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The Military

Was America's Top Rocketeer a Communist Spy? The FBI Thought So 165

New submitter IMissAlexChilton (3748631) writes Frank Malina masterfully led the World War II effort to build U.S. rockets for jet-assisted takeoff and guided missiles. As described in IEEE Spectrum, Malina's motley crew of engineers and enthusiasts (including occultist Jack Parsons) founded the Jet Propulsion Lab and made critical breakthroughs in solid fuels, hypergolics, and high-altitude sounding rockets, laying the groundwork for NASA's future successes. And yet, under suspicion by the Feds at the war's end, Malina gave up his research career, and his team's efforts sank into obscurity. Taking his place: the former Nazi Wernher von Braun. Read "Frank Malina: America's Forgotten Rocketeer". Includes cool vintage footage of early JPL rocket tests.
United Kingdom

Restored Bletchly Park Opens 51

Graculus (3653645) writes with this excerpt from the BBC: Codebreakers credited with shortening World War Two worked in Bletchley Park, in structures built to last only a few years. Now, following a painstaking restoration, they have been brought back to life and Wednesday's official opening marks a remarkable turnaround from top secrecy to world wide attraction. With no photographs of the insides to work with, Bletchley Park looked to its most valuable resource — the veterans who worked there. A museum at the site has already been opened. The structures were once perilously close to being lost forever (until Google stepped in).
Google

Google Opens Up Street View Archives From 2007 To Today 25

mpicpp (3454017) writes with news that Google is publishing all Street View imagery back to 2007. Quoting Ars: "The feature hasn't rolled out to many accounts yet, but it looks like a small, draggable window will be added to the Street View interface. Just move the time slider around and you'll be able to jump through past images. Granted, Street View has only been around for a few years, so the archives only go back to 2007. A few of the events Google suggests browsing through are the building of One World Trade Center and the destruction and rebuilding of Onagawa, Japan after the 2011 earthquake. Besides being really cool, the move will save Google from having to choose a canonical Street View image for every location. If the current image is blacked-out or wrong in some way, you can just click back to the previous one."
Space

First Mathematical Model of 13th Century 'Big Bang' Cosmology 60

KentuckyFC writes "The 13th century thinker Robert Grosseteste is sometimes credited with predicting the Big Bang theory of cosmological expansion some eight centuries ahead of modern cosmologists. His theory, written in about 1225, is that the Universe began with a Big Bang-like explosion in which light expands in all directions giving matter its three-dimensional form. The expansion eventually stops when matter reaches a minimum density and this sets the boundary of the Universe. The boundary itself emits light towards the center of the universe and this interacts with matter, causing other nested spheres to form, corresponding to the fixed stars, the elements of earth, fire, water and so on. Now a team of physicists and experts on medieval philosophy have translated Grosseteste's theory into the modern language of mathematics and simulated it on computer. They say Grosseteste's theory produces universes of remarkable complexity but that only a tiny fraction of the parameter space corresponds to a universe of nested spheres like the one he predicted. What's interesting is that modern cosmologists face exactly the same problem. Their models predict many different kinds of universes and have to be fine-tuned to fit the universe we actually live in. 'The sensitivity to initial conditions resonates with contemporary cosmological discussion and reveals a subtlety of the medieval model which historians of science could never have deduced from the text alone,' conclude the team."
United Kingdom

Britain's Conservatives Scrub Speeches from the Internet 234

An anonymous reader writes news of an attempt to erase a bit of history. From the article: "The Conservative Party have attempted to delete all their speeches and press releases online from the past 10 years, including one in which David Cameron promises to use the Internet to make politicians 'more accountable'. The Tory party have deleted the backlog of speeches from the main website and the Internet Archive — which aims to make a permanent record of websites and their content — between 2000 and May 2010."
Portables

Don't Write Them Off: A Palm Retrospective 102

An anonymous reader writes "OSNews' managing editor Thom Holwerda has posted a lavish five-part retrospective on Palm, covering its history, user interface, internal technology, and competition. Holwerda first pays tribute to the pioneers of automatic handwriting recognition, including two remarkable stylus tablets (connected to mainframe computers) produced by RAND Corporation during the 1960s. The action picks up a couple decades later as Jeff Hawkins implements a handwriting recognition engine for his employer, the makers of the high end GRiD compass (MS-DOS) laptop. Hawkins dreamed of developing handwriting recognition for a device small enough to be carried around in one's pocket and cheap enough to be sold to a mass market. Along the way he had an epiphany: instead of trying to recognize the user's natural handwriting, why not create a simple alphabet that could be recognized reliably by the software? When Bill Gates entered the game, Hawkins had another big idea: why not compete against the Microsofts of the world by having fewer features, instead of more?" The handwriting recognition part is chock full of screenshots and video demos of early recognition systems, too.
Transportation

1967 Gyro-X Car To Be Restored 140

Zothecula writes "Back in 1967, California-based Gyro Transport Systems built a prototype vehicle known as the Gyro-X. The automobile had just two wheels, one in front and one in the back and, as the car's name implies, it utilized a built-in gyroscope to remain upright when not moving. Although its developers hoped to take the Gyro-X into production, the company went bankrupt, and the one-and-only specimen of the car became an orphan. For much of the past 40-plus years, that car has passed from owner to owner, its condition deteriorating along the way. Now, it's about to be restored to its former (weird) glory."
Science

How Million-Dollar Frauds Turned Photo Conservation Into a Mature Science 65

carmendrahl writes "Photos used to be second-class citizens in the art world, not considered as prestigious as paintings or sculpture. But that changed in the 1990s. As daguerrotypes and the like started selling for millions of dollars, fakes also slipped in. Unfortunately, the art world didn't have good ways of authenticating originals. Cultural heritage researchers had to play catch-up, and quickly. Two fraud cases, one involving avant garde photographer Man Ray, turned photo conservation from a niche field into a mature science."
Sun Microsystems

Of the Love of Oldtimers - Dusting Off a Sun Fire V1280 Server 281

vikingpower writes "Today, I decided to acquire a refurbished Sun Fire V1280 server, with 8 CPUs. The machine will soon or may already belong to a certain history of computing. This project is not about high-performance computing, much more about lovingly dusting off and maintaining a piece of hardware considered quirky by 2013 standards. And Now the question creeps to mind: what software would Slashdotters run on such a beast, once it is upgraded to 12 procs and, say, 24 GiB of RAM ?"
Patents

Should Inventions Be Automatically Owned By Your Employer? 291

An anonymous reader writes "Joshua Simmons authored an article for the N.Y.U. Journal of Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law. The article is a comparison of the developments in copyright law and patent law in the nineteenth century that resulted in copyright law developing a work made for hire doctrine while patent law only developed a patch work of judge-made employment doctrines. The article theorizes that patent law did not develop an inventions made for hire doctrine, because inventive activity was almost exclusively perceived to be performed by individuals. It goes on to suggest that, as patentable inventions today are generally perceived to be invented collaboratively, the Patent Act should be amended to borrow from the Copyright Act and adopt a principle similar to the work made for hire doctrine."
United Kingdom

The World's Oldest Original Digital Computer Springs Back Into Action At TNMOC 65

New submitter prpplague writes "After a three-year restoration project at The National Museum of Computing, the Harwell Dekatron (aka WITCH) computer will rebooted on 20 November 2012 to become the world's oldest original working digital computer. Now in its seventh decade and in its fifth home, the computer with its flashing lights and clattering printers and readers provides an awe-inspiring display for visiting school groups and the general public keen to learn about our rich computer heritage."
Google

17th Century Microscope Book Is Now Freely Readable 116

menno_h writes "In January 1665, Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary that he stayed up till two in the morning reading a best-selling page-turner, a work that he called 'the most ingenious book I read in my life.' It was not a rousing history of English battles or a proto-bodice ripper. It was filled with images: of fleas, of bark, of the edges of razors. The book was called Micrographia. It provided the reading public with its first look at the world beyond the naked eye. Its author, Robert Hooke, belonged to a brilliant circle of natural philosophers who — among many other things — were the first in England to make serious use of microscopes as scientific instruments. They were great believers in looking at the natural world for themselves rather than relying on what ancient Greek scholars had claimed. Looking under a microscope at the thousands of facets on an insect's compound eye, they saw things at the nanoscale that Aristotle could not have dreamed of. A razor's edge became a mountain range. In the chambers of a piece of bark, Hooke saw the first evidence of cells. Micrographia is is available on Google Books now."
Stats

Confidentiality Expires For 1940 Census Records 311

Hugh Pickens writes writes "In spring of 1940, the Census Bureau sent out more than 120,000 fact-gatherers, known as 'enumerators,' to survey the nation's 33 million homes and 7 million farms. Now as the 72 years of confidentiality expires, the National Archives website buckled under the load as the 1940 census records were released and 1.9 million users hit the archives servers in the first four hours the data went public and at one point, the Archives said, its computers were receiving 100,000 requests per second. Data miners will have the opportunity to pick and chip through more than 3.8 million digital images of census schedules, maps and other sociological minutiae. What will we learn from this mother lode? The pivotal year 1940 'marked the beginnings of a shift from a depressed peacetime to a prosperous wartime,' says David E. Kyvig, author of Daily Life in the United States, 1920-1939. The vast data dump, Kyvig says, will allow historians 'to look closely at particular communities and how people within them were doing in terms of employment, income and material comforts.' The 1940 census was the first Census that looked deeper into the details of much of American life. 'As we see how the country evolved over the subsequent 20 years, where we have aggregate census data ... we ought to be able to see more clearly how government spending bettered everyday life, confirmed Keynesian economic theory and revealed that, before the war, the New Deal did too little, rather than too much, to stimulate the U.S. economy."" Get all 18TB of it while it's hot.
Biotech

Double-Helix Model of DNA Paper Published 59 Years Ago 112

pigrabbitbear writes with musings on the anniversary of the groundbreaking paper on DNA structure by Watson and Crick. From the article: "Consider every organism that's ever lived on Earth. From dinosaurs to bacteria, the number is near infinite, and an overwhelming majority have their entire structures and lives dictated according to their DNA. The DNA molecule is life itself, and it's astonishing that we've only known what it looks like for less than a century. But it's true: In one of the most groundbreaking papers ever published, James D. Watson and Francis Crick described the double-helix structure of DNA in Nature, 59 years ago today."
Technology

Evidence of Lost Da Vinci Fresco Behind Florentine Wall 114

Lev13than writes "Art historians working in Florence's city hall claim to have found evidence of Leonardo da Vinci's lost Battle of Anghiari fresco. Painted in 1505, the fresco was covered over by a larger mural during mid-16th Century palace renovations. Historians have long speculated that the original work was protected behind a false wall. Attempts to reveal the truth have been complicated by the need to protect Vasari's masterpiece, Battle of Marciano, that now graces the room. By drilling small holes into previously-restored sections of Vasari's fresco, researchers used endoscopic cameras and probes to determine that a second wall does exist. They further claim that the hidden wall is adorned with pigments consistent with Leonardo's style. The research has set off a storm of controversy between those who want to find the lost work and others who believe that it is gone, and that further exploration risks destroying the existing artwork."

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