Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Inside the Active Volcano On Montserrat

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday December 23, @01:27AM

from the magma-sponge dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes"An international team of researchers has begun collecting imaging data on the Soufriere Hills Volcano in Montserrat, which has been erupting regularly since 1995. They're using the equivalent of a CAT scan to understand its internal structure and how and when it erupts. The experiment is dubbed SEA-CALIPSO and 'will use air guns and a string of sensors off the back of a research ship combined with sensors on land to try to image the magma chamber.' Early results are surprising. Quoting one of the leading scientists: 'The interesting thing is that much more magma is erupting than appears represented by the subsiding bowl. ... The magma volume in Montserrat eruptions is much larger than anyone would estimate from the surface deformation, because of the elastic storage of magma in what is effectively a huge magma sponge.'"

Not All Cores Are Created Equal

Posted by kdawson on Monday December 22, @08:56PM

from the working-out-the-kinks dept.
joabj writes"Virginia Tech researchers have found that the performance of programs running on multicore processors can vary from server to server, and even from core to core. Factors such as which core handles interrupts, or which cache holds the needed data can change from run to run. Such resources tend to be allocated arbitrarily now. As a result, program execution times can vary up to 10 percent. The good news is that the VT researchers are working on a library that will recognize inefficient behavior and rearrange things in a more timely fashion."Here is the paper, Asymmetric Interactions in Symmetric Multicore Systems: Analysis, Enhancements and Evaluation (PDF).

Monday, December 22, 2008

Medication For Depression Can Also Fight Cancer Drug Resistance

ScienceDaily (Dec. 22, 2008) — Prozac is regularly prescribed to ease the emotional pain of patients who are being treated for cancer. But can this common anti-depressant help to fight cancer itself?

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The Slow Bruteforce Botnet(s) May Be Learning

Posted by kdawson on Sunday December 21, @10:30PM

from the knock-who's-there-knock dept.
badger.foo writes"We've seen stories about the slow bruteforcers — we've discussed it here — and based on the data, my colleague Egil Möller was the first to suggest that since we know the attempts are coordinated, it is not too far-fetched to assume that the controlling system measures the rates of success for each of the chosen targets and allocates resources accordingly. (The probes of my systems have slowed in the last month.) If Egil's assumption is right, we are seeing the bad guys adapting. And they're avoiding OpenBSD machines."For fans of raw data, here are all the log entries (3MB) that badger.foo has collected since noticing the slow bruteforce attacks.

Abu Dhabi Competes with Tower of Pisa, Star Wars

In case you thought that Versace's refrigerated beach was the apex of gauche and unrepentant luxury, let me remind you about the other Disney Land qualities Abu Dhabi is developing. 

Enter the Death Star an office and residential building planned for Abu Dhabi's planned island, Waterfront City. You remember that, right? The island that Abu Dhabi is building by dumping sand into the ocean and will eventually protect an already existing place, Palm Island? Yes, well, this will be the centerpiece for that city. Can you say 'Darth Vader'? How about 'Superpower'?

If that doesn't make you think of world domination, consider the new Leaning Tower of Pisa. It's no longer in Italy, but rather in Abu Dhabi. The Capital Gate will be complete by the end of 2009. It will lean 18 degrees to the west, that's four times more than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The building is dug 30 meters into the earth for stability. A luxury hotel and office suites will reside within the 35-story building. 

My question is when will France send a statue and Egypt a pyramid?

The Earth in a Pot of Slowly Heating Water

In this week's issue of the New Yorker there's a cartoon titled, "The All-Crisis Network." 6 am - 9 am is The World in Crisis; 9 am - 11 am America in Crisis; 5 pm - 6 pm The Environment in Crisis; 6 pm - 7 pm Religion in Crisis...

I'm beginning to feel like readers of this blog may be purveyors of doom. If so, I've got more bad news for you. Yippee!

Scientists are about to hang out at the American Geophysical Unionand they'll be talking about methane hydrates. These are icelike deposits of methane gas buried under permafrost under the sea floor. As the oceans warm, that permafrost melts. Scientists worry--and scientists aren't given to needless worrying, I'm told-- that these deposits could melt soon and release a massive cloud of methane gas. 

That would heat the Earth with a jolt. As the first methane hydrates released their gases, eerily bubbling up through the ocean's surface, the atmosphere would begin to heat up, further heating the ocean and in turn melting more frozen methane hydrates. 

Methane is a more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and scientists believe it played a role in the sudden climate shifts in the Earth's history. This scenario prompts me to think of a rather smelly pot of boiling water and in it the Earth quietly spins going from green and blue, to brown, to black. 

[via Salon.com]

Christmas in Yellowstone

The PBS film, Christmas in Yellowstone, explores wintertime in the the 2.2 million acres of unspoiled wilderness of the Great American West. Narrated by Linda Hunt and directed by Shane Moore, this film features Yellowstone's inhabitants including foxes, wolves, elk, buffalo and a grizzly bear hibernating in her den.This is a beautiful piece and a must-see for nature lovers. Check your local listing for air times or order a copy.

The short clip below shows a fox hunting for rodents that he can hear but not see below the snow. The accompanying music is perfectly timed to his leaps and dives.

Octopuses Have No Personalities and Enjoy HDTV

Posted by kdawson on Sunday December 21, @06:08PM

from the or-was-that-redundant dept.
Whiteox writes about an Australian researcher named Renata Pronk, who has discovered that octopuses prefer HDTV. She recruited 32 gloomy octopuses from the waters of Chowder Bay. Previously, researchers have reported little success when showing video to octopuses. Miss Pronk's insight was that the octopus eye is so refined that it might see standard PAL video, at 25 fps, as a series of stills. She tried HDTV (50 fps) and her subjects reacted to the videos of a crab, another octopus, or a swinging bottle on the end of a string. A further discovery is that octopuses show no trait of individual personalities, even though they exhibit a high level of intelligence. It would certainly be possible to quibble about the definition of "personality" employed, and whether Miss Pronk had successfully measured it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Researchers Create Graphite Memory 10 Atoms Thick

Posted by timothy on Thursday December 18, @06:54PM

from the comes-with-convenient-pink-rectangular-prism dept.
Data StorageUpgradesTechnology
CWmike writes"Researchers at Rice University have demonstrated a new data storage medium made out of a layer of graphite only 10 atoms thick. The technology could potentially provide many times the capacity of current flash memory and withstand temperatures of 200 degrees Celsius and radiation that would make solid-state disk memory disintegrate. 'Though we grow it from the vapor phase, this material [graphene] is just like graphite in a pencil. You slide these right off the end of your pencil onto paper. If you were to place Scotch tape over it and pull up, you can sometimes pull up as small as one sheet of graphene. It is a little under 1 nanometer thick,' Professor James Tour said."

RIAA finds its soul, will stop suing individuals downloading music

by Thomas Ricker, posted Dec 19th 2008 at 6:16AM

When you retard fair use with pointless DRM and then sue anonymous children for illegally downloading music while ignoring those of the execs at the top of the music industry, well, you're asking for a public relations nightmare. Now, with more than 35,000 lawsuits to its credit, the RIAA says it will finally end the legal assault against consumers that began back in 2003. The Recording Industry Association of America will instead, focus its anti-piracy efforts with ISPs. Under the new plan, the RIAA will contact ISPs when illegal uploading is detected. The ISP will then contact the customer with a notice that would ultimately be followed by a reduction or cessation of service. As you'd expect, the RIAA is not commenting on which ISPs they are in cahoots with. The RIAA also says that it won't require ISPs to reveal the identities of individuals but could, of course, go after individuals who are heavy uploaders or repeat offenders. For the moment though, it appears that single-mothers are in the clear.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Starting High School One Hour Later May Reduce Teen Traffic Accidents

ScienceDaily (Dec. 17, 2008) — A new study shows that after a one-hour delay of school start times, teens increased their average nightly hours of sleep and decreased their "catch-up sleep" on the weekends, and they were involved in fewer auto accidents.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Filling In The Gaps: Personality Types Lead People To Choose Certain Brands

ScienceDaily (Dec. 16, 2008) — Why do Gap brand jeans appeal to people who seek intimacy in relationships? It may be a result of their upbringing. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, people's relationship styles can affect their brand choices.

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Bill Clinton, T. Boone Pickens Launch Energy Efficiency Campaigns

Former US president Bill ClintonIs it a sign of the times? Instead of talking up expensive new renewable energy projects, it seems that a few of the leading voices in the renewable energy movement have shifted the attentions to more recession-friendly projects. Perhaps meaning to coincide with the President Elect's upcoming energy program, both Bill Clinton and T. Boone Pickens announced plans to start improving energy efficiency in buildings.

On Saturday, Clinton announced that the Clinton Global Initiative and his home state of Arkansas will be teaming up to retrofit state building. Details on what exactly CGI planned to retrofit were somewhat hazy, but that's probably because they don't really know yet. One of the 7 initiatives highlighted by the foundation was to reduce energy use, and therefore greenhouse emissions in partner cities, now they have an entire state -- with all of its buildings and infrastructure -- as Arkansas is the first state to sign on. 

Then, on Monday, the Pickens organization rolled out a new plank in the Pickens Plan manifesto, for the first time highlighting energy efficiency in buildings as a part of his overall energy independence scheme. The Pickens Plan has partnered up with giant building materials manufacturer Owens Corning to advance building more efficient structures. According to Owens Corning CEO Mike Thaman:
 "Buildings consume 40 percent of our nation's energy. That's more than industry or transportation. Energy efficiency in homes and buildings is critical to the achievement of true energy independence."
Not to say that it's all about the money here, but both of these foundations seem to be getting ready to cash in big on the Obama administration's new energy plan. A plan that will almost certainly award some lucrative contracts at a time when private investment capital is little tricky to get hold of. 

Al Gore Endorses 350.org

The climate talks in Poznan got mixed reviews -- for some the steps being discussed are too timid and tepid. But last Friday Al Gore gave a rousing speech declaring that new guidelines must aim to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million. 

This is an aggressive goal -- even 450 parts per million is considered a stretch -- and Big Al's endorsement delighted the folks at 350.org. As their name implies, the group believes the only way to reverse climate change is by reducing CO2 dramatically. 

350.org was the group that campaigned to get Obama to the environment talks in Poland, and they are picking up momentum as they raise awareness about reducing CO2 levels, mobilizing government support and driving local activiites.

Now that Gore has lent his support to this threshold, along with leading NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen, we can probably expect to hear more about our new atmospheric goal.

One group who won't like it? The coal industry! You can't burn coal and still reduce CO2. I guess they'll have to keep looking for the Clean Coal Unicorn.

Nanotubes Sniff Out Cancer Agents In Living Cells

ScienceDaily (Dec. 16, 2008) — MIT engineers have developed carbon nanotubes into sensors for cancer drugs and other DNA-damaging agents inside living cells.

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Wilting Flower Guilts You into Using Less Power

There's no better way to modify a behavior than to make a person feel guilty about it, right? Well, maybe not, but Carl Smith in England has designed a home gadget that's going to do it anyway -- he wants to make you feel guilty about how much electricity you're using on a daily basis.

It's a wilting flower, and I can't help but kinda like it. You connect it wirelessly to your home's electric system and then try to keep it "healthy" by not using too many electric appliances at once. When the electricity flow is low the flower stands up tall and open and glows a pretty hue of blue/green, but when levels start to rise the flower starts to wilt and changes to orange, red, and finally purple (as it's totally hung over and closed) before going out and "dying" completely.

Of course you can revive it again, if you're not too depressed.

[via DVICE]

Injectable Artificial Bone Developed

Posted by kdawson on Monday December 15, @11:50PM

from the no-op dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with the news that British scientists have invented artificial "injectable bone" that flows like toothpaste and hardens in the body. This new regenerative medicine technology provides a scaffold for the formation of blood vessels and bone tissue, then biodegrades. The injectable bone can also deliver stem cells directly to the site of bone repair, the researchers say."Not only does the technique reduce the need for dangerous surgery, it also avoids damaging neighboring areas, said [the inventor]. The technology's superiority over existing alternatives is the novel hardening process and strength of the bond... Older products heat up as they harden, killing surrounding cells, whereas 'injectable bone' hardens at body temperature — without generating heat — making a very porous, biodegradable structure."

Beacherator: Dubai to Build World's First Ever Refrigerated Beach

Dubai white sand beach with luxurious shade tentIt's no secret that oil rich Dubai has more cash than it knows what to do with, and even though oil prices have crashed over the last few months, Dubai is still moving forward with building projects that redefine the term excess. To go along with the city's giant indoor ski mountain/shopping mall, condo high rise with 57 swimming pools, Dubai has come up with yet another climate-altering project that thumbs its nose at frugality and common sense: refrigerated beaches

With summertime highs of 122°F, the sand on Dubai's beaches can get mighty hot. That's why designers of the Palazzo Versace Hotel decided to be ridiculous innovative and include a subsurface cooling system to draw the heat away from their high end guest's tender feet. The beacherator will consist of a series of heat absorbing pipes under the sand and massive blowers on the surace to keep tourists comfortable on Dubai's scoarching desert beaches. According to Palazzo Versace president, Soheil Abedian:
"We will suck the heat out of the sand to keep it cool enough to lie on. This is the kind of luxury that top people want."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sarcasm Useful For Detecting Dementia

Posted by CmdrTaco on Monday December 15, @12:28PM

from the yeah-that'll-work dept.
An anonymous reader writes"Sarcasm may be the lowest form of wit, but Australian scientists are using it to diagnose dementia, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of New South Wales, found that patients under the age of 65 suffering from frontotemporal dementia (FTD), the second most common form of dementia, cannot detect when someone is being sarcastic."

Effects Of Unconscious Exposure To Advertisements

ScienceDaily (Dec. 15, 2008) — Fads have been a staple of American pop culture for decades, from spandex in the 1980s to skinny jeans today. But while going from fad to flop may seem like the result of fickle consumers, a new study suggests that this is exactly what should be expected for a highly efficient, rationally evolved animal.

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Alzheimer's Disease Screening Breakthrough Will Help Identify Potential Treatment Drugs

ScienceDaily (Dec. 12, 2008) — CSIRO scientists have developed a new system to screen for compounds that can inhibit one of the processes that takes place during the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Certain yeast species could be used to develop this rapid screening process. Folate has been shown to be beneficial in the screening system.

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Toothbrushing Can Prevent Hospital-borne Pneumonia

ScienceDaily (Dec. 15, 2008) — Hospital-borne infections are a serious risk of a long-term hospital stay, and ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), a lung infection that develops in about 15% of all people who are ventilated, is among the most dangerous.  With weakened immune systems and a higher resistance to antibiotics, patients who rely on a mechanical ventilator can easily develop serious infections — as 26,000 Americans do every year.

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This is a pretty impressive advancement in mind-computer interfaces. Their technology can actually read and interpret the visual cortex, reconstructing what you are seeing. This would apply to actual visual images coming thorough the eye, or things you "see" in a dream.

Dream Recorder: New Technology Could Display Your Dreams on Screen:

"In a nutshell, the device converts electrical signals sent to the visual cortex into images that can be viewed on a computer screen. In their experiment, they showed test subjects the six letters in the word neuron and succeeded in reconstructing the word on screen by measuring their brain activity."


Jay Leno's Garage Is Green

Is it an environmental sin to own a fleet of vehicles and a 17,000 square foot garage if you heat, cool, light and clean it in environmentally sound ways? If you're the king of late night television and have a fascination with cars of all kinds, then this garage could not better match your social consciousness with your love of loud mechanical stuff. 

Jay Leno let the Los Angeles Times take a look around his garage, the green parts anyway. Solar panels on the roof heat and cool the building. A cleaning station uses microbial agents to remove chemicals. The water heater is 90-percent efficient.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Graphene Transistors Clocked At 26GHz

Posted by CmdrTaco on Thursday December 11, @10:17AM

from the slightly-faster-than-one dept.
KentuckyFC writes"A team at IBM has built the first high quality graphene transistors and clocked them running at 26 GHz . That doesn't quite knock silicon off its perch. The fastest silicon transistors are an order of magnitude faster than that but the record is held by indium phosphide transistors which have topped 1000 GHz. But it's not bad for a new kid on the block. It took silicon 40 years to get this far. By contrast, the first graphene transistor was built only last year. IBM says 'the work represents a significant step towards the realization of graphene-based electronics.' (Abstract)."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Creepy New Deodorant Stunts Hair Growth

Women competes in Dove's Most Beautiful Underarm ContestAt a time when many people are starting to question why they slather weird chemicals like Diisopropyl Adipate on their armpits everyday, Unilever is cooking up a new form of deodorant concoction so potent that it actually slows down hair growth. It's called Dove Hair Minimizing, and Dove claims that after four weeks of use hair will become "less noticeable" and "easier to remove." Creepy. What does that mean? Does it alter your genetic makeup? Reverse the puberty process?

Apparently, the stuff is not meant to replace shaving, only to facilitate it. Dove also claims that once you've stopped rolling or spraying on the stuff, your hair growth returns to normal. Honestly, this seems as bizarre to me as Crystal Pepsi. While many companies advertise their personal products as organic or natural, Dove unleashes this unholy goo. It seems like the trend concerning underarms has been swinging in the green direction for some time now. Natural deodorants like Tom's are easier to find than ever. Some A-Listers like Julia Roberts refuse to deodorize at all.

Also according to the Mail, studies have show that clean shaven women view their peers with the earth mama look "as unfriendly, immoral and aggressive."