The Jaguar supercomputer, housed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, has been the fastest supercomputer on the planet for almost a year. But is it about to lose that title and place atop the podium?
Every six months, the Top500 project releases the rankings of the most powerful supercomputers. The current pace of technology development means the list does tend to reorder every half a year or so. But Jaguar has been poised at the top of the food chain for almost a year. Though the Top500 list doesn't get released until next week, it's been … Read more
Even those of us who cover e-commerce often overlook the reality of connecting the "e" part of the equation to the real world. Webvan and Kozmo.com were great online services, but it was the unavoidable and nonvirtual expenses of moving goods around that did them in. Former Webvan business process guru Mick Mountz said the company lost $20 an order, due to the cost of physical logistics.
In 2003, having left Webvan and moved to the East Coast (to escape Webvan's investors, I would guess), Mountz started Kiva Systems, a robotics company that rethought warehouse logistics … Read more
NASA management miscues threaten to drive up the cost of the agency's next generation space telescope by some $1.5 billion, an independent review panel reported today, pushing the overall cost of the project into the neighborhood of $6.5 billion. That's a best-case assessment that assumes the agency launches the observatory in 2015, the earliest realistic target.
But making that earliest possible launch date also assumes NASA comes up with an additional $250 million in both 2011 and 2012, an unlikely prospect in the current political environment. Barring a sudden infusion of cash, it's not yet … Read more
Citizens concerned with the direction of high-speed rail in their home states have taken to the Internet to voice their opinions on current plans proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Self-described New Yorkers have started a Facebook campaign in support of high-speed rail service and have inundated the Facebook page of DOT Secretary Ray LaHood with posts imploring him to grant their governor-elect's request for more funding for a high-speed rail project in their state.
"I don't know who started it, but the Facebook campaign sure got my attention!" LaHood wrote in his blog … Read more
One thing we can probably all agree on is that in the future, robots will be everywhere. But will they play the role of master or servant?
With luck, the latter will come to pass, and Cody, a concept robot from Georgia Tech, is an example of what we should hope for (or fear). Simply put, it's a sponge bath robot, three words I never thought I'd type in the same sentence.
The best part is it appears to do the job well, though it certainly takes all the sexiness out of the endeavor. The autonomous robot uses lasers--because, really, robots all have lasers, or at least should--to specify a body part that needs to be scrubbed.
A camera then feeds the information to a microprocessor which, in turn, commands the robot's arm to wipe the selected area, which it swabs first.
In tests conducted by Georgia Tech's Healthcare Robotics Lab, Cody used image processing to determine the hue of the "debris" (which we're guessing includes dead skin cells--and possibly bedbugs and dignity) and thus ascertain how much remained on the arm after the robot completed its task. Cody effectively removed 96 percent of the stuff.
Fortunately, it performs its duties using "relatively low force"--less than three newtons, which is science speak for, "Oh, yeah, right there, baby."
So let's recap: If you're in the hospital of the future, instead of a sexy nurse or orderly giving you your daily sponge bath, you will get a sterile, unthinking robo-doc named Cody. Sometimes progress isn't all it's meant to be. And just so you know what's coming, there's a video of Cody in action below. … Read more
Projects designed to help communities improve access to clean water, cook with clean-burning fuel, fortify salt to maintain nutrients, and use mobile phones as learning devices have been honored with awards for technology benefiting humanity.
The annual Tech Awards, sponsored by The Tech Museum in San Jose, Calif., were given to the winners in a ceremony tonight.
Two of the winners were projects that dealt with the problem many local communities around the world have in getting enough clean, fresh water. The Peer Water Exchange, a project of Blue Planet Network, is a global clearinghouse where communities can share water … Read more
They create the discipline of a lissom lady in leather and make sure everyone understands just what the rules are. In fact, some people are so in awe of speed cameras' discipline that they develop speed camera phobia and try to steer clear of them whenever possible.
This being a troubled world, there are those who believe that these marvels of technology are merely there to make money for local authorities. So what can these troubled people say to the fact that Arizona has removed its speed cameras because it couldn't make them … Read more
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.--After three launch delays due to technical problems and bad weather, the shuttle Discovery was grounded again Friday. Its final launch is delayed until at least November 30 because of a hydrogen leak in a vent line attached to the ship's external tank.
After the scrub was declared, engineers discovered a large crack in the protective foam insulation on the tank that likely would have caused a launch delay, even if the leak had not developed. Engineers have not yet evaluated the crack to know what sort of repairs, if any, might be needed or … Read more
A recycled NASA spacecraft passed within 435 miles of Comet Hartley 2 today and beamed back spectacular pictures revealing a strange, peanut-shaped nucleus spewing multiple jets of icy debris.
The Deep Impact spacecraft, the centerpiece of a repurposed mission known by the acronym EPOXI, flew past Hartley 2 at more than 7 miles per second, or 27,000 mph, making its closest approach at 7 a.m. PT.
A few moments later, the spacecraft reoriented itself and aimed its high-gain antenna back toward Earth to begin relaying stored pictures and telemetry. In 2005, the spacecraft flew past comet Tempel 1, … Read more
Not surprisingly, results released Thursday found that parallel parking while using a park-assist system (instead of having to guess your bumper distance based on your limited view) greatly reduces the stress of parallel parking in … Read more