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Comment: Curb your enthusiasm (Score 1) 110

by pesho (#49342357) Attached to: The One Thousand Genes You Could Live Without
First of all, this is an amazing study. How surprising is that we can live without certain genes? Not that surprising. We have done numerous experiments where we have knocked out genes in mice and other organisms and they do just fine. There is no reason why it should be any different in humans. Keep in mind that these variations in the sequence are predicted to disable the gene, but not verified to do so. For example variants that introduce stop codons in the middle of a gene are typically predicted to disable the gene. However this is not always the case. Sometimes the piece of the gene that has the stop codon gets spliced out and the gene can still produce a functional albeit shorter protein. What is needed now is some experimental evidence showing what fraction of these genes are fully disabled.

+ - Leaked Document Reveals Upcoming Biometric Experiments at US Customs->

Submitted by sarahnaomi
sarahnaomi (3948215) writes "The facial recognition pilot program launched last week by US Customs and Border Protection, which civil liberties advocates say could lead to new potentially privacy-invading programs, is just the first of three biometric experiments that the feds are getting ready to launch.

The three experiments involve new controversial technologies like iris and face scanner kiosks, which CBP plans to deploy at the Mexican border, and facial recognition software, according to a leaked document obtained by Motherboard.

All three pilots are part of a broader Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program to modernize screenings at American entry and exit ports, including at the highly politicized Mexican border, with the aid of new biometric technologies. The program is known as Apex Air Entry and Exit Re-Engineering (AEER) Project, according to the leaked slides.

These pilot programs have the goal of “identifying and implementing” biometric technologies that can be used at American borders to improve the immigration system as well as US national security, according to the slides."

Link to Original Source

+ - Canada to adopt pick-and-pay TV service->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The CRTC will allow subscribers to purchase a basic $25 a month cable TV or satellite package and have pick-and-pay options after that.

The regulator released a decision Thursday afternoon that paves the way for the so-called "skinny basic" option."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Lots of weird crap coming out of Congress latel (Score 3, Informative) 517

by pesho (#49186095) Attached to: White House Threatens Veto Over EPA "Secret Science" Bills
How about you read the entire article and not quote selectively. One major issue is the raw data from clinical studies. In these studies the data identifying the patients is protected to preserve the privacy. The reason for this is that publishing data that identifies the subjects of the study will deter participation, particularly from people with severe conditions. This will ultimately bias the results and will make the studies irrelevant. There is also the existing legislation protecting the patient privacy which prohibits publishing personally identifiable information without explicit consent from the patients. The law that is being proposed will make it impossible to use epidemiological data from medical records. It is pretty obvious that the goal of this legislature is not to enforce "common sense". The goal is to make EPA powerless by preventing it from backing its decisions with real data. The most telling part is that the legislature will quote: "bar academic scientists on the panels from talking about matters related to research they’re doing." WTF? How is EPA supposed to make decisions? By ignoring the advice of scientist who work on the matter and taking advice from people who are completely clueless?

Comment: Re:Use TaxAct instead (Score 3, Informative) 450

by pesho (#48800117) Attached to: Intuit Charges More For Previously Offered TurboTax Features, Users Livid
I switched to them couple of years back when Intuit decided that it will not allow web browsers running linux to the online version of TurboTax. Beats me why they did it. It worked perfectly the previous years. Anyway, TaxAct is cheaper and does the job just as well.

Comment: Re:Training... (Score 5, Informative) 84

by pesho (#48760135) Attached to: Microbe Found In Grassy Field Contains Powerful Antibiotic

If we keep taking natural antibiotics from nature, mass manufacture them, won't we just train the world's bacterial populations to be immune to practically anything we can throw at them?

You are making a very good point. Currently antibiotic resistance is a serious problem, mostly because we are very slow in discovering new antibiotics. What is very exciting about this research is that it significantly shifts the odds in our favor by allowing very large scale screens for new antibiotics. It will allow us to outpace the rate of resistance development. The probability that a particular infection will be resistant to multiple different antibiotics drops exponentially with the number of antibiotics you have. If you have a tool chest of 5-6 antibiotics sooner or later you will have pathogens that are resistant to a significant proportion of these antibiotics. Make the tool chest 10 times larger, and you will have a lot less to worry about.

Comment: Re:The hard part is yet to come (Score 5, Informative) 84

by pesho (#48760021) Attached to: Microbe Found In Grassy Field Contains Powerful Antibiotic

You didn't read the paywalled article, did you?

The antibiotic blocks the bacterial cell wall synthesis. Animals don't have this particular cellular component, so the drug is essentially inactive against humans. This was shown by doing tests on mice. There is the possibility that the drug may elicit allergic response in humans (penicillin often does), but this will be tested in clinical trials.

The more exciting part of the work that did not get any mention in the summaries is how they found the antibiotic. They developed an approach to grow on a large scale microorganisms that were previously impossible to culture in lab conditions. They capture the microorganisms on a chip and then put the chip back into the environment from which the samples was isolated. This means that they did not need to guess what kind of nutrients each microorganism will need (they tested ~10,000 different microbes). The approach allowed them to grow 50 fold more microorganisms compared to what was possible using the current state of the art. To me this is the big news, because antibiotic discovery has been limited by our ability to grow microorganisms in the lab.

Comment: Are getting ready to bomb them? (Score 2) 182

by pesho (#48624917) Attached to: US Links North Korea To Sony Hacking
Ah, the unsubstantiated assertions ... The pile of bad links to unrelated hacks by Iran, Russia and China ... Where have I seen that before? Wasn't that a part of preparing the public opinion to some other war? BTW, why isn't the fact that Sony's IT security was simply laughable not front page in NYT? They even have their CIO talking obvious nonsense on in an interview titled Your guide to good enough compliance. And we are not talking any sophisticated stuff here. Just basic things like changing you password and not keeping a file titled "passwords" on your hard rive.

Comment: Re:"Generalized Life" (Score 1) 221

Generalization on the very basic level has also been applied to the definition of life. In my opinion one of the best definitions of life boils down to defining life as a dynamic system which increases and maintains its order in expense of increasing the entropy of its surroundings. Needless to say this definition was put forward by physicists (Bolzman, Schrodinger). Biologist would probably like to add ability to reproduce and evolve, but I don't think this is fair. A mule is a life form, right?

"Text processing has made it possible to right-justify any idea, even one which cannot be justified on any other grounds." -- J. Finnegan, USC.