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Thorium, the Next Nuclear Fuel? 710

mrshermanoaks writes "When the choices for developing nuclear energy were being made, we went with uranium because it had the byproduct of producing plutonium that could be weaponized. But thorium is safer and easier to work with, and may cause a lot fewer headaches. 'It's abundant — the US has at least 175,000 tons of the stuff — and doesn't require costly processing. It is also extraordinarily efficient as a nuclear fuel. As it decays in a reactor core, its byproducts produce more neutrons per collision than conventional fuel. The more neutrons per collision, the more energy generated, the less total fuel consumed, and the less radioactive nastiness left behind. Even better, Weinberg realized that you could use thorium in an entirely new kind of reactor, one that would have zero risk of meltdown. The design is based on the lab's finding that thorium dissolves in hot liquid fluoride salts. This fission soup is poured into tubes in the core of the reactor, where the nuclear chain reaction — the billiard balls colliding — happens. The system makes the reactor self-regulating: When the soup gets too hot it expands and flows out of the tubes — slowing fission and eliminating the possibility of another Chernobyl. Any actinide can work in this method, but thorium is particularly well suited because it is so efficient at the high temperatures at which fission occurs in the soup.' So why are we not building these reactors?"

Are You Using SPF Records? 263

gravyface writes "I've been setting up proper Sender Policy Framework records for all my clients for past year or so, hoping to either maintain or improve their 'reputation' in the email universe. However, there's a lot of IT admins I speak with who either haven't heard of SPF records or haven't bothered setting them up. How many of you are using SPF records for your mail domains? Does it help? How many anti-spam vendors out there use SPF records as part of their 'scorecard'?"

Google Demonstrates Quantum Computer Image Search 106

An anonymous reader sends along this quote from New Scientist: "Google's web services may be considered cutting edge, but they run in warehouses filled with conventional computers. Now the search giant has revealed it is investigating the use of quantum computers to run its next generation of faster applications. Writing on Google's research blog this week, Hartmut Neven, head of its image recognition team, reveals that the Californian firm has for three years been quietly developing a quantum computer that can identify particular objects in a database of stills or video (PDF). Google has been doing this, Neven says, with D-Wave, a Canadian firm that has developed an on-chip array of quantum bits — or qubits — encoded in magnetically coupled superconducting loops."

Comment Re:LA may NOT be better (Score 1) 339

I work in south LA and in my experience, there are just as many people talking directly on their handset and checking their Blackberry, if not more. I just don't think it's being enforced. But really, it seems nearly impossible to enforce that law with any sort of efficacy. Just another useless law brought on by populist politicians...

Comment Re:Constant Noise (Score 2, Insightful) 1019

Exactly. Very repetitive music that covers much of the spectrum can be seen as a more enjoyable form of pink noise. The effect is to mask all other sounds you receive and to create an environment where no aural cues interrupt your attention. Once your brain has realized it's not going to receive interesting data from your ears it stops wasting focus on interpreting it.

There are very good reasons why people would need this. The "uniform noise environment" point has already been made. One poster noted that tinnitus sufferers need some kind of aural stimulus or they get hit by a distracting high-pitched squeal. Then there's a condition called hyperacusis - the sufferer is overly sensitive to sound, being easily distracted or perceiving sound as too loud earlier than most. A variant of this makes it hard to ignore any sound, even quiet ones - they automatically command the sufferer's attention. You can imagine what this does to the sufferer's concentration when someone nearby talks.

Developers need to dedicate as much mental capacity as possible to a given task, especially since they need to keep many different bits of information in their head at any time. This makes noise insulation a good idea. Noise-dampening headphones (in-ear phones or the big earmuff-types) can reduce reasonable external noise to a point where music or white noise at a sane volume will completely cancel most of it.

If music privileges are to be taken away, I recommend issuing passive noise-canceling gear to focus-oriented workers or installing pink noise generators to provide at least some form of noise suppression.

Comment Re:Oink! Oink! (Score 1) 209

I recall a story that the ill-fated solid booster rockets could have and should have been built in one piece near the launch site, but they were farmed out to Hatch's home state of Utah for political reasons. Transportation from there meant that they had to be built in segments joined with O-rings.

Is my memory correct?

Social Networks

Mafia Wars CEO Brags About Scamming Users 251

jamie writes with a follow-up to our recent discussion of social gaming scams: "Mark Pincus, CEO of the company that brought us Mafia Wars, says: 'I did every horrible thing in the book just to get revenues right away. I mean, we gave our users poker chips if they downloaded this Zwinky toolbar, which was like, I don't know... I downloaded it once and couldn't get rid of it.'" TechCrunch also ran a interesting tell-all from the CEO of a company specializing in Facebook advertisements, who provided some details on similarly shady operations at the popular social networking site.

Amazon Pulls Purchased E-Book Copies of 1984 and Animal Farm 645

Oracle Goddess writes "In a story just dripping with irony, Amazon Kindle owners awoke this morning to discover that 1984 and Animal Farm had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for, and thought they owned. Apparently the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic edition, and apparently Amazon, whose business lives and dies by publisher happiness, caved. It electronically deleted all books by George Orwell from people's Kindles and credited their accounts for the price. Amazon customer service may or may not have responded to queries by stating, 'We've always been at war with Eastasia.'"
The Media

Wikipedia Moving From GFDL To Creative Commons License 90

FilterMapReduce writes "The Wikimedia Foundation has resolved to migrate the copyright licensing of all of its wiki projects, including Wikipedia, from the GNU Free Documentation License to the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. The migration is scheduled to be completed on June 15. After the migration, reprints of material from the wikis will no longer require a full copy of the GFDL to be attached, and the attribution rules will require only a link to the wiki page. Also, material submitted after the migration cannot be forked with GFDL "invariant sections," which are impossible to incorporate back into a wiki in most cases. The GFDL version update that made the migration possible and the community vote that informed the decision were previously covered on Slashdot."

AIDS Drug Patent Revoked In US 357

eldavojohn writes "Doctors Without Borders is reporting that four patents for tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, a key AIDS/HIV drug, have been revoked on grounds of prior art. This is potentially good news for India & Brazil who need this drug to be cheap; if the US action leads to the patent being rejected in these countries, competition could drastically lower prices. But the ruling bad news for Gilead Sciences. The company has vowed to appeal. We discussed this drug before."

Take your work seriously but never take yourself seriously; and do not take what happens either to yourself or your work seriously. -- Booth Tarkington