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News Archives for July 2012

Weather Disables Amazon Cloud

Posted: July 1, 2012 @ time: 11:35AM
Author: CheeseMan42

A weekend storm knocked out power to millions of people on the East Coast, including an Amazon data center in Ashburn, Virginia. The storm took out both the primary power and the backup generators and rendered several popular Internet destinations unavailable for six hours. Netflix, Pinterest, and Instagram were among the biggest sites that felt the pinch due to the weather. Compounding the power outage was the Elastic Load Balancing service also going down, which then prevented the server load from being distributed across multiple data centers. Amazon hasn't said much about the outage, but hopefully more information will be available shortly.


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Sony Purchases Cloud Gaming Service Gaikai

Posted: July 2, 2012 @ time: 02:00AM
Author: bp9801

In the days and weeks leading up to E3, there was a rumor going around that Sony was on the verge of acquiring cloud gaming service Gaikai. Gaikai's CEO, David Perry, denied the rumors, including recent ones of a buyout. Now, however, all of that changes as Sony announced it has acquired Gaikai for $380 million. Sony will "establish a cloud service and expand its network business by taking full advantage of Gaikai's revolutionary technology and infrastructure including data centers servicing dozens of countries and key partners around the world." From the sound of things, Sony is gearing up to be ahead of the curve when it comes to cloud gaming, although Sony Computer Entertainment president Andrew House did not reveal any specifics.

House did say that "SCE will deliver a world-class cloud-streaming service" for games to any number of Internet-connected devices, so it is possible Sony could work Gaikai into the next PlayStation systems and even Android smartphones. Sony could add Gaikai into the PS3 and PS Vita, although it may take some time before we hear anything definitive on that front. In any event, while Sony announced the acquisition of Gaikai, the deal still needs to be approved and given the final stamp before rampant speculation can begin.

Sources: Neoseeker and Engadget


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Hardware Roundup: Monday Edition

Posted: July 2, 2012 @ time: 03:48AM
Author: Nemo

As we start another week of reviews, we get to begin with a pair of solid state drives from ADATA with its Premier Pro SP900 128GB followed by the OCZ Vertex 4 256GB unit. We also picked up another review on the Cooler Master Storm Sentinel Advance II mouse. Computer Ed brings us a look at the Corsair Vengeance C70 mid-tower case and there is more, all you have to do is follow the links posted below.

Cases
Corsair Vengeance C70: Atten-Hut! @ Computer Ed

Input Devices
Cooler Master Storm Sentinel Advance II @ LanOC Reviews

Speakers/Headsets
SteelSeries 7H Fnatic Edition Gaming Headset @ Madshrimps

Storage/ Hard Drives
OCZ Vertex 4 256GB SSD @ TechSpot
ADATA Premier Pro SP900 128GB Solid State Drive @ ThinkComputers

Miscellany
Podcast #208 @ PC Perspective


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Get Spec Ops: The Line for $24.99 on Amazon

Posted: July 2, 2012 @ time: 04:33AM
Author: edwardquilo

Spec Ops: The Line may not have made gaming headlines to rival similar big-budget shooters, but its starkly different approach to the horrors of warfare definitely deserve some of our attention. But if you're still not convinced enough to get a copy, why not download Spec Ops: The Line now from Amazon for just $24.99? That surprisingly low price doesn't mean the game's no good. While critics were quick to notice a few gaping plot holes and some gameplay issues, the grisly storyline about surviving in a desolate Dubai made the game a standout. If you're itching for a bullet-ridden combat game with little a more substance than BF3 or COD, open up that wallet and experience Spec Ops: The Line now. 


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Soapy Screen with Speaker Control

Posted: July 2, 2012 @ time: 05:36AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Belying its normally mundane tasks, soap is an amazing material with a variety of uses. Not only can it be used to clean things, but helps newborn babies breath, and structures, like highways, can be planned based on soap bubbles. Now it appears soap bubbles can be used as displays by carefully controlling the membranes reflectivity and transparency.

The soap bubble, in this case made of colloids that resist popping, can be controlled with ultrasonic speakers. These speakers are what give the membrane the needed properties to properly reflect an image, but they also allow the texture of the image to change on the fly. By varying the transparency of multiple soap screens, a three dimensional image can also be created with different images on each membrane.

This may never become the display technology of choice for computers, even though it is the thinnest display yet made, but could see use in museums and with artists. Using a polygonal frame for the membranes could make it possible to project an entire object into a space as well.

 


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Firefox OS Available in 2013

Posted: July 2, 2012 @ time: 08:12AM
Author: CheeseMan42

Mozilla has announced that it is entering into the mobile OS market with Firefox OS, formerly code named Boot to Gecko. The OS is HTML5 based and the planned phones will use an unannounced version of the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. The OS will be based on the Linux kernel and apps will run on the Gecko web browser. The Gaia UI component will be used to provide users with an interface to interact with the phone. Several carriers have signed on to carry the phones including Sprint, Deutsche Telekom, and Telecom Italia. Brazilian carrier Telefonica will be the first to get the phone next year.


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Finding Video Variations

Posted: July 2, 2012 @ time: 09:48AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Place your hands in the right spots, and it is pretty easy to feel your pulse pushing blood through your body. Look at the same spot though, and you probably will not be able to see it. This is because the variations involved are too minute and fast for the human eye and brain to discern, but a new algorithm from MIT can capture all the changing detail.

Originally the researchers were developing the algorithm just to identify color changes within a video, or between multiple still images, but they quickly discovered it could also detect motion. They then developed an algorithm specifically for detecting the variation of motion. This algorithm makes even minute motion perceptible, including the one's pulse in their wrist or the subtle breaths of premature infant. If the motion of a person's pulse cannot be seen, the heart beat can still be seen by monitoring the coloring of the skin as it flushes with fresh blood being pumped to it, and pales as the blood moves away. When compared to a more traditional medical monitor, the pulse detected by the algorithm being run on video from a regular camera (meaning not a high-speed camera) was very accurate.

Perhaps the most important use of this technology will be in medicine, for monitoring systems that do not need to touch the person. Premature babies, for example, are often fragile so even attaching sensors can be risky. Being able to just set up a camera would be much easier and safer.

 


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Total War: Rome II Arrives Next Year

Posted: July 2, 2012 @ time: 11:47AM
Author: bp9801

The Creative Assembly is at it once again. The studio famous for the Total War series has just announced the next entry as Total War: Rome II. The new game is, obviously, a sequel to the popular Rome: Total War, and focuses on building an empire once again. The Creative Assembly is aiming for a huge amount of detail and scale, with battles between "tens of thousands" of troops. Total War: Rome II will feature the "most expansive turn-based campaign and the largest, most cinematic real-time battles" of any TW game, and will even have a focus on personal storylines and decisions of the player and historical figures. Total War: Rome II has a brand new graphics engine and unit cameras to get you into the action like never before, plus naval warfare is being included. The first couple of screenshots show off a naval invasion and troops marching through a city, and I have to say the game already looks magnificent.

Total War: Rome II is scheduled to launch in the second half of next year.

Sources: Eurogamer, GameSpot, and IGN


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Part Fuel Cell, Part Battery, All Cool

Posted: July 2, 2012 @ time: 02:42PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Many a bad story starts with an empty gas tank and the only sign of humanity being a mysterious house or hotel. This same scenario can happen with non-gasoline powered vehicles too, like unmanned aerial vehicles powered by fuel cells. These UAVs often have to be designed to be as light as possible, so just adding more fuel reserves is not a viable option because of the added weight. Fortunately though, researchers at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have created a fuel cell which also acts as a battery and can provide power after the fuel has run out.

The key to this new thin film solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC) is the addition of a layer of vanadium oxide (VOx) at the anode. Typically the researchers work with SOFCs that only use platinum at the electrodes, and these can produce power for 15 seconds after running out of fuel, but the addition of the VOx layer let it last for 210 seconds, some fourteen times longer. The researchers believe this is because of one of three effects occurring within the VOx layer, but are not certain about which it specifically is.

At just three and a half minutes of battery life, this is only a proof-of-concept design at the moment, but the researchers are confident they can improve this greatly. In just two years they expect to have a device ready for application testing, such as micro-air vehicles.


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Square Enix Executive Feels a Single Blu-ray Disc May Not be Enough for Next Generation Games

Posted: July 2, 2012 @ time: 03:06PM
Author: bp9801

Blu-ray discs can hold a ton of information, with single layer discs at 25GB and dual layer at 50GB. Blu-ray XL discs can hold even more information (100GB for triple layer and 128GB for quadruple), but Square Enix's new Luminous game engine may provide some troubles. Speaking to RPGsite, Square Enix Chief Technical Yoshihisa Hashimoto and producer/director of the Luminous demo does not think a Blu-ray disc will hold all the information for its new games. The engine pulls down all the data in real-time, which has gameplay that looks on par with CG cutscenes, but Hashimoto says the data is too massive to be used in a game. The data can be compressed down small enough to fit, but Square Enix did not have the time before showing E3 demo.

Hashimoto thinks the compression will not alter the look or feel of the game, but even with the compression it may not all fit onto one Blu-ray. Whether that means a dual layer disc at 50GB or a quadruple layer BD-XL disc at 128GB is unknown, but either way, the amount of data would be staggering.


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New Catalyst to Potentially Replace Platinum

Posted: July 2, 2012 @ time: 03:18PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

A great many of the technologies we use today rely on rare and expensive materials, like indium and platinum. Platinum especially is used as a catalyst in many devices, such as catalytic converters and fuel cells of all kinds. For Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) the platinum can account for as much as 60% of the entire cost, but researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee have discovered a potential replacement that is cheaper, but just as efficient.

Nitrogen-enriched iron-carbon nanorods combine elements of other successful catalysts, to make something more effective than current contenders for a platinum replacement. This could be a major step for the development and marketing of MFCs and the related technology, Microbial Electrolysis Cells (MECs). Both MFCs and MECs use bacteria and a catalyst to remove contaminates from wastewater, but they produce different things as a result (except for cleaner water, which they both produce). The fuel cells produce an electric current that can be directly harnessed while MECs produce hydrogen gas which can be used for many things, such as fuel for other fuel cells.

This specific catalyst may not be what ultimately replaces platinum in these devices, but it might lead us to that material. By showing that nanorods can be used as an effective catalyst, other research teams may investigate other varieties of the nanostructure, and find something even better.


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Left 4 Dead 2: Cold Stream Lands July 24

Posted: July 2, 2012 @ time: 07:20PM
Author: bp9801

We can check one item off of Valve's forever in development list as the Cold Stream DLC for Left 4 Dead 2 will arrive on July 24th. The DLC contains the Cold Stream campaign and the Blood Harvest, Crash Course, Dead Air, and Death Toll campaigns from the first L4D. Valve will also allow gamers to play as any Mutation when starting a match, instead of going with whatever is selected for that week. This allows you to select user created ones as well, so you are not limited to what is included in L4D2. The studio teases some other details and surprises it will reveal closer to Cold Stream's launch, but it is anyone's guess as to what those are. I doubt it will be a sneak peek of a couple of other items relating to Half-Life, but hey, we can dream, right?


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Special Editions of Assassin's Creed III Finally Unveiled for North America

Posted: July 3, 2012 @ time: 02:41AM
Author: bp9801

Gamers in Europe have known about their three special editions of Assassin's Creed III for some time now, and some thought only Europeans would be getting that treatment. That all changes as Ubisoft has revealed some special editions of Assassin's Creed III for North America. All reigions will still receive the previously revealed Ubiworkshop Edition, but this marks the first North America-exclusive edition of the game. PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 gamers who shell out $120 for the Limited Edition will receive a 9.44" statue of Connor, an embroidered 28"x48" Assassin's Creed-inspired Colonial Flag, and a 3"x3.25" metal belt buckle.

PC gamers will only have to shell out $65 to receive the Digital Deluxe Edition, which includes George Washington's notebook, three single player missions "from the high seas to Cozumel Island in search of Captain Kidd’s fabled lost treasure," Captain of the Aquila's uniform, Colonial Assassin outfit, boarding axe, and Scottish flintlock, Redcoat/Sharpshooter characters for multiplayer, and selected audio tracks from the Assassin's Creed series.

Assassin's Creed III will arrive on October 30th (but possibly a month later for the PC). There will also be a PS3 bundle available for those who want to pick up Sony's console and get what is shaping up to be a terrific game.


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Hardware Roundup: Tuesday Edition

Posted: July 3, 2012 @ time: 05:06AM
Author: Nemo

We have a pair of cases for you to check out today. SilverStone is well known for its elegant cases and the review covers its Grandia SST-GD07B HTPC enclosure, a larger case designed to fit the latest full-length video cards. The second chassis in the roundup today is the Shinobi XL Window full-tower case from BitFenix. We also have an article on the CM Storm Sonuz gaming headset for your reading pleasure.

Cases
SilverStone Grandia SST-GD07B HTPC Enclosure @ Benchmark Reviews
BitFenix Shinobi XL Window Full-Tower Case @ Bjorn3D

Speakers/Headsets
CM Storm Sonuz Gaming Headset @ ThinkComputers


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Porous Polymer Plus Liquid Metal Equals Stretchable Electronics

Posted: July 3, 2012 @ time: 05:54AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

One thing that inhibits electronics from entering areas like clothing and even the human body is its rigidity. Bend a circuit board too much, and it breaks. Researchers have tried to create stretchable electronics, but often these can suffer from a dramatic loss of conductivity when stretched too far. Researchers at the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern University have devised a new kind of stretchable electronics that can stretch four times further than others, before breaking.

To create the device which can stretch past double its original size, the researchers used a porous and flexible polymer called poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) and filled it with a liquid metal, (EGaIn). Like other metals, EGaIn will conduct electricity, but it is a liquid at room temperature and within the polymer. Stretching the device does not risk breaking connections, in the traditional sense, as the liquid can flow to fill the channels as needed.

This could strongly impact medicine by providing an easier means to implant electronic devices into the human body. It may be awhile before we see those new devices though, but I'm sure many researchers are hard at work to bring them to reality.


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Antec High Current Pro 1000 Platinum PSU Now Available

Posted: July 3, 2012 @ time: 10:33AM
Author: bp9801

Antec has announced its High Current Pro 1000 Platinum power supply is now available worldwide. This PSU is Antec's first 1000W model to have 80PLUS Platinum certification, which means it has a minimum efficiency of 89% at 20-100% load levels. The HCP-1000 can also run at up to 94% efficiency, so this model should help with your energy bill. The HCP-1000 is a fully modular power supply that has four 12V rails delivering 40 amps each, plus the six 6+2-pin PCIe cables should ensure your graphics card needs are met. There are the usual assortment of protections on the PSU (like over current, over voltage, under voltage, etc), plus the Japanese capacitors will help deliver a stable DC load. A 135mm fan helps keep everything running cool.

The Antec HCP-1000 comes with a seven year warranty and will set you back $270.


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Silicon-Based Single Photon Source Made

Posted: July 3, 2012 @ time: 12:04PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Precision is key for many kinds of advanced technology and a lack of precision can prevent a technology from being made. For example, quantum computing requires very exact devices because they do not operate with traditional signals, but individual quanta. Researchers at the NIST, University of California, San Diego, and Politecnico di Milano have successfully created the first silicon-based heralded single photon source.

This is a major discovery for quantum computing as the field requires single photon sources, and ones made out of silicon have the advantage of a modern silicon industry capable of fabrication. The device is also able to operate at room temperature and at frequencies used for modern telecommunications. Unfortunately a single photon source is not quite bright enough for what will be needed in quantum computers, but combining them should take care of that.

Other silicon-based optical components have been made recently, including single photon detectors and interferometers, which will be needed for controlling photon entanglement. Ultimately it will be a combination of all of these devices on a single chip that will have practical applications.


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Microsoft Now Owns More Xbox Domain Names, Including Two for Xbox 8

Posted: July 3, 2012 @ time: 02:05PM
Author: bp9801

Microsoft sure likes to cover its bases and leave the gaming community wondering just what it has planned. Back in March, some Xbox FL domains were registered and now some other Xbox domains have passed into its ownership. Microsoft has won some disputes against a Chinese resident over various Xbox domains and now owns Xbox8.us, Xbox8.org, and even some for Xbox Live TV, Xbox Phone, and Xbox Tablet. Those last three are understandable to secure rights to, especially Xbox Live TV, but it is the Xbox 8 ones that raise the eyebrow. Microsoft has brought the Metro UI to the current Xbox 360, and with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 both making use of that UI, an Xbox 8 would follow the same naming scheme. It would also throw conventional naming schemes out of whack, since we would go from Xbox to Xbox 360 to Xbox 8, but hey, maybe Microsoft wants to make a statement about the unified Windows 8 landscape.

There are other Xbox domains currently registered that Microsoft is engaged in disputes with, but no complaint has been filed against the owner of Xbox8.com (another Chinese resident). This could all just be Microsoft wanting to own every domain related to Xbox, but we just have to see where this Xbox 8 stuff goes.


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Bouncing Balls for a Random Laser

Posted: July 3, 2012 @ time: 02:19PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Lasers are often thought of as these exact beams of light that precisely travel in a straight line, but this is not always the case, like with random lasers. All modern lasers work by having a lasing material which produces light between two mirrors, so the emitted light passes through the material many times, which causes more light to be emitted. Often these mirrors are aligned to produce a straight, coherent beam, but random lasers instead project light out in all directions thanks to tiny grains.

The grains in a random laser are essentially mirrors that have been embedded in a lasing medium. Previous attempts to create such random lasers have used such small grains that they are hard to control and susceptible to temperature changes. Now a group of researchers have built a random laser on top of a subwoofer with large grains, roughly one millimeter in diameter. These grains you would normally expect to just sink in the medium, and not have enough distance between them to make a laser. That is where the subwoofer comes in as it precisely vibrates the grains, throwing them into suspension.

The precision the subwoofer offers also allows the frequency of the emitted light to be controlled. The frequency of the light is mathematically limited by the distance between two grains or mirrors. Not only can the frequency be shifted though, but a laser chord can be made whereby two frequencies of light are produced.


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EA to be Fully Digital in Future, According to an Executive

Posted: July 3, 2012 @ time: 08:04PM
Author: bp9801

Love it or hate it, EA's Origin service has had a one year anniversary. Origin is essentially a competitor to Valve's Steam service, and given time could stack up pretty well. It should have plenty of time to grow and expand, as EA Labels president Frank Gibeau believes EA will be "100% digital" in the future. Gibeau says EA has a "clear line of sight" on being fully digital and the move is "inevitable," but did not say anything further as to when we can expect everything to be delivered via Origin. However, EA will not abandon retail locations right away and said the company will deliver to wherever consumers want to buy games. Gibeau also talked about NPD and said it is "an irrelevant measurement" because of the lack of digital game sales. NPD only counts sales numbers from physical locations and excludes digital ones, which Gibeau says EA no longer looks at to measure success. If EA and potentially others move to purely digital game sales, then the NPD will have to evolve. I do hope the switch to digital for all games will become commonplace, as I rather like not having to use a disc whenever I want to play a game.


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Smallest 3D Optical Cavity Made

Posted: July 3, 2012 @ time: 08:06PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Optical cavities are used in many things including lasers, LEDs, and optical sensors. These structures are specifically made to create standing light waves, by reflecting the wave back and forth between its sides. Natural optical cavities are limited in their capabilities though, because some light will leak out, but with metamaterials not only can the leakage be reduced, but the entire thing can be taken to subwavelength sizes.

Researchers at Berkeley Lab have built the world's smallest 3D optical cavity using indefinite metamaterials. This class of metamaterials is capable of having light refract backwards, which is impossible with normal materials. It is this property which allowed the researchers to make the cavity much smaller than the wavelength of the light it holds, and potentially much smaller. The physics of the design will actually cause the cavity to leak less as it gets smaller.

The small size and quality the cavity opens up many possibilities from lasers to optical sensors. Smaller cavities have a higher photon density which means there is more light to interact with matter.


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Halo 4 Needs At Least an 8GB Install for Multiplayer

Posted: July 4, 2012 @ time: 01:44AM
Author: bp9801

If other console games follow Halo 4's lead, then development may just shift entirely to PC and everything can be ported over to consoles. Microsoft has confirmed at least an 8GB install for the multiplayer portion of Halo 4. The company "highly recommends" using a hard drive for the "optimal experience," but you can get by with an 8 or 16GB flash drive. Owners of Core, Arcade, and 4GB models can use a pre-configured Xbox 360 flash drive or configure one of your own, but again Microsoft says a hard drive is the best option. Microsoft did not say why Halo 4's multiplayer needs at least 8GB of space, but it could be a way to ensure the maps and game modes are always ready to go. Halo 4 will launch on November 6th and I imagine the news of the 8GB install is a way to avoid confusion on launch day.


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The $44,000 Watch Crafted from Wooly Mammoth Ivory

Posted: July 4, 2012 @ time: 04:54AM
Author: edwardquilo

Buying a watch carved out of genuine ivory can be really tricky, but what if you could buy one that's based on tusks 10,000 years old? That's what Lang & Heyne are offering for the discerning millionaire watch collector, a $44,000 timepiece that uses ivory from a wooly mammoth buried for 10,000 years in Russian permafrost. All that extremely rare ivory is incorporated within the watch's innards, so every extinct fragment is put to good use. There are currently 25 limited edition watches available in a Friedrich August I or Johann von Sachsen variant, so if you've got $44,000 to spare, why not grab one before the endangered timepiece permanently disappears from Lang & Heyne's shelves?
 


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Higgs Boson Likely Discovered, At Last

Posted: July 4, 2012 @ time: 08:06AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

"We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of 5 sigma, in the mass region around 126 GeV." This quote from Fabiola Gianotti of the ATLAS experiment, which worked with CERN for this research, captures the importance of this discovery. The 126 gigaelectron-volts is in the narrow range of energies the Higgs boson is expected to be at and 5 sigma means the likelihood of this result being an error is so remote, it can be considered a scientific fact.

The Higgs boson is one of the few remaining particles predicted by the Standard Model to be discovered. It is very important for it to be discovered to confirm the Standard Model as being an accurate way to describe the particles in the Universe and to explain how other particles have mass. The thinking is that there exists a Higgs field, which all matter interacts with, and these interactions cause a particle to have mass. If you disturb the Higgs field enough though, with high energy particle collisions for example, it should produce its bosons, similar to how disturbing an electromagnetic field will produce photons, another boson.

While the results released today are a big shot in the arm for those searching for the Higgs boson, the celebrations for the discovery may be misplaced in the end. Without a doubt, the researchers at CERN, ATLAS, and CMS have found a new particle, but these preliminary data do not tell us anything about its behavior. There is still a possibility some other previously undiscovered and unpredicted particle has been found. Only a great deal more analysis and new experiments will determine that.


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Hardware Roundup: Wednesday Edition

Posted: July 4, 2012 @ time: 08:11AM
Author: Nemo

If you are looking to augment the wireless coverage in your home or office, devices such as the Edimax EW-7438RPn N300 Universal Wi-Fi Extender purportedly can fill in some of those blank spots, just do not expect them to be able to stream high definition media streams. The AMD FX-8120 eight-core processor comes with a base clock speed of 3.1GHz, but offers a fair amount of overclocking headroom for those wanting a mainstream processor for around $170US. We also have a chance to check out the Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 micro-ATX motherboard based on Intel's Z77 Express chipset.

CPUs
AMD FX-8120 CPU @ Madshrimps

Motherboards
Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3 LGA 1155 Micro ATX Motherboard @ PC Perspective

Networking
Edimax EW-7438RPn N300 Universal Wi-Fi Extender @ ThinkComputers


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New NVIDIA Drivers Target The Secret World Players

Posted: July 4, 2012 @ time: 08:24AM
Author: CheeseMan42

NVIDIA released the GeForce 304.79 beta drivers yesterday and the update includes a number of new features. The major highlight of this update is the inclusion of support for TXAA anti-aliasing which offers "higher levels of fidelity than MSAA and FXAA." This new anti-aliasing technique is limited to GTX 600 series cards and game support is currently limited to the new MMORPG, The Secret World. In addition to TXAA, NVIDIA has also included a number of new multi-GPU SLI profiles and several fixes for issues found in the 304.48 drivers.


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Catching an Atom's Shadow

Posted: July 4, 2012 @ time: 12:29PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Some of you may recall from February a news item about an image being made of the shadow of an atom at Griffith University. Well the university is back again with another image of the shadow of an atom, but this one is a little different. The earlier image was taken from the top down, showing the shadow's pattern, but this new one was taken in line with the atom, as the image below shows.

To take this picture, the researchers had to use ultra-precise instruments and an ultra-high-resolution microscope. Holding the atom in place long enough for a picture was the first challenge to overcome, but it was not the last and has been achieved before. The researchers also had to use a light source with a specific frequency because being off by even one part in a billion, will cause the shadow to disappear.

Other than just being a cool image, the researchers also made advances in atomic physics by observing how much light atoms will absorb. This kind of observation may help in biomicroscopy as it is important to not use too much light when looking at cells in molecules, as too much light can kill the cell.


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European Court of Justice Says it is OK to Resell Your Digital Software

Posted: July 4, 2012 @ time: 02:55PM
Author: bp9801

The issue of used game sales has been a hot topic for a while, with online passes and DRM stepping in to try and prevent resale. Publishers want to sell you a brand new game, and while console gamers can always buy used if they so choose, PC gamers are pretty much restricted to new copies. That may soon change, as the European Court of Justice has ruled the resale of digital software cannot be restricted by the creator. This basically means games bought digitally can be sold to someone else instead of staying with you forever. This is just a preliminary ruling as a national court has to enforce it, but it is a step in the right direction. This ruling is also about Oracle's tools and not games specifically, but it can be applied to the latter.

Selling DRM-free games should not be an issue provided you permantently delete the original copy off your system, but games that have DRM are a bigger problem. The European Union does not allow DRM games to be resold due to anti-circumvention rules. The kicker is forcing all games to have DRM would be against this preliminary ruling since it restricts preventative action, but the courts would need to be sure the DRM is not there just to combat piracy. It will be interesting to see what happens in the long run with this ruling and whether it comes to pass. I imagine digital game and software stores will fight it as much as possible, so we just have to see where it goes.


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Final Fantasy VII to be Re-released on the PC - Announcement Trailer Launches

Posted: July 5, 2012 @ time: 02:16AM
Author: bp9801

It has been 14 long years since Final Fantasy VII first appeared on computers, and 15 years since the game was released on the PlayStation. The latter version is the one most people associate with the game because, quite frankly, the PC port just was not that great. It had numerous bugs and was not optimized all that well, but a lot can change over the years, and hopefully for the better. Square Enix has confirmed the rumors (mostly) and will re-release Final Fantasy VII on the PC later this year (hopefully). As was rumored, this re-release will include achievements you can compare against friends, cloud saving, and a "character booster" to give you maximum HP, MP, and Gil levels. That seems like a bit of an easy way out for some gamers, but maybe it is designed to remove the grinding associated with JRPGs.

The upcoming Final Fantasy VII will also be updated and optimized for modern PCs, but this is not a full-on HD remake. Minimum specifications are: Microsoft Windows XP/Vista/7 (32/64-bit), 2GHz Processor or faster, 1GB RAM, and a DirectX 9-compatible graphic card. Give and get, I suppose, but hey, if Square Enix removes all those bugs from the original PC version then count me in. It will be available only from the Square Enix online store instead of any digital distributor, which is a bit odd to say the least and goes against the Steam rumor. There is no price mentioned, but I imagine it will not be much more than $10.


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Hardware Roundup: Thursday Edition

Posted: July 5, 2012 @ time: 03:52AM
Author: Nemo

Our roundup features a couple of input devices for you to read about today. First up is the CM Storm Sentinel Advance II and CM Storm Speed-RXL, a gaming mouse/mousepad combination from Cooler Master. Next up is the Imperator Pro gaming keyboard from Genius, with backlighting, profile keys and other features suited for gaming.

Input Devices
Cooler Master CM Storm Sentinel Advance II & CM Storm Speed-RXL @ Neoseeker
Genius Imperator Pro Gaming Keyboard @ Benchmark Reviews


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Room Temperature Qubits Lasted 2 Seconds

Posted: July 5, 2012 @ time: 05:12AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

The quest to make quantum computing a reality has many challenges, including bringing out the quantum nature of things at reasonably achievable temperatures. Full laboratories may be able to reach for 0 K, but quantum computers will need to be useable outside of the laboratory. Researchers at Harvard University have made a discovery that may bring a key part of quantum computing to room temperature.

Using ultra-pure diamonds grown in the laboratory, the researchers used pairs of impurities to create qubits that lasted for 2 seconds at room temperature. Two seconds may not sound long, but it is one million times longer than previous systems, and may not be a record for long. The researchers are confident the only reason it did not last longer is because of technical issues that they can overcome.

It is hard to predict when we may see the creation of practical quantum computing because of all the various technologies that will have to be developed, but this is a major step towards that. From actual quantum computers to networks with quantum encryption, the development of solid-state room temperature qubits is important.


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Transformers: Fall of Cybertron Trailer Features the Gigantic Metroplex

Posted: July 5, 2012 @ time: 09:03AM
Author: edwardquilo

High Moon Studios is clearly doing a lot of things right with Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. The entire Dinobot lineup? Check. Five evil Combaticons merging into the powerful Bruticus? Check. But having an entire city transform into the massive Autobot protector Metroplex will be an epic game-changer to this awesome sequel, which is due to come out on PC and consoles this August 21st. Hopefully the devs will have something meatier for PC gamers this time around, such as higher framerates, customizable controls and graphics options, which its predecessor lacked. 

 


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Rough Surfaces Boil Water Better

Posted: July 5, 2012 @ time: 09:46AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

As overclockers we all know how important it is to keep the heat down, so we invest in air or water-based cooling systems for our computers. Researchers at MIT have found that for phase-change cooling systems, rougher surfaces can improve their efficiency. This finding may not impact the normal home computer, but server farms and other large systems could benefit.

Only recently developed technologies have allowed the researchers to examine how roughness impacts heat transfer. By precisely engineering the surfaces of silicon wafers, the researchers were able to study how well they conduct heat to water which boils away. They found that rougher surfaces allowed for a line of vapor bubbles to stay close to the surface, and pull heat away with them. In fact, the effectiveness of the bubbles pulling heat away is almost completely dominated by the roughness of the surface.

Large-scale high-performance electronics may see the greatest benefit from this finding as new phase-change coolers are designed for them, but other technologies may utilize it as well. Solar power, power plants, and desalination systems may all be able to use this research for their various reasons boil water.


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Super Slim PlayStation 3 on the Way?

Posted: July 5, 2012 @ time: 12:34PM
Author: bp9801

Sony likes to release updated versions of its gaming systems that are a little smaller and more efficient. We already have the PlayStation 3 Slim, but now it looks like an even smaller version could be on the way. A recent filing with the FCC mentions a 4000 series PS3, which is an update over the current 3000 series (PS3 Slim). No exact dimensions were listed in the filing, but a rumor is going around this will be a super slim PS3 that will somehow be even smaller than the current one. The rumor says Sony will announce the super slim PS3 at Gamescom next month, which could have some credence considering that is where Sony announced the PS3 Slim in 2009. At E3 last month, Sony's Shuhei Yoshida did not confirm or deny an even smaller PS3 could happen, so take from that what you will.


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Molecular Magnetic Switching for Potential Data Storage

Posted: July 5, 2012 @ time: 03:09PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Traditionally data is stored using magnetic materials, like those in a hard disk drive. While these systems have been reliable for some time, they are starting to hit the limit of their abilities. To store more information on a platter in an HDD, the bits have to be made smaller, but smaller bits are more susceptible to changes in those around them. To get around this, researchers are looking to step back from magnetism and start using electricity as well, and those at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology with partners at Strasbourg and Japan, have successfully used electricity to flip the magnetic state of a single molecule.

At the center of an organic molecule is a single iron atom. Using an electric pulse the researchers altered the conductive and magnetic state of the metal-organic molecule without disturbing those around it. Considering the current size of a bit is roughly three million atoms, getting it down to a single molecule like this is very impressive.

Of course, this is currently just something in a laboratory, as the researchers had to use an electron microscope to produce the pulse to flip the bit. However, this research shows the potential for spin crossover molecules, like this, which combine properties of memristors and spintronics in a way that can be used for data storage.


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Corsair Announces New Solid State Drives

Posted: July 5, 2012 @ time: 05:05PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Corsair has announced an addition to its vast lineup of solid state drives, the Force Series GS SSDs. The drives are controlled by the popular SandForce SF-2200 SSD controller, and feature the SATA 6Gb/s connector in a 2.5" form factor. The addition of toggle NAND flash will boost random write speeds and help give these drives the "fastest overall performance" in the Corsair lineup. The drives will be available in capacities of 180GB, 240GB, 360GB, and 480GB and will range in price from $189.99 to $489.99.


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From Fusion to Microchips

Posted: July 5, 2012 @ time: 05:19PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Modern electronics are made using a photolithographic system that etches circuitry into silicon using ultraviolet light. For now this method works quite well, but the 193 nm light is just too big to keep up with Moore's Law. Extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) light sources with a 13.5 nm wavelength will have to be developed for electronics to continue shrinking, but making this light is very difficult as it requires working with plasmas. Luckily some plasma researchers at the University of Washington have decided to take what they know from their fusion research to develop impressive EUV light sources.

Current systems to produce EVU emitting plasmas are only able to do so for about 20-50 nanoseconds, but the UW researchers were able to sustain a plasma for 20-50 microseconds, roughly 1000 times longer. To achieve this, the researchers used a design similar to theirs for fusion reactors that use a current to control the plasma, instead of giant magnets.

In order to market this new technique, the researchers have spun a company, Zplasma, off from the university. Hopefully it and other EUV systems will be able to expand into the industry before modern fabrication techniques hit their wall.


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HD Remake of NiGHTS Into Dreams... Confirmed

Posted: July 5, 2012 @ time: 05:19PM
Author: bp9801

The Sega Saturn was a console with many great titles released for it. There are plenty of titles that illicit fond memories, but one of the most unique experiences was the one offered by NiGHTS into dreams...; a fan-favorite platformer due to its innovative design and 3D gameplay. NiGHTS released 16 years ago today on the Sega Saturn, and to comemorate the occasion, Sega has announced NiGHTS into dreams... will receive an HD remake. NiGHTS will release this Fall on PC, PlayStation Network, and Xbox Live Arcade, and includes all the original levels in HD resolution. Trophies/achievements and leaderboards are being added in to see how you stack up against your friends. There is also an optional Saturn Mode that will let you experience the classic graphics for those feeling nostalgic.


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Check Your System for DNSChanger

Posted: July 5, 2012 @ time: 05:24PM
Author: CheeseMan42

Internet superpowers Google and Facebook have been leading the charge to warn users about the DNSChanger malware that could prevent users from accessing the Internet starting Monday. That is when law enforcement authorities will shut down a server that was used by a group of Eastern European cyber criminals that used it for a "crooked advertising operation." Through the outreach from these companies, the number of users infected by the malware has dropped "from more than 500,000 to less than 70,000 in the United States." Be sure to check your system using a free or pay utility that targets malware before Monday to ensure that you don't find yourself disconnected from the Internet.


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Microsoft Executive Says Wii U is 'Effectively' an Xbox 360

Posted: July 6, 2012 @ time: 02:04AM
Author: bp9801

The upcoming Nintendo Wii U certainly has the potential to be a good system, but we still lack concrete information to push that one way or the other. If you happen to listen to Microsoft, the Wii U is nothing special in terms of performance. Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios, says the Nintendo Wii U is "effectively" an Xbox 360 when you look at the graphics performance. The Wii U Pro Controller "makes a lot of sense" with the Nintendo console because it is so similar to the 360, which could make the console a haven for Xbox 360 ports. The Pro Controller pretty much does mimic the 360's controller, so it would make sense for ports to appear. Plenty of the Wii U games that will come out are in fact ports, but there are some new IPs like ZombiU. Spencer did have kind words to say about ZombiU and liked how Ubisoft is utilizing the second screen of the Wii U's GamePad. He just does not feel the console itself is anything special. I think we will just have to see for ourselves whenever the Wii U comes out.


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Hardware Roundup: Friday Edition

Posted: July 6, 2012 @ time: 05:28AM
Author: Nemo

Today's roundup contains an article looking at some of the features of the upcoming refresh of the AMD Bulldozer processor. In the storage arena, we get a chance to read up on an external RAID enclosure from Akitio along with a review of the OCZ Vertex 4 256GB solid state drive. The Nexus 7 tablet runs the Android "Jelly Bean" operating system and has a 7-inch display and seems to be targeted directly at the Kindle Fire segment of the market. Check out the review to see if Amazon has some true competition.

CPUs
AMD, Vishera, and Beyond: New Design Philosophy Dictates a Faster Pace @ PC Perspective

Notebooks/Tablets
Google Nexus 7 Tablet @ TechSpot

Software
Hands On: VideoLAN Releases Beta VLC for Android App @ PC Perspective

Storage/Hard Drives
Akitio Taurus Mini Super-S LCM RAID Enclosure @ ThinkComputers
OCZ Vertex 4 256GB (VTX4-25SAT3-256G) @ Bjorn3D


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Robot Walks Like a Man

Posted: July 6, 2012 @ time: 06:06AM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

I can still remember a talk I attended about eight years ago that covered, in part, how inefficient the human gait is. Despite this, researchers still work to try to emulate it and some, as reported by the Institute of Physics, have made the most accurate robotic legs yet.

Okay, so if how people walk is inefficient, why would robots be built to mimic it? To learn more about how humans learn to walk. We cannot experiment on infants to see what parts are needed to learn to walk, but we can on a robot. The central pattern generator (CPG) is a fundamental part of the human walking system, and the researchers successfully reproduced it, in its simplest form, in the robot. With just two 'neurons' firing one after the other, the hips were ordered to move, and sensors within the legs move them to keep the robot moving. The resulting movement is similar to what we see in infants who have not developed as complex a CPG yet.

The research into the network within the robot may help us understand the neural network in our own bodies. This knowledge potentially could help those with spinal cord injuries by explaining how they can learn to walk again.

 


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Sapphire Holding New Contest to Win an HD 7970 Toxic

Posted: July 6, 2012 @ time: 01:33PM
Author: bp9801

Sapphire Technology likes to be active with the community, and what better way to show fan appreciation than by having a contest? Starting on July 10th, Sapphire will hold a Facebook contest to win an AMD HD 7970 Toxic; the newest card from the company. The contest will run until July 17th, so you only have a week to enter. All you need to do is head to the Sapphire Facebook page, click on the Sapphire Evo application, take a photo of your Sapphire video card, and send it in. That is all you have to do to be entered for the HD 7970 Toxic, which comes with higher clockspeeds and improved cooling over regular HD 7970s. You can also take a look at Sapphire's past video cards on its Facebook page to see how much the company has advanced over the years.


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Lawyerbot: Name Says it All

Posted: July 6, 2012 @ time: 01:35PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Lawyering is not as easy as some television shows may make you think, nor is it as exciting. Really a fair portion of it can require reading or hiring someone to read a lot for you. It may be evidence or law books that have to be read, but it still can take a great deal of time and effort to do so. To speed the process along, and cut costs, some lawyers are now looking to software for document analysis, and courts are allowing it.

In one case there were an estimated two million emails and attachments to be examined, which would have taken 20,000 hours to read and cost $2 million in the process. The lawyer decided to use a bot with predictive coding to study the documents and identify which were relevant and which were not. The opposing lawyer objected to this, but the judge overturned the objection, and allowed the bot to be used, and thus cut the discovery time down to just two weeks and a percentage of the cost.

There are some concerns about whether a piece of software can be as competent at finding relevant documents as humans, but evidence is showing the bots can be more competent than people. In the Enron corpus a bot successfully found a document that said, "I'll be shredding ' till 11am" which the humans had all missed. The hope for these bots is that they will allow lawyers to attract more clients as legal costs can be greatly reduced. As long as the bots can be validated and defended in court, this hope may come true.


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PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Lands October 23, 2012

Posted: July 6, 2012 @ time: 04:21PM
Author: bp9801

Good news everyone, as we finally have a release date for PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. When the fighting game was announced this April, there was just a "later this year" launch window attached to it. Now, we can pick up PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale on October 23rd for the PS3 and PS Vita. No matter which version you pick up, you will be able to battle friends on either system thanks to cross-play. Anyone who pre-orders the game (even those who already have) will gain access to an alternate set of costumes for the characters, which you can use as soon as you pick up your copy. The photo below shows the costumes for the eight confirmed characters and two mystery characters set to be unveiled in a matter of hours, but Sony assures there will be far more than 10 playable characters in the game (wait for Comic-Con!). You can also unlock a ton more costumes for the characters while playing the game, but the alternate set shown below is only through pre-order.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale will have the price revealed later for both the PS3 and PS Vita versions. For those interested in owning both versions, it seems a PS3/Vita bundle will be announced in the near future. There will be no special edition of the game, but there may be a digital version that will work on both the PS3 and PS Vita.


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New Quantum State Found

Posted: July 6, 2012 @ time: 05:00PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

A classic lesson taught to us in school is that opposites attract and likes repel, and this is easily demonstrated with magnets. Unfortunately in science it is not always so simple. In superconductors we have like-charged electrons pairing together, in protons and nucleons we have quarks with three distinct charges (red, green, and blue), and now researchers at Kansas State University have discovered a quantum state that has three atoms bound together, even if two repel each other.

Three-atom quantum states have been found before, and the similar Efimov three-body state was first predicted in the 1970s. It took 30 years for it to be experimentally observed because it requires temperatures within a billionth of a degree above absolute zero. This new state also only exists at such a low temperature, but it has at least one crucial distinction from the Efimov state; its range. The Efimov state requires the atoms be very close to each other to interact. What KSU found operates at a greater distance, but is not quite long-range, which makes it very interesting.

For centuries researchers have been trying to understand three body problems, with the most obvious example being the Sun, Earth, and Moon. Unfortunately a perfect description of how these three classical bodies interact has not been discovered yet, because the system is too complex, even with just three bodies. In quantum mechanics though, the three body problem is (ironically) not as hard to work with. As this state exists on the cusp between short-range quantum mechanics and long-range classical mechanics, it may help create a link between the two realms. Also this discovery can further our understanding of particle physics as the researchers learn how different classes of particles behave in it.


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Heihachi and Toro Join the PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Cast

Posted: July 6, 2012 @ time: 07:30PM
Author: bp9801

Earlier we found out that PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale will arrive on October 23 of this year, but that was not all Sony had set to reveal today. At the Evolution Championship Series in Las Vegas tonight, Sony revealed two new characters for Battle Royale: Heihachi Mishima and Toro Inoue. Heihachi is, of course, one of the main characters from the Tekken fighting game series and should fit in just fine with PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. He will be able to use his familiar moves in the game and should be one of the more formidable characters around. Toro Inoue, on the other hand, is known as the Sony Cat and is a big mascot in Japan. He has made some video game appearances throughout the years, but now you will be able to fight as him in Battle Royale. Toro can excel in close-range and ranged combat, plus his unique style should be a joy to see in fights.

Be sure to check out the trailer below to see the ten announced fighters (so far) in action. You can see Heihachi and Toro in their own trailers as well.


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Looking to Nature for Solar Energy Efficiency

Posted: July 6, 2012 @ time: 07:30PM
Author: Guest_Jim_*

Nature is old and has been conducting experiments far longer than man. In fact, man is just the result of an experiment by Nature. Now man is looking to benefit from other experiments by studying the light-capturing method of some deep-sea bacteria which can achieve 98% efficiency for harvesting sunlight.

Using double-walled nanotubes, researchers at MIT, Humboldt University of Berlin, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Groningen have emulated the light receptors of green sulfur bacteria. These nanotubes are able to self-assemble like other nanostructures, but do so with great purity. This is a major benefit to the researchers as they do not need to separate out the highest quality nanotubes, because they are all high quality.

As part of the study, the researchers deactivated one of two walls of the nanotube. This was important to answer the question of how if the two walls work together or can be considered separate systems. The latter is the case and it is this kind of information that is of interest. The nanotubes themselves are not something that could be used for solar power production (at least at this time) but what can be learned from them could greatly improve other solar power technologies, which are closer to 20% efficiency than 98%.


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Petition to Add Playable Female Characters in Aliens: Colonial Marines Reaches 2,500 Signatures

Posted: July 7, 2012 @ time: 02:15AM
Author: bp9801

The Aliens series of movies is known to have female characters in vital roles. The main female is series' protagonist Ellen Ripley, but we also have Newt, Vasquez, Ferro, Lambert, The Alien Queen, and some from Alien: Resurrection I would rather not name. The point is, the Aliens movies have females in prominent roles, yet the upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines game does not have any playable female characters in the multiplayer portion. Some gamers have noticed this and created a petition to add in female characters to multiplayer. Currently, the petition is over 2,500 signatures as of writing and shows no sign of slowing down. The creator of the petition, user MOOSH89, says she is not outraged at the lack of playable females in the multiplayer, but wants Gearbox to recognize the important role females have played in the series. Gearbox does not seem to have any problem with playable females in the Borderlands games, so hopefully it will listen to the petition and get the matter corrected in Aliens: Colonial Marines.


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Borderlands 2 on the PS Vita? Gearbox's Randy Pitchford Wants Someone to Make it Happen

Posted: July 7, 2012 @ time: 02:45AM
Author: bp9801

Wouldn't it be nice to continue your PlayStation 3 playthrough of Borderlands 2 on your PlayStation Vita whenever you are away from home? Gearbox president Randy Pitchford thinks so, but the only problem is the studio is too busy working on the PC, PS3, and 360 versions of the game. Pitchford would like an outside developer to make Borderlands 2 for the PS Vita and for Sony to get behind the franchise in general. He loves the cloud connectivity offered by the PS3 and PS Vita and hopes Sony can be given the proper push to make a Vita version of the upcoming shooter a reality. Pitchford says the idea is possible from a technological standpoint, just it needs the support to become a reality. He calls on gamers to get Sony interested in the idea because, while Gearbox is busy, Pitchford knows other developers could have an easy time making a PS Vita port of Borderlands 2. It would certainly be a welcome option for PS3/Vita gamers if it does happen.


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