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Submission + - Infiniti to offer steer by wire next year (foxnews.com)

CaptSlaq writes: Fly by wire has long been a mainstay in aircraft, and now Infiniti is ready to try it out for your car. The design is interesting using cameras and other sensors to manage the small stuff, and has a mechanical fail over in the event something goes wrong. If the mechanical fail over could be removed, this would be quite the boon for automotive packaging, as the steering mechanism can be put outside the engine bay, and the steering wheel can easily be put anywhere else inside the car.

Submission + - Google's Profits Fall 20% Year-on-Year (bbc.co.uk)

MentalMooMan writes: Google's quarterly profits fell 20% compared to the same quarter a year ago, according to a mistakenly-released draft earnings report. The report was supposed to be released after the markets closed, but was submitted earlier. Google is blaming printing firm RR Donnelley for the mistake. Google stock is down 9% and the NASDAQ has halted trading until the earnings report is finalised by Google.

Submission + - Victory for Apple in "the Patent Trial of the Century" (wired.com) 2

pdabbadabba writes: The jury is in in the epic patent dispute between Apple and Samsung and Apple appears to be coming out on top. The court is still going through the 700+ items on the verdict form, but things seem to be going Apple's way so far. In the case of Apple's various UI patents, the jury is consistently ruling that Samsung not only violated Apple's patent, but did so willfully.

Comment Re:ACTA? (Score 2) 198

I would add to dear Cicero that a secret law is no law. The whole idea behind laws, if we're going back to Babylonian times, was that human beings were savages, and needed a code that the authorities could point to. "See, here's the list of shit you can't do." If a law is secret, how the hell are you supposed to comply?

Submission + - Ethanol Under Siege

Reservoir Hill writes: "Little over a year ago, ethanol was winning the hearts and wallets of both Main Street and Wall Street, with promises of greater US energy independence, fewer greenhouse gases and help for the farm economy. But the Wall Street Journal reports that critics now blame ethanol for pushing up food prices and dispute how much it really helps reduce the need for oil while environmentalists say additional ethanol production could strain water supplies and impair water quality and the EPA says that "ozone levels generally increase with increased ethanol use." President Bush gave ethanol a boost in his State of the Union speech in 2005 by calling for "strong funding" of renewable energy. Energy legislation that summer required oil companies to blend a total of 7.5 billion gallons of "renewable" fuels into the nation's fuel supply by 2012. Now the ethanol lobby is pushing for the Senate version of pending energy legislation, which includes a requirement that gasoline blenders use 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022 but formidable opponents such as the livestock, packaged-food and oil industries also have lawmakers' ears and what once looked like a slam-dunk could now languish in pending energy legislation that might not pass for weeks, if ever."

Submission + - Nuclear battery patent and tapping oil shale (blogspot.com)

nanotrends writes: "The uranium hydride nuclear "battery" is a self-contained nuclear reactor. It is not a radioisotope thermal generator. With a good design it can achieve 50% fuel burnup instead of 0.7-2.0% for existing reactors. The company Hyperion claims that the first reactors will cost $1400 per KW (about the same as the claims for the latest conventional nuclear reactors). The patent info on the "nuclear battery" indicates how it will operate. The first target market is to help enhance recovery of oil shale, so this would address peak oil. They claim they can lower costs of insitu recovery down to 30% of the cost of using natural gas for the same purpose and no water is needed for reactor cooling. Thorium hydride could also be used. If the company is successful they would blunt peak oil. The USA could be generating several million barrels per day of oil from the oil shale fields in Colorado and the reactors could displace coal power which kills 30,000 americans each year from air pollution and 1 million people world wide. Teller tried to make a uranium hydride bomb but he could only get 200 tons of TNT equivalent out of it. Not much more than the recent russian father of all bombs."

Submission + - Another challenge to the DCMA subpoena clause 1

tom_gram writes: A lawyer for a "a Jane/John Doe" recently filed a challenge to the RIAA's right to demand that a University provide the names of students associated with IP adresses that the RIAA suspects of sharing music files.

An article in the Columbus Dispatch describes the lawyers legal position: ""Here, we have the well-oiled and ready legal machine of the music industry poised against ... unemployed college students who depend on their parents, the government or benevolent institutions for their very sustenance," Kafantaris said. "It's an abuse of the legal system, and it is unconscionable."

The article describes the general approach of the RIAA, which has the college forward letters to students "that say they can settle the complaint at a "discount" (typically between $3,000 and $4,500)" but in this case are now demanding names of students who did not comply.

Submission + - Updated World Oil Forecasts (theoildrum.com)

The Oil Drum writes: "
World total liquids production (Fig 1) remains on a peak plateau since 2006 and is forecast to fall off this peak plateau in 2009. According to the IEA, the current peak production of 86.13 mbd occurred on July 2006 and only one year later, June 2007 total liquids production fell to an unexpectedly low 84.28 mbd. As long as demand continues increasing then prices will also continue increasing.
Many charts, graphs, and interpretations. Important data.



Submission + - Sunflower Oil + MeOH + Fungus Pellet = Biodiesel (wired.com)

BioDomez writes: Biodiesel is usually made by mixing vegetable oil with methanol and a sodium hydroxide and then heating it to make esters. An enzyme called lipase can do it at room temperature without a strongly basic catalyst. Unfortunately, lipase is not cheap. Researchers at IICT in Hyderabad, India have a simple solution. Why bother purifying the lipase? It would be easier to just find an organism that produces plenty of the enzyme and squish it into pellets. In this case, the fungus Metarhizium anisopliae does the trick.

Submission + - Fungi Make Biodiesel at Room Temperature

SoyChemist writes: Researchers at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology have used pellets made from the fungus Metarhizium anisopliae to produce biodiesel at room temperature. Usually, biodiesel is made by brewing vegetable oil with methanol and lye at high temperatures. That wastes a lot of energy, and thus partially defeats the point of making an alternative fuel. The researchers in Hyderabad mixed sunflower oil with methanol and trickled it through a glass column filled with fungus pellets. A lipase enzyme in the fungus converted the brew into biodiesel with a yield as high as 85 percent. Considering that the U.S. Department of Energy and BP are have pumped tons of money into synthetic biology for making alternative fuels, it is amazing to see what an apparently underfunded lab can do with natural organisms.

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