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It is time for a new contest, as OCC is giving away three Tesoro mechanical keyboards. Up for grabs are the Tesoro Lobera Supreme, the Tizona G2N with its Numpad attachment, and the Durandal Ultimate. All feature mechanical key switches, plus both the Lobera Supreme and Durandal Ultimate feature LED backlighting. The Lobera Supreme even has full color backlighting, so you can alternate between a variety of colors to suit your mood or game. If you want to try your hand at winning one of these keyboards, head on over to the forums and enter the contest. It is only open to residents in North America, so our apologies to our international friends.

OCC's Tesoro giveaway runs until September 15, so be sure to enter by then! And if you are one of the lucky winners, you have 48 hours to claim your prize, otherwise it gets redrawn!



September 17, 2014
Comments (0) | Posted at 09:41AM PST by bp9801

It is the middle of the week, and more than halfway through the month, which means we have a few items for you to check out today. There is a review on the Corsair Graphite 780T computer case, a full tower case that sports an interesting design and plenty of watercooling support. We also have a look at the ECS LIVA Mini PC Kit that packs an Intel Bay Trail-M processor and all the trimmings for a powerful little rig. Finishing things off today is a look back at the history of the personal computer and where it all began.

Cases
Corsair Graphite 780T @ Benchmark Reviews

Prebuilts
ECS LIVA Mini PC Kit @ ThinkComputers

Miscellany
History of the Personal Computer, Part 1: Foundations @ TechSpot



Comments (0) | Posted at 08:01AM PST by ClayMeow
The Evil Within TGS 2014 Trailer May Start Serene, But Eventually

Bethesda Softworks has released a new trailer for survival-horror The Evil Within in honor of the Tokyo Game Show, taking place September 18-21. While the trailer starts our fairly serene, it should be no surprise that it quickly turns south. After all, this is from the disturbing mind of Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami. The trailer is narrated by the game's primary antagonist Ruvik, voiced by Academy Award nominee Jackie Earle Haley.

The Evil Within will be available for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 on October 14. Pre-ordering nets you "The Fighting Chance Pack", which includes five in-game items: medical kit, double barrel shotgun, incendiary agony bolt, poison agony bolt, and green gel. A Season Pass is also available, which will contain three content packs featuring new characters and stories.

Source: Press Release and Bethesda Blog



Comments (0) | Posted at 07:31AM PST by ClayMeow

In Creative Assembly's Alien: Isolation, it'll be difficult to escape the grasp of the titular alien. It'll also be difficult to escape the allure of the newly announced Season Pass. SEGA of America, SEGA Europe, and Twentieth Century Fox have officially announced the Alien: Isolation Season Pass, consisting of five challenging and terrifying Survivor Mode add-on packs. "Survivor Mode is an exciting new game mode for Alien: Isolation which challenges players to participate in a one-to-one confrontation with the universe’s deadliest killer, deep within the bowels of Sevastopol Station. With limited resources on each map and a hunter on the loose, players will need to take advantage of every item they find to help them complete a unique set of objectives which will ultimately lead to their escape."

When Alien: Isolation launches on October 7, it will include a Survivor Mode demo featuring one playable map, "Basement". The first of the five Survivor Mode add-on packs will then release on October 28, "featuring three new maps, each with their own set objectives and challenges, a new playable character, and a variety of enemy types between you and your escape." The remaining four add-on packs will then release over the following months, with each one "featuring a new playable character, and a mix of new maps and game modes to challenge even the most proficient player." The final pack should be released by March 2015.

All five Survivor Mode add-on packs will be available for purchase separately or as part of the Alien: Isolation Season Pass, which will offer up to a 25% discount. Exact pricing has not been disclosed. The idea behind Survivor Mode was born from members of the development team challenging each other to accomplish certain tasks throughout the game, such as not firing a gun during the engineering section. Having so much fun with this friendly competition, the team realized it shouldn't be something kept to themselves. And so yes, there will be leaderboards for each Survivor Mode map.

Alien: Isolation is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 on October 7. You can check the PC system requirements at the official site.

Source: Press Release



Comments (0) | Posted at 06:34AM PST by Guest_Jim_*

Liquid metals have been fascinating people for many years, and now researchers at North Carolina State University have found an interesting way to control them. Like other liquids, liquid metals have a surface tension, which is what the researchers have now learned to manipulate, using voltages under one volt.

For their study, the researchers worked with a liquid metal alloy of gallium and indium, which normally has a surface tension of 500 millinewtons per meter. That is pretty high and causes the metal to bead up. By applying a positive charge of less than one volt to it though, an oxide layer will form on the surface and act as a surfactant. The result is that the surface tension drops from 500 mN/meter to just 2 mN/meter, causing the liquid metal to spread out as a result of gravity. By reversing the charge of the voltage, the oxide layer is removed and the surface tension restored. The surface tension can be tuned by applying voltages between the two extremes.

Such control could be used to affect the movement of the liquid, as well as the shape, allowing circuits to be made and broken. Microelectromechanical systems, microfluidic channels, and photonic and optical devices could all be potentially applications for this discovery.

 

 

Source: North Carolina State University



Comments (0) | Posted at 05:13AM PST by gebraset

eXtreme Outer Vision, a website that provides a wealth of tools specifically for computer enthusiasts, has just released an updated version of its power supply calculator. The new version of the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator adds support for socket LGA 2011-3, M.2 SSDs, and DDR4 SDRAM. This means that the new version can assist builders who choose to use Intel Core i7-5820K, Intel Core i7-5930K, Intel Core i7-5960X, Intel Core i7-4790K, Intel Core i7-4785T, and Intel Core i7-4790T processors.

The eXtreme Power Supply Calculator is still available in a Lite and Pro version, with the latter costing $9.99 for lifetime access. The Pro version includes all of the features found within the Lite version, such as an up-to-date CPU Database, capacitor aging information, and system load calculation, but also adds support for multiple video cards, multiple Bitcoin mining modules, printed results, amperage on three rails, and a recommended UPS rating.

Source: Press Release


September 16, 2014
Comments (0) | Posted at 07:04PM PST by ClayMeow

Last week, Ubisoft narrated a co-op Heist mission in Assassin's Creed Unity, but today we get an official "Co-Op Gameplay Trailer", showing that, "When you're part of a Brotherhood, you never have to stand alone." In Assassin's Creed Unity, you're able to customize your own Arno as you see fit, whether it be a "melee expert, agile infiltrator, or a silent master of stealth."

Assassin's Creed Unity will release on November 11 in North America and November 13 in EMEA territories for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Source: UbiBlog



Comments (0) | Posted at 05:28PM PST by ClayMeow
SteamWorld Dig Developer Image & Form Unveils Its Next Game, SteamWorld Heist

Highly acclaimed platform mining adventure SteamWorld Dig is currently available in Humble Indie Bundle 12, and now it's clear why – to get more people excited about a follow-up. Today, Swedish developer Image & Form announced the next entry in the SteamWorld franchise, entitled SteamWorld Heist. But just because it exists in the same world, doesn't mean it's a true sequel.

"Heist isn't a sequel to SteamWorld Dig," says CEO Brjann Sigurgeirsson. "It's set in the same world and the cowbots are still the heroes. But a lot has happened to SteamWorld since then, and we want to make a game that is radically different. Partly because we really wanted to make a turn-based strategy game, but also because it felt like a clever move. The obvious follow-up would've been Dig 2; we wanted to surprise instead."

In SteamWorld Heist, players "recruit a team of ragtag robots to explore and scavenge the remains of a destroyed world." With the population forced into steam-driven spaceships after a cataclysmic event and water being hard to come by, that means heisting it from other ships and bases in order to survive. And as Sigurgeirsson alluded to, combat will be turn-based.

SteamWorld Heist is planned for a Spring 2015 release "for all platforms."

Source: Press Release



Comments (0) | Posted at 04:43PM PST by ClayMeow
The Original Borderlands Updated with Steamworks Multiplayer

Gearbox has finally ditched GameSpy and updated the original Borderlands to Steamworks for its multiplayer. It's great to see Gearbox supporting the original game so many years later; next month will mark the fifth anniversary of its release. For those that happen to have a physical DVD of the game, Gearbox has posted instructions on how to access the "Granting Tool" on Steam, providing you with a Steam copy of the game. SecuRom DRM was removed back in July.

Source: Facebook



Comments (0) | Posted at 03:56PM PST by CheeseMan42

Apple has added an extra layer of security to the iCloud backup system in the form of two-factor authentication. Users of the service were previously susceptible to having their accounts accessed by unauthorized users that had gained the users passwords. Hackers had previously been able to use social engineering tactics or software such as the Elcomsoft Phone Password Breaker to gain access to the accounts and would then have access to SMS records, e-mails, photos, and other personal data. Two-factor authentication still needs to be turned on by users to get the extra protection, and all users should do so as soon as possible.

Source: Ars Technica



Comments (0) | Posted at 03:43PM PST by CheeseMan42

The Watson supercomputer from IBM has been used to challenge some of the smartest humans in Jeopardy and has been envisioned to solve significant problems such as cancer. IBM has now announced Watson Analytics, a program that has been in beta testing for the past nine months under the codename Neo, that will provide "powerful analytics for everyone." Beta testers will be able to get access within 30 days with freemium and premium packages available later this year. Senior VP of the Information and Analytics Group Bob Picciano described the program saying, "Watson Analytics is designed to help all business people – from sales reps on the road to company CEOs – see patterns, pursue ideas and improve all types of decisions."

Source: PC Magazine



Comments (0) | Posted at 03:33PM PST by ClayMeow

Creative Assembly has released the third #HowWillYouSurvive video for Alien: Isolation, entitled "In The Vents". While the "quiet hidden space of vents" may seem like a safe place to hang out, it's anything but when there's a Xenomorph roaming about. I'm starting to get the feeling that #HowYouWillDie would have been a more apt name for this video series...

Alien: Isolation is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 on October 7. You can check the PC system requirements at the official site.

Source: Creative Assembly



Comments (0) | Posted at 03:14PM PST by Guest_Jim_*

Everyone with a mobile device, whether it is a laptop or smartphone, wants it to be charged as quickly as possible, so we can get back to using it. Charging and discharging a battery too quickly can damage it though, by the rapid swelling of the electrodes. At least that is what we have all believed for some time now, but researchers at SLAC have recently discovered that may not be the case.

As part of the normal operations of batteries, ions will move in and out of the electrodes during charging and discharging cycles. If not all of the nanoparticles in the electrodes participate in the process, there is a risk of uneven swelling, which damages the electrodes. The SLAC researchers used many small coin cell, lithium-ion batteries that they charged with different levels of currents and over different amounts of time. They then took apart the cells and washed them, to stop the charge/discharge process, and cut the electrodes into thin slices for analysis. By looking at thousands of electrode nanoparticles at a time, the researchers discovered that only a small percentage of the nanoparticles were involved when charging, even when done very quickly. When the discharging rate increased however, more and more nanoparticles got involved, achieving a more uniform, and therefore less damaging mode.

This research would seem to indicate that lithium ion batteries could be discharged more quickly than they are currently, without necessarily sacrificing the life of the battery. Also it may be possible to tweak electrodes for better charging rates. The next step is to look at how the battery electrodes survive through hundreds or thousands of cycles, like what we put our devices through.

Source: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory



Comments (0) | Posted at 02:58PM PST by gebraset

Chromecast continues to improve as a media streaming device as Google has revealed that it now supports WATCH Disney, Twitch, iHeart Radio, and DramaFever. With WATCH Disney, users can tune into a variety of shows, such as Girl Meets World, Doc McStuffins, and Star Wars Rebels, thanks to the new WATCH Disney, WATCH Disney Junior, and WATCH Disney XD apps. The Twitch application allows users to join 60 million gamers, including casual and professional, that enjoy watching and talking about video games. Music lovers will appreciate that the iHeartRadio application allows them to listen to more than 1,500 live radio stations located within the United States, as well as customized radio stations. For international television enthusiasts, the new DramaFever application provides more than 15,000 international drama TV episodes to watch on demand.

Source: Google Chrome Blog



Comments (0) | Posted at 02:23PM PST by gebraset

NVIDIA GAME24, a 24 hour event that is centered on celebrating PC gamers, is kicking off in just two days. The event itself is a combination of local events held in cities such as Chicago, Indianapolis, London Los Angeles, Mission Viejo, Shanghai, and Stockholm. During GAME24, NVIDIA has promised new product announcements from itself and game publishers, a DOTA 2 Invitational tournament, and the world’s first 24-hour livestreamed modding competition, known as Mod24. NVIDIA has also announced that two world records will be broken at GAME24, but has not revealed any additional details about the records that will be broken.

More information about NVIDIA GAME24 can be found on the event’s website, which will also feature live broadcasts of all the local events that are set to kick off on September 18, 2014 at 6PM PDT.

Source: Press Release


Comments (0) | Posted at 10:38AM PST by Guest_Jim_*

For thousands of years, humanity has been working to uncover the mysteries of Nature, and we are still at it. Recently special attention has been given to the skin of cephalopods, which can change in color as well as 'see' color. Researchers at Rice University have now recreated the color changing aspect of the skin to create a color display that matches the vividness of modern displays.

The pixels in the new display are comprised of several hundred aluminum nanorods, and the color of each pixel is determined by their length and spacing. Electron-beam deposition was used to create the precise arrangement of nanorods, which ensure that only one color is produced by the aluminum. Previous attempts to use aluminum nanoparticles like this resulted in more muted colors, as a wider range of frequencies were created and mixed together.

Among the potential uses of these arrays is replacing the dyes in LCD displays. Dyes can wear out over time from prolonged light exposure, but the physics involved with the nanorods will never fade. Also the light produced by the nanorods is naturally polarized, which means that one less polarizer would be needed in a display using them.

Source: Rice University



Comments (0) | Posted at 10:17AM PST by bp9801

We have a little bit of everything today, so regardless of what upgrade you are looking for, you should be covered. There is a review on the XFX Radeon R9 285 DD video card, which features a custom cooler and factory overclock to get you gaming longer. We also have a preview of NVIDIA's upcoming GTX 900 series of video cards, equipped with the company's new Maxwell core that should prove quite exciting. We have a look at the EVGA X99 Classified motherboard for those wanting to upgrade to the Intel Haswell-E line, while there is also a seven-way roundup of Intel Z97 motherboards if you don't quite need the high horsepower of the new chips. A 32GB kit of DDR4-2133 memory from Crucial gets put to the test, which could be perfect for one of the X99 motherboards. Fractal Design's Core 3300 case gets reviewed to see how this entry level model performs, and lastly there is a look at various protection accessories from Brando for the Nexus 7 tablet.

Video Cards
XFX Radeon R9 285 DD @ Benchmark Reviews
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 900 Series Preview @ ThinkComputers

Motherboards
EVGA X99 Classified @ LanOC Reviews
Intel Z97 Chipset: 7-Way Motherboard Roundup @ TechSpot

Cases
Fractal Design Core 3300 @ PC Perspective

Memory
Crucial DDR4-2133 32GB Kit @ ThinkComputers

Miscellany
Brando Nexus 7 II Protective Accessories Presentation @ Madshrimps



Comments (0) | Posted at 06:04AM PST by Guest_Jim_*

Everyday many of us walk and run without much thought, because our brains and bodies know what to do. Robots however are still learning these actions and researchers at MIT recently constructed and programmed a robot to run and even leap over objects in its path. The robot is designed to emulate the cheetah, but does not yet match its speed, having only sprinted at 10 MPH.

To achieve this speed, each leg of the robotic cheetah follows a bounding algorithm that determines the amount of force that is applied to the ground. To determine exactly how much force is applied, the researchers looked to sprinters who extend their stride by pushing against the ground hard enough, to extend their airtime. Such a force-based approach actually makes it easier for the robot to navigate rough terrain and does not require force sensors on the feet. Also by simply increasing the force applied to the ground, the robot can leap over obstacles in its path.

One thing about this robot that sets it apart from many other is that it is all electric, which counters the belief some have that only a loud gasoline engine can provide the necessary power. The next goal the researchers have is to actually get the robot galloping, which should be easy to do from its current, bounding gait.

 

 

Source: MIT



Comments (0) | Posted at 05:28AM PST by gebraset

Spotify, an on-demand music service which currently boasts 20 million songs and 10 million subscribers, is now available on Amazon Fire TV.  The music service can be accessed through an offering known as Spotify Connect, which allows users to control music through the Spotify application on a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. Spotify Connect provides users with the ability to seamlessly switch music from mobile devices to the television while continuing to make calls, use other smartphone applications, and lose Wi-Fi signal, all without interrupting the music playback experience that Spotify offers.

Spotify Connect requires a premium subscription to the music service that currently costs $9.99 per month.

Source: CNET and Spotify Blog


Comments (0) | Posted at 05:23AM PST by gebraset

Roku has revealed that it has sold 10 million of its own streaming devices since the company was founded. The announcement comes just six months after the company launched the Roku Streaming Stick, an HDMI dongle that competes directly with Google Chromecast. Despite the fierce competition within the streaming media device sector, Roku noted that Roku players are widely used, with the devices averaging 48 hours of streamed content per month. The company also cited a survey conducted by researcher NDP, which reveals that Roku accounted for 37 million hours of video streamed per week, which is much better than Apple TV's 15 million, Chromecast's 12 million, and Amazon Fire TV's 6 million hours.

Source: CNET



September 15, 2014
Comments (0) | Posted at 11:59PM PST by bp9801
Phanteks Unveils the Enthoo EVOLV Case

Phanteks, one of the leaders in CPU cooling and now computer cases, has a new case on the horizon: the EVOLV. This mATX/mITX case features an all aluminum exterior that looks rather stunning and clean, with a large side window so you can show off the gear inside. Phanteks has equipped the EVOLV with quick release panels so you can have easy access to fans, dust filters, and the interior. The front features a power LED that has a customizable color setting to match whatever mood or theme you are going for with the case. Inside the EVOLV is room for two 2.5" drives and one 3.5" drive, plus there is a removable HDD cage in the bottom compartment that can support two more 3.5" or be removed if your power supply exceeds 180mm. For even more storage needs, Phanteks packed in a Drop-N-Lock SSD bracket for two extra 2.5" drives. There really is no shortage of storage potential with the EVOLV. An optical drive can be installed in the rear if you wish.

Cooling on the EVOLV is provided by one 200mm front fan and one rear 140mm fan, although there is room for either two 120mm or two 140mm in the top, the same in the front, and the rear fan can be swapped out with a 120mm model. If your cooling needs are more liquid, there is support for a 240x120mm water cooling radiator in the top or front and a 120x120mm in the rear, with the top also being capable of supporting a 240x140mm rad (only 140x140mm in the front and rear). Video cards up to 318mm can be installed inside, with CPU coolers up to 192mm fitting with ease. If cable management is a sticking point for you, you should be happy to know Phanteks has equipped the EVOLV with its Hoop-N-Loop cable ties to keep everything secure. USB 3.0 and audio in/out make up the front I/O ports, which you'll find down on the lower right side of the case, while the power and reset are on the top right.

The Phanteks Enthoo EVOLV is available in black or white, although no price or release date was announced at this time.

Source: Press Release



Comments (0) | Posted at 04:52PM PST by ClayMeow
See How You Can Adapt Windows 9's Start Menu to Your Liking

Last month, multiple sources reported that Microsoft plans on unveiling Windows 9 (codename "Threshold") at a preview event on September 30, with a "technology preview" releasing around the same time. While Windows 9 will reportedly blend the best of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 together, along with a few new features, the best news for many people is the return of a true Start menu. If you don't want to wait until the end of the month to see what Microsoft has in store, German site WinFuture has posted a video demonstrating how the Start menu will work in Windows 9. The nearly-three-minute video shows that the Start menu is now a mix of a traditional application list with Live Tiles; the latter of which can adapt on-the-fly as you drag them about.

If you don't like the Live Tiles, don't fret! WinFuture posted a second video that shows you can fully remove the Live Tiles and just have the traditional list:

Source: WinFuture via The Verge



Comments (0) | Posted at 02:52PM PST by CheeseMan42

Apple announced its latest version of the iPhone last week, and the device was made available for pre-order late last week. The pre-order has turned out to be the largest ever for an iPhone with four million phones ordered, eclipsing both the two million orders for the iPhone 5 and the initial supply of the devices available. Apple will begin shipping the phones on Friday but some users will have to wait until October to receive them. A number of phones will be available to purchase in store on Friday, but the number will surely be limited.

Source: Seattle Times



Comments (0) | Posted at 02:43PM PST by CheeseMan42

The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) has announced that the DisplayPort connection standard has been updated to version 1.3. This new version offers support for both higher resolutions and refresh rates. Version 1.3 "should theoretically be able to drive 4K displays at 120 Hz," with a maximum bandwidth of 32.4 Gb/s. In addition to running a single 4K monitor at 120 Hz, it will also support the ability to "daisy-chain two 4K 60 Hz DisplayPort 1.3-enabled monitors," or to "run a 5K monitor over a single DisplayPort cable." Users that are itching to take advantage of the increased bandwidth will have to wait until sometime next year with no upcoming devices confirmed to use the new standard.

Source: Toms Hardware



Comments (0) | Posted at 02:08PM PST by Guest_Jim_*

In the 1960s we learned about the sound of silence and now we are learning what the sound of an atom is. An artificial atom more specifically, which releases its vibrational energy is released as a kind of quantum particle. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have recently built a device to couple acoustic waves with the artificial atom, an achievement that could lead to some very interesting effects.

Artificial atoms are actually circuits made of a superconducting material, but they behave like atoms with the ability to be charged with energy, and emit it as a particle. Normal atoms emit this energy as light, but the researchers designed the artificial atom to actually emit and absorb acoustic energy. This energy would be comprised of quantum particles representing the weakest detectable sound. The frequency used was 4.8 GHz, which is close to microwave frequencies for light, but in music would be roughly D28, or 20 octaves above the highest note on a grand piano.

The value of coupling an artificial atom to sound is that sound is easier to control; with how much slower it is than light. This slow speed also translates to a very small wavelength that can actually be smaller than the atom, unlike light waves which are larger. That smaller relative size makes the properties of the atom easier to control, which could prove useful in future quantum technologies.

Source: Chalmers University of Technology



Comments (0) | Posted at 12:48PM PST by ClayMeow

Ajay Ghale may be the protagonist and Pagan Min may be the main antagonist, but let's be honest here – the real stars of Far Cry 4 are the elephants. With no natural predators and the strength to carry one hundred men, these seven-ton behemoths are true war machines. Learn all about these majestic creatures in a new trailer entitled "The Mighty Elephants of Kyrat":

Far Cry 4 is set to release on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 on November 18.

Source: UbiBlog



Comments (0) | Posted at 12:25PM PST by ClayMeow
Several Planetary Annihilation Kickstarter Backers Are Actually Turning a Profit

While Uber Entertainment's Planetary Annihilation may not have received all the glowing praise Divinity: Original Sin has enjoyed, it's still another example of a Kickstarter and Steam Early Access success story. Maybe not so much the latter, but certainly the former. But it's not simply a success story because it raised $2.2 million and has now been fully released, it has also been quite the lucrative venture for several backers.

Everyone who backed at the $1,000 Kickstarter tier or greater got the opportunity to have Uber's designers create a unique custom commander just for them. With 91 people backing at that tier and another 11 from the higher tiers, there were quite a lot of commander units the team had to create. Uber created three basic designs, had the backers fill out a survey, and then allowed those backers to send in any sketches or source material they wanted the artist to use for inspiration. When Uber realized that it "had piles of interesting, custom characters that would be added to the game," the team wondered if they could sell them to other fans.

Since it wasn't part of the original deal, Uber asked each backer for their permission and had them sign a contract. With Uber agreeing to share a portion of the proceeds, almost everyone said yes. Some units sold for $5-10 for a limited time, some for $10-15, and some really nice-looking units for as much as $25. None of them offered any bonuses to the purchaser; they were simply cosmetic. While the percentage split was undisclosed, some backers have already recouped their $1,000 pledges, now actually turning a profit. That's quite the haul for something that was never planned as an investment in the beginning.

Planetary Annihilation is currently available on Steam with support for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Source: Polygon



Comments (0) | Posted at 09:14AM PST by Guest_Jim_*

Friction is an inescapable phenomenon of the Universe, for better or worse, and ways to control it are always important. Adding fluorine to some carbon-based materials, like Teflon, is the key to making some non-stick materials, so it made sense to expect graphene to also become non-stick, by adding fluorine atoms. As researchers at the University of Pennsylvania discovered though, the result of that added fluorine atoms was actually increased friction, not decreased.

The reason for investigating how to make graphene, an atom-thick sheet of carbon, non-stick is to use it as a coating to protect surfaces from normal wear and tear. As graphene is so thin and exceptionally strong, its use as a coating makes sense, and making it non-stick would make it even better. The Pennsylvania researchers were not the only group to create fluorinated graphene, and both groups reported the increase in friction, but the other group attributed it to an increase in stiffness. The Pennsylvania researchers were not satisfied with this explanation though, and started examining and modelling the energy levels of the material. On the macroscale, energy levels do not impact friction, but at the scale graphene exists, energy levels can be just as powerful as physical levels.

What they determined was that the fluorine atoms were introducing peaks to the material's electronic energy levels, making it very rough compared to pure graphene. All is not lost though, as a coating of high-friction graphene could have a use, and this research improves our understanding of graphene's surface properties.

Source: University of Pennsylvania



Comments (0) | Posted at 08:06AM PST by ClayMeow
Microsoft Purchasing Mojang and the Minecraft IP for $2.5 Billion

After a week of rumors, it's now official: Microsoft is purchasing the Minecraft IP and its development studio Mojang. The price? "A smooth 2.5 BILLION dollars." In one fell swoop this morning, Microsoft's Head of Xbox Phil Spencer, Mojang, and Mojang co-founder Markus "Notch" Persson released statements on the matter. Minecraft's first foray into the console space was on Xbox 360, and it quickly skyrocketed to the top of the online gaming charts on Xbox Live; now with over two billion hours played in the last two years. As such, according to Spencer, Microsoft has "long seen the incredible potential of Minecraft" and believes the IP adds diversity to its game portfolio across multiple platforms. And yes, those "multiple platforms" include the company's competition.

With a PlayStation 3 version launching last year, a PlayStation 4 version launching alongside the Xbox One version earlier this month, and a PlayStation Vita version on its way, PlayStation gamers may be a bit worried by this news. Thankfully, both Microsoft and Mojang have confirmed that Minecraft will remain available across platforms and "there's no reason for the development, sales, and support of the PC/Mac, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Vita, iOS, and Android versions of Minecraft to stop." Of course, actions will speak louder than words, so let's see how Minecraft's PlayStation Vita launch goes.

Microsoft has also confirmed that MINECON will continue next year and be even bigger than before, both in person and online. Just don't expect Notch to make an appearance. As rumored, Notch will be leaving Mojang when the deal is finalized – something he's actually wanted to do for months now. In fact, his June 17 tweet about wanting someone to buy his shares of Mojang may have spurred Microsoft's interest. Notch "doesn't want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance;" he just wants to work on small games because its fun, not because he has to. Fellow Mojang co-founders Carl Manneh and Jakob Porsér will be leaving the company as well.

According to Microsoft's press release, the acquisition is expected to close late this year, barring any regulatory hurdles, and despite the exorbitant price tag, "Microsoft expects the acquisition to be break-even in FY15 on a GAAP basis."

Source: Press Release & Xbox Wire & Mojang & Notch



Comments (0) | Posted at 07:32AM PST by Guest_Jim_*

Graphene has a long list of special properties, including great conductivity, flexibility, and mechanical strength. Also on the list is the curios ability to block gases and liquids, except for water. Researchers at the University of Manchester, however, have discovered a way to make graphene oxide completely impermeable, which would have numerous implications.

The reason stacks of graphene sheets let water through has to do with how the water molecules interact with the sheets, causing capillaries to form that the molecules can slip through, and sometimes bring other molecules with them. This has obvious uses for water purification, but it could also be used to protect surfaces from corrosion, weather elements, and more, if only water could also be blocked. The Manchester researchers found that simple chemical processes could actually be used to close those capillaries in graphene oxide films, making them stronger and impermeable.

Demonstrating what is possible with this the researchers covered copper plates with their graphene paint, and showed that they could store strongly corrosive acids. Potentially it could also find use in electronics, shipbuilding, the nuclear industry, and even for improving the shelf life of medicines.

Source: University of Manchester


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