Hugh Pickens writes "Pervasive thefts of copper wire from under the streets of Fresno, California have prompted the city to seal thousands of its manhole covers with concrete. In Picher, Oklahoma, someone felled the town's utility poles with chain saws, allowing thieves to abscond with 3,000 feet of wire while causing a blackout. The theft of copper cables costs U.S. companies $60 million a year and the FBI says it considers theft of copper wire to be a threat to the nation's baseline ability to function. But now PC World reports that a U.S. company has developed a new cable design that removes almost all the copper from cables in a bid to deter metal thieves. Unlike conventional cables made from solid copper, the GroundSmart Copper Clad Steel Cable consists of a steel core bonded to a copper outer casing, forming an equally effective but far less valuable cable by exploiting the corrosion-resistance of copper with the conductive properties of steel. 'Companies trying to protect their copper infrastructure have been going to extreme measures to deter theft, many of which are neither successful nor cost effective,' says CommScope vice president, Doug Wells. 'Despite efforts like these, thieves continue to steal copper because of its rising value. The result is costly damage to networks and growing service disruptions.' The GroundSmart Copper Clad Steel cable is the latest technical solution to the problem of copper theft, which has included alternatives like cable etching to aid tracing of stolen metal and using chemicals that leave stains detectable under ultra-violet light. However the Copper Clad Steel strikes at the root of the problem by making the cable less susceptible to theft by both increasing the resistance to cutting and drastically decreasing the scrap value."
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kkleiner writes "Researchers from Tel Aviv University in Israel and Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston have collaborated to create a robot that can swim through the intestines. The size of a large pill, the 'microswimmer' is powered by the strong magnetic fields generated by an MRI machine. A tail measuring 20mm x 5mm made of copper and flexible polymer vibrates due to the magnets and propels the little microrobot through the gut."
OverTheGeicoE writes "CNET has a story on DHS' whole car X-ray scanners and their potential cancer risks. The story focuses on the Z Portal scanner, which appears to be a stationary version of the older Z Backscatter Vans. The story provides interesting pictures of the device and the images it produces, but it also raises important questions about the devices' cancer risks. The average energy of the X-ray beam used is three times that used in a CT scan, which could be big trouble for vehicle passengers and drivers should a vehicle stop in mid-scan. Some studies show the risk for cancer from CT scans can be quite high. Worse still, the DHS estimates of the Z Portal's radiation dosage are likely to be several orders of magnitude too low. 'Society will pay a huge price in cancer because of this,' according to one scientist."
twdorris writes "Is this an example of our 3-part government actually working as intended? It seems the executive branch doesn't agree with the legislative on a key piece of SOPA. From the article: '"While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global internet," the White House said in a blog post.'"
quantr writes "Arfa Karim, child prodigy, youngest certified Microsoft Professional in the world and winner of the president’s Pride of Performance, breathed her last breath on Saturday night at the Combined Military Hospital in Lahore. Arfa had an epileptic attack on December 22 and had been in a coma since."
First time accepted submitter xby2_arch writes "After spending over 12 years writing OLTP applications (Java EE/JDBC/ORMs), I decided to dabble in the OLAP world. I had decent DB skills, considering most of my previous projects had involved data modeling and coding using Stored Procs, etc. Yet I hadn't designed or implemented any dimensional databases. Luckily for me, I had enough relevant domain knowledge to land a developer job in a data warehousing project. The work was enjoyable enough that it motivated me to spend that extra time and effort I needed to cope with the different dynamics of coding in the OLAP realm. In my past life, data volumes weren't the primary concern (instead, transaction volumes were), here, everything was about data. ETL/Integrations present another set of problems you generally skirt in a typical web/app-tier developer role. All in all, it turned out to be a non-trivial, yet worthwhile transition. I am certain that there are plenty of seasoned developers out there who plan to make a similar move (or have made already), who see data as the next chapter in their careers evolving toward becoming Enterprise Architects. I want to hear what's holding them back, or what helped them move forward. What should be considered a prerequisite to make this switch, and what are the risks, etc.?"
mathfeel writes "Indulge me in some post hoc reasoning here: After last week's episode of This American Life 'Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory,' a very interesting show, Apple announced that 'For the first time, Apple has released a list of companies that build its products around the world. In another first, the company also announced that it will allow an independent third party to check on working conditions at those factories, and to make its findings public.' But before you celebrate Apple's gesture (or complain about the potential increase in electronic price): 'It doesn't appear that Apple's partnership with the FLA will increase transparency in this regard either. The FLA will audit 5% of the factories that make Apple products, but like Apple, it will not name which ones it checks or where it finds violations.'"
First time accepted submitter sabre86 writes "At the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics Aerospace Sciences Meeting in Nashville, NASA engineers unveiled the newly open sourced OpenVSP, software that allows users to construct full aircraft models from simple parameters such as wing span and fuselage length, under the NASA Open Source Agreement. Says the website, 'OpenVSP allows the user to create a 3D model of an aircraft defined by common engineering parameters. This model can be processed into formats suitable for engineering analysis.'"
sciencehabit writes "If you've ever wondered what a virus sounds like, or what noise a bacterium makes when it moves between hosts, you may soon get your chance to find out. Scientists have created the world's tiniest ear. The 'nano-ear,' a microscopic particle of gold trapped by a laser beam, can detect sound a million times fainter than the threshold for human hearing. Researchers suggest the work could open up a whole new field of 'acoustic microscopy,' in which organisms are studied using the sound they emit."
Hugh Pickens writes "Until recently, geothermal power systems have exploited only resources where naturally occurring heat, water, and rock permeability are sufficient to allow energy extraction. Now, geothermal energy developers plan use a new technology called Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) to pump 24 million gallons of water into the side of the dormant Newberrry Volcano, located about 20 miles south of Bend, Oregon, in an effort to use the earth's heat to generate power. 'We know the heat is there,' says Susan Petty, president of AltaRock Energy, Inc. of Seattle. 'The big issue is can we circulate enough water through the system to make it economic.' Since natural cracks and pores do not allow economic flow rates, the permeability of the volcanic rock can be enhanced with EGS by pumping high-pressure cold water down an injection well into the rock, creating tiny fractures in the rock, a process known as hydroshearing. Then cold water is pumped down production wells into the reservoir, and the steam is drawn out. Natural geothermal resources only account for about 0.3 percent of U.S. electricity production, but a 2007 Massachusetts Institute of Technology report projected EGS could bump that to 10 percent within 50 years, at prices competitive with fossil-fuels. 'The important question we need to answer now,' says USGS geophysicist Colin Williams, 'is how geothermal fits into the renewable energy picture, and how EGS fits. How much it is going to cost, and how much is available.'"
TomOfAmalfi writes "Andrea Rossi says he can provide domestic energy sources (about 10 kW) based on his E-Cat system (a Low Energy Nuclear Reaction or Cold Fusion energy source) for between 100 and 150 US$/kW and begin shipping this year. Many people are skeptical about Rossi's claims because he has not explained how his 'reactors' work (apparently the reactors contain ingenious security devices to prevent reverse engineering), there is no theoretical basis to support his process, and no one has supplied independent measurements to support the specs on his black boxes. However, buried at the bottom of a NASA web page there is a comment about progress in 'cold fusion' research and a link to the slides used in a September 2011 presentation (PDF) which talks about LENR research. NASA has also released a video describing the great benefits we will get from NASA LENR research. Could Rossi be on to something?"
New submitter cervesaebraciator writes "The Atlantic Wire reports that the Navy has a tested solution to the possible mining of the Strait of Hormuz. The Navy has 80 dolphins in San Diego Bay trained to use their own sonar to detect mines. When they find the mines, the dolphins drop an acoustic transponder nearby, so that human divers might return to defuse it. Retired Adm. Tim Keating cannot say, however, whether the dolphins will be used in the Straight." The Obama administration has reportedly warned Iran that closing the Strait would provoke an American response.
revealingheart writes "BBC reports that Sweden is allowing one citizen per week to take control of its official Twitter feed, in what's been described as 'the world's most democratic Twitter experiment.' Adam Arnesson, a 21-year-old organic sheep farmer, is said to be the biggest star of the project so far, uploading photos and videos of life on his family's farm; while a female minister in the Church of Sweden and a Bosnian immigrant have also posted on the feed. The Swedish Institute and VisitSweden launched the experiment in December, which has helped to double Sweden's Twitter followers in the past month."
An anonymous reader tips news that The Pirate Bay is making a move away from .torrent files in favor of 'magnet links.' On Thursday the site made magnet links the default, and TorrentFreak reports that they'll stop serving .torrent files altogether in about a month. "The announcement is bound to lead to confusion and uncertainty among many torrent users, but in reality very little will change for the average Pirate Bay visitor. Users will still be able to download files, but these will now be started through a magnet link instead of a .torrent file. The Pirate Bay team told TorrentFreak that one of the advantages of the transition to a 'magnet site' is that it requires relatively little bandwidth to host a proxy. This is topical, since this week courts in both Finland and the Netherlands ordered local Internet providers to block the torrent site. Perhaps even better, without the torrent files everyone can soon host a full copy of The Pirate Bay on a USB thumb drive, which may come in handy in the future."
PuceBaboon writes "It's worth noting that, in addition to the main FreeBSD release covered here recently, PC-BSD has also released their 'Isotope' edition, based on FreeBSD 9.0. Why would you be interested? Well, PC-BSD, while not the first, is certainly the most current version of FreeBSD aimed squarely at the desktop user. Pre-configured for the desktop and using a graphical installer, the 9.0 release includes KDE, GNOME, XFCE and LXDE desktop environments, an update manager, WiFi 'quick connect,' BootCamp support and auto-configuration for most common hardware. Live-CD, VirtualBox and VMware release images for 32- and 64-bit architectures also make it easier than ever for users to test the release before committing to a full install. Check out the torrents (scroll down), main download page and the PC-BSD 9.0 manual pages."