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Patents

Submission + - Lincoln's Tomb to be powered by georthermal energy

sm62704 (magrew) writes: "The Springfield State Journal-Register is reporting that Lincoln's Tomb will be partly powered by geothermal energy, the first public historic site in the US to do so. ""We're not aware of this being tried in a public historic site like this before, so we really don't have anything to compare it to," David Blanchette, spokesman for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency said.

Lincoln's legacy includes presiding over our only civil war and freeing the US's slaves. His visage appears on a five dollar bill, as well as on both sides of a penny. I never knew Lincoln was a nerd, but according to the SJ-R, Lincoln was the only US President to ever hold a patent.

The geothermal project at the Oak Ridge Cemetary is slated to be finished before Lincoln's 200th birthday in 2008. Let the global warming jokes begin..."
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Confession of a college downloader's father

sm62704 (mcgrew) writes: "St. Louis Post Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan tells the tale of the music industry suing his college aged son, and how the old geezer wound up paying the settlement.

The attorney looked into the matter and explained that the music industry has been filing these lawsuits in an effort to frighten people away from downloading music. A woman in Minnesota went to court and lost $120,000. That frightened me. I decided to accept the settlement offer. We had to pay the music industry $4,000.

I do not even know what downloading is.
Here we have a man who doesn't even know what downloading is, paying a fine for downloading."
Space

Submission + - Comet Holmes bigger than the sun

mcgrew (sm62704) writes: "I have NASA's "Image of the DAY" loaded up in iGoogle, and was astounded that the caption to today's astronomy image of the comet says that

The spherical coma of Comet Holmes has swollen to a diameter of over 1.4 million kilometers, making the tenuous, dusty cloud even bigger than the Sun. Scattering sunlight, all that dust and gas came from the comet's remarkably active nucleus, whose diameter before the late October outburst was estimated to be a mere 3.4 kilometers. In this sharp image, recorded on November 14 with the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, stars are easily visible right through the outer coma, while the nucleus is buried inside the condensed, bright region. The bright region of the coma seems offset from the center, consistent with the idea that a large fragment drifted away from the nucleus and disintegrated, producing the comet's spectacular outburst.
The comet's nucleus, of course, isn't anywhere near the sun's size; Wikipedia has a very good image gallery of Holmes and animations of its motions.

NASA's Image of the Day can be found here."
The Courts

Submission + - Girl sues sports team over electronic scoreboard

mcgrew (sm62704) writes: "The St Louis Post Dispatch is reporting that a teenager is suing the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team over a message that appeared on the electronic scoreboard that read "[plantiff] has an STD! Eww"

The suit accuses the Cardinals of negligence in allowing a defamatory statement to be published. The girl is seeking damages "in excess of $25,000," plus legal fees.

The Cardinals introduced the scoreboard service when the new stadium opened last year. For $2.99, fans can send a text message from their phone to digital boards along the first- and third-base lines, as well as a display in right-center field.

Vulgar comments are supposed to be caught before they are displayed, but that has not always been the case.
No "safe harbor" for scoreboards!"
Space

Submission + - Giant black holes power highest-energy cosmic rays

mcgrew (sm62704) writes: "New Scientist says

The finding, from a telescope array 10 times the size of Paris, solves a long-standing mystery about the origins of the most energetic cosmic rays that strike the Earth's atmosphere....

[T]he origins of the highest-energy particles, which travel within a whisker of the speed of light, have been puzzling. A single proton can have as much energy as a tennis ball served at 100 kilometres per hour.

Astronomers found it difficult to explain how particles are accelerated to such enormous speeds.
The article says these new findings herald "the beginning of cosmic ray astronomy"."
Operating Systems

Submission + - Dual boot in Phoenix BIOSes 1

mcgrew (sm62704) writes: "The AP is reporting that Phoenix Technologies Ltd. BIOSes will have dual boot capabilities at the BIOS level, possibly starting next summer.

User will be able to boot in a few seconds straight into the DVD player, skipping the longer Windows startup, or switch to the DVD player from Windows. If Windows is running at the same time, it can be put in sleep mode, prolonging battery life.

Laptops with a media player separate from Windows already exist, but the players don't run parallel to Windows (you have to boot into the player, then shut it down and boot into Windows to switch tasks).

Laptops with HyperSpace would likely have a separate button that instantly switches away from Windows.
The technology, named HyperSpace, will be based on Linux."
Space

Submission + - Black holes may harbour their own universes

mcgrew writes: From the "head explodes" department:

When matter gets swallowed by a black hole, it could fall into another universe contained inside the black hole, or get trapped inside a wormhole-like connection to a second black hole, a new study suggests.
Christian Böhmer of University College London, in the UK and colleague Kevin Vandersloot of the University of Portsmouth in the UK used computers to approximate what would happen to matter falling into a black hole using the Loop Quantum Gravity theory.

"We were very surprised about the results," Böhmer says. Instead of a boundary around the singularity, they got two other kinds of solutions — both bizarre — that replaced the singularity
More at New Scientist.
Biotech

Submission + - Brains hard wired for math

mcgrew (sm62704) writes: "New Scientist is reporting that "non-human primates really can understand the meaning of numerals."

The small study of two rhesus monkeys reveals that cells in their brains respond selectively to specific number values — regardless of whether the amount is represented by dots on a screen or an Arabic numeral.

For example, a given brain cell in the monkey will respond to the number three, but not the number one. The results suggest that individual cells in human brains might also have a fine-tuned preference for specific numerical values.
The report itself is online at PLoS Biology, Semantic Associations between Signs and Numerical Categories in the Prefrontal Cortex."
Power

Submission + - "Tractor beam" invented by Cornell Univers

mcgrew (sm62704) writes: "New Scientest says that a "tractor beam" of sorts has been developed to guide microscopic particles.

"We are able to grab things out of the flow and propel them along a new path," says Erickson. He adds that microfluidic work is inherently fiddly, because drag, friction and viscosity are much stronger at such smaller scales. "Optics is the opposite — as you confine things to smaller spaces they get faster and more useful," Erickson adds.
"
Biotech

Submission + - Source of "optimism" found in the brain

mcgrew (sm62704) writes: "The optimist says "the glass is half full", the pessimist says "the glass is half empty," the scientist says there's .327084436 liters, and the realist says "we need to find another .0025 lters". New Scientist says "Two regions of the brain linked to optimism have been discovered by researchers. The identification of the sites that signal positive thinking could shed light on the causes of depression.""
Security

Submission + - cracking techniquee causes security concerns

mcgrew (sm62704) writes: "New Scientest is reporting that Elcomsoft (made famous by one of its researchers, Dmitry Skylarof, being jailed for legal cracking of an Adobe app) has patented a technique for cracking passwords using inexpensive graphics hardware. From the article:

The toughest passwords, including those used to log in to a Windows Vista computer, would normally take months of continuous computer processing time to crack using a computer's central processing unit (CPU). By harnessing a $150 GPU — less powerful than the nVidia 8800 card — Elcomsoft says they can cracked in just three to five days. Less complex passwords can be retrieved in minutes, rather than hours or days.
I'm reminded of the scene in T2 where the kid cracks an ATM with a 1980s era Atari..."

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