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Transportation

World's Largest Aircraft Completes Its First Flight (cnn.com) 190

The world's largest aircraft has finally completed its first flight after months of preparation and years of searching for funding. The Airlander 10 as it's called spent 20 minutes in the air on Wednesday, landing safely at Cardington Airfield north of London. CNNMoney reports: "Part airship, part helicopter, part plane, the 300-foot long aircraft is about 50 feet longer than the world's biggest passenger planes. The Airlander, made by British company Hybrid Air Vehicles, has four engines and no internal structure. It maintains its shape thanks to the pressure of the 38,000 cubic meters of helium inside its hull, which is made from ultralight carbon fiber. The aircraft was originally designed for U.S. military surveillance. But the project was grounded in 2013 because of defense spending cuts. [The team behind the giant blimp-like aircraft] said the aircraft could carry communications equipment or other cargo, undertake search and rescue operations, or do military and commercial survey work. The Airlander can stay airborne for up to five days at a time if manned, and for more than two weeks if unmanned. It can carry up to 10 tons of cargo at a maximum speed of 91 miles per hour. The aircraft doesn't need a runway to take off, meaning it can operate from land, snow, ice, desert and even open water." You can view the historic flight for yourself here (Warning: headphone users beware of loud sound).
ISS

Astronauts To Install A Parking Space For SpaceX and Boeing At The ISS (popularmechanics.com) 77

Since Boeing and SpaceX will begin sending NASA astronauts into orbit next year, the International Space Station is going to need a place for them to park. Astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins will journey outside the ISS on Friday to install a new docking adapter for these two private companies. Popular Mechanics reports: "Installing these adapters is a necessary step in NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which seeks to spur development of commercial crew spacecraft. The spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 8:05 a.m. on Friday, and live coverage will start at 6:30. This will be Williams' fourth spacewalk, and Rubins' first." In the meantime, you can watch this video describing exactly what the spacewalk will entail.
Security

People Ignore Software Security Warnings Up To 90% of the Time, Says Study (phys.org) 124

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: A new study from BYU, in collaboration with Google Chrome engineers, finds the status quo of warning messages appearing haphazardly -- while people are typing, watching a video, uploading files, etc. -- results in up to 90 percent of users disregarding them. Researchers found these times are less effective because of "dual task interference," a neural limitation where even simple tasks can't be simultaneously performed without significant performance loss. Or, in human terms, multitasking. For example, 74 percent of people in the study ignored security messages that popped up while they were on the way to close a web page window. Another 79 percent ignored the messages if they were watching a video. And a whopping 87 percent disregarded the messages while they were transferring information, in this case, a confirmation code. For example, Jenkins, Vance and BYU colleagues Bonnie Anderson and Brock Kirwan found that people pay the most attention to security messages when they pop up in lower dual task times such as: after watching a video, waiting for a page to load, or after interacting with a website. For part of the study, researchers had participants complete computer tasks while an fMRI scanner measured their brain activity. The experiment showed neural activity was substantially reduced when security messages interrupted a task, as compared to when a user responded to the security message itself. The BYU researchers used the functional MRI data as they collaborated with a team of Google Chrome security engineers to identify better times to display security messages during the browsing experience.
Power

Solid-State Battery Could Extinguish Fire Risks (thestack.com) 53

An anonymous reader writes: "Researchers have designed a new type of battery that, unlike traditional models containing liquid or gel electrolytes, consists purely of solid chemical compounds and is non-flammable, representing a huge boost for improving battery safety," reports The Stack. "Responding to dangers linked to traditional lithium-ion batteries, the team based at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, has built a solid alternative which contains only solid-state electrodes and electrolytes." The battery is constructed with a layer of highly conductive lithium garnet, which works as a solid electrolyte between two electrodes. The researchers applied the material of the negative pole in viscous form, which allowed it to seep through the porous electrolyte layer. The team was able to temper the battery at 100C. "With a liquid or gel electrolyte, it would never be possible to heat a battery to such high temperatures," the study claims.
Education

From Now On You'll Be Able To Access NASA Research For Free (vice.com) 64

An anonymous reader writes:Fancy some super nerdy bedtime reading? NASA has announced that it will now provide public access to all journal articles on research funded by the agency. Any scientists publishing NASA-funded work will be required to upload their papers to a free, online database called PubSpace within a year of publication. PubSpace is managed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) PubMed Central, which archives biomedical research. You can see NASA-funded studies here, with recent examples including a paper on cardiovascular disease in Apollo astronauts and one on Martian tsunamis caused by meteor impacts. NASA explains that the new web portal is a response to a 2013 government request for federally-funded research to be more accessible. There are a few obvious exceptions to what's included, such as and material that's related to national security or affected by export controls. NASA's openness follows a trend to make science results more accessible outside of published, often paywalled journals.
Medicine

Startup Aims To Commercialize a Brain Implant To Improve Memory (ieee.org) 85

the_newsbeagle writes: Neuroscientist Ted Berger has achieved some remarkable feats in his work on an implanted brain prosthetic to boost memory. Working with rats, he recorded the electrical signals associated with a specific memory from one animal's brain, then inserted that signal -- and thus the memory -- into another animal's brain. Working with monkeys, the implanted device enhanced the animals' recall in difficult memory tasks.

Still, it's startling to learn that a startup is ready to commercialize Berger's work, and is trying to build a memory prosthetic for humans suffering from Alzheimer's, brain injuries, and stroke. The new company, named Kernel, will fund human trials and develop electrodes that can record from and stimulate more brain cells.
"An implanted memory prosthetic would have electrodes to record signals during learning, a microprocessor to do the computations, and electrodes that stimulate neurons to encode the information as a memory," writes Eliza Strickland via IEEE Spectrum.
Earth

Wrong Chemical Dumped Into Olympic Pools Made Them Green (arstechnica.com) 180

Z00L00K writes: [Ars Technica reports:] "After a week of trying to part with green tides in two outdoor swimming pools, Olympic officials over the weekend wrung out a fresh mea culpa and yet another explanation -- neither of which were comforting. According to officials, a local pool-maintenance worker mistakenly added 160 liters of hydrogen peroxide to the waters on August 5, which partially neutralized the chlorine used for disinfection. With chlorine disarmed, the officials said that 'organic compounds' -- i.e. algae and other microbes -- were able to grow and turn the water a murky green in the subsequent days. The revelation appears to contradict officials' previous assurances that despite the emerald hue, which first appeared Tuesday, the waters were safe." I would personally have avoided using the green pools, but that's just me. "Hydrogen peroxide is sometimes used in pools -- often to de-chlorinate them," reports Ars. "Basically, the chemical, a common household disinfectant, is a weak acid that reacts with chlorine and chlorine-containing compounds to release oxygen and form other chlorine-containing compounds. Those may not be good at disinfecting pools, but they still may be picked up by monitoring systems. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to disinfect pools but must be maintained in the waters -- not a one-time dumping -- and can't be used in combination with chlorine." Apparently, the green water irritates eyes and smells like farts.
China

China Launches World's First Quantum Communications Satellite (theverge.com) 102

hackingbear quotes a report from The Verge: China's quantum network could soon span two continents, thanks to a satellite launched earlier today. Launched at 1:40pm ET, the Quantum Science Satellite is designed to distribute quantum-encrypted keys between relay stations in China and Europe. When working as planned, the result could enable unprecedented levels of security between parties on different continents. China's new satellite would put that same fiber-based quantum communication system to work over the air, utilizing high-speed coherent lasers to connect with base stations on two different continents. The experimental satellite's payload also includes controllers and emitters related to quantum entanglement. The satellite will be the first device of its kind if the quantum equipment works as planned. According to the Wall Street Journal, the project was first proposed to the European Space Agency in 2001 but was unable to gain funding.
Space

There May Be A Fifth Force of Nature, Study Suggests (space.com) 240

According to a paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, physicists at the University of California, Irvine, may have discovered a previously unknown subatomic particle that's evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature. Space.com reports: "[Professor of physics and astronomy Jonathan Feng] and his colleagues analyzed data gathered recently by experimental nuclear physicists at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, who were trying to find 'dark photons' -- hypothetical indicators of mysterious dark matter. Dark matter is thought to make up about 85 percent of all matter in the universe, but it neither absorbs nor emits light, so it's impossible to detect directly. 'The experimentalists weren't able to claim that it was a new force,' Feng said. 'They simply saw an excess of events that indicated a new particle, but it was not clear to them whether it was a matter particle or a force-carrying particle.' The new work by Feng and his team suggests that the Hungarians found not a 'dark photon' but rather a 'protophobic X boson' -- a strange particle whose existence could indicate a fifth force of nature. The known electromagnetic force acts on protons and electrons, but this newfound particle apparently interacts only with protons and neutrons, and then only at very short distances, researchers said. The potential fifth force may be linked to the electromagnetic and strong and weak nuclear forces, as 'manifestations of one grander, more fundamental force,' Feng said. It's also possible that the universe of 'normal' matter and forces has a parallel 'dark' sector, with its own matter and forces, Feng added. 'It's possible that these two sectors talk to each other and interact with one another through somewhat veiled but fundamental interactions,' Feng said. 'This dark-sector force may manifest itself as this protophobic force we're seeing as a result of the Hungarian experiment. In a broader sense, it fits in with our original research to understand the nature of dark matter.'"

Locke2005 writes: I've always speculated that there might be forces of nature that we never observed because they were on a much larger or smaller scale than we could detect easily. But now Jonathan Feng, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine, is suggesting there may actually be a fifth force. Of course, this might vanish just like the Higgs Boson evidence did. Can anybody explain better what it was they detected, and why it is being interpreted as evidence of a previously unknown force?
Transportation

Electric Vehicles Can Meet Drivers' Needs Enough To Replace 90 Percent of Vehicles Now On The Road (phys.org) 990

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Phys.Org: Researchers at MIT have just completed the most comprehensive study yet to address whether or not existing electric vehicles could bring about a meaningful reduction in the greenhouse-gas emissions that are causing global climate change. Yes, they can. The study was published today in the journal Nature Energy. Phys.Org reports: "'Roughly 90 percent of the personal vehicles on the road daily could be replaced by a low-cost electric vehicle available on the market today, even if the cars can only charge overnight,' Trancik says, 'which would more than meet near-term U.S. climate targets for personal vehicle travel.' Overall, when accounting for the emissions today from the power plants that provide the electricity, this would lead to an approximately 30 percent reduction in emissions from transportation. The team spent four years on the project, which included developing a way of integrating two huge datasets: one highly detailed set of second-by-second driving behavior based on GPS data, and another broader, more comprehensive set of national data based on travel surveys. Together, the two datasets encompass millions of trips made by drivers all around the country. By working out formulas to integrate the different sets of information and thereby track one-second-resolution drive cycles, the MIT researchers were able to demonstrate that the daily energy requirements of some 90 percent of personal cars on the road in the U.S. could be met by today's EVs, with their current ranges, at an overall cost to their owners -- including both purchase and operating costs -- that would be no greater than that of conventional internal-combustion vehicles."
Earth

NASA: July 2016 Was Earth's Warmest Month On Record (weather.com) 270

mdsolar quotes a report from The Weather Channel: Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), operated by the European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), calculated the global average July temperature was nearly one-fifth of a degree Celsius higher than previous July temperature records set in 2015 and in 2009. July was also 0.55 degrees Celsius higher than the July average for 1981-2010. Compared to the July average, the south-central part of the United States including Texas and into northern Mexico were the most anomalously warm for North America. Globally, portions of western Russia and the Southern Ocean were warmest compared to average. In Russia, fires and an anthrax outbreak have been blamed on warmer than average temperatures. Each of the last 12 months has been the warmest on record for their respective months. This is due to a combination of global climate variability and human activity according to C3S. July is typically the warmest month of the year globally because the Northern Hemisphere has more land masses than the Southern Hemisphere. (NASA GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP) confirms today.)
Software

Audi's Traffic Light Information System Tells You When The Lights Are Going To Turn Green (pcworld.com) 203

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PCWorld: Audi's Traffic light information system offers a first: the ability to tell you when the stoplight is going to change from red to green. This is a big thing for the impatient driver, but it's an even bigger thing for the automotive industry. The new feature, announced Monday, will be available on 2017 Q7, A4, and A4 allroad models built from June, 2016 onward. As your car nears a traffic light, it will receive real-time data about the signals at that location. Because the data can be complex, Audi says the car's computer will decide whether it has enough information to know when the traffic light you're sitting at will turn green. If so, it'll display a countdown clock on the instrument cluster. Audi's General Manager of Connectivity, Pom Malhotra, said Audi tested the service on 100 cars for over a year. The company's working closely with the agencies that manage the 300,000 or so traffic lights in the United States, and data provider Traffic Technology Solutions (TTS) of Portland, Oregon. TTS processes a constant stream of traffic signal status in real time and sends it to Audi's own servers, which then send it to the car. Malhotra said, "A few things have been implemented that we think of as safeguards." For example, the countdown timer will disappear several seconds before the red light changes to green, forcing you to put down your phone or stop whatever you may be doing in the meantime and look at the light yourself. The feature will be available in the three models mentioned via Audi's Connect Prime infotainment package, which costs $199 for 6 months or $750 for 30 months.
Power

Tesla Preps Bigger 100 KWh Battery For Model S and Model X (theverge.com) 113

An anonymous reader writes: Tesla will soon offer a 100 kWh battery for the Model S and Model X that will allow for increased range -- perhaps as much as 380 miles for the Model S. Currently, the 90 kWh batteries are the company's largest capacity. Kenteken.TV is reporting that the Dutch regulator that certifies Tesla's vehicles for use in the European Union, RDW, has recently published a number of new Tesla variants. RDW's public database now includes entries for a Tesla "100D" and "100X," which are titles that follow Tesla's current naming system based on battery capacity. The listing for the 100D claims the vehicle has a range of 381 miles or 613 kilometers. The motor output is reported as 90 kilowatts (121 horsepower), which is the maximum output the Tesla motors can sustain without overheating. Autoblog notes that EU range estimates tend to be more optimistic than those issued by the U.S. EPA. A more realistic range might be 310 to 320 miles.
Space

Astronomers To Announce Discovery of a Nearby 'Earth-Like' Planet (seeker.com) 345

astroengine quotes a report from Seeker: Scientists are preparing to unveil a new planet in our galactic neighborhood which is "believed to be Earth-like" and orbits its star at a distance that could favor life, German weekly Der Spiegel reported Friday. The exoplanet orbits a well-investigated star called Proxima Centauri, part of the Alpha Centauri star system, the magazine said, quoting anonymous sources.

"The still nameless planet is believed to be Earth-like and orbits at a distance to Proxima Centauri that could allow it to have liquid water on its surface -- an important requirement for the emergence of life," said the magazine.

It's orbiting our sun's nearest neighboring star -- just 4.25 light years away -- meaning it could someday be considered for the world's first interstellar mission.
Space

Fourth SpaceX Rocket Successfully Landed on A Drone Ship (theverge.com) 71

Saturday a SpaceX rocket completed the company's fourth successful landing at sea (watched by over 100,000 viewers on YouTube and Flickr). Saturday's landing means Elon Musk's company has now recovered more than half the rockets they've launched. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Saturday's report from The Verge: Tonight's landing was particularly challenging for SpaceX... The Falcon 9 had to carry its onboard satellite -- called JCSAT-16 -- into...a highly elliptical orbit that takes the satellite 20,000 miles out beyond Earth's surface. Getting to GTO requires a lot of speed and uses up a lot of fuel during take off, more so than getting to lower Earth orbit. That makes things difficult for the rocket landing afterward...there's less fuel leftover for the vehicle to reignite its engines and perform the necessary landing maneuvers.

CEO Elon Musk said the company is aiming to launch its first landed rocket sometime this fall...SpaceX's president, Gwynne Shotwell, estimates that reusing these landed Falcon 9 vehicles will lead to a 30 percent reduction in launch costs.

SpaceX named their drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You."

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