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United States

+ - Obesity may really be an epidemic

Submitted by xlurker
xlurker writes: Quoted with permission of the Metafilter poster: Obesity has been called an epidemic in the United States. Looking at an interactive statistic [CNN, flash] of the state-by-state numbers is sobering. 64% of adults are overweight and approx 25% are obese [Wikipedia 1, 2]. The usual suspects have so far been a culture of low-exercise high-consumption (due to urban sprawl, driving, TV, ... ), microbes , genetic predisposition, and bad diet (the ubiquity of junk food with its high levels of fat, sugar and salt. Recently the high fructose levels in the common American diet has also been noted. Fructose comprises 50% of table sugar and up to 90% of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), both ingredients found in copious amounts in most American 'convenience' foods. [Wikipedia: Fructose#References, Wikipedia:HFCS]).
Now it seems that a decisive assessory is a common virus, the Human Adenovirus-36, which may really make obesity an actual epidemic. [Int. Journal of Obesity, CNN]
United States

US No Longer Technology King 815

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the i-coulda-been-somebody dept.
An anonymous reader writes to tell us that according to a recent report from the World Economic Forum the US has lost the leading spot for technology innovation. The new reigning champ is now apparently Denmark with other Nordic neighbors Sweden, Finland and Norway all claiming top spots as well. "Countries were judged on technological advancements in general business, the infrastructure available and the extent to which government policy creates a framework necessary for economic development and increased competitiveness."

+ - Atheist Debate: Should we rid the mind of God?

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: The video from this debate is now online. It was between [theist] Alister McGrath, Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford University, author of "Dawkins' God" and "The Dawkins Delusion" and Peter Atkins, Professor of Chemistry at Oxford University, well-known atheist and supporter of Richard Dawkins. As seen on Channel 4's "The trouble with atheism". This event was organised jointly by The University of Edinburgh Philosophy Society and The Christian Union. The lecture theatre it was held in seats 500, and it overflowed. More than 300 people had to be turned away.

+ - U.S.A. Loses This Years Technology Inovator Crown

Submitted by theshowmecanuck
theshowmecanuck writes: The BBC is reporting that that America has lost its position as the world's primary engine of technology innovation. This according to the World Economic Forum Global Information Technology Report 2006-2007. This year, Denmark came out on top. For the full listing see the "Networked Readiness Index" PDF document. Does this actually mean something (does it influence leaders), is it just a good sound bite, or both?
The Courts

+ - Private file sharing to remain/become legal in EU

Submitted by orzetto
orzetto writes: Italian newspaper l'Unità reports that the European parliament's Commitee for Legal Affairs approved an amendment presented by EMP Nicola Zingaretti (PSE, IT), that makes piracy a felony—but only if a monetary profit is made (for the foreign-language impaired, see this article on Hollywood Reporter, which however does not mention that non-profit p2p will not be criminalised). As in the EU parliament's press release:

Members of the Legal Affairs' committee [...] decided that criminal sanctions should only apply to those infringements deliberately carried out to obtain a commercial advantage. Piracy committed by private users for personal, non-profit purposes are therefore also excluded.
Italian consumers' association Altroconsumo was involved in drafting the text. The complete proposal was passed with 23 votes in favour, 3 against and 3 abstained, and is intended to be applied to copyright, trademark, design and other IP fields, but not patent right which is explicitly excluded. The proposal has still to pass the vote of the parliament before becoming law in all EU countries, some of which (like Italy) do have criminal laws in place for non-profit file sharing.

Caution: Most EU countries use civil law, not common law. Translation of legal terms may be misleading.

+ - Nanoparticles reveal fingerprints

Submitted by
Roland Piquepaille
Roland Piquepaille writes: "According to 'Chemical Science,' Israeli researchers have found new ways to use nanotechnology to reveal hidden fingerprints. They've used gold nanoparticles suspended in a stable solution of petrol ether. The nanoparticles 'stick to the fingerprint residues through hydrophobic interactions.' This new method produces high quality prints in just three minutes. Other experts in forensic science confirmed the results, but it's still unknown when — or if — law-enforcement forces will use this technology. Read more for additional references and a picture showing how well this new method works by comparison to current ones."

Why Exercise Boosts Brainpower 331

Posted by kdawson
from the muscle-head dept.
aditi sends us a report from Reuters on research indicating that exercise boosts brainpower by building new brain cells in a brain region linked with memory and memory loss. Quoting: "Tests on mice showed they grew new brain cells in a brain region called the dentate gyrus, a part of the hippocampus that is known to be affected in the age-related memory decline that begins around age 30 for most humans. Researchers used magnetic resonance imaging scans to help document the process in mice — and then used MRIs to look at the brains of people before and after exercise. They found the same patterns, which suggests that people also grow new brain cells when they exercise."
User Journal

SPAM: Of Experts and Editors 1

Journal by narramissic
Recently it has become even more apparent to me that experts and editors play an important role, and nowhere is this more obvious than in Slashdot's own Firehose section. While the democratic method of choosing top stories seems to be largely effective, with the best stuff generally getting the most votes, the crowd often skips over the hidden gem that an editor would find, fact check, polish, and post to the front page. My little Firehose rant aside, this is the sort of thing I've been ponderin

+ - The Coevolution of Lice & Their Hosts

Submitted by
eldavojohn writes: "It might be an uncomfortable subject but parasites are an interesting subject when it comes to evolution. Ever wonder if pocket gophers have lice? Well, they do. And most interesting of all is the evolution of these lice mirroring the evolution of gophers. To study the genes of lice may shed just as much light on evolutionary trees as studying the genes of the actual host the lice has evolved to. The most unsettling result from these studies is that human head lice and human pubic lice (crabs) vary so greatly that they are in two separate genera. There were similarities between our pubic lice and the lice found on gorillas. Scientists came to the conclusion, "which they published today in BMC Biology, is just as striking as their earlier one about head lice. But it is hardly the same. We did not get pubic lice from other hominids. We got them from the ancestors of gorillas.""

RFID Passports Cloned Without Opening the Package 168

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the step-one-cut-a-hole-in-a-box dept.
Jeremy writes to tell us that using some simple deduction, a security consultant discovered how to clone a passport as it's being mailed to its recipient, without ever opening the package. "But the key in this first generation of biometric passport is relatively easy to identify/crack. It is not random, but consists of passport number, the passport holder's date of birth and the passport expiry date. The Mail found it relatively easy to identify the holder's date of birth, while the expiry date is 10 years from the issue date, which for a newly-delivered passport would clearly fall within a few days. The passport number consists of a number of predictable elements, including an identifier for the issuing office, so effectively a significant part of the key can be reconstructed from the envelope and its address label."

+ - NASA Scientist: Stop Building Coal Power Plants

Submitted by
eldavojohn writes: "Yesterday speaking as a private citizen & without authority from the U.S. space agency, James Hansen from NASA told Washington to stop building coal plants. From the article, "In his briefing to leaders of the press corps, entitled "Global Warming: Connecting the Dots from Causes to Solutions", Hansen said that evidence in the international scientific community shows global warming is occurring at a much faster pace than earlier forecasts predicted and that the burning of coal is a leading cause of elevated levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which traps heat via the so-called greenhouse effect. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, coal-fueled power plants produce about half of the electricity consumed in America. Plans currently call for the construction of some 160 new coal-based facilities to meet future energy needs over the next decade." Hansen is a controversial but high ranking scientist at NASA who is a well known outspoken opponent of the Bush administration's handling & policies of environmental issues."
Portables (Apple)

+ - How Jobs blew the iPhone keynote

Submitted by
PetManimal writes: "Mike Elgan, writing for Computerworld, slams Steve Jobs' keynote at MacWorld announcing the iPhone, claiming that Jobs is raising his customers' and Wall Street expectations too high, and is giving his competitors too much advance notice. And he questions the functionality of the product, noting that unlike most smart phones, the iPhone doesn't have a replacable battery, support for removable storage, or support for Microsoft apps like Word and Outlook, and can't handle voice-dialing, 3G Internet access, one-handed operation, or video recording. His conclusion:
A June unveiling that coincided with the actual product launch would have kept customers and Wall Street expectations in line; concealed product details from competitors; given Apple TV the full spotlight when it ships; kept iPod sales robust and would have helped Apple gracefully negotiate the rights to use the name "iPhone." In short, it would have been the traditional Apple home run. Steve Jobs blew it.

You cannot have a science without measurement. -- R. W. Hamming