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Study Confirms Mobile Phones Distract Drivers 439

An anonymous reader notes a Reuters report of a study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, confirming that Mobile phone calls distract drivers far more than even the chattiest passenger, causing drivers to follow too closely and miss exits. California's ban on using a handheld cell phone while driving, which went into effect last summer, is looking less than fully effective. A handful of other states have instituted similar bans, but none has forbidden driving while talking on a cell phone at all. "Using a hands-free device does not make things better and the researchers believe they know why — passengers act as a second set of eyes, shutting up or sometimes even helping when they see the driver needs to make a maneuver."

Good Physics Books For a Math PhD Student? 418

An anonymous reader writes "As a third-year PhD math student, I am currently taking Partial Differential Equations. I'm working hard to understand all the math being thrown at us in that class, and that is okay. The problem is, I have never taken any physics anywhere. Most of the problems in PDEs model some sort of physical situation. It would be nice to be able to have in the back of my mind where this is all coming from. We constantly hear about the heat equation, wave equation, gravitational potential, etc. I'm told I should not worry about what the equations describe and just learn how to work with them, but I would rather not follow that advice. Can anyone recommend physics books for someone in my position? I don't want to just pick up a book for undergrads. Perhaps there are things out there geared towards mathematicians?"

Bug In Android Passes Keystrokes To Root Shell 205

pasokon writes "ZDNet reports on an Android bug in T-Mobile G1s with early versions of the firmware: 'When the phone booted it started up a command shell as root and sent every keystroke you ever typed on the keyboard from then on to that shell. Thus every word you typed, in addition to going to the foreground application would be silently and invisibly interpreted as a command and executed with superuser privileges. ... open the keyboard tray on your G1, ignore anything you see on the screen, and type these 8 keystrokes: (enter)-r-e-b-o-o-t-(enter). Poof, your phone will reboot.'"

Memory Molecule Identified 97

Reader Ostracus informs us of research led by Michael Ehlers of Duke University that has identified a molecule, myosin Vb (five-b), that seems to be a critical component in the formation of memory. "A major puzzle for neurobiologists is how the brain can modify one... synapse at a time in a brain cell and not affect the thousands of other connections nearby. Plasticity, the ability of the brain to precisely rearrange the connections between its nerve cells, is the framework for learning and forming memories ... The discovery of a molecule that moves new receptors to the synapse so that the neuron... can respond more strongly helps to explain several observations about [brain] plasticity ... [The researchers] found that the myosin Vb molecule in hippocampal neurons responded to a flow of calcium ions from the synaptic space by popping up and into action. One end of the myosin is attached to meshlike actin filaments so it can 'walk' to the end of the nerve cells where receptors are. On its other end, it tows an endosome, a packet that contains new receptors. 'These endosomes are like little memories waiting to happen,' Ehlers said."

Stem Cells From Fat Create Beating Heart Cells 198

Amenacier writes "Melbourne scientists recently discovered that stem cells isolated from human fat could be made to turn into beating heart muscle cells when cultured with rat heart cells. This discovery may lead to the use of fat stem cells in repairing cardiac damage, or fixing such cardiac problems as holes in the heart. It is proposed that culturing the stem cells with rat heart cells allows them to differentiate into heart muscle through signals from the rat cells. In the future it may be possible to inject/transplant the stem cells into the damaged area and have them naturally differentiate into the type of cell required, with only the natural stimuli provided by surrounding cells, without any danger of rejection by the body. Quoting: 'The next step is to implant the human heart cells onto the damaged heart of a laboratory rat to see whether they repair the heart. Then they would be trialled in higher species such as sheep and pigs before human applications could be considered. Clinical application could be five years away ...'" The Age has a multimedia treatment (Flash) of the discovery.

Why the Kill Switch Makes Sense For Android 384

Technologizer writes "It came out this week that Google's Android phone OS, like the iPhone, has a kill switch that lets Android Market applications be disabled remotely. But it's a mistake to lump Google's implementation and Apple's together — the Google version is a smart, pro-consumer move that avoids all the things that make Apple's version a bad idea."

Linux As a Model For a New Government? 509

An anonymous reader writes "The hedge fund investor who prided himself on achieving 1000% returns, Andrew Lahde, wrote a goodbye letter to mark his departure from the financial world. In it, he suggests people think about building a new government model, and his suggestion is to have someone like George Soros fund a new government that brings together the best and brightest minds in a manner where they're not tempted by bribery. In doing so, he refers to how Linux grows and competes with Microsoft. An open source government. How would such a system work, and could it succeed? How long before it became corrupt? Would it need a benevolent dictator (Linus vs. Soros)?"

Generic VMs Key To Future of Coding 139

snydeq writes "Fatal Exception's Neil McAllister calls for generic VMs divorced from the syntactic details of specific languages in order to provide developers with some much-needed flexibility in the years ahead: 'Imagine being able to program in the language of your choice and then choose from any of several different underlying engines to execute your code, depending upon the needs of your application.' This 'next major stage in the evolution of programming' is already under way, he writes, citing Jim Hugunin's work with Python on the CLR, Microsoft's forthcoming Dynamic Language Runtime, Jython, Sun's Da Vinci Machine, and the long-delayed Perl/Python Parrot. And with modern JITs capable of outputting machine code almost as efficient as hand-coded C, the idea of running code through a truly generic VM may be yet another key factor that will shape the future of scripting."

Asus N10 Review — the First Netbook For Gaming 126

Kim Hawley writes "Mobile Computer has a review of another new netbook from Asus. The N10 comes from Asus’ notebook division rather than its Eee PC division, and has an impressive specification. Most notable are the ExpressCard/34 slot and switchable nVidia GeForce 9300M graphics, and the video shows the N10 playing Call of Duty 4 very smoothly. Pre-orders in the US are around $600 – about the same as the Eee PC 1000. The N10 is closer to a traditional laptop than a true netbook, though – is feature-creep killing this new market already?"

Fire Your IT Boss 509

theodp writes "Instead of laying off techies who directly help users, Robert X. Cringely argues that the best place to cut IT organizations is at the top. One of the great problems in IT management, Cringely says, is that the big bosses typically haven't a clue what is happening, what needs to happen, and what it all should cost. He issues the following challenge: 'If you are managing an IT shop and can't write the code to render "hello world" in C, HTML, PHP, and pull "hello world" from a MySQL database using a perl script, then you are in the wrong job.' Even with help from Google, Cringely believes many technical managers would fail this test and should get the boot as a result — you can't manage what you don't understand."

Apple Rejects iPhone App As Competitive To iTunes 375

DaveyJJ sends news of yet another rejection of an iPhone app by Apple, with perhaps a chilling twist for potential developers of productivity or utility apps. John Gruber of Daring Fireball writes: "Let's be clear: forbidding 'duplication of functionality' is forbidding competition. The point of competition is to do the same thing, but better." Paul Kafasis (co-founder of Rogue Amoeba Software) makes the point that this action by Apple will scare talented developers away from the iPhone platform. And Dave Weiner argues that the iPhone isn't a "platform" at all: "The idea that it's a platform should mean no individual or company has the power to turn you off."

NASA To Explore "Secret Layer" of the Sun 75

SpaceAdmiral brings news that NASA will be launching a telescope next April, called Solar Ultraviolet Magnetograph Investigation (SUMI), which will examine what is called the "transition region" between the Sun's corona and the chromosphere. Scientists have studied characteristics of the Sun around this region before, but never within it. NASA notes: "It is a place in the sun's atmosphere, about 5000 km above the stellar surface, where magnetic fields overwhelm the pressure of matter and seize control of the sun's gases. It's where solar flares explode, where coronal mass ejections begin their journey to Earth, where the solar wind is mysteriously accelerated to a million mph. It is, in short, the birthplace of space weather."
The Military

Air Force Suspends Cyber Command Program 166

AFCyber writes "The Air Force on Monday suspended all efforts related to development of a program to become the dominant service in cyberspace, according to knowledgeable sources. Top Air Force officials put a halt to all activities related to the establishment of the Cyber Command, a provisional unit that is currently part of the 8th Air Force at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, sources told Nextgov. An internal Air Force e-mail obtained by Nextgov said, 'Transfers of manpower and resources, including activation and re-assignment of units, shall be halted.' Establishment of the Cyber Command will be delayed until new senior Air Force leaders, including Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz, sworn in today, have time to make a final decision on the scope and mission of the command."

Cuil Proves the Bubble Is Back 496

MattSparkes writes "Cuil may only have launched this week, but it seems that they're already enjoying late-'90s boom-style comforts. 'Lunch is ordered in every single day. Huge fridges burst with snacks and drinks. Bowls of strawberries and muffins lie around the rest area. The company pays for a personal trainer and gym membership for everyone. A doctor calls round each Friday, after the weekly barbeque, to see if everyone's in good health. Employees drift in an out at times that suit themselves.' Seems like an awesome place to work, but how long will their $25 million VC funding last at this rate?"

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