Masturbation is self-defloration.
Matthew Sparkes writes "NASA will likely shut down its Institute for Advanced Concepts, which funds research into futuristic ideas in spaceflight and aeronautics. The move highlights the budget problems the agency is facing as it struggles to retire the space shuttles and develop a replacement. The institute receives $4 million per year from NASA, whose annual budget is $17 billion. Most of that is used to fund research into innovative technologies; recent grants include the conceptual development of spacecraft that could surf the solar system on magnetic fields, motion-sensitive spacesuits that could generate power and tiny, spherical robots that could explore Mars."
An anonymous reader sends in a story from Central Connecticut State University, claiming that a Prius takes more energy to manufacture than a Hummer — 50% more. In addition, the article claims that the Prius costs $3.25 per mile over its expected lifespan of 100,000 miles compared to $1.95 per mile for the Hummer. The article gets its data from a study by CNW Marketing called Dust to Dust, which is an attempt to account for all the costs of vehicles, from manufacture through operation through repair and disposal. The $3.25/mile cost quoted for the Prius is the 2005 number; for 2006 it is $2.87. This improvement pulled the Prius below the straight industry average — all the other hybrids are still above that average. And the Hummer is not listed at all for 2006. Update: 03/21 00:44 GMT by J : You might want to take those figures with a grain of salt; I don't think anyone's seen the supporting data. Read on for details.
Russell McOrmond writes "With Microsoft's Vista set to hit stores tomorrow, Michael Geist's weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) looks at the legal and technical fine print behind the operating system upgrade. The article notes that in the name of shielding consumers from computer viruses and protecting copyright owners from potential infringement, Vista seemingly wrestles control of the "user experience" from the user. If you are a Canadian and think that the owner of computers should be in control of what they own, rather than some third party (whether virus authors or the manufacturer/maker), then please sign our Petition to protect Information Technology property rights."
eldavojohn writes "It's being widely reported that Harrison Ford turned down a £20 million deal to play Han Solo once again in a George Lucas spin off of Star Wars. The source of this information seems to be a tabloid called bangshowbiz. Harrison was approached by Lucas with two roles but instead opted for the same amount to play Indiana Jones for the fourth time. Could the spin off centered on the rugged Han Solo save the Star Wars franchise from its prequels or would it have been another mediocre release disappointing demanding fans?"
Lauren Weinstein writes to point us to his essay on the realities of using an idle cell phone as a bug, as a recent story indicated the FBI may have done in a Mafia case. From the essay: "There is no magic in cell phones. From a transmitting standpoint, they are either on or off... It is also true that some phones can be remotely programmed by the carrier to mask or otherwise change their display and other behaviors in ways that could be used to fool the unwary user. However, this level of remote programmability is another feature that is not universal... But remember — no magic! When cell phones are transmitting — even as bugs — certain things are going to happen every time that the alert phone user can often notice."
holy_calamity writes "A swarm of robots has been demonstrated that can get together to transport an object too heavy for a single bot. Each robot is loaded with the same simple set of behaviors but more complex intelligence emerges from a group interacting. Two videos show the robots in action, and using a more complex behavior necessary when they're set to short sighted mode and can't see the target location from the starting point."
GillBates0 writes "CNN is carrying a story about a school in Boston which has have banned kids from playing tag, touch football and any other unsupervised chase game during recess for fear they'll get hurt and hold the school liable. According to the article, some elementary schools in other states have similarly banned "unsupervised contact sports". A parent was quoted as saying that her son feels safer now and that she'd witnessed enough 'near collisions.'" See, it's not just dangerous virtual games that are harmful to children!
stupid_is writes "The BBC are reporting that Judge Ronald Friedman has cleared Bully for publication in Florida. Jack Thompson is, predictably, critical of the decision, stating "You did not see the game, you don't even know what it was you saw." after Take-Two gave him the game, along with someone to play the game for him to watch before he made a decision." This is a follow-up to our story last week about Take-Two handing over copies of Bully per court order.
Jabrwock writes "GamePolitics.com reports that a judge in Miami ruled that Take Two Interactive, makers of the controversial title Bully, must hand over a copy of the soon to be released game to the court within 24 hours. Jack Thompson, the plaintiff, called the ruling a 'huge victory against the violent video game industry', although Take Two can still appeal the order. Thompson filed a lawsuit asking the court to label Bully a 'public nuisance' and restrict its October 17 release in Florida."
toxcspdrmn writes "Volunteers at Bletchley Park have recreated a working replica of the electromechanical bombe used to crack the Germans' Enigma encryption. The bombe was designed by Polish cryptologists and refined by Alan Turing and colleagues at Bletchley Park. The replica joins a recreated electronic Colossus — generally considered the first electronic computer. Impressive work when you consider that Winston Churchill ordered the originals to be completely destroyed at the end of WWII."