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Submission + - ESA and Airbus Safran agree on deal to build Ariane 6

schwit1 writes: Airbus Safran have come to an agreement with the European Space Agency on building Ariane 6, Europe's next commercial rocket.

The key part of the deal is that ESA and Arianespace will be ceding ownership of the rocket to Airbus Safran.

The French government is likely to approve the sale of CNES's 34-percent stake in the Evry, France-based Arianespace launch service provider to Airbus Safran Launchers at about the same time as the Ariane 6 development contract is signed.

With that sale, Airbus Safran will control Arianespace, which means they will also own the rocket they are building for Arianespace. This is fundamentally different than the situation with Ariane 5, which Airbus built for an Arianespace owned and run by the many-headed ESA. The result was a bloated government-run operation that never made a profit.

Now Airbus will own it instead. They have already indicated that they will trim the costs at Arianespace. More importantly, with ownership will come the freedom to compete effectively in the much more competitive launch market created by the arrival of SpaceX. No need to get permission from ESA to do things.

Submission + - Scientists just automated light-based computers (

retroworks writes: Integrated photonic devices are poised to play a key role in a wide variety of applications, ranging from optical interconnects and sensors to quantum computing. However, only a small library of semi-analytically designed devices is currently known. In the article in Nature Photonics, researchers demonstrate the use of an inverse design method that explores the full design space of fabricable devices and allows them to design devices with previously unattainable functionality, higher performance and robustness, and smaller footprints than conventional devices. The designed a silicon wavelength demultiplexer splits 1,300nm and 1,550nm light from an input waveguide into two output waveguides, and the team has fabricated and characterized several devices. The devices display low insertion loss (2dB), low crosstalk (100nm). The device footprint is 2.8×2.8m2, making this the smallest dielectric wavelength splitter.

Submission + - Mens Rea: Video Games and Our Evil Intentions (

Phaethon360 writes: The most righteous and morally upright individual can bear only a modicum of ill intent towards even the sleaziest of video game characters and still find themselves in the murky realm of real vs interactive psychopathy. But is that sense justified? The link between right and wrong is often so gray in the real world that when painted in context of how it applies digitally, it becomes an almost hue-less blur. But do those who are inclined to play a more violent or racy title doing so because of their internal mechanisms or merely because these types of games are the most engaging?

Nick writes: "Mens Rea or “guilty mind” is defined as “the evil intent, criminal purpose, a knowledge of the wrongfulness of conduct. It is a principle that is still held true today in most developed criminal justice systems, and helps us to separate a real crime from an unfortunate accident. However, I am curious as to whether or not we as gamers commit crime with an “evil intent” in the interactive medium, and if this is a compelling motivation in our purchase and play of such games..."


Submission + - U.S. sits on rare supply of tech-crucial minerals (

An anonymous reader writes: China supplies most of the rare earth minerals found in technologies such as hybrid cars, wind turbines, computer hard drives and cell phones, but the U.S. has its own largely untapped reserves that could safeguard future tech innovation. Those reserves include deposits of both "light" and "heavy" rare earths — families of minerals that help make everything from TV displays to magnets in hybrid electric motors.

"There is already a shortage, because there are companies that already can't get enough material," said Jim Hedrick, a former USGS rare earth specialist who recently retired. "No one's trying to expand their use of rare earths because they know there's not more available."

"No one [in the U.S.] wants to be first to jump into the market because of the cost of building a separation plant," Hedrick explained. The former USGS specialist said that such a plant requires thousands of stainless steel tanks holding different chemical solutions to separate out all the individual rare earths.

The upfront costs seem daunting. Hedrick estimated that opening just one mine and building a new separation plant might cost anywhere from $500 million to $1 billion and would require a minimum of eight years. But Cowle, the CEO of U.S. Rare Earths, seems hopeful that momentum has already begun building for the U.S. government to encourage development of its own rare earth deposits.

"From what I see, security of supply is going to be more important than the prices," Cowle said.


Submission + - Cameras Unravel a Homicide, Frame by Frame 3

Pickens writes: "For years, the United Arab Emirates has been using its oil wealth to build up a defense and security infrastructure with over 10,000 surveillance cameras that allows law enforcement to track anyone, from the moment they get off an airplane, to the immigration counter where their passport is scanned, through the baggage claims area to the taxi stand where cameras record who gets into what cars, which log their locations through the city's automated highway toll system, all the way to their hotels, which also have cameras. Now the Los Angeles Times reports that a team of 20 investigators pored over 648 hours of surveillance videos using facial recognition software to sketch out a picture of 27 suspects involved in the murder of a 50-year-old Hamas commander wanted by Israel in the kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers. In the end, a mixture of high-tech razzle-dazzle and old-fashioned investigative work cracked the case. "Dubai police are very good at piecing together crimes," says Theodore Karasik, a security analyst at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Affairs. "I've seen it before when you had robberies or murders occur and you'll forget about the story and then six months later the guys are arrested via Interpol brought back here and then they disappear into the system." The case has generated what most analysts consider unwelcome fallout for Israel, which many suspect of being behind the attack but if Mossad agents were involved, the operation blew the identities of 27 agents. "They'll never be able to go outside of Israel again, even with disguises," says Karasik. "Biometrics means all of the contours of your face are on file.""

Submission + - Go Flash-free: How to get rid of Adobe Flash (

JimLynch writes: Apple's doing it. Google's getting there. And Microsoft is quietly moving toward it. Big names in tech are trying to leave Adobe's Flash plug-in behind, citing stability and energy efficiency concerns. Can the average web surfer take the plunge? Not entirely, but with the right tools, you can mostly forgo Flash.
Wireless Networking

Submission + - Comcast bringing metropolitan WiMAX to subscribers (

RickRussellTX writes: "Comcast plans to offer 4 megabits/sec WiMAX services to customers in Portland, Oregon starting tomorrow. Branded as "Comcast High-Speed 2go" and "4G", the service will require a $44.99 per month subscription in addition to existing Comcast home service. For $69.99 they will offer a dual-mode card with access to both Comcast WiMAX and Sprint's national 3G wireless network. Future rollouts are planned for Chicago, Philadelphia, and Atlanta.

Say what you will about Comcast (and I know many Slashdot readers have plenty to say about Comcast), this is a daring attempt to bypass entrenched cell phone companies with a direct-to-consumer wireless service."


Submission + - Robotic Gesture Control with Nintendo Wii and JAUS (

Mike Walker writes: "With the rapidly growing interest in robots for military applications, proprietary and expensive systems are becoming a thing of the past. The modern military wants open standards, open source, and cheap. Because of this, JAUS (The Joint Architecture for Unmanned Systems) provides a universal communications protocol for aerial, ground, and water agents. The University of Central Florida has developed a C++ (and an in-progress C#) open-source library to work with JAUS. Research at the Institute for Simulation and Training has begun to interface Jeff-Han-esque multitouch tables and Wiimotes for developing and testing control systems for vehicles. In this video, a machine learning algorithm has been developed that allows users to simply train gestures with a wiimote and after a small sample set use the gestures in real world applications. This video shows the beginning of how this technology can be used by using trained gestures with a JAUS interface to drive a vehicle. The vehicle is simply told what to do and internally completes the task permitting on-the-fly input changes and multi-user controls."
Input Devices

Submission + - Novint Falcon 3-D Controller Supported by Valve (

Erik J writes: "A number of Valve's PC shooters will soon support Novint's Falcon controller, part of a new agreement the companies have announced. Serving as an alternative to the traditional mouse-based FPS control scheme, the Novint Falcon allows for 'three-dimensional freedom of movement and tactile response.' Support for the peripheral will be introduced in an update through Valve's digital download platform Steam. Games slated to support the controller include Half-Life 2 and its two following episodes, Team Fortress 2, Portal, Counter-Strike: Source and the upcoming title Left 4 Dead."

Submission + - WoW gets more secure (

Avatar8 writes: WoW Insider announced the WoW authenticator, a RSA-like fob that will be associated with your WoW account and will generate a six digit code for verification upon login to the client. With the history of account hacking and scandals, this is no surprise and actually sounds like a smart move on Blizzard's part. Blizzard will charge $6.50 for the fob. Question is, should this be included? Is the extra protection worth it? Is this simply forcing people who share accounts long distance (a stupid act IMO) to buy individual accounts and pay for transfers? On a broader perspective, will other businesses and services follow suit and offer fobs? Google fob, Amazon fob or PayPal fob? How long before we see a single universal RSA fob that links all of our accounts?

Submission + - Women's bodies: Just like open-source software? (

carolsim writes: "So apparently at a software convention called ConFusion, a bunch of guys were standing around and talking about how awesome the world would be if they could just reach out and grab any woman's boobs. And a woman near them piped up that they could touch her breasts, and they all proceeded to grope her. Then, according to a post by some dude who calls himself the Ferrett, pictured above, they asked other women:

"It was exciting, of course. I won't deny it was sexual. But it was a miraculous sexuality that didn't feel dirty, but clean.

Emboldened, we started asking other people. And lo, in the rarified atmosphere of the con, few were offended and many agreed. And they also felt that strange charge. We went around the con, asking those who we thought might be amenable — you didn't just ask anyone, but rather the ones who'd dressed to impress — and generally, people responded. They understood how this worked instinctively, and it worked."


Submission + - Pilot's gun accidentally goes off on plane (

SonicSpike writes: "The gun carried by a US Airways pilot accidentally went off on a flight from Denver to Charlotte on Saturday, causing the plane to be pulled from service, the airline said on Monday. No one was injured by the shot, and the aircraft landed safely in Charlotte. Flight 1536 had 124 passengers, two pilots and three flight attendants aboard, US Airways said. The pilot was a Federal Flight Deck Officer, permissioned by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration to carry a firearm.



The Joy of the Flash Drive 332

An anonymous reader writes "A post to the C|Net site covers the numerous benefits of flash drives, such as speed, temperature, and battery consumption. The perk author Michael Kanellos is most fond of? The distinct lack of noise. 'The notebook I'm testing--a Dell Latitude D830 with a 64GB flash hard drive from Samsung--hasn't emitted a sound in three days. Flash drives, which store data in NAND flash memory, don't require motors or spinning platters. Thus, there are no whirring mechanical noises. Compare that with my T42 ThinkPad. It sounds like a guinea pig got trapped inside, particularly during the start-up phase. Vzoooot. Cronk, cronk, cronk. Zip, zip. (Pause.) Gurlagurlagurla...zweeee. '"
Hardware Hacking

Submission + - Best motherboards with large RAM capacity? 1

cortex writes: "I routinely need to analyze large datasets (principally using Matlab). I recently "upgraded" to 64-bit Vista so that I can access larger amounts of RAM. I know that various Linux distros have had 64-bit support for years. I also typically use Intel motherboards for their reliability, but currently Intel's desktop motherboards only support 8GB of RAM and their server motherboards are too expensive. Can anyone relate their experiences with working with Vista or Linux machines running with large RAM (>8GB). What is the best motherboard (Intel or AMD) and OS combination for workstation applications in terms of cost and reliability?"

Submission + - Porting GPL Code? 3

ripnet writes: If someone ports a GPL application to another language (say from c++ to c#), with reference to the original source code, is the new work covered by the GPL?

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