A lot of Magma Is Lurking Under Taipei

There’s been plenty of volcanic news recently from places you’dn’t consider as having volcanoes. Like, say, Taiwan.

The Tatun Group group of approximately 20 andesitic volcanoes sits just 20 kilometers (about 13 kilometers) or so from Taipei. Above 6.7 million individuals live within 30 kilometer (18.5 kilometers) of the volcanic group, which final erupted around 650 advertising. Researchers from the Academia Sinica’s Institute of world Sciences found seismic evidence for magma about 20 kilometers under the Tatun Group, giving support to the idea that people should consider it potentially active.

The study in Nature Scientific Reports implies that the magma human body actually solitary lens of magma or perhaps a series of sills that may mean the full magmatic system (fluid magma and mush) could be because big as 350 cubic kilometers, based on just what portion regarding the system is molten. But even though this magma happens to be imaged seismically, it willn’t mean an eruption will happen soon. By some estimates, as low as 14 percent of it may be molten, well underneath the well below the limit of approximately 60 % needed before the viscosity for the magma will allow it to erupt.

Eruptions have actually occurred in Taiwan and regional officials established a monitoring system for the Tatun Group given its proximity to Taipei therefore the fact it is been active recently than previously thought. In what could be the understatement regarding the week, Lin Cheng-horng, a geologist from this research, states, “it might happen in a few years, a decade, or numerous years later, it should take a lot more research become better grasped.” Now, we don’t think Lin means an eruption is most likely within the next decade, but that the possibly exists. Maybe it’s hundreds of years before any such thing takes place within Tatun Group, but this research shows there is magma down there today.

Oh, that drone footage of exactly what some called a “submarine eruption” from the coast of Taiwan in 2015 ended up being much more likely steam or gasoline vents off the shore of Kueishantao Island.

India has only one potentially-active volcanoes, within the Andaman water on Barren Island. This remote area is uninhabited, but around 600 individuals live within 5 kilometers of the volcano that has erupted many times throughout the last few hundred years. That makes headlines about the most up-to-date eruption particularly odd, as individuals have called it something of a shock after several years of peaceful, that will be definitely not true.

The area has seen eight periods of eruption since 1991, the most up-to-date closing only one year ago. The current activity is ash emissions and lava moves from a little cone within the bigger volcanic crater, although past eruptions have produced impressive lava fountains. This eruption had been notable just because a research vessel been in the area. However, Barren Island does not pose a lot of a hazard to people and home if you don’t are a bit too near when it has its next eruption.

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Killing Kim Jong Nam With VX Nerve Agent Crossed a ‘Red Line’

Early last week, in an airport in Kuala Lumpur, two women approached Kim Jong Nam—estranged half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un—from behind. They swiped what the victim described to nearby customer service agents as a “wet cloth” across his face, and fled. Shortly after, he was dead.

Now, Malaysian authorities say they’ve identified the substance that took Jong Nam’s life: VX, a nerve agent that the United Nations classifies as a weapon of mass destruction. And while it’s not an entirely uncommon substance—or particularly difficult to produce—its apparent use marks a troubling break from international norms. And if officials manage to link it back to North Korea, it could have serious consequences.

Special VX

If you’re already familiar with VX agent, it’s likely because of seminal 90s action flick The Rock, in which a disgruntled Ed Harris brings over a dozen VX-laden warheads along with him to seize Alcatraz.

VX doesn’t work quite the way The Rock depicts it. Specifically, contact with it doesn’t cause human skin to bubble and sear. But it plays havoc with the human nervous system. Like other nerve agents, VX interferes with the signals that pass between your brain and your muscles. “If you have a nerve impulse that tells a muscle to contract, you have to turn off the impulse. Otherwise the muscle will stay contracted,” says Matthew Meselson, a geneticist at Harvard and member of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation national advisory board. “The one that primarily kills is a spasm of the diaphragm, so you can’t breathe. You die of asphyxiation.”

VX can work through skin contact or respiration, and while it’s part of a broader class of nerve agents that all accomplish roughly the same effect, experts consider it to be especially dangerous, even among banned substances. “It’s heavier than other nerve agents, so it settles on an environment and can be persistent on the ground. If it was used in larger quantities, it could make an area non-usable,” says Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security.

As the Kim Jong-nam incident showed, though, smaller quantities are also dangerous. “Even a tiny drop is lethal,” Inglesby says.

And while an antidote exists—atropine, which unlocks the muscles that VX causes to seize up—the nerve agent works so quickly that it’s no use unless there’s a hypodermic needle on scene.

So dangerous is the stuff, in fact, that all but a handful of countries agreed to destroy whatever stockpiles they had of VX as part of the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. One of the handful of holdouts: North Korea.

The Red Line

In 1995, Japan’s Aum Shinrikyo cult turned the nerve agent on a small number of its members, whom leaders believed to be police informants. On a larger scale, VX was one of the chemical weapons deployed in the Iran-Iraq war. The Kim Jong Nam case, though, would be the first VX assassination on record, and the first time chemical weapons were used to that end since a ricin pellet—fired from an umbrella gun—took Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov’s life in 1978.

“That this particular chemical weapon would be used in a political assassination in a third country is very alarming. It’s a red line,” says Ingelsby. “It should be considered a new threshold that’s been crossed in terms of unconventional weapons.”

Those norms matter. After decades without any nation deploying chemical weapons, Syria used sarin and chlorine gas. If a nation-state such as North Korea uses VX once, they or other actors may well do it again.

‘It should be considered a new threshold that’s been crossed in terms of unconventional weapons.’ Dr. Tom Inglesby, Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security

That’s all conditional for a reason. While North Korea maintains a VX stockpile, and Kim Jong Un may well have considered his half-brother a threat to his rule, there’s no direct link between the VX airport incident and the hermit kingdom. And there may well never be, at least from the weapon of choice.

“It’s not very hard to produce, so it’s doubtful that the specific use can be chemical-traced back to North Korea,” says Sigmund Gartner, director of the Penn State School of International Affairs. Any decent organic chemist can make the stuff.

Meselson also says that it may not have been VX at all; if it was, it’s remarkable that the two women survived the attack as well.

All of which underscores how critical the next several days of investigation will be. If it turns out to be a random or untraceable act, it may at least prove to be an isolated incident. Should a direct link to North Korea exist, the world will find itself in potentially dangerous, uncharted waters.

“The political reaction should be very strong internationally, once all the facts are in,” says Ingelsby. “Responsible countries around the world should make it very clear that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.”

Unfortunately, that’s the thing about red lines. Once you cross them, there’s no going back.

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Congress Could Make Self-Driving Cars Happen or Ruin Everything

Congress just stepped into the robocar game. Previously two times, a couple of senators started drafting legislation to advance autonomous automobiles, and the House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and customer Protection held a two-hour hearing exploring how regarding the tech may be implemented. For the elected officials, it’s a large, if tentative, step into the future of transportation.

Obviously, they’re just a little late. Little numbers of robocars currently wander the San Francisco Bay Area as well as other towns, and you’ll probably begin riding included in just a couple of years as Uber among others commercialize the technology. Everything is rushing before a regulatory structure ill-equipped to usher inside modification.

The nation’s patchwork of laws and regulations regulating this technology state nothing about how precisely it’s tested (and on occasion even defined), exactly how cars using it will run, as well as who should settle these questions. Congress can address these all of those questions and guarantee this technology succeeds.

Or they are able to screw all of it up.

“I’d keep clear of dramatic proposals that could produce more dilemmas than they solve,” says Bryant Walker Smith, a professional on autonomous automobiles at University of sc class of Law. Most likely, this evolving technology permeates many parts of society: public security, privacy, the surroundings, obligation and insurance coverage legislation, employment, urban preparation, and more. A legislation aimed at cutting congestion could tangle with tort law; a clause ensuring passenger privacy could eliminate financial benefits for automakers.

State legislators have already stepped in it. The folks behind California’s autonomous automobiles legislation couldn’t also define “autonomous car” without giving Uber a plausible argument for ignoring the rules. Michigan’s law favors founded automakers over newcomers like Bing and Uber. Nevada was able to write a law requiring anyone running an autonomous vehicles to improve its permit dish upon going into the state.

New Law for a Brand new Period

Automakers and technology organizations developing autonomous technology inhabit fear of states drafting their very own rules, making a patchwork of laws. That’s precisely what’s taking place, because although federal regulators dictate almost anything in regards to a car you are able to think about (brake lights should be red, turn alert icons are green, passenger vehicles have airbags), states regulators stipulate their procedure by establishing speed limits, traffic guidelines, an such like.

That’s why the GMs and Googles worldwide see federal intervention being a potential savior. Federal oversight provides a broad, constant framework for evaluation and deploying their robots. During Tuesday’s home subcommittee hearing, representatives of General Motors, Toyota, Volvo, and Lyft said they’re okay because of the voluntary 15-point list the federal Department of Transportation released last fall. (Among other items, the principles favor greater flexibility by federal regulators and present automakers wide latitude in the way they prove the security of the technology.) The guidelines alert states against creating extra laws, and don’t plunge too profoundly into stipulating what kind of technology every person uses—Tesla’s opposition to LIDAR is OK, as is Ford’s lack of curiosity about vehicle-to-infrastructure technology and GM’s commitment to deploying ride-sharing robocars with Lyft.

The absolutely wishes the feds to step it. “Do you agree that Federal automobile protection criteria have to be updated to be able to support the deployment of automated automobiles?” Representative Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, expected industry witnesses. 1 by 1, they took place the line: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Of course, they aren’t the only real stakeholders. Any major legislation should think about the issues of independent researchers, privacy and consumer advocates, transport specialists, driver unions, as well as others. Further complicating things, the technology can be so brand new that nobody agrees how a finished product works, as well as how exactly to figure out whenever a robocar is ready for primetime.

“We neither know what test autonomous cars must have to just take nor exactly what should constitute a moving grade,” testified Nidhi Kalra, co-director and senior information scientist within RAND Center for choice generating Under Uncertainty.

Nips & Tucks

If Congress does not have the need to study the matter very carefully and tackle it by having a comprehensive law, it could go at things piecemeal and still nudge automation along. It might begin by revising the Federal automobile protection Standards to reflect autonomous technology. Including, the rules require things like foot-activated brake system. The National Highway Transportation protection management can amend the regulations, but it calls for a few rounds of draft guidelines and public comments. That takes years. Congress will make the same change quickly with a law, or even a clause tucked into, state, an infrastructure omnibus.

It could also tweak Title 49 associated with US legal rule, allowing the assistant of transport to exempt automobiles from federal standards—to a point. What the law states (especially area 30113(d) and 30113(e)) limits those cars to 2,500 per maker in a 12-month duration, and exemption can’t last a lot more than 3 years. Federal regulators are very happy to let Bing produce a car with no controls or brakes, but without congressional assistance, that goodwill can simply go up to now.

Congress additionally could provide regulators the best to accept these automobiles before they go on sale. The nationwide Highway Traffic Safety Administration springs into action whenever cars already traveling prove on their own unsafe. If the DOT published its AV instructions this past year, it suggested Congress treat self-driving vehicles like aircraft, drugs, and medical devices—unsafe and un-OK until evidence states otherwise. You could argue that’ll slow things down, but ensuring these vehicles are safe before they hit the street could avoid crashes that might set the entire industry right back.

That one’s an extended shot, because a hates the concept (you’ll stifle innovation!) and today’s Republican-dominated federal government barely lusts after more regulation. “It does not look like there’s lots of passion for that,” states Smith, the legal expert. “And the agency would require more resources.” Don’t expect Congress to unlock more money, either.

Whatever Congress decides, it must chart a careful course. The age of the robocar is nigh, plus the change will stir up some scary seas.

Aarian Marshall contributed reporting.

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How To Stop Your Smart TV From Spying on You

This week, Vizio, making popular, top-quality, affordable TV sets, consented to spend a $2.2 million fine on FTC. Because it turns out, those same TVs were additionally busily tracking just what their owners were viewing, and shuttling that information back to the company’s servers, where it might be offered to eager advertisers.

That’s just as gross as it appears, but Vizio’s offense ended up being certainly one of level, perhaps not of kind. While other smart television platforms don’t sell your viewing data during the IP level to your greatest bidder without permission, like Vizio did, numerous do monitor your habits on at the very least some level. And also the businesses which have shifted from ACR—like LG with regards to embraced webOS—have older models that liberally snoop.

But good news! There are methods to help keep your smart TV through the prying eyes associated with company that caused it to be. In fact, there’s one absurdly simple way that will benefit any tv you should buy. Let’s begin here.

Dumb It Down

The single most foolproof method to keep an internet-connected television from giving data to far-flung advertisement tech servers world wide? Disconnect it from the web. And honestly, you need to be doing that anyway.

Think about what you’re actually getting from “smart” section of your high-tech television. A shoddy interface? Voice commands that work half enough time, if you’re lucky? Several bonus advertisements popping up in unforeseen places? No many thanks! head to Settings, get the Wi-Fi On/Off toggle, and shut it straight down.

That does not mean you need to live a Netflix-free life. However you should very much opt for a streaming package or dongle for your televised internet passions. They’re more user-friendly, frequently more feature-packed, even though some still monitor your watching habits pretty aggressively—looking at you, Roku—they at least offer you a little more control, or at the minimum act the way in which you’d expect them to. Apple television, as an example, hardly songs you anyway, since is in keeping with Apple’s stance on privacy generally speaking. Chromecast and Android os television are both Google items, which, well, let’s simply say they’re subject to similar privacy agreement you sign away for several of one’s Google requirements.

Usually the one arguable exclusion here? TV sets which have absorbed traditional streaming package platforms, like Roku TVs from TCL and Hisense, or Sony’s Android os TV models. On these the experience—including the privacy strengths and weaknesses—are practically the same as just what you’d get out of a different set-top package anyway.

In the event that you insist on keeping your smart television connected to the big bad internet regardless, here’s a quick primer on the best way to limit what it tracks by brand.

Vizio

The good thing about the Vizio settlement, if you get one regarding the 11 million data-collecting sets they offered over the last several years, is that the company needs to delete most of the data it built-up prior to March 1, 2016. Vizio also states that the environment is disabled on every one of its TVs utilizing the Vizio Internet Apps platform, but just in case, here’s how exactly to cut it off your self.

From your TV’s Menu option, visit System. choose Reset & Admin, choose Smart Interactivity, and hit the best arrow to toggle over to Off.

Newer Vizio sets use SmartCast, which is basically a built-in Chromecast, meaning they’re not afflicted with ACR. Google will still gather some data though..

LG

The good thing, according to Consumer Reports, is that LG’s present type of webOS sets does not automatically gather important computer data. The bad news is that LG’s older sets, well, do.

When you yourself have those types of real time Plus models, visit Options, then Live Plus, and switch it off.

Samsung

Samsung does require your consent to track your viewing behavior when you change it in, so hopefully you declined at the time if that pests you. If instead, in your haste to setup your shiny new big screen prior to the Castle show finale, you opted in, it’s nevertheless maybe not far too late available.

Check out the Smart Hub menu, then to Terms & Policy. ChoooseSyncPlus and advertising, and disable it. While you’re within, you may also wish to deactivate Voice Recognition Services; in 2015 Samsung TVs were found to be hearing literally everything within earshot. The company has since amended its sound recognition to concentrate only when spoken to particularly, but, you realize, still.

Sony

The majority of high-end Sony TVs today use Android television, meaning you are at the mercy of Google’s data-collection methods. Sony it self can also gather data through audio recognition, however the company provides a clear-eyed privacy conditions and terms display screen when you put it to use, plus it’s very easy to decide down then.

That should about do it! It’s crucial that you understand that virtually any unit that’s linked to the net will likely track you one way or another or any other. But having even a little control over who and how matters. How many episodes of The Bachelor you’ve watched this season is nobody’s business, particularly no advertiser’s.

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Moment’s Snap-on iPhone Lenses Get Their Own Battery Case

Until phones last a week per charge, everyone’s in the market for a battery case. Most of them have a problem: Once you slap a battery pack on your smartphone, there’s no room for fancy lens attachments. Most bulky, pro-minded lens cases don’t have built-in batteries, so you’re stuck with a decision between more juice or more photographic firepower.

Well, you were stuck with that decision, because Moment’s new case pulls double duty. It’s a high-capacity battery case, and it’s built to accept the company’s excellent lens attachments. The thing’s even got a physical shutter button on it—one that uses the Lightning connector, making it much faster than the older Moment case’s Bluetooth button. You also get DSLR-type actions with the button when you take photos within Moment’s app: A half press resets focus and exposure, a full press snaps a photo, and a press-and-hold action fires a burst.

Moment’s Battery Photo Case is roughly the same size as Mophie’s very popular Juice Pack, but it actually outdoes Mophie in terms of capacity. The iPhone 7 version of the case more than doubles the phone’s battery life, thanks to a 2,500mAh cell stuffed inside of it. The iPhone 7 Plus case goes even further, with a 3,500mAh battery to sip from. There’s no physical charge switch on the case as there is on Mophie’s stuff; you choose when you want to recharge via the Moment app.

MomentlensTA3.jpgMoment

This is also Moment’s first case that’s made to work with both lenses on the iPhone 7 Plus, albeit not at the same time. There’s two mounting slots on the case that match up with that phone’s dual-lens setup, so you can use the company’s macro, fisheye, wide-angle, and telephoto lenses with either one.

We usually don’t get down with Kickstarters (they’re unpredictable in terms of quality, and they often don’t even ship), but Moment has a solid track record. The Battery Photo Case will set you back $100 if it reaches its $500,000 goal on Kickstarter. They’ll hit that number number quickly; Moment has a strong following among mobile photography enthusiasts.

Also on offer is a new Photo case—a basic protective case with a mount for Moment lenses—and a redesigned wide-angle lens that works better with the iPhone 7, but also fits Moment mounts for Pixel, Galaxy phones, and older iPhones.

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