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Japan

Volcanic Eruption In Japan Disrupts Flights 20

Posted by Soulskill
from the underground-affecting-the-skies dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A volcano in southern Japan erupted today, sending out chunks of magma and a kilometer-high plume of ash. Flights to and from the nearby city of Kumamoto were canceled, and a Japan Airlines spokesman said more could be disrupted if the eruption continues. "Mount Aso, whose huge caldera dominates the southwestern main island of Kyushu, rumbled into life on Tuesday. Meteorologists warned volcanic stones and ash could fall in a one-kilometer radius of the volcano. The eruption is Aso's first in 19 years and comes two months after Mount Ontake in central Nagano killed more than 60 hikers when it erupted without warning."
Supercomputing

Does Being First Still Matter In America? 246

Posted by timothy
from the by-jingo dept.
dcblogs writes At the supercomputing conference, SC14, this week, a U.S. Dept. of Energy offical said the government has set a goal of 2023 as its delivery date for an exascale system. It may be taking a risky path with that amount of lead time because of increasing international competition. There was a time when the U.S. didn't settle for second place. President John F. Kennedy delivered his famous "we choose to go to the moon" speech in 1962, and seven years later a man walked on the moon. The U.S. exascale goal is nine years away. China, Europe and Japan all have major exascale efforts, and the government has already dropped on supercomputing. The European forecast of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was so far ahead of U.S. models in predicting the storm's path that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was called before Congress to explain how it happened. It was told by a U.S. official that NOAA wasn't keeping up in computational capability. It's still not keeping up. Cliff Mass, a professor of meteorology at the University of Washington, wrote on his blog last month that the U.S. is "rapidly falling behind leading weather prediction centers around the world" because it has yet to catch up in computational capability to Europe. That criticism followed the $128 million recent purchase a Cray supercomputer by the U.K.'s Met Office, its meteorological agency.
Japan

Japanese Maglev Train Hits 500kph 418

Posted by timothy
from the for-amtrak-that-takes-negligence dept.
An anonymous reader writes Japan has now put 100 passengers on a Maglev train doing over 500kph. That's well over twice as fast as the fastest U.S. train can manage, and that only manages 240kph on small sections of its route. The Japanese Shinkansen is now running over 7 times times as fast as the average U.S. express passenger train. 500kph is moving towards the average speed of an airliner. Add the convenience of no boarding issues, and city-centre to city-centre travel, and the case for trains as mass-transport begins to look stronger.
Wikipedia

Researchers Forecast the Spread of Diseases Using Wikipedia 61

Posted by samzenpus
from the searching-sick dept.
An anonymous reader writes Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory have used Wikipedia logs as a data source for forecasting disease spread. The team was able to successfully monitor influenza in the United States, Poland, Japan, and Thailand, dengue fever in Brazil and Thailand, and tuberculosis in China and Thailand. The team was also able to forecast all but one of these, tuberculosis in China, at least 28 days in advance.
Earth

U.S. and China Make Landmark Climate Deal 285

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-scratch-our-back-and-i'll-scratch-ours dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After extended talks on the issue of climate change, the U.S. and China have reached a landmark accord to curb emissions in the near future. The two countries are the top carbon polluters, so their actions are likely to have a major effect on world pollution levels and also set the standard for other countries. The agreement includes China's first-ever commitment to stop the growth of its emissions by 2030. They plan on shifting a big chunk of their energy production to renewables in that time. The U.S. agreed to emit 26-28% less carbon in 2025 than it did in 2005. Their efforts could spur greater enthusiasm for a new global climate agreement in 2015. Reader jones_supa adds details of another interesting part of the U.S.-China talks: Technology products look likely to gain more access to international markets as a result of upgrade between the U.S. and China on a 1996 tariff-eliminating trade agreement that President Obama announced Tuesday in Beijing. The agreement is expected to lower prices on a raft of new technology products by eliminating border tariffs — a price impact that's expected to be larger outside the United States, since U.S. tariffs on high-tech goods are generally lower than those overseas. "This is a win-win-win agreement for information and communication technology industries in the U.S., Europe, Japan and China, for businesses and consumers who purchase IT products and for the global economy."
Earth

Fukushima Radiation Nears California Coast, Judged Harmless 114

Posted by timothy
from the dispersion-is-awesome dept.
sciencehabit writes After a two-and-a-half year ocean journey, radioactive contamination from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has drifted to within 160 kilometers of the California coast, according to a new study. But the radiation levels are minuscule and do not pose a threat, researchers say. The team found a high of just 8 becquerels of radiation per cubic meter in ocean samples off the coast. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for drinking water allow up to 7400 becquerels per cubic meter.
Earth

Interviews: Ask CMI Director Alex King About Rare Earth Mineral Supplies 62

Posted by timothy
from the dude-I-loved-their-2nd-album dept.
The modern electronics industry relies on inputs and supply chains, both material and technological, and none of them are easy to bypass. These include, besides expertise and manufacturing facilities, the actual materials that go into electronic components. Some of them are as common as silicon; rare earth minerals, not so much. One story linked from Slashdot a few years back predicted that then-known supplies would be exhausted by 2017, though such predictions of scarcity are notoriously hard to get right, as people (and prices) adjust to changes in supply. There's no denying that there's been a crunch on rare earths, though, over the last several years. The minerals themselves aren't necessarily rare in an absolute sense, but they're expensive to extract. The most economically viable deposits are found in China, and rising prices for them as exports to the U.S., the EU, and Japan have raised political hackles. At the same time, those rising prices have spurred exploration and reexamination of known deposits off the coast of Japan, in the midwestern U.S., and elsewhere.

Alex King is director of the Critical Materials Institute, a part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory. CMI is heavily involved in making rare earth minerals slightly less rare by means of supercomputer analysis; researchers there are approaching the ongoing crunch by looking both for substitute materials for things like gallium, indium, and tantalum, and easier ways of separating out the individual rare earths (a difficult process). One team there is working with "ligands – molecules that attach with a specific rare-earth – that allow metallurgists to extract elements with minimal contamination from surrounding minerals" to simplify the extraction process. We'll be talking with King soon; what questions would you like to see posed? (This 18-minute TED talk from King is worth watching first, as is this Q&A.)
Japan

Japan's Annual Nuclear Drill Highlights Problems 43

Posted by samzenpus
from the deja-vu-all-over-again dept.
AmiMoJo writes The Japanese government's disaster drill for nuclear power plants has highlighted some issues. The 2-day drill began on Sunday on the scenario that an earthquake had triggered an accident at the Shika plant in Ishikawa Prefecture. A group of residents gathered at a port to flee in boats on the assumption that the earthquake had made roads unusable. But the sea was too rough to sail, and officials had not considered an alternative in case of bad weather. Participating organizations were connected via a video link, but there were problems with the sound. Officials at the Toyama Prefectural government office could not hear part of the evacuation order.
Space

Dwarf Galaxies Dim Hopes of Dark Matter 137

Posted by samzenpus
from the nothing-to-measure-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes Once again, a shadow of a signal that scientists hoped would amplify into conclusive evidence of dark matter has instead flatlined, repeating a maddening refrain in the search for the invisible, omnipresent particles. The Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) failed to detect the glow of gamma rays emitted by annihilating dark matter in miniature "dwarf" galaxies that orbit the Milky Way, scientists reported Friday at a meeting in Nagoya, Japan. The hint of such a glow showed up in a Fermi analysis last year, but the statistical bump disappeared as more data accumulated. "We were obviously somewhat disappointed not to see a signal," said Matthew Wood, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University who was centrally involved the Fermi-LAT collaboration's new analysis, in an email.
Medicine

Stem Cells Grown From Patient's Arm Used To Replace Retina 56

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-and-what-arm-eye dept.
BarbaraHudson writes: The Globe and Mail is reporting the success of a procedure to implant a replacement retina grown from cells from the patient's skin. Quoting: "Transplant doctors are stepping gingerly into a new world, one month after a Japanese woman received the first-ever tissue transplant using stem cells that came from her own skin, not an embryo. On Sept. 12, doctors in a Kobe hospital replaced the retina of a 70-year-old woman suffering from macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. The otherwise routine surgery was radical because scientists had grown the replacement retina in a petri dish, using skin scraped from the patient's arm.

The Japanese woman is fine and her retinal implant remains in place. Researchers around the world are now hoping to test other stem-cell-derived tissues in therapy. Dr. Jeanne Loring from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., expects to get approval within a few years to see whether neurons derived from stem cells can be used to treat Parkinson's disease."
Japan

3D-Printed Gun Earns Man Two Years In Japanese Prison 331

Posted by Soulskill
from the forgot-to-read-the-fine-3d-print dept.
jfruh writes: Japan has some of the strictest anti-gun laws in the world, and the authorities there aim to make sure new technologies don't open any loopholes. 28-year-old engineer Yoshitomo Imura has been sentenced to two years in jail after making guns with a 3D printer in his home in Kawasaki.
Japan

High-Tech Walkers Could Help Japan's Elderly Stay Independent 34

Posted by Soulskill
from the imperial-walkers dept.
jfruh writes: You may have heard that Japan will deal with its aging population by relying more on robots. Osaka startup RT Works is showing what that might mean in practice: not humanoid robotic caregivers, but tech-enhanced versions of traditional tools like walkers. RT Works's walker automatically adjusts to help its user deal with hilly terrain, and can call for help if it moves outside a predefined range.
Japan

2014 Nobel Prize In Physics Awarded To the Inventors of the Blue LED 243

Posted by timothy
from the changing-the-color-of-server-rooms-everywhere dept.
grouchomarxist writes with word that "The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura, the inventors of the blue LED." From the organization's press release: When Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura produced bright blue light beams from their semi-conductors in the early 1990s, they triggered a fundamental transformation of lighting technology. Red and green diodes had been around for a long time but without blue light, white lamps could not be created. Despite considerable efforts, both in the scientific community and in industry, the blue LED had remained a challenge for three decades. They succeeded where everyone else had failed. Akasaki worked together with Amano at the University of Nagoya, while Nakamura was employed at Nichia Chemicals, a small company in Tokushima. Their inventions were revolutionary. Incandescent light bulbs lit the 20th century; the 21st century will be lit by LED lamps. White LED lamps emit a bright white light, are long-lasting and energy-efficient. They are constantly improved, getting more efficient with higher luminous flux (measured in lumen) per unit electrical input power (measured in watt). The most recent record is just over 300 lm/W, which can be compared to 16 for regular light bulbs and close to 70 for fluorescent lamps. As about one fourth of world electricity consumption is used for lighting purposes, the LEDs contribute to saving the Earth's resources. Materials consumption is also diminished as LEDs last up to 100,000 hours, compared to 1,000 for incandescent bulbs and 10,000 hours for fluorescent lights. The LED lamp holds great promise for increasing the quality of life for over 1.5 billion people around the world who lack access to electricity grids: due to low power requirements it can be powered by cheap local solar power.
Japan

Japan's Shinkansen Bullet Trains Celebrate 50th Anniversary 111

Posted by samzenpus
from the greased-lightning dept.
AmiMoJo writes Japan's Shinkansen bullet-train has marked its 50th anniversary. The first Shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka debuted on October 1st, 1964, ahead of the Tokyo Summer Olympics. Since then, the Shinkansen has run about 2 billion kilometers, or the equivalent of 50,000 times around the earth. It has carried about 5.6 billion passengers. The latest series to enter operation, the E5, operates at 320km/h.
Japan

Mystery Gamer Makes Millions Moving Markets In Japan 113

Posted by samzenpus
from the money-diffusion dept.
HughPickens.com writes Jason Clenfield writes in Businessweek that tax returns show that a former video game champion and pachinko gambler who goes by the name CIS traded 1.7 trillion yen ($15 Billion) worth of Japanese equities in 2013 — about half of 1 percent of the value of all the share transactions done by individuals on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The 35-year-old day trader whose name means death in classical Japanese says he made 6 billion yen ($54 Million), after taxes, betting on Japanese stocks last year. The nickname is a holdover from his gaming days, when he used to crush foes in virtual wrestling rings and online fantasy worlds.

"Games taught me to think fast and stay calm." CIS says he barely got his degree in mechanical engineering, having devoted most of college to the fantasy role-playing game Ultima Online. Holed up in his bedroom, he spent days on end roaming the game's virtual universe, stockpiling weapons, treasure and food. He calls this an early exercise in building and protecting assets. Wicked keyboard skills were a must. He memorized more than 100 key-stroke shortcuts — control-A to guzzle a healing potion or shift-S to draw a sword, for example — and he could dance between them without taking his eyes off the screen. "Some people can do it, some can't," he says with a shrug. But the game taught a bigger lesson: when to cut and run. "I was a pretty confident player, but just like in the real world, the more opponents you have, the worse your chances are," he says. "You lose nothing by running." That's how he now plays the stock market. CIS says he bets wrong four out of 10 times. The trick is to sell the losers fast while letting the winners ride. "Self-control is so important. You have to conserve your assets. That's what insulates you from the downturns and gives you the ammunition to make money."
Japan

Update: At Least 31 People Feared Dead After Japan Volcano Erupts 54

Posted by samzenpus
from the natural-disaster dept.
An anonymous reader writes "More than 30 people may be dead in a volcanic eruption in central Japan, the nation's second natural disaster in the past month. Nagano prefecture posted on its website that about 30 people had heart and lung failure, the customary way for Japanese authorities to describe a body until police doctors can examine it. At least four of the victims were being brought down from Mount Ontake on Sunday afternoon, one day after the volcano erupted."
Japan

Japan's Mt. Ontake Erupts, Stranding Hundreds of Hikers 41

Posted by Soulskill
from the get-home-safely dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Japan's second highest volcano, Mount Ontake, erupted on Saturday, sending thick clouds of ash into the air. More than 250 hikers were in the area, and the ash and rocks left seven unconscious, eight injured, and all of them stranded. In video footage from the mountain, you can see the thick clouds overtaking hikers, blocking out the sun and coating them with ash. There have been no reports of lava flows, but flights in the area were forced to divert their routes. (Another video shows the ash clouds from the sky.)
Japan

Underwater Landslide May Have Doubled 2011 Japanese Tsunami 27

Posted by timothy
from the earth-hates-us dept.
sciencehabit writes An underwater landslide the size of the Paris may have triggered the worst of the tsunami that struck Japan on 11 March 2011, a new study claims. In the new study, researchers worked back from details of the ocean surface motion recorded by gauges along the Japanese shore on the day of the earthquake. Much as sound waves can help the ear pinpoint the source of a gunshot and whether a small pistol or a large cannon fired it, tsunami waves carry the imprint of the ocean floor disturbance that created them. The team concludes that during the earthquake a slab of sediment 20 km by 40 km and up to 2 km thick slid about 300 meters down the steep slope of Japan Trench, 'acting like a piston.'
Japan

Fukushima Radiation Still Poisoning Insects 119

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-mothra dept.
sciencehabit writes: Eating food contaminated with radioactive particles may be more perilous than previously thought — at least for insects. Butterfly larvae fed even slightly tainted leaves collected near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station were more likely to suffer physical abnormalities and low survival rates than those fed uncontaminated foliage, a new study finds. The research suggests that the environment in the Fukushima region, particularly in areas off-limits to humans because of safety concerns, will remain dangerous for wildlife for some time. In other lingering radiation news, reader Rambo Tribble writes: Forest detritus, contaminated in the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster (abstract), is decaying at a much slower rate than normal, building up and creating a significant fire risk. This, in turn, is creating a real potential for the residual radioactive material to be distributed, through smoke, over a broad area of Europe and Russia. Looking at different possible fire intensities, researchers speculate, "20 to 240 people would likely develop cancer, of which 10 to 170 cases may be fatal." These figures are similar to those hypothesized for Fukushima.
Power

Liquid Sponges Extract Hydrogen From Water 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the solid-sponges-are-so-2013 dept.
New submitter gaelfx writes: Researchers at Glasglow University have an interesting method for separating the hydrogen out of water: Liquid Sponges. Most methods of extracting the hydrogen involve some form electrolysis, but these generally require some pretty expensive materials. The researchers claim that they can accomplish this using less electricity, cheaper materials and 30 times faster to boot. With both Honda and Toyota promising hydrogen fuel cell cars in Japan within the next few years (other manufacturers must be considering it as well, if not as publicly), does this spell a new future for transportation technology?

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