Saturday, March 30, 2013

OUYA game console ships with over 100 available games | Android ...

We had known the OUYA game console was set to begin shipping to Kickstarter backers on March 28. And well, that seems to has begun without any delays. The OUYA team shared the news on their company blog in a post titled Shippin? ? the interesting part here, they begin with a thank you. You see, they are thanking the backers for well, backing them and making the console a success.


Or maybe more accurately, a success to date. You see, there is still the non-internet crowd that they will need to please. We are not going to see how well that turns out until June 4 when the console makes its way into retail outlets. The good news for now though, the OUYA team managed to drive enough buzz and enough hype to convince developers that it will be worth their time to bring games to the console.

According to details coming from OUYA, they were able to launch the console with 100 plus games. As of last evening they were claiming 104, but that number may have already grown. Regardless of the specific amount, some of the game titles new OUYA users can look forward to playing include one called Save the Puppies as well as Final Fantasy III, Beast Boxing Turbo, Stalagflight and Knightmare Tower.

Time will tell which, and how many additional games will follow. OUYA has also said they signed up over eight thousand developers. The eight thousand developer count makes it seem like additional games are a given, however looking at this from the other side brings us to wonder why eight thousand developers and only 104 games.

[via OUYA]


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Boston mayor to announce he won't seek re-election

BOSTON (AP) ? Boston's longest-serving mayor, Thomas Menino, confirmed Thursday he does not plan to seek re-election for an unprecedented sixth term.

The popular Democrat said in an emotional impromptu news conference outside his home before heading to City Hall that it was "a very difficult decision."

A formal announcement is scheduled for 4 p.m. EDT Thursday.

Menino has been mayor since 1993 and said he's lived the job "24-7."

"It's a changed city, and I'm glad to be a small part of this changed city," he said, crediting his staff and cabinet. He said the city is more tolerant, vital and with a younger population than when he took office.

The 70-year-old mayor was hospitalized for eight weeks in the fall after a respiratory infection and a blood clot that was complicated by a spinal fracture and diabetes. He said his health played a minor role in his decision.

He told WBZ-AM that he plans to go "full tilt" until his last day in office.

After that, his plans are unclear. He said he's looking forward to spending more time with his grandchildren, but insisted he is not retiring. He told the station he'd like to stay involved with the city's public schools.

His decision not to run again is expected to trigger a political scramble to replace him as a new generation of political figures eye the mayor's office.

City Councilor John Connolly announced his mayoral intentions last month, regardless of Menino's decision. But Menino had been considered a heavy favorite had he opted to run.

As recently as January, Menino delivered an upbeat assessment of the city during his annual state of the city address.

Menino used a cane to walk to the podium and spoke vigorously about his plans for Boston. At the time, Menino gave no indication of whether he'd decided to seek a sixth term this year.

"Our progress is real. Our future is bright. The state of our city is striking, sound and strong," he said in prepared remarks that cited progress on economic development and crime reduction.

On Tuesday, Menino appeared at a rally at Boston City Hall plaza to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act. The previous day, he delivered a speech to the Boston Municipal Research Bureau in which he said he had never been more confident about the city and announced several new development projects and initiatives.

Menino became acting mayor after his predecessor, Raymond Flynn, left office in 1993 after being named ambassador to the Vatican. Menino, then president of the City Council, was automatically elevated to the mayor's job.

The circumstances prompted some critics to label him the "accidental mayor," a charge the sometimes-thin-skinned Menino was quick to reject. But he was elected mayor in his own right in November 1993 and won re-election by wide margins in 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2009.

The city's previous longest serving mayor, the late Kevin White, was in office for four terms, from 1968 to 1984.

Menino's longevity also exceeded the legendary Mayor James Michael Curley, who also served four terms, but not consecutively.

Menino built his reputation by focusing on the unglamorous nuts and bolts of running a major metropolitan city ? fixing potholes, cleaning streets, even curbing the practice of saving a shoveled-out parking space by putting folding chairs or trash cans along the curb.

It's everyday commitments like those that earned him the nickname of the "Urban Mechanic."

The 2004 Democratic National Convention put Menino's political and negotiating skills to the test when the city's main police union threatened to picket over an unresolved contract.

It was only with the last minute help of other politicians, including Republican Gov. Mitt Romney, that a contract was reached in the early morning hours the day before the convention opened in the city.

During his years in office, Menino also became a vigorous national voice in favor of stricter gun control measures.

He co-founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and criticized the National Rifle Association's call for more armed guards at schools after the Connecticut school shooting in December.

"That is crazy," Menino said. "Every victim of gun violence and their families knows that's crazy."

Menino also built a reputation for creating an impressive political machine that handily defeated challengers.

Last year, Menino also played a crucial role in helping elect U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, campaigning with her at stops across the city.


Associated Press writer Bob Salsberg contributed to this report.


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"The Shining": 33 Years Later, "Room 237" asks why moviegoers can't leave the overlook

By Brent Lang

LOS ANGELES ( - "The Shining" hit theaters more than three decades ago, but as the upcoming documentary "Room 237" makes clear, many moviegoers had a hard time leaving the Overlook Hotel.

The Stanley Kubrick horror film has inspired a fervent coterie of analysts, many of whom devote countless hours to devising elaborate interpretations for what the story of a hotel caretaker going mad (a scenery-gnawing Jack Nicholson) actually means.

Director Rodney Ascher devoted himself to elucidating this subculture of "Shining" aficionados with "Room 237," which opens in New York City on March 29 before expanding. His idiosyncratic exploration indicates that Kubrick, the iciest and most cerebral of filmmakers, and his adaptation of Stephen King's novel is still the subject of intense debate in a way that critics, many of whom dismissed "The Shining" as a lugubrious genre exercise at the time of its release, never could have predicted.

"The bulk of this deep, deep symbolic analysis of the movie was just happening in the last couple of years," Ascher told TheWrap. "I think it's because on the internet people can share their ideas much easier than they have before and be inspired by reading what one person says to do their own stuff. The ability to watch the movie a frame at a time on your desktop and the ability to share what you discovered, that's really a new phenomenon."

Of course not every theory warrants consideration, so Ascher and his team chose to center the film on five major schools of thought.

>>"The Shining" is an allegory about the eradication of Native Americans. This theory, advanced by ABC News correspondent Bill Blakemore, notes the location of the Overlook on a Native American burial ground (a change from King's novel) and the various Native American images and designs that pop up throughout the film on everything from wall art to Calumet Baking Powder tins.

>>It's a retelling of Theseus' struggles with the Minotaur. This interpretation by Juli Kearns makes much of Nicholson's character's final struggle to murder his family in an elaborate hedge maze, as well as several maze-like motifs that pop up in everything from the carpeting in the hotel to its intricate layout, to argue that its roots lie in Greek mythology.

>>It's a way for Kubrick to make sense of the Holocaust. History professor Geoffrey Cocks argues that the director, who explored the possibility of chronicling that period in a script he developed but never shot called "The Aryan Papers," allowed his fascination with and distaste for Hitler's extermination of European Jews to color the film. As evidence, Cocks points to Nicholson's German-made typewriter and the preponderance of the number 42 throughout the picture, which he thinks is a reference to the development of "The Final Solution" in 1942.

>>It's about the synchronicity of time. Performer and musician John Fell Ryan is one of the major proponents of this take on Kubrick's masterpiece, going as far as to stage screenings the run "The Shining" forward and backward, both simultaneously and superimposed over one another. Like the history of the Overlook hotel, Ryan believes that past and present collapse on each other.

>>It's an apologia from Kubrick for helping to fake footage of the moon landing. This conclusion is the one that elicits the loudest guffaws at screenings, but to his credit, conspiracy hunter Jay Weidner doesn't say the moon landing didn't happen, only that Kubrick helped stage it later for public relations reasons. As evidence, he points to Kubrick's close work with NASA during the filming of "2001: A Space Odyssey," which hit theaters two years before Apollo 11 touched down on the Sea of Tranquility.

"You hear five very different points of view and the assumption is he couldn't have explicitly meant all of them, could he?" Ascher said. "But how important is his original intent? Whether he meant it or not these are all still interesting. A lot of what these people are saying draws on his personal history, so it's hard for me to eliminate any one theory categorically."

One choice Ascher did make, and it's a radical one, was not to show any of his five talking heads on screen. Their voices seep into one another. Their theories are illustrated with historical footage, shots of Kubrick on the set and moments from "The Shining" itself. The scene of the young boy in the film, pushing his three-wheeler through the vertiginous hallways of the Overlook, becomes an extended visual metaphor for these people's attempts to feel their way through "The Shining"s' layers of meaning.

It was a method Ascher employed on a previous short film, 2010's "The S From Hell." As with that project, he conducted the interviews for "Room 237" remotely via Skype and by mailing digital recorders to participants. However, he said he never felt the need to go back and film the interviews to include in the final product.

"If I didn't have the talking head to return to, then I had to work harder to find a visual way to describe what they were saying," Ascher said. "I saw this movie as some kind of hybrid video essay. Each of these voices represent a larger group of people, so it isn't about a handful of unusual people, it's about a battle of ideas."

Out of all of Kubrick's films, "The Shining" seems to have been an odd choice to have elicited such a wealth of analysis. "2001" and "Eyes Wide Shut," after all, are more ambiguous, while "Dr. Strangelove" and its satiric at nuclear disaster remains more topical.

But Ascher has a theory about why "The Shining" trumps them all when it comes to this generation of amateur film theorists.

"It falls squarely in the overlap between art and entertainment," Ascher said. "There are other films that are more clearly symbolic, but they aren't necessarily the ones people watch because they want to watch a wildly entertaining movie. 'The Shining' is perfectly suited for both the grindhouse and the arthouse."


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Friday, March 29, 2013

Former US soldier accused of fighting with al Qaeda group in Syria

via YouTube

Video of US Army veteran Eric Harroun filming militants celebrating a crashed helicopter was cited in the FBI affadavit. This clip has not been edited or verified by NBC News.

By Ian Johnston, Staff Writer, NBC News

A former U.S. soldier has been charged with fighting with an al Qaeda group in Syria after allegedly posting photographs of himself posing with military hardware on the internet, officials said in a statement.

Eric Harroun, 30, of Phoenix, Ariz., was accused of using a rocket-propelled grenade while fighting with the al-Nusrah Front, an alias of al Qaeda in Iraq, according to a statement issued on Thursday by the U.S. Attorney?s Office in the Eastern District of Virginia.

?Harroun, a U.S. citizen who served with the U. S. Army from 2000 to 2003, was charged by criminal complaint with conspiring to use a destructive device outside of the United States, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, if convicted,? the statement said.

?According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Harroun allegedly crossed into Syria in January 2013 and fought with members of the al-Nusrah Front against the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria,? it added. ?The affidavit alleges that Harroun was trained to use an RPG by members of the terrorist organization and that he fired an RPG and posted online multiple photographs of himself carrying or posing with RPGs and other military weapons.?

?Harroun allegedly participated in attacks led by the al-Nusrah Front and was part of an RPG team, for which he carried anti-personnel and anti-armor rockets,? it said.

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Al Qaeda in Iraq has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization since October 2004.

?The al-Nusrah Front is one of several aliases used by the 'al Qa?ida in Iraq' terrorist organization, and since November 2011 the group has claimed responsibility for nearly 600 terrorist attacks in Syria,? the statement said.

U.S. officials have called for Assad to step down in Syria and have offered non-lethal support to the rebels, but there is concern about militant groups like al Qaeda affiliates fighting alongside other rebel forces.

Israel fears al Qaeda elements will establish themselves close to the border and threaten to fire chemical weapons and long-range rockets captured from the Syrian army into Israel.

The statement said Harroun appeared in a federal court in Alexandria, Va., Thursday.

Harroun was arrested on Wednesday upon returning to the United States at an airport outside Washington, Reuters said. He has a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney's office said.

He was medically discharged from the army after being injured in a car accident, according to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint, Reuters reported.

The criminal charge of "conspiring to use a destructive device outside of the United States" carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Harroun appeared in two videos that indicated he was engaged in military action with rebel forces against the Syrian government, Reuters reported. In one video, he said: "Bashar al-Assad, your days are numbered. ... Where(ever) you go we will find you and kill you," according to the affidavit.

In March, the FBI conducted three voluntary interviews of Harroun at the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, during which he stated that he wanted to fight with the Free Syrian Army against the Assad regime, the affidavit added.

Harroun allegedly told the FBI that during his fighting in Syria he shot about 10 people but did not know whether he killed any of them, the affidavit said, according to Reuters. He also said he hated al Qaeda and did not know any al Qaeda members, the affidavit said. On Wednesday in the United States, the FBI conducted another voluntary interview during which Harroun allegedly said that he knew the al-Nusrah Front had been designated a terrorist organization, according to the affidavit.

The U.S. Attorney's office said a lawyer would be appointed for Harroun, Reuters reported.

Reuters contributed to this report.


Syrian rebels ask US to shoot down Assad's warplanes with Patriot missiles

Arab nations set to declare the right to arm Syrian rebels

Syria chaos looms large over Obama's Israel trip


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Today on New Scientist: 28 March 2013

Our enduring love affair with 'flying jewels'

The Sensational Butterflies exhibition in London and a new book, Butterfly People, explore our fascination with these gorgeous insects

Storm erupts over publishing of Henrietta Lacks genome

Researchers withdraw a paper on the "HeLa" cervical cancer genome after descendants of the woman whose cells were used say it compromises their privacy

Tiny blue-bellied fish discovered in the Rio Negro

A small fish makes a big splash as Amazon researchers find an entirely new genus in their nets

Tender turtles: Their mums do care after all

Traumatised by all that footage of baby turtles being eaten by predators? You'll be delighted to learn that some turtle mums do help the hatchlings

Scuba-diving saboteurs caught trying to cut internet

A trio of cable saboteurs have allegedly been caught red-handed trying to sever internet lines into and out of Egypt

Sea hares use sticky weapon to cripple predators

Watch a sea hare knock out a lobster's sense of smell, in the first experiments revealing a defence mechanism that can inactivate senses

It is time to train atoms to do what we want

Pratibha Gai, winner of a L'Or?al-UNESCO For Women In Science award, reveals how her molecular film-making lets us control chemical reactions better

Digital shrinks find depressed faces and body language

Automatic systems that analyse gestures and facial expressions may soon be helping psychologists pick up the easily missed symptoms of depression

Vaccine promises to cull foot and mouth slaughter

A vaccine that allows vets to distinguish vaccinated cattle from those that are diseased could remove the need to preventatively slaughter animals

Subscribe to New Scientist Magazine


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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Simulations uncover obstacle to harnessing laser-driven fusion

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A once-promising approach for using next-generation, ultra-intense lasers to help deliver commercially viable fusion energy has been brought into serious question by new experimental results and first-of-a-kind simulations of laser-plasma interaction.

Researchers at The Ohio State University are evaluating a two-stage process in which a pellet of fusion fuel is first crushed by lasers on all sides, shrinking the pellet to dozens of times its original size, followed by an ultra-intense burst of laser light to ignite a chain reaction. This two-stage approach is called Fast Ignition, and there are a few variants on the theme. In a recent paper, the Ohio State research group considered the long-discussed possibility of using a hollow cone to maintain a channel for the ultra-intense "ignitor pulse" to focus laser energy on the compressed pellet core. Drawing on both experimental results from studies at the Titan Laser at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, and massively-parallel computer simulations of the laser-target interaction performed at the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) in Columbus, Ohio, the research team found compelling evidence that the cone-guided approach to Fast Ignition has a serious flaw.

"In the history of fusion research, two-steps-forward and one-step-back stories are a common theme," said Chris Orban, Ph.D., a researcher of the High Energy Density Physics research group at Ohio State and the lead theorist on the project. "But sometimes progress is about seeing what's not going to work, just as much as it is looking forward to the next big idea."

Since the ultra-intense pulse delivers energy to the fuel through relativistic electrons accelerated by the laser interaction, the Ohio State study focused on the coupling of the laser light to electrons and the propagation of those electrons through the cone target. Rather than investigating how the interaction would work on a high-demand, high-cost facility like the National Ignition Facility (NIF), which is also based at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and one of the largest scientific operations in the world, the researchers considered experiments just across from NIF at the Titan laser, which is much smaller and easily accessible.

Despite its size and despite having lower total energy, for a brief moment the Titan laser is many thousands of times more intense than NIF, which makes it a decent stand-in as a second-stage ignitor pulse. The OSU-led experimental team focused the Titan pulse on hollow cone targets attached at the tip to copper wires and observed the burst of X-ray photons coming from the copper as a measure of the laser energy to relativistic electron conversion efficiency.

The X-ray signal was much lower from the hollow cones with thicker cone walls. "This was strong evidence to the experimental team that the typical approach to cone-guided Fast Ignition wouldn't work, since thicker cones should be more realistic than thin cones," said Orban. "This is because electrons are free to move around in a dense plasma, much like they do in a normal metal, so the thicker cone target is like a thin cone embedded in a dense plasma."

These intuitions were tested in simulations performed at OSC. Whereas earlier efforts to simulate the laser-target interaction were forced to simplify or shrink the target size in order to make the calculations more feasible, Orban used the LSP code to perform the first-ever, full-scale 2D Particle-In-Cell simulations of the entire laser-target interaction using fully realistic laser fields.

These simulations also included a sophisticated model for the pre-heating of the target from stray laser light ahead of the ultra-intense pulse developed by collaborators at the Flash Center for Computational Science at the University of Chicago.

"We were delighted to help Chris use the FLASH code to provide realistic initial conditions for his Particle-In-Cell simulations," said Don Lamb, director of the Flash Center. "This is an outstanding example of how two groups can collaborate to achieve a scientific result that neither could have achieved alone."

To conduct the simulations, the Ohio State researchers accessed OSC's flagship Oakley Cluster supercomputer system. The HP-built system features 8,300+ Intel Xeon cores and 128 NVIDIA Tesla GPUs. Oakley can achieve 88 teraflops, tech-speak for performing 88 trillion calculations per second, or, with acceleration from the NVIDIA GPUs, a total peak performance of 154 teraflops.

"The simulations pointed to the electric fields building up on the edge of the cone as the key to everything," said Orban. "The thicker the cone is, the further away the cone edge is from the laser, and as a result fewer energetic electrons are deflected forward, which is the crucial issue in making cone-guided Fast Ignition a viable approach."

With both the experiment and the simulations telling the same story, the evidence is compelling that the cone-guided route to Fast Ignition is an unlikely one. While other studies have come to similar conclusions, the group was the first to identify the plasma surrounding the cone as a severe hindrance. Thankfully, there are still many other ideas for successfully igniting the fusion pellet with current or soon-to-be-constructed laser facilities. Any future efforts to spark fusion reactions with these lasers using a two-stage fast-ignition approach must be mindful to consider the neutralizing effect of the free electrons in the dense plasma.

"We could not have completed this project without the Oakley Cluster," Orban noted. "It was the perfect combination of speed and RAM and availability for us. And thanks to the profiling I was able to do, the compute time for our production runs went from two weeks in November 2011 to three or four days as of February 2012."

"Energy and the environment is one of the primary focus areas of the center, and this research fits perfectly into that domain," said Brian Guilfoos, the client and technology support manager for OSC. "Many of our systems were designed and software packages selected to best support the type of computing required by investigators working in fields related to our focus areas."


The paper describing the study, "Coupling of high-intensity laser light to fast electrons in cone-guided fast ignition," was recently published in Physical Review E, a journal of the American Physical Society.

Ohio Supercomputer Center:

Thanks to Ohio Supercomputer Center for this article.

This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.

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RIM sells a million new BlackBerry 10 phones in 4Q

TORONTO (AP) ? Research In Motion Ltd. said Thursday that it sold about 1 million of its critically important new BlackBerry 10 devices and returned to profitability in the most recent quarter.

The earnings provide a first glimpse of how RIM's new touch-screen Z10 is selling internationally and in Canada since its debut Jan. 31. Details on the U.S. launch are not part of the fiscal fourth quarter's financial results because the Z10 just went on sale in the U.S. last week.

In the quarter that ended March 2, RIM earned $98 million, or 19 cents a share, compared with a loss of $125 million, or 24 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue fell 36 percent to $2.7 billion, from $4.2 billion. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had expected $2.82 billion.

"I thought they were dead. This is a huge turnaround," Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said from New York.

Misek said the Canadian company "demolished" the numbers, especially its gross margins. RIM reported gross margins of 40 percent, up from 34 percent a year earlier. The company credited higher average selling prices and higher margins for devices.

"This is a really, really good result," Misek said. "It's off to a good start."

Chief executive Thorsten Heins said he implemented numerous changes at the company over the past year and those changes have resulted in RIM returning to profitability.

The company also announced that co-founder Mike Lazaridis will retire as vice chairman and director.

Associated Press


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Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost

Just days after AMD released the HD Radeon 7790 built on a new iteration of the company's Graphics Core Next architecture, Nvidia has released its own new graphics card for the mainstream market?the Nvidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost. From our tests, it shows itself to be a potent challenger for AMD's new GPU. The new GTX 650 Ti Boost borrows capabilities and performance from the up-market GTX 660. The end result is a great consumer card at the same price point the GTX 650 Ti formerly occupied. It's our new Editors' Choice for mainstream graphics cards.

Unfortunately, all the additional horsepower is hiding under a confusing name. The new GTX 650 Ti Boost is the third graphics card to carry the "GTX 650" designation. There are now three flavors?the Nvidia GTX 650, Nvidia GTX 650 Ti, and GTX 650 Ti Boost. The problem with this nomenclature scheme is that the GTX 650 Ti Boost is much more than just an up-clocked version of the GTX 650 Ti. Here's the full breakdown:

Clock Speed: The 650 Ti tops out at 925MHz, the TiB is clocked at 980MHz, an increase of 6%. The TiB supports Nvidia's GPU Boost technology (the Ti doesn't) and will increase its clock speed up to 1033MHz if thermal headroom allows it to do so, for a total increase of 11.6%.

Core Count: Both chips have 768 shader cores and 64 texture mapping units (TMUs). The Nvidia GTX 650 Ti has 16 raster operators (ROPs), however, while the GTX 650 TiB has 24. This means the new GTX 650 Ti Boost's pixel fillrate is 23.5 GPixels per second, compared to 14.8 GPps for the GTX 650 Ti.

Multi-GPU Support: The GTX 650 Ti doesn't support multi-GPU configurations. The GTX 650 Ti Boost does.

Memory Bandwidth: The GTX 650 Ti has a 128-bit memory bus clocked at 1350MHz, for a total of 86.4GBps of memory bandwidth. The GTX 650 TiB has a 192-bit memory bus clocked at 1500MHz, for a total of 144.2GBps of RAM bandwidth. That's 1.67x what the GTX 650 offers.

We tested the card on an Intel DZ77GA-70K motherboard with an Intel Core i7 3770K CPU and 8GB of DDR3-1600. Windows 7 64-bit w/ SP1 and all available patches was used. We compared the GTX 660, GTX 650 Ti Boost, and AMD's new Radeon 7790 in a suite of games running at 1,920 by 1,080, as both Nvidia and AMD have emphasized this mode as the new sweet spot for their respective cards. Also included are results between the Radeon HD 7790 and GTX 650 Ti Boost in our older test suite of DiRT 3, Aliens vs. Predator, and Just Cause 2. All of our games use DirectX 11 and 16x anisotropic filtering.

The GTX 660 starts at $214, which makes it significantly more expensive than either of the midrange cards; it's included here to give perspective on how much additional performance can be gained by stepping up to the next performance tier.

In Civilization V (High Detail, 4x MSAA), the AMD 7790 and GTX 650 TiB essentially tied, at 58.6 and 57.8 frames per second (fps), respectively. The Nvidia GTX 660 hit 70 fps. The the Nvidia solutions In Batman: Arkham City's test (DX11, Normal Tessellation, High Detail, 4X MSAA), the GTX 650 Ti Boost hit 80fps, while the GTX 660 managed 88 fps and the HD 7790 fell sharply behind with a score of 52 fps.

We tested the cards in Shogun 2: Total War at Very High Detail with tessellation enabled. The Nvidia GTX 650 Ti Boost scored 60fps , compared with the 49.7fps for the AMD 7790 and 74.5fps for the GTX 660. Metro 2033 (AAA antialiasing, High Detail) continued this trend, with the Nvidia GTX 650 Ti Boost scoring 32.33fps, compared with 24fps for the AMD 7790 and 36.2 fps for the Nvidia GTX 660.

Our older game suite showed a similar pattern. Aliens vs. Predator, DiRT 3, and Just Cause 2 were tested at 1,680 by 1,050 with all details set to maximum. In AvP, the GTX 650 Ti Boost outperformed the AMD 7790 by 19% (39 fps vs. 32.8 fps). DiRT 3 favored AMD; the AMD HD 7790 outperformed the GTX 650 Ti Boost by 14% (56.74 fps vs. 64.7 fps). In Just Cause 2, Nvidia again won past AMD, with a Concrete Jungle frame rate of 54.47 vs. AMD's 43.23.

These figures are the reason why we were dubious of the HD 7790 1GB's $149 price point last week. The HD 7790 is still a far better card than the AMD Radeon HD 7770 that launched in 2012, but the GTX 650 Ti Boost at $169 is only 13% more expensive. The GTX 650 Ti Boost offers 1.19 times the performance of the 7790 if you average all of our results.

Some judicious price cuts will keep the new AMD HD 7790 cards in the fight, but the GTX 650 Ti Boost re-establishes Nvidia's ownership of this price point.

This is a great deal for consumers, and news on the pricing front is even better. Right now, the standard GTX 650 starts at $145 for a 1GB card, with 2GB cards at $164. Nvidia's recommended pricing on the GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB is $169, with a 1GB version of the card available at $145 starting in mid-April. The additional clock speed, memory bandwidth, and higher pixel fillrates make the GTX 650 Ti Boost an excllent option for gamers on a budget. The $149/$169 price points make it a drop-in replacement for the GTX 650 Ti series?but at a much better price/performance ratio. Thus, it earns our Editors' Choice for mainstream graphics cards.


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Top Five Most Common Forms Of Body Art | Random Story ...

Body art is an art which uses one?s body (human body) as a canvas, with the water colors of the traditional art being replaced by virtually anything (which can stick or stay on body) like paint, spray, tattoos, piercings, etc. Body Art is the new fashion craze these days. It?s a new form of art, a way to express oneself, or a way to show one?s devotion to a particular cause. It?s the voice of the body, of one?s mind, expressing one?s desire in an unspoken manner. Body art is also a sub-category of performance art, in which artists use or abuse their own body to make their particular statements. Body art may be permanent or temporary.

For some people, body art is a means of liberation, for others a way to show their rebellion. Others simply use it for fashion purpose, while some just for the fun of it. Whatever the cause, it?s becoming a fast growing trend now. It?s time to know about some of the body arts.


Piercings Piercings Piercings

These maybe temporary or permanent, though usually these are temporary. Piercing is making a needle sized hole in your body to attach a stud type item to it, like earrings are worn on pierced ears. You may get piercings in almost any part of your body, though they may be quite painful to get. Make sure to used high quality studs to avoid getting bruises and infections.

Henna (Mehandi):

Henna (Mehandi) Henna (Mehandi) Henna (Mehandi)

A popular art form, especially in Arabian countries, and in India, it utilizes the color imparting properties of henna leaves to make designs on the body. Typically, it?s applied on hands, and feet, but the possibilities are limitless. It leaves a red or maroon, orange, black color on the applied part of the body which depends on the type of Henna used. It?s temporary.

Nail Art:

Nail Art Nail Art Nail Art

This is one of the most common and simple types of body art. It involves the nails. Either the nails could be painted, or some small studs specifically made for nails can be used, like stones, sparkles, glitters, feathers, etc. Nails can also be artificially bought. This art is of temporary type. Some jewels are available especially for nails. Nail art can be done easily from beauty salons, or at home.

Body Paint:

Body Paint Body Paint Body Paint

This is a temporary form of art which involves painting in colors one?s own body. Any design can be made using a multitude of colors. Sparkles and glitters can also be added. It can be face painting or body painting generally over a large part of body. ?A type of florescent body paint is also available these days. Care should be taken to choose only non-toxic paints and make sure no allergic reaction is experienced. Latex should be avoided as far as possible.


Tattoo Tattoo Tattoo

A tattoo is a form of body art, which requires inserting indelible ink into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment. This is usually painful. It can be permanent or temporary. Another type of tattoo (which is always temporary) is the sticker type; you get a sticker (called a decal) with a pre-made design, put it on your hand, slightly wet it, and then pull it. The design from the sticker stays on your hand. It?s a non-painful alternate to tattoos. Another alternate is the ballpoint pen tattoos which are washable. Some permanent tattoos can be removed by laser techniques, but this is far more painful than applying them in the first place, plus costly too.


Airbrush Airbrush Airbrush

Airbrush is a temporary type of body art. Ink or paint is sprayed on to the skin by an artist. It can be done by using a stencil too to create more creative designs. The result usually looks like a real tattoo. If you use the best quality inks, the tattoo can last up to at two weeks or even more. It?s an alternate choice for those who want to get beautiful designs on their bodies through tattoos minus the pain of tattooing.

These are few of the most common forms of body art. There are more arts, but those are not so popular, while some are exceptionally painful. They include tooth art, scalpelling, implants, branding, scarification, subdermal implants, shaping, etc. If you are into body art or just deciding to try out some sort of body art, then try something from this list. Select based on your mood, devotions and confidence. That?s it for body art. Hope it inspired some of you to try out something new with your own canvas.


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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How to initiate a multiplayer game through Game Center on iPhone and iPad

How to initiate a multiplayer game through Game Center on iPhone and iPad

The whole point of Game Center is to play online with friends and compete for leaderboard rankings. While you can start multiplayer games and challenge friends from within some games, you can also initiate multiplayer games from within Game Center itself.

Here's how:

  1. Launch the Game Center app from the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on the Friends tab and find the friend that you'd like to challenge. Tap on their name.
  3. Under the Games in Common section, tap on the game that you'd like to play with your friend.
  4. Now in the upper right hand corner you'll see a Play button, tap on it. This will auto-create a match for that game with the friend you have chosen.

It's worth noting that you can challenge friends to other games that you don't have in common but they'll be prompted to install or purchase the game if they don't already have it.


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Beaches fall below safety standards

The number of beaches failing to meet minimum standards for water quality has risen following last year's wet summer.

A total of 42 beaches failed to meet the minimum EU levels expected for bathing water in testing in 2012, a rise of 17 on 2011's figures.

Heavy rain and flooding is blamed for washing pollution from town and sewers down to the sea.

There was also a huge drop in the number of beaches recommended for bathing in the latest Good Beach Guide.

Continue reading the main story

Good Beach Guide: Top regions*































East Sussex



Only 403 of the 754 UK beaches assessed were awarded the top "recommended" award for their water quality in 2012, 113 fewer beaches than in the previous guide.

In 2012 a record number of beaches were given the top award.

Ear infections

The Marine Conservation Society, which publishes the Good Beach Guide, warned swimmers could fall ill from bathing in polluted water.

It said the rain and flooding led to an increase in bacteria and viruses in bathing water, coming from a variety of sources such as agricultural and urban run-off, storm waters, plumbing misconnections, septic tanks and dog waste.

The pollution can cause ear, nose and throat infections and even gastroenteritis.

The society said there was an urgent need for improved monitoring of overflow pipes which can discharge raw sewage into rivers and the sea from sewer networks when heavy rain overloads the system with water from street drains.

Continue reading the main story

Least recommended regions*




Redcar and Cleveland












Dumfries & Galloway



Isle of Man



South Ayrshire









North Ayrshire



* With more than five beaches

Action was also needed to reduce pollution from farms and urban areas, ahead of tougher EU rules on water quality coming in from 2015, it said.

Coastal pollution officer Rachel Wyatt said: "Action must be taken now. With stricter bathing water standards from 2015 and summers that appear to be getting wetter, the iconic image of people bathing off golden beaches could be at serious risk.

"There is no simple solution to sewage and animal waste reaching our seas. However if the water industry, communities and local authorities recognise that there is a problem and begin to work together to find answers that would be a significant start."

The MCS said there were some promising local partnerships working together to identify problems and start trying to fix them, but in too many places there was an "out of sight, out of mind mentality" over water pollution.

The South West saw a number of its previously recommended beaches fail last year, including Plymouth Hoe East and West, Shaldon and Exmouth in Devon, East Looe and Bude Summerleaze in Cornwall and Charmouth West in Dorset.

In the North West, just three beaches are recommended for excellent water quality in the new guide, with popular beaches at Blackpool North and South failing to meet even the basic mandatory standards.

But Blackpool central and nearby St Anne's and St Anne's North beaches improved their water quality to reach the mandatory standard last year.


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Ryerson University engineering student group under fire over half-naked romp through slush

A Ryerson University engineering tradition has drawn sharp criticism after a video of half-naked students crawling through slush surfaced on YouTube.

Ryerson engineering students say school president Sheldon Levy is overreacting by likening an annual Ryerson Engineering Student Society event to a form of hazing.

Levy has condemned the event as ?completely unacceptable? and not representative of the ?principles of civil society, and the positive and supportive culture of Ryerson.?

The RESS says the ?voluntary? event builds school spirit, helps engineering students bond, and even calling it an ?initiation? is wrong.

Every spring, engineering students who wish to become frosh week leaders in the coming fall can take part to earn their ?covies,? a pair of engineering coveralls worn during orientation week.

? Ryerson students can watch school?s hockey games live on their phones

Half-naked leader hopefuls frolic around campus and ?swim? through Lake Devo, a shallow man-made pond at the centre of campus, as past leaders egg them on. They leap-frog each other, join a conga line to Yonge and Dundas Square and collect signatures of support to be a leader.

Last week, former leaders carrying squirt guns led hopefuls, many dressed only in underwear, through a slush-filled Lake Devo and ordered them to crawl. In the YouTube video, snowballs can be seen hitting the hopefuls, and one former leader slaps the behind of a female student on all-fours.

Councillor Shelley Carroll, who was disgusted by the YouTube video, said the shame of not participating makes the event a form of hazing.

?They?re in this situation that makes it socially mandatory,? said Carroll, a former Toronto District School Board trustee. ?You do it or you?re ostracized.?

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam called the antics captured on camera ?demeaning? to those involved.

?What the video revealed is already disturbing and I worry that perhaps other inappropriate acts between the students took place and there was no video camera,? she said.

Levy said he will be meeting with RESS representatives Monday to discuss the event and any further action that may be taken.

?The university is categorical in affirming it does not condone student conduct that demeans individuals,? Levy said in a statement. ?I am making clear our shock and anger in the face of this departure from dignity.?

Rose Ghamari, RESS president, said the event has been going on for at least seven years with no problems. Whether hopeful leaders participate or not, they still get their ?covies? and a chance to be frosh week leaders, she said.

?It?s an event to get them out of their comfort zone and show their engineering spirit,? said Ghamari. ?It was not intended to be hazing, that was not our intention.?

Ghamari said about 100 engineering students applied to be frosh leaders next school year, but only 50 or so took part in the ?spirit event? last week.

?We don?t refer to it as initiation,? she said. ?It?s more of a spirit event ? it?s not mandatory participation by any means and it?s just encouraged.?

She said the half-naked aspect is a tradition carried on by students. ?(We?re) not telling people to take off clothes,? she said. ?It?s just how people show up, it?s completely up to them.?

Ghamari said it?s unclear what consequences the student leader who slapped the behind of a junior student may face.

?We will be speaking with him and haven?t decided what action is required but it will be clearer once we meet with administration on Monday.?

Suzy Vader, 22, a fourth-year biomedical engineering student, participated in the event three years ago and chose to do so in her underwear.

?There was never any pressure to participate,? she said, adding no one made her take her clothes off. ?The engineers are an extremely friendly community and have never overstepped the line for my comfort.?

Gabriel Wright, 19, a first-year chemical engineering student, was at the event last week and is upset how it?s being portrayed.

?It was not a hazing,? he said. ?It?s completely optional and everyone there was smiling and having a good time. It was just a celebration.?

Wright, who applied to be a frosh week leader, watched the event but did not participate; he didn?t want to risk getting really sick by being half-naked in the -4C weather.

?It?s just something to look back on and say you did something crazy,? said Wright, who still got his coveralls. ?We do it because it?s fun ?literally, there?s no shame.?

But president Levy said ?there is no excuse for the completely unacceptable activities? at the event.

?Anyone who contends it is ?just fun? or ?builds community? has no place at Ryerson,? he said.

Torstar News


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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gordon-Levitt gets excited on 1997 'Jeopardy'

By Randee Dawn, TODAY contributor

Before he was a time traveler ("Looper") or Abraham Lincoln's rebellious son ("Lincoln"), Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a young actor appearing on "Third Rock from the Sun." And in 1997, he was also a contestant on a celebrity charity "Jeopardy!" episode who was very excited to know the answer. Or rather, to know the question.

As the video clip shows, from the moment host Alex Trebek pulled up the "answer" clue that referred to Holden Caulfield, a long-haired Gordon-Levitt starts pulling an Arnold Horshack (look it up, kids) impersonation in the back: "Oooh! Oooh!" he cries, and is just so thrilled to be able to give the correct "question" of "What is 'Catcher in the Rye?'" adding "that's my favorite book!"

Amusing additional notes: Trebek referring to him as "Joey," hearing his voice break just a little when giving the "question" and a quick flash of the other contestants -- Kirsten Dunst and Benjamin Salisbury (from "The Nanny"). Props to Buzzfeed for explicating the entire episode, pointing out some highlights (Gordon-Levitt, of course) and lowlights (no one knew "Moby Dick"). You can watch the whole show below, if you like!

Related content:

More in The Clicker:


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The Weirdest Thing on the Internet Tonight: Heart to Mouth

An expression of love can take many forms—be it a heartfelt letter, a thoughtful gesture, or, in this case, two women stroking each other's latex balloon heads. "I want to create a tension between the body and material-almost as though they become one," says Bart Hess, the Dutch artist behind this sapphic short film. [Nowness] More »


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Italian court orders new trial for Amanda Knox

File photos combo shows, from left; Italian student Raffaele Sollecito, slain 21-year-old British woman Meredith Kercher, her American roommate Amanda Knox. Amanda Knox was waiting anxiously Monday, March 25, 2013 in Seattle to hear if she will face trial again as Italy's top criminal court considered whether to overturn her acquittal in the murder of her roommate in Italy. Italian prosecutors have asked the high court to throw out the acquittals of Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend in the murder of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher and order a new trial. The court's decision has been postponed to Tuesday. (AP Photo/files)

File photos combo shows, from left; Italian student Raffaele Sollecito, slain 21-year-old British woman Meredith Kercher, her American roommate Amanda Knox. Amanda Knox was waiting anxiously Monday, March 25, 2013 in Seattle to hear if she will face trial again as Italy's top criminal court considered whether to overturn her acquittal in the murder of her roommate in Italy. Italian prosecutors have asked the high court to throw out the acquittals of Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend in the murder of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher and order a new trial. The court's decision has been postponed to Tuesday. (AP Photo/files)

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011 file photo Amanda Knox gestures at a news conference in Seattle Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011, after returning home from Italy. Italy's highest criminal court has overturned the acquittal of Amanda Knox in the slaying of her British roommate and ordered a new trial. The Court of Cassation ruled Tuesday, March 26, 2013 that an appeals court in Florence must re-hear the case against the American and her Italian-ex-boyfriend for the murder of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

FILE - This is a Monday, Oct. 3, 2011 file photo of Amanda Knox as she breaks into tears after hearing the verdict that overturns her conviction and acquits her of murdering her British roommate Meredith Kercher, at the Perugia court, central Italy. Italy's highest criminal court Tuesday March 26, 2013 has ordered a new trial in the case of Amanda Knox in the slaying of her British roommate. The court ruled that an appeals court in Florence must re-hear the case against the American and her Italian-ex-boyfriend. Knox has been living back in the U.S. while her former boyfriend continues studies in Italy. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito, File)

Giulia Bongiorno, lawyer of Amanda Knox's ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, talks to reporters as she leaves Italy's Court of Cassation, in Rome, Monday, March 25, 2013. Italy's highest court delayed until Tuesday a decision on whether American student Amanda Knox will face a new trial in the murder of her British roommate - an unsual but not unprecedented move. The court heard six hours of arguments Monday and spent several hours deliberating that and a handful of other cases on its docket before announcing it would issue decision at 10 a.m. (0900 GMT) Tuesday on whether the 2011 acquittals of Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Sollecito will stand. Italian prosecutors have asked the high court to throw out the acquittals of Knox and Sollecito in the murder of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher and order a new trial. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

Giulia Bongiorno, lawyer of Amanda Knox's ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, talks to reporters as she leaves Italy's Court of Cassation, in Rome, Monday, March 25, 2013. Italy's highest court delayed until Tuesday a decision on whether American student Amanda Knox will face a new trial in the murder of her British roommate - an unsual but not unprecedented move. The court heard six hours of arguments Monday and spent several hours deliberating that and a handful of other cases on its docket before announcing it would issue decision at 10 a.m. (0900 GMT) Tuesday on whether the 2011 acquittals of Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend Sollecito will stand. Italian prosecutors have asked the high court to throw out the acquittals of Knox and Sollecito in the murder of 21-year-old British student Meredith Kercher and order a new trial. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

(AP) ? Italy's highest criminal court on Tuesday overturned Amanda Knox's acquittal in the slaying of her British roommate and ordered a new trial, prolonging a case that has become a cause celebre in the United States.

Knox called the decision "painful" but said she was confident that she would be exonerated.

Italian law cannot compel Knox to return for the new trial, and her lawyer said she had no plans to do so. The appellate court hearing the new case could declare her in contempt of court but that carries no additional penalties.

Italy's Court of Cassation ruled that an appeals court in Florence must re-hear the case against the American student and her former Italian boyfriend for the murder of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher. The exact issues that have to be reconsidered won't be known until the court releases its full ruling within 90 days.

Knox, now a student at the University of Washington, stayed up until 2 a.m. Seattle time to hear her fate and issued a statement through a family spokesman.

"It was painful to receive the news that the Italian Supreme Court decided to send my case back for revision when the prosecution's theory of my involvement in Meredith's murder has been repeatedly revealed to be completely unfounded and unfair," she said.

Knox said the matter must now be examined by "an objective investigation and a capable prosecution."

"No matter what happens, my family and I will face this continuing legal battle as we always have, confident in the truth and with our heads held high in the face of wrongful accusations and unreasonable adversity," Knox said.

Knox, now 25, and Raffaele Sollecito, who turned 29 on Tuesday, were arrested shortly after Kercher's body was found in a pool of blood in November 2007 in her bedroom. Kercher, whose throat had been slashed, had shared an apartment with Knox and others in Perugia, an Italian university town where the two women were exchange students.

Prosecutors alleged Kercher was the victim of a drug-fueled sex game gone awry. Knox and Sollecito denied wrongdoing and said they weren't even in the apartment that night, although they acknowledged they had smoked marijuana and their memories were clouded.

An Ivory Coast man, Rudy Guede, was convicted of the slaying in a separate proceeding and is serving a 16-year sentence. Knox and Sollecito were also initially convicted of the murder and given long prison sentences, but were then acquitted on appeal and released in 2011.

The high court's ruling Tuesday overturned the appeals court acquittals.

"She thought the nightmare was over," Knox attorney Carlo Dalla Vedova said after the decision was released.

The court on Tuesday also upheld a slander conviction against Knox. During a 14-hour police interrogation, Knox had accused a local Perugia pub owner of carrying out the killing. The man was held for two weeks based on her allegations, but was then released for lack of evidence.

Dalla Vedova said Knox wouldn't come to Italy "for the moment" but would follow the case from home. He said he didn't think the new appeals trial would begin before early 2014.

It is unclear what would happen if Knox was convicted in a new appeals trial.

"If the court orders another trial, if she is convicted at that trial and if the conviction is upheld by the highest court, then Italy could seek her extradition," Dalla Vedova said Monday.

It would then be up to the United States to decide if it honors the request. U.S. and Italian authorities could also come to a deal that would keep Knox in the United States.

The appeals court that acquitted Knox and Sollecito in 2011 criticized virtually the entire case mounted by prosecutors. The appellate court noted that the murder weapon was never found, said that DNA tests were faulty and that prosecutors provided no murder motive.

It's not clear what part of the appeals sentence was faulted by the high court in ordering a new trial.

Kercher's family attorney, Francesco Maresca, said after Tuesday's ruling: "Yes, this is what we wanted."

Sollecito's attorney, Giulia Bongiorno, noted that Tuesday's ruling was not a determination of guilt but merely a need for further study of the appeals court ruling.

"It's a decision that cancels a verdict and orders a retrial," she said. "I'm not concerned about a deeper reading of the documentation, because I know the documentation."

She acknowledged that perhaps the appeals court ruling had been "too generous" in ruling that the pair simply did not commit the crime, but was confident that Sollecito's innocence would be affirmed.

In her statement, Knox took the Perugia prosecutors to task, saying they "must be made to answer" for the discrepancies in the case. She said "my heart goes out to" Kercher's family.

After nearly four years behind bars in Italy, Knox returned to her hometown of Seattle after the 2011 acquittal and Sollecito resumed his computer science studies, following the degree he earned while studying in prison.

Italy's judicial system allows for two levels of appeals, and prosecutors can appeal acquittals.

Although the court on Monday heard gruesome details, including how Kercher choked on her own blood, it wasn't ruling on the guilt or innocence of the defendants. Its sole task was to decide if the appellate trial was properly conducted.

Dalla Vedova had argued Monday that the slander verdict against Knox should be thrown out because she was questioned without a lawyer even though police essentially treated the student as a suspect in their 14-hour interrogation session.

Because of time she served in prison before the appeals-level acquittals, Knox didn't have to serve time for the slander conviction.

Associated Press


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Monday, March 25, 2013

Meet a one-eyed, six-legged, flying whale chaser

Wayne Perryman, NOAA

A NOAA hexacopter out for a spin. Scientists use the device to track marine life.

By Becky Oskin, OurAmazingPlanet

Low, slow and loud ? counting marine life by plane has some drawbacks. Though scientists can cover wide swaths of ocean, engine noise may disturb animals and the surveys always present some risk to pilots and crew.

So some biologists are turning to less obtrusive unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to spot species including whales, dolphins, sea lions and penguins. From small helicopters to planes with a 10-foot (3 meters) wingspan, the battery-powered craft could become a popular new tool.

"What makes these things so effective is they capture a tremendous amount of information," said NOAA marine biologist Wayne Perryman, based at the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif.

For years, Perryman has experimented with military reconnaissance techniques to track marine life. He collaborates with former Navy officer Don LeRoi of Aerial Imaging Solutions in Connecticut.

Their latest device is a hexacopter. With six quiet engines, internal gyroscopes, an accelerometer and a GPS, the mechanical bird has great maneuverability, Perryman said. For the past two years, Perryman has snapped shots of penguin and seal colonies in Antarctica with the hexacopter. Future trips include a jaunt to Alaska to survey stellar sea lions.

"When you get into aggregations of thousands of animals, humans are lousy at determining how many animals there are," Perryman told OurAmazingPlanet. "With photography, you can go back in time and see something you maybe wouldn't have noticed," he adds.

Sperm whale spotting
In February and March, Perryman and LeRoi helped an international science team track sperm whales near New Zealand by capturing whale photos with the copter. The scientists attached tracking tags to the whales, and knowing their size and shape from the photos improves understanding of how the whales dive underwater, Perryman said. It was the first ship-based test for the 'copter, named Archie by the scientists onboard.

There were lessons learned. Even with a gyroscope-stabilized platform brought on ship to calibrate the hexacopter's stabilizing systems, Archie ended up in the ocean on one flight. "We picked it up and rinsed it off with fresh water, and within a week, we were flying again," Perryman said.

For their ease-of-use and cool aerial photos and videos, hexacopters are also popular with hobbyists, who can build a bird with off-the-shelf parts for less than $1,000.

Perryman said it would cost $60,000 to design a hexacopter for marine research, and he hopes to find funding for a pilot trainer.

"We need to build a tough little aircraft that has all the same components as our sampling bird, but one you can crash and knock it into things and fly into trees and it keeps on ticking," he said.

Abandon ships?
Researchers at Murdoch University in Australia are also testing a small fixed-wing plane to survey and count marine life, including dugongs, an animal similar to manatees, and humpback whales. [ Whales: Giants of the Deep ]

Perryman sees potential for using aerial devices to place tracking tags on animals, collect skin specimens and sample breath, which contains information about an animal's health. Currently, scientists invest many hours following whales and other species to collect this information and place tags, typically in small rubber boats.

The photographic detail achievable with these vehicles could also help differentiate between species, Perryman said.

"In the Antarctic, there may be four undescribed species of killer whales. If you're going to ask questions about size and shape and growth, you have to have a way of collecting very accurate information without handling the animals, and that's what this can do," Perryman said.

Email?Becky Oskinor follow her@beckyoskin. Follow us?@OAPlanet,Facebook?orGoogle +.Original article on LiveScience's OurAmazingPlanet.


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