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Submission + - Kilogram conflict resolved at last (

An anonymous reader writes: As the capabilities of science and engineering expand, they rely more on the precision of measurements. It's vitally important, then, to make the standard units underpinning those measurements don't change. This is a problem for the kilogram. For years, it has remained the only SI unit based on a physical object — a small cylinder of platinum and iridium. Scientists have been arguing about how to replace it for decades, but now it looks like their efforts are finally reaching fruition. They finally have all the data they need to define the kilogram with mathematical constants, which solves the problem of the variability of physical objects. "One method, pioneered by an international team known as the Avogadro Project, involves counting the atoms in two silicon-28 spheres that each weigh the same as the reference kilogram. This allows them to calculate a value for Avogadro’s constant, which the researchers convert into a value for Planck’s constant. Another method uses a device called a watt balance to produce a value for Planck’s constant by weighing a test mass calibrated according to the reference kilogram against an eletromagnetic force." Further research has narrowed down the value of Planck's constant and experimental data from standards bodies is finally matching up. "If they are proved right, in 2018, Le Grand K will join the meter as a museum piece."

Submission + - Lunch, Anyone?

theodp writes: 'I've been on teams that eat together every day,' writes Joel-on-Software Spolsky, and it's awesome. I've been on teams that don't, and lunch every day is, at best, lonely.' Spolsky is firmly in the camp that believes where and with whom we eat lunch is a much bigger deal than most people care to admit. 'There's a lot of stuff that's accidental about Fog Creek and Stack Exchange,' he concludes, 'but lunch is not one of them. Ten years ago Michael and I set out with the rather ambitious goal of making a great place to work. Eating together is a critical part of what it means to be human and what it means to have a humane workplace, and that’s been a part of our values from day one.'

Submission + - Renewable Energy Might Not Be 2

lee1 writes: "Physicist Axel Kleidon of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
in Jena, Germany has shown that it is a mistake to consider the wind and
waves to be truly renewable energy sources. Build enough wind farms to
replace fossil fuels, he says, and we would reduce the energy available
in the atmosphere and actually accelerate climate change. We know from
thermodynamics that only a modest fraction of the solar energy reaching
Earth is available as 'free energy' we can use, taking the form of
winds, ocean currents, and lifting of evaporated water. The rest becomes
heat, which is not available to do work. By building wind and wave farms, we
will be converting part of the sun's useful energy into thermal energy.
The effects of this would probably show up first in the wind farms
themselves, where the gains expected will be less than predicted as the
energy of the Earth system is depleted. Kleidon’s calculations show
that the amount of energy which we can harness from the wind is reduced
by a factor of 100 if you take this into account. In addition, sucking that much energy out of the
atmosphere will alter precipitation, turbulence and the amount of solar
radiation reaching the Earth's surface. The effect
will be comparable to the results of doubling
atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide. Even current photovoltaic
designs will contribute to global warming, because they
convert only a small fraction of the light that hits them converting the rest to heat that warms the environment."

First Halophile Potatoes Harvested 117

Razgorov Prikazka writes "A Dutch-based company from Groningen is trying to create a potato race that is able to survive in a saline environment. The first test-batch was just harvested (English translation of Dutch original) on the island Texel and seem to be in good shape. The company states that rising sea-levels will create a demand for halophile crops. I do wonder if one still has to put salt on ones potatoes when they are grown in salt water."
PlayStation (Games)

US Air Force To Suffer From PS3 Update 349

tlhIngan writes "The US Air Force, having purchased PS3s for supercomputing research, is now the latest victim of Sony's removal of the Install Other OS feature. It turns out that while their PS3s don't need the firmware update, it will be impossible to replace PS3s that fail. PS3s with the Other OS feature are no longer produced since the Slim was introduced, so replacements will have to come from the existing stock of used PS3s. However, as most gamers have probably updated their PS3s, that used stock is no longer suitable for the USAF's research. In addition, smaller educational clusters using PS3s will share the same fate — unable to replace machines that die in their clusters." In related news, Sony has been hit with two more lawsuits over this issue.

The Neo-Geo Song 70

At least 50% of my paychecks would be converted into tokens and put into one of many Neo-Geo machines at the arcade when I was in high school. It's good that my favorite old games finally have an anthem.

Apple Removes Wi-Fi Finders From App Store 461

jasonbrown writes "Apple on Thursday began removing another category of apps from its iPhone App Store. This time, it's not porn, it's Wi-Fi. Apple removed several Wi-Fi apps commonly referred to as stumblers, or apps that seek out available Wi-Fi networks near your location. According to a story on Cult of Mac, apps removed by Apple include WiFi-Where, WiFiFoFum, and yFy Network Finder."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Anti Terror Honor System 74

Fortunately for us, the FAA has imposed the honor system as our next best defense against terrorism. Hopefully this will allow them to increase the volume of non-bladder liquid I'm allowed to take on planes.

Tactical Camera 137

An anonymous reader writes "What do you get when you mount a Nikon D200 with a standard rifle stock? Why a Tactical Camera of course! One that no reporter would be caught with in a war zone or covering any armed action anywhere. What started out as a tongue in cheek project for April Fools wound up being quite the successful demonstration of concept. It features a fully functional trigger; it has controls for operating the shutter and auto focus; and for the patient shots, it has a mounted bipod. Carry sling optional."

This Is the Way the World Ends 394

Dave Knott writes "The CBC's weekly science radio show Quirks and Quarks this week features a countdown of the top ten planetary doomsday scenarios. Nine science professors and one science fiction author are asked to give (mostly) realistic hypotheses of the ways in which the planet Earth and its inhabitants can be destroyed. These possibilities for mankind's extinction include super-volcanoes, massive gamma ray bursts, and everybody's favorite, the killer asteroid. Perhaps the most terrifying prediction is the reversal of the Earth's magnetic field (combined with untimely solar activity), a periodic event which is currently 1/4 million years overdue."

If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we would all be millionaires. -- Abigail Van Buren