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Australia

Aussie Company Planning To Use Drones For Textbook Delivery 178

First time accepted submitter Michael Harris writes "According to The Age, an Australian company plans to use autonomous quadropters to deliver text books to University students in Sydney. Apparently the drone will locate you via your smartphone's GPS, fly autonomously to your location, and drop the book into your hands."
Medicine

Scientists Recover Black Death RNA From Exhumed Victims 105

Richard.Tao writes "Scientists have recovered the RNA of the virus that caused the plague by digging through an English mass grave, and compiling [from several partial examples] the genetics of the virus. Though the plague still persists, scientists have believe the ancient strain was different due to a different onset of symptoms."
Biotech

E. Coli Can Be Used To Clean Up Nuclear Waste 102

jerryjamesstone writes "Researchers have found that E. coli can be used to recover uranium from tainted waters and can even be used to clean up nuclear waste. Using the bacteria along with inositol phosphate, the bacteria breaks down the phosphate — also called phytic acid — to free the phosphate molecules. The phosphate then binds to the uranium forming a uranium-phosphate precipitate on the cells of the bacteria. Those cells can then be harvested to recover the uranium." What has made this 14-year-old process economically feasible is the use of inositol phosphate, which is a cheap waste material from the production feedstock from plant material.
Government

Mexico Decriminalizes Small-Scale Drug Possession 640

Professor_Quail notes an AP story that begins, "Mexico enacted a controversial law Thursday decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs while encouraging free government treatment for drug dependency. The law sets out maximum 'personal use' amounts for drugs, also including LSD and methamphetamine. People detained with those quantities will no longer face criminal prosecution when the law goes into effect Friday." An official in the attorney general's office said, "This is not legalization, this is regulating the issue and giving citizens greater legal certainty... for a practice that was already in place." In 2006, the US criticized a similar bill that had no provisions for mandatory treatment, and the then-president sent it back to Congress for reconsideration.
Software

Smarter Clients Via ReverseHTTP and WebSockets 235

igrigorik writes "Most web applications are built with the assumption that the client / browser is 'dumb,' which places all the scalability requirements and load on the server. We've built a number of crutches in the form of Cache headers, ETags, and accelerators, but none has fundamentally solved the problem. As a thought experiment: what if the browser also contained a Web server? A look at some of the emerging trends and solutions: HTML 5 WebSocket API and ReverseHTTP."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Playing a First-Person Shooter Using Real Guns 225

Blake writes "A group called Waterloo Labs rigged up a few accelerometers to a large wall and projected a first-person shooter onto it. Using some math, they can triangulate the position of impacts on the wall, so naturally they found someone with a gun and bought a large case of ammunition. Even cooler, this group usually posts a 'how we did it' video a few weeks after a project's debut, including source code."
Biotech

Revived Microbe May Hold Clues For ET Lifeforms 126

krou writes "Science Daily is reporting that a microbe, Herminiimonas glaciei, buried some 3 km under glacial ice in Greenland, and believed to have been frozen for some 120,000 years, has been brought back to life (abstract). The microbe, some ten to fifty times smaller than E. coli, was brought back over several months by slowly incubating it at gradually increasing temperatures. After 11.5 months, the microbe began to replicate. Scientists believe that it could help us understand how life may exist on other planets. Dr. Jennifer Loveland-Curtze, who headed up the team of scientists from Pennsylvania State University, said: 'These extremely cold environments are the best analogues of possible extraterrestrial habitats. ... [S]tudying these bacteria can provide insights into how cells can survive and even grow under extremely harsh conditions, such as temperatures down to -56C, little oxygen, low nutrients, high pressure and limited space.' She also added that it 'isn't a pathogen and is not harmful to humans, but it can pass through a 0.2 micron filter, which is the filter pore size commonly used in sterilization of fluids in laboratories and hospitals. If there are other ultra-small bacteria that are pathogens, then they could be present in solutions presumed to be sterile. In a clear solution very tiny cells might grow but not create the density sufficient to make the solution cloudy.'"
Security

Hacker Jeff Moss Sworn Into Homeland Security Advisory Council 139

Wolfgang Kandek writes "Hacker Jeff Moss, founder of computer security conferences DEFCON and Black Hat, has been sworn in as one of the new members of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) of the DHS. Moss, who goes by the handle 'the Dark Tangent' says he was surprised to be asked to join the council and that he was nominated to bring an 'outside perspective' to its meetings. He said, 'I know there is a new-found emphasis on cybersecurity, and they're looking to diversify the members and to have alternative viewpoints. I think they needed a skeptical outsider's view because that has been missing.'"
IT

The 100 Degree Data Center 472

miller60 writes "Are you ready for the 100-degree data center? Rackable Systems has introduced a new enclosure that it says can run high-density racks safely in environments as hot as 104 degrees (40 degrees C), offering customers the option of saving energy in their data center. Most data centers operate in a range between 68 and 74 degrees. Raising the thermostat can lower the power bill, allowing data centers to use less power for cooling. But higher temperatures can be less forgiving in the event of a cooling failure, and not likely to be welcomed by employees working in the data center."
Biotech

Florida Lab Gets Pregnant 149

Synthetic Biology, a relatively new field, is seeking to find out what happened to a bunch of chemicals to make them capable of supporting a metabolism, replicating, and evolution. A Florida lab is showing some of the most promising advancements in this direction with their AEGIS (Artificially Expanded Genetic Information System) experiment. "AEGIS is not self-sustaining, at least not yet, and with 12 DNA building blocks -- as opposed to the usual four -- there's little chance it will be confused with natural life. Still, Benner is encouraged by the results. 'It's evolving. It's doing what we designed it to do,' said Benner, a biochemist with the Gainesville, Fla.-based Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution. In addition to providing an example of how alien life might be cobbled together, synthetic biology has a broad array of uses on the home front."

Researchers One Step Closer To Creating Life 292

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute are potentially one step closer to creating life. In an experiment they recently created enzymes that can replicate and evolve. 'It kind of blew me away,' said team member Tracey Lincoln of the Scripps Research Institute, who is working on her Ph.D. 'What we have is non-living, but we've been able to show that it has some life-like properties, and that was extremely interesting.'"
Biotech

Repairing Genetic Mutations With Lasers? 65

Roland Piquepaille writes "German researchers at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU) think they've proved that genetic information can be controlled by light. The group studied the interaction between the four DNA bases — adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G), and thymine (T) — by using femtosecond time-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy. The researchers think that they've demonstrated that DNA strands differ in their light sensitivity depending on their base sequences. The team thinks that it might be possible in the future to repair gene mutations using laser radiation. One of the project leaders said that 'it might even be possible under some circumstances to make transistors from DNA that would work through the hydrogen bonds.' It's not the first time I've heard about DNA computing, but this new approach looks promising."
Security

Feds Tighten DNS Security On .Gov 140

alphadogg writes "When you file your taxes online, you want to be sure that the Web site you visit — www.irs.gov — is operated by the Internal Revenue Service and not a scam artist. By the end of next year, you can be confident that every U.S. government Web page is being served up by the appropriate agency. That's because the feds have launched the largest-ever rollout of a new authentication mechanism for the Internet's DNS. All federal agencies are deploying DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) on the .gov top-level domain, and some expect that once that rollout is complete, banks and other businesses might be encouraged to follow suit for their sites. DNSSEC prevents hackers from hijacking Web traffic and redirecting it to bogus sites. The Internet standard prevents spoofing attacks by allowing Web sites to verify their domain names and corresponding IP addresses using digital signatures and public-key encryption."
Toys

Practical Jetpack Available "Soon" 237

Ifandbut was one of several readers to point out the arrival in Oshkosh of the first practical jetpack. It was invented by a New Zealander Glenn Martin, who has been working on the idea for 27 years. He plans to sell the gizmos for somewhere in the neighborhood of $100K. While previous attempts at jetpacks have flown for at most a couple of minutes, Mr. Martin's invention can stay aloft for half an hour. Both "practical" and "jetpack" may need quotation marks, however: The device is huge and it's incredibly noisy. And, "It is also not, to put it bluntly, a jet. 'If you're very pedantic,' Mr. Martin acknowledged, a gasoline-powered piston engine runs the large rotors. Jet Skis, he pointed out, are not jets, and the atmospheric jet stream is not created by engines. 'This thing flies on a jet of air,' he said. Or, more simply, it flies."
Transportation

Chrysler To Offer Wireless Internet In 2009 Models 258

sunny in Seattle writes "'Have you ever thought rush hour on the 405 Freeway might be more bearable if you could check your e-mail, shop for a book on Amazon, place some bids on EBay and maybe even, if nobody is looking, download a little porn? Then perhaps you should be driving a Chrysler.' LA Times reports that the nation's third-largest automaker is set to announce Thursday that it's making wireless Internet an option on all its 2009 models. The mobile hotspot, called UConnect Web, would be the first such technology from any automaker."

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