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Craig Venter Wants To Rebuild Martian Life In Earth Lab 142

Hugh Pickens writes "Karen Kaplan reports in the LA Times that Craig Venter is making plans to send a DNA sequencer to Mars. Assuming there is DNA to be found on the Red Planet – a big assumption, to be sure – the sequencer will decode its DNA, beam it back to Earth, put those genetic instructions into a cell and then boot up a Martian life form in a biosecure lab. Venter's 'biological teleporter' (as he dubbed it) would dig under the surface for samples to sequence. If they find anything, 'it would take only 4.3 minutes to get the Martians back to Earth,' says Venter, founder of Celera Genomics and the Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR). 'Now we can rebuild the Martians in a P4 spacesuit lab.' It may sound far-fetched, but the notion of equipping a future Mars rover to sequence the DNA isn't so crazy, and Venter isn't the only one looking for Martian DNA. MIT research scientist Christopher Carr is part of a group that's 'building a a miniature RNA/DNA sequencer to search for life beyond Earth,' according to the MIT website 'The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Genomes.' SETG will test the hypothesis that life on Mars, if it exists, shares a common ancestor with life on Earth. Carr told Tech Review that one of the biggest challenges is shrinking Ion Torrent's 30-kilogram machine down to a mere 3 kg – light enough to fit on a Mars rover."
The Almighty Buck

ATMs That Dispense Gold Bars Coming To America 482

tetrahedrassface writes "As the US economic woes continue unabated, a German company is bringing gold-bearing ATMs to Mainstreet America. The machines accept credit cards, and will dispense 1 gram, 5 gram, 10 gram and 1 ounce units, as well as various gold coins. The company hopes to install 35 bullion machines in the United States this year, and will hopefully have several hundred up and running by next year. The machines will be decorated like giant gold ingots and be over two meters tall. Physical gold has both pros and cons, but from a safety standpoint would it be fine to have a couple of ounces in your pocket while walking around the mall? The giant, gold-dispensing ATMs will monitor the market conditions for gold every 10 minutes in order to reflect spot price changes as they occur." We already covered similar machines installed in travel hubs across Germany.

New Material Transforms Car Bodies Into Batteries 213

MikeChino writes "As battery manufacturers race to produce more efficient lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, some scientists are looking to make the cars themselves a power source. Researchers are currently developing a new auto body material that can store and release electrical energy like a battery. Once perfected, scientists hope the substance will replace standard car bodies, making vehicles up to 15 percent lighter and significantly extending the range of electric vehicles."

"Road Trains" Ready To Roll 318

clickclickdrone writes to mention that "road trains," a system linking vehicles together via wireless sensors, could soon be rolled out in Europe. The system is designed primarily for cutting fuel consumption, travel time, and congestion. "Funded under the European Commission's Framework 7 research plan, Sartre (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) is aimed at commuters in cars who travel long distances to work every day but will also look at ways to involve commercial vehicles. Tom Robinson, project co-ordinator at engineering firm Ricardo, said the idea was to use off-the-shelf components to make it possible for cars, buses and trucks to join the road train."

British Royal Navy Submarines Now Run Windows 725

meist3r writes "On his Government blog, Microsoft's Ian McKenzie announced today that the Royal Navy was ahead of schedule for switching their nuclear submarines to a customized Microsoft Windows solution dubbed 'Submarine Command System Next Generation (SMCS NG)' which apparently consists of Windows 2000 network servers and XP workstations. In the article, it is claimed that this decision will save UK taxpayers £22m over the next ten years. The installation of the new system apparently took just 18 days on the HMS Vigilant. According to the BAE Systems press release from 2005, the overall cost of the rollout was £24.5m for all eleven nuclear submarines of the Vanguard, Trafalgar and Swiftsure classes. Talk about staying with the sinking ship."

Rainforest Fungus Synthesizes Diesel 244

Fluffeh alerts us to a report of a fungus that naturally produces diesel fuel, or something very close to it. "A fungus that lives inside trees in the Patagonian rain forest naturally makes a mix of hydrocarbons that bears a striking resemblance to diesel, biologists announced today. And the fungus can grow on cellulose, a major component of tree trunks, blades of grass and stalks that is the most abundant carbon-based plant material on Earth. ... [T]the paper's authors admit that the technique is far from any sort of industrial production. 'This report presents no information on the cost-effectiveness or other details to make G. roseum an alternative fuel source,' they write." NPR has an interview with the fungus's discoverer.

The Open Source Humanoid Robot and Its Many Uses 93

ruphus13 writes with a story about the open-source centric Willow Garage project (last mentioned on Slashdot early last year), which is making progress in creating helpful humanoid robots for household use. From the article: "PR2 is the mobile hardware design for Willow Garage robots, featuring stereo and laser sensors ... Senior citizens are a big part of the target audience that Willow Garage is aiming for. "All industrialized countries are facing aging populations that require assistance and care to remain independent into old age. By 2020 close to 20 percent of the US population will be over 65," the project leaders say. "These numbers are even higher in Western European and Asian countries." Willow Garage is aiming to produce several types of assistive robots." The PR2 robots are capable of performing critical tasks like cleaning rooms and bringing beer from a refrigerator."

Microsoft Bets Big On Computing For the Car 378

dstates writes "The automobile industry may be hurting, but Microsoft is doubling down and making a massive new investment in its automotive business unit. Microsoft already works closely with a number of car companies and will enhance that effort with more people and more resources. Sync developed as a collaboration with Ford Motor Co. allows motorists to control their cell phones, music players and navigation systems with voice commands while they drive. Microsoft is also making 'Live Search' technology available to automakers to develop in-car search and navigation. Detroit native Tom Philips, the new unit leader said 'There are a lot of technologies that are two to three years out that are going to provide even more connectivity and innovation. There's such a disconnect between what people experience in their cars and what they experience in the rest of their lives.'"

Internet Based Political "Meta-Party" For Massachusetts 227

sophiachou writes "The Free Government Party, a non-profit, open source political 'meta-party' focused on providing citizens with more direct control of Congress through online polling and user-drafted bills, seems to be looking for a candidate to endorse for US Representative of Massachusetts' 8th Congressional District. If you're from the Boston area, you might have seen this already on Craigslist. The chosen candidate will be bound by contract to vote in Congress only as do his or her constituents online. However, they don't seem to be going for direct democracy. To make voting convenient, you can select advisers to cast your votes for you, unless you do so yourself. Supposedly, interviews for the candidate position are already underway. Anyone from MA's 8th Congressional District on Slashdot already apply?"
The Military

USAF Considers Creation of Military Botnet 440

sowjetarschbajazzo writes "Air Force Col. Charles W. Williamson III believes that the United States military should maintain its own botnet, both as a deterrent towards those who would attempt to DDoS government networks, and an offensive weapon to be used against the networks of unfriendly nations, criminal groups, or terrorist organizations. "Some people would fear the possibility of botnet attacks on innocent parties. If the botnet is used in a strictly offensive manner, civilian computers may be attacked, but only if the enemy compels us. The U.S. will perform the same target preparation as for traditional targets and respect the law of armed conflict as Defense Department policy requires by analyzing necessity, proportionality and distinction among military, dual-use or civilian targets. But neither the law of armed conflict nor common sense would allow belligerents to hide behind the skirts of its civilians. If the enemy is using civilian computers in his country so as to cause us harm, then we may attack them." What does Slashdot think of this proposal?"

Manmade Flood to Nourish Grand Canyon Ecosystem 56

Dr. Eggman writes "The Associated Press brings us news of a flood in the Grand Canyon. This flood is no ordinary flood, however. This is a man-made flood released from the Glen Canyon Dam. The Dam is releasing four to five times its normal amount of water over the course of a three day artificial flood. Scientists are conducting this massive experiment in order to document and better understand the complex relation of the aquatic habitats, natural floods, and the sediment they bring. Floods no longer bring sediment to these parts of the canyon as the Dam keeps it locked up and released in small, drawn out intervals. The Dam prevents the floods from bringing the sediments in to replenish the sandbars and allow the river to maintain its warm, murky habitat rather than a cool, clear one. It is thought that this cool clear environment brought on by the dam is responsible for helping to extinguish 4 species of fish and push 2 more towards the brink. It is hoped that this terra-reformation experiment will positively impact the habitat and fish populations, warranting further artificial floods at an increased rate of every one to two years rather than the time span between the two previous floods and this one of 8 and 4 years."

NASA to Announce New Commercial Space Partner 69

NewScientist is reporting that NASA has kicked their previous space partner, Rocketplane Kistler, to the curb and is in search of a new commercial space partner. The new partnership will try to develop a new shuttle to service the International Space Station. "The GAO's decision clears the way for NASA to select a new COTS partner in addition to SpaceX, whose partnership with NASA continues. Only $32 million was paid to Rocketplane Kistler, leaving $175 million for new partnerships."
The Internet

TSA Opens Blog — You Can Finally Complain 370

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The TSA has opened their own blog. According to Ars Technica, it's beginning to attract complaints from people who are sick of removing their shoes and having to forfeit their drinks. 'The blog's first post has 131 comments so far, almost all of which fall into one of two categories: TSA employees who got the internal memo about the blog launch and dropped by to post positive things, and citizens who are really mad about the liquids screening policy.'"

Two Videos of E-Lead's Noahpad in Action 114

Engadget has a couple of great videos depicting the new 'Noahpad' laptop offering from E-Lead. This laptop offers a new kind of touchpad that is integrated with the keyboard. An interesting idea to be sure, but I doubt I could ever get used to typing on something this strange.

Interview with Sebastian Kuegler, KDE Developer 125

invisibastard writes "Linux Tech Daily has an interview with KDE's Sebastian Kuegler. Sebastian talks about the KDE 4.0 release event, goes into detail about how KDE has improved its processes and much more. '[...] there are many easy ways to help. The most obvious is helping people installing KDE, answering questions on forums, IRC and other media. Lately, we're getting also an increased amount of requests for speakers. Often local LUGs are interested in talks by KDE knowledgeable people. It might sound a bit scary, representing KDE in your local LUG, but it's really what KDE is about. Everybody comes from a local community, that is where our grassroots are. People often don't think that they are entitled to represent KDE, but that's just not the case at all. In fact, the marketing and promo team have a hard time finding enough speakers for all events. Slides are usually available, so it doesn't need all that much preparation.'

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