another random user sends this quote from the BBC: "The third and fourth spacecraft in Europe's satellite navigation system have gone into orbit. The pair were launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket from French Guiana. It is an important milestone for the multi-billion-euro project to create a European version of the U.S. Global Positioning System. With four satellites now in orbit — the first and second spacecraft were launched in 2011 — it becomes possible to test Galileo end-to-end. That is because a minimum of four satellites are required in the sky for a smartphone or vehicle to use their signals to calculate a positional fix."
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MarkWhittington writes "Bill Nye, once known as 'The Science Guy' for his 1990s PBS educational television show, has cut a YouTube video in his current capacity of CEO of the Planetary Society urging people to write to President Obama to restore cuts to planetary science. The budget cuts were enacted by the president last February, causing consternation in the scientific community. Nye writes, 'If that proposal continues the steep decline in funding to NASA's planetary program it will gravely endanger the unique capabilities and outstanding people that have delivered U.S. leadership in space. We will lose a capability that took decades to develop and may never be replaced.'"
olsmeister writes "Ever wonder if the universe is really a simulation? Well, physicists do too. Recently, a group of physicists have devised a way that could conceivably figure out one way or the other whether that is the case. There is a paper describing their work on arXiv. Some other physicists propose that the universe is actually a giant hologram with all the action actually occurring on a two-dimensional boundary region."
theodp writes "In Ken Kesey's 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Nurse Ratched maintained order in the mental institution by dispensing antipsychotic and anticonvulsant drugs to the patients. Fifty years later, the NY Times reports that some physicians are prescribing stimulants to struggling students in schools starved of extra money, not to treat ADHD, necessarily, but to boost their academic performance. 'We as a society have been unwilling to invest in very effective nonpharmaceutical interventions for these children and their families,' said Dr. Ramesh Raghavan, an expert in prescription drug use among low-income children. 'We are effectively forcing local community psychiatrists to use the only tool at their disposal, which is psychotropic medications.'"
daveschroeder writes "After over 296 days in space, nearly 123 million miles traveled, Space Shuttle Endeavour (OV-105) is making its final journey — on the streets of Los Angeles. The last Space Shuttle to be built, the contract for Endeavour was awarded on July 31, 1987. Endeavour first launched on May 7, 1992 (video), launched for the last time on May 16, 2011 (video), and landed for the final time on June 1, 2011 (video). Endeavour then took to the skies aboard the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), completing the final ferry flight and the final flight of any kind in the Space Shuttle Program era with an aerial grand tour of southern California escorted by two NASA Dryden Flight Research Center F/A-18 aircraft on September 21, 2012 (video). This morning around 1:30AM Pacific Time, Endeavour began another journey, this one on the ground. All Space Shuttles have traveled via road from Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, CA, to Edwards Air Force Base, but this time a Space Shuttle is taking to the streets of Los Angeles for the journey from Los Angeles International Airport to its final home at the California Science Center. Getting the shuttle through LA surface streets is a mammoth logistical challenge as it lumbers along at 2 mph to the cheers of onlookers. Watching Endeavour make the journey is a sight to be seen (pictures, video)! Thank you, Endeavour!" Slashdot's Principal Software Engineer Kaushik Acharya was on hand, with camera, and took some great pictures of the event.
scibri writes "In a study of more than 80,000 bioscience papers, researchers have illuminated the usually hidden flows of papers from journal to journal before publication. Surprisingly, they found that papers published after having first been rejected elsewhere receive significantly more citations on average than ones accepted on first submission. There were a few other surprises as well...Nature and Science publish more papers that were initially rejected elsewhere than lower-impact journals do. So there is apparently some reason to be patient with your paper's critics — they will do you good in the end."
RocketAcademy writes "New regulations by the Federal government define asteroidal material to be an antiquity, like arrowheads and pottery, rather than a mineral — and, therefore, not subject to U.S. mining law or eligible for mining claims. At the moment, these regulations only apply to asteroidal materials that have fallen to Earth as meteorites. However, they create a precedent that could adversely affect the plans of companies such as Planetary Resources, who intend to mine asteroids in space."
Sam Bagot and Will Bratton operate Horto Domi (hortodomi.com), an agricultural project they describe as "beyond organic." They're working with small prefab greenhouses, adding sensors and Arduino-actuated controls, and even including an earthworm breeding area in most domes, because earthworms are good for the soil and can increase plant production. If you're the kind of person whose plants always seem to shrivel up and die, this may be a great way to garden. With watering and other functions automated, it looks like all you have to do is set your controls, plant what you want to grow, and wait for the "time to harvest" alarm to go off. Okay, it might not be that simple, but Sam and Will say their gardening method saves a lot of energy and time. It also looks like fun, besides being an easy way to grow your own 100% organic fruits and vegetables.
coondoggie writes "NASA said today it has helped develop a 57-lb robotic exoskeleton that a person could wear over his or her body either to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints. The X1 was derived from the NASA and General Motors Robonaut 2 project and the could find applications as an in-space exercise machine to supply resistance against leg movement more importantly as a way to help some individuals walk for the first time."
If you are a seafood lover and wish that you could eat more fish raised on pig feces, your dreams are coming true. Due to fierce competition in the Chinese tilapia industry, farmers are increasingly switching to feces instead of commercial feed. From the article: "At Chen Qiang’s tilapia farm in Yangjiang city in China’s Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong, Chen feeds fish partly with feces from hundreds of pigs and geese. That practice is dangerous for American consumers, says Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety. 'The manure the Chinese use to feed fish is frequently contaminated with microbes like salmonella,' says Doyle, who has studied foodborne diseases in China."
another random user writes "Scientists in the Arctic have launched an urgent investigation into how solar storms can disrupt sat-nav. Studies have revealed how space weather can cut the accuracy of GPS by tens of metres. Flares from the Sun interact with the upper atmosphere and can distort the signals from global positioning satellites. The project is under way at a remote observatory on a windswept mountainside in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard in the High Arctic. The site was chosen for its isolation from electronic pollution and for its position in relation to the Earth's magnetic field which flows from space down towards the far North."
sciencehabit writes "Four young boys with a rare, fatal brain condition have made it through a dangerous ordeal. Scientists have safely transplanted human neural stem cells into their brains. Twelve months after the surgeries, the boys have more myelin—a fatty insulating protein that coats nerve fibers and speeds up electric signals between neurons—and show improved brain function, a new study in Science Translational Medicine reports. The preliminary trial paves the way for future research into potential stem cell treatments for the disorder, which overlaps with more common diseases such as Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis."
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Hakeem Oluseyi, an astronomer at the Florida Institute of Technology and president of the African Astronomical Society, says his goal is to put one research telescope in every country, starting with African and Southern Hemisphere nations because there is now an amazing opportunity for small telescopes to discover and characterize new planetary systems, as well as measure the structure of the Milky Way. 'Astronomers are no longer looking at high-definition pictures but at HD movies, scanning for objects that change and for transient ones,' says Oluseyi. 'A 4-inch telescope was used to discover the first exoplanet by the transit method, where you watch the brightness vary.' Small telescopes capable to doing real science are a lot cheaper than people think. A 1-meter telescope costs $300,000 but reduce the size by 60 percent, and it falls to just $30,000. For example the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT) uses hardware costing less than $75,000 to look at millions of very bright stars at once, over broad sections of sky, and at low resolution to see if the starlight dims just a little — an indication that a planet has crossed in front of the star. The KELT team has already discovered the existence of a very unusual faraway planet — KELT-1b, a super hot, super dense ball of metallic hydrogen so massive that it may better be described as a 'failed star' and located so close to its star that it whips through an entire 'yearly' orbit in a little over a day."
coondoggie writes "It's not a totally new concept, but the Air Force is testing the idea of flying gas-guzzling cargo aircraft inline allowing the trailing aircraft to utilize the cyclonic energy coming off the lead plane — a concept known as vortex surfing — over long distances to save large amounts of fuel. According to an Air force release, a series of recent test flights involving two aircraft at a time, let the trailing aircraft surf the vortex of the lead aircraft, positioning itself in the updraft to get additional lift without burning extra fuel."
LucidBeast writes "Xenon, the second heaviest of the noble gasses, is only found in trace amounts in the atmosphere. Atmosphere contains less xenon than other lighter noble gasses. Missing xenon has perplexed scientists and it has been speculated that it is hiding in the Earth's mantle. Now, a group at the University of Bayreuth in Germany thinks it might have found the answer. It turns out that xenon does not dissolve easily into magnesium silicate perovskite, and thus it cannot hide there. Because it had no place to hide, it is now gone forever."
An anonymous reader writes "Scientists say that the recently discovered 520 million year old insect brain, the oldest brain ever discovered in an arthropod, is surprisingly complex for its age, and may be the earliest example on record of a modern brain structure. Hailed as a 'transformative discovery,' researchers said that the 3-inch-long fossilized extinct arthropod found in Yunnan Province, China, shows that insects evolved to have complex brains significantly earlier than previously thought. Researchers said that the fossilized brain, which looks very similar to brains of modern insects, may provide a missing link that offers new insight on the evolutionary history of arthropods, a group of invertebrates that includes insects, spiders and crustaceans."
An anonymous reader writes "Germany's minister for science and education, who is currently under investigation by her alma mater for plagiarizing parts of her Ph.D thesis, is facing new accusations: a total of 92 alleged incidents of plagiarism (German) have been documented by a blogger, who calls 'this number of violations inexcusable.'"
coondoggie writes "What are the next big things in science and technology? Teleportation? Unlimited clean Energy? The scientists and researchers at DARPA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy put out a public call this week for ideas that could form what they call the Grand Challenges — ambitious yet achievable goals that that would herald serious breakthroughs in science and technology."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Futurist and author Ray Kurzweil predicts the cloud will eventually do more than store our emails or feed us streaming movies on demand: it's going to help expand our brain capacity beyond its current limits. In a question-and-answer session following a speech to the DEMO technology conference in Santa Clara, California last week, Kurzweil described the human brain as impressive but limited in its capacity to hold information. 'By the time we're even 20, we've filled it up,' he said, adding that the only way to add information after that point is to 'repurpose our neocortex to learn something new.' (Computerworld has posted up the full video of the talk.) The solution to overcoming the brain's limitations, he added, involves 'basically expanding our brains into the cloud.'"
kenekaplan writes "NASA has used VxWorks for several deep space missions, including Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. When the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) needs to run stress tests or simulations for upgrades and fixes to the OS, Wind River's Mike Deliman gets the call. In a recent interview, Deliman, a senior member of the technical staff at Wind River, which is owned by Intel, gave a peek at the legacy technology under Curiosity's hood and recalled the emergency call he got when an earlier Mars mission hit a software snag after liftoff."