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Australia

+ - U.S. Robots Win Big Down Under 1

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "US teams dominated the MAGIC 2010 autonomous robotics competition, mapping and neutralizing simulated bombs at the 250,000 sq. meter Royal Showgrounds in Adelaide, Australia. Leading the pack with a team of fourteen robots was Team Michigan, principally from the University of Michigan, followed by the University of Pennsylvania, and RASR. This contest marks the beginning of practical robots that not only think for themselves, but also actively coordinate with a human commander."
Power

Tiny ARM-Based Sensor System Makes Battery Replacement Obsolete 96

Posted by timothy
from the transcend-batteries dept.
An anonymous reader writes "University of Michigan researchers have crammed an ARM Cortex microcontroller, a thin-film battery, and a solar cell into a package that is only 9 cubic millimeters in volume. The system is able to run perpetually by periodically recharging the on-board battery with a solar cell (neglecting physical wear-out of the system)."
Image

Pigeon Turns Out To Be Faster Than S. African Net 406 Screenshot-sm

Posted by samzenpus
from the fast-and-pigeon-fast dept.
inject_hotmail.com writes "The results are in: it's faster to send your data via an airborne carrier than it is through the pipes. As discussed Tuesday, a company in South Africa called Unlimited IT, frustrated by terribly slow Internet speeds, decided to prove their point by sending an actual homing pigeon with a "data card" strapped to its leg from one of their offices to another while at the same time uploading the same amount of data to the same destination via their ISPs data lines. The media outlet reporting this triumph said that it took the pigeon just over 1 hour to make the 80km/50mile flight, whereas it took over 2 hours to transfer just 4% of that data."
GUI

Preview the Office 2007 Ribbon-Like UI Floated For OpenOffice.Org 617

Posted by timothy
from the trial-balloon-target-practice dept.
recoiledsnake writes "OpenOffice.org has prototyped a new UI that radically changes the current OO.o interface into something very similar to the new ribbon style menus that Office 2007 introduced and which have been extensively used throughout Windows 7. The blog shows a screenshot of the prototype in Impress (the equivalent of PowerPoint), but this UI is proposed to be used across all OO.o applications. Some commenters on the Sun blog are not happy about OO.o blindly aping Office 2007, and feel that the ribbon UI may be out of place in non-Windows operating systems."
Security

Is China Creating the World's Largest Botnet Army? 195

Posted by timothy
from the economies-of-scale dept.
david_a_eaves writes "The Chinese government is mandating that all computers sold in China come with Internet blocking software. Rob Cottingham writes an excellent piece noting how the censorship application of this software should be the least of our concerns. This new software may create an opportunity for the Chinese Government to appropriate these computers and use them to create the worlds largest botnet army." Update: 06/11 21:26 GMT by T : J. Alex Halderman writes "My students and I have been examining the Green Dam censorware software. We've found serious vulnerabilities that can be exploited by any web site a user visits with the software installed. We also found that some of the blacklists seems to have been taken from the American-made filtering program CyberSitter. We've posted a report and demo."
Math

String Theory Predicts Behavior of Superfluids 348

Posted by kdawson
from the good-for-something dept.
schrodingers_rabbit writes "Despite formidable odds, condensed matter physicists have made a breakthrough most thought impossible — finding a practical use for string theory. The initial breakthrough was made by physicist and cosmologist Juan Maldacena. His theory states that the known universe is only a 2D construct in anti-de-Sitter space, projected into 3 dimensions. This theory manages to model black holes and quantum theory congruently, a feat that has eluded scientists for decades; but it fails to correspond to the shape of space-time in the known universe. However, it does predict thermodynamic properties of black holes, including higher-dimensional viscosity — the equations for which elegantly and almost exactly calculate the behavior of quark-gluon plasma and other superfluids. According to Jan Zaanen at the University of Leiden, 'The theory is calculating precisely what we are seeing in experiments.' Unfortunately, the correspondence cannot prove or disprove string theory, although it is a positive step." Not an easy path to follow: one condensed matter theorist said, "It took two years and two 1000-page books of dense mathematics, but I learned string theory and got kind of enchanted by it. [When the string-theory related] thing began to... make predictions about high-temperature superconductors, my traditional mainstay, I was one of the few condensed matter physicists with the preparation to take it up."
Education

VHDL or Verilog For Learning FPGAs? 301

Posted by timothy
from the which-has-the-better-swag dept.
FlyByPC writes "We're in the first stages of designing a course in programmable devices at the university where I work. The course will most likely be centered around various small projects implemented on an FPGA dev board, using a Xilinx Spartan3-series FPGA. I have a bit of experience working with technologies from 7400-series chips (designing using schematics) to 8-bit microcontrollers to C/C++. FPGAs, though, are new to me (although they look very interesting.) If you were an undergraduate student studying programmable devices (specifically, FPGAs), would you prefer the course be centered on VHDL, Verilog, a little of both, or something else entirely? (...Or is this an eternal, undecidable holy-war question along the lines of ATI/nVidia, AMD/Intel, Coke/Pepsi, etc...?) At this point, I've only seen a little of both languages, so I have no real preference. Any input, especially if you're using one or both in the field, would be very helpful. Thanks, and may all of your K-maps be glitch-free."
Businesses

Paul Wilmott Wants To Retrain and Reform Wall Street's Quants 198

Posted by timothy
from the reductionism-has-its-downsides dept.
theodp writes "What if an aeronautics engineer couldn't reconcile his elegant design for a state-of-the-art jumbo jet with Newton's second law of motion and decided to tweak the equation to fit his design? In a way, Newsweek reports, this is what's happened in quantitative finance, which is in desperate need of reform. And 49-year-old Oxford-trained mathematician Paul Wilmott — arguably the most influential quant today — thinks he knows where to start. With his CQF program, Wilmott is out to save the quants from themselves and the rest of us from their future destruction. 'We need to get back to testing models rather than revering them,' says Wilmott. 'That's hard work, but this idea that there are these great principles governing finance and that correlations can just be plucked out of the air is totally false.'"
Medicine

How Common Is Scientific Misconduct? 253

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-steal-plutonium-from-terrorists dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The image of scientists as objective seekers of truth is periodically jeopardized by the discovery of a major scientific fraud. Recent scandals like Hwang Woo-Suk's fake stem-cell lines or Jan Hendrik Schön's duplicated graphs showed how easy it can be for a scientist to publish fabricated data in the most prestigious journals. Daniele Fanelli has an interesting paper on PLoS ONE where she performs a meta-analysis synthesizing previous surveys to determine the frequency with which scientists fabricate and falsify data, or commit other forms of scientific misconduct. A pooled, weighted average of 1.97% of scientists admitted to having fabricated, falsified or modified data or results at least once — a serious form of misconduct by any standard — and up to 33.7% admitted other questionable research practices. In surveys asking about the behavior of colleagues, admission rates were 14.12% for falsification, and up to 72% for other questionable research practices. Misconduct was reported more frequently by medical/pharmacological researchers than others. 'Considering that these surveys ask sensitive questions and have other limitations, it appears likely that this is a conservative estimate of the true prevalence of scientific misconduct,' writes Fanelli. 'It is likely that, if on average 2% of scientists admit to have falsified research at least once and up to 34% admit other questionable research practices, the actual frequencies of misconduct could be higher than this.'"
Education

Students, the Other Unprotected Lab Animals 236

Posted by kdawson
from the protection-available-but-not-to-you dept.
theodp writes "Slate reports on the horrible — and preventable — death of a young UCLA biochemist in a t-butyl lithium incident, which led a Chemical Health and Safety columnist to the disheartening conclusion that most academic laboratories are unsafe venues for work or study. It's estimated that accidents and injuries occur hundreds of times more frequently in academic labs than in industrial ones. Why? For one thing, Slate says, occupational safety and health laws that protect workers in hazardous jobs apply only to employees, not to undergrads, grad students, or research fellows who receive stipends from outside funders."
Education

MS Word 2010 Takes On TeX 674

Posted by timothy
from the math-journals-won't-be-switching-anytime-soon dept.
alphabetsoup writes "Office 2010 Technology preview was leaked a few days back. With its leak, a feature which was rumored to be present can now be confirmed. Office 2010 finally adds support for Advanced Typographic features (ligatures, number forms, alternates, etc.) of OpenType, allowing one to create documents so far possible only in TeX or InDesign. Between this, the new equation editor and styles, what are the chances of Word replacing LaTeX as the editor of choice in academia?"
GUI

Hardware-Accelerated Graphics On SGI O2 Under NetBSD 75

Posted by timothy
from the progress-in-unexpected-places dept.
Zadok_Allan writes "It's a bit late, but since many readers will remember the SGI O2 fondly, this might interest a few. The gist of the story is this: NetBSD now supports hardware accelerated graphics on the O2 both in X and in the kernel. We didn't get any help from SGI, and the documentation available doesn't go beyond a general description and a little theory of operation, which is why it took so long to figure it out. The X driver still has a few rough edges (all the acceleration frameworks pretty much expect a mappable linear framebuffer, if you don't have one — like on most SGI hardware — you'll have to jump through a lot of hoops and make sure there's no falling back to cfb and friends) but it supports XRENDER well enough to run KDE 3.5. Yes, it's usable on a 200MHz R5k O2. Not quite as snappy as any modern hardware but nowhere near as sluggish as you'd expect, and since Xsgi doesn't support any kind of XRENDER support, let alone hardware acceleration, pretty much anything using anti-aliased fonts gets a huge performance boost out of this compared to IRIX."
The Internet

The More Popular the Browser, the Slower It Is 367

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the software-always-gets-slower dept.
demishade writes "Peacekeeper, the browser benchmark from the makers of 3DMark, comes out of beta and shows an interesting (though perhaps not surprising) tidbit — the more popular a browser, the worse its performance. While it should not be surprising to anyone that IE slugs at the last place, the gap between Firefox and Chrome, is. Once IE's market share goes the way of the Dodo will web developers start cursing Firefox? How long until Google comes out with a JavaScript intensive application that will practically require Chrome to function?"
Technology

Illusion Cloak Makes One Object Look Like Another 219

Posted by samzenpus
from the cloak-of-the-beholder dept.
KentuckyFC writes "Metamaterials are synthetic substances that can steer light in any way imaginable. Their most famous incarnation is in invisibility cloaks which work by steering light around a region of space making any object inside that region invisible. But invisibility is just the start. A team of physicists in Hong Kong (the same guys who recently worked out how to cloak objects at a distance) have worked out how to create a cloak that makes one object look like another. Instead of steering light to make a region of space look empty, the illusion cloak manipulates light in a way that makes a region of space look as if it contains a specific object. So any object within that region of space, a mouse say, takes on the appearance of an elephant."

"Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!" -- Looney Tunes, "What's Opera Doc?" (1957, Chuck Jones)

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