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     Volume 4 Issue 28 | January 7, 2005 |

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Asteroid Could Hit the Earth by 2029
A massive asteroid heading for Earth has a 1-in-300 chance of smashing into the planet in 2029, according to researchers. The space rock is believed to be more than 1,300ft long and was only rediscovered recently by astronomers who first spotted it in June. However, the threat is likely to be eliminated once astronomers work out its orbit. "In the unlikely event that it did hit, it would be quite serious. We're talking either a Tsunami if it hit in the ocean, which would be likely, or significant ground damage," said NASA chief Donald Yeomans.

Transparent Transistors to make Gizmos Cheap
Researchers at Oregon State University and Hewlett Packard have reported their first example of an entirely new class of materials, which could be used to make transparent transistors that are inexpensive, stable and environmentally benign. The new transistors are not only transparent but they work extremely well and could have other advantages that will help them transcend carbon-based transistor materials, such as organic and polymers, that have been the focus of hundreds of millions of dollars of research around the world. "Compared to organic or polymer transistor materials, these new inorganic oxides have higher mobility, better chemical stability, ease of manufacture and are physically more robust," said John Wager, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at OSU. The newest devices are amorphous, meaning they have no long-range crystalline order, which helps to keep processing costs a great deal lower. They are also physically robust - hard to scratch, chemically stable, resist etching, and have a very smooth surface. They are made from low cost, readily available elements such as zinc and tin, which raise no environmental concerns.

Mobile Porn Under Control
Children Down Under may have to look elsewhere if they want to have access to porn or any other kind of sleaze on the mobile. They will now be required to first show a photographed identification and give a request access in writing. The Australian Communications Authority has drafted a bill according to which MA or R content will be limited to phone numbers prefixed with 195 and 196 and available only to users aged over 18. The authority has said that 16 companies, including Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Legion Interactive, have already reserved adult numbers and these services cannot be activated until regulation of the area is formalised next year. Mobile-phone companies will also be required to hire moderators who have undergone a police check and have been trained to spot paedophiles attempting to groom children in unrestricted mobile chat rooms. "We have seen the dangers of using chatrooms on the Internet and we feel the risk will be carried over to the mobile world. The computer at least is in a public space and gives parents a chance to supervise. The mobile is a personal device, so the risk is higher," said Vince Humphries, the authority's manager of mobile content and credit management.

System through which Bacteria Produce Toxins
In a breakthrough study, scientists have found that bacteria can use a Sonar-like system to spot other cells (either normal body cells or other bacteria) and target them for destruction. This finding explains how some bacteria know when to produce a toxin that makes infection more severe. The study may lead to the design of new toxin inhibitors. "Blocking or interfering with a bacterium's "detection" mechanism, should prevent toxin production and limit the severity of infection," says Michael Gilmore, PhD, lead author of the study. Gilmore and his team have spent years studying the bacterium known as Enterococcus faecalis, one of the leading causes of hospital-acquired infections, to find new ways to treat them. These infections are frequently resistant to many and sometimes all, antibiotics. Gilmore says this discovery has several significant implications for the future. "This is a new mechanism that nature devised to 'see' the environment, and based on that information, respond accordingly. We may be able to learn from nature and adapt a similar strategy to help the aging population cope with loss of vision," he adds.

Contradiction to Theory of Evolution
Contradicting the well established theory of evolution of mankind from ape-like creatures to modern humans via knuckle-grazing cave-dwellers, scientists have made a comprehensive study of all the fossils, which has revealed that they are probably all variants of Homo sapiens. The discovery comes as fossil-hunters in Indonesia continue to defend claims to have found yet another new species of human, dubbed "Hobbit Man". The findings have significant implications for the often bitter debates between fossil-hunters about the significance of their finds. The number of human species claimed by fossil-hunters now stands at around 10, while the total number of human-like species exceeds 50. Such claims have long been based on supposedly significant differences in sizes and shapes of fossil bones. Now they have all been thrown into doubt by research showing that the differences lie within the range expected for just a single species. Professor Maciej Henneberg, of the University of Adelaide, made the discovery after analysing the skull sizes and estimated body weights for all of the 200 identified specimens of human-like fossils known as hominims. He said: "The argument they are a different species is, of course, only a hypothesis but comparisons of skull shape published recently certainly show they are as different from us as monkeys and apes are different from each other".

Source: Webindia123.com / Google / Sciencenews.org

Compiled by: Imran H. Khan

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