Scientific discoveries this week: 1/27/14

Pro-EU integration protests escalated into open conflict between protesters and riot police in Kiev as it did early in last December following the passing of laws to punish and discourage protesting in response to the movement in Ukraine. Riot police, while not authorized to use live ammunition, have been photographed using molotov cocktails and improvised fragmentation grenades to disperse protesters. While dialogue has opened between government officials and opposition leaders, there is skepticism whether anything useful will come from the talks.

The Rosetta probe was reactivated last Monday after three years of hibernation and ten years since launch. The purpose of the European Space Agency probe is to catch up to a comet and attach itself with a harpoon. This will allow for the study of the comet’s composition as the comet revolves around the sun. The Rosetta probe was placed in hibernation in 2011 when it become too far away from the Sun to receive sufficient power.

For the first time since 2002, the Jamaican bobsleigh steam has qualified to compete in the Winter Olympics. The two man team consists of Marvin Dixon and Winston Watt who had been on the 2002 team. However, even after Watt put up some of his own money, the team does not have the funds available to attend training and compete and have turned to online donations. Twenty-six million Dogecoin ($25000 USD) have been raised by fans of the 1993 film Cool Runnings. Dogecoin is a cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoin based on the Doge internet meme.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department is working on rolling out legislation that would allow banks to do business with places that sell marijuana in states where it is legal. As of now, federally insured banks are unable to do this without facing racketeering charges and businesses where marijuana is sold are only able to take cash and are forced to hold on it, making them targets for violent crime. Congressman Ed Perlmutter, who represents Colorado’s 7th district and resides in Golden, urged the Justice Department to do this in July 2013 by bringing forth a bill that would grant exemptions for banks in states where marijuana has been legalized, however, this bill never received a hearing.

Two Yale students created a Chrome extension for course ranking after a lengthy battle with the school over other course ranking websites. The two students built these other websites and Yale considered them to be copyright infringement over using a datatable on a non-Yale site. The extension, instead of being a place online with a modified course list and information, modifies the datatable of courses by adding average ratings, courseload, and the functionality to sort by those metrics.

The small town of Olds in Alberta, Canada has started its own internet service provider. After receiving a $2.5 million grant from the province as well as a $6 million loan, the broadband infrastructure was able to be constructed. The Olds Institute plan for a community based ISP will be roughly $54 to $90 each month, depending on bundled plans, for gigabit per second internet speeds.

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