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+ - Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power

Submitted by (3830033) writes "Diane Cardwell reports in the NYT that many utilities are trying desperately to stem the rise of solar power, either by reducing incentives, adding steep fees or effectively pushing home solar companies out of the market. The economic threat has electric companies on edge. Over all, demand for electricity is softening while home solar is rapidly spreading across the country. There are now about 600,000 installed systems, and the number is expected to reach 3.3 million by 2020, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. In Hawaii, the current battle began in 2013, when Hawaiian Electric started barring installations of residential solar systems in certain areas. It was an abrupt move — a panicked one, critics say — made after the utility became alarmed by the technical and financial challenges of all those homes suddenly making their own electricity. “Hawaii is a postcard from the future,” says Adam Browning, executive director of Vote Solar, a policy and advocacy group based in California.

But utilities say that solar-generated electricity flowing out of houses and into a power grid designed to carry it in the other direction has caused unanticipated voltage fluctuations that can overload circuits, burn lines and lead to brownouts or blackouts. “At every different moment, we have to make sure that the amount of power we generate is equal to the amount of energy being used, and if we don’t keep that balance things go unstable,” says Colton Ching, vice president for energy delivery at Hawaiian Electric, pointing to the illuminated graphs and diagrams tracking energy production from wind and solar farms, as well as coal-fueled generators in the utility’s main control room. But the rooftop systems are “essentially invisible to us,” says Ching, “because they sit behind a customer’s meter and we don’t have a means to directly measure them.” The utility wants to cut roughly in half the amount it pays customers for solar electricity they send back to the grid. “Hawaii’s case is not isolated,” says Massoud Amin. “When we push year-on-year 30 to 40 percent growth in this market, with the number of installations doubling, quickly — every two years or so — there’s going to be problems.”"

+ - New Chemical Tools Lead to Targeted Cancer Drugs

Submitted by caudex
caudex (923661) writes "Proteins are encoded in DNA, and while the degeneracy of the genetic code works to minimize errors, a single DNA basepair mutation can change the structure of the encoded protein. When a mutated protein causes uncontrolled cell growth, we call it cancer. Unfortunately proteins typically contain hundreds of amino acids, and developing a drug that will target the version of a protein containing one amino acid mutation is difficult. For this reason most anticancer agents indiscriminately attack both mutant and healthy proteins and tissues. Researchers at Caltech have come up with a potentially general method for selectively drugging only the mutant protein at fault for cancerous activity, even in the crowded and complex milieu of living cells. Their proof of concept study published in Nature Chemistry targets the E17K mutation which can be the causative mutation of many types of cancer."

+ - IT worker's lawsuit accuses Tata of discrimination->

Submitted by dcblogs
dcblogs (1096431) writes "An IT worker is accusing Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) of discriminating against American workers and favoring "South Asians" in hiring and promotion. It's backing up its complaint, in part, with numbers. The lawsuit, filed this week in federal court in San Francisco, claims that 95% of the 14,000 people Tata employs in the U.S. are South Asian or mostly Indian. It says this practice has created a "grossly disproportionate workforce." India-based Tata achieves its "discriminatory goals" in at least three ways, the lawsuit alleges. First, the company hires large numbers of H-1B workers. Over from 2011 to 2013, Tata sponsored nearly 21,000 new H-1B visas, all primarily Indian workers, according to the lawsuit's count. Second, when Tata hires locally, "such persons are still disproportionately South Asian," and, third, for the "relatively few non-South Asians workers that Tata hires," it disfavors them in placement, promotion and termination decisions."
Link to Original Source

+ - Photos: Toroidion 1MW Concept (1341 hp) unveiled in Monaco->

Submitted by MotoJ
MotoJ (4060121) writes "Although the full specifications are yet to be revealed, Finnish constructor Toriodion has unveiled it's electric supercar in Monaco. It produces one megawatt of power (1341 hp), the powertrain is scalable and it promises a rapid battery swap. This last feature would be necessary as they have ambitions to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours race in the future."
Link to Original Source

+ - Meet the new leader of Debian open source project->

Submitted by alphadogg
alphadogg (971356) writes "Neil McGovern is the new leader of the Debian open source/free software project after defeating two rival contenders in a vote held among developers that closed on Wednesday. McGovern, who lives in England, is an engineering manager at open-source consultancy and development firm Collabora, and has been a Debian developer since 2005. He ran unsuccessfully for project leader last year."
Link to Original Source

+ - HGST Announces Scorching Fast NVMe PCIe Ultrastar SSDs In Capacities Up To 3.2TB->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "HGST, a Western Digital company, just announced a new NVMe PCI Express SSD that is rated faster than even Intel's new blistering-fast SSD 750. To be fair, the Intel SSD 750 Series is aimed at the consumer/prosumer market whereas HGST's new Ultrastar SN100 is aimed squarely at the enterprise market. The HGST Ultrastar SN100 Series will be offered in both HH-HL PCIe card and SFF 2.5-inch form-factors in capacities up to 3.2 Terabytes. Naturally, these SSDs support UEFI boot, PCIe Gen 3.0, and feature power fail protection, "enterprise-grade reliability," and secure erase. HGST is targeting the Ultrastar SN100 series at a number of applications including virtualized computing, high frequency trading, and cloud/hyperscale or enterprise/high performance computing. Max reads speeds of 3,000 MB/sec and writes of 1,600 MB/sec have been specified and Read/Write random 4k IOPs are listed at 743,000 and 160,000 IOPS respectively. All drives come with a 5-year warranty."
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+ - SpaceX Dragon launches successfully but no rocket recovery

Submitted by monkeyzoo
monkeyzoo (3985097) writes "SpaceX has successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft en route to the International Space Station with supplies (including an Italian espresso machine). This was also the second attempt to recover the launch rocket aboard a ship, but that apparently was not successful. Elon Musk tweeted that the rocket landed on the recovery ship but too hard to be reused."

+ - Schneier on 'really bad' IoT security: 'It's going to come crashing down'->

Submitted by alphadogg
alphadogg (971356) writes "Security expert Bruce Schneier has looked at and written about difficulties the Internet of Things presents — such as the fact that the “things” are by and large insecure and enable unwanted surveillance– and concludes that it’s a problem that’s going to get worse before it gets better. After a recent briefing with him at Resilient Systems headquarters in Cambridge, Mass., where he is CTO, he answered a few questions about the IoT and what corporate security executives ought to be doing about it right now."
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+ - Bolivia Demands Assange Apologize For Deliberately False Leaks To The US

Submitted by Rei
Rei (128717) writes "In 2013, during Edward Snowden's brief and chaotic search for asylum that ultimately landed him in Russia, the US faced criticism for handing information to various European nations that Bolivian president Evo Morales was smuggling him out of Russia, leading to the grounding of his flight. In a new twist, in the documentary Terminal F about this time period, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange admitted that he was the one who deliberately leaked the fake information to the US government. Bolivia is been none too pleased with this news and is now demanding that Assange apologize for putting their president's life at risk."

+ - Can civilization reboot without fossil fuels?->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "We often talk about our dependence on fossil fuels, and vigorously debate whether and how we should reduce that dependence. This article at Aeon sidesteps the political bickering and asks an interesting technological question: if we had to rebuild society, could we do it without all the fossil fuels we used to do it the first time? When people write about post-apocalyptic scenarios, the focus is usually on preserving information long enough for humanity to rebuild. But actually rebuilding turns out to be quite a challenge when all the easy oil has been bled from the planet. It's not that we're running out, it's that the best spots for oil now require high tech machinery. This would create a sort of chicken-and-egg problem for a rebuilding society. Technological progress could still happen using other energy production methods. But it would be very slow — we'd never see the dramatic accelerations that marked the industrial age, and then the information age. "A slow-burn progression through the stages of mechanisation, supported by a combination of renewable electricity and sustainably grown biomass, might be possible after all. Then again, it might not. We’d better hope we can secure the future of our own civilisation, because we might have scuppered the chances of any society to follow in our wake.""
Link to Original Source

+ - California Looks to the Sea for a Drink of Water

Submitted by (3830033) writes "Justin Gillis writes in the NYT that as drought strikes California, residents can't help noticing the substantial reservsoir of untapped water lapping at their shores — 187 quintillion gallons of it, more or less, shimmering invitingly in the sun. Once dismissed as too expensive and harmful to the environment desalination is getting a second look. A $1 billion desalination plant to supply booming San Diego County is under construction and due to open as early as November, providing a major test of whether California cities will be able to resort to the ocean to solve their water woes. “It was not an easy decision to build this plant,” says Mark Weston, chairman of the agency that supplies water to towns in San Diego County. “But it is turning out to be a spectacular choice. What we thought was on the expensive side 10 years ago is now affordable.”

Carlsbad’s product will sell for around $2,000 per acre-foot (the amount used by two five-person U.S. households per year), which is 80 percent more than the county pays for treated water from outside the area. Water bills already average about $75 a month and the new plant will drive them up by $5 or so to secure a new supply equal to about 7 or 8 percent of the county’s water consumption. Critics say the plant will use a huge amount of electricity, increasing the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming, which further strains water supplies. And local environmental groups, which fought the plant, fear a substantial impact on sea life. "There is just a lot more that can be done on both the conservation side and the water-recycling side before you get to [desalination]," says Rick Wilson, coastal management coordinator with the environmental group Surfrider Foundation. "We feel, in a lot of cases, that we haven't really explored all of those options.""

+ - Live Rocket Engine Test

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Copenhagen Suborbitals, the amateur manned space program, is conducting a rocket engine test today sunday. The event is streamed Live in HD on YouTube from 1 PM localtime (GMT+2). The rocket engine is named BPM 2 and is a prequel to a planned series of test of the BPM 5 rocket engine currently being build. The purpose of the BPM 2 test is primarily to test a newly constructed mobile test stand and to test various fuel additives before the BPM 5 test series are to begin later in the first half of 2015."

+ - Google Battles for Better Batteries->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The Wall Street Journal reports that Google's X research lab has joined the quest for better batteries. The company has at least 20 projects that depend on batteries, from Google Glass to self-driving cars and drones. Thus, it makes sense for them to try developing new battery technology. "At Google, Dr. Bhardwaj’s group is trying to advance current lithium-ion technology and the cutting-edge solid-state batteries for consumer devices. ... In a February presentation to an industry conference, Dr. Bhardwaj described how solid-state, thin-film batteries could be used in smartphones and other mobile devices that are thinner, bendable, wearable and even implantable in the human body. ... For the contact lens, the technology is safer because it doesn't use flammable electrolyte liquid, Dr. Bhardwaj's presentation explained.""
Link to Original Source

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