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Idle

Neanderthals "Had Sex" With Modern Man 536

According to Professor Svante Paabo, director of genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Neanderthals and modern humans had sex across the species barrier. The professor has been using DNA retrieved from fossils to piece together the entire Neanderthal genome, and plans on publishing his findings soon. He recently told a conference that he was sure the two species had had sex, but still had questions as to how "productive" the relations had been. "What I'm really interested in is, did we have children back then and did those children contribute to our variation today?" he said. "I'm sure that they had sex, but did it give offspring that contributed to us? We will be able to answer quite rigorously with the new [Neanderthal genome] sequence." What remains a mystery is what Paleolithic brewery provided the catalyst for these stone age hook-ups.
NASA

NASA Releases Cool, Free iPhone App 47

lenehey writes "A new free iPhone app provided by NASA was released today. The app lists each of NASA's missions, and allows you to see a brief description, the latest news updates, images, videos, etc., corresponding to that mission. A timer is also provided for each mission, logging the days, hours, and seconds until (or since) the mission launch."
Patents

Apple Seeks Patent On Operating System Advertising 342

patentpundit writes "On April 18, 2008, Apple Computer applied for a patent relating to an 'invention' that allows for showing advertisements within an operating system. The first named inventor on the patent application is none other than Steve Jobs. The patent application published and became available for public inspection on October 22, 2009. If implemented, the invention would make it possible for advertisements to be displayed on a variety of devices, including desktop computers, cell phones, PDAs, and more. In one alarming aspect, the device could be disabled while the advertisements run, thereby forcing users to let the advertisement run its course before the system would unlock and allow further use. In an even more invasive scenario, explained in the patent application, the user could be required to do something, such as click to continue, in order to verify that they are actively watching the advertisement and haven't simply walked away while the ad runs. Whether Apple would implement such an invention is unknown, but it is possible that they think there are others out there who might want to implement such invasive advertising. It is possible Apple wanted to get ahead of the curve and file this patent so that if any company is silly enough to engage in Big Brother advertising, then Apple will get a royalty. I sure hope this is not the future of advertising."

Comment Re:Missing essential sensors, usable screen (Score 1) 181

I'm not sure if this phone was running cupcake or donut, but I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and assume it was cupcake (there are supposedly speed improvements in donut.)

Yeah, it would have been 1.5 - the problem with the Hero is that because it's so heavily customised, you can't just update it to Donut and run with it, unlike the Sapphire/Magic/myTouch3G.
Having said that though, there is a recent official firmware update that supposedly significantly speeds the device up. I don't actually have a Hero, but I've tried one of the backports to the Magic hardware, and it seems to work fairly well.

However, I'll have to agree with the spirit of your post; the Hero's OS is biting off more than it can chew. Sadly, 1st-generation Android hardware is underpowered for such things.

Communications

New Kind of Orbit Could Ease Mars Communications 127

japan_dan writes "An interesting way to enable Earth-Mars communication when the Sun occludes the direct radio line-of-sight: ESA proposes placing a pair of continuous-thrusting relay satellites, using a solar electric propulsion system — one in front and ahead of Mars, the other behind and below — with both following non-Keplerian, so-called 'B-orbits'. This means the direction of thrust is perpendicular to the satellites' direction of flight, allowing them to 'hover' with both Earth and Mars in view. Quoting from the Q&A: 'We found that a pair of relay satellites would only have to switch on their thrusters for about 90 days out of every 2.13-year period, and this solution would only increase the one-way signal travel time by one minute, so it could be effective.'" Here is the paper describing non-Keplerian orbits (PDF).
Space

NASA Discovers Giant Ring Around Saturn 255

caffiend666 writes with news that scientists using the Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered a very large, previously unknown ring around the planet Saturn. According to NASA, if the ring were visible to the naked eye from Earth, it would cover a patch of sky roughly twice the angular diameter of the Moon. "The new belt lies at the far reaches of the Saturnian system, with an orbit tilted 27 degrees from the main ring plane. The bulk of its material starts about six million kilometers away from the planet and extends outward roughly another 12 million kilometers. One of Saturn's farthest moons, Phoebe, circles within the newfound ring, and is likely the source of its material. Saturn's newest halo is thick, too — its vertical height is about 20 times the diameter of the planet. It would take about one billion Earths stacked together to fill the ring. ... The ring itself is tenuous, made up of a thin array of ice and dust particles. Spitzer's infrared eyes were able to spot the glow of the band's cool dust. The telescope, launched in 2003, is currently 107 million kilometers from Earth in orbit around the sun."

Comment Re:Num Lock! (Score 1) 939

you're probably being facetious, but typing numbers for an extended time is a hell of a lot faster and easier on the numpad than with the main keyboard ones.

You raise an interesting point though - I use all those symbols a lot more than I use the numbers they're set to by default. If I were to design the computer keyboard today, I'd leave the numbers off those keys and force people to use the numpad.
It might even have the bonus side-effect of reducing the amount of SMStalk in the online world. Maybe.

Comment Re:Scroll lock! (Score 1) 939

The Scroll Lock key is useless but not harmful

I beg to differ - my work uses this arcane software package for some services (Ericom PowerTerm). It has this "feature" that stops the screen from updating if Scroll Lock is on.
Couple that with some of the keyboards at work having a retarded layout where Print Screen/Scroll Lock/Pause are directly above the arrow keys, and you have a recipe for annoyance.

Comment Re:Scroll lock! (Score 1) 939

You know, the Windows Key has been there for going on fifteen years now... I think it's time you got used to it and learned not to hit it.

Hen I got my Logitech G15 Keyboard, it had a feature where you could turn the winkeys off. The only thing I thought of when I saw this was "What kind of hamfisted people keep pressing it by accident?"

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