Archive for January, 2012

Scientists in Scotland create human brain cells

Posted January 31, 2012 By David Kolle
Researchers at Edinburgh‘s Centre for Regenerative Medicinehave created brain tissue from patients suffering mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and depression.

“A patient’s neurones can tell us a great deal about the psychological conditions that affect them, but you cannot stick a needle in someone’s brain and take out its cells,” the centre’s director, Professor Charles ffrench-Constant, said.

“However, we have found a way round that. We can take a skin sample, make stem cells from it and then direct these stem cells to grow into brain cells. Essentially, we are turning a person’s skin cells into brain.”

The scientists hope that studying these manufactured brain cells will reveal clues to the conditions of patients with mental illnesses – a task that had been challenging in the past.

“It is very difficult to get primary tissue to study until after a patient has died,” said the Royal Edinburgh Hospital‘s Professor Andrew McIntosh, who is collaborating with the center on the project.

“Even then, that tissue is affected by whatever killed them and by the impact of the medication they had been taking for their condition, possibly for several decades. So having access to living brain cells is a significant development for the development of drugs for these conditions,” McIntosh said.

If successful, the same methods could be used for other organs, including the liver and heart.

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Xbox 360

The next generation Xbox will run six times faster than the current model and will be available at the end of next year.

Microsoft sources have revealed the new system – dubbed the “Xbox 720” – will ship to retailers in late October or early November.

The new system will use the Advanced Micro Devices 6000 series processor and offer 3D gaming.

The Xbox 720′s raw graphics processing power is expected to be six times that of the Xbox 360 and will yield 20 per cent greater performance than Nintendo’s forthcoming console, the Wii U.

Developers are likely to receive development kits based on the system’s final configuration in August. Projected pricing for the system was not provided.

It has also been reported that the Xbox 720 may include some sort of anti-used game system, with users encouraged to download cheaper games via Xbox Live.

It’s claimed that a Microsoft source said the new Xbox could link a copy of a game to a specific Xbox Live account to stop it from being played on another machine.

It’s also reported the Xbox 720 will come with a Blu-Ray player.

“As an innovator we’re always thinking about what is next and how we can push the boundaries of technology like we did with Kinect,” a Microsoft rep said.

“We believe the key to extending the lifespan of a console is not just about the console hardware, but about the games and entertainment experiences being delivered to consumers. Beyond that we don’t comment on rumors or speculation.”

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Asteroid flies by earth in 'near-miss'

Posted January 30, 2012 By David Kolle

An asteroid about the size of a bus shaved by Earth on Friday in what space watchers described as a “near-miss,” though experts were not concerned about the possibility of an impact.


The asteroid, named 2012 BX34, measured between six and 19 metres in diameter, said Gareth Williams, associate director of the US-based Minor Planet Center which tracks space objects.

The asteroid, which had been unknown before it popped into view from a telescope in Arizona on Wednesday, came within about 60,000 kilometres of Earth on Friday at about 3pm GMT, he said.

“It’s a near miss. It makes the top 20 list of closest approaches ever observed,” Mr Williams said.

NASA had announced on Twitter on Thursday that the asteroid would “safely pass Earth on January 27.”

Mr Williams explained that since the asteroid was so small, it could only be detected when it was close to the Earth, but that the fly-by, while a surprise, was not terribly uncommon.

“This came about a sixth of the distance from the Moon,” he said. “In the past year we have had some 30 objects that were observed to come within the orbit of the Moon.”

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Facebook too force users onto timeline

Posted January 30, 2012 By David Kolle

Activity log facebook

Facebook will force users on to its new timeline function, which displays their entire history on the site – from status updates to photos – within a few weeks.

Search engine Google has joined the social network in forcing privacy changes on its Google Account users after advising it would share user information between searches, YouTube, Google+ and its other services from March 1.

Both made the announcements in blogs, with Facebook saying: “Over the next few weeks, everyone will get timeline.”

Google noted “Our new Privacy Policy makes clear that, if you’re signed in, we may combine information you’ve provided from one service with information from other services.”

Timeline is a feature announced by the social network late last year that reorganises people’s Facebook page to tell their “life story”.

But for those who don’t use a seven-day grace period to moderate what will appear on their old profile page, it could soon expose embarrassing photos they had forgotten about.

Australian Privacy Foundation vice-chair David Vaile equated the social network to a “naughty teenager” for not encouraging people to think through the changes.

He warned people whose lives had moved on from embarrassing photos that they might face more serious consequences if they resurfaced.

“Up until now you had security by obscurity – now at Facebook’s whim rather than yours, stuff will come back bubbling up from your past,” Mr Vaile said.

“And one of the problems with Facebook’s model of encouraging people not to worry about security is it disrespects other people as well.”

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