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Comment Re:Congratulations. (Score 3, Informative) 193

Actually, all of this is disclosed at the fair. Any student working in a high-end research lab (or frankly, any place more advanced than your standard high school lab) is required to submit forms signed by the head of said institutions and detail the size and scope of the involvement of the lab. This includes graduate student mentors, access to equipment, and other information.

Comment Re:motion detection? (Score 1) 163

Not as such. The method in question says specifically that the system involves PDAs and other such devices (claims 12-18 of the patent application). Additionally, as the conversation above asserts, the claims relate to reversal of motion in six directions. Since a mouse does not detect rotational movements or vertical movements (lifting the mouse off the desk does nothing), this would not constitute an infringement.

Comment Re:radioactive bacteria (Score 5, Interesting) 237

You scoff at the above poster, but there are (non-lethal) mutations possible that could make these particular bacteria more dangerous to people. A single mutation causes an amino acid change in the protein that converts uranium to uranite. Now, instead of uranium, it binds phosphorus (or calcium, or ferrous ions, or whatever) because its pore size is different. Instead of removing uranium for the water, it now creates large, insoluble phosphorus deposits. Even if the remaining bacteria remove the uranium, you are still left with a completely unlivable ecosystem for micro-organisms (and higher life forms which feed on them, and so on), because basic nutrients are in extremely short supply. In essence, you've traded one barren landscape for another, and that just fails to help anyone. This isn't a terribly likely scenario. 99.999% of mutations are likely to be either fatal to the microorganisms or irrelevant. On the other hand, if a group of bacteria are exposed to 10^m photons of gamma radiation...I'm guessing at least a few beneficial, non-desirable mutations could occur. They won't turn the microbes into the blob, but they could end up causing some very non-desirable effects.

Prototype Vehicle For the Blind 238

An anonymous reader writes "A student team from Virginia Tech Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory have created a vehicle which allows the blind to drive. The vehicle uses a laser range finder to determine distances and alerts the driver through voice commands and vibration. Tomorrow [Friday] morning, the vehicle will have its first public test drive at the University of Maryland. At last, Braille on drive-up ATMs may finally be vindicated."

Comment Re:Californians and their "log jams" (Score 1) 882

(a) Notwithstanding the prima facie speed limits, any vehicle proceeding upon a highway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at such time shall be driven in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

(b) If a vehicle is being driven at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at such time, and is not being driven in the right-hand lane for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand edge or curb, it shall constitute prima facie evidence that the driver is operating the vehicle in violation of subdivision (a) of this section.

This is a pretty typical law - I know that PA has pretty much the same code. Doing a little quick research, State "keep right" laws - you can see that most states (31/50) have the exact same laws. Six states (IL,KS,KY,ME,MA,NJ) actually forbid use of the left lane, and two states (PA, WA) have a slight ban on the using the left. The rest of the states have no specific law, though all of these states require you not to obstruct the flow of traffic.

Comment Re:and yet NYC still has traffic jams (Score 1) 882

Yeah - I can't really complain about traffic (I'm from Pittsburgh. We have traffic, just not a lot of it.). But we still get this. On the two main highways, there are two major tunnels (Ft. Pitt Tunnel, Squirrel Hill Tunnel). Both are two lanes in each direction (separate tubes), and during rush hour are always a major point of congestion. Three of the four tunnel entrances are bottleneck points, meaning you expect them to back up at least a little. But the fourth is clear roadway for a solid mile up to the tunnel. I think that people are afraid the tunnel monster will awaken if they drive past too quickly. It's not so much that there is traffic. It's that when I see traffic for no reason, I'm hoping there's a pile corpses at the head of the line to justify it.

Comment Re:Unfortunate consequences of life (Score 1) 612

Actually, I think that the point still stands. Cars in similar circumstances (neighborhood parked in, type of car, etc.) are less likely to be broken into when parked in a big pool of light than on a street where no-one can see anything at all. Merely saying that someone can commit a crime in bright light is not saying that it's more likely. I would suggest that you examine news stories to see which phrase comes up more: "daring daytime robbery" or "daring nighttime robbery". I'm guessing you find the first one a lot more.

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