Hand in the Cookie Jar

A Romanian national, Victor Faur, was indicted on charges of hacking into more than 150 U.S. government computers, causing disruptions that cost NASA, the Energy Department and the Navy nearly $1.5 million.

The federal indictment charges Faur with nine counts of computer intrusion and one count of conspiracy. If convicted of all counts, he faces as many as 54 years in prison, said a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office. -- First.org

Automated Lab

The University of Kansas Hospital opened a fully automated medical lab, increasing the level of safety, speed and accuracy of the 2.6 million blood tests the hospital performs each year.

The new lab uses bar-code technology, robotics and conveyer belts to transport each blood sample, contained in a test tube, to the appropriate testing instrument. This system uncaps and recaps each test tube, places it in a centrifuge, performs the test, stores the blood for additional testing, and evaluates and reports results, which the patient's physician can access immediately.

Before the lab was installed, a typical blood test could take one to three hours depending on staffing, backlog and the nature of the tests. Turnaround time for a typical eight-test panel is now 30 to 45 minutes from start to finish, no matter the time of day or night. -- The University of Kansas Hospital

Melting Away

The Arctic Ocean could become nearly devoid of ice during summertime as early as 2040, according to research published in the December 12 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

The study, by scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the University of Washington and McGill University, uses supercomputer scenarios to show that sea ice could shrink so abruptly each September that, within about 20 years, it may begin retreating four times faster than at any time in the observed record.

The team studied seven simulations run on the NCAR-based Community Climate System Model, a tool for studying climate change. The scientists first simulated fluctuations in ice cover since 1870, including a significant shrinkage of late-summer ice from 1979 to 2005. The simulations closely matched observations, a sign that the model was accurate.

The team then simulated future ice loss. In one model, the September ice shrank from about 2.3 million to 770,000 square miles in a 10-year period. By 2040, only a small amount of perennial sea ice remained along the north coasts of Greenland and Canada, while most of the Arctic basin was ice-free in September. -- University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Online Learning

The Internet is a research tool for 87 percent of online users. That translates to 128 million adults. -- Pew Internet & American Life Project

Power Shortage

Organizations are increasingly deploying more computing power, but by 2008, 50 percent of current data centers will have insufficient power and cooling capacity to meet the demands of high-density equipment, according to Gartner.

E-mail Enemies

The number of spam messages has tripled since June 2006, according to U.S. e-mail security company Postini, and now accounts for as many as nine out of 10 e-mails sent worldwide.

According to Gartner, phishing e-mails sent to U.S. adults nearly doubled from 2004 to 2006.

Phishing Fiasco

Following are the amounts of U.S. adult Internet users who have received a phishing e-mail, according to Gartner.

2004: 57 million

2006: 109 million

A Bounty of Spam

According to a recent study by ROI Research, the spam problem is getting worse. Based on the following chart, for example, 3 percent of U.S. Internet users receive zero pieces of spam in a typical week, but 20 percent receive

Jessica Jones, Contributing Writer  |  Contributing Writer