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Space

Submission + - Astrobiologists discover fossils in extraterrestrial meteorite fragments (extremetech.com)

MrSeb writes: "Researchers at Cardiff University in the UK have found algae-like fossils in meteorite fragments that landed in Sri Lanka last year. This is the strongest evidence yet of cometary panspermia — that life on Earth began when a meteorite containing simple organisms landed here, billions of years ago — and, perhaps more importantly, that there’s life elsewhere in the universe. These findings aren’t a slam dunk, though. There’s a possibility that the fossils aren’t actually biological in nature — they simply look biological. There’s also the fact that the research was published in the Journal of Cosmology, a peer-reviewed journal that has come under critical scrutiny numerous times since it was established in 2009. The journal faced a lot of controversy when it published a paper by NASA engineer Richard Hoover claiming to have found fossils “similar to cyanobacteria” in meteorites. One thing’s for certain, though: For this to actually become science — for Chandra Wickramasinghe’s dream of panspermia to become a reality — this work will need to be replicated by many other groups around the world. It would be very, very exciting indeed if biological fossils have been found on an extraterrestrial meteorite. It would be proof that there’s life on other planets — and essentially a guarantee that the universe is full of life. But, as always, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
Science

Submission + - Swimming robot reaches Australia after record-breaking trip (bbc.co.uk)

SternisheFan writes: A self-controlled swimming robot has completed a journey from San Francisco to Australia. The record-breaking 9,000 nautical mile (16,668km) trip took the PacX Wave Glider just over a year to achieve. Liquid Robotics, the US company behind the project, collected data about the Pacific Ocean's temperature, salinity and ecosystem from the drone. The company said its success demonstrated that such technology could "survive the high seas". The robot is called Papa Mau in honour of the late Micronesian navigator Pius "Mau" Piailug, who had a reputation for finding ways to navigate the seas without using traditional equipment. "During Papa Mau's journey, [it] weathered gale-force storms, fended off sharks, spent more than 365 days at sea, skirted around the Great Barrier Reef, and finally battled and surfed the east Australian current to reach his final destination in Hervey Bay, near Bundaberg, Queensland," the company said in a statement. Some of the data it gathered about the abundance of phytoplankton -plant-like organisms that convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and provide food for other sea life -could already be monitored by satellite. However, the company suggested that its equipment offered more detail, providing a useful tool for climate model scientists.
AI

Submission + - Biological Brainfuck Machine (freshmeat.net)

brilanon writes: New to the soon-to-be-export-controlled field of optimizers and automated problem solvers is ca-ga, an evolving neurogenetic cell ecology for Linux and Windows.
A hundred megs of DNA wires a hundred megs of neurons as a population of candidate components vie for territory and aptitude at the secondary fitness function which provides an energy impetus.
The end result is a thinking system the size of Firefox. Fun

Censorship

Submission + - Plans to Nix Right to Due Process for File Sharers (techdirt.com)

eldavojohn writes: TechDirt notes that new legislation ensures you have a right to Due Process ... unless you are a file sharing site. Newly proposed legislation aims to crack down on online piracy but one of the many glaring problems is that a blacklist of domains will be maintained by the Department of Justice without judicial review that are "dedicated to infringing activities." So you'll get your day in court unless you find yourself on the DoJ's list. TechDirt also notes that the lead proponent of the bill, Senator Patrick Leahy, is hypocritically an outspoken critic of censorship abroad. Apparently it's only bad when other governments do it.
Games

Submission + - USC Scientists Create 3D Hologram Generator (thekartel.com)

kghapa writes: The Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California have created a full 3D hologram projector ala Star-Wars. The potential for this tech is endless, from entertainment to communication, and these latest improvements to the tech are jaw dropping
Earth

Japanese Researchers Make Plastic Out of Water 117

greenrainbow writes with this excerpt from Inhabit: "The material shown in the picture above is just ice, right? Look again. Elastic water, a new substance invented by researchers at Tokyo University, is a jelly-like substance made up of 95% water along with two grams of clay and a small amount of organic materials. As is, the all-natural substance is perfect for medical procedures, because it's made of water, poses no harm to people, and is perfect for mending tissue. And, if the research team can increase the density of this exciting new substance, it could be used in place of our current oil-based plastics for a host of other things."
NASA

Shuttle Reentry Over the Continental US 139

TheOtherChimeraTwin notes that the shuttle Discovery will land at Kennedy Space Center on Monday morning at 8:48 EDT. The craft will make a rare "descending node" overflight of the continental US en route to landing in Florida. Here are maps of the shuttle's path if is lands on orbit 222 as planned, or on the next orbit. Spaceweather.com says: "...it takes the shuttle about 35 minutes to traverse the path shown... Observers in the northwestern USA will see the shuttle shortly after 5 am PDT blazing like a meteoric fireball through the dawn sky. As Discovery makes its way east, it will enter daylight and fade into the bright blue background. If you can't see the shuttle, however, you might be able to hear it. The shuttle produces a sonic double-boom that reaches the ground about a minute and a half after passing overhead."
Input Devices

Is the Line-in Jack On the Verge of Extinction? 411

SlashD0tter writes "Many older sound cards were shipped with line-out, microphone-in, and a line-in jacks. For years I've used such a line-in jack on an old Windows 2000 dinosaur desktop that I bought in 2000 (600 Mhz PIII) to capture the stereo audio signal from an old Technics receiver. I've used this arrangement to recover the audio from a slew of old vinyl LPs and even a few cassettes using some simple audio manipulating software from a small shop in Australia. I've noticed only recently, unfortunately, that all of the four laptops I've bought since then have omitted a line-in jack, forcing me to continue keeping this old desktop on life support. I've looked around for USB sound cards that include a line-in jack, but I haven't been too impressed by the selection. Is the line-in jack doomed to extinction, possibly due to lobbying from vested interests, or are there better thinking-outside-the-box alternatives available?"
Space

Planck Mission Releases Images of Galactic Dust 40

davecl writes "The Planck satellite has released its first new science images, showing the large scale filamentary structure of cold dust in our own galaxy. This release coincides with the completion of its first survey of the entire sky a couple of weeks ago. There's lots more work to be done, and more observations to be made, before results are ready on the Big Bang, but these images demonstrate Planck's performance and capability. More information is available on the Planck mission blog (which I maintain)."
Idle

Directed Energy Weapon Downs Mosquitos 428

wisebabo writes "Nathan Myhrvol demonstrated at TED a laser, built from parts scrounged from eBay, capable of shooting down not one but 50 to 100 mosquitos a second. The system is 'so precise that it can specify the species, and even the gender, of the mosquito being targeted.' Currently, for the sake of efficiency, it leaves the males alone because only females are bloodsuckers. Best of all the system could cost as little as $50. Maybe that's too expensive for use in preventing malaria in Africa but I'd buy one in a second!" We ran a story about this last year. It looks like the company has added a bit more polish, and burning mosquito footage to their marketing.
The Internet

Finalists Chosen In Apps For America 2 Contest 64

Andurin writes "Sunlight Labs has announced three finalists for its $25,000 Apps for America 2 competition. Forty-seven apps were submitted, each relying on Data.gov and providing a useful spin on government data. This We Know compiles federal information on a local level; govpulse is a searchable version of the Federal Register; and DataMasher allows simple mashups of government data sets. Voting is now open to determine the winner in the contest."
Music

Warner Music Playing Hardball With Rock Band 86

We recently discussed the fight brewing between the music industry and the popular music games, such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero, over the licensing fees paid for songs used within the games. Well, Warner has stepped things up and denied access to future songs without a payment increase. "Once the already-agreed-upon music runs out in the Summer however, the two companies will have to hammer out a new deal that's amenable to both. If MTV Games ends up giving Warner a larger slice of the pie, you have to think that the rest of the labels will begin asking for the same cut." The Rock Band games have seen a steady stream of DLC additions to their song libraries, the most recent being Stevie Ray Vaughan's Texas Flood album. Activision has been busily working on new Guitar Hero content as well, revealing details for Guitar Hero Greatest Hits, which is due out in June. Ben Heck (of Xbox 360 laptop fame) has just put together a breath controller for Guitar Hero World Tour's bass drum, for those unable or unwilling to use the standard pedal.
Biotech

Inside the New Science of Neuroengineering 83

palegray.net writes "Wired brings us a look into the world of neuroengineering, the science of hacking the brain to improve its function. Dr. Ed Boyden is the director of MIT's Neuroengineering and Neuromedia Lab, focusing on innovative methods of physically altering neuroanatomy for various purposes. As useful as discoveries in the field may be, the work certainly raises moral and ethical questions. From the article: '"If we surgically or electrically modify someone's personality... that raises many questions about personal identity, (of) who we are at our core," says Dr. Debra Matthews of The Berman Institute of Bioethics. "We place ourselves in the mind and therefore the brain. (Mood-altering surgery) feels like fundamentally modifying who a person is."'"

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