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Science

Lasers Approach Their Ultimate Intensity Limit 384

Flash Modin writes "Death Star style superlasers? Don't bet on it. High-power lasers currently in development appear to be nearing the theoretical laser intensity limit, according to new research set to be published in the journal Physical Review Letters. Ultra-high-energy laser fields can actually convert their light into matter as shown in the late '90s at the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC). This process creates an 'avalanche-like electromagnetic cascade' (also known as sparking the vacuum) capable of destroying a laser field. Physicists thought it might be a problem for lasers eventually, but this work indicates the technology is much closer to its limit than researchers believed. A preprint is available here."

Comment Celebrate. (Score 1) 437

Most people can't even give it away if they try and try they do. Giving it away is what CC is all about. If someone is stealing what you are doing that is very encouraging news and cause for celebration. You might consider producing as much of what people like to steal from you as you can while they still want to steal it from you. I wish I was in your shoes.
Space

Saturn's Moon Prometheus Spawning Moonlets 47

astroengine writes "For the first time ever, astronomers have witnessed the formation of celestial objects... in Saturn's rings. As the Saturnian moon Prometheus dashes through the gas giant's rings, it leaves large formations of ice behind, some as large as 12 kilometers in diameter. When the small moon makes another pass, it is not known whether these giant 'snowballs' remain or get destroyed, but according to Linda Spilker, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory: 'You can think of Saturn's rings as miniature versions of the disks where planets form. The same physical processes are occurring.'" The Planetary Society blog has further explanation, as well as pictures and a movie of Prometheus' interaction with Saturn's rings. The Cassini team has released some fantastic images of the fans and clumps in the F ring, as well as a simulation showing how the ring's particles are affected by the moon's passing.
Earth

NASA Creates First Global Forest Map Using Lasers 55

MikeCapone writes "Scientists, using three NASA satellites, have created a first-of-its-kind map that details the height of the world's forests. The data was collected from NASA's ICESat, Terra and Aqua satellites. The latter two satellites are responsible for most of NASA's Gulf spill imagery. The data collected will help scientists understand how the world's forests both store and process carbon. While there are many local and regional canopy maps, this is the very first global map using a uniform method for measure."

Comment Re:Why humanoid? (Score 1) 108

Two things. First, the humanoid is the result of millions of years of recent evolution. It's a solid design. Sure, you probably can come up with a better design, but why throw away what already works? That's wasteful. Second, we have millennia of human technology designed for the humanoid form. Why throw that away either? Same argument about waste applies.

Third, you don't want to waste the opportunity to make your robot look like frickin' Boba Fett. Same argument about waste applies yet again.

Comment Perhaps everyone is completely missing the point? (Score 1) 457

It seems to me that the intent of the licensing terms is to prevent companies from substituting a consumer model for a professional one that costs 10x to 100x as much. Consumer video quality is getting so good that camera companies need to legally require media producers to use the pro product because very soon there will be no other good reason why they should waste their money on it.
Patents

IBM Uses Call-Detail Records To Identify "Friends" 116

theodp writes "Big Blue may know what you did last summer. Or at least who you called. In a move out of the NSA's playbook, IBM Research has been scrutinizing the call-detail records of 'one of the largest mobile operators in the world' (PDF). By analyzing who calls whom, and for how long, IBM claims its patent-pending snooping software can now identify circles of 'friends' who tend to exhibit the same profit-threatening behavior. 'We believe that our analysis is a first of its kind that exploits the underlying social network in a telecom call graph,' boasted a team of IBM researchers and a UMD prof. For now, IBM seems to have focused on using the info to see if your friends are churners, so you can be dealt with pro-actively lest you follow their lead and bolt. However, IBM suggests its SNAzzy data mining technology (Social Network Analysis for Telecom Business Intelligence) has a bright future, noting it 'is also capable of analyzing any kind of social network or graph, not just telecom networks.'"

Comment Danger, Will Robinson?! (Score 1) 210

If this method for detecting life works well then you better believe any advanced alien civilization relatively close to us probably already knows exactly where we are. Perhaps we should hope that life is so common in the universe that they are working their way down a long boring list of warm wet rocks with weird crap growing on them and it will take them a long time to investigate us.

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