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Submission + - US Launches Largest Satellite in the World

Ponca City, We Love You writes: "Space.com reports that over the weekend a giant booster – a Delta 4 Heavy rocket — carrying a secret new spy satellite for the US National Reconnaissance Office roared into space to deliver what one reconnaissance official has touted as "the largest satellite in the world" into orbit. The Delta 4 Heavy rocket is the biggest unmanned rocket currently in service and has 2 million pounds of thrust, capable of launching payloads of up to 24 tons to low-Earth orbit and 11 tons toward the geosynchronous orbits used by communications satellites. The mammoth vehicle is created by taking three Common Booster Cores — the liquid hydrogen-fueled motor that forms a Delta 4-Medium's first stage — and strapping them together to form a triple-barrel rocket, and then adding an upper stage. The exact purpose of the new spy satellite NROL-32 is secret but is widely believed to be an essential eavesdropping spacecraft that requires the powerful lift provided by the Delta 4-Heavy to reach its listening post. "I believe the payload is the fifth in the series of what we call Mentor spacecraft, a.k.a. Advanced Orion, which gather signals intelligence from inclined geosynchronous orbits," says Ted Molczan, a respected sky-watcher who keeps tabs on orbiting spacecraft. Earlier models of the series included an unfurling dish structure about 255 feet in diameter with a total spacecraft mass of about 5,953.5 pounds costing about $750 million and designed to monitor specific points or objects of interest such as ballistic missile flight test telemetry."

Self-Building Chips — As Easy As Microwave Meals 51

nk497 writes "Canadian researchers have found a way to speed up self-assembling chips — by using microwaves instead of traditional ovens. Self-assembly is seen as key to enabling nanotechnology, but until now the block co-polymer method, which directs nanomaterials to create moulds and then fills them in with a target material, was too slow to be useful. 'By using microwaves, we have dramatically decreased the cooking time for a specific molecular self-assembly process used to assemble block co-polymers, and have now made it a viable alternative to the conventional lithography process for use in patterning semi-conductors,' the researchers said. The technique could make the technology a viable alternative to conventional lithography for chip production. 'We've got the process — the next step is to exploit it to make something useful.'"

Fermilab To Test Holographic Universe Theory 166

eldavojohn writes "Scientists at Fermilab have decided that it's high time they build a 'holometer' to test the smoothness of space-time. Theoretical physicists like Stephen Hawking have proposed that space-time is not smooth but it's been a lot of math and no actual data. The Fermilab team plans to build two relatively small devices that act as 'holographic interferometers' to measure the shaking or vibration in split beams of light traveling through a vacuum. If the team finds the shaking in their measurements and records them, the theory of a holographic universe will have some evidence of non-smoothness in space-time and perhaps a foothold in bringing light to the heavily debated theoretical physics."

OLPC Gets $5.6M Grant To Develop Tablet With Marvell 100

tugfoigel writes "According to Xconomy, 'The One Laptop per Child Foundation and Santa Clara, CA-based semiconductor maker Marvell have cemented a partnership announced last spring, with Marvell agreeing to provide OLPC with $5.6 million to fund development of its next generation tablet computer. Nicholas Negroponte says the deal, signed in the past week or so but not previously announced, runs through 2011. "Their money is a grant to the OLPC Foundation to develop a tablet or tablets based on their chip," he says. The OLPC tablet ... is known as the XO 3 because it represents the third-generation of the XO laptop currently sold by OLPC (the foundation scrapped plans for its e-book-like XO 2 computer and is moving straight to the tablet). ... The deal, he says, means the tablet's development is "fully funded."'"

15-Year-Old Boy Fitted With Robotic Heart 241

An anonymous reader writes "What do you do when a 15-year-old boy is close to death and ineligible for a heart transplant? If you're Dr. Antonio Amodeo you turn to an artificial solution and transplant a robotic heart, giving the boy another 20-25 years of life. The Italian boy in question suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which rapidly degenerates the muscles and eventually leads to death. Having such a disease renders the boy ineligible for a heart transplant, meaning almost certain death without an alternative solution. Dr. Amodeo found such an alternative in the form of a 90-gram, fully-robotic heart that took 10 hours to fit inside the boy's left ventricle. It is a permanent solution offering as much as 25 years of life and is powered by a battery worn as a belt."

Self-Assembling Photovoltaic Cells 103

dhj writes "MIT scientists have developed a self-assembling photovoltaic cell in a petri dish. Phospholipids (think cell membranes) form disks which act as the structural support for light responsive molecules. Carbon nanotubes help to align the disks and conduct electricity generated by the system with 40% efficiency. The assembly process is reversible using surfactants to break up the phospholipids. When filters are used to remove the surfactants the system reassembles with no loss of efficiency even over multiple assembly/disassembly cycles. The results were published September 5th in Nature Chemistry."
Data Storage

Distinguishing Encrypted Data From Random Data? 467

gust5av writes "I'm working on a little script to provide very simple and easy to use steganography. I'm using bash together with cryptsetup (without LUKS), and the plausible deniability lies in writing to different parts of a container file. On decryption you specify the offset of the hidden data. Together with a dynamically expanding filesystem, this makes it possible to have an arbitrary number of hidden volumes in a file. It is implausible to reveal the encrypted data without the password, but is it possible to prove there is encrypted data where you claim there's not? If I give someone one file containing random data and another containing data encrypted with AES, will he be able to tell which is which?"

US Gov't Makes a Mess of Classifying Sensitive Data 100

coondoggie writes "Protecting and classifying sensitive information such as social security numbers shouldn't be that hard, but (perhaps not surprisingly) the US government has elevated complicating that task to an art form. It seems that designating, safeguarding, and disseminating such important information involves over 100 unique markings and at least 130 different labeling or handling routines, reflecting a disjointed, inconsistent, and unpredictable system for protecting, sharing, and disclosing sensitive information." This was the conclusion of a recent report (PDF) by the Government Accountability Office, which also "found areas where sensitive information is not fully safeguarded and thus may remain at risk of unauthorized disclosure or misuse."

Hacker Teaches iPhone Forensics To Police 193

Ponca City, We love you writes "The Mercury News reports that former hacker Jonathan Zdziarski has been tapped by law-enforcement agencies nationwide to teach them just how much information is stored in iPhones — and how to get it. 'These devices are people's companions today,' says Zdziarski. 'They're not mobile phones anymore. They organize people's lives. And if you're doing something criminal, something about it is probably going to go through that phone.' For example, every time an iPhone user closes out of the built-in mapping application, the phone snaps a screenshot and stores it. Savvy law-enforcement agents armed with search warrants can use those snapshots to see if a suspect is lying about whereabouts during a crime."

GE Closes Last US Light Bulb Factory 797

pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that last major GE factory making ordinary incandescent light bulbs in the US is closing this month, marking a small, sad exit for a product and company that can trace their roots to Thomas Alva Edison's innovations in the 1870s. What made the plant vulnerable is, in part, a 2007 energy conservation measure passed by Congress that set standards essentially banning ordinary incandescents by 2014 but rather than setting off a boom in the US manufacture of replacement lights, the leading replacement lights are compact fluorescents, or CFLs, which are made almost entirely overseas. GE developed a plan to see what it would take to retrofit a plant that makes traditional incandescents into one that makes CFLs but even with a $40 million investment the new plant's CFLs would have cost about 50 percent more than those from China. 'Everybody's jumping on the green bandwagon,' says Pat Doyle, 54, who has worked at the plant for 26 years. But 'we've been sold out. First sold out by the government. Then sold out by GE.'"

Judge Allows Subpoenas For Internet Users 338

crimeandpunishment writes "A federal judge has ruled that the company holding a movie copyright can subpoena the names of people who are accused of illegally downloading and distributing the film. The judge ruled that courts have maintained that once people convey subscriber information to their Internet service providers, they no longer have an expectation of privacy."

Li-Ion Batteries Get Green Seal of Approval 69

thecarchik writes "It is not an easy task to compare the environmental effects of battery powered cars to those caused by conventionally fueled automobiles. The degree to which manufacture, usage and disposal of the batteries used to store the necessary electrical energy are detrimental to the environment is not exactly known. Now, for the first time, a team of Empa scientists have made a detailed life cycle assessment (LCA) or ecobalance of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, in particular the chemically improved (i.e. more environmentally friendly) version of the ones most frequently used in electric vehicles. Researchers decided to find out for sure. They calculated the ecological footprints of electric cars fitted with Li-ion batteries, taking into account all possible relevant factors, from those associated with the production of individual parts all the way through to the scrapping of the vehicle and the disposal of the remains, including the operation of the vehicle during its lifetime."

A New Species of Patent Troll 258

Geoffrey.landis writes "According to the Wall Street Journal, there's a new species of patent troll out there. These new trolls sue companies that sell products with an expired patent number on them. That's right, it's against the law to sell a product that's marked with an expired patent number. The potential fine? $500. Per violation. And some of the companies have patent numbers on old plastic molds that have made literally billions of copies. Using whistle-blower laws, 'anyone can file a claim on behalf of the government, and plaintiffs must split any fine award evenly with it.' You've been warned."
The Military

US Spends $11M To Kick-Start Video Search 67

coondoggie writes "The US military is inundated with video from airborne unmanned aircraft, remote monitoring systems and security outposts. In an effort to speed up the processing and analyzing of all this video, researchers at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) this week awarded an almost $11 million contract to open source software vendor Kitware to help develop what DARPA calls its Video and Image Retrieval and Analysis Tool (VIRAT) program."

You cannot have a science without measurement. -- R. W. Hamming