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  • Liquid Sponges Extract Hydrogen From Water

    New submitter gaelfx writes: Researchers at Glasglow University have an interesting method for separating the hydrogen out of water: Liquid Sponges. Most methods of extracting the hydrogen involve some form electrolysis, but these generally require some pretty expensive materials. The researchers claim that they can accomplish this using less electricity, cheaper materials and 30 times faster to boot. With both Honda and Toyota promising hydrogen fuel cell cars in Japan within the next few years (other manufacturers must be considering it as well, if not as publicly), does this spell a new future for transportation technology?

    113 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Journal Published Flawed Stem Cell Papers Despite Serious Misgivings About Work

    sciencehabit writes: As two discredited, and now retracted, stem cell papers have produced an almost unimaginable fallout — a national hero accused of scientific fraud, the revamping of one of Japan's major research institutes, and the suicide of a respected cell biologist — researchers have privately and publicly asked how Nature could have published work that, in retrospect, seems so obviously flawed. Another piece of the puzzle has now come to light. The Science news team received a copy of email correspondence between a Nature editor and Haruko Obokata, the lead author of the papers, which indicates the work initially received as rocky a reception there as at two other journals, Cell and Science, that had rejected the work previously. The email, dated 4 April 2013, includes detailed separate criticisms of the two papers and suggestions for new data to support the authors' claims of a simple and novel way to make stem cells that could form the myriad cell types within a body. The Nature editor rejected the papers, but left open a window, writing, "Should further experimental data allow you to address these criticisms, we would be happy to look at a revised manuscript." The two papers were published 10 months later.

    35 comments | about two weeks ago

  • 3 Decades Later, Finnair Pilots Report Dramatic Close Encounter With a Missile

    jones_supa (887896) writes It has come to light that a Finnair-owned McDonnell Douglas DC-10 passenger jet narrowly avoided being shot down by a missile while en route to Helsinki 27 years ago, claimed the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday. The two co-pilots, Esko Kaukiainen and Markku Soininen, describe how the event happened during a routine flight back to Helsinki from Japan in December 1987. When the plane was crossing the Arctic Ocean, a missile appeared in the distance. The crew thought it was a Russian weather rocket on its way into space, but the missile began heading straight towards the aircraft. Just 20 seconds away from a collision, the missile exploded. The captain, who was resting at the time of the incident, never officially reported the event. The question of who fired the missile has never been definitively answered. But the pilots believe it was launched from either the Soviet Union's Kola Peninsula or a submarine in the Barents Sea. They speculate that the missile could have been a misfire or that the plane was used as training target.

    138 comments | about two weeks ago

  • Space Station's 'Cubesat Cannon' Has Gone Rogue

    astroengine writes: Last night (Thursday), two more of Planet Lab's shoebox-sized Earth imaging satellites launched themselves from aboard the International Space Station, the latest in a series of technical mysteries involving a commercially owned CubeSat deployer located outside Japan's Kibo laboratory module. Station commander Steve Swanson was storing some blood samples in one of the station's freezers Friday morning when he noticed that the doors on NanoRack's cubesat deployer were open, said NASA mission commentator Pat Ryan. Flight controllers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston determined that two CubeSats had been inadvertently released. "No crew members or ground controllers saw the deployment. They reviewed all the camera footage and there was no views of it there either," Ryan said.

    143 comments | about two weeks ago

  • White House Names Google's Megan Smith As CTO

    itwbennett writes that, as expected, The White House has named long-time Google executive Megan Smith as the government's new CTO, in charge of improving technology and the use of data across agencies. Smith most recently served as vice president at Google's tech lab, Google[x]. She previously served as CEO of PlanetOut, helped design early smartphone technologies at General Magic and worked on multimedia products at Apple Japan in Tokyo. She holds bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT, and just might be, as noted in a previous Slashdot post, the first US CTO worthy of the title. Also on Thursday, the White House named Alexander Macgillivray, a former general counsel and head of public policy at Twitter, as deputy U.S. CTO.

    75 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Japanese Firm Showcases "Touchable" 3-D Technology

    skade88 notes an interesting new piece of tactile feedback technology unveiled in Japan. Officials of Miraisens, a high-tech firm based outside Tokyo, said the technology, which can be used to improve the gaming experience or allow someone to physically shape objects that exist only on a computer, will soon be available for purchase. "Touching is an important part of human communication, but until now virtual reality has lacked it," Chief Executive Natsuo Koda said. "This technology will give you a sense that you can touch objects in the 3-D world," said Koda, a former virtual reality researcher for Sony Corp. It works by fooling the brain, blending what the eye sees with different patterns of vibration created by a small fingertip device, said Norio Nakamura, the inventor of so-called 3D-Haptics Technology and chief technical officer at the firm. In one demonstration of a prototype head-mounted display, the company showed how the wearer can feel resistance by pushing virtual buttons.

    41 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Robot Dramas: Autonomous Machines In the Limelight On Stage and In Society

    aarondubrow writes: We're entering an era where we'll increasingly coexist with robots and other intelligent machines — some of which may look like us. Not only is there a growing number of industrial robots (about 1.5 million today), there are 10 million Roombas in our homes, porter-bots in our hospitals and hotels, social robots in our nursing homes and even robot spectators at baseball games in Japan, tele-operated by remote fans.

    Theater is not an arena that we typically associate with robots, however, artists, musicians and producers are often early adopters and innovative users of emerging technologies. In fact, robots got their name from the 1920 play, R.U.R., by the Czech playwright, Karel Capek. An article in the Huffington Post describes a panel discussion at the National Academy of Science in June that featured the producers of three recent plays that starred robots. The plays highlight our robot anxieties, while offering new visions for human-robot interactions in the future.

    31 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Particle Physics To Aid Nuclear Cleanup

    mdsolar sends this report from Symmetry Magazine: Cosmic rays can help scientists do something no one else can: safely image the interior of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. ... [M]uon tomography is similar to taking an X-ray, only it uses naturally produced muons. These particles don't damage the imaged materials and, because they already stream through everything on Earth, they can be used to image even the most sensitive objects. Better yet, a huge amount of shielding is needed to stop muons from passing through an object, making it nearly impossible to hide from muon tomography. ... By determining how muons scatter as they interact with electrons and nuclei within the item, the team's software creates a three-dimensional picture of what's inside. ... To prove the technology, the Los Alamos team shipped a demo detector system to a small, working nuclear reactor in a Toshiba facility in Kawasaki, Japan. There, they placed one detector on either side of the reactor core. "When we analyzed our data we discovered that in addition to the fuel in the reactor core, they had put a few fuel bundles off to the side that we didn't know about," says Morris. "They were really impressed that not only could we image the core, but that we also found those bundles."

    35 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Robot Printer Brings Documents To Your Desk

    mrspoonsi sends this news from the BBC: Fuji Xerox has developed a new robotic printer that can move around a lounge or office to bring documents to the person who printed them. The printer is designed to be used primarily in public places as a way to keep sensitive documents secure. Sensors on the machine prevent it from bumping into people on the way. However, some analysts argued that the idea was not cost effective when compared with other secure printing methods. Fuji Xerox — a joint venture between the two firms — has been testing the printer this month at a business lounge in Tokyo. Each desk in the lounge is given a unique web address from which to print. Users access the address and upload documents to be printed. Once the printer receives the job, it moves to the intended recipient who then has to display a smart card to activate printing.

    64 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Japanese Publishers Lash Out At Amazon's Policies

    Nate the greatest writes: Amazon is in a bitter contract fight with Hachette in the U.S. and Bonnier in Germany, and now it seems the retail giant is also in conflict with publishers in Japan. Amazon has launched a new rating system in Japan which gives preference to publishers with larger ebook catalogs (and publishers that pay higher fees), leading to complaints that Amazon is using its market power to blackmail publishers. Where have we heard that complaint before?

    The retailer is also being boycotted by a handful of Japanese publishers who disagree with Amazon offering a rewards program to students. The retailer gives students 10% of a book's price as points, which can be used to buy more books. This skirts Japanese fixed-price book laws, so several smaller publishers pulled their books from Amazon in protest. Businesses are out to make money and not friends, but Amazon sure is a lightning rod for conflicts, isn't it?

    113 comments | about three weeks ago

  • Fukushima's Biological Legacy

    An anonymous reader sends this report from Eurekalert: Scientists began gathering biological information only a few months after the disastrous 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima power plant in Japan. Results of these studies are now beginning to reveal serious biological effects of the Fukushima radiation on non-human organisms ranging from plants to butterflies to birds. A series of articles summarizing these studies has been published in the Journal of Heredity describing impacts ranging from population declines to genetic damage (abstract 1, abstract 2, abstract 3, abstract 4). Most importantly, these studies supply a baseline for future research on the effects of ionizing radiation exposure to the environment. Common to all of the published studies is the hypothesis that chronic (low-dose) exposure to ionizing radiation results in genetic damage and increased mutation rates in reproductive and non-reproductive cells. Meanwhile, efforts to restart Japan's nuclear power program are dead in the water.

    116 comments | about a month ago

  • Telegram Not Dead STOP Alive, Evolving In Japan STOP

    itwbennett writes Japan is one of the last countries in the world where telegrams are still widely used. A combination of traditional manners, market liberalization and innovation has kept alive this age-old form of messaging. Companies affiliated with the country's three mobile carriers, NTT DoCoMo, KDDI and SoftBank, offer telegrams, which are sent via modern server networks instead of the dedicated electrical wires of the past (Morse telegraphy hasn't been used since 1962), and then printed out with modern printers instead of tape glued on paper. But customers are still charged according to the length of the message, which is delivered within three hours. A basic NTT telegram up to 25 characters long can be sent for ¥440 ($4.30) when ordered online.

    144 comments | about a month ago

  • Google Is Backing a New $300 Million High-Speed Internet Trans-Pacific Cable

    An anonymous reader writes Google has announced it is backing plans to build and operate a new high-speed internet Trans-Pacific cable system called "FASTER." In addition to Google, the $300 million project will be jointly managed by China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Global Transit, KDDI, and SingTel, with NEC as the system supplier. FASTER will feature the latest high-quality 6-fiber-pair cable and optical transmission technologies. The initial design capacity is expected to be 60Tb/s (100Gb/s x 100 wavelengths x 6 fiber-pairs), connecting the US with two locations in Japan.

    135 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • TEPCO: Nearly All Nuclear Fuel Melted At Fukushima No. 3 Reactor

    mdsolar (1045926) writes "Almost all of the nuclear fuel in the No. 3 reactor of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant melted within days of the March 11, 2011, disaster, according to a new estimate by Tokyo Electric Power Co. TEPCO originally estimated that about 60 percent of the nuclear fuel melted at the reactor. But the latest estimate released on Aug. 6 revealed that the fuel started to melt about six hours earlier than previously thought. TEPCO said most of the melted fuel likely dropped to the bottom of the containment unit from the pressure vessel after the disaster set off by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami."

    255 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Apple and Samsung Agree To Drop Cases Outside the US

    mrspoonsi writes Apple and Samsung have agreed to withdraw all legal cases against each other outside the United States. The two rivals have sued each other over a range of patent disputes in nine countries outside the US, including the UK, South Korea, Japan and Germany. A joint statement said the agreement "does not involve any licensing arrangements", and they would continue to pursue existing cases in US courts. The two firms are the biggest players in the smartphone and tablet PC market. But they have been involved in a bitter legal battle, spread across various countries, which has escalated in recent years.

    46 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Senior RIKEN Scientist Involved In Stem Cell Scandal Commits Suicide

    sciencehabit (1205606) writes "Yoshiki Sasai, a noted stem cell scientist at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe, Japan, who co-authored two controversial and later retracted papers that reported a simple way of reprogramming mature cells, was confirmed dead this morning, an apparent suicide. Local media reported he was found hanging from a stairway railing in the RIKEN complex in Kobe. Sasai was rushed to a nearby hospital but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. He reportedly left a suicide note, but it has not been made public."

    127 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Japan To Launch a Military Space Force In 2019

    Taco Cowboy writes Japan is planning to launch a military space force by 2019. The Mainichi Shimbun is reporting that Japan plans to create a "space force" within its existing Self Defence Force, hoping to have it operational by 2019. Japan would provide the US military with information obtained by the force as part of the joint bid to strengthen ties in space, the so-called "fourth battlefield", Kyodo news agency said, citing unnamed sources. Note that this plan, which involves simply looking into space using old civilian astronomy equipment and radar, is just the beginning. The transforming space fighters and combat mechs will presumably come later.

    150 comments | about a month and a half ago

  • Nokia Buys a Chunk of Panasonic

    jones_supa (887896) writes "Nokia's future as a company focused on providing network solutions, rather than mobile phones, looks to be bright. The company made big profits in the second quarter of 2014 after selling its mobile devices unit — the cornerstone of Nokia's rise in the 1990s — to Microsoft. Meanwhile Nokia has been buying up other businesses such as the Chicago-based SAC Wireless. Now Nokia is acquiring part of Panasonic's network business in an effort to boost its presence in Japan. The deal announced Thursday will give the Finnish firm control of roughly one third of Japan's mobile network market."

    54 comments | about 2 months ago

  • World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft Goes Into Production In China

    stephendavion (2872091) writes "Chinese aircraft manufacturer China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA) has started trial production of its TA600 amphibious aircraft, claimed to be the world's largest of its kind. With an expected maiden flight late next year, the Chinese plane would replace Japan's ShinMaywa US-2 short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft as the largest of its kind globally." Take a look at a side profile illustration of the CA-600, on this Korean language page. The TA600 has a huge maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 tons, but looks a bit puny compared to Howard Hughes' H-4 Hercules.

    85 comments | about 2 months ago

  • Off the Florida Coast, Astronauts Train For Asteroid Mission

    Space.com gives an overview of the training that four astronauts are undergoing over 9 days submerged off the coast of Florida near Key Largo. The training mission, dubbed NEEMO 18, is one step toward a proposed (mid-2020s) mission to actually visit a captured asteroid in lunar orbit. In addition to the complications of working outside their school-bus sized habitat while awkwardly suited up in a low-gravity (or at least high buoyancy) environment, their mission also includes a 10-minute communications delay, to simulate the high-latency communications with mission control that would be inevitable for an actual asteroid mission. The experiments astronauts are doing during the mission, which began Monday (July 21), range from the physical to the behavioral. For example, each of the crew members sports a sensor that records how close the crew members work with each other inside the school-bus-size habitat. ... Communications with NEEMO Mission Control is usually constant, and there is the ability to send items to and from the habitat as needed. Also living inside the habitat are two support staff who are assisting with Aquarius maintenance and systems, as required. The crew members also have Internet and phone service to talk with family and friends.

    84 comments | about 2 months ago

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