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Power

First Nuclear Power Plant Planned In Jordan 146

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-up dept.
jones_supa writes Jordan has signed an agreement with Russia's state-owned nuclear power giant Rosatom, that sets the legal basis for building the kingdom's first nuclear power plant with a total capacity of 2,000 MW. The agreement is worth $10 billion and it envisages the construction of a two-unit power plant at Amra in the north of the kingdom by 2022. The deal provides for a feasibility study, site evaluation process and an environmental impact assessment. Currently Jordan imports nearly 98% of its energy from oil products and crude and is struggling to meet electricity demand, which is growing by more than 7% annually due to a rising population and industrial expansion. The kingdom hopes that eventually nuclear power could provide almost 40% of its total electricity generating capacity.
Science

Researchers Identify 'Tipping Point' Between Quantum and Classical Worlds 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the border-between-hostile-nations dept.
wjcofkc sends this report from R&D Magazine: If we are ever to fully harness the power of light for use in optical devices, it is necessary to understand photons — the fundamental unit of light. Achieving such understanding, however, is easier said than done. That's because the physical behavior of photons — similar to electrons and other sub-atomic particles — is characterized not by classical physics, but by quantum mechanics.

Now, in a study published in Physical Review Letters (abstract), scientists from Bar-Ilan University have observed the point at which classical and quantum behavior converge. Using a fiber-based nonlinear process, the researchers were able to observe how, and under what conditions, 'classical' physical behavior emerges from the quantum world.
Censorship

Feds Attempt To Censor Parts of a New Book About the Hydrogen Bomb 339

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can't-do-that-on-bookovision dept.
HughPickens.com writes: The atom bomb — leveler of Hiroshima and instant killer of some 80,000 people — is just a pale cousin compared to the hydrogen bomb, which easily packs the punch of a thousand Hiroshimas. That is why Washington has for decades done everything in its power to keep the details of its design out of the public domain. Now William J. Broad reports in the NY Times that Kenneth W. Ford has defied a federal order to cut material from his new book that the government says teems with thermonuclear secrets. Ford says he included the disputed material because it had already been disclosed elsewhere and helped him paint a fuller picture of an important chapter of American history. But after he volunteered the manuscript for a security review, federal officials told him to remove about 10 percent of the text, or roughly 5,000 words. "They wanted to eviscerate the book," says Ford. "My first thought was, 'This is so ridiculous I won't even respond.'" For instance, the federal agency wanted him to strike a reference to the size of the first hydrogen test device — its base was seven feet wide and 20 feet high. Dr. Ford responded that public photographs of the device, with men, jeeps and a forklift nearby, gave a scale of comparison that clearly revealed its overall dimensions.

Though difficult to make, hydrogen bombs are attractive to nations and militaries because their fuel is relatively cheap. Inside a thick metal casing, the weapon relies on a small atom bomb that works like a match to ignite the hydrogen fuel. Today, Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States are the only declared members of the thermonuclear club, each possessing hundreds or thousands of hydrogen bombs. Military experts suspect that Israel has dozens of hydrogen bombs. India, Pakistan and North Korea are seen as interested in acquiring the potent weapon. The big secret the book discusses is thermal equilibrium, the discovery that the temperature of the hydrogen fuel and the radiation could match each other during the explosion (PDF). World Scientific, a publisher in Singapore, recently made Dr. Ford's book public in electronic form, with print versions to follow. Ford remains convinced the book "contains nothing whatsoever whose dissemination could, by any stretch of the imagination, damage the United States or help a country that is trying to build a hydrogen bomb." "Were I to follow all — or even most — of your suggestions," says Ford, "it would destroy the book."
Power

Energy Company Trials Computer Servers To Heat Homes 160

Posted by Soulskill
from the turn-the-thermostat-to-'crysis' dept.
New submitter MarcAuslander sends this Associated Press report: Eneco, a Dutch-based energy company with more than 2 million customers, said Tuesday it is installing 'e-Radiators' — computer servers that generate heat while crunching numbers — in five homes across the Netherlands in a trial to see if their warmth could be a commercially viable alternative for traditional radiators. The technology is the brainchild of the Dutch startup company Nerdalize, whose founders claim to have developed the idea after huddling near a laptop to keep warm after their home's thermostat broke and jokingly suggesting buying 100 laptops. Nerdalize says its e-Radiators offer companies or research institutes a cheaper alternative to housing servers in data centers. And because Nerdalize foots the power bill for the radiators, Eneco customers get the warmth they generate for free. The companies said the environment wins, too, because energy is effectively used twice in the new system - to power the servers and to heat rooms.
Power

Elon Musk's SolarCity Offering To Build Cities, Businesses Their Own Grids 184

Posted by timothy
from the low-voltage-lighting-helps-too dept.
Lucas123 writes Rooftop solar distributor SolarCity announced a new service where it will build a centrally-controllable power grid for cities, business campuses and even islands. Marketing its GridLogic service by calling attention to the recent uptick in natural disasters and the extended power outages that resulted from them, SolarCity said its "microgrids" are fully independent power infrastructures fed by solar panels with lithium-ion backup batteries (courtesy of Tesla). SolarCity claims its GridLogic program can provide electricity to communities and businesses for less than they pay for utility power and the facilities can still be connected to their area's utility power grid as an added backup.
Power

Costa Rica Goes 75 Days Powering Itself Using Only Renewable Energy 316

Posted by samzenpus
from the cleaning-things-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about an impressive renewable energy accomplishment in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has achieved a clean energy milestone by using 100 per cent renewable energy for a record 75 days in a row. The feat was achieved thanks to heavy rainfall, which powered four hydroelectric plants in the first three months of the year, the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute said. No fossil fuels have been burnt to generate electricity since December 2014, in the state which is renowned for its clean energy policies."
Medicine

Child Psychotherapist: Easy and Constant Access To the Internet Is Harming Kids 334

Posted by samzenpus
from the there's-something-wrong-with-my-brain dept.
First time accepted submitter sharkbiter sends note that one of the UK's foremost psychotherapists has concerns that smartphones may be harmful to the mental health of children. "Julie Lynn Evans has been a child psychotherapist for 25 years, working in hospitals, schools and with families, and she says she has never been so busy. 'In the 1990s, I would have had one or two attempted suicides a year – mainly teenaged girls taking overdoses, the things that don't get reported. Now, I could have as many as four a month.'.... Issues such as cyber-bullying are, of course, nothing new, and schools now all strive to develop robust policies to tackle them, but Lynn Evans’ target is both more precise and more general. She is pointing a finger of accusation at the smartphones - “pocket rockets” as she calls them – which are now routinely in the hands of over 80 per cent of secondary school age children. Their arrival has been, she notes, a key change since 2010. 'It’s a simplistic view, but I think it is the ubiquity of broadband and smartphones that has changed the pace and the power and the drama of mental illness in young people.'”
United Kingdom

UK Government Admits Intelligence Services Allowed To Break Into Any System 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the whenever-we-feel-like-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes Recently, Techdirt noted that the FBI may soon have permission to break into computers anywhere on the planet. It will come as no surprise to learn that the U.S.'s partner in crime, the UK, granted similar powers to its own intelligence services some time back. What's more unexpected is that it has now publicly said as much, as Privacy International explains: "The British Government has admitted its intelligence services have the broad power to hack into personal phones, computers, and communications networks, and claims they are legally justified to hack anyone, anywhere in the world, even if the target is not a threat to national security nor suspected of any crime." That important admission was made in what the UK government calls its "Open Response" to court cases started last year against GCHQ.
Earth

How 'Virtual Water' Can Help Ease California's Drought 415

Posted by timothy
from the it's-as-if-prices-conveyed-information dept.
HughPickens.com writes Bill Davidow And Michael S. Malone write in the WSJ that recent rains have barely made a dent in California's enduring drought, now in its fourth year. Thus, it's time to solve the state's water problem with radical solutions, and they can begin with "virtual water." This concept describes water that is used to produce food or other commodities, such as cotton. According to Davidow and Malone, when those commodities are shipped out of state, virtual water is exported. Today California exports about six trillion gallons of virtual water, or about 500 gallons per resident a day. How can this happen amid drought? The problem is mispricing. If water were priced properly, it is a safe bet that farmers would waste far less of it, and the effects of California's drought—its worst in recorded history—would not be so severe. "A free market would raise the price of water, reflecting its scarcity, and lead to a reduction in the export of virtual water," say Davidow and Malone. "A long history of local politics, complicated regulation and seemingly arbitrary controls on distribution have led to gross inefficiency."

For example, producing almonds is highly profitable when water is cheap but almond trees are thirsty, and almond production uses about 10% of California's total water supply. The thing is, nuts use a whole lot of water: it takes about a gallon of water to grow one almond, and nearly five gallons to produce a walnut. "Suppose an almond farmer could sell real water to any buyer, regardless of county boundaries, at market prices—many hundreds of dollars per acre-foot—if he agreed to cut his usage in half, say, by drawing only two acre-feet, instead of four, from his wells," say the authors. "He might have to curtail all or part of his almond orchard and grow more water-efficient crops. But he also might make enough money selling his water to make that decision worthwhile." Using a similar strategy across its agricultural industry, California might be able to reverse the economic logic that has driven farmers to plant more water-intensive crops. "This would take creative thinking, something California is known for, and trust in the power of free markets," conclude the authors adding that "almost anything would be better, and fairer, than the current contradictory and self-defeating regulations."
Power

France Decrees New Rooftops Must Be Covered In Plants Or Solar Panels 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-at-least-fine-pastries dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A law approved in France Thursday now requires all new rooftops in commercial zones to be covered in plants or solar panels. "Green roofs have an isolating effect, helping reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building in winter and cool it in summer. They also retain rainwater, thus helping reduce problems with runoff, while favoring biodiversity and giving birds a place to nest in the urban jungle, ecologists say." The law was actually watered down from its original version — businesses only have to cover part of their roof. In other solar power news, reader SpzToid notes that despite earlier worries, the European power grid handled the solar eclipse just fine
Games

Hideo Kojima To Depart Konami; Metal Gear Franchise Changing Hands 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the jumping-the-solid-shark dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima is set to leave the video game publisher Konami, ending 29 years of service. Konami had announced a restructuring earlier this year, and observant fans recently noticed the removal of references to Kojima Productions from the company's web site. A source speaking to Gamespot states that both developments are the result of a "power struggle" between the studio and its parent. Konami has now confirmed to the English-speaking press that Kojima will work on The Phantom Pain until it is completed, but they are searching for new staff to take over the Metal Gear series. Kojima's only other announced project was Silent Hills, a horror game created in collaboration with Guillermo del Toro.
Government

NZ Customs Wants Power To Require Passwords 200

Posted by samzenpus
from the papers-please dept.
First time accepted submitter Orange Roughy writes New Zealand customs are seeking powers to obtain passwords and encryption keys for travelers. Supposedly they will only act to obtain credentials if it was acting on 'some intelligence or observation of abnormal behaviour.' People who refuse to hand over credentials could face up to three months jail time. From the story: "Customs boss Carolyn Tremain has told MPs the department would only request travellers hand over passwords to their electronic devices if it had a reason to be suspicious about what was on them. The department unleashed a furore last week when it said in a discussion paper that it should be given unrestricted power to force people to divulge passwords to their smartphones and computers at the border. That would be without Customs officials having to show they had any grounds for suspicion."
Transportation

Musk Says Drivers May Become Obsolete, Announces Juice-Saving Upgrades 341

Posted by timothy
from the dog's-not-that-shaggy dept.
Lucas123 (935744) writes During a discussion at a Nvidia conference, Elon Musk predicted that in the future, consumers will not be allowed to drive cars because it will be considered too dangerous. [Note: compare Lyft CEO Logan Green's opposite view] 'You can't have a person driving a two-ton death machine,' he said. Others agree. Thilo Koslowski, a vice president at Gartner, said instead of laws dictating drivers must cede control to their car's computer, we may someday someday just pass signs requiring drivers to activate auto-drive functionality for certain particularly treacherous stretches of roadway. Kowlowski said fully autonomous vehicles won't be ubiquitous for another 10 to 15 years, but the government could spur that on by offering tax incentives as it does today with all-electric vehicles and hybrids. Related news: it may not be fully autonomous driving, but Tesla S drivers are promised an upgrade a few months from now that gives a taste, with the addition of automatic steering features. And though it's perhaps anti-climactic as a solution to "ending range anxiety," Musk also announced today that Teslas will get in the next two weeks a software upgrade that will greatly upgrade the cars' routing software, integrating "near-realtime" lists of available supercharger stations, and keeping drivers apprised of whether one is within range.
Power

Ask GM's Exec. Chief Engineer For Electric Vehicles Pam Fletcher a Question 229

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
Pam Fletcher was propulsion system chief engineer on the first Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and is now executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles at GM. A racing enthusiast, Pam developed racing engines for GM , McLaren, and NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt Sr.. Her current role has her running a multi-national department overseeing electrified vehicles company-wide. Fletcher has agreed to take a moment out of her busy day to answer any questions you might have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
The Almighty Buck

Global Learning XPRIZE Senior Director Matt Keller Answers Your Questions 4

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-they-are dept.
A couple of weeks ago you had a chance to ask former Vice President of One Laptop per Child, and current Senior Director of the Global Learning XPRIZE Matt Keller about education and the competition. The XPRIZE challenges teams from around the world to develop open source software that will allow children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic with a Grand Prize of $10 million. Below you will find his answers to your questions.
Music

3D Audio Standard Released 82

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-had-a-pair-of-ears-on-the-back-of-your-head dept.
CIStud writes The Audio Engineering Society (AES) has released its new 3D Audio Standard (AES69-2015), covering topics such as binaural listening, which is growing due to increased usage of smartphones, tablets and other individual entertainment systems that offer audio using headphones. AES states that an understanding of the way that the listener experiences binaural sound, expressed as head-related transfer functions (HRTF) facilitates the way to 3D personal audio. The standard also looks into convolution-based reverberation processors in 3D virtual audio environments, which has also grown with the increase of available computing power.
Power

Deploying Solar In California's Urban Areas Could Meet Demand Five Times Over 437

Posted by Soulskill
from the full-conversion-mods dept.
Lucas123 writes: About 8% of terrestrial surfaces in California have been developed, ranging from cities and buildings to park spaces. If photovoltaic panels, along with concentrating solar power, were more effectively deployed in and around those areas, it could meet between three and five times what California currently uses for electricity, according to a new study. The study from the Carnegie Institution for Science, found that using small- and utility-scale solar power in and around developed areas could generate up to 15,000 terawatt-hours of energy a year using photovoltaic technology, and 6,000 TWh of energy a year using concentrating solar power technology. "Integrating solar facilities into the urban and suburban environment causes the least amount of land-cover change and the lowest environmental impact," post-doctoral environmental earth scientist Rebecca Hernandez said.
Shark

World's Most Powerful Laser Diode Arrays Deployed 63

Posted by Soulskill
from the aside-from-the-secret-white-house-defense-lasers dept.
Zothecula writes: The High-Repetition-Rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System (HAPLS) under construction in the Czech Republic is designed to generate a peak power of more than 1 petawatt. The key component to this instrument – the laser "pump" – will be a set of solid-state laser diode arrays recently constructed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. At peak power, this electronic assemblage develops a staggering 3.2 million watts of power and are the most powerful laser diode arrays ever built.
Government

Judicial Committee Approves FBI Plan To Expand Hacking Powers 79

Posted by Soulskill
from the pretend-to-be-surprised dept.
Presto Vivace sends this report from the National Journal: A judicial advisory panel Monday quietly approved a rule change that will broaden the FBI's hacking authority despite fears raised by Google that the amended language represents a "monumental" constitutional concern. The Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules voted 11-1 to modify an arcane federal rule to allow judges more flexibility in how they approve search warrants for electronic data, according to a Justice Department spokesman. Known as Rule 41, the existing provision generally allows judges to approve search warrants only for material within the geographic bounds of their judicial district. But the rule change, as requested by the department, would allow judges to grant warrants for remote searches of computers located outside their district or when the location is unknown.
Transportation

Elon Musk Pledges To End "Range Anxiety" For Tesla Model S 286

Posted by Soulskill
from the update-will-burn-out-your-amygdala-with-lasers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Elon Musk has used his Twitter account to announce a press conference on Thursday which he claims will end "range anxiety" for Tesla's Model S sedan. Whatever change they're making will be implemented through an over-the-air software update to the cars, affecting the entire fleet. Range anxiety is the term for a fear that your vehicle won't have enough fuel/charge to reach its destination. It's a common reason for people to avoid buying electric cars, given the much smaller infrastructure build-out compared to gas stations. If Tesla is improving the Model S's range through a software update, then it likely involves optimizations to the battery and to the ways in which power is used. Tesla has also talked about developing a feature called "torque sleep," which puts one of the drive units to sleep while not needed. They say it can wake up and begin delivering torque again "so fast that the driver can't perceive it."