thecarchik writes: Doug Parks, vehicle line executive for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, GM's range-extended electric vehicle, confirmed Tuesday that the company loses money on every Volt it sells. The expensive 16-kilowatt-hour battery pack, which likely costs GM somewhere between $8,000 and $12,000, is clearly too expensive to let the company build hundreds of thousands of Volts right away. Just 10,000 Volts will be built in 2011, though GM is working to increase that number. GM plans to chip away incrementally to lower the costs of the specialized components in the Volt, especially the power electronics. The price of consumer lithium-ion cells has fallen 6 to 8 percent annually since their 1989 launch; the large-format cells in automotive packs seem likely to follow the same curve and as costs are lowered the Volt may stop being a loss for the company/
Csiko writes: Researchers at Boston University's department of cognitive and neural systems work on an artificial brain implemented with Memristors. A Memristor is a new class of electronic device that completes the two-terminal passive elements resistor, capacitor and inductor. Also theoretically described, solid state versions of memristors have not been implemented until recently. Now researchers in Boston claim that memristors are the new key technology to implement highly integreated powerful artificial brains on cheap and widely available hardware within five years.
TechRev_AL writes: As part of its Constellation program, NASA has set about creating a completely new space suit. David Clark Company, in partnership with Oceaneering International, is designing suit, which could be used for missions to the space station, the moon, and eventually Mars. It has interchangeable parts, so the arms, legs, boots, and helmet can be switched. The first configuration, shown here, is designed for launch, descent, and emergency activities, while the second design is meant for lunar exploration. To put the new suit in perspective, this gallery looks back at all of NASA's previous space suits.
Hugh Pickens writes: "Scientific American reports that although cursing is notoriously decried in the public debate, scientists have just discovered that swearing may serve an important function in relieving pain. "Swearing is such a common response to pain that there has to be an underlying reason why we do it," says Richard Stephens of Keele University in England. A study measured how long college students could keep their hands immersed in cold water. During the chilly exercise, they could repeat an expletive of their choice or chant a neutral word. When swearing, the 67 student volunteers reported less pain and on average endured about 40 seconds longer. How swearing achieves its physical effects is unclear, but the researchers speculate that brain circuitry linked to emotion is involved. Earlier studies have shown that unlike normal language, which relies on the outer few millimeters in the left hemisphere of the brain, expletives hinge on evolutionarily ancient structures buried deep inside the right half like the amygdala, an almond-shaped group of neurons that can trigger a fight-or-flight response in which our heart rate climbs and we become less sensitive to pain. But cursing is more than just aggression, explains psychologist Timothy Jay who has studied our use of profanities for the past 35 years. "It allows us to vent or express anger, joy, surprise, happiness," says Jay. "It's like the horn on your car, you can do a lot of things with that, it's built into you.""
from the who-or-what-do-you-trust dept.
Michael_Curator writes "It's no secret that commercial airplanes are heavily computerized, but as the mystery of Air France Flight 447 unfolds, we need to come to grips with the fact that in many cases, airline pilots' hands are tied when it comes to responding effectively to an emergency situation. Boeing planes allow pilots to take over from computers during emergency situations, Airbus planes do not. It's not a design flaw — it's a philosophical divide. It's essentially a question of what do you trust most: a human being's ingenuity or a computer's infinitely faster access and reaction to information. It's not surprising that an American company errs on the side of individual freedom while a European company is more inclined to favor an approach that relies on systems. As passengers, we should have the right to ask whether we're putting our lives in the hands of a computer rather than the battle-tested pilot sitting up front, and we should have right to deplane if we don't like the answer."
from the great-distro-but-mandrake-was-a-cooler-name dept.
Frederik writes "Mandriva just released the 2009 Spring version of its distribution. Highlights of this new version include vastly improved boot times thanks to Speedboot, KDE 4.2.2, GNOME 2.26.1, XFCE 4.6 and LXDE desktop environments, a completely rewritten Mandriva Security Centre and improved firewall and network configuration tools, OLPC Sugar environment, QT Creator development environment, Songbird audio player, ext4 support and many more. Check out the release tour and release notes for more information or immediately start downloading it."
jd 0001 writes: The BBC are reporting that "Bendy-buses with the slogan 'There's probably no God' could soon be running on the streets of London. The atheist posters are the idea of the British Humanist Association (BHA) and have been supported by prominent atheist Professor Richard Dawkins. The BHA planned only to raise £5,500, which was to be matched by Professor Dawkins, but it has now raised more than £36,000 of its own accord. " The donations page was showing a total of nearly £40K the last time I looked. How long before something similar comes to the US?
knorthern knight writes: "Users of the Canadian family-run ISP Teksavvy (which is popular amongst Canadian P2P users precisely because it does *NOT* throttle P2P) have started noticing that Bell Canada is throttling traffic before it reaches wholesale partners. According to Teksavvy CEO Rocky Gaudrault, Bell has implemented "load balancing" to "manage bandwidth demand" during peak congestion times — but apparently didn't feel the need to inform partner ISPs or customers. The result is a bevy of annoyed customers and carriers across the great white north. Story at http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Bell-Canada-Throttles-Wholesalers-Doesnt-Bother-To-Tell-Them-92915"
i_like_spam writes: The theory that the dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid impact, the K-T extinction, is well known and supported by fossil and geological evidence. Asteroid impact theory does not apply to the other fluctuations in biodiversity, however, which follow an approximate 62 million-year cycle. As reported in Science news, a new theory seems to explain periodic mass extinctions. The new theory found that oscillations in the Sun relative to the plane of the Milky Way correlate with changes in biodiversity on Earth. The researchers suggest that an increase in the exposure of Earth to extragalatic cosmic rays causes mass extinctions. Here is the original paper describing the finding.