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Ocean Planets on the Brink of Detection 159

ZonkerWilliam writes "It seems, at least theoretically, that there may be 'ocean planets' out there in the galaxy. If there are, we are closer than ever to detecting them. The formation of such planets is fairly likely, reports the PhysOrg article, despite the lack of an obvious example in our own solar system. We may have a former ocean planetoid in the neighborhood, orbiting the planet Jupiter: the moon Europa. These water worlds are the result of system formation castoffs, gas giant wannabes that never grew large enough. If any of these intriguing object exist nearby, the recently launched CoRoT satellite will be the device we use to see it. The article explains some of the science behind 'ocean worlds', as well as the new technology we'll use to find them."

Maxwell's Demon Soon A Reality? 148

DMiax writes "Reuters reports that a group of scientists from University of Edimburgh may have realized a nanomolecular engine - a Maxwell's Demon. The device selects and traps other molecules based on their direction of motion. Physicist James Maxwell first imagined the nano-scale device in 1867, and the research team cites him as the basis for their understanding of how lights, heat, and molecules interact. The device is powered by light, and may spur advances in nano-scale technology to new heights in coming years."

California Proposes to Ban Incandescent Lightbulbs 1074

zhang1983 writes to tell us CNN is reporting that California Assemblyman Lloyd Levine wants to make his state the first to ban incandescent lightbulbs with the "How Many Legislators Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb Act". The act will promote Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) to replace the inefficient incandescent lightbulbs. According to him, "Incandescent lightbulbs were first developed almost 125 years ago, and since that time they have undergone no major modifications, meanwhile, they remain incredibly inefficient, converting only about 5 percent of the energy they receive into light."
Real Time Strategy (Games)

The Evolution of StarCraft 89

Ars Technica's Opposable Thumbs blog links to a piece chock full of gaming history. The StarCraft Legacy site offers up a historical record of the evolution of StarCraft . Written back in 2004, it is still relevant today. A game title that, lo these many years later, not only has an avid cult following but may be the most popular sport in South Korea is something you want to keep in mind. We may even hear word of a sequel this year. The piece runs down the numerous changes the game underwent, from the ugly alpha days through to the upheaval of Brood War (damned Lurkers). Tidbits like this make the article well worth checking out: "The game made a weak first impression at [E3], and it received much criticism. There were many remarks that the game looked too much like 'Orcs in space.' When Blizzard came back from E3 that year, they decided to scrap the idea. Their decision? 'Let's step it up a little more, let's revamp the engine, let's do more than what we're showing. We can't do Orcs in space.' Thus, StarCraft was reborn. The basics of the Warcraft II engine were still used, but more work was being put into the design and programming."
Media (Apple)

Interview With "Switcher Girl" Ellen Feiss 351

Ed over in Accounting writes in with a Macinstein interview with Ellen Feiss, an Internet cult figure of a bygone era. Back in 2002, in the heyday of Apple's "Switcher" ads, the 14-year-old Feiss garnered a bit more than 15 minutes of fame. Her Switcher ad became an instant classic — partly because of the widespread belief that she was stoned while filming it, which she says was not the case. In the interview Feiss, who is now a college student with one movie behind her, talks about pseudo Internet fame, drugs, and acting. She says she's still using the same G4 she had when the ad ran. Nostalgia bonus: the ad is embedded at the end of the interview.
PC Games (Games)

Gamers React to Vista Launch 171

As cranky as IT folks are about having to roll out new Vista installs, support them, update them, etc, gamers are matching them in irritation. Ars Technica recommends you dual-boot XP and Vista if you want to keep gaming on your PC. Voodoo Extreme explores Vista's crappy audio setup, while Computer and VideoGames reports that some small developers think Vista will ruin PC gaming (a comment we've heard before). C&VG does have a slightly more hopeful article up too, talking about the future of Vista gaming and what the new OS could mean for games ... once all the kinks are worked out.

IBM's Chief Architect Says Software is at Dead End 334

j2xs writes "In an InformationWeek article entitled 'Where's the Software to Catch Up to Multicore Computing?' the Chief Architect at IBM gives some fairly compelling reasons why your favorite software will soon be rendered deadly slow because of new hardware architectures. Software, she says, just doesn't understand how to do work in parallel to take advantage of 16, 64, 128 cores on new processors. Intel just stated in an SD Times article that 100% of its server processors will be multicore by end of 2007. We will never, ever return to single processor computers. Architect Catherine Crawford goes on to discuss some of the ways developers can harness the 'tiny supercomputers' we'll all have soon, and some of the applications we can apply this brute force to."

Jim Gray Is Missing 283

K-Man writes "Jim Gray, Turing Award winner and developer of many fundamental database technologies, was reported missing at sea after a short solo sailing trip to the Farallon Islands off San Francisco. Gray is manager of Microsoft's eScience group. The Coast Guard is searching for his vessel over 4,000 square miles of ocean, and there have been no distress calls or signals of any kind. Gray is 63 and a sailor with 10 years' experience."

A sine curve goes off to infinity, or at least the end of the blackboard. -- Prof. Steiner