angry tapir writes "Although earlier reports claimed that a scientific panel recommended South Africa over Australia as the best site for the proposed Square Kilometre Array, the SKA board of directors is still debating which country will host the enormous US$2.1-billion radio telescope. The scientific panel only recommended South Africa by a narrow margin earlier this month."
James Cameron is on his way down. The director's long-planned trip to the deepest spot on Earth — the Mariana Trench's Challenger Deep — is in progress; by the time you read this, if all goes well, Cameron will be navigating around in depths unvisited since 1960. National Geographic's coverage of the dive is excellent as well, as is the BBC's (with video).
An anonymous reader writes "China said that it planned to end the practice of taking organs from executed prisoners within five years, according to the state media report on Friday. Instead, China's vice minister of health Dr. Huang Jiefu said that the country will rely on a new national donation system for organ transplants at a conference in the city of Hangzhou on Thursday."
techfun89 writes "Mars has returned to our evening skies as it does every two years. This time it is getting even more attention and buzz than it normally would. Amateur astronomer Wayne Jaeschke of West Chester Pennsylvania noticed an unusual protrusion in the planet's southern hemisphere, preceding the sunrise terminator. Several things may have contributed to this strange 'cloud formation.' One possibility is a meteoric impact event, where dust was spewed up into the atmosphere. Another could be a major dust storm, which are typical on Mars. Of course, it could be something more mundane; that these observations were caused by a mere optical illusion via a type of glint that occurred due to having just the right combination of lighting and atmospheric conditions. Some suggest volcanic activity, though this is unlikely given it has been 20 to 200 million years since lava has flowed on Mars."
According to a story from CNN, "A piece of a debris from a Russian Cosmos satellite passed close enough to the International Space Station on Saturday that its crew was ordered into escape capsules as a precaution, NASA said. The six crew members were told to take shelter late Friday in their Soyuz capsules after it was determined there was a small possibility the debris could hit the station, the U.S. space agency said in a statement." This isn't the first time it's happened, either. The escape capsules (actually, they're Soyuz spacecraft) must be nice to have on hand, but I'd hate to have to test their efficacy.
An anonymous reader writes "NASA's Kepler mission has discovered 11 new planetary systems hosting 26 confirmed planets. These discoveries nearly double the number of verified planets and triple the number of stars known to have more than one planet that transits, or passes in front of, the star. Such systems will help astronomers better understand how planets form."
cold fjord writes "Red wine is a popular marinade for meat, but it also may become a popular treatment for creating iron-based superconductors as well (Link to academic paper): 'Last year, a group of Japanese physicists grabbed headlines around the world by announcing that they could induce superconductivity in a sample of iron telluride by soaking it in red wine. They found that other alcoholic drinks also worked — white wine, beer, sake and so on — but red wine was by far the best. The question, of course, is why. What is it about red wine that does the trick? Today, these guys provide an answer — at least in part. Keita Deguchi at the National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, Japan, and a few buddies, say the mystery ingredient is tartaric acid and have the experimental data to show that it plays an important role in the process. ... It turns out the best performer is a wine made from the gamay grape — for the connoisseurs, that's a 2009 Beajoulais from the Paul Beaudet winery in central France.'"
An anonymous reader writes with this selection from a press release issued by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics: "Astronomers have begun to blast 3 million cubic feet of rock from a mountaintop in the Chilean Andes to make room for what will be the world's largest telescope when completed near the end of the decade. The telescope will be located at the Carnegie Institution's Las Campanas Observatory-one of the world's premier astronomical sites, known for its pristine conditions and clear, dark skies. Over the next few months, more than 70 controlled blasts will break up the rock while leaving a solid bedrock foundation for the telescope and its precision scientific instruments."
ananyo writes "Exposure to germs in childhood is thought to help strengthen the immune system and protect children from developing allergies and asthma, but the pathways by which this occurs have been unclear. Now, researchers have identified a mechanism in mice that may explain the role of exposure to microbes in the development of asthma and ulcerative colitis, a common form of inflammatory bowel disease. The researchers show that in mice, exposure to microbes in early life can reduce the body's inventory of invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells, which help to fight infection but can also turn on the body, causing a range of disorders such as asthma or inflammatory bowel disease (abstract). The study supports the 'hygiene hypothesis,' which contends that such auto-immune diseases are more common in the developed world where the prevalence of antibiotics and antibacterials reduce children's exposure to microbes."
silentbrad sends this snippet from PCGamer: "After stepping back as lead designer of Minecraft earlier this year, Notch has been considering what to do next. ... While he's still deciding exactly what he wants to work on, he told us that he'd quite like to do a sandbox space trading game like Elite, 'except done right.' Notch is aiming for something with a bit more character than the classic trading sim. Instead of being the spaceship, you'd be a character inside the spaceship. 'I want the space game that's more like Firefly,' he said. 'I want to run around on my ship and have to put out a fire. Like, oh crap, the cooling system failed, I have to put out the fire here.' He hasn't decided to make the game yet, and doesn't mind if someone else takes up the reins. 'If someone steals the idea before me, that's totally fine. I just want to play that game,' he said."
New submitter schrodingersGato writes "Researchers at the Los Alamos campus of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory achieved a record-setting 100.75 Tesla magnetic field. To do this, scientists placed a resistive magnet (a sophisticated electromagnet) coupled to massive bank of capacitors within another magnet fixed at a 'lower' magnetic field. A short-lived pulse two million times stronger than the Earth's magnetic field was generated. The magnet itself made an eerie sound as it was energized (video). Prepare for the birth of Magneto!"
itwbennett writes "High demand, high prices, and nearly identical cheaper alternatives is a recipe for fraud. Eel fraud, that is. This has led Japanese researchers to develop a method to cheaply and quickly batch-test DNA by taking small tissue samples from thousands of eels. 'If a non-local eel is found in a batch, more tests will be performed to find the guilty foreigner.'"
An anonymous reader writes "According to new study published in Nature (abstract), MIT researchers have figured out how to trigger specific memories in rats by hitting certain neurons with a pulse of light. From the article: 'The researchers first identified a specific set of brain cells in the hippocampus that were active only when a mouse was learning about a new environment. They determined which genes were activated in those cells, and coupled them with the gene for channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2), a light-activated protein used in optogenetics. ... The light-activated protein would only be expressed in the neurons involved in experiential learning — an ingenious way to allow for labeling of the physical network of neurons associated with a specific memory engram for a specific experience. Finally, the mice entered an environment and, after a few minutes of exploration, received a mild foot shock, learning to fear the particular environment in which the shock occurred. The brain cells activated during this fear conditioning became tagged with ChR2. Later, when exposed to triggering pulses of light in a completely different environment, the neurons involved in the fear memory switched on — and the mice quickly entered a defensive, immobile crouch.'"
Hugh Pickens writes "David Mielach reports on a new study which finds that women in management positions lead in a more democratic way, allowing employees to participate in decision-making and establishing interpersonal channels of communication. 'In line with known gender differences in individual leadership, we find that in workplaces with more women managers, more individualized employee feedback is carried out,' says study author Eduardo Melero. 'Likewise, we can see evidence, although weaker, that in these workplaces decisions are made more democratically and more interpersonal channels of communications are established.' The research was based on data from the Workplace Employment Relationships Survey, a survey of workplaces in the United Kingdom. Melero analyzed this data by looking at the number of women in management positions in companies and the leadership tactics employed at those companies. He found increased communication between management and employees in companies with women in management positions led to more well-informed decisions, since employee feedback will be utilized in the decision-making process. Still, correlation does not equal causation. 'One might question the direction of the relation: is it women managers who are the behind these policies, or is it that more progressive organizations are more accessible for women leaders than other workplaces (PDF)?'"
ananyo writes "Researchers have made a cloak that can hide objects from static magnetic fields, realizing a theoretical prediction they made last year. This 'antimagnet' could have medical applications, but could also be used to subvert airport security. The cloak's interior is lined with turns of tape made from a high-temperature superconductor. Superconductors repel magnetic fields, so any magnetic field enclosed within a superconductor would be undetectable from outside. But the superconductor itself would still perturb an external magnetic field, so the researchers coated its external side with an ordinary ferromagnet. The superconductor tries to repel external field lines, whereas the ferromagnet tries to draw them in — together, the two layers cancel each other out (abstract)."