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Hardware Hacking

DIY Laser Cutter Raises Capital, Concerns 184

An anonymous reader sends this quote from Wired: "Affordable 3-D printers and CNC mills are popping up everywhere, opening up new worlds of production to wide ranges of designers. However, one major tool still hasn’t received a DIY overhaul: the laser cutter. Maybe people are sensitive because Goldfinger tried to cut James Bond in half with one, but all that changes now with Patrick Hood-Daniel’s new Kickstarter, 'Build Your Own Laser Cutter.' ... A 40-watt laser tube and power supply means it can cut a variety of materials: wood, plastic, fabric, and paper. ... There is one major red flag, however. The machine’s frame is built from of Medium Density Overlay (MDO) — a type of plywood. Hood-Daniels says this is a feature, making the blackTooth less sensitive to thermal distortion and inaccuracy than a metal frame, but it also creates a serious, fire-breathing concern. ... When asked for comment, Hood-Daniel says 'Initially, I had the same thoughts as to the precarious use of wood for the structure, but even with long burns to the structure which were made on accident when starting a run, there was no ignition.'"

Ask Slashdot: Advice On a DIY Neutron Beam? 117

Max Littlemore writes "I have been breeding at home using lots of old smoke detectors with a view toward generating my own and getting off the grid. The only thing stopping me is a reliable neutron beam. Given that all the equipment I'm using is re-purposed kitchen equipment, concerns about safety mean I'm to build a uranium reactor to supply neutrons to the thorium one. So I'm putting the question out there: do any Slashdotters know of a way to make a powerful neutron beam out of things I might find around the house?" It would be helpful to include images and diagrams of your own personal neutron beam .

Microsoft's New Attempt To Dominate Robotics 225

An anonymous reader writes "IEEE Spectrum reports that Microsoft's Robotics Group is announcing new world domination plans — at least for the robotics world. The company is making its Robotics Developer Studio (RDS), which includes Microsoft's CCR and DSS runtime toolkit, available to anyone for free. Why make it a freebie? Because the company wants to expand its RDS base and get a grip on the robotics development space, hoping big things will come out of it."

Can Oil-Eating Bacteria Help Clean Up the Gulf Oil Spill? 139

sciencehabit writes "At this point it's unclear how much of an environmental threat oil spreading from the BP spill will cause, but the federal government is mobilizing thousands of workers to prepare for the worst. They have a potential ally: microbes that have evolved an ability to break down oil that seeps from the ocean bottom. It gets devoured by a variety of bacteria, which eat it by chemically transforming its compounds into useful cellular constituents." Wired has some pictures of the spill from orbiting satellites.

Computers To Mark English Essays 243

digitig writes "According to The Guardian, computers are to be used in the UK to mark English examination essays. 'Pearson, the American-based parent company of Edexcel, is to use computers to "read" and assess essays for international English tests in a move that has fueled speculation that GCSEs and A-levels will be next. ... Pearson claims this will be more accurate than human marking.' Can computers now understand all the subtle nuances of language, or are people going to have to learn an especially bland form of English to pass exams?"

US Plans "Disposable" Nuclear Batteries 297

holy_calamity writes "A US government program is in the works to design small nuclear reactors for use by developing countries. The work continues despite fears about security and nuclear proliferation. Plans include having reactors supplied with fuel by the US and other trusted nations, or to build reactors with their whole lifetime of fuel packaged securely inside — like a giant non-user replaceable radioactive battery.' '"

China Vows to Stop the Rain 214

Since the Olympic stadium doesn't have a roof, the Beijing Meteorological Bureau has been given the task of making sure the games remain dry. According to Zhang Qian, head of weather manipulation (best title to have on a business card ever) at the bureau, they've had success with light rain but heavy rain remains tough to control. I see a hurricane cannon in some lucky country's future.

The trouble with money is it costs too much!