Interesting Reading #598 - Next massive earthquake, Skylifter building-mover, 12 amazing sinkholes, 25% better jet and much more...

by | Oct 10, 2010 05:36 AM ET

NASA Moves Ahead With Robotic Plane to Take Mars Exploration to the Skies - "As a general rule, when NASA flies a scientific mission all the way to Mars, we expect that mission to last for a while. For instance, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers were slated to run for three months and are still operating 6 years later. But one NASA engineer wants to send a mission all the way to the Red Planet that would last just two hours once deployed: a rocket-powered, robotic airplane that screams over the Martian landscape at more than 450 miles per hour..."

Google Warms to West Virginia's Vast Geothermal Potential - "A Google-funded project has discovered a large geothermal resource under West Virginia that could more than double the electrical generation capacity of the high-profile coal state..." See also: Hot Hot Heat: SMU Researchers Find West Virginia's Just Leaking Geothermal Energy

NTT, Olympus Bring Augmented Reality - "NTT's system uses an HT-01A handset, sure, but the display is actually projected into your vision, and the headset is packed with sensors to tell the unit which way you're looking. As a result, when you glance upwards at the sky it's all detected and the display shows you a brief weather report. At Ceatec NTT was demonstrating a Kyoto city guide that could help navigate you around without requiring you to glance down at a handset (or hold one out in front of you, in a tempting-for-thieves kinda way)..."

San Andreas fault capable of magnitude 8.1 earthquake over 340-mile swath of California, researchers say - "The "Big One" on the San Andreas fault just got a little bigger. New research showing a section of the fault is long overdue for a major earthquake has some scientists saying that the fault is now capable of a magnitude 8.1 earthquake that could run 340 miles from Monterey County to the Salton Sea..."

Meet NELL. See NELL Run, Teach NELL How To Run (Demo, TCTV) - "A cluster of computers on Carnegie Mellon's campus named NELL, or formally known as the Never-Ending Language Learning System, has attracted significant attention this week thanks to a NY Times article, “Aiming To Learn As We Do, A Machine Teaches Itself.”.."

48 Year-Old Blogger Has Gone 9 Years Without Spending Money - "Daniel Suelo wasn't poor, a victim of bad luck, mentally ill, or even uneducated. He just decided that he wanted to have nothing to do with money. So he gave up consumer culture altogether, and for the last 9 years, he's survived by living in a cave in Utah, and dumpster diving, foraging, fishing, and occasionally hunting for food. He spends his time in the great outdoors--and in the public library, where he blogs about it all..."

Central Utah's Pando, world's largest living thing, is threatened, scientists say - "Utah scientists are trying to organize an emergency rescue effort to save the largest living thing ever discovered, anywhere on Earth. It's known as Pando, a single organism living in central Utah, that some scientists say could also be the world's oldest living thing. But Pando is dying and may have only a few more years of glory..."

Interactive TV Beginning to Roll Out to Cable Consumers - "Comcast uses a process called Request for Information (RFI) to engage their viewers. In practice, a graphical overlay will appear over a commercial and the viewer can use their remote control to view an extended VOD commercial or have a coupon or product sample sent to their house. Comcast Spotlight claims over 160 advertisers have run more than 340 RFI-enabled ads resulting in 280 million impressions... "

Lab-Sized Earthquakes Challenge Basic Laws of Physics - "A model earthquake on a lab bench shows that a basic assumption of introductory physics doesn't hold up at small scales. The finding could have a wide variety of implications for materials science and engineering, and could help researchers understand how earthquakes occur and how bad they might be..."

Facebook Blew It With Groups Because It Doesn't Understand Opt-in - "Facebook's two least favorite words in the English language: "opt in." Yesterday's announcement of a new groups feature should have been a home run. We still expect this will be a big deal for the company. But in the short term, Facebook spoiled the announcement by shoving groups down its users throats in a way just about guaranteed to spook and anger many of them..."

Flirting with Disaster: Alcohol and Your Body

Why Your Company Needs Paid Sick Days

In Graphics: What Is a Stock?

7 Basic Ways New Parents Can Start Saving for Their Child's Future

Superman's social network nightmare


How The Average Consumer Spends Their Paycheck

Mindblowing Macro Photography from The Micro-Cosmos

Lifehacker Readers' Solutions for Your Home's Bad Wi-Fi Coverage - "We recently detailed a few solutions for bad wi-fi household coverage, and our commenters had a lot of experience, knowledge, and work-arounds of their own to share. Here's how Lifehacker readers got around shoddy wireless coverage in their own homes and offices..."

What a scientist didn't tell the New York Times about his study on bee deaths - "What the Times article did not explore -- nor did the study disclose -- was the relationship between the study's lead author, Montana bee researcher Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk, and Bayer Crop Science. In recent years Bromenshenk has received a significant research grant from Bayer to study bee pollination. Indeed, before receiving the Bayer funding, Bromenshenk was lined up on the opposite side: He had signed on to serve as an expert witness for beekeepers who brought a class-action lawsuit against Bayer in 2003. He then dropped out and received the grant..."

USS Enterprise Refit + star trek skins

Microsoft buying Adobe would fix both companies' Apple problem - "The New York Times is reporting that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has recently been at a secret meeting with Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen to discuss topics including the two companies' mutual competitor, Apple..."

Thoughts About Time Inspire People to Socialize - "Does thinking about time or money make you happier? A new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that people who are made to think about time plan to spend more of their time with the people in their lives while people who think about money fill their schedules with work, work, and -- you guessed it -- more work..."

Skype Expands to Most Android Phones, Wi-Fi Only in U.S. - "Skype has expanded availability of its Internet calling service to most Android phones, though U.S. users will be forced to make calls over Wi-Fi. Skype said today that a new client for Android phones running 2.1 or higher is now available for download in Android Market or at"

New Jet Engine Design Offers 25% Fuel Efficiency Increase - "A small startup company is developing a new kind of jet engine that has the promise of being smaller, lighter, and more fuel efficient than current jet engines, and can significantly reduce the emissions from jet engines, as well. The new engine developed by R-Jet is called an orbiting combustor-nozzle (OCN) jet. OCN jets rotate the airflow through the engine in a vortex, rather than passing the air straight through as conventional jet engines do. Swirling the incoming air into a vortex allows for a more complete mixing of fuel and air, leading to more efficient and complete combustion of the fuel. The company states that the OCN jet can reduce fuel burn by at least 25% and reduce emissions by about 75%..."

Policy at Its Worst - "We can go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and threaten to blow Iran off the face of the planet. We can conduct a nonstop campaign of drone and helicopter attacks in Pakistan and run a network of secret prisons around the world. We are the mightiest nation mankind has ever seen. But we can't seem to build a railroad tunnel to carry commuters between New Jersey and New York. .." See alsoThe End of the Tunnel

5 Foods Americans Love That Are Banned in Europe - "While it's getting easier to tell what's really in those packages on the supermarket shelves — if you care to read the label — those ingredients can still be pretty confusing. Here in the US, we chow down on foods that are actually illegal in the European Union and many other countries..."

Network Security: 5 Key Questions a True Solution Should Address - "Over half of the industries linked to national security have suffered cyber attacks on their networks, according to a new Symantec study. Yet only one-third of critical industries "feel extremely prepared" for cyber-related attacks. 71 percent of network security operations managers said that their companies have inadequate cyber security protection, according to another recent report..."

11 Best Haunted Houses Around the Country - "Looking for a good scare this Halloween season? We asked haunted house expert Steve Kopelman to tell us about some of the scariest haunted houses around the country. Kopelman, a 27-year haunted house veteran and owner of, shared a list of his favorite spooky homes with us..."

Linked Hybrid Complex - "The 220,000 square meter pedestrian-oriented Linked Hybrid complex, sited adjacent to the site of old city wall of Beijing, aims to counter the current urban developments in China by creating a new twenty-first century porous urban space, inviting and open to the public from every side..."

A rude awakening! Why you should mind your mobile manners - "When you're in a meeting or sitting around the table for a family lunch, do you have an irresistible urge to check your smartphone? Well, you're not alone. According to research by Retrevo, 10 percent of people 24 and younger even think it's OK to check their phone and text during sex!"

Cisco Umi brings videoconferencing to the living room - "Cisco Systems on Wednesday unveiled Cisco Umi, its consumer-focused telepresence offering that lets people connect to each other using videoconferencing on their HD television in their living rooms..."

440 million new hackable smart grid points - "By the end of 2015, the potential security risks to the smart grid will reach 440 million new hackable points. Billions are being spent on smart grid cybersecurity, but it seems like every time you turn around, there is yet another vulnerability exposing how to manipulate smart meters or power-grid data. At the IEEE SmartGridComm2010 conference, Le Xie, Texas A&M University's assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, gave examples of how attackers could hack the power grid for fun and profit..."

Turn your TV into a touch screen - "Displax has created a polymer film that turns any TV into a multi-touch screen. To make it work you simply cover the video display with the Multitouch Overlay..."

LIFE RAFT MAKES SEA WATER DRINKABLE - "The condensed water droplets collect in one of four shafts and then flow down into pockets, which can be accessed from inside the raft by drinking through a rube. Hoffman says the raft can provide drinking water for up to five people on a daily basis...."

NASA Is Running Out of Money to Monitor Earth-Destroying Asteroids (Part 1 of 2) - "NASA is in a catch 22 situation. Five years ago, Congress mandated by law that NASA should track 90% of all of the dangerous asteroids and comets that may threaten the Earth by 2020. Just last month, though, the National Academy of Sciences announced that NASA may be out of money to meet this mandate. I think it would be short sighted and unwise not to fund NASA's continued monitoring of extraterrestrial objects that could potentially destroy all life on Earth..."

Americans' Life Expectancy Gains Continues to Fall Behind -- But Don't Blame Obesity, Smoking, Traffic Fatalities, and Homicide - "While the U.S. has achieved gains in 15-year survival rates decade by decade between 1975 and 2005, the researchers discovered that other countries have experienced even greater gains, leading the U.S. to slip in country ranking, even as per capita health care spending in the U.S. increased at more than twice the rate of the comparison countries. Fifteen-year survival rates for men and women ages 45 and 65 in the US have fallen relative to the other 12 countries over the past 30 years. Forty-five year old U.S. white women fared the worst -- by 2005 their 15-year survival rates were lower than that of all the other countries. Moreover, the survival rates of this group in 2005 had not even surpassed the 1975 15-year survival rates for Swiss, Swedish, Dutch or Japanese women. The U.S. ranking for 15-year life expectancy for 45-year-old men also declined, falling from 3rd in 1975 to 12th in 2005, according to the study, "What Changes in Survival Rates Tell Us About U.S. Health Care.".."

Stink bugs bothering you? Delaware Twp. man invents a trap you can make - "Officially called Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs, they were first spotted in this country in 1996 in Pennsylvania. This year their numbers have soared in New Jersey, particularly bothersome the past few weeks because they're coming into homes, seeking winter shelter. They'll continue to do so until the first frost..."

The Scientific Case for Masturbation - "The science is straightforward. Whenever a behavior is common in the animal kingdom, biologists suspect it has an adaptive function. That is, the behavior enabled individual animals to survive better and leave more offspring than animals that did not engage in the behavior. As a result, genes for the behavior spread throughout that population until it became essentially ubiquitous. And so it is with autoeroticism, which is common—really common. As the Science in Seconds blog noted this week, what with “spanking the monkey,” “charming the snake,” and “freeing willy,” a remarkable number of the slang terms for pleasuring oneself refer to animals. That reflects reality: the practice has been documented in Japanese macaques, gibbons, baboons, chimps, elephants, dogs, cats, horses, lions, donkeys..."

First frictionless superfluid molecules created - "CHILL them enough and some atoms creep up walls or stay still while the bowl they sit in rotates, thanks to a quantum effect called superfluidity. Now molecules have got in on the act..."

Photo story: Death of the Colorado River - "For centuries, the Colorado River flowed 1,450 miles from the Rocky Mountains to the Sea of Cortez. But for a variety of reasons, this lush vein of plenty today evaporates before crossing the Mexican border..."

China's New Moon Probe Arrives in Lunar Orbit - "This second lunar probe is slated to orbit closer to the moon – at an altitude of about 60 miles (100 kilometers) above the surface, compared to Chang'e 1's height of 120 miles (200 km). Chang'e 2 also traveled to the moon much more quickly than its predecessor..."

Pre-Exercise Stretching Is Killing Your Workout - "The latest salvo against stretching comes from a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which found that static stretching before a workout lowered runners' endurance and made their body less efficient. While previous studies have illustrated the effects of stretching on anaerobic activities, this was the first one to show the effects on runners..."

How Executives Are Using Social Media - "The time constraints on today's executives are more numerous than ever before. Between the economic downturn, ever-changing industry regulations, fast-moving information and simple day-to-day management tasks, corporate executives are trapped in the virtual jail cell that is today's business climate. The unintended result of executive “information-imprisonment” is a workplace where they may have little insight into employee morale, culture, and general goings-on during the workday. Blinded by the reflection of their own to-do-lists, executives are turning to consumer social networks to stay connected to the people that execute on daily tasks inside their organizations..."

Wireless electricity has finally arrived - "Eric Giler, CEO of WiTricity, has a dream to make wireless electricity a reality. He is creating base stations that will beam electricity right to your electronic devices, making Powermat look like a joke. But can it really be done?"

Songs in the key of life: What makes music emotional? - "Why do tunes in a major key, such as Singin' in the Rain, sound cheerful, while those in minor keys – Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall, say – sound gloomy and depressing?"

Republicans Destroy Middle Class Dreams One Busted Union At a Time - "Blaming unions, oil prices, and Japanese imports is invalid because Ford Motor Company survived the recession without a government bailout, and they use the exact same union as GM and Chrysler, pay the same oil prices, and have the same competition from Japanese auto-makers. Using unions as a scapegoat is a tired argument that is absurd..."

The Traveling Salesmen of Climate Skepticism - "A handful of US scientists have made names for themselves by casting doubt on global warming research. In the past, the same people have also downplayed the dangers of passive smoking, acid rain and the ozone hole. In all cases, the tactics are the same: Spread doubt and claim it's too soon to take action..."

The Meatless Challenge: 7 Vegetarian Meals for $10 or Less - "With so many laudable but expensive food movements like buying organic and fair trade, you've got to love one that cuts your grocery bill.

Meatless Monday has become a trendy thing to do for both home cooks and restaurants, largely for its sustainability. (The gist: meat requires more land, water and energy to produce, and releases more greenhouse gases.)"

The National Ignition Facility - ""Creating a miniature star on Earth" is the goal of the National Ignition Facility (NIF), home to the world's largest and highest-energy laser in Livermore, California. On September 29th, 2010, the NIF completed its first integrated ignition experiment, where it focused its 192 lasers on a small cylinder housing a tiny frozen capsule containing hydrogen fuel, briefly bombarding it with 1 megajoule of laser energy. The experiment was the latest in a series of tests leading to a hoped-for "ignition", where the nuclei of the atoms of the fuel inside the target capsule are made to fuse together releasing tremendous energy - potentially more energy than was put in to start the initial reaction, becoming a valuable power source. The NIF has cost over $3.5 billion since 1997 and is a part of the federally funded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Scientists at NIF say they hope to achieve fusion by 2012. (27 photos total)"

Livermore Lab conducts first experiments with fusion fuel - "Lawrence Livermore Laboratory announced Wednesday that its first experiment at the National Ignition Facility using a frozen pellet of fusion fuels yielded excellent results..."

PopSci Investigation: What Kind Of Top-Secret Assassination Tech Does $58 Billion Buy? - " Not since the end of the Cold War has the Pentagon spent so much to develop and deploy secret weapons. But now military researchers have turned their attention from mass destruction to a far more precise challenge: finding, tracking, and killing individuals.."

When glass touch screens feel like sandpaper - "Glass screens that can feel the touch of your fingers are all the rage these days. You'll find them in all kinds of gadgets, from smartphones to tablet computers..."

This Is A BIG Deal For The Deaf Community! - " For starters, it makes the Internet accessible to the deaf community by requiring television programming to be captioned on the Internet, a closed-caption button on television remotes, and hearing aid compatibility for smartphones..."

New Nokia Concept Phone Charges Using Body Heat - "What if charging your cell phone was as easy as sticking it in your pocket for a few hours? That's the premise of the Nokia E-Cu concept phone, developed by British designer Patrick Hyland. Hyland's Nokia E-Cu (E for environment, Cu for Copper) phone features a copper exterior and a thermogenerator integrated interior that converts heat energy into electric energy...."

A tour of the Samsung Transform - "The Samsung Transform is one of three new smartphones that Sprint announced at the fall CTIA show here. And shortly after the carrier's official show press conference, we stopped by the Samsung booth to give the Transform a test run..."

Skype Expands to Most Android Phones, Wi-Fi Only in U.S. - "Skype has expanded availability of its Internet calling service to most Android phones, though U.S. users will be forced to make calls over Wi-Fi. Skype said today that a new client for Android phones running 2.1 or higher is now available for download in Android Market or at"

Software on tap to slim actors on-screen - "Scientists in Germany have created software that enables actors to appear thinner or heavier on-screen. The program also alters muscle tone and body shape, according to The New Scientist..."

Researchers Using Rat-Robot Hybrid to Design Better Brain Machine Interfaces - "A strange creature, half robot, half rat, has been seen scuttling across a laboratory in Japan. It's RatCar, a rat-vehicle experiment that scientists hope could lead to improved mobility for people with disabilities..."

Council OKs ads on Bayshore mirrors - "City council is embracing a "weird" new way of making money. Council voted Monday night to approve a five-year contract with KB Media Inc. to install television screens that switch to mirrors in some restrooms at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre. The screens, which will replace eight mirrors at the Lumley-Bayshore, are equipped with a motion sensor that automatically changes a digital advertisement into a mirror when a person approaches it."

Night-time lights bring insects, disease. - "Consider that before gas street lamps and electric light bulbs were invented in the 1800s, the world settled into darkness after sunset, relying only on the moon and stars for light. That is still the case in more remote regions of the world. But, as artificial lighting spreads through these mostly tropical areas, research is showing how night-time light can alter human and insect behavior and bring about some unexpected results – an increase in the transmission of insect-borne diseases...."

Neurotic people can each cost society $22,000 a year - "Researchers looked at 5,500 adults and examined their medical costs and the amount of days they were absent from work to come up with an annual figure..."

Married couples with daughters are 'more likely to divorce' - "Little girls may be sugar and spice and all things nice – but they don't necessarily make for happy marriages. U.S. researchers claim that having a daughter could even boost a couple's chance of getting a divorce. Not only did the study find that couples with sons were more likely to stick together, it discovered that there was a greater chance of unmarried pregnant women getting hitched if they were expecting a boy..."

Giant cucumber - "A CHINESE farmer has smashed the world record for growing the biggest ever cucumber — with the help of horse dung...."

Swiss inch toward world's longest train tunnel - "Like to hold your breath while going through tunnels? We won't recommend you try it in the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland. The tunnel has been under construction since 1993, and upon its scheduled completion at the end of 2017, it will span 35 miles -- the longest rail tunnel on the planet..."

Introducing Skylifter, a new giant of the sky - "An Australian company is developing a giant flying saucer that can transport buildings for long distances anywhere in the world..."

12 amazing sinkholes - "Some of the world's most famous sinkholes are seemingly endless pits that swallow trees, cars and entire buildings — dangerously altering the landscape. Others fill with water, becoming popular swimming holes and offering unique photo opportunities..."

Is the Web the Future of Education? - "According to Bill Gates it is. Don't discount this college drop-out, he makes some really logical points in this article. He believes that you should get credit for the knowledge you gain no matter where you obtained it from..."

[[[Jump to - Interesting Reading #597 – Petabytes, Exoskeletons, Graphene, e-paper, shattergate, electroball, Facebook, Natal, Football and much more...]]]

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