Thursday, November 20, 2008

MIT and NASA Designing Silent Aircraft

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday November 20, @11:42AM

from the Fly-the-silent-skies dept.
Iddo Genuth writes"Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics recently won a contract from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to design quieter, more energy efficient, and more environmentally friendly commercial airplanes. The two million dollar contract from NASA is just an initial step in bringing green technologies to the sky."

Spider Missing After Trip To Space Station

Posted by CmdrTaco on Thursday November 20, @10:56AM

from the lost-in-space dept.
Garabito writes"A spider that had been sent to the International Space Station for a school science program was lost. Two arachnids were sent in order to know if spiders can survive and make webs in space, but now only one spider can be seen in the container. NASA isn't sure where the other spider could have gone. I, for one, welcome our new arachnid overlords."

Let me google that for you

This is kind of a tongue and cheek way of giving someone the info they need while telling them that they souled really look it up themselves the next time.

The Importance of Procedural Content Generation In Games

Posted by Soulskill on Wednesday November 19, @02:09AM

from the see-what-grows dept.
Gamasutra reports on a talk by Far Cry 2 developer Dominic Guay in which he discussed why procedural content generation is becoming more and more important as games get bigger and more complex. He also talks about some of the related difficulties, such as the amount of work required for the tools and the times when it's hard to retain control of the art direction. Quoting:"Initially, the team created a procedural sky rendering approach based on algorithms — which led to a totally unconvincing skybox that was clearly inferior to what a hand-authored skybox would be. 'We considered it to be a total failure,' he said. He explained that a great deal of focus must be put on the tools that surround the algorithms, to allow the systems to be properly harnessed. In the end, the game shipped with a revamped procedural sky system that ended up much more effective than the first attempt."

Should You Get Paid While Your Computer Boots?

Posted by kdawson on Wednesday November 19, @12:02AM

from the define-work-and-give-two-examples dept.
The Almighty BuckThe CourtsIT
An anonymous reader notes a posting up at a law blog with the provocative title Does Your Boss Have to Pay You While You Wait for Vista to Boot Up?. (Provocative because Vista doesn't boot more slowly than anything else, necessarily, as one commenter points out.) The National Law Journal article behind the post requires subscription. Quoting:"Lawyers are noting a new type of lawsuit, in which employees are suing over time spent booting [up] their computers. ... During the past year, several companies, including AT&T Inc., UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Cigna Corp., have been hit with lawsuits in which employees claimed that they were not paid for the 15- to 30-minute task of booting their computers at the start of each day and logging out at the end. Add those minutes up over a week, and hourly employees are losing some serious pay, argues plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Thierman, a Las Vegas solo practitioner who has filed a handful of computer-booting lawsuits in recent years. ... [A] management-side attorney... who is defending a half-dozen employers in computer-booting lawsuits... believes that, in most cases, computer booting does not warrant being called work."
  • it
  • court
  • ofcourse
  • greedycompanies
  • news
  • money
  • story

Most of Woolly Mammoth Genome Reconstructed

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday November 20, @07:57AM

from the I-want-a-cave-bear dept.
geekmansworld writes"From the Washington Post, 'An international team of scientists has reconstructed more than three-quarters of the genome of the woolly mammothusing DNA extracted from balls of hair, the first time this has been accomplished for an extinct species.' Who wants a pet mammoth?"


by Samuel Axon, posted Nov 20th 2008 at 8:29AM

Still addicted to oil like the rest of the world? You might reconsider wind power rehab now that a startup called ExRo has developed turbines that it says are consistently 30% -- and in some situations as much as 100% -- more efficient than the standard kind. The traditionally-used mechanical transmissions have been replaced with an inexpensive electric alternative that can adapt to changes in wind speed more efficiently. Also, many small generators are used instead of a large one, so the turbines can be customized in production to suit the intended installation site. If this is the real deal, it beats the 0.1% increase we saw in solar cell efficiency a few months ago, and those Maglev uber-turbines are still on the horizon. Hey Sun -- jealous yet?

[Via DailyTech]

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Update: Hijacked Supertanker Held for Ransom

The jolly roger pirate flagAs the bizarre story involving theSaudi-owner oil tanker and the Somali pirates continues to unfold, the plot grows thicker. The Sirius Star, holding about 2 million barrels of oil, is now parked only 3 miles off the coast of Harardhere, a notorious pirate city. The pirates -- well aware that no there are no refineries in Somalia -- are apparently holding the ship's crew and cargo hostage in order to exact some kind of ransom, and negotiations are underway.

The cargo is valued at $100M at today's prices, but no figures have been released as to how much the ransom could be. Unlike other recent pirate incidents like the recent capture of a Hong Kong cargo ship filled with wheat, captors in this scenario control a substance that is much more precious if refined, and extremely destructive if dumped -- so the pirates can pretty much name their price. 

From what I've read, no mention has been made of the eco-terror aspects of this confrontation, but the potential for a ginormous oil spill-- intentional or otherwise -- gives the situations some very seious environmental, as well as human implications.

Green Jobs that Won't Make You Poor

Are you dissatisfied with your current job? When one thinks of "green jobs," it almost seems synonymous with "non-profit" -- a rewarding venture that doesn't offer much in terms of salary. However, there are careers out there in the green market that can earn six figures for the right candidate

  1. Demand for environmental engineers is expected to grow over 25% over the next eight years. This consulting gig can pay well over 100K.
  2. If you are an environmental lawyer, your $145,000 salary means that you swim in the same league as those "other guys."
  3. Industrial designers with an eye for reducing packaging and substituting sustainable materials are paid handsomely.
  4. Like to watch the thermometer? Climatologist might be the right career for you. That and other science jobs can earn you over six figures.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Calcium May Only Protect Against Colorectal Cancer In Presence Of Magnesium

ScienceDaily (Nov. 18, 2008) — High magnesium intake has been associated with low risk of colorectal cancer. Americans have similar average magnesium intake as East Asian populations. If that were all that were involved, observers might expect both groups to have similar risk for colorectal cancer.

Read More

Why the Widening Gender Gap in Computer Science?

Posted by timothy on Tuesday November 18, @11:03AM

from the thomas-sowell-can-speak-to-that dept.
EducationUnited States
ruheling writes"From yesterday's New York Times: ' What Has Driven Women Out of Computer Science?' In many U.S. universities, over the past decade, there has been deliberate effort to integrate and encourage women and girls to get more involved in the 'hard' sciences, engineering, and math. However, instead of the proportion of women to men increasing, in Computer Science the opposite is actually true. Specifically, in 2001-2, only 28 percent of all undergraduate degrees in computer science went to women. Now many computer science departments report that women now make up less than 10 percent of the newest undergraduates. What's going on here, folks?"

Physicist Admits Sending Space-Related Military Secrets To China

Posted by timothy on Tuesday November 18, @10:21AM

from the he-was-young-he-needed-he-money dept.
The MilitarySecurityThe CourtsUnited StatesScience
piemcfly writes"Chinese-born physicist Shu Quan-Sheng Monday pleaded guilty before a US court to violating the Arms Export Control Act by illegally exporting American military space know-how to China. The 68-year-old naturalized US citizen, pictured here on his company profile, admitted handing over the design of fueling systems between 2003 and 2007. Also, in 2003 he illegally exported a document with the impossibly long name of 'Commercial Information, Technical Proposal and Budgetary Officer — Design, Supply, Engineering, Fabrication, Testing & Commissioning of 100m3 Liquid Hydrogen Tank and Various Special Cryogenic Pumps, Valves, Filters and Instruments.' This contained the design of liquid hydrogen tanks for space launch vehicles. He also admitted to a third charge of bribing Chinese officials to the tune of some 189,300 dollars for a French space technology firm."Here's the FBI press release regarding Shu's plea.

NYC's Mayor Suggests Plastic Bag Fee

canvas bagAnother incentive towards reaching sustainability -- a plastic bag The Big Apple's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, recently suggested the implementation of a 6 cent fee for every plastic bag issued at the register in order to encourage residents to adopt the more eco-friendly practice of reusable bags. As opposed to giving shoppers a credit per bag, which is something commonly used where I live, Mayor Bloomberg feels the fee will not only deter the use of these oil-produced, street littering sacks but potentially raise millions of dollars in the short term (until shoppers make the switch). Additionally, his willingness to give 1 cent of every 6 cents charged to store owners will hopefully increase compliance. This would be the first city in the U.S. to take this measure -- other areas such as Melbourne and Ireland have already seen a drastic reduction in plastic bag usage since they began charging per sack. Soon we may be calling the City the Big Green Apple!

[via Inhabitat]

Anti-Matter Created By Laser At Livermore

Posted by kdawson on Tuesday November 18, @12:28AM

from the billions-and-billiions dept.
zootropole alerts us to a press release issued today by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, announcing the production of 'billions of particles of anti-matter.'"Take a gold sample the size of the head of a push pin, shoot a laser through it, and suddenly more than 100 billion particles of anti-matter appear. The anti-matter, also known as positrons, shoots out of the target in a cone-shaped plasma 'jet.' This new ability to create a large number of positrons in a small laboratory opens the door to several fresh avenues of anti-matter research, including an understanding of the physics underlying various astrophysical phenomena such as black holes and gamma ray bursts."The press release doesn't characterize the laser used in this experiment, but it may have been this one.

Urine Passes NASA Taste Test

Posted by kdawson on Monday November 17, @08:35PM

from the not-mine dept.
Ponca City, We love you writes"Astronauts flying aboard space shuttle Endeavour are delivering a device to the International Space Station that may leave you wondering if NASA is taking recycling too far. Among the ship's cargo is a water regeneration system that distills, filters, ionizes, and oxidizes wastewater — including urine — into fresh water for drinking or, as one astronaut puts it, 'will make yesterday's coffee into today's coffee.' The US space agency spent $250M for the water recycling equipment but with the space shuttles due to retire in two years, NASA needed to make sure the station crew would have a good supply of fresh water. The Environmental Control and Life Support Systems uses a purification process called vapor compression distillation: urine is boiled until the water in it turns to steam. In space, there's an additional challenge: steam doesn't rise, so theentire distillation system is spun to create artificial gravity to separate the steam from the brine. The water has been thoroughly tested on Earth, including blind taste tests that pitted recycled urine with similarly treated tap water. 'Some people may think it's downright disgusting, but if it's done correctly, you process water that's purer than what you drink here on Earth,' said Endeavour astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper."

Will the Chevy Volt Get a EPA Rating of 100 MPG?

GM Chevy Volt on displayAs alternative fuel vehicles start to hit the market, regulatory agencies are being faced with a growing new dilemma -- how to accurately measure fuel economy. According to EPA test guidelines, the urban test cycle is 11 miles long, while the highway is 10.3 -- the Volt can supposedly drive 40mi before its gas engine kicks in. That's prompted some, like the NY Times, to speculate that the GM Volt might actually be able get the coveted triple-digit EPA mileage rating.

The folks at the EPA are kicking around a bunch of new methods to test the Volt, but exactly how can they change the test criteria for one vehicle, and yet claim to have a standardized procedure? One method includes running the Volt until the 1.4L generator engine kicks in. Then, they'll run the cycles again with the vehicle in charge mode. 

The truth is, with the introduction hybrids, range extended EVs, and even tiny pod cars, the classic "MPG" standard for rating efficiency is starting to lose its relevance. Manufacturers like VW have already voiced a very public challenge to the EPA rating of their Jetta TDI. Rather than list the Tesla Roadster's efficiency in miles, the EPA lists it in kW hours.