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Science

Submission + - Fine structure constant may not be so constant (physicscentral.com)

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."
Medicine

Submission + - Light barrier repels mosquitoes (forbes.com)

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
Science

Submission + - The Physics of Jump Rope (sciencemag.org)

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.
Hardware

Submission + - Gecko-Inspired Robot Rolls Up Walls (discovery.com)

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."
Medicine

Submission + - Powerful magnets could prevent heart attacks (physicscentral.com)

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."
Communications

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.
Science

Submission + - Breaking into the Supercollider (physicscentral.com)

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."
Science

Submission + - Walking Bacteria (physicscentral.com)

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.
Science

Submission + - Fate of stars determined by the vacuum around them (physicscentral.com)

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.
Science

Submission + - MIT creates an easy to fly iPhone quadcopter (physicscentral.com)

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.
Image

Scientists Find a Better Way To Pour Champagne 15

BuzzSkyline writes "It's better to pour Champagne the way a good bartender draws a beer, by running it down the inside surface of the glass. The revelation, which appears in July 2010 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, flies in the face of age-old French traditions, which require the bubbly to be poured in a stream that free-falls straight down the center of a champagne flute. By using infrared thermography to image the carbon dioxide that escapes over the rim of a Champagne glass for various style pours, the researchers proved that the gentler, beer-like technique allows the wine to retain more of the dissolved gas that is critical to the whole Champagne experience."
Privacy

Submission + - Is RFID really that scary? (pbs.org)

tcd004 writes: Defcon participant Chris Paget demonstrated his ability to capture RFID data from people hundreds of feet away for the PBS NewsHour. Paget went through the regular laundry list of security concerns over RFID: people can be tracked, their information accessed, their identities comprimised. Not so fast, says Mark Roberti of RFID Journal. Mark challenges Paget to point to a single instance where RFID was successfully used for nefarious purposes. The signals are too weak and the data is too obscure, according to Roberti. So who is right? Has RFID yet lead to a single instance of identity theft, illegal monitoring, or other security compromise?
Idle

Submission + - Scientists Find a Better Way to Pour Champagne (physicscentral.com)

BuzzSkyline writes: It's better to pour Champagne the way a good bartender draws a beer, by running it down the inside surface of the glass. The revelation, which appears in July 2010 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, flies in the face of age-old French traditions, which require the bubbly to be poured in a stream that free-falls straight down the center of a champagne flute. By using infrared thermography to image the carbon dioxide that escapes over the rim of a Champagne glass for various style pours, the researchers proved that the gentler, beer-like technique allows the wine to retain more of the dissolved gas that is critical to the whole Champagne experience.

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