s.s. nautilus
slashdot le : 19/05/2022 01:00:20
Vangelis, the Greek composer and musician whose synth-driven work brought huge drama to film soundtracks including Blade Runner and Chariots of Fire, has died aged 79. The Guardian reports: Born Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou in 1943, Vangelis won an Oscar for his 1981 Chariots of Fire soundtrack. Its uplifting piano motif became world-renowned, and reached No 1 in the US charts, as did the accompanying soundtrack album. [...] Chariots of Fire became inextricable from Vangelis's timeless theme, and the music became synonymous with slow-motion sporting montages. "My music does not try to evoke emotions like joy, love, or pain from the audience. It just goes with the image, because I work in the moment," he later explained. His score to Blade Runner is equally celebrated for its evocation of a sinister future version of Los Angeles, where robots and humans live awkwardly alongside one another, through the use of long, malevolent synth notes; saxophones and lush ambient passages enhance the film's romantic and poignant moments. "It has turned out to be a very prophetic film -- we're living in a kind of Blade Runner world now," he said in 2005.

Later in the decade he scored the Palme d'Or-winning Costa-Gavras political drama Missing, starring Jack Lemmon; the Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins drama The Bounty; and the Mickey Rourke-starring Francesco. He worked again with the Blade Runner director, Ridley Scott, on 1992 film 1492: Conquest of Paradise, and elsewhere during the 1990s, soundtracked Roman Polanski's Bitter Moon and documentaries by Jacques Cousteau. [...] A fascination with outer space found voice in 2016's Rosetta, dedicated to the space probe of the same name, and Nasa appointed his 1993 piece Mythodea (which he claimed to have written in an hour) as the official music of the Mars Odyssey mission of 2001. His final album, 2021's Juno to Jupiter, was inspired by the Nasa probe Juno and featured recordings of its launch and the workings of the probe itself in outer space.

slashdot le : 03/05/2022 20:00:24
vm shares the blogpost of Mozilla releasing Firefox 100, and outlines some of thoughts: Out of the ashes of Netscape/AOL, Firebird rose as a promising new browser. A significant name change and a hundred releases later, Firefox 100 is still the underdog that keeps on fighting. With my mounting annoyance at all the Google services underpinning Chrome, I've since discovered and used Ungoogled Chromium, Waterfox, LibreWolf, and a handful of other lesser known spins on Chrome or Firefox. On mobile, Brave really does the best job at ad blocking whether you're on iOS or Android but the Mozilla Foundations is probably still the largest dev group fighting the good fight when it comes to both privacy and security enhancements.That's not to say that the Chromium team isn't security savvy -- I only wish they were just a little less Google. Anyhow, tell us about your favorite browser in the comments and have a look at Mozilla's latest release while you're at it.

slashdot le : 02/05/2022 10:00:23
Scientists working on NASA's James Webb Telescope have reached an important milestone, completely aligning the space observatory's massive mirrors. New Atlas reports: The achievement means the team can now move ahead with configuring the onboard instruments and prepare them to begin capturing sharp and in-focus images of the cosmos. Back in January, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) finished deploying its set of 18 mirrors, which it will use to direct light from cosmic objects onto its instruments to capture images. But to do so, the mirrors had to be precisely aligned over a three-month period in order to focus that light correctly. In March, the mirrors were brought into alignment with the telescope's primary imaging instrument, the Near-Infrared Camera, enabling it to focus and snap a crystal-clear image of a bright star. The team then continued aligning the mirrors with the JWST's remaining instruments, the Near-Infrared Spectrograph, Mid-Infrared Instrument, and Near Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph -- a task that is now complete.

The team confirmed the mirrors were aligned and directing light onto the JWST's four instruments by capturing a set of test images covering the telescope's full-field of view [...]. The scientists say the optical performance of the telescope continues to exceed even their most optimistic expectations. With the mirrors now in position (save for some slight periodic adjustments here and there), the scientists are now turning their attention to commissioning of the science instruments. The unique lenses, masks, filters and other gear that make these highly sophisticated instruments tick will need to be precisely configured over the next two months, to ready the telescope for the start of its science operations in the middle of the year.

slashdot le : 25/04/2022 10:00:23
Solar and wind power are "intermittent," points out Slashdot reader silverjacket . "A feature in this week's issue of The New Yorker highlights current efforts to use gravity, heat, momentum, air pressure, and other methods to store large amounts of energy for the electricity grid."

In other words, alternatives to massive lithium-ion batteries: Quidnet [has] patented a new kind of pumped hydro. Instead of pumping water uphill, the company's system sends it underground through a pipe reaching at least a thousand feet down. Later, the system lets the Earth squeeze the water back up under pressure, using it to drive generators. Wright and Craig are veterans of the oil and gas industry, and Quidnet's technology is like a green riff on fracking.... Initially, Quidnet encountered skepticism about its ability to form lenses of the right size and shape. By the time I visited, however, it had successfully completed multiple pumping cycles in Texas, Ohio, and Alberta. The company has received thirty-eight million dollars in private and government funding, including contributions from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, established by Bill Gates.
The New Yorker science/technology writer also interviewed Bill Gross, a longtime investor in solar power and a co-founder of his own energy-storage company called Energy Vault. He points an inconvenient truth: "it actually costs more to store electricity than to make it." In many cases, solar and wind have become less expensive than coal and gas. But add the cost of storage, and renewables can lose to fossil fuels.
But he's working on his own solution... Energy Vault's first attempt at a system was EV1, a looming, Transformer-like tower crane with six arms. The idea was that such a crane would stack blocks in a wall around itself, then unstack them.... [T]he company moved on to a new, enclosed design, called EVx. In renderings, it resembles a boxy automated warehouse forty stories tall. Elevators will use clean power to lift blocks weighing as much as thirty tons and put them on trolleys, which will move them toward the middle of the structure. When energy is needed, the blocks will be moved back to the elevators. As they descend, the elevators will power generators, producing new electricity... The EVx demo is being developed in a bucolic Swiss mountain valley in the shadow of EV1...

[T]he company isn't alone in pursuing what's known as "gravity storage." Gravitricity, based in Scotland, recently concluded a demonstration that involved hefting a fifty-ton block up a tower, two stories at a time; it now plans to raise and lower single, thousand-ton blocks inside disused mine shafts. Two other companies, Gravity Power, in California, and Gravity Storage GmbH, in Hamburg, aim to place a massive weight at the bottom of a shaft and then pump water underneath to lift it. To withdraw energy, they'll let the weight push the water down into a pipe and through a turbine. RheEnergise, based in Montreal, has come up with yet another take on pumped hydro, centered on a fluid that the company invented called R-19, which is two and a half times as dense as water; its system will move the fluid between tanks at the top and bottom of an incline. The work is still at the crowdfunding stage.

Just as you can store potential energy by lifting a block in the air, you can store it thermally, by heating things up. Companies are banking heat in molten salt, volcanic rocks, and other materials. Giant batteries, based on renewable chemical processes, are also workable. In so-called flow batteries, tanks can be used to manage electrolytes, which hold a charge. In hydrogen storage, electrolysis is used to separate hydrogen from oxygen in water; the hydrogen is then cached underground, or in aboveground tanks, as gas or liquid or part of ammonia. When it's recombined with oxygen in a fuel cell, it forms water again and releases electricity.

The article's last line? "Nature can help us generate power. Maybe it can help us hold on to it, too."

slashdot le : 24/04/2022 17:00:23
Once every 10 years there's a report released by America's National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Released this year, the report recommends prioritizing a mission to the planet Uranus to map its gravitational and magnetic fields and study how the planet's internal heat moves to the surface.

BGR reports: Despite being the seventh planet in our solar system, there's very little we know about Uranus as a whole. In fact, one of the best images we have of the planet was captured in 1986 by the Voyager 2... Additionally, scientists want to learn more about the various moons that surround the planet. We also know very little about the ring system that surrounds the blue planet. A team led by Mark Hofstadter, a planetary scientist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab wrote a white paper on their goals....

We currently already have the tech we need to get a spacecraft there that can orbit the planet. Additionally, scientists have found that launching a mission in 2031 would allow us to capitalize on gravity assistance from Jupiter.

The report also recommends studying Enceladus, an icy moon orbiting Saturn which has shown signs it could sustain microbial life.

Thanks to Slashdot reader alaskana98 for submitting the story.