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Graphics

The First Photograph of a Human 138

wiredog writes "The Atlantic has a brief piece on what is likely to be the first photograph (a daguerreotype) showing a human. From the article: 'In September, Krulwich posted a set of daguerreotypes taken by Charles Fontayne and William Porter in Cincinnati 162 years ago, on September 24, 1848. Krulwich was celebrating the work of the George Eastman House in association with the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Using visible-light microscopy, the George Eastman House scanned several plates depicting the Cincinnati Waterfront so that scholars could zoom in and study the never-before-seen details.'"
United Kingdom

Badgers Digging Up Ancient Human Remains 172

One of England's oldest graveyards is under siege by badgers. Rev Simon Shouler now regularly patrols the grounds of St. Remigius Church looking for bones that the badgers have dug up. The badger is a protected species in England so they can not be killed, and attempts to have them relocated have been blocked by English Nature. From the article: "At least four graves have been disturbed so far; in one instance a child found a leg bone and took it home to his parents. ... Rev. Simon Shouler has been forced to carry out regular patrols to pick up stray bones, store them and re-inter them all in a new grave."
Science

The Proton Just Got Smaller 289

inflame writes "A new paper published in Nature has said that the proton may be smaller than we previously thought. The article states 'The difference is so infinitesimal that it might defy belief that anyone, even physicists, would care. But the new measurements could mean that there is a gap in existing theories of quantum mechanics. "It's a very serious discrepancy," says Ingo Sick, a physicist at the University of Basel in Switzerland, who has tried to reconcile the finding with four decades of previous measurements. "There is really something seriously wrong someplace."' Would this indicate new physics if proven?"
Earth

German Airports Use Bees To Monitor Air Quality 44

The Düsseldorf International Airport and seven other airports in Germany have come up with a unique way of monitoring air quality; they use bees. The airports test the bees' honey twice a year for toxins, and batches that turn up clean are bottled and given away. From the article: "Assessing environmental health using bees as 'terrestrial bioindicators' is a fairly new undertaking, said Jamie Ellis, assistant professor of entomology at the Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory, University of Florida in Gainesville. 'We all believe it can be done, but translating the results into real-world solutions or answers may be a little premature.' Still, similar work with insects to gauge water quality has long been successful."
Australia

A Quantum Memory Storage Prototype 114

eldavojohn writes "An Australian National University project has completed a proof-of-concept storage unit that relies on bringing light to a standstill inside a crystal and then releasing it later for a read-once storage device. There are a few complexities to work out, such as the -270 degrees Celsius requirement to stop the light. And there is an interesting side effect noted by the team lead: 'We could entangle the quantum state of two memories, that is, two crystals. According to quantum mechanics, reading out one memory will instantly alter what is stored in the other, no matter how large the distance between them. According to relativity, the way time passes for one memory is affected by how it moves. With a good quantum memory, an experiment to measure how these fundamental effects interact could be as simple as putting one crystal in the back of my car and going for a drive.' Hopefully this will lead to a better understanding and simple testing of quantum entanglement."
Firefox

Firefox Lorentz Keeps Plugin Crashes Under Control 115

pastababa writes "A beta of the Firefox Lorentz project is now available for download and public testing. Eming reports Firefox 'Lorentz' provides uninterrupted browsing for Windows and Linux users when there is a crash in plugins. Plugins run in a separate process from the browser. If a plugin crashes it will not crash the browser, and unresponsive plugins are automatically restarted. The process-isolation feature has been in Google's Chrome from the beginning. Chrome sandboxes individual tabs, and the crash of one tab does not affect the running of the rest of Chrome browser. Firefox currently isolates only Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime, and Microsoft Silverlight, but will eventually isolate all plugins running on a page. Mozilla encourages users to test Firefox 'Lorentz' on their favorite websites. Users who install Firefox 'Lorentz' will eventually be automatically updated to a future version of Firefox 3.6 in which this feature is included."
Technology

Iron Alloy Could Create Earthquake-Proof Buildings 107

separsons writes "Researchers at Japan's Tohoku University designed a new shape memory metal alloy. The super elastic iron alloy can endure serious stretching and still return to its original shape. The scientists say that once optimized, the material could be used in everything from braces to medical stents to earthquake-proof buildings!"
Power

Printable Batteries Should Arrive Next Year 92

FullBandwidth writes "Paper-thin batteries that can be printed onto greeting cards or other flexible substrates have been demonstrated at Fraunhofer Research Institution for Electronic Nano Systems in Germany. The batteries have a relatively short life span, as the anode and cathode materials dissipate over time. However, they contain no hazardous materials."
Technology

Several Quantum Calculations Combined At NIST 91

Al writes "Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated a crucial step toward building a practical quantum computer: multiple computing operations on quantum bits. The NIST team performed five quantum logic operations and 10 transport operations (meaning they moved the qubit from one part of the system to another) in series, while reliably maintaining the states of their ions — a tricky task because the ions can easily be knocked out of their prepared state. The researchers used beryllium ions stored within so-called ion traps and added magnesium ions to keep the beryllium ones cool and prevent them from losing their quantum state." In related news, another reader links to an Australian study indicating that quantum computers "can continue to work perfectly even if half their components, or qubits, are missing."
Security

XML Library Flaw — Sun, Apache, GNOME Affected 140

bednarz writes with this excerpt from Network World: "Vulnerabilities discovered in XML libraries from Sun, the Apache Software Foundation, the Python Software Foundation and the GNOME Project could result in successful denial-of-service attacks on applications built with them, according to Codenomicon. The security vendor found flaws in XML parsers that made it fairly easy to cause a DoS attack, corruption of data, and delivery of a malicious payload using XML-based content. Codenomicon has shared its findings with industry and the open source groups, and a number of recommendations and patches for the XML-related vulnerabilities are expected to be made available Wednesday. In addition, a general security advisory is expected to be published by the Computer Emergency Response Team in Finland (CERT-FI)."
Displays

Mind-Blowing Interfaces On Display At SIGGRAPH 2009 173

An anonymous reader writes "Tech Review has a roundup of some cool, experimental new interfaces being shown at SIGGRAPH 2009, underway in New Orleans this week. They include an amazing 'touchable holograph' display, developed by a team in Japan, which uses an ultrasound device to simulate the sense of touch as the user grasps objects shown in 3D. The other ideas on display are Augmented Reality for Ordinary Toys, Hyper-Realistic Virtual Reality, 3D Teleconferencing and Scratchable Input Devices. If this is the future of computers, sign me up." The conference has also seen the release of OpenGL 3.2 by the Khronos Group.
Medicine

Swearing Provides Pain Relief, Say Scientists 230

Hugh Pickens writes "Scientific American reports that although cursing is notoriously decried in the public debate, scientists have discovered that swearing may serve an important function in relieving pain. 'Swearing is such a common response to pain that there has to be an underlying reason why we do it,' says Richard Stephens of Keele University in England. A study measured how long college students could keep their hands immersed in cold water. During the chilly exercise, they could repeat an expletive of their choice or chant a neutral word. When swearing, the 67 student volunteers reported less pain and on average endured about 40 seconds longer. How swearing achieves its physical effects is unclear, but the researchers speculate that brain circuitry linked to emotion is involved. Earlier studies have shown that unlike normal language, which relies on the outer few millimeters in the left hemisphere of the brain, expletives hinge on evolutionarily ancient structures buried deep inside the right half like the amygdala, an almond-shaped group of neurons that can trigger a fight-or-flight response in which our heart rate climbs and we become less sensitive to pain."
Government

Unsung, Unpaid Coders Behind Federal IT Dashboard 99

theodp writes "The Federal CIO got a standing ovation for the new Federal IT Dashboard. Federal contractors got the cash. But sneak a peek at the 'customcode' directory behind the Dashboard, and you'll see that some individuals also helped bring it to life with their free software. For starters, there's Timothy Groves' Auto Suggest (Creative Commons License), Alf Magne Kalleland's Ajax Tooltip and Dynamic List (GNU Lesser General Public License), and Gregory Wild-Smith's Simple AJAX Code-Kit (SACK) (modified X11 License)."
Hardware Hacking

Hydraulic Analog Computer From 1949 184

mbone writes "In the New York Times, there is an interesting story about a hydraulic analog computer from 1949 used to model the feedback loops in the economy. According to the article, 'copies of the 'Moniac,' as it became known in the United States, were built and sold to Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, Ford Motor Company and the Central Bank of Guatemala, among others.' There is a cool video of the computer in operation at Cambridge University. I remember that the Instrumentation Lab at MIT still had an analog computer in its computer center in the mid-1970s. Even then, it seemed archaic, and now this form of computation is largely forgotten. With 14 machines built, it must have been one of the more successful analog computers — a supercomputer of its day. Of course, you have to wonder if it could have been used to predict our current economic difficulties."
Transportation

USNS Hoyt S. Vandenberg To Be Sunk For a Reef 169

caffiend666 writes "On Wednesday the USNS Hoyt S. Vandenberg is to be sunk in 140 feet of water off of Key West to become the world's second largest artificial reef. (The largest was created by sinking the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany off of Pensacola, Florida, in 2006.) The Vandenberg was built in 1943 (chronology) and commissioned the USS Gen. Harry Taylor. In 1963 the Air Force took it over and recommissioned it, naming it after the Air Force general. For decades the ship served as a missile tracker and space relay. It was used in NASA's Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo projects and the Shuttle program. The Vandenberg was the set for some of the scenes in the '90s movie Virus as the Russian MIR relay station. Soon it will become one of the world's most awesome diving spots."

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