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Education

High School Students Forced To Declare A Major 670

i_like_spam writes "As reported in the NYTimes, high school freshmen at many high schools across the nation are now being forced to pick a major. Starting this Fall, 9th graders in Florida will have to choose to major from among a set of state-approved subjects, while some students in Mississippi will have to follow one of nine designated career paths. High school administrators hope that having students declare majors will lead to greater student interest in school until graduation. College administrators think otherwise: 'youngsters should instead concentrate on developing a broad range of critical thinking and communication skills,' says Debra Humphreys from the Association of American Colleges and Universities."
Biotech

Echeria Coli Co-Opted To Make Gasoline 331

Flask_Man writes "Technology Review has an article about a small biotech company in the Silicon Valley that has successfully produced renewable gasoline from genetically modified bacteria, including the nefarious E.Coli bacteria. A pilot plant is slated to be constructed in California in 2008, and it is claimed that hundreds of different hydrocarbon molecules are capable of being produced. The modified bacteria make and excrete hydrocarbon molecules that are the length and molecular structure the company desires. From the article: 'To do this, the company is employing tools from the field of synthetic biology to modify the genetic pathways that bacteria, plants, and animals use to make fatty acids, one of the main ways that organisms store energy. Fatty acids are chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms strung together in a particular arrangement, with a carboxylic acid group made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen attached at one end. Take away the acid, and you're left with a hydrocarbon that can be made into fuel.'" We discussed something similar to this earlier this year.

Wireless, Gaming Addiction, Spam, and More 45

Of the thousands of comments on yesterday's Slashdot page, gathered below are some of the ones that defined the conversations on the rise of wireless peripherals, the meaning of content-free spam, whether one can be truly addicted to online gaming, and Intel's move to open source some of its graphics adapter drivers. Read on for the Backslash summary.

Self-Heating Coffee Cans Recalled 208

Old Man Kensey writes "Apparently those nifty Wolfgang Puck self-heating latte cans, introduced with such fanfare last year, have proven to be buggy -- cans have been reported failing to heat adequately or, more disturbingly, exploding and melting through the packaging. A recall has been announced -- here's hoping the flaws can be 'patched' soon."

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