cylonlover writes "Tornadoes generally evoke the destructive force of nature at its most awesome. However, what if all that power could be harnessed to produce cheaper and more efficient electricity? This is just what Canadian engineer Louis Michaud proposes to achieve, with an invention dubbed the 'Atmospheric Vortex Engine' (or AVE). It works by introducing warm air into a circular station, whereupon the difference in temperature between this heated air and the atmosphere above creates a vortex – or controlled tornado, which in turn drives multiple wind turbines in order to create electricity. The vortex could be shut down by simply turning off the source of warm air. Michaud's company, AVEtec Energy Corporation, reports that the system produces no carbon emissions, nor requires energy storage to function, and that further to this, the cost of energy generated could potentially be as low as US$0.03 per kilowatt hour."
"Start thinking about getting your tinfoil hat radiation hardened," writes an anonymous reader, and excerpts thus from ABC News: "Southern Co. in Georgia and SCANA Corp. in South Carolina are the first to prepare new workers to run a recently approved reactor design never before built in the United States. Training like it will be repeated over the decades-long lifetime of those plants and at other new ones that may share the technology in years to come. Both power companies are building pairs of Westinghouse Electric Corp. AP1000 reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta and SCANA Corp.'s Summer Nuclear Station northwest of Columbia, S.C. While the nuclear industry had earlier proposed a larger building campaign, low natural gas prices coupled with uncertainty after last year's disaster at a Japanese nuclear plant have scaled back those ambitions." Getting a new nuclear plant approved is a long haul.
Sparrowvsrevolution writes in with a story at Forbes about Makerbot deleting gun component blueprints on Thingiverse. "In the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, the 3D-printing firm Makerbot has deleted a collection of blueprints for gun components from Thingiverse, its popular user-generated content website that hosts 3D-printable files. Though Thingiverse has long banned designs for weapons and their components in its terms of service, it rarely enforced the rule until the last few days, when the company's lawyer sent notices to users that their software models for gun parts were being purged from the site. Gun control advocates were especially concerned about the appearance of lower receivers for semi-automatic weapons that have appeared on Thingiverse. The lower receiver is the the 'body' of a gun, and its most regulated component. So 3D-printing that piece at home and attaching other parts ordered by mail might allow a lethal weapon to be obtained without any legal barriers or identification. Makerbot's move to delete those files may have been inspired in part by a group calling itself Defense Distributed, which announced its intention to create an entirely 3D-printable gun in August and planned to potentially upload it to Thingiverse. Defense Distributed says it's not deterred by Makerbot's move and will host the plans on its own site."
MrSeb writes "If you've not been tracking the thorium hype, you might be interested to learn that the benefits liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTRs) have over light water uranium reactors (LWRs) are compelling. Alvin Weinberg, who invented both, favored the LFTR for civilian power since its failures (when they happened) were considerably less dramatic — a catastrophic depressurization of radioactive steam, like occurred at Chernobyl in 1986, simply wouldn't be possible. Since the technical hurdles to building LFTRs and handling their byproducts are in theory no more challenging, one might ask — where are they? It turns out that a bunch of U.S. startups are investigating the modern-day viability of thorium power, and countries like India and China have serious, governmental efforts to use LFTRs. Is thorium power finally ready for prime time?"
ptorrone writes "Limor 'Ladyada' Fried of open-source hardware company Adafruit Industries was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by Entrepreneur Magazine. From the article: 'Recognizable by her signature vivid-pink locks, Fried (or Ladyada, as she is known on the internet) is one of the dominant forces behind the maker movement--a legion of do-it-yourself-minded folks who create cool things by tweaking everyday technology. Last year New York City-based Adafruit did a booming $10 million trade in sales of DIY open-source electronic hardware kits.'"
Lucas123 writes "After dropping 20% in the second quarter of 2012 alone, SSD prices fell another 10% in the second half of the year. The better deals for SSDs are now around 80- to 90-cents-per-gigabyte of capacity, though some sale prices have been even lower, according IHS and other research firms. For some models, the prices have dropped 300% over the past three years. At the same time, hard disk drive prices have remained "inflated" — about 47% higher than they were prior to the 2011 Thai floods, according to DRAMeXchange."
New submitter mihai.todor85 writes "It looks like Andrew 'bunnie' Huang has been quite busy lately, developing a nice open hardware laptop. He was even kind enough to provide all the schematics without NDA. For anybody interested in owning such a device, he says that he 'might be convinced to try a Kickstarter campaign in several months, once the design is stable and tested' if enough people are interested."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Tech icon Steve Wozniak has come forward with several predictions for 2013, with data center technologies an important part of the list. Wozniak's predictions are based on a series of conversations he had recently with Brett Shockley, senior vice president and general manager of applications and emerging technologies at Avaya. They trace an arc from the consumer space up through the enterprise, with an interesting take on the BYOD phenomenon: Woz believes that mobile devices will eventually become the 'remote controls,' so to speak, of the world. Although he's most famous as the co-founder of Apple, Wozniak currently serves as chief scientist at Fusion-io, a manufacturer of enterprise flash storage for data centers and other devices."
An anonymous reader writes in with a story about speculation that Japan might restart its nuclear power program. "Japan's newly-elected Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), a strong supporter of atomic energy use in the past, should restart plants shut after the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, said the CEO of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd . The LDP, headed by Japan's next prime minister Shinzo Abe, won a landslide victory on Sunday, fueling speculation that the new coalition government would take a softer stance on nuclear power. Public opinion remains divided on the role of atomic energy after natural disasters last year triggered a radiation crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant."
hugheseyau writes "Dell vice chairman Jeff Clarke made a less than shocking announcement at this year's Dell World Conference in Austin. The company is officially giving up on Android phones and tablets. ... So if Dell is giving up on Android, what comes next? The company claims it's doubling down on Windows 8, and the enterprise market."
skade88 writes "If you are like me, the proud owner of a Radeon card, and feeling left out of the Linux graphics driver revolution that swept Nvidia cards recently, then stay tuned — there might be hope for us seeing better graphics performance in the Linux 3.8 kernel."
Engadget reports that former MakerBot employee Sam Cervantes has brought to market — or at least to Engadget headquarters in prototype form — a working, cheap(ish) 3D printer from his own company Solidoodle. Originally, the new Solidoodle 3 printer was announced at $500; the price has crept up to $800, but that still sounds like a bargain in the world of home fabrication. Unlike the current MakerBot, it has no built-in card slot, so a computer connection is required for the length of a build.
First time accepted submitter michaelknauf writes "I'm running a large summer camp that's primarily concerned with performing arts: music, dance, circus, magic, theater, art, and I want to add some more tech into the program. We already do some iOS game design with Stencyl. We also have an extensive model railroad and remote control car program and a pretty big computer lab (about 100 Apple machines). Our program provides all materials as part of tuition, so I've stayed away from robotics as a matter of cost, but I'd love to buy a 3D printer and do classes with that and the Arduino is cheap enough to make some small electronics projects sensible... where do I find the sort of people who could teach such a program as a summer gig? What projects make sense without spending too much cash on a per project basis but would be cool fun for kids and would teach them?"
coondoggie writes "Nvidia said this week it got a contract worth up to $20 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop chips for sensor systems that could boost power output from today's 1 GFLOPS/watt to 75 GFLOPS/watt."
coop0030 writes "The first photos and videos of the Model A production samples are now available. The Raspberry Pi Model A is the newest low-cost computer from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Compared to the popular Model B, the Model A forgoes the Ethernet Controller, has 256MB of RAM, and has a single USB port. A benefit of the missing Ethernet controller is that power consumption is reduced. This allowed them to reach their goals of a low-cost $25 computer. The release date is for sometime early in 2013."
dcblogs writes "Michigan lawmakers just approved a right-to-work law in an effort to dismantle union power, but unions are already becoming irrelevant. The problem with unions is they can't protect jobs. They can't stop a company from moving jobs overseas, closing offices, or replacing workers with machines. Indeed, improvements in automation is making the nation attractive again for manufacturing, according to U.S. intelligence Global Trends 2030 report. The trends are clear. Amazon spent $775 million this year to acquire a company, Kiva Systems that makes robots used in warehouses. Automation will replace warehouse workers, assembly-line and even retail workers. In time, Google's driverless cars will replace drivers in the trucking industry. Unions sometimes get blamed for creating uncompetitive environments and pushing jobs overseas. But the tech industry, which isn't unionized, is a counterpoint. Tech has been steadily moving jobs overseas to lower costs."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Are e-readers doomed? A research note earlier this week from IHS iSuppli suggested that, after years of solid growth, the e-book reader market was 'on an alarmingly precipitous decline' thanks to the rise of tablets. The firm suggested that e-reader sales had declined from 23.2 million units in 2011 to 14.9 million this year — around 36 percent, in other words. The note blames tablets: 'Single-task devices like the ebook are being replaced without remorse in the lives of consumers by their multifunction equivalents, in this case by media tablets.' Even Amazon and Barnes & Noble, the reigning champs of the e-reader marketplace, have increasingly embraced full-color tablets as the best medium for selling their digital products. Backed by enormous cloud-based libraries that offer far more than just e-books, these devices are altogether more versatile than grayscale e-readers, provided their users want to do more than just read plain text."
Hugh Pickens writes "David Crane and Robert F.Kennedy Jr. write in the NY Times that with residents of New Jersey and New York living through three major storms in the past 16 months and suffering sustained blackouts, we need to ask whether it is really sensible to power the 21st century by using an antiquated and vulnerable system of copper wires and wooden poles. Some have taken matters into their own hands, purchasing portable gas-powered generators to give themselves varying degrees of grid independence. But these dirty, noisy and expensive devices have no value outside of a power failure and there is a better way to secure grid independence for our homes and businesses: electricity-producing photovoltaic panels installed on houses, warehouses and over parking lots, wired so that they deliver power when the grid fails. 'Solar panels have dropped in price by 80 percent in the past five years and can provide electricity at a cost that is at or below the current retail cost of grid power in 20 states, including many of the Northeast states,' write Crane and Kennedy. 'So why isn't there more of a push for this clean, affordable, safe and inexhaustible source of electricity?' First, the investor-owned utilities that depend on the existing system for their profits have little economic interest in promoting a technology that empowers customers to generate their own power. Second, state regulatory agencies and local governments impose burdensome permitting and siting requirements that unnecessarily raise installation costs. While it can take as little as eight days to license and install a solar system on a house in Germany, in the United States, depending on your state, the average ranges from 120 to 180 days."
MrSeb writes "If you've gone shopping for a power supply any time over the last few years, you've probably noticed the explosive proliferation of various 80 Plus ratings. As initially conceived, an 80 Plus certification was a way for PSU manufacturers to validate that their power supply units were at least 80% efficient at 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of full load. In the pre-80 Plus days, PSU prices normally clustered around a given wattage output. The advent of the various 80 Plus levels has created a second variable that can have a significant impact on unit price. This leads us to three important questions: How much power can you save by moving to a higher-efficiency supply, what's the premium of doing so, and how long does it take to make back your initial investment?"