mayberry42 writes "Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope are mystified by a merging galaxy cluster known as Abell 520 in which concentrations of visible matter and dark matter have apparently come unglued. A report on the Hubble observations, published in the Astrophysical Journal, raises more questions than answers about a cosmic pile-up that's occurring 2.4 billion light-years away. 'According to our current theory,' says Arif Babul, the study team's senior theorist, 'galaxies and dark matter are expected to stay together, even through a collision. But that's not what's happening in Abell 520. Here, the dark matter appears to have pooled to form the dark core, but most of the associated galaxies seem to have moved on.'"
New submitter dr_blurb writes "After reading about last year's hoax report 'Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Browser Usage' I realized I was in fact already running a real live experiment measuring number skills: a site were you can solve Calcudoku number puzzles. I analyzed two years' worth of data, consisting of over 1 million solved puzzles. This included puzzles solved 'against the clock,' of three different sizes. For each size, Chrome users were the fastest solvers, Firefox users came second, and IE users were the slowest. The number of abandoned puzzles (started but never finished) was also significantly higher for IE users. Analysis shows that the differences are statistically significant: in other words, they did not happen by chance. I put up more details and some graphs, and also wrote a paper about it (PDF)."
pigrabbitbear writes "After recent budget cuts to NASA's Mars program, the agency's dream of a sample return mission within the next decade is dead in the water. But the $2.5 billion rover Curiosity is on its way to the red planet right now, and speculation is popping up online that it could fairly easily be retrofitted with the hardware needed to collect and store samples. Theoretically NASA would just need one more mission to collect and return those samples, turning Curiosity into the first phase of the sample return dream."
New submitter S810 writes "According to an article in Discovery News, oxygen was found by the Cassini spacecraft around Dione, one of Saturn's large moons. 'It is thought the oxygen is being produced via interactions between Saturn's powerful radiation belts and Dione's water ice. The radiation breaks the water molecules down, liberating oxygen into the moon's exosphere.' Hopefully this will open the door for more funding of research int the moons of Saturn and Jupiter."
Hugh Pickens writes "The BBC reports on how millions of people struggle to understand a payslip or a train timetable, or pay a household bill. Government figures show that almost half the working population of England have only primary school math skills, and research suggests that weak math skills are linked with an array of poor life outcomes such as prison, unemployment, exclusion from school, poverty and long-term illness. 'We are paying for this in our science, technology and engineering industries but also in people's own ability to earn funds and manage their lives,' says Chris Humphries. He is the chairman of National Numeracy, an organization seeking to emulate the success of the National Literacy Trust, which has helped improve reading and writing standards since it was set up nearly 20 years ago. The Department for Education wants the vast majority of young people to study math up to 18 within a decade to meet the growing demand for employees with high level and intermediate math skills. 'It is simply inexcusable for anyone to say "I can't do maths,"' adds Humphries. "
An anonymous reader writes "Alcubierre warp-drives (theoretically) allow rocket ships to travel faster than the speed of light, while staying within the rules of Einstein's general theory of relativity. New research (PDF) has shown that as such warp-drives zip through the universe, they gather up particles and radiation, releasing them in a burst as the warp-drive slows down. This is bad news for family and friends waiting for the ship to arrive, as this intense burst will fry them."
garthsundem writes "As described in the NY Times Economix blog, the mattress chain Sleepy's analyzed data from the National Health Interview Survey to find the ten most sleep deprived professions. In order, they are: Home Health Aides, Lawyer, Police Officers, Doctors/Paramedics, Tie: (Economists, Social Workers, Computer Programmers), Financial Analysts, Plant Operators (undefined, but we assume 'factory' and not 'Audrey II'), and Secretaries."
dcblogs writes "The science and engineering workforce in the U.S. has flatlined, according to the Population Reference Bureau. As a percentage of the total labor force, S&E workers accounted for 4.9% of the workforce in 2010, a slight decline from the three previous years when these workers accounted for 5% of the workforce. That percentage has been essentially flat for the past decade. In 2000, it stood at 5.3%. The reasons for this trend aren't clear, but one factor may be retirements. S&E workers who are 55 and older accounted for 13% of this workforce in 2005; they accounted for 18% in 2010. 'This might imply that there aren't enough young people entering the S&E labor force,' said one research analyst."
An anonymous reader writes "A privately employed solar scientist named Pete Riley estimates there's a 12 percent chance of a massive solar storm comparable to the Carrington Event in 1859 which resulted in breathtaking aurorae across the United States and other temperate regions of the globe. The electromagnetic surge from the 1859 event caused failures of telegraph systems across Europe and North America. A similar storm today could knock out power grids, GPS and communication satellites, data centers, transportation systems, and building and plumbing infrastructures and wreak $1 trillion or more of economic damage in the first year alone, according to a 2008 report from the National Academy of Sciences."
New submitter Ogi_UnixNut writes "In Venice, Italy, physicists have shown that it is possible to use two beams of incoherent radio waves, transmitted on the same frequency but encoded in two different orbital angular momentum states, to simultaneously transmit two independent radio channels. In principle this allows the implementation of an infinite number of channels in a given, fixed bandwidth, even without using polarization, multiport or dense coding techniques. It's potentially a boon for congested spectrum problems, although at the moment I suspect it would only work for directional links."
cylonlover writes "Joint implants should always be made of materials like titanium, so they can last the lifetime of the patient ... right? Well, not according to researchers at Finland's Tampere University of Technology. They've developed a product known as RegJoint, which is reportedly the world's first biodegradable joint implant. Unlike permanent implants, it allows the patient's bone ends to remain intact, and it creates a new joint out of their own tissue."
coondoggie writes "The commercialization of all manner of space technologies has always been a forte of NASA, but the space agency faces a number of economic and internal challenges if that success is to continue. A report by released this week (PDF) by NASA Inspector General Paul Martin that assesses NASA's technology commercialization efforts is highly critical of the space agency's ability to identify and get important technologies out of the lab and out the door to commercial applications."
vikingpower writes "A research group at Technical University Delft around prof. Kouwenhoven has probably not only spotted pairs of so-called Majorana Fermions for the first time (these had been predicted to exist by the Italian physicist Ettore Majorana), but also demonstrated that, by generating them at the end of an Indium-Arsenide microwire, quantum computing with them may have come one more step closer to reality. The excitement around Prof. Kouwenhoven at the American Physical Society annual congress in Boston, after he completed his presentation, was considerable.A nice illustration is provided by this newspaper article (in Dutch)."
ananyo writes "Bioethicist Glenn McGee has resigned his position as president of ethics and strategic initiatives at the stem-cell firm Celltex Therapeutics in Houston, Texas. Yesterday, Slashdot posted a story that suggested Celltex may have administered unproven treatments to several patients. The move comes at the end of a turbulent three months, which has seen McGee blasted by other bioethicists for working at the controversial stem-cell company while also holding the post of editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Bioethics, the most cited bioethics journal in the world. McGee announced that he had resigned, effective 28 February, on Twitter last night — the move came just two weeks after the 13 February press release by Celltex announcing that he would take the position."
astroengine writes "NASA had 5,408 computer security lapses in 2010 and 2011, including the March 2011 loss of a laptop computer that contained algorithms used to command and control the International Space Station, the agency's inspector general told Congress Wednesday. According to his statement (PDF), 'These incidents spanned a wide continuum from individuals testing their skill to break into NASA systems, to well-organized criminal enterprises hacking for profit, to intrusions that may have been sponsored by foreign intelligence services seeking to further their countries’ objectives.'"