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Biotech

Prehistoric Gene Reawakened To Battle HIV 360

Posted by kdawson
from the learning-from-our-distant-cousins dept.
Linuss points out research published in PLoS Biology that demonstrates the reawakening of latent human cells' ability to manufacture an HIV defense. A group of scientists led by Nitya Venkataraman began with the knowledge that Old World monkeys have a built-in immunity to HIV: a protein that can prevent HIV from entering cell walls and starting an infection. They examined the human genome for any evidence of a latent gene that could manufacture such a protein, and found the capability in a stretch of what has been dismissively termed "junk DNA." "In this work, we reveal that, upon correction of the premature termination codon in theta-defensin pseudogenes, human myeloid cells produce cyclic, antiviral peptides (which we have termed 'retrocyclins'), indicating that the cells retain the intact machinery to make cyclic peptides. Furthermore, we exploited the ability of aminoglycoside antibiotics to read-through the premature termination codon within retrocyclin transcripts to produce functional peptides that are active against HIV-1. Given that the endogenous production of retrocyclins could also be restored in human cervicovaginal tissues, we propose that aminoglycoside-based topical microbicides might be useful in preventing sexual transmission of HIV-1."
Biotech

Natural Selection Can Act on Human Culture 239

Posted by Zonk
from the people-are-people-so-why-should-it-be dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Scientists at Stanford University have shown for the first time that the process of natural selection can act on human cultures as well as on genes. The team studied reports of canoe designs from 11 Oceanic island cultures, evaluating 96 functional features that could contribute to the seaworthiness of the vessels. Statistical test results showed clearly that the functional canoe design elements changed more slowly over time, indicating that natural selection could be weeding out inferior new designs. Authors of the study said their results speak directly to urgent social and environmental problems. 'People have learned how to avoid natural selection in the short term through unsustainable approaches such as inequity and excess consumption. But this is not going to work in the long term,' said Deborah S. Rogers, a research fellow at Stanford."
Privacy

+ - The iPhone Meets the Fourth Amendment-> 3

Submitted by background image
background image (1001510) writes "According to Alan M Gershowitz, the doctrine of "search incident to arrest" may allow devices such as mobile phones, pdas and laptops to be thoroughly searched without either probable cause or warrants, and incriminating evidence found in such searches may be used against you whether or not it is germane to the reason for the original arrest.

Imagine that police arrest an individual for a simple traffic infraction, such as running a stop sign. Under the search incident to arrest doctrine, officers are entitled to search the body of the person they are arresting to ensure that he does not have any weapons or will not destroy any evidence. The search incident to an arrest is automatic and allows officers to open containers on the person, even if there is no probable cause to believe there is anything illegal inside of those containers. What happens, however, when the arrestee is carrying an iPhone in his pocket? May the police search the iPhone's call history, cell phone contacts, emails, pictures, movies, calendar entries and, perhaps most significantly, the browsing history from recent internet use? Under longstanding Supreme Court precedent decided well before handheld technology was even contemplated, the answer appears to be yes.
"

Link to Original Source
PC Games (Games)

+ - Why do games still have levels?-> 1

Submitted by
a.d.venturer
a.d.venturer writes "Elite, the Metroid series, Dungeon Siege, God of War I and II, Half-Life (but not Half-Life 2), Shadow of the Colossus, the Grand Theft Auto series; some of the best games ever (and Dungeon Siege) have done away with the level mechanic and created uninterrupted game spaces devoid of loading screens and artificial breaks between periods of play. Much like cut scenes, level loads are anathema to enjoyment of game play, and a throwback to the era of the Vic-20 and Commodore 64 when games were stored on cassette tapes, and memory was measured in kilobytes. So in this era of multi-megabyte and gigabyte memory and fast access storage devices why do we continue to have games that are dominated by the level structure, be they commercial (Portal, Team Fortress 2), independent (Darwinia) and amateur (Nethack, Angband)? Why do games still have levels?"
Link to Original Source
Operating Systems

+ - Rev. Al Sharpton to Campaign for Linux->

Submitted by
Snarky Comment Withheld
Snarky Comment Withheld writes "Rev. Al Sharpton has said that he will now campaign in favor of Linux, because he views it as a way to help end the "digital divide." In his own words, "Corporate America has to learn that it needs to support everyone in America, and not just those who can afford to spend $400 on Microsoft Office. By supporting free software, we can keep hope alive in America.""
Link to Original Source
Announcements

+ - Text Compressor 1% Away From AI Threshold->

Submitted by
Baldrson
Baldrson writes "Alexander Ratushnyak compressed the first 100,000,000 bytes of Wikipedia to a record-small 16,481,655 bytes (including decompression program) thereby, not only winning the second payout of The Hutter Prize for Compression of Human Knowledge but, bringing text compression within 1% of the threshold for artificial intelligence. Achieving 1.319 bits per character, this makes the next winner of the Hutter Prize likely to reach the threshold of human performance (between 0.6 and 1.3 bits per character) estimated by the founder of information theory, Claude Shannon and confirmed by Cover and King in 1978 using text prediction gambling. When the Hutter Prize started, less than a year ago, the best performance was 1.466 bits per character. Alexander Ratushnyak's open-sourced GPL program is called paq8hp12."
Link to Original Source
Biotech

+ - Nicotine is the new wonder drug.->

Submitted by Fantastic Lad
Fantastic Lad (198284) writes "Smoking may be bad for you, but Researchers and biotech companies are quietly developing pharmaceuticals that are decidedly good for brains, bowels, blood vessels and even immune systems — and they're inspired by tobacco's active ingredient: nicotine. Nicotine acts on the acetylcholine receptors in the brain, stimulating and regulating the release of a slew of brain chemicals, including seratonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Now drugs derived from nicotine and the research on nicotine receptors are in clinical trials for everything from helping to heal wounds, to depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, anger management and anxiety. Smoking will kill you, but also keep you in good health? Another story about nicotine warding off Parkison's disease here seems to agree. -Who knew?"
Link to Original Source
Announcements

+ - Warcraft designs quest for 10-year-old with cancer

Submitted by
destinyland
destinyland writes "Blizzard Entertainment is creating a new quest in World of Warcraft for a 10-year-old boy who's fighting brain cancer. The boy's father said the 7-hour visit was the first time he'd seen "contentment and peace" on his son's face — and the second time was when he read warm emails he'd received from Warcraft players online. The Make-a-Wish Foundation arranged the 7-hour meeting with the game's lead designer, who will implement the boy's quest in four weeks. (Players search for a dog modelled after the boy's own pet.) And an online fund was just established if you also want to make a contribution to the boy's medical quest."
Security

+ - The difference between script kiddies and hackers?

Submitted by
Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward writes "I know Wikipedia has definitions for both terms, but I want the Slashdot community's opinion: What is the difference between a so-called "script kiddie" and a bona fide "hacker?" It seems that if you crack wifi using readily available tools, you're a script kiddie. If you use the Metasploit framework, you're a script kiddie. At what skill level or accomplishment can one truly be called a hacker?"
It's funny.  Laugh.

+ - Jack-in-the-Box Sued Over An(g)us Beef Ads

Submitted by
theodp
theodp writes "CKE Restaurants has filed a lawsuit to stop Jack-in-the-Box from running TV ads that suggest Carl's Jr. and Hardee's use cow anus to make Angus beef hamburgers. In one ad, executives laugh hysterically at the word Angus. In another, the Jack-in-the-Box mascot is asked to point to a diagram of a cow and show where Angus meat comes from. 'We talked about but stopped short of doing a spot on [McDonald's] Angus Pounder,' said the ads' director."
Microsoft

+ - Ballmer: Google and Yahoo aren't Netscape

Submitted by thefickler
thefickler (1030556) writes "During a recent whirlwind visit to Australia, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer defended Microsoft's online strategy, saying that while there is some possibility that the Internet market could overheat, the current situation is very different to the dot.com bubble of the 1990s.

"I say that for a lot of reasons this is different to competing against Netscape ... the simplest one is that Google and Yahoo have real revenues. Netscape never did," he said.

With insight like that no wonder Ballmer's in the top job!"
Microsoft

+ - Microsoft's ODF Add-in Found Lacking

Submitted by
Send Bug Reports Here
Send Bug Reports Here writes "In all the fuss over open standards, with Microsoft touting its OOXML in favor of the ISO standard ODF, Microsoft eventually changed its tune to say that there's room in the market for both formats and created an add-in to import ODF files into Word. But just how "committed to interoperability" were they? Of the 12 major features that comprise what most people think of as standard Windows and Office integration, Microsoft's extension supports zero of them. You can't double click ODFs to open them, you can't select ODF via the "save as" dialog, and you have to save new documents as something else before you can convert them to an ODF. In fact, when you open an ODF, it automatically converts it to an OOXML DOCX file, and you have to use the ODF menu (not any of the save menus) to convert it back when you're done. Apparently, some see compatibility as a one-way street."

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