The Daily brief: September 8, 2011

Sept. 8, 2011, 5:00 p.m.

Records breach | Stanford Hospital confirmed that extensive information about 20,000 emergency room patients were posted on a commercial website since Sept. 9 last year. The breach was discovered last month, and the hospital is investigating how the information, which was on a spreadsheet handled by the billing contractor Multi-Specialty Collection Services, made it onto the paid homework help website Student of Fortune. The information posted included names, diagnosis codes, account numbers, admission and discharge dates, and billing charges for emergency room patients seen during a six-month period of time in 2009.

Materialize | Researchers at the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Science, led by applied physics professor Kathryn Moler, have made a discovery that could lead to a new class of materials with properties that make them useful in the development of new types of computer memory. The team sandwiched together two nonmagnetic insulators and discovered that the layer where they touch shows both magnetic and superconducting regions, which typically do not coexist. The next step is finding whether the coexistence of superconductivity and magnetism is shaky or if the discovery truly indicates a new material.

Mary Jane | A ballot initiative proposing an ordinance that would legalize marijuana in the Palo Alto city limits heads to the City Council for approval. If the council does not adopt the ordinance, the measure would go to voters either in June or November 2012. Should the measure pass either way, it would allow three dispensaries to set up shop in Palo Alto.

Overheard | “The truth helps you improve. When people lose their jobs and there’s no acknowledgement, the potential for learning is lost.” — Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor of organizational behavior at the Graduate School of Business, speaking to The New York Times about a blunt email sent by former Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz to company employees after she was fired by the Board of Directors.

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