About these ads

Tesla Might Find Success in China, but the Results Could Be Bad for the Environment

China-bound: A Tesla Model S sedan.

China-bound: A Tesla Model S sedan.

For MIT Technology ReviewMike Orcutt  writes: Sales of electric vehicles in China, the world’s largest auto market, have beenminuscule despite government incentives meant to put five million of the cars on the nation’s roads by 2020. Tesla Motors hopes to begin changing that as it makes its first deliveries of Model S sedans to customers in China this month. But while having more EVs might help China reach its transportation goals, it probably won’t improve the environment, given the country’s reliance on coal for more than 70 percent of its electricity. Making matters worse, coal in China is often dirtier than it is elsewhere, and many power plants don’t employ modern emission-control technologies.

Because China relies so heavily on coal for power, electric vehicles aren’t necessarily an improvement over gasoline-powered cars.

Recent research led by Christopher Cherry, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Tennessee, has shown that in much of the country, an electric vehicle the size of a Nissan Leaf accounts for roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide per mile driven as a comparable gasoline-powered car. On top of that, EVs in China account for a larger amount of dangerous particulate emissions than conventional cars. Read the rest of this entry »

About these ads

Experts: Civilians Not Ready for EMP-Caused Blackout

The government testing electromagnetic pulses uses a simulator hanging over an airborne command post.

For Watchdog.orgJosh Peterson writes: The catastrophic effects of an electromagnetic pulse-caused blackout could be preventable, but experts warn the civilian world is still not ready.

Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both congressional advisory boards, said the technology to avoid disaster from electromagnetic pulses exists, and upgrading the nation’s electrical grid is financially viable.

Heathkit-HamRadio

“The problem is not the technology,” Pry said. “We know how to protect against it. It’s not the money, it doesn’t cost that much. The problem is the politics. It always seems to be the politics that gets in the way.”

IT’S STOPPABLE: Peter Vincent Pry says technology exists to protect against the damage from electromagnetic pulses.

He said the more officials plan, the lower the estimated cost gets.

“If you do a smart plan — the Congressional EMP Commission estimated that you could protect the whole country for about $2 billion,” Pry told Watchdog.org. “That’s what we give away in foreign aid to Pakistan every year.”

In the first few minutes of an EMP, nearly half a million people would die. That’s the worst-case scenario that author William R. Forstchen estimated in 2011 would be the result of an EMP on the electric grid — whether by an act of God, or a nuclear missile detonating in Earth’s upper atmosphere.

An electromagnetic pulse is a burst of electromagnetic energy strong enough to disable, and even destroy, nearby electronic devices.

The scenario sounds like something in a Hollywood film, but the U.S. military has been preparing its electronic systems for such an event since the Cold War. The protective measures taken to harden facilities against a nuclear attack also help in some cases to protect against EMPs.

The civilian world is another story. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Milkshake Experiment: ‘A Label is More than a Label’ or ‘How Your Thoughts and Beliefs Fool Your Stomach’

Bianca Giaever and Alix Spiegel/NPR/YouTube

 “I don’t think we’ve given enough credit to the role of our beliefs in determining our physiology, our reality.”

–  Alia Crud

Alix Spiegel reports: It was late, almost 9 at night, when Justin Holden pulled the icy pizza box from the refrigerator at the Brookville Supermarket in Washington, D.C.

He stood in front of the open door, scanning the nutrition facts label.

A close relative had recently had a heart attack, and in the back of his mind there was this idea stalking him: If he put too much salt in his body, it would eventually kill him.

[Listen to the Story]   [Download MP3]

For this reason the information in the label wasn’t exactly soothing: 1,110 milligrams of sodium seemed like a lot.

But there was even worse-sounding stuff at the bottom of the label.

Words like “diglyceride,” with a string of letters that clearly had no business sitting next to each other. It suggested that something deeply unnatural was sitting inside the box.

“Obviously it’s not good for me,” the 20ish Holden said. “But, hopefully, I can let it slide in.”

He tucked the pizza under his arm, and headed one aisle over for a sports drink.

A Label Is More Than A Label

Who among us has not had a moment like this? That intimate tete-a-tete with the nutrition label, searching out salt, sugar, fat, trying to discern: How will you affect me? Are you good? Or are you bad?

Here’s the thing you probably haven’t stopped to consider: how the label itself is affecting you.

“Labels are not just labels; they evoke a set of beliefs,” says Alia Crum, a clinical psychologist who does research at the Columbia Business School in New York. Read the rest of this entry »


SpaceX Launch of NASA Cargo to Space Station Set for Friday, Spacewalk Wednesday

second-spacex-dragon-commercial-cargo-craft-canadarm2-march-3-2013-lg

NASA and SpaceX are targeting a 3:25 p.m. EDT launch on Friday, April 18, of SpaceX’s third cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. NASA Television coverage will begin at 2:15 p.m.

The company’s April 14 launch to the orbiting laboratory was scrubbed due to a helium leak in the Falcon 9 rocket that will launch the Dragon spacecraft to the space station.

Dragon is carrying to the space station almost 5,000 pounds of science and research, crew supplies, vehicle hardware and spacewalk tools — all to support the crew and more than 150 scientific investigations planned for Expeditions 39 and 40. If needed, another launch attempt will take place at 3:02 p.m. Saturday, April 19.

NASA Television coverage of Dragon’s arrival at the space station will begin at 5:45 a.m. Sunday, April 20. Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will use the space station’s robotic arm to capture the spacecraft at approximately 7 a.m. NASA’s Rick Mastracchio will support Wakata during the rendezvous. Read the rest of this entry »


What It’s Like to Spend 20 Years Listening to Psychopaths for Science

bundy-660x446

For WIRED, Greg Miller writes: Ted Bundy, shown here in 1978, unwittingly had a role in sparking Kent Kiehl’s interest in psychopaths. Photo: Donn Dughi/Bettmann/CORBIS

Kent Kiehl was walking briskly towards the airport exit, eager to get home, when a security guard grabbed his arm. “Would you please come with me, sir?” he said. Kiehl complied, and he did his best to stay calm while security officers searched his belongings. Then, they asked him if there was anything he wanted to confess.

psychopath-sm

Kiehl is a neuroscientist at the Mind Research Network and the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and he’s devoted his career to studying what’s different about the brains of psychopaths — people whose lack of compassion, empathy, and remorse has a tendency to get them into trouble with the law. On the plane, Kiehl had been typing up notes from an interview he’d done with a psychopath in Illinois who’d been convicted of murdering two women and raping and killing a 10-year old girl. The woman sitting next to him thought he was typing out a confession.

[Order The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience from Amazon]

Kiehl recounts the story in a new book about his research, The Psychopath Whisperer. He has been interviewing psychopaths for more than 20 years, and the book is filled with stories of these colorful (and occasionally off-color) encounters. (Actually, The Psychopath Listener would have been a more accurate, if less grabby title.) More recently he’s acquired a mobile MRI scanner and permission to scan the brains of New Mexico state prison inmates. So far he’s scanned about 3,000 violent offenders, including 500 psychopaths.

Read the rest of this entry »


Soft Target: Security Holes in Power Grid Have Federal Officials Scrambling

In Congress, the vulnerability of the power grid has emerged as among the most pressing domestic security concerns

A report chronicling the vulnerability of the power grid said: “Many of the grid’s important components sit out in the open, often in remote locations, protected by little more than cameras and chain-link fences.” (Patrick Tehan / Bay Area News Group / February 2, 2014)  http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-grid-security-20140407,0,5068036.story#ixzz2z4sPXbaq

A report chronicling the vulnerability of the power grid said: “Many of the grid’s important components sit out in the open, often in remote locations, protected by little more than cameras and chain-link fences.” (Patrick Tehan / Bay Area News Group)

For the LATimes, Evan Halper writes: Adam Crain assumed that tapping into the computer networks used by power companies to keep electricity zipping through transmission lines would be nearly impossible in these days of heightened vigilance over cybersecurity.

When he discovered how wrong he was, his work sent Homeland Security Department officials into a scramble.

Crain, the owner of a small tech firm in Raleigh, N.C., along with a research partner, found penetrating transmission systems used by dozens of utilities to be startlingly easy. After they shared their discovery with beleaguered utility security officials, the Homeland Security Department began sending alerts to power grid operators, advising them to upgrade their software.

The alerts haven’t stopped because Crain keeps finding new security holes he can exploit.

“There are a lot of people going through various stages of denial” about how easily terrorists could disrupt the power grid, he said. “If I could write a tool that does this, you can be sure a nation state or someone with more resources could.”

“Many of the grid’s important components sit out in the open, often in remote locations, protected by little more than cameras and chain-link fences.”

Those sorts of warnings, along with vivid demonstrations of the grid’s vulnerability, such as an incident a year ago in which unknown assailants fired on a power station near San Jose, nearly knocking out electricity to Silicon Valley, have grabbed official attention. In Congress, the vulnerability of the power grid has emerged as among the most pressing domestic security concerns.

It is also among the most vexing. Read the rest of this entry »


Astronaut Pee Turned Into Fuel

astronaut_urine_recycling

Alyssa Denigelis reports: It’s a classic fact that astronaut urine can be processed into drinkable water. Now a new bioreactor could turn the waste filtered from that pee into an energy source as well.

When water supplies run low on a space mission, astronaut urine can be treated to become drinking water. But the waste removed is still, well, waste. University of Puerto Rico scientists Eduardo Nicolau and Carlos R. Cabrera, working in collaboration with the NASA Ames Research Center, came up with a new approach to make use of the waste.

Read the rest of this entry »


RAIL GUNS!

Two words: RAIL GUNS!

 

 


First Instagram from Space

 


Is The Flying Car Finally Here?

flying-car
What will personal transportation look like in the future? Maybe like this, if aerospace company Terrafugia succeeds in its efforts to build TF-X.

Introducing TF-X

For CNNTeo Kermeliotis, reports: Ever since the early 1960s when we were glued to the animated sitcom “The Jetsons“, whimsical visions of a futuristic space utopia filled our imaginations leaving people asking themselves: “Where’s my flying car?”

Point taken, but perhaps now, as our childhood dreams move slowly closer to reality, we should also start pondering this: if a flying car was here today, in the real world and not in the realm of science fiction, would we feel comfortable controlling it safely while cruising thousands of feet up in the air? Would we possess the technical skills required to even get it off the ground, let alone land it without a scratch?

Before you dash to the door and sprint to your nearest pilot school to sign up for flight lessons, take a moment to meet Carl Dietrich, the chief executive and co-founder of aerospace company Terrafugia.

Dietrich and his team are working to bring consumers closer to the prospect of a practical flying car, envisioning a vehicle that does not require its operator to be a trained pilot. Thus, Boston -based Terrafugia announced last May it had started working on the concept of TF-X, a four-seat, plug-in hybrid electric car that can do vertical take-offs and landings.

terrafugia-tf-x-plane
A rendering of the TF-X concept.

Who makes the calls?

Although not driverless, Dietrich says the TF-X could increase the level of so-called “human directed local autonomy,” a term he describes as a “big fancy phrase” that essentially means that the vehicle’s operator won’t need to have the knowledge or skills of a pilot. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Concept Model: Saturn V and Space Shuttle Combo

saturn-shuttle

Saturn-Shuttle / The concept model for a Saturn V and Space Shuttle combo.

spacexp.tumblr.com


Discovery, Science to Televise Live Moon Landing

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Discovery and Science Channels are headed to the moon.

The sibling cable networks have signed on to chronicle the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition for privately funded teams to land an unmanned craft on the moon by Dec. 31, 2015.

Lesley Goldberg writes:  The networks will chronicle the historic race with a miniseries event that follows teams from around the world as they race to complete the requirements for the grand prize: landing a craft on the surface of the moon, traveling 500 meters and transmitting live pictures and video back to Earth.

Science and Discovery will follow the entire process — from testing and lift-off to live coverage of the winning lunar landing, estimated to take place in 2015.

“The $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE offers all the ingredients of fantastic television; stakes, competition, big characters and mind-blowing visuals.

Read the rest of this entry »


M.I.T. Meets Tumblr: The Anatomy of a Forgotten Social Network

While network scientists have been poring over data from Twitter and Facebook, they’ve forgotten about Tumblr. Now they’ve begun to ask how this network differs from the rest.

Tumblr
The study of social networks has gripped computer scientists in recent years. In particular, researchers have focused on a few of the biggest networks that have made their data available, such as some mobile phone networks, Wikipedia and Twitter.

“One interesting question is whether Tumblr more closely resembles a blogosphere network than a microblogging network like that of Twitter.”

But in the rush, one network has been more or less ignored by researchers: Tumblr, a microblogging platform similar to Twitter. So an interesting question is how the network associated with Tumblr is different from the Twitter network.

Today we get an answer thanks to the work of Yi Chang and pals at Yahoo Labs in Sunnyvale. These guys point out that relatively little is known about Tumblr compared to other networks like Twitter and set out to change this.

The basic statistics are straightforward. Tumblr is a microblogging service with about 160 million users who together have published over 70 billion posts.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Largest Submarine in The U.S. Navy

USS Pennsylvania is a United States Navy Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine which has been in commission since 1989. The Ohio class is a class of nuclear powered submarines used by the United States Navy. 

YouTube.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,795 other followers