fergus07 writes "Although much of the focus of pollution from automobiles centers on carbon emissions, there are other airborne nasties spewing from the tailpipes of fossil fuel-powered vehicles. These include nitrogen oxides (NOx). In the form of nitrogen dioxide it reacts with chemicals produced by sunlight to form nitric acid – a major constituent of acid rain – and also reacts with sunlight, leading to the formation of ozone and smog. Everyone is exposed to small amounts of nitrogen oxides in ambient air, but exposure to higher amounts, in areas of heavy traffic for example, can damage respiratory airways. Testing has shown that surfacing roads with air purifying concrete could make a big contribution to local air purity by reducing the concentration of nitrogen oxides by 25 to 45 percent."
Administrators at England's Worthing Hospital are insisting that doctors say the magic word when writing orders for blood tests on weekends. If a doctor refuses to write "please" on the order, the test will be refused. From the article: "However, a doctor at the hospital said on condition of anonymity that he sees the policy as a money-saving measure that could prove dangerous for patients. 'I was shocked to come in on Sunday and find none of my bloods had been done from the night before because I'd not written "please,"' the doctor said. 'I had no results to guide treatment of patients. Myself and a senior nurse had to take the bloods ourselves, which added hours to our 12-hour shifts. This system puts patients' lives at risk. Doctors are wasting time doing the job of the technicians.'"
Stoobalou writes with this excerpt from Thinq.co.uk: "A new study has shown that brain training games do little to exercise the grey matter. Millions of people who have been prodding away at their Nintendo DS portable consoles, smug in the knowledge that they are giving their brains a proper work-out, might have to rethink how they are going to stop the contents of their skulls turning into mush."
G3ckoG33k writes "The name of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster will change to Sophophora melangaster. The reason is that scientists have by now discovered some 2,000 species of the genus and it is becoming unmanageably large. Unfortunately, the 'type species' (the reference point of the genus), Drosophila funebris, is rather unrelated to the D. melanogaster, and ends up in a distant part of the relationship tree. However, geneticists have, according to Google Scholar, more than 300,000 scientific articles describing innumerable aspects of the species, and will have to learn the new name as well as remember the old. As expected, the name change has created an emotional (and practical) stir all over media. While name changes are frequent in science, as they describe new knowledge about relationships between species, these changes rarely hit economically relevant species, and when they do, people get upset."
RawJoe writes "India and Bangladesh have argued for almost 30 years over control of a tiny island in the Bay of Bengal. Now rising sea levels have ended the argument for them: the island's gone. From the article: 'New Moore Island, in the Sunderbans, has been completely submerged, said oceanographer Sugata Hazra, a professor at Jadavpur University in Calcutta. Its disappearance has been confirmed by satellite imagery and sea patrols, he said. "What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming," said Hazra.'"
separsons writes "Researchers at Japan's Tohoku University designed a new shape memory metal alloy. The super elastic iron alloy can endure serious stretching and still return to its original shape. The scientists say that once optimized, the material could be used in everything from braces to medical stents to earthquake-proof buildings!"
cremeglace writes with this excerpt from ScienceNOW: "You've heard the controversy. Particle physicists predict the world's new highest-energy atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland, might create tiny black holes, which they say would be a fantastic discovery. Some doomsayers fear those black holes might gobble up the Earth — physicists say that's impossible — and have petitioned the United Nations to stop the $5.5 billion LHC. Curiously, though, nobody had ever shown that the prevailing theory of gravity, Einstein's theory of general relativity, actually predicts that a black hole can be made this way. Now a computer model shows conclusively for the first time that a particle collision really can make a black hole." That said, they estimate the required energy for creating a black hole this way to be roughly "a quintillion times higher than the LHC's maximum"; though if one of the theories requiring compact extra dimensions is true, the energy could be lower.
As high-definition graphics become more and more entrenched in this generation of game consoles, Nintendo has had to deal with constant speculation about a new version of the Wii that would increase its capabilities. Today, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime bluntly denied that a hardware revision was imminent, saying, "We are confident the Wii home entertainment console has a very long life in front of it." He added, "In terms of what the future holds, we've gone on record to say that the next step for Nintendo in home consoles will not be to simply make it HD, but to add more and more capability, and we'll do that when we've totally tapped out all of the experiences for the existing Wii. And we're nowhere near doing that yet."
kaychoro writes "There may be hope for Duke Nukem Forever (again). 'Jon St. John, better known as the voice of Duke Nukem, said some interesting words during a panel discussion at the Music and Games Festival (MAGFest) that took place January 1 – 4 in Alexandria, Virginia, according to Pixel Enemy. Answering a question from the crowd regarding DNF, St. John said: "... let me go ahead and tell you right now that I'm not allowed to talk about Duke Nukem Forever. No, no, don't be disappointed, read between the lines — why am I not allowed to talk about it?"'"
feldhaus writes "The BBC reports that the first beams for over one year have been successfully sent around the complete circumference of the Large Hadron Collider. Engineers do not yet have a stable circulating beam but they hope to by 0600 GMT on Saturday."
DangerFace writes "Scientists are set to unveil a lightweight system they say makes an operating system significantly more resistant to rootkits without degrading its performance. The hypervisor-based system is dubbed HookSafe, and it works by relocating kernel hooks in a guest OS to a dedicated page-aligned memory space that's tightly locked down. The team installed HookSafe on a machine running Ubuntu 8.04, and found the system successfully prevented nine real-world rootkits targeting that platform from installing or hiding themselves. The program was able to achieve that protection with only a 6 percent reduction in performance benchmarks."
TheClockworkSoul sends in an article up at Scientific American, from which we quote: "Stem cells so far have been used to mend tissues ranging from damaged hearts to collapsed tracheas. Now the multifaceted cells have proved successful at regrowing bone in humans. In the first procedure of its kind, doctors at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center replaced a 14-year-old boy's missing cheekbones — in part by repurposing stem cells from his own body. To create the new bones, which have become part of the patient's own skull structure and have remained securely in place for four and a half months, the medical team used a combination of fat-derived stem cells, donated bone scaffolds, growth factors, and bone-coating tissue. The technique, should it be approved for widespread use, could benefit some seven million people in the US who need more bone — everyone from cancer patients to injured war veterans."
In a recent article for Offworld, Jim Rossignol writes about how the experiences offered by games are broadening as they become more familiar and more popular among researchers and educators. He mentions Korsakovia, a Half-Life 2 mod which is an interpretation of Korsakoff's syndrome, a brain disorder characterized by confusion and severe memory problems, and makes the point that games (and game engines) can provide interesting and evocative experiences without the constraint of being "fun," much as books and movies can be appreciated without "fun" being an appropriate description. Quoting: "Is this collective imagining of games one of the reasons why they tend to focus on a narrow band of imagination? Do critics decry games because games need, more than any other media, to be something a group of people can all agree on? Isn't that why diversions from the standard templates are always met with such excitement or surprise? Getting a large number of creative people to head out into the same imaginative realm is a monumental task, and it's a reason why game directors like to riff off familiar films or activities you can see on TV to define their projects. A familiar movie gets everyone on the same page with great immediacy. 'Want to know what this game is going to be like? Go watch Aliens, you'll soon catch up.' We are pushed into familiar, well-explored areas of imagination. However, there are also teams who are both exploring strange annexes and also creating games that are very much about imaginative exploration. These idiosyncratic few do seem like Alan Moore's 'exporters,' giving us something genuinely new to investigate and explore. Once the team has figured out how to drag the thing back from their imaginations, so we get to examine its exotic experiences — like the kind we can't get at home."
NewbieV writes "The international space station is by far the largest spacecraft ever built by earthlings. Circling the Earth every 90 minutes, it often passes over North America and is visible from the ground when night has fallen but the station, up high, is still bathed in sunlight. After more than a decade of construction, it is nearing completion and finally has a full crew of six astronauts. The last components should be installed by the end of next year. And then? 'In the first quarter of 2016, we'll prep and de-orbit the spacecraft,' says NASA's space station program manager, Michael T. Suffredini."
Sudheer writes "The PHP development team is proud to announce the immediate release of PHP 5.3.0. This release is a major improvement in the 5.X series, which includes a large number of new features and bug fixes. Some of the key new features include: namespaces, late static binding, closures, optional garbage collection for cyclic references, new extensions (like ext/phar, ext/intl and ext/fileinfo), over 140 bug fixes and much more."