stupendou writes "Australian and American physicists have built a working transistor from a single phosphorus atom embedded in a silicon crystal. The group of physicists, based at the University of New South Wales and Purdue University, said they had laid the groundwork for a futuristic quantum computer that might one day function in a nanoscale world and would be orders of magnitude smaller and quicker than today's silicon-based machines."
Hugh Pickens writes "An era begins to pass as only about 25 percent of today's American population were at least 5 years old when John Glenn climbed into the Friendship 7 Mercury capsule on Feb. 20, 1962 and became the first American to orbit the earth. This weekend John Glenn joined the proud, surviving veterans of NASA's Project Mercury to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his historic orbital flight as Glenn and Scott Carpenter, the two surviving members of the original astronaut corps, thanked the retired Mercury workers, now in their 70s and 80s, who gathered with their spouses at the Kennedy Space Center to swap stories, pose for pictures and take a bow. 'There are a lot more bald heads and gray heads in that group than others, but those are the people who did lay the foundation,' said 90-year-old Glenn. Norm Beckel Jr., a retired engineer who also was in the blockhouse that historic morning, said almost all the workers back then were in their 20s and fresh out of college. The managers were in their 30s. 'I don't know if I'd trust a 20-year-old today.' Bob Schepp, 77, was reminded by the old launch equipment of how rudimentary everything was back then. 'I wonder how we ever managed to launch anything in space with that kind of stuff,' said Schepp. 'Everything is so digital now. But we were pioneers, and we made it all work.'"
An anonymous reader sends word that Masten Space Systems' Xombie rocket has successfully demonstrated vertical takeoff and landing for NASA's Flight Opportunities Program. It was guided autonomously by the GENIE system from Draper Laboratory. "The rocket rose 164 feet, moved laterally 164 feet, and then landed on another pad after a 67-second flight. The flight represents the first step in developing a test bed capability that will allow for landing demonstrations that start at much higher altitudes-several miles above the ground." This navigation technology is laying the groundwork for future exploration of planets, moons, and asteroids.
RedEaredSlider writes "Peter Stone, associate professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, has presented an idea at the AAAS meeting today for managing intersections: a computer in a car calls ahead to the nearest intersection it is headed towards, and says it will arrive at a given time. The intersection checks to see if anyone else is arriving then, and if the slot is open, it tells the car to proceed. If it isn't, it tells the car that the car remains responsible for slowing down or stopping. He says that even with only a few connected cars, the system still works, even if the benefits are still only to those who have the connected vehicles."
Edsj writes "A spokesman for the World Health Organization announced that an agreement had been reached, after a debate, to keep details secret of the controversial work about the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu virus until deeper risk analyses have been carried out. The scientists who made the study, led by Ron Fouchier, still want to release the full paper at some future date for public viewing, but for the time being, the NSABB got what it wanted." The moratorium will be extended "probably for several months."
Hugh Pickens writes "For decades, Target has collected vast amounts of data on every person who regularly walks into one of its stores. Now the NY Times Magazine reports on how companies like Target identify those unique moments in consumers' lives when their shopping habits become particularly flexible and the right advertisement or coupon can cause them to begin spending in new ways. Among life events, none are more important than the arrival of a baby, and new parents are a retailer's holy grail. In 2002, marketers at Target asked statisticians to answer an odd question: 'If we wanted to figure out if a customer is pregnant, even if she didn't want us to know, can you do that?' Specifically, the marketers said they wanted to send specially designed ads to women in their second trimester, which is when most expectant mothers begin buying all sorts of new things, like prenatal vitamins and maternity clothing. 'We knew that if we could identify them in their second trimester, there's a good chance we could capture them for years,' says statistician Andrew Pole. 'As soon as we get them buying diapers from us, they're going to start buying everything else too.' As Pole's computers crawled through the data, he was able to identify about 25 products that, when analyzed together, allowed him to assign each shopper a 'pregnancy prediction' score and he soon had a list of tens of thousands of women who were most likely pregnant. About a year after Pole created his pregnancy-prediction model, a man walked into a Target outside Minneapolis and demanded to see the manager. He was clutching coupons that had been sent to his daughter, and he was angry. 'My daughter got this in the mail!' he said. 'She's still in high school, and you're sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?' The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again but the father was somewhat abashed. 'It turns out there's been some activities in my house I haven't been completely aware of. She's due in August. I owe you an apology.'"
kgeiger writes "Feeling blue? DARPA is funding a program to investigate the feasibility of battlefield cyborg-surrogates: 'In its 2012 budget, DARPA has decided to pour US $7 million into the 'Avatar Project,' whose goal is the following: "develop interfaces and algorithms to enable a soldier to effectively partner with a semi-autonomous bi-pedal machine and allow it to act as the soldier's surrogate."' Power and bandwidth constraints aside, what could go wrong? Chinese hackers swooping in and commandeering one's army?"
ananyo writes "DNA origami, a technique for making structures from DNA, has been used to build devices that can seek out and potentially destroy cancer cells. The nanorobots use a similar system to cells in the immune system to engage with receptors on the outside of cells. The barrel-shaped devices, each about 35 nanometers in diameter, contain 12 sites on the inside for attaching payload molecules and two positions on the outside for attaching aptamers, short nucleotide strands with special sequences for recognizing molecules on the target cell (abstract). The aptamers act as clasps: once both have found their target, they spring open the device to release the payload. The researchers tested six combinations of aptamer locks, each of which were designed to target different types of cancer cells in culture. Those designed to hit a leukemia cell could pick that cell out of a mixture of cell types, then release their payload — in this case, an antibody — to stop the cells from growing. The researchers designed the structure of the nanorobots using open-source software, called Cadnano."
An anonymous reader writes "The idea is simple — load up a microchip with a whole pharmacy of drugs that are dispensed as needed automatically. The devil has been in the details, since mistakes could kill the patient if, say, a leak developed dumping dangerous cocktails into the bloodstream. This MIT sponsored company, however, claims to have perfected wireless control of a pharmacy-on-a-chip and has just completed the clinical trials to prove it. The test microchip has just 20 doses of a single drug, but their new prototype will house thousands of pin-prick sized drug reservoirs, after which they will seek FDA approval. The elderly (who have complicated drug regime) and soldiers could both benefit from these smart pharmacies-on-a-chip, since drugs can be dispensed even if the patient is unconscious."
MrSeb writes "Two doctors at Penn State University have developed Caffeine Zone, a free iOS app that tells you the perfect time to take a coffee break to maintain an optimal amount of caffeine in your blood — and, perhaps more importantly, it also tells you when to stop drinking tea and coffee, so that caffeine doesn't interrupt your sleep. By reading through lots of peer-reviewed studies, doctors Frank E. Ritter and Kuo-Chuan Yeh found that a caffeine level of between 200 and 400mg in your bloodstream provides optimal mental alertness, and that you should be below 100mg when you try to sleep. Caffeine Zone plots your caffeination level after you consume caffeine, and warns you if that big afternoon coffee will keep you up at night. It also lets you change the 'optimal' and 'sleep' values if you're particularly resistant or weak to caffeine."
ananyo writes with this snippet from Nature (for which this earlier Nature article is also background): "'The courthouse in L'Aquila, Italy, yesterday hosted a highly anticipated hearing in the trial of six seismologists and one government official indicted for manslaughter over their reassurances to the public ahead of a deadly earthquake in 2009. .... During the hearing, the former head of the Italian Department of Civil Protection turned from key witness into defendant, and a seismologist from California criticized Italy's top earthquake experts.' Lalliana Mualchin, former chief seismologist for the Department of Transportation in California, criticized the Italian analysis, which he says was based on a poor model. If the court agrees with Mualchin, the defendants could face up to 12 years in jail."
pigrabbitbear writes "To prevent hoarding of materials and their potential for theft and illicit use, the Drug Enforcement Agency sets quotas for the chemical precursors to drugs like Adderall. The DEA projects the need for amphetamine salts, then produces and distributes the materials to pharmaceutical companies so that they can produce their drugs. But with the number of prescriptions for Adderall jumping 13 percent in the past year, pharmaceutical companies claim that the quotas are no longer sufficient for supplying Americans with their Adderall. The DEA contends that their quotas do, in fact, meet demands, and that any shortages arise from pharmaceutical companies selectively producing only certain, typically name-brand and more expensive versions of ADHD medications."
An anonymous reader writes "While doctors routinely prescribe antibiotics to treat sinus infections, researchers on Tuesday revealed that amoxicillin, the most commonly prescribed medication for nasal cavity inflammation and sinuses, was just as effective as a dummy pill. Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, found that there was no significant difference in symptoms between patients taking amoxicillin to those who took the placebo three days after starting the pills were administered."
kkleiner writes "Average life expectancy has nearly doubled in developed countries over the 20th century. But a puzzling part to the equation has emerged. While humans are in fact living longer lives on average, the oldest age that the oldest people reach seems to be stubbornly and oddly precisely cemented right at 114. What will it take for humans to live beyond this limit?"
angry tapir writes "An independent scientific committee will this week make a recommendation to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project's board of directors in London about whether the array's core should be based in Western Australia or South Africa. A further month of negotiations is likely before the countries are officially notified about whether they have won the $2.5 billion project. Once built, the SKA will be able to survey the sky 10,000 times faster than existing technology. Scientists hope the SKA will provide answers about how galaxies evolve, how the first black holes and stars were formed, and whether there is any other life in space. Cio.com.au has posted an interview with the head of Australia's bid for the project, Dr Brian Boyle."