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Foam-Eating Worms May Offer Solution To Mounting Waste 88

ckwu writes: Polystyrene foams—including products like Styrofoam—are rarely recycled, and the materials biodegrade so slowly that they can sit in a landfill for hundreds of years. But a pair of new studies shows that mealworms will dine on polystyrene foam when they can't get a better meal, converting almost half of what they eat into carbon dioxide. In one study, the researchers fed mealworms polystyrene foam and found that the critters converted about 48% of the carbon they ate into carbon dioxide and excreted 49% in their feces. In the second study, the researchers showed that bacteria in the mealworms' guts were responsible for breaking down the polystyrene--suggesting that engineering bacteria might be a strategy for boosting the reported biodegradation.

Hajj Pilgrimage Safety Challenges Crowd Simulator Technology 184

agent elevator writes: In 2010, Saudi Arabia hosted an international design competition aimed at safely accommodating more pilgrims at Mecca's Grand Mosque. One of the participants told IEEE Spectrum that the crowd densities there (6 people per square meter) bogged down off-the-shelf software so badly that simulation run times were about 10 to 20 times slower than real time crowd movement. Nevertheless, he found some workarounds that gave designers a plan to double the Grand Mosque's peak visitor rate from 40,000 to 102,000 people per hour. Last week's stampede took place well away from the mosque, but signals sent to pilgrims telling them when to speed up or slow down could help prevent such a tragedy, the crowd simulation expert said. Other engineers are turning to fuzzy logic as way to predict how crowds will react in a panic.

Comment Re:Media pesonalities (Score 1) 142

As much as /.ers hate Joe Sixpack and his fascination with the Kardashians - they sure perk up their ears when their media darlings pontificate.

Guess it's my one day of the month to get trolled, so...

We listen to NdGT and ES because they say stuff that makes sense. Joe6P doesn't listen to the Kardashians: he stares at their boobs and butts. See the difference? (unless you're obsessed wth Snowden's butt, which I suppose is possible)

Comment Re:"or at one of the Lagrange points" (Score 2) 211

There's a much simpler solution to the water problem. Don't send meatbags. Do all the work with robots & advanced waldo systems. Even ignoring the water, you could afford to lose (completely) several robotic mining systems for the cost of one human-rated craft.


The New Technique That Finds All Known Human Viruses In Your Blood 111

schwit1 writes with this story at the Atlantic that profiles Ian Lipkin and his new method for quickly detecting all known human viruses in a sample: Ian Lipkin, a virus hunter from Columbia University, recently received a blood sample from colleagues at the National Institutes of Health. They came from a man who had received a bone-marrow transplant and had fallen mysteriously ill, with evidence of severely inflamed blood vessels. In analyzing a similar case a few years back, Lipkin had discovered a new polyomavirus, part of a family that can cause disease in people with compromised immune systems. Perhaps this new case would yield another new virus. It didn't. Instead, when Lipkin's team ran the sample through a system that they had devised to detect human viruses, they found that the man was infected with dengue virus. In hindsight, that made sense-he had recently returned from Vietnam, where dengue is prevalent. But the thing is: The team wasn't looking for dengue virus.

"It wasn't what we anticipated, but we didn't have to make a priori decisions about what we planned to find," Lipkin says. "When people analyze samples from people who are ill, they have some idea in mind. This is probably an enterovirus, or maybe it's a herpesvirues. They then do a specific assay for that particular agent. They don't usually have the capacity to look broadly." The new system, known as VirCapSeq-VERT, barrels past this limitation. Lipkin, together with fellow Columbia professors Thomas Briese and Amit Kapoor, designed it to detect all known human viruses, quickly, efficiently, and sensitively. By searching for thousands, perhaps millions, of viruses at once, it should take a lot of the (educated) guesswork out of viral diagnosis.

Comment whistle-blower? ha ha (Score 4, Informative) 569

Take a quick look at the fate of whistle-blowers in the USA. Every single one, even those who finally (usually 10 to 15 years later) get their cash settlement, are blackballed within their industry, if not outright shunned by 'most everyone they knew in their former company. Typically a (USA) company engages in a propoganda war against the whistle-blower, starting with firing him for misconduct or violating IP or similar nonsense; then moving on to significant character assassination.

Whistle-blowing ain't gonna happen, so quit trying to blame the technical staff.

Comment Re:The odds are good (Score 1) 160

I'm so glad I now know that taking a selfie while swimming with sharks is not a good idea.

I propose that you're wrong for two reasons. The first is the infamous "two bombs on an airplane" theory: the number of people killed by sharks while taking a selfie (go ahead, mis-attribute my clause there and claim the shark has the camera!) is infinitesimal, so if you're going to swim with shartks, be sure to take a selfie.
The second is the well-known "cancellation Hearts" rule: each dangerous item cancels out the other.


Let's Not Go To Mars 683 writes: Ed Regis write in the NYT that today we an witnessing an outburst of enthusiasm over the literally outlandish notion that in the relatively near future, some of us are going to be living, working, thriving and dying on Mars. But unfortunately Mars mania reflects an excessively optimistic view of what it actually takes to travel to and live on Mars, papering over many of the harsh realities and bitter truths that underlie the dream. "First, there is the tedious business of getting there. Using current technology and conventional chemical rockets, a trip to Mars would be a grueling, eight- to nine-month-long nightmare for the crew," writes Regis. "Tears, sweat, urine and perhaps even solid waste will be recycled, your personal space is reduced to the size of an SUV., and you and your crewmates are floating around sideways, upside down and at other nauseating angles." According to Regis every source of interpersonal conflict, and emotional and psychological stress that we experience in ordinary, day-to-day life on Earth will be magnified exponentially by restriction to a tiny, hermetically sealed, pressure-cooker capsule hurtling through deep space and to top it off, despite these constraints, the crew must operate within an exceptionally slim margin of error with continuous threats of equipment failures, computer malfunctions, power interruptions and software glitches.

But getting there is the easy part says Regis. "Mars is a dead, cold, barren planet on which no living thing is known to have evolved, and which harbors no breathable air or oxygen, no liquid water and no sources of food, nor conditions favorable for producing any. For these and other reasons it would be accurate to call Mars a veritable hell for living things, were it not for the fact that the planet's average surface temperature is minus 81 degrees Fahrenheit." These are only a few of the many serious challenges that must be overcome before anyone can put human beings on Mars and expect them to live for more than five minutes says Regis. "The notion that we can start colonizing Mars within the next 10 years or so is an overoptimistic, delusory idea that falls just short of being a joke."

Comment Re:Why do teens *need* all these drugs??? (Score 1) 133

I'd usually finish my work fast and early and then be bored, and start distracting my neighbors. That began to earn me having my desk up closer to the teacher where she could keep an eye on me, or give me something else to do.

I would come up with new and creative things to do in class...

All of which in no way suggests ADD/ADHD. ADD kids are generally incapable of focussing on the assigned task and thus do **not** finish their work. Any vaguely competent teacher (or MD) can tell the difference between an ADD kid and a smart kid who's bored to the point of disruptance.

Comment 1979 (Score 1) 127

Didn't anyone RTFAT(itle)P(age) ?
  If this position had any serious acceptance in the legal community, you'd think we'd know about it 36 years after publication.

Any lawyer can claim anything. Especially if you pay them. Getting other lawyers (judges in particular) to agree takes a little more work.


NYU Study: America's Voting Machines Are Rapidly Aging Out 263

Presto Vivace passes on a link to a report at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU's law school which says that many of the vote-counting machines set to be used in the 2016 U.S. general election will be past their prime by the time of the election, if not long before. From the report: Technology has changed dramatically in the last decade, but America's voting machines are rapidly aging out. In 2016, for example, 43 states will use electronic voting machines that are at least 10 years old, perilously close to the end of most systems' expected lifespan. Old voting equipment increases the risk of failures and crashes — which can lead to long lines and lost votes on Election Day — and problems only get worse the longer we wait.
United States

Spy Industry Leaders Befuddled Over 'Deep Cynicism' of American Public 403

New submitter autonomous_reader writes: Ars Technica has a story on this week's Intelligence & National Security Summit, where CIA Director John Brennan and FBI Director James Comey had a lot to say about the resistance of the American public to government cyber spying and anti-encryption efforts. Blaming resistance on "people who are trying to undermine" the intelligence mission of the NSA, CIA, and FBI, John Brennan explained it was all a "misunderstanding." Comey explained that "venom and deep cynicism" prevented rational debate of his campaign for cryptographic backdoors.

Luck, that's when preparation and opportunity meet. -- P.E. Trudeau