siddesu writes: The Monju fast breeder reactor prototype was expected to be the centerpiece of the nuclear fuel recycling project in Japan. It would help to eliminate huge stockpiles of nuclear waste generated from older generation reactor operations. However, it has been plagued by lax security, serious accidents with fatalities, huge cost overruns and has worked for only 250 days since the beginning of its trial operation in 1995. In the latest development of this saga, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which manages and operates the reactor in Fukui Prefecture, will come under serious scrutiny at a regular meeting on Nov. 4 and sweeping changes in the management of the project are expected.
siddesu writes: Former National Security Agency director Michael Hayden this week told a conference about how little fallout the NSA has suffered after the Snowden leaks, and detailed how his former agency would hack other governments.
siddesu writes: The California Labor Commission has ruled Uber drivers are employees and not independent contractors. The ruling has serious implications for Uber’s business model, since it will now be required to offer its drivers benefits that meet the requirements of the Californian labor laws. The labor commissioner's office has apparently awarded $4k per driver, which Uber is appealing.
siddesu writes: A popular 'encryption' package for Android that even charges a yearly subscription fee of $8, actually does nothing more than give false sense of security to its users. Not only is the app using a worthless encryption method, it also uses weak keys and 'encrypts' only a small portion of the files. One wonders how much snake oil flows through the app stores, from 'battery savers' to 'antivirus'. What is the most worthless app purchase you made? Did you ask for a refund?
siddesu writes: Asimov's three laws of robotics don't say anything about how robots should treat each other. The common fear is robots will turn against humans. But who will save us all from the wreckage that would ensue if they 'just' start fighting each other?
siddesu writes: German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel (above) said this week in Homburg that the U.S. government threatened to cease sharing intelligence with Germany if Berlin offered asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden or otherwise arranged for him to travel to that country. “They told us they would stop notifying us of plots and other intelligence matters,” Gabriel said.
siddesu writes: According to an opinion of a Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, the electric cars aren't an overall good deal for the economy or the environment. The lifetime CO2 emissions of a Nissan Leaf or a Tesla are only 10% less than those of a comparable diesel or gasoline car, and the benefit estimate is only a tiny fraction of the subsidies the makers receive. Similarly, he estimates overall pollution from the production of electricity that powers electric car is actually as bad or worse than the pollution from gasoline cars. Is public investment in electric cars a misplaced strategy?
siddesu writes: Tesla Motors Inc., best known for making the all-electric Model S sedan, is using its lithium-ion battery technology to position itself as a frontrunner in the emerging energy-storage market that supplements and may ultimately threaten the traditional electric grid.
siddesu writes: The Senate Committee on Water and Energy narrowly passed SB 1134, a bill that classifies "nuclear energy from sources fueled by uranium fuel rods that include 80 percent or more of recycled nuclear fuel and natural thorium reactor resources under development" to be a renewable-energy source.
The opponents claim that a renewable resource doesn't get depleted with use: the sun keeps shining if we harvest solar power, the wind keeps blowing if we erect turbines, the earth keeps producing heat if we harness geothermal power.
siddesu writes: The US Department of Energy’s 2008 proposal to build a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, was technically sound, a report by the NRC says. However, the closed-down project is unlikely to revive, as its staff has moved on, and there are few funds available to restart it.
siddesu writes: A new research suggests there are no ill effects from GMO ingredients for the billions of animals fed for slaughter. In particular, data on livestock productivity and health were collated from publicly available sources from 1983, before the introduction of GE crops in 1996, and subsequently through 2011, a period with high levels of predominately GE animal feed. These field data sets representing over 100 billion animals following the introduction of GE crops did not reveal unfavorable or perturbed trends in livestock health and productivity. Anti-GMO luddites expected to announce that animals are slaughtered too early to tell later today.
siddesu writes: A group of people who lived within the 20-kilometer restricted zone surrounding the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant are asked to return home, the second time the "right of return" has been granted, despite opposition to the government decision by residents and medical researchers.
siddesu writes: The Russian city of Chelyabinsk was apparently hit by a meteorite today. The meteorite disintegrated over the city, causing an explosion that broke windows and apparently lead to hundreds of injuries. More videos from the event here: http://www.lenta.ru/articles/2013/02/15/meteorite/
siddesu writes: A man was arrested this morning in Tokyo because he was videotaped approaching a famous stray cat in the popular tourist destination of Enoshima near Tokyo.
The animal was used some months ago to deliver (via an SD card strapped to its leash) a message ridiculing the cyber crime unit of the Japanese police for their failure to apprehend a "hacker", who posted "threatening messages" to several popular boards.
The investigation of the pranks since October last year has so far resulted in four arrests of innocent people.
siddesu writes: Here's an interesting recipe. Take a spoonful of graphite powder and stir it into a glass of water. Leave for 24 hours at room temperature and then filter the powder. Finally, bake overnight at 100 degrees C and allow to cool.
And voila! A material that superconducts at over 300 kelvin--room temperature. At least that's the claim today from Pablo Esquinazi and buddies at the University of Leipzig in Germany.