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Submission + - Amazing New Invention: A Nail Polish That Detects Date Rape Drugs (geek.com)

stephendavion writes: Checking to see if your drink has been tampered with is about to get a whole lot more discreet. Thanks to the work of four North Carolina State University undergrads, you’ll soon be able to find out without reaching for a testing tool. That’s because you’ll already have five of them on each hand. The team — Ankesh Madan, Stephen Gray, Tasso Von Windheim, and Tyler Confrey-Maloney — has come up with a creative and unobtrusive way to package chemicals that react when exposed to Rohypnol and GHB. They put it in nail polish that they’re calling Undercover Colors.

Submission + - What I learned from debating science with trolls (theconversation.com)

An anonymous reader writes: I often like to discuss science online and I’m also rather partial to topics that promote lively discussion, such as climate change. This inevitably brings out the trolls.

“Don’t feed the trolls” is sound advice, but I’ve ignored it on occasion and been rewarded. Not that I’ve changed the minds of any trolls, nor have I expected to.

But I have received an education in the tactics many trolls use. These tactics are common not just to trolls but to bloggers, journalists and politicians who attack science.

Some techniques are comically simple. Emotionally charged, yet evidence-free, accusations of scams, fraud and cover-ups are common. Such accusations may be effective at polarising debate and reducing understanding.

The full article is available at The Conversation.

Feed Google News Sci Tech: SpaceX test mishap prompts delay of Falcon 9 launch - Spaceflight Now (google.com)


Spaceflight Now

SpaceX test mishap prompts delay of Falcon 9 launch
Spaceflight Now
SpaceX says it has delayed liftoff of the next Falcon 9 rocket until Wednesday to ensure the problem that caused a prototype rocket to self-destruct in a test flight Friday will not pose a risk to the launch of a telecommunications satellite for AsiaSat.
SpaceX Has Opportunity in Rocket Test That Ended in DetonationNBCNews.com
Video: SpaceX test-launch explosion in TexasNews 13 Orlando
SpaceX To Delay Launch After ExplosionBrevard Times
Gant Daily-Tech Times-Register
all 345 news articles

Technology

Submission + - Energy efficiency gains failing to keep pace with Internet's growth (mongabay.com)

terrancem writes: Energy efficiency gains are failing to keep pace with the Internet's rapid rate of expansion, says a new paper published in the journal Science. Noting that the world's data centers already consume 270 terawatt hours and Internet traffic volume is doubling every three years, Diego Reforgiato Recupero of the University of Catania argues for prioritizing energy efficiency in the design of devices, networks, data centers, and software development. Recupero highlights two approaches for improving efficiency: smart standby and dynamic frequency scaling or CPU throttling.
Mars

Submission + - 4-Billion-Pixel Panorama From Curiosity Rover Brings Mars to Your Computer Scree (wired.com)

SternisheFan writes: "Sweep your gaze around Gale Crater on Mars, where NASA’s Curiosity rover is currently exploring, with this 4-billion-pixel panorama stitched together from 295 images.

After several technical glitches shut down operations for a while, Curiosity resumed its science investigations earlier this week. Before the shutdown, the rover had been hard at work drilling into the Martian surface and discovering excellent evidence that the planet was once a place that could have hosted life. Though the probe is back up and running, it will be ceasing operations for a while beginning in April, when Earth and Mars are on opposite sides of the sun, which can mess with communications.

In the meantime, we can enjoy this mosaic created by photographer Andrew Bodrov of Estonia, whose previous panorama let you stand on Mars next to Curiosity. The entire image stretches 90,000 by 45,000 pixels and uses pictures taken by the rover’s two MastCams. The best way to enjoy it is to go into fullscreen mode and slowly soak up the scenery — from the distant high edges of the crater to the enormous and looming Mount Sharp, the rover’s eventual destination."

Security

Submission + - Building the Ultimate Safe House

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Candace Jackson writes that an increasing number of home builders and buyers are looking for a new kind of security: homes equipped to handle everything from hurricanes, tornados and hybrid superstorms like this week's Sandy, to man-made threats ranging from home invasion to nuclear war and fueling the rise of these often-fortresslike homes are new technologies and building materials—which builders say will ultimately be used on a more widespread basis in storm- and earthquake-threatened areas. For example, Alys Beach, a 158-acre luxury seaside community on Florida's Gulf Coast, have earned the designation of Fortified...for safer living® homes and are designed to withstand strong winds. The roofs have two coats of limestone and exterior walls have 8 inches of concrete, reinforced every 32 inches for "bunkerlike" safety, according to marketing materials. Other builders are producing highly hurricane-proof residences that are circular in shape with "radial engineering" wherein roof and floor trusses link back to the home's center like spokes on a wheel, helping to dissipate gale forces around the structure with Deltec, a North Carolina–based builder, saying it has never lost a circular home to hurricanes in over 40 years of construction. But Doug Buck says some "extreme" building techniques don't make financial sense. "You get to a point of diminishing returns," says Buck. "You're going to spend so much that honestly, it would make more sense to let it blow down and rebuild it.""
Idle

Submission + - Cringely's (slightly crazy) 2012 tech predictions (infoworld.com) 1

GMGruman writes: "There's no one quite like the pseudonymous Robert X. Cringely, who today makes his crack(ed) technology predictions for 2012. Among Cringe's serious divings: RIM gets bought, the U.S. presidential election gets attacked by hactivists, and one of Google's co-founders will leave. On the lighter side, he predicts Zynga will launch the Occupyville game, Jeff Bezos will take the role of Dr. Evil's twin brother in "Austin Powers 4," and life as we know it will be irrevocably altered, for a week anyhow, when the fabled Apple HDTV debuts."
Power

Submission + - Optical Furnace Bakes Better Solar Cells (nrel.gov)

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory just announced that they have found a way to create more efficient photovoltaic cells using 50% less energy. The technique hinges upon a new optical furnace that uses intense light instead of a conventional furnace to heat silicon to make solar cells. The new furnace utilizes “highly reflective and heat-resistant ceramics to ensure that the light is absorbed only by a silicon wafer, not by the walls inside the furnace.”

Submission + - GCHQ Challenge solution explained (blogspot.com)

DrDevil writes: ""The British spy agency GCHQ recently published a puzzle on www.canyoucrackit.co.uk (as featured on slashdot), now just a few days later an academic at the University of Greenwich in England has posted a full video explanation of the puzzle. The puzzle has three stages and is not at all simple — likely to challenge even the best computer science graduates.

Solution and explanation at http://gchqchallenge.blogspot.com/""

Submission + - Computer glitch leads to Korean Air canceling hund (thepointsguy.com)

An anonymous reader writes: In September, a Korean Air misfiled fare allowed an industry discounted ticket to be sold to the general public through large online travel agents like Expedia. Only two months later when they realized the mistake, they unilaterally canceled all the tickets, ruining the vacations of 300 or so people. Customers are unhappy to say the least and Korean Air appears callous and clueless in the way that they've been handling the situation so far.
Bitcoin

Submission + - Bitcoin Integrates with Conventional Finance? (ietf.org)

An anonymous reader writes: Bitcoin and other alternative, internet-based settlement networks may integrate with conventional financial systems under a new Internet Draft based upon the European IBAN standard.
Book Reviews

Submission + - Unity 3 Game Development Hotshot (packtpub.com)

bartosz.broda writes: "Unity 3D is a cross-platform game development environment that simplifies writing games. It supports rendering, lighting, terrains, physics, audio, networking and many more. The built-in editor is easy to work with and the scripting is done in UnityScript (a variant of JavaScript), C# or Boo. The cross-platform aspect of Unity is amazing: you can publish to the Web, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and consoles (Wii, Playstation 3 and XBox 360). Capabilities of Unity are not quite as advanced as those of Unreal Engine 3 or CryEngine yet, but they are impressive nonetheless. The environment is very indie-friendly, so it should not be surprising that Unity is becoming very popular. A few books were already written on Unity. Unity 3 Game Development Hotshot is one of the latest position published on the subject.

I treat game development as a hobby without having much experience in the area. I looked at quite a few game engines available and finally settled on Unity as it seems to be easy to develop in and has a large community. Unfortunately, it does not support Linux, but there are some interesting rumours on the subject. I have played around with Unity for a while, followed some on-line tutorials. Finally, I decided that I need an up-to-date book. Not surprisingly I have chosen Unity 3 Game Development Hotshots as it is targeted at beginners.

Instead of classical chapters the book is divided into 8 projects. First project is a kind of warming up: a sprite-based 2D platform game. This is very good introduction to basic features of Unity. I didn't realize that it take so little effort to code a simple game — with the help of the book I made a sprite-based character running (and jumping) through a simple level in no time. The second project revolves around creating a GUI in Unity. The project was not as interesting as the first one, but the results are quite nice: a GUI and a simple inventory system for cRPG.

With third project things get even more interesting. You can learn how to export your models from 3D Studio and import them into Unity. Too bad there is no example with other 3D packages like Blender. From my experience loading (simple) models from Blender is even easier then from 3DS — it is only a matter of dragging and dropping a file. A quick overview of shader programming is also present in the third project. This was the first time that I was exposed to Cg language, but I did not have problems with catching up.

Projects five to eight are concerned with developing a simple third person shooter game. Starting with construction of rocket launcher the author moves to simple AI based for bots, destructible environments and uploading high-scores to the web servers. I found the last project not very inspiring.

There are four appendices in the book that cover: important functions in unity, coroutines and yields, differences between C# coding and Unity JavaScript and some basic information on shader programming. I found the appendix on the difference between C# and JavaScript especially useful as I have some experience in C#, but knew only a basics of JavaScript.

If you are interested, then you can find a more-in-depth overview of the book content on the publisher site. I had bought the eBook thus I cannot comment on the quality of printed version. The format of the eBook is pdf, the graphical layout is well organised. Unfortunately, there is a lot of graphics and the pdf is only partially readable on e-ink reader that I have. I have contacted Packt and they assured me that ePub version will be available in the future.

The content of the book is easy to follow. The author gently introduced all the basic concepts. For example, the difference between orthographic and perspective view is shown on an image and described in the text. More complex topics are explained in the same manner.

The book follows a simple formula for all the projects and subprojects that certain readers might find attractive. First, the general objective is outlined. Then the solution is presented. Detailed discussion is given at the end. For me the discussions were most valuable parts of the book.

Unity is a huge development environment. The author does not try to hide it. In many places throughout the book there are references to on-line resources that explain certain topics in depth.

The book is not perfect. There are a few things that annoyed me while reading. First, there is almost no introduction to UI of Unity Editor. Also, the book is not for people with no programming experience as it jumps right to the code. I had a little problems following along with first projects — up to the point of reading an appendix which explained the differences between JavaScript and C#. There is also a lot of coping of code from the book and blindly adjusting properties in the editor. It was not a huge deal as changing of the various settings were necessary, but I found it a little bit irritating. Fortunately, final version of all scripts can be downloaded from Packt website.

There are also a few problems with the code. First, the code is not highlighted in the book, thus the readability is low (especially when the lines are wrapped). I used to copy the code to MonoDevelop and read it there. The code is clear, commented and self-explanatory most of the time, but there are too many magic numbers present. Worse — most of the magic numbers are not explained. Another small thing that should be fixed is that in the provided code the indentation uses a mixing of tabs and spaces.

Overall I am satisfied with the book content. It gives a quick overview of most important capabilities of Unity 3D with many pointers to on-line resources for more advanced or in-depth topics. I can recommend the book for all beginners to Unity that have some programming background."

Submission + - Student suspended for posting on YouTube (theglobeandmail.com) 2

An anonymous reader writes: A Canadian student has been suspended from school and had the police called on him due to satirical animations that he posted to YouTube.

Jack Christie, a 12th-grade student at the Donald A. Wilson Secondary School in Whitby, Ontario, Canada, created the videos in his own time, off-campus.

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