coondoggie writes: "There is really so much junk floating around in space the government needs help keeping track of it all. This week the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced a program to utilize amateur astronomers to help watch space for any dangerous junk that maybe be threatening satellites or other spacecraft and even the Earth. If you have a telescope, great but the program will even install equipment if you are in a strategic area the government want to watch."
coondoggie writes: "The battle over access to rare earth materials, critical components of all manner of advanced technologies from smartphones and computers to aircraft and cars, raged again this week as the United States, Europe and Japan joined forces to challenge China's restrictions on exports of the metals. The crux of the situation: China controls some 95% of the world's rare earth materials and sets prices and access to the materials willy-nilly and of course has threatened to cut off access to the stuff at the drop of a hat."
coondoggie writes: "Had to pass this one along. Seems CIA Director David Petraeus made a computer engineering joke to start of his speech at the recent In-Q-Tel CEO Summit. It goes like this: “I recalled the story of the four engineers driving home from one of our partner startups in Silicon Valley—a mechanical engineer, a chemical engineer, an electrical engineer, and a computer engineer...."
coondoggie writes: "Natural gas has never been much of an option for US car drivers and its going to take a lot of effort by the government and auto manufactures to make it a viable alternative to gas.
But that's just what a $10 million program from the Department of Energy's advanced project development group The Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy (ARPA-E) aims to start anyway. ARPA-E's Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy (MOVE) program wants to develop system "that could enable natural gas vehicles with on-board storage and at-home refueling with a five-year payback or upfront cost differential of $2,000, which excludes the balance of system and installation costs.""
coondoggie writes: "Challenges from US government agencies are all the rage these days and the Environmental Protection Agency today became the latest group to issue one: Take cool pictures of your surrounding environment to become part of historical record. The EPA's Locations Challenge looks to update a 40-year old agency project known as "Documerica" which included more than 15,000 photographs of images of American environmental problems and everyday life. In the 1970s the EPA hired freelance photographers to capture images relating to environmental problems for the project."
coondoggie writes: "Given the current level of disarray and ineptitude of the elected officials in Washington DC right now this news probably shouldn’t be all that shocking: Apple with its $76 billion in the bank has more cash than the US with its almost $74 billion."
coondoggie writes: "Publically available data that could be aggregated and used by intelligent systems to predict future events is out there, if you can harness the technology to utilize it. That's one of the driving ideas behind a program that the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) group will detail at a Proposer's Day conference in Washington, DC next month. The program, known as the Open Source Indicators (OSI) will aim to "develop methods for continuous, automated analysis of publicly available data in order to anticipate and/or detect societal disruptions, such as political crises, disease outbreaks, economic instability, resource shortages, and natural disasters," IARPA stated."
coondoggie writes: "Federal district courts have been prohibited from allowing any sort of electronic dissemination of trials since 1946, but that is about to change.
Fourteen federal trial courts and 100 judges have been selected to take part in the federal Judiciary's three-year digital video pilot, which will begin July 18 and will go a long way towards determining the effect of cameras in courtrooms."
coondoggie writes: "The development of the commercial space industry has in the past been slow and deliberate but that seems like it's about to change with a whirlwind of developments that could shape or break its immediate future.
First, today the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics is holding a hearing to go over the Federal Aviation Administration's 2012 budget request which includes close to $27 million — nearly a 75% increase over 2010 — in the budget for the group tasked with overseeing commercial space development..."
coondoggie writes: "The cost of gold is skyrocketing, with the price today closing at $1,452.50 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. With that crazy number, which experts say is a result of US government shut-down uncertainty and the war in Libya, comes the scammers of course, and an uptick in thefts of the prized metal."
coondoggie writes: "Sometimes when you are so far behind in a particular game of strategy, it's ok to fallback, regroup and slowly reevaluate your plan of attack. That's about where the US is right now — in the regrouping phase, as the Department of Energy today sent about its second Request For Information plea to help it assess the rare earth materials world and develop some sort of plan of attack by the end of the year. The crux of the situation: China controls some 97% of the world's rare earth materials — and currently sells them for $44,361 a ton — almost double 2010 prices , according to the Wall Street Journal."
coondoggie writes: The U.S. federal government conducts way too much domestic spying on citizens, by too many federal agencies and targeting people based on their religion and political activity Famous FBI-whistleblower-turned-ACLU-attorney, Mike German, says. “We've documented intelligence activities targeting or obstructing First Amendment-protected activity in 33 states and DC,” he says. He says that citizens need to be aware of the enormous cost of all of this surveillance and realize that “ there's no evidence any of it actually make us safer. We've sacrificed our privacy for no security benefit.” In fact, citizens can’t get a full handle on how much money is being spent on domestic survellience, as budget information has been labeled classified for one of the big programs, the National Intelligence Program
coondoggie writes: If wind is ever to be a significant part of the energy equation in this country we'll need to take it offshore — into the deep oceans. Large offshore wind objects could harness about more than 4,000 GW of electricity according to a massive report on wind energy out this week from the US Department of Energy.
coondoggie writes: It's a huge undertaking but the overarching strategy to protect US assets from cyber attack remains pretty much just a paper plan. Of the 24 recommendations for online infrastructure protection in President Obama's 2009 cyber policy review, only two have been fully implemented, 22 are partially implemented, according to a report today from the watchdogs at the Government Accountability Office.
coondoggie writes: A small army of 100 scientists and 40 sophisticated vehicles and unmanned aircraft are set to storm the Midwest chasing tornadoes looking to get a better understanding of the dangerous storms and help forecasters predict the destructive events. The VORTEX2 armada — sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — will be spending its second tornado season traversing South Dakota, Iowa, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma looking to help scientists better understand the origin, structure and evolution of tornadoes. The project, VORTEX2--Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes-will run May 1st through June 15th, 2010.