Eric Knight Inventor. Entrepreneur. Author. Futurist. Business & Internet Pioneer. Tue, 04 Nov 2014 13:15:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Welcome, intrepid visitor… Sat, 05 Mar 2011 19:10:11 +0000 You’re essentially looking over my shoulder as I write, think, create, invent, and — in general — ponder the world around us.  Feel free to peruse my writings and chime in as you’re so inspired.  I encourage spirited debate.

Everything I type feeds parallel simultaneous streams to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more.  It’s a global tightrope without a net.

No topic is off limits. If you’re looking for a site that is “politically correct,” you’ve come to the wrong place.  Hit the back button on your browser now.

Lots and lots of new features are coming online.  They’re all in various stages of development.  You’ll soon see innovative things I’m working on — such as a live, streaming, two-way “TV channel” of sorts where you’ll be able to interact with me (audio, video, text) in real time as I type here in front of my computer.

This is my platform to push the boundaries of technology in every dimension.

Hang on tight.  We may achieve orbit.  Or we may sail off a cliff.  But the ride will be exhilarating.

— Eric

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Take a look at my book: The New Race To Space Wed, 04 May 2011 21:32:08 +0000 You saw it on the news. You read about it in the press. But now you can learn the inside story of the team that launched the world’s first civilian rocket into space.

As many of you know, I was one of the team leaders of this historic mission.  On May 17, 2004, after years of agonizing rocket crashes and catastrophes — some quite spectacular — we accomplished our remarkable goal.

I stuffed the book with 90 full-color photos to bring the adventure to life in vivid detail.  It’s 244 pages long in a wonderfully oversized 6×9 format.  (Paperback size wouldn’t do justice to the glorious color images.)  Check out the covers here.

I encourage you to check out my book’s companion Web site at  You’ll see lots of interesting videos and other neat stories.


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Senior aerospace writer, Jeff Foust, provides an insightful perspective regarding the Antares and SpaceShipTwo commercial spaceflight mission failures Tue, 04 Nov 2014 13:15:03 +0000 Excerpt from Jeff Foust’s article:

“The two accidents are linked by proximity in time, but in reality little else. Yet, there’s the danger that they will be tied together by the public, and by policymakers, by the fact that they were commercial, despite the otherwise vast differences. Already some people have raised questions about the capabilities of commercial space in general, for example, from these accidents. How the industry responds to and recovers from these accidents will shape those public and policy reactions in the months to come.”

For the complete article, please click here.

Images courtesy of NASA/Joel Kowsk and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

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Nice review of Google Android 5 Lollipop by The Guardian: “The latest version of Android brings a completely new design, battery-saving features and native multi-user support for phones and tablets” Mon, 03 Nov 2014 13:44:44 +0000 Excerpts from The Guardian’s review:

Google’s new version of its tablet and smartphone operating system “Lollipop” is the fifth version of Android, introducing new features and tweaks that collectively give the user the feeling that quite a lot has been improved.  Unveiled as “L” at Google’s developer conference I/O in June to replace Android 4.4 “KitKat, Android 5 Lollipop was revealed alongside Google’s new design ethos called “Material”.

Smooth Sliding:  For Lollipop that means the use of much brighter, fuller colours than the previous version of Android and a more consistent look. Menu bars are one solid block of colour, icons are highly stylised and flat, while interface “cards” first introduced with Google Now are used throughout, floating and sliding over the top of each other adding depth.  Every bit of the interface looks different, including the background which now changes colour depending on the time of day in some apps, and some slick new sliding animations which add motion to many of Android’s responses.

Beyond the obvious colourful difference, Lollipop introduces a couple of important features into the core Android experience.

The first is multiple user accounts on one device. Some Android tablets have had support for more than one user, but smartphones and other devices have been limited to a single user account.

Multitasking has also been enhanced with a new card system. Each app can show more than one card allowing users to switch to an open message or back to the inbox, for example – not just to one view in the app.

Longer Battery Life:  Lollipop also promises to help prolong smartphone and tablet battery life by being more efficient and tougher on battery-draining apps. It uses a new version of the underlying software called Art that powers apps, which is both faster and lighter on resources.

A pre-release version of Lollipop installed on a Nexus 5 smartphone made the battery last around a quarter longer, with others finding even longer gains of over 35% or two hours in tests. Users should see their smartphones and tablets lasting significantly longer after being updated

For the complete article, please click here.

Image courtesy of Google


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“Solar storm nearly destroyed Earth two years ago” say NASA and scientists. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 13:07:47 +0000 Yep:  Our entire electrical grid, orbiting satellites, Internet — the mainstays of modern life — were almost wiped out on July 23, 2012.

This is not hyperbole.  It almost happened.  And scientists believe that the odds of a solar storm with enough intensity to disrupt our lives over the next 10 years is 12%.

With all of the crises going on in the world, this little bit of news slipped through the cracks of the general media.  But it got the attention of lots of scientists and astronomers.

If you want to know how close we came, check out

Image courtesy of the Associated Press

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Eric Knight — cranking out rock tunes (on guitar and harmonica) — helps raise $1,500 for local food pantry. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 12:47:29 +0000 You know what they say about all work and no play.  So I took a little time out from business to play some classic rock with my ol’ buddy Arnold “Arnie” Aranci and his sons.  The goal:  Raise money for our hometown’s food pantry at the inaugural “Hamstock” event.  We way exceed our goal, raising $1,500.

Enjoy the following HD YouTube videos:

Last Dance With Mary Jane (Tom Petty).  Arnold “Arnie” Aranci, Eric Knight, Christopher Aranci, Anthony Aranci:  


Takin’ Care Of Business (Bachman Turner Overdrive).  Arnold “Arnie” Aranci, Eric Knight, Christopher Aranci, Anthony Aranci:  


Johnny B Goode (Chuck Berry).  Arnold “Arnie” Aranci, Eric Knight, Christopher Aranci, Anthony Aranci:  


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At a recent aerospace event, astronaut legend — Buzz Aldrin — and I exchanged signed copies of our books. But that’s just for starters… Sun, 27 Jul 2014 12:38:13 +0000 Eric_Knight_with_Buzz_Aldrin_400x239_copyright_Eric_KnightBuzz and I are part of a growing team of advisors, astronauts, aerospace companies, universities, and energized students of the Time Capsule To Mars project that is designed to send your “selfies” to Mars for 99 cents each. (Yes, you read that right!)

To be working with Buzz Aldrin — one of my childhood heroes — is a tremendous experience. The student-led Time Capsule To Mars project combines my passion for student enterprise and new frontiers in aerospace. If you’d like more info, check out

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“Aquarids” meteor shower this Monday night / Tuesday morning; should outperform the annual favorite, Perseids. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 01:23:05 +0000 The moonless sky and fair weather forecast throughout many parts of the U.S. means a great celestial event.  Just grab a lawn chair.  Lie down and look generally south / southeast towards the horizon.  And enjoy the show!  (No telescope or binoculars required.)  After your eyes fully adjust to the dark (give it 10 minutes), you should see up to 20 meteors per hour.  Best time should be about 1am on Tuesday morning.  The following is a great article with particulars:  Watching a meteor shower is a great family event and educational experience.  Have fun!

Image courtesy National Geographic / Starry Night Software

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Watch Stunning First Simulation of Universe’s 13-Billion-Year Evolution (from National Geographic) Thu, 08 May 2014 18:54:17 +0000 (National Geographic) “Until now, no single simulation was able to reproduce the universe on both large and small scales simultaneously,” Mark Vogelsberger of MIT and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who led the simulation team, says in a statement. Using a computer program, the team grew the virtual galaxies in simulated time, starting from 12 million years after the big bang (which kicked off about 13.8 billion years ago), they report in a study released this week by the journal Nature.

For the complete article, please visit here.


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Will Comet LINEAR produce a new major meteor shower in 2014? Mon, 05 May 2014 00:53:23 +0000 comet-LINEAR-meteor-shower-orbit-graphicFrom EarthSky: The list of major meteor showers hasn’t changed much in recent decades, but it has changed a little. Meteor showers are part of nature, after all, and the list of major showers shifts and changes slightly, as all things in nature do, with one shower or another becoming more or less exciting as the years pass. In 2014, though, an exciting new meteor shower might come on the scene. This possible shower stems from a comet — Comet 209P/LINEAR — discovered in 2004. Comet 209P/LINEAR passed near the sun in 2009 and will pass near it again in early May, 2014. On the night of May 23-24, 2014 — if the predictions hold true — Earth might be sandblasted with debris from this comet, resulting in a fine display of meteors, or shooting stars. Mid-northern North American latitudes are favored. Follow the links below to learn more about the possible 2014 meteor shower of Comet 209P/LINEAR.

As for the predicted time of the shower … skywatchers in southern Canada and the continental U.S. are said by the experts to be especially well positioned to see the meteors on the night of May 23-24, 2014.

For the complete article, with excellent graphics and references, please click here.

Image courtesy of NASA / JPL / Horizon / Sky and Telescope / EarthSky

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Another wonderful year as a Judge at the 31st annual Connecticut Invention Convention! Sun, 04 May 2014 00:54:36 +0000 connecticut-invention-convention-floorOne of my proudest and rewarding highlights of every year is as a Judge at the Connecticut Invention Convention. Kindergarten to 8th grade kids envelop Gampel Pavilion — the home of our dual UConn Husky basketball champions, of course! Hundreds of students, from across Connecticut, show off their amazing brilliance and creativity. It is so inspiring!

I’ve included two photos (above and below) from the event. Enjoy!

— Eric

P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about this wonderful event and associated year-long program, here is a link to the home page of the Connecticut Invention Convention:


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Solved! Bluetooth calls with PIN locked screen || Bluetooth voice dialing with screen lock Sat, 01 Mar 2014 20:16:38 +0000 samsung-galaxy-s4-plus-motorola-H730-headsetHere’s a RELIABLE solution to Bluetooth voice dialing even with a PIN locked screen.  I’ve tested it with two Samsung Galaxy S4 phones — one running Android 4.3 and the other running Android 4.4.2.

The magic combination is Motorola’s MY MOTOSPEAK version 3.0.57 (a free download from the Google Play Store, updated January 13, 2014) and the Motorola H730 headset.

Bluetooth voice dialing with a locked screen has been a major topic on Android forums.  A reliable solution has been elusive.  The latest release of MY MOTOSPEAK + the Motorola H730 headset seems to do the trick.

A great fringe benefit is that MY MOTOSPEAK also does voice to text messages.  I’ve been really impressed with the translation accuracy.  It also supports dozens of punctuation symbols and many popular emoticons.

Of course, I can’t absolutely guarantee that this combination will work for you.  But after eight months of trying various headsets and software options, this combination works reliably for me.

Hope this helps.  Feel free to spread the word!

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Would you like to fly to Mars? Here’s the next best thing… Sun, 19 Jan 2014 23:10:54 +0000 time_capsule_to_mars_spacecraft_rendering_for_online_distributionMy company is a proud supporter of the international student team that’s planning to build and fly a small spacecraft to Mars. On board would be a two-inch-diameter titanium “time capsule of humanity” containing perhaps millions of digital photos, videos, audio files, and text messages from people all over the world — including you.

Your digital creations would be stored on new “quartz” media that, by some estimates, will survive on the surface of Mars for up to 300 million years.

This would be the world’s first interplanetary space mission led by a non-government team. Other key mission supporters include MIT and Explore Mars, Inc. Details of the mission can be viewed at this link.

While the students are working on the essential science, they are also looking for creative names for both the spacecraft and the Mars “time capsule” lander. The goal is to unleash the world’s creativity in every aspect of the program. The individuals who submit the chosen names will get special digital allocations in the time capsule’s quartz memory, as well as other unique tributes. To submit your name ideas, visit

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New benchmark for quality, low-cost LED lighting Sun, 19 Jan 2014 22:26:44 +0000 cree-led-bulbA friend gave me a heads up on these Cree LED bulbs a couple months ago.  At Home Depot, they’re just $4.97 for the 40-watt equivalent (450 lumens) and just $6.97 for the 60-watt equivalent (800 lumens).  You’ll save 85% on energy costs vs. traditional incandescents — so they’ll cost you only about a buck a year to run.  The light is great.  They look like “real” bulbs.  They’re dimmable.  And they’ll last over 20 years.  A slam-dunk winner!

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How to stop Google from using your identity in ads. How to opt out of Google’s Shared Endorsements in ads. Sat, 12 Oct 2013 01:46:55 +0000 google-personal-endorsement-in-adsStarting November 11th, your reviews of restaurants, hotels, shops, songs, and products — and your image — could show up in ads when searched on Google.  It’s called Google’s Shared Endorsements.  The image in this post is an example.

If you are uncomfortable with this exposure, there’s an easy way to opt out of Google’s Shared Endorsements:

Log into your Google account (for most people, your Gmail account).  Then come back to this post and click on  In the page that comes up, scroll to the bottom and UNCHECK the box next to the phrase:  “Based upon my activity, Google may show my name and profile photo in shared endorsements that appear in ads.”   Then press the SAVE button.  That’s it!

For more information regarding Google’s Shared Endorsements in ads, click here for some more information from ABC News / The Associated Press.

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Excellent report: Consumer Report’s review of the Affordable Health Care Act “Obamacare” Sun, 22 Sep 2013 14:13:59 +0000 Consumer_Reports_Health_Care_FactsDownload and read the excellent perspective on the Affordable Health Care Act, a.k.a., “Obamacare” — entitled “Health Reform:  Seven Things You Need To Know” — by clicking on this link.

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Alzheimer’s disease treatment invention Tue, 17 Sep 2013 15:18:42 +0000 Alzheimers_Treatment_System_logoAs you may have seen in the media, I have been developing a system that I believe holds the promise to treat Alzheimer’s disease.  Alzheimer’s disease is currently untreatable and incurable.

5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease; it is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.   It is a terrible disease that rips apart the fabric of families.

The disease also drains the American economy by over $200 billion per year in health-care costs.  It’s an international crisis, as well, affecting 35 million people, worldwide.

I have been working on my invention for over three-and-a-half years.  Until my patent issues, I can’t describe the system in any detail.  I can say that it uses radio waves in tandem with aerospace-inspired technology.  And my goal is to connect with one or more industry partners with the wherewithal to take the next steps — such as further laboratory research and, ultimately, clinical trials.

To the science and medical community, and other potential business partners, the following is a special phone number for confidential discussions:  (860) 993-1310.   Similarly, here is a special e-mail address:

To stay up to date on any developments, I encourage anyone reading this to follow my company’s Twitter feed here:  @alzinvention

***  Quick Note ***    I am proud to say I am getting news coverage from all over — local to worldwide.  Here’s a news article from the Hartford Business Journal:    And here’s an article from Europe:


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After 36 years and 12 billion miles, Voyager 1 crosses into interstellar space — becomes humanity’s “first true starship” Fri, 13 Sep 2013 00:38:42 +0000 (CBS)  Covering nearly a million miles a day, NASA’s nuclear-powered Voyager 1 spacecraft, 36 years and 12 billion miles from Earth, has crossed the boundary between the sun’s influence and interstellar space, sailing into the vast gulf between the stars to become humanity’s first true starship, scientists announced Thursday.

“In leaving the (solar system) and setting sail on the cosmic seas between the stars, Voyager has joined the other historic journeys of exploration such as the first circumnavigation of the Earth and the first footprint on the moon,” said Voyager project scientist Ed Stone.

“This historic step is even more exciting because it marks the beginning of a new era of exploration for Voyager, the exploration of the space between the stars.”

To read the full story, click here.   Image courtesy of NASA

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See Friday night’s rocket launch to the moon from your backyard! Wed, 04 Sep 2013 14:01:38 +0000 Most places on the central East Coast, all the way up to northern New England, will be able to see this Friday night’s maiden launch of America’s new five-stage “Minotaur V” rocket.  It will transport NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer spacecraft (LADEE) to the moon.

The launch is scheduled for 11:27pm EDT from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.  Use the associated graphics and your location to determine the number of seconds from launch the rocket will be visible, the direction to look, and how many degrees above the horizon the rocket will appear.   For instance, if you’re in New England, it should be visible 80 seconds after launch, towards the south, about 10 – 15 degrees above the horizon.

The weather forecast for Friday night, at the launch site and for viewing, looks great.

For more information about the moon mission, visit

Images courtesy of NASA Wallops, Orbital Sciences Corp., and


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Cool. The world’s first transparent speaker! Sun, 01 Sep 2013 03:13:11 +0000 (PHYS.ORG)  This is a photograph of the world’s first transparent speaker “…consisting of a thin sheet of rubber sandwiched between two layers of a saltwater gel, and it’s as clear as a window. A high-voltage signal that runs across the surfaces and through the layers forces the rubber to rapidly contract and vibrate, producing sounds that span the entire audible spectrum, 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz. But this is not an electronic device, nor has it ever been seen before.

Published in the August 30 issue of Science, it represents the first demonstration that electrical charges carried by ions, rather than electrons, can be put to meaningful use in fast-moving, high-voltage devices. Ionic conductors can be stretched to many times their normal area without an increase in resistivity — a problem common in stretchable electronic devices. Secondly, they can be transparent, making them well suited for optical applications. Thirdly, the gels used as electrolytes are biocompatible, so it would be relatively easy to incorporate ionic devices—such as artificial muscles or skin—into biological systems. After all, signals carried by charged ions are the electricity of the human body, allowing neurons to share knowledge and spurring the heart to beat. Bioengineers would dearly love to mesh artificial organs and limbs with that system.”

For the full article, click here.  Photo courtesy Christoph Keplinger and Jeong-Yun Sun, Whitesides and Suo Research Groups, Harvard University

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Amazing discovery! A colossal canyon — the longest on Earth — discovered under Greenland’s ice sheet. Sun, 01 Sep 2013 00:59:07 +0000 According to the journal Science “…the broad chasm is up to 2,600 feet (800 meters) deep and 6 miles (10 km) wide, similar to America’s Grand Canyon in scale… The distinctive V-shaped walls and flat bottom suggests water carved the buried valley, not ice…  The canyon predates the ice sheet that permanently covered Greenland about 1.8 million years ago.”   The accompanying graphic is a 3-D image.   For the full article, follow this linkImage courtesy of J. Bamber, University Bristol

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NASA lets Curiosity rover drive itself on Mars with first use of autonomous navigation Sat, 31 Aug 2013 02:25:45 +0000 (JPL)  NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has used autonomous navigation for the first time, a capability that lets the rover decide for itself how to drive safely on Mars.

This latest addition to Curiosity’s array of capabilities will help the rover cover the remaining ground en route to Mount Sharp, where geological layers hold information about environmental changes on ancient Mars. The capability uses software that engineers adapted to this larger and more complex vehicle from a similar capability used by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, which is also currently active on Mars.

Using autonomous navigation, or autonav, Curiosity can analyze images it takes during a drive to calculate a safe driving path. This enables it to proceed safely even beyond the area that the human rover drivers on Earth can evaluate ahead of time.

On Tuesday, Aug. 27, Curiosity successfully used autonomous navigation to drive onto ground that could not be confirmed safe before the start of the drive. This was a first for Curiosity. In a preparatory test last week, Curiosity plotted part of a drive for itself, but kept within an area that operators had identified in advance as safe.   For the complete article, click here.  Image courtesy of NASA.

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Google acquires smartwatch maker WIMM — to compete with Apple and Samsung Sat, 31 Aug 2013 02:06:56 +0000 smartwatch-google(Bloomberg)  Google Inc., which develops the Android software used on mobile devices, has purchased smartwatch designer WIMM Labs, stepping up efforts against competitors in the wearable-computing market.

Google, which didn’t provide details on the acquisition, completed the deal in 2012, the company said in an e-mailed statement. WIMM Labs, based in Los Altos, California, had unveiled a smartwatch design in 2011 that included a full-color touch screen, Internet access and sensors for tracking the owner’s motions, the company said.

Google, owner of the world’s largest search engine, is ramping up in wearable computing to woo consumers in the emerging industry. The purchase comes as new smartwatch devices are on tap from rivals Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, a wristwatch-like device with features of a smartphone, will be introduced Sept. 4, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

For the complete article, click here.

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How to grill the perfect steak in FIVE MINUTES FLAT! (And minimize grilling carcinogens, too!) Sun, 18 Aug 2013 03:00:58 +0000 grill-steak-in-five-minutesNothing beats a steak cooked on an open flame. Nothing. But what if you’re short on time but still want that grilled-flame flavor? Well, I’ve been experimenting. (Yes, I still play with my food!) Just take your steaks, put them on a microwave-safe plate, and cover them with a piece of white paper towel (“Bounty” etc.). Pre-cook them in the microwave on high for about 2.5 minutes per total pound of meat. While the microwave is doing its job, heat up your grill. Get it nice and hot. (I get the temperature to about 400 degrees F.) Then pop the pre-cooked steaks on the grill. Cook the steaks for three to four minutes on one side — and then flip. Cook for another minute or two. Presto! You’ll be really, really surprised at the flavor. I am a grilled-steak aficionado, but I’m not sure if I can tell the difference.

FRINGE BENEFIT: If you are concerned about the potential carcinogens caused by grilling — heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) — then you’ll also be doing yourself and your family a favor with this combination cooking method, as it dramatically shortens the time on the grill. BTW, the photos in this post are rib-eye steaks that me and my wife, Elsie, recently cooked with this super-quick method.  And they were delicious!

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World’s first lab-grown burger to be cooked and eaten today Mon, 05 Aug 2013 14:58:34 +0000 (BBC)  Scientists took cells from a cow and, at an institute in the Netherlands, turned them into strips of muscle which they combined to make a patty.  Researchers say the technology could be a sustainable way of meeting what they say is a growing demand for meat.  An independent study found that lab grown beef uses 45% less energy than the average global representative figure for farming cattle. It also produces 96% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and requires 99% less land.  For the complete article, click here.   Image courtesy of the BBC

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Astronaut nearly drowns on spacewalk outside of International Space Station Thu, 18 Jul 2013 01:42:34 +0000 astronaut_spacewalk(USA Today)  Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency got into trouble Tuesday. He was performing routine maintenance outside when water started trickling into the back of his helmet.

Spacewalking partner Chris Cassidy, a U.S. astronaut, took a look: “It’s a lot of water. His hair is saturated. It’s in his eyes as well as his nose and mouth.”

Mission Control was alarmed. NASA quickly aborted the spacewalk, cut it short by five hours. Parmitano and Cassidy were ordered back to the U.S. Quest airlock, where they would be out of the deadly vacuum environment in low Earth orbit, and into the relative safety of the space station.

The tide kept rising in Parmitano’s helmet during his 20-minute retreat to the airlock. And yes, NASA said he was in danger of drowning.

“Imagine you’re in a fish bowl,” said David Korth, NASA’s lead spacewalk flight director. “So, go stick your head in a fish bowl and try to walk around, and that’s not anything you would take lightly. And certainly, (spacewalking) is dangerous already.”

Parmitano could not hear or respond to questions after he reentered the airlock.

“Hey, Luca, from Houston, how’re you doing? Give us a status,” astronaut Shane Kimbrough said from Mission Control.

“Luca, did you hear that?” Cassidy asked.

He didn’t.

“Squeeze my hand if you’re fine,” Cassidy said, peering into his crewmate’s visor.

“I’m trying to see him,” Cassidy said. “He looks fine. He looks miserable, but OK.”

NASA is investigating. The initial suspect, a drinking water bag, no longer is thought to be the culprit. Jones, the veteran spacewalker, said his best guess is the leak came from Parmitano’s astronaut underwear.

Astronauts don form-fitting garments called Liquid Cooling and Ventilation Garments. They are cooled by chilled water lines running throughout. Jones suspects a rupture in a cooling line near Parmitano’s neck.

“The closest water line to where he was experiencing (trouble) is in the neck area of the LCVG,” Jones said.

For the complete article, click here.   Image courtesy of AP/NASA

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Google speeds up Chrome for iOS with new data compression feature Thu, 18 Jul 2013 01:28:24 +0000 (PC World) Google’s Chrome Web browser for iOS devices has been updated to include several enhanced features, including data compression designed to speed up page loading. The update also builds in interoperability with other Google apps, giving users the option to open links for YouTube, Maps, Google+ and Google Drive in the app instead of in the browser. In the update, there are also voice search enhancements to provide text-to-speech for all variations of English, Spanish, German and several other languages. Users can also now access their full browser history to view a list of websites the person has visited while using Chrome in standard mode. For the complete article, click here.

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Crank up “Stairway to Heaven” by Ann & Nancy Wilson (HEART) and Jason Bonham — in HD and great sound! Sat, 06 Jul 2013 00:16:22 +0000 Turn up your speakers for this full-length, unedited performance of rock’s ultra-classic “Stairway to Heaven” as performed by Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson, Jason Bonham (son of the late drummer, John Bonham), and their combined bands HEART & Led Zeppelin Experience at the 4th of July “The Heartbreaker Tour” concert at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. My wife and I had the great pleasure of attending the concert, and I snapped this video with my amazing Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone in HD. Enjoy!


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Voyager spacecraft surfs solar system’s edge Fri, 28 Jun 2013 22:13:30 +0000 [BBC News]  Ed Stone cannot say when the Voyager-1 spacecraft will leave the Solar System, but he believes the moment is close.  The latest data from this extraordinary probe, reported in this week’s Science journal, suggests it is surfing right on the very edge of our Sun’s domain.

The particles streaming away from our star have reduced to a trickle at its present location, 18.5 billion km from Earth.   Particles flying towards it from interstellar space, by contrast, have jumped markedly in the past year.  It all points to an imminent departure, which would make Voyager the first man-made object to cross into the space between the stars.

“It’s hard to imagine there’s another layer between the one we’re in and the outside,” Dr Stone told BBC News. “Topologically, it makes sense that this is the outermost layer. The only question is: how thick is it?”

Launched way back in 1977, the probe has now travelled so far from home that its constant chatter of data takes 17 hours to arrive at the US space agency’s receiving network. And chatter, it does.

Voyager’s instruments are busy sampling the far-flung environment. This has allowed Dr Stone and colleagues to map the shape and reach of the heliosphere – the giant bubble of charged particles blown off from our Sun.

For the complete article, click here  Image courtesy of the BBC and SPL.

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Don’t miss the alignment of Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury at sunset on May 26th Tue, 21 May 2013 15:23:06 +0000 planet-alignment-jupiter-mercury-venusHere’s something fun (and educational for the kids) on this upcoming Sunday, the 26th:  Look to the west in the evening twilight after sunset and you’ll see the triple conjunction of three planets:  Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury.  You’ll need an unobstructed view of the western sky, as the planets will be just above the horizon.  Click here for an excellent article and animation from NASA Science News.  Image courtesy of NASA.

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NEW PHILIPS 60-Watt-Equivalent LED Bulb. A bargain at its new price point! Read my review here… Sun, 17 Mar 2013 23:46:52 +0000 PHILIPS_new_60w_equivalent_LED-bulbOver the last week, I have been testing the very latest PHILIPS 60-Watt-Equivalent LED bulb.  It’s fantastic.   It looks great.  The light is excellent.  It uses just 11 watts.  And it delivers 830 lumens — 30 more lumens than my previously reviewed PHILIPS LED bulb and EcoSmart LED bulb.  And, unlike the prior PHILIPS bulb, this one is dimmable!  The light is a very pleasing white, 2700 Kelvin (“K”).  Life expectancy, based on three hours per day, is an amazing 22.8 years.   According to recent reports, the bulb is 17% more efficient than its previous generation and uses 12% less power.  The icing on the cake:  Home Depot recently dropped the price ten bucks — from $24.95 to $14.95.  At this new price point, this is a superb bulb.   In fact, it may have just become my favorite LED bulb in the 60-watt-equivalent LED category.

Below is a picture of the new bulb in its well-designed packaging…PHILIPS_new_60w_equivalent_LED-bulb_in_packaging

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PHILIPS 60-Watt Equivalent LED Bulb vs. EcoSmart 60-Watt Equivalent LED Bulb. Read my product review and comparison here… Sun, 17 Mar 2013 22:04:46 +0000 EcoSmart_LED_bub_vs_PHILIPS_LED_bulbsAs part of my ongoing LED light bulb reviews, the following is my real-world testing of the PHILIPS 10.5-watt (60-watt-equivalent) LED bulb.   As my regular readers know, I have really liked the EcoSmart 60-watt LED.  (Click here for my review of the EcoSmart LED.)   I’ve recently been trying out the PHILIPS 60-watt-equivalent LED bulb.  The PHILIPS bulb delivers the same number of lumens — 800 lumens — with 10.5 watts.  The EcoSmart consumes 13 watts.  So the PHILIPS saves an extra 2.5 watts.  The light “appearance” are both 3000 Kelvin (“K”), which is a pleasant bright white. Cosmetically, the PHILIPS bulb is even closer in design to an old-style Edison bulb — rounded top with no side heat-sink flanges.   And the price per bulb is about the same.  Home Depot carries both bulbs, and they regularly run special-pricing between $9.95 and $14 per bulb.   HOWEVER, the PHILIPS does not work with dimmers.   Also, the PHILIPS bulb is not recommended for use in recessed down-lights.   Bottom line:  The light (color and brightness) from both LED bulbs is about the same.  The PHILIPS bulb saves a little more power — but is a little less versatile.   Both are high-quality bulbs that should serve you well.


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EcoSmart 60-Watt Equivalent LED Bulb — read my product review here Sun, 17 Mar 2013 01:07:16 +0000 EcoSmart 60-watt equivalent LED bulbAs part of my ongoing LED light bulb reviews, the following is my real-world testing of the EcoSmart 13-watt (60-watt-equivalent) LED bulb.  In case you haven’t noticed, traditional 100w & 75w incandescent bulbs have been phased out (all manufacturing in the U.S. has ceased). Why? Because although America has just 5% of the world’s population, we use 26% of the world’s energy. And lighting is a major culprit. I have been testing all sorts of replacement bulbs — so you don’t have to. Skip the compact fluorescents and head straight to the new generation of LEDs. They’re “instant on,” dimmable (most of them), and light a room just as good — or even better — than traditional bulbs.  The best bulb I’ve found so far is the “EcoSmart” 60-watt-equivalent “bright white” LED. Although packaged as a 60-watt replacement, it has nearly the same number of “lumens” (amount of visible light) as a 75-watt incandescent. It will last 25x longer than an incandescent bulb — up to 23 years! And only uses 13 watts of power. The color of the light is pleasing, too — a very natural, bright white. Bottom line: It will save you up to $161 vs. a regular 75-watt bulb. And it will keep working for a quarter century. It’s $9.95 at Home Depot — a great deal. I’ve included a photo so you can spot it quickly in the aisle. Suggestion: Buy one and try it. I bet you’ll like it! Let me know…

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Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Fires First Salvo at iPhone Dominance Fri, 15 Mar 2013 12:23:11 +0000 (Bloomberg)  Samsung Electronics Co. fired the first of three smartphone salvos this year aimed at hurting Apple Inc in its home market, releasing a bigger and faster Galaxy S4 that reviewers said may only glance its target.  The device announced yesterday at New York’s Radio City Music Hall is lighter than predecessor S3 and has software to track movement of the eyes and waves of the hands. The Galaxy S4 will be able to take photos in two directions, monitor sleeping habits and translate commands into different languages as the South Korean company tries to lure customers in a slowing global smartphone market.  The handset, with a 5-inch screen and 13-megapixel camera, goes on sale in the U.S. on April 26 with carriers including AT&T Inc (T)., Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA Inc. The Galaxy S4 is among three high-end smartphones Samsung is releasing this year after being overtaken in the U.S. by the iPhone 5 in the fourth quarter.  For the complete article, click here.   Image courtesy of Bloomberg

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Life on Mars? Curiosity proves Mars had the formula for life Wed, 13 Mar 2013 01:20:37 +0000 (LA Times)  “Drilling into the Martian surface in search of signs of ancient life, the Mars Curiosity rover hit the jackpot, NASA said Tuesday.  The intrepid geologist on wheels analyzed a powdered sample pulled out of the Red Planet last month and  discovered some of the basic building blocks of life — and signs of a past environment capable of hosting primitive microbes.  ‘We have found a habitable environment that is so benign and is so supportive of life that probably if this water was around and you had been on the planet, you would have been able to drink it,’ mission lead scientist John Grotzinger, a Caltech geologist, said at a news conference in Washington, D.C.”   For the complete article, click here.   Image courtesy of NASA

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Scientific study: Dolphins call each other by name Sat, 09 Mar 2013 14:28:29 +0000 (Discovery) “Bottlenose dolphins call out the specific names of loved ones when they become separated, a study finds.  Other than humans, the dolphins are the only animals known to do this, according to the study, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The big difference with bottlenose dolphins is that these communications consist of whistles, not words.  Earlier research found that bottlenose dolphins name themselves, with dolphins having a “signature whistle” that encodes other information. It would be somewhat like a human shouting, ‘Hey everybody! I’m an adult healthy male named George, and I mean you no harm!’  The new finding is that bottlenose dolphins also say the names of certain other dolphins.”  For the complete article, click here.   Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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TECH BREAKTHROUGH: High-tech marriage combines 3-D printers with 3-D scanners — lets anyone print in 3-D without design software Sat, 09 Mar 2013 03:33:35 +0000 (CNN)  “MakerBot [has] unveiled a desktop device that can scan small three-dimensional objects. Called a MakerBot Digitizer, it’s meant to complement the company’s Replicator printer by letting customers scan objects, then feed the resulting digital files to the Replicator to be printed. The Digitizer uses two lasers and a webcam to scan objects up to about 8 inches in diameter…. The process takes less than three minutes.  Once the digital scan is completed, an object can be printed right away. It’s easier and faster than using software to design a digital printing model from scratch.”  For the complete report, visit this linkImage courtesy MakerBot

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The Journal of the American Medical Association publishes scientific gun study: “Firearm Legislation and Firearm-Related Fatalities in the United States.” SUMMARY: The higher the number of firearm laws in a state, the lower the rate of firearm fatalities in the state. Fri, 08 Mar 2013 01:47:34 +0000 Results:  Over the 4-year study period, there were 121,084 firearm fatalities. The average state-based firearm fatality rates varied from a high of 17.9 (Louisiana) to a low of 2.9 (Hawaii) per 100,000 individuals per year. Annual firearm legislative strength scores ranged from 0 (Utah) to 24 (Massachusetts) of 28 possible points. States in the highest quartile of legislative strength (scores of >9) had a lower overall firearm fatality rate than those in the lowest quartile (scores of <2) (absolute rate difference, 6.64 deaths/100,000/y; age-adjusted incident rate ratio [IRR], 0.58; 95% CI, 0.37-0.92). Compared with the quartile of states with the fewest laws, the quartile with the most laws had a lower firearm suicide rate (absolute rate difference, 6.25 deaths/100,000/y; IRR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.48-0.83) and a lower firearm homicide rate (absolute rate difference, 0.40 deaths/100,000/y; IRR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.38-0.95).

Conclusions and Relevance:  A higher number of firearm laws in a state are associated with a lower rate of firearm fatalities in the state, overall and for suicides and homicides individually. As our study could not determine cause-and-effect relationships, further studies are necessary to define the nature of this association.

Full report:

Eric W. Fleegler, MD, MPH; Lois K. Lee, MD, MPH; Michael C. Monuteaux, ScD; David Hemenway, PhD; Rebekah Mannix, MD, MPH

JAMA Intern Med. 2013;():1-9. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.1286.

Published online March 6, 2013

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Curiosity rover uses robotic arm to drill into Martian rock [DVICE] Sun, 10 Feb 2013 13:11:01 +0000

[DVICE]  NASA reports the Curiosity rover has successfully drilled a hole, 0.63 inches wide and 2.5 inches deep into a sample of sedimentary bedrock. Ground control will now use the rover’s robotic arm to collect samples for processing in its self contained laboratory, looking for evidence Mars may have once harbored water.  The agency released a photo of the hole captured by Curiosity, and in a press release NASA’s associate administrator for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate, John Grunsfeld said, “The most advanced planetary robot ever designed is now a fully operating analytical laboratory on Mars.”

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Google Glasses to be released soon; more details unveiled Sun, 03 Feb 2013 04:43:59 +0000 google glasses augmented reality vision brain memoryAccording to  “The Google Glass Explorer Edition has successfully passed through the FCC, revealing more details about the device and increasing the possibility that it will soon be in the hands of the limited number of folks who dropped $1,500 for it. The fancy, futuristic eyewear was announced and demonstrated during the Google I/O even in 2012, and attendees were given the chance to reserve a unit for themselves. ”  For the complete article, click here.

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So, what would you lose by switching to BlackBerry 10 from Apple, Android, and Windows phones? [InformationWeek] Sun, 03 Feb 2013 00:43:46 +0000

 BlackBerry 10: Visual Tour Of Smartphones, OSThe BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 won’t reach store shelves in the U.S. until March or April. That leaves plenty of time to weigh the pros and cons of the smartphone platform before taking that crucial leap to adopt it. Here’s a look at some of the strengths and weaknesses of the new platform from the company formerly known as RIM, as compared to rival operating systems from Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

If you’re coming from Android, you’re going to lose device choice. True, the Z10 and Q10 offer a small selection, but Android wins hands-down when it comes to the variety of form factors. Android devices are big and small, cheap and expensive, rugged and high class. You’re going to lose access to apps.

You’re also going to lose access to Google’s services. Yes, BB10 supports Gmail and Google Contacts and Calendar, but that’s it. No Google+, no Google Maps, no Google Drive, no Google Docs, no Google Voice, no Google Search / Google Now. Some Google services, such as Talk and YouTube, have been ported thanks to BlackBerry, but the vast majority aren’t there. If your business has “gone Google,” switching to BB10 simply doesn’t make sense.

If you’re coming from iOS, you’re losing access to 800,000 apps. BlackBerry World has about 70,000, many of which are ported Android apps. The selection just isn’t there, yet. You’re also losing access to many of the same Google services that are available to Android. You’re losing access to an incredible array of accessories. Devices such as the iPhone have more accessories available than any other device on the market. Being so new, BB10 does not yet have such accessories, and there’s no telling if, or when, it will catch up.

If you’re coming from Windows Phone, you’ll lose some device choice and access to apps, too. Windows Phone 8, which launched during the fourth quarter of 2012, is available from many U.S. carriers in a wide variety of devices, colors and price points. You’ll lose tight integration with other Windows equipment and services, including XBox gaming. The app story isn’t as severe as it is with Apple and Google, but there are plenty of marquee apps missing from BlackBerry World that are available in the Windows Phone Store (Amazon, CNN and eBay, to name a few).

For the full article, click here.

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Sea Launch Zenit rocket with Intelsat spacecraft fails at launch [BBC News] Sat, 02 Feb 2013 22:06:50 +0000 Sea Launch failureA Ukrainian-Russian rocket carrying a US-made telecommunications satellite has plunged into the Pacific Ocean shortly after launch.

The Zenit-3SL rocket, which was being operated from a floating pad south of the Hawaiian islands, failed 40 seconds after the lift-off at 06:56 GMT.

Officials say no-one was hurt as a result of the incident.

Intelsat-27, which weighed some 6.2 tonnes at launch, was to have provided direct-to-home TV services and mobile broadband connections.

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Newly spotted comet may outshine the full moon — New Scientist Wed, 26 Sep 2012 15:43:04 +0000 Newly spotted comet may outshine the full moonToday, the newfound comet seen [in the accompanying photo] is just a tiny dot in the sky beyond Jupiter. But in about a year, it might be one of the brightest objects in our night sky.

Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok, of the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON) in Russia, discovered comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) on 21 September via images taken with a 40-centimetre reflecting telescope. Other sky-watchers soon spotted it, and the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, announced the find yesterday.

From the combined observations, astronomers were able to trace the comet’s recent path and find images of it dating back to late December 2011. From there they calculated a near-parabolic orbit that has comet ISON headed almost straight towards the sun.

Astronomers at the Remanzacco Observatory in Italy think that ISON will skim less than 1.4 million kilometres from the sun’s surface on 28 or 29 November.

The comet’s orbit also suggests it is a newcomer fresh from the Oort cloud, a distant halo of icy objects that surrounds the solar system. We last had a visitor direct from the cloud in 2009, when the green comet Lulin swooped in and sprouted two tails.

As with Lulin, the intense heat of ISON’s solar fly-by should vaporise the comet’s hard shell of pristine ices, releasing trapped dust that would help it grow an exceptionally bright tail. Astronomy Now magazine reports that comet ISON could even be brighter than the full moon around its closest approach to the sun.

Skirting our star means that, to viewers on Earth, the comet will appear close to the horizon and to the sun’s glare, making it difficult to see at first. ISON will fade but become easier to spot as it heads back towards the outer solar system. By 9 December it should be about as bright as Polaris, the North Star, according to Remanzacco Observatory astronomers. ISON should continue to be visible to the unaided eye until mid-January 2014.

But veteran astronomers warn that fresh comets with orbits that almost skim the sun are notoriously unpredictable. Results can range from the spectacular comet McNaught of January 2007 to the infamously fizzled comet Kohoutek of 1973.

via Short Sharp Science: Newly spotted comet may outshine the full moon.

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Spheres spark new Martian mystery – Cosmic Log Sat, 15 Sep 2012 03:17:23 +0000 Eight years ago, NASA’s Opportunity rover came across strange-looking spheres that were nicknamed Martian blueberries — and now the rover has sent back a picture showing a different flavor of Marsberry that has the experts scratching their heads.

“This is one of the most extraordinary pictures from the whole mission,” Cornell astronomer Steve Squyres, the rover mission’s principal investigator, said today in a news release.

The golf-cart-sized Opportunity rover used the microscopic imager on the end of its robotic arm to take a super-close look at the spherical shapes. These particular berries, measuring as much as one-eighth of an inch (3 millimeters) in diameter, cover an outcrop called Kirkwood in the Cape York segment of Endeavour Crater’s western rim.

“Kirkwood is chock full of a dense accumulation of these small spherical objects,” Squyres said. “Of course, we immediately thought of the blueberries, but this is something different. We never have seen such a dense accumulation of spherules in a rock outcrop on Mars.”

via Spheres spark new Martian mystery – Cosmic Log.

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Steve Case: Entrepreneurs are American heroes | VentureBeat Fri, 14 Sep 2012 22:45:26 +0000 Steve Case: Entrepreneurs are American heroes | VentureBeatSteve Case, founder of AOL, venture capitalist, and current chairman of Startup America Partnership, says entrepreneurs are the true American heroes.

“Entrepreneurship is how America became great,” Case said.  “The good news is that we’re still the most entrepreneurial nation in the world. The bad news is that all the other countries are trying to catch us.”

Case was speaking in Detroit at Techonomy on Entrepreneurship and American Relevance.There are two types of founders, Case said:  those who create an interesting product or service but have modest ambitions…and those who are trying to change the world, who are swinging for the fences.

Those who are swinging for the fences are continuing the grand American tradition of entrepreneurship, he suggested, continuing the legacy of legendary Detroit founders and leaders such as Henry Ford.

Case sees what’s happening now as the next revolution in technology. After the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution, and the initial stages of the digital revolution, we’re now seeing perhaps the most important part of the digital revolution: the impact of digital technology on all aspects of the economy.

Even heroes, of course, need loyal sidekicks. That’s why Case accepted the role of chairman of the Startup America Partnership, which is focused on building up all the regions of the U.S.

Not just social media companies — not just Facebooks and Instagrams — but also companies that use technology intelligently in transportation, in manufacturing, in all aspects of the economy.

“In some ways, every company is now a technology company,” Case said. The most important thing for entrepreneurial heroes, according to Case?“They really have to have passion.”

Image credits: Blastr, John Koetsier

via Steve Case: Entrepreneurs are American heroes | VentureBeat.

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Arctic ice melt ‘like adding 20 years of CO2 emissions’ Sun, 09 Sep 2012 03:46:32 +0000 The loss of Arctic ice is massively compounding the effects of greenhouse gas emissions, ice scientist Professor Peter Wadhams has told BBC Newsnight. White ice reflects more sunlight than open water, acting like a parasol. Melting of white Arctic ice, currently at its lowest level in recent history, is causing more absorption. Prof Wadhams calculates this absorption of the sun’s rays is having an effect “the equivalent of about 20 years of additional CO2 being added by man”.

The Cambridge University expert says that the Arctic ice cap is “heading for oblivion”.

In 1980, the Arctic ice in summer made up some 2% of the Earth’s surface. But since then the ice has roughly halved in area. “Thirty years ago there was typically about eight million square kilometres of ice left in the Arctic in the summer, and by 2007 that had halved, it had gone down to about four million, and this year it has gone down below that,” Prof Wadhams said.

And the volume of ice has dropped, with the ice getting thinner: “The volume of ice in the summer is only a quarter of what it was 30 years ago and that’s really the prelude to this final collapse,” Prof Wadhams said. Parts of the Arctic Ocean are now as warm in summer as the North Sea is in winter, Prof Wadhams said.

The polar ice cap acts as a giant parasol, reflecting sunlight back into the atmosphere in what is known as the albedo effect. But white ice and snow reflect far more of the sun’s energy than the open water that is replacing it as the ice melts. Instead of being reflected away from the Earth, this energy is absorbed, and contributes to warming: “Over that 1% of the Earth’s surface you are replacing a bright surface which reflects nearly all of the radiation falling on it with a dark surface which absorbs nearly all. “The difference, the extra radiation that’s absorbed is, from our calculations, the equivalent of about 20 years of additional CO2 being added by man,” Prof Wadhams said. If his calculations are correct then that means that over recent decades the melting of the Arctic ice cap has put as much heat into the system as all the CO2 we have generated in that time. And if the ice continues to decline at the current rate it could play an even bigger role than greenhouse gases.

via BBC News – Arctic ice melt ‘like adding 20 years of CO2 emissions’.

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With the rise of texting and chat apps, voice-mail use is waning. – Tue, 04 Sep 2012 20:01:22 +0000 In data prepared for USA TODAY, Vonage, an Internet phone company, says the number of voice-mail messages left on user accounts was down 8% in July from a year ago.

Checking one’s voice mail seems to be considered an even a bigger chore than leaving a voice message. Retrieved voice mail fell 14% among Vonage users in the same period.

“They hate the whole voice-mail introduction, prompts, having to listen to them in chronological order,” says Michael Tempora, senior vice president of product management at Vonage. One response by the company to the trend is a new voice-mail transcription service that converts voice messages for delivery as e-mail or text.

The service also e-mails a direct link to the voice-mail audio file, letting users bypass several steps to listen to it. “Voice transcription isn’t perfect,” Tempora says. “But they understand who called and what the message is about.”

The transcription tools make skimming through messages easier for on-the-go users such as Dmitri Leonov, an executive at SaneBox, a maker of e-mail inbox management software. “E-mail (etiquette) says to respect your friends’ time,” says Leonov, who rarely listens to messages. “And I should stop leaving voice mail, as well. Practice what you preach.”

via With the rise of texting and chat apps, voice-mail use is waning. –

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35 years after launch, Voyager 1 is heading for the stars Tue, 04 Sep 2012 12:54:25 +0000 35 years later, Voyager 1 is heading for the stars - BusinessweekPASADENA, Calif. AP — Thirty-five years after leaving Earth, Voyager 1 is reaching for the stars. Sooner or later, the workhorse spacecraft will bid adieu to the solar system and enter a new realm of space — the first time a manmade object will have escaped to the other side.

When NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 first rocketed out of Earth’s grip in 1977, no one knew how long they would live. Now, they are the longest-operating spacecraft in history and the most distant, at billions of miles from Earth but in different directions.

They’re still ticking despite being relics of the early Space Age. Each only has 68 kilobytes of computer memory. To put that in perspective, the smallest iPod — an 8-gigabyte iPod Nano — is 100,000 times more powerful. Each also has an eight-track tape recorder. Today’s spacecraft use digital memory.

Wednesday marks the 35th anniversary of Voyager 1’s launch to Jupiter and Saturn. It is now flitting around the fringes of the solar system, which is enveloped in a giant plasma bubble. This hot and turbulent area is created by a stream of charged particles from the sun.Outside the bubble is a new frontier in the Milky Way — the space between stars. Once it plows through, scientists expect a calmer environment by comparison.

When that would happen is anyone’s guess. Voyager 1 is in uncharted celestial territory. One thing is clear: The boundary that separates the solar system and interstellar space is near, but it could take days, months or years to cross that milestone.Voyager 1 is currently more than 11 billion miles from the sun. Twin Voyager 2, which celebrated its launch anniversary two weeks ago, trails behind at 9 billion miles from the sun.

via 35 years later, Voyager 1 is heading for the stars – Businessweek.

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Curiosity rover’s intriguing geological find on Mars (BBC) Tue, 28 Aug 2012 12:23:04 +0000 The Mars rover Curiosity is indulging in a flurry of multimedia activity ahead of its science mission proper.It sent the first image from its 100mm telephoto lens, already spotting an intriguing geological “unconformity”.Nasa also released a colour panorama of Mount Sharp, the rover’s ultimate goal.On Monday, the rover relayed “the first voice recording to be sent from another planet”, and on Tuesday it will broadcast a song from artist as part of an educational event.But alongside these show pieces, Curiosity – also known as the Mars Science Laboratory – is already warming up its instruments for a science mission of unprecedented scope on the Red Planet.Nasa said that the rover was already returning more data from Mars than all of the agency’s earlier rovers combined.

via BBC News – Curiosity rover’s intriguing geological find.

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Protect Your Dropbox Data with Two-Factor Authentication | PCWorld Mon, 27 Aug 2012 17:50:07 +0000 Dropbox is rolling out stronger security to protect data stored in the cloud. Following in Google’s footsteps, Dropbox is enhancing account security with optional two-factor authentication.

Dropbox is a popular cloud storage service used by millions of users. Dropbox has had some issues regarding data security, though, and passwords alone have also proven to be an Achilles heel when it comes to protecting online data.

Phishing attacks and many malware variants are designed to trick users into sharing sensitive information like passwords, or surreptitiously capturing them without the user’s knowledge. You should have a cross-device security platform in place to detect and block such attacks, but two-factor authentication provides even stronger security that can be so easily compromised.

via Protect Your Dropbox Data with Two-Factor Authentication | PCWorld.

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As commercial space race intensifies SpaceX, Virgin find they have company | Ars Technica Sun, 26 Aug 2012 01:00:07 +0000 While Earthdwellers cast their eyes to Mars this week and waited for news from NASA’s Curiosity, lots of action took place closer to home, where the commercial space market has seen progress from every direction. We’ve rounded up a short summary of what happened back on the home planet.

Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spacecraft team held its Program Implementation Plan Review in Colorado this week, the first milestone in its CCiCap list.

SpaceX completed its COTS (Commercial Orbital Transport Services) agreement this week with a certification from NASA, clearing the way for SPX-1, its first standard cargo flight to the International Space Station.

Orbital Sciences was also slated to fly its Antares rocket for the first time in early October, but there’s no word yet on whether the traffic jam that’s holding up SpaceX will bump them again. Antares is Orbital’s COTS vehicle and a competitor of SpaceX’s Falcon. It has been delayed several times due to launchpad construction at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) on Wallops Island, Virginia.

XCOR Aerospace announced this week that they’ll build a new spacecraft factory in Brevard County, Florida, to build its Lynx 2-person suborbital spacecraft. Lynx takes off and lands horizontally and requires a runway, which in Florida means the Shuttle’s landing strip at Kennedy Space Center.

via As commercial space race intensifies SpaceX, Virgin find they have company | Ars Technica.

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Wow! Watch Mars rover Curiosity land in amazing high-definition video. Includes audio from Mission Control. Fri, 24 Aug 2012 13:34:42 +0000

This movie from NASA’s Curiosity rover shows most of the high-resolution frames acquired by the Mars Descent Imager between the jettison of the heat shield and touchdown. The video, obtained on Aug. 5 PDT Aug. 6 EDT, covers the last two-and-a-half minutes before touchdown in Gale Crater. Audio recorded from mission control can be heard, counting down the critical events.

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Astronomers spot humongous star devouring planet (+video) Wed, 22 Aug 2012 01:29:42 +0000 Astronomers have spotted a red giant star, some 11 times the mass of our own sun, swallowing up a planet. A similar fate awaits Earth, about five billion years from now.

via Astronomers spot humongous star devouring planet (+video) –

]]> 0 NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity gears up for test drive Wed, 22 Aug 2012 01:18:46 +0000 The next step in NASA’s exploration of Mars is the test drive of its rover, Curiosity, on Wednesday. Curiosity’s mission on Mars is to search for signs of life. The rover’s broken wind sensor may make its exploration more challenging.

via NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity gears up for test drive –


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NASA to launch another Mars exploration flight Tue, 21 Aug 2012 02:31:02 +0000 After driving all around Mars with four rovers, NASA wants to look deep into the guts of the red planet.The space agency decided Monday to launch a relatively low-cost robotic lander in 2016 to check out what makes the Martian core so different from Earth’s.

via NASA to launch another Mars exploration flight | Fox News.

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A penny-sized rocket thruster invented at MIT | DVICE Sun, 19 Aug 2012 23:54:25 +0000 A penny-sized rocket thruster invented at MIT | DVICE

Satellites, like the people who make them, come in all shapes and sizes. Their parts do as well. And while some thrusters are large and impressive, some satellites need smaller ones. So Paulo Lozano at MIT decided to build a rocket thruster the size of a penny.

The thruster, which looks like anything but, is similar in shape and size to a computer chip. It’s “covered with 500 microscopic tips that, when stimulated with voltage, emit tiny beams of ions. Together, the array of spiky tips creates a small puff of charged particles that can help propel a shoebox-sized satellite forward,” according to Lozano.

The size allows for several thrusters to be put on a single satellite, which could allow it to change orbit and even roll. Though it may not sound it, this is exciting in the world of satellites. Nanosatellites have had trouble with traditional propulsion systems, which allow little space on the them for electronics and communications equipment.

But the microthruster barely adds any weight, allowing for fully-loaded nanosatellites to not only be launched into orbit but to be able to navigate once there.

On Earth, these thrusters are essentially useless. But zero-gravity space presents a very different story. And with the size and flexibility of these thrusters, this could open a new range of possibilities for satellite technology.

via A penny-sized rocket thruster invented at MIT | DVICE.


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Brazilian construction worker survives 6-foot metal bar through skull Sat, 18 Aug 2012 22:09:20 +0000 (AP) RIO DE JANEIRO – Doctors say a 24-year-old construction worker survived after a 6-foot metal bar fell from above and pierced his skull.  Luiz Alexandre Essinger, chief of staff at Rio de Janeiro’s Miguel Couto Hospital, said doctors successfully withdrew the iron bar from Eduardo Leite’s skull during a five-hour surgery.  “He was taken to the operating room, his skull was opened, they examined the brain and the surgeon decided to pull the metal bar out from the front in the same direction it entered the brain.” Essinger said.

via Brazilian construction worker survives 6-foot metal bar through skull – HealthPop – CBS News.

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McLaren lets you design your own supercar Sat, 18 Aug 2012 21:24:56 +0000 In a world where exclusive cars often aren’t exclusive enough, McLaren is offering customers a chance to put their own custom-designed body on a MP4-12C supercar carbon-fiber chassis.

via McLaren lets you design your own supercar.

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Mars Rock-Zapping Laser Explained | PCWorld Sat, 18 Aug 2012 15:53:09 +0000 A rock-zapping laser and telescopic combination called ChemCam is getting a lot of attention with NASA’s rover Curiosity landing on Mars.

But what is it?

Here’s an explainer, as well as more details about the mission.

ChemCam can look at rocks and soils from a distance, fire a laser to vaporize the materials and analyze them with an on-board spectrograph that measures the composition of the resulting plasma. NASA says ChemCam can also use the laser to do less destructive things, such as clear away dust from Martian rocks as well as use a remote camera to acquire extremely detailed images.

Roger Wiens, ChemCam principal investigator at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, gave a tutorial on how the instrument works at a recent news conference.

“Curiosity’s remote sensing instrument [is] designed to make a large number of rapid measurements in some sense to help guide the rover to the most interesting samples,” he said.

He also talked about ChemCam’s imaging capability and said in routine operation the team plans to take images either before or after the laser operation or both, but not during the laser operation.

“The camera is very high resolution. It’s sensitive enough to image a human hair quite easily by 7 feet away,” he said.

After nearly two weeks on the dusty red planet, Curiosity is doing warm-up exercises and getting ready to take off for its first drilling for a rock sample — to a place 1,300 feet away scientists have named Glenelg, a spot where three kinds of terrain intersect.

In the next few days, the one-ton, six-wheeled mobile Mars laboratory will exercise each of its four steerable wheels, turning each of them side-to-side before ending up with each wheel pointing straight ahead. Curiosity will continue warming up by driving forward about 10 feet, turning 90 degrees and then reversing about 7 feet.

Tonight the rover will zap its first rock — one which scientists have dubbed “Rock N165,” a three-inch wide Mars rock that sits about 10 feet away from Curiosity.

“It is not only going to be an excellent test of our system, it should be pretty cool too,” Wiens said.

via Mars Rock-Zapping Laser Explained | PCWorld.

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BBC Nature – Sharks tracked by surfing robot and free app Sat, 18 Aug 2012 15:01:27 +0000 BBC Nature – Sharks tracked by surfing robot and free app.

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SEVEN MINUTES OF TERROR — that’s how NASA describes the audacious landing maneuver of the Mars rover set to land on Aug. 5th Sun, 15 Jul 2012 20:56:39 +0000 In the most complex rocket-landing ever attempted, NASA will literally drop its latest Mar rover onto the Mars surface by a crane from a hovering mother ship. Really!

A year ago (July 12, 2011), I gave you a heads up on NASA’s marvel of planetary-exploration technology in my blog post:  “Take a peek at NASA’s next Mars rover. It’s the size of a Mini Cooper!

Well, the rover’s 354-million-mile, eight-and-half-month journey is just about over.   “Curiosity” — the nickname for this out-of-this-world vehicle — is poised to land on the Red Planet.

Check out a superb article by UK’s DailyMail — with photos, illustrations, and spine-tingling landing animation — here:

Get ready for a wild ride on August 5th.  Buckle up!

Illustration courtesy of NASA

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De-mystifying the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”). A wonderful summary of benefits, requirements, and nuances. A “must read” for those who want to know the facts about the health care law. Sun, 01 Jul 2012 19:26:55 +0000 The non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation has prepared a superb summary of the Affordable Care Act.  No hype.  No political spin.  No mis-information.

Read about:   The individual mandate.  Employer requirements.  Prevention and wellness programs.  How public programs are expanded.  Premiums.  Cost-sharing subsidies.  Related tax changes.  Health insurance exchanges.  Impacts on private insurance.  State role.  Cost containment.  Improving quality and health care system performance.  Nutritional information required to be disclosed by restaurant chains.  Long-term care.  Coverage and financing.

Here’s the link to the KFF summary of health care reform as provided by the Affordable Care Act:

F.Y.I., regarding “coverage and financing,” the KFF summary reports:

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates the new health reform law will provide coverage to an additional 32 million when fully implemented in 2019 through a combination of the newly created Exchanges and the Medicaid expansion.

CBO estimates the cost of the coverage components of the new law to be $938 billion over ten years. These costs are financed through a combination of savings from Medicare and Medicaid and new taxes and fees, including an excise tax on high-cost insurance, which CBO estimates will raise $32 billion over ten years.  CBO also estimates that the health reform law will reduce the deficit by $124 billion over ten years.

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MEDICAL BREAKTHROUGH: Oncologists are calling TDM-1 a miracle drug for advanced breast cancer that’s HER2-positive. Mon, 04 Jun 2012 00:10:21 +0000 Medical professionals seldom use the world “miracle” with any treatment.  But those are precisely the words being used by the scientific community in regards to T-DM1, a new drug for women with Stage 3 or Stage 4 (metastatic) breast cancer. 

As reported in today’s MSN HEALTH: 

“This week there was big news for HER2-positive women: a dramatic announcement about T-DM1, an experimental drug that’s been in clinical trials since January. Known colloquially as ‘super Herceptin’ by the women taking it, T-DM1 is an unusual joint project between two companies, Genentech, which makes the targeted antibody trastuzumab (Herceptin), and ImmunoGen which contributed its cancer-killing agent DM1.

“Oncologists don’t like the term ‘miracle drug,’ and try not to use it — but the word miracle was in fact used when researchers presented results of a Phase II trial of T-DM1 at the Breast Cancer Symposium in San Antonio, Texas, last Tuesday.”

For the full article, visit this link:

Here’s another excellent article from ABC NEWS HEALTH:

Let’s all hope T-DM1 lives up to the promise seen in the clinical trials, to give women a powerful new weapon in the fight against this terrible disease.

Image courtesy ABC NEWS and Getty Images

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Pond scum the newest weapon against cancer Tue, 27 Mar 2012 00:18:56 +0000 The icky stuff you see floating on the top of stagnant water may become the latest weapon in spotting cancer cells circulating in a bloodstream.  That’s the bottom line from renowned scientist, Yoshinobu Baba, Ph.D. , and his research with the pond-scum microbe called Euglena.

According to an article from the American Chemical Society, “Baba’s team turned to Euglena in an effort to solve the medical problem of detecting the minute number of cancer cells that break off from the original, or primary, tumor site and travel through the bloodstream. Those cells, termed circulating tumor cells (CTCs), enable cancer to spread, or metastasize, and start growing at distant sites in the body. Metastasis is the main reason why cancer can be such a difficult disease to treat. Detecting those cells would raise a red flag so that doctors could treat or more intensively monitor patients.”

Baba’s novel technique uses Euglena to help detect those minute cancer cells.  It’s an ingenious combination of scientific brilliance and Mother Nature.

For the complete article, with the scientific premise behind the technique, visit the American Chemical Society’s Web site at this link:

Image courtesy of Yoshinobu Baba

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Lip-shaped urinals at Rolling Stones museum raising eyebrows Tue, 27 Mar 2012 00:06:23 +0000 Can’t get no satisfaction?  Women in the German town of Luchow are upset with design of the urinals in a men’s restroom at a Rolling Stones museum.  The urinals emulate the band’s famous red-lips logo.  But, to some, the lips look too feminine.  And that’s what has stirred the emotions.

According to Spiegel Online, Rolling Stones memorabilia collector, Ulli Schroder, opened the museum last October.  Regarding the controversy, Spiegel Online reported that Schroder was “defiant and unrepentant.”  He reportedly commented:  “That’s not a man’s mouth or a woman’s mouth, that’s art. They were damned expensive and they’re staying where they are and that’s final.”

The Stones-inspired urinals were designed by female Dutch artist, Meike van Schijndel.

For the complete news report, visit

Image courtesy Spiegel Online

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Solar storm could disrupt Summer Olympics (UPI) Sun, 25 Mar 2012 04:09:19 +0000 (UPI) — The Summer Olympics could be crippled by a solar storm far more potent than the one currently wearing away at Earth’s magnetic field, a British physicist said.

“We have the potential this year to see what planners call a Black Swan event — one that is unlikely but if it happens will have an extraordinary impact on our lives,” Alan Woodward, a physicist and computer scientist at England’s University of Surrey, told the British newspaper The Guardian.

Radiation from the superfast bombardment of highly charged clouds of solar energy would likely pose little or no health risk. But it could disable computers and other electronics critical to the Olympic Games, which take place in London July 27 through Aug. 12, Woodward said.

“As the 2012 Olympics approach, we have a convergence of an event that is the most connected, computer-intensive event ever with a record level of sunspot activity, which typically leads to solar flares,” he said.

Solar flares are colossal releases of energy rocketed out into space that have been measured to be the equivalent of as much as 160 billion megatons of TNT.

To read the complete article, visit

Image courtesy UPI

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Space junk forces astronauts into escape capsules on International Space Station (CNN) Sun, 25 Mar 2012 01:39:23 +0000 (CNN) — A piece of a debris from a Russian Cosmos satellite passed close enough to the International Space Station on Saturday that its crew was ordered into escape capsules as a precaution, NASA said.

The six crew members were told to take shelter late Friday in their Soyuz capsules after it was determined there was a small possibility the debris could hit the station, the U.S. space agency said in a statement.

“The Expedition 30 crew aboard the International Space Station received an ‘all clear’ to move out of their Soyuz vehicles after a small piece of a Russian Cosmos satellite debris passed by the complex without incident early Saturday,” the statement said.

“They began the process of moving out of the vehicles and back to their regular duties and a weekend off.”

It is the third time in the space station’s history that a crew has had to take shelter in escape capsules because of the possibility of being hit by orbital debris. The last time the crew took cover was in June 2011.

For the complete article, visit

Image courtesy CNN and NASA

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Daily dose of aspirin can cut cancer risk, say studies (The Guardian / UK) Thu, 22 Mar 2012 12:05:52 +0000 (The Guardian / UK)  “Taking a low dose [75-milligram] of aspirin each day may prevent cancer and stop it spreading, according to three papers to be published in leading medical journals on Wednesday. It could also possibly have a use as a treatment for the disease.

“Dr Peter Rothwell from Oxford University and the John Radcliffe hospital and colleagues, the authors of the studies in the Lancet and Lancet Oncology have previously shown that long-term daily aspirin, for 10 years or so, reduces the risk of colorectal (bowel) cancer and other common cancers, but some experts have voiced concerns over potential long-term side-effects, because aspirin can cause stomach bleeding.

“The new studies reinforce aspirin’s claim to be a weapon against cancer. They show that taking daily low-dose pills for just three years can reduce your risk of cancer by about a quarter — 23% for men and 25% for women. The risk of dying of cancer is cut by 15% — and by 37% for those who take aspirin for longer than five years.

“The second study found that aspirin helped prevent the spread of cancer — or metastasis — to other organs, which is a serious threat to the patient’s survival. Aspirin reduced the proportion of cancers that spread instead of staying localised by 48%.

“The drug also reduced the risk of being diagnosed with a solid cancer that had already spread by 31%. For patients initially diagnosed with a local cancer, the risk of later metastasis was reduced by 55%.”

For the complete article, visit

Image courtesy of Scot Frei / Corbis

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Holy hot wheels, Batman. REAL “Batmobile” for sale. Mon, 27 Feb 2012 22:55:25 +0000 Want to own the most outrageous ride on the planet?  How about your very own, officially licensed,1966 Batmobiile, complete with functional flamethrower exhaust and double-bubble windshields.

And it’s more than just show:   A 280 horsepower, 325 ft-lbs of torque, GM350 crate engine will zoom you out of your bat cave, 0 – 60 MPH, in five seconds.

What’s the price for the ultimate cool car?  $161,000.   For more information on this Gotham City masterpiece, check out

Image courtesy of Firebox



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“Top 10 Surprising Results of Global Warming” — intriguing article by Live Science Mon, 27 Feb 2012 03:23:00 +0000 We’ve all heard the typical predicted results of global warming — rising tides, shrinking shorelines, more intense weather, etc.  The editors of Live Science delved a little deeper and identified some surprising secondary results.

For instance, did you know that a number of mountain ranges (such as the Alps) have grown taller over the last century?  It’s true.  With the melting of glaciers that sit on top of some of the ranges, the compressive weight has been reduced, and the mountains have actually elevated to new heights.

Check out nine other unexpected results of global warming at

Alps photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / Blutgretchen

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iPhone 5 targeted for Fall 2012 Mon, 27 Feb 2012 01:19:45 +0000 The rumor mill is buzzing with the possibility of the iPhone 5 launching in September or October of this year.  As most of my readers know, I’m partial to the Android platform.  But the iPhone does have some intriguing features, including Siri.

If you’d like to get the latest scoop on the iPhone 5, check out the article at Touch Reviews here.

Image courtesy of Touch Reviews

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December 21, 2012? End of the world? Don’t pawn your jewelry just yet… Sun, 26 Feb 2012 04:28:01 +0000 Doomsday prognosticators are touting the impending apocalypse on December 21, 2012.  Most base their prophecies on the supposed “end” of the Mayan calendar.

NASA scientists reviewed the top five earth-destruction scenarios — including a collision with yet-to-be-discovered planet “Nibiru” and the sudden flipping of Earth’s magnetic poles — and have offered their opinions on each.  Check out

Photo courtesy of gilderm /

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10 great — but lesser-known — Android apps. Check ‘em out! Sat, 25 Feb 2012 23:36:57 +0000 InformationWeek wrote an excellent review of 10 lesser-known Android apps — like Glympse and Car Locator — that are both fun and helpful.   Check out the list of 10 great apps at   Enjoy!

Image courtesy of InformationWeek.



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Death of the Internet? Run-amok legislation could kill the Web. Mon, 02 Jan 2012 19:45:26 +0000 Washington legislators may have finally lost their minds. Two bills winding their way through Congress — the House’s “Stop Online Piracy Act” (aka, SOPA) and the Senate’s “Protect IP Act of 2011″ (aka, Protect IP) — could gut the very foundation of the Internet.

But don’t just take my word for it. The same conclusion is represented by three distinguished law professors from Stanford, Elon, and Temple universities in their jointly published essay, “Don’t Break the Internet.”

Here are a couple of snippets from the authors’ essay:

“The procedures outlined in both bills fail [a] fundamental constitutional test. Websites can be ‘completely removed from circulation’ — rendered unreachable by, and invisible to, Internet users in the United States and abroad — immediately upon application by the government, without any reasonable opportunity for the owner or operator of the website in question to be heard or to present evidence on his or her own behalf. This falls far short of what the Constitution requires before speech can be eliminated from public circulation.”

“As serious as these infirmities are, SOPA, the House’s bill, builds upon them, enlarges them, and makes them worse. Under SOPA, IP rights holders can proceed vigilante-style against allegedly offending sites, without any court hearing or any judicial intervention or oversight whatsoever.”

In the noise of all of the other political gyrations in Washington, legislation that could undermine the foundation of the Internet could squeak through. I urge you to review the entire legal analysis at this link.  If you’re equally concerned, you may want to consider contacting your Congressional representatives.

Image courtesy Stanford Law Review.

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TOTALLY BIZARRE: Transgender cosmetic surgeon injects client’s butt with cement, glue, mineral oil, and “Fix-A-Flat” tire mender. Then seals the incision with Super Glue! Sun, 01 Jan 2012 23:12:12 +0000 ABC News / Australian 9NEWS:   “A U.S. transgender woman has been charged with practising cosmetic surgery without a licence after she injected a patient’s buttocks with a cocktail of substances including cement and [tire] sealant, police say.

“Oneal Ron Morris, 30, was arrested last Friday for conducting a botched butt implant at a Miami home last May, ABC reports.  Police said Morris shot a mixture of cement, glue, mineral oil and ‘Fix-A-Flat’ [tire] mender into the woman’s buttocks and then sealed the amateur incision with super glue.

“Morris, who appears to have an ‘enhanced’ rear end herself from police photos, first met her victim to discuss the procedure in May 2010.  ‘They agreed on the price of $700 for the procedure, which was intended for cosmetic purposes,’ Sgt William Bamford told ABC.  But the patient soon complained of serious pains in her abdomen and throughout her body, and was hospitalized.”

For the complete head-shaking story, visit

Police photo of Oneal Ron Morris courtesy of ABC News / Australian 9NEWS

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West African berry causes beer to taste like sweet juice and lemons to taste like oranges. Spurs “flavor-tripping” parties. Sun, 01 Jan 2012 22:44:05 +0000 Discovery News:  “Pop the red, cranberry-sized miracle fruit in your mouth and chew it for a while, allowing its juices to coat your mouth. It doesn’t taste like much. But what follows ‘is just a miracle or a kind of magic’ according to Keiko Abe, of the University of Tokyo, as you sample other foods. ‘Beer tastes like sweet juice. Lemon tastes like sweet orange.’

“Sour foods are perceived as trippily sweet when tasted for up to an hour after consuming the berry. This effect has led curious folks in the U.S. and elsewhere to seek the miracle fruit for ‘flavor-tripping’ parties: pop the fruit with friends, then sample a smorgasbord of sour-leaning snacks: limes, goat cheese, beer, grapefruit, vinegar, pickles and more.

“‘To me it was very exhilarating. It really is a very joyous experience,’ said writer Adam Gollner of trying the fruit. Gollner is author of The Fruit Hunters, which includes a chapter on the miracle fruit. “It’s almost like this thing that you can’t understand that is happening to you. That sense of incomprehensibility is a great feeling.'”

For the complete Discovery News article, click here:

Image courtesy of Keiko Abe / Science

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Don’t buy a TV until you read this. New OLED technology to transform flat-panel TVs. Sun, 01 Jan 2012 22:04:28 +0000 Until now, your options for flat-panel TVs really boiled down to LCD, LED, or plasma.  But if you’re in the market for a large flat-panel TV, and you want to future-proof your selection, you may want to switch your sights to OLED — organic light-emitting diode technology.

OLEDs provide amazing clarity, contrast, and color saturation.  In the not-to-distant future, they’ll be the technology behind the paper-thin TVs you’ll be able to affix to your wall like wall paper.  In the meantime, manufacturers are ready to roll out more-traditional flat-screen TVs made of OLEDs — such as the stunning 55-inch TV by LG Electronics.

The soon-to-be-unveiled LG Electronics 55-inch OLED flat-screen TV is just 4mm thick  (just a little more than an eighth of an inch).  And the entire TV weighs just 16.5 pounds.

The LG Electronics 55-inch OLED TV is scheduled to be revealed at the International Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas on January 10th.  For more information, visit this link:

Image courtesy LG Electronics

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“Miracle” musical Christmas ornament plays for 23 straight years on same battery! Mon, 19 Dec 2011 14:07:36 +0000 My brother-in-law, Larry, gave my wife, Elsie, a musical Christmas ornament 23 years ago — when he was just 8 years old.  23 years later, the Christmas ornament still plays its song — Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer — with the ORIGINAL BATTERYIt would seem technically impossible.  But, for some unexplained reason, the ornament keeps working.

Not even today’s advanced lithium batteries would function for 23 years.  (Their shelf life is approx. 10 years.)  And back 23 years ago, the battery that was glued into the ornament was the cheapest possible — as the entire ornament only cost Larry a few dollars.  The battery should have lasted four or five years, at most.  But now we’re just two years short of a QUARTER CENTURY.

Would you like to see and hear the ornament for yourself?  Here’s a link to a YouTube video of Elsie and Larry playing the ornament on December 12, 2010.  And here’s a link to a YouTube video of Elsie, Larry, and other family members playing the ornament just a couple of days ago — on December 18, 2011.

You can also scroll down and click on the images below — to immediately play our 2010 and 2011 family YouTube videos.

None of my engineer buddies (in fact, no one who I’ve talked to) has been able to suggest a plausible reason why this ornament continues to play, year after year.  Hence it’s why our family has named it our “miracle Christmas ornament.”

Now, I’m not saying that this ornament is divinely powered.  For us, the phrase  is simply a fun way to talk about our annual family tradition regarding this amazing, never-quit, holiday gift.

How long will it keep going?  Will it make a full quarter of a century?  Impossible to predict.  We’re in uncharted territory.  I’ll keep you posted through the next couple of years.

Let me take this moment to wish a heartfelt “Happy Holidays” to all of my readers — of all faiths — around the globe.  Thank you for letting me be part of your world each week.

— Eric

From December 12, 2010:


From December 18, 2011:


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Raise up to $2 million for your business (BIG NEWS for entrepreneurs) Mon, 12 Dec 2011 23:55:44 +0000 How would you like to raise up to $2 million for your startup business?  And do it by letting investors “point-n-click” the cash your way via the Web?  It may soon be nearly that simple, thanks to the “Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act” (more commonly known as the “Crowdfunding Act”) that passed the House in an overwhelming (and bi-partisan!) 407 to 17 vote.  President Obama is another driving force behind the legislation, which is designed to dramatically streamline fund-raising for entrepreneurs.

After the bill passes the Senate (and all indications are that it will), and President Obama signs the legislation into law, entrepreneurs will be able to turn on a grassroots method to raise capital — equity sales online — with greatly reduced SEC restrictions.  The freer flow of money would be rocket fuel for startups, which are an essential engine for a robust economy and job creation.

“Crowdfunding” — a way for masses of people (“the crowd”) to feed ventures with capital via the Web — has blossomed in recent years thanks to sites like  But SEC “red tape” (primarily the Securities Act of 1933) has prohibited these sites from directly offering investment shares in the enterprises.  The new Crowdfunding Act will remove this barrier.  No longer will equity sales be restricted to accredited investors.  And the power of public-supported funding will be unleashed.

Entrepreneurial endeavors will be able to sell up to $2 million in ownership shares to an unlimited number of investors.  And individuals will be able to invest up to $10,000 or up to 10% of his or her annual income, whichever is less.

If a company seeks the maximum $2 million in funding, it must supply “the crowd” with audited financial statements.  A company can choose to bypass the audited-financial-statement requirement — but then the maximum capital it can raise is $1 million.  (That’s nothing to sneeze at!)

When the President signs the legislation into law, it will be a great day for all entrepreneurs.  Just as important for America, the ensuing new businesses will provide a shot of adrenaline for the economy and help rev up the job-creation engine.  Everyone will win.

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Perhaps the coolest gadget for anyone with an iPad Mon, 12 Dec 2011 02:28:01 +0000 I come across all sorts of gizmos and gadgets.  One that struck me as truly brilliant is the “iCADE” iPad arcade cabinet.  Just pop in an iPad and — presto! — you’ve transformed it into a classic arcade (see picture) capable of playing dozens of your Atari favorites, like Asteroids, Asteroids Deluxe, Centipede, Missile Command, Battlezone, Super Breakout, and (one of my personal favorites) Tempest.  (I spent way too many hours playing Tempest in the arcade at UConn.  But I digress…)

I found the iCADE on sale at ThinkGeek for $69.99 (about 30 bucks less than other online stores).  Here’s the link:

And, yes, I bought one.  Couldn’t resist.

NOTE:  To complete the iPad-to-iCADE metamorphosis, you’ll also need to download the games from the Apple App Store.  Some are free (like Missile Command), some are 99 cents, and you can download the full collection of 100 Atari games for $14.99.  Enjoy!

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The 50 funniest “autocorrect” text messages of 2011 Mon, 12 Dec 2011 01:03:57 +0000 Has your cell phone’s autocorrect feature ever made a really screwy suggestion for the word you intended to type?  Worse, have you accidentally sent the text with the nutty word, only to then have an OMG moment — wishing you could take it back?

The editors of “Damn You Auto Correct” have compiled what they believe are the 50 funniest messed-up text messages, as determined by Facebook shares, tweets, comments, and pageviews.  Check out the LOL selection of text messages here:

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Americans Elect: Fast ‘n’ loose with the facts. Healthy skepticism recommended. Fri, 09 Dec 2011 14:01:23 +0000 I’m following up on my earlier thoughts regarding Americans Elect.  On the November 25th “Hardball” with Chris Matthews (one of my favorite shows, btw), Americans Elect COO Elliot Ackerman had some revealing comments — a number of which were not factual.  For instance, Ackerman expressed that the donor list is “streaming live on our Web site.”  However, it is not.  He also said that Americans Elect is “not a political party.”  However, a little fact-checking reveals that Americans Elect is registered as a political party in a variety of states, including Florida, Colorado, and Arizona.

Because Americans Elect doesn’t have to reveal its donor list, that invites big money to sneak in the back door — along with wink-and-nod influence.  And the organization, itself, was kicked off with $1.55 million from Wall Street billionaire Peter Ackerman.  Yes, that’s the COO’s father.  So there’s a strange mix of things going on here.  The organization may very well have a significant impact on the 2012 election.  But will it be a healthy impact?  Stay tuned for further perspectives.

In the meantime, check out the Wikipedia information here:

And here’s a link to the above-referenced Hardball interview:

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Shirt-sleeve Earth-like planet discovered: Kepler-22b Tue, 06 Dec 2011 02:41:38 +0000 NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has discovered an Earth-like planet with balmy 70-degree temperatures: “Kepler-22b”.  The plant is 2.4 times the diameter of Earth, and orbits its sun in 290 days.

But we won’t be visiting anytime soon, as the planet is 600 light years away.  How far is 600 light years?  Well, consider that light travels 186,287 miles each second.  Now multiply 186,287 miles times the number of seconds in 600 years.  Whew!

Scientists have pointed the 42 dish antennas that comprise California’s Allen Telescope Array on Kepler-22b to see if it can detect any radio waves — to perhaps catch a Keplerian broadcast of “Dancing with the Stars” (sorry — couldn’t resist that).

Something to think about:  If scientists on Kepler-22b were scanning Earth for radio or TV broadcasts, they wouldn’t hear anything.  Radio waves travel at the speed of light.  So, they’d be examining Earth as it was 600 years ago — and radio was invented here less than 150 years ago.

For additional details about this planetary discovery, including a video of the mission managers discussing their find, check out the following article in the San Jose Mercury News:

Artist’s conception courtesy of NASA / Ames/ JPL-Caltech

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Carrier IQ: Your cell phone’s secret recording device (CNNMoney) Sat, 03 Dec 2011 21:33:19 +0000 “Carrier IQ is a piece of software installed on millions of mobile phones that logs everything their users do, from what websites they browse to what their text messages say.

“No, it’s not part of some great Orwellian plot; it’s a diagnostic tool that carriers say plays a crucial role in helping them assess and troubleshoot their networks. But the recording app, which flew under the radar for years until security researchers drew attention to it recently, is setting off red-alert privacy and security alarms.

“It’s also spotlighting how little customers — and, sometimes, the carriers and manufacturers themselves — know about what goes on under the hood of their data-stuffed mobile devices.”

For the full article, including a link to an insightful YouTube video, visit

Image courtesy John F. Coughlin / CNNMoney

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Political (and technology) prediction Tue, 29 Nov 2011 01:57:28 +0000 I’m not big on politics.  But I am on technology.  And I’ve spotted an emerging technology platform that has a legitimate potential to profoundly impact the U.S. presidential election less than a year from now.

It’s called Americans Elect  Its goal:  Allow the public to select its own President / Vice President candidate ticket — and put the pair on the election ballot in all 50 states.

What distinguishes this endeavor from a symbolic gesture is that Americans Elect is collecting signatures nationwide to place the selected candidates on the ballot in all 50 states.  So, in theory, the Americans Elect ticket could become President and Vice President of the United States.

As stated by Americans Elect“We’re using the Internet to break the gridlock in Washington, open up the political process and give every single voter — Democrat, Republican or independent — the power to nominate a presidential ticket in 2012. Your voice matters. You decide the issues. You choose the candidates. And in a secure, online convention next June, you will make history by putting the Americans Elect ticket on the ballot in every state.”

Could this actually happen?  Given the volatile political climate, and now the technology infrastructure, it’s not impossible.  Check out the Web site and keep an eye on things.  And if Americans Elect blossoms into a real political force, remember where you heard it first.

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Gadget Review: Cool, handy GPS — Bushnell’s BackTrack Point-5 Fri, 25 Nov 2011 22:24:58 +0000 I recently came across a Bushnell BackTrack Point-5 ultra-portable GPS at an L.L. Bean store.  It was on sale for $79.  I couldn’t resist finding out what such a low-priced GPS unit could do.  The unit also features a digital compass, altimeter, thermometer, and clock.

I was pleasantly surprised.  This little unit performed like a champ.   Within about 20 seconds of popping in two AAA batteries, the unit had already “locked” onto GPS satellites.  With a press of a button, the unit stored my location.  It gave me a choice of five location icons, as the device will allow up to five “waypoints” to be kept in memory.

My wife and I then went for a few-mile hike in an area with plenty  of hills, trees, and thick brush.   The  BackTrack Point-5 made our return trip simple.

With its small size and attached carabineer, you can just clip it onto your belt or backpack — and off you go.  For easy hikes, it may be all you need.  For more complex journeys, it would make a great backup.

If you’re looking for a “stocking stuffer” for the person who appreciates  unique gadgets, this should certainly be a pleaser.

HEAD’S UP:   I already thought it was a super deal for $79.  But I’ve also spotted it for just $68 at Walmart (online only) and $67 on Amazon.

Check out a minute-and-a-half video and product details at this link.

Image courtesy Bushnell

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The nuclear option: NASA’s new Mars rover to run on radioactive power Fri, 25 Nov 2011 01:48:58 +0000 As I reported in an earlier post, NASA’s Curiosity rover is about twice as long and about five times heavier than the most recent Opportunity and Spirit rovers.  But what’s really unique is that it’s powered by a radioisotope power system instead of solar panels.  The result:  Curiosity should be able to operate continuously through sandstorms and Martian winters for years.

If you’d like to read more about NASA’s Curiosity rover and its innovative power plant, check out a CNET article at this link:

Image courtesy of NASA

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Warning: Your brain may melt Fri, 25 Nov 2011 01:23:26 +0000 I’ve come across one of the most bizarre music videos that I’ve ever seen.  It is a group of Chinese senior citizens performing Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”  Picture scantily clad women musicians playing clear-plastic fiddles with seniors gyrating to the music in a life-size dollhouse.  I’m not making this up.

If you dare to unlock a weird and freaky place in your brain, turn up your speakers and click on this article’s image and link.  You’ve been warned…


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Weird science: Number of Facebook friends related to brain size Mon, 24 Oct 2011 23:10:45 +0000 Just when you thought scientific research couldn’t get any more bizarre, here’s a new benchmark:  Researchers at the University College London have apparently discovered a link between the number of Facebook friends and the size particular of brain regions, such as the amygdala, where memory and emotion are processed.

The researchers do not suggest whether they believe it was Facebook activity that increased the size of these portions of the brain — or — if someone’s amygdala size, for instance, influences a person’s desire to acquire Facebook friends.

If you’d like to know more about this unusual study, check out the Reuter’s report here:  And, yes, feel free to share the details with your friends on Facebook.

Image courtesy of Reuters

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Cha-ching! — new social media site — pays you to post. Sun, 23 Oct 2011 23:23:15 +0000, a just-launched social-media site, claims it will pay all content posters 50% of the advertising revenue generated on their profile pages.  This in stark contrast to Facebook, which has built a $65 billion empire by leveraging members’ content to attract advertisers and amass revenue.

To provide a first-hand report, I created account (very simple to do), and explored the site.  Although the site is still in beta, I must say the user interface is well thought out.  Since the site has just turned on, you probably have a good shot to get your personal name as your user name.  Hey, it’s free.  Go for it.

The following is a snippet of a Huffington Post article about Chime.In:

“While Facebook has earned billions of dollars selling ads next to the content uploaded by their 800 million members, users haven’t seen a dime from their posts.

Share with and will share with you. The site, which allows individuals to post photos, links, videos and text in two thousand character ‘chimes,’ will give users 50 percent of the revenue it earns from selling advertising on their profile pages.

‘This is a firing shot in social media,’ [Bill Gross, the founder] told The Huffington Post. ‘Finally, the interests of the content creators are aligned with the interests of the publisher because they get something for their hard work.”

For the complete article, visit

Image courtesy The Huffington Post and Getty Images.

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New climate study deals blow to skeptics (CNN International) Sun, 23 Oct 2011 20:40:34 +0000 London (CNN) — An independent study of global temperature records has reaffirmed previous conclusions by climate scientists that global warming is real.

The new analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project examined 1.6 billion temperature reports from 15 data archives stretching back over 200 years in an effort to address scientific concerns raised by climate skeptics about the data used to inform reports published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Researchers found “reliable evidence” of a rise in average world land temperatures of one degrees Celsius — or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit — since the mid-1950s.

[NOTE:  To attempt to quell any straggling skeptics, the researchers have published their methodology, entire data set, and software code, in a fully transparent and well-designed research protocol.   Here’s the link:]

“Our biggest surprise was that the new results agreed so closely with the warming values published previously by other teams in the United States and the UK,” professor Richard A. Muller, Berkeley Earth’s scientific director said in a statement.

“This confirms that these studies were done carefully and that potential biases identified by climate change skeptics did not seriously affect their conclusions,” Muller added.

Climate skeptics have consistently challenged the findings of studies by NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the UK’s University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, whose research is used by the IPCC.

For the complete CNN report, including links to the actual study, please visit

Image courtesy of CNN

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The secret to revitalizing America’s business? You. And your creativity. (Watch this inspiring two-minute video — and share.) Wed, 19 Oct 2011 17:05:14 +0000 I came across this inspiring two-minute video on YouTube about entrepreneurs.  They formed the fabric of our country — and could (and should) be our engine to the future.  Start your day off with this video.  It will lift your spirits.  Then take that rush of adrenaline and dose free spirit — and go for it.  Change the world.


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How to fix Facebook’s News Feed — and put it back the way it was. Easy as 1-2-3. Tue, 18 Oct 2011 23:24:45 +0000 Facebook has really messed up its News Feed.  Overwhelmingly, people want the Facebook News Feed to function the way it was.  Here’s a simple 1-2-3 to do just that:

(1)  In the left-hand column, click on LISTS.

(2)  Click on the “Create a List” button and type “Most Recent” as the name.

(3)  Select all of the friends you’d like to follow by clicking on their pictures.

That’s it!  Now when you want to see a “normal” most-recent list of the activities of your friends, just click on the “Most Recent” link in the left-hand column.

Bonus option #1:  If you’d like the “Most Recent” link to conveniently appear in your “Favorites” at top of the left-hand column, simply mouse-over the “Most Recent” list name, click on the pencil icon that pops up, and then click on “Add to Favorites.”

Bonus option #2:  If you’d really like to tweak the position of the “Most Recent” link, say to put it at the very top of your “Favorites,” that’s easy too.  All you have to do (once it is in your “Favorites”) is mouse over the “Most Recent” link again, click on the pencil icon again, and select the “Rearrange” option.  Now click and drag the “Most Recent” link to the position you’d like.

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TECH NEWS: Facebook to unveil “Facebook Music” — a music service that will allow you to listen to live streams of music with friends. Thu, 22 Sep 2011 18:03:14 +0000 Facebook creative director, Ji Lee, spilled the beans about Facebook’s upcoming Facebook Music service when he tweeted:  “The ‘Listen with your friend’ feature in ticker is blowing my mind. Listen to what your friends are listening. LIVE.”

The “ticker” Lee referred to is the live scrolling updates of your friends, as implemented in the recent interface update of Facebook.

The graphic associated with this post is a snippet of a screenshot by quick-fingered Twitter users — before Lee and Facebook removed Lee’s tweet from public view.

What the Facebook Music feature will look like, and how it will actually function, is still a secret.  Keep an eye on both the ticker and the general Facebook user interface over the next couple of days.

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AEROSPACE NEWS: NASA to spend $1.6 billion on private Space Taxis Tue, 20 Sep 2011 16:33:47 +0000 NASA has introduced a plan to pay private aerospace companies $1.6 billion to ferry U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS).  A variety of new commercial aerospace companies are expected to compete for the job of providing “turnkey” launch, flight, return, maintenance, and ground-support operations.

The commercialization of space will be an exciting era.  The retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet may provide a short-term space-transportation gap, but — in the long run — the opportunities and new doors that will open will be amazing.

ISS graphic courtesy of NASA

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One minute of wackiness. (Rockin’ Rickie Rocket is back!) Tue, 20 Sep 2011 00:25:50 +0000 I’ve received a ton of requests to dig through my archives for one of my most popular & fun items from years ago.  So, by popular request, “Rockin’ Rickie Rocket” — the virtual percussionist I first posted in 2004 — is back.  I re-discovered Rickie on YouTube.  It’s the same video clip from ten years ago.  Turn up your speakers, click on the image, and rock out to Rickie!



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HEADS UP: 7-ton satellite to fall to earth this week; debris field is expected to be about 500 miles long Mon, 19 Sep 2011 23:00:22 +0000 NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is expected to fall to earth by Friday. Much of the satellite will burn up during its blazing flight through the atmosphere, but large components will likely survive to impact land or water. Because of the satellite’s orbital path, northern Canada and southern South America are most at risk from any incoming debris.

For more information, visit the following Reuters report:

NASA is also posting regular updates here:

Photo courtesy of and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

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NEWS FOR INVENTORS: President Obama signs America Invents Act — designed to speed patent applications and improve U.S. competitiveness by aligning patent laws with other countries Fri, 16 Sep 2011 17:14:29 +0000 The America Invents Act is the most significant overhaul of U.S. patent law since 1952.  Through this Act, American inventors can hope to see a breakthrough in the logjam of patent applications that hold up applications for years at a time.  (At last count, there are over 700,000 backlogged patent applications — slowing countless product and business innovaions from seeing the light of day.)

The bill also gets the U.S. on the same patent footing as the rest of the world, by changing our system from a “first-to-invent” standard to a “first-to-file” standard.  This one change, alone, is designed to eliminate the myriad of court cases that try to resolve which inventor came up with an idea first.

Additional information can be read at the following AP report:

Photo courtesy of the AP.

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EYE OPENING: 1,000 naked people to attend photo shoot at Dead Sea Fri, 16 Sep 2011 15:42:18 +0000 Renown photographer, Spencer Tunick, has a arranged a photo shoot of 1,000 naked Israelis at the Dead Sea tomorrow.  Tunick is trying to raise worldwide awareness of the receding waters and overall demise of the Dead Sea.  F.Y.I., 3,000 individuals applied for the shoot; 1,000 were accepted.  That must have been an interesting screening process, to say the least.  To see some of Tunick’s, um, revealing work, click here.

Photo courtesy of

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SOCIAL MEDIA NEWS: Facebook lets you organize friends into “smart lists” in a response to Google+ “circles” Wed, 14 Sep 2011 02:41:03 +0000 Facebook users have long wished they could organize their friends into groups — as some posts that may be appropriate for one segment of your social network (like your close friends) might be shocking for others (like your grandmother).  Starting this week, you can now do just that with Facebook’s new “smart lists” feature.

Facebook’s system makes an initial guess at parceling your contacts into separate groups, based on proximity, family relationship, business name, or school association.  You can override and edit Facebook’s guesses, to get your groups just the way you want them.

Facebook has been working on this feature for some time.  But Google’s recent roll out of Google+ and its “circles” concept seems to have spurred Facebook to speed things to completion.

Image courtesy of USA TODAY

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