Yes, It Is Rocket Science: Middle School Team Wins Rocket Competition

Space.com - Mon, 23/05/2016 - 10:00am
A team of middle-school students from Washington state will represent the United States at an international rocketry contest in Europe, after taking home the top prize at the 2016 Team America Rocketry Challenge National Finals.
Categories: Science

Image of the Day

Space.com - Mon, 23/05/2016 - 10:00am
Star clusters hover around a distant galaxy like bees around a hive in this latest featured image from the Hubble Space Telescope. It shows the edge-on galaxy NGC 5308, which is 100 million light-years from Earth.
Categories: Science

India Launches Prototype Space Plane on 1st Test Flight (Photos)

Space.com - Mon, 23/05/2016 - 9:45am
India flight-tested its robotic space plane prototype, known as the Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD), for the first time Sunday night (May 22), said officials with the Indian Space Research Organization.
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Tour 3D Pluto in New Portable Virtual-Reality View

Space.com - Mon, 23/05/2016 - 8:44am
Get your Google Cardboards ready, because it's time to take a 3D trip to Pluto.
Categories: Science

Space Updates From Three Countries

Slashdot - Mon, 23/05/2016 - 7:30am
The Indian Space Research Organisation continues developing a reusable launch vehicle, which could cut the costs of satellite launches by 90%. William Robinson quotes the Business Times: India will use a mini-rocket with a booster to fly a winged reusable launch vehicle into lower earth orbit on May 23... If everything goes well, it will reach about 70 kilometers from earth, and will plunge into the Bay of Bengal...to demonstrate hypersonic and aero-thermodynamics of the winged re-entry vehicle with autonomous mission management Meanwhile, Thelasko shares this reminder from BlastingNews that the U.S. Air Force's mysterious X-37B celebrated the one-year anniversary of its launch: Today, the maneuverable craft operates in a 220-mile orbit, a higher altitude it briefly held last fall and roughly the same perch occupied twice by the previous X-37B mission, according to satellite-tracking hobbyist Ted Molczan. This X-37B carries at least two payloads, revealed by the military before the ship took off â" an experimental electric propulsion thruster to be tested in orbit and a pallet to expose sample materials to the space environment. And MarkWhittington writes that "The latest Chinese space station, the Tiangong 2, is slated to be launched later in 2016 and will be visited by Chinese astronauts in a Shenzhou spacecraft. But, according to Spaceflight Insider, the Chinese are already looking ahead to their permanent low Earth orbit space facility, the Tiangong 3, slated to begin construction in 2018."

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How to Form Io's Mountains? Just Squeeze!

Space.com - Mon, 23/05/2016 - 7:20am
On Earth, mountains form along tectonic boundaries, but Io, Jupiter's volcanic moon, is awash with molten rock and dotted with solitary mountains — how did they form?
Categories: Science

Superflares from the Sun May Have Sparked Life by Warming Earth

Space.com - Mon, 23/05/2016 - 7:11am
Potent and frequent solar eruptions could have warmed the planet enough for life to take root, and also provided the vital energy needed to transform simple molecules into the complex building blocks of life, such as DNA, researchers said.
Categories: Science

The External Tank Has Arrived! What's Next for L.A. Space Shuttle Display

Space.com - Mon, 23/05/2016 - 7:05am
The day after its celebrated road trip through the streets of Los Angeles, the last built-for-flight space shuttle external tank still needed to be moved a short distance before it could officially be declared home at the California Science Center.
Categories: Science

Review: Jaybird Freedom

Wired News - Mon, 23/05/2016 - 7:01am
The best wireless running headphones are back with a more compact, more sensible design. The post Review: Jaybird Freedom appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

India's 1st Mini 'Space Shuttle' Test Launch in Pictures

Space.com - Mon, 23/05/2016 - 5:05am
On May 23, 2016, India launched the first test flight of its Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstrator, a winged, unmanned spacecraft that resembles a miniature space shuttle. See photos here.
Categories: Science

Code Quality Predicted Using Biometrics

Slashdot - Mon, 23/05/2016 - 3:30am
An anonymous reader writes: Swiss researchers are unveiling "a not at all sinister-sounding system capable of predicting the quality of code produced by developers based on their biometric data," according to Motherboard. "By looking at the programmer as they program, rather than the code after the programmer is done writing it, the system described by the Zurich researchers finds code quality issues as the code is being produced... By using heart rate information, for example, they were able to quantify the difficulty a given programmer had in producing a piece of software. This information could then be used to identify likely sections of bad code..." In a paper to be presented at an Austin engineering conference this week, the researchers write that "Delaying software quality concerns, such as defects or poor understandability of the code, increases the cost of fixing them," calling their system an improvement over code reviews, even automated ones. "Biometrics helped to automatically detect 50 percent of the bugs found in code reviews and outperformed traditional metrics in predicting all quality concerns found in code reviews." On the other hand, Motherboard likened the stress level for programmers to "a coding interview that never ends where you also happen to be naked. "

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Gene helps prevent heart attack, stroke; may also block effects of aging

Kurzweil AI - Mon, 23/05/2016 - 2:23am

An atherosclerotic lesion. Such lesions can rupture and cause heart attacks and strokes. (credit: UVA School of Medicine)

University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered that a gene called Oct4 — which scientific dogma insists is inactive in adults — actually plays a vital role in preventing ruptured atherosclerotic plaques inside blood vessels, the underlying cause of most heart attacks and strokes.

The researchers found that Oct4 controls the conversion of smooth muscle cells into protective fibrous “caps” inside plaques, making the plaques less likely to rupture. They also discovered that the gene promotes many changes in gene expression that are beneficial in stabilizing the plaques. In addition, the researchers believe it may be possible to develop drugs or other therapeutic agents that target the Oct4 pathway as a way to reduce the incidence of heart attacks or stroke.

Could impact many human diseases, regenerative medicine

The researchers are also currently testing Oct4′s possible role in repairing cellular damage and healing wounds, which would make it useful for regenerative medicine.

Oct4 is one of the “stem cell pluripotency factors” described by Shinya Yamanaka, PhD, of Kyoto University, for which he received the 2012 Nobel Prize. His lab and many others have shown that artificial over-expression of Oct4 within somatic cells grown in a lab dish is essential for reprogramming these cells into induced pluripotential stem cells, which can then develop into any cell type in the body or even an entire organism.

“Finding a way to reactivate this pathway may have profound implications for health and aging,” said researcher Gary K. Owens, director of UVA’s Robert M. Berne Cardiovascular Research Center. “This could impact many human diseases and the field of regenerative medicine. [It may also] end up being the ‘fountain-of-youth gene,’ a way to revitalize old and worn-out cells.”

The discovery is described in a paper published online in Nature Medicine. The work was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Russian Science Foundation, the Russian Federal Agency of Scientific Organization, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Abstract of Activation of the pluripotency factor OCT4 in smooth muscle cells is atheroprotective

Although somatic cell activation of the embryonic stem cell (ESC) pluripotency factor OCT4 has been reported, this previous work has been controversial and has not demonstrated a functional role for OCT4 in somatic cells. Here we demonstrate that smooth muscle cell (SMC)-specific conditional knockout of Oct4 in Apoe−/− mice resulted in increased lesion size and changes in lesion composition that are consistent with decreased plaque stability, including a thinner fibrous cap, increased necrotic core area, and increased intraplaque hemorrhage. Results of SMC-lineage-tracing studies showed that these effects were probably the result of marked reductions in SMC numbers within lesions and SMC investment within the fibrous cap, which may result from impaired SMC migration. The reactivation of Oct4 within SMCs was associated with hydroxymethylation of the Oct4promoter and was hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α, encoded by HIF1A) and Krüppel-like factor-4 (KLF4)-dependent. These results provide the first direct evidence that OCT4 has a functional role in somatic cells, and they highlight the potential role of OCT4 in normal and diseased somatic cells.

Categories: Science

Microsoft Urged to Open Source Classic Visual Basic

Slashdot - Mon, 23/05/2016 - 1:30am
"On the 25th anniversary of classic Visual Basic, return it to its programmers..." reads the plea at UserVoice.com from Sue Gee -- drawing 85 upvotes. "The new Microsoft claims to back open source, why not in this case? There is no need for Microsoft to do any more work on the code base - simply open source it and allow the community to keep it alive." In an essay at i-programmer.info, Gee shares a video of young Bill Gates building an app with Visual Basic in 1991, and complains that in the 25 years since Microsoft has open sourced .NET Core and the .NET Compiler Platform Roslyn, "but it has explicitly refused to open source VB6." She notes that Friday Visual Basic's program manager announced a "Visual Basic Silver Anniversary Celebratiathon," promising he's reaching out to the VB team members from the last 25 years for a behind-the-scenes retrospective, and adding "this is a party, so feel free to be interactive." "What the post glosses over is that this history was blighted by the fork in the road that was .NET and that many Visual Basic fans are highly unsatisfied that the programming environment they cherished is lost to them..." writes Gee. "Vote for the proposal not because you want to use VB6 or that you think it is worth having -- Vote for it because a company like Microsoft should not take a language away from its users."

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Game of Thrones Death Pool: Who’s Gonna Bite It Tonight?

Wired News - Mon, 23/05/2016 - 12:00am
Here are are the gambler's odds for a few of the most (and least) likely characters to croak during tonight's episode. The post Game of Thrones Death Pool: Who’s Gonna Bite It Tonight? appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

How the Pentagon Punished NSA Whistleblowers

Slashdot - Sun, 22/05/2016 - 11:30pm
10 years before Edward Snowden's leak, an earlier whistle-blower on NSA spying "was fired, arrested at dawn by gun-wielding FBI agents, stripped of his security clearance, charged with crimes that could have sent him to prison for the rest of his life, and all but ruined financially and professionally," according to a new article in The Guardian. "The only job he could find afterwards was working in an Apple store in suburban Washington, where he remains today... The supreme irony? In their zeal to punish Drake, these Pentagon officials unwittingly taught Snowden how to evade their clutches when the 29-year-old NSA contract employee blew the whistle himself." But today The Guardian reveals a new story about John Crane, a senior official at the Department of Defense "who fought to provide fair treatment for whistleblowers such as Thomas Drake -- until Crane himself was forced out of his job and became a whistleblower as well..." Crane told me how senior Defense Department officials repeatedly broke the law to persecute whistleblower Thomas Drake. First, he alleged, they revealed Drake's identity to the Justice Department; then they withheld (and perhaps destroyed) evidence after Drake was indicted; finally, they lied about all this to a federal judge... Crane's failed battle to protect earlier whistleblowers should now make it very clear that Snowden had good reasons to go public with his revelations... if [Crane's] allegations are confirmed in court, they could put current and former senior Pentagon officials in jail. (Official investigations are quietly under way.) Meanwhile, George Maschke writes: In a presentation to a group of Texas law students, a polygraph examiner for the U.S. Department of Defense revealed that in the aftermath of Edward Snowden's revelations, the number of polygraphs conducted annually by the department tripled (to over 120,000). Morris also conceded that mental countermeasures to the polygraph are a "tough thing."

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Categories: Science

Rovio's Desperate Push For 'Angry Birds' Movie

Slashdot - Sun, 22/05/2016 - 10:30pm
An anonymous reader writes:Last year Rovio "cut 213 jobs, affecting all departments except those working on the film and its related projects," remembers VentureBeat, describing their effort to make a movie about three outcast birds on an island of happier birds who all meet in an anger management class. But "Since Rovio funded the entire film, the directors didn't have to answer to an executive committee or a board of trustees..." reports VentureBeat, quoting director Clay Kaytis as saying "We had to make ourselves happy... We were making the films for [ourselves] instead of for a larger entity that expects something in return." After working for four years from a script by Jon Vitti (a writer for both The Simpsons and The Office), and funding a marketing onslaught that lasted nine months, Rovio finally saw their Angry Birds movie open in this weekend's #1 spot, according to the New York Times. "Most of the 'Angry Birds' financial risk fell to Rovio, the Finnish video game company, which paid $173 million to make and market the movie. As such, Rovio will receive the bulk of any profit." In China, McDonald's released special Angry Birds burgers with red or green buns...which at least one patron complained made the buns look moldy.

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Categories: Science

Hundreds of Drupal Sites Targeted With Fake Ransomware

Slashdot - Sun, 22/05/2016 - 9:30pm
An anonymous reader writes: A group of hackers have created a ransomware strain that specifically targets Drupal sites. Infection occurs thanks to an automated bot which scans Drupal sites and then uses an SQL injection (CVE-2014-3704) to change the site admin's password. The bot also dumps any emails it finds on the server, and then overwrites the site's main page to show a typical ransomware note. Over 400 sites have been infected until now, but nobody has paid the ransom yet. This case yet again proves why "Web ransomware" will never work because even the worst Web hosting service provides automatic backups from where they could retrieve a clean version of their site.

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Categories: Science

Netflix and Amazon Could Face Content Quotas In Europe

Slashdot - Sun, 22/05/2016 - 8:30pm
jader3rd quotes an articles from The Daily Mail about a new EU proposal to be published next week: Netflix and Amazon could be forced to make French, German and even Estonian films and TV shows by the EU. The US companies could also be hit with taxes to raise funds to support the work of film-makers in Europe. The proposal is thought to be driven by the French, who are particularly fearful of their cinema and TV programmes being eclipsed by English language productions... One draft says the aims is to create 'a more level playing field in the promotion of European works by obliging on-demand services to reserve at least 20 percent share for European works in their catalogues and to ensure adequate prominence of such works'. French may become the world's most-spoken language by 2050 (due to its popularity among the fast-growing population of Africa). But even so, should U.S.-based companies be facing "regional quotas" for the content they're offering?

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Categories: Science

Ask Slashdot: Have You Migrated To Node.js?

Slashdot - Sun, 22/05/2016 - 7:30pm
A developer maintaining his company's "half-assed LAMP / WordPress stack pipeline for web and web application development" is considering something more scalable that could eventually be migrated into the cloud. Qbertino asks Slashdot: Have you moved from LAMP (PHP) to Node.js for custom product development and if so, what's your advice? What downsides of JS on the server and in Node.js have a real-world effect? Is callback hell really a thing? And what is the state of free and open-source Node products...? Is there any trend inside the Node.js camp on building a platform and CMS product that competes with the PHP camp whilst maintaining a sane architecture, or is it all just a ball of hype with a huge mess of its own growing in the background, Rails-style? Condensing Qbertino's original submission: he wants to be able to quickly deliver "pretty, working, and half-way reliable products that make us money" -- and to build a durable pipeline. So leave your educated opinions in the comments. What did you experience moving to Node.js?

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Categories: Science

How does obesity cause disease in organs distant from those where fat accumulates?

Science Daily - Sun, 22/05/2016 - 6:41pm
Many of the conditions related to obesity do not appear to affect the parts of the body where the excess fat accumulates, but rather to involve body systems that are remote from the fat accumulation. Now an international group of scientists has taken an important step towards understanding the links between obesity and the related, yet physically distant, diseases it causes.
Categories: Science