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Submission + - IBM's Watson to be used for cancer treatment (

Beeftopia writes: The New York Genome Center and IBM will investigate whether Watson can be used to parse cancer genome data and then recommend treatments. The trial involves 20 to 25 glioblastoma patients with poor prognoses. The article states, "It should theoretically be possible to analyze [genomic] data and use it to customize a treatment that targets the specific mutations present in tumor cells. But right now, doing so requires a squad of highly trained geneticists, genomics experts, and clinicians. It's a situation that can't scale to handle the [number of] patients with glioblastoma, much less other cancers. Instead, that gusher of information is going to be pointed at Watson... Watson will figure out which mutations are distinct to the tumor, what protein networks they effect, and which drugs target proteins that are part of those networks. The net result will be a picture of the biochemical landscape inside the tumor cells, along with some suggestions on how clinicians might consider intervening to change the landscape.

Submission + - Time Dilation Drug Could Let Heinous Criminals Serve 1,000 Year Sentences 7

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes: Like something out of the movie "Inception," Rhiannon Williams reports in the Telegraph that Dr. Rebecca Roache, in charge of a team of scholars focused upon the ways futuristic technologies might transform punishment, claims the prison sentence of serious criminals could be made worse by distorting prisoners' minds into thinking time was passing more slowly. "There are a number of psychoactive drugs that distort people’s sense of time, so you could imagine developing a pill or a liquid that made someone feel like they were serving a 1,000-year sentence," says Roache. Roache says when she began researching this topic, she was thinking a lot about Daniel Pelka, a four-year-old boy who was starved and beaten to death by his mother and stepfather. "I had wondered whether the best way to achieve justice in cases like that was to prolong death as long as possible. Some crimes are so bad they require a really long period of punishment, and a lot of people seem to get out of that punishment by dying. And so I thought, why not make prison sentences for particularly odious criminals worse by extending their lives?" Thirty years in prison is currently the most severe punishment available in the UK legal system. "To me, these questions about technology are interesting because they force us to rethink the truisms we currently hold about punishment. When we ask ourselves whether it’s inhumane to inflict a certain technology on someone, we have to make sure it’s not just the unfamiliarity that spooks us," says Roache. "Is it really OK to lock someone up for the best part of the only life they will ever have, or might it be more humane to tinker with their brains and set them free? When we ask that question, the goal isn’t simply to imagine a bunch of futuristic punishments – the goal is to look at today’s punishments through the lens of the future."

Submission + - Drugs Aim to Make Several Types of Cancer Self-Destruct (

SternisheFan writes: Gina Kolata of The New York Times writes:
  For the first time ever, three pharmaceutical companies are poised to test whether new drugs can work against a wide range of cancers independently of where they originated — breast, prostate, liver, lung. The drugs go after an aberration involving a cancer gene fundamental to tumor growth. Many scientists see this as the beginning of a new genetic age in cancer research.
  Great uncertainties remain, but such drugs could mean new treatments for rare, neglected cancers, as well as common ones. Merck, Roche and Sanofi are racing to develop their own versions of a drug they hope will restore a mechanism that normally makes badly damaged cells self-destruct and could potentially be used against half of all cancers.
  No pharmaceutical company has ever conducted a major clinical trial of a drug in patients who have many different kinds of cancer, researchers and federal regulators say. “This is a taste of the future in cancer drug development,” said Dr. Otis Webb Brawley, the chief medical and scientific officer of the American Cancer Society. “I expect the organ from which the cancer came from will be less important in the future and the molecular target more important,” he added.

Submission + - ask slashdot: Do You Test Your New Hard Drives?

An anonymous reader writes: Any /. thread about drive failure is loaded with good advice about EOL, but what about the beginning? Do you normally test your new purchases as thoroughly as you test old, suspect drives? Has your testing followed the proverbial "bathtub" curve of a lot of early failures, but with those that survive the first month, surviving for years? And have you had any Return problems with new failed drives, because you re-partitioned it, or "ran Linux", or used stress-test apps?

Submission + - New Form of Quantum Computation Promises Showdown With Ordinary Computers (

sciencehabit writes: You've heard the hype a hundred times: Physicists hope to someday build a whiz-bang quantum computer that can solve problems that would overwhelm an ordinary computer. Now, four separate teams have taken a step toward achieving such "quantum speed-up" by demonstrating a simpler, more limited form of quantum computing that, if it can be improved, might soon give classical computers a run for their money.

Submission + - I don't Read Code Anymore - Linus Torvalds

An anonymous reader writes: There is a excellent interview over at the H with Linus Torvalds. Glyn Moody's second interview with Linus since 1998 is both informative and revealing. Linus response to his role as the kernel maintainer has this interesting tidbit: "Well, the big thing is I don't read code any more... when it comes to the major subsystem maintainers, I trust them because I've been working with them for 5, 10, 15 years, so I don't even look at the code." The interview goes on to talk about Amazon, Google, phones tablets and the cloud. Further on the topic of coding, the interview ends with Linus stating: "When I was twenty I liked doing device drivers. If I never have to do a single device driver in my life again, I will be happy. Some kind of headaches I can do without." Like all of us, Linus is getting older and taking a less hands on approach to the development of the kernel. Of course this is understandable. Even the great Git himself is a slave to the passage of time, but thankfully for us, his creation is not.

Submission + - THQ Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy (

seepho writes: Just weeks after releasing their Humble Bundle, THQ has filed for bankruptcy. According to the company's press release, there are currently no plans to close any studios or disband any development teams. Clearlake Capital Group has placed a $60M bid for THQ's assets and hopes to complete the acquisition in 30 days, assuming no further bids are placed.

Submission + - Coral Reefs Could Be Decimated by 2100 (

sciencehabit writes: Nearly every coral reef could be dying by 2100 if current carbon dioxide emission trends continue, according to a new review of major climate models from around the world. The only way to maintain the current chemical environment in which reefs now live, the study suggests, would be to deeply cut emissions as soon as possible. It may even become necessary to actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, say with massive tree-planting efforts or machines.
United Kingdom

Submission + - UK Government to relax laws on digital copying (

ChristianCooper writes: "BBC News reports today that making digital copies of "music, films and other copyrighted material for personal use" will be permitted under new legislation to be proposed by the UK Government. It would still not be permitted to pass these personal copies to friends or family, etc.

Since the Copyright, Designs and Patents act of 1988, the restriction on copying literary, musical, dramatic or artistic works was extended to "storing the work in any medium by electronic means" — this had the side effect of including activities such as ripping CDs onto portable music players, or transferring files between e-readers."


Submission + - What if reality was really just a 'Sims universe? ( 3

SternisheFan writes: Physicists propose experiment to test hypothesis that reality is just a computer simulation.

Originally published:
Dec 14 2012 — 5:00pm

Joel N. Shurkin, ISNS Contributor

(ISNS) — What if everything — all of us, the world, the universe — was not real? What if everything we are, know and do was really just someone's computer simulation?
The notion that our reality was some kid on a couch in the far future playing with a computer game like a gigantic Sim City, or Civilization, and we are his characters, isn't new. But a group of physicists now thinks they know of a way to test the concept. Three of them propose to test reality by simulating the simulators.

Martin Savage, professor of physics at the University of Washington, Zohreh Davoudi, one of his graduate students, and Silas Beane of the University of New Hampshire, would like to see whether they can find traces of simulation in cosmic rays. The work was uploaded in arXiv, an online archive for drafts of academic research papers.

The notion that reality is something other than we think it is goes far back in philosophy, including Plato and his Parable of the Cave, which claimed reality was merely shadows of real objects on a cave wall. Sixteenth-century philosopher-mathematician René Descartes thought he proved reality with his famous "I think, therefore, I am," which proposed that he was real and his thoughts had a reality.

Then, in 2003, a British philosopher, Nick Bostrom of the University of Oxford, published a paper that had the philosophy and computer science departments buzzing.

Bostrom suggested three possibilities: "The chances that a species at our current level of development can avoid going extinct before becoming technologically mature is negligibly small," "almost no technologically mature civilizations are interested in running computer simulations of minds like ours,” or we are "almost certainly" a simulation.

All three could be equally possible, he wrote, but if the first two are false, the third must be true. "There will be a


Submission + - AT&T Extols Telecom Monopoly In Groovy 1970 Video (

jfruh writes: "For many Slashdotters, the day in 1984 when the AT&T telecommunications monopoly was broken by court order is at best a hazy childhood memory, and they can't remember a time when the telephones in your house weren't your property. A Ma Bell propoganda video from 1970 was an early salvo in the fight to end that monopoly. With groovy, Sgt. Pepper-style graphics, AT&T explained why owning your own phone could damange phone service for everybody; why early experiments in competition were unfair (they were skimming off cheaper customers and leaving AT&T with the legal responsibility of connecting less profitable rural users); and why subsidizing high-quality phone service for everyone ought to be seen as a public good."

Submission + - Google Blames Nexus 4 Shortage on LG (

hugheseyau writes: "Google's Nexus 4 debut is an prime example of how not to launch a product. There's nothing wrong with the hardware, mind you, it's the lack of availability that's driving potential buyers batty. How could Google have so ineptly predicted the strong demand than an unlocked and affordable smartphone running the latest version of Android would elicit? That's a great question, and Google is content to partially pass the buck.

The root cause of the shortage falls on LG's shoulders. Dan Cobley, Google's managing director for the company's U.K. and Ireland divisions, fielded a bunch of questions and complaints on Google+ with an explanation of what's going on, followed by an apology."

Submission + - Swedish Pirate Party Presses Charges Against Banks For WikiLeaks Blockade (

davecb writes: "Rick Falkvinge reports today that the Swedish Pirate Party has laid charges against at least Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal before the Finansinspektionen , for refusing to pass on money owed to Wikileaks. The overseer of bank licenses notes (in translation) that "The law states, that if there aren’t legal grounds to deny a payment service, then it must be processed.”"

Submission + - Dell Executive Claims He Warned Microsoft About Windows RT ( 1

Nerval's Lobster writes: "As quoted in The Australian Financial Review, Dell vice-chairman Jeffrey Clarke told an audience at last week’s Dell World conference in Austin, Texas that he had warned Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer about the Windows RT name. The “Windows” brand name, Clarke apparently told the CEO, was should be limited to operating systems capable of running Windows legacy software. As Windows RT does not, he felt it should be given a different moniker. While it’s unusual for executives from a Microsoft hardware partner to so candidly speak their mind about Windows, it’s not the first time it’s happened in the context of Windows 8. In the months heading up to the operating system’s release, an Acer spokesperson told Bloomberg: “We think that Microsoft’s launch of its own-brand products is a negative for the whole PC industry.” Intel also had to push back against rumors that CEO Paul Otellini had criticized Windows 8 in a private meeting with employees."

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made. -- Jean Giraudoux