sciencehabit writes "Astronomers report that a small asteroid located in the inner asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter took a major hit early last year. Previously rendered only in artists' conceptions, the first asteroid collision known in modern times revealed itself in a tail of debris streaming from what astronomers at first assumed was a comet. Instead of a steady stream of dust, however, they found boulders near the object with dust moving away from them."
jamie points out news of a study attempting to explain the decline of honeybee populations across the US. As it turns out, the fungus N. ceranae that was thought to be killing off bee colonies had a partner in crime — a DNA-based virus that worked in tandem with N. ceranae to compromise nutrition uptake. From the NY Times: "Dr. Bromenshenk's team at the University of Montana and Montana State University in Bozeman, working with the Army's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center northeast of Baltimore, said in their jointly written paper that the virus-fungus one-two punch was found in every killed colony the group studied. Neither agent alone seems able to devastate; together, the research suggests, they are 100 percent fatal. 'It's chicken and egg in a sense — we don't know which came first,' Dr. Bromenshenk said of the virus-fungus combo — nor is it clear, he added, whether one malady weakens the bees enough to be finished off by the second, or whether they somehow compound the other's destructive power. 'They're co-factors, that's all we can say at the moment,' he said. 'They're both present in all these collapsed colonies.'"
gzipped_tar writes "According to Spiegel Online, 'A new computer game where players assume the roles of border guards and shoot people trying to escape from communist East Germany has unleashed a storm of controversy in Germany. The game's creator says he wanted to teach young people about history, but he has been accused of glorifying violence. ... The name of the multi-player FPS game, 1,378 (kilometers), was inspired by the length of the border between East and West Germany. ... [Players] choose between the roles of the border guards or would-be escapees: the escapee only has one goal — to get over the wall, but the border guard has more options, and can shoot or capture the escapee. He can also swap sides and try to clamber over the border defenses himself.' By choosing to play the border guard and kill the escapee, the player would win an in-game medal from the government of East Germany. But then the guard would time-travel forward to the year 2000, where he would have to stand trial. Jens Stober, 23, designed the game as a media art student at the University of Design, Media and Arts in Karlsruhe. He said that his intention was to teach young people about German history."
oxide7 writes "The philosopher Frederick Nietzsche once famously said, 'That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.' That may or may not be true for human beings, but it is certainly true for bacteria. The superbugs are among us and they are not leaving. Indeed, they are growing stronger. 'The problem is that the animal agriculture industry makes massive use of low-dose antibiotics for growth promotion and in place of effective infection prevention methods,' Young said, adding that the farm animal population is much larger than the human population. The low-dose antibiotics do not kill the disease. They make the disease stronger, more resistant to those and other antibiotics. The animals — the cattle, pigs and chickens — thus treated become superbug factories. The diseases stay in them and they wash off them to infect the surrounding environment."
spasm writes "A University of Toronto engineering graduate student has made and successfully flown a human-powered flapping-wing aircraft. From the article: 'Todd Reichert, a PhD candidate at the university's Institute of Aerospace Studies, piloted the wing-flapping aircraft, sustaining both altitude and airspeed for 19.3 seconds and covering a distance of 145 metres at an average speed of 25.6 kilometres per hour.'"
An anonymous reader tips a post up at the Wolfire blog that attempts to pin down a reasonable figure for the amount of sales a game company loses due to piracy. We've commonly heard claims of piracy rates as high as 80-90%, but that clearly doesn't translate directly into lost sales. The article explains a better metric: going on a per-pirate basis rather than a per-download basis. Quoting: "iPhone game developers have also found that around 80% of their users are running pirated copies of their game (using jailbroken phones). This immediately struck me as odd — I suspected that most iPhone users had never even heard of 'jailbreaking.' I did a bit more research and found that my intuition was correct — only 5% of iPhones in the US are jailbroken. World-wide, the jailbreak statistics are highest in poor countries — but, unsurprisingly, iPhones are also much less common there. The highest estimate I've seen is that 10% of worldwide iPhones are jailbroken. Given that there are so few jailbroken phones, how can we explain that 80% of game copies are pirated? The answer is simple — the average pirate downloads a lot more games than the average customer buys. This means that even though games see that 80% of their copies are pirated, only 10% of their potential customers are pirates, which means they are losing at most 10% of their sales."
I bought a DVD a few years ago that I thought might be useful for my son in a few years...
Here's a preview: http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=-1873635453969513506
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has come up with an unusual way of saving money: changing their email font. The school expects to use 30% less ink by switching from Arial to Century Gothic. From the article: "Diane Blohowiak is the school's director of computing. She says the new font uses about 30 percent less ink than the previous one. That could add up to real savings, since the cost of printer ink works out to about $10,000 per gallon. Blohowiak says the decision is part of the school's five-year plan to go green. She tells Wisconsin Public Radio it's great that a change that's eco-friendly also saves money."