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Robotics

Giant Robotic Jellyfish Unveiled by Researchers 43

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, an anonymous reader writes in with news about a giant robot jellyfish. As if there weren't enough real jellyfish around to trigger our thalassophobia, researchers at Virginia Tech have created Cryo -- an eight-armed autonomous robot that mimics jelly movement with the help of a flexible silicone hat. The man-sized jellybot altogether dwarfs previous efforts, hence the upgrade from small tank to swimming pool for mock field tests. And unlike the passively propelled bots we've seen recently, Cryo runs on batteries, with the researchers hoping to better replicate the energy-efficient nature of jelly movement to eventually increase Cryo's charge cycle to months instead of hours. That's also the reason these robotic jellyfish are getting bigger -- because the larger they are, the further they can go."
Power

Laser Fusion's Brightest Hope 115

First time accepted submitter szotz writes "The National Ignition Facility has one foot in national defense and another in the future of commercial energy generation. That makes understanding the basic justification for the facility, which boasts the world's most powerful laser system, more than a little tricky. This article in IEEE Spectrum looks at NIF's recent missed deadline, what scientists think it will take for the facility to live up to its middle name, and all of the controversy and uncertainty that comes from a project that aspires to jumpstart commercial fusion energy but that also does a lot of classified work. NIF's national defense work is often glossed over in the press. This article pulls in some more detail and, in some cases, some very serious criticism. Physicist Richard Garwin, one of the designers of the hydrogen bomb, doesn't mince words. When it comes to nuclear weapons, he says in the article, '[NIF] has no relevance at all to primaries. It doesn't do a good job of mimicking secondaries...it validates the codes in regions that are not relevant to nuclear weapons.'"
The Military

United States Begins Flying Stealth Bombers Over South Korea 567

skade88 writes "The New York Times is reporting that the United States has started flying B-2 stealth bomber runs over South Korea as a show of force to North Korea. The bombers flew 6,500 miles to bomb a South Korean island with mock explosives. Earlier this month the U.S. Military ran mock B-52 bombing runs over the same South Korean island. The U.S. military says it shows that it can execute precision bombing runs at will with little notice needed. The U.S. also reaffirmed their commitment to protecting its allies in the region. The North Koreans have been making threats to turn South Korea into a sea of fire. North Korea has also made threats claiming they will nuke the United States' mainland."
Security

Submission + - Cyber Attack Test Destroys Power Plant Generator (cnn.com) 1

Somegeek writes: CNN has revealed that there was a test performed in March 2007 where the Department of Homeland Security evaluated what a cyber attack could do against a power plant. The attackers in the classified test were able to take control of the plant's control software and modify the settings of a large generator to the point where it self-destructed. The story relates that until then, they had always believed that the worst that could happen was that attackers would be able to turn something off. An economist looked at a scenario where a third of the US was without power for three months due to destroyed power plant equipment and put a price tag on the massive attack at 700 billion dollars.

They have been working on fixing the vulnerabilities that they found at power plants across the country, but how many other plant control systems need to be fixed? Is it possible to look at severing all computer connections between plant control systems and all other networks and expect them to still function?

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