Archive for May, 2011

Climate Change Froze the Vikings Out of Greenland, Say Scientists

By Valerie Ross | May 31, 2011 4:19 pm

What’s the News: Climate change may have sparked the demise of early Viking settlements in Greenland, according to a new study published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, when temperatures cooled rapidly over several decades. Around the time the Vikings disappear from the island’s archaeological record, temperature appears to have plunged. Nor were the Vikings the only people in Greenland whose fortunes rose and fell with the average temperature, the study suggests. Earlier cold spells may have played a role in the collapse of two previous groups on the island.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Human Origins

PBS Site Pwned By Hacktivists; Tupac, Unfortunately, is Still Dead

By Veronique Greenwood | May 31, 2011 3:04 pm

pwnedA hacked page on PBS’s site announces the perpetrators.

What’s the News: On Sunday night, PBS found itself the victim of a cyber attack by the group LulzSec, which hacked PBS’s site in retaliation for a Frontline episode about WikiLeaks whose tone they found unfavorable. The first evidence? A post on the NewsHour blog alleging that rapper Tupac Shakur, who died in 1996, was still alive and well in New Zealand. PBS responded quickly, but as late as Monday night at about 5:50 pm, according to Boing Boing, LulzSec still had access to the site. Their motivation, the group says in an interview with Forbes, is a mixture of “lulz and justice.”

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology

You Can Turn Your Phone into a Credit Card with Google Wallet. Will You?

By Veronique Greenwood | May 27, 2011 4:57 pm

wallet

What’s the News: Your phone can now be a credit card, thanks to Google Wallet, announced yesterday with great fanfare. With this system, when you swipe your phone over a sensor, a near-field communication (NFC) chip gives the merchant your credit card information. You punch in your PIN, and: cha-ching.

Google has partnered with 20,000 companies who will take payments this way, including Macy’s, American Eagle, and Subway.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology

Hi-Tech Archaeology Spots Lost Pyramids From Space, Explores Great Pyramid From Inside

By Valerie Ross | May 27, 2011 2:43 pm

Since before the Great Pyramid of Giza was enumerated as a wonder of the world two millennia ago, people have pored over the mysteries of these vast tombs. Now, modern technology is helping researchers glean new insight into the pyramids, revealing them from far above and exploring them from deep within.

Satellite images have revealed 17 “lost” pyramids and thousands of ancient tombs and settlements in Egypt, according to a BBC News report. Using a new imaging technique, researchers could pick out the outlines of ancient buildings buried under the surface.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Human Origins, Technology, Top Posts

Are Seismologists Responsible for People's Deaths in an Earthquake?

By Veronique Greenwood | May 27, 2011 10:08 am

quake
Destruction in L’Aquila, in the seismically active area of Abruzzi.

What’s the News: No one can predict earthquakes. But six seismologists and a government official are being tried for manslaughter in the deaths of more than 300 people in the 2009 tremblor in L’Aquila, Italy. The city’s public prosecutor says the scientists downplayed the possibility of a quake to an extent that townsfolk did not take precautions that could have saved their lives. A judge has just set the trial to begin on September 20.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment

New Way to Smuggle Drugs Into Brain May Lead to Better Alzheimer's Treatments

By Valerie Ross | May 26, 2011 11:48 am

What’s the News: A modified antibody can make its way into the brain and target the development of Alzheimer’s-inducing plaques, researchers reported today in two animal studies in Science Translational Medicine. The blood-brain barrier usually keeps drugs and other compounds from entering the brain in large enough quantities to be effective, but these studies show a way to trick the body’s own defenses into letting the drug in, demonstrating that this obstacle to treating Alzheimer’s could potentially be overcome.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain

Have Ice, Will Travel: Bacteria Seem to Get Down by Making Precipitation

By Veronique Greenwood | May 26, 2011 11:40 am

hail

What’s the News: Bacteria are everywhere—in us, on us, around us. But they’re also floating around in the atmosphere, and researchers cracking open hailstones have now discovered them at the core, lending credence to the theory that bacteria jump-start the atmospheric process of forming snow, hail, and rain as a way to hitch a ride down to Earth.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Living World

Metamaterials Could Help Wirelessly Charge Electronics by Making Space Disappear

By Valerie Ross | May 25, 2011 4:03 pm

What’s the News: Metamaterials could improve wireless power transfer, letting us one day charge our devices without the hassle of cords and wires, says a study published last week in Physical Review B. While wireless power transfer already works to for tiny amounts of energy, metamaterials could theoretically be used to safely and efficiently boost the technique to handle more power, such as microwaves and lasers.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics & Math, Technology

How to Stop Spammers: Focus on Money Going Out, Not Spam Coming In

By Veronique Greenwood | May 25, 2011 11:52 am

spam
The spam ecosystem.

What’s the News: Every day spammers are thinking up new ways to offer you “vIaGrA,” whether you have any interest or not, and spam filters have a tough time keeping up. Researchers studying what they call the “spam ecosystem” have outlined the processes and services spammers use in committing their nefarious deeds—going as far as to actually buy stuff in order to identify what banks they use—in hopes of finding new bottlenecks where regulators can disrupt spammers’ business model. Their findings? Hit ‘em where it hurts: their bank accounts.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology
MORE ABOUT: internet security, spam

Parallel Lines Never Cross, Even in Remote Amazonia

By Valerie Ross | May 24, 2011 3:20 pm

What’s the News: Adults and school-age children may understand some basic principles of geometry even without formal math training at all, according to a study published online yesterday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Thirty members of the Mundurucú, an indigenous Amazonian group, could intuitively grasp geometric concepts about angles, lines, and points, the researchers found.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Physics & Math
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