SciTech Briefs

Bush listens to pirated music on iPod

Thousands upon thousands of people steal music in America, and one of them may be the President of the United States. By RIAA standards, some of the 250 or so songs on President Bush?s iPod are pirated. Bush has made it public knowledge that his personal aide, Blake Gottesman, is in charge of managing his iPod collection ? but articles by both CNN and The New York Times report that staff media advisor Mark McKinnon has downloaded songs such as the Knack?s ?My Sharona? for the President, as well, and made ambiguous how he obtained the files. Blogs and the ?music activist? group Downhill Battle have taken the pirate theory and run with it, and have even registered the domain name to give away to whomever they deem worthy.

Source: The New York Times, CNN,

National Geographic to track man?s origins

Ever wonder if your ancestors really came over on the Mayflower? Well, for $99.95 and a swab of spit, you can now find out. Last week, the National Geographic Society began a five-year mission to boldly seek out the origins of mankind. Its plan is to collect the DNA of 100,000 indigenous people throughout the world and look for similarities in genetic material to try to find patterns in human migration. ?Our DNA tells a fascinating story of the human journey, how we are all related and how our ancestors got to where we are today,? said population geneticist Spencer Wells, who will head the project. Anyone can get involved in this project and learn their own genetic history. However, to avoid political problems, the society will not gather information on genetic diseases, and all of its anthropological data will be made public.


NASA hit by bizarre $311 million lawsuit

NASA is being taken to court over its plans to try to crack open a comet to see what?s inside. Last month, Russian astrologist Marina Bai filed a lawsuit with the Presnensky district court in Moscow, demanding that NASA abort its $311 million Deep Impact mission. Bai is also asking for 8.7 billion rubles ($311 million) in compensation for moral damages. ?The actions of NASA infringe upon my system of spiritual and life values,? Bai said. Bai?s case was initially dismissed, but the Moscow City Court took the appeal and will rule on her case after a hearing set for May 6.


Mystery of unpopped popcorn solved

At the bottom of every bag of popcorn there are always those stubborn kernels that refuse to pop. Popcorn lovers everywhere know how obnoxious, and often painful, it is when one of these rock-hard kernels manages to find its way into a handful of white, fluffy goodness. Researchers at Purdue University have solved the mystery of the unpopped kernel. It turns out that the structure of the kernel?s hull determines whether it will become a delectable morsel or an inedible stone at the bottom of the bowl. If the hull is not sound, moisture will escape, and the kernel will not pop. To make the determination, researchers studied the crystalline structures of the hulls of popped and unpopped kernels.