SciTech Briefs

Urban coyotes pose problems for city dwellers

Scientists have located the smallest known coyote territory five miles away from Chicago’s O’Hare airport. The team said that the coyote community has thrived in an area about one third of a square mile for six years.

“That’s an indication that they don’t have to go far to find food and water,” said Stan Gehrt, an associate professor of environment and natural resources at Ohio State University who has tracked the coyotes around Chicago for 12 years.

Some researchers are worried that the advent of coyote communities in cities may have larger classes of carnivores following suit.

Source: Science Daily and National Geographic

New development made in quantum cryptography

Researchers from the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Houston created a new method of quantum cryptography that uses photons to code messages to increase data security.

Pramode Verma, a University of Oklahoma electrical and computer engineering professor, explained that programs using current cryptography techniques become susceptible to attacks that can recover sensitive information as they become larger.

The unpredictable nature of photons ensures that hackers can’t access information used to transmit sensitive data.

Source: University of Oklahoma

Paleontologist reveals new dinosaur species

University of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno has recently published his findings of a dinosaur species he discovered in South Africa.

The dinosaur is called Pegomastax africanus — or “thick jaw from Africa” — and it roamed the Earth between 100 million and 200 million years ago. The one-foot tall animal’s size, frills, and tooth structure have led some to label it a cross between a bird, a vampire, and a porcupine.

Sereno explained that he had actually uncovered the species back in 1983, but had been too busy with other projects to announce his discovery at the time.

Source: Reuters

Scientists turn on world’s fastest radio telescope

Scientists in Murchison, Australia, have powered on the world’s fastest radio telescope, dubbed the Australia Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP), to help survey the universe and map out black holes.

“Radio waves tell us unique things about the cosmos, about the gas from which stars were formed, and about exotic objects, pulsars and quasars, that really push the boundaries of our knowledge of the physical laws in the universe,” said Brian Boyle, director of the project.

The ASKAP is located in an area roughly the size of Costa Rica with a total population of 120 people, as man-made radio signals would negatively impact the telescope’s effectiveness.

Source: Reuters

Facebook announces 1 billionth member

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, announced last week that it had surpassed the one billion active users mark. This achievement places Facebook among the fastest-growing websites in history.

In spite of this success, the company has been struggling to remain financially competitive. After Facebook’s initial public offering in May, its stock price fell to as low as 53 percent of its original value last month, and has not fully recovered. Following investors’ cries to find alternative sources of revenue, the company has recently turned to asking its users to pay to promote important posts, photos, and status updates.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Doctors improve detection of rare genetic disorders

Doctors and researchers at Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo., have created software that can analyze the DNA of newborn babies and detect rare genetic disorders early. This new technique brings the time spent diagnosing these disorders from potential weeks or months down to just two days. Speedy diagnoses lead to speedy treatments, which can make the difference between life and death in the early phases of an infant’s life.

“This is the biggest breakthrough in this technology for clinical applications we have seen in a few years,” said David Dimmock, a geneticist not involved in the study.

Source: The Seattle Times