Biggest galaxies in the universe were formed in cosmic oceans of cold gas

Using radio telescopes in Australia and the US, an international team of scientists has discovered that the biggest galaxies in the universe develop in cosmic clouds of cold gas. Until now scientists believed that these “supergalaxies” formed from smaller galaxies that grow closer and closer together until they merge, due to gravitational attraction.“In the local universe, we see galaxies merging and we expected to observe that the formation of supergalaxies took place in the same way, in the early (now distant) universe,” said first author Bjorn Emonts, researcher at Centro de Astrobiolog√≠a (CSIC-INTA) in Madrid.

To investigate this, telescopes were pointed towards an embryonic galaxy cluster 10 thousand million light years away, in whose interior the giant Spiderweb galaxy is forming, and the scientists discovered a cloud of very cold gas where the galaxies were merging.This enormous cloud, with some 100 thousand million times the mass of the Sun, is mainly composed of molecular hydrogen, the basic material from which the stars and the galaxies are formed.

Previous studies had discovered the mysterious appearance of thousands of millions of young stars throughout the Spiderweb, and for this reason it is now thought that this supergalaxy condensed directly from the cold gas cloud.Instead of observing the hydrogen directly, the researchers traced carbon monoxide, which is much easier to detect.“It is surprising how cold this gas is, at some 200 degrees below zero Celsius,” said the study’s second author Matthew Lehnert, a researcher at the Astrophysics Institute of Paris.

For the study, the researchers combined the interferometers VLA (Very Large Array) in New Mexico (US) and the ATCA (Australia Telescope Compact Array) in Australia.“Using sensitive observations of carbon monoxide, we show that the Spiderweb galaxy — a massive galaxy in a distant protocluster — is forming from a large reservoir of molecular gas,” said the study published in the journal Science.

Scientists use magnets to recover forgotten short term memories

With a technique that uses magnets to stimulate the brain, it is possible to bring back short-term “forgotten” memories stored in the brain, new research has found. The researchers conducted a series of experiments in which people were asked to remember two items representing different types of information — they used words, faces and directions of motion — because they would be tested on their memories.

When the researchers gave their participants a cue as to the type of question coming — a face, for example, instead of a word — the electrical activity and blood flow in the brain associated with the word memory disappeared. But if a second cue came letting the participant know they would now be asked about that word, the brain activity would jump back up to a level indicating it was the focus of attention.“People have always thought neurons would have to keep firing to hold something in memory. Most models of the brain assume that,” said Brad Postle, Professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.

“But we’re watching people remember things almost perfectly without showing any of the activity that would come with a neuron firing. The fact that you’re able to bring it back at all in this example proves it’s not gone. It’s just that we can’t see evidence for its active retention in the brain,” Postle said. The researchers were also able to bring the seemingly abandoned items back to mind without cueing their participants.

Using a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to apply a focused electromagnetic field to a precise part of the brain involved in storing the word, they could trigger the sort of brain activity representative of focused attention. “We think that memory is there, but not active,” Postle said.“More than just showing us it’s there, the TMS can actually make that memory temporarily active again,” Postle pointed out.

The study — published in the journal Science — suggests a state of memory apart from the spotlight attention of active working memory and the deep storage of more significant things in long-term memory.The findings may have implications for treatment of mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, in which patients focus on hallucinations instead of reality, and depression, which seems strongly related to spending an unhealthy amount of time dwelling on negative things.

RSS economic wing SJM seeks probe into Chinese connection of mobile wallet Paytm

Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), the economic wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), on Friday demanded a probe into the alleged “China connection” of the country’s top mobile wallet provider Paytm. “There are reports that Paytm has connection with Chinese firm Alibaba. This is a matter of concern and needs to be probed,” Ashwani Mahajan, co-convener of the SJM, told IANS.

Ever since the demonetisation drive, millions of consumers and merchants across the country have been opting for mobile payments via Paytm. The company has added over five million new users since the demonetisation was implemented.

Mahajan said the SJM welcomes the government’s initiative towards creating a cashless society, but expressed concern about a few things. Giving reasons for his concern, Mahajan said, “We strongly suspect that Chinese firms may steal our banking data through such channels and may misuse it.”

The users have to furnish their debit/credit card and bank account numbers while using apps like Paytm. “What is the percentage of foreign investment in Paytm? To what extent the firm’s management is controlled by foreign players? These are a few questions we should have answers of,” he added.

He said that no Indian company should be sharing data with foreign companies and the investment routes should be made very transparent. “We would take up the matter with the finance and commerce ministries,” Mahajan said.He also raised objection over Paytm using Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s picture in its advertisements.

Phillippine government asks Bangladesh to share findings of heist investigation

The Philippine government wants Bangladesh to share the findings of its investigation into how unknown hackers pulled off one of the world’s largest cyber bank heists, to help speed up recovery of the stolen funds.Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, who last week met with a Bangladesh delegation, said Manila “strongly recommended” Dhaka share the results of its investigation. He assured the visitors the government was doing it everything it could to find Bangladesh’s missing money.Cyber criminals tried to steal nearly $1 billion from Bangladesh Bank in February and made off with $81 million via an account at the New York Federal Reserve. That money was transferred to four accounts with false names at one RCBC branch in Manila before vanishing.

“We are pursuing the lawsuits on your behalf as vigorously as we can,” Dominguez was quoted in a statement as telling the delegation.Bangladesh Bank has declined to disclose the findings of its own inquiry, saying it wanted to deny perpetrators knowledge of the investigation.Most of the money was laundered through Philippine casinos. About $15 million recovered from a gaming junket operator has been returned to Bangladesh, with a further $2.7 million frozen.Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who had earlier pledged the stolen money would be returned, cancelled a meeting with the Bangladesh team because of “pressing matters”.

Asked if the findings of the probe would be shared with the Philippines government, Bangladesh’s ambassador in Manila, John Gomes, said: “No one asked us anything yet.”But Philippine central bank deputy governor Nestor Espenilla said Manila had received an assurance from Bangladesh it would provide an “initial update” since the investigation was not yet finished.Bangladesh has said it wanted RCBC, or the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC), to compensate it for its losses, but RCBC refuses to pay and has said the Bangladesh central bank was “negligent”.

Bangladesh’s Law Minister Anisul Huq last week said RCBC should shoulder the burden for accepting stolen funds.RCBC was fined a record one billion pesos ($20 million) by the Philippine central bank for its failure to prevent the movement of the stolen Bangladesh money through its bank. Huq said paying that fine was tantamount to accepting culpability.An anti-money laundering body last month filed charges against five RCBC officials in connection with the theft.No arrests have been made despite investigations by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Interpol, Bangladesh police and authorities in the Philippines.

Demonetisation: security experts warn that ATMs are easy targets for hackers

At a time when serpentine queues continue to grow outside ATMs across the country following the demonetisation move, a top executive of Intel Security has warned that ATMs in India are susceptible to security breaches.Intel Security, with its McAfee product line, is the world’s largest dedicated security technology company.

In banks, a breach can happen at multiple levels — like at an ATM, data centre, network or through mobile banking. “The ATM today is an easy target for hackers to hit a network,” Anand Ramamoorthy, Managing Director, Intel Security, South Asia, told IANS in an interview.

ATM attacks have affected several countries in the recent past. A hacker group called Cobalt targeted ATMs across Europe last month and remotely attacked the machines using malicious software that manipulated the systems which led the machines to automatically dispense huge amounts of cash.
Banks in India will have to make efforts to ensure that ATMs are protected with multiple levels of authentication and industry-standard encryption, ensuring data security at all points of a transaction.

According to experts, banks need to work towards gradually enabling EMV chip and PIN-enabled card acceptance and processing at ATMs to enhance the safety and security of transactions.“It is time that magnetic-stripe cards issued by banks for ATM transactions are replaced at the earliest. While the affected banks are blocking debit cards to minimise the impact, the already ongoing replacement of mag-stripe cards with EMV chip cards will help the banks and consumers,” Atul Singh, Regional Director-Banking and Transport (India Subcontinent) at the digital security giant Gemalto, told IANS earlier.EMV — which stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa — is a global standard for credit cards that uses computer chips to authenticate (and secure) chip-card transactions.

“We have seen a big focus on ATM attacks in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, including India. ATMs in underdeveloped countries are particularly vulnerable as those countries still have old ATM software and are running Windows XP. This makes them the perfect target for an easier score,” US-based cyber security company FireEye said recently.In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently urged people to “embrace e-banking, mobile banking and more such technology”, but Ramamoorthy warned that as mobile banking becomes popular, it will involve greater risks.

“You have to become aware as you become more digitised,” noted Ramamoorthy, adding that mobile has become more of a financial gateway and its implications are huge for the country.Earlier this year, following a malware-related security breach, the State Bank of India (SBI), HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and YES Bank blocked millions of debit cards that were compromised in one of the biggest data breaches in the financial sector.

“To protect ATMs from cyber attacks in the future, Intel Security has deployed an ‘Embedded App’ control which not only protects ATMs at the site but also the network which it is connected to,” Ramamoorthy said, adding that the app is set for an update in 2017.

BMW to test autonomous vehicles in Munich in an effort to create the “coolest” ride hailing service


BMW will test autonomous vehicles in Munich next year as it seeks to keep up with ride-hailing firms like Uber, which have spent billions on pay-per-use personal transport. The German carmaker will have about 40 vehicles with self-driving functions in Munich’s inner city and then expand the project to other cities, BMW executives said on Friday. “There is a trained test driver behind the wheel of every car,” Klaus Buettner, BMW’s Vice President in charge of Autonomous Driving said.

Uber’s rapid growth has prompted BMW to consider how autonomous vehicles may help them accelerate their own push into pay-per-use transport. Software and technology companies like Lyft, Juno and Uber have shaken up the traditional auto industry business model of selling cars by offering customers an alternative to vehicle ownership through smartphone-based ride-hailing services.

Now traditional car companies are expanding their own ride-hailing schemes, while investing in self-driving technology. “Ride hailing is nothing more than manual autonomous driving,” Tony Douglas, Head of Strategy for BMW’s mobility services said. “Once you dispense with the driver you have a license to print money.”

BMW has already made significant progress expanding into the market for car sharing by introducing pay-by-the-minute services like ReachNow in Seattle, Douglas said. “We had 14,000 people sign up in 4 days, in a market already served by Zipcar, Uber, Lyft and Car2go,” Douglas said. “Someone else spent the money to educate the market and then we came in with a cool product. We will not be the largest, but we can be the coolest,” Douglas said.

MW plans to use not just its expertise making premium vehicles, but also its ability to manufacture, own and manage fleets of premium vehicles. “Uber and Lyft do not operate their own fleets of cars. Owning the fleet means you can make offers that Lyft and others are unable to provide. For example providing car sharing for a specific community only,” BMW’s Chief Executive Harald Krueger said.

EU asks US tech giants to respond faster to tackle online hate speech

U.S. tech giants including Facebook, Twitter, Google’s YouTube and Microsoft will have to act faster to tackle online hate speech or face laws forcing them to do so, the European Commission said on Sunday. The European Union (EU) executive’s warning comes six months after the companies signed up to a voluntary code of conduct to take action in Europe within 24 hours, following rising concerns triggered by the refugee crisis and terror attacks.

This included removing or disabling access to the content if necessary, better cooperation with civil society organizations and the promotion of “counter-narratives” to hate speech. The code of conduct is largely a continuation of efforts that the companies already take to counter hate speech on their websites, such as developing tools for people to report hateful content and training staff to handle such requests.

However, a report commissioned by EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova showed that compliance with the code is far from satisfactory, the commission said. “In practice the companies take longer and do not yet achieve this goal. They only reviewed 40 percent of the recorded cases in less than 24 hours,” a Commission official said. “After 48 hours the figure is more than 80 percent. This shows that the target can realistically be achieved, but this will need much stronger efforts by the IT companies.”

The Commission said it may enact laws to force swifter action. “If Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft want to convince me and the ministers that the non-legislative approach can work, they will have to act quickly and make a strong effort in the coming months,” Jourova told the Financial Times. Her spokesman confirmed the comments.

Jourova’s report showed an uneven pace across the 28-country bloc, with the removal rate of racist posts in Germany and France above 50 percent, but just 11 percent in Austria and 4 percent in Italy. EU justice ministers will meet in Brussels to discuss the report on Thursday. They are also expected to ask the companies to clarify issues including taking down “terrorist propaganda” and helping provide evidence to convict foreign fighters.

Effects of granular privacy controls on Facebook varies according to user expertise: study

Even though the online social platforms are offering several privacy controls to users, it depends on the user how to use them making privacy a debatable issue, a new study has found. According to a new study from the Naveen Jindal School of Management at University of Texas – Dallas, people have different views on the value of privacy controls in managing disclosures and therefore privacy dangers.

“Some people argue that giving users more granular controls mitigates privacy issues because users can effectively limit the recipients of shared content, thereby increasing the secrecy of disclosures,” Huseyin Cavusoglu, Associate Professor of information systems, said. “On the contrary, other people claim that users perceive privacy risks less severely when they have more controls to exercise, and as a result, share more content publicly, thereby increasing the openness of disclosures,” Cavusoglu added.

A team of researchers used data obtained from Facebook to test the relationship between privacy controls and disclosure patterns of Facebook users based on two popular content-sharing activities: Wall posts and private messages. In December 2009, Facebook gave users additional options to manage privacy by introducing granular controls to set access permissions for wall posts on a per-post basis.

The results of the study, which showed the impact of granular privacy controls on the sharing behaviour of the users, said that Facebook users, on average, increased their use of wall posts and decreased their use of private messages in periods after the change in privacy controls. However, different groups of users respond to the new policy in opposite ways, Cavusoglu said.

“What we found is that users who are more privacy conscious started to share more content via wall posts and less content via private messages after the change, possibly because they are the people who are likely to use the enhanced privacy controls and therefore benefit from them. As a result, the openness of their disclosure increased,” he noted. “However, those who are less privacy sensitive prior to the change actually reduced the use of wall posts and increased the use of private messages in periods following the change,” he added.

The study was published in the INFORMS journal Information Systems Research.

Twitter says it will refuse to help Trump build a US national registry of Muslims


Of the nine major tech giants, including Facebook, Apple and Google, only Twitter has declined to help if US President-elect Donald Trump seeks to create a national Muslim registry, a media report said. US-based news website the Intercept said it contacted nine of the most prominent firms to ask if they would sell their services to help create a national Muslim registry — an idea recently refloated by President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team — and only Twitter said no.

“We contacted nine different firms in the business of technology, broadly defined, with the following question: ‘Would [name of company], if solicited by the Trump administration, sell any goods, services, information, or consulting of any kind to help facilitate the creation of a national Muslim registry, a project which has been floated tentatively by the President-elect’s transition team?’,” the report said.

After two weeks of calls and e-mails, only three companies provided an answer and only one said it would not participate in such a project. Google, Facebook, Apple, IBM, IT giant SRA International and Canada-based Information technology consulting company CGI did not provide any answer to the query. Management consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton declined to comment.

Twitter said “No”, and a link, which states as company policy a prohibition against the use, was shared on the website. The link read: “To be clear: We prohibit developers using the Public APIs and Gnip data products from allowing law enforcement — or any other entity — to use Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period.” Microsoft returned with an answer saying, “We’re not going to talk about hypotheticals at this point.”

A link to a company blog post states that “we’re committed to promoting not just diversity among all the men and women who work here, but…inclusive culture” and that “it will remain important for those in government and the tech sector to continue to work together to strike a balance that protects privacy and public safety in what remains a dangerous time”.

The Intercept cleared that the story was not written to say that the companies which did not reply to the request for a comment or declined to comment, were tacitly endorsing the Trump agenda in general or a Muslim registry in particular. “Still, it is asking very little of today’s tech companies to prompt them to go on record as unwilling to help create a federal list of Muslims — or so one would very much hope,” the report noted.

Pune-based Deskera claims to be the first GST compliant cloud software provider in India

Reports circulating the web reveal the compulsion to roll out GST by Sep 16, 2017. With businesses gone online, and a trend inclined towards cloud and data analytics, many would look for software services to help build their business function smoothly. Pune-based Deskera is one such service provider. It is a part of the GST network, and claims to be the first GST compliant service provider in India. It has been offering services in Singapore and Malaysia.“The complete structure isn’t out, but we do know it is going to be similar to Singapore and Malaysia. And, since we serve these markets, and with probably a similar structure in India, we can offer GST-compliant enterprise services,” Shashank Dixit, CEO, Deskera tells us.

Unlike others, Deskera offers full-fledged services, which aren’t limited to only bigger firms. It easily caters to SMEs alike, Dixit tells us. In fact, its the approach of services that sets it apaprt from others. For instance, a sales team wherein members get a commission will require 3-4 different types of software such as CRM to capture sales, software for payroll, ERP to calculate commission and project management. However, Deskera will do it out-of-the-box with one software.

He further tells us that Asian SMEs including Indian are more demanding and less forgiving, and the service providers will have to be very good at their work, to cater to the lot. Asian SMEs may not necessarily buy 4 pieces of software, while American SMEs could be open to the idea.Dixit tells us that cloud adoption in India is going through the roof, and Deskera opened eight office here in the past 7 months. The most recent one was in Jaipur, and he further adds how the tier 32 cities are adopting cloud service, which led it to open the office in Jaipur. Deskera is now trying to reach to its users.

While the government expects GST to unshackle India from red tape and improve the ease of doing business. However, how the industry will take to the new change will get apparent only after the implementation of the law.

Deskera is profitable startup  with 300 employees, and aims to increase the number to 600 by mid of next year. It also aims at doubling its revenue, which is now close to 200 crore.  Deskera Cloud ERP powers more than 3,000 SMEs and businesses globally. Its products are designed to fulfil the business requirements of a wide range of industries such as manufacturing, trading, distribution, engineering, building and construction. It should be noted that Malaysia switched to the GST era in April 2015. And, Deskera has been working with various Government departments and businesses in Singapore and Malaysia in helping them move to the GST based system.

Nissan finally launches the GT-R in India for Rs 1.99 crores

Remember back in Septmeber we told you that the iconic Nissan GT-R is available for pre-booking? Well, the company has now officially begun deliveries and has confirmed a launch price of Rs 1.99 crore (ex-showroom Delhi). It will be sold exclusively through the Nissan dealership in Noida which will also house India’s first Nissan High Performance Centre (NHPC) to take care of the servicing of the new car.

One of the finest production cars from Nissan, the all new GT-R builds up on the legacy of Nissan’s Skyline series. It is powered by a massive 3.8-litre V6 twin-turbocharged handcrafted engine that can produce 552 bhp at 6,800 rpm and 632 Nm of torque. Thanks to this, the car can launch from 0-100 kmph in just 2.8 seconds.India will get the same European spec Premium Edition and will be available in Katsura Orange, Vibrant Red, Pearl Black, Pearl White, Racing Blue, Gun Metallic and Ultimate Silver. The choice of interior trim includes Red, Tan, Ivory & Black.

“The GT-R is a very special car for Nissan and we are delighted to add it to our Indian line-up for the first time in its history. It is the epitome of Nissan’s technology and design, and demonstrates our brand promise of ‘Innovation and Excitement,” Nissan India Operations President Guillaume Sicard said.

The 2017 GT-R was unveiled at the New York International Auto Show back in March. It will be produced at Nissan’s primary plant in Tochigi, Japan, and will be brought to India as a CBU (Completely Built-up Unit).

99 percent counterfeit Apple chargers fail basic safety test: UK Trading Standards Institute

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) investigated into the safety of counterfeit electronics. In an operation, investigators purchased 400 different Apple chargers online, from various suppliers around the world. Out of these 397 failed a basic safety test. CTSI is warning consumers of the dangers of using counterfeit products.“Only buy second-hand electrical goods that have been tested and only buy online electrical goods from trusted suppliers,” said Leon Livermore, CTSI chief executive. “It might cost a few pounds more but counterfeit and second-hand goods are an unknown entity that could cost you your home or even your life, or the life of a loved-one.”

The institute representatives said that criminals around the world are luring gullible consumers into buying cheap electronic products that are known to set houses on fire. Although the CTSI takes measures to remove dangerous products from the market, and disrupt the supply chain of such unsafe goods, apparently their work is just skimming the surface. The National Trading Standards eCrime division is working with fire and rescue services to make home checks and identify dangerous products. The efforts of CTSI are running concurrently with Project Jasper, an initiative to purge counterfeit products from online marketplaces and social media sites.

Apple has identified the problem too, and has filed a $2 million lawsuit against Mobile Star LLC, for making and distributing counterfeit apple accessories. Details of the lawsuit was posted on Macrumors. Apple has found that 90% of the Genuine Apple products listed on Amazon were counterfeit. The listings used official Apple images and branding. The counterfeit products have a high risk of fire, electrical shocks and overheating.

Panasonic may buy ZKW Group, European automotive light maker to accelerate push into auto


Japan’s Panasonic Corp is in talks to buy European automotive light maker ZKW Group, accelerating its push into the automotive electronics market, a person familiar with the matter said. The deal could be worth up to $1 billion and the two companies could reach a basic agreement as early as this month, the Nikkei business daily reported Monday.An acquisition of ZKW would expand Panasonic’s automotive lineup, which currently centers on batteries and navigation systems, as it shifts its focus to corporate clients to escape price competition from lower-margin consumer electronics manufacturers.

“ZKW is among various deals that Panasonic is considering,” said the source, who was not authorized to discuss the matter and asked not to be named. “But no details have been decided and the deal could fall through,” he said.

Panasonic has earmarked 1 trillion yen ($8.80 billion) for strategic investments including mergers and acquisitions for the four years through March 2019. Of that amount, 70 percent has been already completed or allocated for specific deals, the company has said. The possible acquisition comes at a time when rival electronics makers are also pushing into the automotive industry. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd agreed in November to buy Harman International Industries in an $8 billion deal.

Panasonic is targeting annual sales of 2 trillion yen for its automotive business in the year ending in March 2019, up from 1.3 trillion yen in the last financial year that ended in March. Last year Panasonic took a 49 percent stake in Spanish automotive mirror manufacturer Ficosa International and plans to contribute $1.6 billion to Tesla Motors’ $5 billion battery factory.

Zenith, a leading forecaster says that social media ads will hit $50 billion by 2019

The amount of money spent on advertising on social media is set to catch up with newspaper ad revenues by 2020, a leading forecaster said on Monday. The rapid expansion of social media platforms on mobile devices, as well as faster internet connectivity and more sophisticated technology, has triggered a huge shift in the way many people get their news.

Advertising agency Zenith Optimedia, owned by France’s Publicis, predicts global advertising expenditure on social media will account for 20 percent of all internet advertising in 2019, hitting $50 billion and coming in just one percent smaller than newspaper ads. It expects social media to overtake newspapers comfortably by 2020.

Marketers are increasingly directing their spending to social media sites where ads blend into users’ newsfeeds on platforms such as Facebook and Snapchat proving more effective than interruptive banner formats. Zenith’s report forecasts that global advertising expenditure will grow 4.4 percent in 2017, the same rate as in 2016, which it said would be a strong performance given that big events like the Olympic Games, Britain’s EU referendum and the U.S. presidential election boosted advertising this year.Online video advertising is also rapidly growing and set to total $35.4 billion across the world by 2019, fractionally ahead of the amount spent on radio advertising but still far less than television. Global spending on advertising has been stable since 2010 the report showed, although growth has declined in the Middle East and North Africa. It was expected to continue to grow strongly in China and much of Asia.