Archive for May, 2011

Doctors Say They Own Your Reviews—a Prescription for Legal High Jinks

By Veronique Greenwood | May 24, 2011 2:35 pm

If you talk smack on Yelp, it’s coming down.

What’s the News: Sign here, here, here, and here—that’s the first thing your doctor’s office asks you to do. Chances are, you’re not reading the forms too closely. But tucked in there might be a little clause that goes something like this: “all your online reviews are belong to us.” And if you refuse to sign it, they’ll refuse to see you.

Doctors and dentists have started including this language, provided by an organization called Medical Justice, in their releases in an effort to keep negative online reviews from going up on sites like Yelp. But, as Ars Technica found, there are about a million different ways that this is both silly and pointless.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine

New PJs Could Watch You Snooze—& Track Effects of That Last Cup of Coffee

By Veronique Greenwood | May 24, 2011 8:32 am

What’s the News: Smart clothes might soon be coming into bed with you. A company is developing shirts endowed with a chip that senses the changes in breathing that accompany shifts in sleep phase, to help people track how variables like exercise, coffee intake, and stress affect their sleep.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, Technology

Ulcer-Causing Bacteria May Play a Role in Parkinson's

By Valerie Ross | May 23, 2011 4:44 pm

What’s the News: The bacterium that causes ulcers and some stomach cancers, Helicobacter pylori, could at least contribute to Parkinson’s disease, according to a new study in mice presented at a microbiology conference yesterday. Mice infected with H. pylori have shown Parkinson’s-like symptoms, building on earlier work that has suggested a link between the bacteria and Parkonson’s disease.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, Mind & Brain

Google Tries to Jump-Start the Driverless Car, But Big Questions Loom

By Veronique Greenwood | May 23, 2011 4:17 pm

What’s the News: Google’s self-driving cars have been generating buzz lately, with the news that the company has been lobbying Nevada to allow the autonomous vehicles to be operated on public roads. But it remains to be seen whether hordes of self-driving cars really going to work in the real world.

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Finally, a Way to Predict Earthquakes? Atmospheric Temp Spiked Before Japan Quake

By Veronique Greenwood | May 23, 2011 9:53 am

In this images of infrared radiation in the days before the March 11 earthquake, the red circle indicates the epicenter and the red lines are tectonic faults.

What’s the News: Scientists analyzing the March 11 earthquake in Japan will have the benefit of some of the most sensitive and comprehensive atmospheric data yet, thanks to satellites monitoring climate. And a team has now reported a strange effect—a sudden spike in the temperature in the atmosphere above the quake site—detected just before the event. If the spike was related to the quake, and other earthquakes do the same thing, it might help scientists predict such cataclysms in the future.

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Mammals' Big Brains Started with Better Sense of Smell

By Valerie Ross | May 20, 2011 2:18 pm

What’s the News: Mammals’ increased brain size may have come from long-ago natural selection for a better sense of smell, suggests a new study published today in Science. By reconstructing in 3D the skulls of two animals far back on the mammal family tree, the researchers saw that growth of smell-related brain regions accounted for much of the early increase in brain size as mammals developed.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Mind & Brain

Quiet Places on Earth's Crust Are Core-Meltingly Hot Underneath

By Patrick Morgan | May 20, 2011 1:26 pm

What’s the News: In geologists’ traditional view of the middle of the Earth, the solid inner core is gradually growing as more of the liquid core freezes, as the planet continues its billions-of-years-long process of cooling off. But now scientists are suggesting that parts of the solid inner core get so hot that they turn liquid, and that this is all linked to what’s happening in the Earth’s crust—meaning that our the earthquakes, volcanoes, and plate tectonics that we see are connected to the very heart of the planet.

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SpaceShipTwo Shows Off New, Clever Way to Descend: Wobbling Like a Shuttlecock

By Veronique Greenwood | May 20, 2011 12:46 pm

What’s the News: Virgin Galactic’s plans for taking tourists into space have inched closer to fulfillment: earlier this month, the company’s SpaceShipTwo successfully demonstrated the technique, called “feathering,” that will allow the ship to reenter Earth’s atmosphere. In this video, you can watch the ship, designed to behave like a badminton shuttlecock, tip and roll as the pilot flips the craft’s tail to a 65 degree angle, which will brake SpaceShipTwo while it’s still high in the atmosphere. This means the ship will descend slowly enough to keep from igniting as it reenters.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space, Technology

What Makes a Young Stud of a Booby? Bright Blue Feet & Impeccable Sperm

By Patrick Morgan | May 19, 2011 2:29 pm

What’s the News: It turns out that humans aren’t too different from blue-footed boobies, at least when it comes to age and fertility. Researchers have recently discovered that the sperm of blue-footed boobies declines with age. And unlike humans, the blue feet of the boobies also fade with age, revealing that one reason why female boobies tend to mate with brighter-footed males is to ensure the robustness of the sperm and the health of their offspring. “The study provides us with a new way of looking at what lies behind sexual signals,” lead author Alberto Velando told TIME, “pointing to the importance of sexual selection in eliminating genetic mutations.” Read More


Snake Venom, With Ketchup-Like Viscosity, Oozes Into Prey

By Valerie Ross | May 19, 2011 8:08 am

What’s the News: Most poisonous snakes don’t inject their prey with venom; instead, they bite the prey and venom insidiously trickles down a groove on their fangs into the wound. A new study in Physical Review Letters investigated the physics behind how venom travels down the grooves: It turns out that snake venom has unusual viscosity properties that keep it cohering together until it’s time to flow down the fangs and into the snake’s soon-to-be-snack—the same properties that account for how ketchup seems stuck in the bottle, then flows freely onto your fries.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, Physics & Math

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