Nerval's Lobster writes "Europe's most powerful supercomputer — and the fourth most powerful in the world — has been officially inaugurated. The SuperMUC, ranked fourth in the June TOP500 supercomputing listing, contains 147,456 cores using Intel Xeon 2.7-GHz, 8-core E5-2680 chips. IBM, which built the supercomputer, stated in a recent press release that the supercomputer actually includes more than 155,000 processor cores. It is located at the Leibniz-Rechenzentrum (Leibniz Supercomputing Centre) in Garching, Germany, near Munich. According to the TOP500 list, the SuperMUC is the world's most powerful X86-based supercomputer. The Department of Energy's 'Sequoia' supercomputer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., the world's [overall] most powerful, relies on 16-core, 1.6-GHz POWER BQC chips."
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First time accepted submitter mchnz writes "Need to read in some old punch cards? Have a hankering to return to yesteryear? I've combined an Arduino, the CHDK enhanced firmware for Canon cameras, and the Python Image Library to build a reader for standard IBM 80 column punch cards. You can see it in action in "Punch Card Reader — The Movie" or read more about it." This is an inspiring, intimidating project.
MrSeb writes "An American gunsmith has become the first person to construct and shoot a pistol partly made out of plastic, 3D-printed parts. The creator, who goes by the name HaveBlue and is an AR-15/M16 enthusiast, has reportedly fired 200 rounds with his part-plastic pistol without any sign of wear and tear. HaveBlue's custom creation is a .22-caliber pistol, formed from a 3D-printed AR-15 (M16) lower receiver, and a normal, commercial upper. In other words, the main body of the gun is plastic, while the chamber — where the bullets are actually struck — is solid metal. ... While this pistol obviously wasn't created from scratch using a 3D printer, the interesting thing is that the lower receiver — in a legal sense at least — is what actually constitutes a firearm. This means that people without gun licenses — or people who have had their licenses revoked — could print their own lower receiver and build a complete, off-the-books gun." Here come the illegal shapes. Note that the legal fiction of receiver-as-firearm is true in the U.S., but may not be in other jurisdictions, and that no gun license is required in most of the U.S. to purchase or possess a semi-automatic weapon.
Harperdog writes "A new roundtable at the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists explores the question of whether nuclear energy is the answer to climate change, particularly in developing countries where energy needs are so great. This roundtable, like the ones before it, will be translated into Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish within a week of each article's publication. Here's a summary: From desertification in China to glacier melt in Nepal to water scarcity in South Africa, climate change is beginning to make itself felt in the developing world. As developing countries search for ways to contain carbon emissions while also maximizing economic potential, a natural focus of attention is nuclear power. But nuclear energy presents its own dangers."
New submitter AaronLS writes "There has been a debate about whether HP has or has not developed a memristor. Since it's something fairly different from existing technologies, and similar in many ways to a memristor, I think they felt comfortable using the term. However, the company has been criticized for using that labeling by former U.S. patent officer Blaise Moutett. On the other hand, had HP created a new, unique label, they would have probably gotten flack for pretending it's something new when it's not. Will anything positive come from this debate? Electrical engineering analyst Martin Reynolds sums it up nicely: 'Is Stan Williams being sloppy by calling it a "memristor"? Yeah, he is. Is Blaise Moutett being pedantic in saying it is not a "memristor"? Yeah, he is. [...] At the end of day, it doesn't matter how it works as long as it gives us the ability to build devices with really high density storage.'"
crookedvulture writes "Giant, high-resolution LCD monitors have been around for years, but they've always been prohibitively expensive. Good displays based on IPS panel technology command upwards of $700 for 27" models and closer to $1200 for 30-inchers. However, Korean vendors have started selling similar screens on eBay for roughly half the price. These off-brand models purportedly use the same panels as pricier alternatives, and in practice, they appear to be nearly as good. There are some caveats, of course. The number of inputs may small, HDCP support isn't guaranteed, and user controls can be limited. Those may be deal-breakers for some, but getting a 27", 2560x1440 IPS display for well under $400 will be a deal-maker for others."
judgecorp writes "A test of wireless chargers for electric vehicles has started in London. The Halo system owned by Qualcomm is one of several competing technologies designed to deliver power to charge car batteries without having to plug the vehicles in. At this stage, Qualcomm is apparently worried about frying cats."
MrSeb writes with an excerpt from Extreme Tech about a presentation at Black Hat: "Bad news: With an Arduino microcontroller and a little bit of programming, it's possible for a hacker to gain instant, untraceable access to millions of key card-protected hotel rooms. This hack was demonstrated by Cody Brocious, a Mozilla software developer, at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. At risk are four million hotel rooms secured by Onity programmable key card locks. According to Brocious, who didn't disclose the hack to Onity before going public, there is no easy fix: There isn't a firmware upgrade — if hotels want to secure their guests, every single lock will have to be changed. I wish I could say that Brocious spent months on this hack, painstakingly reverse-engineering the Onity lock protocol, but the truth — as always, it seems — is far more depressing. 'With how stupidly simple this is, it wouldn't surprise me if a thousand other people have found this same vulnerability and sold it to other governments,' says Brocious. 'An intern at the NSA could find this in five minutes.'"
ananyo writes "Are the knives coming out for ITER? A Senate Department of Energy spending bill, yet to be voted on, would cut domestic research for fusion and directs the DOE to explore the impact of withdrawing from ITER. The proposed cuts for domestic fusion research are in line with those proposed in the Obama administration's budget request but come after the House ... voted to boost ITER funding and to support the domestic program at almost 2012 levels on 6 June. U.S. fusion researchers do not want a withdrawal from ITER yet but if the 2014 budget looks at all like the 2013 one, that could change. 'They're not trying to kill ITER just yet,' says Stephen Dean, president of advocacy group Fusion Power Associates. 'If this happens again in 2014, I'm not so sure.' The problems for fusion could be small beans though. The 'sequester', a pre-programmed budget cut scheduled to take effect on 2 January, could cut 7.8% or more off science and other federal budgets unless Congress can enact last-minute legislation to reduce the deficit without starving U.S. science-funding agencies."
SkinnyGuy tips news that patients may soon be getting diagnosed with the help of a 5'4", 140lb assistant going by the name of RP-VITA. The 'Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant' was unveiled this week by iRobot (the company behind the Roomba vacuum bot) and InTouch Health, and it allows doctors a way to remotely gather data. "It may be controlled via joystick, but RP-Vita does have some awareness of its environment. It employs a dazzling array of sensors that include PrimeSense Sensors (the same ones you find in the Kinect for Xbox 360), two cameras that together approximate normal human vision, sonar and a laser range finder. It also creates a map of the hospital and knows the location, for example, of its roll-into charging base." RP-VITA is currently waiting on FDA approval for use inside a hospital, which its creators expect by the end of the year.
the_newsbeagle writes "The worst nuclear near-disaster that you've never heard of came to light in 2002, when inspectors at Ohio's Davis-Besse nuclear power station discovered that a slow leak had been corroding a spot on the reactor vessel's lid for years (PDF). When they found the cavity, only 1 cm of metal was left to protect the nuclear core. That kind of slow and steady degradation is a major concern as the US's 104 reactors get older and grayer, says nuclear researcher Leonard Bond. U.S. reactors were originally licensed for 40 years of operation, but the majority have already received extensions to keep them going until the age of 60. Industry researchers like Bond are now determining whether it would be safe and economically feasible to keep them active until the age of 80. Bond describes the monitoring techniques that could be used to watch over aging reactors, and argues that despite the risks, the U.S. needs these aging atomic behemoths." Meanwhile, some very, very rich individuals have taken an interest in the future of nuclear power.
jones_supa writes "Two sources have told Reuters that Apple's new iPhone will drop the classic wide dock connector used in the company's gadgets for the best part of a decade in favor of a smaller one. The refresh will be a 19-pin connector port at the bottom instead of the previous 30-pin port 'to make room for the earphone moving to the bottom.' That would mean the new phone would not connect with the myriad of accessories playing a part in the current ecosystem of iPods, iPads and iPhones, at least without an adapter. On the upside, a smaller connector will allow for more compact product designs. Some enterprising vendors in China have already begun offering cases for the new phone, complete with earphone socket on the bottom and a 'guarantee' that the dimensions are correct." Gizmodo writer Adrian Covert says it's for your own good.
nk497 writes "A Gartner analyst made headlines after describing Windows 8 desktop as: 'in a word: bad.' After web reaction, including one story asking why anyone bothers to listen to the consultancy firm anymore, Gunnar Berger has now yanked the offending sentence from his blog post, saying it was taken out of context and only applied to using the desktop with a mouse and keyboard, and that overall Windows 8 is a good thing. 'If you look at my blog, I've gotten rid of it,' he said. 'It's upsetting me that it's being taken completely out of context.'"
judgecorp writes "The USB 3.0 Promoter Group has published a Power Delivery standard which will deliver up to 100W. The specification (press release with link to full details) includes new bi-directional — and backward compatible — USB cables, and has been proposed as the new connector between mains adapters and laptops, eliminating e-waste by standardizing a proprietary component." At home, only having to run one cable to the wall might be nice, and being able to grab some juice from any friend may end the disaster that is forgetting your laptop power brick when on the road. And imagine only having to pack a single power hub instead of three or four redundant transformers (how many people don't use their laptop to charge their phone nowadays?).
For years, the U.S. has been hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs to China because of the vastly cheaper labor pool. But now, several different technologies have ripened to the point where U.S. companies are bringing some operations back home. 3D printing, robotics, AI, and nanotechnology are all expected to dramatically change the manufacturing landscape over the next several years. From the article: "The factory assembly that the Chinese are performing is child’s play for the next generation of robots—which will soon become cheaper than human labor. Indeed, one of China’s largest manufacturers, Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group, announced last August that it plans to install one million robots within three years to do the work that its workers in China presently do. It found Chinese labor to be too expensive and demanding. The world’s most advanced car, the Tesla Roadster, is also being manufactured in Silicon Valley, which is one of the most expensive places in the country. Tesla can afford this because it is using robots to do the assembly. ... 3D printers can already create physical mechanical devices, medical implants, jewelry, and even clothing. The cheapest 3D printers, which print rudimentary objects, currently sell for between $500 and $1000. Soon, we will have printers for this price that can print toys and household goods. By the end of this decade, we will see 3D printers doing the small-scale production of previously labor-intensive crafts and goods. It is entirely conceivable that in the next decade we start 3D-printing buildings and electronics."