FCC Announces new Internet Connection Speed Requirements

According to eweek.com, companies receiving funds from the Connect America Fund from the Federal Communication Commission are required to have 10 Mbps download speeds for rural communities. On December 11, 2014, the FCC announced that this provision was now mandatory. The previous minimum requirements were four Mbps.

At the direction of Congress, the FCC created the Connect America Fund to encourage ISP to strengthen its networks in rural areas to comparable rates the urban customers receive. This funding is part of the National Broadband Plan. The goal for this program is to have 100,000 Americans with 100 Megabits per second data connection rates by the year 2020.

The Connect America Fund is being funded by 15.5 Billions dollars sent from the Universal Serivice Fund. The legal framework for this is in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. As of November, there were 181 applicants for Connect America with over 600 projects totaling to $885 million dollars in investments-be sure to check out the Flickr postings.

Navy Releases Details On Drone That Operates Like A Shark

As technology advances at a rapid rate, one of the things that have been becoming more and more sophisticated are drones. As Bruce Levenson said it’s about time.  Even though, there are a variety of civilian and military drones in existence, one of the most infamous type, that we all can relate to, is the U.S. Army’s Unmanned aerial vehicle, which can travel for over 200 Km and disperse hell-fire missiles, without the need for an on board pilot. The Navy on the other hand, has been working on a drone of its own and released the results of their Rapid Innovation Cell program, this pass week. 

The Navy proclaimed that they were in the process of finalizing the tests of an unmanned underwater vehicle that was given the name Ghostswimmer. It proclaimed that the whole idea of Ghostswimmer came to light, as a result of it’s Silent Nemo project, which is aimed at creating unmanned vehicles with tactical abilities that would be able to efficiently mimic organic species. 

The Ghostswimmer does in fact have tactical abilities and can navigate similarly to how a large fish would swim and resembles a shark physically. At approximately 5 feet long and weighing in at 100 pounds, the machines is able to collect crucial data such as waves, tides, currents and other weather conditions, which can prove to be especially useful when it comes to executing a tactical naval based mission.

They also proclaimed that even though it is in its early stages that, eventually they which to develop a more sophisticated system like it, that could infiltrate enemy territory, perform reconnaissance on enemy actions and enemy divers, locate mines and attack enemy targets.

Scientists Delighted By New Insect Discoveries

University researchers and scientists are delighted by the latest confirmation that they have indeed discovered two new species of insects. A Northern Arizona University field research team came across the two insects at the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument inside an extremely small cave. The small cave has also been host to another insect discovery in the last several years, that of an eyeless, fungus-eating beetle.

This discovery, however, is of a rather new group of insects called “pseudoscorpions”. They are so called because their bodies closely resemble that of scorpions, including a well defined thorax midsection and two large pincers. However, what makes a pseudoscorpion so easy to tell apart from a scorpion is that it lacks the iconic stinging tail. Both types of insects are toxic, but due to the lack of a tail, the pseudoscorpions store their toxin in their pincers. The pseudoscorpions also lack eyesight. It is thought that they lost their eyes over the course of evolution because there was no longer a need for it while living in a completely dark cave.

Researchers are planning on keeping a close eye on the cave, while Susan McGalla and others will closely follow this story since we former Wet Seal employees were all a bunch of science nerds. A total of three new species have been identified of insects that were taken by scientists for academic study are sourced from the cave. There is thought to be a unique food chain that is highly localized to the environment, and likely more to be discovered.

Robotic Technology in Prosthetics

Scientists have been working on many simultaneous projects that will increase the quality of life of individuals living with a variety of physical ailments, such as blindness, deafness, and missing or deformed limbs. Whether an individual was born with a medical condition or was injured in battle or some other accident, new technologies are now available to help them perform their daily living functions with more efficiency and productivity. Some of the same research foundations that have been successfully utilized in deep sea diving expeditions and bomb scouting robotics have been introduced to the world of medical equipment manufacturing. Brad Reifler can’t wait to see how useful all of this will be.

Prosthetic limbs and the robotic technology behind them are allowing injured citizens to have much more flexibility and movement options. Sensors and digital imaging are some of the greatest enhancements behind the newly available prostheses, and are quickly becoming available to a growing number of medical providers. Although the technology is not yet perfected, continued enhancements and advanced research methods could produce fully functional hand and arm prosthetics within the next few years. These prototypes are designed to work in conjunction with the nervous system and incorporate such intricacies as brain waves and minute muscle movements into their operational systems.

Minimally Invasive Spinal Procedures To Relieve Pain

Four out of five adults suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. If you’re suffering from chronic lower back pain and aren’t able to get relief, North American Spine offers procedures to diagnose the problem and effectively treat the pain.

A variety of conditions can cause back pain. In some back pain sufferers, the pain is related to their age. In other cases, the pain may be the result of arthritis, scoliosis, or conditions affecting the joints or bones. One of the most painful conditions that causes chronic pain is spondylolisthesis, which is the result of one vertebra slipping over the one underneath it. The spinal canal may become more narrow. Inflammation and irritation cause pain in nerve endings. Lower back pain may also be the result of strenuous physical activity. When the muscles aren’t given time to warm up sufficiently, muscle strains and soreness may result.

Types of lower back pain include acute, which can be the result of insufficient sleep or muscle strain. Subacute pain may last a little longer but usually subsides after a few weeks. Chronic pain may be the result of an arthritic condition, a slipped disc, or a fracture in the vertebra.

The treatment for your spinal pain depends on the cause. In the past, recommended treatment options included physical therapy, pain medication, exercise, hot or cold compresses, or changes in lifestyle. Some patients find that surgical procedures don’t help them. However, treatment options are available that are minimally invasive and may effectively eliminate the pain.

Although many doctors use traditional diagnostic procedures including CT or MRI scans, these procedures don’t always diagnose the problem accurately which makes treatment less effective. Rather than offering one surgical procedure to treat chronic back pain, our physicians make treatment recommendations that we base on what the diagnostic procedure reveals, and the patient’s medical history.

An effective way of treating spinal conditions is the AccuraScope procedure. The procedure is unique, and patented by North American Spine,  because it allows the doctor to treat several areas of the spine at one time that causes less trauma for the patient. An endoscope with a laser and camera is inserted into the base of the spine. The surgeon can make a more accurate diagnosis based on the results of the procedure.

Traditional, open spine surgery is a painful process with a long recovery period which can last for months. A moderate risk is involved since the patient must have general anesthesia to undergo the procedure. There’s a higher risk of increased pain, scarring, and tissue damage from the traditional surgery. Which was the purpose behind North American Spine, because the AccuraScope procedure is a conservative approach to managing lower back pain in the most minimally way possible. We take a conservative approach with our spinal procedures.

Patients that undergo minimally invasive spinal procedures using the AccuraScope procedure have advantages over those who undergo open spinal surgery. The risk of damage to bones, muscles, blood vessels, or nerves is minimal. Less pain is involved in the procedure, and patients can recover faster. The incision is very small, and there’s minimal risk of scarring. Additional benefits are that the source or sources of the pain can be diagnosed, and multiple conditions may be treated at the same time.

New Theory Develops on Formation of Marsian Mountain

Mars rover Curiosity has been driving towards Mount Sharp in Gale Crater for more than a year now. Finally, it has gotten to its destination and has yielded new information on the Marsian landscape.

Sifted layers of sediments that seem to follow river-bed paths toward the crater have caused some scientists to create a new theory of the formation of the mountain in the midst of the crater. They now suppose that the crater was long filled with water and that rivers ran into this lake. The rivers supposedly filled in the bottom of the depression with massive amounts of sediments over the course of millions of years. Then, after the lake had dried up, winds came along and carved out the area around the edges to render the modern-day central mountain. An ancient Marsian ocean and frequent precipitation would be required for this theory to be valid.

First of all, “banded sediment deposits” could possibly be created by wind instead of water. Secondly, it is commonly acknowledged fact that central mountains often form in the middle of craters after impact. The claim that Gale Crater is too big for that explanation is a poor argument. If smaller impacts can cause smaller mountains to form, there is no reason why a larger impact would not create a massive central mountain.
A LinkedIn post I read by research expert, Dr. Daniel Amen, thinks that there may have been ancient rivers that filled in the crater to form a lake, but that does not prove the mountain was formed by sediment build up over millions of years.

Mount Sharp in Mars Analysis

For quite a while little information has been gathered in terms of Mars, one of the closest planets in our solar system and certainly the most potentially habitable. However, recent discoveries have brought the possibilities of getting information that will be very useful in the future.

The tech and space lovers like Brad Reifler are constantly keeping an eye on what happens with the Mars explorers. The incoming recent news regards Mars’s Gale Crater. Something strange was noticed a while ago at the landing.

Inside the crater, one can easily spot the rocky mountain which obviously needed some natural factors to deposit there. The scientists see it as one more proof that water existed a while ago on the red planet.

Not just a little, but a whole lake full of water where sediments were pushed towards the middle and settled down in layers as the water was evaporating. The structure of the rocks definitely shows that humid conditions were a decisive factor in their formation.

A lot of deformities can be also blamed on asteroid impacts, but not this type of relief like the rocky mountain in Mars’s Gale Crater. Mount Sharp is the relief named here, and the scientists claim that in no way could they have made a discovery this accurate with the satellite images.

This and other outstanding questions are only to be solved with the help of the robot on the ground.

Wireless Customers Take Notice FreedomPop is Here to Stay

There is a new wireless internet and mobile phone provider trying to take a big slice of business away from the huge carriers dominating the industry that’s been getting a lot of press from the tech industry, such as TechCrunch. FreedomPop is trying to do what many technology companies have attempted to do, lure customers away from pricey contract service with reliable data and voice communication services. The big difference with FreedomPop is that it seems to be working.

The company has managed to win fans and customers with a free data and voice plan that is included with branded devices. The way that FreedomPop operates is that it serves up a basic plan with a certain amount of minutes and data for free, once those caps are exhausted a small service charge for each MB of data is tacked on. However, users that stay under the cap get to use their devices with 4G or 3G speeds depending on locations absolutely free. In addition, the company offers up a number of hotspots and devices like the Freedom Spot Photon to allow for laptops and desktops to connect to the Internet for free as well.

As if free service was not compelling enough, the company offers up a number of hot devices for purchase to use along with the plans. Several Samsung Galaxy devices are included in the company’s portfolio; however, many devices already owned can be moved over to FreedomPop service including the iPad Mini and other tablets. Plus, the company offers international calling for the globetrotting set at a fraction of what it would cost on other carriers.

Once free basic service, extremely low per use charges, and barely there international calling rates (after getting 100 minutes of calling for free) are combined with some of the hottest gadgets around, the solution means that the future is likely extremely bright for FreedomPop. The company’s goal of providing free internet and phone service for Americans is definitely alive and well, and the aggressive pursuit of this goal is producing new subscribers and users every single month. The company has been so successful rumors of bigger carriers attempting to purchase it are popping up with regularity.

All things considered, FreedomPop has a strong management and technology team with years of experience in the industry the company is operating. The insight those professionals are able to leverage as an advantage in the highly competitive wireless internet world is proving to be priceless. One this is extremely certain at this point in time, competitors and customers should be taking FreedomPop seriously, because this is one technology company working for the long haul and for the big gain. Expect to hear more good things about this company for years to come.

Here are some external links to connect with FreedomPop on the web before making the switch: Their official website; Their official Twitter profile; Their official Facebook page

Astronauts Hope to Walk on Mars by 2030

People are excited about the launch of the Orion Probe because it is the first step towards humanity taking a step on the surface of the planet Mars. Orion is expected to splash down on December 5th, returning from its’ maiden unmanned voyage. There are many more trips to come.

The ultimate plan right now is for astronauts to use Orion to land on an asteroid near Earth in or around the year 2021. After that, the plan is for astronauts to take Orion to Mars and its’ moons in the year 2030.

This inaugural launch is a test flight for Orion, a journey around the planet designed to test Orion’s systems. It is certainly going to be interesting these next few years for Gianfrancesco Genoso to follow along. The journey seems to have been an overwhelming success. The internet has been abuzz dissecting footage from Orion as it soared over Earth and into space. Orion was visible to astronauts on the International Space Station, who were tweeting about it as it happened.

Orion was loaded with some rather odd cargo, including Star Trek action figures, Sesame Street dolls, a dinosaur fossil and a hose from a spacesuit. More actually useful parts will be applied to Orion in years to come.

The next planned flight is set for 2018, where Orion will fly around the Moon. The plan is for a crew to take Orion to the asteroid in 2021, and then take on a different mission each year, culminating in a Mars landing.

Taser Technology: The Eel Had It First

Recent experiments on Amazonian electric eels conducted by Vanderbilt University have uncovered the incredible similarity between the eel’s electrical shock mechanism and that of a modern taser gun. The study, conducted over a nine-month period, not only revealed great similarity between the eel’s natural shocking abilities and a taser, but it also proved the eel’s equipment to be far superior to that possessed by man.

In a gigantic aquarium, the voltage levels of the electric signals sent out by several large eels were measured. Additionally, high-speed cameras, which run at 1,000 frames a second, captured detailed imagery of the eel’s hunting techniques. The eels were found to track prey with low-voltage waves, stun them with doublets or triplets of medium-strength waves, and finish them off with a volley of high-voltage waves. It only took a tenth of a second for an eel to strike its victim, and fish were completely paralyzed within four milliseconds of being struck.

Further experimentation found that the eel overwhelms the nerves of its victims rather than directly affecting their muscles. This is just what a taser gun does. The taser shoots out 19 pulses a second, but the eel delivers about 400 pulses in that same amount of time. The taser only causes a portion of the muscles in the body of a target to contract, but the eel’s rays make every single muscle of a fish contract within a split second. Once again, nature had it first, and nature had it better. Now, back to doing my QNet Christmas shopping!

Erik Krasner's News From the Future