1/20/2008

Pentagon Explores ‘Human Fear’ Chemicals

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

American military researchers are working to uncover and harness the most terrifying chemical imaginable: that most primal odor, the scent of fear.
Scream
Pheromones are chemicals released by animals as signals to their own kind: for sex, for territorial marking, and more. They’re often detected in the olfactory membranes. But there’s more to pheromones than attraction. Many animals have an alarm pheromone which is used to signal danger; aphids, for example, use it to cause their fellow lice to flee.

Now, the US Army is trying to track down and harness people’s smell of fear. The military has backed a study on the “Identification and Isolation of Human Alarm Pheromones,” which “focused on the Preliminary Identification of Steroids of Interest in Human Fear Sweat.” The so-called “skydiving protocol” was the researchers’ method of choice.

New Blu-ray 2.0 spec makes PS3 the most future-proof player

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

With the sudden and unexpected announcement from Warner that the studio would be abandoning HD DVD titles in favor of Blu-ray, it seemed to many observers that the high-def format war was all over, bar the shouting.

With the upcoming 2.0 player profile requiring Blu-ray players to be networked, Sony finally gets to play its trump card: the PlayStation 3, which has clearly emerged as one of the best Blu-ray players on the market—and is likely to remain so for some time. Why? Because the first player now becomes the most versatile, sporting a future-proof Blu-ray setup.

Microsoft Threatens Startups Over Account Info

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

According to Fortune, there are reports that Microsoft is trying to strong arm startups to give preferential treatment to MSN Messenger and are using account information as leverage. ‘If the company wants to offer other IM services (from Yahoo, Google or AOL, say), Messenger must get top billing. And if the startup wants to offer any other IM service, it must pay Microsoft 25 cents a user per year for a site license.’ Of course, if the company is willing to use Messenger exclusively ‘fee will be discounted 100 percent.’

Getting detailed information is difficult as many of the companies being approached are afraid of reprisals.

European Politicians Launch Pro-Filesharing Campaign

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Greens EFA, a coalition of two political parties that currently have 42 seats in the European parliament, have launched a pro-filesharing campaign named “I Wouldn’t Steal”. Their goal is to counter the anti-piracy propaganda put forward by the entertainment industry, and encourage people to download and share.

The message put forward by the parties is pretty strong: “Whenever you rent a movie, the multinational media industry forces you to watch their propaganda. They claim that downloading movies is the same as snatching bags, stealing cars or shoplifting. That’s simply not true – making a copy is fundamentally different from stealing.”

Greens EFA claim that the entertainment industry exploits artists and sell propaganda, and want to make the public aware of this. We couldn’t agree more of course, and it is good to see that these established political parties are attempting to decriminalize filesharing. As they write: “The media industry has failed to offer viable legal alternatives and they will fail to convince consumers that sharing equals stealing. Unfortunately, they have succeeded in another area – lobbying to adapt laws to criminalize sharing, turning consumers into criminals.”

Google To Offer Free Database Storage for Scientists

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Google has revealed a new project aimed at the scientific community. Called Palimpsest, the site research.google.com will play host to ‘terabytes of open-source scientific datasets’. It was originally previewed for scientists last August .

‘Building on the company’s acquisition of the data visualization technology, Trendalyzer, from the oft-lauded, TED presenting Gapminder team, Google will also be offering algorithms for the examination and probing of the information. The new site will have YouTube-style annotating and commenting features.

NASA moon rocket may be flawed

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

NASA is wrestling with a potentially dangerous problem in a spacecraft, this time in a moon rocket that hasn’t even been built yet.

Engineers are concerned that the new rocket meant to replace the space shuttle and send astronauts on their way to the moon could shake violently during the first few minutes of flight, possibly destroying the entire vehicle.

“They know it’s a real problem,” said Carnegie Mellon University engineering professor Paul Fischbeck, who has consulted on risk issues with NASA in the past. “This thing is going to shake apart the whole structure, and they’ve got to solve it.”

If not corrected, the shaking would arise from the powerful first stage of the Ares I rocket, which will lift the Orion crew capsule into orbit.

NASA officials hope to have a plan for fixing the design as early as March, and they do not expect it to delay the goal of returning astronauts to the moon by 2020.

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