Thursday, May 19, 2011

CDC Warns of Zombie Apocalypse

Posted by Soulskill  

from the your-tax-dollars-at-play dept.
scotbuff writes"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have written an article about preparing for a zombie apocalypse on their blog. The CDC knows that a zombie apocalypse is no joke. 'If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation. This assistance might include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts, and infection control (including isolation and quarantine). It’s likely that an investigation of this scenario would seek to accomplish several goals: determine the cause of the illness, the source of the infection/virus/toxin, learn how it is transmitted and how readily it is spread, how to break the cycle of transmission and thus prevent further cases, and how patients can best be treated.'"

Could the Internet spell the end of snow days?

May 18, 2011 By HEATHER HOLLINGSWORTH , Associated Press

Could the Internet spell the end of snow days? (AP)
In this April 8, 2011 photo, Cameron Mottet makes up a missed snow day in the kitchen of her home in as her mother Jane looks on Parkville, Mo. Some schools are experimenting with ways for students to do lessons online during bad weather, potentially allowing classes to go on during even the worst blizzard. So-called "virtual snow days" would ease pressure on school calendars and offer students more time to learn in the winter before taking standardized tests in the spring. But there are obstacles, too, especially for families who can't afford computers or Internet access. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

3D Display with a Knect Interface

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Invisibility Cloak: Scientists Achieve Optical Invisibility in Visible Light Range of Spectrum

ScienceDaily (May 18, 2011) — "Seeing something invisible with your own eyes is an exciting experience," say Joachim Fischer and Tolga Ergin. For about one year, both physicists and members of the team of Professor Martin Wegener at KIT's Center for Functional Nanostructures (CFN) have worked on refining the structure of the Karlsruhe invisibility cloak to such an extent that it is also effective in the visible spectral range.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Can Computers Be Used To Optimize the US Tax Code?

Posted by Soulskill  

from the improvement-through-iteration dept.
FatLittleMonkey writes"Science fiction author David Brin wonders whether the US tax code, described by President Obama as a '10,000-page monstrosity,' could be dramatically simplified. His idea is about using computers to shuffle the existing system: 'I know a simple way the sheer bulk of the tax code could be trimmed by perhaps 70% or more, without much political pain or obstructionism! ... it should be easy to create a program that will take the tax code and experiment with zeroing-out dozens, hundreds of provisions while sliding others upward and then showing how these simplifications would affect, say, one-hundred representative types of taxpayers... Let the program find the simplest version of a refined tax code that leaves all 100 taxpayer clades unhurt. If one group loses a favorite tax dodge, the system would seek a rebalancing of others to compensate. No mere human being could accomplish this, but I have been assured that a computer could do this in a snap.' With all the talk about Open Government, perhaps the computer code currently used in tax modelling could be released to the wider community, leading eventually to a Folding@Home type project."

Really Cool HUGE pics

Click on the map and take a tour!
Try this one...

The Cost of US Security

Posted by Soulskill  

from the yeah-but-we've-foiled-potential-shampoo-bombers dept.
Hugh Pickens writes"The Atlantic reports that as we mark Osama bin Laden's death, what's striking is how much he cost our nation and how little we've gained from our fight against him. By conservative estimates, bin Laden cost the US at least $3 trillion over the past 15 years, counting the disruptions he wrought on the domestic economy, the wars and heightened security triggered by the terrorist attacks he engineered, and the direct efforts to hunt him down. 'What do we have to show for that tab,' ask Tim Fernholz and Jim Tankersley. 'Two wars that continue to occupy 150,000 troops and tie up a quarter of our defense budget; a bloated homeland-security apparatus that has at times pushed the bounds of civil liberty; soaring oil prices partially attributable to the global war on bin Laden's terrorist network; and a chunk of our mounting national debt.' In 2004 bin Laden explicitly compared the US fight to the Afghan incursion that helped bankrupt the Soviet Union during the Cold War. 'We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy,' said bin Laden, adding that that every dollar spent by al-Qaida in attacking the US has cost Washington $1m in economic fallout and military spending."

T'ai Chi Helps Prevent Falls and Improve Mental Health in the Elderly, Review Finds

ScienceDaily (May 16, 2011) — T'ai chi has particular health benefits for older people, including helping to prevent falls and improving mental wellbeing, reveals a review published ahead of print in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

New Solar Product Captures Up to 95 Percent of Light Energy

ScienceDaily (May 16, 2011) — Efficiency is a problem with today's solar panels; they only collect about 20 percent of available light. Now, a University of Missouri engineer has developed a flexible solar sheet that captures more than 90 percent of available light, and he plans to make prototypes available to consumers within the next five years.

Monday, May 16, 2011

First Habitable Exoplanet? Climate Simulation Reveals New Candidate That Could Support Earth-Like Life

ScienceDaily (May 16, 2011) — The planetary system around the red dwarf Gliese 581, one of the closest stars to the Sun in the galaxy, has been the subject of several studies aiming to detect the first potentially habitable exoplanet. Two candidates have already been discarded, but a third planet, Gliese 581d, can be considered the first confirmed exoplanet that could support Earth-like life. This is the conclusion of a team of scientists from the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (CNRS, UPMC, ENS Paris, Ecole Polytechnique) in Paris, France, whose study is published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The Rise of Filter Bubbles

Posted by samzenpus  

from the sound-of-your-own-voice dept.
eldavojohn writes"Eli Pariser gave a talk at TED which posits that tailoring algorithms are creating 'filter bubbles' around each user, restricting the information that reaches you to be — unsurprisingly — only what you want to see. While you might be happy that your preferred liberal or conservative news hits you, you'll never get to see the converse. This is because Google, Facebook, newspaper sites and even Netflix filter what hits you before you get to see it. And since they give you what you want, you never see the opposing viewpoints or step outside your comfort zone. It amounts to a claim of censorship through personalization, and now that every site does it, it's becoming a problem. Pariser calls for all sites implementing these algorithms to embed in the algorithms 'some sense of public life' and also have transparency so you can understand why your Google search might look different than someone with opposing tastes."Hit the link below to watch a video of Pariser's talk.

Netflix seals deal to stream Miramax movies, starting in June

By Vlad Savov  posted May 16th 2011 5:33AM

Netflix has just gone and scooped up another big content deal for itself. The movie streaming service has tied the knot with Miramax on a multi-year agreement to allow streaming of films from the latter's extensive library. Pulp FictionGood Will HuntingKill Bill, and hundreds of others will be added to the Netflix Watch Instantly catalog on a rotating basis, starting next month. This marks the first time Miramax flicks have been available on a digital subscription service. An agreement between these two companies was last rumored in March, with a five-year term and $100 million price being mooted as the likely parameters for getting it done. Neither outfit would disclose the cost to Netflix, but the benefit to you, dear subscriber, is pretty obvious. Full PR after the break. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Invent the Medical Tricorder, Win $10,000,000

Posted by Soulskill  

from the it's-life-jim-but-not-as-we-know-it dept.
GeneralSecretary writes"If you've ever watched Star Trek and said, 'Hey, I could build that,' now's your chance. Qualcomm and the X PRIZE Foundation have teamed together to offer ten million US dollars to whomever can invent 'a mobile solution that can diagnose patients better than or equal to a panel of board certified physicians.' They call it the Tricorder X PRIZE. Hopefully the Tricorder will join the cell phone, MRI, and tablet computer in the list of Star Trek devices that are now part of our lives."