2012年10月31日 星期三

Are Humans to Blame? Science Is Out

Are Humans to Blame? Science Is Out

Marcus Yam for The New York Times
The water rose at Battery Park. Scientists said they did not know for sure if Hurricane Sandy could be tied directly to climate change, a question on the minds of many along the storm’s path. More Photos »
From the darkened living rooms of Lower Manhattan to the wave-battered shores of Lake Michigan, the question is occurring to millions of people at once: Did the enormous scale and damage from Hurricane Sandy have anything to do with climate change?
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Green
A blog about energy and the environment.
Lindsay Niegelberg/The Stamford Advocate
A hurricane barrier in Stamford, Conn. Experts say that the storm, whatever its causes, should be seen as a warning. More Photos »
Hesitantly, climate scientists offered an answer this week that is likely to satisfy no one, themselves included. They simply do not know for sure if the storm was caused or made worse by human-induced global warming.
They do know, however, that the resulting storm surge along the Atlantic coast was almost certainly intensified by decades of sea-level rise linked to human emissions of greenhouse gases. And they emphasized that Hurricane Sandy, whatever its causes, should be seen as a foretaste of trouble to come as the seas rise faster, the risks of climate change accumulate and the political system fails to respond.
“We’re changing the environment — it’s very clear,” said Thomas R. Knutson, a research meteorologist with the government’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J. “We’re changing global temperature, we’re changing atmospheric moisture, we’re changing a lot of things. Humans are running this experiment, and we’re not quite sure how it’s going to turn out.”
By the time Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast coast on Monday, upending lives across the Eastern half of the country, it had become a freakish hybrid of a large, late-season hurricane and a winter storm more typical of the middle latitudes. Though by no means unprecedented, that type of hybrid storm is rare enough that scientists have not studied whether it is likely to become more common in a warming climate.
“My profession hasn’t done its homework,” said Kerry A. Emanuel, a climate scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “I think there’s going to be a ton of papers that come out of this, but it’s going to take a couple of years.”
Scientists note that a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapor, which in principle supplies more energy for storms of all types. The statistics seem to show that certain types of weather extremes, notably heat waves and heavy downpours, are becoming more common.
But how those general principles will influence hurricanes has long been a murky and contentious area of climate science. Most scientists expect that the number of Atlantic hurricanes will actually stay steady or decline in coming decades as the climate warms, but that the proportion of intense, damaging storms is likely to rise.
The experts differ sharply on whether such a rise can already be detected in hurricane statistics. Recent decades seem to show an increase in hurricane strength, but hurricanes tend to rise and fall in a recurring cycle over time, so it is possible that natural variability accounts for the recent trends.
Jeff Masters, a meteorologist and founder of a popular Web site, Weather Underground, suspects some kind of shift is under way. The number of hurricanes and tropical storms over the past three years has been higher than average, with 19 named storms in both 2010 and 2011 and 19 so far this hurricane season, which ends Nov. 30. According to the National Hurricane Center there are, on average, 12 named storms each season.
“The climatology seems to have changed,” Dr. Masters said. “We’re getting these very strange, very large storms with very low central pressures that don’t have that much wind at the surface.”
Hurricanes draw their energy from warm waters in the top layer of the ocean. And several scientists pointed out this week that parts of the western Atlantic were remarkably warm for late October as Hurricane Sandy passed over, as much as 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal for this time of year.
Kevin E. Trenberth, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., said that natural variability probably accounted for most of that temperature extreme. But, he added, human-induced global warming has raised the overall temperature of the ocean surface by about one degree Fahrenheit since the 1970s. So global warming probably contributed a notable fraction of the energy on which the storm thrived — maybe as much as 10 percent, he said.
Dr. Trenberth said that many of Sandy’s odd features, including its large scale, derived from its origin as a merger of two weather systems that converged in the western Atlantic.
“My view is that a lot of this is chance,” he said. “A hybrid storm is certainly one which is always in the cards, and it’s one we’ve always worried about.”
Winds knocked out power as far west as Michigan. But the most serious damage, including the flooding of New York’s subway tunnels and the broad destruction along the Jersey Shore, came as the storm pushed roiling ocean waters onto land, a phenomenon known as storm surge. The surge set records in some places, including the Battery in Lower Manhattan.
Globally, the ocean rose about eight inches in the last century, and the rate seems to have accelerated to about a foot a century.
Scientists say most of the rise is a direct consequence of human-induced climate change. Ocean water expands when it warms, accounting for some of the rise, and land ice is melting worldwide, dumping extra water into the ocean. Scientists say they believe the rate will accelerate further, so that the total increase by the end of this century could exceed three feet.

2012年10月30日 星期二

Killing the Computer to Save It


PROFILES IN SCIENCE: PETER G. NEUMANN

Killing the Computer to Save It

By JOHN MARKOFF
Dr. Neumann, an 80-year-old computer scientist at SRI International, is leading an effort to redesign computers and software from a "clean slate" to make them more secure.


Killing the Computer to Save It

Jim Wilson/The New York Times
Peter G. Neumann
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MENLO PARK, Calif. — Many people cite Albert Einstein’s aphorism “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” Only a handful, however, have had the opportunity to discuss the concept with the physicist over breakfast.
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Jim Sugar
CONCEPT: Peter G. Neumann, about 12 years ago, at SRI International in Menlo Park, Calif.
One of those is Peter G. Neumann, now an 80-year-old computer scientist at SRI International, a pioneering engineering research laboratory here.
As an applied-mathematics student atHarvard, Dr. Neumann had a two-hour breakfast with Einstein on Nov. 8, 1952. What the young math student took away was a deeply held philosophy of design that has remained with him for six decades and has been his governing principle of computing and computer security.
For many of those years, Dr. Neumann (pronounced NOY-man) has remained a voice in the wilderness, tirelessly pointing out that the computer industry has a penchant for repeating the mistakes of the past. He has long been one of the nation’s leading specialists in computer security, and early on he predicted that the security flaws that have accompanied the pell-mell explosion of the computer and Internet industries would have disastrous consequences.
“His biggest contribution is to stress the ‘systems’ nature of the security and reliability problems,” said Steven M. Bellovin, chief technology officer of the Federal Trade Commission. “That is, trouble occurs not because of one failure, but because of the way many different pieces interact.”
Dr. Bellovin said that it was Dr. Neumann who originally gave him the insight that “complex systems break in complex ways” — that the increasing complexity of modern hardware and software has made it virtually impossible to identify the flaws and vulnerabilities in computer systems and ensure that they are secure and trustworthy.
The consequence has come to pass in the form of an epidemic of computer malware and rising concerns about cyberwarfare as a threat to global security, voiced alarmingly this month by the defense secretary, Leon E. Panetta, who warned of a possible “cyber-Pearl Harbor” attack on the United States.
It is remarkable, then, that years after most of his contemporaries have retired, Dr. Neumann is still at it and has seized the opportunity to start over and redesign computers and software from a “clean slate.”
He is leading a team of researchers in an effort to completely rethink how to make computers and networks secure, in a five-year project financed by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, with Robert N. Watson, a computer security researcher at Cambridge University’s Computer Laboratory.
“I’ve been tilting at the same windmills for basically 40 years,” said Dr. Neumann recently during a lunchtime interview at a Chinese restaurant near his art-filled home in Palo Alto, Calif. “And I get the impression that most of the folks who are responsible don’t want to hear about complexity. They are interested in quick and dirty solutions.”
An Early Voice for Security
Dr. Neumann, who left Bell Labs and moved to California as a single father with three young children in 1970, has occupied the same office at SRI for four decades. Until the building was recently modified to make it earthquake-resistant, the office had attained notoriety for the towering stacks of computer science literature that filled every cranny. Legend has it that colleagues who visited the office after the 1989 earthquake were stunned to discover that while other offices were in disarray from the 7.1-magnitude quake, nothing in Dr. Neumann’s office appeared to have been disturbed.
A trim and agile man, with piercing eyes and a salt-and-pepper beard, Dr. Neumann has practiced tai chi for decades. But his passion, besides computer security, is music. He plays a variety of instruments, including bassoon, French horn, trombone and piano, and is active in a variety of musical groups. At computer security conferences it has become a tradition for Dr. Neumann to lead his colleagues in song, playing tunes from Gilbert and Sullivan and Tom Lehrer.
Until recently, security was a backwater in the world of computing. Today it is a multibillion-dollar industry, though one of dubious competence, and safeguarding the nation’s computerized critical infrastructure has taken on added urgency. President Obama cited it in the third debate of the presidential campaign, focusing on foreign policy, as something “we need to be thinking about” as part of the nation’s military strategy.
Dr. Neumann reasons that the only workable and complete solution to the computer security crisis is to study the past half century’s research, cherry-pick the best ideas and then build something new from the bottom up.
Richard A. Clarke, the nation’s former counterterrorism czar and an author of “Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It” (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2010), agrees that Dr. Neumann’s Clean Slate effort, as it is called, is essential.
“Fundamentally all of the stuff we’re doing to secure networks today is putting bandages on and putting our fingers in the dike, and the dike springs a leak somewhere else,” Mr. Clarke said.
“We have not fundamentally redesigned our networks for 45 years,” he said. “Sure, it would cost an enormous amount to rearchitect, but let’s start it and see if it works better and let the marketplace decide.”
Dr. Neumann is one of the most qualified people to lead such an effort to rethink security. He has been there for the entire trajectory of modern computing — even before its earliest days. He took his first computing job in the summer of 1953, when he was hired to work as a programmer employing an I.B.M. card-punched calculator.
Today the SRI-Cambridge collaboration is one of several dozen research projects financed by Darpa’s Information Innovation Office as part of a “cyber resilience” effort started in 2010.
Run by Dr. Howard Shrobe, an M.I.T. computer scientist who is now a Darpa program manager, the effort began with a premise: If the computer industry got a do-over, what should it do differently?
The program includes two separate but related efforts: Crash, for Clean-Slate Design of Resilient Adaptive Secure Hosts; and MRC, for Mission-Oriented Resilient Clouds. The idea is to reconsider computing entirely, from the silicon wafers on which circuits are etched to the application programs run by users, as well as services that are placing more private and personal data in remote data centers.
Clean Slate is financing research to explore how to design computer systems that are less vulnerable to computer intruders and recover more readily once security is breached.
Dr. Shrobe argues that because the industry is now in a fundamental transition from desktop to mobile systems, it is a good time to completely rethink computing. But among the biggest challenges is the monoculture of the computer “ecosystem” of desktop, servers and networks, he said.
“Nature abhors monocultures, and that’s exactly what we have in the computer world today,” said Dr. Shrobe. “Eighty percent are running the same operating system.”
Lessons From Biology
To combat uniformity in software, designers are now pursuing a variety of approaches that make computer system resources moving targets. Already some computer operating systems scramble internal addresses much the way a magician might perform the trick of hiding a pea in a shell. The Clean Slate project is taking that idea further, essentially creating software that constantly shape-shifts to elude would-be attackers.
That the Internet enables almost any computer in the world to connect directly to any other makes it possible for an attacker who identifies a single vulnerability to almost instantly compromise a vast number of systems.
But borrowing from another science, Dr. Neumann notes that biological systems have multiple immune systems — not only are there initial barriers, but a second system consisting of sentinels like T cells has the ability to detect and eliminate intruders and then remember them to provide protection in the future.
In contrast, today’s computer and network systems were largely designed with security as an afterthought, if at all.
One design approach that Dr. Neumann’s research team is pursuing is known as a tagged architecture. In effect, each piece of data in the experimental system must carry “credentials” — an encryption code that ensures that it is one that the system trusts. If the data or program’s papers are not in order, the computer won’t process them.
A related approach is called a capability architecture, which requires every software object in the system to carry special information that describes its access rights on the computer, which is checked by a special part of the processor.
For Dr. Neumann, one of the most frustrating parts of the process is seeing problems that were solved technically as long ago as four decades still plague the computer world.
A classic example is “buffer overflow” vulnerability, a design flaw that permits an attacker to send a file with a long string of characters that will overrun an area of a computer’s memory, causing the program to fail and make it possible for the intruder to execute a malicious program.
Almost 25 years ago, Robert Tappan Morris, then a graduate student at Cornell University, used the technique to make his worm program spread throughout an Internet that was then composed of about only 50,000 computers.
Dr. Neumann had attended Harvard with Robert Morris, Robert Tappan Morris’s father, and then worked with him at Bell Laboratories in the 1960s and 1970s, where the elder Mr. Morris was one of the inventors of the Unix operating system. Dr. Neumann, a close family friend, was prepared to testify at the trial of the young programmer, who carried out his hacking stunt with no real malicious intent. He was convicted and fined, and is now a professor at M.I.T.
At the time that the Morris Worm had run amok on the Internet, the buffer overflow flaw had already been known about and controlled in the Multics operating system research project, which Dr. Neumann helped lead from 1965 to 1969.
An early Pentagon-financed design effort, Multics was the first systematic attempt to grapple with how to secure computer resources that are shared by many users. Yet many of the Multics innovations were ignored at the time because I.B.M. mainframes were quickly coming to dominate the industry.
Hope and Worry
The experience left Dr. Neumann — who had coined the term “Unics” to describe a programming effort by Ken Thompson that would lead to the modern Unix operating system — simultaneously pessimistic and optimistic about the industry’s future.
“I’m fundamentally an optimist with regard to what we can do with research,” he said. “I’m fundamentally a pessimist with respect to what corporations who are fundamentally beholden to their stockholders do, because they’re always working on short-term appearance.”
That dichotomy can be seen in the Association of Computing Machinery Risks Forumnewsgroup, a collection of e-mails reporting computer failures and foibles that Dr. Neumann has edited since 1985. With hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions, of followers, it is one of the most widely read mailing lists on the Internet — an evolving compendium of computer failures, flaws and privacy issues that he has maintained and annotated with wry comments and the occasional pun. In 1995 the list became the basis for his book “Computer-Related Risks” (Addison-Wesley/ACM Press).
While the Risks list is a reflection of Dr. Neumann’s personality, it also displays his longtime interest in electronic privacy. He is deeply involved in the technology issues surrounding electronic voting — he likes to quote Stalin on the risks:, “It’s not who votes that counts, it’s who counts the votes” — and has testified, served on panels and written widely on the subject.
Dr. Neumann grew up in New York City, in Greenwich Village, but his family moved to Rye, N.Y., where he attended high school. J. B. Neumann, Dr. Neumann’s father, was a noted art dealer, first in Germany and then in New York, where he opened the New Art Circle gallery after moving to the United States in 1923. Dr. Neumann recalls his father’s tale of eating in a restaurant in Munich, where he had a gallery, and finding that he was seated next to Hitler and some of his Nazi associates. He left the country for the United States soon afterward.
His mother, Elsa Schmid Neumann, was an artist. His two-hour breakfast with Einstein took place because she had been commissioned to create a colorful mosaic of Einstein and had become friendly with him. The mosaic is now displayed in a reference reading room in the main library at Boston University.
Dr. Neumann’s college conversation was the start of a lifelong romance with both the beauty and the perils of complexity, something that Einstein hinted at during their breakfast.
“What do you think of Johannes Brahms?” Dr. Neumann asked the physicist.
“I have never understood Brahms,” Einstein replied. “I believe Brahms was burning the midnight oil trying to be complicated.”

2012年10月26日 星期五

中国、16個目の測位衛星打ち上げ 来年にはGPS対抗

 

 

Aging U.S. Satellite Fleet May Impair Weather Forecasts

WASHINGTON — The United States is facing a year or more without crucial satellites that help predict storm tracks, a result of years of mismanagement and underfunding.
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中国、16個目の測位衛星打ち上げ 来年にはGPS対抗

 【北京=香取啓介】中国国営新華社通信によると、25日深夜(日本時間26日未明)、中国が独自開発した衛星測位システム「コンパス」用の測位衛星「北斗」を四川省の西昌衛星発射センターから、ロケット「長征3号C」で打ち上げた。
 北斗の打ち上げは16個目で、予定軌道への投入も成功。アジア太平洋地域の大部分をカバーすることになり、来年初めからサービスを正式に始める。
 コンパスは米の全地球測位システム(GPS)に対抗して開発されたもの。すでに試験運用を始めており、すべての漁業監視船に搭載されているという。2020年ごろまでに30基あまりを打ち上げて地球規模をカバーするシステムを完成させるとしている。



2012年10月24日 星期三

Apple Touch-Screen Claims Rejected in U.S.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office took a first step in rejecting Apple Inc.'s patent claims on a touch-screen "bounce back" feature, a decision that could help Samsung Electronics Co. in its fight against a $1 billion patent infringement verdict.
According to a document on the patent office website, the office re-examined Apple's "rubber banding" patent and rejected all 20 claims in the decision. The office cited documents predating Apple's patent indicating that the feature lacked novelty. Rubber banding refers to the way a smartphone display bounces back once a user has scrolled to the bottom of a document. ...專利大戰 美初判蘋果彈回專利無效

美國專利官員初裁蘋果觸控螢幕的「彈回」功能專利無效,有利非蘋陣營進行中訴訟。圖為蘋果iPhone 4s(左)與三星Galaxy S3手機。 (法新社)
〔編 譯楊芙宜/綜合報導〕美國專利商標辦公室重審蘋果觸控螢幕彈回功能專利,初判認定蘋果關於「橡皮筋效果」專利的二十個技術項目無效,這不僅有助於三星推翻 先前美國法院的侵權判決與十.五億美元裁罰,對宏達電在內非蘋陣營廠商與蘋果間的全球專利官司,同為一大利多,有助從訴訟中脫身。

荷蘭海牙官司 蘋果也輸
此 外,蘋果也輸掉在荷蘭海牙與三星的專利官司。海牙法官卜洛克(Peter Blok)週三宣判,三星應用Andorid作業系統版本的Galaxy行動裝置產品,並未侵犯蘋果多點觸控手勢相關專利。蘋果原指控三星侵犯其一項解析 手指在螢幕上活動的技術專利。這項最新訴訟結果遵循在英、德法院所做的類似裁決,為非蘋陣營訴訟再添勝績。

根據美國專利商標辦公室週一張貼 在網站上文件,專利官員十月十五日重新審查蘋果的「滾動捲軸過頭自動彈回」(overscroll bounce),也被稱為「橡皮筋效果」(rubber-banding)專利技術,初步裁定否決蘋果所有相關二十項專利項目有效性,主因它不是新技術。
橡皮筋效果 不是新技術

蘋果所謂的「橡皮筋效果」專利,是讓使用者在瀏覽智慧手機畫面時,滾動拉拖文件檔案到邊緣時,放手後電子畫面呈現自動「彈回」效果。

美國專利商標辦公室援引早於蘋果專利文件,認定蘋果此專利功能缺乏「新意」,該項創意先前已有人發明,只是當初設計並非在手指觸控螢幕上。但這項裁定並非「最終」結果,蘋果仍可在終裁前回應、終裁後可向專利辦公室委員會與法院提出上訴。

針對此項專利無效初裁,蘋果代表並未立即回應媒體詢問。三星隨即向加州聖荷西法院提交上述初裁結果與說明,希望主審法官高蘭惠推翻陪審團裁決。此外,三星對本案也提出上訴。
另外,蘋果向美國國際貿易委員會(ITC)第二次控告宏達電侵權的四項專利,其中也包括被認定無效的橡皮筋效果專利。ITC原訂十一月七日的初判,已延後至十一月二十七日宣布。

10.5億美元官司 三星利多
三星在八月下旬美國加州的專利訴訟中敗訴,陪審團裁決三星侵犯蘋果六項專利、必須賠償十.五億美元,其中就包括此一甫遭認定無效的橡皮筋效果專利。

美國波士頓大學法學院講師貝森(James E. Bessen)認為,一旦蘋果對專利無效的挑戰失敗,這恐導致十.五億美元侵權賠償被撤銷,並強化三星與蘋果和解談判籌碼。

去年通過的「美國發明法」加強事後審核流程,適用於去年九月十六日以後提交的重新評估申請。專家認為,新法規恐促使美國法院等到專利商標辦公室對專利有效性完成最終評估後,再對相關案件進行裁判。

前美國專利官員、現任杜克大學法學院教授萊阿迪(Arti Rai)說,這可望成為遏止現有專利問題的重要方法。

應用Google行動裝置作業系統的Android陣營已向美國專利商標辦公室提出申請,希望重新審查蘋果的其他智慧手機專利。

2012年10月23日 星期二

義大利科學家預測地震失準"判刑"

意大利科学家因地震预告“不准”获刑


 
意大利一家法院判处6名意大利科学家及1名政府官员6年监禁,理由是他们在拉奎拉市于2009年遭地震摧毁的几天前,向该市提供了有问题的信息。拉奎拉地震造成309人遇难。

地区法院独任法官马尔科•比利(Marco Billi)昨日判决,这7名专家犯有多项过失杀人罪。判决之前的审判曾受到国际社会的谴责和警告,国际社会称,未来科学界将不敢公开谈论何处可能发生地震。

辩护律师称,准确预测地震是不可能的。但上述法官表示,国家重大风险预测及防范委员会的这7名成员在2009年3月31日的会议之后,提供了“不准确、不完整和自相矛盾”的信息。拉奎拉地震发生前的数月里,意大利中部的这个地区曾发生多次轻微地震,部分建筑出现裂缝。

那次会议的一周之后,也就是2009年4月6日,拉奎拉及附近村庄发生里氏6.3级的毁灭性地震,导致6.5万人无家可归,并摧毁了这座中世纪城市的市中心。

意大利全国地质学家协会主席吉安维托•格拉齐亚诺(Gianvito Graziano)表示,这项判决的出台,把尚无法准确预测地震的整个科学界都被推上了被告席。

时任意大利国家民事保护局副局长、现任政府研究机构“环境保护研究所”(Ispra)所长的贝尔纳多•德贝尔纳迪尼斯(Bernardo De Bernadinis)是上述7名被告之一,他的辩护律师菲利波•迪纳奇(Filippo Dinacci)表示,这项判决将对公共管理造成不良影响。迪纳奇警告称:“没人愿意再做任何事情了。”这7名被告很可能会就这项判决提出上诉,在上诉期 内,他们不大可能被送进监狱。包括美国地球物理学会(American Geophysical Union)及美国科学促进会(American Association for the Advancement of Science)在内的国际地震学界,此前就对这起控告提出过批评。5000多名科学家还签署了一封致意大利总统乔治•纳波利塔诺(Giorgio Napolitano)的公开信,对7名被告予以支持。

控方称,7名专家在会议后发布的安抚性声明,误导人们错误地认为没有必要采取预防措施,结果导致更多人遇难。遇难者家属表示,虽然拉奎拉历史上就曾发生过大地震,但他们听信了国家重大风险预测及防范委员会的调研结果,没有从家中撤出。

意大利调查人员已发起另一项调查,以查明为什么相对现代的建筑(包括本应抗震的学生宿舍)会倒塌,以及为什么在最初的几次轻微地震导致建筑出现裂缝后,学生却没有撤出。
译者/倪卫国

2012年10月22日 星期一

多國政府用間諜軟件監控異議分子

多國政府用間諜軟件監控異議分子


本周,華盛頓一年一度的美洲世界情報支持系統展覽(ISS World Americas)上,來自世界各地的執法人員將了解到電腦間諜軟件的最新進展。但他們不會了解到的是,在某些情況下,強權政府使用此類軟件來密切監視政治活動人士。
英國漢普郡的伽馬集團(Gamma Group)以及米蘭的黑客團隊公司(Hacking Team)的高管們本周四將逐一登台介紹他們最新的監控技術。這兩家公司都向政府出售間諜軟件,並稱其將專門用於刑事偵查。但越來越多的證據表明,他們的間諜軟件已經被用來監控異議人士。
今年8月《紐約時報》的一篇文章報道,由伽馬集團出售的間諜軟件被用於監視巴林的活動人士,以及在十多個國家中通過服務器暗中監視民眾。這些國家很多有值得質疑的人權記錄,例如汶萊和土庫曼斯坦。起初,伽馬集團否認其軟件正在以這種形式被使用,隨後又稱其間諜軟件的幾份拷貝被盜竊了。 

摩根·馬奎斯-博伊爾(Morgan Marquis-Boire)是首先從發給巴林活動人士的電子郵件中發現伽馬間諜軟件的安全研究人員之一。周三,他發佈了新的證據,證明黑客團隊銷售的間諜軟件也被用於監控政治活動人士。

這種間諜軟件,將為那些此前不具備電腦監視程序的政府提供一種尖端的、即插即用式的監控技術,可以用來跟蹤公民的位置,記錄下他們的每一次按鍵動作,閱讀他們的電子郵件和社交網絡及即時通訊軟件聊天,甚至在遠程打開設備上的照相機或麥克風來記錄他們的談話。
TeleStrategies公司總裁傑里·盧卡斯(Jerry Lucas)在今年8月告訴《紐約時報》,這種技術的市場“10年前還不存在”,但現在已經發展到營業額50億美元的規模。該公司是世界情報支持系統展覽的主辦方。

馬奎斯-博伊爾是多倫多大學蒙克全球事務學院(Munk School of Global Affairs)公民實驗室(Citizen Lab)的一名安全研究員。在最近的研究中,他說已經發現黑客團隊的政府級間諜軟件被放在一個微軟Word格式的附件里,發送給了阿拉伯聯合酋長國一名政治活動人士,還被嵌入了一個發在摩洛哥某新聞網站上的鏈接。

黑客團隊財務部門的一名員工說,他不知道馬奎斯-博伊爾的發現,並說,該公司的高管們在周三不能接受採訪。

阿聯酋一位活躍的博客作者艾哈邁德·曼蘇爾(Ahmed Mansoor)是“阿聯酋五君子”(U.A.E. Five)的成員之一。“阿聯酋五君子”是阿聯酋幾名活動人士組成的小團體,團體成員去年曾因批評政府領導人而被捕。今年7月,當曼蘇爾打開一封可疑電子郵件的微軟Word格式附件時,其中的間諜軟件就安裝在了他的電腦裡面。該軟件可以監控他的每一次按鍵動作,記錄他的密碼,社會網絡和即時通訊軟件的聊天,甚至通過他電腦麥克風的語言談話。曼蘇爾告訴彭博通訊社(Bloomberg),因為這個無心的錯誤——點開了一封惡意電子郵件的附件,他莫名其妙地遭到了一群不明身份的人毆打。

同樣在7月,一條可疑的信息被發佈到Mamkafinch.com的提交頁面上,這是一個摩洛哥新聞網站,一直對摩洛哥政府持批評態度。這條消息由法語發佈,其含義大致為,“請不要提到我的名字或我做的任何事情。我不想要任何惡作劇。”此外還有一個鏈接,如果誰去打開,這個人的設備就會被控制。

馬奎斯-博伊爾說,他已經發現,電子郵件附件和惡意鏈接所隱藏的監控軟件與黑客團隊的示範間諜軟件一致。該公司對這種軟件的宣傳是這樣的,“遠程控制系統(Remote Control System)是一件秘密偵查工具,可用於執法和安保機構的數字化調查。這種竊聽軟件可以隱藏在目標設備中,提供高效的數據監控和過程控制。”

在曼蘇爾的事件中,到今年8月份為止,這個用於竊聽的間諜軟件來自一個服務器,這個服務器註冊在阿布扎比的一個郵政信箱,與一家阿聯酋集團公司皇家集團(Royal Group)的公司總部一致。在Mamkafinch網站的事件中,間諜軟件由摩洛哥首都拉巴特的一個IP地址控制。
記者無法聯繫上皇家集團公司的高管進行採訪。摩洛哥駐紐約領事館的一名代表也沒有回應記者的採訪要求。

馬奎斯-博伊爾的新發現的公布,正好在伽馬集團和黑客團隊的高管們將在世界情報支持系統展覽登台的前一天。周四,伽馬集團董事總經理馬丁·J·明奇(Martin J. Muench)的講話題為《政府信息技術入侵:政府實用黑客技術》(Government I.T. Intrusion: Applied Hacking Techniques Used by Governments)。在他演講後,三名黑客團隊的高管將介紹他們最新的政府級監視技術。

馬奎斯-博伊爾說他發佈此發現的時機是一次巧合。在本周二的一次採訪中他說,“這些公司說,他們只把這種間諜軟件出售給政府和情報及執法機關,但重點在於,‘了解你的客戶’。”
翻譯:林蒙克


Windows 8 悲歌? Rediscovery of Sillem's Mountain Finch


褐頭嶺雀(Leucosticte sillemi)自1929年在新疆首度被德國鳥類學家發現後,迄今未再現身,一直到今年6月,一名法國自然攝影師意外地在西藏發現這種罕見鳥類,並拍下 照片,兩次發現的地點距離1500公里。經由專家認定,確定是消失80年的褐頭嶺雀。褐頭嶺雀體型與麻雀相若,身體灰白色,頭則是黃褐色。

Rediscovery of Sillem's Mountain Finch

Male Sillem's Mountain Finch
Sillem's Mountain Finch Leucosticte sillemi is a species known only from two specimens collected by Dutch explorer Jérôme Alexander Sillem during the Netherlands Karakoram Expedition in 1929 from Kushku Maidan, a barren plateau in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in western China, at an altitude of 5125m. One bird is a worn adult male, and the other a juvenile male with wings not yet fully grown (implying that the species bred in the area).
Both specimens languished in a mixed drawer of Leucosticte and Montifringilla finches in the collection of the Zoological Museum of Amsterdam, labelled as Brandt's Mountain Finch L. brandti, until Prof. C. S. Roselaar noticed in 1991 that they did not match the other specimens in the drawer. A comparison with 400 specimens of L. brandti established that the birds represented a new species; in particular, the grey-fringed flight feathers, tawny-cinnamon head and neck, and an absence of black on the lores and forehead all serve to separate it from Brandt's Mountain Finch. In addition, the juvenile is heavily streaked above, unlike any juvenile Brandt's. He named the new species L. sillemi in a paper in the Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club in 1992.
OrientalBirdImages.org has photographs of the type specimens, kindly contributed by Prof. Roselaar.

Rediscovery in Qinghai in 2012

In early June 2012, Yann Muzika photographed many finches during a difficult trek in Yenigou Valley in western Qinghai, China (1500km east of Kushku Maidan), including one he could not identify. In August, he sent a batch of photographs to Krys Kazmierczak, the maintainer of OrientalBirdImages.org, who immediately identified the mystery bird as the long-lost Sillem's Mountain Finch. The identity of the birds has been confirmed by various experts, including Prof. Roselaar. Upon studying the remaining photographs, some images of what appear to be the female (hitherto unknown) were also found.
A presumed female Sillem's Mountain Finch. The female was hitherto unknown.
Presumed female Sillem's Mountain Finch
Prof. Roselaar's paper describing the species speculates that, unlike other Leucosticte finches (in which the sexes are identical), the heavy streaking on the juvenile suggests that the adult female Sillem's Mountain Finch may look different from the male (which calls its taxonomy into question). Yann's photographs confirm this guess.
Click the photographs above for larger versions, or visit Yann's blog for an account of the rediscovery and more photographs (including some comparisons with Kozlowia roborowskii and Leucosticte brandti).
Further research is needed, which may include trapping the bird for measurements and close-up examination, as well as possibly procuring a blood sample for DNA analysis. The decision to make this news public at this stage was taken in order to encourage visitors to the remoter areas of the Tibetan plateau to look out for the species, so that we may learn more about its distribution and habitat requirements and endeavour to ensure that it continues to survive.

References

Sillem's Mountain Finch (Leucosticte Sillemi)

 

A rare and strange bird

Only two specimens have ever been sighted of this little bird. And the man who observed and caught the two Mountain Finches was a Dutchman named Jerôme Alexander Sillem (1902-1986) who was to become the director of the Amsterdam bank Mees & Hope NV later. As a 27 year old he participated in an expedition in Asia. He had discovered the two birds on the Western Plateau in Tibet at an altitude of 5000 m (or 15,000 feet). Experts assume that Sillem's Mountain Finch is a bisexual species as it has some similitaries with another species called Leucosticte brandti pallidior that in fact embraces two genders. Thus the bearers of our name would be something really exceptional in the realm of nature!

When Jerôme Alexander discovered the birds a snow-storm was approaching. Probably, the birds had been driven down by the weather from even greater altitudes of the Tibetan Plateau. As the wing of the juvenile was not yet full-grown, it is unlikely that they had travelled far in horizontal direction. Their appearance is rather inconspicuous, pale and not very attractive. A personal impression can be gained at a visit to the zoological museum in Amsterdam where the bodies are kept (see link below). Rump and underparts are grey-white, with a slight buff tinge on the breast, the ground-colours of the flight-feathers are drab-grey. The tail is relatively short, and the bill is slender.
 





 
This is the Leucosticte Sillemi, the Sillemfinch, in a reconstruction drawing made by W. Maas in 1993 as an illustration to ta publication on thebird (supplied by Caroline Sillem).


 


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Windows 8的上市,是微軟17年以來規模最大的產品上市計劃,執行長史帝夫‧鮑曼(Steve Ballmer)曾信心滿滿地宣稱,「Windows 8的推出將為微軟開啟新紀元。」英國《金融時報》報導,微軟砸下了10億美元的行銷預算,為Windows 8宣傳造勢。多家電腦大廠也趁勢推出搭載Windows 8的筆記型電腦、超薄筆電、平板電腦。
但是,分析師們卻是看壞Windows 8的銷售。
根據研究機構IHS iSuppli預估,Windows作業系統在所有電腦裝置市場(包括智慧型手機、平板電腦、個人電腦)的市佔率,將從2011年的44%,下滑至2016年的32%。多位產業分析師認為,Windows 8完全無助於個人電腦的銷售。
分 析師不看好的最大主因在於,Windows 8的使用介面和過去Windows系統完全不同,因此必定存在「學習曲線」,這是過去10多年來,使用者首次必須重新學習Windows作業系統。此外, 美國《財星》雜誌引述研究機構Gartner的分析表示,雖然Windows 8有平板電腦和桌上型電腦兩種版本,但是它最初設計是以觸控式螢幕為主要考量,一旦轉換至必須使用滑鼠與鍵盤的桌上型電腦版本,使用經驗仍有些許的不順 暢。
因此,一般預料個人電腦使用者更換Windows 8的意願將偏低。對於企業客戶而言,目前也沒有急迫性,必須立即更新至Windows 8。再加上過去Windwos Vista的失敗經驗,也讓使用者不敢貿然更新。
Gartner 預估,Windows 8上市第一年的銷量將比Windows 7減少6%。而且,Windows 7仍將持續熱銷至2014年。Gartner表示,明年搭載Windows 7的個人電腦銷售量預計將有1.68億台;反觀2009年10月推出Windows 7之後,搭載Windows Vista的個人電腦銷量僅有5,300萬台。
另一個影響Windows 8銷售因素的是硬體價格。
以搭載Windows 8的超薄型電腦為例,宏碁推出的S7系列,13.3吋、擁有觸控功能的售價為1,400美元(約台幣42,000元),比蘋果的MacBook Air貴了200 美元,也比谷歌最新推出、由三星生產的Chromebook超薄筆電(249美元;約台幣7,500元)要貴許多。


再看看平板電腦,微軟最近公布了自家平板電腦Surface的價格,以32GB為例,若沒有附上具觸控鍵盤功能的保護蓋,價格為499美元,若有附 上保護蓋,價格為599美元,與32GB的iPad價格相同,沒有特別便宜,更比谷歌的平板電腦Nexus 7(199美元)要貴。
不過, 仍有不少電腦大廠樂觀看待,期望Windows 8的上市能推升電腦的銷售。根據巴克萊銀行的統計數據,今年9月份亞洲電腦大廠的筆電出貨量成長了25%,是過往9月份的兩倍之多。此外,英特爾也表示, 未來幾個月,將有多達140多款使用英特爾晶片的筆電上市,其中有超過40款具有觸控螢幕功能。
Windows 8跨平台的應用,也促使多家電腦大廠推出筆電與平板電腦二合一的創新機種,包括華碩、索尼與聯想等廠商。(吳凱琳編譯)

被災地の犬も心に傷 ホルモン値から判断

《中日對照讀新聞》被災地の犬も心に傷 ホルモン値から判断─災區的狗狗也有心理創傷 從荷爾蒙值判斷

◎林翠儀
東日本大震災の被災地で保護されたペットの犬も、 強いストレスを感じ、心に傷を負っていたことが麻布大獣医学部のチームの研究でわかった。ストレスの度合いを示すホルモンの数値が高く、学習能力が低下し たり、世話をする人への愛着行動があまり見られなくなったりしているという。
日本東北大地震災區被收容的寵物狗,也因為感受到強烈壓力,造成心理創傷一事,經麻布大學獸醫系團隊研究後發現。(這些狗狗)顯示壓力程度的荷爾蒙數值偏高、學習能力降低,對於照顧牠們的人,也不常表現出親暱行為。
チー ムは、被災地で保護した犬と、震災前に神奈川県の保護施設から引き取った犬計25匹を比較した。被災地の犬はストレスの指標になる尿中のコルチゾール値が 5~10倍高く、調査から10週間たった時点でもその傾向が続いていた。教えたしぐさの覚えが悪かったり、人にすり寄るなどの愛着行動が少なくなったりす る傾向があったという。
研究團隊以收容自災區的狗狗,和震災前從神奈川縣收容中心收養的狗狗共25隻進行比較。災區的狗狗們,被視為壓力 指標的尿中皮質醇數值高約5到10倍,從調查開始到第10週的時間點上,仍繼續維持這種傾向。牠們出現難以學會人類教導的動作,以及貼近人類等親暱行為也 很少見等現象。
麻布大獣医学部動物応用科学科の茂木一孝准教授は「震災で人とのきずなが突然切られ、社会の混乱状況に置かれることで、ペットの犬はより大きな心の傷を負うことが分かった。人と暮らす犬が人の社会に溶け込んで生きていることを裏付けている」と話す。
麻布大學獸醫系動物應用科學科茂木一孝副教授指出「因為震災突然切斷與人類的連繫,被棄置在社會的混亂狀況下,讓寵物狗受到很大的心理創傷。此事也證明,與人類共同生活的狗狗,融入人類社會生存的這件事。」


新聞辭典
負う(おう):背、背負、負責、擔負、承擔、負傷
例:長野(ながの)市中心部(しちゅうしんぶ)など各地(かくち)でクマが目撃(もくげき)されており、複数(ふくすう)の住民(じゅうみん)がけがを負う被害(ひがい)も発生(はっせい)。(包括長野的市中心等地目擊熊的蹤跡,也發生多位居民受傷的被害案例。)
すり寄る(すりよる):貼近、挪近、湊近、靠攏
例:選挙(せんきょ)に勝(か)つために、政治家(せいじか)は有力(ゆうりょく)な政党(せいとう)にすり寄ることが多(おお)い。(為了勝選,政治家選擇有力政黨靠攏的情況不勝枚舉。)
漢字を読みましょう
傷(きず)/保護(ほご)/度合い(どあい)/学習(がくしゅう)/世話(せわ)/愛着(あいちゃく)/指標(しひょう)/混乱(こんらん)/時点(じてん)

2012年10月15日 星期一

Touchcode,Place the ticket on a screen and you're at a concert.

A Simpler Way to Connect the Physical With the Virtual

image

Place the ticket on a screen and you're at a concert.



More and more, our smartphones and tablets help us link the physical world with the online world. One example: QR codes, those bar codes that have become common in advertising, marketing and retailing. With a click of your smartphone camera, they link you to online information, deals or services related to the product or promotion they appear on.

The Winners

More in Technology Innovation Awards

Printechnologics GmbH of Chemnitz, Germany, is the Gold winner in this year's Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Awards for technology that makes that kind of connection even simpler.

The technology, called Touchcode, enables publishers, consumer-product companies, event promoters and others to include invisible codes on printed items that can be read instantly on any device with a touch screen. The codes can link to videos, games, recipes or just about any other online feature; a concert ticket printed with Touchcode could take you to a clip of the performer singing, for instance.
Quicker and Safer
The technology has a couple of advantages over QR codes, chiefly its simplicity. A user only needs to place the printed item on the screen of a tablet or smartphone—or place the screen on the item—and the invisible code immediately connects to the online content. No need to summon your device's camera and snap a shot of a bar code.

"It does look very novel," says William Webb, chief technology officer of the U.K. start-up Neul and an Innovation Awards judge. "Much simpler than using a camera."
Touchcode—which also took the top spot in the Innovation Awards' Wireless category—has another edge over QR codes: security. For one thing, the black-and-white patterns of a QR code are easy to reproduce by photocopying, which can be a problem for codes that are used to make payments—for instance, a technology similar to QR codes is used on train tickets in Germany, so ID is required to prevent fraud. Since Touchcodes are invisible, that's not an issue for them.

Also, QR codes can be used by scammers to direct you to websites that will plant malicious software on your mobile device—what seems to be a discount voucher from a well-known brand, for instance, can lead the user into trouble. Touchcode foils that kind of attack because all the content that it links users to sits on Printechnologics servers, so users can't be misdirected on the Web.

Touchcode also is cheaper than radio frequency identification, or RFID, codes, which are used for some of the same purposes as QR codes. "We are positioning ourselves between pricey RFID chips and QR codes," says Sascha Voigt, Printechnologics' founder and chief executive.
It's Out There
Printechnologics, which specializes in printed electronic circuitry, developed an earlier version of the technology that required a special reading device. To create Touchcode, it devised a way to print codes using a material that can be recognized by multitouch screens much in the same way that the screens can be triggered by human fingers.
The company has begun licensing the technology, which it introduced last year. German media company Axel Springer AG recently inserted a Touchcode card in the Icon magazine that is distributed with the publisher's Sunday newspaper, Welt am Sonntag. The card allowed users to download the latest iPad version of the magazine at no cost.
Darlene J.S. Solomon, chief technology officer at Agilent Technologies and an Innovation Awards judge, says that while it isn't clear how easy it is for companies to use Touchcode technology for their printed materials, "we thought this could really move the needle."
—Stephan Dörner

連水池、王宜凡涉嫌

友達2前主管 涉竊面板機密給中國


〔記 者林慶川、陳梅英、蔡彰盛/綜合報導〕國內面板業爆發重大商業機密外洩中國案!友達光電公司顯示器開發中心最高主管連水池、OLED技術處經理王宜凡涉嫌 「帶槍投靠敵營」,在中國TCL集團旗下的華星光電以百萬美元高薪利誘下,不但跳槽,還涉嫌將友達全球唯二的「AMOLED技術」等關鍵文件洩漏給對岸, 調查局據報後,日前趁兩人返台時,依涉違反刑法「利用電腦設備洩漏工商秘密」等罪嫌將兩人逮捕。

AMOLED(主動式矩陣有機發光顯示器)具有色彩更豔麗、更輕薄及低耗能等特性,全球目前只有韓國三星能大量供應小尺寸此類面板,主要應用在韓系手機上,而友達光電預計今年第三季量產。

連、 王兩人去年九月先後離職,理由為「返鄉繼承家業」,友達忍痛放人;但今年初起,兩人昔日同事紛接到其電話,詢問有無意願到中國發展,有人因此被挖角,友達 才發現,兩人是跳槽中國面板大廠,一人更在離職後一週內即赴對岸任職;其中,連擔任中國TCL集團工業研究院副院長,王則為華星光電AMOLED開發部長。

下載機密 再以軟體清除紀錄
友達認為事有蹊蹺,全面清 查兩人任職期間的下載紀錄及公務郵件系統,赫然發現時任資深協理、具有下載權限(協理級以上的公務電腦才有USB孔)的連水池,涉嫌有計畫性下載包括公司 的「AMOLED影像品質最佳化(低色偏)產品技術」、「高穿透率產品技術」、「高對比度/高畫質產品技術」、「四道光罩(4MASK)製造技術」等機密 文件,之後並以軟體清除下載紀錄。

而沒有下載權限的王宜凡,則在去年五至九月間,以十多封公務電子郵件將部分面板文件資料,傳至私人信箱後,再下載帶走。

此外,友達也在公務郵件系統中發現一封中國華星光電執行副總陳立宜寫給連水池的信,因此今年四月間向調查局報案。

調 查局台北市調查處中正站經查發現,這些面板技術都是國科會認定的「敏感技術」,也是經濟部公告「在大陸地區從事投資或技術合作禁止類製造業產品項目」,而 此面板關鍵技術外流,將削弱我國面板產業在全球的競爭優勢,更嚴重影響國家利益,因此認為兩人行為已涉違反刑法第三一七條及三一八條之二的「利用電腦設備 洩漏工商秘密罪」,以及違反兩岸人民關係條例第三十三條第四項等相關規定。

兩人被約談 月初已分別出境
平日都在中國工作的連、王二人,因中秋節在上月二十一日、二十六日先後返台,調查局立即報請新竹地檢署檢察官洪裕翔指揮偵辦,除先後約談兩人外,還搜索連位於新竹市大學路的住處,查扣筆記型電腦,送局本部資通安全處資安鑑識實驗室進行數位鑑定。

據悉,兩人應訊時表示,確有攜帶這些技術文件至中國,但不知是違法行為,檢方訊後諭令限制出境;由於查扣證據明確,兩人表明會全力配合調查,加上所犯罪名僅可處三年以下有期徒刑,檢察官日前同意解除限制出境,王、連兩人分別在本月三日及七日出境。

友達昨發布聲明指出,這兩位離職主管的行為,不但侵害產業重要研發成果,更嚴重影響產業的公平競爭,友達將捍衛公司創新研發結果與智慧財產權,全力配合法務單位調查,並提供一切必要協助。

2012年10月12日 星期五

2012 諾貝爾化學獎

【2012諾貝爾】2012年諾貝爾獎簡介

翻譯 ∣蔡蘊明譯﹝台大化學系名譽教授﹞
細胞與感知(Cell and Senses)
      我們眼鼻及口中的感官擁有對光嗅或味的感測器。在人體內,細胞具有類似的感測器來探知荷爾蒙以及各種訊號物質,常知的有腎上腺素(adrenalin)血清素(serotonin)組織胺(histamine)與多巴胺(dopamine)。當生命在演化時,細胞不斷的利用同樣的基本機制來讀取它們的環境:但是負責感測的主角─G-蛋白偶聯受體(G-protein coupled receptors)多年來卻隱藏在研究者未知之處。
      如果你工作到很晚,月亮已高懸夜空,你正從偏僻的公車站走回家。你突然聽見後方傳來的腳步聲,聲音快速的迫近。「沒什麼好擔心的。」你告訴自己:「不過是另一個被操到太晚的員工罷了。」但是,一種毛骨悚然的感覺油然而升,有人似乎迫近到了你身後…
      你立刻拔腿向家門狂奔,打開前門的鎖時,你整個身體都在顫抖,心在狂跳,而且不斷大力的喘息。
      當你的眼睛瞥到迫近的黑影時,整個身體已經轉換到逃跑的模式(圖1)。腦部傳來的神經訊號傳給了身體一個初步的警訊。腦下腺將激素(或 稱荷爾蒙)釋放到血流中,被喚醒的腎上腺開始湧出皮質醇(cortisol,或稱可體松)、腎上腺素以及去甲基腎上腺素(noradrenalin,又稱 正腎上腺素)。這些物質發布了第二次的警告:應該是拔腳而逃的時機了!脂肪細胞、肌肉細胞、肝、心臟、肺以及血管全部立即反應,血管內湧入了糖與脂肪,氣管擴張,心跳加快 — 這些都可讓你的肌肉獲得能量與氧氣,目標在使你跑得愈快愈好,以便救命。
      一個人的體內,有數十億計的細胞相互作用,它們大部分各自發展出了不同的角色。有些儲存脂肪,有些產生視覺,又有的產生激素或製造肌肉組織…。為了能讓身體適當運作,非常重要的是細胞必須和協運作。要能感知環境,而且認知道周遭發生的事情,身體就需要感知器。
      位於細胞表面的感知器稱為受體 (receptors),美國杜克大學(Duke University)的羅伯雷柯維茲(Robert J. Lefkowitz)與史丹福大學的布萊恩柯比卡Brian K. Kobilka 二人因為釐清了一類被稱為G-蛋白偶聯受體家族(簡稱GPCRs)的物質及其在體內的運作,共享今年(2012)諾貝爾化學獎的桂冠。在這個龐大的生化物 質家族中,包括了腎上腺素、多巴胺、血清素、光線、口味與嗅覺等…的受體物質。許多的生理作用大都與GPCRs有關,大約有一半的藥物例如b-阻斷劑、抗 組織胺以及各種精神藥物等,是透過GPCRs受體物質發揮作用。
了解GPCRs生化運作的知識會大大的造福人類,不過這些受體卻在科學家的眼下藏匿了很久。

那個受體 — 一個隱藏的謎團
      十九世紀末期,科學家們開始實驗腎上腺素對人體的影響時,就發現它會使心跳加速、血壓升高、以及瞳孔舒張。由於他們懷疑腎上腺素是透過 體內的神經來運作,就癱瘓動物來實驗。然而,腎上腺素的作用仍然可以表現。他們當時的結論是:細胞一定具有某種受體,能在其環境中感知一些化學物質—可能 是激素、毒物或藥物。
      但是當研究人員企圖找尋那些受體時,他們卻撞了壁。科學家希望瞭解受體的長像以及它們如何輸送訊號給細胞。當腎上腺素施加於細胞的外側時,會導致細胞內部的代謝發生變化。每一個細胞都有一面外膜壁:就是一層脂肪分子膜將細胞物質與環境區隔。到底訊號是如何穿透這面膜壁的?細胞的內部如何知道外面發生了什麼事?
      有數十年,一直無法找到這些受體。即便如此,科學家們仍發展出了一些藥物能專一的針對這一類受體中的特定類型發揮效果。在1940年 代,美國科學家雷蒙阿爾奎斯特(Raymond Ahlquist)檢驗不同的組織對各種腎上腺素類似的物質如何反應,得到一個結論:一定有兩種不同的腎上腺素受體存在。一種主要讓血管平滑肌細胞收縮, 而另一種主要刺激心臟。他稱這兩種受體為 a 和 b。很快的,科學家們發展出了第一個 b-阻斷劑,那正是我們現在最常使用的心臟藥物之一。
      這種藥物毫無疑問的是在細胞內發生作用,但是它們是如何做到的卻一直成謎。我們現在知道為什麼這些受體是如此難以發現。因為它們的數量 很少,而且大部分被包夾在細胞膜內。又經過了幾十年,甚至於阿爾奎斯特都開始覺得迷失在自己提出的兩個a、b受體理論之中時,他如此記載:「對我而言,它 們像一種抽象概念。是假想出來解釋組織受到不同結構的化學物質刺激時,所觀察到的生理反應」。
      就這1960年代末尾之時,今年的諾貝爾化學獎得主之一,雷柯維茲走進了這些受體的歷史。

將受體誘出它們的藏匿處
      這位年輕的頂尖學生立下了要成為一位心臟病科醫師的目標,不過他在越戰高峰時期畢業,在美國公衛醫療服務體系的一個國家研究機構服役,那就是美國國家衛生研究院。在那裡他所面對的挑戰就是:找出那些受體。
      雷柯維茲的主管已經有一個研究策略,他建議將具有輻射性的碘接在一個激素上。當這個激素結合到一個細胞表面時,碘的輻射線就可以用來追 蹤受體。為了進一步的強化他的論點,雷柯維茲必須證明當這個激素結合在細胞膜壁時,真的會引發細胞內會產生的已知作用。如果能成功展示,就沒有人會質疑他 真的發現了一個具有生物活性的受體。
      雷柯維茲開始研究促進腎上腺皮質的激素,它會刺激腎上腺分泌腎上腺素。然而所有的實驗都失敗了。一年過去,仍然沒有任何進展。雷柯維茲打一開始並沒有對做研究那麼熱衷,現在卻已經開始喪失信心了,他雖然仍持續研究,但同時也夢想著成為一個醫生。
      這個計畫進入了第二年,雷柯維茲終於有了進展。在1970年,他在兩個聲譽卓著的期刊,國家科學院會報(Prceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,PNAS)與科學(Science)發表了幾篇重要論文,他描述發現了一個有效受體。這項成就讓他感受到做研究的興奮,最後他被延攬至北卡羅來納州的杜克大學。他並非特別想去杜大,只是對方給的條件實在好得讓他無法拒絕。
      在嶄新的實驗室裡,雷柯維茲組成自己的研究小組。雖然看起來他可能永遠無法成為一位心臟病科醫師了,但他仍然想要研究心臟的疾病。因 此,他開始把焦點放在腎上腺素與去甲基腎上腺素的受體,它們被稱為腎上腺素激導性受體(adrenergic receptors)。利用輻射性標記的物質,包括了 b-阻斷劑。他的研究小組檢驗了這些受體如何運作,在精細的調整所使用的工具後,他們終於掌握了高超的技巧來取得一系列從生物組織中萃取得到的受體。
      同時,有關細胞內部作用的知識不斷累積,研究者發現了他們稱之為 G-蛋白 (1994年諾貝爾生理醫學獎) 的物質。它會接到受體傳來的訊號而活化,接著G-蛋白開啟一系列的反應,導致細胞代謝的改變。在1980年代初期,科學家們開始瞭解訊號從細胞外面傳遞到 裡面的過程 (圖2)。


基因 — 新看法的一個關鍵
      在1980年代,雷柯維茲決定他的研究小組應該去尋找 b-阻斷劑受體的基因密碼,這項決定應可確定是今年諾貝爾化學獎獲獎的關鍵。一個基因就好像是個藍圖,它包含了一個密碼,能被細胞讀取,依照指示將許多胺 基酸組合製成蛋白質,譬如製造一個蛋白質受體。他的想法是,如果研究小組能分離出負責的基因,並讀取 b-阻斷劑受體的藍圖,他們就可以得到該受體如何運作的線索。
      差不多在同時,雷柯維茲錄用了一位年輕的醫師,布萊恩柯比卡。柯比卡對腎上腺素激導性受體之著迷,來自於醫院加護病房的經驗,一針腎上 腺素可以決定病人的生與死。這個激素可以打開一個腫脹的呼吸系統,並加速心跳。柯比卡想要從腎上腺素的基礎結構細節來研究它的力量來源,也因此加入雷柯維 茲的團隊。
      柯比卡作了基因搜尋。然而,在1980年代想要在人體龐大的基因體內尋找一個特定基因,就好像在大海裡撈針一樣困難。這個在技術上高度 挑戰的計畫因此進展得十分緩慢。不過柯比卡利用了一個很巧妙的想法,使得這個基因終於被分離出來。帶著高度的期待,這些研究者開始分析基因密碼。研究顯示 受體具有七條長而且具油性(疏水性)的螺旋形帶子─稱為螺旋體 (圖3),這暗示了科學家們,這個受體可能繞進和繞出細胞膜七次。
      七次!這與在人體內其它地方已經找到的另一個受體,具有相同數目的帶子以及同樣的螺旋形狀。那就是眼睛視網膜上的視紫質(rhodopsin)光受體。這巧合孕育出一個新的想法:這兩種受體有無可能是相關的,雖然兩者的功能不同?
      雷柯維茲後來描述那才是『真正的發現時刻』(real eureka moment)。他知道這兩種受體都會在細胞內側與G-蛋白作用,他也知道約有30個其它的受體是透過G-蛋白運作。結論是:一定有一個完整的受體家族,長相類似而且運作的方式相同!
      因為這個突破性的發現,謎底一步步的被組合浮現出來。現在科學家們對於GPCRs已經具有詳盡的知識─它們如何運作,以及如何在分子的 層次被調控。雷柯維茲與柯比卡一直站在這整個科學探索工作的最前線。去年,2011年,柯比卡與其研究團隊報導了一項新發現,他們的工作終於讓他們戴上了 桂冠。


腎上腺運作的顯像
      成功的分離出基因後,柯比卡搬到了加州史丹福大學的藥學院,他在那裡開始研究如何取得一個受體的影像:大部分科學界的人認為是不可能的任務 ─ 而對柯比卡來說,那成為了一條漫長的旅途。
      要將一個蛋白質顯像,牽涉到許多複雜的步驟,蛋白質小到無法用普通的電子顯微鏡來觀察,因此科學家們使用一種稱為X-射線結晶學(X- ray crystallography)的方法,他們先培養出一顆蛋白質的晶體,其中蛋白質分子以整齊且具對稱性的模式整齊排列,就好像水分子在冰晶中,或是碳 原子在鑽石中的排列一般。研究者用X-射線照射這個蛋白質晶體,當射線打到蛋白質時發生繞射(diffraction),科學家們可從繞射的圖譜推導出蛋 白質在分子層次的構造與排列。
      歷史上第一個蛋白質晶體的結構圖像是在1950年代產生。從那時開始,科學家們已經利用X-射線將上千的蛋白質顯像。不過它們大都是水 溶性的,使得養晶較為容易。少有研究者能將位於油性細胞膜上的蛋白質單離顯像。在水裡,這類蛋白質就像油難溶於水,而且非常容易形成非晶性的油團。此 外,GPCRs 天生游動性較高。(記得它們是藉著移動來傳遞訊號!)可是在晶體中,GPCRs的分子又幾乎完全靜止,要讓它們單離結晶出來遂成為極大的挑戰。
      柯比卡花了超過二十年的時間去找到這所有問題的解答,要感謝研究者的決心、創意和分子生物實驗的巧手,柯比卡與其研究團隊終於在2011年完成了最終目標:他們得到了一張圖像,顯示受體正在將來自於細胞外激素的訊號,傳到細胞內的G-蛋白 (圖3)。
      這個圖像發表在「自然」期刊上,論文顯示了GPCRs新的細節。例如,當被活化的受體打開一個孔洞,準備與G-蛋白在該處結合時的長像為何(圖4),這種資訊對未來發展新的藥物極為有用。

      人類基因體的按圖索驥,暴露了約有一千個基因是GPCRs 的密碼。大約一半的GPCRs受體接受氣味,並且是嗅覺系統的一部分。約三分之一是激素與訊號物質的受體,像是多巴胺、血清素,前列腺素、升糖素 (glucagon)或組織胺。有一些受體可捕捉進入眼睛的光線,還有一些位於舌頭,給我們味覺。超過百種的受體仍然是科學家的挑戰,它們的功能仍然有待 確認。
      除了發現這些受體的各種變體,跟在雷柯維茲與柯比卡腳步之後的研究者發現它們具有多重功能。一個單一的受體也許可以辨識好幾種細胞外的 激素。此外,它們在細胞內側不僅僅與G-蛋白作用,它們也可與被稱為攫捕酶(arrestins)的蛋白質作用。科學家開始認識到這類受體不見得一定與 G-蛋白偶合,導致科學家們開始稱呼它們為七跨膜蛋白質(7TM),因為它們具有七個螺旋形的帶子繞進繞出細胞膜。
      這些受體的數目和靈活性,賦予細胞為了生命所需,經過精細調控程序而具備的調節能力。我們再回到一開始在公車站逃跑的場景,當血液湧入 了腎上腺素,不同的組織會有不同的反應。流到消化器官的血液減少;同時,流到肌肉的血液增加。腎上腺素的不同效應,有賴於體內至少有九種不同的受體對此一 激素發生反應。某些受體啟動細胞的活動,而另一些則具有鎮定的作用。
      所以下一次你感到害怕時,回味一下美好食物的味道,或是單純的望向天際的星星,想一下你那與G-蛋白偶合的受體。沒有它們,你的細胞將會相互衝突,混亂將控制你的身體。

 全文轉錄自:2012年諾貝爾獎簡介
 本文譯自:諾貝爾化學獎委員會公佈給大眾的新聞稿

2012年10月8日 星期一

John Gurdon, 79, Shinya Yamanaka, 50, win Nobel medicine prize

UK, Japan scientists win Nobel for stem cell breakthroughs


Kyoto University Professor Shinya Yamanaka (L) and John Gurdon of the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge are seen at a symposium on induced pluripotent stem cell in Tokyo, in this photo taken by Kyodo on April 2008. REUTERS-Kyodo
Thomas Perlmann speaks to the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm,October 8, 2012. Briton John Gurdon and Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka won the 2012 Nobel prize for medicine or physiology for research which revolutionised understanding of how cells and organisms develop, the award-giving body said on Monday. REUTERS- Bertil Enevag Ericson-Scanpix Sweden
This undated handout photo shows iPS cells derived from adult human dermal fibroblasts released by Kyoto University Professor Shinya Yamanaka at Center for iPS Cell Research and Application of Kyoto University in Kyoto, western Japan. REUTERS-Center for iPS Cell Research and Application, Kyoto University-Handout
 


































STOCKHOLM | Mon Oct 8, 2012 8:19am EDT
(Reuters) - Scientists from Britain and Japan shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine on Monday for the discovery that adult cells can be reprogrammed back into stem cells which can turn into any kind of tissue and may one day repair damaged organs.
John Gurdon, 79, of the Gurdon Institute in Cambridge, Britain and Shinya Yamanaka, 50, of Kyoto University in Japan, discovered ways to create tissue that would act like embryonic cells, without the need to harvest embryos. They share the $1.2 million prize equally.
"These groundbreaking discoveries have completely changed our view of the development and specialization of cells," the Nobel Assembly at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute said in a statement.
The big hope for stem cells is that they can be used to replace damaged tissues in everything from spinal cord injuries to Parkinson's disease.
All of the tissue in the body starts as stem cells, before developing into mature skin, blood, nerves, muscle and bone.
Scientists once thought it was impossible to turn adult tissue back into stem cells, which meant that new stem cells could only be created by harvesting embryos. But Yamanaka and Gurdon showed that development can be reversed, turning adult cells back into cells that behave like embryos.
With "induced pluripotency stem cells", or iPS cells, ordinary skin or blood cells from adults are transformed back into stem cells which doctors hope will be able to repair damaged organs without being rejected by the immune system.
There are concerns, however, that iPS cells could grow out of control and develop into tumors.
"The eventual aim is to provide replacement cells of all kinds," Gurdon's Institute explains on its website.
"We would like to be able to find a way of obtaining spare heart or brain cells from skin or blood cells. The important point is that the replacement cells need to be from the same individual, to avoid problems of rejection and hence of the need for immunosuppression."
Gurdon discovered in 1962 that the specialization of cells could be reversed. In what the prize committee called "a classic experiment", he replaced the immature cell nucleus in an egg cell of a frog with the nucleus from a mature intestinal cell.
This modified egg cell developed into a normal tadpole, proving that the mature cell still had all the information needed to develop all cells in the frog.
More than 40 years later, in 2006, Yamanaka discovered how intact mature cells in mice could be reprogrammed to become stem cells by adding just a few genes.
"Thanks to these two scientists, we know now that development is not strictly a one-way street," said Thomas Perlmann, Nobel Committee member and professor of Molecular Development Biology at the Karolinska Institute.
"There is lot of promise and excitement, and difficult disorders such as neurodegenerative disorders, like perhaps Alzheimer's and, more likely, Parkinson's disease, are very interesting targets."
(Reporting by Patrick Lannin, Alistair Scrutton, Ben Hirschler, Kate Helland, Kiyoshi Takenaka and Peter Graff; writing by Peter Graff; editing by Philippa Fletcher)