jjp9999 writes "Mech Warfare is a mix between Battlebots and MechWarrior, only without the fanfare. The teams around the competitions include engineers and professionals in robotics, and the games are — aside from being an homage to their love for science fiction — a way to hone their skills in the field. Andrew Alter, roboticist and one of the mech pilots, said the competitions are taken as 'an engineering challenge,' noting that while they do compete, 'Having this mix of skill levels and demographics is really great to see, as information and ideas tend to flow freely. We're also solving practical real-world problems like being able to stream video over Wi-Fi in high-interference areas. It's not nearly as easy as one might think.'"
Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from a Stanford news release: "Politics aside, most energy experts agree that cheap, clean, renewable wind energy holds great potential to help the world satisfy energy needs while reducing harmful greenhouse gases. Wind farms placed offshore could play a large role in meeting such challenges, and yet no offshore wind farms exist today in the United States. In a study just published in Geophysical Research Letters, a team of engineers at Stanford has harnessed a sophisticated weather model to recommend optimal placement of four interconnected wind farms off the coast of the Eastern United States, a region that accounts for 34 percent of the nation’s electrical demand and 35 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. ... Among its findings, the Stanford model recommended a farm in Nantucket Sound, precisely where the controversial Cape Wind farm has been proposed. The Cape Wind site is contentious because, opponents say, the tall turbines would diminish Nantucket’s considerable visual appeal. By that same token, the meteorological model puts two sites on Georges Bank, a shallows located a hundred miles offshore, far from view in an area once better known for its prodigious quantities of cod. The fourth site is off central Long Island."
JohnGrahamCumming writes "In this simple project, a hacked Linksys WRT54GL talks to a public API to get real-time bus information, and displays the times of the next buses on a model bus. Never miss the bus again! 'It's possible to reflash the Linksys with a custom Linux installation that lets me control the box completely (and still use it as a wireless router). There are various project, but I used OpenWRT. With OpenWRT it's possible to SSH into the box and treat it as any Linux server (albeit a rather slow one). But there's plenty of power to grab bus times and update an LED display connected to the WRT54GL's serial port. "
ananyo writes "Laser beams at the National Ignition Facility have fired a record 1.875 megajoule shot into its target chamber, surpassing their design specification. The achievement is a milepost on the way to ignition — the 'break-even' point at which the facility will finally be able to release more energy than goes into the laser shot by imploding a target pellet of hydrogen isotopes. NIF's managers think the end of their two-year campaign for break-even energy is in sight and say they should achieve ignition before the end of 2012. However, with scientists at NIF saying that a $4 billion pilot plant could be putting hundreds of megawatts into the grid by the early 2020s, some question whether the Department of Energy is backing the wrong horse with ITER — a $21-billion international fusion experiment under construction at St-Paul-lez-Durance, France. Is it time for the DoE to switch priorities and back NIF's proposals?" Perhaps a better idea, given the potential benefits of fusion research, would be for the DoE to throw their weight behind multiple projects, rather than sacrificing some to support others.
MrSeb was one of several readers to submit news that drive manufacturer Seagate has announced (and demoed) the first hard drive to squeeze a terabit into each square inch of platter. "'Initially this will result in 6TB 3.5-inch desktop drives and 2TB 2.5-inch laptop drives, but eventually Seagate is promising up to 60TB and 20TB respectively. To achieve such a huge leap in density, Seagate had to use a technology called heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR). Basically, the main issue that governs hard drive density is the size of each magnetic 'bit.' These can only be made so small until the magnetism of nearby bits affects them. With HAMR, 'high density' magnetic compounds that can withstand further miniaturization are used. The only problem is that these materials, such as iron platinum alloy, are more stubborn when it comes to writing data — but if you heat it first, that problem goes away. With HAMR, Seagate has strapped a laser to the hard drive head; when it wants to write data, the laser turns on. Reading data is still done conventionally, without the laser. In theory, HAMR should allow for areal densities up to 10 terabits per square inch (magnetic sites that are just 1nm long!), and thus desktop hard drives in the 60TB range."
New submitter peetm writes "Computing company D-Wave has announced they're selling a quantum computing system commercially, which they're calling the D-Wave One. The D-Wave system comes equipped with a 128-qubit processor designed to perform discrete optimization operations. A qubit is the basic unit of quantum information – analogous to a bit in conventional computing. For a broader understanding of how qubits work, check out Ars Technica's excellent guide."
mkwan writes "A PhD student in Melbourne, Australia, has built an augmented reality head-up display using a baseball cap, an Android smartphone, and off-the-shelf optics. It won't win any awards for style or practicality, but it's a fun way to use Wikitude. All we need now is a Terminator-vision smartphone app." Not nearly as modern, but vaguely related: the Private Eye P4.
pigrabbitbear writes with an excerpt from an article at Motherboard: "Anyone planning on buying a new iPad should know what they're getting themselves into by now. In recent years, Apple and other hardware manufacturers have made it liquid-crystal clear that they're not fond of the idea that customers can tear open and fix products without the help of licensed repair specialists. Even if it's as easy as ordering a part online and following a few instructions gleaned from a Google search, hardware companies generally seem to prefer we keep the hood closed. It should not be surprising, then, that the latest version of Apple's much-desired tablet has one 'killer' feature that's finally getting the attention it deserves: A design that stops you from getting inside of it."
MojoKid writes "At last count, Activision Blizzard pegged the number of World of Warcraft subscribers at 10.2 million. It takes a massive amount of gear to host all the different game worlds, or realms, as they're referred to. Each realm is hosted on its own server, and in late 2011, Activision Blizzard began auctioning off retired server blades from the days of yore to benefit the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. They sold around 2,000 retired Hewlett-Packard p-Class server blades on eBay and donated 100 percent of the proceeds (minus auction expenses) to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which seeks to advance the treatment and prevention of catastrophic diseases in children. This article has a look at one of those retired server blades."
MrSeb writes "You've heard of 'designer babies,' the idea that you can customize a baby by altering its DNA, but now a team of researchers from Stanford University and the Department of Energy have meddled around with the very fabric of reality and created the very first 'designer electrons.' The bulk of the universe is made up from just a few dozen elements, and each of these elements is made up of just a few subatomic particles: electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks, and so on. For the most part, the properties of every material — its flexibility, strength, conductivity — is governed by the bonds between its constituent atoms, which in turn dictate a molecule's arrangement of electrons. In short, if you can manually move electrons around, you can create different or entirely new materials. That's exactly what Stanford University has done: Using a scanning tunneling microscope, the team of researchers placed individual carbon monoxide molecules on a clean sheet of copper to create 'molecular graphene' — an entirely new substance that definitely isn't graphene, but with electrons that act a lot like graphene (abstract). It is now possible, then, for scientists to create entirely new materials or tweak existing materials — like silicon or copper, or another important element — to make them stronger or more conductive. Where will this particular avenue lead us?"
itwbennett writes "Microsoft dropped a bomb yesterday: they won't be showing new hardware this year or 'anytime soon.' Microsoft told Kotaku that '2012 is all about Xbox 360.' Meanwhile, Bloomberg's mysterious sources are saying that Microsoft 'may show the successor to its Xbox 360 in June 2013 at the E3 conference and put it on sale that same year.' This would 'be a fast journey from announcement to launch,' says Peter Smith, 'but it'd mean we'd still get a new Xbox for holiday 2013, which is about the earliest anyone has expected it to arrive anyway.'"
snydeq writes "Dan Bricklin, the co-creator of the PC revolution's killer app, weighs in on the opportunities and oversights of the tablet revolution. 'In some sense, for tablets the browser is a killer app. Maps is a killer app to some extent. Being able to share the screen with other people — that it's a social device — also might fit the bill. I think that for tablets, there isn't and won't be one killer app for everyone. It's more that there are apps that are killers for individual people. It's the sum of all those that is the killer app. This has been true since the original Palm Pilot.'"
MrSeb writes "You've heard of laser printers — and now a team of researchers from the University of Cambridge in England has created a laser unprinter that can remove ink without damaging the paper. Despite both methods using lasers, their (un)printing approaches are fundamentally very different. In a laser printer, a laser is used to give individual 'pixels' on a piece of paper a positive charge (a separate heat source is used to fuse toner). In the laser unprinter, picosecond pulses of green laser light are used to vaporize the toner, or ablate in scientific terms. The primary goal of unprinting is to cut down on the carbon footprint of the paper and printing industries. Manufacturing paper is incredibly messy business, with a huge carbon footprint. Recycling paper is a good step in the right direction, but it still pales in comparison to unprinting. In a worst-case scenario, The University of Cambridge unprinting method has half the carbon emissions of recycling; best-case, unprinting is almost 20 times as efficient."
jfruh writes "AC beat DC in the War of the Currents that raged in the late 19th century, which means that most modern data centers today run on AC power. But as cloud computing demands and rising energy prices force providers to squeeze every ounce of efficiency out of their data centers, DC is getting another look."
eldavojohn writes "China's rare earth monopoly has resulted in a shortage as China blocks their export and the rest of the world resumes their operations. Now, in a first-ever joint filing from three members of the World Trade Organization, Japan, the EU and the U.S. are not sitting idly by as China repeatedly ignores the WTO's orders to export rare earth metals and raw materials at a fair price to other countries. China claims the embargoes are in place to protect its environment, while Obama denounces China as being unfair and not playing by the rules of the WTO. In 2009, the WTO released a report (PDF) that explained how actions like China's hurt trade partners."