Saturday, March 27, 2010

Autonomous Submarinebot Heads Down on Deepest-Ever Undersea Search For Undiscovered Life

Autosub6000 via The Register

From The Popular Science:

While some scientists resort to undersea drilling to find undiscovered forms of life, a new group of researchers has decided that piloting a robotic submarine into a submerged volcano was the way to go. By exploring the deepest, hottest, undersea volcano ever probed, the researchers hope to find clues to both the beginnings of life on Earth, and the possible forms of life on other planets.

Read more ....

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pollution From Asia Circles Globe At Stratospheric Heights

Factories line the shores of the lower Yangtze River in China. Heavy pollution tied to China's rapid industrial growth has produced poor visibility and health effects. (Credit: Copyright UCAR, Photo by William Bradford)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Mar. 26, 2010) — The economic growth across much of Asia comes with a troubling side effect: pollutants from the region are being wafted up to the stratosphere during monsoon season. The new finding, in a study led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, provides additional evidence of the global nature of air pollution and its effects far above Earth's surface.

Read more ....

Exorbitant Fees Offered to Human Egg Donors, Study Finds

Sperm is implanted into an egg in the process of artificial insemination. Credit: Dreamstime.

From Live Science:

Fertility companies are paying egg donors high fees that often exceed guidelines, especially for donors from top colleges and with certain appearances and ethnicities, a new study finds.

The upshot: Parents with infertility problems are willing to pay up to $50,000 for a human egg they hope will produce a smart, attractive child.

Read more ....

How Much Big Tech Companies Have In The Bank

From Royal Pingdom:

Have you ever wondered how much money Google, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Yahoo, Amazon and other tech giants have in the bank? What kind of assets do they have, how much spending money do they have? The vague answer is, “a lot.” But if you want to find out exactly how much, read on.

To answer these questions, we picked out 15 well-known tech companies and looked at two things:

* Total assets: The value of all assets of a company, including equipment, properties, offices, cash, etc. In short: “everything they own.”
* War chest: The part of a company’s assets that consists of either cash and equivalents, or short term investments that can be quickly converted to cash. In short: “spending money.”

Read more ....

Orbital Upkeep: International Space Station Home Improvement

From The Popular Mechanics:

During a recent NASA and Russian Flight Readiness Review (FRR), engineers described some problems afflicting the International Space Station that may, at first, seem familiar to homeowners on Earth.

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A New Picture Of The X-47B

X-47B Northrop Grumman

Boot Process Complete, Awaiting Command -- Popular Science

Northrop Grumman has released a new photo of their carrier-based attack drone, the X-47B. It's due to make its first flight later this year as part of the Navy's J-UCAS program seeking a multi-purpose sea-based drone.

Read more ....

Hubble Confirms Cosmic Acceleration With Weak Lensing

This image shows a smoothed reconstruction of the total (mostly dark) matter distribution in the COSMOS field, created from data taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and ground-based telescopes. It was inferred from the weak gravitational lensing distortions that are imprinted onto the shapes of background galaxies. The color coding indicates the distance of the foreground mass concentrations as gathered from the weak lensing effect. Structures shown in white, cyan and green are typically closer to us than those indicated in orange and red. To improve the resolution of the map, data from galaxies both with and without redshift information were used. The new study presents the most comprehensive analysis of data from the COSMOS survey. The researchers have, for the first time ever, used Hubble and the natural "weak lenses" in space to characterise the accelerated expansion of the universe. Credit: NASA, ESA, P. Simon (University of Bonn) and T. Schrabback (Leiden Observatory)

From Reuters:

A group of astronomers [1], led by Tim Schrabback of the Leiden Observatory, conducted an intensive study of over 446 000 galaxies within the COSMOS field, the result of the largest survey ever conducted with Hubble. In making the COSMOS survey, Hubble photographed 575 slightly overlapping views of the same part of the Universe using the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) onboard Hubble. It took nearly 1000 hours of observations.

Read more ....

Dawn Of The Anthropocene Epoch? Earth Has Entered New Age of Geological Time, Experts Say

Scientists contend that recent human activity, including stunning population growth, sprawling megacities and increased use of fossil fuels, have changed the planet to such an extent that we are entering what they call the Anthropocene (New Man) Epoch. (Credit: iStockphoto)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Mar. 26, 2010) — Geologists from the University of Leicester are among four scientists- including a Nobel prize-winner -- who suggest that Earth has entered a new age of geological time.

The Age of Aquarius? Not quite -- It's the Anthropocene Epoch, say the scientists writing in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

And they add that the dawning of this new epoch may include the sixth largest mass extinction in Earth's history.

Read more ....

Saturday: Lights Off Worldwide for Earth Hour

The Golden Gate Bridge after lights out, during Earth Hour 2008 in San Fransisco, Calif. Credit: © John Storey / WWF-US

From Live Science:

Cities in 92 countries around the world prepare to shut off their lights for one hour tomorrow in observance of Earth Hour, an annual event geared at showing support for taking action on climate change issues.

During Earth Hour, people around the world are asked to turn off their lights for an hour at 8:30 p.m. local time on March 27. This year the event has topped its participation figure from last year, which was 88 countries.

Read more ....

The Secrets Of Firefly's Shepherd Book Will Finally Be Revealed

From The Escapist:

Shepherd Book, possibly the most mysterious character on Joss Whedon's ill-fated space-western Firefly is to star in in a comic book that will finally let us in on his past.

A character with a mysterious past is hardly a new idea for Joss Whedon, by Firefly's Shepherd Book was a particularly good one. Played by Ron Glass, the Shepherd - the term used for men of the cloth on the show - clearly had not been a God's servant all his life, and some pretty high-level connections with the Alliance. What made the mystery extra-potent however was that the show got cancelled, and we never got to find out what his mysterious past actually was.

Read more ....

Art Of The Steal: On The Trail Of World’s Most Ingenious Thief

Gerald Blanchard could hack any bank, swipe any jewel. There was no security system he couldn't steal. Illustration: Justin Wood

From Wired:

The plane slowed and leveled out about a mile aboveground. Up ahead, the Viennese castle glowed like a fairy tale palace. When the pilot gave the thumbs-up, Gerald Blanchard looked down, checked his parachute straps, and jumped into the darkness. He plummeted for a second, then pulled his cord, slowing to a nice descent toward the tiled roof. It was early June 1998, and the evening wind was warm. If it kept cooperating, Blanchard would touch down directly above the room that held the Koechert Diamond Pearl. He steered his parachute toward his target.

Read more ....

We're Staying In China, Says Microsoft, As Free Speech Row With Google Grows

Microsoft has rejected criticism of its compliance with China’s strict internet laws. Photograph: Claro Cortes/Reuters

From the Guardian:

Most big internet corporations, including household names such as Yahoo and MySpace, follow Microsoft's lead.

Hopes that Google's forthright stand on censorship in China would inspire other companies to follow suit appeared unfounded today, with the move instead threatening to widen the rift between some of the world's most powerful internet companies.

Read more

Women Should Exercise An Hour A Day To Maintain Weight, Study Says

Moderate-intensity activity was defined in the study as walking or hiking, jogging, running, bicycling, aerobic exercise or dance, use of exercise machines, yoga, tennis, squash, racquetball and swimming. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

From L.A. Times:

The recommendation is aimed at women who don't want to diet but do want to avoid gaining weight. Some experts say to take it with a grain of salt.

Gloria Hale rose at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, as usual, to swim laps before work. Active though she is, however, the 55-year-old Orange County woman was a bit stunned to learn the latest advice from researchers regarding exercise -- that women should work out 60 minutes a day, seven days a week, to maintain a normal weight over their lifetime.

"Most people are going to say, 'No way. I don't have time for that,' " said Hale, a trim 5-foot-5 and 138 pounds.

Read more ....

Biologist Wins Templeton Prize

Photo: Francisco J. Ayala

From The New York Times:

Francisco J. Ayala, a biologist and former Roman Catholic priest whose books and speeches offer reassurance that there is no essential contradiction between religious faith and belief in science, particularly the theory of evolution, has won the 2010 Templeton Prize.

The John Templeton Foundation awards the annual prize, worth about $1.5 million, to “a living person who has made exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.”

Read more ....

Gorillas Extinct in Ten Years in Central Africa?

Rangers observe a mountain gorilla in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Virunga National Park. Photograph by Brent Stirton, National Geographic Stock

From National Geographic:

Rise in Chinese timber demand, ape-meat eating, and mining blamed.

Gorillas may soon go extinct across much of central Africa, a new United Nations report says. Among the threats are surges in human populations, the ape-meat trade, and logging and mining as well as the spread of the Ebola virus and other diseases, the report says.

Read more ....

Eye-Tracking Tablet And The Promise Of Text 2.0

From Epicenter:

The best thing about reading a book on a tablet (so far) is how closely it approximates reading a “real” book — which is why the Kindle’s screen is matte like paper rather than luminescent like a laptop. Some (not all) fear for the demise of real reading and writing, but it’s more likely we’re really at the leading edge of an innovation curve that could breathe new life into the written word.

Read more ....

Will Google Help Breach The Great Firewall Of China?

Getting round the censors (Image: Ng Han Guan/AP/PA)

From New Scientist:

From a technical perspective, Google's exit from China in the early hours of 22 March was a low-key affair. Google simply disconnected its self-censored search engine in Beijing, and rerouted its traffic to an uncensored search engine in Hong Kong. Google says attacks on the email accounts of dissidents, which it believes came from the Chinese authorities, made it impossible for it to continue operating there.

Read more ....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

World's Largest Particle Collider May Unlock Secrets of Universe

The Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at the CERN laboratory. (Credit: Courtesy of CERN)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Mar. 25, 2010) — The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator, could generate astonishing new insights into the Big Bang, the building blocks of the universe, the mysterious properties of dark matter and perhaps even extra dimensions in the universe.

Read more ....

Tiny Tyrannosaur Came From The Land Down Under

The fossil was uncovered in Dinosaur Cove, Australia. This map shows the location of Dinosaur Cove approximately 110 million years ago. Credit: Roger Benson, University of Cambridge.

From Live Science:

T-rex's relatives might have once roamed in the land Down Under, according to a new study. A pelvic bone uncovered in Australia marks the first evidence that tyrannosaurs could have inhabited the Southern Hemisphere.

Read more ....

GoDaddy To Stop Registering Domains In China

From CNET:

At least one company is ready to follow Google's stance on doing business in China: GoDaddy.

During a congressional hearing later today to discuss Internet freedom and China, GoDaddy executives plan to announce that they will stop registering domain names in China in response to a new government policy that requires extensive information about registrants, according to The Washington Post. Starting last December, individuals and businesses that wished to register a .cn domain name were being asked to submit a photograph of themselves as well as a serial number identifying their business license in China.

Read more ....

Cities Try Silly Antics To Grab Google's 'Golden Ticket'

From ABC News:

Forget decorum. City officials across the country are getting downright goofy for Google.

When the Mountain View Internet giant announced in February that it would choose at least one community in the U.S. to test an ultra high-speed broadband network, no one knew what kind of antics would ensue.

But over the past few weeks, hoping to lure Google and its experimental fiber optic network, everyone from mayors to ice cream makers have pulled out all the stops in what has become a heated nationwide competition.

Read more ....

Heat-Toting Ocean Currents Chugging Along

From The New York Times:

Here’s a brief update on the great heat-toting oceanic currents that at one time were thought to be at risk from human-driven warming of the climate. There’s been no slowdown at all through much of the past decade and probably none since the early 1990s, according to new work using methods developed by Joshua Willis at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

Read more ....

Global Warming Making People More Aggressive?

A railroad worker in Australia takes a break from the heat. Photograph by William Albert Allard, National Geographic Stock

From National Geographic:

Global warming could make the world a more violent place, because higher temperatures increase human aggression and create volatile situations, a new study says.

The report combined government data about average yearly temperatures with statistics on the number of violent crimes committed between 1950 and 2008.

Read more ....

TJX Hacker Gets 20 Years In Prison

From The threat Level:

BOSTON — Convicted TJX hacker Albert Gonzalez was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Thursday for leading a gang of cyberthieves who stole more than 90 million credit and debit card numbers from TJX and other retailers.

The sentence for the largest computer-crime case ever prosecuted is the lengthiest ever imposed in the United States for hacking or identity-theft. Gonzalez was also fined $25,000. Restitution, which will likely be in the tens of millions, was not decided Thursday.

Read more ....

'Super-Supernova' Challenges Astronomers

The first images of supernova SN2007if - the faint host galaxy could not be made out at the time the supernova was discovered. Credit: NBNL

From Cosmos:

SYDNEY: A star that exceeded its known upper mass limit before turning supernova could change the way scientists measure the expansion of the universe and study dark energy, scientists said.

The researchers, led by experts from Yale University, measured the mass of a supernova thought to belong to a unique subclass, type Ia, and found that it significantly exceeded the upper limit, known as the Chandrasekhar limit - which is 1.4 times the mass of our Sun.

Read more ....

Revealed: Why Hot Water Freezes Faster Than Cold

Freezing depends on impurities (Vilhjalmur Ingi Vilhjalmsson/Getty)

From New Scientist:

HOT water sometimes freezes faster than cold water - but why? This peculiar phenomenon has baffled scientists for generations, but now there is evidence that the effect may depend on random impurities in the water.

Fast-freezing of hot water is known as the Mpemba effect, after a Tanzanian schoolboy called Erasto Mpemba (see "How the Mpemba effect got its name"). Physicists have come up with several possible explanations, including faster evaporation reducing the volume of hot water, a layer of frost insulating the cooler water, and differing concentration of solutes. But the answer has been very hard to pin down because the effect is unreliable - cold water is just as likely to freeze faster.

Read more ....

Blocking Gene Forces Cancer Cells To Age

Image: The finding may offer a new strategy for fighting cancer (Source: iStockphoto)

From ABC News (Australia):

Instead of killing off cancer cells with toxic drugs, scientists have discovered a molecular pathway that forces them to grow old and die.

Cancer cells spread and grow because they can divide indefinitely.

But a study in mice, published today in Nature, shows that blocking a cancer-causing gene called Skp2 forces cancer cells to go through an aging process known as senescence - the same process involved in ridding the body of cells damaged by sunlight.

Read more ....

iPhone, Safari, IE 8, Firefox Hacked In CanSecWest Contest

Photo: Pedram Amini and Aaron Portnoy of TippingPoint look over Charlie Miller's shoulder as he conducts his Safari hack. (Credit: Elinor Mills/CNET)

From CNET:

VANCOUVER, B.C.--Researchers on Wednesday demonstrated that they could hack a non-jailbroken iPhone, Safari running on Snow Leopard and Internet Explorer 8 and Firefox on Windows 7 as part of the annual Pwn2Own contest at the CanSecWest security show here.

Charlie Miller, principal security analyst at Independent Security Evaluators, won $10,000 after hacking Safari on a MacBook Pro without having physical access to the machine. Miller won $5,000 last year by exploiting a hole in Safari, and in 2008 nabbed $10,000 hacking a MacBook Air, all on the same computer.

Read more ....

Honeybees Dying: Scientists Wonder Why, And Worry About Food Supply

From ABC News:

A Third of Our Food Depends on Plants Pollinated by Bees; 'We're Really Cutting It Close'.

No matter where you live -- in a brick Philadelphia row house, the sprawling suburbs of Dallas or an apartment in Seattle -- you depend, more than most of us know, on lowly honeybees raised in California or Florida.

The bees have been dying in extraordinary numbers, and scientists are trying to figure out why.

Read more ....

Ancient 'X-Woman' Discovered As Man's Early Ancestors Are Pictured Together For The First Time

From The Daily Mail:

A mysterious species of ancient human has been discovered in a cave in southern Siberia.

Nicknamed X-Woman, scientists say the human lived alongside our ancestors tens of thousands of years ago.

The discovery, which could rewrite mankind's family tree, was made after analysis of DNA from a fossilised finger bone.

Read more

The X-Woman’s Fingerbone

From Discover Magazine:

In a cave in Siberia, scientists have found a 40,000-year old pinky bone that could belong to an entirely new species of hominid. Or it may be yet another example of how hard it is to figure where one species stops and another begins–even when one of those species is our own. Big news, perhaps, or ambiguous news.

Read more ....

DARPA Bounces Smart Radar Off Buildings To Track Individual Urban Vehicles From The Sky

Tracking from Above It's difficult to use radar in urban environments because of all the structures that get in the way. But by bouncing highly sensitive radar off of buildings' facades, DARPA hopes to lock onto individual vehicles from UAVs and track them through urban streets even when buildings block line of sight. Zemlinki

From Popular Science:

Radar is great for tracking objects in the wide-open sky or even at sea, but when you try to take it to street level you run into some obstacles -- literally. Radar requires a good line of sight, and obstructions like buildings or terrain features can render radar useless. But now, using a handful of unmanned aircraft and technology that allows them to intelligently reflect radar off buildings, DARPA is developing a system that should be able to track individual vehicles even as they dart between skyscrapers and other structures.

Read more ....

My Comment: You can run .... but you cannot hide.

Mind Over Matter? How Your Body Does Your Thinking

Let your body do the thinking (Image: Stephen Simpson/Image Bank)

From New Scientist:

"I THINK therefore I am," said Descartes. Perhaps he should have added: "I act, therefore I think."

Our ability to think has long been considered central to what makes us human. Now research suggests that our bodies and their relationship with the environment govern even our most abstract thoughts. This includes thinking up random numbers or deciding whether to recount positive or negative experiences.

Read more ....

UV Radiation, Not Vitamin D, Might Limit Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms

From Science News:

Sunshine effects on MS might be more complicated than previously thought, mouse study suggests.

Ultraviolet radiation from sunshine seems to thwart multiple sclerosis, but perhaps not the way most researchers had assumed, a new study in mice suggests.

If validated in further research, the finding could add a twist to a hypothesis that has gained credence in recent decades. The report appears online March 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read more ....

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Are Hand Sanitizers Better Than Handwashing Against The Common Cold?

New research suggests that hand sanitizers containing ethanol are much more effective at removing rhinovirus from hands than washing with soap and water. (Credit: iStockphoto/Janine Lamontagne)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Mar. 24, 2010) — A new study suggests that hand sanitizers containing ethanol are much more effective at removing rhinovirus from hands than washing with soap and water. Sanitizers containing both ethanol and organic acids significantly reduced recovery of the virus from hands and rhinovirus infection up to 4 hours following application.

Read more ....

Super Bug! World's Strongest Insect Revealed

Two males of dung beetle called Onthphagus taurus size up each other's horns.
Credit: Alex Wild.

From Live Science:

After months of grueling tests, a species of horned dung beetle takes the title for world's strongest insect.

The beetle, called Onthophagus taurus, was found to be able to pull a whopping 1,141 times its own body weight, which is the equivalent of a 150-pound (70 kilogram) person lifting six full double-decker buses. While the study researcher knows of a mite that can take on a hair more, that organism is an arachnid, not an insect.

Read more ....

Search Engine Collects Historical Resources

From The BBC:

A search engine is being created to help historians find useful sources.

The Connected History project will link up currently separate databases of source materials.

Once complete, it will give academics or members of the public a single site that lets them search all the collections.

Once completed the search engine will index digitised books, newspapers, manuscripts, genealogical records, maps and images that date from 1500-1900.

Read more ....

Inside A Global Cybercrime Ring

U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigators Sheryl Novick (L) and Martha Vera look at images (top half of monitors) as part of their investigation of the scareware company Innovative Marketing Ukraine (IMU) in the FTC internet lab in Washington March 22, 2010. Credit: REUTERS/Molly Riley

From Reuters:

(Reuters) - Hundreds of computer geeks, most of them students putting themselves through college, crammed into three floors of an office building in an industrial section of Ukraine's capital Kiev, churning out code at a frenzied pace. They were creating some of the world's most pernicious, and profitable, computer viruses.

According to court documents, former employees and investigators, a receptionist greeted visitors at the door of the company, known as Innovative Marketing Ukraine. Communications cables lay jumbled on the floor and a small coffee maker sat on the desk of one worker.

Read more ....

My Comment: A good chunk of my family (on my father's side) lives in the Ukraine. One of my cousin .... a software programmer, worked for a few months in such a company. Apparently the pay was great, and the people who he worked with were fun. I only learned about this later, because if I had learned about when he was working there, I would probably have gone down to his house and beat him over the head for being stupid enough to be affiliated with such criminals.

Because of my work in managing computer networks, I have had more than my share in tackling these vicious viruses. I have lost tons of information, and worse .... megaloads of my life in cleaning up the mess that such attacks always produced.

This Reuters article is a good one in outlining the problems and obstacles that need to be overcome to stop this type of cyber crime. This is a must read for all geeks, and for the individual user who has been a victim of this type of attack.

Climate Change Disaster Killed Off The 'Terrible Lizards' And Helped Dinosaurs To Rule The Earth

Changes: Dinosaurs came to rule the world as a direct result of a
mass extinction similar to the one that killed them off

From The Daily Mail:

Dinosaurs came to rule the world as a direct result of a mass extinction similar to the one that killed them off and allowed mammals to take over the planet, research has revealed.

History was repeating itself when a climate change disaster ended the 200million year reign of the 'terrible lizards', evidence suggests.

A massive asteroid impact is believed to have altered the world's climate and wiped out the dinosaurs, giving mammals the opportunity they had been waiting for to flourish.

Read more ....

Astronomers Discover 2 Shortcuts For Locating Earth-Like Planets

A young star with planets forming, illustrated here, may retain chemical clues about the worlds that surround it. ESO/L. Calçada

From Discover Magazine:

Astronomers Discover 2 Shortcuts for Locating Earth-Like Planets.

Since the discovery of planets outside our solar system in the 1990s, astronomers have tallied more than 400 extrasolar worlds, many unlike anything known before. Two recent studies show that the formation of planets may leave detectable chemical signatures in their host stars, a finding that could help scientists zero in on planetary systems even more quickly and speed the search for worlds similar to Earth.

Read more ....

Opportunity Mars Rover Gets Artificial Intelligence Upgrade, Decides For Itself What to Explore Next

Opportunity Target Selection Opportunity scans the Martian terrain for rocks meeting specific criteria – shape, size, coloration – set by scientists on the ground. When it finds what it's looking for, it sets a course for the point of interest. NASA/JPL-Caltech

From Popular Science:

NASA's Opportunity Rover, now in its seventh year of roaming the Martian surface, just got a little smarter. Like parents giving their growing child a little more autonomy, engineers updated Opportunity with artificial intelligence software this past winter that allows the rover to make its own decisions about where to stop and which rocks to analyze during its travels. Now the first images of Opportunity picking and choosing where to investigate have been released.

Read more ....

10 Wonders Of The Solar System

(Image: NASA / JHU-APL / Southwest Research Institute)

From New Scientist:

Moons may bow to planets in terms of size, but in character they often outshine their stolid parents. The named moons of the solar system outnumber planets by more than 20 to 1, and they display a remarkable diversity. There are fully fledged worlds such as Titan, as complex as any planet. There are possible havens for life, such as the ice-crusted water world Europa. New mysteries surround even the smallest satellites, most recently the apparent flying saucers orbiting Saturn.

This year it will be four centuries since Galileo discovered Jupiter's four large satellites, at a stroke quintupling the number of moons then known to humanity.

Join Stephen Battersby for a tour of some of te most frigid, violent and downright strange worlds we have discovered since then.

Read more ....

Weird 'Dark Flow' Seen Deeper Into The Universe Than Ever


The puzzling migration of matter in deep space – dubbed "dark flow" – has been observed at farther distances than ever before, scientists have announced.

Distant galaxy clusters appear to be zooming through space at phenomenal speeds that surpass 1 million mph. The clusters were tracked to 2.5 billion light-years away – twice as far as earlier measurements.

This motion can't be explained by any known cosmic force, the researchers say. They suspect that whatever's tugging the matter may lie beyond our observable universe.

Read more ....

Ancient DNA Suggests New Hominid Line

CAVE OF MYSTERIES: Mitochondrial DNA analysis of a finger bone found in Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia suggests that a group of unknown hominids ventured out of Africa less than a million years ago. J. Krause

From Science News:

Genetic data unveil a shadowy, previously unknown Stone Age ancestor.

A new member of the human evolutionary family has been proposed for the first time based on an ancient genetic sequence, not fossil bones. Even more surprising, this novel and still mysterious hominid, if confirmed, would have lived near Stone Age Neandertals and Homo sapiens.

Read more ....

How Do You Force Criminals To Change Their Behavior?


How do you force criminals to change their behavior?

Over the last 35 years, the US criminal justice system has been spectacularly bad at answering this question. America is the most punitive nation in the world, with 2.4 million of its citizens behind bars and another 5.1 million on probation or parole. Yet according to the latest national statistics, two-thirds of released prisoners commit another serious offense within three years. After a generation of draconian crime policy, America’s crime rates are still among the highest in the Western world. Instead of one costly problem, we now have two: crime and mass incarceration.

Read more ....

New Method Could Revolutionize Dating of Ancient Treasures

The "Venus of Brassempouy," a tiny ivory figurine, is among artifacts that scientists could analyze with a new method for determining the age of an object without damaging it. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Mar. 23, 2010) — Scientists have developed a new method to determine the age of ancient mummies, old artwork, and other relics without causing damage to these treasures of global cultural heritage. Reporting at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS), they said it could allow scientific analysis of hundreds of artifacts that until now were off limits because museums and private collectors did not want the objects damaged.

Read more ....

Light Bends Matter, Surprising Scientists

After 72 hours of exposure to ambient light, strands of nanoparticles twisted and bunched together. Credit: Nicholas Kotov

From Live Science:

Light can twist matter, according to a new study that observed ribbons of nanoparticles twisting in response to light.

Scientists knew matter can cause light to bend – prisms and glasses prove this easily enough. But the reverse phenomenon was not shown to occur until recently.

Read more ....

iPad Apps May Be Buggy At Launch, Worries Developer

From PC World:

For Instapaper Pro developer Marco Arment, the lure of being first out of the gate with his iPad app outweighs the risk of imperfection.

Arment's gone ahead with development of Instapaper for Apple's iPad, an app that presents newspaper and magazine articles in simple black-on-white text and lets you flag interesting stories for later reading. But he's doing it without seeing how his creation works on an actual iPad, which doesn't launch until April 3.

Read more ....

UN Body To Look At Meat And Climate Link

Livestock's Long Shadow calculated meat-related emissions from field to abattoir

From The BBC:

UN specialists are to look again at the contribution of meat production to climate change, after claims that an earlier report exaggerated the link.

A 2006 report concluded meat production was responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions - more than transport.

The report has been cited by people campaigning for a more vegetable-based diet, including Sir Paul McCartney.

But a new analysis, presented at a major US science meeting, says the transport comparison was flawed.

Read more ....

PayPal, Apps Prove a Potent Combination

Image: Rentalic, which lets people rent stuff to each other with security deposits and blackout dates for when owners wants to use their items, claimed top honors in the PayPal X Developer Challenge.

From Epicenter:

PayPal has spent nearly a decade mainly as the payment-fulfillment arm of its parent company, eBay. But with the explosion of the mobile internet and the endless opportunities to leverage smartphones as personal piggy banks, the company is positioning itself — again — as the virtual wallet you can’t leave home without.

Last week it upgraded its own iPhone app to allow two people to exchange money with a fist bump. That initiative was a broadside at Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s Square, a startup that makes it possible to use your smartphone to swipe credit cards.

Read more ....

Does Geothermal Power Cause Earthquakes?

Geothermal Hot Spots: Many hot spots sit in seismically active areas. Paul Wootton

From Popular Science:

A new energy method could trigger a risky side effect.

On December 8, 2006, Markus Häring caused some 30 earthquakes -- the largest registering 3.4 on the Richter scale -- in Basel, Switzerland. Häring is not a supervillain. He's a geologist, and he had nothing but good intentions when he injected high-pressure water into rocks three miles below the surface, attempting to generate electricity through a process called enhanced geothermal. But he produced earthquakes instead, and when seismic analysis confirmed that the quakes were centered near the drilling site, city officials charged him with $9 million worth of damage to buildings.

Read more ....

Galaxy Compared To Footballer Peter Crouch

Distant galaxy SMM J2135-0102 went through a massive 'growth spurt' Photo: ESO/PA

From The Telegraph:

A newly-discovered galaxy which went through a massive "growth spurt" has been dubbed the astronomical equivalent of 6ft 7in footballer Peter Crouch by scientists.

Researchers found that the galaxy created stars up to 100 times faster than the Milky Way does today.

Scientists could look back to how the galaxy appeared 10 billion years ago – three billion years after the Big Bang – due to the length of time its light took to reach Earth.

Read more

Money DOES Buy You Happiness... If your Friends Have Less Of It

Happy: But money counts for little unless you are richer than your friends

From The Daily Mail:

Money makes you happy - but only if you have lots more than your friends and neighbours.

Owning the house of your dreams, the car you always longed for and having millions in the bank doesn't stop that desire to keep up with the Joneses, researchers have found.

And if the Joneses have more than you do, you'll be miserable.

It seems envy at being lower in the social pecking order tarnishes the satisfaction of being well off.

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Advances In Technology To Track Our Soldiers

Keep moving to fix a position (Image: Chad Hunt/Corbis)

Motion Sensors Could Track Troops When GPS Cuts Out -- New Scientist

KNOWING where troops are during combat operations can be a matter of life and death - but GPS technology used to track troops is fragile, the signal easily lost. Now a UK company is developing a lightweight, wearable tracker that can provide location cover when GPS is down.

The system uses novel software to decipher position data from the signals generated by cheap microchip-based motion sensors - like those used in the Nintendo Wii and Apple iPhone.

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'Muscular' UK Space Agency Launched

From The BBC:

The new UK Space Agency (UKSA) will take over responsibility for government policy and the key budgets for space, according to ministers.

The agency, which comes into being on 1 April, will also represent Britain on space matters in all negotiations with international partners.

The UKSA's name, logo and remit were announced at a conference in London.

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