Esther Schindler writes "When Star Trek hit the air waves, talking computers were just a pipe dream. While teleportation remains elusive, several once-fictional technologies are changing the way people live and work. Here are some ways in which we're approaching the gizmos that Star Trek demonstrated. Speech recognition? Check. Holodeck? Sort of. Replicator? Workin' on it."
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puddingebola sends this excerpt from an article at ScienceNow: "Scientists have enabled deaf gerbils to hear again — with the help of transplanted cells that develop into nerves that can transmit auditory information from the ears to the brain. The advance, reported today in Nature, could be the basis for a therapy to treat various kinds of hearing loss. ... Rivolta and his colleagues knew that during embryonic development, a handful of proteins, including fibroblast growth factor (FGF) 3 and 10, are required for ears to form. So they exposed human embryonic stem cells to FGF3 and FGF10. Multiple types of cells formed, including precursor inner-ear hair cells, but they were also able to identify and isolate the cells beginning to differentiate into the desired spiral ganglion neurons. Then, they implanted the neuron precursor cells into the ears of gerbils with damaged ear neurons and followed the animals for 10 weeks. The function of the neurons was restored.'"
vu1986 writes "Kaggle has a 'predictive-modeling competition platform that makes public the competitors in invite-only private competitions. Think of it like watching a major tournament in golf or tennis, where you can watch the best in the world shoot it out to see whose algorithms are king. Kaggle's tagline is "We're making data science a sport." Maybe now it can make data science a spectator sport.'"
coondoggie writes "The European Space Agency today said it would develop a radar system that will be capable of tracking space hazards such as asteroids and orbital debris. ESA and France's Office National d'Etudes et Recherches Aérospatiales research center will work with five other partners in France, Spain and Switzerland to this month design a test surveillance radar and develop a $6 million demonstrator model."
As_I_Please writes "In response to the previous report of the ENCODE project discovering 'biochemical functions for 80 percent of the genome,' many scientists have questioned what was meant by 'function.' Ars Technica Science Editor John Timmer wrote an article calling ENCODE's definition of functionality 'broad to the point of being meaningless. At worst, it was actively misleading.' Nature magazine also has a followup discussing the ambiguity surrounding the 80% figure and claims about junk DNA."
SchrodingerZ writes "The University of Rochester and Texas A&M University have determined that in the five months following the Deepwater Horizon Disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, bacteria have consumed over 200,000 tons of oil and natural gas. The researched was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology (abstract). 'A significant amount of the oil and gas that was released was retained within the ocean water more than one-half mile below the sea surface. It appears that the hydrocarbon-eating bacteria did a good job of removing the majority of the material that was retained in these layers," said co-author John Kessler of the University of Rochester.' The paper debuts for the first time 'the rate at which the bacteria ate the oil and gas changed as this disaster progressed, information that is fundamental to understanding both this spill and predicting the behavior of future spills.' It was also noted that the oil and gas consumption rate was correlated with the addition of dispersants at the wellhead (video). Still, an estimated 40% of the oil and natural gas from the spill remains in the Gulf today."
Mansing writes "Citizens need to evaluate if they are indeed safer for all the 'security precautions' put into place. 'The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has rushed to acquire a new, multibillion-dollar version of the BioWatch system for detecting biological attacks without establishing whether it was needed or would work, according to a new report by a nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress. ... The existing system's repeated false alarms have triggered tense, high-stakes deliberations over whether to order mass evacuations, distribute emergency medicines or shut down major venues.' Is this just more money funneled to U.S. companies, or is this really keeping the U.S. safer? Are the same types of 'security precautions' being instituted in Spain and the UK? Or is this preying on fear a uniquely U.S. phenomenon?"
aarondubrow writes "2011 Nobel Prize Winner, Bruce Beutler, is using the Ranger supercomputer at The University of Texas at Austin for an ambitious new project to discover all of the genes involved in the mammalian immune response – the so-called 'resistome.' Over several years, Beutler's lab will sequence the protein coding portions of genes in 8,000 mice to detect the impact of mutations on immunity. This means scanning, enriching and sequencing 500 billion base pairs every week. The project represents a 'Big Data' problem of the highest order."
Zothecula writes "Researchers at Northwestern University, Illinois, have broken a world record in the creation of two synthetic materials, named NU-109 and NU-110, which have the greatest amount of surface areas of any material to date (abstract). To put this into perspective: if one were able to take a crystal of NU-110 the size of a grain of salt, and somehow unfold it, the surface area would cover a desktop. Additionally, the internal surface area of just one gram of the new material would cover one-and-a-half football fields."
TsukiKage writes "A 50-card M:tG combo for four players is demonstrated that is used to construct a simple Turing machine, performing arbitrary computations just by following the rules of Magic and card text thereafter."
DevotedSkeptic sends this excerpt from SmithsonianMag: "The humble tardigrade, also known as a 'waterbear' or 'moss piglet,' is an aquatic eight-legged animal that typically grows no longer than one millimeter in length. Most tardigrades (there are more than 1,000 identified species) have a fairly humdrum existence, living out their days on a moist piece of moss or in the sediment at the bottom of a lake and feeding on bacteria or plant life. In 2007, a group of European researchers pushed the resilience of this extraordinary animal even further, exposing a sample of dehydrated tardigrades to the vacuum and solar radiation of outer space for 10 full days. When the specimens were returned to earth and rehydrated, 68 percent of those that were shielded from the radiation survived, and even a handful of those with no radiation protection came back to life and produced viable offspring. How do the little tardigrades survive such a harsh environment? Although amateur tardigrade enthusiast Mike Shaw recently made waves by postulating that the animals may be equipped to survive in outer space because they originally came from other planets, scientists are certain that the creatures developed their uncommon toughness here on earth."
New submitter stacey7165 writes "VMware shared the application architecture story of how they worked with the Ocean Observatory Initiative to build a 'Hubble Telescope' of the ocean. It's comprised of a massive network of global, regional, and coastal sensors that send information to a common framework called the Common Operating Infrastructure (COI). The COI resides in a hybrid cloud powered by VMware and Amazon. To cope with a total of 49 classes and over 700 instruments deployed off of 6 coastlines, and a variety of consumption use cases, the Ocean Observatory Initiative built out the system using a variety of sub-systems loosely coupled through a messaging system powered by RabbitMQ called an 'Exchange.' Organized into a system where message clients pubsub from 'Exchange Points' and 'Exchange Spaces', the system is easier to maintain, extend, and scale. According to the OOI's documentation on release 1, the Integrated Observatory Network uses AMQP 0.9.1 and RabbitMQ-Server v. 2.3.1 on CentOS 5.5."
RocketAcademy writes "Spaceweather.com reports an explosion on Jupiter, which was detected by two amateur astronomers. According to Spaceweather.com, the event occurred at 11:35 Universal Time on September 10. Dan Peterson of Racine, Wisconsin, observing through a 12-inch Meade telescope, observed a white flash lasting for 1.5-2 seconds. George Hall of Dallas, Texas was capturing a video of Jupiter at the time, which also captured the event. It's believed that the explosion was due to a comet or small asteroid collision. Similar events were observed in the past, in June and August 2010."
New submitter Covalent writes "I'm a science teacher and have, over the years, accumulated a number of lost graphing calculators (mostly TI-83s). After trying to locate the owners, I have given up and have been loaning them out to students as needed. I want to something more nerd-worthy with them, though. I would feel wrong for selling them. What is the best use for bunch of old calculators?"
An anonymous reader writes "Researchers say they've found a way to store artificial short-term memories in isolated brain tissue. 'This is the first time anyone has found a way to store information over seconds about both temporal sequences and stimulus patterns directly in brain tissue,' says the study's lead. 'This paves the way for future research to identify the specific brain circuits that allow us to form short-term memories.' The peer-reviewed study can be found here (paywalled)."