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The Taste Of Space Screenshot-sm 81

It turns out that space tastes like raspberries and not Tang or freeze-dried ice cream as one might suspect. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy were searching for evidence of amino acids in space when they found ethyl formate, the chemical used in to make raspberry flavoring. The astronomers used the IRAM telescope in Spain to analyze electromagnetic radiation emitted by a hot and dense region of Sagittarius B2 that surrounds a newborn star. Astronomer Arnaud Belloche said, "It [ethyl formate] does happen to give raspberries their flavour, but there are many other molecules that are needed to make space raspberries."
Medicine

Obama To Reverse Bush Limits On Stem Cell Work 508

An anonymous reader sends this quote from the Associated Press: "Reversing an eight-year-old limit on potentially life-saving science, President Barack Obama plans to lift restrictions Monday on taxpayer-funded research using embryonic stem cells. ... Under President George W. Bush, taxpayer money for that research was limited to a small number of stem cell lines that were created before Aug. 9, 2001, lines that in many cases had some drawbacks that limited their potential usability. But hundreds more of such lines — groups of cells that can continue to propagate in lab dishes — have been created since then, ones that scientists say are healthier, better suited to creating treatments for people rather than doing basic laboratory science. Work didn't stop. Indeed, it advanced enough that this summer, the private Geron Corp. will begin the world's first study of a treatment using human embryonic stem cells, in people who recently suffered a spinal cord injury. Nor does Obama's change fund creation of new lines. But it means that scientists who until now have had to rely on private donations to work with these newer stem cell lines can apply for government money for the research, just like they do for studies of gene therapy or other treatment approaches."
Censorship

Doctors Silencing Online Patient Reviews Via Contract 324

Condiment writes "Next time you're sick, take five and actually read the pile of contracts your doctor dumps on your lap, because it's becoming more and more likely that your doctors are banning patients from posting reviews on the Web. You heard that right: as a prerequisite to receiving medical care, patients are in many cases required to sign away their First Amendment rights!"
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Company Makes Paper Out Of Wombat Poo Screenshot-sm 71

Creative Paper attracted worldwide interest for its paper made of kangaroo droppings in 2005. Well it's been four years and the best and brightest at Creative Paper haven't been sitting on their laurels. What's their great new idea? They have now launched a kind of paper made from wombat poo. Scat-obsessed Darren Simpson from Creative Paper says the paper is green or gold depending on the time of year the droppings are harvested. The wombat paper will be unveiled at an international paper conference in Burnie, Australia later this month.
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Crocodiles With Frickin' Magnets Attached to Their Heads Screenshot-sm 304

Brickwall writes "Florida, faced with a problem of crocodiles returning to residential neighborhoods after being relocated elsewhere, is trying to solve it by affixing magnets to the crocs' heads. The theory is the crocodiles use the Earth's magnetic field for navigation, and the magnets may interfere with that. What I'd like to know is, whose job is it to put the magnets on?" So far the magnet program appears to be working, unfortunately the crocs have started to collect huge amounts of take-out menus and child artwork.
Biotech

Designer Babies 902

Singularity Hub writes "The Fertility Institutes recently stunned the fertility community by being the first company to boldly offer couples the opportunity to screen their embryos not only for diseases and gender, but also for completely benign characteristics such as eye color, hair color, and complexion. The Fertility Institutes proudly claims this is just the tip of the iceberg, and plans to offer almost any conceivable customization as science makes them available. Even as couples from across the globe are flocking in droves to pay the company their life's savings for a custom baby, opponents are vilifying the company for shattering moral and ethical boundaries. Like it or not, the era of designer babies is officially here and there is no going back."
Government

Time To Discuss Drug Prohibition? 1367

gplus writes "December 5th was the 75th anniversary of the end of alcohol prohibition in the US. The Wall Street Journal has an op-ed which argues that now may be the time to discuss our war on drugs and the drug prohibition currently in place. The article argues that the harm caused by the banned substance must be balanced against the harms caused by the prohibition. As to why Americans in 1933 finally voted to end prohibition, while we barely even discuss it: 'Most Americans in 1933 could recall a time before prohibition, which tempered their fears. But few Americans now can recall the decades when the illicit drugs of today were sold and consumed legally. If they could, a post-prohibition future might prove less alarming.'"

Feed Science Daily: 'Nonlinear' Ecosystem Response Points To Environmental Solutions (sciencedaily.com)

The preservation of coastal ecosystem services such as clean water, storm buffers or fisheries protection does not have to be an all-or-nothing approach, a new study indicates, and a better understanding of how ecosystems actually respond to protection efforts in a "nonlinear" fashion could help lead the way out of environmental-versus-economic gridlock.


NASA

Submission + - Stern Measures Keep NASA's Kepler Mission on Track 1

Hugh Pickens writes: "NASA's new Space Science Division Director, Dr. S. Alan Stern, appears to be making headway in keeping in space projects like the Kepler Mission at their original budgeted cost creating anguish among researchers and contractors along the way. The New York Times reports that Stern's plan is to hold projects responsible for overruns forcing mission leaders to trim parts of their projects, streamline procedures or find other sources of financing. "The mission that makes the mess is responsible for cleaning it up," Stern says. Because of management problems, technical issues and other difficulties on the Kepler Mission, the price tag for Kepler went up 20% to $550 million and the launch slipped from the original 2006 target date to 2008. When the Kepler team asked for another $42 million, Stern's team threatened to open the project to new bids so other researchers could take it over using the equipment that had already been built. The Kepler group came back with a solution that included cutting back the duration of the four-year mission by six months and scaling back preflight testing. "When they came to believe I was serious and had my boss's backing they took it seriously," says Stern. "They quickly found a way to erase that bill.""

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