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Technology

Independent Researchers Test Rossi's Alleged Cold Fusion Device For 32 Days 972

Posted by timothy
from the there's-an-obvious-way-to-silence-the-critics dept.
WheezyJoe (1168567) writes The E-Cat (or "Energy Catalyzer") is an alleged cold fusion device that produces heat from a low-energy nuclear reaction where nickel and hydrogen fuse into copper. Previous reports have tended to suggest the technology is a hoax, and the inventor Andrea Rossi's reluctance to share details of the device haven't helped the situation. ExtremeTech now reports that "six (reputable) researchers from Italy and Sweden" have "observed a small E-Cat over 32 days, where it produced net energy of 1.5 megawatt-hours, "far more than can be obtained from any known chemical sources in the small reactor volume."... "The researchers, analyzing the fuel before and after the 32-day burn, note that there is an isotope shift from a "natural" mix of Nickel-58/Nickel-60 to almost entirely Nickel-62 — a reaction that, the researchers say, cannot occur without nuclear reactions (i.e. fusion)." The paper (PDF) linked in the article concludes that the E-cat is "a device giving heat energy compatible with nuclear transformations, but it operates at low energy and gives neither nuclear radioactive waste nor emits radiation. From basic general knowledge in nuclear physics this should not be possible. Nevertheless we have to relate to the fact that the experimental results from our test show heat production beyond chemical burning, and that the E-Cat fuel undergoes nuclear transformations. It is certainly most unsatisfying that these results so far have no convincing theoretical explanation, but the experimental results cannot be dismissed or ignored just because of lack of theoretical understanding. Moreover, the E-Cat results are too conspicuous not to be followed up in detail. In addition, if proven sustainable in further tests the E-Cat invention has a large potential to become an important energy source." The observers understandably hedge a bit, though: The researchers are very careful about not actually saying that cold fusion/LENR is the source of the E-Cat’s energy, instead merely saying that an “unknown reaction” is at work. In serious scientific circles, LENR is still a bit of a joke/taboo topic. The paper is actually somewhat comical in this regard: The researchers really try to work out how the E-Cat produces so much darn energy — and they conclude that fusion is the only answer — but then they reel it all back in by adding: “The reaction speculation above should only be considered as an example of reasoning and not a serious conjecture.”
Earth

NASA Finds a Delaware-Sized Methane "Hot Spot" In the Southwest 213

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
merbs writes According to new satellite research from scientists at NASA and the University of Michigan this "hot spot" is "responsible for producing the largest concentration of the greenhouse gas methane seen over the United States—more than triple the standard ground-based estimate." It covers 2,500 square miles, about the size of Delaware. It is so big that scientists initially thought it was a mistake in their instruments. "We didn't focus on it because we weren't sure if it was a true signal or an instrument error," NASA's Christian Frankenberg said in a statement.
Science

Killer Whales Caught On Tape Speaking Dolphin 152

Posted by samzenpus
from the losing-the-accent dept.
sciencehabit writes Two years ago, scientists showed that dolphins imitate the sounds of whales. Now, it seems, whales have returned the favor. Researchers analyzed the vocal repertoires of 10 captive orcas, three of which lived with bottlenose dolphins and the rest with their own kind. Of the 1551 vocalizations these seven latter orcas made, more than 95% were the typical pulsed calls of killer whales. In contrast, the three orcas that had only dolphins as pals busily whistled and emitted dolphinlike click trains and terminal buzzes, the scientists report in the October issue of The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. The findings make orcas one of the few species of animals that, like humans, is capable of vocal learning (video)—a talent considered a key underpinning of language."
Input Devices

The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made 304

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-to-irritate-coworkers dept.
HughPickens.com writes Adi Robertson argues that IBM's Model M keyboard, soon to turn 30 is still the only keyboard worth using for many people. Introduced in 1985 as part of the IBM 3161 terminal, the Model M was initially called the "IBM Enhanced Keyboard." A PC-compatible version appeared the following spring, and it officially became standard with the IBM Personal System / 2 in 1987. The layout of the Model M has been around so long that today it's simply taken for granted, but the keyboard's descendants have jettisoned one of the Model M's most iconic features — "buckling springs," designed to provide auditory and tactile feedback to the keyboard operator. "Model M owners sometimes ruefully post stories of spouses and coworkers who can't stand the incessant chatter. But fans say the springs' resistance and their audible "click" make it clear when a keypress is registered, reducing errors," writes Robertson. "Maybe more importantly, typing on the Model M is a special, tangible experience. Much like on a typewriter, the sharp click gives every letter a physical presence."

According to Robertson, the Model M is an artifact from a time when high-end computing was still the province of industry, not pleasure. But while today's manufacturers have long since abandoned the concept of durability and longevity, refurbished Model Ms are still available from aficionados like Brandon Ermita, a Princeton University IT manager who recovers them from supply depots and recycling centers and sells them through his site, ClickyKeyboards. "For the very few that still appreciate the tactile feel of a typewriter-based computer keyboard and can still appreciate the simplicity of black letters on white keys, one can still seek out and own an original IBM model M keyboard — a little piece of early computing history," says Ermita. As one Reddit user recently commented, "Those bastards are the ORIGINAL gaming keyboards. No matter how much you abuse it, you'll die before it does.""
Businesses

FCC Puts Comcast and Time Warner Merger On Hold 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-yet dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In a public letter to both Time Warner and Comcast, the FCC said they are putting a hold on the merger deal between the two companies. Citing inadequate responses by both cable companies to earlier FCC requests for additional information, the agency is stopping the clock on its 180-day review period until late October. Comcast and Time Warner together control most of the Internet services in the country. However, the companies said they are in different regions and are not going to suppress the competition.
Science

Is an Octopus Too Smart For Us To Eat? 481

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-use-crying-over-spilled-ink dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The New Yorker is running a piece on the ethical dilemma we face when considering octopus intelligence alongside our willingness to eat them. "Octopus intelligence is well documented: they have been known to open jars, guard their unhatched eggs for months or even years, and demonstrate personalities. Most famously, they can blast a cloud of ink to throw off predators, but even more impressive is the masterfully complex camouflage employed by several members of Cephalopoda (a class that also includes squid and cuttlefish)." While humans eat animals ranging widely in mental faculties, the octopus remains one of the smartest ones we do consume. And unlike pigs, for example, their population is not dependent on humanity to survive. As our scientific understanding of intelligence grows, these ethical debates will only come into sharper focus. Where do we draw the line?
Wireless Networking

Marriott Fined $600,000 For Jamming Guest Hotspots 278

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-get-between-hotel-guests-and-their-social-media dept.
schwit1 writes: Marriott will cough up $600,000 in penalties after being caught blocking mobile hotspots so that guests would have to pay for its own Wi-Fi services, the FCC has confirmed today. The fine comes after staff at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee were found to be jamming individual hotspots and then charging people up to $1,000 per device to get online. Marriott has been operating the center since 2012, and is believed to have been running its interruption scheme since then. The first complaint to the FCC, however, wasn't until March 2013, when one guest warned the Commission that they suspected their hardware had been jammed.
Software

End of an Era: After a 30 Year Run, IBM Drops Support For Lotus 1-2-3 156

Posted by timothy
from the final-death-knell-is-the-best-one dept.
klubar writes Although it has been fading for years, the final death knell came recently for the iconic Lotus 1-2-3. In many ways, Lotus 1-2-3 launched the PC era (and ensured the Apple II success), and once was a serious competitor for Excel (and prior to that Multiplan and VisiCalc). Although I doubt if anyone is creating new Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets, I'm sure there are spreadsheets still being used who trace their origin to Lotus 1-2-3, and even Office 2013 still has some functions and key compatibility with Lotus 1-2-3. Oh, how far the mighty have fallen.
Beer

Study: Compound Found In Beer Boosts Brain Function 119

Posted by samzenpus
from the drink-one-anyway dept.
An anonymous reader writes Researchers have found that a chemical found in hops may actually improve memory. Unfortunately, a person would need to drink 3,520 pints of beer a day to get a high enough dose of the chemical to boost their brain power. A daunting task for even the most enthusiastic Oktoberfest participant. From the article: "Researchers at Oregon State University discovered that doses of xanthohumol, a flavonoid found in hops, improved memory and thinking in a lucky group of mice. Flavonoids are a class of compounds present in plants, known to have numerous health benefits. Last year, researchers discovered that a flavonoid found in celery and artichokes could potentially fight pancreatic cancer. The researchers treated the mice with dietary supplements of xanthohumol over the course of eight weeks. Their goal was to determine if xanthohumol could affect palmitoylation, a naturally occurring process in animals (including humans) that's associated with memory degradation. The mice then went through a series of tests—including the popular Morris water maze—to gauge whether or not the treatments had improved their spatial memory and cognitive flexibility. For the younger mice in the group, it worked. But on the older mice, unfortunately, the xanthohumol didn't seem to have any effect."

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