medcalf writes “NBC reports that Alan Stern’s Golden Spike Company is planning commercial trips to the Moon. From the article: ‘A group of space veterans and big-name backers today took the wraps off the Golden Spike Company, a commercial space venture that aims to send paying passengers to the moon and back at an estimated price of $1.4 billion or more for two. The venture would rely on private funding, and it’s not clear when the first lunar flight would be launched — but the idea reportedly has clearance from NASA, which abandoned its own back-to-the-moon plan three and a half years ago. Golden Spike’s announcement came on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 17, the last manned moonshot. Backers of the plan, including former NASA executive Alan Stern and former Apollo flight director Gerry Griffin, were to discuss the company’s strategy at a National Press Club briefing at 2 p.m. ET, but some of the details were laid out in a news release issued before the briefing. “A key element that makes our business achievable and compelling is Golden Spike’s team of nationally and internationally known experts in human and robotic spaceflight, planetary and lunar science, exploration, venture capital formation, and public outreach,” Stern said in the news release.’”
Source: Golden Spike Working On Private Moon Flights
writes “A new version of the MaControl malware has been reported in the wild. More information on the malware, its behavior, and the attack campaign is available from Kaspersky Labs, who discovered this variant. As more malware authors become motivated to attack OS X it is likely that we will continue to see targeted attacks such as this in the future. Just like with PC malware, a combination of exploits and social engineering tricks are generally the most effective; it won’t be surprising to see a spike in such attacks soon.”
Source: New Version of the MaControl Trojan Spotted In the Wild
scibri writes “A few weeks ago, reports of a mysterious spike in carbon-14 levels in Japanese tree rings corresponding to the year 775 intrigued astronomers. Such a spike could only have been caused by a massive supernova or solar flare, but there was no evidence of either of these at that time. Until Jonathon Allen, a biochem undergrad at UC Santa Cruz, Googled it. He found a reference in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to a ‘red crucifix’ appearing in the sky in 774, and speculates that it could have been a supernova hidden behind a cloud of dust, which could mask the remnants of the exploded star from astronomers today.”
Source: Has a Biochem Undergrad Solved a Cosmic Radiation Mystery?
Categories: slashdot anglo saxon chronicle, biochem, cosmic radiation, japanese tree, Jonathon Allen, Santa Cruz, scibri, solar flare, spike, supernova, uc santa cruz, undergrad
February 28th, 2012 02:13
sciencehabit writes “Scientists have long known that a group of viruses called bacteriophages have a knack for infiltrating bacteria and that some begin their attack with a protein spike. But the tip of this spike is so small that no one knew what it was made of or exactly how it worked. Now a team of researchers has found a single iron atom at the head of the spike, a discovery that suggests phages enter bacteria in a different way than surmised (abstract).”
Source: Bacteria-Killing Viruses Wield an Iron Spike
December 28th, 2011 12:58
November 23rd, 2011 11:12
sciencehabit writes “In 2008, the Italian satellite PAMELA picked up an unusual signal: a spike in antimatter particles whizzing through space. The discovery, controversial at the time, hinted that physicists might be coming close to detecting dark matter, an enigmatic substance thought to account for 85% of the matter in the universe. Now, new data from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope confirm the spike (abstract).”
Source: Cosmic Antimatter Excess Confirmed
Categories: slashdot antimatter, antimatter particles, dark matter, Fermi Gamma-ray, gamma ray, matter, pamela, Ray Space, sciencehabit, space, space telescope, spike
What’s the News: Things got very drowsy in China after the swine flu pandemic of 2009: narcolepsy, a neurological disease that involves sudden sleepiness, tripled in the months afterwards. Scientists have wondered whether additives in flu vaccines could be behind the spike of snooziness there and in other countries, but a new report says that even people who weren’t vaccinated came down with it. Could narcolepsy be caused by the flu virus itself?
How the Heck:
- Scientists had noticed the spike in narcolepsy cases in European countries after the flu pandemic before. But they had thought that it was due to substances in the vaccines that kick the immune system into over-drive.
- In China, however, the vaccines didn’t include those substances, and few people were vaccinated. Yet the surge in narcolepsy cases still occurred. To learn more, the team obtained hospital data on about 906 people who had been diagnosed with narcolepsy between 1998 and 2011 and further questioned a subset of them who had developed it after the flu pandemic, only 5.6% of whom had been vaccinated.
- They found that even before the pandemic, narcolepsy cases were seasonal, almost never occurring in November and peaking April. That’s about 5-7 months after flu season, which, along with the unusual surge after 2009, led the researchers to suggest that the flu itself could be the cause.
What’s the Context:
- Narcolepsy, frequently depicted in pop culture, is a chronic neurological disease characterized by sudden naps, usually lasting about 15 minutes, and sudden loss of muscle tone.Â Scientists think that some combination of a genetic predisposition and environmental cues are behind it, and there’s some evidence that other respiratory infections, like strep throat, have triggered cases in the past.
- They also suspect it is an autoimmune disorder, perhaps caused when immune cells destroy neurons that produce hypocretin, a protein that regulates sleep.
The Future Holds: The fact that narcolepsy is seasonal is interesting, but it’s not proof of a connection with flu (after all, April is also a season when many people have allergies, but it doesn’t mean the two are related). Establishing a connection between the them will likely require carefully timed molecular biology studies of people who’ve had flu and narcolepsy and comparison with folks who have had neither.
Reference: Fang Han et al. Narcolepsy onset is seasonal and increased following the 2009 H1N1 pandemic in China. Annals of Neurology. Article first published online: 22 AUG 2011. DOI: 10.1002/ana.22587
Image courtesy of Daniel Morris / flickr
[via New Scientist]
Source: Is the Flu Behind China’s Burst of Narcolepsy?
Categories: 80beats China, Daniel Morris, Disease, Fang Han, flu, flu season, flu vaccines, flu virus, genetic predisposition, Heck, narcolepsy, rsquo, spike, swine flu pandemic
Trailrunner7 writes “There has been a huge spike in spam volume in the last few days, including a massive amount of malicious spam with infected attachments, and researchers say that levels of junk mail are now far higher than they were before the takedown of the notorious Spamit affiliate program last fall. The huge spike comes at a time when spam should, in fact, be dropping because of the takedown of the Rustock botnet, the Spamit network and other botnets. ‘From the beginning of August, we have observed a huge surge of malicious spam which far exceeds anything we have seen over the past two years, including prior to the SpamIt takedown last October. The majority of the malicious spam comes from the Cutwail botnet, although Festi and Asprox are among the other contributors,’ M86 researcher Rodel Mendrez said.”
Source: Malicious Spam Spikes To ‘Epic’ Level
I am still recovering from Disrupt NYC. It was our biggest event ever, and we’ll be posting more videos and highlights throughout the next few days. But here are a couple of charts that give a snapshot of the activity around the event as measured by Tweets with the event hashtag #TCDisrupt (thanks for the charts, Simply Measured).
In the chart above you can see the distribution of Tweets across the three days. That spike on Day three was related to an iPad giveaway linked to people Tweeting out the hashtag, which was Tweeted out 18,177 times (and that doesn’t include tweets that used other hashtags such as #disrupt or simply mentioned Disrupt without a hashtag).
But I particularly like the chart below, which shows the distribution of Tweets with the #TCDisrupt hashtag which also mentioned the names of the six Battlefield finalists. In terms of which companies generated the most buzz on Twitter, Disrupt NYC winner Getaround garnered the most mentions with a 38 percent share. Runner-up Sonar was second with 21 percent, with the other runner-up BillGuard getting 17 percent. Another finalist, Do@, edged out BillGuard with 18 percent of mentions.
You can find videos of the finalists and all of Disrupt NYC here.
Source: Disrupt NYC, In Tweets
February 10th, 2011 02:59
IamTheRealMike writes “The BitCoin peer to peer currency briefly reached exchange parity with the US dollar today after a spike in demand for the coins pushed prices slightly above 1 USD:1 BTC. BitCoin was launched in early 2009, so in only two years this open source currency has gone from having no value at all to one with not only an open market of competing exchanges, but the ability to buy real goods and services like web hosting, gadgets, organic beauty products and even alpaca socks.”
Source: Online-Only Currency BitCoin Reaches Dollar Parity