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Science

Songbird Fossil Virus May Help Predict Pandemics 42

Posted by samzenpus
from the oldest-medicine dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers announced they found a fossil virus hiding in the most unexpected place: the chromosomes of several songbird species. This ancient virus resembles human hepatitis B virus. Finding this ancient virus will catalyze new lines of inquiry that may help scientists predict and prevent future human viral pandemics that originate in birds."
Image

Lego 'CubeDudes' By PIXAR Animator 34

Posted by samzenpus
from the toy-art dept.
An anonymous reader writes "PIXAR Animator Angus MacLane has created an incredible series of LEGO 'CubeDudes' modeled after beloved characters from sci-fi movies and comic books. From Star Wars heroes R2D2 and C-3PO to Toy Story's Buzz Lightyear and Jessie, the pixellated creations bear a remarkable likeness to their forebears. MacLane says, 'When I had a moment here and there I chip away at a few at a time. I'll have the body of one Dude and a head of another that I will be working on at the same time. It takes me about 10-15 minutes to make one CubeDude and I average about two a day.' The hardest part is the color palette — LEGO doesn't make purple bricks, so villains like Lex Luthor, The Joker, and Grimace are a challenge."
NASA

The Sun Unleashes Coronal Mass Ejection At Earth 220

Posted by Soulskill
from the return-fire dept.
astroengine writes "Yesterday morning, at 08:55 UT, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory detected a C3-class flare erupt inside a sunspot cluster. 100,000 kilometers away, deep within the solar atmosphere (the corona), an extended magnetic field filled with cool plasma forming a dark ribbon across the face of the sun (a feature known as a 'filament') erupted at the exact same time. It seems very likely that both eruptions were connected after a powerful shock wave produced by the flare destabilized the filament, causing the eruption. A second solar observatory, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, then spotted a huge coronal mass ejection blast into space, straight in the direction of Earth. Solar physicists have calculated that this magnetic bubble filled with energetic particles should hit Earth on August 3, so look out for some intense aurorae — a solar storm is coming."
Biotech

How a Key Enzyme Repairs Sun-Damaged DNA 97

Posted by kdawson
from the one-proton-and-one-electron dept.
BraveHeart writes "Researchers have long known that mammals, including humans, lack a key enzyme — one possessed by most of the animal kingdom and even plants — that reverses severe sun damage. For the first time, researchers have witnessed how this enzyme works at the atomic level to repair sun-damaged DNA. 'Normal sunscreen lotions convert UV light to heat, or reflect it away from our skin. A sunscreen containing photolyase could potentially heal some of the damage from UV rays that get through.'"
Image

Southwest Adds 'Mechanical Difficulties' To Act Of God List 223

Posted by samzenpus
from the blameless-travel dept.
War, earthquakes, and broken washers are all unavoidable events for which a carrier should not be liable if travel is delayed according to Southwest Airlines. Southwest quietly updated their act of God list a few weeks ago to include mechanical problems with the other horrors of an angry travel god. From the article: "Robert Mann, an airline industry analyst based in Port Washington, NY, called it 'surprising' that Southwest, which has a reputation for stellar customer service, would make a change that puts passengers at a legal disadvantage if an aircraft breakdown delays their travel. Keeping a fleet mechanically sound 'is certainly within the control of any airline,' Mann said. 'Putting mechanical issues in the same category as an act of God — I don't think that's what God intended.'"
Biotech

First Halophile Potatoes Harvested 117

Posted by timothy
from the integrated-dill-is-the-next-step dept.
Razgorov Prikazka writes "A Dutch-based company from Groningen is trying to create a potato race that is able to survive in a saline environment. The first test-batch was just harvested (English translation of Dutch original) on the island Texel and seem to be in good shape. The company states that rising sea-levels will create a demand for halophile crops. I do wonder if one still has to put salt on ones potatoes when they are grown in salt water."
Music

Don't Stop File-Sharing, Says Former Pink Floyd Manager 243

Posted by timothy
from the leave-those-kids-alone dept.
Barence writes "The former manager of Pink Floyd has labelled attempts to clamp down on music file-sharing as a 'waste of time.' 'Not only are they a waste of time, they make the law offensive. They are comparable to prohibition in the US in the 1920s,' said Peter Jenner, who's now the emeritus president of the International Music Managers' Forum. 'It's absurd to expect ordinary members of the public to think about what they're allowed to do [with CDs, digital downloads, etc]... and then ask themselves whether it's legal or not.' The comments come as Britain's biggest ISP, BT, said it was confident that Britain's Digital Economy Act — which could result in file-sharers losing their internet connection — would be overturned in the courts, because it doesn't comply with European laws on privacy."
Earth

New Batfish Species Found Under Gulf Oil Spill 226

Posted by timothy
from the had-to-flush-'em-out-somehow dept.
eDarwin writes "Researchers have discovered two previously unknown species of bottom-dwelling fish in the Gulf of Mexico, living right in the area affected by the BP oil spill. Researchers identified new species of pancake batfishes, a flat fish rarely seen because of the dark depths they favor. They are named for the clumsy way they 'walk' along the sea bottom, like a bat crawling."
Power

Company Builds Fast Charging Station For Electric Cars 359

Posted by samzenpus
from the fast-as-lightning dept.
thecarchik writes "Japanese based JFE Engineering has released its ultra-fast charge station. Designed to comply with the CHAdeMo standard developed by Tokyo Electric Power Company, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Toyota, the system is capable of charging a 2011 Mitsubishi i-Miev from empty to 50% full in just three minutes. Even just three minutes plugged into the fast-charge station was enough to enable a standard 2011 Mitsubishi i-Miev to travel a further 50 miles before further charging was required."
Earth

Oil-Spotting Blimp Arrives In the Gulf 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the lazy-eye-in-the-sky dept.
GAMP writes "A Navy blimp to assist oil skimming operations will be arriving to the Gulf Coast Wednesday evening, according to the Unified Command Joint Information Center. 'The airship will operate relatively close to shore, primarily supporting skimmers to maximize their effectiveness,' said US Coast Guard Capt. Kevin Sareault."
Robotics

Willow Garage Robot Fetches Beer, Engineers Rejoice 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the the-perfect-robot dept.
kkleiner writes "Willow Garage has pulled off the ultimate engineering feat: teaching a PR2 robot to fetch you a beer from the fridge. Not only can the PR2 select the correct brew from the fridge, it can deliver, and even open the beer as needed. That's right, all the humans have to do is drink and relax. Prepare yourself for some major robot-envy as you check out the PR2 delivering much-needed refreshment in the video."
Security

A Flood of Stable Linux Kernels Released 105

Posted by timothy
from the five-is-better-than-one dept.
Julie188 writes "Greg Kroah-Hartman has released five new stable Linux kernels, correcting minor errors of their predecessors and including improvements which are unlikely to generate new errors. As so often with kernel versions in the stable series, it remains undisclosed if the new versions contain changes which fix security vulnerabilities, although the number of changes and some of the descriptions of those changes certainly suggest that all the new versions contain security fixes."
Government

Survey Says To UK — Repeal Laws of Thermodynamics 208

Posted by kdawson
from the einstein-is-next-up-against-the-wall dept.
mostxlnt writes "As we noted, the new Tory UK government has launched a website asking its subjects which laws they'd most like repealed. There are proposals up for repeal of the Laws of Thermodynamics: Second, Third, and all (discussion thread on this one closed by a moderator). One comment on the Third [now apparently deleted] elucidated: 'Without the Third Law of Thermodynamics, it would be possible to build machines that would last forever and provide an endless source of cheap energy. thus solving both potential crises in energy supply as well as solving the greenhouse gas problem in one step... simples... eh?'"

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