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Comment Scientists also killed the oldest living organism (Score 5, Informative) 366

507 years is pretty old, but not quite as old as Prometheus : a ~5000 year old tree that was cut down in the 1960's so that it's rings could be counted. At the time of its demise, it was the world's oldest known living organism, and (as far as I know) no older organism is known to exist.

Comment Loose lips sink ships (Score 1) 52

The publication process in the biological sciences is very strange ... for some reason, people openly disclose their findings at conferences before submitting the relevant publications. Either you were first to publish or you weren't, and if you weren't, tough luck (not to discount the apparent fraud committed here).

It's must easier in computer science, since conference publications "count". Things can still get complicated (e.g., when one group submits to conference A while a similar paper was accepted - but not yet published - in conference B), but this is relatively rare, and most researchers would credit both groups with simultaneous discovery.

Comment Dear Microsoft ... (Score 2, Insightful) 199

Dear Microsoft,

Facebook tolerates you. It is thanks to them that you remain relevant. E.g., when Facebook Graph Search can't find a particular item, it currently defaults to Bing... but, that can easily change. Please, pretty please, just give them a reason to reconsider their allegiances, and I am sure they will happily discard you like the dead skin off a snake.

Never forget that the enemy of your enemy is your friend. Besides, if Facebook has taught us anything, it's that regardless of who had the idea first, it's execution ultimately that matters. If you have to tell people that you've won, you've lost.

Comment A PR stunt that ultimately endangers lives (Score 1) 69

As a few others have noted, there are a few sites out there (e.g., Google's crisis response and Sahana) that seek to match people in need with responders.

If this were any other application, I would argue that competition is good, but I fear that the fragmentation of services for disaster relief ultimately puts more lives at risk. Why doesn't Microsoft through its support & resources behind a well-established, widely-adopted system for collective disaster management? To provide yet another service that is disconnected from all others seems to invite confusion and reduce the power of the network effect.

The only answer I can think of is that Microsoft (lacking the same philanthropic reputation as its competitor, Google) wants to take all the credit. How noble.

Comment Now's your chance ... (Score 1) 368

... to snag that perfect e-mail address. Back in the days of hotmail, users would register addresses like Once gmail came around, they over-corrected and secured uber-professional addresses like, which turn out to be pain to type into tiny phone keypads (or read aloud over the phone).

Two of my friends have already picked up Get 'em before they're gone!

Comment Language! (Score 2) 311

From the last line of the article: "it’s a human thing to have a memory.”

Memory is not the real issue ... the real issue is language. Yes, dolphins, whales, birds, etc. can communicate, but not with an infinitely rich grammar. Many anthropologists (and, not surprisingly, linguists) believe that language is key to understanding the uniqueness of the human mind. To me, that's what makes brain cell implantation freaky.

Surely one cell is not too controversial. Two... maybe a little. But once you start down this path, think about where it could go:

Day 137: Rats seem to react to their names.
Day 409: Rats react to basic commands ("Go left" or "Go right")
Day 687: Rats are able to respond to simple yes/no questions ("Are you hungry?")
Day 992: Rat named Stickers cheeps one word: "Stop."

I'm not passing any judgement on this research ... just sayin' that we're entering some uncharted waters.

Submission + - Signing Up to Live in a Billboard (

An anonymous reader writes: A California company has come up with a unique, if not bizarre, way to make money and help homeowners buy time against foreclosure — turn their houses into billboards. And the company's CEO says it's an opportunity coming soon to homeowners in Florida.

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