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Submission + - SPAM: Nuclear's Glacial Pace

mdsolar writes: Climate change has forced us to rethink how we get electricity. Use of renewable sources like solar and wind is rapidly increasing, while nuclear, though long a reliable source of carbon-free electricity, is not. Meanwhile, a number of startups are promising cheap, safe, proliferation-resistant nuclear energy in the next decade (see “Fail-Safe Nuclear Power”).

Can these startups fulfill their promises? Outside of China, nuclear power is expanding nowhere. China has 21 new reactors under construction; Russia has nine, India six. The U.S. is bringing five new plants online, but since 2012, five other reactors have been retired, with seven more to be shuttered by 2019. California’s Diablo Canyon plant recently announced it will close by 2025. With other plants closing in Japan, Germany, and the U.K., more reactors may be decommissioned than built in the near future.

Link to Original Source

Submission + - 2016 Hugo Award Winners Announced

Dave Knott writes: The recipients of the 2016 Hugo awards have been announced. Presented annually since 1955, the Hugos are (along with the Nebulas) one of science fiction's two most prestigious awards. They are voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Convention ("Worldcon"), the most recent of which, MidAmeriCon II was held this past weekend in Kansas City. Notable winners include:

Best Novel: The Fifth Season , by N.K. Jemisin
Best Novella: Binti , by Nnedi Okorafor
Best Novelette: "Folding Beijing", by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu
Best Short Story: "Cat Pictures Please", by Naomi Kritzer
Best Graphic Story: The Sandman: Overture , written by Neil Gaiman, art by J.H. Williams III
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: The Martian , screenplay by Drew Goddard, directed by Ridley Scott
Best Dramatic Presentation, ShortForm: Jessica Jones: "AKA Smile", written by Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, and Jamie King, directed by Michael Rymer

As in the previous two years, the 2016 Hugos were subject to considerable controversy, as highly-politicized factions within science fiction fandom attempted to influence the awards via a concerted campaign that influenced the nomination process. Those actions once again proved unsuccessful, as the nominees put forth by these activists failed to win in any of the major awards categories.

Submission + - The flying car again (rdmag.com)

mi writes: Federal Aviation Administration just authorized Terrafugia — one of the companies developing a flying car — to operate small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (SUAS) of its TF-X flying car for research and development purposes.

According to the company, the permission "will allow Terrafugia to test the hovering capabilities of a one-tenth scale TF-X vehicle and gather flight characteristics data that will drive future design choices".

Submission + - DuckDuckGo Grew 74% in 2015

An anonymous reader writes: DuckDuckGo, the privacy-focused web search engine startup, continues to grow rapidly. But it has also struggled to crack the mainstream. Through Dec. 15, DuckDuckGo received 3.25 billion search queries this year, according to its publicly posted traffic statistics. That’s up 74% over the same period last year. Monday, Dec. 14 was its first day with more than 12 million direct queries.

Submission + - New Video Software from Disney can Merge Takes and Create New Ones (Post Prod) (engadget.com)

Tulsa_Time writes: A new tool out of Disney Research's labs could turn an ingénue's semi-decent attempt into a finely nuanced performance. This software called FaceDirector has the capability to merge together separate frames from different takes to create the perfect scene. It does that by analyzing both the actor's face and audio cues to identify the frames that correspond with each other. As such, directors can create brand new takes during post-production with zero input from the actor. They don't even need specialized hardware like 3D cameras for the trick — it works even with footage taken by regular 2D cams.

Submission + - Simple robots, complex behaviors: A controls perspective on Braitenberg Vehicles (robohub.org)

Hallie Siegel writes: Valentino Braitenberg was a neuroscientist and cyberneticist who used very simple electro-mechanical vehicles as a way to communicate how animal psychology could have evolved. His thought exercises, generally referred to as Braitenberg Vehicles, begin as a single sensor connected directly to a single actuator and evolve through multiple iterations into vehicles that can remember, have the ability to predict, and develop an ego. Controls expert Brian Douglas takes us through an informative and well-paced video tutorial on Braitenberg's concepts and how they apply to control systems.

Submission + - Scientists Invent a New Steel as Strong as Titanium (popularmechanics.com) 1

schwit1 writes: South Korean researchers have solved a longstanding problem that stopped them from creating ultra-strong, lightweight aluminum-steel alloys.

Today a team of material scientists at Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea announced what they're calling one of the biggest steel breakthroughs of the last few decades: an altogether new type of flexible, ultra-strong, lightweight steel. This new metal has a strength-to-weight ratio that matches even our best titanium alloys, but at one tenth the cost, and can be created on a small scale with machinery already used to make automotive-grade steel. The study appears in Nature.

Submission + - It wasn't just an asteroid that killed the dinosaurs

schwit1 writes: Scientists have now obtained enough solid data to confirm that the large extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was caused not just by the Yucatan asteroid impact but also by the gigantic volcanic event in India called the Deccan Traps.

The researchers said the asteroid strike occurred 66.04 million years ago, plus or minus about 30,000 years. They said eruptions in a region called the Deccan Traps were already underway at a lower intensity but dramatically accelerated after the asteroid strike as if the powerful impact triggered it. The dating method they used found this acceleration began within 50,000 years of the impact, but it could have been in the mere days, months or years afterward. "Within measurement error, they're simultaneous," said volcanologist Loyc Vanderkluysen of Philadelphia's Drexel University. "The two processes in tandem caused the extinctions," added Paul Renne, director of the Berkeley Geochronology Center and a University of California, Berkeley geologist, who led the study in the journal Science.

Though many planetary scientists have discounted the Deccan Traps for decades, paleontologists have tended to favor it as a major factor in the extinction. This new study suggests that both were involved, which was the theory held by most of the more reasonable scientists in both fields. While many liked to push one or the other theory in the press, the better scientists considered both a possible factor and have been working to determine this possibility.

Submission + - Have The Robots Broken The Stock Market? (seekingalpha.com)

walterbyrd writes: The markets were sloppy last week, and we went out on a bad note. Sentiment was very negative. And when Chinese stocks continued to crash on Sunday, it looked like we might be on the verge of something nasty. Uncertainty was everywhere. And then the robots took control. I watched the futures market almost all night on Sunday, and we were seeing 100-point moves in the Dow Futures contract within a few minutes. This was not human controlled. And it was not rational.

Submission + - More than half of psychological results can't be reproduced (independent.co.uk)

Bruce66423 writes: A new study trying to replicated results reported in allegedly high quality journals failed to do so in over 50% of cases. Those of us from a hard science background always had our doubts about this sort of stuff — it's interesting to see it demonstrated — or rather, as the man says: "Psychology has nothing to be proud of when it comes to replication,” Charles Gallistel, president of the Association for Psychological Science.

Submission + - Open-Source Mesa 3D Library/Drivers Now Support OpenGL 4 (phoronix.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The Mesa 3D project that is the basis of the open-source Linux/BSD graphics drivers now supports OpenGL 4.0 and most of OpenGL 4.1~4.2. The OpenGL 4.0 enablement code landed in Mesa Git yesterday/today and more GL 4.1/4.2 patches are currently being reviewed for the Intel, Radeon, and Nouveau open-source GPU drivers.

Submission + - Smartphone apps fraudulently collecting revenue from invisible ads (bloomberg.com)

JoeyRox writes: Thousands of mobile applications are downloading ads that are never presented to users but which collect an estimated $850 million in fraudulent revenue from advertisers per year. The downloading of these invisible ads can slow down users' phones and consume up to 2GB of bandwidth per day. Forensiq, an online technology firm fighting fraud for advertisers, found over 5,000 apps displayed unseen ads on both Apple and Android devices. "The sheer amount of activity generated by apps with fake ads was what initially exposed the scam. Forensiq noticed that some apps were calling up ads at such a high frequency that the intended audience couldn’t possibly be actual humans".

Submission + - The college majors most likely to marry each other

schnell writes: The blog Priceonomics has published an analysis showing students in which college majors end up marrying another student with that same major. Religious studies (with 21% of students marrying another studying the same field) tops the list among all students, followed by general science. Perhaps unsurprising is that some majors with gender disparities show a high in-major marriage rate among the less represented group — for example, 39% of women engineering majors marry a fellow student in their field, while among men 43% studying nursing and 38% studying elementary education do likewise. The blog concludes that your choice of major may unwittingly decide your choice of spouse, and depending on how well that field is paid, your economic future.

Submission + - Brainets - Researchers Establish Brain-To-Brain Networks in Monkeys and Rats (hacked.com)

giulioprisco writes: Neuroscientists at Duke University have linked the brains of groups of monkey and rats in networks, or "brainets," and demonstrated how the linked brains of two or more animals can work together to complete simple tasks. In separate experiments, the brains of monkeys and the brains of rats have been linked, allowing the animals to exchange sensory and motor information in real time to control movement or complete computations.

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