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Submission Summary: 0 pending, 14 declined, 1 accepted (15 total, 6.67% accepted)

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Submission + - IBM's Watson to compete on Jeopardy (

treeves writes: AP reports that an AI program from IBM will compete on "Jeopardy" against that game show's biggest winners, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. It will air Feb. 14-16, 2011.
They mention that the computer will be represented by a round avatar. If it includes voice recognition and synthesis it should be quite impressive. It has been tested pretty thoroughly and no one is saying how well it's done in the testing. If Alex Trebek can be snarky to an AI program, maybe this could become a regular feature. Instead of "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth-Grader?" we might see "Are You Smarter Than A Supercomputer?"
IBM calls their project DeepQA (I think QA means "question and answer", not "quality assurance").

The Military

Submission + - Secret code in US Cybercommand's new logo ( 9

treeves writes:

The U.S. military'(TM)s new Cyber Command is headquartered at Ft. Meade, Maryland, one of the military'(TM)s most secretive and secure facilities. Its mission is largely opaque, even inside the armed forces. But the there's another mystery surrounding the emerging unit. It's embedded in the Cyber Command logo. On the logo's inner gold ring is a code: 9ec4c12949a4f31474f299058ce2b22a It is not just random numbers and does decode(TM) to something specific, a Cyber Command source tells Danger Room. oeI believe it is specifically detailed in the official heraldry for the unit symbol. While there a few different proposals during the design phase, in the end the choice was obvious and something necessary for every military unit, the source adds. The mission. Read More at Wired

I hope it takes a little while, or better a long while, to crack it. It won't be too impressive if someone figures it out tomorrow.


Submission + - Sergey Brin has gene for Parkinson's

treeves writes: "Apparently, Sergey Brin, one of Google's founders, started a blog he calls Too, a little play on words, and in one of the first posts he reveals that has discovered that he has a gene that predisposes him for Parkinson's disease. He found out when he had his wife's company, 23andme (a reference to the 23 chromosomes in humans), do some genetic testing on him. And while I'm sure he's quite rich and well-connected, it looks like any of us could get some pretty extensive genetic testing done for only $399. I don't know if I would. Would you?

[I don't have any connection to Google or 23andme. I just read about it today.]"

Submission + - Applke excludes iTunes from $100 iPhone rebate

treeves writes: "Apple announced they're going to specifically exclude iTunes songs from the list of things that can be purchased using the $100 rebate credits given to early buyers of iPhones, and didn't say why they're doing it.

It is reasonable to assume that one reason is that it will force people to buy more expensive items (only a few items under a hundred dollars can be had) and that people will have to spend more than $100 in most cases, or not use all of the rebate. If they could buy songs, they could spend right up to $99.99.

Seems like another way to anger those same people you were trying to assuage by giving the rebate in the first place, no?"

Submission + - Long-lived super heavy element created

treeves writes: "Radioactive nuclei that hang around for a mere half-minute before falling apart hardly seem stable. Yet compared with the fleeting lifetimes of their superheavy atomic neighbors, the roughly 30-second period that transpired from creation to disintegration of four atoms of a newly discovered isotope of element 108 qualifies those atoms as rock solid.

Theoretical physicists predicted years ago that some nuclei of elements much more massive than uranium should survive for a relatively long time — possibly long enough to probe their chemical properties — if they could be synthesized. On the chart of nuclides, theoreticians pinpointed a region with coordinates corresponding to 114 protons and 184 neutrons and indicated that nuclei with those "magic" numbers of subatomic particles should lie at the center of an island of stability. The nuclear longevity, according to the models, is due to the closing of proton and neutron shells, which renders the particles stable against spontaneous fission much the same way that a filled outer electron shell endows noble gases with chemical inertness. Experimentalists, though, haven't yet found a route to reach the center of the island.

Other theoreticians calculated the effects of subshell closings in other superheavy nuclei. They concluded that an isotope of hassium containing 108 protons and 162 neutrons (270Hs) should survive a long timemuch longer than the millisecond or shorter lifetimes typical of most of the heaviest nuclides.

Now, an international team of experimentalists has detected four of those atoms and probed some of their chemical properties during the roughly 30 seconds the nuclei survive (Phys. Rev. Lett. 2006, 97, 242501). The findings confirm the predictions and provide new statistical data with which such theoretical models can be refined. The team includes 24 scientists from 10 research institutions, including the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Institute for Heavy-Ion Research (GSI), both in Germany, as well as institutions in Russia, the U.S., Switzerland, Japan, China, and Poland.

As TUM graduate student Jan Dvorak explains, the hassium nuclei were formed by firing a high-energy beam of 26Mg projectiles into a target enriched in 248Cm. [ tml]"

Submission + - Inside the Machine

treeves writes: "You can read Chapter Four for free here, but the whole book is fifty bucks. Sounds like it's worth it if you're interested in CPU architecture.

Inside the Machine, from the co-founder of the highly respected Ars Technica website, explains how microprocessors operatewhat they do and how they do it. The book uses analogies, full-color diagrams, and clear language to convey the ideas that form the basis of modern computing. After discussing computers in the abstract, the book examines specific microprocessors from Intel, IBM, and Motorola, from the original models up through today's leading processors. It contains the most comprehensive and up-to-date information available (online or in print) on Intels latest processors: the Pentium M, Core, and Core 2 Duo. Inside the Machine also explains technology terms and concepts that readers often hear but may not fully understand, such as "pipelining," "L1 cache," "main memory," "superscalar processing," and "out-of-order execution."
Technology (Apple)

Submission + - Apple patent means iPhone is coming?

treeves writes: "This story says that a patent that Apple scored for speech recognition technology hints that apple is planning to introduce a cell phone. I'm not sure why it has to mean that, but I guess there are already some rumors to that effect.

Proving that it is not content to rest on the laurels of the success of the iPod and adding fuel to the always-rampant speculation as to what the company will do next, Apple Computer Inc. won a patent this week for speech-recognition technology.

Encouraging thoughts of a future launch of an "iPhone" product, Apple filed for "assigning meanings to utterances in a speech recognition system" with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) in February 2004. The technology can be used for "assigning meanings to spoken utterances in a speech recognition system," according to the patent's documentation with the PTO.

Apple-watching blog Mac News Network speculated this week that since "the granted patent discusses the use of this system in relation to a user calling up a document, license, memo and/or a producer's agreement, it's apparent that this patent could easily apply to a future iPhone."

An iPhone would be another addition to the Apple-branded arsenal of products the company has designed to serve customers in seemingly every facet of their lives. Last month, the company debuted an Internet Television (iTV), set to hit stores in January, which will allow consumers to view iTunes and other content on their televisions via a Wi-Fi link to their personal computers.

[Source: Electronic News]"

Submission + - Sony iPod competitor?

treeves writes: "In an attempt to take a bite out of Apple Computer's stronghold on the digital music player realm, Sony Electronics has debuted a new digital version of its Walkman player with built-in noise-canceling technology.

The NW-S700F Walkman player comes with an FM tuner, a 50 hour battery life and a "quick-charge" feature which offers up to three-hours of playback with just a three-minute charge, Sony said. The player also comes with 13.5 mm diameter headphones with a built-in microphone that Sony claims reduces most ambient noise. In addition the new Walkman has embedded noise-canceling technology in both the player and headphones that Sony claims eliminates the need for listeners to "pump up the volume." [from enews&nid=2019&rid=896806482%5D

If it were 8mb, instead of 1 or 2, I'd like the quick-charge and noise cancelling features, especially if it also has a good display.
Still, who knows what kind of DRM or malware comes bundled with it?"
Media (Apple)

Submission + - Apple makes iPod cheaper

treeves writes: "A dissection of Apple Computer Inc.'s new iPod Nano player conducted by market research firm iSuppli Corp.'s teardown analysis service reveals a new design that delivers reduced cost and greater capability compared to the previous-generation product, the firm reported this week.
Due to design changes and component price declines, iSuppli estimated that Apple has reduced the bill-of-materials (BOM) cost for the new $199 retail-priced 4GByte Nano to $72.24, less than the $89.97 that was estimated for a first-generation 2GByte Nano upon its release.
iSuppli concluded that with its latest product releases, Apple has succeeded at "developing products that deliver both high consumer value and enviable margins.""

Submission + - Biodegradable clothes

treeves writes: "Biodegradable Fabrics a Hit at Conference
A full-fledged fashion show, complete with professional models and a runway, nabbed the attention of the scientific community in Toronto over the summer. Attendees at the World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing were treated to a fashion display that included garments from top designers, including Halston, Oscar de la Renta and Stephen Burrows. The occasion for a fashion runway at a technical conference was to show off the biodegradable Ingeo fabric, which is spun from polylactide, a biopolymer made from dextrose corn sugar."
Sun Microsystems

Submission + - Open Source RISC Processor

treeves writes: "Simply RISC, a company based in U.K. and Italy, has become the first to produce a microprocessor from Sun Microsystems' open-source Sparc design.
Formed by a team of British and Italian designers, formerly of STMicroelectronics, Simply RISC said it has shipped the S1 Core. S1 is a 64-bit Wishbone-compliant CPU Core based upon the OpenSPARC T1 microprocessor released by Sun Microsystems a few months ago.

While T1, codenamed Niagara, contains eight processors, S1 has just one of the cores plus the Wishbone bridge, a reset controller and interrupt controller. Even this single core can execute four threads simultaneously.
Simply RISC said it is aiming the device at embedded designs such as handheld computers, set-top boxes and digital cameras.

The S1 Core is released under the same license of the T1, the GNU General Public License (GPL), and the design is freely downloadable from the Simply RISC Web site with no registration required.
One of the main aims of Simply RISC was to keep the S1 Core environment as simple as possible to encourage developers. Most of the simulation and synthesis activities are now performed with simple push-button scripts and system requirements are very easy to meet, said the company. link"

Submission + - Lighted clothing

treeves writes: "Your name in lights, on your body

Philips Research has demonstrated jackets featuring its Lumalive textiles, which integrate flexible arrays of LEDs into the fabric. The jackets feature 200×200-mm color panels and discreetly concealed battery and electronics packs that the user can, we hope, remember to disconnect and remove before washing.

The company states that the production-ready technology can scale to illuminate drapes, cushions, or even an entire sofa "to enhance the observer's mood and positively influence his behavior." We wonder how long it will be before an entrepreneurial hacker couples one of the jackets with a wireless connection and becomes a walking billboard."

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