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Comment Natural Resource (Score 5, Insightful) 263

You can't patent coal, or wood, so why should you be able to patent a natural resource like DNA? If they create something new from it, like a new allele or treatment, I'd say that's fair game. In the end, this is an extremely important ruling, but unfortunately it's probably not the end. It will probably require the Supreme Court to make a ruling. I don't see anyone involved giving up that easily.

Comment Amino Acids (Score 3, Interesting) 286

So... what they discovered is that limiting diets reduce reproduction at the expense of lifespan?

Color me skeptical, but this is not exactly new. It's well known that limited diets reduce reproductive metabolism in favor of survival. After all, what good is reproduction if you don't live to do it.

Now, I'm not saying this is all bunk. I don't know. What I am saying is that all this really proves is that methionine is necessary for egg-laying and lifespan in Drosophila. That's a far stretch from saying that reducing methionine increases lifespan in well-fed humans. In fact, what TFA says is that there is a discrepancy in studies. In fact, TFA doesn't even mention tryptophan, so I don't know where the submitter got that.

Unfortunately, I can't access the Nature article right now. However, I'll definitely be taking a look at it tomorrow, because I am extremely skeptical of these claims.

Comment Effectiveness (Score 3, Insightful) 317

While this is excellent news, and intriguing scientifically, an effectiveness of 31.8% is practically useless in vaccinating a population. Typically you need at least 70% of your population (varies based on virus) vaccinated before you start to see the effects of herd immunity. Even if they vaccinated everyone in Thailand, you wouldn't get this effect.

Furthermore, the low effectiveness is actually a liability; the end result could be mutations in the HIV virus that make it immune to the vaccine. This is part of the reason why the influenza vaccine has limited effectiveness - influenza, like HIV, has a tendency to mutate quickly. If a new strain comes along, like H1N1 for influenza, you're defenseless.

Finally, I think there's a problem with how the vaccine will be perceived. If the vaccine is only 30% effective, I think people will see that as being too risky to even get the shot. There's already (too much IMO) FUD out there against vaccines in general. If you think that you can get influenza from the flu vaccine, there's a strong aversion to taking the HIV vaccine. For a 30% chance at being immune, that's no good. If it were 100%, that would be a totally different story.

The Mindset of the Incoming College Freshmen 383

Beloit College has come out with its annual Mindset List of what the incoming class (of 2013) has always known and has never known. "For these students, ... the Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables. They have never used a card catalog to find a book. ... Tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible. ... Rap music has always been mainstream. ... Except for the present incumbent, the President has never inhaled. ... Amateur radio operators have never needed to know Morse code."

Firefox Beta Scores 93 On Acid3 Test 282

CodeShark writes "Mozilla released their latest Firefox 3.X beta today (3.5b4), and increased their score on the Acid 3 test to 93 [on my XP laptop], with tests 70, 71, and tests 75-79 being the final challenges. Curiously though, the current release of the top Acid3 performer — Safari — still not only rates higher (I got scores of 99 once and 100 most of the time) but is usually faster by a little (1.1 sec avg. vs. 1.4 over ten runs apiece) but only because the new Firefox beta was all over the map — frequently better by 25% (.85sec) or tanking badly with rendering times in the 2.5 — 3 second range, and both suffer performance hits on one test (#69)."

WHO Raises Swine Flu Threat Level 557

Solarch writes "Late in the afternoon on Wednesday, the WHO raised the pandemic threat level for H1N1 "swine flu" to 5. Global media outlets(such as CNN, Fox News, and the BBC) preempted normal broadcast coverage and immediately published stories on their websites. To clarify, the WHO's elevation is mainly a sign to governments that the virus is spreading quickly and that steps should be taken on a governmental level to stage supplies and medicines to combat a possible pandemic. Unfortunately, broadcast coverage focused on phrases like 'pandemic imminent' (CNN marquee). In other news, patient zero, the medical term for the initial human vector of a disease, has been tentatively identified in Mexico."

Comment Pedantry (Score 1) 74

Nitpicking here, since the original site requires an account to post...

First, while technically there are 16 core classes, in reality that number is 17 counting the Swordmage. This is slated to be expanded upon in Arcane Power, and has had material released in DDI. It's clear WotC considers this a fully realized class (Arcane Defender, for those interested), as much as any other class in the PHBs.

Second, Deva is a re-imagined Aasimar. It may be unfair to the author, but I have to question the opinion of any author that would write a piece and not realize this - especially since WotC has indicated this is the case. It throws a giant monkey-wrench into the credibility of the article, from a long-time D&D player's (ie, my) perspective.


The Inexact Science of Carbon Neutrality 302

snydeq writes "Sustainable IT's Ted Samson raises questions regarding the purchasing of carbon offsets, a practice growing in popularity among tech companies such as Dell, Yahoo, and Google in an attempt to achieve 'carbon neutrality.' Essentially financial instruments, carbon offsets enable companies to invest money in sustainable endeavors in an attempt to counteract the carbon footprint they incur conducting their business. But as a recent article in the Wall Street Journal shows, measuring the value of these carbon offsets is tricky business, as some recipients of offsets say the results of their sustainable efforts would be achieved regardless of any one company's investment. 'The question of whether carbon offsets hold value just scratches the surface of the overall carbon-neutrality question,' Samson writes. 'For the time being, there isn't even a consistent approach to measuring an organization's carbon footprint in the first place. And if you don't know how much CO2 you're responsible for, how do you know how much offsetting is necessary to become neutral?'"

RIM Accuses Motorola of Blocking Job Offers 353

theodp writes "Taking a page from the insanely-jealous-husband-playbook, Motorola management has adopted an if-I-can't-have-you-nobody-can stance on its fired employees, reportedly blocking RIM from offering jobs to laid-off workers. In a complaint filed in state court, Motorola is charged with improperly trying to expand a previous agreement 'to prevent the RIM entities from hiring any Motorola employees, including the thousands of employees Motorola has already fired or will fire.' Through its Compete America membership, Motorola has repeatedly warned Congress that failing to accommodate the lobbying group members' 'principled' demand for timely access to talent would not be in the United States' economic interest and would make the US second-rate in education and basic research."

Comment Star Control II (Score 4, Insightful) 125

I understand that they want to make a sequel to Star Control II, and that's awesome. However, I think that ship has long since passed. If they were really serious about carrying on the spirit of the game, they could simply make a new game in the Star Control style with a new background. That's why they're called "spiritual successors." I know that's not a true sequel, but that's about as good to one as we're going to get.

New Bill To Rein In DHS Laptop Seizures 311

twigles writes with news of a new proposed bill that seeks to curtail DHS's power to search and seize laptops at the border without suspicion of wrongdoing. Here is Sen. Feingold's press release on the bill. The new bill has more privacy-protecting safeguards than the previous one, which we discussed last month. "The Travelers Privacy Protection Act, a bill written by US Senators Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., would allow border agents to search electronic devices only if they had reasonable suspicions of wrongdoing. In addition, the legislation would limit the length of time that a device could be out of its owner's possession to 24 hours, after which the search becomes a seizure, requiring probable cause."
The Courts

5th Circuit May Stop Patent Troll "Forum Shopping" 76

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Why is a 5th Circuit product liability case getting interest from lawyers all over the country? Because it might put an end to forum shopping by 'non practicing entities' (patent trolls) who prefer to file in the Eastern District of Texas, no matter how little relevance that forum has to their case. Thanks to the rules involving 28 U.S.C. 1404(a) motions and patent cases, people who get sued in Marshall, Texas usually can't get the case transferred elsewhere, even though that forum is seen as unreasonably favorable for patent plaintiffs. But, if the panel of judges in In Re: Volkswagen rules the way some anticipate, that could all change, and there are no less than six amici curiae who have filed briefs arguing both sides of it."

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