Pickens writes "The oldest genetically identifiable nuclear family met a violent death, according to analysis of remains from 4,600-year-old burials in Germany where the broken bones of these stone age people show they were killed in a struggle. Comparisons of DNA from one grave confirm it contained a mother, father, and their two children. 'We're really sure, based on hard biological facts not just supposing or assuming,' says Dr. Wolfgang Haak, from The Australian Centre for Ancient DNA. The stone-age people are thought to belong to a group known as the Corded Ware Culture, signified by their pots decorated with impressions from twisted cords. The children and adult males had the same type of strontium in their teeth — which was also found locally, but the nearest match to the women's teeth was at least 50km away, suggesting they had moved to the area. 'They were definitely murdered, there are big holes in their heads, fingers and wrists are broken,' says Dr. Alistair Pike from Bristol University. He noted that one victim even had the tip of a stone weapon embedded in a vertebra. 'You feel some kind of sympathy for them, it's a human thing, somebody must have really cared for them. ... We don't know how hard daily life was back there and if there was any space for love,' added Dr. Haak."
circleid writes "The Obama-Biden transition team on Friday named two long-time net neutrality advocates to head up its Federal Communications Commission Review team. Susan Crawford, a professor at the University of Michigan Law School, member of the board of directors of ICANN, and OneWebDay founder, as well as Kevin Werbach, former FCC staffer, organizer of the annual Supernova technology conference, and a Wharton professor, will lead the Obama-Biden transition team's review of the FCC. 'Both are highly-regarded outside-the-Beltway experts in telecom policy, and they've both been pretty harsh critics of the Bush administration's telecom policies in the past year.' The choice of the duo strongly signals an entirely different approach to the incumbent-friendly telecom policy-making that's characterized most of the past eight-years at the FCC." Reuters has a related story about Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), who plans to introduce net neutrality legislation in January.
reporter writes "HIV is the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Until now, HIV has no cure and has led to the deaths of over 25 million people. However, a possible cure has appeared. Dr. Gero Hutter, a brilliant physician in Germany, replaced the bone marrow of an HIV patient with the bone marrow of a donor who has natural immunity to HIV. The new bone marrow in the patient then produced immune-system cells that are immune to HIV. Being unable to hijack any immune cell, the HIV has simply disappeared. The patient has been free of HIV for about 2 years. Some physicians at UCLA have developed a similar therapy and plan to commercialize it."
Death Metal sends in a Scientific American article reporting that 2,000 of 6,000 amphibian species are endangered worldwide. A combination of environmental assaults, including global warming, seems to be responsible. "... national parks and other areas protected from pollution and development are providing no refuge. The frogs and salamanders of Yellowstone National Park have been declining since the 1980s, according to a Stanford University study, as global warming dries out seasonal ponds, leaving dried salamander corpses in their wake. Since the 1970s, nearly 75 percent of the frogs and other amphibians of La Selva Biological Station in Braulio Carrillo National Park in the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica have died, perhaps due to global warming. But the really bad news is that amphibians may be just the first sign of other species in trouble. Biologists at the University of California, San Diego, have shown that amphibians are the first to respond to environmental changes, thanks to their sensitivity to both air and water. What goes for amphibians may soon be true of other classes of animal, including mammals."
theodp writes "The NYTimes reports that pre-wired home security installations by alarm companies are on the way out. Thanks to wireless window and door sensors and motion detectors, installing and maintaining one's own security system is becoming a do-it-yourself project, with kits available from companies like InGrid and LaserShield. Time to start cranking out some new iPhone and Android apps, kids?"
David Gerard passes along a posting on Google's official blog announcing that they have extended the three-nines SLA for the Premier Edition of Google Apps from Gmail alone to also cover the Calendar, Docs, Sites, and Google Talk services. 99.9% uptime translates to 45 minutes a month of downtime, and the blog post puts this in context with Gmail's historical reliability, which has been between three and four times as good over the last year (10-15 min./mo.). It also claims, based on research by an outside group, that Gmail's historical reliability beats that of in-house hosted solutions such as Groupwise and Exchange, on average. Reader Ian Lamont adds an article in The Standard that digs down into the details of the SLA, revealing for instance that outages of less than 10 minutes aren't counted against the monthly 45 minutes.
Linux blog writes "The new version of OpenBSD is available for download. There are lots of nifty new features to try out including OpenSSH 5.1 with chroot(2) support, Xenocara, Gnome 2.20.3, KDE 3.5.8, etc. Machines using the UltraSPARC IV/T1/T2 and Fujitsu SPARC64-V/VI/VII are now supported. It seems amazing to me that they keep delivering these new results on a six-month release cycle."
xyz writes "NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has discovered a new class of pulsars which emit purely in gamma rays. A pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star, and of the nearly 1,800 cataloged so far, only a small fraction emit at frequencies higher than radio waves. The gamma-ray-only pulsar, which lies within a supernova remnant known as CTA 1, is silent across parts of the electromagnetic spectrum where pulsars are normally found, indicating a new class of pulsars. It is located 'about 4,600 light-years away in the constellation Cepheus. Its lighthouse-like beam sweeps Earth's way every 316.86 milliseconds. The pulsar, which formed in a supernova explosion about 10,000 years ago, emits 1,000 times the energy of our sun.'"
The Walking Dude writes "A lengthy article published in Culture Mandala details how China is using cyber warfare (PDF) as an asymmetric means to obtain technology transfer and market dominance. Case studies of Estonia, Georgia, and Project Chanology point towards a new auxiliary arm of traditional warfare. Political hackers and common Web 2.0 users, referred to as useful idiots (PDF), are being manipulated through PSYOPS and propaganda to enhance government agendas."
A refrigerator-sized tank of toxic ammonia, tossed from the international space station last year, is expected to hit earth tomorrow afternoon or evening. The 1,400-pound object was deliberately jettisoned — by hand — from the ISS's robot arm in July 2007. Since the time of re-entry is uncertain, so is the location. "NASA expects up to 15 pieces of the tank to survive the searing hot temperatures of re-entry, ranging in size from about 1.4 ounces (40 grams) to nearly 40 pounds (17.5 kilograms). ... [T]he largest pieces could slam into the Earth's surface at about 100 mph (161 kph). ...'If anybody found a piece of anything on the ground Monday morning, I would hope they wouldn't get too close to it,' [a NASA spokesman] said."
With under a week to go, we're opening up discussions on the US Presidential Election. Yesterday we discussed the economy. Today we take on one of the other major election topics: The War. From the actual wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, to foreign policy issues related to potential threats like North Korea, Russia, and Iran, how do the candidates stack up?
Riding with Robots writes "It's the beginning of the end for the Phoenix Mars Lander. As winter approaches in the Martian arctic, NASA says it's in a 'race against time and the elements' in its efforts to prolong the robotic spacecraft's life. Starting today, mission managers will begin to gradually shut the lander's systems down, hoping to conserve dwindling solar power and thereby extend the remaining systems' useful life. 'Originally scheduled to last 90 days, Phoenix has completed a fifth month of exploration in the Martian arctic. As expected, with the Martian northern hemisphere shifting from summer to fall, the lander is generating less power due to shorter days and fewer hours of sunlight reaching its solar panels. At the same time, the spacecraft requires more power to run several survival heaters that allow it to operate even as temperatures decline.'"
kaip writes "Finland piloted a fully electronic voting system in municipal elections last weekend. Due to a usability glitch, 232 votes, or about 2% of all electronic votes were lost. The results of the election may have been affected, because the seats in municipal assemblies are often decided by margins of a few votes. Unfortunately, nobody knows for sure, because the Ministry of Justice didn't see any need to implement a voter-verified paper record. The ministry was, of course, duly warned about a fully electronic voting system, but the critique was debunked as 'science fiction.' There is now discussion about re-arranging the affected elections. Thanks go to the voting system providers, Scytl and TietoEnator, for the experience."
coondoggie sends this excerpt from NetworkWorld: "The US Army Research Office and the National Security Agency (NSA) are together looking for some answers to their quantum physics questions. ... The Army said quantum algorithms that are developed should focus on constructive solutions [PDF] for specific tasks, and on general methodologies for expressing and analyzing algorithms tailored to specific problems — though they didn't say what those specific tasks were ... 'Investigators should presuppose the existence of a fully functional quantum computer and consider what algorithmic tasks are particularly well suited to such a machine. A necessary component of this research will be to compare the efficiency of the quantum algorithm to the best existing classical algorithm for the same problem.'"
Kligat writes "Scientists have found two asteroid belts around the star Epsilon Eridani, the ninth closest star to our solar system. Epsilon Eridani also possesses an icy outer ring similar in composition to our Kuiper Belt, but with 100 times more material, and a Jovian mass planet near the edge of the innermost belt. Researchers believe that two other planets must orbit the 850 million year old star near the other two belts. Terrestrial planets are possible, but not yet indicated."