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Quantum-Tunneling Electrons Could Make Semiconductors Obsolete 276

Nerval's Lobster writes "The powerful, reliable combination of transistors and semiconductors in computer processors could give way to systems built on the way electrons misbehave, all of it contained in circuits that warp even the most basic rules of physics. Rather than relying on a predictable flow of electrons that appear to know whether they are particles or waves, the new approach depends on quantum tunneling, in which electrons given the right incentive can travel faster than light, appear to arrive at a new location before having left the old one, and pass straight through barriers that should be able to hold them back. Quantum tunneling is one of a series of quantum-mechanics-related techniques being developed as possible replacements for transistors embedded in semiconducting materials such as silicon. Unlike traditional transistors, circuits built by creating pathways for electrons to travel across a bed of nanotubes are not limited by any size restriction relevant to current manufacturing methods, require far less power than even the tiniest transistors, and do not give off heat or leak electricity as waste products, according to Yoke Khin Yap of Michigan Technological University, lead author of a paper describing the technique, which was published in the journal Advanced Materials last week."
Hardware Hacking

Whistled Platform Upgraded With Word Recognition 30

An anonymous reader writes "A few weeks ago, Slashdot featured a cheap platform performing 80FFTs per second to recognize whistles. The platform is open hardware/open source and is aimed for sound processing projects. To this goal, the creator (limpkin) just implemented a simple proof of concept algorithm that will control your lighting once the platform listens to a particular word. A small video has been made to explain the basic concepts of sound recognition to encourage hobbyist to make their own."

Formlabs In Settlement Talks Over 3D Printing Patent Lawsuit 57

curtwoodward writes "Formlabs raised nearly $3 million in a month for its new Form 1 3D printer, which uses stereolithography to make precise models and other physical objects out of photoreactive liquid polymer. But 3D Systems — the publicly traded company founded by the guy who invented that process — sued the startup for patent infringement. Formlabs recently announced that it would start shipping its pre-ordered Form 1 printers, and that was no coincidence: the two companies quietly entered into settlement talks in early May, and hope to have a deal done by September."

iFixit Giving Away 1,776 "iPhone Liberation Kits" 260

netbuzz writes "In a clever bit of self-promotion, the do-it-yourself repair evangelists at iFixit announced today that they will be giving away 1,776 free 'iPhone liberation kits' that will allow Apple customers access to the inner workings of their devices by replacing the difficult-to-remove pentalobe screws with standard Phillips screws. 'Get a free insurance policy,' iFixit says. 'In the unfortunate event that your iPhone needs repair, you will be set to make any necessary fix. For situations when you need to get the battery out of your iPhone as quickly as possible—such as after dropping the device into water—you will be ready.'"

Harvard, IBM Crunch Data For More Efficient Solar Cells 65

Nerval's Lobster writes "Harvard's Clean Energy Project (CEP) is using IBM's World Community Grid, a 'virtual supercomputer' that leverages volunteers' surplus computing power, to determine which organic carbon compounds are best suited for converting sunlight into electricity. IBM claims that the resulting database of compounds is the 'most extensive investigation of quantum chemicals ever performed.' In theory, all that information can be utilized to develop organic semiconductors and solar cells. Roughly a thousand of the molecular structures explored by the project are capable of converting 11 percent (or more) of captured sunlight into electricity—a significant boost from many organic cells currently in use, which convert between 4 and 5 percent of sunlight. That's significantly less than solar cells crafted from silicon, which can produce efficiencies of up to nearly 20 percent (at least in the case of black silicon solar cells). But silicon solar cells can be costly to produce, experiments with low-grade materials notwithstanding; organic cells could be a cheap and recyclable alternative, provided researchers can make them more efficient. The World Community Grid asks volunteers to download a small program (called an 'agent') onto their PC. Whenever the machine is idle, it requests data from whatever project is on the World Community Grid's server, which it crunches before sending back (and requesting another data packet). Several notable projects have embraced grid computing as a way to analyze massive datasets, including SETI@Home."

Surgeon Uses Google Glass and iPad To Capture Live Procedure and Stream It 100

MojoKid writes "Google (and many other tech manufacturers lately), have been evangelizing the mantra that technology is here to enhance and improve our lives, not get in the way; in the truest sense to 'serve humanity.' Recent events and breakthroughs in the healthcare industry, which make use of leading-edge technology, illustrate this vision better than any marketing or ad campaign could ever possibly hope to. Dr. Rafael Grossman strapped on his Google Glass eyewear to become the first 'Glass Explorer Surgeon.' The procedure involved is called Gastrostomy, a process by which a surgeon inserts a feeding tube into a patient's abdomen. In this case, the good doctor performed the procedure endoscopically, such that he was able to display the entire procedure and the view of it directly as it was being performed. The opportunities for remote medical consultation, mentoring and even real-time guidance are obvious with the sort of technology that products like Google Glass bring to the table. It's always nice to hear stories of how not only 'quality of life' is improved but how lives are actually saved as a result of these magnificent inventions we create."

Server Farms Flourish In Iowa: Microsoft Plows $700M More Into Des Moines 103

1sockchuck writes "A big chunk of the Azure cloud will be living on the plains of Iowa. Microsoft will invest another $700 million to expand its Iowa data center campus near Des Moines, marking the third major server farm for the state this year. Facebook recently announced a new data center in Altoona. The same day, Google said it would put another $400 million into its facility in Council Bluffs. Why Iowa? Aggressive tax incentives and a central location to bridge the distance between these companies' east and west coast server footprints."
United Kingdom

65 Years Ago, Manchester's 'Baby' Ran Electronically Stored Program 103

hypnosec writes that the first ever practical implementation of the stored program concept took place 65 years ago, "as the Manchester Small Scale Experimental Machine aka 'Baby' became the world's first computer to run an electronically stored program on June 21, 1948. The 'Baby' was developed by Frederic C. Williams, Tom Kilburn and Geoff Tootill at the University of Manchester. 'Baby' served as a testbed for the experimental Williams-Kilburn tube – a cathode ray tube that was used to store binary digits, aka bits. The reason this became a milestone in computing history was that up until 'Baby' ran the first electronically stored program, there was no means of storing and accessing this information in a cost-effective and flexible way."

Best Buy Recalls MacBook Pro Batteries 56

redletterdave writes "A recent line of complaints from MacBook Pro users forced big box retailer Best Buy to finally issue a recall notice for 5,100 MacBook Pro replacement batteries after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advised customers to 'immediately stop using the recalled battery.' Both the CPSC and Best Buy received 13 individual instances of the MacBook Pro battery catching fire, with one incident resulting in 'a serious burn to a consumer's leg.'"
Input Devices

A Simple DIY Game Controller For People With Physical Challenges 36

capedgirardeau writes "Caleb Kraft of the well-known Hack-A-Day site noticed that game controllers and alternate keyboards for people with physical challenges were very expensive. Simple switches for buttons that could be made for a few dollars were running $60 or $70 apiece. Working with a young man he knew who loves gaming and has muscular dystrophy, Caleb created a do-it-yourself controller for people with physical challenges using a 3-D printer, a super-cheap micro-controller board and some simple keyboard emulation software. He is freely releasing all the 3-D printer files and tutorials to make his and other controllers on a new site, The Controller Project. He also encourages people to check out The AbleGamers Foundation"

Tesla To Build Its Own Battery-Swap Stations 377

New submitter lfp98 writes "Just a month after the collapse of independent battery-swap company Better Place, the uniquely successful maker of luxury electric cars, Tesla, has announced it will provide its own battery-swap capability for its Model S sedans. The first stations will be built adjacent to Tesla's charging stations on the SF-to-LA route, and a swap will take no longer than filling a gas tank. From the article: 'A battery pack swap will cost between $60 and $80, about the same as filling up a 15-gallon gas tank,' Musk said. 'Drivers who choose to swap must reclaim their original battery on their return trip or pay the difference in cost for the new pack.'"
Data Storage

New Technique For Optical Storage Claims 1 Petabyte On a Single DVD 182

melios writes "Using a two-light-beam method a company claims to have overcome Abbe's Law to dramatically increase the storage density for optical media, to the 9 nm scale. From the article: 'The technique is also cost-effective and portable, as only conventional optical and laser elements are used, and allows for the development of optical data storage with long life and low energy consumption, which could be an ideal platform for a Big Data centre.'"

A Look At Quantum Computer Manufacturer D-Wave and Its Founder 96

First time accepted submitter tpjunkie writes "Many slashdot readers will remember D-wave's announcement in 2007 of its quantum computer, an announcement met with skepticism and a good amount of scorn. However, today the company has sold quantum computers to such companies as Lockheed Martin and Google, and their computers have gone from a handful of qubits to 512 in their most recent offerings. Nature has a story including an interview with the company's founder Geordi Rose, and a look at where the company is headed and some of the difficulties it has overcome."

Foxconn Betting Big On Firefox OS 94

jfruh writes "Foxconn is firmly identified in the public mind as the company that manufactures iPhones and iPads. But the company is looking to forge its own identity, and sees Firefox OS as the means to do so. To that end, Foxconn is hiring thousands of developers to help work on the open source phone OS and Foxconn's own suite of cloud services."

Ask Slashdot: Does LED Backlight PWM Drive You Crazy? 532

jones_supa writes "I would like to raise some discussion about a hardware issue that has increasingly started to bug me: backlight flicker, from which many LED-backlit monitors suffer. As you might know, the backlight and its dimming is driven by a pulse width modulated square wave, essentially flicking the LEDs on and off rapidly. Back in the CRT days a 100Hz picture was deluxe, due to the long afterglow of the display phosphor. LEDs, however, shut off immediately and my watering eyes and headache tell that we should be using frequencies in multiple kHz there. Unfortunately we too often fall behind that. As one spark of hope, the display review site PRAD has already started to include backlight signal captures to help assessing the problem. However with laptops and various mobile gadgets, finding this kind of information is practically impossible. This issue sort of lingers in the background but likely impacts the well-being of many, and certainly deserves more attention." So do LEDs bother your eyes? I think CRTs gave me headaches far more often than has any form of flat panel display, at least partly because of the whining noise that CRTs emit.

Next SurfaceRT To Come With Qualcomm Snapdragon 800, LTE 157

recoiledsnake writes "Following up on our previous discussion of Microsoft selling discounted SurfaceRT tablets to schools (which fueled speculation about the future of Surface RT), Bloomberg is now reporting that Microsoft is fast at work on the next Surface RT which will replace the current Tegra 3 with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip which has stellar benchmarks against the likes of the upcoming Tegra 4, Apple A6X, and Exynos processors, especially in the GPU and graphics department. Since the SoC comes with 3g/LTE, this might be the first Surface to support integrated cellular data. There are also indications that there could be an 8" version, and that the new versions might be revealed alongside the Windows 8.1 preview bits at the upcoming BUILD conference, starting on June 26."
Star Wars Prequels

The Plight of Star Wars Droids 245

malachiorion writes "Does George Lucas hate metal people? I know, sounds like standard click-bait, but I think I present a relatively troll-free argument in the piece I wrote for Slate. We stuck to the Star Wars canon, pointing out the relatively grim state of affairs for droid rights, and the lack of any real sympathy for their plight from the heroes, or, it would seem, George Lucas. C-3PO is more correct than he might realize, when the says that droids 'seem to be made to suffer.'"

Google Patents Image-Capturing Walking Sticks 117

theodp writes "GeekWire reports that Google has patented an image-capturing walking stick, which can boldly go where no Google Street View Car can. The walking stick has embedded cameras and location sensors, and a switch at the bottom that causes the device to snap pictures whenever the stick hits the ground. The patent also covers using canes and crutches in a similar fashion."

Cat-like Robot Runs Like the Wind 69

DeviceGuru writes "Researchers at the Biorob lab at Switzerland's École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), have announced a cat-like robot that is claimed to be the fastest quadruped robot under 30 kilograms. The Cheetah-cub Robot, which runs real-time Xenomai Linux on an x86-based RoBoard robot control board, mimics the biomechanics of a cat to increase the speed and stability of it quadroped legs, helping it achieve speeds of 1.42m/s. The goal of the still-early-stage project is to encourage research in biomechanics, with an aim toward building faster robots for search and rescue, or ground exploration. More info is available on EPFL's Cheetah page."