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Government

Submission + - The FBI Wants Your Help Tracking Down the Brooklyn Drone (vice.com)

pigrabbitbear writes: "It's rare to see things flying outside your airplane window. A far off craft, a flock of birds — whatever else is zooming through the clouds at high speeds is going to feel a little dangerous. So when an Alitalia pilot made his final approach to New York's JFK airport on Monday afternoon, he was certainly startled to see another little plane flying near by. Here's an excerpt of the resulting talk with the air traffic controller:

JFK controller: Uh, what did you see?

Alitalia pilot: We saw a drone, a drone aircraft

JFK controller: What altitude did you see that aircraft?

Alitalia pilot: About 1,500 feet.

Within an hour, the Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a request for the public's help in finding the drone's operator. To the bureau's credit, they chose not to repeat the Alitalia pilot's "drone" designation, choosing instead to go with the slightly less militaristic "unmanned aircraft." Nobody called it a "model airplane."

The FBI is still looking for the miniature UFO. "The FBI is investigating the incident and looking to identify and locate the aircraft and its operator," reads a press release. "The unnamed aircraft was described as black in color and no more than three feet wide with four propellers.""

Space

Submission + - The Swiss Plan on Clearing Space Junk with a Giant Claw (vice.com)

pigrabbitbear writes: "There are about 19,000 pieces of space debris larger than 5 cm currently being tracked by NASA—debris that multiplies when other debris collides. There's now way around it: eventually we're going to have to clean up the floating mess. Which is exactly what a new Swiss uber-satellite intends to do.

Called CleanSpace One, the monster has been dubbed the "janitor satellite." It's been designed to match a defunct satellite's orbital plane, grip it with a giant mechanical claw, and pull it back down into the Earth's atmosphere. Both satellites would then burn up upon reentry.

The Swiss scientists hope to launch CleanSpace One on its trial mission in under five years. The first target is the Swisscube, Switzerland's first working satellite, which was put into orbit in 2009, and completed its imaging mission in 2011. Even though the first CleanSpace One will disintegrate upon re-entry, the Swiss are planning a whole family of space janitors. Eventually, they may be able to dispose more than one satellite at a time."

Medicine

Submission + - The Gameification of Medicine: How Video Games Are Sharpening Surgical Skills (vice.com)

pigrabbitbear writes: "Move over, Dr. Mario? Turns out budding surgeons are playing games to develop a steady hand. To wit: A group of post-graduate medical students in Rome who participated in a recent month-long program using the Nintendo Wii went on to earn higher scores in surgical simulators relating to laparoscopic, or keyhole, surgery compared to students who did not use the Wii."
Government

Submission + - Why Won't Congress Talk About 3D-Printed Guns? (vice.com)

pigrabbitbear writes: "The Senate Judiciary Committee opened its doors this week for an emotional hearing about gun violence, gun control and, specifically, a ban on 157 different types of assault rifles. What exactly an assault rifle is has been a source of debate, but the proposed ban defines them as having having "military-style" features like detachable magazines, pistol grips, and even the capacity to be used as grenade or rocket launchers.

Introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein in the days after the Newtown massacre, the ban is especially controversial, because it includes America's favorite rifle: the AR-15. That's one of the guns that Adam Lanza used when he killed 20 first graders and six adults in Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The AR-15 also happens to be the same gun that a band of renegades known as Defense Distributed have been 3D-printing down in Texas for the past few months. Last week, we learned that DEFCAD, the Defense Distributed-made database of files you feed into a 3D printer to make various gun components, is starting to get some real traction.

According to Defense Distributed, the website is getting about 3,000 unique visitors a day. That's not exactly Facebook-sized traffic, but it is about as big as eBay India. And DEFCAD is sort of like eBay, in a way. It's one big store that lets people upload and download files for 3D printing guns. So far about a quarter of a million files have been downloaded. "Obviously, there’s an interest in what we’re doing," Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson told Venturebeat. "Enthusiasts want these files.""

The Internet

Submission + - Farmers In England Are Growing Their Own Internet Because They Have To (vice.com)

pigrabbitbear writes: "Look outside of your window: if you see miles of farmland, chances are you have terrible internet service. That’s because major telecommunications companies don’t think it’s worth the investment to bring high-speed broadband to sparsely populated areas. But like most businesses, farms increasingly depend on the internet to pay bills, monitor the market and communicate with partners. In the face of a sluggish connection, what's a group of farmers to do?

Grow their own, naturally.

That’s what the people of Lancashire, England, are doing. Last year, a coalition of local farmers and others from the northwestern British county began asking local landowners if they could use their land to begin laying a brand-new community-owned high-speed network, sparing them the expense of tearing up roads. Then, armed with shovels and backhoes, the group, called Broadband for the Rural North, or B4RN (it's pronounced "barn"), began digging the first of what will be approximately 180,000 meters of trenches and filling them with fiber-optic cable, all on its own."

Earth

Submission + - Global Warming Will Make the World Too Hot to Get Any Work Done (vice.com)

pigrabbitbear writes: "It’s a good thing that robots are stealing our jobs, because in about thirty-five years, nobody in their right mind is going to want to do them.

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just published a report in Nature Climate Change that details how a warming climate impacts the way we work, and the results are pretty clear—we do less of it. NOAA discovered that over the last 60 years, the hotter, wetter climate has decreased human labor capacity by 10%. And it projects that by 2050, that number will double."

Robotics

Submission + - Robots, Apparently, Are Botching Surgeries All Over the Place (vice.com) 1

pigrabbitbear writes: ""We are committed to helping victims of robot surgery receive the medical care and compensation they deserve As both a lawyer and a licensed medical doctor, Dr. Francois Blaudeau has made it his mission to fight for the victims of traumatic complications as a result of botched robot surgery."

That's the opening salve from the medical malpractice lawyers who run the slick fear factory of a website, BadRobotSurgery.com. According to the doctor-lawyers behind it—doctor-lawyers like Francois Blaudeau, MD, JD, FACHE, FCLM—“thousands of people have suffered severe and critical complications at the hands of surgical robots.” In fact, “robotic surgery has been linked to many serious injuries and severe complications, including death.”"

News

Submission + - Ironically, a Man's Face Can Tell You If He's Likely to Act Racist (vice.com) 3

pigrabbitbear writes: "What can we tell about a person from his or her face? Quite a bit, it seems. Psychological experiments since the turn of the millennium have indicated we do a good job judging people's sexual orientation, reproductive fitness, criminal proclivities, and even whether they're Mormon or not, all based on their faces. A new study suggests there’s another trait we can add to the list: a man’s willingness to express racist beliefs.

There’s an obvious irony to a study that says we can tell if a man will act bigoted based on the shape of his face. But the logic underpinning the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Delaware and soon to be published in the journal Psychological Science, is a circuitous and unexpected one, and makes a persuasive case."

Space

Submission + - The Flaming Meteor that Terrified Russia as Seen on Dash Cam Videos (vice.com)

pigrabbitbear writes: "While the world waits for an asteroid large enough to destroy a city to graze the orbits of our television satellites, citizens of Central Russia were greeted early Friday morning by a more mortality-shaking kind of astronomical event: a giant meteorite exploding across the atmosphere in a spectacular fireball, brighter than the still-rising sun, blowing out windows and injuring as many as 400 people.

‘‘A serious meteor fell,’’ Sergey Galitskiy, the billionaire CEO of OAO Magnit, Russia’s biggest food retailer, wrote on Twitter. ‘‘At our hypermarket in Emanzhelinsk, windows were blown out, the roof shook, there was a strong shock wave.’’

According to state-sponsored radio station The Voice of Russia, the meteor was allegedly intercepted by a missile salvo fired from an air defense facility at Urzhumka village near Chelyabinsk, "at an altitude of 20 kilometers." "Witnesses reported a sudden change in atmospheric pressure upon the impact that made their ears pop. The space object hit the ground with a tremendous crash that resembled thunder and earthquake, damaging houses in Chelyabinsk and cutting off communications, witnesses say."

The Military

Submission + - America Won't Float Its Giant Terrifying Spy Blimp Over Afghanistan After All (vice.com)

pigrabbitbear writes: "Apologies Afghanistan, it appears that you will not have the pleasure of a 100-meter spy blimp floating over you, observing in detail the minutia of your citizens’ daily lives. Too bad.

Inside Defense reports that the Army’s Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) has been terminated for cost and schedule-related reasons:

The reason likely has to do with the program being behind schedule and over budget ... LEMV's fate — particularly its intended deployment to Afghanistan — has been in question since earlier last year. The window to send the airship to the battlefield is closing as U.S. troops prepare for a withdrawal in 2014. The airship was once scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in December 2011.

And now it’s been deflated. Just after it had logged its first successful test-float, too."

News

Submission + - Scanning the Future of 3D-Printed Sex Toys (NSFW) (vice.com)

pigrabbitbear writes: "Noah Kaplan is here to get his penis scanned. He gestures wildly, his bathrobe peeking open as he rapidly recounts why he's doing this, going on and off the record about his sexual preferences. I can barely keep up. We’re in a room at the Eventi Hotel in Chelsea, where Kaplan is sitting in front of an impressive camera that can scan in three dimensions and create a virtual model of any object. Today, that camera is going to be used to scan Kaplan’s penis from several angles. Experts will then composite those scans into one image that will be printed out using a 3D printer, resulting in an exact, three-dimensional replica of the 26-year-old's, erm, member. This is the very beginning of the 3D-printed sex toy-industry, though you can scarcely call it an industry yet."
Education

Submission + - Ten Radically Futuristic Ideas in Obama's State of the Union Address (vice.com)

pigrabbitbear writes: "Obama's first State of the Union Address since his reelection was largely and predictably dedicated to nearsighted deficit talk and weary calls to overcome Congressional dysfunction. But amidst the boilerplate—and the comparatively impassioned calls for action on gun control and, to a lesser extent, climate change—Obama snuck in some radical, forward-looking ideas. Some are downright utopian. SOTUs are notorious for being lofty wish-lists, so consider these proposals as Obama's wildest political fantasies.

Here's how the president wants us to win the future this time:

1. Transform Declining Towns into 3D Printing Hubs

2. Spend Money on Science Like We're in a Space Race

3. Use Oil and Gas Money to Fund Cleantech Research

4. Amp Up Wind Power

5. Go All-In On Solar

6. Build High Speed Rail to Attract Foreign Investment

7. Get Self-Healing Power Grids

8. Acheive Universal Preschool

9. Turn High Schools Into High Tech Incubators

10. Peg the Minimum Wage to the Cost of Living

Of course, Obama had plenty of backwards and incoherent ideas, too—ramping up oil drilling while trying to fight climate change, signing a cyber-security executive order that somehow promotes both "information-sharing" and privacy, and referring to his "transparent" war on terror without mentioning drones, for instance. But this is a difficult time for the U.S. and for Washington, and even as he pointed out huge challenges, Obama did his job as President tonight, pointing at America's opportunities, and the kind of changes that, you know, you want to believe in."

News

Submission + - Listen to Baby Ants Talking (vice.com)

pigrabbitbear writes: "Complex, socially-tiered societies require complex communication. So perhaps it’s unsurprising that eusocial animals like ants are also incredibly communicative—more so than we previously understood, according to a new study in Current Biology. Many ants begin communicating acoustically from a very young age, in fact, in such a way that scientists suggest may be very important to their survival.

As explained in an article by Carrie Arnold at ScienceNow, scientists believed until only recently that ants communicated only through pheromones, leaving, for example, scent trails behind them for other ants to follow—hence the phenomenon of single-file marching ants. (They can also, newer research suggests, use magnetic and vibrational landmarks to guide themselves around.)"

Apple

Submission + - Apple's Rumored iWatch Could Be Your Own Personal Surveillance Machine (vice.com)

pigrabbitbear writes: "If you're going to listen to anybody about the future of Apple products, you should listen to the dude that used to build them. Bruce Tognazzini worked at Apple for 14 years, where "he designed Apple’s first human interface and wrote eight editions of the Apple Human Interface Guidelines," according to his website. Now, he's a blogger (of course) and a consultant (oh God) and a performer (what?) and an "expert witness" (usually not a good sign) and a pilot and, like, six other things. He also invented the viewfinder that you probably have you your digital camera. You get it. This guy's accomplished, an original Apple guy and probably comes equipped with a monster-sized ego. Nevertheless, when he talks about Apple products, I'm actually inclined to believe him.

A lot of the fanboys mentioned above are kind of obsessed with this iWatch idea. It's a good idea! The rumors that've been floating around cyber space include everything from a watch that's a glorified iPod Nano to a watch that comes with a built-in projector. Tognazzini blogged about his own ideas about this so-called iWatch project this week. In addition to his Apple insider knowledge—which is admittedly out-of-date since he hasn't worked there in two decades—it seems like he's actually talked to some current Apple employees about this. This is all to say that even if his ideas don't make it into the iWatch, they could end up in another smartwatch. Some of them are a little creepy.

Smartwatches actually already exist. There's the Pebble smartwatch, a Kickstarter phenomenon that just started shipping. Something called the Cookoo, something else called the Martianthat you can talk to. Tognazzini says they all stink, basically. The real "killer applications" of a smartwatch should and would change the world. The first thing he mentions is straight out of a spy movie. In effect, it could work like a personal identification chip that you wear on your wrist."

China

Submission + - Beijing's Hacker Bike Pumps Clean Air Into Your Lungs as You Ride (vice.com)

pigrabbitbear writes: "Beijing is a smog-infested hellhole, everybody knows that. Pollution level are off the charts, but a man's gotta eat, so millions of people are out and about moving through the muck every day, lining their blackening lungs with toxic air. And millions of them are riding bikes. If only, then, those bikes came equipped with a clean supply of oxygen, so the good people of China might shield their lungs from airborne decay.

So here's Beijing resident Matt Hope with their ticket: a bike that actually purifies that black air for them, through a filtration system on the back and feeds it through a gas mask nozzle up front. It's called the Breathing Bike."

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