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HughPickens.com writes Jennifer Abel writes at the LA Times that according to a recent survey (PDF), over 80% of Americans says they support "mandatory labels on foods containing DNA," roughly the same number that support the mandatory labeling of GMO foods "produced with genetic engineering." Ilya Somin, writing about the survey at the Washington Post, suggested that a mandatory label for foods containing DNA might sound like this: "WARNING: This product contains deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The Surgeon General has determined that DNA is linked to a variety of diseases in both animals and humans. In some configurations, it is a risk factor for cancer and heart disease. Pregnant women are at very high risk of passing on DNA to their children."
The report echoes a well-known joke/prank wherein people discuss the dangers of the chemical "dihydrogen monoxide" also known as hydrogen oxide and hydrogen hydroxide. Search online for information about dihydrogen monoxide, and you'll find a long list of scary-sounding and absolutely true warnings about it: the nuclear power industry uses enormous quantities of it every year. Dihydrogen monoxide is used in the production of many highly toxic pesticides, and chemical weapons banned by the Geneva Conventions. Dihydrogen monoxide is found in all tumors removed from cancer patients, and is guaranteed fatal to humans in large quantities and even small quantities can kill you, if it enters your respiratory system. In 2006, in Louisville, Kentucky, David Karem, executive director of the Waterfront Development Corporation, a public body that operates Waterfront Park, wished to deter bathers from using a large public fountain. "Counting on a lack of understanding about water's chemical makeup," he arranged for signs reading: "DANGER! – WATER CONTAINS HIGH LEVELS OF HYDROGEN – KEEP OUT" to be posted on the fountain at public expense.
247 comments | 9 hours ago
mrspoonsi writes The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is adding crash imminent braking and dynamic braking support to its list of recommended advanced safety features for new cars. The former uses sensors to activate the brakes if a crash is imminent and the driver already hasn't. Dynamic braking support, on the other hand, increases stopping power if you haven't put enough pressure on the brake pedal. Like lane-departure and front collision warning systems, these features are available on some models already — this move gives them high-profile attention, though. And for good reason: As the NHSTA tells it, a third of 2013's police-reported car accidents were the rear-end crashes and a "large number" of the drivers either didn't apply the brakes at all (what?!) or fully before impact.
283 comments | yesterday
sarahnaomi writes There sits, in the Clarendon Laboratory at Oxford University, a bell that has been ringing, nonstop, for at least 175 years. It's powered by a single battery that was installed in 1840. Researchers would love to know what the battery is made of, but they are afraid that opening the bell would ruin an experiment to see how long it will last. The bell's clapper oscillates back and forth constantly and quickly, meaning the Oxford Electric Bell, as it's called, has rung roughly 10 billion times, according to the university. It's made of what's called a "dry pile," which is one of the first electric batteries. Dry piles were invented by a guy named Giuseppe Zamboni (no relation to the ice resurfacing company) in the early 1800s. They use alternating discs of silver, zinc, sulfur, and other materials to generate low currents of electricity.
199 comments | 2 days ago
whoever57 writes: In its announcement of Windows 10, Microsoft indicated not all devices would get the updated operating system. Now, Microsoft says its Surface devices running Windows RT won't be receiving full updates, though it does plan to roll some new functionality into them. "Given that Windows RT and RT 8.1 were designed for power economizing devices sporting 32-bit ARM architecture, and never had the same functionality — to many users' frustration — as full-blown Windows 8 and 8.1, it comes as little surprise that the RT versions of the operating system should be left out of the latest update loop. In fact, a week before Microsoft's big Windows 10 reveal on January 21, the company released firmware updates for all three models of its Intel-powered Surface Pro series, but neither of the ARM-based Surface tablets — the Surface 2 or Surface RT — received any new updates this month." The Surface Pro line of tablets, which run a normal version of Windows, will be getting an update to Windows 10.
156 comments | 2 days ago
MojoKid writes NVIDIA is launching a new Maxwell desktop graphics card today, targeted at the sweet spot of the graphics card market ($200 or so), currently occupied by its previous gen GeForce GTX 760 and older GTX 660. The new GeForce GTX 960 features a brand new Maxwell-based GPU dubbed the GM206. NVIDIA was able to optimize the GM206's power efficiency without moving to a new process, by tweaking virtually every part of the GPU. NVIDIA's reference specifications for the GeForce GTX 960 call for a base clock of 1126MHz and a Boost clock of 1178MHz. The GPU is packing 1024 CUDA cores, 64 texture units, and 32 ROPs, which is half of what's inside their top-end GeForce GTX 980. The 2GB of GDDR5 memory on GeForce GTX 960 cards is clocked at a speedy 7GHz (effective GDDR5 data rate) over a 128-bit memory interface. The new GeForce GTX 960 is a low-power upgrade for gamers with GeForce GTX 660 class cards or older that make up a good percentage of the market now. It's usually faster than the previous generation GeForce GTX 760 card but, depending on the game title, can trail it as well, due to its narrower memory interface.
111 comments | 2 days ago
HughPickens.com writes Stomp on the gas in a new Ford Mustang or F-150 and you'll hear a meaty, throaty rumble — the same style of roar that Americans have associated with auto power and performance for decades. Now Drew Harwell reports at the Washington Post that the auto industry's dirty little secret is that the engine growl in some of America's best-selling cars and trucks is actually a finely tuned bit of lip-syncing, boosted through special pipes or digitally faked altogether. "Fake engine noise has become one of the auto industry's dirty little secrets, with automakers from BMW to Volkswagen turning to a sound-boosting bag of tricks," writes Harwell. "Without them, today's more fuel-efficient engines would sound far quieter and, automakers worry, seemingly less powerful, potentially pushing buyers away." For example Ford sound engineers and developers worked on an "Active Noise Control" system on the 2015 Mustang EcoBoost that amplifies the engine's purr through the car speakers. Afterward, the automaker surveyed members of Mustang fan clubs on which processed "sound concepts" they most enjoyed.
Among purists, the trickery has inspired an identity crisis and cut to the heart of American auto legend. The "aural experience" of a car, they argue, is an intangible that's just as priceless as what's revving under the hood. "For a car guy, it's literally music to hear that thing rumble," says Mike Rhynard, "It's a mind-trick. It's something it's not. And no one wants to be deceived." Other drivers ask if it really matters if the sound is fake? A driver who didn't know the difference might enjoy the thrum and thunder of it nonetheless. Is taking the best part of an eight-cylinder rev and cloaking a better engine with it really, for carmakers, so wrong? "It may be a necessary evil in the eyes of Ford," says Andrew Hard, "but it's sad to think that an iconic muscle car like the Mustang, a car famous for its bellowing, guttural soundtrack, has to fake its engine noise in 2015. Welcome to the future."
790 comments | 3 days ago
mikejuk writes: Atlas is a humanoid robot, one of the most advanced in the world. But it's always had cables that provided it with power and made it look a little like a dog on a leash. It was designed to provide a hardware platform for teams competing in the DARPA Robotics Challenge — a competition designed to encourage the construction of an effective disaster response robot. DARPA now says the finals of the challenge later in the year will require that the robots be completely wireless.
Power will be supplied by an onboard 3.7 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. That battery will drive a variable-pressure pump which operates all of the hydraulic systems. The pump makes ATLAS much quieter, but introduces a complication for the teams: it can be run at low pressure to save power and then switched to high pressure to get harder work done. Managing power consumption will be a very difficult task, but DARPA has also upped the prize money to $3.5 million in total.
19 comments | 4 days ago
mdsolar sends this report from Bloomberg:
Lawmakers in France want to create military zones around its 58 atomic reactors to boost security after this month's Paris terror attacks and almost two dozen mystery drone flights over nuclear plants that have baffled authorities.
"There's a legal void that needs to be plugged," said Claude de Ganay, the opposition member of the National Assembly spearheading legislation to be considered by parliament on Feb. 5. The proposals would classify atomic energy sites as "highly sensitive military zones" under the control of the Ministry of Defense, according to an outline provided by de Ganay.
148 comments | 4 days ago
samzenpus (5) writes "Alexander Stepanov is an award winning programmer who designed the C++ Standard Template Library. Daniel E. Rose is a programmer, research scientist, and is the Chief Scientist for Search at A9.com. In addition to working together, the duo have recently written a new book titled, From Mathematics to Generic Programming. Earlier this month you had a chance to ask the pair about their book, their work, or programming in general. Below you'll find the answers to those questions."
42 comments | about a week ago
angry tapir writes A group of Microsoft researchers has built a prototype charger for smartphones that can scan a room until it locates a mobile device compatible with the system and then charge the handset using a light beam. The researchers say they can achieve efficiency comparable to conventional wired phone chargers. The biggest barrier? Smartphones don't (yet) come with solar panels attached.
63 comments | about a week ago
dotarray (1747900) writes "Despite its glorious introduction in The Wizard, the Nintendo Power Glove was, from all accounts, a bit of a failure. However, Dillon Markey has given the doomed peripheral a new lease of life — it's a crucial part of making stop-motion animation for Robot Chicken." The linked article doesn't have many more words, but the video it features is worthwhile to see how Markey has modified the glove to make the tedious work of stop-motion a little bit less tedious.
40 comments | about a week ago
Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) writes According to top secret documents from the archive of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden seen exclusively by SPIEGEL, they are planning for wars of the future in which the Internet will play a critical role, with the aim of being able to use the net to paralyze computer networks and, by doing so, potentially all the infrastructure they control, including power and water supplies, factories, airports or the flow of money. Also check out — New Snowden documents show that the NSA and its allies are laughing at the rest of the world.
81 comments | about a week ago
Qbertino writes After a long period of evaluation and weighing cons and pros I've gotten myself a brand new Android tablet (10" Lenovo Yoga 2, Android Version) destined to be my prime mobile computing device in the future. As any respectable freedom-loving geek/computer-expert I want to root it to be able to install API spoofing libraries and security tools to give me owners power over the machine and prevent services like Google and others spying on me, my files, photos, calendar and contacts. I also want to install an ad-blocking proxy (desperately needed — I forgot how much the normal web sucks!). I've searched for some rooting advice and tools, and so far have only stumbled on shady looking sites that offer various Windows-based rooting kits for android devices.
What's the gist on all this? How much of this stuff is potential malware? What are your experiences? Can I usually trust rooting strategies to be malware-free? Is there a rule-of-thumb for this? Is there perhaps a more generic way for a FOSS/Linux expert who isn't afraid of the CLI to root any Android 4.4 (Kitkat) device? Advice and own experiences, please.
184 comments | about a week ago
HughPickens.com writes Nicola Davis writes at The Guardian that a new exhibition at London's Science Museum tiitled Churchill's Scientists aims to explore how a climate that mingled necessity with ambition spurred British scientists to forge ahead in fields as diverse as drug-discovery and operational research, paving the way for a further flurry of postwar progress in disciplines from neurology to radio astronomy. Churchill "was very unusual in that he was a politician from a grand Victorian family who was also interested in new technology and science," says Andrew Nahum. "That was quite remarkable at the time." An avid reader of Charles Darwin and HG Wells, Churchill also wrote science-inspired articles himself and fostered an environment where the brightest scientists could build ground-breaking machines, such as the Bernard Lovell telescope, and make world-changing discoveries, in molecular genetics, radio astronomy, nuclear power, nerve and brain function and robotics. "During the war the question was never, 'How much will it cost?' It was, 'Can we do it and how soon can we have it?' This left a heritage of extreme ambition and a lot of talented people who were keen to see what it could provide." (More, below.)
75 comments | about a week ago
We all love 'The Internet of Things.' Now imagine appliances, such as your refrigerator and hot water heater, getting radio messages from the power grid telling them when they should turn on and off to get the best electricity prices. Now kick that up to the electric company level, and give them a radio network that tells them which electric provider to get electricity from at what time to get the best (wholesale) price. This is what e-Radio is doing. They make this claim: "Using pre-existing and near ubiquitous radio signals can save billions of dollars, reduce environmental impact, add remote addressability and reap additional significant societal benefits."
Timothy noticed these people at CES. They were one of the least flashy and least "consumer-y" exhibitors. But saving electricity by using it efficiently, while not glamorous, is at least as important as a $6000 Android phone. Note that the guy e-Radio had at CES speaking to Timothy was Scott Cuthbertson, their Chief Financial Officer. It's a technology-driven company, from Founder and CEO Jackson Wang on down, but in the end, saving money is what they sell. (Alternate Video Link)
172 comments | about two weeks ago
ckwu writes Materials scientists have constructed round, pom-pom-like graphene microparticles by spraying graphene oxide droplets into a hot solvent—a process akin to deep-frying. The technique could provide a simple, versatile means to make electrode materials for batteries and supercapacitors, possibly leading to devices with improved energy and power densities, the researchers say. The microparticles contain graphene nanosheets radiating out from their centers, which increases the exposed surface area of the graphene and creates open nanochannels that can enhance charge transfer. Electrodes made with the graphene microspheres had higher capacitance than those made with unassembled graphene sheets, demonstrating that the 3-D structure of the particles improved performance.
49 comments | about two weeks ago
Esther Schindler writes: In this article, Robin Harris predicts what storage will be like in 2025. And, he says, the next 10 years will be the most exciting and explosive in the history of data storage. For instance: "There are several forms of [Resistive RAM], but they all store data by changing the resistance of a memory site, instead of placing electrons in a quantum trap, as flash does. RRAM promises better scaling, fast byte-addressable writes, much greater power efficiency, and thousands of times flash's endurance. RRAM's properties should enable significant architectural leverage, even if it is more costly per bit than flash is today. For example, a fast and high endurance RRAM cache would simplify metadata management while reducing write latency."
93 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes Via Eurogamer comes news of possibly the rarest of all NES games selling on the auction site Ebay for a staggering 99,000 Dollars at this time, with 4 days left to go. The game in question the 1987 NES game Stadium Events was released then pulled only 2 days later. Stadium Events was released by Bandai as a test title for its Family Fun Fitness Control Mat — an early version of the technology now found in Dance Dance Revolution floor pads. But Nintendo acquired the technology for itself, just as the game was being released. The company ordered an immediate return of all copies so the game could be rebranded with Nintendo's version of the controller mat, now named as the NES Power Pad .
138 comments | about two weeks ago
Lucas123 writes: Driven largely by oil price weakness, 2015 could be the best year to date for investments in renewable energy technology, according to several new reports. According to Bloomberg Energy Finance, new funding for wind, solar, biofuels and other low-carbon energy technologies grew 16% to $310 billion last year. It was the first growth since 2011 (PDF), erasing the impact of lower solar-panel prices and falling subsides in the U.S. and Europe that hurt the industry in previous years. Demand for solar power grew 16% year-over-year in 2014, representing 44 gigawatts of capacity purchased during the year. Worldwide solar demand in 2015 is projected to be 51.4GW, compared with 39GW in 2014. Government policies will continue to improve for renewables — solar, in particular — given that anti-dumping duties imposed on Chinese modules by the U.S. last year are expected to be removed this year, Deutsche Bank said.
134 comments | about two weeks ago
New submitter PLAR writes: Everyone's worried about the next Stuxnet sabotaging the power grid, but a security researcher says there's been a spike in traditional banking Trojan attacks against plant floor networks. The malware poses as legitimate ICS/SCADA software updates from Siemens, GE and Advantech. Kyle Wilhoit, the researcher who discovered the attacks, says the attackers appear to be after credentials and other financial information, so it looks like pure cybercrime, not nation-state activity.
34 comments | about two weeks ago