Our universe may one day be obliterated or assimilated by a larger universe, according to a controversial new analysis. The work suggests the parallel universes proposed by some quantum theorists may not actually be parallel but could interact – and with disastrous consequences.
WAY cool images from the Space Telescope.
A handful of genes that control the body's defenses during hard times can also dramatically improve health and prolong life in diverse organisms. Understanding how they work may reveal the keys to extending human life span while banishing diseases of old age.
Dutch psychologists found that people struggling to make complex decisions did best when they were distracted and were not able to think consciously about the choice at all. The research not only backs up the common advice to "sleep on it" when facing difficult choices, but it also suggests that the unconscious brain can actively reason as well...
Tony offered this and it belongs at top-level. Wow!: “There's a neat photo in the Planetary Society weblog showing an occultation of the Moon by the ISS. The detail visible is astonishing.”
Someone wrote in having spotted an item in the news that relates to my "Citizens are Competent" meme. A senator and a congressman have suggested turning over copies of some of the documents seized in Iraq (but not yet translated due to a desperate shortage of Arabic translators with US security clearances) to interested citizens. Apparently we have bales of Saddam-era files still sitting around. The idea here is 1) untranslated files don't do us any good and 2) they're Iraqi secrets, not ours, so why not? I think we would be better off with Saddam's secrets out in the open than unread and under wraps. Given the strong government tendency towards secrecy and turf protection, the files will probably wind up stored next to the Ark of the Covenant in that Washington warehouse...
E-Weapons: Directed Energy Warfare in The 21st Century -- (Space -- January 11, 2006) There is a new breed of weaponry fast approaching, and at the speed of light no less. They are labeled "directed-energy weapons" and may well signal a revolution in military hardware, perhaps more so than the atomic bomb. Directed energy weapons take the form of lasers, high-powered microwaves, and particle beams.
The 50 Best Robots Ever -- (Wired -- January 31, 2006)
They're exploring the deep sea and distant planets. They're saving lives in the operating room and on the battlefield. They're transforming factory floors and filmmaking. The growth of robots in our lives has prompted this website to list its top 50 favorite robots.
Joshua O'Madadhain suggests we might be interested in this website that People for the American Way have started: http://www.foiarequest.org/ Basically, it facilitates making a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request.
Spray-On Solar-Power Cells Are True Breakthrough -- (National Geographic -- January 14, 2006) Scientists have invented a plastic solar cell that can turn the sun's power into electrical energy, even on a cloudy day. The plastic material uses nanotechnology and contains the first solar cells able to harness the sun's invisible, infrared rays. The breakthrough has led theorists to predict that plastic solar cells could one day become five times more efficient than current solar cell technology.
New System Could Cut Solar Costs -- (Mercury News -- February 16, 2006)
A new solar energy system devised by entrepreneurs in a Silicon Valley garage could cut the cost of solar power in commercial buildings by at least half. The first version cuts the cost of power per watt of energy by as much as half. A more advanced version will be commercially available in two to three years, and save even more money.
Also: Until recently, most of us believed the telephone dated to March 10, 1876. (Alexander Graham Bell calls his lab assistant, standing 20 feet away in the next room, to say: (Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.) But Bell's invention of the telephone has lately come into question; five years ago Congress voted to give Florentine immigrant Antonio Meucci credit for building the first phone in 1860. The unlucky Mr. Meucci lacked the $250 he needed to file a patent on his phone. Another phone anniversary, though, remains more or less unchallenged; the first mobile-phone experiment dates to 1946, done in St. Louis, by AT&T and Bell Labs.
Now two observations on the chatty world of the future:
* By 2015, Africa Will Have More Mobile Phone Users Than The United States.... Most new mobile phone users will be in middle- and low-income countries. African mobile use is growing especially fast; the continent had fewer than a million mobile subscribers in 1995 and has 135 million today. As the cost of phones and services fall, Africa may add 265 million more subscribers in the next six years. (The United States has 195 million, and is likely to add 66 million more before growth slows.) China, India, and Brazil are also looking ahead to rapid mobile-subscription growth.
* More mobile use in poorer countries can mean faster development, narrowing digital divides, and interesting shifts in services trade. One study finds that in low-income countries, an extra 10 phones per 100 people raises GDP growth by 0.6 percent, as (for example) farmers, fishermen, and street market vendors use phones to find market prices, pay bills, make payment orders and cut transactional costs. For richer countries, more mobile phone use in developing regions can help providers of financial services, telemedicine, weather reports, and the like find new customers. (Source: "Progressive Policy Institute")