First time accepted submitter awjourn writes "During his years working in pharma R&D, Tomasz Sablinski was frustrated by the industry's need for secrecy and its utter inability to design patient-friendly drug trials. So he founded Transparency Life Sciences, a company that's developing three drugs based on input from patients and physicians, who log onto the company's site and voice their opinions about how drugs should be designed and tested."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
kkleiner writes "A new study shows that brain scans can detect autism in children as young as 6 months old. Researchers at University of North Carolina's Institute for Developmental Disabilities imaged the brains of 92 children who were at high risk for autism. Scans were performed when the children were 6 months, 1-year, and 2-years old. At 2 years, the age when children are typically diagnosed, 30 percent of the children were found to have autism. The researchers then compared the brain images of the autistic children with the others. They saw differences in the brain's white matter, the axon-laden pathways that transmit electrical signals to distant parts of the brain. Of the 15 pathways analyzed, 12 were significantly different between autistic and non-autistic children."
An anonymous reader writes "How are you using smartphones and other portable devices to take charge of your medical care? The NY Times has an article about attachments to the iPhone for tracking blood sugar and blood pressure. There are also glorified web cams that take pictures of your ear drum, teeth or eyes to save you a trip to the doctor's. Some people are tracking the changes in their moles with an iPhone App. Is this the beginning of Med 2.0?" Odd as it sounds, I was able to be more quickly and reliably diagnosed with Lyme disease last fall because I'd taken some pictures on my phone of the lesion I'd wrongly thought was the result of a spider bite. Any camera would have worked, but I had my camera-equipped phone with me, rather than any other kind.
Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that a growing body of evidence from both science and history suggests that eight-hours of uninterrupted sleep may be unnatural as a wealth of historical evidence reveals that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks called first and second sleep. A book by historian Roger Ekirch, At Day's Close: Night in Times Past, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern — in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer's Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria. 'It's not just the number of references — it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge,' says Ekirch. References to the first and second sleep started to disappear during the late 17th Century with improvements in street lighting, domestic lighting and a surge in coffee houses — which were sometimes open all night. Today most people seem to have adapted quite well to the eight-hour sleep, but Ekirch believes many sleeping problems may have roots in the human body's natural preference for segmented sleep which could be the root of a condition called sleep maintenance insomnia, where people wake during the night and have trouble getting back to sleep. 'Our pattern of consolidated sleep has been a relatively recent development, another product of the industrial age, while segmented sleep was long the natural form of our slumber, having a provenance as old as humankind,' says Ekrich, adding that we may 'choose to emulate our ancestors, for whom the dead of night, rather than being a source of dread, often afforded a welcome refuge from the regimen of daily life.'"
ananyo writes "One hundred academics at the University of Sydney, Australia, have this week been told they will lose their jobs for not publishing frequently enough. The move is part of a wider cost-cutting plans designed to pay for new buildings and refurbishment to the university. Letters were posted to researchers on Monday 20 February, informing them their positions were being terminated because they hadn't published at least four 'research outputs' over the past three years. It is unclear which research fields the academics work in. Another 64 academics were told they had a choice between leaving and moving to a teaching-only position, he said."
Julie188 writes "Last summer the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged to spend millions to reinvent the toilet. That investment has born fruit with teams from around the world coming up with many different ways to turn human waste into energy."
An anonymous reader writes "Biologists have previously predicted that that the male sex-determining Y chromosome, which once carried around 800 genes, like the X, has lost hundreds of them over the past 300 million years, will mutate itself out of existence, leading to the eventual extinction of men. However, researchers of a study published in the latest issue of Nature found evidence to suggest that the Y chromosome will not shed any more of the 19 ancestral genes that it is left with."
smolloy writes "It would appear that the hotly debated faster-than-light neutrino observation at CERN is the result of a fault in the connection between a GPS unit and a computer. This connection was used to correct for time delays in the neutrino flight, and after fixing the correction the researchers have found that the time discrepancy appears to have vanished."
First time accepted submitter RenderSeven writes "Manufacturing.net reports that U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials plan to investigate whether inhalable caffeine sold in lipstick-sized canisters is safe for consumers and if its manufacturer was right to brand it as a dietary supplement. AeroShot went on the market late last month in Massachusetts and New York, and it's also available in France. Consumers put one end of the canister in their mouths and breathe in, releasing a fine powder that dissolves almost instantly."
astroengine writes with an excerpt from an article at Discovery: "For the first time, 'buckyballs' have been discovered in the cosmos in a solid form. Until now, the only evidence in space for the bizarre little hollow balls of carbon atoms have been in interstellar gases, but with the help of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered buckyballs accumulating and stacking atop one another to form solid particles. 'These buckyballs are stacked together to form a solid, like oranges in a crate,' said Nye Evans of Keele University in England, lead author of a paper appearing in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 'The particles we detected are minuscule, far smaller than the width of a hair, but each one would contain stacks of millions of buckyballs.'"
ananyo writes with an excerpt from an article in Nature about the decomissioning of the Tevatron: "It is a 4,000-tonne edifice that stands three stories high, chock full of particle detectors, power supplies, electronics and photomultiplier tubes, all layered like a giant onion around a cylindrical magnet. During 26 years of operation at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, this behemoth, the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF), helped to find the top quark and chased the Higgs boson. But since the lab's flagship particle collider, the Tevatron, was switched off in September 2011, the detector has been surplus stock — and it is now slowly being cannibalized for parts." Currently other projects are taking small bits and pieces of the Tevatron, but another Fermilab project, ORKA, wants to gut the collider to study kaon decay.
The Bad Astronomer writes "The extrasolar planet GJ 1214b was discovered in 2009 orbiting a nearby (40 light year distant) red dwarf star. The planet was quickly found to have a thick atmosphere, but it wasn't known at the time if the composition was water vapor or a hazy shroud of particulates. New Hubble observations confirm the atmosphere of the exoplanet is rich in water, comprising up to 50% of the atmosphere's mass (PDF). At 230 degrees Celsius, this means the planet is shrouded in steam."
mattr writes "Japan's Obayashi Corp. has announced plans to build a space elevator by 2050. They are famous for wrecking skylines with the over-sized bullet train station in Kyoto, the world's tallest self-supporting tower Tokyo Sky Tree and just recently, the beginnings of the Taipei Dome. It will take a week at 200 kph for your party of 30 to reach the 36,000-km-high terminal station, while the counterweight [swings along at] 96 km high, a quarter of the way to the Moon."
dcblogs writes "The European Commission last week said it is doubling its multi-year investment in the push for exascale computing from €630 million to €1.2 billion (or the equivalent of $1.58 billion). They are making this a priority even as austerity measures are imposed to prevent defaults. China, meanwhile, has a five-year plan to deliver exascale computing between 2016-20 (PDF). The Europeans announced the plan the same week the White House released its fiscal year 2013 budget, which envisions a third year of anemic funding to develop exascale technologies. Last year, the U.S. Department of Energy science budget asked for nearly $91 million in funding for the efforts in the current fiscal year; it received $73.4 million. DOE science is trying for about $90 million for exascale for 2013. There's more funding tucked in military and security budgets. The U.S. wants exascale around 2018, but it has yet to deliver a plan or the money for it."
ndogg writes with news that Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum has counterattacked those critical of conservative views on science, saying that they're 'anti-science' themselves. From a CBS report: "In his remarks Monday, Santorum went beyond his usual discussion of the importance of increasing domestic energy production to deliver a blistering attack on environmental activists. He said global warming claims are based on 'phony studies,' and that climate change science is little more than 'political science.' His views are not 'anti-science' as Democrats claim, Santorum said. 'When it comes to the management of the Earth, they are the anti-science ones. We are the ones who stand for science, and technology, and using the resources we have to be able to make sure that we have a quality of life in this country and (that we) maintain a good and stable environment,' he said to applause, and cited local ordinances to reduce coal dust pollution in Pittsburgh during the heyday of coal mining."