TaeKwonDood writes "We've all seen the stories about how 'dismal' science education in America is. It turns out that it's kind of a straw man. America has long led the world in science but the 'average' score for Americans on standardized tests has never been good. Instead, every 2 years American kids get better but we keep being told things are terrible. Here is why."
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secretrobotron writes "As a developer who spends most of each day at the same desk in the same chair, I'm concerned about ergonomics and what I can do to keep my body from wasting away while I program. Some IT professionals have the relative luxury of being able to walk around on a headset, solving problems, installing equipment, etc. My utopia (albeit a pretty low-bar) is a world in which technology exists to allow me to walk about as I program. My question is, what's available? Are people working on mobile-programming in this way? Are there hybrid standing workstations which allow me to take advantage of pacing-enabled programming?"
erich666 writes "Ben Rothman has created a five-foot-wide scale model of most of Northwestern University, where he was a sophomore this past year. This campus model is unique: it is the first modeled in Minecraft and then printed on a 3D printer. It is also the largest Minecraft 3D print to date, and will be on display in the main lobby of the largest building on campus in a few weeks. Ben began in November and spent about 600 hours recreating the campus. He notes that "this felt like playing a game more than a modeling task." The cost of the print material was about $2000 to $2500, well less than the cost of the display case being built for it (admittedly, labor costs are included for the case). The free Mineways program was used for export. It can help upload an exported Minecraft model to Shapeways, i.materialise, or other 3D print service. Models cost as little as $5."
First time accepted submitter AbrasiveCat writes "While transporting the space shuttle Enterprise to its new home at the Intrepid Museum, a gust of wind caught the shuttle and pushed a wing tip into the South Channel Subway Bridge. With any luck it was just the protective covering that was damaged. Ah, New York traffic."
snowdon writes "The race for low-latency in finance and HPC has taken a major turn. A bunch of engineers from Australia have 'thrown away the air conditioning' in a traditional switch, to get a 10G fibre-to-fibre latency of less than 130ns! Way faster than more traditional offerings. This lady (video) would tell you that it's equivalent to just 26m of optical fibre. Does that mean we just lose money faster?"
SomePgmr writes "The U.S Air Force's highly secret unmanned space plane will land in June — ending a year-long mission in orbit. The experimental Boeing X37-B has been circling Earth at 17,000 miles per hour and was due to land in California in December. It is now expected to land in mid to late June. And still, no one knows what the space drone has been doing up there all this time."
Med-trump writes "A petition to remove references to evolution from high-school textbooks claimed victory in South Korea last month after the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) revealed that many of the publishers would produce revised editions that exclude examples of the evolution of the horse or of avian ancestor Archaeopteryx."
An anonymous reader writes "Gabe Newell has responded to an email asking if Steam for Linux will be released this year with the simple answer 'Yes.' That means at some point in the next 7 months anyone running Linux will be able to download Steam and start playing a number of games, including at least one Valve title (most likely Left 4 Dead 2). After that the emphasis will be on game developers to start porting their Steam games over to Linux. 2012 could be a great year for gaming on Linux. The news follows the revelation in April that Valve was indeed working on a Linux port of its digital games service. At the time though, and as with all Valve software, we had no idea when it would get released."
theodp writes "In mid-May, the Department of Homeland Security quietly expanded a program that allows foreign science, technology, engineering and math grads to work in the U.S. for 29 months without a work visa. 'Attracting the best and brightest international talent to our colleges and universities and enabling them to contribute to their professional growth is an important part of our nation's economic, scientific and technological competitiveness,' explained DHS Chief Janet Napolitano. But last week, Senator Chuck Grassley called on the GAO to 'fully investigate' the student visa program, citing reports of abuse and other concerns in his letter. Now, Computerworld reports that the DHS STEM Visa Extension Program continues to be dominated by Stratford University and the University of Bridgeport (as it was in 2010), prompting some tongues to wag. It is 'obvious to any reasonable person that the schools producing most of the OPT students are not prestigious research universities,' quipped policy analyst Daniel Costa, 'which means that many of the OPT students across the country are not in fact the "best and brightest."' While conceding that top students can come from lesser-known schools, 'those will be the exception to the rule,' argued Costa, who suggested the government should include performance metrics in the OPT program, such as grades and university rankings."
astroengine writes "On Tuesday, Venus will race across the sun — the last Venus transit until 2117 — so the world's astronomers are primed to view this enigmatic event. But it's not just for the historical significance of the celestial phenomenon; real science will also be done. Just before the transit begins, as Venus sinks into the Sun's limb (an event known as "ingress"), the atmosphere of the planet is expected to display a crescent glow known as an "aureole." For as long as transits have been recorded, the Venus aureole has been observed. They are caused by sunlight being refracted through the atmosphere. Interestingly, the aureole is not uniform — often a bright spot appears around the planet's poles. This enhancement in brightness is caused by a variation in atmospheric temperature in the polar mesosphere. When detected, astronomers have the great opportunity to gauge the temperature in the Venusian upper atmosphere, comparing their results with atmospheric models and in-situ measurements made by the ESA Venus Express spacecraft currently in orbit around the planet."
MrSeb writes with the scoop on Asus's new Transformer tablet/laptop devices: "If you've ever looked at an Asus Transformer and wished that it was slightly bigger, had an x86 processor, and ran Windows, I have good news: At Computex in Taiwan, Asus has unveiled just that. Dubbed the Transformer Book, this isn't some wimpy Atom-powered thing either: This Transformer will ship with a range of Ivy Bridge Core i3/5/7 processors and discrete Nvidia graphics. Like its Android-powered predecessors, the Transformer Book is a touchscreen tablet computer that plugs into keyboard docking station, effectively becoming a laptop (or ultrabook, if you prefer). Rounding out the specs, the Transformer Book will come in a range of models (11.6, 13, and 14 inches), your choice of SSD or HDD, up to 4GB of RAM. All three models will have an IPS display capable of full HD (1920×1080). There's a webcam on the front of the tablet portion of the Transformer, and a 5-megapixel shooter on the back. There's no mention of wireless connectivity, but presumably there's Bluetooth and WiFi; on the wired side, there seems to be only a single micro-HDMI socket (on the tablet), and a USB socket (on the keyboard/dock). On the software side, the Transformer Book will of course run Windows 8. It all sounds great — but Asus kept one tiny tidbit out of its presentation: battery life." Aside from the Nvidia graphics (which, from the looks of it, can be disabled for the on-chip output), perhaps this could be the first "tablet" capable of running fully Free Software? (UEFI evil aside).
sciencehabit writes with an interesting article about the (surprisingly not well studied) effects of rain on flying insects. From the article: "When a raindrop hits a mosquito, it's the equivalent of one of us being slammed into by a bus. And yet the bug will survive and keep flying. That's the conclusion of a team of engineers and biologists, which used a combination of real-time video and sophisticated math to demonstrate that the light insect's rugged construction allows the mosquito to shrug off the onslaught of even the largest raindrop. The findings offer little aid in controlling the pest but could help engineers improve the design of tiny flying robots." Bats, unfortunately, aren't so lucky: "...these furry fliers need about twice as much energy to power through the rain compared with dry conditions."
joshgnosis writes "The Australian Attorney-General's department is set to hold a closed-door meeting with internet service providers, film lobby groups and consumer groups over proposals to reduce piracy on Thursday. The meetings were at a stalemate after sources said that neither the ISPs or the film groups could see eye to eye on the best proposal but the department confirmed that the meetings will go ahead and will this time include consumer advocate groups, who were previously excluded from the meetings."
garymortimer writes with news of the test flight of a hydrogen powered UAV. From the article: "Phantom Eye's innovative and environmentally responsible liquid-hydrogen propulsion system will allow the aircraft to stay on station for up to four days while providing persistent monitoring over large areas at a ceiling of up to 65,000 feet, creating only water as a byproduct. The demonstrator, with its 150-foot wingspan, is capable of carrying a 450-pound payload."