Thursday, December 31, 2009

No Rise of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Fraction In Past 160 Years, New Research Finds

New research finds that the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades, contrary to some recent studies. (Credit: iStockphoto)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Dec. 31, 2009) — Most of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activity does not remain in the atmosphere, but is instead absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems. In fact, only about 45 percent of emitted carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere.

However, some studies have suggested that the ability of oceans and plants to absorb carbon dioxide recently may have begun to decline and that the airborne fraction of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions is therefore beginning to increase.

Read more ....

The Volcano Tourists: Mayon Threatens To Erupt... But Officials Stunned As Snap-Happy Visitors Defy Ban To See The Eruption

Lethal: Lava cascades down the Mount Mayon volcano in 2006

From The Daily Mail:

When a volcano erupts most people take to the hills and get as far away as possible.

But officials in the Philippines have expressed their amazement at the stupidity of tourists who are flocking in their thousands to fields around a dangerous volcano so they can photograph its spectacular lava flows.

Scientists say that Mount Mayon volcano is on the brink of erupting and anyone within a five-mile radius would probably be killed by lava raining down on them if it did.

Read more ....

High-Tech Tipples: The Future Of Cocktails

Mixing up a scientific taste sensation (Image: Staff Hood Gamma)

From New Scientist:

IT WOULD be lovely to have access to chromatography," Spike Marchant tells me wistfully. As a science journalist, it's the kind of remark I expect to hear from the people I interview. But Marchant isn't a scientist, he's a bartender.

A very special breed of bartender, mind you. What Heston Blumenthal, Ferran Adrià and others have done for food, Marchant and his colleagues are aiming to do for booze. "We're not scientists but we use the ideas of scientists," says Tony Conigliaro, the creative force behind 69 Colebrook Row, a cosy cocktail bar in north London where I have come to learn about, and taste, the future of cocktails.

Read more ....

Are New TSA In-Flight Restrictions Pointless?

Spaceport security was tight in the sci-fi movie Total Recall. Unfortunately, modern-day airport security doesn't have this level of scanning technology (yet) (Columbia Pictures).

From Discovery News:

On Christmas Day, Nigerian wannabe terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab set fire to his pants on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it was on its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

The fire was sparked when Abdulmutallab failed to detonate a homemade mix of explosives that were carried on board the aircraft concealed in the crotch of his underwear.

Read more ....

Blue Moon To Occur New Year's Eve


New Year's Eve brings us the second of two full moons for North Americans this month. Some almanacs and calendars assert that when two full moons occur within a calendar month, that the second full moon is called the "blue moon."

The term has a very interesting history, riddled with misconceptions and errors. More on that lower down. First, what will (and won't) happen:

The full moon that night will likely look no different than any other full moon (other than the fact that a partial eclipse will occur across most of Europe, Africa, and Asia).

Read more ....

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2010 Gears Up For Explosion Of 3D

Will everyone be wandering around in 3D specs?

From BBC:

If 2009 was dominated by touch technology then 2010 looks set to be the year of 3D.

3D has been one of the biggest hits of the cinemas this year and it is likely to continue its stride into other mediums during 2010, experts agree.

TV manufacturer LG wants to sell nearly half a million 3D-ready TV sets next year as the World Cup kicks off in the format.

Meanwhile laptops and games consoles are also getting a 3D makeover.

Acer has already released what it is claiming is the world's first 3D-capable laptop, and most agree it will be the first of many.

Read more ....

The World In 2020: A Glimpse Into The Future

'People were more connected than ever, accessing video, music, mail (the 'e' soon became redundant), the web, books, news (with no distinction between papers, websites or television) and magazines whenever they liked, wherever they liked'

From The Independent:

Ten years ago we thought wireless was another word for radio, Peter Mandelson's career was over – and only birds tweeted. So what will life be like a decade from now?

Society: The quiet life is just an illusion, by Julian Baggini

Britain will be a strangely optimistic place at the start of the third decade of the millennium. Strange, because the 2010s had become known as the Decade of Austerity, with its apt acronym, DOA.

Read more ....

The Decade We Learned The Language Of Life

From The Guardian:

How the mapping of the 3bn letters of the human genome sparked a new age of biology that is only just beginning.

It was the decade that launched a new age of science, and it came as no surprise. Researchers had foreseen the rise of biology in the 1990s and expected nothing less than a transformation of modern medicine and giant leaps in our knowledge of life on Earth.

Read more ....

Billions Face Identity Fraud Threat After Hackers Crack Secret Mobile Phone codes Read more:

Danger: There are fears half the world’s population could be left
vulnerable to crime including identity fraud

From The Daily Mail:

Billions could have their mobile phone calls intercepted and recorded after computer hackers cracked the secret code used to protect 80 per cent of the world’s users.

The code was posted on the internet by German scientist Karsten Nohl, who said he organised the breach to demonstrate the weakness of mobiles’ security measures.

He claims an eavesdropper could be listening to calls within 15 minutes with just a laptop and two network cards.

Read more ....

2009 Review: Top Videos Of The Year

From New Scientist:

The best of New Scientist's video coverage, including a tiny hovering robot, bionic penguins, software that can make home movies look professional, plasma ejections from the sun.

Read more

'Goldilocks' Zone Bigger Than Once Thought

Some scientists think we don't have to look past our own solar system to find
a world that could support life. NASA/JPL-Caltech

From Discovery News:

To find worlds within the "Goldilocks" zone, where conditions to support life are just right, look no further than our own solar system.

The holy grail for finding worlds beyond Earth that are hospitable to life has been planets just the right distance from their mother stars where liquid water can exist on the surface -- the so-called "Goldilocks" zone.

But scientists now say this elusive zone where conditions are not too hot and not too cold for life to exist is far bigger than originally thought.

Read more ....

NASA Narrows Robotic Missions To 3 Contenders

From Wired Science:

NASA on Tuesday selected three finalists to be the agency’s next cheap, robotic exploration mission. Depending on which wins, a probe will head for Venus, the moon, or a near-Earth object no later than 2018.

The latter two missions would include the return of samples, while the Venusian lander would test the planet’s composition much like the Phoenix Lander did on Mars. The NASA anointing means that the teams proposing the excursions will have some money to make more detailed plans.

Read more ....

Where Did San Francisco's Sea Lions Go?

Russia Plans to Save Earth From Rogue Asteroid; ‘No Nuclear Explosions,’ Space Chief Promises (Updated)

From The Danger Room:

Vlad Putin, we’re sorry we ever made fun of you. In an interview today with Voice of Russia radio, Russia’s space agency chief said discussions would begin soon over a plan to save the world from a collision with a massive asteroid.

It’s not clear how, exactly, the Russians plan to deflect Apophis, a chunk of rock the size of two and a half soccer fields that was first discovered by astronomers in 2004. Anatoly Perminov, the space agency head, promised that there would be “no nuclear explosions” and that everything would be done “on the basis of the laws of physics.”

Read more ....

The US Virtual Economy Is Set To Make Billions

Photo: Ten of the top 15 apps on Facebook are social games.

From BBC:

Virtual goods such as weapons or digital bottles of champagne traded in the US could be worth up to $5bn in the next five years, experts predict.

In Asia, sales are already around the $5bn mark and rapidly growing.

For many, virtual goods are one of the hottest trends in technology and are fuelling huge growth in the social gaming sector.

"This is just an exploding part of the gaming business right now, said venture capitalist Jeremy Liew.

"It is the most exciting area in gaming," he said.

Read more ....

Convert An Address To Latitude And Longitude

From Wired/How To Wiki:

You can pinpoint any place on Earth using a single set of coordinates: latitude and longitude.

These coordinates, often called a lat-long or latlon, look like a string of numbers. At first glance, it's confounding that anyone would take a human-readable address and turn it into a bunch of numbers that are nonsensical to most people outside the field of cartography. But once you have those numbers, you'll be able to plug them into a web map, GPS or other mapping device and find what you're looking for in an instant -- no matter where on the planet it is.

Read more ....

What Happened To The Hominids Who Were Smarter Than Us?

A sketched reconstruction if the Boskop skull done in 1918. Shaded areas depict recovered bone. Courtesy the American Museum of Natural History

From Discover Magazine:

The Boskops had big eyes, child-like faces, and an average intelligence of around 150, making them geniuses among Homo sapiens.

In the autumn of 1913, two farmers were arguing about hominid skull fragments they had uncovered while digging a drainage ditch. The location was Boskop, a small town about 200 miles inland from the east coast of South Africa.

Read more ....

Eight Spin-Offs From Space

Credit: NASA

From Cosmos:

SYDNEY: Sending people and high-tech robots into space is not cheap and NASA gets through vast sums of money. This financial year alone the U.S. space agency requested more than A$20 billion in funding. How do they justify the expense? One way is to highlight the many technologies developed for the space program, but which now benefit society.

Read more ....

The Year In Energy

Credit: Roy Ritchie

From The Technology Review:

Liquid batteries, giant lasers, and vast new reserves of natural gas highlight the fundamental energy advances of the past 12 months.

With many renewable energy companies facing hard financial times ("Weeding Out Solar Companies"), a lot of the big energy news this year was coming out of Washington, DC, with massive federal stimulus funding for batteries and renewable energy and programs such as Energy Frontier Research Centers and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy ("A Year of Stimulus for High Tech").

Read more ....

HMS Ark Royal Becomes First Royal Navy Ship To Sign Up To Twitter

Messages posted online includes information about a chemical training exercise, complete with images of the crew in protective suits and respirators

From The Daily Mail:

It was a Government warning to loose-lipped members of the British public during the Second World War: 'Careless Talk Costs Lives'.

The slogan was the centrepiece of a high-profile campaign to warn people about the danger of unwittingly giving titbits of valuable information to enemy sympathizers.

But it appears Royal Navy sailors today are less likely to heed the message.

Read more ....

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cockroaches Offer Inspiration For Running Robots

Researchers at Oregon State University are using studies of guinea hens and other animals such as cockroaches to learn more about the mechanics of their running ability, with the goal of developing robots that can run easily over rough terrain. (Credit: Image courtesy of Oregon State University)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Dec. 29, 2009) — The sight of a cockroach scurrying for cover may be nauseating, but the insect is also a biological and engineering marvel, and is providing researchers at Oregon State University with what they call "bioinspiration" in a quest to build the world's first legged robot that is capable of running effortlessly over rough terrain.

Read more ....

The 9 Strangest News Stories Of 2009

From Live Science:

Weirdness takes many forms, and 2009 had its share of weird events. Here's a look back at the strangest news stories of the year drawn from the realms of pseudoscience, the paranormal, media hype, outright lies and the just plain strange.

Read more ....

More Attacks Expected On Facebook, Twitter In 2010

From CNET News:

Social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter can expect more attention from cybercriminals in 2010, according to a new report (PDF) released Tuesday by McAfee Labs. Also at risk are users of Adobe Systems products including Acrobat Reader and Flash. And move over Microsoft; the security firm predicts that Google's Chrome OS will "create another opportunity for malware writers to prey on users."

Read more ....

9 Astronomy Milestones In 2009

An artist's impression shows the smallest and fastest-orbiting exoplanet known, CoRoT-7b, which was the first known exoplanet with a density similar to that of Earth. HO / AFP - Getty Images

From MSNBC/Space:

Among the discoveries: most massive black hole and water on the moon.

This year provided plenty of cosmic eye-openers for astronomers and casual stargazers alike.

Neighborhood planets such as Mercury and Jupiter received makeovers in both a scientific and literal sense. The discovery of water on the moon and Mars provided clues to the past, not to mention hints for the future of space exploration. A class of newly-detected "Super-Earth" planets around alien stars may ultimately prove more habitable than Earth. And a growing fleet of existing, new and revived space telescopes promises another stellar year ahead.

Read more

How Algal Biofuels Lost A Decade In The Race To Replace Oil

From Wired Science:

For nearly 20 years, a government laboratory built a living, respiring library of carefully collected organisms in search of something that could grow quickly while producing something precious: oil.

But now that collection has largely been lost.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientists found and isolated around 3,000 species algae from construction ditches, seasonal desert ponds and briny mashes across the country in a major bioprospecting effort to find the best organisms to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into fuel for cars.

Read more ....

Near The Edge Of The Solar System, Voyager 2 Finds Magnetic Fluff

From Discover Magazine:

After three-plus decades of exploring the gas giants, passing the orbit of Pluto, and reaching points beyond, Voyager 2 has found something interesting near the edge of the solar system: surprisingly magnetic fluff. Researchers document their findings in this week’s Nature.

Of course, this fluff isn’t made from the dust bunnies you find under your bed, the ‘Local Fluff’ (a nickname for the Local Interstellar Cloud) is a vast, wispy cloud of hot hydrogen and helium stretching 30 light-years across [Discovery News]. Astronomers already knew this fluff was out there near the boundary area between our solar system and interstellar space. What surprised them is that the fluff is much more magnetized than they’d expected.

Read more ....

How To Create A Designer Baby

From Popular Mechanics:

Increasingly sophisticated genetic tests make it possible for parents to choose their baby’s traits. Here are three ways babies are born to specifications.

For just an extra few thousand dollars, women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) could one day choose to have a baby boy with perfect vision, an aptitude for sports and a virtual lock on avoiding colon cancer. Fertility clinics in the U.S. currently offer not only to screen for diseases, but also to choose gender. They are not yet offering any further customization, but that could change as genetic mapping gets faster and easier.

Read more ....

The Lithium Rush

From Technology Review:

In the Bolivian Andes lies a vast salt flat that may shape the future of transportation.

Nearly four kilometers above sea level in the Bolivian Andes lies the Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat. But there is more to this ­surreal, moonlike landscape than meets the eye. Flowing in salt-water ­channels beneath the surface is the world's largest supply of lithium--and, possibly, the future of transportation. Lithium is the key ingredient in the lithium-ion batteries that will power the electric vehicles that will soon be rolling off production lines worldwide. Demand for the metal is expected to double in the next 10 years, and Bolivia, with an untapped resource estimated at nine million tons by the U.S. Geological Survey, is being called a potential "Saudi Arabia of lithium."

Read more ....

Top Scientists Share Their Future Predictions

Neo (Keanu Reeves) in a still from The Matrix

From Times Online:

From virtual brains and Matrix-like thought connections to disease-making bacteria, what the next decade could bring.

Nothing much is going to happen in the next 10 years. Of course, that’s not counting the diesel-excreting bacteria, the sequencing of your entire genome for $1,000, massive banks of frozen human eggs, space tourism, the identification of dark matter, widespread sterilisation of young adults, telepathy, supercomputer models of our brains, the discovery of life’s origins, maybe the disappearance of Bangladesh and certainly the loss of 247m acres of tropical forest.

As I said, just another decade really.

Read more ....

Would You Be Happy To Take The 'Naked' Body Scan?

From The Daily Mail:

Fears over airport security could leave millions of passengers facing the indignity of a 'naked' body scan and paying higher fares to fund it.

Hi-tech body scanners can see through clothes to detect hidden weapons or explosives such as those used in the failed Christmas Day plot.

Read more ....

A Decade Of Scientific Discovery

Dr Henry Gee, Senior Editor at Nature Magazine, holding the only cast of the Homo Floresiensis
Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith

From The Telegraph:

What were the most exciting scientific developments of the past 10 years – and what comes next?

Colin Blakemore - Professor of Neuroscience at the Universities of Oxford and Warwick and president of the Motor Neurone Disease Association

"My scientific moment of the last decade came on February 12, 2001, when the journal Nature published the 'working draft' of the entire three-billion-letter sequence of human DNA. One third of that massively expensive international enterprise – comparable in its significance to splitting the atom, or discovering radioactivity – was produced at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, near Cambridge.

Read more ....

Why Some Continue To Eat When Full: Researchers Find Clues

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Dec. 28, 2009) — The premise that hunger makes food look more appealing is a widely held belief -- just ask those who cruise grocery store aisles on an empty stomach, only to go home with a full basket and an empty wallet.

Prior research studies have suggested that the so-called hunger hormone ghrelin, which the body produces when it's hungry, might act on the brain to trigger this behavior. New research in mice by UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists suggest that ghrelin might also work in the brain to make some people keep eating "pleasurable" foods when they're already full.

Read more ....

Why Men Cheat: A Year Of Philandering

Photo: Tiger Woods and Wife

From Live Science:

Like years past, this one has been a whopper for high-profile philanderers. Psychologists aren't surprised, as guys are wired to want sex, a lot, and are more likely than gals to cheat. The behavior may be particularly likely for men with power, researchers say, though they point out that despite the genetic propensity to sleep around, cheating remains a choice, not a DNA-bound destiny.

The list of powerful individuals whose marital transgressions came out this year includes Tiger Woods, David Letterman, former senator John Edwards and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

Read more ....

Flying Blind: The Disappearance Of Flight 188

From Slate:

You've heard of planes that vanished into thin air? Here's a truer, scarier story: On Oct. 21, 2009, two pilots flying from San Diego to Minneapolis vanished into cyberspace.

Their plane was fine. Ground controllers tracked it the whole time. The passengers and flight attendants in the main cabin noticed nothing unusual. And the pilots' bodies stayed planted in their seats as though they were flying the aircraft. But they weren't flying it. Their minds had been sucked into a pair of laptops.

Read more ....

War Is Peace: Can Science Fight Media Disinformation?

From Scientific American:

In the 24/7 Internet world, people make lots of claims. Science provides a guide for testing them.

When I saw the statement repeated online that theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking of the University of Cambridge would be dead by now if he lived in the U.K. and had to depend on the National Health Service (he, of course, is alive and working in the U.K., where he always has), I reflected on something I had written a dozen years ago, in one of my first published commentaries:

Read more ....

The Science Behind The Explosives Used On Northwest Airlines Flight 253 And By The 'Shoe Bomber'

PETN - Hard To Detect And Just 100g Can Destroy A Car -- The Guardian

The science behind the explosive pentaerythritol trinitrate, used on Northwest Airlines flight 253 and by the 'shoe bomber'.

The explosive that nearly brought down Northwest Airlines flight 253 is extremely powerful, allowing terrorists to use only small quantities to cause enormous damage. And the colourless crystals of the substance, PETN or pentaerythritol trinitrate, are hard to detect if carried in a sealed container.

Read more ....

The Grouse's Wishes For A Happy, Techy 2010

From Popular Science:

There goes 2009, and what a year she was. Let’s see, the iTunes App Store eclipsed one billion downloads, Google surprised us all with the announcement of Chrome OS, Windows 7 sent Vista to the big Blue Screen of Death in the sky, Verizon and AT&T started fighting dirty and the e-reader market exploded. But instead of looking back at the year that was, we of course always find it a lot more fun to look forward. So, here’s what’s on my wish list for the year to come in gadgets and tech.

Read more ....

Women 'Can Sense Attraction In Men's Sweat'

The smell of a man's sweat differs according to what mood he is in Photo: AFP/GETTY

From The Independent:

Women can sense if men are attracted to them by the smell of his sweat, a new study has revealed.

The smell of a man's sweat differs according to what mood he is in and women can pick up on changes that indicate attraction, according to new research.

The study, led by Dr Denise Chen, assistant professor of psychology at Rice University, in Texas, America, involved introducing two types of male sweat to 19 women in their 20s - one type was labelled 'normal', the other 'sexual'.

Read more ....

Cao Cao: Chinese Archaeologists Uncover Vast Tomb Of Infamous 3rd Century Ruler

The austere interior of Cao Cao's tomb. He ruled the Kingdom of Wei from 208 to 220 AD.

From The Daily Mail:

Chinese archaeologists have found what could be the tomb of Cao Cao, a skilful general and ruler in the third century who was later depicted in popular folklore as the archetypal cunning politician.

Archaeological officials say Cao's 8,000 sq ft tomb complex, with a 130ft passage leading to an underground chamber, was found in Xigaoxue, a village near the ancient capital of Anyang in central Henan province.

Read more ....

2009 Review: Most Popular Articles Of The Year

New Scientist solves 10 mysteries of you

From New Scientist:

2009 was a year of economic austerity, worries about climate change and ongoing turmoil in the Middle East. It was, on the whole, a bit grim.

But you'd never know it from looking at our website monitoring software, which suggests that New Scientist readers were more concerned with how to decode ancient languages, the nature of female ejaculation and whether the cosmos is really a giant hologram.

In ascending order, here are the 12 most popular articles of 2009 – one for each of the days of Christmas.

Read more ....

Technology Changes 'Outstrip' Netbooks

Netbooks are under pressure as tech firms concentrate on mobile computing.

From The BBC:

Rising prices and better alternatives may mean curtains for netbooks.

The small portable computers were popular in 2009, but some industry watchers are convinced that their popularity is already waning.

"The days of the netbook are over," said Stuart Miles, founder and editor of technology blog Pocket Lint.

As prices edge upwards, net-using habits change and other gadgets take on their functions, netbooks will become far less popular, he thinks.

Read more ....

Monday, December 28, 2009

As The World Churns: Earth's Liquid Outer Core Is Slowly 'Stirred' In A Series Of Decades-Long Waves

By combining measurements of Earth's magnetic field from stations on land and ships at sea with satellite data, scientists were able to isolate six regularly occurring waves of motion taking place deep within Earth's liquid core, with varying timescales. (Credit: NASA/JPL)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Dec. 28, 2009) — Most of the time, at least from our perspective here on the ground, Terra firma seems to be just that: solid. Yet the Earth beneath our feet is actually in constant motion. It moves through time and space, of course, along with the other objects in the universe, but it moves internally as well.

Read more ....

Body Of Sea Urchin Is One Big Eye

A purple sea urchin, Credit: Claire Fackler, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries

From Live Science:

Sea urchins may use the whole surface of their bodies as compound eyes, scientists now suggest.

Although sea urchins don't have any problems avoiding predators or finding comfortable dark corners to hide in, they don't have eyes. The question then is how they see.

Genetic analysis of sea urchins has revealed they have light-sensitive molecules, mostly in their tube feet and in tiny stalked appendages found in among their spines. As such, "it looks like the entire surface of their bodies are acting as one big eye," said researcher Sönke Johnsen, a marine biologist at Duke University.

Read more ....

Google Netbook Specs Reportedly 'Leaked'

From eWeek:

The rumored Google Netbook, which Google has not confirmed it is working on, will reportedly feature Google’s Chrome OS, a 10.1-inch multi-touch display, a beefy ARM processor and 2GB of RAM, according to the U.K.’s IBTimes, which says it has received specs for the netbook.

Tech specifications for the netbook that Google is rumored to be creating have been “leaked,” according to England’s IBTimes.

Read more ....

The Top 9 Airplane Tech Advances Of The Last 10 Years

Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk

From Popular Mechanics:

The aughts capped 100 years of powered flight, pushing the technologies introduced in the 20th century to their limits. This past decade has seen the development of the biggest passenger airplanes, the fastest, most agile and stealthiest fighters, and the joy of flight brought to the amateur pilot as never before. The coming decade promises breakthroughs such as combat-ready unmanned aerial vehicles, commercial rocket planes, hypersonic jets, and more. Here's a look back at the aviation milestones of the aughts and a glimpse of what the coming decade might hold.

Read more

Your Guide To The Year In Science: 2010

Exclusive Patent Rights Countdown

From Popular Science:

A deeper look at polar ice. An electric-car renaissance. The death and rebirth of major scientific experiments. Read on to discover what this year has in store.

Our annual sci-tech forecast looks at what 2010 has in store for medicine, space, aviation, the environment, technology and entertainment.

Read more ....

Large Hadron Collider Failure Will Leave Science Back In The 'Wilderness'

Particle tracks of protons collided in CERN's Large Hadron Collider Photo: AP

From The Telegraph:

Science will be left back in a "nightmarish wilderness" if the Large Hadron Collider fails to find the elusive Higgs Boson, warns a rebel physicist.

Former Harvard research scholar, professor Shahriar Afshar said that failure to find the particle would bring current scientific theory tumbling down like a house of cards with nothing to replace it.

The controversial physicist, whose Afshar experiment has already found a loophole in quantum theory, said that unless the scientific community starts contemplating a "plan B", failure could lead to "chaos and infighting".

Read more ....

At Last! Apple Tablet Is Slated For Launch In January

Industry experts believe the 'iSlate' - a cross between an iPhone and a laptop - could signal the end of the keyboard and mouse system

From The Daily Mail:

Over the past decade the iPod has revolutionised the way we listen to music, and the iPhone is the must-have gadget when it comes to mobile phones.
So it seems entirely fitting that Apple should choose the start of a new decade to launch its latest product - which could entirely change the way we use computers.

Rumours are rife that Steve Jobs, the company's chief executive, is planning to unveil a touch screen computer known as the 'iSlate' at the end of next month.

Read more ....

Sugar-Free Satisfaction: Finding The Brain's Sweet Spot

The calorie-free version fails to activate a reward area of the brain
(Image: Patrick Norman/Fancy/Plainpicture)

From New Scientist:

CONTAINS zero calories! Countless soft drinks are emblazoned with that slogan as a come-on for those of us locked in a never-ending battle to rein in a spreading waistline. Calorie-free sweeteners certainly have a lot to offer. Food and drink manufacturers have become so good at blending sugar substitutes into their products that it can be almost impossible to tell them apart from the real thing - sucrose - in taste tests.

Read more ....

Pulling The 'Mating Plug' May Reduce Mosquito Population And Malaria Rates

A malaria-carrying Anopheles gambiae mosquito. About 40% of the world's population is at risk of malaria, a potentially deadly disease. (CDC / December 26, 2009)

From The L.A. Times:

Scientists find that reproduction fails when they interfere with the enzyme that causes the plug to form. The team hopes the finding can be developed for use in the field.

Interfering in mosquitoes' sex lives could help halt the spread of malaria, British scientists said this week.

A study on the species of mosquito mainly responsible for malaria transmission in Africa, Anopheles gambiae, showed that because these mosquitoes mate only once in their lives, meddling with that process could dramatically cut their numbers.

Read more ....

Disinfectants 'Train' Superbugs To Resist Antibiotics

From The BBC:

Disinfectants could effectively train bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics, research suggests.

Scientists know bacteria can become inured to disinfectant, but research increasingly shows the same process may make them resistant to certain drugs.

This can occur even with an antibiotic the bacteria have not been exposed to.

Writing in Microbiology, the National University of Ireland team, who focused on a common hospital bacterium, urges a rethink of how infections are managed.

Read more ....

Amazon E-Book Sales Overtake Print For First Time

In the US, Amazon says its Kindle e-book reader is its most gifted product.
Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

From The Guardian:

Online retailer may be on target for sales of 500,000 Kindle e-readers over Christmas.

Spare a thought for the humble hardback this Christmas. It seems the traditional giftwrapped tome is being trumped by downloads, after Amazon customers bought more e-books than printed books for the first time on Christmas Day.

As people rushed to fill their freshly unwrapped e-readers – one of the top-selling gadgets this festive season – the online retailer said sales at its electronic book store quickly overtook orders for physical books. Its own e-reader, the Kindle, is now the most popular gift in Amazon's history.

Read more

Neuroscientists Store Information in Isolated Brain Tissue; Possible Basis Of Short-Term Memory

Location of the hippocampus in the human brain. Modified from a scan of a plate of "Posterior and inferior cornua of left lateral ventricle exposed from the side" in Gray's Anatomy. (Credit: Courtesy of Wikipedia)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Dec. 28, 2009) — Ben W. Strowbridge, PhD, associate professor of neuroscience and physiology/biophysics, and Phillip Larimer, PhD, a MD/PhD student in the neurosciences graduate program at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, are the first to create stimulus-specific sustained activity patterns in brain circuits maintained in vitro.

Read more