Google

Google Pondering $1 Billion Investment In SpaceX's Satellite Internet 104

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
mpicpp writes with a report that Google is close to finalizing an investment in SpaceX to fund the rocket company's vision for satellite-based, low-cost internet access. According to The Information (paywalled), Google is one of many investors for this round of fundraising. The Wall Street Journal (also paywalled) reports Google's investment at $1 billion. They add, "It is likely to take years to establish designs and potentially set up a specialized satellite-making facility. But SpaceX already has some important building blocks. Industry officials said the company builds its own navigation and flight-control systems for spacecraft, which could provide some elements for satellites. There also are synergies between parts SpaceX makes today for solar arrays on spacecraft and such devices intended for satellites."
PC Games (Games)

Sid Meier's New Game Is About Starships 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the klingons-off-the-starboard-bow dept.
jones_supa writes: The next game from the mind of veteran strategy and simulation game designer Sid Meier has been revealed. 2K and Firaxis Games have announced Sid Meier's Starships, a turn-based interstellar strategy game scheduled to arrive in early 2015 for Windows, OS X, and iOS (iPad). In the game, you control a fleet of starships as you journey through the galaxy to complete missions, protect planets and their inhabitants, and build a planetary federation. As you trek through the stars, you will be challenged to expand your federation's influence and reach. You shall also amass futuristic technology and take part in combat using a deep roster of customizable ships. When designing Starships, Meier was intrigued by the idea of exploring the next chapter in the story of Civilization: Beyond Earth. "What happens after we colonize our new home and eventually build starships to take to the stars? What has become of our long-lost brothers and sisters from the planet Earth," Meier asks. "My goal was to create an experience that focuses on starship design and combat within a universe filled with interstellar adventure, diplomacy, and exploration."
Space

Astronomers Record Mystery Radio Signals From 5.5 Billion Light Years Away 121

Posted by samzenpus
from the from-the-depths-of-space dept.
sarahnaomi writes For the first time ever, astronomers have captured an enormous radio wave burst in real time, bringing us one step closer to understanding their origins. These fleeting eruptions, called blitzars or FRBs (Fast Radio Bursts), are truly bizarre cosmic phenomena. In the span of a millisecond, they emit as much radiation as the Sun does over a million years. But unlike other super-luminous events that span multiple wavelengths—gamma ray bursts or supernovae, for example—blitzars emit all that energy in a tiny band of the radio light spectrum. Adding to the mystery is the rarity of blitzar sightings. Since these bursts were first discovered in 2007 with Australia's Parkes Telescope, ten have been identified, the latest of which was the first to be imaged in real time.
Biotech

Drug Company CEO Blames Drug Industry For Increased Drug Resistance 136

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
BarbaraHudson writes Times Live is reporting that while doctors have usually been blamed for bacterial resistance because of over-prescribing, Karl Rotthier, chief executive of the Dutch DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals, claims lax procedures at drugs companies are the real cause. "Most antibiotics are now produced in China and India and I do not think it is unjust to say that the environmental conditions have been quite different in these regions. Poor controls mean that antibiotics are leaking out and getting into drinking water. They are in the fish and cattle that we eat, and global travel and exports mean bacteria are traveling. That is making a greater contribution to the growth of antibiotic resistance than over-prescribing", Rothier said. "We cannot have companies discharging untreated waste water into our environment, contributing to illness and, worse, antibacterial resistance. We cannot accept that rivers in India show higher concentrations of active antibiotic than the blood of someone undergoing treatment."
Space

Iran Forced To Cancel Its Space Program 141

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-space-for-you dept.
MarkWhittington writes The War is Boring blog reported that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been obliged to cancel its nascent space program. This development means that former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's dream of being the first astronaut to be launched into space by Iran have been dashed. Ironically, Anousheh Ansari, who was obliged to flee to the United States from Iran to avoid religious oppression, remains the only Iranian-born space traveler. She did it by going to Texas, making her fortune in the electronics business, and paying for her trip to the International Space Station.
Medicine

Scientists Discover Compound In Baby Diapers Can Enlarge Brain Cells 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news of a breakthrough in brain imaging thanks to a compound found in diapers. "A team of researchers has discovered that a compound used in baby diapers to absorb the liquids can help enlarge the size of the brain cells for a better imaging. The scientists work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and were experimenting with new ways that could help them enlarge the brain cells for a better resolution photos. They discovered by accident that sodium polyacrylate, a compound in baby diapers can enlarge brain cells and can be used in their research. The scientists termed the new technique of enlarging the brain cells 'expansion microscopy.' This new technique will help the scientists increase the brain cells tissue samples and see it in a better image resolution."
Science

Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others 219

Posted by timothy
from the so-more-emoticons-then? dept.
HughPickens.com writes Everyone who is part of an organization — a company, a nonprofit, a condo board — has experienced the pathologies that can occur when human beings try to work together in groups. Now the NYT reports on recent research on why some groups, like some people, are reliably smarter than others. In one study, researchers grouped 697 volunteer participants into teams of two to five members. Each team worked together to complete a series of short tasks, which were selected to represent the varied kinds of problems that groups are called upon to solve in the real world. One task involved logical analysis, another brainstorming; others emphasized coordination, planning and moral reasoning. Teams with higher average I.Q.s didn't score much higher on collective intelligence tasks than did teams with lower average I.Q.s. Nor did teams with more extroverted people, or teams whose members reported feeling more motivated to contribute to their group's success. Instead, the smartest teams were distinguished by three characteristics (PDF). First, their members contributed more equally to the team's discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate the group. Second, their members scored higher on a test called Reading the Mind in the Eyes, which measures how well people can read complex emotional states from images of faces with only the eyes visible. Finally, teams with more women outperformed teams with more men. It appeared that it was not "diversity" (having equal numbers of men and women) that mattered for a team's intelligence, but simply having more women. This last effect, however, was partly explained by the fact that women, on average, were better at "mindreading" than men.

Interestingly enough, a second study has now replicated the these findings for teams that worked together online communicating purely by typing messages into a browser . "Emotion-reading mattered just as much for the online teams whose members could not see one another as for the teams that worked face to face. What makes teams smart must be not just the ability to read facial expressions, but a more general ability, known as "Theory of Mind," to consider and keep track of what other people feel, know and believe."
Medicine

FDA Approves Implantable Vagus Nerve Disruptor For Weight Loss 167

Posted by timothy
from the misplaced-my-pacemaker-and-boy-am-I-full dept.
The L.A. Times reports that for the first time since 2007, the FDA has approved a weight loss device (as opposed to a weight-loss drug), an implantable device called the Maestro Rechargeable System. Using electrical leads implanted just above the stomach and a regulator carried under the skin near the ribcage, the device suppresses signals carried by the vagus nerve. ... The device adopts a variant of a "neuromodulation" technique long used in the treatment of epilepsy: by applying intermittent bursts of electrical current to the vagus nerve, it disrupts the signals that prompt the stomach to relax, expand and prepare for an influx of food. ... The FDA approved the use of the device in adult patients with a body mass index, or BMI, between 35 and 45, who have at least one other obesity-related condition, such as type 2 diabetes.
Mars

Elon Musk's Proposed Internet-by-Satellite System Could Link With Mars Colonies 105

Posted by timothy
from the in-case-you're-on-mars dept.
MojoKid writes You have to hand it to Elon Musk, who has occasionally been referred to as a real life "Tony Stark." The man helped to co-found PayPal and Tesla Motors. Musk also helms SpaceX, which just recently made its fifth successful trip the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver supplies via the Dragon capsule. The secondary mission of the latest ISS launch resulted in the "successful failure" of the Falcon 9 rocket, which Musk described as a Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly (RUD) event. In addition to his Hyperloop transit side project, Musk is eyeing a space-based Internet network that would be comprised of hundred of micro satellites orbiting roughly 750 miles above Earth. The so-called "Space Internet" would provide faster data speeds than traditional communications satellites that have a geosynchronous orbit of roughly 22,000 miles. Musk hopes that the service will eventually grow to become "a giant global Internet service provider," reaching over three billion people who are currently either without Internet service or only have access to low-speed connections. And this wouldn't be a Musk venture without reaching for some overly ambitious goal. The satellite network would truly become a "Space Internet" platform, as it would form the basis for a direct communications link between Earth and Mars. It's the coming thing.
Biotech

Hibernation Protein May Halt Alzheimer's 79

Posted by timothy
from the all-ideas-welcome dept.
BarbaraHudson writes The BBC is reporting that tests show a protein called RBM3, involved in hibernation, may hold the key to regenerating synapses. In the early stages of Alzheimer's, and other neurodegenerative disorders, synapses are lost. This inevitably progresses to whole brain cells dying. But during hibernation, 20-30% of the connections in the brain — synapses — are culled as the body preserves resources over winter, and are reformed in the spring, with no loss of memory. Memories can be restored after hibernation as only the receiving end of the synapse shuts down. In a further set of tests, the team showed the brain cell deaths from prion disease and Alzheimer's could be prevented by artificially boosting RBM3 levels. Prof Mallucci was asked if memories could be restored in people if their synapses could be restored: "Absolutely, because a lot of memory decline is correlated with synapse loss, which is the early stage of dementia, so you might get back some of the synapse you've lost."

Further reading: here, here, and here"
United Kingdom

Winston Churchill's Scientists 75

Posted by timothy
from the they-never-never-never-gave-up dept.
HughPickens.com writes Nicola Davis writes at The Guardian that a new exhibition at London's Science Museum tiitled Churchill's Scientists aims to explore how a climate that mingled necessity with ambition spurred British scientists to forge ahead in fields as diverse as drug-discovery and operational research, paving the way for a further flurry of postwar progress in disciplines from neurology to radio astronomy. Churchill "was very unusual in that he was a politician from a grand Victorian family who was also interested in new technology and science," says Andrew Nahum. "That was quite remarkable at the time." An avid reader of Charles Darwin and HG Wells, Churchill also wrote science-inspired articles himself and fostered an environment where the brightest scientists could build ground-breaking machines, such as the Bernard Lovell telescope, and make world-changing discoveries, in molecular genetics, radio astronomy, nuclear power, nerve and brain function and robotics. "During the war the question was never, 'How much will it cost?' It was, 'Can we do it and how soon can we have it?' This left a heritage of extreme ambition and a lot of talented people who were keen to see what it could provide." (More, below.)
Crime

Innocent Adults Are Easy To Convince They Committed a Serious Crime 291

Posted by timothy
from the well-you-did-you-know dept.
binarstu (720435) writes "Research recently published [link is to abstract only; full text requires subscription] in Psychological Science quantifies how easy it is to convince innocent, "normal" adults that they committed a crime. The Association for Psychological Science (APS) has posted a nice summary of the research. From the APS summary: "Evidence from some wrongful-conviction cases suggests that suspects can be questioned in ways that lead them to falsely believe in and confess to committing crimes they didn't actually commit. New research provides lab-based evidence for this phenomenon, showing that innocent adult participants can be convinced, over the course of a few hours, that they had perpetrated crimes as serious as assault with a weapon in their teenage years."
Earth

Analysis Suggests Solar System Contains Massive Trans-Neptunian Objects 170

Posted by timothy
from the I'm-also-waiting-to-be-discovered dept.
BarbaraHudson writes NBC News reports that at least two planets larger than Earth likely lurk far beyond Pluto, just waiting to be discovered, a new analysis of the orbits of "extreme trans-Neptunian objects" (ETNOs) suggests. The potential undiscovered worlds would be more massive than Earth and would lie about 200 AU or more from the sun — so far away that they'd be very difficult, if not impossible, to spot with current instruments. "The exact number is uncertain, given that the data that we have is limited, but our calculations suggest that there are at least two planets, and probably more, within the confines of our solar system," lead author Carlos de la Fuente Marcos, of the Complutense University of Madrid, said. (Here's the longer version at Space.com.)
Earth

The Anthropocene Epoch Began With 1945 Atomic Bomb Test, Scientists Say 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the either-that-or-the-day-we-invented-hot-pockets dept.
hypnosec writes: Scientists have proposed July 16, 1945 as the beginning of the Anthropocene Epoch. That was the day of the first nuclear detonation test. They say "the Great Acceleration" — the period when human activities started having a significant impact on Earth – are a good mark of the beginning of the new epoch. Since then, there has been a significant increase in population, environmental upheaval on land and oceans, and global connectivity. The group says in their article (abstract), "The beginning of the nuclear age ... marks the historic turning point when humans first accessed an enormous new energy source – and is also a time level that can be effectively tracked within geological strata, using a variety of geological clues."
Earth

NASA, NOAA: 2014 Was the Warmest Year In the Modern Record 360

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-it-was-cold-this-morning dept.
Titus Andronicus writes: NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration both announced today that 2014 was the warmest year in the instrumental temperature record, surpassing the prior winners, 2010 and 2005. NASA also released a short video. They said, "Since 1880, Earth’s average surface temperature has warmed by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius), a trend that is largely driven by the increase in carbon dioxide and other human emissions into the planet’s atmosphere. The majority of that warming has occurred in the past three decades. ... While 2014 temperatures continue the planet’s long-term warming trend, scientists still expect to see year-to-year fluctuations in average global temperature caused by phenomena such as El Niño or La Niña. These phenomena warm or cool the tropical Pacific and are thought to have played a role in the flattening of the long-term warming trend over the past 15 years. However, 2014’s record warmth occurred during an El Niño-neutral year."
Space

SpaceX Landing Attempt Video Released 248

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-at-first-you-don't-succeed dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Last week, SpaceX attempted to land a Falcon 9 rocket on an autonomous ocean platform after successfully launching supplies to the ISS. It didn't work, but Elon Musk said they were close. Now, an amazing video has been recovered from an onboard camera, and it shows just how close it was. You can see the rocket hitting the platform while descending at an angle, then breaking up. Musk said a few days ago that not only do they know what the problem was, but they've already solved it. The rocket's guiding fins require hydraulic fluid to operate. They had enough fluid to operate for 4 minutes, but ran out just prior to landing. Their next launch already carries 50% more hydraulic fluid, so it shouldn't be an issue next time.
Mars

Lost Beagle2 Probe Found 'Intact' On Mars 130

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-close-and-yet-so-far dept.
New submitter Stolga sends this report from the BBC: The missing Mars robot Beagle2 has been found on the surface of the Red Planet, apparently intact. High-resolution images taken from orbit have identified its landing location, and it looks to be in one piece. The UK-led probe tried to make a soft touchdown on the dusty world on Christmas Day, 2003, using parachutes and airbags — but no radio contact was ever made with the probe. Many scientists assumed it had been destroyed in a high-velocity impact.

The new pictures, acquired by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, give the lie to that notion, and hint at what really happened to the European mission. Beagle's design incorporated a series of deployable "petals," on which were mounted its solar panels. From the images, it seems that this system did not unfurl fully. "Without full deployment, there is no way we could have communicated with it as the radio frequency antenna was under the solar panels," explained Prof Mark Sims, Beagle's mission manager from Leicester University.
Space

Virgin Galactic To Launch 2,400 Comm. Satellites To Offer Ubiquitous Broadband 123

Posted by samzenpus
from the space-web dept.
coondoggie writes Virgin Galactic's Richard Branson this week said he wants to launch as many as 2,400 small satellites in an effort to set up a constellation capable of bringing broadband communications through a company called OneWeb to millions of people who do not have it. He said he plans to initially launch a low-earth-orbit satellite constellation of 648 satellites to get the project rolling.
Businesses

Study: Belief That Some Fields Require "Brilliance" May Keep Women Out 218

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-can-go-it dept.
sciencehabit writes Certain scientific fields require a special type of brilliance, according to conventional wisdom. And a new study suggests that this belief, as misguided as it may be, helps explain the underrepresentation of women in those fields. The authors found that fields in which inborn ability is prized over hard work produced relatively fewer female Ph.D.s. This trend, based on 2011 data from the National Science Foundation's Survey of Earned Doctorates, also helps explain why gender ratios don't follow the simplified STEM/non-STEM divide in some fields, including philosophy and biology, they conclude.
Space

Exoplanet Hunting NGTS Telescope Array Achieves First Light 19

Posted by timothy
from the well-lookit dept.
Zothecula writes The Next-Generation Transit Survey (NGTS) array, built by a UK, German and Swiss consortium, has achieved first light at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. The installation is designed to search for exoplanets between two and eight times the size of Earth, studying them as they pass in front of their parent star.