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Submission + - Historic Feynman Physics Lectures Available Online (

burgessms writes: An acclaimed lecture series by the iconic physicist Richard Feynman is now freely available to the general public for the first time on a new Web site launched by Microsoft Research, in collaboration with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates. The lectures, which Feynman originally delivered at Cornell University in 1964, have been hugely influential for many people, including Gates.

Gates privately purchased the rights to the seven lectures in the series, called "The Character of Physical Law," to make them widely available to the public for free with the hope that they will help get kids excited about physics and science.
The historic lectures and related content can be seen at The name "Tuva" was chosen because of Feynman's lifelong fascination with the small Russian republic of Tuva, located in the heart of Asia.


Submission + - SPAM: Keyboard Hero

An anonymous reader writes: Is there any good software out there for learning to play the piano? There are many single page sites advertising to teach you in 10 days or your money back, and other things that look like they were written in 1990. Is there anything modern out there that is interactive and explains why things work the way they do? Especially good would be something that teaches popular music and/or bluegrass. A final question is why is it that when learning the guitar it is sufficient to learn chords (which are much more difficult to play on a guitar) to play usefully while it seems that in piano where chords are trivial that one must learn much more devilishly complicated progressions. Is it just because you can with a piano, is it cultural, or is there a more musical reason?

Submission + - DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated, Scientists Show

ewlslash writes: Scientists in Israel have demonstrated that it is possible to fabricate DNA evidence, undermining the credibility of what has been considered the gold standard of proof in criminal cases. The scientists fabricated blood and saliva samples containing DNA from a person other than the donor of the blood and saliva. They also showed that if they had access to a DNA profile in a database, they could construct a sample of DNA to match that profile without obtaining any tissue from that person. "You can just engineer a crime scene," said Dan Frumkin, lead author of the paper, which has been published online by the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics. "Any biology undergraduate could perform this."

Submission + - Bots bend it like Beckham (

Muhammad Fahd Waseem writes: "While football has been taking a summer break, teams of programmers have been taking part in a league of their own, the 13th annual Robocup.

Football brings nations together in a celebration of the beautiful game, but what if the football players did not need to train, or even get paid?

At the Robocup, recently hosted in the Austrian city of Graz, athletic automata have been doing battle on and off the pitch.

It is not as easy as humans make it look, in particular getting a robot to appreciate the finer points of the offside rule is a whole new ball game.

Robocup teams come in many forms, the physical characteristics range from R2D2 through to C3PO via a strange robot puppy hybrid.

Creating technology, be it hardware or software, that is good at football requires a lot of effort. It requires mastery over team work, real-time perception and decision making — difficult enough for some human players, let alone mechanical ones.

The robotic players in a team either talk to each other on the pitch, like a real game, or they all listen to a central computer which issues instructions, formulates tactics, and then controls them via radio — a football manager's dream.

A typical match at the Robocup involves four robot players and one goalkeeper. The camera above the pitch gathers information and sends it to the central computer for guidance.

Alongside the real robots, Robocup also runs a software competition, where programmers make use of their own AI code to create the ultimate simulated soccer team.

Majid Gholipour, professor of the Mechatronic Centre at Iran's Azad University of Ghazin claims that the Robocup is a much friendlier version of the game than human football.

"The goal in sport is usually to win, but here the goal is to make a leap forward in programming," he said. "For example, in the Software League, everyone is expected to release their codes, and place them at the disposal of the other teams.

"Some teams even set up workshops, and tell the other teams: 'look guys, we have made inroads in these areas, so if you want to use them for next year to make progress, you can.'"

The ultimate goal of the competition's creators is to pit human players against a dream team of robot counterparts within the next few decades.

For Gerald Steinbauer of Graz University of Technology, the main goal is to the continuing development of the technology:

"If we reach this goal, it's not so important," he said. "More important is what we are doing on this road to 2050 and if you look back at the last 13 Robocups, there was such good technology and approaches developed, that there is hope that we will have another useful development in the future.""


Submission + - California to Finance Solar for Cities (

adeelarshad82 writes: State nonprofit organization California Statewide Community Development Authority (CSCDA), is planning to launch a solar financing program that could make the technology a lot more affordable all over California. The project is a similar but larger version of the one launched by the city of Berkeley recently. In a nutshell, the city will sell bonds to finance residents borrowing money for solar installation, to be repaid (along with the corresponding interests) in a span of 20 years through property taxes.

Submission + - IBM Scientists Build Computer Chips From DNA (

snydeq writes: "Scientists at IBM are experimenting with using DNA molecules as a way to create tiny circuits that could form the basis of smaller, more powerful computer chips. The technique builds on work done by Cal Tech's Paul Rothemund, who found that DNA molecules can be made to 'self-assemble' into tiny forms [PDF] such as triangles, squares and stars. 'To make a chip, the scientists first create lithographic templates using traditional chip making techniques. After, they pour a DNA solution over the surface of the silicon and the tiny triangles and squares — what the scientists call DNA origami — line themselves up to the patterns etched out using lithography.' DNA-based chips may sound like crackpot tech, but those involved believe the methodology could lead to a new way of fabricating features on the surface of chips that allows semiconductors to be made even smaller, faster and more power-efficient than they are today."

Submission + - Humming Bird Pulls 9 Gs

lenehey writes: Not really biotech, but could not find a suitable category. Science News reporting that a humming bird can pull 9 Gs when impressing a mate. For its size, its the fastest bird alive. For example (from the article):

The hummingbirds' speed reached 385 body lengths per second, easily beating the peregrine falcon's recorded dives at 200 body lengths per second. (Though the falcon was diving at 70 meters per second.) A fighter jet with its afterburners on reaches 150 body lengths per second, and a space shuttle screaming down through the atmosphere hits 207 body lengths per second.


Submission + - Microsoft banned from selling Word ( 3

priyank_bolia writes: "It sounds like a joke. But, it's real and it's anything but a joke for Microsoft. Judge Leonard Davis, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, has issued an injunction (PDF link) that "prohibits Microsoft from selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML.""

Submission + - Japanese Want More Control than Americans inGames? (

Geoff writes: "Video game developers and journalists on both sides of the Pacific tend to agree that the preferences of Japanese and American video gamers are quite different. Their consensus is that Americans prefer a relatively higher level of control in most aspects of their video games, compared to the Japanese. This difference is largely attributed to differences in culture. However, objective evidence supporting this claim is scarce.

Video game researcher, Geoffrey Cook, compares American and Japanese gamers on three factors: 1) their desire to control aspects of a video game, 2) their tendency to avoid ambiguous or uncertain situations in their everyday lives, and 3) their desire to have control over their everyday lives. The results suggest that Americans desire a relatively higher level of control in their everyday lives, but prefer a relatively lower level of control in their video games compared to their Japanese counterparts. This difference is most pronounced in low-usage video gamers and becomes weaker as users play games more frequently. View the report in its entirety here (PDF)."


Submission + - HP restores creased photos with flatbed scanners (

An anonymous reader writes: A crease can ruin an often-irreplaceable printed photograph. But new research from HP Labs points towards a future where this is much less of a problem. Scientists at HP have developed a technique to detect creases in photographs using standard, unmodified flatbed scanners. Once correctly scanned into a computer, software can determine where the photograph's defect is, and artificially correct it to remove any trace of a crease or fold. The result is a spotless JPEG scan from a creased photo, with absolutely no modified hardware and no technical know-how required on the part of the user.

Submission + - Voting Machine Attacks are Practical

An anonymous reader writes: Every time a bunch of academics show vulnerabilities in electronic voting machines the critics complain that the attacks aren't realistic, that attackers won't have access to source code, or design documents, or be able to manipulate the hardware, etc. So this time a bunch of computer scientists from UCSD, Michigan and Princeton offer a rebuttal. They completely 0wn the AVC Advantage using no access to source code or design documents and deliver a complete working attack in a plug in cartridge that could be used by anyone with a few private minutes with the machine. Moreover, they came up with some cool tricks to do this on a machine protected against traditional code injection attacks (the AVC processor will only execute instructions from ROM). Paper from this weeks USENIX EVT here.

Submission + - Why Not Build Privacy Into the Internet? ( 1

Al writes: "Two separate research groups recently presented schemes that would build privacy protection into the architecture of the internet. Speaking at Privacy Enhancing Technologies 2009, Barath Raghavan, a visiting assistant professor at Williams College in Massachusetts, suggests that ISPs should help guard user privacy. A protocol that he designed with researchers from the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Washington, would effectively hide a user's IP address within the rest of an Internet service provider's traffic. Matthew Wright, who co-directs the iSec research lab at the University of Texas at Arlington envisages privacy protections being part of the next incarnation of the internet. Wright argues that proxies designed to preserve anonymity could be built in the network architecture. He also envisions working with ISPs to determine points in the network where the proxies would be effective both in terms of protection and performance."

Submission + - Scott Steinberg: Video Games are Dead ( 1

jasoncart writes: "Scott Steinberg (mass media games industry analyst/soothsayer) argues that the videogames industry is entering a state of transition, in which the way the business operates will change dramatically; digital distribution, the renaissance of the bedroom programmer and rising piracy colliding head-long with epic budgets, Hollywood pretensions and flawed business models.

As the industry 'splinters', Steinberg suggests that "It isn't interactive entertainment which is croaking per se — just the traditional definition of "video games" as we've previously come to know them.""


Submission + - Gilliam eyes Philip K Dick's The World Jones Made (

bowman9991 writes: "What do you get when you mix Monty Python's Terry Gilliam and Philip K. Dick? We could find out shortly. Renowned as a director of the excellent science fiction/fantasy films 'Brazil' and '12 Monkeys', Terry Gilliam is planning to adapt Philip K. Dick's science fiction novel 'The World Jones Made' for the big screen. The novel explores predestination, free will and determinism, and features genetically engineered humans, atomic mutants in live sex shows, spore based aliens and an interstellar war — more than enough to spark Terry Gilliam's fertile imagination into dizzying overdrive."

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken