Jul 23, 2014

Government turns to robots for security interviews

posted by Larra Morris

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When you apply for security clearance, you first have to fill out a form that requires you to disclose all past drug use, crimes and mental health issues. Those same subjects are then revisited with an actual human, but the NCCA thinks it might be more effective to jump straight to an interview with a computer. In a study Army trainees were put through a mock interview with a racially ambiguous avatar. Turns out the pretend applicants were much more likely to admit to mental health problems or alcohol abuse when speaking to the computer than they were when filling out a form. Not only that, but at the end of the interview they simply volunteered additional info after being asked if their was anything else they'd like to talk about.
via Engadget

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Jul 23, 2014

Build your own singing Tesla coil

posted by Laura Domela

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When it comes to science toys, few have the cachet of cool of the singing Tesla coil: a tower of copper wiring topped by a hollow metal toroid that fires out bolts of electricity in time to music. Building one, however, is a little on the complicated side for anyone who doesn't have the tools and the know-how; and buying one pre-made can get expensive.

Enter tinyTesla, currently seeking Kickstarter backing, a small, affordable singing Tesla coil that comes with all parts and build instructions necessary included in one handy kit, created by a team of MIT students who created oneTesla, a company to provide hands-on engineering education in the form of kits.
via cnet

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Tags : toys, science, physics,    0 comments  
Jul 23, 2014

This pacemaker is made by injecting a virus right into a pig's heart

posted by Larra Morris

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Pacemakers are—even at their tiniest—intrusive bits of metal wired into the heart. But now scientists have come up with something completely different: a "biological pacemaker" in a pig made by reprogramming the heart's own cells with a modified virus carrying a specific gene.
via Gizmodo

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Image: Science Translational Medicine

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Jul 23, 2014

Researchers fully 'delete' HIV from human cells for the first time

posted by Larra Morris

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So far, HIV has eluded a cure because it installs its genome into human DNA so insidiously that it's impossible for our immune system to clear it out. While current treatments are effective, a lifetime of toxic drugs are required to prevent its recurrence. But researchers from Temple University may have figured out a way to permanently excise it using a highly-engineered HIV "editor." Here's how it works: the team analyzed a part of our immune system that fights infection and built a "guide RNA" strand consisting of 20 nucleotides (RNA building blocks). Those strands were then injected into cells typically infected with HIV, like T-cells. There, they targeted the end parts of the virus's gene and snipped out all 9,709 nucleotides that made up its genome. Since the guide RNA strand contained no human DNA sequences, it left the host cell intact -- but free from HIV.
via Engadget

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Jul 23, 2014

Multifunctional hybrid robot shovels snow and mows your lawn

posted by Larra Morris

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Modern technology has given us many ways of delegating menial tasks to automatic equipment and robots, freeing up more time. Such devices can vacuum our floors, wash our windows, clean out the gutters and more. The latest automated housework companion is multifunctional, helping you complete two tasks that few relish: shoveling snow and mowing the lawn.
via Gizmag

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Jul 22, 2014

This may be the greatest invention in the history of water balloons

posted by Laura Domela

100 balloons. 1 hose. Game over.

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If you've ever had the pleasure of participating in a water balloon fight, you will concur that the most frustrating part of battle is reloading. You think you've got an uninflated balloon securely attached to the end of a garden hose, and then as soon as you turn on the water, *snap*, the balloon comes flying off. Or maybe you don't even get that far — the balloon breaks as you're stretching it on. Or you get it all filled up, and then you can't tie it and it drops and breaks on the ground. Now some ambitious inventor has come up with a solution to all those problems: a device that lets you easily fill up 100 water balloons at once.
via The Verge

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Jul 22, 2014

NSA's Crypto-Kids - it's never too early to start recruitment

posted by Laura Domela

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The National Security Agency (NSA) has lots of computer power but what it needs the most is brain power. It's not too early to plan ahead. 

Activity book for kids published by the NSA, via Silicon Valley Watcher

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Tags : cryptography, security,    0 comments  
Jul 22, 2014

Earth just experienced hottest June ever recorded

posted by Larra Morris

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Writes Brian Kahn at Climate Central: "The world just experienced its hottest June on record. The heat was driven in large by part by the hottest ocean temperatures since recordkeeping began more than 130 years ago. That makes this the third-warmest start to the year."
via Boing Boing

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Jul 22, 2014

Scientists use world's largest laser to recreate Jupiter's core

posted by Larra Morris

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It is not pleasant inside the core of Jupiter—or any other planet for that matter. However, gaining a better understanding of what's going on in there is key for understanding how these planets form. That's why a team of scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory recently used diamonds and lasers to recreate those very conditions.

Put simply, the researchers blasted pieces of diamond with 176 different lasers, including the world's largest laser, to compress it as much as possible. They actually managed to squeeze some samples to 50 million times Earth's atmospheric pressure. Of course, the diamond samples were vaporized in less than 10 billionths of a second, but you'd expect as much, when you're dealing with the world's largest laser.
via Gizmodo

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Jul 22, 2014

Spectacular food packaging decays with its contents

posted by Larra Morris

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Swedish design studio Tomorrow Machine believes that the relationship between food and packaging should be symbiotic, with containers surviving only as long as their contents. In a vividly colored series entitled "This Too Shall Pass," the company showcases three items, each of which looks more like an ornament than a household product.

The first is a gelatinous packet molded from agar-agar and water that is intended for use with liquids like cream, smoothies, and fresh juice. The second is a triangular-shaped package designed to house dry goods such as rice or grain. Made from beeswax, it is adorned with a subtle gradient and must be peeled like a fruit in order to access whatever is inside. The third is arguably the most spectacular, an iridescent jade snowglobe built out of wax-coated, caramelized sugar. A crack is all it takes to release the water-soluble package's cargo.
via The Verge

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