12-Lead Clinical ECG Design Open Sourced; Supports Tablets, Too 134

New submitter isza writes "MobilECG is probably the first open source clinical-grade electrocardiograph with simultaneous 12-lead recording and Android support. It has been designed to meet all the relevant medical standards (ISO 60601-1, etc.). Manufacturing cost @ 1000 pieces: ~$110. I had worked at a medical device company designing clinical electrocardiographs for three years. Fed up with the unreasonably high price, cumbersome design, and dishonest distribution practices of clinical ECG machines, I started working on a high-quality ECG that is different. After a couple of failed attempts to get funding for the expensive certification process and completely running out of funds, I decided to publish everything under a license that allows others to finalize and manufacture it or reuse parts of it in other projects." From the project page linked: "The software is licensed under WTFPL, the hardware under CERN OHL 1.2," and a few words of disclaimer: "Note: the design is functional but unfinished, it needs additional work before it can be certified. There are also some known bugs in it. Most of the software is unimplemented." Conventional crowdfunding may have fallen short, but Isza has proposed an interesting bargain for working on the project again himself: that will happen if he raises via donation half the amount of his original $22,000 investment.

Comet ISON Nears Date With Sun 45

riverat1 writes "Now visible in the morning sky, comet ISON will swing around the Sun on November 28. ISON will pass 730,000 km above the surface of the Sun at closest approach (Mercury's perihelion distance is 46 million km). If it survives its near brush with the Sun it could provide a spectacular sky show from December into January. This NASA timeline shows that ISON will be the most observed comet ever as instruments ranging from a balloon carried telescope to the Hubble Space Telescope to the STEREO satellites will be brought into play. Lowell Observatory astronomer Matthew Knight lays out three possibilities for ISON: spontaneous disintegration before it gets to the Sun (less than 1% chance); disintegration as it rounds the Sun; or survival. If it survives, its closest approach to Earth will be on December 26 at about 1/3 of an AU."

Getting the Dirt On Ancient Life With Coprolites 51

the_newsbeagle writes "Paleoscatologist Karen Chin knows you can learn a lot about ancient ecosystems by studying coprolites — fossilized feces. She has studied dino droppings from herbivores, and identified the types of plants those dinosaurs ate. She has identified T. rex turds, and found evidence that prehistoric dung beetles made use of those king-sized dino patties. This profile of Chin goes through her greatest hits, then focuses on her latest work, which sheds light on the reemergence of life after the K-Pg extinction event that brought down the dinosaurs... but left some surprising creatures unscathed."

Ask Slashdot: Cheap Second Calculators For Tests? 328

Rich0 writes "I own an HP 48 calculator that I'm quite content with, but soon I'll need to take a certification exam where this calculator will not be welcome. I'm sure this is a common problem for those who own higher-end calculators. Sure, I could just buy a random $15 calculator with a few trig functions, but I was wondering who makes the best moderately-priced calculators for somebody who already has and appreciates a programmable calculator and just needs something simple. Bonus points if the calculator can handle polar vector arithmetic and unit conversions, but it has to be simple enough that virtually any exam would accept its use."

U.S. 5X Battery Research Sets Three Paths For Replacing Lithium 172

dcblogs writes "One year ago this month, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $120 million plan to develop a technology capable of radically extending battery life. 'We want to change the game, basically,' said George Crabtree, a senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory and a physics professor who is leading the effort. The goal is to develop a battery that can deliver five times the performance, measured in energy density, that's also five times cheaper, and do it in five years. They are looking at three research areas. Researchers are considering replacing the lithium with magnesium that has two charges, or aluminum, which has three charges. Another approach investigates replacing the intercalation step with a true chemical reaction. A third approach is the use of liquids to replace crystalline anodes and cathodes, which opens up more space for working ions."

Smithsonian Releases 3D Models of Artifacts 47

plover writes "The Seattle Times reports, 'The Smithsonian Institution is launching a new 3D scanning and printing initiative to make more of its massive collection accessible to schools, researchers and the public worldwide. A small team has begun creating 3D models of some key objects representing the breadth of the collection at the world's largest museum complex. Some of the first 3D scans include the Wright brothers' first airplane, Amelia Earhart's flight suit, casts of President Abraham Lincoln's face during the Civil War and a Revolutionary War gunboat. Less familiar objects include a former slave's horn, a missionary's gun from the 1800s and a woolly mammoth fossil from the Ice Age. They are pieces of history some people may hear about but rarely see or touch.' So far they have posted 20 models, with the promise of many more to come." They even have a model supernova remnant.

Experts Hail Quantum Computer Memory Stability Breakthrough 53

cold fjord writes "The BBC reports, 'A fragile quantum memory state has been held stable at room temperature for a "world record" 39 minutes — overcoming a key barrier to ultrafast computers. 'Qubits' of information encoded in a silicon system persisted for almost 100 times longer than ever before. ... "This opens the possibility of truly long-term storage of quantum information at room temperature," said Prof Thewalt ... unofficially, the previous best for a solid state system was 25 seconds at room temperature, or three minutes under cryogenic conditions. ... What's more, they found they could manipulate the qubits as the temperature of the system rose and fell back towards absolute zero. At cryogenic temperatures, their quantum memory system remained coherent for three hours. "Having such robust, as well as long-lived, qubits could prove very helpful for anyone trying to build a quantum computer," said co-author Stephanie Simmons of Oxford University's department of materials. ... "We've managed to identify a system that seems to have basically no noise." However she cautions there are still many hurdles to overcome before large-scale quantum computations can be performed. ... "This result represents an important step towards realizing quantum devices," said David Awschalom, professor in Spintronics and Quantum Information, at the University of Chicago. "However, a number of intriguing challenges still remain." — Abstract for the paywalled academic paper."

First Lab Demonstration That the Ability To Evolve Can Itself Evolve 72

ananyo writes "Research on Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, shows that the capacity to evolve can itself be the target of natural selection. B. burgdorferi can cause a chronic infection even if its animal host mounts a strong immune response — evading those defenses by tweaking the shape and expression of its main surface antigen, VIsE. A series of unexpressed genetic sequences organized into 'cassettes' recombine with the VIsE gene, changing the resulting protein such that it escapes detection by the host's immune system. The researchers studied the molecular evolution of the cassettes' genetic sequences in 12 strains of B. burgdorferi. They found that natural selection seemed to favor bacteria with more genetic variability within their cassettes, and hence a greater capacity to generate different versions of the antigen. 'Greater diversity among the cassettes in itself shouldn't be a selective advantage considering they aren't expressed and don't do anything else,' says lead author Dustin Brisson. 'But we did find evidence of selection, so the question is: what else could it be for besides evolvability?'"

Hotel Tycoon Seeks Property Rights On the Moon 248

SonicSpike writes "The founder of Bigelow Aerospace, Robert Bigelow, made a fortune in the hotel and real estate businesses, and he's pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into an enterprise that will create inflatable habitats designed for life beyond Earth. He entered into an agreement with NASA to provide a report on how ventures like his could help NASA get back to the moon, and even Mars, faster and cheaper. Bigelow is applying to the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation to amend a 1967 international agreement on the moon so that a system of private property rights can be established there. 'When there isn't law and order,' he said, 'there's chaos.' Bigelow said he believes the right to own what one discovers on the moon is the incentive needed for private enterprise to commit massive amounts of capital and risk lives. 'It provides a foundational security to investors,' he said. Bigelow does not feel that any one nation should own the moon. 'No one anything should own the moon,' he said. 'But, yes, multiple entities, groups, individuals, yes, they should have the opportunity to own the moon.'"

Astronomers Discover Largest Structure In the Universe 143

KentuckyFC writes "Until now, the largest known structure in the Universe was the Huge-LQG (Large Quasar Group), a cluster of 73 quasars stretching over a distance of 4 billion light years. Now astronomers say they've spotted something even bigger in data from gamma ray bursts, the final explosions of energy released by stars as they die and the universe's most energetic events. Astronomers have measured the distance to 283 of these bursts and mapped their position in the universe. This throws up a surprise. At a distance of ten billion light years, there are more gamma ray bursts than expected if they were evenly distributed throughout the universe. This implies the existence of a structure at this distance that is about ten billion light years across and so dwarfs the Huge-LQG. What's odd about the discovery is that the Cosmological principle--one of the fundamental tenets of cosmology--holds that the distribution of matter in the universe will appear uniform if viewed at a large enough scale. And yet, structures clearly emerge at every scale astronomers can see. The new discovery doesn't disprove the principle but it does provide some interesting food for thought for theorists."

Clam That Was Killed Determining Its Age Was Over 100 Years Older Than Estimated 366

schwit1 writes "In 2006, climate change experts from Bangor University in north Wales found a very special clam while dredging the seabeds of Iceland. At that time scientists counted the rings on the inside shell to determine that the clam was the ripe old age of 405. Unfortunately, by opening the clam which scientists refer to as 'Ming,' they killed it instantly. Cut to 2013, researchers have determined that the original calculations of Ming's age were wrong, and that the now deceased clam was actually 102 years older than originally thought. Ming was 507 years old at the time of its demise."

We're Safe From the Latest SARS-Like Disease...For the Moment 106

KentuckyFC writes "Back in 2002, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS killed about 10 per cent of the 8,000 people it infected in southern China and Hong Kong. The severity of the disease and its high death rate triggered panic in many countries where health agencies worked feverishly to prevent its further spread, largely successfully. Then in September 2012, a virologist working in Saudi Arabia noticed a similar virus in a patient suffering from acute pneumonia and renal failure. Since then, so-called Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS has also begun to spread. The World Health Organization says it knows of 63 deaths from only 149 cases, a death rate that seems to dwarf that of SARS. So how worried should we be? Now epidemiologists who have modeled how the disease spreads have some reassuring news. They say MERS is unlikely to cause a global pandemic. But with Saudi Arabia expecting the imminent arrival of millions of pilgrims for the 2013 Hajj, there are still good reasons to be concerned."

Viruses Boost Performance of Lithium-Air Battery Used In Electric Cars 66

rtoz writes "MIT researchers have found that adding genetically modified viruses to the production of nanowires will boost the performance of lithium-air battery used in electric cars. The key to their work was to increase the surface area of the wire, thus increasing the area where electrochemical activity takes place during charging or discharging of the battery (abstract). The increase in surface area produced by their method can provide a big advantage in lithium-air batteries' rate of charging and discharging. Unlike conventional fabrication methods, which involve energy-intensive high temperatures and hazardous chemicals, this process can be carried out at room temperature using a water-based process."

Building an 'Invisibility Cloak' With Electromagnetic Fields 71

Nerval's Lobster writes "University of Toronto researchers have demonstrated an invisibility cloak that hides objects within an electromagnetic field, rather than swaddling it in meta-materials as other approaches require. Instead of covering an object completely in an opaque cloak that then mimics the appearance of empty air, the technique developed by university engineering Prof. George Eleftheriades and Ph.D. candidate Michael Selvanayagam makes objects invisible using the ability of electromagnetic fields to redirect or scatter waves of energy. The approach is similar to that of 'stealth' aircraft whose skin is made of material that absorbs the energy from radar systems and deflects the rest away from the radar detectors that sent them. Rather than scattering radio waves passively due to the shape of its exterior, however, the Toronto pair's 'cloak' deflects energy using an electromagnetic field projected by antennas that surround the object being hidden. Most of the proposals in a long list of 'invisibility cloaks' announced during the past few years actually conceal objects by covering them with an opaque blanket, which becomes 'invisible' by displaying an image of what the space it occupies would look like if neither the cloak nor the object it concealed were present. An invisibility cloak concealing an adolescent wizard hiding in a corner, for example, would display an image of the walls behind it in an effort to fool observers into thinking there was no young wizard present to block their view of the empty corner. 'We've taken an electrical engineering approach, but that's what we are excited about,' Eleftheriades said in a public announcement of the paper's publication. (The full text is available as a free PDF here.)"

Physicists Plan to Build a Bigger LHC 263

ananyo writes "When Europe's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) started up in 2008, particle physicists would not have dreamt of asking for something bigger until they got their US$5-billion machine to work. But with the 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson, the LHC has fulfilled its original promise — and physicists are beginning to get excited about designing a machine that might one day succeed it: the Very Large Hadron Collider. The giant machine would dwarf all of its predecessors (see 'Lord of the rings'). It would collide protons at energies around 100 TeV, compared with the planned 14TeV of the LHC at CERN, Europe's particle-physics lab near Geneva in Switzerland. And it would require a tunnel 80-100 kilometres around, compared with the LHC's 27-km circumference. For the past decade or so, there has been little research money available worldwide to develop the concept. But this summer, at the Snowmass meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota — where hundreds of particle physicists assembled to dream up machines for their field's long-term future — the VLHC concept stood out as a favorite."

India's Mars Mission Back On Track After Brief Hiccup 73

New submitter rahultyagi writes "After running into some problems in its fourth orbit-raising maneuver two days ago, Mangalyaan (India's Mars Orbiter Mission) seems to be back on track now. A supplementary burn lasting ~304 seconds was completed today, raising the apogee of MOM to 118,642 km — the intended apogee after the original maneuver. After the glitch two days ago, ISRO again seems to be on track to become the first entity to have a successful Mars mission on its first attempt. Though, of course, there are quite a few things that might still go wrong before this can be called a successful mission. Let's all hope that a year from now, we are all celebrating the entry of another nation into the small club capable of successful interplanetary missions."

Puzzled Scientists Say Strange Things Are Happening On the Sun 342

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Robert Lee Hotz reports in the WSJ that current solar activity is stranger than it has been in a century or more. The sun is producing barely half the number of sunspots as expected, and its magnetic poles are oddly out of sync. Based on historical records, astronomers say the sun this fall ought to be nearing the explosive climax of its approximate 11-year cycle of activity—the so-called solar maximum. But this peak is 'a total punk,' says Jonathan Cirtain. 'I would say it is the weakest in 200 years,' adds David Hathaway, head of the solar physics group at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Researchers are puzzled. They can't tell if the lull is temporary or the onset of a decades-long decline, which might ease global warming a bit by altering the sun's brightness or the wavelengths of its light. To complicate the riddle, the sun also is undergoing one of its oddest magnetic reversals on record, with the sun's magnetic poles out of sync for the past year so the sun technically has two South Poles. Several solar scientists speculate that the sun may be returning to a more relaxed state after an era of unusually high activity that started in the 1940s (PDF). 'More than half of solar physicists would say we are returning to a norm,' says Mark Miesch. 'We might be in for a longer state of suppressed activity.' If so, the decline in magnetic activity could ease global warming, the scientists say. But such a subtle change in the sun—lowering its luminosity by about 0.1%—wouldn't be enough to outweigh the build-up of greenhouse gases and soot that most researchers consider the main cause of rising world temperatures over the past century or so. 'Given our current understanding of how the sun varies and how climate responds, were the sun to enter a new Maunder Minimum, it would not mean a new Little Ice Age,' says Judith Lean. 'It would simply slow down the current warming by a modest amount.'"

Sunlight Helps Turn Salty Water Fresh 58

MTorrice writes "With energy-efficient desalination techniques, water-starved communities could produce fresh water from salty sources such as seawater and industrial wastewater. But common methods like reverse osmosis require pumping the water, which uses a substantial amount of energy. So some researchers have turned to forward osmosis, because in theory it should use less energy. Now a team has demonstrated a forward osmosis system that desalinates salty water with the help of sunlight. The method uses a pair of hydrogels to absorb and squeeze out freshwater."

Weak Statistical Standards Implicated In Scientific Irreproducibility 182

ananyo writes "The plague of non-reproducibility in science may be mostly due to scientists' use of weak statistical tests, as shown by an innovative method developed by statistician Valen Johnson, at Texas A&M University. Johnson found that a P value of 0.05 or less — commonly considered evidence in support of a hypothesis in many fields including social science — still meant that as many as 17–25% of such findings are probably false (PDF). He advocates for scientists to use more stringent P values of 0.005 or less to support their findings, and thinks that the use of the 0.05 standard might account for most of the problem of non-reproducibility in science — even more than other issues, such as biases and scientific misconduct."

Bill Gates's Plan To Improve Our World 445

An anonymous reader writes "Bill Gates has written an article in Wired outlining his strategy to improve people's lives through philanthropy and investment in technology and the sciences. He says, 'We want to give our wealth back to society in a way that has the most impact, and so we look for opportunities to invest for the largest returns. That means tackling the world's biggest problems and funding the most likely solutions. That's an even greater challenge than it sounds. I don't have a magic formula for prioritizing the world's problems. You could make a good case for poverty, disease, hunger, war, poor education, bad governance, political instability, weak trade, or mistreatment of women. ...I am a devout fan of capitalism. It is the best system ever devised for making self-interest serve the wider interest. This system is responsible for many of the great advances that have improved the lives of billions—from airplanes to air-conditioning to computers. But capitalism alone can't address the needs of the very poor. This means market-driven innovation can actually widen the gap between rich and poor. ... We take a double-pronged approach: (1) Narrow the gap so that advances for the rich world reach the poor world faster, and (2) turn more of the world's IQ toward devising solutions to problems that only people in the poor world face.'"