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Obama Budget Asks For 1% Boost In Research 351

sciencehabit sends this excerpt from ScienceInsider: "One of the big three research agencies appears to be lagging behind its doubling peers in the president's 2013 budget request released this morning. The $4.9 billion budget of the Department of Energy's Office of Science would rise by 2.4%, to $5 billion. In contrast, the National Science Foundation would receive a nearly 5% boost, to $7.37 billion, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology a hike of 13%, to $860 million. These three agencies were originally singled by President George W. Bush in 2006 for a 10-year budget doubling, a promise that President Barack Obama and Congress have repeatedly endorsed despite the current tough economic times. ... Obama is asking for a 1% increase in overall federal spending on research, to $140 billion. Within that total, the White House seeks a similar 1% hike in the $30 billion devoted to basic research."

New Horizons: One Billion Miles From Pluto 135

astroengine writes "On Feb. 10, NASA's Pluto-bound New Horizons probe entered the homestretch of its mission. When you are sprinting across the solar system, 'homestretch' is the final 1 billion miles of your journey. That sounds like quite a long stretch! But the half-ton spacecraft has already logged 2 billion miles since its launch in early 2006. That's twice the distance between Earth and Saturn. Though the icy dwarf planet is still three years away from its close encounter, mission scientists call this the Late Cruise phase of the flight."

LHC Powers Up To 4 TeV 142

An anonymous reader writes "Due to a decision made at Chamonix, the LHC will operate with a 4 TeV beam energy in 2012. This will allow them to collect as much data as possible (15 inverse femtobarns for ATLAS and CMS) before the whole accelerator complex gets shut down for about 20 months to prepare for even higher energies. 'By the time the LHC goes into its first long stop at the end of this year, we will either know that a Higgs particle exists or have ruled out the existence of a Standard Model Higgs,' said CERN's Research Director, Sergio Bertolucci. 'Either would be a major advance in our exploration of nature, bringing us closer to understanding how the fundamental particles acquire their mass, and marking the beginning of a new chapter in particle physics.'"

NASA Considers Privatizing GALEX Astrophysics Satellite 71

hogghogg writes "The GALEX spacecraft (surveying the Universe in ultraviolet wavelengths at which the atmosphere is close to opaque) is coming to the end of its budget life, but it hasn't finished imaging the entire sky and is still (fairly) functional. A group at Caltech wants to keep it running, so NASA is considering transfer of ownership under the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act, which 'allows the transfer of government-owned excess research equipment to educational institutions and non-profit organizations.' Many NASA missions are terminated for budget reasons at the end of a prescribed period, even while the hardware is still highly functional. Although this is the first-ever transfer from NASA of a functioning satellite, maybe this is just the start for a class of privately run astronomical and Earth-observing facilities in space?"

NASA Unplugs Its Last Mainframe 230

coondoggie writes "It's somewhat hard to imagine that NASA doesn't need the computing power of an IBM mainframe any more, but NASA's CIO posted on her blog today that at the end of the month, the Big Iron will be no more at the space agency. NASA CIO Linda Cureton wrote: 'This month marks the end of an era in NASA computing. Marshall Space Flight Center powered down NASA's last mainframe, the IBM Z9 Mainframe.'"

Boiling Down the Meaning of Life 218

Shipud writes "A recent article in Journal of Biomolecular structure and Dynamics proposes to define life by semantic voting [Note: open-access article]: 'The definitions of life are more than often in conflict with one another. Undeniably, however, most of them do have a point, one or another or several, and common sense suggests that, probably, one could arrive to a consensus, if only the authors, some two centuries apart from one another, could be brought together. One thing, however, can be done – short of voting in absentia – asking which terms in the definitions are the most frequent and, thus, perhaps, reflecting the most important points shared by many.' The author arrives at a six-word definition, as explained here."

Sergey: In Soviet Russia, Rocket Detonates You! 146

theodp writes "'We were all foolish enough to go on this adventure,' Google co-founder Sergey Brin told the assembled Brainiacs at Google's Solve for X event last week, recalling the time he and Google co-founder Larry Page took their Gulfstream on a $100K journey to watch a 2008 Soyuz launch in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. 'If the rocket blows up, we're all dead,' Sergey overheard a Russian guard say. 'It was incredibly close,' Sergey continued. 'We drove in toward this rocket and there were hundreds of people all going the other way. It was really an astonishing sight. If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend it. It's really not at all comparable to the American launches that I've seen...because those are like five miles away behind a mountain, and the Russians are not as concerned with safety.' Sergey received film credit for the recently-opened Man on a Mission, a documentary on the Russian Soyuz mission that wound up putting Ultima creator Richard Garriott into orbit (for $30 million) instead of changing the course of Google history."

NASA To Drastically Cut Mars Mission Funding 191

DesScorp writes "Faced with budget cuts, and forced to choose between deep space observation or a mission to Mars, CBS reports that NASA will kill most of its Mars exploration programs. Sources in NASA say that of the $300 million being cut from the space agency's budget, two-thirds were for a joint US-EU program for Martian exploration. NASA spokesman David Weaver said that, just like the rest of the federal government, the space agency has to make 'tough choices and live within our means.'"

FDA Unveils Biosimilars Guidance 30

ananyo writes "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released its long-anticipated draft guidance for drug makers interested in making generic forms of biological drugs such as enzymes and antibodies. The move could open the door for cheaper versions of some of medicine's most expensive drugs, but it is still unclear how many companies will be willing to tackle the challenges and uncertainties of making 'biosimilar' drugs. Copying biological molecules is a stickier proposition than making ordinary generic medicines because proteins are typically much larger and more complex than small molecule drugs. They are also often produced in cell cultures, and even small variations in how the cells are grown can change the properties of the protein produced."

Researchers, Biosecurity Board Debate How Open Virus Research Should Be 66

New submitter rackeer writes "Exchanging research results is at the heart of the scientific method. However, there are concerns about whether investigations of pandemics, which possibly constitute a threat to the whole population of earth, should be shared. The debate about research on the avian flu was discussed on Slashdot before. Now the main parties have their own two cents to say. On-line at the journal Science are commentaries both by authors of the paper in question, who went ahead with the publication, and by the national advisory board for biosecurity, which advised against publishing."

Skin Cancer Drug Reverses Alzheimer's Symptoms In Mice 94

An anonymous reader writes "A skin cancer drug may rapidly reverse pathological, cognitive and memory deterioration associated with Alzheimer's disease, according to new research published on Thursday. Bexarotene, a drug that is currently used to combat T cell lymphoma, appeared to reverse plaque buildup and improve memory in the brains of mice with Alzheimer's disease by reducing levels of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that cause mental deficits in Alzheimer's disease."

NASA Wants Green Rocket Fuel 185

coondoggie writes "NASA is looking for technology that could offer green rocket fuel alternatives to the highly toxic fuel hydrazine used to fire up most rockets today. According to NASA: 'Hydrazine is an efficient and ubiquitous propellant that can be stored for long periods of time, but is also highly corrosive and toxic.' It is used extensively on commercial and defense department satellites as well as for NASA science and exploration missions."

The Himalayas and Nearby Peaks Have Lost No Ice In Past 10 Years, Study Shows 409

DesScorp writes "A story from UK's Guardian reports on a study of ice levels from the Himalayas area, and finds that no significant melting has occurred, despite earlier predictions of losses of up to 50 billion tons of ice. 'The very unexpected result was the negligible mass loss from high mountain Asia, which is not significantly different from zero,' said Professor Jonathan Bamber, who also warns that 8 years simply isn't enough time to draw conclusions. 'It is awfully dangerous to take an eight-year record and predict even the next eight years, let alone the next century,' he said." Readers have sent in a few other stories today relating to melting (or persisting) ice around the globe; read on for more.

Mild Electric Shock To Brain May Boost Spatial Memory 65

An anonymous reader writes "A mild electrical shock to the brain before learning a new task may enhance memory, researchers reported on Wednesday. A team of neuroscientists demonstrated that electrical stimulation to a critical junction in the brain appeared to boost memory in a few patients with epilepsy, a surprising finding that have implications for Alzheimer's disease treatment."
The Internet

Therapy Over IP Draws the Young, Isolated 93

Lucas123 writes "Psychiatrists say VoIP technology is more popular with patients than even in-person therapy when it comes to counseling — especially for their younger patients who are less intimidated by it. Along with many patients who like the convenience, telepsychiatry is a necessity for others who live in rural areas or are in, prisons, nursing homes or hospital ICUs. 'We've had just over 60,000 patient encounters. To my knowledge, only six have refused to be seen via teleconferencing,' said Dr. Avrim Fishkind, an emergency psychiatrist. 'We're tailor made for telemedicine because we don't check people's livers. We just talk.'" I wonder whether Eliza can be sued for practicing medicine without a license.