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+ - Giant Survival Ball Will Help Explorer Survive a Year on an Iceberg

Submitted by writes: Ben Yeager writes in Outside Magazine that Italian explorer Alex Bellini plans to travel to Greenland’s west coast, pick an iceberg, and live on it for a year as it melts out in the Atlantic. But it is a precarious idea. Bellini will be completely isolated, and his adopted dwelling is liable to roll or fall apart at any moment, thrusting him into the icy sea or crushing him under hundreds of tons of ice. His solution: an indestructible survival capsule built by an aeronautics company that specializes in tsunami-proof escape pods. " I knew since the beginning I needed to minimize the risk. An iceberg can flip over, and those events can be catastrophic.” Bellini plans to use a lightweight, indestructible floating capsules, or “personal safety systems" made from aircraft-grade aluminum in what’s called a continuous monocoque structure, an interlocking frame of aluminum spars that evenly distribute force, underneath a brightly painted and highly visible aluminum shell. The inner frame can be stationary or mounted on roller balls so it rotates, allowing the passengers to remain upright at all times.

Aeronautical engineer Julian Sharpe, founder of Survival Capsule, got the idea for his capsules after the 2004 Indonesian tsunami. He believes fewer people would have died had some sort of escape pod existed. Sharpe hopes the products will be universal—in schools, retirement homes, and private residences, anywhere there is severe weather. The product appeals to Bellini because it’s strong enough to survive a storm at sea or getting crushed between two icebergs. Bellini will spend almost all of his time in the capsule with the hatch closed, which will pose major challenges because he'll have to stay active without venturing out onto a slippery, unstable iceberg. If it flips, he’ll have no time to react. “Any step away from [the iceberg] will be in unknown territory,” says Bellini. “You want to stretch your body. But then you risk your life.”

+ - Tesla to announce home battery-based energy storage->

Submitted by Okian Warrior
Okian Warrior writes: Billionaire Elon Musk will announce next week that Tesla will begin offering battery-based energy storage for residential and commercial customers.

The batteries power up overnight when energy companies typically charge less for electricity, then are used during the day to power a home.

In a pilot project, Tesla has already begun offering home batteries to SolarCity (SCTY) customers, a solar power company for which Musk serves as chairman. Currently 330 U.S. households are running on Tesla's batteries in California.

The batteries start at about $13,000, though California's Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PCG) offers customers a 50% rebate. The batteries are three-feet high by 2.5-feet wide, and need to be installed at least a foot and a half off the ground. They can be controlled with a Web app and a smartphone app.

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+ - Tiredness enhances the brain's creativity

Submitted by monkeyzoo
monkeyzoo writes: Research has found that people perform better on creative tasks when they are a bit tired than when they are fully awake. One study published in Thinking and Reason divided people into two groups (night owls and morning people) according to their answers to a questionnaire and then asked them to solve two types of problems: "analytical" math-based problems and "insight" problems that require creative thinking. Both groups of subjects did consistently better on the insight problems during their sleepier time of day. The explanation offered is that creative problem solving requires seeing things from a new point of view, and during your most productive hours of the day, your ability to focus and block out distracting thoughts is higher. When you are a bit groggy, the brain is more prone to random, passing thoughts, and these can lead to a breakthrough in solving a challenging problem.

+ - Rocket Lab Unveils "Electric" Rocket Engine 1

Submitted by Adrian Harvey
Adrian Harvey writes: The New Zealand based commercial space company Rocket Lab has unveiled their new rocket engine which the media is describing as battery-powered. It still uses rocket fuel, of course, but has an entirely new propulsion cycle which uses electric motors to drive its turbopumps.

To add to the interest over the design, it uses 3D printing for all its primary components. First launch is expected this year, with commercial operations commencing in 2016.

+ - Can High Intelligence Be A Burden Rather Than A Boon?

Submitted by writes: David Robson has an interesting article at BBC on the relationship between high intelligence and happiness. "We tend to think of geniuses as being plagued by existential angst, frustration, and loneliness," writes Robson. Think of Virginia Woolf, Alan Turing, or Lisa Simpson – lone stars, isolated even as they burn their brightest." As Ernest Hemingway wrote: “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” The first steps to studying the question were taken in 1926 when psychologist Lewis Terman decided to identify and study a group of gifted children. Terman selected 1,500 pupils with an IQ of 140 or more – 80 of whom had IQs above 170. Together, they became known as the “Termites”, and the highs and lows of their lives are still being studied to this day.

As you might expect, many of the Termites did achieve wealth and fame – most notably Jess Oppenheimer, the writer of the classic 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy. Indeed, by the time his series aired on CBS, the Termites’ average salary was twice that of the average white-collar job. But not all the group met Terman’s expectations – there were many who pursued more “humble” professions such as police officers, seafarers, and typists. For this reason, Terman concluded that “intellect and achievement are far from perfectly correlated”. Nor did their smarts endow personal happiness. Over the course of their lives, levels of divorce, alcoholism and suicide were about the same as the national average.

According to Robson, one possibility is that knowledge of your talents becomes something of a ball and chain. During the 1990s, the surviving Termites were asked to look back at the events in their 80-year lifespan. Rather than basking in their successes, many reported that they had been plagued by the sense that they had somehow failed to live up to their youthful expectations (PDF).

+ - The origin of the first light in the Universe

Submitted by StartsWithABang
StartsWithABang writes: Before there were planets, galaxies, or even stars in the Universe, there really was light. We see that light, left over today, in the form of the Cosmic Microwave Background, or the remnant glow from the Big Bang. But these photons outnumber the matter in our Universe by more than a-billion-to-one, and are the most numerous thing around. So where did they first come from? Science has the answer.

+ - Ask Slashdot: What Makes a Good Work Environment For Developers and IT?->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: I've been unexpectedly placed in charge of a our small technology department at work. We have three dedicated developers, two dedicated IT people, and one "devops" guy who does some of both. It's the first team I've managed, and I'd to do a good job of it, so I ask you: what makes a good work environment? I have my own likes and dislikes, of course, and I'm sure everyone can appreciate things like getting credit for their work and always having the fridge stocked with soda. But I'd like to hear about the other things, big and small, that make it more fun (or at least less un-fun) to come into work every day. This can be anything — methods of personal communication, HR policies (for example, how can reviews be not-terrible?), amenities at the office, computer hardware/software, etc. I also wouldn't mind advice on how to represent my team when dealing with other departments.
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+ - Britain Used Spy Team to Shape Latin American Public Opinion on Falklands->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes: GCHQ’s efforts on Argentina and the Falklands between 2008 and 2011, the time period the documents cover, were broad and not limited solely to JTRIG. Surveillance of Argentine “military and Leadership” communications on various platforms was a “high priority” task. Despite the Obama administration’s unwillingness to publicly back their ally, NSA assistance was ongoing as of 2010. According to an NSA “Extended Enterprise Report” dated June 2008, based on NSA officials’ meetings with GCHQ representatives, Argentina was “GCHQ’s primary interest in the region.”
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+ - The ZX Spectrum is back->

Submitted by techfilz
techfilz writes: The Daily Mail reports that Sir Clive Sinclair has announced he is launching a modernised version of his 80's 8 bit computer, the ZX Spectrum.

The new Sinclair Spectrum Vega has less buttons than the original retro favourite, but should be able to run all the old games and accept SD cards as input. The product is ready and is currently undergoing funding via an Indiegogo campaign.

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Comment: Java is the new COBOL (Score 1) 511

by techfilz (#47742705) Attached to: If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?
Its been around for ages (in IT terms) and has caused more heartburn to developers than bad doughnuts. Used a lot in the monstrous systems that run the Corporates but not so much for developers looking to have a bit of coding fun. Java is as cool as Vanilla Ice was back in the early nineties.

"Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward" -- William E. Davidsen