Ecovative makes its Mushroom Insulation by fusing fungal mycelium with corn stalks. The resultant material has the upsides of foam board insulation—an R-value of 3.8, Class-A fire rating, and competitive price—but none of the petrochemicals, VOCs, or fire retardants. Upon demolition, it can simply be composted. $0.25 per board footArray
By Carey Gillam
(Reuters) - A deadly winter storm that drove parts of the United States into a deep freeze over the weekend kept a tight grip on the nation on Monday, as bitter temperatures, snow and ice spread across the East Coast, snarling traffic and knocking out power to thousands.
As much as 5 inches of snow were forecast for Monday night into Tuesday for an area stretching from Virginia into New York, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.
Meanwhile, dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills were forecast to persist in the western half of the United States, the weather service said, with temperatures about 10 to 30 degrees below average from the Rockies to the Great Lakes and lower Mississippi Valley.
"I don't think things are going to warm up anytime soon," said Bruce Sullivan, National Weather Service meteorologist.
Thousands of homes and businesses were without power Monday morning, and thousands of flights were delayed as snow and ice covered roads, highways and airport runways from Texas and Oklahoma east to Virginia and north through Pennsylvania.
Northern Maryland received 7 to 10 inches of snow over the weekend, while central and eastern Pennsylvania got 4 to 10 inches, and parts of New York received up to 10 inches through Monday morning. [More]
The National Security Agency, still under the microscope because of leaks from former employee Edward Snowden, has been straddling the line between terrifying digital panoptican and almost comically inept government institution. Now, in the latter category: a report that the NSA infiltrated the dark world of online gaming.
In a report jointly published by the Guardian, New York Times, and ProPublica, a leaked report shows the NSA's reasons and strategy for playing games like World of Warcraft and Second Life. From the Guardian:
The NSA document, written in 2008 and titled Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments, stressed the risk of leaving games communities under-monitored, describing them as a "target-rich communications network" where intelligence targets could "hide in plain sight".
Games, the analyst wrote, "are an opportunity!". According to the briefing notes, so many different US intelligence agents were conducting operations inside games that a "deconfliction" group was required to ensure they weren't spying on, or interfering with, each other.
(Emphasis on bizarre use of exclamation point mine.)
The NSA paper argues that online gaming--a huge market of tens of millions--could be a medium for terrorist communications. Even better, from the agency's point of view, systems like headsets could provide useful biometric information for tracking them down.
How far did this program reach? That we don't know, although the leaked report does note that the agency succesfully made its way into Xbox Live, Microsoft's sprawling online gaming system.
But if the NSA's activities in the field led to stopping terrorists, the documents leaked to the Guardian don't mention it.
Controller feedback hasn't changed that much since the days of the Nintendo 64: something happens to your on-screen virtual avatar, and the controller rumbles in your hands to alert you. Although there have been tweaks, this has been the standard mechanism all the way up through the latest generation of consoles, the just-released PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
So it's refreshing to see innovation in the field, like the Reactive Grip controller--even if an influx of funding the creators were hoping for hasn't come. With 46 hours to go, the Reactive Grip, a creation by a team called Tactical Haptics that allows gamers to "feel" the weight of virtual objects, is still about $90,000 short of meeting its $175,000 Kickstarter goal.
That's a shame, since the idea behind the controller is simple but borderline brilliant: the controller detects when you're doing some heavy lifting in a game, then moves sliding plates on the grip to create the illusion of weight. If you're, say, lifting a sword above your head, the plates shift to push against the top of your hands, letting you "feel" the gravity of your swing.
The fact that the controller would only be available for computer games--when living-room consoles like the Wii have had more success with controller experimentation--might be part of the reason it hasn't attracted as many funders as the creators hoped. But the controller was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, so maybe there's some hope we'll see it yet.
Automatic guitar tuners are expensive, hard to install, and overly complex. Or at least they used to be. The Tronical Tune uses an off-the-shelf microprocessor, custom algorithms, and six small motors to create the first affordable self-tuner. The device can retrofit onto almost any guitar without drilling, soldering, or wiring—and once installed, it can tune a guitar in about five seconds. $329Array
Wind and waves battered the northern European coastline last week in the worst gale in more than half a century. At the storm's peak, a wind gust of 142 mph was recorded just outside of Fort William in the Scottish Highlands.[More]
DigitalGlobe is an imaging company that uses a constellation of five satellites to beam down incredible pictures of Earth. In the past year, the company collected more than one billion square kilometers of imagery, and they've turned to the public to choose which of their images deserves the title of Top Commercial Satellite Image of the Year. They went through the impossible task of whittling it down to 20 finalists, and on December 17, DigitalGlobe will announce the top five, as voted on via Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and Twitter. Not to sway your vote, but here are a few of our favorites.
By connecting laptops and smartphones to enormous, remote computing banks, cloud computing gives us access to more processing power than could ever fit in any one of those devices, along with access to all our data and documents from anywhere in the world. The Achilles' heel is security: data that live in the cloud are vulnerable to hackers.[More]
A couple receives an invitation to a birthday party. Through long experience, each intuitively knows what to do next. One partner figures out whether the dress code is formal or casual. The other makes a mental note of the time and place of the gathering so that they don't forget.[More]
When pondering a decision or trying to convince others, think carefully about your metaphors. The implicit information may subtly influence decision making.[More]
We rely on trillions of bacteria, fungi, archaea and viruses in our mouth, on our skin and in our gut to get through the day and to stay healthy. Scientists had no way to study most of these microbes, which do not seem to want to grow in laboratory cultures. Rapidly improving, low-cost genetic-sequencing technologies are finally making it possible, however. By working with our microbes instead of against them, scientists are coming up with intriguing approaches to tackling persistent diseases and improving our overall health.[More]
New mainstream gadgets came out in force this year, as Apple and its Android competitors flooded the market with new tablets and smartphones. We also got a glimpse of the next gadget battlefield: smartwatches. Samsung launched its Galaxy Gear wrist computer/communicator, which already faces competition in the form of Qualcomm’s Toq , the Sony SmartWatch 2 and several others. Apple hasn’t made any official announcement about its entry into the fray--whether they call it an iWatch or something similar--but we’re saving them a spot in 2014. [More]
What if the universe had no beginning, and time stretched back infinitely without a big bang to start things off? That's one possible consequence of an idea called "rainbow gravity," so-named because it posits that gravity's effects on spacetime are felt differently by different wavelengths of light, aka different colors in the rainbow.[More]
What’sa matter with the way I talk? I am a val, I know [More]
Two patients who researchers hoped had been cured of HIV have seen their infections return, dashing hopes that the virus had been eradicated from their bodies.[More]
By Victoria Cavaliere
(Reuters) - A massive winter storm that left parts of Southeastern United States in a deep freeze was pushing up the East Coast on Sunday, with snow and ice snarling road travel and forcing another round of airline cancellations.
The storm system dropped between 3 and 6 inches of snow on West Virginia early Sunday before blanketing the Washington, D.C., metro area with its first accumulation of the season.
Marching north, it was expected to pummel the East Coast with snow, sleet, and freezing rain from Baltimore to north of Portland, Maine, according to the National Weather Service.
The storm system coated roads and highways from Virginia through southeastern Pennsylvania with snow and ice, and reduced visibility made car travel treacherous. [More]
By Patrick Rucker and Nia Williams
WASHINGTON/CALGARY (Reuters) - Canada is running out of time to offer U.S. [More]
By Environment Correspondent Alister Doyle
OSLO (Reuters) - A thaw of Arctic ice and snow is linked to worsening summer heatwaves and downpours thousands of miles south in Europe, the United States and other areas, underlying the scale of the threat posed by global warming, scientists said on Sunday.
Their report, which was dismissed as inconclusive by some other experts, warned of increasingly extreme weather across "much of North America and Eurasia where billions of people will be affected".
The study is part of a drive to work out how climate change affects the frequency of extreme weather, from droughts to floods. [More]