An American who vanished nearly seven years ago in Iran was working for the CIA on an unapproved intelligence-gathering mission that, when it came to light inside the government, produced one of the most serious scandals in the recent history of the CIA — but all in secret, an Associated Press investigation found. The CIA paid Robert Levinson’s family $2.5 million to head off a revealing lawsuit. Three veteran analysts were forced out of the agency and seven others were disciplined. The U.S. publicly has described Levinson as a private citizen. “Robert Levinson went missing during a business trip to Kish Island, Iran,” the White House said last month. That was just a cover story. In an extraordinary breach of the most basic CIA rules, a team of analysts — with no authority to run spy operations — paid Levinson to gather intelligence from some of the world’s darkest corners. He vanished while investigating the Iranian regime for the U.S. government. (via Missing American in Iran was on unapproved mission)
A New Source of Revenue for Data Scientists: Selling Data
What kind of data is salable? How can data scientists independently make money by selling data that is automatically generated: raw data, research data (presented as customized reports), or predictions. In short, using an automated data generation / gathering or prediction system, working from home with no boss and no employee, and possibly no direct interactions with clients. An alternate career path that many of us would enjoy
Full Story: DataScienceCentral
Watson is a big part, but not the only thing that’s happening in cognitive computing.
Your body may use it to catch a tan, but now the skin pigment melanin has been repurposed for the first time to make batteries. These may one day offer a safer way to power electronic devices that can be swallowed or inserted into the human body for drug delivery or internal monitoring. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are widely used in electronics because they are very efficient and can hold their charge for long periods. But because they contain lithium, these batteries are potentially toxic if used long-term inside the body. So Christopher Bettinger at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, wanted to find a way to build batteries from biological materials. “If we could safely ingest devices, then we could overcome a lot of the issues we have with current implanted devices, such as infection and inflammation,” says Bettinger. “So we started with substances that are biologically derived and occur in the human body naturally, like sodium, water and melanin.” (via Skin pigment could power safe, implantable battery - tech - 09 December 2013 - New Scientist)
Tiny “tags” made of dye molecules stuffed into carbon nanotubes have been used to develop a high-resolution imaging technique based on Raman scattering. Created by researchers in Canada, the tags boost the weak Raman signal of molecules about one million times. The new approach could lead to improved medical diagnostics and treatments, and could even be used to fight counterfeiting. Raman spectroscopy involves shining a beam of light onto a solid or a liquid to identify its molecular composition. While most of the photons will scatter from the sample with no change of energy, a small number of photons will exchange a tiny amount of energy by causing molecules in the sample to vibrate. This is called Raman scattering, after the Indian physicist Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman who first observed it in liquids in 1928 and won the 1930 Nobel Prize for Physics for his discovery. (via Nanotubes give Raman spectroscopy a boost - physicsworld.com)
Google just announced a few new Google Play-edition tablets, but its own flagship device is also getting some attention today, in the form of a cosmetic refresh. The company has released a new white Nexus 7, which perfectly matches the already-available white Nexus 5.
Over the last few years, people who study and report on higher education have spent much time talking about the wave of revolution coming for colleges and universities. From MOOCs to student debt to reduced state funding, most people seem to agree that the structure of higher education is unsustainable.
That’s why it was surprising to hear University of Washington President Michael K. Young say that he doesn’t think the core structure of top-tier universities is likely to change in the next couple of decades.
"What goes on on the campus of one of the great public research universities in terms of teaching, in terms of student engagement—it’s going to be enhanced, it’s going to be different, it’s going to be better, but it’s not going away," he said in an interview with The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal at an event in Seattle last week.
The question they were discussing is whether universities will inevitably go through a period of “disaggregation,” or reduced enrollment and competition from the growing number of two-year degree programs, technical training schools, and for-profit education ventures.
Baidu - the Chinese search engine - has just published a report that shows the inevitable though decreasing progression of the Android operating system in the Middle Kingdom. Until now, it was particularly difficult to obtain reliable figures on the results of the Android operating system in China. Indeed, there is no “centralized app store” and most smartphones sold in the country do not use Google services, including activation. In fact, it is very difficult to know the actual results. The search engine Baidu has corrected this by publishing a report on trends in the mobile internet for the 3rd quarter 2013. It appears that there would be now 270 million active users of the Google platform in the country (more than 20% of the total population). Growth would, however, decrease with a small 13% against 55% for the same period last year but up 10% compared to Q2 2013. (via 270 million Android users in China)
The zombies are coming. A hacker has shown how easy it is to use one drone to hijack another, allowing someone else to take control of its flight. The SkyJack software written by programmer Samy Kamkar runs on an open-source Raspberry Pi computer that controls a drone that sniffs out the Wi-Fi control signals of other fliers when it gets close enough. It severs their wireless connection and establishes itself as the controller – allowing people to make other drones do their bidding. It effectively turns drones into “zombies”, says Kamkar, who has made the code freely available on the GitHub online repository. The simple tricks that Kamkar played to perform his drone heist will concern makers and users of the hobbyist-level drones that this works on. (via Drones turned into zombies using an easy Wi-Fi hack - tech - 09 December 2013 - New Scientist)
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