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Posts Tagged ‘system’

Petition For Metric In US Halfway To Requiring Response From the White House

January 6th, 2013 01:02 admin View Comments

United States

fsterman writes “Without any prompting from the US Metric Association, a We The People petition to standardize the US on the metric system has received 13,000 signatures in six days. That’s half the number needed for an official response from the White House. It looks like ending the US’s anti-metric alliance with Liberia and Burma (the only other countries NOT on the US metric system) might rank up there with building a death star.”

Source: Petition For Metric In US Halfway To Requiring Response From the White House

What ‘Negative Temperature’ Really Means

January 5th, 2013 01:02 admin View Comments

Science

On Friday we discussed news of researchers getting a quantum gas to go below absolute zero. There was confusion about exactly what that meant, and several commenters pointed out that negative temperatures have been achieved before. Now, Rutgers physics grad student Aatish Bhatia has written a comprehensible post for the layman about how negative temperatures work, and why they’re not actually “colder” than absolute zero. Quoting: “…you first need to engineer a system that has an upper limit to its energy. This is a very rare thing – normal, everyday stuff that we interact with has kinetic energy of motion, and there is no upper bound to how much kinetic energy it can have. Systems with an upper bound in energy don’t want to be in that highest energy state. …these systems have low entropy in (i.e. low probability of being in) their high energy state. You have to experimentally ‘trick’ the system into getting here. This was first done in an ingenious experiment by Purcell and Pound in 1951, where they managed to trick the spins of nuclei in a crystal of Lithium Fluoride into entering just such an unlikely high energy state. In that experiment, they maintained a negative temperature for a few minutes. Since then, negative temperatures have been realized in many experiments, and most recently established in a completely different realm, of ultracold atoms of a quantum gas trapped in a laser.”

Source: What ‘Negative Temperature’ Really Means

Dutch Gov’t Offers Guidance For Responsible Disclosure Practices

January 4th, 2013 01:47 admin View Comments

Security

An anonymous reader sends this quote from an IDG News report: “The Dutch government’s cyber security center has published guidelines (in Dutch) that it hopes will encourage ethical hackers to disclose security vulnerabilities in a responsible way. The person who discovers the vulnerability should report it directly and as soon as possible to the owner of the system in a confidential manner, so the leak cannot be abused by others. Furthermore, the ethical hacker will not use social engineering techniques, nor install a backdoor or copy, modify or delete data from the system, the NCSC specified. Alternatively a hacker could make a directory listing in the system, the guidelines said. Hackers should also refrain from altering the system and not repeatedly access the system. Using brute-force techniques to access a system is also discouraged, the NCSC said. The ethical hacker further has to agree that vulnerabilities will only be disclosed after they are fixed and only with consent of the involved organization. The parties can also decide to inform the broader IT community if the vulnerability is new or it is suspected that more systems have the same vulnerability, the NCSC said.”

Source: Dutch Gov’t Offers Guidance For Responsible Disclosure Practices

Researchers Create Vomiting Robot To Analyze Contagions

January 3rd, 2013 01:36 admin View Comments

Medicine

iComp points out an interesting project in Derbyshire, northern England. “Bioboffins at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Derbyshire, UK, have developed a robot that can projectile vomit on command as a tool for studying the spread of the highly infectious norovirus. Reuters reports that the hyperemetic droid has been dubbed ‘Vomiting Larry‘ by its creator, researcher Catherine Makison, who describes it as a ‘humanoid simulated vomiting system.’ The goal of said vomiting system is to study the reach and dispersion of human vomitus, which is one of the primary ways that diseases such as norovirus can spread. Norovirus is a fairly common viral infection that is sometimes known as the ‘winter vomiting bug’ due to its increased prevalence in the colder months. Outbreaks are generally triggered when humans ingest contaminated food or water, but can continue when subsequent people come in contact with surfaces that have been contaminated by the initial patient’s effluvium.”

Source: Researchers Create Vomiting Robot To Analyze Contagions

The Power of a Hot Body

December 31st, 2012 12:08 admin View Comments

Technology

Hugh Pickens writes writes “Depending on the level of activity, the human body generates about 60 to 100 Watts of energy in the form of heat, about the same amount of heat given off by the average light bulb. Now Diane Ackerman writes in the NY Times that architects and builders are finding ways to capture this excess body heat on a scale large enough to warm homes and office buildings. At Stockholm’s busy hub, Central Station, engineers harness the body heat issuing from 250,000 railway travelers to warm the 13-story Kungsbrohuset office building about 100 yards away. First, the station’s ventilation system captures the commuters’ body heat, which it uses to warm water in underground tanks. From there, the hot water is pumped to Kungsbrohuset’s heating pipes, which ends up saving about 25 percent on energy bills. Kungsbrohuset’s design has other sustainable elements as well. The windows are angled to let sunlight flood in, but not heat in the summer. Fiber optics relay daylight from the roof to stairwells and other non-window spaces that in conventional buildings would cost money to heat. Constructing the new heating system, including installing the necessary pumps and laying the underground pipes, only cost the firm about $30,000, says Karl Sundholm, a project manager at Jernhusen, a Stockholm real estate company, and one of the creators of the system. “It pays for itself very quickly,” Sundholm adds. “And for a large building expected to cost several hundred million kronor to build, that’s not that much, especially since it will get 15% to 30% of its heat from the station.”"

Source: The Power of a Hot Body

The Power of a Hot Body

December 31st, 2012 12:08 admin View Comments

Earth

Hugh Pickens writes “Depending on the level of activity, the human body generates about 60 to 100 Watts of energy in the form of heat, about the same amount of heat given off by the average light bulb. Now Diane Ackerman writes in the NY Times that architects and builders are finding ways to capture this excess body heat on a scale large enough to warm homes and office buildings. At Stockholm’s busy hub, Central Station, engineers harness the body heat issuing from 250,000 railway travelers to warm the 13-story Kungsbrohuset office building about 100 yards away. First, the station’s ventilation system captures the commuters’ body heat, which it uses to warm water in underground tanks. From there, the hot water is pumped to Kungsbrohuset’s heating pipes, which ends up saving about 25 percent on energy bills. Kungsbrohuset’s design has other sustainable elements as well. The windows are angled to let sunlight flood in, but not heat in the summer. Fiber optics relay daylight from the roof to stairwells and other non-window spaces that in conventional buildings would cost money to heat. Constructing the new heating system, including installing the necessary pumps and laying the underground pipes, only cost the firm about $30,000, says Karl Sundholm, a project manager at Jernhusen, a Stockholm real estate company, and one of the creators of the system. ‘It pays for itself very quickly,’ Sundholm adds. ‘And for a large building expected to cost several hundred million kronor to build, that’s not that much, especially since it will get 15% to 30% of its heat from the station.’”

Source: The Power of a Hot Body

Amazon: Authors Can’t Review Books

December 26th, 2012 12:37 admin View Comments

Books

In an effort to step up its fight against astroturfers, Amazon has barred authors from reviewing books. It’s not simply that authors can’t review their own books — they can’t review any book in a similar genre to something they’ve published. “This means that thriller writers are prevented from commenting on works by other authors who write similar books. Critics suggest this system is flawed because many authors are impartial and are experts on novels.” British author Joanne Harris had a simpler solution in mind: “To be honest I would just rather Amazon delete all their reviews as it… has caused so much trouble. It is a pity. Originally it was a good idea but it is has become such an issue now. The star rating has become how people view if a book is a success and it has become inherently corrupt.” How would you improve the online review system?

Source: Amazon: Authors Can’t Review Books

Microsoft Has Been Watching, and It Says You’re Getting Used To Windows 8

December 17th, 2012 12:39 admin View Comments

Microsoft

Dupple writes “Microsofts user data shows that users are getting used to dealing with Windows 8 user interface from this article on MIT technology review. Despite some of the more scathing reviews of Windows 8, ordinary users are getting along with it just fine, according to Julie Larson-Green, the Microsoft executive who leads Windows product development. Data collected automatically from some Windows users, she says, show they are adjusting to some of the new operating system’s controversial features without problems ‘So far we’re seeing very encouraging things,’ Larson-Green says of the large volume of data that Microsoft receives every day from people using Windows 8 who have chosen to join the company’s ‘customer experience improvement program.’ All users are invited to enroll in that program when they first log into the new operating system. If they do so, anonymized information about how they are using the operating system is sent to Microsoft. Referring to complaints from some quarters, Larson-Green says: ‘Even with the rumblings, we feel confident that it’s a moment in time more than an actual problem.’”

Source: Microsoft Has Been Watching, and It Says You’re Getting Used To Windows 8

UK Students Protest Biometric Scanner Move

December 15th, 2012 12:16 admin View Comments

Education

Presto Vivace writes that the UK’s Newcastle University is instituting a finger-print based attendance system. From the linked article: “University students may have to scan their fingerprints in future — to prove they are not bunking off lectures. … Newcastle Free Education Network has organised protests against the plans, claiming the scanners would ‘turn universities into border checkpoints’ and ‘reduce university to the attendance of lectures alone.’” The system is supposed to bring the university “in line with the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and clamp down on illegal immigrants.”

Source: UK Students Protest Biometric Scanner Move

Solar Panels For Every Home?

December 14th, 2012 12:10 admin View Comments

Power

Hugh Pickens writes “David Crane and Robert F.Kennedy Jr. write in the NY Times that with residents of New Jersey and New York living through three major storms in the past 16 months and suffering sustained blackouts, we need to ask whether it is really sensible to power the 21st century by using an antiquated and vulnerable system of copper wires and wooden poles. Some have taken matters into their own hands, purchasing portable gas-powered generators to give themselves varying degrees of grid independence. But these dirty, noisy and expensive devices have no value outside of a power failure and there is a better way to secure grid independence for our homes and businesses: electricity-producing photovoltaic panels installed on houses, warehouses and over parking lots, wired so that they deliver power when the grid fails. ‘Solar panels have dropped in price by 80 percent in the past five years and can provide electricity at a cost that is at or below the current retail cost of grid power in 20 states, including many of the Northeast states,’ write Crane and Kennedy. ‘So why isn’t there more of a push for this clean, affordable, safe and inexhaustible source of electricity?’ First, the investor-owned utilities that depend on the existing system for their profits have little economic interest in promoting a technology that empowers customers to generate their own power. Second, state regulatory agencies and local governments impose burdensome permitting and siting requirements that unnecessarily raise installation costs. While it can take as little as eight days to license and install a solar system on a house in Germany, in the United States, depending on your state, the average ranges from 120 to 180 days.”

Source: Solar Panels For Every Home?

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