FDA Declares Popular Alt-Medicine Kratom an Opioid

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: The Food and Drug Administration declared the popular herbal product kratom to be an opioid on Tuesday, opening a new front in its battle to get people to stop using it. New research shows kratom acts in the brain just as opioids do, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. And he said the agency has documented 44 cases in which kratom at least helped kill people -- often otherwise healthy young people. "Taken in total, the scientific evidence we've evaluated about kratom provides a clear picture of the biologic effect of this substance, " Gottlieb wrote. "Kratom should not be used to treat medical conditions, nor should it be used as an alternative to prescription opioids. There is no evidence to indicate that kratom is safe or effective for any medical use." The FDA released detailed accounts of several of the deaths. The victims often had mixed kratom with other substances, including chemicals taken out of inhalers and found in over-the-counter cold and flu drugs. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Chandelier containing living microalgae to "purify the air"

https://youtu.be/Lxd43iH-CX0 Artist, inventor, and bio-hacker Julian Melchiorri created "Exhale, the Bionic Chandelier," a hanging electric light that "purifies the air indoors through photosynthesis performed by living microalgae enclosed into leaf modules." Exhale is now part of the Victoria and Albert Museum's permanent collection. From the project page: Exhale is also the first living object which continuously grows while performing biologically-driven depurative functions. The light of the chandelier illuminate the space but also stimulates photosynthesis performed by tiny microalgae, this living microorganisms feed on carbon dioxide while releasing breathable oxygen into the room. This biological process performed by the chandelier establishes and explores a new symbiotic relationship between object and people where life-giving resources are constantly exchanged, and where each other waste enables respective metabolic processes. This exchange recalls how biospheric systems work, where waste ultimately doesn’t exists but is a valuable resource for other elements in that system. Bionic Chandelier (via The Kid Should See This )

Foxconn Unit To Cut Over 10,000 Jobs As Robotics Take Over

According to Nikkei Asian Review, "Foxconn's panel arm Innolux is planning to slash more than 10, 000 jobs this year as part of the company's aggressive efforts to increase the use of automation in manufacturing." Honorary Chairman Tuan Hsing-Chien said in a press conference on Tuesday: "We will reduce our total workforce to less than 50, 000 people by the end of this year, from some 60, 000 staff at the end of 2017." From the report: Innolux is a liquid crystal display-making affiliate of major iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn Technology Group. Tuan is also a technology adviser to Foxconn, Sharp and Innolux. Tuan said up to 75% of production will be fully automated by the end of 2018. Most of Innolux's factories are in Taiwan. Tuan's pledge came a few days after Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou said the company would pour in some $342 million to overhaul its manufacturing process by using artificial intelligence. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

US busts $530 million Infraud cybercrime ring

The US just took down one of the larger online crime organizations in recent memory -- certainly one of the largest prosecuted by the feds. Department of Justice officials have filed charges against 36 people allegedly involved with Infraud Organization (no really, that's the name), a global cybercrime ring with roots in the US as well as numerous other countries. Combined, the group is believed to have trafficked in stolen financial data (including up to 4 million cards), identities and contraband worth over $530 million in losses. And that's what they actually managed to accomplish. Reportedly, they hoped to inflict a total of $2.2 billion in damage. Law enforcement has only arrested 13 of the members so far, five of which are from the US and only one of which (Sergei Medvedev) is considered top brass. Ukraine resident Svyatoslav Bondarenko, who's believed to have founded Infraud back in 2010, isn't one of them. And while there are just five suspects still at large, the actual membership is considerably deeper with 10, 901 registered members as of March 2017. The Americans involved with Infraud have already appeared in court, and they could face more than 30 years in prison if they're found guilty. This is unlikely to dissuade other groups -- Infraud wasn't the first big cybercrime ring, and probably won't be the last. Nonetheless, the scale suggests this should put at least a temporary dent in digital fraud. Via: CNET Source: Department of Justice

Crucial iPhone source code posted in unprecedented leak

Critical, top secret Apple code for the iPhone's operating system was posted on Github, opening a new, dangerous avenue for hackers and jailbreakers to access the device, Motherboard reported. The code, known as "iBoot, " has since been pulled, but Apple may have confirmed it was the real deal when it issued a DMCA takedown to Github, as Twitter user @supersat noted . iBoot is the iOS code that ensures a secure boot by loading and checking that kernel is properly signed by Apple before running the OS. The version that was posted to Github, supposedly by a Twitter user named @q3hardcore, was for iOS 9, but much of it likely still exists in the latest version, iOS 11. Fun thing about the DMCA: it required Apple to state, under penalty of perjury, that the iBoot source code was legit: https://t.co/PKHZqcEe6h — Karl (@supersat) February 8, 2018 The code can't be compiled because certain files are missing, but researchers and hackers who know what to look for could probe it for vulnerabilities. "This is the biggest leak in history, " author and security researcher Jonathan Levin told Motherboard . "The leaked sources of iBoot ... bring us closer to a truly liberated iOS booted on generic arm boards and/or emulator, " he added on Twitter . Levin and other security researchers believe the code is the real deal. iPhones used to be relatively easy to jailbreak before Apple introduced the " secure enclave co-processor " with the TouchID of the iPhone 5s. Now, it's nearly impossible for hackers to even find bugs in iOS code, making iOS exploits relatively rare, unlike in Windows and Android. As such, the iBoot leak is exposing code that hardly anyone has seen before. The iBoot dump first appeared last year on Reddit, but received little notice from the security community until it hit Github. Apple considers iBoot to be such a critical part of iOS that it offers $200, 000 for vulnerabilities, the most in its bug bounty program. That means the release of the source code could amount to a gold rush for many researchers. Via: Motherboard Source: Github

NASA will test a key deep space navigation tool this year

The Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC) is finally ready for testing, and NASA's JPL has begun preparing it for launch this year after working on it for two decades. Current space vehicles and observatories already use atomic clocks for navigation -- they are, after all, some of the most accurate timekeeping devices ever. However, the way they work isn't ideal for use in vessels going beyond Low-Earth Orbit. See, the atomic clocks space agencies and companies use today need to be paired with ground-based antennas. The antenna sends signals to a spacecraft, and the vessel sends them back to Earth. Current clocks use the difference in time between sending and receiving a signal to calculate a space vehicle's location, path and velocity. It then relays commands to the spacecraft based on those calculations. While signals travel at the speed of light, that process can still take hours -- the farther the spacecraft is, the longer it has to wait for a signal. Deep Space Atomic Clock solves that issue by being onboard the spacecraft itself, which means it doesn't need to rely on two-way tracking. It can use the signal sent from Earth to calculate for its host's position and velocity without having to toss that signal back. That means vehicles can move and change course more quickly than current ones can, and they can focus on completing mission objectives rather than spend time readjusting antennas. In addition, DSAC will allow ground-based antennas to keep track of multiple satellites in one area -- say the Martian orbit -- since they don't need to wait for vehicles to respond. DSAC will launch this year attached to General Atomic's Orbital Test Bed spacecraft, which will blast off aboard the US Air Force Space Technology Program mission. It can head to space as a hosted payload , because it's about the size of a four-slice toaster, much smaller than current fridge-sized atomic clocks -- the agency could shrink it down even further for future missions. JPL's ultimate goal is achieving a .03 nanosecond accuracy, but it'll call the upcoming test a success if the prototype can maintain time accurately to within two nanoseconds. Source: NASA

Limited edition Bicycle Karnival Midnight deck of playing cards

This purple and black deck of cards is absolutely lovely. I like to tell myself that decks with lovely and unexpected art work distract people from mistakes as I'm performing sleight of hand. Mostly, I just like fancy decks of cards. Limited Edition Karnival Midnight Purple Deck Playing Cards by Bicycle via Amazon

Charter promises gigabit Internet to “virtually” all customers this year

Enlarge / Charter's gigabit service is available in these eight markets and will spread across the ISP's 41-state footprint this year. (credit: Charter ) Charter's cable network extends to about 50 million homes and businesses across the US, and nearly all of them should have the opportunity to buy gigabit-speed cable Internet by the end of 2018. So far, prices for the service range from $105 to $125. "By year-end, we'll offer gigabit services in virtually everywhere we serve at all 50 million passings," Charter CEO Tom Rutledge told investors in an earnings call Friday. The number of residential units among those 40 million locations is somewhere above 40 million. An earnings call transcript by Seeking Alpha is available here , and Rutledge's remarks were pointed out by news site Stop the Cap . Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Planets of TRAPPIST-1: Complex atmospheres, probably lots of water

Enlarge (credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser ) We've now developed a healthy-sized catalog of planets orbiting in the habitable zone of distant stars. But we don't have the slightest idea whether any of them are actually habitable. That's largely because, at these distances, it's extremely difficult to get any sense of what the planets are made of and what their atmospheres are like. And the greenhouse potential of the atmosphere can make the difference between a frozen world like Mars and an out-of-control hothouse like Venus. But at least in the case of one nearby star, scientists are slowly narrowing down the options. TRAPPIST-1 has at least seven planets , all small enough to be Earth-like, with several inside the star's habitable zone. In two papers released this week, teams of scientists have narrowed down what their atmospheres might look like and provided a greater sense of their composition. The results suggest that at least one planet has the potential to be a watery world. In the air The first study, which appears in Nature Astronomy , looks at the atmospheres of several of the planets, but not directly. Instead, it relies on the Hubble to observe the star's light as a planet passes in front of it. A tiny fraction of the photons will have passed through the planet's atmosphere on their way to Earth. Any colors of light that are absorbed or scattered by the gases in the atmosphere will be missing from that fraction, making it possible to infer the atmosphere's composition. Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

‘Game of Thrones’ showrunners will write a new ‘Star Wars’ series

If you were excited for Rian Johnson's upcoming trilogy of Star Wars films, there's even nerdier news incoming. Another film series in a galaxy far, far away has just been announced -- and they will be written and produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the showrunners of HBO's Game of Thrones . The only thing we know about the new series is that it will be from both the main Skywalker saga and Johnson's trilogy. Otherwise, nothing has been announced regarding their focus or release dates, though Weiss and Benioff noted they won't start work on the films until Game of Thrones ' final season wraps. But at least this suggests a broader Star Wars universe beyond the stories we grew up watching. "David and Dan are some of the best storytellers working today, " Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, said in a statement according to Variety . "Their command of complex characters, depth of story and richness of mythology will break new ground and boldly push Star Wars in ways I find incredibly exciting." "In the summer of 1977 we traveled to a galaxy far, far away, and we've been dreaming of it ever since, " Benioff and Weiss said in a joint statement. "We are honored by the opportunity, a little terrified by the responsibility, and so excited to get started as soon as the final season of Game of Thrones is complete." Source: Variety