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Indian Mars Mission Has Completed 95% of Its Journey Without a Hitch

samzenpus posted 11 hours ago | from the almost-there dept.

Mars 74

First time accepted submitter rinka writes India's Mars Orbiter Mission, known as Mangalyaan, has made some progress since we last discussed it. The mission is on target and has completed 95% of it's journey. It will reach its destination before the end of the month. Scientists will undertake a "challenging task" on September 24 when they will restart the onboard liquid engine, which has been in sleep mode for nearly ten months, for a critical maneuver of the spacecraft.

If We Can't Kill Cancer, Can We Control It?

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the thus-began-the-era-of-the-slave-tumors dept.

Medicine 102

An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from The New Yorker: In April, [Dr. Eytan Stein] presented his findings to a packed auditorium at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, in San Diego. It was the first public airing of the results of AG-221; patients with progressive [acute myelogenous leukemia] had never improved so quickly and definitively. ... The breakthrough is notable in part for the unconventional manner in which the drug attacks its target. There are many kinds of cancer, but treatments have typically combated them in one way only: by attempting to destroy the cancerous cells. Surgery aims to remove the entire growth from the body; chemotherapy drugs are toxic to the cancer cells; radiation generates toxic molecules that break up the cancer cells' DNA and proteins, causing their demise. A more recent approach, immunotherapy, co-opts the body's immune system into attacking and eradicating the tumor. The Agios drug, instead of killing the leukemic cells — immature blood cells gone haywire — coaxes them into maturing into functioning blood cells. Cancerous cells traditionally have been viewed as a lost cause, fit only for destruction. The emerging research on A.M.L. suggests that at least some cancer cells might be redeemable: they still carry their original programming and can be pressed back onto a pathway to health.

Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the need-a-way-to-cheat-death dept.

Science 682

New submitter anlashok writes: Atheism and science face a real challenge: To frame an account of science, or nature, that leaves room for meaning. According to this article, atheists have pinned their flag to Mr. Spock's mast. But they need Captain Kirk. Quoting: "I'm pro-science, but I'm against what I'll call "Spock-ism," after the character from the TV show Star Trek. I reject the idea that science is logical, purely rational, that it is detached and value-free, and that it is, for all these reasons, morally superior. Spock-ism gives us a false picture of science. It gives us a false picture of humankind's situation. We are not disinterested knowers. The natural world is not a puzzle. ... The big challenge for atheism is not God; it is that of providing an alternative to Spock-ism. We need an account of our place in the world that leaves room for value."

US Scientists Predict Long Battle Against Ebola

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the time-to-call-in-dustin-hoffman-and-rene-russo dept.

Medicine 112

An anonymous reader writes: Despite recent advances in medicine to treat Ebola, epidemiologists are not hopeful that the outbreak in west Africa will be contained any time soon. Revised models for the disease's spread expect the outbreak to last 12 to 18 months longer, likely infecting hundreds of thousands of people. "While previous outbreaks have been largely confined to rural areas, the current epidemic, the largest ever, has reached densely populated, impoverished cities — including Monrovia, the capital of Liberia — gravely complicating efforts to control the spread of the disease. ... What worries public health officials most is that the epidemic has begun to grow exponentially in Liberia. In the most recent week reported, Liberia had nearly 400 new cases, almost double the number reported the week before. Another grave concern, the W.H.O. said, is 'evidence of substantial underreporting of cases and deaths.' The organization reported on Friday that the number of Ebola cases as of Sept. 7 was 4,366, including 2,218 deaths." Scientists are urging greater public health efforts to slow the exponential trajectory of the disease and bring it back under control.

DARPA Funds Harvard's Soft Exoskeletal Suit

Soulskill posted yesterday | from the what-matters-is-on-the-outside dept.

The Military 28

An anonymous reader writes: The military and private contractors have been toying with exoskeletal combat suits for a while, but Harvard's Wyss Institute has a new take on the concept. Rather than using a hard metal frame and the massively overpowered mechanical servos necessary to move it, the Soft Exosuit is a lightweight mesh of webbing combined with a series of strain sensors and basic microprocessors. "The suit mimics the action of leg muscles and tendons when a person walks, and provides small but carefully timed assistance at the leg joints without restricting the wearer's movement." The suit continually monitors its wearer's body position, movement, and muscular strain, providing small amounts of targeted support. The team has now received $2.9 million in funding from DARPA to refine the suit's design. They say they'll be working on medical applications for the suit as well as military ones.

Medical Milestone: Scientists Reset Human Stem Cells

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the just-power-cycle-them dept.

Biotech 69

SternisheFan sends news that researchers from the University of Cambridge have made a breakthrough in the production of human pluripotent stem cells. The goal when developing this kind of stem cell is to have them as early in the cell's lifecycle as possible, so that they're more like true embryonic stem cells and can fulfill whatever role is needed. But all of them made so far are advanced slightly down their developmental pathway. The new work, published in the journal Cell (abstract), has found a way to "reset" the cells by introducing two genes that induce a developmental "ground state."

Curiosity Rover Arrives At Long-Term Destination

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the now-kicking-back-and-relaxing dept.

Mars 33

When NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars, the mission team had a particular destination in mind: Mount Sharp. Just over two years and about nine kilometers of driving later, Curiosity has arrived at Mount Sharp. It will now begin its ascent of the mountain (PDF), first analyzing basal rocks with a "paintbrush" texture, then moving further to observe hematite-bearing rocks further up the slope. It will then proceed into an area laden with clay-bearing rocks, and finally to the upper reaches of the foothills, which contain rocks with magnesium sulfate in them. The team has selected routes and driving modes that they hope will slow the steadily accumulating damage to the rover's wheels.

Congress Can't Make Asteroid Mining Legal (But It's Trying, Anyway)

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the one-of-the-few-things-congress-actively-tries-to-do-these-days dept.

Space 208

Jason Koebler writes: Earlier this week, the House Science Committee examined the American Space Technology for Exploring Resource Opportunities in Deep Space (ASTEROIDS) Act, a bill that would ensure that "any resources obtained in outer space from an asteroid are the property of the entity that obtained such resources."

The problem is, that idea doesn't really mesh at all with the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, a document that suggests space is a shared resource: "Unlike some other global commons, no agreement has been reached at to whether title to extracted space resources passes to the extracting entity," Joanne Gabrynowicz, a space law expert at the University of Mississippi said (PDF). "There is no legal clarity regarding the ownership status of the extracted resources. It is foreseeable that the entity's actions will be challenged at law and in politics."

CERN Tests First Artificial Retina Capable of Looking For High Energy Particles

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the robot-eyes-are-taking-our-jobs dept.

Science 57

KentuckyFC writes: Pattern recognition is one of the few areas where humans regularly outperform even the most powerful computers. Our extraordinary ability is a result of the way our bodies process visual information. But surprisingly, our brains only do part of the work. The most basic pattern recognition—edge detection, line detection and the detection of certain shapes—is performed by the complex circuitry of neurons in the retina. Now particle physicists are copying this trick to hunt for new particles. A team at CERN has built and tested an artificial retina capable of identifying particle tracks in the debris from particle collisions. The retina can do this at the same rate the LHC smashes particles together: about 800 million collisions per second. In other words, it can sift through the data in real time. The team says the retina outperforms any other particle-detecting device by a factor of 400v.

Liquid Sponges Extract Hydrogen From Water

Soulskill posted 2 days ago | from the solid-sponges-are-so-2013 dept.

Power 113

New submitter gaelfx writes: Researchers at Glasglow University have an interesting method for separating the hydrogen out of water: Liquid Sponges. Most methods of extracting the hydrogen involve some form electrolysis, but these generally require some pretty expensive materials. The researchers claim that they can accomplish this using less electricity, cheaper materials and 30 times faster to boot. With both Honda and Toyota promising hydrogen fuel cell cars in Japan within the next few years (other manufacturers must be considering it as well, if not as publicly), does this spell a new future for transportation technology?

Scientists Capture the Sound Made By a Single Atom

timothy posted 2 days ago | from the golf-clap-defined dept.

Science 99

Jason Koebler writes Researchers at Columbia University and Sweden's Chalmers University of Technology say that they have, for the first time, "captured" the sound a single atom makes when it is excited—a single "phonon," as it were. So, why do this? For one, the team wanted to simply see if it could capture the softest sound ever made, which is certainly a noble goal. But, secondly, the researchers wanted to explore the quantum nature of sound. Photons have always been used in quantum experiments, but they're pretty hard to manipulate because they're so fast. Phonons move 10^5 slower and thus could make quantum communication easier.

Ozone Layer Recovering But Remains Threatened

samzenpus posted 3 days ago | from the getting-better dept.

Earth 59

First time accepted submitter i kan reed writes in with some good news from the ozone report of the United Nations. The Earth’s protective ozone layer is on track to recover by the middle of the century, the United Nations today reported, urging unified action to tackle climate change and curb continued fluctuations to the composition of the atmosphere. That is according to the assessment of 300 scientists in the summary document of the Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2014, published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO). “International action on the ozone layer is a major environmental success story,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a news release. “This should encourage us to display the same level of urgency and unity to tackle the even greater challenge of climate change.”

Researchers Working On Crystallizing Light

samzenpus posted 3 days ago | from the tripping-on-the-light-fantastic dept.

Science 125

An anonymous reader writes Researchers at Princeton University have begun crystallizing light as part of an effort to answer fundamental questions about the physics of matter. The researchers are not shining light through crystal – they are transforming light into crystal. As part of an effort to develop exotic materials such as room-temperature superconductors, the researchers have locked together photons, the basic element of light, so that they become fixed in place. "It's something that we have never seen before," said Andrew Houck, one of the researchers. "This is a new behavior for light."

Journal Published Flawed Stem Cell Papers Despite Serious Misgivings About Work

Soulskill posted 3 days ago | from the peer-reviewish dept.

Science 35

sciencehabit writes: As two discredited, and now retracted, stem cell papers have produced an almost unimaginable fallout — a national hero accused of scientific fraud, the revamping of one of Japan's major research institutes, and the suicide of a respected cell biologist — researchers have privately and publicly asked how Nature could have published work that, in retrospect, seems so obviously flawed. Another piece of the puzzle has now come to light. The Science news team received a copy of email correspondence between a Nature editor and Haruko Obokata, the lead author of the papers, which indicates the work initially received as rocky a reception there as at two other journals, Cell and Science, that had rejected the work previously. The email, dated 4 April 2013, includes detailed separate criticisms of the two papers and suggestions for new data to support the authors' claims of a simple and novel way to make stem cells that could form the myriad cell types within a body. The Nature editor rejected the papers, but left open a window, writing, "Should further experimental data allow you to address these criticisms, we would be happy to look at a revised manuscript." The two papers were published 10 months later.

Link Between Salt and High Blood Pressure 'Overstated'

Soulskill posted 3 days ago | from the so-grab-a-tall-glass-of-salt-and-enjoy dept.

Medicine 288

An anonymous reader writes: Diagnosed with high blood pressure? If so, you were probably told to moderate or avoid the use salt in your food. Well, a new study (abstract found that salt is not associated with systolic blood pressure after controlling for other factors. The study found that BMI, age, and alcohol consumption all strongly influenced blood pressure, and concluded that maintaining a healthy body weight was the best way to counteract it. The publication of this research follows a CDC report from Tuesday decrying the amount of salt in children's diets — a report that lists high blood pressure as one of its main concerns. The debate on this issue is far from over, and it'll take years to sort out all the contradictory evidence.

Massive Study Searching For Genes Behind Intelligence Finds Little

Soulskill posted 3 days ago | from the genetically-enhanced-superhumans-will-still-love-reality-tv dept.

Science 264

An anonymous reader writes: It's been taken for granted that science would, one day, figure out what parts of our DNA make us smart (or not). But a huge new study done by a group of almost 60 researchers using genome data on over 100,000 people has come up empty-handed. The scientists first looked for differences in the genome that correlated with academic achievement. After narrowing it down to 69 individual sites, they gave cognitive tests to separate group of 24,000 people and looked for evidence of difference at those same locations (abstract). Most of the sites weren't significantly different from chance — the (already weak) genetic influence of genes on height has an effect 20 times greater. On top of that, the three gene locations that did seem to have a stronger correlation weren't involved in development of the nervous system.

China Targets 2022 For Space Station Completion

Soulskill posted 3 days ago | from the neighbors-for-the-ISS dept.

China 100

Taco Cowboy writes: According to Reuters, China is aiming for 2022 to get its first space station operational. "China's leaders have set a priority on advancing its space program, with President Xi Jinping calling for the country to establish itself as a space power." After Chinese astronauts docked with the country's experimental space lab last year, they're planning the launch of another laboratory in 2016. Launch and construction of the new space station's core is planned for 2018, and their goal is to complete it by 2022. China insists that its space program is for peaceful purposes.

Universal Big Bang Lithium Deficit Confirmed

samzenpus posted 3 days ago | from the would-you-like-to-try-another-alkali-metal? dept.

Space 169

An anonymous reader writes New observations of the star cluster Messier 54 show that it is just as deficient in lithium as our own galaxy, furthering a mystery about the element's big bang origins. "Most of the light chemical element lithium now present in the Universe was produced during the Big Bang, along with hydrogen and helium, but in much smaller quantities. Astronomers can calculate quite accurately how much lithium they expect to find in the early Universe, and from this work out how much they should see in old stars. But the numbers don't match — there is about three times less lithium in stars than expected. This mystery remains unsolved, despite several decades of work."

Who Is Buried In the Largest Tomb Ever Found In Northern Greece?

samzenpus posted 3 days ago | from the is-it-grant? dept.

News 92

schwit1 writes Excitement continues to build as archaeologists dig deeper into a massive tomb discovered two years ago in northern Greece. "This past weekend the excavation team, led by Greek archaeologist Katerina Peristeri, announced the discovery of two elegant caryatids—large marble columns sculpted in the shape of women with outstretched arms—that may have been intended to bar intruders from entering the tomb's main room. "I don't know of anything quite like them," says Philip Freeman, a professor of classics at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. The curly-haired caryatids are just part of the tomb's remarkable furnishings. Guarding the door as sentinels were a pair of carved stone sphinxes, mythological creatures with the body of a lion and the head of a human. And when archaeologists finally entered the antechamber, they discovered faded remnants of frescoes as well as a mosaic floor made of white marble pieces inlaid in a red background." Archaeologists believe this tomb is connected somehow to Alexander the Great and could very well be the burial site of one of his relatives or close allies.

X-Class Solar Flare Coming Friday

samzenpus posted 4 days ago | from the wear-your-shades dept.

Space 145

First time accepted submitter kit_triforce writes Satellites have just detected a powerful X1.6-class solar flare. The source was active sunspot AR2158, which is directly facing Earth. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash. Ionizing radiation from the flare could cause HF radio blackouts and other communications disturbances, especially on the day-lit side of Earth. In the next few hours, when coronagraph data from SOHO and STEREO become available, we will see if a coronal mass ejection (CME) emerges from the blast site. If so, the cloud would likely be aimed directly at Earth and could reach our planet in 2 to 3 days.

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