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CBC News - Montreal - Testosterone drives men to buy fast cars

A recent study by Concordia University researchers has determined that after one hour of driving a Porsche 911, the testosterone levels of young men were elevated but after one hour driving a Toyota Camry their testosterone levels remained low. The results seemed to be independent of whether the driver was on a street where he knew he would be seen by women. According to study lead Gad Saad, the results indicate that the response shows that the car is a type of "sexual signal" similar to that displayed by wild animals


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Like Father, Like Daughter: Scientific American Podcast

Women born in the 1970s were 3 times more likely to follow their father's career path. The rest of the podcast can e found at the link.
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Porn in the USA: Conservatives are biggest consumers - science-in-society - 27 February 2009 - New Scientist

According to a study of anonymized credit card receipts, the US states with the largest population-adjusted consumption of pornography are those that are considered to be more conservative based on electoral college votes in the previous election. Also, porn consumption among those postal codes with higher church attendance showed a drop in porn use on Sunday compared to other days of the week. Finally, states that passed laws banning gay marriage had more porn subscribers than those that hadn't passed anti-gay marriage laws. Similar results were found when the data was merged with a previous study on public attitudes toward religion. States in which the majority proported to have "old-fashioned" family values and considered AIDS to be God's punishment for immoral behaviour had the greatest per-capita number of porn subscriptions.
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globeandmail.com: Facebook is ... breeding spying, jealous lovers

Two University of Guelph graduate students have conducted a survey of 308 Facebooks users, leading them to conclude that the more time they spent on Facebook, the more suspicious they became of their partners. The effect seemed to be stronger in women than in men. The propose that all four previously-identified triggers of jealousy are present on Facebook.
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Ideals can wreak havoc on female friendships

A collaborative project between Canadian and US universities reports that "...female same-sex friendships are significantly less tolerant, more volatile, and likelier to degrade based on a single negative incident than male same-sex friendships...", which contrary to traditional views that women are more socially cooperative than men. According to one of the study's authors, "...The standards are very high for women... They're on thin ice all the time." That said, the auhors stress that women excel in developing deeper relationships than men.
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No breakfast, earlier sex: Japan study

A Japanese study found that teenagers that didn't eat breakfast with their family lost their virginity at an earlier age than the average reported for Japanese teenagers. . Take of this what you will.
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Among the stories in today's post: Energy-harvesting mechanical fish, the world's smallest radio, the benefits of swearing at work, and soy's affects on sperm count.
New Scientist - Energy and Fuels
Mechanical 'fish' could tap turbulence for energy - Devices that harvest energy from swirling wakes surrounding buildings are being developed by US researchers. Their novel designs – inspired by fish – could generate electricity using eddies, something that conventional turbines cannot do.
Multi-touch display can 'see' objects too - A computer screen that also acts as a two-handed touch interface and a crude infrared camera has been developed by researchers at Microsoft's labs in the UK. The technology – dubbed ThinSight – was developed by adding an extra layer of electronics behind a normal laptop screen. This adds a couple of centimetres to the overall thickness, but completely transforms its abilities. The screen "sees" by using a grid of paired infrared sensors and transmitters that sit just behind the backlight of the laptop's LCD panel. The sensors can form crude images when infrared light bounces off an object (see images, right). This could allow the screen to identify hand gestures or to see objects, and let them interact with onscreen images.
Physics Org
Look, Ma, no batteries: Powering nanoelectronics with light - Scientists have developed solar cells 200 hundred times thinner than a human hair that they believe will power the nanoscale gadgetry of tomorrow, according to a study released Wednesday. Virtually invisible to the naked eye, a single strand can crank out up to 200 picowatts. Two hundred billionths of a watt may not seem much, but at nanoscale it is enough to provide a steady output of electricity to run ultralow power electronics, including some that could be worn on -- or even inside -- the body.
Toward world's smallest radio: nano-sized detector turns radio waves into music - Researchers in California today report development of the world’s first working radio system that receives radio waves wirelessly and converts them to sound signals through a nano-sized detector made of carbon nanotubes. The “carbon nanotube radio” device is thousands of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. The development marks an important step in the evolution of nano-electronics and could lead to the production of the world’s smallest radio, the scientists say.
National Geographic News
Gene-Altered Plant, Tree Can Suck Up Toxins - Two types of genetically modified plants can remove toxic compounds from the environment, according to research by a pair of independent groups. One group developed Arabidopsis plants—small plants related to cabbage and mustard—that can clean up soil contaminated with cyclonite, or RDX. The widely used explosive is highly toxic and carcinogenic. The other team modified a poplar tree to soak up a host of cancer-causing compounds from soil, groundwater, and air.
Slashdot
Swearing at Work is Bleeping Good For You - This is the kind of news that your HR folks don't want to hear, but researchers today said letting workers swear at will in the workplace can benefit employees and employers. The study found regular use of profanity to express and reinforce solidarity among staff, enabling them to express their feelings, such as frustration, and develop social relationships, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia (UES).
How the U.S. Became Switchboard to the World - A lucky coincidence of economics is responsible for routing much of the world's internet and telephone traffic through switching points in the United States, where, under legislation introduced this week, the U.S. National Security Agency will be free to continue tapping it. ...International phone and internet traffic flows through the United States largely because of pricing models established more than 100 years ago... The United States, where the internet was invented, was also home to the first internet backbone. Combine that architectural advantage with the pricing disparity inherited from the phone networks, and the United States quickly became the center of cyberspace as the internet gained international penetration in the 1990s.
Purpose of Appendix Believed Found - Some scientists think they have figured out the real job of the troublesome and seemingly useless appendix: It produces and protects good germs for your gut. That's the theory from surgeons and immunologists at Duke University Medical School, published online in a scientific journal this week.
ABC News: Technology & Science
Study: Eating Soy May Slash Sperm Count - Men who eat just half a serving of soya a day have drastically fewer sperm than those who do not consume such foods, according to a small, preliminary study. The study's researchers say larger trials are needed to determine whether men hoping to conceive a child should try to avoid soya foods, such as tofu, tempeh and soya milk. However, soya industry representatives caution that the new findings contradict earlier studies that have shown no impact on sperm count from soya-based products.
BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition
Gene-block birth control 'on way' - An American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference was told a technique called "RNA interference" could stop sperm entering the egg. However, the new "Pill" is at least a decade away - and may have its own side-effects.
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Among the stories in today's post: foiling car pool cheaters, cell phones that detect bad breath, weaving your own replacement organs, why basil is zingy, and the benefits of quitting.
The Globe and Mail - Technology News
Stored blood lacks vital element, studies show - Much of the stored blood given to millions of people every year may lack a component vital for it to deliver oxygen to the tissues. Nitric oxide, which helps keep blood vessels open, begins breaking down as soon as blood goes into storage, two research teams report in separate studies in this week's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Technology Review Feed - Tech Review Top Stories
Foiling Carpool-Lane Cheaters - Solo commuters frustrated by snarled traffic have taken extreme measures to sneak into high-occupancy carpool lanes: costumed mannequins in passenger seats, dolls swaddled like babies--even dogs in bonnets. But a company called Vehicle Occupancy, based at Loughborough University, in Leicestershire, England, says that it has developed an infrared camera-mounted scanning system that foils 95 percent of such trickery.
A Cell Phone That Spots Bad Breath - A Japanese company has unveiled a prototype cell phone with a built-in bad-breath meter that will let you know if you need to reach for a mint. It also keeps track of your activity level, your pulse, and your paunch, thanks to a built-in pedometer, a pulse meter, and a body-fat analyzer, which sends a small electrical signal through your body to assess its composition.
New Scientist Tech - Technology
Cell-squirting needles could 'weave' new organs - A new approach to "printing" living cells could make it easier to arrange them into precise structures without harming them. This could enable future therapies where replacement limbs or organs can be printed to order.
PhysOrg.com - latest science and technology news
Spouses often mirror each other's health habits - If one spouse exercises, quits smoking, stops drinking alcohol, receives a flu shot, or undergoes a cholesterol screening, the other spouse is more likely to do the same, according to a new study in Health Services Research.
How basil gets its zing - The blend of aromatic essential oils that gives fresh basil leaves their characteristic warm and sweet aroma is well characterized but not much is known about the enzymatic machinery manufacturing the odiferous mix. Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the University of Michigan followed their noses and solved part of the molecular puzzle.
Carbon dioxide triggers inborn distress - PLoS ONE publishes a study showing that inhalation of carbon dioxide (CO2) triggers emotional distress and a panic response in healthy individuals. The findings of the study posit panic as an inborn survival-oriented response. The results may be relevant for a better understanding and the further prevention of emotional disorders.
Driven People May Avoid Alzheimer's - A surprising study of elderly people suggests that those who see themselves as self-disciplined, organized achievers have a lower risk for developing Alzheimer's disease than people who are less conscientious.
Childhood TV viewing a risk for behavior problems - Daily television viewing for two or more hours in early childhood can lead to behavioral problems and poor social skills, according to a study of children 2.5 to 5.5 years of age conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Why quitting may be good for you - Are there times when it is better to simply give up? Psychologists have been exploring this question, and more specifically a possible link between tenacity and both physical and mental health.
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Among the stories in today's post: beaming energy from space, frog-inspired tape, building wormholes, women's preference for deep-voiced men, and 80 million years without sex.
New Scientist - Energy and Fuels
Pentagon backs plan to beam solar power from space - A futuristic scheme to collect solar energy on satellites and beam it to Earth has gained a large supporter in the US military. Space-based solar power would use kilometre-sized solar panel arrays to gather sunlight in orbit. It would then beam power down to Earth in the form of microwaves or a laser, which would be collected in antennas on the ground and then converted to electricity. Unlike solar panels based on the ground, solar power satellites placed in geostationary orbit above the Earth could operate at night and during cloudy conditions.
National Geographic News
Early Venus Had Oceans, May Have Been Habitable - Venus, not Mars, may have been the most likely planet in the solar system to have also developed life, scientists say. The cloud-shrouded planet most likely started with oceans much like Earth's, which evaporated as Venus heated up, according to new research.
Frog-Inspired Tape Reusable, Doesn't Lose Grip - The toe pads of tree frogs and crickets have inspired a new supersticky—yet reusable—adhesive, scientists report. Conventional tape cracks when it is pulled off a surface. The cracks enable removal, but usually also render the tape useless for reapplication, the authors said. The toe pads of tree frogs and crickets, on the other hand, contain microscopic channel patterns that prevent cracking. The researchers embedded the same type of microchannels in the new adhesive, which thwarted cracks, said study co-author Animangsu Ghatak.
BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition
Test 'can spot Alzheimer's risk' - A newly developed blood test can identify those at risk of Alzheimer's disease up to six years before symptoms would become apparent, researchers say.
Eighty million years without sex - The mystery of how an animal has survived for 80 million years without sex has been solved by UK scientists. A Cambridge team says the creature owes its existence to a genetic quirk that offers some recompense for its prolonged celibacy. The animal is a tiny invertebrate known as a bdelloid rotifer. It lives in freshwater pools. If deprived of water, it survives in a desiccated state until water becomes available again. The secret to this novel survival mechanism lies in a twist of asexual reproduction, whereby the animal is able to make two separate proteins from two different copies of a key gene.
ABC News: Technology & Science
Women Dig 'Deep and Sexy' Voices - "We know in this society that women have a preference for men who have a lower or a deeper voice pitch," said Coren Apicella, a student researcher at Harvard University, explaining that there have been polls and studies on the subject.
Physics Org
'Electromagnetic Wormhole' Possible with Invisibility Technology - The team of mathematicians that first created the mathematics behind the "invisibility cloak" announced by physicists last October has now shown that the same technology could be used to generate an "electromagnetic wormhole." Last year, David R. Smith, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke's Pratt School, and his coauthors engineered an invisibility device as a disk, which allowed microwaves to pass around it. Greenleaf and his coauthors have now employed more elaborate geometry to specify exactly what properties are demanded of a wormhole's metamaterial in order to create the "invisible tunnel" effect. They also calculated what additional optical effects would occur if the inside of the wormhole was coated with a variety of hypothetical metamaterials.
Swedish Agency Develops Underwater Wireless Technology - The Swedish Defense Research Agency, FOI has developed an underwater wireless technology that has been tested for accurately predicting weather conditions, sea pollution and earthquakes. The new technology is a vast improvement over traditional echo sound technology.
Car Insurers' Devices Track Teen Drivers - Several U.S. auto insurers have begun offering in-car cameras or global positioning equipment to help parents monitor their teenagers' driving behavior, hoping to reduce the alarming number of crashes involving young new motorists. Under Teen Safe Driver, a camera records audio and video images of both the road and the driver when motion sensors detect swerving, hard braking, sudden acceleration or a collision. The footage goes to an analysis center where it is graded for riskiness and sent on to parents with comments and coaching tips. Teen drivers have mixed feelings about the technology; one in 20 even cover the camera after it is first installed, according to program officials.
Wired Science
New Algae-Growing Technique Could Lead to Earth-Friendly Fabric, Paint - Going green is fashionable, but dyeing our clothes has remained a decidedly eco-unfriendly practice. Now, British scientists have developed a way to grow harmless algae to add color to fabric and paint. The algae, called diatoms, are single-celled organisms that are unique because they pack iridescent shells. The hard silica shells act like crystals -- depending on the configuration of the holes in the shell, the color changes. The perception of color is maintained without altering the chemical composition of fabric, which is a fundamentally different way of producing color.
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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
Asteroid heads for Earth, Russian astronomer claims - Boris Shustov, director of the Institute of Astronomy, said at a forum that the Apophis asteroid could have a bigger impact than an asteroid that hit Siberia in 1908, the Novosti news agency reported. Apophis' predicted track would take it within 17,000 miles of Earth in 2029, Shustov said.
Group Renames Asteroid for George Takei - An asteroid between Mars and Jupiter has been renamed 7307 Takei in honor of the actor, best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu in the original "Star Trek" series and movies. "I am now a heavenly body," Takei, 70, said Tuesday, laughing. "I found out about it yesterday. ... I was blown away. It came out of the clear, blue sky - just like an asteroid."
Technology Review Feed - Nanotech Top Stories
Display Technology Promises Cheaper Solar - The big manufacturing equipment that has helped bring down costs for flat-screen TVs based on liquid-crystal-display (LCD) technology may soon bring prices for solar electricity more in line with prices for electricity from the grid. Applied Materials, a company based in Santa Clara, CA, that supplies manufacturing equipment to LCD makers, as well as to major microchip makers, has converted its equipment to produce thin-film silicon solar cells that are cheap enough to compete with more conventional solar cells. This may eventually lead to much cheaper solar power.
Nonstick Chewing Gum - Most everyone has had the displeasure of stepping on chewing gum in a parking lot. Cleaning up the sticky mess might become easier, thanks to a new gum created by U.K.-based Revolymer. The gum easily comes off roads, shoes, and hair, and it barely sticks at all to some surfaces.
New Scientist - Energy and Fuels
Grass-munching bugs could charge rural phones - A bacteria-powered cellphone charger could keep people in developing countries talking, even when they live far from the grid. A team of students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, US, has designed a microbial fuel cell (MFC) that runs on plant waste.
Technology Review Feed - Biotech Top Stories
Deciphering Human Differences - Yale University molecular biologist Michael Snyder, along with colleagues Alex Eckehart Urban and Jan Korbel (from left to right), used new computer algorithms to identify hundreds of structural variations--chunks of shuffled DNA--in the human genome. Mapping and characterizing these structural variants could be key to understanding human diversity and the origins of many diseases.
BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition
Chilli compound fires painkiller - A chemical from chilli peppers may be able to kill pain without affecting touch or movement. Conventional local anaesthetics affect all nerve cells. But the researchers Harvard team, writing in Nature, said that with capsaicin, the chilli chemical, they can target just pain receptors. However, a UK expert said it might be difficult to inject it safely.
Captive breeding 'weakens' beasts - Animals bred in captivity to help conservation programmes can quickly become less fit for survival in the wild, research suggests.
Mirrors 'could deflect' asteroids - Flying mirrors could save earth from a catastrophic asteroid collision, researchers have claimed. Up to 5,000 mirrors would be used to focus a beam of sunlight on to the asteroid, melting the rock and altering its orbital path away from earth. Orbiting mirrors would be used to focus sunlight on an area of the asteroid - heating the rock to around 2,100 degrees Celsius. This would create a thrust which would nudge the asteroid off course. For an asteroid on the scale of that which is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs, a 5,000-strong fleet of spacecraft would need to focus a beam on the surface for three or more years.
Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends
Identifying fingerprints in seconds - Researchers at the University of Warwick, UK, say they have developed a technology to identify damaged fingerprints in just a few seconds. Their approach neglects surface marks and focuses on underlying patterns. The researchers claim that their technique is fast and 100% accurate -- at least it was on 500 people tested at the London Science Museum in August 2007. Now, they want to introduce this technology, which uses sweat pores as comparison points, in ID cards or passports and to access sensitive buildings. Will this new technology enter our biometric future? Time will tell.
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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
Sign of 'embryonic planets' forming in nearby stellar systems - Astronomers at the University of Rochester are pointing to three nearby stars they say may hold "embryonic planets"-a missing link in planet-formation theories.
Victimization for sexual orientation increases suicidal behavior in college students - The film and television series "M*A*S*H*" featured the song "Suicide is Painless," but new research refutes that idea and indicates that being victimized because of sexual orientation is a chief risk factor for suicidal behavior among gay, lesbian and bisexual college students.
New system makes any digital camera take multibillion-pixel shots - Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, in collaboration with scientists at NASA`s Ames Research Center, have built a low-cost robotic device that enables any digital camera to produce breathtaking gigapixel (billions of pixels) panoramas, called GigaPans.
Research cautions to catch-and-release in less than 4 minutes - A study on the effects of catch-and-release angling on bonefish which was conducted by a team led by University of Illinois researcher Cory Suski. Results from the study showed that both the duration of an exercise bout (the catch) longer than four minutes, as well as the length of exposure to air, will result in a proportional increase in negative effects on the fishes' physiological condition. The study also showed that the longer duration of the catch-and-release, the longer the time the fish needed to recover and the greater likelihood of the fish being caught by predators.
New material concept for aircraft wings could save billions - Building aircraft wings with a special aluminium fibre combination makes them nearly immune to metal fatigue. The CentrAl concept comprises a central layer of fibre metal laminate (FML), sandwiched between one or more thick layers of high-quality aluminium. This creates a robust construction material which is not only exceptionally strong, but also insensitive to fatigue.

BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition
Chocolate 'aids fatigue syndrome' - A daily dose of specially-formulated dark chocolate may help cut chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. Patients in a pilot study found they had less fatigue when eating dark chocolate with a high cocoa content than with white chocolate dyed brown. Researchers from Hull York Medical School said the results were surprising but dark chocolate may be having an effect on the brain chemical serotonin. Experts said patients should consume chocolate in moderation.

ScienceBlogs
The Divorce Myth [The Frontal Cortex] - There are lies, damn lies and statistics. Last week, the newspapers were filled with stories about rising divorce rates. It was widely reported that couples that married in the 1970's had a less than even chance of celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. But those statistics were misleading. Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers report "...the divorce rate has been falling continuously over the past quarter-century, and is now at its lowest level since 1970. While marriage rates are also declining, those marriages that do occur are increasingly more stable." by Jonah Lehrer
Speaking of making stuff up [denialism blog] - Next for "making up disease" files, Ed Brayton brings us news of the latest crank idea from the masturbation-obsessed nuts over at World Nut Daily. It's the new plague of masturbation-induced impotence. by Mark Hoofnagle.
Uncertainty Reduction: Ambiguity Resolution Mechanisms in Language [Developing Intelligence] - Ambiguity is a constant problem for any embodied cognitive agent with limited resources. Decisions need to be made, and their consequences understood, despite the probabilistic veil of uncertainty enveloping everything from sensory input to action execution. Clearly, there must be mechanisms for dealing with or resolving such ambiguity. by Chris Chatham
The futile quest for the "perfect" breast [Aetiology] - Over at Respectful Insolence, Orac discusses an article where a scientist has spent his days shut away, slaving endlessly over a data set--of pictures of topless models. Why? To produce the perfect boob job, of course--or as the article puts it, "to help Hollywood look even more perfect." Great. Just what we need. by Tara C. Smith
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Courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] d2leddy
Parallel universes exist - study - Parallel universes really do exist, according to a mathematical discovery by Oxford scientists described by one expert as "one of the most important developments in the history of science". The Oxford team, led by Dr David Deutsch, showed mathematically that the bush-like branching structure created by the universe splitting into parallel versions of itself can explain the probabilistic nature of quantum outcomes.

From [livejournal.com profile] ancalagon_tb
A Beloved Professor Delivers
The Lecture of a Lifetime
- Schools such as Stanford and the University of Alabama have mounted "Last Lecture Series," in which top professors are asked to think deeply about what matters to them and to give hypothetical final talks. For the audience, the question to be mulled is this: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? At Carnegie Mellon, however, Dr. Pausch's speech was more than just an academic exercise. The 46-year-old father of three has pancreatic cancer and expects to live for just a few months. His lecture, using images on a giant screen, turned out to be a rollicking and riveting journey through the lessons of his life.

Physics Org
NASA's Ion Engine Breaks Performance Record - Today's chemical propulsion systems get their big boost and then coast at constant speed until the next boost. An ion engine can produce its small thrust continually and thereby provide near constant acceleration and shorter travel times. Ion propulsion is also ten times more fuel efficient than chemical onboard propulsion systems. This greater efficiency means less propellant is needed for a mission. Spacecraft can then be smaller and lighter, with lower launch costs.

The Mercer Report
Strong loonie hurting Canadian pot exports: expert - The strong Canadian dollar has hit the illegal marijuana sector just as it has other industries that export to the United States, one of Canada's best known legalization advocates said on Thursday. But western marijuana growers have also benefited from Canada's strong economy, especially the booming Alberta oil patch, which has increased domestic consumption, according to Marc Emery, a founder of the British Columbia Marijuana Party.
Dinosaurs may roam Vancouver's Stanley Park - One of Canada's most iconic parks could soon be home to more than trees, tourists and spectacular views. The Vancouver Park Board wants to add another attraction: giant robotic dinosaurs. Documents obtained by the CBC reveal the board has put out a request for proposals for 25 to 30 life-size animatronic dinosaurs to be installed in Stanley Park near a miniature railroad right next to the petting zoo.

Improbable Research
The chemistry of divorce - A state forensics scientist who said she tested DNA in her husband’s underwear to find out whether he was cheating could be disciplined if investigators determine she violated the use of state equipment. Ann Chamberlain-Gordon of Okemos testified in a March 7 divorce hearing that she ran the test in September on the underwear of Charles Gordon Jr. Asked by his attorney what she found, she answered: “Another female. It wasn’t me.” She also said during a May 25 hearing in Ingham County Family Court that she ran the test on her own time with chemicals that were set to be thrown away.
Bras Don't Support Bouncing Breasts, Study Finds - Whether women are said to be flat-chested or big-busted, ordinary bras fall short when it comes to supporting bouncing breasts, a new study claims.

Physics Org
Microsoft Excel Fails Math Test - In a blog post, Microsoft employee David Gainer said that when computer users tried to get Excel 2007 to multiply some pairs of numbers and the result was 65,535, Excel would incorrectly display 100,000 as the answer.

Techdirt
Bridging The Tech Gender Gap - some computer science researchers postulate that the design of software itself may contribute to the male-bias seen in computer programming. In an experiment, participants were asked to find and fix errors in a spreadsheet. Researchers found that men were more likely to use advanced "debugging" features of the software, whereas women were more likely to edit formulas one by one. Then, they introduced a differently designed debugging tool that was specifically designed to appeal to women. Unsurprisingly, women used the debugging tool more.

Technology Review Feed - Tech Review Top Stories
Hydrogen from Algae - Anastasios Melis, a plant- and microbial-biology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, believes that genetically engineered versions of the tiny green organisms have a good shot at being a viable source for hydrogen. Melis has created mutant algae that make better use of sunlight than their natural cousins do. This could increase the hydrogen that the algae produce by a factor of three. It would also boost the algae's production of oil for biofuels.
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SPACE.com
Space Makes Bacteria More Dangerous - A germ that causes food poisoning and other illnesses can be three times more dangerous in space than on the ground, an experiment has shown. The researchers' experiment revealed that a genetic switch called "Hfq," which may control more than 160 genes in S. typhimurium, turns on in space and causes S. typhimurium to become three times more virulent than on the Earth's surface.
Hubble Telescope to Star in Warner Bros.' IMAX 3D Film - An IMAX 3D camera will be on-board the space shuttle when it launches its final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope in 2008. The large-format film will use the footage taken by the STS-125 crew to share the "life story" of the orbiting observatory.
'Space Mail' Experiment Fails to Deliver Goods - In an experiment combining elements of a package delivery service, the sport of kite surfing and a REALLY big fishing reel, Russian and European engineers on Tuesday sought to pioneer a technology that could be used in the future to retrieve cargo from space. The experiment involving a 19-mile, super-strength tether hit a glitch, however, when the line failed to unwind fully, but Russian Mission Control said it hopes to salvage the test by recalculating the landing capsule's orbit. (see also: Dropping a line from space

Physics Org
Giant ocean-based pipes could curb global warming: scientists - Two of Britain's best known scientists proposed Wednesday to curb global warming by sowing the world's oceans with thousands, perhaps millions, of giant vertical pipes 100-to-200 meters deep. Free-floating or tethered pipes with one-way flaps some 10 metres in diameter, they conjecture, would increase the mixing of nutrient-rich waters below the surface with the warmer -- and relatively barren -- waters at the ocean's surface. (see also: Giant Ocean Tubes Proposed as Global Warming Fix)
Research team says extraterrestrial impact to blame for Ice Age extinctions - What caused the extinction of mammoths and the decline of Stone Age people about 13,000 years ago remains hotly debated. A team of international researchers, including two Northern Arizona University geologists, reports evidence that a comet or low-density object barreling toward Earth exploded in the upper atmosphere and triggered a devastating swath of destruction that wiped out most of the large animals, their habitat and humans of that period.

news@nature
Birds may 'see' magnetic north - Previous work has suggested that the Earth's magnetic field might act on the sensitivity of a migratory bird's eye, so that sight might be involved in finding magnetic north. Now researchers have firmed that up with evidence that molecules in the eyes of migratory birds are connected to the part of the brain that guides their direction of flight.
Tiny RNAs, big problems - Researchers have implicated a tiny RNA molecule in the invasive spread of breast cancer — the factor responsible for most deaths from the disease. If the molecule can be confirmed as a key player in cancer migration, and targeted by drugs, the find may lead to a new preventative measure against the deadly spreading of tumours.

ABC News: Technology & Science
Do You Stare at Hotties? Blame Science - The fixation on a beautiful face happens so quickly that it's involuntary, meaning the poor bloke who's about to get clobbered by his wife for checking out another woman, or vice versa, had no control over that initial impulse to stare at someone else. But, that excuse expires very quickly, say, in about 100 milliseconds. After that, consciousness should take over. So, this research isn't going to get anybody off the hook.

Reuters: Science
Scientists get DNA from moldy old mammoth hair - Scientists who pulled DNA from the hair shafts of 13 Siberian woolly mammoths said on Thursday it may be possible to mine museums for genetic information about ancient and even extinct species. They were able to sequence a DNA sample taken from mammoth hair that had been "in somebody's drawer for 200 years," and one that was at least 50,000 years old, the international team of researchers said.

BBC News | Technology | World Edition
Town tries out Cybercar concept - A driverless car which is controlled by computer and uses lasers to avoid obstacles is being demonstrated in a Northamptonshire town. Cybercars are designed for short trips at low speed in an urban environment and need only a very light track to operate.
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suggested by [livejournal.com profile] ancalagon_tb
Neutrons not so neutral after all, study says - Among atomic particles, the neutron seems the most aptly named: Unlike the positively charged proton or the negatively charged electron, neutrons have a charge of zero. But new experiments conducted in three particle accelerators suggest the neutron is more like an onion when it comes to electromagnetism: with a negatively charged exterior and interior and a positively charged middle sandwiched between them.

Physics Org
Scientists model a cornucopia of Earth-sized planets - Sara Seager, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.; Marc Kuchner, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.; Catherine Hier-Majumder, Carnegie Institution of Washington, (deceased); and Burkhard Militzer, Carnegie, have created models for 14 different types of solid planets that might exist in our galaxy. The 14 types have various compositions, and the team calculated how large each planet would be for a given mass. Some are pure water ice, carbon, iron, silicate, carbon monoxide, and silicon carbide; others are mixtures of these various compounds.
'Historic' deal reached on cutting ozone threats - Nearly 200 countries have agreed to accelerate the elimination of chemicals that threaten the ozone and exacerbate global warming, the United Nations Environmental Program announced Saturday. Under the deal reached at the UN-sponsored conference, developed countries will phase out the production of HCFCs by 2020 and developing states have until 2030 -- 10 years earlier than previously promised.
Printing with enzymes instead of ink - Scientists in North Carolina are reporting development and testing of a method for printing finely-detailed microscopic images with an enzyme, rather than ink. The new technology, termed biocatalytic microcontact printing, involves coating a nano-“stamp” with an enzyme — a protein that speeds up chemical reactions. The enzyme then digests away a layer on the surface, leaving behind an imprint almost like an old-fashioned rubber stamp. Because no diffusion of ink is involved in the process, the resolution of microcontact printed images is about one hundredfold greater than possible with conventional technology.
Researchers say lack of sleep doubles risk of death... but so can too much sleep - Researchers from the University of Warwick, and University College London, have found that lack of sleep can more than double the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. However they have also found that point comes when too much sleep can also more than double the risk of death.

ABC News: Technology & Science
Farmers Take Another Look at Wind Energy - Squeezed by high energy prices and more overhead costs, some small farms are exploring ways to increase their energy efficiency and lower costs. By erecting wind turbines, making biodiesel fuel and adopting more efficient tilling practices, farmers have cut costs and reduced their environmental impact.

National Geographic News
Russia's Arctic Claim Backed By Rocks, Officials Say - Rock samples retrieved last month from beneath the Arctic Ocean indicate that the North Pole is part of Mother Russia, the Russian government announced yesterday. Under international law, Russia could lay claim to the potentially oil-rich seabed under the Arctic ice if it can prove that the ridge is part of the country's continental shelf.
Jurassic Park" Raptors Had Feathers, Fossil Suggests - Bumps on the forearm bone of a velociraptor fossil suggest the predators were adorned with fluffy feathers, a new study says.

Science Blog
If you want more babies, find a man with a deep voice - Men who have lower-pitched voices have more children than do men with high-pitched voices, researchers have found. And their study suggests that for reproductive-minded women, mate selection favours men with low-pitched voices.

Slashdot
Mysterious Peruvian Meteor Disease Solved - Technician writes "The meteor that crashed in Peru caused a mystery illnesses. The cause of the illness has been found. The meteor was not toxic. The ground water it contacted contains arsenic. The resulting steam cloud is what caused the mystery illness. "
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SPACE.com
Space Based Solar Power Fuels Vision of Global Energy Security - The deployment of space platforms that capture sunlight for beaming down electrical power to Earth is under review by the Pentagon, as a way to offer global energy and security benefits – including the prospect of short-circuiting future resource wars between increasingly energy-starved nations.

news@nature
Opiates for the masses - During the next few weeks farmers in one of the world's poorest countries will begin sowing seeds for what is expected to become the biggest and most lucrative opium crop yet. Field upon field of beautiful blooms belie a dark legacy that wends a destructive path from the growing fields of Afghanistan to individuals in cities thousands of miles away. With the population so financially dependent on the crop, international bodies are increasingly looking at alternatives to eradication to address the illicit drugs trade problem, including introducing a legal, licensing scheme. On 12 September, the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs issued a report calling for its council to put a proposal to the Afghan government for turning part of the poppy crop into legal analgesics, such as morphine and codeine.

The Globe and Mail - Technology News
U.S. Patriot Act poisoning the groves of academe - A controversial U.S. law designed to fight terrorism has reached into the halls of Canadian academia, with universities finding ways to keep electronic data about their students out of American hands. Some provinces have passed legislation designed to protect private information from sweeping powers outlined in the U.S. Patriot Act, which compels American companies to turn over virtually any information that the U.S. government requests.

washingtonpost.com - Technology
Searching Passengers' Faces For Subtle Cues to Terror - Looking for signs of "stress, fear and deception" among the hundreds of passengers shuffling past him at Orlando International Airport one day last month, security screener Edgar Medina immediately focused on four casually dressed men trying to catch a flight to Minneapolis. After obtaining the passengers' ID cards and boarding passes, the Transportation Security Administration officer quickly determined the men were illegal immigrants traveling with fake Florida driver's licenses.

New Scientist Tech - Technology
Tripedal robot swings itself into action - A three-legged robot with an unconventional and graceful walk has been developed by US researchers. Like humans, it exploits gravity to save energy with each step, but it also flips its entire body upside-down with each stride.

Physics Org
Natural gas inhabited by unusual specialists - A German-American research team of biologists and geochemists has discovered hitherto unknown anaerobic bacteria in marine sediments which need only propane or butane for growth, as reported by the scientific journal Nature in its current online issue.
Childhood vaccination may protect adult eyes - Childhood vaccination for the rubella virus may have also almost entirely eliminated an inflammatory eye disease from the U.S.-born population, according to a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

ABC News: Technology & Science
Earth-Imaging Satellite Travels to Space - A rocket carrying a next-generation Earth-imaging satellite blasted off Tuesday on a mission that promises to zoom in on objects as small as 18 inches across.
Become a Vegan, Save the Environment? - Eating less meat could help slow global warming by reducing the number of livestock and thereby decreasing the amount of methane flatulence from the animals, scientists said on Thursday.
Cabbies: GPS Could Reveal 'Trade Secrets' - A group of cabbies sued city regulators Wednesday in an attempt to block a new requirement that all taxis be outfitted with global positioning systems and software that will record where they drive. n the lawsuit, the drivers argue that the city overstepped its authority and acted unconstitutionally when it mandated the GPS units. Their lawsuit also makes an unusual claim that the GPS devices will give away trade secrets by disclosing the cabbies' driving patterns.
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SPACE.com
Peru Links Illness to Supposed Meteorite - A supposed meteorite that crashed in southern Peru over the weekend has caused hundreds of people to suffer headaches, nausea and respiratory problems, a health official said Tuesday. But meteor expert Ursula Marvin, cast doubt on that theory, saying, "It wouldn't be the meteorite itself, but the dust it raises."

Technology Review Feed - Tech Review Top Stories
Solar-Powered Laser - A new kind of efficient, solar-powered laser has been developed by researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in Japan. They hope to use the laser to help them realize their goal of developing a magnesium combustion engine. The idea, says Takashi Yabe, a professor of mechanical engineering and science at the Tokyo Institute, is to make a powerful laser capable of combusting the magnesium content of seawater. In the process, large amounts of heat and hydrogen are given off.

New Scientist Tech - Technology
'Pulp-based computing' makes normal paper smart - Boxes that sense the weight of their contents and books that talk back when pages are turned could be developed using technology being tested by researchers at MIT in the US. They are making paper with wires, sensors, and computer chips embedded, a technology dubbed 'Pulp-based' computing.

The Globe and Mail - Science News
Men may have personal stem-cell trove - It is an idea that may make many men cross their legs. But researchers in the United States say stem cells harvested from a man's testicles could one day be used to repair his damaged heart, kidneys or even his brain. The scientists have found a way to easily identify stem cells in the testicles of adult mice, and to coax them to become brain cells, muscle cells, heart cells, blood cells and even blood vessels. The next step is to see if they can do the same thing in humans.

BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition
Northwest Passage opens - The most direct shipping route from Europe to Asia is fully clear of ice for the first time since records began, the European Space Agency (Esa) says.

Physics Org
Artists 'draw on air' to create 3D illustrations - By putting on a virtual reality mask, holding a stylus in one hand and a tracking device in the other, an artist can draw 3D objects in the air with unprecedented precision. This new system is called “Drawing on Air,” and researchers have designed the interface to be intuitive and provide the necessary control for artists to illustrate complicated artistic, scientific, and medical subjects.
Can't Take My Eyes Off You: New Study Shows The Power Of Attraction - Whether we are seeking a mate or sizing up a potential rival, good-looking people capture our attention nearly instantaneously and render us temporarily helpless to turn our eyes away from them, according to a new Florida State University study.
Chronic fatigue syndrome linked to stomach virus - Chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as ME (myalgic encephalitis), is linked to a stomach virus, suggests research published ahead of print in Journal of Clinical Pathology.
Micro-dust could tame hurricanes: study - Seeding a hurricane with microscopic dust could sharply reduce its force, according to a study which calculated that the technique might have spared New Orleans from the devastating power of Katrina in 2005.

Slashdot
NASA Building Massively Heat-Resistant Chips - Silicon Carbide (SiC) chips can operate in 600 degrees Celsius or 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit where conventional silicon-based electronics -- limited to about 350 C -- would fail.In the past, integrated circuit chips could not withstand more than a few hours of high temperatures before degrading or failing. This chip exceeded 1,700 hours of continuous operation at 500 degrees Celsius - a breakthrough that represents a 100-fold increase in what has previously been achieved, NASA said.
dracodraconis: (Default)
Air pollution causes bigger, more destructive hail - Air pollution hugely increases the size of hail, and thus the amount of damage it can cause to crops and property, according to a study presented Wednesday at the European Conference on Severe Storms.
A glass of wine can help find new mineral deposits - The key to finding new mineral deposits in Australia could be to start looking with a glass of wine or a soft drink. In a fascinating piece of spare-time research, CSIRO Exploration & Mining scientist Dr Ryan Noble has found that chemical ingredients in these drinks, including weak organic acids, have the ability to dissolve weakly-bound metals into solution.
Security, life threatened by space junk, weapons: report - Human security and technologies from cell phones to weather forecasts are more at risk than ever from anti-satellite weapons and space junk, said a Space Security Index research report released Friday.
Nanomaterials with a Bright Future - A new fabrication technique, known as soft interference lithography (SIL), makes it possible to inexpensively produce large sheets of gold films with virtually infinite arrays of perforations and microscale "patches" of nanoscale holes. A combination of interference lithography and soft lithography, SIL offers many significant advantages over existing techniques. It can be used to scale-up the nanomanufacturing process to produce plasmonic metamaterials and devices in large quantities. Devices such as films of nanoholes can also serve as templates to make their inverse structures, such as nanoparticles. (Legend: Si=silicon; Cr=chromium; PEEL=electron spectroscopy method called parallel electron energy loss spectroscopy.)
Nanotech could make solar energy as easy and cheap as growing grass - Scientists are working to produce cheap, sustainable solar energy by imitating nature. Nanotechnology researchers like California Institute of Technology professor Nate Lewis are exploring nanoscale materials that mimic the architecture of grass and photosynthesis to capture and store the sun’s energy.
Nanoscale computer memory retrieves data 1,000 times faster - Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania have developed nanowires capable of storing computer data for 100,000 years and retrieving that data a thousand times faster than existing portable memory devices such as Flash memory and micro-drives, all using less power and space than current memory technologies.
Working hard or hardly working? Researcher studies effects of job simplification on employee productivity - Outsourcing. Offshoring. Compartmentalizing. More than corporate buzzwords, these trends are redefining the nature of work for millions of Americans, as well as their counterparts all over the world. But what are the ramifications of these trends for the people who actually do the work? Titled “Integrating Motivational, Social, and Contextual Work Design Features: A Meta-Analytic Summary and Theoretical Extension of the Work Design Literature,” the study indicates that various efforts to increase efficiency by simplifying workers’ job responsibilities may in fact be leading to lower employee job satisfaction and productivity over time.
Leaderless movement proves illusive - Ask the FBI, and they will contend that a dangerous wave of “ecoterrorism” has swept North America in the past decade. Ski resorts, new condominium developments and corporate logging headquarters have all been the target of arson attacks, pushing the damage tally of a shadowy organization called the Earth Liberation Front past the $100 million mark. The FBI’s concern has reached such a fervor, in fact, that it labeled environmental terrorism as the number one domestic terrorism threat in 2005.
Backpack straps harvest energy to power electronics - All that rubbing of your backpack straps on your shoulders may be put to good use, now that researchers have designed a novel type of energy harvesting backpack. The pack has straps made of a piezoelectric material that can convert the mechanical strain on the straps into electrical energy that may power or recharge portable electronics.
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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.

Slashdot
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.

January 2010

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