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New Mars Rover Rolls For the First Time 100

wooferhound writes "Like proud parents savoring their baby's very first steps, mission team members gathered in a gallery above a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to watch the Mars Curiosity rover roll for the first time. Engineers and technicians wore bunny suits while guiding Curiosity through its first steps, or more precisely, its first roll on the clean room floor. The rover moved forward and backward about 1 meter (3.3 feet). Mars Science Laboratory (aka Curiosity) is scheduled to launch in fall 2011 and land on the Red Planet in August 2012. Curiosity is the largest rover ever sent to Mars. It will carry 10 instruments that will help search an intriguing region of the Red Planet for two things: environments where life might have existed, and the capacity of those environments to preserve evidence of past life."

Comment Ho-Hum (Score 1) 118

God bless the Can-Do attitude at MIT (and elsewhere, I suppose). I wish they hadn't thrown my application away, and hope that the totally-awesome-just-not-MIT school that I'm going to will support this kind of thing.

MIT Unveils First Solar Cells Printed On Paper 125

lucidkoan writes "MIT researchers recently unveiled the world's first thin-film solar cell printed on a sheet of paper. The panel was created using a process similar to that of an inkjet printer, producing semiconductor-coated paper imbued with carbon-based dyes that give the cells an efficiency of 1.5 to 2 percent. That's not incredibly efficient, but the convenience factor makes up for it. And in the future, researchers hope that the same process used in the paper solar cells could be used to print cells on metal foil or even plastic. If they're able to gear efficiencies up to scale, the development could revolutionize the production and installation of solar panels."

Spectrum of Light Captured From Distant World 32

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Cosmos: "Astronomers have made the first direct capture of a spectrum of light from a planet outside the Solar System and are deciphering its composition. The light was snared from a giant planet that orbits a bright young star called HR 8799 about 130 light-years from Earth, said the European Southern Observatory (ESO). ... The find is important, because hidden within a light spectrum are clues about the relative amounts of different elements in the planet's atmosphere. 'The features observed in the spectrum are not compatible with current theoretical models,' said co-author Wolfgang Brandner. 'We need to take into account a more detailed description of the atmospheric dust clouds, or accept that the atmosphere has a different chemical composition from that previously assumed.' The result represents a milestone in the search for life elsewhere in the universe, said the ESO. Until now, astronomers have been able to get only an indirect light sample from an exoplanet, as worlds beyond our Solar System are called. They do this by measuring the spectrum of a star twice — while an orbiting exoplanet passes near to the front of it, and again while the planet is directly behind it. The planet's spectrum is thus calculated by subtracting one light sample from another."

Protecting At-Risk Cities From Rising Seas 243

Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that with about 10 million people in England and Wales living in flood risk areas, rising sea levels and more storms could mean that parts of at-risk cities will need to be surrendered to protect homes and businesses, and that 'radical thinking' is needed to develop sea defenses that can cope with the future threats. 'If we act now, we can adapt in such a way that will prevent mass disruption and allow coastal communities to continue to prosper,' says Ruth Reed, President of the Royal Institute of British Architects. 'But the key word is "now."' Changing sea levels is not a new phenomenon. In the Netherlands, for example, with 40% of its surface under sea level, water management and water defense have been practiced since time immemorial; creating mounds and dykes, windmills, canals with locks and sluices, the Delta Works and the Afsluitdijk, all to keep the water out. Similar solutions to protect British cities are based on three themes (PDF): moving 'critical infrastructure' and housing to safer ground, allowing the water into parts of the city; building city-wide sea defenses to ensure water does not enter the existing urban area; and extending the existing coastline and building out onto the water (using stilts, floating structures and/or land reclamation)."

Comment Re:creationism/evolution (Score 1) 391

imho. once you add an omnipotent, omniscient, etc being into the mix, you give up all hope of a rational explanation.

Such a being could have created the universe two seconds ago, and given us all memories, back stories, and slashdot. If he left signs, evidence, or hints, it was by choice. He is, after all, perfect. So to say that there isn't evidence for evolution, or that there IS evidence for creation, is totally irrelevant. We are interpreting what we see, and people who are better educated than most of us (on that subject) have come to a general consensus. So we chose to agree with them, or someone else, based (usually) on personal preference, not any first hand interpretation of evidence. So god put rocks (and other information) in the ground (and other, more biological places) that lead some (with no implication of majority or minority but myself included) to believe we evolved.

If you believe in god, it makes sense, since you believe he created everything: rocks, fossils, and our penchant for scientific discovery. If you believe the scientists, or were lucky enough to have data and methods to interpret yourself, then it makes sense because it follows a largely unbroken chain of reasoning. So you cannot fault someone for interpreting the evidence before them, because it is there. But the presence of evidence and prevailing theories should NOT BE A THREAT to those who have strong faith. After all, they are part of a perfectly designed creation, right?

I'm glad I got to weigh in on this issue.


Submission + - Lasers used to induce brain activity in mice (

hoofinasia writes: Apparently the combination of lasers, genetic engineering, mice, and a glut of funding can produce brain activity in rodent brains. From the article's most keyword dense section:

The trick for inducing gamma waves was the selective activation of the "fast-spiking" interneurons, named for their characteristic pattern of electrical activity. When these cells were driven with high frequency laser pulses, the illuminated region of cortex started to produce gamma oscillations.


Reading Guide To AI Design & Neural Networks? 266

Raistlin84 writes "I'm a PhD student in theoretical physics who's recently gotten quite interested in AI design. During my high school days, I spent most of my spare time coding various stuff, so I have a good working knowledge of some application programming languages (C/C++, Pascal/Delphi, Assembler) and how a computer works internally. Recently, I was given the book On Intelligence, where Jeff Hawkins describes numerous interesting ideas on how one would actually design a brain. As I have no formal background in computer science, I would like to broaden my knowledge in the direction of neural networks, pattern recognition, etc., but don't really know where to start reading. Due to my background, I figure that the 'abstract' theory would be mostly suited for me, so I would like to ask for a few book suggestions or other directions."

New York Times Says Thin Clients Are Making a Comeback 206

One of the seemingly eternal questions in managing personal computers within organizations is whether to centralize computing power (making it easy to upgrade or secure The One True Computer, and its data), or push the power out toward the edges, where an individual user isn't crippled because a server at the other side of the network is down, or if the network itself is unreliable. Despite the ever-increasing power of personal computers, the New York Times reports that the concept of making individual users' screens portals (smart ones) to bigger iron elsewhere on the network is making a comeback.

Elcomsoft Claims WPA/WPA2 Cracking Breakthrough 349

secmartin writes "Russian security firm Elcomsoft has released software that uses Nvidia GPUs to speed up the cracking of WPA and WPA2 keys by a factor of 100. Since the software allows them to network thousands of PCs, this anouncement effectively signals the death of wireless networking in business networks; any network handling sensitive data should start using VPN encryption on machines connecting over Wi-Fi networks, or stop using these networks altogether."

"Black Silicon" Advances Imaging, Solar Energy 114

waderoush writes "Forcing sulfur atoms into silicon using femtosecond laser pulses creates a material called 'black silicon' that is 100 to 500 times more sensitive to light than conventional silicon, in both the visible and infrared spectrums, according to SiOnyx, a venture-funded Massachusetts start-up that just emerged from stealth mode. Today's New York Times has a piece about the serendipitous discovery of black silicon inside the laboratory of Harvard physicist Eric Mazur. Meanwhile, a report in Xconomy explains how black silicon works and how SiOnyx and manufacturing partners hope to use it to build far more efficient photovoltaic cells and more sensitive detectors for medical imaging devices, surveillance satellites, and consumer digital cameras."

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