Robo-submarines learn to dive free

Will Ferguson, reporter
It's time to let the robo-subs off the leash.
Robot submarines are pretty good at finding their own way around but they still need a helpful human to guide them through twisting underwater ravines and channels, the poor things.
Not for much longer. A new guidance system will let autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) snap photos along even the most treacherous reaches of sea floor.
AUVs can already navigate in open water by matching their depth to an existing terrain map. Sarah Houts of the Aerospace Robotics Laboratory, at Stanford University, California, worked with researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, also in California, to take the current technology one step further by computing flight paths around and through underwater obstacles.
The software tweak will allow underwater robots to autonomously take pictures of hazardous locations where only remote-controlled robots have gone before. The team ran a successful field test in Monterey Bay earlier this month and expects the system will be ready to be tried for real sometime next year.
Across the Pacific, Australian scientists are teaching their autonomous underwater robot Sirius a new trick as well. 
 Researchers at the University of Sydney have developed an system to tell the difference between kelp and other species of plant life on the ocean floor off the south-east coast of Tasmania. Their results mean that future AUVs trained on a number of dive missions could be used to document the variety and abundance of plant and animal life in the world's oceans - all without humans needing to be in the loop. The research will be presented at theAustralian Conference on Robotics and Automation next month.

Laser cookery makes your food more fun

No miracle <i>(Image: Kentaro Fukuchi)</i>
YOUR toast pops up with a strange pattern burned into it. Pointing your phone's camera at the pattern pulls up a website showing the day's traffic news for your commute. Later, as you're wondering how to make a spring roll, you notice the instructions are etched into the rice paper itself.
These are just a couple of the applications of "laser cookery" envisaged by Kentaro Fukuchi and colleagues at Meiji University in Japan. They reckon laser cutters have done their time in industry and, like 3D printers before them, it's now time for them to come into our homes - as a new breed of laser-enabled kitchen appliances.
At a cookery technology workshop in Nara, Japan, in November, the researchers showed how a benchtop industrial laser cutter - normally used to cut or engrave patterns in plastic, wood and metal - could generate a variety of fascinating foodstuffs when hooked up to a computer running graphics software and a webcam.
One delicacy they have developed is the charmingly named "melt-fat raw bacon", an allegedly tasty sliver of uncooked bacon on which the fat is cooked by the laser, using a webcam trained on the bacon to guide the beam. "The well-cooked fat and the fresh taste of the meat can then be experienced at the same time," says Fukuchi. Don't all rush at once.
by Paul Marks

What We Can Expect in Technology for Next Year in 2013


Technology is ever evolving and moving forward. Change is probably the best and most prominent characteristic that can be ascribed to technology, as wide and all encompassing as a term it might be. The rate of advancement that technology is exhibiting is much, much faster than any could have expected or anticipated - probably even for those who are at the forefront of its progress.
This unparalleled speed of development has been very welcome for technology enthusiasts all over the world. People who simply can't get enough of the different devices and gadgets that are being produced and released on a regular basis are enjoying something of a perfect time right now. And things are likely to only get better.
What to Expect in 2013
At the frontline of technological progress right now are the many tablets and smartphones that are constantly being improved and updated. And as amazing as those devices seem to be right now, there's every reason to believe and expect that it will only improve and get to an even better level. With 2013 almost upon us, it would be good to look at what technology has in store for us in 2013.
  • Expect even faster networking. Consumers want faster networking than what is currently available to them, which is 3G and has just been made available mainstream, but is still not enough. In 2013 that would be addressed by the introduction of 4G speeds. That move will allow consumers to experience not only improvement in speed but in the range, bandwidth and roaming management as well. It is definitely an improvement of what is already available to us, so cloud networking and HD streaming would all become better.

  • 3D technology will see some significant improvements. This is probably best seen in gaming, and now also in 3D TV. And with the Xbox and PlayStation about to become available, then there would even be a considerable rise in its use. More and more 3D TV's should be expected to be available, with much higher quality in its projection and in terms of the innovation in design there would also be improvements.

  • Aside from 3D TV, there is also another type of TV that's also making waves and causing a sensation in the technological world. That would be the Internet TV that allows its users to interact with their TV by surfing the net, using social media, playing online games, and many more. Different kinds of companies are coming up with their very own versions of the Internet TV, so expect it to be much more common this coming year.

  • We can expect tablets to go mainstream in 2013. The sensation this year had been the latest and most advanced smart phones as well tablet computers. Next year, in 2013, we can all expect upgrades in the tablets that the major companies are producing and releasing. Every company is sure to come up with their own latest tablet, with the hopes of gaining a better share of the tablet computer market for the year.

Find Solutions to Your Computer Problems Online

By Uchenna Rodger Ani-Okoye

When it comes to fixing an array of computer problems, it may be best for you to venture online and look for solutions, rather than the alternative. In most cases, all you'll need to do is locate a suitable website, call them up through the system and grant them remote access to your computer and you're on your way.
There are tons of different computer repair services that you can find out there, all of which have highly experienced and competent professionals on their payroll that can help you. Through the utilisation of these services you can ensure that your computer is running optimally at all times.
The quality and efficiency of the computer support that you receive depends greatly on the company you hire. In most cases, the repair process is fairly simple. All you will need to do is get in contact with a suitable support service you've found online, and they will ask you to tell them exactly what's wrong with your computer. Your issue may be due to a virus or hardware conflict.
After that's been established, they will then access your system, with your consent in order to locate and rectify the issue. In order for them to access your system, they will use the appropriate dedicated software, which will ensure they do not steal any data on your computer.
In order for these companies to offer you technical support, they use CNNA, Microsoft and Red Hat certified personnel that are especially trained for tackling the kinds of issues your likely to encounter. Another benefit of utilising their service is that, because they've studied the subject in detail, they are able to mass a much greater understanding of the kind of problems your likely to encounter.
Another thing that is good about these online based computer support services is that they are relatively cheap. The amount of money that you can expect to pay would be considered minimal, when compared to the fees charged by your standard computer repair store.
In addition, it's also possible for you to sign up with these services so that you can receive additional support over a prolonged period of time. With the online services you're given far more flexibility, as you can establish smaller contracts.
These companies usually offer a fairly substantial range of support, whether it is for the removal of computer viruses, operating system support, networking support and much more.

Tips to Set Birthday Reminders on iPhone and Mac

By Semeli Karen McPherso

Dependence on technology might have lowered our ability to recall anniversaries or birthdays but often our mobile gadgets come handy at the time of setting reminders. Forgetting or missing out on someone's birthday can be overcome if you are using an iPhone or a Mac.
If you own an iPhone 4S or 5 then it becomes easy to set reminders for birthday. Additionally, if your iPhone is already loaded with widgets and reminders then you may find buzzing off annoying reminders that keep reminding you about various alerts including, Facebook alerts and messages from your friend network. All this is easily manageable with your iOS device including setting important birthday alerts. You can even make settings to turn off unnecessary reminders that are no longer needed like that of random business contacts or birthday parties that you would rather like to give a miss. Whatever be your reason here are a few tips that will help you manage your birthday alerts on your iPhone.
Before we get started upon how the birthday reminders work and how to manage them you first need to ensure that you have the birthday details in your Contacts App. You can set an automatic birthday reminder by tweaking your calendar settings or turn off the reminder as per your convenience.
Apply the following steps for setting a Birthday reminder:
• Initially you need to launch the Calendar app on your iPhone by tapping on the Calendars located at the right side upper corner of your iPhone screen.
• Scroll down to the Calendars menu and locate Birthdays under Other.
• If you are looking forward to enable the option for birthday reminders on your iPhone then you need to ensure that your Birthdays calendar is check marked or is already a selected option. This will fetch you birthday reminders and send you alert message whenever a birthday is coming up.
• If you do not want to get any birthday alerts then simply tap Birthdays to unselect the option. Now you will not receive any reminders.
• If you want to connect your iPhone to Facebook then, Settings>Facebook> enter user name and password and then select the Birthdays option. This way you will be reminded of any arriving Birthdays occurring amongst your Facebook friends. Similarly, to turn off the feature you just need to unselect the Birthdays option.
• To make settings on your iPhone you need to go to Settings> Tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars section> Calendars>Default Alert Times. This will reveal three options, Events, Birthdays and All-Day Events.
• Tap to select Birthdays and choose a time to remind you for an upcoming birthday. This time can be two days earlier, same day, a day earlier or a week earlier. If you do not want to set an alert for birthday then you can choose the none option.
• You can also pick a style to suit your birthday reminder alert. For example, you can choose from the given options of banners or pre-defined alerts for Calendar or Birthday reminders.
Now that you are already aware of the calendar and birthday synching options on your iPhone let us take a look at other tips that may come handy for your Mac. Let us move on to another section where you will learn about iCal and iCloud synchronizing option on your Mac to enable reminders and birthday alerts.
Some Tips for Mac Users
In addition to the tips given above you can also make other settings that include synchronizing option related to iCal for your Mac via iCloud. One thing that you need to keep in mind is that iCal has inbuilt settings for sending automatic alerts for birthdays on your Mac. For iCal synchronizing apply the following steps:
• Launch iCal on your Mac> iCal Menu>Preferences> Alerts
• Go to the pull down menu and then choose the option from Calendar Accounts that contain options like Google, Yahoo, iCloud, etc. choose iCloud option
• Now you need to choose settings for receiving automatic alerts for Birthdays by selecting Birthdays
Following the above-mentioned tips will help you set birthday reminders on your iPhone and Mac.
She is a Technology writer who is keen on any new emerging technology updates. She is working with Qresolve as a Technical Support Engineer. Semeli Karen McPherson has been offering online tech support to global customers for issues related to laptops, desktops, Mac and devices including iPods, tablets, iPhones, computer support and more. She caters to the segment of core technology and provides viable solutions to any issues related to technology and software. Her expertise and skills in handling key technology issues is immaculate and quick result bearing. Through her articles and postings she aims to provide knowledge and solutions to common technology issues that a user faces.

Best Graphics Cards

By Ken Bravio

Most off the shelf computers from stores such as Best Buy or Target have integrated graphics, meaning a base line non-dedicated video processing "card" - in other words, you won't be doing much gaming with a stock integrated graphics chip.

Upgrading to a dedicated graphics card is one of the best upgrades you can do for your desktop - whether you don't have one, or just are looking to upgrade your slow machine.

Keep in mind - if you are upgrading to check and see how big of a power supply is required to power the card. All cards should list this information, and if not a little digging around on the internet should provide that information. You may need to upgrade your Power Supply (PSU) in order to power a new graphics card. So be sure to double check this before spending your money on a card.


This is an NVIDIA graphics card, one of the top 2 players in the GPU game. This is a 2GB card, which a few months ago was considered the top of the line, but in 2013 we will see a lot more 3GB or even 4GB cards. That does not mean this card is not a beast - because it is a beast. Direct X11 capable, PCI-E 3.0 16x and more - you will be gaming at HD resolutions and beyond, with the best graphics settings possible.

AMD Radeon HD7970

Radeon is the competitor to NVIDIA, usually offering a cheaper alternative to it's NVIDIA sister cards. But this doesn't mean they are weaker. The HD7970 is a very powerful card at a great price - probably one of the best "budget" cards you could get for price/performance. With 2GB RAM, a 925MHz clock speed, PCI Express 3.0, this is a BEAST card. It's size shows it too - make sure your case can fit it. It also requires at least a 500w PSU.

MSI GTX 660 Ti

MSI manufactures a lot of cards and this specific one runs on NVIDIA drivers. It has a 915 MHz clock speed, 2GB ram, PCI Express 3.0, and a few other bells. MSI makes great cards with great cooling ability. This one features MSI's Twin Frozr IV feature which keeps the card 14 degrees Celsius cooler then normal. Say goodbye to dust buildup on your card and increase the life of your GPU.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6950

This is a fantastic budget card with AMD drivers - the 6950 is older, but still a beast. A 800Mhz clock speed (that overclocks very well), PCi Express 2.0, direct x11 support, and 2GB video ram is featured on this card. It's truly a power house card for the price (under $200) and is easily overclockable and can reach speeds on par with more expensive cards such as the 7950.

How to Use QR Codes Creatively


Creative QR codes were first noticed in Japan, where companies thought of using these mini bar codes to get closer to their customers. It wasn't long before the 'mobile tagging' craze took over, and today, we can spot some really innovative uses of QR codes that definitely help you to expand your customer base. To some, it may seem like a passing whim, but statistics proving the caliber of the QR codes as an effective marketing tool, tell a different story. QR codes have been around for more than 15 years now; long enough to tell you that they've been tried and tested.

How could you work them to your company's advantage, then? There are several ways to do that, and a few of them are listed right here.

Creative Uses of QR Codes in Marketing:

Offer Goodies 
Yes; it is the oldest trick of the trade. Rewarding your customers with freebies is a fabulous marketing tool. It could be a promotional offer that includes slashed rates of the product or a membership or even future discounts. Run these codes as a part of your print medium advertisements and/or plaster it across your store and watch your fan base multiply.

Choose your Spot 
The most obvious spot for advertising is a purchased product. You're assured that it stays with your consumer, so why not make use of the product's part to make your company visible? QR codes can be printed on product labels, price tags or product bags. It is a clever spot to put a QR code on, and you don't even have to buy advertising space. Embed information about your company, special online offers or priority deals.

Store Displays 
Your company may have an online presence, but aren't you overlooking a very obvious spot to market it 24x7? Display windows in your store are sure to be arresting, but why exclude customers who happen to view them beyond your working hours? A QR code displayed here, lets you get in touch with someone who is interested in your product, but may not necessarily return.

Outdoor Displays 
Be brazen at public places, conventions, fairs or seminars and put forth your company's profile in a "subtle" QR code. Even better, embed your company's logo into the code (shouldn't be too difficult, but ensure its functionality), so that you arouse enough curiosity without revealing too much information. Put up QR codes on banners, employee t-shirts, visiting cards, etc., which will ensure visibility.

URL Access 
QR codes that direct the user to the shopping page's URL will be a sure-fire hit. Do make sure that the page is mobile-friendly, or else the entire purpose of the QR code would be wasted. Likewise, you could use QR codes to connect with Facebook or Twitter, and be liked or followed instantaneously. However, pulling this off might be slightly tricky as people who are looking for more information may consider it misleading.

Creative Glimpse 
Restaurant menus can include QR codes next to popular dishes, which lets the user connect to a URL that allows them to view the preparation. QR codes are also used in art galleries where they are strategically placed next to the exhibit. Scanning them gives you inputs about the artist and the exhibit as well. In fact, each business can have their own list of things that they want their customers to know about.

Treasure Hunts 
Although it won't suit all products, organizing a treasure hunt through QR codes is an excellent way to engage potential customers. And what could be better than to have a prize at the end of it? As mentioned before, it can be bothersome to organize, but well worth a try for a new product from a recognizable brand.
Create a Buzz 

QR codes can be so designed that they make phone calls and send messages to your company. Just be sure that your customer service department is capable of handling inquiries and feedback, or at times, brickbats too. While this does not really qualify as a marketing tool, you can spread some exclusive offers so that the customer does not think of it as a meaningless gimmick.

QR Codes Gone Waste:

An innovative marketing tool it certainly is, but overenthusiastic usage of the QR code really kills its very purpose. This is how QR codes can be completely mismanaged. (Hint: Location, location, location)

✘ A subway is the worst place to place a QR hoarding. Unless the underground has Wi-Fi, placing a QR advertisement makes no sense at all, as the idea is to engage people with information on the go. We can't expect people to save our QR image and scan it sometime later.

✘ QR codes in in-flight reading material is a dubious one indeed. Seriously, a QR code is not something that is cherished; it is just a ticket to more information. And unless the viewer gets immediate access to it, (impossible when he's flying) you'd rather not print it at all.

✘ QR codes on billboards that are high up there, completely miss the point. People are not interested in craning their necks to take a picture of something they may not even want to know about. The key is easy accessibility.

✘ When QR codes appear on buses or trains, one does wonder who put them there and why; unless they really wanted those buses and trains to break down, so that the frustrated commuters and random pedestrians could then scan it.

✘ It would be a sin to let your QR code get entangled in the Android/Apple face-off. Create a code that is flexible for both, so you make sure that it does not leave out either smartphone user.

QR coding is a contemporary communication tool and you can think of several ways to integrate it into your marketing plan. It definitely is cost-effective, and according to many, it is the ultimate marketing medium of the future.
Read more at :

How do QR Codes Work?

These days, it is not uncommon to find a QR code in newspaper advertisements, on home delivery goods or even food items. What are these QR codes? How do they work? Well, let's decode the QR code and find out for ourselves.

Did you know that even though the demand for a QR code (quick response code) has gained popularity in recent years, it has actually been in use for more than a decade? The QR code was generated in the year 1994, by (a global automotive components manufacturer) DENSO WAVE, a subsidiary of the Toyota Group of companies. With technology playing a major role in our daily lives, it is not surprising to spot a QR code even while walking down the street with a newspaper in hand. What do you do if you want to download an application for your new phone, or order a pizza? Simple - run your smartphone over the QR code and you have it scanned and decoded in minutes.

What is a QR Code:

A QR code is a type of matrix barcode, which is also known as a 2-dimensional (2-D) code. It was first designed to keep a track of manufactured automobile parts; however, its use outside the automotive industry has seen a steady rise in the past few years. The QR code has surpassed the usage of the standard UPC barcode, owing its credit to an extensive storage capacity and an incredibly fast readability.
Components of a QR Code:

The code is made up of a number of black and white modules, which are arranged in a regular polygon (or in simpler words, a square). A standard QR code can contain a whopping 7k characters. The components of a QR code include four standardized modes of data, which include alphanumeric, numeric, binary and Kanji data. Refer to the table given below for a detailed information of the QR code.
How do QR Code Generators Work?:

The QR code generator translates data into a QR code. The amount of data that can be stored on a QR code depends on the mode (input data type), the dimension of the symbol and the four error correction levels. The QR code generator is a built-in system that places data in a zigzag pattern, which is then filled with alignment patterns and interleaved error-correction blocks that complicate the QR code. The QR code generator translates data into octets (8 bits long) and the number of bits in the length field vary depending on the encoding and the version that is used.

Working of a QR Code Generator
Types of Encoding               Bits                       No. of Characters
Numeric encoding                10 bits                      per 3 digits
Alphanumeric encoding        11 bits                      per 2 characters
Byte encoding                       8 bits                       per character
Kanji encoding                    13 bits                      per character

The QR code uses the Reed-Solomon (RS) code, which can automatically correct up to 15 errors per block, thus limiting the complexity of the decoding algorithm. The four levels of this code are:

⇨ Level L, which can automatically restore 7% of the codewords
⇨ Level M, which can automatically restore 15% of the codewords
⇨ Level Q, which can automatically restore 25% of the codewords
⇨ Level H, which can automatically restore 30% of the codewords

Most of these QR code generators are available online; all you've got to do is, enter the data to be translated and it will generate the code, which can either be printed or scanned on to an electronic device.

How do QR Code Readers Work?:

Decoding information is now a mere child's play, as you do not need special scanners to interpret the QR code. All you've got to do is, scan the QR code with the inbuilt camera on your cell phone. Your cell phone will convert the picture of the code into a text format, which can be read after you have already installed a software that will interpret the code for you. Once your phone has processed the information on the QR code, you can decipher the text or image that was embedded into the QR code.

QR code generators are an ingenious scheme that allow the code to be read in any orientation, which means you can read the information, even if a part of the code is damaged.

Seeing the way the QR code works, it makes it relatively easier to use and understand. Considering that it can be used both in the print media as well as in the electronic media, its usability has seen an upward trend. It won't be long before you can use QR codes in educational streams, where all you would have to do is, scan the QR code and gain access to all that you need to know in the course structure. When it comes to using QR codes creatively, there is no stopping the creativity that can flow. QR codes can be creatively used to market your product or as a style statement on your tee; you just need to put your thinking hats on!
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Make A Name With Google

By Ken McKay

Expert Author Ken McKay

The domain name of a website is just one of the many factors used by search engines to position the website in search results. But when every website owner strives to be on page one of Google, choosing a good domain name is another opportunity to score points.
Experience tells us a domain name should be all of these: 
1) Easy to remember
2) Contain key search word or words.
3) Not similar to existing names.
Easy to remember
Domain names are allowed to contain up to 67 characters. One client wanted us to register a name he had created with 54 characters.
It certainly contained key search words and was nothing like any existing name. But when I asked the client to repeat the name so that I could check what I had written down, the client himself had forgotten the exact name.
A name which is easy to remember helps customers of a website come back for repeat business. It also helps them refer the website to other people.
One client wanted a name made from the two initials of each of his three children. That was certainly very easy for him to remember and made a new word that could be pronounced although it didn't mean anything. But did he expect everyone else to know the first and middle names of his three children, or even that he had children?
It's okay to have two names, one for search engines and a short one for emails, both opening the same website.
Contain key search word or words
This is another opportunity to get your website indexed by Google under your key search words. What are the key words that you want people to search Google for and find your website?
If you are an electrician in Kentucky then is the best name for you. But that's already taken. So you can qualify the name with say your name. E.g.
We find some people want their personal name for a domain name, e.g. This is fine if Joe Smith is already a celebrity and a lot of people know him, but not if he wants people who don't know him to find his website. Personal names for domain names are suitable for politicians, authors, artists, musicians, film stars, sports stars and celebrities.
A client wanted a name for his business website which didn't represent any product or service, i.e. with no key words. When asked why, he explained that he wanted to keep the name available to cover any future business that he might expand into. Well the answer is that without keywords in the name he must work much harder to become big enough to expand into other businesses. We suggest future businesses deserve their own name.
Even businesses on the main street recognize the importance of keywords. E.g. you don't see a butchers shop without signage that says "Butcher" even though you get a clue from the meat in the shop window.
Not similar to existing names
Naturally if your name is similar to an existing name then its possible the existing name already has a good position in search engines. Then the existing name will be listed before your new name and steal your potential visitors.
One client chose a good name that included two key search words. They then found that name existed with just an "s" on the end. Beware of plurals and singulars of a name that you choose.
Some people try to start up with version of name. This is like hitting your head against a brick wall. If someone has established a position in the search engines with name then it won't be easy to take that position from them with version.
Put your energy into selecting an original name that can't be confused with another.
To give a domain name every chance of success, make it easy to remember, contain key words and be not simiar to an existing name.
Another factor considered by search engines is the age of a name, so do select a name that won't give you cause to start again in the future with a new name. Choose a name you can stay with.

20 Things You Didn't Know About... Cars

They were way more dangerous in the past, they're developing some impressive smart lighting, and they'll drive themselves in the future.

By Corey S. Powell
1970 1/2 AMC Gremlin
Wikipedia/American Motors brochure photo

1  In 1760 King George III housed around 30 horses in the Royal Mews stables in London. Today a typical compact car packs a 150-horsepower engine. So a suburban commuter has instant access to five times as much sheer muscle as the king who nearly crushed the American Revolution.
2  By the formal definition of horsepower (the power required to lift 33,000 pounds by one foot in one minute), a real horse musters only about 0.7 horsepower.
3  Not only has the horse been outgunned by the car, it faces the further indignity of not being able to keep up with itself.
 Contrary to legend, Ford’s Model T originally came in a variety of colors…and black was not one of them. The “any color so long as it is black” philosophy arrived in 1913, as Henry Ford sought to simplify production.
5  Volkswagen had the good sense to change the original, Hitler-sanctioned name for its small car, the Kraft durch Freude Wagen (“Strength Through Joy Car”). You know it as the Beetle.
6  The first documented auto fatality in the United States was H. H. Bliss of New York City, who was struck by an electric taxicab on September 13, 1899, while alighting from a trolley car.
 The motor vehicle fatality rate in the United States—the average number of deaths per passenger-mile of driving—has dropped by roughly 80 percent in the past half century.
8  Last year 32,310 Americans died in auto accidents. If the 1962 fatality rate still held, there would be an extra 150,000 deaths annually, equivalent to losing the population of Pittsburgh every two years.
 Credit a mix of improvements, including crash impact standards, air bags, better tires, antilock brakes, and stability control.
10  One of the biggest factors? Seat belts. 84 percent of people now buckle up, compared with 14 percent three decades ago.
11  Please don’t kick the tires. The contact patches—the areas of the tires that actually touch the road at any given moment—cover an area of just over 100 square inches for an average family sedan.
12  In other words, all of the accelerating, cornering, braking, and everything else that your four wheels do, happens on a piece of ground scarcely bigger than your own two feet.
13  Lighting is one of the next frontiers in safety. BMW is developing headlights that highlight nearby people to help focus the driver’s attention, and a Carnegie Mellon University researcher has developed lights that can track droplets and avoid illuminating them, rendering rainfall nearly invisible.
14  In 2004 Nevada hosted the first Darpa Grand Challenge for autonomous cars. None of the contenders finished the course, and one lunged menacingly at spectators. Now Google’s fleet of self-driving cars has completed 140,000 miles on the road with only two small accidents—one of them caused by human error.
15  Betting all-in on robots: This year Nevada became the first state to issue licenses for self-driving cars.
16  Many high-end vehicles are already partly autonomous, with brakes that activate if sensors indicate an impending crash, steering that prevents drifting, sonar systems that navigate into parking spaces, and cruise control that prevents following the next car too closely.
17  Self-driving cars could improve highway flow by regulating distances between cars and ease urban congestion by automating the search for parking (which causes up to three-quarters of city traffic).
18  Could they even eliminate dumb driver errors? “Crashless is the goal,” John Maddox of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently toldAutomotive News.
19  The AMC Gremlin, often cited as one of the ugliest cars ever made, pioneered the high-hood, sloping-side-window look ubiquitous among today’s SUVs. Which makes AMC’s Bob Nixon perhaps the world’s most unsung designer.
20  What is the most beautiful car? Good luck getting any two people to agree, but the 1946 Cisitalia 202 GT was the first to be exhibited alongside the Picassos at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. If it does not make your heart jump, check your pulse.

Big Idea: Bring Back the "Cold Fusion" Dream

A new theory may explain the notorious cold fusion experiment from two decades ago, reigniting hopes of a clean-energy breakthrough.

By Mark Andersone
Electrolysis cell schematic
In 1989 Stanley Pons andMartin Fleischmann made a sensational claim that would have changed the world—had it been true. They said they had achieved nuclear fusion at room temperature using a simple tabletop device, thus creating a revolutionary clean energy source they called “cold fusion.”
Unfortunately for the University of Utah chemists, multiple attempts to replicate their experiment over ensuing months failed. Cold fusion was considered debunked, and it has lived beyond the fringe of mainstream science ever since.
Yet quietly, more than 20 years later, two of the world’s largest mainstream scientific institutions—NASA and the European physics research center CERN—have revisited the controversial energy-generating experiment. A growing cadre of scientists now suspect that Pons and Fleischmann’s observations were the result not of fusion but of more plausible physical processes. Some are even cautiously optimistic that those processes could be exploited to generate abundant amounts of clean energy. “There’s enough evidence that says we need to look at this,” says Joseph Zawodny, a physicist at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia.
The man most responsible for the change of thinking is a technology and energy consultant with a background in physics named Lewis Larsen. In 1989 he was paying attention when Pons and Fleischmann described how a set of palladium rods, connected to an electric current and immersed in lithium-enriched water, churned out more energy in the form of heat than it received in electricity. He followed along as subsequent experiments achieved mixed results. Some seemed to produce a lot of heat, others little or none. Yet a nagging question persisted: If the contraptions really were putting out more energy than they took in, what could be responsible?
Pons and Fleischmann’s infamous explanation was that hydrogen nuclei were fusing inside the metal rods. Larsen, along with virtually every physicist on the planet, knew that was implausible: Fusion requires enormous temperatures and pressures, which is why it occurs only in stars and bombs. But the heat seemed real, at least in some cases. So in 1997, when hedge fund executives asked Larsen to explore wild-card ideas for energy production, he decided to investigate the cold fusion mystery using only established physics.
Cold, Yes, But Not FusionSifting through physics literature, Larsen considered other nuclear reactions that could subtly produce energy. One candidate was radioactive decay, which occurs when unstable atomic nuclei release energy in the form of radiation. Some elements found in nature, like radium, undergo this decay. Could something in the cold fusion apparatus be doing much the same? Larsen formulated a theory showing how that could happen, and in 2004 he recruited Northeastern University theoretical physicist Allan Widom to hone his ideas.
Their theory showed how a film of negatively charged electrons covering the palladium could combine with positively charged protons from the water’s hydrogen atoms to form neutrons. Those neutrons could then be gobbled up by nearby lithium nuclei, disturbing the delicate balance of protons and neutrons that keep the nuclei stable. The lithium nuclei would rapidly decay, first into beryllium and then into helium, and emit radiation. Finally, the film of electrons would absorb the radiation and reemit it as heat. Widom and Larsen called this chain of events a low-energy nuclear reaction, or LENR—a more accurate and palatable term than cold fusion. The European Physical Journal C published their theory in 2006.
The paper did not make a splash at first. By then, scores of wild-eyed papers had claimed to explain cold fusion. Yet Widom-Larsen theory had more going for it. For one, it had the authority of a respected theorist in Widom. It also had the ring of plausibility: It proposed a phenomenon permitted by the known laws of physics, no new science required. “Widom-Larsen theory is the best formulated explanation of what’s going on,” says Ephraim Fischbach, a Purdue University physicist who is not involved in LENR research.
In addition, Widom and Larsen theorized that the same neutron production process could happen in nature. Recently, scientists found one piece of supporting evidence for that. In March a study in Physical Review Letters described a large flux of neutrons during thunderstorms—perhaps, Larsen says, the result of LENRs in the atmosphere sparked by electricity from lightning.
As the Widom-Larsen theory gains traction, more physicists are emerging to put it to the test. In March, Yogendra Srivastava from the University of Perugia in Italy, who worked with Widom and Larsen on their theory, chaired a LENR-themed colloquium at CERN—the institution’s first official examination of “cold fusion” in more than two decades. Soon after, NASA released details on a $200,000-a-year research program on LENRs, led by Zawodny. “The theory made it past peer review in a real journal,” he says. “But I’m always skeptical. I only believe what I can prove.”
Game Changer or Dud?Zawodny has designed a stamp-size array of metal tiles to test the theory. According to Larsen’s paper, the properties of some of the tiles should make it easier for electrons and protons to merge and form neutrons. If Zawodny observes evidence of neutron production, then he plans to do a follow-up experiment to see if those neutrons are fueling radioactive decay. Even if he gets the expected results, though, it would take several years and many corroborating experiments before LENRs could be considered confirmed.
Larsen, who formed the company Lattice Energy in 2001 as he was formulating his theory, has his eyes on the big prize: converting nuclear-generated heat into electricity, the unfulfilled original promise of cold fusion. He hopes to raise $25 million over the next few years to build prototype LENR generators.
So far, Larsen still has only a theory and some circumstantial evidence. But if LENRs could be proved and tamed—a very big if—the effect could be transformative. Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at NASA Langley, wrote in an online article that LENRs could potentially satisfy the world’s energy needs at a quarter the cost of coal. Zawodny adds to that enthusiasm in an accompanying video. “If we were to have such a thing,” he says, “it would be the sort of technology that would fuel our future growth and expansion and have the ability to raise the standard of living of the entire world.”

A California Station Tests Out New Biodiesel

By Ashley P. Taylor 

spacing is important
Fancy putting a bit of the aquatic in your gas tank? Go to California. A new kind of biodiesel, containing 20-percent algae-based fuel, went on sale at gas stations in the San Francisco Bay area last week as part of a one-month pilot program. The fuel emits 10 percent fewer hydrocarbons, 30 percent fewer particulates, and 20 percent less carbon monoxide than other biodiesels according to its producer, Solazyme, reports Yale Environment 360. This is the first time that an algae-based fuel has made it into cars.
People have long been searching for plant-based alternatives to fossil fuels, which would help offset their own emissions by absorbing CO2 as they grow. Algae are of particular interest because they yield more fuel per unit of land than any other biofuel. Since they grow in water, they don’t compete for land that could otherwise be used for growing food, the way ethanol, another biofuel, does.
But Solazyme’s fuel-production method doesn’t exploit these advantages; they neither eat CO2 nor occupy pond real estate.  Solazyme originally tried growing their algae in ponds but it was not cost-effective. Instead, the company now grows the algae indoors, sheltered from the sun, and feeds them sugars, which they digest through fermentation and convert to fuel, a method that is more economical, Solazyme CEO Jonathan Wolfson told Marc Gunther at Yale Environment 360.
As Solazyme’s unsuccessful effort to make pond-grown fuel illustrates, cost is the major disadvantage of algae-based fuel. For example, the US government sponsored the Aquatic Species Project (1978-1996) to produce energy, including biofuels, from algae, but the project shut down because it was not eonomically viable.
Better luck this time? The Bay-area pilot program in the Bay area will last one month, a representative of Propel Fuels, the company distributing the biodiesel, told the Chronicle, and then they will decide whether and how to expand it.

Brightness and temperature of stars

                            La nébuleuse de l’hélice

Apparent brightness and absolute

Imagine you lost at night in the desert. A bright spot suddenly appeared in the distance. Is it a flashlight to 100 meters or 10 kilometers powerful projector? At night, no sound, it is impossible to determine the distance from a point light. The problem is the same for both celestial bodies. A faint star near the Earth but can exceed a star shine bright but distant.

We must therefore distinguish between two concepts: the apparent brightness measuring the brightness of a star measured from the Earth and the absolute luminosity which measures the actual amount of light emitted by the star. The apparent brightness depends on the distance of the star and does not provide direct information on the nature of it. The absolute luminosity depends only on the object itself and can therefore inform us about the nature of the body and is considered it to look for to determine.
The absolute brightness of stars
This is where the measurements of distance stars . Physicists have long known that the intensity of radiation follows a well defined: it decreases as the inverse square of the distance traveled by light. With this law, it is easy to establish the relationship between absolute luminosity, distance and apparent brightness of a star. In addition, if two parameters can be measured, the third can be calculated easily. So, if we can determine the distance to a star, simply measure its apparent brightness and apply a mathematical relationship to reach its absolute luminosity.
Measures of this type began as soon as the data on distances were available. They put in evidence an enormous range in absolute luminosities possible. Some stars do not emit one ten-thousandth the brightness of the Sun . Others emit a million times more energy than our star. Range of luminosities proved enormous, with a factor of ten billion between the minimum and maximum absolute luminosities.
The temperature of stars
It is possible to easily determine the temperature of a star with the spectral analysis . Just find the wavelength at which the light intensity of the star is up and enforce the law that connects the wavelength temperature.Note that the measured temperature is that which prevails at the surface of the star. The temperature inside is not directly measurable, it is possible to estimate that using theoretical models.
Spectroscopic observations have shown that the coldest stars are red and have a temperature of about 3000 degrees. The hottest stars are blue and reaches 50,000 degrees. The ratio between maximum and minimum temperatures is therefore only slightly greater than 10.
Spectral types
The status of various gases on the surface of a star is strongly dependent on the temperature therein. And the spectra of two stars of different temperatures have characteristics that distinguish them easily. This property has led astronomers of the nineteenth century to classify stars into different categories, depending on the aspect of their spectrum .
These groups, called spectral types are designated by the following letters: O, B, A, F, G, K and M types O and B correspond to surface temperatures above 10,000 degrees and their spectra are dominated by lines for helium. Type A, a little less than 10,000 degrees, has the hydrogen lines. Types F, G and K, with temperatures between 3500 and 7500 degrees, exhibit calcium lines. Finally, M-type stars, less than 3500 degrees, provide a spectrum dominated by webs, that is to say very wide lines due to some molecules, in particular titanium oxide.
Spectral types
An example of a spectrum for each primary spectral type, since the blue stars to the stars of type O red type M. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The next step in understanding the nature of the star is then to analyze all this new information, in particular to establish a possible relationship between absolute luminosity and surface temperature, the raison d'être of the Hertzsprung-Russell .

How to Deal With Malware

By George Cherere

                                                                  Malware: Threats and Risks
Prevention has always been said to be better than a cure and this is most definitely true with issues concerning malware and other cyber threats. Malware is often in reference to any software which has been installed on the computer remotely, knowingly and unknowingly. The intention of these pieces of software is to gather information and to also scam people off their hard earned money. 
Malware was once a very big problem for Windows PCs and still is with now the problems also happening to the Apple Macs. Malware threats have been on the rise on an unprecedented scale and the reasons behind it are many. The most common malware are the Trojans, adware, backdoor, spyware, botnets, rootkits, Zombie, key loggers and worms among other forms of the malware.
The common methods through which the different types of malware are installed on a personal computer unknowingly are through disguise as other software especially so for the software which is provided as freeware. Often the download manager and file sharing applications will come with the malware. Other methods are through HTML attachments, the active x control and on websites which demand installation of software. 
Once the software is installed, the damage done is either big or minimal dependent on what it has been coded to do. Some malware has no option for uninstall while others will effect changes to the computer which will demand the re-imaging of the computer which dire consequences like losing important data.
Knowing the symptoms of infection with malware is important to informing the decision to disinfect the computer or which will necessitate further checks for the rogue software. The most common signs will be the computer taking very long to start and the system performing very poorly, the browser performing in a weird manner either the home page changes to a different site without any changes whenever you try, web pages adding themselves to your list of favorites, the browser stopping and closing without warning, search results getting displayed on a totally different site, additional toolbars on the browser, advertisements opening up on the browser are just a number of the signs of malware attack.
Removing malware from a computer is a demanding process and one which has dire risks associated with these efforts. The ideal situation is the protection of a computer from malware and this will not only call for the installation of antivirus software but the adoption of other strident measures in guarding against malware attacks. The preventive measures which will act as a guarantee in guarding against the attacks. The antivirus software should be updated regularly and protection is always turned on. 
The computer should always have a firewall and patches are done. Management of risk will work well to ensure that risky applications are done away with and that only safe applications are installed or used. Another preventive measure is that data is protected and managed well to prevent losses. 
There are many checks and verifications in trying to prevent attacks from malware. Just like the very many malware threats lurking out there, there are a dozen of way to keep secure 99% of the malware attacks will be kept off by the practicing safety, risk management and privacy, defensive browsing and sensible use of the internet. All these are different needs which can be done at a time or at different times.
But even with these many measures, it should be remembered that even with deep security, security lapses cannot be afforded and this should be in recognition that even the best security method is not 100% failure-proof. Extra steps and a keen attention to security works to keep you a step ahead of hackers and any associated danger. It is said that any positive security step or method counts for value now and in the future. This is especially so for businesses. No level of security is intact when there is no existing plan to deal with the situation if it unfortunately arises and this is the situation of a security failure. 
It goes without saying that the occurrence of an infection means that the security measures put in place have failed. Having lost this security tussle does not imply that an individual should give up but it implies that the process starts all over again this time employing new measures and tactics. This is where the plan comes in handy to limit the damage and to keep going.
There are companies which are committed to preventing the spread of computer viruses and threats, like KaspAV, a division of Guardian Network Solutions. KaspAV specializes in providing the ultimate anti-phishing solutions in order to prevent harmful types of viruses from lodging into your system and to facilitate safe web browsing