Portal De Tecnologia y Ciencias

Portal De Tecnologia y Ciencias

martes, 19 de noviembre de 2013

Elon Musk reveals his Hyperloop concept, vowing LA-to-San Fran travel in 30 minutes

f there's a barrier to thinking about the future, it comes from being so wedded to the present. When steam-powered passenger trains arrived in the 1800s, doctors worried riders might die from asphyxiation if they went faster than 60 mph. In our own time, hydrogen cars have never gained traction in part because the benefits have yet to seem worth the trouble. Then there's Tesla Motors co-founder Elon Musk's new idea called the Hyperloop, which he revealed today: an elevated, solar-powered train-in-a-tube that could whisk riders at supersonic speeds up to 900 miles. It sounds fantastic, and according to Musk could be built for less than a comparable magnetic-levitation train — roughly $6 billion for a Los Angeles-to-San Franciso route that would cut travel time to 30 minutes for a $20 ticket. "It would be cool to see a new form of transport happen," Musk says. But do we really need it? The proposal from Musk — a 57-page paper full of aerodynamic engineering concepts and economic discussion points — has as much connection to reality as a comic book at the moment. But Musk, a billionaire who founded and sold PayPal before Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity, has the resources to explore ideas that most would turn down as unworkable, and once you build a reusable space capsule and a profitable electric car, why not broaden your horizons?
Musk describes the Hyperloop as essentially a solar-powered version of the pneumatic tubes once common in offices and drive-through bank branches. By riding on pressurized air, with a compressor fan at the front of the capsules, the vehicles could accelerate up to 760 mph without the disruptive sonic booms supersonic aircraft produce. And despite the speeds, Musk says the accelerations would be limited to no more than what passengers face today: "It would feel like you were riding in an airplane, like you're riding in a cushion of air." To survive in California's earthquake-prone geography, the Hyperloop would be built on pillars designed to cushion the tube from tremors, a system that Musk contends would be safer than trains today. In fact, Musk contends if the Hyperloop tubes were coated in solar panels, they would generate more energy than the system uses and should be better in every dimension — cheaper, safer, more energy efficient and pleasant to travel in — than the current alternatives. As for the economics, by Musk's calculations the machinery inside the tube is relatively cheap — about $60 million or so. While the tube itself would cost $6 billion to build along Interstate 5 in California, if the Hyperloop ran at regular intervals it could pay for itself with passenger fares of $20 a ride over 20 years, at several million passengers a year. Musk contends the Hyperloop would work best for distances less than 900 miles; longer than that, airplanes make better sense.
After saying at first he was too busy to pursue the idea, Musk said Monday he would at least take it a little further. "I'm somewhat tempted to build at least a demonstration prototype," he said. "I could do some scale version and hand it over to someone else...I would like to see it come to fruition, and it might help if I did a demonstration article." The whole plan seems outlandish at first blush — but the current estimates for California's high-speed rail upgrade stand around $65 billion, for trains that many critics, including Musk, contend offer few benefits over today's tangle of roads and rails. Los Angeles expects to spend more than $6 billion extending its subway system 10 miles. Whether it's the right track or a dead end, with the Hyperloop Musk has succeeded in offering a provocative alternative to a more expensive future.

Chinese explorer Zheng He may have discovered America before Columbus, according to new book

Does a 600-year-old Chinese map prove that Christopher Columbus was not the first explorer to navigate the New World? In his book “Who Discovered America?,” published Tuesday, author Gavin Menzies says the settling of North America by nonnative peoples is more complex than previously thought. ‘The traditional story of Columbus discovering the New World is absolute fantasy, it’s fairy tales,” Menzies, 76, said in an interview with the Daily Mail. However, not everyone is sold on the theory. Menzies has been derided as a “pseudo-historian” by critics, who say his claims are grandiose and not based in historical fact. Menzies has primarily focused his studies on when and how North America was first explored but he has also argued that the mythological city of Atlantis was real. Menzies also has passionate supporters — his previous books have been best-sellers, and proponents of his theories have donated millions to his efforts, allowing him to hire a number of experts to join in his investigations. Menzies says that the Chinese map, found in a bookstore and created in the 18th century, is attributed to Chinese Admiral Zheng He and shows a detailed map of America dating back to 1418. That would place Zheng He’s efforts some 70 years ahead of Columbus. In fact, Menzies says Columbus used a copy of Zheng He's map to plot his own voyage. Zheng He — a Muslim eunuch — is arguably the most famous explorer in Chinese history. Deployed by the emperor, He led Chinese fleets on voyages of discovery that helped expand the empire’s knowledge of the world to include previously unknown areas in the Middle East and Africa. His influence over Asian culture was so strong thathe is still considered a god in parts of Indonesia. An appraiser from Christie’s has authenticated the map itself, but there is currently no way of proving the map was based on images drafted in the 1400s. However, Menzies says that certain observations on the map, including descriptions of communities and other cultural landmarks in Peru, coincide with known data from that period. In addition, Menzies makes an even broader claim in his book, saying that Chinese sailors were the first to cross the Pacific Ocean 40,000 years ago. Menzies says there is DNA evidence to support his claim. So how does Menzies believe the Chinese pulled off such a giant historical accomplishment thousands of years before anyone else? “If you just go out in a plastic bathtub, the currents will just carry you there,” Menzies told the Mail. “They just came with the current, it’s as simple as that.” The current historical version of events says that individuals from what is now Asia crossed into North America via a land bridge extending from the Bering Strait. Critics of Menzies point out that he holds no degrees or professional training as a historian. But the Daily Mail says he “can no longer be called an amateur” after his most recent efforts.

Slavery, disease, death: the dark side of the Christopher Columbus story

On Monday, the United States will observe Columbus Day, schools and banks closing and parades marching in honor of the man who, as we all learned in school, discovered America in 1492. And according to The Oatmeal’s Matthew Inman, Columbus Day is a dangerous farce. Inman contends in his current strip on The Oatmeal, a humor/political commentary website, that the legends we believe about Columbus are not only misleading but grossly unfair. He cites primary sources and journals recounted in Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” and James Lowewen’s “Lies My Teacher Told Me” to dispel the traditional narrative of Columbus as brave traveler who connected the Old World and the New. Here are a few of The Oatmeal’s conclusions about Christopher Columbus: • In 1492, no one actually thought the earth was flat. “Pretty much anyone with an education knew the earth was round. The Greeks had proved it 2,000 years before Columbus was born.” • Columbus didn’t actually “discover” the New World. Not only were there natives living in the Americas for 14,000 years, Leif Ericson found the same territory 500 years before Columbus. • Columbus wanted gold, and lots of it. His initial ideas for a new trade route to Asia fell by the wayside as he realized how much gold was available in the New World. • The natives would provide little resistance. According to his own journal, Columbus believed the indigenous Lucayans would not be a significant challenge. “I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men,” he wrote, “and govern them as I pleased.” • For his second visit, Columbus armed for war. When Columbus returned to the New World, he brought 17 ships and 1,500 men. • Columbus treated the natives brutally. Columbus demanded treasure, food and sex for his men, and when the Lucayans refused, he ordered their noses and ears cut off to serve as a warning. • Columbus treated his conquered people harshly. When the Lucayans rebelled, Columbus crushed the rebellion and carted off 500 Lucayans to be sold into slavery in Europe. • Columbus disrupted the entire economy of three continents. Post-Columbian disease and starvation killed three to five million people over the next fifty years. And the influx of gold disrupted the global economy to the point that African slaves became a dominant commodity. http://l.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/fU65tQS6WxL40UwNfphNZg--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NTt3PTYzMA--/http:/l.yimg.com/os/publish-images/news/2013-10-10/82d441c1-51cc-415b-9c0b-1da31db615b2_d1010cc2.jpg Via The Oatmeal In short, The Oatmeal contends, Columbus “discovered the New World much like a meteorite discovered the dinosaurs,” and yet is still honored with a federal holiday. Making the point impossible to miss: “The father of the transatlantic slave trade is honored on the same level as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.” As a replacement, The Oatmeal suggests Bartolome de los Casas, a wealthy plantation owner who sold off his holdings, freed his slaves, turned to the priesthood, and fought for the dignity of native Americans. In other words, The Oatmeal suggests, Columbus Day might be worth celebrating if it were named for someone else.

Finally, the Underwater Wireless Modem We’ve All Been Waiting For

Researchers from the University at Buffalo on Lake Erie. Photo: Douglas Levere/University at Buffalo You can use the internet in Antarctica. You can tweet from the International Space Station. And wireless internet blankets much of the globe. But go underwater and it’s pretty hard to find TCP/IP. Until now, that is. Welcome to the Internet of Things, undersea edition. Researchers at the University at Buffalo have floated their first wireless internet modems, designed for underwater use. They’re gigantic, slow, and noisy, but they could be a step toward making undersea sensors cheaper and easier to hook up to the rest of the world. On a warm fall afternoon last month, the Buffalo researchers chartered a 25-foot yacht, sailed out into Buffalo’s Small Harbor and dropped three of the yellow 40-pound acoustic modems into the placid waters of Lake Erie. The Teledyne Benthos modems, which resemble oversized tinker toy components, talk underwater using a high-pitched chirping sound, which can be easily picked up at about 1 kilometer’s range. Typically they use their own networking protocols, but funded by a National Science Foundation grant, the University at Buffalo team has plugged them into a Gumstix Linux board and reprogrammed the modem to speak an aquatic version of TCP/IP — the networking protocol that all devices on the Internet use to communicate with each other. “This means that you can take an underwater network and make it accessible through the internet,” says Tommaso Melodia, the professor at the University at Buffalo who is leading the research effort. He sees these networked underwater sensors doing everything from monitoring for tsunamis to scouting for submarines to helping with deep sea exploration. But these networks are very, very slow. In fact, that’s why Melodia and his team had to rewrite TCP/IP. On dry land, we can use high frequency radio waves to transmit our internet data at near-light speeds. They’re fast, high-bandwidth and inaudible. But radio doesn’t do so well underwater. There you need acoustic networking. It’s slow, low bandwidth and audible to both humans and sea creatures. http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/3x5a6718-315x207.jpg Photo: Douglas Levere/University at Buffalo So the University at Buffalo researchers had to get their modems to work even when there is a very long wait time as packets are chirped underwater from modem to modem. “You go pretty much at the same data rates that you would be able to achieve with a modem in the ’80s; it’s a few kilobits per second at most, and often less than that,” says Melodia. That’s not enough to broadcast a video stream from the deep seas, but if you want to hack together a deep sea sensor that could tweet out a Tsunami warning, it would do just fine. In the future, Melodia wants to develop a high frequency version of the modem, which would be less likely to affect marine life. “Underwater and acoustic networking are still in their infancy, and are evolving,” he says, adding, “much of our ongoing research in this field is trying to lay the basis for faster, more reliable, and secure… networks.” Melodia and his team will present a paper on their research, titled “The Internet Underwater: An IP-compatible Protocol Stack for Commercial Undersea Modems,” at an underwater networking conference in Taiwan next month.

Satellite spots light show in the middle of the ocean

Those weird lights in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean — what are they? Are they an unstoppable force of electric underwater creatures swimming, slowly but steadily, toward the shore where they will flood our cities and force us all to watch "Finding Nemo" from now until the end of time? Fortunately, no (for now). The lights, which were spotted using Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite on the Suomi NPP satellite, are actually a large collection of fishermen. NASA explains, "There are no human settlements there, nor fires or gas wells. But there are an awful lot of fishing boats." Yep, that's right, those lights that could easily be mistaken for a series of heavily populated islands are actually powerful lights on boats. What exactly are the fishermen looking for? And why are they out blasting their high beams? From NASA: The night fishermen are hunting for Illex argentinus, a species of short-finned squid that forms the second largest squid fishery on the planet. The squid are found tens to hundreds of kilometers offshore from roughly Rio de Janeiro to Tierra del Fuego (22 to 54 degrees South latitude). They live 80 to 600 meters (250 to 2,000 feet) below the surface, feeding on shrimp, crabs, and fish. In turn, Illex are consumed by larger finfish, whales, seals, sea birds, penguins ... and humans. Fishermen use the powerful lights, "generating as much as 300 kilowatts of light per boat," to draw the plankton and fish that the squid eat toward the surface. The squid then follow the food. Alas, it's the last meal for many.

viernes, 29 de marzo de 2013


Is Millionaire Space Tourist Planning Trip to Mars?

Buzz is building about a planned 2018 private mission to Mars, which may launch the first humans toward the Red Planet. A nonprofit organization called the Inspiration Mars Foundation — which is led by millionaire Dennis Tito, the world's first space tourist — will hold a news conference on Feb. 27 to announce the 501-day roundtrip mission, which will aim for a January 2018 launch. "This 'Mission for America' will generate new knowledge, experience and momentum for the next great era of space exploration," Inspiration Mars officials wrote in a media advisory yesterday (Feb. 20). "It is intended to encourage all Americans to believe again, in doing the hard things that make our nation great, while inspiring youth through Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and motivation." Tito made history in 2001, plunking down a reported $20 million for an eight-day trip to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. [Photos: The First Space Tourists] Tito will participate in the Feb. 27 news conference. So will Taber MacCallum and Jane Poynter, CEO and president, respectively, of Paragon Space Development Corp., which has expertise in life-support systems; and space-medicine expert Jonathan Clark of the Baylor College of Medicine. The speakers' backgrounds and the lofty goals articulated in the media advisory have led some people to speculate that Inspiration Mars is planning a manned mission to the Red Planet. And it looks like that may be the case, according to some media reports. On March 3, Tito will give a talk called "Feasibility Analysis for a Manned Mars Free Return Mission in 2018" at an aerospace conference in Montana, the NewSpace Journal reported today (Feb. 21). The NewSpace Journal says it obtained a copy of the paper Tito plans to present in Montana and gives a summary of its main thrust. Tito's paper discusses "a crewed free-return Mars mission that would fly by Mars, but not go into orbit around the planet or land on it. This 501-day mission would launch in January 2018, using a modified SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launched on a Falcon Heavy rocket," the NewSpace Journal writes. "According to the paper, existing environmental control and life support system (ECLSS) technologies would allow such a spacecraft to support two people for the mission, although in Spartan condition." The mission would be privately financed and cheaper than previous estimates for manned Mars efforts, the NewSpace Journal adds, though no overall cost is given. The purported involvement of California-based SpaceX is not a huge surprise, as company founder Elon Musk has repeatedly stressed his desire to help humanity reach and eventually colonize Mars. Indeed, SpaceX has been developing a mission concept called "Red Dragon," which would use its Dragon capsule to send astronauts to the Red Planet. A 501-day mission would pose potentially serious physiological and psychological issues for astronauts (standard stints aboard the space station are currently just six months). Researchers have tried to understand the psychological effects of being isolated in cramped quarters for long stretches, notably during the Russia-based Mars500 mock mission, which wrapped up in November 2011. But the physiological effects may be tougher to simulate and mitigate, experts say.

Alemania investiga posible fraude en huevos orgánicos

BERLÍN (Reuters) - Autoridades alemanas están investigando un posible fraude a gran escala de productores de huevos orgánicos en medio de crecientes preocupaciones sobre las prácticas de la industria alimentaria tras el escándalo de la carne de caballo en Europa. El estado de Baja Sajonia, en el norte de Alemania, un gran centro agrícola, ha abierto investigaciones en unas 150 granjas sospechosas de vender deliberadamente huevos producidos por gallinas hacinadas bajo un sello orgánico. Otros dos estados están investigando otras 50 explotaciones agrarias. "Si las acusaciones (contra las granjas) son fundadas, entonces estamos hablando de un fraude a gran escala: fraude contra los consumidores pero también fraude contra las muchas granjas orgánicas en Alemania que trabajan honestamente", dijo el lunes la ministra de Agricultura alemana, Ilse Aigner, en un comunicado. La ministra instó a los gobiernos regionales a garantizar el pleno cumplimiento de las leyes de Alemania y de la UE sobre la producción de alimentos ecológicos, añadiendo que los consumidores deben tener plena confianza en los sellos de los productos. Producir huevos orgánicos cuesta unos 10 céntimos más que los que se producen bajo condiciones industriales estándares. Christian Meyer, consejero de agricultura en el recién nombrado gobierno de Baja Sajonia, prometió tratar con dureza a cualquier granja que viole la ley. La alimentación orgánica es una gran industria muy comprometida con el medio ambiente en Alemania, donde muchos consumidores están dispuestos a pagar algo más por huevos, carne, verduras y otros productos que creen que han sido producidos orgánicamente. La sospechas de un fraude en los huevos orgánicos coinciden con el descubrimiento de que carne de caballo fue catalogada como ternera en alimentos procesados vendidos por toda Europa. El escándalo ha provocado la retirada de platos precocinados y ha dañado la confianza en la industria alimentaria del continente. Hace dos años se extendió por la Unión Europea una alerta sanitaria cuando las autoridades alemanas dijeron que piensos contaminados con dioxinas habían alimentado a gallinas y cerdos, contaminado a huevos y a la carne de aves de corral y cerdos en las granjas afectadas.

Muere a los 85 años el líder del pueblo de China donde todos son millonarios

Shanghái (China), 19 mar (EFE).- Wu Renbao, el antiguo secretario general del Partido Comunista de China (PCCh) en la aldea de Huaxi (provincia oriental de Jiangsu), conocido por ser el más rico del país y porque todos sus habitantes originales de los años ochenta son millonarios, acaba de morir de cáncer de pulmón a los 85 años. Según recoge hoy el diario "Shanghai Daily", Wu, nacido en 1928, murió ayer en su casa de Huaxi, pueblo del municipio de Jiangyin donde sus más de 1.600 habitantes originales son millonarios. Gracias a las cuatro décadas de liderazgo de Wu, campesino como sus vecinos, Huaxi pasó de ser una de las aldeas más pobres de Jiangsu, en los años setenta, a consolidar un milagro económico que ha hecho ricos a todos sus vecinos iniciales. La aldea, a 110 kilómetros de Shanghái, fue fundada en 1961, y Wu la convirtió desde los ochenta en un conglomerado empresarial cooperativo, la Compañía Aldea de Huaxi (Jiangsu Huaxicun), de la que todos los vecinos de entonces son accionistas, aunque hoy tiene numerosos nuevos habitantes más humildes. Wu Renbao cuestionó desde los ochenta la tendencia oficial que en aquel momento dividía el campo para su uso en pequeñas parcelas familiares, y promovió la colectivización de los cultivos de Huaxi, idea que evolucionó en los noventa con la creación de empresas y fábricas colectivas en manos de la población. Pese a la prosperidad económica de Huaxi, el nieto del propio Wu Renbao, Wu Hao, aseguró a Efe en 2008 que, por el propio espíritu de la población local, "Huaxi nunca será una ciudad, el 'viejo secretario' lo dejó muy claro: Huaxi es una aldea". El "viejo secretario" fue alzado con el tiempo como todo un modelo entre los líderes rurales del PCCh para todo el país, y llegó a ocupar una portada de la revista "Time" en 2005. Wu recibió dos veces en su vida el premio de Trabajador Modelo Nacional y fue diputado del Legislativo chino, aunque también recibió a veces críticas de los vecinos menos afortunados de Huaxi, que lo acusaban de "dictador". EFE

Global internet slows after 'biggest attack in history'

The row centres on the blocking of a web-hosting company alleged to be hosting spam websites The internet around the world has been slowed down in what security experts are describing as the biggest cyber-attack in history. A row between a spam-fighting group and hosting firm has sparked retaliation attacks flooding core infrastructure. It is having an impact on widely used services like Netflix - and experts worry it could escalate to affect banking and email services. Five national cyber-police-forces are investigating the attacks. Spamhaus, a group based in both London and Geneva, is a non-profit organisation which aims to help email providers filter out spam and other unwanted content. To do this, the group maintains a number of blocklists - a database of servers known to be being used for malicious purposes. Recently, Spamhaus blocked servers maintained by Cyberbunker, a Dutch web host which states it will host anything with the exception of child pornography or terrorism-related material. Sven Olaf Kamphuis, who claims to be a spokesman for Cyberbunker, said, in a message, that Spamhaus was abusing its position, and should not be allowed to decide "what goes and does not go on the internet". Spamhaus has alleged that Cyberbunker, in cooperation with "criminal gangs" from Eastern Europe and Russia, is behind the attack. Cyberbunker has as yet offered no reply to the BBC when contacted directly. 'Immense job' Steve Linford, chief executive for Spamhaus, told the BBC the scale of the attack was unprecedented. "We've been under this cyber-attack for well over a week. 'Decapitating the internet' Internet browser address bar Writing exactly one year ago for the BBC, Prof Alan Woodward predicted the inherent weaknesses in the web's domain name system. He wrote: "It is essentially the phone book for the internet. If you could prevent access to the phone book then you would effectively render the web useless." "But we're up - they haven't been able to knock us down. Our engineers are doing an immense job in keeping it up - this sort of attack would take down pretty much anything else." Mr Linford told the BBC that the attack was being investigated by five different national cyber-police-forces around the world, but said he was unable to disclose more details as the forces in question were concerned that they too may suffer attacks on their own infrastructure. The attackers have used a tactic known as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), which floods the intended target with large amounts of traffic in an attempt to render it unreachable. In this case, Spamhaus's Domain Name System (DNS) servers were targeted - the infrastructure that joins domain names, such as bbc.co.uk, the website's numerical internet protocol address. Mr Linford said the attack's power would be strong enough to take down government internet infrastructure. "If you aimed this at Downing Street they would be down instantly," he said. "They would be completely off the internet." He added: "These attacks are peaking at 300 gb/s (gigabits per second). "Normally when there are attacks against major banks, we're talking about 50 gb/s." Clogged-up motorway The knock-on effect is hurting internet services globally, said Prof Alan Woodward, a cybersecurity expert at the University of Surrey. "If you imagine it as a motorway, attacks try and put enough traffic on there to clog up the on and off ramps," he told the BBC. "With this attack, there's so much traffic it's clogging up the motorway itself." Spamhaus is able to cope, the group says, as it has highly distributed infrastructure in a number of countries. The group is supported by many of the world's largest internet companies who rely on it to filter unwanted material. Mr Linford told the BBC that several companies, such as Google, had made their resources available to help "absorb all of this traffic". The attacks typically happened in intermittent bursts of high activity. "They are targeting every part of the internet infrastructure that they feel can be brought down," Mr Linford said. "We can't be brought down. "Spamhaus has more than 80 servers around the world. We've built the biggest DNS server around."

domingo, 13 de enero de 2013

Instaló una oficina en su propio coche

La comunicación se ha convertido en una necesidad hoy en día y ya no renunciamos a ella ni siquiera cuando viajamos en el coche. Los teléfonos móviles con conexión a Internet permiten mantenerse conectado en todo momento, pero para algunos eso no es suficiente y deciden ir un paso más allá, montando su propio centro de trabajo en cualquier parte ¡¡¡Incluso en el coche!!! Hay quien no solo se lleva el trabajo a casa, sino que se lo lleva también al coche y aprovecha los trayectos de ida y vuelta. O quizás es que simplemente el conductor alemán que protagoniza esta noticia decidió ahorrarse el alquiler de una oficina y aprovechar el espacio sobrante en su propio automóvil. Sea cual sea la razón, lo cierto es que la policía alemana, durante un control rutinario de velocidad, detectó a un conductor que tenía montada toda una oficina en su propio coche. Todos los detalles No debía tener suficiente con el teléfono móvil para enviar mensajes y correos electrónicos, así que decidió montar una estructura de madera en la que acopló su propio ordenador, una impresora, un router wi-fi y una fuente de alimentación para no quedarse sin batería en ningún momento. Incluso había inventado su propio sistema de amortiguación, para que las vibraciones de la circulación no afectaran al rendimiento de su sistema. Nada ilegal Por sorprendente que parezca, la policía alemana solo pudo apercibir y multar al conductor por un exceso de velocidad, pero no pudo hacer nada respecto al centro de trabajo que el conductor se había montado en su propio coche. La distracción que supone un despliegue tecnológico de ese calibre es indudable, pero la ley, de momento, solo permite sancionar a los conductores cuando hablan o manipulan el móvil sin un dispositivo manos libres. Aún así, seguro que, aunque no una multa, el conductor sí que se llevó un buen discurso sobre la seguridad vial y la necesidad de poner "los cinco sentidos" en la conducción, evitando cualquier tipo de distracción innecesaria.

The LIT C1 bets the future of driving on a gyro-balanced two-wheeler

In a nondescript building on the grittier side of downtown San Francisco, the future of personal transportation is being born — at least according to this baby's Dr. Frankenstein, an affable 33-year-old named Daniel Kim. Sitting in the glare of a few spotlights is the LIT Motors C1, an enclosed two-wheeler that combines the flexibility and fuel efficiency of an electric motorcycle with the safety, comfort and storage space of a small automobile. But there's a true innovation at work: the C1 has two powerful on-board gyroscopes generating 1,300 ft-lbs of torque that keep the two-wheeler upright even when struck by a larger vehicle. "It would take an elephant to knock this thing over," says Kim. To prove the point, Kim has lashed the C1 to the bumper of his completely rebuilt Land Rover (a pet project of the Portland, Ore., native the preceded a degree at Rhode Island School of Design) and stepped on the gas. The C1 got slightly airborne, but never fell over. "I think (LIT has) a chance of making it for two reasons," says Kim. "One, after traveling the world I saw that a huge percentage of motorists travel alone, and in the developing world most of them are on two wheels. And two, I don't have to hire anyone to design, because I do it all myself. I like to think I'm de-risking the company that way." In fact, Kim's high-tech titanium glasses, ring and overcoat were all whimsical projects of this inveterate tinkerer who, like Steve Jobs, attended but then dropped out of Reed College before going on to RISD. "I should have graduated from Reed just so people would stop making that comparison," Kim says with a smile.
The C1 was born out of Kim's desire to become the next big deal in transportation, a moment that's still more than a year away. The dozen-staffer start-up company currently has one mock-up (a sleek white bubble sitting on massive tires) to show prospective customers and investors, and one raw but functioning prototype. LIT wants to raise $5 million to $10 million to develop its proprietary software and create a true beta version of the C1 that would then lead to a production run of 1,000 units in 2014. Kim says Silicon Valley venture capital firms and auto industry players have made overtures. And he may try a new Kickstarter campaign. The C1 will have a 200-mile range, do zero-to-60 mph in 6 seconds with a 120-mph top speed, and initially cost around $24,000, with the price falling to $19,000 after tax credits. LIT's chief marketing officer Ryan James says LIT wants to scale production so the price drops to around $12,000 after credits. James says LIT's target customers include people who already ride motorcycles but are concerned about safety, don't like dressing up in bulky riding gear and crave more storage space. But an ever larger market "would be people who might have never ridden a motorcycle but are looking for a solution to their commuting headache," he says. Adds Kim: "A company like (electric car manufacturer) Tesla has done amazing things to make the alternatively powered vehicle sexy, but what we're making might fit into more people's lives." He cites not only studies that indicate that more than half of daily commuters drive alone, but also notes that increasing congestion and parking issues could be mitigated by C1 ownership. Because the machine would be classified by the U.S. Department of Transportation as a motorcycle it qualifies for lane-splitting, carpool lanes and motorcycle parking areas. There's also another potential market for Kim's creation, as shown by a local California Highway Patrol officer who recently was poking around the C1. Kim wondered whether his machine would appeal to law enforcement, and the response was positive. "The safety (to the C1 driver) and the fact that you're out of the elements in that bubble seemed very appealing to him," says Kim. http://www.youtube.com/embed/VkvvsRBSroA?rel=0 Sitting inside the C1, you're immediately struck by the airy feeling inside what could be a claustrophobic cocoon, due to the myriad transparent panels overhead and the considerable elbow room inside. The C1 operates much like a car, with a steering wheel that works in concert with the two gyroscopes sitting beneath the driver. Turn in either direction and the C1 knows to slightly lean the machine over in that direction to facilitate the turn. "It's not like riding a motorcycle, where you the rider has to lean," says Kim. "It's more like piloting a fighter jet, where you turn and the plane banks." An accelerator pedal sends electric current to the two wheel-mounted motors, while the brake pedal scrubs off speed; there's a small space for cargo behind the single seat. The working C1 wasn't available for a test drive on this visit, but video Kim shot of rides around LIT's offices show what amounts to a very narrow Smart car on two wheels going about its business with no drama save the stares of those doing double takes at the Jetsons coming to life. "For me, this is the only real option we have left to radically change the way people get around," says Kim, as the computer monitor behind him flashes a graphic featuring a silhouette of a car next to a C1 and in bold letters: "Cut the car in half." "There are a lot of cool car companies out there trying to do new things, but to my thinking nothing's been brought to market yet that's both exciting and sustainable," he says. "The benefits of a small, self-balancing electric two-wheeler far outweigh the small hurdles we might face in developing such a vehicle for humanity."

El asesino, el cura y el secreto de confesión

La mujer asesinada.Irene Hdez. Velasco (corresponsal) | Roma De la italiana Teresa Bottega las malas lenguas han dicho durante 22 años de todo: que era desalmada y egoísta, mala persona y peor madre, una pérfida que únicamente pensaba en su placer personal. Sólo una como ella podía ser capaz de haber abandonado en 1990 a su marido, a su hija de 13 años y a su hijo de 10 sin darles siquiera una explicación, sin despedirse, para no volver a verles nunca más. Una bruja esa Teresa Botegga. Las hermanas de Teresa denunciaron su desaparición. Pero la Policía dio pronto carpetazo al asunto: era evidente que se trataba deabandono del hogar conyugal, era un caso de manual. La señora se había cansado de su rutina y broncas domésticas, soñaba una vida distinta, tal vez había conocido a alguien... y se había largado. Ya en una ocasión anterior se había ido por un breve periodo. Sólo dos personas sabían que en realidad Teresa Botegga era una víctima y que si no había vuelto a poner el pie en su casa en la localidad de Santa Teresa di Spoltore, en Pescara, era porque no podía. Lo sabía Giulio Morrone, su marido, que en medio de una bronca la había estrangulado y arrojado su cadáver a un canal. Y lo sabía también el sacerdote al que le había desvelado su crimen, pero que a causa del secreto de confesión no podía acudir a la policía. El cura vivía atormentado por el peso de ese secreto, pero nunca habló.Sólo se permitió desfogarse brevemente hace diez años con un amigo. Le contó, muy a grandes rasgos, que uno de sus feligreses le había confiado haber matado a su esposa, nada más. El amigo acudió a la Policía, pero eran tan pocos los datos de los que disponía que no se llegó a nada. Pero, hace dos meses, ese mismo hombre volvió a presentarse en la comisaría, con más datos sobre ese oscuro crimen. Esta vez tenía algo más sustancia: el cura le había contado que uno de los hijos del asesino había muerto en un accidente en la montaña, y que el hombre estaba convencido de que su muerte había sido un castigo divino por haber matado a su mujer. La Policía de Pescara investigó y descubrió que el caso encajaba con el de Teresa Bottega, de quien no se tenían noticias desde hacía 22 años y cuyo hijo menor había fallecido en un suceso en la montaña. El caso se reabrió. Y después de dos meses de investigaciones, los agentes se presentaron ayer en casa de Giulio Morrone, el marido, para interrogarle por lo sucedido aquel día de marzo de 1990 en que su mujer desapareció. Al principio insistió en que no sabía nada, en que Teresa se había marchado voluntariamente sin dar explicaciones. Pero, con la ayuda precisamente de ese cura al que le había confesado el crimen, acabó reconociendo que la había estrangulado. Pero en esta historia aún hay otra víctima: la hija de Teresa. Tenía 13 años cuando desapareció su madre y hoy tiene 35, la misma edad que tenía su progenitora cuando fue asesinada. Lleva 22 años convencida de que su madre la abandonó. A su hermano lo perdió en un accidente en la montaña. Y ayer descubrió que su padre es un asesino.

Triste…pero cierto ¿Qué es lo primero que haces tras levantarse de la cama?

La respuesta a esta pregunta variará en su función de su edad, pero si tiene menos de 30 años lo más probable es que lo primero que haga sea agarrar su teléfono móvil. Cisco ha entrevistado a 3.600 estudiantes universitarios de entre 18 y 30 procedentes de 18 países y ha descubierto que nueve de cada diez miran sus smartphones nada más levantarse para comprobar el correo y mirar actualizaciones en las redes sociales. Y lo malo es que la obsesión del nuevo consumidor conectado con las nuevas tecnologías continúa a largo del día. El 85% de las mujeres y el 63% de los hombres mira compulsivamente sus smartphones en busca de mensajes, emails y actualizaciones en las redes sociales. Además, el 40% de los usuarios consultados por Cisco confiesa que sufriría síndrome de abstinencia si no pudiera mirar constantemente sus teléfonos inteligentes. De todos modos, la fiebre de los smartphones no afecta única y exclusivamente a la Generación Y. El 40% de los profesionales que trabajan en el ramo de las nuevas tecnologías mira sus teléfonos inteligentes al menos cada 10 minutos.

¿El gas natural es bueno para el clima?

Nadie sabe exactamente cuánto metano, un potente gas de efecto invernadero, se filtra de los pozos de gas natural y los oleoductos.Un nuevo sistema de detección de gas natural de Picarro, una compañía con sede en Santa Clara, California (Estados Unidos), podría servir de ayuda. El sistema hace mucho más fácil y rápida (y potencialmente barata) la detección y localización de la fuente de las emisiones de gas natural. Aunque la quema de gas natural para generar electricidad libera alrededor de la mitad de dióxido de carbono que la quema de carbón, este beneficio podría verse afectado negativamente por el metano que se libera por accidente durante la perforación o la transmisión del gas natural. Parte del gas se filtra a la atmósfera mientras se está produciendo en los pozos, se comprime y se envía a las ciudades, o se distribuye a los hogares y vehículos. La magnitud de las fugas no se conoce porque su medición no resulta práctica. TECHNOLOGYREVIEW.COM Es relativamente fácil medir la cantidad de metano en el aire, pero es difícil saber exactamente de dónde proviene. Es necesario determinar qué empresa de perforación de gas, por ejemplo, podría tener un sistema particularmente permeable. También es importante dado que existen muchas fuentes de metano distintas al sistema de distribución de gas natural, entre ellas las fugas de metano naturales y el metano producido por el ganado y en los vertederos. "Es complicado atribuir las fugar de emisiones con precisión a una fuente en particular mediante las herramientas convencionales de muestreo de aire", señala Francis Sullivan, investigadora del MIT (Instituto de Tecnología de Massachusetts, EE.UU.) que estudia las emisiones de metano. Picarro señala que su nueva tecnología hace que la localización de la fuente sea mucho más fácil. Su sistema móvil de medición se monta en un coche, permitiendo a los técnicos conducir a través de un área para identificar rápidamente la fuente de las fugas en tiempo real. Combina un avanzado detector de metano basado en una tecnología de la Universidad de Stanford (EE.UU.) que fue lanzado al mercado en 2005, junto con sensores de dirección del viento, detectores de isótopos y algoritmos patentados. Las mediciones de isótopos pueden determinar si el gas procede de una fuente biológica, como un vertedero, o de combustibles fósiles. Las mediciones de metano, integradas con los datos del viento y la información sobre la ubicación exacta y la velocidad del coche, se utilizan para trazar el origen de la fuga en Google Maps. En una prueba, el sistema logró detectar una fuga a medida que los técnicos pasaban por delante de una planta petroquímica. En este caso, se habría asumido que esa era la fuente del metano, señala Eric Crosson, director de tecnología de Picarro.Sin embargo, las mediciones de isótopos identificaron el origen de la fuga como biológico, y las mediciones de viento indicaron que venía de un campo vacío, que resultó ser un vertedero con fugas. Afirma que determinar este tipo de cosas podría haber tomado días o semanas con la tecnología anterior. La tecnología se ha utilizado recientemente para estudiar todas las 785 millas (1.263 kilómetros) de carreteras en Boston en el transcurso de seis semanas.Se han identificado 3.356 puntos donde los niveles de metano fueron más de 15 veces superiores al normal. Este nivel de análisis va mucho más allá de lo que las empresas de gas natural normalmente realizan para detectar fugas, en parte porque sobre todo les preocupan las fugas de gran tamaño. En Boston, solo seis de las fugas se consideraron lo suficientemente grandes para que el servicio público local hiciera algo al respecto. La compañía PG&E en California, que está siendo presionada para mejorar sus prácticas después de una gran explosión de gas natural producida en 2010, también ha adoptado la tecnología de Picarro. PG&E afirma que la tecnología es mil veces más sensible que los métodos convencionales, y permite a la empresa detectar y corregir las fugas más rápidamente. Que la tecnología de Picarro, y otras tecnologías para estudiar las fugas de metano, logren ser utilizadas ampliamente podría depender de la regulación."Sin duda, existe la necesidad de realizar mejores mediciones", señala O'Sullivan. "La pregunta es, ¿quién va a cubrir los costes?".

Facebook estudia cobrar por permitir enviar mensajes privados a desconocidos

Washington, 21 dic (EFE).- Facebook estudia cobrar una tarifa de un dólar para permitir a los usuarios el envío de mensajes privados a otras personas que no están incluidas en su grupo de amigos, informó la compañía. De momento, es un servicio que está probando un grupo de individuos particulares en Estados Unidos. La compañía explica que esto permitirá conectar con personas que se han conocido ocasionalmente pero que pueden tener un "mensaje importante" para el usuario como una oferta de empleo o, por ejemplo, "si quieres enviar un mensaje a alguien del que has oído hablar en un evento". Al mismo tiempo, Facebook asegura que el pago de una tarifa servirá de filtro disuasorio para evitar los mensajes automáticos no deseados ("spam").

La peor pesadilla para Microsoft se está cumpliendo

Tecnología y redes – mié, 19 dic 2012 18:59 CET 2012 ha sido un año intenso para Microsoft. La empresa que dirige Steve Ballmer ha intentado con ahínco liderar el cambio de paradigma en el que nos encontramos: la transición de los ordenadores a las tabletas y los smartphones. Y su gran apuesta para estar a la cabeza en estos turbulentos tiempos es Windows 8, un sistema operativo que puede funcionar en estos tres tipos de aparatos. Pero a pesar de lo revolucionario de su nuevo software, y de las buenas críticas que está cosechando, parece que el mundo de la tecnología está cambiando de una manera que no favorece en nada a esta mítica empresa estadounidense. [Te puede interesar: Microsoft y Motorola piden que el caso de patentes se mantenga en privado] O al menos, así lo parece si repasamos una serie de hechos que han pasado estos 12 últimos meses o que todavía están sucediendo, y que conforman un escenario de pesadilla para Microsoft. Repasamos algunos de ellos. 1. El iPad se come a los PC Las ventas mundiales de ordenadores han descendido un 8% en el último trimestre. En Estados Unidos, la situación es incluso peor: se han vendido un 14% menos de estos aparatos. Estos datos contrastan con las espectaculares ventas del iPad: durante el mismo periodo, Apple ha vendido 14 millones de iPad, un 26% más que el mismo trimestre de 2011. 2. El iPad empieza a ser popular en las empresas Cada vez es más habitual ver a comerciales, auxiliares de cabina, médicos o empleados de banca usando un iPad en vez de un ordenador. Su reducido tamaño, su gran potencia y el hecho de ser ultraportátiles les dan una ventaja considerable sobre sus rivales con teclado. 3. Microsoft Surface no funciona como se esperaba Muchos analistas han criticado con dureza Surface, la tableta de Microsoft. Y parece que los consumidores le están dando la espalda. A pesar de todo el ruido mediático que hizo con su lanzamiento, sus ventas son modestas. Y no lo decimos nosotros, lo dice el propio Steve Ballmer. Tanto, que la empresa ha decidido reducir a la mitad la fabricación de Surface. 4. Windows Phone no destaca A pesar de su gran apuesta por el sector de los móviles, Microsoft de momento no está consiguiendo buenos resultados. Los de Redmond solo tienen el 2% del mercado global, y ni el hundimiento de RIM (los creadores de la BlackBerry) ni todos los acuerdos con Nokia parecen que estén sirviendo para cambiar la situación. 5. Xbox no es lo suficientemente rentable La consola de Microsoft no ha hecho más que darle alegrías a la empresa desde su lanzamiento, pero puede que su éxito no se haya traducido en las suficientes ganancias. De los 21.000 millones que consiguió el año pasado, solo 364 provinieron de la venta de consolas. Puede que el ciclo de vida de la Xbox 360 esté llegando a su fin y que sea necesario el lanzamiento de un nuevo sistema de entretenimiento. 6. Su primer trimestre de pérdidas En 2012, la empresa tuvo su primer trimestre con pérdidas de toda su historia. Sí, en 26 años nunca había presentado números rojos. Es verdad que la causa de esta situación se debe a que en ese trimestre se reflejó la compra en 2007 de la agencia de publicidad online aQuantive, que ha supuesto un desembolso de 6.300 millones de dólares, pero aún así es sintomático. O al menos, una mancha en su inmaculada trayectoria empresarial y algo que hará que este 2012 no vaya a ser recordado con mucho cariño en Redmond.

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El Cielo

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