Lasers to create mini sun in hunt for clean energy

However, the NIF experiment is not without controversy. The Californian facility’s primary purpose is to allow munitions to be tested without a radioactive fallout, which would contravene the nuclear test ban treaty.

Critics fear the US military is using the NIF complex to develop a new generation of advanced nuclear weapons, although a spokesman for the facility denied this.


Physicists hope to develop the first form of nuclear fusion technology by firing laser beams at a pellet of hydrogen

SCIENTISTS are to use the world’s most powerful laser system to replicate the fiery core of the sun in experiments that may ultimately offer humanity a clean source of energy.

After more than 50 years of experimentation, physicists are hoping to develop the first form of nuclear fusion technology that produces more energy than it consumes.

Within the next fortnight, researchers at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) in California will fire 192 separate laser beams capable of generating 500 trillion watts – 1,000 times the power of the US national grid – for a fraction of a second.

The energy pulse will be concentrated on a tiny pellet of hydrogen in an attempt to mimic the reactions that take place inside the sun.

The scientists hope to refine the process over the next year until they trigger a nuclear reaction capable of producing large amounts of energy.

Read moreLasers to create mini sun in hunt for clean energy

Scientists develop battery that can be charged in just 10 seconds

Thing of the past? The new mobile phone batteries will be recharged in just 10 seconds

A revolutionary mobile phone battery that recharges in 10 seconds instead of several hours has been created by scientists.

The new device charges 100 times as fast as a conventional battery and could also be used in phones, laptops, iPods and digital cameras within just two or three years, they say.

The same technology could even allow an electric car to be charged up in the same time that it takes to fill a conventional car with petrol – removing one of the biggest obstacles to green, clean motoring.

The quick-charge battery is the brainchild of engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The MIT team say their invention uses materials already available to battery manufacturers and would be simple to mass produce.


The new battery could also work with rechargeable cars

The invention is based on conventional lithium ion rechargeable batteries found in most cameras, phones and portable computers.

Read moreScientists develop battery that can be charged in just 10 seconds

Wireless Tasers extend the long arm of the law

Take a close look at the logo of TASER International and …
(Wikipedia: Waffen-SS and SS)


TASER stun guns are going wireless, doubling their range.

The Taser XREP is an electrically charged dart that can be fired from up to 20 metres away with a 12-gauge shotgun. Upon impact, its barbed electrodes penetrate a victim’s skin, discharging a 20-second burst of electricity to “distract, disorient and entice the subject to grab the projectile”, says Taser. But grabbing the dart routes the shock through the hand, making it difficult to let go and spreading the pain further.

While the XREP delivers a lower voltage for a longer time, a spokeswoman for Taser says its effect is similar to existing versions.

Commercial production of the XREP is due to start later this month, with US police departments and the US military expected to be using the weapons by the end of 2009.

11 March 2009

Source: New Scientist

French fighter planes grounded by computer virus

French fighter planes were unable to take off after military computers were infected by a computer virus, an intelligence magazine claims.


French fighter jets were unable to take off after military computers were attacked by a virus Photo: AFP

The aircraft were unable to download their flight plans after databases were infected by a Microsoft virus they had already been warned about several months beforehand.

At one point French naval staff were also instructed not to even open their computers.

Microsoft had warned that the “Conficker” virus, transmitted through Windows, was attacking computer systems in October last year, but according to reports the French military ignored the warning and failed to install the necessary security measures.

The French newspaper Ouest France said the virus had hit the internal computer network at the French Navy.

Jérome Erulin, French navy spokesman told the paper: “It affected exchanges of information but no information was lost. It was a security problem we had already simulated. We cut the communication links that could have transmitted the virus and 99 per cent of the network is safe.”

However, the French navy admitted that during the time it took to eradicate the virus, it had to return to more traditional forms of communication: telephone, fax and post.

Read moreFrench fighter planes grounded by computer virus

Google Offers “Latitude” To Track People

New, Free Software Enables You To Keep Tabs On Others’ Whereabouts, And Vice Versa, Using Cell Phones, Says Natali Del Conte

(CBS) Google is releasing free software Wednesday that enables people to keep track of each other using their cell phones.

CNET got a sneak peek at it, and CNET-TV Senior Editor and Early Show contributor Natali Del Conte explained how it works on the show Tuesday.

She says “Latitude” uses GPS systems and what’s called cell tower triangulation to do the job. The software seeks the closest three cell towers and, with GPS, combines the data to show where someone is.

It is designed to work on any phone with Internet capabilities, except the iPhone.

“Latitude” is being marketed as a tool that could help parents keep tabs on their children’s locations, but it can be used for anyone to find anyone else, assuming permission is given.

“What Google Latitude does is allow you to share that location with friends and family members, and likewise be able to see friends and family members’ locations,” Steve Lee, product manager for Google Latitude, told CNET. “For example, a girlfriend could use it to see if her boyfriend has arrived at a restaurant and, if not, how far away he is.”

CNET points out that, “To protect privacy, Google specifically requires people to sign up for the service. People can share their precise location, the city they’re in, or nothing at all.”

“What we found in testing,” Lee added to CNET, “is that the most common scenario is a symmetrical arrangement, where both people are sharing with each other.”

For complete details from CNET on “Latitude,” click here.

But how accurate is “Latitude”?

Del Conte found a family willing to give it a try. The results? Mixed:

The family lives in an area with spotty cell phone reception, Del Conte points out. They found that, if they went to more urbanized areas, the accuracy of the program increased.

Feb. 4, 2009

Source: CBS News

Boeing: We zapped a UAV with a laser


There’s still a lot of blue sky in Boeing’s plans for directed-energy weapons like the Laser Avenger. (Credit: Boeing)

Updated 2:40 p.m. with details on how the laser damaged the UAV and on the Laser Avenger’s targeting system.

Boeing is seeing a glimmer of progress in its work toward fielding laser weapons.

The defense industry giant on Monday said tests of its Laser Avenger system in December marked “the first time a combat vehicle has used a laser to shoot down a UAV,” or unmanned aerial vehicle. In the testing, the Humvee-mounted Laser Avenger located and tracked three small UAVs in flight over the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico and knocked one of the drone aircraft out of the sky.

Boeing didn’t go into much detail about the shoot-down. In response to a query by CNET News, it did say this much about the strike by the the kilowatt-class laser: “A hole was burned in a critical flight control element of the UAV, rendering the aircraft unflyable.”

While decades of Hollywood imagery may conjure up a vision of a target disintegrating in a sparkle of light, the actual workings of the laser beam are probably more prosaic. For instance, the beam from Boeing’s much, much larger Airborne Laser, which is intended to disable long-range missiles in flight, uses heat to create a weak spot on the skin of the missile, causing it to rupture in flight. Boeing hopes to conduct the first aerial shoot-down test with the much-delayed 747-based Airborne Laser later this year.

Read moreBoeing: We zapped a UAV with a laser

Face scanners to be installed in schools

Schools could be fitted with futuristic face scanners which screen pupils’ faces with an invisible infra-red light as they attempt to enter the building to keep out strangers.

The system, which is being trialled in a UK school next week, can also be used to allow children to take out library books and buy their lunch.

It is among a host of high-tech security measures introduced in schools in a bid to keep pupils safe.

Some schools have brought in fingerprint and eye scanners, while others are planning to put radio transponder chips in pupils’ uniforms to keep tabs on them.

But there are fears the technology breaches children’s civil liberties.

One school installed an iris scanner in 2003 but removed it a year later after it failed to recognise some students and led to lengthy queues.

Read moreFace scanners to be installed in schools

Extinct animals could be brought back to life thanks to advances in DNA technology

Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park film may have been pure science fiction – but extinct creatures such as Neanderthals to Sabre-toothed tigers could soon be brought back to life thanks to advances in DNA technology.


A scene from Jurassic Park III – maybe not too far from the truth

The idea of resurrecting extinct animals moved a step closer to reality last year when scientists announced that they had decoded almost all of the genome of the woolly mammoth, from 60,000-year-old remains found frozen in Siberia.

Now New Scientist magazine has named the 10 other beasts most likely to rise again, including the Irish elk deer whose antlers measured 12 feet across, the dodo and Neanderthal man.

Animals that died out thousands of years ago could be recreated using genetic information retrieved from well-preserved specimens recovered from permafrost, dark caves or dry desserts.

Read moreExtinct animals could be brought back to life thanks to advances in DNA technology

Satellite device will allow parents to plot child’s location to within 10ft

A satellite tracking device that will allow parents to plot their child’s location to within 10ft will go on sale in the UK in March, its manufacturer said.


The GPS watch can be securely fastened to a child’s wrist and will trigger an alert if forcibly removed. Photo: PA

Concerned parents will be able to receive text or email updates of their child’s location.

Nu.M8, thought to be the world’s first GPS locator device specifically designed to be worn by children, is concealed within a digital watch.

It can be securely fastened to a child’s wrist and will trigger an alert if forcibly removed.

Parents who text “wru”, or click “where r you” on the secure website, will be able to see the child’s location on Google maps and the street address and postcode will also be displayed.

So-called “safe zones” can also be set up in which children can play safely and an alert will be sent to the parent’s mobile phone and computer if the child strays out of that area.

The watch, which will go on sale in March, is expected to cost £149.99, with a standard monthly subscription fee of £9.99.

Read moreSatellite device will allow parents to plot child’s location to within 10ft