Skywatching Planets and the Harvest Moon In September 2014 | Video - 1 hour 46 min ago
In the evening, Mars and Saturn can be seen in the southwestern sky. Jupiter can be viewed in the eastern sky in the early morning hours. Also, the Moon adds additional light for farmers to harvest their crops.
Categories: Science

'Wet' Constellations Featured In September 2014 Skywatching Video - 2 hours 1 min ago
The constellations of Aquarius (God of the Waters) and Capricornus (The Water Goat) hold a bevy of skywatching targets. The M2 star cluster in Aquarius harbors about 150,000 stars.
Categories: Science

In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

Slashdot - 2 hours 7 min ago
An anonymous reader writes A 23-year-old teacher at a Cambridge, Md. middle school has been placed on leave and—in the words of a local news report — "taken in for an emergency medical evaluation" for publishing, under a pseudonym, a novel about a school shooting. The novelist, Patrick McLaw, an eighth-grade language-arts teacher at the Mace's Lane Middle School, was placed on leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education, and is being investigated by the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, according to news reports from Maryland's Eastern Shore. The novel, by the way, is set 900 years in the future."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Unusual 'Pyramid Of Light' Brightens September 2014 Skywatching | Video - 2 hours 30 min ago
The reflection of sunlight off of cosmic dust particle creates the effect known as "zodiacal light", sometimes called the "false dawn." (Best seen from mid-September to early October).
Categories: Science

Apple Reveals the Most Common Reasons That It Rejects Apps

Slashdot - 3 hours 15 min ago
mrspoonsi writes One of the great mysteries of the App Store is why certain apps get rejected and why others don't. Apple has let a surprising number of ripoffs and clones through the store's iron gates, yet some developers face rejection for seemingly innocent apps. "Before you develop your app, it's important to become familiar with the technical, content, and design criteria that we use to review all apps," explains Apple on a new webpage called "Common App Rejections." Rejections include: Apple and our customers place a high value on simple, refined, creative, well thought through interfaces. They take more work but are worth it. Apple sets a high bar. If your user interface is complex or less than very good, it may be rejected; Apps that contain false, fraudulent or misleading representations or use names or icons similar to other Apps will be rejected.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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AMD Releases New Tonga GPU, Lowers 8-core CPU To $229

Slashdot - 3 hours 36 min ago
Vigile (99919) writes AMD looks to continue addressing the mainstream PC enthusiast and gamer with a set of releases into two different component categories. First, today marks the launch of the Radeon R9 285 graphics card, a $250 option based on a brand new piece of silicon dubbed Tonga. This GPU has nearly identical performance to the R9 280 that came before it, but includes support for XDMA PCIe CrossFire, TrueAudio DSP technology and is FreeSync capable (AMD's response to NVIDIA G-Sync). On the CPU side AMD has refreshed its FX product line with three new models (FX-8370, FX-8370e and FX-8320e) with lower TDPs and supposedly better efficiency. The problem of course is that while Intel is already sampling 14nm parts these Vishera-based CPUs continue to be manufactured on GlobalFoundries' 32nm process. The result is less than expected performance boosts and efficiency gains. For a similar review of the new card, see Hot Hardware's page-by-page unpacking.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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The Bridge Is Over: Sonos Adds Simpler Wi-Fi Setup to All Its Speakers

Wired News - 3 hours 45 min ago
Can’t decide what song to listen to on your Sonos speakers today? You should start with "The Bridge Is Over" by Boogie Down Productions. That's because you won’t need the $50 Sonos Bridge to stream music to the company’s speakers anymore.

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Kernel Developer Dmitry Monakhov Arrested For Protesting Ukraine Invasion

Slashdot - 3 hours 56 min ago
sfcrazy (1542989) writes, based on a report from Ted T'so, that Kernel developer Dmitry Monakhov was detained for 15 days for disobeying a police officer. The debacle came about when Monakhov decided to protest the recent invasion into Ukraine by Russian armed forces. Monakhov is using twitter to keep people informed about his experience with the Russian judicial system ; a human translator can probably do a better job than Google in this case.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Kernel Developer Dmitry Monakhov Arrested For Protesting Ukraine Invasion

Slashdot - 3 hours 56 min ago
sfcrazy (1542989) writes, based on a report from Ted T'so, that Kernel developer Dmitry Monakhov was detained for 15 days for disobeying a police officer. The debacle came about when Monakhov decided to protest the recent invasion into Ukraine by Russian armed forces. Monakhov is using twitter to keep people informed about his experience with the Russian judicial system ; a human translator can probably do a better job than Google in this case.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Tea trumps coffee for non-cardivascular mortality

Kurzweil AI - 4 hours 3 min ago

Green tea (credit: (Fig.: By Kanko from Nagasaki, Japan)

Drinking tea is associated with 24% reduced non-cardiovascular mortality, reveals a study of 131,000 people presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress by Professor Nicolas Danchin from France.

The study included 131,401 people aged 18 to 95 years who had a health check up at the Paris IPC Preventive Medicine Center between January 2001 and December 2008. During a mean 3–5 years follow-up, there were 95 deaths from CV and 632 deaths from non-CV causes.

The researchers found that coffee drinkers had a higher CV risk profile than non-drinkers, particularly for smokers. The percentage of current smokers was 17% for non-drinkers compared with 31% in those who drank 1 to 4 cups per day and 57% in those who drank more than 4 cups per day.

Non-coffee drinkers were more physically active, with 45% having a good level of physical activity compared to 41% of the heavy coffee drinkers. Professor Danchin said: “This is highly significant in our large population.”

Tea was associated with lower blood pressure than coffee, with a 4–5 mmHg decrease in SBP and 3 mmHg decrease in DBP in the heavy tea drinkers, compared to non-drinkers, when adjusted for age.

“Overall we tend to have a higher risk profile for coffee drinkers and a lower risk profile for tea drinkers,” hse said. “We also found big differences with gender. Men tend to drink coffee much more than women, while women tend to drink more tea than men.”

Categories: Science

A batteryless cardiac pacemaker based on self-winding wristwatch

Kurzweil AI - 4 hours 22 min ago

The energy harvesting device is sutured directly onto the myocardium (credit: European Society of Cardiology)

A new batteryless cardiac pacemaker controlled by a self-winding wristwatch mechanism that is powered by heart motion has been developed by researchers in the Cardiovascular Engineering Group at ARTORG, University of Bern, Switzerland.

The device was presented at European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2014 by Adrian Zurbuchen a PhD candidate.

“Batteries are a limiting factor in today’s medical implants,” he said. “Once they reach a critically low energy level, physicians [are] forced to replace a correctly functioning medical device in a surgical intervention. This is an unpleasant scenario which increases costs and the risk of complications for patients.”

Four years ago Professor Rolf Vogel, a cardiologist and engineer at the University of Bern, had the idea of using a self-winding wristwatch mechanism to harvest the energy of heart motion. “The heart seems to be a very promising energy source because its contractions are repetitive and present for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said Zurbuchen. ” Furthermore the automatic clockwork, invented in the year 1777, has a good reputation as a reliable technology to scavenge energy from motion.”

The researchers’ first prototype is based on a commercially available automatic wristwatch. All unnecessary parts were removed to reduce weight and size. They also developed a custom-made housing with eyelets that allows suturing the device directly onto the myocardium.

How it works

The prototype works the same way it would on a person’s wrist. When it is exposed to an external acceleration, the eccentric mass of the clockwork starts rotating. This rotation progressively winds a mechanical spring. After the spring is fully charged it unwinds and thereby spins an electrical micro-generator.

To test the prototype, the researchers developed an electronic circuit to transform and store the signal. They then connected the system to a custom-made cardiac pacemaker. The system worked in three steps. First, the harvesting prototype acquired energy from the heart. Second, the energy was temporarily stored in the buffer. And finally, the buffered energy was used by the pacemaker to apply minute stimuli to the heart.

The researchers successfully tested the system in in vivo experiments with domestic pigs. The newly developed system allowed them for the first time to perform batteryless overdrive-pacing at 130 beats per minute.

“The next step … is to integrate both the electronic circuit for energy storage and the custom-made pacemaker directly into the harvesting device. This will eliminate the need for leads.

“Our new pacemaker tackles the two major disadvantages of today’s pacemakers. Pacemaker leads are prone to fracture and can pose an imminent threat to the patient. And the lifetime of a pacemaker battery is limited. Our energy harvesting system is located directly on the heart and has the potential to avoid both disadvantages by providing the world with a batteryless and leadless pacemaker.”

Categories: Science

Low-Carb Diet Trumps Low-Fat Diet In Major New Study

Slashdot - 4 hours 37 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: The NY Times reports on a new study (abstract) showing that low-carb diets have better health benefits than low-fat diets in a test without calorie restrictions. "By the end of the yearlong trial, people in the low-carbohydrate group had lost about eight pounds more on average than those in the low-fat group. They had significantly greater reductions in body fat than the low-fat group, and improvements in lean muscle mass — even though neither group changed their levels of physical activity. While the low-fat group did lose weight, they appeared to lose more muscle than fat. They actually lost lean muscle mass, which is a bad thing,' Dr. Mozaffarian said. 'Your balance of lean mass versus fat mass is much more important than weight. And that's a very important finding that shows why the low-carb, high-fat group did so metabolically well.' ... In the end, people in the low-carbohydrate group saw markers of inflammation and triglycerides — a type of fat that circulates in the blood — plunge. Their HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, rose more sharply than it did for people in the low-fat group. Blood pressure, total cholesterol and LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol, stayed about the same for people in each group."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

A multifunctional medical nanoparticle

Kurzweil AI - 4 hours 51 min ago

Applications of multifunctional self-assembled nanoparticles (credit: Yuanpei Li et al./Nature Communications)

Researchers at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center and other institutions have created biocompatible multitasking nanoparticles that could be used as contrast agents to light up tumors for MRI and PET scans or deliver chemo and other therapies to destroy tumors. The study was published online in Nature Communications.

“These are amazingly useful particles,” noted co-first author Yuanpei Li, a research faculty member in the Lam laboratory. “As a contrast agent, they make tumors easier to see on MRI and other scans. We can also use them as vehicles to deliver chemotherapy directly to tumors, apply light to make the nanoparticles release singlet oxygen (photodynamic therapy), or use a laser to heat them (photothermal therapy) — all proven ways to destroy tumors.”

Jessica Tucker, program director of Drug and Gene Delivery and Devices at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, said the approach outlined in the study has the ability to combine both imaging and therapeutic applications in a single platform, which has been difficult to achieve, especially in an organic, and therefore biocompatible, vehicle.

“This is especially valuable in cancer treatment, where targeted treatment to tumor cells, and the reduction of lethal effects in normal cells, is so critical,” she added.

These are not the first nanoparticles for medical use, but they may be the most versatile. Other particles are good at some tasks but not others. Non-organic particles, such as quantum dots or gold-based materials, work well as diagnostic tools but have safety issues. Organic probes are biocompatible and can deliver drugs but lack imaging or phototherapy applications.

Design of a multifunctional nanoparticle

Schematic illustration of construction of a multifunctional nanoparticle (credit: Yuanpei Li et al./Nature Communications)

The nanoparticles are built on a porphyrin/cholic acid polymer and are simple to make. Porphyrins are common organic compounds. Cholic acid is produced by the liver. The basic nanoparticles are 21 nanometers wide (a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter).

To further stabilize the particles, the researchers added the amino acid cysteine (creating CNPs), which prevents them from prematurely releasing their therapeutic payload when exposed to blood proteins and other barriers. At 32 nanometers, CNPs are ideally sized to penetrate tumors, accumulating among cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue.

In the study, the team tested the nanoparticles, both in vitro and in vivo, for a wide range of tasks:

  • CNPs effectively transported anti-cancer drugs, such as doxorubicin. Even when kept in blood for many hours, CNPs only released small amounts of the drug; however, when exposed to light or agents such as glutathione, they readily released their payloads.
  • The ability to precisely control chemotherapy release inside tumors could greatly reduce toxicity. CNPs carrying doxorubicin provided excellent cancer control in animals, with minimal side effects.
  • CNPs can be configured to respond to light, producing singlet oxygen, reactive molecules that destroy tumor cells. They can also generate heat when hit with laser light. Significantly, CNPs can perform either task when exposed to a single wavelength of light.
  • CNPs combine imaging and therapeutics, simultaneously delivering treatment and monitoring treatment efficacy. They readily chelate imaging agents and can remain in the body for long periods. In animal studies, CNPs congregated in tumors, making them easier to read on an MRI. Because CNPs accumulated in tumors, and not so much in normal tissue, they dramatically enhanced tumor contrast for MRI and may also be promising for PET-MRI scans.
  • “These particles can also be used as optical probes for image-guided surgery,” said Kit Lam of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California Davis. “In addition, they can be used as highly potent photosensitizing agents for intraoperative phototherapy.”

The Lam lab and its collaborators plan to pursue preclinical studies and, if all goes well, proceed to human trials.

This research was funded by the National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, the Department of Defense, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, the Veterans Administration, and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

Abstract of Nature Communications paper

Multifunctional nanoparticles with combined diagnostic and therapeutic functions show great promise towards personalized nanomedicine. However, attaining consistently high performance of these functions in vivo in one single nanoconstruct remains extremely challenging. Here we demonstrate the use of one single polymer to develop a smart ‘all-in-one’ nanoporphyrin platform that conveniently integrates a broad range of clinically relevant functions. Nanoporphyrins can be used as amplifiable multimodality nanoprobes for near-infrared fluorescence imaging (NIRFI), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) and dual modal PET-MRI. Nanoporphyrins greatly increase the imaging sensitivity for tumour detection through background suppression in blood, as well as preferential accumulation and signal amplification in tumours. Nanoporphyrins also function as multiphase nanotransducers that can efficiently convert light to heat inside tumours for photothermal therapy (PTT), and light to singlet oxygen for photodynamic therapy (PDT). Furthermore, nanoporphyrins act as programmable releasing nanocarriers for targeted delivery of drugs or therapeutic radio-metals into tumours.

Categories: Science

Sniffing Out Alien Life: Stinky Chemicals May Be Key - 5 hours 33 min ago
Alien organisms may betray their presence by pumping stinky chemicals into their home planets' skies, researchers say.
Categories: Science

Online Slooh Observatory Snags $30K Telescope Grant to Hunt Asteroids - 5 hours 34 min ago
The parent company of a group that provides free telescope views over the Internet has received a Connecticut government grant of $30,000 to buy a new telescope.
Categories: Science

DARPA explores neuromodulation of organ functions to help the human body heal itself

Kurzweil AI - 5 hours 53 min ago

DARPA ElectRx (credit: DARPA)

DARPA’s new Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx)  (pronounced “electrics”) program aims to develop new high-precision, minimally invasive technologies for modulating nerve circuits to restore and maintain human health, initiated in support of the President’s brain initiative.

“The technology DARPA plans to develop through the ElectRx program could fundamentally change the manner in which doctors diagnose, monitor and treat injury and illness,” said Doug Weber, DARPA program manager. “Instead of relying only on medication, we envision a closed-loop system that would work in concept like a tiny, intelligent pacemaker. It would continually assess conditions and provide stimulus patterns tailored to help maintain healthy organ function, helping patients get healthy and stay healthy using their body’s own systems.”

ElectRx technologies are also expected to help accelerate scientific research aimed at achieving a more complete understanding of the structure and function of specific neural circuits and their role in health and disease.

Potential targets include recently identified circuits involved in regulating immune system function. This could providing new hope for treating a range of inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, systemic inflammatory response syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease. ElectRx is also expected to improve peripheral nerve stimulation treatments for brain and mental health disorders, such as epilepsy, traumatic brain injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and depression.

Targeted ultraminiaturized devices

DARPA notes that this program would require new technologies for in vivo sensing and neural stimulation, such as advanced biosensors and novel optical, acoustic and electromagnetic devices to achieve precise targeting of bundles of nerve fibers that control specific organ functions.

Simple implantable devices for management of chronic inflammatory diseases and other disorders are already in clinical use, and the market for neuromodulation devices is growing rapidly. Current devices, however, are relatively large (about the size of a deck of cards), require invasive surgical implantation, and often produce side effects due to their lack of precision.

ElectRx seeks to create ultraminiaturized devices, approximately the same size as individual nerve fibers, which would require only minimally invasive insertion procedures such as injectable delivery through a needle instead of surgery.

ElectRx is part of a broader portfolio of programs within DARPA that support President Obama’s brain initiative. These include ongoing efforts designed to advance fundamental understanding of the brain’s dynamics to drive applications (Revolutionizing ProstheticsRestorative Encoding Memory Integration Neural DeviceReorganization and Plasticity to Accelerate Injury RecoveryEnabling Stress Resistance), manufacture robust sensing systems for neurotechnology applications (Reliable Neutral Interface Technology) and analyze large data sets (Detection and Computational Analysis of Psychological Signals).

DARPA expects to release a Broad Agency Announcement with full technical details on ElectRx in the coming months on the Federal Business Opportunities website ( Eventual performers would be required to obtain regulatory guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration throughout all phases of the planned five-year program, culminating in approval of an FDA Investigational Device Exemption to enable pilot studies of ElectRx devices in humans. For more information:

Categories: Science

No One Tweets Like the Japanese, and That Was a Huge Problem for Twitter

Wired News - 6 hours 4 min ago
Twitter engineer Mazdak Hashemi says the Japanese tweet like no one else on earth.

Categories: Science

Why Your Library May Soon Have Laser Cutters and 3-D Printers

Wired News - 6 hours 4 min ago
A survey by John Burke at Miami University found that 109 libraries in the US had a makerspace or were close to opening one. Others are hosting events like Wikipedia edit-a-thons, where residents plumb the library's resources to create articles about local history.

Categories: Science

The Funky, Sometimes Impressive Motorcycles of Communist Eastern Europe

Wired News - 6 hours 4 min ago
The Communist domination of Eastern Europe after World War II wasn’t kind to the development of motorcycles.

Categories: Science

Angry Nerd: Are You Ready for Grant Morrison’s Mind-Bending Multiversity?

Wired News - 6 hours 4 min ago
The Multiversity spans 52 parallel universes and features characters like a Nazi Superman and a vampire Batman. Keeping track of everything requires an infographic. It's a lot. That said, Grant Morrison's new, mind-bending mini-series still encompasses everything that's right in the alternate reality comic book world. Angry Nerd is ready to dive in.

Categories: Science