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Using Pulsars For Spacecraft Navigation 77

Jimme Blue writes "The use of pulsars as a GPS analogue holds the promise of fixing a spacecraft's location to within 5 km, anywhere in the galaxy. While not ready for immediate use, it may be ready for use within the Solar System in the next 10-15 years. From the article: '"The principle is so simple that it will definitely have applications," said Prof Werner Becker from the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching. "These pulsars are everywhere in the Universe and their flashing is so predictable that it makes such an approach really straightforward," he told BBC News.'"

Minecraft Creator Announces Space Sandbox Game Mars Effect 117

An anonymous reader writes "Notch posted the official page of Mars Effect today, saying through Twitter, 'it's a completely different game! Our takes place in space, and focuses on characters, and lets you land on planets!!' He gives more detailed on the new website, noting the game will be based around hard science fiction (think Star Trek sci-fi) and puts characters in control of a character rather than just a ship. Similar to Minecraft, it will be a free-roaming game, but with a full economic system, different planets, customizable ships, space battles against AI, and other features. There will also be an in-game, 16-bit computer. Notch also took the chance to poke fun at Mass Effect, noting it will have 'A game ending that makes sense.'"

New Engine Raises Possibility of Cheap Travel To the Moon 100

shreshtha writes with this intriguing bit from The Daily Mail: "A tiny satellite thruster which can journey to the Moon on just a tenth of a litre of fuel could usher in a new low-cost space age, its creators hope. The mini-motor weights just a few hundred grams and runs on an ionic chemical compound, using electricity to expel ions and generate thrust. The tiny motor isn't built to blast satellites into orbit — instead, it's to help spacecraft manouevre once they're in space, which previously required bulky, expensive engines."

Scientist Who Oversaw OPERA's Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Study Resigns 186

New submitter Big Hairy Ian writes with this news from the BBC: "The head of an experiment that appeared to show subatomic particles traveling faster than the speed of light has resigned from his post. Prof Antonio Ereditato oversaw results that appeared to challenge Einstein's theory that nothing could travel faster than the speed of light. Reports said some members of his group, called OPERA, had wanted him to resign. Earlier in March, a repeat experiment found that the particles, known as neutrinos, did not exceed light speed."

Studies Link Pesticides To Bee Colony Collapse Disorder 128

T Murphy writes "Neonicotinoid pesticides, designed to attack insects such as beetles and aphids, have been shown to harm bees' ability to navigate back to the hive. While initially assumed safe in low enough, non-fatal doses for bees, two papers have shown that may not be the case. Although the studies don't directly study the Colony Collapse Disorder, the scientists believe these pesticides are likely a contributing factor."

Generating Alcohol Fuels From Electrical Current and CO2 82

New submitter AcMNPV writes "A news release from UCLA describes a new process for producing biofuels using microorganisms, electrical current and carbon dioxide (abstract). Quoting: 'Liao and his team genetically engineered a lithoautotrophic microorganism known as Ralstonia eutropha H16 to produce isobutanol and 3-methyl-1-butanol in an electro-bioreactor using carbon dioxide as the sole carbon source and electricity as the sole energy input. Photosynthesis is the process of converting light energy to chemical energy and storing it in the bonds of sugar. There are two parts to photosynthesis — a light reaction and a dark reaction. The light reaction converts light energy to chemical energy and must take place in the light. The dark reaction, which converts CO2 to sugar, doesn't directly need light to occur. "We've been able to separate the light reaction from the dark reaction and instead of using biological photosynthesis, we are using solar panels to convert the sunlight to electrical energy, then to a chemical intermediate, and using that to power carbon dioxide fixation to produce the fuel," Liao said.'"
The Military

Army Reviews Controversial Drug After Afghan Massacre 195

Hugh Pickens writes "Time Magazine reports that after the massacre in which Staff Sgt. Robert Bales allegedly killed 17 civilians in Afghanistan, the Pentagon has ordered an urgent review of the use of the anti-malarial drug mefloquine, also known as Lariam, known to have severe psychiatric side effects including psychotic behavior, paranoia and hallucinations. 'One obvious question to consider is whether he was on mefloquine (Lariam), an anti-malarial medication,' writes Elspeth Cameron Ritchie in Time. 'This medication has been increasingly associated with neuropsychiatric side effects, including depression, psychosis, and suicidal ideation.' The drug has been implicated in numerous suicides and homicides, including deaths in the U.S. military. For years the military used the weekly pill to help prevent malaria among deployed troops, however in 2009 the U.S. Army nearly dropped use of mefloquine entirely because of the dangers, using it only in limited circumstances, including sometimes in Afghanistan. Army and Pentagon officials would not say whether Bales took the drug, citing privacy rules. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson has ordered a new, urgent review to make sure that troops were not getting the drug inappropriately. 'Some deployed service members may be prescribed mefloquine (PDF) for malaria prophylaxis without appropriate documentation in their medical records and without proper screening for contraindications,' the order says. It notes that this review must include troops at 'deployed locations.'"

Why Hubble Broke and How It Was Fixed 73

angry tapir writes "I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Charles (Charlie) Pellerin, who was NASA's director of astrophysics when the Hubble Space Telescope launched with its seemingly fatally flawed optical system. Pellerin went on to head up the servicing mission that finally fixed the telescope and for that was awarded NASA's highest honor, a Distinguished Service Medal. Since Hubble he has done a lot of thinking about the problems that led up to the error and how organizations can best avoid making similar mistakes."

CDC Reports 1 In 88 Children Now Affected With Autism In the US 398

An anonymous reader writes "A new government health report indicated that about one in 88 children in the United State has autism or a related disorder, the highest estimate to date, which represented an overall increase of 25 percent since the last analysis in 2006. The Centers for Disease Control reported on Thursday that the rate increased by 78 percent compared to the reported rate in 2002. From the article: '"The CDC’s new estimate of autism prevalence demands that we recognize autism as a public health emergency warranting immediate attention," Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Geri Dawson said in a new release. "More than ever, these numbers compel us to redouble our investment in the research that can reveal causes, validate effective treatments and guide the effective delivery of services to all our communities," she added.'"
Data Storage

Obama Administration Places $200 Million Bet On Big Data 72

wiredmikey writes "As the Federal Government aims to make use of the massive volume of digital data being generated on a daily basis, the Obama Administration today announced a 'Big Data Research and Development Initiative' backed by more than $200 million in commitments to start. Through the new Big Data initiative and associated monetary investments, the Obama Administration promises to greatly improve the tools and techniques needed to access, organize, and glean discoveries from huge volumes of digital data. Interestingly, as part of a number of government announcements on big data today, The National Institutes of Health announced that the world's largest set of data on human genetic variation – produced by the international 1000 Genomes Project (At 200 terabytes so far) is now freely available on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. Additionally, the Department of Defense (DoD) said it would invest approximately $250 million annually across the Military Departments in a series of programs. 'We also want to challenge industry, research universities, and non-profits to join with the Administration to make the most of the opportunities created by Big Data,' Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy at OSTP noted in a blog post. 'Clearly, the government can't do this on its own. We need what the President calls an 'all hands on deck' effort.'"

Ask Slashdot: Store Umbilical Cord Blood — and If So, Where? 321

gambit3 writes "My wife and I are expecting our first child in 3 months, and one of the decisions we still have to make is whether to store our baby's cord blood. Even if we decide the upfront cost is worth it, there is still the question of using a public bank or a private one (and which one to trust), and whether to also store umbilical cord tissue for stem cells. Does you have any experience or suggestions?"

Monster Solar Tornadoes Discovered 63

astroengine writes "For the first time, huge solar tornadoes have been filmed by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) swirling deep inside the solar corona — the sun's superheated atmosphere. But if you're imagining the pedestrian tornadoes that we experience on Earth, think again. These solar monsters, measuring the width of several Earths and swirling at speeds of up to 300,000 kilometers (190,000 miles) per hour, aren't only fascinating structures; they may also trigger violent magnetic eruptions that can have drastic effects on our planet. 'These tornadoes may help to produce favorable conditions for CMEs to occur,' said Xing Li, solar physicist at Aberystwyth University and co-discoverer of the phenomenon."
United States

Conservatives' Trust In Science Has Fallen Dramatically Since Mid-1970s 1128

An anonymous reader writes "While trust in science remained stable among people who self-identified as moderates and liberals in the United States between 1974 and 2010, trust in science fell among self-identified conservatives by more than 25 percent during the same period, according to a study by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. 'Over the last several decades, there's been an effort among those who define themselves as conservatives to clearly identify what it means to be a conservative,' said the study's lead author. 'For whatever reason, this appears to involve opposing science and universities and what is perceived as the "liberal culture." So, self-identified conservatives seem to lump these groups together and rally around the notion that what makes "us" conservatives is that we don't agree with "them."'"

Maryland Team Completes Most Extensive Face Transplant Yet 36

An anonymous reader writes "A 37-year-old man injured in a 1997 gun incident has been given a new face, teeth, tongue and jaw in what doctors say is the most extensive face transplant ever performed. The transplant was performed at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The first full face transplant was performed in France in 2005, on a woman who was mauled by her dog. In a review of the first 17 cases since then, it was found that the overall survival rate after face transplant was 88%, with only two deaths."

Researchers Create Living Human Gut-On-a-Chip 22

cylonlover writes "In an effort to provide a more accurate alternative to conventional cell culture and animal models, researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have developed a microdevice that mimics the structure, physiology, and mechanics of the human intestine. The so-called 'gut-on-a-chip' could help provide new insights into intestinal disorders and be used to evaluate the safety and efficacy of potential treatments."