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Programming

+ - 10th ICFP Programming Contest Starts July 20th->

antientropic writes: "Registration is now open for the Tenth Annual ICFP Programming Contest, which runs for 72 hours starting July 20, 12:00 (noon) CEST. As in the previous nine editions, this is your chance to show that your favorite programming language (or your team) is better than all others! The ICFP Programming Contest is organised as part of the International Conference on Functional Programming in the hopes of showing off functional programming, but contestants can use any language(s) they like. Previous winners have included Cilk, OCaml (3x), Haskell (3x), C++ and 2D. Previous problems have ranged from programming intelligent ants to cracking the secrets of an ancient civilization. This year's contest seems to have something to do with visitors from outer space."
Link to Original Source
Robotics

+ - Rat-brained robot solves animal puzzles

Galactic_grub writes: A robot controlled by software modeled on the neuronal pathways in a rat's brain has proven itself to be a remarkable rodent mimic in classic animal experiments. When the robot was placed inside a maze, it 'instinctively' used landmarks to explore. Just like a real rat, it identified familiar places and even distinguished between locations that looked alike, after a single training session. The robot's control software models "place cells" — neurons in the hippocampus that light up when an animal is in a familiar place.
Displays

+ - Magnetic Nanotechnology for Displays

westcoaster004 writes: Researchers have reported a new means of inducing colour-change in a system using magnetism. The technology is suggested to have potential as a new display technology. The results are reported in Angewandte Chemie International Edition (abstract). Using polymer-coated iron oxide nanoparticles, a magnetic field organizes the nanoparticles into a 3-D array which acts as a photonic crystal which shows brilliant colours by reflecting light. By varying the magnetic field, a full spectrum can be obtained. Not only is this a first variable-colour photonic crystal, it is also done with iron, a rather inexpensive material. Here's another press release.
Google

+ - Forget Google: South Koreans Use Naver, Daum

Dekortage writes: "Despite the enormous popularity of Google in the U.S. and other countries, it barely has 2% of the market in South Korea. There, the most popular search results are gotten through Naver or Daum, according to a recent New York Times article. These sites are more like Yahoo Answers or Wikipedia in their approach, where participants freely answer other people's questions, building private databases of information that Google and other traditional search engines simply can't match."
Music

+ - Amazon announces DRM-free MP3 Downloads

Anonymous Coward writes: "Amazon.com today announced it will launch a digital music store later this year offering millions of songs in the DRM-free MP3 format from more than 12,000 record labels. EMI Music's digital catalog is the latest addition to the store. Every song and album in the Amazon.com digital music store will be available exclusively in the MP3 format without digital rights management (DRM) software. Amazon's DRM-free MP3s will free customers to play their music on virtually any of their personal devices — including PCs, Macs(TM), iPods(TM), Zunes(TM), Zens(TM) — and to burn songs to CDs for personal use. http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060 &p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1003003&highlight="
Announcements

+ - Portugal Celebrates Massive Solar Plant

SolarPower writes: A project slated to become the world's largest-producing solar power plant was inaugurated Wednesday in Portugal, though construction actually began last summer. The 11-megawatt 61 million euro ($78.5 million) plant, a joint project of U.S. and Portuguese energy companies, spreads across a 150-acre hillside in Serpa, 124 miles southeast of Lisbon.
User Journal

Journal: Argonne Hydrogen Catalyst Tools For Desalination

Argonne Labratories has just announced some advances in catalysts for fuel cells. They have developed some cool tools for catalytic research in doing so -- which I think might be applicable to desalination research as well. The idea would be to have a catalyst settle Na & Cl out of solution and skim off the fresh water. This would be an extremely cheap process. So cheap it would make it
Space

+ - A decade-long mystery has been solved

justelite writes: "A decade-long mystery has been solved using data from ESA's X-ray observatory XMM-Newton. The brightest member of the so-called 'magnificent seven' has been found to pulsate with a period of seven seconds. The discovery casts some doubt on the recent interpretation that this object is a highly exotic celestial object known as a quark star."
Security

+ - Skype BIOS Access due to DRM, Stops Doing It

ghoti writes: "As reported on /., Skype was recently found to read the BIOS, and there was much speculation as to the reasons. It turns out that it's due to DRM, and Skype blames a their new "Extras Gallery" plug-in manager. They have since upgraded that one to at least not access the BIOS anymore. The bad aftertaste of DRM and big-brothering remains, though."
AMD

+ - AMD plans an absolute GPGPU monster

socram writes: ATI is preparing something really, really special. If it manages to pull it off, it will be a breakthrough even Captain Hook couldn't have dreamt of. We are talking about a GPGPU product, the FireStream/Stream Processor board with no less than four (4) Gigabytes of local video memory. Did we mention real purpose of GPGPU? — annihilating the importance of CPU and server CPU margins, which cannot compare with R600 or G80 in terms of pure processing power. Of course, this comparison is valid only in GPGPU-friendly case scenarios, so we're talking about streamlined computing only. Engineers at PeakStream and Stanford Uni are already having wet-dreams about the possibilities that a single-GPU configuration will do, yet alone multi-GPU one. www.GPGPU.org

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