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primarily for students of technology and psychology


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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Libraries Defend Open Access. aisaac writes "Earlier this year an article in Nature (PDF, subscription required) exposed publishers' plans to equate public access to federally funded research with government censorship and the destruction of peer review. In an open letter last month, Rockefeller University Press castigated the publishers' sock-puppet outfit, PRISM, for using distorting rhetoric in a coordinated PR attack on open access. Now the Association of Research Libraries has released an Issue Brief addressing this PR campaign in more detail. The Issue Brief exposes some of the distortions used to persuade key policy makers that recent gains made by open access scientific publishing pose a danger to peer reviewed scientific research, free markets, and possibly the future of western civilization. As an example of what the publishers backing PRISM hate, consider the wonderfully successful grants policy of the National Institutes of Health, which requires papers based on grant-funded research to be published in PubMed Central."[Slashdot]
8:12:05 AM    comment []

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Step Closer to Creating Artificial Life. slick_shoes writes to mention that Italian researcher Giovanni Murtas has taken another step towards creating life in a test tube. "To the untrained eye, the tiny, misshapen, fatty blobs on Giovanni Murtas's microscope slide would not look very impressive. But when the Italian scientist saw their telltale green fluorescent glint he knew he had achieved something remarkable — and taken a vital step towards building a living organism from scratch. The green glow was proof that his fragile creations were capable of making their own proteins, a crucial ability of all living things and vital for carrying out all other aspects of life."[Slashdot]
10:37:16 PM    comment []

Ohio Court Admits Lie Detector Tests As Evidence. An anonymous reader writes "Last month, an Ohio court set a new precedent by allowing polygraph test results to be entered as evidence in a criminal trial. Do lie detectors really belong in the court room? critiques the polygraph evidence from the this precedential case (Ohio v. Sharma)."[Slashdot]
10:36:07 PM    comment []

Implanted RFID Chips Linked To Cancer. An anonymous reader writes "The Associated Press is reporting that microchip implants have induced cancer in laboratory animals and dogs. A series of research articles spanning more than a decade found that mice and rats injected with glass-encapsulated RFID transponders developed malignant, fast-growing, lethal cancers in up to 1% to 10% of cases. The tumors originated in the tissue surrounding the microchips and often grew to completely surround the devices. To date, about 2,000 RFID devices have been implanted in humans worldwide, according to VeriChip Corp." We recently discussed the California ban on companies requiring such implants. [Slashdot]
10:35:09 PM    comment []

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Economist on Google. The Economist devotes this weekend's cover to Google, asking the question "Who's afraid of Google?" Readers of my blog will know that I've got a healthy fear of the company, but I was pleased to see the Economist ask the question I've been asking for quite some time (if privately to not appear over-paranoid).
Google is often compared to Microsoft (another enemy, incidentally); but its evolution is actually closer to that of the banking industry. Just as financial institutions grew to become repositories of people's money, and thus guardians of private information about their finances, Google is now turning into a custodian of a far wider and more intimate range of information about individuals. Yes, this applies also to rivals such as Yahoo! and Microsoft. But Google, through the sheer speed with which it accumulates the treasure of information, will be the one to test the limits of what society can tolerate.
Indeed. It's no secret that Google is in the data business; between your search history (Google search), your mail (Gmail), browsing history (Google toolbar), your financial transactions (Google payments), your blog habits (Blogger + Feedburner) and all other behaviors reported by Adsense cookies and Google analytics, it can be argued that Google has a "complete" view of many of our online behaviors. Now, imagine what would happen if your "Google Dossier" got out? If a branch of the federal government had as much data about as many of us as Google does, how would we feel about it?

This is not to say that Google plans on releasing our Dossiers. As the data gets more complete, more centralized and more wide ranging, the cost of the accidental (or non-accidental) release increases exponentially. The Economist points to the example of Nick Leeson, a trader who single-handedly brought down the Bearings Bank. Imagine how much a political operative would pay for the search logs for Hillary Clinton or Mitt Romney's home or offices.

Google would rather us not think about this possibility. According to the Economist, millionaire managers are forced to abide by a proletarian dress code to play up Google's friendly image.
[A former executive] started receiving detailed e-mails “enforcing� Google's outward informality by reminding her that high heels and jewellery were inappropriate. Before the corporate ski trip, it was explained that “if you wear fur, they will kill you.�
Of course, the folksy dress and casual image are all constructed, tuned precisely and framed to make Google appear as our "corporate friend". As we buy into it, our willingness to share data grows. When will our moment of comprehension come, and how many of us will it touch? I think we all want to avoid that day, but as Google's size and appetite for data grows, it appears increasingly inevitable. [Unit Structures]
7:29:09 AM    comment []

Grow Your Own Heart Valves. jcr writes "Medical researchers in Britain have succeeded in growing a heart valve from adult stem cells taken from bone marrow. The research is being reported in the journal of the Royal Society today. Growing a heart value from your own cells means that tissue rejection isn't an issue."[Slashdot]
7:25:36 AM    comment []

Scientist Must Pay to Read His Own Paper. Glyn Moody writes "Peter Murray Rust, a chemist at Cambridge University, was lost for words when he found Oxford University Press's website demanded $48 from him to access his own scientific paper, in which he holds copyright and which he released under a Creative Commons license. As he writes, the journal in question was "selling my intellectual property, without my permission, against the terms of the license (no commercial use)." In the light of this kind of copyright abuse and of the PRISM Coalition, a new FUD group set up by scientific publishers to discredit open access, isn't it time to say enough is enough, and demand free access to the research we pay for through our taxes?"[Slashdot]
7:21:35 AM    comment []

Pink, Blue, and Bad Science. DocDJ writes "Ben Goldacre writes an excellent column in The Guardian called Bad Science, which regularly demonstrates how poor the mainstream media are at reporting science. He recently pointed out the flaws in the reporting of research that purported to show the evolutionary basis of 'blue for boys, pink for girls'." Another Guardian writer, Zoe Williams, has an even more acerbic take on the research.[Slashdot] -- This is really a serious problem when combined with information overload and web dependence because there is no easy way to check as many of the scientific journals are still subscription only.  The shortcomings of science news impacts science teaching of current findings which are important in the context of publication lag compounded by the pace of developments. -- BL

7:19:41 AM    comment []

Comcast Forging Packets To Filter Torrents. An anonymous reader writes "It's been widely reported by now that Comcast is throttling BitTorrent traffic. What has escaped attention is the fact that Comcast, like the Great Firewall of China uses forged TCP Reset (RST) packets to do the job. While the Chinese government can do what they want, it turns out that Comcast may actually be violating criminal impersonation statutes in states around the country. Simply put, while it's legal to block traffic on your network, forging data to and from customers is a big no-no."[Slashdot]
7:09:36 AM    comment []

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Notre Dame OpenCourseWare.

Notre Dame joins over a hundred OCW Consortium institutions providing open access to course materials. The Notre Dame OCW emphasis is on Humanities and Social Sciences courses. See the FAQ to orient to the Notre Dame materials. ___JH


"Notre Dame OCW is a free and open educational resource for faculty, students, and self-learners throughout the world.

We hope you find Notre Dame OCW valuable, whether you're a student looking for some extra help, a faculty member trying to prepare a new course, or just interested in learning more about a topic that interests you.

Notre Dame OCW does not grant credits or degrees, and does not provide access to faculty. What Notre Dame OCW does give you is open access to the materials used in a variety of courses."

(Via Learning Online Info.)

[EduResources Weblog--Higher Education Resources Online]
5:47:45 AM    comment []

CHEPS Higher Education Links.

The Netherlands is a country with a long and distinguished history in education, including distance education. The Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS) is located at the University of Twente. Sometimes the best display is simply a categorized listing that can be scanned quickly and revised and updated easily. That's what can be found in the CHEPS' Listing of HE Agencies, Institutes, and Resources (organized both alphabetically and geographically). Also look at the CHEPS' HE Monitor. _____JH


"In formulating policy, national governments are increasingly taking into account an international perspective. The continuing globalisation, the changes in the economy, and the growing mobility of employees, students and academic staff across the European Union, are only a few reasons for this orientation. Internationally oriented higher education policy cannot be formulated without knowledge of what is going on in higher education elsewhere. This information is valuable not only to determine how one's own country higher education is doing, but also to identify trends, higher education issues and policies dealing with these issues. To collect, structure and analyse this type of information, CHEPS has developed the CHEPS Higher Education Monitor."

[EduResources Weblog--Higher Education Resources Online]
5:46:31 AM    comment []

A Preview of Opera 9.5. jrowl writes "Opera 9.5 Alpha is scheduled to be released tomorrow, and CyberNet has a review of the browser's new features based on preview code. Some of the most prominent new options include a full history search, bookmark and Speed Dial syncing, and an 'Open with' menu option to pull up a website in another browser that's installed on your PC. 'This is one of those things that I had said Opera needs to work on the most. By this point, most Firefox users have grown accustomed to keeping their bookmarks synchronized with an online service. Now Opera users will have the same pleasure! All you need is a free My Opera account, and you'll be able to privately synchronize your bookmarks, Speed Dial sites, and Personal Bar with their server. You'll then be able to access that data whether you're at work, home, or anywhere! To setup synchronization just select the "Synchronize with My Opera" option from the File Menu.' There's also a video to go along with the text." [Slashdot]
5:43:41 AM    comment []

School Kids Get Virtual Web Lockers. Lucas123 writes "Seventh and eighth graders in Tulsa, Oklahoma not only get tablet PCs at the beginning of the school year, but they are now issued 100MB of storage through a hosted school 'Web Locker' system. The Web lockers also include chat, calendaring, and collaboration capabilities, but school administrators can also monitor and track all files uploaded to the system, and lock out individuals for misuse."[Slashdot]
5:38:00 AM    comment []

LCD Screen With Embedded Optical Sensors. dk3nn3dy writes "Sharp has developed a LCD display with optical sensors built into the displays pixels, without requiring a touch-sensitive film to be bonded on top of the regular screen. The optical sensor is similar to that used in scanners, allowing for notes or business cards to be scanned by the screen itself. As the optical recognition technology is built into the pixels it also simplifies tactile recognition based on simultaneously touching multiple points. Future uses include fingerprint authentication on the screen of your mobile phone or PDA, or iPhone style touch recognition. Volume production will start next spring."[Slashdot]
5:36:53 AM    comment []

California Blocks RFID Implants In Workers. InternetVoting writes "California has passed a bill banning companies from requiring employees to have RFID chips surgically implanted. Already one company has been licensed by the federal government, implanting more than 2000 people. At least one other company —, a Cincinnati video surveillance company — already required RFID implants in some employees. 'State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) proposed the measure after at least one company began marketing radio frequency identification devices for use in humans. "RFID is a minor miracle, with all sorts of good uses," Simitian said. "But we shouldn't condone forced 'tagging' of humans. It's the ultimate invasion of privacy.'"[Slashdot]
5:34:55 AM    comment []

Mom's Genes or Dad's? Map Can Tell. . Scientists have for the first time determined the order of virtually every letter of DNA code in an individual, offering an unprecedented readout of the separate genetic contributions made by that person's mother and father. By Rick Weiss. [ - Technology]
5:31:13 AM    comment []

Pitch Perception Skewed By Modern Tuning. The feed deliverers us news of research suggesting that the use of A as the universal tuning frequency has made our ears less discerning of the notes immediately around it. Here's the abstract from PNAS describing research with people possessing the rare quality of "absolute pitch."[Slashdot]
5:28:55 AM    comment []

Aubrey de Grey's 'Ending Aging' book published. Aubrey de Grey's much-anticipated book, Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime, co... [ Accelerating Intelligence News]
5:26:22 AM    comment []

Bandwidth could be a new global 'currency'. Bandwidth could become a form of "currency" with users paying for downloaded files by uploading more data themselves.

The researchers' free software, called Tribler, uses a modified version of the popular BitTorrent file-trading algorithm. This re... [ Accelerating Intelligence News]
5:25:49 AM    comment []

Sunday, September 02, 2007

One Species' Genome Discovered Inside Another's. slyyy writes "The Universtiy of Rochester has discovered the complete genome of a bacterial parasite inside the genome of the host species. This opens the possibility of exchanging DNA between unrelated species and changing our understanding of the evolutionary process. From the article: 'Before this study, geneticists knew of examples where genes from a parasite had crossed into the host, but such an event was considered a rare anomaly except in very simple organisms. Bacterial DNA is very conspicuous in its structure, so if scientists sequencing a nematode genome, for example, come across bacterial DNA, they would likely discard it, reasonably assuming that it was merely contamination--perhaps a bit of bacteria in the gut of the animal, or on its skin. But those genes may not be contamination. They may very well be in the host's own genome. This is exactly what happened with the original sequencing of the genome of the anannassae fruitfly--the huge Wolbachia insert was discarded from the final assembly, despite the fact that it is part of the fly's genome.'"[Slashdot]
10:55:32 AM    comment []

Survey Shows More Women Blogging Than Men. thefickler writes "The blogosphere has hit the mainstream, according to a new survey, which reveals that 80% of Americans know what a blog is, 50% regularly visit blogs, and 8% publish their own blog. The survey also reveals that more women than men are bloggers, with 20% of American women who have visited blogs having their own versus 14% of men."[Slashdot]
10:54:12 AM    comment []

A Model for Open Source Science.

Thanks to Peter Suber's Open Access News for this reference to a model for open source science based on open source software development. The model was developed by Karim Lakhani at the Harvard Business School. ____JH


Karim R. Lakhani: "Open source collaboration is a very different model for innovation and product development than most firms are used to. I began to wonder where we might see similar patterns occur outside the software domain. In open source communities we see a vast degree of openness in which everybody can participate, but also the practice of broadcasting your work to everybody else. People continually broadcast their problems, others broadcast solutions, and the person with the problem is not always the one with the solution. Oftentimes, somebody else can make sense of both what the problem has been and what people are proposing as solutions, and can come "


Martha Lagace, Open Source Science: A New Model for Innovation, Working Knowledge, November 20, 2006. An interview with Karim Lakhani, an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School. (Thanks to John Russell.) Excerpt:

In a perfect world, scientists share problems and work together on solutions for the good of society. In the real world, however, that's usually not the case. The main obstacles: competition for publication and intellectual property protection.

Is there a model for encouraging large-scale scientific problem solving? Yes, and it comes from an unexpected and unrelated corner of the universe: open source software development.

That's the view of Karim R. Lakhani, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School with an extensive research background in open source software communities and their innovation and product development strategies. His latest research analyzes how open source norms of transparency, permeable access, and collaboration might work with scientists.

By (Peter Suber). [Open Access News]

[EduResources Weblog--Higher Education Resources Online]
10:52:34 AM    comment []

Annenberg Broadband Media Resources.

The Annenberg Foundation has provided instructional media to schools, colleges, and to public television for many years. Some of the Annenberg Media productions are now freely available online. Registration is required. The Teacher Resources are organized by discipline and age group and are searchable with key words. Some examples include "A World of Art," "The Constitution," "Human Geography," "In Search of the Novel," and "Seasons of Life." Although the materials are directed at teachers for use as supplements to classes, they will also be useful for students and adult learners.____JH


"Annenberg Media is a unit of The Annenberg Foundation. Our mission is to advance excellent teaching in all disciplines throughout American K-12 schools. Former names of Annenberg Media are: Annenberg/CPB, The Annenberg/CPB Project, and The Annenberg/CPB Math and Science Project.

We pursue this mission by funding and broadly distributing multimedia resources for teachers to help them improve their own teaching practice and understanding of their subject. Annenberg Media makes use of telecommunications technologies—the Internet, including broadband video streaming, and satellite television broadcast—as well as hard copy media to disseminate these multimedia resources, ensuring that they reach as many teachers as possible."

[EduResources Weblog--Higher Education Resources Online]
10:51:17 AM    comment []

Google Earth Flight Simulator. insidedesign writes "Blogger Marco has recently discovered that the newest version of Google Earth includes a flight simulator. Though simple in comparison to full-blown simulators, Google Earth's is fun and addictive. To get started, press Ctrl+Alt+A for the initial dialog (on OS X, Command+Option+A). Then choose your plane (F16 or SR22) and initial airport. Joysticks are supported; it has even been reported that force feedback works. The game's controls are sensitive so it takes some getting used to. Here are all the available controls. For a quick overview, check out this YouTube video." [Slashdot]
10:48:56 AM    comment []

Facebook users force bank U-turn. HSBC bank changes its policy on overdraft charges after a student-led campaign on Facebook. [BBC News | Technology | UK Edition]
10:45:02 AM    comment []

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Google Ready to Bid on 700 MHz. Seppanen Style writes "The 700MHz spectrum auction looks like it's going to be heated. Google CEO Eric Schmidt has all but confirmed that Google will make a play for the spectrum that will be on offer next January. 'In effect, this could give Google control of the entire pipe between customers and Google servers, a move that could be very good for business strategy, even if the wireless network is not a major profit center. Companies never like to be at the mercy of other companies, and Google is no exception.'"Read more of this story at Slashdot.
9:42:02 PM    comment []

Drug Testing Entire Cities at Once. Ellis D. Tripp writes "Researchers have developed a technique for determining what illicit drugs people might be consuming in a given area, by testing a sample from the local sewage treatment plant. As little as a teaspoonful of untreated wastewater can reveal drug use patterns in a given community. Obviously, any drugs found can't be tied to any specific user, but how much longer until the drug warriors want to deploy automatic sampling units farther upstream of the sewage treatment plant?" From the article: "one fairly affluent community scored low for illicit drugs except for cocaine. Cocaine and ecstasy tended to peak on weekends and drop on weekdays, she said, while methamphetamine and prescription drugs were steady throughout the week."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
9:40:42 PM    comment []

Google Earth Gets Star-Gazing Add On. Tom F writes to mention BBC News is reporting that Google has released a new add on for Google Earth that will allow users to search a 3D rendition of over 1 million stars and 200 million galaxies called Google Sky. "Optional layers allow users to explore images from the Hubble Space Telescope as well as animations of lunar cycles. [...] Users can overlay the night sky with other information such as galaxies, constellations and detailed images from the Hubble Space Telescope. Imagery for the system came from six research institutions including the Digital Sky Survey Consortium, the Palomar Observatory in California and the United Kingdom Astronomy Technology Centre. "Read more of this story at Slashdot.
10:41:58 AM    comment []

I.B.M.: The Net Trumps Television. A new study from I.B.M. suggests Americans now spend more time browsing the Web than watching television [Bits]
10:38:26 AM    comment []

DARPA Files Patent On Predictive Simulation. An anonymous reader writes "New Scientist has a post on a patent filed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), seeking to control a new potent predictive simulation. The patent outlines the process, which may someday allow researchers to accurately predict the behavior of observed subjects. They're not there yet, but not for lack of trying. It already works in some military war game scenarios, says the patent. 'Parunak says his model can successfully detect players' emotions, and then predict future actions accordingly. He believes the technique could one day be applied to predict the behavior of adversaries in military combat situations, competitive business tactics, and even multiplayer computer games. The patent application gives an interesting insight into DARPA's goals. The agency has pumped a lot of money into AI in recent years without reaping major rewards. One day computers may find a way to accurately second-guess humans, but I suspect we may have to wait a little longer yet.'"Read more of this story at Slashdot.
7:27:26 AM    comment []

Google Earth given celestial view. Google launches an add-on to its 3D mapping tool which allows star gazers to explore images of millions of stars. [BBC News | Technology | UK Edition]
7:22:57 AM    comment []

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

OER Commons: Open Educational Resources.

Since my own EduResources Portal closed in July 2007, I've been looking for other useful portal entry points to recommend to students and instructors who are searching for educational resources. I highly recommend the OER Commons as a valuable first stop. The Commons is extremely broad in scope, but so well organized that new users can orient to its resources quickly.

The OER materials can be browsed by categories or collections; resources are also searchable with key words. Additionally, the entry page displays the OER Top Ten and the Top 25 Tags for a quick scan of what other users are viewing. Visitors who register can set up their own OER Portfolio and also sign up to receive an E-News newsletter.

The "OER Matters" section provides links to News Stories, Articles and Reports, Conferences and Workshops, Discussion Forums, Organizations and Associations, Tools and Technology, and Blogs and Wikis. The Commons was created by the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) which is supported by the Hewlett Foundation. OER professionals will want to mark the OER Commons in their bookmarks and visit the site regularly (an rss feed is also available). _____JH


"OER Commons is a teaching and learning network, from K-12 lesson plans to college courseware, from algebra to zoology, open to everyone to use and add to."

"Learn more about the worldwide movement to make teaching and learning materials free and accessible for use and re-use by everyone."

[EduResources Weblog--Higher Education Resources Online]
10:43:35 PM    comment []

First Successful Genome Transplant In Bacteria. eldavojohn writes "Researchers reported the first genome transplant from one bacterium to another, thereby transforming the species from M. mycoides to M. capricolum. The research, published in Science, shows that it is possible to achieve a success rate of 1 in 150,000 genome transplants in bacteria. While this may not seem like very good odds, it's actually a major step towards synthetic life, opening up the possibility of tailoring bacteria to our needs. The article mentions medical uses and fuel production as possible applications."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
11:02:18 AM    comment []

Vlingo calls its Find speech recognition software a "breakthrough" for mobile phone users who want to free themselves from "tedious triple-tapping" when searching or downloading content on their phones.

11:00:12 AM    comment []

via Technology Review Feed - Tech Review Top Stories on Aug 14, 2007  Scientists have identified a genetically determined pattern of brain development linked to ADHD.

8:17:39 AM    comment []

Two University of Chicago psychologists, Louise Hawkley and John Cacioppo, have been trying to disentangle social isolation, loneliness, and the physical deterioration and diseases of aging, right down to the cellular more

8:15:21 AM    comment []

via Science Blog - by BJS on Aug 20, 2007 Scientists have reported new evidence that infection with a common virus may be a contributing factor to the obesity epidemic sweeping through the United States and other more

8:13:55 AM    comment []

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