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Earth

+ - 208 Where has all the Xenon gone?->

Submitted by
LucidBeast
LucidBeast writes "Xenon the second heaviest of the noble gasses is only found in trace amounts in the atmosphere. Atmosphere contains less Xenon than other lighter noble gasses. Missing Xenon has perplexed scientists and it has been speculated that it is hiding in the earths mantle. Now a group at the University of Bayreuth in Germany think that they might found the answer. I turns out that Xenon does not dissolve easily into Magnesium silicate perovskite, thus it cannot hide there. And because it had no place to hide it is now gone forever."
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Science

+ - 230 Stem Cells Safe for Rare Brain Disorder->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Four young boys with a rare, fatal brain condition have made it through a dangerous ordeal. Scientists have safely transplanted human neural stem cells into their brains. Twelve months after the surgeries, the boys have more myelin—a fatty insulating protein that coats nerve fibers and speeds up electric signals between neurons—and show improved brain function, a new study in Science Translational Medicine reports. The preliminary trial paves the way for future research into potential stem cell treatments for the disorder, which overlaps with more common diseases such as Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis."
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Science

+ - 182 Turtle Urinates from Its Mouth->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Talk about having a potty mouth. When Chinese soft-shelled turtles to relieve themselves, they just open wide, according to a new study. Researchers thought it was a little odd that, when the turtles were on dry land, they would stick their heads in puddles and swish water around in their mouths. The scientists thought maybe something else was going on besides respiration, so they bought Chinese soft-shelled turtles at a market in Singapore and found ways to collect their urine, like attaching a flexible latex tube to each one's underside. They found that the animals were getting rid of the vast majority of their urea, a major component of urine, through their mouths instead of their hind ends. The team speculates that this might be because animals have to drink a lot of water to make urine, which can be unhealthy in the saltier waters where these turtles spend some of their time. If they're just rinsing the water around in their mouths, they avoid having to get rid of all that salt."
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Math

+ - 182 Mathematicians Extend Einstein's Special Relativity Beyond Speed of Light 1

Submitted by
Hugh Pickens writes
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The Christian Science Monitor reports that despite an apparent prohibition on faster-than-light travel by Einstein’s theory of special relativity, applied mathematician James Hill and his colleague Barry Cox say the theory actually lends itself easily to a description of velocities that exceed the speed of light. "The actual business of going through the speed of light is not defined," says Hill whose research has been published in the prestigious Proceedings of the Royal Society A. "The theory we've come up with is simply for velocities greater than the speed of light." In effect, the singularity at the speed of light divides the universe into two: a world where everything moves slower than the speed of light, and a world where everything moves faster. The laws of physics in these two realms could turn out to be quite different. In some ways, the hidden world beyond the speed of light looks to be a strange one. Hill and Cox's equations suggest, for example, that as a spaceship traveling at super-light speeds accelerated faster and faster, it would lose more and more mass, until at infinite velocity, its mass became zero. "We are mathematicians, not physicists, so we've approached this problem from a theoretical mathematical perspective," says Dr Cox. "Should it, however, be proven that motion faster than light is possible, then that would be game changing. Our paper doesn't try and explain how this could be achieved, just how equations of motion might operate in such regimes.""
Chrome

+ - 146 In Under 10 Hours, Google Patches Chrome To Plug Hole Found At Its Pwnium Event

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Last night, Google held its Pwnium 2 competition at Hack in the Box 2012, offering up a total of $2 million for security holes found in Chrome. Only one was discovered; a young hacker who goes by the alias “Pinkie Pie” netted the highest reward level: a $60,000 cash prize and a free Chromebook (second time he pulled it off). Google today patched the flaw and announced a new version of Chrome for Windows, Mac, and Linux."
Science

+ - 162 American Scientists Win Nobel Prize in Chemistry ->

Submitted by
SchrodingerZ
SchrodingerZ writes "Two Americans have won the 2012 Nobel prize in Chemistry for their work in cell research. Their work involves the discovery and manipulation of the G-protein-coupled receptors, which detect signals outside the of cells they inhabit. 'The human body has about 1,000 kinds of such receptors, which enable it to respond to a wide variety of chemical signals, like adrenaline. Some receptors are in the nose, tongue and eyes, and let us sense smells, tastes and vision.' The winners are Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka . Lefkowitz, works at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and is a professor at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. Kobilka, is a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine in California. Their research has helped create newer and more effective drugs with fewer side effects. More on G Protein-coupled Receptor research can be found here."
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+ - 145 Harvard's Robobee learning to fly->

Submitted by DeTech
DeTech (2589785) writes "Harvard researchers are getting closer to their goal of developing a controllable micro air vehicle called the Robobee. The tiny robot was already capable of taking off under its own power, but until now it was completely out of control. By adding two control actuators beneath its wings, the robot can be programmed to pitch and roll."
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Science

+ - 167 520 Million Year Old Bug-Like Creature May Have Had the First Modern Brain->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Scientists say that the recently discovered 520 million year old insect brain, the oldest brain ever discovered in an arthropod, is surprisingly complex for its age, and may be the earliest example on record of a modern brain structure.

Hailed as a “transformative discovery,” researchers said that the 3-inch-long fossilized extinct arthropod found in Yunnan Province, China, shows that insects evolved to have complex brains significantly earlier than previously thought.

Researchers said that the fossilized brain, which looks very similar to brains of modern insects, may provide a missing link that offers new insight on the evolutionary history of arthropods, a group of invertebrates that includes insects, spiders and crustaceans."

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Ubuntu

+ - 147 Ubuntu: Pay what you think->

Submitted by major_lima
major_lima (2485024) writes "When a typical user downloads Ubuntu for free and installs it on a computer with a Windows license that the user did pay for, Canonical gets nothing in the form of payment. There's nothing wrong with that—this is the open source world, after all, and many people contribute to Ubuntu with code rather than money. But starting this week, Canonical is presenting desktop OS downloaders with an optional donation form... Once you donate, the Ubuntu desktop starts downloading. Or, you can just skip the donation and download the OS for free, just as you always could. For some reason, the donation page is not presented to Ubuntu Server users."
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Government

+ - 183 US Supreme Court Says Wiretapping Immunity Will Stand->

Submitted by wiredmikey
wiredmikey (1824622) writes "The US Supreme Court said this week that it will let stand an immunity law on wiretapping viewed by government as a useful anti-terror tool but criticized by privacy advocates.

The top US court declined to review a December 2011 appeals court decision that rejected a lawsuit against AT&T for helping the NSA monitor its customers' phone calls and Internet traffic. Plaintiffs argue that the law allows the executive branch to conduct "warrantless and suspicionless domestic surveillance" without fear of review by the courts and at the sole discretion of the attorney general. The Obama administration has argued to keep the immunity law in place, saying it would imperil national security to end such cooperation between the intelligence agencies and telecom companies.

The Supreme Court is set to hear a separate case later this month in which civil liberties' group are suing NSA officials for authorizing unconstitutional wiretapping."

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Science

+ - 147 Elephant Hair Acts as Pin Fins for Cooling-> 1

Submitted by derekmead
derekmead (2466858) writes "A new paper from Conor Myhrvold, Howard Stone, and Elie Bou-Zeid of Princeton, published in PLoS One, shows that elephants’ sparse hair actually acts as pin-shaped cooling fins, which helps the giant animals dissipate heat more effectively. The hair works by creating more area for heat to be released, while also also pushing heat away from the animal’s body where wind flow is less impeded.

The team calculated the heat transfer coefficients for measured values of elephants’ smooth skin (around ears, for example) and rough skin (on the legs), both with and without hair. They found that, at high wind speeds, the convection effect of the wind overpowered any surface differences. But at low wind speeds, when convection effects are lower and elephants have more trouble shedding heat, the team found that hair acted as pin-shaped cooling fins, which increased convection cooling efficiency by as much as 24 percent. For elephants dealing with huge thermal loads, that’s an important difference."

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Privacy

+ - 198 US and EU Clash Over Whois Data->

Submitted by
itwbennett
itwbennett writes "ICANN wants to store more data (including credit card information) about domain name registrations in its Whois database, wants to hold on to that data for two years after registration ends, and wants to force registrant contact information to be re-verified annually — moves that are applauded by David Vladeck, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. The E.U.'s Article 29 Working Group is markedly less enthusiastic, saying ICANN's plans trample on citizens' right to privacy."
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Government

+ - 143 What are grand technology and scientific challenges for the 21st century?-> 1

Submitted by
coondoggie
coondoggie writes "What are the next Big Things in science and technology? Teleportation? Unlimited clean Energy? The scientists and researchers at DARPA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy put out a public call this week for ideas that could form what they call the Grand Challenges — ambitious yet achievable goals that that would herald serious breakthroughs in science and technology."
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Mars

+ - 182 Stress-Testing Software for Deep Space->

Submitted by
kenekaplan
kenekaplan writes "NASA has used VxWorks for several deep space missions, including Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. When the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) needs to run stress tests or simulations for upgrades and fixes to the OS, Wind River’s Mike Deliman gets the call. In a recent interview, Deliman, a senior member of the technical staff at Wind River, which is owned by Intel, gave a peek at the legacy technology under Curiosity’s hood and recalled the emergency call he got when an earlier Mars mission hit a software snag after liftoff."
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Space

+ - 173 Dying star weaves a trillion-mile-wide spiral in the sky

Submitted by
The Bad Astronomer
The Bad Astronomer writes "Using the newly-commissioned ALMA radio observatory, astronomers have taken detailed images of one of the most amazing objects in the sky: the red giant R Sculptoris. As the star dies, it undergoes gigantic seizures beneath its surface that blast out waves of gas and dust from the surface. These normally expand into a spherical shell, but the presence of a nearby companion star changes things. The combined orbits of the two stars fling out the material like a garden sprinkler, forming enormous and incredibly beautiful spiral arms. Measuring the size and shape of the spiral shows the last eruption was 1800 years ago, lasted for nearly two centuries, and expelled enough material to make a thousand earths."

+ - 181 Oops! Sorry, we got it all wrong, IMF says-> 1

Submitted by daem0n1x
daem0n1x (748565) writes "Ireland, Greece and Portugal have been under draconian austerity measures after they have been forced to ask financial rescue from the IMF, in the aftermath of the 2008 bank crash. The results of these austerity measures are well known: Recession, unemployment and general social and economic meltdown.
After all this pain and suffering, the IMF suddenly finds a gigantic flaw in the formulas used to calculate the economic effects of austerity.
Well, at least they stepped forward to recognise they screwed up. But is it in still time for European and global economies to recover?
How is it possible that worldwide economic policies be conducted by such flawed systems? Numerous economists have been warning about this for years, but they faced deaf ears. Sounds familiar? Yes, just like before the subprime bubble bust."

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Biotech

+ - 201 The half-life of DNA - seems that Jurassic Park was impossible->

Submitted by another random user
another random user (2645241) writes "Few researchers have given credence to claims that samples of dinosaur DNA have survived to the present day, but no one knew just how long it would take for genetic material to fall apart. Now, a study of fossils found in New Zealand is laying the matter to rest — and putting paid to hopes of cloning a Tyrannosaurus rex.

After cell death, enzymes start to break down the bonds between the nucleotides that form the backbone of DNA, and micro-organisms speed the decay. In the long run, however, reactions with water are thought to be responsible for most bond degradation. Groundwater is almost ubiquitous, so DNA in buried bone samples should, in theory, degrade at a set rate.

Determining that rate has been difficult because it is rare to find large sets of DNA-containing fossils with which to make meaningful comparisons. To make matters worse, variable environmental conditions such as temperature, degree of microbial attack and oxygenation alter the speed of the decay process.

By comparing the specimens' ages and degrees of DNA degradation, the researchers calculated that DNA has a half-life of 521 years. That means that after 521 years, half of the bonds between nucleotides in the backbone of a sample would have broken; after another 521 years half of the remaining bonds would have gone; and so on."

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China

+ - 154 Apple Maps Accidentally Reveals Secret Military Base In Taiwan->

Submitted by
redletterdave
redletterdave writes "After one Taiwanese newspaper snapped and printed a satellite photo of a top-secret military base from the new Maps application running on an iPhone 5, the defense ministry of Taiwan on Tuesday publicly requested Apple blur the sensitive images of the country’s classified military installations. The top-secret radar base, located in the northern county of Hsinchu, contains a highly-advanced ultra-high-frequency long-range radar that military officials say can detect missiles launched as far away as the city of Xinjiang, which is located in northwest China. The radar system was obtained via US-based defense group Raytheon in 2003, and is still being constructed with hopes to be completed by the end of this year. “Regarding images taken by commercial satellites, legally we can do nothing about it,” said David Lo, the spokesman of Taiwan's defense ministry, in a statement to reporters. “But we’ll ask Apple to lower the resolution of satellite images of some confidential military establishments the way we’ve asked Google in the past.”"
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China

+ - 151 Counterfeit Air Bag Racket Blows Up 1

Submitted by
Hugh Pickens writes
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Joan Lowry reports that that National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has alerted the auto repair industry that tens of thousands of car owners may be driving vehicles with counterfeit air bags that fail to inflate properly or don't inflate at all and although no deaths or injuries have been tied to the counterfeit bags, but it's unclear whether police accident investigators would be able to identify a counterfeit bag from a genuine one. The counterfeit bags typically have been made to look like air bags made by automakers and usually include a manufacturer's logo but government investigators believe many of the bags come from China. Auto dealerships that operate their own body shops are usually required by their franchise agreements to buy their parts, including air bags, directly from automakers and therefore are unlikely to have installed counterfeit bags but only 37 percent of auto dealers have their own body shops so many consumers whose vehicles have been damaged are referred by their insurance companies to auto body shops that aren't affiliated with an automaker. Safety officials will warn millions of Americans that the air bags in over 100 vehicle models could be dangerous counterfeits, telling them to have their cars and trucks inspected as soon as possible. Dai Zhensong, a Chinese citizen, had the counterfeit air bags manufactured by purchasing genuine auto air bags that were torn down and used to produce molds to manufacture the counterfeit bags. Trademark emblems were purchased through dealerships located in China and affixed to the counterfeit air bags which were then advertised on the Guangzhou Auto Parts website and sold for approximately $50 to $70 each, far below the value of an authentic air bag. The NHTSA has made a list of automobiles available that may be at risk for having counterfeit air bags."
Space

+ - 190 Investigation into solar storm sat-nav disruption->

Submitted by another random user
another random user (2645241) writes "Scientists in the Arctic have launched an urgent investigation into how solar storms can disrupt sat-nav.

Studies have revealed how space weather can cut the accuracy of GPS by tens of metres. Flares from the Sun interact with the upper atmosphere and can distort the signals from global positioning satellites.

The project is under way at a remote observatory on a windswept mountainside in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard in the High Arctic. The site was chosen for its isolation from electronic pollution and for its position in relation to the Earth's magnetic field which flows from space down towards the far North."

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Android

+ - 156 Smartphone companies are now entering a phase of Mutually Assured Destruction->

Submitted by Tryfen
Tryfen (216209) writes "As patent trials rage across the globe, it has become clear that smartphone companies are engaged in Mutually Assured Destruction. What's the endgame here? Do they all capitulate and cross-licence their patents? Are they forced to buy patents and pass the costs onto customers? Will companies withdraw — voluntarily or otherwise — from the smartphone space?"
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Android

+ - 173 An iPhone user shows how to switch to Android->

Submitted by
GMGruman
GMGruman writes "In the last year, Android smartphones have significantly improved, while the iPhone's improvements have gotten incremental. So iPhone users may now seriously consider getting an Android device. This how-to shows how someone in the Apple ecosystem — Macs, iPads, Apple TV, etc. — can bring an Android smartphone into the mix. Surprisingly, it turns out that Android can work with much of the Apple ecosystem, such as iCloud, with a few apps and a little savvy."
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+ - 191 Intelligence agencies turn to crowdsourcing->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "IARPA — the sister agency to DARPA — is sponsoring researchers to examine crowdsourcing as a method to derive better intelligence predictions. The article says that this research will eventually be transitioned to the intelligence community to improve national intelligence estimates. Anyone can participate — even the general public. www.globalcrowd.com"
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Government

+ - 280 Confirmed: Germany Monitors Skype, Google Mail, Yahoo Mail and Facebook chat->

Submitted by hypnosec
hypnosec (2231454) writes "German Government has went a bit too far trying to be transparent and has inadvertently revealed that German police monitors Skype, Google Mail, MSN Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and Facebook chat as and when necessary. The revelations come as the German Government let out figures of expenses incurred by the Federal Ministry of the Interior following a parliamentary inquiry, which were spotted by the annalist blog. The pages contain a whole lot of tables and as many would find those boring, some pages reveal something very startling. On page 34 and page 37 of the report line item 486 and 265 respectively, represent decoding software for Google Mail, MSN Hotmail, Yahoo Mail for prevention and investigation."
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Privacy

+ - 196 Government Censors Draft Snooping Laws->

Submitted by coolstoryhansel
coolstoryhansel (1827480) writes "Stating that release of the draft legislation is not in the public interest [PDF] because it would prejudice decision making processes already in train, the Attorney General's Department has denied the release of the draft laws that would see wide-scale dragnet surveillance implemented along with an expansion of law enforcement powers for the purposes of 'national security'.

Serkowski, speaking for the Pirate Party who lodged the FOI request labelled the Department response as "disgraceful and troubling" saying the decision is "completely trashing any semblance or notion of transparency or participative democratic process of policy development.""

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Science

+ - 152 Geneticists to economists: You're racist!->

Submitted by scibri
scibri (2544842) writes "One side is accused of supporting ethnic cleansing; the other of being intellectually naive. Geneticists and economists are struggling to collaborate on research that explores how our genes influence and interact with economic behaviour.

Top economists are publishing a paper that claims a country’s genetic diversity can predict the success of its economy. To critics, the economists’ paper seems to suggest that a country’s poverty could be the result of its citizens’ genetic make-up, and the paper is attracting charges of genetic determinism, and even racism. But the economists say that they have been misunderstood, and are merely using genetics as a proxy for other factors that can drive an economy, such as history and culture."

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ISS

+ - 140 Dragon captured: SpaceX's first ISS supply mission is a success->

Submitted by puddingebola
puddingebola (2036796) writes "From the aricle, "The SpaceX Dragon capsule has been successfully grabbed by the International Space Station, marking the first time a private American space flight has run a supply mission to the orbiting platform. The crew of the ISS snatched Dragon out of orbit ahead of schedule, using the space station’s robotic arm to guide the capsule in after its careful approach."

NASA has also posted video of the docking."

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Science

+ - 165 The LED is 50 years old->

Submitted by
BoxRec
BoxRec writes "The light-emitting diode has brightened our lives for half a century — from lighting up the city streets at night, to decorating Christmas trees each December.
The LED started life in October 1962, as a single red illumination in a General Electric research lab in New York state.
Prof Nick Holonyak Jr from the University of Illinois, takes a look back at how it all began with his invention of the first practical visible-spectrum light-emitting diode."

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ISS

+ - 141 Dragon ready to dock with space station->

Submitted by
SternisheFan
SternisheFan writes "(CNN) -SpaceX's Dragon capsule is just hours away from an on-schedule meeting with the International Space Station. The crew of the space station will use a robotic arm to "grapple" the spacecraft, which is filled with 1,000 pounds of supplies for the astronauts, at 7:17 a.m. ET Wednesday, a written statement from SpaceX said. The time could change, the company said, and the capsule will pause three times for go/no-go checks using information from its close-range guidance systems before berthing. About two hours after it is captured, the unmanned capsule will be bolted into place for its two-and-a-half-week stay. After the resupplies are pulled off, astronauts will reload the craft with scientific experiments and failed equipment that can be repaired and sent back.
    SpaceX launched the first commercial space cargo mission on Sunday night. But a minute and 19 seconds after the Falcon 9 booster lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, one of the nine Merlin engines that power the rocket "lost pressure suddenly," the company disclosed Monday. The rocket "did exactly what it was designed to do," as its flight computer made adjustments to keep the Dragon headed into the proper orbit. California-based SpaceX said earlier that controllers are reviewing flight data in an effort to figure out what happened to the booster rocket, but initial readings indicate the No. 1 engine fairing broke apart under stress. Sunday's launch was the fiirst of a dozen freight runs SpaceX, founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, is slated to make to the station under a contract with NASA, which plans to turn much of its focus toward exploring deep into the solar system. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden called it "a critical event in space flight."
    SpaceX, meanwhile, is looking beyond just cargo flights to developing a human-rated version of the Dragon that would carry astronauts to the ISS. It's one of three companies, along with Sierra Nevada and aerospace giant Boeing, that NASA has chosen to work on the project."

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Education

+ - 232 Pressure Rises on German Science Minister in Plagiarism Scandal->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Germany's minister for science and education, who is currently under investigation by her alma mater for plagiarising parts of her PhD thesis, is facing new accusations: a total of 92 alleged incidents of plagiarism (German) have been documented by a blogger, who calls "this number of violations inexcusable"."
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