ananyo writes "The origin of multicellular life, one of the most important developments in Earth's history, could have occurred with surprising speed, U.S. researchers have shown. In the lab, a single-celled yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) took less than 60 days to evolve into many-celled clusters that behaved as individuals. The clusters even developed a primitive division of labor, with some cells dying so that others could grow and reproduce. Multicellular life has evolved independently at least 25 times, but these transitions are so ancient that they have been hard to study. The researchers wanted to see if they could evolve multicellularity in a single-celled organism, using gravity as the selective pressure. In a tube of liquid, clusters of yeast cells settle at the bottom more quickly than single cells. By culturing only the cells that sank, they selected for those that stick together. After many rounds of selection over 60 days, the yeast had evolved into 'snowflakes' comprising dozens of cells."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Velcroman1 writes "New Mexico's borders are gradually gaining girth, according to the Albuquerque Journal. It's not much, and it's not happening very fast — the state is getting about an inch wider every 40 years — but the state is unquestionably expanding, according to University of Colorado geophysicist Henry Berglund and his colleagues. Using a collection of 25 extra-precise GPS receivers planted across New Mexico and Colorado, Berglund determined that the cities of Albuquerque and Santa Fe are creeping away from each other. The rate of change seems ever so slow to the untrained ear, described as approximately 1.2 'nanostrains' per year."
donniebaseball23 writes "As a follow-up to his piece on Xbox 720, veteran games journalist Chris Morris has put together some thoughtful advice on what Sony needs to do (and needs to avoid) to ensure that the next generation PlayStation is a success. In particular, Morris notes that Sony must 'look beyond games' to create a fully fledged entertainment hub: 'Nintendo has been pretty adamant that it has little interest in content beyond games. Microsoft seems to be rushing to embrace the set top box world. Sony, though, seems a bit confused about what it wants.'"
Orome1 writes "A perfectly planned and coordinated bank robbery was executed during the first three days of the new year in Johannesburg, and left the targeted South African Postbank — part of the nation's Post Office service — with a loss of some $6.7 million. The cyber gang behind the heist was obviously very well informed about the post office's IT systems, and began preparing the ground for the heist a few months before, by opening accounts in post offices across the country and compromising an employee computer in the Rustenburg Post Office."
Hugh Pickens writes "Scientists have confirmed chemically a recent and rare invasion from Mars with 15 pounds of fresh Martian rocks falling in Morocco last July. A special committee of meteorite experts, which includes some NASA scientists, confirmed the test results Tuesday certifying that the meteorites recently collected came from Mars. The biggest rock weighs more than 2 pounds. Astronomers think that millions of years ago something big smashed into Mars that sent fragments hurtling through the solar system. Occasionally, some fall on Earth."
sciencehabit writes "Is climate change education the new evolution, threatened in U.S. school districts and state education standards by well-organized interest groups? A growing number of education advocates believe so, and yesterday, the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, California, which fights the teaching of creationism, announced that it's going to take on climate change denial as well."
bonch writes "Apple is expected to announce e-book creation and social interaction tools at their January 19 media event taking place in New York, the heart of the publishing industry. Along with expanded interactivity features such as test-taking, the event is expected to showcase an ePub 3-compatible 'Garageband for e-books' to address the lack of simple digital publishing tools. Steve Jobs reportedly considered textbook publishing to be 'an $8 billion a year industry ripe for digital destruction' and was directly involved with Apple's efforts in this area until his death."
New submitter forkfail writes "If further proof were needed that copyright law was out of control in the U.S., it can be found in the fact that it costs 10 dollars to view Martin Luther King's famous Dream Speech. You might think you could find it on YouTube or other public venues, given its importance in American history. But no — the rights are firmly locked away until 2038."
astroengine writes "Chances are, when you pop open a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, you expect to savor certain aromatic flavors, or 'notes,' depending on the wine: fruit forward, perhaps, with hints of pepper and leathery tannins, and just the faintest whiff of... meteorite??? At least that's what you'd savor if you were drinking a bottle of Meteorite, possibly the very first wine on the market aged with a meteorite that fell to Earth from space. It's the brainchild of Ian Hutcheon, an Englishman now working in Chile, who thinks the infusion of a bit of meteorite gives his wine a 'livelier taste.'"
angry tapir writes "Women's participation in open source development is at a far lower level than women's participation in proprietary software development. One of the groups that aims to change this is the Ada Initiative: A non-profit organization formed last year. I recently caught up with its two founders, Linux kernel developer Valerie Aurora and comp sci PhD student Mary Gardiner, to discuss the project."
New submitter 9re9 writes "The NY Times describes what may be the beginning of an actual cyberwar between a pro-Palestinian group and Israeli companies, specifically El Al and the Tel Aviv stock exchange. From the article: 'A hacker identifying himself as oxOmar, already notorious for posting the details of more than 20,000 Israeli credit cards, sent an overnight warning to Israel's Ynet news outlet that a group of pro-Palestinian cyberattackers called Nightmare planned to bring down the sites in the morning.' Though the article is skimpy on technical details, the group appears to have engaged merely in a DDOS attack. Hamas praised the attack as opening 'a new resistance front against Israel.' Is this the first acknowledged cyberwar?"
LinuxScribe writes "As predicted last September, Samsung has announced plans to merge Tizen with its own Bada platform to create a new mobile OS that will fit well on low- and high-end smartphones. Last year, Bada had more global phone deployments than Windows Phone 7. The merger means each Linux-based platform will have access to more native- and HTML5-based apps."
New submitter Man Eating Duck writes "Guru3D describes how the activation system in Ubisoft's RTS game Anno 2070 also tracks hardware changes: 'So yesterday I started working on a performance review. We know (well, at least we figured we knew), that the game key can be used on three systems. That's fair; the first activation is used on my personal game rig. The second we installed on the AMD Radeon graphics test PC and the 3rd on our NVIDIA graphics test PC. ... For the NVIDIA setup I take out the GTX 580, and insert a GTX 590. When I now startup the game, 'BAM', again an activation is required. Once again I fill out the key, and now Ubisoft is thanking me with the message that I ran out of activations.' Guru3D subsequently discovered that Ubisoft was less than helpful: 'Sorry to disappoint you — the game is indeed restricted to 3 hardware changes and there simply is no way to bypass that.' I, and many with me, will never buy games with such a draconian DRM scheme, as it's very likely that I'll swap out enough components to run into this issue. Even the Steam version includes this nice 'feature.' It's probably a good idea to let Ubisoft know why we'll pass on this title."
stephencrane writes "NYC is to open The Academy for Software Engineering, with a focus on software design and college preparation. It'll be a 'limited, unscreened' high school, which means admission won't be tied to grades or test scores; solely on interest (and presumably a lottery, once words gets out)." Would you want to go (or have gone) to such a school? Would you want your kids to attend?