derekmead writes "Batteries rule everything around us, which makes breakthroughs a big deal. A research team at Rice says they have produced a nice jump: by using a crushed silicon anode in a lithium-ion battery, they claim to have nearly tripled the energy density of current li-ion designs. Engineer Sibani Lisa Biswal and research scientist Madhuri Thakur reported in Nature's Scientific Reports (it has yet to be published online) that by taking porous silicon and crushing it, they were able to dramatically decrease the volume required for anode material. Silicon has long been looked at as an anode material because it holds up to ten times more lithium ions than graphite, which is most commonly used commercially. But it's previously been difficult to create a silicon anode with enough surface area to cycle reliably. Silicon also expands when it's lithiated, making it harder to produce a dense anode material. After previously testing a porous silicon 'sponge,' the duo decided to try crushing the sponges to make them more compact. The result is a new battery design that holds a charge of 1,000 milliamp hours per gram through 600 tested charge cycles of two hours charging, two hours discharging. According to the team, current graphite anodes can only handle 350 mAh/g."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Lucas123 writes "As anyone who's typed on a virtual keyboard — or yelled at a voice-control app like Siri — can attest, no current text input holds a candle to a traditional computer keyboard. From the reed switch keyboards of the early '70s to the buckling spring key mechanism that drove IBM's popular PC keyboards for years to ThinTouch technology that will have about half the travel of a MacBook Air's keys, the technology that drove data entry for decades isn't likely to go anywhere anytime soon. This article takes a look back on five decades of keyboard development and where it's likely to go in the future."
cylonlover writes "Having successfully negotiated the challenging regulatory slopes of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of Energy, and a host of Oregon state agencies, the Newberry Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) demonstration project is in the process of creating a new geothermal reservoir in central Oregon. The core of the new reservoir is a two mile (3.2 km) deep well drilled about four miles (6.4 km) from the center of Newberry Volcano. The rock surrounding the wellbore reaches temperatures in the order of 600 F (300 C), and is nearly impermeable to water. That, however, is about to change. Newberry Volcano is one of the largest and youngest volcanoes in the United States. Having last erupted about 1,300 years ago, it consists of over 400 individual volcanic vents, which, when combined, form a broad mounded landform referred to as a shield volcano. The Newberry EGS Demonstration geothermal reservoir is being formed in the high-temperature, low-permeability deep lava of the volcano's northwest flank."
Zothecula writes "For people who are unable to walk under their own power, exoskeletons offer what is perhaps the next-best thing. The devices not only let their users stand, but they also move their legs for them, allowing them to walk. While groups such as Berkeley Bionics, NASA, Rex Bionics, and ReWalk are all working on systems, Nashville's Vanderbilt University has just announced the development of its own exoskeleton. It is claimed to offer some important advantages over its competitors."
First time accepted submitter spaceyhackerlady writes "We're looking at some new development, and a big question mark is the little boxes around the edge of the data center — the NTP servers, the monitoring boxes, the stuff that supports and interfaces with the Big Iron that does the real work. The last time I visited a hosting farm I saw shelves of Mac Minis, but that was five years ago. What do people like now for their little support boxes?"
An anonymous reader writes "Motorola feels that Apple is infringing on several FRAND patents that have to do with how every smartphone in existence connects to WiFi and cellular networks. Since Apple makes smartphones, and Google is looking to use their newly acquired Motorola as a weapon, the two companies are only a few days away from the courtroom. Apple has conceded that the Moto patents are valid by offering to pay Google/Moto $1 per device, but only going forward. Motorola wants 2.25% per device and for it to cover all Apple devices (back dated). If Motorola pursues the case and the court issues a per device rate that is higher than Apple's offer, Apple promises to pursue all possible appeals to avoid paying more than $1. Motorola could end this quickly, or watch as Apple drags this out for what could be years."
New submitter Gonzalez_S writes "There are many digital pens out there, but none of them seem to work on Linux; unless you combine them with a tablet. I have contacted many vendors (Lifetrons, Dane-Elec, ApenUSA, IntelliPen..) and only Intellipen responded that there is very limited support for Linux. Do any of you know of a digital pen that works fine using Linux on normal paper? Some options to explore: can the pen work in real time on my PC screen? Can it function as a mouse? Can the pen work offline? Do I need a tablet (preferably not)? I would be happy if anyone shares a success story here, as they seem a great tool."
Dupple writes in with news about a discovery that should extend the life of your battery in the near future. "Powering cellular base stations around the world will cost $36 billion this year—chewing through nearly 1 percent of all global electricity production. Much of this is wasted by a grossly inefficient piece of hardware: the power amplifier, a gadget that turns electricity into radio signals. The versions of amplifiers within smartphones suffer similar problems. If you've noticed your phone getting warm and rapidly draining the battery when streaming video or sending large files, blame the power amplifiers. As with the versions in base stations, these chips waste more than 65 percent of their energy—and that's why you sometimes need to charge your phone twice a day. It's currently a lab-bench technology, but if it proves itself in commercialization, which is expected to start in 2013—first targeting LTE base stations—the technology could slash base station energy use by half. Likewise, a chip-scale version of the technology, still in development, could double the battery life of smartphones."
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."
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."
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 2560x1600 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 1366x768 is so last century."
concealment writes "As the U.S. launched what's expected to be the world's fastest supercomputer at 20 petaflops, China is building a machine that is intended to be five times faster when it is deployed in 2015. China's Tianhe-2 supercomputer will run at 100 petaflops (quadrillion floating-point calculations per second), according to the Guangzhou Supercomputing Center, where the machine will be housed. Tianhe-2 could help keep China competitive with the future supercomputers of other countries, as industry experts estimate machines will start reaching 1,000-petaflop performance by 2018." And, naturally, it's planned to use a domestically developed MIPS processor
Dupple writes with a quote from the BBC about more testing of Predator drones in U.S. air space: "Tests have been carried out to see whether military drones can mix safely in the air with passenger planes. The tests involved a Predator B drone fitted with radio location systems found on domestic aircraft that help them spot and avoid other planes. The tests will help to pave the way for greater use of drones in America's domestic airspace."
MojoKid writes "ARM debuted its new 64-bit microarchitecture today and announced the upcoming launch of a new set of Cortex processors, due in 2014. The two new chip architectures, dubbed the Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A57, are the most advanced CPUs the British company has ever built, and are integral to AMD's plans to drive dense server applications beginning in 2014. The new ARMv8 architecture adds 64-bit memory addressing, increases the number of general purpose registers to 30, and increases the size of the vector registers for NEON/SIMD operations. The Cortex-A57 and A-53 are both aimed at the mobile market. Partners that've already signed on to build ARMv8-based hardware include Samsung, AMD, Broadcom, Calxeda, and STMicro." The 64-bit ARM ISA is pretty interesting: it's more of wholesale overhaul than a set of additions to the 32-bit ISA.
antdude writes "Pumpktris is a fully playable version of Tetris built into a pumpkin, with 128 Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) for the display and the stem serving as a game controller."
centre21 writes "I've been reading about solar-powered aircraft all over the Internet, as well as solar power in general. But I'm wondering: is it more than just solar cell efficiency that's preventing the creation of a solar-powered airliner? Conspiracy views aside (which may be valid), it seems to me that if I were running an airline the size of United or American, eliminating the need for jet fuel as a cost would be highly appealing. So, I'm asking: what stands in the way of creating true solar-powered airliners?"
miller60 writes "At least three data center buildings in lower Manhattan are struggling with power problems amid widespread flooding and utility outages caused by Hurricane Sandy. Flooded basements at two sites took out diesel fuel pumps, leaving them unable to refuel generators on higher levels. One of these was Datagram, which knocked out Buzzfeed and the Gawker network of sites. At 111 8th Avenue, some tenants lost power when Equinix briefly experienced generator problems." The NY Times has a running list of Sandy-related problems, including 5,700 more flight cancellations, 6 million people without power, rising water levels at a nuclear plant, official disaster declarations from President Obama, and a death toll of 38. On the upside, and despite the high water levels, the Nuclear Energy Institute was quick to point out that all 34 nuclear facilities in Sandy's path made it through without problems.
MrSeb writes "There have been plenty of rumors about how the Nexus program was going to grow and change with this year's announcement. Now that we have all the details, it looks like almost none of them were right. There is no Nexus certification program, and the dream of multiple Nexus phones seems well and truly dead. What we do have is a range of device sizes with the Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10. However, the Nexus program has been altered in one important way: we know what Nexus means now. There can no longer be any doubt: a Nexus device is about openness first and foremost. Last year the technology sphere was busily discussing whether or not the Verizon Galaxy Nexus was a 'true' Nexus device. This year we have an answer: a Nexus controlled by a carrier is no Nexus. Rather than get in bed with Verizon, Sprint, or AT&T to produce an LTE version of the Nexus 4, we have HSPA+ only. Even the new Nexus 7 with mobile data is limited to this enhanced 3G standard. And then there's the pricing: The super high-resolution (2560×1600) Nexus 10 tablet starts at just $399; The Nexus 7 is dropping in price to $199 for a 16GB tablet; The Nexus 4 with 16GB of storage is going to sell for $349, exactly the same as the old Galaxy Nexus was until yesterday. To put this into perspective, the LG Optimus G, which the Nexus 4 is based on, sells for $550 without subsidy. Google is pushing the idea of openness with the Nexus devices, but it's not an entirely altruistic endeavor. By giving us cheap and open devices, Google is making sure it's in control — not the carriers. That's better for the consumers, but it's also better for Google."
An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from MAKE's blog: "Tangible interface designer and inventor Andrea Bianchi, along with his colleague, Ian Oakley (University of Madeira / Carnegie Mellon Europe), have come with a novel approach to interacting with a mobile device. Using the magnetometer built into most modern smartphones, Bianchi and Oakley have created a series of tangible user interface demonstrations that go beyond what's achievable with capacitive touch displays."
CWmike writes "Intel researchers are working on a 48-core processor for smartphones and tablets, but it could be five to 10 years before it hits the market. Having a 48-core chip in a small mobile device would open up a whole new world of possibilities. 'If we're going to have this technology in five to 10 years, we could finally do things that take way too much processing power today,' said analyst Patrick Moorhead. 'This could really open up our concept of what is a computer... The phone would be smart enough to not just be a computer but it could be my computer.' Enric Herrero, a research scientist at Intel Labs in Barcelona, explained that with the prototype chip someone could, for instance, be encrypting an email while also working on other power-intensive apps at the same time — without hiccups. Same for HD video. Intel's Tanausu Ramirez said it could also boost battery life. 'The chip also can take the energy and split it up and distribute it between different applications,' he said. Justin Rattner, Intel's CTO, told Computerworld that a 48-core chip for small mobile devices could hit the market 'much sooner' than the researchers' 10-year prediction."