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Author: arstechnica (Page 1 of 1226)

Researchers find dozens of genes associated with measures of intelligence

Enlarge / A brain. (credit: Allan Ajifo)

We don't know a lot about the biological basis of our mental abilities—we can't even consistently agree on how best to test them—but a few things seem clear. One is that performance on a number of standardized tests that purport to measure intelligence tends to correlate with outcomes we'd associate with intelligence, like educational achievement. A second is that this performance seems to have a large genetic component.

But initial studies clearly indicated that the effect of any individual gene on intelligence is small. As a result, the first genetics studies found very little, since you needed to look at a large number of people in order to see these small effects. Now, a new study has combined much of the previous work and has turned up 40 new genetic regions associated with intelligence test scores. But again, the effect of any individual gene is pretty minor.

Hunting for genes

The team behind the new work took advantage of open data to pull together information from 13 different studies, which cumulatively looked through the genomes of over 78,000 individuals. While those individuals had been given a variety of tests, the authors focused on measures of general intelligence or fluid intelligence (the two seem to measure similar things). The genomes of these individuals had been scanned for single base pair differences, allowing the authors to look for correlations between regions of the genome and test scores.

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Decrypted: American Gods just made its heroes a lot less likable

Enlarge / Laura really has to keep those flies away now that she has become a zombie demigod avenger entity thing. (credit: Starz)

When I first watched episode 4 of American Gods, I absolutely hated it. After re-watching it and talking to Tokusatsu Network Editor-in-Chief Paula Gaetos in this week's episode of our TV podcast, I'm starting to come around. Maybe I shouldn't be so worried that our main characters are terrible people.

This podcast contains spoilers.

We talked at length about what it meant that this week's episode left Shadow and Wednesday behind and focused entirely on Shadow's dead wife, Laura. Paula loved what the show did with Laura's character. We talked about how Laura has been revealed as incredibly flawed—aimlessly depressed, apathetic, sort of a user—but, at the same time, she has a no-nonsense attitude that allows her to be brave in ways that Shadow isn't. Unlike Shadow, she completely accepts that the world is full of weird magical things and takes control of it. She even tells Anubis, the god of death, to "fuck off." That's pretty badass.

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Examining the FCC claim that DDoS attacks hit net neutrality comment system

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Valery Brozhinsky)

On May 8, when the Federal Communications Commission website failed and many people were prevented from submitting comments about net neutrality, the cause seemed obvious. Comedian John Oliver had just aired a segment blasting FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to gut net neutrality rules, and it appeared that the site just couldn't handle the sudden influx of comments.

But when the FCC released a statement explaining the website's downtime, the commission didn't mention the Oliver show or people submitting comments opposing Pai's plan. Instead, the FCC attributed the downtime solely to "multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS)." These were "deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC's comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host," performed by "actors" who "were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather, they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC."

The FCC has faced skepticism from net neutrality activists who doubt the website was hit with multiple DDoS attacks at the same time that many new commenters were trying to protest the plan to eliminate the current net neutrality rules. Besides the large influx of legitimate comments, what appeared to be spam bots flooded the FCC with identical comments attributed to people whose names were drawn from data breaches, which is another possible cause of downtime. There are now more than 2.5 million comments on Pai's plan. The FCC is taking comments until August 16, and will make a final decision sometime after that.

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Surface Pro will get a USB Type-C dongle to connect to your dongles

Enlarge / The new Surface Pro looks very similar to the Pro 4 and Pro 3. (credit: Microsoft)

The new Kaby Lake-equipped Surface Pro is an incremental update on the Surface Pro 4. It has Intel's latest processor and a healthy improvement to battery life, but it doesn't include USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 connectivity.

But Type-C connectivity may be coming later in the year. Panos Panay, vice president of Surface, told the Verge that the company was working on a dongle for the Surface Pro and the Surface Laptop to add Type-C connectivity. The dongle will connect to the Surface Connect port—the magnetic port used to connect to the charger and to the Surface Dock—and will support both charging from Type-C chargers and connecting to Type-C peripherals.

The Surface Connect port also supports display output—Microsoft's own Surface Dock includes display connectivity, as well as Ethernet, USB, and power—so in principle this dongle could also support USB Type-C's Alternate Modes, allowing the use of Type-C cables to connect to Type-C monitors.

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Dealmaster: Get a Dell Inspiron desktop with Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM for just $600

Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our partners at TechBargains, we're back with a bunch of deals to share before Memorial Day weekend kicks off. Now you can get a Dell Inspiron 3650 desktop, complete with a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, 2TB HDD, and Win7 Pro for just $599. You're getting hundreds off its regular $949 price tag, so now's the time to upgrade your old tower desktop to something more modern and more powerful.

Check out the rest of the deals below.

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