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Updated: 31 min 10 sec ago

Cool Tool: The Nuclear Fuel Cycle Cost Calculator

1 hour 47 min ago
Lasrick writes: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has launched a very cool new tool that will excite anyone interested in understanding the per kilowatt cost of nuclear energy. Developed over the last two years in a partnership between the Bulletin and the University of Chicago, the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Cost Calculator estimates the cost of electricity produced by three configurations of the nuclear fuel cycle: 1. The once-through fuel cycle used in most US nuclear power plants, in which uranium fuel is used once and then stored for later disposal. 2. A limited-recycle mode in which a mix of uranium and plutonium (that is, mixed oxide, or MOX) is used to fuel a light water reactor. 3. A full-recycle system, which uses a fast neutron spectrum reactor that can be configured to 'breed' plutonium that can subsequently be used as either nuclear fuel or weapons material. This online tool lets users test how sensitive the price of electricity is to a full range of components—more than 60 parameters that can be adjusted for the three configurations of the nuclear fuel cycle considered. The results provide nuanced cost assessments for the reprocessing of nuclear fuel and can serve as the basis for discussions among government officials, industry leaders, and public interest groups.

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Nokia Shifts To Selling Back-End Systems To Mobile Networks

4 hours 13 min ago
jfruh writes: With Nokia's handset business now sold off to Microsoft, you might be wondering what the remainder of the company does, exactly. The company is trying to use its expertise at other end of its old business, offering data centers and virtualized infrastructure to wireless networking companies to make their businesses more efficient. Competitors include Ericsson, another mobile phone also-ran.

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Scientists Discover Sawfish Escape Extinction Through "Virgin Births"

5 hours 13 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: The first known virgin births in smalltooth sawfish have been documented in the wild. Researchers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission used DNA to show that three percent of a Florida sawfish population was created by female-only reproduction. Dr Warren Booth, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Tulsa, who previously discovered an instance of parthenogenesis in snakes, said: "This is basically a very extreme form of inbreeding. Most people think of inbreeding as bad, but it could be helpful in purging deleterious mutations from a population." The findings were published in the journal Current Biology.

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Indicted Ex-FIFA Executive Cites Onion Article In Rant Slamming US

6 hours 45 min ago
schwit1 writes with news that former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner has evidently not heard of The Onion. In a video on his Facebook page, Warner holds up a printout of an Onion story titled “FIFA Frantically Announces 2015 Summer World Cup In United States” and says: “Then I look to see that Fifa has frantically announced, 2015, this year [...] the World Cup, beginning May 27. If FIFA is so bad, why is it that the USA wants to keep the Fifa World Cup?” The next World Cup is not due to be held until 2018 and there have been no games in the U.S.. Warner is facing extradition to the U.S. on corruption charges. Time further reports: Even Sunday wasn't easy, when Warner needed two attempts to get his message across by telling followers that the latest accusations against him stem largely from the U.S. being upset that it did not win the rights to host the 2022 World Cup — which went to Qatar. In an eight-minute Facebook video, which was quickly deleted after numerous news reports picked up on the gaffe, Warner held up a printout of a fictitious story from The Onion bearing the headline: "FIFA Frantically Announces 2015 Summer World Cup In United States." The fake story was published on Wednesday, hours after Warner was indicted in the U.S. and arrested and briefly jailed in Trinidad. Warner asked why the story was "two days before the FIFA election" when Sepp Blatter was re-elected as president.

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How Biostamps Can Replace Clunky Biomedical Sensors

6/1/2015 10:03pm
An anonymous reader writes: The biostamp--a type of temporary tattoo that feels like skin, yet is laden with electronics--is just about ready for prime time. The technology has entered clinical trials for medical use, and consumer versions, costing just tens of cents, are coming soon. A visit to the University of Illinois researchers developing the technology reveals details about how biostamps work and how they are manufactured. A year from now, don't be surprised if you're wearing one--or two, or three--yourself.

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Foxconn Offers Electric Car Rental Service In China

6/1/2015 8:32pm
Taco Cowboy writes: Foxconn plans to expand its electric-car rental business in ten more cities in China. Since starting the business in Beijing last year, they have launched similar services in Hangzhou and Changzhou. Another business in Guiyang will open with 100 electric vehicles in July. The service is activated through an app, website, or WeChat platform, and customers will be able to use the car with a QR code. The vehicles come equipped with internet connectivity and warns drivers of low battery and shows the nearest charging stations. The company is also working on a platform for the operation of new energy vehicles saying: "Foxconn's telematics devices have also entered BMW's supply chain, and the company is also shipping 17-inch in-car displays to Tesla. Additionally, Foxconn has also teamed up with China-based Chery to supply the automaker with digital dashboards, telematics devices, wireless charging boards and vehicle safety systems."

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Tiny Fantastic Voyage Inspired Robots Are Starting To Get Reasonably Mature

6/1/2015 7:48pm
szotz writes: No shrinking machine in an underground military lab (as far as we know). And no Raquel Welch. Still there is a growing microrobotics movement underway, looking at ways that tiny, untethered robots might be used to perform medical interventions in the human body. There have been piecemeal reports for years now of various designs, such as microscallops that can swim through the eye and bots that can be pushed around by bacteria flagella. This article in IEEE Spectrum gives a round-up of recent progress and looks at some of the difficulties that arise when you try to make things tiny and still have them retain a modicum (or give them more than a modicum) of function.

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Fuel Free Spacecrafts Using Graphene

6/1/2015 7:04pm
William Robinson writes: While using a laser to cut a sponge made of crumpled sheets of Graphene oxide, Researchers accidentally discovered that it can turn light into motion. As the laser cut into the material, it mysteriously propelled forward. Baffled, researchers investigated further. The Graphene material was put in a vacuum and again shot with a laser. Incredibly, the laser still pushed the sponge forward, and by as much as 40 centimeters. Researchers even got the Graphene to move by focusing ordinary sunlight on it with a lens.Though scientists are not sure why this happens, they are excited with new possibilities such as light propelled spacecraft that does not need fuel.

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Netflix Is Experimenting With Advertising

6/1/2015 6:18pm
derekmead writes: Netflix is experimenting with pre-roll and post-roll advertisements for some of its users. For now, it's just pitching it's own original programming. However, many are concerned that they plan to serve third-party ads, but the company says they have no plans to do so. They told Mashable in a statement: "We are not planning to test or implement third-party advertising on the Netflix service. For some time, we've teased Netflix originals with short trailers after a member finishes watching a show. Some members in a limited test now are seeing teases before a show begins. We test hundreds of potential improvements to the service every year. Many never extend beyond that."

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Cybersecurity and the Tylenol Murders

6/1/2015 5:34pm
HughPickens.com writes: Cindy Cohn writes at EFF that when a criminal started lacing Tylenol capsules with cyanide in 1982, Johnson & Johnson quickly sprang into action to ensure consumer safety. It increased its internal production controls, recalled the capsules, offered an exchange for tablets, and within two months started using triple-seal tamper-resistant packaging. Congress ultimately passed an anti-tampering law but the focus of the response from both the private and the public sector was on ensuring that consumers remained safe and secure, rather than on catching the perpetrator. Indeed, the person who did the tampering was never caught. According to Cohn the story of the Tylenol murders comes to mind as Congress considers the latest cybersecurity and data breach bills. To folks who understand computer security and networks, it's plain that the key problem are our vulnerable infrastructure and weak computer security, much like the vulnerabilities in Johnson & Johnson's supply chain in the 1980s. As then, the failure to secure our networks, the services we rely upon, and our individual computers makes it easy for bad actors to step in and "poison" our information. The way forward is clear: We need better incentives for companies who store our data to keep it secure. "Yet none of the proposals now in Congress are aimed at actually increasing the safety of our data. Instead, the focus is on "information sharing," a euphemism for more surveillance of users and networks," writes Cohn. "These bills are not only wrongheaded, they seem to be a cynical ploy to use the very real problems of cybersecurity to advance a surveillance agenda, rather than to actually take steps to make people safer." Congress could step in and encourage real security for users—by creating incentives for greater security, a greater downside for companies that fail to do so and by rewarding those companies who make the effort to develop stronger security. "It's as if the answer for Americans after the Tylenol incident was not to put on tamper-evident seals, or increase the security of the supply chain, but only to require Tylenol to "share" its customer lists with the government and with the folks over at Bayer aspirin," concludes Cohn. "We wouldn't have stood for such a wrongheaded response in 1982, and we shouldn't do so now."

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Ransomware Creator Apologizes For "Sleeper" Attack, Releases Decryption Keys

6/1/2015 4:49pm
colinneagle writes: Last week, a new strain of ransomware called Locker was activated after having been sitting silently on infected PCs. Security firm KnowBe4 called Locker a "sleeper" campaign that, when the malware's creator "woke it up," encrypted the infected devices' files and charged roughly $24 in exchange for the decryption keys. This week, an internet user claiming to be the creator of Locker publicly apologized for the campaign and appears to have released the decryption keys for all the devices that fell victim to it, KnowBe4 reported in an alert issued today. Locker's creator released this message in a PasteBin post, along with a link to a file hosted on Mega.co containing the decryption keys. The malware creator also said that an automatic decryption process for all devices that were affected by Locker will begin June 2nd. However, the post did not mention anything about providing a refund to victims who paid the 0.1 bitcoin (equal to $22.88 at the time this was posted and about $24 last week) required for the decryption keys since last week. KnowBe4 CEO Stu Sjouwerman says the files released do not appear to be malicious after brief analysis, and that "it does contain a large quantity of RSA keys and Bitcoin addresses." But he warned those interested to only open these files "at your own risk until further analyses are performed." Sjouwerman speculated that the malware creator may have been spooked by attention from law enforcement or Eastern European organized crime syndicates that are behind most ransomware campaigns.

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LEGO Launches a Minecraft Competitor On Steam

6/1/2015 4:05pm
An anonymous reader writes: There's been plenty of rumors that LEGO was developing a competitor to Minecraft, and today they released it on Steam. "Lego Worlds enables you to populate your worlds with many weird and wonderful characters, creatures, models, and driveable vehicles, and then play out your own unique adventures," the game's Steam page explains. Unlike "Minecraft," LEGO's new game won't have multiplayer gameplay yet.

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MIT Physicists Build World's First Fermion Microscope

6/1/2015 3:15pm
Zothecula writes: Researchers working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) claim to have created a method to better observe fermions – the sub-atomic building blocks of matter – by constructing a microscope capable of viewing them in groups of a thousand at a time. A laser technique is used to herd the fermions into a viewing area and then freeze them in place so all of the captured particles can be imaged simultaneously.

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Ask Slashdot: What Do You Wish You'd Known Starting Your First "Real" Job?

6/1/2015 2:31pm
itwbennett writes: ITworld's Josh Fruhlinger asked seasoned (and some not-so-seasoned) tech professionals what they wished they knew back when they were newly minted graduates entering the workforce. Perhaps not surprisingly, some of the best advice has more to do with soft skills than with tech skills. To wit: 'When [managers] say they are suggesting you do something, it's not really a suggestion — it is an order disguised as a suggestion. Plain-speaking is a lost art at big companies and corporate double talk is the name of the game.' What's your best piece of advice for the newest among you?

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The Artificial Pancreas For Diabetics Is Nearly Here

6/1/2015 1:48pm
the_newsbeagle writes: It's the tech that type 1 diabetics have long been waiting for: An implanted "closed-loop" system that monitors a person's blood-sugar level and adjusts injections from an insulin pump. Such a system would liberate diabetics from constant self-monitoring and give parents of diabetic children peace of mind. Thanks to improvements in glucose sensors and control algorithms, the first artificial pancreas systems are now in clinical trials.

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Supreme Court Overturns Conviction For Man Who Posted 'Threatening' Messages On Facebook

6/1/2015 1:05pm
schwit1 sends news that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 7-2 in favor of Anthony Elonis, a man who wrote a series of angry messages on Facebook. The posts included quotes from rap lyrics containing "violent imagery," and were directed at Elonis's wife, his co-workers, law enforcement, and a kindergarten class. Elonis was charged and convicted under a federal statute that outlaws "any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another." The jury in his case was told the standard for judging such a threat was whether a "reasonable person" would interpret it as such. According to the Court's ruling (PDF), that standard was not enough to convict him. They call it "a standard feature of civil liability in tort law inconsistent with the conventional criminal conduct requirement of 'awareness of some wrongdoing.'" The case is notable for being the first Supreme Court ruling about free speech on social media, but the ruling itself was quite narrow.

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1-Pixel Pac-Man

6/1/2015 12:23pm
szczys writes: Retro games just aren't the same since the display technology resolution has exploded. I went the opposite direction and chose a display with less resolution than the original. This reinvention of Pac-Man uses a 32x32 RGB LED module which are made for LED billboards. This makes the player just one pixel. Add in an Atari joystick and we have a winner.This is a great programming challenge. If you've never looked at Pac-Man AI before, it's fascinating and worth your time!

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Malware Attribution: Should We Identify the Crooks Who Deploy It?

6/1/2015 11:41am
Brian Krebs asks: What makes one novel strain of malicious software more dangerous or noteworthy than another? Is it the sheer capability and feature set of the new malware, or are these qualities meaningless without also considering the skills, intentions and ingenuity of the person wielding it? Most experts probably would say it's important to consider attribution insofar as it is knowable, but it's remarkable how seldom companies that regularly publish reports on the latest criminal innovations go the extra mile to add context about the crooks apparently involved in deploying those tools.

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Carnegie Mellon Struggles After Uber Poaches Top Robotics Researchers

6/1/2015 10:58am
ideonexus sends a report from the Wall Street Journal (paywalled) saying Uber has poached 40 researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in an attempt to jump-start development of autonomous vehicle technology. In February, Uber and CMU's National Robotics Engineering Center announced a partnership to work together on the technology. But according to the WSJ, Uber quickly offered massive bonuses and salary increases to simply bring many of the researchers in-house. The NREC's new director made a presentation a few weeks ago about strategies for rebuilding and recovering. The presentation said NREC’s funding from contracts to develop technology with the U.S. Department of Defense and other organizations was expected to sink as low as $17 million from the $30 million originally projected for this year. Some contracts scientists were working on disappeared when the researchers left, accounting for the drop in funding. And it appeared the center would have to raise salaries significantly to prevent more exits. A few scientists left NREC for other companies in Pittsburgh because of concerns the center might be shut down, said two people familiar with the departures.

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Intel To Buy Altera For $16.7 Billion

6/1/2015 10:14am
An anonymous reader writes: Today Intel purchased chipmaker Altera for $16.7 billion. This follows another huge purchase in the semiconductor industry last week, when Avago snapped up Broadcom for $37 billion. This has been a record year for consolidation within the industry, as companies struggle to deal with slowing growth and stagnating stock prices. Altera had already rejected an offer from Intel, but shareholders pressured them to reconsider. "Acquiring Altera may help Intel defend and extend its most profitable business: supplying server chips used in data centers. While sales of semiconductors for PCs are declining as more consumers rely on tablets and smartphones to get online, the data centers needed to churn out information and services for those mobile devices are driving orders for higher-end Intel processors and shoring up profitability."

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