GeekSpeak for 2009-09-19

Blood Bot and Oklahoma High

GeekNews is so much fun! Join the Geeks for some wonderful tech news items on today’s show.

Military robot 'hops' over walls

Video footage has been released of a robot that can leap over obstacles more than 7.5m (25ft) high.

Most of the time, the shoebox-sized robot – which is being developed for the US military – uses its four wheels to get around.

But the Precision Urban Hopper can use a piston-actuated “leg” to launch it over obstacles such as walls or fences.

The robot could boost the capabilities of troops and special forces engaged in urban warfare, say researchers.

Machine rebellion begins: Killer robot destroyed by US je

An American “Reaper” flying hunter-killer robot assassin rebelled against its human controllers above Afghanistan on Sunday, and a manned US fighter jet was forced to shoot the rogue machine down before it unilaterally invaded a neighbouring country.

The Reaper, aka MQ-9 or Predator-B, is a large five-ton turboprop powered machine able to carry up to 14 Hellfire missiles – each capable of destroying a tank or flattening a building. It is used by the US and British forces above Afghanistan as a “persistent hunter-killer against emerging targets”.

JUSTICE Act would roll back telecom wiretap immunity

“A group of Senate democrats has proposed a new bill called the JUSTICE Act which seeks to impose stronger safeguards on the surveillance powers granted by the PATRIOT Act. It would also roll back a controversial provision of the [FISA|Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] Amendment Act that granted immunity to telecom companies that participated in warrantless surveillance.”

FCC To Introduce Net Neutrality Rule

“Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, plans to propose a new so-called net neutrality rule Monday that could prevent telecommunications, cable and wireless companies from blocking Internet applications, according to sources at the agency.”

Darwin's Voyage Done Over, Live

“Almost 178 years ago, Charles Darwin set sail in the HMS Beagle, to do the now famous explorations that formed the basis for Darwin’s On The Origin Of Species. Now, a group of British and Dutch scientists, journalists and artists set sail again to redo the voyage of the Beagle. This time, they are taking modern equipment with them and they have live connections through Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and Flickr. As they re-explore, and (re)discover, we can join that 8-month-long trip, live over the internet.”

Gene Roddenberry's Original Mac Plus

An auction house called Profiles in History is auctioning off the Mac Plus with serial number #1 (or F4200NUM0001 to be precise), which Apple presented to Star Trek’s creator, presumably in 1986. It’ll be up for bid at a Hollywood collectibles auction on October 8th and 9th, and comes with a letter of authenticity signed by Roddenberry’s son.

MIT Students Take Space Photos on $150 Budget

Two MIT students have successfully photographed the earth from space on a strikingly low budget of $148. Perhaps more significantly, they managed to accomplish this feat using components available off-the-shelf to the average layperson, opening the doors for a new generation of amateur space enthusiasts.

WebGL 3D Graphics

“Apple’s WebKit HTML rendering engine has gained support for WebGL, an emerging open standard for 3D graphics on the Web. Apple’s implementation is still at an early stage of development, but it can already be used to display animated 3D shapes with textures.”

Planck First Light Yields Promising Results

Following launch on 14 May, checkouts of the satellite’s subsystems were started in parallel with the cool-down of its instruments’ detectors. The detectors are looking for variations in the temperature of the Cosmic Microwave Background that are about a million times smaller than one degree – this is comparable to measuring from Earth the body heat of a rabbit sitting on the Moon. To achieve this, Planck’s detectors must be cooled to extremely low temperatures, some of them being very close to absolute zero (–273.15°C, or zero Kelvin, 0K).

Programmer's Day

Day of the programmer, which is celebrated on Sept. 13 if a leap year – September 12, the press office of head of state.

Unofficially Programmer’s Day celebrated in the world for many years at the 256 th day of each year. The number 256 is chosen because it is the number of integers that can be expressed using a single eight-byte, and also is the maximum degree of 2, which is less than 365.

Five Ways that Apps.gov is a Trendsetter

[US CIO] Kundra is no slouch. He understands that a transition to cloud computing is a long-term technology goal for, not only Obama’s administration, but likely the administration that follows. He also knows that this is a rare opportunity for the federal government to set an example for private industry in no uncertain terms—an example that may go a long way to ensuring the United States sets an example for the rest of the world.

Blueprint for a Quantum Electric Motor

“Place a couple of cold atoms in an alternating magnetic field and you’ve got a quantum version of an electric motor.”

Trapped Girls Updated FacebookInstead of Calling For Help

Too much social media can be a bad thing. Two girls lost in a stormwater drain in Adelaide, Australia (Australia), updated their Facebook (Facebook) status instead of calling emergency services on Sunday night, in a situation authorities called “worrying”.

It’s not clear how much danger the 10- and 12-year old girls were in: Australia’s ABCNews describes them as both “lost” and “trapped”, but it’s possible that they felt no imminent danger. Nonetheless, the Metropolitan Fire Service expressed concern that the youngsters, equipped with phones, would raise the alarm on Facebook rather than calling 000, the Australian equivalent of 911:

Bloodbot takes blood samples automatically

This is Bloodbot and he was recently featured in a gallery of surgical robots for Wired. He is the invention of the Mechatronics in Medicine Group over at Imperial College London, England and works by first scanning the inside of a patients elbow using a pressure sensor that glides over the skin to detect the location of a vein. Then switching to a syringe the robot detects pressure changes so when needle punctures the vein it knows when to stop.

Burglar Arrested After Checking Facebook During Robbery

So apparently it actually works both ways: careless Facebook (Facebook) use can both get you robbed and get you arrested for burglary.

According to The Journal, a 19-year-old Pennsylvania man was arraigned earlier this week on a charge of felony daytime robbery. How did police catch him? Simple: the burglar left a trail, by way of checking his Facebook account before leaving the house with two diamond rings and forgetting to log out.

The Air Car - BusinessWeek

The Air Car
The fiberglass MiniC.A.T. runs on compressed air, and offers zero pollution and very low running costs
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Many respected engineers have been trying for years to bring a compressed air car to market, believing strongly that compressed air can power a viable “zero pollution” car. Now the first commercial compressed air car is on the verge of production and beginning to attract a lot of attention, and with a recently signed partnership with Tata, India’s largest automotive manufacturer, the prospects of very cost-effective mass production are now a distinct possibility. The MiniC.A.T is a simple, light urban car, with a tubular chassis that is glued not welded and a body of fibreglass. The heart of the electronic and communication system on the car is a computer offering an array of information reports that extends well beyond the speed of the vehicle, and is built to integrate with external systems and almost anything you could dream of, starting with voice recognition, internet connectivity, GSM telephone connectivity, a GPS guidance system, fleet management systems, emergency systems, and of course every form of digital entertainment. The engine is fascinating, as is and the revolutionary electrical system that uses just one cable and so is the vehicle’s wireless control system. Microcontrollers are used in every device in the car, so one tiny radio transmitter sends instructions to the lights, indicators etc