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Technology

New Optomechanical Crystal Allows Confinement of Light and Sound 91

PBH writes "Physicists and engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed a nanoscale crystal that traps both light and sound. The interaction of light quanta (photons) and sound quanta (phomons) are so strong that they produce significant mechanical vibrations. 'Indeed, Painter points out, the interactions between sound and light in this device—dubbed an optomechanical crystal—can result in mechanical vibrations with frequencies as high as tens of gigahertz, or 10 billion cycles per second. Being able to achieve such frequencies, he explains, gives these devices the ability to send large amounts of information, and opens up a wide array of potential applications—everything from lightwave communication systems to biosensors capable of detecting (or weighing) a single macromolecule. It could also, Painter says, be used as a research tool by scientists studying nanomechanics. "These structures would give a mass sensitivity that would rival conventional nanoelectromechanical systems because light in these structures is more sensitive to motion than a conventional electrical system is."'"
Displays

Companies To Invade Your Retinas As Soon As Next Year? 245

Engadget is one of many reporting that Brother and NEC both seem to have retina display technology in the works for release next year. Brother, at least, seems to have a fully functional prototype, while so far NEC is mostly talk. "Naturally, there are a few considerable limitations compared to more traditional displays, but the company's as yet unnamed goggles do promise to beam an 800 x 600 image directly into your retina that'll appear as a 10-centimeter wide image floating about one meter in front of them -- which is certainly no small feat, even if it may not be the most practical one. Slightly less specific, but also working on a retina display of its own is NEC, which apparently hopes to incorporate a microphone into their display and use it as a real-time translation device that would quite literally display subtitles as you talk to someone."
Idle

"2012" a Miscalculation; Actual Calendar Ends 2220 600

boombaard writes "News is spreading quickly here that scientists writing in a popular science periodical (Dutch) have debunked the 2012 date (google translation linked) featuring so prominently in doomsday predictions/speculation across the web. On 2012-12-21, the sun will appear where you would normally be able to see the 'galactic equator' of the Milky Way; an occurrence deemed special because it happens 'only' once every 25.800 years, on the winter solstice. However, even if you ignore the fact that there is no actual galactic equator, just an observed one, and that the visual effect is pretty much the same for an entire decade surrounding that date, there are major problems with the way the Maya Calendar is being read by doomsday prophets." I wonder what Amazon's return policy on a box full of 3 doomsday wolves shirts is?
Microsoft

Microsoft Freeloading In Washington State Courts 395

reifman writes "For tax purposes, Microsoft reports that it's earned its estimated $143 billion in software licensing revenue in Nevada, where there is no licensing tax, as we discussed a few weeks ago. However, for legal purposes, Microsoft relies on Washington law and its underfunded courts to defend its contracts as it did in Microsoft Licensing GP vs. TSR Silicon. Application of common legal doctrines such as nexus, the step doctrine, and alter ego theory may lead to findings that Microsoft owes the state more than $1 billion in taxes, interest, and penalties."
Earth

Save the Planet, Eat Your Dog 942

R3d M3rcury writes "New Zealand's Dominion Post reports on a new book just released, Time to Eat the Dog: The real guide to sustainable living. In this book, they compare the environmental footprint of our housepets to other things that we own. Like that German Shepherd? It consumes more resources than two Toyota SUVs. Cats are a little less than a Volkswagen Golf. Two hamsters are about the same as a plasma TV. Their suggestions? Chickens, rabbits, and pigs. But only if you eat them."
Medicine

Surgeon Performs World's First 4X HD Surgery 101

docinthemachine writes with word of some "research just presented at the 65th ASRM on 4K surgery. Using bleeding-edge Hollywood 4K cameras coupled to laparoscopes, surgery was performed in 4K, or 4X the resolution of HD. Since laparoscopy is performed while viewing on a video monitor, this is a huge advancement of resolution and clarity for the surgeon. It only took a million dollars of projectors to show it to the audience."
Microsoft

When Software Leaks (and What Really Goes Down) 179

Bryant writes "The Windows community is somewhat notorious for leaks from upcoming versions of Windows (obligatory link to this guy since that's most of what he does), and while the official PR word from Microsoft and many other companies with regards to leaks is a simple 'no comment,' no one has really gotten a candid, inside look at the various things that go down when word, screenshots, or builds of upcoming software leak. I managed to get some time with a senior Microsoft employee for the sake of discussing leaks, and the conclusions reached (leaks heavily affect communication, not so much the product schedule) as well as what these guys actually have to deal with whenever someone leaks a build, breaks an embargo, etc. may actually be a surprise given what most companies try to instill in the public mind."
Businesses

Game Retailers Facing Digital Distribution Transition 155

This editorial at Eurogamer examines how the games industry is dealing with the growth of digital distribution — a transition they're handling better than other entertainment industries, but not without a few stumbling blocks of their own. "The examples from other industries undergoing this transition are not promising, since they tend largely to focus on metaphors involving creeks and a distinct lack of paddles. Bricks-and-mortar retailers of music and movies have largely sat back and grumbled while their businesses were hijacked, first by online retailers of physical product and then by digital distribution services. ... Specialist games retailers who follow that model face little more than a decline into insolvency in their medium-term futures. Worse again, they face competing with far bigger companies to retain their slice of an already shrinking pie — as boxed game retail sales fall off in favor of digital distribution, supermarket chains are increasingly seeing high profile games as a worthwhile loss-leaders."
Robotics

Elder-Assist Robotic Suits, From the Real Cyberdyne 121

Tasha26 writes "No, not the one which will end up building terminator robots. BBC's Click brings news of a Japanese company, Cyberdyne, which is in the process of building different robotic suits to assist the elderly in accomplishing simple body tasks such as walking and lifting. Even though still in R&D, this video (@3m15s) shows a pretty promising future for the elderly."
It's funny.  Laugh.

What If They Turned Off the Internet? 511

theodp writes "It's the not-too-distant future. They've turned off the Internet. After the riots have settled down and the withdrawal symptoms have faded, how would you cope? Cracked.com asked readers to Photoshop what life would be like in an Internet-addicted society learning to cope without it. Better hope it never happens, or be prepared for dry-erase message boards, carrier pigeon-powered Twitter, block-long lines to get into adult video shops, door-to-door Rickrolling, Lolcats on Broadway, and $199.99 CDs."
Government

Mandatory H1N1 Vaccine For NY Health Workers Suspended 292

lunatick writes "The controversial mandatory swine flu vaccine for health care workers in NY has been suspended. While the reason for the suspension was stated as a shortage of the vaccine, a connection was found showing state Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. and/or his wife may directly profit from the sale of the vaccine. Within hours of that connection being questioned on a radio show and the podcast being distributed, the announcement was made suspending the order. The health care community of NYS is petitioning the State Attorney general to investigate the connection."
Moon

Caves of the Moon 172

jeno passes along this excerpt from New Scientist: "A deep hole on the moon that could open into a vast underground tunnel has been found for the first time. The discovery strengthens evidence for subsurface, lava-carved channels that could shield future human colonists from space radiation and other hazards. ... The hole measures 65 meters across, and based on images taken at a variety of sun angles, the hole is thought to extend down at least 80 meters. It sits in the middle of a rille, suggesting the hole leads into a lava tube as wide as 370 meters across."
The Courts

Music Rights Holders Sue YouTube Again 145

bennyboy64 writes "NewTeeVee reports on a criminal investigation that has been launched against senior executives of YouTube and parent company Google in Hamburg, Germany over allegations of copyright infringement. The case started after a complaint was filed by German music rights holders. Hamburg's prosecutor has formally requested assistance from US colleagues to compel YouTube to produce log files identifying who uploaded as well as who viewed 500 specific videos."
Games

App Store Developer Speaks Out On Game Piracy 762

theguythatwrotethisthing sends in a write-up of his experience releasing an iPhone game on the App Store. By using a software flag to distinguish between high scores submitted by pirates and those submitted by users who purchased the game, the piracy rate is estimated at around 80% during the first week after release. Since a common excuse for piracy is "try before you buy," they also looked at the related iPhone DeviceIDs to see how many of the pirates went on to purchase the game. None of them did.
Music

MySpace Trying To Regain Lost Ground With Games and Music 76

Over the past several years, MySpace has lost a significant amount of the social networking market to competitors like Facebook. Now, MySpace is trying to recapture lost interest by increasing the site's focus on games and music, as well as keeping an eye out for new technologies that would directly benefit their users. "[News Corp.'s Jonathan Miller] said he is 'obsessed' with real-time technology, such as the one Twitter has exploited in its social networking and microblogging service, and he wants to see MySpace incorporate it. He also said MySpace is lagging by having a platform that has been 'too closed' to external developers, something that he wants to see changed, especially for the sake of MySpace's gaming offerings. In addition, he wants to see MySpace push ahead in mobile."

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