astroengine writes "According to a new publication, NASA's Kepler exoplanet-hunting space telescope may soon start discovering Saturn-like ringed alien worlds. So far, none have been positively identified, as Kepler has only detected exoplanets orbiting close to their parent stars; if these exoplanets have rings, they are most likely to have rings facing edge-on to their orbits, making them nearly impossible to detect. As more distant-orbiting exoplanets are detected, there's more likelihood ringed worlds will be tilted, allowing Kepler to see them."
MojoKid writes "This is the final straw, the last stand. This is the year that companies have to wise up and realize that they're destroying the experience of the very machines they are marketing so vigorously against their competitors. We're talking about bloatware, and it's an issue that we simply cannot remain silent on any longer. The term 'bloatware' generally refers to any additional software installed on a machine that is not a native part of the operating system. 'Bloatware' is usually provided by third-party software companies, and can range from security suites to unwanted Web browser toolbars. It's most problematic, as these programs generally attempt to boot up first thing, right as the OS is booting up, before the end-user ever has a chance to launch the program on their own accord. It's time for manufacturers to take note: consumers do not want bloatware. It's a royal pain from top to bottom, and moreover, it ruins your brand. When people think of HP and Dell, they immediately think of just how infuriating it is that their last 'new' PC took over one minute to boot up and become usable. To these companies: why are you saddling your machines with software that makes it less enjoyable to use? The solution seems pretty simple. If you still wish to include loads upon loads of third-party software, stick it all on a thumb drive and include it with every new machine. Problem solved."
nicomede writes "The French state-owned DCNS (French military shipyard) announced today a concept study for an underwater nuclear reactor dedicated to power coastal communities in remote places. It is derived from nuclear submarine power plants, and its generator would be able to produce between 50 MWe and 250MWe. Such a plant would be fabricated and maintained in France, and dispatched for the different customers, thus reducing the risk for proliferation."
matty619 writes "A CNET article is reporting on another try at low earth orbit satellites for internet access, reminiscent of Teledesic, an ill fated $9 billion Bill Gates/Paul Allen et al venture originally consisting of 840 low earth orbit satellites (LEO-SAT). From the article: 'MSCI, which stands for Microsat Systems Canada Inc., is trying to be a bit of a maverick with its project, called CommStellation. The company said today that its approach of using small, inexpensive satellites in low orbit — about 620 miles above the Earth — means better coverage of the world's population, quicker launch, and better network capacity.' Each MSCI satellite has a data-transfer capacity of 12 gigabits per second. The expected lifespan of each is 10 years, and they can be sent back into the atmosphere at the end of their lives to avoid more orbital clutter."
rhettb writes "Scientists in the Netherlands have discovered that insects produce significantly less greenhouse gas per kilogram of meat than cattle or pigs. Their study, published in the online journal PLoS, suggests that a move towards insect farming could result in a more sustainable — and affordable — form of meat production."
coondoggie writes "In a move seemingly straight out of the Terminator movies, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency this week said it has contracted with 15 companies or universities to begin building software and hardware that will give machines or robots visual intelligence similar to humans."
An anonymous reader writes "A centuries-old religious ceremony of an indigenous people in southern Mexico has led to evolutionary changes in a local species of fish, say researchers at Texas A&M University. Apparently since before Columbus arrived, the Zoque people would venture each spring into the sulfuric cave Cueva del Azufre to beg the gods for bountiful rain. As part of the ritual, they released into the cave's waters a leaf-bound paste made of lime and the ground-up root of the barbasco plant, a natural fish toxin. The rest is worth reading, but the upshot is that the fish living in the cave waters eventually got wise, genetically speaking."
nacturation writes "The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a petition for review and motion for an emergency stay, urging the District of Columbia Court of Appeals to suspend the Transportation Security Administration's full body scanner program. EPIC said that the program is 'unlawful, invasive, and ineffective' (PDF). EPIC argued that the federal agency has violated the Administrative Procedures Act, the Privacy Act, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Fourth Amendment. EPIC cited the invasive nature of the devices, the TSA's disregard of public opinion, and the impact on religious freedom."
tekgoblin writes "Wow, I would never have thought to try and cook food with the power that a standard USB port provides, but someone did. A standard port provides 5V of power, give or take a little. I am not even sure what it takes to heat a small hotplate, but I am sure it is more than 5V. It looks like the guy tied together around 30 USB cables powered by his PC to power this small hotplate. But believe it or not, it seems to have cooked the meat perfectly."
It turns out the soy-based wire covering on cars built after 2002 is irresistible to rodents. Nobody knows this better than those unlucky enough to park at DIA's Pikes Peak lot. The rabbits surrounding the area have been using the lot as an all-you-can-eat wiring buffet. Looks like it's time to break out The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.
bossanovalithium writes "Carnegie Mellon University has taught a computer how to read and learn from the internet. According to Dennis Baron at the Oxford University press blog, the computer is called NELL and it is reading the internet and learning from it in much the same way that humans learn language and acquire knowledge. Basically by soaking it all up and figuring it out. NELL is short for Never Ending Language Learner and apparently it is getting brainier every day."
Stoobalou writes "Europe has proposed an Internet Treaty to protect the Internet from the political interference which threatens to break it up. The draft international law has been compared to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which sought to prevent space exploration being pursued for anything less than the benefit of all human kind. The Internet Treaty would similarly seek to preserve the Internet as a global system of free communication that transcends national borders."
bonch writes "A new study on Greenland's and West Antarctica's rate of ice loss halves the estimate of ice loss. Published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the study takes into account a rebounding of the Earth's crust called glacial isostatic adjustment, a continuing rise of the crust after being smashed under the weight of the Ice Age. 'We have concluded that the Greenland and West Antarctica ice caps are melting at approximately half the speed originally predicted,' said researcher Bert Vermeeersen."
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.
An anonymous reader writes "It is now compulsory for people selected for a full body scan to take part, or they will not be allowed to fly from Heathrow or Manchester airports. There is no optional pat down. Also, a rule which meant that people under 18 were not allowed to participate in the body scanner trial has been overturned by the government. There is no mention of blurring out the genitals, however reports a few years back said X-ray backscatter devices aren't effective unless the genitals of people going through them are visible."