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Cellphones

Cell Phones For Easy App Development? 97

linnrose writes "When I purchased my current cell phone — a ATT/Samsung Sync — my primary reason for selecting it was Samsung told me I could install custom Java applications on it via USB or the microSD card; turns out they lied to me. I would really like to have a phone that is open enough for me to install simple Java (or whatever language; I'm primarily a C# developer) apps without having to download them from a server. And it doesn't have to be cutting-edge/feature-rich; gimme a nice color screen and good call quality. I'm thinking Nokia might have something useful, but I'm not sure. Any suggestions?"
Robotics

Distance Record Broken For a Walking Robot 78

Narrative Fallacy writes "The Cornell Ranger robot has set an unofficial world distance record by walking nonstop for 45 laps — a little over 9 kilometers — around the Barton Hall running track in an event to to show off the machine's energy efficiency. Unlike other walking robots that use motors to control every movement, the Ranger emulates human walking, using gravity to help swing its legs forward. The Robot alternately swings two outside legs forward and then two inside ones and although the robot has no knees, it has feet that can be tipped up and down, so that the robot pushes off with its toes, then tilts its feet upward to land on the heels as it brings its legs forward. The Robot is steered by a hobby remote control which biases the steering to one side or another by lifting one of the four feet slightly. 'We've just moved into this world of electromechanical devices, and to make something this robust is a big achievement,' said Andy Ruina, Cornell professor of theoretical and applied mechanics. 'We've learned tons about what it takes to make walking work.'"
Input Devices

Ready for a CyberWalk? 69

Roland Piquepaille writes "Even with recent improvements in virtual reality technology, it's still almost impossible to physically walk through virtual environments. Now, European researchers have started a project named CyberWalk and they'll demonstrate next week their omni-directional treadmill, named CyberCarpet. According to ICT Results, the researchers 'had to address five key issues: providing a surface to walk on, controlling the surface in a way that minimized forces on the user, developing a non-intrusive tracking system, displaying a high-quality visualization, and ensuring a natural human perception of the virtual environment.' The researchers think that their new virtual environments would be used by architects and the gaming industry." Additional details are also available via the project website.
Communications

Scientists Build New Type of Photon Gun 90

KentuckyFC writes "Single photons are surprisingly difficult to generate. But since they are crucial for quantum communication, a number of research groups are working on photon guns that fire single photons on demand. The problem they have come up against is that making the photons identical is proving harder than expected. Now a group in Cambridge, UK, has cracked the problem using a quantum dot on a transistor to emit single photons that are essentially identical. In the process, the group has developed an entirely new technique to trigger photon emission (abstract on the physics arxiv)."
IBM

IBM Suspended From US Federal Contracts 136

theodp writes "IBM has been temporarily banned from receiving future contracts with federal agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed on Monday. The suspension went into effect last Thursday due to 'concerns raised about potential activities involving an EPA procurement,' the agency said in an e-mailed statement. Under a reciprocal agreement among federal agencies, when one issues a ban, the others follow it. The EPA said it will not comment further on the matter. An IBM spokesman said he had no immediate comment. 'You don't see this very often, particularly for large companies,' commented a stunned industry analyst, mentioning a bankrupt MCI as a notable exception. IBM earned an estimated $1.5 billion in revenue from federal prime contracts in fiscal 2007."
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."
Earth

Encyclopedia of Life Launches First 30,000 Pages 87

An anonymous reader writes to let us know that the Encyclopedia of Life opened up to the public today with its first 30,000 pages in place — and, according to the AP, promptly crumbled even before being Slashdotted. (The site seems fine now.) We discussed this project last year when it was announced. The Telegraph has an overview of the launch, and reports that only 25 "exemplar" pages on the site are fully fleshed out to the extent scientists hope eventually to attain for all species; the other few tens of thousands are expanded placeholders. The project hopes to begin taking input from citizen-scientists late this year.

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