Friday, October 9, 2009

Penny-Sized Nuclear Batteries Developed

Posted by kdawson on Friday October 09, @09:32AM
from the is-that-a-nuke-in-your-pocket dept.
pickens writes"Nuclear batteries that produce energy from the decay of radioisotopes are an attractive proposition for many applications because the isotopes that power them can provide a useful amount of current for hundreds of years at power densities a million times as high as standard batteries. Nuclear batteries have been used for military and aerospace applications for years, their large size has limited their general usage. But now a research team at the University of Missouri has developed a nuclear battery the size of a penny that could be used to power micro- and nano-electromechanical systems. The researchers' innovation is not only in the battery's size, but also that the batteries use a liquid semiconductor rather than a solid semiconductor. 'The critical part of using a radioactive battery is that when you harvest the energy, part of the radiation energy can damage the lattice structure of the solid semiconductor,' says Jae Wan Kwon. 'By using a liquid semiconductor, we believe we can minimize that problem.' The batteries are safe under normal operating conditions. 'People hear the word "nuclear" and think of something very dangerous,' says Kwon. 'However, nuclear power sources have already been safely powering a variety of devices, such as pacemakers, space satellites, and underwater systems.'"

Thursday, October 8, 2009

How Dangerous Could a Hacked Robot Possibly Be?

Posted by CmdrTaco on Thursday October 08, @09:36AM
from the i-for-one-welcome-DELETED dept.
alphadogg writes"Researchers at the University of Washington think it's finally time to start paying some serious attention to the question of robot security. Not because they think robots are about to go all Terminator on us, but because the robots can already be used to spy on us and vandalize our homes. In a paper published Thursday the researchers took a close look at three test robots: the Erector Spykee, and WowWee's RoboSapien and Rovio. They found that security is pretty much an afterthought in the current crop of robotic devices. 'We were shocked at how easy it was to actually compromise some of these robots,' said Tadayoshi Kohno, a University of Washington assistant professor, who co-authored the paper."

Front Row Seats To NASA's Lunar Impact

Posted by CmdrTaco on Thursday October 08, @11:00AM
from the wait-that-is-a-moon dept.
itwbennett writes"Tomorrow morning at 7:30 EDT, NASA is going to crash a probe into the moon as part of its LCROSS (Lunar CRater Observing and Sensing Satellite) mission, the main purpose of which is to discover if there's any water on the moon. 'If you happen to have a 10-12" telescope (or larger) then you might be able to see the plume from your backyard,' says blogger Peter Smith. 'For the rest of us, the impact will be streamed live over the web in a few places. NASA will have a feed, beginning at 6:15 EDT. The NASA feed includes live footage from the spacecraft itself as well as expert commentary and other goodies. Astronomy service SLOOH is offering a double-shot of earth-bound feeds, with one feed from New Hampshire and the other from Arizona. The SLOOH feeds start at 6:30 am EDT.'"

Hyperdrive Propulsion Could Be Tested At the LHC

Posted by CmdrTaco on Thursday October 08, @10:14AM
from the i-can't-believe-i-used-the-transportation-topic dept.
KentuckyFC writes"In 1924, the influential German mathematician David Hilbert calculated that a stationary mass should repel a particle moving towards or away from it at more than half the speed of light (as seen by a distant inertial observer). Now an American physicist has pointed out that the equal and opposite effect should also hold true: that a relativistic particle should repel a stationary mass. This, he says, could form the basis of a 'hypervelocity propulsion drive' for accelerating spacecraft to a good fraction of the speed of light. The idea is that the repulsion allows the relativistic particle to deliver a specific impulse that is greater than its specific momentum, an effect that is analogous to the elastic collision of a heavy mass with a much lighter, stationary mass, from which the lighter mass rebounds with about twice the speed of the heavy mass. Unlike other exotic hyperdrive proposals, this one can be tested using the world's largest particle accelerator, the LHC, which will generate beams of particles with the required energy (abstract). Placing a test mass next to the beam line and measuring the forces on it as the particles pass by should confirm the theory — or scupper it entirely."

Significant Risk' Of Oil Production Peaking In Ten Years, Report Finds

Prelude from Busted - Just to help out here on what the significance is. Peak oil means that we have used half of the oil available in the earth. On the surface this does not appear to be too important until you consider our use of oil grows every year, and by a percentage, we use twice as much oil per day as we did 36 years ago and assuming steady growth, you could extend this back to the 1930s and say that we use 8 times more oil per day today than we did back then. You can see the pattern known as doubling and most people can see that if you extend this into the future, we will not have the more than 100 years it too to get to half way but SIGNIFICANTLY less, perhaps only 30-60 years after peak. Now of course as demand increases and the supply becomes both more expensive to access and drops, gas prices will go up, probably significantly if we don't have a viable alternative. Coal, most people accept as dirty no matter how you slice it. To me, the logical conclusion is that since prices are going to go up, let us more aggressively pursue clean fuel sources to be ready for the inevitable transition to a new and cleaner fuel source and while we are thinking in this vein, why not buy our scientists as much time as possible by conserving to make what we have last as long as possible.

ScienceDaily (Oct. 8, 2009) — A new report, launched by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), argues that conventional oil production is likely to peak before 2030, with a significant risk of a peak before 2020. The report concludes that the UK Government is not alone in being unprepared for such an event - despite oil supplying a third of the world's energy.

Candy Linked To Violence In Study

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday October 08, @05:29AM
from the gummy-worms-and-steal dept.
T Murphy writes"A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry links daily consumption of candy at the age of 10 to an increased chance of being convicted of a violent crime by age 34. The researchers theorize the correlation comes from the way candy is given rather than the candy itself. Candy frequently given as a short-term reward can encourage impulsive behavior, which can more likely lead to violence. An alternative explanation offered by the American Dietetic Association is that the candy indicates poor diet, which hinders brain development. The scientists stress they don't imply candy should be removed from a child's diet, although they do recommend moderation. The study controls for teachers' reports of aggression and impulsivity at age 10, the child's gender, and parenting style. The study can be found here, but the full text is behind a paywall."

Design Starting For Matter-Antimatter Collider

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday October 08, @03:02AM
from the dump-the-warp-core dept.
couch_warrior writes"The Register is carrying a story on the early design efforts for the next generation of high-energy particle accelerators. They will be linear, and will collide matter and antimatter in the form of electrons and positrons. The obvious question will be: once we have a matter-antimatter reactor, how long till we have warp drive, and will the Vulcans show up for a sneak-peak?"

Avatars To Have Business Dress Codes By 2013

Posted by samzenpus on Thursday October 08, @01:25AM
from the no-flaming-hair-at-pretend-work dept.
nk497 writes"With businesses increasingly using digital tech like virtual worlds and Twitter, their staff will have to be given guidelines on how they 'dress' their avatars, according to analysts. 'As the use of virtual environments for business purposes grows, enterprises need to understand how employees are using avatars in ways that might affect the enterprise or the enterprise's reputation,' said James Lundy, managing vice president at Gartner, in a statement. 'We advise establishing codes of behavior that apply in any circumstance when an employee is acting as a company representative, whether in a real or virtual environment.'"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Video Game Dubbed “Lose/Lose” Doesn’t Really Offer a Way to Win/Win

Posted 09/30/09 at 05:57:40 PM by Jason barry

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If you thought Red Faction 2 was a destructive game, download Lose/Losefrom Zach Gage and play it for a few hours. You might not be able to boot your computer after a marathon session of alien bashing.

Zach Gage developed the game to have real life consequences, and real life consequences it has. “Each alien in the game is created based on a random file on the players computer. If the player kills the alien, the file it is based on is deleted.” Sounds dangerous, right? Well, that was the intention.

According to his “manifesto,” he hopes to invoke the question of moral obligation and blur the line between virtual and physical possessions and their priorities in a technical world.

While the best solution is never fire a single shot, it could be the least fun game ever...unless you play it on a co-workers computer.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Aging Discovery Yields Nobel Prize

Posted by CmdrTaco on Monday October 05, @09:47AM
from the i'm-still-getting-older-here dept.
An anonymous reader writesThis year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded to three scientists who have solved a major problem in biology: how the chromosomes can be copied in a complete way during cell divisions and how they are protected against degradation. The Nobel Laureates have shown that the solution is to be found in the ends of the chromosomes, called the telomeres, and in an enzyme that forms them."

Monty Python 40 Years Old Today!

Posted by CmdrTaco on Monday October 05, @10:35AM
from the nobody-expects-the-spanish-inquisition dept.
cheros was one of several readers to note that today, Oct 5, in 1969 was the very first airing of Monty Python. Although not every sketch has aged particularly well, you'd be hard pressed to find a more influential and funny show. Heck, look at the Icon we use here to indicate humorous stories! Who among us can't claim to have viewed the Holy Grail at least somewhere in the double digits.

Columbia Bugathermo hiking boots are heated, rechargeable

by Thomas Ricker posted Oct 5th 2009 at 3:27AM

If you live in the northern hemisphere then you've already felt it; the cold chill that signals the onset of nature's respite. So while not slip into these Columbia Bugathermo "high-performance" hiking boots and give the Earth a trample while its defenses are down? These heated boots feature dual-heating elements with visual indicators for battery and heating levels on the outside of that Omni-Tech waterproof skin. Three temperature settings provide as little as 3-hours, or up to 8-hours, of tootsie toasting heat from the internal lithium polymer batteries. Hell, might as well bring along a gasoline-powered generator so you can recharge 'em and show mother nature her real daddy. $250 and available now.

Minimally Invasive Procedure Effective For Treating Snoring, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Oct. 5, 2009) — Radiofrequency ablation, a procedure that uses heat to shrink the tissue of the soft palate, is an effective and minimally invasive procedure that can be used to treat patients who snore.

Special Brain Wave Boost Slows Motion

ScienceDaily (Oct. 5, 2009) — Researchers have found that they can make people move in slow motion by boosting one type of brain wave. The findings offer some of the first proof that brain waves can have a direct influence on behavior, according to the researchers, who report their findings online on October 1 in Current Biology.