theodp writes "As part of the economic stimulus program, the Obama administration put into effect a Bush-era incentive program that provides tens of billions of dollars for physicians and hospitals that make the switch to electronic records, using systems like Athenahealth [note: video advertisement] (which made U.S. CTO Todd Park a wealthy man). The goal was not only to improve efficiency and patient safety, but also to reduce health care costs. But, in reality, the move to electronic health records may be contributing to billions of dollars in higher costs for Medicare, private insurers and patients by making it easier for hospitals and physicians to bill more for their services, whether or not they provide additional care. Hospitals received $1 billion more in Medicare reimbursements in 2010 than they did five years earlier, at least in part by changing the billing codes they assign to patients in emergency rooms, according to a NY Times analysis. There are also fears that features which can be used to automatically generate detailed patient histories and clone examination findings for multiple patients make it too easy to give the appearance that more thorough exams were conducted than perhaps were. Critics say the abuses are widespread. 'It's like doping and bicycling,' said Dr. Donald W. Simborg. 'Everybody knows it's going on.'"
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shortyadamk writes "According to the Government Services Administration auction page: 'Attention GSA Auctions bidders and interested participants. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Space Shuttle Program has retired and NASA has partnered with GSA Auctions to sell the many shuttle related items through a series of auctions in 2012.' The only catch is that you must be a U.S. Citizen and schedule a visit 48 hours ahead of time to pick up your item. I'm not really sure which piece of the shuttle I'd want the most... Those robotic arms are pretty sweet."
The Bad Astronomer writes "An extremely bright meteor burned up over Ireland and the northern UK around 22:00 UTC on Friday night, and was apparently witnessed by thousands of people. It traveled east to west, and was moving relatively slowly. It may have been an actual rock, or it may have been some human-made space debris — a satellite or rocket booster — burning up. Space junk tends to move more slowly, so that's a potential suspect, though orbiting debris usually moves in the opposite direction. I'm collecting pictures and images on my Bad Astronomy blog."
New submitter mybluevan writes "The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science is putting together an open hardware spectrometer kit on Kickstarter. The kits are built using an HD webcam, discarded DVD, and a couple other odd bits. They've also put together a kit for your smart phone and open-source software for desktop, Android, and iOS. Need to analyze the contents of your coffee, the output of your new grow lights, or a distant star on a budget? Just build your own spectrometer, or pick up the limited edition steampunk version." Besides making cool hardware, they'd like to "build a Wikipedia-style library of open source spectra, and to refine and improve sample collection and analysis techniques. We imagine a kind of 'SHAZAM for materials' which can help to investigate chemical spills, diagnose crop diseases, identify contaminants in household products, and even analyze olive oil, coffee, and homebrew beer."
Today the space shuttle Endeavor completed its final ferry flight, landing in Los Angeles, California after leaving Edwards Air Force Base earlier today. The shuttle will now undergo preparations for its journey through the streets of L.A. (at a cost of 400+ trees) to its final resting place at the California Science Center. It'll go on public display October 30. Endeavor spent over 296 days in space throughout 25 missions, comprising 4,671 orbits that added up to over 197 million kilometers of travel. Slashdot's own Kaushik Acharya was at the Griffith Observatory in L.A. for the flyover, and he provided some great pictures of Endeavor's passing.
scibri writes "Think the imprisonment of Pussy Riot is a miscarriage of justice? Check out the story of their cellmate: Chemist Olga Nikolaevna Zelenina heads a laboratory at the Penza Agricultural Institute. She is an expert in the biology of hemp and poppy, and is a sought-after expert in legal cases involving narcotics produced from these plants. Last year, she was asked by defense lawyers to give her opinion in a case involving imported poppy seeds. The prosecutors didn't like her evidence though, and now she's in prison accused of complicity in organized drug trafficking."
An anonymous reader writes "Early humans were able to move from Africa after a single genetic mutation allowed them to become vegetarians, scientists claim. The switch, which allowed humans to process vegetables, meant that humans were able to move away from water sources and spread across the continent. A team of geneticists compared DNA sequences from a variety of people around the world to see how different populations relate to one another and when they have gone their separate ways. The scientists found that a key genetic variant gave humans the ability to convert fats from plants into essential nutrients for the brain."
MassDosage writes "I've always found Chemistry interesting, particularly in high school when I had the good fortune of having a Chemistry teacher who was not only really good looking, but a great teacher too. I studied it for a year at University and then moved on and haven't really given the periodic table and its elements much thought since. This changed when the Wonderful Life with the Elements was delivered to me two weeks ago. It's one of those books that aims to make science fun and, unlike many other attempts which turn out to be pretty lame, this actually succeeds in presenting the periodic table in a fresh, original and interesting manner." Read on for the rest of Mass Dosage's review.
ananyo writes "Vesta, the second-most-massive body in the asteroid belt, was thought to be bone dry. But NASA's Dawn spacecraft has found evidence that smaller, water-rich asteroids once implanted themselves in Vesta's surface. The water stays locked up in hydrated minerals until subsequent impacts create enough heat to melt the rock and release the water as a gas, leaving pitted vents in the surface. The discovery shows that yet another body in the inner Solar System has a water cycle."
Hugh Pickens writes "Joseph Walker writes at the WSJ that although personality tests have a long history in hiring, sophisticated software has now made it possible to evaluate more candidates, amass more data and peer more deeply into applicants' personal lives and interests. This allows employers to predict specific outcomes, such as whether a prospective hire will quit too soon, file disability claims, or steal. For example after a half-year trial that cut attrition by a fifth, Xerox now leaves all hiring for its 48,700 call-center jobs to software. Xerox used to pay lots of attention to applicants who had done the job before. Then, an algorithm told the company that experience doesn't matter. It determined what does matter in a good call-center worker — one who won't quit before the company recoups its $5,000 investment in training. By putting applicants through a battery of tests and then tracking their job performance, Evolv has developed a model for the ideal call-center worker (PDF). The data recommend a person who lives near the job, has reliable transportation and uses one or more social networks, but not more than four. He or she tends not to be overly inquisitive or empathetic, but is creative. 'Some of the assumptions we had weren't valid,' says Connie Harvey, Xerox's chief operating officer of commercial services. However, data-based hiring can expose companies to legal risk. Practices that even unintentionally filter out older or minority applicants can be illegal under federal equal opportunity laws. If a hiring practice is challenged in court as discriminatory, a company must show the criteria it is using are proven to predict success in the job."
Plammox writes "As Copenhagen Suborbitals continue to develop their donation-based, garage-level technology solution to manned suborbital spaceflight, they're looking to crowdfund the next space capsule design. For a mere $25, your name will fly in the next capsule test launch. $2000 will buy you a guided tour of the premises in Copenhagen. The volunteer-based organization has previously done a number of different static engine tests with spectators, and two sea launches of a launch escape system and their first big rocket."
Freshly Exhumed writes "Drawing on new data released Wednesday by the National Snow and Ice Data Center that the Arctic ice pack has melted to an all time low within the satellite record (video), NASA climate scientist James Hansen has declared the current reality a 'planetary emergency.' As pointed out by Prof. David Barber from the University of Manitoba, 'The thaw this year broke all the records that we had previous to this and it didn't just break them, it smashed them.' So, not sure why your mainstream press isn't covering this story? 'It's hard for the public to realize,' Hansen said, 'because they stick their head out the window and don't see much going on.' Thankfully, some people are noticing, as Bill McKibben's recent Rolling Stone article, Global Warming's Terrifying New Math has gone viral."
scibri writes "Your moral positions may be more flexible than you think. Researchers in Sweden have tricked people into reversing their opinions on moral issues, even to the point of constructing good arguments to support the opposite of their original positions (paper in PLOS ONE). They used a 'magic trick' to reverse a person's responses to such moral issues as 'Large-scale governmental surveillance of e-mail and Internet traffic ought to be forbidden as a means to combat international crime and terrorism,' by switching 'forbidden' to 'permitted' when the subject turned the page of the questionaire. When asked to read back the questions and answers, about half of the subjects did not detect the changes, and a full 53% of participants argued unequivocally for the opposite of their original attitude in at least one of the manipulated statements."
alphadogg writes "The Ig Nobel Prize ceremony has honored a wide array of strange research and advancement over the years, from exploding pants to woodpecker headaches to aggressive parking enforcement, and Thursday night's ceremony in Cambridge, Mass., was no exception. Particular highlights included a Russian company that turns ammunition into trace amounts of diamond, Japanese engineers who developed a speech jamming device, and research into such critical topics as why coffee is so hard to carry without slopping and what makes a ponytail move the way it does."
First time accepted submitter amkkhan writes "One lucky space-lover with some extra cash could become the proud new owner of the largest moon rock ever to be auctioned, according to the auction house Heritage Auctions. The moon rock, known as Dar al Gani 1058, is part of a lunar meteorite that was found on Earth in 1988 and is expected to fetch as much as $380,000 at auction."
SchrodingerZ writes "The nuclear power station on Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania shut down abruptly this afternoon. Its shutdown was caused when one of four coolant pumps for a reactor failed to work. 'The Unit 1 reactor shut off automatically about 2:20 p.m., the plant's owner, Exelon Corporation, reported. There is no danger to the public, but the release of steam in the process created "a loud noise heard by nearby residents," the company said.' If radiation was released into the environment, it is so low that it thus far has not been detected. The plant is a 825-megawatt pressurized water reactor, supplying power to around 800,000 homes, thought there has been no loss of electrical service. Three Mile Island was the site of a partial nuclear meltdown in 1979. The Unit 2 reactor has not been reactivated since."
pigrabbitbear writes "Is bottled beer nuclear bombproof? The United States government conducted a couple tests in the 1950s to find out—it exploded nuclear bombs with 'packaged commercial beverages' deposited at varying distances from the blast center to see if beer and soda would be safe to drink afterwards. The finding? Yep, surviving bottled and canned drinks can be consumed in the event of a nuclear holocaust, without major health risks."
RocketAcademy writes "Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two is in the final stages of preparation for powered flight. The suborbital spacecraft, built by Scaled Composites, has successfully completed airspeed, angle-of-attack, center-of-gravity, and structural tests during unpowered glide flights. It is now on track for powered glide flights by the end of this year. Meanwhile, in the hangar next door, XCOR Aerospace continues to work on the Lynx spacecraft, expected to begin powered flight tests early next year. Some exclusive photos provide a sneak peak at things to come." Also to watch for in the world of private space launches, next month (possibly as early as the 8th), SpaceX has another launch scheduled to reach the ISS.
cripkd writes "The 3rd pillar from the ELI program was given the go ahead Tuesday: 'In Romania, Magurele, the ELI pillar will focus on laser-based nuclear physics. For this purpose, an intense gamma-ray source is foreseen by coupling a high-energy particle accelerator to a high-power laser.' Here are some specs and details about why this is not your regular key-chain laser."
angry tapir writes "Researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia have created the world's first working quantum bit based on a single atom in silicon. The research team was able to both read and write information using the spin, or magnetic orientation, of an electron bound to a single phosphorous atom embedded in a silicon chip. In February, UNSW researchers revealed they had successfully created a single-atom transistor using a single phosphorous atom in a silicon crystal."