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Earth

Climate Contrarians Seek Leadership of House Science Committee 518

An article at Ars examines three members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are seeking chairmanship of its Committee on Space, Science, and Technology. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said in an interview, "My analysis is that in the global warming debate, we won. There were a lot of scientists who were just going along with the flow on the idea that mankind was causing a change in the world's climate. I think that after 10 years of debate, we can show that that there are hundreds if not thousands of scientists who have come over to being skeptics, and I don't know anyone [who was a skeptic] who became a believer in global warming." James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has a similar record of opposing climate change, as does Lamar Smith (R-TX). Relatedly, Phil Plait, a.k.a. The Bad Astronomer, has posted an article highlighting how U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate's Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, has declined to answer a question about how old the Earth is, calling it "one of the great mysteries."
Earth

Fukushima Ocean Radiation Won't Quit 210

mdsolar writes with an update on how the oceans around Fukishima are doing. From the article: " The Fukushima disaster caused by far the largest discharge of radioactivity into the ocean ever seen. A new model presented by scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts estimates that 16.2 petabecquerels (1015 becquerels) of radioactive caesium leaked from the plant — roughly the same amount that went into the atmosphere. Most of that radioactivity dispersed across the Pacific Ocean, where it became diluted to extremely low levels. But in the region of the ocean near the plant, levels of caesium-137 have remained fixed at around 1,000 becquerels, a relatively high level compared to the natural background. Similarly, levels of radioactive caesium in bottom-dwelling fish remain pretty much unchanged more than 18 months after the accident." The article suggests run-off from contaminated land and possibly a leak in the plant itself are to blame for the levels not dropping as expected.
Patents

Apple Patents Alternative To NFC 171

another random user sends word that a set of newly-granted Apple patents published by the USPTO includes an alternative to the near field communication (NFC) technology that has begun to pop up in mobile devices. From the article: "Apple has received a Granted Patent relating to techniques for triggering a process within a portable electronic device that identifies itself for purposes of establishing communications with another device that is in proximity. At the moment, NFC is the technology that's getting all of the attention lately in respect to making it easier for two mobile devices to share information. While Apple is likewise doing research with NFC, they're also working with an alternate methodology for which they've now gained a patent for. In accordance with Apple's newly granted patent, a method for network device discovery monitors a compass output in a portable electronic device. As the portable device and an external device come closer to each other, a magnetic field signature is computed based on the monitored compass output. A determination is then made as to whether the computed signature could be associated with or implies that a previously defined type of electronic device (with which a network device discovery process can be conducted) is in close proximity. In other words, as the two devices come closer to each other, their respective magnetic characteristics cause the compass output to change in a way that implies that a network device discovery process should be initiated between the two devices."
Biotech

How Long Do You Want To Live? 813

Hugh Pickens writes "Since 1900, the life expectancy of Americans, driven by improved hygiene, nutrition, and new medical discoveries and interventions, has jumped from 47 years to almost 80. Now, scientists studying the intricacies of DNA and other molecular bio-dynamics may be poised to offer even more dramatic boosts to longevity. But there is one very basic question that is seldom asked, according to David Ewing Duncan: How long do you want to live? 'Over the past three years I have posed this query to nearly 30,000 people at the start of talks and lectures on future trends in bioscience, taking an informal poll as a show of hands,' writes Duncan. 'To make it easier to tabulate responses I provided four possible answers: 80 years, currently the average life span in the West; 120 years, close to the maximum anyone has lived; 150 years, which would require a biotech breakthrough; and forever, which rejects the idea that life span has to have any limit at all.' The results: some 60 percent opted for a life span of 80 years. Another 30 percent chose 120 years, and almost 10 percent chose 150 years. Less than 1 percent embraced the idea that people might avoid death altogether (PDF). Overwhelmingly, the reason given was that people didn't want to be old and infirm any longer than they had to be, even if a pill allowed them to delay the inevitable. Others were concerned about issues like boredom, the cost of paying for a longer life, and the impact of so many extra people on planetary resources and on the environment. But wouldn't long life allow people like Albert Einstein to accomplish more and try new things? That's assuming that Einstein would want to live that long. As he lay dying of an abdominal aortic aneurysm in 1955, Einstein refused surgery, saying: 'It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.'"
Medicine

Followup: Ultraviolet Vision After Cataract Surgery 311

xmas2003 writes "Several months ago, I posted to Slashdot about being able to see ultraviolet light after cataract surgery. While a lot of the discussion whimsically discussed the best way for 'Captain UV' or 'UltraMan' to use this 'super-power,' there were some people who were skeptical or (incorrectly) said this is Tetrachromatic vision. I've subsequently done more testing using an Oriel Instruments MS257 Monochromator and was able to see color down to 350nm — below the usual ~400nm limit of the visual spectrum. It's also easily demonstrable with a pair of 400nm and 365nm UV flashlights. Some readers who also have UV vision commented this can be quite annoying at black-lit Disney Rides, Halloween Haunted Houses, etc. Fortunately for me, it's just an interesting oddity so far. Along those lines, some interesting related stories about using UV vision during World War II and Star Gazing. Finally, many/most people end up getting vision debilitating cataracts, so my experience having a Crystalens implanted after cataract surgery may be informative."
Crime

NYPD Developing Portable Body Scanner For Detecting Guns 575

Zothecula writes "You have to feel sorry for the police officers who are required to frisk people for guns or knives — after all, if someone who doesn't want to be arrested is carrying a lethal weapon, the last thing most of us would want to do is get close enough to that person to touch them. That's why the New York Police Department teamed up with the United States Department of Defense three years ago, and began developing a portable scanner that can remotely detect the presence of a gun on a person's body. The NYPD announced the project this week."
Google

French Court Frowns On Autocomplete, Tells Google To Remove Searches 343

New submitter Lexx Greatrex writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica: "Google had been sued by insurance company Lyonnaise de Garantie, which was offended by search results including the word 'escroc,' meaning crook, according to a story posted Tuesday by the Courthouse News Service. 'Google had argued that it was not liable since the word, added under Google Suggest, was the result of an automatic algorithm and did not come from human thought,' the article states. 'A Paris court ruled against Google, however, pointing out that the search engine ignored requests to remove the offending word... In addition to the fine, Google must also remove the term from searches associated with Lyonnaise de Garantie.'"
Software

Hadoop 1.0 Released 38

darthcamaro writes "There has been a tonne of hype about Big Data and specifically Hadoop in recent years. But until today, Hadoop was not a 1.0 release product. Does it matter? Not really, but it's still a big milestone. The new release includes a new web interface for the Hadoop filesystem, security, and Hbase database support. '"At this point we figured that as a community we can support this release and be compatible for the foreseeable future. That makes this release an ideal candidate to be called 1.0," Arun C. Murthy, vice president of Apache Hadoop, said.'"
Botnet

SpyEye Botnet Nets Fraudster $3.2M In Six Months 99

wiredmikey writes "The SpyEye Trojan has a well-earned place of respect in the cyber-underground as an adaptable and effective piece of malware. Those same traits have also made it a bane for countless victims and the security community, and new research provides yet another reminder of why. According to security researchers, a hacker in his early 20s known by the alias 'Soldier' led a bank fraud operation that netted $3.2 million in six months. Powered by the SpyEye crimeware kit and aided by money mules and an accomplice believed to reside in Hollywood, Soldier commanded a botnet of more than 25,000 computers between April 19 and June 29 that compromised bank accounts and made off with the profits. Most of the victims were in the U.S., but there were a handful of victims in 90 other countries as well. Among the affected organizations were banks, educational facilities and government agencies."
Android

Finding Fault With the Low, Low Price of Android 364

bonch writes "Google's accusation of patent abuse toward its competitors has generated many responses, some of which have asked whether Android's free price is anti-competitive. Drawing comparisons to Microsoft's antitrust trial, in which they were accused of giving away Internet Explorer to drive competitors out of the browser market, Thurrott argues that Google's rivals are 'leveling the playing field' through patent fees by removing an artificial price advantage funded by monopoly search revenues. 'One could argue that Google is using its dominance in search advertising to unfairly gain entry into another market by giving that new product, Android, away for free. Does this remind you of any famous antitrust case?'"
Biotech

Scientists Derive Gelatin From Human Tissue 123

An anonymous reader writes "Conventional gelatin is made from collagen inside animals' skin and bones, however a group of researchers has managed to replace that animal base with a human one. The process involves taking human gelatin genes and inserting them into a strain of yeast, which can be cultivated to grow gelatin with controllable features. Jinchun Chen, the leader of the study, and his colleagues believe they can scale this process up to produce large amounts of human-based gelatin for medical uses. The research appears in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry."
AI

IBM Watson To Replace Salespeople and Cold-Callers 316

An anonymous reader writes "After conquering Jeopardy! and making inroads into the diagnosis of medical maladies, IBM's next application for Watson is improving sales and customer support. Companies will be able to simply fill Watson (or rather, DeepQA) with domain-specific information about products and services, and sit back as it uses its natural language processing skills to answer the queries of potential customers. The potential benefits are huge. Watson could either augment existing sales and support teams, or replace them entirely. Also, in a beautiful and self-fulfilling twist, the first application of this re-purposed Watson will be be internally, at IBM, to help sell more IBM Watsons to other companies."
Android

Microsoft Wants $15 Per Android Smartphone 361

sfcrazy writes "Microsoft Corp has demanded that Samsung Electronics Co Ltd pay $15 for each smartphone handset it makes based on Google Inc's Android operating system. The software giant claims to own a wide range of patents used in the mobile platform. From the article: 'Samsung would likely seek to lower the payment to about $10 in exchange for a deeper alliance with Microsoft for the U.S. company's Windows platform, the Maeil Business Newspaper quoted unnamed industry officials as saying.'"

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