Yum, the newest flavor treat glows in the dark!

Late last month, as a definitely unique way of celebrating Hallowe’en, Bristol-based specialty ice cream-maker Charlie Harry Francis unveiled what is probably the world’s first-ever glow-in-the-dark ice cream. His secret ingredient? Jellyfish protein.

The ice cream had actually been in the works for several months, ever since Francis and his team discovered that “this amazing scientist from China” had synthesized the luminescence protein from jellyfish.They ordered some, and made ice cream with it.

The protein is reportedly activated by the calcium in the ice cream, and it luminesces when agitated – this means that it glows when you lick it. Francis has tried it, and while there’s no word on the flavor, he has stated that he doesn’t seem to be glowing anywhere, so he assumes it’s safe to eat.

What it isn’t, however, is cheap. Due to the cost of the synthetic protein, he figures that each scoop of the ice cream is worth about £140. Although he hasn’t stated whether or not he plans on making it commercially, it’s probably safe to assume that this is a one-off experiment.

Mail me a penny postcard when the price – even for a trick-or-treat special – gets down to something close to affordable. I look forward to giving it a try.

Do you want the bad news or the good news first?

There’s good news and there’s bad news. Which do you want to hear first?

That depends on whether you are the giver or receiver of bad news, and if the news-giver wants the receiver to act on the information, according to researchers at the University of California, Riverside…It’s complicated.

The process of giving or getting bad news is difficult for most people, particularly when news-givers feel unsure about how to proceed with the conversation, psychologists Angela M. Legg and Kate Sweeny wrote…“The difficulty of delivering bad news has inspired extensive popular media articles that prescribe ‘best’ practices for giving bad news, but these prescriptions remain largely anecdotal rather than empirically based,” said Legg, who completed her Ph.D. in psychology in October, and Sweeny, assistant professor of psychology.

In a series of experiments, the psychologists found that recipients of bad news overwhelmingly want to hear that bad news first, while news-givers prefer to deliver good news first. If news-givers can put themselves in the recipient’s shoes, or if they’re pushed to consider how to make the recipient feel better, then they might be willing to give news like recipients want them to. Otherwise, a mismatch is almost inevitable.But that’s not the whole story. The researchers also determined that where good news is introduced in a conversation can influence the recipient’s decision to act or change his or her behavior…

Hiding bad news won’t be really effective if the desire is to change somebody’s behavior, such as encouraging them to get a prescription filled or lab work done, said Legg, the paper’s lead author…

“Doctors must give good and bad health news to patients, teachers must give good and bad academic news to students, and romantic partners may at times give good and bad relationship news to each other,” they wrote. “Our findings suggest that the doctors, teachers and partners in these examples might do a poor job of giving good and bad news because they forget for a moment how they want to hear the news when they are the patients, students, and spouses, respectively. News-givers attempt to delay the unpleasant experience of giving bad news by leading with good news while recipients grow anxious knowing that the bad news is yet to come. This tension can erode communication and result in poor outcomes for both news-recipients and news-givers.”

Or you can make the decision common to the media moguls who own most of the mainstream newscasts. Try to turn everything into entertainment and leave the average consumer as ignorant as they were beforehand.

Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $2.2 billion settlement

Pharma company Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay over $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil allegations in the US that it promoted powerful psychiatric drugs for unapproved uses in children, seniors and disabled patients.

The allegations include paying kickbacks to doctors and pharmacies to recommend and prescribe Risperdal and Invega, both anti-psychotic drugs, and Natrecor, which is used to treat heart failure…

The figure includes $1.72 billion in civil settlements with federal and state governments as well as $485 million in criminal fines and forfeited profits.

The agreement is the third-largest US settlement involving a drug-maker, and the latest in a string of legal actions against drug companies allegedly putting profits ahead of patients.

These companies lined their pockets at the expense of American taxpayers, patients and the private insurance industry,” said Attorney General Eric Holder, at a news conference…

“Every time pharmaceutical companies engage in this type of conduct, they corrupt medical decisions by health care providers, jeopardise the public health and take money out of taxpayers’ pockets,” the Attorney General said…

In a separate civil complaint, the government alleges Janssen Pharmaceuticals also promoted the drug as a way to control behavioural problems in children and mentally disabled.

The drugmaker allegedly downplayed Risperdal’s side effects while also paying kickbacks to the nation’s largest long-term care pharmacy to recommend the drug to prescribers.

Please, please – in addition to the cash settlement, throw the creeps in jail who made the decision to pursue criminal fraud to maximize profits. That is the polite definition of corporate theft, right?

Geek bought $27 of bitcoins – forgot about ’em – now worth $886K

The meteoric rise in bitcoin has meant that within the space of four years, one Norwegian man’s $27 investment turned into a forgotten $886,000 windfall.

Kristoffer Koch invested 150 kroner ($26.60) in 5,000 bitcoins in 2009, after discovering them during the course of writing a thesis on encryption. He promptly forgot about them until widespread media coverage of the anonymous, decentralised, peer-to-peer digital currency in April 2013 jogged his memory.

Bitcoins are stored in encrypted wallets secured with a private key, something Koch had forgotten. After eventually working out what the password could be, Koch got a pleasant surprise:

“It said I had 5,000 bitcoins in there. Measuring that in today’s rates it’s about $886,000,” Koch told NRK.

Koch exchanged one fifth of his 5,000 bitcoins, generating enough kroner to buy an apartment in Toyen, one of the Norwegian capital’s wealthier areas.

RTFA if you’re interested in bitcoins as something more than a curiosity. What little I have invested in the stock market is scary enough. I don’t think they have stop loss orders in bitcoins.