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I *WILL* haz cheezburger

A recent study involving 50 volunteers and the recorded sounds of 10 cats revealed that, when hungry, cats modify their purr to include sound frequencies similar to the frequency of a crying human baby. This appears to have the result of humans, even those who don't own cats, feeling obliged to respond to them. They theorized that either the harmonic triggers the human parental instincts, or is so urgent and unpleasant that humans strive to do what they can to make it stop.
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If you don't want to buy, don't touch: shopping study

A recent study says that to avoid impulse purchases you should avoid touching the product because touch increases your feeling of ownership and increases the amount you are willing to pay for the item.

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globeandmail.com: Gender bias evident in parental alienation cases

A Toronto lawyer recently presented a study of 74 parental alienation cases between 1987 and 2008, in which parental alienation was defined as the situation in which "...an estranged parent systematically brainwashes a child into hating the other parent." He discovered the father was the alienater in only 24 cases while the mother was the alienater in the other 50 cases. More than half (13) of the alienating fathers were ordered into therapy while only 12 of the 50 mothers were required to do the same.
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Teens, Sex and Technology - World of Psychology

A recent survey of 1,280 teens and young adults (presumably in the US) revealed that 1 in five teens and 1 in three young adults have sent sexually explicit pictures of themselves to others either by posting them online or through their cellphone.
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Going outside—even in the cold—improves memory, attention

Want to boost memory and attention span? Go for a walk, but avoid people. A study by the University of Michigan researchers has discovered that one hour spent interacting with nature can improve memory performance and attention span by as much a 20 percent. No  improvement was not detected when participants walked down a city street, indicating that it is the interaction with nature that is the key. Similar tests were performed using pictures of nature, as well as urban scenes. Once again, a 20 percent improvement in test scores was obtained, but only after viewing pictures of nature.

Bottom line? If you need to recharge, go for a walk in the park. If you can't do that look at pictures of nature.

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According to British psychologists, the most depressing day of the year is the third Monday in January. This year that was the 23rd. They apparently have a mathematical model to "prove" it. As a side note, they estimate that as many as 1/3 of people in Britain have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) with up to 5 percent requiring treatment.

Found on Hamish MacDonald's blog
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Airport security personnel in the US are being asked to be more friendly with passengers, but not for the reasons you might think. The friendly conversation is part of a SPOT (Screening Passengers by Observation Technique) assessment in which they watch for microfacial expressions of fear, anger surprise, or contempt. Observing any of these expressions could have you escorted to a secondary screening area where you submit to a pat-down, X-ray, or other more invasive search methods. In the past year, more than 70,000 people have been deferred with approximately 700 being arrested when it was discovered that they were, in fact, breaking the law.

Found on Slashdot.
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Some psychologist believe that Google's PageRank system may be a good approximation of how human memory works. The theory is that neural links may be functionally similar to Web links for the purposes of determining the "importance" of a concept. The more popular a web link, the higher it is ranked. Similarly, mental links that are more frequently used are given higher priority.

This is your brain on on Google.
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Among the stories in today's post: extra time dimensions, keeping our troops cool, sticky brain chemicals, volcanoes on Mars, nanotech solar cells, phantom phone buzz, the genetics of supermuscles and mental resilience.
Suggested by [livejournal.com profile] ancalagon_tb
A Two-Time Universe? Physicist Explores How Second Dimension of Time Could Unify Physics Laws - USC College theoretical physicist Itzhak Bars has pioneered efforts to discern how a second dimension of time could help physicists better explain the laws of nature. With two times, Bars believes, many of the mysteries of today’s laws of physics may disappear. Of course, it’s not as simple as that. An extra dimension of time is not enough. You also need an additional dimension of space.
National Research Council of Canada - News Highlights
Troops beat the heat in Kandahar - No matter what their views on the war in Afghanistan, Canadians agree that protecting the health and wellness of troops overseas is a top priority. The crews of Canada's Leopard tanks in Kandahar got some relief from the searing desert heat this summer thanks to cooling vests that were tested in a giant oven at NRC.
National Geographic News
Mussels' Mighty Grip Inspires Dopamine-Based Glue - The uncanny stickiness of mussels has inspired a brainy new approach to creating a universal adhesive coating, researchers say. Mussels secrete a complex cocktail of proteins to latch on to just about any surface, explained study co-author Phillip Messersmith, a biomedical engineer at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Messersmith and colleagues found that the two most prominent ingredients in this cocktail are the same as those in dopamine, a chemical messenger in the brain.
Martian Volcanoes May Not be Extinct - New research on Hawaiian volcanoes, combined with satellite imagery of Mars, suggests that three Martian volcanoes may only be dormant—not extinct. Instead of Mars' crust moving over stationary magma "hot spots," as occurs on Earth, researchers think the plumes travel.
Physics Org
First Analysis of the Water Requirements of a Hydrogen Economy - One of the touted benefits of the futuristic US hydrogen economy is that the hydrogen supply—in the form of water—is virtually limitless. This assumption is taken for granted so much that no major study has fully considered just how much water a sustainable hydrogen economy would need.
Technology Review Feed
Microscopic Solar Cells - Researchers at Harvard University have made solar cells that are a small fraction of the width of a human hair. The cells, each made from a single nanowire just 300 nanometers wide, could be useful for powering tiny sensors or robots for environmental monitoring or military applications. What's more, the basic design of the solar cells could be useful in large-scale power production, potentially lowering the cost of generating electricity from the sun.
Mimicking the Massively Muscular - Scattered throughout the mammalian menagerie are a few supermuscular freaks: double-muscled cows more ripped than any bodybuilder; racing dogs too burly to run; sheep praised for their massively muscled buttocks; and even one small German boy, born in 2000 with muscles twice the size of those of a normal newborn. All these Herculean creatures share one thing: naturally occurring mutations in a gene that produces myostatin, a protein that blocks growth of skeletal muscle. Disable that gene, and viola--spectacular muscle growth results.
BBC News
Ships' CO2 'twice that of planes' - Global emissions of carbon dioxide from shipping are twice the level of aviation, one of the maritime industry's key bodies has said.
Key to mental 'resilience' found - US scientists have pinpointed a difference in brain chemistry which may explain why some people cope better than others in the face of adversity. They found a key pathway in mice differs in those who cope well with stress, and those who do not. In the mice who did not cope well with stress, nerve cells fired signals at a faster rate in two areas of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, releasing a substance called BDNF, which has previously been linked to poor coping. Blocking BDNF in the timid mice caused them to become more resistant to stress.
ABC News: Technology & Science
'Phantom' Phone Buzz Making You Crazy? - Neurologists say "phantom" BlackBerry and cell phone sensations could represent your brain's attempts to treat these gadgets as body parts.
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News at Nature
Moose use roads as a defence against bears - A drive through Yellowstone National Park these days is like going on a photo safari: elk, bison, deer, big horn and moose hang out so close to the roads that it’s easy to spot them. Research now shows this isn’t because the area is jam-packed with animals — some mammals seem to be attracted to the roads as a shield against predators.
ABC News: Technology & Science
New Fire-Retardant Gel Can Save Homes - It was the most intense fire ever recorded in the Black Hills National Forest, but nearly all homes coated with a slimy gel were saved while dozens of houses nearby burned to the ground. The gel was a super-absorbent polymer that can hold many times its weight in water and clings well to vertical surfaces and glass. It is mixed with water and then can be sprayed on homes with a truck-mounted hose or a backpack apparatus, or dropped from a plane.
BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition
MS nerve damage repaired in lab - US scientists have repaired the nerve damage caused by multiple sclerosis in lab experiments on mice. MS is caused by a defect in the body's immune system, which turns in on itself, and attacks the fatty myelin sheath which coats the nerves. The researchers used a human antibody to re-grow myelin in mice with the progressive form of MS.
The Globe and Mail - Science News
Vodka drip saves poisoned Italian - Australian doctors used an intravenous feed of vodka to keep an Italian tourist alive after he consumed large quantities of a poisonous substance.
PhysOrg.com - latest science and technology news
Why it is impossible for some to 'just say no' - Drug abuse, crime and obesity are but a few of the problems our nation faces, but they all have one thing in common—people’s failure to control their behavior in the face of temptation. While the ability to control and restrain our impulses is one of the defining features of the human animal, its failure is one of the central problems of human society. So, why do we so often lack this crucial ability"
Global Warming May Make Humidity Worse - he world isn't just getting hotter from man-made global warming, it's getting stickier. It really is the humidity. The amount of moisture in the air near the surface - the stuff that makes hot weather unbearable - increased 2.2 percent in just under three decades. And computer models show that the only explanation is man-made global warming, according to a study published in Thursday's journal Nature.
How shyness and other normal human traits became sickness - What's wrong with being shy, and just when and how did bashfulness and other ordinary human behaviors in children and adults become psychiatric disorders treatable with powerful, potentially dangerous drugs, asks a Northwestern University scholar in a new book that already is creating waves in the mental health community.
Aussie scientist: Greenhouse gases worse - Top Australian conservation scientist Tim Flannery says the global level of greenhouse gases is now far worse than predicted. Worldwide economic growth has accelerated the level of greenhouse gas emissions to a dangerous threshold scientists had not expected for another decade. (see also: Greenhouse gases already beyond 'worst-case': scientist)
Ritual Threats of Violence in Small Newfoundland Communities Are Method of Creating Trust, Researchers Say - Residents of small isolated fishing villages on the northern peninsula of Newfoundland have participated in the ritual of 'mumming" for centuries. According to the tradition, small groups of villagers, or mummers, disguise their identities and go to other houses to threaten violence, whereupon the people of the houses try to guess the intruders' identities.
Brain's 'social enforcer' centers identified - Researchers have identified brain structures that process the threat of punishment for violating social norms. They said that their findings suggest a neural basis for treating children, adolescents, and even immature adults differently in the criminal justice system, since the neural circuitry for processing the threat of such punishment is not as developed in younger individuals as it is in adults. The researchers also said that their identification of the brain’s “social norm compliance” structures also opens the way to exploring whether psychopaths have deficiencies in these structures’ circuitry.
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Physics Org
Beyond a 'speed limit' on mutations, species risk extinction - Harvard University scientists have identified a virtual "speed limit" on the rate of molecular evolution in organisms, and the magic number appears to be 6 mutations per genome per generation -- a level beyond which species run the strong risk of extinction as their genomes lose stability.
Are women being scared away from math, science, and engineering fields? - Have you ever felt outnumbered? Like there are just not that many people like you around? We’ve all felt outnumbered in one situation or another and walking into a situation in which you sense the possibility of being ostracized or isolated can be quite threatening. One group that may experience this kind of threat is women who participate in math, science, and engineering (MSE) settings- settings in which the gender ratio is approximately 3 men to every 1 woman. Mary Murphy argues that the organization of Math, Science and Engineering environments themselves plays a significant role in contributing to this gap. Murphy contends that situational cues (i.e. being outnumbered) may contribute to a decrease in women’s performance expectations, as well as their actual performance.
Negativity is contagious, study finds - Though we may not care to admit it, what other people think about something can affect what we think about it. This is how critics become influential and why our parents’ opinions about our life choices continue to matter, long after we’ve moved out. But what kind of opinions have the most effect" An important new study in the Journal of Consumer Research reveals that negative opinions cause the greatest attitude shifts, not just from good to bad, but also from bad to worse.
New plastic is strong as steel, transparent - By mimicking a brick-and-mortar molecular structure found in seashells, University of Michigan researchers created a composite plastic that's as strong as steel but lighter and transparent. (see also: Mother-of-pearl inspires super-strong plastic)
Scientific American
How Do Artists Portray Exoplanets They've Never Seen? - Stargazers have yet to lay eyes on any of the nearly 240 planets detected outside our solar system. These so-called exoplanets are too faint for current telescopes to distinguish from the stars they orbit*; instead astronomers rely on indirect methods to infer their existence. Yet popular news accounts, supplied by space agency press services, overflow with bold, almost photo-realistic images of distant worlds.
washingtonpost.com - Technology
Online Videos May Be Conduits for Viruses - Online videos aren't just for bloopers and rants _ some might also be conduits for malicious code that can infect your computer. As anti-spam technology improves, hackers are finding new vehicles to deliver their malicious code. And some could be embedded in online video players, according to a report on Internet threats.
Physics Org
Software 'Chipper' Speeds Debugging - Computer scientists at UC Davis have developed a technique to speed up program debugging by automatically "chipping" the software into smaller pieces so that bugs can be isolated more easily.
Driverless Truck Lurches Out of Lab - Oshkosh Truck chief engineer John Beck programs a mission route into TerraMax, a military-vehicle prototype that can navigate traffic and avoid obstacles without a driver, at a test track near the company. During a recent test on property owned by manufacturer Oshkosh Truck Co., TerraMax barreled down a dusty road with its driver seat empty. It stopped at a four-way intersection and waited as staged traffic resolved before obediently lurching on its way. If the Defense Department gets its way, vehicles like TerraMax - about as long as a typical sport utility vehicle and almost twice as high - could represent the future of transportation for the military's ground forces.
ABC News: Technology & Science
Blind People: Hybrid Cars Pose Hazard - Gas-electric hybrid vehicles, the status symbol for the environmentally conscientious, are coming under attack from a constituency that doesn't drive: the blind. Because hybrids make virtually no noise at slower speeds when they run solely on electric power, blind people say they pose a hazard to those who rely on their ears to determine whether it's safe to cross the street or walk through a parking lot. Officials with the Baltimore-based National Federation of the Blind are quick to point out that they're not advocating a return to gas guzzlers. They'd just like the fuel-efficient hybrids to make some noise.
Can Creativity Survive in Hollywood? - Researchers at Vanderbilt University concluded a couple of years ago that creative persons are likely to live somewhere between normalcy and schizophrenia. They may be socially awkward, adept at finding new uses for old tools, but they are not sick. The researchers even gave the condition a name: schizo-type. But, that's on an individual level. Can personal creativity survive large-scale collaboration? Is it possible for a bunch of highly creative people, working together on a single project, to produce a product that is more creative than the sum of its parts?
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Physics Org
Research says low paying jobs damage future employment prospects - New research by University of Warwick economist Professor Mark Stewart reveals that being in a low paying job damages your prospects of finding new employment as much as being in a sustained period of unemployment.
Make it medium rare and low in Hsp 40, please - French biotech sleuths believe they have identified a gene that helps determine whether your steak will be tough or tender. DNAJA1 controls a key protein called Hsp 40 which helps to slow cell death in muscle tissue -- it thus brakes the process of maturation which tenderises the beef.
Gifted Research Parrot Alex Found Dead - A gifted parrot that could count to six, identify colors and even express frustration with repetitive scientific trials has died after 30 years of helping researchers better understand the avian brain. Alex's advanced language and recognition skills revolutionized the understanding of the avian brain. After Pepperberg bought Alex from an animal shop in 1973, the parrot learned enough English to identify 50 different objects, seven colors, and five shapes. He could count up to six, including zero, was able to express desires, including his frustration with the repetitive research.

Science Blog
Can't be good: Lake boiling with methane - Last month, UAF researcher Katey Walter brought a National Public Radio crew to Alaska’s North Slope, hoping to show them examples of what happens when methane is released when permafrost thaws beneath lakes. When they reached their destination, Walter and the crew found even more than they bargained for: a lake violently boiling with escaping methane.
Nicotine in breast milk disrupts infants' sleep patterns - A study from the Monell Chemical Senses Center reports that nicotine in the breast milk of lactating mothers who smoke cigarettes disrupts their infants' sleep patterns. While many women quit or cut down on smoking while pregnant, they often relapse following the birth of the baby. The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, raise new questions regarding whether nicotine exposure through breast milk affects infant development.
Married men do less housework than live-in boyfriends - The age-old stereotype that women do more housework than men has gotten more credibility with a George Mason University study co-written by sociologist Shannon Davis. The study of more than 17,000 people in 28 countries found that married men report doing less housework than men who are live-in boyfriends.

TV Viewing Linked to Attention Problems - While your mother may have told you that sitting too close to the TV was bad for your eyes, the folks over at New Scientist are reporting that too much television may be linked to a bad attention span 'The study is not proof that TV viewing causes attention problems, Landhuis notes, because it may be that children prone to attention problems may be drawn to watching television. "However, our results show that the net effect of television seems to be adverse."'
Why Myths Persist - The conventional response to myths and urban legends is to counter bad information with accurate information. But the new psychological studies show that denials and clarifications, for all their intuitive appeal, can paradoxically contribute to the resiliency of popular myths... The research is painting a broad new understanding of how the mind works. Contrary to the conventional notion that people absorb information in a deliberate manner, the studies show that the brain uses subconscious 'rules of thumb' that can bias it into thinking that false information is true. Clever manipulators can take advantage of this tendency.
Belgium May Prosecute the Church of Scientology - A Belgian prosecutor recommended after a 10-year investigation that the government prosecute the church of Scientology. The church is accused of being a criminal organization involved in extortion, fraud, unfair trading, violation of privacy laws, and unlawfully practicing medicine. Both the Belgian and the European branches of the church should be brought to court, according to the authorities. The investigation was started in 1997 after former Scientologists complained about intimidation and extortion by the church.
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Foetal testosterone linked to autistic traits - Researchers who having been tracking a group of children since birth have found that the level of testosterone they were exposed to in the womb is linked to whether they show autistic traits throughout childhood.
Mini-muscles go for a swim - Rat heart muscle cells have been grown on the surface of a polymer, and the resulting thin film can twist, grip and pulse like a real piece of muscle. Researchers hope the material may one day be used to make patches to repair a disease-damaged heart, although it may also find a use in tiny robotic devices.
The gene that makes your mouth water - Spit might have helped human evolution by enabling our ancestors to harvest more energy from starch than their primate cousins. The change could possibly have supported the growth in hominin brains that occurred some two million years ago, says Nate Dominy, an anthropologist at the University of California in Santa Cruz involved in the study. "Our diet must have had some shift to feed that brain," says Dominy, who thinks root vegetables like African tubers allowed large-brained humans to flourish.

BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition
All UK 'must be on DNA database' - The whole population and every UK visitor should be added to the national DNA database, a senior judge has said. The present database in England and Wales holds details of 4m people who are guilty or cleared of a crime. Lord Justice Sedley said this was indefensible and biased against ethnic minorities, and it would be fairer to include everyone, guilty or innocent.
Face scans spot gene syndromes - 3D face scans are set to speed up the diagnosis of rare genetic conditions in children, UK scientists say. More than 700 genetic syndromes affect facial traits, but some are difficult to spot because few cases exist. Now new software that compares an individual's face with a bank of 3D images of people with known conditions is aiding diagnosis. The technology, presented at the BA Festival of Science in York, had a 90% success rate, the scientists said.
Hidden way of reading revealed - Previously, researchers thought that, when reading, both eyes focused on the same letter of a word. But a UK team has found this is not always the case. In fact, almost 50% of the time, each of our eyes locks on to different letters simultaneously.

ABC News: Technology & Science
Man Says Metal Heart Left Him Cold - Facing death in 2000 due to severe heart failure, Peter Houghton's London doctors extended his life by implanting a titanium device in his heart. While the device has given him the ability to travel with his wife, work and even take part in a 91-mile charity walk, Houghton believes the robotic heart has somehow robbed him of his ability to love.
Tots Get Web Identity at Birth - Besides leaving the hospital with a birth certificate and a clean bill of health, baby Mila Belle Howells got something she won't likely use herself for several years: her very own Internet domain name. Likewise newborn Bennett Pankow joined his four older siblings in getting his own Internet moniker. In fact, before naming his child, Mark Pankow checked to make sure "BennettPankow.com" hadn't already been claimed.

Technology Review Feed - Tech Review Top Stories
Painless Drug Injections - Researchers at Hewlett Packard Labs (HP Labs) have engineered a drug patch that painlessly delivers medications through the skin via tiny micro-needles. The technology is modeled after HP's inkjet-printer technology. The prototype patch, which is about one inch square, contains 400 cylindrical reservoirs, each less than one cubic millimeter. Each reservoir is connected to a micro-needle, and the whole array is fueled by a low-power battery and controlled by an embedded microchip that's programmed to heat up any given reservoir to deliver a specific drug.

Physics Org
Radio Frequencies Help Burn Salt Water - John Kanzius happened upon the discovery accidentally when he tried to desalinate seawater with a radio-frequency generator he developed to treat cancer. He discovered that as long as the salt water was exposed to the radio frequencies, it would burn. The radio frequencies act to weaken the bonds between the elements that make up salt water, releasing the hydrogen, Roy said. Once ignited, the hydrogen will burn as long as it is exposed to the frequencies, he said.
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Physics Org
Sun's in the clear over global warming, says study - Scientists on Wednesday said that the rise in global temperatures that has been detected over the past two decades cannot be blamed on the Sun, a theory espoused by climate-change sceptics.
Happy, sad, angry or astonished? - How do people respond when they walk past an advertising poster? Do they stop and turn around to look at it with interest or march angrily past? A new system of detailed facial analysis can recognize a person’s mood in an instant.

New Scientist Tech - Weapons Technology
Plague of bioweapons accidents afflicts the US - Plague, anthrax, Rocky Mountain spotted fever - these are among the bioweapons some experts fear could be used in a germ warfare attack against the US. But the public has had near-misses with those diseases and others over the past five years, ironically because of accidents in labs that were working to defend against bioterrorists. Even worse, they may be only the tip of an iceberg.

Technology Review Feed - Biotech Top Stories
The Secrets to Living Past 100 - A new project to partially sequence the genomes of 100 people age 100 or older could shed light on the genetic variations that allow some people to stay healthy decades beyond the average life expectancy. Dubbed the Methuselah Project, the endeavor will serve as a test bed for a new approach to sequencing developed at the Rothberg Institute a non-profit research center in Guilford, CT. About 1 in 7,000 people live to be 100, many of them spry well into their 90s, but the reasons for their good health remain largely unknown.

BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition
Fat 'can grow new breasts' - Fat from the tummy or bottom could be used to grow new breasts in a treatment which could be carried out in an hour - or a lunch break.
Antibiotic resistance blocked - US scientists believe they may have found a way to stop the growing problem of bacteria becoming resistant to current drug treatments.

ABC News: Technology
Sheeps Being Trained to Weed Vineyards - University researchers are training sheep to clean up vineyard weeds but stay off the grapes. Enthusiastic and unpicky eaters, sheep are already being used in some vineyards as a green alternative to tractors. They don't use gasoline and keep down weeds a necessary task to deter pests and keep vines healthy sans herbicides.
Joke Comprehension May Decrease With Age - a new study suggests older adults have a harder time getting jokes as they age. The research indicates that because older adults may have greater difficulty with cognitive flexibility, abstract reasoning and short-term memory, they also have greater difficulty with tests of humor comprehension.

Reuters: Science

Women drawn to men with muscles - Muscular young men are likely to have more sex partners than their less-chiseled peers, researchers at the University of California Los Angeles said on Monday. Their study, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, suggests muscles in men are akin to elaborate tail feathers in male peacocks: They attract females looking for a virile mate.
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New Scientist - Energy and Fuels
Roll up for better hydrogen fuel storage -The thorny problem of how to store hydrogen fuel safely for future vehicles and portable gadgets could be solved by simply storing it in nanoscopic scrolls of carbon. Scientists in Greece say they have found a way to make so-called "carbon nanoscrolls" store more hydrogen than any other material.
Giant microwave turns plastic back to oil - A US company is taking plastics recycling to another level – turning them back into the oil they were made from, and gas. All that is needed, claims Global Resource Corporation (GRC), is a finely tuned microwave and – hey presto! – a mix of materials that were made from oil can be reduced back to oil and combustible gas (and a few leftovers).

ABC News: Technology
The Clash Between Religion and Science -Here's one reason why the war between science and religion cannot be resolved. Most scientists do not believe in God. That's one of the findings in a huge study of leading scientists at the 21 top-rated research universities in the United States.
Like Liposuction, Without the Surgery - Scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center have found a natural chemical in mice that seems to control the formation of fat. While the scientists have many more years of work ahead of them, they said the same chemicals may very well work in humans.
Taser, IRobot Team Up to Arm Robots - RoboCops and robot soldiers got a little closer to reality Thursday as a maker of floor-cleaning automatons teamed up with a stun-gun manufacturer to arm track-wheeled 'bots for police and the Pentagon.
Hope This Makes You Mad - Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, have found that in some cases, a little anger can actually sharpen our ability to analyze data carefully and make the right decisions.
Amphibious Vehicles: Elite's Ultimate Mode of Transport - The Aquada, a combination sports car and speedboat, will debut in the United States in the early part of 2009 to the tune of $85,000. Currently, it sells overseas for more than $200,000 since entering the U.K. market in 2003.
A Face Worth a Thousand Angry Words - In the last decade tattooing, once the realm of sailors and bikers, has become much more mainstream in the United States. It's not at all unusual to walk down the street and see the occasional butterfly on an ankle, a koi on the lower back or a Celtic band around a bicep. But tattoo experts say it's a different kind of person who wants his or her entire face inked.
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From ABC News - Technology
Video Game Addiction: A New Diagnosis? - Is Video Game Addiction a Psychiatric Disorder? AMA Report Seeks to Declare It One
Fringe Science Yields 'Gay Bombs' and Psychic Teleportation - Pentagon Spends $78 Billion a Year on Weapons and Space Research, Some of it Whacky
When Grown-Up Kids Flock Back to the Nest - Many Adult Children Are Living With Their Parents Post-Graduation
Mary Poppins Makes Way for the Manny - Author Cheers the Rise of the Male Nanny
Second Adulthood: Experts Say If It's Not Scary, You're Not Growing - Do You Have a Dream That's Just Not Going Away as You Get Older? Take a Second Shot at Growing Up in a New Career or at College.
Cracking the Teen Texting Code - Text Messaging That Parents Will Never Understand Can Drive Cell Phone Bills Through the Roof
New iTunes Copy Protection Draws Fire - User Data Attached to Apple Inc.'s iTunes Songs Raise Concerns

From news@nature.com Earth and Environment channel
Disappearing lake confuses geologists - A glacial lake in the Andes has disappeared mysteriously, prompting local geologists to head to Bernardo O'Higgins National Park in Patagonia, Chile, to find out what happened.

From Physics Org
Without hot rock, much of North America would be underwater - A University of Utah study shows how various regions of North America are kept afloat by heat within Earth’s rocky crust, and how much of the continent would sink beneath sea level if not for heat that makes rock buoyant. Of coastal cities, New York City would sit 1,427 feet under the Atlantic, Boston would be 1,823 feet deep, Miami would reside 2,410 feet undersea, New Orleans would be 2,416 underwater and Los Angeles would rest 3,756 feet beneath the Pacific.

From news@nature.com Biotechnology channel
The patent threat to designer biology - (Commentary) It is arguably a distortion of the idea of 'invention' to patent genes that exist in nature, even if the patenter has worked out how to use it for a particular application. But if you can start to make new 'devices' by arranging these genes in new ways, doesn't that qualify? And if so, how small and rudimentary a 'part' becomes patentable? Scientists gathered in Greenland last week at a meeting called "The merging of bio and nano — towards cyborg cells" were well placed to address such questions. At that conference, supported by the Kavli Foundation in Oxnard, California, Drew Endy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge admitted that the intellectual-property framework for synthetic biology remains unresolved.
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Source: The Independent
An interesting article sent to me by [livejournal.com profile] ancalagon_tb. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is a growing problem in the US which has recently spread to Europe. This occurs when all the bees in a colony suddenly abandon the hive and its queen. The bees and the hive, understandably, perish. More than 60 percent of the commercial bee population on the west coast of the US has been lost to this disorder, and the problem affects more than just honey production: bees are responsible for pollinating crops so substantial bee population loses can translate into crop failures. Many theories have been put forward, but one of the more recent is that cell phones interfere with the bees' ability to navigate. One preliminary study determined that bees refused to return to a hive when a cell phone has been placed in close proximity to it. An earlier study had already determined that bees change their behaviour around power lines. The jury is still out as the to true cause.

Source: New York Magazine
Another article sent to me by [livejournal.com profile] ancalagon_tb. A Columbia professor has an interesting proposal for both increasing the availability of fresh produce in the city and combat global warming. He proposes building 30 story "vertical greenhouses" to raise fruits and vegetables, as well as generate energy cleanly. The system could also be used to purify wastewater, allowing the city to conserve water resources. The system would reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere if, for each building completed, an equivalent amount of farmland was covered with trees.

Source: PhysOrg
You can't get a runner much more dedicated than this. Suni Williams, currently serving on board the International Space Station, ran the Boston Marathon while orbiting 210 miles above the Earth. She circled the Earth twice in the 4 hours and 24 minutes it took her to complete the race.

Source: Technology Review
Recent advances may give sight to congenitally blind people. The approach is based on research that visual sensations can be generated in blind individuals by electrically stimulating the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) which is located between the optic nerve and the visual cortex. The LGN is one of the first "routing stations" along the visual pathway so visual information that reaches this point has been minimally processed. This means that it is easier to correlate parts of the visual field with parts of the LGN. The only drawback is that the LGN is located deep within the brain so is difficult to access. Recall, though, that in an earlier post that there have been recent advances in using lasers to stimulate and suppress individual neurons.

Source: Technology Review
Scientists have used brain imaging to detect the differences in neural behaviour between psychopaths and non-psychopaths. Non-psychopaths who were shown horrific images displayed significant activity in the amygdala; however psychopaths displayed little or no activity. They theorize that psychopaths may lack the neural wiring "...to generate the basic emotions that keep primitive killer instincts in check." Don't expect to see a "test" for psychopaths soon; the lack of activation in response to such images may also be important to those in more "heroic" professions such as police officers and firefighters. Moreover, non-psychopaths can also become killers so detecting potential psychopaths would not end acts of mass violence.
dracodraconis: (Default)
While I'm thinking of it, apparently some people are unable to see these tech posts (they show up as white-on-white). If you are one of these people, please let me know if yesterday's tech post was visible (I tried putting it in a text editor before pasting it here). Today's was constructed the usual way. For everyone else, carry on in some semblance of normality.

Source: Transmaterial
Bloomframe is part window frame, part balcony. Although I'm a little bit fuzzy as to why it is useful to be able to retract your balcony, the Bloomframe (as the image sequence suggests) starts as a window frame but can be extended out into a balcony.

Source: MSNBC
For those who are interested in keeping track, the number of lawsuits filed by the RIAA since September 2003 is 18,000, of which 1,000 are university students. The article notes that more than a quarter of the students have accepted the settlement offers, each offering to drop the lawsuit in return for paying the RIAA between $3,000(US) and $5,000(US). On a related story, read How I Became A Music Pirate which relates one long-time music lover's failed attempt to listen to music which he had legally purchased online.

Source: National Geographic
One type of parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, has evolved and unusual way to ensure it reproduces. The parasite can only reproduce in the gut of a cat, but spends much of its time infecting rats. The solution? It concentrates within the amagdyla of the mouse and causes the rat to be attracted cat urine, an action that goes counter to healthy rat behaviour for obvious reasons. They have not found any other rat aversions were affected, just the aversion to cat. The parasite is unique in the precision with which it is able to change the behaviour of the host.

Source: PhysOrg
A New Zealand scientists claims to have made a demonstration solar cell that can generate more electricity than conventional systems, is environmentally friendly, and can be produced for a fraction of the cost of contemporary solar cells. The secret? The dye-based solar cells consist of synthetic chlorophyll and titanium dioxide, the latter already a common ingredient in products as diverse as toothpaste and paint. He expects that a dye-based solar panel would cost 1/10th of an equivalent silicon-based solar panel. They plan to move to commercialization of the system after making some more tweaks on the dye and the design of the solar cell.

Source: Nature
Another one pointed out by [livejournal.com profile] ancalagon_tb. People with damage to their ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VPC) have been shown to make more Utilitarian decisions that those without VPC damage. Specifically, a recent study showed that VPC-damaged patients were more than twice as likely to make decisions that involve harming another person, even someone it is assumed they care about about, for the greater good. They appear to lack a common moral revulsion to harming other people. This study confirmed that the VPC is involved in the moral decision-making process rather than being activated in response to the decision. For a full list of the dilemma's examined used, go to http://www.neuron.org/cgi/content/full/44/2/389/DC1/ and try them yourself.
dracodraconis: (Default)

Source: Nature
The US Environmental Protection Agency was issued a strongly worded slap by the US Supreme Court when they were told that, yes, air pollution caused by vehicles are also their problem. Specifically, ...Under the clear terms of the Clean Air Act, EPA can avoid taking further action only if it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change or if it provides some reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether they do." in the words of Justice John Stevens. The EPA had been contending that carbon dioxide emissions were not pollutants and so not under their jurisdiction as defined in the Clean Air Act. This means that the EPA must actually study the effects of carbon dioxide emission on the atmosphere rather than simply claim that it is not their problem.

Source: PhysOrg
Russia is beginning a 500 day study of the effects of long-term isolation of a research crew in preparation for any potential future Mars missions. Next, spring, the 6-member crew will near Moscow and remain there for 500 days. Communications with the outside world will feature a 20 minute delay, and they will be forced to contend with simulated emergencies. The mission will simulate the launch, a 250-day transit, an excursion to the surface, and the 250-day return leg.

Source: Space.com
Astronomers have discovered that debris discs, believed to be the precursors of planetary systems, are just as common around binary star systems, even "tight binaries", as around single stars such as in our own solar system. This greatly expands the range of star systems to examine for the possibility of life-bearing worlds because binary systems outnumber single-star systems. In fact, two-thirds of all star systems in the observable portion of our galaxy are multi-star systems, many of them binary systems.

Source: Nature
Scientists have discovered a way to strip the antigens out of blood to convert it to the universally acceptable type-O coveted by medical professionals. Type-O blood is used in all emergency situations where there is insufficient time to determine the patient's blood type. As a result, type-O blood is constantly in short supply. It is also interesting to note that Native Americans are almost exclusively Type-O, as well as more than half of African Americans, and that the donor population is shrinking due to fears about transmitting blood-borne illnesses.

Source: New Scientist
Small interfering RNA (siRNA) have been suggested as a way to combat HIV, if only they could get the molecules into the HIV cells. Stanford researchers have demonstrated that siRNA molecules can be embedded in carbon nanotubes which are able to enter the HIV cells and, hopefully, deposit the molecule. Early results are good, pointing the way to a potential future treatment method.
dracodraconis: (Default)

Source: National Geographic
Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons, may have all the components necessary to create some form of life say astronomers. The planet's core is believed to have been hot during it's early development, possibly hot enough to create the material components of life, particularly nitrogen. Combine this with water and a core still hot enough to create geysers of steam and the moon features the bet chance of being a place to find extraterrestrial life, albeit albeit fairly primitive.

Source: PhysOrg
A prominent scholar at the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem believes that remains claimed in James Cameron's documentary to be of Mary Magdalene are actually the remains of two women. He says that the script was written by two different hands, one part stating that the occupant was a woman named Mary while the second, possibly later, inscription names the occupant as a woman named Martha. He believes that the remain of Martha were added later so that the ossuary, at one point, contained the remains of both women.

Source: ABC News
Micromanagers beware, nagging may make it less likely that what you want done will be accomplished. Psychologists have published a study indicating that nagging will encourage the other person to do the opposite of what the nagger wants. The impetus of the research was Psychologist Tanya Chartrand's frustration that her husband had a tendency to do the opposite of what she wanted. He, being a psychologist as well, joined with her into researching the problem. They claim that their study shows that attempts by another person to exert control over an individual results in the one being controlled rebelling against that control. They admit, however, that the results are not conclusive. Her personal response to the research was that, given what they have learned, her husband should be in a better position to "suppress his reactant tendencies" and do what he is told. He sees it as an automatic response to a controlling spouse so it not convinced that it is possible to suppress those tendencies. It appears that they still have issues to work through.

Source: Globe and Mail
The RIAA is continuing a crackdown on illegal downloads. In the latest report, 50 Ohio students have been served an RIAA legal notice, using Ohio University as the intermediary, to settle out of court for $3,000 in damages or face a law suit that could cost them $750 per recording that it can be proven they pirated. They have 20 days to respond to the letter before the cases go to court. The RIAA has sued more than 18,000 people since 2003 and intends to send more than 400 letters each month as part of an accelerated program to stop music pirating. More than 13 universities have been contacted and ordered to forward the notices to students they claim are guilty of pirating. Looks like the RIAA has found a cash cow they can milk by acting as police, judge and jury. Says one Globe reader in the comments section: " Extortion is a criminal offense, which occurs when a person either obtains money, property or services from another through coercion or intimidation or threatens one with physical harm unless they are paid money or property." While piracy is inherently wrong (not to mention illegal), what the RIAA is doing stinks to high heavens.

Source: Globe and Mail
As of March 14th, Revenue Canada's electronic tax system was back in action and processing the backlog of tax returns.

January 2010

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