The Military

US Military Stepping Up Use of Directed Energy Weapons 80 80

An anonymous reader writes: At a conference on Tuesday, U.S. officials explained that all branches of the military would be increasing their use of lasers and other directed energy weapons. Lieutenant General William Etter said, "Directed energy brings the dawn of an entirely new era in defense." The Navy's laser deployment test has gone well, and they're working on a new prototype laser in the 100-150 kilowatt range. "[Navy Secretary Ray] Mabus said Iran and other countries were already using lasers to target ships and commercial airliners, and the U.S. military needed to accelerate often cumbersome acquisition processes to ensure that it stayed ahead of potential foes."
Shark

Since Receiving Satellite Tags, Some Sharks Have Become Stars of Social Media 31 31

Lucas123 writes: A research project that tags the world's most dangerous sharks with four different tracking devices and then offers all the data to the public has taken off, garnering hundreds of thousands of users; one shark even has more then 80,000 followers on Twitter. OCEARCH, a non-profit shark tracking project, has tagged about 130 sharks, from great whites and tigers to hammerheads and makos, and open sourced the data in the hope that it will create citizen scientists who will follow the animals and care about what happens to them. To further personify the apex predators, the researchers at OCEARCH have also given the sharks names such as Katharine and Mary Lee, two sharks that are more than 14 feet long and weight more than a ton. OCEARCH's shark tracker has garnered 10 times the traffic it had last year, and it's expected to grow 20 times more by the end of this year. Along with data from satellite, acoustic and accelerometer tags, the project expects to begin using big data analytics to offer more granular data about the animals and their lives to scientists and the public at large.
Shark

CIA Shares Julia Child's Shark Repellent Recipe 41 41

coondoggie writes: Sometimes some of the coolest stories get lost in history. The CIA recently noted one of them – famous French food chef and author Julia Child's critical involvement in developing a shark repellent recipe for military personnel during WWII. The CIA reports: "Julia McWilliams (better known by her married name, Julia Child) joined the newly-created OSS in 1942 in search of adventure. This was years before she became the culinary icon of French cuisine that she is known for today. In fact, at this time, Julia was self-admittedly a disaster in the kitchen. Perhaps all the more fitting that she soon found herself helping to develop a recipe that even a shark would refuse to eat....After trying over 100 different substances—including common poisons—the researchers found several promising possibilities: extracts from decayed shark meat, organic acids, and several copper salts, including copper sulphate and copper acetate. After a year of field tests, the most effective repellent was copper acetate."
Shark

Scientists Look For Patterns In North Carolina Shark Attacks 92 92

HughPickens.com writes: The Washington Post reports that there have been seven recent shark attacks in North Carolina. Scientists are looking for what might be luring the usually shy sharks so close to shore and among the swimmers they usually avoid. It's an unusual number of attacks for a state that recorded 25 attacks between 2005 and 2014. Even with the recent incidents, researchers emphasize that sharks are a very low-level threat to humans, compared with other forms of wildlife. Bees, for example, are much more dangerous. And swimming itself is hazardous even without sharks around.

George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida's Florida Museum of Natural History, speculates that several environmental factors could be pushing sharks to congregate in the Outer Banks. It is a warm year, and the water has a higher level of salinity because of a low-level drought in the area. Also, a common species of forage fish — menhaden — has been abundant this year and might have attracted more sharks to the area. Burgess also says some fishermen put bait in the water near piers, which could lure the predators closer to shore; two of the encounters took place within 100 yards of a pier. "That's a formula for shark attacks," Burgess says of these conditions, taken together. "Now, does that explain seven attacks in three weeks? No, it doesn't."
Technology

Droning For Sharks 48 48

FreedomFirstThenPeac writes: Apparently Orange County (specifically, Seal Beach area) has found that drones are useful for finding hazards at the beach, the story has a nice drone-shot overhead of a small shark (scale is hard to tell). They also report that it is easy to spot rip tides. The question of the day, how long till someone links imaging processing software with the guidance system so they can get the drones to hover over, and follow along, as sharks patrol off shore? Just another day at the beach, see the shoal of nerds schooling along with their drone controls? They are the ones who are missing all the swimsuit-enhanced normals in the area.
Shark

Second Ever Super-rare Pocket Shark Discovered 27 27

The Grim Reefer writes: Scientists working off the coast of the US have found something pretty incredible — the second pocket shark ever discovered, some 36 years after the first one was spotted off the coast of Peru. The team, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), say the tiny creature — which measures just 13 cm (5.5 inches) long — was caught off the coast of Louisiana, where they were observing the feeding habits of sperm whales. It belongs to the genus Mollisquama, which has earned itself the nickname 'pocket shark', not because of its pocked-sized dimensions, but because of the unique and rather mysterious orifice it has above its pectoral fin.
Shark

World's Most Powerful Laser Diode Arrays Deployed 63 63

Zothecula writes: The High-Repetition-Rate Advanced Petawatt Laser System (HAPLS) under construction in the Czech Republic is designed to generate a peak power of more than 1 petawatt. The key component to this instrument – the laser "pump" – will be a set of solid-state laser diode arrays recently constructed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. At peak power, this electronic assemblage develops a staggering 3.2 million watts of power and are the most powerful laser diode arrays ever built.
Transportation

Finland Announces an Anti-Laser Campaign For Air Traffic 114 114

jones_supa writes Trafi, the Finnish Pilots' Association, and STUK, the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, have launched a joint campaign against air traffic interference with the title "Lasers Are Not Toys." Ilkka Kaakinen from Trafi says that laser pointers interfering with air traffic is a real problem in Finland. "We receive reports of several cases of laser interference every month and every one of them is potentially dangerous," Kaakinen says. Last year, 60 cases of laser pointer interference were reported in Finland, and the figure for this year was at 58 in November. Despite the continuing interference, only one person has been caught misusing a laser pointer in this way in Finland. That single person was not convicted of a crime, as the court was not able to establish intent. Kaakinen says other countries hand down severe punishments for interfering with air traffic, even years-long stretches in prison. He also reminds that it is important for users of laser pointers to understand that the devices are not toys, and that children should be warned of the potential danger in using them irresponsibly – or ideally, not given one at all.
The Military

Navy Develops a Shark Drone For Surveillance 45 45

An anonymous reader writes The Navy is testing a new underwater drone called GhostSwimmer, which is designed to a look like a shark and conduct surveillance work. It is being adapted by the chief of naval operations' Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC) project, Silent NEMO, in Norfolk, Va.. GhostSwimmer is 5 feet long and weighs almost 100 pounds. It can operate in water depths from 10 inches to 300 feet, and is designed to operate autonomously for long periods of time, according to the Navy.
Shark

US Navy Authorizes Use of Laser In Combat 225 225

mi writes The U.S. Navy has declared an experimental laser weapon on its Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) in the Persian Gulf an operational asset and U.S. Central Command has given permission for the commander of the ship to defend itself with the weapon. The 30 kilowatt Laser Weapon System (LaWS) was installed aboard USS Ponce this summer as part of a $40 million research and development effort from ONR and Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) to test the viability of directed energy weapons in an operational environment. No word yet on a smaller, shark-mounted version.
Shark

Trains May Soon Come Equipped With Debris-Zapping Lasers 194 194

Molly McHugh writes: Holland's chief transportation service is testing a unique new way to clear the rails of fallen leaves and other small debris: by mounting lasers on the fronts of locomotives. The lasers will cause the leaves, which produce a condition commonly referred to as "slippery rail" in the fall and winter months, to vanish in a puff of smoke.
Shark

Engineers Build Ultrasmall Organic Laser 22 22

ckwu writes: Researchers have made the tiniest organic laser reported to date. The 8-micrometer-long, 440-nanometer-wide device, which looks like a suspended bridge riddled with holes, is carved into a silicon chip coated with an organic dye. Integrated into microprocessors, such tiny lasers could one day speed up computers by shuttling data using light rather than electrons. The new organic laser is optically pumped—that is, powered by pulses from another laser. But it has a very low threshold—the energy required to start lasing—of 4 microjoules per square centimeter. The low threshold brings the device closer to engineers' ultimate goal of creating an organic laser that can run on electric current, which would be key for on-chip use.
Shark

Kevlar Protects Cables From Sharks, Experts Look For Protection From Shark Week 103 103

Brandon Butler writes As an ode to Shark Week: Sharks have been known to show an appetite for fiber cables underwater, and last week a Google official said to prevent sharks from wreaking havoc on the company's trans-Pacific fiber lines, it wraps them in Kevlar. It's believed that the emission of electrical currents from the fiber piping is mistaken by sharks occasionally as prey. In related news, a growing number of scientists are becoming disgruntled with the Discovery network's sensationalist programs. Many shark experts are refusing to work with the channel after such programs as their Megalodon "documentary" and their latest Shark of Darkness (not to mention the mermaid special, which was sadly missing a singing crab.)

Sockatume writes The Verge has an article on Discovery's hugely successful Shark Week, discussing how the increasing sensationalist special event misrepresents science and exploits nature and local history for shock value. Scientists who appeared in and were misrepresented by the channel's programming are beginning to encourage their peers to stay away from the Discovery network, which stands by the programming 's viewing figures.
Medicine

Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later 550 550

gunner_von_diamond (3461783) happened upon Ask Slashdot: Experiences with Laser Eye Surgery from ten years ago, and asks: I was just reading a story on /. from 10 years ago about Lasik Eye Surgery. Personally, I've had Lasik done and loved every single part of the surgery. I went from wearing contacts/glasses every day to having 20/15 vision! In the older post, everyone seemed to be cautious about it, waiting for technical advances before having the surgery. Today, the surgery is fairly inexpensive [even for a programmer :) ], takes about 10-15 minutes, and I recovered from the surgery that same day. So my question is: what is holding everyone else back from freeing themselves from contacts and glasses?
Shark

NIF Compresses Diamonds With 50 Million Atmospheres of Pressure 81 81

sciencehabit (1205606) writes The world's largest laser [the National Ignition Facility], a machine that appeared as the warp core in 'Star Trek into Darkness', has attained a powerful result: It's squeezed diamond, the least compressible substance known, 50 million times harder than Earth's atmosphere presses down on us. ... As the researchers report online today in Nature, the x-ray assault nearly quadrupled the diamond's density. "That's a record," Smith [one of the researchers] says. "No one's compressed diamond to that extent before." The blast pulverized the diamond into dust, but before the mineral's destruction the scientists successfully measured its density ... For a billionth of a second, the diamond, which is normally 3.25 times denser than water, became ... 12.03 times denser than water. ... Scientists have speculated that diamond worlds may exist elsewhere. If a solar system arises with more carbon than oxygen, then carbon should soak up the oxygen by forming carbon monoxide, leaving excess carbon to create carbon planets—which, under pressure, become diamond worlds. Thus, Smith says, the new experiment will probe the nature of such planets. They are performing similar experiments with iron in an attempt to understand the properties of super-Earth cores.
Shark

Shark! New Sonar Buoy Will Warn Beachgoers When Large Sharks Are Near 55 55

stephendavion writes: While the risk of being attacked by a shark is certainly low, it's one of those terrors that can weigh heavily on the mind of a beach-goer, particularly in higher-risk beaches such as those in Australia and South Africa. A new device is currently being developed to warn swimmers when a shark is detected in the water near a beach, and — no surprise — the Aussies are behind it. The Clever Buoy is being called the "world's first shark detection buoy" by its developers. The project is a collaboration between Australian telecommunications company Optus and marine safety company Shark Attack Mitigation Systems.
Shark

Great White Sharks Making Comeback Off Atlantic Coast 107 107

An anonymous reader writes "A report that scientists are calling one of the most comprehensive studies of great white sharks finds their numbers are surging in the ocean off the Eastern U.S. and Canada after decades of decline — bad news if you're a seal, but something experts say shouldn't instill fear. The scientists behind the study attribute the resurgence to conservation efforts, such as a federal 1997 act that prevented hunting of great whites, and greater availability of prey. The species is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature."
Shark

Public Interest In Great White Shark Devours Research Site's Servers 57 57

Lucas123 writes: Katherine, a 14-foot, 2,300lb. Great White Shark, has become so popular with visitors to a research site tracking her daily movements that the site's servers have crashed and remained down for hours. The shark, one of dozens tagged for research by the non-profit global shark tracking project OCEARCH, typically cruises very close to shore up and down the Eastern Seaboard. That has attracted a lot interest from the swimming public. Currently, however, she's heading from Florida's west coast toward Texas. OCEARCH tags sharks with four different technologies to create a three-dimensional image of a shark's activities. "On average, we're collecting 100 data points every second — 8.5 million data points per day."
ISS

NASA Beams Hi-Def Video From Space Via Laser 38 38

An anonymous reader writes "NASA successfully beamed a high-definition video 260 miles from the International Space Station to Earth Thursday using a new laser communications instrument. Transmission of 'Hello, World!' as a video message was the first 175-megabit communication for the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS), a technology demonstration that allows NASA to test methods for communication with future spacecraft using higher bandwidth than radio waves." Last September, NASA's LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer) showed that they could supply a lunar colony with broadband via lasers.
Shark

Is There a Limit To a Laser's Energy? 135 135

StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "For normal matter — things like protons, neutrons and electrons — there's a fundamental limit to the number of particles you can fit into a given region of space thanks to the Pauli exclusion principle. But photons aren't subject to that limit; in theory, you could cram an infinite number of them into the same exact state. In principle, then, couldn't you create a laser (or lasing cavity) with an infinite amount of energy inside? Perhaps, but there are some big challenges to be overcome!"