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Submission + - Company to employees - Take a blood test or lose your health coverage (

schwit1 writes: Dale Arnold, who worked for Wisconsin plastics maker Flambeau, chose not to take his work-sponsored health assessment and biometric screening. The company responded by pulling his insurance coverage.

Like many employers, Flambeau uses a wellness program to cut insurance costs by encouraging healthy employee habits. In the past, submitting to on-site tests of blood pressure, body-mass, and cholesterol meant saving a few hundred dollars. Now companies such as Flambeau have gone a step farther, denying healthcare entirely to those who don't participate. People like Arnold must instead pay for more expensive coverage through the government's COBRA program.

According to several federal courts-including one that ruled in favor of Flambeau-this is all perfectly legal.

Submission + - Hormone 'extends lifespan by 40% (

An anonymous reader writes: A team at Yale School of Medicine have identified a hormone, produced by the thymus glad, extends lifespan by 40 per cent. Their findings reveal increased levels of the hormone, known as FGF21, protects the immune system against the ravages of age.

Researchers said the study could have implications in the future for improving immune function in the elderly, for obesity, and for diseases such as cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Submission + - Feds Want to Lower Legal Driving Limit to One Drink (

schwit1 writes: The National Transportation Safety Board wants to decrease the legal driving limit to one drink, lowering the legal limit on blood-alcohol content to 0.05 "or even lower."

The agency released its "most wanted list" on Wednesday, a laundry list of policies it would like implemented nationally. The list includes recommendations to reduce the current 0.08 blood alcohol content limit and outlaw all cell phone use while driving, even hands-free technology.

Submission + - French Drug Trial Leaves One Brain Dead and Five Critically Ill (

jones_supa writes: One person is brain dead and five others are seriously ill after taking part in a phase one drug trial for an unnamed pharmaceutical firm at the Biotrial clinic in France. In medicine, phase one entails a small group of volunteers, and focuses only on safety. Phase two and three are progressively larger trials to assess the drug's effectiveness, although safety remains paramount. The French health ministry said the six patients had been in good health until taking the oral medication. It did not say what the new medicine was intended to be used for, but a source close to the case told AFP that the drug was a painkiller containing cannabinoids, an active ingredient found in cannabis plants. Mishaps like this are relatively rare, but in 2006 six men fell ill in London after taking part in a clinical trial into a drug developed to fight auto-immune disease and leukaemia. All trials on the drug at the French clinic have been suspended and the state prosecutor has opened an inquiry.

Submission + - The flying car again (

mi writes: Federal Aviation Administration just authorized Terrafugia — one of the companies developing a flying car — to operate small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS) of its TF-X flying car for research and development purposes.

According to the company, the permission "will allow Terrafugia to test the hovering capabilities of a one-tenth scale TF-X vehicle and gather flight characteristics data that will drive future design choices".

Submission + - Intel Blunts ARM Assault With Expanded Xeon D (

An anonymous reader writes: In years gone by, blunting the ARM assault was a task that the server-class Atom processors were given, but as ARM server chips have gotten beefier, Intel has changed tactics with a single-socket Xeon chip that is geared down, in terms of its price and performance, and implemented in a system on chip packaging like many of the ARM chips and unlike the Xeon E3. (Well, technically speaking, the Xeon D is a system on package, since the southbridge chipset that provides support for legacy I/O devices is not etched onto the die but rather hooked to the Xeon D processor and then integrated in the same chip package.) This is not just a matter of semantics, but the point is that the Xeon D has more oomph than the Atom C series. But practically speaking, Intel is providing the kind of integrated functionality that hyperscalers as well as makers of storage and networking devices – and, by the way, many hyperscalers make their own storage and networking devices and will be keen on cheap, low-power,

Submission + - uBeam's Problems with Efficiency, Practicality and Cost Makes Experts Skeptical (

An anonymous reader writes: Some question if uBeam's wireless charging system is just hot air.

From article:

“It seems like an ungodly inefficient way to transmit energy,” said Leonard Bond, a physicist and professor of aerospace engineering at Iowa State University, who noted nothing could be deemed impossible until uBeam showed a working cellphone prototype, which it has not done. “Maybe these guys get an amazing award for having done something, but I’m not convinced yet.”

Basically, physicists, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers and ultrasonic researchers say it's rudimentarily possible- and not novel- but probably not nearly as efficient, practical or cost effective as uBeam claims.

Submission + - Muzzled Canadian scientists can now speak freely with public (

Layzej writes: Over the last 10 years, policies were put in place to prevent Canadian scientists from freely discussing taxpayer-funded science with the public. "media relations contacts" were enlisted to monitor and record interactions with the press. Interviews and often the questions to be asked were vetted ahead of time, and responses given by scientists frequently monitored or prohibited. The journal Nature, one of the world’s top science journals, called the policy a “Byzantine approach to the press, prioritizing message control and showing little understanding of the importance of the free flow of scientific knowledge.”

The new government in Canada is lifting these restrictions. Scientists at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans were told Thursday they can now speak to the media. In a statement on Friday afternoon, Navdeep Bains, Canada's new minister of innovation, science and economic development said "Our government values science and will treat scientists with respect. This is why government scientists and experts will be able to speak freely about their work to the media and the public,"

Submission + - Google Tests Automated Email Responses (

An anonymous reader writes: Google's research blog today announced a new feature for for their Inbox email app: a neural network that composes short responses to emails you receive. For example, if somebody emails you an invitation to an event, the app will detect that by scanning the words in the message and present you with three options for a quick response. "A naive attempt to build a response generation system might depend on hand-crafted rules for common reply scenarios. But in practice, any engineer’s ability to invent “rules” would be quickly outstripped by the tremendous diversity with which real people communicate. A machine-learned system, by contrast, implicitly captures diverse situations, writing styles, and tones. These systems generalize better, and handle completely new inputs more gracefully than brittle, rule-based systems ever could." Of course, you can skip them entirely, or use them and add your own words as well. How long until our email systems do most of our talking for us?

Submission + - MIT Drone Autonomously Avoids Obstacles at 30 MPH (

An anonymous reader writes: Traditional obstacle-avoidance software uses images from each camera, and search through the depth-field at multiple distances to determine if an object is in the drone’s path. Such approaches are computationally intensive, meaning the drone can’t fly faster than 6 miles per hour without specialized processors.

Barry’s realization was that, at the fast speeds that his drone could travel, the world simply does not change much between frames. Because of that, he could get away with computing just a small subset of measurements — distances of 10 meters away.

“As you fly, you push that 10-meter horizon forward, and, as long as your first 10 meters are clear, you can build a full map of the world around you,” Barry says.

Submission + - Tyrannosaurs were probably cannibals (

sciencehabit writes: For years, paleontologists have wondered: Did the fierce Tyrannosaurus rex eat its own? A 66-million-year-old fossil unearthed in eastern Wyoming provides some of the strongest evidence yet that it did, researchers say. The fossil—a tyrannosaur leg bone fragment the size of a human forearm—is scarred with deep grooves left by a large meat-eater as it tore flesh from the ancient carcass. One of the grooves is particularly telling because it contains tiny channels left by tooth serrations called denticles. Those channels rule out smooth-toothed predators like crocodiles, instead pointing to bipedal meat-eating dinosaurs called theropods. And since the only large theropods known to be living then in the region—T. rex and Nanotyrannus lancensis—both belong to the tyrannosaur subgroup, the evidence bolsters the idea that tyrannosaurs were, in some cases, cannibals.

Submission + - FDA approves drug that uses herpes virus to fight cancer (

An anonymous reader writes: U.S. regulators have approved a first-of-a-kind drug that uses the herpes virus to infiltrate and destroy melanoma. Nature reports: "With dozens of ongoing clinical trials of similar ‘oncolytic’ viruses, researchers hope that the approval will generate the enthusiasm and cash needed to spur further development of the approach. 'The era of the oncolytic virus is probably here,' says Stephen Russell, a cancer researcher and haematologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. 'I expect to see a great deal happening over the next few years.' Many viruses preferentially infect cancer cells. Malignancy can suppress normal antiviral responses, and sometimes the mutations that drive tumour growth also make cells more susceptible to infection. Viral infection can thus ravage a tumour while leaving abutting healthy cells untouched, says Brad Thompson, president of the pharmaceutical-development firm Oncolytics Biotech in Calgary, Canada."

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