Science & Technology

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In rural China, calling someone a 'witch' has serious social consequences

Witches continue to work their dark arts in some parts of the world, at least in the minds of their accusers.

For example, in a rural farming community in southwestern China, 13.7 percent of the population has been labeled "zhu," or "witch," by their neighbors, according to a new paper published Jan. 8 in Nature Human Behavior.

"'Zhu' ...Read more

One-two punch of the Thomas fire and debris flows leaves trail of destruction

LOS ANGELES -- Santa Barbara County crews worked through the holidays to defend coastal communities from the second half of Southern California's familiar cycle of fire and flood.

They cleaned out the 11 debris basins that dot the Santa Barbara front country, making room for the dirt and ash and rocks that winter rains would inevitably send ...Read more

Erosion is revealing surprising amounts of water ice on Mars

Thanks to erosion wearing away surface rock on Mars, scientists using NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have spotted thick deposits of ice in the planet's mid-latitudes that extend hundreds of feet deep.

The discovery, described in the journal Science, could offer researchers a tantalizing new spot to sample our dusty, rusty neighbor.

"This ...Read more

Lionfish-killing contests help control them, study claims

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- They are festive killing sprees, contests among divers armed with spears and nets to catch the biggest haul of venomous, non-native fish that have colonized South Florida's reefs.

Lionfish derbies take aim at spiky, elaborately decorated fish from the Indian and Pacific oceans that have done to Florida's coastal waters ...Read more

As Trump's fossil-fuel 'energy dominance' plan founders, a crucial solar energy decision nears

During his first year in office, President Donald Trump has guided the ship of state directly into the headwinds of market instability, civic opposition, unstable finance and environmental risk in order to fortify the domestic coal and oil industries.

But this week, the administration's plan to achieve what it termed "American energy dominance"...Read more

Apple faces questions from senator over iPhone slowdown

The blowback over Apple slowing down iPhones just keeps coming.

Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, on Tuesday sent Apple a letter with questions about a software update that helped prevent unexpected battery shutdowns in older iPhone models but reduced their speed, according to multiple media outlets that have read the yet-to-be-released letter. ...Read more

Survey: Half of women in STEM jobs say they've felt discrimination

A new survey from Pew has this headline: "Women and Men in STEM Often at Odds Over Workplace Equity."

No kidding.

As Silicon Valley's workplace diversity wars play out -- and amid the spotlight on sexual harassment and abuse in the tech industry and beyond -- Pew Research's survey finds that half of women who work in science, technology, ...Read more

Study: Elephants, lions and other wild animals are sensitive to the effects of war

To the list of ways that humans are making it hard for zebras, giraffes and other large mammals to survive in the wild, you can now add war.

Researchers have new evidence that animals are exquisitely vulnerable to the effects of warfare. They analyzed 65 years of armed conflicts in Africa and found that exposure to just one year of war within a...Read more

Mysterious series of fast radio bursts may have been twisted by extreme environment

Astronomers watching a fast-radio burst flashing from more than 3 billion light-years away say that its source lies in an extreme environment with a powerful magnetic field -- perhaps a supermassive black hole, or the remains of a supernova.

The findings about the phenomenon known as FRB 121102, described in the journal Nature and at the ...Read more

Tableau goes Hyper to keep up with customers' data needs

SEATTLE -- Tableau Software is revamping a core part of its technology to analyze data faster, a move intended to keep up with its customers' increasing big-data needs.

The Seattle company, which makes software to visualize analytics, is introducing its so-called Hyper engine in a software update Wednesday. The technology is designed to make ...Read more

A time for small firms to take tech's stage

LAS VEGAS -- On any given day during the year, tech news is typically dominated by the Apples, Amazons, Facebooks and Googles of the world.

Not so every January, when CES descends on Las Vegas and attention turns for a few brief days to roughly 4,000 exhibiting companies, many of them little-known or completely unheard of start-ups.

Thanks to ...Read more

Jennifer Van Grove: The Internet in 2018 - Change is on the way

While we're just a few days into 2018, we're already seeing big names (and small ones, too) make waves as far as Internet access goes.

That means, if the first week in January is any indication, broadband and wireless consumers can expect some pretty dramatic changes and maybe even a few, cool alternative providers to choose from. Happy ...Read more

Tech Q&A: How music streaming may slow internet use

Q: We use an Amazon Echo Dot device to play streaming music throughout the day, and often have a second unit streaming music on a different floor. Are these devices slowing down my internet service from Comcast?

Bob Oldowski, Bloomington

A: Whether Amazon's streaming music service affects your internet usage depends on what internet speed you ...Read more

Auto companies race to get drivers out of self-driving cars

LAS VEGAS -- Auto and tech companies are racing to get human drivers completely out of their autonomous cars, perhaps as soon as this year.

Numerous companies have been testing small fleets of autonomous vehicles on highways and city streets, yet, to date, nearly all of these vehicles have had test drivers or engineers inside, ready to take ...Read more

Comcast, IBM back blockchain fund

Comcast Corp.'s venture capital arm and IBM Corp. have agreed to finance MState, a fund that invests in early-stage firms looking to sell blockchain-based services to big corporations.

The fund's first investment is in BlockDaemon, a New York firm founded by Konstantine Richter (formerly of Lookbooks) which promises clients "one-click ...Read more

Helpware: Streaming in 4K is stunning

One of the biggest advancements in TVs is the 4K standard, in which resolution is four times that of regular HD. Chances are good that if you bought all but the cheapest TVs in the past year, your new one has 4K capability. But 4K content, outside of streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, has been limited. That's about to change: ...Read more

Bell Helicopter unveils plans for air taxis, but when will they be zipping around?

FORT WORTH, Tex. -- Imagine flying from Fort Worth to Frisco in just a matter of minutes.

If all goes according to plan, urban air taxis could be zipping across the Dallas-Fort Worth area within the next decade.

At this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Bell Helicopter will roll out its air taxi cabin design. The mockup will ...Read more

Why the US is 'the most dangerous of wealthy nations for a child to be born into'

It's no surprise that the United States ranks absolutely last in child mortality among the world's wealthiest countries -- that's been true for years. A new study examines how this sad situation came to be.

According to data from the World Health Organization and the global Human Mortality Database, the problems go all the way back to the 1960s...Read more

Even if you don't know you're sick yet, your face will give you away

People can judge whether someone is sick by looking at a photo for just a few seconds.

That may not sound remarkable -- until you consider that the sick people in the photos were in the very early stages of illnesses. They were participants in a scientific experiment and had agreed to be infected with a bacterium that would cause an ...Read more

Study: Humans may look for the helpers, but bonobos prefer the troublemakers

When Mr. Rogers told viewers of his beloved children's TV show to "look for the helpers," bonobos clearly weren't paying attention. A new study of one of our closest living relatives finds that these docile apes prefer individuals who hinder over those who help.

The findings, described in the journal Current Biology, could shed light on the ...Read more