Bee-Killing Parasite’s Genome Sequenced

Honey Bee

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have sequenced the genome of a parasite that can kill honey bees. Nosema ceranae is one of many pathogens suspected of contributing to the current bee population decline, termed colony collapse disorder (CCD). Researchers describe the parasite’s genome in a study published June 5 in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens.

In 2006, CCD began devastating commercial beekeeping operations, with some beekeepers reporting losses of up to 90 percent, according to the USDA. Researchers believe CCD may be the result of a combination of pathogens, parasites and stress factors, but the cause remains elusive. At stake are honey bees that play a valuable part in a $15 billion industry of crop farming in the United States.

The microsporidian Nosema is a fungus-related microbe that produces spores that bees consume when they forage. Infection spreads from their digestive tract to other tissues. Within weeks, colonies are either wiped out or lose much of their strength. Nosema apis was the leading cause of microsporidia infections among domestic bee colonies until recently when N. ceranae jumped from Asian honey bees to the European honey bees used commercially in the United States.

The ARS scientists used genetic tools and microscopic analysis at the ARS Bee Research Laboratory (BRL) in Beltsville, Maryland to examine N. ceranae. They collaborated with colleagues at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, Columbia University, New York, New York, and 454 Life Sciences, of Branford, Connecticut.

Sequencing the genome should help scientists trace the parasite’s migration patterns, determine how it became dominant, and help resolve the spread of infection by enabling the development of diagnostic tests and treatments.

ARS is a scientific research agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Read more at PLoS Pathogens: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1000464

[via ScienceBlogs]

Is Klingon the new Esperanto?

Klingon

Bantu1 alerted me via e-mail about an interesting twist by a software development company to localize their application. Bantu1 states:

The following was brought to my attention yesterday by someone-keen-to-keep-his-job-and-therefore-not-to-be-named:

A Klingon translation of a well-known anti-virus program!

We all know you can study Klingon nowadays at university, but is it really becoming so mainstream that geeks in technology companies can while away the time between biscuits translating their product into a language for the masses?

Hardly, methinks. As far as I can make out (and am assured by he-who-must-not-be-named), it has all the virus-busting capabilities of the standard, english version – so why do it? A sugar-fuelled mind-expanding exercise? To communicate messages to other business-Klingons?

Being only a conversational Klingon speaker myself, I was surprised to find I could download it without difficulty  – it came with an English user manual (I guess Mr. Translator got bored). It didn’t appear to Vulcan-mind-grip my hard drive, and it even handily cleaned up a particularly nasty bit of loitering spyware.
But surely whoever did this is just inviting trouble. Not least from criticisms of his translation from other would-be Klingon software developers, but for being the forefather of a deluge of mainstream programs aimed at the wrinkly-headed ones.

Is Klingon destined for great things? Not wanting to sport a Mars bar on my head just to blend in, I hope not.

Is this e-mail simply hype generated by the company to raise the visibility of their AV software? Probably, but who cares as long as this is legit. :-)

Here’s a video demo of the Klingon version:

New Sherlock Holmes Trailer

I’ve always loved the Sherlock Holmes stories whether in book, radio theater or cinema form. I can hardly wait for the next chapter in the great detective’s life later this year. And according to IMDB, this is the first Sherlock Holmes movie to reach US cinema in 20 years! It’s about time! :-) Here’s the details on this one:

Release Date: December 25, 2009
Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Rachel McAdams, Jude Law, Mark Strong, Kelly Reilly
Plot: Detective Sherlock Holmes (Downey Jr.) and his stalwart partner Watson (Law) engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis whose plot is a threat to all of England.

‘Firefox Mobile’ alpha hits Windows Mobile 6

Fennec

For several months Mozilla has had their mobile version of Firefox browser in alpha or beta form. Last week they released it to testers on Windows Mobile 6, I’m going to install this baby!

Fennec is the code name for the project, to learn more you can read all about it at the Fennec home page or you can read these 3 blog articles from Mozilla on why they think this is an important project.

Download the WM6 CAB here.

News For Geeks: 4/20/09

News flash

In the gadget world, rumors are swirling again over the new Sidekick from T-Mobile. This time the rumor comes complete with a memo from a T-Mobile employee who anonymously reveals, among other things, it’ll have a swivel screen. <golf clap>. It’ll also have Exchange/Activesync e-mail support, I’m sure the IT Pros are going to love having to support “yet one more enterprisey phone that opens a hole in their network”.

I for one still heart my Pantech duo, a dual-slider phone that gives me both the candy bar style I prefer, with the wide qwerty keyboard for those times I get a hankering to work on my novel or send a lengthy SMS.

Elsewhere in gadgetland, the US military enlists the iPod Touch for the battlefield environment. Its application support just rocks my socks, and apparently the Army’s as well. Ever since the Zune worldwide meltdown of Dec 31, 2008, I’ve been cursing my brown 30G Zune. I’ve been waiting for one more issue to appear with my player make me an iPod Touch owner. The recent release of Blizzard’s Mobile Logon Authenticator just about sent me over the edge towards making the switch because it was made available only for the iPhone/iPod.

In Science news, amid a great budget crunch to get the ISS complete, the Shuttle’s fate nears point of no return. Can you believe that the original design for the Shuttle originated during the Nixon administration? It’s time to end of life this pig and move on.

A doctor contends that if the 16th President of the US hadn’t been assassinated 144 years ago he would have been dead from cancer within the year. He wants’ a piece of the prez’ bloody pillow case and he intends to prove his theory through DNA analysis. Where’s the ACLU and why aren’t they in pit bull mode over this invasion of privacy?

Last in Science news is that apparently keeping slim is good for the planet. Or so say some serious scientists. Since I need to lose weight I should be supplementing my lifestyle changes with cardio workouts to get the pounds off; that means more CO2 generated. Question: Is the planet better off with me not contributing more to the problem or getting slim and trim? I’m too tired to figure out the math on this one.

In Internet & Software news, Adobe is trying to take Television to the next level and announces Flash for TVs. God help us.

Washington, DC will be the 1st US city to get free mobile TV. Broadcasts take place this summer by the five major networks nbc, cbs, fox, pbs, abc. Do we not watch enough TV already that the coalition for mobile video has to try and shove it down society’s throat?

Bonus internet news: Oprah gets pwned by Shaq on Twitter. HAHAHAHAHA!

News Links For Geeks: 4/8/09

  

Men in Black Men In Black 3 In Development! – [ScreenRant] – Sony announces plans for Men in Black 3, rumors say Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones have expressed interest. What do you think about a third installment?

news_DnD Wizards Of The Coast Learning That Pissing Off Geeks Isn’t Such A Good Idea – [techdirt] If there’s one group online that it’s useful to avoid pissing off, it’s "the geeks." And one thing that plenty of geeks love is Dungeons and Dragons. Yet, D&D publisher, Wizards of the Coast, has fans of the game up in arms

ATT  AT&T’s unionized workers poised to strike, with a ringtone to remind them – [BetaNews] AT&T’s contract with the Communications Workers of America (CWA) expired at midnight yesterday, and if the union’s demands aren’t met in contract re-negotiation, AT&T’s wireline employees — nearly 100 thousand in number — will strike.

Speech_Bubble  Group protests Kindle’s read-aloud limits – [MSNBC Tech&Sci] – A group representing the blind and other people with disabilities protested limitations to the new read-aloud feature on Amazon.com Inc.’s latest Kindle electronic reader Tuesday, arguing that the restrictions unfairly limit their access to e-books.

Mouse Computer Mouse + Taxidermied Mouse = Mouse Mouse! – [Neatorama] What do you get when you combine taxidermy with gadget hacking?

Neurons New neurons update remote memories – [Physorg] It is not easy to find your student bedroom when you left university 10, 20 or 30 years ago. But once you have found it, you can easily return the next day.

Orion_Spacecraft NASA Selects Material for Orion Spacecraft Heat Shield – [NASA] NASA has chosen the material for a heat shield that will protect a new generation of space explorers when they return from the moon. After extensive study, NASA has selected the Avcoat ablator system for the Orion crew module.

Google Earth Pixel Art!

dead_pixel

We’ve all heard of, or even had dead pixels on the digital displays of various electronic devices we use on a daily basis.  And, I can say with near certainty that most people don’t want that.  I know that the small gaps on my nintendo DS drive me crazy whenever I use it.  However, an ingenious Dutch artist, Helmut Smits, thought of an entertaining idea for the upcoming image scanning in his area for use in Google Earth.  He cut out an 82 x 82 cm square of grass in an open field, so that when that area is scanned from the height of 1km, it would look just like a dead pixel in the image.  I’d love to be a fly on the wall in Google HQ when they see that and wonder if their equipment is bad 😉

I’ll keep an eye on the area, and update this post when the image is available!

Netflix Drones Exposed

netflix

Actually, the title sounds more nefarious than this post really is :)  Here we have a behind the scenes look at one of the Netflix sorting warehouses in the east coast.  Thirteen photos of the internal workings and machinations of the receiving, and then immediate shipping out of DVD’s from one customer to another.  I had a Netflix membership once, and never had a problem with the time it took movies to get to me…aside from the occasional broken DVD.

Regardless, this is an interesting peek into their processing.  Check it out HERE.

Wix Website Builder

wix

Here’s an interesting website I came across a few days ago, called Wix.  It’s one of the many flavors of free website builders you can find out there in the interweb.  I found this one to be simpler and more intuitive to use in many ways, than the other builders I have attempted to use in the past.  After signing up for a free account, you can have a functioning website setup in less than ten minutes.  After spending some time on it, I managed to create a website using one of Wix’s premade templates that looked nearly professional enough to use mainstream!

Check it out and have fun.  If you make a website, tell us about it here, and maybe we’ll give you some exposure :)  Cheers!

Happy Cow Brush

Apparently someone thought that this mechanical brush would make for happy cows, and then happy milk ;)  Regardless, this makes for an entertaining couple of minutes!

Now if they only had something like this in WoW, I might do better in the battlegrounds!  Moo!