Watch This Foldable Mini-Drone Launch in a Snap

Wired News - Tue, 19/05/2015 - 11:00am

A pair of Swiss researchers have built a small foldable drone that can unfurl and take off within seconds.

The post Watch This Foldable Mini-Drone Launch in a Snap appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

The Untold Story of ILM, a Titan That Forever Changed Film

Wired News - Tue, 19/05/2015 - 11:00am

The definitive oral history of ILM, the special effects powerhouse that revolutionized moviemaking and changed entertainment forever.

The post The Untold Story of ILM, a Titan That Forever Changed Film appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Eying Bitcoin-Like Stock, Overstock Invests in Trading Firm

Wired News - Tue, 19/05/2015 - 11:00am

The hope is that blockchain technology can provide a truly independent, more reliable, and more transparent way of managing trades.

The post Eying Bitcoin-Like Stock, Overstock Invests in Trading Firm appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

What’s Inside Dry Shampoo? Alcohol, Petroleum, and Clay

Wired News - Tue, 19/05/2015 - 11:00am

Today's dry shampoos are a little more complicated than the arrowroot that Victorians sprinkled on their locks, but their formulas basically do the same thing: soak up grease.

The post What’s Inside Dry Shampoo? Alcohol, Petroleum, and Clay appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Yeah, an Italian Hoedown Is as Weird as You’d Think It Is

Wired News - Tue, 19/05/2015 - 11:00am

From good old fashioned line dancing to mechanical bull riding, you too can experience the wild, wild West in Italy.

The post Yeah, an Italian Hoedown Is as Weird as You’d Think It Is appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

European Internet Users Urged To Protect Themselves Against Facebook Tracking

Slashdot - Tue, 19/05/2015 - 9:31am
An anonymous reader writes: Belgium's Privacy Protection Commission says that Facebook tramples on European privacy laws by tracking people online without their consent and dodges questions from national regulators. They have issued a set of recommendations for both Facebook, website owners and end users. Net-Security reports: "The recommendations are based on the results of an extensive analysis of Facebook's revised policies and terms (rolled out on January 30, 2015) conducted by the inter-university research center EMSOC/SPION, which concluded that the company is acting in violation of European law. According to them Facebook places too much burden on its users to protect their privacy, and then doesn't offer simple tools and settings to do so, and sets up some problematic default settings. They also don't provide adequate information for users to make informed choices."

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Categories: Science

UK Criminals Use Drones To Case Burglary Prospects

Slashdot - Tue, 19/05/2015 - 7:01am
turkeydance writes: Burglars in the UK are sending unmanned drones over houses in order to identify potential targets, police have warned. Suffolk Constabulary confirmed it had received at least one report of drones being used by burglars for surveillance of properties. Paul Ford, secretary of the Police Federation National Detectives Forum, said: “Drones can be noisy and very visible so hopefully criminals risk giving themselves away. If members of the public observe drones being used in areas which make them suspicious they should contact police using the 101 non-emergency number to report it."

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US Navy Abandons Cloud and Data Center Plans In Favor of New Strategy

Slashdot - Tue, 19/05/2015 - 4:31am
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Navy is not pleased with the progress it has made on data center consolidation and plans to change strategies. "Later this year, we will make an organizational change to our approach to data center consolidation. The Data Center and Application Optimization (DCAO) program office will move from under Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) headquarters to under Program Executive Office-Enterprise Information Systems (PEO-EIS) as a separate entity or program office," said John Zangardi, the Navy's deputy assistant secretary for command, control, computers, intelligence, information operations and space and acting chief information officer. The secretary added that over the past three years, the U.S. Department of the Navy had consolidated 290 IT systems and applications at 45 national sites.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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New graphene-like two-dimensional material could improve energy storage

Kurzweil AI - Tue, 19/05/2015 - 3:53am

Porous, layered structure of highly conductive powder Ni3(HITP)2 (credit: Mircea Dinca, MIT)

MIT and Harvard University researchers have created a graphene-like electrically conductive. porous, layered material as possible new tool for storing energy and investigating the physics of unusual materials.

They synthesized the material using an organic molecule called HITP and nickel ions, forming a new compound: Ni3(HITP)2.

The new porous material is a crystalline, structurally tunable electrical conductor with a high surface area — features that are ideal for supercapacitors, which could extend the range of electric vehicles by capturing and storing the energy that would normally be wasted when brakes slow down a vehicle.

The new material is composed of stacks of unlimited numbers of two-dimensional sheets resembling graphite, with a room temperature electrical conductivity of ~40 S/cm (Siemens per centimeter). The conductivity of this material is comparable to that of bulk graphite and among the highest for any conducting Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs)* reported to date.

Also, the temperature-dependence of its conductivity linear at temperatures between 100 K (Kelvin) and 500 K, suggesting an unusual charge transport mechanism that has not been previously observed in any organic semiconductors, and thus remains to be investigated.

In bulk form, the material could be used for electrocatalysis applications (modifying the rate of chemical reactions) similar to how platinum works (but at lower cost). Upon exfoliation (peeling off of successive layers), the material is expected to behave similar to graphene, but with tunable bandgap and electromagnetic properties, suggesting new uses in electronic circuits and new exotic quantum properties in solid-state physics.

* MOFs are hybrid organic-inorganic materials that have traditionally been studied for gas storage or separation applications owing to their high surface area. Making good electrical conductors out of these normally insulating materials has been a long-standing challenge, as highly porous intrinsic conductors could be used for a range of applications, including energy storage.

Abstract of High Electrical Conductivity in Ni3(2,3,6,7,10,11-hexaiminotriphenylene)2, a Semiconducting Metal–Organic Graphene Analogue

Reaction of 2,3,6,7,10,11-hexaaminotriphenylene with Ni2+ in aqueous NH3 solution under aerobic conditions produces Ni3(HITP)2 (HITP = 2,3,6,7,10,11-hexaiminotriphenylene), a new two-dimensional metal–organic framework (MOF). The new material can be isolated as a highly conductive black powder or dark blue-violet films. Two-probe and van der Pauw electrical measurements reveal bulk (pellet) and surface (film) conductivity values of 2 and 40 S·cm–1, respectively, both records for MOFs and among the best for any coordination polymer.

Categories: Science

Unraveling the mysteries of spider-web strength and damage-resistant design

Kurzweil AI - Tue, 19/05/2015 - 3:04am

Scientists at MIT have developed a systematic approach to research the structure of spider silk, blending computational modeling and mechanical analysis to 3D-print synthetic spider webs (credit: Zhao Qin et al./Nature Communications)

MIT scientists have developed a systematic approach to research the structure of spider “silk” (which ounce for ounce, is stronger than steel) and how spiders optimize their own webs. The researchers are  blending computational modeling and mechanical analysis to 3D-print synthetic spider webs, with the goal of fabricating and testing synthetic spider-web structures.

“This is the first methodical exploration of its kind,” says Professor Markus Buehler, head of MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), and the lead author of an open-access paper appearing in Nature Communications. “We are looking to expand our knowledge of the function of natural webs in a systematic and repeatable manner.”

The lessons learned through this approach may help harness spider silk’s strength for other uses, and ultimately inspire engineers to digitally design new structures and composites that are lighter, more reliable, and damage-resistant.

Reverse-engineering the spider’s sophisticated architecture

The study explores the relationship between spider web structure, loading points, and failure mechanisms. By adjusting the material distribution throughout an entire web, a spider is able to optimize the web’s strength for its anticipated prey.

The team, adopting an experimental setup, used metal structures to 3D-print synthetic webs, and directly integrate their data into models. “Ultimately we merged the physical with the computational in our experiments,” Buehler says.

According to Buehler, spider webs employ a limited amount of material to capture prey of different sizes, with materials only a few micrometers (millionths of a meter) in diameter.

The 3D-printed models, Lewis says, open the door to studying the effects of spider-web architecture on strength and damage tolerance — a feat that would have been impossible to achieve using only natural spider webs.

Buehler’s team used orb-weaver spider webs as the inspiration for their 3-D designs. In each of their samples, they controlled the diameter of the thread as a method of comparing homogeneous and heterogeneous thread thickness.

The work revealed that spider webs consisting of uniform thread diameters are better suited to bear force applied at a single point, such as the impact coming from flies hitting webs, while a nonuniform diameter can withstand more widespread pressure, such as from wind, rain, or gravity.

The team now plans to examine the dynamic aspects of webs through controlled impact and vibration experiments, changing the printed material’s properties in real time and opening the door to printing optimized, multifunctional structures.

Abstract of Structural optimization of 3D-printed synthetic spider webs for high strength

Spiders spin intricate webs that serve as sophisticated prey-trapping architectures that simultaneously exhibit high strength, elasticity and graceful failure. To determine how web mechanics are controlled by their topological design and material distribution, here we create spider-web mimics composed of elastomeric filaments. Specifically, computational modelling and microscale 3D printing are combined to investigate the mechanical response of elastomeric webs under multiple loading conditions. We find the existence of an asymptotic prey size that leads to a saturated web strength. We identify pathways to design elastomeric material structures with maximum strength, low density and adaptability. We show that the loading type dictates the optimal material distribution, that is, a homogeneous distribution is better for localized loading, while stronger radial threads with weaker spiral threads is better for distributed loading. Our observations reveal that the material distribution within spider webs is dictated by the loading condition, shedding light on their observed architectural variations.

Categories: Science

NASA challenges ‘makers’ to design 3-D printed habitats for deep-space exploration

Kurzweil AI - Tue, 19/05/2015 - 2:17am

One concept for a 3D-printed Moon habitat (credit: NASA)

NASA and the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (America Makes) are holding a new $2.25 million competition, the 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge, to design and build a 3-D printed habitat for deep space exploration, including the agency’s journey to Mars.

The program is designed to advance the additive construction technology needed to create sustainable housing solutions for Earth and beyond. The idea is to avoid taking along materials and equipment for building a habitat on a distant planet, which would take up valuable cargo space.

The first phase of the competition calls on participants to develop state-of-the-art architectural concepts that take advantage of the unique capabilities 3-D printing offers. A prize purse of $50,000 will be awarded at the 2015 Maker Faire in New York.

“The future possibilities for 3-D printing are inspiring, and the technology is extremely important to deep space exploration,” said Sam Ortega, Centennial Challenges program manager. “This challenge definitely raises the bar from what we are currently capable of, and we are excited to see what the maker community does with it.”

Robot prints a road in front of a hangar for a lunar lander (credit: Behnaz Farahi/NASA)

The second phase of the competition is divided into two levels. The Structural Member Competition (Level 1) focuses on the fabrication technologies needed to manufacture structural components from a combination of indigenous materials (such as Moon regolith) and recyclables, or indigenous materials alone. The On-Site Habitat Competition (Level 2) challenges competitors to actually fabricate full-scale habitats using indigenous materials or indigenous materials combined with recyclables. Both levels are open for registration Sept. 26, and each carries a $1.1 million prize.

Winning concepts and products will help NASA build the technical expertise to send habitat-manufacturing machines to distant destinations, such as Mars, to build shelters for the human explorers who follow. On Earth, these capabilities may be used one day to construct affordable housing in remote locations with limited access to conventional building materials.


Categories: Science

Robotic Space Plane Launches In Mystery Mission This Week

Slashdot - Tue, 19/05/2015 - 2:01am
mpicpp writes: The United States Air Force's robotic X-37B space plane will carry a NASA experiment into orbit when it launches on its next mystery mission Wednesday. The liftoff will begin the reusable space plane's fourth mission, which is known as OTV-4 (short for Orbital Test Vehicle-4). Since it's classified it's not entirely clear what the space plane will be doing once it leaves Earth Wednesday. This has led to some speculation that the vehicle might be a weapon, but officials have repeatedly refuted that notion, saying X-37B flights simply test a variety of new technologies. The X-37B looks like a miniature version of NASA's now-retired space shuttle. The robotic, solar-powered space plane is about 29 feet long by 9.5 feet tall (8.8 by 2.9 meters), with a wingspan of 15 feet (4.6 meters) and a payload bay the size of a pickup-truck bed. Like the space shuttle, the X-37B launches vertically and lands horizontally, on a runway.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Science

Spotify Is Turning Starbucks Baristas Into Coffee Shop DJs

Wired News - Tue, 19/05/2015 - 12:36am

Spotify is the official music option of Starbucks, and crowdsourced playlists are about to hit America's most popular coffee shop.

The post Spotify Is Turning Starbucks Baristas Into Coffee Shop DJs appeared first on WIRED.

Categories: Science

Forecasting the Next Pandemic

Slashdot - Tue, 19/05/2015 - 12:25am
sciencehabit writes: A new study led by Barbara A. Han, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, suggests a computer model that incorporates machine learning can pinpoint, with 90% accuracy, rodent species that are known to harbor pathogens that can spread to humans. Sciencemag reports on the study: "Han and her team first used their program to identify lifestyle patterns common to rodents harboring diseases like black plague, rabies, and hanta virus and found that their model had an accuracy rate of 90%. After the machine had 'learned' the telltale signs, the researchers searched for new rodents that fit the profile but were not previously thought to be carriers. So far, the model has identified more than 150 new animal species that could harbor zoonotic diseases, the researchers report online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The computer program also predicted 58 new infections in rodents that were already known to carry one zoonotic disease."

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Categories: Science

Four Quasars Found Clustered Together Defy Current Cosmological Expectations

Slashdot - Mon, 18/05/2015 - 11:42pm
StartsWithABang writes: Get a supermassive black hole feeding on matter, particularly on large amounts of cool, dense gas, and you're likely to get a quasar: a luminous, active galaxy emitting radiation from the radio all the way up through the X-ray. Our best understanding and observations indicate that these objects should be rare, transient, and isolated; no more than two have ever been found close together before. Until this discovery, that is, where we just found four within a million light years of one another, posing a problem for our current theories of structure formation in the Universe.

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Categories: Science

Sunshine alone not enough for vitamin D during pregnancy

Science Daily - Mon, 18/05/2015 - 11:16pm
Despite high levels of sunshine, low levels of vitamin D during pregnancy are common in Mediterranean women according to a new study. This finding should help lower the prevalence of early childhood diseases associated with Vitamin D deficiency such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, disorders in bone formation, higher risk of emergency caesarean delivery and premature birth.
Categories: Science

Smoking marijuana may cause early puberty and stunts growth in boys

Science Daily - Mon, 18/05/2015 - 11:16pm
Boys who smoke marijuana go through puberty earlier but grow more slowly than those who have never smoked the drug according to a new study.
Categories: Science

Obesity may exacerbate inactivity, due to poor motor skills

Science Daily - Mon, 18/05/2015 - 11:16pm
Obese adults have very poor motor skills which makes fine movements difficult for them, according to a new study. The findings suggest inactivity may not be a cause of obesity, but instead a result of poor motor skills associated with the condition. The work changes perceptions about inactivity in obese people as well as improving their quality of life.
Categories: Science

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Responds In Nepal

Slashdot - Mon, 18/05/2015 - 10:59pm
An anonymous reader writes with news about the efforts of the The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team to help in the aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal. The team asks those living in the affected areas to help out by reporting which buildings are damaged, which are still standing, and where fissures and other quake damage is located. has a profile of their efforts which reads: Since the devastating earthquake in Nepal, there have been responses from all over the world from relief agencies, governments, non-profits, and ordinary citizens. One interesting effort has been from the crowdsourced mapping community, especially on, a free and open web map of the world that anyone can edit (think the Wikipedia of maps.) The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), an NGO that works to train, coordinate, and organize mapping on OpenStreetMap for humanitarian, disaster response, and economic development, has mobilized volunteers from around the world to help map since the Haiti earthquake in 2010.

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Categories: Science

Using Satellites To Monitor Bridge Safety

Slashdot - Mon, 18/05/2015 - 10:15pm
__roo writes: In an effort to detect crumbling infrastructure before it causes damage and costs lives, the European Space Agency is working with the UK's University of Nottingham to monitor the movements of large structures as they happen using satellite navigation sensors. The team uses highly sensitive satnav receivers that transmit real-time data to detect movements as small as 1 cm combined with historical Earth observation satellite data. By placing sensors at key locations on the Forth Road Bridge in Scotland, they detected stressed structural members and unexpected deformations.

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Categories: Science