New Nuclear Engine Concept Could Help Realize 3-Month Trips To Mars Slashdotby BeauHD on mars at January 1, 1970, 1:00 am (cached at October 27, 2020, 8:05 am)

Seattle-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies (USNC-Tech) has developed a concept for a new Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) engine that they claim is safer and more reliable than previous NTP designs and with far greater efficiency than a chemical rocket. The concept could reduce Earth-Mars travel time to just three months. New Atlas reports: According to Dr. Michael Eades, principal engineer at USNC-Tech, the new concept engine is more reliable than previous NTP designs and can produce twice the specific impulse of a chemical rocket. Specific impulse is a measure of a rocket's efficiency. To fuel the concept, UNSC-Tech uses a Fully Ceramic Micro-encapsulated (FCM) fuel to power the engine's reactor. This fuel is based on High-Assay Low Enriched Uranium (HALEU), which is derived from reprocessed civilian nuclear fuel and is enriched to between 5 and 20 percent -- greater than that of civilian reactors and less than that of naval reactors. The fuel is then encapsulated into particles coated with zirconium carbide (ZrC). The company claims that this fuel is much more rugged than conventional nuclear fuels and can operate at high temperatures. This produces safer reactor designs and a high thrust and specific impulse that could previously only be obtained with highly-enriched uranium. In addition, such fuel can be produced with current supply chains and manufacturing plants. It is hoped the new concept could lead to nuclear engines that reduce deep space mission times drastically, with a crewed mission to Mars arriving in as little as three months. Beyond that, the concept is aimed at a commercial market as well as with NASA and the US Department of Defense, allowing for more ambitious private missions.

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Comic for October 26, 2020 Dilbert Daily Strip(cached at October 27, 2020, 6:01 am)

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No Implants Needed For Precise Control Deep Into the Brain Slashdotby BeauHD on science at January 1, 1970, 1:00 am (cached at October 27, 2020, 4:35 am)

An anonymous reader quotes a report from IEEE Spectrum: In April, Guoping Feng and colleagues at MIT, along with [Karl Deisseroth, a neuroscientist and bioengineer at Stanford University] demonstrated a minimally invasive optogenetic system that required drilling a small hole in the skull, then being able to control opsin-expressing neurons six millimeters deep into the brain using blue light. This approach used of a type of opsin that slowly activates neurons in a step-wise manner. In the most recent study [published in the journal Nature Biotechnology], Deisseroth and colleagues sought to instead enable both deep and fast optogenetics without surgery. The Stanford team expressed in the brain cells of mice a powerful new opsin called ChRmine (pronounced like the deep-red color "carmine"), discovered by Deisseroth's group last year in a marine organism. Then, they shined a red light outside the skull and were able to activate neural circuits in the midbrain and brainstem at depths of up to 7 millimeters. With the technique, the scientists turned on and off brain circuits with millisecond precision. "It really worked well, far better than we even expected might be possible," says Deisseroth. The team then tested the effectiveness of the system. In one instance, they used light to quickly and precisely stop seizures in epileptic mice, and in another to turn on serotonin-producing neurons to promote social behavior in mice. Most optogenetic techniques involve injecting viruses with an opsin gene of choice directly into the brain with a needle. To avoid this, the Stanford team used a type of PHP virus developed at CalTech that can be injected in the blood. The virus then crosses the blood-brain barrier to deliver its payload, an opsin gene, to brain cells. In this case, even the delivery of the gene is noninvasive -- no needle penetrates the brain. Deisseroth's team is now testing the non-invasive technique in fish and collaborating with others to apply it to non-human primates. They're also working with the Seattle-based Allen Institute to develop mouse lines bred with ChRmine in their cells.

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The Explosive Problem of 'Zombie' Batteries Slashdotby BeauHD on power at January 1, 1970, 1:00 am (cached at October 27, 2020, 3:10 am)

AmiMoJo shares a report from the BBC: The Environmental Services Association (ESA), which represents waste firms like Biffa, Veolia and Suez, says too many batteries are going into either recycling bins or black rubbish bags, where they are easily damaged by sorting equipment and start to burn -- so-called "zombie" batteries. The ESA has launched a campaign called Take Charge which encourages people to dispose of batteries properly. "Unfortunately, the majority of batteries thrown away in the UK at the moment are not put in the proper recycling bins. Fires caused by carelessly discarded zombie batteries endanger lives, cause millions of pounds of damage and disrupt waste services," says Jacob Hayler, executive director of ESA. Lithium-ion batteries, which power mobile phones, tablets and toothbrushes, can be extremely volatile if damaged. CCTV footage taken at several recycling centers shows explosions sending flames and debris shooting across sorting areas. And those sorts of batteries are a growing menace. Between April 2019 and March 2020, lithium-ion batteries were suspected to have caused around 250 fires at waste facilities. That is 38% of all fires, up from 25% compared to the previous year, according to the latest data from ESA. In many cases the precise cause of a fire is never established but ESA says it is likely that lithium-ion batteries account for an even bigger proportion of fires.

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Samsung, Stanford Make a 10,000 PPI Display That Could Lead To 'Flawless' VR Slashdotby BeauHD on displays at January 1, 1970, 1:00 am (cached at October 27, 2020, 2:35 am)

Samsung and Stanford University have developed OLED technology that supports resolutions up to 10,000 pixels per inch -- "well above what you see in virtually any existing display, let alone what you'd find in a modern VR headset like the Oculus Quest 2," reports Engadget. From the report: The newOLED tech uses films to emit white light between reflective layers, one silver and another made of reflective metal with nano-sized corrugations. This "optical metasurface" changes the reflective properties and allows specific colors to resonate through pixels. The design allows for much higher pixel densities than you see in the RGB OLEDs on phones, but doesn't hurt brightness to the degree you see with white OLEDs in some TVs. This would be ideal for VR and AR, creating a virtually 'flawless' image where you can't see the screen door effect or even individual pixels. This might take years to arrive when it would require much more computing power, but OLED tech would no longer be an obstacle.

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'Iranian YouTube' CEO Sentenced To 10 Years Over Video Uploaded By User Slashdotby BeauHD on youtube at January 1, 1970, 1:00 am (cached at October 27, 2020, 2:05 am)

The founder and manager of Iran's main video-sharing platform, referred to by some as Iran's YouTube, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of "encouraging corruption" over a video posted by a user. Radio Free Europe reports: In the video posted on Aparat.com last year, children were asked whether they know how they were born, Iranian media reported. The verdict against Aparat Chief Executive Officer Mohammad Javad Shakuri Moghadam was reported by domestic media on October 25. The sentence was reportedly issued in mid-October by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court presided over by judge Mohammad Moghiseh, who is known for handing down harsh sentences. Moghiseh was last year blacklisted by the U.S. State Department for miscarriage of justice. Shakuri Moghadam, who was awarded a government medal of honor as one of the country's top entrepreneurs about two years ago, can appeal the sentence. The controversial video was said to have been removed an hour after being posted on Aparat, which has millions of Iranian users. The producers of the video were also arrested with authorities then claiming that they had received complaints from concerned citizens and families. The BBC reported that seven others accused in the case have been each sentenced to 11 years in prison after being convicted of "encouraging corruption" and "publishing vulgar content."

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Lee Kun-hee, Who Built Samsung Into a Global Giant, Dies At 78 Slashdotby BeauHD on business at January 1, 1970, 1:00 am (cached at October 27, 2020, 1:35 am)

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Lee Kun-hee, who built Samsung into a global giant of smartphones, televisions and computer chips but was twice convicted — and, in a pattern that has become typical in South Korea, twice pardoned -- for white-collar crimes committed along the way, died on Sunday in Seoul, the South Korean capital. He was 78. Samsung announced the death but did not specify the cause. Mr. Lee had been incapacitated since a heart attack in 2014. When Mr. Lee took the helm at Samsung Group in 1987, after the death of his father and the conglomerate's founder, Lee Byung-chull, many in the West knew the group's electronics unit only as a maker of cheap televisions and unreliable microwaves sold in discount stores. Lee Kun-hee pushed the company relentlessly up the technological ladder. By the early 1990s, Samsung had surpassed Japanese and American rivals to become a pacesetter in memory chips. It came to dominate flat-panel displays as screens lost their bulk. And it conquered the middle-to-high end of the mobile market as cellphones became powerhouse computing devices in the 2000s. Samsung Electronics today is a cornerstone of South Korea's economy and one of the world's top corporate spenders on research and development. Mr. Lee -- who was chairman of Samsung Group from 1987 to 1998, chairman and chief executive of Samsung Electronics from 1998 to 2008, then Samsung Electronics chairman from 2010 until his death -- was South Korea's richest man. "In 1996, Mr. Lee was convicted of bribing the country's president, then pardoned," The New York Times notes. "More than a decade later, he was found guilty of tax evasion but given another reprieve, this time so he could resume lobbying to bring the Winter Olympics to the mountain town of Pyeongchang in 2018." "Soon after the Pyeongchang Games, Lee Myung-bak, South Korea's president from 2008 to 2013 and no relation, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for accepting $5.4 million in bribes from Samsung in exchange for pardoning Mr. Lee."

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Chrome OS May Finally Be Getting a Dark Mode Slashdotby BeauHD on chrome at January 1, 1970, 1:00 am (cached at October 27, 2020, 12:35 am)

New submitter andreavenezia shares a report from The Verge: Chrome OS may finally be getting a dark mode, but so far it's only been spotted in its experimental Canary channel, Android Central reported. Before you go tinkering with Canary just be advised: Canary is Google's "bleeding edge" Chrome OS path, which receives daily updates of features before they've been widely tested. It can only be accessed from Chromebooks switched into a special developer mode (not to be confused with the Chrome OS Developer channel). Google warns that Canary can be "unstable." But at the moment, to activate dark mode on your Chromebook, you need to have the Canary channel installed. Once you've done that, Android Central says you just open Chrome and type in chrome://flags/#enable-force-dark and chrome://flags/#enable-webui-dark-mode into the URL bar. I should note I tried this on my older Chromebook and wasn't able to get it to work. But here's the view Android Police captured. Android Central says the dark mode has some bugs, but notes it seems to apply across the UI, not just as darker backgrounds.

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Pakistan's PM Asks Facebook To Ban Islamophobic Content Slashdotby BeauHD on facebook at January 1, 1970, 1:00 am (cached at October 27, 2020, 12:05 am)

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan called on Facebook to ban Islamophobic content on its platform, warning of a spike in radicalization amongst Muslims, hours after he hit out at the French president for "attacking Islam." Reuters reports: Pakistan summoned the French ambassador in Islamabad as anger spread on Monday over President Emmanuel Macron's reaction to the murder last week of a French teacher by an Islamist. Khan, in an open letter posted on Twitter on Sunday, said "growing Islamophobia" was encouraging extremism and violence worldwide, especially through social media platforms such as Facebook. "I would ask you to place a similar ban on Islamophobia and hate against Islam for Facebook that you have put in place for the Holocaust," Khan said. "One cannot send a message that while hate messages against some are unacceptable, these are acceptable against others," Khan said, adding such a stance was "reflective of prejudice and bias that will encourage further radicalization." In response, a Facebook spokeswoman told Reuters the company opposed all forms of hate and did not allow attacks based on race, ethnicity, national origin or religion. "We'll remove this hate speech as soon as we become aware of it," the spokeswoman said in a statement, adding that Facebook had "more work to do."

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