Taco Cowboy writes "Most of the younger /. readers never heard of the PDP-11, while we geezers have to retrieve bits and pieces of our affairs with PDP-11 from the vast warehouse inside our memory lanes." From the article: "HP might have nuked OpenVMS, but its parent, PDP-11, is still spry and powering GE nuclear power-plant robots and will do for another 37 years. That's right: PDP-11 assembler programmers are hard to find, but the nuclear industry is planning on keeping them until 2050 — long enough for a couple of generations of programmers to come and go." Not sure about the OpenVMS vs PDP comparison, but it's still amusing that a PDP might outlast all of the VAX machines.
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sciencehabit writes "Show a native-born Chinese person a picture of the Great Wall, and suddenly they'll have trouble speaking English, even if they usually speak it fluently. That's the conclusion of a new study, which finds that reminders of our home country can complicate our ability to speak a new language. The findings could help explain why cultural immersion is the most effective way to learn a foreign tongue and why immigrants who settle within an ethnic enclave acculturate more slowly than those who surround themselves with friends from their new country."
sciencehabit writes "In a few years, an iPhone app may give you a 3D layout of a room as soon as you step into it. Researchers have developed an algorithm that spits out the shape and contours of complex structures (including Switzerland's Lausanne Cathedral) using data compiled from four randomly placed microphones. The technology, which relies on the same sort of echolocation bats and dolphins use to navigate, could be used to develop more realistic echoes in video games and virtual reality simulations and to eliminate the echo from phone calls."
Freshly Exhumed writes "Dave Siever always fancied himself as something of a musician, but also realized he did not necessarily sing or play in perfect key. Then he strapped on the electrodes of a device made by his Edmonton company, and zapped his brain's auditory cortex with a mild dose of electricity. The result, he claims, was a dramatic improvement in his ability to hear pitch, including the sour notes he produced himself. 'Now I tune everything and I practise my singing over and over and over again, because I'm more sensitive to it.' Mr. Siever was not under the supervision of a doctor or psychologist, and nor is he one himself. He is part of an extraordinary trend that has amateur enthusiasts excited, and some scientists deeply nervous: do-it-yourself brain stimulation." With studies suggesting that small doses of electricity can: increase your memory, help you learn new tasks, make you better at math, turn you into a sniper in minutes, and most importantly make the ugly seem attractive, we can expect a lot of brain zapping in the next few years.
sciencehabit writes "Despite a slow economy, business in genomics has boomed and has directly and indirectly boosted the U.S. economy by $965 billion since 1988, according to a new study (pdf). In 2012 alone, genomics-related research and development, along with relevant industry activities, contributed $31 billion to the U.S. gross national product and helped support 152,000 jobs, the biomedical funding advocacy group United for Medical Research announced today in Washington, D.C. Based on total U.S. spending, the country gets $65 back for every $1 it spends on the field."
dcblogs writes "Hewlett-Packard executives say that the coming demise of Windows XP next year may do what Windows 8 could not, and that's boost PC sales significantly. 'We think this will bring a big opportunity for HP,' said Enrique Lore, senior vice president and general manager of HP's business PCs. Lore was asked, in a later interview, whether the demand for XP replacement systems could help sales more than Windows 8. His response was unequivocal: 'Yes, significantly more, especially on the commercial side,' he said. Lore said 40% to 50% of business users remain on XP systems."
simpz writes "The register is reporting that 'the ancient but trustworthy server operating system' OpenVMS has been discontinued. From the article: 'HP never really promoted its acquisition and OpenVMS suffered from a lack of development compared to HP-UX, itself suffering from competition from Linux. It was only a matter of time, but it's a sad end. Many of its old-time fans, your correspondent included, cherished a hope HP would move it to x86-64 – but since development moved to India in 2009, OpenVMS has been living on borrowed time. Now, it's run out.'"
sciencehabit writes "Nothing, some say, turns an atheist into a believer like the fear of death. 'There are no atheists in foxholes,' the saying goes. But a new study suggests that people in stressful situations don't always turn to a higher power. Sometimes, they turn to science. Both athletes preparing for a big race and students asked to write about their own death showed a 15% stronger belief in science than those under less stressful situations (abstract). 'In stressful situations people are likely to turn to whatever worldviews and beliefs are most meaningful to them,' says study co-author, Anna-Kaisa Newheiser, a psychologist at Yale University. And many people find the scientific worldview more compatible with their own."
sciencehabit writes "The mushroom clouds produced by more than 500 nuclear bomb tests during the Cold War may have had a silver lining, after all. More than 50 years later, scientists have found a way to use radioactive carbon isotopes released into the atmosphere by nuclear testing to settle a long-standing debate in neuroscience: Does the adult human brain produce new neurons? After working to hone their technique for more than a decade, the researchers report that a small region of the human brain involved in memory makes new neurons throughout our lives — a continuous process of self-renewal that may aid learning."
sciencehabit writes "Millions of people first met their spouses through online dating. But how have those marriages fared compared with those of people who met in more traditional venues such as bars or parties? Pretty well, according to a new study. A survey of nearly 20,000 Americans reveals that marriages between people who met online are at least as stable and satisfying as those who first met in the real world—possibly more so."
sciencehabit writes "In 2009, a global collaboration of scientists, public health agencies, and companies raced to make a vaccine against a pandemic influenza virus, but most of it wasn't ready until the pandemic had peaked. Now, researchers have come up with an alternative, faster strategy for when a pandemic influenza virus surfaces: Just squirt genes for the protective antibodies into people's noses. The method—which borrows ideas from both gene therapy and vaccination, but is neither—protects mice against a wide range of flu viruses in a new study."
An anonymous reader writes "While everyone was glued to the Xbox One announcement, Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 launch, and Intel's pre-Haswell frenzy, it seems that AMD's launch was overlooked. On Wednesday, AMD launched its latest line of mobile APUs, codenamed Temash, Kabini, and Richland. Temash is targeted towards smaller touchscreen-based devices such as tablets and the various Windows 8 hybrid devices, and comes in dual-core A4 and A6 flavors. Kabini chips are intended for the low-end notebook market, and come in quad-core A4 and A6 models along with a dual-core E2. Richland includes quad-core A8 and A10 models, and is meant for higher-end notebooks — MSI is already on-board for the A10-5750M in their GX series of gaming notebooks. All three new APUs feature AMD HD 8000-series graphics. Tom's Hardware got a prototype notebook featuring the new quad-core A4-5000 with Radeon HD 8300 graphics, and benchmarked it versus a Pentium B960-based Acer Aspire V3 and a Core-i3-based HP Pavillion Sleekbook 15. While Kabini proves more efficient, and features more powerful graphics than the Pentium, it comes up short in CPU-heavy tasks. What's more, the Core-i3 matches the A4-5000 in power efficiency while its HD 4000 graphics completely outpace the APU."
sciencehabit writes "Physicists have, for the first time, been able to image the quantum workings of electrons in hydrogen atoms, an advance that could open the door to a deeper understanding of the quantum world (abstract). Building on a 1981 proposal by three Russian theorists and more recent work that brought that proposal into the realm of possibility, the team first fired two lasers at hydrogen atoms inside a chamber, kicking off electrons at speeds and directions that depended on their underlying wave functions. A strong electric field inside the chamber guided the electrons to positions on a planar detector that depended on their initial velocities rather than on their initial positions. So the distribution of electrons striking the detector matched the wave function the electrons had at the moment they left their hydrogen nuclei behind. There may be practical applications in the future—a commentary accompanying the paper suggests that the method could aid in the development of technologies such as molecular wires, atom-thick conductors that could help shrink electronic devices—but that their result concerns 'extremely fundamental' physics that might be just as valuable for developing quantum intuition in the next generation of physicists."
sciencehabit writes "Physicists have long known that quantum mechanics allows for a subtle connection between quantum particles called entanglement, in which measuring one particle can instantly set the otherwise uncertain condition, or 'state,' of another particle—even if it's light years away. Now, experimenters in Israel have shown that they can entangle two photons that don't even exist at the same time. Anton Zeilinger, a physicist at the University of Vienna, says that the experiment demonstrates just how slippery the concepts of quantum mechanics are. 'It's really neat because it shows more or less that quantum events are outside our everyday notions of space and time.'"
sciencehabit writes "Archaeologists have long debated when early humans began hurling stone-tipped spears and darts at large prey. By throwing a spear, instead of thrusting it, humans could hunt buffalo and other dangerous game from a safe distance, with less risk of a goring or mauling. But direct evidence of this hunting technique in early sites has been lacking. A new study of impact marks on the bones of ancient prey shows that such sophisticated killing techniques go back at least 90,000 years ago in Africa and offers a new method of determining how prehistoric hunters made their kills."
sciencehabit writes "Whooping cough, or pertussis, has exploded in the United States in recent years. A new study (abstract) confirms what scientists have suspected for some time: The return of the disease is caused by the introduction of new, safer vaccines 2 decades ago. Although they have far fewer side effects, the new shots don't offer long-lived protection the way older vaccines do."
sciencehabit writes "If you are one of the 20% of healthy adults who struggle with basic arithmetic, simple tasks like splitting the dinner bill can be excruciating. Now, a new study suggests that a gentle, painless electrical current applied to the brain can boost math performance for up to 6 months. Researchers don't fully understand how it works, however, and there could be side effects." We've covered various other potential benefits to having your brain shocked.
sciencehabit writes "From the human perspective, few events in evolution were more momentous than the split among primates that led to apes (large, tailless primates such as today's gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans) and Old World monkeys (which today include baboons and macaques). DNA studies of living primates have estimated that the rift took place between 25 million and 30 million years ago, but the earliest known fossils of both groups date no earlier than 20 million years ago. Now, a team working in Tanzania has found teeth and partial jaws from what it thinks are 25-million-year-old ancestors of both groups. If the interpretations hold up (abstract), the finds would reconcile the molecular and fossil evidence and possibly provide insights into what led to the split in the first place."
sciencehabit writes "The carnivorous humped bladderwort, found on all continents except Antarctica, is a model of ruthless genetic efficiency. Only 3% of this aquatic plant's DNA is not part of a known gene, new research shows. In contrast, only 2% of human DNA is part of a gene. The bladderwort, named for its water-filled bladders that suck in unsuspecting prey, is a relative of the tomato. The finding overturns the notion that this repetitive, non-coding DNA, popularly called 'junk' DNA, is necessary for life."
Dr. Mark Post hopes to bring the dream of cultured meat one step closer to reality when he unveils his high tech hamburger in London. The five ounce burger is composed of 20,000 strips of beef muscle tissue grown in a laboratory at a cost of $325,000 (provided by an anonymous donor.) From the article: "The hamburger, assembled from tiny bits of beef muscle tissue grown in a laboratory and to be cooked and eaten at an event in London, perhaps in a few weeks, is meant to show the world — including potential sources of research funds — that so-called in-Vitro meat, or cultured meat, is a reality."