Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


+ - How Medical Tech Gave a Patient a Massive Overdose->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Pablo Garcia went to the hospital feeling fine. Then the hospital made him very sick. Through a series of technological mishaps, a prescription for one pill of a routine antibiotic became 38 pills, sending Garcia into a seizure. “Wait, look at this Septra dose,” the resident on duty said to Garcia's nurse at the time. “This is a huge dose. Oh my God, did you give this dose?” She had. But in this medical horror story, the real culprit was hospital technology."
Link to Original Source

+ - New study finds fracking does not contaminate drinking water

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "A new study, using data from more than 11,000 drinking water wells in northern Pennsylvania, has found no evidence that fracking causes contamination.

The new study of 11,309 drinking water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania concludes that background levels of methane in the water are unrelated to the location of hundreds of oil and gas wells that tap hydraulically fractured, or fracked, rock formations. The finding suggests that fracking operations are not significantly contributing to the leakage of methane from deep rock formations, where oil and gas are extracted, up to the shallower aquifers where well water is drawn.

The result also calls into question prominent studies in 2011 and 2013 that did find a correlation in a nearby part of Pennsylvania. There, wells closer to fracking sites had higher levels of methane. Those studies, however, were based on just 60 and 141 domestic well samples, respectively.

The article outlines in detail the many disagreements and uncertainties of both the old studies and this new one. It also however contains this one key quote about the earlier studies, buried in the text, that illustrates the politics influencing the reporting of the anti-fracking research:

The two papers seemed to show that fracking was leading to increased concentrations of methane in drinking water. Dissolved methane is not toxic, and drinking water often contains significant background levels of the gas from natural sources.

Earlier studies were top media stories. They were used to show the harm fracking does, and were the justification for the banning of fracking in New York. Yet, the methane they found was not necessarily caused by fracking, and isn’t even a health concern anyway.

Will the press give this new report as much coverage? It might not be right, but it sure does indicate that the science is unsettled, and that the risks from fracking are overblown."

+ - Robobug: Scientists Clad Bacterium With Graphene to Make a Working Cytobot->

Submitted by Zothecula
Zothecula (1870348) writes "By cladding a living cell with graphene quantum dots, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) claim to have created a nanoscale biomicrorobot (or cytobot) that responds electrically to changes in its environment. This work promises to lay the foundations for future generations of bio-derived nanobots, biomicrorobotic-mechanisms, and micromechanical actuation for a wide range of applications."
Link to Original Source

+ - New compound quickly disables chemical weapons->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In 2013, the Syrian military allegedly launched sarin gas rockets into a rebel-held town, killing hundreds. After diplomats brokered a deal to eradicate the weapons, international organizations began the dangerous job of destroying them. One roadblock to chemical weapons disposal is that heat and humidity quickly break down enzymes that can disable the deadly chemicals. Now, researchers have developed a highly stable compound that can inactivate nerve agents like sarin in a matter of minutes."
Link to Original Source

+ - "Hello Barbie" Listens To Children Via Cloud

Submitted by jones_supa
jones_supa (887896) writes "For a long time we have had toys that talk back to their owners, but a new "smart" Barbie doll's eavesdropping and data-gathering functions have privacy advocates crying foul. Toymaker Mattel bills Hello Barbie as the world's first "interactive doll" due to its ability to record children's playtime conversations and respond to them, once the audio is transmitted over WiFi to a cloud server. In a demo video, a Mattel presenter at the 2015 Toy Fair in New York says the new doll fulfills the top request that Mattel receives from girls: to have a two-way dialogue. "They want to have a conversation with Barbie," she said, adding that the new toy will be "the very first fashion doll that has continuous learning, so that she can have a unique relationship with each girl." Susan Linn, the executive director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, has written a statement in which she says how the product is seriously creepy and creates a host of dangers for children and families. She asks people to join her in a petition under the proposal of Mattel discontinuing the toy."

+ - Top-secret U.S. replica of Iran nuclear sites key to weapons deal->

Submitted by Lasrick
Lasrick (2629253) writes "Paul Richter at the LA Times has a very cool article describing replicas of Iran's nuclear facilities that the US operates in order to study what Iran's technical capabilities are. 'Using centrifuges acquired when Libya abandoned its nuclear program in 2003, as well as American-built equipment, the government has spent millions of dollars over more than a decade to build replicas of the enrichment facilities that are the pride of Iran's nuclear program.' Fascinating stuff."
Link to Original Source

+ - Researchers may have solved origin-of-life conundrum->

Submitted by sciencehabit
sciencehabit (1205606) writes "The origin of life on Earth is a set of paradoxes. In order for life to have gotten started, there must have been a genetic molecule—something like DNA or RNA—capable of passing along blueprints for making proteins, the workhorse molecules of life. But modern cells can’t copy DNA and RNA without the help of proteins themselves. To make matters more vexing, none of these molecules can do their jobs without fatty lipids, which provide the membranes that cells need to hold their contents inside. And in yet another chicken-and-egg complication, protein-based enzymes (encoded by genetic molecules) are needed to synthesize lipids.

Now, researchers say they may have solved these paradoxes. Chemists report today that a pair of simple compounds, which would have been abundant on early Earth, can give rise to a network of simple reactions that produce the three major classes of biomolecules—nucleic acids, amino acids, and lipids—needed for the earliest form of life to get its start. Although the new work does not prove that this is how life started, it may eventually help explain one of the deepest mysteries in modern science."

Link to Original Source

+ - Graphene breakthrough promises 'million-fold improvement' in hard drive capacity->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "New techniques have been developed by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory [http://www.nrl.navy.mil/media/news-releases/2015/nrl-researchers-pattern-magnetic-graphine] which, it claims, promise 'a roughly greater than million-fold improvement over current hard drives' by magnetizing graphene. Graphene exhibits magnetic properties only via defects in production or the binding of chemical groups, but the NRL have found a 'robust' technique of reliably magnetizing the material by immersing it for a minute in cryogenic ammonia and lithium. The additional hydrogen atoms magnetize the graphene, and data can be written to it by using an electron beam to selectively remove hydrogen atoms. NRL researcher Dr. Woo-Kyung Lee says: "Since massive patterning with commercial electron beam lithography system is possible, we believe that our technique can be readily applicable for current microelectronics fabrication,""
Link to Original Source

+ - Humanitarian Drones: Finding Unexploded Bombs from Past Wars->

Submitted by the_newsbeagle
the_newsbeagle (2532562) writes "During the Vietnam War the country of Laos was pounded by 2 million tons of bombs, including a vast number of cluster bombs that scattered smaller bomblets across the landscape. Many of those failed to explode on impact and lodged in the ground, creating a deadly legacy of war that remains to this day. To help surveyors locate and remove these unexploded bombs, a drone company plans to fly its octocopters over the Laotian countryside. The drones will scan the land with a laser imaging system to make precise topographical maps, allowing surveyors to identify old trenches, bunkers, and other features that were likely targeted in bombing campaigns."
Link to Original Source

+ - Kim Stanley Robinson Says Colonizing Mars Won't Be As Easy As He Thought-> 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy filled us all with hope that we could terraform Mars in the 21st century, with its plausible description of terraforming processes. But now, in the face of what we've learned about Mars in the past 20 years, he no longer thinks it'll be that easy.

Talking to SETI's Blog Picture Science podcast, Robinson explains that his ideas about terraforming Mars, back in the 1990s, were based on three assumptions that have been called into question or disproved:

1) Mars doesn't have any life on it at all. And now, it's looking more likely that there could be bacteria living beneath the surface. "That's going to be very hard to disprove," says Robinson. "We could be intruding on alien life."

2) There would be enough of the chemical compounds we need to survive. In particular, we need a lot of nitrogen â" and scientists had expected there to be a lot, based on the ordinary distribution of elements in planetary accretion. But there's much less nitrogen on Mars than we'd hoped.

3) There's nothing poisonous to us on the surface. In fact, the surface is covered with perchlorates, which are highly toxic to humans, and the original Viking mission did not detect these. We could use bacteria to dispose of them, but it would be a very long-term process.

"It's no longer a simple matter," Robinson says. "It's possible that we could occupy, inhabit and terraform Mars. But it's probably going to take a lot longer than I described in my books."

Instead, Robinson says that Mars can't serve as a "backup planet," and that we need to fix our problems here on Earth if we're to have any hope of surviving for the timescales needed to set up an eventual colony there."

Link to Original Source

+ - In Historic Turn, CO2 Emissions Flatline in 2014, Even as Global Economy Grows->

Submitted by mdsolar
mdsolar (1045926) writes "A key stumbling block in the effort to combat global warming has been the intimate link between greenhouse gas emissions and economic growth. When times are good and industries are thriving, global energy use traditionally increases and energy-related carbon dioxide emissions also go up. Only when economies stumble and businesses shutter — as during the most recent financial crisis — does energy use typically decline, in turn bringing down planet-warming emissions.

But for the first time in nearly half a century, that synchrony between economic growth and energy-related emissions seems to have been broken, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency, prompting its chief economist to wonder if an important new pivot point has been reached — one that decouples economic vigor and carbon pollution.

The IEA pegged carbon dioxide emissions for 2014 at 32.3 billion metric tons — essentially the same volume as 2013, even as the global economy grew at a rate of about 3 percent.

“This gives me even more hope that humankind will be able to work together to combat climate change, the most important threat facing us today,” the IEA’s lead economist, Fatih Birol, said in a statement accompanying the findings.

Whether the disconnect is a mere fluke or a true harbinger of a paradigm shift is impossible to know. The IEA suggested that decreasing use of coal in China — and upticks in renewable electricity generation there using solar, wind and hydropower — could have contributed to the reversal. The agency also cited the ongoing deployment of energy-efficiency and renewable power policies in Europe, the U.S. and other developed economies as additional factors."

Link to Original Source

+ - Lockheed Martin spacecraft targets space station, moon missions->

Submitted by coondoggie
coondoggie (973519) writes "Lockheed Martin is certainly no stranger to spacecraft and it is now using that expertise to offer up a new ship capable of resupplying the International Space Station and other missions. The company this week rolled out a three-part space system: a reusable space servicing vehicle called Jupiter; a large, versatile cargo container named the Exoliner; and a robotic arm."
Link to Original Source

+ - Behind the White House's claim of 545,000 unfilled IT jobs->

Submitted by walterbyrd
walterbyrd (182728) writes "The data comes from Burning Glass Technologies, which analyzes help-wanted ads.

This means that the administration's 545,000 unfilled IT jobs figure is based on the Burning Glass analysis. It arrived at this by counting the number of jobs over a 90-day period leading up to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Jan. 20, according to Dan Restuccia, chief analytics officer at Burning Glass.

Burning Glass's approach draws concerns from Hal Salzman, a professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University, who studies the science and engineering workforce. "They claim they deduplicate, but they don't publish their methodology; there is no external verification," he said."

Link to Original Source

+ - Silk-Derived Material Could Boost Battery Performance->

Submitted by Zothecula
Zothecula (1870348) writes "Next-generation lithium-ion batteries may hold more charge for a greater number of cycles thanks to a new material derived from natural silk. Scientists at the Beijing Institute of Technology found that not only does their regenerated silk fibroin material work for over 10,000 cycles but it also stores five times more lithium than graphite, which is the most common choice for the anode (negative electrode) in lithium-ion batteries."
Link to Original Source

Nobody's gonna believe that computers are intelligent until they start coming in late and lying about it.