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Submission + - Climate Change-Induced Drought Caused the Mayan Collapse (

pigrabbitbear writes: "The collapse of the Mayan empire has already caused plenty of consternation for scientists and average Joes alike, and we haven’t even made it a quarter of the way through 2012 yet. But here’s something to add a little more fuel to the fire: A new study suggests that climate change killed off the Mayans."

Submission + - Nigerian Scam Artists Taken for $33,000 (

smitty777 writes: An Australian woman who was being used by a group of Nigerian scam artists stole over $33,000 from the group who employed her. Her bank account was being used to funnel the cash from a dodgy internet car sales website. Irony aside, it makes one wonder how these folks ever got the nerve to go to the police with this matter. Those of you wondering, this article offers some answers to the question of why so many of these scams originate from this area.

Comment Re:explanation incorrect? (diploe + 1/r vs 1/r^2) (Score 1) 159

I believe you're thinking specifically of closed orbits (if my hazy recollection of Newtonian dynamics is correct). Any attractive potential can lead to orbits, but most types of potentials produce orbits that do not necessarily close on themselves. Orbits in the gravitational potential around spheres and points lead to elliptical orbits that close on themselves (instead of precessing around like a spirograph sketch).

Submission + - Water droplets in orbit on the International Space Station (

BuzzSkyline writes: "Astronaut Don Pettit, who is aboard the International Space Station (ISS) right now, put charged water droplets into wild orbits around a knitting needle in the microgravity environment of the ISS. A video he made of the droplets is the first in a serious of freefall physics experiments that he will be posting in coming months."

Submission + - Fine structure constant may not be so constant (

BuzzSkyline writes: "Physics Buzz is reporting, "Just weeks after speeding neutrinos seem to have broken the speed of light, another universal law, the fine structure constant might be about to crumble." Astronomical observations seem to indicate that the constant, which controls the strength of electromagnetic interactions, is different in distant parts of the universe. Among other things, the paper may explain why the laws of physics in our corner of the universe seem to be finely tuned to support life. The research is so controversial that it took over a year to go from submission to publication in Physical Review Letters, rather than the weeks typical of most other papers appearing in the peer-reviewed journal."

Submission + - Light barrier repels mosquitoes (

kodiaktau writes: Dr. Szabolcs Marka has received one of five $1M grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to continue his experiments with using light beams to create mosquito barriers. This is the second grant he has received from the foundation and proves to be a deviation from the previous and more dangerous use of lasers to control mosquitoes. A video can be seen here

Submission + - The Physics of Jump Rope (

sciencehabit writes: Last year, Jeffrey Aristoff and Howard Stone, mechanical engineers at Princeton University, were at the gym waiting for a pickup game of basketball. To warm up, Stone started jumping rope. As the rope whizzed over the head of his colleague, Aristoff wondered, "Is it known how jump ropes bend in the wind?" A few literature searches later, he concluded that the answer was, "not really." Now, the two have solved the problem themselves.

Submission + - Gecko-Inspired Robot Rolls Up Walls (

RedEaredSlider writes: "We all love climbing robots. A group of researchers in Canada has decided to combine the mechanism geckos use to stick to walls with the simplicity of a tank tread. The result is a 'bot that can roll up smooth (and some not so smooth) surfaces. Such robots are easier to control than those that try to simulate walking directly."

Submission + - Powerful magnets could prevent heart attacks (

BuzzSkyline writes: "A few minutes in a high magnetic field (1.3 Tesla) is enough to thin blood by 30%, potentially leading to a new drug-free therapy to prevent heart attacks. The powerful field causes blood cells to line up in chains that flow much more easily than randomly-scattered individual cells, according to research scheduled to appear this month in the journal Physical Review E."

Submission + - Skype protocol has been reverse engineered 1

An anonymous reader writes: One researcher has decided he wants to make Skype open source by reverse engineering the protocol the service uses. In fact, he claims to have already achieved that feat on a new skype-open-source blog. The source code has been posted for versions 1.x/3.x/4.x of Skype as well as details of the rc4 layer arithmetic encoding the service uses. While his intention may be to recreate Skype as an open source platform, it is doubtful he will get very far without facing an army of Microsoft lawyers. Skype is not an open platform, and Microsoft will want to keep it that way.

Submission + - Breaking into the Supercollider (

BuzzSkyline writes: "A group of physicists went AWOL from the American Physical Society conference in Dallas this week to explore the ruins of the nearby Superconducting Super Collider. The SSC was to be the world's largest and most ambitious physics experiment. It would have been bigger than the LHC and run at triple the energy. But the budget ran out of control and the project was scrapped in 1993."

Submission + - Walking Bacteria (

BuzzSkyline writes: Students at UCLA have made the startling discovery that some bacteria can walk on surfaces using structures called Type IV pili as legs. Previously, it was generally believed that bacteria needed to be embedded in fluids to move around significantly. The revelation helps explain the spread of biofilms, and shows why some some bacteria can be particularly dangerous. The professor overseeing the research believes that disabling or lopping off the bacteria legs may offer a novel route to fight infections caused by walking bacteria. The article describing the research has some pretty freaky video of bacteria standing up on one end and walking away.

Submission + - Fate of stars determined by the vacuum around them (

Flash Modin writes: Atreyu was right to fear 'The Nothing.' For decades, physicists attempting to unify quantum mechanics and relativity have been finding that the vacuum of space plays a critical role in the universe. From the Dirac sea model of a vacuum as an ocean of negatively charged particles, to the Casimir effect that dictates there will be a force between two or more objects in a vacuum; the subtle, yet critical properties of the vacuum are now needed to fully describe many bizarre phenomena in the cosmos. Now, another possible example of the vacuum's importance has been added. In an upcoming issue of the journal Physical Review Letters, a group of physicists from Brazil show that the vacuum around a relativistic star -a rotating neutron star that requires general relativity to explain its behavior- could determine whether it ejects its mass in a massive explosion, or collapses into a black hole of no escape. The group calls the process "awakening the vacuum" and say it could could provide an important physical test of field theories, because a stable neutron star could confirm or deny what type of field surrounds it. Read the preprint on the physics arXiv.

Submission + - MIT creates an easy to fly iPhone quadcopter (

Flash Modin writes: The Humans & Automation Lab (HAL) at MIT has created a quadcopter — or Micro Air Vehicle — that can be flown from an iPhone. The copter can be made to automatically correct for winds or obstacles and can hover at a set altitude to simplify controls; so the user can just plot a point in Google maps and it flies there by itself. Once it reaches the desired point, the copter switches to "nudge controls" so the user can maneuver it to spy on their wife, witness a drug deal or explore the canopy of a rainforest. To prove to the FAA that they should take the technology seriously, the team gave ROTC cadets a three-minute iPhone flying lesson and put the copter in an unfamiliar separate room where they had to pilot it. In the study, nine out of 14 could flawlessly read an eye chart with the copter's camera and identify a specified individual. A similar, but downgraded and commercially available iPhone quadcopter started selling on Amazon last week for $300, but with mixed — and very few — reviews.

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