Space

Kepler's "Superflare" Stars Sport Huge, Angry Starspots 25

Posted by samzenpus
from the a-thousand-different-kinds-of-angry dept.
astroengine writes: Astronomers studying stars like our sun that are known to generate powerful "superflares" have also discovered that these superflares are likely associated with monster "starspots." In 2012, using Kepler Space Telescope data — which is usually associated with the detection of exoplanets as they drift (or transit) in front of their host stars — astronomers were able to identify several hundred superflare events on a number of sun-like stars. These gargantuan events kicked out flares with 10-10,000 times more energy than our sun is able to muster. Keeping in mind that these stars are sun-like stars, what makes them such superflare powerhouses? Why is our sun such a featherweight in comparison? In an effort to understand the dynamics of superflare stars and perhaps answer these questions, astronomers from Kyoto University, University of Hyogo, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) and Nagoya University turned to the High Dispersion Spectrograph on the Subaru Telescope, located atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii, to carry out spectroscopic measurements of 50 of Kepler's superflare targets. And they found that all the superflare stars possessed huge starspots that completely dwarf our sun's sunspots.
United Kingdom

Microsoft Invests In Undersea Cable Projects 41

Posted by samzenpus
from the under-the-sea dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft announced today that it will partner with a group of telecom companies in order to build new undersea cables. A new cable will connect data centers in China, South Korea, and Japan to the West Coast. Microsoft hopes the New Cross Pacific (NCP) Cable Network will improve connection speeds and boost its competitiveness in cloud computing. They also made deals with Hibernia and Aqua Comms, to invest in a cable with each company connecting Microsoft's datacenter infrastructure from North America to Ireland and the United Kingdom. A company announcement reads in part: "Additionally, we joined a consortium comprised of China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Chunghwa Telecom, KT Corporation with TE SubCom as the cable supplier. As part of our participation in the consortium, Microsoft will invest in its first physical landing station in the US connecting North America to Asia. The New Cross Pacific (NCP) Cable Network will provide faster data connections for customers, aid Microsoft in competing on cloud costs, all while creating jobs and spurring local economies. The goal of our expansions and investments in subsea cables is so our customers have the greatest access to scale and highly available data, anywhere."
Earth

Can Earthquakes Be Predicted Algorithmically? 94

Posted by timothy
from the hindsight-is-excellent dept.
An anonymous reader with this story about a practical application of big data analysis as applied to the trove of sensor readings taken by satellites and by ground-based senosrs. A company called Terra Seismic says that earthquakes can be predicted 20-30 days before they occur, by sifting data for thermal, ionic, and other abnormalities in areas where quakes are considered likely. Says the linked article: "The company claims to have successfully predicted a number of earthquakes. For example, on 5th of April 2013, the firm issued a forecast for Japan. On 12th April 2013, an earthquake hit the identified area and 33 people were injured. On 4th June 2013, the firm again made a prediction for an earthquake in North Italy. On 21st June, an earthquake hit the identified area. On 3rd March 2013, the firm issued a forecast for an earthquake in Iran. Again, after 35 days, an earthquake hit the identified area."
Government

Extreme Secrecy Eroding Support For Trans-Pacific Partnership 169

Posted by Soulskill
from the gee-that's-a-shame dept.
schwit1 writes with news that political support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership is drying up because of the secrecy involved in developing it. Members of Congress can read the bill if they want, but they need to be located in a single room within the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center, and they can't have their staff with them. They can't have a copy, they can't take notes, and they can only view one section at a time. And they're monitored while they read it. Unsurprisingly, this is souring many members of Congress on the controversial trade agreement.

"Administration aides say they can’t make the details public because the negotiations are still going on with multiple countries at once; if for example, Vietnam knew what the American bottom line was with Japan, that might drive them to change their own terms. Trade might not seem like a national security issue, they say, but it is (and foreign governments regularly try to hack their way in to American trade deliberations)."
Communications

Apple, IBM To Bring iPads To 5 Million Elderly Japanese 67

Posted by timothy
from the get-them-from-los-angeles-school-kids dept.
itwbennett writes: An initiative between Apple, IBM and Japan Post Holdings could put iPads in the hands of up to 5 million members of Japan's elderly population. The iPads, which will run custom apps from IBM, will supplement Japan Post's Watch Over service where, for a monthly fee, postal employees check on elderly residents and relay information on their well-being to family members.
Japan

Submersible Photographs WW2 Japanese Sub's Long-Lost Airplane Hangar 75

Posted by timothy
from the flight-was-delayed-and-then-cancelled dept.
Zothecula writes: Until the 1960s, Japan's three I-400-class subs were the largest submarines ever built. They were so large, in fact, that they could each carry and launch three Aichi M6A Seiran amphibious aircraft. The idea was that the submarines could stealthily bring the planes to within striking distance of US coastal cities, where they could then take off and conduct bombing runs. Now, for the first time since it was scuttled at the end of World War II, one of the sunken subs' aircraft hangars has been photographed. The M6A on display at the Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center is worth seeing, if you get a chance.
AI

Japan Looks To Distributed Control Theory To Manage Energy Market Deregulation 54

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.
Hallie Siegel writes: Japan's power industry is currently centralized, but it aims to deregulate by around 2020. Coupled with this major structural market change, the expansion of thermal, nuclear and renewable power generation will place additional demands on the management of the country's energy market. Researchers from the Namerikawa lab at Keio University are working with control engineers, power engineers and economists to designing mechanical and control algorithms that can manage this large-scale problem.
Transportation

Maglev Train Exceeds 600km/h For World Record 189

Posted by Soulskill
from the zoom-zoom dept.
nojayuk writes: An experimental Japanese magnetic levitation train has reached a speed of 603 km/h, breaking the world speed record the same train set last week of 590 km/h. "Central Japan Railway (JR Central), which owns the trains, wants to introduce the service between Tokyo and the central city of Nagoya by 2027. The 280km journey would take only about 40 minutes, less than half the current time. However, passengers will not get to experience the maglev's record-breaking speeds because the company said its trains will operate at a maximum of 505km/h. In comparison, the fastest operating speed of a Japanese shinkansen, or "bullet train" is is 320km/h. ... Construction costs are estimated at nearly $100bn (£67bn) just for the stretch to Nagoya, with more than 80% of the route expected to go through costly tunnels, AFP news agency reports."
ISS

ISS Could Be Fitted With Lasers To Shoot Down Space Junk 167

Posted by samzenpus
from the point-and-shoot dept.
An anonymous reader writes Japan's Riken research institute has suggested a new idea for dealing with space junk. They say a fiber optic laser mounted onto the International Space Station could blast debris out of the sky. From the article: "To combat the increasingly dense layer of dead satellites and miscellaneous space debris that are enshrouding our planet, no idea — nets, lassos, even ballistic gas clouds — seems too far-fetched to avoid. Now, an international team of researchers led by Japan's Riken research institute has put forward what may be the most ambitious plan to date. They propose blasting an estimated 3,000 tons of space junk out of orbit with a fiber optic laser mounted on the International Space Station."
The Military

Scientists Locate Sunken, Radioactive Aircraft Carrier Off California Coast 193

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-you-leave-behind dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Aaron Kinney reports in the San Jose Mercury News that scientists have captured the first clear images of the USS Independence, a radioactivity-polluted World War II aircraft carrier that rests on the ocean floor 30 miles off the coast of Half Moon Bay. The Independence saw combat at Wake Island and other decisive battles against Japan in 1944 and 1945 and was later blasted with radiation in two South Pacific nuclear tests. Assigned as a target vessel for the Operation Crossroads atomic bomb tests, she was placed within one-half-mile of ground zero and was engulfed in a fireball and heavily damaged during the 1946 nuclear weapons tests at Bikini Atoll. The veteran ship did not sink, however (though her funnels and island were crumpled by the blast), and after taking part in another explosion on 25 July, the highly radioactive hull was later taken to Pearl Harbor and San Francisco for further tests and was finally scuttled off the coast of San Francisco, California, on 29 January 1951. "This ship is an evocative artifact of the dawn of the atomic age, when we began to learn the nature of the genie we'd uncorked from the bottle," says James Delgado. "It speaks to the 'Greatest Generation' — people's fathers, grandfathers, uncles and brothers who served on these ships, who flew off those decks and what they did to turn the tide in the Pacific war."

Delgado says he doesn't know how many drums of radioactive material are buried within the ship — perhaps a few hundred. But he is doubtful that they pose any health or environmental risk. The barrels were filled with concrete and sealed in the ship's engine and boiler rooms, which were protected by thick walls of steel. The carrier itself was clearly "hot" when it went down and and it was packed full of fresh fission products and other radiological waste at the time it sank. The Independence was scuttled in what is now the Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary, a haven for wildlife, from white sharks to elephant seals and whales. Despite its history as a dumping ground Richard Charter says the radioactive waste is a relic of a dark age before the enviornmental movement took hold. "It's just one of those things that humans rather stupidly did in the past that we can't retroactively fix.""
Businesses

Nokia To Buy Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 Billion 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
totalcaos sends news that Nokia has announced plans to buy Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion worth of stock. Both companies have approved the transaction, though now they must wait for regulatory approval. They said they expect the deal to close in the first half of 2016. The combined company is expected to become the world’s second-largest telecom equipment manufacturer behind Ericsson of Sweden, with global revenues totaling $27 billion and operations spread across Asia, Europe and North America. The companies are betting that, by joining forces, they can better compete against Chinese and European rivals bidding to provide telecom hardware and software to the world’s largest carriers, including AT&T and Verizon in the United States, Vodafone and Orange in Europe, and SoftBank in Japan. ... Analysts say that Nokia has progressively focused on its equipment unit, which now represents roughly 85 percent of the company’s annual revenue. On Wednesday, Nokia confirmed that it had put its digital maps business — a competitor for Google Maps — up for sale.
Japan

Transforming Robot Gets Stuck In Fukushima Nuclear Reactor 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the bend-me-shape-me dept.
An anonymous reader writes with more bad news for the people still dealing with the Fukushima nuclear accident. "The ability to change shape hasn't saved a robot probe from getting stuck inside a crippled Japanese nuclear reactor. Tokyo Electric Power will likely leave the probe inside the reactor housing at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex north of Tokyo after it stopped moving. On Friday, the utility sent a robot for the first time into the primary containment vessel (PCV) of reactor No. 1 at the plant, which was heavily damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan. 'The robot got stuck at a point two-thirds of its way inside the PCV and we are investigating the cause,' a Tokyo Electric spokesman said via email. The machine became stuck on Friday after traveling to 14 of 18 planned checkpoints."
Japan

Japanese Court Orders Google To Remove Negative Reviews From Google Maps 106

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-there's-definitely-nothing-worse-on-the-internet dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As reported by TechCrunch, the Japenese Chiba District Court issued a preliminary injunction forcing Google to delete two anonymous reviews for a medical clinic. Although negative, neither review violates Google policies. "The decision is based on a defamation suit from the clinic, a key part of which included an affidavit from the doctor who interacted with the anonymous reviewers and denied their claims." And here is the key part: "The court ruled that Google not only removes the content in Japan, but across the entire globe too." Google is currently considering it's options including an appeal.
Businesses

LG Will Lend You a Free Phone If You Talk About It On Social Media 22

Posted by samzenpus
from the phones-for-flattery dept.
jfruh writes LG will let people in a host of countries use its G4 free for 30 days — with the hope that this will result in positive buzz on social media sites. From the article: "By offering 4,000 people a G4 for 30 days, the company hopes to create some buzz around its new device as flagship devices from its rivals Samsung Electronics and HTC go on sale. The Consumer Experience Campaign kicks off in South Korea on Wednesday, and will then expand to Turkey, Indonesia, Singapore, U.S., China, India, Brazil, Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Mexico, Japan and Hong Kong, LG said."
AI

Tesla's April Fool's Joke Spoofs Market Algorithms 163

Posted by timothy
from the be-prepared-for-next-year dept.
Okian Warrior writes Yesterday, Tesla's twitter feed and blog announced the new "W" Model. Meaning "Watch" (as in "wristwatch"), the announcement Included a photo of a watch spouting a cumbersome "Big Ben" glued to the face and including this text: "This incredible new device from Tesla doesn't just tell the time, it also tells the date. What's more, it is infinitely adjustable, able to tell the time no matter where you are on Earth. Japan, Timbuktu, California, anywhere! This will change your life. Reality as you know it will never be the same." Clearly, this was an April fool's joke as anyone who reads more than just the headline would immediately guess. The problem is that Bloomberg's fast response team did not. The algos, on massive volume, spiked TSLA stock higher by nearly 1%.
Power

California Has Become the First State To Get Over 5% of Its Power From Solar 265

Posted by Soulskill
from the ignore-the-next-group-of-stories-if-you-hate-fun dept.
Lucas123 writes: While the rest of the nation's solar power generation hovers around 1%, California clocked in with a record 5% of power coming from utility-grade (1MW or more) solar power sources, according to a report from Mercom Capital Group and the Energy Information Administration. That's three times the next closest state, Arizona. At the same time, 22 states have yet to deploy even one utility-grade solar power plant, according to the Solar Energy Industry Association. Meanwhile, the rest of the world saw a 14% uptick in solar power installations in 2014 for a total of 54.5GW of capacity, and that figure is expected to grow even faster in 2015. While China still leads the world in new solar capacity, Japan and the U.S. come in as a close second and third, respectively. In the U.S. distributed solar and utility-grade solar installations are soaring as the solar investment tax credit (ITC) is set to expire next year. The U.S. is expected to deploy 8.5GW of new solar capacity in 2015, according to Mercom Capital Group.
Japan

Japan To Build 250-Mile-Long, Four Storey-High Wall To Stop Tsunamis 197

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-wake-zone dept.
An anonymous reader points out this daunting construction plan in Japan. "Japanese authorities have unveiled plans to build a giant 250-mile long sea barrier to protect its coastline from devastating tsunamis. According to the proposals, the £4.6bn ($6.8bn) barrier would reach 12.5m high in some places – stretching taller than a four storey building. It would be made out of cement – and actually be composed of a chain of smaller sea walls to make construction easier. The plan comes four years after a huge tsunami ravaged Japan's north-eastern coast."
Japan

No Fuel In the Fukushima Reactor #1 234

Posted by timothy
from the oh-this-old-thing? dept.
An anonymous reader writes To nobody's surprise, the Japanese press reports that a new way to look at the inside of one of the Fukushima 1 damaged reactors has shown the fuel is not in place. Engineers have not been able to develop a machine to directly see the exact location of the molten fuel, hampered by extremely high levels of radiation in and around the reactors, but a new scan technique using muons (details on the method in the media are missing) have shown the fuel is not in its place. While Tepco's speculation is that the fuel may be at the bottom of the reactor, it is a safe bet that at least some of it has burned through and has gone on to create an Uruguay syndrom.