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Warmest 12-Month Period Recorded In US 297

First time accepted submitter seanzig writes "Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground provides a good overview of the State of the Climate Report from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). May 2011 through Apr. 2012 broke the previous record (Nov. 1999 — Oct. 2000). A number of other interesting records (e.g., warmest March on record) and stats emerged. It just presents the data and does not surmise anything about the causes or what should be done about it."

Book Review: Fitness For Geeks 201

jsuda writes "You would think that geeks would be as interested in fitness as dogs are of TV. After all, geeks already put in hours of finger dancing on keyboards, assembling hefty code fragments, and juggling PHP programming functions. Although intended, in part, as a guide to real physical fitness the book, Fitness for Geeks, entices geeks with what they are really interested in–the science of fitness, nutrition, and exercise. In 11 chapters over 311 pages (including notes and an index) author, Bruce W Perry, describes in great detail the science of fitness and all of its components–food selections, timings, and fastings; exercising of all types; sleep, rest, and meditation; the benefits of hormesis (shocking the body with stresses); and the benefits of natural sunlight." Read on for the rest of jsuda's review.

The Encyclopedia of Life Passes the 1 Million Page Mark 23

Chuckles08 writes "The Encyclopedia of Life project, an online resource aggregating information about all life on Earth, now has over 1 million taxon pages with content. All content is licensed under a Creative Commons license and includes text, over 1.5 million images, video, and sounds. It's an amazing resource for educators since the information is curated and rated. EOL also develops tools to make the content even more accessible, like the field guide tool that lets you build a customized online (and printable) field guide about any group of species or higher taxa."

Israel Passes Photoshop Law To Combat Anorexia 488

Hugh Pickens writes "The Atlantic reports that the Israeli parliament has passed legislation that prohibits fashion media and advertising with models who fall below the World Health Organization's standard for malnutrition banning underweight models as determined by Body Mass Index. The new law also stipulates that any ad which uses airbrushing, computer editing, or any other form of Photoshop editing to create a slimmer model must clearly state that fact. Advertising campaigns created outside of Israel must comply with the legislation's standards in order to appear in Israel. 'I realized that only legislation can change the situation,' says Rachel Adato, an Israeli parliament member with a background in medicine. 'There was no time to educate so many people, and the change had be forced on the industry. There was no time to waste, so many girls were dieting to death.' The measure has been controversial within Israel for raising the question of where free speech bumps up against the fashion industry's responsibility — and its possible harm — to its customers' psychological well-being. Donald Downs, a professor at the University of Wisconsin and an expert on the First Amendment, says that it would be very tough to pass something like Israel's law in the US Congress. 'In the US, it would be hard to justify this type of law on either legal or normative policy grounds,' says Downs. 'The Israeli law is paternalistic in that it prohibits something because of the effect it might have on others in the longer term.'"

Mini Mammoth Once Roamed Crete 50

ananyo writes "Scientists can now add a 'dwarf mammoth' to the list of biological oxymorons that includes the jumbo shrimp and pygmy whale. Studies of fossils discovered last year on the island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea reveal that an extinct species once thought to be a diminutive elephant was actually the smallest mammoth known to have existed — which, as an adult, stood no taller than a modern newborn elephant (abstract). The species is the most extreme example of insular dwarfism yet found in mammoths."

The Rise of Chemophobia In the News 463

eldavojohn writes "American news outlets like The New York Times seem to thrive on chemophobia — consumer fear of the ambiguous concept of 'chemicals.' As a result, Pulitzer-prize winning science writer Deborah Blum has decided to call out New York Times journalist Nicholas Kirstof for his secondary crusade (she notes he is an admirable journalist in other realms) against chemicals. She's quick to point out the absurdity of fearing chemicals like Hydrogen which could be a puzzler considering its integral role played in life-giving water as well as life-destroying hydrogen cyanide. Another example is O2 versus O3. Blum calls upon journalists to be more specific, to avoid the use of vague terms like 'toxin' let alone 'chemical' and instead inform the public with lengthy chemical names like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) instead of omitting the actual culprit altogether. Kristof has, of course, resorted to calling makers of these specific compounds 'Big Chem' and Blum chastises his poorly researched reporting along with chemophobic lingo. Chemists of Slashdot, have you found reporting on 'chemicals' to be as poor as Blum alleges or is this no more erroneous than any scare tactic used to move newspapers and garner eyeballs?"

Anti-WiFi Wallpaper Available Next Year 167

hypnosec writes with good news for folks who want to live in a Faraday cage. From the article: "A new type of wallpaper, which has been developed by scientists from the Institut Polytechnique Grenoble INP and the Centre Technique du Papier, will go on sale in 2013 after a Finnish firm Ahlstrom acquired the license. What looks like a bog-standard wallpaper roll actually contains silver particles that allows it to filter out up to three different frequencies simultaneously. It is not the first time that such a technology has surfaced. Back in 2004, BAE Systems was tasked by Ofcom to come up with a similar solution based on what was then called a stealth wallpaper. It used copper instead of silver and blocked Wi-Fi signals while letting GSM, 4G and emergency calls through. Back then, though, a square meter cost £500, whereas the Wi-Fi wallpaper devised by the French researchers should be priced reasonably, with costs matching those of a 'classic,' mid-range wallpaper according to M. Lemaître-Auger, from Grenoble INP."

Jars of Irradiated Russian Animals Find a New Purpose 86

scibri writes with bits and pieces from the article: "From the early 1950s to the end of the cold war, nearly 250,000 animals were systematically irradiated in the Russian town of Ozersk. Fearful of a nuclear attack by the United States, the Soviet Union wanted to understand how radiation damages tissues and causes diseases such as cancer. Now, these archives have become important to a new generation of radiobiologists, who want to explore the effects of the extremely low doses of radiation — below 100 millisieverts — that people receive during medical procedures such as computed-tomography diagnostic scans, and by living close to the damaged Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan."

Gamma-Ray Bending Opens New Door For Optics 65

sciencehabit writes "Lenses are a part of everyday life—they help us focus on words on a page, the light from stars, and the tiniest details of microorganisms. But making a lens for highly energetic light known as gamma rays had been thought impossible. Now, physicists have created such a lens, and they believe it will open up a new field of gamma-ray optics for medical imaging, detecting illicit nuclear material, and getting rid of nuclear waste."

A Boost For Quantum Reality 241

Eponymous Hero sends this excerpt from Nature: "The philosophical status of the wavefunction — the entity that determines the probability of different outcomes of measurements on quantum-mechanical particles — would seem to be an unlikely subject for emotional debate. Yet online discussion of a paper claiming to show mathematically that the wavefunction is real has ranged from ardently star-struck to downright vitriolic since the article was first released as a preprint in November 2011. ... [The authors] say that the mathematics leaves no doubt that the wavefunction is not just a statistical tool, but rather, a real, objective state of a quantum system."

SciRuby: Science and Matrix Libraries For Ruby 138

Aciel writes "Ruby has long been popular in the web/business community, while Python dominates the scientific community. One new project seeks to bring balance to the force: SciRuby. We've already introduced a linear algebra library called NMatrix (currently alpha status). There's at least one fellowship available for students interested in working on the project this summer."

Astronomers See the Glow of a Boiling Planet 56

The Bad Astronomer writes "For the first time, astronomers have detected the light from a 'super-Earth' exoplanet. The planet 55 Cancri e (with twice the radius and 8 times the mass of Earth) circles its host star every 18 hours, and is so hot it glows in the infrared. By observing in that wavelength, the astronomers measured the dip in light as the planet's glow was blocked by the star itself. This is the reverse of the usual method of detecting a planet as it blocks the light of its host star."

Microsoft Makes Ambitious Carbon Neutral Pledge 178

Qedward writes "Chief operating officer Kevin Turner says Microsoft will be 'carbon neutral across all our direct operations including data centers, software development labs, air travel, and office buildings' from July 1, the start of the 2012 fiscal year. Turner added: 'We are hopeful that our decision will encourage other companies, large and small, to look at what they can do to address this important issue."

TSA's mm-Wave Body Scanner Breaks Diabetic Teen's $10K Insulin Pump 811

OverTheGeicoE writes "Savannah Barry, a Colorado teenager, was returning home from a conference in Salt Lake City. She is a diabetic and wears an insulin pump to control her insulin levels 24/7. She carries documentation of her condition to assist screeners, who usually give her a pat-down search. This time the screeners listened to her story, read her doctor's letter, and forced her to go through a millimeter-wave body scanner anyway. The insulin pump stopped working correctly, and of course, she was subjected to an invasive manual search. 'My life is pretty much in their hands when I go through a body scan with my insulin pump on,' she says. She wants TSA screeners to have more training. Was this a predictable outcome, considering that no one outside TSA has access to millimeter-wave scanners for testing? Would oversight from the FDA or FCC prevent similar incidents from happening in the future?"

Tidal Heating Shrinks Goldilocks Zone Around Red Dwarfs 70

scibri writes "An overlooked factor could shrink the habitable zone for planets around M-class dwarf stars by as much as 50%. For these smaller, cooler stars, the habitable zone was thought to extend to relatively close orbits. But as you get closer to a star, the tidal force it exerts on a planet increases. Since planets do not have perfectly circular orbits, tidal forces cause the planet to flex and unflex each time it moves closer to or further from its star; kneading its interior to produce massive quantities of frictional heat — enough to scour the planet of any liquid water. Because M-class dwarf stars are the most numerous in the galaxy, and close-in planets are easier to spot than more distant ones, such stars have been a major target for planet hunters seeking Earth-like worlds. But now it seems we may have been looking in the wrong place for Earth's twin."