Technology

James Cameron Reaches the Ocean’s Deepest Point

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At 5:52 p.m. ET Sunday (7:52 a.m. Monday, local time), James Cameron arrived at the Mariana Trench’s Challenger Deep, members of the National Geographic expedition have confirmed.

His depth on arrival: 35,756 feet (10,898 meters)—a figure unattainable anywhere else in the ocean.

Reaching bottom after a 2-hour-and-36-minute descent, the National Geographic explorer and filmmaker typed out welcome words for the cheering support crew waiting at the surface: “All systems OK.”

Folded into a sub cockpit as cramped as any Apollo capsule, the National Geographic explorer and frilmmaker is now investigating a seascape more alien to humans than the moon. Cameron is only the third person to reach this Pacific Ocean valley southwest of Guam (map)—and the only one to do so solo.

Hovering in what he’s called a vertical torpedo, Cameron is likely collecting data, specimens, and imagery unthinkable in 1960, when the only other explorers to reach Challenger Deep returned after seeing little more than the silt stirred up by their bathyscaphe.

After as long as six hours in the trench, Cameron—best known for creating fictional worlds on film (Avatar, Titanic, The Abyss)—is to jettison steel weights attached to the sub and shoot back to the surface. (See pictures of Cameron’s sub.)

Meanwhile, the expedition’s scientific support team awaits his return aboard the research ships Mermaid Sapphire and Barakuda, 7 miles (11 kilometers) up. (Video: how sound revealed that Challenger Deep is the deepest spot in the ocean.)

“We’re now a band of brothers and sisters that have been through this for a while,” marine biologist Doug Bartlett told National Geographic News from the ship before the dive.

“People have worked for months or years in a very intensive way to get to this point,” said Bartlett, chief scientist for the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE program, a partnership with the National Geographic Society and Rolex. (The Society owns National Geographic News.)

“I think people are ready,” added Bartlett, of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California. “They want to get there, and they want to see this happen.”

(Video: Cameron Dive Is an Exploration First.)m

Rendezvous at Challenger Deep

Upon touchdown at Challenger Deep, Cameron’s first target is a phone booth-like unmanned “lander” dropped into the trench hours before his dive.

Using sonar, “I’m going to attempt to rendezvous with that vehicle so I can observe animals that are attracted to the chemical signature of its bait,” Cameron told National Geographic News before the dive.

He’ll later follow a route designed to take him through as many environments as possible, surveying not only the sediment-covered seafloor but also cliffs of interest to expedition geologists.

“I’ll be doing a bit of a longitudinal transect along the trench axis for a while, and then I’ll turn 90 degrees and I’ll go north and work myself up the wall,” said Cameron, also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. (Listen: James Cameron on becoming a National Geographic explorer.)

Though battery power and vast distances limit his contact with his science team to text messaging and sporadic voice communication, Cameron seemed confident in his mission Friday. “I’m pretty well briefed on what I’ll see,” he said.

(Video: Cameron Dive First Attempt in Over 50 Years.)

Bullet to the Deep

To get to this point, Cameron and his crew have spent seven years reimagining what a submersible can be. The result is the 24-foot-tall (7-meter-tall) DEEPSEA CHALLENGER.

Engineered to sink upright and spinning, like a bullet fired straight into the Mariana Trench, the sub can descend about 500 feet (150 meters) a minute—”amazingly fast,” in the words of Robert Stern, a marine geologist at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Pre-expedition estimates put the Challenger Deep descent at about 90 minutes. (Animation: Cameron’s Mariana Trench dive compressed into one minute.)

By contrast, some current remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs, descend at about 40 meters (130 feet) a minute, added Stern, who isn’t part of the expedition.

Andy Bowen, project manager and principal developer of the Nereus, an ROV that explored Challenger Deep in 2009, called the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER “an extremely elegant solution to the challenge of diving a human-occupied submersible to such extreme depths.”

“It’s been engineered to be very effective at getting from the surface to the seafloor in as quick a time as possible,” said Bowen, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who also isn’t part of the current expedition.

And that’s just the idea, the DEEPSEA CHALLENGE team says: The faster Cameron gets there, the more time for science. (Read more about DEEPSEA CHALLENGE science.)

Pursuing speed and science in tandem makes the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER test dives—and even the Mariana Trench mission—perhaps as unorthodox as the sub itself.

Typically “you conduct a sea trial for a vehicle, you pronounce it fit for service, and then you develop a science program around it,” Cameron said before heading to the trench. “We collapsed that together into one expedition, because [we were] fairly confident the vehicle would work—and it is.”

Techno Torpedo

Now, at the bottom of the trench, the sub’s custom-designed foam filling and the pressure-resistant shape of the “pilot sphere”—are helping protect Cameron from the equivalent of 8 tons pressing down on every square inch (1,125 kilograms per square centimeter). (Video: how sub sphere protects Cameron.)

Among the sub’s tools are a sediment sampler, a mechanical claw, a “slurp gun” for sucking up small sea creatures for study at the surface, and temperature, salinity, and pressure gauges.

While that might sound like a gearhead’s paradise, Cameron knows he’ll “have to be able to prioritize.”

“Is my manipulator working properly? Do I still have room in my sample drawer? And do I still have the ability to take a [sediment] core sample? … I only have [tools for] three sediment cores available on the vehicle, so I have to choose wisely when to use them.”

By contrast, the sub’s multiple 3-D cameras will be whirring almost continually, and not just for the benefit of future audiences of planned documentaries.

“There is scientific value in getting stereo images,” Cameron said, “because … you can determine the scale and distance of objects from stereo pairs that you can’t from 2-D images.”

But, Scripps’s Bartlett said, “it’s not just the video.” The sub’s lighting of deepwater scenes—mainly by an 8-foot (2.5-meter) tower of LEDs—is “so, so beautiful. It’s unlike anything that you’ll have seen from other subs or other remotely operated vehicles.”

(Video: Cameron Dive Is an Exploration First.)

The Search for Life

Right now it’s a mystery what Cameron is seeing, sampling, and filming at depth, in part because so little is known about the Challenger Deep environment.

The only glimpses scientists have had of the region, via two ROV missions, showed a seafloor covered in light gray, silky mud.

Cameron may be detecting subtle signs of life—burrows or tracks or fecal piles—said DEEPSEA CHALLENGE biological oceanographer Lisa Levin, also of Scripps, who’s monitoring the expedition from afar.

If the water’s clear, she added, Cameron may be seeing jellyfish or xenophyophores—giant, single-celled, honeycomb-shaped creatures already filmed in other areas of the Mariana Trench. (See “Giant ‘Amoebas’ Found in Deepest Place on Earth.”)

“If we get lucky,” Cameron said before the dive, “we should find something like a cold seep, where we might find tube worms.” Cold seeps are regions of the ocean floor somewhat like hydrothermal vents (video) that ooze fluid chemicals at the same temperature as the surrounding water.

Earlier this month, during a test dive near Papua New Guinea, Cameron brought back enormous shrimplike creatures from five miles (eight kilometers) down. At 7 inches (17 centimeters) long, the animals are “the largest amphipods ever seen at that kind of depth,” chief scientist Bartlett said. “And we saw one on camera that was perhaps twice that size.”

At Challenger Deep depths, though, the calcium animals need to form shells dissolves quickly. It’s unlikely—though not impossible—that Cameron is finding shelled creatures, but if he does, the discovery would be a scientific jaw-dropper.

Even if he uncovers “a rock with a shell limpet or some kind of bivalve in the mud”—such as a clam, perhaps—”that would be exciting,” Scripps’s Levin said.

Aliens of the Abyss

Expedition astrobiologist Kevin Hand, of NASA, imagines that the life-forms Cameron might be encountering could help fine-tune the search for extraterrestrial life.

For instance, scientists think Jupiter’s moon Europa could harbor a global ocean beneath its thick shell of ice—an ocean that, like Challenger Deep, would be lightless, near freezing, and home to areas of intense pressure. (See “Could Jupiter Moon Harbor Fish-Size Life?”)

By studying the wavelengths of light, or spectra, reflected off life-forms and sediments brought up by Cameron, Hand should get a better idea of which minerals are needed for life in such an environment. This, in turn, might help him design a space probe better able to detect signs of life on Europa.

“There’s an old adage in geology that the best geologist is the one that’s seen the most rocks,” said Hand, a National Geographic emerging explorer.

“I think astrobiology could have a similar adage, in that our best capability for finding life elsewhere—and knowing it when we see it—will come from having a comprehensive understanding of all the various extremes of life on Earth.”

And for UT Dallas’s Stern, DEEPSEA CHALLENGER’s rock-sampling capability offers the opportunity to better understand our planet’s inner workings.

“Challenger Deep is the deepest cut into the solid Earth,” Stern said, “and this gives us a chance to see deeper into the Earth than anywhere else.”

Once the trench-dive data, specimens, and imagery have been analyzed, National Geographic magazine plans to reveal the full results in a special issue on next-generation exploration in January 2013.

“A Turning Point”

By returning humans to the so-called hadal zone—the ocean’s deepest level, below 20,000 feet (6,000 meters)—the Challenger Deep expedition may represent a renaissance in deep-sea exploration.

While ROVs are much less expensive than manned subs, “the critical thing is to be able to take the human mind down into that environment,” expedition member Patricia Fryer said, “to be able to turn your head and look around to see what the relationships are between organisms in a community and to see how they’re behaving—to turn off all the lights and just sit there and watch and not frighten the animals, so that they behave normally.

“That is almost impossible to do with an ROV,” said Fryer, a marine geologist at the Hawai’i Institute of Geophysics & Planetology.

In fact, Cameron is so confident in his star vehicle that he started mulling sequels even before the trench dive.

Phase two might include adding a thin fiber-optic tether to the ship, which “would allow science observers at the surface to see the images in real time,” he said. “And phase three might be taking this vehicle and creating a second-generation vehicle.”

DEEPSEA CHALLENGE, then, may be anything but a one-hit wonder. To Bartlett, the Mariana Trench expedition could “represent a turning point in how we approach ocean science.

“I absolutely think that what you’re seeing is the start of a program, not just one grand expedition.”

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USB Slingshot for Angry Birds

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To make Angry Birds a real sport, Mbed made a USB slingshot to play Angry Birds. The slingshot emulates a USB mouse, so it really is a plug ‘n’ play. It translates the physical use of the slingshot in to appropriate mouse controls. The way the controller works is reasonably simple: a stretch sensor translates the drawing of the slingshot to a mouse movement and an accelerometer determines the angle. Check out the video of it in action.

To make Angry Birds a real sport, Mbed made a USB slingshot to play Angry Birds. The slingshot emulates a USB mouse, so it really is a plug ‘n’ play. It translates the physical use of the slingshot in to appropriate mouse controls. The way the controller works is reasonably simple: a stretch sensor translates the drawing of the slingshot to a mouse movement and an accelerometer determines the angle. Check out the video of it in action.

Android Users Are More Likely to Have Sex on the First Date, Study Finds

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Canadian singles who use Android phones are more likely to have sex on a first date and partake in one-night stands, in comparison to those with other types of smartphones, according to a results of a survey.

The survey, conducted by polling firm Zoomerang for dating website Match.com, found 62 per cent of singles it asked who use Android devices, have had sex on a first date, compared with 57 per cent of iPhone users and 48 per cent of BlackBerry users.

At 55 per cent, Android users also were the most likely to have one-night stands. According to the survey results, 50 per cent of iPhone users have had a one-night stand and 47.6 per cent of Blackberry users said also they had had a one-night stand.

Android users also were the most active visitors of dating websites, at 72 per cent. That compared to 58 per cent of those with iPhones and 50 per cent of people who have BlackBerrys.

Those with an iPhone were most likely to date a co-worker, with nearly a quarter of such singles saying they’ve had a workplace romance within the last five years.

BlackBerry users — at 72 per cent — were the most likely to drink alcohol on a first date.

The survey found 75 per cent all these singles indicate that email and texting had “significantly improved their dating life.”

“Thanks to social networking and online dating, our love lives and our digital lives have never been more intertwined,” Match.com said in release about its survey.

Still, it had a few warnings about dating in this high-tech environment: don’t get distracted by your cellphone while on a date; don’t be too quick to make your new love interest a Facebook friend; don’t use a social network to introduce your new mate to friends and family; and sometimes actually call the person rather than sending email or texts.

The results were based on Internet surveys conducted with 1,068 Canadian singles from Oct. 13 to 15. No margin of error was provided.

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The Megaupload Saga from the Beginning

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I’m pissed they took down Mega.. I had a year subscription!

“Early 2011” – “The FBI contacted New Zealand Police in early 2011 with a request to assist with their investigation into the Mega Conspiracy.” said Detective Inspector Grant Wormald of OFCANZ

28-OCT-2011 – MegaUpload labelled a ‘rogue’ site by MPAA.

The MPAA has submitted a new list of “notorious websites” to the Office of the US Trade Representative, sites that are all in danger of becoming the target of planned U.S. legislation. The list contains the most-visited torrent sites including The Pirate Bay, file-hosting and linking sites such as MegaUpload, and Russia’s Facebook equivalent, VKontakte. Interestingly, file-hosting service RapidShare is absent from the filing.

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09-DEC-2011 – MegaUpload releases a music video with RIAA artists endorsing MegaUpload.

MegaUpload is currently being portrayed by the MPAA and RIAA as one of the world’s leading rogue sites. But top music stars including P Diddy, Will.i.am, Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg and Kanye West disagree and are giving the site their full support in a brand new song. TorrentFreak caught up with the elusive founder of MegaUpload, Kim Dotcom, who shrugged off “this rogue nonsense” and told us he wants content owners to get paid.

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10-DEC-2011 – UMG doesn’t like the video. Has it removed from YouTube.

Earlier today, Megaupload released a pop video featuring mainstream artists who endorse the cyberlocker service. News of the controversial Mega Song even trended on Twitter, but has now been removed from YouTube on copyright grounds by Universal Music. Kim Dotcom says that Megaupload owns everything in the video, and that the label has engaged in dirty tricks in an attempt to sabotage their successful viral campaign.

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12-DEC-2011 – MegaUpload files suit against UMG on the grounds that UMG cannot remove the content as MegaUpload holds the copyright, not UMG.

File-hosting service Megaupload has told TorrentFreak that it will sue Universal for wrongfully taking down its content from YouTube. Universal took action Friday to remove a Megaupload-produced pop video which featured leading artists singing the cyberlocker service’s praises. The move has also prompted the company to enter the SOPA debate, with a call for like-minded people to join forces and fight for an Internet without censorship.

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16-DEC-2011 – UMG says “So what? We can take down whatever we want!” and “You can’t touch us. This isn’t DMCA. We didn’t take it down because of copyright. We took it down because we can.”

A week ago today, Megaupload’s now-famous Mega Song was on its way to becoming a viral hit, only to be cut down from YouTube by a Universal Music takedown demand. Following the filing of a Megaupload lawsuit the song is back online, but Universal are standing firm. You can’t touch us on DMCA grounds, the label says in a new filing, adding it can take down any material, even if it doesn’t infringe their rights.

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21-DEC-2011 – MegaUpload labelled a “rogue” site by the USTR.

The US Government has classified some of the largest websites on the Internet as examples of sites which sustain global piracy. The list released by the United States Trade Representative draws exclusively on input from rightsholders. It includes popular torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay, file-hosting service Megaupload and Russia’s leading social network VKontakte.

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28-DEC-2011 – MegaUpload wants an explaination from UMG.

In their 18-page response filing at the US District Court for Northern Californian earlier this month, not once did Universal Music say why they forced YouTube to remove Megaupload’s Mega Song. Since that’s what the dispute between the two companies is all about, that was a pretty strange event. In a new filing, Megaupload makes it clear that it isn’t going to be brushed aside. The cyberlocker wants answers, and it will dig deep to get them.

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19-JAN-2012 – MegaUpload shut down by Feds

MegaUpload, one of the largest file-sharing sites on the Internet, has been shut down by federal prosecutors in Virginia. The site’s founder Kim Dotcom and three others were arrested by the police in New Zealand at the request of US authorities. MegaVideo, the streaming site belonging to same company, and a total of 18 domains connected to the Mega company were seized and datacenters in three countries raided.

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I saw this at

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A Very Smart LG Viral Ad

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Samsung Flips Off Apple, Uses Same Actress in Commercial

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While the battle between Samsung and Apple has been waging on in court systems around the world, Samsung decided to take the battle to your living room. The Verge has discovered that the same girl who stars in the latest Apple 4S commercial is now featured in a Galaxy Tab 8.9 commercial in South Korea.

At the core of the feud between the two companies is Apple’s claim that Samsung is copying the style and design of the iPhone/iPad and iOS in general. We can’t help but think the company hired the actress with the sole purpose of annoying Apple in a public, but legal, way. Whether public opinion will take their side remains to be seen, but Samsung has definitely upped the ante in the battle.

Although the Samsung commercial has been pulled from their official website, both commercials can still be seen on YouTube.

Camera Table Dolly

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The Camera Table Dolly from Photojojo is a compact table-top camera dolly for your DLSR and iPhone.
“Your camera simply threads onto the dolly’s tripod mount and is ready to roll! Literally. With 2 sets of rotating wheels under a stable arm that holds your camera, you’re all set for some stunningly smooth panning.”

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iPad/Tablet Grip Strips

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“Protect your iPad® or other tablet with these small, thin, silicone-rubber rails that prevent slipping and scratching.
The two grip strips run along the backside, adhered to your device with 3M® Damage-Free adhesive.
Easy to use and apply, they come off (if needed) without leaving any marks.
• Prevents scratches to aluminum back
• Compatible with Apple Smart Cover
• Easily repositioned or replaced ”
4 strips: $11.95.(“iPad/tablet not included”). Good idea!

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Urine Controlled Urine Video Games

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We need these in NY bars !!!

Super Mario Enters the Real World

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The Bean Bag Sled

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Bean Bag Sled($300) is designed to provide a soft ride.
“This is the soft-riding sled suggestive of riding down a snow-covered slope on a tube-shaped bean bag. Significantly reducing the effect of bumps on the lower back, the sled’s interior has an inflatable air bladder (requires hand pump) surrounded by thousands of 2mm polystyrene spheres-the same filling used in bean bags for lounging. Designed in Italy’s Abruzzo region, its top and sides are made from double-stitched PVC-coated 100% polyester…”

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Heat Sensitive iPhone 4 Backing

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Your phone will change colors with this cool heat sensitive backing($12). This heat adhesive iPhone backing with the ability to “change colors in the range 90 to 95 degrees F – or just below body temperature”. Jump more to watch the video of it changes color with heat from your hands.

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