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The Military

Scientists Locate Sunken, Radioactive Aircraft Carrier Off California Coast 160

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-you-leave-behind dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Aaron Kinney reports in the San Jose Mercury News that scientists have captured the first clear images of the USS Independence, a radioactivity-polluted World War II aircraft carrier that rests on the ocean floor 30 miles off the coast of Half Moon Bay. The Independence saw combat at Wake Island and other decisive battles against Japan in 1944 and 1945 and was later blasted with radiation in two South Pacific nuclear tests. Assigned as a target vessel for the Operation Crossroads atomic bomb tests, she was placed within one-half-mile of ground zero and was engulfed in a fireball and heavily damaged during the 1946 nuclear weapons tests at Bikini Atoll. The veteran ship did not sink, however (though her funnels and island were crumpled by the blast), and after taking part in another explosion on 25 July, the highly radioactive hull was later taken to Pearl Harbor and San Francisco for further tests and was finally scuttled off the coast of San Francisco, California, on 29 January 1951. "This ship is an evocative artifact of the dawn of the atomic age, when we began to learn the nature of the genie we'd uncorked from the bottle," says James Delgado. "It speaks to the 'Greatest Generation' — people's fathers, grandfathers, uncles and brothers who served on these ships, who flew off those decks and what they did to turn the tide in the Pacific war."

Delgado says he doesn't know how many drums of radioactive material are buried within the ship — perhaps a few hundred. But he is doubtful that they pose any health or environmental risk. The barrels were filled with concrete and sealed in the ship's engine and boiler rooms, which were protected by thick walls of steel. The carrier itself was clearly "hot" when it went down and and it was packed full of fresh fission products and other radiological waste at the time it sank. The Independence was scuttled in what is now the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary, a haven for wildlife, from white sharks to elephant seals and whales. Despite its history as a dumping ground Richard Charter says the radioactive waste is a relic of a dark age before the enviornmental movement took hold. "It's just one of those things that humans rather stupidly did in the past that we can't retroactively fix.""
Businesses

Nokia To Buy Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 Billion 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
totalcaos sends news that Nokia has announced plans to buy Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion worth of stock. Both companies have approved the transaction, though now they must wait for regulatory approval. They said they expect the deal to close in the first half of 2016. The combined company is expected to become the world’s second-largest telecom equipment manufacturer behind Ericsson of Sweden, with global revenues totaling $27 billion and operations spread across Asia, Europe and North America. The companies are betting that, by joining forces, they can better compete against Chinese and European rivals bidding to provide telecom hardware and software to the world’s largest carriers, including AT&T and Verizon in the United States, Vodafone and Orange in Europe, and SoftBank in Japan. ... Analysts say that Nokia has progressively focused on its equipment unit, which now represents roughly 85 percent of the company’s annual revenue. On Wednesday, Nokia confirmed that it had put its digital maps business — a competitor for Google Maps — up for sale.
Japan

Transforming Robot Gets Stuck In Fukushima Nuclear Reactor 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the bend-me-shape-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes with more bad news for the people still dealing with the Fukushima nuclear accident. "The ability to change shape hasn't saved a robot probe from getting stuck inside a crippled Japanese nuclear reactor. Tokyo Electric Power will likely leave the probe inside the reactor housing at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex north of Tokyo after it stopped moving. On Friday, the utility sent a robot for the first time into the primary containment vessel (PCV) of reactor No. 1 at the plant, which was heavily damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan. 'The robot got stuck at a point two-thirds of its way inside the PCV and we are investigating the cause,' a Tokyo Electric spokesman said via email. The machine became stuck on Friday after traveling to 14 of 18 planned checkpoints."
Japan

Japanese Court Orders Google To Remove Negative Reviews From Google Maps 106

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-there's-definitely-nothing-worse-on-the-internet dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As reported by TechCrunch, the Japenese Chiba District Court issued a preliminary injunction forcing Google to delete two anonymous reviews for a medical clinic. Although negative, neither review violates Google policies. "The decision is based on a defamation suit from the clinic, a key part of which included an affidavit from the doctor who interacted with the anonymous reviewers and denied their claims." And here is the key part: "The court ruled that Google not only removes the content in Japan, but across the entire globe too." Google is currently considering it's options including an appeal.
Businesses

LG Will Lend You a Free Phone If You Talk About It On Social Media 22

Posted by samzenpus
from the phones-for-flattery dept.
jfruh writes LG will let people in a host of countries use its G4 free for 30 days — with the hope that this will result in positive buzz on social media sites. From the article: "By offering 4,000 people a G4 for 30 days, the company hopes to create some buzz around its new device as flagship devices from its rivals Samsung Electronics and HTC go on sale. The Consumer Experience Campaign kicks off in South Korea on Wednesday, and will then expand to Turkey, Indonesia, Singapore, U.S., China, India, Brazil, Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong, LG said."
AI

Tesla's April Fool's Joke Spoofs Market Algorithms 163

Posted by timothy
from the be-prepared-for-next-year dept.
Okian Warrior writes Yesterday, Tesla's twitter feed and blog announced the new "W" Model. Meaning "Watch" (as in "wristwatch"), the announcement Included a photo of a watch spouting a cumbersome "Big Ben" glued to the face and including this text: "This incredible new device from Tesla doesn't just tell the time, it also tells the date. What's more, it is infinitely adjustable, able to tell the time no matter where you are on Earth. Japan, Timbuktu, California, anywhere! This will change your life. Reality as you know it will never be the same." Clearly, this was an April fool's joke as anyone who reads more than just the headline would immediately guess. The problem is that Bloomberg's fast response team did not. The algos, on massive volume, spiked TSLA stock higher by nearly 1%.
Power

California Has Become the First State To Get Over 5% of Its Power From Solar 265

Posted by Soulskill
from the ignore-the-next-group-of-stories-if-you-hate-fun dept.
Lucas123 writes: While the rest of the nation's solar power generation hovers around 1%, California clocked in with a record 5% of power coming from utility-grade (1MW or more) solar power sources, according to a report from Mercom Capital Group and the Energy Information Administration. That's three times the next closest state, Arizona. At the same time, 22 states have yet to deploy even one utility-grade solar power plant, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association. Meanwhile, the rest of the world saw a 14% uptick in solar power installations in 2014 for a total of 54.5GW of capacity, and that figure is expected to grow even faster in 2015. While China still leads the world in new solar capacity, Japan and the U.S. come in as a close second and third, respectively. In the U.S. distributed solar and utility-grade solar installations are soaring as the solar investment tax credit (ITC) is set to expire next year. The U.S. is expected to deploy 8.5GW of new solar capacity in 2015, according to Mercom Capital Group.
Japan

Japan To Build 250-Mile-Long, Four Storey-High Wall To Stop Tsunamis 197

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-wake-zone dept.
An anonymous reader points out this daunting construction plan in Japan. "Japanese authorities have unveiled plans to build a giant 250-mile long sea barrier to protect its coastline from devastating tsunamis. According to the proposals, the £4.6bn ($6.8bn) barrier would reach 12.5m high in some places – stretching taller than a four storey building. It would be made out of cement – and actually be composed of a chain of smaller sea walls to make construction easier. The plan comes four years after a huge tsunami ravaged Japan's north-eastern coast."
Japan

No Fuel In the Fukushima Reactor #1 234

Posted by timothy
from the oh-this-old-thing? dept.
An anonymous reader writes To nobody's surprise, the Japanese press reports that a new way to look at the inside of one of the Fukushima 1 damaged reactors has shown the fuel is not in place. Engineers have not been able to develop a machine to directly see the exact location of the molten fuel, hampered by extremely high levels of radiation in and around the reactors, but a new scan technique using muons (details on the method in the media are missing) have shown the fuel is not in its place. While Tepco's speculation is that the fuel may be at the bottom of the reactor, it is a safe bet that at least some of it has burned through and has gone on to create an Uruguay syndrom.
Businesses

Uber Rival Lyft Raises $530M, Will Beef Up IT 54

Posted by samzenpus
from the more-money dept.
jfruh writes "Uber may seem like an unstoppable juggernaut, but its main carhailing service rival Lyft isn't giving up. The company just raised half a billion dollars in funding, much of it from Japanese investors. From the article: "Lyft has raised US$530 million in its latest funding round, and plans to use the money to beef up its IT staff, expand its footprint and boost existing services. Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten led the round. With the latest cash infusion, Lyft has raised a total of $862 million from investors. The ride-hailing company is now reportedly valued at $2.5 billion."
Bitcoin

One Year Later, We're No Closer To Finding MtGox's Missing Millions 178

Posted by Soulskill
from the crime-pays dept.
itwbennett writes: When Mt. Gox collapsed on Feb. 28, 2014, with liabilities of some ¥6.5 billion ($63.6 million), it said it was unable to account for some 850,000 bitcoins. Some 200,000 of them turned up in an old-format bitcoin wallet last March, bringing the tally of missing bitcoins to 650,000 (now worth about $180 million). In January, Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, citing sources close to a Tokyo police probe of the MtGox collapse, reported that only 7,000 of the coins appear to have been taken by hackers, with the remainder stolen through a series of fraudulent transactions. But there's still no explanation of what happened to them, and no clear record of what happened on the exchange.
Security

Fighting Scams Targeting the Elderly With Old-School Tech 98

Posted by samzenpus
from the going-back dept.
itwbennett writes Sharp is launching a pair of landline phones designed to counter a growing form of fraud in Japan that preys upon the elderly. The 'ore ore' ('it's me, it's me') fraudsters pretend to be grandchildren in an emergency and convince their victims to send money, generally via ATM. Sharp's new phones are designed to alert seniors to the dangers of unknown callers. When potential victims receive that are not registered in the internal memory of Sharp's new phones, their LED bars glow red and the phones go into anti-scam mode. An automated message then tells the caller that the call is being recorded and asks for the caller to state his or her name before the call is answered.
Medicine

The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics 245

Posted by samzenpus
from the killing-bugs dept.
HughPickens.com writes Every year at least two million people are infected with bacteria that can't be wiped out with antibiotics but the number of F.D.A.-approved antibiotics has decreased steadily in the past two decades. Now.Ezekiel J. Emanuel writes at the NYT that the problem with the development of new antibiotics is profitability. "There's no profit in it, and therefore the research has dried up, but meanwhile bacterial resistance has increased inexorably and there's still a lot of inappropriate use of antibiotics out there," says Ken Harvey. Unlike drugs for cholesterol or high blood pressure, or insulin for diabetes, which are taken every day for life, antibiotics tend to be given for a short time so profits have to be made on brief usage. "Even though antibiotics are lifesaving, they do not command a premium price in the marketplace," says Emanuel. "As a society we seem willing to pay $100,000 or more for cancer drugs that cure no one and at best add weeks or a few months to life. We are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for knee surgery that, at best, improves function but is not lifesaving. So why won't we pay $10,000 for a lifesaving antibiotic?"

Emanuel says that we need to use prize money as an incentive. "What if the United States government — maybe in cooperation with the European Union and Japan — offered a $2 billion prize to the first five companies or academic centers that develop and get regulatory approval for a new class of antibiotics?" Because it costs at least $1 billion to develop a new drug, the prize money could provide a 100 percent return — even before sales. "From the government perspective, such a prize would be highly efficient: no payment for research that fizzles. Researchers win only with an approved product. Even if they generated just one new antibiotic class per year, the $2-billion-per-year payment would be a reasonable investment for a problem that costs the health care system $20 billion per year." Unless payers and governments are willing to provide favorable pricing for such a drug, the big companies are going to focus their R&D investments in areas like cancer, depression, and heart disease where the return-on-investments are much higher.
Google

Google Lunar XPrize Teams Partner For a 2016 SpaceX Moonshot 18

Posted by samzenpus
from the working-together dept.
An anonymous reader writes Two competing teams for the Google Lunar XPrize have announced that they are partnering for a mission to the moon in the second half of 2016. From the article: "The Google Lunar XPrize , a $30 million purse of prizes encouraging private teams to put lunar rovers on the moon, this morning took if not quite a giant leap, then at least a big step. Two of those teams, Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic and Japan-based Hakuto, signed on to share a rocket ride to the moon in late 2016. Hakuto, which developed a pair of rovers to explore the lunar surface, will hitch a ride on Astrobotic's lander, which plans to set down in Lacus Mortis, located in the northeastern portion of the moon. Once on the surface, both teams will deploy their rovers and go exploring. The first to cover 500 meters (around 550 yards) while broadcasting high-definition footage will take home the $20 million grand prize."
Transportation

Japan Now Has More Car Charging Points Than Gas Stations 215

Posted by Soulskill
from the plugging-their-new-toy dept.
An anonymous reader writes: One of the biggest impediments to getting more electric cars on the road is the lack of charging infrastructure. When there's a gas station every other mile and you have to struggle to find a charging station, it's difficult to make a case for convenience and reliability. But this is changing, particularly in smaller, more technologically advanced countries like Japan. Nissan found that there are now about 40,000 charging points in Japan, compared to about 34,000 gas stations. Granted, not all of those charging spots are available to the public — some are in people's homes. But it shows the infrastructure is making real gains. Also, the article suggests an Airbnb-like system may crop up for people to utilize each other's charging stations. It adds, "As charging stations become more common, electric-car support services are also emerging. Open Charge Map, for example, operates an online listing of public charging points worldwide. A mobile app combines the data with GPS technology to guide drivers to the nearest site."
Japan

Cosmic Rays To Reveal the Melted Nuclear Fuel In Fukushima's Reactors 68

Posted by Soulskill
from the using-whatever-tools-are-available dept.
the_newsbeagle writes: Muons, produced when cosmic rays collide with molecules in the atmosphere, are streaming through your body as you read this. The particles pass through most matter unimpeded, however they can interact with heavy elements like uranium and plutonium. That's why engineers at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant are using muon detectors to look for the melted nuclear fuel inside the plant's three melted-down reactors. By determining where muons are being diverted from their paths, the detectors create images of the blobs of fuel. That's necessary because nobody knows exactly where the radioactive gloop ended up during the meltdowns.
Canada

Canada, Japan Cave On Copyright Term Extension In TPP 227

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-second-thought dept.
An anonymous reader writes Last month, there were several Canadian media reports on how the work of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, had entered the public domain. While this was oddly described as a "copyright quirk", it was no quirk. The term of copyright in Canada (alongside TPP countries such as Japan and New Zealand) is presently life of the author plus an additional 50 years, a term that meets the international standard set by the Berne Convention. Those countries now appear to have caved to U.S. pressure as there are reports that they have agreed to extend to life plus 70 years as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Input Devices

Listnr Wants to be 'Your Listening Assistant' (Video) 45

Posted by Roblimo
from the can-you-hear-me-now? dept.
This Listnr is "a new listening device connected to the cloud" being developed by a team in Japan that's currently running a Kickstarter project looking for $50,000 by March 7. The other Listnr "is a free music service helping people discover the best music from independent artists on Soundcloud and Bandcamp." More accurately, that's what it was, since their last Facebook post was in 2011 and their domain name is now for sale. Today's Listnr -- the listening device one -- claims it is able to tell whether a baby it hears is laughing, crying, gurgling or trying to talk. It is supposed to respond to finger snaps, hand claps, and other audio commands. It has an open API so that you can extend its use however you like. The company, too, is working on new applications for their product. Will there be enough of them, and will they interest enough people, to make this a success? Co-Founder Rie Ehara says, "We wanted to build something using sound to enrich and delight our lives." As of today (Feb. 2), Listnr is slightly less than halfway to its Kickstarter goal, so it's still a coin-toss whether or not Listnr will succeed.
Earth

Nuclear Safety Push To Be Softened After US Objections 224

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-it-easy dept.
mdsolar writes with news that the U.S. objects to a proposal to amend the Convention on Nuclear Safety put forward by Switzerland. The United States looks set to succeed in watering down a proposal for tougher legal standards aimed at boosting global nuclear safety, according to senior diplomats. Diplomatic wrangling will come to a head at a 77-nation meeting in Vienna next month that threatens to expose divisions over required safety standards and the cost of meeting them, four years after the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Switzerland has put forward a proposal to amend the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS), arguing stricter standards could help avoid a repeat of Fukushima, where an earthquake and tsunami sparked triple nuclear meltdowns, forced more than 160,000 people to flee nearby towns and contaminated water, food and air.
Japan

Japanese Nobel Laureate Blasts His Country's Treatment of Inventors 191

Posted by Soulskill
from the let-the-makers-make dept.
schwit1 writes: Shuji Nakamura won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics (along with two other scientists) for his work inventing blue LEDs. But long ago he abandoned Japan for the U.S. because his country's culture and patent law did not favor him as an inventor. Nakamura has now blasted Japan for considering further legislation that would do more harm to inventors.

"In the early 2000s, Nakamura had a falling out with his employer and, it seemed, all of Japan. Relying on a clause in Japan's patent law, article 35, that assigns patents to individual inventors, he took the unprecedented step of suing his former employer for a share of the profits his invention was generating. He eventually agreed to a court-mediated $8 million settlement, moved to the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and became an American citizen. During this period he bitterly complained about Japan's treatment of inventors, the country's educational system and its legal procedures. 'The problem is now the Japanese government wants to eliminate patent law article 35 and give all patent rights to the company. If the Japanese government changes the patent law it means basically there would no compensation [for inventors].'"

There is a similar problem with copyright law in the U.S., where changes to the law in the 1970s and 1990s have made it almost impossible for copyrights to ever expire. The changes favor the corporations rather than the individuals who might actually create the work.