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Submission + - Why are the world's scientists continuing to take chances with smallpox? (thebulletin.org)

Lasrick writes: MIT's Jeanne Guillemin looks at the recent blunders with smallpox and H5N1 at the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health to chronicle the fascinating history of smallpox eradication efforts and the attempts (thwarted by Western scientists) to destroy lab collections of the virus in order to make it truly extinct. 'In 1986, with no new smallpox cases reported, the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO, resolved to destroy the strain collections and make the virus extinct. But there was resistance to this; American scientists in particular wanted to continue their research.' Within a few years, secret biological warfare programs were discovered in Moscow and in Iraq, and a new flurry of defensive research was funded. Nevertheless, Guillemin and others believe that changes in research methods, which no longer require the use of live viruses, mean that stocks of the live smallpox virus can and should finally be destroyed.

Submission + - Researchers fully 'delete' HIV from human cells for the first time

mrspoonsi writes: So far, HIV has eluded a cure because it installs its genome into human DNA so insidiously that it's impossible for our immune system to clear it out. While current treatments are effective, a lifetime of toxic drugs are required to prevent its recurrence. But researchers from Temple University may have figured out a way to permanently excise it using a highly-engineered HIV "editor." Here's how it works: the team analyzed a part of our immune system that fights infection and built a "guide RNA" strand consisting of 20 nucleotides (RNA building blocks). Those strands were then injected into cells typically infected with HIV, like T-cells. There, they targeted the end parts of the virus's gene and snipped out all 9,709 nucleotides that made up its genome. Since the guide RNA strand contained no human DNA sequences, it left the host cell intact — but free from HIV.

Submission + - How Rising Seas Could Sink Nuclear Plants On The East Coast (huffingtonpost.com)

mdsolar writes: "During the 1970s and 1980s, when many nuclear reactors were first built, most operators estimated that seas would rise at a slow, constant rate. That is, if the oceans rose a fraction of an inch one year, they could be expected to rise by the same amount the next year and every year in the future.

But the seas are now rising much faster than they did in the past, largely due to climate change, which accelerates thermal expansion and melts glaciers and ice caps. Sea levels rose an average of 8 inches between 1880 and 2009, or about 0.06 inches per year. But in the last 20 years, sea levels have risen an average of 0.13 inches per year — about twice as fast.

And it's only getting worse. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has laid out four different projections for estimated sea level rise by 2100. Even the agency's best-case scenario assumes that sea levels will rise at least 8.4 inches by the end of this century. NOAA's worst-case scenario, meanwhile, predicts that the oceans will rise nearly 7 feet in the next 86 years.

But most nuclear power facilities were built well before scientists understood just how high sea levels might rise in the future. And for power plants, the most serious threat is likely to come from surges during storms. Higher sea levels mean that flooding will travel farther inland, creating potential hazards in areas that may have previously been considered safe. During Superstorm Sandy, for example, flooding threatened the water intake systems at the Oyster Creek and Salem nuclear power plants in New Jersey. As a safety precaution, both plants were powered down. But even when a plant is not operating, the spent fuel stored on-site, typically uranium, will continue to emit heat and must be cooled using equipment that relies on the plant's own power. Flooding can cause a loss of power, and in serious conditions it can damage backup generators. Without a cooling system, reactors can overheat and damage the facility to the point of releasing radioactive material."

Submission + - How to approve the use of open source on the job

Czech37 writes: If you work in an organization that isn’t focused on development, where computer systems are used to support other core business functions, getting management buy-in for the use of open source can be tricky. Here's how an academic librarian negotiated with his management to get them to give open source software a try, and the four words he recommends you avoid using.

Submission + - Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans as Antarctic Ice Melts (nytimes.com) 2

mdsolar writes: The collapse of large parts of the ice sheet in West Antarctica appears to have begun and is almost certainly unstoppable, with global warming accelerating the pace of the disintegration, two groups of scientists reported Monday.

The finding, which had been feared by some scientists for decades, means that a rise in global sea level of at least 10 feet may now be inevitable. The rise may continue to be relatively slow for at least the next century or so, the scientists said, but sometime after that it will probably speed up so sharply as to become a crisis.

Submission + - There's got to be more than the Standard Model

StartsWithABang writes: The Standard Model of particle physics is perhaps the most successful physical theory of our Universe, and with the discovery and measurement of the Higgs boson, may be all there is as far as fundamental particles accessible through terrestrial accelerator physics. But there are at least five verified observations we've made, many in a variety of ways, that demonstrably show that the Standard Model cannot be all there is to the Universe. Here are the top 5 signs of new physics.

Feed Google News Sci Tech: UN scientists see grim future if no climate action - Bangkok Post (google.com)


Times of India

UN scientists see grim future if no climate action
Bangkok Post
UN scientists are set to deliver their darkest report yet on the impacts of climate change, pointing to a future stalked by floods, drought, conflict and economic damage if carbon emissions go untamed. UN scientists are set to deliver their darkest report yet on...
Asia likely to face worst effects of global warming, warn expertsBusiness Standard
Climate: UN scientists see grim future if no actionKhaleej Times
Letter: Scientists right, climate change deniers wrongFlorida Today

all 90 news articles

Feed Google News Sci Tech: Asia likely to face worst effects of global warming, warn experts - Daily News & (google.com)


Daily News & Analysis

Asia likely to face worst effects of global warming, warn experts
Daily News & Analysis
People living in coastal regions of Asia could face the worst effects of global warming. Climate experts warned that flooding, famine and rising sea levels will put hundreds of millions at risk in one of the world's most vulnerable regions. According to the...
Letter: Scientists right, climate change deniers wrongFlorida Today
Climate: UN scientists see grim future if no actionFocus News
Global warming to hit Asia hardest, warns new report on climate changeThe Guardian
The Oregonian
all 90 news articles

Submission + - Mindfulness apps can be more effective than traditional meditation methods

vrml writes: No scientific studies of the effectiveness of mindfulness apps were available so far, but the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies has now published a research that contrasts an interactive mindfulness app with two traditional, non-interactive techniques (one is the centuries-old meditation in which people imagine their thoughts as passing clouds, the other is a card-based technique) on a sample of novice meditators. The app was not only effective, but it also obtained better results than traditional techniques in terms of achieved mindfulness, perceived level of difficulty and degree of pleasantness. Researchers have thus decided to make it freely downloadable for Android as well as Apple devices. A pre-print version of the research paper is available at this link .

Submission + - Algorithm Reveals Objects Hidden Behind Other Things In Camera Phone Images (medium.com)

KentuckyFC writes: Imaging is undergoing a quiet revolution at the moment thanks to various new techniques for extracting data from images. Now physicists have worked out how to create an image of an object hidden behind a translucent material using little more than an ordinary smartphone and some clever data processing. The team placed objects behind materials that scatter light such as onion skin, frosted glass and chicken breast tissue. They photographed them using a Nokia Lumina 1020 smartphone, with a 41 megapixel sensor. To the naked eye, the resulting images look like random speckle. But by treating the data from each pixel separately and looking for correlations between pixels, the team was able to produce images of the hidden objects. They even photographed light scattered off a white wall and recovered an image of the reflected scene--a technique that effectively looks round corners. The new technique has applications in areas such as surveillance and medical imaging.

Submission + - Pluto Regains Its Title as Largest Object in Its Neighborhood (sciencemag.org)

sciencehabit writes: In 2005 astronomers discovered Pluto's biggest neighborhood rival: Eris, which they claimed definitely surpassed Pluto in size. Now, as astronomers report an analysis of methane gas in Pluto's atmosphere suggests that Pluto is about 2368 kilometers across, in which case it's larger than Eris and thus the champ of the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt, which boasts more than a thousand known objects revolving around the sun beyond Neptune's orbit.

Submission + - Is DIY brainhacking safe? (ieee.org)

An anonymous reader writes: My colleague at IEEE Spectrum, Eliza Strickland, looked at the home transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) movement. People looking to boost creativity, or cure depression, are attaching electrodes to their heads using either DIT equipment or rigs from vendors like Foc.us. Advocates believe experimenting with the tech is safe, but a neuroscientist worries about removing the tech from lab safeguards...

Submission + - Helium Discovered Under Yellowstone National Park (ibtimes.com)

minty3 writes: Vast stores of helium that have accumulated in the Earth’s crust for up to 2 billion years are escaping through volcanic rocks beneath the national park, a new study published in the journal Nature suggests. The helium, which is being released at about 60 tons per year, is due to the advent of volcanic activity in the region over the past 2 million years.

Submission + - Elon Musk Talks Tesla, Apple, Model X (slashdot.org)

Nerval's Lobster writes: Tesla CEO Elon Musk admitted in a Bloomberg interview that he had engaged in “conversations” with Apple, but refused to disclose the content of those talks. Rumors have circulated for several days that Apple executives met with Musk last spring about a possible acquisition. An anonymous source with knowledge of those discussions told SFGate.com that discussions included Adrian Perica, who heads up Apple’s M&A division, and possibly Apple CEO Tim Cook. “Both [Tesla and Apple] have built brands based on advanced engineering and stylish user-friendly design,” the newspaper noted. “And each company has become a symbol of Silicon Valley innovation—even among people who don’t own their products.” But in the interview, Musk framed an acquisition as “very unlikely,” mostly because it would distract Tesla from its goal of building an affordable electric car. “I don’t see any scenario,” he added, in which Tesla could juggle the issues associated with a takeover while producing vehicles that met his perfectionist standards. He did suggest, however, that Apple’s iOS and Google Android could find their respective ways into Tesla’s in-vehicle software. Tesla executives once considered integrating an early version of Android into the company’s first electric cars, but the software ultimately wasn’t ready to serve as an automotive application. Nonetheless, Musk could see iOS or Android within the context of a “projected mode or emulator” that would allow someone to use applications while driving, although “that’s peripheral to the goal of Tesla.”

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