Thursday, August 14, 2008

Two mammoth solar plants to generate 800 megawatts in California

It's one thing to see competition unnecessarily push more and more megapixels into palm-sized cameras, but this game of leapfrog is one we can actually get behind. A pair of giant solar plants will soon be installed in San Luis Obispo County in California, covering 12.5 square miles and promising to generate around 800 megawatts of power. OptiSolar will be responsible for laying enough panels to generate 550 megawatts, while SunPower -- the same company associated with the 14 megawatt installation at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada (pictured) -- will provide the other 250. The energy will eventually be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric, though any sort of pricing arrangements are strictly under wraps for now. C'mon Nevada, you gonna let the Golden State do you like that?

[Via Slashdot]

Oil And Gas Projects In Western Amazon Threaten Biodiversity And Indigenous Peoples

ScienceDaily (Aug. 14, 2008) — The western Amazon, home to the most biodiverse and intact rainforest left on Earth, may soon be covered with oil rigs and pipelines.

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Hard Day’s Night? Enhancing The Work-life Balance Of Shift Workers

ScienceDaily (Aug. 14, 2008) — Introducing a Compressed Working Week may enhance the work-life balance of shift workers without damaging productivity or competitiveness suggests a new systematic review published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

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Wind turbines blamed for migraines, sleeping disorders, etc.

The amount of drama surrounding wind turbines never ceases to amaze me. First, we've got the theory that they're killing migratory birds. Then, we get the complaint that they're noisy. Now, there's a report linking the low-frequency noise of wind turbines to a plethora of symptoms from migraines to problems with equilibrium. Is this a honest health phenomenon, or another ploy to halt the development of wind farms?

Dr. Nina Pierpoint, who holds a doctorate from Princeton, is in the process of publishing a book entitled Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on the Natural Experiment. Through her study of families in Canada, England, Ireland, Italy, and the US, she's come to believe that living too close to wind farms can cause all sorts of adverse health effects. Supposedly, the low frequency "noise" can screw with your inner ear, causing tinnitus, panic attacks, mood disorders, sleep disorders, childhood behavioral problems, and disruption of equilibrium.

Hmm, maybe I'm biased, but I'm having a little trouble swallowing this news. These symptoms seem a little too broad and conveniently hard to quantify. If this info is accurate -- wind turbines could be very useful in a psychological warfare scenario.
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Toilet BBQ: Cooking on the hot seat

Remember how funny it used to be when someone would leave a bag of flaming poop on a doorstep, and then we they would run away and hide in the bushes while the owner of the home stomped in burning crap? Man, last weekend was crazy.

The EcoJohn is kind of like that, but not really. It's a toilet that doesn't use water- it uses fire, and you don't have to stomp on it (unless that's your thing).

Basically, once the user does that voodoo that they do they shut the lid of the toilet "and a large, screw-like auger turns and carries the waste to the burn chamber where the propane burner then bakes urine, feces and paper into ashes."

Ashes to ashes and all that.

As Stefan Johansson says, "Toilets haven't really changed for the past 100 years. People are always looking for better products, better solutions. The EcoJohns are better, cleaner and good for the environment."

That makes it a winner.

Here's what makes it awesome: The EcoJohn Sr. is a waterless, incinerating toilet certified for safety by Underwriters Laboratories, which, for classification purposes, called it a barbecue.

Yes, it's classified as a barbecue.

We don't recommend using it as one.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Boeing completes successful test of air-to-ground laser turret, enemies are teh doomed

Boeing laser
It's about time Boeing went and shot that frickin' laser. The Boeing Advanced Tactical Laser C-130H aircraft has completed its first ground test, shooting a high-energy chemical laser through a beam-control system. The gun successfully acquired a ground target and shot the darn thing on August 7, paving the way for an in-air test later this year, hopefully from that bad-ass 747 they've been touting. Boeing promises that the ATL will "destroy, damage or disable targets with little to no collateral damage." Yay for surgical strikes? Maybe some popcorn?

The Wii finally gets DVD playback -- no thanks to Nintendo

Carrying on the rich hacker tradition of picking up the slack for companies that are unwilling or unable to provide the functionality users need, a team of Wii coders have given the console what Nintendo could not: DVD playback. By installing a small, hidden channel on a system, this package blesses the console with a libdi file (DVD access library), and allows you to watch your favorite videos with the MPlayer application, an open source media player. The install file will run on modded and unmodded systems, and the software is also capable of playing media from SD cards (though it's experimental right now). Finally Wii owners can join the ranks of, well... pretty much everyone else.

[Via TehSkeen; Thanks, brakken]

LucasArts Embargoes "Clone Wars" Reviews

Posted by CmdrTaco on Wednesday August 13, @08:42AM
from the that-doesn't-sound-encouraging dept.
An anonymous reader writes "George Lucas CGI 'Clone Wars' movie has premiered to reviews ranging from MSNBC's 'Ugly animation and an uninspired storyline drag down the film' to AintItCool's 'I hated the film. HATED IT. REALLY HATED IT.' Critics have noted the animation style, music and slapstick humor had more than a passing similarity to Pixar's Toy Story, and wondered if the introduction of new action figures (sorry, characters) like Baby Jabba Hutt and Jabba the Hutt's Gay Uncle may have taken the franchise a bridge too far. Lucas responding by enforcing an embargo, forcing the reviews to be taken down. While sites like responded, by then it was just a little too late. Still, the CGI eye candy will make it popular with kids. If the 'Clone Wars' movie can't save the galaxy, can it at least save the franchise?"

Inferring Personality From Email Addresses

Posted by CmdrTaco on Wednesday August 13, @09:24AM
from the i-really-dont'-even-care-for-tacos-that-much dept.
paleshadows writes "Three researchers from the University of Leipzig published an interesting paper titled 'How extraverted is Inferring personality from e-mail addresses' (PDF). From the abstract: 'Email addresses represent the thinnest slice of information that people receive from one another. Using 599 e-mail addresses of young adults, their self-reported personality scores and the personality judgments of 100 independent observers, it was shown that personality impressions based solely on e-mail addresses were consensually shared by observers. Moreover, these impressions contained some degree of validity. This was true for neuroticism, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and narcissism but not for extraversion."'

This is something that is indisputable mathematical logic.

What Makes 100%? What does it mean to give MORE than 100%? Ever wonder
about those people who say they are giving more than 100%? We have all
been to those meetings where someone wants you to give over 100%. How
about achieving 103%? What makes up 100% in life?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these


is represented as:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.


8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%


K-N-O -W-L-E-D-G-E
11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%

But ,

1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%


2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103%

AND, look how far ass kissing will take you.

1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118%

So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty, that While Hard work
and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there, its
the Bullshit and Ass kissing that will put you over the top.

EU Reserves a Frequency For Talking Cars

Posted by kdawson on Wednesday August 13, @05:47AM
from the long-as-they-don't-use-cell-phones dept.
Iddo Genuth writes "The European Commission has recently decided to reserve, across Europe, part of the radio spectrum for smart vehicle communications systems. The decision is part of the Commission's overall fight against road accidents and traffic jams, and the hope is that vehicles' developers will create wireless communication technology that will allow cars to 'talk' to other cars and to the road infrastructure providers."

Contraceptive Pill Influences Partner Choice

ScienceDaily (Aug. 13, 2008) — The contraceptive pill may disrupt women's natural ability to choose a partner genetically dissimilar to themselves, research at the University of Liverpool has found.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

'Anti-noise' Silences Wind Turbines

ScienceDaily (Aug. 13, 2008) — If wind turbines clatter and whistle too loudly, they are only permitted to operate under partial load to protect the local residents – but this also means a lower electricity output. An active damping system cancels out the noise by producing counter-vibrations.

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Home Science Under Attack In Massachusetts

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday August 12, @02:10PM
from the and-the-yellow-phthalate-too dept.
An anonymous reader tips a guest posting up on the MAKE Magazine blog by the author of the Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments. It seems that authorities in Massachusetts have raided a home chemistry lab, apparently without a warrant, and made off with all of its contents. Here's the local article from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. "Victor Deeb, a retired chemist who lives in Marlboro, has finally been allowed to return to his Fremont Street home, after Massachusetts authorities spent three days ransacking his basement lab and making off with its contents. Deeb is not accused of making methamphetamine or other illegal drugs. He's not accused of aiding terrorists, synthesizing explosives, nor even of making illegal fireworks. Deeb fell afoul of the Massachusetts authorities for... doing experiments... Pamela Wilderman, the code enforcement officer for [the Massachusetts town of] Marlboro stated, 'I think Mr. Deeb has crossed a line somewhere. This is not what we would consider to be a customary home occupation.' Allow me to translate Ms. Wilderman's words into plain English: 'Mr. Deeb hasn't actually violated any law or regulation that I can find, but I don't like what he's doing because I'm ignorant and irrationally afraid of chemicals, so I'll abuse my power to steal his property and shut him down.'"

China to Build a Zero Carbon Green City

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Monday August 11, @11:37PM
from the tired-of-getting-whined-at-for-beijing dept.
gormanw writes "Just outside Shanghai, there is an island about the size of Manhattan. China is going to build its first ever 'green city', complete with no gasoline/diesel powered vehicles, 100% renewable energy, green roofs, and recycling everything. The city is called Dongtan and it should house about 5,000 people by the end of 2010, with estimates of 500,000 by 2050. The goal is to build a livable city that is energy efficient, non-polluting, and protects the wildlife in the area."

Physics Nerds Rap About the LHC

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Tuesday August 12, @01:31AM
from the rock-you-in-the-head dept.
Engadget has pointed out a small band of people even we can consider nerdy that decided to cut loose and demo CERN's fancy new toy, the Large Hadron Collider. The resulting music video is certainly enough to "rock you in the head", and maybe even enough to cause a rip in space-time. Between Alpinekat and Dr Spatzo, I think my iPod just got a new entry.

First All-Drone USAF Air Wing

Posted by ScuttleMonkey on Tuesday August 12, @03:28AM
from the going-for-the-high-score dept.
bfwebster writes "Strategy Page reports that the United States Air Force has announced its first air wing that will consist entirely of unmanned craft. The 174th Fighter Wing has flown its last manned combat sorties; its F-16s will be entirely replaced by MQ-9 Reapers. Reasons cited include costs (maintenance and fuel) and the drone's ability to stay in the air up to 14 hours, waiting for a target to show itself."

Auto-aiming USB missile launcher makes good use of your Wiimote

It's tough for us to go six months without a newfangled approach to hacking the famed USB missile launcher, so it's with great joy that we present to you this particular one. By utilizing a spare Wiimote, a USB-enabled PC, a USB missile launcher, a few strips of duct tape and a minor amount of programming knowledge, you too can craft an auto-aiming launcher which can find, aim at and attack IR targets. Grab the aforementioned items and hit the read link, just take care to not poke your eye out, alright?

[Via HackNMod, thanks Joe]

Monday, August 11, 2008

White Nose Syndrome is stealing away the bats

If only it was a simple as calling Batman to come to the rescue. Something is killing the bats, but like the bees and colony collapse disorder, we don't know what is causing it.

Called White Nose Syndrome because of the white fungus that grows in the muzzles of hibernating bats, WNS was first seen in New York state over the winter of 2006 and 2007. In addition to the symptoms of the white fungus, sick and dying bats are frequently emaciated and dehydrated.

This past winter WNS was also seen in caves in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Connecticut. Since many bats from New Hampshire "winter" in caves in other states, they are also feeling the impact. Pennsylvania is reported deaths this summer and the wildlife service is monitoring all of the surrounding states for additional cases.

Across New England, the mortality rate for infected caves is over 80%. In some caves 97% of the hibernating bats died!

Bats are particularly important to the environment for insect control. In the summer, just one bat can eat half -- or more -- of its body weight in insects. Fewer bats means more mosquitoes, which in turn leads to more pesticides. Bats have a slow reproductive rate, giving birth to just one pup a year, so it will take years for the populations to recover from this mass die-off.

This new and inexplicable bat disease is being studied by scientists and conservationists in New England, and followed closely by the caving community. For more information visit the Northeast Region U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service site.

Cooking (with) Light

homemade solar ovenOnce, many years ago, a tornado-caused multi-day power outage inspired my friend Megan and I to try to cook rice with a solar oven. We had a bit of trouble. Granted, we were grade-school age, but at least one of us (not me) was pretty good at science and at following instructions. Yet, the rice didn't come out quite as edible as we had hoped.

Since then, there have been a number of developments in solar ovens. Ecofriend tells us about the newest creation from Teong Tan, who has taken the best characteristics of two other solar cookers and combined them. Meet the Fun-Panel Solar Cooker. It can be made from a cardboard box, aluminum foil, tape, a piece of string, and some glue. I do wonder just how "fun" those panels are to create, but maybe I'll give this a shot next time our power goes out.
Related Link

Scientists Closer To Invisibility Cloak

Posted by timothy on Monday August 11, @09:49AM
from the excellent-for-parties dept.
Aviran was one of many readers to submit news of a just-announced development in the ongoing quest to develop a working invisibility cloak, writing: "Scientists say they are a step closer to developing materials that could render people and objects invisible. Researchers have demonstrated for the first time they were able to cloak three-dimensional objects using artificially engineered materials that redirect light around the objects. Previously, they only have been able to cloak very thin two-dimensional objects" Reader bensafrickingenius adds a link to coverage at the Times Online, and notes that "the world's two leading scientific journals, Science and Nature, are expected to report the results this week." Tjeerd adds a link to a Reuters' story carried by Scientific American.

News: The Flat Earthers Are Still With Us

Posted by timothy on Sunday August 10, @09:17AM
from the until-the-end-of-days dept.
narcberry writes "The BBC reports on a scientific community still holding to flat earth theories. From their article: 'Are there any genuine flat-earthers left? Surely in our era of space exploration — where satellites take photos of our blue and clearly globular planet from space, and robots send back info about soil and water from Mars — no one can seriously still believe that the Earth is flat? Wrong. Flat earth theory is still around. On the internet and in small meeting rooms in Britain and the US, flat earth believers get together to challenge the 'conspiracy' that the Earth is round.'"

News: The Effects of Exporting Used PCs To Africa

Posted by Soulskill on Sunday August 10, @05:50PM
from the do-not-try-this-at-home dept.
retroworks writes "According to this UK MailOnline story, computers donated to Africa are causing quite a few problems. The BBC does a similar story on the junk computers from rich countries found on the ground in Africa. But all of the footage is of the junk PCs; there is no film of any repaired or good computers. There have been a dozen stories now about the bad apples. It seems like there have to be good ones, too, to cover the costs of shipping. Some of the ones in the Mail story actually look decent. Is there more balanced coverage of used computer exports, many of which provide affordable technology to poor people? Organizations like Greenpeace and Basel Action Network are promoting electronics recyclers with zero-export policies. One organization, the World Reuse Repair and Recycling Association, is promoting a 'Fair Trade Coffee' approach to moderate the number of bad computers exported, and has a video showing both sides of the story. A ban on exports leaves Africa with a choice of spending a year's income on a new PC, buying mixed loads of computers from undercapitalized recyclers, or remaining without this level of technology. And our choice seems to be to donate a decent computer mixed with other people's junk, or to grind it up in a perverse tribute to Vance Packard, as 'obsolescence in hindsight.'"

Genes May Make Some People More Prone To Anxiety

ScienceDaily (Aug. 11, 2008) — Inborn differences may help explain why trauma gives some people bad memories and others the nightmare of post-traumatic stress. Scientists in Germany and the United States have reported evidence linking genes to anxious behavior. The findings appear in the August issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, published by the American Psychological Association.

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In Scientific First, Researchers Correct Decline In Organ Function Associated With Old Age

ScienceDaily (Aug. 11, 2008) — As people age, their cells become less efficient at getting rid of damaged protein — resulting in a buildup of toxic material that is especially pronounced in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders.

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