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Radioactive hybrid terror pigs have made themselves a home in Fukushima's exclusion zone

Human resettlement after 2011's nuclear disaster facing opposition from indestructible, betusked interlopers


Scientists have uncovered a new threat to humanity emerging in the area surrounding the former Fukushima nuclear power plant: indestructible radioactive hybrid terror pigs.

The details emerged from studies of how radiation from the partial nuclear meltdown at the plant in 2011 had affected local wildlife, which has in many cases "rewilded" urban areas vacated years ago by populations forced to move out by the threat of radiation following the disaster.

This is a familiar process following large-scale human evacuations and similar rewilding situations occurred in the area surrounding the site of the Chernobyl incident in 1986, despite the efforts of the Soviet authorities to control the animal population.

The NBC-suited boffins working on the project were expecting to find wild boar in the affected zone since they have been reported in former urban areas for some years, having come down from the surrounding mountains to reclaim the towns and cities of the area as their own realm almost as soon as the humans vacated them.

However, the scientists were not prepared for the true prospect that awaited them, as related in a report in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal.

The local wild boar – a subspecies endemic to the region known as the Japanese Boar (aka Sus scrofa leucomystax or the White-Moustached Pig) – having created a fiefdom covering all of the locale vacated by over 160,000 displaced humans, became cocky and aggressive, and also lost their natural wariness.

The marauding boar also began interbreeding with escaped domestic pigs that had made good with their trotters from local farms after their human keepers had been forced to flee. The pigs, for their part, were ill-suited to life in the wild in a radioactive, post-apocalyptic hellscape and presumably threw in their lot with the tough, wily boar as their best chance of survival.

The result was a new kind of boar-pig hybrid that originated in the initial exclusion zone within 20km of the site of the nuclear plant, where radiation levels were presumably highest. The study found that the hybrids did not display any signs of mutation, despite the doses of radiation they were subjected to. Indeed, surveys of the local boar population found they are contaminated by up to 300 times the safe human dosage of the lethal isotope caesium-137 [PDF]. In other words, they are highly radioactive and seemingly virtually indestructible.

These hybrids now comprise up to 10 per cent of the local population, evidently combining the wild-smarts of their boar ancestors with an enjoyment of the finer things which human civilisation can bring, inherited from their domesticated forebears.

This is presumably why humans attempting to reclaim their former settlements in the area around the Fukushima plant for eventual reopening have found it difficult to dislodge the porcine interlopers from their recently taken strongholds. The Fukushima exclusion zones have been gradually lifted in stages since the incident to allow former residents to return.

In some cases the aggressive porkers have refused to give ground and have attacked returning humans, meaning human authorities have been forced to deploy armed assassination teams of hunters to flush them out.

The future of the Fukushima terror pigs is hard to predict. If they had the intelligence to team up and combine into one unstoppable force, an indestructible boar army of that nature would surely be able to overrun the rest of the Japanese archipelago and, The Reg fears, possibly the whole world.

Unfortunately for the boar, although they naturally live in matriarchal groups called sounders, their natural aggression and territorial nature mean that it would be very much out of character for the Fukushima boar to combine into one huge, terrifying unit, whether for the purposes of destroying human civilisation or any other reason.

The ecology boffins who studied them suggest that while the hybridisation of the two species appears to have had no ill effects on the resulting animals, the pig genes in their make-up will eventually spread and dilute as the hybrid animals move further from their ground-zero birthplace, until eventually "the introgressed genes will eventually disappear in this area."

The superior firepower and coordination of their human usurpers mean the boar will hopefully be forced back into the mountains, where their desire for the trappings of human culture will gradually dissipate and the memory of their time as unquestioned warlord rulers of the region will slowly fade.

Generations of boar to come will look down on human settlements from their mountain redoubts and feel a pang of regret and recognition for their missed opportunity to conquer the world.

The boar war has been avoided, but at what cost to the boar? ®

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China signs up 400 million new 5G subscribers in a year, more than doubling user population

730 million 5G services active in Middle Kingdom, while another 100 million 4G services came online too

730 million 5G subscriptions have been ordered in China, according to operational statistics published this week by the nation's big three carriers: China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Mobile.

That total means 396.5 million new 5G packages were activated during 2021, more than doubling the 333.5 million services in operation as of January last year. The actual market could be even larger, as the three report subscriptions which could cover multiple devices or people.

Demand for other communications services continued to grow in China across 2021.

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If you want less CGI and more real effects in movies, you may get your wish: Inflatable film studio to orbit Earth

What a retirement for the ISS: Gaining a totally feasible 'state-of-the-art media production capability'

Space Entertainment Enterprise (SEE), a UK-based media company, has commissioned Axiom Space in Texas to build an inflatable space station module for orbital media production.

On Thursday, the media firm, which claims to be working on "the first ever Hollywood motion picture filmed in outer space," reportedly involving Tom Cruise, said it has hired Axiom Space to create SEE-1.

SEE-1 is envisioned as a media production module that will "allow artists, producers, and creatives to develop, produce, record, and live stream content which maximizes the Space Station’s low-orbit microgravity environment, including films, television, music and sports events."

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NASA's gamma-ray-burst alert satellite put into safe mode after suspected reaction wheel failure

To be fair, this is after 17 years of service in space

NASA has put its orbiting Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory into safe mode due to a suspected faulty reaction wheel, the first time this type of failure has occurred in its 17 years of operation.

NASA this week confirmed Swift was powered down on January 18. A team of scientists and engineers from Pennsylvania State University working at the Mission Operations Center (MOC) for Swift asked astronomers to hold off from requesting observation time as all science operations have temporarily halted.

“The mission team is investigating a possible failure of one of the spacecraft's reaction wheels as the cause,” NASA said in a statement. “The team has powered off the suspected wheel. The observatory and all its instruments are otherwise healthy and operating as anticipated. The observatory will remain in safe mode as a precaution while the team further investigates the issue.”

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Crypto.com now says someone tried to drain $34m from hundreds of accounts

Won't reveal net loss, says it stopped some withdrawals and has reimbursed those who had funds taken

Crypto.com on Thursday said in a roundabout way that an unidentified person stole or attempted to steal as much as $34m in cryptocurrency from customer accounts.

In an update on the cyberattack reported earlier this week, the Singapore-based firm said it "learned that a small number of users had unauthorized crypto withdrawals on their accounts."

That small number, the biz revealed, amounted to 483 Crypto.com customers.

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For those worried about Microsoft's Pluton TPM chip: Lenovo won't even switch it on by default in latest ThinkPads

Folks can enable or disable it, install Linux as normal. Just sayin'

PCs coming out this year with Microsoft's integrated Pluton security chip won't be locked down to Windows 11, and users will have the option to turn off the feature completely as well as install, say, Linux as normal, we understand.

The first Windows 11 PCs with Pluton built-in were shown at CES earlier this month. Major PC chip houses – think Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm – are said to be embedding Pluton inside their just-launched or upcoming microprocessors.

Pluton can act as a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) or as a non-TPM security coprocessor. It's a way for Microsoft to specify exactly how it wants a TPM component to be present in microprocessors so that Windows 11 can use the hardware as a root-of-trust and secure its stuff.

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UK mulls making MSPs subject to mandatory security standards where they provide critical infrastructure

And to pay for the privilege. Consultation's open, though

Small and medium-sized managed service providers (MSPs) could find themselves subject to the Network and Information Systems Regulations under government plans to tighten cybersecurity laws – and have got three months to object to the tax hikes that will follow.

Plans to amend the EU-derived Network and Information Systems Regulations (NIS) are more likely than ever to see SMEs brought into scope, as The Register reported last year when these plans were first floated.

NIS is the main law controlling security practices in the UK today. Currently a straight copy of the EU NIS Directive, one of the benefits of Brexit leapt upon by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is the new ability to amend NIS's reporting thresholds.

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Can you compose memory across a HPC cluster? Yes. Yes you can

GigaIO CTO talks up 'solution that has a lot of what CXL offers'

GigaIO and MemVerge are developing a joint solution to enable memory to be composable across a cluster of servers, addressing one of the thorny issues in high performance computing (HPC) where some nodes may not have enough memory for the tasks in hand, while others may have spare capacity.

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Working overtime? Those extra hours might not be hurting your wellbeing after all – just don't tell Jeff Bezos or Jack Ma

If you love your job, going the extra mile might not be stressful or cause depression

Working too hard? Is that overtime making you feel like you're caught in the vice-like jaws of burnout? Well, keep on carrying on because far from negatively impacting your well-being, it might actually be good for you if you love your job.

Or so says research from the ESCP Business School by Argyro Avgoustaki, an associate professor of Management and Almudena Cañibano, an associate professor in Human Resources Management.

The crucial distinction comes from the motivation behind why individuals put in those extra hours: whether it is due to an inner desire or external pressures from the higher ups.

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Privacy is for paedophiles, UK government seems to be saying while spending £500k demonising online chat encryption

So far we've got a pisspoor video and... er, that's it

Opinion The British government's PR campaign to destroy popular support for end-to-end encryption on messaging platforms has kicked off, under the handle "No Place To Hide", and it's as broad as any previous attack on the safety-guaranteeing technology.

Reported by us well in advance last year, the £500k campaign aims to destroy public support for end-to-end encryption (E2EE) as part of a wider strategy.

That intends to make it easy for police workers and other public-sector snoopers to read the public's online conversations without having to get prior permission or defeat privacy protections.

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'Now' would be the right time to patch Ubuntu container hosts and ditch 21.04 thanks to heap buffer overflow bug

Red Hat agrees

The CVE-2022-0185 vulnerability in Ubuntu is severe enough that Red Hat is also advising immediate patching.

The flaw allows a process inside a Linux user namespace to escape, which means it potentially affects any machine running containers.

If you're not running any containers, you can just disable the user-namespace functionality – both companies' vulnerability descriptions describe how to do that on their respective distros. It affects RHEL (and derivatives) as well as Ubuntu 20.04, 21.04 and 21.10 – and presumably other distros, too.

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Fujitsu wants technology to shape a better future – its technology, of course

Quantum, HPC, and AI to take us to rainbow sunshine happy land

Fujitsu wants to make the world a better place and thinks technology is the way to do it. Fujitsu technology, naturally.

The Japanese multinational laid out its vision – outlining an automated, converged world, with AI to support decision making – for the next decade or so during its ActivateNow: Technology Summit online. Fujitsu also explained how it believes technology will help to address various global challenges, including climate change, biodiversity, inequality, and (in developed countries) an ageing population.

Kicking off the keynote address, CTO Vivek Mahajan said Fujitsu believes it has a responsibility as a tech company to address global issues, and saw technology as key to solving these challenges. "The potential for innovation to make a positive impact is enormous," he said.

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