Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
It's funny.  Laugh.

Nuclear Scanning Catches a Radioactive Cat On I-5 594

Jeff recommends Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat's story from a community meeting with Northwest border control agents. Seems their monitoring for dirty bombs from the median of Interstate 5 caught a car transporting a radioactive cat. "It turns out the feds have been monitoring Interstate 5 for nuclear 'dirty bombs.' They do it with radiation detectors so sensitive it led to the following incident. 'Vehicle goes by at 70 miles per hour... Agent is in the median, a good 80 feet away from the traffic. Signal went off and identified an isotope [in the passing car]. The agent raced after the car, pulling it over not far from the monitoring spot.' Did he find a nuke? 'Turned out to be a cat with cancer that had undergone a radiological treatment three days earlier.'"
Technology

Silent Microchip 'Fan' Has No Moving Parts 136

Stony Stevenson writes "Researchers in the US have developed a microchip fan with no moving parts that operates silently and generates enough wind to cool a laptop computer. The solid-state fan, developed with support from the US National Science Foundation (NSF), is touted as the most powerful and energy efficient fan of its size. The device produces three times the flow rate of a typical small mechanical fan and is one-fourth the size. The technology has the power to cool a 25W chip with a device smaller than one cubic-cm and can someday be integrated into silicon to make self-cooling chips, according to the researchers."
The Internet

Paying People to Argue With You 397

Bennett Haselton has written in with an essay on a strange experiment on-line. He starts When you first hear about Amazon.com's "Mechanical Turk" service, which allows "requesters" to pay "Turk workers" a few pennies to complete some task which is hard to automate but easy for humans, what's the first application that comes to your mind? The system has been discussed previously on Slashdot, but I'll bet a week's wages for a Mechanical Turk worker ($1.45, according to one of them) that I was the first person who used it to pay people to write rebuttals to one of my arguments. Keep reading unless you want to fight about it.
Censorship

FBI Accused of Abusing Criminal Database 433

Peace protesters were unable to leave the country to speak in Canada because their names had been added to a database of criminals. There's a serious due-process violation here because a listing in this database is equivalent to an "infamous" conviction. "'The FBI's placing of peace activists on an international criminal database is blatant political intimidation of US citizens opposed to Bush administration policies,' says Colonel Wright, who was also Deputy US Ambassador in four countries. 'The Canadian government should certainly not accept this FBI database as the criteria for entering the country... The list is supposed to be for felony and serious misdemeanor offenses. We don't qualify — it's for sex offenders, foreign fugitives, gang violence and terrorist organizations, people who are on parole...'"
Biotech

Super-Light Plastic As Strong as Steel 226

Roland Piquepaille writes "A new composite plastic built layer by layer has been created by engineers at the University of Michigan. This plastic is as strong as steel. It has been built the same way as mother-of-pearl, and shows similar strength. Interestingly, this 300-layer plastic has been built with 'strong' nanosheets of clay and a 'fragile' polymer called polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), commonly used in paints and glue, which acts as 'Velcro' to envelop the nanoparticles. This new plastic could soon be used to design light but strong armors for soldiers or police officers. The researchers also think this material could be used in biomedical sensors and unmanned aircraft."
Biotech

Justice Department's Bio-terror Mistake 477

destinyland writes "University professor and artist Steve Kurtz publicizes the history of chemical weapons with performance art pieces. The day his wife died of a heart attack, 911 responders mistook his scientific equipment for bioterrorism supplies. After he was detained for 22 hours, Homeland Security cordoned off his block, and a search was performed on his house in hazmat suits, they found nothing. Now they're prosecuting him for "mail fraud" for the way he obtained $256 of harmless bacteria."
Science

Halo Science - Ringworlds and Plasma Weapons 111

The book Halo Effect is an intriguing title that takes a look Bungie's best-selling Halo titles from a number of different angles. Each chapter includes coverage of specific elements; included are descriptions of pro events, a bit on the development process, and the making of the Red vs. Blue series. One of the most interesting chapters takes a look at the science behind the Halo world, talking about the physics and logic behind ringworlds and the hi-tech weaponry seen in the game. Thanks in part to a mini-review of the book on the GameSetWatch site, Gamasutra has been allowed to reprint the entire 'science of Halo' chapter on their website. "A 5,000 kilometer radius would yield a circumference of roughly 31,400 kilometers. If we assume a width-to-radius ratio similar to that of Niven's Ringworld, they would be approximately 5.37 kilometers wide. They are significantly wider, though, at 320 kilometers. The Halos, then, would have a surface area of 10 million square kilometers - slightly larger than the surface area of Canada, and approximately 2 percent of the surface area of Earth. Of course, since we know that there are lakes, seas, and rivers on the Halos, the livable surface area would be fractionally less." Update: 05/02 18:30 GMT by Z : The initial version of the article posted was from pre-production and contained some errors. They've been fixed in the article and now here in the post as well.
Censorship

Submission + - Turkey Censors YouTube

FM Reader writes: "After a controversial mock-up video reportedly submitted by a Greek member about Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, Turkish courts ordered the national ISPs to ban the online video service, YouTube. YouTube hostnames are currently redirected at the DNS level to a page that announces the court order."
Security

Submission + - WGA rats on aborters

An anonymous reader writes: The new version of Microsofts Windows Genuine Advantage Notification phones home — even if the user chooses not to install it and presses "cancel". heise Security documented the oputbound communication with a packet dump. Microsoft says, they are only doing this "to improve the quality of the WGA for users."
AMD

AMD's "Frantic Price Cuts" May Pressure Intel 135

kog777 writes in with news of a Needham analyst report alerting their clients to a possible price war between AMD and Intel. Analyst Y. Edwin Mok notes that AMD has cut its prices three times in three weeks. He says that Dell has been playing off the two chipmakers against one another to drive costs down. He suggests that bargain-hunting clients avoid both AMD and Intel stock for now. As an aside, Mok notes that so far Vista is not causing a spike in demand for chips. This story hasn't been picked up very widely; other coverage is at Seeking Alpha.
Communications

Submission + - Realtime visualization streaming global blog data

mooksha writes: "A couple of bright Swedes have concocted this amazing screensaver as their Master Thesis project. It is utterly pointless but actually very cool. The treats of a typical screensaver. :)

Blog data is collected from all over the world and streamed in realtime via Amazon S3 to all instances. Data is visualised with OpenGL, and the location of each blog post indicated on the earth using the lat/long of the server. Not very representative, since most large blog tools are hosted in the US. Language detection would have been more appropriate.

See YouTube video of the visualization and it's possible to download the screensaver on www.twingly.se."
Google

Why "Yahoo" Is The #1 Search Term On Google 347

An anonymous reader writes "Google Trends indicates that over the course of the past year the search term "Yahoo" became more popular than "sex", making it the #1 query on Google. Yahoo apparently faces a similar dilemma with roles reversed: When you search for "Google" on Yahoo, Yahoo thoughtfully displays a second search box as if to tell you, "Hey cutie, you have a search engine right in front of you!" A puzzling phenomenon? An strange aberration?"

Lego Christmas Production Shortage 168

shadowspar writes, "Recent restructuring and production cuts have left Lego unable to fill orders for the upcoming holiday season. Affected products include Duplo bricks, Lego City sets, and (horror of horrors!) Star Wars and Lego Technik sets." According to the article Lego stands to lose $127 million in holiday sales.

Slashdot Top Deals

I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them. -- Isaac Asimov

Working...