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Graphics

+ - LIDAR Maps to find Giant Trees

teflonscout writes: The Wired Science blog is running a story about the people, gear, and plane behind an effort to find redwood trees taller than the world record of 379 feet. Two technicians and a pilot from Sanborn Mapping Company slowly sweep across Redwood National Park in a raster pattern. They use LIDAR to gather 85,000 3D data points per second, creating a map with less than 0.5 meter resolution. This means that they can even identify individual tree species with the almost photolike data. Since the LIDAR laser beams can slip between tree branches, an image of the forest floor and treetops can be constructed. By subtracting the height of the forest floor from the trees, the heights of the trees can be calculated with tremendous accuracy. Once a grove of tall trees has been identified, Professor Steven C. Sillett of Humboldt State University will send his students into the forest to verify the heights of the giant trees.
Biotech

+ - Searching for The World's Tallest Trees with LIDAR

SoyChemist writes: The Save-the-Redwoods League is leading an effort to map all of Redwood National Park with light detection and ranging equipment. LIDAR simultaneously creates a 3D "point file" of the forest floor and canopy. Calculating tree heights is a simple matter of subtraction. Among other things, the maps will be used to locate immense redwood trees. Hyperion, the tallest known tree in the world, stands 378.1 feet tall and was recently discovered in that same park. The conservationists believe that they will find even taller trees. Wired is running a story that includes pictures and details about the twin-engine 1968 Aero Commander and the LIDAR equipment. Perhaps the coolest thing about this is that all of the map data will be released into the public domain.
Biotech

+ - MIT Chemists Create Fluorescent Bomb Sensor

SoyChemist writes: An MIT graduate student and her adviser have designed a simple test for RDX, the principal ingredient of C-4 explosives. When dissolved in the common solvent acetonitrile and blasted with ultraviolet radiation, the chemical will give off a blue glow if the high explosive is present. In the early 1980s, Army scientists studied how anaerobic bacteria from sewage can destroy RDX. Wired reports that the old Army study was an inspiration for this new sensor. The bacteria in that study used NADH, a coenzyme that is found everywhere in nature, to break down the explosives. The chemical sensor is a VERY distant relative of NADH that reacts with RDX and becomes highly fluorescent. A cool picture of vials filled with the glowing blue liquid appears in the MIT Technology Review.
Privacy

+ - License Plates Optional for California Elite

SuperBanana writes: Steve Jobs is part of a small group of California residents who can go without license plates. Instead, they have a small barcode located in the plate area. Not only does this make one invulnerable to tollbooth ticketing systems, but it makes them harder to target with a LIDAR speed gun (police use the highly reflective front plate as a target for the infrared beam.) Not to mention, if they commit any vehicular crimes or traffic infractions, witnesses have no plates to look for. States and the Federal government have numerous safety reasons why we are compelled to have two license plates, but if you've got enough commas in your bank account, you get to drive with no plates at all...
Toys

+ - Polyethylene Bulletproof Vests better than Kevlar

teflonscout writes: When I think of bulletproof vests, the first word that comes to mind is Kevlar. Wired is running a story on Dynema SB61, a bulletproof material that is made of polyethylene. It is a higher grade of the plastic found in Tupperware. The story also mentions the recall of Second Chance bulletproof vests that were made from Zylon, a material that degraded slowly when exposed to moisture. At least one police officer was injured when a bullet penetrated his Zylon vest. Polyethylene is impervious to moisture. The first vests made from this new material are 5mm thick and can stop at 9mm bullet traveling at 1777 feet per second, which is slightly better than other top of the line vests.
Biotech

+ - JoVE: Biological Research Video Sharing Community

teflonscout writes: Wired is running a story about the Journal of Visualized Experiments. JoVE is a video sharing community that intends to make it easier for scientists to learn state of the art lab techniques and reproduce the complicated experiments perfromed by their colleagues around the world. Each video shows a researcher performing an experiment while narrating each step of the way. In one video, a Harvard Student demonstrates the Derivation of Hematopoietic Stem Cells from Murine Embryonic Stem Cells. Another video shows the Nuclear Transfer in Mouse Oocytes. Wired points out that the side could become a phenomenal educational tool and change the public perception of scientists for better or for worse. Just like MIT's Open Courseware gives anyone anywhere access to high quality educational materials, JoVE will give students the opportunity to see cutting edge experiments as if they were standing in a lab and looking over a scientist's shoulder.
Biotech

+ - How to Harvest Stem Cells: The Video

An anonymous reader writes: Scientists sometimes cry foul when they can't reproduce an experiment that was performed in someone else's lab. Moshe Pritsker and Nikita Bernstein have created JoVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments to solve that problem. Their website is a lot like YouTube. It allows biologists to share how to videos of their research procedures. This is meant to increase the transparency and reproducability of complicated experiments. Perhaps the best example of this is a video that shows a Harvard Student explaining how to culture stem cells. The Wired Science blog points out that it is very hard to follow written instructions for experiments as complicated as cloning or harvesting stem cells. With a video to guide them, researchers will find it much easier to perform these difficult procedures for the first time.
Input Devices

+ - Lasers for video surveillance

Roland Piquepaille writes: "Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have built a new optical surveillance based on lasers. Their Laser-Based Item Monitoring System (LBIMS) is designed to protect high-value items in high security environments. It's also supposed to respect your privacy and be the equivalent of cameras with a 10,000-megapixel resolution. The LBIMS can be used in situations where conventional surveillance systems cannot be employed, such as areas where video surveillance has been specifically prohibited and areas where a RFID system could trigger an explosion. Read more for additional details and illustrations describing the LBIMS coming from a patent granted to ORNL."

Vista's 40 Million License Sales In Context 225 225

Overly Critical Guy writes "Microsoft's figure of 40 million Vista OEM licenses sold has less impact when weighed against the expanded size of the PC market, according to IDC numbers. The myriad of factors involved in determining success in the market makes Microsoft's constant comparisons to Windows XP less reliable as a growth indicator — particularly with Microsoft refusing to reveal the number of actual activated Vista licenses. 'HP reported year-over-year PC sales growth of about 24 percent, or about twice worldwide PC sales growth. Whatever HP is doing right, it's more than just Vista ... If Microsoft wasn't so hung up on XP comparisons as the benchmark, it could really demonstrate that Vista sales are increasing. The first 20 million figure really represented four months of sales, and that could have been positive data because Microsoft protected its customers' holiday investments. For free! Instead of making that point, Microsoft got carried away with making comparisons back to XP.'"

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