With his popular Getting Started in Electronics, and Engineer's Mini-Notebook series and a number of different electronics kits sold at Radio Shack, Forrest Mims inspired countless scientists and engineers. Even though he received no formal academic training in science, Forrest has appeared in 70 magazines and scientific journals. He has worked as a consultant for the National Geographic Society, the National Science Teachers Association, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Today, Mims works on many scientific projects including climate change research. He's agreed to answer all your questions about science and engineering. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
alphadogg writes "Engineers are putting the final touches on a network capable of handling up to 54Tbps of traffic when the Winter Olympics opens on Feb. 7 in the Russian city of Sochi. The two locations where the Olympics will take place — the Olympic village in Sochi and a tight cluster of Alpine venues in the nearby Krasnaya Polyana Mountains — are completely new construction, so this project represents a greenfield environment for Avaya, the company heading up the project. In addition to investing in a telecom infrastructure, Russia is spending billions of dollars to upgrade Sochi's electric power grid, its transportation system and even its sewage treatment facilities."
sciencehabit writes "How old is the binary number system? Perhaps far older than the invention of binary math in the West. The residents of a tiny Polynesian island may have been doing calculations in binary—a number system with only two digits—centuries before it was described by Gottfried Leibniz, the co-inventor of calculus, in 1703."
sciencehabit writes "How old is the binary number system? Perhaps far older than the invention of computers or even the invention of binary math in the West. The residents of a tiny Polynesian island may have been doing calculations in binary—a number system with only two digits—centuries before it was described by Gottfried Leibniz, the co-inventor of calculus, in 1703."
Link to Original Source
Link to Original Source
jones_supa writes "An interesting bug regarding update dependency calculation has been found in Windows XP. By design, machines using Windows Update retrieve patch information from Microsoft's update servers (or possibly WSUS in a company setting). That patch information contains information about each patch: what software it applies to and, critically, what historic patch or patches the current patch supersedes. Unfortunately, the Windows Update client components used an algorithm with exponential scaling when processing these lists. Each additional superseded patch would double the time taken to process the list. With the operating system now very old, those lists have grown long, sometimes to 40 or more items. On a new machine, that processing appeared to be almost instantaneous. It is now very slow. After starting the system, svchost.exe is chewing up the entire processor, sometimes for an hour or more at a time. Wait long enough after booting and the machine will eventually return to normalcy. Microsoft thought that it had this problem fixed in November's Patch Tuesday update after it culled the supersedence lists. That update didn't appear to fix the problem. The company thought that its December update would also provide a solution, with even more aggressive culling. That didn't seem to help either. For one reason or another, Microsoft's test scenarios for the patches didn't reflect the experience of real Windows XP machines."
schwit1 writes in with the latest on an U.S. District Court ruling over NSA spying. "A federal judge ruled Monday that the National Security Agency's phone surveillance program is likely unconstitutional, Politico reports. U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon said that the agency's controversial program, first unveiled by former government contractor Edward Snowden earlier this year, appears to violate the Constitution's Fourth Amendment, which states that the 'right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.' 'I cannot imagine a more "indiscriminate" and "arbitrary invasion" than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying it and analyzing it without judicial approval,' Leon wrote in the ruling. The federal ruling came down after activist Larry Klayman filed a lawsuit in June over the program. The suit claimed that the NSA's surveillance 'violates the U.S. Constitution and also federal laws, including, but not limited to, the outrageous breach of privacy, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and the due process rights of American citizens.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Commercial package-delivery drones such as those revealed by Amazon and DHL could face danger from more than shotgun-toting, UAV-hunting yahoos following the successful test of a drone-killing laser by the U.S. Army. Though it's more likely to take aim at enemy observation drones than Amazon's package-deliver 'copters, the U.S. Army's High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL-MD) did prove itself in tests last week by shooting down 90 incoming mortars and a series of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). The original goal during the test at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico was to burn out or blow up mortar rounds and blind the cameras or other sensors carried by drones. The laser proved capable enough to damage or slice off the tails of target drones, which brought them down, according to Terry Bauer, HEL MD program manager, as quoted in the Dec. 11 Army announcement of the test. The quarter-sized beam of super-focused light set off the explosives in the 60-millimeter mortars in mid-flight, leaving the rest to fall 'like a rock,' Bauer said. The laser could target only one mortar at a time, but could switch targets quickly enough to bring down several mortars fired in a single volley. The laser and its power source are contained in a single 500-horsepower, four-axle truck but was directed by a separate Enhanced Multi Mode Radar system. The next step is a move from New Mexico to a testing range in Florida early next year 'to test it in rain and fog and things like that,' according to Bauer."
barlevg writes "It's long been a concern that the widespread use of antibacterial soaps is contributing towards the evolution of drug-resistant 'superbugs,' but as the Washington Post reports, the Food and Drug Administration also does not believe that there is any evidence to support that the antibacterial agents in soaps are any more effective at killing germs than simply washing with soap and water. Under the terms of a proposal under consideration, the FDA will require that manufacturers making such claims will have to show proof. If they fail to do so, they will be required to change their marketing or even stop selling the products altogether."
Sockatume writes "Since 2011, Amazon Instant Video has sold a series of Christmas shorts from Disney called 'Prep and Landing'. Unfortunately this holiday season, Disney has had a change of heart and has decided to make the shorts exclusive to its own channels. The company went so far as to retroactively withdrawn the shows from Amazon, so that customers who have already paid for them no longer have access. Apparently this reverse-Santa ability is a feature Amazon provides all publishers, and customers have little recourse but to go cap-in-hand to a Disney outlet and pay for the shows again."
cartechboy writes "It looks like the old-school windshield wiper is about to be replaced by new technology — but not until 2015. British car-maker McLaren is apparently developing a new window cleaning system that is modeled from fighter jet tech. The company isn't revealing exactly how it will work, but the idea comes from the chief designer simply asking a military source why you don't see wipers on jets as they land. Experts expect McClaren to use constantly active, high-frequency sound waves outside the range of human hearing that will effectively create a force field across a car's windshield to repel water, ice insects and other debris. Similar sound waves are used by dentists to remove plaque from teeth."
When he's not lecturing at Stanford or NASA, Alan Adler is working on brewing the perfect cup of coffee and engineering flying toys. His AeroPress is one of the most popular coffee brewing systems available and one of his Aerobie Pro Rings set the world record for the farthest thrown object at 1,333 feet. Alan has agreed to sit down and answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Zothecula writes "Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a step forward. NASA is carrying out initial tests on a new, lighter spacesuit for use by the crew of the Orion spacecraft that is currently under development. The tests are being carried out in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory near the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas on a modified version of the pumpkin orange suit normally worn by Space Shuttle crews during liftoff and re-entry and is a return to a space suit design of the 1960s."
An anonymous reader writes "Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto could be a group from Europe which has a strong footing in the financial sector. From the article: 'Josh Zerlan, the Chief Operating Officer of Butterfly Labs and a person familiar with the Bitcoin network, has said it is highly likely that Nakamoto could be a group of people working the financial sector. Speaking to IBTimes UK on the sidelines of a Global Bitcoin Conference in Bangalore, India, Zerlan said: "One of the prevailing theories, I think has credibility, is that it was some group of people from financial sector that created this. They released it and stepped back and let it go. So, Satoshi Nakamoto is a group of people, I think, is a reasonable possibility."'"
Jah-Wren Ryel writes "It turns out Facebook tracks the stuff that people type and then erase before hitting the post button. If you start writing a message, and then think better of it and decide not to post it, Facebook still adds it to the dossier they keep on you. From the article: 'Storing text as you type isn't uncommon on other websites. For example, if you use Gmail, your draft messages are automatically saved as you type them. Even if you close the browser without saving, you can usually find a (nearly) complete copy of the email you were typing in your Drafts folder. Facebook is using essentially the same technology here. The difference is that Google is saving your messages to help you. Facebook users don't expect their unposted thoughts to be collected, nor do they benefit from it.'"
First time accepted submitter ClarkSchultz writes "Harris Interactive confirms that consumers streaming video content prefer the practice of binge viewing.The news isn't a big shocker to streaming concerns such as Netflix, Amazon, and Redbox Instant which have been mining viewer habits data, but it has an important read-through for broadcasters like CBS, NBC, Fox, and ABC. Though ad rates could fall if more viewers wait until series are available for streaming, the payoffs for quality content are proving lush: 1) CBS says it paid $700K per episode for streaming rights to Under the Dome 2) AMC Networks has pointed to Netflix as contributing to the success of Breaking Bad after initial ratings were soft. If streaming wins, who loses? Front and center is the Pay-TV industry. A wave of merger rumors (Charter/Cox/Time Warner Cable/Comcast/Dish Network) indicates the industry knows the trend of subscriber losses to the cord-cutting phenomenon will continue. An online TV initiative from a tech heavyweight like Sony, Apple, Google, or Intel could also disrupt the industry enough to put cable and satellite companies into an even bigger tailspin."