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Strange 'Norway spiral' was an out-of-control missile - space - 10 December 2009 - New Scientist

The Russian Ministry of Defense has confirmed that this photo was of a failed Russian submarine-launched Bulava missile. The missile was supposed to be able to evade missile-defense systems, but 6 of the last 11 launches have failed, representing a significant setback to the program. The image is believed to be a result of a damaged nozzle on the missile's third stage, well above the atmosphere. As a result the missile spiraled out of control, creating the vortex.

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Video: Airborne laser test | The Daily Planet

Boeing has released videos of tests using the Advanced Tactical Laser, mounted on an airborne C-130H Hercules transport, to burn a hole in the hood of a truck. Embedding the video doesn't work so you'll have to visit the site.
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Radio-controlled bullets leave no place to hide - tech - 04 June 2009 - New Scientist

The US military is developing 25-mm explosive rounds that can detonate a predetermined distance from the target. The gun uses a laser range finder to determine the distance to the target, and the shooter can add or subtract up to 3 metres from the target distance. The bullet contains a magnetic transducer that generates an alternating current as it flies through the earth's magnetic field, allowing it to calculate the number of rotations it has made and, but extension, the distance it has travelled. They hope to field-test prototypes by 2012.
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Wireless Tasers extend the long arm of the law - tech - 11 March 2009 - New Scientist

The tiny dart shown here being fired from the gun is part of the Taser XREP system which involves a charged dart rather than wires leading back to the gun. As a result, the dart can be shot from a distance of 20 metres, increasing the range of this type of weapon.

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Truck-mounted laser shoots down spy drone - tech - 27 January 2009 - New Scientist

The US military has demonstrated a truck-mounted laser system, the Laser Avenger, that is capable of taking down a small UAV, such as is becoming commonly used for surveillance.

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Concept: Nokia Handgun Cellphone Is Ultimate Redneck Convergence Device

The handgun-cellphone combo. Not to be confused with the cellphone gun, which is a gun disguised as a cellphone. The image shown here is a concept and was apparently generated using Photoshop, but it's only  a matter of time before someone builds the real thing.

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US police could get 'pain beam' weapons - tech - 24 December 2008 - New Scientist

The National Institute of Justice is developing two non-lethal weapons based on the Pentagon's Active Denial System (ADS). One weapon uses a narrow beam of short microwaves that heat the skin to generate a "repel response" . The second one, based on the system shown here, uses laser light to dazzle the suspect, in combination with the short microwave emitter. Known as the Incapacitor, the weapon shown here uses an array of LEDs that are bright enough to dazzle, but pulse in a pattern designed to induce disorientation, dizziness, and vertigo in 2/3 of the people this weapon was tested against. The weapon was demonstrated to have a range of 500+ yards.

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Airborne Laser lets rip on first target - tech - 15 December 2008 - New Scientist

An aircraft-mounted laser was test-fired, albeit from a stationary plane. The ABL is the result of a 12-year, $4.3 billion(US) project to put a high-energy weapon in the sky. In theory, a megawatt laser should be capable to causing the pressurized parts of a missile to warp, resulting in it's disintegration.
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A US company claims that its Palm Pistol, a 9-mm specifically designed for people with conditions like arthritis that have trouble firing a standard handgun, has been granted FDA approval as a Class I medical device. The FDA hasn't issued a statement about it, just admitted that there has been discussion about it. The documentation that has been seen seems to indicate that the facility, not the gun, has been successfully registered with the FDA.

Scientists has discovered a gene variant that seems to correlate with whether or not a person responds will to placebo treatment for fear of public humiliation. The gene is involved in serotonin production so it is believed that those who have the gene variant are less affected by "fear" tests so respond better to the placebo treatment. Further studies are required to determine if the gene is generally linked to good response to placebo treatment or whether this is only specific to this disorder.

An Israeli medical researcher has solved the problem of how to use a laser to seal wounds. The trick is to monitor the temperature of the wound to ensure that it stays between 60 and 70 degrees Celsius. A "solder" of water-soluble protein is applied as the laser is moved over the wound. The result heals faster, has less inflammation, and has less risk of infection that traditional sutures.

A Vancouver company has developed a wind turbine that could generate up to 50% more power than current designs. The trick is using an electronic transmission that lets it continue to operate at high efficiency even when they blades are moving slowly, such as under low-wind conditions. it also makes the system more responsive to gusts so it can maintain high efficiency even under chaotic wind conditions.

An accident by a graduate student attempting to make a solar cell has yielded a high-conductivity photodetector that might one day lead to cheaper cameras with higher optical resolution and lower sensor noise.
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Nova Scotia Mounties find Jesus - a metre-high concrete statue of him, to be specific.

Designer RNA to control cholesterol levels - In pre-clinical trials, levels of "bad" cholesterol were reduced by up to 2/3  in mice after being injected with siRNA. A single dose was effective for several weeks.

Thinking better for complex decisions -  a recent study indicated that snap judgements and "sleeping on it" were not as effective in solving complex problems as conscious thought.

Flexible nanoantenna arrays gather heat energy - US researchers have developed a method for producing gold nanoantenna arrays on a flexible polyethylene substrate that converts 80% of mid-infrared rays into energy.  Mid-range infrared energy is emitted continuously by the Earth in response to absorbing solar energy, as well as by any radiant surface. The challenge now is how to convert the energy produced by the arrays into electricity because they generate AC currents that oscillate trillions of times each second, far beyond the capabilities of current systems to rectify.

Aerial laser gives US "plausible deniability" - The 5.5 tonne Advanced Tactical Laser system currently being tested is expected to be capable of destroying targets at a range of up to 20 km without leaving a trace to indicate who caused the destruction. This has lead various military officials to cite plausible deniability as one benefit of the weapon.

Dark matter key to FTL travel - at least according to two physicists at Baylor university. They determined that, in theory, the Alcubierre drive could be realized by manipulating dark matter. The result would be a distortion of the fabric of space-time within which the ship would be locally moving slowly but globally exceeding the speed of light.
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Another slew of tech-based images and others from the news. As usual, click on the image to visit the link
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ABC News: Technology

Married, Successful and Happy to Be Child-Free - The Jacksons are part of a growing trend — married couples who are choosing to remain childless. According to a recent Pew Research Center Survey, the findings are due in large part to the fact that fewer people, across all age groups, consider children to be an important part of a successful marriage.

Oscar the Cat Predicts Patients' Deaths - Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live.

BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition

US Army eyes laser on a truck - The US Army is developing a truck-mounted laser weapon to destroy rockets, artillery shells and mortars. The solid state laser weapon would eventually be mounted on a 10-tonne, eight-wheel-drive tactical truck.
May looks to sky to complete PhD - Guitarist Brian May is to spend two days studying the night sky in the Canary Islands as he completes the PhD he abandoned in 1971 to join Queen.
Goats make nerve gas antidote - Scientists have genetically modified goats to make a drug in their milk that protects against deadly nerve agents such as sarin and VX.

Reuters: Science

Researchers reverse cocaine effects in mice: study - Researchers working with laboratory mice have found a way to reverse the effects of cocaine on the brain, according to a study published on Thursday that could lead to better treatments for drug addicts.
Tiny brain no obstacle to French civil servant - A man with an unusually tiny brain managed to live an entirely normal life despite his condition, caused by a fluid buildup in his skull, French researchers reported on Thursday. Scans of the 44-year-old man's brain showed that a huge fluid-filled chamber called a ventricle took up most of the room in his skull, leaving little more than a thin sheet of actual brain tissue.

Science Blog -

Circumcision May Not Impact Sexual Sensation - According to a new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, sexual sensation in circumcised and uncircumcised men may not be so different after all. The research, performed in the Department of Psychology of McGill University in Montreal, consisted of genital sensory testing conducted on circumcised and uncircumcised men during states of sexual arousal and non-arousal. Results showed that no difference between the two groups was found in sensitivity to touch or pain.
Faster-acting antidepressants closer to becoming a reality - A new study has revealed more about how the medication ketamine, when used experimentally for depression, relieves symptoms of the disorder in hours instead of the weeks or months it takes for current antidepressants to work. While ketamine itself probably won’t come into use as an antidepressant because of its side effects, the new finding moves scientists considerably closer to understanding how to develop faster-acting antidepressant medications – among the priorities of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health.
Exercise, exercise, rest, repeat -- How a break can help your workout - Taking a break in the middle of your workout may metabolize more fat than exercising without stopping, according to a recent study in Japan. Researchers conducted the first known study to compare these two exercise methods—exercising continually in one long bout versus breaking up the same workout with a rest period. The findings could change the way we approach exercise. Who wouldn’t want to take a breather for that?
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Physics Org
Throttling Back to the Moon - Accelerating from 0 to 60 then slowing down for a stop light is no problem for an ordinary automobile. But if you were piloting a rocketship, it wouldn't be so easy. Most rocket engines are designed to burn full-on (liftoff!) or full-off (coasting through space) with no in-between. And that can be a problem--namely, how do you land this thing?
Coming Soon, Safer Cigarettes? - The federal agency charged with keeping food and drugs from harming people may soon be asked to take a consumer product that kills more than 400,000 people a year and make it safer.
Case closed: MIT gumshoes solve 'throbbing' oil mystery - Hey kids! Try this at home. Pour clean water onto a small plate. Wait for all the ripples to stop. Then mix a small amount of mineral oil with an even smaller amount of detergent. Squeeze a tiny drop of that mixture onto the water and watch in amazement as the oil appears to pump like a beating heart.
Flavonoids in orange juice make it a healthy drink, despite the sugar - Orange juice, despite its high caloric load of sugars, appears to be a healthy food for diabetics due to its mother lode of flavonoids, a study by endocrinologists at the University at Buffalo has shown. The study appeared in the June 2007 issue of Diabetes Care.

Slimming Down Future Spacesuits - Skintight spacesuits may give future astronauts a more flexible - not to mention stylish - way to explore the moon and Mars. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are edging closer to a spaceworthy astronaut garment that replaces the bulky traits of current, gas-pressurized versions with flexibility and mobility. Dubbed BioSuit, the spacesuit design relies on mechanical counter pressure rather than the stiff pressurized vessels employed by astronauts in space today.

ABC News: Technology
Iran's New Game: `Rescue Nuke Scientist' - An Iranian hard-line student group unveiled a new video game Monday that simulates an attempt to rescue two Iranian nuclear experts kidnapped by the U.S. military and held in Iraq and Israel.

Reuters: Science
Weight training can help with heart trouble: AHA - While conventional wisdom once held that people with heart disease should not pump iron, a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association says some resistance training can be good for them.

BBC News | Science/Nature | World Edition
Energy use 'drove human walking' - Humans evolved to walk upright because it uses less energy than travelling on all fours, according to researchers.
Milestone for unique bionic hand - A highly functional bionic hand which was invented by a Scottish NHS worker has gone on the market.

New Scientist Tech - Weapons Technology
Taser unveils long-range and 'scatter' weapons -Two new electric stun weapons unveiled this week suggest that their use may shift from law enforcement to the battlefield. Some critics, however, worry that this could lead to such weapons being used more indiscriminately. US company Taser International demonstrated a shotgun-fired projectile capable of stunning a target and a weapon capable of firing six individual shock darts at a time at an event held in Chicago, US, on Monday.
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Technology Review Feed - Biotech Top Stories
Mapping Complex Diseases - Researchers at Columbia University have mapped the overlap between 161 different diseases by studying epidemiological data from 1.5 million patients. Among their findings is a strong overlap between schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism, suggesting that these three diseases may be caused by a shared group of genes. The researchers hope others will use their map to further investigate the genetic bases of the diseases they studied--genetics that in most cases are poorly understood.

National Geographic News
Photo in the News: Rare "Octosquid" Captured in Hawaii - It looks like a gourmet's dream—part octopus, part calamari. But scientists can't seem to get their arms around this ocean-going oddity, which has been dubbed "octosquid." When the animal was sucked up from 3,000-foot (914-meter) depths by a deep-sea pipeline Tuesday at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority in Kailua-Kona (NELHA), scientists were initially stumped. The foot-long octosquid had the body of a squid but eight tentacles like an octopus—and it lacked the long, flowing tentacles reminiscent of squid.

ABC News: Technology
Roswell: Alien Spacecraft or Top Secret Spy Project? - In July 1947, something remarkable happened outside Roswell, N.M., something that literally put the town on the map. The debris is long gone, but the reverberations have never stopped. Was it an alien spaceship that crashed, killing its otherworldly occupants? Or just a weather balloon? It depends on whom you ask or what you read, and whether you believe them.

Physics Org
Probing Question: Why are some deaf people able to play instruments? - Applause exploded in Vienna's Karntnertortheater on May 7, 1824, following the premiere performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Yet the master composer himself, by then almost completely deaf, didn't know his work was well received until he turned to see the audience. Nearly two centuries later, a hearing-impaired British solo percussionist and composer named Evelyn Glennie performs intricate, arresting rhythms on a myriad of instruments. How can Beethoven and Glennie, among the few accomplished deaf musicians, make music they cannot hear?
AMA Won't Call Video Gaming an Addiction - The American Medical Association on Wednesday backed off calling excessive video-game playing a formal psychiatric addiction, saying instead that more research is needed. A report prepared for the AMA's annual policy meeting had sought to strongly encourage that video-game addiction be included in a widely used diagnostic manual of psychiatric illnesses. AMA delegates instead adopted a watered-down measure declaring that while overuse of video games and online games can be a problem for children and adults, calling it a formal addiction would be premature.
Bar workers suffer from customer smoking - Health officials in Oregon say people absorb notable levels of the carcinogen NNK after spending just a few hours in a smoky bar or tavern.
Jumping robots take clues from nature - A group of mechanical engineers from the University of Bath has a peculiar interest in flying squirrels, fleas, and grasshoppers. Inspired by animals considered to be excellent jumpers, the researchers have designed two jumping robots, one of which demonstrated some of the highest jumps for an autonomously powered robot so far engineered.
Restaurants Test Table Card Readers - It's become routine for customers to swipe their credit or debit cards at consoles in fast-food joints, gas stations and grocery stores. So why do we still hand over the plastic at sit-down restaurants?
Biomedical engineers use electric pulses to destroy cancer cells - Electroporation is a phenomenon known for decades that increases the permeability of a cell from none to a reversible opening to an irreversible opening. With the latter, the cell will die. What Davalos and Rubinsky did was apply this irreversible concept to the targeting of cancer cells.

XREP Combines Shotgun with Taser - Tasers and shotguns are pretty scary on their own, but the folks at TASER International have decided to combine the two and create the XREP (eXtended Range Electronic Projectile), a 12-gauge shotgun that'll have you twitching on the floor in no time flat.
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From PopSci.com
INVENTION AWARDS Six Strokes of Genius - After a lifetime of making racecars go faster, Bruce Crower's new engine uses steam to squeeze more mileage from gas
INVENTION AWARDS A Shocking New Weapon - A muscle-numbing magic wand protects cops and citizens, Jedi-style
INVENTION AWARDS A Chopper Shield - Firing massive Kevlar and steel nets at inbound rocket-propelled grenades could save helicopters in combat
INVENTION AWARDS The New Velcro - A stronger, better grip without the incessant ripping sound. Has a long-standing dream finally been realized?
INVENTION AWARDS A Big Ball of Connectivity - An antenna that blows up like a balloon brings satellite communications anywhere, anytime
INVENTION AWARDS A New Breed of Mouse - Give your mouse the finger to control your computer in three dimensions
INVENTION AWARDS The Flying Belt - Rappel up a wall at an astonishing 10 feet per second with the Atlas Powered Rope Ascender
FROM THE ARCHIVE Amazing Motor-Drive Hoop May be Car of the Future - Circular logic was the wave of the future three quarters of a century ago
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I'm grinding out papers so I have no been in the mood to write summaries of tech stuff. I expect this to continue for a month or so because I'm currently in thesis-writing mode with hopes of finishing the draft before the end of July.

Meanwhile, I'm simply posting the links of things that caught my attention. There's quite a backlog, but I'll keep the list down to no more than 10 per post.

From Rick Mercer's blog
Canada a creditor by 2010? - Canada could be become a creditor nation for the first time in its history by the end of the decade.
Free speech goes up in smoke at Saskatchewan school - Saskatchewan student's marijuana research spurs lockdown and suspension
India rattled by vibrating condom - A vibrating condom has sparked a fierce debate in India, over whether it is a sex toy - which are banned - or a means of birth control.
Quebec to collect nation's 1st carbon tax - Quebec will implement Canada's first carbon tax in October, collecting just under one cent a litre from petroleum companies in the province, which will raise about $200 million a year to pay for energy-saving initiatives such as improvements to public transit.
Students invent powdered booze - Dutch students have invented powdered alcohol which they say can be sold legally to minors. The latest innovation in inebriation, called Booz2Go, is available in 20-gram packets that cost €1-1.5 ($1.35-$2).

From New Scientist
New 'space jet' proposed for suborbital jaunts - The European firm EADS Astrium plans to build a rocket-powered jet to take tourists to the edge of space – if funded, it could begin flights in 2012
Uncrewed space plane passes first key test - An Italian prototype for a future space plane performed nearly flawlessly in a drop test designed to simulate the stress of atmospheric re-entry

From New Scientist
US military wants $10m space-weapon funding - Defences could be "greatly enhanced" with space-based interceptors, say military officials, but critics worry about triggering an arms race in space
US satellite to test missile defence technologies - A military satellite called NFIRE will study rocket plumes, which could help future interceptors home in on enemy missiles – but critics say it could lead to space weapons
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Source: New Scientist
It is a little-known fact that GPS does not work under water. A newly-patented system uses a tethered base station with a known GPS location that responds to a special sonar pulse. Triangulation of the return times from several base stations gives an approximation of the submarine's GPS coordinates.

Source: New Scientist
Military scientists have developed a new type of torpedo that explodes without explosives. Normally the heat from the engine is dissipated, but in proposed design the heat is used to turn aluminum metal into molten metal. The impact ruptures the titanium shell and releases the molten metal into the water where a thermal explosion takes place as the water instantly turns to steam and expands. As the metal cools it becomes shrapnel that does further damage to the target.

Source: Sunday Telegraph
Ok, it's one thing to disagree with scientists who don't hold the same view, but threatening them. This is precisely what is happening to some climate scientists who do not support the theory of global warming. A University of Winnipeg climatologist has received five death threats as a result of his stand on global warming. Now, I disagree with his, and other climatologists statements that global warming is a fraud, but they should be able to voice their opinion without fear for their lives. Different opinions, even those radically opposed to each other, are the cornerstone of healthy science. If they are wrong, then the facts will eventually favour those who are correct.

Source: PhysOrg
MobileSign.org is a video dictionary of 5,000 words in British Sign Language, designed to be accessible via cell phone. The free service is designed to help parents of deaf children by allowing them to look up the sign for a word. The service can be found at www.mobilesign.org for those of you who might benefit.

Source: Scientific American
A recent study has discovered that signals indicating the body's fat level can become suppressed. As a result, it ceases to adjust appetite and activity level to compensate for growing fat stores. It is hoped that future research will yield a way to re-sensitize the brain to the level of fat stored by the body as a way to combat obesity. In particular, people, most often those who consume a high-fat diet, can develop a desensitivity to leptin, a hormone that indicates the level of fat in their body. Obese people have high leptin levels, but it is theorized that their brains no longer adjust appetite in response to leptin levels. This may provide a way to treat obesity by resensitizing the brain to leptin.
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Source: PhysOrg
They say sex sells... but only if what you're selling is sex. A recent study showed that viewers have a harder time remembering products advertised during programs with a great deal of sexual content than they do remembering products advertised during similar programs with no sexual content. On the other hand, men tended to be better at recalling products if the advertisement contained sexual images. Sexual images in advertisements tended to cause women to make a negative association with the product. The moral: make the programs nonsexual and the adverts sexy if you want to sell man stuff.

Source: DailyTech
You're never too old to learn something new. Consider the retirement home in Chicago that has been taken over by Wii-madness. “I've never been into video games, but this is addictive," says one 72 year old resident. Not only is it increasing the activity level of the retirement home residence, grandkids visit often to help grandma and grandpa learn how to play some of the games, making this a highly social activity. Looks like a win-win situation to me.

Source: DailyTech
Continuing with their plans for developing a range of nonlethal methods for crowd control, the US military is exploring the use of "...a 7.3 million candela strobe floodlight system to incapacitate crowds of people." They hope to demonstrate the product some time next year. So now you have a choice, fry or be blinded. Or stay home.

Source: New Scientist
Japanese scientists are exploring the idea of using live bacteria loaded with artificial DNA as a from of data storage. Although the details are sketchy at this point, you would store data in the system by modifying the artificial DNA chains. They anticipate that the data would then be safe for up to 1-million years as it is passed down through generations. To demonstrate this, they encoded the message "E=mc^2 1905" into artificial DNA and inserted it into a colony of bacteria. They encoded the data in four different sequences to provide redundancy against mutations. Could bring a whole new meaning to the term "computer virus".... Honey! My memory stick's coughing up green phlegm again.

Source: PhysOrg
A group of researchers are beginning a project to convert videos of lip motion into text. They want to explore the feasibility of computerized lip reading for crimefighting.

January 2010

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