Interesting Reading #643 - Project Squid Skin, Ebook ripoff, $500 for your tweet, True beauty sleep and much more!

by | Dec 16, 2010 12:01 AM ET

It's true – there is such a thing as beauty sleep - "Researchers claim to have found the first proof that getting a regular eight hours a night really does make you appear healthier and more attractive...."

DoD-Funded 'Project Squid Skin' Seeks To Build Ocean-Inspired Camouflage Out Of Metamaterials - "Sea creatures like octopus, squid and cuttlefish are among nature's best camouflage artists, changing color to blend into their environments. This is partly because cephalopod skins have some primitive optical abilities — their skin has the same light-sensing proteins found in eyes — that allow them to “see” through their skin. And the Department of Defense would like to know their secrets...."

A glimpse inside a Facebook server farm

Neuroscientists create the first brain-controlled exoskeleton - "We've had brain-computer interfaces for years now, as well as mind-controlled prosthetic limbs. Now neuroscientists have taken it to the next level, with a system that would allow you to control a super-powered exoskeleton using only your thoughts...."

AMD Radeon HD 6970 & 6950 Debut: Enter Cayman - "We have been hearing rumblings about the products we'll be showing you today, which are based on AMD's next-gen “Cayman” GPU, for months now. In fact, back in October we were able to leak a tiny bit of official information in our coverage of the AMD Radeon HD 6800 series, but there's been rampant discussion, spy images, and other leaks from all around the web for ages. And why not? It has been almost 15 months since AMD launched the Radeon HD 5870, which remains the company's fastest single-GPU. That's a freakin' eternity in Internet time...."

10 Tech Products For The Filthy Rich - "Income inequality in the U.S. is higher than it's been since the 1920s. That's tough news for most Americans, but for the top 1% who own or control about one-third of the wealth in the country, life could hardly be better...."

How a quartz watch works

Power Plants: Engineers Mimic Photosynthesis to Harvest Light Energy - "Plants take advantage of quantum mechanics to harvest sunlight with near-perfect efficiency—though only roughly 2 percent of that capture sunlight ultimately gets stored as chemical energy. Now scientists are studying how this light-harvesting step of photosynthesis is optimized by nature to learn how to mimic it in engineered systems for use in solar cells or artificial leaves that produce fuels directly from the sun...."

The Navy's 'sci-fi' super gun: a guide - "The U.S. Navy has created the world's most powerful cannon, which can fire a 23 pound bullet at seven times the speed of sound. Should we cheer this futuristic "railgun"?"

Report: Netflix Offering Big Cash For Access To In-Season TV Shows - "While Netflix has made a huge move in the last two years to expand its library of streaming movies and TV shows, the company has only been able to make a few deals that give users access to recently broadcast episodes. But a report in the New York Post claims Netflix is offering networks top-dollar for access to fresher content...."

Ebook buyers ripped-off by publisher's prices - "A glance at Amazon's bestsellers list is revealing. Some top-selling titles are set ridiculously high. For instance, ebook biographies from Stephen Fry (prices pictured below) and Michael McIntrye both sell for £12.99 – around £4 more than the paperback and hardback versions...."

Okay, NOW it is seriously on. - "Obviously this is one of those projects in early infancy, but printing active devices, even simple ones, is a major bootstrap inflection point for the world of digital fabrication. When you can print electric traces and semiconductors, a lot of things change. Obviously, this is a long way from printing out the kind of high-density computronium you get from TSMC, IBM and Intel, but you do get some nice benefits. For one, no fab plant to send parts to. While it's entirely possible to fab low tech devices in, say, a pizza oven, organic semiconductors are going to be a better path for DIYers, due to the dramatically reduced overhead (if higher per-unit cost) and due to the lack of an anneal, which can be pretty hard to do with a pizza oven. Also, all-low-temperature manufacture means you can mix the fabbing process with plastics and other, ah, delicate materials. Including biocompatible ones...."

Imagine a world where every app has its own data plan - "Imagine a world in which the apps on your phone all carried different fees. Want to launch that Facebook app? It will cost you 2¢ per megabyte of data you exchange with the social networking site—but launch Skype, and you might find yourself billed a flat monthly rate. And preferred apps would incur no charges at all, no matter how much data is exchanged...."

10 Best Data Visualization Projects of the Year – 2010 - "Data visualization and all things related continued its ascent this year with projects popping up all over the place. Some were good, and a lot were not so good. More than anything, I noticed a huge wave of big infographics this year. It was amusing at first, but then it kind of got out of hand when online education and insurance sites started to game the system. Although it's died down a lot ever since the new Digg launched..."

How Big Should We Let Google Get? Wrong Question - "While Google is busy trying to compete with the growing power of Facebook, there are still those who believe the government needs to do something to blunt the growing power of Google. Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein is the latest to join this crowd, with a piece entitled “Time to Loosen Google's Grip?,” in which he argues the company needs to be prevented from buying its way into new markets and new technologies. Not surprisingly, Google disagrees; the company's deputy general counsel, Don Harrison, has written a response to Pearlstein in which he argues that Google competes fair and square with lots of other companies, and that its acquisitions aren't likely to cause any harm...."

Special report - The cost of a malaria-free world - "How cost-effective will the vaccine be compared to tried and tested low-tech approaches like mosquito nets and insecticides, one inquirer asks. Is there any evidence that it will bring down the spread of the disease in general, helping those who haven't been vaccinated? How long is a shot likely to stay effective? Is there a danger it might foster a false sense of security? As the session goes on, it's clear that enthusiasm for Cohen's work is coupled with wariness among the experts and well-informed lawmakers. The bottom-line question: is the vaccine -- and the global health community's aim of completely eradicating a disease that kills a child every 45 seconds -- really worth the money?"

Review: John's Phone – ‘The World's Most Simple Phone' - "Tired of all the bells and whistles that come complete in today's cellphones? Hi-res cameras, speedy processors and cool apps just aren't your thing? Or perhaps you're simply too addicted to today's technology that you can't put it down? Whatever the case may be for you, John's Phone is a wonderful breath of fresh air. I'm very pleased to share some details on the ‘World's Most Simple Phone' with you. It's awesome. Keep reading for all the details...." (the guy with a camera in the back of his head)

21 Movies We Can't Wait to See in 2011

Global Eruption Rocks the Sun - "On August 1, 2010, an entire hemisphere of the sun erupted. Filaments of magnetism snapped and exploded, shock waves raced across the stellar surface, billion-ton clouds of hot gas billowed into space. Astronomers knew they had witnessed something big. It was so big, it may have shattered old ideas about solar activity...."

Tiny channels carry big information - "They say it's the little things that count, and that certainly holds true for the channels in transmembrane proteins, which are small enough to allow ions or molecules of a certain size to pass through, while keeping out larger objects. Artificial fluidic nanochannels that mimic the capabilities of transmembrane proteins are highly prized for a number of advanced technologies. However, it has been difficult to make individual artificial channels of this size – until now..."

China close top achieving advanced teleportation technology - "I may as well warn you right away that this article isn't going to be talking about Star Trek style teleportation technology. Hopefully one day I'll get to talk about the latest in personal teleportation devices, but sadly that day is not yet in sight. Real teleportation devices as they exist today, don't have the ability to mystically transport objects from one location to the other. Instead quantum teleportation is a technique that is used to transfer quantum information between two quantum systems...."

China to become second largest R&D spender - "China will soon overtake Japan as the world's second heaviest spender on research and development, according to a report from the Battelle Memorial Institute...."

Is your new mobile phone made with conflict minerals? - "What's the true cost of that mobile phone in your pocket? That's the big question human rights group Enough Project wants you to ponder this year as it urges holiday consumers to be strategic when buying electronic gifts...."

Best Buy stung by weaker sales and earnings - "Higher competition and lower consumer demand combined to bite into Best Buy's sales and earnings in the third quarter. For the quarter ended November 27, the electronics retailer yesterday reported earnings of $217 million versus $227 million a year ago, while sales trickled down 1 percent to $11.9 billion from $12 billion last year..."

How Much Is a Tweet Worth? $500, Says Toyota - "How much is a tweet worth? $500, according to a recent promotion by Toyota — more than 1,000 times the value Eventbrite places on a tweet. The car manufacturer is rewarding those who purchase a new Toyota by January 3 with a $500 debit card for tweeting about it...."

[[[Interesting Reading #642 – Waterless Washing Machine, Tablet dominance, Killer alien weeds, self-driving car debut and much more!]]]

If you would like to follow Brainstuff on Twitter or Facebook, here are the links:

More To Explore