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Government

Crystal Pattern Matching Recovers Obliterated Serial Numbers From Metal 133

chicksdaddy writes Criminals beware: researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have figured out how to recover serial numbers obliterated from metal surfaces such as firearms and automobiles — a common problem in forensic examinations. According to this report, NIST researchers used a technique called electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) to read, in the crystal structure pattern, imprints on steel that had been removed by polishing. ... The more perfect the crystal structure, the stronger and clearer the pattern. Software can then calculate the pattern quality to reveal crystal damage; areas with more damage produce lower quality patterns. In the NIST experiments, described in Forensic Science International, researchers hammered the letter 'X' into a polished stainless steel plate. The letter stamps were as deep as 140 micrometers, meeting federal regulations for firearm serial numbers. The researchers then polished the metal again to remove all visible traces of the letters, and collected the EBSD diffraction patterns and pattern quality data and analyzed them for evidence of the imprints.
Math

'Inexact' Chips Save Power By Fudging the Math 325

Barence writes "Computer scientists have unveiled a computer chip that turns traditional thinking about mathematical accuracy on its head by fudging calculations. The concept works by allowing processing components — such as hardware for adding and multiplying numbers — to make a few mistakes, which means they are not working as hard, and so use less power and get through tasks more quickly. The Rice University researchers say prototypes are 15 times more efficient and could be used in some applications without having a negative effect."
Technology

Pumping Fluid With No Moving Parts 75

RogerRoast writes "In a study published in Physical Review B (abstract; full version is paywalled), researchers demonstrate for the first time an approach that allows ferrofluids to be pumped by magnetic fields alone. The invention could lead to new applications for this mysterious material. Though numerous industrial, commercial, and biomedical applications for ferrofluids have since been created, the original goal — to pump liquids with no machinery — remained elusive, until now. The ferrohydrodynamic pump method works when electrodes wound around a pipe force magnetic nanoparticles within the ferrofluids to rotate at varying speeds. Those particles closest to the electrodes spin faster, and it is this spatial variation in rotation speed that propels the ferrofluid forward."

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