Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for February 21st, 2017

NASA Scientist Revive 10,000-Year-Old Microorganisms

Posted by kenmay on February - 21 - 2017

“Scientists have extracted long-dormant microbes from inside the famous giant crystals of the Naica mountain caves in Mexico — and revived them, ” reports the BBC. An anonymous reader writes: “The organisms were likely to have been encased in the striking shafts of gypsum at least 10, 000 years ago, and possibly up to 50, 000 years ago, ” according to the BBC, which calls the strange lifeforms “another demonstration of the ability of life to adapt and cope in the most hostile of environments.” With no light, extremophile species must “chemosynthesise, ” deriving all their energy by extracting minerals from rocks. These ancient microbes “are not very closely related to anything in the known genetic databases, ” according to the new director of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, who helped conduct the research, and believes that the microbes could help suggest what life might look like on other planets. The BBC adds that many other scientists “suspect that if life does exist elsewhere in the Solar System, it is most likely to be underground, chemosynthesising like the microbes of Naica.” Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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DNA ‘computers’ could lead to self-activated smart pills

Posted by kenmay on February - 21 - 2017

Imagine a pill that knew if you were ill enough to need drugs, and wouldn’t release chemicals if it thought you didn’t need it. That’s the breakthrough that’s been made at Eindhoven University in the Netherlands by a team of researchers ld by Maarten Merkx. The team has harnessed the power of DNA itself to form an organic computer that performs crude calculations on the state of your health. When you get ill, or suffer from a chronic condition, doctors normally prescribe drugs to help you get better, but this is based on a set of generic guidelines. The idea is that a smart pill will be able to offer specific doses, tailored to your needs, reducing the risk of side effects and waste. The computation comes in the form of the DNA, which looks for molecules that it can react with as a form of data-gathering. Put simply, the pill will journey inside your body and sniff the local environment to decide if you need more medicine. Of course, like so many things at the bleeding edge of technology, it’s still early days for this form of treatment, but the potential is exciting. Source: TUE , Nature

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Enlarge (credit: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ) Researchers have uncovered an advanced malware-based operation that siphoned more than 600 gigabytes from about 70 targets in a broad range of industries, including critical infrastructure, news media, and scientific research. The operation uses malware to capture audio recordings of conversations, screen shots, documents, and passwords, according to a blog post published last week by security firm CyberX. Targets are initially infected using malicious Microsoft Word documents sent in phishing e-mails. Once compromised, infected machines upload the pilfered audio and data to Dropbox, where it’s retrieved by the attackers. The researchers have dubbed the campaign Operation BugDrop because of its use of PC microphones to bug targets and send the audio and other data to Dropbox. “Operation BugDrop is a well-organized operation that employs sophisticated malware and appears to be backed by an organization with substantial resources,” the CyberX researchers wrote. “In particular, the operation requires a massive back-end infrastructure to store, decrypt, and analyze several GB per day of unstructured data that is being captured from its targets. A large team of human analysts is also required to manually sort through captured data and process it manually and/or with Big Data-like analytics.” Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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