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Biotech

Submission + - Snortable Drug Keeps Monkeys Awake

sporkme writes: A DARPA-funded research project at UCLA has wrapped up a set of animal trials testing the effects of inhalation of the brain chemical orexin A, a deficiency of which is a characteristic of narcolepsy. From the article:

The monkeys were deprived of sleep for 30 to 36 hours and then given either orexin A or a saline placebo before taking standard cognitive tests. The monkeys given orexin A in a nasal spray scored about the same as alert monkeys, while the saline-control group was severely impaired. The study, published in the Dec. 26 edition of The Journal of Neuroscience, found orexin A not only restored monkeys' cognitive abilities but made their brains look "awake" in PET scans. Siegel said that orexin A is unique in that it only had an impact on sleepy monkeys, not alert ones, and that it is "specific in reversing the effects of sleepiness" without other impacts on the brain.
Researchers seem cautious to bill the treatment as a replacement for sleep, as it is not clear that adjusting brain chemistry could have the same physical benefits of real sleep in the long run. The drug is aimed at replacing amphetamines used by drowsy long-haul military pilots, but there would no doubt be large demand for such a remedy thanks to its apparent lack of side-effects.
Math

Submission + - 'We have broken speed of light'

sporkme writes: "Physicists from the University of Koblenz in Germany claim to have violated special relativity using quantum tunneling to move microwave photons more than three feet "instantaneously." This would mean that the particles exceeded the speed of light by traversing the space between two prisms at a speed higher than 186,000 miles per second.

The original New Scientist article is available to subscribers."
Data Storage

Submission + - Disk drive failures 15 times what vendors say

jcatcw writes: "A Carnegie Mellon University study indicates that customers are replacing disk drives more frequently than vendor estimates of mean time to failure (MTTF) would require.. The study examined large production systems, including high-performance computing sites and Internet services sites running SCSI, FC and SATA drives. The data sheets for the drives indicated MTTF between 1 and 1.5 million hours. That should mean annual failure rates of 0.88%, annual replacement rates were between 2% and 4%. The study also shows no evidence that Fibre Channel drives are any more reliable than SATA drives."
Hardware Hacking

Submission + - Reflectivity Reaches a New Low

sporkme writes: "A new nanocoating material developed by a team of researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has the lowest level of reflectivity ever seen, or not seen in this case. The amount of light reflected by the composite of silica nanorods and aluminum nitride is almost the same amount reflected by air. From the article:

Schubert and his coworkers have created a material with a refractive index of 1.05, which is extremely close to the refractive index of air and the lowest ever reported. Window glass, for comparison, has a refractive index of about 1.45.
. . .
Using a technique called oblique angle deposition, the researchers deposited silica nanorods at an angle of precisely 45 degrees on top of a thin film of aluminum nitride, which is a semiconducting material used in advanced light-emitting diodes (LEDs). From the side, the films look much like the cross section of a piece of lawn turf with the blades slightly flattened.
Suggested applications include increased efficiency in solar cells, more energy-efficient lighting and advances in quantum mechanics. No word yet on invisibility cloaks."
Space

Submission + - Attempt No Landings There

Intron writes: The New Horizons mission to former planet Pluto just had it's closest approach to gravity assistant Jupiter. Despite the cutely named instruments Lorri and Pepssi, it performed some serious scientific work sending back pictures of Tvashtar's Plume, a volcano on Io and a nice closeup shot of Europa.
Software

Submission + - Software tweak could boost your car's gas mileage

coondoggie writes: "Think it's possible to improve your car's gas mileage just by downloading a new piece of software? Seems to be the case according to a Dutch scientist who this week said most modern cars could reduce fuel consumption by almost 3% by downloading software he and Ford worked to develop. John Kessels' software shuts on or off the car's alternator, which charges the car battery, when it is particularly inefficient for the engine to power it, thus improving the overall efficiency of the engine. A similar technique is used for hybrid cars. The software is not proprietary to Ford and can be used in any vehicle with an engine computer, which includes the vast majority of cars sold today, Kessel says. http://www.networkworld.com/community/?q=node/1195 6"
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - Amazing Cancer Drug Found; Scientist Annoyed.

sporkme writes: "A scientist was frustrated when the compound she was working with destroyed her sample of cancer cells. Further research revealed that the substance was surprisingly well suited as a cancer treatment. From the article:

"I made a calculation error and used a lot more than I should have. And my cells died," Schaefer said. A colleague overheard her complaining. "The co-author on my paper said,' Did I hear you say you killed some cancer?' I said 'Oh', and took a closer look." They ran several tests and found the compound killed "pretty much every epithelial tumor cell lines we have seen."
Lab test results on hapless mice have resulted in the destruction of colon tumors without making the mice sick. The PPAR-gamma compound is expected to be especially useful in combating treatment-resistant types of cancer."
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Telephone Tax Refund

markmcb writes: "Few may know, but there is a new way to increase your refund when you submit your 2006 return: the 'Telephone Tax Refund.' Essentially, the federal government realized it was improperly taxing Americans on their long distance phone service and now it's giving those taxes back. The difficulty, however, is determining how much to give back. The government claims it has taken the work out of it for you by offering a standard refund amount based on the number of exemptions claimed, but this article describes how taking the alternative route of actually calculating the amount paid can significantly increase your refund. Read on if you like money ... or if you just don't like being 'tricked by Uncle Sam' (as the article puts it)."
Education

Submission + - Substitute teacher gets 40 years for porn popups

alphamugwump writes: Substitute teacher Julie Amero faces up to 40 years in prison for exposing kids to porn using a classroom computer.
From the Arstechnica article:

Amero was substituting for a middle-school English class and asked the regular teacher permission to use the computer to e-mail her husband. The teacher granted her permission, and asked her not to log him out of the computer. Amero, the self-professed techno-noob, then left the room to use the restroom, and upon her return says that she found several students gathered around the machine looking at a web site. A series of unfortunate events occurred from this point on, resulting in a slew of pornographic pop-ups appearing on the screen. The onslaught continued despite Amero's attempts to close the windows.

According to The Register

When the students told their parents what had happened, they told the administration, who vowed that Julie would never work in the classroom again. But they went further. The 40-year-old substitute teacher was arrested, indicted, tried and here is the kicker on January 5, 2007, she was convicted of four counts of risk of injury to a minor, or impairing the morals of a child (Conn. Gen. Stat. 53-21). Indeed, she was originally charged with exposing 10 children in the seventh grade class to the materials on the internet, but six of the charges were dropped.

I guess "Ambush Porn" really is dangerous.
Networking

Submission + - Charter pulls a Verisign

_peter writes: As of sometime today, Charter internet customers, at least in the St. Louis area, got their own version of SiteFinder. I just finished talking to their tech support for about an hour, and have verified that it is intentional, and the only way to ``opt-out'' is to let them set a cookie in your browser. Obviously this doesn't work for connections that aren't browser-based. When I asked to be transferred to account services to cancel, the very nice representative begged for a day to look into the issue. Perhaps any other Charter customers might want to check to see if they've received this feature as well.
Microsoft

Submission + - Microsoft Outlaws 3rd Party IM Clients

An anonymous reader writes: With the latest update to the MSN Instant Messenger client, now called Windows Live Messenger, Microsoft has required all users to sign a new contract which among other things forbids the use of 3rd party instant messenger clients to connect to the MSN messenger service, such as the AJAX Meebo client, Gaim, and Trillian among others. Worth noting, they do provide a list of authorized 3rd party clients, such as Yahoo Messenger, that are allowed access to the service.

Excerpt: "In using the service, you may not use any unauthorized third party software or service to access the Microsoft instant messaging network currently known as the .NET Messenger service."
Mozilla

Submission + - Firefox javascript/cookie vulnerability uncovered

mybecq writes: Michal Zalewski has uncovered and disclosed a serious vulnerability (BugZilla: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=37044 5) in Mozilla Firefox 2.0.0.1, whereby a javascript string containing '\x00' (escaped NUL character) can cause Firefox to allow malicious sites to manipulate cookies for third-party webpages.

A demonstration of the vulnerability is available. The vulnerability requires javascript and session cookies to be enabled to be able to be exploited.
Programming

Submission + - Employer Ratings for Coders, by Coders

witten writes: "Coderific is new site for software developers where you can actually write reviews of your employers. The scores for the reviews are totaled up, and lists are generated for the best employers and the worst employers. Additionally you can look up employers based on geographical area, so the next time you're moving to a new area you can find out about the best companies to work for. There currently aren't very many entries on certain employers, but some do have enough reviews to give you a good idea of problems to look for."

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