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Medicine

"Microsaccades" Help To Refresh Your Field of View 96

Ponca City, We love you writes with news of research from the Salk Institute into small, unconscious eye movements called "microsaccades," the purpose of which has been in question for many years. A recent study showed that those movements were essentially responsible for maintaining a coherent image for interpretation by the brain. They are also the cause of a famous optical illusion in which a still image appears to move. '"Because images on the retina fade from view if they are perfectly stabilized, the active generation of fixational eye movements by the central nervous system allows these movements to constantly shift the scene ever so slightly, thus refreshing the images on our retina and preventing us from going 'blind,'" explains Hafed. "When images begin to fade, the uncertainty about where to look increases the fluctuations in superior colliculus activity, triggering a microsaccade," adds Krauzlis.'"
Space

Fly Me To Which Moon? 183

Hugh Pickens writes "NASA and the European Space Agency are expected later this week to settle an ongoing debate on whether to send a robotic mission to Jupiter's moon Europa or Saturn's moon Titan. Both are difficult places to get to — a mission to either would cost several billion dollars/euros to build and execute — and both have become alluring targets in the quest to learn whether Earth alone supports life. On the one hand, Europa is believed to have liquid oceans beneath its frozen crust which (on Earth at least) are a source of life-supporting chemistry. Scientists would like to scan Europa's surface for bits of material that may have seeped up from beneath the ice. 'Imagine if there were microbes entrained in material that has exuded onto the surface of Europa and they've been sitting there for maybe three million years,' says planetary scientist Dr. Brad Dalton. On the other hand, Titan has two enticing features in the search for life: liquids on the surface, and a thick atmosphere that can be used to slow down a spacecraft and help put it into orbit. Titan's surface water is locked into the crust as ice, but scientists suspect there may be a subsurface ocean where water mingles with ammonia. The mission will not get to the launch pad before 2020. 'It's unfortunate that there has to be a decision,' says NASA/JPL astrobiologist Dr. Kevin Hand. 'It's important to go to both. They are both such amazing and tantalizing worlds in terms of finding life.'"
IBM

IBM Offers to Send Laid-Off Staff to Other Countries 493

TheAmit writes to tell us that many recently laid off IBM employees have been offered jobs if they will only move somewhere it is cheap to employ them. IBM's new Project Match program offers some financial assistance for moving and immigration help for visas. "However, the move has not gone well with the IBM staff union. Slamming the offer, a union spokesperson said that not only were jobs being shipped overseas, but Big Blue was trying to export the people for peanuts too. He added that at a time of rising unemployment IBM should be looking to keep both the work and the workers in the United States. "
Intel

Intel To Design PlayStation 4 GPU 288

madhatter256 writes "According to the Inquirer it looks like Intel will be designing Sony's next gen console GPU. It will most likely be an off-shoot of the Larrabee GPU architecture. It is also unknown as of yet if Intel will also take part in the CPU design of the console. Due to current economic times it was a no brainer for Sony to go with Intel. " The article also mentions rumors of ATI getting the Xbox3 GPU and, if history is any judge, the Wii2 as well.
Transportation

Reaction Engines plan Mach 5 Airliner 221

What is? writes "A British company has designed an eco-friendly airliner that could make a trip from London to Sydney in under five hours. Reaction Engines has received funding from the European Space Agency to design the plane as part of the Long-Term Advanced Propulsion Concepts and Technologies project. The A2 airliner would be capable of carrying 300 passengers at speeds of up to Mach 5."
Communications

FCC's Spectrum Auction Approaches $20B in Bids 95

An anonymous reader writes "After 32 rounds, the FCC has raised more than $18.8 billion in its 700-MHz auction, well surpassing its own early estimates of attracting between $10-15 billion in offers. That's undoubtedly good news for the agency. Since the auction began on Jan. 24, both the FCC and wireless experts have expressed ongoing concerns about meeting those estimates. Once the auction was underway, those worries were compounded by a shaky economic forecast and the possibility of a looming recession."
Security

Fifth Cable Cut To Middle East 676

You may have noticed a number of stories recently about undersea cables getting cut around the world. Apparently the total is now up to 5, but the scariest part of this is that Iran is now offline. You can also read Schneier's comments on this coincidence. Update: 02/06 17:42 GMT by Z : As a commenter notes, though the country of Iran is obviously experiencing some networking difficulties, it is not offline.
The Media

Kohnke v. Perpetual Suit Unveils 'Pay For Good Reviews' Angle 21

The recent debate brought about by Jeff Gerstmann's dismissal from Gamespot has focused a lot of attention on the role of advertiser manipulation of reviews. Now a lawsuit brought by PR firm Kohnke Communications against what remains of Perpetual Entertainment has unveiled an interesting element of their business relationship. From the language of the agreement: "Kohnke's public relations campaign was successful in creating pre-release 'buzz' around Gods & Heroes, and in convincing reviewers to write positive reviews about the game. In addition, on information and belief, Perpetual had signed up more than 100,000 beta testers for Gods & Heroes, a large number for an unreleased MMO." For another viewpoint on the Gerstmann issue, Dean Takahashi just recently interviewed the former reviewer.

Microsoft Re-Brands PlaysForSure 194

mikesd81 writes "Information Week writes about a licensing change intended to 'beat Apple at their own game'. They're going to use a combination of branding and DRM, and replace the "PlaysForSure" logo with a "Certified for Windows Vista" tag.'The certification is used to guarantee compatibility with Microsoft's copyright-protection software and is the same logo used for the company's Zune player. The problem, however, is that music and video bought from the online Zune Marketplace won't play in their native format on other devices, including those that will carry the new logo.'"

Congressman Hollywood Wants To Make DMCA Tougher 228

Stormy seas writes "Congressman 'Hollywood' Howard Berman (D-CA) used a House subcommittee hearing today to express his view that the DMCA was in need of a rewrite. In his view, it doesn't go far enough. During his opening remarks for a hearing on the PRO-IP Act, Berman said that the DMCA's Safe Harbor needs further scrutiny and that it might be time to make filtering mandatory. There's more: Berman also 'wants to examine the "effectiveness of takedown notices" under the DMCA, and he'd like to take another look at whether filtering technology has advanced to the point where Congress ought to mandate it in certain situations.'"
Social Networks

Submission + - phpBB 3.0 Gold released! (prweb.com)

buanzo writes: "The leading open source forum and online collaboration system, announced today the availability of phpBB Version 3.0. This release includes enhanced collaboration features, better security and delegated administration features, extended support for open source and commercial database management systems, and optimisation for mobile devices and search engines. phpBB is available at no cost, released under the GNU General Public License."
Education

Submission + - Captain Kidd's ship found

An anonymous reader writes: The wreckage of the Quedagh Merchant, abandoned by Captain Kidd in the 17th century, has been found by the underwater archaeology team from Indiana University. Charles Beeker of IU said his team has been licensed to study the wreckage and convert the site into an underwater preserve for the public. It is remarkable that the wreck has remained undiscovered all these years given its location, just 70 feet off the coast of Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic in less than 10 feet of seawater. "I've been on literally thousands of shipwrecks in my career," Beeker said. "This is one of the first sites I've been on where I haven't seen any looting. We've got a shipwreck in crystal clear, pristine water that's amazingly untouched. We want to keep it that way, so we made the announcement now to ensure the site's protection from looters." The find is valuable because of what it could reveal about William Kidd and piracy in the Caribbean, said John Foster, California's state underwater archaeologist, who is participating in the research. Historians differ on whether Kidd was actually a pirate or a privateer — someone who captured pirates. After his conviction of piracy and murder charges in a sensational London trial, he was left to hang over the River Thames for two years. Historians write that Kidd captured the Quedagh Merchant, loaded with valuable satins and silks, gold, silver and other East Indian merchandise, but left the ship in the Caribbean as he sailed to New York on a less conspicuous sloop to clear his name of the criminal charges. IU Anthropologist Geoffrey Conrad said the men Kidd entrusted with his ship reportedly looted it and then set it ablaze and adrift down the Rio Dulce. Conrad said the location of the wreckage and the formation and size of the canons, which had been used as ballast, are consistent with historical records of the ship. They also found pieces of several anchors under the cannons. "All the evidence that we find underwater is consistent with what we know from historical documentation, which is extensive," Conrad said. "Through rigorous archeological investigations, we will conclusively prove that this is the Capt. Kidd shipwreck."
Portables (Apple)

Submission + - Hack Turns iPhone Camera Into HD Camcorder (mp3newswire.net)

An anonymous reader writes: Monsters and Friends has just released the beta of Drunknbass, a new iPhone hack that allows the unit's camera to capture video. "...while the iPhone's 2.0 megapixel camera resolution may be mediocre for a still camera, it is excellent resolution for a consumer video camera. For example, a standard definition Canon digital camcorder uses a 680K pixel sensor chip (because a standard def TV's resolution is only 520 x 360), while HD camcorders like Canon's use a 2.9 megapixel sensor. Of course, there are mobile phones whose cameras have condiderably higher-res than the iPhone. The beta presently allows 5 second clips at 10frames per second, but the finished version will soon allow infinite recording at 45 frames per second. Video of Drunknbass in action can be found on YouTube
Media

Submission + - Xiph Fights Back for inclusion in the HTML5 Draft (xiph.org)

bigmammoth writes: "Last night xiph.org has issued a press release responding to changes made in the HTML5 draft that remove references to ogg codecs and container.

The W3C has expressed a clear intention to officially define video as an integral part of the web by introducing the <video/> tag. Up to this point, video on the web has been presented primarily using a fragmented array of proprietary extensions powered by encumbered formats. Those who cannot use them have been made second-class citizens. Failing to standardize on an unencumbered, reasonably-performing format is a failure to advance beyond this state.
They also point out that Ogg has triggered no litigation to date even though it is very widely used. The same cannot be said for MPEG-licensed codecs.

The MPEG-LA's own sublicense disclaimer warns that licensees are not protected from patent-related litigation nor are they protected from submarine patents.
"

Communications

Why US Wireless Isn't Wide Open 70

Geoffery B tips a story in Business Week about why the US cellular carriers' talk about opening up their networks rings hollow. "Even as the wireless industry chants a new gospel about opening mobile phone networks to outside devices and applications, some of the biggest US carriers are quietly blocking new services that would compete with their own. Would-be mobile-service providers, ranging from startups to major banks to eBay's PayPal, have encountered these roadblocks, erected by the likes of AT&T and Verizon Wireless. In some cases, cellular carriers have backed down, but only after inflicting costly delays on the new services."

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