Archive | May, 2013

Go to selected U.S. museums for free with Google’s Field Trip

22 May

If you’re looking for an excursion within six specific U.S. cities, then Google’s Field Trip application wants to help you out. Within Portland, LA, Chicago, Washington DC, New York City and San Francisco, Field Trip is offering free entry to a total of 13 different museums.

Field Trip is developed by the Niantic Labs team at Google, and uses your location data to suggest interesting things to do in the area you find yourself in. It isn’t surprising to see deals such as this one start to appear, since Google has their own Google Offers service already live. The full list of participating museums is as such:

  • Conservatory of Flowers, SF
  • California Academy of Sciences, SF
  • Walt Disney Family Museum, SF
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, LA
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
  • Adler Planetarium, Chicago
  • The Field Museum, Chicago
  • Museum of the city of New York, NY
  • Museum of Arts and Design, NY
  • National Building Museum, DC
  • Portland Children’s Museum
  • Portland Art Museum
  • Pittock Mansion, Portland

The offer stands for a ‘limited time’ with no indication as to what that may mean, and the cards only appear to admit one person for free. So, if you want to go in a group, you’ll all need to download Field Trip. When you find yourself in the vicinity of one of these museums, your free entry will appear just as any other Field Trip card. If you haven’t yet downloaded Field Trip and this sounds like something for you, grab a copy at the download link below.



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Guatemala top court overturns genocide conviction

21 May

Guatemala’s former dictator Jose Efrain Rios Montt stands in the courtroom before the judge enters to read the verdict in his genocide trial in Guatemala City, Friday, May 10, 2013. The court convicted Rios Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, sentencing him to 80 years in prison. The 86-year-old former general is the first former Latin American leader ever found guilty of such a charge. The war between the government and leftist rebels cost more than 200,000 lives and ended in peace accords in 1996. (AP Photo/Moises Castilo)

Guatemala’s former dictator Jose Efrain Rios Montt stands in the courtroom before the judge enters to read the verdict in his genocide trial in Guatemala City, Friday, May 10, 2013. The court convicted Rios Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, sentencing him to 80 years in prison. The 86-year-old former general is the first former Latin American leader ever found guilty of such a charge. The war between the government and leftist rebels cost more than 200,000 lives and ended in peace accords in 1996. (AP Photo/Moises Castilo)

Guatemala’s former dictator Jose Efrain Rios Montt wears headphones as he listens to the verdict in his genocide trial in Guatemala City, Friday, May 10, 2013. The Guatemalan court convicted Rios Montt on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, sentencing him to 80 years in prison. The 86-year-old former general is the first former Latin American leader ever found guilty of such a charge. The war between the government and leftist rebels cost more than 200,000 lives and ended in peace accords in 1996. (AP Photo/Moises Castilo)

(AP) ? Guatemala’s top court has thrown another curve into the genocide case of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt, overturning his conviction and ordering that the trial be taken back to the middle of the proceedings.

The ruling late Monday threw into disarray a process that had been hailed as historic for delivering the first guilty verdict for genocide against a former Latin American leader.

Constitutional Court secretary Martin Guzman said the trial needs to go back to where it stood on April 19 to solve several appeal issues.

The ruling came 10 days after a three-judge panel convicted the 86-year-old Rios Montt of genocide and crimes against humanity for his role in massacres of Mayans during Guatemala’s bloody, 36-year civil war. The panel found after two months of testimony that Rios Montt knew about the slaughter of at least 1,771 Ixil Mayans in the western highlands and didn’t stop it.

The tribunal sentenced the 86-year-old former general to 80 years in prison, drawing cheers from many Guatemalans. It was the first time a former Latin American leader was convicted of such crimes in his home country and the first official acknowledgment that genocide occurred during the war ? something the current president, retired Gen. Otto Perez Molina, has denied.

Rios Montt’s lawyers immediately filed an appeal, and he spent three days in prison before he was moved to a military hospital, where he remains.

The top court on Monday said it threw out his conviction because the trial should have been stopped while appeals filed by the defense were resolved.

Defense lawyer Francisco Garcia Gudiel told The Associated Press by telephone that he would seek the former dictator’s freedom on Tuesday.

“There is no alternative,” Garcia said. “The court has made a legal resolution after many flaws in the process. Tomorrow we will ask that they liberate the general, who is being imprisoned unjustly.”

Representatives of the victims who testified against Rios Montt couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

The proceedings, which started in March, had been whipped back and forth ever since April 18, when a Guatemalan judge ordered that the trial should be restarted just as it was nearing closing arguments.

Judge Carol Patricia Flores had been recently reinstated by the Constitutional Court after being recused in February 2012. She ruled that all actions taken in the case since she was first asked to step down were null, sending the trial back to square one.

The next day, April 19, the tribunal hearing the oral part of the trial asked the Constitutional Court to decide if the proceedings should continue.

The trial was suspended for 12 days amid appeals and at times appeared headed for annulment. But it resumed April 30, and on May 10 the three-judge tribunal found Rios Montt guilty after more than 100 witnesses and experts testified about mass rapes and the killings of women and children and other atrocities committed by government troops. Rios Montt ruled Guatemala in 1982-83 following a military coup.

Survivors and relatives of victims had sought for 30 years to bring punishment for Rios Montt. For international observers and Guatemalans on both sides of the war, the trial was seen as a turning point in a nation still wrestling with the trauma of a conflict that killed some 200,000 people.

The defense constantly claimed flaws and miscarriages of justice.

Courts solved more than 100 complaints and injunctions filed by the defense before the trial even started.

Rios Montt’s defense team walked out on April 18, arguing that they couldn’t continue to be part of such a bad proceeding. When the three-judge tribunal resumed the trial, it ordered two public defenders to represent Rios Montt and his co-defendant, Jose Rodriguez Sanchez.

Rios Montt rejected his public defender and instead brought in Garcia, who was expelled earlier by the tribunal but reinstated by an appeals court.

Garcia had earlier been ordered off the case after he called for the three judges on the tribunal to be removed from the proceedings. He kept trying to have the judges dismissed. And the Constitutional Court ruled Monday that the trial should have been suspended while his appeal was heard.

The trial “was unlawfully reopened,” Garcia said at the time.

Associated Press


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The Favorite Boozy Beverage of Classic Movie Characters, In One Chart

21 May

The Big Lebowski’s The Dude? White Russians. Silence of the Lambs’ Hannibal Lecter? Chianti. This awesome cocktail chart maps the drinks of choice for characters in classic books and movies.

Read more…



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Advance in nanotech gene sequencing technique

21 May

May 20, 2013 ? The allure of personalized medicine has made new, more efficient ways of sequencing genes a top research priority. One promising technique involves reading DNA bases using changes in electrical current as they are threaded through a nanoscopic hole.

Now, a team led by University of Pennsylvania physicists has used solid-state nanopores to differentiate single-stranded DNA molecules containing sequences of a single repeating base.

The study was led by Marija Drndi?, an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences, along with graduate students Kimberly Venta and Matthew Puster and post-doctoral researchers Gabriel Shemer, Julio A. Rodriguez-Manzo and Adrian Balan. They collaborated with assistant professor Jacob K. Rosenstein of Brown University and professor Kenneth L. Shepardof Columbia University.

Their results were published in the journal ACS Nano.

In this technique, known as DNA translocation measurements, strands of DNA in a salt solution are driven through an opening in a membrane by an applied electric field. As each base of the strand passes through the pore, it blocks some ions from passing through at the same time; amplifiers attached to the nanopore chip can register the resulting drop in electrical current. Because each base has a different size, researchers hope to use this data to infer the order of the bases as the strand passes through. The differences in base sizes are so small, however, that the proportions of both the nanopores and membranes need to be close those of the DNA strands themselves — a major challenge.

The nanopore devices closest to being a commercially viable option for sequencing are made out of protein pores and lipid bilayers. Such protein pores have desirable proportions, but the lipid bilayer membranes in which they are inserted are akin to a film of soap, which leaves much to be desired in terms of durability and robustness.

Solid-state nanopore devices, which are made of thin solid-state membranes, offer advantages over their biological counterparts — they can be more easily shipped and integrated with other electronics — but the basic demonstrations of proof-of-principle sensitivity to different DNA bases have been slower.

“While biological nanopores have shown the ability to resolve single nucleotides, solid-state alternatives have lagged due to two challenges of actually manufacturing the right-sized pores and achieving high-signal, low-noise and high-bandwidth measurements,” Drndi? said. “We’re attacking those two challenges here.”

Because the mechanism by which the nanopore differentiate between one type of base and another is by the amount of the pore’s aperture that is blocked, the smaller a pore’s diameter, the more accurate it is. For the nanopore to be effective at determining a sequence of bases, its diameter must approach the diameter of the DNA and its thickness must approach that of the space between one base and the next, or about 0.3 nanometers.

To get solid-state nanopores and membranes in these tiny proportions, researchers, including Drndi?’s group, are investigating cutting-edge materials, such as graphene. A single layer of carbon atoms in a hexagonal lattice, graphene membranes can be made a little as about 0.5 nanometers thick but have their own disadvantages to be addressed. For example, the material itself is hydrophobic, making it more difficult to pass strands of DNA through them.

In this experiment, Drndi? and her colleagues worked with a different material — silicon nitride — rather than attempting to craft single-atom-thick graphene membranes for nanopores. Treated silicon nitride is hydrophilic and has readily allowed DNA translocations, as measured by many other researchers during the last decade. And while their membrane is thicker, about 5 nanometers, silicon nitride pores can also approach graphene in terms of thinness due to the way they are manufactured.

“The way we make the nanopores in silicon nitride makes them taper off, so that the effective thickness is about a third of the rest of the membrane,” Drndi? said.

Drndi? and her colleagues tested their silicon nitride nanopore on homopolymers, or single strands of DNA with sequences that consist of only one base repeated several times. The researchers were able to make distinct measurements for three of the four bases: adenine, cytosine and thymine. They did not attempt to measure guanine as homopolymers made with that base bind back on themselves, making it more difficult to pass them through the nanopores.

“We show that these small pores are sensitive to the base content,” Drndi? said, “and we saw these results in pores with diameters between 1 and 2 nanometers, which is actually encouraging because it suggests some manufacturing variability may be okay.”


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Teach kids personal finance through experience: six tips

21 May

When teaching older children and teenagers about personal finance, experience is key. Here are six real-life experiences that can get them on the right financial track.?

By Trent Hamm,?Guest blogger / May 18, 2013

Damien Herrera smiles as customers arrive last week at his lemonade stand as he participates in Lemonade Day Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas. Hamm suggests encouraging kids to start a summer business in order to teach them about managing money.

Michael Zamora/Corpus Christi Caller-Times/AP/File


One of the most powerful things I?ve learned over the last few years is that older children and teenagers often learn the most powerful life lessons from experiences they can directly relate to.

Skip to next paragraph Trent Hamm

The Simple Dollar is a blog for those of us who need both cents and sense: people fighting debt and bad spending habits while building a financially secure future and still affording a latte or two. Our busy lives are crazy enough without having to compare five hundred mutual funds ? we just want simple ways to manage our finances and save a little money.

Recent posts

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The problem is that personal finance isn?t often directly relatable to their life. Quite often, parents and teachers rely on lectures and discussions to get the ideas across, but experiences are the things that many older children and teenagers really connect with. You can tell them about personal finance all day long, but without some experience, it often won?t sink in.

Here are some actual experiences your older children and teenagers can engage in to learn some of the basics of personal finance. I?ve been collecting these activities myself in order to help educate my children in personal finance literacy as they grow older.

Give an allowance each week. You can start this effectively with children as young as four. We give our children an allowance of a rate of $0.50 per week per year. So, a seven year old gets $3.50 per week. Out of that allowance, they must donate at least 20% of it, they must invest at least 20% of it, and they must save at least 20% of it for a future goal, rounded up to the nearest quarter.

This teaches them both the basic structure of budgeting and the benefit of saving money over time. They?ll learn that structuring what they do with their income is a completely normal thing and segmenting their money means that they?ll always have enough for what they need.

Lend them money with interest attached. If your child really wants something, lend them the rest of the money with 20% interest attached, and make the payments come out of their allowance each week. ?I?ll loan you the $20 you need for that game, son, but I?ll charge you 20% interest on that and you have to pay me $1 a week until it?s all paid off.?

If they go for it, take that $0.50 each week out of their allowance and remind them each time how much they?ve repaid you. When they reach week 20 and they?ve now repaid the full amount and you?re still taking a dollar a week for the next month to pay off an item that they?ve probably forgotten about, it?ll hit home.

Take your children to a few tax auctions. Explain to them that all of the stuff on sale there came from people who were unable to pay their bills because they spent too much money.

The lesson here is that there are real consequences to taking on debt. If you fall into too much debt, you not only lose all of the money you paid into that debt, you lose the things you bought with that money, too. Personal debt is a dangerous game to play.

Tell them that they have $X to spend this week and they have to figure out what to buy for groceries. If you want, you can actually let them carry forward with this plan from beginning to end. They have to figure out how to spend that money to cover all 21 family meals for the week. How will they stretch those dollars? What does the meal plan look like?

Don?t be afraid to let your older child attempt this, carry it all the way through, and find that it?s a lot harder than they thought it would be. In fact, it?s okay to let it end in miserable failure. Only swoop in when you have to in order to make sure there are actually functional meals on the table.

Encourage them to spend the summer launching a small business. It can be anything they want, from starting a Youtube channel to running a vegetable garden to sell the products at a farmers? market. Help them work out the costs and give them an out-of-pocket business loan to get started.

The goal here is for them to connect their personal efforts to financial and personal rewards. The harder they work, the greater the financial reward, but the greater the pride in the work they?ve produced as well. Any entrepreneurial effort is loaded with potential lessons for an older child or a teenager.

These activities require time, effort, and patience from the parent, but they provide experiences that make the realities of personal finance far more accessible to children. If you want your child to learn these kinds of lessons, get them involved in these kinds of experiences.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers’ own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger’s own site by clicking on


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Prenatal exposure to traffic is associated with respiratory infection in young children

20 May

May 20, 2013 ? Living near a major roadway during the prenatal period is associated with an increased risk of respiratory infection developing in children by the age of 3, according to a new study from researchers in Boston.

“The connection between in utero and early life cigarette smoke exposure and adverse infant respiratory outcomes is well-established, but the relation of prenatal ambient air pollution to risk of infant respiratory infection is less well-studied,” said lead author Mary Rice, MD, a pulmonary and critical care fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “Our study extends previous findings by showing that proximity to a major roadway during the prenatal period is associated with increased risk of subsequent respiratory infection in children.”

The study results will be presented at the ATS 2013 International Conference in Philadelphia.

The study included 1,271 mother-child pairs enrolled during the first trimester of pregnancy between 1999 and 2002 in Project Viva in eastern Massachusetts. The distance from home addresses to the nearest Federal class 1/2A (“major”) roadway was calculated using geographic information system software. Respiratory infections were defined as maternal report of any doctor-diagnosed pneumonia, bronchiolitis, croup or other respiratory infection from birth until age 3.

Statistical analyses of the relationship between exposure to a major roadway and respiratory infection were adjusted for gender, birth weight, maternal education, household income, neighborhood income and education, maternal smoking during pregnancy, postnatal household smoking, breastfeeding, daycare attendance, presence of other young children in the household and season of birth. Of the 1,271 mother-child pairs studied, 6.4% lived less than 100 meters, 6.5% lived 100 to 200 meters, 33.7% lived 200 to less than 1000 meters and 53.4% lived 1,000 meters or more from a major roadway. By the age of 3, 678 (53.3%) of the children had had at least one doctor-diagnosed respiratory infection. After adjustment for possible confounders and risk factors for respiratory infection, children whose mothers lived less than 100 meters from a major roadway during pregnancy were 1.74 times as likely as those living 100 meters or more from a major roadway to have had a respiratory infection. Those living 100 to 200 meters from a major roadway were 1.49 times as likely to have had a respiratory infection.

“In our study, living in close proximity to a major roadway during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of respiratory infection in children, adding to the growing body of evidence linking exposure to traffic with adverse effects on health,” said Dr. Rice. “Future research will need to clarify whether the apparent harmful postnatal effects of living close to a major road during pregnancy is due to air pollution from traffic or other exposures related to roads. We plan to further explore this connection using a measure of black carbon, a component of traffic-related air pollution. Using black carbon measures, we also plan to disentangle the associations of pre- vs postnatal air pollution exposures with respiratory infection in early life.”


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Alexis Normand National Anthem Attempt: Major FAIL!

20 May


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