How Cutting-Edge Technology & Science Are Powering The Future TPM Idealab

Spring is near! The sun is shining, the weather is warming and holy what the mothercakes, gas is four dollars a gallon right now?! And what mister newscaster? It's going to get more expensive? Geez! This is getting out of hand. We all would appreciate saving some money on gas. Here's how.

Fill Up at Cheaper Gas Stations

Filed in: duh. But, seriously, filling up at cheaper gas stations, no matter how minuscule the difference, saves you money in the long run. And it's not hard to find the cheap stations! Start with GasBuddy, a free app on both Android and iPhone, that maps out nearby gas stations and uses user uploaded prices to tell you where you can get the most bang for your buck. It's the most comprehensive gas price resource around, making sure to tell you when prices were updated, which is crucial given how volatile gas prices can be. But! It's good to have backup apps for gas prices, like Cheap Gas for Android and iPhone, because unfortunately there isn't an official database for an app to tap into. The more crowdsourced apps you have, the better.

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The United States Army is now using smartphones to train missile crews. New Patriot Missile crew members, as part of their training, will hone their skills in a specialized iPhone application suite when not engaging in standard in-classroom and in-field operations.

Virginia's C2 Technologies has been commissioned to produce seven Patriot Missile iPhone training applications. The first application, which handles launch station march order and emplacement (pictured), is now available to troops. The other six applications are scheduled to be completed this summer.

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The White House is pushing a new initiative that will strong-arm many agencies into adopting cloud computing. Proponents of the plan say that the move will enhance productivity and help keep budgets low in an era of austerity. Critics of the plan fear that government agencies who adopt cloud computing will put themselves at risk for security lapses.

Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra gave a presentation aimed at encouraging government agencies to adopt cloud computing at an Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association panel discussion on February 25. According to Kundra, "We want to make sure the shift is disruptive. ... We want the federal government to move away from asset ownership and shift to service provisioning."

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The latest episode in the long-running drama over whether U.S. drivers will be offered gasoline with more ethanol in it came very early Saturday morning.

The House of Representatives adopted an amendment to a continuing resolution on Federal spending through September 30 that would bar the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from acting on its plan to permit distribution and sale of gasoline with up to 15 percent ethanol, known as E15. The measure now goes to the Senate, where ethanol enjoys more support. A compromise continuing resolution must be passed by March 4 to avoid a shutdown of the Federal government.

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Facebook may no longer be solely a collegiate tool, but its users still heavily skew toward the younger and better educated -- and by stunning margins.

In a recent Gallup poll, nearly three fourths of people aged 18-29 said they have a Facebook account. Among 30-49 year-olds, that figure dropped to just more over half (55%), while only 33% of people 50-65 use the website. A paltry 17% of people over 65 said they used Facebook.

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It's the sign of a successful car launch: Dealers add blatant markups to the sticker price, charging thousands of dollars extra because buyer demand exceeds supply, and dealers have the only supply.

Now it's happening to the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, the range-extended electric car that went on sale in December and has generated huge public interest.

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TPM recently reported that DARPA, the Department of Defense's agency that develops new technologies for future military use, has been laying the ground work to send humans five light-years into space to visit the stars. "How can they top themselves after announcing that?" you might be wondering.

Two words: "Cyber Camouflage." How about another two words? "Robotic Hummingbirds." These are just two of the hundreds of projects DARPA has included in their 2012 unclassified budget request. Barack Obama's 2012 budget proposal requests $2.9 billion in funding for DARPA, including $270 million in sensor technology, $61 million to machine intelligence, and $107 million for "Classified DARPA Programs."

Here's quick run-down of some of DARPA's proposals:

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He knew pop culture: "What is The Simpsons." He knew British history: "Who is John Milton." He knew medicine: "What is narcolepsy." He knew world languages: "What is ancient Greek." And though his US geography skills were a little shaky, IBM's supercomputing trivia machine named Watson easily bested his human opponents at the end of a two-game exhibition series of the quiz show Jeopardy!.

After two games of play, the final score for the series was $77,147 for Watson, $24,000 for Ken Jennings, and $21,600 for Brad Rutter. Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter had both previously mademultimillion-dollar runs on Jeopardy!.

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Earlier this month, NASA's Kepler mission announced that it had discovered the first crop of Earth-sized planets orbiting stars other than our own sun. Five of those Earth-sized planets orbit stars similar to our own sun and have orbits that make it possible to have a range of surface temperatures similar to the range on Earth.

But how will we one day reach these next potential outposts for human life? The solar system's nearest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri, sits 4.5 light years away. Voyager I, currently the farthest human-made object outside our solar system, will have to travel for another 50,000 years before it enters the neighborhood of the stars.

But worry not, space enthusiast, because DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is already making plans for future interstellar travel.

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It's Lonely In The Minority

Now that they’re in the minority, this is the press corps covering House Republicans…