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The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS), a distributed computing project, has probably found a new record prime number. Two verification runs have started; no errors were found in the initial calculation. The number of primes found lately, four in just over two years, is higher than previously expected. This prime is just under 10 million digits, which means that one of the participants in the project makes a good chance to obtain his or her part of the EFF prize of $100,000 for the first prime of over 10 million digits in the coming months.
Brad Arens believes an experimental gene therapy has offered him a miracle this holiday season: some relief from the steady march of Parkinson's. Arens is one of the first people to get the unproven treatment, in which researchers use a viral shell to deliver a protective gene to brain tissue affected by Parkinson's.
The 52-year-old chiropractor from Vista, Calif., thinks the treatment has helped ease some of the symptoms of his disease.
"I used to have a shuffling gait," he says. "Now there are times that I can walk almost normally."
Scientists analyzed the portrait of the Mona Lisa, a woman with famously mixed emotions, hoping to unlock her smile. They applied emotion recognition software that measures a person's mood by examining features such as the curve of the lips and the crinkles around the eyes.
The findings? Mona Lisa was 83 percent happy, 9 percent disgusted, 6 percent fearful, and 2 percent angry, according to the British weekly "New Scientist."
Still, scientists will probably never know what made her feel the way she did.
A large object has been found beyond Pluto travelling in an orbit tilted by 47 degrees to most other bodies in the solar system. Astronomers are at a loss to explain why the object's orbit is so off-kilter while being almost circular.
Researchers led by Lynne Allen at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, first spotted the object in observations made with the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope in December 2004. Since October 2005, they have made follow-up observations that have revealed the object's perplexing path.
An agreement with British airline tycoon Richard Branson will put New Mexico on the map as the launch pad for personal space flight worldwide, the state's economic development secretary says.
State officials plan to announce a major agreement next week with Branson, but Economic Development Secretary Rick Homans on Tuesday would not discuss details.
Branson is to join Gov. Bill Richardson on Dec. 14 to announce the agreement with Branson's space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, Homans said.