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Rewards backfire in online commerce

The offer of a reward may help police track down a suspect or lead to the return of a lost wedding ring, but it won’t get Internet users to give out personal information, a University of Florida study shows. People are actually less likely to type their name, address and other personal information into a Web site for a reward because they tend to regard the offer as suspicious, according to the study, which appears in the 2002 Advances in Consumer Research.

An unlikely new weapon against deadly bacteria in oysers: A virus

People looking forward to eating raw oysters over the holidays will welcome news that scientists are making progress in the fight against a rare but deadly disease associated with the tasty bivalves. Two Florida researchers report curing mice of the disease by using a virus to attack its bacterial source – Vibrio vulnificus. The scientists say the research may lead to techniques to purify oysters after harvest but before they reach raw bars and seafood markets – and might one day result in a better cure for the disease in people. The work, reported in a November article in the journal Infection and Immunity, is part of a growing trend in research to use bacteria-attacking viruses, or “phages,” to cure diseases caused by bacteria.

Against all odds, researchers find new superconductor in plutonium

Scientists have discovered superconductivity in a most unlikely place: the highly radioactive element used to make nuclear weapons. In an article set to appear Thursday in the journal Nature, a group of researchers, including a University of Florida physicist, report discovering a plutonium-based electrical superconductor. The finding is significant because plutonium, the active ingredient in atomic bombs, has physical properties that should prevent it from behaving as a superconductor – suggesting current theories about this phenomenon may not apply to this element.