Biotech

Hacking Your Body Through a Nerve In Your Neck 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.
agent elevator writes: IEEE Spectrum has a feature (part of its Hacking the Human OS issue) on the future of vagus nerve stimulation, a device-based therapy with the potential to treat a ridiculously wide variety of ailments: epilepsy, depression, stroke, tinnitus, heart failure, migraines, asthma, the list goes on. One problem is that, because it required an implant (a bit like a pacemaker), it was never anybody's first-choice therapy. But now there's a non-invasive version, a device you just hold to your neck twice a day for a few minutes. It's being trialed first for migraines and cluster headaches (which sound horrible). If it works, vagus nerve stimulation could compete directly with drug treatments on cost and convenience and it would let doctors find new ways to hack human physiology.
Transportation

Land Art Park Significantly Reduces Jet Engine Noise Near Airport 44

Posted by Soulskill
from the art-that-serves-a-purpose dept.
ClockEndGooner writes: A study conducted by the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research found that low frequency and long wavelength jet engine droning noise was significantly reduced in the fall after farmers plowed their fields near Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. The remaining furrows "had multiple ridges to absorb the sound waves, deflected the sound and muted the noise." This led to the development of the Buitenschot Land Art Park, a buffer park featuring "land art" that has significantly reduced aircraft noise without requiring cuts in the number of allowed flights in and out of the airport. The land art park has also provided neighbors with additional recreational paths and sports fields in the same space.
Robotics

Florida Hospital Shows Normal Internet Lag Time Won't Affect Remote Robotic Surgeries 114

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-complaining-about-your-ping dept.
Lucas123 writes: Remote robotic surgery performed hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the physician at the controls is possible and safe, according to the Florida Hospital that recently tested Internet lag times for the technology. Roger Smith, CTO at the Florida Hospital Nicholson Center in Celebration, Fla., said the hospital tested the lag time to a partner facility in Ft. Worth, Texas and found it ranged from 30 to 150 milliseconds, which surgeons could not detect as they moved remote robotic laparoscopic instruments. The tests, performed using a surgical simulator called a Mimic, will now be performed as if operating remotely in Denver and then Loma Linda, Calif. The Mimic Simulator system enables virtual procedures performed by a da Vinci robotic surgical system, the most common equipment in use today; it's used for hundreds of thousands of surgeries every year around the world. With a da Vinci system, surgeons today can perform operations yards away from a patient, even in separate but adjoining rooms to the OR. By stretching that distance to tens, hundreds or thousands of miles, the technology could enable patients to receive operations from top surgeons that would otherwise not be possible, including wounded soldiers near a battlefield. The Mimic Simulator was able to first artificially dial up lag times, starting with 200 milliseconds all the way up to 600 milliseconds.
Space

Crowdfunded, Solar-powered Spacecraft Goes Silent 331

Posted by Soulskill
from the have-you-tried-turning-it-off-and-then-on-again dept.
Last week saw the successful launch of the Planetary Society's LightSail spacecraft, the solar-powered satellite that runs Linux and was crowdfunded on Kickstarter. The spacecraft worked flawlessly for two days, but then fell silent, and the engineering team has been working hard on a fix ever since. They've pinpointed the problem: a software glitch. "Every 15 seconds, LightSail transmits a telemetry beacon packet. The software controlling the main system board writes corresponding information to a file called beacon.csv. If you're not familiar with CSV files, you can think of them as simplified spreadsheets—in fact, most can be opened with Microsoft Excel. As more beacons are transmitted, the file grows in size. When it reaches 32 megabytes—roughly the size of ten compressed music files—it can crash the flight system." Unfortunately, the only way to clear that CSV file is to reboot LightSail. It can be done remotely, but as anyone who deals with crashing computers understands, remote commands don't always work. The command has been sent a few dozen times already, but LightSail remains silent. The best hope may now be that the system spontaneously reboots on its own.
Earth

Ask Slashdot: What Happens If We Perfect Age Reversing? 607

Posted by samzenpus
from the mad-max-time dept.
ourlovecanlastforeve writes: With biologists getting closer and closer to reversing the aging process in human cells, the reality of greatly extended life draws closer. This brings up a very important conundrum: You can't tell people not to reproduce and you can't kill people to preserve resources and space. Even at our current growth rate there's not enough for everyone. Not enough food, not enough space, not enough medical care. If — no, when — age reversal becomes a reality, who gets to live? And if everyone gets to live, how will we provide for them?
Medicine

Live Anthrax Shipped Accidentally To S Korea and US Labs 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the bad-package dept.
New submitter hamsterz1 writes: U.S. Officials say that the military mistakenly sent live anthrax to laboratories in nine states and an air base in South Korea, after apparently failing to properly inactivate the bacteria. Four lab workers in the United States and up to 22 overseas have been given precautionary medical treatment. The CDC is investigating the incident and Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren says, "Out of an abundance of caution, [the Defence Department] has stopped the shipment of this material from its labs pending completion of the investigation."
Space

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Urges America To Challenge China To a Space Race 263

Posted by timothy
from the autocorrect-says-neil-degrease-tyson dept.
An anonymous reader writes: According to a Tuesday story in the UK edition of the International Business Times, Neil deGrasse Tyson, the celebrity astrophysicist and media personality, advocates a space race between the United States and China. The idea is that such a race would spur innovation and cause industry to grow. The Apollo race to the moon caused a similar explosive period of scientific research and engineering development. You might prefer the Sydney Morning Herald piece on which the IB Times article is based.
Space

Black Hole Plays Pool With Plasma 43

Posted by timothy
from the always-bet-on-the-black-hole dept.
the monolith writes: The Hubble Space Telescope is revealing that there is a pool game in progress, with a long shot being played out on a cosmic scale. It appears that the first recorded shot was observed in 1992, while subsequent canon shots were recorded between 1994 an 2014. In actuality, the shots are plasma, the current player is a black hole, and the playing surface is galactic space itself. The BBC has a story on the observations and interpretations, while the journal Nature has the paywalled in-depth article. The current score is unknown, and one can only hope that there were no life forms involved in the collision.
The Media

How a Scientist Fooled Millions With Bizarre Chocolate Diet Claims 248

Posted by timothy
from the tongue-in-cheek-sandwich-diet-works-too dept.
__roo writes: Did you know chocolate helps you lose weight? You can read all about this great news for chocoholics in the Daily Star, Daily Express, Irish Examiner, and TV shows in Texas and Australia, and even the front page of Bild, Europe's largest daily newspaper. The problem is that it's not true. A researcher who previously worked with Science to do a sting operation on fee-charging open access journals ran a real—but obviously flawed—study rigged to generate false positives, paid €600 to get it published in a fee-charging open access journal, set up a website for a fake institute, and issued press releases to feed the ever-hungry pool of nutrition journalists. The doctor who ran the trial had the idea to use chocolate, because it's a favorite of the "whole food" fanatics. "Bitter chocolate tastes bad, therefore it must be good for you. It's like a religion."
Science

Ways To Travel Faster Than Light Without Violating Relativity 213

Posted by samzenpus
from the greased-lightning dept.
StartsWithABang writes: It's one of the cardinal laws of physics and the underlying principle of Einstein's relativity itself: the fact that there's a universal speed limit to the motion of anything through space and time, the speed of light, or c. Light itself will always move at this speed (as well as certain other phenomena, like the force of gravity), while anything with mass — like all known particles of matter and antimatter — will always move slower than that. But if you want something to travel faster-than-light, you aren't, as you might think, relegated to the realm of science fiction. There are real, physical phenomena that do exactly this, and yet are perfectly consistent with relativity.
Medicine

Gene Testing Often Gets It Wrong 37

Posted by samzenpus
from the these-are-not-the-genes-you-are-looking-for dept.
BarbaraHudson writes: ABC is reporting that gene tests for risk of specific diseases are not as accurate as we'd like to think, with different labs giving different interpretations. Over 400 gene variants that could help one make medical decisions regarding breast and ovarian cancer or heart disease have different interpretations from different labs according to the study. "The magnitude of this problem is bigger than most people thought," said Michael Watson, executive director of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, one of the study's authors. Researchers caution consumers to be careful when choosing where to have a gene test done and acting on the results.
Science

Scientists Reverse Aging In Human Cell Lines 139

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-that-old dept.
Eloking writes: Professor Jun-Ichi Hayashi from the University of Tsukuba in Japan has discovered the regulation of two genes involved with the production of glycine are partly responsible for some of the characteristics of aging. With this finding he has been able to "flip the switches on a few genes back to their youthful position, effectively reversing the aging process." The Professor's findings cast doubt on the mitochondrial theory of aging, which proposes that the accumulation of mutations in the mitochondrial DNA are responsible for aging.
Earth

Thanks To the Montreal Protocol, We Avoided Severe Ozone Depletion 118

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-away-the-UVs dept.
hypnosec writes: Scientists say the ozone layer is in good shape thanks to the Montreal Protocol, which has helped us avoid severe ozone depletion. Research suggests that the Antarctic ozone hole would have been 40% bigger by now if not for the international treaty. "Our research confirms the importance of the Montreal Protocol and shows that we have already had real benefits. We knew that it would save us from large ozone loss 'in the future', but in fact we are already past the point when things would have become noticeably worse," lead author Professor Martyn Chipperfield, from the School of Earth & Environment at the University of Leeds, said in a press release.
Education

A Ph.D Thesis Defense Delayed By Injustice 77 Years 129

Posted by samzenpus
from the better-late-than-never dept.
Taco Cowboy writes: A story about a 102-year old lady doing her PhD thesis defense is not that common, but when the thesis defense was delayed by a whopping 77 years, that gotta raise some eyebrows. Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport studied diphtheria at the University of Hamburg in Germany and in 1938, the 25-year old Protestant-raised, German-born Ingeborg submitted for her doctorate thesis defense. She was denied her chance for her defense because her mother was of the Jewish ancestry, making her an official "cross-breed". As such the Nazi regime forbid the university from proceeding with her defense, for "racial reasons".

She became one of the thousands of scholars and researchers banished from German academe, which at the time included many of the world's most prestigious research institutions, because of Jewish ancestry or opposition to Nazi policies. Many of them ended up suffering or dying in concentration camps. Rudolf Degkwitz, Syllm's professor, was imprisoned for objecting to euthanizing children. Syllm, however, was able to reach the United States and earned her medical degree from the old Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Eventually she married a fellow physician named Samuel Mitja Rapoport, had a family, and moved back to Germany in the 1950s, where she achieved prominence in neonatology. Syllm-Rapoport, who is now 102 years old, might have remained just a doctor (if a very accomplished one) had not the present dean of the Hamburg medical school, Uwe Koch-Gromus, heard her story from a colleague of her son, Tom Rapoport, a Harvard cell biologist.

Determined to do what he could to mitigate this wrong, Koch-Gromus arranged Syllm-Rapoport's long-delayed defense. Despite failing eyesight, she brushed up on decades of developments in diphtheria research with the help of friends and the Internet. Koch-Gromus called the 45-minute oral exam given by him and two colleagues on 13 May in her Berlin living room "a very good test. Frau Rapoport has gathered notable knowledge about what's happened since then. Particularly given her age, she was brilliant."
Science

Prospects and Limits For the LHC's Capabilities To Test String Theory 147

Posted by samzenpus
from the proving-it-maybe dept.
StartsWithABang writes: The Large Hadron Collider has just been upgraded, and is now making the highest energy collisions of any human-made machine ever. But even at 13 TeV, what are the prospects for testing String Theory, considering that the string energy scale should be up at around 10^19 GeV or so? Surprisingly, there are a number of phenomenological consequences that should emerge, and looking at what we've seen so far, they may disfavor String Theory after all.
Space

SpaceX Cleared For US Military Launches 62

Posted by Soulskill
from the low-earth-orbit-needs-more-lasers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Air Force has given private rocket company SpaceX clearance to launch military satellites into orbit. This disrupts the lock that Boeing and Lockheed Martin have had on military launches for almost a decade. SpaceX will get its first opportunity to bid for such launches in June, when the Air Force posts a contract to launch GPS satellites.
Mars

How To Die On Mars 276

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-your-coffin-to-mars dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Many space-related projects are currently focusing on Mars. SpaceX wants to build a colony there, NASA is looking into base design, and Mars One is supposedly picking astronauts for a mission. Because of this, we've been reading a lot about how we could live on Mars. An article at Popular Science reminds us of all the easy ways to die there. "Barring any complications with the spacecraft's hardware or any unintended run-ins with space debris, there's still a big killer lurking out in space that can't be easily avoided: radiation. ... [And] with so little atmosphere surrounding Mars, gently landing a large amount of weight on the planet will be tough. Heavy objects will pick up too much speed during the descent, making for one deep impact. ... Mars One's plan is to grow crops indoors under artificial lighting. According to the project's website, 80 square meters of space will be dedicated to plant growth within the habitat; the vegetation will be sustained using suspected water in Mars' soil, as well as carbon dioxide produced by the initial four-member crew. However, analysis conducted by MIT researchers last year (PDF) shows that those numbers just don't add up."
Google

Creationists Manipulating Search Results 441

Posted by Soulskill
from the pi-is-exactly-3 dept.
reallocate writes: It looks like some Creationists are manipulating search results to ensure websites pushing religion are appearing in response to queries about science. Ask Google "What happened to the dinosaurs?" and you'll see links to Creationist sites right at the top. (And, right now, several hits to sites taking note of it.) Google has a feedback link waiting for you to use it.
Government

Russian Space Agency Misused $1.8 Billion, May Be Replaced 94

Posted by Soulskill
from the that's-a-lot-of-vodka dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After a pair of high profile launch failures in the past few months, Russian space agency Roscosmos is making headlines again: this time for corruption. A public spending watchdog reported that the organization had misused 92 billion rubles ($1.8 billion) in 2014 alone. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said their space efforts have been undermined by rampant corruption. "We have uncovered acts of fraud, abuse of authority (and) document forgery. With such a level of moral decay, one should not be surprised at the high accident rate." He also said Roscosmos is to be "abolished," and replaced by a state corporation of the same name by the end of the year. "In its new, corporate identity, Roscosmos will be responsible not only for setting mission goals but managing wages for space industry workers and modernizing production facilities."
Science

Can Bad Scientific Practice Be Fixed? 397

Posted by samzenpus
from the what's-in-it-for-me? dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Richard Horton writes that a recent symposium on the reproducibility and reliability of biomedical research discussed one of the most sensitive issues in science today: the idea that something has gone fundamentally wrong with science (PDF), one of our greatest human creations. The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. According to Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet, a United Kingdom-based medical journal, the apparent endemicity of bad research behavior is alarming. In their quest for telling a compelling story, scientists too often sculpt data to fit their preferred theory of the world or retrofit hypotheses to fit their data.

Can bad scientific practices be fixed? Part of the problem is that no-one is incentivized to be right. Instead, scientists are incentivized to be productive and innovative. Tony Weidberg says that the particle physics community now invests great effort into intensive checking and rechecking of data prior to publication following several high-profile errors. By filtering results through independent working groups, physicists are encouraged to criticize. Good criticism is rewarded. The goal is a reliable result, and the incentives for scientists are aligned around this goal. "The good news is that science is beginning to take some of its worst failings very seriously," says Horton. "The bad news is that nobody is ready to take the first step to clean up the system."