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Patents

Taking the Battle Against Patent Trolls To the Public 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-do-you-think-grandma? dept.
First time accepted submitter presspass writes "A group of technology and retail groups is beginning a national ad campaign targeting so-called patent trolls. The Internet Association, National Restaurant Association, National Retail Federation and Food Marketing Institute Patent trolls — a term known more among geeks than the general public — are about to be the target of a national ad campaign. Beginning Friday, a group of retail trade organizations is launching a radio and print campaign in 17 states. They want to raise awareness of a problem they say is draining resources from business and raising prices for consumers."

Comment: Humanities not science? (Score 1) 564

by DaPhil (#44109757) Attached to: Why Engineering Freshmen Should Take Humanities Courses

The article seems to imply that the humanities are not science, but helping the real science (and lists engineering, of all things). I completely disagree!

Science is a way of thinking, an approach --- you can and must apply it to everything: Humanities as well as Natural Sciences as well as Engineering. It includes rigorous work, sceptical thinking, an open mind, etc. --- and it is necessary for ALL scientists to follow, regardless of their field.

Comment: Re:Fraud (Score 4, Insightful) 240

by DaPhil (#43244225) Attached to: Most UK GPs Have Prescribed Placebos

Here's the rub. A lot of people show up at the doctor for things which will take n days to go away - with or without treatment. The common cold, for example. They won't accept NOT getting any prescription and will hop from doctor to doctor until they get one.

Now the best thing would be educating the public about this issue. This is very, very hard to do. Barring that, it is actually better for the patients and cheaper to just prescribe placebos - they DO work in this case! (up to the placebo effect, as any other medicine would).

Unfortunately there is another issue involved: Most placebos (at least in Germany) are homeopatic. This lends credibility to the whole homeopatic industry, and THEY are nothing but quacks. And THAT is a bad thing.

So - either way you lose.

Transportation

Scientists Create New Gasoline Substitute Out of Plants 419

Posted by samzenpus
from the miles-per-leaf dept.
destinyland writes "California scientists have just created a new biofuel using plants that burns just as well as a petroleum-based fuel. 'The discovery, published in the journal Nature, means corn, sugar cane, grasses and other fast-growing plants or trees, like eucalyptus, could be used to make the propellant, replacing oil,' writes the San Francisco Chronicle, and the researchers predict mass marketing of their product within 5 to 10 years. They created their fuel using a fermentation process that was first discovered in 1914, but which was then discontinued in 1965 when petroleum became the dominant source of fuel. The new fuel actually contains more energy per gallon than is currently contained in ethanol, and its potency can even be adjusted for summer or winter driving."
Crime

Security Firm Predicts "Murder By Internet-Connected Devices" 135

Posted by samzenpus
from the click-and-kill dept.
Curseyoukhan writes "Infosec vendor IID (Internet Identity) probably hopes that by the time 2014 rolls around no one will remember the prediction it just made. That is the year it says we will see the first murder via internet connected device. The ability to do this has been around for quite some time but the company won't say why it hasn't happened yet. Probably because that would have screwed up their fear marketing. CIO blogger challenges them to a $10K bet over their claim."
Mars

Craig Venter Wants To Rebuild Martian Life In Earth Lab 142

Posted by timothy
from the stacking-up-the-if-thens dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Karen Kaplan reports in the LA Times that Craig Venter is making plans to send a DNA sequencer to Mars. Assuming there is DNA to be found on the Red Planet – a big assumption, to be sure – the sequencer will decode its DNA, beam it back to Earth, put those genetic instructions into a cell and then boot up a Martian life form in a biosecure lab. Venter's 'biological teleporter' (as he dubbed it) would dig under the surface for samples to sequence. If they find anything, 'it would take only 4.3 minutes to get the Martians back to Earth,' says Venter, founder of Celera Genomics and the Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR). 'Now we can rebuild the Martians in a P4 spacesuit lab.' It may sound far-fetched, but the notion of equipping a future Mars rover to sequence the DNA isn't so crazy, and Venter isn't the only one looking for Martian DNA. MIT research scientist Christopher Carr is part of a group that's 'building a a miniature RNA/DNA sequencer to search for life beyond Earth,' according to the MIT website 'The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Genomes.' SETG will test the hypothesis that life on Mars, if it exists, shares a common ancestor with life on Earth. Carr told Tech Review that one of the biggest challenges is shrinking Ion Torrent's 30-kilogram machine down to a mere 3 kg – light enough to fit on a Mars rover."
Science

Complex Logic Circuit Made From Bacterial Genes 37

Posted by samzenpus
from the feeding-the-machine dept.
another random user writes "Just as electronic circuits are made from resistors, capacitors and transistors, biological circuits can be made from genes and regulatory proteins. Engineer Tae Seok Moon's dream is to design modular 'genetic parts' that can be used to build logic controllers inside microbes that will program them to make fuel, clean up pollutants, or kill infectious bacteria or cancerous cells. The circuit Moon eventually built consisted of four sensors for four different molecules that fed into three two-input AND gates. If all four molecules were present, all three AND gates turned on and the last one produced a reporter protein that fluoresced red, so that the operation of the circuit could be easily monitored."

Comment: Re:Please read "2052" (Score 3, Interesting) 462

by DaPhil (#40771051) Attached to: Is There Still a Ray of Hope On Climate Change?

Apparently, not so bad: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16058-prophesy-of-economic-collapse-coming-true.html

I have not read the 1972 book, but I think the main point was that economic growth has to stop at some point (because the planet won't support it) and we have to go for a steady-state economy. The problem with that is, while it is perfectly possible to do, it apparently still just doesn't fit into the heads of the people responsible.

Comment: Please read "2052" (Score 3, Interesting) 462

by DaPhil (#40769645) Attached to: Is There Still a Ray of Hope On Climate Change?

I recommend reading "2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years" (http://www.amazon.com/2052-Global-Forecast-Forty-Years/dp/1603584218).

It is written by the same guy who co-wrote the 1972 report "The Limits Of Growth" and deals with what humanity will likely do (globally) in the next 40 years (not what we SHOULD do, but what we will most likely do).

It is very interesting (and actually quite easy) to read and deals among other things with the expected results of climate change.

Earth

Is There Still a Ray of Hope On Climate Change? 462

Posted by Soulskill
from the let-the-kids-deal-with-it dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "David Leonhardt writes in the NY Times that even as the U.S. endures its warmest year on record (the 13 warmest years for the entire planet have all occurred since 1998), the country seems to be moving further away from doing something about climate change, with the issue having all but fallen out of the national debate. But behind the scenes, a different story is emerging that offers reason for optimism: the world's largest economies may be in the process of creating a climate-change response that does not depend on the politically painful process of raising the price of dirty energy. Despite some high-profile flops, like ethanol and Solyndra, clean-energy investments seem to be succeeding more than they are failing. 'The price of solar and wind power have both fallen sharply in the last few years. This country's largest wind farm, sprawling across eastern Oregon, is scheduled to open next month. Already, the world uses vastly more alternative energy than experts predicted only a decade ago,' writes Leonhardt. Natural gas, the use of which has jumped 25 percent since 2008 while prices have fallen more than 80 percent, now generates as much electricity as coal in the United States, which would have been unthinkable not long ago. Thanks in part to earlier government investments, energy companies have been able to extract much more natural gas than once seemed possible which, while far from perfectly clean, is less carbon-intensive than coal use. The clean-energy push has been successful enough to leave many climate advocates believing it is the single best hope for preventing even hotter summers, concludes Leonhardt, adding that while a cap-and-trade program faces an uphill political battle, an investment program that aims to make alternative energy less expensive is more politically feasible. 'Our best hope,' says Benjamin H. Strauss, 'is some kind of disruptive technology that takes off on its own, the way the Internet and the fax took off.'"
Wikipedia

Why Is Wikipedia So Ugly? 370

Posted by timothy
from the looks-nice-to-me dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Megan Garber writes in the Atlantic that aesthetically, Wikipedia is remarkably unattractive. 'The gridded layout! The disregard for mind-calming images! The vaguely Geocities-esque environment! Whether it's ironic or fitting, it is undeniable: The Sum of All Human Knowledge, when actually summed up, is pretty ugly.' But Wikipedians consider the site's homeliness as a feature rather than a bug. 'Wikipedia has always been kind of a homely, awkward, handcrafted-looking site,' says Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, adding that the homeliness 'is part of its awkward charm.' Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr have built followings in part because of their exceedingly simple interfaces. Everything about their design says, 'Come on, guys. Participate. It's easy,' while Wikipedia, so far, has been pretty much the opposite of that. 'The free encyclopedia that anyone can edit' might more properly be nicknamed 'the free encyclopedia that any geek can edit.' This is particularly problematic because one of the Wikimedia Foundation's broad strategic goals is to expand its base of editors. While the editing interface is friendly to the site's super-users who tend to be so committed to Wikipedia's mission that they're willing to do a lot to contribute to it, if Wikipedia wants to make itself more attractive to users, a superficial makeover may be just the thing Wikipedia needs to begin growing in a more meaningful way."
Handhelds

Researchers Push Implanted User Interfaces 84

Posted by timothy
from the well-if-it's-good-enough-for-cadavers dept.
MatthewVD writes "A new, user interface-enabled generation of electronics that you wear under your skin could be used for convenience, or even pleasure, rather than medical reasons. Scientists at Autodesk Research in Toronto have implanted electronics with user buttons, pressure sensors and LEDs under the skin of a cadaver's arm and wrapped in artificial skin. The electronics could buzz you when you have an appointment, carry memory cards with data, or connect you in a social network with others wearing electronics."
Games

Valve Hiring Hardware Developers 94

Posted by Soulskill
from the enjoy-those-steambox-rumors dept.
New submitter Canazza writes "According to Develop, 'PC games giant Valve wants to "invent whole new gaming experiences" and is looking for people to help create new hardware, the Washington studio has confirmed. Off the back of a wave of speculation that the studio is building its own games console – a rumour which Valve has not specifically denied – the company now appears to be increasing capacity of its hardware development division.' Is Valve designing a new console? Or is this an expansion of its biometric controls research? Either way, something big is going down at Valve."

The only thing cheaper than hardware is talk.

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