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brian0918 (638904) writes "The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the US Department of Justice has just setup an email address to be used specifically by the public to assist in building a civil rights case against George Zimmerman. On a conference call between DOJ officials and various civil rights organizations, "DOJ officials announced they had set up a way for people to send email tips that could help aid in their investigation. The email address will be operational later this week."" Link to Original Source top
Oregon State University Fires Climate Change Skeptic
brian0918 writes "Since this story broke, almost everyone in the media has claimed that the Climategate emails were hacked by Russians, maybe even ex-KGB types, maybe even working with oil companies in the United States. Now, a sysadmin has examined the structure and provenance of the files and concludes that "the only reasonable explanation for the archive being in this state is that the FOI Officer at the University was practising due diligence. The UEA was collecting data that couldn't be sheltered and they created FOIA2009.zip. It is most likely that the FOI Officer at the University put it on an anonymous ftp server or that it resided on a shared folder that many people had access to and some curious individual looked at it."" Link to Original Source top
Trojan Outbreak Through Popular Chinese News Site?
Brian writes "Both a Chinese programmer at my office and her husband at home had their computers infected today when visiting the popular Chinese news website CReaders.net. Now every Google search results redirects to an advertisement site. Has the news site been hacked, or was this the result of an advertisement embedded in the site? The worst part about this virus is that it loads even in Safe Mode, and appears to have overwritten one of the system drivers in Windows XP." top
Rational Egoist writes "Scientists working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have come up with a novel, easy way to detect life on other planets. Rather than try to measure the composition of atmospheres, they want to look at the chirality of light coming from the planet. From the article: "If the [planet's] surface had just a collection of random chiral molecules, half would go left, half right," Germer says. "But life's self-assembly means they all would go one way. It's hard to imagine a planet's surface exhibiting handedness without the presence of self assembly, which is an essential component of life." And they have already built a working model: "Because chiral molecules reflect light in a way that indicates their handedness, the research team built a device to shine light on plant leaves and bacteria, and then detect the polarized reflections from the organisms' chlorophyll from a short distance away. The device detected chirality from both sources." The article abstract is available online." Link to Original Source top
Rational Egoist writes "A study out of Ohio State University finds that college students who use Facebook spend less time studying, and have lower grades. A majority — over three-quarters — believed their social networking was not interfering in their studies. From the article: "Typically, Facebook users in the study had GPAs between 3.0 and 3.5, while non-users had GPAs between 3.5 and 4.0. In addition, users said they averaged one to five hours a week studying, while non-users studied 11 to 15 hours per week."" Link to Original Source top
Rational Egoist writes "A new study from Tel Aviv University shows that teens who played violent video games, such as UT2k4 and Call of Duty 2, enhanced their ability "to discriminate between subtle contrasts in color or shades of gray", as compared to teens playing games with lower levels of visual-motor coordination, such as The Sims. From the article: "After playing 50 hours of the assigned game over 9 weeks, the students who played the more violent action games showed a 43% improvement, on average, in their ability to discern between very close shades of gray. The players assigned to the Sims game showed no improvement." It's even being suggested as a possible alternative to eye surgery. The full article is available online from Nature Neuroscience." Link to Original Source top
brian0918 writes "NASA reports that an international team of astronomers has used gravitational lensing to find the first traces of a group of the most distant galaxies yet seen. From the article: 'The light we see from them today left more than 13 billion years ago, when the universe was just 500 million years old.' A researcher from Caltech explains, 'Using Keck II, we have detected six faint star-forming galaxies whose signal has been boosted about 20 times by the magnifying effect of a foreground cluster. That we should find so many distant galaxies in our small survey area suggests they are very numerous indeed.' The abstract from The Astrophysical Journal is also available." Link to Original Source top
brian0918 writes "Researchers are one step closer to developing mass-producible molecular switches for nanotechnology thanks to the work of Japanese and UIC chemists. From the AAAS: 'The international team successfully formed a single chemical bond on a single molecule, then broke that bond to restore the original molecule — without disturbing any bonds to adjacent atoms within the molecule. In essence, they created a molecular-sized electronic switch.' While others have done work at the single-molecule level, nobody has demonstrated this level of control and stability. The abstract from Science is also available." Link to Original Source top
brian0918 writes "Areas that are now covered by over a mile of ice were once covered with pine forests filled with insects between 450,000 and 800,000 years ago, according to newly-extracted ice cores. Researchers believe the DNA found in these ice cores may be the oldest pure samples yet obtained. These cores also indicate that the the southern Greenland ice cap may be more resistant to global warming than previously thought. Prior to this discovery, the last known forests in Greenland existed two million years earlier." Link to Original Source top
brian0918 writes "The country of Iran is now moving well beyond American pipedreams by ending production of gas-only cars in the next couple weeks. This follows the rationing imposed by the government last week, which led to anger and violence at the pumps. From BBC: 'In an unexpected announcement, Industries and Mines Minister Ali Reza Tahmasebi said all vehicles produced from 23 July onwards would have dual-fuel facilities installed. The automobiles which have been supplied to the market prior to this will gradually be converted to dual-fuel too. The move will reduce demand for gas and could help ease the capital's notorious pollution.'" Link to Original Source top
brian0918 writes "NewScientist reports on the suggestion being made by researchers in Japan that the harsh living conditions around deep-sea hydrothermal vents may have forced the development of highly capable disease-causing bacteria. These vents 'spew superheated water, rich in chemicals, from volcanically active mid-ocean ridges... The study found that vent bacteria frequently lose genes, develop new mutations, or acquire genes from evolutionarily distant sources... The ability to survive in an ever-changing environment is also useful for pathogens under attack from their host's immune system. The team suggests that the bacteria initially lived with vent invertebrates before swapping that location for life as a pathogen.'" Link to Original Source top
brian0918 (638904) writes "Harvard researchers analyzing city-specific weather data related to the deaths of more than 6.5 million people in 50 US cities between 1989 and 2000 have concluded that while global warming will cause more deaths in summer because of higher temperatures, these will not be offset by fewer deaths in milder winters. According to them, 'central heating, which constitutes an important adaptive mechanism against cold, is almost universal in the US, and this may explain why the US population seemed fully acclimatised to cold. Making air conditioning universally available may reduce heat-related mortality but would, on the other hand, have a perverse effect by enhancing global warming through carbon dioxide emissions from electricity consumption.'" Link to Original Source top
brian0918 (638904) writes "The American Physical Society brings some highlights from forthcoming Physical Review Letters, including: the prospect of nanomachines remotely-controlled by ultraviolet laser light; creation of the world's first heat transistor, which uses an electrical signal to control the flow of heat; and improvements made to high-energy-density capacitors, 'so that they can store up to seven times as much energy per unit volume than the common capacitor. High performance capacitors would enable hybrid and electric cars with much greater acceleration, better and faster steering of rockets and spacecraft, and improved lasers, among many other electrical applications.'" Link to Original Source top
brian0918 (638904) writes "In what is being described as the most important find in the Valley of the Kings since the discovery of King Tut, a single tooth has clinched the identification of an ancient mummy as that of Queen Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt about 3,500 years ago. A molar inscribed with the queen's name, discovered in a wooden box in 1881 in a cache of royal mummies, was found to fit perfectly in the jaw of "a fat woman in her 50s who had rotten teeth and died of bone cancer." Reuters also reports on the DNA analysis: 'Preliminary results show similarities between its DNA and that of Ahmose Nefertari, the wife of the founder of the 18th dynasty and a probable ancestor of Hatsephsut's.'" Link to Original Source top
brian0918 (638904) writes "Researchers speaking at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Acapulco, Mexico, this week will outline a new theory for the extinction event and subsequent global cooling that occured about 13,000 years ago. From the Guardian: 'A group of US scientists have found a layer of microscopic diamonds at 26 different sites in Europe, Canada and America. These are the remains of a giant carbon-rich comet that crashed in pieces on our planet 12,900 years ago.' According to geophysicist Allen West, the comet was 'about 2km-3km in diameter and broke up just before impact, setting off a series of explosions, each the equivalent of an atomic bomb blast. The result would have been hell on Earth. Most of the northern hemisphere would have been left on fire.'" top
brian0918 (638904) writes "Researchers at the University of Rochester have shown that playing action video games such as Unreal Tournament can quickly sharpen your vision. From the article: 'The researchers tested college students who had played few, if any, video games in the last year. The experimental group played Unreal Tournament for roughly an hour a day. The control group played Tetris, a game equally demanding in terms of motor control, but visually less complex. After about a month of near-daily gaming, the Tetris players showed no improvement on the test', but the UT players 'showed a substantial increase in the spatial resolution of their vision, meaning they could see figures like those on an eye chart more clearly, even when other symbols crowded in.'" top
brian0918 writes "Researchers at the University of Rochester have developed a way to encode an entire image's worth of data into a single photon, store it, and retrieve the image intact. From the article: 'To produce the UR image, Howell simply shone a beam of light through a stencil with the U and R etched out. He turned down the light so much that a single photon was all that passed through the stencil. Quantum mechanics dictates some strange things at that scale, so that bit of light could be thought of as both a particle and a wave. As a wave, it passed through all parts of the stencil at once, carrying the 'shadow' of the UR with it. The pulse of light then entered a four-inch cell of cesium gas at a warm 100 degrees Celsius, where it was slowed and compressed, allowing many pulses to fit inside the small tube at the same time." top
brian0918 writes "Until now, the assumption has been that the rapid spin of a pulsar comes from the spin of the original star. The problem was that this only explained the fastest observed pulsars. Now, researchers at Oak Ridge have shown that the spin of a pulsar is determined by the shock wave created when the star's massive iron core collapses. From the article: 'That shock wave is inherently unstable, and eventually becomes cigar-shaped instead of spherical. The instability creates two rotating flows — one in one direction directly below the shock wave and another, inner flow, that travels in the opposite direction and spins up the core. The asymmetrical flows establish a 'sloshing' motion that accounts for the pulsars' observed spin velocities from once every 15 to 300 milliseconds.'" top
brian0918 writes "The Imperial College in London is reporting that genetically-engineered blood protein can be used to split water into oxygen and hydrogen. From the article: 'Scientists have combined two molecules that occur naturally in blood to engineer a molecular complex that uses solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. This molecular complex can use energy from the sun to create hydrogen gas, providing an alternative to electrolysis, the method typically used to split water into its constituent parts. The breakthrough may pave the way for the development of novel ways of creating hydrogen gas for use as fuel in the future.' The abstract can be viewed for free from the Journal of the American Chemical Society."