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Submission + - Scientists discover second code hiding in DNA (

vinces99 writes: Scientists have discovered a second code hiding within DNA that contains information that changes how scientists read the instructions contained in DNA and interpret mutations to make sense of health and disease. A research team led by Dr. John Stamatoyannopoulos, University of Washington associate professor of genome sciences and of medicine, made the discovery. The findings, reported in the Dec. 13 issue of Science, are part of the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements Project funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute. Since the genetic code was deciphered in the 1960s, scientists have assumed that it was used exclusively to write information about proteins. UW scientists were stunned to discover that genomes use the genetic code to write two separate languages. One describes how proteins are made, and the other instructs the cell on how genes are controlled. One language is written on top of the other, which is why the second language remained hidden for so long.

“For over 40 years we have assumed that DNA changes affecting the genetic code solely impact how proteins are made,” said Stamatoyannopoulos. “Now we know that this basic assumption about reading the human genome missed half of the picture. These new findings highlight that DNA is an incredibly powerful information storage device, which nature has fully exploited in unexpected ways.” The genetic code uses a 64-letter alphabet called codons. The UW team discovered that some codons, which they called duons, can have two meanings, one related to protein sequence and one related to gene control. These two meanings seem to have evolved in concert with each other. The gene control instructions appear to help stabilize certain beneficial features of proteins and how they are made. The discovery of duons has major implications for how scientists and physicians interpret a patient’s genome and will open new doors to the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Practical Backup Bitrot Detection 1

An anonymous reader writes: There is a lot of advice about backing up data, but it seems to boil down to distributing it to several places (other local or network drives, offsite drives, in the cloud, etc.). We have hundreds of thousands of family pictures and videos we're trying to save using this advice. But in some sparse searching of our archives, we're seeing bitrot destroying our memories. With the quantity of data (~2 TB at present), it's not really practical for us to examine every one of these periodically so we can manually restore them from a different copy. We'd love it if the filesystem could detect this and try correcting first, and if it couldn't correct the problem, it could trigger the restoration. But that only seems to be an option for raid type systems, where the drives are colocated. Is there a combination of tools that can automatically detect these failures and restore the data from other remote copies without us having to manually examine each image/video and restore them by hand? (It might also be reasonable to ask for the ability to detect a backup drive with enough errors that it needs replacing altogether.)

Submission + - Online Dating Leads to "More Successful" Marriages (

An anonymous reader writes: If you're still not sure about online dating, you may want to listen up. A new study revealed that more than a third of marriages between 2005 and 2012 began online, and online couples actually enjoy happier and longer marriages.
While the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was unable to determine why online relationships were more successful, researchers say the reasons may include the strong motivations of online daters, the availability of advance screening the sheer volume of opportunities online.
"Surprisingly, we found that marriages that started online were associated with better outcomes," lead author Professor John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago told
"These data suggest that the Internet may be altering the dynamics and outcomes of marriage itself," he added.

Submission + - DNA Reveals Common Ancestor for Europeans that Lived 1,000 Years Ago (

An anonymous reader writes: Scientists analyzed and compared DNA samples and discovered that Europeans might have a lot more in common than previously believed. Based from the DNA samples from people throughout the continent, scientists unveiled that most of the people shared common ancestors just over 1,000 years ago. This discovery reconfirmed previous mathematical models that suggested a link between Europeans. Despite those previous models, this finding still plays a huge part in understanding how people relate to one another in a region that has been so accustomed to existing as distinctive ethnic groups.

Submission + - Department store surveillance camera nabs Boston Marathon bomb suspect (

gannebraemorr writes: from FOX News: "Investigators have arrested a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing after reviewing photos and video from Monday's event, a federal source confirmed to The suspect, who is expected to appear in federal court in Boston later today, has not yet been named by authorities. He was seen on surveillance footage that showed a young man carrying – and perhaps dropping – a black bag at the second bombing scene at the finish line of Monday's race, where two bombs exploded, killing three and injuring 176. The camera at a Boylston Street Lord & Taylor directly across the street from one of the blasts, has given investigators clear video of the area, according to the unnamed official."

Is this kind of surveillance evidence ok since it could result in bringing a bomber to justice, or do we take a hard line against non-warrant surveillance devices used in court?

Submission + - Game-changer in alternative energy? (

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers at Virginia Tech claim an advance in how hydrogen is created from plant material is a game-changer and can fundamentally alter the world's energy production. They say their process can extract large quantities of hydrogen from any plant by using xylose, the most abundant simple plant sugar, to produce a large quantity of hydrogen that previously was attainable only in theory. On top of that, they claim it uses renewable natural resources, releases almost no zero greenhouse gasses, and does not require costly or heavy metals.
Open Source

Submission + - Closed-source Linux Tycoon Now Available For DOS (

An anonymous reader writes: From a cube-shaped planet far from earth

From the deepest darkest corner of the deepest darkest dungeon of Bizarro World, Brian Lunduke releases Linux Tycoon, his closed-source game about an open source operating system for a closed source operating system no one uses. That’s right, you thought today’s earlier headlines were a pump-fake-pass for April Fool’s Day, but this takes things one step further. Linux Tycoon, the “premier Linux Distro Building Simulator game in the universe”, is now available for DOS.


Submission + - What is the NPV of your College Education? (

ryzvonusef writes: College is seen as a investment for a better future, but just just how good an investment is it?

One Redditor decided to use govt. databases (such as National Center for Education Statistics and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) to analyse it like any other investment, and calculate the NPV of various colleges and their individual degrees.

The Result: College education is a far more risky financial investment than presumed, and are no longer a guarantee to a stable middle class living.

Caveat: The reports are as good as the govt databases they are formed on, and currently do not factor in scholarships.

Submission + - Green Cars Have a Dirty Little Secret (

Ricyteach writes: A WSJ opinion piece explains why "green" cars aren't so green. The manufacturing process for EVs emits more than two times the amount of carbon as for conventional vehicle production. Although they are indirectly emitting only half as much carbon per mile, this means the EV would have to be driven over 93,000 miles before the carbon savings even begin; that's a tall order for cars which have short ranges, and require battery replacements (more carbon emitted) at high mileages. The current iteration of "green" cars may represent fantastic technology, but that technology needs to stand or fall on its own merits in the marketplace- through features, value, and consumer appeal- without perpetuating the fantasy that the energy they use is emission free.

Submission + - Why Moore's Law, not mobility, is killing the PC (

concealment writes: "After watching my mother-in-law happily troll Facebook and sling emails on her nearly ten-year-old Pentium 4 computer, however, an even more insidious possibility slipped into my head.

Did CPU performance reach a "good enough" level for mainstream users some years back? Are older computers still potent enough to complete an average Joe's everyday tasks, reducing the incentive to upgrade?

"It used to be you had to replace your PC every few years or you were way behind. If you didn't, you couldn't even run the latest software," says Linley Gwennap, the principal analyst at the Linley Group, a research firm that focuses on semiconductors and processors. "Now you can hold onto your PC five, six, seven years with no problem. Yeah, it might be a little slow, but not enough to really show up [in everyday use].""

Sun Microsystems

Submission + - Harvesting the sun's energy in a totally different way (

bigvibes writes: "A new method of harvesting the Sun’s energy is emerging, thanks to scientists at UC Santa Barbara’s Departments of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Materials. Though still in its infancy, the research promises to convert sunlight into energy using a process based on metals that are more robust than many of the semiconductors used in conventional methods. In the technology developed by Moskovits and his team, it is not semiconductor materials that provide the electrons and venue for the conversion of solar energy, but nanostructured metals — a “forest” of gold nanorods, to be specific. “When nanostructures, such as nanorods, of certain metals are exposed to visible light, the conduction electrons of the metal can be caused to oscillate collectively, absorbing a great deal of the light,” said Moskovits. “This excitation is called a surface plasmon.”"

Submission + - MIT's Patented Super Seeing Software Ready To Download (

mikejuk writes: A group of researchers at MIT CSAIL and Quanta Research Cambridge, MA applied very fundamental image processing techniques — spatial decomposition and temporal filtering — to standard video to show details that are normally very hard, if not impossible, to see. It works by tracking color variations in time at fixed locations in the image. If you point it at a human then you can see the blood flow as a color variation in the skin, you can see breathing patterns greatly exaggerated and you can see small vibrations as much larger movements.
The paper was presented about a year ago but now the MatLab software is available to download and try out. There is also a website where you can upload your own videos and see the result of processing. However the software isn't open source and there is a patent pending. So don't get any bright new ideas while trying the software out.
The MIT team are working on a smart phone app and it would make a killer Google Glass app — now that would be super vision.


Submission + - Senate Democrats Sequester Replacement Bill Adds Billions to Deficit (

RoccamOccam writes: White House-backed legislation in the Senate to replace $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts would raise the deficit through the end of the budget year by tens of billions of dollars, officials said late Wednesday as the two parties maneuvered for public support on economic issues.

So, as pointed out on, 'their "deficit reduction" plan entails defense cuts, new tax hikes, and adding to the deficit. No wonder these guys have avoided committing a budget to paper for the last four years.'

Submission + - Vacuum, Mirrors, and the Creation of Light (

gpronger writes: "So, when can you get something from nothing. How about something from a vacuum. Heisenburg's theory of uncertainty tell us, at the subatomic level we can never know precisely a particles position and momentum precisely. We've also been told that Nature Abhors a Vacuum, so spinning out of the Heisenburg theory, is that in a vacuum, there are meta-particle pairs winking in and out of existence. Quoting from the article;

"The researchers conducted a mirror experiment to show that by changing the position of the mirror in a vacuum, virtual particles can be transformed into real photons that can be experimentally observed. In a vacuum, there is energy and noise, the existence of which follows the uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics.

"If we act fast enough, we can prevent the particles from recombining—they will then be transformed into real particles that can be detected," says Dr. Sorin Paraoanu from the Aalto University School of Science."

In other words, they did it with mirrors, and I always thought that was just the providence of stage magicians."

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