Science and Technology Briefs

Antivirus company warns of new Trojan

Antivirus software company F-Secure Corp. is warning mobile phone users about a new malicious software program infecting phones that use the Symbian Series 60 operating system. Fontal.A is transferred to mobile phones as a SIS format installer file called Kill Saddam By OID500.sis. Once installed, the program damages the phone such that it cannot reboot. Users of mobile phones infected with Fontal.A should not turn off their phones before removing the Trojan, F-Secure said. The company posted instructions for removing the Trojan from infected phones on its web page.
Malicious programs that run on mobile platforms such as Symbian have become more common since Cabir, the first mobile worm, was identified in August 2004. Variants of Cabir have since spread to 16 countries, including the U.S., Japan, and France.

Source: IDG News Service

Early hominid cared for elderly kinsmen

A new fossil uncovered in Dmanisi, Georgia, suggests ancient hominids may have fed and cared for their elderly. The 1.77-million-year-old specimen, described in Nature magazine, was completely toothless and well over 40 ? quite an old age for the time. The fossil reveals that the hominid had lost most of his teeth well before his death. He would not have been able to chew the raw meat or fibrous plants that made up the creatures? normal diet. Therefore, his brethren must have cared for him, feeding him the choice, soft morsels. This may suggest that the creature lived in a complex society that was capable of showing compassion. Unlike the tall-standing, big-brained Homo erectus, Dmanisi hominids were short, small-brained, thin browed, and probably dragged their knuckles along the ground like apes.

Source: BBC News

Simulations solves galactic mystery

Astronomers Noam Libeskind and Carlos Frenk, from the University of Durham, have used the Cosmology Machine supercomputer to show how a series of small galaxies surrounding the Milky Way could take on a ?pancake? form. Theorists originally believed galaxies should have a diffuse, spherical arrangement. Six simulations carried out on the machine not only came up with the correct number of satellites but also showed the same pancake arrangement seen in the Milky Way. Noam Libeskind now plans to conduct further simulations to investigate how common the formation of these cosmic pancakes really is.

Source: BBC News

Evidence reveals animals laugh too

Professor Jaak Panksepp, of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, says that animals other than humans exhibit play sounds that resemble human laughs. These include the panting sounds made by chimps and dogs when they play and chirping sounds observed in rats. This statement suggests that laughter may be a very ancient emotional response that predates the evolution of humankind, says Panksepp. Professor Panksepp explains that neural circuits for laughter exist in very ancient parts of our brain, the general structure of which is shared by many animals.

Source: BBC News