Interesting Reading #630 - Thermite, Crawler, Ants, Cancer, Age, Crime, Antarctica and much more...

by | Nov 26, 2010 04:14 PM ET

Why mammals grew big – and then stopped - "Land mammals kept getting larger for 35 million years after the dinosaurs were wiped off the planet, then hit a plateau of 15 tonnes around 30 million years ago...."

Acer: Alive, and thirsty for Apple juice - "But now Acer has pretentions to that end. Number two behind HP in the worldwide computer market, Acer gathered together journalists across the globe in New York this week to announce two major new departures from its traditional role as an IT hardware provider. It has decided that the Tablet business is part of its future (like Apple), and will become a content aggregator by setting up an online store, called Alive, that bears a striking similarity to Cupertino's iTunes Store..."

Broadband in Europe speeding up - "Broadband speeds in Europe have risen sharply in only a year, suggest official EC figures. In July 2010, 29% of broadband lines in Europe ran at speeds of at least 10 Mbps, revealed Commission research. By contrast in July 2009 only 15% of broadband lines were capable of hitting that speed."

Netflix's Move Onto the Web Stirs Rivalries - "In a matter of months, the movie delivery company Netflix has gone from being the fastest-growing first-class mail customer of the United States Postal Service to the biggest source of streaming Web traffic in North America during peak evening hours. That transformation — from a mail-order business to a technology company — is revolutionizing the way millions of people watch television, but it's also proving to be a big headache for TV providers and movie studios, which increasingly see Netflix as a competitive threat, even as they sell Netflix their content... "

5 tips for holiday electronics shopping - "Prices on consumer electronics products can be pretty recession-blind. The iPad -- a hot tablet computer on the wish lists of 6- to 12-year-olds -- starts at $500 and climbs to $830. Microsoft's no-controller gaming system, Kinect, another hot item, runs $300 to $400 when you include the Xbox 360..."

Age Estimation from Blood Has Immediate Forensic Application - "Scientists have devised a method that would allow them to estimate the age of crime suspects or missing persons from blood collected at the scene of a crime..."

New imaging technique accurately finds cancer cells, fast - "The long, anxious wait for biopsy results could soon be over, thanks to a tissue-imaging technique developed at the University of Illinois. The research team demonstrated the novel microscopy technique, called nonlinear interferometric vibrational imaging (NIVI), on rat breast-cancer cells and tissues. It produced easy-to-read, color-coded images of tissue, outlining clear tumor boundaries, with more than 99 percent confidence – in less than five minutes...."

Is a life of crime hereditary? New research suggests that criminal behaviour could be 'all in the genes' - "Turning to crime is in the genes, according to new research carried out in the US. A study of young men and women who had been adopted as children found they were up to four and a half more times to have been in trouble with the police if one of their natural parents had a criminal record..."

Quantum hard drives on the horizon - "The California Institute of Technology has demonstrated that quantum entanglement can simultaneously transfer whole blocks of quantum information, providing a proof-of-concept for future quantum HDs...."

Methane-powered laptops may be closer than you think - "Materials scientists unveil tiny, low-temperature methane fuel cells. Making fuel cells practical and affordable will not happen overnight. It may, however, not take much longer. With advances in nanostructured devices, lower operating temperatures, and the use of an abundant fuel source and cheaper materials, a group of researchers led by Shriram Ramanathan at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) are increasingly optimistic about the commercial viability of the technology..."

Oxygen found on Saturn's moon Rhea - "Nasa's Cassini probe has scooped oxygen from the thin atmosphere of Rhea – the first time the gas has been detected directly on another world..."

Google: ChromeOS could immediately replace 60% of Windows desktops - "Linus Upson, Google's (GOOG) vice president for engineering in charge of Chrome had some big words for the NYTimes on their soon-to-be-released OS. "ChromeOS machines could immediately replace 60% of the Windows desktops in the corporate market," he said...." See also: With Google's Chrome OS, the browser does it all

Weatherwatch: Antarctica's clear skies - "If you are looking for the calmest, driest and coldest place on Earth your search could be over. Astronomers seeking the best site in the world for an observatory discovered a place known simply as Ridge A, 4,052m (13,297ft) high up on the Antarctic Plateau. Not only is the weather serene, but the place is so pristine no human is thought to have ever set foot there...."

Bioencryption - "Data encryption and storage has always been an important branch of research in computer engineering. In our project, we explored the possibility of harnessing a biological system as an alternative solution for data en/decryption and storage. Using bacteria as the information storage device is not new. However the practicability of previous research is being doubt due to the limited size of information available to be inserted into the bacteria."

In Brief: Study backs Einstein notion on expanding universe - "Scientists have found new evidence that an idea Albert Einstein regretted ever having may be key to solving a big mystery: why the universe is expanding at an ever-faster clip..."

California Man Had Bomb Factory In His Home, Say Prosecutors - "A California man accused of robbing banks and assembling what may be the largest cache of homemade explosives ever found in the U.S. was ordered held on $5 million bail Monday..."

‘Spider-Man' Starts to Emerge From Secrecy - "Nine years in the making, the moment came on Saturday to try running through the first act of the new musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” without stopping. As the band struck up an ominous tune that wailed like an ambulance siren, the enormous stage curtain rose to reveal a young woman dangling under a mock-up of the Brooklyn Bridge. Above her appeared a masked man, clad in skin-hugging tights, red and blue and all-American..."

Small Aircraft Propulsion: The Future Is Here - "The new GAP engines will change all of that, along with our ideas about what general aviation propulsion systems can be. With their smooth, quiet operation, they provide comfort never before enjoyed in general aviation light aircraft. New engines are crucial to truly new airplane designs. The GAP engines are bringing about a revolution in light aircraft affordability, ease of use, and performance..."

Demanding Design Boosts Shuttle Engine - "A space shuttle main engine burns at 6,000 degrees F, but the outside of the nozzle remains cool to the touch. Prior to launch, sometimes it even frosts over. The nozzle technology that allows a finger-width of ridged metal to contain and steer flames that would boil iron is just one of the scores of innovations designers came up with for the engines three decades ago...."

Study: NASA, White House are social-media savvy - "NASA and the White House are tops at using social media and the Web compared with a wide range of other public sector groups in the U.S., according to a study out today from the George Washington University School of Business and digital think tank L2...."

Give Thanks? Science Supersized Your Turkey Dinner - "Your corn is sweeter, your potatoes are starchier and your turkey is much, much bigger than the foods that sat on your grandparents' Thanksgiving dinner table. Most everything on your plate has undergone tremendous genetic change under the intense selective pressures of industrial farming. Pilgrims and American Indians ate foods called corn and turkey, but the actual organisms they consumed didn't look or taste much at all like our modern variants do...."

It's All Gravy: The Industrial History of a Thanksgiving Favorite - "But homecooking is to industrial food processing what walking is to flying an airplane. The gravy mix isn't just huge vats of drippings mixed with flour and water. More than a century's worth of food engineering have gone into making a powder you mix with water and microwave in three minutes to manufacture a smooth gravy...."

Thermite Thanksgiving

Shunned Profiling Technology on the Verge of Comeback - "One of the most potentially intrusive technologies for profiling and targeting Internet users with ads is on the verge of a comeback, two years after an outcry by privacy advocates in the U.S. and Britain appeared to kill it...."

Facebook: Mark Zuckerberg may not yet earn anything, but for some investors it's a goldmine - "The hottest topic in investment has long been, when will Facebook float on the stock market? But for some rich individuals, and cast of brokers and other middlemen, there is no patience for finding out. They want a piece of Facebook now – and they're getting it...."

Europe bans baby bottles with Bisphenol-A - "Europe on Thursday banned baby bottles containing the chemical Bisphenol-A as of early next year over fears it may harm the health of children throughout the EU's half a billion population..."

What Good Is Wall Street? Much of what investment bankers do is socially worthless - "A few months ago, I came across an announcement that Citigroup, the parent company of Citibank, was to be honored, along with its chief executive, Vikram Pandit, for “Advancing the Field of Asset Building in America.” This seemed akin to, say, saluting BP for services to the environment or praising Facebook for its commitment to privacy. During the past decade, Citi has become synonymous with financial misjudgment, reckless lending, and gargantuan losses: what might be termed asset denuding rather than asset building. In late 2008, the sprawling firm might well have collapsed but for a government bailout. Even today the U.S. taxpayer is Citigroup's largest shareholder...."

Light at night causes changes in brain linked to depression - "Exposure to even dim light at night is enough to cause physical changes in the brains of hamsters that may be associated with depression, a new study shows. .."

Spatwatch

Motor Trend Magazine Disembowels Rush Limbaugh - "Motor Trend magazine named the Chevy Volt its 2011 Car of the Year. This choice--not surprisingly--failed to sit well with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh. "Of all the cars in the world, the Chevrolet Volt is the Car of the Year?" scoffed Limbaugh on his show last week. "Motor Trend magazine, that's the end of them. How in the world do they have any credibility? Not one has been sold.".."

2011 Chevrolet Volt Gets 93 MPGe EV Rating, 60 MPG Combined - "The shenanigans continue. Just this week the Nissan LEAF was rated at 99 mpg-equivalent by the EPA, raising the ire of our own John Voelcker--and justifiably so. Today, the Volt gets similar treatment and a similar rating, but only in EV mode. Add in the gas-only mode's 37 mpg rating and the combined average drops to 60 mpg..."

Crawler

Gmail "Call Recording" Feature Rolls Out, Mel Gibson Warned - "It appears that Gmail now has a new feature previously only available to Google Voice users by hitting the number "4" button when receiving inbound calls...."

Intel Microprocessor Business ‘Doomed,' Claims ARM Co-Founder - "“The reason why ARM is going to kill the microprocessor is not because Intel will not eventually produce an Atom [Intel's low-power microprocessor] that might be as good as an ARM, but because Intel has the wrong business model,” said Dr. Hauser. “People in the mobile phone architecture do not buy microprocessors. So if you sell microprocessors you have the wrong model. They license them. So it's not Intel vs. ARM, it is Intel vs. every single semiconductor company in the world.”.."

WheeMe Massage Robot Roams Around Your Back - "According to the company, this massage robot uses "unique tilt sensor technology" to move slowly across a person's body "without falling off or losing its grip." As the bot roams around, its four sprocket-like rubber wheels press gently on the skin..."

The top 10 most spectacularly wrong widely held scientific theories - "To qualify for the list, a large number of scientists at any given time must have subscribed to the particular theory before it was eventually discarded. Thus a long list of pseudoscientific ideas, crackpot though they might be, didn't make the list..."

Zoologger: Houdini fly inflates head to break walls - "You're walled up in the dark and all your food has gone. You have to escape. But to get out you have to smash your way through a stone wall with your head – without even knowing if you're going in the right direction...."

A hypnotic video of ants imitating liquids - "A hypnotic video of ants imitating liquidsTo navigate liquids and other obstacles, ants will become an amorphous mass. Watch this footage from Georgia Tech's Micah Streiff of ants pouring out of funnels and becoming a squirming bundle of writhing thorax..."

Cloud Innovators: Netflix Strategy Reflects Google Philosophy - "Welcome to a new interview series we're trying on at Cloudscaling. This series is meant to highlight not just cloud adoption stories, but stories about how businesses, particularly enterprise businesses, are changing the way they provide Information Technology (IT). As long time followers of the Cloudscaling blog know, our view is that “cloud computing” is neither outsourcing (2009) or virtualization-on-demand (2008), but something far more subtle and far-reaching: a 20-year shift in the way that all IT is provided, much like the transition from mainframe computing to enterprise computing (aka ‘client-server computing')..."

5 Technologies The Internet Is Transforming - "The creation of the Internet has created plenty of good in the world. People now have access to more information, tighter connections with more friends, and the ability to make a difference. But some things haven't had an easy time making the adjustment...."

Understanding the Internet's insecure routing infrastructure - "Let's start with a very short introduction into Internet routing. Routing is based on autonomous systems (ASes) exchanging prefixes (ranges of IP addresses) using the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). Autonomous systems are first and foremost Internet Service Providers (ISPs). However, some end-user organizations swim with the big fish, usually in order to connect to two or more ISPs at the same time. The IP addresses ISPs give out to their customers are aggregated into a relatively small number of prefixes that cover large address blocks, and these prefixes are "announced" or "advertised" over BGP to other ASes. Prefixes make their way from AS to AS, so eventually the entire Internet knows where to send packets with a given destination address...."

Facebook news feeds beset with malware - "One fifth of Facebook users are exposed to malware contained in their news feeds, claim security researchers...."

[[[Interesting Reading #629 – iPad 2 release, Chrome OS delayed, Pneumatic grappling hook, cheap e-reader paper and much more!]]]

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