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Robotics

New Long-Range RFID Technology Helps Robots Find Household Objects 5

Posted by samzenpus
from the follow-the-signal dept.
HizookRobotics writes Georgia Tech researchers announced a new way robots can "sense" their surroundings through the use of small ultra-high frequency radio-frequency identification (UHF RFID) tags. Inexpensive self-adhesive tags can be stuck on objects, allowing an RFID-equipped robot to search a room for the correct tag's signal, even when the object is hidden out of sight. Once the tag is detected, the robot knows the object it's trying to find isn't far away. The researchers' methods, summarized over at IEEE: "The robot goes to the spot where it got the hottest signal from the tag it was looking for, zeroing in on it based on the signal strength that its shoulder antennas are picking up: if the right antenna is getting a stronger signal, the robot yaws right, and vice versa."
Moon

Nvidia Sinks Moon Landing Hoax Using Virtual Light 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the this-proves-nothing dept.
schwit1 writes Using its new top-shelf graphics processing unit, Nvidia tackles one of the most persistent conspiracy theories in American history: the veracity of the 1969 to 1972 Apollo moon landings. From the article: "'Global illumination is the hardest task to solve as a game company,' Scott Herkelman, Nvidia's GeForce general manager, said in an interview. 'Virtual point lights don't do a bad job when the environment stays the same, but a game developer has to fake shadows, fake reflections...it's a labor-intensive process.' So when a Nvidia research engineer used the company's new dynamic lighting techniques to show off a side-by-side comparison between an Apollo 11 photo and a GeForce-powered re-creation, the company knew it had a novel demo on its hands. 'We're going to debunk one of the biggest conspiracies in the world,' Herkelman said."
Space

"Big Bang Signal" Could All Be Dust 44

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-so-fast dept.
An anonymous reader writes Scientists have shown that the swirl pattern touted as evidence of primordial gravitational waves — ripples in space and time dating to the universe's explosive birth — could instead all come from magnetically aligned dust. A new analysis of data from the Planck space telescope has concluded that the tiny silicate and carbonate particles spewed into interstellar space by dying stars could account for as much as 100 percent of the signal detected by the BICEP2 telescope and announced to great fanfare this spring. The Planck analysis is "relatively definitive in that we can't exclude that the entirety of our signal is from dust," said Brian Keating, an astrophysicist at the University of California, San Diego, and a member of the BICEP2 collaboration.
Medicine

Bioethicist At National Institutes of Health: "Why I Hope To Die At 75" 194

Posted by samzenpus
from the end-of-the-line dept.
HughPickens.com writes Ezekiel J. Emanuel, director of the Clinical Bioethics Department at the US National Institutes of Health, writes at The Atlantic that there is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. "It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic." Emanuel says that he is isn't asking for more time than is likely nor foreshortening his life but is talking about the kind and amount of health care he will consent to after 75. "Once I have lived to 75, my approach to my health care will completely change. I won't actively end my life. But I won't try to prolong it, either." Emanuel says that Americans seem to be obsessed with exercising, doing mental puzzles, consuming various juice and protein concoctions, sticking to strict diets, and popping vitamins and supplements, all in a valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible. "I reject this aspiration. I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive. For many reasons, 75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop."
The Internet

SkyOrbiter UAVs Could Fly For Years and Provide Global Internet Access 39

Posted by samzenpus
from the access-access-everywhere dept.
Zothecula writes The internet has become a critical means of communication during humanitarian crises and a crucial everyday tool for people around the world. Now, a Portuguese company wants to make sure everyone has access to it. Quarkson plans to use SkyOrbiter unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to transmit internet access "to every corner of the world."
Google

Google Partners With HTC For Latest Nexus Tablet 50

Posted by samzenpus
from the team-up dept.
Rambo Tribble writes The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google is partnering with HTC for its upcoming 9-inch Nexus tablet. Shunning larger manufacturers like Samsung, speculation is that Google is trying to mitigate the effects of market dominance by one firm. When asked for comment, a Google spokesperson only responded, "There's room for many partners to do well and to innovate with Android."
Iphone

Friendly Reminder: Do Not Place Your IPhone In a Microwave 170

Posted by samzenpus
from the bad-ideas dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes Placing your iPhone in the microwave will destroy the phone, and possibly the microwave. While that might seem obvious to some people, others have fallen for the "Wave" hoax making its way around online. The fake advertisement insists that the new iOS 8 allows users to charge their iPhones by placing them in a "household microwave for a minute and a half." Microwave energy will not charge your smartphone. To the contrary, it will scorch the device and render it inoperable. If you nuke your smartphone and subsequently complain about it online, people will probably make fun of you. (If you want a full list of things not to place in a microwave, no matter how pretty the flames, check this out.)
Space

Astrophysicists Identify the Habitable Regions of the Entire Universe 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the good-neighborhood dept.
KentuckyFC writes It's not just star systems and galaxies that have habitable zones--regions where conditions are suitable for life to evolve. Astrophysicists have now identified the entire universe's habitable zones. Their approach starts by considering the radiation produced by gamma ray bursts in events such as the death of stars and the collisions between black holes and so on. Astrobiologists have long known that these events are capable of causing mass extinctions by stripping a planet of its ozone layer and exposing the surface to lethal levels of radiation. The likelihood of being hit depends on the density of stars, which is why the center of galaxies are thought to be inhospitable to life. The new work focuses on the threat galaxies pose to each other, which turns out to be considerable when they are densely packed together. Astronomers know that the distribution of galaxies is a kind of web-like structure with dense knots of them connected by filaments interspersed with voids where galaxies are rare. The team says that life-friendly galaxies are most likely to exist in the low density regions of the universe in the voids and filaments of the cosmic web. The Milky Way is in one of these low density regions with Andromeda too far away to pose any threat. But conditions might not be so life friendly in our nearest knot of galaxies called the Virgo supercluster."
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: Who Should Pay Costs To Attend Conferences? 152

Posted by samzenpus
from the conference-or-else dept.
An anonymous reader writes I wanted to get your opinion on who should pay the costs associated with attending conferences. In the past, I've covered costs associated with attending some local (in town) conferences, but despite claims to be willing to cover some costs associated with conferences, training, and certifications, my requests have been denied. The short version is I would like to attend a national conference, hosted in Las Vegas, and that while specific to a technology, it is what 90% of my day is related to so its directly work related. My employer has declined to pay some of the costs associated with the conference, but has said if I pay my way, they will pay for the training associated with it. Since this is a pretty hot technology, I'm very interested in getting certified and appreciate their offer.

I should add that I work for a public entity and due to some fairly public issues, we have enjoyed record levels of funding the past couple of years. We know that they cannot afford to continue so we're about to start a multi-year decrease in our budget. My current thoughts are: First, I was working for a company where we faced potential layoffs, getting as close as to within 24 hours of one. Even just having some job security is extremely appreciated. Second, I work in a WONDERFUL environment. They aren't clock punchers, its about getting the job done. We're not micromanaged and have freedom to try new things. For the public sector, I know those are rare things and I appreciate them. Third, I work on a very talented team. I am probably the weakest member, so for me its a perfect learning/growth opportunity. Finally, its not my employer saying the conference isn't important, its looking at the bottom line and that we are a public entity so its not like we can easily raise more money. Tough decisions must be made.

For this particular conference, I decided to try and save up my own money. Unfortunately, my personal life has gotten in the way, so I've resorted to begging. My problem with this is I hate begging, but what am I going to do for future conferences? So should I re-think my acceptance of my employers policy and start looking for a new job? Obviously, it is a personal decision, but I don't have a mentor or close friends to act as sounding boards, so I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Education

How Our Botched Understanding of "Science" Ruins Everything 490

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-keep-using-that-word-I-do-not-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry writes at The Week, "If you ask most people what science is, they will give you an answer that looks a lot like Aristotelian 'science' — i.e., the exact opposite of what modern science actually is. Capital-S Science is the pursuit of capital-T Truth. And science is something that cannot possibly be understood by mere mortals. It delivers wonders. It has high priests. It has an ideology that must be obeyed. This leads us astray. ... Countless academic disciplines have been wrecked by professors' urges to look 'more scientific' by, like a cargo cult, adopting the externals of Baconian science (math, impenetrable jargon, peer-reviewed journals) without the substance and hoping it will produce better knowledge. ... This is how you get people asserting that 'science' commands this or that public policy decision, even though with very few exceptions, almost none of the policy options we as a polity have have been tested through experiment (or can be). People think that a study that uses statistical wizardry to show correlations between two things is 'scientific' because it uses high school math and was done by someone in a university building, except that, correctly speaking, it is not. ... This is how you get the phenomenon ... thinking science has made God irrelevant, even though, by definition, religion concerns the ultimate causes of things and, again, by definition, science cannot tell you about them. ... It also means that for all our bleating about 'science' we live in an astonishingly unscientific and anti-scientific society. We have plenty of anti-science people, but most of our 'pro-science' people are really pro-magic (and therefore anti-science). "
Mars

Update: Mangalyaan's Main Engine Test Fired, Maven In Orbit 22

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-systems-are-go dept.
William Robinson writes Before the spacecraft is scheduled to enter Mars orbit, Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) scientists reignited the Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft's main engine for four seconds as a trial. The liquid apogee motor (LAM) engine has been idle for about 300 days since the spacecraft left the Earth's orbit on a Martian trajectory on December 1, 2013. The short-duration test was to ensure that the engine is in good shape for the 24-minute crucial maneuver on Wednesday." In other Mars mission updates, NASA's Maven spacecraft arrived at Mars late Sunday after a 442 million-mile journey that began nearly a year ago.
Businesses

Nobody's Neutral In Net Neutrality Debate 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the picking-sides dept.
ygslash writes Michael Wolff at USA Today has a long list of the many stakeholders in the net neutrality debate, and what each has to gain or lose. The net neutrality issue has made its way into the mainstream consciousness, thanks to grassroots activism and some help from John Oliver on HBO. But it's not as simple as just net neutrality idealists versus the cable companies or versus the FCC. One important factor that has raised the stakes in net neutrality is the emergence ("unanticipated" by Wolff, but not by all of us) of the Internet as the primary medium for distribution of video content. And conversely, the emergence of video content in general and Netflix in particular as by far the most significant consumers of Internet bandwidth. So anyone involved in the distribution of video content has a lot to gain or lose by the outcome of the net neutrality struggle.
The Almighty Buck

Kickstarter Lays Down New Rules For When a Project Fails 165

Posted by samzenpus
from the setting-expectations dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a blog post, Kickstarter announced several updates to its terms of use for projects. From the article: "Kickstarter has iterated on its policies several times since it launched in 2009, with the most recent wave of revisions surrounding the site's transition from only posting projects cleared by the staff to clearing all projects that meet a basic set of criteria. Even still, some projects lack clear goals, encounter setbacks, or fail to deliver, like the myIDkey project that has burned through $3.5 million without yet to distributing a finished product. The most recent terms revision is timely: on Thursday, science fiction author Neal Stephenson announced that a game he Kickstarted in 2012 with $526,000 in funding was officially canceled."
Earth

Hundreds of Thousands Turn Out For People's Climate March In New York City 161

Posted by samzenpus
from the cooling-things-off dept.
mdsolar writes with an update on the People's Climate March. More than 400,000 people turned out for the People's Climate March in New York City on Sunday, just days before many of the world's leaders are expected to debate environmental action at the United Nations climate summit. Early reports from event organizers are hailing the turnout as the largest climate march in history, far bigger than the Forward on Climate rally held in Washington, D.C., last year. High-profile environmentalists including Bill McKibben, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Goodall and Vandana Shiva marched alongside policymakers such as Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former Vice President Al Gore were also there, and more than 550 buses carried in people from around the country.
Piracy

The Raid-Proof Hosting Technology Behind 'The Pirate Bay' 118

Posted by timothy
from the pesky-vikings-and-their-lessons dept.
HughPickens.com writes Ernesto reports at TorrentFreak that despite its massive presence the Pirate Bay doesn't have a giant server park but operates from the cloud, on virtual machines that can be quickly moved if needed. The site uses 21 "virtual machines" (VMs) hosted at different providers, up four machines from two years ago, in part due to the steady increase in traffic. Eight of the VM's are used for serving the web pages, searches take up another six machines, and the site's database currently runs on two VMs. The remaining five virtual machines are used for load balancing, statistics, the proxy site on port 80, torrent storage and for the controller. In total the VMs use 182 GB of RAM and 94 CPU cores. The total storage capacity is 620 GB. One interesting aspect of The Pirate Bay is that all virtual machines are hosted with commercial cloud hosting providers, who have no clue that The Pirate Bay is among their customers. "Moving to the cloud lets TPB move from country to country, crossing borders seamlessly without downtime. All the servers don't even have to be hosted with the same provider, or even on the same continent." All traffic goes through the load balancer, which masks what the other VMs are doing. This also means that none of the IP-addresses of the cloud hosting providers are publicly linked to TPB. For now, the most vulnerable spot appears to be the site's domain. Just last year TPB burnt through five separate domain names due to takedown threats from registrars. But then again, this doesn't appear to be much of a concern for TPB as the operators have dozens of alternative domain names standing by.

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman

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