SciTech Briefs

Pornographic content gets own Internet suffix

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers approved a top-level domain suffix for pornographic content last Friday. The suffix “.xxx” is the result of a decade-long debate to determine how red-light content is compartmentalized in cyberspace. Backed by ICM Registry, this voluntary domain registration would help prevent users from getting computer viruses and provide filters for child pornography and other offensive material. The domain suffix is expected to launch in June or July of this year.


Nintendo launches 3-D DS handheld system

Nintendo, the Japan-based video game powerhouse, has announced the launch of the world’s first 3-D handheld gaming device, named the Nintendo 3DS, which will be available in two weeks. This device, with a button to lessen or amplify the 3-D effects, will mimic the effects one sees when watching 3-D movies, but without the glasses. The system also includes built-in upgrades from Nintendo’s previous handheld device — an SD card slot, a larger screen, and a joystick control. The American Optometric Association has gone so far as to say this device could provide therapeutic results for young children with lazy eye.

Source: PC Magazine

Former Goldman Sachs programmer arrested for theft

Sergey Aleynikov, a former computer programmer at Goldman Sachs, was charged last Friday with stealing several hundred thousand lines of code (‘trade secrets’) from the financial firm. In 2009, Aleynikov allegedly stole the code before heading off to an interview with Teza Technologies, who would have paid him triple the amount of his $400,000 salary. According to prosecutors, Aleynikov stole around 32 of Goldman Sach’s 1224 megabytes of code of the company’s advanced trading software, which helps generate the firm millions of dollars each year. He has been sentenced to eight years in prison.


Japan discovers contamination in food supply

In wake of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Japan’s eastern coast last week, Japanese authorities have discovered high trace levels of radiation in vegetables and other food staples. The government has stopped all supply from food vendors near the leaking nuclear power plant. Officials have also reported elevated levels of iodine and cesium in the rain and water sources. The government has also ordered the distribution of potassium iodine pills to citizens; the pills should help prevent the absorption of radiation into the body.

Source: The New York Times

Scientists find breakthrough with gene therapy

Scientists have found optimistic results regarding Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disease that affects the brain, with a recent gene therapy clinical trial. Patients who received doses of glutamic acid decarboxylas, a virus which creates a neurotransmitter that regulates dopamine levels, were shown to have a 23.1 percent increase in motion control compared to patients in the control group. Scientists hope this can become a long-term solution for treating the disease.

Source: Nature

**NASA satellite Messenger begins orbiting Mercury **

After six-and-a-half years and 4.9 billion miles, NASA’s Messenger has successfully begun orbiting the planet Mercury. The $446 billion project aims to gather pictures of the planet’s surface and confirm many scientists’ hypothesis that water exists there. Mercury is the closest planet to the sun in the solar system, and it has surface temperatures that range from 800°F to –300°F. The desk-sized Messenger should start transmitting pictures and readings next month.

Source: Scientific American