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Man Wants to Donate His Heart Before He Dies 456

Gary Phebus wants to donate his heart, lungs, and liver. The problem is he wants to donate them before he dies. Gary was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in 2008. Phebus says he'd like to be able to donate his organs before they deteriorate, and doesn't consider his request suicide because he's "dead anyway."
Earth

Nuclear Energy Now More Expensive Than Solar 635

js_sebastian writes "According to an article on the New York Times, a historical cross-over has occurred because of the declining costs of solar vs. the increasing costs of nuclear energy: solar, hardly the cheapest of renewable technologies, is now cheaper than nuclear, at around 16 cents per kilowatt hour. Furthermore, the NY Times reports that financial markets will not finance the construction of nuclear power plants unless the risk of default (which is historically as high as 50 percent for the nuclear industry) is externalized to someone else through federal loan guarantees or ratepayer funding. The bottom line seems to be that nuclear is simply not competitive, and the push from the US government to subsidize it seems to be forcing the wrong choice on the market."
Biotech

How a Key Enzyme Repairs Sun-Damaged DNA 97

BraveHeart writes "Researchers have long known that mammals, including humans, lack a key enzyme — one possessed by most of the animal kingdom and even plants — that reverses severe sun damage. For the first time, researchers have witnessed how this enzyme works at the atomic level to repair sun-damaged DNA. 'Normal sunscreen lotions convert UV light to heat, or reflect it away from our skin. A sunscreen containing photolyase could potentially heal some of the damage from UV rays that get through.'"

Comment It happens to me a lot, irish leftovers (Score 5, Interesting) 468

I fly to and from Britain about 10 times a year and I actually lived in Scotland for 5 years. I get stopped quite often by those guys, probably on the ground that I'm quite fair skinned but have a bushy black beard and hair and look quite intellectualish-nerdish. Then I hand over my Italian passport and they start asking if I've been to Syria, Lebanon or Palestine or the Middle East. I answer with my best possible Glasgwegian accent that no, i've never been there and that I'm a software developer living on the continent catching up with my dearest mates and girlfriend back in Maryhill and that mainland europe is terrible and i'm moving back the soonest, honest. Then they laugh and let me go. On the other side, when I go through border control wearing a palestinian kefiah they never stop me. They're a leftover of the civil war in Ulster, apparently trained in remembering all the mugshots of IRA-affiliated people. Now they're a bit useless I guess.
Image

Beaver Dam Visible From Space 286

ygslash writes "The Hoover Dam no longer holds the title of the world's widest dam. Satellite photos of northern Alberta, Canada, show that several families of beavers have apparently joined forces to build a dam 850 meters wide, more than twice as wide as the Hoover Dam."
The Courts

Writer Peter Watts Sentenced; No Jail Time 299

shadowbearer writes "SF writer Peter Watts, a Canadian citizen, whose story we have read about before in these pages, was sentenced three days ago in a Port Huron, MI court. There's not a lot of detail in the story, and although he is still being treated like a terrorist (cannot enter or pass through the US, DNA samples) he was not ordered to do any time in jail, was freed, and has returned home to his family. The judge in the case was, I believe, as sympathetic as the legal system would allow him to be."
Open Source

Licensing an Abandonware Game? 148

WolverineOfLove writes "I'm recreating a 1980s abandonware game with copyrights that have been seemingly unused for the past 18 years. The situation is detailed further in a Slashdot journal entry I just wrote, but in short: Is it worth dealing with all the copyrights and paying money if I want to recreate an abandonware title as an open source game? I know there are legal implications to certain decisions I might make, but there is a real possibility that this game's copyright holder will do nothing with the rights, and I'd much prefer preserving it for others than letting it fade away."
Censorship

North Korea's Own OS, Red Star 316

klaasb writes "North Korea's self-developed computer operating system, named 'Red Star,' was brought to light for the first time by a Russian satellite broadcaster yesterday. North Korea's top IT experts began developing the Red Star in 2006, but its composition and operation mechanisms were unknown until the internet version of the Russia Today TV program featured the system, citing the blog of a Russian student who goes to the Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang."
NASA

NASA To Cryogenically Freeze Satellite Mirrors 47

coondoggie writes "NASA said it will soon move some of the larger (46 lb) mirror segments of its future James Webb Space Telescope into a cryogenic test facility that will freeze the mirrors to -414 degrees Fahrenheit (~25 K). Specifically, NASA will freeze six of the 18 Webb telescope mirror segments at the X-ray and Cryogenic Facility, or XRCF, at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, in a test to ensure the critical mirrors can withstand the extreme space environments. All 18 segments will eventually be tested at the site. The test chamber takes approximately five days to cool a mirror segment to cryogenic temperatures."
Classic Games (Games)

M.U.L.E. Is Back 110

jmp_nyc writes "The developers at Turborilla have remade the 1983 classic game M.U.L.E. The game is free, and has slightly updated graphics, but more or less the same gameplay as the original version. As with the original game, up to four players can play against each other (or fewer than four with AI players taking the other spots). Unlike the original version, the four players can play against each other online. For those of you not familiar with M.U.L.E., it was one of the earliest economic simulation games, revolving around the colonization of the fictitious planet Irata (Atari spelled backwards). I have fond memories of spending what seemed like days at a time playing the game, as it's quite addictive, with the gameplay seeming simpler than it turns out to be. I'm sure I'm not the only Slashdotter who had a nasty M.U.L.E. addiction back in the day and would like a dose of nostalgia every now and then."
Government

Network Neutrality Back In Congress For 3rd Time 248

suraj.sun writes "Ed Markey has introduced his plan to legislate network neutrality into a third consecutive Congress, and he has a message for ISPs: upgrade your infrastructure and don't even think about blocking or degrading traffic. The war over network neutrality has been fought in the last two Congresses, and last week's introduction of the 'Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009' [PDF] means that legislators will duke it out a third time. Should the bill pass, Internet service providers will not be able to 'block, interfere with, discriminate against, impair, or degrade' access to any lawful content from any lawful application or device. Rulemaking and enforcement of network neutrality would be given to the Federal Communications Commission, which would also be given the unenviable job of hashing out what constitutes 'reasonable network management' — something explicitly allowed by the bill. Neutrality would also not apply to the access and transfer of unlawful information, including 'theft of content,' so a mythical deep packet inspection device that could block illegal P2P transfers with 100 percent accuracy would still be allowed. If enacted, the bill would allow any US Internet user to file a neutrality complaint with the FCC and receive a ruling within 90 days."
Databases

Submission + - Potential database breakthrough

DuckDodgers writes: "The database company Ingres announced a partnership with research firm Vectorwise to bring to market an efficiency breakthrough in databases. They assert that most complex queries run by a database engine can run over 100 times slower than a C++ program hand coded to get the same information from the files on disk. They're working on a database engine that closes the gap dramatically by using several methods, like batching tuples for processing in sizes that fit in the processor on-chip cache, other methods for minimizing back and forth between RAM and processor cache, and structuring the data to be processed in a way to make best use of CPU branch prediction. Their example in the whitepaper (unfortunately, it requires registration) is a moderate complexity aggregate query against 6 million rows of data that takes 16 seconds in the regular database engine, 0.04 seconds with a C++ application built to do the same thing, and about 0.2 seconds with their optimized database engine. The press release is here, and some of the technical details are discussed on this blog (no, not mine): Next Big Future. Is this impossible, impractical, or well within the realm of possibility? If it can be done, why haven't we seen it before?"
Supercomputing

Submission + - Cray's Comeback and the Future of Supercomputing

Greg Huang writes: "In the 1970s and 80s, Cray was synonymous with supercomputing. But the company fell on hard times after getting bought by Silicon Graphics in 1996 and then merging with Tera Computer in 2000. What has happened to Cray since then? Xconomy has an in-depth profile of the "new Cray" as it makes its way back to the top of the supercomputing world, including its strategy for gaining customers and advancing its technology in the perpetual race to build the world's fastest, most powerful machine."

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