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Submission + - Pennsylvania Fracking Law Opens Up Drilling on College Campuses (motherjones.com)

PolygamousRanchKid writes: Last year, when Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett suggested offsetting college tuition fees by leasing parts of state-owned college campuses to natural gas drillers, more than a few Pennsylvanians were left blinking and rubbing their eyes. But it was no idle threat: After quietly moving through the state Senate and House, this week the governor signed into law a bill that opens up 14 of the state’s public universities to fracking, oil drilling, and coal mining on campus.

Environmentalists and educators are concerned that fracking and other resource exploitation on campus could leave students directly exposed to harms like explosions, water contamination, and air pollution.

Professor Bob Myers, who runs the environmental studies program at Lock Haven University, one of the schools at the edge of the Marcellus, says he understands the school system's economic concerns. Still, he's horrified at the prospect that PASSHE might install rigs near students. "I've become extremely concerned, disturbed, and disgusted by the environmental consequences of fracking," Myers says. "They've had explosions, tens of thousands of gallons of chemicals spilled. And we're going to put this on campus?"

AI

Submission + - A Program Learns Oriental Ink Painting (i-programmer.info)

mikejuk writes: Using reinforcement learning to make a computer paint like an oriental Sumi-e artist isn't just a matter of shouting "well done" — and yet when you look at the results that's what you want to do...
Three researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have attempted to teach a computer how to do it using standard reinforcement learning. When the program used the brush to create a smooth stroke then it was rewarded. After it had learned to use the brush it was set to rendering some photos and the results look very good — one even looks like a sketch from Angry Birds but I'm sure this is a cultural thing...

Toys

Submission + - Lego dart gun shoots pencils over 100 feet (blogspot.com) 1

DroidFreak writes: "What do you do when Mylar balloons get stuck on a ceiling 20 feet out of reach? You build a Lego dart gun to get them down of course! This "weapon" has a frame made of Legos; fires darts made of pencils, tape, and Kleenex; and is powered by rubber bands. It can shoot over 100 feet angled and can punch through aluminum cans. Best of all, my blog post includes instructions on how to build this gun so you too can have the power to fell Mylar balloons 20 feet above your head!"
Space

Submission + - It's Baaack! XB-37B finally lands. (af.mil)

ColdWetDog writes: The US Air Force / DARPA 'baby shuttle', the Boeing built XB-37B has just landed after 469 days in orbit. No official explanation of why controllers kept the mission going past the original duration of 270 days other than 'because we could'.

I, for one, welcome our long duration, unmanned orbital overlords.

China

Submission + - China to build the world's tallest building in just 90 days (cnngo.com)

another random user writes: A construction company based in Hunan is planning to erect an 838-meter building called Sky City later this year in just 90 days — a bit faster than the 5 years it took for the Burj Kalifa in Dubai.

There's a video showing some of their earlier buildings (like a 30 story hotel in just 15 days) here: http://kottke.org/12/06/chinese-firm-to-build-worlds-tallest-building-in-only-90-days

Hardware

Submission + - New PowerVR SGX reverse engineering project (openmoko.org)

An anonymous reader writes: FSF has set up a new PowerVR SGX reverse engineering project.

The goal is to write free and open replacement drivers and firmware and maybe do fancy stuff with the GPU shader cores (signal and image processing).

There isn't much more information since the project was just set up.
IMHO a good starting point with a general architectural description
of the PowerVR SGX system can be found in the DM3730 TRM [1].

Someone has found out a little [2] about the USSE instruction set,
which appears to include e.g. Multiply+Add, Fraction, Square Root,
Log, Min/Max, And, Or, Xor. I think this makes it quite useful for signal
processing. But that appears to be all what is known currently.

I encourage reverse engineering geeks to contribute to this project since it will make the GTA04 and OpenPhoenux even more useful for the FLOSS communities.

Power

Submission + - "Tin Whiskers" Could Triple the Capacity of Lithium-Ion Batteries (gizmag.com)

Zothecula writes: For over 60 years, electrical engineers have been trying to minimize the problem of tin whiskers. Growing on tin-plated electronics, the needle-like structures get up to ten millimeters long, and can cause short circuits. Instead of trying to eliminate them, however, Washington State University’s Prof. Grant Norton has been looking into ways of growing them – albeit in a controlled manner. His research has led to the creation of a tin battery anode, which he claims could triple the capacity of lithium-ion batteries.

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