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A Step Closer To Cheap Nuclear Fusion 404

ewsnow writes "The Focus Fusion Society reports that the scientists and engineers at Lawrenceville Plasma Physics have finally built an operational Dense Plasma Focus device. While still at less than half power, they were able to achieve a pinch on their device. The small company that Eric Lerner started recently gathered enough funding to start a two-year study on the validity of his theory regarding fusion-inducing plasmoids. If the theory holds, the device will produce more electricity than it consumes. In contrast to the billions of dollars spent on Tokamak fusion (think ITER), LPP is conducting their research on a budget around a million dollars. Yet, if it works, it will provide nuclear fusion with much simpler equipment and much less cost. Eric Lerner and Focus Fusion have been discussed on Slashdot before."
Hardware Hacking

Open Source Russian Vacuum Fluorescent Tube Clock 155

ptorrone writes "Hacker extraordinaire Ladyada (whose open source hardware projects we have discussed before) has just published a complete how-to, with design document, on making your own open source Russian vacuum fluorescent clock. The vacuum fluorescent tubes aren't as dangerous as (high-voltage) Nixie tubes, and there seem to be more of them available in the world. If you're not interested in building a clock from scratch, you can also pick up a kit version. All the schematics, source code, and files are available on the project's page."
Input Devices

BrainPort Lets the Blind "See" With Their Tongues 131

Hugh Pickens writes "Scientific American reports that a new device called 'BrainPort' aims to restore the experience of vision for the blind and visually impaired by relying on the nerves on the tongue's surface to send light signals to the brain. BrainPort collects visual data through a small digital video camera and converts the signal into electrical pulses sent to the tongue via a 'lollipop' that sits directly on the tongue, where densely packed nerves receive the incoming electrical signals. White pixels yield a strong electrical pulse and the electrodes spatially correlate with the pixels, so that if the camera detects light fixtures in the middle of a dark hallway, electrical stimulations will occur along the center of the tongue. Within 15 minutes of using the device, blind people can begin interpreting spatial information. 'At first, I was amazed at what the device could do,' says research director William Seiple. 'One guy started to cry when he saw his first letter.'" There is some indication that the signals from the tongue are processed by the visual cortex. The company developing the BrainPort will submit it to the FDA for approval later this month, and it could be on sale (for around $10,000) by the end of the year.

Artificial intelligence has the same relation to intelligence as artificial flowers have to flowers. -- David Parnas