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The Military

Submission + - SPAM: Marines want lots of robots they can throw

coondoggie writes: "The US Marine Corp has a request — build and rapidly deploy more 10lb or under robots its personnel can throw into dangerous situations that can quickly gather information without endangering Marines. The throwable robot is part of a family of robots that would range from the 10lb version, to one that would act as a central controlling device and weigh close to 300lbs. Marine commanders are demanding ever lighter robots so that troops don't have to offload critical equipment from their rucksacks to accommodate them. [spam URL stripped]"
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Idle

Submission + - Robots Are The Chefs In This Japanese Restaurant (singularityhub.com)

Singularity Hub writes: "A Ramen restaurant has just opened in Nagoya, Japan that uses robots instead of humans as its chefs. It may not seem that amazing at first, but once you see the video it is hard not to be blown away. The robotic chefs work their gastronomic magic in a kitchen placed front and center in the middle of the restaurant, giving customers a front row seat on the action."
XBox (Games)

Submission + - In the Underworld, the game plays you! (www.itu.dk)

togelius writes: "Whenever you play a game of Tomb Raider: Underworld, heaps of data about your playing style is collected at Eidos' servers. Researchers at the Center for Computer Games Research have now mined this data to find out who you are! Using self-organizing neural networks, they classified players as either Veterans, Solvers, Pacifists or Runners. It turns out people play the game for very different reasons and focus on different parts of the game, but almost everyone falls into one of these categories. These neural networks can now instantly find out which of these you belong to based on just seeing you play. In the near future, such networks will be used to adapt games like Tomb Raider while they are played (e.g. by removing or adding puzzles and enemies), so you get the game you want."
The Military

Submission + - SPAM: 15-ton bomb would become the Father Of All Bombs

coondoggie writes: "Now this is one big bomb. Published reports today say the Pentagon is rattling swords in the direction of North Korea and Iran by speeding the development a 20-foot, 30,000lb bomb known as Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) meant to annihilate underground bunkers and other hardened (re: long range missile or underground nuke development) sites. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency which has overseen the development of this monster since 2007, says it is designed to be carried aboard B-2 and B-52 bombers and deployed at high altitudes where it would strike the ground at speeds well beyond 2X the speed of sound to penetrate the below ground target. [spam URL stripped]"
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Space

Submission + - Armadillo A. Flight Paves Way for Science Payloads (spacefellowship.com)

Matt_dk writes: "Armadillo Aerospace conducted two groundbreaking atmospheric test flights this weekend with their "Mod" vertical-takeoff-vertical-landing rocket, a vehicle familiar to anyone who has followed NASA's Lunar Lander Challenge competitions. Flying from their test facility in Caddo Mills, Texas, Armadillo Aerospace first completed a milestone flight under a NASA contract, using methane fuel and liquid oxygen as propellant. Later that same afternoon, a second successful low-altitude flight was performed using a "boosted hop" trajectory of the same type that will be used for suborbital flights to space."
Social Networks

Submission + - SPAM: Facebook tell-all shines harsh light on friendship

alphadogg writes: The moral I took away from Ben Mezrich's new book about social network site Facebook, The Accidental Billionaires, is that it's pretty darn hard these days to figure out who your real friends are. That's only fitting since Facebook, along with MySpace and other social networks, has popularized the concept of "friending" people you don't always know so well. Mezrich's story documents the rise of Facebook from a geeky dorm room project at Harvard University in 2004 inspired by hard-to-penetrate social clubs to its current state as a gathering place for a couple hundred million people and a business that Facebook board member Marc Andreessen recently said could generate $1 billion in revenue this year if it pushed harder on selling ads. Unfortuntely for Mezrich, he doesn't get to talk to Facebook mastermind Mark Zuckerberg, though he does base a lot of it on Zuckerberg's jilted business partner, giving the book a predictable slant.
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Power

Submission + - Sleek Solar and Wind Powered Hybrid Street Lamps (inhabitat.com)

Mike writes: "Why choose between solar power and wind turbines when you can have both? That's the approach behind a recently unveiled hybrid wind/solar street lamp, which is completely powered by a 300W wind turbine and an 80W set of solar panels. These stylish street lamps are capable of operating completely off grid and can be easily scaled to accommodate a wide range of components (LED lights, solar panels, wind turbine, tower height, and battery storage) to suit various projects. Designer and manufacturer Urban Green Energy has announced that they just signed an agreement with an undisclosed city in China to outfit their streets with these new hybrid lamps."
Robotics

Submission + - RoboGames Land at San Francisco This Weekend (singularityhub.com)

Singularity Hub writes: "The RoboGames are coming to San Francisco this weekend. Voted top ten geek-fest in the nation by Wired Magazine, Robogames promises 70 different events and endless hours of weekend entertainment. With so many events taking place in one weekend, there really is a big draw for almost any type of robot enthusiast. For the humanoid robot lovers, there are the autonomous humanoid robot challenges, including basketball, weight lifting, a soccer tournament and a marathon. Other categories include Sumo, where two opponents try and knock each other out of a ring, self-navigating robots, art-bots and a junior league for the wee ones."
Books

Submission + - Review of sci-fi novel, Don't Mess With Earth 1

Cliff Ball writes: "My first review for Don't Mess With Earth, done by Feathered Quill Book Reviews http://www.featheredquill.com/

Don't Mess With Earth By: Cliff Ball Publisher: Virtualbookworm.com Publishing Publication Date: March 2009 ISBN: 978-1602643413 Reviewed by: Will Gabbett Review Date: June 10, 2009

In the new book, Don't Mess With Earth, intellectually and scientifically advanced humans, as well as aliens from a distant world, have descended on Earth. They have been experimenting and meddling in the affairs of humans for the advancement of their own species for centuries. But wait! Earthlings have caught on to the devious ploys and are fighting back.

Don't Mess With Earth begins with the President of the United States getting ready to hold a press conference to explain how Earth has been manipulated. "...it all started a few thousand years ago..." The story then jumps back to a time when Earth was populated by primitive people with the exception of the Terrans, a race of technologically advanced humans. The Terrans worked constantly to advance their society while those around them fought and scrounged for food. Eventually, the Terrans were able to build a space ship and leave Earth, and all its problems, behind.

With the help of another alien race, the Terrans exponentially advanced their technology and soon were in conflict with the Ragnor, another advanced race. While these two enemies battled each other, they both descended on Earth — the Terrans to meddle and the Ragnor to experiment.

Once the author presents the history of the Terrans and Ragnors, he then brings us back to Earth and the reader is taken on a history trip where we meet Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, Michelangelo, Galileo, and King Arthur along with many other historical figures. In the U.S., we meet Amelia Earhart and Chuck Yeager. The reader sees how some famous characters from the past were actually Terrans, and how these advanced people affected history.

The story chronicles various historical events around the world, including the well-known alien spaceship crash in New Mexico in the late 40s. In Don't Mess With Earth, the crash is real. When a Ragnor space vessel crashes on Earth, one alien is captured alive and taken to a secret research area known only as 'Area 51.' By using the Ragnor captive's knowledge and studying the spaceship, humans, particularly the U.S. military, advance their own knowledge. Soon, they are able to launch an attack of their own.

Don't Mess With Earth has a great premise and the way the author weaves historical fact with creative alien mischief is clever and intriguing. There are a bit too many background chapters that present historical figures which, although fun to read, eventually drag the story to a halt. They are really mini vignettes that prevent the plot from getting into the meat of the story until about halfway through the book when the Ragnor ship crashes and 'Area 51' is established.

The writing in Don't Mess With Earth is a bit strained in places as is the dialog. For example, when Amelia Earhart is having problems, we read, "She was beginning to suspect that her radio was being jammed by the Terrans, so she waited for whatever that was about to happen, go ahead and happen." There are also several holes in the plot, such as how the Terrans became so much more sophisticated than their primitive neighbors. When the military captures a Ragnor, they force him to cooperate. How could one Ragnor's reluctant assistance, the technology his ship offers, along with human ingenuity be enough to launch a strike against a much more advanced civilization? This idea may strain believability and evoke questions from the reader. Still, the unexpected twist at the end of the story, plus the creative storyline, will keep many readers hooked.

Quill says: A good attempt at showing what might happen when aliens think they know more than their human subjects."

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