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HIV Tracking Technology Could Pinpoint Who's Infecting Who 203

Daniel_Stuckey writes "No man is an island, but evolutionarily, each person functions like one for the HIV virus. That's according to Thomas Leitner, a researcher working on a project aimed at creating technology for tracking HIV through a population. The technology, which is being studied at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, may allow people to identify who infected them with the virus, a development that could have major implications in criminal proceedings. "If you're familiar with Darwin's finches, you have a population of birds on one island and they keep moving and evolving as they spread to other islands so that each population is a little different," Leitner said. "With HIV, it's the same. Every person infected with HIV has a slightly different form of the virus. It's the ultimate chameleon because it evolves this way.""

Moore's Law and the Origin of Life 272

DoctorBit writes "MIT Technology Review is running a story about an arXiv paper in which geneticists Alexei A. Sharov and Richard Gordon propose that life as we know it originated 9.7 billion years ago. The researchers estimated the genetic complexity of phyla in the paleontological record by counting the number of non-redundant functional nucleotides in typical genomes of modern day descendants of each phylum. When plotting genetic complexity against time, the researchers found that genetic complexity increases exponentially, just as with Moore's law, but with a doubling rate of about once every 376 million years. Extrapolating backwards, the researchers estimate that life began about 4 billion years after the universe formed and evolved the first bacteria just before the Earth was formed. One might image that the supernova debris that formed the early solar system could have included bacteria-bearing chunks of rock from doomed planets circling supernova progenitor stars. If true, this retro-prediction has some interesting consequences in partly resolving the Fermi Paradox. Another interesting consequence for those attempting to recreate life's origins in a lab: bacteria may have evolved under conditions very different from those on earth."

Comment Not quite a valid point (Score 1) 461

I see your point, and the summary makes for good hyperbole, but the average student at Purdue (Main campus, 2011) who qualifies for grant aid received $5,496 in Federal grant aid, $5,158 in State / Local grant aid, and $5,405 in institutional grant aid. That's $16,059 a year, x 4 years = $64,236. Only 44% of students took out loans in 2011, at an average of $6,480 each, extrapolating to $25,920 borrowed over 4 years--which is less than many car loans, I'd imagine.
Data is from NCES IPEDS.
Most students DO NOT pay the sticker price for higher education.

Comment GBT Going Out of Business (Score 3, Interesting) 224

This is the second post I've seen in as many days on Green Bank, and no mention of the fact that the NSF is planning on closing the facility to save money. Green Bank is the largest movable radio telescope in the world. If you feel--like I do--that this would be a detriment to the nation, please sign the petition or, even better, write your Congressperson.
The Courts

Andrew Auernheimer Case Uncomfortably Similar To Aaron Swartz Case 400

TrueSatan writes "Andrew Auernheimer doesn't appear suicidal, no thanks to U.S. prosecutors, yet he has been under attack for his act of altering an API URL that revealed a set of user data and posting details of same. 'In June of 2010 there was an AT&T webserver on the open Internet. There was an API on this server, a URL with a number at the end. If you incremented this number, you saw the next iPad 3G user email address. I thought it was egregiously negligent for AT&T to be publishing a complete target list of iPad 3G owners, and I took a sample of the API output to a journalist at Gawker.' Auernheimer has been under investigation from that point onward, with restrictions on his freedom and ability to earn a living that are grossly disproportionate to any perceived crime. This is just as much a case of legislative overreach and the unfettered power of prosecutors as was Swartz's case."

Learn Basic Programming So You Aren't At the Mercy of Programmers 313

An anonymous reader writes "Derek Sivers, creator of online indie music store CD Baby, has a post about why he thinks basic programming is a useful skill for everybody. He quotes a line from a musician he took guitar lessons from as a kid: "You need to learn to sing. Because if you don't, you're always going to be at the mercy of some a****** singer." Sivers recommends translating that to other areas of life. He says, 'The most common thing I hear from aspiring entrepreneurs is, "I have this idea for an app or site. But I'm not technical, so I need to find someone who can make it for me." I point them to my advice about how to hire a programmer, but as most of the good ones are already booked solid, it's a pretty helpless position to be in. If you heard someone say, "I have this idea for a song. But I'm not musical, so I need to find someone who will write, perform, and record it for me." — you'd probably advise them to just take some time to sit down with a guitar or piano and learn enough to turn their ideas into reality. And so comes my advice: Yes, learn some programming basics. Just some HTML, CSS, and JavaScript should be enough to start. ... You don't need to become an expert, just know the basics, so you're not helpless.'"

Comment Kids^W Scientists these days (Score 1) 44

I hope everyone on this team has read The Double Helix, so they know just how much imaginative work was done back in the day to figure out what they just confirmed visually. While writing that I also had the amusing thought that I hope James Watson calls them up and tells them to get off his lawn.

Comment Shift (Score 1) 110

I don't know what says more about the change in the average Slashdot reader--the fact that the summary for this story assumes that the reader doesn't know anything at all about BGP, or the fact that this is the first comment to bemoan that.


Researchers Using AI To Build Robotic Bees 44

An anonymous reader writes "British researchers at the Universities of Sussex and Sheffield are developing a computer model of a bee's brain that they hope can help scientists better understand the brains of more-complex animals, such as humans, and perhaps power artificial intelligence systems for bee-like robots. Called 'Green Brain,' the project is trying to advance the science of AI beyond systems that just follow a predetermined set of rules, and into an area where AI systems can actually act autonomously and respond to sensory signals."

Comment Re:Installing the new version... (Score 1) 183

I remember taking up a row of the 24-hour computer lab at school at 2am or so (to have an available row); I'd clear all the chairs out but one, log in to each PC, and then start downloading--FTP'ing directly to A:--like the carriage in a typewriter. By the time I had started the disk on the rightmost computer, the one on the leftmost machine would be finished downloading. Rollll to the left, repeat! Good memories.


Hotmail No Longer Accepts Long Passwords, Shortens Them For You 497

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft doesn't like long passwords. In fact, the software giant not only won't let you use a really long one in Hotmail, but the company recently started prompting users to only enter the first 16 characters of their password. Let me rephrase that: if you have a password that has more than 16 characters, it will no longer work. Microsoft is making your life easier! You no longer have to input your whole password! Just put in the first 16 characters!" At least they warn you; I've run into some sites over the years that silently drop characters after an arbitrary limit.

Ask Slashdot: Open Source Employee Vacation-Day Tracking Software? 108

First time accepted submitter sprior writes "I'm looking for preferably open source software that a business would use to track vacation/sick days for employees and so far have come up empty. I found WaypointHR which looks defunct and I'm looking at OrangeHRM which looks half defunct, half bait and switch, and half strange in general with a bunch of website bugs thrown in. Along the way I've seen a couple of other OS projects which look defunct as well. I realize that a solution might be more than just vacation tracking because once you configure the employee info for a company you tend to want to use that for more than one thing. Paid solutions are a possibility."

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