Interesting Reading #657 - "all day" laptop batteries, rain in the desert, Amazing visual effects from Tron and much more!

by | Jan 4, 2011 07:25 PM ET

AMD promises all day battery life with Fusion chips - "Chip contender AMD is rolling out details of its AMD Fusion chip and forecasting that battery life will be transformed by the technology. Fusion chips combine graphics processor and microprocessor on one die...."

Abu Dhabi weather project 'creates man-made rainstorms' - "In a company video, seen by The Sunday Times, Helmut Fluhrer, the founder of Metro Systems International, the Swiss company in charge of the project, said: "We are currently operating our innovative rainfall enhancement technology, Weathertec, in the region of Al Ain in Abu Dhabid. We started in June 2010 and have achieved a number of rainfalls.".."

The Making of Tron: Legacy - "This video is an in-depth look at the techniques and technologies used by Digital Domain, a leading visual effects company, to produce the Hollywood blockbuster Tron: Legacy...."

New year fireworks may have caused Arkansas bird deaths - "More than 3,000 blackbirds rained down from the sky during New Year's Eve celebration..."

N.B. girl, 10, youngest person to discover a supernova - "Kathryn is the youngest person ever to have discovered a stellar explosion, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada says. Her find was confirmed by Arizona-based Canadian amateur astronomer Jack Newton, who holds the record for the discovery of the most supernovas by an amateur in 2010, and Illinois-based amateur astronomer Brian Tieman...." See also: Blighty gas man spots gas giants on his computer

5 things you never knew about penguins! - "Penguins are perhaps the most popular birds on Earth, thanks in equal measure to their incredible life cycles and charming tuxedo-clad appearances. Among their long list of superlatives, penguins can survive sub-freezing temperatures and gale force winds, dive over 1600 feet deep, hold their breath for more than 15 minutes, and survive with no food for weeks by living off stored fat [1]. These facts are so often repeated that they sometimes lose their initial wonder. Talking to K-12 schools as a guest speaker, I've found that half the classroom often knows many of these bits of penguin trivia before the presentation even starts, thanks to popular books, television specials, and the movie "March of the Penguins"...."

PHP Hangs On Numeric Value 2.2250738585072011e-308 - "I stumbled upon a very strange bug in PHP; this statement sends it into an infinite loop..."

How does Opera make money (aka our most asked question ever)? - "Over the years, Internet and the web browser industry has changed a lot. New business models and opportunities have emerged and Opera, which used to be a paid product, permanently removed the ad banner and licensing fee with Opera 8.5...."

Google Will Become an AI Company - "For quite some time I've been pretty down on GOOG. Not the company, Google, but the stock in it. The reason, I realized, is that I've been thinking of Google as a search company and search as a market is largely played out. There'll be some growth from mobile, though much of it cannibalistic, and some further increases from local and just general demographic shifts as the web insinuates itself further and further into more people's lives. But overall search will remain an industry measured in the tens of billions for quite some time, and their stratospheric stock prices have left better investments in many other corners of the market...."

Wal-Mart Could Pay $40 Million To Settle Claims It Colluded With Netflix - "Did Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) and Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) illegally divide up the DVD market back in 2005? Wal-Mart has denied the allegations, but the retail giant is now set to cut a check—for anywhere from $29 million to $40 million—to make them go away...."

Israel has become a high-tech superpower over the past two decades. Can the good news last? - "ISRAELIS tell a joke about a Jew who takes to reading Arab newspapers. A friend, puzzled, asks him why. If I read the Israeli papers, all I hear is bad news about the Jews, he replies; but the Arab papers constantly claim we are all rich and successful, and rule the world. These days the hero of the tale has another source of good news about Israel: the business press. Over the past two decades Israel has been transformed from a semisocialist backwater into a high-tech superpower. Adjust for population and Israel leads the world in the number of high-tech start-ups and the size of the venture-capital industry. ..."

Nokia Research Center -- NRC Presents Cognitive Radio

Red Hat will be the first - and only - $1bn Linux firm - "Therefore - a bit, again, like Oracle - Red Hat is now a serious alternative for (as appropriate) Microsoft, IBM (WebSphere) and former Sun solutions in the OS and middleware arenas. So, all good so far...."

2012 named most absurd science fiction film by Nasa - "Roland Emmerich's disaster movie proved to be a smash hit, taking more than £490 million at the box office - but it was less popular at the US space agency. A panel of Nasa experts concluded 2012 was the most scientifically flawed blockbuster ever made...."

Court OKs searches of cell phones without warrant - "The California Supreme Court allowed police Monday to search arrestees' cell phones without a warrant, saying defendants lose their privacy rights for any items they're carrying when taken into custody...."

Navy's New Warship: Bargain, Death Trap or Both? - "After years of botched contracts and cost overruns, the Navy has finally signed contracts to buy a bunch of its speedy, near-shore Littoral Combat Ships — at a per-copy price nearly a third cheaper than expected. But hold the champagne. The cost-cutting that made the LCS so affordable might also doom the ships to watery graves in future conflicts...."

If You're Homeless In Japan, Here Are Your Options - "Japan's jobless rate is currently at 5.2%, which is a record high (way better than America's, but still). There is a 15.7% poverty rate, one of the highest amongst industrialized nations. 15,800 people live on the streets of Japan (according to the government – in reality this number is probably higher with 10,000+ in Tokyo alone). To sum things up, things aren't all that great, and the recession is hitting Japan pretty hard as well. If you are poor in Japan, however, there are a couple of interesting options for you. Better than living with the monkeys, anyways...." See also: Japan's tent city

So long, broadband duopoly? Cable's high-speed triumph - "Broadband users have long been skeptical of the duopoly situation in the US Internet market, which often feels like “pick your poison”: telephone company or cable company. "Where's the real competition?" they cry, pointing to other countries with healthy ISP markets thanks to regulated line-sharing or even direct government control of the underlying fiber infrastructure (Australia's new plan). But will they one day look back at the US duopoly situation with something like longing? "

The Marijuana Conspiracy: The Reason Hemp Is Illegal - "Where did the word ‘marijuana' come from? In the mid 1930s, the M-word was created to tarnish the good image and phenomenal history of the hemp plant – as you will read. The facts cited here, with references, are generally verifiable in the Encyclopedia Britannica which was printed on hemp paper for 150 years..."

Reddit 2010 statistics

Money for Science: U.S. Funding over the Years

Women Laughing Alone With Salad

The Next Net - "The moment the "net neutrality" debate began was the moment the net neutrality debate was lost. For once the fate of a network - its fairness, its rule set, its capacity for social or economic reformation - is in the hands of policymakers and the corporations funding them - that network loses its power to effect change. The mere fact that lawmakers and lobbyists now control the future of the net should be enough to turn us elsewhere...."

Bumble Bees In U.S. Suffer Sharp Decline, Joining Countless Other Species Disappearing Worldwide - "North American bees are disappearing at a rapid rate, signaling a dire threat to the production of countless food sources. The Guardian reports that four common species of U.S. bumble bees have declined 96 percent in recent decades, and scientists allege that disease and inbreeding are responsible...."

NASA Unveils Rules for Space Taxis - "Companies wishing to take over the job of flying NASA astronauts to the International Space Station have some new guidelines to ponder. NASA has released a 39-page document outlining what will be needed to certify commercial crew transportation systems..."

CBS 2 Exclusive: The Fall Of ‘Spider-Man' - "It was a 30-foot fall that could have ended in death. Spider-Man's heart-stopping plunge to the stage last month stunned a Broadway audience and left the actor critically injured. For the first time, Spider-Man is speaking about that terrifying stage turn. He recently granted CBS 2's Dana Tyler an exclusive interview...."

[[[Interesting Reading #656 – Intel's most powerful chips, Amazing visual effects, Dr. Death's corpse and much more!]]]

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