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Ear Grown From Van Gogh DNA On Display

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the great-things-are-not-done-by-impulse-but-by-a-series-of-small-things-printed-together dept.

Biotech 64

First time accepted submitter afeeney (719690) writes 'The Centre for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany, is displaying an ear grown from DNA contributed by a relative of artist Vincent Van Gogh. The Center said artist Diemut Strebe made the replica using living cells from Lieuwe van Gogh, the great-great-grandson of Vincent’s brother Theo. Using a 3D-printer, the cells were shaped to resemble the ear that Vincent van Gogh is said to have cut off during a psychotic episode in 1888. “I use science basically like a type of brush, like Vincent used paint,” Strebe told The Associated Press. Historians argue about whether Van Gogh cut off his own ear and if so, why, but it remains one of the most famous acts of self-mutilation in the Western world.'

Plastic Trash Forming Into "Plastiglomerate" Rocks

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the earth-plus-plastic dept.

Earth 123

sciencehabit (1205606) writes 'Plastic may be with us a lot longer than we thought. In addition to clogging up landfills and becoming trapped in Arctic ice, some of it is turning into stone. Scientists say a new type of rock cobbled together from plastic, volcanic rock, beach sand, seashells, and corals has begun forming on the shores of Hawaii. The new material--which the researchers are calling a "plastiglomerate"--may be becoming so pervasive that it actually becomes part of the geologic record.'

NRC Human Spaceflight Report Says NASA Strategy Can't Get Humans To Mars

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the not-going-to-happen dept.

Mars 206

MarkWhittington (1084047) writes 'The National Research Council issued its report on the future of space exploration. The report stated that the "horizon goal" for any program of space exploration in the near term (i.e. the next two decades) is a Mars surface expedition. It also stated that the current NASA program, which includes a mission that would snag an asteroid, put it in lunar orbit, and visit it with astronauts is inadequate to meet that goal.

The report gave two reasons for its critique of the current NASA program. First the asteroid redirect mission would not create and test technologies necessary to conduct a crewed Mars mission. Second, NASA projects essentially flat budgets for the foreseeable future. Any space exploration program worthy of the name will cost considerably more money, with five percent increases in NASA funding for a number of years.'

Lepton Universality In Question, a Standard Model Assumption

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the we'ere-slightly-more-wrong-than-we-thought dept.

Science 62

Charliemopps writes: "Over the past few years, more and more experiments have started to question one of the core assumptions of the standard model: Lepton Universality. Simply put, the weak nuclear force is assumed to work equally on all Leptons (electron, muon and tau). Two years ago The Babar experimental collaboration reported that measurements indicated this may not have been the case. But the measurements were not accurate enough to be definitive.

Now, a report from The LHC shows that they have analyzed their entire dataset of proton-proton collisions and found a rather large discrepancy. These measurements are still not all that accurate. These decays happen so rarely that even with this huge data set there is still about a 1% change they are incorrect. One explanation for such measurements is an as-yet-undiscovered, charged Higgs particle. It would have to be extremely heavy: greater than 109GeV possibly even as high as 150GeV. This is predicted by some models outside of the Standard Model, like Supersymmetry."

Star Within a Star: Thorne-Zytkow Object Discovered

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the russian-nesting-stars dept.

Space 89

astroengine writes: "A weird type of 'hybrid' star has been discovered nearly 40 years since it was first theorized — but until now has been curiously difficult to find. In 1975, renowned astrophysicists Kip Thorne, of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, Calif., and Anna Zytkow, of the University of Cambridge, UK, assembled a theory on how a large dying star could swallow its neutron star binary partner, thus becoming a very rare type of stellar hybrid, nicknamed a Thorne-Zytkow object (or TZO). The neutron star — a dense husk of degenerate matter that was once a massive star long since gone supernova — would spiral into the red supergiant's core, interrupting normal fusion processes. According to the Thorne-Zytkow theory, after the two objects have merged, an excess of the elements rubidium, lithium and molybdenum will be generated by the hybrid. So astronomers have been on the lookout for stars in our galaxy, which is thought to contain only a few dozen of these objects at any one time, with this specific chemical signature in their atmospheres. Now, according to Emily Levesque of the University of Colorado Boulder and her team, a bona fide TZO has been discovered and their findings have been accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters."

Key Researcher Agrees To Retract Disputed Stem Cell Papers

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 months ago | from the so-much-for-that dept.

Biotech 61

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "After several months of fiercely defending her discovery of a new, simple way to create pluripotent stem cells, Haruko Obokata of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, has agreed to retract the two Nature papers that reported her work. Satoru Kagaya, head of public relations for RIKEN, headquartered in Wako near Tokyo, confirmed press reports today that Obokata had finally agreed to retract both papers. He said the institute would be notifying Nature and that the decision to formally retract the papers would be up to the journal."

Geophysicists Discover How Rocks Produce Magnetic Pulses

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 months ago | from the how-do-they-work dept.

Science 72

KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "Since the 1960s, geophysicists have known that some earthquakes are preceded by ultra-low frequency magnetic pulses that increase in number until the quake takes place. But this process has always puzzled them: how can rocks produce magnetic pulses? Now a group of researchers has worked out what's going on. They say that rocks under pressure can become semiconductors that produce magnetic pulses under certain circumstances.

When igneous rocks form in the presence of water, they contain peroxy bonds with OH groups. Under great temperature and pressure, these bonds break down creating electron-holes pairs. The electrons become trapped at the site of the broken bonds but the holes are free to move through the crystal structure. The natural diffusion of these holes through the rock creates p and n regions just like those in doped semiconductors. And the boundary between these regions behaves like the p-n junction in a diode, allowing current to flow in one direction but not the other. At least not until the potential difference reaches a certain value when the boundary breaks down allowing a sudden increase in current. It is this sudden increase that generates a magnetic field. And the sheer scale of this process over a volume of hundreds of cubic meters ensures that these magnetic pulses have an extremely low frequency that can be detected on the surface. The new theory points to the possibility of predicting imminent earthquakes by triangulating the position of rocks under pressure by searching for the magnetic pulses they produce (although significantly more work needs to be done to characterize the process before then)."

The Disappearing Universe

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the and-for-my-next-trick dept.

Space 358

StartsWithABang writes: "If everything began with the Big Bang — from a hot, dense, expanding state — and things have been cooling, spreading out, but slowing down ever since, you might think that means that given enough time (and a powerful enough space ship), we'll eventually be able to reach any other galaxy. But thanks to dark energy, not only is that not the case at all, but most of the galaxies in our Universe are already completely unreachable by us, with more leaving our potential reach all the time. Fascinating, terrifying stuff."

Protecting Our Brains From Datamining

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the we-all-know-what-your-brain-would-tell-us dept.

Privacy 100

Jason Koebler writes: 'Brainwave-tracking is becoming increasingly common in the consumer market, with the gaming industry at the forefront of the trend. "Neurogames" use brain-computer interfaces and electroencephalographic (EEG) gadgets like the Emotiv headset to read brain signals and map them to in-game actions. EEG data is "high-dimensional," meaning a single signal can reveal a lot of information about you: if you have a mental illness, are prone to addiction, your emotions, mood, and taste. If that data from gaming was collected and mined, it could theoretically be matched with other datasets culled from online data mining to create a complete profile of an individual that goes far beyond what they divulge through social media posts and emails alone. That's led some to develop privacy systems that protect your thoughts from hackers.'

'Godfather of Ecstasy,' Chemist Sasha Shulgin Dies Aged 88

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the rest-in-more-peace-than-most dept.

Science 164

EwanPalmer (2536690) writes "Alexander 'Sasha' Shulgin, the chemist, pharmacologist and author known for popularizing the drug MDMA as well as creating and synthesizing hundreds of psychoactive drugs, has died aged 88. Shulgin was known for discovering, creating and personally testing hundreds of psychoactive chemicals and documenting the results, along with his wife, in his books and papers. He is also known for introducing the positive aspects of MDMA to psychologists, which in term helped it become a popular recreational drug in the 1980s." With less irritation from auto-playing video sound, try the BBC.

Red Dwarfs Could Sterilize Alien Worlds of Life

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 months ago | from the not-very-habitable-zone dept.

Space 76

astroengine (1577233) writes "Red dwarf stars — the most common stars in the galaxy — bathe planets in their habitable zones with potentially deadly stellar winds, a finding that could have significant impacts on the prevalence of life beyond Earth, new research shows. About 70 percent of stars are red dwarfs, or M-type stars, which are cooler and smaller than the sun. Any red dwarf planets suitable for liquid water, therefore, would have to orbit much closer to their parent star than Earth circles the sun. That presents a problem for life — at least life as we know it on Earth, says physicist Ofer Cohen, with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Cohen and colleagues used a computer model based on data from the sun's solar wind — a continuous stream of charged particles that permeates and defines the solar system –- to estimate the space environment around red dwarf stars. 'We find that the conditions are very extreme. If you move planets very close to the star, the force of this flow is very, very strong. Essentially it can strip the atmosphere of the planet unless the planet has a strong magnetic field or a thick atmosphere to start with,' Cohen told Discovery News."

Science Moneyball: The Secret to a Successful Academic Career

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the publish-or-perish dept.

Education 42

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "For biomedical researchers who aspire to run their own labs, the secret is to publish frequently, as first author, and in top journals. That career advice may seem obvious, but this time it's backed up by a new analysis of data scraped from PubMed, the massive public repository of biological abstracts. The study, reported today in Current Biology, uses the status of last author as a proxy for academic success. Those corresponding authors are likely to be running their own labs, the brass ring that young researchers are trying to grab. See what your chances are using Science's PI Predictor graph."

Strange New World Discovered: The "Mega Earth"

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the thing-that-should-not-be dept.

Space 147

astroengine (1577233) writes "Meet 'mega-Earth' a souped-up, all-solid planet that, according to theory, should not exist. First spotted by NASA's Kepler space telescope, the planet is about 2.3 times larger than Earth. Computer models show planets that big would be more like Neptune or the other gas planets of the outer solar system since they would have the gravitational heft to collect vast amounts of hydrogen and helium from their primordial cradles. But follow-up observations of the planet, designated as Kepler-10c, show it has 17 times as much mass as Earth, meaning it must be filled with rock and other materials much heavier than hydrogen and helium. 'Kepler-10c is a big problem for the theory,' astronomer Dimitar Sasselov, director of the Harvard Origins of Life Initiative, told Discovery News. 'It's nice that we have a solid piece of evidence and measurements for it because that gives motivations to the theorists to improve the theory,' he said."

Small Genetic Change Responsible For Blond Hair

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the towheaded-child dept.

Science 125

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "For all those brunettes wishing they were naturally blond, a small genetic change could have made all the difference. Scientists have found that replacing one of DNA's four letters at a key spot in the genome shifts a particular gene's activity and leads to fairer hair. Not only does the work provide a molecular basis for flaxen locks, but it also demonstrates how changes in segments of DNA that control genes, not just changes in genes themselves, are important to what an organism looks like."

Google To Spend $1 Billion On Fleet of Satellites

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the google-sky dept.

The Almighty Buck 170

An anonymous reader writes "Google is planning to spend over $1 billion on a fleet of satellites to extend Internet access to unwired regions around the world. 'The projected price ranges from about $1 billion to more than $3 billion, the people familiar with the project said, depending on the network's final design and a later phase that could double the number of satellites. Based on past satellite ventures, costs could rise. Google's project is the latest effort by a Silicon Valley company to extend Internet coverage from the sky to help its business on the ground. Google and Facebook Inc. are counting on new Internet users in underserved regions to boost revenue, and ultimately, earnings. "Google and Facebook are trying to figure out ways of reaching populations that thus far have been unreachable," said Susan Irwin, president of Irwin Communications Inc., a satellite-communications research firm. "Wired connectivity only goes so far and wireless cellular networks reach small areas. Satellites can gain much broader access."'"

Robots and Irradiated Parasites Enlisted In the Fight Against Malaria

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the closer-to-the-cure dept.

Medicine 84

First time accepted submitter einar.petersen (1178307) writes "Sanaria is a biotechnology company that has developed a new malaria vaccine. To produce the vaccine Sanaria cultivates mosquitos in a sterile environment and infects them with Plasmodium falciparum. When the mosquitos are chock-full of Pf sporozoites, the company irradiates them to weaken the parasites. Workers then herd up the mosquitos, chop off their heads and squeeze out their salivary glands, where the parasites prefer to live the better to port over to the mosquito’s next victim. They retrieve the weakened parasites from these tiny glands, filter out other contaminants and gather them up into an injectable vaccine. Sanaria’s method faces the additional challenge that dissecting the little buggers is tedious. Researchers can dissect 2-3 mosquitos an hour, which is nowhere near enough to mass-produce a global vaccine. So two years ago, Sanaria began working with the Harvard Biorobotics Lab to develop a robot that could do the work faster."

NASA's Test Bed For Mars Chute: Kauai

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the sounds-like-a-fun-ride dept.

Mars 40

An Associated Press story, as carried by the Philadelphia Inquirer, says that NASA plans to test this Tuesday on the Hawaiian island of Kauai a huge (110' diameter) parachute intended as a means to land big loads (like astronauts) on the surface of Mars. Says the story: "The skies off the Hawaiian island of Kauai will be a stand-in for Mars as NASA prepares to launch a saucer-shaped vehicle in an experimental flight designed to land heavy loads on the red planet. For decades, robotic landers and rovers have hitched a ride to Earth's planetary neighbor using the same parachute design. But NASA needs a bigger and stronger parachute if it wants to send astronauts there. ... During the flight, a high-flying balloon will loft the disc-shaped vehicle from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kauai to 23 miles over the Pacific where it will be dropped. Then it will fire its rocket motor to climb to 34 miles, accelerating to Mach 4. The environment at this altitude is similar to Mars' thin atmosphere. As it descends to Earth, a tube around the vehicle should inflate, slowing it down. Then the parachute should pop out, guiding the vehicle to a gentle splashdown in the Pacific."

Optical Levitation, Space Travel, Quantum Mechanics and Gravity

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the where-is-the-tractor-beam-I-crave dept.

Science 82

An anonymous reader writes "Light doesn't just make things brighter; it can also push things around. Normally this "radiation pressure" force is so small you don't notice it. But if you get a really big mirror then you could use it to power a space ship to the stars. This is the idea behind solar sails. The impact of light is more obvious on small things. Scientists are thinking about levitation of a mirror that would be large enough to see with the naked eye. If this turns out to work, the motion of the floating mirror could be used to probe the physics that connects quantum theory and general relativity."

Study Finds Porn Exposure Associated With Smaller Brain Region

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the news-for-nerds dept.

Stats 211

New submitter Bodhammer (559311) writes "German researchers looked at the brains of 64 men between the ages of 21 and 45 and found that one brain region (the striatum, linked to reward processing), was smaller in the brains of porn watchers, and that a specific part of the same region is also less activated when exposed to more pornography." While it's tempting to cast blame, "the study doesn't confirm whether watching porn causes the changes, or whether people with a certain brain type are inherently more apt to tune into X-rated content." The study's abstract is available; the paper itself is pay-walled.

SpaceX Shows Off 7-Man Dragon V2 Capsule

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the yes-please dept.

Space 140

As promised, SpaceX has unveiled its design for a 7-passenger space capsule, intended for carrying astronauts to the International Station or other missions. Writes the L.A. Times: "SpaceX's Dragon V2 spacecraft looks like a sleek, modern-day version of the Apollo capsules that astronauts used in trips to the moon in the 1960s. Those capsules splashed down in the ocean and couldn't be reused. SpaceX builds its Dragon capsules and Falcon 9 rockets in a vast complex in Hawthorne, where fuselage sections for Boeing's 747 jumbo jets once were built. The company is expanding its complex, near Los Angeles International Airport, and has more than 3,000 employees."

NBC News offers more pictures and description of what conditions aboard the Dragon would be like, while astronaut Chris Hadfield says that for all its good points, the Dragon won't eliminate the need for international cooperation in space: "The United States cannot fly to the Space Station without Russia, and Russia can't fly to the Space Station without the United States. It's a wonderful thing to have. If you look at the whole life of the Space Station, think of all the tumult, with the fall of the Soviet Union, and the devaluation of the Ruble in 1998, and other countries backing out of it, the Columbia accident, which would have left us completely helpless if we hadn't had the international commitment. It's easy to have a one-month attention span, but that's just not how you build spaceships, or how you explore the rest of the universe."

UK Ballistics Scientists: 3D-Printed Guns Are 'of No Use To Anyone'

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the might-hurt-if-you-throw-them-at-somebody dept.

United Kingdom 490

New submitter graveyardjohn writes: "The BBC has a short video about why the U.K.'s National Ballistics Intelligence Service thinks 3D-printed guns are 'of no use to anyone.' They show a 3D-printed gun being fired in a test chamber. The barrel explodes and the bullet flops forward a few feet. They say, 'without additional expertise and the right type of ammunition, anyone attempting to fire one would probably maim or even kill themselves.'"

The Light Might Make You Heavy

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the switch-to-zero-calorie-light dept.

Medicine 138

Rambo Tribble writes: "Writing in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers have found that sleeping with high ambient light levels may contribute to obesity (abstract). In a survey of 113,000 women, a high correlation was found between higher bedroom light levels and increased propensity to be overweight or obese. Excess light in the sleeping environment has long been known to adversely affect melatonin production and circadian rhythms. It is posited that such an interference with the 'body clock' may be behind these results. Although there is not yet enough evidence to call this a smoking gun, as one researcher put it, 'Overall this study points to the importance of darkness.'"

Zazzle.com Thinks Depictions of Pi Are Protected Intellectual Property

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the attention-i-have-trademarked-the-space-between-letters-please-stop-using-it dept.

Math 264

Byteme writes: "A number of Zazzle.com users have had their art and products removed from the site after a man named Paul Ingrisano was granted a trademark for 'Pi Productions' using a logo that consists of this freely available version of the pi symbol from the Wikimedia website combined with a period. He made infringement claims against several websites, and Zazzle took down many clothing products that featured designs using the pi symbol. When users called them on it, they locked a public forum thread and said they're evaluating Ingrisano's complaint."

ISEE-3 Satellite Is Back Under Control

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the well-done-folks dept.

Space 56

brindafella writes: "Over the last two days, the (Reboot Project for the International Sun/Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3) satellite has successfully commanded ISEE-3 from Earth, using signals transmitted from the Aricebo Observatory. Signals were also received by cooperating dishes: the 21-meter dish located at Kentucky's Morehead State University Space Science Center; the 20-meter dish antenna in Bochum Observatory, Germany, operated by AMSAT Germany; and SETI's Allen Telescope Array, California. ISEE-3 was launched in 1978, and last commanded in 1999 by NASA. On May 15, 2014, the project reached its crowdfunding goal of US$125,000, which will cover the costs of writing the software to communicate with the probe, searching through the NASA archives for the information needed to control the spacecraft, and buying time on the dish antennas. The project then set a 'stretch goal' of $150,000, which it also met with a final total of $159,502 raised. The goal is to be able to command the spacecraft to fire its engines to enter an Earth orbit, and then be usable for further space exploration. This satellite does not even have a computer; it is all 'hard-wired.'"

Scientists Find Method To Reliably Teleport Data

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the who-needs-gigabit-fiber-anyway dept.

Science 202

An anonymous reader writes "Scientists at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience say they've managed to reliably teleport quantum information stored in one bit of diamond to another sitting three meters away (abstract, pre-print) . Now, their goal is to extend the range over a distance of a kilometer. '[R]eliability of quantum teleportation has been elusive. For example, in 2009, University of Maryland physicists demonstrated the transfer of quantum information, but only one of every 100 million attempts succeeded, meaning that transferring a single bit of quantum information required roughly 10 minutes. In contrast, the scientists at Delft have achieved the ability "deterministically," meaning they can now teleport the quantum state of two entangled electrons accurately 100 percent of the time. They did so by producing qubits using electrons trapped in diamonds at extremely low temperatures. According to Dr. Hanson, the diamonds effectively create 'miniprisons' in which the electrons were held. The researchers were able to establish a spin, or value, for electrons, and then read the value reliably.'"

Proposed SpaceX Spaceport Passes Its Final Federal Environmental Review

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the getting-the-green-light dept.

Space 40

An anonymous reader writes "The proposed SpaceX spaceport in Brownsville, Texas, has passed its final federal environmental review. 'The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which had raised concerns about possible impact on habitat for some endangered species, ultimately concluded that "the project is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any listed or proposed to be listed species nor adversely modify piping plover critical habitat". But wildlife officials don't expect the project to be harmless: Two individual cats, either from the endangered ocelot or jaguarondi species, could be lost as a result of the project in spite of efforts to avoid just that with measures such as posting warning signs along the road leading to the launch site. And federal wildlife officials also anticipate that more than 7 miles of beachfront used by nesting sea turtles could be disturbed by security patrols, though driving is already permitted on the beach.'"

Happy 95th Anniversary, Relativity

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the it's-all-relative dept.

Science 120

StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "It's hard to believe, but there are people alive today who remember a world where Newtonian gravity was the accepted theory of gravitation governing our Universe. 95 years ago today, the 1919 solar eclipse provided the data that would provide the test of the three key options for how light would respond to the presence of a gravitational field: would it not bend at all? Would it bend according to Newton's predictions if you took the "mass" of a photon to be E/c^2? Or would it bend according to the predictions of Einstein's wacky new idea? Celebrate the 95th anniversary of relativity's confirmation by reliving the story."

'Curiosity' Lead Engineer Suggests Printing Humans On Other Planets

timothy posted about a month ago | from the ok-use-the-wormhole-to-get-the-printer dept.

Biotech 323

Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "Adam Steltzner, the lead engineer on the NASA JPL's Curiosity rover mission, believes that to send humans to distant planets, we may need to do one of two things: look for ways to game space-time—traveling through wormholes and whatnot—or rethink the fundamental idea of 'ourselves.' 'Our best bet for space exploration could be printing humans, organically, on another planet,' said Steltzner."

SpaceX To Present Manned Dragon Capsule

timothy posted about a month ago | from the calling-shotgun dept.

NASA 128

camperdave (969942) writes "SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is set to unveil the Dragon V2 at a media event from Hawthorne, California, tonight at 7 pm. Pacific. The 'Dragon V2' is an upgraded, man rated version of the unmanned spaceship that has made several successful cargo trips to the International Space Station. The new craft will carry a mix of cargo and up to a seven crewmembers to the ISS. According to Musk, this is 'Actual flight design hardware of crew Dragon, not a mockup.' Following the space shuttle's forced retirement in 2011, US astronauts have been totally dependent on the Russian Soyuz capsules for ferry rides to orbit and back. The crisis in Ukraine, which has resulted in some U.S. economic sanctions imposed against Russia, also has the potential to threaten U.S. access to the ISS as the Russian government considers reciprocal sanctions of its own. 'Sounds like this might be a good time to unveil the new Dragon Mk 2 spaceship that @SpaceX has been working on with @NASA,' Musk tweeted. SpaceX is one of three commercial space companies competing for funding from NASA's Commercial Crew Transportation Capability program." (You can watch the event as a webcast.)

Mutant Registration vs. Vaccine Registration

timothy posted about a month ago | from the ok-you-need-not-register-your-zombies dept.

Medicine 493

Responding to an editorial endorsing a national vaccine registry in Canada (though the same kind of registry could be and has been proposed in the U.S. with the same logic), an anonymous reader writes "Vaccine Registration makes me think of Mutant and Superhero registration. The reasons are similar. It's based on fear and misinformation. People fear that unvaccinated people will doom us all. Sound familiar? The difference is this is real. (Oh, and they probably won't use sentinels to track down the dangerous unvaccinated folks.) Thoughts?" From the linked editorial: "A national vaccination registry would identify which Canadians have been fully vaccinated, those who have received less than a full dose of shots, and those who have not been vaccinated at all. Having a vaccine registry in place in the event of an outbreak of measles, whooping cough, and diseases like these would enable public health officials to identify the children and adults who need vaccinations. Getting them the shots they need would reduce the risk of anyone on the list getting sick, and would also reduce the threat of an outbreak in the community in which they live or travel to [and] from." In the U.S., immunization records — at least, ones which have been put in electronic form at all — are maintained in a mix of databases, including at the state level, or maintained by cities, or by insurance companies and medical providers. Here, some people (like the reader who submitted this story) also see a potential for unwarranted privacy invasion in a national vaccination registry; however, their case isn't helped by often being tied to opposition to vaccination more generally.

Study: Stop Being So Cynical, You Could Give Yourself Dementia

timothy posted about a month ago | from the yeah-right-grandma dept.

Medicine 153

concertina226 (2447056) writes "Scientists from the University of Eastern Finland have found that people who have high levels of cynical distrust are three times as likely to suffer from dementia in later life, than those who have more faith in other people. Their study is the first of its kind to look at the relationship between cynicism and dementia. Entitled: 'Late-life cynical distrust, risk of incident dementia, and mortality in a population-based cohort', it is published in the latest issue of the journal Neurology. Over a period of eight years, the researchers studied 1,499 people, who all had an average age of 71. The participants were given tests for dementia and a questionnaire to measure their level of cynicism, based on the Cook-Medley Scale."

Shrinking Waves May Save Antarctic Sea Ice

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the no-wake-zone dept.

Earth 298

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "It's a nagging thorn in the side of climatologists: Even though the world is warming, the average area of the sea ice around Antarctica is increasing. Climate models haven't explained this seeming contradiction to anyone's satisfaction—and climate change deniers tout that failure early and often. But a new paper suggests a possible explanation: Variability in the heights of ocean waves pounding into the sea ice may help control its advance and retreat."

Robots Will Pave the Way To Mars

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the leading-the-way dept.

Robotics 95

szotz (2505808) writes "There's a lot of skepticism swirling around NASA's plan to send humans to Mars in the 2030's, not to mention all those private missions. If we want to have sustainable (read: not bank-breaking) space exploration, the argument goes, there's no way we can do it the way we've been going to the moon and low-Earth orbit. We have to find a way to exploit space resources and cut down on the amount of stuff we need to launch from Earth. That's not a new idea. But this article in IEEE Spectrum suggests research on resource extraction and fabrication in low and zero gravity might actually be making progress...and that we could take these technologies quite far if we get our act together."

Hunt Intensifies For Aliens On Kepler's Planets

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the there-you-are dept.

Space 93

astroengine (1577233) writes "Could ET be chatting with colleagues or robots on sister planets in its solar system? Maybe so, say scientists who last year launched a new type of Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, project to eavesdrop on aliens. Using data collected by NASA's Kepler space telescope, a team of scientists spent 36 hours listening in when planets in targeted solar systems lined up, relative to Earth's perspective, in hopes of detecting alien interplanetary radio signals. "We think the right strategy in SETI is a variety of strategies. It's really hard to predict what other civilizations might be doing," Dan Werthimer, director of SETI research at the University of California Berkeley, told Discovery News. So far the search hasn't turned up any artificial signals yet, but this marks a change in strategy for radio searches for ETI with Kepler data taking a focused lead."

Can Cyborg Tech End Human Disability By 2064?

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 months ago | from the sweet-robot-arm dept.

Medicine 121

the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "As part of a 50th anniversary celebration, IEEE Spectrum magazine tries to peer into the technological future 50 years out. Its biomedical article foresees the integration of electronic parts into our human bodies, making up for physical, emotional, and intellectual disabilities. The article spotlights the visionaries Hugh Herr, an MIT professor (and double amputee) who wants to build prosthetic limbs that are wired directly into the nervous system; Helen Mayberg, who has developed brain pacemakers to cure depression; and Ted Berger, who's working on neural implants that can restore memory function."

The Earliest Bird To Sip a Flower

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 months ago | from the not-just-for-bees dept.

Science 21

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Researchers have unearthed the earliest evidence of a bird sipping nectar from a flower. The stomach contents of the 47-million-year-old fossil flyer — a long-extinct species of perching bird — include hundreds of grains of pollen. The ancient pollen grains are large and apparently clumped together readily, a clue that the plant that bore the flowers was pollinated by creatures and not by the wind."

The Andromeda Galaxy Just Had a Bright Gamma Ray Event

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 months ago | from the alien-super-weapon dept.

Space 129

First time accepted submitter SpaceMika (867804) writes "We just saw something bright in the Andromeda Galaxy, and we don't know what it was. A Gamma Ray Burst or an Ultraluminous X-Ray Object, either way it will be the closest of its type we've ever observed at just over 2 million light years away. It's the perfect distance: close enough to observe in unprecedented detail, and far enough to not kill us all."

Belief In Evolution Doesn't Measure Science Literacy

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the also-doesn't-measure-temperature-or-blood-pressure dept.

Education 772

cold fjord writes: "Dan Kahan at the Yale Law School Cultural Cognition Project says, 'Because imparting basic comprehension of science in citizens is so critical to enlightened democracy, it is essential that we develop valid measures of it, so that we can assess and improve the profession of teaching science to people. ... The National Science Foundation has been engaged in the project of trying to formulate and promote such a measure for quite some time. A few years ago it came to the conclusion that the item "human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals," shouldn't be included when computing "science literacy." The reason was simple: the answer people give to this question doesn't measure their comprehension of science. People who score at or near the top on the remaining portions of the test aren't any more likely to get this item "correct" than those who do poorly on the remaining portions. What the NSF's evolution item does measure, researchers have concluded, is test takers' cultural identities, and in particular the centrality of religion in their lives.' Kahan also had a previous, related post on the interaction between religiosity and scientific literacy."

The Rule of Three Proved By Physicists

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the omne-trium-perfectum dept.

Science 80

An anonymous reader writes "In 1970, Russian physicist Vitaly Efimov developed mathematical proof (PDF) that any three-particle substance, referred to as a trimer, will scale up or down in size by a factor of 22.7 and that if the particles are not all of the same type, 'the scaling factor of 22.7 decreases according to the particles' relative masses.' In 2006, physicists in Austria proved that Efimov's trimers can be created in laser-cooled environments. And now, in 2014, physicists in Austria, Germany, and the U.S. have physical proof that Efimov's trimers do indeed scale by a factor of 22.7 if they are comprised of the same particles or a lower ratio relative to their particles' masses if they are comprised of a mixture of different particles (abstract 1, abstract 2, abstract 3). 22.7 — a.k.a., the rule of three — now appears to be as significant as pi."

Parenting Rewires the Male Brain

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the swearing-circuits-rerouted-and-patience-circuits-bolstered dept.

Science 291

sciencehabit writes: "Cultures around the world have long assumed that women are hardwired to be mothers. But a new study (abstract) suggests that caring for children awakens a parenting network in the brain—even turning on some of the same circuits in men as it does in women. The research implies that the neural underpinnings of the so-called maternal instinct aren't unique to women, or activated solely by hormones, but can be developed by anyone who chooses to be a parent."

Why You Shouldn't Use Spreadsheets For Important Work

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the they'll-throw-you-in-a-cell dept.

Math 422

An anonymous reader writes "Computer science professor Daniel Lemire explains why spreadsheets shouldn't be used for important work, especially where dedicated software could do a better job. His post comes in response to evaluations of a new economics tome by Thomas Piketty, a book that is likely to be influential for years to come. Lemire writes, 'Unfortunately, like too many people, Piketty used spreadsheets instead of writing sane software. On the plus side, he published his code ... on the negative side, it appears that Piketty's code contains mistakes, fudging and other problems. ... Simply put, spreadsheets are good for quick and dirty work, but they are not designed for serious and reliable work. ... Spreadsheets make code review difficult. The code is hidden away in dozens if not hundreds of little cells If you are not reviewing your code carefully and if you make it difficult for others to review it, how do expect it to be reliable?'"

Wikipedia Medical Articles Found To Have High Error Rate

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the frequently-transpose-black-and-yellow-bile dept.

Wikipedia 200

Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes "A group of researchers publishing in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association found that 90% of the Wikipedia articles they sampled contained errors regarding common medical conditions. Unsurprisingly, they recommend your General Practitioner as a more reliable source, while noting, '47% to 70% of physicians and medical students admitting to using [Wikipedia] as a reference.' At issue in the study is the small sample size the researchers used: 10 medical conditions. There are also ongoing efforts to improve the quality of Wikipedia's articles. According to a Wikipedia spokesman, '... especially in relation to health and medicine.' The BBC has more approachable coverage."

Samsung S5 Reports Stress Levels Through Heart Rate Variability Measure

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the just-happy-to-see-you dept.

Cellphones 62

oztechmuse (2323576) writes "Samsung has just released an updated version of its health software for the Samsung Galaxy S5 that measures stress levels. Using the heart rate sensor on the back of the phone, the S5 will calculate a measure of stress from low to high. Although this may seem far-fetched to some, the phone is actually using a measure of the heart rate to calculate something called 'heart rate variability' or HRV. HRV has been shown to be related to a range of clinical conditions that include problems with the heart but also mental issues of stress and anxiety. Athletes have also used HRV as a measure of over-training and so use heart rate monitors to check if they need rest days. Samsung seems to be claiming the ground in terms of innovation in health-related sensor technology. In addition to the built-in pulse oximeter sensor used for the HRV measurements, Samsung phones now support direct connections to heart rate straps using the Ant+ protocol as well as through Bluetooth. Apple and others have a long way to go to catch up."

Organic Cat Litter May Have Caused Nuclear Waste Accident

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the that's-a-bad-kitty dept.

Earth 174

mdsolar (1045926) writes in with a story about how important buying the right kind of kitty litter can be. "In February, a 55-gallon drum of radioactive waste burst open inside America's only nuclear dump, in New Mexico. Now investigators believe the cause may have been a pet store purchase gone bad. 'It was the wrong kitty litter,' says James Conca, a geochemist in Richland, Wash., who has spent decades in the nuclear waste business. It turns out there's more to cat litter than you think. It can soak up urine, but it's just as good at absorbing radioactive material. 'It actually works well both in the home litter box as well as the radiochemistry laboratory,' says Conca, who is not directly involved in the current investigation. Cat litter has been used for years to dispose of nuclear waste. Dump it into a drum of sludge and it will stabilize volatile radioactive chemicals. The litter prevents it from reacting with the environment. And this is what contractors at Los Alamos National Laboratory were doing as they packed Cold War-era waste for shipment to the dump. But at some point, they decided to make a switch, from clay to organic. 'Now that might sound nice, you're trying to be green and all that, but the organic kitty litters are organic,' says Conca. Organic litter is made of plant material, which is full of chemical compounds that can react with the nuclear waste. 'They actually are just fuel, and so they're the wrong thing to add,' he says. Investigators now believe the litter and waste caused the drum to slowly heat up 'sort of like a slow burn charcoal briquette instead of an actual bomb.' After it arrived at the dump, it burst."

Human "Suspended Animation" Trials To Start This Month

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the buck-rogers dept.

Medicine 104

An anonymous reader writes in with news about a UPMC Presbyterian Hospital trial starting this month which brings us one step closer to suspended animation. "The researchers behind it don't want to call it suspended animation, but it's the most conventional way to explain it. The world's first humans trials will start at the UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh, with 10 patients whose injuries would otherwise be fatal to operate on. A team of surgeons will remove the patient's blood, replacing it with a chilled saline solution that would cool the body, slowing down bodily functions and delaying death from blood loss. According to Dr. Samuel Tisherman, talking to New Scientist: 'We are suspending life, but we don't like to call it suspended animation because it sounds like science fiction... we call it emergency preservation and resuscitation.'" We covered this story a few months ago when it was announced.

The Major Theoretical Blunders That Held Back Progress In Modern Astronomy

samzenpus posted about 2 months ago | from the more-you-don't-know dept.

Space 129

KentuckyFC (1144503) writes "The history of astronomy is littered with ideas that once seemed incontrovertibly right and yet later proved to be bizarrely wrong. Not least among these are the ancient ideas that the Earth is flat and at the center of the universe. But there is no shortage of others from the modern era. Now one astronomer has compiled a list of examples of wrong-thinking that have significantly held back progress in astronomy. These include the idea put forward in 1909 that telescopes had reached optimal size and that little would be gained by making them any bigger. Then there was the NASA committee that concluded that an orbiting x-ray telescope would be of little value. This delayed the eventual launch of the first x-ray telescope by half a decade, which went on to discover the first black hole candidate among other things. And perhaps most spectacularly wrong was the idea that other solar systems must be like our own, with Jupiter-like planets orbiting at vast distances from their parent stars. This view probably delayed the discovery of the first exoplanet by 30 years. Indeed, when astronomers did find the first exo-Jupiter, the community failed to recognize it as a planet for six years. As Mark Twain once put it: 'It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.'"

Mental Illness Reduces Lifespan As Much as Smoking

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the both-at-once-is-just-asking-for-it dept.

Medicine 192

That smoking is bad for your health is a commonplace; cancer, lung disease, and other possible consequences can all shorten smokers' lifespans. A new meta study from researchers at Oxford concludes that mental illness is just as big a factor in shortening lives, and not only because depression is a contributing factor to suicide. From the story at NPR: "We know that smoking boosts the risk of cancer and heart disease, says Dr. Seena Fazel, a psychiatrist at Oxford University who led the study. But aside from the obvious fact that people with mental illnesses are more likely to commit suicide, it's not clear how mental disorders could be causing early deaths. The researchers looked at data on 1.7 million patients, drawing from 20 recent scientific reviews and studies from mostly wealthy countries. Comparing the effects of mental illness and smoking helps put the stats in context, Fazel tells Shots. 'It was useful to benchmark against something that has a very high mortality rate.'" [Press release from Oxford.]

Quad Lasers Deliver Fast, Earth-Based Internet To the Moon

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the but-the-latency dept.

Communications 131

A joint project involving NASA and MIT researchers had demonstrated technology last year that could supply a lunar colony with broadband via lasers ("faster Internet access than many U.S. homes get") and has already demonstrated its worth in communications with spacecraft. From ComputerWorld's article: "The Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) kicked off last September with the launch of NASA's LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer), a research satellite [formerly] orbiting the moon. NASA built a laser communications module into LADEE for use in the high-speed wireless experiment. LLCD has already proved itself, transmitting data from LADEE to Earth at 622Mbps (bits per second) and in the other direction at 19.44Mbps, according to MIT. It beat the fastest-ever radio communication to the moon by a factor of 4,800." Communicating at such distances means overcoming various challenges; one of the biggest is the variability in Earth's atmosphere. The LLCD didn't try to power through the atmosphere at only one spot, therefore, but used four separate beams in the New Mexico desert, each aimed "through a different column of air, where the light-bending effects of the atmosphere are slightly different. That increased the chance that at least one of the beams would reach the receiver on the LADEE. Test results [were] promising, according to MIT, with the 384,633-kilometer optical link providing error-free performance in both darkness and bright sunlight, through partly transparent thin clouds, and through atmospheric turbulence that affected signal power." At the CLEO: 2014 conference in June, researchers will provide a comprehensive explanation of how it worked.

Should We Eat Invasive Species?

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the will-ponder-this-over-some-nutria-mousse dept.

Earth 290

The Washington Post's Energy & Environment section raises today the question of whether the best way to control certain invasive species is to eat them. The biggest success story on this front in the U.S. has been the lionfish; it destroys the habitat of some other fish in the areas where it's been introduced, but it turns out to be a palatable food fish, too. Its population has gone down since the start of a concerted effort to encourage it as a food, rather than just a nuisance. The article touches on invasive species of fish and crustaceans, but also land animals and plants. I know that garlic mustard (widespread in eastern U.S. forests) is tasty, and so are the blackberries all over Seattle.

R Throwdown Challenge

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the if-you-pirate-it-so-much-the-better dept.

Programming 185

theodp (442580) writes "'R beats Python!' screams the headline at Prof. Norm Matloff's Mad (Data) Scientist blog. 'R beats Julia! Anyone else wanna challenge R?' Not that he has anything against Python, Matloff adds, but he just doesn't believe that Python or Julia will become 'the new R' anytime soon, or ever. Why? 'R is written by statisticians, for statisticians,' explains Matloff. 'It matters. An Argentinian chef, say, who wants to make Japanese sushi may get all the ingredients right, but likely it just won't work out quite the same. Similarly, a Pythonista could certainly cook up some code for some statistical procedure by reading a statistics book, but it wouldn't be quite same. It would likely be missing some things of interest to the practicing statistician. And R is Statistically Correct.'"

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