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PC World (drawing on an article from 3DPrint.com) notes that inventor Pat Starace has released his plans for a 3-D printable prosthetic hand designed to appeal both to kids who need it and their parents (who can't all afford the cost of conventional prostheses). The hand "has the familiar gold-and-crimson color scheme favored by Ol' Shellhead, and it's designed with housings for a working gyroscope, magnetometer, accelerometer, and other "cool sensors", as well as a battery housing and room for a low-power Bluetooth chip and charging port." It takes about 48 hours in printing time (and "a lot" of support material), but the result is inexpensive and functional.
20 comments | 1 hour ago
TheRealHocusLocus writes: Disaster preppers have a saying, "two is one and one is none," which might also apply to 24x7 base load energy sources that could sustain us beyond the age of fossil fuel. I too was happy to see Skunkworks' Feb 2013 announcement and the recent "we're still making progress" reminder. I was moved by the reaction on Slashdot: a groundswell of "Finally!" and "We're saved!" However, fusion doesn't need to be the only solution, and it's not entirely without drawbacks.
All nuclear reactors will generate waste via activation as the materials of which they are constructed erode and become unstable under high neutron flux. I'm not pointing this out because I think it's a big deal — a few fusion advocates disingenuously tend to sell the process as if it were "100% clean." A low volume of non-recyclable waste from fusion reactors that is walk-away safe in ~100 years is doable. Let's do it. And likewise, the best comparable waste profile for fission is a two-fluid LFTR, a low volume of waste that is walk-away safe in ~300 years. Let's do it.
Why pursue both, with at least the same level of urgency? Because both could carry us indefinitely. LFTR is less complicated in theory and practice. It is closer to market. There is plenty of cross-over: LFTR's materials challenges and heat engine interface — and the necessity for waste management — are the same as they will be for commercial-scale fusion reactors. To get up to speed please see the 2006 fusion lecture by Dr. Robert Bussard on the Wiffle ball 6 plasma containment, likely the precursor to the Skunkworks approach. And see Thorium Remix 2011 which presents the case for LFTR.
210 comments | 2 days ago
MojoKid writes: For the past few years, Intel has promised that its various low-power Atom-based processors would usher in a wave of low-cost Android and Windows mobile products that could compete with ARM-based solutions. And for years, we've seen no more than a trickle of hardware, often with limited availability. Now, that's finally beginning to change. Intel's Bay Trail and Merrifield SoCs are starting to show up more in full-featured, sub-$200 devices from major brands. One of the most interesting questions for would-be x86 buyers in the Android tablet space is whether to go with a Merrifield or Bay Trail Atom-based device. Merrifield is a dual-core chip without Hyper-Threading. Bay Trail is a quad-core variant and a graphics engine derived from Intel's Ivy Bridge Core series CPUs. That GPU is the other significant difference between the two SoCs. With Bay Trail, Intel is still employing their own graphics solution, while Merrifield pairs a dual-core CPU with a PowerVR G6400 graphics core. So, what's the experience of using a tablet running Android on x86 like these days? Pretty much like using an ARM-based Android tablet currently, and surprisingly good for any tablet in the $199 or less bracket. In fact, some of the low cost Intel/Android solutions out there currently from the likes of Acer, Dell, Asus, and Lenovo, all compete performance-wise pretty well versus the current generation of mainstream ARM-based Android tablets.
97 comments | 3 days ago
Tailhook writes Pool reports written by White House correspondents are distributed to news organizations via the White House Press Office. Reporters have alleged that the Obama White House exploits its role as distributor to "demand changes in pool reports" and has used this power to "steer coverage in a more favorable direction." Now a group of 90 print journalists has begun privately distributing their work through Google Groups, independent of the Press Office. Their intent is to "create an independent pool-reporting system for print and online recipients."
110 comments | 3 days ago
An anonymous reader writes By now, everyone not living in total isolation knows that HBO has announced plans to offer content streaming in 2015 with no TV subscription requirements. Many wonder what took HBO so long to make this transition. Some speculate that the growing unpopularity of ISP giants has shifted bargaining power in HBO's favor. Others say that it's purely maths; there are more cord-cutters and more people willing to shell out money for specific content, as evidenced by Netflix surpassing HBO in earnings this year "despite Netflix having a smaller customer base". Whatever the reason, all are expecting this development to induce "more content providers to make their shows more readily available online".
139 comments | 4 days ago
Lockheed Martin claims it has made a significant breakthrough in the creation of nuclear fusion reactors. The company says it has proved the feasibility of building a 100MW reactor measuring only 7 feet by 10 feet. They say the design can be built and tested within a year, and they expect an operational reactor within a decade. The project is coming out of stealth mode now to seek partners within academia, government, and industry. "Lockheed sees the project as part of a comprehensive approach to solving global energy and climate change problems. Compact nuclear fusion would also produce far less waste than coal-powered plants, and future reactors could eliminate radioactive waste completely, the company said."
561 comments | 4 days ago
New submitter chaosdivine69 writes: According to Scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU), they have developed ultra-fast charging batteries that can be recharged up to 70 per cent in only two minutes and have a 20-year lifespan (10,000 charges). The impact of this is potentially a game changer for a lot of industries reliant on lithium ion batteries. In the car industry, for example, consumers would save on costs for battery replacement and manufacturers would save on material construction (the researchers are using a nanotube structure of Titanium dioxide, which is an abundant, cheap, and safe material found in soil). Titanium dioxide is commonly used as a food additive or in sunscreen lotions to absorb harmful ultraviolet rays. It is believed that charging an electric car can be done in as little as 5 minutes, making it comparable to filling up a tank of gasoline.
395 comments | 5 days ago
1sockchuck writes: A massive solar array in central New Jersey provides the daytime power for a server farm delivering online financial services for McGraw Hill. The 50-acre field of photovoltaic solar panels symbolizes a new phase in the use of renewable energy in data centers. Massive arrays can now provide tens of megawatts of solar power for companies (including Apple) that can afford the land and the expense. But some data center thought leaders argue that these huge fields are more about marketing than genuinely finding the best approach to a greener cloud.
235 comments | 5 days ago
gurps_npc (621217) writes "CNN has a very interesting article about an unpowered exoskeleton system called Fortis. Unlike the more famous TALOS system, this exoskeleton uses zero electricity, so it does not need batteries or an extension cord. Power requirements have always been the problem with powered exoskeletons, as batteries are heavy. The system is made out of lightweight aluminum and heavy tools connect directly to it. The weight of the tools is supported by the exoskeleton, so your arms, back and legs don't have to carry it. You only need to use muscle to move the tool, not simply carry it. The exoskeleton does not make you stronger. Instead it effectively increases your stamina by relieving fatigue caused by carrying the heavy tool.
79 comments | 5 days ago
merbs writes: A leaked report shows wind is the cheapest energy source in Europe, beating the presumably dirt-cheap coal and gas by a mile. Conventional wisdom holds that clean energy is more expensive than its fossil-fueled counterparts. Yet cost comparisons show that renewable energy sources are often cheaper than their carbon-heavy competition. The report (PDF) demonstrates that if you were to take into account mining, pollution, and adverse health impacts of coal and gas, wind power would be the cheapest source of energy.
607 comments | about a week ago
sciencehabit writes Material scientists have found a clever way to alert users of damaged batteries before any hazard occurs. A typical lithium-ion cell consists of a lithium oxide cathode and a graphite anode, separated by a thin, porous polymer sheet that allows ions to travel between the electrodes. When the cell is overcharged, microscopic chains of lithium, called "dendrites," sprout from the anode and pierce through the polymer separator until they touch the cathode. An electrical current passing through the dendrites to the cathode can short-circuit the cell, which causes overheating and, in some cases, fire. Attempts to stop dendrite formation have met with limited success, so the researchers tried something different. They built a "smart" separator by sandwiching a 50-nanometer thin copper layer between two polymer sheets and connecting the copper layer to a third electrode for voltage measurement. When the dendrites reach the separator, the voltage between the anode and the copper layer drops to zero, alerting users that they should change the damaged battery while it is still operating safely—disaster averted.
97 comments | about a week ago
vinces99 writes Fusion energy almost sounds too good to be true – zero greenhouse gas emissions, no long-lived radioactive waste, a nearly unlimited fuel supply. Perhaps the biggest roadblock to adopting fusion energy is that the economics haven't penciled out. Fusion power designs aren't cheap enough to outperform systems that use fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. University of Washington engineers hope to change that. They have designed a concept for a fusion reactor that, when scaled up to the size of a large electrical power plant, would rival costs for a new coal-fired plant with similar electrical output. The team published its reactor design and cost-analysis findings last spring and will present results Oct. 17 at the International Atomic Energy Agency's Fusion Energy Conference in St. Petersburg, Russia.
315 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes: AMD is moving forward with their plans to develop a new open-source Linux driver model for their Radeon and FirePro graphics processors. Their unified Linux driver model is moving forward, albeit slightly different compared to what was planned early this year. They're now developing a new "AMDGPU" kernel driver to power both the open and closed-source graphics components. This new driver model will also only apply to future generations of AMD GPUs. Catalyst is not being open-sourced, but will be a self-contained user-space blob, and the DRM/libdrm/DDX components will be open-source and shared. This new model is more open-source friendly, places greater emphasis on their mainline kernel driver, and should help Catalyst support Mir and Wayland.
56 comments | about two weeks ago
grouchomarxist writes with word that "The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura, the inventors of the blue LED." From the organization's press release: When Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura produced bright blue light beams from their semi-conductors in the early 1990s, they triggered a fundamental transformation of lighting technology. Red and green diodes had been around for a long time but without blue light, white lamps could not be created. Despite considerable efforts, both in the scientific community and in industry, the blue LED had remained a challenge for three decades. They succeeded where everyone else had failed. Akasaki worked together with Amano at the University of Nagoya, while Nakamura was employed at Nichia Chemicals, a small company in Tokushima. Their inventions were revolutionary. Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps. White LED lamps emit a bright white light, are long-lasting and energy-efficient. They are constantly improved, getting more efficient with higher luminous flux (measured in lumen) per unit electrical input power (measured in watt). The most recent record is just over 300 lm/W, which can be compared to 16 for regular light bulbs and close to 70 for fluorescent lamps. As about one fourth of world electricity consumption is used for lighting purposes, the LEDs contribute to saving the Earth's resources. Materials consumption is also diminished as LEDs last up to 100,000 hours, compared to 1,000 for incandescent bulbs and 10,000 hours for fluorescent lights. The LED lamp holds great promise for increasing the quality of life for over 1.5 billion people around the world who lack access to electricity grids: due to low power requirements it can be powered by cheap local solar power.
243 comments | about two weeks ago
bestweasel writes: The Guardian has an interview with Keith Bristow, the head of the National Crime Agency, (sometimes called Britain's FBI, apparently) in which he says, "Britons must accept a greater loss of digital freedoms in return for greater safety from serious criminals and terrorists." He also mentions pedophiles, of course. The article seems to cover just the highlights of the interview, but in another quote he says that for "policing by consent," the consent is "expressed through legislation." While this might sound reassuring, it's coupled with the Home Secretary's call last week for greater mass surveillance powers. Presumably whoever wins power in the elections next year will claim that this gives them the required consent (that's democracy, folks!) and pass the laws.
264 comments | about two weeks ago
Lasrick writes Dawn Stover looks at unrealistic expectations and the distribution of limited energy resources: 'This is a question that should move from the fringes of the energy debate to its very heart. Economists and energy experts shy away from issues of equity and morality, but climate change and environmental justice are inseparable: It's impossible to talk intelligently about climate without discussing how to distribute limited energy resources. It's highly unlikely that the world can safely produce almost five times as much electricity by 2035 as it does now—which is what it would take to provide everyone with a circa-2010 American standard of living, according to a calculation by University of Colorado environmental studies professor Roger Pielke Jr. The sooner policy makers accept this reality, the sooner they can get to work on a global solution that meets everyone's needs. First, though, they need to understand the difference between needs and wants.' Not something most people even think about.
652 comments | about two weeks ago
Almost a year ago you had a chance to ask professor Kevin Fu about medical device security. A number of events (including the collapse of his house) conspired to delay the answering of those questions. Professor Fu has finally found respite from calamity, coincidentally at a time when the FDA has issued guidance on the security of medical devices. Below you'll find his answers to your old but not forgotten questions.
21 comments | about two weeks ago
coondoggie writes Given enough computer power, desire, brains, and luck, the security of most systems can be broken. But there are cryptographic and algorithmic security techniques, ideas and concepts out there that add a level of algorithmic mystification that could be built into programs that would make them close to unbreakable. That's what the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants for a new program called "Safeware." From DARPA: “The goal of the SafeWare research effort is to drive fundamental advances in the theory of program obfuscation and to develop highly efficient and widely applicable program obfuscation methods with mathematically proven security properties.”
124 comments | about two weeks ago
Z00L00K sends this report from New Scientist:
Networks shaped like delicate snowflakes are the ones that are easiest to fix when disaster strikes. Power grids, the internet and other networks often mitigate the effects of damage using redundancy: they build in multiple routes between nodes so that if one path is knocked out by falling trees, flooding or some other disaster, another route can take over. But that approach can make them expensive to set up and maintain. The alternative is to repair networks with new links as needed, which brings the price down – although it can also mean the network is down while it happens.
As a result, engineers tend to favor redundancy for critical infrastructure like power networks, says Robert Farr of the London Institute for Mathematical Sciences. So Farr and colleagues decided to investigate which network structures are the easiest to repair. They simulated a variety of networks, linking nodes in a regular square or triangular pattern and looked at the average cost of repairing different breaks, assuming that expense increases with the length of a rebuilt link. ... They found the best networks are made from partial loops around the units of the grid, with exactly one side of each loop missing (abstract). All of these partial loops link together, back to a central source. ... These networks have three levels of hierarchy – major arms sprouting from a central hub that branch and then branch again, but no further. When drawn, they look remarkably like snowflakes, which have a similar branching structure.
38 comments | about two weeks ago
Lucas123 writes Solar power could be the leading source of electricity compared with other renewables and conventional sources of power, such as oil and coal, according to a pair of reports from the International Energy Agency. PV panels could produce 16% of the world's electricity, while solar thermal electricity (STE) is on track to produce 11%. At the end of 2013, there had been 137GW of solar capacity deployed around the world. Each day, an additional 100MW of power is deployed. One reason solar is so promising is plummeting prices for photovoltaic cells and new technologies that promise greater solar panel efficiency. For example, MIT just published a report on a new material that could be ideal for converting solar energy into heat by tuning the material's spectrum of absorption. Ohio State University just announced what it's referring to as the world's first solar battery, which integrates PV with storage at a microscopic level. "We've integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost," said Yiying Wu, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State.
167 comments | about two weeks ago