Ponca City, We Love You writes "Nature reports that volcanic eruptions from the Deccan Flood Basalts in India that released huge amounts of sulphur dioxide gas to the atmosphere may have had more to do with wiping out dinosaurs 65 million years ago than the meteorite strike at Chicxulub on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. Marine sediments reveal that Chicxulub hit Earth 300,000 years before the mass extinction while the Deccan volcanism released vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere over a period of more than a million years raising worldwide temperatures. "On land it must have been 7-8 degrees warmer," says Princeton University paleontologist Gerta Keller. "The Chicxulub impact alone could not have caused the mass extinction, because this impact predates the mass extinction.""
Ponca City, We Love You writes "Nature reports that two companies have announced plans to commercialize individual human genomes by genotyping millions of regions in customers' genomes, called single nucleotide polymorphisms or SNPs, which have been linked to a handful of diseases and nonmedical traits and sell that information back to the customer. Navigenics will focus on medical conditions and estimate composite risk factors for diseases based on each customer's SNPs. 23andMe plans to introduce a social networking component by allowing customers to link their data with others, such as family members. Once customers have their DNA read and the information stored, they will be notified when medical and theoretical advances relevant to them are achieved. One of 23andMe's founders, Anne Wojcicki, is married to Google founder Sergey Brin and Google has invested $3.9 million for a minority stake in her company raising concerns about the privacy of the genetic data. Google is developing its own suite of health tools to allow users to personalize and share health information, and many speculate that 23andMe will feed its data to Google."
Ponca City, We Love You writes "Bite a hot pepper, and after the burn your tongue goes numb. The Baltimore Sun reports that Capsaicin, the chemical that gives chili peppers their fire, is being dripped directly into open wounds during highly painful operations bathing surgically exposed nerves in a high enough dose to numb them for weeks so that patients suffer less pain and require fewer narcotic painkillers as they heal. "We wanted to exploit this numbness," says Dr. Eske Aasvang, a pain specialist who is testing the substance. Capsaicin works by binding to C fibers called TRPV1, the nerve endings responsible for long-lasting aching and throbbing pain. Experiments are under way involving several hundred patients undergoing various surgeries, including knee and hip replacements using an ultra-purified version of Capsaicin to avoid infection. Volunteers are under anesthesia so they don't scream at the initial burn."
Ponca City, We Love You writes "The New Scientist reports that palaeontologists have excavated a fossil trackway in Shandong Province in China 100 to 120 million years old that contains footprints left by six Dromeosaurs, the more formal name for raptors, showing evidence of group behavior. Up until now, the popular stereotype from Jurassic Park of raptors hunting in packs has had no fossil evidence to back it up. The paths of the six 90 kilo raptors do not overlap where the animals walked alongside a river or stream. "The odds of these tracks being made by different individuals that just happen to be moving in the same direction, without their tracks stepping on one another, are small," said Jerry D. Harris, director of paleontology at Dixie State College. "Groups that do that usually have relatively sophisticated behavior, and they're relatively intelligent," Harris added. "By moving together in groups, it's entirely possible that they hunted in groups.""
Ponca City, We Love You writes "Up until now, the popular stereotype from Jurassic Park of raptors roaming in hunting packs has had no direct fossil evidence to back it up. The New Scientist reports that the first evidence that Dromeosaurs, the more formal name for raptors, were cunning and deadly predators that exhibited group behavior comes from Shandong Province in China where palaeontologists have excavated a fossil trackway 100 to 120 million years old that contains footprints left by six Dromaeopodus shandongensis. The paths of the six raptors do not overlap where the animals walked alongside a river or stream. "The odds of these tracks being made by different individuals that just happen to be moving in the same direction, without their tracks stepping on one another, are small," said Jerry D. Harris, director of paleontology at Dixie State College. "Groups that do that usually have relatively sophisticated behavior, and they're relatively intelligent," Harris added. "By moving together in groups, it's entirely possible that they hunted in groups.""
Ponca City, We Love You writes "October saw the launch of Veropedia, a collaborative effort to collect the best of Wikipedia's content, clean it up, vet it, and save it in a quality stable version that cannot be edited. To qualify for inclusion in Veropedia, a Wikipedia article must contain no cleanup tags, no "citation needed" tags, no disambiguation links, no dead external links, and no fair use images after which candidates for inclusion are reviewed by recognized academics and experts. One big difference with Wikipedia is that Veropedia is registered as a for profit corporation and earns money from advertising on the site. Veropedia is supposed to help improve the quality of Wikipedia because contributors must improve an article on Wikipedia, fixing up all the flaws, until a quality version can be imported to Veropedia. To date Veropedia contains about 3,800 articles."
Ponca City, We Love You writes "The New York Times reports that Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, has studied Apple's financial statement and come to the conclusion that AT&T appears to be paying Apple $18 a month, on average, for each iPhone activated on its network or up to $432 over a two year contract. This shows how much incentive Apple has to maintain its exclusive deal with AT&T rather than to sell unlocked phones or cut deals with multiple carriers. Last week Apple disclosed that 250,000 iPhones had been purchased but not registered with ATT that Apple thinks are being unlocked so Apple has now taken action to curb unauthorized resellers by limiting sales of the iPhone to two per customer and requiring that purchases must now be made with a credit or debit card — cash will not be accepted. The original story on what was happening to the unlocked phones was discussed on Slashdot."
Ponca City, We Love You writes "Last week Slashdot readers discussed the 250,000 iPhones that had been purchased but not registered with ATT that Apple thinks are being unlocked and in many cases sold overseas. The New York Times now reports that Apple has now taken action to curb unauthorized resellers by limiting sales of the iPhone to two per customer. In addition, iPhone purchases must now be made with a credit or debit card — cash will not be accepted."
Hugh Pickens writes "Even low levels of lead can cause brain damage increasing the likelihood of behavioral and cognitive traits such as impulsivity, aggressivity, and low IQ that are strongly linked with criminal behavior. The New York Times has a story on how the phase out of leaded gasoline starting with the Clean Air Act in 1973 may have led to a 56% drop in violent crime in the United States in the 1990s. Amherst Economics Professor Jessica Wolpaw Reyes discovered the connection and wrote a paper comparing the reduction of lead from gasoline between states (pdf file) and the reduction of violent crime by constructing a panel of state-year observations linking crime rates in every state to childhood lead exposure in that state 20 or 30 years earlier. If lead poisoning is a factor in the development of criminal behavior, then countries that didn't switch to unleaded fuel until the 1980s, like Britain and Australia, should soon see a dip in crime as the last lead-damaged children outgrow their most violent years."
Hugh Pickens writes "Timothy D. Cook, Chief Operating Officer at Apple, disclosed during Apple's conference call to discuss their fourth quarter earnings that they estimate that 250,000 of the 1.4 Million iPhones that have been sold were bought by people intending to unlock the phone.
[The elasticity in demand with the price drop] enabled us to far surpass our expectation of hitting around a million units cumulatively by the end of the quarter. Some number of these were sold to people that have an intention to unlock and [while] we don't know precisely how many people are doing that, our current guess is there is probably 250,000 of the 1.4 million that we sold where people had bought them with the intention of doing that. Many of those happened after the price cut.Apple knows how many iPhones have been sold and how many have been activated with ATT. The difference is the number that are unlocked."
Hugh Pickens writes "Scientists have long known that even low levels of lead can cause brain damage increasing the likelihood of behavioral and cognitive traits such as impulsivity, aggressivity, and low IQ that are strongly associated with criminal behavior. The New York Times has a story on how the phase out of leaded gasoline starting with the Clean Air Act in 1973 may have led to a 56% drop in violent crime in the United States in the 1990s. Amherst Economics Professor Jessica Wolpaw Reyes discovered the connection and wrote a paper comparing the reduction of lead from gasoline between states (pdf file) and the reduction of violent crime by constructing a panel of state-year observations linking crime rates in every state to childhood lead exposure in that state 20 or 30 years earlier. The theory will be put to the test as children grow up in Indonesia, Venezuela and sub-Saharan Africa, where leaded gasoline has just recently been phased out. Meanwhile, the list of countries that still use lead in gas — Afghanistan, Serbia and Iraq, as well as much of North Africa and Central Asia — does not rule out a connection with violence."
Hugh Pickens writes "University of Virginia psychology professor Shigehiro Oishi has just completed a study on how people from East Asia and the United States respond to daily events in life and found that Koreans, Japanese, and Asian-Americans, are less happy in general, but recover their emotional equilibrium more readily after a setback than European-Americans. Oishi and his colleagues had more than 350 college students in Japan, Korea and the United States record their general state of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with life over a three-week period , as well as the number of positive and negative events they had during the course of each day. "We found that the more positive events a person has, the more they feel the effects of a negative event," Oishi said. "People seem to dwell on the negative thing when they have a large number of good events in their life." The researchers found that the European-Americans needed nearly two positive events (such as getting complimented or getting an A) to return to their normal level of happiness after each negative event, such as getting a parking ticket or a lower grade than expected. The Koreans, Japanese and Asian-Americans generally needed only one positive event to make up for each negative event. Oishi's research also provides a window into why very few people are very happy most of the time. Getting to "very happy" is like climbing an ever steeper mountain. Additional effort — positive events — doesn't gain you much by way of altitude. Slipping backward, on the other hand, is very easy. Oishi's advice: "Don't try to be happier.""
Hugh Pickens writes "The University of Saskatchewan's has the first place climb in the Second Annual Space Elevator Games being held this weekend at the Davis County Event Center in Salt Lake City with teams competing for $1,000,000 in NASA prize money. Although the idea of a space elevator has been around for decades, the space technologies needed to support it have yet to be created so the non-profit Spaceward Foundation has hosted an annual competition since 2005, supported by a cash prize from NASA, to build a super-strong tether similar to what would be needed to support a real elevator, or get a robot to climb a suspended ribbon. In the robot climber competition, teams have to get their device to hurtle up a 100-metre-long ribbon, suspended from a crane, at an average speed of two metres per second. The climber must be powered from the ground: strategies include reflecting sunlight from huge mirrors on the ground to solar panels on the climber; shining lasers from the ground up to similar panels on the robot; or firing microwaves up at the climber. Qualifying rounds have been taking place all week, and although high winds and rain have caused delays, four out of eight teams have made it into the finals. There are no outdoor climbs today because of bad weather but that some of the tether competitions will happen indoors later this afternoon."
Hugh Pickens writes "After the Genesis mission spent 27 months in space gathering tiny samples from different types of solar wind, Hollywood stunt pilots swooped in with a helicopter to catch the falling capsule when it returned to earth. Unfortunately the spacecraft's parachute did not open, and the spacecraft ploughed a hole into the desert. Now scientists are starting to recover data from the salvageable pieces of Genesis. Nature Magazine reports that an analysis of isotopes of neon and argon shows that the elements of main interest to the researchers have the same isotopic signature in the solar wind as in the Sun itself. Because dirt contains relatively little neon and argon, the current Science study wasn't affected too much by contamination and the the team remains hopeful that they will be able to get results on oxygen and nitrogen isotopes from the mission."
Hugh Pickens writes "Time lag can cause some very strange behavior in massively multiplayer online games when players' actions onscreen become slow and jerky. New techniques are on the way to reduce the problem of lag time in MMOGs when a player's computer can't keep up with changes in a shared online world. Games like Quake use a technique called dead reckoning and while traditional dead-reckoning systems that assume that a game character will maintain the velocity and direction that it has at the moment an update is sent to all other participating computers; dead reckoning works best for movement and shooting and less well for erratic actions such as interacting with objects or with other players. Read the abstract of new technique called "neuro-reckoning" that may improve the predictive process by installing a neural network in each player's computer to predict fast, jerky actions."