NeverVotedBush writes with news reported by CNN that a passenger manifest for the flight that went missing on its way from Malaysia to China indicates that "Twenty of the passengers aboard the flight work with Freescale Semiconductor, a company based in Austin, Texas. The company said that 12 of the employees are from Malaysia and eight are from China," and writes "Apparently, at least two passengers used stolen passports to board."
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mknewman writes with an article at NASA SpaceFlight which lays out the details of a plan from SpaceX to send a craft to Mars, using an in-development engine ("Raptor") along with the company's Super Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle. "Additionally, Mr. Musk also introduced the mysterious MCT project, which he later revealed to be an acronym for Mars Colonial Transport. This system would be capable of transporting 100 colonists at a time to Mars, and would be fully reusable. Article is technically dense but he does seem to follow through on his promises!" This is an endeavor that's been on Elon Musk's mind for a while.
joe5 writes "Well, leave it the golden state. The Kings Canyon (near Squaw Valley) Unified School District recently launched the first all-electric school bus in the United States. The bus is a modified SST Trans Tech model based on a Ford E-Series van chassis — and Motiv Power Systems created the electric drive train. (The project was a collaboration between those two companies plus the California Air Resources Board.) The electric bus can carry 25 students with an estimated range of 80 to 100 miles— and while it costs more than a standard combustion engine version, is expected to save about 16 gallons of fuel per day. Thanks to a federal highway program, three more electric buses are on their way to the Kings Canyon district and similar programs are in the works in both Chicago and New York."
cold fjord writes with this CNN report: "Massachusetts' highest court ruled Wednesday that it is not illegal to secretly photograph underneath a person's clothing — a practice known as "upskirting" — prompting one prosecutor to call for a revision of state law. The high court ruled that the practice did not violate the law because the women who were photographed while riding Boston public transportation were not nude or partially nude."
cartechboy writes "Math watch time: For many traffic analysts, INRIX is considered the gold-standard. This week the company says traffic congestion surged in 2013 and grew over three times as fast as the American economy. The bad news: If true, this reverses two consecutive years of traffic declines with a six percent increase in 2013. (GDP, by comparison, grew 1.9 percent last year.) The analysts then theorize links between economic growth and traffic congestion, which makes sense on the surface. (As the economy improves, more jobs are created, so more commuters on the roads) But INRIX's theory creates as many questions as it answers. For example, the U.S. GDP has been steadily growing since 2009. So why did congestion decline in 2011 and 2012?"
v3rgEz writes "Even as some police departments curtail their use of license plate scanning technology over privacy concerns, private companies have been amassing a much larger, almost completely unregulated database that pulls in billions of scans a year, marking the exact time and location of millions of vehicles across America. The database, which is often offered to law enforcement for free, is collected by repo and towing companies eager to tap easy revenue, while the database companies then resell that data, often for as little as $25 for a plate's complete recorded history."
cartechboy writes "It's no secret that semi trucks use a lot of fuel. Moving that amount of mass along at highway speeds takes a lot of power. But Walmart might have just unveiled the semi truck of the future with its WAVE concept truck. This crazy looking semi features an aerodynamic cab and looks like no other truck on the road. The driver sits in the center of the cab and the steering wheel is flanked by LCD screens instead of conventional gauges. The WAVE concept is powered by a range-extended electric powertrain consisting of a Capstone micro-turbine and an electric motor. To reduce weight the entire truck including the trailer is made of carbon fiber. The 53-foot side panels on the trailer are said to be the first single pieces of carbon fiber that large ever produced. The result? A trailer that weighs around 4,000 pounds less than a conventional one. While Walmart says it has no plans to produce the WAVE concept, one has to wonder if this is a look at what semis of the future will be like."
An anonymous reader writes "Apple announced today a system called CarPlay, which integrates your iPhone with your car, with Siri voice control. CarPlay will be offered in Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo vehicles this year, and others 'down the road.' From the press release: 'CarPlay makes driving directions more intuitive by working with Maps to anticipate destinations based on recent trips via contacts, emails or texts, and provides routing instructions, traffic conditions and ETA. You can also simply ask Siri and receive spoken turn-by-turn directions, along with Maps, which will appear on your car’s built-in display.'
An anonymous reader writes "Inventor Jeff Guida has come up with a way to turn any Citibike into an electric scooter. His ShareRoller is about the size of a small briefcase, weighs just seven pounds, and has a 12- to 20-mile range. From the article: '"Years ago, I would've needed a giant engineering company and several million dollars in development research and it still would've taken two years or more," Guida said. But 3D printing has changed all that. In the coming months, Guida hopes to design a universal bracket so that the ShareRoller can be used on any bike. He has some competition there, as there are a few companies that make wheels that convert regular bikes into electric bikes, but he says the ShareRoller is more convenient.'"
First time accepted submitter Recaply writes "Here's a look back at the 1960's Bell Aerosystems Rocket Belt. 'Born out of sci-fi cinema, pulp literature and a general lust for launching ourselves into the wild blue yonder, the real-world Rocket Belt began to truly unfold once the military industrial complex opened up its wallet. In the late 1950s, the US Army's Transportation Research Command (TRECOM) was looking at ways to augment the mobility of foot soldiers and enable them to bypass minefields and other obstacles on the battleground by making long-range jumps. It put out a call to various aerospace companies looking for prototypes of a Small Rocket Lift Device (SRLD). Bell Aerospace, which had built the sound-barrier-breaking X-1 aircraft for the Army Air Forces, managed to get the contract and Wendell Moore, a propulsion engineer at Bell became the technical lead.'"
An anonymous reader tips news that Apple's efforts to bring iOS to cars will be shown at the Geneva Motor Show next week. 'Drivers will be able to use Apple Maps as in-car navigation, as well as listen to music and watch films. Calls can be made through the system, which will tie into the Siri voice recognition platform so that messages can be read to the driver who can respond by dictating a reply.' Apple's partners in the automotive industry will be Volvo, Ferrari, and Mercedes Benz to start. Apple first said they were working on this system at last year's WWDC.
Lucas123 writes "As the sophistication of automotive electronics advances, from autonomous driving capabilities to three-dimensional cameras, the industry is in need of greater bandwidth to connect devices to a car's head unit. Enter Ethernet. Industry standards groups are working to make 100Mbps and 1Gbps Ethernet de facto standards within the industry. Currently, there are as many as nine proprietary auto networking specifications, including LIN, CAN/CAN-FD, MOST and FlexRay. FlexRay, for example, has a 10Mbps transmission rate. Making Ethernet the standard in the automotive industry could also open avenues for new apps. For example, imagine a driver getting turn-by-turn navigation while a front-seat passenger streams music from the Internet, and each back-seat passenger watches streaming videos on separate displays." This might get us into trouble when the Cylons show up.
Jason Harrington (@Jas0nHarringt0n) is a controversial blogger, frequent contributor to McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and one of the TSA's least favorite ex-employees. His descriptions of life on the job as a TSA agent caused some big waves and restarted a national discussion on security theater. Jason will be answering your questions below for the next couple of hours, or until the security line starts moving again. Please keep it to one question per post so everyone gets a chance. Update: 03/01 02:11 GMT by S : Jason has finished up for now — you can skip to his answers at his user page, or simply browse the comments to read everything. Thanks Jason for answering our questions!
jfruh writes "Steven R. Spriggs was ticketed and fined $165 for violating California's law on cell phone use while operating a motor vehicle, which states that you can only use a phone while driving if you have a hands-free device. But he appealed the judgement, arguing that the law only applied to actually talking on the phone, whereas he had been caught checking his GPS app. Now an appeals court has agreed with him. The law in question was enacted in 2006, before the smartphone boom."
sciencehabit writes "About 1000 meters down in a remote part of the Atlantic Ocean sits an unusual legacy of humanity's love affair with the automobile. It's a huge mass of seawater infused with traces of the toxic metal lead, a pollutant once widely emitted by cars burning leaded gasoline. Decades ago, the United States and Europe banned leaded gas and many other uses of the metal, but the pollutant's fingerprint lingers on—as shown by remarkably detailed new 3-D maps released this week. The 3D maps and animations are the early results of an unprecedented $300 million international collaboration to document the presence of trace metals and other chemicals in the world's oceans. The substances, which often occur in minute quantities, can provide important clues to understanding the ocean's past—such as how seawater masses have moved around over centuries—and its future, such as how climate change might shift key biochemical processes."
Jason Harrington's story pulling back the curtain on life as a TSA agent was an uncomfortable revelation to some, and a confirmation to many frustrated travelers. His descriptions of a typical day on the job highlighted why few in the security line were happy, including the agents: 'I hated it from the beginning. It was a job that had me patting down the crotches of children, the elderly and even infants as part of the post-9/11 airport security show. I confiscated jars of homemade apple butter on the pretense that they could pose threats to national security. I was even required to confiscate nail clippers from airline pilots—the implied logic being that pilots could use the nail clippers to hijack the very planes they were flying.' Jason will be sitting down with us tomorrow Friday, February 28th starting at 3pm ET (20:00 GMT) to talk with you live about security theater and life after the TSA.
kc123 writes in with news that Rolls Royce is designing unmanned cargo ships."Rolls-Royce's Blue Ocean development team has set up a virtual-reality prototype at its office in Alesund, Norway, that simulates 360-degree views from a vessel's bridge. Eventually, the London-based manufacturer of engines and turbines says, captains on dry land will use similar control centers to command hundreds of crewless ships. Drone ships would be safer, cheaper and less polluting for the $375 billion shipping industry that carries 90 percent of world trade, Rolls-Royce says."
cartechboy writes "We've heard about Tesla building this new gigafactory to produce battery packs for its electric cars. Heck, the company's current bottleneck is its ability to get battery packs for its electric cars. In fact, last year Tesla used a bit more than one-third of the auto industry's electric-car batteries, and that was with only selling 22,477 cars last year. Tesla is expanding its model lineup as quickly as possible with the introduction of the Model X crossover next year and a compact sports sedan in 2017. With the rapid expansion of its vehicle line, Tesla is going to need a crazy amount of battery packs, and quickly. Thus, the Silicon Valley upstart is building the gigafactory to engineer and produce battery packs in much larger quantities. If Tesla can remove the battery production bottle neck it's currently facing, the only question left will be market acceptance of a mainstream electric car."
Lucas123 writes "Terrafugia, a company that has been working on flying car prototypes for years, said it is now leaning toward an autonomous vehicle for safety reasons. Carl Dietrich, co-founder, CEO and CTO at Terrafugia, said at MIT last weekend that the company wants to build something that is statistically safer than driving a car. 'It needs to be faster than driving a car. It needs to be simpler to operate than a plane. It needs to be more convenient than driving a car today. It needs to be sustainable in the long run,' he said. The company's flyable car is designed with foldable wings and falls into the light sport aircraft category. It's expected to take off and land at small, local airports and to drive on virtually any road. Dietrich said the next-generation flying car is a four-seat, plug-in hybrid that doesn't require the operator to be a full-fledged pilot. A spokeswoman said today that the company is probably two years away from production."
cartechboy writes "When one thinks of Consumer Reports, refrigerator ratings and car seat reviews usually come to mind, but the organization actually reviews cars too. In fact, it just released a new round of top vehicle picks and it said the Tesla Model S is is the Best Overall Car you can buy. It's unusual, to say the least, for an outlet that typically names a Toyota or Lexus to choose an electric car that costs nearly $100,000 in most popular configurations from a Silicon Valley upstart. Interestingly, the Toyota Prius was named the Best Green Car. Isn't the Model S green? But I digress. A company that many thought would be bankrupt and closed by now has produced a brand-new electric car from scratch that Consumer Reports feels is the best car it's actually tested since 2007."