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Study: Rats Regret Making the Wrong Decision

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the I-should-have-been-a-cat dept.

Science 94

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the University of Minnesota have discovered that rats in a decision making experiment showed three behaviors consistent with regret. David Redish and his graduate student Adam Steiner '...trained rats to do a task they call "restaurant row." The rat ran around a circle past a series of four spokes, each leading to a different flavor of food. As the rat came to the entrance of each spoke, a tone sounded that indicated how long it would have to wait to receive that specific flavor of food. The rat could choose whether to stay or go, depending on how much it liked that food and how long it would have to wait...The rats showed three behaviors consistent with regret. First, the rats only looked backwards in the regret conditions, and not in the disappointment conditions. Second, they were more likely to take a bad deal if they had just passed up a good deal. And third, instead of taking their time eating and then grooming themselves afterwards, the rats in the regret conditions wolfed down the food and immediately took off to the next restaurant.'"

Lyme Bacterium's Possible Ancestor Found In Ancient Tick

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the old-school-sick dept.

Medicine 30

Taco Cowboy (5327) writes "A few ancient ticks, some 15-million to 20-million years old, trapped inside a piece of amber were bought by a researcher some 25 years ago, in the Dominican Republic. Upon examination, he found ancient spirochetes bacterium, a group of rotini-shaped bacteria responsible for many human diseases, in one of the ticks. Although Lyme disease did not exist back then, the spirochetes in the fossil tick probably contributed to the genetic diversity of the 12 or more species of Borrelia that cause Lyme and similar diseases today, says George Poinar. 'Parasites represent at least half of all modern animal species, and that distribution probably held true millions of years ago, too. “In a sense, this [finding] is not surprising since virtually every species on the planet is parasitized,” says Armand Kuris, a parasitologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who was not involved in the study. Evidence of those ancient parasite–host associations is difficult to come by, however. “In terms of finding any kind of physical documentation in the fossil record, that’s really rare — especially for a microbial pathogen,” Kuris says. “That’s what makes this paper just plain interesting.”'"

Brownsville SpaceX Space Port Faces More Regulatory Hurdles

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the hurry-up-and-wait dept.

Government 78

MarkWhittington (1084047) writes "It turns out that the recent FAA environmental impact statement that seemed to give a stamp of approval for the proposed SpaceX space port in south Texas is not the end of the regulatory process, but the end of the beginning. A story in the Brownsville Herald reminds us that the report has kicked off a 30 day review period after which the FAA can allow SpaceX to apply for a launch license to start work on the Brownsville area launch facility. And that in turn kicks off a 180 day process during which the FAA makes the decision whether or not to grant the required licensing and permits.

But even that is not the end of the regulatory hurdles that SpaceX must face before the first Falcon rocket roars into the skies over the Gulf of Mexico. The Longview News-Journal reports that a number of state and federal agencies must give their approval for various aspects of the space port before it becomes operational. For instance, the Texas Department of Transportation must give approval for the movement of utility lines. Environment Texas still opposes the space port since it is close to a wild life reserve and a state park. SpaceX has already agreed to enact measures to minimize the impact the space port would have on the environment, 'such as containing waste materials from the construction and enforcing a speed limit in the control center area.' Environment Texas is not impressed, however. Whether it is disposed to make trouble in the courts is an open question."

Scientists Race To Save Miami Coral Doomed By Dredging

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the last-chance dept.

Earth 99

An anonymous reader writes "Miami scientists are scrambling to rescue a crop of coral at the bottom of one of the world's busiest shipping channels that they say could hold clues about climate change. 'The coral, which may hold clues about how sea life adapts to climate change, is growing in Government Cut. The channel, created more than a century ago, leads to PortMiami and is undergoing a $205 million dredging project — scheduled to begin Saturday — to deepen the sea floor by about 10 feet in time for a wave of new monster cargo ships cruising through an expanded Panama Canal starting in 2015. Endangered coral and larger coral have already been removed by a team hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is overseeing the dredging work. But the remaining coral, deemed "corals of opportunity" in Corps lingo, can be retrieved with a permit. The problem, scientists say, is they only had 12 days between when the permits were issued last month and the start of dredging, not nearly enough time to save the unusual colonies thriving in Government Cut.'"

NASA Beams Hi-Def Video From Space Via Laser

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the beam-it-down dept.

ISS 38

An anonymous reader writes "NASA successfully beamed a high-definition video 260 miles from the International Space Station to Earth Thursday using a new laser communications instrument. Transmission of 'Hello, World!' as a video message was the first 175-megabit communication for the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS), a technology demonstration that allows NASA to test methods for communication with future spacecraft using higher bandwidth than radio waves." Last September, NASA's LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) showed that they could supply a lunar colony with broadband via lasers.

Mars Base Design Competition Open To Non-Scientific Professionals

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the print-a-home-for-a-nice-martian dept.

Mars 94

An anonymous reader writes "MakerBot, in collaboration with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), is hosting a competition for the design of a future Mars base. The competition is open to any Thingiverse account holder regardless of professional or educational background. Winners will be chosen by a subjective panel of JPL and MakerBot employees based on scientific feasibility, creativity, and printability. Contest ends June 12, and contestants have to be at least 13 years old. The first place winner will receive a MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D printer and three spools of MakerBot Filament. The second place winner will receive two spools, and the third place winner will receive one spool. All three will have their design featured on Thingiverse." You can also browse the entries so far.

Robotics Engineers: "We Don't Want To Replace Humans. We Want To Enhance Humans.

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the resistance-is-futile dept.

Robotics 124

Lucas123 writes: 'Scientists developing smart robotic prosthetics say the lines between robots and humans is beginning to blur and that someday soon people will be able to improve their body. For example, robotic prosthetics, using a built-in computer, 100 sensors, and 17 motors, can take natural cues from a user's residual limb, giving him or her the dexterity and grace to play a piano. Robotic exoskeletons have helped people suffering from paralysis walk again and the U.S. military is just weeks away from testing a new exoskeleton. And, more than six years ago, a University of Arizona researcher who had successfully connected a moth's brain to a robot predicted that by 2022 we'll be using "hybrid" computers that run a combination of technology and living organic tissue. "By utilizing technology, you're able to improve your body beyond anything you could do in the past," said Daniel Wilson, an engineer with degrees in machine learning and robotics from Carnegie Mellon University.'

Updating the Integrated Space Plan

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the i-vote-for-warp-drive dept.

Space 65

garyebickford writes 'Space Finance Group (in which I'm a partner) has launched a Kickstarter to fund updating the "famous Integrated Space Plan", created by Ron Jones at Rockwell International in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and can be found on walls in the industry even today. The new Plan will be a poster, but also will provide the initial core data for a new website. The permanent link will be thespaceplan.com. As additional resources become available the website will be able to contain much more information, with (eventually) advanced data management (possibly including sources like Linked Data) and visualization tools to become a resource for education, research, entertainment, and business analytics. The group also hopes to support curated crowdsourcing of some data, and is talking to Space Development companies about providing data about themselves. They hope to be able to construct new timelines and show the relations between events and entities — companies, agencies, people, etc.'

Wikipedia Mining Algorithm Reveals the Most Influential People In History

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the jesus-loses-to-a-botanist dept.

Wikipedia 231

KentuckyFC writes: 'In 1978, the American researcher Michael Hart published The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, a book that became an international best seller. Since then, various others have published similar lists. But all suffer the same drawback: they are subjective list ultimately influenced by numerous cultural factors. Now data scientists have come up with a way to extract an objective list of the 100 most influential people in history using the network of links between biographical articles on Wikipedia and how they vary between 24 different language editions, including English, Chinese, Russian Arabic and so on. The researchers assume that people who are highly ranked in different language editions are influential across both language cultures and that the more appearances they make in different language editions, the more influential they are. But the actual ranking is done by PageRank-like algorithms that consider a biographical article important if it is pointed to by other important articles.

The resulting lists of the most influential men and women might surprise. The top PageRanked individual is Carl Linnaeus, the 18th century Swedish botanist who developed the modern naming scheme for plants and animals, followed by Jesus. The top PageRanked women are: Elizabeth II followed by Mary (mother of Jesus). For comparison, just under half of the top 100 most influential also appear in Hart's 1978 book. But this is just the beginning. By counting the individuals from one culture that influence other cultures, the team is able to work out which cultures have dominated others. And by looking only at people born before certain dates, they can see how the influence of different cultures has waxed and waned throughout 35 centuries of recorded history.'

Fasting Triggers Stem Cell Regeneration of Damaged, Old Immune System

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the fasting-counters-slowing dept.

Medicine 148

schwit1 sends word of research showing that cycles of prolonged fasting can both protect the immune system from harm and also induce regeneration by causing stem cells to start renewing themselves. 'In both mice and a Phase 1 human clinical trial (abstract), long periods of not eating significantly lowered white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles then "flipped a regenerative switch," changing the signaling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems, the research showed. "PKA is the key gene that needs to shut down in order for these stem cells to switch into regenerative mode. It gives the OK for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system," explained [study author Valter Longo], noting the potential of clinical applications that mimic the effects of prolonged fasting to rejuvenate the immune system. "And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting. Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or aging, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system."'

Electrical Control of Nuclear Spin Qubits: Important Step For Quantum Computing

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the now-you're-cooking-with-electricity dept.

Supercomputing 42

Taco Cowboy writes: "Using a spin cascade in a single-molecule magnet, scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and their French partners have demonstrated that a single nuclear spin can be realized in a purely electric manner, rather than through the use of magnetic fields (abstract). For their experiments, the researchers used a nuclear spin-qubit transistor that consists of a single-molecule magnet connected to three electrodes (source, drain, and gate). The single-molecule magnet is a TbPc2 molecule — a single metal ion of terbium that is enclosed by organic phthalocyanine molecules of carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen atoms. The gap between the electric field and the spin is bridged by the so-called hyperfine-Stark effect that transforms the electric field into a local magnetic field. This quantum mechanical process can be transferred to all nuclear spin systems and, hence, opens up entirely novel perspectives for integrating quantum effects in nuclear spins into electronic circuits"

Astronomers Solve Puzzle of Mysterious Streaks In Radio Images of the Sky

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the smudges-on-the-lens dept.

Space 66

KentuckyFC (1144503) writes 'Back in 2012, astronomers constructed an array of 256 radio antennas in the high deserts of New Mexico designed to listen for radio waves produced by gamma ray bursts, one of the most energetic phenomena in universe and thought to be associated with the collapse of a rapidly rotating stars to form neutron stars and black holes. The array generates all sky images of signals produced in the 25 MHz to 75 MHz region of the spectrum. But when researchers switched it on, they began to observe puzzling streaks across the sky that couldn't possibly be generated by gamma ray bursts. One source left a trail covering more than 90 degrees of the sky in less than 10 seconds. This trail then slowly receded to an endpoint which glowed for around 90 seconds. Now the first study of these transient radio signals has discovered that they are almost certainly produced by fireballs as they burn up after entering the Earth's atmosphere. The conclusion comes after the researchers were able to match several of the radio images with visible light images of fireballs gathered by NASA's All Sky Fireball Network. That solves the mystery but not without introducing another to keep astrophysicists busy in future. The question they're scratching their heads over now is how the plasma trails left by meteors can emit radio waves at this frequency.'

Mad Cow Disease Blamed For Patient's Death In Texas

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the where'd-it-come-from dept.

Medicine 132

An anonymous reader writes 'Health officials say a patient in Texas has died of a rare brain disorder believed to be caused by consumption of beef products contaminated with mad cow disease. It is only the fourth known case of its kind in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement that recent laboratory tests confirmed a diagnosis of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the patient.' From the article: 'The CDC says the Texas patient's history included extensive travel to Europe and the Middle East and that it is likely the infection occurred overseas. In each of the three previous U.S. deaths, the initial infection is believed to have taken place in other countries. ... The Texas Department of State Health Services says there are no state public health concerns or threats associated with the case. State and federal health officials continue to investigate and are trying to track the source of the infection.'

Aspiring Astronaut Gideon Gidori Invents a New Holiday: Star Day (Video)

Roblimo posted about a month and a half ago | from the it's-easier-to-make-a-wish-than-to-make-it-come-true dept.

Space 46

Gideon wants to be an astronaut. You could even describe him as "space-obsessed." He wants to be the first astronaut from Tanzania. The only African to make it into space so far is Mark Shuttleworth, who is from South Africa. Can Gideon talk Elon Musk into launching from Tanzania, which is directly on the equator? How about bringing in other space buffs and entrepreneurs? Don't think this is a silly idea. Gideon is only 14, but he's a straight-A student at the Florida Air Academy, and before that was one of the top students at Shepherds Junior School in Arusha, which Mama Lucy Kamptoni originally financed by raising and selling chickens. Gideon's scholarships to Shepherds and later to Florida Air Academy have been financed in part by EpicChange.org, which is also helping him spread the word about Star Day (tomorrow; June 7), the holiday Gideon created, which is being celebrated all over the world even in this, its first year of existence. You can celebrate it, too. All you have to do, weather permitting, is sleep outdoors under the stars, and maybe make a wish or two. After all, wishing (and a lot of studying and hard work) have helped Gideon get to where he is today, and may yet help him become Tanzania's first astronaut.

Lose Sleep, Fail To Form Memory

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the expect-dupes-if-i-miss-my-nap dept.

Medicine 85

Rambo Tribble writes: 'A research team of Chinese and American scientists claim to have witnessed the mechanism by which sleep contributes to the formation of memories. Using advanced microscopy, the researchers witnessed synapses being formed in the brain of sleeping mice recently exposed to a learning task (abstract). They compared this to similarly tasked mice, that were subsequently sleep-deprived. The sleeping mice showed a marked increase in the formation of new synapses. As one researcher explained, "We thought sleep helped, but it could have been other causes, and we show it really helps to make connections and that in sleep the brain is not quiet, it is replaying what happened during the day and it seems quite important for making the connections.'''

Whom Must You Trust?

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the mainly-just-late-night-infomercial-spokepeople dept.

Crime 120

CowboyRobot writes: 'In ACM's Queue, Thomas Wadlow argues that "Whom you trust, what you trust them with, and how much you trust them are at the center of the Internet today." He gives a checklist of what to look for when evaluating any system for trustworthiness, chock full of fascinating historical examples. These include NASA opting for a simpler, but more reliable chip; the Terry Childs case; and even an 18th century "semaphore telegraph" that was a very early example of steganographic cryptography. From the article: "Detecting an anomaly is one thing, but following up on what you've detected is at least as important. In the early days of the Internet, Cliff Stoll, then a graduate student at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories in California, noticed a 75-cent accounting error on some computer systems he was managing. Many would have ignored it, but it bothered him enough to track it down. That investigation led, step by step, to the discovery of an attacker named Markus Hess, who was arrested, tried, and convicted of espionage and selling information to the Soviet KGB."'

Lego To Produce Three Box Sets Featuring Female Scientists

Soulskill posted about a month and a half ago | from the also-known-as-scientists dept.

Science 208

vossman77 writes: 'According to the Chicago Tribune, "Lego will produce a limited-edition box set called Research Institute, featuring three female scientists in the act of learning more about our world and beyond." The concept received 10,000 supporters on the LEGO ideas site. Creator Ellen Kooijman writes in a blog post, "As a female scientist I had noticed two things about the available Lego sets: a skewed male/female minifigure ratio and a rather stereotypical representation of the available female figures. It seemed logical that I would suggest a small set of female mini-figures in interesting professions to make our Lego city communities more diverse." LEGO says, "The final design, pricing and availability are still being worked out, but it's on track to be released August 2014."'

Evidence of Protoplanet Found On Moon

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the back-in-the-day dept.

Space 105

mrspoonsi (2955715) writes 'Researchers have found evidence of the world that crashed into the Earth billions of years ago to form the Moon. Analysis of lunar rock brought back by Apollo astronauts shows traces of the "planet" called Theia. The researchers claim that their discovery confirms the theory that the Moon was created by just such a cataclysmic collision. The accepted theory since the 1980s is that the Moon arose as a result of a collision between the Earth and Theia 4.5bn years ago. It is the simplest explanation, and fits in well with computer simulations. The main drawback with the theory is that no one had found any evidence of Theia in lunar rock samples. Earlier analyses had shown Moon rock to have originated entirely from the Earth whereas computer simulations had shown that the Moon ought to have been mostly derived from Theia. Now a more refined analysis of Moon rock has found evidence of material thought to have an alien origin.'

Why NASA's Budget "Victory" Is Anything But

samzenpus posted about a month and a half ago | from the not-so-fast dept.

NASA 267

StartsWithABang (3485481) writes 'Earlier this week, attempts to cut NASA's budget were defeated, and it looks like the largest space agency in the world will actually be getting nearly a 2% budget increase overall. While common news outlets are touting this as a great budget victory, the reality is that this is shaping up to be just another year of pathetic funding levels, putting our greatest dreams of exploring and understanding the Universe on hold. A sobering read for anyone who hasn't realized what we could be doing.'

ISS-Above Tells You When the International Space Station is Overhead (Video)

Roblimo posted about a month and a half ago | from the look-up-in-the-sky-it's-a-bird-it's-a-plane-it's-a-space-station dept.

Space 59

It's a device, and quite a small one, based on the Raspberry Pi. It tells you when the ISS is visible from your part of the world and when it will soon be visible so you can grab the kids and dogs and run outside to wave at the astronauts. Or just to watch the closest thing humanity has to a space colony orbit the Earth. Liam Kennedy, ISS-Above's creator, points out that the ISS passes over most of the inhabited parts of the Earth five or six times a day, which is more than most people know. And about ISS-Above and Kickstarter: It's too late to climb on that wagon, and it already was when this interview was recorded in mid-May. But don't despair. Liam managed to raise $17,731 -- which was far more than his $5000 goal. Can you buy one of these things in its various manifestations? Yes. But you need to look long and hard at the ISS-Above website to spot the all-caps word HERE that takes you to the order page. Liam also points out that you can get all kinds of smartphone apps that will tell you where the ISS is at any given moment, but the ISS-Above has an advantage or two over those apps that will be revealed only to those who watch the video or read the transcript. (Alternate Video Link)

SpaceX Landing Video Cleanup Making Progress

timothy posted about a month and a half ago | from the from-worse-to-bad dept.

Bug 54

Maddog Batty (112434) writes 'The fine people at the NASA Space Flight Forum are making good progress on restoring the corrupted landing video reported earlier. It worth looking at the original video to see how bad it was and then at the latest restored video. It is now possible to see the legs being deployed, the sea coming closer and a big flame ball as the rocket plume hits the water. An impressive improvement so far and it is still being actively worked on so further refinements are likely.' Like Maddog Batty, I'd suggest watching the restored version first (note: the video is lower on the page), to see just what a big improvement's been made so far.

Ear Grown From Van Gogh DNA On Display

samzenpus posted about a month and a half 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 a month and a half 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 a month and a half 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 a month and a half 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 a month and a half 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 a month and a half 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 a month and a half 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 a month and a half 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 a month and a half 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 a month and a half 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 a month and a half 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 1 month 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 1 month 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 1 month 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 1 month 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 1 month 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 2 months 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 2 months 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.)

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