Protecting Your Computer Part 1 Common Sense

first_img Explore further by Philip DunnBelieve it or not, the most important defense for your computer is not an anti-virus program or a firewall, but your own brain. The way you use your computer determines how secure it is. Citation: Protecting Your Computer: Part 1 – Common Sense (2006, January 9) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2006-01-common.html As a matter of fact, lie on just about every web page that asks you for personal information. If they ask for an email account to verify, use your throw-away web mail account, not your principal account. Do the same when registering software.Pornography is the single largest user of bandwidth on the Internet. Despite protests to the contrary, almost everyone looks at porn on the Internet. This is where people make their biggest mistakes. They can quickly end up with a virus ridden computer, get hundreds of nude pics every day in their email and have XXX pages popping up whenever they go online.If you must look, do so safely. Set your browsers security level to high and do not allow pop-up windows. When asked if you wish to run ActiveX controls, click no.Never, under any circumstances, download and install software from these sites no matter how enticing it may seem. These programs will take over your computer and your anti-virus program will not detect them. Always click no when offered the option to download any software from these sites.Sometimes these porn sites will ask you if you would like to make them your home page. Don’t do it unless you enjoy your boss/significant other/children seeing what you’ve been up to.Never give your email address to a porn site.File sharing is completely legal as long as you only share legal content. However, it’s often impossible to tell weather it’s legal or not. Best bet; don’t do it. Many file sharing programs come with loads of spyware – more on spyware later. Besides that, they can allow other users to see important files on your hard drive.File sharing has been used to pass viruses, illegally copied music, pirated software and even child porn. Be extremely careful with what you download. Popular and relatively safe file sharing programs include Shareza, Limewire and EMule.Spyware is software you inadvertently install when installing some other program. Spyware reports your online activities to a third party when you are connected to the Internet. Avoid spyware by paying careful attention when installing software and avoiding pirated programs and “free” utilities. Always look the program up on Google first before installing. If it has spyware, somebody has detected it.Don’t let other people use your computer or supervise their activity. They may not have read this article or decide to install “cool screen savers” or other virus ridden programs.Be wary of using your credit card online. One good strategy is to have a credit card with a low limit just for online purchases. Never type your credit card number into a web page that is not secure – in should show a small lock in the bottom right side of your browser. Don’t keep credit card numbers on your computer, either.Flow these simple tips and remember: nothing is for free, if it sounds too good to be true, it is and will probably end up infecting your computer.[Protecting Your Computer: Part 2 – Firewalls]Copyright 2005 PhysOrg.com Apple removing or restricting apps for controlling screen time Web browsing on the Internet and email can be a dangerous, but thinking before you click can save you a world of hurt. Here are some tips to help you keep the hackers at bay.Do not give out your principal email to everyone. Get a free web mail address for times when you need to give an email to access pages or open accounts. I recommend having three different email addresses. Use one for family members only. Never give out this address to anyone and tell family members to do likewise. Use another email for important mail, Paypal, work related stuff and good friends. Again, give out this address with caution. Avoid forwarding jokes, trivia and other junk mail to your friends. Tell them not to send junk to you, as well. Set up a third account to type into web pages to read articles, get information from vendors and to receive junk mail. Use this account to forward witty jokes, questionable photos and mass mailings. This account can be cancelled when it gets overloaded with Spam or unwanted mail.Why is all this necessary, you might well ask? Because your email is like your street address, but much more accessible. Once your email address makes it into a hacker’s computer, he can attack your account at will, sending you all kinds of dangerous virus-ridden mail and annoying ads for things like Viagra and porn. Your only permanent escape from this, despite spam filters, is closing the account.Web mail accounts have another advantage in that the mail stays on a remote server. It does not require downloading – you read it online. Good web mail providers scan all email giving you an added layer of protection. You can also read web mail from any computer making it handy when traveling.Popular and reliable free web mail hosts are Google (Gmail) and Yahoo!(Yahoo! Mail). If you like a good, quick free web email account with no frills, try Fastmail (www.fastmail.fm). When signing up for these accounts, they will invariably ask you all kinds of questions. Be smart and lie – yes, you heard me: Lie. Use any information but your own. Why? Because they often sell this information to 3rd parties who then bombard you with junk mail, phone calls and Spam. If you cannot tell a lie, stick to regular email accounts. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

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Android Security Alert Trojan GGTracker subscribes users to premium SMS services

first_img © 2010 PhysOrg.com (PhysOrg.com) — Lookout Security Firm as identified a new android Trojan named GGTracker that is downloaded to a user’s phone after visiting a malicious webpage that imitates the Android Market. The Trojan then proceeds to sign up the user to premium SMS services without their knowledge. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Lookout Security Firm has identified a new Android Trojan called GGTracker that installs premium SMS services to a user’s phone without their knowledge. The Trojan targets only U.S. Smartphone users when they click on a malicious in-app advertisement. The website lures users to click-through to download and install an application one of which is a fake battery optimizer called “t4t.pwower.management”, and another is a porn app called “com.space.sexypic”. After the application has been installed, GGTracker registers the user for premium subscription services. The Trojan carries out this task by contacting another server in the background where the malicious behavior intercepts crucial confirmation data to charge users without their consent or knowledge.Lookout advises that users can protect themselves from malicious webpage’s by taking a few precautions:• After clicking on an advertisement, make sure the page and URL matches the website the advertisement claims it’s sending you to.• Download apps only from trusted sources. Also look at the developer’s name, reviews, and star ratings. If you are suppose to be on the Android Market, check the URL to make sure you are on the Market and not redirected to another site.• Always monitor your phone for any unusual behavior like unusual SMS messages, strange charges on your phone bill or unusual network activity. Check all apps running in the background and investigate any that you think should not be running.• Don’t download any third party apps by making sure “unknown sources” is not check off in “application settings” in your android system.• Download a mobile security app for your phone that scans every app you download to ensure its safe. More information: via Lookout Blog Explore further Android Trojan dubbed ‘Geinimi’ found in legitimate applications Citation: Android Security Alert: Trojan GGTracker subscribes users to premium SMS services (2011, June 21) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2011-06-android-trojan-ggtracker-subscribes-users.htmllast_img read more

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Intel introduces first batch of Ivy Bridge processors

first_img More information: Press release (Phys.org) — Intel officially launched its 22-nanometer Ivy Bridge family of processors on Monday — well, sort of. A sea of news headlines using the words rollout and release can be measured with the fact that Intel has not yet issued the entire range of Ivy Bridge processors, but just the first wave. Intel roadmap leaked for SoC with Ivy Bridge graphics Intel watchers generally see Ivy Bridge as a notable development in silicon transistor design. Industry eyes, meantime, are also on the dual-core processors for ultrathin books and other designs that Intel will officially launch in months to come. While tablets like Apple’s iPad are attractive to many consumers, there is a contingent of business and professional knowledge workers who still prefer maintaining laptops and PCs for documentation and file-sharing. The trend looks more like full-performance lightweight laptops along with tablets rather than one form replacing the other. Analysts expect Intel’s Ivy Bridge to have an impact on a revived notebook market. Intel Capital created a $300 million fund to support the “ultrabook” concept. According to EE Times, Intel defined the ultrabook category including a range of systems specifications on startup time, thickness, security features and other requirements.The principal talking point outside Intel on Monday was on Ivy Bridge graphics. Its integrated graphics processing unit is expected to make editing videos faster and game play sharper. Observers see Ivy Bridge as proof that Intel gets the importance of seeing to it that graphics becomes a key area of improvement for its line of processors. What is officially off the assembly lines and available this month are its quad-core third-generation core processors destined for desktop and some other types of PCs. According to Intel’s wording, they are available now in “powerful, high-end desktop, laptop and sleek all-in-one (AIO) designs.” While the full range is not yet available, the Monday announcement by Intel about Ivy Bridge, which is the newest chip technology from Intel, is considered as important news. Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors are the first to use its 22 nanometer (nm) tri-gate technology. With Ivy Bridge, Intel moves closer to the holy grail of “more muscles, less power,” said a blogger on seattlepi.com. Intel said the third-generation core chips operate with 50 percent less energy than Sandy Bridge. “This is the world’s first 22 nanometer product and we’ll be delivering about 20 percent more processor performance using 20 percent less average power,” Kirk Skaugen, an Intel vice president, told the BBC. Ivy Bridge supports 4K resolution-and observers see the chips as a challenge to AMD’s lead in graphics performance.According to Intel, the time line for Sandy Bridge availability is as follows: Systems based on quad-core processor products will be available beginning this month from system makers and resellers. “Additional versions” for servers, Ultrabook devices and other designs will be available “later this year.” 3nd Gen Intel Core Processor Wafercenter_img © 2012 Phys.Org This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further Citation: Intel introduces first batch of Ivy Bridge processors (2012, April 24) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-04-intel-batch-ivy-bridge-processors.html 3rd Generation Intel Core i7 Processor for Desktoplast_img read more

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Chip and pin terminals shown to harvest customer info

first_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. For criminals, lifting info would be all in a day’s work, enjoying a daily catch of many cardholder details. MWR performed a test to show how this can work. Criminals can load their fake cards with malicious software. The card can be made to look like any credit or debit card. A criminal could use it in any retail shop or eating establishment. Using second-hand terminals that they purchased on eBay, MWR accessed the computer code on which the terminals run. They used this code to program a fake chip and PIN card, loading the chip with malicious software that is capable of reprogramming the reader. Once used in shops, the fakes – made to look like a normal credit or debit card – infect the card readers. Once the malicious card transfers its software to the reader, it begins storing details of all subsequent cards inserted. The criminal can then return later and use a second card to download this data, which by then has all the card details and PINs.The team purchased three point-of-sale terminals on eBay, one of which is a popular model that comes with a touchscreen and a feature for capturing cardholder signatures. The other two have a port for inserting chip-and-PIN cards, as well as a mag stripe reader.As a result of this feat, thousands of terminals need reprogramming, according to reports. VeriFone, which makes most of the UK’s terminals, confirmed that MWR was on to something and the terminal maker said it is working on an “expedited” update after learning of the hacking vulnerability.”We have confirmed that MWR implemented a sophisticated scenario that is technically feasible on some older systems,” said the company.”VeriFone has developed a software update to resolve this issue in deployed systems and has already submitted the code for testing and approval on an expedited basis.” The company said it will provide the software update “to all impacted parries” to implement.Security watchers see the significance in the fact that the chip could be loaded with malicious software capable of reprogramming the reader, leaving the system open to data theft.Law enforcement agents have discovered that account numbers and PINs are being sold in bulk on carding websites, as the Internet has become an easy conduit to leverage stolen credit card, bank account, and other personal identification information of victims globally.At the recent Black Hat 2012 meeting, MWR InfoSecurity also demonstrated how to attack point of sale terminals that use a microchip and PIN identification system with a specially prepared chip-based credit card. The security company first showed how a bogus chip credit card could be used to pay for an item and obtain a receipt for a valid transaction without the payment ever being processed. The second display from MWR was the terminal reader demo, showing how a card with malware can harvest all the card numbers and PINs from previous users of the terminal. © 2012 Phys.org Cambridge researchers show Chip and PIN system vulnerable to fraud Citation: Chip and pin terminals shown to harvest customer info (2012, July 31) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-07-chip-pin-terminals-shown-harvest.htmlcenter_img More information: www.channel4.com/news/credit-c … e-hacked-for-details Explore further (Phys.org) — For all customers, merchants and restaurant owners making use of card readers for transactions, well, this is not the best of news. Experts have found a security flaw in chip and PIN terminals that allows thieves to download customers’ card details. According to a UK-based security firm, MWR InfoSecurity, hackers can steal details from chip and PIN machines. MWR was able to prove how easily it can be done. According to a report on Sunday, thousands of credit and debit card readers, such as those sitting in shops and restaurants, will need to be reprogrammed following revelations that they can be hacked into and used to steal cardholders’ details.last_img read more

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Researchers find intestinal bacteria create phages for use as weapons

first_img Gut microbes battle a common set of viruses shared by global populations This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Phages, short for bacteriophages, are viruses created by bacteria that target and destroy other bacteria. They are of great interest to scientists because if they could be controlled, they could provide perhaps the ultimate anti-bacterial agent. Unfortunately, despite a lot of research since their discovery nearly century ago, very little is known about how they function, particularly, in the human gut. In this new research, the team discovered something that had never been seen before, a strain of bacteria that create a phage for the express purpose of killing off other bacteria that are competing for the same resources.The gut, as most know, is home to trillions of bacteria; some provide benefits to the host, such as helping to digest certain foods, while others are not so good, causing digestive problems. One in particular, the plentiful Enterococcus faecalis, appears to live without creating problems in the gut, but causes a lot of problems when it gets in the bloodstream, accounting for many hospital acquired infections. In looking at a particular strain of E. faecalis known as V583, the researchers found that when it was introduced alone into a germ-free mouse gut, it began churning out phages, which seemed counter-productive as it takes a lot of energy to do so.In looking closer, the team discovered that V583 did have a purpose, and that was to kill any other strains of E. faecalis that might show up, gobbling resources. Thus, the gut bacteria were creating phages to use as a weapon against closely related bacteria that might consume shared resources. The researchers call it a form of bacterial warfare, but also suggest that the discovery might offer some insight into how bacteria in general might be used to create phages in ways that can be controlled, allowing for the development of targeted anti-bacterial agents that kill offending bacteria without harming those that are beneficial. Explore further Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Enterococcus faecalis. Credit: United States Department of Agriculturecenter_img Citation: Researchers find intestinal bacteria create phages for use as weapons (2012, October 9) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-10-intestinal-bacteria-phages-weapons.html © 2012 Phys.org (Phys.org)—Researchers at the University of Texas have found that a certain type of bacteria that lives in the mammalian gut creates a virus to kill off competitors. In their paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team says their discovery came about purely by accident. More information: A composite bacteriophage alters colonization by an intestinal commensal bacterium, PNAS, Published online before print October 8, 2012, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1206136109AbstractThe mammalian intestine is home to a dense community of bacteria and its associated bacteriophage (phage). Virtually nothing is known about how phages impact the establishment and maintenance of resident bacterial communities in the intestine. Here, we examine the phages harbored by Enterococcus faecalis, a commensal of the human intestine. We show that E. faecalis strain V583 produces a composite phage (ϕV1/7) derived from two distinct chromosomally encoded prophage elements. One prophage, prophage 1 (ϕV1), encodes the structural genes necessary for phage particle production. Another prophage, prophage 7 (ϕV7), is required for phage infection of susceptible host bacteria. Production of ϕV1/7 is controlled, in part, by nutrient availability, because ϕV1/7 particle numbers are elevated by free amino acids in culture and during growth in the mouse intestine. ϕV1/7 confers an advantage to E. faecalis V583 during competition with other E. faecalis strains in vitro and in vivo. Thus, we propose that E. faecalis V583 uses phage particles to establish and maintain dominance of its intestinal niche in the presence of closely related competing strains. Our findings indicate that bacteriophages can impact the dynamics of bacterial colonization in the mammalian intestinal ecosystem.last_img read more

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Researchers flip riboswitch to kill bacteria

first_img © 2015 Phys.org (Phys.org)—A team of researchers working for pharmaceutical company Merck has found an instance of a molecule that is able to flip a switch in a bacterium that prevents it from synthesizing a needed nutrient, and thus kills it. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the team describes the exhaustive study they undertook to find the molecule and the possibility of it one day being used to treat bacterial infections. Thomas Hermann, of the University of California offers a News & Views piece on the work done by the team in the same journal issue. Explore further Using phages to deliver CRISPR to resistant bacteria found to sensitize the microbes More information: Selective small-molecule inhibition of an RNA structural element, Nature (2015) DOI: 10.1038/nature15542AbstractRiboswitches are non-coding RNA structures located in messenger RNAs that bind endogenous ligands, such as a specific metabolite or ion, to regulate gene expression. As such, riboswitches serve as a novel, yet largely unexploited, class of emerging drug targets. Demonstrating this potential, however, has proven difficult and is restricted to structurally similar antimetabolites and semi-synthetic analogues of their cognate ligand, thus greatly restricting the chemical space and selectivity sought for such inhibitors. Here we report the discovery and characterization of ribocil, a highly selective chemical modulator of bacterial riboflavin riboswitches, which was identified in a phenotypic screen and acts as a structurally distinct synthetic mimic of the natural ligand, flavin mononucleotide, to repress riboswitch-mediated ribB gene expression and inhibit bacterial cell growth. Our findings indicate that non-coding RNA structural elements may be more broadly targeted by synthetic small molecules than previously expected. Citation: Researchers flip riboswitch to kill bacteria (2015, October 1) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-10-flip-riboswitch-bacteria.htmlcenter_img In order to find new antibiotic drugs, researchers screen many thousands of chemicals to find ones that will work, and, as the researchers with this new effort note, they are almost always proteins. But now, they have found a molecule that is not a protein, but is instead a drug that targets non-coding RNA (ncRNA).To find the molecule, the researchers used what they describe as a “very smart phenotypic screen” where a host of chemicals were tested to see which ones prevented bacteria subjected to an antibacterial agent from being killed due to the presence of riboflavin (vitamin B2)—bacteria such as e. coli are able to synthesize the vitamin if they can’t get it from their surroundings—they need it to survive. They found a single molecule that fit the bill, and called it ribocil. To better understand how it interacted with bacteria, they grew a colony of e. coli that became resistant to its effects and followed that by sequencing their genomes—and that led to the discovery that the bacteria had a non-coding part of their messenger RNA transcript that was involved, which as it turns out, was a riboswitch.A riboswitch is an element that serves as a regulator at the beginning stages of messenger RNA transcripts—they do their work by binding molecules together which leads to suppressing the expression of a transcript. Close scrutiny of ribocil revealed that it caused just such a riboswitch to be thrown, which resulted in the bacteria dying from a lack of riboflavin. Further testing revealed that ribocil could effectively kill most or all of the bacteria in an infected mouse.The team notes that while their results were promising, they still don’t know if a way can be found to keep ribocil from being ejected by healthy bacteria (they used samples that were weakened), though they will of course continue working to find out. Hermann suggests that the work shows that ncRNA regions in general may serve as targets for other drug efforts, a bright spot among the dismal news of late regarding the development of non-resistant antibacterial drugs. Journal information: Nature This is a computer graphic of an RNA molecule. Credit: Richard Feldmann/Wikipedia This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

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Dark matter might cause fundamental constants to change over time

first_img Citation: Dark matter might cause fundamental constants to change over time (2015, November 19) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-11-dark-fundamental-constants.html (Phys.org)—The fundamental constants of nature—such as the speed of light, Planck’s constant, and Newton’s gravitational constant—are thought to be constant in time, as their name suggests. But scientists have questioned this assumption as far back as 1937, when Paul Dirac hypothesized that Newton’s gravitational constant might decrease over time. Dark matter dominates in nearby dwarf galaxy Explore further Now in a new paper published in Physical Review Letters, Yevgeny V. Stadnik and Victor V. Flambaum at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, have theoretically shown that dark matter can cause the fundamental constants of nature to slowly evolve as well as oscillate due to oscillations in the dark matter field. This idea requires that the weakly interacting dark matter particles be able to interact a small amount with standard model particles, which the scientists show is possible.In their paper, the scientists considered a model in which dark matter is made of weakly interacting, low-mass particles. In the early Universe, according to the model, large numbers of such dark matter particles formed an oscillating field. Because these particles interact so weakly with standard model particles, they could have survived for billions of years and still exist today, forming what we know as dark matter. Although these low-mass dark matter particles are weakly interacting, they are thought to still interact with standard model particles to some extent, but it’s unclear exactly how much. By using data from experiments that have measured the amount of helium produced during big bang nucleosynthesis, as well as measurements of the rare element dysprosium and the cosmic microwave background, Stadnik and Flambaum have derived the most stringent limits to date on how strongly such dark matter particles interact with photons, electrons, and light quarks, improving on existing constraints by up to 15 orders of magnitude.The new limits on the dark matter interaction strength allow for the possibility that an oscillating, low-mass dark matter field coupled to standard model particles causes variations in the fundamental constants. As the scientists explain, this could have important implications for understanding life’s origins.”The fundamental constants are ‘fine-tuned’ to be consistent with the existence of life in the Universe,” Stadnik told Phys.org. “If the physical constants were even slightly different, life could not have appeared. The discovery of varying fundamental ‘constants’ may help shed important light on how the physical constants came to have their life-sustaining values today. We simply appeared in an area of the Universe where they are consistent with our existence.”Whether or not the fundamental constants actually do vary due to dark matter is still an open question, but the scientists hope that future experiments with atomic clocks, laser interferometers, and other devices may help test out the new idea.”We have shown that linking dark matter and variation of the fundamental constants of Nature leads to a major breakthrough in the sensitivity of dark matter searches,” Flambaum said. “We plan to continue searching for other novel signatures of dark matter that may lead to the direct detection of dark matter for the first time.” Journal information: Physical Review Letterscenter_img Figure showing the limits on the interaction strength between dark matter and standard model particles such as photons, electrons, and quarks. In the present work, the researchers greatly improved these limits by deriving constraints from the helium abundance during big bang nucleosynthesis (BBN), spectroscopy measurements of the rare element dysprosium (Dy), and measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Previous research has derived constraints from supernova data and fifth-force searches. Credit: Stadnik and Flambaum. ©2015 American Physical Society © 2015 Phys.org More information: Y. V. Stadnik and V. V. Flambaum. “Can Dark Matter Induce Cosmological Evolution of the Fundamental Constants of Nature?” Physical Review Letters. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.115.201301 Also at arXiv:1503.08540 [astro-ph.CO] This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

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Study finds rudimentary empathy in macaques

first_img Explore further (Phys.org)—A pair of researchers with Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and Université Lyon, in France has conducted a study that has shown that macaques have at least some degree of empathy towards their fellow cage mates. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Sebastien Ballesta and Jean-René Duhamela describe the experiments they carried out and why they believe the results suggest that macaques are aware of the emotional state of other macaques and express empathy towards them under certain circumstances. The experiments carried out by the duo consisted of placing pairs of captive macaques opposite one another and then allowing them to take turns picking an icon on a screen that offered the other either a reward or a punishment. Rewards were juice sips, while punishment came in the form of puffs of air into the eyes. The researchers also used eye-tracking devices to monitor the gaze and blink rate of the monkeys as they performed their tasks—useful signals for signs of social engagement.The researchers found that most of the 14 pairs of monkeys used in the experiment were disinclined to cause another to be punished but gave rewards freely. They also recorded eight instances of positive social behavior as part of rewarding a partner, four indifferent behaviors and two types of behavior that were classified as antisocial. They noted also a link between social gazing and granting of a reward, which suggested the monkeys were aware of what they were doing—they also reported witnessing eye blinking that they deemed indicative of empathy when a punishment was chosen. The researchers also found that those monkeys that were most likely to administer rewards to others also tended to blink more in anticipation of an air puff to another monkey’s eyes, and blinked more afterwards as well. They suggest their experiments taken as a whole offer evidence of the monkeys taking account of the behavior of other monkeys and modifying their behavior as a result, going so far as to claim that they have shown that the monkeys are aware in some respect of the wellbeing of their peers, and respond in ways they deem appropriate. Study shows differences in brain activity of humans and macaques engaged in the same task Barbary macaques. Credit: Wikipedia/Flickr/Karyn Sig Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencescenter_img More information: Sebastien Ballesta et al. Rudimentary empathy in macaques’ social decision-making, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2015). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1504454112AbstractPrimates live in highly social environments, where prosocial behaviors promote social bonds and cohesion and contribute to group members’ fitness. Despite a growing interest in the biological basis of nonhuman primates’ social interactions, their underlying motivations remain a matter of debate. We report that macaque monkeys take into account the welfare of their peers when making behavioral choices bringing about pleasant or unpleasant outcomes to a monkey partner. Two macaques took turns in making decisions that could impact their own welfare or their partner’s. Most monkeys were inclined to refrain from delivering a mildly aversive airpuff and to grant juice rewards to their partner. Choice consistency between these two types of outcome suggests that monkeys display coherent motivations in different social interactions. Furthermore, spontaneous affilitative group interactions in the home environment were mostly consistent with the measured social decisions, thus emphasizing the impact of preexisting social bonds on decision-making. Interestingly, unique behavioral markers predicted these decisions: benevolence was associated with enhanced mutual gaze and empathic eye blinking, whereas indifference or malevolence was associated with lower or suppressed such responses. Together our results suggest that prosocial decision-making is sustained by an intrinsic motivation for social affiliation and controlled through positive and negative vicarious reinforcements. © 2015 Phys.org Citation: Study finds ‘rudimentary’ empathy in macaques (2015, December 1) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-12-rudimentary-empathy-macaques.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

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Three superEarth exoplanets orbiting nearby star discovered

first_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Three ‘super-Earth’ exoplanets orbiting nearby star discovered (2017, September 13) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-09-super-earth-exoplanets-orbiting-nearby-star.html Kepler is the most prolific planet-hunting telescope. The spacecraft has discovered more than 2,300 exoplanets to date. After the failure of its two reaction wheels in 2013, the mission was repurposed as K2 to perform high-precision photometry of selected fields in the ecliptic. Since then, the revived Kepler spacecraft has detected nearly 160 extrasolar worlds.Now, a team of astronomers led by Joseph Rodriguez of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, reports the finding of three new exoplanets from the data provided by K2. The Kepler spacecraft observed GJ 9827 from December 2016 to March 2017, during its Campaign 12. These observations allowed the team to discover that this nearby late K-type dwarf star is orbited by three alien worlds. The newly found planets were classified as “super-Earths” as they have masses higher than Earth’s but lower than that of Solar System’s gas giants.”In this paper, we present the discovery of three transiting planets orbiting the nearby star GJ 9827 using data from the K2 mission,” the researchers wrote in the paper.Located some 100 light years away from the Earth, GJ 9827 is a bright star of spectral type K6V. It has a radius of about 0.63 solar radii and is approximately 15 percent less massive than our Sun. The scientists found that the star is circled by three planets, designated GJ 9827 b, c and d, located about 0.02, 0.04 and 0.06 AU from the host respectively.According to the paper, GJ 9827 b has a radius of 1.64 Earth radii but its precise mass remains uncertain. The researchers estimate that its mass should be between 3.5 and 4.26 Earth masses. The planet orbits its parent star in approximately 1.21 days and has an equilibrium temperature of 1,119 K.With a radius of 1.29 Earth radii and an estimated mass of about 2.5 Earth masses, GJ 9827 c is smallest and less massive planets of the newly discovered trio. The exoplanet has an equilibrium temperature of 774 K and an orbital period of 3.65 days.GJ 9827 d is about two times larger than the Earth and at least five times as massive as our planet. This alien world has an equilibrium temperature of 648 K and it takes it 6.2 days to fully orbit its host star.The new discovery reported by Rodriguez’s team makes GJ 9827 the closest exoplanet host discovered by K2 mission to date. The star’s proximity and brightness as well as similarity in the size of planets make the system an excellent target for further atmospheric studies. The scientists hope that future space observatories like the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) could provide important insights about atmospheric properties of the three newly discovered extrasolar worlds. (Top) The full K2 light curve of GJ 9827 from Campaign 12, corrected for systematics using the technique described in Vanderburg & Johnson (2014) and Vanderburg et al. (2016b). (Middle) The corrected K2 lightcurve with best-fit low frequency variability removed. (Bottom) Phase folded K2 light curves of GJ 9827 b, c. and d. The observations are plotted in open black circles, and the best fit models are plotted in red. Credit: Rodriguez et al., 2017. (Phys.org)—NASA’s prolonged Kepler mission, known as K2, has made another significant discovery, revealing the existence of three new exoplanets. The newly found alien worlds circle the nearby star GJ 9827 and were classified as “super-Earths.” The finding is presented in a paper published Sept. 6 on arXiv.org. Explore further More information: A System of Three Super Earths Transiting the Late K-Dwarf GJ 9827 at Thirty Parsecs, arXiv:1709.01957 [astro-ph.EP] arxiv.org/abs/1709.01957AbstractWe report the discovery of three small transiting planets orbiting GJ 9827, a bright (K = 7.2) nearby late K-type dwarf star. GJ 9827 hosts a 1.64+0.22−0.20 R⊕ super Earth on a 1.2 day period, a 1.29+0.17−0.16 R⊕ super Earth on a 3.6 day period, and a 2.08+0.28−0.26 R⊕ super Earth on a 6.2 day period. The radii of the planets transiting GJ 9827 span the transition between predominantly rocky and gaseous planets, and GJ 9827 b and c fall in or close to the known gap in the radius distribution of small planets between these populations. At a distance of ∼30 parsecs, GJ 9827 is the closest exoplanet host discovered by K2 to date, making these planets well-suited for atmospheric studies with the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope. The GJ 9827 system provides a valuable opportunity to characterize interior structure and atmospheric properties of coeval planets spanning the rocky to gaseous transition. © 2017 Phys.org Astronomers discover two ‘warm Jupiter’ exoplanets orbiting distant starslast_img read more

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Researchers study the opaque accretion disk of Beta Lyrae A

first_imgPhase coverage of spectro-interferometric observations of β Lyr acquired by different instruments. δ denotes the relative declination (positive toward the north), and α the relative right ascension (positive toward the east). The black line shows the size and orientation of the β Lyr orbit in the sky, the blue dots show orbital phases corresponding to NPOI observations, the magenta dots to CHARA/VEGA observations, the green dots to CHARA/MIRC observations acquired in 2013, and the red dots to CHARA/MIRC observations acquired in 2006/2007. An arbitrary vertical shift of 0.2 mas is added to separate the various orbits. Credit: Mourard et al., 2018. Located some 1,000 light years away from the Earth, Beta Lyrae is a multiple star system consisting of at least one star in close orbit to another star or two or more stars orbiting a central point. One of its components, Beta Lyrae A, is a bright binary of spectral type B. It has an effective temperature of 13,300 K and a steadily increasing orbital period of 12.94 days. The binary is currently in a phase of rapid mass exchange with the mass-losing component (donor) being the less massive (about 2.9 solar masses) than its companion (about 13.3 solar masses).Given that the donor has transferred most of its mass over to its companion, the secondary star is now more massive and exhibits an accretion disk created from this mass transfer. However, the disk blocks the view of the companion, making it difficult for observers to unveil the detailed properties of this star.Studying Beta Lyrae A, including its disk, could therefore be essential for astronomers to better understand mass exchange in close binaries. Thus, a group of astronomers led by Denis Mourard of the University of Côte d’Azur in France, has performed an analysis of the available data obtained during visible and infrared spectro-interferometric observations of Beta Lyrae A.”A series of continuum visible and NIR spectro-interferometric observations by the NPOI, CHARA/MIRC and VEGA instruments covering the whole orbit of β Lyr A acquired during a two-week campaign in 2013 were complemented with UBVR photometric observations acquired during a three-year monitoring of the system. We included NUV and FUV observations from OAO A-2, IUE, and Voyager satellites,” the researchers wrote in the paper.Based on the observational data, Mourard’s team tested various models of the disk. They found that the opaque parts of the accretion disk have the outer radius of about 30 solar radii, the semithickness of approximately 6.5 solar radii (for “slab” and “wedge” shape models), or equivalently the scale-height multiplication factor of 4.3 (for “nebula” model). Moreover, the researchers estimate that the minimum mass of the disk should be between 0.0001 and 0.001 solar masses. When it comes to the parameters of the Beta Lyrae A system, they found that its orbital inclination is 93.5 degrees. They also measured the probable distance to the binary – about 1,042 light years.In concluding remarks, the researchers revealed that they plan to publish further analyses of the Beta Lyrae A binary, focused mainly on the optically thin circumstellar medium in the system. “Using a series of spectroscopic and spectro-interferometric observations of strong emission lines we intend to resolve and describe the structure and kinematics of the optically thin medium within this remarkable system. Consequently, it should be possible to better determine the radial profiles of the disk atmosphere,” the authors of the paper noted. An international team of astronomers has conducted a study of the opaque accretion disk of the multiple star system known as Beta Lyrae A (β Lyr A for short). The research reveals important insights into nature of this disk and also discloses some parameters of the system. The study was presented in a paper published July 12 on arXiv.org. © 2018 Phys.org Journal information: Astronomy & Astrophysics Astronomers detect a doubly eclipsing quadruple star systemcenter_img More information: Physical properties of β Lyr A and its opaque accretion disk, Astronomy & Astrophysics manuscript no. bl22saga arxiv.org/pdf/1807.04789.pdf Explore further Citation: Researchers study the opaque accretion disk of Beta Lyrae A (2018, July 23) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-07-opaque-accretion-disk-beta-lyrae.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

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