Government

Safety Review Finds Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Site Was Technically Sound 166

Posted by Soulskill
from the wasted-effort dept.
siddesu writes: The U.S. 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. "With the release of the final two volumes of a five-part technical analysis, the commission closed another chapter on the controversial repository nearly five years after President Barack Obama abandoned the project, and more than a quarter century after the site was selected. While the staff recommended against approving construction, the solid technical review could embolden Republicans who now control both houses of Congress and would like to see Yucca Mountain revived."
Biotech

New Study Says Governments Should Ditch Reliance On Biofuels 200

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-switchgrass? dept.
HughPickens.com writes The NYT reports on a new study from a prominent environmental think tank that concludes turning plant matter into liquid fuel or electricity is so inefficient that the approach is unlikely ever to supply a substantial fraction of global energy demand. They add that continuing to pursue this strategy is likely to use up vast tracts of fertile land that could be devoted to helping feed the world's growing population. "I would say that many of the claims for biofuels have been dramatically exaggerated," says Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, a global research organization based in Washington that is publishing the report. "There are other, more effective routes to get to a low-carbon world." The report follows several years of rising concern among scientists about biofuel policies in the United States and Europe, and is the strongest call yet by the World Resources Institute, known for nonpartisan analysis of environmental issues, to urge governments to reconsider those policies.

Timothy D. Searchinger says recent science has challenged some of the assumptions underpinning many of the pro-biofuel policies that have often failed to consider the opportunity cost of using land to produce plants for biofuel. According to Searchinger, if forests or grasses were grown instead of biofuels, that would pull carbon dioxide out of the air, storing it in tree trunks and soils and offsetting emissions more effectively than biofuels would do. What is more, as costs for wind and solar power have plummeted over the past decade, and the new report points out that for a given amount of land, solar panels are at least 50 times more efficient than biofuels at capturing the energy of sunlight in a useful form. "It's true that our first-generation biofuels have not lived up to their promise," says Jason Hill said. "We've found they do not offer the environmental benefits they were purported to have, and they have a substantial negative impact on the food system."
Displays

Dell 2015 XPS 13: Smallest 13" Notebook With Broadwell-U, QHD+ Display Reviewed 115

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-can-defy-them-they're-only-guidelines-of-physics dept.
MojoKid writes Dell's 2015 XPS 13 notebook made a splash out at CES this year with its near bezel-less 13-inch QHD+ (3200X1800) display and Intel's new 5th Gen Core series Broadwell-U processor. At 2.8 pounds, the 2015 XPS 13 isn't the absolute lightest 13-inch ultrabook book out there but it's lighter than a 13-inch MacBook Air and only a few ounces heavier than Lenovo's Core M-powered Yoga 3 Pro. The machine's Z dimensions are thin, at .33" up front to .6" at its back edge. However, its 11.98" width almost defies the laws of physics, squeezing a 13.3" (diagonal) display into an 11.98-inch frame making it what is essentially the smallest 13-inch ultrabook to hit the market yet. Performance-wise, this review shows its benchmarks numbers are strong and Intel's Broadwell-U seems to be an appreciable upgrade versus the previous generation architecture, along with lower power consumption.
Science

New Micro-Ring Resonator Creates Quantum Entanglement On a Silicon Chip 58

Posted by Soulskill
from the approaching-technobabble-territory dept.
Zothecula writes: The quantum entanglement of particles, such as photons, is a prerequisite for the new and future technologies of quantum computing, telecommunications, and cyber security. Real-world applications that take advantage of this technology, however, will not be fully realized until devices that produce such quantum states leave the realms of the laboratory and are made both small and energy efficient enough to be embedded in electronic equipment. In this vein, European scientists (abstract) have created and installed a tiny "ring-resonator" on a microchip that is claimed to produce copious numbers of entangled photons while using very little power to do so.
Android

Embedded Linux Conference Headlined By Drones 22

Posted by Soulskill
from the penguins-can-fly dept.
DeviceGuru writes: The Linux Foundation has released the full agenda for its annual North American Embedded Linux Conference + Android Builders Summit, which takes place Mar. 23-25 in San Jose, Calif. The ELC, which this year is titled Drones, Things, and Automobiles, increasingly reflects new opportunities for Linux in areas such as drones, robots, automotive computers, IoT gizmos, 3D sensing, modular phones, and much more. For those worried that ELC is skimping on the basics as it explores the more colorful sides of Linux, worry not, as there are still plenty of sessions on booting, trace analysis, NAND support, PHY frameworks, power management, defragmenting, systemd, device tree, and toolchain.
Opera

Opera Founder Is Back, WIth a Feature-Heavy, Chromium-Based Browser 158

Posted by timothy
from the sink-within-a-sink dept.
New submitter cdysthe writes Almost two years ago, the Norwegian browser firm Opera ripped out the guts of its product and adopted the more standard WebKit and Chromium technologies, essentially making it more like rivals Chrome and Safari. But it wasn't just Opera's innards that changed; the browser also became more streamlined and perhaps less geeky. Many Opera fans were deeply displeased at the loss of what they saw as key differentiating functionality. So now Jon von Tetzchner, the man who founded Opera and who would probably never have allowed those drastic feature changes, is back to serve this hard core with a new browser called Vivaldi. The project's front page links to downloads of a technical preview, available for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. Firefox users who likewise prefer a browser with more rather than fewer features (but otherwise want to stick with Firefox) might also consider SeaMonkey, which bundles not just a browser but email, newsgroup client and feed reader, HTML editor, IRC chat and web development tools.
The Almighty Buck

Valve's Economist Yanis Varoufakis Appointed Greece's Finance Minister 327

Posted by timothy
from the finger-on-all-the-buttons dept.
eldavojohn writes A turnover in the Greek government resulted from recent snap elections placing SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) in power — just shy of an outright majority by two seats. Atheist, and youngest Prime Minister in Greek history since 1865, Alexis Tsipras has been appointed the new prime minister and begun taking immediate drastic steps against the recent austerity laws put in place by prior administrations. One such step has been to appoint Valve's economist Yanis Varoufakis to position of Finance Minister of Greece. For the past three years Varoufakis has been working at Steam to analyze and improve the Steam Market but now has the opportunity to improve one of the most troubled economies in the world.
United States

White House Drone Incident Exposes Key Security Gap 235

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-can-breathe-there's-a-security-gap dept.
HughPickens.com writes The Washington Post reports that the intrusion by a recreational drone onto the White House lawn has exposed a security gap at the compound that the Secret Service has spent years studying but has so far been unable to fix. Commercial technology is available that can use a combination of sensitive radar and acoustic trackers to detect small drones, though coming up with an effective way to stop them has been more elusive. "To do something about the problem, you have to find it, you have to track it, you have to identify it and you have to decide what to do with it," says Frederick F. Roggero. "But especially in an urban environment, it would be tough to detect and tough to defeat kinetically without shooting it down and causing collateral damage." Most recreational drones, like the one that crashed Monday, weigh only a few pounds and lack the power to do much harm. Larger models that can carry payloads of up to 30 pounds are available on the market and are expected to become more common. The FAA imposes strict safety regulations on drones flown by government agencies or anyone who operates them for commercial purposes. In contrast, hardly any rules apply to people who fly drones as a hobby, other than FAA guidelines that advise them to keep the aircraft below 400 feet and five miles from an airport. "With the discovery of an unauthorized drone on the White House lawn, the eagle has crash-landed in Washington," says Senator Charles Schumer. "There is no stronger sign that clear FAA guidelines for drones are needed."
The Internet

Young Cubans Set Up Mini-Internet 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the do-internet-yourself dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Internet connections remain illegal for Cuban households, but many of the country's citizens still want to tap into the power of networked information exchange. A group of tech-savvy young Cubans has set up a network comprising thousands of computers to serve as their own miniature version of the internet. They use chat rooms, play games, and connect to organize real-life activities. Cuban law enforcement seems willing to tolerate it (so far), but the network polices itself so as not to draw undue attention.

One of the engineers who helped build the network said, "We aren't anonymous because the country has to know that this type of network exists. They have to protect the country and they know that 9,000 users can be put to any purpose. We don't mess with anybody. All we want to do is play games, share healthy ideas. We don't try to influence the government or what's happening in Cuba ... We do the right thing and they let us keep at it."
Portables

Getting Charged Up Over Chargers at CES (Video) 33

Posted by Roblimo
from the slip-me-some-of-that-juice-Bruce dept.
First we look at Skiva Technology and their Octofire 8-port USB charger that pulled in nearly five times the requested amount from a Kickstarter campaign. (The 'pulled in X times the requested Kickstarter amount' is becoming a common product boast, isn't it?) Then, for MacBook owners who are tired of having their chargers or charger cords break, we take a brief look at the Juiceboxx Charger Case. These two power-oriented products and WakaWaka, which we posted about on January 9, are just a tiny, random sample of the many items in this category that were on display at CES 2015. Timothy was the only Slashdot person working CES, so it's shocking that he managed to cover as many (hopefully interesting) products as he did, considering that even the biggest IT journo mills don't come close to total coverage of the overwhelming muddle CES has become in recent years. (Alternate Video Link)
Crime

Anonymous Asks Activists To Fight Pedophiles In 'Operation Deatheaters' 408

Posted by timothy
from the or-have-you-stopped-beating-her? dept.
HughPickens.com writes The Independent reports that hacktivist group Anonymous, in a project named Operation DeathEaters, is calling for help in its fight against international pedophile networks, or what it calls the "paedosadist industry" and has issued a video instructing activists on how they can aid in the operation. The Anonymous project is intended to break what it says is a conspiracy of silence among sympathetic politicians, police and mainstream media to downplay the full extent of the online child sex industry. "The premise behind OpDeathEaters is to expose high level complicity, obstruction of justice and cover-up in the paedo-sadist industry in order to show the need for independent inquiries," says Heather Marsh, an online activist who is helping to co-ordinate the operation and describes herself as an "old friend" of Anonymous. The Anonymous database, which will be hosted on the GitHub online repository, promises to collate cases from all around the world, cross-referencing connections within sub-groups including the police, armed forces, schoolteachers, politicians, media, academics and religious organisations. The database's ultimate purpose has yet to be fully determined, but in the first instance the group says it wants to shut down the child-sex industry by "dismantling the power structure which held it there" and by "educating to create a cultural change".

The group is calling on volunteers to help with the ongoing work, which has been divided into three steps. The first is about collecting "all the factual information," second is to "share that information as widely as possible," and the third step is "to set up an independent, internationally linked, inquiry into all the areas which do not appear to have been investigated properly." Activists point to the muted media coverage given to a recent case in Washington DC in which Michael Centanni, a senior Republican fundraiser, was charged with child sex offences after investigators traced transmissions of child pornography to his computers in his basement. The case was not covered by The Washington Post or the New York Times, and was only picked up by a local NBC affiliate state and The Washington Examiner, a small conservative paper in the city. According to the court filings, Centanni was found in possession of 3,000 images, many apparently filmed in his own bedroom, including one showing a man raping a five-year-old girl who cries "no" and "mommy" while the man says "good baby" and "stop crying," according to one filing.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Americans Support Mandatory Labeling of Food That Contains DNA 351

Posted by timothy
from the pure-sugar-all-the-time dept.
HughPickens.com writes Jennifer Abel writes at the LA Times that according to a recent survey (PDF), over 80% of Americans says they support "mandatory labels on foods containing DNA," roughly the same number that support the mandatory labeling of GMO foods "produced with genetic engineering." Ilya Somin, writing about the survey at the Washington Post, suggested that a mandatory label for foods containing DNA might sound like this: "WARNING: This product contains deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The Surgeon General has determined that DNA is linked to a variety of diseases in both animals and humans. In some configurations, it is a risk factor for cancer and heart disease. Pregnant women are at very high risk of passing on DNA to their children."

The report echoes a well-known joke/prank wherein people discuss the dangers of the chemical "dihydrogen monoxide" also known as hydrogen oxide and hydrogen hydroxide. Search online for information about dihydrogen monoxide, and you'll find a long list of scary-sounding and absolutely true warnings about it: the nuclear power industry uses enormous quantities of it every year. Dihydrogen monoxide is used in the production of many highly toxic pesticides, and chemical weapons banned by the Geneva Conventions. Dihydrogen monoxide is found in all tumors removed from cancer patients, and is guaranteed fatal to humans in large quantities and even small quantities can kill you, if it enters your respiratory system. In 2006, in Louisville, Kentucky, David Karem, executive director of the Waterfront Development Corporation, a public body that operates Waterfront Park, wished to deter bathers from using a large public fountain. "Counting on a lack of understanding about water's chemical makeup," he arranged for signs reading: "DANGER! – WATER CONTAINS HIGH LEVELS OF HYDROGEN – KEEP OUT" to be posted on the fountain at public expense.
Transportation

Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes 304

Posted by timothy
from the here's-your-spec-sheet dept.
mrspoonsi writes The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is adding crash imminent braking and dynamic braking support to its list of recommended advanced safety features for new cars. The former uses sensors to activate the brakes if a crash is imminent and the driver already hasn't. Dynamic braking support, on the other hand, increases stopping power if you haven't put enough pressure on the brake pedal. Like lane-departure and front collision warning systems, these features are available on some models already — this move gives them high-profile attention, though. And for good reason: As the NHSTA tells it, a third of 2013's police-reported car accidents were the rear-end crashes and a "large number" of the drivers either didn't apply the brakes at all (what?!) or fully before impact.
Power

At Oxford, a Battery That's Lasted 175 Years -- So Far 211

Posted by timothy
from the ceaseless-tintinnabulation dept.
sarahnaomi writes There sits, in the Clarendon Laboratory at Oxford University, a bell that has been ringing, nonstop, for at least 175 years. It's powered by a single battery that was installed in 1840. Researchers would love to know what the battery is made of, but they are afraid that opening the bell would ruin an experiment to see how long it will last. The bell's clapper oscillates back and forth constantly and quickly, meaning the Oxford Electric Bell, as it's called, has rung roughly 10 billion times, according to the university. It's made of what's called a "dry pile," which is one of the first electric batteries. Dry piles were invented by a guy named Giuseppe Zamboni (no relation to the ice resurfacing company) in the early 1800s. They use alternating discs of silver, zinc, sulfur, and other materials to generate low currents of electricity.
Windows

Surface RT Devices Won't Get Windows 10 158

Posted by Soulskill
from the take-that-early-adopters dept.
whoever57 writes: In its announcement of Windows 10, Microsoft indicated not all devices would get the updated operating system. Now, Microsoft says its Surface devices running Windows RT won't be receiving full updates, though it does plan to roll some new functionality into them. "Given that Windows RT and RT 8.1 were designed for power economizing devices sporting 32-bit ARM architecture, and never had the same functionality — to many users' frustration — as full-blown Windows 8 and 8.1, it comes as little surprise that the RT versions of the operating system should be left out of the latest update loop. In fact, a week before Microsoft's big Windows 10 reveal on January 21, the company released firmware updates for all three models of its Intel-powered Surface Pro series, but neither of the ARM-based Surface tablets — the Surface 2 or Surface RT — received any new updates this month." The Surface Pro line of tablets, which run a normal version of Windows, will be getting an update to Windows 10.
Graphics

NVIDIA Launches New Midrange Maxwell-Based GeForce GTX 960 Graphics Card 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the looking-good dept.
MojoKid writes NVIDIA is launching a new Maxwell desktop graphics card today, targeted at the sweet spot of the graphics card market ($200 or so), currently occupied by its previous gen GeForce GTX 760 and older GTX 660. The new GeForce GTX 960 features a brand new Maxwell-based GPU dubbed the GM206. NVIDIA was able to optimize the GM206's power efficiency without moving to a new process, by tweaking virtually every part of the GPU. NVIDIA's reference specifications for the GeForce GTX 960 call for a base clock of 1126MHz and a Boost clock of 1178MHz. The GPU is packing 1024 CUDA cores, 64 texture units, and 32 ROPs, which is half of what's inside their top-end GeForce GTX 980. The 2GB of GDDR5 memory on GeForce GTX 960 cards is clocked at a speedy 7GHz (effective GDDR5 data rate) over a 128-bit memory interface. The new GeForce GTX 960 is a low-power upgrade for gamers with GeForce GTX 660 class cards or older that make up a good percentage of the market now. It's usually faster than the previous generation GeForce GTX 760 card but, depending on the game title, can trail it as well, due to its narrower memory interface.
Transportation

Fake Engine Noise Is the Auto Industry's Dirty Little Secret 820

Posted by timothy
from the mazda-puts-it-right-up-front dept.
HughPickens.com writes Stomp on the gas in a new Ford Mustang or F-150 and you'll hear a meaty, throaty rumble — the same style of roar that Americans have associated with auto power and performance for decades. Now Drew Harwell reports at the Washington Post that the auto industry's dirty little secret is that the engine growl in some of America's best-selling cars and trucks is actually a finely tuned bit of lip-syncing, boosted through special pipes or digitally faked altogether. "Fake engine noise has become one of the auto industry's dirty little secrets, with automakers from BMW to Volkswagen turning to a sound-boosting bag of tricks," writes Harwell. "Without them, today's more fuel-efficient engines would sound far quieter and, automakers worry, seemingly less powerful, potentially pushing buyers away." For example Ford sound engineers and developers worked on an "Active Noise Control" system on the 2015 Mustang EcoBoost that amplifies the engine's purr through the car speakers. Afterward, the automaker surveyed members of Mustang fan clubs on which processed "sound concepts" they most enjoyed.

Among purists, the trickery has inspired an identity crisis and cut to the heart of American auto legend. The "aural experience" of a car, they argue, is an intangible that's just as priceless as what's revving under the hood. "For a car guy, it's literally music to hear that thing rumble," says Mike Rhynard, "It's a mind-trick. It's something it's not. And no one wants to be deceived." Other drivers ask if it really matters if the sound is fake? A driver who didn't know the difference might enjoy the thrum and thunder of it nonetheless. Is taking the best part of an eight-cylinder rev and cloaking a better engine with it really, for carmakers, so wrong? "It may be a necessary evil in the eyes of Ford," says Andrew Hard, "but it's sad to think that an iconic muscle car like the Mustang, a car famous for its bellowing, guttural soundtrack, has to fake its engine noise in 2015. Welcome to the future."
Robotics

DARPA Wants Atlas Robot To Go Wireless 19

Posted by Soulskill
from the need-mobility-to-kill-all-humans dept.
mikejuk writes: Atlas is a humanoid robot, one of the most advanced in the world. But it's always had cables that provided it with power and made it look a little like a dog on a leash. It was designed to provide a hardware platform for teams competing in the DARPA Robotics Challenge — a competition designed to encourage the construction of an effective disaster response robot. DARPA now says the finals of the challenge later in the year will require that the robots be completely wireless.

Power will be supplied by an onboard 3.7 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery. That battery will drive a variable-pressure pump which operates all of the hydraulic systems. The pump makes ATLAS much quieter, but introduces a complication for the teams: it can be run at low pressure to save power and then switched to high pressure to get harder work done. Managing power consumption will be a very difficult task, but DARPA has also upped the prize money to $3.5 million in total.
Power

Paris Terror Spurs Plan For Military Zones Around Nuclear Plants 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the also-no-toothpaste-allowed dept.
mdsolar sends this report from Bloomberg: Lawmakers in France want to create military zones around its 58 atomic reactors to boost security after this month's Paris terror attacks and almost two dozen mystery drone flights over nuclear plants that have baffled authorities.

"There's a legal void that needs to be plugged," said Claude de Ganay, the opposition member of the National Assembly spearheading legislation to be considered by parliament on Feb. 5. The proposals would classify atomic energy sites as "highly sensitive military zones" under the control of the Ministry of Defense, according to an outline provided by de Ganay.
Programming

Interviews: Alexander Stepanov and Daniel E. Rose Answer Your Questions 42

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
samzenpus (5) writes "Alexander Stepanov is an award winning programmer who designed the C++ Standard Template Library. Daniel E. Rose is a programmer, research scientist, and is the Chief Scientist for Search at A9.com. In addition to working together, the duo have recently written a new book titled, From Mathematics to Generic Programming. Earlier this month you had a chance to ask the pair about their book, their work, or programming in general. Below you'll find the answers to those questions."