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Comment: Ouch (Score 1) 537

by Aegis Runestone (#23865529) Attached to: Trees' Leaves Grow At a Cool 70° All Over the World
I feel sorry for the article poster. :/ Don't worry, when I read it the first time through, I thought it was 70 degrees F. I guess that's just my outdated mindset. I have a hard time calculating differences between metric and english units that I have a bookmarked site to help me convert. :S

Anyway, interesting story. Trees, obviously, would always need some way to cool down or to keep warm throughout the seasons.
Robotics

Engineers Use Laser Pointers To Guide Household Robots 28

Posted by Soulskill
from the helping-the-sick-and-the-lazy dept.
The New York Times is running a story about a recently developed technique for directing the actions of household robots. Engineers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have created a robot that will fetch items for you by simply shining a laser on the desired object. Quoting: "'The pointer gives the robot just enough context and guidance to solve the really hard problem of figuring out which object among many lying around in a room to pick up,' Professor Sukhatme said. 'People in artificial intelligence have been working on this problem for a long time.' Just pointing to an object with natural gestures usually isn't enough to direct a robot, and even when robots navigate to the right spot, it's hard for them to grasp a particular object unless, for instance, they have a three-dimensional computer model of it, Professor Kemp said. Guided by the laser pointer, though, El-E can fetch objects as varied as towels, wallets or coffee mugs with no need for elaborate computer modeling."
Government

Controversial Section of PRO-IP Act Cut 101

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-just-cut-the-other-sections dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Rep. Berman (D-CA) has removed the controversial section 104 from his PRO-IP Act. That section would have multiplied the already excessive statutory damages for infringement in the case of compilations, making the damages for infringing upon the copyrights of a single average CD rise into the millions of dollars. This change came after proponents of the amendment were unable to cite even one case where the statutory damages recovered were insufficient. But don't let the article fool you into thinking that the PRO-IP Act is no longer controversial now that this one section is gone, the act still creates copyright cops who are authorized to seize people's computers."
Privacy

FBI Admits More Privacy Violations 179

Posted by Soulskill
from the truth-will-out-eventually-if-they-feel-like-it dept.
kwietman writes "The FBI admitted that in 2006, for the fourth straight year, they improperly accessed phone and internet records of U.S. citizens. Director Robert Mueller testified that the abuses occurred prior to sweeping reforms enacted in 2007, and actually blamed the breaches in part on the telecommunications companies, who submitted more information than was requested. In another unsurprising development, the FBI also underreported the number of security letters - used to authorize wiretaps and to subpoena internet and telecom records - by over 4,600. The use of these letters to identify potential terrorists has, according to the government audit, increased dramatically since the implementation of the Patriot Act. Over 1,000 of these security letters were found to be improper in 2005, and similar numbers were expected for 2006 and 2007."
Security

New Lock Aims To End Chip Piracy 312

Posted by kdawson
from the can-you-unlock-me-now dept.
Stony Stevenson writes "Pirated microchips based on stolen blueprints could soon be a thing of the past thanks to computer engineers at Rice University and the University of Michigan. The engineers have devised a way to head off this costly infringement by giving each chip its own unique lock and key. The patent holder would hold the keys, and the chip would securely communicate with the patent holder to unlock itself. The chip could operate only after being unlocked. The Ending Piracy of Integrated Circuits (Epic) technique relies on established cryptography methods, and introduces subtle changes into the chip design process without affecting performance or power consumption. With Epic protection enabled, each integrated circuit would be manufactured with a few extra switches that behave like a combination lock."
Patents

"Bilski" Case May End Business Method Patents 101

Posted by kdawson
from the good-riddance dept.
hey sends us to a blog at NYTimes outlining the upcoming appeal of the case known as "re Bilski," which could spell the end of patents on methods of doing business later this year. One patent expert is quoted: "I think this is the unraveling of business method patents... I think there is a process we are going to go through to get there and the Supreme Court is going to be the one that decides it." But another expert thinks the case is unlikely to bring down the whole class of patents: "Definitions of business method patents always end up being circular. You can't really ban something unless you can define it and no one is offering a definition we can use."
Robotics

A Modular Snake Robot 103

Posted by kdawson
from the snakes-in-a-pipe dept.
StCredZero writes "Researchers at CMU are working on a Modular Snake Robot. A video from this site is up on YouTube. In addition to being able to traverse a wide variety of terrain, the robot can also climb poles, the inside of pipes and conduits, small grooves in walls, and probably more. It can also swim. Many robots can do one of those tasks. This one can do them all. That's quite an accomplishment. This has tremendous potential for the maintenance of fiber optic networks, pipelines, and plumbing in large buildings; and also as a spy device. (I wonder how loud it is?)"
Technology

Brain Scanner Can Tell What You're Looking At 158

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-does-a-scanner-see dept.
palegray.net writes "Wired News brings us an article about brain scanning systems that can accurately tell what you're looking at by analyzing your brain's electrical activity. Using a database constructed of readings taken on test subjects who were shown thousands of photographs, the system works in real time to decipher what you're seeing. Naturally, there are some ethical concerns over some potential applications for this technology. Definitely a new twist on "input devices.""
Mars

Will Mars be a One-way Trip? 724

Posted by samzenpus
from the please-send-paris-hilton dept.
alexj33 writes "Will humans ever really go to Mars? Let's face it, the obstacles are quite daunting. Not only are there numerous, difficult, technical issues to overcome, but the political will and perseverance of any one nation to undertake such an arduous task is huge. However, one former NASA engineer believes a human mission to Mars is quite possible, and such an event would unify the world as never before. But Jim McLane's proposal includes a couple of major caveats: the trip to Mars should be one-way, and have a crew of only one person."
The Internet

Jimmy Wales Faces Allegations of Corruption 289

Posted by Zonk
from the he's-no-jimmy-james dept.
eldavojohn writes "The SFGate site has up an article noting that Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, is facing allegations from multiple quarters accusing him of abusing his power. Several people apparently claim he used the foundation to pay for personal expenses, including reimbursement for a $1,300 dinner for four at a Florida steakhouse. Accusations have also been made indicating that he edited the Wikipedia entry of political commentator Rachel Marsden, a woman he was seeing, at her request. In the case of that allegation, Wales replied that 'I acted completely consistently with Wikipedia policy. I did the right thing: I passed along my work to date for other editors to deal with, and I recused myself from the case.'"
Role Playing (Games)

D&D's Story Manager Answers Your Questions on Camera 112

Posted by Zonk
from the get-that-man-a-lozenge dept.
Chris Perkins, story manager for the upcoming Fourth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons, took some time out this past weekend at the D&D Experience event to talk back to us. He answered the concerns of five readers who had commented on their responses to our earlier questions from January. With a large amount of information about Fourth Edition now out in the open and the NDA for playtesters lowered, there's been a floodgate of new concerns over the latest change to this tabletop icon. You might also be interested in the other videos from Gamer Radio Zero filmed at the D&D Experience event, which covers everything from DMG design to D&D Insider pricing. Chris's responses can be seen in the YouTube videos included below. Thanks both to Mr. Perkins and Michael Lescault for making this interaction possible.
Space

Statue of Galileo Planned for Vatican 333

Posted by Zonk
from the isn't-it-ironic dept.
Reservoir Hill writes "Four hundred years after it put Galileo on trial for heresy the Vatican is to complete its rehabilitation of the scientist by erecting a statue of him inside Vatican walls. The planned statue is to stand in the Vatican gardens near the apartment in which Galileo was incarcerated. He was held there while awaiting trial in 1633 for advocating heliocentrism, the Copernican doctrine that the Earth revolves around the Sun. The move coincides with a series of celebrations in the run-up to next year's 400th anniversary of Galileo's development of the telescope. In January Pope Benedict XVI called off a visit to Sapienza University, Rome, after staff and students accused him of defending the Inquisition's condemnation of Galileo. The Vatican said that the Pope had been misquoted and since the episode, several of the professors have retracted their protest."
Space

Probe Captures Avalanche on Mars 69

Posted by Zonk
from the not-a-recommended-vacation-spot dept.
mdekato writes "MSNBC reports that NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured an avalanche on Mars' surface as it happened. Very good still images show what must have been an awesome sight. 'The full image reveals features as small as a desk in a strip of terrain 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) wide and more than 10 times that long, at 84 degrees north latitude. Reddish layers known to be rich in water ice make up the face of a steep slope more than 2,300 feet (700 meters) tall, running the length of the image. Mars' north pole is covered by a cap of ice, and it even snows there. The scientists suspect that more ice than dust probably makes up the material that fell from the upper portion of the scarp.'"
The Courts

Should RIAA Investigators Have To Disclose Evidence? 216

Posted by Zonk
from the special-rules-for-special-people dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "A technology battle is raging in UMG v. Lindor, a court case in Brooklyn. The issue at hand is whether the RIAA's investigator SafeNet (the company that acquired MediaSentry) now needs to disclose its digital files, validation methodology, testing procedures, failure rates, software manuals, protocols, packet logs, source code, and other materials, so that the validity of its methods can be evaluated by the defense. SafeNet and the RIAA say no, claiming that the information is 'proprietary and confidential'. Ms. Lindor says yes, if you're going to testify in federal court the other side has a right to test your evidence. A list of what is being sought (pdf) is available online. MediaSentry has produced 'none of the above'. 'Put up or shut up' says one commentator to SafeNet."
Graphics

AMD's Hybrid Graphics Unveiled, Tested 90

Posted by Zonk
from the more-than-meets-the-eye dept.
ThinSkin writes "The combination of AMD's ATI graphics division and AMD's CPU division means that AMD often fights a two-front war, directly competing against Intel in the CPU business as well as Nvidia in graphics. AMD's Hybrid Graphics technology allows them to fight against both companies at the same time. Inserting an additional card works the same as CrossFire, which, like Nvidia's SLI, was only capable by having two discrete graphics cards installed on a motherboard. ExtremeTech has put the 780G chipset through a series of gaming and synthetic benchmarks to see just how beneficial this technology is. HotHardware has a similar rundown on the technology. The results indicate that Hybrid Graphics aren't yet ideal for the power-hungry gamer, as driver revisions need to be ironed out at this early stage, but performance looks promising."

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