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Data Storage

A Million-Year Hard Disk 394

sciencehabit writes "Pity the builders of nuclear waste repositories. They have to preserve records of what they've buried and where, not for a few years but for tens of thousands of years, perhaps even millions. Trouble is, no current storage medium lasts that long. Today, Patrick Charton of the French nuclear waste management agency ANDRA presented one possible solution to the problem: a sapphire disk inside which information is engraved using platinum. The prototype shown costs €25,000 to make, but Charton says it will survive for a million years. The aim, Charton says, is to provide 'information for future archaeologists.' But, he concedes: 'We have no idea what language to write it in.'"

Live Pictures From Inside Your Stomach 40

Dupple writes "Our own stomachs may be something of a dark mystery to most of us, but new research is revealing the surprising ways in which our guts exert control over our mood and appetite. Not many of us get the chance to watch our own stomach's digestion in action. But along with an audience at London's Science Museum, I recently watched live pictures from my own stomach as the porridge I had eaten for breakfast was churned, broken up, exposed to acid and then pushed out into my small intestine as a creamy mush called chyme."

Interviews: Ask Physicist Giovanni Organtini About the Possible Higgs Boson Disc 170

Giovanni Organtini of Italy's National Institute of Nuclear Physics (well, Instituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare) has agreed to answer questions about the recent observations of a particle consistent with the Higgs Boson. Dr. Organtini is part of the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. He is careful to note that while the researchers "[believe] that this new particle, with a mass 125 times that of a proton, is the famous Higgs boson," they "need to study that new particle more deeply in the next months to be conclusive on that. Organtini likes free software (he's written Linux device drivers, too) and has his own physics-heavy YouTube channel, mostly in Italian. Please confine questions to one per post, but feel free to ask as many as you'd like.

The Secret of Cornstarch Physics 49

sciencehabit writes "Filling a small swimming pool with cornstarch and water has long been a physicist's party trick. Step onto it slowly and you'll sink, but run across quickly and the oozy mixture will support your weight — almost as though it has turned from liquid to solid. Several reasons have been offered for the phenomenon, but now researchers believe they have the real answer. The key to figuring things out: plunging a 370-gram aluminum rod from a slingshot at around 1 meter per second into a cornstarch suspension." One meter per second doesn't seem very fast for anything launched by a slingshot, but any speed is good as long as it advances important knowledge like this.

Entrepreneur Offers Crowdfunding For Health Startups, Including His Own 35

awjourn writes "As the SEC hashes out the final rules for crowdfunding equity investments in startups, one NYC entrepreneur is jumping into an industry that popular crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter won't go anywhere near: health. His company, MedStartr, launched July 11 with six companies seeking to raise money from the crowd for their health products and services. Among them, EndoGoddess, an app diabetics can use to track their blood sugar. Even MedStartr wants to raise funding on MedStartr. But will crowdfunding fly in healthcare, and more importantly, will regulators at the FDA and SEC be on board with it?"

Melinda Gates Pledges $560 Million For Contraception 451

theodp writes "Melinda Gates has pledged $560 million as part of a campaign to expand access to contraception for women. From the article: 'The funding commitment was unveiled on Wednesday at the London Summit on Family Planning alongside pledges totaling $4.3 billion from the British government and leaders from African nations wrestling with the health and social problems brought on by high rates of unplanned pregnancy.'"

New Nanodevice Creates a Near Perfect Electron Stream 98

SchrodingerZ writes "Scientists from the National Physics Laboratory of the United Kingdom have teamed up with the University of Cambridge to create a new electron pump that creates a single electron stream. "The device drives electrical current by manipulating individual electrons, one-by-one at very high speed." The pump takes single electrons, and pushes it over a barrier with an indent for the electron to fall into, and is then sent to the opposite side of the barrier with astounding precision. "By employing this technique, the team were able to pump almost a billion electrons per second, 300 times faster than the previous record for an accurate electron pump set at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the USA in 1996." Although the current was very small (150 picoamperes), this event could cause a shift from the ampere measure of current to a smaller, more precise unit of measurement for electrical current."

Bloodsucking Parasite Named After Bob Marley 64

Hugh Pickens writes "The Christian Science Monitor reports that Gnathia marleyi, a tiny crustacean that feeds off the blood of reef-dwelling Caribbean fish, has been named in honor – for lack of a better term – of the Jamaican musician Bob Marley. Marley, who died in 1981, was an iconic exponent of the Jamaican-born music known as reggae. One of his standards is 'No Woman, No Cry.' Marley joins the 'I have a species named after me' club, which includes Barack Obama, Stephen Colbert, Mick Jagger, and Beyonce. 'I named this species, which is truly a natural wonder, after Marley because of my respect and admiration for Marley's music,' says Paul Sikkel, an assistant professor of marine ecology at Arkansas State University. 'Plus, this species is as uniquely Caribbean as was Marley.' Juvenile gnathid isopods hide within coral rubble or algae so they can launch surprise attacks on fish, and then infest them. As adults, the parasites don't eat. 'We believe that adults subsist for two to three weeks on the last feedings they had as juveniles and then die, hopefully after they have reproduced,' says Sikkel. Specimens of Gnathia marleyi will be housed indefinitely at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. 'We are currently discussing with AMNH the possibility of creating an exhibit featuring this species that could be viewed by the public.'"

Earliest Americans Arrived In Waves, DNA Study Finds 131

NotSanguine writes "Nicholas Wade of the New York Times has written an article about a new DNA study that suggests the earliest Americans arrived in three waves, not one. 'North and South America were first populated by three waves of migrants from Siberia rather than just a single migration, say researchers who have studied the whole genomes of Native Americans in South America and Canada. Some scientists assert that the Americas were peopled in one large migration from Siberia that happened about 15,000 years ago, but the new genetic research shows that this central episode was followed by at least two smaller migrations from Siberia, one by people who became the ancestors of today's Eskimos and Aleutians and another by people speaking Na-Dene, whose descendants are confined to North America.' The study, published online (paywalled), investigated geographic, linguistic and genetic diversity in native American populations."
The Military

How a 1960s Discovery In Neuroscience Spawned a Military Project 112

Harperdog writes "This is pretty fascinating: The Chronicle of Higher Ed has an article about a DARPA project that allows researchers to scan satellite photos, video, etc., and have a computer pick up differences in brain activity to tell whether an image has been seen...images that might flash by before conscious recognition. From the article: 'In a small, anonymous office in the Trump Tower, 28 floors above Wall Street, a man sits in front of a computer screen sifting through satellite images of a foreign desert. The images depict a vast, sandy emptiness, marked every so often by dunes and hills. He is searching for man-made structures: houses, compounds, airfields, any sign of civilization that might be visible from the sky. The images flash at a rate of 20 per second, so fast that before he can truly perceive the details of each landscape, it is gone. He pushes no buttons, takes no notes. His performance is near perfect.'"

Study Finds Alcohol, Not Marijuana, Is the Biggest Gateway Drug For Teens 459

An anonymous reader writes with news of a study out of the University of Florida which found that alcohol is the biggest "gateway" drug, the use of which increases the likelihood of other drug use. Quoting: "In the sample of students, alcohol also represented the most commonly used substance, with 72.2 percent of students reporting alcohol consumption at some point in their lifetime. Comparatively, 45 percent of students reported using tobacco, and 43.3 percent cited marijuana use. In addition, the drug use documented found that substance use typically begins with the most socially acceptable drugs, such as alcohol and cigarettes, then proceeds to marijuana use and finally to other illegal, harder drugs. Moreover, the study showed that students who used alcohol exhibited a significantly greater likelihood — up to 16 times — of licit and illicit substance use."

Hubble Discovers 5th Moon of Pluto 137

Stirling Newberry writes "This image shows 'P5,' the placeholder name for a fifth natural moon of Pluto, a tiny sliver that orbits ~29,000 miles from its primary in a circular orbit. Other than Charon, Hubble has been the means by which astronomers have found all of the known moons of Pluto. 'The new detection will help scientists navigate NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft through the Pluto system in 2015, when it makes an historic and long-awaited high-speed flyby of the distant world. The team is using Hubble’s powerful vision to scour the Pluto system to uncover potential hazards to the New Horizons spacecraft. Moving past the dwarf planet at a speed of 30,000 miles per hour, New Horizons could be destroyed in a collision with even a BB-shot-size piece of orbital debris.'"

Nature: Global Temperatures Are a Falling Trend 786

New submitter sosume writes "An article in Nature shows that temperatures in Roman times were actually higher than current temperatures. A team lead by Dr. Esper of the University of Mainz has researched tree rings and concluded that over the past 2,000 years, the forcing is up to four times as large as the 1.6W/m^2 net anthropogenic forcing since 1750 using evidence based on maximum latewood density data from northern Scandinavia, indicating that this cooling trend was stronger (0.31C per 1,000 years, ±0.03C) than previously reported, and demonstrated that this signature is missing in published tree-ring proxy records."

Florida Accused of Concealing Worst Tuberculosis Outbreak In 20 Years 409

NotSanguine writes "The state of Florida has been struggling for months with what the Centers for Disease Control describe as the worst tuberculosis outbreak in the United States in twenty years. Although a CDC report went out to state health officials in April encouraging them to take concerted action, the warning went largely unnoticed and nothing has been done. The public did not even learn of the outbreak until June, after a man with an active case of TB was spotted in a Jacksonville soup kitchen. The Palm Beach Post has managed to obtain records on the outbreak and the CDC report, though only after weeks of repeated requests. These documents should have been freely available under Florida's Sunshine Law."

The Swirling Vortex of Titan 45

sighted writes "New images from the robotic spacecraft Cassini show the ongoing formation of a massive vortex in the atmosphere of Saturn's planet-sized moon Titan. (See also this animation.) The same moon has recently provided tantalizing hints of an underground ocean as well. Future missions, if any are ever funded, will have plenty to explore."