Code.org Resurrects 'Flappy Bird' As Programming Lesson

Slashdot - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 5:11pm
Nerval's Lobster writes "Flappy Bird might be kaput, but its hilariously awkward hero is serving another useful purpose in its afterlife: teaching people how to code. Flappy Bird, a free mobile game for Android and iOS that asks the player to guide the titular avian through an obstacle course of vertical pipes, became a sensation earlier this year, seizing the top spots on the Apple and Google Play app stores. Its creator, Dong Nguyen, said the game earned him an average of $50,000 a day through in-app advertising — but that didn't stop him from yanking the game offline in early February. Now Code.org has resurrected Flappy Bird, Phoenix-style, from the smoking wreckage, with a free tutorial that allows anyone with a bit of time to code his or her very own version of the game. There's no actual code to learn, thanks to a visual interface that allows budding developers to drag 'blocks' of commands into place. 'Flappy Bird recently met its untimely death. We might've been tempted to cry all day and give up on spreading computer science (not really, but R.I.P Flappy Bird),' read a note on Code.org's blog. 'Instead, we built a new drag-and-drop tutorial that lets you build your own Flappy game — whether it's Flappy Bird, or Flappy Easter Bunny, Flappy Santa, Flappy Shark with Lasers, Flappy Fairy or Flappy Underwater Unicorn.' Childish? Maybe. But it could help draw people into coding for fun or profit."

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Categories: Science

NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover views striated ground

Science Daily - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 5:10pm
NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has reached an area where orbital images had piqued researchers' interest in patches of ground with striations all oriented in a similar direction.
Categories: Science

Radar images of near-Earth Asteroid 2006 DP14

Science Daily - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 5:08pm
A collage of radar images of near-Earth asteroid 2006 DP14 was generated by NASA scientists using the 230-foot (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif., on the night of Feb. 11, 2014.
Categories: Science

Live Q&A With Ex-TSA Agent Jason Harrington Tomorrow 3pm ET

Slashdot - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 5:07pm
Jason Harrington's story pulling back the curtain on life as a TSA agent was an uncomfortable revelation to some, and a confirmation to many frustrated travelers. His descriptions of a typical day on the job highlighted why few in the security line were happy, including the agents: 'I hated it from the beginning. It was a job that had me patting down the crotches of children, the elderly and even infants as part of the post-9/11 airport security show. I confiscated jars of homemade apple butter on the pretense that they could pose threats to national security. I was even required to confiscate nail clippers from airline pilots—the implied logic being that pilots could use the nail clippers to hijack the very planes they were flying.' Jason will be sitting down with us tomorrow Friday, February 28th starting at 3pm ET (20:00 GMT) to talk with you live about security theater and life after the TSA.

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Categories: Science

Chemical Chaperones Have Helped Proteins Do Their Jobs for Billions of Years

Astrobiology - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 5:00pm
An ancient chemical, present for billions of years, appears to have helped proteins function properly since time immemorial.
Categories: Science

Big thaw projected for Antarctic sea ice: Ross Sea will reverse current trend, be largely ice free in summer by 2100

Science Daily - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 4:55pm
A new modeling study suggests that a recent observed increase in summer sea-ice cover in Antarctica's Ross Sea is likely short-lived, with the area projected to lose more than half its summer sea ice by 2050 and more than three quarters by 2100. These changes will significantly impact marine life in what is one of the world's most productive and unspoiled marine ecosystems.
Categories: Science

Researchers X-ray living cancer cells

Science Daily - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 4:55pm
Scientists have carried out the first studies of living biological cells using high-energy X-rays. "The new method for the first time enables us to investigate the internal structures of living cells in their natural environment using hard X-rays,' emphasizes the leader of the working group. "Thanks to the ever-greater resolution of the various investigative techniques, it is increasingly important to know whether the internal structure of the sample changes during sample preparation." In future, the new technique will make it possible to study unchanged living cells at high resolution.
Categories: Science

China's Moon Rover & Lander Enter 3rd Lunar Sleep

Space.com - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 4:54pm
China's first moon rover and lander have entered a third period of "Selene slumber," a shutdown of operations given two weeks of temperature-dropping lunar night. The Yutu (Jade Rabbit) rover went into programmed sleep mode on Feb. 22.
Categories: Science

Type 1 diabetes: Vitamin D deficiency occurs in early stage

Science Daily - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 4:54pm
Low levels of vitamin D are commonly found in people with type 1 diabetes. But even children who have multiple positive islet autoantibodies without manifest type 1 diabetes have lower levels of vitamin D in their blood. This does not appear, however, to influence the progression of the disease from pre-diabetes to diabetes, according to scientists. "Vitamin D deficiency precedes the onset of type 1 diabetes. This may be a consequence of an immune response," one author says. "In the case of prediabetic children, we must therefore be mindful of the risk of vitamin D deficiency and consider recommending vitamin D supplementation at an early stage of type 1 diabetes."
Categories: Science

Computer game characters become more human-like by gossiping and lying

Science Daily - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 4:52pm
Imagine socially intelligent computer game characters with a natural dialogue, human-like in their ways of relating to others, who gossip, manipulate and have their own agendas. New research can make all of this possible.
Categories: Science

New search engine delivers content matched to student ability

Science Daily - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 4:52pm
An Internet search engine developed specifically for schools is being tested as a way to increase reading abilities in challenged students and help motivate intellectual development in gifted students, while saving schools money on textbooks. Complexity Engine uses a sophisticated algorithm to search websites for content and delivers free, customized and age-appropriate reading materials to a user's computer. It promises to give teachers, parents and students an efficient, affordable way to promote reading. Teachers and administrators can set parameters for the search results, and the reading experience can be either student self-directed or guided by the teacher.
Categories: Science

The Phone Dragnet That Caught the World's Top Drug Lord

Slashdot - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 4:30pm
Daniel_Stuckey writes "The contacts on Zambada-Ortiz's phone, which officials seized, would prove critical in pinpointing cartel stash houses strewn across Sinaloa state in mountainous northwest Mexico. Crucially, the episode would breathe new life into the joint US-Mexico dragnet that recently caught Chapo, who'd been at large for 13 years after famously escaping from Mexican prison in a laundry basket. Zambada-Ortiz's capture and the data scraped from his phone led to more and more Sinaloa phones until a month ago, when Mexican authorities (moving on American intelligence work) successfully carried out a number of raids that scored a cache of weapons and the arrests of a few of Chapo's senior henchmen. With each apprehension came another phone full of leads, 'a new trove of information for officials to mine,' as TIME reported. Then, sometime last week, Mexican commandos 'traced a number stored in a seized cell phone to a stash house outside the provincial capital of Culiacan, where they believed Guzman was hiding,' TIME added."

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Categories: Science

Quebec Language Police Target Store Owner's Facebook Page

Slashdot - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 4:15pm
New submitter wassomeyob writes "In Canada, the province of Quebec has their Official Language Act of 1974 (aka Bill 22) which makes French their sole official language. It has famously been used to force business owners to modify signage to give French pre-eminance over other languages. Now, the Quebec language police seem to be extending their reach to Facebook. Eva Cooper owns Delilah in the Parc — a shop in Chelsea, Quebec near the Quebec/Ontario border. She received a letter from the language office telling her to translate everything posted on her store's Facebook page into French."

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Categories: Science

Blood Test of 4 Biomarkers Predicts Death Within 5 Years

Slashdot - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 3:49pm
retroworks writes "The NHS and the Daily Telegraph report on two studies (original and repeat duplicating results) in Estonia and Finland which predict whether an apparently healthy human will likely die within 5 years. The four biomarkers that appeared to determine risk of mortality in the next five years were: alpha-1-acid glycoprotein – a protein that is raised during infection and inflammation; albumin – a protein that carries vital nutrients, hormones and proteins in the bloodstream; very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) particle size – usually known for being 'very bad' cholesterol; and citrate – a compound that is an essential part of the body's metabolism. Researchers found that people in the top 20% of the summary score range were 19 times more at risk of dying in the next five years than people in the lowest 20%." The NHS's summary of the news points out that "the implications of such a test are unclear. As this was an observational study, it can only show an association between the biomarkers and risk of death. It does not predict what the underlying cause of death would be for an individual and does not therefore provide an answer in terms of treatment."

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Categories: Science

Apple Drops Snow Leopard Security Updates, Doesn't Tell Anyone

Slashdot - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 3:28pm
Freshly Exhumed writes "As Apple issued an update for Mavericks, Mountain Lion, and Lion yesterday, Snow Leopard users have not seen a security update since September, 2013. This would not be noteworthy if Apple, like a host of other major software vendors, would clearly spell out its OS support policies and warn users of such changes, but they have not. Thus, the approximately 20% of Mac users still running Snow Leopard now find themselves in a very vulnerable state without the latest security updates."

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Categories: Science

Low birth weight reduces ability to metabolize drugs throughout life

Science Daily - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 3:11pm
Another concern related to low birth weight has been found by researchers: a difference in how the body reacts to drugs, which may last a person's entire life and further complicate treatment of illnesses or diseases that are managed with medications. The findings add to the list of health problems that are already known to correspond to low birth weight, such as a predisposition for adult-onset diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. The implication, researchers say, is that low birth weight may not only cause increased disease, but it may also lessen the effectiveness of the drugs used to treat those diseases.
Categories: Science

The pain of social exclusion: Physical pain brain circuits activated by 'social pain'

Science Daily - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 3:11pm
“Social” pain hurts physically, even when we see it in others. The distress caused by social stimuli (e.g., losing a friend, experiencing an injustice or more in general when a social bond is threatened) activates brain circuits related to physical pain: as observed in a new study. This also applies when we experience this type of pain vicariously as an empathic response (when we see somebody else experiencing it).
Categories: Science

Woman Attacked In San Francisco Bar For Wearing Google Glass

Slashdot - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 3:07pm
First time accepted submitter Martin Blank writes "Sarah Slocum, an early adopter of Google Glass, was bar hopping with friends in San Francisco when a few people in the bar took issue with the eyewear when she was demonstrating it to another patron even though she wasn't recording. When she felt threatened, she informed them that she would start recording. Two of them approached her, yelling and throwing a bar rag at her, and ultimately ripping the Glass from her face and running from the bar with it. She gave chase and eventually got the Glass back, but her purse was gone when she returned to the bar. This physical level of hostility is unusual, but discomfort with Glass is common, especially among those who don't understand how it works. Given that much more hidden spy cameras are available for far less than the $1500 cost of Glass, what will it take for general acceptance to finally take hold?"

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Categories: Science

Red and Dead | Space Wallpaper

Space.com - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 3:05pm
This cool space wallpaper shows a composite view of the giant elliptical galaxy NGC 1399. The stellar component, as observed at optical wavelengths, is shown in white at the center of the image.
Categories: Science

The Molecule That Tells You When You've Used Too Much Sriracha

Wired News - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 2:30pm
Scientists have uncovered the structure of the molecule that senses capsaicin, the chemical that gives chili peppers their heat, 15 years after the molecule was discovered.
    





Categories: Science