Locked in a massive horizontal test fixture near Promontory, Utah, a huge five-segment solid-fuel booster roared to life with a torrent of flame Tuesday, generating some 3.6 million pounds of thrust in a ground-shaking $75 million test of a rocket the Obama administration wants to cancel.
With engineers and spectators looking on from a safe distance, Alliant Techsystems' Development Motor No. 2, or DM-2, ignited at 8:27 a.m. PDT, blasting out a 600-foot-long jet of 5,600-degree flame and billowing clouds of exhaust as it consumed 1.3 million pounds of solid propellant.
Unlike the first five-segment booster firing last year, which was carried out at ambient temperature, DM-2 was cooled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit to collect data on how the rocket performed at the lower limit of its normal 40-to-90-degree operating range. Some 764 instrumentation channels were in place to support more than 50 test objectives.
Generating the equivalent of 22 million horsepower, the 12-foot-wide, 154-foot-long booster fired for about two minutes and five seconds before commands were sent to begin injecting tons of carbon dioxide into the rocket's nozzle to halt combustion.
The Most Powerful Booster Rocket Ever Tested
"There's nothing better for an engineer than to see an amazing test like this," said Douglas Cooke, director of exploration at NASA headquarters. "It's the culmination of a lot of good design work, a lot of dedication by an excellent team. I want to congratulate the NASA-ATK team for what so far looks to be an excellent and successful test. It's spectacular to see all this harnessed energy--3.6 million pounds of thrust--that this booster produces. Just incredible."Continue »
That nice, new computerized car you just bought could be hackable.
Of course, your car is probably not a high-priority target for most malicious hackers. But security experts tell CNET that car hacking is starting to move from the realm of the theoretical to reality, thanks to new wireless technologies and evermore dependence on computers to make cars safer, more energy efficient, and modern.
"Now there are computerized systems and they have control over critical components of cars like gas, brakes, etc.," said Adriel Desautels, chief technology officer and president of NetraGard, which does vulnerability assessments and penetration testing on all kinds of systems. "There is a premature reliance on technology."
Turns out that humans have a taste for barbecues that go back a while. Quite a while.
Scientists have found the remains of a 12,000 year-old burial site in Israel that contains the remains of butchered cattle and 71 tortoises. Though feasting went on during the early agricultural societies of the Neolithic era, scientists have been unable to find convincing evidence that it went on in pre-Neolithic times. Until now.
A report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports on evidence left over by the locals at a site called Hilazon Tachtit in Israel's Lower Galilee. Archeologists working at Hilazon Tachtit found remains of a feast where the main dishes included wild cattle and tortoises. They also uncovered structures that were apparently used for burial and feasting activities. The meat remains came from aurochs, which were ancestors of domestic cattle. Back then, aurochs also qualified as one of the bigger and more dangerous animals for hunters. Many of the tortoise remains found placed within the grave of a woman thought to be a shaman, according to co-author Natalie D. Munro, an archeologist who teaches at the University of Connecticut.Continue »
If you visited the Japanese hot springs resort of Atami recently and spotted a disproportionate number of men gazing longingly at their smartphones, it probably wasn't because they were playing Angry Birds. This summer, the beach town became a vacation hub for guys who like to treat their girlfriends to sun-and-fun holidays. Girlfriends, that is, who only exist on-screen.
And yes, there are such men, particularly those enthralled with Konami's Love Plus, a popular dating sim for Nintendo DS that also comes as an augmented-reality application for iPhones. Players of the game know that to keep their virtual gals happy, they'd best spend quality time with them,
Japanese man plans a real birthday party, complete with cake and presents that no one will eat or open, for a Nintendo DS dating sim character in Love Plus.
Game character gets real-life birthday parties
Japanese man plans a real birthday party, complete with cake and presents that no one will eat or open, for a Nintendo DS dating sim character in Love Plus.
Sadly for romantics everywhere, Atami's summer of virtual love ends Tuesday. It was geared toward players of Love Plus Plus, a sequel to Love Plus released this year. The object is to form and nurture a relationship with one of three high school girls with rotating outfits, distinct musical tastes, and clearly permissive parents. (See a game trailer featuring stars Rinko Kobayakawa, Manaka Takane, and Nene Anegasaki below.)
In the last few years, some scientists have put forward a controversial hypothesis arguing that one or more comets slammed into North America some 12,900 years ago, causing the mass extinction of wooly mammoth elephants and other large mammals.
That theory has come under fire from other scientists, who have since put forward refutations of most of the evidence in support of the killer comet theory - except one - the presence of nano-scale diamond crystals. The comet school pointed to that as evidence of a cataclysm since the crystals could only have been formed under the extreme pressure of a comet impact.
Now an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) makes the case against the nanodiamond crystal theory as well. A team of researchers, led by nuclear chemist Richard Firestone from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, examined carbon-rich materials isolated from sediments from more than 15,000 years ago to the present. Their conclusion: No nanodiamonds were found. "Instead, graphene- and graphene/graphane-oxide aggregates are ubiquitous in all specimens examined. We demonstrate that previous studies misidentified graphene/graphane-oxide aggregates as hexagonal diamond and likely misidentified graphene as cubic diamond. Our results cast doubt upon one of the last widely discussed pieces of evidence supporting the YD impact hypothesis.
On Monday, NASA began releasing images recounting the agency's history on Flickr's Commons archive. The space agency's new Commons page features nearly 200 photos taken throughout the organization's early history. You can find out more here. In the meantime, here are some of the highlights:
There may be a very simply reason why some people are prone to migraine headaches while others wind up getting a free pass: It's in the genes.
Scientists report in the current edition of the journal Nature Genetics that they have identified the first-ever genetic risk factor associated with common types of migraines.
"This is the first time we have been able to peer into the genomes of many thousands of people and find genetic clues to understand common migraine," said Dr Aarno Palotie, chair of the International Headache Genetics Consortium at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, in a statement.
About one in six women and one in twelve men report migraine problems. It's also estimated to be the most expensive brain disorder to society in the United States and the European Union.
The researchers compared the genomes of more than 3,000 people in Finland, Germany and The Netherlands with a sample population of 10,000 people who don't come down with the headaches. Their analysis focused on the connection between a gene known as EAAT2 and an associated protein whose job it is to clear glutamate from brain synapses in the brain. Scientists say that the EAAT2 gene has figured in other neurological diseases, including epilepsy, schizophrenia and various mood and anxiety disorders.
But at this juncture, the researchers are being cautious about drawing conclusions.
"Although we knew that the EAAT2 gene has a crucial role to play in neurological processes in human and potentially in the development of migraine, until now, no genetic link has been identified to suggest that glutamate accumulation in the brain could play a role in common migraine," said study co-senior author, Christian Kubisch of the University of Ulm, Germany. "This research opens the door for new studies to look in depth at the biology of the disease and how this alteration in particular may exert its effect."
This piece was written by Jean-Louis Gass?e, a Silicon Valley veteran and currently general partner for the venture capital firm Allegis Capital in Palo Alto. It originally appeared at Monday Note
Nothing much happens in August, we thought. Wrong. Our three-week break has been filled with a number of "interesting" events.
Let's start with Mark Hurd's exit from HP after five years of great financial performance as CEO. If you missed the fireworks, you can get a refresher in this Business Insider post by Henry Blodget, or this excellent NYT piece by ace columnist Joe Nocera.
In twitter terms, it looks like this: A "marketing contractor" claims Hurd sexually harassed her; an inquiry fails to substantiate sexual harassment but finds "an inappropriate close relationship"; the investigation also reveals that expense reports were fudged in order to conceal a t?te-? -t?te with the female. Mistakes were made, Hurd is fired. End of story.
When a CEO gets the boot, a modicum of decorum is usually observed . Not this time. From HP's General Counsel we hear that "Mark demonstrated a profound lack of judgment that seriously undermined his credibility and damaged his effectiveness in leading HP". And that's on the record.
In her memo to the troops, Cathy Lesjak, HP's CFO and now interim CEO, accuses Hurd of "misusing corporate assets," referring to the illegitimate expense reports and alleged payments to the erstwhile soft-porn actress for work not performed.
But forget the salacious details; there's always Google for that. What puzzles most of us is the exit package story. HP maligns Hurd, accuses him of what lay people call fraud... and then grants him an exit package worth tens of millions of dollars, $35M according to unverified estimates. Attorneys, less puzzled than supercilious, sue HP's Board on behalf of despoiled shareholders.
In the next few weeks we're certain to get a clearer picture of the inside animosity directed at the cost-cutting, Wall Street-pleasing CEO. His alleged misconduct may turn out to have been nothing more than a convenient pretext, a word that resonates in HP's history.
This one's harder to explain: Intel's acquisition of McAfee. If you own a Windows PC with Intel Inside, there's a good chance your computer came with bundled anti-virus/anti-spam/anti-spyware software from companies such as Symantec or McAfee. Microsoft entered the fray a few years ago and provides what they call Security Essentials--for free (Microsoft also offers a free safety scan here). PC Tools, AVG, Kaspersky Labs and many others provide the now customary combination of free and paid-for software security products.
In short, this is an active, thriving scene: Symantec's revenues are at the top of the $5B range and McAfee's are close to $2B, despite the competition with "free" products from Microsoft and others.
So what possessed Intel's CEO Paul Otellini to risk his reputation--and more than $7B of his shareholders' cash--by wading into such a complex, competitive sector? Seasoned Valley observers such as the WSJ's Don Clark are politely puzzled (see here and here). Otellini intones a new mantra: Security Is Job One. This marks "Intel's move from a PC company to a computing company". Sonorous words, certainly, but without a story of higher revenue and profit for the combined companies, there's not much to back them up.
If Intel's efforts to provide more secure hardware are to succeed, Microsoft will have to cooperate--but Microsoft has remained silent. If Windows could be secured through the mere addition of a software layer right above "the metal", the microprocessor, Microsoft would have done it, or acquired it.
I checked with OS and hardware experts. None of them think Intel's story makes sense. Unless...perhaps today's PC isn't the target. Perhaps Intel wants to surf the next computing wave of mobility and smartphones.
Surely, Intel wants a piece of the smartphone billions. There's a rumor they'll soon buy Infineon's wireless hardware business, and they have this MeeGo (n?e Moblin, as in Mobile Linux) thing going with Nokia. Still, there's nothing there to explain how Intel would make money in a smartphone world dominated by Marvell (which acquired Intel's ARM business in 2006...), Qualcomm (the wireless hardware/firmware giant), Google's Android, and Apple's iOS. The smartphone conjecture doesn't answer the $7.6B question.
Is there another explanation?
Intel has squandered billions in unsuccessful attempts to shed the Wintel yoke: server farms, toys (I'm not kidding, see here), modems and networking gear, software...all to no avail. The yoke can be appreciated through this thought experiment: Take two processors, same computing power, cost, technology, die size, heat dissipation; they're equal in everything but software support. One runs Windows, the other doesn't. Which one will fetch the higher price?
Intel execs hate the Wintel tag because it conveys the unpleasant truth of their dependence on Microsoft. They keep looking for a different life, either by finding ways to assume control of the Microsoft relationship, or by hacking a path towards a Microsoft-free business model.
Lastly, we have the formerly Don't Be Evil Google becoming more and more Orwellian. Late last year, Google CEO Eric Schmidt made waves (no insider pun) when he told us we have no privacy: "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." That sally earned him some choice retorts (see here). Earlier this month, Schmidt caught more flak for suggesting that young people might someday be entitled to change their names in order to escape their web-cached past. John Gruber, a noted blogger, calls Schmidt Google's "Creep Executive Officer".
And now we see Google, in an alliance with Verizon, trying to neuter network neutrality. (An attitude that was promptly applauded by AT&T.) In true freedom is slavery language, Google pledges its undying commitment to neutrality for one and all...with the notable exceptions of future managed services and wireless networks.
How much of this is part of Google's special relationship with Verizon to promote Android, and of Verizon's efforts to gain the upper hand in their negotiations with Apple, we can only speculate.
But Verizon shouldn't rejoice too quickly: Google Voice just became available through Gmail. This might sound innocuous until one realizes that this could be the beginning of the end for phone numbers, one more step in the disintermediation of carriers, in their reduction to bit pipes. We call people, not numbers; a Gmail address will do just fine, thanks.
More on this in future Monday Notes, this last topic is much more important than HP shenanigans or Intel existential pains.
Long before the iPhone, the iPod was the device that helped transform Apple from computer company into a consumer electronics company.
But today, the ubiquitous music player has become less relevant to the company that essentially owns that product category. Apple still sells three-fourths of all MP3 players sold, but multifunction gadgets like the iPhone and iPad are getting the most attention from Apple customers, not to mention the rest of the electronics industry, and Continue »
A few years ago it was unfathomable to see anybody over 50 on websites like Friendster and MySpace, but that's becoming a more common sight.
More young people are seeing their parents and grandparents on social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook, reports CNN.
In fact, the rate of people over 50 interacting on social media websites is growing at a startling pace. A survey by the Pew Research Center found that social networking among internet users 50 and older nearly doubled, from 22 percent in April 2009 to 42 percent in May 2010.
For those ages 65 and older, use of social networking websites grew 100 percent. By comparison, the number of internet users from 18 to 29 who use social networking websites only rose by a dismal 13 percent.
"E-mail is still the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families and colleagues, but many older users now rely on social-network platforms to help manage their daily communications," explains Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and author of the report.
So internet users should be careful about what they post on Facebook or Twitter. Grandma might be watching.
Make phone calls from Gmail
Earlier this week, Google introduced a feature that lets you make VoIP phone calls to landlines and mobile phones from within your Gmail account (and iGoogle). The calling service, which is available to U.S. Gmail users, integrates with the Google Talk chat app that you can find on the left-hand sidebar in Gmail.com.
Google's "Call Phone" feature has so far made a splash, inspiring 1 million calls in its first day--even before all Gmail users received the notification that they could activate the feature.
A favorable response is good news for Google; the last opt-out Gmail feature, Google Buzz, only incited ire and demands to make it easier to disable Google Buzz. In addition to helping Google stay in consumers' good graces, the VoIP service in Google Talk is a potential moneymaker for the company. It's currently free to make calls inside the U.S. and Canada; however, to make inexpensive international calls you must buy credit through Google Checkout.
Google's Gmail call feature is undoubtedly a dangling carrot that can boost Google's formidable bottom line and reinforce some of its other services. If it's heavily adopted, as we suspect its convenient placement in the inbox will warrant, the company's dominance as a trusted, go-to brand will surely continue to grow.
Watch our video above for a step-by-step tutorial on how to make calls from Gmail to get started.This story originally appeared on CNET
Paul Allen’s Interval Licensing sued a bevy of technology companies including AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix and others for patent infringement.
Interval Licensing, a research firm hatched in 1992, is suing those aforementioned Internet companies for patent 6,263,507 among others. The patent was issued for an invention revolving around browser navigation in a body of information and audiovisual data.
In a nutshell, the patent goes to the core of what these companies do. The Allen complaint (PDF and Scribd below) states:
AOL, Apple, eBay, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo, and YouTube's acts of infringement have caused damage to Interval, and Interval is entitled to recover from Defendants the damages sustained by Interval as a result of Defendants' wrongful acts in an amount subject to proof at trial.
For example, Interval Research served as an outside collaborator to and provided research funding for Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page's research that resulted in Google. Indeed, a Google screenshot dated September 27, 1998 entitled "About Google!" identifies Interval Research in the "Credits" section as one of two "Outside Collaborators" and one of four sources of "Research Funding" for Google. See Sept. 27, 1998 Website "About Google!" attached as Exhibit 1.
Mr. Brin and Mr. Page also recognized Interval Research's funding in the "Acknowledgements" section of their 1998 research article entitled "Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine" in which they "present Google."
Here’s the Google exhibit referenced by Allen:
Here’s the complaint:This article originally appeared on ZDNet
A Danish non-profit is set to launch a crash-test mannequin into space next week.
The HEAT1X-Tycho Brahe, named after a 16th century aristocrat who identified a supernova, is part of a project underway at the Danish non-profit Copenhagen Suborbitals to ultimately create "manned space flight on a micro size spacecraft," according to the organization. The craft's co-designers, Kristian von Bengtson and Peter Madsen, said their entire $63,000 budget to develop the craft came from donations and sponsorships.
Boeing said early Friday that it was postponing delivery of its 787 Dreamliner until the middle of 2011's first quarter.
Boeing first planned a summer 2007 launch but the project has been hampered by setbacks that have already forced delivery setbacks of the aircraft for more than a couple of years. The company blamed the latest revision to its timetable on engine availability troubles.
Boeing said it was working with engine supplier Rolls-Royce to speed up the deliveries. Last week an aviation trade magazine reported that a test engine had blown apart internally while being run on a ground-test stand. In an interview with the Seattle Times Boeing spokesman Jim Proulx said the company was forced to push back the delivery date.
"That engine was one of the engines scheduled to support testing later in the program," Proulx said. "The corrective action associated with that failure has contributed to the engine challenges that we now assess are affecting the flight test program."
Technologists have eagerly awaited the arrival of the Dreamliner, which is made of lightweight carbon composite instead of aluminum. It also marks a departure from the way commercial aircraft are traditionally put together with Boeing outsourcing much of the engineering and design to third parties.
The timing of the announcement came just after the company gave reporters a close-up view of the 787 simulator and training facility.
It barely been registered by meteorologists when something about Tropical Storm Katrina started to set off alarm bells.
As scientists pored over images from satellites in late August 2005, the storm began to pick up intensity. As Katrina slowly approached the south Florida coast, it was noticeable for the heavy rains and strong winds that it brought. With many Americans commemorating Hurricane Katrina this week, here's a look back at some of the images sent back by NASA satellites in the days leading up to the storm's assault on New Orleans and neighboring towns.