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Florida Group Wants To Make Space a 2016 Presidential Campaign Issue ( 118

MarkWhittington writes: According to a story on News 13, an Orlando TV station, Space Florida is working to make space a political issue in the 2016 presidential election. Thus far the campaign for the presidency has been dominated by more mundane issues such as the economy, illegal immigration, and the threat of terrorism. Space Florida, which is "the State of Florida's aerospace economic development agency," is said to be "working with three other battleground states to make sure America's space program is a part of the campaign for president." Presumably one of those states is Texas, which has lots of electoral votes
The Internet

Same Birthday, Same Social Security Number, Same Mess For Two Florida Women ( 214

itwbennett writes: After 25 years, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has fessed up to giving two Florida women who shared a name and a birthday the same social security number. The women only recently discovered that they shared an SSN, but not before having trouble getting loans and having tax returns rejected. You might think that the SSA would catch something like this, but as it turns out, they are prohibited from trying to verify the legitimate owner of an SSN, except in rare cases, says Ken Meiser, VP of identity solutions at ID Analytics, provider of credit and fraud risk solutions. And the problem isn't as rare as you might think (except for the part about two women with the same name born on the same day in the same state). According to a 2010 study by ID Analytics, some 40 million SSNs are associated with multiple people.
The Internet

Cuba's Internet Routing Is Messed Up 64

Internet access in Cuba has gotten far better in the last year, thanks in large part to thawing relations between Cuba's government and the U.S. In the case of a censorship-heavy, technology-impaired regime, though, "better" doesn't necessarily mean good. Northwestern engineering professor Fabián E. Bustamante and graduate student Zachary Bischof decided to quantify the performance of Cuban internet connections, and found them "perhaps even worse than they expected," with regards to routing in particular. Reader TheSync writes with this excerpt: During their study, Bustamante and Bischof found that when a person in Havana searched for a topic on Google, for example, the request traveled through the marine cable to Venezuela, then through another marine cable to the United States, and finally landed at a Google server in Dallas, Texas. When the search results traveled back, it went to Miami, Florida, up to the satellite, and then back to Cuba. While the information out of Cuba took 60-70 milliseconds, it took a whopping 270 milliseconds to travel back.

The Popular Over-The-Counter Cold Medicine That Science Says Doesn't Work ( 310 writes: Back before methamphetamine cooks started buying up non-prescription decongestants to brew crank, all of us were able to buy effective decongestants right off the store shelf without a problem. Now David DiSalvo writes at Forbes that to fill the store-shelf void, drug companies substituted the already-FDA approved ingredient phenylephrine for pseudoephedrine. But the oral decongestant phenylephrine simply doesn't work at the FDA-approved amount found in popular non-prescription brands, and it may not even work at much higher doses. Researchers at the University of Florida are asking the FDA to remove oral phenylephrine from the market. "We think the evidence supports that phenylephrine's status as a safe and effective over-the-counter product should be changed," says Randy Hatton. "We are looking out for the consumer, and he or she needs to know that science says that oral phenylephrine does not work for the majority of people."

In 1976, the FDA deemed a 10 milligram oral dose of phenylephrine safe and effective at relieving congestion, making it possible for companies to use the ingredient without conducting studies. But Leslie Hendeles and Hatton say phenylephrine does not effectively relieve nasal stuffiness at this dose. They say the FDA cited four tests demonstrating efficacy at the 10 milligram dose, two of which were unpublished and sponsored by drug manufacturers. In contrast, the FDA cited six tests demonstrating no significant difference between phenylephrine and placebo. Hendeles said a higher dose may work, but no research has been published regarding safety at higher doses. "They need to do a dose-response study to determine at what higher dose they get both efficacy and safety," says Hendeles adding that until then "consumers should go that extra step and get it (pseudoephedrine) from behind the counter."


3D Printing Soft Body Parts: a Hard Problem That Just Got Easier ( 19

sciencehabit writes: Humans are squishy. That's a problem for researchers trying to construct artificial tissues and organs, and one that two separate teams of engineers may have just solved. Using a dish of goo the consistency of mayonnaise as a supporting 'bath,' a team led by biomedical engineer Adam Feinberg at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, can now print 3D biological materials that don't collapse under their own weight as they form—a difficulty that has long stood in the way of printing soft body parts (abstract). Once printed, the structures are stiff enough to support themselves, and they can be retrieved by melting away the supportive goo. The other team, from the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville, has a similar system for printing (abstract), but without the slick trick of the melting goo.

Experts Chime In To Explain Fukushima Thryoid Cancer Concerns ( 130

An anonymous reader writes: Experts and the lead author of the Fukushima study findings explain what the data really tells us and the flaws in claims that there is a link between the disaster and cancer rates. From the article: "It is too soon to determine the influence of radiation exposure on thyroid cancer risk among children and adolescents who were exposed to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, according to the lead author of findings presented at the 15th International Thyroid Congress (ITC) and 85th Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association (ATA) this week in Lake Buena Vista, Florida."
Social Networks

Live-Streaming Florida Woman Charged With Drunken Driving 327 writes: Christine Hauser writes in the NY Times that police in Lakeland, Florida say 911 dispatchers started receiving calls Saturday from viewers who were watching a woman broadcasting herself while apparently driving drunk, using the live-streaming app Periscope. Despite the tip being generated in the virtual world, it took some traditional police sleuthing to find the woman and, ultimately, arrest and charge her. The woman first invited her viewers to follow her as she went bar-hopping in downtown Lakeland. During the live stream, Beall repeatedly said that she was drunk and appeared to be asking viewers for directions. She noticed that there were at least 57 people watching and asked, "So where am I right now, people?" One 911 caller said Beall was driving a Toyota in the north Lakeland area. "I just saw a girl on Periscope driving drunk. She doesn't know where she is and she's driving really fast," said the caller. As officers pulled Beall over, her 2015 Toyota Corolla, which already had a flat right front tire, rammed into a curb. Beall failed the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and she refused the breathalyzer test.

The Life-Saving Gifts of the World's Most Venomous Animal ( 49

tedlistens writes: It was a terrible sting off the coast of Hawaii that inspired Angel Yanagihara, a biology researcher, to spend her life studying the bizarre culprit. Comprising some 50 species, box jellyfish are not like other jellyfish: they have 24 eyes, can move with intention and at surprising speed, and have something resembling a brain. They are also considered to be among the most venomous animals on Earth, killing more people every year than sharks do. Once inside the body, its venom acts "like buckshot" on blood cells. One species, the four-pound, nine-foot-long sea wasp, is said to have enough venom at any one time to kill ninety to one hundred and twenty humans.

As ocean currents and biomes change, various species of dangerous box jellyfish have shown up in places where they have not recently been abundant, including Japan, India, Israel, Florida, and the Jersey Shore. But compared to other venoms, research on jellyfish has remained in the dark ages. New methods for collecting venom—including one that relies on beer—along with a better understanding of box-jelly biochemistry may point to better non-antibiotic protections from them, and to novel defenses for humans against other fatal infections from anthrax and the antibiotic-resistant "superbug" MRSA, says Yanagihara. (Venoms are already the basis of a handful of FDA-approved drugs that have generated billions for the pharma industry.) Now the U.S. military is helping to fund Yanagihara's research, and applying a cream she developed to thwart box jellyfish, which have already left serious stings on a dozen Army divers at a training facility in Florida, and forced one diver out of the program.


A Wikipedia-Style Tree of Life Emerges 72

The Christian Science Monitor reports on the newly announced Open Tree of Life, a freely accessible unified interface to, and archive, of biological taxonomies. In the current version, data from nearly 500 evolutionary timelines has been assembled into a single, searchable view of all known life forms; From the CSM report: Building the computer code and compiling the data took three years, and involved collaborators from Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History, the Web development firm Interrobang, the University of Michigan, the University of Florida, Duke University, and George Washington University. "Many participants on the project contributed hundreds of hours tracking down and cleaning up thousands of trees from the literature, then selecting 484 of them that were used to generate the draft tree of life," said Cody Hinchliff, a scientist from the University of Idaho, in the announcement.

Bitcoin Trader Agrees To Work For Police In Plea Agreement 111

An anonymous reader writes: Florida Bitcoin trader Pascal Reid, who was arrested in a February 2014 sting operation as part of his plea agreement, promised to carry out 20 sessions of law enforcement training in Bitcoin as well as serve as a consultant in criminal cases involving Bitcoin. This is in addition to 90 days in jail with credit for time served and a $500 reimbursement to the State of Florida for the expense of prosecuting him. Qntra has a write up on the case and the full text of the draft plea agreement.

Blue Origin To Launch Big Rockets From Canaveral's Rechristened Complex 36 71

As reported by The Verge, Jeff Bezos's space venture Blue Origin today unveiled its new facility at Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 36. Complex 36 was once the launching point for NASA and USAF Atlas rockets, as well as for NASA's Mariner missions. "Now," says the article, "after a decade of inactivity, the complex will be revamped and renamed Exploration Park. ... Bezos said the company hopes to launch people from Exploration Park later this decade. He also announced plans to build a new orbital rocket at the facility, which he noted will use the company's upcoming BE-4 engine." (More coverage of the Blue Origin opening at the L.A. Times and Wired.)

Miami Installs Free Public Sunscreen Dispensers In Fight Against Cancer 210 writes: If you walk along South Beach in Miami right now, you will notice something strange, even by Florida standards: Dotting the sandscapes are sky-blue boxes that supply free sunscreen. In a novel experiment this year, the City of Miami Beach has put 50 free sunscreen dispensers in public spaces, and those dispensers are full of radiation-mitigating goo, free to any and all passersby. BBC reports that one in five people living in Florida will eventually suffer from skin cancer but the new campaign hopes that increasing people's awareness will lead to a change in behavior. "[The sunscreen dispensers'] visibility — even without additional messaging — could be a good cue to action," says Dr Richard De Visser, a psychologist who has researched health campaigns.

The sunscreen is the type that is effective at preventing cancer and premature skin aging: Broad-spectrum, water resistant, and SPF 30. You can buy a product that is labeled as higher than SPF 30, but it's almost always a waste, and potentially harmful. Above SPF 30, the difference is essentially meaningless. SPF 15 filters out about 93 percent of UV-B rays, SPF 30 filters out 97 percent, SPF 50 filters out 98 percent, and SPF 100 might get you to 99. The problem, though, is the psychology of the larger number. "We put on the "more powerful" sunscreens and then suddenly think we're Batman or some other superhero who can stay out in the sun indefinitely." says James Hamblin. "But no sunscreen is meant to facilitate prolonged exposure of bare skin to direct sunlight." Dr. Jose Lutzky, head of the melanoma program out Mount Sinai, says Florida is second behind California in incidence of melanoma but the trend is going in the wrong direction. "Unfortunately, our numbers are growing. That is really something we do not want to be first in."

ThinkGeek Opens First Physical Store In Orlando 63

New submitter Enderxeno writes with news that on September 25th, geek merchandise retailer ThinkGeek will open its first brick-and-mortar store in Orlando, Florida. The store will open in a mall, and the company will be running it with the help of GameStop, who bought ThinkGeek back in June. The new store will have a 3,000 square foot space that used to be occupied by Radio Shack, and it will focus "entirely on collectibles." (Disclosure: Slashdot and ThinkGeek used to share a corporate overlord. We don't talk anymore, but we still like them. Even though they finally took away our employee discounts.)

Where the Tech Industry's Political Donations Are Going 130

An anonymous reader writes: Early estimates suggest the 2016 U.S. presidential election will result in $5-10 billion in spending by candidates and organizations — much more than ever before. To support this, they need lots of contributions, and the tech industry is becoming a significant player. (Not as much as the financial industry, of course, but tech's influence is growing.) Re/Code breaks down which candidates are getting the most money from the tech sector so far. Right now, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has gotten the most tech money by far — more than the rest of the field combined, thanks in large part to Larry Ellison. Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, is a distant second, followed closely by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). New Jersey governor Chris Christie and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) are the only other candidates with significant tech contributions so far. Carly Fiorina, a tech industry veteran, has only managed about $13,000 in donations.

The Fastest-Growing Tech State Is... Minnesota 155

Nerval's Lobster writes: What's the fastest-growing state for technology jobs? You might be tempted to say California or New York, or even North Carolina. But according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it's actually Minnesota, which saw the size of its tech workforce jump 8.36 percent over the past six months, to 37,600 workers. Utah and Nebraska came in second and third on the list of fastest-growing states, with six-month tech-employment gains of 5.75 percent and 5.22 percent, respectively. Michigan and Florida came in fourth and fifth. States with smallish tech-worker populations can enjoy heady growth rates by adding relatively few workers. But not all states saw their tech workforce grow in the first half of 2015. Four states—Pennsylvania, Washington, North Carolina, and Alabama—actually saw their workforce decline by 0.61 percent, 0.63 percent, 2.36 percent, and 3.52 percent, respectively, during the period in question. The declines in Washington and North Carolina may come as a surprise to anyone following those states' tech industries, which are quite robust. In Washington's case, layoffs at Microsoft and other firms over the past few months may have contributed to the slight decline.

Challenger, Columbia Wreckage On Public Display For First Time 42

An anonymous reader writes: A new exhibit at Kennedy Space Center is letting the public see wreckage from the Challenger and Columbia shuttles after keeping it from view for decades. Two pieces of debris from each lost shuttle and personal reminders of the astronauts killed in the flights will be on display. The AP reports: " NASA's intent is to show how the astronauts lived, rather than how they died. As such, there are no pictures in the 'Forever Remembered' exhibit of Challenger breaking apart in the Florida sky nearly 30 years ago or Columbia debris raining down on Texas 12 years ago. Since the tragic re-entry, Columbia's scorched remains have been stashed in off-limits offices at the space center. But NASA had to pry open the underground tomb housing Challenger's pieces — a pair of abandoned missile silos at neighboring Cape Canaveral Air Force Station — to retrieve the section of fuselage now on display."

San Francisco's Public Works Agency Tests Paint That Repels Urine 210

monkeyzoo writes: San Francisco is testing an ultra-water-repellant paint on wallls in areas fraught with public urination problems. The paint is designed to repel the urine and soil the offender's pants. "It's supposed to, when people urinate, bounce back and hit them on the pants and get them wet. Hopefully that will discourage them. We will put a sign to give them a heads up," said Mohammad Nuru, director of the San Francisco public works. A Florida company named Ultra-Tech produces the super-hydrophobic oleophobic nano-coating that was also recently used with success on walls in Hamburg, Germany [video] to discourage public urination. Signs posted there warn, "Do not pee here! We pee back!"

Study: Push Notifications As Distracting As Taking a Call 60

itwbennett writes: Researchers at Florida State University have found that simply being aware of a missed call or text can have the same damaging effect on task performance as actually using a mobile phone. 'Although these notifications are short in duration, they can prompt task-irrelevant thoughts, or mind-wandering,' the researchers wrote in their paper. In further bad news for chronic multitaskers, a new study by researchers at the University of Connecticut finds that 'students who multitasked while doing homework had to study longer, and those who frequently multitasked in class had lower grades on average than their peers who multitasked less often.'

Grooveshark Co-founder Josh Greenberg Dead At 28 173

alphadogg writes: The tech startup world has been shaken today by news that 28-year-old Josh Greenberg, co-founder of recently defunct music sharing service Grooveshark, was found dead on Sunday in the Florida apartment he shared with his girlfriend. No foul play is suspected, but the local medical examiner is conducting an autopsy, according to the Gainesville Sun. Grooveshark was shut down in April after the company was threatened with legal action and possibly hundreds of millions in damages by several big music labels.

Comcast Launches Streaming Service and Unveils Pricing For 2G Fiber 107

An anonymous reader writes: Comcast has announced the release of its Gigabit Pro service which offers speeds up to 2 gigabits per second. The service is $300 a month (agree to a two year contract and get the early promotional price of $159 per month) with a $500 installation and activation fee. The new service is only available in the Jacksonville, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Florida area. This announcement comes on the heels of the $15-per-month "Comcast Stream" launch. The live TV and streaming video service does not require a cable TV subscription, but live TV channels can only be watched on customer's home internet connections.