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Transportation

American Airlines Grounds Flights 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the flights-shouldn't-have-failed-that-math-test dept.
Sez Zero writes "The Federal Aviation Administration said American Airlines requested a halt to hundreds of its U.S. flights on Tuesday as it works to resolve a reservation system problem. American Airlines explained on their Twitter feed they had a problem accessing their reservation system. Bad day to be on the AA ops team."
Power

Laser Fusion Put On a Slow Burn By US Government 143

Posted by Soulskill
from the world-shark-shortage-has-cost-us dept.
gbrumfiel writes "Those hoping to laser their way out of the energy crisis will have to wait a little longer. The U.S. government has unveiled its new plan for laser fusion, and it's not going to happen anytime soon. It all comes down to problems at the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world's most powerful laser at Lawrence Livermore Lab in California. For the past six years researchers at NIF have been trying to use the laser to spark a fusion reaction in a tiny pellet of hydrogen fuel. Like all fusion, it's tougher than it looks, and their campaign came up short. That left Congress a little bit miffed, so they asked for a new plan. The new plan calls for a more methodical study of fusion, along with a broader approach to achieving it with the NIF. In three years or so, they should know whether the NIF will ever work."

Comment: Michael Connelly - Harry Bosch Novels (Score 1) 647

by cosmicpossum (#38447728) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Do You Like To Read?
Michael Connelly knows how to write a police procedural that you can't put down. His main line of novels feature a hard boiled LA detective named Hieronymus 'Harry' Bosch. Bosch has his own code and is forever finding crooked cops. He has, literally, a love-hate relationship with the Feds - he has bedded at least two FBI agents, one of whom he married. Get the whole Connelly opus and you won't stop reading until you've been through them all.

+ - Virginia Tech Wins the 2010 Solar Decathlon-> 3

Submitted by formaggio
formaggio (1827252) writes "The winners to the 2010 Solar Decathlon were just announced minutes ago, and the winner is Virginia Tech for their solar-powered Lumenhaus. The Solar Decathlon is a design-build competition that pits engineering and architecture college teams against each other to see who can build the most energy-efficient solar house. Considering that German teams have triumphed at the U.S. Solar Decathlon for three years running now, this is a big deal and a great victory for the Virginia Tech team, who competed with the same house in last year's competition and were beaten out by a German team in 2009."
Link to Original Source
Transportation

+ - High Depreciation May Slow Electric Car Acceptance 1

Submitted by
Hugh Pickens
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that as cars like the Nissan LEAF, Coda Sedan and others become available for sale and lease, one question that may give electric car buyers cold feet is bubbling to the surface: How much will these next-gen vehicles be worth a few years down the road? According to a report from the UK’s Glass Guide, unless manufacturers properly address customer concerns regarding battery life and performance, the new breed of electric vehicles (EVs) soon to be launched will have residual values well below those of rival gasoline and diesel models with a typical electric vehicle retaining only 10 percent of its value after five years of ownership, compared to gas and diesel-fueled counterparts retaining 25 percent of their value in that time period. According to Andy Carroll, Managing Director at Glass's, the alarming rate of depreciation is a function of customer recognition that the typical EV battery will have a useful life of up to eight years and will cost thousands of dollars to replace. "Potential used EV buyers fear this cost, but the key issue is that buyers will assume that their specific battery will need replacing in the near future regardless of the manufacturers' predictions of battery life," says Carroll adding that manufacturers could address this problem by leasing the battery to users. "If the anticipated £8,000 cost of the battery in such a car were taken off the list price, and recovered instead through a long-term £100-per-month battery lease scheme, the retained value in monetary terms would make it one of the best performing used cars in its segment, rather than one of the worst.""
Robotics

Low-Cost Robotic Arm Sketches Faces 93

Posted by timothy
from the face-recognition dept.
ptresset writes "A low-cost robotic arm has been sketching faces at the Kinetica2010 art fair in London. Created by the Aikon project research team, the system drew faces non-stop, its creator having to take the role of an automata to repeatedly change the paper. The Aikon project is based at Goldsmiths College, University of London. The main objective of the Aikon project is to implement a computational system capable of simulating the various important processes involved in face sketching by artists. The ensemble of processes to be simulated include the visual perception the subject and the sketch, the drawing gestures, the cognitive activity, reasoning, the influence of the years of training, etc. It is evident that due to knowledge and technological limitations the implementation of each process will remain coarse and approximate. The system implemented is expected to draw in its own style."
It's funny.  Laugh.

What If They Turned Off the Internet? 511

Posted by timothy
from the very-funny-now-where-is-slashdot dept.
theodp writes "It's the not-too-distant future. They've turned off the Internet. After the riots have settled down and the withdrawal symptoms have faded, how would you cope? Cracked.com asked readers to Photoshop what life would be like in an Internet-addicted society learning to cope without it. Better hope it never happens, or be prepared for dry-erase message boards, carrier pigeon-powered Twitter, block-long lines to get into adult video shops, door-to-door Rickrolling, Lolcats on Broadway, and $199.99 CDs."
Transportation

Gigantic Air Gun To Blast Cargo Into Orbit 384

Posted by timothy
from the phwipt-phwipt dept.
Hugh Pickens writes: "The New Scientist reports that with a hat tip to Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon , physicist John Hunter has outlined the design of a gigantic gun that could slash the cost of putting cargo into orbit. At the Space Investment Summit in Boston last week, Hunter described the design for a 1.1-kilometer-long gun that he says could launch 450-kilogram payloads at 6 kilometers per second. A small rocket engine would then boost the projectile into low-Earth orbit. The gun would cost $500 million to build, says Hunter, but individual launch costs would be lower than current methods. 'We think it's at least a factor of 10 cheaper than anything else,' Hunter says. The gun is based on the SHARP (Super High Altitude Research Project) light gas gun Hunter helped to build in the 1990s while at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California. With a barrel 47 meters long, it used compressed hydrogen gas to fire projectiles weighing a few kilograms at speeds of up to 3 kilometers per second."
The Almighty Buck

The Formula That Killed Wall Street 561

Posted by kdawson
from the easy-go dept.
We recently discussed the perspective that the harrowing of Wall Street was caused by over-reliance on computer models that produced a single number to characterize risk. Wired has a piece profiling David X. Li, the quant behind the formula that enabled the creation of such simple risk models. "For five years, Li's formula, known as a Gaussian copula function, looked like an unambiguously positive breakthrough, a piece of financial technology that allowed hugely complex risks to be modeled with more ease and accuracy than ever before. With his brilliant spark of mathematical legerdemain, Li made it possible for traders to sell vast quantities of new securities, expanding financial markets to unimaginable levels. His method was adopted by everybody from bond investors and Wall Street banks to ratings agencies and regulators. ... [T]he real danger was created not because any given trader adopted it but because every trader did. In financial markets, everybody doing the same thing is the classic recipe for a bubble and inevitable bust."
Education

Followup To "When Teachers Are Obstacles To Linux" 626

Posted by kdawson
from the more-sides-to-the-story dept.
An couple of anonymous readers wrote in to let us know about a followup to last Wednesday's story of the teacher who didn't believe in free software. The Linux advocate who posted the original piece has cooled off and graciously apologized for going off half-cocked (even though the teacher had done the same), and provided a little more background which, while not excusing the teacher's ignorance, does make her actions somewhat more understandable. Ken Starks has talked with the teacher, who has received a crash education in technology over the last few days — Starks is installing Linux on her computer tomorrow. He retracts his insinuations about Microsoft money and the NEA. All in all he demonstrates what a little honest communication can do, a lesson that all of us who advocate for free software can take to heart. "The student did get his Linux disks back after the class. The lad was being disruptive, but that wasn't mentioned. Neither was the obvious fact that when she saw a gaggle of giggling 8th grade boys gathered around a laptop, the last thing she expected to see on that screen was a spinning cube. She didn't know what was on those disks he was handing out. It could have been porn, viral .exe's...any number of things for all she knew. When she heard that an adult had given him some of the disks to hand out, her spidey-senses started tingling. Coupled with the fact that she truly was ignorant of honest-to-goodness free software, and you have some fairly impressive conclusion-jumping. In a couple of ways, I am guilty of it too."
Censorship

IWF Backs Down On Wiki Censorship 226

Posted by kdawson
from the that-streisand-thing-again dept.
jonbryce writes "The Internet Watch Foundation, guardians of the Great Firewall of Britain, have stopped censoring Wikipedia for hosting what they considered to be a child porn image. They had previously threatened to block Amazon for hosting the same image." Here is the IWF's statement, which credits the Streisand Effect for opening their eyes: "...in light of the length of time the image has existed and its wide availability, the decision has been taken to remove this webpage from our list. Any further reported instances of this image which are hosted abroad, will not be added to the list. ... IWF's overriding objective is to minimize the availability of indecent images of children on the internet, however, on this occasion our efforts have had the opposite effect."
Medicine

Visual Hallucinations Are a Normal Grief Reaction 550

Posted by kdawson
from the who-goes-there dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Vaughn Bell has written an interesting essay at Scientific American about grief hallucinations. This phenomenon is a normal reaction to bereavement that is rarely discussed, although researchers now know that hallucinations are more likely during times of stress. Mourning seems to be a time when hallucinations are particularly common, to the point where feeling the presence of the deceased is the norm rather than the exception. A study by Agneta Grimby at the University of Goteborg found that over 80 percent of elderly people experience hallucinations associated with their dead partner one month after bereavement, as if their perception had yet to catch up with the knowledge of their beloved's passing. It's not unusual for people who have lost a partner to clearly see or hear the person about the house, and sometimes even converse with them at length. 'Despite the fact that hallucinations are one of the most common reactions to loss, they have barely been investigated and we know little more about them. Like sorrow itself, we seem a little uncomfortable with it, unwilling to broach the subject,' writes Bell. 'We often fall back on the cultural catch all of the "ghost" while the reality is, in many ways, more profound.' "

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