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Submission + - New Li-Ion battery with twice the capacity planned for release next year

lars_stefan_axelsson writes: MIT News reports that SolidEnergy, an MIT spinoff is preparing to release a new Li-Ion battery that provides double the energy density per weight and volume, compared to current batteries.

The battery uses a thin layer of lithium metal as the anode compared to the graphite which is used today. There is also a change to the electrolyte. The new battery can be manufactured using current process lines, and commercial release of batteries for smart phones is planned for early next year, with electric cars following in 2018.

So if this holds true, it's a pretty big step forward, in an industry that otherwise usually sees a couple of percent improvement per step otherwise.

Submission + - Why Did The Stars Wars And Star Trek Worlds Turn Out So Differently?

HughPickens.com writes: In the Star Trek world there is virtual reality, personal replicators, powerful weapons, and, it seems, a very high standard of living for most of humanity while in Star Wars there is widespread slavery, lots of people seem to live at subsistence, and eventually much of the galaxy falls under the Jedi Reign of Terror. Why the difference? Tyler Cowen writes about some of the factors differentiating the world of Star Wars from that of Star Trek: 1) The armed forces in Star Trek seem broadly representative of society. Compare Uhura, Chekhov, and Sulu to the Imperial Storm troopers. 2) Captains Kirk and Picard do not descend into true power madness, unlike various Sith leaders and corrupted Jedi Knights. 3) In Star Trek, any starship can lay waste to a planet, whereas in Star Wars there is a single, centralized Death Star and no way to oppose it, implying stronger checks and balances in the world of Star Trek. 4) Star Trek embraces egalitarianism, namely that all humans consider themselves part of the same broader species. There is no special group comparable to the Jedi or the Sith, with special powers in their blood. 5) Star Trek replicators are sufficiently powerful it seems slavery is highly inefficient in that world.

Submission + - SPAM: NASA's Juno spacecraft approaches Jupiter for a 4th of July arrival

MarkWhittington writes: July 4, if all goes well, will be an occasion for celebration at NASA as the Juno spacecraft, after a nearly five-year voyage, will go into orbit around Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system. Juno will spend its time in a zone of intense radiation, against which it has been armored, in an effort to ferret out Jupiter’s secrets. By so doing, NASA hopes to gain insights into the origin of the solar system as well as gaining more knowledge of the gas giant, comprised mostly of hydrogen and helium with trace elements of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur.
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Study Finds Correlation Between Students' 'Attractiveness' and Higher Grades

An anonymous reader writes: HughPickens.com writes

Scott Jaschik writes at Inside Higher Education that although most faculty members would deny that physical appearance is a legitimate criterion in grading, a study finds that among similarly qualified female students, those who are physically attractive earn better grades than less attractive female students. For male students, there is no significant relationship between attractiveness and grades. The results hold true whether the faculty member is a man or a woman. The researchers obtained student identification photographs for students at at Metropolitan State University of Denver and had the attractiveness rated, on a scale of 1-10, of all the students. Then they examined 168,092 course grades awarded to the students, using factors such as ACT scores to control for student academic ability. For female students, an increase of one standard deviation in attractiveness was associated with a 0.024 increase in grade (on a 4.0 scale).

The results mirror a similar study that found that those who are attractive in high school are more likely to go on to earn a four-year college degree. Study co-author Rey Hernandez-Julian says that he finds the results of the Metro State study “troubling” and says that there are two possible explanations: “Is it that professors invest more time and energy into the better-looking students, helping them learn more and earn the higher grades? Or do professors simply reward the appearance with higher grades given identical performance? The likely answer, given our growing understanding of the prevalence of implicit biases, is that professors make small adjustments on both of these margins."

Submission + - Forbes Asks to disable Adblock, Serves Malvertising (engadget.com)

Deathlizard writes: From Engadget: The Forbes 30 Under 30 list came out this week and it featured a prominent security researcher. Other researchers were pleased to see one of their own getting positive attention, and visited the site in droves to view the list.

On arrival, like a growing number of websites, Forbes asked readers to turn off ad blockers in order to view the article. After doing so, visitors were immediately served with pop-under malware, primed to infect their computers, and likely silently steal passwords, personal data and banking information.

Submission + - Gravity can be produced, detected, and controlled claims scientist (dispatchtribunal.com)

hypnosec writes: Through a new paper Professor André Füzfa from the University of Namur claims that we can produce, detect and control gravity using existing technologies. Professor Füzfa has put together a proposal that holds the potential of revolutionizing physics and can even test theory of general relativity of Einstein. Currently employed passive mode of study of gravity motivated Professor Füzfa to take up the challenge and put forward a revolutionary approach of study — create gravitational fields at will from perfectly controlled magnetic fields and observe how these magnetic fields can bend space-time.

Submission + - How we know North Korea didn't detonate a hydrogen bomb

StartsWithABang writes: The news has been aflame with reports that North Korea detonated a hydrogen bomb on January 6th, greatly expanding its nuclear capabilities with their fourth nuclear test and the potential to carry out a devastating strike against either South Korea or, if they’re more ambitious, the United States. The physics of what a nuclear explosion actually does and how that signal propagates through the air, oceans and ground, however, can tell us whether this was truly a nuclear detonation at all, and if so, whether it was fusion or fission. From all the data we’ve collected, this appears to be nothing new: just a run-of-the-mill fission bomb, with the rest being a sensationalized claim.

Submission + - Poor Countries Demand $3.5 Trillion in Climate Finance at Paris (reason.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The Times (London) is reporting that poor country negotiators have demanded behind closed doors that rich country governments hand over $3.5 trillion in climate finance, or they will refuse to accept the Paris accord. India alone is seeking $2.5 trillion in climate finance. Indiaâ(TM)s total GDP in 2014 was just over $2 trillion. This demand may have been sparked by the fact that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry apparently threatened to walk out of conference if the accord was written so as make climate finance a legally binding obligation. He pointed out that Congress would not accept such an obligation. âoeYou can take the U.S. out of this. Take the developed world out of this. Remember, the Earth has a problem. What will you do with the problem on your own?,â Kerry reportedly said.

The loss and damage provisions in the current text are also causing friction between the developed country governments and developing country governments. Loss and damage deals with those effects of man-made global warming cannot be adapted to and will be irreversible. The U.S. is strongly pushing a stipulation that loss and damage provisions in the accord will âoenot involve or provide a basis for liability or compensation nor prejudice existing rights under international law.â At press conference earlier today, Mary Minette, the Director of Environmental Education and Advocacy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, rather cluelessly asserted, âoeWith regard to loss and damage, none of these issues is about money; they are about life, livelihoods, culture and justice.â

Submission + - Largest destroyer built for Navy headed to sea for testing (ap.org)

An anonymous reader writes: The first Zumwalt-class destroyer, the USS Zumwalt, the largest ever built for the U.S. Navy headed out to sea today. Departing from shipbuilder Bath Iron Works, the ship left to undergo sea trials. The AP reports: "The ship has electric propulsion, new radar and sonar, powerful missiles and guns, and a stealthy design to reduce its radar signature. Advanced automation will allow the warship to operate with a much smaller crew size than current destroyers. All of that innovation has led to construction delays and a growing price tag. The Zumwalt, the first of three ships in the class, will cost at least $4.4 billion."

Submission + - Russia reveals giant nuclear torpedo in state TV 'leak' (bbc.com)

schwit1 writes: Details of a new Russian submarine-launched nuclear torpedo have been shown on state-controlled TV, a secret the Kremlin said should never have been aired. Some observers, however, saw it as a deliberate leak.

The airing of the video on television channels under tight Kremlin control raised suspicions that it was done intentionally to scare the West at a time when its ties with Russia are at the lowest point since the Cold War.

Submission + - New Study Says Governments Should Ditch Reliance on Biofuels

HughPickens.com writes: The NYT reports on a new study from a prominent environmental think tank that concludes that turning plant matter into liquid fuel or electricity is so inefficient that the approach is unlikely ever to supply a substantial fraction of global energy demand and that continuing to pursue this strategy is likely to use up vast tracts of fertile land that could be devoted to helping feed the world’s growing population. “I would say that many of the claims for biofuels have been dramatically exaggerated,” says Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, a global research organization based in Washington that is publishing the report. “There are other, more effective routes to get to a low-carbon world.” The report follows several years of rising concern among scientists about biofuel policies in the United States and Europe, and is the strongest call yet by the World Resources Institute, known for nonpartisan analysis of environmental issues, to urge governments to reconsider those policies.

Timothy D. Searchinger says that recent science has challenged some of the assumptions underpinning many of the pro-biofuel policies that have often failed to consider the opportunity cost of using land to produce plants for biofuel. According to Searchinger if forests or grasses were grown instead of biofuels, that would pull carbon dioxide out of the air, storing it in tree trunks and soils and offsetting emissions more effectively than biofuels would do. What is more, as costs for wind and solar power have plummeted over the past decade, and the new report points out that for a given amount of land, solar panels are at least 50 times more efficient than biofuels at capturing the energy of sunlight in a useful form. “It’s true that our first-generation biofuels have not lived up to their promise,” says Jason Hill said. “We’ve found they do not offer the environmental benefits they were purported to have, and they have a substantial negative impact on the food system.”

Submission + - Microsoft Launches Outlook For Android And iOS 1

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft today launched Outlook for Android and iOS. The former is available (in preview) for download now on Google Play and the latter will arrive on Apple's App Store later today. The pitch is simple: Outlook will let you manage your work and personal email on your phone and tablet as efficiently as you do on your computer. The app also offers calendar features, attachment integration (with OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and iCloud), along with customizable swipes and actions so you can tailor it to how you specifically use email.

Submission + - Kansas City Science Store Resurrects AC Gilbert Chemistry Set, the best-ever toy (kickstarter.com)

McGruber writes: The A. C. Gilbert Company (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A...) was once one of the largest toy companies in the world. It manufacturered Erector Sets (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erector_Set), American Flyer toy trains (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Flyer), and chemistry sets (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemistry_set).

Chemist John Farrell Kuhns (https://www.kickstarter.com/profiles/1742632993/bio) received an AC Gilbert Chemistry set for Christmas 1959, while he was still in grade school. By the time Kuhns was twelve years old he had a home lab set up in my family's basement. Now, more than 50 years later, he still has a home lab.

As an adult, Mr. Kuhns wanted to share these experiences with his daughter, nephews and nieces, and their friends. But he soon discovered that real chemistry sets were no longer available. He wondered how, without real chemistry sets and opportunities for students to learn and explore, where would our future chemists come from?

In 2004, Kuhns and his wife opened their science store, H.M.S. Beagle (http://www.hms-beagle.com/) and last year used Kickstarter to launch a new Heirloom Chemistry set. (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1742632993/heirloom-chemistry-set). Kuhns uses a CNC router to cut out his wood cases, which are then hand assembled and finished with the shiny brass hardware and exotic wood inlays. Kuhns also synthesizes, purifies and/or formulates and packages all of the chemicals.

Gary Hanington, professor of physical science at Great Basin College, was another child who was lucky enough to own a Gilbert chemistry set. Hanington wrote about his set in this article (http://elkodaily.com/lifestyles/speaking-of-science-a-c-gilbert-chemistry-sets/article_30dc31c8-c258-11e1-9dfd-001a4bcf887a.html).

Sadly, not everyone sees the educational value of real chemistry sets. The AC Gilbert chemistry sets are #3 on Cracked's "The 8 Most Wildly Irresponsible Toys" (http://www.cracked.com/article_19481_the-8-most-wildly-irresponsible-vintage-toys_p2.html) and #8 on Complex.com's "The 25 Worst Must-Have Christmas Toys Ever (http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2012/12/25-worst-must-have-christmas-toys-ever/gilbert-chemistry-set)

Submission + - Drone Photographers Are Making Hyper-Detailed Maps Where Google Hasn't

Jason Koebler writes: Switzerland-based Drone Adventures, which has in the past undertaken drone photography missions in Haiti and Fukushima, took images to help out humanitarian organization Medair, who were struggling to provide the most efficient aid to affected regions because they lacked what most of us take for granted in the age of Google Maps: a detailed plan of the area.
The aerial images from the drones were able to create broad maps of the area that were detailed enough to show damage. The team took drone maps of the various villages and got them physically printed, as many of the communities aren’t online.

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