Consequences of Breeding Lab Mice

We’ve used mice for drug studies for decades. It makes sense; we share 97.5% of DNA with them, making them almost ideal for studying everything from drug testing to determining what environmental factors can give us cancer.

But a new paper points out what may be a serious flaw in our process:

The problem with our lab mice is the following: our aim in studying these animals has been to test out as many chemicals and drugs on them before they die. Some of them die very soon, whereas others live to have more drugs tested on them. Over the decades, we have been playing the role of natural selection on these mice, continuing to test those who can withstand it, and discarding those who can’t. … What we now have in labs are a species of highly cancer-prone, bruise-resistant mice.

What this means for us that the list of things we’ve labelled “carcinogenic” may not need to be as long as it is. It is possible that it is only that long because we are doing animal testing on mice that are highly prone to cancer. On the other hand, we have reason to be more cautious of the chemicals that have passed animal testing. Our cells simply do not replicate as often as lab mouse cells, and as such they cannot repair tissue damage as effectively. This means that chemicals which cause these mice no harm may in fact be toxic to our own organs over time. We may be susceptible to damage from chemicals which these super-mice can handle without a problem.

A fascinating concept which may have serious consequences.

Source: University Observer Rats Out: Animal Testing may have Fatal Flaw

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Hacking Opposing Military Troops

Military tactics continue to advance in the 21st century as Russian hackers are effectively targeting NATO troop’s smart phones to “gain operational information, gauge troop strength, and intimidate soldiers.”

Imagine being able to track troop movements by hijacking geolocation information from opposing troops. Or being able to pull information from the phone and even replace it with false data. And perhaps most damaging of all, turn on the microphone during a briefing or high-level strategy meeting.

These are not just real dangers today, these strategies are actively being carried out on the front line. Click through to learn more.

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40TB in a 3.5″ Drive

Western Digital is harnessing the power of microwaves to create denser drives:

If you’re wondering what microwaves have to do with hard drives, WD has a developed a new type of drive head called a “spin torque oscillator” that generates a microwave field. That allows data to be written to magnetic media at a lower magnetic field than with conventional disks, making it possible to pack more bits into the same space.

“As a result, Western Digital’s MAMR technology is now ready for prime time, and provides a more cost-effective, more reliable solution,” the company said in a technical brief, adding that “MAMR also has the capability to extend areal density gains up to 4 Terabits per square inch.” As with its current enterprise drives, WD’s MAMR drives will use helium instead of air to reduce internal turbulence.

The first MAMR drives are scheduled to be available in 2019 with a 3.5″ 40TB drive by 2015.

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CCleaner Compromised

CCleaner has long been a trusted tool for cleaning up computers; it even made PCWorlds list of the 15 best free programs. But security firm Cisco Talos discovered that hackers had injected a malicious bit of code into the most recent update, potentially affecting the more than 2 million users who downloaded it. Thankfully, it appears that the company was able to get in front of this one:

According to Avast, the malware doesn’t seem to have affected any machines in the wild. In a blog post by vice president of products Paul Yung, he states that the company identified the attack on Sept. 12 and had taken the appropriate action even before Cisco Talos notified them of their discovery. Yung says the attack was limited to CCleaner and CCleaner Cloud on 32-bit Windows systems—fortunately, most modern PCs will likely be running the 64-bit version. 

Yung assures customers that the threat has been resolved and the “rogue server” has been taken down. He also says Piriform has shut down the hackers’ access to other servers. Additionally, the company is moving all users to the latest version of the software, which is already available on the company’s website (though the release notes only mention “minor big fixes.”)

Most reassuringly, Yung states that Avast was seemingly able to disarm the threat before it was able to do any harm. The intent of the attack is unclear at this time, though Avast says the code was able to collect information about the local system.

Still, anyone with CCleaner should take appropriate action:

The bug affects anyone who downloaded CCleaner version 5.33 or updated their version between August 15 and September 12. Talos is advising anyone who’s worried to roll back their systems to a time before August 15, or reinstall them. They will also need to update to the latest version of CCleaner 5.34.

Hat tip to CBS in Philidelphia.

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Old + New = Awesome

Anyone remember the Commodore 64? It was a the powerful successor to the popular Vic 20, came out in 1982, and was the best-selling single computer model of all time. It brought personal computing to millions of households.

And after 25 years of Moore’s Law, a fan married the old tech of his Commodore 64 with the new tech of a pair of virtual reality goggles and created something new: 8-bit VR. He even wrote his own adventure game, Street Defender.

While 8-bit VR is rather useless, the fact that Jim_64 did this is indeed awesome. See it here.

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Long Term Effect of Hormone Use (“The Pill”)

Just in my lifetime alone, I’ve seen a dramatic decrease in reliable, peer reviewed research and the rise of sensationalism and junk science. So when reading any story of scientific principles, one must consider the source and look for confirmation from additional authoritative channels.

The following is from a firmly conservative source but, given the content, one would not expect to see the concept to be shown in the academic sources that have succumbed to the PC culture that is oppressing civilized debate throughout the scientific community. As such, I present the material only as an introduction and caution the reader to be on the lookout for additional sources of this information.

The author introduces his topic by relating the research of an unnamed boss he’d had:

It seems that while doing his graduate work in the early 1960s, he had to do research on lab rats, which were given the synthetic hormones used in the then new birth control pills. The results, he told me, showed that the grandchildren of these lab rats would have high rates of homosexual behaviors. From what he told me, the findings were suppressed. Apparently, the powers that be wanted “the pill” to pass muster. What happened to the second generation of rats that followed was of no consequence to them.

Then my boss told me: The first generation of kids born to mothers using the pill have already arrived. But we should expect in another generation a noticeable increase in homosexual behavior, as they would be the second generation. As that was then still in the future, I was shocked.

This was told me in the mid ’80s. By his reckoning, we should have seen a societal explosion of homosexuality starting around 2000, and subsequently. And, of course, we have seen such an explosion. His prediction came true.

Now, to many classic conservatives – whether religious or merely social – homosexuality is a choice, something which can be learned and/or unlearned.  The problem is: There is a degree of evidence that it may be contrariwise in some individuals.

I don’t know that there has been an increase in the population identifying as homosexual or if that is perception based on what appears to be a growing societal dichotomy and the selective spotlights shown by our news and entertainment industries; the author offers no research to support the claim. But I find the concept of hormone treatments affecting not the subject, nor even the subject’s children, but the grandchildren absolutely fascinating. Given the dearth of research in this area, if there is a shred of truth to this article then we owe it to ourselves to investigate it thoroughly. For who knows what other medical treatments may have long term impacts or what those may be?


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Feds Snap to Danger Posed by Baby Monitors

Some federal legislators are finally realizing the danger of adding unsecured devices to a network. 

In October of 2016, a massive DDoS attack was launched against Dyn which affected a large number of websites including Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify, and Reddit. The source of the attack was a botnet called “Mirai” which was specifically designed to compromise Internet of Things (IoT) devices. You know, like your thermostat.

Designed to target the Internet of Things specifically, Mirai can scoop up connected devices and add them to a botnet simply by attempting to log into them with their factory-default username and password. Have you changed the password on your smart fridge lately? I thought not.

The Mirai code focuses on all kinds of smart devices including cameras to internet-connected fridges, but its bread and butter is DVRs. Of the nearly 500,000 devices known to be compromised by the Mirai malware, some 80 percent of them are DVRs, according to an in-depth investigation of by Level 3 communications.

It seems that this caught the attention of our government. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado’), Chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, is one of a bi-partisan group of senators who are sponsoring legislation to secure IoT devices, or at least those purchased by the government:

“The federal government orders billions of dollars worth of Internet of Things devices each and every year,” says Gardner. “These are things that can be hacked into. You can try to control systems, instruments with them. You can certainly read what people are doing and maybe even eavesdrop on a conversation people are having.”

As Chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, Gardner is sponsoring a bill that would require any internet-connected device purchased by the government meet basic security standards.

“Things like firewalling off information, requiring patchable and securable devices, making sure that you don’t have a hardcoded password from a factory that someone can have access to.”

He says many of the devices are imported and have little to no security making them highly vulnerable gateways into government systems that can be exploited by criminals and other countries.

It only took a year for our politicians to take notice of a massive hole in our national security. Now if they will only follow through.

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Over Two Thirds of the Universe May Not Exist

Ah, those tricky theoretical physics science guys. Seems like maybe someone pulled a fast one a long time ago:

According to the Lambda Cold Dark Matter (Lambda-CDM) model, which is the current accepted standard for how the universe began and evolved, the ordinary matter we encounter every day only makes up around five percent of the universe’s density, with dark matter comprising 27 percent, and the remaining 68 percent made up of dark energy, a so-far theoretical force driving the expansion of the universe. But a new study has questioned whether dark energy exists at all, citing computer simulations that found that by accounting for the changing structure of the cosmos, the gap in the theory, which dark energy was proposed to fill, vanishes.

What does this mean to us? Not a darn thing as long as the only dark matter that matters continues to exist: my morning coffee.

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Raw Power from Koenigsegg

Create a 5.0-liter twin-turbo V8 coupled with three YASA developed electric motors and eliminate the transmission entirely and you end up with an impressive 1500+ hp and 2000+ Nm of torque which means this marvelous machine can go from 0-100Km/h in 2.8 seconds and do a burnout at 160 MPH.

According to Koenigsegg

The three electric motors constitute the most powerful electrical motor set-up in production car history, replacing the gears of a normal transmission. This provides all-important weight savings as well as adding power, torque and torque vectoring capability.

Koenigsegg has developed a clutch-slip mechanism that uses the hydraulic coupling to convert torque at medium/high speeds during fast acceleration. This allows the combustion engine to gain revs and power, thereby giving the sensation of a traditional downshift with the associated aural enjoyment, even without the traditional gearbox.

Shift paddles remain on either side of the steering wheel. The left paddle is used to enhance regenerative braking effect in recharging the battery pack. The right paddle is used to activate the hydraulic coupling’s ‘downshift’ operation.

The hybrid can do 62 in 2.8 seconds, 125 in 6.6, and 186 in 10.9, beating the Bugatti Chiron by 3 seconds and making it the fastest production car made.

Now that’s progress.

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FCC Net Neutrality … Not

Investor’s Business Daily notes that the FCC started positioning for oversight of the Internet over a year ago under the guise of “net neutrality.” As any reasonable person knows, getting the Feds involved is rarely good for either freedom or business. Once again, this is proving true as the FCC is starting to assert its authority by putting new regulations into place:

For one thing, a new set of FCC rules would conflict with long-standing privacy rules set by the Federal Trade Commission. Data-hogging websites sites wouldn’t have to comply with the stricter FCC rules.

… The point is that anyone who thought the FCC had finished its work when it imposed “net neutrality” is sorely mistaken. The commission’s privacy rules will only be the first of many as regulators flex their newly acquired Internet muscles and as advocacy groups, well-connected businesses, or anyone looking to get a regulatory leg up on the competition will be pressuring the commission to add new rules, always wrapped in a “good for the consumer” package.

Further intrusion into the ISP world will only worsen the damage already being done by the FCC’s decision to treat the 21st century Internet like a 20th century telephone monopoly.

Who could have seen this coming? Uh…everybody.

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