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Mars

Scientists Propose One-Way Trips To Mars 839

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the thousands-would-do-it dept.
vortex2.71 writes "Invoking the spirit of Star Trek in a scholarly article entitled 'To Boldly Go,' two scientists contend human travel to Mars could happen much more quickly and cheaply if the missions are made one-way. They argue that it would be little different from early settlers to North America, who left Europe with little expectation of return. 'The main point is to get Mars exploration moving,' said Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University, who wrote the article in the latest Journal of Cosmology with Paul Davies of Arizona State University. The colleagues state — in one of 55 articles in the issue devoted to exploring Mars — that humans must begin colonizing another planet as a hedge against a catastrophe on Earth."
Microsoft

Microsoft Patents Foot Computing 107

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the prior-art-your-butt dept.
theodp writes "Microsoft Research has made it possible for a mother to surf the web while nursing her newborn, thanks to its newly-patented 'foot-based user interface' (FUI?). 'In addition to causing health problems,' explains Microsoft in the patent, 'the traditional keyboard and mouse interface can be simply inconvenient in certain situations as well. In one instance, a mother with a baby in her arms is unable to easily perform simple tasks, such as checking email, on a computer.' Users of the 'Foot-Based Interface for Interacting With a Computer,' however, will be able to move their feet and step on the floor a la DDR to execute various commands, such as deleting email or scrolling down the screen. Due to the usual foot-dragging on the part of the USPTO, the patent — filed for in 2006 — was essentially obsolete by the time it was issued on Tuesday, a week after Microsoft's Kinect launch."
Government

NSA Says Its Secure Dev Methods Are Publicly Known 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the nothing-special dept.
Trailrunner7 writes "Despite its reputation for secrecy and technical expertise, the National Security Agency doesn't have a set of secret coding practices or testing methods that magically make their applications and systems bulletproof. In fact, one of the agency's top technical experts said that virtually all of the methods the NSA uses for development and information assurance are publicly known. 'Most of what we do in terms of app development and assurance is in the open literature now. Those things are known publicly now,' Neil Ziring, technical director of the NSA's Information Assurance Directorate, said in his keynote at the OWASP AppSec conference in Washington Wednesday. 'It used to be that we had some methods and practices that weren't well-known, but over time that's changed as industry has focused more on application security.'"
Education

Astonishing Speedup In Solving Linear SDD Systems 157

Posted by kdawson
from the want-to-see-it-again? dept.
eldavojohn writes "A new paper (PDF) out of Carnegie Mellon University shows how to solve symmetric diagonally dominant linear systems much faster than before. The technique employs graph theory, randomized algorithms, and linear algebra to achieve an astonishing advantage over current methods to solve such systems. From the article: 'The result is a significant decrease in computer run times. The Gaussian elimination algorithm runs in time proportional to s^3, where s is the size of the SDD system as measured by the number of terms in the system, even when s is not much bigger the number of variables. The new algorithm, by comparison, has a run time of s*[log(s)]^2. That means, if s = 1 million, that the new algorithm run time would be about a billion times faster than Gaussian elimination.' Developers out there who maintain matrix packages and linear algebra tools might want to take a peak at the paper. Anyone who has modeled real-world systems will be able to tell you that speedups in linear algebra algorithms have a weighty effect on efficiency in simulations — especially as one approaches the theoretical limits of optimality. This research is currently being presented at the IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science."
Toys

Programmable Magnets 120

Posted by kdawson
from the spooky-action-at-a-distance dept.
Martin Hellman writes "A few weeks ago Popular Mechanics awarded one of its Breakthrough Awards for the invention of 'programmable magnets.' Instead of having a single North or South pole, these clever devices have an array of North and South poles. If a matching device with exactly the same array is aligned with the first one, they will experience strong repulsion, just like two single North poles do when brought near one another. If the matching device has the complementary array (North and South interchanged), with correct alignment the two devices will attract. But a slight misalignment will cancel most of the force. Other configurations are possible as well, allowing frictionless magnetic gears and exploding toys. The inventor, Larry Fullerton, used techniques similar to those from CDMA modulation. (Watch the intro video for a brief explanation. While I don't understand magnetism that well, I do understand CDMA and carrying over those ideas to magnetic arrays does make sense to me.)"
Space

The Sun's 'Quiet Period' Explained 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the ra-needs-naps-too dept.
Arvisp writes with this excerpt from the BBC: "Solar physicists may have discovered why the Sun recently experienced a prolonged period of weak activity. The most recent so-called 'solar minimum' occurred in December 2008. Its drawn-out nature extended the total length of the last solar cycle — the repeating cycle of the Sun's activity — to 12.6 years, making it the longest in almost 200 years. The new research suggests that the longer-than-expected period of weak activity may have been linked to changes in the way a hot soup of charged particles called plasma circulated in the Sun."
Image

Woman Claims Wii Fit Caused Persistent Sexual Arousal Syndrome 380 Screenshot-sm

Posted by samzenpus
from the can't-stop-playing dept.
Amanda Flowers always liked her Wii Fit but now she can't get enough of it. Amanda claims a fall from her balance board damaged a nerve and has left her suffering from persistent sexual arousal syndrome. From the article: "The catering worker said: 'It began as a twinge down below before surging through my body. Sometimes it built up into a trembling orgasm.' A doctor diagnosed her with persistent sexual arousal syndrome due to a damaged nerve."
Robotics

5-Axis Robot Carves Metal Like Butter 277

Posted by kdawson
from the measure-your-head-very-carefully dept.
kkleiner sends along an amazing video of what robot-controlled machining is coming to. "Industrial robots are getting precise enough that they're less like dumb machines and more like automated sculptors producing artwork. Case in point: Daishin's Seki 5-axis mill. The Japanese company celebrated its 50th anniversary last year by using this machine to carve ... a full-scale motorcycle helmet out of one piece of aluminum. No breaks, no joints, the 5-Axis mill simply pivots and rotates to carve metal at some absurd angles. Every cut is guided by sophisticated 3-D design software (Openmind’s HyperMill)."
Hardware

+ - 3-D Printer Creates Buildings From Solid Stone!->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "D-Shape, an innovative new 3-D printer, builds solid structures like sculptures, furniture, even buildings from the ground up. The device relies on sand and magnesium glue to actually build structures layer by layer from solid stone. The designer, Enrico Dini, is even talking with various organizations about making the printer compatible with moon dust, paying the way for an instant moonbase!"
Link to Original Source

+ - Why don't printers just share their print driver?

Submitted by fsterman
fsterman (519061) writes "My day job is working at a printing company and the set-up for the $20,000 printer their and the $100 printer at my house is almost the exact same, except when I went browsing for the printer on my home network I needed to have the drivers installed on my laptop whereas the work printer shares the driver; no install needed. As a usability person, it's the single largest problem with printers. Why the hell don't the manufacturers just have the various drivers reside on the printer? It would only require a few megs of space, it would give a leg-up to smaller vendors, and it could be a great selling point "No driver install headaches!""
Displays

Membrane That Turns Any Surface Into a Touchscreen 111

Posted by timothy
from the wasn't-picking-my-nose dept.
alx5000 writes "Engadget has a story about Displax Interactive Systems, a Portuguese company that has created a new polymer film that, when stuck onto a surface, converts it into a multitouch touchscreen with up to 16 contact points. The article states that 'if all goes well, the first Displax-enabled wares will start shipping this July.'"
Google

Google Proposes DNS Extension 271

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the you-know-my-name dept.
ElusiveJoe writes "Google, along with a group of DNS and content providers, hopes to alter the DNS protocol. Currently, a DNS request can be sent to a recursive DNS server, which would send out requests to other DNS servers from its own IP address, thus acting somewhat similar to a proxy server. The proposed modification would allow authoritative nameservers to expose your IP address (instead of an address of your ISP's DNS server, for example) in order to 'load balance traffic and send users to a nearby server.' Or it would allow any interested party to look at your DNS requests. Or it would send a user from Iran or Libya to a 'domain name doesn't exist' server."
Biotech

"Normal" Prions May Protect Myelin 81

Posted by kdawson
from the simple-fold-of-fate dept.
thomst writes "Nature Neuroscience just published an online article about the function of 'normal' prions in protecting myelin, the substance that sheathes and protects sensory and motor nerves. The international study (which has 11 authors) concluded that 'normal' (i.e., not mis-folded) prions may form a protective coat around myelin. The researchers found that Prnp -/- mice (mice with the gene for prions knocked out) consistently developed progressive demyelination, inevitably leading to persistent polyneuropathy by 60 weeks of age. Their data suggest that damage to myelin sheaths cause normal prions to cleave, and the resulting prion fragments activate Schwann cells, which are known to play a part in myelin repair. This research might eventually lead to possible treatments for progressive polyneuropathies in humans, including those mediated by Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, and even diabetes."

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