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." Uses Google Moderator System

Posted by CmdrTaco on Thursday December 11, @12:28PM

from the they-should-call-it-pigg dept.
DemocratsGoogleUnited StatesPolitics
GMonkeyLouie writes"The website for President-elect Obama's transition team,, has unveiled a section called Open for Questions, which lets users submit questions and vote them up or down, in an effort to let the collaborative mind produce the questions that are the most important to the American populace (or at least the web-savvy portion). The page is powered by Google Moderator. It was unveiled yesterday, and CNet reports that when they went to post last night, '159,890 had voted on 1,986 questions from 3,255 people.'"

Which OS Performs Best With SSDs?

Posted by CmdrTaco on Thursday December 11, @11:46AM

from the io-io-it's-off-to-work-we-go dept.
Data Storage
Lucas123 writes"Linux, Vista and Mac OS perform differently with solid state disk. While all of them work well with SSDs as they write data more efficiently or run fewer applications in the background than XP, surprisingly Windows 2000 appears to be the winner when it comes to performance with SSD. However, no OS has as yet been optimized to work with SSDs, a lost opportunity that Microsoft plans to address with Windows 7 and that Apple is likely to soon upgrade its platform for as well."

Wind, Water And Sun Beat Biofuels, Nuclear And Coal For Clean Energy

ScienceDaily (Dec. 11, 2008) — The best ways to improve energy security, mitigate global warming and reduce the number of deaths caused by air pollution are blowing in the wind and rippling in the water, not growing on prairies or glowing inside nuclear power plants, says Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford.

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Maintaining Brain's Wiring In Aging And Disease

ScienceDaily (Dec. 11, 2008) — Researchers at the Babraham Institute near Cambridge, supported by the Alzheimer's Research Trust and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), have discovered that the brain's circuitry survives longer than previously thought in diseases of ageing such as Alzheimer's disease.

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Methane, Potent Greenhouse Gas, Flowing Into The Atmosphere From Tundra Much Faster Than Expected

ScienceDaily (Dec. 11, 2008) — Much more methane gas is being emitted into the atmosphere from the tundra in northeast Greenland than previous studies have shown. New figures reveal that large amounts of greenhouse gases are being emitted into the atmosphere, not just during the warm summer months, but also during the colder autumn months.

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Inventor Builds Robot Wife


Posted by samzenpus on Thursday December 11, @02:37AM
from the you-lonely-lonely-man dept.
Inventor Le Trung must really like the book, "The Stepford Wives," because he has built the dream of every lonely man without hope, a robot wife. Le's wife, Aiko, starts the day by reading him the newspaper headlines and they go for a drives in the countryside. Le says his relationship with Aiko hasn't strayed into the bedroom, but a few tweaks could turn her into a sexual partner, even redesigning her to have a simulated orgasm. *Shudder*

SpaceX Successfully Tested Draco Thruster

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday December 11, @04:52AM

from the to-infinity-and-beyond dept.
dj writes"The propulsion division of SpaceX has performed another important test. After the test of the Falcon 9's first stage Merlin engines, the smallest engine of the SpaceX family, Draco, has been put to test. During the test, the thruster fired for ten minutes, paused for ten minutes, and then was restarted for an additional minute. The test was performed on a new vacuum test stand built by SpaceX, and put into operation in March 2008 at the SpaceX Test Facility outside McGregor, Texas."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Nobel Prize Winning Physicist As Energy Secretary

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday December 11, @06:57AM

from the the-man-for-the-job dept.
United States
bledri writes"Officials close to the Obama transition team say that Physics Nobel Laureate Steven Chu is the likely candidate for Energy Secretary . Some are worried that Chu is not politically savvy enough, but I'm hopeful that a scientist will base policy on evidence. Discuss among yourselves."

Ants Used For Mind-controlled Robotic Limbs

Posted by CmdrTaco on Wednesday December 10, @10:45AM

from the i-can't-feel-my-arms dept.
mr sanjeev writes"Australian researchers are reducing the divide between science fiction and science reality by bringing the development of mind-controlled robotic limbsa few steps closer. Even the most fertile science fiction imagination might not see a link between the behavior of ant colonies and the development of lifelike robotic limbs, but that is the straightforward mathematical reality of research underway at the University of Technology, Sydney. The technology mimics the myoelectric signals used by the central nervous system (CNS) to control muscle activity. Artificial intelligence researchers have long used the complex interactions between ants to construct a pattern recognition formula to identify bioelectric signals. PhD student Rami Khushaba said 'swarm-intelligence' allows scientists to understand the body's electrical signals and use the knowledge to create a robotic prosthetic device that can be operated by human thought."

Could Ecoflation Take a Bite Out of Your Paycheck?

Container ship pulling into the Port of Oakland
We've all heard of inflation and deflation. Some of us know about and kind of understand stagflation. Now economists have come up with a whole new 'flation' to terrorize your pocketbook: ecoflation. Simply put, it's the rising cost of doing business at a time when earth's climate controls are on the blink. According to some, businesses that don't work to make their practices more sustainable and climate conscious may see their profitability erode quickly in the next5-10 years.

If you're wondering just exactly what kinds of costs will go up as climate change occurs, the answer appears to be primarily -- taxes. As countries pass new emissions control legislation, it's expected that companies in pretty much every large economy will be forced to pay a premium for the emissions they create. 

That means that many of the companies that shipped off all of their manufacturing facilities to other countries in order to take advantage of extremely cheap labor -- those guys would be paying through the nose. Some companies are already working on how to keep their margins in tact should a carbon tax be passed by cutting their reliance on big carbon no-nos like oil-based plastics. 

The big question is, could the same companies really be profitable if they had to pay US workers at a bunch of regional factories? Cutting down the distances a product is shipped is eco-friendly, but is it really profit-friendly? Do we really want to pay the noticeably higher prices that will result?

So, if at first 'ecoflation' sounded like an ecological result of too much consumption -- that's really only accounts for a small part of the bump in expenses. A more organic type of ecoflation could be observed last year when oil prices spiked, seeming to indicate that demand had outpaced humanity's ability to pump the stuff. The world would then collapse into chaos, cannibalism, dog and cats living together, just as Ted Turner predicted.

Black Hole At Center of Milky Way Confirmed

Posted by CmdrTaco on Wednesday December 10, @09:00AM

from the i-can-see-it-from-here dept.
Smivs writes"The BBC are reporting that a German team has confirmed the existence of a Black Hole at the center of the Milky Way. Astronomers tracked the movement of 28 stars circling the center of the Milky Way, using the 3.5m New Technology Telescope and the 8.2m Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. Both are operated by the European Southern Observatory (Eso). The black hole is four million times heavier than our Sun, according to the paper in The Astrophysical Journal. According to Dr Robert Massey, of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), the results suggest that galaxies form around giant black holes in the way that a pearl forms around grit."

FCC Commissioner Lauds DRM, ISP Filtering

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday December 09, @09:10PM

from the by-some-definition-of-"effective" dept.
GovernmentUnited States
snydeq writes"Ars Technica's Nate Anderson and InfoWorld's Paul Venezia provide worthwhile commentary on a recent speech by FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate (PDF), in which she praised DRM as 'very effective' and raised a flag in favor of ISP filtering. Anderson: 'Having commissioners who feel that the government has a duty to partner with and back educational classroom content from the RIAA; who really believe that ISP filtering is so unproblematic we can stop considering objections; and who think that universities worry about file-swapping because tuition might be raised to pay for the needed "expansion of storage capabilities" (huh?) isn't good for the FCC and isn't good for America.' Venezia: 'Leave the ISPs out of it — it's not their job to protect a failing business model, and a movement toward a tiered and filtered Internet will do nothing to stem the tide of piracy, but will result in great restrictions on innovation, freedoms, and the general use of the Internet. There's nothing to be gained down that path other than possibly to expand the wallets of a few companies.'"

Herbal Supplements - The Next 'Made in China' Scandal?

herbal supplementsSurprise, surprise, people are not so keen on buying products made in China, according to a recent Reuters article. 

From formula to milk, pet food to pharmaceuticals, and the ever-scary question of melamine-tainted wheat gluten going into animal feed all around the world, people aren't feeling so trustworthy when they see that Made In China label. According to experts interviewed, even though Beijing does take action after each event, the overall lax regulations and size of the country make it almost certain that more of these events will keep occurring. It's not so easy just to boycott Chinese goods, according to Matthew Crabbe of Access Asia and moving production to other "low-cost" countries probably wouldn't solve the problem anyway. 

Feeling that it's only a matter of time until the next scandal hits, Crabbe's venturing to guess that the next industry to have a problem will be the supplements industry. "Next would probably be the fake pharmaceuticals industry, the herbal pills sector. God knows what goes into those things, and what regulation there is, if any, of that industry," said Crabbe.

Considering that the U.S. itself doesn't even regulate supplements as drugs, that could be a scary thought indeed.

Thinking Like A President: How Power Affects Complex Decision Making

ScienceDaily (Dec. 10, 2008) — Presidential scholars have written volumes trying to understand the presidential mind. How can anyone juggle so many complicated decisions? Do those seeking office have a unique approach to decision making? Studies have suggested that power changes not only a person’s responsibilities, but also the way they think.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Future of Space Elevator Looks Shaky

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday December 09, @01:43PM

from the a.-c.-clarke-quaking-in-his-grave dept.
lurking_giant writes"In a report on, researchers working on development of a space elevator (an idea we have discussed numerous times) have determined that the concept is not stable. Coriolis force on the moving climbers would cause side loading that would make stability extremely difficult, while solar wind would cause shifting loads on the geostationary midpoint. All of this would likely make it necessary to add thrusters, which would consume fuel and negate the benefits of the concept. Alternatively, careful choreography of multiple loads might ease the instability, again with unknown but negative economic impacts."

Mediterranean Diet Plus Nuts May Be Helpful In Managing Metabolic Syndrome

ScienceDaily (Dec. 9, 2008) — A traditional Mediterranean diet with an additional daily serving of mixed nuts appears to be useful for managing some metabolic abnormalities in older adults at high risk for heart disease, according to a new report.

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Economic Slump Hits the Recycling Market

man recycles cardboard in chinaFor a while there, recycling was bringing in some big money. But with the economy slowing down, the demand for scrap metal, cardoboard and plastic is falling much shorter than the supply, bringing down prices and profits.

As recently as September, scrap metal was going for over $500 a gross ton -- now you're lucky to get $100 for the same amount. Same thing with cardboard, which was selling for as much as $135 a ton. It's down to $35! That's when recycling centers can find a buyer at all.

The lack of buyers, some recycling centers have halted collections, and are asking people to store recyclables at home, at least until the market picks up. 

While it may take a year or so for that to happen, Trey Granger, from Earth911 is optimistic that the public's interest in recycling won't fade away, reminding people that the recycling industry is cyclical, but has been growing for 30 years. 

Just like with investing, it's important keep a long view on recycling. It may be easier right now to throw away that can or bottle, but consider the long terms costs. 

When you're shopping, think about how much waste you're going to generate with your purchases. The bigger jug of detergent might be heavy to carry from the car to the house, but it takes up a lot less space than three "smaller" bottles when it's time to recycle them...or to store them in the basement with your newspapers and cans until the recycling trucks make pick ups again!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Obama Wants Broadband, Computers Part of Stimulus

Posted by CmdrTaco on Monday December 08, @11:43AM

from the that-would-stimulate-me dept.
damn_registrars writes"President-elect Barack Obama announced in his radio address that his administration's economic stimulus package will include investing in computers and broadband for education. "To help our children compete in a 21st century economy, we need to send them to 21st century schools" He also said it is "unacceptable" that the US ranks 15th in broadband adoption."No doubt with free spyware and internet filtering. You know... for the kids.

Advanced CT Scans Valuable To Check For Clogged Arteries

ScienceDaily (Dec. 8, 2008) — In a development that researchers say is likely to quell concerns about the value of costly computed tomography (CT) scans to diagnose coronary artery blockages, an international team led by researchers at Johns Hopkins reports solid evidence that the newer, more powerful 64-CT scans can easily and correctly identify people with major blood vessel disease and is nearly as accurate as invasive coronary angiography.

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This Is the Way the World Ends

Posted by kdawson on Monday December 08, @04:44AM

from the several-bangs-several-whimpers dept.
Dave Knott writes"The CBC's weekly science radio show Quirks and Quarks this week features a countdown of the top ten planetary doomsday scenarios. Nine science professors and one science fiction author are asked to give (mostly) realistic hypotheses of the ways in which the planet Earth and its inhabitants can be destroyed. These possibilities for mankind's extinction include super-volcanoes, massive gamma ray bursts, and everybody's favorite, the killer asteroid. Perhaps the most terrifying prediction is the reversal of the Earth's magnetic field (combined with untimely solar activity), a periodic event which is currently 1/4 million years overdue."