The mission’s ChemCam instrument hit a fist-sized rock named “Coronation” with 30 pulses of its laser during a 10-second period. Each pulse delivers more than a million watts of power for about five one-billionths of a second.
The energy from the laser creates a puff of ionized, glowing plasma. ChemCam catches the light with a telescope and analyzes it with three spectrometers for information about what elements are in the rock.
NASA said the main function of this was target practice to calibrate the ChemCam.
A milestone for Twitter today, according to the Paris-based analyst group Semiocast. The social network has now passed the half-billion account mark — specifically 517 million accounts as of July 1, 2012, with 141.8 million of those users in the U.S., still about half as many users as Facebook has but positioning it as the second-biggest social networking site.
And just as most of Twitter’s users are coming from outside the U.S., so are the tweets: the top three cities in terms of tweets, it says, are Jakarta, Tokyo and London.
Make no mistake: the higher the unemployment rate in November 2012, the less likely President Obama is to win a second term.
But we should be careful about asserting that there is any particular threshold at which Mr. Obama would go from favorite to underdog, or any magic number at which his re-election would either become impossible or a fait accompli. Historically, the relationship between the unemployment rate and a president’s performance on Election Day is complicated and tenuous.
…historically, the correlation between the unemployment rate and a president’s electoral performance has been essentially zero.
Unemployment increased by 1.9 percentage points over the course of Richard M. Nixon’s first term, but he won re-election easily. It also increased in George W. Bush’s and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s first terms, and their re-election bids were also successful. The unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent from 5.3 percent, meanwhile, in Bill Clinton’s second term — but his vice president, Al Gore, could not beat Mr. Bush in the Electoral College.
There are also cases in which the data behaved more intuitively: Jimmy Carter and the elder George Bush all faced high unemployment rates when they lost their re-election bids, as did Gerald R. Ford in 1976, and that was surely a factor in their defeats.
Having trouble waiting until October to get your zombie suspense fix? Pick up The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season ($70) on Blu-ray. This limited edition set includes all 13 episodes from the second season, as well as audio commentaries, webisodes, deleted scenes, over 10 new featurettes, all spread across fours discs, that come encased in a fittingly gross zombie-with-a-screwdriver-in-his-eye statue.
If you’ve ever had to slam on the brakes to prevent an accident, you know that the time it takes to get your foot to that pedal can seem like an eternity. Now, German researchers aim to cut that reaction time by getting drivers’ brain waves to help stop the car. Their findings appear in the Journal of Neural Engineering.
When you’re behind the wheel, or doing anything physical, your brain knows what it wants you to do before your body swings into action. Most times, this minor delay between thinking and doing is no big deal. But when you’re moving at 60 miles an hour and the car in front of you stops short, every fraction of a second counts.
Researchers recorded how quickly volunteers reacted when the lead vehicle in a driving simulator suddenly hit the brakes. Sensors monitored the subjects’ brain activity. Turns out drivers knew they needed to slow down more than a tenth of a second before they tap the brakes.
That might not seem like much, but if cars could read minds, they could stop 12 feet sooner at highway speeds. Which could mean the difference between a scare and a smash.
A group of students in gray shirts file out of a cramped classroom onto the road. Shining flashlights to see through the darkness, they huddle around the frame of a short, black car.
One yanks on the pull start.
The engine roars to life, and the car takes off down the road, ready for competition.
The vehicle will race this week at the Baja Society of Automotive Engineers regional competition in Oregon. The competition challenges collegiate teams to design, build and race an off-road vehicle, testing the cars in categories such as maneuverability, acceleration and endurance.
Each car in the competition must be built using the same type of engine, but the design of other parts such as the gear box and transmissions are up to each team, said Dylan Aramburu, a second-year mechanical engineering student on the UCLA Team. This gives teams the opportunity to fabricate their own customized parts.
A lot of teams buy gearboxes to put in their cars, but UCLA’s Baja team makes its own from scratch, said Anthony Tyson, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student and one of the project leaders for the team.
Have you ever thought about renting out your car, like an automobile version of Airbnb?
The trend is catching on as “personal car sharing” comes to Los Angeles in March 2012. It already exists in Boston and San Francisco as a distinct service compared to Zipcar, which rents out cars owned by Zipcar-itself.
RelayRides, based in Boston, is expanding a service that allows car owners to rent their vehicles to other licensed drivers by the hour or the day.
Personal car sharing was legalized in California last year, but RelayRides and the other two companies that offered the service in the state (Getaround and Spride) operated only in San Francisco.
“AB 1871 allows Californians to rent their cars by the hour to offset their costs of ownership, as well as cars’ impact on the environment. Previously, California law prevented personal cars from being rented for commercial use.
Under the new law, individuals who rent their personal cars need to carry auto-insurance levels at least three times greater than the state’s current minimums of $15,000 for injury/death to one person, $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person and $5,000 for damage to property.” via Greenspace
Car sharing would seem to work best where “it’s easy to live without a car,” Clark said, meaning a dense city with good public transportation. In areas such as L.A., where the opposite is true, Clark expects car sharing will be used as an alternative to buying a second or third car.
“A lot of families always need one car and sometimes need two,” Clark said. “Right now, their only option is to round up. The only way to access that car when they need it is to own one.”
The starting price for RelayRides rentals is $5 per hour and includes gas, 20 miles of driving and insurance. RelayRides keeps 35% of the rental cost. The remaining 65% goes to the car owner. Monthly payments, which average $250, are sent to owners.
Total convenience – No more walking a mile to some gas station to pick up a car: RelayRides cars live where you live! Whether it’s down the block, across the street, or in your neighbor’s driveway, RelayRides cars are always conveniently located.