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Department of Defense May Give Private Cloud Vendors Access To Top Secret Data 60

An anonymous reader sends news that the U.S. Department of Defense is pondering methods to store its most sensitive data in the cloud. The DoD issued an information request (PDF) to see whether the commercial marketplace can provide remote computing services for Level 5 and Level 6 workloads, which include restricted military data. "The DoD anticipates that the infrastructure will range from configurations featuring between 10,000 and 200,000 virtual machines. Any vendors selected to the scheme would be subject to an accreditation process and to security screening, and the DoD is employing the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program to establish screening procedures for authorized cloud vendors, and to generate procedures for continuous monitoring and auditing."

Working On Man Made Lightning 67

New submitter PerlJedi writes "There is a very cool write up on the Make blog about an effort to build the world's largest tesla coils. Quoting: '"Somehow lightning can generate huge discharges with only about a fifth of the voltage per foot that lab discharges require," Leyh explains. "The part that especially fascinates me is that this mysterious ability kicks in around 200' in length, which is right at the edge of what we can produce with a practical machine." Leyh wants to see if humans can replicate this voltage economy effect, and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the building of two 10-story Tesla Coil towers (obviously superseding his current coil-size world record).'"

Team Aims To Create Pure Evil AI Screenshot-sm 527

puroresu writes "Scientific American reports on the efforts of Selmer Bringsjord and his team at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, who have been attempting to develop an AI possessed of an interesting character trait: pure evil. From the article, 'He and his research team began developing their computer representation of evil by posing a series of questions beginning with the basics: name, age, sex, etc., and progressing to inquiries about this fictional person's beliefs and motivations. This exercise resulted in "E," a computer character first created in 2005 to meet the criteria of Bringsjord's working definition of evil. Whereas the original E was simply a program designed to respond to questions in a manner consistent with Bringsjord's definition, the researchers have since given E a physical identity: It's a relatively young, white man with short black hair and dark stubble on his face.'"

NASA To Trigger Massive Explosion On the Moon In Search of Ice 376

Hugh Pickens writes "NASA is preparing to launch the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, which will fly a Centaur rocket booster into the moon, triggering a six-mile-high explosion that scientists hope will confirm whether water is frozen in the perpetual darkness of craters near the moon's south pole. If the spacecraft launches on schedule at 12:51 p.m. Wednesday, it will hit the moon in the early morning hours of October 8 after an 86-day Lunar Gravity-Assist, Lunar Return Orbit that will allow the spacecraft time to complete its two-month commissioning phase and conduct nearly a month of science data collection of polar crater measurements before colliding with the moon just 10 minutes behind the Centaur." (Continues, below.)

Sacrificing Accuracy For Speed and Efficiency In Processors 499

Skudd writes "Modern computing has always been reliant on accuracy and correct answers. Now, a professor at Rice University in Houston posits that some future applications could be revolutionized by 'probabilistic computing.' Quoting: 'This afternoon, Krishna Palem, speaking at a computer science meeting in San Francisco, will announce results of the first real-world test of his probabilistic computer chip: The chip, which thrives on random errors, ran seven times faster than today's best technology while using just 1/30th the electricity. ... The high density of transistors on existing chips also leads to a lot of background "noise." To compensate, engineers increase the voltage applied to computer circuits to overpower the noise and ensure precise calculations. Palem began wondering how much a slight reduction in the quality of calculations might improve speed and save energy. He soon realized that some information was more valuable than other information. For example, in calculating a bank balance of $13,000.81, getting the "13" correct is much more important than the "81." Producing an answer of $13,000.57 is much closer to being correct than $57,000.81. While Palem's technology may not have a future in calculating missions to Mars, it probably has one in such applications as streaming music and video on mobile devices, he said.'

Obama Proposes Digital Health Records 563

An anonymous reader writes "'President-elect Barack Obama, as part of the effort to revive the economy, has proposed a massive effort to modernize health care by making all health records standardized and electronic.' The plan includes having all conventional records converted to digital within 5 years. Independent studies are fixing this cost somewhere in the range of $75 to $100 Billion, with most of the money going to paying and training technical staff to work on the conversion. Early government estimates are showing 212,000 jobs could be created by this plan."

Google Native Client Puts x86 On the Web 367

t3rmin4t0r writes "Google has announced its Google native client, which enables x86 native code to be run securely inside a browser. With Java applets already dead and buried, this could mean the end of the new war between browsers and the various JavaScript engines (V8, Squirrelfish, Tracemonkey). The only question remains whether it can be secured (ala ActiveX) and whether the advantages carry over onto non-x86 platforms. The package is available for download from its Google code site. Hopefully, I can finally write my web apps in asm." Note: the Google code page description points out that this is not ready for production use: "We've released this project at an early, research stage to get feedback from the security and broader open-source communities." Reader eldavojohn links to a technical paper linked from that Google code page [PDF] titled "Native Client: A Sandbox for Portable, Untrusted x86 Native Code," and suggests this in-browser Quake demo, which requires the Native Code plug-in.
The Military

Pentagon Clears Flying-Car Project For Takeoff 90

unassimilatible writes "DARPA has announced a 'Personal Air Vehicle Technology' project. It will 'ultimately lead to a working prototype of a military-suitable flying car — a two- or four-passenger vehicle that can "drive on roads" one minute and take off like a helicopter the next. The hybrid machine would be perfect for "urban scouting," casualty evacuation and commando-delivery missions, the agency believes.' Wired has the summary of the project." Maybe they'll take inspiration from Terrafugia's "drivable airplane."

Practical Jetpack Available "Soon" 237

Ifandbut was one of several readers to point out the arrival in Oshkosh of the first practical jetpack. It was invented by a New Zealander Glenn Martin, who has been working on the idea for 27 years. He plans to sell the gizmos for somewhere in the neighborhood of $100K. While previous attempts at jetpacks have flown for at most a couple of minutes, Mr. Martin's invention can stay aloft for half an hour. Both "practical" and "jetpack" may need quotation marks, however: The device is huge and it's incredibly noisy. And, "It is also not, to put it bluntly, a jet. 'If you're very pedantic,' Mr. Martin acknowledged, a gasoline-powered piston engine runs the large rotors. Jet Skis, he pointed out, are not jets, and the atmospheric jet stream is not created by engines. 'This thing flies on a jet of air,' he said. Or, more simply, it flies."

Google to Begin Storing Patients' Health Records 214

mytrip writes with news that Google's health record archive is about to be tested with the assistance of the Cleveland Clinic. Thousands of patients (who must approve the transfer of information) will have access to everything from their medical histories to lab results through what Google considers a "logical extension" of their search engine. We discussed the planning of this system last year. "Each health profile, including information about prescriptions, allergies and medical histories, will be protected by a password that's also required to use other Google services such as e-mail and personalized search tools. The health venture also will provide more fodder for privacy watchdogs who believe Google already knows too much about the interests and habits of its users as its computers log their search requests and store their e-mail discussions. Prodded by the criticism, Google last year introduced a new system that purges people's search records after 18 months. In a show of its privacy commitment, Google also successfully rebuffed the U.S. Justice Department's demand to examine millions of its users' search requests in a court battle two years ago."

DARPA Advances AI Program For Air Traffic Control 142

coondoggie writes to tell us that DARPA has taken the next step in a program that aims to utilize artificial intelligence for the purposes of air traffic control. "GILA will also help Air Force planners use and retain the skills of expert operators, especially as they rotate out of the Air Force. DARPA says the artificial intelligence software will learn by assembling knowledge from different sources — including generating knowledge by reasoning. According to a Military & Aerospace item, such software has to combine limited observations with subject expertise, general knowledge, reasoning, and by asking what-if questions."

One Computer to Rule Them All 288

An anonymous reader writes "IBM has published a research paper describing an initiative called Project Kittyhawk, aimed at building "a global-scale shared computer capable of hosting the entire Internet as an application." Nicholas Carr describes the paper with the words "Forget Thomas Watson's apocryphal remark that the world may need only five computers. Maybe it needs just one." Here is the original paper."

'Safe Ebola' Created for Research 198

Nephrite writes "By removing a gene from the virus Ebola, UW-Madison scientists have managed to stop the deadly pathogen from replicating. This first step may be a start down the path to a vaccine or drug screening. 'The scientists still want the virus to replicate in order to study it, so they developed monkey kidney cells which contained the protein needed. Because the cell was providing the protein, and not the virus itself, it could only replicate within those cells, and even if transferred into a human, would be harmless.'"

Green Light for Human/Animal Hybrids 292

Henneshoe writes "BBC News is reporting that two research facilities have been given the green light to create part human, part animal embryos. According the the report, 'Scientists want to create hybrid embryos by merging human cells with animal eggs in a bid to extract stem cells. The embryos would then be destroyed within 14 days.' The decision to allow the embryos was made after research showed that people in large are OK with the idea."
Input Devices

Edible Antifreeze For Smoother Ice Cream 240

holy_calamity writes "Proteins extracted from gelatin can dramatically improve the quality of ice cream by preventing the growth of ice crystals that ruin its texture. Perfect smooth ice cream has ice crystals around 20 microns in size, but slight thawing and refreezing makes them grow and ruins the mouth feel, making it gritty. The new proteins are similar to those in the blood of the snow flea, an insect able to keep active in sub-zero temperatures." Here are the abstract and the full article as published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

"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