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DARPA's 'Phoenix' Program To Bring Satellites Back From the Dead 88

coondoggie writes "Scientists at DARPA say there are some 1,300 satellites worth over $300B sitting out in Earth's geostationary orbit (GEO) that could be retrofitted or harvested for new communications roles and it designed a program called Phoenix which it says would use a squadron 'satlets' and a larger tender craft to grab out-of-commission satellites and retrofit or retrieve them for parts or reuse." This program incorporates a design challenge aspect, in which various teams compete to design systems to effect the actual capture. From the article: "In the Zero Robotics challenge, three finalist teams emerged from a series of four, one-week qualifying rounds: "y0b0tics!" (Montclair, NJ); "The Catcher in the Skye" (Sparta, NJ); and "Nitro" (Eagleville, PA). Then in June the teams gathered at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to watch via video link as their algorithms were tested on board the ISS, DARPA said. The algorithms were applied across three situations in which the SPHERES satellite simulated an active spacecraft approaching an object tumbling through space. In each scenario, at least one of the teams was able to approach the tumbling target and remain synchronized within the predefined capture region, DARPA said."

Windows Has a Future In RAM: AgigaTech Samples DDR3+Flash DIMM 139

An anonymous reader writes "AgigaTech appears to be the first company to produce a non-volatile SDRAM DIMM — an SDRAM memory module that retains its contents even without power supply. The modules combine DDR2/3 SDRAM with NAND Flash as well as a data transfer controller and an ultracapacitor-based power source to support a data transfer from the SDRAM to Flash and vice versa. If this memory makes it into production, this is something that I instantly will want and will stand in line for."

4K UHDTV Hardware On Display in Berlin, And On Sale In Korea 137

First the spec, and now the hardware: MrSeb writes "After five years of trying to convince us that 3D TVs are the future, it seems TV makers are finally ready to move on — to 4K UHDTV. At the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, Sony, Toshiba, and LG are all showing off 84-inch 4K (3840×2160) TVs. These aren't just vaporware, either: LG's TV is on sale now in Korea (and later this month in the US), Sony's is due later this year, and Toshiba will follow in the new year. Be warned, though: all three will cost more than $20,000 when they go on sale in the US — oh, and there's still no 4K Blu-ray spec, and no such thing as 4K broadcast TV. In other display-related news, Panasonic is showing off a humongous 145-inch 8K (7680x4320) plasma TV, and some cute 20-inch 4K displays — but unfortunately neither are likely to find their way to your living room or office in the near future."

Ask Slashdot: Keeping Personal Tech Cool In Extreme Heat? 165

An anonymous reader writes "I live in the Middle East. Summer temperatures occasionally reach 60C/140F, well over the operating specs for most consumer tech. Quite a number of work and residential compounds are secured, prohibiting everything from computers to cameras to phones to USB sticks to car remote controls. When I know that I'm visiting one of those compounds, I end up leaving all the tech I can at home or in the office, and only bringing a cell phone, and leaving it in my car. However, "only a cell phone" has quickly morphed into "only two cell phones, a car MP3 player and remote, and .... ooh, shiny... a new tablet... and an electric razor just in case I have to touch up before a party in a compound." I'm wondering what kind of technologies we have for keeping all this tech cool for four hours in the car. Overnight events might last longer, but won't be as hot."

LG Builds Working Flexible Cable Battery 45

MrSeb writes with news on work toward flexible batteries good enough for Real World use (you have to power those flexible electrionics somehow). From the article: "LG Chem ... has devised a cable-type lithium-ion battery that's just a few millimeters in diameter, and is flexible enough to be tied in knots, worn as a bracelet, or woven into textiles. The underlying chemistry of the cable-type battery is the same as the lithium-ion battery in your smartphone or laptop — there's an anode, a lithium cobalt oxide (LCO) cathode, an electrolyte — but instead of being laminated together in layers, they're twisted into a hollow, flexible, spring-like helix. flexible batteries have been created before — but they've all just standard, flat, laminated batteries made from sub-optimum materials, such as polymers. As such, as they have very low energy density, and they're only bendy in the same way that a thin sheet of plastic is bendy. LG Chem's cable-type batteries have the same voltage and energy density as your smartphone battery — but they're thin and highly flexible to boot. LG Chem has already powered an iPod Shuffle for 10 hours using a knotted 25cm length of cable-type battery." Original paper (Extreme Tech claims it is paywalled, but it looks like it's not). The hollow core seems to be the key: "Moreover, a nonhollow anode proved to have serious problems with penetration of the electrolyte into the essential cell components such as the separator and active materials ... However, we were able to overcome these drawbacks by devising a unique architecture comprising a skeleton frame surrounding an empty space, that is, a hollow-spiral anode with a multi-helix structure This design enables easy wetting of the battery components with the electrolyte and the hollow space allows the device to compensate for any external mechanical distortion while maintaining its structural integrity. In addition, this helical architecture possibly enables the battery to be more flexible, owing to its similarity to a spring-like structure."

Ask Slashdot: What Should a Unix Fan Look For In a Windows Expert? 454

andy5555 writes "I am hardcore Unix (and recently storage) fan responsible for our server department. Most of the servers run (you guessed it) different types of Unix. For quite a long time, Windows servers played very little role, but sometimes we get applications from our business departments which run only under Windows. So it seems that we have to take it seriously and hire a few Windows fans who would be able to take care of the (still small but growing) number of Windows servers. Since I am Unix fan, I have very little knowledge of Windows (some of my teammates may have more, but we are not experts). If I have to hire such a person I would like to find someone who is passionate about Windows. It is easy for me to recognize a Windows fan, but I don't know how to test his/her knowledge. There are some sites with typical Windows interview questions, but everybody can read them and prepare. How would you recommend the hiring process to proceed? What should I ask?"

IDT and Intel Join Forces For Wireless Charging 87

MojoKid writes "Intel has selected Integrated Device Technology (IDT) to develop an integrated transmitter and receiver chipset for the company's Wireless Charging Technology (WCT) based on magnetic resonance technology, it was announced [Wednesday]. The technology won't require you to plop your smartphone or other gear on a special charging mat (based on inductive charging), but you will be able to wirelessly charge your devices from an equipped device like a notebook. In addition, magnetic resonance charging is significantly more efficient than previous generation inductive technologies and it produces less heat build up in the process. Intel didn't say when WCT will appear in shipping products, but promised to update plans and timelines at a later date."

Weebots: Driveable Robots For Babies Who Need Them 72

toygeek writes "Babies, as you may have noticed if you own one, like to get into all sorts of mischief, and studies show that exploring and interacting with the world is important for cognitive development. Babies who can't move around as well may not develop at the same rate as babies who can, which is why researchers from Ithaca College in New York are working on a way to fuse babies with robots to give mobility to all babies, even those with conditions that may delay independent mobility, like Down syndrome, spina bifida, or cerebral palsy."

Gelsinger Shoots Down EMC On ARM 57

Nerval's Lobster writes "EMC president and incoming VMware chief executive Pat Gelsinger most likely shot down any hope that the company's storage arrays would be built around the ARM architecture. Gelsinger, who also helped orchestrate the VMworld show in San Francisco this week, presented an Aug. 29 keynote at the Hot Chips conference in Cupertino, Calif. Afterward, an audience member told Gelsinger that as many as 25 percent of all servers could be shipped around the low-power ARM architecture, then asked if Gelsinger agreed with that estimate. EMC previously shifted its product lines to Intel processors. Gelsinger told the audience member that the situation is unlikely to change, even if ARM could deliver workloads at a fraction of the power of an X86 chip."

Kindle Fire Is Sold Out Forever 309

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from "Amazon has released a rather bizarre bit of news today. The Kindle Fire has completely sold out. You can no longer buy one, and the wording of the press release suggests there won't be any more manufactured. In nine months on sale Amazon claims to have secured 22 percent of tablet sales in the U.S.. With that in mind, Amazon will definitely be selling more Kindle Fires, however, the next one you'll be able to buy will probably have a '2' at the end of the name. Jeff Bezos said that the Kindle Fire is Amazon's most successful product launch so far and that there's 'an exciting roadmap ahead.' He also confirmed Amazon will continue to offer hardware, but there's no detail beyond that." Also covered on Slashcloud.

"Real-life Tricorder" To Be Tested On International Space Station 46

cylonlover writes "While still impressive, the capabilities of early 'tricorders,' such as the Scanadu and Dr Jansen's tricorder, fall well short of the Star Trek device that inspired them. But a new miniaturized version of a flow cytometer called the Microflow to be tested on the International Space Station (ISS) brings the age of instant diagnosis of medical conditions using a portable device a step closer. The Microflow could also make its way into doctor's offices here on Earth where it might help cut down on the number of follow up visits required after waiting to get results back from the lab."

Harvard Creates Cyborg Tissues 108

MrSeb writes "Bioengineers at Harvard University have created the first examples of cyborg tissue: Neurons, heart cells, muscle, and blood vessels that are interwoven by nanowires and transistors. These cyborg tissues are half living cells, half electronics. As far as the cells are concerned, they're just normal cells that behave normally — but the electronic side actually acts as a sensor network, allowing a computer to interface directly with the cells. In the case of cyborg heart tissue, the researchers have already used the embedded nanowires to measure the contractions (heart rate) of the cells. So far, the researchers have only used the nanoelectric scaffolds to read data from the cells — but according to lead researcher Charles Lieber, the next step is to find a way of talking to the individual cells, to 'wire up tissue and communicate with it in the same way a biological system does.' Suffice it to say, if you can use a digital computer to read and write data to your body's cells, there are some awesome applications."

Is an International Nuclear Fuelbank a Good Idea? 187

An anonymous reader writes "A roundtable at the Bulletin of the Atomic Sciences explores the notion of nuclear fuel banks which would offer nations a guaranteed supply of low-enriched uranium if they renounce the right to enrich on their own. From the article: 'The basic idea behind an international fuel bank is that it would, in a reliable and nondiscriminatory way, make emergency supplies of market-priced low-enriched uranium available to states that sign up to participate. States that opt for membership in a fuel bank would gain increased confidence that their access to reactor-grade fuel would not be interrupted. In return, they would renounce the right to enrich uranium and reprocess spent fuel on their own. Such an arrangement could be appropriate for a number of states. But for others, it might be less than ideal.'"

Samsung Unveils Windows Phone 8 Device and Android-Based Camera 179

MrSeb writes "Today Samsung joined Nikon in announcing an Android-powered camera. The Samsung Galaxy Camera weighs 305g, features a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor, 21x super zoom lens, a quad-core 1.4GHz SoC (probably Exynos 4), 8GB of internal storage, and runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. This compares with the Nikon S800c which also has a 16MP CMOS sensor, along with a 7x zoom f/2 lens and runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Since neither unit has shipped, we don't know anything yet about how good they are as cameras, but we do know that the companies are trying to regain some of the ground they've lost to smartphones by integrating sharing right into their cameras. For photographers, there are a couple of critical questions about these new models: First is whether these cameras will have enough additional functionality to justify the added cost and weight when most people already have a serviceable camera in their phone. Second, and more importantly, there is still a big question mark hanging over Nikon and Samsung's long-term intentions for Android. If Android cameras are just standard point-and-shoots with a smartphone OS bolted on for sharing, that'll be a wasted opportunity. It would have been easier to create a camera that instantly tethered to a smartphone instead, and let the phone do all the work. There is an exciting possibility, if Nikon and Samsung do this correctly and allow low-level access to the camera functions via Android, to really unleash the power of Android to enable new photographic solutions." Samsung has also taken the wraps off the ATIV S, the first smartphone running Windows Phone 8. It has a 4.8" screen, NFC support, and a microSD card slot. Samsung plans to start shipping them in Q4.

Robot Brings Patch-Clamping To the Masses 59

scibri writes about robots helping neuroscientists dig into the brains of (animal) test subjects. From the article: "Robots designed to perform whole-cell patch-clamping, a difficult but powerful method that allows neuroscientists to access neurons' internal electrical workings, could make the tricky technique commonplace. Scientists from MIT have designed a robot that can record electrical currents in up to 4 neurons in the brains of anesthetized mice (abstract) at once, and they hope to extend it to up to 100 at a time. The robot finds its target on the basis of characteristic changes in the electrical environment near neurons. Then, the device nicks the cell's membrane and seals itself around the tiny hole to access the neuron's contents."

Wave Glider Robot Helps Forecast Hurricane Isaac's Path 35

redletterdave writes with news of a drone that's helping weather forecasters this hurricane season. From the article: "Hurricane prediction is not always an exact science — back in 2005, Hurricane Rita was projected to hit Houston, but missed the region entirely — but the NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) is already on the case. A few weeks ago today, the agency launched an experimental Wave Glider robot named Alex into the ocean, hoping the unmanned drone can forecast the direction of future storms. The Wave Glider, which is completely powered by the waves and the sun thanks to solar panels and a unique thrust engine, contains a GPS unit, satellite communications systems, and sensors for measuring water temperature, wind speed, and various wave characteristics. With its ability to withstand strong winds and thrashing waters — which are typically prohibitive for humans and even aerial vehicles — and its ability to theoretically drift in the ocean endlessly without refueling, a single Wave Glider could be used to monitor not just one storm, but several hurricanes occurring over an entire seasonal period. The NOAA hopes to soon use more Wave Glider robots like Alex to help determine more accurate hurricane watches and warnings."
Data Storage

The History of the Floppy Disk 204

Esther Schindler writes "Ready for a nostalgic trip into the wayback? We had floppy disks long before we had CDs, DVDs, or USB thumb-drives. Here's the evolution of the portable media that changed everything about personal computing. 'The 8-inch drive began to show up in 1971. Since they enabled developers and users to stop using the dreaded paper tape (which were easy to fold, spindle, and mutilate, not to mention to pirate) and the loathed IBM 5081 punch card. Everyone who had ever twisted a some tape or—the horror!—dropped a deck of Hollerith cards was happy to adopt 8-inch drives. Besides, the early single-sided 8-inch floppy could hold the data of up to 3,000 punch cards, or 80K to you.'"

AMD's Next-Gen Steamroller CPU Could Deliver Where Bulldozer Fell Short 161

MojoKid writes "Today at the Hot Chips Symposium, AMD CTO Mark Papermaster is taking the wraps off the company's upcoming CPU core, codenamed Steamroller. Steamroller is the third iteration of AMD's Bulldozer architecture and an extremely important part for AMD. Bulldozer, which launched just over a year ago, was a disappointment. The company's second-generation Bulldozer implementation, codenamed Piledriver, offered a number of key changes and was incorporated into the Trinity APU family that debuted last spring. Steamroller is the first refresh of Bulldozer's underlying architecture and may finally deliver the sort of performance and efficiency AMD was aiming for when it built Bulldozer in the first place. Enhancements to Fetch and Decode architecture have been made, as well as increased scheduler efficiency and cache load latency, which combined could bring a claimed 15 percent performance-per-watt performance gain. AMD expects to ship Steamroller sometime in 2013 but wouldn't offer timing detail beyond that."

IBM Mainframe Running World's Fastest Commercial Processor 158

dcblogs writes "IBM's new mainframe includes a 5.5-GHz processor, which may be the world's fastest commercial processor, say analysts. This new system, the zEnterprise EC12, can also support more than 6-TB of flash memory to help speed data processing. The latest chip has six cores, up from four in the prior generation two years ago. But Jeff Frey, the CTO of the System Z platform, says they aren't trading off single-thread performance in the mainframe with the additional cores. There are still many customers who have applications that execute processes serially, such as batch applications, he said. This latest chip was produced at 32 nanometers, versus 45 nanometers in the earlier system. This smaller size allows more cache on the chip, in this case 33% more Level-2 cache. The system has doubled the L3 and L4 cache over the prior generation."

Lexmark To Exit Inkjet Printer Market 228

Barence writes "Lexmark has announced it will stop making inkjet printers and cut 1,700 jobs as part of a cost-cutting restructuring move. Lexmark will stop all inkjet development worldwide by 2013, and close its Philippines-based inkjet supplies manufacturing plant by 2015. This will provide annual savings of $85 million, rising to $95 million by 2015. The total restructuring cost before tax is expected to be $160 million. The company is also looking into the possible sale of its inkjet-related technology." I know there are some purposes for which inkjets are good (modern home photo printing can be insanely good, and we've featured a lot of cool projects which use inkjets to print sensors, solar cells, antennae, and more), but I get just a little queasy whenever I see an inkjet printer purchased by an innocent friend or family member who doesn't realize quite how much it will end up costing them in the long run.