kgeiger writes "The June 2013 IEEE Spectrum has a special survey section about the forthcoming age of plenty. Advancements in computerized crop management and logistics, biotechnologies, aquaponics, and remote sensing will increase the food supply through efficient production and distribution. Improved dietary management and AI-planned recipes make better, tastier, and healthier diets. And the future of chi-chi cuisine? 3-D printed, of course." Link to Original Source top
Google Plans Wireless Networks in Emerging Markets
kgeiger writes "The next billion customers gotta come from somewhere. The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) today reports that Google will fund, deploy, and manage wireless networks in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. From TFA:
The Silicon Valley company is deep in the throes of a multipronged effort to fund, build and help run wireless networks in emerging markets such as sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, said people familiar with the strategy. The wireless networks would be available to dwellers outside of major cities where wired Internet connections aren't available and could be used to improve Internet speeds in urban centers, these people said.
kgeiger writes "Paging the Mariner: perhaps 'Waterworld' isn't so far-fetched. On the AAAS's Qualia blog Steven Edwards writes how hyperwarming would drown continents:
Greenhouse conditions of the geologic past were warm enough to melt all the world’s glaciers and icecaps, causing a sea level rise of about 100 meters. However, global sea level rise may have been more than twice that during the Cambrian and the Ordovician periods. Ed Landing, New York State Paleontologist and Curator of Paleontology, New York State Museum, has a theory to explain the extra water rise: global hyperwarming.
According to Landing, hyperwarming is a feedback effect as shallow seas overlap the continents. Shallow seas absorb sunlight and warm, and will also cause the world ocean to become warmer; there is also an increase in atmospheric water vapor with greater evaporation from the shallow seas and ocean. Water vapor is itself a potent greenhouse gas, causing yet more heating. The extremely high sea levels come about because of thermal expansion of the world ocean — a phenomenon already being detected as a result of modern anthropogenic warming." Link to Original Source top
kgeiger writes "Researchers at Taiwan's Institute of Information Science, Academia Sinica are measuring emotional reactions caught in facial expressions to determine whether a game will be addictive. From TFA:
It’s difficult to evaluate an online game’s addictiveness prior to the release, says [Researcher Seng-Wei] Chen. The gaming industry’s approach is simply based on designers’ intuition and experience and the feedback from focus groups, the latter of which could be limited and biased.
Chen’s team, composed of researchers at the institute and at the electrical engineering department of National Taiwan University, aims to help game publishers avoid risky or blind investments. Using archival game data and dozens of electromyography (EMG) experiments, they constructed a forecasting model that predicts a game’s ability to retain active players for a long time.
kgeiger writes "From TFA: "Two scientists have now developed a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that they say could [...] be an important tool for researchers who are trying to discover whether extensive cellphone use can cause brain tumors or other health problems.
The technique creates high-resolution 3-D images of the heat created by cellphone radiation absorbed in the brain. In research reported this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists demonstrate the method on cow brain matter and a gel that emulates brain tissue. But the procedure could easily be adapted for tests on human brains, says David Gultekin, a medical physicist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, in New York, who led the development of the technique."" Link to Original Source top
kgeiger writes "Voting machine designs and data formats are a free-for-all. The result is poor validation and hence opportunity for fraud. From TFA:
IEEE Standards Project 1622 is working on electronic data interchange for voting systems. The plan is to create a common format, based on the Election Markup Language (EML) already recommended for use in Europe. This is a subset of the popular XML (eXtensible Markup Language) that specifies particular fields and data structures for use in voting." Link to Original Source top
kgeiger writes "Reviving a 1980s Japanese idea, engineers at Beijing's Beihang University speculate about building an aero-levitation wheel-rail train (ALWR), Small wings mounted on carbon-fiber carriages loft the vehicle. Wheels serve as guides during cruising-speed "flight" and support the vehicle at low-speeds during station stops. The engineers also envision a low-drag sharkskin exterior to reduce drag. The design saves the expense of building and powering magnetic levitation tracks and has several built-in fail-soft features. Bonus: it looks cool, like a many-winged Chinese dragon snaking along the tracks. Better stay behind the yellow line on the boarding platform." Link to Original Source top
kgeiger writes "Intellectual Ventures has spun out Kymeta to develop and mass-produce their mTenna product line. mTennas are based on metamaterials like the invisibility cloaks discussed on Slashdot and elsewhere. Metamaterials enable beam-steering that ensures an mTenna remains in contact with satellites even during motion. Kymeta will use 'established lithographic techniques' to make them.
IMHO, these antennas may be as big a leap for mobile computing and remote communications as the invention of fractal antennas was for mobile phones." Link to Original Source top
kgeiger writes "The FCC is changing the call termination tariffs that subsidized rural wireline service and coincidentally free conference calls. Free conference call services had located their dial-in centers in rural areas to scoop up FCC tariffs from its Universal Service Fund. USF monies will go to broadband deployment instead. Be prepared to put more nickels in the box." Link to Original Source top
kgeiger writes "Remember "electric football" from the '60s and '70s? Here's the 2012 Japanese robot version. These 'bots go mano a mano and it gets brutal — parts will fly. Part Rock 'em Sock 'em, all tech. The article's video is hilarious." Link to Original Source top
kgeiger writes "Feeling blue? DARPA is funding a program to investigate the feasibility of battlefield cyborg-surrogates:
"In its 2012 budget, DARPA has decided to pour US $7 million into the 'Avatar Project' whose goal is the following: 'develop interfaces and algorithms to enable a soldier to effectively partner with a semi-autonomous bi-pedal machine and allow it to act as the soldier’s surrogate.'"
Power and bandwidth constraints aside, what could go wrong? Chinese hackers swooping in and commandeering one's army? Gives new meaning to the question "Where's Waldo?"" Link to Original Source top
kgeiger writes "Graphene enables electrons to flow more like photons. Switching speeds of 500 MHz are envisioned in graphene transistors by 2013, and faster later. More, graphene switches are easy to program as FPGAs. This survey article by Chun-Yung Sung at IBM Yorktown Heights and Ji Ung Lee at SUNY Albany presents an overview of the current state of research." Link to Original Source top
kgeiger writes "Reed Hastings ignored the advice even of his hot-tub buddy. Result — subscribers cancelled:
'On Monday, the company revealed the damage that had been done. It told investors that it ended the third quarter of the year with 800,000 fewer subscribers in the United States than in the previous quarter, its first decline in years. The stock plummeted more than 25 percent in after-hours trading.'" Link to Original Source top
kgeiger writes "The WSJ and other outlets report Ford Motor's formal plans to deploy a three-cylinder, turbo-charged "Ecoboost" engine. About the length of a legal-sized piece of paper (14 in or 36 cm), the 97 kg motor generates 88 kW (118 HP) per liter of displacement. The 1 liter engine produces the same power as current 1.6 l engines. It uses a cast-iron block to retain heat. The new motor wil be featured in Ford's Focus line of world cars." Link to Original Source top
kgeiger writes "Stunned by the overwhelming demand for TouchPads at firesale prices, H-P has ordered another production run. The Wall Street Journal reports H-P lost $207 on every unit sold; perhaps they hope to make up the loss on volume. From the article: 'The decision to manufacture a second run, however, left analysts scratching their heads. The introductory model of the TouchPad costs $306 to manufacture, according to an estimate from research firm IHS iSuppli, suggesting a loss of roughly two-thirds if it is sold for $99.'" Link to Original Source top
kgeiger writes "The Wall Street Journal reviews a new book about Easter Island. Contrary to Jared Diamond's 2005 book Collapse, Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo's The Statues that Walked (Free Press, 2011) posits that brown rats deforested Rapa Nui, that slavers decimated the population, and that the phosphate-poor soils limited both agriculture and population. Because palm trees are soft and fibrous, they make poor rollers; the moai were in fact "walked" into position the same way one person can move a heavy, upright refrigerator by rocking and shifting it." Link to Original Source top
kgeiger writes "The Sprite project is testing the feasibility of chip-sized spacecraft. The project's goal is to deploy true "smart dust" comprising 5 to 50 mg, single-sensor spacecraft capable of forming deep-space sensor arrays." Link to Original Source top
kgeiger writes "John J. Chapman, a physicist and electronics engineer at NASA’s Langley Research Center, envisions a laser-pumped fusion drive. Chapman estimates the drive can produce thrust 40 times more efficiently than existing ion engines such as those on the Dawn mission now exploring the asteroid belt." Link to Original Source top
kgeiger writes "In the March 2011 Wired (no link yet; now out in print), Adam Fisher's article "Faster" revists and explains how Rick Cavallaro and team went Directly Downwind Faster Than The Wind. A lovely side panel explains Cavallaro's insight into how the Blackbird works.
In short, a sailboat relies on forces between keel and sail to generate motive force. The Blackbird's wheels act similarly. Once the vehicle's velocity exceeds wind speed, the wheels drive the prop. The spinning blades then behave like true sails, and the wind's force transfers to the car via the mast holding the prop assembly overhead." Link to Original Source