These can be human--lovers who snore, lovers who wear far too many clothes in bed, or merely lovers who turn over and go to sleep without remembering your name. They can also be uncontrollable annoyances, like foghorns, barking dogs, or trains.
Ed Rogers happens to endure the latter. He doesn't want to have to endure it, though.
So he decided to rig his windows with a remote control, an Arduino linear actuator, a Webcam, and some other fine pieces of electronica in order to get his windows to close automatically whenever a … Read more
Admit it. There have been times when you've wanted to drop-kick your phone into the next county. But would it be satisfying to use kicking gestures to control your phone? An experimental interface lets you do just that. The idea is to provide an alternative input method when your hands are occupied.
Researchers at the University of Bristol in the U.K. and the University of Manitoba in Canada are developing a smartphone interface that lets you kick to flick, zoom, and navigate menus. The researchers used an Xbox Kinect and tablet to simulate the interface and studied how people do with the kick gesture. A working version would use your phone's camera.
The researchers found that people can reliably kick in five directions and at two velocities, which provides enough variety for useful phone control. (See the video below.)
This could be the first smartphone interface that presents a non-negligible risk of getting you arrested. Kick someone on the sidewalk, and I'm guessing the smartphone-gesture-interface defense isn't going to get you very far with the assault charge.… Read more
You might not need a whole 1.21 gigawatts to travel through time, after all.
Computer engineers at the University of California at Berkeley have found a way to reduce the minimum voltage required to store a charge in a capacitor--an electron-storing device that works somewhat like a battery--paving the way for ultra-low-power computing. This is a result of a project started in 2008 and led by Asif Khan, a UC Berkeley electrical engineering graduate student, and Sayeef Salahuddin, a UC Berkeley assistant professor of electrical engineering.
The engineers took advantage of ferroelectrics, a class of materials that can hold both positive and negative electric charges, even when there's no voltage applied. On top of that, the electrical polarization in ferroelectrics can be reversed with an external electric field.
The team was able to demonstrate that when a capacitor made of ferroelectric-based materials was paired with an electric insulator, the charge accumulated for a given voltage could be amplified in a phenomenon called "negative capacitance." This means you can create a charge that would normally require a higher voltage. And this, when applied to transistors--the on-off switch components that generate the zeros and ones that are the core of binary computing used in all personal computers--would translate into lower minimum voltage required to operate a computer processor. … Read more
Benjamin Franklin once advised a friend to take older women to bed because, figuratively speaking, "in the dark all cats are gray." Well, not these kittehs.
Researchers in the U.S. and Japan have developed green-glowing kittens with resistance to the feline version of AIDS, which may help work on AIDS research in humans.
In a study published in Nature Methods, researchers from the Mayo Clinic and Yamaguchi University took a genome approach to producing cats that are apparently resistant to feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), a deadly condition that attacks infection-fighting T-cells as AIDS does.
The researchers including Mayo Clinic molecular biologist Eric Poeschla inserted genes into feline eggs before sperm fertilization. They added a gene for a rhesus macaque protein, known as a "restriction factor," that can prevent infection by FIV, and a jellyfish gene for tracking the cells that also makes the kitties glow a spooky green.
When cells were taken from the cats and exposed to FIV, they were found to be resistant; the animals themselves will also be exposed to the virus in the future. … Read more
IBM has inked a deal with health insurer WellPoint that will let the latter use the technology behind "Jeopardy"-playing computer Watson to suggest patient diagnoses and treatments.
The arrangement, which marks the first time the Watson technology will be used in a commercial application, will be announced Monday, according to The Wall Street Journal. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
WellPoint hopes the technology will help improve the quality of patient care and help reduce costs. It will be introduced next year and will initially be used by nurses who review treatment requests from … Read more
President Obama joined thousands today in marking the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks at the World Trade Center site in New York, laying his hands on a bronze memorial engraved with names of victims--a list arranged with the help of an algorithm.
The 2,983 names on 76 bronze panels surround two cascading pools of water where the towers stood, in architect Michael Arad's design "Reflecting Absence." In seemingly random fashion, the panels list those who died on September 11, 2001, as well as in the WTC bombing of February 26, 1993.
But the carefully thought-out memorial reflects the victims' complex web of relationships to one another--professional, social, and accidental. This was accomplished thanks to an algorithm created by data artist Jer Thorp working with New York design firm Local Projects.
Arad rejected arranging the names alphabetically or chronologically. The best way to set the names seemed to be one that wouldn't favor some people over others, so they're arranged according to groups and their relationships with one another. … Read more
A 6.3-ton NASA science satellite, decommissioned in 2005, is expected to plunge into Earth's atmosphere later this month, breaking up in a shower of debris. Experts said today they expect 26 components, the largest weighing more than 330 pounds, to survive re-entry heating to hit the surface somewhere between 57 degrees north and south latitude.
But a NASA space debris expert said the threat to the public is minimal and that statistically, the odds are good the debris will land in an ocean or some other sparsely populated area.
"We looked at those 26 pieces and how big they are and we've looked at the fact they can hit anywhere in the world between 57 north and 57 south and we looked at what the population density of the world is," said Nick Johnson, chief scientist with NASA's Orbital Debris Program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
"Numerically, it comes out to a chance of 1 in 3,200 that one person anywhere in the world might be struck by a piece of debris. Those are obviously very, very low odds that anybody's going to be impacted by this debris."
The centerpiece of a $750 million mission, the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, or UARS, was launched from the shuttle Discovery in September 1991. The solar-powered satellite was designed to address a wide variety of atmospheric questions, including the depletion of Earth's ozone layer 15 to 30 miles up, a trend blamed on the release of man-made chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, used in refrigerants, foam products, and various solvents.
The long-lived satellite was decommissioned in 2005 and one side of its orbit was lowered using the last of its fuel to hasten re-entry. No more fuel is available for maneuvering and the satellite's re-entry will be "uncontrolled."… Read more
Almost 20 years to the day after it was launched into space to collect data on Earth's atmosphere and interactions with the sun, NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite is coming back home--in pieces--and there's a higher than normal chance one of them will hit someone.
But before you run to grab your diamond and titanium alloy umbrella that I know you have somewhere in the back of the hall closet for just such an occasion, it's important to note that there's only a 1 in 21 trillion chance that a piece of the space junk will hit you specifically, according to an AP report. A NASA scientist apparently told the AP that there is a 1 in 3,200 chance that a piece of the satellite will hit someone on Earth, which is much higher than the 1 in 10,000 threshold NASA has adopted as an acceptable risk. That rule was put in place after the UARS satellite was launched in 1991.
CNET attempted to confirm the figure, but NASA's East Coast media headquarters is closed for the day. We've reached out through other channels, but did not immediately receive a response. I called U.S. Strategic Command at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, which also houses the Joint Space Operations Center that "works around the clock detecting, identifying, and tracking all manmade objects in Earth orbit, including space junk," according to a NASA release.
A communications officer there told me that she believed NASA had worked with another agency to come up with a risk model for the UARS re-entry. NASA often uses software called--in typical NASA naming style--ORSAT, for Object Re-entry Survival Analysis Tool, to figure these sorts of things out.
With a name like SkyNET, it's got to be scary. This flying robo-hacker deserves its "Terminator"-inspired moniker: Although it stops short of actually hunting humans, it's a potential nightmare for anyone with a wireless home network. Worse, it's a DIYer's dream: cheap and easy to build and fun to operate.
SkyNET combines a toy helicopter and a computer configured to attack Wi-Fi networks. The result is a drone the CIA would be proud of. The nasty little device can compromise computers on wireless networks and dragoon them into botnets. Botnets are widely used for hacking, denial-of-service attacks, and spamming.
The devious beauty of SkyNET is that by controlling the botnet from a drone rather than an Internet connection, the botmaster is harder to track down. To catch the bad guy you'd have to figure out that a drone is involved, spot the drone, and follow it back to its owner (assuming the black hat goes to pick it up). Either that or catch it and do a full-blown forensic investigation to figure out who made it.… Read more
Families and retirees come to New Mexico to chill in the sun; aliens come to crash-land their ships; scientologists come to build secret compounds and prepare to visit the aliens; the government comes to hide the crashed alien ships and blow stuff up; and studios come to make movies about all of the above. Now, a private company is coming to build a 20-square-mile ghost town of the future.
D.C.-based Pegasus Global Holdings is planning to build the model city to test new and up-and-coming technologies such as smart grids, renewable energy, intelligent traffic systems and next generation Wi-Fi. The company says the huge facility, dubbed "The Center," would likely be located somewhere near the Albuquerque or Las Cruces metro areas, giving the company access to multiple Interstate corridors, nearby national labs, universities, and military installations.… Read more