Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 25% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY25". ×

Submission + - Team constructs silicon 2-qubit gate, enabling construction of quantum computers (

monkeyzoo writes: A team at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney has made a crucial advance in quantum computing. Their advance, appearing in the journal Nature, demonstrated a two-qubit logic gate — the central building block of a quantum computer — and, significantly, did it in silicon. This makes the building of a quantum computer much more feasible, since it is based on the same manufacturing technology as today's computer industry. Until now, it had not been possible to make two quantum bits 'talk' to each other — and thereby create a logic gate — using silicon. But the UNSW team — working with Professor Kohei M. Itoh of Japan's Keio University — has done just that for the first time. The result means that all of the physical building blocks for a silicon-based quantum computer have now been successfully constructed, allowing engineers to finally begin the task of designing and building a functioning quantum computer.

A key advantage of the UNSW approach is that they have reconfigured the 'transistors' that are used to define the bits in existing silicon chips, and turned them into qubits. "The silicon chip in your smartphone or tablet already has around one billion transistors on it, with each transistor less than 100 billionths of a metre in size," said Dr Menno Veldhorst, a UNSW Research Fellow and the lead author of the Nature paper. "We've morphed those silicon transistors into quantum bits by ensuring that each has only one electron associated with it. We then store the binary code of 0 or 1 on the 'spin' of the electron, which is associated with the electron's tiny magnetic field," he added.

He said that a key next step for the project is to identify the right industry partners to work with to manufacture the full-scale quantum processor chip.

Submission + - Andy Weir, Author of The Martian, Explains the Science Behind His Plot Twists (

TheSunshineBand writes: To keep Mark Watney alive in The Martian, sci-fi author Andy Weir had to become a sort of Renaissance engineer. In this interactive video, Weir explains how he calculated every plot point based on real world constraints—including the amount water needed to farm a years’ worth of calories, the limits of current space suit designs, and the strengths and deficits of ion propulsion—and reveals a few behind the scenes secrets from the movie. He even wrote his own software to model the trajectory of the Hermes spacecraft for Watney’s rescue.

Fiction isn't as far from reality as you might think: Read IEEE Spectrum's special report on the technology that will take humans to the red planet.

Submission + - Cold Fusion Rears Ugly Head with Claims of Deuterium Powered Homes (

szczys writes: Ah, who can forget the cold-fusion fiasco of the early 1990's? Promises of room-temperature fusion machines in every home providing nearly-free energy for all. Relive those glory days of hype with this report of Deuterium-Based Home Reactors. Elliot Williams does a good job of deflating the sensationalism by pointing out all of the "breakthroughs", their lack of having any other labs successfully verify the experiments, and the fact that many of the same players from the news stories in the 90s are once again wrapped up in this one.

Submission + - World's largest atom smashers create world's smallest droplets (

Science_afficionado writes: An average sized drop of water contains about one hundred trillion trillion water molecules. But two of the world's most powerful particle colliders — the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva and the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider in Brookhaven — have managed to create droplets that are smaller than the nucleus of a single oxygen atom. The liquid they are made of is one of the most exotic forms of matter, called quark-gluon plasma, that only exists at temperatures higher that a trillion degrees.

Submission + - On-Chip Liquid Cooling Permits Smaller Devices With No Heatsinks Or Fans (

An anonymous reader writes: DARPA-funded research into on-chip liquid cooling has resulted in a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) liquid-cooled device that can operate at 24 degrees Celsius, versus 60 degrees Celsius for an equivalent air-cooled device. The cooling fluid resides only nanometers from the heat it must address, and operates so efficiently as to offer potential to stack CPUs and GPUs using copper columns, as well as dispensing with heat-sinks and fan systems. With those components removed, the system can facilitate far more compact designs than are currently feasible.

Submission + - CodeWeavers To Release CrossOver For Android To Run Windows Programs (

An anonymous reader writes: The better part of three years after originally talking of running Wine on Android to bring Windows x86 programs to Android phones/tablets, it's going to become a reality. CodeWeavers is planning to release CrossOver For Android before the end of the year. This will allow native Windows binaries to run on Android, but will be limited to Android-x86 due to struggles in emulating x86 Windows code on ARM. The tech preview will be free and once published the open-source patches will be published for Wine.

Submission + - Sensor Network makes life easier for Japan's aging rice farmers (

szczys writes: The average age of Japan's rice farmers is 65-70 years old. The work is difficult and even small changes to the way things are done can have a profound impact on these lives. The flooded paddies where the rice is grown must maintain a consistent water level which means farmers must regularly traverse the terraced fields to check many different paddies. A simple sensor board is changing this, letting farmers check their fields by phone instead of in person.

This might not sound like much, but reducing the number of times someone needs to walk the fields is has a big effect on the man hours spent on each crop. The system, called TechRice, is inexpensive and the nodes recharge batteries from a solar cell. The data is aggregated on the Internet and can be presented as a webpage, a text-message interface, or any other reporting scheme imaginable by utilizing the API of the Open Source software. This is a testament to the power we have as small groups of engineers to improve the world.

Submission + - The shut-down of Twitter's JSON API a brave bid for monetization (

An anonymous reader writes: This month Twitter is closing down the JSON endpoint API which thousands of third-party software and plugin developers have depended upon for years. The alternative Rest API offers data which is aggregated or limited in other ways, whilst the full-featured share data offered by Gnip (purchased last year by Twitter) can cost developers thousands per month to access — in one case up to £20,000 a month. The general objective seems to be to either drive users back to the core Twitter interface where they can be monetised via the social network's advertising, or to regain lost advertising by converting open source data — currently utilized a lot in scientific research — into premium information, offering the possibility for well-funded organisations to gain reputations as Twitter barometers without ever needing to expose the expensive, accurate share figures.

Submission + - Majority of EU nations seek opt-out from growing GM crops (

schwit1 writes: Nineteen EU member states have requested opt-outs for all or part of their territory from cultivation of a Monsanto genetically-modified crop, which is authorized to be grown in the European Union, the European Commission said on Sunday.

Submission + - Advertising Malware Affects Non-Jailbroken iOS Devices

An anonymous reader writes: YiSpecter is infecting iOS devices belonging to Chinese and Taiwanese users, and is the first piece of malware that successfully targets both jailbroken and non-jailbroken devices, Palo Alto Networks researchers warn. What's more, the techniques it uses for hiding are making it difficult to squash the infection. YiSpecter’s malicious apps were signed with three iOS enterprise certificates issued by Apple so that they can be installed as enterprise apps on non-jailbroken iOS devices via in-house distribution. Through this kind of distribution, an iOS app can bypass Apple’s strict code review procedures and can invoke iOS private APIs to perform sensitive operations.

Submission + - Scientists Invent a New Steel as Strong as Titanium ( 1

schwit1 writes: South Korean researchers have solved a longstanding problem that stopped them from creating ultra-strong, lightweight aluminum-steel alloys.

Today a team of material scientists at Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea announced what they're calling one of the biggest steel breakthroughs of the last few decades: an altogether new type of flexible, ultra-strong, lightweight steel. This new metal has a strength-to-weight ratio that matches even our best titanium alloys, but at one tenth the cost, and can be created on a small scale with machinery already used to make automotive-grade steel. The study appears in Nature.

Submission + - Chrome AdBlock joining Acceptable Ads Program (And Sold to Anonymous Company) (

basscomm writes: Hot on the heels of the formation of the independent board to oversee "acceptable ads", users of the popular Chrome ad blocking extension, AdBlock, got notice that AdBlock is participating by the program, and that acceptable ads are being turned on by default.

At the bottom of the announcement, buried in the fine print is word that AdBlock has been sold, but nobody will say to whom.

Submission + - Legionnaires' Bacteria Regrew in Bronx Cooling Towers That Were Disinfected (

schwit1 writes: The 15 water-cooling towers that were found to be contaminated this week amid a new cluster of Legionnaires' disease cases had been disinfected less than two months ago, New York City officials said on Thursday, raising questions about how successful the city can be in containing the disease.

After an outbreak of the disease killed 12 people in July and August in the South Bronx, the city required every building with cooling towers, a common source of the Legionella bacteria that cause the disease, to be cleaned within two weeks.

Despite that order, as well as new legislation mandating quarterly inspections of cooling towers, the city found this week that bacteria had regrown in at least 15 towers that had been cleaned recently in the Morris Park section of the Bronx. The testing occurred after a fresh outbreak in that area that has killed one person and sickened at least 12, and spurred an order from health officials for the towers to be disinfected again.

Nothing is finished until the paperwork is done.