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How Close Are We, Really, To Nuclear Fusion? 341

StartsWithABang writes: The ultimate dream when it comes to clean, green, safe, abundant energy is nuclear fusion. The same process that powers the core of the Sun could also power everything on Earth millions of times over, if only we could figure out how to reach that breakeven point. Right now, we have three different candidates for doing so: inertial confinement, magnetic confinement, and magnetized target fusion. Recent advances have all three looking promising in various ways, making one wonder why we don't spend more resources towards achieving the holy grail of energy.

A "Public Health" Approach To Internet of Things Security 44

New submitter StewBeans writes: Guaranteeing your personal privacy in an era when more and more devices are connecting our daily lives to the Internet is becoming increasingly difficult to do. David Bray, CIO of the FCC, emphasizes the exponential growth we are facing by comparing the Internet we know today to a beachball, and the Internet of Everything future to the Sun. Bray says unless you plan to unplug from the Internet completely, every consumer needs to assume some responsibility for the security and overall health of the Internet of Everything. He says this might look similar to public health on the consumer side — the digital equivalent of hand washing — and involve an open, opt-in model for the rapid detection of abnormal trends across global organizations and networks.

Next Texas Energy Boom: Solar 311

Layzej writes: The Wall Street Journal reports: "Solar power has gotten so cheap to produce—and so competitively priced in the electricity market—that it is taking hold even in a state that, unlike California, doesn't offer incentives to utilities to buy or build sun-powered generation." Falling cost is one factor driving investment. "Another reason for the boom: Texas recently wrapped up construction of $6.9 billion worth of new transmission lines, many connecting West Texas to the state's large cities. These massive power lines enabled Texas to become, by far, the largest U.S. wind producer. Solar developers plan to move electricity on the same lines, taking advantage of a lull in wind generation during the heat of the day when solar output is at its highest."

Rosetta Probe's Comet Reaches Closest Approach To the Sun 16

An anonymous reader writes: The European Space Agency has released pictures taken by the Rosetta probe at comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko as it reached closest approach to the Sun. The comet has now travelled 750 million kilometers since Rosetta arrived, and the increased solar radiation has caused ices to sublimate and create jets of gas. "The activity reaches its peak intensity around perihelion and in the weeks that follow – and is clearly visible in the spectacular images returned by the spacecraft in the last months. One image taken by Rosetta's navigation camera was acquired at 01:04 GMT, just an hour before the moment of perihelion, from a distance of around 327 km." They've released both still images and animations of the comet's outgassing. "Rosetta's measurements suggest the comet is spewing up to 300 kg of water vapor – roughly the equivalent of two bathtubs – every second. This is a thousand times more than was observed this time last year when Rosetta first approached the comet. ... Along with gas, the nucleus is also estimated to be shedding up to 1000 kg of dust per second, creating dangerous working conditions for Rosetta." It's a fascinating, close-up look at a comet during its most volatile time.

Our Early Solar System May Have Been Home To a Fifth Giant Planet 60

sciencehabit writes: A cluster of icy bodies in the same region as Pluto could be proof that our early solar system was home to a fifth giant planet, according to new research (abstract). That planet may have 'bumped' Neptune during its migration away from the sun 4 billion years ago, causing the ice giant to jump into its current orbit and scattering a cluster of its satellites into the Kuiper belt in the outer solar system.

Oracle To Debut Low-Cost SPARC Chip Next Month 92

jfruh writes: Of the many things Oracle acquired when it absorbed Sun, the SPARC processors have not exactly been making headlines. But that may change next month when the company debuts a new, lower-cost chip that will compete with Intel's Xeon. "Debut," in this case, means only an introduction, though -- not a marketplace debut. From the article: [T]he Sparc M7 will have technologies for encryption acceleration and memory protection built into the chip. It will also include coprocessors to accelerate database performance. "The idea of Sonoma is to take exactly those same technologies and bring them down to very low cost points, so that people can use them in cloud computing and for smaller applications, and even for smaller companies who need a lower entry point," [Oracle head of systems John] Fowler said. ... [Fowler] didn’t talk about prices or say how much cheaper the new Sparc systems will be, and it could potentially be years before Sonoma comes to market—Oracle isn’t yet saying. Its engineers are due to discuss Sonoma at the Hot Chips conference in Silicon Valley at the end of the month, so we might learn more then.
The Military

Sun Tzu 2.0: The Future of Cyberwarfare 77

An anonymous reader writes: Cyberwar and its ramifications have been debated for some time and the issue has been wrought with controversy. Few would argue that cyber-attacks are not prevalent in cyberspace. However, does it amount to a type of warfare? Let's break this down by drawing parallels from a treatise by 6th century military general, Sun Tzu, who authored one of the most definitive handbooks on warfare, "The Art of War." His writings have been studied throughout the ages by professional militaries and can be used to not only answer the question of whether or not we are in a cyberwar, but how one can fight a cyber-battle.

Interviews: Shaun Moss Answers Your Questions About Mars and Space Exploration 48

Recently the founder of the Mars Settlement Research Organization and author of The International Mars Research Station Shaun Moss agreed to sit down and answer any questions you had about space exploration and colonizing Mars. Below you will find his answers to your questions.

NASA Spies Earth-Sized Exoplanet Orbiting Sun-Like Star 134

An anonymous reader writes: NASA has announced that a new Earth-like planet has been discovered that may be the closest thing yet to a first true "Earth twin." Kepler 452b is located 1,000 light years away, is 60% larger than Earth, and orbits Kepler 452 at a distance similar to that between Earth and the Sun. "It is the first terrestrial planet in the habitable zone around a star very similar to the Sun," says Douglas Caldwell, an astronomer at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.

Grooveshark Co-founder Josh Greenberg Dead At 28 173

alphadogg writes: The tech startup world has been shaken today by news that 28-year-old Josh Greenberg, co-founder of recently defunct music sharing service Grooveshark, was found dead on Sunday in the Florida apartment he shared with his girlfriend. No foul play is suspected, but the local medical examiner is conducting an autopsy, according to the Gainesville Sun. Grooveshark was shut down in April after the company was threatened with legal action and possibly hundreds of millions in damages by several big music labels.

NASA's New Horizons Focuses On Pluto's Largest Moon Charon 77

MarkWhittington writes: New Horizons has already discovered much of what was previously unknown about Pluto, the dwarf planet that is the former ninth planet from the sun. NASA reported that the space probe has also uncovered some of the secrets of Pluto's largest moon, Charon. It has found indications of impact craters on the moon's gray surface as well as a chasm that seems to be bigger than the Grand Canyon on Earth. Charon has a diameter of just 1440 miles. By contrast, Earth has a diameter of 7918 miles.

Double-Dynamo Model Predicts 60% Fall In Solar Output In The 2030s 249

sycodon points out reports of a new model of solar dynamics from University of Northumbria professor Valentina Zharkova, predictions from which "suggest that solar activity will fall by 60 per cent during the 2030s to conditions last seen during the 'mini ice age' that began in 1645." Zharkova's model, based on observation of solar magnetism, "draws on dynamo effects in two layers of the Sun, one close to the surface and one deep within its convection zone." Zharkova’s and her colleages at three other universities believe that this two-layer model "could explain aspects of the solar cycle with much greater accuracy than before — possibly leading to enhanced predictions of future solar behaviour. “We found magnetic wave components appearing in pairs; originating in two different layers in the Sun’s interior. They both have a frequency of approximately 11 years, although this frequency is slightly different [for both] and they are offset in time.”

EPFL's CleanSpace One Satellite Will "Eat" Space Junk 53

Zothecula writes: Working with Geneva's University of Applied Science and Signal Processing 5 Laboratory, Swiss research institute EPFL has announced details of a plan to capture its tiny SwissCube satellites by using a new spacecraft outfitted with a conical net. Called "CleanSpace One" the team hopes that their "Pac-Man" solution will capture the old satellite. Gizmag reports: "...SwissCube's spinning action will make it more difficult to image, as its surfaces will alternately be brilliantly sunlit or hidden in shadow. That's why CleanSpace One's computer vision system will be running algorithms that account for variables such as the angle of the sun, the dimensions of the target, the speed at which that target is moving, and the rate at which CleanSpace One itself is spinning. High dynamic range cameras will also allow it to simultaneously expose for both bright and dark surfaces."

Solar Impulse 2 Completes Record-Breaking Flight 21

An anonymous reader writes: Solar Impulse 2, the airplane powered only by the sun's light, has completed its flight from Japan to Hawaii. The distance sets the record for manned, solar-powered flight, both by distance (7,200 km, according to the BBC) and by time spent aloft (118 hours). This was one leg in a longer journey to fly around the world, and by far the longest they've attempted. Their next leg will send them across the rest of the Pacific Ocean, landing in Phoenix, Arizona. Then they'll stop off at New York before crossing the Atlantic Ocean on their way back to the journey's starting point, Abu Dhabi. Pilot Andre Borschberg was in good shape, despite spending almost five consecutive days in command of the aircraft. He was only allowed to sleep for up to 20 minutes at a time, so he took about a dozen naps every day. He did this at an altitude of 9,000 meters, and while taking medication to prevent thrombosis. Borschberg's partner, Bertrand Piccard, will fly the aircraft during the next leg to Phoenix. This will happen as soon as the plane is checked out and meteorologists think the weather will be placid enough for a safe crossing.

What If You Could See Asteroids In the Night Sky? 54

An anonymous reader writes: As part of Asteroid Day a 360-degree video rendering the night sky with the population of near-earth asteroids included has been created by 'Astronogamer' Scott Manley. The video shows how the Earth flies through a cloud of asteroids on its journey around the sun, and yet we've only discovered about 1% of the near earth asteroid population.

Bill Gates Investing $2 Billion In Renewables 292

An anonymous reader writes: Bill Gates has dumped a billion dollars into renewables, and now he's ready to double down. Gates announced he will increase his investment in renewable energy technologies to $2 billion in an attempt to "bend the curve" on limiting climate change. He is focusing on risky investments that favor "breakthrough" technologies because he thinks incremental improvements to existing tech won't be enough to meet energy needs while avoiding a climate catastrophe. He says, "There's no battery technology that's even close to allowing us to take all of our energy from renewables and be able to use battery storage in order to deal not only with the 24-hour cycle but also with long periods of time where it's cloudy and you don't have sun or you don't have wind. Power is about reliability. We need to get something that works reliably." At the same time, Gates rejected calls to divest himself and his charitable foundation of investments in fossil fuel companies.

Solar Impulse, Continuing World-Spanning Trip, Attempts To Cross The Pacific 40

The BBC reports that Solar Impulse has resumed its 'round-the-world attempt, having taken off today from Nagoya, Japan for what is intended to be a 120-hour voyage to Hawaii. [If pilot Andre Borschberg] succeeds, it will be the longest-duration solo flight in aviation history, as well as the furthest distance flown by a craft that is powered only by the Sun. The Pacific crossing is the eighth leg of Solar Impulse's journey around the world. But this stage has proven to be the most difficult, and has been hit by weeks of delays." The circumnavigation attempt began earlier this year.

Allstate Patents Physiological Data Collection 142

TigerPlish writes: Allstate has been granted patent no. US 20140080100 A1 for a "driving-behavior database that it said might be useful for health insurers, lenders, credit-rating agencies, marketers and potential employers." The program is just in the patent stage for now, but the company says: "the invention has the potential to evaluate drivers' physiological data, including heart rate, blood pressure and electrocardiogram signals, which could be recorded from steering wheel sensors." Imagine a world where you are denied employment or credit based on the information obtained from your car and sold by your insurer. What could possibly go wrong?

'Warm Neptune' Exoplanets May Have Lots of Helium 20

An anonymous reader writes: Phil Plait reports on new research into exoplanets that came to an unexpected and non-obvious conclusion. Throughout the galaxy, astronomers have been finding exoplanets they call "warm Neptunes" — bodies about the size of Neptune, but which orbit their parent star more closely than Mercury orbits the Sun. When astronomers looked at spectra for these planets, they found something surprising: no methane signature (PDF). Methane is made of carbon and hydrogen, and it's generally assumed that most large, gaseous planets will have a lot of hydrogen. But this class of exoplanet, being significantly smaller than, say, Jupiter, may not have the mass (and thus the gravity) to hold on to its hydrogen when it's heated by the close proximity to the star. The result is that the atmosphere may be largely made up of helium instead. If so, the planet would look oddly colorless to our eyes, very unlike the planets in our solar system.