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Submission + - Massive Solar Updraft Towers Planned for Arizona (

MikeChino writes: Australia-based EnviroMission Ltd recently announced plans to build two solar updraft towers that span hundreds of acres in La Paz County, Arizona. Solar updraft technology sounds promising enough: generate hot air with a giant greenhouse, channel the air into a chimney-like device, and let the warm wind turn a wind turbine to produce energy. The scale of the devices would be staggering — each plant would consist of a 2,400 foot chimney over a greenhouse measuring four square miles. The Southern California Public Power Authority has approved EnviroMission as a provider, although there’s still plenty of work to be done before the $750 million, 200 megawatt project can begin.

Submission + - Next-Gen Glitter-Sized Photovoltaic Cells Unveiled (

MikeChino writes: Sandia National Laboratories recently announced a new breed of glitter-sized solar cells made from crystalline silicon that use 100 times less material to generate the same amount of electricity as standard solar cells made from 6-inch square solar wafers. Perfect for soaking up the sun’s rays on unusual shapes and surfaces, the tiny solar cells are expected to be less expensive, more efficient, and have promising new applications in textiles, clothing, and building facade installations.

Jetman Attempts Intercontinental Flight 140

Last year we ran the story of Yves Rossy and his DIY jetwings. Yves spent $190,000 and countless hours building a set of jet-powered wings which he used to cross the English Channel. Rossy's next goal is to cross the Strait of Gibraltar, from Tangier in Morocco and Tarifa on the southwestern tip of Spain. From the article: "Using a four-cylinder jet pack and carbon fibre wings spanning over 8ft, he will jump out of a plane at 6,500 ft and cruise at 130 mph until he reaches the Spanish coast, when he will parachute to earth." Update 18:57 GMT: mytrip writes: "Yves Rossy took off from Tangiers but five minutes into an expected 15-minute flight he was obliged to ditch into the wind-swept waters."

Comment Re:Thats an easy question... (Score 1) 1364

Personally, I don't get it; so long as you don't make me marry a person of the same gender against my will, why do I care what you do?

Personally, I don't get it; so long as you don't make me watch the Star Wars remakes with revised "shoots first" order, and bonus lumbering beasts, why do I care if other people do?

For many people out there, probably the ones who have the strongest views on "what marraige should be", there's a fear of change and a reluctance to embrace new ideas. Sure, some of these people may not even disagree with the ideas that strongly (though some definitely will), but if nothing else may embrace the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mindset. I know plenty of Star Wars geeks who to this day will get upset when you mention the changes made in the 90's re-releases, even though they have no effect on their lives other than changing something which was important to them.

The biggest difference, of course, is that both versions of Star Wars can co-exist, whereas with "redefinitions" of marraige, it's an either-or situation. If anything this will cement the opposition even further.

It's OK for different people to have different viewpoints - there's no empirical "right" or "wrong" on this issue.

As for the rest of your points though, I'd have to say I agree... someone who secretly enjoys the original Star Wars series but will only speak out against the re-releases when they think nobody will know they're doing it clearly is either afraid to embrace their opinion publicly (for whatever reason - it's not my place to decide why someone did something), or didn't hold the position that strongly to begin with.

Comment Re:how do you test it? (Score 1) 329

"Why don't we give this vaccine to ten creeps on death row, throw them a few hookers and see what happens". We would have the answer so much quicker and in the end, if the vaccine turns out to be effective, we'll save so many more (important - yes, I said it) lives.

...just sayin'...

Comment Re:How attractive compared to FIOs? (Score 1) 332

You act as if Verizon is staffed by happiness fairies.

I love FIOS. Don't know how I lived without it. Doesn't change the fact that Verizon's customer service has *literally* made my wife cry. On 3 separate occasions. I guarantee you she's spent over 8 hours on the phone with them. At this point, there must be a flag on our account, because as soon as an otherwise snippy rep pulls up our account information, they start treating her incredibly nicely, and sometimes just go ahead and ask if they can transfer her to their manager.

Incompetent doesn't even begin to describe the FIOS customer service reps we've had to deal with.

Submission + - Single human gene gives mice tri-color vision

maynard writes: "Scientists from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Institute working in collaboration have published a study in the peer reviewed journal Science showing that mice transgenetically altered with a single human gene are then able to see in full tri-color vision. Mice without this alteration are normally colorblind. The scientists speculate that even mammalian brains from animals that have never evolved color vision are flexible enough to interpret new color sense information with just a simple addition of new photoreceptors. Such a result is also indicated by a dominant X chromosome mutation that allows for quad-color vision in some women. From the article:

The experiments were designed to determine whether the brains of the genetically altered mice could efficiently process sensory information from the new photoreceptors in their eyes. Among mammals, this more complex type of color vision has only been observed in primates, and therefore the brains of mice did not need to evolve to make these discriminations.

The new abilities of the genetically engineered mice indicate that the mammalian brain possesses a flexibility that permits a nearly instantaneous upgrade in the complexity of color vision, say the study's senior authors, Gerald Jacobs and Jeremy Nathans.

Submission + - Another step towards the driverless car

jtogel writes: "At Essex, we have for some time been working on automatically learning how to race cars in simulation. It turns out that a combination of evolutionary algorithms and neural networks can learn how to beat all humans in racing games, and also come up with some quite interesting, novel behaviours, which might one day make their way into commercial racing games. While this is simulation, the race is now on for the real thing — we are setting up a competition for AI developers, where the goal is to win a race between model cars on real tracks. As the cars will be around half a meter long, the cost of participating will be a fraction of that for the famous DARPA Grand Challenge, whereas the challenges will be similar in terms of computer vision and AI."

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