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Archive for October, 2012

NASA Teams To Build Gyroscopes 1,000X More Sensitive Than Current Systems

October 31st, 2012 10:31 admin View Comments

Government

coondoggie writes “NASA today said it would work with a team of researchers on a three-year, $1.8 project to build gyroscope systems that are more than 1,000 times as sensitive as those in use today. The Fast Light Optical Gyroscope project will marry researchers from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center; the US Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center and Northwestern University to develop gyroscopes that could find their way into complex spacecraft, aircraft, commercial vehicles or ships in the future.”

Source: NASA Teams To Build Gyroscopes 1,000X More Sensitive Than Current Systems

In Time For Halloween: 9 New Tarantula Species Discovered

October 31st, 2012 10:07 admin View Comments

Idle

Damien1972 writes “If you suffer from acute arachnophobia, this is the perfect Halloween discovery for you: a spider expert has discovered nine new species of arboreal tarantulas in the Brazil. Although tarantula diversity is highest in the Amazon rain-forest, the new species are all found in lesser-known Brazilian ecosystems like the Atlantic Forest and the cerrado.”

Source: In Time For Halloween: 9 New Tarantula Species Discovered

Ask Slashdot: The Search For the Ultimate Engineer’s Pen

October 31st, 2012 10:21 admin View Comments

Technology

First time accepted submitter Laser Dan writes “I’m an engineer (robotics) who can’t seem to find a pen that satisfies me. Most of my writing is just temporary “thinking notes” on random bits of paper, like diagrams, flowcharts, equations etc, but pens always seem to have one or more of the following issues:

1. They write too thickly — I write very small, and when I start adding extra details to diagrams it gets even smaller. A line width of about 0.2-0.4mm would be good.

2. The ink bleeds, making the lines thick and unclear.

3. The ink is slow to dry or the tip grows blobs of ink, causing smudges everywhere.

4. The first line drawn is not fully dark, as the ink takes a short distance to get going.

5. The lines drawn are faint unless you press hard (I don’t).

I have been given several fancy pens (Parker etc) over the years but they all suffered from problems 1, 3 (blobs), 4 and 5. I’m considering trying a Fisher space pen, but it looks like even the fine cartridge writes rather thickly. Have any fellow Slashdotters found their ultimate pen?”

Source: Ask Slashdot: The Search For the Ultimate Engineer’s Pen

Physicist Explains Cthulhu’s “Non-Euclidean Geometry”

October 31st, 2012 10:02 admin View Comments

HP

An anonymous reader writes “Mathematician Benjamin K. Tippett has written a fascinating and deadpan paper (Pdf) giving insights into Cthulhu. A ‘Bubble’ of warped Space-Time makes alarmingly consistent sense of the dead God’s cyclopean city under the sea. From the paper: ‘We calculate the type of matter which would be required to generate such exotic spacetime curvature. Unfortunately, we determine that the required matter is quite unphysical, and possess a nature which is entirely alien to all of the experiences of human science. Indeed, any civilization with mastery over such matter would be able to construct warp drives, cloaking devices, and other exotic geometries required to conveniently travel through the cosmos.’”

Source: Physicist Explains Cthulhu’s “Non-Euclidean Geometry”

Watson Goes To Medical School

October 31st, 2012 10:20 admin View Comments

IBM

First time accepted submitter Kwyj1b0 writes “I.B.M’s Watson is headed to the Cleavland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University for training. Clinicians and students will answer and correct Watson’s questions, in an attempt to crowdsource its education. From the article: ‘“Hopefully, we can contribute to the training of this technology,” said Dr. James K. Stoller, chairman of the Education Institute at Cleveland Clinic. The goal, he added, was for Watson to become a “very smart assistant.” Part of Watson’s training will be to feed it test questions from the United States Medical Licensing Exam, which every human student must pass to become a practicing physician. The benefit for Watson should be to have a difficult but measurable set of questions on which to measure the progress of its machine-learning technology.’”

Source: Watson Goes To Medical School

Self-Driving Car Faces Off Against Pro On Thunderhill Racetrack

October 31st, 2012 10:37 admin View Comments

AI

Hugh Pickens writes “Rachel Swaby reports that a self-driving car and a seasoned race-car driver recently faced off at Northern California’s three-mile Thunderhill Raceway loop. The autonomous vehicle is a creation from the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford (CARS). ‘We tried to model [the self-driving car] after what we’ve learned from the best race-car drivers,’ says Chris Gerdes (who talks more about the development of autonomous cars in this TED talk). So who won? Humans, of course. But only by a few measly seconds. ‘What the human drivers do is consistently feel out the limits of the car and push it just a little bit farther,’ explained Gerdes. ‘When you look at what the car is capable of and what humans achieve, that gap is really actually small.’ Because the self-driving car reacts to the track as if it were controlled in real time by a human, a funny thing happens to passengers along for the ride. Initially, when the car accelerates to 115 miles per hour and then breaks just in time to make it around a curve, the person riding shotgun freaks out. But a second lap looks very different. Passengers tend to relax, putting their faith in the automatically spinning wheel. ‘We might have a tendency to put too much confidence in it,’ cautioned Gerdes. ‘Watching people experience it, they’ll say, oh, that was flawless.’ Gerdes reaction: ‘Wait wait! This was developed by a crazy professor and graduate students!’”

Source: Self-Driving Car Faces Off Against Pro On Thunderhill Racetrack

Flexible Circuits By the Slice

October 31st, 2012 10:15 admin View Comments

Science

MTorrice writes “Researchers have demonstrated a way to make high performance, flexible integrated circuits using almost exclusively standard equipment and materials already needed to make conventional chips. Such a method could allow electronics manufacturers to build new devices, such as smart medical implants and flexible displays, without needing to significantly overhaul current production protocols. The method, developed by researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, started with researchers patterning integrated circuits on silicon wafers using a standard production line. They then cut off the top 20 to 30 micrometers of the wafer using a thin wire—like slicing a block of cheese—to produce a thin, flexible platter of circuits.”

Source: Flexible Circuits By the Slice

Wireless Power Over Distance: Just a Parlor Trick?

October 31st, 2012 10:56 admin View Comments

Power

Lucas123 writes “Companies like U.S.-based WiTricity and China-based 3DVOX Technology claim patents and products to wirelessly powering anything from many feet away — from smart phones and televisions to electric cars by using charging pads embedded in concrete. But more than one industry standards group promoting magnetic induction and short-distance resonance wireless charging say such technology is useless; Charging anything at distances greater than the diameter of a magnetic coil is an inefficient use of power. For example, Menno Treffers, chairman of the Wireless Power Consortium, says you can broadcast wireless power over six feet, but the charge received will be less than 10% of the source. WiTricity and 3DVOX, however, are fighting those claims with demonstrations showing their products are capable of resonating the majority of source power.”

Source: Wireless Power Over Distance: Just a Parlor Trick?

Court Rules Website Terms of Service Agreement Completely Invalid

October 31st, 2012 10:14 admin View Comments

The Internet

another random user sends this excerpt from Business Insider: “In January, hackers got hold of 24 million Zappos customers’ email addresses and other personal information. Some of those customers have been suing Zappos, an online shoes and clothing retailer that’s owned by Amazon.com. Zappos wants the matter to go into arbitration, citing its terms of service. The problem: A federal court just ruled that agreement completely invalid. So Zappos will have to go to court—or more likely settle to avoid those legal costs. Here’s how Zappos screwed up, according to Eric Goldman, a law professor and director of Santa Clara University’s High Tech Law Institute: It put a link to its terms of service on its website, but didn’t force customers to click through to it.”

Source: Court Rules Website Terms of Service Agreement Completely Invalid

Linus Torvalds Advocates For 2560×1600 Standard Laptop Displays

October 31st, 2012 10:55 admin View Comments

Displays

beeudoublez points out a Google+ post by Linus Torvalds arguing that today’s standard laptop display resolution is unreasonably low. He said, “…with even a $399 tablet doing 2560×1600 pixel displays, can we please just make that the new standard laptop resolution? Even at 11″? Please. Stop with the ‘retina’ crap, just call it ‘reasonable resolution.’ The fact that laptops stagnated ten years ago (and even regressed, in many cases) at around half that in both directions is just sad. I still don’t want big luggable laptops, but that 1366×768 is so last century.”

Source: Linus Torvalds Advocates For 2560×1600 Standard Laptop Displays

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