Sci/tech

Computer scientist fights threat of ”˜botnets’
November 12, 2007 07:29 PM - Brian Mattmiller , UW-Madison

Madison, Wisconsin - Computer scientist Paul Barford has watched malicious traffic on the Internet evolve from childish pranks to a billion-dollar “shadow industry” in the last decade, and his profession has largely been one step behind the bad guys. Viruses, phishing scams, worms and spyware are only the beginning, he says.

“Some of the most worrisome threats today are things called ‘botnets’ — computers that are taken over by an outside party and are beyond the user’s control,” says Barford of UW–Madison. “They can do all sorts of nasty things: steal passwords, credit card numbers and personal information, and use the infected machine to forward spam and attack other machines.

“Botnets represent a convergence of all of the other threats that have existed for some time,” he adds.

Congressional Hearing on Asteroid Threat
November 12, 2007 01:06 PM -

Davis, California - UC Davis physics professor J. Anthony Tyson will testify before Congress on Thursday, Nov. 8, on near-Earth asteroids. Tyson will talk about the potential role of the proposed Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) in surveying the sky for objects that might eventually strike our planet. The hearing of the House Committee on Science and Technology will begin at 10 a.m. in room 2318 of the Rayburn Office Building.

Energy From Hot Rocks
November 12, 2007 01:02 PM - UC Davis

Two UC Davis geologists are taking part in the Iceland Deep Drilling Project, an international effort to learn more about the potential of geothermal energy, or extracting heat from rocks.

Professors Peter Schiffman and Robert Zierenberg are working with Wilfred Elders, professor emeritus at UC Riverside, Dennis Bird at Stanford University and Mark Reed at the University of Oregon to study the chemistry that occurs at high pressures and temperatures two miles below Iceland.

"We hope to understand the process of heat transfer when water reacts with hot volcanic rocks and how that changes the chemistry of fluids circulating at depth," Zierenberg said. "We know very little about materials under these conditions."

Drug injecting triggers most Mauritius HIV cases
November 12, 2007 12:35 PM -

ROCHE BOIS, Mauritius (Reuters) - Drug abuse accounts for 92 percent of new HIV infections in Mauritius, up from just 14 percent in 2002, the government said on Monday.

The Indian Ocean island nation has an estimated HIV prevalence rate of 1.8 percent, which is low for the region. On the African mainland, HIV infection rates stand at 16.1 percent in Mozambique and 18.8 percent in South Africa, for example.

But officials say risky practices like sharing needles used for injecting drugs are causing many more infections. Mauritius suffers the second highest rate of heroin and opiate use in the world, according to U.N. figures.

Make Way for the Real Nanopod
November 12, 2007 09:08 AM - Berkely Lab

BERKELEY, CA — Make way for the real nanopod and make room in the Guinness World Records. A team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California at Berkeley have created the first fully functional radio from a single carbon nanotube, which makes it by several orders of magnitude the smallest radio ever made.

Researchers build a better leaf
November 12, 2007 08:35 AM - University of Illinois, Diana Yates

CHAMPAIGN, IL.  - University of Illinois researchers have built a better plant, one that produces more leaves and fruit without needing extra fertilizer. The researchers accomplished the feat using a computer model that mimics the process of evolution. Theirs is the first model to simulate every step of the photosynthetic process.

Prehistoric women had passion for fashion
November 12, 2007 08:22 AM - Ljilja Cvekic

If the figurines found in an ancient European settlement are any guide, women have been dressing to impress for at least 7,500 years.

Recent excavations at the site -- part of the Vinca culture which was Europe's biggest prehistoric civilization -- point to a metropolis with a great degree of sophistication and a taste for art and fashion, archaeologists say.

J-PAL course in Nigeria promotes science-based approach in poverty fight
November 11, 2007 10:37 PM -

MIT's Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is technically located in Building E60 on the edge of east campus. But J-PAL's real laboratory is a primary school in a sub-Saharan African town, a household kitchen in a home in rural India, an unemployment line in a suburb of Paris-anywhere antipoverty programs are necessary to improve a population's health and well-being.

J-PAL is dedicated to fighting poverty by ensuring that policy decisions are based on scientific evidence. As part of that effort, J-PAL undertakes, promotes the use of and disseminates the results of randomized evaluations of poverty-alleviating programs.

A Giant Step toward Infinitesimal Machinery
November 11, 2007 10:33 PM - Caltech News

Pasadena, Calif.--What are the ultimate limits to miniaturization? How small can machinery--with internal workings that move, turn, and vibrate--be produced? What is the smallest scale on which computers can be built? With uncanny and characteristic insight, these are questions that the legendary Caltech physicist Richard Feynman asked himself in the period leading up to a famous 1959 lecture, the first on a topic now called nanotechnology.

In a newly announced global Alliance for Nanosystems VLSI (very-large-scale integration), researchers at Caltech's Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI) in Pasadena, California, and at the Laboratoire d'Electronique et de Technologie de l'Information-Micro- and Nano-Technologies (CEA/LETI-MINATEC) in Grenoble, France, are working together to take the pursuit of this vision to an entirely new level.

 

 

 

 

World faces choice on human cloning: U.N. study
November 11, 2007 10:09 PM - Reuters

OSLO (Reuters) - The world faces a stark choice between banning cloning of humans or preparing ways to protect them from potential abuse or discrimination, a U.N. study said on Sunday.

Experts at the U.N. University's Institute of Advanced Studies said it would only be a matter of time before scientists manage to clone a human if governments do not impose a ban.

"Whichever path the international community chooses it will have to act soon -- either to prevent reproductive cloning or to defend the human rights of cloned individuals," said A.H. Zakri, head of the Institute, which is based in Yokohama, Japan.

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