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Wine

Submission + - Red Wine and the Secret of Superconductivity (technologyreview.com)

cold fjord writes: Red wine is a popular marinade for meat, but it turns out that it may become a popular treatment for creating iron based superconductors as well: "Last year, a group of Japanese physicists grabbed headlines around the world by announcing that they could induce superconductivity in a sample of iron telluride by soaking it in red wine. They found that other alcoholic drinks also worked--white wine, beer, sake and so on--but red wine was by far the best. The question, of course, is why. What is it about red wine that does the trick? Today, these guys provide an answer, at least in part. Keita Deguchi at the National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, Japan, and a few buddies, say the mystery ingredient is tartaric acid and have the experimental data to show that it plays an important role in the process. . . It turns out that the best performer is a wine made from the gamay grape--for the connoisseurs, that's a 2009 Beajoulais from the Paul Beaudet winery in central France." Link to academic paper
Science

Submission + - Mountaintop Blasting to Mine the Sky with the Giant Magellan Telescope (scienceworldreport.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Astronomers have begun to blast 3 million cubic feet of rock from a mountaintop in the Chilean Andes to make room for what will be the world's largest telescope when completed near the end of the decade. The telescope will be located at the Carnegie Institution's Las Campanas Observatory-one of the world's premier astronomical sites, known for its pristine conditions and clear, dark skies. Over the next few months, more than 70 controlled blasts will break up the rock while leaving a solid bedrock foundation for the telescope and its precision scientific instruments.

Submission + - Neural networks used to predict parking tickets and auto theft (seattlepi.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The Seattle PI has news about a Seattle start-up training neural networks to predict human behaivor that results in parking tickets and auto theft. It's interesting to see technical folks using big data to open up the panopticon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panopticon) instead of creating new ones.
Image

8-Year-Olds Publish Scientific Bee Study Screenshot-sm 174

flintmecha writes "A group of British schoolchildren may be the youngest scientists ever to have their work published in a peer-reviewed journal. In a new paper in Biology Letters, children from Blackawton Primary School report that buff-tailed bumblebees can learn to recognize nourishing flowers based on colors and patterns. The paper itself is well worth reading. It's written entirely in the kids' voices, complete with sound effects (part of the Methods section is subtitled, ''the puzzle'duh duh duuuhhh') and figures drawn by hand in colored pencil."
Space

Aging Star System Leaves Strange Death Spiral 79

jamie tips a post at Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy blog about an extremely unusual astronomical phenomenon originating from a binary system about 3000 light years away. Quoting: "The name of this thing is AFGL 3068. It's been known as a bright infrared source for some time, but images just showed it as a dot. This Hubble image using the Advanced Camera for Surveys reveals an intricate, delicate and exceedingly faint spiral pattern. ... Red giants tend to blow a lot of their outer layers into space in an expanding spherical wind; think of it as a super-solar wind. The star surrounds itself with a cloud of this material, essentially enclosing it in a cocoon. In general the material isn't all that thick, but in some of these stars there is an overabundance of carbon in the outer layers which gets carried along in these winds. ... AFGL 3068 is a carbon star and most likely evolved just like this, but with a difference: it's a binary. As the two stars swing around each other, the wind from the carbon star doesn't expand in a sphere. Instead, we see a spiral pattern as the material expands."
The Almighty Buck

VISA Pulls Plug On ePassporte, Porn Webmasters 124

tsu doh nimh writes "Credit card giant VISA International has suspended its business with ePassporte, an Internet payment system widely used to pay adult Webmasters and a raft of other affiliate programs. A number of adult Webmaster forums are up in arms over the move because many of their funds are now stranded. Visa has been silent on the issue so far, but KrebsOnSecurity.com points to an e-mail from ePassporte founder Christopher Mallick saying the unexpected move by Visa wouldn't strand customers indefinitely. Mallick co-directed Middle Men, a Paramount film released in August that tells the story of his experience building one of the world's first porn site payment processing firms, as well as the Russian mobsters, porn stars and FBI agents he ran into along the way. Interestingly, the speculation so far is that Visa cut ties with ePassporte due to new anti-money laundering restrictions in the Credit Card Act of 2009, which affects prepaid cards and other payment card instruments that can be reloaded with funds at places other than financial institutions."
Graphics

Video Quality Matters Less If You Enjoy the Show 366

An anonymous reader writes "Rice University researchers say new studies show that if you like what you're watching, you're less likely to notice the difference in video quality of the TV show, Internet video or mobile movie clip, putting a lie to some of the more extravagant marketing claims of electronics manufacturers. 'If you're at home watching and enjoying a movie, we found that you're probably not going to notice or even concern yourself with how many pixels the video is or if the data is being compressed,' said the lead researcher. 'This strong relationship holds across a wide range of encoding levels and movie content when that content is viewed under longer and more naturalistic viewing conditions.'"
Intel

Rethinking Computer Design For an Optical World 187

holy_calamity writes "Technology Review looks at how some traditions of computer architecture are up for grabs with the arrival of optical interconnects like Intel's 50Gbps link unveiled last week. The extra speed makes it possible to consider moving a server's RAM a few feet from its CPUs to aid cooling and moving memory and computational power to peripherals like laptop docks and monitors."
Microsoft

Microsoft Unveils Street Slide Map UI 80

theodp writes "For show-and-tell at SIGGRAPH 2010, Microsoft Research brought Street Slide, 'a multi-perspective street slide panorama with navigational aides and mini-map.' Very slick (demo video). Technology Review explains that Street Slide stitches together slices from multiple panoramas, making it possible to see all the shops on a street at once. Someone using Street Slide's panoramic view can slide along the facades looking for places of interest (perhaps guided by logos or ads at the bottom), and zoom back in to a classic Bing Streetside bubble view at any time."
Yahoo!

The Demographics of Web Search 131

adaviel sends a link to work out of Yahoo Research indicating that demographics can help Web searches; e.g. a women searching for "wagner" probably wants the 18th-century German composer, while for men in the US "wagner" is a paint sprayer. The Yahoo researchers claim that by taking user demographics into account, "they managed to get the chosen link to appear as the top-ranked result 7 per cent more often than in the standard Yahoo search." New Scientist mentions this research and two other innovative adjuncts to current search practice: following the mouse cursor as a proxy for eye tracking, and taking back bearings on online criminals by studying the searches they make. (The latter raises disburbing privacy questions: would you want Google trolling through your search data? How about governments?)
Google

VP8 and H.264 Codecs Compared In Detail 170

An anonymous reader writes "Moscow State University's Graphics and Media lab have released their sixth MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 video codecs comparison. Also of note is a recently added appendix to the report which compares VP8, x264, and Xvid. The reference VP8 encoder holds its own against x264 despite the source material offering x264 a slight advantage. The VP8 developers comment in the report: 'We've been following the MSU tests since they began and respect the group's work. One issue we noticed in the test is that most input sequences were previously compressed using other codecs. These sequences have an inherent bias against VP8 in recompression tests. As pointed out by other developers, H.264 and MPEG-like encoders have slight advantages in reproducing some of their own typical artifacts, which helps their objective measurement numbers but not necessarily visual quality. This is reflected by relatively better results for VP8 on the only uncompressed input sequence, "mobile calendar."'"
Math

The Tuesday Birthday Problem 981

An anonymous reader sends in a mathematical puzzle introduced at the recent Gathering 4 Gardner, a convention of mathematicians, magicians, and puzzle enthusiasts held biannually in Atlanta. The Tuesday Birthday Problem is simply stated, but tends to mislead both intuitive and mathematically informed guesses. "I have two children, one of whom is a boy born on a Tuesday. What's the probability that my other child is a boy?" The submitter adds, "Believe it or not, the Tuesday thing is relevant. Well, sort of. It's ambiguous."
Math

First Self-Replicating Creature Spawned In Conway's Game of Life 241

Calopteryx writes "New Scientist has a story on a self-replicating entity which inhabits the mathematical universe known as the Game of Life. 'Dubbed Gemini, [Andrew Wade's] creature is made of two sets of identical structures, which sit at either end of the instruction tape. Each is a fraction of the size of the tape's length but, made up of two constructor arms and one "destructor," play a key role. Gemini's initial state contains three of these structures, plus a fourth that is incomplete. As the simulation progresses the incomplete structure begins to grow, while the structure at the start of the tape is demolished. The original Gemini continues to disassemble as the new one emerges, until after nearly 34 million generations, new life is born.'"

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