Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale Extended! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 20% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY20". ×

Dutch Unveil Robot Gas Station Attendant 287

Lucas123 writes "According to a Reuters' story, Dutch inventors today took the wraps off a $110,000 car-fueling robot they say is the first of its kind. (It was inspired by a cow milking robot.) After registering the car as it pulls up to the pump, the machine matches your fuel cap design with those in a database and your car's fuel type, and then a robotic arm fitted with multiple sensors extends from a regular gas pump, 'opens the car's flap, unscrews the cap, picks up the fuel nozzle and directs it towards the tank opening, much as a human arm would, and as efficiently.' Wait till Hollywood gets hold of this scenario."

Life May Have Evolved In Ice 159

Philip Bailey writes "An article in this month's Discover Magazine claims that some of the fundamental organic molecules required for the development of life could have spontaneously arisen within ice. Scientist Stanley Miller was responsible for seminal experiments in the 1950s in this area. He used sparks and a mixture of inorganic chemicals to test his theories, but turned to low temperature experiments in later years. He was able to create the constituents of RNA and proteins from a mixture of cyanide, ammonia and ice in trials lasting up to 25 years. A process known as eutectic freezing is thought to be the basis of these results: small pockets of liquid water, in which foreign molecules are concentrated enormously, increases the reaction rates, and more than compensates for temperature-related slowing."

Top 10 Most Memorable Tech Super Bowl Ads Screenshot-sm 179

theodp writes "From 1977's lovable Xeroxing Monk to 2007's smug-and-rich SalesGenie pitch man, Valleywag has rounded up videos for its Top 10 most memorable tech-oriented Super Bowl commercials. The commercials are: Apple (1984), Monster (1999), CareerBuilder (2005), GoDaddy (2005), Xerox (1977), E*Trade (1999), (2000), (2000), (2007) and OurBeginning (2000). This year's ads are coming soon." I've always been a fan of the gerbil cannon spot.
United States

US Pulls Plug on Low-CO2 Powerplant Project 360

Geoffrey.landis writes "The administration announced plans to withdraw its support from FutureGen. FutureGen was a project to develop a low CO2-emission electrical power plant, supported by an alliance of a dozen or so coal companies and utilities from around the world. The new plant would have captured carbon dioxide produced by combustion and pumped it deep underground, to avoid releasing greenhouse-gas into the atmosphere. It had been intended as a prototype for next generation clean-coal plants worldwide. Originally budgeted at about a billion dollars, the estimated cost had "ballooned" to $1.8 billion, according to U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman."

Open Source Electronic Voting Progress Limited 113

An anonymous reader points us to a story about how the problems with electronic voting mostly stem from one source: the lack of mandated standardization. The LinuxInsider article goes on to suggest that once the issue of a universal voting platform is solved, the way is paved for open-source software to address concerns over accuracy and transparency. Though the article states that "no open source program for voting machines yet exists," it should be noted that such software was successfully tested earlier this month. Quoting: "People debate the merits of e-voting for a variety of reasons, including suspicion of new technologies and a general distrust of politics, according to Jamie McKown, Wiggins professor of government and polity at the College of the Atlantic. 'Reports on e-voting security often de-contextualize the history of voter fraud in this country, as if boxes were somehow assumed to be better. You constantly hear calls for paper trails, and open and free inspection of voting machine source code. But it's a very thorny issue and one that has a lot of facets,' McKown told LinuxInsider."

Apple Can't Afford iPhone's Carrier Exclusivity 371

WirePosted writes with an ITWire article about the problems that Apple's AT&T exclusivity deal could pose in the coming years. Initially the company needed AT&T's commitment to the project, to ensure features like visual voicemail would work. With the iPhone a hit even at its current high price that no longer seems to be the case. Can Apple afford to stick to an exclusive carrier in the future? If for no other reason than consumer choice? "iPhones are being sold unlocked in the markets of Asia where you can't get them with a carrier plan, but they're also being bought and unlocked in the US and Europe. The message is that many and probably most iPhone buyers would like to be given a choice of carrier when they buy their iPhone. Some would be prepared to pay more as they do with other smartphones and buy their iPhone unattached to any subsidized carrier contract. The point is many consumers feel no loyalty to carriers and resent being forced to choose one."

Could We Find a Door To A Parallel Universe? 327

p1234 writes "Though no direct evidence for wormholes has been observed, this could be because they are disguised as black holes. Now Alexander Shatskiy of the Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow, Russia, is suggesting a possible way to tell the two kinds of object apart. His idea assumes the existence of a bizarre substance called "phantom matter", which has been proposed to explain how wormholes might stay open. Phantom matter has negative energy and negative mass, so it creates a repulsive effect that prevents the wormhole closing. 'US expert Dr Lawrence Krauss, from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, points out that the idea rests on untested assumptions. He told New Scientist magazine: "It is an interesting attempt to actually think of what a real signature for a wormhole would be, but it is more hypothetical than observational. Without any idea of what phantom matter is and its possible interactions with light, it is not clear one can provide a general argument."'"
The Courts

A Look at The RIAA's War Against College Students 159

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes " has put together a fascinating retrospective on the RIAA's war against college students, commenced February 28, 2007. The campaign is described as one to 'force "consumers" to buy what they're told to buy — corporate "content," as the Big 4 call their formulaic outpourings.' In a scathing indictment not only of the major record labels, but of those schools, administrators, and educators who have yet to take a stand against it, Jon Newton reviews a number of landmark moments in the 11-month old 'reign of terror'. They include the announcement of the bizarre 'early settlement' sale, the sudden withdrawal of a case in which a 17 year old Texas high school student had been subpoenaed while in class during school hours to attend a deposition the very next day during his taking of a standardized test, the call by Harvard law professors for the university to fight back when and if attacked, and the differing reactions by other schools."
Real Time Strategy (Games)

The Physics of Football 163

Ponca City, We Love You writes "There will be a program on applied physics and real time strategy that you might want to watch on television today. Conservation of momentum during elastic and inelastic collisions is one aspect on which to focus as players tackle their opponents. It is of critical importance that the Patriots bring down New York's huge and powerful running back, 6-foot-4, 265-pound Brandon Jacobs. An average-size NFL defensive back's mass combined with his speed — on average, 4.56 seconds for the 40-yard dash — can produce up to 1600 pounds of tackling force. A tackle with half a ton of force may sound like a crippling blow, but the body can handle twice that amount because the player's equipment spreads out the incoming energy, lessening its severity." Nanotech specialists from Cornell have developed their own take on the "physics" of the Super Bowl by creating the world's smallest trophy, which will be awarded today to a contestant who best explains an aspect of football physics. Just some food for thought while you watch the game on your brand new HD television, though you'd better not be watching it in a church.

MIT Researchers Fight Gridlock with Linux 75

nerdyH brings us a report about a Linux-based device being developed at MIT which aims to reduce traffic congestion as well as assist automotive research projects. "The current focus of the project is in developing algorithms that run on top of the portal application to help drivers plot the best route at a given time. For example, the team's MyRoute project includes applications that model delays observed on road segments as statistical distributions. Various algorithms then use these to compute optimal routes for different times of the day. 'Instead of asking the shortest time or shortest distance from point A to point B, you ask what route should be taken, say, for the highest probability of getting to the airport by a certain time depending on the time selected,' says Madden."

Finnish Patient Gets New Jaw from His Own Stem Cells 141

An anonymous reader writes with news out of Finland, where a patient's upper jaw was replaced with bone cultivated from stem cells and grown inside the patient himself. We discussed other advances in stem cell research a few months ago. Quoting: "In this case they identified and pulled out cells called mesenchymal stem cells -- immature cells than can give rise to bone, muscle or blood vessels. When they had enough cells to work with, they attached them to a scaffold made out of a calcium phosphate biomaterial and then put it inside the patient's abdomen to grow for nine months. The cells turned into a variety of tissues and even produced blood vessels, the researchers said."

Yahoo Deal Is Big, but Is It the Next Big Thing? 159

mattsgotredhair brings us a NYTimes article discussing how Microsoft's bid for Yahoo contrasts against one of the core philosophies of Silicon Valley: looking forward. From the Times: "Microsoft may see Yahoo as its last best chance to catch up. But for all its size and ambition, the bid has not been greeted with enthusiasm. That may be because Silicon Valley favors bottom-up innovation instead of growth by acquisition. The region's investment money and brain power are tuned to start-ups that can anticipate the next big thing rather than chase the last one. 'This is the very nature of the Valley,' said Jim Breyer of the venture capital firm Accel Partners. 'After very strong growth, businesses by definition start to slow as competition increases and young creative start-ups begin to attack the incumbents.'"

The Effects of the Fibre Outage Throughout the Mediterranean 101

Umar Kalim writes "Analysts have been studying the effects of the fibre outage throughout the Mediterranean in terms of network performance, by examining the changes in packet losses, latencies and throughput. We initially discussed the outage yesterday. 'It is interesting that some countries such as Pakistan were mainly unaffected, despite the impact on neighboring countries such as India. This contrasts dramatically to the situation in June - July 2005, when due to a fibre cut of SEAMEWE3 off Karachi, Pakistan lost all terrestrial Internet connectivity which resulted, in many cases, in a complete 12 day outage of services. This is a tribute to the increased redundancy of international fibre connectivity installed for Pakistan in the last few years.'"
Wireless Networking

Cellphones to Monitor Highway Traffic 119

Roland Piquepaille writes "On February 8, 2008, about 100 UC Berkeley students will participate in the Mobile Century experiment, using GPS mobile phones as traffic sensors. During the whole day, these students carrying the GPS-equipped Nokia N95 will drive along a 10-mile stretch of I-880 between Hayward and Fremont, California. 'The phones will store the vehicles' speed and position information every 3 seconds. These measurements will be sent wirelessly to a server for real-time processing.' As more and more cellphones are GPS-equipped, the traffic engineering community, which currently monitors traffic using mostly fixed sensors such as cameras and loop detectors, is tempted to use our phones to get real-time information about traffic."
The Internet

Time Warner Filtering iTunes Traffic? 199

An anonymous reader writes "Starting on Thursday, January 31st, Time Warner subscribers in Texas starting experiencing connectivity issues to the iTunes store to the point where the service wasn't usable. General internet traffic issues haven't coincided with these problems, and many folks have reported that the store works as normal when they head to the nearest mega-bookstore and use their ISP instead. Time Warner has announced that they're going to begin trials of tiered pricing in one local Texas market, but I'll be darn sure to switch my provider if I hear the slightest hint of destination/content based tiers instead of bandwidth tiers."

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN