ananyo writes "Two years ago, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) announced that it would release details of about 13,500 molecules that had already been shown to inhibit the malaria-causing Plasmodium falciparum parasite to some degree. The molecular structures were published in May 2010, along with similar data from Novartis, based in Basel, Switzerland, and the St Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Researchers were encouraged to test the combined library of more than 20,000 compounds to pinpoint potential drugs, and then find out how they work so that the molecules could be tweaked to enhance their activity. Such 'open innovation' efforts have since been launched, including an effort unveiled last month which will see 11 companies sharing their intellectual property. But are such efforts working? The answer, judging by the GSK effort, seems to be a cautious 'yes.'"
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "A team of researchers led by McGill neuroscientist Terence Coderre, who is also affiliated with the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, has found the key to understanding how memories of pain are stored in the brain. More importantly, the researchers are also able to suggest how these memories can be erased, making it possible to ease chronic pain."
Zothecula writes "The European Space Agency's new Vettore Europeo di Generazione Avanzata — or Vega — launch vehicle lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 10 a.m. GMT on February 13 on its maiden flight. Designed for launching small payloads, Vega is intended to complement Europe's existing family of launchers that includes the Ariane 5 heavy-lifter and Soyuz medium-class launchers. The qualification flight, designated VV01, saw the first Vega successfully carry nine satellites into orbit."
FleaPlus writes "NASA and the White House have officially released their FY2013 budget proposal, the first step of the Congressional budget process. As mentioned previously on Slashdot, the proposal decreases Mars science funding (including robotic Mars missions) down to $361M, arguably due in part to cost overruns by the Webb telescope. The proposal also lowers funding for the in-house SLS rocket and Orion capsule to $2.8B, while doubling funding for the ongoing competitive development of commercial crew rockets/vehicles to $830M. The ranking member of the Senate science committee, Sen. Hutchison (R-TX), expressed her frustration with 'cutting SLS and Orion to pay for commercial crew,' as it would allegedly make it impossible for SLS to act as a backup for the commercial vehicles."
xmas2003 writes "Several months ago, I posted to Slashdot about being able to see ultraviolet light after cataract surgery. While a lot of the discussion whimsically discussed the best way for 'Captain UV' or 'UltraMan' to use this 'super-power,' there were some people who were skeptical or (incorrectly) said this is Tetrachromatic vision. I've subsequently done more testing using an Oriel Instruments MS257 Monochromator and was able to see color down to 350nm — below the usual ~400nm limit of the visual spectrum. It's also easily demonstrable with a pair of 400nm and 365nm UV flashlights. Some readers who also have UV vision commented this can be quite annoying at black-lit Disney Rides, Halloween Haunted Houses, etc. Fortunately for me, it's just an interesting oddity so far. Along those lines, some interesting related stories about using UV vision during World War II and Star Gazing. Finally, many/most people end up getting vision debilitating cataracts, so my experience having a Crystalens implanted after cataract surgery may be informative."
The Bad Astronomer writes "The White House released its proposed NASA budget for FY13, and while much of it remains the same from last year, one particular program got devastating news: Mars exploration got a crippling $226 million cut, more than 38% of its budget. This means killing two future missions outright and threatening others. The reasons for this are complex, including huge cost overruns on James Webb Space Telescope and the Curiosity Mars rover, but it also points to a political lack of valuing science in America." A followup to news from before the budget was released, this has details on the actual proposed cuts and re-allocations.
astroengine writes "The European space observatory Planck has discovered something peculiar about our galaxy: it's humming in microwaves and, for the moment, the source of the 'hard' radiation surrounding the galaxy's core is a complete mystery. Also, the Milky Way is home to previously unknown 'islands' of cold carbon monoxide gas, helping astronomers uncover the distribution of star-forming regions."
sciencehabit sends this excerpt from ScienceInsider: "One of the big three research agencies appears to be lagging behind its doubling peers in the president's 2013 budget request released this morning. The $4.9 billion budget of the Department of Energy's Office of Science would rise by 2.4%, to $5 billion. In contrast, the National Science Foundation would receive a nearly 5% boost, to $7.37 billion, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology a hike of 13%, to $860 million. These three agencies were originally singled by President George W. Bush in 2006 for a 10-year budget doubling, a promise that President Barack Obama and Congress have repeatedly endorsed despite the current tough economic times. ... Obama is asking for a 1% increase in overall federal spending on research, to $140 billion. Within that total, the White House seeks a similar 1% hike in the $30 billion devoted to basic research."
astroengine writes "On Feb. 10, NASA's Pluto-bound New Horizons probe entered the homestretch of its mission. When you are sprinting across the solar system, 'homestretch' is the final 1 billion miles of your journey. That sounds like quite a long stretch! But the half-ton spacecraft has already logged 2 billion miles since its launch in early 2006. That's twice the distance between Earth and Saturn. Though the icy dwarf planet is still three years away from its close encounter, mission scientists call this the Late Cruise phase of the flight."
An anonymous reader writes "Due to a decision made at Chamonix, the LHC will operate with a 4 TeV beam energy in 2012. This will allow them to collect as much data as possible (15 inverse femtobarns for ATLAS and CMS) before the whole accelerator complex gets shut down for about 20 months to prepare for even higher energies. 'By the time the LHC goes into its first long stop at the end of this year, we will either know that a Higgs particle exists or have ruled out the existence of a Standard Model Higgs,' said CERN's Research Director, Sergio Bertolucci. 'Either would be a major advance in our exploration of nature, bringing us closer to understanding how the fundamental particles acquire their mass, and marking the beginning of a new chapter in particle physics.'"
hogghogg writes "The GALEX spacecraft (surveying the Universe in ultraviolet wavelengths at which the atmosphere is close to opaque) is coming to the end of its budget life, but it hasn't finished imaging the entire sky and is still (fairly) functional. A group at Caltech wants to keep it running, so NASA is considering transfer of ownership under the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act, which 'allows the transfer of government-owned excess research equipment to educational institutions and non-profit organizations.' Many NASA missions are terminated for budget reasons at the end of a prescribed period, even while the hardware is still highly functional. Although this is the first-ever transfer from NASA of a functioning satellite, maybe this is just the start for a class of privately run astronomical and Earth-observing facilities in space?"
coondoggie writes "It's somewhat hard to imagine that NASA doesn't need the computing power of an IBM mainframe any more, but NASA's CIO posted on her blog today that at the end of the month, the Big Iron will be no more at the space agency. NASA CIO Linda Cureton wrote: 'This month marks the end of an era in NASA computing. Marshall Space Flight Center powered down NASA's last mainframe, the IBM Z9 Mainframe.'"
Shipud writes "A recent article in Journal of Biomolecular structure and Dynamics proposes to define life by semantic voting [Note: open-access article]: 'The definitions of life are more than often in conflict with one another. Undeniably, however, most of them do have a point, one or another or several, and common sense suggests that, probably, one could arrive to a consensus, if only the authors, some two centuries apart from one another, could be brought together. One thing, however, can be done – short of voting in absentia – asking which terms in the definitions are the most frequent and, thus, perhaps, reflecting the most important points shared by many.' The author arrives at a six-word definition, as explained here."
theodp writes "'We were all foolish enough to go on this adventure,' Google co-founder Sergey Brin told the assembled Brainiacs at Google's Solve for X event last week, recalling the time he and Google co-founder Larry Page took their Gulfstream on a $100K journey to watch a 2008 Soyuz launch in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. 'If the rocket blows up, we're all dead,' Sergey overheard a Russian guard say. 'It was incredibly close,' Sergey continued. 'We drove in toward this rocket and there were hundreds of people all going the other way. It was really an astonishing sight. If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend it. It's really not at all comparable to the American launches that I've seen...because those are like five miles away behind a mountain, and the Russians are not as concerned with safety.' Sergey received film credit for the recently-opened Man on a Mission, a documentary on the Russian Soyuz mission that wound up putting Ultima creator Richard Garriott into orbit (for $30 million) instead of changing the course of Google history."
DesScorp writes "Faced with budget cuts, and forced to choose between deep space observation or a mission to Mars, CBS reports that NASA will kill most of its Mars exploration programs. Sources in NASA say that of the $300 million being cut from the space agency's budget, two-thirds were for a joint US-EU program for Martian exploration. NASA spokesman David Weaver said that, just like the rest of the federal government, the space agency has to make 'tough choices and live within our means.'"