2015 Nobel Prize In Chemistry Awarded To 3 For DNA Repair

An anonymous reader writes: Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar have earned the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their discoveries about how DNA is repaired at the cellular level (PDF), and how genetic information is protected. "Each day our DNA is damaged by UV radiation, free radicals and other carcinogenic substances, but even without such external attacks, a DNA molecule is inherently unstable. Thousands of spontaneous changes to a cell's genome occur on a daily basis. Furthermore, defects can also arise when DNA is copied during cell division, a process that occurs several million times every day in the human body."

Tomas Lindahl first published work in this field back in 1974, when he found a bacterial enzyme that culled damaged remains of cytosines from DNA. He methodically worked out how base excision repair works, and even managed to recreate the process in vitro in 1996. Aziz Sancar's contribution has to do with how DNA repairs damage from ultraviolet light. After struggling to find a lab interested in his work, he went on to show how a group of enzymes identify and excise UV damage. Paul Modrich's focus was on how natural processes corrected base pair mismatches in DNA. He spent a decade laboriously mapping out how each enzyme interacted with this process — an important thing to know, since defects in the repair system can cause cells to turn cancerous.

Endocannabinoids Contribute To Runner's High 14

MTorrice writes: After a nice long bout of aerobic exercise, some people experience what's known as a "runner's high" — a feeling of euphoria coupled with reduced anxiety and a lessened ability to feel pain. For decades, scientists have associated this phenomenon with an increased level in the blood of beta-endorphins, which are opioid peptides thought to elevate mood. Now, German researchers have shown the brain's endocannabinoid system—the same one affected by marijuana's 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—may also play a role in producing runner's high, at least in mice.
The Almighty Buck

FAA Proposes $1.9 Million Fine For Unauthorized Drone Use 49

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has been under pressure to regulate the nascent drone industry. It's obvious they lack a clear idea of how to proceed — but they're trying. Today they announced a proposal to fine SkyPan International a whopping $1.9 million for allegedly conducting 65 unauthorized commercial drone flights over Chicago and New York City. The flights occurred over a period of almost three years, for the purpose of aerial photography. 43 of the flights impinged upon highly restricted airspace, and the FAA says none of them were "without risk." They bluntly allege that SkyPan "operated the aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger lives or property." SkyPan now has 30 days to respond.
The Courts

All Malibu Media Subpoenas In Eastern District NY Put On Hold 22

NewYorkCountryLawyer sends an update on the progress of Malibu Media, the company that filed subpoenas and copyright lawsuits over alleged BitTorrent piracy of pornography films: A federal Magistrate Judge in Central Islip, New York, has just placed all Malibu Media subpoenas in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, and Staten Island on hold indefinitely, due to "serious questions" raised by a motion to quash (PDF) filed in one of them. Judge Steven Locke's 4-page Order and Decision (PDF) cited the defendant's arguments that "(i) the common approach for identifying allegedly infringing BitTorrent users, and thus the Doe Defendant, is inconclusive; (ii) copyright actions, especially those involving the adult film industry, are susceptible to abusive litigation practices; and (iii) Malibu Media in particular has engaged in abusive litigation practices" as being among the reasons for his issuance of the stay.

Windows Phone Store Increasingly Targeted With Fake Mobile Apps 52

An anonymous reader writes: A post by security company Avast says not only are a large amount of fake apps available from the third-party marketplace of the Windows Phone Store, but they also remain available for quite a while despite negative comments and other flags from end-users. Avast speculates that improved security and auditing procedures at rival stores such as Google Play account for the increasing attention that fake app-publishers are giving to the Windows phone app market.

Researchers Create 'Habitability Index' For Exoplanets 30

hypnosec writes: The Kepler Space Telescope has allowed astronomers to detect and catalog thousands of exoplanets and exoplanet candidates. With more powerful telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope scheduled for launch, scientists will be able to check if any of these exoplanets are habitable. But these space telescopes are expensive to create, and access time is coveted. This means simply pointing telescopes to random exoplanets isn't a practical proposition. That's why researchers have created what they call a "habitability index for transiting planets," with which astronomers will be able to prioritize the use of space telescopes for finding habitable planets. Their paper is available at the arXiv.

DARPA Jolts the Nervous System With Electricity, Lasers, Sound Waves, and Magnets 27

the_newsbeagle writes: DARPA is sinking some cash into the buzzy new research field of "electroceuticals," which involves stimulating nerves to control the activity of organs or bodily systems. The newest techniques have little in common with electroshock therapy, which sends a strong current broadly through the brain tissue; today's cutting-edge methods can target individual neurons, and turn them "on" and "off" with great precision. Under DARPA's new ElectRx program, seven research teams will explore different ways to modulate activity of the peripheral nervous system. Some will stimulate neurons directly with electricity, while others will take more roundabout routes involving light, acoustics, and magnetic fields.

Why Is RAM Suddenly So Cheap? It Might Be Windows 144

jfruh writes: The average price of a 4GB DDR3 memory DIMM at the moment $18.50 — a price that's far lower than at this time last year. Why is it so cheap? The memory business tends to go in boom and bust cycles, but the free availability of Windows 10 means that fewer people are upgrading their PCs, reducing RAM demand. Analyst Avril Wu said, "Notebook shipments in the third quarter fall short of what is expected for a traditional peak season mainly because Windows 10 with its free upgrade plan negatively impacted replaced sales of notebooks to some extent rather than driving the demand for these products." And prices might stay low for another two years.

Getting More Women Coders Into Open Source 414

Nerval's Lobster writes: Diversity remains an issue in tech firms across the nation, with executives and project managers publicly upset over a lack of women in engineering and programming roles. While all that's happening on the corporate side, a handful of people and groups are trying to get more women involved in the open source community, like Women of OpenStack, Outreachy (which is geared toward people from underrepresented groups in free software), and others. How much effort should be expended to facilitate diversity among programmers? Can anything be done to shift the demographics, considering the issues that even large, coordinated companies have with altering the collective mix of their employees?

Larry Wall Unveils Perl 6.0.0 111

An anonymous reader writes: Last night Larry Wall unveiled the first development release of Perl 6, joking that now a top priority was fixing bugs that could be mistaken for features. The new language features meta-programming — the ability to define new bits of syntax on your own to extend the language, and even new infix operators. Larry also previewed what one reviewer called "exotic and new" features, including the sequence operator and new control structures like "react" and "gather and take" lists. "We don't want their language to run out of steam," Larry told the audience. "It might be a 30- or 40-year language. I think it's good enough."

Ubuntu Plans To Make ZFS File-System Support Standard On Linux 180

An anonymous reader writes: Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth revealed today that they're planning to make ZFS standard on Ubuntu. They are planning to include ZFS file-system as "standard in due course," but no details were revealed beyond that. However, ZFS On Linux contributor Richard Yao has said they do plan on including it in their kernel for 16.04 LTS and the GPL vs. CDDL license worries aren't actually a problem. Many Linux users have been wanting ZFS on Linux, but aside from the out of tree module there hasn't been any luck in including it in the mainline kernel or with tier-one Linux distributions due to license differences.

Verizon Is Merging Its Cellphone Tracking Supercookie with AOL's Ad Tracking Network 84

schwit1 writes: ProPublica reports that Verizon is giving a new mission to its controversial hidden identifier that tracks users of mobile devices. Verizon said in a little-noticed announcement that it will soon begin sharing the profiles with AOL's ad network, which in turn monitors users across a large swath of the Internet. That means AOL's ad network will be able to match millions of Internet users to their real-world details gathered by Verizon, including — "your gender, age range and interests." AOL's network is on 40 percent of websites, including on ProPublica.

Porsche Chooses Apple Over Google Because Google Wants Too Much Data 325

countach44 writes: As reported in number 5 of this list from Motor Trend, Porsche went with Apple over Google for the infotainment system in its new 911. Apparently, Android Auto wants vehicle data (throttle position, speed, coolant temp, etc.) whereas Apple Play only needs to know if the car is in motion. Naturally, people are curious what Google, as a company building its own car, wants that data for.
The Internet

Scandal Erupts In Unregulated Online World of Fantasy Sports 157 writes: Joe Drape and Jacqueline Williams report at the NYT that a major scandal is erupting in the multibillion-dollar industry of fantasy sports, the online and unregulated business in which an estimated 57 million people participate where players assemble their fantasy teams with real athletes. Two major fantasy sports companies were forced to release statements defending their businesses' integrity after what amounted to allegations of insider trading — that employees were placing bets using information not generally available to the public. "It is absolutely akin to insider trading. It gives that person a distinct edge in a contest," says Daniel Wallach. "It could imperil this nascent industry unless real, immediate and meaningful safeguards are put in place."

In FanDuel's $5 million "NFL Sunday Million" contest this week, DraftKings employee Ethan Haskell placed second and won $350,000 with his lineup that had a mix of big-name players owned by a high number of users. Haskell had access to DraftKings ownership data meaning that he may have seen which NFL players had been selected by DraftKings users, and by how many users. In light of this scandal, DraftKings and FanDuel have, for now, banned their employees from playing on each other's sites. Many in the highly regulated casino industry insist daily fantasy sports leagues are gambling sites and shouldn't be treated any differently than traditional sports betting. This would mean a high amount of regulation. Industry analyst Chris Grove says this may be a watershed moment for a sector that may need the legislation it has resisted in order to prove its legitimacy. "You have information that is valuable and should be tightly restricted," says Grove. "There are people outside of the company that place value on that information. Is there any internal controls? Any audit process? The inability of the industry to produce a clear and compelling answer to these questions to anyone's satisfaction is why it needs to be regulated."

Team Constructs Silicon 2-qubit Gate, Enabling Construction of Quantum Computers 86

monkeyzoo writes: A team at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney has made a crucial advance in quantum computing. Their advance, appearing in the journal Nature (abstract), demonstrated a two-qubit logic gate — the central building block of a quantum computer — and, significantly, did it in silicon. This makes the building of a quantum computer much more feasible, since it is based on the same manufacturing technology as today's computer industry. Until now, it had not been possible to make two quantum bits 'talk' to each other — and thereby create a logic gate — using silicon. But the UNSW team — working with Professor Kohei M. Itoh of Japan's Keio University — has done just that for the first time. The result means that all of the physical building blocks for a silicon-based quantum computer have now been successfully constructed, allowing engineers to finally begin the task of designing and building a functioning quantum computer.