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What the Papers Don't Say About Vaccines 737

jamie tips an article in The Guardian's "Bad Science" column which highlights recent media coverage of the MMR vaccine. A story circulated in the past week about the death of a young child, which the parents blamed on the vaccine. When the coroner later found that it had nothing to do with the child's death, there was a followup in only one of the six papers who had covered the story. "Does it stop there? No. Amateur physicians have long enjoyed speculating that MMR and other vaccinations are somehow 'harmful to the immune system' and responsible for the rise in conditions such as asthma and hay fever. Doubtless they must have been waiting some time for evidence to appear. ... Measles cases are rising. Middle class parents are not to blame, even if they do lack rhetorical panache when you try to have a discussion with them about it. They have been systematically and vigorously misled by the media, the people with access to all the information, who still choose, collectively, between themselves, so robustly that it might almost be a conspiracy, to give you only half the facts."

Russia To Study Martian Moons Once Again 119

Robbie writes "The Russian space program once faced bleak prospects, receiving meager government funding. Meanwhile, the United States and the ESA continued to send automatic probes to the Red Planet. NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers are now crawling on the planet's surface, while their Russian prototypes never lifted off and are now on display at the Space Research Institute's museum. However, the situation seems to be improving today. Under a stage-by-stage national program for studying Mars, the Phobos-Grunt automatic probe will be launched in October 2009. This cutting-edge modular spacecraft costs just 1.5 billion rubles ($64.4 million)."

Dublin Air Traffic Control Brought Down By Faulty NIC 203

Not so very long ago after passengers were left hanging by a similar glitch at LAX, Gilby4mPuck writes with another story of NIC failure leading to a disruption of air traffic, this time in Ireland, excerpting: "Data showing the location, height and speed of approaching planes disappeared from screens for 10 minutes each time. ... Thales ATM stated that in 10 similar air traffic control Centres worldwide with over 500,000 flight hours (50 years), this is the first time an incident of this type has been reported. ... '[They] confirmed the root cause of the hardware system malfunction as an intermittent malfunctioning network card which consequently overcame the built-in system redundancy,' said an IAA spokeswoman."
The Courts

GPS Tracking Device Beats Radar Gun in Court 702

MojoKid writes "According to a release issued by Rocky Mountain Tracking, an 18-year old man, Shaun Malone, was able to successfully contest a speeding ticket in court using the data from a GPS device installed in his car. This wasn't just any old make-a-left-turn-100-feet-ahead-onto-Maple-Street GPS; this was a vehicle-tracking GPS device — the kind used by trucking fleets — or in this case, overprotective parents. The device was installed in Malone's car by his parents, and the press release makes no mention if the teenager knew that the device was installed in his vehicle at the time."
Hardware Hacking

Fast-Booting OS for Usually-Off Appliance PCs? 523

An anonymous reader writes "I have some older computer equipment at work that I want to re-purpose as application appliances. The machines will sit, unpowered, until needed, then powered up. No way around the 'sitting powered off' — company directive. What is the quickest-booting OS I could use for them? I know about LinuxBIOS, but that would require new hardware, which does not go along which the re-purposing theme. Some of them do not need to be connected to a network, so an old version of Linux or Windows 98 are possible. DOS is too old to consider. So what are my options?"

GDocs vs. ThinkFree vs. Zoho vs. MS Office 226

CWmike writes "Web-based productivity suites, once almost a contradiction in terms, have become real challengers to desktop applications. Google Docs, ThinkFree, and Zoho, have all made major improvements in recent months. They're becoming both broader, with more applications, and deeper, with more features and functionality in existing apps. The question is: Are these three applications really ready to take on a desktop-based heavy hitter like Microsoft Office?"
The Internet

Multiple Experts Try Defining "Cloud Computing" 117

jg21 writes "Even though IBM's Irving Wladawsky Berger reports a leading analyst as having said recently that 'There is a clear consensus that there is no real consensus on what cloud computing is,' here are no fewer than twenty attempts at a definition of the infrastructural paradigm shift that is sweeping across the Enterprise IT world — some of them really quite good. From the article: 'Cloud computing is...the user-friendly version of grid computing.' (Trevor Doerksen) and 'Cloud computing really is accessing resources and services needed to perform functions with dynamically changing needs. An application or service developer requests access from the cloud rather than a specific endpoint or named resource.' (Kevin Hartig)"

Schneier, UW Team Show Flaw In TrueCrypt Deniability 225

An anonymous reader writes "Bruce Schneier and colleagues from the University of Washington have figured out a way to break the deniability of TrueCrypt 5.1a's hidden files. What about the spanking-new TrueCrypt 6? Schneier says that 'The new version will definitely close some of the leakages, but it's unlikely that it closed all of them.' Meanwhile, PC World is reporting that the problems Schneier and colleagues found are bigger than just TrueCrypt. Among their discoveries: Word auto-saves the contents of encrypted files to the unencrypted portions of your disk, and this problem should apply to all non-full disk encryption software. Their research paper will appear at Usenix HotSec '08."

Liquid Mirror Telescopes Set For Magnetic Upgrade 64

KentuckyFC writes "Liquid mirror telescopes start life as a puddle of mercury in a bowl. Set the bowl spinning and the mercury spreads out in a thin film giving the surface an almost perfect mirror finish. But these telescopes have two important limitations. First, they can only point straight up since tilting the mirror spills the mercury. And second, they cannot be made adaptive to correct for any blurring introduced by the Earth's atmosphere. But liquid mirror telescopes look set for an upgrade thanks to the work of a group of Canadian researchers. Their technique is to change the shape of the liquid mirror using powerful electromagnets. They use a ferromagnetic fluid of iron nanoparticles in oil instead of mercury which is too dense to be easily manipulated in this way. The work is just proof of principle at this stage but the idea is to use magnets to correct for the usual range of optical aberrations that telescopes have to deal with (abstract). And also to allow a liquid telescope to be tilted by using oil that is much more viscous than mercury and correcting any periodic deformation in the fluid that tilting might cause."

The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.