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Sony To Boost Smartphone Batteries Because People Aren't Replacing Phones ( 210

Not too long ago, people would replace their phone every 18 months. But that isn't the case with most people now. According to new estimates, more people are now changing their phones after at least three years. The problem with this is that by the end of two-three years, the battery on the phone reaches a stage where it gets really annoying. Sony has a solution, or so it says. From The Guardian:Sony is trying to fix that, but not by fixing the battery. That's because the lithium ion cells within smartphones don't exactly need fixing -- they will continue to work for years -- but their ability to hold their original amount of charge rapidly diminishes with repeated recharging cycles. Everyone who finds themselves with a chunky battery pack for their new smartphone or desperately searching for a charger by mid-afternoon knows battery capacity is a never-ending headache that only gets worse as a smartphone, and its battery ages. Rather than fixing the battery, Sony wants to do something about the recharging. Jun Makino, Sony mobile's senior product marketing manager, said; "We've started learning your charging cycles so that our new Xperia X smartphones only complete charging to 100% when they estimate you're about to start using them, so that the damage caused by maintaining a battery at 100% is negated. This is important, a battery that's usually kept at a charge between 20% and 80% of its capacity is much healthier -- it's going to the extremes that wears it out at a faster rate. This is important, a battery that's usually kept at a charge between 20% and 80% of its capacity is much healthier - it's going to the extremes that wears it out at a faster rate. The Japanese electronics firm has partnered with Californian adaptive charging company Qnovo to put technology into its Xperia smartphones. This includes the new top-end Xperia XZ and Xperia X Compact, which Sony reckons will double the life of the battery to around four years.

Comment soyFACE experimental results (Score 5, Informative) 173

Free-Air Concentration Enrichment studies such as soyFACE artificially raise CO2 (among other variables) and monitor plant response. SoyFACE, as the name implies, is focused on soy, an important food crop. Imagine a crop field surrounded by CO2 sprayers and heaters to simulate elevated CO2 and its effects.

Findings from the experiment include that increased temperatures will likely reduce yields of soy, even at elevated CO2. Higher average temperatures also increased susceptibility to herbivory by the Japanese beetle.

A related meta including 228 experimental observations found that barley, rice, wheat, soybean, and potato all have lower protein content at elevated CO2.doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2007.01511.x

14 years of publications can be found here:

In short: even if water use efficiency were to increase, that does not result in increased yield, or crop quality.

Comment Re:nice to see the USA catching up (Score 2) 127

If timescales didn't matter your point would have some relevance. Zero sum over millions of years has a vastly different real world effect from zero sum over a growing season.

Zero sum over long time scale (burning coal) means an increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases, year over year. The fact that no Carbon was actually destroyed or created in the process is irrelevant here.

If you want to go down that road, let's just skip straight to "universe started, universe will end, nothing in the middle matters."

Comment Re:Why is diversity a goal? (Score 5, Insightful) 319

Well, the temperature that maximizes biodiversity across the planet.

Could you expand on why "biodiversity" ought to be the goal? If I had to pick something, I'd have picked "comfort of humans" or, perhaps, the humans' longevity or something like that.

Why do you pick "biodiversity"?

Maximizing biodiversity is a decent goal to have high on your list. The more organisms there are, the more resistant a given system is likely to be. If you've got one species of tree in a forest and beetles come and wipe out that species, you're in trouble. If you've got high biodiversity, you're more likely to have less trees that will be affected, plus a better chance that there's somebody that calls the beetle dinner.

Why should humans care about resilience? We derive a lot of services from natural systems. Protection from extreme events (flood, fire, insects, etc); diverse food stocks; tourism; unique chemicals for pharmaceuticals; groundwater purification; local weather stabilization; and so on. Even if you don't "like" nature, you derive a tremendous number of services from it. The best way to maintain longterm comfort/longevity of humans is to make sure those systems continue to be able to perform those services.


Dr. Frances Kelsey, Who Saved American Babies From Thalidomide, Dies At 101 278

circletimessquare writes: Plenty of regulations are bad (some because big business corrupts them) but the simple truth is modern society cannot function without effective government regulation. It keeps are food safe, our rivers clean, and our economy healthy. Passing away at age 101 Friday was a woman who personified this lesson. In 1960 the F.D.A. tasked Dr. Frances Kelsey with evaluating a drug used in Europe for treating morning sickness. She noticed something troubling, and asked the manufacturer William S. Merrell Co. for more data. "Thus began a fateful test of wills. Merrell responded. Dr. Kelsey wanted more. Merrell complained to Dr. Kelsey's bosses, calling her a petty bureaucrat. She persisted. On it went. But by late 1961, the terrible evidence was pouring in. The drug — better known by its generic name, thalidomide — was causing thousands of babies in Europe, Britain, Canada and the Middle East to be born with flipperlike arms and legs and other defects." Without Dr. Kelsey's scientific and regulatory persistence in the face of mindless greed, thousands of Americans would have suffered a horrible fate.

Short Sleepers Might Be Benefiting From a DNA Mutation 159

An anonymous reader writes: As someone definitely not in that category, I envy people who can get along with little sleep. I have sometimes secretly believed they're exaggerating. Maybe not. The BBC reports on DNA research that says there might be a genetic basis for the very low sleep needs that some people have. The article says that UC-San Francisco researchers "compared the genome of different family members. They discovered a tiny mutation in a gene called DEC2 that was present in those who were short-sleepers, but not in members of the family who had normal length sleep, nor in 250 unrelated volunteers. When the team bred mice to express this same mutation, the rodents also slept less but performed just as well as regular mice when given physical and cognitive tasks." If it's stuck in the genes, though, I guess I'll still want more hours in a row if I don't want to start hallucinating. So how many hours do you need? I seem to get along with six or seven, but sleep past noon on the occasional weekend day. Update: 07/09 19:24 GMT by T : The latest Freakonomics podcast has some interesting things to say about the economics of sleep, and hours-per-night is a big part of it.

Supercomputing Cluster Immersed In Oil Yields Extreme Efficiency 67

1sockchuck writes: A new supercomputing cluster immersed in tanks of dielectric fluid has posted extreme efficiency ratings. The Vienna Scientific Cluster 3 combines several efficiency techniques to create a system that is stingy in its use of power, cooling and water. VSC3 recorded a PUE (Power Usage Efficiency) of 1.02, putting it in the realm of data centers run by Google and Facebook. The system avoids the use of chillers and air handlers, and doesn't require any water to cool the fluid in the cooling tanks. Limiting use of water is a growing priority for data center operators, as cooling towers can use large volumes of water resources. The VSC3 system packs 600 teraflops of computing power into 1,000 square feet of floor space.

Judge Orders Dutch Government To Finally Take Action On Climate Promises 242

New submitter Errol backfiring writes: Although the Dutch government has promised to make sure carbon emissions are lowered considerably, they have consistently failed to take action. Dutch climate group Urgenda and Dutch citizens have gone to court to force the government to take action, and the verdict (linked page is in Dutch) is that the government must reduce emissions by at least 25% compared to 1990 leves.

This 25% cut is seen as the minimum effort needed to keep the people safe from climate change dangers. 25% to 40% is the norm in international climate policy. The verdict is also important for similar climate groups in other countries.

Comment how about some logical consistency? (Score 4, Insightful) 212

Not only was science not "wrong," but if science was wrong there would be no story. The science says that this was a statistically improbable event. If the science was wrong, this would happen all the time and the fact that it happened again wouldn't be newsworthy. So not only is this the dumb clickbait that we know it to be, but contradictory to the whole premise. No internal logical consistency; complete garbage.


Costs Soar on NASA Communications Upgrade Program 47

schwit1 writes A new GAO report has found that NASA's effort to upgrade the ground-based portion of its satellite communications system, used by both military satellites and manned spacecraft, is more than 30 percent over budget, with its completion now delayed two years to 2019. Worse, the GAO found that this problem program was actually one of three that have had budget problems. And that doesn't include the disastrously overbudget James Webb Space Telescope. "In its latest assessment of NASA's biggest programs, the U.S. Government Accountability Office identified the Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment (SGSS) as one of three — not counting the notoriously overbudget James Webb Space Telescope — that account for most of the projected cumulative cost growth this year. The others are the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission, which launched March 12, and the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, mission, the congressional watchdog agency said."

Comment Misleading Summary (Score 5, Insightful) 681

Summary is misleading. Nye basically says US as a whole is failing when it comes to educating average people about science. He admits that, sure, we have top top-tier institutions and scientists, but we need to do a better job educating the average person.

Hardly the swipe aimed specifically at Slashdotters that TFS makes it out to be. Furthermore, if we use /. as a case study, given some of the gems I've seen here recently, I think "semi-science-literate" isn't a bad estimate of the average.


SpaceX Launch of "GoreSat" Planned For Today, Along With Another Landing Attempt 75

The New York Times reports that SpaceX will again attempt to recover a Falcon 9 launch vehicle, after the recent unsuccessful try; the company believes the lessons from the earlier launch have been learned, and today's launch will be loaded with more hydraulic fluid. This evening, the rocket is to loft the satellite nicknamed "GoreSat," after Al Gore, who envisioned it as a sort of permanent eye in space beaing back pictures of Earth from afar. The purpose of the satellite has evolved, though: Writes the Times: The observatory, abbreviated as Dscovr and pronounced “discover,” is to serve as a sentinel for solar storms: bursts of high-energy particles originating from the sun. The particles from a gargantuan solar storm could induce electrical currents that might overwhelm the world’s power grids, possibly causing continent-wide blackouts. Even a 15-minute warning could let power companies take actions to limit damage.

Comment Used in conjunction with other sats... (Score 3, Interesting) 25

I'm excited to see data from this and the atmospheric CO2 satellite which was launched (again) not long ago overlayed. Seeing how CO2 and soil moisture correspond is important for understanding limitations on microbial communities which make up a large part of the global carbon budget. It will be particularly interesting to measure changes to how these correspond over time -- it'd be a great way to get solid data for future modelling and for quantifying changes currently happening.

Also particularly interesting is the ability to monitor changes as a result of permafrost thaw globally. There's currently some discussion whether and where permafrost thaw will be a net C sink or source. Throw in some data from a Leaf Area Index satellite (which is/are also in orbit currently) and you've got some pretty compelling global/landscape data.

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