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Power

Shale: Good For Gas, Oil...and Nuclear Waste Disposal? 9

Posted by Soulskill
from the triple-threat dept.
Lasrick writes: Chris Neuzil is a senior scientist with the National Research Program of the U.S. Geological Survey. He thinks the qualities of shale make it the perfect rock in which to safely and permanently house high-level nuclear waste. Given the recent discovery that water is much more of an issue than originally thought for the tough rock at Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Utah, the unique qualities of shale, along with its ubiquitous presence in the U.S., could make shale rock a better choice for the 70,000 metric tons of commercial spent fuel currently sitting above ground at nuclear power facilities throughout the country. France, Switzerland, and Belgium are all considering repositories in shale, but it hasn't been studied much in the U.S. "Shale is the only rock type likely to house high-level nuclear waste in other countries that has never been seriously considered by the U.S. high-level waste program. The uncertain future of Yucca Mountain places plans for spent nuclear fuel in the United States at a crossroads. It is an opportunity to include shale in a truly comprehensive examination of disposal options."
Debian

Debian Forked Over Systemd 91

Posted by Soulskill
from the a-house-divided dept.
jaromil writes: The so called "Veteran Unix Admin" collective has announced that the fork of Debian will proceed as a result of the recent systemd controversy. The reasons put forward are not just technical; included is a letter of endorsement by Debian Developer Roger Leigh mentioning that "people rely on Debian for their jobs and businesses, their research and their hobbies. It's not a playground for such radical experimentation." The fork is called "Devuan," pronounced "DevOne." The official website has more information.
Portables

Intel Core M Notebooks Arrive, Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro Tested 23

Posted by Soulskill
from the confluence-of-awful-product-names dept.
MojoKid writes: Intel's 14nm Core M Broadwell architecture was announced a few months ago but to date, 2-in-1 hybrid devices and laptops have only trickled out to the market. Lenovo recently took the wraps off their Yoga 3 Pro 13-inch ultralight notebook and it's one of the few devices on the market right now that offers a glimpse of what Intel's Core M processor is capable of in performance and battery life testing. The 4.5 Watt TDP Core M 5Y70 actually keeps pace with 15-Watt previous generation Core i5 mobile chips in testing, but with significantly better battery life. It also enables very thin and light designs like the 2.6 pound Yoga 3 Pro, which is an interesting machine. Its watchband hinge allows it to contort into various positions for tablet, tent, stand and standard modes. The hinge is a "you love it or hate it" kind of thing, but does come with a 3200x1800 IPS display.
Star Wars Prequels

First Star War Episode 7 Trailer Released 197

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-saw-lens-flare dept.
Midnight Thunder writes: The first trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has been released. (YouTube link.) This is the first real opportunity to get a feeling for whether childhood dreams will be crushed or Disney, with the help of JJ Abrams, will be able to breath new life into the story without making it feel like a merchandising excuse.
Space

Philae May Have Grazed Crater Rim 35

Posted by Soulskill
from the move-fast-and-break-things dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The European Space Agency is gradually sorting through the data collected during the brief window Philae was alive and transmitting on the surface of a comet. Analysis of that data has provided another interesting clue about what happened to the probe as it bounced across the comet's surface. According to results from the on-board magnetometer, immediately after the first touchdown, the lander's spin rate increased somewhat. It continued to spin for about 36 minutes until another event dramatically changed its spin rate. This suggests it collided with something, because there was no corresponding vertical deceleration to indicate it had landed once more. Scientists think Philae likely grazed the rim of a crater with one of its landing legs. 65 minutes later, it landed again, and bounced to its final resting place just a few minutes later. The ESA's article has some interesting graphs showing how the data changed as the lander progressed through these different events.
The Internet

Security Experts Believe the Internet of Things Will Be Used To Kill Someone 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-for-a-ban-on-assault-internets dept.
dcblogs writes: Imagine a fleet of quad copters or drones equipped with explosives and controlled by terrorists. Or someone who hacks into a connected insulin pump and changes the settings in a lethal way. Or maybe the hacker who accesses a building's furnace and thermostat controls and runs the furnace full bore until a fire is started. Those may all sound like plot material for a James Bond movie, but there are security experts who now believe, as does Jeff Williams, CTO of Contrast Security, that "the Internet of Things will kill someone". Today, there is a new "rush to connect things" and "it is leading to very sloppy engineering from a security perspective," said Williams. Similarly, Rashmi Knowles, chief security architect at RSA, imagines criminals hacking into medical devices, recently blogged about hackers using pacemakers to blackmail users, and asked: "Question is, when is the first murder?"
Space

Swiss Scientists Discover DNA Remains Active After Space Journey and Re-entry 53

Posted by Soulskill
from the when-you-land-on-a-planet,-you're-landing-on-every-other-planet-it's-been-with dept.
Zothecula writes: It may sound like the first chapter of a Quatermass thriller, but scientists from the University of Zurich have discovered that DNA can survive not only a flight through space, but also re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere and still remain active. The findings are based on suborbital rocket flights and could have considerable impact on questions about the origins of life on Earth and the problems of terrestrial space probes contaminating other planets.
Japan

Volcanic Eruption In Japan Disrupts Flights 20

Posted by Soulskill
from the underground-affecting-the-skies dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A volcano in southern Japan erupted today, sending out chunks of magma and a kilometer-high plume of ash. Flights to and from the nearby city of Kumamoto were canceled, and a Japan Airlines spokesman said more could be disrupted if the eruption continues. "Mount Aso, whose huge caldera dominates the southwestern main island of Kyushu, rumbled into life on Tuesday. Meteorologists warned volcanic stones and ash could fall in a one-kilometer radius of the volcano. The eruption is Aso's first in 19 years and comes two months after Mount Ontake in central Nagano killed more than 60 hikers when it erupted without warning."
Math

Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering On 2012 Election 299

Posted by samzenpus
from the fix-is-in dept.
HughPickens.com writes Gerrymandering is the practice of establishing a political advantage for a particular party by manipulating district boundaries to concentrate all your opponents' votes in a few districts while keeping your party's supporters as a majority in the remaining districts. For example, in North Carolina in 2012 Republicans ended up winning nine out of 13 congressional seats even though more North Carolinians voted for Democrats than Republicans statewide. Now Jessica Jones reports that researchers at Duke are studying the mathematical explanation for the discrepancy. Mathematicians Jonathan Mattingly and Christy Vaughn created a series of district maps using the same vote totals from 2012, but with different borders. Their work was governed by two principles of redistricting: a federal rule requires each district have roughly the same population and a state rule requires congressional districts to be compact. Using those principles as a guide, they created a mathematical algorithm to randomly redraw the boundaries of the state's 13 congressional districts. "We just used the actual vote counts from 2012 and just retabulated them under the different districtings," says Vaughn. "If someone voted for a particular candidate in the 2012 election and one of our redrawn maps assigned where they live to a new congressional district, we assumed that they would still vote for the same political party."

The results were startling. After re-running the election 100 times with a randomly drawn nonpartisan map each time, the average simulated election result was 7 or 8 U.S. House seats for the Democrats and 5 or 6 for Republicans. The maximum number of Republican seats that emerged from any of the simulations was eight. The actual outcome of the election — four Democratic representatives and nine Republicans – did not occur in any of the simulations. "If we really want our elections to reflect the will of the people, then I think we have to put in safeguards to protect our democracy so redistrictings don't end up so biased that they essentially fix the elections before they get started," says Mattingly. But North Carolina State Senator Bob Rucho is unimpressed. "I'm saying these maps aren't gerrymandered," says Rucho. "It was a matter of what the candidates actually was able to tell the voters and if the voters agreed with them. Why would you call that uncompetitive?"
Businesses

Ubisoft Apologizes For Assassin's Creed 137

Posted by samzenpus
from the mea-culpa dept.
BarbaraHudson writes in with the latest in the Assassin's Creed Unity debacle. This time it's good news. "As an acknowledgment of the botched launch of Assassin's Creed Unity, Ubisoft has offered free additional content to everyone who purchased the title, cancelled the game's season pass and offered a free game to users who purchased the pass. The anticipation for Assassin's Creed Unity was such that the myriad of bugs and technical issues experienced at launch felt like an even greater slap in the face for gamers. In a blog posted yesterday, Yannis Mallat, CEO of Ubisoft Montreal & Toronto said: 'Unfortunately, at launch, the overall quality of the game was diminished by bugs and unexpected technical issues. I want to sincerely apologize on behalf of Ubisoft and the entire Assassin's Creed team. These problems took away from your enjoyment of the game, and kept many of you from experiencing the game at its fullest potential.'"
Earth

Renewables Are Now Scotland's Biggest Energy Source 179

Posted by samzenpus
from the going-green dept.
AmiMoJo writes Government figures revealed that Scotland is now generating more power from "clean" technologies than nuclear, coal and gas. The combination of wind, solar and hydroelectric, along with less-publicized sources such as landfill gas and biomass, produced 10.3TWh in the first half of 2014. Over the same period, Scotland generated 7.8TWh from nuclear, 5.6TWh from coal and 1.4TWh from gas, according to figures supplied by National Grid. Renewable sources tend to fluctuate throughout the year, especially in Scotland where the weather is notoriously volatile, but in six-month chunks the country has consistently increased its renewable output.
Medicine

Researchers Discover an "Off Switch" For Pain In the Brain 73

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-didn't-feel-that dept.
concertina226 writes Scientists working together from several international universities have discovered that it is possible to block a pathway in the brain of animals suffering from neuropathic pain, which could have a huge impact on improving pain relief in humans. So far, the most successful ways to treat chronic pain from a pharmacological point of view are to create drugs that that interact or interfere with various channels in the brain to decrease pain, including adrenergic, opioid and calcium receptors. However, there is another way – a chemical stimulator called adenosine that binds to brain receptors to trigger a biological response. Adenosine has shown potential for killing pain in humans, but so far, no one has managed to harness this pain pathway successfully without causing a myriad of side effects. Led by Dr Daniela Salvemini of SLU, the researchers discovered that by activating the A3 adenosine receptor in the rodents' brains and spinal cords, the receptor was able to prevent or reverse pain from nerve damage (the cause of chronic pain).
Technology

Ask Slashdot: Best Drone For $100-$150? 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the eye-in-the-sky dept.
andyring writes With Christmas fast approaching, and me being notoriously hard to buy for, I thought a camera drone would be great to suggest for Christmas. But the options are dizzying, and it's nearly impossible to find something and know it'll be decent. What are Slashdotters suggestions/recommendations/experiences with a basic camera drone in the $100-150 range? Looks like all of them do video but I'm more interested in high-res stills although that may be a moot point.
Earth

Scientists Develop "Paint" To Help Cool the Planet 134

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-getting-hot-in-here dept.
AaronW writes Engineers at Stanford University have developed an ultrathin, multilayered, nanophotonic material that not only reflects heat away from buildings but also directs internal heat away using a system called "photonic radiative cooling." The coating is capable of reflecting away 97% of incoming sunlight and when combined with the photonic radiative cooling system it becomes cooler than the surrounding air by around 9F (5C). The material is designed to radiate heat into space at a precise frequency that allows it to pass through the atmosphere without warming it.
Google

Google Should Be Broken Up, Say European MPs 212

Posted by samzenpus
from the breaking-things-up dept.
An anonymous reader is one of many to send word that the European Parliament has voted 384 to 174 in favor of unbundling search engines from other commercial services in order to ensure competition. "The European Parliament has voted in favor of breaking Google up, as a solution to complaints that it favors is own services in search results. Politicians have no power to enforce a break-up, but the landmark vote sends a clear message to European regulators to get tough on the net giant. US politicians and trade bodies have voiced their dismay at the vote. The ultimate decision will rest with EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager. She has inherited the anti-competitive case lodged by Google's rivals in 2010. Google has around 90% market share for search in Europe. The Commission has never before ordered the break-up of any company, and many believe it is unlikely to do so now. But politicians are desperate to find a solution to the long-running anti-competitive dispute with Google."

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