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"Farming" Amoebas Discovered 49

Researchers from Rice University have found a type of amoeba that practices a sort of "primitive farming behavior." When their bacteria food become scarce, the Dictyostelium discoideum will group together and form a "fruiting body" that will disperse bacteria spores to a new area. From the article: "The behavior falls short of the kind of 'farming' that more advanced animals do; ants, for example, nurture a single fungus species that no longer exists in the wild. But the idea that an amoeba that spends much of its life as a single-celled organism could hold short of consuming a food supply before decamping is an astonishing one. More than just a snack for the journey of dispersal, the idea is that the bacteria that travel with the spores can 'seed' a new bacterial colony, and thus a food source in case the new locale should be lacking in bacteria." It's good to know that even a single celled creature is not immune to the pull of Farmville.

Universities Collaborate On Air-Purifying Dress 58

ecouterran writes "From the ecouterre article: 'We have dresses to impress, for success, even to kill, but "Herself" must be the first drapery number to clear the air. A collaboration between the University of Sheffield, London College of Fashion, and the University of Ulster, the sweeping gown is part of a larger project to engage the public in the science of environmental pollution. "Catalytic Clothing" explores how textiles can improve ambient quality, and the self-described textile sculpture, is the first prototype to emerge. Highly experimental, according to the designers, "Herself" is designed to illustrate how fabrics can eliminate pollutants so we can "breathe more beautifully."'"

Thousands of Blackbirds Fall From Sky Dead 577

Dan East writes "In a fashion worthy of a King or Hitchcock novel, blackbirds began to fall from the sky dead in Arkansas yesterday. Somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 birds rained down on the small town of Beeb, Arkansas, with no visible trauma. Officials are making wild guesses as to what happened — lightning strike, high-altitude hail, or perhaps trauma from the sound of New Year's fireworks killed them."
The Military

US Army Develops Tooth Cleaning Gum 160

pryoplasm writes "To help deal with some of the hygiene issues on the battlefield, the US Army worked on a gum to take the place of brushing your teeth. This might be eventually released and marketed to the public. While there are many gums out there that aren't so detrimental to your teeth, this one promises actually to help them out."

Americans Less Healthy, But Outlive Brits 521

An anonymous reader writes with this intriguing snippet: "Older Americans are less healthy than their English counterparts, but they live as long or even longer than their English peers, according to a new study by researchers from the RAND Corporation and the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London. Researchers found that while Americans aged 55 to 64 have higher rates of chronic diseases than their peers in England, they died at about the same rate. And Americans age 65 and older — while still sicker than their English peers — had a lower death rate than similar people in England, according to findings published in the journal Demography."

World's Northernmost Town Gets Nightlights 144

Velcroman1 writes "On October 26, 2,000 Norwegians watched the sun set. The next time they'll see it rise? Sometime in February. Extended nighttime is an annual occurrence for the residents of Longyearbyen, Norway — Earth's northernmost town. Located at 78 degrees north latitude in the Arctic circle, Longyearbyen experiences a phenomenon called Polar Night, in which the town remains in perpetual darkness for four months each winter. To lighten up the seemingly endless night, Philips has started an experiment called 'Wake Up the Town.' And anyone who's complained about the brief daylight hours in winter will want to know how it works."

Submission + - Blu-ray reveals sordid past of Nostromo crew (

An anonymous reader writes: The Alien Anthology Blu-ray release contains the original prop-video footage used as a backdrop to Sigourney Weaver's guelling interrogation by Weyland-Yutani executives at the start of Aliens (1986). As well as revealing the first names of everyone in the ship (with the exception of the android Ash, played by Ian Holm), the footage — presumably written by James Cameron — provides elaborate back-story details, including the fact that Lambert (Veronica Cartwright) started life as a man, Kane (John Hurt) was a drug-addicted alcoholic and Brett (Harry Dean Stanton) joined Weyland-Yutani as a parolee from the US prison service.

Submission + - SETI astronomers expand extraterrestrial search (

coondoggie writes: Astronomers with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) project will this month will expand their coordinated outer space observations to include new five new stars in the hope of obtaining radio and laser signals from civilizations circling those targets.

Doctors Save Premature Baby Using Sandwich Bag 246

Born 14 weeks early, Lexi Lacey owes her life to some MacGyver inspired doctors and a sandwich bag. Lexi was so small at birth that even the tiniest insulating jacket was too big, but she fit into a plastic sandwich bag nicely. ''The doctors told us they had never known a baby born as prematurely as Lexi survive. She was so tiny the only thing they had to keep her body temperature warm was a sandwich bag from the hospital canteen — it's incredible to think that saved her life," says her mom.

Deodorant Sought to Save New Zealand's Native Birds 102

New Zealand researchers have received a NZ$600,000 grant to develop a deodorant for native birds whose strong odors make them easy targets for introduced predators. Since the birds evolved without any mammal predators they emit a very strong odor compared to birds in other parts of the world. Canterbury University researcher Jim Briskie says kiwis smell like mushrooms or ammonia, while kakapo parrots have a hint of "musty violin case."

Frustrated Reporter Quits After Slow News Day 178

Norwegian radio journalist Pia Beathe Pedersen quit on the air complaining that her bosses were making her read news on a day when "nothing important has happened." Pedersen claimed that broadcaster NRK put too much pressure on the staff and that she "wanted to be able to eat properly again and be able to breathe," during her nearly two-minute on-air resignation.
Hardware Hacking

Grad Student Invents Cheap Laser Cutter 137

An anonymous reader writes "Peter Jansen, a PhD student and member of the RepRap community, has constructed a working prototype of an inexpensive table-top laser cutter built out of old CD/DVD drives as an offshoot of his efforts to design an under $200 open-source Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printer. Where traditional laser cutters use powerful, fixed-focus beams, this new technique dynamically adjusts the focal point of the laser using a reciprocating motion similar to a reciprocating saw, allowing a far less powerful and inexpensive laser diode to be used. The technique is currently limited to cutting black materials to a depth of only a few millimeters, but should still be useful and enabling for Makers and other crafters. The end-goal is to create a hybrid inexpensive 3D printer that can be easily reconfigured for 2D laser cutting, providing powerful making tools to the desktop."

Russian Scholar Warns Of US Climate Change Weapon 415

According to Russian political scientist, and conspiracy aficionado Andrei Areshev the high heat, and poor crop yields of Russia, and other Central Asian countries may be the result of a climate weapon created by the US military. From the article: "... Areshev voiced suspicions about the High-Frequency Active Aural Research Program (HAARP), funded by the US Defense Department and the University of Alaska. HAARP, which has long been the target of conspiracy theorists, analyzes the ionosphere and seeks to develop technologies to improve radio communications, surveillance, and missile detection. Areshev writes, however, that its true aim is to create new weapons of mass destruction 'in order to destabilize environmental and agricultural systems in local countries.'"

Your Feces Is a Wonderland of Viruses 211

sciencehabit writes "Thanks to an anlaysis of fecal samples from four sets of Missouri-born female identical twins and their mothers, researchers have concluded that human guts harbor viruses as unique as the people they inhabit; the viral lineup differs even between identical twins. Even more surprising? These viruses may be doing good work inside of us."

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