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Comment Re:Not plastic (Score 1) 368

Steer towards gifts that have wider applications, e.g. don't get a telescope, get binoculars! Don't get a microscope, get a hand magnifying glass! Don't get a nature DVD, get a bird book!

I would tend to agree with avoiding "educational" products. However, getting a decent microscope, especially a USB one so you have your computer screen to look at instead of the tiny little eyepiece, is WAY cooler than a magnifying glass.

If you want to assemble a portable "field science" kit, I definitely agree:

Magnifying glass
A nice, bound, notebook with good pens
A butterfly net
Bird/insect identification book
Star chart
Good science coaching (that's where you come in)

Comment Re:Telescope (Score 3, Informative) 368

If you get a telescope for them, be sure to make it a decent reflector. One of the biggest ways people go wrong getting into stargazing is by getting a cheap telescope that is worse than a pair of binoculars. Not only is the result blurry, but you can't get enough light to see the fainter objects that are the most interesting. Contact your local astronomical society for a good deal on a used scope. You might even be able to get a mount for a digital camera so your kids can photograph what they see and send it to relatives or post online. A photo they take of the moon or Jupiter will really make them smile and be encouraged. If you get REALLY into it, you can check out some of the amateur research requests on AAVSO. :) But little steps at first.

Submission + - Sony sneaks ads back into Wipeout HD (

An anonymous reader writes: After fan outcry over ads that were patched into Wipeout HD (after it was already purchased, ad-free), Sony removed them. Now, they've quietly snuck them back in with patch 2.10:

"The 2.10 Update makes some small improvements to front-end functionality and addresses some minor issues with the audio. In addition, small issues that could affect gameplay or scores in the Eliminator and Detonator game modes have also been corrected.

Changes have also been made so that any adverts shown during loading screens will not adversely affect the loading times of the title. As many of you know, the functionality to display adverts during loading screens was first introduced in the 2.0 Update and originally didn’t function as intended, leading to extended loading times in some areas of the game.

This issue has now been resolved and we understand that a new advertising campaign in Wipeout HD is expected to launch across a number of European territories soon (no word yet on what is happening in North America). In the meantime, a range of PlayStation-specific ads will be making an appearance in the coming days."


Submission + - Motorcycle accident results in bionic bottom. ( 2

Noishe writes: A man involved in a motorcycle accident in the UK has been given an alternative to the dreaded colostomy bag. He now carries around a remote control to activate his "bionic bottom" made out of muscles taken from above his knee. The muscles were wrapped around his sphincter and then attached to electrodes that are controlled by a remote control he now carries in his pocket.

Submission + - ISS Toilet Malfunction: Urine Trouble Now (

smitty777 writes: Just hours before the launch of the Columbia, the Register is reporting on the breakdown of the, um, bathroom facilities on the ISS. The breakdown of the urine-recycling unit comes at an inopportune time, with 12 people holding reservations at club ISS. Speaking of recycling, it was also noted in the article that the astronauts were having to drink their own urine to compensate for the chronically broken $250 million machine. would seem to me that if you had one machine that had to work all the time, that this would be it.

Submission + - Caffeinated Alcoholic Drinks May Be Illegal ( 1

Anonymusing writes: The FDA has announced an investigation into the "safety and legality" of alcoholic beverages with caffeine in them. As the Wall Street Journal notes, two major beer companies (MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch) stopped produce caffeinated alcoholic drinks last year after reports of increased negative effects compared to caffeine-free alcohol. CNN notes that, according to FDA rules, "food additives require premarket approval based on data demonstrating safety submitted to the agency" — and caffeine is a food additive. The targeted beverage makers have 30 days to respond.

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