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Idle

Directed Energy Weapon Downs Mosquitos 428

wisebabo writes "Nathan Myhrvol demonstrated at TED a laser, built from parts scrounged from eBay, capable of shooting down not one but 50 to 100 mosquitos a second. The system is 'so precise that it can specify the species, and even the gender, of the mosquito being targeted.' Currently, for the sake of efficiency, it leaves the males alone because only females are bloodsuckers. Best of all the system could cost as little as $50. Maybe that's too expensive for use in preventing malaria in Africa but I'd buy one in a second!" We ran a story about this last year. It looks like the company has added a bit more polish, and burning mosquito footage to their marketing.
Sci-Fi

Stargate Props Going Up For Auction 131

will_die writes "After all the recent auctions for Propworx's Battlestar Galactica props, they are now selling off 15 years of Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis props. Over the next couple of months minor items will be sold on eBay, and the major items will be sold in two live auctions. eBay auctions will consist of smaller props, most costumes, drawings and even parts of Stargates. The live auctions will contain items such as the Thor puppet, The Ark of Truth, and the only fully working Stargate. (Multiple Stargates needed for travel)." My wife will be bidding on Daniel Jackson. I wouldn't mind a Zat gun, but at $3K–$4K, it's a bit rich for my blood... although if the neighbor's dog keeps getting out of his electric fence I might have no choice...

Why You Should Use OpenGL and Not DirectX 515

stickyboot writes "The independent games developer Wolfire describes why they decided to use OpenGL instead of DirectX. The article mainly discusses the marketing strategies behind DirectX and how the API became so popular. It also goes over why a developer would choose OpenGL over DirectX and what this decision means for the gamer. 'Back in 1997, the situation was similar to how it is now. Microsoft was running a massive marketing campaign for Direct3D, and soon everyone "just knew" that it was faster and better than OpenGL. This started to change when Chris Hecker published his open letter denouncing DirectX. Soon after that, John Carmack posted his famous OpenGL rant, and put his money where his mouth was by implementing all of Id Software's games in OpenGL, proving once and for all that DirectX was unnecessary for high-end 3D gaming. This lesson appears to have been forgotten over the last few years. Most game developers have fallen under the spell of DirectX marketing, or into the whirlpool of vicious cycles and network advantages.'"
Businesses

IT Workers To Get Fewer Perks, No Free Coffee 620

dasButcher writes "While the economy is showing signs of recovery and tech stocks posted double- and triple-digit gains in 2009, IT workers are facing a less hospitable workplace in the coming year. Many employers say they're going to continue trimming budgets, particularly in human resources. Rather than giving up head count, they're planning to trim 401k contributions, eliminate bonuses, curtail travel and, dare we say, shut off the free coffee (it wasn't that good anyway)."
NASA

Kepler Finds Five More Exoplanets 102

Arvisp was one of several readers to send news of five new exoplanets discovered by the Kepler space telescope. In addition to the new "hot Jupiters" — the easiest targets to find — Kepler's early data has turned up some oddities, including something that is too hot to be a planet and too small to be a star. And one of the exoplanets is so fluffy that "it has the density of Styrofoam." The real news is that Kepler works as designed, and the scientists running it are fully confident that it will find Earth-like planets in some star's habitable zone, if they are out there to be found. Here is NASA's press release.
Mars

NASA Mars Rover Spirit May Move Forward By Spinning Its Wheels 175

coondoggie writes "As NASA celebrates its Mars rover Spirit's sixth anniversary exploring the red planet, it is hunting for a way to keep the machine, which is mired in a sand trap, alive to see a seventh year. On its Web site, the space agency this week noted there may indeed be such an option. That option would be spinning the wheels on the north side of Spirit, letting it dig in deeper in the Martian sand but at the same time improving the tilt of the rover's solar panels toward the Sun."
Biotech

Is Neurostim Becoming a Reality? 249

destinyland writes "There is a current mass market for 'cognitive enhancement' products — and arguments about the black market potential for neurostim. 'The same neurostim device that uses electric impulses from a brain implant to treat people with Parkinson's Disease can be tweaked by a few millimeters and pulse rates to make cocaine addicts feel like they are high all the time... Mix the glamour of surgical self-improvement with the geekiness of high-tech gadget fetishism and you have a niche cosmetic neurostim market waiting to be tapped...'"
Sci-Fi

Alien Screenwriter Dan O'Bannon, Dead At 63 139

Dave Knott writes "The notable science fiction screenwriter and director Dan O'Bannon has died at the age of 63. O'Bannon's career began with a writing credit for John Carpenter's Dark Star and he went on the write many enduring science fiction and horror films such as Blue Thunder, Lifeforce, Screamers and Total Recall. He was also an occasional director, whose credits include The Return Of The Living Dead, the campy horror film that made popular the zombie chant of 'braaiiiinnnsss.' However, he will be best remembered as the writer of Alien, one of the all-time classics of both the science fiction and horror genres. O'Bannon died after a 30 year battle with Crohn's disease and is survived by his wife, Diane, and son, Adam."
Input Devices

Christmas Light Hero 4

klwood911 writes "What do you get when you combine a former Disney imagineer, Guitar Hero, a house and 21,268 Christmas Lights? Probably one of the coolest light displays you will see. Ric Turner turned his house into an interactive Guitar Hero Display. As he explains: 'Christmas Light Hero is using 7 light controllers from Light-O-Rama built from kits to control 21,268 lights and LEDs. Each controller has 16 outputs and 2-3 TTL level control inputs that are used by the game system to fire different programmed light sequences depending on what happens in the game. It relies on the fact that the game sequence is very consistent. If the game and the lighting sequences start together, they will stay in very good sync through the length of the song. The light program allows branching and overlays for fail, star power and "ready." I have some ideas to automate the initial show/game sync, but for now you have to push doorbell buttons at the right moments.'"
Science

LHC Has First Collisions After Years of Waiting 324

An anonymous reader writes "Only four days after the first attempt to send a particle beam around the LHC, we have arrived at the point when all four experiments got their first real collisions from the machine. This was met by celebrations and champagne, as people have been waiting years and years for this moment. It is a testament to the engineering of the machine that collisions were reached already, so few days after restarting. The LHC had already demonstrated ca 10h stable beams, and now also stable beams in both directions at the same time. In the coming weeks, we need only wait for increased intensity and the first attempts at acceleration."

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