Team Constructs Silicon 2-qubit Gate, Enabling Construction of Quantum Computers 40

monkeyzoo writes: A team at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney has made a crucial advance in quantum computing. Their advance, appearing in the journal Nature (abstract), demonstrated a two-qubit logic gate — the central building block of a quantum computer — and, significantly, did it in silicon. This makes the building of a quantum computer much more feasible, since it is based on the same manufacturing technology as today's computer industry. Until now, it had not been possible to make two quantum bits 'talk' to each other — and thereby create a logic gate — using silicon. But the UNSW team — working with Professor Kohei M. Itoh of Japan's Keio University — has done just that for the first time. The result means that all of the physical building blocks for a silicon-based quantum computer have now been successfully constructed, allowing engineers to finally begin the task of designing and building a functioning quantum computer.

Neutrino 'Flip' Discovery Earns Nobel For Japanese, Canadian Researchers 43

Dave Knott writes with news that the 2015 Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to Takaaki Kajita (of the University of Tokyo in Japan) and Arthur McDonald (of Queens University in Canada), for discovering how neutrinos switch between different "flavours." As the linked BBC article explains: In 1998, Prof Kajita's team reported that neutrinos they had caught, bouncing out of collisions in the Earth's atmosphere, had switched identity: they were a different "flavour" from what those collisions must have released. Then in 2001, the group led by Prof McDonald announced that the neutrinos they were detecting in Ontario, which started out in the Sun, had also "flipped" from their expected identity. This discovery of the particle's wobbly identity had crucial implications. It explained why neutrino detections had not matched the predicted quantities — and it meant that the baffling particles must have a mass. This contradicted the Standard Model of particle physics and changed calculations about the nature of the Universe, including its eternal expansion.
Hardware Hacking

Sensor Network Makes Life Easier For Japan's Aging Rice Farmers 87

szczys writes: The average age of Japan's rice farmers is 65-70 years old. The work is difficult and even small changes to the way things are done can have a profound impact on these lives. The flooded paddies where the rice is grown must maintain a consistent water level, which means farmers must regularly traverse the terraced fields to check many different paddies. A simple sensor board is changing this, letting farmers check their fields by phone instead of in person.

This might not sound like much, but reducing the number of times someone needs to walk the fields has a big effect on the man-hours spent on each crop. The system, called TechRice, is inexpensive and the nodes recharge batteries from a solar cell. The data is aggregated on the Internet and can be presented as a webpage, a text-message interface, or any other reporting scheme imaginable by utilizing the API of the Open Source software. This is a testament to the power we have as small groups of engineers to improve the world.

3 Scientists Share Nobel For Parastic Disease Breakthroughs 36

The Australian reports that a trio of scientists (hailing from from Japan, China, and Ireland) has been awarded this year's Nobel Prize in Medicine for their work in treating parasitic diseases. Irish scientist William Campbell (currently research fellow emeritus at New Jersey's Drew University), and Japanese biochemist Satoshi Omura, were awarded half of the monetary award for their work in defeating roundworm infections; the drug they developed as a result, Avermectin, has helped drastically lower two devastating diseases -- river blindness and lymphatic filariasis -- and has shown promise in treating other ailments as well. The other half of the prize has been awarded to Chinese researcher Youyou Tu, who discovered a novel antimalarial drug based on her research into traditional herbal medicines. (Also at The Washington Post, CNN, The New York Times, and elsewhere. The awards were live-blogged by The Guardian.)

Japan Display Squeezes 8K Resolution Into 17-inch LCD, Cracks 510 PPI At 120Hz 176

MojoKid writes: By any metric, 8K is an incredibly high resolution. In fact, given that most HD content is still published in 1080p, the same could be said about 4K. 4K packs in four times the pixels of 1080p, while 8K takes that and multiplies it by four once again; we're talking 33,177,600 pixels. We've become accustomed to our smartphones having super-high ppi (pixels-per-inch); 5.5-inch 1080p phones are 401 ppi, which is well past the point that humans are able to differentiate individual pixels. Understanding that highlights just how impressive Japan Display's (JDI) monitor is, as it clocks in at 510 ppi in a 17-inch panel. Other specs include a 2000:1 contrast ratio, a brightness of 500cd/m2, and a 176 degree viewing angle. While the fact that the company achieved 8K resolution in such a small form-factor is impressive in itself, also impressive is the fact that it has a refresh rate of 120Hz.

Europe Agrees To Agree With Everyone Except US What 5G Should Be 164

itwbennett writes: Following agreements signed by the EU with South Korea in June 2014 and with Japan in May 2015, the EU and China "have agreed to agree by the end of the year on a working definition for 5G," reports Peter Sayer. "About the only point of agreement so far is that 5G is what we'll all be building or buying after 4G, so any consensus between the EU and China could be significant," says Sayer.

Fukushima: 1,600 Dead From Evacuation Stress 172

seven of five writes: The NYT reports that radiation-related hysteria and mistakes have cost the lives of nearly 1,600 Japanese since the Fukushima disaster. The panic to evacuate, not the radiation itself, led to poor choices such as moving hospital intensive care patients from hospitals to emergency quarters. The government's perception of radiation exposure risk, rather than the actual risk itself, may have caused far more harm than it prevented.
Social Networks

Selfies Kill More People Than Shark Attacks 160 writes: The Independent reports that so far this year more people have died while trying to take a 'selfie' than from shark attacks. So far, 12 people have lost their life while trying to take a photo of themselves but the number of people who have died as a result of a shark attack was only eight. Some recent selfie-fatalities: A 66-year-old tourist from Japan recently died after falling down some stairs while trying to take a photo at the Taj Mahal in India, a Mississippi woman was gored to death by a bison while visiting Yellowstone National Park, and in August a man trying to take a selfie was gored to death during a running of the bulls in Villaseca de la Sagra, Spain. Some groups have been trying to get on top of the wave. In June Disney banned selfie sticks in its amusement parks. And foreseeing the selfie crisis in a very specific way, New York State passed a bill in June 2014 to prohibit people from having their photo taken (or taking it themselves) while "hugging, patting or otherwise touching tigers."

Status Problems Break Skype For Many Users; Quick Fix Promised 64

Many Skype users have been affected this morning by a glitch which has rendered the service unusable or only semi-usable. The BBC says that problems have been reported in Japan, the UK, and Australia, and that Skype support staff have promised a "quick fix." A message on the Skype page says "f you're signed in to Skype, you will not be able to change your status and your contacts will all show as offline even if they are online. As a result, you won't be able to start Skype calls to them.. A small number of messages to group chats are not being delivered, but in most cases you can still instant message your contacts.. If you aren't signed in to Skype, you may be experiencing difficulty when attempting to sign in. Any changes to your Skype account such as your Credit balance or your profile details might take a little while to be displayed."

Mt. Gox CEO Charged With Stealing $2.7 Million 99

An anonymous reader writes: After being arrested six weeks ago in Japan, Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles has now been formally charged with the theft of $2.66 million worth of clients' money. "Tokyo-based MtGox shuttered last year after admitting 850,000 coins — worth around $480 million at the time, or $387 million at current exchange rates — had disappeared from its digital vaults. The exchange, which once said it handled around 80 percent of global Bitcoin transactions, filed for bankruptcy protection soon after the cyber-money went missing, leaving a trail of angry investors calling for answers." Karpeles still denies doing anything illegal. The case is proving difficult for Japanese authorities to unravel, and they're taking it as slowly as they legally can.
Input Devices

Using a Smartphone As a Virtual Reality Controller 13

New submitter mutherhacker writes: A group from Osaka University in Japan and McMaster University in Canada have presented a method to control a virtual 3D object using a smartphone [video]. The method was primarily designed for presentations but also applies to virtual reality using a head mounted display, gaming or even quadrocopter control. There is an open paper online as well as a git repository for both the client and the server. The client smartphone communicates with the main computer over the network with TUIO for touch and Google protocol buffers for orientation sensor data.

Wikipedia's Viewing Statistics Could Provide Better Web-Trends Data Than Google 19

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers in Japan have established an almost 75% correlation between Google Trends data on keyword surges and equivalent Wikipedia page views. Since Google provides aggregate web-trends data with little granularity, the 'early ripples' of web interest are far harder to detect via its APIs than by a system that gathers information from Wikipedia's publicy accessible page views data.

JAXA Prepares To Try Making Whiskey In Space 67

schwit1 writes: An experiment to test how whiskey ages in weightlessness is about to begin on ISS: "H-II Transfer Vehicle No. 5, commonly known as "Kounotori5" or HTV5, was launched on Wednesday from JAXA's Tanegashima Space Center carrying alcohol beverages produced by Suntory to the Japanese Experiment Module aboard the International Space Station, where experiments on the "development of mellowness" will be conducted for a period of about one year in Group 1 and for two or more years (undecided) in Group 2." Don't worry, the astronauts on ISS won't be getting drunk. After the test period is complete the samples will then returned to Earth, untasted, where they will then be compared with control samples.

HTV-5 On Its Way To the ISS 87

nojayuk writes: There's another launcher delivering cargo to the ISS apart from US and Russian vehicles, and it's Japanese. The fifth Koutonori (White Stork) cargo vehicle was successfully launched today at from pad 2 of the Yoshinobu Launch Complex at Tanegashima south of Tokyo at 11:50:49 UTC, carrying over 5 tonnes of food, spare parts and scientific equipment to the ISS in a pressurised cabin and an external racking system. This is the fifth successful launch in a row for the Japanese H2B launcher. The Koutonoris have carried over 20 tonnes of cargo in total to the ISS, more than double the amount of SpaceX's six successful CRS resupply flights.

Nintendo Fires Employee For Speaking About Job On a Podcast 152

An anonymous reader writes: You may not have heard of Chris Pranger before, but he's one of the localizers that works to bring Nintendo games over to the west. He recently talked about the localization process for a small podcast, providing Nintendo fans some details about how games make it from Japan to the western world. Nintendo's response to the fan interest in the game localizing process? They fired him, of course. It's unclear what statements in specific Nintendo objected to and Nintendo, so far, hasn't explained its decision.

'Privacy Visor' Can Fool Face-Recognition Cameras 110

itwbennett writes: Dark shades aren't enough to go incognito in the age of face recognition camera systems. For that you need the Privacy Visor developed at Japan's National Institute of Informatics. The visor consists of a lightweight, wraparound, semitransparent plastic sheet fitted over eyewear frames. It works by reflecting overhead light into the camera lens, causing the area around the eyes to appear much brighter than normal.

Japan To Restart Nuclear Power Tomorrow After Energy Prices Soar 338

An anonymous reader writes: After the Fukushima meltdown, all of Japan's nuclear power plants were shut down, the last in late 2013. This week the government plans on starting up reactor No.1 at the Sendai nuclear power plant. Energy prices have risen 30% since 2011, and it is hoped that the plant will soon be producing a surplus of electricity. Not everyone is happy about the plant restarting. This weekend, about 2,000 protesters marched around the plant and voiced their opposition. "Past arguments that nuclear plants were safe and nuclear energy was cheap were all shown to be lies," said writer Satoshi Kamata, one of the demonstration organizers. "Kyushu Electric is not qualified to resume operations because it has not completed an anti-quake structure to oversee a possible accident as well as a venting facility."

Japanese Engineer Develops 'WalkCar,' a Mini-Segway 103

rtoz writes: A Japanese engineer has developed a portable transporter small enough to be carried in a backpack that he says is the world's first 'car in a bag'. The lithium battery-powered "WalkCar" device is the size of a laptop and resembles a skateboard more than a car. According to the Reuters report, the slender WalkCar is made from aluminum and weighs between two and three kilograms , depending on whether it is an indoor or outdoor version. The aluminum board and can take loads of up to 120kg., and it reaches top speeds of 10 kilometers per hour, for distances of up to 12 kilometers after three hours of charging. When a rider stands on it, the WalkCar starts automatically, while simply stepping off stops the vehicle. To change direction, the user just shifts their weight.

North Korea Is Switching To a New Time Zone 236

jones_supa writes: North Korea has announced that it is winding its clocks back by half a hour to create a new "Pyongyang Time" — breaking from a time standard imposed by what it called "wicked Japanese imperialists" more than a century ago. The change will put the standard time in North Korea at UTC +8:30. North Korea said that the time change, approved on Wednesday by its rubber-stamp parliament and officially announced on Friday, would come into effect from August 15, which this year marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean peninsula's liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.
United States

Twilight of the Bomb 332

merbs writes: On the 70th anniversary of the first nuclear bomb, Motherboard's Brian Merchant toured its crater with one of the last living Manhattan Project scientists. Here's the inside story of the road to the bomb, with the 90-year-old Murray Peshkin—the youngest man to work on the Project that built the bomb, and the first to set foot in its crater. From the story: "There are still nine nuclear nations that, between them, have stockpiled 16,300 weapons. And this network of decades-old nuclear armaments, some of which are still aimed at various strategic choke points around the globe, leaves civilizational scale death-becoming a technical possibility. Before all that, though, the atom bomb was one of the most successful science experiments of all time. It was the product of billions of dollars in government spending, hundreds of the world’s top scientists working in concert, in secret, in a city built from scratch in the desert, and a bygone patriotism united by common, Manichean cause: stop Hitler, defeat the Japanese."