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+ - The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy 1

Submitted by HughPickens.com
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes "Markus Krajewski reports that today, with many countries phasing out incandescent lighting in favor of more-efficient and pricier LEDs, it’s worth revisiting the history of the Phoebus cartel—not simply as a quirky anecdote from the annals of technology but as a cautionary tale about the strange and unexpected pitfalls that can arise when a new technology vanquishes an old one. Prior to the Phoebus cartel’s formation in 1924, household light bulbs typically burned for a total of 1,500 to 2,500 hours; cartel members agreed to shorten that life span to a standard 1,000 hours. Each factory regularly sent lightbulb samples to the cartel’s central laboratory in Switzerland for verification. If any factory submitted bulbs lasting longer or shorter than the regulated life span for its type, the factory was obliged to pay a fine.

Though long gone, the Phoebus cartel still casts a shadow today because it reduced competition in the light bulb industry for almost twenty years, and has been accused of preventing technological advances that would have produced longer-lasting light bulbs. Will history repeat itself as the lighting industry is now going through its most tumultuous period of technological change since the invention of the incandescent bulb. "Consumers are expected to pay more money for bulbs that are up to 10 times as efficient and that are touted to last a fantastically long time—up to 50,000 hours in the case of LED lights. In normal usage, these lamps will last so long that their owners will probably sell the house they’re in before having to change the bulbs," writes Krajewski. "Whether or not these pricier bulbs will actually last that long is still an open question, and not one that the average consumer is likely to investigate." There are already reports of CFLs and LED lamps burning out long before their rated lifetimes are reached. "Such incidents may well have resulted from nothing more sinister than careless manufacturing. But there is no denying that these far more technologically sophisticated products offer tempting opportunities for the inclusion of purposefully engineered life-shortening defects.""

+ - Microwave Links: Chicago to New York. The new new thing in 1949!->

Submitted by sumoinsanity
sumoinsanity (792816) writes "Everything old is new again. There has been much fuss about High Frequency Trading firms using microwave links as a new medium for communications. We Slashdot geeks need to be ready to repudiate such such rubbish with the simple truth that it was new 65 years ago next month. I hope you'll forgive the engineering cliffhanger at the end of the article."
Link to Original Source

+ - Was America's #1 Rocketeer a Communist Spy? The FBI thought so.

Submitted by IMissAlexChilton
IMissAlexChilton (3748631) writes "Frank Malina masterfully led the World War II effort to build U.S. rockets for jet-assisted takeoff and guided missiles. As described in IEEE Spectrum, Malina’s motley crew of engineers and enthusiasts (including occultist Jack Parsons) founded the Jet Propulsion Lab and made critical breakthroughs in solid fuels, hypergolics, and high-altitude sounding rockets, laying the groundwork for NASA’s future successes. And yet, under suspicion by the Feds at the war’s end, Malina gave up his research career, and his team’s efforts sank into obscurity. Taking his place: the former Nazi Wernher von Braun. Read “Frank Malina: America’s Forgotten Rocketeer”. Includes cool vintage footage of early JPL rocket tests. Disclosure: I am a staff editor with IEEE Spectrum."

+ - Researchers Create Virtual Reality 'Parties' to Treat Drug Addiction

Submitted by Jason Koebler
Jason Koebler (3528235) writes "To help people overcome drug addiction, researchers at the University of Houston’s Graduate School of Social Work are building hyper-realistic virtual worlds to recreate situations that trigger cravings for nicotine, alcohol, weed, and now, hard drugs like heroin.
Traditional relapse therapy usually involves roleplaying: Therapists often pretend to be a friend or some other familiar person and offer the patient their drug of choice in order to teach them avoidance strategies. By strapping patients into a virtual reality headset and running them through a familiar scenario where they commonly use the drug, like a party, the treatment can be much more realistic and effective, researchers say."

+ - Here's a way to store energy. In bags. Of Air. Underwater.

Submitted by IMissAlexChilton
IMissAlexChilton (3748631) writes "As described in IEEE Spectrum: Canadian startup Hydrostor thinks it has a solution to offshore wind power's intermittency problem: giant underwater bags. "Using electricity from Toronto Hydro’s grid to run a compressor, it will fill the bags with air. Later, when the utility needs electricity, the air will be emptied from the bags and run through a turboexpander." This will be the world’s first commercial facility for underwater compressed-air energy storage. To be sure, though, you'll need an awful lot of air-filled energy bags to back up a large wind farm. Disclosure: I am the author of the Spectrum article and a staff editor for same."

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