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Government

DHS Steps In As Regulator for Medical Device Security 123

mask.of.sanity writes "The Department of Homeland Security has taken charge of pushing medical device manufacturers to fix vulnerable medical software and devices after researchers popped yet another piece of hospital hardware. It comes after the agency pushed Philips to move to fix critical vulnerabilities found in its popular medical management platform that is used in a host of services including assisting surgeries and generating patient reports. To date, no agency has taken point on forcing the medical manufacturers to improve the information security profile of their products, with the FDA even dubbing such a risk unrealistic (PDF)."
Japan

Russian Scientists Say They'll Clone a Mammoth Within 5 Years 302

Many scientists (mainly Japanese and Russian) have dreamed of cloning a mammoth over the years. When the mammoth genome was partially reconstructed in 2008, that dream seemed a bit closer. Besides the millions of dollars needed for such a project, the biggest hurdle was the lack of a good sample of mammoth DNA. That hurdle has now been cleared, thanks to the discovery of well-preserved bone marrow in a mammoth thigh bone. Russian scientist Semyon Grigoriev, acting director of the Sakha Republic's mammoth museum, and colleagues from Japan's Kinki University say that within 5 years they'll likely have a clone. From the article: "What's been missing is woolly mammoth nuclei with undamaged genes. Scientists have been on a Holy Grail-type search for such pristine nuclei since the late 1990s. Now it sounds like the missing genes may have been found."
Science

EU Scientists Working On Laser To Rip a Hole In Spacetime 575

astroengine writes "Those pesky physicists are at it again; they want to build a laser so powerful that it will literally rip spacetime apart. Why? To prove the existence of virtual particles in the quantum vacuum, potentially unravel extra dimensions and possibly find the root of dark matter. The $1.6 billion Extreme Light Infrastructure Ultra-High Field Facility (known as ELI) will be built somewhere in Europe by the end of the decade and physicists are hoping the ten high-powered lasers — delivering 200 petawatts of power at a target for less than a trillionth of a second — will turn up some surprises about the very fabric of the Universe."
Medicine

Scientists Recover Black Death RNA From Exhumed Victims 105

Richard.Tao writes "Scientists have recovered the RNA of the virus that caused the plague by digging through an English mass grave, and compiling [from several partial examples] the genetics of the virus. Though the plague still persists, scientists have believe the ancient strain was different due to a different onset of symptoms."
NASA

NASA Wants To Zap Space Junk With Lasers 148

Hugh Pickens writes "MIT Technology Review reports that various ideas have been floated for removing space junk, most of them hugely expensive, but now James Mason at NASA Ames Research Center has come up with the much cheaper option of zapping individual pieces of junk with a ground-based laser, to slow them down so that they eventually de-orbit. Mason estimates that a device to test the reversal of the Kessler syndrome could be put together for a million dollars, which would have to be shared by many space-faring nations, to avoid the inevitable legal issues that using such a device would raise. 'The scheme requires launching nothing into space — except photons (PDF) — and requires no on-orbit interaction — except photon pressure. It is thus less likely to create additional debris risk in comparison to most debris removal schemes,' writes Mason. 'Eventually the concept may lead to an operational international system for shielding satellites and large debris objects from a majority of collisions as well as providing high accuracy debris tracking data and propellant-less station keeping for smallsats.'"
Biotech

Genetically Altering Trees To Sequester More Carbon 279

An anonymous reader writes "Forests of genetically altered trees and other plants could sequester several billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year and so help ameliorate global warming, according to estimates published in the October issue of BioScience. The study, by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, outlines a variety of strategies (PDF) for augmenting the processes that plants use to sequester carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into long-lived forms of carbon, first in vegetation and ultimately in soil."
Government

FAA Adds a Study On Adding Drones To Commercial Aviation 215

coondoggie writes "Facing a number of technical challenges, the Federal Aviation Administration said today it added another research project designed to better understand how unmanned aircraft can be brought safely into the national airspace. The FAA set a two-year research and development agreement with Insitu (an independent subsidiary of Boeing) and the New Jersey Air National Guard that will help FAA scientists to study and better understand unmanned aircraft design, construction, and features. Researchers will also look at the differences in how an air traffic controller would manage an unmanned aircraft vs. a manned aircraft."
Image

The Race To Beer With 50% Alcohol By Volume Screenshot-sm 297

ElectricSteve writes "Most of the world's beer has between 4% and 6% alcohol by volume (ABV). The strength of beer achieved by traditional fermentation brewing methods has limits, but a well-crafted beer that is repeatedly 'freeze distilled' can achieve exquisite qualities and much higher alcohol concentrations. An escalation in the use of this relatively new methodology over the last 12 months has seen man's favorite beverage suddenly move into the 40+% ABV realm of spirits such as gin, rum, brandy, whiskey, and vodka, creating a new category of extreme beer. The world's strongest beer was 27% ABV, but amidst an informal contest to claim the title of the world's strongest beer, the top beer has jumped in strength dramatically. This week Gizmag spoke to the brewers at the center of the escalating competition. New contestants are gathering, and the race is now on to break 50% alcohol by volume."
Image

Oil Leak Could Be Stopped With a Nuke Screenshot-sm 799

An anonymous reader writes "The oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico could be stopped with an underground nuclear blast, a Russian newspaper reports. Komsomoloskaya Pravda, the best-selling Russian daily, reports that in Soviet times such leaks were plugged with controlled nuclear blasts underground. The idea is simple, KP writes: 'The underground explosion moves the rock, presses on it, and, in essence, squeezes the well's channel.' It's so simple, in fact, that the Soviet Union used this method five times to deal with petrocalamities, and it only didn't work once."
Security

How Dangerous Could a Hacked Robot Possibly Be? 229

alphadogg writes "Researchers at the University of Washington think it's finally time to start paying some serious attention to the question of robot security. Not because they think robots are about to go all Terminator on us, but because the robots can already be used to spy on us and vandalize our homes. In a paper published Thursday the researchers took a close look at three test robots: the Erector Spykee, and WowWee's RoboSapien and Rovio. They found that security is pretty much an afterthought in the current crop of robotic devices. 'We were shocked at how easy it was to actually compromise some of these robots,' said Tadayoshi Kohno, a University of Washington assistant professor, who co-authored the paper."
Privacy

India To Put All Citizen Info In a Central Database 132

Oracle Goddess writes "As part of a project to issue ID cards for all 1.1 billion of its citizens, India has announced plans to place information on every single citizen in what will be the world's second largest citizens' database. The government believes the scheme will aid the delivery of vital social services to the poorest people who often lack sufficient identification papers. It also sees the scheme as a way to tackle increasing amounts of identity fraud and theft, and, at a time of increased concern over the threat of militant violence, to boost national security and help police and law officials. 'This could be used as a security measure by the government which leaves migrant workers, refugees and other stateless people in India in limbo, without access to public services, employment and basic welfare,' said Charu Lata Hogg, an associate fellow of the Asia program at Chatham House."
Power

Beamed Space Solar Power Plant To Open In 2016? 512

Eric_S writes "Anybody who managed to get a decent city going in Sim City 2000 remembers the microwave power plant; now it seems like a real-world equivalent might be coming up on the horizon. The Pacific Gas and Electricity Company, per this 'interview' with the CEO of Solaren on their affiliated site, announced PG&E's plans to buy 200MW of base-load power from a Solaren beamed space solar power plant by 2016." I wish the skeptic in me would be quiet.
Medicine

New Discovery May End Transplant Rejection 201

mmmscience writes with this excerpt from the Examiner: "Big news in the medical world: scientists in Australia have found a way to stop the body from attacking organ transplants, greatly decreasing the possibility of organ rejection. ... When a new tissue is introduced, one's immune system kicks into overdrive, sending out cells known as killer T cells to attack and destroy the unknown tissue. ... Professor Jonathan Sprent and Dr. Kylie Webster from Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research focused on a different type of T cells — known as regulatory T cells (Treg) — in this study. Tregs are capable of quieting the immune system, stopping the killer T cells from seeking out and attacking foreign objects."

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