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Interesting Reading #463 – Navy Submarine Runs Eternally, Mini nuclear reactors on the way, Color e-readers, Robocop suit makes you as strong as Ironman, Bulk Breakfast Burritos and much more…

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Navy Submarine Runs Eternally on Thermal Power from Ocean Currents – “A Navy-funded thermal engine bobbing off the coast of Hawaii is accomplishing a rare feat — it produces more energy than it consumes. Though it’s not quite a perpetual motion machine, it could provide scientists or the Navy with a perpetual presence on the seas. The engine is attached to an unmanned underwater vessel, called SOLO-TREC (for Sounding Oceanographic Lagrangian Observer — Thermal RECharging), and uses the energy of the ocean to derive a practically limitless energy supply…”

Nuclear Industry Pins Hopes on Mini-Reactors – “The nuclear energy industry hopes to secure its future through miniature nuclear reactors. The small underground plants will supposedly be safer than large plants, and would lower the cost of electricity from nuclear power. But critics say that the electricity the plants produce will be too expensive and warn of the risk of proliferation…”

Colour e-readers with video shown off – “A colour e-reader that supports video and potentially web browsing has been shown off by Dutch researchers…”

LASIK, Future Advances – “To the refractive surgery patient in year 2000, achieving an uncorrected visual acuity of 20/20 after refractive surgery was considered a success. Ongoing research in this field is focused on further improving these results. Realizing that 20/20 does not represent perfect vision is important because many young healthy adults have visual acuities of 20/15 to 20/12. If optical aberrations in the eye could be eliminated, the theoretical limit of foveal acuity would be 20/12 for a small pupil and up to 20/5 for a dilated pupil…”

Italian doctor may have found surprisingly simple cure for Multiple Sclerosis – “An Italian doctor has been getting dramatic results with a new type of treatment for Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, which affects up to 2.5 million people worldwide. In an initial study, Dr. Paolo Zamboni took 65 patients with relapsing-remitting MS, performed a simple operation to unblock restricted bloodflow out of the brain – and two years after the surgery, 73% of the patients had no symptoms. Dr. Zamboni’s thinking could turn the current understanding of MS on its head, and offer many sufferers a complete cure…”

Japanese scientists create robotcop suit – “Japanese scientists have created a power-assisted suit which could make users as strong as Robocop or Iron Man…”

Apple Wants 1/8th of Your iPhone Back—Don’t Give It to Them – “Make no mistake, iAds are the iPhone user’s worst enemy. If Buzz Lightyear were at the unveiling, he’d have rocket punched Apple right in the face…”

Steve Jobs Has Just Gone Mad – “I am sure most of you know that Apple is trying to kill Adobe’s Flash, so I won’t go into that here. But the point of this rule is clearly to prevent Adobe from selling their new Flash development tool that compiles Flash apps into native code for the iPhone. What Apple is saying here is that the only tool you can use to write iPhone apps is theirs. This, it seems to me, is bad enough. I don’t believe I have ever seen any company prescribe what tools you could use to compile on their hardware. But what Apple is saying here is even worse than that…”

A Change at Apple Causes Trouble for Adobe – “As it previewed the new version of its iPhone OS on Thursday, Apple also updated the agreement that developers must adhere to if they want to create applications for Apple devices. Amid the more than 21,000 words in the agreement, there are 83 that are sure to set off a brush fire at the headquarters of Adobe Systems…”

Something’s Wrong With Right Whales – “A few years ago, right whales began washing up on the shores of Argentina’s Patagonian coast. So far, researchers have counted a total of 308 dead whales since 2005. These right whales in the waters around Peninsula Valdés are amidst the largest die-off of great whales ever recorded. Whatever is killing them remains unknown…”

Pyroelectric Crystals Could Enable the First Truly Portable X-Ray Machine – “Like many pieces of modern medical equipment, X-ray machines are as bulky and energy dependent as they are vital. Even “portable” X-ray machines remain too heavy to carry across rough terrain, and too energy hungry to run off batteries. That’s why Radius Health’s portable, low energy X-ray machine may revolutionize medicine in disaster zones, on the front lines, and at patients homes. By using pyroelectric crystals as an X-ray source, Radius Health has created a machine small enough to fit in a suitcase, light enough to deploy anywhere, and energy efficient enough to run on a laptop battery…”

Facts about nuclear weapons

Discovery that quasars don’t show time dilation mystifies astronomers – “The phenomenon of time dilation is a strange yet experimentally confirmed effect of relativity theory. One of its implications is that events occurring in distant parts of the universe should appear to occur more slowly than events located closer to us. For example, when observing supernovae, scientists have found that distant explosions seem to fade more slowly than the quickly-fading nearby supernovae…”

Bulk Breakfast Burritos: Convenient, Cheap, Healthy, and Easier Than You Think – “My solution to all of these problems is pretty simple: just make a big batch of healthy breakfast burritos during the weekend and freeze them up. Not only are the burritos really healthy, they’re also very cheap to prepare, and they’re very convenient in the morning since you can microwave them as you’re getting ready and eat them on the go…”

FCC slams Verizon CEO on “baffling” spectrum comments – “Good news, smartphone fans. It turns out there may not be a looming spectrum crisis after all. That’s according to Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, who suggested to the Council on Foreign Relations on Tuesday that it’s time to relax about this matter…”

Blogging, Tic Tac Toe and the Future of Math – “Now until a few months ago, the only known proof of the density Hales Jewett theorem was extremely difficult. But Tim Gowers, a Fields-Medal winning Cambridge mathematician, thought there ought to be an easier proof. So he did what everyone with an opinion about anything does nowadays; he posted his opinion on his blog. He also did what no mathematician had ever done before, and invited the entire world to collaborate with him in proving his opinion correct. Following an initial post asking “Is Massively Collaborative Mathematics Possible?”, he posted a description of the problem and invited his readers to have at it in comments…”

Google accused of YouTube ‘free ride’ – “Some of Europe’s leading telecoms groups are squaring up for a fight with Google over what they claim is the free ride enjoyed by the technology company’s YouTube video-sharing service…”

Enter the matrix: the deep law that shapes our reality – “SUPPOSE we had a theory that could explain everything. Not just atoms and quarks but aspects of our everyday lives too. Sound impossible? Perhaps not. It’s all part of the recent explosion of work in an area of physics known as random matrix theory. Originally developed more than 50 years ago to describe the energy levels of atomic nuclei, the theory is turning up in everything from inflation rates to the behaviour of solids…”

The Crystallizing Universe – “Explaining how time flows as the present “crystallizes” from the past. The model could save the concept that the future is open and free will exists—solving the mystery how photons can time travel along the way…”

The triumph of the ordinary cell phone – “And many do all this for peanuts. In India, Reliance Communications sells handsets for less than $25, with 1-cent-a-minute phone calls across India and 1-cent text messages and no monthly charge — while earning fat profits. Compare that with iPad buyers in the United States, who pay $499 for the basic version, who might also have a $1,000-plus computer and a $100-plus smartphone, and who could pay $100 or more each month to connect these many devices to the ether. “

Chinese Wind Power Heads Offshore – “China’s first offshore wind farm, a 102-megawatt array that’s set to come to full power this month in the Yangtze River delta near Shanghai, looks to be the start of something big. Chinese officials announced plans last month to request bids for three to four large-scale offshore wind power projects generating up to 1,000 megawatts total. Beijing-based energy consultancy Azure International predicts that China will install 514 megawatts of offshore wind over the next three to four years, and by 2020 will have invested $100 billion to install up to 30,000 megawatts. That’s equal to all of the onshore wind farms currently installed in China, already the world’s largest market for wind power…”

Solar-Powered Desalination – “Saudi Arabia meets much of its drinking water needs by removing salt and other minerals from seawater. Now the country plans to use one of its most abundant resources to counter its fresh-water shortage: sunshine. Saudi Arabia’s national research agency, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), is building what will be the world’s largest solar-powered desalination plant in the city of Al-Khafji…”

Antimatter Triggers Largest Explosion Ever Recorded in Universe – “Late in 2009 year we witnessed the largest explosion ever recorded: a super giant star two hundred times bigger than the sun utterly obliterated by runaway thermonuclear reactions triggered by gamma ray-driven antimatter production. The resulting blast was visible for months because it unleashed a cloud of radioactive material over fifty times the size of our own star, giving off a nuclear fission glow visible from galaxies away…”

“Evil twin” threatens world’s oceans, scientists warn – “The rise in human emissions of carbon dioxide is driving fundamental and dangerous changes in the chemistry and ecosystems of the world’s oceans, international marine scientists warned today…”

Digital Economy Bill: Nine things you can’t do any more – “The Digital Economy Bill has a number of clauses that, if taken to their logical extremes, could see some pretty horrible outcomes. It’s completed its whistle-stop tour of the legislative process, sprinting from Commons to Lords with barely a pause for breath before getting the nod from Her Maj. MPs decided to get the bill into law first and worry about the details later…”

Can the FCC Regulate HBO? – “Calling Janet Jackson’s exposed breast “a new low for prime-time television,” FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell has promised Congress that he’ll do his best to prevent both networks and cable stations from airing indecent material. Does the FCC have the authority to regulate HBO, MTV, and other cable channels that regularly show salacious fare?”

Squid invasion hitting Oregon coast and scientists are concerned, but could there be a silver lining? – “Last year when fish surveyors went out to count whiting — Oregon’s largest fishery by volume — they found plenty to count all right, but it wasn’t what they expected…”

‘Mind-reading’ brain-scan software showcased – “Software that uses brain scans to determine what items people are thinking about was among the technological innovations showcased Wednesday by Intel Corp., which drew back the curtain on a number of projects that are still under development…” See also: ‘Mind-reading’ brain-scan software showcased in NY

MIT researchers create super efficient ‘origami’ solar panels – “Solar panels nowadays are flat, but folding them like origami could dramatically boost the amount of power they produce…”

Why even strict vegans should feel comfortable eating oysters by the boatload. – “Moreover, since oysters don’t have a central nervous system, they’re unlikely to experience pain in a way resembling ours—unlike a pig or a herring or even a lobster. They can’t move, so they don’t respond to injury like those animals do, either. Even monkish ethicist Peter Singer sanctioned oyster eating in Animal Liberation—the best-argued case for a vegan diet I’ve read—before reversing his opinion for later editions of the book…”

Electrical engineering fixes brain’s circuit board – “DEEP brain stimulation has long been psychiatry’s black magic: stick electrodes into a region linked to mental illness, deliver rapid pulses of weak current, and voila! Crippling symptoms of depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and even substance abuse are eased…”

Facebook is creating a new way for people to mourn – ” Last October, Facebook added an ability to “memorialize” pages — a policy born of the 2007 shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Memorializing pages turns a personal page into a memorial page. The page is only accessible to confirmed friends and sensitive information like phone numbers and status updates are removed to protect the privacy of the individual. Friends can leave messages on the page and look at the deceased person’s wall postings and photos…”

13 ways to use brain power to command your geekdom – “Moving robots, navigating through computers or playing games using the power of the brain isn’t a novel technology, but the applications of these ideas have varied over time, stretching the realm of Brain Machine Interface to new heights. Here are 13 ways in which geeks of this era have geared up to use these techniques of brain power to their advantage in their own little geekdom…”

Magnetic attraction of stem cells creates more potent treatment for heart attack – “Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute have found in animals that infusing cardiac-derived stem cells with micro-size particles of iron and then using a magnet to guide those stem cells to the area of the heart damaged in a heart attack boosts the heart’s retention of those cells and could increase the therapeutic benefit of stem cell therapy for heart disease…”

ZigBee radio chips could allow remote use of home electronics – “You probably have a mobile phone with a Bluetooth radio in it, and you may have a Wi-Fi network as well. Soon, you could be using a third wireless networking technology in your house…”

Inkjet-like device ‘prints’ cells right over burns – ” Inspired by a standard office inkjet printer, U.S. researchers have rigged up a device that can spray skin cells directly onto burn victims, quickly protecting and healing their wounds as an alternative to skin grafts…”

The Moonbases We Should Have Been Living In By Now – “The Moonbases We Should Have Been Living In By NowThis illustration shows a semi-permanent lunar base, a six-person shelter landed by a direct flight from Earth and coupled to an expandable laboratory in the foreground. It’s part of a 1969 Science Journal article about lunar colonies of the future…”

Apple patent case ‘could affect all android phones’ – “Apple’s legal action against HTC may have “wider implications” for all phone makers using Google’s Android operating system, an analyst has warned…”

MIT’s Tiny Mechanical Muscles Could Power Tomorrow’s Robotic Gizmos – “Shape-memory alloys that change shape when heated could become tiny mechanical muscles for electronic devices. New mechanical devices based on the alloys produce three to six times more torque than electric motors, and weigh just one-20th as much…”

Using ordinary cell phones, a Media Lab system would let television programs spill off the TV screen and into the living room. – “Augmented reality is an emerging discipline that uses handheld devices to superimpose digital data on the real world: If, say, you’re in Paris and point your phone at the Eiffel Tower, the tower’s image would pop up on-screen, along with, perhaps, information about its history or the hours that it’s open. With a TV enhancement called Surround Vision, however, researchers at MIT’s Media Lab are bringing the same technology into the living room…”

The shock of the old: Welcome to the elderly age – “USHI OKUSHIMA is the oldest resident of Ogimi, the most elderly community in Japan – the country where the average age is higher than anywhere else in the world. At 108, she still takes to the floor for traditional Japanese dances. Afterwards she dabs a little French perfume behind her ears and sips the local firewater. Okushima was born when Japan had only recently seen off the shogun warlords. If an ageing population is on the way, she is not a bad advert for what we have in store…”

First baby given xenon gas to prevent brain injury – “A newborn baby has become the first in the world to receive xenon gas treatment, pioneered in Bristol in a bid to prevent brain injury…”

Legal fight over Plumpy’nut, the hunger wonder-product – “Should a revolutionary humanitarian food product be protected by commercial patent, when lifting restrictions might save millions of starving children?”

[[[Jump to - Interesting Reading #462 – The new features in iPhone OS 4.0, the new features in the HP slate, the Air Force wants space planes, NASA’s new vision, Solar airplane getting ready to fly around the world, massive welts from a hail storm and much more…]]]

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