Everything You Need to Know to Catch Up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Wired News - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 10:30am

The first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was certainly one that built to a big finish. After a year of smaller stories about the mysterious resurrection of Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and the origins of well-meaning-hacker-turned-government-stooge Skye (Chloe Bennett), the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier in theaters pushed the season's final episodes into an all-new direction. Need a refresher course on everything that went down before tomorrow's Season 2 premiere? We've got you covered.

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Categories: Science

5 Comics You Need to Read Before Watching Gotham

Wired News - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 10:30am

The Batman origin-story show Gotham premieres tonight on Fox. Here are the comics you should read to ensure you're up on all of your Bat-knowledge before you watch.

The post 5 Comics You Need to Read Before Watching Gotham appeared first on WIRED.








Categories: Science

How Information Theory Could Hold the Key to Quantifying Nature

Wired News - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 10:30am

The Western Ghats in India rise like a wall between the Arabian Sea and the heart of the subcontinent to the east. The 1,000-mile-long chain of coastal mountains is dense with lush rainforest and grasslands, and each year, clouds bearing monsoon rains blow in from the southwest and break against the mountains’ flanks, unloading water […]

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Categories: Science

BMW Has Finally Made a Gorgeous Bike That’ll Appeal to Young Riders

Wired News - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 10:30am

BMW motorcycles have long been considered chariots for gray-haired commuters and intrepid adventure riders. Yes, the company makes the occasional insane superbike and even built a cruiser for awhile, but the quintessential Beemer (the cars are “Bimmers”) is a globe-trotting workhorse like the R 1200 GS. There’s nothing wrong with that. But we’re still thrilled […]

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Categories: Science

Sublime Yet Troubling Aerial Photos of Humanity’s Environmental Destruction

Wired News - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 10:30am

At first glance, photojournalist Colin Finlay’s aerial photos appear to be beautiful landscapes. Read their captions, though, and it becomes clear many of the scenes he captures are quite ugly, depicting environments scarred by industry and climate change.

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Categories: Science

MIT Students Battle State’s Demand for Their Bitcoin Miner’s Source Code

Wired News - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 10:30am

Four MIT students behind an award-winning Bitcoin mining tool will face off against New Jersey state authorities in court today when they attempt to fight back against a subpoena demanding their source code. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is representing 19-year-old MIT student Jeremy Rubin and three classmates in a remarkable case that stands out for […]

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Categories: Science

Vrvana's Totem HMD Puts a Camera Over Each Eye

Slashdot - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 8:50am
The Verge reports that Montreal startup Vrvana has produced a prototype of its promised (and crowd-funded) VR Totem headset. One interesting aspect of the Totem is the inclusion of front-facing cameras, one over each eye, the output of which can be fed to the displays. Reviewer Mike Futter has worn a prototype, and seems to be generally impressed, writing at Game Informer: Vrvana’s device offers 1080p resolution and features 90-degree field of view (the same as the Project Morpheus, but less than the Oculus Rift's 100-degree FOV), an OLED display, and adjustable lenses that can compensate for lens prescription. The HMD is usable by glasses wearers, but the tuning provides an option for those that don't want to wear corrective lenses while in VR. The system connects via HDMI to any source, and can model 3D (side-by-side) from game consoles as virtual reality right now. The Totem is currently compatible with all Oculus developer kit 1 applications, and Vrvana is working on getting DK2 experiences working. The prototype I wore was a good proof of concept, but didn't yet feature the OLED screen. This led to increased persistence due to the LCD. The head tracking also wasn't perfect, requiring some software tuning to prevent drift (something easily surmountable down the road). The clarity was impressive, rivaling some of the best experiences I've had with a Rift or Morpheus.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Superlattice transforms graphene into a semiconductor

Kurzweil AI - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 8:44am

Graphene placed on top of boron nitride, a step in forming a superlattice (credit: Berkeley Lab)

Graphene can be transformed into a new superlattice state that converts graphene — normally a metallic conductor — into a semiconductor, MIT and University of Manchester researchers have found.

In a research paper published in Science, the collaboration, led by MIT‘s theory professor Leonid Levitov and Manchester‘s Nobel laureate Sir Andre Geim, reports that they created a superlattice by placing graphene on top of boron nitride (BN) and then aligned the crystal lattices of the two materials.

The research suggests that transistors made from graphene superlattices should consume less energy than conventional semiconductor transistors because charge carriers drift perpendicular to the electric field, which results in little energy dissipation.

“It is quite a fascinating effect, and it hits a very soft spot in our understanding of complex, so-called topological materials,” said Geim. “It is extremely rare to come across a phenomenon that bridges materials science, particle physics, relativity and topology.”

Earlier research at Berkeley Lab showed that graphene supported on a boron nitride substrate had dramatically better electron mobility than graphene mounted on the most common semiconductor substrate, silicon dioxide.

“What first attracted investigators to boron nitride’s potential as a graphene substrate were its unusual structural properties,” according to a Berkeley Lab statement. “In its hexagonal structure (h-BN), alternating nitrogen and boron atoms closely mimic the way carbon atoms are arranged in graphene.”

Abstract of Science paper

Topological materials may exhibit Hall-like currents flowing transversely to the applied electric field even in the absence of a magnetic field. In graphene superlattices, which have broken inversion symmetry, topological currents originating from graphene’s two valleys are predicted to flow in opposite directions and combine to produce long-range charge neutral flow. We observe this effect as a nonlocal voltage at zero magnetic field in a narrow energy range near Dirac points at distances as large as several microns away from the nominal current path. Locally, topological currents are comparable in strength to the applied current, indicating large valley-Hall angles. The long-range character of topological currents and their transistor-like control by gate voltage can be exploited for information processing based on the valley degrees of freedom.

Categories: Science

Researchers Propose a Revocable Identity-Based Encryption Scheme

Slashdot - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 5:49am
jd writes Identity-based public key encryption works on the idea of using something well-known (like an e-mail address) as the public key and having a private key generator do some wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff to generate a secure private key out if it. A private key I can understand, secure is another matter. In fact, the paper notes that security has been a big hassle in IBE-type encryption, as has revocation of keys. The authors claim, however, that they have accomplished both. Which implies the public key can't be an arbitrary string like an e-mail, since presumably you would still want messages going to said e-mail address, otherwise why bother revoking when you could just change address? Anyways, this is not the only cool new crypto concept in town, but it is certainly one of the most intriguing as it would be a very simple platform for building mostly-transparent encryption into typical consumer apps. If it works as advertised. I present it to Slashdot readers to engender discussion on the method, RIBE in general and whether (in light of what's known) default strong encryption for everything is something users should just get whether they like it or not.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

Russian scientists create ultrahard ‘Fullerite’ material at room temperature and lower pressure

Kurzweil AI - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 5:42am

Photo of a Vickers indenter made of ultrahard fullerite (credit: Mikhai lPopov)

A method for synthesis of an ultrahard material called Fullerite (exceeding diamond in hardness) at room temperature and lower pressure has been developed by Russian researchers from the Technological Institute for Superhard and Novel Carbon Materials in Troitsk, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), MISiS, and MSU.

The research is described in a recently published paper in the journal Carbon.

Fullerite is a polymer composed of fullerenes, or spherical molecules made of carbon atoms. It has become first on the list of ultra hard materials (harder than diamond),  with values that range from 150 to 300 GPa.

Diamond anvils malformed during synthesis of ultrahard fullerite. Note the dent in the center. (Credit: MIPT)

Creating an ultrahard material

What makes synthesizing fullerite in large quantities so difficult is the high pressure required for the reaction to begin. Formation of the three-dimensional polymer begins at a pressure of 13 GPa, or 130,000 atm (atmospheres). But modern equipment cannot provide such pressure on a large scale.

The scientists in the current study have shown that adding carbon disulfide (CS2) to the initial mixture of reagents can accelerate fullerite synthesis, even if the pressure is only 8GPa. In addition, while previous efforts to synthesize fullerite at a pressure of 13 GPa required heating up to 1100K (more than 820 degrees Celsius), in the new research, it occurs at room temperature.

“The discovery will create a new research area in materials science because it substantially reduces the pressure required for synthesis and allows for manufacturing the material and its derivatives on an industrial scale,” explained Mikhail Popov, lead author of the research paper and head of the laboratory of functional nanomaterials at FSBI TISNCM.

Abstract of Carbon paper

3D polymerization of C60 realizes under conditions of large plastic deformation at pressure 6–7 GPa and room temperature in the presence of CS2. The phase of 3D-polymerized C60 is identical to ultrahard fullerite synthesized from pure C60 at 18 GPa pressure: in both cases, the samples plough diamond during the rotation of the sample in a shear diamond anvil cell, bulk module is 585 GPa, and a sequence of phase transitions preceding to ultrahard phase is also the same in both cases (in the presence of CS2, the phase transitions take place at lower pressures than in pure C60). Raman and transmission microscope studies confirm the structure equivalence of samples of both types. The absence of sulfur in the structure of ultrahard fullerite synthesized in the presence of CS2 proves the catalysis role of CS2 in the 3D polymerization of C60.

Categories: Science

Ultra-thin diamond nanothreads are strongest, stiffest materials

Kurzweil AI - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 4:59am

Diamond nanothread visualization (credit: Penn State University)

Scientists have discovered how to produce ultra-thin “diamond nanothreads” that promise extraordinary properties, including strength and stiffness greater than that of today’s strongest nanotubes and polymers.

A paper describing this discovery by a research team led by John V. Badding, a professor of chemistry at Penn State University, was published in the September 21, 2014 issue of the journal Nature Materials.

Potential applications that most interest Badding are those that would be vastly improved by having exceedingly strong, stiff, and light materials, including lighter, more fuel-efficient, and therefore less-polluting vehicles.

Possible use in a space elevator

“One of our wildest dreams for the nanomaterials we are developing is that they could be used to make the super-strong, lightweight cables that would make possible the construction of a “space elevator” (a cable fixed to the equator and reaching up into space), which so far has existed only as a science-fiction idea,” Badding said.

Structure of diamond, consisting of carbon atoms in tetrahedral groups (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

“Our discovery is intriguing because the threads we formed have a structure that has never been seen before,” Badding said.

The core is a long, thin strand of carbon atoms arranged just like the fundamental unit of a diamond’s structure — zig-zag “cyclohexane” rings of six carbon atoms bound together, in which each carbon is surrounded by others in the strong triangular-pyramid shape of a tetrahedron.

“It is as if an incredible jeweler has strung together the smallest possible diamonds into a long miniature necklace,” Badding said.

“Because this thread is diamond at heart, we expect that it will prove to be extraordinarily stiff, extraordinarily strong, and extraordinarily useful.”

The team’s discovery comes after nearly a century of failed attempts by other labs to compress separate carbon-containing molecules like liquid benzene into an ordered, diamond-like nanomaterial.


John Badding, professor of chemistry at Penn State, talks about his research.
— PSU Science Media Relations and Public Information

How to create the ‘strongest, stiffest material possible’

“We used the large high-pressure Paris-Edinburgh device at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to compress a 6-millimeter-wide amount of benzene — a gigantic amount compared with previous experiments,” said Malcolm Guthrie of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, a coauthor of the research paper.

“We discovered that slowly releasing the pressure after sufficient compression at normal room temperature gave the carbon atoms the time they needed to react with each other and to link up in a highly ordered chain of single-file carbon tetrahedrons, forming these diamond-core nanothreads.”

Diamond nanothread chemical structure (credit: Thomas C. Fitzgibbons et al./Nature Materials)

The molecule they compressed is benzene — a flat ring containing six carbon atoms and six hydrogen atoms. The resulting diamond-core nanothread is surrounded by a halo of hydrogen atoms. During the compression process, the scientists report, the flat benzene molecules stack together, bend, and break apart. Then, as the researchers slowly release the pressure, the atoms reconnect in an entirely different yet very orderly way. The result is a structure that has carbon in the tetrahedral configuration of diamond with hydrogens hanging out to the side and each tetrahedron bonded with another to form a long, thin, nanothread.

“It really is surprising that this kind of organization happens,” Badding said. “That the atoms of the benzene molecules link themselves together at room temperature to make a thread is shocking to chemists and physicists.

“Considering earlier experiments, we think that, when the benzene molecule breaks under very high pressure, its atoms want to grab onto something else but they can’t move around because the pressure removes all the space between them. This benzene then becomes highly reactive so that, when we release the pressure very slowly, an orderly polymerization reaction happens that forms the diamond-core nanothread.”

Badding’s team is the first to coax molecules containing carbon atoms to form the strong tetrahedron shape, then link each tetrahedron end to end to form a long, thin nanothread. He describes the thread’s width as phenomenally small, only a few atoms across, hundreds of thousands of times smaller than an optical fiber, enormously thinner that an average human hair. “Theory by our co-author Vin Crespi suggests that this is potentially the strongest, stiffest material possible, while also being light in weight,” he said.

The scientists confirmed the structure of their diamond nanothreads with a number of techniques at Penn State, Oak Ridge, Arizona State University, and the Carnegie Institution of Washington, including X-ray diffraction, neutron diffraction, Raman spectroscopy, first-principle calculations, transmission electron microscopy, and solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR).

Parts of these first diamond nanothreads appear to be somewhat less than perfect, so improving their structure is a continuing goal of Badding’s research program. He also wants to discover how to make more of them. “The high pressures that we used to make the first diamond nanothread material limit our production capacity to only a couple of cubic millimeters at a time, so we are not yet making enough of it to be useful on an industrial scale,” Badding said.

“One of our science goals is to remove that limitation by figuring out the chemistry necessary to make these diamond nanothreads under more practical conditions.”

The nanothread also may be the first member of a new class of diamond-like nanomaterials based on a strong tetrahedral core. “Our discovery that we can use the natural alignment of the benzene molecules to guide the formation of this new diamond nanothread material is really interesting because it opens the possibility of making many other kinds of molecules based on carbon and hydrogen,” Badding said.

“You can attach all kinds of other atoms around a core of carbon and hydrogen. The dream is to be able to add other atoms that would be incorporated into the resulting nanothread. By pressurizing whatever liquid we design, we may be able to make an enormous number of different materials.”

Researchers at the Carnegie Institution and Arizona State University were also involved in the research, which received financial support as part of the Energy Frontier Research in Extreme Environments (EFree) Center, and Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Categories: Science

Vote Now! Best Space Stories of the Week – Sept. 21, 2014

Space.com - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 3:51am
What was your favorite space news story of the last week?
Categories: Science

Best Space Photos of the Week - Sept. 21, 2014

Space.com - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 3:07am
From some celestial sleuthing for a famous painting to stunning aurora photos, don't miss these amazing space images of the week for Sept. 21, 2014.
Categories: Science

Small Restaurant Out-Maneuvers Yelp In Reviews War

Slashdot - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 2:53am
An anonymous reader writes Yelp has, for the past year or so, garnered a reputation for extorting businesses into paying for advertising on their site. Allegations include incessant calls for advertising contracts, automatic listing of a business, and suppressing good reviews should a business decide to opt out of paying Yelp for listing them. One small Italian trattoria, however, may have succeeded in flipping Yelp's legally sanctioned business practices in its favor. The owners of Botto Bistro in Redmond, CA, initially agreed to pay for advertising on Yelp one year ago apparently because they were tired of getting calls from Yelp's sales team. But even after buying advertising, the owners claim that they kept receiving calls. So they started a campaign to get as many one-star reviews as they could, even offering 25% discounts to customers. As of this writing they have 866, and a casual perusal of them reveals enthusiastic tongue-in-cheek support for the restaurant. One-star reviews, once Yelp's best scare tactic, is now this particular business's badge of quality. And they didn't even have to pay Yelp for it.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

'MAVEN Is Now In Mars Orbit' - Mission Control Video

Space.com - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 2:47am
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) was inserted into Mars orbit on September 21st, 2014. The minutes leading to engine cutoff are explained by the flight systems manager Tim Priser and mission control celebrates the announcement.
Categories: Science

NASA Spacecraft Arrives at Mars to Probe Mysteries of Red Planet's Air

Space.com - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 2:39am
After a 10-month journey through deep space, NASA's MAVEN probe arrived in Mars orbit late Sunday, on a mission to help determine why the Red Planet changed from a warm and wet place in the ancient past to the cold, arid world it is today.
Categories: Science

Narrow focus on physical activity could be ruining kids' playtime

Science Daily - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 2:36am
While public health authorities focus on the physical activity benefits of active play, a new study reveals that for children, playing has no goal -- it is an end in itself, an activity that is fun, done alone or with friends, and it represents "an opportunity to experience excitement or pleasure, but also to combat boredom, sadness, fear, or loneliness."'By focusing on the physical activity aspect of play, authorities put aside several aspects of play that are beneficial to young people's emotional and social health,' says a professor.
Categories: Science

Fear of failure from a young age affects attitude to learning

Science Daily - Mon, 22/09/2014 - 2:35am
An early established fear of failure at school can influence students’ motivation to learn and negatively affect their attitude to learning. The analysis found that irrespective of the goal students adopt those who had developed a fear of failure at an early age were more likely to adopt the goal to validate their ego rather than for their own personal interest and development, and were less likely to use effective learning strategies but more likely to cheat.
Categories: Science

2 Mars Missions Set For Arrival, Both Prepare for Orbital Maneuvers

Slashdot - Sun, 21/09/2014 - 11:59pm
As reported by the BBC, NASA's Maven Mars orbiter has nearly reached the red planet, and will undergo a 33-minute rocket burn to slow its course. Monday's big manoeuvre on Maven's engines will place the satellite in a high, elliptical, 35-hour orbit around the planet. Confirmation of capture should be received on Earth shortly after 0220 GMT (2220 EDT Sunday; 0320 BST). "We should have a preliminary answer within just a few minutes after the end of the burn," said [principal investigator professor Bruce] Jakosky. In the coming weeks, engineers will then work to bring Maven into a regular 4.5-hour, operational orbit that takes the probe as close as 150km to Mars but also sends it out to 6,200km. India's first mission to Mars faces a critical test as it does a similar maneuver -- firing of a rocket to slow its travel as it approaches Mars orbit.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science

2 Mars Missions Set For Arrival, Both Prepare for Orbital Maneuvers

Slashdot - Sun, 21/09/2014 - 11:59pm
As reported by the BBC, NASA's Maven Mars orbiter has nearly reached the red planet, and will undergo a 33-minute rocket burn to slow its course. Monday's big manoeuvre on Maven's engines will place the satellite in a high, elliptical, 35-hour orbit around the planet. Confirmation of capture should be received on Earth shortly after 0220 GMT (2220 EDT Sunday; 0320 BST). "We should have a preliminary answer within just a few minutes after the end of the burn," said [principal investigator professor Bruce] Jakosky. In the coming weeks, engineers will then work to bring Maven into a regular 4.5-hour, operational orbit that takes the probe as close as 150km to Mars but also sends it out to 6,200km. India's first mission to Mars faces a critical test as it does a similar maneuver -- firing of a rocket to slow its travel as it approaches Mars orbit.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: Science