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New ant species evolved within the nest of its relatives

A parasite queen (left) and the queen of the ants it preys on. Note the two scale bars both represent one millimeter, indicating the parasites’ relatively small size.

We tend to think of parasites as creatures that attach themselves to their hosts or worm their way inside, consuming the hosts’ resources directly from their bodies. But there are other parasites that steal from their hosts simply by freeloading off them. The classic example is the cuckoo, which lays eggs in the nests of other birds, who then happily feed the cuckoo’s offspring as if they were their own.

A successful strategy like that is hard for evolution to pass up. So it really wasn’t a surprise to find out that there are also parasitic species of ants, ones that breed within the nests of other ants and raise their offspring using the resources provided by the hosts. Now, researchers have developed evidence that at least one of those species evolved within the nests that they now occupy.

The parasitic ant in question has the evocative name Mycocepurus castrator. It lives off the hard work of a related leaf-cutter ant named Mycocepurus goeldii. Although the host species is distributed widely within South America, M. castrator has a much narrower range—a single stand of eucalyptus trees conveniently located on the campus of Sao Paulo State University in Brazil.

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Via:: Ars Technica

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Product Hunt, A Reddit For Products, Is Now Banned From Reddit

Product Hunt, the YC-backed social network for sharing links to interesting new startups and apps via a Reddit-like interface, has been banned from Reddit. We first got wind that links to Product Hunt could no longer be submitted to Reddit from a comment on a video published to YouTube by Google Ventures announcing that the search giant’s investment wing invested in Product… Read More

Via:: TechCrunch

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Congressional staffers banned again from Wikipedia after “transphobic” edits

An IP address used by staff at the US House of Representatives has been banned from editing Wikipedia for 30 days. It’s the second such punishment for would-be anonymous House Internet users in less than a month.

The first ban was imposed for 10 days after a series of “disruptive” edits, including a change to the entry about the website Mediaite to describe it as a “sexist transphobic news and opinion blog.”

Now the same IP address has been condemned by editors for making several controversial edits on articles related to transgender issues. Last night, a Wikipedia administrator imposed a month-long ban, with some editors asking for harsher measures.

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Via:: Ars Technica

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California DMV says Google’s self-driving car must have a steering wheel

Left: Google’s prototype car. Right: the eventual final design.
Google

Traditionally, Google’s self-driving car prototypes have taken existing cars from manufacturers like Toyota and Lexus and bolted on the self-driving car components. This is less than ideal, since it limits the design possibilities of the car’s “vision” system and includes (eventually) unnecessary components, like a steering wheel and pedals.

However, Google recently built a self-driving car of its own design, which had no human control system other than a “go” button. The California DMV has now thrown a speed bump in Google’s car design, though, in the form of new rules that require that all self-driving cars allow a driver to take “immediate physical control” if needed.

The new law means Google’s self-designed car will need to have a steering wheel and gas and brake pedals any time it hits the public road. According to The Wall Street Journal, Google will comply with the law by building a “small, temporary steering wheel and pedal system that drivers can use during testing” into the prototype cars. The report says California officials are working on rules for cars without a steering wheel and pedals, but for now, a human control system is mandatory.

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Via:: Ars Technica

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Apple releases OS X Yosemite Public Beta 2 to testers

Beta users will also get a new build of iTunes 12.
Andrew Cunningham

Apple has just released the first update to the OS X Yosemite Public Beta, about a month after the first beta shipped. If you skipped the first beta but would like to give this one a try, Apple’s sign-up page still appears to be accepting new testers (the company said that it would close the program down after the first million sign-ups, a number that apparently hasn’t been hit yet).

The build number of the new beta indicates that it’s roughly the same as Yosemite Developer Beta 6, which was released earlier this week to registered iOS and OS X developers. The first public beta was more or less identical to Developer Beta 4.

In the space of those two developer betas, Apple has been working to squash out bugs and has further Yosemite-ized more traditional OS X components. The volume and brightness overlays have been changed to match the frosted translucent look used elsewhere in the OS, and Apple added a new batch of Yosemite-themed wallpapers. Additional application and System Preferences icons have also been redesigned to match Yosemite’s simpler, “flatter” look.

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Via:: Ars Technica

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Monkey’s selfie cannot be copyrighted, US regulators say

United States copyright regulators are agreeing with Wikipedia’s conclusion that a monkey’s selfie cannot be copyrighted by a nature photographer whose camera was swiped by the ape in the jungle. The animal’s selfie went viral.

The US Copyright Office, in a 1,222-page report discussing federal copyright law, said that a “photograph taken by a monkey” is unprotected intellectual property.”The Office will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants. Likewise, the Office cannot register a work purportedly created by divine or supernatural beings, although the Office may register a work where the application or the deposit copy state that the work was inspired by a divine spirit,” said the draft report, “Compendium of US Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition.” [PDF]

The report comes two weeks after Wikimedia, the US-based operation that runs Wikipedia, announced that the public, not British photojournalist David Slater, maintains the rights to the selfie and the other pictures the black macaca nigra monkey snapped. The monkey hijacked the camera from Slater during a 2011 shoot in Indonesia and took tons of pictures, including the selfie.

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Via:: Ars Technica

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‘Nearables’ want to bring iBeacon context to your daily life

The world of iBeacon technology is intriguing, but there are drawbacks. Do you really want to migrate through a vast area and have push notifications, or download a store’s app? Maybe not, but timely notifications about important topics is still something to be considered. Enter ‘Nearables’, a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) sticker that tells you what you need to know, …

Via:: SlashGear

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Pandora, Indiegogo Release Employee Diversity Reports

Indiegogo reported 33 percent of its tech employees are female, a relatively higher percentage than other companies that have recently released diversity reports. In comparison, Twitter’s tech employees are 10 percent female, and those numbers are only slightly better at Snapchat (about 15 percent), Facebook (15 percent) and Google (17 percent). Both Pinterest and eBay both reported… Read More

Via:: TechCrunch

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