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Researchers Working On Crystallizing Light

Slashdot - Thu, 11/09/2014 - 20:54
An anonymous reader writes Researchers at Princeton University have begun crystallizing light as part of an effort to answer fundamental questions about the physics of matter. The researchers are not shining light through crystal – they are transforming light into crystal. As part of an effort to develop exotic materials such as room-temperature superconductors, the researchers have locked together photons, the basic element of light, so that they become fixed in place. "It's something that we have never seen before," said Andrew Houck, one of the researchers. "This is a new behavior for light."

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The Documents From Google's First DMV Test In Nevada

Slashdot - Thu, 11/09/2014 - 20:10
An anonymous reader writes "IEEE Spectrum contributor Mark Harris obtained a copy of the DMV test Google's autonomous car passed in Nevada in 2012 and associated documents. What has not been revealed until now, is that Google chose the test route; that it set limits on the road and weather conditions that the vehicle could encounter; and that its engineers had to take control of the car twice during the drive.

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China Targets 2022 For Space Station Completion

Slashdot - Thu, 11/09/2014 - 14:29
Taco Cowboy writes: According to Reuters, China is aiming for 2022 to get its first space station operational. "China's leaders have set a priority on advancing its space program, with President Xi Jinping calling for the country to establish itself as a space power." After Chinese astronauts docked with the country's experimental space lab last year, they're planning the launch of another laboratory in 2016. Launch and construction of the new space station's core is planned for 2018, and their goal is to complete it by 2022. China insists that its space program is for peaceful purposes.

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Laid Off From Job, Man Builds Tweeting Toilet

Slashdot - Thu, 11/09/2014 - 05:30
dcblogs writes With parts from an electric motor, a few household items, an open-source hardware board running Linux, and some coding, Thomas Ruecker, built a connected toilet that Tweets with each flush. The first reaction to the Twitter feed at @iotoilets may be a chuckle. But the idea behind this and what it illustrates is serious. It tracks water usage, offers a warning about the future of privacy in the Internet of Things, and may say something about the modern job hunt. Ruecker built his device on a recent long weekend after he was laid off as an open source evangelist at a technology firm undergoing "rightsizing," as he put it.

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X-Class Solar Flare Coming Friday

Slashdot - Thu, 11/09/2014 - 03:00
First time accepted submitter kit_triforce writes Satellites have just detected a powerful X1.6-class solar flare. The source was active sunspot AR2158, which is directly facing Earth. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash. Ionizing radiation from the flare could cause HF radio blackouts and other communications disturbances, especially on the day-lit side of Earth. In the next few hours, when coronagraph data from SOHO and STEREO become available, we will see if a coronal mass ejection (CME) emerges from the blast site. If so, the cloud would likely be aimed directly at Earth and could reach our planet in 2 to 3 days.

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The Exoplanets That Never Were

Slashdot - Thu, 11/09/2014 - 00:55
StartsWithABang writes In 1992, scientists discovered the first planets orbiting a star other than our Sun. The pulsar PSR B1257+12 was discovered to have its own planetary system, and since then, exoplanet discoveries have exploded. But before that, in 1963, decades of research led to the much-anticipated publication and announcement of an exoplanet discovered around Barnard's star, the second-closest star system to Earth. Unfortunately, it turned out to be spurious, and it took years to uncover, an amazing story which is only now fully coming to light.

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First Intel 14nm Broadwell Core M Benchmarks Unveiled

Slashdot - Wed, 10/09/2014 - 20:03
MojoKid writes Intel Execs out at IDF this week in San Francisco have let slip some actual benchmark run results on Intel's just-released Broadwell Core M processor platform. Intel has gone into detail on Broadwell's architecture and features previously and has discussed power consumption and performance expectations. However, now we finally have some cold, hard numbers, rather than just percentage comparisons versus previous generation Intel platforms. Intel was demonstrating a 12.5-inch Broadwell-based, Core M 5Y70-powered Windows tablet live and the benchmark runs look promising, with 3DMark scores in the 50K range. The Cinebench results shown place the CPU on par with full-fledged Core i5 notebook variants in the 15 Watt power envelope, but powered by the new 4.5 Watt Broadwell Y Core M processor that will be employed mostly in 2-in-1 hybrid devices and high end tablets.

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The Grassroots Future of Biohacking

Slashdot - Wed, 10/09/2014 - 19:43
An anonymous reader writes Forget about some kid engineering a virulent microbe in their bedroom. As the assistant director of the Maurice Kanbar Center for Biomedical Engineering, Oliver Medvedik, puts it, "It's extremely difficult to 'improve' on the lethality of nature. The pathogens that already exist are more legitimate cause for worry.” If anything, you're better off putting energy into wrenching away your desire for McDonalds, and making sure the government doesn't impose draconian laws about DIY-bio. Here's a look at the grassroots future of biohacking and the problems with government overreach.

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UCLA Biologists Delay the Aging Process In Fruit Flies

Slashdot - Wed, 10/09/2014 - 10:09
An anonymous reader writes:Life scientists at UCLA have located a gene in fruit flies which, when intentionally activated, increases lifespan by about 30%. The gene (called AMPK) is normal important as an energy sensor, usually triggered by cells with low energy levels. By triggering it at other times, the researchers slowed the fruit flies' aging process (PDF), even beyond the organ system in which the triggering occurred. "Walker said that the findings are important because extending the healthy life of humans would presumably require protecting many of the body's organ systems from the ravages of aging — but delivering anti-aging treatments to the brain or other key organs could prove technically difficult. The study suggests that activating AMPK in a more accessible organ such as the intestine, for example, could ultimately slow the aging process throughout the entire body, including the brain."

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Northwest Passage Exploration Ship Found

Slashdot - Wed, 10/09/2014 - 08:30
Kittenman writes: The BBC (and several other sources) are carrying the news that the Canadian government has found the sunken remains of one of Sir John Franklin's ships (either the Erebus, or the Terror), that went missing in the 1840s, causing sensation in Victorian London. Sir John and his entire crew were never seen alive again. The search for traces of the expedition went for over ten years in the 19th century, partly led by Sir John's widow. The discovery has been called the biggest archaeological event since the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb.

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Architecture That Changes Shape In Response To Heat

Slashdot - Wed, 10/09/2014 - 07:12
An anonymous reader writes "A group of students at Barcelona's Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalunya has created a functioning prototype of architecture that adapts to environmental inputs. "The project, Translated Geometries, tackles the idea by developing a new use for Shape Memory Polymers, a composite material that can deform and return to its original state when activated by cues like heat, humidity and light." The idea is this: create a wall or a roof out of a series of folded triangles. At low temperatures, the roof would be in its folded state, laying mostly flat. When exposed to heat, the creases would flex and expand, unfolding the roof and giving it a much greater surface area, thereby increasing its convective cooling. As it cools, it folds back down into a smaller shape."

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Report: Microsoft To Buy Minecraft Studio For $2bn+

Slashdot - Wed, 10/09/2014 - 00:37
dotarray (1747900) writes "A surprising story has emerged today that suggests Microsoft is looking to buy Minecraft developer Mojang. The reported price tag is "more than US$2 billion." The original report is at the WSJ (possibly behind a paywall). Quoting: "For Microsoft, "Minecraft" could reinvigorate the company's 13-year-old Xbox videogame business by giving it a cult hit with a legion of young fans. Mojang has sold more than 50 million copies of "Minecraft" since it was initially released in 2009 and earned more than $100 million in profits last year from the game and merchandise. "Minecraft" is already available on the Xbox, as well as Sony Corp.'s PlayStation, PCs and smartphones."

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WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

Slashdot - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 23:51
Lucas123 writes: Western Digital's HGST subsidiary today announced it's shipping its first 8TB and the world's first 10TB helium-filled hard drive. The 3.5-in, 10TB drive also marks HGST's first foray into the use of singled magnetic recording technology, which Seagate began using last year. Unlike standard perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR), where data tracks rest side by side, SMR overlaps the tracks on a platter like shingles on a roof, thereby allowing a higher areal density. Seagate has said SMR technology will allow it to achieve 20TB drives by 2020. That company has yet to use helium, however. HGST said its use of hermetically-sealed helium drives reduces friction among moving drive components and keeps dust out. Both drives use a 7-platter configuration with a 7200 RPM spindle speed. The company said it plans to discontinue its production of air-only drives by 2017, replacing all data center models with helium drives.

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Device Boots Drones, Google Glass Off Wi-Fi

Slashdot - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 23:08
An anonymous reader writes: Amid the backlash against spy-eye drones as well as wearable cameras like Google Glass, one company is building a device to fight back. The Cyborg Unplug actively scans for drones or Google Glass on a local wireless network and blocks their traffic. They're billing it as an "anti-surveillance system" and marketing it toward businesses, restaurants, and schools. They take pains to note that it's not a jammer, instead sending copies of a de-authentication packet usually sent by a router when it disconnects a device. The device can, however, force devices to disconnect from any network, which they warn may be illegal in some places.

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China's Island Factory

Slashdot - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 21:45
An anonymous reader writes: The BBC has a lengthy investigative report about China's efforts to create and expand artificial islands in the South China Sea. They've been going to coral reefs and atolls, dredging the bottom for material, and dumping it on top of the reef to create new land. On at least one of the new islands, China will build an air base large enough for fighter jets to use. This highlights one of China's main reasons for constructing these islands: sovereignty and strategic control of the surrounding area. "The U.S. government does not acknowledge China's claim, and the U.S. Pacific fleet continues to sail regularly through the South China Sea. But the Chinese navy is beginning to grow more assertive. In December 2013 China sailed its brand new aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, into the South China Sea for the first time. Shadowing it, at about 30 nautical miles, came the U.S. Navy cruiser USS Cowpens. A Chinese amphibious assault ship approached and ordered it to leave the area. The commander of the Cowpens refused, saying he was sailing in 'international waters.'"

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Intel Releases SD-Card-Sized PC, Unveils Next 14nm Chip

Slashdot - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 21:02
szczys writes: Intel is upping their bid for a place at the efficient-yet-powerful device table. They've launched their Edison board, which features an x86 based SoC running at 100 MHz. The footprint measures 35.5mm x 25.0mm and offers a 70-pin connector to break out 40 pins for add-on hardware. Also at the Intel Developer Forum today, the company demonstrated a PC running on Skylake, a new CPU microarchitecture based on the 14nm process used for Broadwell. Intel is pushing to break into both wearable devices and household devices, as it sees both as huge opportunities for growth.

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Toyota and Tesla May Work Together Again

Slashdot - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 20:20
cartechboy writes: Tesla and Toyota have already worked together a few times. The factory in which Tesla builds the electric Model S? It bought that from Toyota. The Toyota RAV4 EV? The battery and software tuning was done by Tesla. Now it sounds like Tesla and Toyota might have another significant project in the pipeline in the next two or three years. Tesla CEO Musk said such a project could be "on a much higher volume level" than the firm's last project with Toyota, the RAV4 EV. Toyota currently has a 2.4 percent stake in Tesla Motors and has sold 2,130 RAV4 EVs through August. For its part, Toyota has no comment regarding Musk's statements about the future project. Given Toyota's stance on electric cars, Musk's comment is a bit confusing. So what exactly will this joint project be?

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Apple Announces Smartwatch, Bigger iPhones, Mobile Payments

Slashdot - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 19:31
Today at Apple's September press conference, they announced the new iPhone 6 models. There are two of them — the iPhone 6 is 4.7" at 1334x750, and the iPhone 6 Plus is 5.5" at 1920x1080. Both phones are thinner than earlier models: 5S: 7.6mm, 6: 6.9mm, 6 Plus: 7.1mm. The phones have a new-generation chip, the 64-bit A8. Apple says the new phones have a 25% faster CPU, 50% faster GPU, and they're 50% more energy efficient (though they were careful to say the phones have "equal or better" battery life to the 5S). Apple upgrade the phones' wireless capabilities, moving voice calls to LTE and also enabling voice calls over Wi-Fi. The phones ship on September 19th, preceded by the release of iOS 8 on September 17th. Apple also announced its entry into the payments market with "Apple Pay." They're trying to replace traditional credit card payments with holding an iPhone up to a scanner instead. It uses NFC and the iPhone's TouchID fingerprint scanner. Users can take a picture of their credit cards, and Apple Pay will gather payment information, encrypt it, and store it. (Apple won't have any of the information about users' credit cards or their purchases, and users will be able to disable the payment option through Find My iPhone if they lose the device.) Apple Pay will work with Visa, Mastercard, and American Express cards to start. 220,000 stores that support contactless payment will accept Apple Pay, and many apps are building direct shopping support for it. It will launch in October as an update for iOS 8, and work only on the new phones. Apple capped off the conference with the announcement of the long-anticipated "Apple Watch." Their approach to UI is different from most smartwatch makers: Apple has preserved the dial often found on the side of analog watches, using it as a button and an input wheel. This "digital crown" enables features like zoom without obscuring the small screen with fingers. The screen is touch-sensitive and pressure sensitive, so software can respond to a light tap differently than a hard tap. The watch runs on a new, custom-designed chip called the S1, it has sensors to detect your pulse, and it has a microphone to receive and respond to voice commands. It's powered by a connector that has no exposed contacts — it magnetically seals to watch and charges inductively. The Apple Watch requires an iPhone of the following models to work: 6, 6Plus, 5s, 5c, 5. It will be available in early 2015, and will cost $349 for a base model.

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Surprising Result of NYC Bike Lanes: Faster Traffic for Cars

Slashdot - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 18:57
A report at vox.com says that the implementation of bike lanes in traffic-heavy New York City has one possibly non-intuitive result: car traffic was sped up as a result. The bike lanes have caused the lanes for cars to be narrowed, but as a result of the street redesign to accomodate bikes, one big change has especially helped to keep cars moving forward more steadily: Although narrower streets can slow traffic, that doesn't seem to have happened here — perhaps because traffic in this area was crawling at around 11 miles per hour to begin with. Instead, the narrower lanes were capable of handling just as much traffic, and one major improvement to intersection design helped them handle more, while also letting bikes travel more safely. This improvement was something called a pocket lane for left-hand turns: a devoted turning lane at most intersections that takes the place of the parking lane, which gets cars out of the way of moving traffic when they're making a left.

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US Rust Belt Manufacturing Rebounds Via Fracking Boom

Slashdot - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 13:13
schnell writes: A NY Times article reports that Midwestern "Rust Belt" towns and their manufacturing economies in particular have rebounded greatly due to the U.S. resurgence in fossil fuel production. This resurgence is driven by production of shale gas and natural gas from "fracking" and other new technologies that recover previously unavailable fuel but are more invasive than traditional techniques. "Both Youngstown and Canton are places which experienced nothing but disinvestment for 40 years." "They're not ghost towns anymore," according to the article. But while many have decried the loss of traditional U.S. manufacturing jobs in a globalized world and the associated loss of high-wage, blue collar jobs, do the associated environmental risks of new "tight oil" extraction techniques outweigh the benefits to these depressed economic regions?

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