Why viral stowaways are a baby’s best friend - health - 12 September 2006 - New Scientist

Why viral stowaways are a baby’s best friend - health - 12 September 2006 - New Scientist: "Harmless viruses apparently stowed away for millions of years in the DNA of mammals have proved to be more than idle passengers.

New research in live sheep has demonstrated for the first time that they help embryos change shape, implant themselves in the womb and grow a placenta. The same almost certainly happens in other mammals, including humans, they say.

The findings provide new insights into how so-called endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) and mammals evolved together to the mutual advantage of both. ERVs typically account for 8% to 10% of the DNA in most mammals, including humans.

Far from being relics of infection dumped in the genetic equivalent of an attic, these viruses are turning out to play an active role in the way mammals develop and survive. Besides the role in pregnancy identified by the new research, they are already reckoned to help protect against harmful viruses, a role that could open up new avenues of medical treatment.

iBreath, your iPod-powered breathalyzer

iBreath, your iPod-powered breathalyzer: "Filed under: Misc. Gadgets, Portable AudioYou know that people are trying to jump on the iPod bandwagon when someone releases a breathalyzer that connects to the ubiquitous music player. Yes, David Steele Enterprises (no, not that David Steel) has just released an iBreath ($50, black or white color), a small device to plug into the dock connector of your iPod. Sticking out of the side of the device is the breathalyzer tube, and within five seconds it'll read out your blood alchohol content level, accurate to within 0.01 BAC -- oh and if that wasn't enough, it doubles as an FM transmitter for your car stereo. That just leaves us with one burning question: will Mr. Steele be sending one to recently DUIed Paris Hilton?

Google Reader

Google ReaderWhile mixin' it up iPod-style has certainly been done before, MusicJam is looking to combine the simplest of mixer functions with a karaoke machine in its aptly-named iPod Mixer. Essentially, this device allows you to add your own vocals and guitar riffs to the tune currently playing on your iPod, which could definitely bring out the "one man band" in any musician. The mixer sports an iPod dock (presumably compatible with the iPod with video only), microphone / guitar inputs, volume sliders, tone / distortion controls, RCA outputs, and even attempts to replicate that on-stage allure by touting echo / sustain options for your vocs. The company also throws in a microphone, mic clamp, and cabling to get you warmed up, and includes "KaraokeVideos" software to turn any jam into an iPod-compatible karaoke vid. While the quality here is certainly questionable, it looks to be a solid addition to your Korg-infused Les Paul, and hey, getting you fully prepped for that karaoke circuit will only set you back $229.


gizmag Article: Custom Designed Mermaid Suit

gizmag Article: Custom Designed Mermaid Suit: "If you've got a thing about Darryl Hannah and the movie 'Splash', this offering from the 2003 Neiman Marcus Christmas Book could be the ideal plaything. It's a mermaid outfit. And not just any one-size-fits-all fish-tail, but a custom designed suit by Thom Shouse, who has more than 20 years of experience creating mermaid suits for film and television.The US$10,000 mermaid package included in the Neiman Marcus Chrstmas Book included a consultation and custom fitting for the suit (complete with faux-pearl accented shell top), training for how to swim with a tail covering the hips and legs and instructions on how to maintain this unique pool accessory.


How to: hook up a hard drive to your Nintendo DS

How to: hook up a hard drive to your Nintendo DS: "Filed under: GamingWe'll forever be in awe of people like Alexei Karpenko, a modder who one day 'decided to do a quick IDE to GBAMP hack'. That's right -- as a casual aside, Alexei hooked up a hard drive to his Nintendo DS via a GameBoy cartridge originally designed to play short movies from a CompactFlash card. The hack is apparently possible due to similarities between the CF interface and that of standard IDE hard drives: Alexei simply soldered the correct pins onto a 40GB disk and connected it to a 11.1 volt battery and 5 volt DC-to-DC converter. As you can see, the unwieldy setup isn't much of a PSP rival (remember, that second 'P' stands for portable), but the mere fact that it's at all possible will undoubtedly impress your inner geek.


Disappearing act (September 2006) - Physics World - PhysicsWeb

Disappearing act (September 2006) - Physics World - PhysicsWeb: "Invisibility has inspired countless myths, novels and films – most recently involving Harry Potter. It is important to realize, however, that invisibility is not the same as transparency. H G Wells’ Invisible Man, for instance, makes himself transparent by inventing a recipe to make his refractive index uniform so that light cannot be scattered or absorbed in his body. In contrast, the Invisible Woman character creates a field that distorts space a bit like the way in which Einstein’s gravitational field warps space–time. Her field is cunningly designed to smoothly guide light around her so that she remains hidden whatever she does. In the September issue of Physics World, Ulf Leonhardt and Thomas Philbin describe how this approach to invisibility has allowed a team led by John Pendry of Imperial College in the UK, and, independently, Leonhardt himself to develop the scientific concepts for a bona fide invisibility device.

Almost certain escape from a black hole (September 2006) - Physics World - PhysicsWeb

Almost certain escape from a black hole (September 2006) - Physics World - PhysicsWeb: "Recent theoretical results have overturned the long-held notion that information cannot escape from a black hole, explains Seth Lloyd.


United States Patent Application: 0060195313

United States Patent Application: 0060195313: Here [to be] the latest egregious patent application.
Microsoft [to be] [to apply] for a patent for [to conjugate] verbs.

A verb conjugating system allows a user to input a form of a verb and display the verb forms. The verb conjugating system allows the user to input the infinitive form or non-infinitive forms of a verb. When a user inputs a non-infinitive form of a verb, the verb conjugating system identifies a corresponding base form of the verb. The verb conjugating system then uses the base form to retrieve and display the verb forms for the verb. The verb conjugating system may highlight the non-infinitive form of the verb within the displayed verb forms to assist the user in locating the verb form of interest."


Nanoscientists Create Biological Switch From Spinach Molecule

Nanoscientists Create Biological Switch From Spinach Molecule: "Nanoscientists have transformed a molecule of chlorophyll-a from spinach into a complex biological switch that has possible future applications for green energy, technology and medicine.


Record your xtreem exploits with Elmo's SUV-Cam

Record your xtreem exploits with Elmo's SUV-Cam: "Filed under: Digital Cameras
If one of your stoner friends is planning on emulating something they might see in Jackass 2, and they'd rather not have a camera involved that happens to be as fragile as their spine, you might want to recommend the new SUV-Cam from Elmo. Not only is the camera unit waterproof, but it snakes away from the recorder unit for easier positioning and extra durability. The recorder features a 2.2-inch LCD and stores vids via SD card, but only boasts two hours of battery life, so we suppose Elmo figures you'll either be dead or worn-out by you xtreem tasks before you use all the juice. The best news is that the camera features a 440,000 pixel CCD, and records 25fps at a 704 x 480 resolution, so you won't have to trade off as much quality as usual to bring your camera to the action. Unfortunately, the SUV-Cam has a price to match its feature set: ¥88,900, about $761 USD.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility: News Releases

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility: News Releases: "Washington, DC — Prosecution of polluters by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “will be compromised” due to the loss of “timely, correct and accessible” information from the agency’s closure of its network of technical libraries, according to an internal memo released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). EPA enforcement staff currently rely upon the libraries to obtain technical information to support pollution prosecutions and to track the business histories of regulated industries.

In a memo prepared last week by the enforcement arm of EPA, called the Office of Enforcement and Compliance (OECA), agency staff detailed concerns about the effects of EPA’s plans to close many of its libraries, box up the collections and eliminate or sharply reduce library services. Each year, EPA’s libraries handle more than 134,000 research requests from its own scientific and enforcement staff.

Bush Nixes Public Access to EPA Libraries!

Bush Nixes Public Access to EPA Libraries!: "What has been termed, "positively Orwellian", by PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, is indeed frightening. It seems that the self-appointed "Decider", George W. Bush, has decided to "end public access to research materials" at EPA Regional libraries without Congressional consent. In an all out effort to impede research and public access, Bush has implemented a loosely covert operation to close down 26 technical libraries under the guise of a budgetary constraint move. Scientists are protesting, but at least 15 of the libraries will be closed by Sept. 30, 2006.

Public access to EPA libraries and collections will end as soon as possible", according to a report found online at PEER, an acronym for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. All total, nearly 80,000 documents, not in digital format, are being boxed up and placed in infinite limbo status by the Bush Administration. The scene from the Raiders of the Lost Ark, where the Ark of the Covenant was wheeled into a massive sea of identical box crates, inside an enormous warehouse, comes vividly to mind.