypting them.

 

The money that can be made with ransomware has encouraged technical innovations. The latest ransomware requests payment via the hard-to-trace cryptocurrency Bitcoin and uses the anonymizing Tor network. Millions of home and business computers were infected by ransomware in 2014. Computer crime experts say the problem will only get worse, and some believe mobile devices will be the next target.

 

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Aaron Walby's curator insight, February 10, 11:48 AM

Interesting read..

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GuardianWitness - Fracking debate in the UK: does it affect you?

GuardianWitness - Fracking debate in the UK: does it affect you? | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
The Scottish government has announced a moratorium on all planning consents for unconventional oil and gas extraction, including fracking.



But elsewhere in the UK, Lancashire county council has had to defer planning decisions on two proposals from shale gas explorer Cuadrilla, despite recommendations from council officers to refuse the application. A revised plan will be put out to public consultation - an eight week delay on a decision on what would be the UK's first full scale fracking.



Are you in an area that has been part of demonstrations or discussions about fracking? We want to hear your experiences about how this has affected where you live.



Share your stories, photos and videos and we will publish the best on the site alongside our coverage and as part of a Guardian Live event.



Your safety and welfare are most important – so please think about this when taking part in the protests and when sharing your content with us.
Artur Alves's insight:

The Guardian gives a boost to the debate on fracking in the UK.

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Trou Story - L'Exploitation Minière selon Richard Desjardins - YouTube

Documentaire québécois. Trou Story est un documentaire de Richard Desjardins et Robert Monderie qui dénonce l'exploitation « éhontée » des ressources minière...
Artur Alves's insight:

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Richard Desjardins et Robert Monderie renouent avec la veine pamphlétaire de L'erreur boréale dans ce long métrage documentaire sur l'histoire minière au Canada. Une industrie qui réalise ses profits faramineux au mépris de l'environnement et de la santé des travailleurs.

Trou Story est un film qui sonne l'éveil dans un pays qui ne contrôle pas son sous-sol, où les minières ne paient pas de taxes sur leurs activités et où les municipalités paient les routes sur lesquelles roulent les camions qui emportent les richesses à l'étranger. Certains films sont pertinents, d’autres sont nécessaires. Trou Story est de ceux -là!

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Research Priorities for Robust and Beneficial Artificial Intelligence: an Open Letter -The Future of Life Institute

Research Priorities for Robust and Beneficial Artificial Intelligence: an Open Letter

Artur Alves's insight:

«As capabilities in these areas and others cross the threshold from laboratory research to economically valuable technologies, a virtuous cycle takes hold whereby even small improvements in performance are worth large sums of money, prompting greater investments in research. There is now a broad consensus that AI research is progressing steadily, and that its impact on society is likely to increase. The potential benefits are huge, since everything that civilization has to offer is a product of human intelligence; we cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools AI may provide, but the eradication of disease and poverty are not unfathomable. Because of the great potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls.«

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Ulrich Beck - an appreciation

Ulrich Beck - an appreciation | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
openSecurity editor Robin Wilson reflects on the work of German intellectual - and frequent openDemocracy contributor - Ulrich Beck, who sadly passed away on 1 January.
Artur Alves's insight:

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The corporations still have the power—as Gramsci would say, they dominate but are no longer ‘hegemonic’—but the NGOs have the trust. That was a moral the corporate International which convenes every year at the World Economic Forum in Davos had to draw from survey evidence at one of its recent gatherings. And last year it had to focus on the inevitable corollary—that inequality is now the top item on the global political agenda. Marx’s famous internationalist slogan now sounds a bit hackneyed but ‘Cosmopolitans of the World Unite’ has something of a ring about it.

Sadly, Ulrich Beck will no longer be around to advise us on how to turn that slogan into reality. But one of his last publications, German Europe, left some salutary advice for Germany and the Europe which as economic powerhouse it now dominates. Beck debunked the old-time religion of the ‘Schwabian housewife’ chancellor, Angela Merkel—the fallacy that every eurozone member could somehow behave in the same beggar-thy-neighbour, ‘competitive’ fashion as Germany without dragging the continent into deflation, sustained debt and unending austerity. And he showed how Europe can only emerge from the crisis if Germany returns to the more modest ‘European Germany’ of the post-war period—recognising the inhuman ‘side effects’ it can have on its neighbours.

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Irresistibly biased? The blind spots of social innovation

Irresistibly biased? The blind spots of social innovation | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Social
innovation has an irresistible global appeal, but is it biased towards protecting
the status quo? 
Artur Alves's insight:

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Challenging dominant ideas and debating alternatives in the public sphere is a key source of creative tension. “Having a good fight before getting to yes” is essential to building compromises and constituencies, as the sociologist Xavier de Souza Briggs concludes in his book ‘Democracy as Problem Solving.” Protecting spaces for ‘unruly politics’and the exercise of strong countervailing power is vital for societal renewal.

So it’s highly problematic to hear Brooks Newmark, Britain’s “Minister for Civil Society,” say that social organizations should “stick to their knitting and keep out of politics” at a meeting that announced the dawn of a “people-helping-people age.” Just get on with your work, pay your taxes (so that government can bail out more banks), and don’t expect the state to bail out ordinary people.

Instead, here’s some money and the odd award for you to ‘innovate’ your way to helping people deal with a collapsing economy and a social safety net that’s disappearing. And so the social innovation community gets busy devising ingenious volunteering schemes in hospitals and facilitating communities to re-organize their depleted assets. Is this collaboration or co-optation?

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Baer’s Odyssey: Meet the serial inventor who built the world’s first game console

Baer’s Odyssey: Meet the serial inventor who built the world’s first game console | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
From the archives, we present a 2013 profile on the recently passed away gaming pioneer.
Artur Alves's insight:

Baer passed away yesterday. Here is Ars Technica's 2013 profile of one of the pioneers of gaming hardware.

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Nature makes all articles free to view

Nature makes all articles free to view | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Publisher permits subscribers and media to share read-only versions of its papers.
Artur Alves's insight:

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All research papers from Nature will be made free to read in a proprietary screen-view format that can be annotated but not copied, printed or downloaded, the journal’s publisher Macmillan announced on 2 December.

 The content-sharing policy, which also applies to 48 other journals in Macmillan’s Nature Publishing Group (NPG) division, including Nature Genetics, Nature Medicine and Nature Physics, marks an attempt to let scientists freely read and share articles while preserving NPG’s primary source of income — the subscription fees libraries and individuals pay to gain access to articles.

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Snowden: Spy Agencies 'Screwed All of Us' in Hacking Crypto Keys | WIRED

Snowden: Spy Agencies 'Screwed All of Us' in Hacking Crypto Keys | WIRED | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden didn’t mince words during a Reddit Ask Me Anything session on Monday when he said the NSA and the British spy agency GCHQ had “screwed all of us” when it hacked into the Dutch firm Gemalto
Artur Alves's insight:
« NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden didn’t mince words during a Reddit Ask Me Anything session on Monday when he said the NSA and the British spy agency GCHQ had “screwed all of us” when it hacked into the Dutch firm Gemalto to steal cryptographic keys used in billions of mobile SIM cards worldwide. “When the NSA and GCHQ compromised the security of potentially billions of phones (3g/4g encryption relies on the shared secret resident on the sim),” Snowden wrote in the AMA, “they not only screwed the manufacturer, they screwed all of us, because the only way to address the security compromise is to recall and replace every SIM sold by Gemalto.” Gemalto is one of the leading makers of SIM cards used in billions of mobile phones around the world to secure the communications of telecom customers of AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and more than 400 other wireless carriers in 85 countries. Stealing the crypto keys essentially allows the spy agencies to wiretap and decipher encrypted phone communications at will without the assistance of telecom carriers or the oversight of a court or government. The keys also allow the agencies to decrypt previously intercepted messages they hadn’t been able to crack. «
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Railroads want one-man crews on massive freight trains

Railroads want one-man crews on massive freight trains | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

yinMonday's fiery oil train crash was the latest in a string of explosive wrecks that have sparked fears about America's surge in oil train traffic.

Artur Alves's insight:

Railroads are pushing for staff reductions on trains carrying large amounts of oil in North America, even as multiple accidents demonstrate the risks of security compromises.

«
Monday’s fiery oil train crash in West Virginia was the latest in a string of explosive wrecks that have sparked fears about America’s surge in oil train traffic. And soon those trains may be rumbling through populated areas with just a single person at the controls, a change that railroad workers say presents an unacceptable risk.

Railroads have proposed eliminating the job of on-board conductor on most trains, leaving just an engineer aboard. The workers argue that one-person crews will mean more out-of-control trains, like the runaway that caused the Lac-Mégantic disaster in 2013. An oil train rolled downhill in the tiny Quebec town and exploded, killing 47 people. The company that owned the train had just downsized to a one-man crew, and that engineer failed to set the brakes properly, according to regulators.

Railroad executives counter that a new GPS-based braking system—required by Congress by the end of this year—will be enough to blunt that risk. But railroad workers, environmental groups, and people in the communities along the tracks strongly disagree.

“It’s a recipe for disaster,” said Mark Voelker, a switchman for BNSF Railway and an organizer for the SMART union, which represents conductors nationwide.

“These are mile-long trains carrying every kind of hazardous material you can think of through communities,” said Jen Wallis, another BNSF employee and founder of a caucus with members from 13 different railroad unions. “Why would you compromise the safe passage of these trains for profit?”
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Bavaria returns stolen books worth millions to Naples | News | DW.DE | 13.02.2015

Bavaria returns stolen books worth millions to Naples | News | DW.DE | 13.02.2015 | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
The German state of Bavaria has returned more than 500 stolen books to the Italian city of Naples. The collection, which includes works by Galileo Galilei, is estimated to be worth 2.5 million euros ($2.8 million).
Artur Alves's insight:

The books stolen from Girolamini library will be back in Italy soon.

 

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The 543 books, which date from the 16th and 17th century, were confiscated by German authorities in May 2012 after they were put on auction in the southern city of Munich.

The collection, which was returned to Naples on Friday is believed to have been stolen from the Girolamini libary in the southwestern Italian city between June 2011 and April 2012.

The former director of the library, Marino Massimo de Caro, was arrested in 2012 and later found guilty of the theft of the around 2,000 volumes.

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The Internet is Real

The Internet is Real - The Message - Medium
Ross Ulbricht, the Silk Road trial, and the quasi-fictions of internet culture.
Artur Alves's insight:

«The conventional wisdom of the internet has always been “nobody knows you’re a dog.” Casual users are reasonably skeptical of online activity by way of stories about Manti Te’o and experiences receiving suspicious looking emails sent from someone with a cousin’s name requesting money. But Ulbricht’s capture was the digital equivalent of getting caught redhanded — his screen open to a Silk Road “mastermind” page with detailed logs. The case suggests there may be a shift in the balance, a new understanding that not everything digital is to be disbelieved.«

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Anonymous claims victory over jihadi Twitter accounts in #OpIsis

Anonymous claims victory over jihadi Twitter accounts in #OpIsis | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Hacker collective says it has taken control of almost 100 Isis-affiliated accounts and warns of more to come
Artur Alves's insight:

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In the video put up by the group to report its success, a masked speaker, talking in the computer-generated speech Anonymous uses, says: “The terrorists that are calling themselves Islamic State (Isis) are not Muslims. Isis, we will hunt you, take down your sites, accounts, emails and expose you. From now on no safe place for you online. You will be treated like a virus and we are the cure. We own the internet.”

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Revealing letters in rolled Herculaneum papyri by X-ray phase-contrast imaging : Nature Communications : Nature Publishing Group

Revealing letters in rolled Herculaneum papyri by X-ray phase-contrast imaging : Nature Communications : Nature Publishing Group | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Artur Alves's insight:

«Hundreds of papyrus rolls, buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD and belonging to the only library passed on from Antiquity, were discovered 260 years ago at Herculaneum. These carbonized papyri are extremely fragile and are inevitably damaged or destroyed in the process of trying to open them to read their contents. In recent years, new imaging techniques have been developed to read the texts without unwrapping the rolls. Until now, specialists have been unable to view the carbon-based ink of these papyri, even when they could penetrate the different layers of their spiral structure. Here for the first time, we show that X-ray phase-contrast tomography can reveal various letters hidden inside the precious papyri without unrolling them. This attempt opens up new opportunities to read many Herculaneum papyri, which are still rolled up, thus enhancing our knowledge of ancient Greek literature and philosophy.«

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Scientists: Human activity has pushed Earth beyond four of nine ‘planetary boundaries’

Scientists: Human activity has pushed Earth beyond four of nine ‘planetary boundaries’ | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
A paper contends that we have already crossed four “planetary boundaries,” including carbon dioxide levels and the extinction rate.
Artur Alves's insight:

«The Earth has faced shocks before, and the biosphere has always recovered. Hundreds of millions of years ago, the planet apparently froze over — becoming “Snowball Earth.” About 66 million years ago, it was jolted by a mountain-sized rock from space that killed half the species on the planet, including the non-avian dinosaurs. Life on Earth always bounced back. “The planet is going to take care of itself. It’s going to be here,” Richardson said.

“There’s a lot of emotion involved in this. If you think about it, the American ethic is, ‘The sky’s the limit.’ And here you have people coming on and saying, no it isn’t, the Earth’s the limit,” she said.

Technology can potentially provide solutions, but innovations often come with unforeseen consequences. “The trends are toward layering on more and more technology so that we are more and more dependent on our technological systems to live outside these boundaries,” Pierrehumbert said. “. . . It becomes more and more like living on a spaceship than living on a planet.”«

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The Folly of Mars

The Folly of Mars | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
A half-century after the conclusion of the Apollo mission, we have entered a new age of space fantasy—one with Mars as its ruling hallucination.
Artur Alves's insight:
« But it’s not the planet Earth that’s fragile—it’s the human organism that’s extraordinarily delicate and needy, unable to survive beyond very narrow physical limits, the conditions for which exist naturally nowhere else in our solar system. To keep even a few people alive in space or on another planet requires from those left behind the expenditure of enormous resources. It’s not necessarily backwards-thinking, or anti-technology, or anti-exploration, to wonder if those resources could be better employed. The fantasy of a future new life for the species allows us to shrug off climate change and other global challenges with the thought that if we fail to make this planet livable for the billions of people who inhabit it, another is promised for us somewhere else. A belief in life extending beyond the Day of Judgment, after this compromised, faithless, corrupt, and undeserving world has been destroyed, is another deeply engrained theme in human history. It has inspired not a few religions over the course of civilization, often distracting us from our earthly cares and griefs. Millennialist or afterlife doctrines bind us to the leaders who promote them and elicit tremendous sacrifices on their behalf. The promise of rebirth in a fresh landscape is also held out by extraterrestrial settlement. As with other kinds of transcendence, the actual mechanism of conveyance to the better world poses a daunting technical problem. «
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For The First Time, Scientists Prove Fracking Caused An Earthquake Strong Enough To Be Felt By Humans

For The First Time, Scientists Prove Fracking Caused An Earthquake Strong Enough To Be Felt By Humans | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
This is the first time a study has linked an earthquake large enough to be felt by humans to fracking.
Artur Alves's insight:

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The scientists, from the University of Miami, identified 77 earthquakes of varying size in the Poland Township of Ohio, all occurring between March 4 and March 12 and all located near a group of oil and gas wells. The quakes ranged between magnitudes of 1.0 and 3.0, but the local community reportedly only felt one, a magnitude 3.0 on March 10.

According to study co-author Robert Skoumal, that magnitude 3.0 quake was “one the largest earthquakes ever induced by hydraulic fracturing in the United States.”

To make his determination, Skoumal and his colleagues compared the series of earthquakes to reports that showed the timing of fracking at those oil and gas wells, all operated by Hilcorp Energy. They found the earthquakes “coincided temporally and spatially with hydraulic fracturing at specific stages of the stimulation,” the BSSA said in a press release.

The research doesn’t prove that all fracking causes earthquakes, but it does suggest that fracking occurring near fault lines has the potential to cause them. The BSSA noted that the 77 Ohio quakes occurred along one fault line within .06 miles of the well sites, and that fracking occurring at other nearby wells not near that fault line produced no seismicity.

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Why Airlines Want to Make You Suffer

Why Airlines Want to Make You Suffer | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Airlines that charge fees for things like leg room, checked bags, and WiFi have a financial interest in making basic economy an intolerable experience.
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James Surowiecki What the History of Silicon Valley Teaches

James Surowiecki  What the History of Silicon Valley Teaches | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. BY WALTER ISAACSON. Simon & Schuster, 2014, 560 pp. $35.00. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. BY PETER THIEL WITH BLAKE MASTERS. Crown Business, 2014, 224 pp. $27.00.
Artur Alves's insight:

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In some sense, what Thiel is saying to entrepreneurs is not just, “Think about what it takes to get rich,” but also, “How do you want to spend your life?” Do you really want to have developed one of a million apps in the iTunes store or be a consultant who helps some company save a fraction of a penny making widgets? Do you, as so many end up doing, want to muddle along and hope something good happens? Or do you want to try to do something great and transformative?

 

Thiel obviously thinks that entrepreneurs should do the latter—if they have genuinely great ideas. (Otherwise, he suggests, they’re better off going to work for someone else who has a great idea.)As he puts it, “better to risk boldness than triviality.” And although he recognizes that luck plays a role in whether or not one succeeds, he contends that entrepreneurs need to “prioritize design over chance.” Even though they may know that the potential outcomes of their actions are uncertain, they need to plan, and not use that uncertainty as a crutch. These are the things that Isaacson’s innovators did. Isaacson’s history suggests that by its very nature, successful innovation requires a leap of faith, a willingness to believe that one can go from zero to one. Or, as the computer scientist Alan Kay has put it, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

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Postcards from Pripyat, Chernobyl

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to visit Chernobyl whilst working for CBS News on a '60 Minutes' episode which aired on Nov. 23, 2014. Bob Simon is the correspondent.…
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