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Privacy

You Can Donate Your Genome For Medical Research, But Not Anonymously 58

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can-tell-by-the-base-pairs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Dozens of volunteers who anonymously donated their genomic data to a public database for medical research have been identified by a team led by Yaniv Erlich, a former computer security researcher turned geneticist. Erlich's team matched Y chromosomal markers in genomes compiled by the 1000 Genomes Project with non-anonymous genomic databases, for example some assembled from contributions by family tree enthusiasts (abstract). After finding a match on a presumed relative of the study participant, the researchers pieced together the relative's family tree through search engines and the like, until they were able to identify the participant based on gender, age, place of birth, and other supposedly 'non-identifying' information associated with the genome. The names of the identified participants have not been released."
Math

Mathematicians Aim To Take Publishers Out of Publishing 162

Posted by Soulskill
from the you've-been-subtracted dept.
ananyo writes "Mathematicians plan to launch a series of free open-access journals that will host their peer-reviewed articles on the preprint server arXiv. The project was publicly revealed in a blog post by Tim Gowers, a Fields Medal winner and mathematician at the University of Cambridge, UK. The initiative, called the Episciences Project, hopes to show that researchers can organize the peer review and publication of their work at minimal cost, without involving commercial publishers. 'It’s a global vision of how the research community should work: we want to offer an alternative to traditional mathematics journals,' says Jean-Pierre Demailly, a mathematician at the University of Grenoble, France, who is a leader in the effort. Backed by funding from the French government, the initiative may launch as early as April, he says."
Australia

Tiny Pill Relays Body Temperature of Firefighters In Real-time 67

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-in-the-pill dept.
pcritter writes "Australian firefighters are enlisting the help of tiny pill to battle fires. In a training exercise, 50 firefighters swallowed the LifeMonitor capsule which is equipped with a thermometer and a transmitter. The pill transmits data to a device worn on the chest, which also gathers data on heartbeat, respiration and skin temperature. This data is relayed in real-time, allowing better management of heat-stress during firefighting. Victoria's Country Fire Authority trialed this new mechanism when they found that the standard measurement of temperature by the ear was an ineffective indication of heat-stress. The pill is expelled naturally after two days."
Medicine

Australian Scientists Discover Potential Aids Cure 232

Posted by samzenpus
from the saving-lives dept.
smi.james.th writes "Several sites report that Australian researcher David Harrich and his team have potentially discovered a way to stop HIV becoming AIDS and ultimately cure the disease. From the article: 'What we've actually done is taken a normal virus protein that the virus needs to grow, and we've changed this protein, so that instead of assisting the virus, it actually impedes virus replication and does it quite strongly.' This could potentially hail one of modern medicine's greatest victories."
Science

"Superomniphobic" Nanoscale Coating Repels Almost Any Liquid 104

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-it-dry dept.
cylonlover writes "A team of engineering researchers at the University of Michigan has developed a nanoscale coating that causes almost all liquids to bounce off surfaces treated with it. Creating a surface structure that is least 95 percent air, the new 'superomniphobic' coating is claimed to repel the broadest range of liquids of any material in its class, opening up the possibility of super stain-resistant clothing, drag-reducing waterproof paints for ship hulls, breathable garments that provide protection from harmful chemicals, and touchscreens resistant to fingerprint smudges."
China

China's Nuclear Rover Will Sample the Moon 134

Posted by timothy
from the space-cheese-is-worth-it dept.
HansonMB writes "After launching on one of the nation's Long March rockets and a three-day transit, Chang'E 3 will reach the Moon and enter into a 62 mile orbit. Once settled, the 2,645 pound lander will separate from the roughly 8,200 pound spacecraft and descend into a highly elliptical orbit 62 by 9.5 miles above the surface." Russia wants a taste, too, and plans a moon-sampling mission set for 2015.
Government

DHS Steps In As Regulator for Medical Device Security 123

Posted by timothy
from the handicapper-general dept.
mask.of.sanity writes "The Department of Homeland Security has taken charge of pushing medical device manufacturers to fix vulnerable medical software and devices after researchers popped yet another piece of hospital hardware. It comes after the agency pushed Philips to move to fix critical vulnerabilities found in its popular medical management platform that is used in a host of services including assisting surgeries and generating patient reports. To date, no agency has taken point on forcing the medical manufacturers to improve the information security profile of their products, with the FDA even dubbing such a risk unrealistic (PDF)."
EU

Europe's Got Talent For Geeks 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-in-show dept.
fiannaFailMan writes "Teams of scientists from across the continent are vying for a funding bonanza that could see two of them receive up to $1.33 billion over 10 years to keep Europe at the cutting edge of technology. The contest began with 26 proposals that were whittled down to six last year. Just four have made it to the final round. They include a plan to develop digital guardian angels that would keep people safe from harm; a massive data-crunching machine to simulate social, economic and technological change on our planet; an effort to craft the most accurate computer model of the human brain to date; and a team working to find better ways to produce and employ graphene — an ultra-thin material that could revolutionize manufacturing of everything from airplanes to computer chips."
Transportation

Scientists Create New Gasoline Substitute Out of Plants 419

Posted by samzenpus
from the miles-per-leaf dept.
destinyland writes "California scientists have just created a new biofuel using plants that burns just as well as a petroleum-based fuel. 'The discovery, published in the journal Nature, means corn, sugar cane, grasses and other fast-growing plants or trees, like eucalyptus, could be used to make the propellant, replacing oil,' writes the San Francisco Chronicle, and the researchers predict mass marketing of their product within 5 to 10 years. They created their fuel using a fermentation process that was first discovered in 1914, but which was then discontinued in 1965 when petroleum became the dominant source of fuel. The new fuel actually contains more energy per gallon than is currently contained in ethanol, and its potency can even be adjusted for summer or winter driving."
Science

First Known 'Social Chromosome' Found 42

Posted by samzenpus
from the one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-other dept.
sciencehabit writes "To humans, all fire ants may look alike. But the tiny, red, stinging bugs known as Solenopsis invicta have two types of social organization, and these factions are as recognizable to the ants as rival football teams are to us. Researchers once thought that the groups' distinct physiological and behavioral profiles stemmed from a variant in a single gene. Now, a new study (abstract) provides the first evidence that the gene in question is bound up in a bundle of some 600 other genes, versions of which are all inherited together. This 'supergene' takes up a large chunk of what may be the first known social chromosome, analogous to the chromosomes that determine sex in humans."
Japan

Fukushima's Fallout of Fear 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the only-thing-we-have-to-fear-is-fear-itself-and-radiation dept.
gbrumfiel writes "Experts believe that the many thousands who fled from the Fukushima nuclear disaster received very low doses of radiation. But that doesn't mean there won't be health consequences. Nature magazine traveled to Fukushima prefecture and found evidence of an enormous mental strain from the accident. Levels of anxiety and PTSD-like symptoms are high among evacuees. Researchers fear that, in the long run, the mental problems could lead to depression and substance abuse among those who lost their homes. In other words, even if no one develops cancer as a direct result of radiation, the health effects could still be very real."
Earth

Soot Is Warming the World — a Lot 251

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-a-suit-makes-you-cool dept.
sciencehabit writes "Soot is bad stuff all around, whether you're breathing it into your lungs or it's heating the atmosphere by absorbing more of the sun's energy. But a new 4-year, 232-page assessment (PDF) of soot's role in climate finds that the combustion product could be warming the world twice as much as previously thought. The study points policymakers toward the best targets for reducing climate-warming soot emissions while at the same time improving the health of billions of people."
Medicine

Researchers Study Mystery of the Toddler Who Won't Grow 252

Posted by Soulskill
from the stubborn-genes dept.
kkleiner writes "Twenty-year-old Brooke Greenberg hasn't grown since age five. For the last 15 years, mystified doctors have been unable to explain the cause for Brooke's disorder that has kept her aging in check. At age twenty, she maintains the physical and mental appearance of a toddler. The researchers are now are painstakingly analyzing Brooke’s entire genome in search of unique mutations. Needless to say, it is a formidable undertaking. 'Cracking the code on Brooke’s condition,' [Dr. Eric Shadt] wrote, 'is the proverbial searching for a needle in a haystack, since likely there is one or a small number of letters changed in Brooke’s genome that has caused her condition.' To find the mutation Shadt and his team are using the latest genome sequencing and analysis tools. The strategy is to compare Brooke’s genome to the genomes of her parents and three normal sisters, as well as to other available sequences from the general population, and identify gene mutations that only Brooke has."
Government

Why Scientists Should Have a Greater Voice On Global Security 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-they-might-control-the-volcanoes dept.
Lasrick writes "Physicist Lawrence Krauss has a great piece in the NY Times today about the lack of influence scientists wield on global security issues, to the world's detriment. He writes, 'To our great peril, the scientific community has had little success in recent years influencing policy on global security. Perhaps this is because the best scientists today are not directly responsible for the very weapons that threaten our safety, and are therefore no longer the high priests of destruction, to be consulted as oracles as they were after World War II. The problems scientists confront today are actually much harder than they were at the dawn of the nuclear age, and their successes more heartily earned. This is why it is so distressing that even Stephen Hawking, perhaps the world’s most famous living scientist, gets more attention for his views on space aliens than his views on nuclear weapons. Scientists' voices are crucial in the debates over the global challenges of climate change, nuclear proliferation and the potential creation of new and deadly pathogens. But unlike in the past, their voices aren't being heard.'"
Math

Scrabble Needs a New Scoring System 202

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-anagram-generator-detection dept.
innocent_white_lamb writes "A researcher says that some letters are over valued and some are under-valued in Scrabble, due to recent changes to the lists of allowable words. Z and X are now much easier to play and should be worth less, while U, M and G should be worth more than they are now. Joshua Lewis wrote a program to re-calculate the value of each letter to better reflect the current usage. The co-president of the North American Scrabble Players Association says that he often hears criticism of Scrabble's scoring system, but any change would bring about 'catastrophic outrage'. A spokesman for Mattel says that they have no plans to change the game."

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