By Dave ProchnowPosted 12.11.2007 at 2:51 pm 2 Comments
Didya tell Santa to slip a brand new shiny Apple iPod touch under the tree fer ya this year? Good, because now you can head over to iPod Touch Mods for a somewhat cryptic project for adding an input microphone/preamp (neatly embedded inside a dock connector) to your new fangled Web-enabled MP3 player. Once youve mastered that technological feat, you can try to look up the enterprising hacks of eok for adding VoIP to your iPod touch w/microphone. With a little luck, you could have your 16Gb iVoIPhone ready for Macworld Conference & Expo San Francisco 2008 and scoop Apple on its own one more thing announcement.—Dave Prochnow
By Dawn StoverPosted 12.11.2007 at 2:08 pm 2 Comments
Google Earth today unveiled a new layer, called Earth from Above, featuring stunning images taken by the French nature photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand.
At left is one of those images, the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa in Iceland. Each image is accompanied by an interesting statistic: In this case, we learn that 90 percent of the homes in Iceland are heated by electricity produced from geothermal sources.
The photos are accessible from the Global Awareness folder in Google Earth.—Dawn Stover
By Gregory MonePosted 12.11.2007 at 10:59 am 5 Comments
Evolution isn't finished with us. Scientists using data from the HapMap Project, a large scale effort to identify variations in human genes, have discovered evidence that evolution is actually accelerating. Granted, we're not talking about the decade scale here. Compared to your grandparents you're not some kind of advanced mutant.
But anthropologist Henry Harpending of the University of Utah, a co-author of the new study, says there have been significant changes in the last 1,000 or 2,000 years. The rate of evolution is far greater in the last few millenia, Harpending and his colleagues say, than it had been in the millions of years before. One of the possible causes of the acceleration, the scientists assert, may be the population boom. With more people, there's a greater likelihood that an advantageous genetic mutation will arise, and spread. Others contest the group's conclusions. Either way, this probably isn't the last controversial or groundbreaking idea we're going to hear about from the HapMap Project.—Gregory Mone
By Gregory MonePosted 12.11.2007 at 10:54 am 0 Comments
YouTube, the online video giant, announced plans yesterday to expand its advertising program to a number of amateur movie-makers. Ads will be spliced into the videos, and the creators will get the chance to share the revenue with Google, YouTube's corporate parent.
The ad program itself isn't brand new. YouTube picked a small group of established content producers to test its pilot program. But now the site will let users apply to be part of the revenue-generating machine. The favorites will be those who post frequently, have a loyal following, and stick to YouTube's rules. Currently, it's available in the US and Canada, but will probably expand soon, if the community's demands have anything to do with it. The very first comment to YouTube's blog post on the subject: When are you going to expand this to Slovenia? It's the big question on all of our minds.—Gregory Mone
By Gregory MonePosted 12.11.2007 at 10:53 am 2 Comments
Two weeks. The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has until Christmas to make it to a nice, sunny slope of a nearby plateau, where it will point its solar panels towards the Sun and park for the winter. Unfortunately, Spirit can't just drive. A recent dust storm on the Red Planet drained much of the rover's energy, so at this point it needs a day of rest for every day of travel.
Engineers knew this energy problem would come eventually. Solar panels need to be clean and free of debris to soak up sunlight. But the Red Planet hasn't been cooperating. Those massive dust storms deposit a fine layer of dirt on the panels, vastly reducing their energy-generating capacity.
Some stiff winds blew much of the dust off Opportunity's panels, but Spirit hasn't been so lucky. Spirit is down to 42 percent capacity. Still, though, it's amazing that they're even roving at all at this point. They were supposed to run out of juice several years ago.—Gregory Mone
By Dawn StoverPosted 12.10.2007 at 6:14 pm 0 Comments
A group of well-known scientists, science writers and politicians is calling for a public debate in which the U.S. presidential candidates share their views on the environment, medicine, health and other important issues of science and technology policy. More than 40 science bloggers climbed aboard the debate train in the first 24 hours.
Among the issues that could be debated are some of the hottest topics of the day, ranging from climate change to stem cell research. Want to join the political party? Go to sciencedebate2008.com. The petition is also circulating on Facebook. —Dawn Stover
If you've already gotten your hands on our hot-off-the-presses January issue, you may have seen our announcement of a contest with BUG Labs—makers of the modular open-source hardware kit that allows handy builders to create the gadget of their dreams by snapping one of several available modules to a central BUGbase portable computer, which can then be programmed to get all the modules talking to each other in all kinds of interesting ways. Sounds pretty cool, right?
Along with the BUG folks, we're putting the finishing touches on the contest now—it's going to be great!. So watch this space for details in the next few days. DIY gadget heads, prepare yourselves. —John Mahoney
By Dave ProchnowPosted 12.10.2007 at 3:06 pm 1 Comment
Is it an animal, vegetable, mineral, or other? So begins the interrogation from the entertaining new game from Radica USA a division of Mattel, Inc. Based on the analog game, 20 Questions, 20Q predicts that it can read your mind. And with a proven (very unscientific sampling of 10 folks) track record of 60% success, 20Q might make you think that it really is, in fact, in your head. At $9.95, these colorful Kreskin-like balls also like to add some insult to the injury with a little bit of snippy banter.—Dave Prochnow
By Gregory MonePosted 12.10.2007 at 1:39 pm 0 Comments
Oceanlinx, an Australian company that makes devices capable of converting the juice from ocean swells into electricity, has signed a deal with the state of Rhode Island to produce two separate offshore facilities that could end up powering more than 15,000 homes. One of the facilities will boast a bunch of the devices, each of which will be about 60 feet wide and 30 feet tall. Read more about how they work here. They're big, but they'd sit far enough offshore so they wouldn't be an eyesore.
We wrote about the technology at the beginning of last year—at that point the company was called Energetech—and back then everyone was a bit more optimistic in terms of the timetable. Now it will be at least two years before the devices start generating electricity. But at least things are moving along again.—Gregory Mone
By Gregory MonePosted 12.10.2007 at 1:25 pm 2 Comments
Yesterday NASA announced that it will delay launching the shuttle Atlantis until at least January 2nd. Atlantis was supposed to take off on Thursday, but one of its four fuel sensors started malfunctioning prior to the flight.
For now engineers are going to try to fix the problem while the shuttle in on the pad, but if they can't figure out the error that way, they'll have to move Atlantis to the hangar, which would cause further delays.
The good news, though, is that the agency says there's still enough of a time cushion to keep its February launch, which includes parts of the Japanese Kibo module, on track.
For our PPX crowd, this news does indeed spell a halt on our SHUTL proposition. Payout will happen January 1st, but it's clear NASA's plan for four flights to the ISS this year was just slightly too ambitious.—Gregory Mone