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The Big Bang By Balloon

necro81 Re:Why let it crash? (23 comments)

Another Antarctic balloon experiment, BLAST, was designed for re-usability. On its third flight, the parachute failed to properly detach, and ended up dragging the telescope for more than 100 miles across the ice, mostly destroying it.

This doesn't mean that one shouldn't try to recover and reuse experiments, but it does present new program-level risks.

The answer as to "why don't they?" could be as prosaic as: they didn't get funding for a multi-year, multi-launch program, or couldn't squeeze the reusability and refurbishment into their program budget.

(For those interested, that third mission was the subject of a neat documentary film.)

yesterday
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The Big Bang By Balloon

necro81 Re:Ozone Hole (23 comments)

The ozone hole affects UV absorption. Spider operates in the microwave spectrum where ozone (or its absence) does not play a significant effect.

Water vapor plays a much, much greater role in those wavelengths, and the Antarctic atmosphere is about as good at it gets in that regard.

yesterday
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Senator Who Calls STEM Shortage a Hoax Appointed To Head Immigration

necro81 Re:No way! (512 comments)

If there was any justice and sense to the English Language, "common sense" would be a curse word and shunned in polite conversation. Politicians, especially, have bastardized the use of the term for their own ends such that it hardly has any meaning aside from doublespeak.

I find this to be a fun game to play: anytime a politician starts talking about "common sense," replace it in your head with some sort of expletive. My preference is "Fucking Shite", as in

We need Fucking Shite solutions to our problems, not political speeches meant to ignite class warfare

-Rep Martha Roby, (R-AL)

This makes looking through a copy of Thomas Paine's pamphlet on the subject particularly amusing.

about a week ago
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The Camera That Changed the Universe

necro81 Re:It was the press coverage that was the disaster (76 comments)

I recall reading about the mirror when it was being made, the precision with which it was polished was mind bogglingly accurate

Be careful how you use the terms "precision" and "accuracy," because they have very specific meanings to engineers and metrologists. Yes, the precision was mind-boggling. The accuracy, on the other hand, well...

about a week ago
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The Camera That Changed the Universe

necro81 Re:It was the press coverage that was the disaster (76 comments)

Despite the slight change in the curvature of the main mirror, Hubble's images were pretty amazing

Amazing maybe, but far below what was promised. There isn't any way to gloss over the fact that the project managed to screw up the single most important component in the telescope. The mirror ended flawed and in orbit not because it was too technically challenging, but because of arrogance, sloppiness, and poor oversight. The taxpayers have a right - even today - to be pretty steamed about it.

Imagine if someone sold you a sportscar, promising it would handle like a dream and hit 200 mph on the straightaway. When you finally receive it and test it out, it shimmies like a banshee and can only manage 100 mph. When you call to complain about it, you find out that during construction, the technicians got drunk one night, ground the cam shaft wrong, and left out one piston. The company sold it to you anyway, not because they were trying to cover anything up, but that they simply didn't know anything was wrong, because they'd never bothered to test drive it before shipping it. Your argument is that we should still have been happy to have it because it's better than the Honda Civic we were used to driving. And, given the etymology of the word , "disaster" is a good choice.

about a week ago
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New Advance Confines GMOs To the Lab Instead of Living In the Wild

necro81 Re:God Creates Dinosaur (130 comments)

Turn in your geek card. It actually goes...

God creates Dinosaurs
God destroys Dinosaurs
God creates Man
Man destroys God
Man creates Dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs eat Man, Woman inherits the Earth.

about a week ago
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DARPA Wants Atlas Robot To Go Wireless

necro81 For Comparison (19 comments)

A typical laptop battery maxes out at 100 Whr capacity. (Above 100 Whr gets problematic with shipping and air travel regulations.) So picture a stack of about 40 laptop battery packs - that's what Atlas' will be lugging around. In the videos, you can see a large briefcase-like box on the back.

about two weeks ago
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UK ISPs EE, Virgin and Vodafone Back Net Neutrality

necro81 Kneejerk reaction (36 comments)

If the ISPs and telecoms are for it, then I'm against it.

Down with Net Neutrality! Damn them all to hell!

Wait, what were we talking about?

about two weeks ago
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Obama Planning New Rules For Oil and Gas Industry's Methane Emissions

necro81 Re:B-but externalized costs don't real! (202 comments)

Simply changing EPA rules by Presidential decree is dictatorial

The EPA is empowered, by Congress, to make such rules. The EPA falls under the executive branch, and so takes direction from the President, within the broad legislative mandate to protect the environment. In any event, the President hasn't actually issued new rules by decree - he's got certain goals, and has set the EPA to the task of actually drafting the rules and regulations through their normal process (which, for better or worse, includes lawsuits).

A President can't drop such regulations by decree, because that would violate the EPA's mandate and other existing laws enacted for the environment.

about two weeks ago
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NASA Update Will Deal With Opportunity Flash Memory "Amnesia"

necro81 Re:FRAM vs NAND (52 comments)

I did a bit of reading on the subject from TI, which has FRAM integrated into some of its MSP430 microcontrollers. If anything, the technology seems to be well-suited to the space environment, because bit storage is accomplished via a crystal structure change (polarization), rather than through charge storage.

about three weeks ago
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NASA Update Will Deal With Opportunity Flash Memory "Amnesia"

necro81 Re:FRAM vs NAND (52 comments)

I'm a huge fan of FRAM

That may be, but it wasn't exactly an option (in the sense of it being readily available and thoroughly tested for spaceflight) when the rovers were being designed 15 years ago. Is it even an option today?

about three weeks ago
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Gun Rights Hacktivists To Fab 3D-Printed Guns At State Capitol

necro81 Re:Thanks, assholes (573 comments)

I believe that there is one very high end 3D printer that has made metal weapons that work very well

That weapon was made using a DLMS (direct laser metal sintering) machine, which fuses metal powder using a powerful laser. This kind of machine goes for upwards of $1million, and isn't exactly turnkey. (I know: my company has one, and although it's amazing, it tends to not produce a usable copy of a new part until the 2nd of 3rd try.) Plus, it required a fair bit of post-machining.

Your example reinforces my point - if you want a "reliable and somewhat accurate weapon", you use metal, and metal rapid prototypers are not hobbyist equipment, and may not ever be. Plus, even if it were, you still need a reasonably well-equipped machine shop to finish the metal parts and assemble a working gun.

about three weeks ago
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In Daring Plan, Tomorrow SpaceX To Land a Rocket On Floating Platform

necro81 Re:That's not the approach you want to take for Ma (151 comments)

Do a powered descent with the Dragon Capsule, and return to orbit with Dragon under its own power to rendezvous with the upper stage that will bring it back to Earth

Dragon does not have enough fuel to both land and launch again. SpaceX hasn't demonstrated that it has sufficient capacity to even do a powered landing. I'm not saying itcan't, but you can't look at a Dragon capsule and consider it a vehicle capable of powering itself to orbital launch velocity, even on Mars.

about three weeks ago
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Gun Rights Hacktivists To Fab 3D-Printed Guns At State Capitol

necro81 Re:Thanks, assholes (573 comments)

3D printers will allow anyone to print a reliable and somewhat accurate weapon cheaply one day. At the moment they are still expensive, but won't stay that way for long

The notion of a "reliable and somewhat accurate weapon" coming from a $2,000 FDM (fused deposition modeling, i.e., plastic extruder) is laughable and drastically oversells the ability of the technology. Oh, sure, you can produce a gun today that'll kill someone, but don't expect 3D printers to enable the next Continental Army.

Perhaps a gunsmith could say otherwise, but my understanding is that a "reliable and somewhat accurate weapon" requires metal. 3D printing of metal is going to stay expensive for a long time, maybe for good, if only because the power it takes to sinter/melt metal is high and isn't going down. A 40-kW laser in every tinkerer's basement isn't likely. I've seen FDM-like metal printers that are more or less wire welders on an XYZ base, but the results leave much to be desired. Even then, a printed metal part will still need a decent amount of post-machining, in which case you may be better off fab'ing your gun from solid stock.

(I use 3D printing (FDM, SLS, DLMS) in my day-to-day job, have experience with hobbyist 3D printers)

about three weeks ago
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Hubble Takes Amazing New Images of Andromeda, Pillars of Creation

necro81 Re:Extending the life of Hubble... (97 comments)

In what way aren't they capable?

Well, the big one I can see is that they lack an airlock for EVAs. They also lack a cargo bay for bringing up tools and replacement parts. Lastly, they don't have a remote manipulator like the shuttle's arm, which was an essential tool for the servicing missions - first for capturing and positioning the telescope, then for moving the astronauts around.

With several launches, you could put together an orbiting service platform that contains these things. Unless things change greatly, however, the cost of putting together such a platform approaches the cost of building a whole new telescope!

I'm sure that we'll get there eventually (a LEO servicing platform), if only because fixing satellites could be a genuine business venture, but I don't think it'll happen within Hubble's remaining life.

about three weeks ago
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In Daring Plan, Tomorrow SpaceX To Land a Rocket On Floating Platform

necro81 Re:Other planets (151 comments)

Easier on Mars, because you generally don't have to worry about strong winds. The gravity is lower, so it requires less thrust. For some rocket engines, this is actually difficult, because you have a limited throttle range; the Merlin engines have been designed for this.

Also in your favor on Mars, your landing pad isn't pitching up and down on waves. On the other hand, the ground is not necessarily a smooth, flat, level pad. SpaceX has demonstrated the ability to hover, so as long as you have decent fuel reserves, you should be able to spend some time searching for a good spot.

However, in the case of using this technology to land on Mars, there is a significant difference: you would be using it to land a rocket (first stage and all) on the planet after having done a long coast from Earth and a violent re-entry. That is definitely more difficult than returning a first stage to the ground after lift off.

about three weeks ago
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The Missing Piece of the Smart Home Revolution: The Operating System

necro81 Re:The article (252 comments)

I read the whole article (yes, heresy) and the author doesn't even know what an operating system is.

The author lost a lot of credibility when he (she? the name is Dylan, which is slightly ambiguous as a first name) included this gem:

Nest has since released an intelligent CO2 detector, called Nest Protect.

Nest Protect is, first and foremost, a smoke detector / fire alarm. It can also monitor for carbon monoxide, but the author apparently failed high school chemistry.

about three weeks ago
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After 40 Years As a Double Amputee, Man Gains Two Bionic Arms

necro81 Re:Electrical Accident? (66 comments)

I'm having a hard time imagining an electrical accident that would make you lose both your arms yet not kill you.

I'm sure it did kill him, in the sense that it stopped his heart. Apparently, however, death was just a temporary condition.

about a month and a half ago
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Officer Not Charged In Michael Brown Shooting

necro81 Re:Flip Argument (1128 comments)

I don't really know - I wasn't there, and the other party is dead

This is one of the real problems I have with "Stand Your Ground" laws, like the one in Florida that allowed George Zimmerman to escape charges in the death of Trayvon Martin. It doesn't even boil down to a "he said, he said" kind of argument - conflicting accounts of what happened, like some bad replay of Rashomon . Instead, it's "he said, and the other guy's dead," which doesn't sound like a good way to get at the truth, let alone justice.

("Stand Your Ground" is a somewhat different situation than cops shooting subjects, or Castle Doctrine laws involving one's own home. The situation is the same - one guy's dead - but the context of who did the shooting and where provide more latitude.)

about 2 months ago
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Corning Reveals Gorilla Glass 4, Promises No More Broken IPhones

necro81 Re:If they can only make the GLUE 10x weaker (203 comments)

For what it's worth, iPhone screens can be replaced by removing screws. It still takes some skill, and is easier if you have a suction-cup tool, but does not involve adhesive.

For instance: iPhone 6 teardown

about 2 months ago

Submissions

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Networked Gadgets Waste 400 Terawatt-Hours of Energy Every Year

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about 6 months ago

necro81 (917438) writes "IEEE Spectrum reports: "Your Xbox wastes a lot of energy—energy that could power the entire United Kingdom. Well, it's not just your Xbox, but your Xbox and my printer and your friend's television and 14 billion other networked electronic devices around the world....

"The International Energy Agency (IEA) has released a new report on just how much power all those networked devices use...[t]he results are amazing: network-enabled devices in homes and offices around the world consumed 616 terawatt-hours in 2013, and 65 percent of that (400 TWh) could have been saved simply by using technology that exists today."

It's a problem of design: even though it's technologically straightforward to design products for better energy consumption, with little incremental cost, there's no incentive for a designer to do so. It's not their electricity going to waste, after all."

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Luke Prosthetic Arm approved by FDA

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about 9 months ago

necro81 (917438) writes "The FDA today approved the Luke prosthetic arm for sale. The Luke Arm, created by Dean Kamen's DEKA R&D Corp., was a project initiated by DARPA to develop a prosthetic arm for wounded warriors more advanced than those previously available. The Arm can be configured for below-the-elbow, above-the-elbow, and shoulder-level amputees. The full arm has 10 powered degrees of freedom and has the look and weight of the arm it replaces. (more info here) Through trials by DEKA and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Arm has been used by dozens of amputees for a total of many thousands of hours. Commercialization is still pending."
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Megatons to Megawatts Program Comes to a Close

necro81 necro81 writes  |  1 year,2 days

necro81 (917438) writes "In the aftermath of the Cold War, the disintegrating Soviet Union had tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and tons of weapons-grade fissile material. In the economic and political turmoil, many feared that it would fall into unfriendly hands. However, thanks to the doggedness of an MIT professor, Dr. Thomas Neff, 500 metric tons of weapons grade material made its way into nuclear reactors in the United States through the Megatons to Megawatts program. During the program, about 10% of all electricity generated in the U.S came weapons once aimed at the country. Now, after nearly 20 years, the program is coming to an end as the final shipment of Soviet-era uranium, now nuclear fuel, arrived in Baltimore."
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Inventor of AK-47 Dies at 94

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about a year ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Lt. Gen. Mikhail T. Kalashnikov, an arms designer for the Soviet Union, creator of the AK-47, passed away today at age 94. Kalashnikov was born a peasant and entered the Soviet Army as a conscript. However, the self-taught tinkerer had an aptitude that took him far. The AK-47, his best-known creation, was praised for its reliability and low cost; attributes that have made it the most successful firearm ever, seeing use in homeland defense, rebellion, terrorism, and untold massacres. The inventor was himself ambivalent about the uses his creation had seen, but was nevertheless proud of his contribution to his country, where he is praised as a hero."
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Another Casualty of Typhoon Haiyan: Geothermal Power

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about a year ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Little known even in environmental circles is a renewable energy success story: five geothermal power plants on Leyte Island in the Philippines — each of which producing enough power for the entire island — that collectively produce more than 10% of the Philippines total electrical demand. From boreholes deep underground comes pressurized water heated to 280 Celcius. At the surface it flashes into steam, turning one set of turbines, then cools and contracts to spin a second set of turbines. The low-grade steam is then condensed back into water and reinjected into the bedrock. But Typhoon Haiyan destroyed the cooling towers, snapped transmission towers, and scattered the employees."
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MAVEN mission to Mars will proceed, despite shutdown

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about a year ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Due to the ongoing shutdown of the U.S. Government, NASA is largely grounded. This is bad for all kinds of reasons, but one particularly bad outcome would have been missing the launch window for the MAVEN spacecraft, due to launch 18 November. The next launch window would not have been until 2016. MAVEN, thankfully, has been given the go-ahead, in large part because this orbiter will serve as a vital communications link for the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers currently on the surface. Currently, these rovers are served by two aging orbiters: Mars Odyssey (launched 2001) and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (launched 2005). Maintaining communications with the rovers is considered essential, hence the preparations and launch will proceed. (NASA's official mission website is currently offline.)"
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MAVEN mission to Mars will proceed, despite shutdown

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about a year ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Due to the ongoing shutdown of the U.S. Government, NASA is largely grounded. This is bad for all kinds of reasons, but one particularly bad outcome would have been missing the launch window for the MAVEN spacecraft, due to launch 18 November. The next launch window would not have been until 2016. MAVEN, thankfully, has been given the go-ahead, in large part because this orbiter will serve as a vital communications link for the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers currently on the surface. Currently, these rovers are served by two aging orbiters: Mars Odyssey (launched 2001) and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (launched 2005). Maintaining communications with the rovers is considered essential, hence the preparations and launch will proceed. (NASA's official mission website is currently offline.)"
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Link Rot and the U.S. Supreme Court

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about a year ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Hyperlinks are not forever. Link rot occurs when a source you've linked to no longer exists — or worse, exists in a different state than when the link was originally made. Even permalinks aren't necessarily permanent if a domain goes silent or switches ownership. According to new research from Harvard Law, some 49% of hyperlinks in Supreme Court documents no longer point to the correct original content. A second studyon link rot from Yale stresses that for the Court footnotes, citations, parenthetical asides, and historical context mean as much as the text of an opinion itself, which makes link rot a threat to future scholarship."
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Apple's New TouchID - Breakthrough or Disaster?

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about a year ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Apple isn't the first company to integrate a fingerprint reader into a cellphone. But with the introduction of TouchID into the home button of the new iPhone 5S, Apple has thrust the technology front and center, and made a big gamble in the process. Will users accept it? Will other companies follow? What happens if the false positive/false negative rates are too high? Without an open and inspectable protocol, we have to take Apple at its word that the fingerprint data exist only in the sensor and the (local) processor; no APIs for third-party access have been announced. Is this an acceptable security model? If it's an awful model, is it at least better than the alternative (passcodes, or nothing at all)?"
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Transporting a 15-m, 600-ton Magnet Cross Country

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about a year and a half ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Although its Tevatron particle accelerator has gone dark, Fermi Laboratory outside Chicago is still doing physics. A new experiment, called muon g-2 will investigate quantum mechanical behavior of the electron's heavier sibling: the muon. Fermi needs a large ring chamber to store the muons it produces and investigates, and it just so happens that Brookhaven National Laboratory outside NYC has one to spare. But how do you transport a delicate, 15-m diameter, 600-ton superconducting magnet halfway across the country? Very carefully."
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Fukushima cooling knocked offline by...a rat

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about 2 years ago

necro81 (917438) writes "The cooling system at the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, responsible for keeping the spent fuel pools at an appropriate temperature, lost power early on March 18th. During the blackout, the temperature in the spent fuel pools gradually increased, although TEPCO officials indicated the pools could warm for four days without risking radiation release. Power was restored earlier this morning, and the pools should be back to normal temperature in a few days. During the repairs the charred remains of a rat were found in a critical area of wiring, leading some to believe that this rodent was the cause of this latest problem. At least it wasn't a mynock — then we'd really be in trouble."
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Towards a 50% Efficient Solar Cell

necro81 necro81 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

necro81 (917438) writes "IEEE Spectrum magazine has a feature article describing DARPA-funded work towards developing a solar cell that's 50% efficient, for a finished module that's 40% efficient — suitable for charging a soldier's gadgets in the field. Conventional silicon and thin-film PV tech can hit cell efficiencies of upwards of 20%, with finished modules hovering in the teens. Triple-junction cells can top 40%, but are expensive to produce and not practical in most applications. Current work by the Very High Efficiency Solar Cell program uses optics (dichroic films) to concentrate incoming sunlight by 20-200x, and split it into constituent spectra, which fall on many small solar cells of different chemistries, each tuned to maximize the conversion of different wavelengths."
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US Supreme Court rules against Warantless GPS Trac

necro81 necro81 writes  |  about 3 years ago

necro81 (917438) writes "In a rare 9-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled (PDF) in United States v. Jones that law enforcement needed to obtain a search warrant before installing a GPS tracker on a suspect's car, then monitoring the car's movements. The Court split 5-4, however, on the scope of the ruling, and ruled largely on the fact that they installed the tracker on the defendant's private property (a car), sidestepping much larger questions about pervasive police tracking using GPS, cameras, and cellphones."
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HPV Vaccine Recommended for Boys

necro81 necro81 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

necro81 (917438) writes "An advisory committee to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will soon issue new recommendations that pre-adolescent boys be vaccinated against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The disease is sexually transmitted, endemic in the sexually active, can cause genital warts in both men and women, and is the primary cause of cervical cancer, which kills hundreds of thousands of women globally each year. The three-dose vaccination has been available for several years and already recommended for pre-adolescent girls. Vaccinating boys should further reduce transmission"
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Integrating Capacitors into Car Frames

necro81 necro81 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

necro81 (917438) writes "It has long been recognized that adding capacitors in parallel with batteries can improve the performance of hybrid and electric vehicles by accepting and supplying spikes of power, which reduces stress on the battery pack, extending range and improving cycle life. But where to put them, when batteries already compete for space? A new research prototype from Imperial College London has integrated them into the body panels and structural frame of the vehicle itself. In their prototype, carbon fiber serves as both the structure for the vehicle and electrode for the energy storage sandwiched within."
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Capturing Solar Power with Antennae

necro81 necro81 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Researchers at the University of Missouri and the Idaho National Laboratory have demonstrated a new method of capturing solar power. Rather than using semiconductors to capture photons of sunlight, they fabricated small coiled antennae (several um square) that resonate with the wave nature of light. The antennae are tuned towards midrange infrared light (5-10 um), which is abundant on our cozy-warm Earth — even at night. They also demonstrated a way to imprint these coils on a substrate, like how CDs or vinyl records are produced, but could be scaled to roll-to-roll mass production. The usual caveat applies: it may be 5-10 years until this could hit the market."
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Cisco to Close Flip Camera Unit

necro81 necro81 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

necro81 (917438) writes "When the Flip video camera arrived on the scene a few years ago, it made a splash. Compared to its camcorder brethren, it was smaller, lighter, easier, and cheaper. It was a much ballyhooed touchstone of the Good Enough Revolution. Competitors rushed in; the Flip evolved. Now the Flip is seeing its last days. Cisco, which bought Flip for more than $500 million just two years ago, will close Flip down as part of a money-saving restructuring. The ubiquity video-capable smartphones and pocket cameras has largely eliminated the Flip's niche market."
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Segway Company Owner Dies While Driving A Segway

necro81 necro81 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

necro81 (917438) writes "Jimi Heselden, the British multi-millionaire defense contractor and philanthropist, who bought the Segway company last December from inventor Dean Kamen, died yesterday after an accident while riding one of the machines. While using a ruggedized X2 version of the two-wheeled balancing scooter at his estate in North Yorkshire, he apparently drove over the edge of a precipice and into the River Wharfe. He was found later by a passerby and declared dead on the scene."
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Ted Stevens and Sean O'Keefe in plane crash

necro81 necro81 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

necro81 (917438) writes "The NY Times is reporting that former Senator Ted Stevens was aboard a small plane with eight others that crashed in remote southwest Alaska Monday night. Reuters is reporting that he died, along with at least four others. Meanwhile, the North American CEOof aerospace firm EADS and former NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe was was also reported in the crash. Rescue crews from the Alaska Air National Guard reached the site about ten hours after the initial crash."

Journals

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necro81 necro81 writes  |  more than 7 years ago http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/04/06/036222

Just bookmarking the 5 minutes of fame that the Cool Robot got here on slashdot.

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