Bishop to Boycott Obama Commencement Speech

    South Bend is heating up over the controversy surrounding Obama and the local bishop...Read the post

    2009 College Grads: We're the Lucky Ones

    Why there is hope for the graduating Class of 2009, and how they can find work in a recession...Read the post

    Beer in Vending Machines -- What Drinking Age?

    U.S. policies on drinking age seem restrictive when examining the rest of the world...Read the post

    How The Press Can Remain Relevant

    Is it any surprise that Obama has employed a strategy to cordon journalists that is similar to previous administrations?...Read the post

    Be Afraid, Cheney Warns. Be Very Afraid.

    Just when you thought the Bush-era warnings of Armageddon around the corner were over, Cheney strikes again...Read the post

    Obama: You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry...

    Obama threw down his stick, spat on the floor and growled in the face of cameras -- metaphorically... Read the post

    Obama to GOP: 'I Won, I'm The President'

    "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," Obama told GOP leaders...Read the post

    Palin Seeks $11M Book Deal, but Can She Read?

    One can only imagine what Republican rising star Sarah Palin could possibly write about in her memoirs...Read the post

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Ex-Microsoft Programmer Becomes World's Most Frequent Space Tourist

Adam Kirchner

Posted:  Apr 8th 2009 11:32PM

Filed Under: Science, Towson University

The world's most frequent intragalactic tourist returned to Earth on Wednesday.

Charles Simonyi (pictured, left), who became the fifth commercial passenger of a space flight in 2007, is the first commercial passenger to have taken two trips to the International Space Station.

Simonyi, 60, formerly a prominent software engineer who contributed to the development of Microsoft Word and Excel, paid $25 million for the roundtrip flights and 10 days he spent on the ISS in April of 2007 and $35 million for the roundtrip flights and his 11 days' visit this year from March 26 to April 8.

Simonyi, a native Hungarian who immigrated to the U.S. in 1968 at age 20, was a passenger on Russia's Roskosmos Soyuz spacecraft for both flights. Multimillion-dollar commercial passenger seats will be temporarily unavailable while flights will serve to increase the ISS's long-term crew from three to six astronauts and/or cosmonauts and/or other types of whatever-nauts.

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Fighting for Cheryl: How We Can Kill Cancer

Joshua Sharp

Posted:  Mar 29th 2009 12:07AM

Filed Under: USC, Science

Cancer may be one of the most powerful forces we have ever seen.

It has the power to take away loved ones, and bring them closer together. Cancer boggles the mind with its indiscriminate cruelty, but also distills our emotions to the simplest common denominator of unconditional love. Cancer wreaks devastation on its victims in many ways, but also unites a community of fighters, survivors and supporters on a level that others can never fully understand.

This month, I've been a little distracted thinking about the many implications of cancer. My aunt, Cheryl Mann, passed away on March 7, 2009, after battling breast cancer for nearly five years. Since being profiled in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a 2005 series, Cheryl, 47, had become a leader in the Atlanta area with the American Cancer Society, helping to raise nearly a million dollars for medical research and awareness. She leaves behind a husband, three young children, and her mother, father, brother and sister.

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Volcano Monitoring Proves Useful One Month After Jindal's Speech

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Mar 24th 2009 8:18AM

Filed Under: Science, Odd News, Notre Dame



A volcano in southern Alaska erupted Sunday and Monday, spewing ash columns some 60,000 feet in the air and causing ash to fall in several communities west of Anchorage, CNN reported Monday.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal so did not see this coming back in February, when he mocked the part of the stimulus plan that allocated funding for volcanic activity monitoring.

In the GOP response to President Barack Obama's address to a joint session of Congress, Jindal criticized the Democrats for passing a bill "larded with wasteful spending," including "$140 million for something called 'volcano monitoring.'" [Correction: I wrote billion originally. $140 billion would probably be excessive.]

"Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C.," Jindal said.

That line's a zinger...until a volcano actually erupts.

The Anchorage Daily News reported that Mount Redoubt erupted for a sixth time Monday evening. The aviation industry was affected by the eruptions, since the ash clouds prevent air traffic in the vicinity of the volcano. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters that approximately 20,000 passengers fly through the area each day, CNN reported.

A U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist told CNN that the eruptions could disrupt air travel to south central Alaska and Alaska as a whole for weeks to months. The Anchorage Daily News reported that Alaska Airlines canceled 19 flights in and out of Anchorage because of the ash.

In towns near the volcano, residents are wearing masks to go outside, since the ash is dangerous to breath. But luckily, experts have been warning of an eruption for some time, CNN said.

Thank goodness for volcano monitoring, right Gov. Jindal?

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Killer Peanut Butter - Is Nothing Safe?

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Feb 12th 2009 8:32AM

Filed Under: News, Science, Notre Dame



Peanut butter has a certain innocence to it. For all of grade school and all of high school, a peanut butter sandwich was what I had for lunch. It's still my meal of choice when I brown bag it.

The same is true for millions of people in this country, especially children. That's why it was upsetting to learn that a company allowed peanut butter products contaminated with salmonella bacteria to be shipped and distributed to the public.

We've had other serious recent recalls for salmonella contamination of items like tomatoes and spinach, but these are not consumed as widely as peanut butter.

The salmonella outbreak has sickened about 600 people and investigators believe it may be linked to nine deaths. The owner of Peanut Corp. of America, Stewart Parnell, pleaded the Fifth Wednesday before a Congressional panel. He refused to eat his recalled products when a member of the panel offered them to him.

A timeline attached to the MSNBC article reports that the salmonella outbreak began in early September, with most people sickened after Oct. 1.

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Google Maps Parts of Ocean; Al Gore Approves

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Feb 3rd 2009 8:30AM

Filed Under: Environment, Science

Thanks to Google, now you, too, can be Jacques Cousteau. And you don't even need to put on a bathing suit.

The popular search engine has updated its Google Earth software to include large parts of the ocean, so users can "dive" under the water and explore what lies beneath the surface.

According to a BBC article, Google hopes this new feature is just the first step towards mapping the entire ocean. The majority of the planet Earth is covered by water -- about 70 percent -- but only about five percent of it has been explored, so this will be no small feat.

The company's new application is pretty cool. Al Gore, the former vice president, Nobel Prize winner and all around go-to guy for things involving the environment, spoke at the launch event in San Francisco. He said the ocean exploring capability makes Google Earth a "magical experience."

Al Gore did the impossible by making PowerPoint presentations cool, so I figured he knows a good thing when he sees it.

And Google Earth's new ocean search feature is pretty magical. But it looks like Google needs to get some more oceanographers on staff, because the land exploration feature is still far, far advanced.

I did get to dive under water, however, without even leaving my dorm room.

The coolest feature I tried out was swimming through the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Francisco with a female white shark. Cousteau would have loved it.

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politics

Palin Said Humans and Dinosaurs Coexisted?!

Matt Negrin

Posted:  Sep 28th 2008 5:52PM

Filed Under: US Elections, Politics, Breaking News, Boston University, Science

No. No no no no no.

Sarah Palin apparently told a University of Alaska professor that humans and dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time, the LA Times reports.

According to college music teacher Philip Munger, the following scene went down soon after Palin was elected as Wasilla's mayor in 1997 (some lines paraphrased for continuity):

Munger: What are your religious views?

Palin: "Dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the same time."

Munger: What about fossils and dino tracks dating back 65 million years?

Palin: I've seen pictures of human footprints inside the tracks.

And that's why we do background checks, ladies and gentlemen.

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Prostate Cancer Treatment Questioned

Emily Lasky

Posted:  Sep 25th 2008 6:20AM

Filed Under: Featured Stories, University of Pennsylvania, Science

Hormone therapy is a mainstay for the treatment of prostate cancer. The therapy disrupts the growth of tumors by decreasing the levels of androgen, a hormone that, if left at normal levels, would increase the size of cancer cells. Such a procedure is generally a precursor to brachytherapy, a form of radiation treatment during which radioactive "seeds" are implanted into tumors to kill the cancer cells.

But the hormone therapy itself could have detrimental effects on the patient, according to a new study presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology in Boston on Tuesday. Led by Amy Dosortez, a resident in the Harvard Radiation Oncology Program, researchers tracked the life course of 1700 men over the age of 70 after they underwent treatment for early-stage prostate cancer. The median length of hormone therapy was 3.5 months, while the length of time the men were tracked was 5 years. Results showed that the men given androgen-deprivation therapy prior to the brachytherapy were 20% more likely to die from any cause than those who only had brachytherapy. Dosoretz suggests that the hormone treatment could worsen the overall health of the patients, particularly given their ages, making them more susceptible to other issues, like heart disease.

Other studies on this topic have had mixed results, however, and did not show that hormone therapy had the same effect on the patients' mortality. Researchers are also unsure as to why exactly the hormone treatment poses this risk. Regardless, the study lends further credence to the idea that the standard prostate cancer treatment may not work for every patient, particularly older men facing the disease in its early stages.

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Black Hole Could Engulf Earth Today; Eat Dessert First

Matt Negrin

Posted:  Sep 10th 2008 12:27PM

Filed Under: Boston University, Science

John McCain wants to give tax breaks to the richest Americans. Barack Obama wants to meet with the crazy anti-Semitic Iranian leader. And Sarah Palin wants us all to believe the Earth is 5,000 years old.

But none of that matters if the biggest science experiment since fire goes horribly awry in Geneva, where the world's top nerds have just activated some sort of super God microscope.

The idea is to find out what laws govern elemental particles under conditions similar to when a cosmic fireball exploded out of nothing a jillion years ago in what is comically referred to as "The Big Bang."

Oh, wait. That's what scientists actually call it.

As cool as that sounds, skeptics are warning that the ambitious $8 billion science project could have one small unintended consequence once a stream of particles are rammed together: the end of existence as we know it.

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weird news

Scientists Rap to the Sounds of Particles Accelerating

Sam Guzik

Posted:  Aug 7th 2008 5:10PM

Filed Under: Weird News, Washington University, Science

With the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) fully built and due to start firing its proton beams in just over a month, it seems that the researchers on site in Geneva have been looking for new ways to fill their time - rapping the details of their experiment.



CERN Rap from Will Barras on Vimeo.

The LHC is the world's most powerful particle accelerator, producing beams seven times more energetic than any previous machine, and around 30 times more intense when it reaches design performance, probably by 2010. It spans two countries and is 27-kilometers long.

The collider is designed to create tiny black holes that will be in existence for fractions of a second in hopes of recreating the conditions present just before the big bang. Protesters say that the experiment is likely to end the world, though the coordinators of the experiment, the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), say that is not going to happen.

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Viagra Can Help Women, too

Megan Baker

Posted:  Aug 6th 2008 5:13PM

Filed Under: St. John Fisher College, Science, Odd News

That little blue pill sure seems to work some serious magic, and it is working in more ways than one. Not only can it help men and babies born with weak lungs, it can also improve libido for women who are on anti-depressants.

Women and men taking antidepressants called serotonin reuptake inhibitors sometimes experience sexual issues. An estimated 30 to 70 percent of people taking these antidepressants have sex-related complaints at some point. (SRIs include Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro, Celexa and Anafranil.)

Pfizer stopped testing Viagra on women four years ago because they discovered it did not have the drastic effect on women as it did men. According to a new article in Science News, "Scientists have suggested that the drug didn't work on women because their cascade of arousal, desire and orgasm is more complicated than men's." (Ain't that the truth....)

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Former Google Employees Launch a Cuil Search Engine

Megan Baker

Posted:  Jul 28th 2008 10:44AM

Filed Under: St. John Fisher College, News, Science

Anna Patterson's last search engine innovation was so good, Google bought it from her in 2004. This time, she's keeping her technology to herself. Patterson left Google in 2006 to try to develop a better way of surfing the web. With the help of her husband, Tom Costello, and two other former Google engineers - Russell Power and Louis Monier, she developed Cuil.



Cuil (pronounced "cool") launched yesterday, calling itself "The World's Biggest Search Engine." Cuil is an old Irish word for knowledge and claims to search more pages on the web than anyone else...Google included. They believe in analyzing content over analyzing the user, which is a different approach for search engines. One of their major promises is that they don't log a user's search history, which is a concern for some search engine users.

While Cuil may actually be a better search engine than Google, will it really matter?

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Viagra...Now for Babies

Megan Baker

Posted:  Jul 25th 2008 12:42PM

Filed Under: St. John Fisher College, Science


Not only can Viagra help...well, you know...but it has also been used as a life-saving medication for babies born with weak lungs.

In August of 2007, Lewis Goodfellow was born at 24 weeks, weighing only 1lb 8oz. One of his lungs failed, making it so he was not getting enough oxygen in his bloodstream.

Alan Fenton, consultant neonatologist at the hospital, said:"The problem we see in premature babies with breathing difficulties is although we can blow oxygen into their lungs to help them, there isn't enough blood supply to various areas of the lungs to take the oxygen around the rest of the body.What Sildenafil (Viagra) does is open up the blood vessels so they can capture the oxygen and take it around the body."

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Live from Mars: Clay and Speculation of Life

Sam Guzik

Posted:  Jul 20th 2008 10:02AM

Filed Under: Small Campus, Big Story, Washington University, Science

From more than 400-million miles away, the Phoenix Mars Lander has beamed back pictures of the red planet every day for almost two months.

The mission - a project of NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at CalTech, University of Arizona and many other scientists (including several from Washington University) - has confirmed that minerals in the soil of Mars show it was covered once by lakes, rivers and other bodies of water that could have supported life.

Though there has, so far, been no proof of life past or present on our planetary neighbor, Reuters reports that the clay found on Mars was likely formed at a much cooler temperature and at a time when water was abundantly available. The lander has analyzed soil from trenches it dug (shown at right) using on board equipment that includes an electron microscope.

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Debate Over Dementia Patients Continues in the UK

Megan Baker

Posted:  Jun 18th 2008 8:50PM

Filed Under: St. John Fisher College, News, Science

The practice of using anti-psychotic drugs on patients suffering from dementia is being hotly contested in the United Kingdom. Patients there are being treated with these controversial drugs even though there is no proof that the drugs are beneficial. They may in fact have negative impacts.

Ministers have recently ordered a review of these drugs in efforts to improve the care of dementia patients in England, where 570,000 people suffer from the disease. If the problem is not further looked into, it is projected that dementia care will cost England £35bn a year within 20 years.

Edward Leigh, of the Public Accounts Committee, said that "Such is the fear of the condition, the belief among both the public and professionals that little can be done to help sufferers, and the lack of knowledge of many GPs, that dementia is never formally diagnosed in up to two-thirds of cases. Many sufferers are also not being diagnosed early enough and, when diagnosed, end up in hospital beds or care homes, deprived of the specialist care they need."

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national newspop culture

Trial and Error

Emily Lasky

Posted:  Jun 12th 2008 11:03PM

Filed Under: University of Pennsylvania, National News, Pop Culture, Science

In the most ironic news item of the week, filmmaker Ira Issacs's obscenity trial, which would determine whether his films are obscene, has been suspended because it was discovered that presiding judge Alex Kozinski has posted obscene pictures and videos online. Oddly enough, though sexually explicit images can impede Kozinski from being a part of the trial, the trial is set to include extensive viewings of the director's fetish films, which are films of an extremely explicit nature, seeing as how they include things like defecation. Whether or not that last little piece is ironic is up to English teachers everywhere, but somewhere, Alanis Morissette is turning this whole thing into another song.

In other watching-sexually-explicit-things-during-a-trial news, the jury is now deliberating in R. Kelly's child pornography case. Since both R. Kelly and the woman who is allegedly in the sex tape (she would have been 13 at the time) have both denied being on the tape, the case seems to hinge on Kelly's "mole defense" and whether or no the man on the tape actually has the same tiny mark.

Finally, in news that is only related if you squint really hard and allow me one of two segues ("speaking of tiny things" or "speaking of trial and error"), scientists have decided not to give up on Pluto just yet, at least in spirit. Dwarf planets similar in size to Pluto will now be referred to as "plutoids." The other plutoid is Eris, which is farther away than Pluto and a little bigger, but hey, guess scientists just felt bad for the little guy.

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