Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Deal of the Day - Pay What You Want for the Learn to Code Bundle, includes AngularJS, Python, HTML5, Ruby, and more. ×

Rethinking Rail Travel: Boarding a Moving Train 357

PolygamousRanchKid tips this article about an idea for revolutionizing the rail system in the long-term: "The idea is to have a city-wide network of trams that travel in a loop and connect with a high-speed rail service. But instead of passengers having to get off the tram at a rail station and wait for the next HSR service to arrive, the moving tram would 'dock' with a moving train, allowing passengers to cross between tram and train without either vehicle ever stopping. 'The trams speed up and the high-speed train slows down and they join, so they dock at high speed,' explains Priestman. 'They stay docked for the same amount of time that it would stop at a station,' he adds. While Priestman admits that it will be some time before his vision could be implemented, he says the time has come to rethink how we travel. 'This idea is a far-future thought but wouldn't it be brilliant to just re-evaluate and just re-think the whole process?' he says."

Stopping Spam Before It Hits the Mail Server 157

Al writes "A team of researchers at the Georgia Institute for Technology say they have developed a way to catch spam before it even arrives on the mail server. Instead of bothering to analyze the contents of a spam message, their software, called SNARE (Spatio-temporal Network-level Automatic Reputation Engine), examines key aspects of individual packets of data to determine whether it might be spam. The team, led by assistant professor Nick Feamster, analyzed 2.5 million emails collected by McAfee in order to determine the key packet characteristics of spam. These include the geodesic proximity of end mail servers and the number of ports open on the sending machine. The approach catches spam 70 percent of the time, with a 0.3 false positive rate. Of course, revealing these characteristics could also allow spammers to fake their packets to avoid filtering."

Researchers Enable Mice To Exhale Fat 328

destinyland writes "UCLA researchers made a startling discovery: genetic alterations enable mice to convert fat into carbon dioxide. Mammals digest fats differently than bacteria — so researchers introduced bacteria genes into mouse livers, and 'the excess fat was literally released into thin air.' (One researcher calls it 'an unconventional idea which we borrowed from plants and bacteria.') The research potentially could help treat serious medical conditions including diabetes, heart disease — and of course, obesity."

Australia, UK To Test Vehicle Speed-Limiting Devices 859

nemesisrocks writes "The New South Wales government is set to begin testing a device that will limit the speed of drivers because 'excessive speed is one of the primary ways that people are killed while driving.' Located on the dashboard, it senses a driver's speed with the use of GPS. If the speed of a car goes over the posted legal limit, a warning sounds. If the driver ignores the warning, the device eventually cuts all power to the car because a cut-off switch has been installed between the accelerator and the engine." The Times Online reports that the same system will be tested in the UK this summer for use in taxis and buses.

Researchers One Step Closer To Creating Life 292

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute are potentially one step closer to creating life. In an experiment they recently created enzymes that can replicate and evolve. 'It kind of blew me away,' said team member Tracey Lincoln of the Scripps Research Institute, who is working on her Ph.D. 'What we have is non-living, but we've been able to show that it has some life-like properties, and that was extremely interesting.'"

New Method To Revolutionize DNA Sequencing 239

An anonymous reader writes "A new method of DNA sequencing published this week in Science identifies incorporation of single bases by fluorescence. This has been shown to increase read lengths from 20 bases (454 sequencing) to >4000 bases, with a 99.3% accuracy. Single molecule reading can reduce costs and increase the rate at which reads can be performed. 'So far, the team has built a chip housing 3000 ZMWs [waveguides], which the company hopes will hit the market in 2010. By 2013, it aims to squeeze a million ZMWs [waveguides] onto a single chip and observe DNA being assembled in each simultaneously. Company founder Stephen Turner estimates that such a chip would be able to sequence an entire human genome in under half an hour to 99.999 per cent accuracy for under $1000.'"

Volvo Introduces a Collision-Proof Car 743 sends along a story on Volvo's upcoming crash-proof car. The company will introduce a concept car based on the S60 this month at the Detroit Auto Show, looking ahead a few years to the goal that by 2020 "no one should be killed or injured in a Volvo car." The concept car will have forward-looking radar as a proximity sensor, and the ability to brake if a collision is imminent. When the car senses a collision, a light flashes on the windscreen display along with an audible warning. If the driver doesn't act, the car will brake automatically.

Scientists Build Neonatal Incubator From Car Parts 211

Peace Corps Online writes "The NYTimes ran a story this week about a group of scientists who have built a neonatal incubator out of automobile parts, including a pair of headlights as a heat source, a car door alarm to signal emergencies, and an auto air filter and fan to provide climate control. The creators of the car-parts incubator say that an incubator found in any neonatal intensive care unit in the US could cost around $40,000, but the incubator they have developed can be built for less than $1,000. One expert says as many as 1.8 million infants might be spared every year if they could spend just a week in the units, which help babies who are born early or at low birth weights regulate their body temperature until their organs fully develop. Experts say in developing countries where infant mortality is most common, high-tech machines donated by richer nations often conk out when the electricity fizzles or is restricted to conserve power. 'The future medical technologists in the developing world,' says Robert Malkin, director of Engineering World Health, 'are the current car mechanics, HVAC repairmen, bicycle shop repairmen. There is no other good source of technology-savvy individuals to take up the future of medical device repair and maintenance.'"

Technical Specs Released For Aussie Net Filtering 231

smallkathryn writes "Technical specifications have just been released for the Australian net filtering trial. The trial, which aims to prove that ISP-level filtering is a viable way to stop 'unwanted content' from reaching users, will go live on 24 December. The trial will involve ISPs choosing a commercially available hardware filter from an internet content filter (ICF) vendor, adding it to their networks, then loading the blacklist of unwanted sites. Still no indication of how peer-to-peer information will be addressed."

A Robot To Destroy Breast Cancer Cells 81

Roland Piquepaille writes "Researchers at the University of Maryland are developing a robot able to detect and destroy breast cancer cells in a single session. After a tumor is located on an MRI, the robot will perform a biopsy of the breast while the patient is inside the scanner. 'If the biopsy displays cancerous cells, the robot will then insert a probe into the breast until it reaches the tumor. The probe will then burn the cancer cells until they are destroyed.' This looks great, but the researchers have only built a prototype. After they refine this robot, they'll need to go through clinical trials and obtain FDA approval. So this is not a robot that will appear on the medical market before several years."

Nanotech Paint To Kill Bacteria 208

ColGraff points out reporting at Science News about the possibility of killing bacteria with paint. Scientists in the UK have found that high concentrations of titanium oxide nanoparticles in paint can kill bacteria by creating hydroxyl radicals when exposed to ordinary fluorescent light. Titanium dioxide is present in most white paint at concentrations of 30% or so, but not always at nanoparticle scale. The researchers found that an 80% concentration of TiO2 nanoparticles worked well to kill E. Coli bacteria. There is hope that the technique could be used against "superbugs," which are resistant to multiple antibiotics. A researcher not associated with the UK team pointed out the problem with developing products based on this idea: "[A]nything that survives and sticks around grows greater resistance... ultimately [antibiotic paint] will be its own worst enemy and the bacteria could grow to be even stronger."

India Joins Nuclear Market 377

figona brings news that India will be allowed to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). A waiver was approved yesterday that provided an exception to the requirements that India sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. This means India will be able to buy nuclear fuel from the world market and purchase reactors from the US, France, and Russia; something it has been unable to do since it began nuclear testing in 1974 (which inspired the creation of the NSG). The waiver does not include terms to cut off access if India resumes nuclear testing, but the US Congress drafted a letter stating their willingness to do so. Opponents of the waiver have called it a "non-proliferation disaster."
Data Storage

Google Health Open Platform Is Great — Or Awful 179

JackPowers writes "The Google Health APIs enable portable, standardized, open architecture, extensible personal health records, which is nice but boring if they're just used to manage the paperwork of the doctor/patient relationship. But once the data is set free, all kinds of Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 apps are possible. This article looks ahead 10 years at Best Case Scenarios. A follow-up article lists the Worst Case Scenarios."

MS Clearflow To Help Drivers Avoid Traffic Jams 243

Pioneer Woman writes "Microsoft announced plans to introduce a Web-based service for driving directions that incorporates complex software models to help users avoid traffic jams. The system is intended to reflect the complex traffic interactions that occur as traffic backs up on freeways and spills over onto city streets and will be freely available as part of the company's site for 72 cities in the US. Microsoft researchers designed algorithms that modeled traffic behavior by collecting trip data from Microsoft employees who volunteered to carry GPS units in their cars. In the end they were able to build a model for predicting traffic based on four years of data, effectively creating individual 'personalities' for over 800,000 road segments in the Seattle region. In all the system tracks about 60 million road segments in the US."

"If I do not want others to quote me, I do not speak." -- Phil Wayne