Saturday, October 3, 2009

Quick Rebound From Marine Mass Extinction Event, New Findings Show

An artist's rendering of the asteroid impact that took place 65 million years ago and likely killed off nearly every large vertebrate species on the planet, including, many think, the dinosaurs. (Credit: Don Davis/NASA)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Oct. 3, 2009) — In 1980, Luis Alvarez and his collaborators stunned the world with their discovery that an asteroid impact 65 million years ago probably killed off the dinosaurs and much of the the world's living organisms. But ever since, there has been an ongoing debate about how long it took for life to return to the devastated planet and for ecosystems to bounce back.

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Lamp Runs On Human Blood

A lamp that uses blood to create light is meant to make people rethink how they use energy. The lamp contains luminol, a chemical that reacts with the iron in blood and creates a bright blue glow. Credit: Mike Thompson,

From Live Science:

What if, every time you wanted to switch on a light, you had to bleed? Would you think twice before illuminating the room, and in turn, using up energy?

That's the idea behind the blood lamp, invented by Mike Thomspon, an English designer based in The Netherlands. The lamp contains luminol – the same chemical forensic scientists use to check for traces of blood at a crime scence. Luminol reacts with the iron in red blood cells and creates a bright blue glow.
To use the lamp, you first need to mix in an activating powder. Then, you break the glass, cut yourself, and drip blood into the opening.

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Viking 2 Came Close To Finding H2O

Photo: Just a little bit more: New evidence suggests Viking 2 just missed digging into Martian ice (Source: NASA)

From ABC News (Australia):

The NASA Viking 2 probe, which landed on Mars in 1976, may have come within centimetres of finding water three decades before it was eventually found.

The finding could result in scientists re-evaluating data collected by the spacecraft, which was sent to look for signs of life on the red planet.

"Oh my, oh my," says retired Viking scientist Dr Patricia Straat.

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World's Largest Wind Farm Churns in Texas

Photo: Wind turbines collectively offering a 781.5-megawatt capacity now dot the landscape around Roscoe, Texas. (E.ON Climate & Renewables)

From CBS News:

100,000-Acre Complex Holds 627 Turbines Capable of Generating Enough Juice To Power 230,000 Homes

(CBS/AP) The world's largest wind farm officially got up and running Thursday, with all 627 towering wind turbines churning out electricity across 100,000 acres of West Texas farmland.

The Roscoe Wind Complex, which began construction in 2007 and sprawls across four counties near Roscoe, is generating its full capacity of 781.5 megawatts, enough to power 230,000 homes, the German company E.ON Climate and Renewables North America said.

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Report: Rocky Month For Upstart Bing

From Christian Science Monitor:

A new report shows Microsoft Bing lost some of its momentum in September, while Google expanded its dominance over the US search market – a rare ding for the scrappy young Bing.

According to the Web analytics firm StatCounter, Bing slipped from 9.6 percent of the market in August to 8.5 percent in September. Meanwhile, Google inched from 77.8 percent in August to 80 percent of the domestic market in September.

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Polar Bear Cub Hitches A Ride

From The BBC:

Arctic waters are at best chilly and at worst close to freezing.

Which may explain why a polar bear cub has recently been seen riding on the back of its mother as the bears swim across parts of the Arctic Ocean.

The cub then briefly rode her back as she clambered out of the icy water, a unique event photographed by a tourist.

Experts have rarely seen the behaviour, and they say the latest find suggests it may be a more common practice than previously thought.

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What Does A Star Sound Like?

The Big Bang A supernova like this would sound like 10 octillion two-megaton nuclear bombs exploding. Nasa/CXC/M. Weiss

From Popular Science:

Observing a star up close (putting aside for a moment how you’d get there or withstand its heat) is probably like sitting beside an enormous silent fire. Sounds—which are simply pressure variations in a medium such as air or water—can’t propagate in the vacuum of space, so the roiling surface of a star would make an impression on the eyes, but not the ears.

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How The Spaceship Got Its Shape

“Little Joe” capsules were the precursors of Alan Shepard’s Mercury spacecraft.
(NASA Langley Research Center)

From Air & Space Smithsonian:

In the 1950s Harvey Allen solved the problem of atmospheric entry. But first he had to convince his colleagues.

The cover of the March 22, 1952 issue of Collier’s magazine made an audacious promise. “Man Will Conquer Space Soon,” blared the headline, above a painting of a multi-stage rocket with engines blazing, bound for orbit. Designed by German rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun, whose name was still unknown to most Americans, the Collier’s spaceship was a sleek, needle-nosed beauty; its winged third stage would be piloted to a runway landing. But it was all wrong.

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Today's Babies Could Live To 22nd Century

Babies born today have a good chance of making to 100 years of age, says a new study. Credit: iStockphoto

From Cosmos:

PARIS: More than half of the babies born today in rich countries will live to 100 years if current trends of life expectancy continue, says a study in the medical journal The Lancet.

In the 20th century, most developed countries saw an increase of around 30 years in life expectancy, according to the paper led by Kaare Christensen, a professor at the Danish Ageing Research Centre at the University of Southern Denmark.

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Protein That Enhances Long-term Memory By Controlling Rest Intervals Identified

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Oct. 3, 2009) — As most good students realize, repeated studying produces good memory. Those who study a lot realize, further, that what they learn tends to be preserved longer in memory if they space out learning sessions between rest intervals. Neuroscientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have now discovered how this so-called "spacing effect" is controlled in the brain at the level of individual molecules.

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Only 3 Countries In The World Have More People Than Facebook

From Pingdom:

The Facebook phenomenon continues. Yesterday Facebook announced that it has a whopping 300 million active users.

Three. Hundred. Million. Users.

For some perspective on how huge that is:

* There are only THREE countries in the entire world that have a population of more than 300 million. Those are China (1.33 billion), India (1.17 billion) and USA (307 million).
* Russia has a population of 142 million. That’s not even half of Facebook’s user base.
* Facebook has almost five times as many users as the entire population of the UK (62 million).

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Scientists Discover What Makes The Same Type Of Cells Different

Cell-to-cell variability in clathrin-mediated endocytosis (green signal) is determined by local cell density. (Credit: Image courtesy of ETH Zurich)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Oct. 3, 2009) — A research team led by Lucas Pelkmans at ETH Zürich has managed to decipher a well-known phenomenon that had, until now, remained unexplained: why cells of the same type can react differently, and what the reason for this is.

The properties of a cell population determine the different cell activities observed in cells of the same type. This is the conclusion drawn by a research team lead by Lucas Pelkmans, professor at the Institute for Molecular Systems Biology at ETH Zürich.

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Paleo-Case Solved: Ancient Sharks Fed on Giant Reptile

This artist's rendering reveals what an ancient marine reptile called a plesiosaur discovered in Antarctica may have looked like. The plesiosaur described in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, though not the same species, also sported four fins and a long neck. Analyses of shark teeth embedded in the reptile's bones suggest a feeding frenzy of sorts once the reptile died. Credit: Nicolle Rager, National Science Foundation.

From Live Science:

This artist's rendering reveals what an ancient marine reptile called a plesiosaur discovered in Antarctica may have looked like. The plesiosaur described in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, though not the same species, also sported four fins and a long neck. Analyses of shark teeth embedded in the reptile's bones suggest a feeding frenzy of sorts once the reptile died. Credit: Nicolle Rager, National Science Foundation.

Read more ....

Twitter CEO On The Future Of Twitter

Photo: Twitter co-founder Evan Williams (Twitter)

From CBS:

Co-Founder Evan Williams on New Innovations For Popular Networking Site.

(CBS) The co-founder of Twitter unveiled new innovations on the horizon for the popular social networking site, including user-generated lists to follow tweets from many originators on a particular subject, and geographical location datelines to show where tweets are coming from.

Evan Williams, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who co-founded Twitter, also said Twitter is working on a reputation validating system to address isues of credibility for the site. Twitter became a major newsmaker this year when Iranians sent tweets about the brutal Iranian government crackdown on protesters.

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Amazon Agrees To Kindle Suit Settlement

Photo: Emmanuel Dunand / AFP/Getty Images

From San Francisco Chronicle: has agreed that it won't remove e-books from U.S. users' Kindle electronic readers without their permission, as part of a proposed settlement of a lawsuit over the online retailer's deletion of a George Orwell novel from a high school student's e-reader.

Justin D. Gawronski, a 17-year-old student in Shelby Township, Michigan, sued Amazon after it erased copies of the Orwell works "1984" and "Animal Farm" from customers' Kindles in July. Gawronski's suit claimed removing "1984" from his Kindle made electronic notes he had taken on the e-reader useless. He was reading the book for an advanced placement course in which he had to turn in "reflections" on each 100 pages of text.

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Pirate Bay Suffers Outage, Site Back Up

The Pirate Bay founders: Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, Fredrik Neij, and Gottfrid Svartholm
(Credit: The Pirate Bay)

From CNET:

The Pirate Bay was down across the U.S. for at least three hours on Friday, an outage that comes as the site's latest bandwidth provider comes under pressure from entertainment companies.

CNET noted that the site was down at 1:22 p.m. PDT but appeared to come back up at 4:50 p.m. PDT. The cause for the blackout was unclear. Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, one of The Pirate Bay's co-founders did not respond to interview requests.

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Update: Google: Pirate Bay booted off search by mistake -- CNET

Why Don’t Pregnant Women Tip Over? Ask An Ig Noble Winner.

Photo: Fumiaki Taguchi, professor emeritus at the graduate school of medical sciences in Kitasato University, makes a speech during the Ig Noble awards ceremony at Harvard University's historic Sanders Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Oct. 1. Taguchi is among this year's winners of the Ig Nobel Prize for developing a method to cut kitchen refuse using bacteria derived from giant panda feces.

From The Christian Science Monitor:

At Harvard University, a select group of researchers receive their Ig Noble awards.

It’s October again, which means it’s time for the Ig Nobles – a set of prizes awarded to discoveries “that cannot, or should not, be reproduced.” The Ig Nobels were dished out last night at Sanders Theater, on the campus of Harvard University, and the awards, which cover categories ranging from physics to physiology, appear to have gone to the appropriate “innovators.”

Here’s the full list of winners, courtesy of the Associated Press:

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Herschel Scans Hidden Milky Way

Herschel trains two eyes, Pacs and Spire, on our Galaxy's centre

From The BBC:

A remarkable view of our Galaxy has been obtained by Europe's billion-euro Herschel Space Observatory.

The telescope was put in a special scanning mode to map a patch of sky.

The images reveal in exquisite detail the dense, contorted clouds of cold gas that are collapsing in on themselves to form new stars.

Herschel, which has the largest mirror ever put on an orbiting telescope, was launched in May as a flagship mission of the European Space Agency.

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GOCE Harnesses Ion Propulsion To Capture First 'Gravity Map' Of Earth

Ion-Propelled Gradiometer GOCE must remain in stable free fall at low orbit, so an electric ion propulsion engine constantly provides small bursts of thrusts to counteract any air resistance the craft encounters. ESA - AOES Medialab

From Popular Science:

After six months of testing and very careful calibration, the European Space Agency’s GOCE satellite is sending back its first data sets as it now begins precisely mapping tiny variations in Earth’s magnetic field. How does one go about mapping the Earth’s fundamental force? As it turns out, very, very carefully.

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The Shining: What We Still Have To Learn About The Northern Lights.

A typical Alaskan sky, photographed from Eielson Air Force Base, 25 miles southeast of Fairbanks, displays auroral structures and motions that scientists still find mystifying. (USAF/ Senior Airman Joshua Strang)

From Air & Space Smithsonian:

What first appeared almost an hour ago as a strange green cloud in the northeast has now spread across most of the sky near Alaska’s Poker Flat Research Range. Sheets of green light shimmer in front of the stars, waxing and waning, as electrons from the solar wind rain down through Earth’s atmosphere, colliding with atoms and creating the aurora. Here, watching the light show under a zillion stars, I get a strong, almost physical awareness of being on a planet—a planet orbiting a star and connected to it, despite the 93 million miles of space separating them.

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e-Wolf's e2 Next-Gen EV Supercar a Handsome Powerhouse

e-Wolf's e2 Electric Vehicle: With a top speed of 155 mph and 0-60 acceleration in under four seconds, the e2's performance is nothing to scoff at (for an EV especially). e-Wolf

From Popular Science:

No sooner does Tesla announce that it's expanding its vision to include minivans and crossovers, e-Wolf unveils an EV supercar that’s so sporty we’ve forgotten what Tesla’s Roadster even looks like. With a top speed of 155 miles per hour and a 0-60 acceleration that clocks in under four seconds, it has the performance to (somewhat) match its Italian playboy good looks, and its all-wheel drive (each wheel is powered by an independent electric motor) should be able to keep all 2,000 pounds of it on the road.

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Scientists Develop Nasal Spray That Improves Memory

Good news for procrastinating students: a nasal spray developed by a team of German scientists promises to give late night cram sessions a major boost, if a good night's sleep follows. (Credit: iStockphoto/Ana Blazic)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Oct. 2, 2009) — Good news for procrastinating students: a nasal spray developed by a team of German scientists promises to give late night cram sessions a major boost, if a good night's sleep follows. In a research report featured as the cover story of the October 2009 print issue of The FASEB Journal, these scientists show that a molecule from the body's immune system (interleukin-6) when administered through the nose helps the brain retain emotional and procedural memories during REM sleep.

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Dinosaur-killing Space Rock Barely Rattled Algae

A close-up view of the 40-centimeter-wide Fish Clay boundary layer. Credit: J. Sepúlveda.

From Live Science:

The asteroid impact that many researchers claim was the cause of the dinosaur die-off was bad news for marine life at the time as well. But new research shows that microalgae – one of the primary producers in the ocean – bounced back from the global extinction in about 100 years or less.

Most of the research on the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-P) extinction event, previously called the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) event, has involved charting the loss of organisms that had bones or shells.

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Sedatives May Slow Recovery From Trauma

Benzodiazepines may not be the answer for soldiers suffering stress from the horrors of war (Image: Sipa Press/Rex Features)

From New Scientist:

GIVING sleeping pills to soldiers and earthquake victims is common practice, yet it could be doing more harm than good. That's the suggestion from a study of traumatised rats, which seemed to show that the drugs suppressed the rodent's natural mechanisms for coping with trauma.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs says it will consider this and other studies when preparing new guidelines on treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If their results are strong enough, it may recommend withholding sedatives in the aftermath of traumatic events. The findings are also throwing up new possibilities for preventing PTSD (see "Fight stress with stress").

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Nature's Clones: What Twins Have Taught Us

Studies on twins have revealed the genetic nature of many medical conditions, including autism and ADHD. Now they're giving us unnerving insights into many behavioural traits too.Credit: iStockphoto

From Cosmos:

Is it our experiences or our genes that make us who we are? Studying twins has revealed unexpected, and often unnerving, insights into the nature versus nurture debate.

Imagine receiving a phone call out of the blue. You find the voice on the other end eerily familiar as it tells you some life-changing news: you are, in fact, a twin. And when it comes time to meet face-to-face, you find it’s like gazing into a mirror. You share a similar dress sense, hairstyle and even idiosyncratic gestures and expressions you thought were uniquely yours.

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Meeting Pretty Women Makes Men Feel Good

Psychologists found that just a five minute talk with an attractive women raised the levels of testosterone by 14 per cent Photo: GETTY IMAGES

From The Telegraph:

Flirting with an attractive woman really does make men feel good, scientists find, as they discover it causes a surge in health-giving hormones.

Researchers found that just being in the presence of a pretty member of the opposite sex causes a temporary boost in levels of testosterone and cortisol – both hormones associated with alertness and wellbeing.

However hanging around with other men has the opposite affect – reducing the levels of both substances in the body.

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The Secrets Of Ancient Rome

Rose Ferraby from the University of Southampton works on a three-seat communal toilet discovered at the site of the ancient port of the Roman Empire Photograph: Chris Ison/PA

From The Guardian:

The discovery of a major new archaeological site in Italy is a reminder that the world is still stuffed with secrets.

Look down from a height at any landscape in this slanting autumn light, and you'll see that the ground is only a thin blanket thrown over the remains of the past. The faint marks of fields and walls, houses and roads, show up even in the heart of cities – in relics as humble as the outline of a lost Edwardian rose bed, marring the bland green perfection of a suburban lawn.

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Video: The Robot That Can Turn Into A Car

From The Daily Mail:

A Japanese inventor has designed a robot that can change from robot to vehicle in seconds - and can even offer 'piggy-backs' on its shoulders.

Looking a bit like Optimus Prime, the lead character of the Transformers films, the robot is even prepared to battle, especially when it takes exception to sharing the stage with a smaller robot.

The three-foot high creation took part in the Robo-One competition, which aims to drive the creation of humanoid-shaped robots.

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How Aviation Can Come Clean

Image: Flying wing: The Boeing X-48B, an unmanned prototype with a 6.4-meter wingspan, has a blended-wing design that could one day replace that of today's commercial planes. Credit: NASA

From Technology Review:

Advanced technology won't be enough for the industry to meet its own greenhouse-gas targets.

Last week the global aviation industry called on the United Nations to establish a single, worldwide policy for reducing aviation greenhouse-gas emissions, in an attempt to avoid a costly network of regional regulations. The industry proposed two primary goals--that by 2020 it should stop increasing its greenhouse emissions, and that by 2050 it should cut its emissions by 50 percent compared to 2005 levels.

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Students Build The Solar Homes Of The Future

From Popular Mechanics:

For the Solar Decathlon, 20 teams of college students strive to build the most technologically savvy sun-powered house. For two weeks in October their homes go head to head in a contest to consume the least energy.

On a hot and bright California day, the red steel frame of a half-built house, its footprint a jagged stamp on the landscape, glints in the sunshine beaming down on Santa Clara University. Crawling around the crescent-shaped structure, workers holler measurements, fasten sheathing and snap chalk lines. They’re wearing hard hats and tool belts, and the noise of steel swatting plywood sounds unmistakably like a job site. But this is hardly a construction crew out of central casting.

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With Drone Shortage, Air Force Pilots Train With Cessnas Dressed Up Like Predators

Surrogate Predator: A Cessna 182 wears the sensor ball
of a Predator Lon Carlson, L-3 Communications.

From Popular Science:

Converted manned aircraft with mounted sensor balls will imitate Predators and Reapers during military exercises.

A high demand for Predators and Reapers on the front lines has led the U.S. Air Force to take an unusual step: asking human pilots to mimic the drones for training purposes back in the States.

Cessna 182 aircraft have become converted "Surrogate Predators" with the installation of a "Predator ball" that typically serves as the surveillance and tracking eyes for drone operators. Such Predator balls give the manned Cessnas the ability to lock onto targets and track them.

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Uncivilisation: The Dark Mountain Manifesto

From New Statesman:

We have, it seems, led the planet into the age of ecocide. Can civilisation survive the unavoidable environmental catastrophe? To stand a chance we will need cool heads, not fiery dreams.

During the past century empires crashed, new states foundered, utopian projects failed and entire civilisations melted down. Revolutionary change was the norm, as it has been throughout modern times. Yet today many of us assume our present way of life will last for ever, and any suggestion that it may be facing intractable difficulties is dismissed as doom-mongering. The result is that the precariousness of modern civilisation is underestimated and the impression that things can go on indefinitely, much as they do now is touted as hard-headed realism.

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New Ancient Fungus Finding Suggests World's Forests Were Wiped Out In Global Catastrophe

An enlarged image of Reduviasporonites. Scientists believe extinct fungus species capitalised on a world-wide disaster and thrived on early Earth. (Credit: Image courtesy of Imperial College London)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Oct. 2, 2009) — Tiny organisms that covered the planet more than 250 million years ago appear to be a species of ancient fungus that thrived in dead wood, according to new research published October 1 in the journal Geology.

The researchers behind the study, from Imperial College London and other universities in the UK, USA and The Netherlands, believe that the organisms were able to thrive during this period because the world's forests had been wiped out. This would explain how the organisms, which are known as Reduviasporonites, were able to proliferate across the planet.

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Exploring The Mysteries Of The Ocean Floor

The submersible Alvin which Emily Beale and her colleagues used to collect sediment from methane seeps in the Eel River Basin in California. Credit: Emily Beal, Penn State University

From Live Science:

About three years ago, Emily Beal — a graduate student in geosciences at Penn State —eagerly boarded the deep-diving research submersible called Alvin, bound for the bottom of the ocean.

After squeezing into Alvin’s titanium sphere, Beal began her plunge to the ocean floor with more than a tad of claustrophobia. Alvin was just big enough to hold her, the submersible’s pilot, and Penn State colleague Chris House. Fortunately, as Beal peered out of Alvin’s plate-sized portholes during her descent, her claustrophobia quickly gave way to pure, unalloyed exhilaration.

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Health Claim Of Probiotics Not Accepted

From The Independent:

£220m-a-year 'dairy shots' industry in disarray following EU scientists' ruling.

Drink this yogurt for a healthier stomach. Thirty million shoppers have swallowed the claims for probiotics as enthusiastically as the sweet fermented milk in the belief that "good bacteria" will defeat "bad bacteria" in epic microscopic battles inside our bodies.

But claims that probiotic ingredients improve health can not be supported, according to an extensive review of scientific research by a team of experts from the European Union.

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Best Of The Ig Nobel Prizes 2009

Surely there is more than one use for a bra?
(Image: Jessica Peterson/Getty)

From New Scientist:

Why don't pregnant women topple over? Do cows notice kindness? Does cracking your knuckles bring on arthritis? And is there more than one use for a bra? These questions and more inspired the research rewarded at the Ig Nobels, which were handed out on Thursday at Harvard University in a ceremony organised by the Annals of Improbable Research.

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Word Has It That eReaders Will Open The Next Chapter

From Times Online:

Microsoft and Apple are about to follow the tablet trend.

TRAVELLING between airports has given analyst Jon Peddie lots of time to study tech trends. There was the rise of the mobile, laptops, the iPod, the BlackBerry and the iPhone.

Now Peddie, who runs California-based Jon Peddie Research, sees another change coming: the rise of the eReader.

Laptops are becoming less popular, he reckons, and even netbooks are fading. The new must-have is an eReader.

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Siberian Volcano 'Wiped Out World's Forests' 250m Years Ago

According to scientists a huge Siberian volcano destroyed the
world's forests 250 million years ago Photo: GETTY

From The Telegraph:

A huge Siberian volcano destroyed the world's forests 250 million years ago in what scientists say was the worst extinction event the planet has ever witnessed, new research has disclosed.

It rained fire and acid rain for hundreds of thousands of years and killed 90 percent of all life, including plants and vegetation.

An analysis of ancient fungus that thrives in dead wood has given scientists a window into the event.

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The U.S. Has Decided To Relinquish It's Dominant Control Of The Internet

Customers surf the web at an internet cafe in Beijing. Icann, the body that oversees web addresses, has ended its agreement with the US. Photograph: Greg Baker/AP

US Relinquishes Control Of The Internet -- The Guardian

• Icann ends agreement with the US government
• Move will give other countries a prominent internet role

After complaints about American dominance of the internet and growing disquiet in some parts of the world, Washington has said it will relinquish some control over the way the network is run and allow foreign governments more of a say in the future of the system.

Icann – the official body that ultimately controls the development of the internet thanks to its oversight of web addresses such as .com, .net and .org – said today that it was ending its agreement with the US government.

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With A Wave, Google Aims To Conquer The Network

Among suggested uses for Google Wave are organising trips,
laboratory record-keeping and journalism

From The Daily Mail:

Google last night invited 100,000 people to become the first users of its latest internet tool which aims to rival email, Twitter and Facebook.

Google Wave allows a limitless number of internet users anywhere in the world to have instant conversations and share files.

The service combines aspects of email, instant messaging, social networking and web chat and is aimed at friends catching up with one another and business partners sharing documents.

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A Genetic Fountain Of Youth

Aging machines: Mice lacking a functional version of the protein S6 kinase 1, an important regulator of the body's response to nutrient availability, live longer and healthier lives than their normal counterparts. The mouse on the left lacks the protein. Credit: George Thomas, University of Cincinnati

From Technology Review:

Researchers have identified a genetic tweak that can slow aging in mice.

By disabling a gene involved in an important biochemical signaling pathway, scientists have discovered a way to mimic the well-known anti-aging benefits of caloric restriction, allowing mice to live longer and healthier lives. This finding, published online today in Science, offers a promising drug target for combating the many health problems associated with aging.

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US Relaxes Grip On The Internet

From The BBC:

The US government has relaxed its control over how the internet is run.

It has signed a four-page "affirmation of commitments" with the net regulator Icann, giving the body autonomy for the first time.

Previous agreements gave the US close oversight of Icann - drawing criticism from other countries and groups.

The new agreement comes into effect on 1 October, exactly 40 years since the first two computers were connected on the prototype of the net.

"It's a beautifully historic day," Rod Beckstrom, Icann's head, told BBC News.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Elderly Women Sleep Better Than They Think, Men Sleep Worse

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Oct. 1, 2009) — A study in the Oct.1 issue of the journal Sleep shows that elderly women sleep better than elderly men even though women consistently report that their sleep is shorter and poorer.

Women reported less and poorer sleep than men on all of the subjective measures, including a 13.2 minute shorter total sleep time (TST), 10.1 minute longer sleep onset latency (SOL), and a 4.2 percent lower sleep efficiency. When sleep was measured objectively, however, women slept 16 minutes lon¬ger than men, had a 1.2 percent higher sleep efficiency, and had less fragmented sleep.

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Scary Film 'Paranormal Activity' Is Disappointingly Normal

A scene from the low-budget, limited-release film "Paranormal Activity," which aims to scare the pants off moviegoers with scenes that have that documentary feel. Credit: Paramount Pictures

From Live Science:

“Paranormal Activity,” a horror film now in limited release across the country, tells the story of a young couple who move into a typical suburban house but are soon disturbed by a supernatural entity that delights in scaring them in the middle of the night. The pair (one a skeptic and one a believer, in true “X-Files” fashion) use a video camera aimed at their bed to document the strange forces that disturb them when they are trying to sleep.

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The Desperate Need For New Antibiotics

The number of different antibiotics available to treat infections is dwindling.
Najlah Feanny / Corbis

From Time Magazine:

In recent years, efforts to combat drug-resistant bacteria have focused on the immediate goal of reducing rates of hospital-acquired infections. But now global health officials face an approaching crisis: the number of different antibiotics available to treat such infections when they do occur is dwindling because pharmaceutical companies have neglected to invest in the development of new types of drugs.

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Apple’s Tablet Could Be Print Industry’s Lifeboat

From Gadget Lab:

The more you think about it, the more obvious it is that an Apple tablet would specialize in reviving dead-tree media (i.e., newspapers, magazines and books). All the rumors suggest the device would be a larger iPod Touch/iPhone with a 10-inch screen. Previously argued that redefining print would would be a logical purpose for a gadget this size, and Gizmodo today has even more details to prove that this is Apple’s goal with the tablet.

Gizmodo’s Brian Lam cites two people related to The New York Times, who claim Apple approached them to talk about repurposing the newspaper onto a “new device.” Lam notes that Jobs has called the Times the “best newspaper in the world” in past keynotes. (I recall him saying that when introducing the iPhone’s web browser at Macworld Expo 2007.)

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Disarmingly Cute: 8 Military Robots That Spy, Fly, And Do Yoga

From Discover Magazine:

A new generation of military robots are coming soon to a battlefield near you. These new battle bots are more WALL*E than ED-209—cute, small, and innocent-looking, rather than giant and murderous.

But while they may appear adorable, the latest generation of robotic warriors can do a lot more than box up trash. Here are a few examples of these cute but deadly robots in action—leaping walls, flipping trucks and…doing yoga?

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Campaign Asks For International Treaty To Limit War Robots

Robots are synonymous with modern warfare, but what are the ethical implications? (Image: Ethan Miller/Getty)

From New Scientist:

A robotics expert, a physicist, a bioethicist and a philosopher have founded the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) to campaign for limits on robotic military hardware.

Roboticist Noel Sharkey at the University of Sheffield, UK, and his colleagues set up ICRAC after a two-day meeting in Sheffield earlier this month. Sharkey has spoken before of ethical concerns about military systems that make their own decisions.

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Real or Fake? The World's Longest Basketball Shot

From Popular Science:

If we time the flight, we can then apply some ballpark approximations to determine whether the trajectory we see in the video conforms to that flight time. Using our stopwatch we observe that the ball is in the air for 3.8 seconds before passing through the basket. The horizontal distance to the basket from the launch point is approximately 50 meters, and the launch angle θ is about 20 degrees.

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New Filters In Google Search For Speed, News

The new options on the left side of a regular Google search results page emphasize how important presentation has become in search results. (Credit: Google)

From CNET:

Google has added a few new filters to the search options panel it introduced last May, emphasizing speed and continuity on its search results pages.

The "show options" link at the top of a Google search results page brings up a number of filters on the left side of the search results page that allow searchers to refine their queries, allowing them to search just for content types like videos or search results from a certain timeline. Google is gradually rolling out some new options in that panel, allowing searchers to find results from the last hour or results posted in Google Books or Google News, said Nundu Janakiram, product manager in search.

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The End Of Skype?

Mario Tama / Getty

The Skype Founders' Revenge Against eBay -- Time Magazine

Just when eBay thought it had figured out a way to unload a majority interest in Skype, along came the Scandinavian founders of the world's biggest provider of Internet telephony to sink the $1.9 billion deal — and perhaps Skype itself.

Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis are suing eBay, based in San Jose, Calif., and a consortium of investors that includes private-equity firms Silver Lake, Andreessen Horowitz (co-owned by Netscape's Marc Andreessen) and the Canada Pension Plan over the breach of a software-licensing agreement.

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New Nobel Prizes Are 'Unlikely'

From The BBC:

Calls from a group of eminent scientists for new Nobel prizes look unlikely to prove successful.

The group had argued that the current range of prizes was too narrow to reflect the breadth of modern science.

The Nobel prizes are considered to be the most prestigious awards in science, and are limited to a few categories.

But a senior official from the Nobel Foundation has told BBC News that the categories were outlined in Alfred Nobel's will and would not change.

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