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Preview: Christian Science Monitor: SciTech

Christian Science Monitor: SciTech

News about the Internet, environment, space, and other topics, from (By - FOR PERSONAL AND NON COMMERCIAL USE ONLY!)

Last Build Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2008 16:16:28 +0200


Screen wars: stealing TV’s ‘eyeball’ share
Is this the summer that the Internet finally kills television as we once knew it? Most industry observers are stopping short of that prediction, citing some significant hurdles still in the way. But the growing number of new deals and new devices being announced suggests that a profound change in the way people watch video – and what video they watch – is under way. The line between “television” and video via the Internet already has blurred and may disappear in coming years. At least o

Kindle e-book: beginning to catch fire? received a rave for its Kindle e-book this week. An industry analyst at Citigroup doubled his forecast for 2008 sales of the paperback-sized device from 190,000 to 380,000 units. If those estimates hold up, it would mean that sales of the Kindle, which can download and display some 150,000 books as well as other reading material (such as newspapers), would track well against the first-year sales of Apple’s iPod. The analyst, Mark Mahaney, also predicted that the device, introduced

Engage the cloaking device
Fantasies, legends, and science fiction stories are crowded with examples of the desire to become invisible, from Greek myths (Perseus hides under an invisibility cloak to sneak up on the sleeping monster Medusa and kill her) to H.G. Wells’s thriller “The Invisible Man” to Star Trek’s Romulan “cloaking device” to invisibility cloaks worn by Frodo and Harry Potter. Now in two serious scientific papers jointly released by the journals Nature and Science this week, the possibility of m

Forces colliding
Click on the thumbnail to see the full image. . . . . .

Horizon highlights – Thinnest balloon, lordship for sale, alternative storytelling
Our regular roundup of sci-tech stories from across the web includes: A balloon only one atom thick, an English lordship for sale online, and new ways to tell old stories. Let’s kick it off: Security – ‘Fakeproof’ e-passport is cloned in minutes “New microchipped passports designed to be foolproof against identity theft can be cloned and manipulated in minutes and accepted as genuine by the computer software recommended for use at international airports.” [Via The Times, UK

An asteroid cop gets ready to patrol
A satellite the size of a suitcase may soon protect our planet from a catastrophic collision with an asteroid. Dubbed NEOSSat – for Near Earth Object Surveillance Satellite – the Canadian craft will be the world’s first space telescope designed to hunt asteroids that threaten to slam into Earth. Several ground-based telescopes already scan the sky for potential dangers, but they only hunt at night and poor weather obscures their view. By circling pole to pole in a sun-synchronous orbit ab

Better way to recycle computers
When you send an old computer off for recycling, it’s more than likely the castoff will end up in China, which recycles some 70 percent of the world’s old cellphones and computers. But their circuit boards contain a range of valuable (and toxic) metals. And the techniques currently used to recycle them – mostly in local family-run workshops – lead to pollution and public-health problems, researchers say. Now engineers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University say they have developed a way to rec

A 3-D look down the RabbitHole
At first glance, the artworks placed around the small framing workshop in artist Rolando Rodriguez’s tiny studio appear to be blank sheets of Plexiglass. But switch on an ordinary halogen lamp and suddenly – like a magical Harry Potter family portrait – lush, full-bodied images leap from the unassuming plaques: The outstretched fingers of a mysterious tentacled figure undulate alongside the coils coming from her head; a brooding, Gollum-like creature slinks at the rear of a room, then lea

Computers “learn” to walk
A boxy humanoid wiggles on the ground. Like a child taking his first steps, it plants its blue shoes and wobbles toward standing up. Then its balance crumbles and the on-screen computer character plops down to try again. German researchers designed this simulator to allow their little blue man to “learn” movements. Rather than program the digital character to perform specific motions, the code allows for trial and error – an important step in creating fully functioning robots. Once it mas

Buildings designed by termites
Some of the world’s best sustainable designers are termites. That’s the gist of recent talk by Zimbabwean-born architect Mick Pearce. He foresees a “biological age” of future construction projects that’s now within reach. This next step in ecoarchitecture looks to nature for clues on how to build more energy-efficient buildings. “Like blood circulating in our veins, inside the termites nest it is air that’s moved by external temperature and pressures,” says Mr. Pearce, who now w