Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Robotics

Robot SmackDowns Wants To Bring Robot Death Matches To an Arena Near You 78

Posted by timothy
from the only-if-I-get-to-drive dept.
Business Insider profiles Andrew Stroup, Gui Cavalcanti and Matt Oehrlein, who are trying to get off the ground a robot competition league, called Robot SmackDowns. The idea, as you might guess from the name, is to showcase violence and drama to draw on the crowd-appeal of wrestling, NASCAR, and monster truck rallies: this is definitely not Dean Kamen's FIRST — it's giant mechanical beasts shooting at and otherwise trying to destroy each other. And it's not quite right to call them robots in the usual sense; they're more like mecha: "In a MegaBots battle, a two-member team sits inside the bot's upper torso, where the controls systems are housed. Although the co-founders assure me that the pilot and gunner are well protected inside, the situation presents a heightened suspense. Each 15,000-pound robot is equipped with six-inch cannons inside its arms that fire paint-filled missiles and cannon balls at 120 miles per hour. Good aim can cause enough damage to jam its opponent's weapons system or shoot off a limb." They'll be launching a Kickstarter campaign soon; according to the article, "Assuming it raises enough money to build a fleet, [the company's] plan is to take the bots on the road. They will tour the country, face off in epic battles against other MegaBots, and build a fan base. Stroup says (without giving specifics) networks have reached out and will closely watch how MegaBot, Inc.'s upcoming Kickstarter campaign performs. The possibilities for distribution seem endless, though the team is tight-lipped about the exact direction it's headed."
Science

Oxytocin Regulates Sociosexual Behavior In Female Mice 216

Posted by timothy
from the take-two-of-these-and-I'll-make-breakfast-in-the-morning dept.
Chipmunk100 writes In a research article in the journal Cell scientists report that there is a subset of neurons that are vital in social interest of female mice for males during estrus, the sexually receptive phase of their cycle. They say that these neurons are responsive to oxytocin. The level of oxytocin rise when we hug or kiss a loved one. The BBC has an article on the findings as well, and reports that Without [oxytocin], female mice were no more attracted to a mate than to a block of Lego ... [The affected] neurons are situated in the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain important for personality, learning and social behaviour. Both when the hormone was withheld and when the cells were silenced, the females lost interest in mating during oestrous, which is when female mice are sexually active.
Linux

What's Been the Best Linux Distro of 2014? 302

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-the-flamewar-begin dept.
An anonymous reader writes With 23% of the year remaining, Linux Voice has donned flameproof clothing to subjectively examine what it feels have been the best distros of the year so far, including choices for beginners, desktop fashionistas and performance fetishists, before revealing a surprising overall winner.
United Kingdom

Brits Must Trade Digital Freedoms For Safety, Says Crime Agency Boss 264

Posted by Soulskill
from the those-who-trade-liberty-for-security dept.
bestweasel writes: The Guardian has an interview with Keith Bristow, the head of the National Crime Agency, (sometimes called Britain's FBI, apparently) in which he says, "Britons must accept a greater loss of digital freedoms in return for greater safety from serious criminals and terrorists." He also mentions pedophiles, of course. The article seems to cover just the highlights of the interview, but in another quote he says that for "policing by consent," the consent is "expressed through legislation." While this might sound reassuring, it's coupled with the Home Secretary's call last week for greater mass surveillance powers. Presumably whoever wins power in the elections next year will claim that this gives them the required consent (that's democracy, folks!) and pass the laws.
Stats

Nearly 700 Genetic Factors Found To Influence Human Adult Height 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-much-for-genetic-height-therapy dept.
damn_registrars writes: A consortium of scientists from many different countries reviewed genome-wide association study data sets of over 250,000 individuals in a search for genetic factors that influence adult height. Looking at Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, the researchers found 697 distinct genetic markers that can explain some 20 percent of the heritability of human adult height. Previous studies had found around 180 such markers, but the larger sample set increased the ability to detect these changes, both within genes and in non-coding regions. Genes found in this set included ones from pathways not previously connected to skeletal growth.

This study is also significant for the sample size, which allows it to address whether the data from such large sets has a tendency to converge or diverge on genetic pathways; this study particularly favors the latter, which is of great utility toward studying other polygenetic conditions in the future. The original paper is likely paywalled, however the abstract is available for free and some of the collaborators behind it have other bits available for free in the meantime.
AI

One In Three Jobs Will Be Taken By Software Or Robots By 2025, Says Gartner 405

Posted by Soulskill
from the they-took-our-jobs! dept.
dcblogs writes: "Gartner predicts one in three jobs will be converted to software, robots and smart machines by 2025," said Peter Sondergaard, Gartner's research director at its big Orlando conference. "New digital businesses require less labor; machines will make sense of data faster than humans can," he said. Smart machines are an emerging "super class" of technologies that perform a wide variety of work, both the physical and the intellectual kind. Machines, for instance, have been grading multiple choice test for years, but now they are grading essays and unstructured text. This cognitive capability in software will extend to other areas, including financial analysis, medical diagnostics and data analytic jobs of all sorts, says Gartner. "Knowledge work will be automated."
Programming

Code.org: Blame Tech Diversity On Education Pipeline, Not Hiring Discrimination 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-fix-both dept.
theodp writes: "The biggest reason for a lack of diversity in tech," says Code.org's Hadi Partovi in a featured Re/code story, "isn't discrimination in hiring or retention. It's the education pipeline." (Code.org just disclosed "we have no African Americans or Hispanics on our team of 30.") Supporting his argument, Partovi added: "In 2013, not one female student took the AP computer science exam in Mississippi." (Left unsaid is that only one male student took the exam in Mississippi). Microsoft earlier vilified the CS education pipeline in its U.S. Talent Strategy as it sought "targeted, short-term, high-skilled immigration reforms" from lawmakers. And Facebook COO and "Lean In" author Sheryl Sandberg recently suggested the pipeline is to blame for Facebook's lack of diversity. "Girls are at 18% of computer science college majors," Sandberg told USA Today in August. "We can't go much above 18% in our coders [Facebook has 7,185 total employees] if there's only 18% coming into the workplace."
Television

Senators Threaten To Rescind NFL Antitrust Exemption 242

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-rules dept.
An anonymous reader writes In response to the FCC's discontinuation of rules that support the NFL's blackout policies, the NFL issued a statement indicating that it would nevertheless continue to enforce its blackout policies through its private contract negotiations with local networks. On Wednesday, however, Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) announced a bill that would rescind the antitrust exemption that enables the NFL to demand blackouts in the first place and formally warned the NFL to abandon blackouts altogether. The antitrust exemption gives sports leagues "legal permission to conduct television-broadcast negotiations in a way that otherwise would have been price collusion" and further allowed the formation of the NFL from two separate leagues. Meanwhile, the NFL enjoys a specialized tax status and direct monetary support from taxpayers to build arenas and stadiums.
Mars

Elon Musk: We Must Put a Million People On Mars To Safeguard Humanity 549

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-send-them-to-saturn-instead dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Elon Musk's ambitions for SpaceX keep getting bigger. First he wanted to make the trip to Mars affordable, then he wanted to establish a city-sized colony, and now he's got his eye on the future of humanity. Musk says we need a million people on Mars to form a "sustainable, genetically diverse civilization" that can survive as humanity's insurance policy. He continued, "Even at a million, you're really assuming an incredible amount of productivity per person, because you would need to recreate the entire industrial base on Mars. You would need to mine and refine all of these different materials, in a much more difficult environment than Earth. There would be no trees growing. There would be no oxygen or nitrogen that are just there. No oil." How fast could we do it? Within a century, once the spacecraft reusability problem is solved. "Excluding organic growth, if you could take 100 people at a time, you would need 10,000 trips to get to a million people. But you would also need a lot of cargo to support those people. In fact, your cargo to person ratio is going to be quite high. It would probably be 10 cargo trips for every human trip, so more like 100,000 trips. And we're talking 100,000 trips of a giant spaceship."
Earth

Exxon and Russian Operation Discovers Oil Field Larger Than the Gulf of Mexico 201

Posted by samzenpus
from the drill-baby-drill dept.
An anonymous reader writes The state-run OAO Rosneft has discovered a vast pool of crude in the Kara Sea region of the Arctic Ocean, arguably bigger than the Gulf of Mexico. From the article: "The discovery sharpens the dispute between Russia and the U.S. over President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine. The well was drilled before the Oct. 10 deadline Exxon was granted by the U.S. government under sanctions barring American companies from working in Russia’s Arctic offshore. Rosneft and Exxon won’t be able to do more drilling, putting the exploration and development of the area on hold despite the find announced today."
Programming

Microsoft Co-opts Ice Bucket Challenge Idea To Promote Coding In Latin America 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-challenge-all-of-you dept.
theodp writes: Microsoft is aiming to offer free programming courses to over a million young Latin Americans through its Yo Puedo Programar and Eu Posso Programar initiatives ("I Can Program"). People between the ages of 12 and 25 will be able to sign up for the free online courses "One Hour Coding" and "Learning to Program," which will be offered in conjunction with Colombia's Coding Week (Oct. 6-10). The online courses will also be available in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Puerto Rico. "One Hour Coding" (aka Hour of Code in the U.S.) is a short introductory course in which participants will learn how the technology works and how to create applications, and it offers "a playful immersion in the computer sciences," Microsoft said in a statement. In the virtual, 12-session "Learning to Program" course, students will discover that "technical complexity in application development tools is a myth and that everyone can do it," the statement added. Taking a page from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge its execs embraced, Microsoft is encouraging students to complete the Hour of Code and challenge four other friends to do the same (Google Translate).
Medicine

The Odd Effects of Being Struck By Lightning 191

Posted by Soulskill
from the really-bad-hair-day dept.
HughPickens.com writes: "Ferris Jabr reports in Outside Magazine that every year, more than 500 Americans are struck by lightning. Roughly 90 percent of them will survive, but those survivors will be instantly, fundamentally altered in ways that still leave scientists scratching their heads. For example, Michael Utley was a successful stockbroker who often went skiing and windsurfing before he was struck by lightning. Today, at 62, he lives on disability insurance. "I don't work. I can't work. My memory's fried, and I don't have energy like I used to. I aged 30 years in a second." Lightning also dramatically altered Utley's personality. "It made me a mean, ornery son of a b****." Utley created a website devoted to educating people about preventing lightning injury and started regularly speaking at schools and doing guest spots on televised weather reports.

Mary Ann Cooper, professor emerita at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is one of the few medical doctors who have attempted to investigate how lightning alters the brain's circuitry. According to Cooper, the evidence suggests lightning injuries are, for the most part, injuries to the brain, the nervous system, and the muscles. Lightning can ravage or kill cells, but it can also leave a trail of much subtler damage and Cooper and other researchers speculate that chronic issues are the result of lightning scrambling each individual survivor's unique internal circuitry (PDF). "Those who attempt to return to work often find they are unable to carry out their former functions and after a few weeks, when coworkers get weary of 'covering' for them, they either are put on disability (if they are lucky) or fired," she writes.
Science

Researchers Develop Purely Optical Cloaking 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-cannot-fire-while-cloaked dept.
Rambo Tribble writes: Researchers at the University of Rochester have developed a remarkably effective visual cloak using a relatively simple arrangement of optical lenses. The method is unique in that it uses off-the-shelf components and provides cloaking through the visible spectrum. Also, it works in 3-D. As one researcher put it, "This is the first device that we know of that can do three-dimensional, continuously multidirectional cloaking, which works for transmitting rays in the visible spectrum." Bonus: The article includes instructions to build your own.
Transportation

Nearly 2,000 Chicago Flights Canceled After Worker Sets Fire At Radar Center 223

Posted by Soulskill
from the enjoy-your-prison-stay dept.
SpzToid sends this news out of Illinois: Nearly 2,000 flights in Chicago have been canceled so far today as federal aviation officials slowly resume operations at O'Hare and Midway airports following a fire that was deliberately set at an FAA radar center, apparently by a disgruntled worker. The center handles high-altitude traffic across parts of the Midwest. Controllers there direct planes through the airspace and either hand off the air traffic to other facilities handling high-altitude traffic or direct the planes to terminal radar facilities, including one in Elgin, which in turn direct planes to and from airport towers.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (10) Sorry, but that's too useful.

Working...