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News

Submission + - The rise and rise of the cognitive elite (economist.com) 1

hessian writes: As technology advances, the rewards to cleverness increase. Computers have hugely increased the availability of information, raising the demand for those sharp enough to make sense of it. In 1991 the average wage for a male American worker with a bachelor’s degree was 2.5 times that of a high-school drop-out; now the ratio is 3. Cognitive skills are at a premium, and they are unevenly distributed.
America Online

Submission + - AOL's "Dirty Little Secret": 60% of AOL's Profits (huffingtonpost.com) 4

satuon writes: Ken Auletta's big New Yorker piece on AOL (subscription only) this week revealed an interesting detail about the company's inner workings. According to Auletta, 80% of AOL's profits come from subscribers, and 75% of those subscribers are paying for something they don't actually need.

Auletta lays out how this works:
The company still gets eighty percent of its profits from subscribers, many of whom are older people who have cable or DSL service but don't realize that they need not pay an additional twenty-five dollars a month to get online and check their e-mail. "The dirty little secret," a former AOL executive says, "is that seventy-five percent of the people who subscribe to AOL's dial-up service don't need it."

Biotech

Submission + - Virus "Lights Up" Cancer Cells for Surgeon (technologyreview.com)

Al writes: "A virus that makes cancer cells permanently fluorescent could help surgeons remove cancerous tissue more thoroughly. Researchers from a San Diego-based company called AntiCancer and Japan's Okayama University created a modified cold virus called OBP-401 that can enter all cells but will only replicate in those that have activated telomerase, an enzyme that is expressed in cancer cells and allows them to divide indefinitely. The virus was also modified to carry green fluorescent protein (GFP)--a protein derived from jellyfish that fluoresces in blue light. Other efforts to "light up" cancer have included using quantum dots that attach to the surface of cancerous cells."
Moon

Submission + - How NASA Restored Its High-Res Moon Pics (technologyreview.com)

Al writes: "This photo-essay explains how NASA engineers painstakingly restored high quality old images of the surface of the Moon. The original analog data, beamed down to Earth to plan landing sites for the Apollo missions in 1966 and 1967, remains the most detailed imagery every captured of the Moon's surface. It was recorded on magnetic tapes that collected dust for decades and were nearly discarded. Reprocessing the images involved restoring an old tape drive--which involved finding one of the few people who still knew how to repair the drive's read heads--and developing new custom equipment."
Earth

Submission + - UK Royal Society claims geo-engineering feasible

krou writes: The BBC is reporting that a UK Royal Society report claims that geo-engineering proposals to combat the effects of climate change are "technically possible". Three of the plans considered showed the most promise: "CO2 capture from ambient air"; enhancing "natural reactions of CO2 from the air with rocks and minerals"; and "Land use and afforestation". They also noted that solar radiation management, while some climate models showed them to be ineffective, should not be ignored. Possible suggestions included: "a giant mirror on the Moon; a space parasol made of superfine aluminium mesh; and a swarm of 10 trillion small mirrors launched into space one million at a time every minute for the next 30 years." They also commented that, should rapid action be required to combat quickly rising temperatures, the following solutions should be considered: Stratospheric aerosols; Space-based methods; or Cloud albedo approaches. They also stress that, although geo-engineering shows promise, it should not in any way deviate attention away from the need to reduce CO2 emissions. However, Professor John Shepherd, who chaired the study, notes that "Geo-engineering and its consequences are the price we may have to pay for failure to act on climate change."

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