OCC TECH NEWS
July 31, 2014
Balance is a goal many wish to achieve, and that is not limited to people. Many physical systems try to achieve balance or equilibrium, but many also must exist in a state of non-equilibrium to function. Such non-equilibrium systems are not well understood in part because of the limitations on creating them, but researchers at Northwestern University have found a new way to do so.
A system at equilibrium has no potential and no energy, as any change in one direction is met by a change in the other. A non-equilibrium system is constantly changing though, as energy is continually being added. Examples of such systems include the Earth's plate tectonics, airplanes, and even the human body. Theoretically, the constant adding of energy will allow structures to be formed within a non-equilibrium system, and the Northwestern researchers found a way to test this. They made a mixture of pH-responsive particles, which will change their electric charges when pH levels are altered. This oscillation provides the energy input needed to form the non-equilibrium structures predicted.
As you may be able to guess, non-equilibrium structures are impossible to create under equilibrium conditions. This discovery could enable these structures to be designed by scientists, by tuning the oscillations adding the necessary energy.
Source: Northwestern University
The final day of July is here, and with it comes a nice selection of reviews for you to check out. There is a look at the AMD A10-7800 Kaveri APU, a slight update to the series that comes in 45 and 65W TDP varieties, and packs in an R7 GPU. We also have the NZXT H440 mid-tower case for those valuing silent computing. To keep everything powered up for the long run, there's a review on the SeaSonic X-Series XM2-1250 power supply. Logitech's new G402 Hyperion Fury gaming mouse, dubbed the "world's fastest," gets put to the test to see if that claim is justified. Finishing things up today is a look at the GAMDIAS Hephaestus GHS2000 headset, which features 7.1 surround, built-in cooling, and various other features.
AMD A10-7800 Kaveri APU @ TechSpot
NZXT H440 @ ThinkComputers
SeaSonic X-Series XM2-1250 @ PC Perspective
Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury Gaming Mouse @ PC Perspective
GAMDIAS Hephaestus GHS2000 Headset @ Benchmark Reviews
July 30, 2014
Logitech has announced the G402 Hyperion Fury Ultra-Fast FPS gaming mouse, a mouse that it claims is the world's fastest. Logitech accomplished this with a combination of the Fusion Engine sensor that is capable of tracking 500 inches per second and Logitech Delta Zero sensor technology to provide "unrivaled accuracy." The Fusion Engine is powered by a 32-bit ARM processor and solves the problem of being able to physically move the mouse faster than the sensors can track the movement. Users can customize the DPI of the mouse with four settings from 240 to 4000 DPI. General manager of gaming at Logitech Ehtisham Rabbani said, "The Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury is the fastest gaming mouse, bar none, and the best mouse for high-speed FPS gameplay. Its lightweight design, combined with the precision and capability of the Fusion Engine, lets you make fast, furious swipes and dominate the battlefield, proving once again that Science Wins!" The G402 will be available starting in August at an MSRP of $59.99.
Source: Press Release
The latest case offering from Thermaltake is the Core V1, a tiny case designed for motherboards up to the ITX form factor in size. The case is divided into two chambers, the upper for "cooling performance and efficiency" and the lower for the power supply and cable management. A wide range of cooling is supported including liquid cooling systems, both custom and all-in-one units. Interchangeable side panels give users the ability to customize their case for cooling or aesthetics. The Core V1 has enough space to accommodate video cards up to 260mm in length, CPU coolers up to 140mm in height, and four storage devices.
Source: Press Release
For about as long as I can remember, I have worn glasses that have corrected my vision very well. Not everyone is so lucky though, with some people actually requiring glasses or contact lenses to view displays. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have recently developed a display technology that could help these people by shifting the vision correcting to the display.
Vision correcting displays have been developed by many groups over the years by using multilayer displays and light field displays. These do not always correct the images perfectly though or can produce a sharp but low contrast image. What the Berkeley researchers have created is a light field display that takes advantage of pre-filtering to create a sharp image, without sacrificing contrast. Basically the image of the basic display is manipulated mathematically so that a pinhole screen on top of it will work with the user's eyes to produce a sharp image. The key to this work is that mathematical pre-filtering. To anyone other than that user though, the image will look quite bad.
By adding eye-tracking technology to this system, the researchers hope to address the issue of head positioning, so that no matter how the user looks at the screen, the image will be sharp. Already though they know their method can be applied to help with a variety of complex visual problems.
Source: University of California, Berkeley
Although EA Access was announced and made available to a limited number of Xbox One owners yesterday, Electronic Arts failed to reveal any relationship between the new program and the PlayStation 4. Apparently Sony is to blame for this, as a company spokesperson revealed today that Sony does not see EA Access as a valuable option for PlayStation 4 owners. According to Sony, PlayStation Plus memberships are up more than 200 percent since the initial release of the PlayStation 4, and the subscription model offers more value to gamers with PlayStation 4 consoles than EA Access does.
Due to this revelation, it seems fairly certain that EA Access will not be coming to the PlayStation 4 anytime soon.
Source: Game Informer
FinalWire, a Hungary-based software development company, has just released version 4.60 of AIDA64, a popular PC diagnostic utility that provides detailed information about hardware and software of individual or networked computers. The main focal point of the latest version is enhanced support for LCD and VFD screens, including alphanumeric, monochrome, and color panels. Some of the other enhancements found in AIDA64 4.60 include SMTP SSL support, OpenGL ES 3.1 support, improved handling of XSL files, and revamped Direct3D Compute Shader devices enumeration. Support and details have also been added for various solid state drives and graphics processing units.
Source: Press Release
Earlier today, Deep Silver and Koch Media announced that it had acquired the Homefront IP from Crytek less than a week after Crytek revealed it was going through a "transitional phase." Crytek has now released a statement that confirms the acquisition, as well as addresses the rest of the changes taking place at the company. First off, Crytek says that in accordance with English law, the Homefront team from Crytek's Nottingham studio will be transferring over to Koch Media's newly formed Deep Silver Dambuster Studios to continue their work on Homefront: The Revolution; though the deal still has to be finalized.
The other major change is that development of HUNT: Horrors of the Gilded Age will be moving from Crytek USA in Austin to Crytek Frankfurt, the company's headquarters. However, Crytek will retain a smaller presence in Austin, "with several staff members maintaining the CRYENGINE support team to assist North American licensees." Those that are not part of the support team are invited to apply for new positions at Crytek in Germany. Crytek's studios in Budapest, Istanbul, Kiev, and Sofia will be untouched, but "a closer collaboration between Crytek's studios in Shanghai and Seoul is under review."
Crytek founder and CEO, Cevat Yerli, said: "As we look to cement Crytek's future, this strategic deal with Koch Media would allow us to continue with our ambitious goals to become an online publisher. With Warface, Arena of Fate and HUNT, we believe we have the perfect portfolio and teams to make that happen. We would like to thank all our staff – past and present – in both Nottingham and Austin for their contributions to the company, and we wish all the very best to anyone who may no longer be under the Crytek banner moving forward."
Source: Official Site
Remember last week when Crytek said it wasn't in financial trouble and was simply going through a "transitional phase" from being a development studio to an "Online-Publisher"? Well now things just got a whole lot more interesting. Publisher Deep Silver and parent company Koch Media announced today that it has acquired the Homefront IP from Crytek, and that development of Homefront: The Revolution has been moved to a new studio, Deep Silver Dambuster Studios. Crytek had acquired the Homefront IP in January 2013 for over $500,000 during the THQ auction, after Crytek UK had already been working on Homefront: The Revolution before THQ went belly-up. In June, Crytek announced that the game was being co-published with Deep Silver, but apparently that falls solely on Deep Silver's shoulders now.
According to Deep Silver, Dambuster Studios is a new studio formed specifically to take over development of Homefront: The Revolution, and is located in Nottingham, UK, the same city where Crytek UK is located. It is unclear whether any Crytek UK employees are moving over to Dambuster Studios, but I doubt the locale is a mere coincidence. Deep Silver Dambuster Studios is the third development studio within the Koch Media Group, joining Deep Silver Volition (Saints Row) and Deep Silver Fishlabs (Galaxy on Fire). "We are thrilled to see another great IP joining the Deep Silver universe," says Koch Media CEO Dr. Klemens Kundratitz. "We strongly believe in the potential of Homefront: The Revolution and trust in the new team to continue the path we have been walking in the last years."
Homefront: The Revolution is being developed for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, and is expected to arrive sometime in 2015. It is unclear whether this news will affect the time table.
Source: Press Release
Batteries are a big deal today as without them we could not have cellphones, laptops, and many other advanced pieces of technologies. While batteries have enabled these technologies, they also limit them by needing to be recharged for continued use. Researchers at Stanford University have recently made a discovery that could lead to batteries with substantially greater lifespans than what you can find today.
Lithium-ion batteries are very popular today because they are rechargeable and can store a great deal of energy. Within each of these batteries is an electrolyte, containing lithium ions, an anode and a cathode, likely made of graphite of silicon. While those materials work well for the anode, researchers have known for some time that lithium would make a better anode, but lithium poses two challenges. One is that as a lithium anode would absorb lithium ions from the electrolyte, the anode would swell to such a size that it would fracture, which could lead to a short circuit as lithium ions escape from the fractures, forming dendrites. The other is that lithium is so reactive that it would use up the electrolyte and shorten the battery's lifespan. To solve both these issues, the Stanford researchers developed domes of carbon to surround the lithium anode, forming a nanosphere. As the nanospheres are flexible, they will survive the swelling but block dendrites from forming, and because they are not chemically reactive, the lithium ions will not chemically react with the anode.
Potentially a lithium anode battery could enable phones to have double or triple their current lifespan, or drop the cost of electric vehicles by requiring fewer batteries to achieve a three hundred mile range. Currently though, the cycling efficiency of the battery is not high enough for commercial use yet, but you can believe many are working to get it there.
Source: Stanford University
With release roughly three months away, Activision published the official Campaign Story Trailer for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare yesterday, showing a world in chaos and a corrupt military corporation called Atlas taking advantage of the situation and abusing its power. At the helm of that corporation is none other than Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey.
Alongside the trailer release, Activision has announced three collector's editions for the game: Atlas Pro Edition, Atlas Limited Edition, and Atlas Digital Pro Edition. All three versions include the Atlas Gorge bonus multiplayer map and Atlas Digital Content Pack, which includes the following Atlas Corporation-themed content: two weapons (Bal-27 AE Assault Rifle and Atlas 45 AE Pistol), Atlas Exoskeleton, Atlas Helmet, Atlas Player Card, five bonus Supply Drops, and a single player Exoskeleton Upgrade Token. The Atlas Pro Edition and Atlas Limited Edition also come with: a Welcome to Atlas: Advanced Soldier Manual, which includes concept artwork alongside historical and tactical information; a Collectible SteelBook "featuring premium in-game artwork"; and a digital copy of the Official Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Soundtrack. What separates the two editions is that the Atlas Pro Edition includes the CoD:AW Season Pass, which will include four action-packed DLC Map Packs. The Atlas Digital Pro Edition also includes the Season Pass, alongside the aforementioned digital content.
The Atlas Limited Edition has a suggested retail price (SRP) of $79.99, the Atlas Digital Pro Edition has an SRP of $99.99, and the Atlas Pro Edition has an SRP of $119.99. For comparison, the Standard Edition has an SRP of $59.99. The Standard Edition, Atlas Limited Edition, and Atlas Pro Edition are currently available for pre-order, while the Atlas Digital Pro Edition will be available for pre-order at an undisclosed later date.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is launching on November 4 for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, with those versions being developed by Sledgehammer Games. PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions are being developed by High Moon Studios, but it is still unclear if those will be arriving on that same day. Activision has announced that there will be a worldwide reveal of Advanced Warfare's multiplayer on August 11.
Source: Press Release
Natural gas and its components are valuable resources, but are tricky to work with because they are gases. Refining and converting the hydrocarbons into liquid fuels can be done, making storage and transport easier, but the processes involved require high pressures and temperatures. Researchers at Berkeley Lab and many other institutions have recently developed a proof-of-principle catalyst that drops the requirements, and could improve access to these liquid fuels.
Natural gas is comprised of many hydrocarbons, including methane and ethane, the latter of which can be converted into ethanol. That conversion process is expensive due to the 200-300 ºC temperature requirement, so the researchers have been working on a catalyst to ease the process. What they have developed is a metal-organic-framework (MOF) with iron attached, forming Fe-MOF-74. The structure of MOFs is like a cage, which enables them to act as a filter for other molecules, and have a large amount of surface area to absorb gases and liquids. The iron atoms inside the cages act as a catalyst for producing ethanol from ethane, reducing the temperature requirement to just 75 ºC.
With such a reduction in temperature, this discovery could drastically reduce the cost of converting natural gas into liquid fuels. Those fuels, which are generally clean burning, can then be stored and distributed more easily.
Source: Berkeley Lab
July 29, 2014
Ubisoft released a new Assassin's Creed Unity trailer today that introduces us to a young noblewoman name Elise, "determined to secure her place in the Templar dynasty amidst the chaos of the French Revolution." The trailer shows protagonist Arno Dorian racing over the rooftops and through crowds to prevent the beheading of Elise, who is apparently a central character to the game's story.
Elise will also star in the next Assassin's Creed novel by Oliver Bowden, told from her point of view and creatively titled Assassin's Creed Unity. If you still can't get enough of Elise, Ubicollectibles has designed an "Elise: The Fiery Templar" figurine, which can be assembled into a diorama with the "Arno: The Fearless Assassin" figurine.
Assassin's Creed Unity will release on October 28, 2014, for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The "Elise: The Fiery Templar" figurine will be released on October 14, while the novel will be available in November.
Source: Press Release and Facebook
Biostar has announced a series of new mini ITX motherboards with CPUs already installed, otherwise known as System on a Chip. The new boards have offerings for both Intel Bay Trail and AMD Kabini architectures with multiple options for each. A budget system will use either an Intel J1800 or AMD E-2100 in combination with a fanless design. A quad core Intel J1900 or AMD E4-5000 is a great choice for an HTPC with full 1080p playback and an HDMI connector. Other applications envisioned by Biostar include digital signage, thin clients, and kiosks.
Source: Press Release
Magnets have quite a number of uses, from entertaining and educating students to storing data. Magnetism itself is the result of the magnetic moments, or spins of particles in a material aligning. Researchers at MIT have recently found a phenomenon to do with magnons that can be used to cool magnets, remotely by a magnetic field.
Magnons are quasiparticles representing the collective spins of particles within a magnet. These quasiparticles are able to move through a magnetic when exposed to a magnetic field gradient. What the MIT researchers realized is that when the magnons move, they take heat with them, cooling part of the magnet. From this idea they built a theoretical model based on the Boltzmann transport equation, which has to do with electron transport in thermoelectrics, and plugged in numbers found in previous research papers. The results suggest that though small, the effect does create a cooling effect from a moderate magnetic field gradient.
Currently this work is purely theoretical, so we cannot expect to be cooling our electronics with it any time soon. It will likely first find a use in cryogenic systems, as the effect is more pronounced at low temperatures.
Back in January, the indie studio Two Tribes, best known for the Toki Tori series, announced that the company was being rebooted. In short, Toki Tori 2+ took way longer to develop than expected and never achieved the sales the company needed to stay afloat. Parent company Two Tribes Publishing remained intact, but the development studio shut down and a new, smaller one was created. At the time, we were told that a "much smaller team" was working on the company's next game, " a 2D side scrolling shooter, which will be re-using the existing Toki Tori 2+ engine," thus decreasing development time. Today, Two Tribes finally unveiled what that new project is: RIVE.
RIVE is "the metal wrecking, robot hacking shooter" – a 2D shooter/platformer where "players learn to alter the behavior of their robotic enemies by collecting and uploading hacks." And it's all being created by a "base team of just three people." Check out the Announcement Trailer:
RIVE will be coming to PC via Steam and "all current consoles." No release date has been stated, but the game will be playable at Gamescom next month.
Source: Press Release
Electronic Arts has just announced EA Access, a new offering to gamers that provides access to plenty of EA games as well as special perks. The new program, which is available immediately in beta form for a limited number of Xbox One players, is a subscription-based model that is specifically tailored to Xbox One owners. In the beta state four games are available, including FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2, and Battlefield 4; more games are scheduled to be added in the near future. Besides unlimited and instant access to EA titles, subscribers to EA Access receive special benefits that include 10% off purchases of EA digital content for Xbox One offered through the Xbox Games Store, 10% off membership services such as Battlefield 4 Premium, and trials of new EA games up to five days before their respective release date.
EA Access currently costs $4.99 per month or $29.99 per year. The service can be purchased through Xbox Live as soon as it is out of beta, and GameStop will even carry EA Access membership cards in local retail stores for those looking to purchase a subscription at a physical location.
Source: EA News
CNBC and FOX NOW have just been added to the Apple TV lineup as of this morning, providing owners of the device with even more entertainment and news. CNBC supports live broadcasts as well as previously aired content, though an active television subscription to providers such as AT&T, Comcast, DirecTV, DISH, or Verizon is needed. Video clips are available through the CNBC channel, however, for those without a television subscription. FOX NOW on the other hand provides access to popular shows such as American Idol, Glee, Family Guy, and The Following. FOX NOW even features full episodes of returning FOX series the day after they air, dependent on individual television provider subscriptions.
Chemical sensors are very valuable tools for many situations, including protecting against bombs at airports and other public areas. Sometimes the sensors are expensive, manmade devices, requiring well-trained users, and other times trained dogs are used. Researchers at Tel Aviv University though have developed a new sensor that is cheap and easy to operate, while being significantly better than the alternatives.
The device the researchers built is a tiny chip with clusters of transistors on it. These transistors have been designed so that when a single molecule contacts them, it binds to them and affects their conductance. This change makes it possible to detect and even identify the molecule caught from the air, all in real-time. The chip is so sensitive to the molecules, that it can detect some in concentrations approaching parts-per-quadrillion, which is orders of magnitude better than other chemical sensors, and even dogs noses.
Thus far the prototype sensor has been tested against commercial blasting and military explosives, as well as some improvised explosive materials. By being faster, cheaper, and giving users the ability to identify detected chemicals, this sensor could go a long way to keeping people safe.
Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University
BioWare plans on releasing a series of videos for Dragon Age: Inquisition that each focus on one particular gameplay feature. The first such video, released today, focuses on combat. Considering a lot of the backlash for Dragon Age 2 focused on the simplified combat and removal of the tactical view present in the PC version of Dragon Age: Origins, this seems like a good starting point for the "Gameplay Features" series. And indeed, if you played the PC version of DAO, you'll likely be very pleased by what's shown in this new video:
Dragon Age: Inquisition will launch on November 18 in North America and November 21 in Europe for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. The Standard Edition costs $59.99 for all platforms, while a Deluxe Edition is available for $69.99 and includes the following bonus content: Flames of the Inquisition Armor, Flames of the Inquisition Armored Mount, Skyhold Throne, Red Hart Halla, Bog Unicorn, and the digital soundtrack. Pre-ordering either version grants you some nice fiery weapons from the Flames of the Inquisition Arsenal.
Source: Official Site
Today we have a little bit of everything concerning gadgets and gear for your computer. First up is a review on the new NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet, a more powerful entry in the SHIELD family, and the SHIELD Wireless Controller, so you can control all your games on the tablet with ease. We also have a look at the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga Convertible laptop, which has a durable body and a touch panel that is not pure gloss. Moving along there is a review on the Icy Dock MB981U3-1S hard drive dock that connects via USB 3.0 and can support 2.5 or 3.5" drives. The Carbonic mouse pad from XTracGear gets put to the test to see how this affordable option can help improve your mouse's tracking. Wrapping things up is a guide to smartphone camera hardware, covering the key photography terms you should be aware of and how smartphones compare to traditional cameras.
NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet and Controller @ PC Perspective
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga Convertible @ PC Perspective
Icy Dock MB981U3-1S Hard Drive Dock @ ThinkComputers
XTracGear Carbonic @ Benchmark Reviews
A Guide to Smartphone Camera Hardware @ TechSpot
Information can be very overwhelming for humans, which is part of the reason computers were developed, but even they can struggle. Massive datasets can slow even the best computers, and when results of some analysis are needed urgently, that can be a problem. Researchers at MIT though have developed an algorithm that can intelligently predict what information in a dataset will be useful, without the slow task of directly analyzing it.
To achieve this, the researchers turned to a probabilistic graphical model, which abstracts data into nodes, with connecting edges representing relationships between the nodes. By knowing the strength of the connections, one can quickly target what data is most valuable, and focus on them. Determining the strength can be complicated if nodes are connected by more than one path, creating a loop. To address this, the algorithm creates a spanning tree that dispenses with the loops and turns to Gaussian distributions to avoid distortion. It turns out that the probabilities represented by the graph are Gaussian, which means they can be described by their average value and variance. The uncertainty of the problem can be determined from the variance, but that does not require actually processing the data.
What all of this adds up to is a way to identify the most important and useful information in a dataset, without having to analyze the dataset. This results in the process being significantly faster, which could be very important if, for example, it is weather data being used to predict a storm's path that is being analyzed.
July 28, 2014
NVIDIA has developed a technique that uses two display panels with slightly offset pixels to improve the picture quality of low resolution LCDs. The researchers combined two 1280x800 LCDs with a polarization filter and custom software to help the panels act as one. The result is a "cascaded display" that "quadrupled the spatial resolution of the original panels." The new display resulted in an improved picture when compared to the original panels but still fell short of the source image.
Microsoft has announced a partnership with Intel and CircuitCo to help design a low price hardware development board similar in concept to the Raspberry Pi and Arduino. The $300 board will be called Sharks Cove and is powered by a quad core Intel Atom Z3735G, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of flash storage, and a MicroSD slot. The board is more expensive when compared to other products in the marketplace, but Microsoft may be targeting different users with it. The Sharks Cove website states, "The primary target usage of the Sharks Cove board is for development of subsystems for Intel Atom based Tablets and Mobile devices, but this development board can be used for any Windows or Android based system which uses the Atom processor."
Source: Ars Technica
Superconductivity is a phenomenon many in the world have been waiting anxiously for, but achieving it is difficult. Typically the materials that can become superconducting must be cooled to very low temperatures, but the hope is to one day find or design one that would work at room temperatures. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have recently discovered an artificial crystal structure that should support superconductivity, and the principle behind it.
The structure the researchers describe is comprised of alternating layers of atomically thick layers of semiconductor and insulator. Specifically they describe the molybdenum disulfide as the two-atom thick semiconductor, with boron nitride being the few-atom thick insulator separating and cladding the semiconductor. When an electric field is applied to this structure, electrons and holes, the positively charged areas left behind by electrons, collect in the different semiconductor layers. Despite the separation, the electrons and holes are still bounded, forming indirect excitons. At a certain temperature, these excitons will achieve the coherent state of superfluidity, meaning that they will form a gas lacking any viscosity. This will also cause the phenomenon known as counterflow superconductivity.
What this all translates to is a blueprint for creating structures that become superconducting at a specific temperature. Presently that temperature is predicted to rest near that of other high-temperature superconductors, which is still pretty cold. As the blueprint can be applied to other materials though, it could lead to new understanding of superconductivity and other quantum phenomena.
Source: University of California, San Diego
Amazon has just launched its own 3D printing store, which features over 200 products for purchase from various creators of 3D printed goods such as Mixee Labs, Sculpteo, and 3DLT. The Amazon 3D Printed Products Store offers a little bit of everything, with jewelry, toys, games, tech-related items, and more all being available for purchase. Some of the items that are offered through the online store can even be customized with text and images, making each item genuinely unique. Customizations made by customers can be previewed within a new Amazon window where they can view a 360-degree image of the product being purchased, allowing for true representation of the 3D-printed product itself.
Rust is still in Early Access, but developer Facepunch Studios is already working on other games, which has stirred up a bit of controversy – although doesn't everything on the Internet these days? Let's forget for a moment that money brought in from Rust Early Access sales is going to fund other games instead of only being used to improve Rust – Facepunch's new game, Riftlight, actually looks kind of cool.
Riftlight is an arcade twin-stick shooter with "light-RPG stuff" like loot, character levels, abilities, and talent trees. Developer Adam Woolridge created a developer blog entry for the game, explaining that he wants it to be "colorful and different" and that there will be three different ship classes to choose from: Ranged, Caster, and Melee. The Ranged class would play similarly to what we've come to expect from a traditional twin-stick shooter, while the Caster will be a glass cannon, equipped with "cool spells and area of effect damage." The one that truly goes against the norm is the Melee class, which will be equipped with a close-ranged energy beam (sword) and centered around getting in close.
Each class has its own unique talent tree, which allows you to choose new abilities every few character levels. Each ability uses energy, which regenerates quickly over time, and many have cooldown timers, but each ship also has a basic attack from the start that is free to use, though generally less effective. In addition, the game will feature plenty of loot with randomly generated stats (and names). Based on the "placeholder inventory and stats screen," there seem be slots for weapon, hull, engine, shields, and power, along with three unnamed slots – definitely a lot of room for customization. Not only are the items randomly generated, but so are the maps. The plan is it to not just be random layouts, but also include random missions.
If all that sounds cool, even cooler is that you'll be able to bring along a friend...or two...or three. Online co-op for up to four players "needs a lot of improvement and more work," but it's already playable in the current alpha build. There is no ETA for a release, but Woolridge "want[s] to get a super-early playable version out so people can try it out." That won't happen until he has some more levels and content to play, nor is it clear whether that would be a demo download for free or if it would be another Early Access program.
While there's been a lot of outrage about Facepunch diverting resources to a new project, founder Garry Newman released a statement, assuring fans that Rust's development will not be affected and that the studio continues to push out new content and updates frequently for Rust. He also added more fuel to the fire, explaining that the studio actualy has "three other prototypes being worked on by Facepunch staff." A lot of the community anger stems from the fact that money from Rust is being used on these new projects, but Newman says it's no different than Apple taking money made from iPhone sales and funding development of the iPad. I'm not sure that's the best analogy considering iPhones are complete, finalized products, while Rust is not, but nevertheless, it is what it is. For better or worse, this is why Steam Early Access is such a controversial program – but hey, nobody is forcing anyone to pay for these "unfinished" games.
Source: Riftlight Devblog via PC Gamer and Newman's Blog Post
In 1985 it was discovered that carbon atoms can be arranged into a ball-like structure, dubbed buckyballs. This started scientists looking for other special carbon structures, as well as a search to determine if other elements can form similar structures. Researchers at Brown University have recently found that boron, carbon's neighbor, can, but it does have some important differences.
Buckyballs, or fullerenes are comprised of 60 carbon atoms, bound together in pentagons and hexagons. As boron has one less electron to bound with, this structure cannot be duplicated, but theoretically a cluster of 40 boron atoms could take on a different structure. Exactly what structure that would be, required extensive modelling by supercomputers, which provided binding energies for the different possible structures. These energies can act as fingerprints for molecular structures, so once the researchers produced the 40 atom clusters, they could measure what the structure is. To make the clusters, the researchers hit bulk boron with lasers, releasing a boron vapor that they then cooled with a helium jet. After isolating the clusters consisting of just 40 atoms, the researchers used another laser burst to get the binding energy.
The results showed that the boron clusters took on one of two structures, with one being like a sphere. Instead of being made of pentagons and hexagons like buckyballs, borospherene is comprised of triangles with six and seven-sided rings, with some atoms sticking out, making the structure less-than spherical. As it has only just been discovered, applications for borospherene are still unknown, though it could have potential for storing hydrogen.
Source: Brown University
As I stated last week, LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is shaping up to be the very best LEGO game yet. Part of that is no doubt helped by an amazing voice-over cast, which includes the return of Troy Baker and Travis Willingham as Batman and Superman, respectively. While their return surely pleases many fans, the one that has everyone buzzing is the addition of Adam West, voicing himself as well as 1960's Batman. To celebrate West's return to the iconic role that made him a household name, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) and TT Games has released a new behind-the-scenes Cast Trailer, featuring Baker, Willingham, West, and more. One thing that is immediately noticeable is how much each cast member enjoys this job, which definitely comes out in their work.
In addition to the video above, WBIE also released a whopping 80 new images (73 screenshots and 7 voice-over side-by-sides), which show off several characters, including multiple suits for Batman, Robin, Cyborg, Joker, and Lex Luthor. All the images are attached below.
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is expected to arrive this Fall for PC (Windows and Mac), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, with a slightly smaller version coming to PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, and iOS.
Source: Press Release
Waste heat is a problem for many systems, including car engines, power plants, and even solar cells. With solar cells the problem is not just the loss of energy as heat, but that increased temperatures decrease performance. As reported in the Optical Society's new Optica journal, researchers have found a new way to significantly cool solar cells, passively.
Sunlight is comprised of much more than just the visible light we see, and that solar cells convert to electricity. It also contains infrared light, which efficiently carries heat, and it will dump that heat onto solar panels, causing them to heat up to as much as 55 ºC (130 ºF). As even a single degree Celsius can drop the efficiency of a solar cell by half a percent, and 18 ºF can double the aging rate of a cell, such high temperatures are a problem. To address this, the researchers turned to silica glass, which is transparent to visible light, but can be shaped to manipulate infrared light. They tested both a flat layer of silica on a solar panel and a surface covered in cones and pyramids just microns in size. The more complicated surface performed significantly better than the flat surface, and nearly as well as the ideal design would.
What the complex design does is refract and redirect the infrared radiation away from the solar cell, keeping it cool. The researchers are now doing more experiments on the design and will be demonstrating their cooling scheme in an outdoor environment next.
Source: The Optical Society