Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Where Have You Gone, Bell Labs?

 
 

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via Slashdot by Soulskill on 8/30/09

theodp writes "Name an industry that can produce 1 million new, high-paying jobs over the next three years, challenges BusinessWeek. You can't, because there isn't one. And that's the problem. So what's the answer? Basic research can repair the broken US business model, argues BW, saying it's the key to new, high-quality job creation. Scientific research legends like Bell Labs, Sarnoff Corp, and Xerox PARC are essentially gone, or shadows of their former selves. And while IBM, Microsoft, and HP collectively spend $17B a year on R&D, only 3%-5% of that is for basic science. In a post-9/11 world, DARPA's mission has shifted from science to tactical projects with short-term military applications. Cutting back on investment in basic science research may make great sense in the short term, but as corporations and government make the same decision to free-ride off the investments of others, society suffers the 'tragedy of the commons,' wherein multiple actors operating in their self-interest do harm to the overall public good. We've reached that point, says BW, and we're just beginning to see the consequences. The cycle needs to be reversed, and it needs to be done quickly."

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Dad Builds 700 Pound Cannon for Son's Birthday

 
 

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via Slashdot by samzenpus on 8/31/09

Hugh Pickens writes "The Charleston Daily Mail reports that machinist Mike Daugherty built his son a working cannon for his birthday — not a model — a real working cannon. 'It looks like something right out of the battle at Gettysburg,' says Daugherty. The 700 pound cast iron and steel howitzer, designed to use comparatively small explosive charges to propel projectiles at relatively high trajectories with a steep angle of descent, has a 4-inch gun barrel that is 36 inches long mounted on a wooden gun carriage with two 36- inch diameter wheels and took Daugherty about two weeks to build at a cost of about $6,000. 'I've always been interested in the Civil War and cannons, so I thought it would be a good gift,' says Daugherty's 11-year old son Logan. Daugherty said he is not worried about the federal government coming to get his son's cannon because he spoke to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and found it is legal to own such a cannon because it does not use a firing pin and is muzzle loaded so the government does not consider the weapon a threat. Two days after the family celebrated Logan's 11th birthday, father and son offered a field demonstration of the new cannon on top of a grassy hill overlooking Fairmont, West Virginia and on the third try, the blank inside the barrel went boom and a cannon was born. For a followup they popped a golf ball into the gun barrel, lit the fuse, and watched the golf ball split the sky and land about 600 yards away. 'Any rebels charging up this hill would be in trouble with a cannon like this at the top,' Logan says."

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