Your Travel Nightmare Has Nothing on a Snowbound Chinese New Year

Wired News - Thu, 04/02/2016 - 12:35am

The human migration is already an annual traffic bonanza, but this weekend, several central and eastern provinces were hit with rare, heavy snowfall.

The post Your Travel Nightmare Has Nothing on a Snowbound Chinese New Year appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Link Rot Rx: 'Amber' Add-on For WordPress and Drupal

Slashdot - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 11:48pm
David Rothman writes: If you run a WordPress or Drupal site, you can now fight link rot with Amber, a new open source add-on from Harvard's Berkman Center. If links are dead, visitors can still summon up the pages as stored on your server or, if you prefer, outside ones such as the Internet Archive. TeleRead has the details, and the Amber site is here, with download information.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Modern microbial ecosystems provide window to early life on Earth

Science Daily - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 11:41pm
New research provides new insight into one of the world's most diverse and extensive ecosystems of living microbes. The study offers a new perspective on the growth and structure of rare, microbial reefs, called stromatolites, which are a window into the emergence and evolution of life on Earth.
Categories: Science

Genetic cause of rare allergy to vibration discovered

Science Daily - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 11:41pm
Scientists have identified a genetic mutation responsible for a rare form of inherited hives induced by vibration, also known as vibratory urticaria. Running, hand clapping, towel drying or even taking a bumpy bus ride can cause temporary skin rashes in people with this rare disorder. By studying affected families, researchers discovered how vibration promotes the release of inflammatory chemicals from the immune system's mast cells, causing hives and other allergic symptoms.
Categories: Science

Preventive surgery for women at high risk of breast, ovarian cancer

Science Daily - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 11:41pm
A new article provides an in-depth look at the issues associated with the care of women in families with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome who have not yet developed cancer themselves.
Categories: Science

Russia Begins Work On a Lunar Lander

Slashdot - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 11:27pm
MarkWhittington writes: Whether and when Russia will try to send cosmonauts to the moon is an open question. The Putin government has heavily slashed spending on the Russian space program, a measure brought on by declining oil and gas revenues. But, as Popular Mechanics reports, Russian engineers have gone ahead and have started to design a lunar lander for the eventual Russian lunar surface effort. When money is going to be forthcoming for such a vehicle is unknown, though Russia could partner with another country with lunar ambitions, such as China or the European Union.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Everything We Learned From the New Ghostbusters Images

Wired News - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 11:05pm

We don't know a lot about Paul Feig's upcoming Ghostbusters movie, but these photos offer us a few clues.

The post Everything We Learned From the New Ghostbusters Images appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

New Hack Shrinks Docker Containers

Slashdot - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 10:46pm
destinyland writes: Promising "uber tiny Docker images for all the things," has released a new library of base images for every major language optimized to be as small as possible by using only the required OS libraries and language dependencies. "By streamlining the cruft that is attached to the node images and installing only the essentials, they reduced the image from 644 MB to 29MB,"explains one technology reporter, noting this makes it quicker to download and distribute the image, and also more secure. "Less code/less programs in the container means less attack surface..." writes Travis Reeder, the co-founder of, in a post on the company's blog. "Most people who start using Docker will use Docker's official repositories for their language of choice, but unfortunately if you use them, you'll end up with images the size of the Empire State Building..."

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Former DoE Employee Ensnared By Secret-Selling Sting Pleads Guilty

Slashdot - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 10:06pm
mdsolar writes: A former Energy Department employee accused of attempting to infiltrate the agency's computer system to steal nuclear secrets and sell them to a foreign government pleaded guilty Tuesday to a reduced charge of attempting to damage protected government computers in an email "spear-phishing attack." Charles Harvey Eccleston, a former employee at the department and at the independent Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), was arrested March 27 by Philippine authorities after an undercover FBI sting operation. Eccleston, 62, a U.S. citizen who had been living in the Philippines since 2011, was "terminated" from his job at the NRC in 2010, according to the Justice Department. In January 2015, the department said, he targeted more than 80 Energy Department employees in Washington at four national nuclear labs with emails containing what he thought were links to malicious websites that, if activated, could infect and damage computers.

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Future of drug delivery seen in a crystal ball

Kurzweil AI - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 9:48pm

Researchers have developed a way to grow crystals in a spherical shape — a possible future drug-delivery platform. (credit: Drexel University)

A Drexel University materials scientist has discovered a way to encapsulate medication to deliver it more effectively inside the body.

Until now, crystals have grown in rigid, structured formations (like the snowflake) — with a web of straight lines connecting to making a grid that grows into the crystalline flake.*

But the formation of a crystal is affected by the environment in which it forms. And Christopher Li, PhD, a professor in the College of Engineering and head of the Soft Materials Lab in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering, uses this workaround to engineer hollow crystal spheres. He recently reported his finding in Nature Communications (open access).

Introducing …. the “crystalsome”

Li was able to overcome crystal’s edge-forming tendencies by creating a tiny bubble of oil to encase water molecules. When the surfactant bubble was cooled to the appropriate temperature, the molecules inside began to crystalize. But rather than forming an angular web of connections, the molecules, instead, lined up along the interior of the oil bubble — crystallizing in a hollow, spherical shape.

Liposomes, composite structures made of phospholipids, can carry drugs to target tissues (Kosi Gramatikoff/Wikimedia Commons)

Early tests indicate that Li’s “crystalsome” (named for their similarity to liposomes — tiny bubbles with the same membrane as cells that are being explored for use as biological packages for delivering drug treatments) is a few hundred times stronger than liposomes, making them a sturdier option for medicine encapsulation.

Crystalsome fabriation process: 1) Emulsification; (2) quench to the crystallization temperature; and (3–5) different stages of crystal growth (credit: Wenda Wang et al./Nature Communications)

With funding from the National Science Foundation, Li’s team is now exploring ways to control the shape and strength of the spheres by making them out of various different molecules.

* Crystals form this way because their molecules are predisposed to align themselves in a way that links them via the strongest electrochemical bond available. If molecules are floating freely, as they are in a water vapor for example, they are able to follow this default course to connect with other molecules and, eventually, form a crystal — an ice crystal, or snowflake, in the case of water molecules.

Abstract of Highly robust crystalsome via directed polymer crystallization at curved liquid/liquid interface

Lipids and amphiphilic block copolymers spontaneously self-assemble in water to form a plethora of micelles and vesicles. They are typically fluidic in nature and often mechanically weak for applications such as drug delivery and gene therapeutics. Mechanical properties of polymeric materials could be improved by forming crystalline structures. However, most of the self-assembled micelles and vesicles have curved surfaces and precisely tuning crystallization within a nanoscale curved space is challenging, as the curved geometry is incommensurate with crystals having three-dimensional translational symmetry. Herein, we report using a miniemulsion crystallization method to grow nanosized, polymer single-crystal-like capsules. We coin the name crystalsome to describe this unique structure, because they are formed by polymer lamellar crystals and their structure mimics liposomes and polymersomes. Using poly(L-lactic acid) (PLLA) as the model polymer, we show that curved water/p-xylene interface formed by the miniemulsion process can guide the growth of PLLA single crystals. Crystalsomes with the size ranging from ~148 nm to over 1 μm have been formed. Atomic force microscopy measurement demonstrate a two to three orders of magnitude increase in bending modulus compared with conventional polymersomes. We envisage that this novel structure could shed light on investigating spherical crystallography and drug delivery.

Categories: Science

Torrents Time Lets Anyone Launch Their Own Web Version of Popcorn Time

Slashdot - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 9:24pm
An anonymous reader writes: Popcorn Time, an app for streaming video torrents, just got its own web version: Popcorn Time Online. Unlike other attempts to bring Popcorn Time into the browser, this one is powered by a tool called Torrents Time, which delivers the movies and TV shows via an embedded torrent client. Oh, and the developers have released the code so that anyone can create their own version. If Popcorn Time is Hollywood's worst nightmare, Torrents Time is trying to make sure Hollywood can't wake up.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Google Is Bringing Free Gigabit Fiber to Public Housing Across the US

Wired News - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 9:18pm

The company will bring its ultra-high speed Internet service to select buildings in all of its Fiber cities.

The post Google Is Bringing Free Gigabit Fiber to Public Housing Across the US appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Miitomo, Nintendo’s First Mobile Game, Will Launch in March

Wired News - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 9:15pm

'Miitomo,' Nintendo's first smartphone app, will be released globally alongside the new 'My Nintendo' online service in March.

The post Miitomo, Nintendo’s First Mobile Game, Will Launch in March appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Why is calcific tendinitis so painful?

Science Daily - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 9:11pm
Calcific tendinitis of the shoulder, typically characterized by calcium deposits on the rotator cuff, is an extremely painful condition that can severely impair movement and life quality. A new study has found a significant increase in blood vessel and pain receptor growth among patients with this condition.
Categories: Science

How to efficiently convert carbon dioxide from air to methanol fuel

Kurzweil AI - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 9:10pm

The carbon dioxide-to-methanol process (credit: Surya Prakash)

Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute have created fuel out of thin air — directly converting carbon dioxide from air into methanol at relatively low temperatures for the first time. While methanol can’t currently compete with oil, it will be there when we run out of oil, the researchers note.

The researchers bubbled air through an aqueous solution of pentaethylenehexamine (PEHA), adding a Ru-Macho-BH ruthenium catalyst to encourage hydrogen to latch onto the CO2 under pressure. They then heated the solution, converting 79 percent of the CO2 into methanol.

Though mixed with water, the resulting methanol can be easily distilled, said G.K. Surya Prakash, professor of chemistry and director of the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute.

Proposed reaction sequence for CO2 capture and in situ hydrogenation to methanol (credit: J. Kothandaraman et al./Journal of the American Chemical Society)

Scaling up

Methanol (aka “wood alcohol” or “rubbing alcohol”) is attractive because it can be directly used as a clean-burning liquid fuel for internal combustion engines and for fuel cells. It’s also a hydrogen storage medium and a chemical feedstock for producing a myriad of chemicals and products, including ethylene and propylene. It’s one of the most important building blocks in the chemical industry, with an annual production of more than 70 million tons.

The research is part of a broader effort to use renewable energy to transform greenhouse gas into its combustible form —  attacking global warming from two angles simultaneously.

Prakash and Olah hope to refine the process to the point that it could be scaled up for industrial use within five to 10 years. “Of course it won’t compete with oil today, at around $30 per barrel,” Prakash said. “But right now we burn fossilized sunshine. We will run out of oil and gas, but the sun will be there for another five billion years. So we need to be better at taking advantage of it as a resource.”

Lower temperatures

Previous efforts have required a slower multistage process with the use of high temperatures and high concentrations of CO2, meaning that renewable energy sources would not be able to efficiently power the process.

The new system operates at around 125 to 165 degrees Celsius (257 to 359 degrees Fahrenheit), minimizing the decomposition of the catalyst — which occurs at 155 degrees Celsius (311 degrees Fahrenheit). The system uses a homogeneous catalyst, making it a quicker “one-pot” process. In a lab, the researchers demonstrated that they were able to run the process five times with only minimal loss of the effectiveness of the catalyst.

The new process was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society on Dec. 29. The research was supported by the USC Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute.

Abstract of Conversion of CO2 from Air into Methanol Using a Polyamine and a Homogeneous Ruthenium Catalyst

A highly efficient homogeneous catalyst system for the production of CH3OH from CO2 using pentaethylenehexamine and Ru-Macho-BH (1) at 125–165 °C in an ethereal solvent has been developed (initial turnover frequency = 70 h–1 at 145 °C). Ease of separation of CH3OH is demonstrated by simple distillation from the reaction mixture. The robustness of the catalytic system was shown by recycling the catalyst over five runs without significant loss of activity (turnover number > 2000). Various sources of CO2 can be used for this reaction including air, despite its low CO2 concentration (400 ppm). For the first time, we have demonstrated that CO2 captured from air can be directly converted to CH3OH in 79% yield using a homogeneous catalytic system.

Categories: Science

Culture Podcast: We’re Back From Sundance, and We Have Things to Say

Wired News - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 9:04pm

We survived Sundance! Now we're going to tell you all about it. We also have feelings about the RIAA's decision to count streaming towards platinum status.

The post Culture Podcast: We’re Back From Sundance, and We Have Things to Say appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Check Out the New Book From Aaron Draplin, the Prolific Designer of Field Notes

Wired News - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 8:53pm

The tell-it-like-it-is designer wrote a book, and it's probably going to be hilarious.

The post Check Out the New Book From Aaron Draplin, the Prolific Designer of Field Notes appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

The Whimsical, Colorful ‘Lonely Houses’ of Portugal

Wired News - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 8:45pm

Manuel Pita's Instagram is full of bright structures that stand alone against a big blue sky.

The post The Whimsical, Colorful ‘Lonely Houses’ of Portugal appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Ask Slashdot: Fixing UVC Camera Issues Under Windows?

Slashdot - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 8:43pm
Khyber writes: I bought some cheap Chinese camera glasses with built-in microphones. These are (supposedly) UVC cameras manufactured in 2015. Under Windows XP, these cameras are seen perfectly fine and work as web cameras; even the microphones work. Under Windows 7, the camera appears to install just fine, however I get the 'This device can perform faster if you connect to USB 2.0' (which it is connected to) and when I try to load it up with any camera viewer such as manycam or any chat program's built-in previewer, I cannot receive any video from the camera. I can get audio from the camera microphones under Windows 7, so I am wondering if the camera device is having problems enumerating as a USB 2.0 device due to some change in Windows 7 (which it doesn't seem to have issues doing under XP,) or if the UVC driver for Windows 7 is missing something in comparison to the one used for Windows XP. Anybody else had issues getting newer UVC cameras to work in newer operating systems?

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Categories: Science

Ethics Panel Endorses Mitochondrial Therapy, But Says Start With Male Embryos

Slashdot - Wed, 03/02/2016 - 8:19pm
sciencehabit writes: An experimental assisted reproduction technique that could allow some families to avoid having children with certain types of heritable disease should be allowed to go forward in the United States, provided it proceeds slowly and cautiously. That is the conclusion of a report released today from a panel organized by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS), which assesses the ethics questions surrounding the controversial technique called mitochondrial DNA replacement therapy. More controversially, however, the panel recommended that only altered male embryos should be used to attempt a pregnancy, to limit the possible risks to future generations. (Males can't pass along the mitochondrial DNA that is altered in the procedure.)

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Categories: Science