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Power

Underwater Nuclear Power Plant Proposed In France 314

nicomede writes "The French state-owned DCNS (French military shipyard) announced today a concept study for an underwater nuclear reactor dedicated to power coastal communities in remote places. It is derived from nuclear submarine power plants, and its generator would be able to produce between 50 MWe and 250MWe. Such a plant would be fabricated and maintained in France, and dispatched for the different customers, thus reducing the risk for proliferation."
The Internet

Meet NELL, the Computer That Learns From the Net 272

bossanovalithium writes "Carnegie Mellon University has taught a computer how to read and learn from the internet. According to Dennis Baron at the Oxford University press blog, the computer is called NELL and it is reading the internet and learning from it in much the same way that humans learn language and acquire knowledge. Basically by soaking it all up and figuring it out. NELL is short for Never Ending Language Learner and apparently it is getting brainier every day."
The Military

Rise of the Robot Squadrons 245

Velcroman1 writes 'Taking a cue from the Terminator films, the US Navy is developing unmanned drones that network together and operate in 'swarms.' Predator drones have proven one of the most effective — and most controversial — weapons in the military arsenal. And now, these unmanned aircraft are talking to each other. Until now, each drone was controlled remotely by a single person over a satellite link. A new tech, demoed last week by NAVAIR, adds brains to those drones and allows one person to control a small squadron of them in an intelligent, semiautonomous network.'
The Military

Android Goes To the Battlefield 128

wiseandroid writes "Google's mobile operating system Android has won plenty of adherents among cellphone makers and gadget manufacturers since its 2007 debut. Now defense contractor Raytheon is preparing it for a more urgent mission: saving lives in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. Using Android software tools, Raytheon engineers have built a basic application for military personnel that combines maps with a buddy list. Raytheon calls the entire framework the Raytheon Android Tactical System, or RATS for short. Mark Bigham, a vice president of business development in Raytheon's Intelligence and Information Systems unit, says the company selected Android because its open source nature made developing applications easy."
Earth

Bacteria Could Help Stop Desertification 218

Bridgette Steffen writes "In attempt to slow down desertification, a student at London's Architectural Association has proposed a 6000 km sandstone wall that will not only act as a break across the Sahara Desert, but also serve as refugee shelter. Last fall it won first prize in the Holcim Foundation's Awards for Sustainable Construction, and will use bacteria to solidify the sandstone."
Space

Space Based Solar Power Within a Decade? 371

Nancy Atkinson writes "A new company, Space Energy, Inc., says they have developed what they call a 'rock-solid business platform' and they should be able to provide commercially available space based solar power within a decade. 'Although it's a very grandiose vision, it makes total sense,' Space Energy's Peter Sage told Universe Today. 'We're focused on the fact that this is an inevitable technology and someone is going to do it. Right now we're the best shot. We're also focused on the fact that, according to every scenario we've analyzed, the world needs space based solar power, and it needs it soon, as well as the up-scaling of just about every other source of renewable energy that we can get our hands on.'"
Earth

Black Holes From the LHC Could Last For Minutes 672

KentuckyFC writes "There is absolutely, positively, definitely no chance of the LHC destroying the planet (or this way either) when it eventually switches on some time later this year. And yet a few niggling doubts are persuading some scientists to run through their figures again. One potential method of destruction is that the LHC will create tiny black holes that could swallow everything in their path, including the planet. Various scientists have said this will not happen because the black holes would decay before they could do any damage. But physicists who have re-run the calculations now say that the mini black holes produced by the LHC could last for seconds, possibly minutes. Of course, the real question is whether they decay faster than they can grow. The new calculations suggest that the decay mechanism should win over and that the catastrophic growth of a black hole from the LHC 'does not seem possible' (abstract). But shouldn't we require better assurance than that?"
Security

A Cheap, Distributed Zero-Day Defense? 116

coondoggie writes "Shutting down zero-day computer attacks could be carried out inexpensively by peer-to-peer software that shares information about anomalous behavior, say researchers at the University of California at Davis.The software would interact with existing personal firewalls and intrusion detection systems to gather data about anomalous behavior, says Senthil Cheetancheri, the lead researcher on the project he undertook as a grad student at UC Davis from 2004 to 2007. He now works for SonicWall."
Medicine

Implant Raises Cellular Army To Attack Cancer 193

holy_calamity writes "New Scientist reports on a sneaky new approach to getting the immune system to fight cancer. An implant releases a 'molecular perfume' irresistible to messenger immune cells, which enter the implant where they are given a sample of the cancer's 'scent' and a disperse signal that sends them scurrying to the nearest lymph node. There they convince other immune cells to start attacking anything that matches the sample they picked up."
Privacy

UK Government To Outsource Data Snooping and Storage 114

bone_idol writes "The Guardian is reporting that the private sector will be asked to manage and run a communications database that will keep track of everyone's calls, emails, texts and internet use under a key option contained in a consultation paper to be published next month by Jacqui Smith, the home secretary. Also covered on the BBC."
Space

Obama Transition Team Examining Space Solar Power 275

DynaSoar writes "President-elect Obama's transition team has published for public comment a white paper entitled Space Solar Power (SSP) — A Solution for Energy Independence & Climate Change. The paper was prepared and submitted by the Space Frontier Foundation and other citizen space advocates, and calls for the new Administration to make development of Space Solar Power a national priority. The SSP white paper was among the first ten released by the Obama transition team. It is the first and only space-related white paper released by the team to date. With 145 comments thus far, it is already among the top five most-discussed of the 20-some white papers on Change.gov."
NASA

Pieces Coming Together For NASA's New Spacecraft 78

Matt_dk points out an update on the progress of development for NASA's Ares I launch rocket, excerpting: "NASA is using powerful computers and software programs to design the rocket that will carry crew and cargo to space after the space shuttle retires. But those computers will have their work checked the old-fashioned way with the first of several uncrewed demonstration launches beginning in 2009. Ares I-X, the first Ares I test rocket, will lift off from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. in the summer of 2009. It will climb about 25 miles in a two-minute powered test of Ares I first stage performance and its first stage separation and parachute recovery system." Reader coondoggie notes that NASA is also looking further afield, putting out the call for ideas on moon colonization. They'll be offering a variety of grants for projects which facilitate human activities that are "not reliant on Earth's resources."
Privacy

Replacing Metal Detectors With Brain Scans 327

Zordak writes "CNN has up a story about several Israeli firms that want to replace metal detectors at airports with biometric readings. For example, with funding from TSA and DHS, 'WeCU ([creepily] pronounced "We See You") Technologies, employs a combination of infra-red technology, remote sensors and imagers, and flashing of subliminal images, such as a photo of Osama bin Laden. Developers say the combination of these technologies can detect a person's reaction to certain stimuli by reading body temperature, heart rate and respiration — signals a terrorist unwittingly emits before he plans to commit an attack.' Sensors may be embedded in the carpet, seats, and check-in screens. The stated goal is to read a passenger's 'intention' in a manner that is 'more fair, more effective and less expensive' than traditional profiling. But not to worry! WeCU's CEO says, 'We don't want you to feel that you are being interrogated.' And you may get through security in 20 to 30 seconds."
Earth

Geoengineering To Cool the Earth Becoming Thinkable 419

johkir writes "As early as 1965, when Al Gore was a freshman in college, a panel of distinguished environmental scientists warned President Lyndon B. Johnson that CO2 emissions from fossil fuels might cause 'marked changes in climate' that 'could be deleterious.' Yet the scientists did not so much as mention the possibility of reducing emissions. Instead they considered one idea: 'spreading very small reflective particles' over about five million square miles of ocean, so as to bounce about 1 percent more sunlight back to space — 'a wacky geoengineering solution.' In the decades since, geoengineering ideas never died, but they did get pushed to the fringe — they were widely perceived by scientists and environmentalists alike as silly and even immoral attempts to avoid addressing the root of the problem of global warming. Three recent developments have brought them back into the mainstream." We've discussed some pretty strange ideas in the geoengineering line over the last few years.

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