Sunday, March 31, 2013

Moog Music's Amos Gaynes on learning to code in BASIC and going off the grid

The Engadget Questionnaire with Amos Gaynes of Moog Music

Every week, a new and interesting human being tackles our decidedly geeky take on the Proustian Q&A. This is the Engadget Questionnaire.

In the return edition of our regular session of inquiry, Moog Music product manager Amos Gaynes discusses sound synthesis, tolerance for poor battery life and shares his love for BB10. For the entire collection of answers, take a quick leap to the other side of the break.

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Italy president pledges to stay to deal with crisis

By Giselda Vagnoni

ROME (Reuters) - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Saturday ruled out standing down early to make way for new parliamentary elections, following the failure of attempts to form a government this week.

Napolitano, whose term ends on May 15, spoke after news reports suggested he might resign to get around constitutional provisions which prevent a president dissolving parliament and calling elections in the final months of his mandate.

The 87-year-old told reporters he would continue his efforts to break the deadlock since inconclusive elections last month that left no group able to form a government.

"I will continue until the last day of my mandate to do as my sense of national responsibility suggests, without hiding from the country the difficulties that I am still facing," he told reporters at his Quirinale palace.

He said he would ask two small groups of experts to formulate proposals for institutional and social and economic reforms that could be supported by all political parties.

But he acknowledged that he had limited scope to force the divided parties to find a way out of political situation that he said was "frozen between irreconcilable positions".

Napolitano met leaders of the main parties on Friday to try to find a way out of the stalemate, which has created deep uncertainty just as the Cyprus banking crisis has revived fears about the stability of the euro zone.

However with all of the three main groups in parliament clinging to entrenched positions that have prevented a majority being formed in parliament, hopes of a solution that would prevent the need to go back to the polls have faded.

Center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani, whose party controls the lower house but does not have a majority in the Senate, failed to win enough support to form a government from any of the other parties during a week of talks.

He rejected demands by center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi for a cross-party coalition deal that would give the scandal-plagued former prime minister a share in power and the right to decide Napolitano's successor.

Both Berlusconi's group and the populist 5-Star Movement led by ex-comic Beppe Grillo have also ruled out a new technocrat government like the one led by outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti, blocking what appears to be the only other option.


With investors mindful of the 2011 debt crisis that brought down Berlusconi's last government, the gridlock has fed worries about Italy's ability to confront an economic crisis that has fuelled rising social tensions and disillusion with its political class.

Napolitano's pledge to stay on appears to rule out the threat of a power vacuum with weeks of uncertainty until new elections, which would have to be called within 70 days of parliament being dissolved.

He stressed that Prime Minister Mario Monti retained full authority at the head of a caretaker administration until a new government can be formed.

Whether or not that can happen, parliament will soon have to begin preparations to vote for a new president either to oversee the first steps of a new government or early elections.

The election of the head of state, by a joint sitting of parliament and representatives from the regions, is likely to cause another bitter fight between the three main blocs which have become increasingly hostile to each other since the election.

A person close to the situation told Reuters on Saturday that Napolitano had considered resigning and the apparently coordinated leak of his thinking to newspapers may have been a move to increase pressure on the parties to secure a deal.

With bond markets closed for the Easter break, investors have been left on the sidelines but a poorly received auction of mid- and long-term debt last week underlined the danger if the crisis drags on.

Italy has been in deep recession for more than a year, with record unemployment, especially among the young and a 2-trillion-euro ($2.6-trillion) public debt that is dangerously exposed to swings on international bond markets.

Economy Minister Vittorio Grilli, responding to questions about market rumors of a ratings downgrade, told reporters on Thursday he had no knowledge of any imminent decision by Moody's to cut Italy's sovereign debt rating.

Moody's already rates Italy only two notches above "junk" grade, partly due to the uncertain political outlook.

(Writing by James Mackenzie; editing by Barry Moody)


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Confederate flag at old NC Capitol coming down

A Confederate flag is seen on display at the Old Capitol, which houses the governor?s office and still hosts numerous government events, Thursday, March 28, 2013, in Raleigh, N.C. State Historic Sites Director Keith Hardison says the flag raised last week inside the House chamber is part of a historical display replicating how the antebellum building appeared in 1863. (AP Photo/Michael Biesecker)

A Confederate flag is seen on display at the Old Capitol, which houses the governor?s office and still hosts numerous government events, Thursday, March 28, 2013, in Raleigh, N.C. State Historic Sites Director Keith Hardison says the flag raised last week inside the House chamber is part of a historical display replicating how the antebellum building appeared in 1863. (AP Photo/Michael Biesecker)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) ? A Confederate battle flag hung inside the old North Carolina State Capitol last week to mark the sesquicentennial of the Civil War is being taken down after civil rights leaders raised concerns.

The decision was announced Friday evening, hours after the Associated Press published a story about the flag, which officials said was part of an historical display intended to replicate how the antebellum building appeared in 1863. The flag had been planned to hang in the House chamber until April 2015, the 150th anniversary of the arrival of federal troops in Raleigh.

"This is a temporary exhibit in an historic site, but I've learned the governor's administration is going to use the old House chamber as working space," Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz said Friday night. "Given that information, this display will end this weekend rather than April of 2015."

Kim Genardo, the spokeswoman for Gov. Pat McCrory, said the exhibit that includes the Confederate battle flag will be relocated, possibly across the street to the N.C. Museum of History.

The decision was a quick about-face for the McCrory administration, which initially defended the display. Many people see the flag as a potent reminder of racial discrimination and bigotry.

State Historic Sites Director Keith Hardison had said Thursday the flag should be viewed in what he called the proper historical context.

"Our goal is not to create issues," said Hardison, a Civil War re-enactor and history buff. "Our goal is to help people understand issues of the past. ... If you refuse to put something that someone might object to or have a concern with in the exhibit, then you are basically censoring history."

North Carolina NAACP president Rev. William Barber was shocked Friday when he was shown a photo of the flag by the AP.

"He is right that it has a historical context," Barber said. "But what is that history? The history of racism. The history of lynchings. The history of death. The history of slavery. If you say that shouldn't be offensive, then either you don't know the history, or you are denying the history."

Barber couldn't immediately be reached Friday night, after the decision to take down the flag.

Sessions of the General Assembly moved to a newer building a half-century ago, but the old Capitol building is still routinely used as a venue for official state government events. McCrory's office is on the first floor, as are the offices of his chief of staff and communications staff.

The Republican governor was in the House chamber where the Confederate flag hangs as recently as Thursday, when he presided over the swearing-in ceremony of his new Highway Patrol commander.

The presentation of the Confederate battle flag at state government buildings has long been an issue of debate throughout the South. For more than a decade, the NAACP has urged its members to boycott South Carolina because of that state's display of the flag on the State House grounds.

Prior to taking his current job in North Carolina in 2006, Hardison worked as director at the Mississippi home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, which is operated as a museum and library owned by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The group has led the fight in the South for the proud display of the Confederate flag, which it contends is a symbol of heritage, not hate.

Hardison said the battle flag was displayed with other flags described in the diary of a North Carolina woman who visited the Capitol in 1863. A large U.S. flag displayed in the Senate chamber is reminiscent of a trophy of war captured from Union troops at the Battle of Plymouth.

"I thought, wouldn't it be wonderful to recreate this?" Hardison said. "I think we were all thinking along the same vein. ... The Capitol is both a working seat of government, in that the governor and his staff has his office there. But it is also a museum."

Hardison pointed out that the national flag used by the Confederate government, with its circle of white stars and red and white stripes, is still flown over the State Capitol dome each year on Confederate Memorial Day. The more familiar blood-red battle flag, featuring a blue "X'' studded with white stars, was used by the rebel military.

David Goldfield, a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and author of the book "Still Fighting the Civil War," said the battle flag can hold starkly different meanings depending on a person's social perspective.

"The history of the Confederate battle flag, how it was designed and formulated, how it has been used through the years, clearly states that it is a flag of white supremacy," Goldfield said. "I know current Sons of Confederate Veterans would dispute that, saying 'Hey, I'm not a racist.' But the fact remains that the battle flag was used by a country that had as its foundation the protection and extension of human bondage."


Follow Michael Biesecker at

Associated Press


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The Home Improvement Guidelines You Need to have That Function

Finding the Best Deals of the Day

The very best factor about home improvements is that they add to your home?s worth. If you update your residence with fresh new additions or renovations on your own, you can save a complete lot of income. Some men and women even uncover do-it-yourself house improvement projects to be an entertaining hobby. By reading this write-up, you will uncover some fantastic ideas concerning house improvement projects.

When searching for a contractor for your residence improvements, shop around and get numerous estimates for the identical sort of perform. Be sure to submit the very same list of repairs and improvements to every single contractor with no modifications or additions. If you constantly alter the particulars, it will be really hard to find the best worth for your funds.

If a contractor delivers you a money discount, you want to decide on a distinct one particular. You aren?t going to have a paper trail if you pay with money you are not going to be in a position to do something if he does not full the function and will take your money.

Paint the walls of any space that is hunting tired and outdated. The overall look of any space can modify with a new coat of paint. It does not cost considerably to repaint your walls and doing so can boost your home?s worth. You?ll uncover that light, airy shades complement the widest range of different furnishings and decorating styles.

Consider the funds you commit now on insulation to be an investment in your extended term savings. Older houses typically look to want significantly more insulation. The addition of far more insulation in places of the house like the crawl space or attic could reduce your utility bills drastically.

Property owners really should do additions and renovations in the middle of a slump in the actual estate marketplace. You can typically save a lot of cash throughout these times, as numerous creating pros such as contractors are desperate for function. Home improvements in no way get old and expire. When you renovate your home for the duration of a slump, you save cash and your home?s worth will develop in the future.

Add a ceiling fan to your property. It?s simple and relatively low-cost to do this, so it is a excellent very first house improvement project. Ceiling fans can save you money by circulating the air in your house and creating air conditioning less required.

Give very good work to your home?s curb appeal. Attempt enhancing the outside of your house by having a nicely mowed lawn with trimmed edges. You may possibly also plant some nice shrubs. Preserve your sidewalks spotless. Wash your roof with a energy washer to ensure that there is no dirt or grime visible. Guarantee your windows are spic and span. All of this could make a excellent impression as an individual initially sees your residence.

When you take care in the preparing and execution of a residence improvement project, it?s simple to make your residence far more beneficial, more appealing and more livable. With these guidelines, hopefully you make good decisions, get inspired, and save a bit of money as you go along.

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Indoor GPS: Why tech companies want to track you inside

This week Apple purchased WiFiSLAM, an "indoor GPS" company whose technology allows precise navigation inside buildings. Indoor GPS could make navigating shopping centers and airports easier, but Apple and other companies will have to implement it in a way that respects users' privacy.

By Jeff Ward-Bailey,?Contributor / March 28, 2013

Indoor GPS would allow Apple's iPhone, and other devices, to give users detailed navigation in buildings. Here, a man looks at his iPhone's screen as he walks down a street in downtown Shanghai.

Carlos Barria/Reuters/File


Every modern phone has a GPS built in, and some sort of navigation service to give you directions on the highway. But as soon as you get out of the car, that service isn't much use -- you might be able to guide yourself to a store that's a block away, but as soon as you step indoors you're out of luck. GPS can't help you find your friends in a mall, or direct you to the correct gate at an airport.?

Skip to next paragraph Jeff Ward-Bailey


Jeff began writing for the Monitor's Horizons blog in 2011, covering product news and rumors, innovations from companies like Apple and Google, and developments in tech policy.

Recent posts

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But that might change soon. This week Apple purchased Silicon Valley start-up WiFiSLAM, an "indoor GPS" company whose technology can pinpoint a device's location indoors. Indoor GPS works by using Wi-Fi signals, as well as data from phone sensors like a compass and accelerometer, to enable much more precise tracking than is possible with regular GPS. The company says that it can peg a user's indoor location to within 2.5 meters, or about 8 feet.

So far, WiFiSLAM has been marketing its technology to app developers who want to be able to make indoor maps, according to Jessica Lessin at The Wall Street Journal. That might also allow for new kinds of retail apps -- picture what it would be like to have your phone give you sale information about whatever kind of produce you're standing in front of at the grocery store.

The purchase of WiFiSLAM is almost certainly a way for Apple to step up its mapping game against rival Google. Google Maps has included indoor navigation for a little while already, albeit only for buildings that the company has mapped already -- things like sports arenas and shopping centers. (Google says its database includes 10,000 buildings in 13 countries.) Apple, meanwhile, foundered initially as its own mapping service debuted last year to critical reviews. The company has since worked hard to improve Apple Maps, and WiFiSLAM could be a big step up -- for starters, since the technology relies partially on data from phone sensors, everyone using an iPhone indoors would be helping to create maps of the buildings they're in.

Indoor GPS, of course, raises some privacy concerns -- not least because it would allow Apple, or any other company that employs it, to collect pretty specific data on users' movements and habits. Since companies need to find a way to make money on services like this, it's probably not reasonable to expect a free indoor GPS that also completely respects users' privacy.

For more tech news, follow Jeff on?Twitter:?@jeffwardbailey.


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Zumba instructor pleads guilty to Maine prostitution charges

(Reuters) - A Zumba fitness instructor who doubled as a prostitute and secretly videotaped her encounters with dozens of men in a small Maine beach community pleaded guilty on Friday to 20 counts.

The instructor, Alexis Wright, 30, pleaded guilty in state court in Portland, Maine, to prostitution and conspiracy charges. She also pleaded guilty to theft for accepting state welfare assistance and tax evasion for failing to report her prostitution income.

The quiet seaside town of Kennebunk, Maine, known for its maritime heritage and proximity to former President George H.W. Bush's home in nearby Kennebunkport, was rocked by the case after police in October began releasing the names of dozens of local men who were Wright's clients.

"I think the unfortunate thing about this case and the attention that it's received and the length of time that it's gone on is that it will never be over for her," Wright's attorney Sarah Churchill told Maine's WCSH television.

Prosecutors had initially charged Wright with more than 100 violations. She faces 10 months in jail and will be sentenced in May.

Wright's business partner, businessman Mark Strong, was convicted this month of running the prostitution business with her. He was sentenced to 20 days in jail.

The plea agreement forestalls a trial in which jurors would have viewed footage of Wright engaged in sex acts with men that she surreptitiously recorded.

(Reporting by Jason McLure in Littleton, New Hampshire; Editing by Ian Simpson and Eric Beech)


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Kenyan separatists deny behind deadly resort attack

By Joseph Akwiri

MOMBASA, Kenya (Reuters) - A Kenyan separatist movement denied on Friday accusations by the authorities that it was behind a raid in a coastal resort that killed eight people, although it said former members may have been involved.

Armed police officers shot dead six attackers and two policemen were killed in Thursday's early morning raid on a casino popular with tourists in Malindi. Officials blamed the banned Mombasa Republican Council (MRC).

A series of attacks blamed on the movement have damaged prospects for growth and investment along Kenya's coast, a major tourist draw, and in Mombasa, an economically vital port city.

"Police should stop using the MRC as a scapegoat for failing to protect Kenyans," senior MRC member Omar Bebo told Reuters. He said that criminal gangs "have taken advantage of our sour relationship with government to cause trouble".

"Some of these gangs are formed by splinter groups of youths who decamped from the MRC because we rejected their call to engage in violence. Those are the people police should be chasing," he said by telephone.

The MRC feeds off local discontent largely based on long-held grievances over land and frustration at the perceived economic marginalisation of the coast by the central government.

Police suspected the group targeted the Italian-owned casino in order to steal cash to fund their activities. Four suspects were arrested and dozens of others fled.

"We know we have some youth who decided to ignore our call for peace, and might also be involved in these attacks, but we told them they are on their own," Omar said. "MRC is not responsible for their actions, and we have disowned them."

On Thursday night police increased security around a police station in Kilifi, west of Mombasa, another MRC stronghold, saying they received reports that MRC youths planned a raid.

Beatrice Gachago, area police chief, told Reuters that she had ordered more night patrols after receiving the intelligence reports. "We are not taking anything for granted," she said.


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Seasons on 'Game of Thrones' Planet: How They Work

Winter is coming on the HBO series "Game of Thrones," but no one seems to be able to predict when.

The planet's last summer persisted for seven years, while winter has been known to last a generation on the show. Understanding when the seasons will change is just one of the many issues plaguing the characters of the fantasy series based on the books by George R.R. Martin.

Although science doesn't play much of a role in the fictional world ? which comes complete with dragons, magic and a red comet that serves as an omen ? planetary science could help explain the odd seasonal changes on the three continents in the TV show's universe.

"Yes, seasons can last arbitrarily long times," Geoff Marcy, a veteran planet hunter at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote in an email to

Seasons are for the most part controlled by the way a planet leans toward or away from its sun. For example, the Earth's axis does not run straight through the planet. Instead, it has a slight tilt that points the Northern Hemisphere toward the sun during part of the planet's orbit (causing summer) and away for another part (causing winter).

Other planets experience similar ? and more extreme ? seasonal changes. [The Strangest Alien Planets (Gallery)]

"The planet Uranus in our solar system has its North Pole spin axis pointed toward the sun during some 42 years, and then it points away from the Sun for another 42 years," wrote Marcy. "If you lived anywhere in the northern hemisphere, summer would last 42 years and then winter would last 42 years.? So the spin axis orientation makes all the difference."

Although Uranus' winter and summer might be extremely long, they are still predictable. On "Game of Thrones," no one knows when summer will end and winter will begin. It is possible that a "wobbly" axis could create variable seasonal length, said Greg Laughlin, an astrophysicist at the University of California Santa Cruz, but not necessarily on the timeline that show presents.

A wobbly tilt will not create rapid seasonal changes over the course of years or even decades, Laughlin said. Variability in the length of season happens after thousands of years. In other words, the characters on the television show would not be alive to see a distinct change in the length of any of the seasons.

Mars has a wobbly axis, according to Marcy. However, the Red Planet's seasons don't change from one year to the next. Instead, it takes thousands of years for the planet's axis to wobble enough to change the length of a season.

Seasons are also dependent upon the kind of planetary system the exoplanet finds itself in, Laughlin said.

"One situation that will lead to wildly variable seasons over long periods of time is if the planet in question is a member of a strongly interacting multiple planet system," Laughlin said, describing how a planet's orbit could be pulled out of whack by another planet.

These changes would also happen over the course of thousands or millions of years, Laughlin added. But this also might be a good explanation for the seasonal issues on the "Game of Thrones."

The books and TV show make mention of a second moon that disintegrated when it flew too close to its sun. Of course, in the book's lore that moon was actually an egg full of dragons ? so maybe it would be best not to apply too much real science to this kind of fiction.

The newest season of "Game of Thrones" premieres Sunday (March 31) at 9 p.m. EDT on HBO. Check local listings.

Follow Miriam Kramer @mirikramer and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on

Copyright 2013, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Google Keep, Instructables, Sidewalk Buddy, and More

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you had no excuse for being unproductive this week. What with Google's new note taking service coming out (and staying out), a coupon organizer in the palm of your hand, and easy to use instructions that can basically tell you how to do anything, any thing you didn't get done is on you. More »


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Lion kills heron: A stork reminder of big cats' wild nature

Lion kills heron: A video of four lions setting upon a blue heron at a Dutch zoo serves as a reminder of the King of the Jungle's wild instincts.

By Mai Ng?c Ch?u,?Contributor / March 28, 2013

A group of four lions, like the one pictured at left, and a heron, like the one at right, had an encounter at an Amsterdam zoo that did not turn out well for the heron.

Lion: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP/File; Heron: Robert Harbison / The Christian Science Monitor


A video of four lions preying upon a heron at a Dutch zoo, shot last year and reposted on YouTube Wednesday, reminds us that you can take the lion out of the wild, but you can't take the wild out of the lion.?

Skip to next paragraph

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In the video, a blue heron?at the Artis Royal Zoo wandered into a small pool while a group of four lions were basking in the sun, about 25 yards away. ?

As the the bird came into view of a lioness, instinct kicked in.?The lioness darted toward the bird, which desperately attempted to take flight but was pulled from the air with a leaping snatch.?The rest of her pride joined in to finish off the heron. ?

The footage of the killing has drawn thousands of views, because it's not often to see animals prey on one another at zoos. Experts said that, though the kings of the jungle are kept in captivity, cared and fed by humans, their original wildness remains untamed.?

Earlier this month, an African lion broke out of its pen and killed a 24-year-old intern at the Cat Haven sanctuary in California who was cleaning the main enclosure. According to CNN, the?5-year-old, 350-pound?killer was one of the victim's favorites.

Captive lions tend to act on their wild instincts whenever potential prey catches their eyes. A pair of videos titled "lion tries to eat baby" have attracted in total more than 7.6 millions views on YouTube since they were uploaded last April. The clips show an Oregon Zoo lioness snarling and baring her fangs in vain at a happily oblivious toddler protected by reinforced glass.

"Most of the time they seem relaxed and cuddly?so it's easy to forget that they react to meat with the reflexive instincts of a shark." Professor Craig Packer, a leading big cat expert at the University of Minnesota, noted in a recent interview with National Geographic News.?"Ten years ago Roy Horne (of Siegfried ?and Roy) was attacked by a tiger that they had handled for years?these attacks happen when people forget about the shark inside."

Early this month, The Monitor's Gloria Goodale interviewed Zara McDonald, executive director of the Bay Area Felidae?Conservation Fund?regarding the death of the Seattle woman.?

?Cats are predators,? said McDonald.?"I don?t care how tame anyone thinks one might be, they are always a wild animal with the ability to hurt humans.?


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Friday, March 29, 2013

Fancy Hands Now Has An iPhone App, So You Can Book A Personal Assistant Anytime

Fancy Hands logoSometimes the smallest, most mundane tasks are the things you really dread -- and put off for weeks. Like booking an oil change for your car, or finding a nice play for an anniversary date and buying tickets, or finding a good dentist in a new city and scheduling an appointment. It's stuff that any patient person with internet access and a cell phone can do, but takes up just enough time and mental energy that it can be a huge drag. That's why wealthy people have personal assistants. And lately, that's why I've been using Fancy Hands.


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S&P 500 closes at a record high, beating '07 mark

NEW YORK (AP) ? For the second time in less than a month, the stock market marched past another milepost on its long, turbulent journey back from the Great Recession, toppling another record left over from the days before government bailouts and failing investment banks.

The Standard & Poor's 500 closed at a new high Thursday, three weeks after another popular market gauge, the Dow Jones industrial average, obliterated its own closing record. The S&P capped its best quarter in a year, rising 10 percent, and the Dow had its best first quarter in 15 years, climbing 11 percent.

The numbers offer more evidence that investors believe the economy is on the mend, said Sam Stovall, chief equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ.

"The low-flying recovery is gaining altitude," Stovall said, citing a truism among investors that rising stock prices come first, then the economy catches up.

Thursday's performance was driven by encouraging economic data. Companies are making record profits quarter after quarter. They're hiring in greater numbers, and the housing market is finally recovering. The economy has expanded for 14 quarters in a row.

The Fed has helped, too. By keeping interest rates near record lows, the central bank has encouraged people to move money out of savings accounts that pay next to nothing and into stocks and other investments.

Investors warned clients not to get overly excited.

"Getting back to where we were is an important step," said Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices. But he cautioned in a note to investors: "Markets are volatile, and if you are a long-term investor you should expect declines."

On Thursday, the S&P 500 rose 6.34 points, or 0.41 percent, to 1,569.19, beating by four points its previous record of 1,565.15 set on Oct. 9, 2007. The index is still shy of its all-time trading high of 1,576.09.

The index has now recovered all of its losses from the recession and the financial crisis that followed. Investors who put their dividends back into the market have done even better. A $10,000 investment in the S&P back in October 2007 would be worth $11,270.

On any other day, a market gain of six points would go unheralded but not after the turmoil that began in late 2008 and persisted through a slow, sometimes stalled recovery.

The S&P 500 is a barometer that gauges market performance. And while professional investors might scoff at using it to decide when to buy and sell, the breaking of an old record can be psychologically important.

However, many obstacles still loom.

The U.S. economy is stable, but growth is anemic. Unemployment is 7.7 percent, versus 4.7 percent, the last time the S&P notched a record. The European debt crisis is far from resolved. And some investors are concerned that the market's gains are being fueled by the Federal Reserve's easy money policy and will disappear once the Fed reverses course.

The crisis of the moment is Cyprus, the Mediterranean island country that struggled this week to get an emergency bailout. For many investors, the bailout deal was a reminder of Europe's lingering economic problems. Elsewhere, Italy failed to set up a new government this week, raising fears that the country will be unable to manage its deep debts.

On Thursday, U.S. economic news was mixed.

The U.S. economy grew faster than first estimated in the fourth quarter, the government reported. But the growth, an annual rate of 0.4 percent, was still weak. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits jumped for the second straight week. Longer-term, though, applications for benefits have been declining since November.

In Europe, Cyprus reopened its banks after closing them for nearly two weeks to keep depositors from making panicked withdrawals. Portugal reported that its budget deficit was widening.

"If you're a bull or a bear, you could find enough news out there to convince you of your position," said Jim Lauder, CEO of Global Index Advisors in Marietta, Ga., and co-portfolio manager on Wells Fargo Advantage Dow Jones Target Date Funds.

Brian Singer, partner at William Blair in Chicago, said the market's gains Thursday were more about a lack of any major negative developments than the appearance of any good ones.

"We are looking at a realization that Western civilization is not ending as we know it," Singer said. "Fiscal discussions in the U.S. have settled into an acceptable stalemate. The Italian elections that did not result in a government are on hold. Cyprus hasn't sunk into the Mediterranean."

Thursday marked the end of the first quarter, since markets are closed for Good Friday. Overall, it was a strong quarter.

The Dow climbed for the first 10 trading days of March ? a record not matched in more than 16 years. In the past 10 days, though, it has wavered under the weight of Cyprus.

The Dow rose 11 percent in the first three months of the year, its best quarterly performance since the fourth quarter of 2011. Last year, it lost ground in two quarters and was up by smaller amounts ? 4 percent and 8 percent ? in the other two. On March 5, it beat its own all-time record of 14,164.53, which was also set on Oct. 9, 2007, and has been climbing ever since.

To be sure, the S&P 500's last record was followed by a painful downfall. By March 2009, long after the subprime mortgage market had been revealed as an unsustainable bubble, the S&P had cratered from its lofty heights. On March 9, 2009, it fell to its Great Recession low of 676.53 ? down 57 percent from its October 2007 pinnacle.

With Thursday's gains, it has climbed 132 percent since reaching the bottom. Including dividends, it is up more than 150 percent.


Associated Press Business Writer Matt Craft in New York contributed to this report.


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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Power Play International, a Leading Social Media Marketing and ...

Power Play International, a Social Media Marketing and Website Design Agency, today released its enhanced web services.

New York, Melville (PRWEB) March 26, 2013

Power Play International, a Long Island Web Design Company as well as a leading Internet marketing company headquartered in Melville, New York, today released its increased web services roll. The list is critical to companies seeking to update their online business existence, manage their on-line standing as well as for those ?small businesses just starting out.?

?The Internet Market is competitive on an international scale,? notes Dean Spinato, President and Director of Business Development, Power Play International, Inc. ?Even successful web businesses need to update to keep up with ever-changing search engine algorithms, search engine optimization is constantly shifting?all businesses must be prepared for Google Penguin. With the latest Google Penguin algorithm update, designed to weed out Internet pollution and junk, Google is getting more particular about how sites are judged on quality,? Mr. Spinato states. However, it is important to understand what businesses need, then choose a firm that can meet if not exceed your expectations. Tendencies that have become essential include: custom content development, social media extensions, applicable web design, media experience and cellular sites. The key is finding a good price for a clients business that will be best served by a job.

The manner that Power Play International reacts to their client?s needs to keep up and grow their businesses. PPI will work with the client to develop a branded web design that will best meet your business goals. Power Play International will complete and collaborate a comprehensive intake form to identify their needs. As a guide making use of this, NYC Web Design team will create a design and execution strategy that accomplishes the companies vision. This will be an interactional process that results in a unique site and on-line engine that will forever improve the companies brand.

About Power Play International:

Power Play International is a gifted, seasoned team of web development professionals. Long Island Web Design?s customer list includes members of the sports world, attorneys, financial consultants, music business professionals and many cable TV news guests.

Based in New York City NYC Web Design, Power Play International is well prepared to manage a variety of Internet service needs, from helping a newly created business get on the Web, to creating impressive sites for individuals without a Web presence as well as redesigning existing websites with modern design trends and an easy to use content management system. Power Play International will provide the VIP treatment the customer deserves.

Here at Power Play international, the main goal is to strive on giving the chance for company and individuals to grow with the internet. Power Play International is very excited about the new inventions developed for creating the next generation of interactive websites and how it can be tailor-made to match your needs.

For the original version

Article source:


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Mar 26 (Reuters) - Leading money winners on the 2013 PGATour on Monday (U.S. unless stated): 1. Tiger Woods $3,787,600 2. Brandt Snedeker $2,859,920 3. Matt Kuchar $2,154,500 4. Steve Stricker $1,820,000 5. Phil Mickelson $1,650,260 6. Hunter Mahan $1,553,965 7. John Merrick $1,343,514 8. Dustin Johnson $1,330,507 9. Russell Henley $1,313,280 10. Kevin Streelman $1,310,343 11. Keegan Bradley $1,274,593 12. Charles Howell III $1,256,373 13. Michael Thompson $1,254,669 14. Brian Gay $1,171,721 15. Justin Rose $1,155,550 16. Jason Day $1,115,565 17. Chris Kirk $1,097,053 18. ...


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BRICS Leaders Optimistic About New Development Bank (Voice Of America)

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bally technologies' laura olson-reyes named a 2012 ?great women ...



LAS VEGAS, March 27, 2013 ?Bally Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: BYI), a leader in slots, video machines, casino-management, interactive applications, and networked and server-based systems for the global gaming industry, today announced that Senior Director of Corporate Marketing and Communications Laura Olson-Reyes earned a 2012 Great Women of Gaming ?Proven Leader? award.

Bally Technologies Senior Director of Corporate Marketing and Communications Laura Olson-Reyes

The annual awards, presented by Casino Enterprise Management magazine, honor the brightest women in the gaming industry from around the world. The ?Proven Leader? category honors leaders who have worked in the gaming industry for a minimum of 10 years.

?I appreciate the confidence and support of my company for nominating me for this distinguished honor,? Olson-Reyes said. ?The Bally leadership team provides many opportunities for women to learn, enjoy challenging work, and advance into levels of greater responsibility ? and for that I am extremely grateful.?

Winners of the award were recognized for demonstrating exceptional achievement in at least three of five areas: Ability to go above and beyond job responsibilities; commitment to company and co-workers; contributions to the industry as a whole; commitment to mentoring; and strong overall life balance.

?Laura shows her professional strengths daily, mentors employees internally, and has the creativity and ability to see beyond the moment,? said Vice President of Corporate Marketing Dan Savage. ?The professionalism and passion Laura demonstrates for her work is also felt in her community. She was instrumental in forging a partnership between Bally and the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation.?

Olson-Reyes joined Bally Technologies in 2007 as Director of Corporate Communications and was promoted to Senior Director, Corporate Marketing & Communications in 2012. She has more than 20 years of gaming experience.

In addition to director-level roles with non-gaming companies and ACCEPTx, Olson-Reyes served nearly five years with Aristocrat Technologies, Inc. as Senior Manager ? Communications, and eight years as Corporate Communications Manager at Anchor Gaming and its Powerhouse Technologies subsidiaries Automated Wagering International, Inc. (AWI), Video Lottery Consultants (VLC), and United Tote Company.

Olson-Reyes also has experience working in Marketing for casino operators Harrah?s Entertainment (now Caesars Entertainment) and Stratosphere Hotel Casino & Tower. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Print Journalism from the University of Montana.

An in-depth article featuring profiles of this year?s award winners will be featured in the May 2013 issue of Casino Enterprise Management magazine. The winners will also receive a prestigious crystal Great Women of Gaming Award and the chance to be featured on a CEM Audio Edge talk radio show. For more information about the Great Women of Gaming Awards, visit

About Bally Technologies, Inc. With a history dating back to 1932, Las Vegas-based Bally Technologies designs, manufactures, operates, and distributes advanced gaming devices, systems and technology solutions worldwide. Bally?s product line includes reel-spinning slot machines, video slots, wide-area progressives, interactive and mobile applications, and Class II, lottery, and central-determination games and platforms. Bally also offers an array of casino management, slot accounting, bonusing, cashless and table management solutions. For more information, please contact Laura Olson-Reyes, Senior Director, Marketing & Corporate Communications, at 702-584-7742, or visit Connect with Bally on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.


I have extensive knowledge and experience of Gaming operations as well as European and International organisations involved in manufacturer and supply of gaming equipment, systems & services.


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Dairy Finds Way to Let Cows Power Trucks

[unable to retrieve full-text content]An Indiana farm is turning the manure from its cows into fuel for its fleet of 42 delivery trucks, an endeavor that is being called a ?pacesetter? for the dairy industry.


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Morocco: Mohammed Amine Bouabdali, a young engineer between ...

By Youssef El Kaidi

Morocco World News

Fez, March 28, 2013

Everybody in life is subject to the unexpected and abrupt vicissitudes of life but we usually tend to evade thinking about the transience of what we have so that we can live happily and indifferently! A wise Arabic proverb says: ?Health is a crown?on the head of the healthy that only the sick can see.? It?s so true! This crown, sadly, has been ripped of Mohammed Amine Boubdali?s head who counts his days in the Hospital Ibn Sinaa in Rabat, connected to a set of wires and devices that replace the function of his frail heart.

Mohammed Amine, a 25 years old young man, like most people in his age, was full of energy, ambition and determination to make of his life the best he can until he was surprised at the middle of his educational and professional success by this illness that tie him permanently to his bed in the hospital. He left France in 2011 after graduating from the Belfour Institute of Technology as an engineer. Now he wishes to be back in France not to continue his studies but for a heart transplant- an operation which is not yet possible in Morocco.

The widow mother has nothing to afford but her wholehearted supplications to God to help her son recover again. The cost of transportation of Mohammed Amine from Morocco to France aboard a special plane that should be equipped with the same devices he uses in the hospital and the heart transplant will amount to 3 million dirhams ($350,000).

? The amount of money needed for the transportation and the operation seems impossible to afford for his family. The more days Mohammed spends on his bed in Rabat, the more his mother and family get anxious and pessimistic about his life. The mere act of electricity going off can end his life!

Mohammed Amine Bouabdali has been in the hospital of Rabat for three weeks so far and in need of an urgent medical operation that excessively expensive. His mother calls on philanthropists to give and wishes the intervention of anyone who could make this operation possible.

On Giving

You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.


There are those who give little
of the much which they have-
and they give it
for recognition and their hidden desire
makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life,
and their coffer is never empty.


You often say,?I would give, but only to the deserving.?
The trees in your orchard say not so,
nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live,
for to with-hold is to perish.

On Giving: excerpt from ?The Prophet? by Kahlil Gibran

For anyone wanting to contact the mother, this is her phone number:



Her bank account:

Banque populaire

Alamal, Rabat





Code Swift



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Google Play movies now available in India and Mexico

Google Play movies now available in India and Mexico

Google Play's book collection opened up in India and Mexico just a few weeks ago, and now Mountain View's movie hoard is available in both countries on the web and through the content's Android app. It's no coincidence that the video service has gone live this week either -- we reckon that Page and Co. would love to see folks pair their new Nexus 7 slates with their favorite flicks. To get your mitts on the application, hit the second source link below.

Update: In another update for Indian readers, Gmail is ready to support six Indic languages in featurephone browsers: Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu.

Filed under:


Source: Google Play (Google+), Google Play Movies & TV (Google Play), Gmail


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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Business as usual for Menendez amid investigations

(AP) ? Beyond the investigations, it's business as usual for Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez.

The new Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman presides over hearings on North Korea and counterterrorism, travels to Afghanistan and Pakistan and meets privately with foreign ministers and ambassadors.

The two-term New Jersey senator welcomes professors and students from Rutgers University and the state's National Council of Jewish Women.

As a Cuban-American, he works daily into the evening with seven other senators on a plan to overhaul the nation's immigration system. Participants say he hasn't missed a meeting.

Yet he is still enduring potentially career-ending investigations ? one by the Senate Ethics Committee, another reportedly by a federal grand jury in Miami ? into whether Menendez crossed the line and pushed the business interests of a friend and top donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen.

It's a cloud that hangs over the senator and Democrats, who wait in fear that a more damaging development or series of them might force Menendez to step down and give Gov. Chris Christie a chance to choose a fellow Republican to fill the seat.

Oddly, it was scandal that led to Menendez' appointment to the Senate in January 2006. New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey resigned in August 2004 after admitting to an extramarital affair with a man. Sen. Jon Corzine won the governorship in November 2005, and after he took over for acting Gov. Richard Codey, appointed Menendez as his replacement in the Senate.

For now, Menendez insists he acted appropriately and will be cleared by any review.

In a separate turn of events, police in the Dominican Republic said three women were paid to falsely claim in videotaped interviews last year that they had sex for money with Menendez. That prompted Menendez' office to demand that U.S. authorities investigate what they called a "smear campaign" based on lies. The interviews first surfaced on a conservative website just before Menendez's re-election last November.

In a brief interview last week, Menendez dismissed the notion that the investigations and the external distractions have affected his work.

"I haven't missed a beat," he said defiantly, ticking off the hearings he's overseen, meetings on immigration and work on bipartisan legislation. "Nothing has impeded my ability to have an impact on what I care about."

Menendez, 59, has always been considered a loner in the clubby Senate, but Democrats and Republicans who have worked closely with him on foreign policy and, in recent weeks, on immigration say he has displayed a singular focus amid the investigations.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., shares Menendez's Cuban roots, serves with him on Foreign Relations and joins him in the "Gang of Eight" negotiations on immigration.

Menendez, according to Rubio, hasn't lost a bit of his edge.

"He's actively engaged in the Gang of Eight," Rubio said. "He's actively engaged on the Foreign Relations Committee."

Rubio said he has a good working relationship with Menendez that dates to their time together as members of the Foreign Relations subcommittee on Western Hemisphere and global narcotics affairs.

"He's the same intense and focused Bob Menendez I've known in the two years I've been here," Rubio said. "The Bob Menendez I see today works just as hard, if not harder, than the one I saw the last year. There's very few people in this building that work as hard or as intensely as he does."

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has worked closely with Menendez on immigration as well as ensuring an aid package for victims of Superstorm Sandy, assistance vital to New York and New Jersey residents. With New Jersey's other senator, Frank Lautenberg, ailing, Menendez took on an outsized role in working on the aid.

Schumer said Menendez has been critical on immigration, adding that the investigations have not affected his work.

"All of us respect his integrity," Schumer said.

Menendez's Republican counterpart on the committee, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, said the investigations have not come up as a subject in conversations.

"I'm not close enough with him. I know him professionally. I don't know him in that way. It wouldn't be appropriate for me to even talk about it," said Corker, who described Menendez as focused despite the investigations.

"I've had no issues in dealing with him," he said.

Congress has its share of lawmakers who have been buffeted by scandal and ethics questions and soldiered on. Some even survived to serve several more terms.

Rep. Charles Rangel, the longtime New York Democrat censured by the House for ethics violations, was re-elected last year. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., was easily re-elected in 2010, three years after his telephone number appeared in the records of a Washington-area escort service that authorities said was a front for prostitution.

In 1991, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was one of the Keating Five ? five senators faulted for trying to get regulators to ease up on disgraced financier Charles Keating. The Senate Ethics Committee cited McCain's "poor judgment," delivering harsher criticism to the other four senators.

Menendez, for his part, is planning for the Obama administration's budget for the State Department and foreign operations as well as presiding over the hearing in which his predecessor, Secretary of State John Kerry, will testify on the budget.


Associated Press writer Richard Lardner contributed to this report.

Associated Press


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Student loan write-offs hit $3 billion in first two months of year

By Elvina Nawaguna

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Banks wrote off $3 billion of student loan debt in the first two months of 2013, up more than 36 percent from the year-ago period, as many graduates remain jobless, underemployed or cash-strapped in a slow U.S. economic recovery, an Equifax study showed.

The credit reporting agency also said Monday that student lending has grown from last year because more people are going back to school and the cost of higher education has risen.

"Continued weakness in labor markets is limiting work options once people graduate or quit their programs, leading to a steady rise in delinquencies and loan write-offs," Equifax Chief Economist Amy Crews Cutts said in a statement.

Equifax analyzes data from more than 500 million consumers to track financial trends.

U.S. student loan debt reform has become a more pressing issue since the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reported in March 2012 that the total surpassed $1 trillion by the end of 2011 and as interest rates on subsidized Stafford loan rates are set to double in July.

The cost of earning a 4-year undergraduate degree has gone up by 5.2 percent per year in the last decade, according to the CFPB, forcing more students to take out loans. While other forms of debt went down, student loan debt continued to rise through the economic crisis.

Delinquencies have spiked in the last eight years, with about 17 percent of the nearly 40 million student loan borrowers at least 90 days past due on their repayments, a February report from the New York Federal Reserve Bank showed.

The CFPB, a federal consumer agency, is concerned that high student loan debt could affect the rest of the economy because it affects borrowers' credit and could limit their ability to make important purchases such as a home or car.

The CFPB is taking several steps to help reduce the student debt burden on borrowers, including finding ways to offer more flexible repayment options from private lenders and trying to exert more supervisory authority over non-bank student loan servicing companies.

Groups such as the New America Foundation, a nonprofit public policy institute, have said the current student loan repayment system is too complicated for borrowers, and that an income-based repayment system could simplify the process. Some students, they say, simply don't know how to enroll in the different repayment options or put repayment off to take care of more urgent bills such as credit cards and rent.

(Reporting by Elvina Nawaguna; Editing by Richard Chang)


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Trees used to create recyclable, efficient solar cell

Mar. 26, 2013 ? Solar cells are just like leaves, capturing the sunlight and turning it into energy. It's fitting that they can now be made partially from trees.

Georgia Institute of Technology and Purdue University researchers have developed efficient solar cells using natural substrates derived from plants such as trees. Just as importantly, by fabricating them on cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) substrates, the solar cells can be quickly recycled in water at the end of their lifecycle.

The technology is published in the journal Scientific Reports, the latest open-access journal from the Nature Publishing Group.

The researchers report that the organic solar cells reach a power conversion efficiency of 2.7 percent, an unprecedented figure for cells on substrates derived from renewable raw materials. The CNC substrates on which the solar cells are fabricated are optically transparent, enabling light to pass through them before being absorbed by a very thin layer of an organic semiconductor. During the recycling process, the solar cells are simply immersed in water at room temperature. Within only minutes, the CNC substrate dissolves and the solar cell can be separated easily into its major components.

Georgia Tech College of Engineering Professor Bernard Kippelen led the study and says his team's project opens the door for a truly recyclable, sustainable and renewable solar cell technology.

"The development and performance of organic substrates in solar technology continues to improve, providing engineers with a good indication of future applications," said Kippelen, who is also the director of Georgia Tech's Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics (COPE). "But organic solar cells must be recyclable. Otherwise we are simply solving one problem, less dependence on fossil fuels, while creating another, a technology that produces energy from renewable sources but is not disposable at the end of its lifecycle."

To date, organic solar cells have been typically fabricated on glass or plastic. Neither is easily recyclable, and petroleum-based substrates are not very eco-friendly. For instance, if cells fabricated on glass were to break during manufacturing or installation, the useless materials would be difficult to dispose of. Paper substrates are better for the environment, but have shown limited performance because of high surface roughness or porosity. However, cellulose nanomaterials made from wood are green, renewable and sustainable. The substrates have a low surface roughness of only about two nanometers.

"Our next steps will be to work toward improving the power conversion efficiency over 10 percent, levels similar to solar cells fabricated on glass or petroleum-based substrates," said Kippelen. The group plans to achieve this by optimizing the optical properties of the solar cell's electrode.

Purdue School of Materials Engineering associate professor Jeffrey Youngblood collaborated with Kippelen on the research.

A provisional patent on the technology has been filed with the U.S. Patent Office.

There's also another positive impact of using natural products to create cellulose nanomaterials. The nation's forest product industry projects that tens of millions of tons of them could be produced once large-scale production begins, potentially in the next five years.

The research is the latest project by COPE, which studies the use and development of printed electronics. Last year the center created the first-ever completely plastic solar cell.

This research was funded in part through the Center for Interface Science: Solar Electric Materials, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Award Number DE-SC0001084 (Y.Z., J.S., C.F., A.D.), by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (Grant No. FA9550-09-1-0418) (J. H.), by the Office of Naval Research (Grant No. N00014-04-1-0313) (T.K., B.K.), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture -Forest Service (Grant No. 12-JV-11111122-098). Funding for CNC substrate processing was provided by USDA-Forest Service (Grant No. 11-JV-11111129-118) (R.J.M., J.P.Y., J.L.). The authors thank Rick Reiner and Alan Rudie from the U.S. Forest Service- Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) for providing CNC materials.

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Georgia Institute of Technology.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. Yinhua Zhou, Canek Fuentes-Hernandez, Talha M. Khan, Jen-Chieh Liu, James Hsu, Jae Won Shim, Amir Dindar, Jeffrey P. Youngblood, Robert J. Moon, Bernard Kippelen. Recyclable organic solar cells on cellulose nanocrystal substrates. Scientific Reports, 2013; 3 DOI: 10.1038/srep01536

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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Researchers attach Lyme disease antibodies to nanotubes, paving way for diagnostic device

Mar. 26, 2013 ? Early diagnosis is critical in treating Lyme disease. However, nearly one quarter of Lyme disease patients are initially misdiagnosed because currently available serological tests have poor sensitivity and specificity during the early stages of infection. Misdiagnosed patients may go untreated and thus progress to late-stage Lyme disease, where they face longer and more invasive treatments, as well as persistent symptoms.

Existing tests assess the presence of antibodies against bacterial proteins, which take weeks to form after the initial infection and persist after the infection is gone. Now, a nanotechnology-inspired technique developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania may lead to diagnostics that can detect the organism itself.

The study was led by professor A. T. Charlie Johnson of the Department of Physics and Astronomy in Penn's School of Arts and Sciences along with graduate student Mitchell Lerner, undergraduate researcher Jennifer Dailey and postdoctoral fellow Brett R. Goldsmith, all of Physics. They collaborated with Dustin Brisson, an assistant professor of biology who provided the team with expertise on the bacterium.

Their research was published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.

"When you're initially infected with the Lyme disease bacterium, you don't develop antibodies for many days to a few weeks," Johnson said. "Many people see their physician before antibodies develop, leading to negative serological test results. And after an initial infection, you're still going to have these antibodies, so using these serological diagnostics won't make it clear if you're still infected or not after you've been treated with antibiotics."

The research team's idea was to flip the process around, using laboratory-produced antibodies to detect the presence of proteins from the organism. This is an extension of previous work Johnson's lab has done connecting other biological structures, such as olfactory receptors and DNA, to carbon nanotube-based devices.

Carbon nanotubes, rolled-up lattices of carbon atoms, are highly conductive and sensitive to electrical charge, making them promising components of nanoscale electronic devices. By attaching different biological structures to the exteriors of the nanotubes, they can function as highly specific biosensors. When the attached structure binds to a molecule, that molecule's charge can affect the electrical conduction of the nanotube, which can be part of an electrical circuit like a wire. Such a device can therefore provide an electronic read-out of the presence, or even concentration, of a particular molecule.

To get the electrical signal out of these nanotubes, the team first turned them into transistor devices.

"We first grow these nanotubes on what amounts to a large chip using a vapor deposition method, then make electrical connections essentially at random," Johnson said. "We then break up the chip and test all of the individual nanotube transistors to see which work the best."

In their recent experiment, Johnson's team attached antibodies that naturally develop in most animals that are infected with the Lyme disease bacterium to these nanotube transistors. These antibodies naturally bind to an antigen, in this case, a protein in the Lyme bacterium, as part of the body's immune response.

"We have a chemical process that lets us connect any protein to carbon nanotubes. Nanotubes are very stable, so we have a very reactive compound that binds to the nanotube and also has a carboxylic acid group on the other end. For biochemists, getting any kind of protein to bind to a carboxylic acid group is just child's play at this point, and we have worked with them to learn how to perform this chemistry on the side wall of nanotubes. "

After using atomic-force microscopy to show that antibodies had indeed bound to the exteriors of their nanotube transistors, the researchers tested them electrically to get a baseline reading. They then put the nanotubes in solutions that contained different concentrations of the target Lyme bacteria protein.

"When we wash away the solution and test the nanotube transistors again, the change in what we measure tells us that how much of the antigen has bound," Johnson said. "And we see the relationship we expect to see, in that the more antigen there was in the solution, the bigger the change in the signal."

The smallest concentration the nanotube devices could detect was four nanograms of protein per milliliter of solution.

"This sensitivity is more than sufficient to detect the Lyme disease bacterium in the blood of recently-infected patients and may be sufficient to detect the bacterium in fluids of patients that have received inadequate treatment," Brisson said.

"We really want the protein we are looking to detect to bind as close to the nanotube as possible, as that is what increases the strength of the electrical signal," Johnson said. "Developing a smaller, minimal version of the antibody -- what we call a single chain variable fragment -- would be a next step.

"Based on our previous work with single chain variable fragments of other antibodies, this would probably make such a device about a thousand times more sensitive."

The researchers suggested that, given the flexibility of their technique for attaching different biological structure, eventual diagnostic tools could incorporate multiple antibodies, each detecting a different protein from the Lyme bacterium. Such a setup would improve accuracy and cut down on the possibility of false-positive diagnoses.

"If we were to do this type of test on a person's blood now, however, we would say the person has the disease," Johnson said. "The first thought is that if you detect any protein coming from the Lyme organism in your blood, you are infected and should get treatment right away."

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Story Source:

The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Pennsylvania.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. Mitchell B. Lerner, Jennifer Dailey, Brett R. Goldsmith, Dustin Brisson, A.T. Charlie Johnson. Detecting Lyme disease using antibody-functionalized single-walled carbon nanotube transistors. Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 2013; 45: 163 DOI: 10.1016/j.bios.2013.01.035

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.


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