Satellite Internet for Airline Passengers

Inmarsat Ltd., the British satellite communications firm, announced Tuesday it would begin selling satellite bandwidth to fliers who wish to surf the Web, send e-mail and eventually, watch television.

To use the service, carriers need to upgrade an aircraft’s avionics — a $200,000 investment — as well as wire the plane with a computer network to provide an Internet jack at each seat. In most cases, passengers would connect their own laptop computers to the network.

Bandwidth will be provided to the aircraft at about $11-$15 per minute, which could be resold to passengers at the carrier’s discretion.

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Fees Threaten to Silence Web Radio

With the recording industry standing its ground and the webcasters lobbying for a reprieve, the battle is shaping up to be one that could determine whether online radio winds up in the hands of the many or the few.

Some stations have stopped their webcasts, and others are asking legislators for help with the proposed fees, which were announced at the end of February as part of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act
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Throwable Robots – The New Mobile Infantry

Today, more than 40 Darpa-backed companies and academic labs are developing robots. There are recon machines that can be air-dropped into enemy territory and relay back intelligence data in real time. There are 3-pound surveillance bots that frontline soldiers could lob through a window or around a corner to get an audio and video preview of conditions. There are robots that can negotiate harsh terrain, scurry up stairs, or rush into battle to rescue injured soldiers pinned down by heavy shelling or gunfire. Other machines in development can carry weapons, deliver jolts of electricity, sniff for biogerms, and see through walls. Also see SAIC’s Throwbot.
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Classrooms of the Future

Schools have made progress integrating computers and PDAs into the classroom, yet one design firm believes that more drastic changes are needed, so they created a prototype of what a future classroom may look like.

Herbst Lazar Bell’s solution is a “customizable education system” called Gooru that reorganizes the classroom and replaces books, writing utensils and desks.

The three-part technology system consists of an interactive PDA called the GooBall, a backpack and a removable flexible LCD screen for each student. Students can sit, stand or lie down when using the devices, and are not confined to desks.

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Cold Virus Altered to Kill Cancer

A genetically engineered virus designed to home in on and kill cancer cells may be safe to test in patients whose cancer has spread, researchers said on Monday.

The latest in a series of experiments using Onyx-015, a cold virus altered so that it infects and kills only cancer cells and leaves healthy cells alone, produced positive results on liver cancer, the researchers said.

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Canadian Government Sanctions Gopher Hunting Derby

The Canadian province of Saskatchewan is offering cash prizes to the top guns in its 2002 gopher-hunting derby, but the plan to rid the Prairie farming region of a plague of the cute, crop-eating rodents is drawing flak from animal rights activists.

The 2002 Ken Turcott Memorial Gopher Derby began this week in the western province. Named after a local, avid, gopher exterminator, the derby is sponsored by the Saskatoon Wildlife Federation, which warns that gopher numbers have reached epidemic levels.

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Scientists Look for Time Ripples

This summer, two observatories in the United States begin their search for gravitational waves from outer space, looking for evidence of black holes, neutron stars and supernovas.

Cosmic cataclysms are believed to produce ripples – gravitational waves – that travel at the speed of light in the fabric of space and time, but so far, no one’s ever seen them.

The effect researchers are looking for is similar to that of a rock being dropped into water, with the ripples diminishing in size the farther they get from the spot where the rock fell.

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World’s Fastest Supercomputer Simulates Nuclear Explosion

Redefining the term vaporware, research scientists at Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore Labs detonated two computer simulations. ASCI White, the world’s fastest supercomputer, ran the simulations of nuclear explosions. Scientists can now study nuclear weapon replacement components without violating the nuclear test ban, in effect since 1992. Each simulation used more than 6.6 million CPU hours, which would take home machines 1000 years to complete. The data for each experiment was equivalent to 35 times the information available in the Library of Congress.
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