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Submission + - New Explain This! series is on recent US Subcritical nuclear explosions (

Lasrick writes: Earlier this month, the US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced that it had conducted a subcritical experiment with plutonium in an underground tunnel 300 meters below the Nevada National Security Site (formerly, the Nevada Test Site), about 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The Bulletin's first installment in this new series explains what the tests were and whether the government provided the transparency it seeks from Russia and China on similar testing. The series is sort of a Bill Nye for adults.

Submission + - The Shoddy Science Behind AP's "Diagram" of Iran's Nuclear Computer Simulations (

Harperdog writes: "This week the Associated Press reported that unnamed officials "from a country critical of Iran's nuclear program" leaked an illustration to demonstrate that "Iranian scientists have run computer simulations for a nuclear weapon that would produce more than triple the explosive force of the World War II bomb that destroyed Hiroshima." The problem is, the diagram is proof of no such thing; a major error and the fact that similar diagrams are found in physics textbooks point to an unauthentic image."

Submission + - Scientific American's Fred Guterl explores the real threats posed by technology (

Lasrick writes: Fred Guterl is the executive editor of Scientific American, and in this piece he explores various real threats posed by technology that modern civilization relies on. Discusses West African and Indian monsoons, infectious diseases, computer hacking. Here's a quote: "Today the technologies that pose some of the biggest problems are not so much military as commercial. They come from biology, energy production, and the information sciences — and are the very technologies that have fueled our prodigious growth as a species. They are far more seductive than nuclear weapons, and more difficult to extricate ourselves from. The technologies we worry about today form the basis of our global civilization and are essential to our survival."

Submission + - Astronomers get picture of nearby exoplanet

The Bad Astronomer writes: "While nearly a thousand planets are known to orbit other stars, getting direct pictures of them is extremely difficult due to the glare from their host stars. Fewer than a dozen images of exoplanets exist. However, we can now add one more to the list: Kappa Andromedae b, or Kap And b for short. It's about 170 light years away, and orbits Kappa And, a massive star bright enough to see with the naked eye. One hitch: its mass puts it right at the upper limit for a planet, and it may edge into brown dwarf territory. Further observations are needed to pin its mass down."

Submission + - SolarWinds Web Performance Monitor - New Release! (

LawrenceGarvin writes: A new version of SolarWinds Web Performance Monitor (previously known as Synthetic End-User Monitoring) was released today just in time for Cyber Monday.

Three tips to keep websites working reliably are:
  1. Test the impact of changes to website from the end-user's perspective before the big event.
  2. Ensure adequate capacity for influx of user requests.
  3. Monitor availability and performance of the supporting infrastructure.


Submission + - Atomic Comics: Comic books and the atomc education of America (

Lasrick writes: Great review of the book "Atomic Comics." Includes wonderful old illustrations from Atomic Rabbit, Atoman, Buck Rogers, True Comics, Whiz Comics, etc. Here's a quote: "Still, the comics had been dealing with atomic beams, weapons, and propulsion through most of the war, and if these comic strips and books were wrong about the details, Szasz notes, "the fact that the American public instantly grasped the basic outlines of the atomic age almost surely has its roots in the larger-than-life adventures of Superman, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and Mickey Mouse, and well as other long-forgotten characters from that 'loose and baggy creature' of American popular culture.""
The Military

Submission + - Iran and the Bomb: how does the IAEA determine compliance? (

Harperdog writes: "Excellent roundtable kicks off with three articles exploring the legal and investigative standards the IAEA uses to determine whether Iran is complying with agreements, and whether those standards are appropriate and legal. This roundtable will be updated regularly over the next few weeks."

Submission + - Defense Research overhaul needed to prevent scientist shortage (

Tator Tot writes: "Quoting C&EN News: "The Department of Defense will have to confront critical shortages of scientists and engineers if it doesn’t change how it recruits researchers and manages its science and technology enterprise, according to a report by the National Academies. The report finds that DOD scientists and engineers are not being used to their full potential, their career growth is limited, and the hiring process for new workers is slow and opaque.""

Submission + - On Brink of War in Idaho: readying Titan I missiles during Cuban Missile Crisis ( 1

Lasrick writes: The Bulletin has two first-person accounts of military personnel readying missiles during the Cuban Missile Crisis (50 years ago this month): former US Air Force Col. Charles G. Simpson describes his efforts to prepare new Titan I missiles based in Idaho for use during the CMC — as his wife prepared to give birth to a new son. Retired Soviet Col. Valery Yarynich also provides his personal account at a Soviet rocket corps base in the Ural Mountains: Really great companion pieces

Submission + - Green Grid Argues That Data Centers Can Lose the Chillers (

Nerval's Lobster writes: "The Green Grid, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making IT infrastructures and data centers more energy-efficient, is making the case that data center operators are operating their facilities in too conservative a fashion. Rather than rely on mechanical chillers, it argues in a new white paper, data centers can reduce power consumption via a higher inlet temperature of 20 degrees C.

Green Grid originally recommended that data center operators build to the ASHRAE A2 specifications: 10 to 35 degrees C (dry-bulb temperature) and between 20 to 80 percent humidity. But the paper also presented data that a range of between 20 and 35 degrees C was acceptable.

Data centers have traditionally included chillers, mechanical cooling devices designed to lower the inlet temperature. Cooling the air, according to what the paper originally called anecdotal evidence, lowered the number of server failures that a data center experienced each year. But chilling the air also added additional costs, and PUE numbers would go up as a result."


Submission + - TechCrunch Launches CrunchGov, a Tech Policy Platform (

An anonymous reader writes: TechCrunch has launched a project called CrunchGov, which aims to bring educated people together to work on tech-related government policy. "It includes a political leaderboard that grades politicians based on how they vote on tech issues, a light legislative database of technology policy, and a public markup utility for crowdsourcing the best ideas on pending legislation." They give politicians scores based on how their votes align with consensus on policy in the tech industry. "A trial run of the public markup utility in Congress has already proven successful. When Rep. Issa opened his own alternative to SOPA for public markup, Project Madison participants came in droves with surprisingly specific legal suggestions. For instance, one savvy user noticed that current piracy legislation could mistakenly leave a person who owns a domain name legally responsible for the actions of the website administrator (the equivalent of holding a landlord responsible if his tenant was growing pot in the backyard). The suggestion was included in the updated bill before Congress, representing perhaps the first time that the public, en masse, could have a realistic shot at contributing to federal law purely based on the merit of their ideas."

Submission + - What does your degree matter? Millions of dollars over time (

coondoggie writes: "Over the course of a working career, the type of degree you have can be worth millions of more dollars to your bottom line. The US Census Bureau this week came out a wit couple first-time studies that show people with higher level technical or engineering degrees can on average make over $3 million more during their lifetimes than those who graduated with majors in the arts, humanities and education."

Submission + - Converting sea water to navy jet-fuel (

Jules IV writes: "Navy scientists and researchers say they are close to a breakthrough toward turning seawater into jet fuel.
The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory is working to extract the carbon dioxide and produce hydrogen gas from the seawater. The key is then converting the carbon dioxide and hydrogen into hydrocarbons that can then be used to develop JP-5 fuel stock."

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