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iRobot Develops Hamster-Guided Robotic Vacuum 108

carusoj writes "The folks at iRobot apparently have plenty of time on their hands. They created a prototype wireless, robotic vacuum cleaner... powered by a hamster running inside a spinning ball. The rodent's movements with the ball are fed to and analyzed by a complex set of sensors, which then guide the actual vacuum device to mimic the animal's speed and direction. You can see where this is going: it's a clever ploy to then get you to buy a second robot that would automatically feed, water, and clean up after the hamster in the first robot."
Space

Black Hole At Center of Milky Way Confirmed 392

Smivs writes "The BBC are reporting that a German team has confirmed the existence of a Black Hole at the center of the Milky Way. Astronomers tracked the movement of 28 stars circling the center of the Milky Way, using the 3.5m New Technology Telescope and the 8.2m Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile. Both are operated by the European Southern Observatory (Eso). The black hole is four million times heavier than our Sun, according to the paper in The Astrophysical Journal. According to Dr Robert Massey, of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), the results suggest that galaxies form around giant black holes in the way that a pearl forms around grit."
Space

Details Emerging On Tunguska Impact Crater 164

#space_on_irc.freenode.net (Dusty) writes "Lake Cheko in Siberia has been noted as the probable crater of the 1908 Siberian Tunguska event. This news was discussed here in December, but details on the crater were scant. Now a new paper written by Luca Gasperini, Enrico Bonatti, and Giuseppe Longo (the same team in Bologna, Italy that made news in December) has a horde of new details on the supposed crater. The team visited Lake Cheko complete with their own catamaran and completed ground-penetrating radar maps, side-scanning sonar images, aerial images, and some sample collection of Lake Cheko. Intriguingly, they also imaged an object under the sediment that may be a fragment of the impacting body. Their paper (PDF) includes a lot more details including images, side-scanning sonar image, a 3-D view of the lake, a morphobathymetric map. It's an interesting read, these dudes are good. They plan to return this summer and drill the core if weather permits, hopefully answering the question once and for all." The same team also has a more discursive article in the current Scientific American that includes some detail on the working conditions in the Siberian summer. Think: mosquitos.
Space

Giant Sheets Of Dark Matter Detected 231

Wandering Wombat writes "The largest structures in the universe have been, if not directly found, then at least detected and pounced upon by scientists. 'The most colossal structures in the universe have been detected by astronomers who tuned into how the structures subtly bend galactic light. The newfound filaments and sheets of dark matter form gigantic features stretching across more than 270 million light-years of space — three times larger than any other known structure and 2,000 times the size of our own galaxy. Because the dark matter, by definition, is invisible to telescopes, the only way to detect it on such grand scales is by surveying huge numbers of distant galaxies and working out how their images, as seen from telescopes, are being weakly tweaked and distorted by any dark matter structures in intervening space.' By figuring how to spot the gigantic masses of dark matter, hopefully we can get a better understanding of it and find smaller and smaller structures."

Spreading "1 in 5" Number Does More Harm Than Good 382

Regular Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton has some opinions on child safety online and the use of fear mongering. Here are his thoughts. "The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has been running online ads for several years saying that "Each year 1 in 5 children is sexually solicited online", a statistic that has been endlessly repeated, including by vendors of blocking software and by politicians who often paraphrase it to say that 1 in 5 children "are approached by online predators". While others have quietly documented the problems with this statistic, lawmakers still bring it out every year in a push for more online regulation (preempted this year only by the topic du jour of cyberbullying), so it's time for anti-censorship organizations to start campaigning more aggressively against the misleading "1 in 5" number. That means two things: framing the debate with more accurate numbers, and holding the parties accountable for disseminating the wrong ones -- and that means naming names, including those of organizations like the NCMEC that are normally beyond reproach." Read below for the rest.
Music

Leaked RIAA Training Video 335

An anonymous reader writes "Gizmodo has a clip of that RIAA training video produced with the NDAA for US prosecutors that was leaked to torrent sites a few days ago. It argues they should pursue piracy cases because it leads to bigger and badder wares, like handguns, drugs, terrorist orgs, and hardcore repeat offender criminals. It's kind of sad how far they're stretching to bring law enforcement into the matter."

Microsoft's "Source Fource" Action Figures 363

RCanine writes "Microsoft is attempting to curry mind share with the 3-12 age bracket with their new event, the Source Fource, a series of developer-based action figures. Windows Vista Sensei, SQL Server Gal and some lame gender stereotypes presumably seek to rid the world of bearded, katana-wielding evil-doers. From the article: 'Between March 15th and April 15th 2007, the new super dudette will be offered and will be sent to developers who get their act together and attend at least two live MSDN Webcasts or two MSDN Virtual Labs, or one of each.'" I just can't figure out what to make of this, except that I hope someone can tell me if it blends. Or melts. Or burns.
Input Devices

Brain Control Headset for Gamers 152

gbjbaanb writes "Gamers will soon be able to interact with the virtual world using their thoughts and emotions alone. Headsets which read neural activity are not new, but Ms Le [president of US/Australian firm Emotiv] said the Epoc was the first consumer device that can be used for gaming. 'This is the first headset that doesn't require a large net of electrodes, or a technician to calibrate or operate it and does require gel on the scalp,' she said. 'It also doesn't cost tens of thousands of dollars.'" Wait until the government can get warrantless wiretaps on the logs of those things.
Science

Laser Light Re-creates 'Black Holes' in the Lab 245

yodasz writes "The New Scientist reports that a team of researchers from the UK were able to recreate a black hole's event horizon in the lab by firing a laser pulse down an optical fibre. The team's observations confirm predictions made by cosmologists and now they are trying to prove Hawking's hypothesis of escaping particles, dubbed Hawking radiation. 'The first pulse distorts the optical properties of the fibre simply by traveling through it. This distortion forces the speedy probe wave to slow down dramatically when it catches up with the slower pulse and tries to move through it. In fact, the probe wave becomes trapped and can never overtake the pulse's leading edge, which effectively becomes a black hole event horizon, beyond which light cannot escape.'"
The Courts

University Bows to RIAAs Demands for Student Names 271

jcgam69 writes "Hours after a federal court judge ordered Oklahoma State University to show cause why it shouldn't be held in contempt for failing to respond to an RIAA subpoena, attorneys for the school e-mailed a list of students' names to the RIAA's attorneys. But now that the RIAA has what it wanted, the group is unsure about how to go about sending out its pre-litigation settlement letters. Some of the students are represented by an attorney, meaning that the RIAA is barred from contacting them directly."
Television

Writers Strike Officially Over 499

CNN is reporting that the 100-day Hollywood writers walkout is now officially over. The new contract managed to snag two of the three major points the Writers Guild was looking for. The writers will now have "jurisdiction" for content created especially for new media (Internet, cell phones, etc) and will get paid for the reuse of content on new media when the studios get paid. "Leslie Moonves, chief executive officer of CBS Corp., told The Associated Press, 'At the end of the day, everybody won. It was a fair deal and one that the companies can live with, and it recognizes the large contribution that writers have made to the industry. [...] It's unclear how soon new episodes of scripted programs will start appearing, because production won't begin until scripts are completed, the AP reported. It will take at least four weeks for producers to get the first post-strike episodes of comedies back on the air; dramas will take six to eight weeks, the AP said.'"
The Courts

Samsung Sued Over "Defective" Blu-ray Player 222

Anneka notes that, although both Netflix and Best Buy threw logs on HD DVD's funeral pyre today, things are not all going Blu-ray's way. A Connecticut man is suing Samsung, the maker that brought the first Blu-ray players to market, over its "defective" BD-P1200 player. The lawsuit seeks class-action status. The problem is that the Samsung BD-P1200 is a "Profile 1.0" player that can't play some Blu-ray discs and Samsung has no intention (or ability) to upgrade these players via firmware. Quoting Ars: "The meager requirements of the 1.0 profile mean that Blu-ray players which fail to implement the optional features won't be able to take advantage of picture-in-picture, which requires secondary decoders. 1.0 players are also unable to store local content, lacking the 256MB of storage mandated by the 1.1 profile. Profile 1.1 discs should still play on 1.0 players, however, but the extra features will not work."
Real Time Strategy (Games)

Blizzard Patches No-CD Support Into Warcraft III 198

Rock, Paper, Shotgun notes that in Blizzard's never-ending quest for perfect balance, they've added a handy feature for still-dedicated Warcraft players. Players will no longer need to have the disc in the drive in order to conquer Azeroth. This kicks off a discussion by blogger Alec Meer about the role of copy protection and anti-piracy in PC gaming: "I don't need the Paint Shop Pro disc in my DVD drive whenever I want to butcher my holiday photos, after all. It was always doubly unnecessary for a game like W3, which also employs serial number checks if you want to play it online. Having the CD check as well seems like leaving a polite post-it note on the windscreen of a driver prone to double-parking. Don't bother. Just wheel-clamp the bastard. While there're still some reasons to be circumspect about online distribution systems, they do spell an end to miserably sorting through quivering towers of plastic discs or popup-heavy crack websites. This brave new world, in which the data already installed upon my hard drive is all that's required to play a game I've paid for, is one I know I want to live in."

Duke Nukem Forever 'Confirmed' For Late 2008 344

An anonymous reader writes "A Dallas newspaper is claiming that the long-in-development title Duke Nukem Forever is headed for retail release in late 2008. Unfortunately, game creator 3D Realms says that's not exactly what they meant. 'What the modest Texas newspaper actually seems to suggest is that 3D Realms is "on target" to release the mythical sequel sometime this year, though company president Scott Miller adds, "we may miss the mark by a month or two" (wink, wink). Miller also hinted that "hitting the big three" (in this case, PC, Xbox 360 and PS3) is the obvious development strategy, but he continued to stress that 3D Realms has not "formally announced any platforms for DNF."'"

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