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Transportation

Should Cities Install Moving Sidewalks? 698

Posted by timothy
from the that-and-bicycle-elevators dept.
theodp writes "The real problem nowadays is how to move crowds,' said the manager of the failed Trottoir Roulant Rapide high-speed (9 km/h) people mover project. 'They can travel fast over long distances with the TGV (high-speed train) or airplanes, but not over short distances (under 1 km).' Slate's Tom Vanderbilt explores whether moving walkways might be viable for urban transportation. The first moving sidewalks were unveiled at Chicago's 1893 Columbian Exposition, and at one point seemed destined to supplant some subways, but never took root in cities for a variety of reasons. Vanderbilt turns to science fiction for inspiration, where 30 mph walkways put today's tortoise-like speed ranges of .5-.83 m/s to shame. In the meantime, Jerry Seinfeld will just have to learn to live with 'the people who get onto the moving walkway and just stand there. Like it's a ride.'"
Earth

"Argonaut" Octopus Sucks Air Into Shell As Ballast 72

Posted by timothy
from the 8-legs-good dept.
audiovideodisco writes "Even among octopuses, the Argonaut must be one of the coolest. It gets its nickname — 'paper nautilus' — from the fragile shell the female assembles around herself after mating with the tiny male (whose tentacle/penis breaks off and remains in the female). For millennia, people have wondered what the shell was for; Aristotle thought the octopus used it as a boat and its tentacles as oars and sails. Now scientists who managed to study Argonauts in the wild confirm a different hypothesis: that the octopus sucks air into its shell and uses it for ballast as it weaves its way through the ocean like a tiny submarine. The researchers' beautiful video and photographs show just how the Argonaut pulls off this trick. The regular (non-paper) nautilus also uses its shell for ballast, but the distant relationship between it and all octopuses suggests this is a case of convergent evolution."
Power

Is RCA's Airnergy Snake Oil? 271

Posted by kdawson
from the deepness-in-the-sky dept.
Ben Newman writes "Of all the tech that's come out of CES this week, nothing has gotten the blogosphere more excited then the RCA Airnergy. A lot of people love the thought of an ever-recharging cell phone, and the Airnergy promises to constantly charge its internal battery through 2.4GHz wireless signals. Neat idea, but as some commenters have pointed out the energy just isn't there to make this work — BOTECs for a full charge range from 100 days to 32 years. Plus, don't let the RCA brand fool you into thinking this must be from a legitimate company: RCA hasn't existed as anything more then a licensed brand name for a couple of decades. So what do Slashdotters think — real deal or 21st century hokum?"

Comment: Re:Virtualization (Score 2, Informative) 328

by AdmiralXyz (#29879555) Attached to: Psystar's Rebel EFI Hackintosh Tool Reviewed, Found Wanting
Don't count on it. The problem with virtualization is that it requires the virtualized OS to be as cooperative to the whole affair as possible, since it needs to be fooled into thinking it has unfettered access to the system, which in many ways is much harder than just getting the OS to run natively on the hardware. Windows and Linux are becoming more virtualization-friendly every day since their developers have realized that their operating systems are being virtualized on a regular basis, but since there is no Apple-approved way to virtualize OS X, it would be a fairly trivial matter for them to make it as unfriendly to virtualize as possible. If that doesn't sound like such a big deal, consider how many strange bugs there are in VMs where the virtualized operating system is TRYING to make it as easier on the VM.

Is Apple doing this at the moment? Probably not. Would they if they saw OS X virtualization becoming widespread against their will? Of course no one can say for sure, but I don't think anyone would put it past them either.
Biotech

Florida Lab Gets Pregnant 149

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the also-no-one-has-heard-from-them-in-days dept.
Synthetic Biology, a relatively new field, is seeking to find out what happened to a bunch of chemicals to make them capable of supporting a metabolism, replicating, and evolution. A Florida lab is showing some of the most promising advancements in this direction with their AEGIS (Artificially Expanded Genetic Information System) experiment. "AEGIS is not self-sustaining, at least not yet, and with 12 DNA building blocks -- as opposed to the usual four -- there's little chance it will be confused with natural life. Still, Benner is encouraged by the results. 'It's evolving. It's doing what we designed it to do,' said Benner, a biochemist with the Gainesville, Fla.-based Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution. In addition to providing an example of how alien life might be cobbled together, synthetic biology has a broad array of uses on the home front."
Hardware Hacking

Hackable Microcontroller-Powered Valentine's Card 133

Posted by kdawson
from the gotta-have-heart dept.
compumike writes "If you have a significant other to impress this Valentine's Day, consider putting your programming skills to use. This video tutorial shows how to build an LED Heart Valentine's card, powered by a microcontroller running C code, with a neat randomized 'twinkling' effect in an interrupt handler. Think about it: how many ladies can say that their Valentine's card runs at 14 MHz?"
The Courts

+ - Psystar: EULA Slayer? Groklaw says no

Submitted by UnknowingFool
UnknowingFool (672806) writes "When Psystar first launched and went against Apple, some have claimed that a Psystar victory would mean a victory against EULAs. Groklaw has examined Psystar's Public License and found, if anything, their license is more restrictive than Apple's. What is more interesting is that Psystar seems to have copied Apple's Public License, replaced "Apple" with "Psystar" and made slight modifications to grant users less rights. My comparison shows that two licenses are nearly identical line for line but for those changes with Psystar even matching the Apple's numbering."
It's funny.  Laugh.

+ - Male Science Students Least Sexually Active

Submitted by Thib
Thib (730259) writes "A study at the University of Sydney published in the Journal Sexual Health and featured not without humor by PhysOrg confirms it: "Female arts students at university are the most sexually active while male science students are the most likely to be virgins", a conclusion which I'm sure will come as no surprise to Slashdotters worldwide. The study was actually about chlamydia awareness among university students aged 18 to 25."

Comment: Re:Open source hardware? By who's definition? (Score 1) 88

by oskay (#25930767) Attached to: The State of Open Source Hardware In 2008

what sort of project did you have in mind that would be easier with an open source mechanical CAD package? I guess I'm trying to understand the scale and scope of such a project and what sort of CAD you would need (2D/3D/both)?

Both. My own project is CandyFab, but there are a lot of other cases out there where such a thing would be helpful. The Openmoko design files are released in Pro/E, for example-- not exactly free software.

Comment: Re:Open source hardware? By who's definition? (Score 1) 88

by oskay (#25929527) Attached to: The State of Open Source Hardware In 2008

It never seems like a project is really "open source" if you need a $1000+ piece of software to open up the design files.

I can say that two of the kits in that list (which I designed) *were* designed with gEDA and have the pcb design files released. I don't know for certain if any of the others are.

I *really* wish that there were good open source CAD tools for mechanical applications as well-- it would make a lot of other projects easier to release as fully open source.

Medicine

What Is the Best Way To Disinfect Your Laptop? 545

Posted by timothy
from the use-a-nice-strong-antivirus dept.
akutz writes "I've had the flu since Tuesday afternoon. My wife picked me up from work with a temperature of 103.6 and it finally broke at 98.7 around 3am this morning. Yay. The problem is that I used my laptop during my periods of feverish deliriousness, contaminating my shiny 15" MacBook Pro with the icky influenza virus. I am asking my fellow Slashdotters if they have ever sought out a good way of disinfecting their lucky laptops after an illness. Do you use soap? A light acid bath? Just get the family dog to lick it until it looks clean?"
Software

Boy Scouts Ask Open Source Community For Help 973

Posted by kdawson
from the trustworthy-loyal-helpful-friendly dept.
Lucas123 writes "The Boy Scouts of America are looking to the open-source community for help in building software to use for fundraisers, special events, and other functions, for their more than 121,000 local scout troops. Some open source advocates, who are former Boy Scouts, support the idea, despite a few reservations. According to the article, there are no plans for a scout merit badge in open source — but there has been a merit badge in computers since 1967, 'and it is possible that if the program is successful, it could eventually be used by IT-savvy scouts themselves.'"
Technology

New Electron Microscope Shows Atoms in Color 110

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the say-cheese dept.
Cornell's Duffield Hall has acquired a new electron microscope that is enabling scientists to see individual atoms in color for the very first time. While old electron microscopes can be compared to black and white cameras, this new scanning transmission electron microscope uses a new aberration-correction technology that is both more intense and allows for faster imaging speed. "The method also can show how atoms are bonded to one another in a crystal, because the bonding creates small shifts in the energy signatures. In earlier STEMs, many electrons from the beam, including those with changed energies, were scattered at wide angles by simple collisions with atoms. The new STEM includes magnetic lenses that collect emerging electrons over a wider angle. Previously, Silcox said, about 8 percent of the emerging electrons were collected, but the new detector collects about 80 percent, allowing more accurate readings of the small changes in energy levels that reveal bonding between atoms."

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