Thursday, March 25, 2010

BC Prof Suggests Young Children Need Less Formal Math, Not More

Posted by timothy on Thursday March 25, @03:37PM
from the all-in-favor-say-pi dept.
DesScorp writes"Professor Peter Gray, a developmental psychologist and researcher at Boston College, recounts an experiment done in New Hampshire schools in 1929, where math was completely taken out of the curriculum of the poorest schools from the area until the sixth grade. The results were surprising; with just one year of math under their belts, the poor students did as well or better than students from better schools by the end of the sixth grade year, despite the fact that the better schools had math in their curriculum all throughout elementary school. Professor Gray thinks children are not mentally wired for the kind of formal math instruction that is taught in schools, and that we'd be better served by putting off the teaching of theory until the seventh grade. He scoffs at the notion that if children are failing with current levels of math instructions then we should double down and make them do more math in school."

Netflix Streaming Arrives For the Wii

Posted by Soulskill on Thursday March 25, @03:59PM
from the hopping-on-the-bandwagon dept.
Grant,thompson writes"As announced in January and mentioned here on Slashdot, Netflix is sending out discs today to enable streaming on the Nintendo Wii. 'Netflix has sent out emails to customers who pre-ordered the Wii's instant streaming disc, indicating that the disc will arrive in mailboxes tomorrow, and that the service will likely start within the next day.'"

Facebook Leads To Increase In STDs in Britain

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday March 25, @12:12PM
from the friends-and-really-good-friends dept.
ectotherm writes"According to Professor Peter Kelly, a director of Public Health in Great Britain: 'There has been a four-fold increase in the number of syphilis cases detected, with more young women being affected.' Why the increase? People meeting up for casual sex through Facebook. According to the article 'Social networking sites are making it easier for people to meet up for casual sex. There is a rise in syphilis because people are having more sexual partners than 20 years ago and often do not use condoms.'

US Not Training Enough Cyber Security Experts

Posted by CmdrTaco on Thursday March 25, @12:01PM
from the just-pay-them-more dept.
graychase writes"Homeland Security's cybersecurity director, Richard Marshall, warns that universities aren't turning out enough cybersecurity experts and urges greater scholarship funding. "Look at all the great football and basketball programs. They're all on scholarships. They're not playing for fun — they're playing for money,""

Anesthesia Increases Risk of Developing Alzheimer's Disease in Patients With Genetic Predisposition, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily (Mar. 25, 2010) — A new study confirms that anesthesia is safe for normal mice but potentially harmful for mice with genetic risk factors for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Over several months, investigations have focused on analyzing the effects of the anesthesia in normal mice and in mice with mutations that produce AD.

Iron Alloy Could Create Earthquake-Proof Buildings

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday March 25, @01:37AM
from the shake-all-you-want dept.
separsons writes"Researchers at Japan's Tohoku University designed a new shape memory metal alloy. The super elastic iron alloy can endure serious stretching and still return to its original shape. The scientists say that once optimized, the material could be used in everything from braces to medical stents to earthquake-proof buildings!"

First Anti-Cancer Nanoparticle Trial on Humans a Success

Posted by samzenpus on Wednesday March 24, @08:16PM
from the smallest-medicine dept.
An anonymous reader writes"Nanoparticles have been able to disable cancerous cells in living human bodies for the first time. The results are perfect so far, killing tumors with no side effects whatsoever. Mark Davis,project leader at CalTech, says that 'it sneaks in, evades the immune system, delivers the siRNA, and the disassembled components exit out.' Truly amazing."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The $8500 Gaming Table You Want

Posted by CmdrTaco on Wednesday March 24, @10:18AM
from the i'm-gonna-need-a-raise dept.
Recently I stumbled upon The Sultan Gaming Table. With a price tag of over $8k, it would have to be awesome: but it has little compartments for the players and DM as well as a drop down playing surface. If you find the pricetag daunting then you are a sane person, and might instead want to look at the Emissary which starts at a "mere" $1500 and has many of the same features. Honestly I just love the idea of having my minis on a playing surface underneath the dinner table. I ought to be allowed to expense one of these. I also wish they had more pictures and fewer renderings on the site.

Mini Generators Make Energy from Random Ambient Vibrations

ScienceDaily (Mar. 24, 2010) — Tiny generators developed at the University of Michigan could produce enough electricity from random, ambient vibrations to power a wristwatch, pacemaker or wireless sensor.

Probing the Secrets of Sharp Memory in Old Age

ScienceDaily (Mar. 24, 2010) — A study of the brains of people who stayed mentally sharp into their 80s and beyond challenges the notion that brain changes linked to mental decline and Alzheimer's disease are a normal, inevitable part of aging.

Dell looking outside of China for 'safer environments,' according to Indian PM

By Vladislav Savov posted Mar 24th 2010 5:56AM

The Hindustan Times cover this morning has a generous space dedicated to Google's exit out of China and related efforts at redirecting mainland users to its Hong Kong hub, but couched cosily inside that story is perhaps an even bigger one. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is quoted as saying that Dell is considering taking its $25 billion's worth of business elsewhere, possibly India:
"This morning I met the chairman of Dell Corporation. He informed me that they are buying equipment and parts worth $25 billion from China. They would like to shift to safer environment with climate conducive to enterprise with security of legal system."
Michael Dell's outfit already has one manufacturing plant in India, and the man himself has been on a charm offensive in the country this week meeting and greeting local officials. It could well be, however, that Dell is just seeking to play China and India off one another to get itself the most favorable manufacturing deal, but it's still interesting to find such a high profile protestation against the supposedly enterprise-choking climate and uncertain legal system in China. It appears that Google's wrangle with the Middle Kingdom's leadership has forced consumer electronics execs to reevaluate their strong reliance on China, and the (very) long-term effects could indeed be a shifting, or at least diversification, of manufacturing away from Yao's homeland.

New Spintronics Material Could Help Usher in Next Generation of Microelectronics

ScienceDaily (Mar. 24, 2010) — As the electronics industry works toward developing smaller and more compact devices, the need to create new types of scaled-down semiconductors that are more efficient and use less power has become essential.

Another Perk of Painkillers? Decreased Hormone Levels May Reduce Cancer Risk

ScienceDaily (Mar. 24, 2010) — Postmenopausal women who regularly use aspirin and other analgesics (known as painkillers) have lower estrogen levels, which could contribute to a decreased risk of breast or ovarian cancer.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Biggest Cloud Providers Are Botnets

Posted by CmdrTaco on Tuesday March 23, @09:35AM
from the resistance-is-futile dept.
Julie188 writes"Google is made up of 500,000 systems, 1 million CPUs and 1,500 gigabits per second (Gbps) of bandwidth, according to cloud service provider Neustar. Amazon comes in second with 160,000 systems, 320,000 CPUs and 400 Gbps of bandwidth, while Rackspace offers 65,000 systems, 130,000 CPUs and 300 Gbps. But these clouds are dwarfed by the likes ofthe really big cloud services, otherwise known as botnets. Conficker controls 6.4 million computer systems in 230 countries, with more than 18 million CPUs and 28 terabits per second of bandwidth."

Research Lets You Type Words By Thought Alone

Posted by StoneLion on Tuesday March 23, @12:15PM
from the put-on-your-thinking-cap dept.
An anonymous reader writes"How about typing on a computer just by thinking about it? The downside is you have to wear a skull cap with electrodes that capture your brain waves like an EEG machine. According to this EE Times story a team of researchers from Belgium and the Netherlands has presented Mind Speller, a thought-to-text device intended to help people with movement disabilities. The system does rely on a lot of processing on a remote computer but it is a wireless system. And these thought-to-computer systems have wider applicability than medical support. One of the research groups involved in this development has already looked at wireless electroencephalography (EEG) to enable measures of emotion to be fed back into computer games."

Toshiba and Bill Gates-backed TerraPower discussing small-scale nuclear reactors

By Vladislav Savov posted Mar 23rd 2010 5:18AM

It would seem that Toshiba hasn't given up on its dream of producing a nuclear reactor for the home, and its latest potential partner counts quite the big name among its backers. Run by a former Microsoft exec and partially funded by Bill Gates himself, TerraPower is said to have opened preliminary discussions with Toshiba regarding a possible joint venture between the two companies. The aim is, predictably, to make safer, smaller, more socially acceptable, and just plain better reactors. TerraPower boasts its tech can run without refueling for up to 60 years on depleted uranium and Bill Gates has gotten enthusiastic enough about the whole thing to give a 30-minute talk on the matter. Click past the break for the video.

First Flight For SpaceShip Two

Posted by timothy on Monday March 22, @11:55PM
from the next-time-do-it-from-l.a. dept.
mknewman writes"Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane took to the air for the first time this [Monday] morning from California's Mojave Air and Space Port. The craft, which has been christened the VSS Enterprise, remained firmly attached to its WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane throughout the nearly three-hour test flight. It will take many months of further tests before SpaceShipTwo actually goes into outer space. Nevertheless, today's outing marks an important milestone along a path that could take paying passengers to the final frontier as early as 2011 or 2012."

Nanowire Advances Promise Improved Light-Emitting Diodes and Solar-Energy Generation

ScienceDaily (Mar. 23, 2010) — A recent advance by Arizona State University researchers in developing nanowires could lead to more efficient photovoltaic cells for generating energy from sunlight, and to better light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that could replace less energy-efficient incandescent light bulbs.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Food Activist's Life Becomes The Life of Brian

Posted by samzenpus on Monday March 22, @03:34PM
from the you-are-all-individuals dept.
krou writes"After food activist and author Raj Patel appeared on The Colbert Report to promote his latest book, things seemed to be going well, until he began to get inundated with emails asking if he was 'the world teacher.' In events ripped straight from The Life of Brian, it would seem that Raj Patel's life story ticks all the boxes necessary to fulfill prophecies made by Benjamin Creme, founder of religious sect Share International. After the volume of emails and inquiries got worse, Patel eventually wrote a message on his website stating categorically that he was not the Messiah. Sure enough, 'his denial merely fanned the flames for some believers. In a twist ripped straight from the script of the comedy classic, they said that this disavowal, too, had been prophesied.'"

Are Green Consumers More Likely to Lie and Cheat?

by JOSH LOPOSER (Subscribe to Josh Loposer's posts)

Is a person like this more likely to cut in front of you at the checkout line? Credit: Kathy Doucett, Flickr

Attention shoppers: The content of your bags may not reflect the content of your character.

While I'd like to say that earth-conscious shoppers are always honest, conscientious and charitable, a new study conducted by University of Toronto researchers Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong seems to suggest that just because you buy "fair trade," it doesn't mean you're likely to play fair or seek a fair deal.

In fact, the research appears to indicate that those who practice seemingly righteous shopping habits may be hiding a wickedly self-righteous streak. Say it ain't so!

The study (which has set off a chorus of 'I told you so's from those who've had their fill of smug Prius bumper stickers) was largely based on a series of online shopping experiments that showed green shoppers to be stingy, selfish and more likely to steal than their conventional counterparts.

According to the journal "Psychological Science," these experiments centered around two fictitious and extremely similar online stores, one with nine green products and three conventional ones, the other with nine conventional products and three green ones.

In one experiment, subjects were first assigned to shop either the green online store or the conventional one. Then, they were asked to participate in an "unrelated" money-sharing exercise (no real money was exchanged in the experiments, btw) with a random and unidentified individual in another room.

Now, which group was the least likely to anonymously share with an anonymous stranger? The answer: The group of subjects who'd just purchased green products shared significantly less than the ones who'd shopped at the conventional store.

In another even more surprising experiment, subjects were sent to one of the online stores, just like before. Then, they were asked to participate in an exercise where they could earn $2.07 by identifying which side of their computer screen contained more dots. In each exercise, it was plainly obvious which side had more dots (15 vs. 5, 14 vs. 6, etc.).

Though the experiment advised them that accuracy was important for future research, participants quickly learned that they're earnings would go up whether they chose correctly or not. At the end, they were instructed to take money from an envelope based on their corresponding score, giving them not only the opportunity to make money for incorrect answers, but also to take a little extra on top of that.

Guess what? The subjects who first shopped at the green store were more likely to be inaccurate in the dot game AND steal more money ($0.46) than they were instructed to by the computer. For shame!

Why the difference in behavior? The leading theories have to do with what is called "moral licensing." In a nutshell, it's the idea that making pro-social and ethical choices often allows people to feel justified in other self-indulgent and unethical behaviors ... because of their "moral credentials." For example, consider Al Gore's mega-mansion.

It all kinda reminds me a little of those fake "At Least He Drive a Prius" ads from a few years ago.

Scientists "Print" Human Vein With 3D Printer

Posted by CmdrTaco on Monday March 22, @12:19PM
from the because-we-can dept.
An anonymous reader writes"3D Printing technology has recently leapt into a new realm — we've seen printers that can create entire buildings out of stone, delicious meals out of simple ingredients, and now — perhaps weirdest and coolest of them all — a printer that can build body parts from cells!"

Mafia Boss Betrayed By Facebook

Posted by CmdrTaco on Monday March 22, @10:50AM
from the hate-when-that-happens dept.
An anonymous reader writes"One of Italy's 100 most-wanted criminals, a vicious mafia boss who had been on the run for months, was betrayed by his passion for social networking and flushed out thanks to Facebook. Using the name 'Scarface' from the gangster movie starring Al Pacino, Pasquale Manfredi, 33, a boss of the the ferocious 'Ndrangheta mafia organization from the Calabria region in southern Italy, had logged on to his Facebook account so often that police were able to trace the signal from his Internet key and find his hideout'. Seems the Mafia Wars Facebook phenomenon goes deeper than it seemed!"

Supermassive Black Holes: Hinting at the Nature of Dark Matter?

ScienceDaily (Mar. 22, 2010) — About 23 percent of the universe is made up of mysterious 'dark matter' -- invisible material only detected through its gravitational influence on its surroundings. Now two astronomers based at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) have found a hint of the way it behaves near black holes.

'Flying Vaccinator': Can Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Provide a New Strategy Against Malaria?

ScienceDaily (Mar. 19, 2010) — Mosquitoes transmit infectious diseases to millions of people every year, including malaria for which there is no effective vaccine. New research published in Insect Molecular Biology reveals that mosquito genetic engineering may turn the transmitter into a natural 'flying vaccinator', providing a new strategy for biological control over the disease.