Is Google Turning Into Big Brother?

The Debut of Chrome, Google’s New Browser, May Have Been Quiet for a Reason

While we’re transfixed by the presidential election, in the world of high tech another duel between two well-funded, take-no-quarter candidates has just emerged & and in the long run the impact on our daily lives may be nearly as great — and perhaps even sinister.

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Massive floating generators, or ‘eco-rigs’, to provide power and food to Japan

Battered by soaring energy costs and aghast at dwindling fish stocks, Japanese scientists think they have found the answer: filling the seas with giant “eco-rigs” as powerful as nuclear power stations.

The project, which could result in village-sized platforms peppering the Japanese coastline within a decade, reflects a growing panic in the country over how it will meet its future resource needs.

The floating eco-rig generators which measure 1.2 miles by 0.5 miles (2km by 800m) are intended to harness the energy of the Sun and wind. They are each expected to produce about 300 megawatt hours of power.

Read moreMassive floating generators, or ‘eco-rigs’, to provide power and food to Japan

Environment: Solar plant yields water and crops from the desert

· Green energy glasshouses may transform arid areas
· Fresh water will end need to dig wells, say architects


The Sahara forest project will use seawater and solar power to grow food in greenhouses across the desert. Photograph: Exploration Architecture

Vast greenhouses that use sea water for crop cultivation could be combined with solar power plants to provide food, fresh water and clean energy in deserts, under an ambitious proposal from a team of architects and engineers.

The Sahara Forest Project, which is already running demonstration plants in Tenerife, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, envisages huge greenhouses with concentrated solar power (CSP), a technology that uses mirrors to focus the sun’s rays, creating steam to drive turbines to generate electricity.

The installations would turn deserts into lush patches of vegetation, according to its designers, and do away with the need to dig wells for fresh water, an activity that has depleted aquifers across the world.

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Google to launch browser to compete with Microsoft

Chrome intensifies the battle between the tech giants and continues Web software’s drive to supersede the operating system.

SAN FRANCISCO — Bidding to dominate not only what people do on the Web but how they get from site to site, Google Inc. plans to release a browser today to compete with the likes of Internet Explorer and Firefox.

It’s yet another salvo in the company’s intensifying battle with Microsoft Corp., which last week released a beta, or test, version of Internet Explorer 8 that makes it easier to block ads from Google and others.

“This is the first truly serious threat that Microsoft has faced from a well-funded platform,” said technology analyst Rob Enderle, president of the Enderle Group.

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Legal bid to stop CERN atom smasher from ‘destroying the world’

The world’s biggest and most expensive scientific experiment has been hit by a last minute legal challenge, amid claims that the research could bring about the end of the world.


Opponents fear the machine may create a mini-black hole that could tear the earth apart Photo: PA

Critics of the Large Hadron Collider – a £4.4 billion machine due to be switched on in ten days time – have lodged a lawsuit at the European Court for Human Rights against the 20 countries, including the UK, that fund the project.

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The man with the answer to life, the universe and (nearly) everything

British scientist Peter Higgs dreamt up a theory explaining the tiny particles that make up everything, including you, decades ago. At last he’s set to be proved right.

Peter Higgs remembers the day everything suddenly began to make sense. “It was July 16, 1964, when some new research papers arrived. I looked at one, realised what it meant and then jumped up and shouted out loud: ‘Oh shit’.”

For years his colleagues had been working on theories about the building blocks of the universe – and Higgs had disagreed with them all. The trouble was, he’d had no better suggestions.

Now he had an idea and spent the weekend mulling it over. “When I came back to work on Monday, I sat down and wrote a new paper as fast as I could,” he recalled in an interview last week.

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Star Trek warp drive is a possibility, say scientists

Two physicists have boldly gone where no reputable scientists should go and devised a new scheme to travel faster than the speed of light.

  • Star Trek technology: The reality
  • A brief history of warp drives
  • Warp Drive – A New Approach [the paper]
  • The advance could mean that Star Trek fantasies of interstellar civilisations and voyages powered by warp drive are now no longer the exclusive domain of science fiction writers.


    The US Starship Enterprise from the original Star Trek series

    In the long running television series created by Gene Roddenberry, the warp drive was invented by Zefram Cochrane, who began his epic project in 2053 in Bozeman, Montana.

    Now Dr Gerald Cleaver, associate professor of physics at Baylor, and Richard Obousy have come up with a new twist on an existing idea to produce a warp drive that they believe can travel faster than the speed of light, without breaking the laws of physics.

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    Solar Cell Sets World Efficiency Record

    Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have set a world record in solar cell efficiency with a photovoltaic device that converts 40.8 percent of the light that hits it into electricity. This is the highest confirmed efficiency of any photovoltaic device to date.

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    Uncle Sam Wants Your Brain

    Drugs that make soldiers want to fight. Robots linked directly to their controllers’ brains. Lie-detecting scans administered to terrorist suspects as they cross U.S. borders.

    These are just a few of the military uses imagined for cognitive science — and if it’s not yet certain whether the technologies will work, the military is certainly taking them very seriously.

    “It’s way too early to know which — if any — of these technologies is going to be practical,” said Jonathan Moreno, a Center for American Progress bioethicist and author of Mind Wars: Brain Research and National Defense. “But it’s important for us to get ahead of the curve. Soldiers are always on the cutting edge of new technologies.”

    Moreno is part of a National Research Council committee convened by the Department of Defense to evaluate the military potential of brain science. Their report, “Emerging Cognitive Neuroscience and Related Technologies,” was released today. It charts a range of cognitive technologies that are potentially powerful — and, perhaps, powerfully troubling.

    Here are the report’s main areas of focus:

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    A ‘Frankenrobot’ with a biological brain

    PARIS (AFP) – Meet Gordon, probably the world’s first robot controlled exclusively by living brain tissue.

    Stitched together from cultured rat neurons, Gordon’s primitive grey matter was designed at the University of Reading by scientists who unveiled the neuron-powered machine on Wednesday.

    Related article: ‘Brain’ in a dish flies flight simulator

    Their groundbreaking experiments explore the vanishing boundary between natural and artificial intelligence, and could shed light on the fundamental building blocks of memory and learning, one of the lead researchers told AFP.

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