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China

Submission + - Aiming for 350kmh, China is Trying Out Its New Train (vice.com)

Daniel_Stuckey writes: "On a trial run in northeastern China, the new Harbin-Dalian high-speed train flew through mountainous provinces at peak speeds of 300km/h, or 186mph. It made the 921 km trip from Harbin to Dalian in only four hours, a distance that’s roughly equivalent to cruising from Washington, D.C. to Montreal. That is one fast train, and it’s going to get faster.

Once engineers pass it through a couple more safety checks and test runs, China Northern Railways’ modified CRH380A trains will be able to cruise the same track at a nostril-scorching 350km/h average — or 217mph. This cuts the same trip down by nearly an hour. Conditioned for incredible disparities in regional climate along the line, the weather-proofed train cars will be able to comfortably withstand temperatures from 104 degrees Fahrenheit down to 40 below.

While Chines bullet train accidents, like that one the Wenzhou line last year, are cause for shady coverups and speculation that the trains are going too fast, accidents in the People’s Republic are far off the pace of the record setting countries like India, which experiences disturbances almost weekly. Even the United States — with the largest rail network on the planet — experiences more than those reported within a 1.3 billion person country. (Of course, as the attempted Wenzhou coverup highlighted, there is a question of how many malfunctions don’t get reported.)"

Idle

Submission + - Like-a-Hug Jacket Hugs You For Every Facebook Like (geekyportal.com)

geekspy writes: A smart effort has been made by the students of MIT for inventing Like-A-Hug Jacket intended for the Facebook users who can sense every time someone “Likes” anything that they have recently posted via this jacket. The jacket mainly gives a sensation of a hug to the person wearing the jacket, letting him know about the likeness of people on Facebook around him.
Android

Submission + - Motorola's Whacked Lapdock Can Make Raspberry Pi Base (slashdot.org)

Nerval's Lobster writes: "Poor sales have driven Motorola Mobility to whack the Webtop, its attempt to make Android into an all-in-one operating system for both smartphones and traditional PCs.

Motorola confirmed the death to CNET before issuing a widely circulated statement. Webtop allowed users to plug their Motorola device into a special laptop dock, which could then display Web pages and files on a full screen. Supported devices included the Motorola Atrix 2, which launched with Android 2.3 (“Gingerbread”) and a dual-core 1GHz processor.

For those few who bought a Webtop and now need something to do with it, Liliputing posted an article earlier this year about using the device to transform Raspberry Pi into a laptop (with the aid of some key accessories). Raspberry Pi’s homebrew computer features a 700MHz processor capable of overclocking to 1GHz and 256MB of RAM, as well as an SD card for longer storage—specs that lag those of the latest smartphones, but Raspberry Pi has the virtue of being quite a bit cheaper at $35."

Submission + - Economic Decline Has Less Impact on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

An anonymous reader writes: The contribution of economic decline in reducing greenhouse gas emissions is very low, reveals a new study. Researcher Richard York of the University of Oregon studied data collected between 1960 and 2008 from more than 150 nations in order to analyze the impact of economic decline on greenhouse gas emissions.
Google

Submission + - Google and Apple spent more on Patents than R&D last year (nytimes.com)

parallel_prankster writes: NYTimes has an interesting article about how patents are really stiffling inovation in the tech industry. Today, almost every major technology company is involved in ongoing patent battles. Of course, the most significant player is Apple, industry executives say, because of its influence and the size of its claims: in August in California, the company won a $1 billion patent infringement judgment against Samsung. Former Apple employees say senior executives made a deliberate decision over the last decade, after Apple was a victim of patent attacks, to use patents as leverage against competitors to the iPhone, the company’s biggest source of profits. At a technology conference this year, Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, said patent battles had not slowed innovation at the company, but acknowledged that some aspects of the battles had “kind of gotten crazy.” It is a complaint heard throughout the industry. The increasing push to assert ownership of broad technologies has led to a destructive arms race, engineers say. Some point to so-called patent trolls, companies that exist solely to sue over patent violations. Others say big technology companies have also exploited the system’s weaknesses. “There are hundreds of ways to write the same computer program,” said James Bessen, a legal expert at Harvard. And so patent applications often try to encompass every potential aspect of a new technology. When such applications are approved, Mr. Bessen said, “the borders are fuzzy, so it’s really easy to accuse others of trespassing on your ideas.” The number of patent applications, computer-related and otherwise, filed each year at the United States patent office has increased by more than 50 percent over the last decade to more than 540,000 in 2011. Google has received 2,700 patents since 2000, according to the patent analysis firm M-CAM. Microsoft has received 21,000.

Comment Most Math isn't what you think it is (Score 1) 1086

I actually don't use a lot of geometry in my job, but I use the basic skills of logic and proofs that I learned in geometry. I don't often solve algebraic equations but I find myself tutoring my employees in the logic of intervals. Calculus was a drudge and I almost never integrate a function, but the concepts I learned about functions I use every day. I'm not sure you can use functional programming without exposure to calculus. Almost every math subject has an ulterior motive. Geometry is there to teach you logic. Pre-calculus is to teach you about functions. Calculus is the first math where you're introduced to infinity and infinitesimal entities. Without that math I'm not sure your mind has expanded enough to work for my company.

I don't expect programmers to solve differential equations in front of me, but I doubt their technical literacy if haven't done it at least once. You don't have the tools to manage complex projects without knowing about diff Q. Likewise, you can't be a computer scientist without discrete math -- you just wouldn't have the mental tools to address the subject. Sure, you could stumble along, but you would just be depending on someone else who did the math.

Education

Submission + - The Rise of Open Education (openeducation.us)

killectric writes: "The open education movement is picking up steam as David Wiley, who was recently named Senior Fellow at Digital Promise (http://www.digitalpromise.org/), has just launched his Winter 2012 Openness in Education class-- a MOOC or Massively Open Online Course in which anyone can participate. Badges are awarded for completion. The course begins with the topics Open Licensing and Open Source.

Other notable MOOCs include DS106 (http://ds106.us/) and Change11 (http://change.mooc.ca/). They are representative of the new educational possibilities that technology offers and the importance of Open Educational Resources (OER) to provide educational opportunities to people who might not otherwise be able afford or access education traditionally."

Microsoft

Submission + - Arfa Karim Randhawa Youngest Microsoft Certified P (ibtimes.com)

Empresz writes: Arfa Karim Randhawa, who at 9 years old became the world's youngest Microsoft Certified Professional, has died on Saturday at the age of 16. She suffered an epileptic seizure and cardiac arrest and was hospitalized for nearly a month before dying.
The Internet

Submission + - Murdoch squares off with Obama over online piracy (guardian.co.uk)

microphage writes: "The gathering storm over online piracy legislation being debated in the US Congress has sucked two more heavy hitters into the fray, with the Obama administration and Rupert Murdoch lining up on opposite sides of the argument.

'We will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet," said three of Obama's top technology advisers in a statement. The authors said manipulating the DNS by forcing service providers to block access to pirating sites could damage cybersecurity by driving users to much more unscrupulous servers`.

Comment You can't go c but you can go faster (Score 1) 315

I'm a mathematician, not a physicist. In special relativity the Lorentz transformation has a singularity at the speed of light. Its perfectly defined below and faster than the speed of light. Richard Feynman suggested that unless the math prohibits it, it will be found in nature. Of course, if we see a particle hitting another before it was emitted, we'd likely interpret it as the target "pulled" the particle from the emitter. This explains the alternate view of physics -- all matter emits dark, and light bulbs and stars suck the dark in. Mathematically it makes just as much sense as emitting massless photons. Who's going to buy the idea of a massless particle that goes the speed of light? Its crazy talk.

This is just a reminder that like economics, scientific method is really a confidence game. Its all a matter of whether you believe the rules stated so far are consistent.

Idle

Want a Body Piercing With That Server? 19

1sockchuck writes "The web hosting business is known for promotional gimmicks. But here's an unusual one: ServerBeach UK is offering a free body piercing with every new server ordered on April 1st. 'We were tired of the typical boring giveaways that have been done to death' said ServerBeach's Dominic Monkhouse. The stunt revives memories of earlier guerrilla marketing efforts by web hosts, like the 'human billboard' who was paid $7,000 to tattoo a hosting company's logo on the back of his head."
Firefox

Mozilla Plans Fix For Critical Firefox Vulnerability In Next Release 140

Trailrunner7 writes "A month after an advisory was published detailing a new vulnerability in Firefox, Mozilla said it has received exploit code for the flaw and is planning to patch the weakness on March 30 in the next release of Firefox. Mozilla officials said Thursday that the vulnerability, which was disclosed February 18 by Secunia, is a critical flaw that could result in remote code execution on a vulnerable machine. The vulnerability is in version 3.6 of Firefox."
Earth

Piezo Crystals Harness Sound To Generate Hydrogen 187

MikeChino writes "Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered that a mix of zinc oxide crystals, water, and noise pollution can efficiently produce hydrogen without the need for a dirty catalyst like oil. To generate the clean hydrogen, researchers produced a new type of zinc oxide crystals that absorb vibrations when placed in water. The vibrations cause the crystals to develop areas with strong positive and negative charges — a reaction that rips the surrounding water molecules and releases hydrogen and oxygen. The mechanism, dubbed the piezoelectrochemical effect, converts 18% of energy from vibrations into hydrogen gas (compared to 10% from conventional piezoelectric materials), and since any vibration can produce the effect, the system could one day be used to generate power from anything that produces noise — cars whizzing by on the highway, crashing waves in the ocean, or planes landing at an airport."

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