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Interesting Reading #414 – The tiniest computer, hearts really can break, family pays $5,000 per year for connections, New font saves ink and much more…

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Ferrari and BMW Prep Hybrid Supercars – “The Ferrari 599 hybrid is scheduled to debut at the Geneva Auto Show in March. The first Ferrari hybrid will keep its big V12 engine, but add a mild hybrid system. This piece borrows cutting-edge “kinetic energy recovery system” technology from the company’s Formula 1 program. This will provide automatic stop/start functionality when the engine is idling and regenerative braking. Remember this is a Ferrari, an electric motor for an additional power boost, under certain conditions. With a 30 percent increase in fuel efficiency that may bring the 599’s combined EPA rating all the way up to nearly 14 mpg…”

Millimeter-scale, energy-harvesting sensor system developed – “A 9 cubic millimeter solar-powered sensor system developed at the University of Michigan is the smallest that can harvest energy from its surroundings to operate nearly perpetually. The U-M system’s processor, solar cells, and battery are all contained in its tiny frame, which measures 2.5 by 3.5 by 1 millimeters. It is 1,000 times smaller than comparable commercial counterparts…”

Will You Be E-Mailing This Column? It’s Awesome – “Sociologists have developed elaborate theories of who spreads gossip and news — who tells whom, who matters most in social networks — but they’ve had less success measuring what kind of information travels fastest. Do people prefer to spread good news or bad news? Would we rather scandalize or enlighten? Which stories do social creatures want to share, and why? “

Hearts Actually Can Break – “Doctors eventually determined that Mrs. Lee had suffered from broken-heart syndrome, a name given by doctors who observed that it seemed to especially affect patients who had recently lost a spouse or other family member. The mysterious malady mimics heart attacks, but appears to have little connection with coronary artery disease. Instead, it is typically triggered by acute emotion or physical trauma that releases a surge of adrenaline that overwhelms the heart. The effect is to freeze much of the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber, disrupting its ability to contract and effectively pump blood…”

Lightning Reveals Its Power in Slow Motion – “Tom Warner documents the powerful beauty of lightning with an array of optical and electromagnetic sensors. He often uses a Vision Research ‘Phantom’ high-speed camera….”

Asian Carp in the Great Lakes? This Means War! – “There are illegal immigrants on the loose in the Midwest. Originally hailing from Asia, they’re about 3 ft. (90 cm) long and weigh up to 100 lb. (45 kg), and are known to resist capture. Once they establish residency, they can eat you out of house and home…”

Russia Plays Space Monopoly With Soyuz Rides – “When NASA retires its long-serving shuttle fleet as planned later this year, the United States and other countries will be wholly dependent on Russia to fly the station’s six-man crew to and from orbit…”

Google buzz:

5 Hopes for a More Social Gmail – “here are five things Google should do to make Gmail’s rumored social networking stream a winner…”

Sweet, sour, salty, bitter… and now it’s the fifth taste – “Since its discovery 102 years ago by a Japanese scientist, “umami” has been the object of fascination by chemists and avant-garde chefs determined to discover the secret of the so-called “fifth taste”. But now the esoteric flavour – described as the trigger for the sensation of deliciousness when detected by the brain alongside the primary tastes of sweet, salty, sour and bitter – is about to jump from the rarefied surroundings of Michelin-starred restaurants and university labs to the high street, with the arrival of umami in a tube…”

Butter Leads to Lower Blood Fats Than Olive Oil – “High blood fat levels normally raise the cholesterol values in the blood, which in turn elevates the risk of atherosclerosis and heart attack. Now a new study from Lund University in Sweden shows that butter leads to considerably less elevation of blood fats after a meal compared with olive oil and a new type of canola and flaxseed oil. The difference was stronger in men than in women…”

Mediterranean Diet May Lower Risk of Brain Damage That Causes Thinking Problems – “A Mediterranean diet may help people avoid the small areas of brain damage that can lead to problems with thinking and memory, according to a study that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto April 10 to April 17, 2010…”

How to split up the US – “As I’ve been digging deeper into the data I’ve gathered on 210 million public Facebook profiles, I’ve been fascinated by some of the patterns that have emerged. My latest visualization shows the information by location, with connections drawn between places that share friends. For example, a lot of people in LA have friends in San Francisco, so there’s a line between them. Looking at the network of US cities, it’s been remarkable to see how groups of them form clusters, with strong connections locally but few contacts outside the cluster. For example Columbus, OH and Charleston WV are nearby as the crow flies, but share few connections, with Columbus clearly part of the North, and Charleston tied to the South…”

With Darpa’s ‘Transparent Earth,’ Underground Doesn’t Mean Out of Sight – “The Pentagon’s science fringe has been trying to lord over the natural elements for years now. They’ve talked about planet hacking and screwing with enemy climates, and they still want to harness the power of lightning. This year, military science has more of an “all-encompassing” goal for global mastery. As part of its budget for the upcoming fiscal year, Pentagon extreme research agency Darpa is launching the “Transparent Earth” project. They’ll invest $4 million into the creation of real-time, 3-D maps that display “the physical, chemical and dynamic properties of the earth down to 5 kilometer depth.””

The Advantages of Being Helpless – “At every stage of early development, human babies lag behind infants from other species. A kitten can amble across a room within moments of birth and catch its first mouse within weeks, while its wide-eyed human counterpart takes months to make her first step, and years to learn even simple tasks, such as how to tie a shoelace or skip a rope, let alone prepare a three-course meal. Yet, in the cognitive race, human babies turn out to be much like the tortoise in Aesop’s fable: emerging triumphant after a slow and steady climb to the finish. As adults, we drive fancy sports cars, leap nimbly across football fields and ballet stages, write lengthy dissertations on every conceivable subject, and launch rockets into space. We have a mastery over our selves and our environments that is peculiar to our species…”

Gay uncles important for evolution, study finds – “Dr. Paul Vasey, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Lethbridge, based his findings on repeated study of the “third gender” fa’afafine in Samoa – men who live as women and are universally accepted in the island’s culture. Fa’afafine are far more likely to care for and help their nieces and nephews than heterosexual men and women, the study found…”

James Burt fined $1.5m for uploading pirate copy of Super Mario Bros Wii – “James Burt, 24 from Brisbane, received an early copy of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros Wii and made it available for download from a website, which has since been shut down. As a result of his actions the Federal Court ordered Burt to pay Nintendo $1.5m in damages and also cover the $100,000 in court costs…”

As Data Flows In, the Dollars Flow Out – “John Anderson and Sharon Rapoport estimate they spend $400 a month, or close to $5,000 a year, keeping their family of four entertained at home. There are the $30-a-month data plans on their BlackBerry Tour cellphones. The Roanoke, Va., couple’s teenage sons, Seth and Isaac, each have $50 subscriptions for Xbox Live and send thousands of texts each month on their cellphones, requiring their own data plans. DirecTV satellite service, high-speed Internet access and Netflix for movie nights add more.”

Google forced to use humans to support Nexus One – “Google has opened up a US support number that will be answered by a human being, as well as tweaking the small print to make its mobile phone more attractive…”

allRGB – “The objective of allRGB is simple: To create images with one pixel for every rgb-color (16777216 to be exact); not one color missing, and not one color twice…”

‘Peter Pan’ apes never seem to learn selfishness – “Sharing is a behavior on which day care workers and kindergarten teachers tend to offer young humans a lot of coaching. But for our ape cousins the bonobos, sharing just comes naturally…”

AMD reveals Fusion CPU+GPU, to challege Intel in laptops – “The “Llano” processor that AMD described today in an ISSCC session is not a CPU, and it’s not a GPU—instead, it’s a hybrid design that the chipmaker is calling an “application processor unit,” or APU. Whatever you call it, it could well give Intel a run for its money in the laptop market, by combining a full DX11-compatible GPU with four out-of-order CPU cores on a single, 32nm processor die…”

Flying Cheap – “Last February, Continental Flight 3407 crashed outside of Buffalo, N.Y., killing 49 people onboard and one on the ground. Although 3407 was painted in the colors of Continental Connection, it was actually operated by Colgan Air, a regional airline that flies routes under contract for US Airways, United and Continental. The crash and subsequent investigation revealed a little-known trend in the airline industry: Major airlines have outsourced more and more of their flights to obscure regional carriers…”

Sport Science: Pulling and Power – “I would like to continue my attack on the show Sport Science – ESPN. In this short episode, they are comparing the power of NFL player Marshawn Lynch with that of a truck. You can watch it here if you would like…”

The power of ‘random’ – “A ‘seemingly loopy’ technique that MIT researchers helped develop could dramatically improve the efficiency of communications networks…”

Sony Launches Short-Range Wireless Technology (w/ Video) – “The first compliant products, that will use Sony’s TransferJet technology, will start appearing in products as early as the spring of this year. Its design will enable file swapping, between two devices, by bringing them within approximately 3cm of each other…”

Stunningly Preserved 165-Million-Year-Old Spider Fossil Found – “Stunningly Preserved 165-Million-Year-Old Spider Fossil Found…”

Driver’s licenses for the Internet – “”I just went to a panel discussion about Internet security and let me tell you, it was scar-y. Between individual fraud, organized crime, corporate espionage and government spying, it’s an incredibly dangerous world out there, which, according to one panelist, is growing exponentially worse…”

Solid state drive as hockey puck:

This Ignored Demographic Shows What You Can Learn When You Look Beyond Social-Media Elites – “While most in the social media bubble would have you believe that Twitter’s output consists solely of links to “relevant articles,” “breaking news stories,” “unique insights” or retweets of all three (along with the occasional “what I’m having for dinner” tweet from the latest Asian-Fusion-locavore bistro) a look at Twitter’s Trending Topics reveals otherwise. While the aforementioned geek patter is certainly in there, it’s generally dwarfed on the trending topics list by tweets about Disney Channel stars the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus (put out, one can safely assume, by middle-school-aged females)…”

TI makes single chip with Bluetooth, FM, GPS and Wi-Fi – ” Texas Instruments this morning brought out the WiLink 7, a design it says is the first to include four types of wireless on a single chip. It combines Bluetooth, an FM transceiver, GPS and 802.11n Wi-Fi into a single design and lets phone designers cut down on the size and energy needed. The creator estimates that it takes up half as much space as a normal multi-chip approach but also 30 percent less power…”

First results from Large Hadron Collider published – “They wrote in the Journal of High Energy Physics that the run created more particles than theory predicted. However, the glut of particles should not affect results as the experiment runs to even higher energies this year…”

Lasers zap fusion doubts at NIF – “Researchers in the US say they have made a crucial breakthrough towards achieving laser fusion and that they expect to generate the conditions for a sustained nuclear reaction by the end of the year…”

How to Measure Type – “Matt Robinson & Tom Wrigglesworth have created a visualization about the ink usage of different typecases. The brilliancy here lies in the method on how the data is representated: the ink itself!”

Ecofont – “Appealing ideas are often simple: how much of a letter can be removed while maintaining readability? After extensive testing with all kinds of shapes, the best results were achieved using small circles. After lots of late hours (and coffee) this resulted in a green font that uses up to 20% less ink. Free to download, free to use…”

[[[Jump to - Interesting Reading #413 – The coolest Electric Car, Depression and the Internet, Understanding fluorescent lights, Solar Projects are Gaining Momentum and much more...]]]

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