An anonymous reader writes "You don't hear too much about biological computing but in research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists reveal they have devised the genetic equivalent of a binary digit (full article, freely available) — a 'bit' in data parlance. 'It took us three years and 750 tries to make it work, but we finally did it,' according to Jerome Bonnet, of research which describes, a method for repeatedly encoding, storing and erasing digital data within the DNA of living cells."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
An anonymous reader writes "A man with one clock knows what time it is, goes the old saw, a man with two is never sure. Imagine the confusion, then, experienced by a doctor with dozens. Julian Goldman is an anaesthetist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. After beginning to administer blood-thinning medication during an urgent neurological procedure in 2005, Mr Goldman noticed that the EMR had recorded him checking the level of clotting 22 minutes earlier. As a result, four hospitals in the northeast had their medical devices checked, and found that on average they were off by 24 minutes. The easy solution that devices could have used since 1985? NTP."
ananyo writes "Vladimir Popovkin, the head of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, has said that Russia will pursue extensive, long-lived operations at the Moon's surface. 'We're not talking about repeating what mankind achieved 40 years ago,' Popovkin said, through a translator at the Global Space Exploration Conference in Washington DC. 'We're talking about establishing permanent bases.' The heads of the space agencies for Europe, Canada and Russia, along with senior representatives from the space agencies of India and Japan were in Washington DC talking about the benefits of international collaboration. JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency, also issued a clear pronouncement about targeting the Moon."
redletterdave writes with an update to news from a few months ago that France had banned the growing of Monsanto's genetically modified corn. After reviewing the evidence France submitted in support of the ban, the European Food Safety Authority has now rejected it. An official opinion (PDF) stated that they "could not identify any new science-based evidence indicating that maize MON 810 cultivation in the EU poses a significant and imminent risk to the human and animal health or the environment."
New submitter dougled writes "A study at six universities found that students taught statistics mainly through software learned as much as peers taught primarily by humans. And the robots got the job done more quickly. '... our results indicate that hybrid-format students took about one-quarter less time to achieve essentially the same learning outcomes as traditional-format students.' They add, 'There is every reason to expect these systems to improve over time, perhaps dramatically, and thus it is not foolish to believe that learning outcomes will also improve.'"
Tuesday morning at 0344, right on schedule (and it had to be right on schedule), Elon Musk's baby finally left the launch pad on its way to the International Space Station (ISS). Two babies, actually: the Falcon 9 launch vehicle is what we watched as it took off from Cape Canaveral -- the first private spaceship headed for the ISS -- with the Dragon spacecraft perched on its nose. The Dragon carried over 1000 pounds of supplies and experiments for the ISS. The launch went off without a hitch. But don't stop holding your breath quite yet; Dragon isn't scheduled to dock at the ISS until Friday.
MistrX writes with a tidbit about what the Cassini probe is up to nowadays. From the article: "NASA's Cassini spacecraft made its closest approach to Saturn's tiny moon Methone as part of a trajectory that will take it on a close flyby of another of Saturn's moons, Titan. The Titan flyby will put the spacecraft in an orbit around Saturn that is inclined, or tilted, relative to the plane of the planet's equator. The flyby of Methone took place on May 20 at a distance of about 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers). It was Cassini's closest flyby of the 2-mile-wide (3-kilometer-wide) moon. The best previous Cassini images were taken on June 8, 2005, at a distance of about 140,000 miles (225,000 kilometers), and they barely resolved this object."
cylonlover writes, quoting Gizmag: "Generally speaking, companies developing suborbital manned vehicles brag about how much elbow room their spacecraft will provide passengers. They say there will be plenty of room to float around during the weightless portion of the flight, that there will be no fighting for windows, that passengers will comfortably endure the high-g portions of the flight ... and then there's Copenhagen Suborbitals' Tycho Brahe. CS's Tycho Brahe is a one-passenger capsule intended for a purely ballistic flight to a peak altitude approaching 100 miles. The passenger is just along for the ride, with no mechanism to steer or otherwise pilot the capsule."
scibri writes "During the latter half of the twentieth century, global sea level rose by about 1.8 millimeters per year. The combined contribution from heating of the oceans, which makes the water expand, along with melting of ice caps and glaciers, is estimated to be 1.1 millimeters per year, which left some 0.7 millimeters per year unaccounted for. It seems that the effects of human water use on land could fill that gap. Researchers report in Nature Geoscience that land-based water storage could account for 0.77 millimeters per year, or 42%, of the observed sea-level rise between 1961 and 2003. The extraction of groundwater for irrigation and home and industrial use, with subsequent run-off to rivers and eventually to the oceans, represents the bulk of the contribution. It would be even worse if we weren't also locking up lots of water from rivers behind dams like the Hoover Dam."
dstates writes "You paid for it, you should be able to read the results of publicly funded research. The National Institutes of Health have had a very successful open access mandate requiring that the results of federally funded biomedical research be published in open access journals. Now there is a White House petition to broaden this mandate. This is a jobs issue. Startups and midsize business need access to federally funded technology research. It is a health care issue, patients and community health providers need access, not a few scientists in well funded research institutes, and even wealthy institutions like Harvard are finding the prices of proprietary journals unsustainable."
Velcroman1 writes "A Maryland student was awarded the top prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair on Friday for developing a urine and blood test that detects pancreatic cancer with 90 percent accuracy. Jack Andraka, 15, claimed the $75,000 prize for his test, which is roughly 28 times cheaper and faster, and over 100 times more sensitive than current tests. Each year, approximately 7 million high school students around the globe develop original research projects and present their work at local science fairs with the hope of winning."
ananyo writes "From the Nature story: 'Scientists from Archimedes to Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein are said to have had flashes of inspiration while thinking about other things. But the mechanisms behind this psychological phenomenon have remained unclear. A study now suggests that simply taking a break does not bring on inspiration — rather, creativity is fostered by tasks that allow the mind to wander.' The researchers gave 145 students 2 minutes to list as many possible uses for an everyday object (the creative thinking task). Participants then either rested, undertook a demanding memory activity that required their full attention or engaged in an undemanding reaction-time activity known to elicit mind-wandering. A fourth group of students had no break. The researchers then set the students a second set of unusual-uses tasks and found those that had, in the interim, been set the undemanding task that encouraged mind-wandering performed an average of around 40% better than they did before. The students in the other three groups showed no improvement."
dsinc writes "Forbes' Alex Knapp writes about the Tesla idolatry and confusing his genius for godhood: 'Tesla wasn't an ignored god-hero. Thomas Edison wasn't the devil. They were both brilliant, strong-willed men who helped build our modern world. They both did great things and awful things. They were both brilliantly right about some things and just as brilliantly wrong about others. They had foibles, quirks, passions, misunderstandings and moments of wonder.'"
New submitter Trubacca writes "The Northern-Pacific "Ring of Fire" has an opportunity tonight to observe an entirely different "ring of fire": an annular solar eclipse where the moon, owing to its distance from the Earth, seems smaller than the apparent diameter of the sun. This results in the fiery ring for which the phenomenon takes its name. Space.com has a decent write-up on the path of the eclipse, times, and tips for safe-viewing."
An anonymous reader writes "3 graduate students from University of Tokyo, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Tsukuba have developed a colloidal display — a clear projector screen that can control its transparency. Normally soap film will allow light to pass through, but the colloidal display does not. It mixes colloid into the solution and uses ultra sonic speakers to vibrate the surface of the soap film to achieve this. They have created several prototypes, such as 3D planar screen, to show how this technology can be useful."