Saturday, February 18, 2012

Project Avatar

Project Avatar: U.S. Military Researches Ways For Soldiers To Control Robot 'Surrogates' Using Just Their Minds -- Daily Mail

The U.S. military is researching ways for its troops can use their minds to remotely control androids who will take human soldiers' place on the battlefield.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), the Pentagon's hi-tech research arm, has earmarked $7million for research into the project, nicknamed Avatar.

The ultimate goal of the project sounds, bizarrely, much like the fantastical plot of the the film of the same name.

Read more ....

Update: Pentagon’s Project ‘Avatar’: Same as the Movie, but With Robots Instead of Aliens -- Danger Room

My Comment: This has applications not only on the military .... but on everything else.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Despite Bio-Terrorism Fears, H5N1 Research Will Be 'Eventually' Published

An image taken through an electronic microscope of the H5N1 virus, also known as the "bird flu." Virologist Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam has developed a new mutation of the H5N1 virus. Outside the lab, the disease has only been transmitted from animals to humans. Fouchier's mutation makes it airborne, creating the possibility of human-to-human transmission. CDC / dapd

WHO Delays Hugely Significant Decision On Whether To Publish Details Of Lethal Man-Made Flu That Could Kill Half The People It Infects -- Daily Mail

* H5N1 bird flu virus kills half of humans that contract it
* Research into more contagious forms of virus
* Editor says 'we have to publish in complete form'
* Insists publication is essential to create vaccine

The World Health Organisation has delayed its decision as to whether controversial research into a dangerous new man-made mutant form of the bird flu virus should be made public.

Scientists, health officials and science journal editors have this week been locked in talks on whether the study should be released amid fears it could be exploited by bioterrorists.

The controversial research shows how to make a mutant strain of the H5N1 virus, which kills roughly half of those who contract it, more contagious.

Read more ....

More News On The Decision To Delay The Publication Of H5N1 Research By A Few More Months

Despite Safety Worries, Work on Deadly Flu to Be Released -- New York Times
WHO on bird flu research: Publish in full... someday -- L.A. Times
Bird flu study to be published in full, but after delay -- CBC
WHO meeting calls for mutant-flu research to be published ‘in full.’ -- Nature
Journal's concern over bird flu research -- BBC
Avian Flu Experts Agree ‘Pauses’ on Publication, Research Should Continue -- Wall Street Journal
Experts delay call on releasing controversial H5N1 work -- BBC
Bird flu research to be published in full -- New Scientist
Bird Flu Paper Publication Delayed -- The Scientist
Mutant Bird Flu Studies Should Be Revealed in Full, Experts Say -- Live Science
Scientists weigh terror threat against public health in publishing dilemma -- Globe And Mail
Larger discussion needed on viruses that can help and harm, expert says -- Margaret Munro, Postmedia News

Are Ocean Plankton Impacting Earth's Climate?

Maria Maldonado of the University of British Columbia argues that understanding the chemistry of phytoplankton is key to controlling Earth's climate

Are Ocean Plankton The Key Ingredient That Decides The Future Of Earth's Climate? -- Daily Mail

* Phytoplankton provide half planet's oxygen
* Can soak up 45 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year
* CO2 'buried' in deep ocean for centuries
Tiny ocean 'phytoplankton' have a huge impact on Earth's climate - and understanding them could be key to the planet's future health.

Canadian scientist Maria Maldonado is researching why the phytoplankton thrive in some areas, and how they survive in areas with hostile conditions.

The tiny single-celled algae soak up 45 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year - transferring 16 billion tons to the deep ocean. They provide half the planet's oxygen supply.

Understanding them is vital to understanding - and regulating - our planet's health, Maldonado says.

Read more ....

'Genius' Computer With An IQ Of 150

Artificial intelligence? The high-IQ software uses a mix of computer logic and 'human like' thinking to achieve higher scores than previous software

'Genius' Computer With An IQ Of 150 Is 'More Intelligent' Than 96 Per Cent Of Humans -- Daily Mail

* Software uses mixture of logic and 'human-like' thinking
* Score is classified as 'genius'
* It could 'spot patterns' in financial data

A computer has become the first to be classed as a 'genius' after scoring 150 in an IQ test.

The average score for people is 100. A score of 150 ranks the artificial intelligence programme among the top four per cent of humans.

The programme uses a mixture of mathematical logic and 'human-like' thinking, enabling it to outperform previous software on IQ tests.

Read more ....

Tweaking The Fracking Process To Prevent Environmental Damage

Men with Cabot Oil and Gas work on a natural gas valve at a hydraulic fracturing site in South Montrose, Penn. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, stimulates gas production by injecting wells with high volumes of chemical-laced water in order to free up pockets of natural gas below.

It's Not Fracking's Fault, Study Says -- MSNBC

A university study asserts that the problems caused by the gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," arise because drilling operations aren't doing it right. The process itself isn't to blame, according to the study, released today by the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin.

The report is likely to add new fuel to a blazing controversy over fracking. Researchers reviewed the evidence contained in the reports of groundwater contamination from three prominent shale-rock formations where the process is employed: the Barnett Shale in North Texas, the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, New York and other areas of Appalachia; and the Haynesville Shale in western Louisiana and northeast Texas.

Read more ....

The Future Of Energy In North America Is Tight Oil

A Cabot Oil and Gas natural gas drill is viewed at a hydraulic fracturing site on January 17, 2012 in Springville, Pennsylvania. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Tight Oil The Future Of Energy In North America -- Financial Post

Tight oil, the new oil source unlocked by new drilling technologies, is bearing such good results it could quickly compete with Canada’s oil sands as a top secure supply of North American oil.

With companies like Devon Energy Corp., Talisman Energy Inc., Encana Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. pushing big spending toward tight oil, analysts are ratcheting up their production forecasts for the supplies, which are largely based in the United States.

“Tight oil is changing the landscape in North America,” Steve Fekete, managing consultant at Purvin & Gertz, said at an oil sands industry conference in Calgary this week.

Read more

Concentrated Solar Power: World Distribution Map

CSN Editor: Click here for an expanded view of the above image.

UN Plans Solar Energy For Africa

UN Plans Solar Energy For 33 Million People In Africa, Asia -- M&C

New York - Low-cost solar panels and solar batteries will be provided to poor communities in 14 countries in Africa and Asia in the next four years, the UN Development Programme said Thursday.

A total of 33 million people in the 14 countries will be able to make use of solar energy for commercial businesses and economic development, using the solar panels to be developed by a Mauritius-based company called ToughStuff, UNDP said.

Read more ....

My Comment: Africa has the sun .... especially in the Sahara regions.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Power Of Nanosecond Trading

Red line represents the frequency of sub-650 millisecond flash crashes, and blue the frequency of flash spikes, between January 2006 and February 2011. The black spike is the S&P 500 index. Image: Johnson et al./arXiv

Nanosecond Trading Could Make Markets Go Haywire -- Wired

The afternoon of May 6, 2010 was among the strangest in economic history. Starting at 2:42 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones stock index fell 600 points in just 6 minutes. Its nadir represented the deepest single-day decline in that market’s 114-year history. By 3:07 p.m., the index had rebounded. The “flash crash,” as it came to be known, was big, unexpected and scary — and a new study says flash events actually happen routinely, at speeds so fast they don’t register on regular market records, with potentially troubling consequences for market stability.

Read more ....

My Comment: So much for the small individual investor.

Could Hurricanes Wreck $700m Offshore Wind Farms In U.S.?

Threat: Academic experts in Pennsylvania say half of the turbines at four proposed offshore wind farms in the U.S. are likely to be destroyed by hurricanes in their 20-year life. A wind farm in Sweden is pictured

Could Hurricanes Wreck $700m Offshore Wind Farms In U.S.? Experts Predict HALF Of Proposed Turbines Will Be Ruined In 20 Years -- Daily Mail

* Pittsburgh researchers' study follows up on U.S. energy report in 2008
* Energy officials want wind farms to generate 20% of electricity by 2013
* Plans for farms in Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina & Texas
* Experts say current design can only withstand Category 3 hurricanes
U.S. energy officials have set a bullish target for wind farms to generate one fifth of the country’s electricity by 2030 - but Mother Nature certainly isn’t going to make it easy.

Academic experts at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, say half of the turbines at four proposed offshore wind farms are likely to be destroyed by hurricanes in their 20-year life.

The proposed wind farms at Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina and Texas could cost $175million each, but the researchers believe current designs of turbines mean many will not survive.

Read more ....

My Comment: I could also make the case that sea water will corrode the windmills in a time period that could be even shorter than 20 years.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The 50 Best Websites of 2011

Illustrations by Alexander Ho for TIME

CSN Editor: The list is here.

Could The Next Generation Live To Be 150?

Photo: Maxwell Jones CBS 2

Seen At 11: Could The Next Generation Live To Be 150? -- CBS 2 New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — People in the Tri-State Area are living longer than ever, and if scientists have their way, life expectancies will continue to rise. Technologies today could allow the next generation to live up to 150, but how far should scientists go to allow people to live this long?

Baby Maxwell Jones’ life is just getting started, but if he’s lucky, the hours-old infant could live well into the next century.

“A hundred years, seems a stretch but it’s obviously possible,” his mother told CBS 2′s Kristine Johnson.

Read more ....

Darpa's Budget Spared From Drastic Cuts

Darpa Dodges Obama Budget Death Ray, Keeps Its $2.8 Billion -- The Danger Room

For most of the U.S. military’s far-flung community of scientists and engineers, Monday was a day to pop a Xanax. Not only did the Defense Department announce a cut of more than $2 billion from is research and development budget for next year, but the Pentagon also said it would slow down production of new ships, spy drones, stealth jets, and combat vehicles — leaving a military that’s a bit creakier and older than before, and threatening the funding of thousands in the slide-rule set. Gulp.

Read more ....

More News On Darpa's Budget

DARPA's budget haircut only a light trim -- Defense Systems
Darpa dodges Obama’s budget cuts -- Smart Planet
DARPA's budget and projects for Fiscal year 2013 -- Next Big Future

My Comment: No budget cuts for now .... but if sequestration comes into play, expect a slash and burn situation when it comes to all budgets .... Darpa's included.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hollywood's 'Avatar' Robot Created By Japanese Scientists

Telesar V transfers marbles from a cup to another cup for a demonstration at Tachi's laboratory in Yokohama Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Japanese Scientists Create Hollywood's 'Avatar' Robot -- The Telegraph

The sci-fi world of the Hollywood blockbuster Avatar has been brought one step closer to reality with the creation of a robot that mimics the movements of its human controller.

Japanese scientists have developed a robot that allows humans to direct its actions while also enabling them to see, hear and feel the same things as their android counterpart.

The TELESAR V robot can be seen as perhaps the first step towards a real-life echo of the Hollywood film Avatar, in which US soldiers were able to remotely control the genetically engineered bodies of an extra-terrestrial race they wished to subdue.

Read more ....

NASA Mars Funding Slashed

Photo: Nasa chief Charles Bolden admitted that tough choices had to be made.

Nasa Budget Slashes Mars Funding -- BBC

President Barack Obama's 2013 budget request for Nasa would slash spending on Mars exploration and shift funds to human spaceflight and space technology.

As reported by BBC News last week, this means the US will pull the plug on its joint missions to Mars with Europe.

If approved by Congress, the budget request would reduce funds available for planetary science by about 21%.

But spending on human exploration and space technology would rise by 6% and 22% respectively.

Read more

My Comment: Nasa still has a budget?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Are Airships Coming Back?

Airship that can travel over 90mph could by used by Royal Navy

21st Century Airships May Join Navy Fleet -- The Telegraph

A new generation of British-built airships may be bought by the Royal Navy to resupply ships, follwoing their use by the US Army on the front line in Afghanistan.

Modern-day Zeppelins will take to the sky for the first time since the First World War when the US Army begins using airships in Afghanistan.

But Navy chiefs are now giving serious consideration to purchasing an airship from the Bedfordshire-based Hybrid Air Vehicles to provide surveillance and re-supply runs to aircraft carriers, The Daily Telegraph can discose.

Read more ....

My Comment: The Americans have their own 'air ship/kite' program. It can be read here.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Webb Telescope Survives Spending Cuts

A September 2009 artist conception of James Webb Space Telescope. NASA

It's Alive! The Greatest Space Telescope Ever Built Survives -- Time

When last we heard about the James Webb Space Telescope, the souped-up, long-planned successor to the Hubble, the news was not good. Hard on the heels of a report blasting the Webb project for being badly behind schedule and over budget, a House committee voted to axe the partially completed telescope entirely.

Even a space nut could appreciate where they were coming from: originally envisioned in the 1990s as a monster scope 26 ft. (8 m) across, with more than 17 times the light-gathering power of the Hubble, the Webb was going to cost no more than $500 million and launch by 2007 — cross NASA's heart and hope to die! No one really bought that, but no one really expected the budget to swell to $2.6 billion and then to $6.2 billion, or the launch date to slip to 2015 and then 2018 either. When all that did happen, D.C. bean counters concluded that nothing would become the Webb project quite as much as the end of it.

Read more ....

My Comment: $6.2 billion for a telescope .... sheesshhh ....