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Music

How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level 196

Posted by timothy
from the if-only-earbuds-would-stick-in-my-ears dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes "Apple is one of the biggest headphone makers in the world thanks to those signature white earbuds that have shipped with every iPod, iPhone, and iPad since 2001. But even two years after earbuds became 'EarPods,' the design could still be improved — and competitors are taking notice. Amazon recently unveiled a new pair of in-ear headphones that are magnetic, tangle-free and $5 cheaper than Apple's $30 EarPods, while smaller startups are promoting their own wireless and customizable 3D-printed earbuds. But Apple has an ace up its sleeve, in the form of patents for a set of headphones with 'one or more integrated physiological sensors' designed to help users keep track of their body stats."
NASA

NASA Successfully Tests 'Flying Saucer' Craft, New Parachute 49

Posted by timothy
from the splashdown-harder-on-mars dept.
As reported by the Associated Press, via the Washington Post, an update on the promised (and now at least mostly successful) new disc-shaped craft and parachute technology intended for a NASA mission to Mars, though applicable to other space missions as well: A saucer-shaped NASA vehicle launched by balloon high into Earth’s atmosphere splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on Saturday, completing a successful test on Saturday of technology that could be used to land on Mars. Since the twin Viking spacecraft landed on the red planet in 1976, NASA has relied on the same parachute design to slow landers and rovers after piercing through the thin Martian atmosphere. The $150 million experimental flight tested a novel vehicle and a giant parachute designed to deliver heavier spacecraft and eventually astronauts. Despite small problems like the giant parachute not deploying fully, NASA deemed the mission a success. ... [T]he parachute unfurled — if only partially — and guided the vehicle to an ocean splashdown about three hours later. At 110 feet in diameter, the parachute is twice as big as the one that carried the 1-ton Curiosity rover through the Martian atmosphere in 2011. Coatta said engineers won't look at the parachute problem as a failure, but as a way to learn more and apply that knowledge during future tests. ... A ship was sent to recover a "black box" designed to separate from the vehicle and float. Outfitted with a GPS beacon, the box contains the crucial flight data that scientists are eager to analyze. "That's really the treasure trove of all the details," Coatta said. "Pressure, temperature, force. High-definition video. All those measurements that are really key to us to understanding exactly what happens throughout this test."
Music

Secret of the Banjo's Unique Sound Discovered By Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist 101

Posted by timothy
from the ok-now-tell-us-why-people-like-it dept.
KentuckyFC (1144503) writes The banjo is a stringed instrument that produces a distinctive metallic sound often associated with country, folk and bluegrass music. It is essentially a drum with a long neck. Strings are fixed at the end of the neck, stretched across the drum and fixed on the other side. They are supported by a bridge that sits on the drum membrane. While the instrument is straightforward in design and the metallic timbre easy to reproduce, acoustics experts have long puzzled over exactly how the instrument produces its characteristic tones. Now David Politzer, who won the Nobel prize for physics in 2004, has worked out the answer. He says the noise is the result of two different kinds of vibrations. First there is the vibration of the string, producing a certain note. However, the drum also vibrates and this pushes the bridge back and forth causing the string to stretch and relax. This modulates the frequency of the note. When frequency of this modulation is below about 20 hertz, it creates a warbling effect. Guitar players can do the same thing by pushing a string back and forth after it is plucked. But when the modulating frequency is higher, the ear experiences it as a kind of metallic crash. And it is this that gives the banjo its characteristic twang. If you're in any doubt, try replacing the drum membrane with a piece of wood and the twang goes away. That's because the wood is stiffer and so does not vibrate to the same extent. Interesting what Nobel prize-winning physicists do in their spare time.

+ - Germany's glut of electricity causing prices to plummet

Submitted by AmiMoJo
AmiMoJo (196126) writes "Germany is headed for its biggest electricity glut since 2011 as new coal-fired plants start and generation of wind and solar energy increases, weighing on power prices that have already dropped for three years. From December capacity will be at 117% of peak demand. The benchmark German electricity contract has slumped 36% since the end of 2010.

“The new plants will run at current prices, but they won’t cover their costs” said Ricardo Klimaschka, a power trader at Energieunion GmbH. Lower prices “leave a trail of blood in our balance sheet” according to Bernhard Guenther, CFO at RWE, Germany’s biggest power producer. Wind and solar’s share of installed German power capacity will rise to 42% by next year from 30% in 2010. The share of hard coal and lignite plant capacity will drop to 28% from 32%."
Security

Microsoft Suspending "Patch Tuesday" Emails 145

Posted by timothy
from the just-visit-our-lair-for-updates dept.
New submitter outofluck70 (1734164) writes Got an email today from Microsoft, text is below. [Note: text here edited for formatting and brevity; see the full text at seclists.org.] They are no longer going to send out emails regarding patches, you have to use RSS or keep visiting their security sites. They blame "governmental policies" as the reason. What could the real reason be? Anybody in the know? From the email: "Notice to IT professionals: As of July 1, 2014, due to changing governmental policies concerning the issuance of automated electronic messaging, Microsoft is suspending the use of email notifications that announce the following: Security bulletin advance notifications; Security bulletin summaries; New security advisories and bulletins; Major and minor revisions to security advisories and bulletins. In lieu of email notifications, you can subscribe to one or more of the RSS feeds described on the Security TechCenter website." WindowsIT Pro blames Canada's new anti-spam law.
Government

Saudi Government Targeting Dissidents With Mobile Malware 41

Posted by timothy
from the they-don't-go-in-for-a-slap-on-the-wrist dept.
wiredmikey (1824622) writes Human Rights Watch on Friday demanded a clarification from Saudi Arabia over allegations from security researchers that the kingdom is infecting and monitoring dissidents' mobile phones with surveillance malware. The New York-based rights watchdog said surveillance software allegedly made by Italian firm Hacking Team mostly targeted individuals in Qatif district in Eastern Province, which has been the site of sporadic Shiite-led protests since February 2011. "We have documented how Saudi authorities routinely crack down on online activists who have embraced social media to call out human rights abuses," said Cynthia Wong, HRW's senior Internet researcher. "It seems that authorities may now be hacking into mobile phones, turning digital tools into just another way for the government to intimidate and silence independent voices." The accusations against the Saudi Government come days after researchers from Kaspersky Lab and Citizen Lab uncovered new details on advanced surveillance tools offered by HackingTeam [Note: mentioned in this earlier Slashdot story], including never before seen implants for smartphones running on iOS and Android.
Google

Google Is Offering Free Coding Lessons To Women and Minorities 374

Posted by Soulskill
from the building-a-strong-base-of-coders dept.
redletterdave writes: According to a blog post from Gregg Pollack, CEO of the Code School, Google is paying for three free months for any women and minorities interested in tech to expand their skills. The offer is part of Google's $50 million "Made With Code" initiative, which aims to help close the gender gap in tech. While Google is also offering the same vouchers to the women in attendance at its annual I/O developers conference this week, the search giant has released an online application that's available to women everywhere. Google says its available vouchers for women number in the "thousands."
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Correlation Between Text Editor and Programming Language? 358

Posted by Soulskill
from the fortran-and-a-stack-of-recycled-construction-paper dept.
tyggna writes: "The flame wars of different shells and text editors have long been established, but my question is this: are text editors and various languages linked? Do the majority of Ruby programmers use Emacs? Are most Perl programmers using vim?

Please post your editor and language of choice in the comments."
Biotech

Fixing Faulty Genes On the Cheap 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-if-i-like-the-worn-out-look dept.
An anonymous reader sends an article about CRISPR, a system for modifying genes and moving them from cell to cell. It's notable because the cost to do so is dropping to the point where it's becoming viable to use on a patient-by-patient basis. CRISPR is one of those interesting inventions that comes, not from scientists explicitly trying to cure a disease, but from researchers trying to understand something fundamental about nature. Jennifer Doudna's research at the University of California, Berkeley has focused on how bacteria fight the flu. It turns out bacteria don't like getting flu any more than the rest of us do. Doudna says the way bacteria fight off a flu virus gave her and her colleagues an idea. Bacteria have special enzymes that can cut open the DNA of an invading virus and make a change in the DNA at the site of the cut — essentially killing the virus. Doudna and other scientists figured out how this defense system works in bacteria; that was interesting all by itself. But then they realized that they could modify these enzymes to recognize any DNA sequence, not just the DNA sequence of viruses that infect bacteria.
EU

Google Starts Removing Search Results After EU Ruling 138

Posted by samzenpus
from the forget-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes Google has begun removing some search results to comply with a European Union ruling upholding citizens' right to have objectionable personal information about them hidden in search engines. "Google engineers overnight updated the company's technical infrastructure to begin implementing the removals, and Thursday began sending the first emails to individuals informing them that links they had requested were being taken down. The company has hired a dedicated 'removals team' to evaluate each request, though only a small number of the initial wave of takedown requests has so far been processed."
Space

Trio of Big Black Holes Spotted In Galaxy Smashup 74

Posted by samzenpus
from the there's-something-you-don't-see-every-day dept.
sciencehabit writes Astronomers staring across the universe have spotted a startling scene: three supermassive black holes orbiting close to one another, two of them just a few hundred light-years apart. The trio, housed in a pair of colliding galaxies, may help scientists hunting for ripples in spacetime known as gravitational waves.
Earth

Air Pollution Can Disrupt Pollinating Insects By Concealing the Scent of Flowers 67

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-smell-you-with dept.
vinces99 writes Car and truck exhaust fumes that foul the air for humans also cause problems for pollinators. In new research on how pollinators find flowers when background odors are strong, University of Washington and University of Arizona researchers found that both natural plant odors and human sources of pollution can conceal the scent of sought-after flowers. When the calories from one feeding of a flower gets you only 15 minutes of flight, as is the case with the tobacco hornworn moth studied, being misled costs a pollinator energy and time. "Local vegetation can mask the scent of flowers because the background scents activate the same moth olfactory channels as floral scents," according to Jeffrey Riffell, UW assistant professor of biology. "Plus the chemicals in these scents are similar to those emitted from exhaust engines and we found that pollutant concentrations equivalent to urban environments can decrease the ability of pollinators to find flowers."
NASA

NASA's Orion Spaceship Passes Parachute Test 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the first-step dept.
An anonymous reader writes The spacecraft it is hoped will take man to Mars has passed its first parachute tests. Nasa's Orion spacecraft landed gently using its parachutes after being shoved out of a military jet at 35,000 feet. "We've put the parachutes through their paces in ground and airdrop testing in just about every conceivable way before we begin sending them into space on Exploration Flight Test (EFT)-1 before the year's done," Orion program manager Mark Geyer said in a NASA statement. "The series of tests has proven the system and will help ensure crew and mission safety for our astronauts in the future."
Google

Google Demos Modular Phone That (Almost) Actually Works 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-youd-like-to-make-a-call-please-wait dept.
An anonymous reader writes Google's Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group demonstrated Tango, a tablet with 3D cameras similar to Microsoft's Kinect and a version of the Ara phone that could almost boot to the Android home screen (it froze during the demo) at Google I/O today. Project Ara will give $100,000 to anyone who can create an Ara module that does something current smartphones can't. From the article: "Ara moved from concept render to physical mockup in about six months, and onstage today Google demonstrated a version of the phone that could just about boot to the Android home screen. In the demo above, the phone displayed a partial boot screen before freezing. The full boot time (had the demo worked as intended) would be about a minute, which would be a long time for a shipping phone but is reasonably impressive for such an early prototype. Software is the other thing that Ara's developers need to figure out. Current Android builds ship with support for the hardware the phone runs, but they don't include a whole bunch of extraneous drivers for other modems or Wi-Fi modules or cameras or SoCs. Current phone hardware doesn't change, so Android doesn't typically need to worry about this kind of thing."
Transportation

New Chemical Process Could Make Ammonia a Practical Car Fuel 380

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the plant-engine-hybrid dept.
overThruster (58843) writes A phys.org article says UK researchers have made a breakthrough that could make ammonia a practical source of hydrogen for fueling cars. From the article: "Many catalysts can effectively crack ammonia to release the hydrogen, but the best ones are very expensive precious metals. This new method is different and involves two simultaneous chemical processes rather than using a catalyst, and can achieve the same result at a fraction of the cost. ... Professor Bill David, who led the STFC research team at the ISIS Neutron Source, said 'Our approach is as effective as the best current catalysts but the active material, sodium amide, costs pennies to produce. We can produce hydrogen from ammonia "on demand" effectively and affordably.'" The full paper. The researchers claim that a two-liter reaction chamber could produce enough hydrogen to power a typical sedan.

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