SciTech News Briefs


Serbia overturns decision to ban theory of evolution
A recent proposal from education minister Ljiljana Colic of Serbia would have prevented Darwin’s theory of evolution from being part of the country’s curriculum unless creationism could be taught with it. Her decision prompted an outcry from the scientific community that accused the Orthodox Church of becoming too involved in Serbian politics. Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica soon overturned the policy.
Source: BBC

Spacecraft held back by unexplained forces
Both of America’s Pioneer 10 and 11 probes have been unexpectedly affected by gravity at the edge of our solar system. After the spacecraft had been traveling for more than thirty years, scientists at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena and the Los Alamos National Laboratory detected the irregularities using NASA’s Deep Space Network dishes. Anomalies in trajectory are occurring on a regular basis, a result of possible "dark matter," the theoretical source of anomalous gravitational forces first described by Albert Einstein. Another possibility is that there are weaknesses in the current theory of gravity.
Source: The Guardian

Bacteria isolated that converts toxic waste into plastic
Scientists Kevin O’Connor and Patrick Ward of University College Dublin have discovered bacteria that turn the toxic byproduct styrene into biodegradable plastic. It was created by taking the naturally occurring Pseudomonas putida bacteria and giving it styrene as its only energy and carbon source. The result was the strain CA-3, which turns styrene into polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), a plastic polymer that has many uses.
Source: Wired News

Researchers turn to radioactive seeds to prevent breast cancer recurrence
Scientists at Canada’s Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Center are testing a prostate cancer treatment to ward off breast cancer recurrence. Prior efforts at adapting the treatment had failed due to breast tissue’s malleability. A specialized plastic device now allows surgeons to target a specific area for treatment. Just over 50 radioactive seeds are injected into a woman’s breast at the site where a tumor was removed. The palladium-containing seeds release radiation to destroy any remaining cancer cells with minimal side effects.
Source: Canadian Press

Technology predicts fast food restaurant volume

HyperActive Technologies, a Pittsburgh company, is currently testing a new system to predict how much food needs to be cooked at a fast food restaurant. The mixture of computer intelligence and rooftop cameras is named HyperActive Bob, and is present at seven area restaurants. The cameras calculate how many vehicles are entering the drive-through and, based on their sizes, suggest the quantity of food to be cooked. The technology cuts down on waste and reduces waiting time. Future additions will include predictions on what the occupants of a vehicle are likely to order.

Source: News and Observer