Last updated 23 May, 11:10 AM
BBC News - Home
Theresa May's Brexit bill delayed - The government says the publication of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill will not now take place until early June.
European elections 2019: Polls take place across the UK - UK voters will elect 73 Members of the European Parliament from 12 constituencies.
Tiger Who Came To Tea author Judith Kerr dies - Tributes flood in for the hugely popular children's author, who has died at the age of 95.
Colluding drug firms 'cost the NHS millions of pounds' - The competition regulator says that four drugs firms forced the price of an anti-nausea tablet up by 700%.
Ozone layer: Banned CFCs traced to China say scientists - Atmospheric observations pinpoint eastern China as the source of a rise in ozone-destroying chemicals.
GitLab looks for users to CI to eye: Come join us on the happy path - Source code, pipelines and boiling frogs Interview While many cloudy companies aim for four nines of uptime, it was four ones for GitLab today as the source shack celebrated the release of version 11.11 with a chat with The Register.…
Phisher folk reel in Computacenter security vetting mailbox packed with sensitive staff data - Haul included employee passports, driving licences, bank statements and more The third-party mailbox used by Computacenter employees and contractors to deposit data for security clearance applications has been hacked and used in phishing scams.…
Programmers' Question Time: Tiptoe through the tuples - Addressing the pro-horticulture/anti-nerdiculture bias Stob When the BBC announced a rejig at Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time, Stob hoped for a much more radical change of format than a mere replacement head composter.…
GitHub slurps open-source bug zapping automator Dependabot, chucks cash at devs - Matched funds for open source developers, plus new features for enterprise accounts GitHub has acquired Dependabot, a tool that helps developers avoid introducing security issues via bugs in open-source libraries.…
Minecraft's my Nirvana. I found it hard, it's hard to find. Oh well, whatever... Never Mined - What on Earth are you playing at, Microsoft? Column The future often arrives looking like an expensive toy. From the first microcomputer to the latest self-piloting drone, these "toys" hide a larger truth: they're the canvas upon which our imagination plays, as we dream up braver, bolder visions. We think physically, with our bodies, and our toys help us get our hands around what we think.…
New Scientist - News
Polarisation on social media could be reduced with a few simple tweaks - Once again elections are being battered and political views polarized by far-right propaganda flooding social media – could a simple tweak to online connections help win the information wars?
The average animal will be 10 per cent smaller in the next century - Destroying habitats, poaching wildlife and changing the climate will cause mammals and birds to experience “substantial ecological downsizing” over the next 100 years.
Deaths from strokes in England have halved in just a decade - The rate of people dying from stroke in England decreased by 55 per cent between 2001 and 2010, according to an analysis of 800,000 patients
Gut microbes may determine whether infants develop food allergies - Young immune systems may be particularly sensitive to food allergens in the absence of right gut bacteria, a study in mice suggests
Specially created animal 'cancer avatars' could personalise treatments - Flies, fish and mice are being developed into “cancer avatars” that carry the unique traits of a person’s cancer and help doctors choose which drugs to use
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Significantly Large New Emissions From Banned CFCs Traced To China, Say Scientists - Solandri writes: In 2014, scientists began detecting plumes of CFC-11 in the atmosphere. The compound had been banned in the 1987 Montreal Protocol after it was discovered that it was contributing to the destruction of the ozone layer that protects life on Earth from ultraviolet radiation. Unfortunately, the releases were detected using global monitoring equipment, so the origin could not be determined. Using data from measuring stations in Korea and Japan, and computer modeling of atmospheric patterns, researchers have now pinned down the source of the emissions to eastern China. They also determined that the emissions were too large to be releases from foam which had been produced before the ban (CFCs were a common aerosol and foaming agent). And that the amounts most likely indicate new illegal production. The paper is published in the latest issue of Nature. dryriver shares an excerpt from the BBC: CFC-11 was primarily used for home insulation but global production was due to be phased out in 2010 [to allow the Ozone layer to heal]. CFC-11 was the second most abundant CFCs and was initially seen to be declining as expected. However in 2018 a team of researchers monitoring the atmosphere found that the rate of decline had slowed by about 50% after 2012. That team reasoned that they were seeing new production of the gas, coming from East Asia. The authors of that paper argued that if the sources of new production weren't shut down, it could delay the healing of the ozone layer by a decade. Further detective work in China by the Environmental Investigation Agency in 2018 seemed to indicate that the country was indeed the source. They found that the illegal chemical was used in the majority of the polyurethane insulation produced by firms they contacted. One seller of CFC-11 estimated that 70% of China's domestic sales used the illegal gas. The reason was quite simple -- CFC-11 is better quality and much cheaper than the alternatives. This new paper seems to confirm beyond any reasonable doubt that some 40-60% of the increase in emissions is coming from provinces in north eastern China. The authors also say that these CFCs are also very potent greenhouse gases. One ton of CFC-11 is equivalent to around 5,000 tons of CO2. "If we look at these extra emissions that we've identified from eastern China, it equates to about 35 million tons of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere every year, that's equivalent to about 10% of UK emissions, or similar to the whole of London." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
How 'The Big Bang Theory' Normalized Nerd Culture - Last week, the last episode of the final season of "The Big Bang Theory" was broadcasted on CBS. Say what you will about the show, but one thing is clear: it was popular. While the average episode in Season 11 received over 18.6 million views, the season finale ended its run with an audience of 23.44 million viewers. The New Yorker's Neima Jahromi reflects on the show and how it "normalized nerd culture": On Thursday night, "The Big Bang Theory" closed out its run with an audience of eighteen million viewers. Despite all the cast changes, Sheldon remained emphatically misanthropic, self-centered, and alienated. In the end, the reason he became a kind of dweeby Fonz has to do with the structural tendencies of the oft-dismissed multi-camera sitcom. Such shows extract empathy in real time. With a live audience, silence is not an option: if a joke or a scene doesn't land, if real people aren't feeling it, then the writers storm the soundstage and change it. Alienated characters, who are the least likely to garner empathy, require extra attention from writers, and therefore often gravitate toward the center of a show. As a result, viewers come halfway, too. It's unlikely that a curmudgeonly Archie Bunker on "All in the Family" or an uptight Alex P. Keaton on "Family Ties" will remain detestable for long, even if their creators did set them up to be antagonists. Eventually, audiences saw that Sheldon was as befuddled by the world as they were uncomprehending of his intellectual pursuits. They also learned that he hated change as much as they did. In this way, an outmoded form of television cushioned the anxiety of the brave new tech culture for a generation. How do you feel about the ending of The Big Bang Theory? Read more of this story at Slashdot.
New Paper Confirms Near-Room-Temperature Superconductivity In Wild, Hydrogen-Rich Material - An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: A team of physicists has published peer-reviewed results documenting near-room-temperature superconductivity in the hydrogen-rich compound lanthanum hydride. The team, led by physicist Mikhail Eremets from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, kicked off the most recent race for a high-temperature superconducting hydride in 2015, when they published a paper announcing the discovery of superconductivity at -70 Celsius (-94 Fahrenheit). In this most recent paper, the researchers placed a piece of lanthanum into an insulating ring, then placed it into a box full of pressurized hydrogen gas. They clamped the gasket between a pair of diamonds, and continued squeezing the diamonds until they hit the desired pressures, nearly 2 million times the pressure on the surface of Earth. Then, they hit the sample with a laser to form the lanthanum hydride. Finally, they take measurements to confirm they really created the material and that it's really a superconductor. The researchers detail two measurements in the paper: In one, they measure the resistance drop to zero at the -23 Celsius or -9.67 Fahrenheit temperature. In another, they notice that this temperature decreases in the presence of a magnetic field -- a clue that they were actually measuring the sample rather than something being wrong with their experimental setup. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Huawei Executive Accused of Helping Steal Trade Secrets - CNEX Labs, a Silicon Valley startup backed by Microsoft and Dell, is accusing high-level Huawei executive Eric Xu of participating in a conspiracy to steal its trade secrets (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source), reports The Wall Street Journal. From a report: The Journal quotes a newly released hearing transcript that offers some details in a largely locked-down trial. According to its write-up, CNEX claims that Xu -- one of Huawei's rotating chairmen -- "directed a Huawei engineer to analyze Cnex's technical information." The engineer then allegedly posed as a potential CNEX customer to obtain details about its operations. CNEX also says that Xu was briefed on a plot to surreptitiously gather information from Xiamen University, which had obtained a computer memory board from CNEX. According to the Journal, Huawei lawyers admitted that Xu had been "in the chain of command that had requested" information about CNEX, but they denied that any trade secrets had been stolen. Huawei originally filed a lawsuit against CNEX co-founder Yiren "Ronnie" Huang in 2017, claiming Huang -- who left Huawei in 2013 -- had poached employees and used its patents to build CNEX's solid-state drive technology. CNEX counter-sued, claiming that Huawei had misappropriated its tech and was trying to gather even more information through the lawsuit. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Apple Agrees To Notify iPhone Users If iOS Updates Will Affect Performance, UK Watchdog Says - A UK watchdog group said on Wednesday that Apple has agreed to clearly notify consumers if future iOS software updates slow down or change the performance of an iPhone. CNBC reports: The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority investigated the issue after Apple said in early 2018 that it had deliberately slowed down processor speeds through a software update on some iPhones to extend battery life. Public pressure stemming from the revelation forced Apple to provide discounted $29 battery replacements that were cited by the company as one reason iPhone sales last holiday quarter were slower than expected. That program has ended. "To ensure compliance with consumer law Apple has formally agreed to improve the information it provides to people about the battery health of their phones and the impact performance management software may have on their phones," the U.K. government said on its website. The CMA said that Apple is legally required to tell consumers about the software and battery health, something the company was already doing through software on the iPhone as well as a letter on its website. Read more of this story at Slashdot.