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Submission + - Solving the mystery of ancient stars with too many heavy metals

StartsWithABang writes: When you think about the stars in the sky, it takes some study to realize that the bluest, brightest stars are also the shortest lived. So when we look at a cluster of stars — or any stellar population — we can figure out how old it is by looking at the color and magnitude of the brightest, bluest main-sequence stars that are still alive. In general, the oldest objects are the reddest globular clusters, which formed when the Universe was only a few hundred million years old. Because the Universe was mostly hydrogen and helium at the time, enriched by relatively few generations of stars, these clusters tend to have very small amounts of heavy elements like iron, sometimes as little as 1% of what’s in our Sun. So when a star cluster has a color/magnitude diagram that says it's very old but a heavy element abundance that says it's relatively young, who wins? We all do, by learning more about how, when and where atomic riches accumulate in galaxies!
The Courts

Submission + - X-Rays show memory card still in digestive tract of accused hang glider. (

dumuzi writes: A hang glider instructor in British Columbia is accused of obstructing justice during a police investigation of the death of one of his passengers. Lenami Godinez's boyfriend bought her a hang gliding experience for their anniversery. Immediatly after take off Godinez began to fall. She struggled to hold onto the pilot William Orders, who attemped to help her according to bystanders. Godinez was unable to hang on and fell to her death. A police investigation revealed the memory card from the camera attached to the hang glider was missing and Orders was arrested for obstruction of justice. Several recent X-Rays show the memory card is making its way through Orders digestive tract while he is being held in custody. The card likely contains video evidence which is expected to be intact once the memory card is recovered.

Submission + - Facebook begins allowing users to download their collected data (

An anonymous reader writes: "Today, Facebook announced that they will provide its users with a download of all of the data it collects on them. In this data, it includes: chat logs, photos, friends. friend's emails, wit all posts, IP Addresses you have used, the previous names you have used, friend requests you have made, and more will be added soon. For the friend's emails, they only show users the emails that their friends have shared with them(so, if their email is listed as only viewable to them, or group you're not in, you can't see it). They also stated that this expanded archive will slowly roll out to all of the sites 845 million users.

Submission + - How Walmart Covered up Massive Corruption of Executives in Mexico (

An anonymous reader writes: In September 2005, a senior Wal-Mart lawyer received an alarming e-mail from a former executive at the company’s largest foreign subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico. In the e-mail and follow-up conversations, the former executive described how Wal-Mart de Mexico had orchestrated a campaign of bribery to win market dominance. In its rush to build stores, he said, the company had paid bribes to obtain permits in virtually every corner of the country. The former executive gave names, dates and bribe amounts. He knew so much, he explained, because for years he had been the lawyer in charge of obtaining construction permits for Wal-Mart de Mexico.

  In a confidential report to his superiors, Wal-Mart’s lead investigator, a former F.B.I. special agent, summed up their initial findings this way: “There is reasonable suspicion to believe that Mexican and USA laws have been violated.” The lead investigator recommended that Wal-Mart expand the investigation. Instead, an examination by The New York Times found, Wal-Mart’s leaders shut it down.


Submission + - Billionaires and polymaths to unveil a plan to mine asteroids. (

dumuzi writes: A team including Larry Page, Ram Shriram and Eric Schmidt (Google), James Cameron (Director), Charles Simonyi (Microsoft executive and astronaut), Ross Perot Jr. (son of Ross Perot), Chris Lewicki (NASA Mars mission manager), and Peter Diamandis (X-Prize) from a new company called Planatary Resources are expected to announce plans on April 24th to mine asteroids. A study by NASA released April 2nd claims a robotic mission could capture a 500 ton asteroid and bring it to orbit the moon for $2.6 billion. The additional cost to mine the asteroid and return the ores to Earth would make profit unlikely even if the asteriod was 20% gold. But with many raw materials on Earth expected to run out in 50-60 years perhaps now is the right time to invest in this project.

Submission + - First full observable universe simulation

slashmatteo writes: The goal of the DEUS project (Dark Energy Universe Simulation) is to investigate the imprints of dark energy on cosmic structure formation through high-performance numerical simulations. In order to do so, the project has conducted a simulation of the structuring of the entire observable universe, from the Big Bang to the present day. Thanks to the Curie super-computer, the simulation has made it possible to follow the evolution of 550 billion particles. Two other complementary runs are scheduled by the end of May. More details on the press release.

Submission + - In Soviet Russia, Bing Searches You!

theodp writes: A newly surfaced Microsoft patent application, reports GeekWire, describes a 'user-following engine' that analyzes your posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to deduce your mood, interests, and even your smarts. The system would then automatically adjust the search experience and results to better match those characteristics, explains Microsoft, such as changing the background color of the search interface to suit your mood, or bringing back only those search results that won't strain your feeble brain. From the patent application: 'In addition to skewing the search results to the user’s inferred interests, the user-following engine may further tailor the search results to a user’s comprehension level. For example, an intelligent processing module may be directed to discerning the sophistication and education level of the posts of a user. Based on that inference, the customization engine may vary the sophistication level of the customized search result.' So, is this the same technology the Microsoft Store used to determine I'd need a $49-an-hour Microsoft "personal trainer" to grasp Windows Live Photo Gallery, the same software that 4-and-a-half year-old Kylie mastered on her own?

Submission + - Studies Suggest Massive Increase in Scientific Fraud (

Titus Andronicus writes: Scientific fraud has always been with us. But as stated or suggested by some scientists, journal editors, and a few studies, the amount of scientific “cheating” has far outpaced the expansion of science itself. According to some, the financial incentives to “cut corners” have never been greater, resulting in record numbers of retractions from prestigious journals.

From the article: “For example, the journal Nature reported that published retractions had increased tenfold over the past decade, while the number of published papers had increased by just 44 percent.”


Submission + - Canadian bureacracy can't answer simple question: What's this study with NASA? (

Saint Aardvark writes: "It seemed like a pretty simple question about a pretty cool topic: an Ottawa newspaper wanted to ask Canada's National Research Council about a joint study with NASA on tracking falling snow in Canada. Conventional radar can see where it's falling, but not the amount — so NASA, in collaboration with the NRC, Environment Canada and a few universities, arranged flights through falling snow to analyse readings with different instruments. But when they contacted the NRC to get the Canadian angle, "it took a small army of staffers— 11 of them by our count — to decide how to answer, and dozens of emails back and forth to circulate the Citizen’s request, discuss its motivation, develop their response, and “massage” its text." No interview was given: "I am not convinced we need an interview. A few lines are fine. Please let me see them first," says one civil servant in the NRC emails obtained by the newspaper under the Access to Information act. By the time the NRC finally sorted out a boring, technical response, the newspaper had already called up a NASA scientist and got all the info they asked for; it took about 15 minutes."

Submission + - Amazon Patents Annotating Books, Digital Works 1

theodp writes: On Tuesday, the USPTO granted Amazon a patent on its Method and System for Providing Annotations of a Digital Work, which covers 'receiving an annotation of the digital work, storing the annotation, and providing the annotation to a user.' This includes annotations received in a graphical or handwriting format, as well as highlighting of text.
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Obama Pushes for Cheaper Pennies

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Time Magazine reports that hidden deep inside in the White House’s $3.8 trillion, 2,000-page budget that was sent to Congress this week is a proposal to make pennies and nickels cheaper to produce. Why? Because it currently costs the federal government 2.4 cents to make a penny and 11.2 cents for every nickel. If passed, the budget would allow the Treasury Department to “change the composition of coins to more cost-effective materials” resulting in changes that could save more than $100 million a year. Since 1982, our copper-looking pennies have been merely coppery. In the 1970s, the price of copper soared, so President Nixon proposed changing the penny’s composition to a cheaper aluminum. Today, only 2.5% of a penny is copper (which makes up the coin’s coating) while 97.5% is zinc. The mint did make steel pennies for one year — in 1943 — when copper was needed for the war effort and steel might be a cheaper alternative this time. What about the bill introduced in 2006 that the US abandon pennies altogether.? At the time, fifty-five percent of respondents considered the penny useful compared to 43 percent who agreed it should be eliminated. More telling, 76 percent of respondents said they would pick up a penny if they saw it on the ground."

Submission + - Why People Don't Live Past 114 ( 1

kkleiner writes: "Average life expectancy has nearly doubled in developed countries over the 20th century. But a puzzling part to the equation has emerged. While humans are in fact living longer lives on average, the oldest age that the oldest people reach seems to be stubbornly and oddly precisely cemented right at 114. What will it takes for humans to live beyond this limit?"

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A successful [software] tool is one that was used to do something undreamed of by its author. -- S. C. Johnson