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Giant Helium Balloon in Paris Displays Air Pollution Levels

Helium Balloon in Paris Displays Air Pollution Levels

by Lisa Zyga
Arophiles balloon turns different colors depending on the air pollution levels as registered by the air quality organization Airparif.
Aérophile´s balloon turns different colors depending on the air pollution levels, as registered by the air quality organization Airparif.

People in Paris won't have to look far to see the city's air pollution levels. A giant tethered helium balloon will display real-time reports of atmospheric pollution using an innovative lighting system, which can be seen from more than 20 km (12.4 miles) away.

A company called Aérophile announced its recent launch of the gas balloon, known as the AERO30NG Aérophile 5500 model, which is located in the Parc Andre Citroën in Paris. Aérophile manufactures tethered gas balloons as tourist and cultural attractions for places including Disney Village in Paris and the Great Park Balloon in Irvine, California.

The newest balloon, which is filled with 6,000 cubic meters of helium, will serve as both an eco-diagnostic public awareness tool as well as a tourist attraction.

Around the city, air pollution data will be collected by several sensors set up by Airparif, an organization that measures air quality in France. Based on this data, the Aérophile balloon will display two measurements: ambient air quality and air pollution produced by auto emissions, which is measured at major traffic junctions.

The balloon's color signifies the ambient air quality using three projectors that are located in the middle of the balloon. For example, red signifies highly polluted air, orange for polluted, yellow for moderate, light green for clean, and green for very clean.

To display traffic pollution, a high-powered rotating laser at the base sweeps across the lower half of the balloon. Both pollution displays will be visible day and night. Also, Airparif will be recording the data on its Web site, along with that of 30 other European cities.

As a tourist attraction, the balloon will provide non-polluting rides for up to 30 passengers at a time. The balloon is tethered to the ground with a movable cable controlled by a hydroelectric winch - an environmentally friendly design based on the Archimedes principle.

As Aérophile describes on its Web site, "Flight aboard a tethered gas balloon AERO30NG is a unique experience full of sensations for the passengers. Silent and without vibration, the gondola is open to the air, allowing passengers to experience the sensation of being on a flying balcony 150 m in the sky. A 360° panorama unfolds before them, and in a single gaze they can take in the whole landscape."

More information:

via: AlphaGalileo

The 7 Creepiest Real-Life Robots

Scientists say they can now build near-perfect replications of a human being. Scientists are liars. Here are seven robots that reached for life-like, and came up with a big handful of your worst nightmares.

read more | digg story

Really Cool Waterproof Keyboard [PICS]

The “Really Cool” Waterproof Keyboard is a water-resistant and contaminant proof keyboard with tactile feedback keys.

read more | digg story

What to do With Your Crummy Old iPhone

With the 3G soon to hit stores, here are some suggestions on how to make use of your old school iPhone.

read more | digg story

Water Discovered for First Time in Ancient Moon Samples

Water has been found conclusively for the first time inside ancient moon samples brought back by Apollo astronauts. The discovery may force scientists to rethink the lunar past and future, although uncertainty remains about how much water exists and whether future explorers could extract it.

read more | digg story

Why You Don't Need A New iPhone

The coolest thing about the next generation iPhone, however, is its new software. And if you already have the device, you're going to be getting the best parts of the new model for free very soon (or for a small charge to those who own an iPod Touch). Getting stuck with the old iPhone isn't looking as bad as we feared.

read more | digg story

10 Richest People of All Time and How They Made Their Money

Quick: who is the richest man of all time? Bill Gates? Warren Buffet? Not even close, though there's no denying they're very, very rich. The richest man of all time, when wealth is measured as a percentage of the national economy, was John D. Rockefeller, whose fortunes made Gates' and Buffet's look downright puny.

read more | digg story

Body Makes Pot-Like Substance To Help Skin

Our Bodies Like Marijuana Plant, Doctor Says

The body makes chemicals similar to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, to help the skin, scientists reported.In the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, researchers said that learning more about so-called endocannabinoids could lead to drugs that treat acne, dry skin or skin tumors.The researchers treated the cells that produce oil for the skin with endocannabinoids to make them produce more oil.One scientists said the products could include new skin creams."This research shows that we may have something in common with the marijuana plant," said Dr. Gerald Weissmann. "Just as THC is believed to protect the marijuana plants from pathogens, our own cannabinoids may be necessary for us to maintain healthy skin and to protect us from pathogens."

Unsexy Moments in the History Of Modern Art (NSFW)

On our last couple of jaunts to the local art show, we've noticed a disturbing phenomenon. A lot of modern art is deeply, deeply unsexy. Not just weird, but explicitly damaging to the libido. So in the interest of letting you know what to avoid, we've collected some of the unsexiest artwork we could find.

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How to Catch Your Girl Cheating

A young man who is filled with good intentions, and surprises for the girlfriend of his dreams. He notes that you must be very careful with your girlfriend. This video is just a short film and the video is stunning!

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The 20 Best Movie Endings Ever

Is it E.T. leaving in a spaceship or Butch and Sundance going down in a hail of bullets? Here Times critics choose their Top 20 film endings. But be warned: it does contain spoilers

read more | digg story

Ancient 'Dead Sea' Stone Tablet Predates & Might Rewrite the Bible

July 08, 2008


A three-foot-tall tablet with 87 lines of Hebrew found near the Dead Sea in Jordan that scholars believe dates from the decades just before the birth of Jesus is raising eyebrows in biblical and archaeological circles, especially because it is believed to speak of a messiah called Simon who will rise from the dead after three days, suggesting that the story of Christ's death and resurrection was not unique but part of a recognized Jewish tradition at the time.

The tablet, which is similar in style to the Dead Sea Scrolls, is written, not engraved, across two neat columns, similar to columns in a Torah. But the stone is broken, and some of the text is faded, meaning that much of what it says is open to debate.

A fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls which set the word talking when they were discovered 60 years ago. The new text seems to imply the life and death of Jesus was predicted before his birth

But a leading scholar says it confirms his theory that some Jewish sects before Christ believed a messiah would save them - but not before he was killed and brought back to life after three days. Israel Knohl, Professor of Biblical Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, says one line of the text tells the 'prince of princes' slain by the evil government, 'in three days you shall live'. He suggests the story refers to the death of a Jewish prince called Simon who led a revolt against King Herod.

Daniel Boyarin, of the University of California at Berkeley, said that there was growing evidence suggesting that Jesus could be best understood through a close reading of the Jewish history of his day.
'Some Christians will find it shocking - a challenge to the uniqueness of their theology, while others will be comforted by the idea of it being a traditional part of Judaism,' he said.


Nazi Hunters Find 'Doctor Death': Most Wanted War Criminal

Most-wanted Nazi sought in Chile

Heim in his earlier days - but how might he look now?

Israel's chief Nazi hunter has arrived in southern Chile to step up the hunt for the Nazi fugitive Aribert Heim.

Heim - known as Dr Death - is believed to be in the Patagonian regions of either Chile or Argentina.

Efraim Zuroff, of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, will spend two days in Chilean Patagonia before crossing to Argentina.

Heim tortured and killed prisoners in Mauthausen concentration camp in World War II, but fled Germany in 1962 before authorities were able to arrest him.

Chilean and Argentinean newspapers have published pictures of Heim in 1950, 1959 and how he might look now. These are also displayed on posters advertising the search.

"In the last few days we've received information from two different sources, both relating to Chile, which we think have very good potential," the director of Israel's Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Mr Zuroff, said.

"The reason we are going [to Patagonia]... is of course the fact that Heim's daughter lives in Puerto Montt, and we think there is a strong likelihood that he might be in that area or in the area between Puerto Montt and Bariloche [Argentina]."

Chile-Argentina map

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, along with the German and Austrian governments, has offered $495,000 (315,000 euros; £250,000) for information leading to Heim's arrest.

Although he would now be 94, they believe Heim is still alive because his family has yet to claim around $1.6m sitting in a German bank account in his name, says the BBC's Gideon Long in Santiago.

In order to make the claim, his family would have to prove he is dead.

The search for Heim is part of Operation Last Chance, a final bid to bring Nazi war criminals to justice more than 60 years after the end of WWII.

Body parts

Heim kept meticulous notes of his activities at Mauthausen.

According to Holocaust survivors, he performed operations and amputations without anaesthetic to see how much pain his victims could endure.

Injecting victims straight into the heart with petrol, water or poison were said to have been his favoured method at Mauthausen.

"His crimes are fully documented by himself, because he kept a log of the operations that he carried out," Mr Zuroff said.

"He tortured many inmates before he killed them at Mauthausen, and he used body parts of the people he killed as decorations."

After the war, Heim was detained by US forces, but later disappeared.

He practised medicine in the German town of Baden-Baden until 1962, when he fled the country after being tipped off that the authorities were about to prosecute him.

Gaming Headset Lets Your Thoughts Control On-Screen Action

It's mind over machine: a US high-tech company has created a headset allowing computer game lovers to use their thoughts to move mountains and make objects disappear on screen. Emotiv, a San Francisco-based startup that marries neuroscience and computer engineering, says its gaming headset offers only a glimpse of what the technology has to offer.

read more | digg story

Fill Your Car Up With Hydrogen ... At Home

One of the main barriers to the widespread adoption of fuel cell vehicles has been the lack of an adequate hydrogen-refueling infrastructure. Beyond a handful of hydrogen stations, such as the one near Los Angeles International Airport, there just isn’t anywhere to fill up.

This has resulted in a kind of chicken-and-egg situation, where car companies, such as fuel-cell pioneers Honda, are reluctant to mass-produce hydrogen-powered cars until a comprehensive refueling system is established, and infrastructure providers won’t move until there are enough cars to make stations economically viable.

Step forward ITM Power, a UK company that has developed a hydrogen refueling station that could be installed at home, providing a ready-made solution for fuel-cell car owners.

The station works via an electrolyser, which produces the gas from water and electricity, providing enough hydrogen overnight to fuel a 25 mile journey. If required, the unit, which has been tested on a converted Ford Focus, can also convert the gas back into electricity for use in the home.

According to Chief Executive Jim Heathcote, the unit, which is currently only a prototype, could be produced on a commercial scale by the end of the year, at an initial cost of £2,000 (around $4,000). He also anticipates that home-based systems could eventually be supplemented by more powerful stations in public places, capable of producing enough hydrogen for a 100 mile journey.

Speaking at a showcase launch event in Sheffield he said, “Given the pressing need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, especially oil, and to cut CO2 emissions, the future for hydrogen as an alternative means of storing and utilising energy cost-effectively has never been brighter.”

Posts Related to Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Vehicles:

Dark Knight Coming: Bat Signal Lights Up Woolworth!

070908darkknight.jpgPhoto courtesy Olga Bas.

The marketing team for that new Batman movie – we think it's called The Dark Knight? – are having a hell of a time getting word out about their scrappy little art house film. So last night, in an act of sad desperation, they fired up the Bat Signal and shined it onto the Woolworth building to try and spark some degree of excitement. Unfortunately for them, The Dark Knight opens the same weekend as the hotly anticipated Space Chimps, so, you know, good luck, Nolan! Brooklyn Heights blog caught a glimpse of the signal from Brooklyn; and today the Times reports that optimistic theater owners will be screening the movie all night long when it opens.

Dark Knight Explores Another Side Of Harvey 'Two-Face' Dent

The themes of "golden boy" politicians, the fine line between enforcing the law and breaking it, and the Jekyll-and-Hyde hidden lives of those who represent us existed long before such scandal-inducing names as Clinton, Spitzer & Nixon. For 63 years, they've fueled the story of Harvey "Two-Face" Dent, who'll receive a new chapter in 'Dark Knight.'

read more | digg story

Teen delivers LSD cookies to police departments

08:06 PM CDT on Tuesday, July 8, 2008
By WFAA-TV Staff Reports

City of Lake Worth Police Department
Christian Phillips

FORT WORTH - A man performing community service delivered drug-laced cookies to police departments in both Blue Mound and Lake Worth on Monday, authorities said.

At least three officers at the Blue Mound Police Department consumed some food that came from a basket of cookies and assorted candies delivered by Christian Phillips, 18, on behalf of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. At the time, Phillips was working for MADD as part of ordered community service.

It was discovered the cookies contained LSD after staff at Blue Mound thought the cookies smelled of marijuana and sent them for testing.

Lake Worth Police Department, who was warned by Blue Mound, arrested Phillips when he came into their department to deliver another basket.

iPhone Dice Game Simulates Real Dice Rolling Using Sensors and Physics

iPhone Dice Game Simulates Real Dice Rolling Using Sensors and Physics

This Dice game is by far the coolest game I've seen, and it's got amazing tech inside which takes advantage of the iPhone's sensors like no other app. Here's how it works: You shake the iPhone and it rolls the dice inside, which you use to play poker. But instead of using some dumb random number generator, it captures your hand's motion and rolls simulated collisions between the virtual dice. This game is great but its just a sampling of the tech from Fullpower, the company Philippe Kahn, creator of the camera phone in 1997, has been developing in stealth for 5 years until today. Yes, this is the tip of a giant iceberg full of gadgets exactly aware of what we're doing with them at all times.

Fullpower is, at its heart, an advanced sensor data processing company. This game is using Fullpower's Motion X tech, which is used to simulate physics, predict motion patterns, and process sensor data. To put it pretty simply, it does "for motion what speech recognition does for voice." While a Wii just takes raw sensor data, a motion X layer can simply detect whether or a gadget is being carried in a pocket or in a hand and also distinguish whether that person is walking or running or driving in a car. Or sensing that a person with a pacemaker is walking quickly and up their heart rate. Fullpower also applies this same sort of interpretation to every kind of sensor you can think of: light, camera, pressure, heart rate, gps, audio, temperature, etc. Using motion sensors in conjunction with a camera's data could help optimize the timing at the moment a person's wavering hands are at their stillest.

They're not going to make many products directly, but are working with a bunch of companies to put all of this tech in tomorrow's gadgets to make them more aware of what we're doing.

For now, enjoy the game.

Friend Book App: Shake Two iPhones Together to Share Contact Information

A company called Tapulous is planning on delivering an iPhone app called Friend Book for the Friday launch that promises to turn your boring old address book into a "super address book" with features like a "face dialer" that allows you to place a call through your contact images. But that functionality pales in comparison to their "Handshake" feature that allows two iPhone users running Friend Book to share their personal contact information by shaking their phones in close proximity to one another.

The app works, I'd guess by sending the closely matching accelerometer data back to the Tapulous server, where they're matched in the cloud and info is swapped. There is no actual device-to-device connection—but that is still ridiculously cool. Tapulous is also planning to release Tap Tap Revenge and Twinkle as free downloads at launch. [Tapulous via Boing Boing Gadgets via Lifehacker]

For the second time in the past few months, the Oracle of Omaha's Berkshire Hathaway is helping to finance a big deal. That's an encouraging sign.

NEW YORK ( -- American consumers aren't the only ones going shopping. So is Warren Buffett.

Stocks initially rose Thursday morning thanks to better-than-expected sales reports from Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) and other top retail chains.

But the other big corporate event of the day was the news that Dow Chemical (DOW, Fortune 500) agreed to buy rival specialty chemical maker Rohm & Haas (ROH, Fortune 500) for $78 a share, a whopping 74% premium to yesterday's closing price.

Dow is getting some help to finance the deal, including money from a Kuwaiti sovereign wealth fund and none other than Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA, Fortune 500), the investment arm of Buffett.

This is interesting since it marks the second time in the past few months that Berkshire has taken part in a high-profile deal.

In April, Berkshire agreed to help privately held Mars finance its $23 billion takeover of The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, the gum and candy maker. Berkshire also said it was taking a $2.1 billion stake in Wrigley (WWY, Fortune 500).

It all just goes to show that Buffett is not panicking in this rocky market and is instead searching for opportunities.

To be sure, Buffett is not ignoring the obvious bad news about the economy. He's said in numerous interviews this year that he believes the economy is already in a recession and that it could be worse than some fear.

But Buffett is putting things in perspective. Recession does not equal the second Great Depression or economic Armageddon. Rather, Buffett seems to be following the tried and true investing axiom that the best time to make long-term bets is when fear is at its peak.

And make no mistake, this is a market ruled by fear right now. Investors are scared that oil prices are going to head even higher due to the uncertainties in Iran. They are afraid that mortgage financing giants Fannie Mae (FNM, Fortune 500) and Freddie Mac (FRE, Fortune 500) may need a government bailout.

Keep in mind, Buffett isn't making trading calls here. So his recent activity doesn't necessarily mean that the markets can't still head lower in the next few months.

What Buffett is doing though, is signaling that this is not a time for investors to be overly cautious. Stocks are still a good bet for the long haul.

For example, he told Fortune's Carol Loomis earlier this year that he has a bet with New York investment firm Protege Partners about where the market is going to head in the next 10 years. Buffett is betting that the S&P 500 will post a bigger return than a group of top hedge funds over the next decade.

In addition, Berkshire has also made some very contrarian bets in financial services this year that only can be justified by a belief that the market turmoil has created some deep values in that beaten-down sector.

In the first quarter of this year, Berkshire increased its stake in regional banks Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500), U.S. Bancorp (USB, Fortune 500) and M&T Bank (MTB). Berkshire also boosted its exposure to some consumer stocks in the quarter, most notably food giant Kraft (KFT, Fortune 500) and used car retailer CarMax (KMX, Fortune 500).

At the end of the day, investors should be reassured that the Oracle of Omaha is staying busy. Yes, it certainly seems like a frightening time right now to invest. But if Buffett's not hiding under the bed, why should you?

Shares of Fannie mae and Freddie Mac Plummet

NEW YORK ( -- Shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac tumbled again Thursday on a report that government officials have begun planning for a possible collapse of the mortgage finance giants.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Bush administration officials have held talks about what to do in the event the two government-sponsored firms falter.

The government doesn't expect the firms to fail and no rescue plan is imminent, according to the report. But it reported that talks, which it said had previously been part of normal contingency planning, have become more serious recently given the financial woes and downward spiral in their stock prices.

In addition, William Poole, the former president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve, told Bloomberg in a Thursday report that the companies are already "insolvent."

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson tried to allay some of the concerns about the firms Thursday. In testimony to the House Financial Services Committee, he said the firms are "working through this challenging period."

And earlier this week James Lockhart, director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, which regulates the two firms, said in an interview with CNBC Tuesday that he believes Fannie and Freddie have done a good job raising adequate capital.

But those attempts to calm investors had little effect. In early trading Thursday, shares of Fannie (FNM, Fortune 500) lost 11% while those of Freddie (FRE, Fortune 500) plunged 25%. Those losses are on top of the more than 60% declines in the two stocks already this year heading into Thursday.

Fannie and Freddie are crucial components to the nation's home lending industry, as they buy pools of mortgage loans and sell securities backed by the payments from those loans.

The two companies own or guarantee about $5 trillion of mortgages -- or nearly half of all U.S. home-mortgage debt outstanding.

"The housing market can not recover unless Fannie and Freddie are out there actively securitizing home mortgages," said Jaret Seiberg, financial services analyst for research firm Stanford Group.

The historic decline in home sales and values has already led to a sharp downturn in the economy So the viability of Fannie and Freddie is crucial to the nation's chances of an economic recovery.

"If Fannie or Freddie could throw the economy into depression or something close to it," Sean Egan, head of credit ratings firm Egan Jones, told Fortune earlier this week.

Because the shareholder-owned firms were set up by acts of Congress, they have always operated with the assumption that the federal government stands behind their guarantees.

But if Fannie and Freddie were unable to raise the funds to cover their rising losses, it is quite likely shareholders could have their holdings wiped out.

Shareholders are also concerned that rising mortgage defaults and delinquencies will cause additional losses for the firms, which in turn could force them to seek additional capital that will likely dilute the value of current shareholders' holdings.

But the rapid plunge in the stocks this week makes efforts to turn around Fannie and Freddie without a government bailout more difficult.

"The more the stock price goes down, the harder it is for them to raise capital -- which makes investors nervous," said Frederick Cannon, managing director at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, earlier this week. "It is a vicious cycle."

Spokespeople at Fannie and Freddie both had no comment on the Journal report. Earlier this week they said they had no comment on the declines in the firms' stock prices. To top of page

Kinetic Energy for F1

An innovative fuel-generating system could bring car racing into the green era
Formula One: Photo by Paul Williams (CC Licensed)

Is Formula One racing out of step with an auto industry whose greatest innovations have been in the area of fuel economy? Maybe so, but not for long. The sport's governing body is pushing to introduce hybrid-drive systems in competitive racecars, beginning in the 2009 season. That's when F1 will require teams to install a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS), which uses a rapidly spinning flywheel to store a decelerating vehicle’s kinetic energy, which would otherwise be wasted, and channel it back to the car's drive system. The sanctioning group, Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), has defined the amount of energy recovery for the 2009 season as 400 kilojoules per lap, giving the driver an extra 80 horsepower over a period of 6.67 seconds. We asked Adrian Moore, Technical Director of Xtrac a few questions about the Formula One KERS system the company developed with partner firms Flybrid and Torotrak.

Q. Explain KERS to a five-year-old. OK, a really smart five-year-old.
A. As a car slows, instead of wasting the energy used to slow the car—that from the heat radiated through the brakes—it is stored, and then re-used later to help accelerate the car. The energy can be stored in a battery, or in a flywheel.

Adrian Moore: Jon Hilton of Flybrid, Adrian Moore of Xtrac and Dick Elsy of Torotrak with their compact flywheel and CVT variator for the KERS system.
Q. What about your particular KERS system makes it best suited for F1 racing?
A. The Flybrid KERS system for which we supply the CVT [transmission] is quite compact, very light and reacts very quickly.

Q. Why not an electrical hybrid system for F1?
A. Electrical systems could be used in F1, and probably will be by some people. However we believe they will be considerably heavier than a mechanical flywheel based system.

Q. Could KERS's short-term horsepower boost change Formula One racers' on-track strategy?
A. Yes. In a number of ways. For example it may increase the top speed of the vehicle, reduce the time to get from the start to the first corner, or reduce the lap time.

Q. How do you envision KERS being adapted for road cars?
A. As a cost effective and simple method of reducing the fuel used and reducing emissions. The driver would not necessarily be aware of the system on the car, it would work in the background, controlled by electronics.

Q. If you could see KERS used in one current passenger car model, which would it be and why?
A. We are working as part of a consortium with Jaguar Land-Rover to develop the technology for road car use, so I would say the ideal car would be one from their range.

Adrian Moore joined Rolls Royce in 1984 as a sponsored undergraduate student and graduated from Hatfield Polytechnic with an honours degree in Mechanical Engineering . After graduation he remained at Rolls Royce until 1992 working as a designer in the field of Advanced Engineering. Adrian joined Xtrac in 1992, working as a Design Engineer on various transmission projects . During his stay at Ferrari Design and Development Center, he designed various parts and systems for the 1997 Ferrari F310B . He then joined McLaren International as a Design Engineer working almost entirely on suspension systems, which culminated in the World Championship winning MP4/13 and MP4/14 . He rejoined Xtrac at the start of 1999 as the Chief Engineer with technical responsibility for Xtrac. In January 2002, Adrian was appointed to the new position of Technical Director.

Processing Beauty

Open source goes highbrow with an algorithmically generated jewelry line that mimics nature
Nervous System Earrings: Photo by Nervous System

Diehard Arduino users know that Processing is the framework that is used for building a sketch into an ATmega168 AVR project. Well, step aside, Arduino, because there’s a new maker on the block: Nervous System.

Founded by jewelry designers Jessica Rosenkrantz and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg, Nervous System actually grows" one-of-a-kind bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and brooches from two of the most unlikely of technological advancements. The first is the open-source programming initiative called Processing. Rosenkrantz and Louis-Rosenberg used Processing to build two algorithms (a particle system one called Radiolaria and a diffusion limited aggregation called Dendrite), which users can manipulate via applets on the Nervous System site.

Think nature's sea creatures, diatoms, coral, and seaweed meet Mr. Algorithm. The result is unique and beautiful patterns that can be transformed into fine jewelry. And that’s where the second bit of technology enters the picture -- the fabrication process. WaterJets, photochemical metal etching, silicone rubber, recycled rubber, and recycled stainless steel with gold plating are all used in the making of each jewelry piece.

In addition to generating your own, you can purchase already created designs. While modestly priced (for instance, the Full Moon gold Dendrite necklace is $70) these are occasionally limited-edition designs. So you'd be better off getting Processing today. Better yet, use the Nervous System applets to create your own lineup of nature-inspired jewelry. Christmas is just five months away.

Concussion sensors for kids

After years of researching blows to adult heads, scientists divert their energies to the peewee set
At Greater Risk?: Photo by Jug Jones(CC Licensed)

With grownups from the NFL to the DOD paranoid about concussions, it’s about time the research community asked, “What about kids?” Research published this month in the Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology offers a unique look into how hard kids are getting hit in hockey. The findings suggest players are suffering the biggest blows to the tops of their heads.

Fourteen hockey players, at an average age of 13 years old, were monitored during the 2006-2007 season (58 games and 51 practices). Standard hockey helmets were retrofitted with the Head Impact Telemetry System from Simbex allowing simultaneous tracking of the entire team. Inside each helmet six linear accelerometers, a wireless transmitter and a battery pack sent real time data on exactly how hard and where on the helmet each player was hit. The HIT system has been used extensively in Division-I college football for similar studies, but this is the first such investigation of youth hockey.

A total of 4,543 impacts were analyzed with an average impact of 20g and a median of 71 impacts for each player per game. The data showed no difference in impacts between defenseman and forwards, but did find that hits were significantly greater during games than in practice. Perhaps most surprising was the data regarding impact location. Players were at least three times as likely to receive an impact over 80g to the top of the head than to the front, back, left or right. Bad form in developing players might be the cause of this unexpected trend. While defining an exact concussion threshold will likely never occur, previous research in football has suggested a greater likelihood of concussions at impacts above this level. Interestingly, of the 41 impacts above 80g detected, only one resulted in a concussion.

So, what does all this mean? In short, nobody knows. The specific findings regarding impacts to the top of the head might suggest equipment modifications, rule changes or a need for greater emphasis on technique. Whether 71 impacts per game at 20g’s can cause long-term cognitive problems isn’t won't be answered anytime soon. The NFL has been at the forefront in concussion research but seems to unearth more questions than answers with each publication. But, what’s certain is that a shift in focus from the old to young is both necessary and overdue. Better late than never.

New Study shows pollution slowing global warming

A new study throws yet another wrench into our understanding of global climate change
Of Sun and Smog: Photo by Edwin Maolana (CC Licensed)
Wait, now pollution is preventing global warming? That’s the conclusion of a recent study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, which says rising temperatures seen in Europe over the last few years result as much from the reduction of air pollution as from the creation of it. The research, which looked at the effects of aerosols on climate, confirms an older concept known as global dimming, and complicates our understanding of how mankind affects the climate.

According to the study, temperatures in Europe have risen over the past 28 years far faster than could be explained by the greenhouse effect alone. After looking at the aerosol concentrations in the atmosphere in six spots, the authors of the paper realized the temperature rise was assisted by more sunlight penetrating the newly pollution free skies. It seems that the stricter pollution standards, adopted in part to slow global warming, may have sped it up.

The idea that pollution may be reflecting some of the sun’s energy is not new. The term global dimming is decades old, and some believed that the reduction in pollution was the cause global warming. But now, with the link between greenhouse gas pollution and global warming firmly established, papers like this one highlight how complex the situation is, and how solutions like simply cutting air pollution may have a range of unintended and counterintuitive consequences.

2009 BMW 7 series New Era video

The Pirate Bay Wants to Encrypt the Entire Internet

The team behind the popular torrent site The Pirate Bay has started to work on a new encryption technology that could potentially protect all Internet traffic from prying eyes. The project, which is still in its initial stages, goes by the name “Transparent end-to-end encryption for the Internets,” or IPETEE for short. It tackles encryption not on the application level, but on the network level, the aim being that all data exchanged on your PC would be encrypted, regardless of its nature — be it a web browser streaming video files or an instant messaging client. As Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij (a.k.a. Tiamo) told me, “Even applications that don’t supporting encryption will be encrypted where possible.”

Neij came up with the idea for IPETEE back when European politicians were starting to debate a Europe-wide move to DMCA-like copyright enforcement efforts, which were eventually authorized in the form of the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive in the spring of 2007. “I wanted to come up with something to make it harder for data retention,” said Neij. But he didn’t publish the initial draft proposal until early this month, when the discussion about privacy and surveillance online suddenly became urgent again. The Swedish parliament passed a new law in June that allows a local government agency to snoop on “the telephony, emails, and web traffic of millions of innocent individuals,” as the EFF’s Danny O’Brien put it. Neij promises that his new encryption scheme will be ready before the law takes effect next January.

IPETEE will likely be implemented as an add-on to operating systems like Windows and OS X. It will essentially do its work in the background, handling all incoming and outgoing IP traffic without any further interference from the user.

Let’s say you want to open a video download from a remote machine. IPETEE would first test whether the remote machine is supporting the crypto technology; once that’s confirmed it would then exchange encryption keys with the machine before transmitting your actual request and sending the video file your way. All data would automatically be unscrambled once it reaches your machine, so there would be no need for your media player or download manager to support any new encryption technologies. And if the remote machine didn’t know how to handle encryption, the whole transfer would fall back to an unencrypted connection.

Neij told me that IPETEE could be easily implemented for data transfers between end users, such as files shared through P2P. “The proof-of-concept code will be available both on Windows and Linux,” he explained, but the next step would be to make it scalable and available for operations in a server-based environment so that administrators could use IPETEE to protect their users’ web or email transmissions.

IPETEE could be a big step towards standardizing the encryption of web, email and even VoIP traffic, but it wouldn’t protect against all types of interference. Your ISP could still kill your video downloads via BitTorrent, because newer traffic management solutions can identify P2P transfers by simply looking at the patterns of your uploads and downloads and not at the individual data packets. It could also potentially slow down certain transfers, because it takes time to establish encrypted connections. There might be other flaws in the architecture of the IPETEE system as well, which is why Neij’s team is currently talking to crypto and network experts. But he seemed optimistic that he would have at least a proof of concept implementation ready by the end of the year.

Of course, the Pirate Bay folks don’t exactly have a good track record when it comes to following through with their plans. NewTeeVee alumn Jackson West pointed out back in March that long-planned projects like The Video Bay, the music site PlayBle and a new and secure P2P protocol have yet to be launched, and that’s still true today. Adding an ambitious project like IPETEE to the list doesn’t seem likely to solve that problem, but maybe this time Neij and his crew will overcome their ADD.

Ten Best Rims in Autodom

Here we go Letterman style- Number 10........

10. 2008 Volkswagen GTI

Volkswagen needed to do something about the inherent cutesiness of the fifth-generation Rabbit if enthusiasts were going to take the GTI seriously, regardless of its mechanical and performance credentials. Making a car look tough is most easily accomplished by slamming it on a set of big wheels, and is the route VW chose. The GTI's rollers are not just large, at 17 inches in diameter, but large-looking, accomplished by glomming a bunch of metal on the wheel faces. The result is a tough-looking wheel that provides the cred to back up the GTI’s moves.


9. 2008 Porsche 911 GT3 RS

Porsche could stick a set of wheels modeled on cow pies on a GT3 RS and they’d still be transformed into something sexy by context alone, but Stuttgart did it right with a set of spidery räder, available in black or bright orange. Porsche was one of the first manufacturers to understand the aesthetic possibilities of contrasting wheel colors, and used it to devastating effect on the black/orange and orange/black GT3 RS. Under the glossy paint are lightweight aluminum wheels wrapped in the kind of expensive, sticky rubber that helps generate 0.99 g on the skidpad.


8. 2008 Infiniti G37

Infiniti and Nissan clawed their way back into the black with a blend of products as strong on style as they are on performance. The G37’s big, cast aluminum wheels feature spokes carefully contoured to showcase the four-piston brake calipers and large-diameter rotors. Infiniti succeeded in fitting a set of wheels that few customers, even enthusiasts, feel compelled to swap out for something more sporty looking.


7. 2008 Lamborghini LP560-4

Lamborghini, being an exotic Italian carmaker, is allowed to do things like name its wheel styles. Sculpted from aluminum, the basket-weave Cordelia is one of three available wheels on the LP560-4. Lamborghini has a long history of outfitting their outrageous cars with love-’em-or-hate-’em wheels, but this fitment offends no one. Strong and light, this classic wheel style has been attached to racing and tuner cars for the last several decades. The glow of polished aluminum is a welcome alternative to the glare of chrome, and looks just as good standing still as it does at the LP560-4’s 202-mph top speed.


6. 2008 Lotus Exige S

Mechanically optimal designs tend to be modest and beautiful, and this wheel is no exception; give a dozen engineers requirements for maximum strength and minimum weight and eleven of them will give you something like this. Hewn from aluminum, they are featherweight rims for a flyweight car. Apart from looking incredibly bitchin’, the matte-black finish does a fine job of masking matte-black brake dust, which aggressive brake pads shed like dandruff.

5. 2008 Audi A5

Saab and Porsche popularized the twisted-spoke aesthetic, and Audi makes it its own with the opposing push/pull propeller look. Cast in aluminum, these wheels provide the illusion of fairly thin spokes, visually lightening the stylish, solid-looking A5. Movement implied in the spokes is an echo of the A5’s fluid, dynamic lines. Each pair of fan blades actually comprises one solid, beefy spoke, allowing these none-too-light wheels to carry their share of the nearly two-ton A5.


4. 2008 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

The most exotic factory Corvette to ever scorch pavement rides on equally exotic wheels. The ZR1 wears aluminum rollers, 19 inches in diameter in the front and 20 inches in the rear; the latter are also a foot wide. Such giant wheels are necessary to house platter-sized carbon-ceramic rotors 15.5 inches in diameter in the front, very similar to those on the Bugatti Veyron; the rears were plucked from the front of a Ferrari Enzo. One of the few available options on the ZR1 is chrome plating for the wheels, a $2000 flag to be flown by weenies proving they’re undeserving of such a vehicle, as chrome plating adds weight.


3. 2008 Audi R8

The R8’s nontraditional form took the design world by storm, and what fuels its popularity is honesty, not obfuscation and “flame-sculpting” rubbish. Functional simplicity defines the R8’s split-spoke aluminum wheels. Generous airspace between spokes highlights the R8’s huge, eight-piston calipers and cross-drilled rotors in the front and four-piston calipers in the rear. The bow of the spokes both adds strength and accentuates width, the measurement associated with fat tires, supercars, and other stuff that makes hearts of the automotively inclined go pitter patter.


2. 2008 Alfa Romeo 8C

The 20-inch rotelle on Alfa Romeo’s jaw-dropping 8C are like bespoke cufflinks on a tailored shirt—they bring a little bling, and serve to highlight what they’re attached to. While the wheels may be heavy-looking, they are made from forged aluminum and so are decently light for their size. In a design age of hard lines and crisp transitions, the 8C is a sexy, curvy delight, and its wheels—essentially five “Cs” radiating out from the hub—expand on this philosophy.


1. 2008 Ferrari 430 Scuderia

To make the F430, currently the “cheapest” sled from Maranello, capable of lapping Fiorano as fast as an Enzo, Ferrari transformed it into the 430 Scuderia. The power-to-weight ratio was shifted around by adding 20 ponies and pulling out pounds, around 220 of them. Unsprung weight was attacked by installing carbon-ceramic brake rotors and lightweight 19-inch wheels. There’s no fat to trim off this wheel style, very similar to the wheels on the Porsche GT3, and the gold color helps paint a realistic picture of the car’s quarter-million-dollar price tag.

All excellent choices except the VW GTI rims which I never liked. Not so sure on the 430 Scuderia either- somehow Subaru should own Gold rims- kind of their trademark. Anyway, the car itself is so great, maybe the rims get chosen just so people can talk about this incredible machine.

Chismillionaire can't quite comprehend some omissions and better alternative choices... First off, Chismillionaire would prefer Lamborghini's Callisto rim in Black over the Cordelia rim.

The BMW M5 rims & M3 19" rim also are excellent and should find their way onto any top 10.

Three cheers for the Corvette ZR1 rims, however Chismillionaire prefers the new Q44 spyder style on the Z06 for 2009 below

Audi's RS4/S8 rims are better than the R8 rims in my opinion.

Chismillionaire's favorite and a glaring omission in my opinion would be the Bentley Continental GT Speed rim- Simply stunning and elegant while needing to fit the mosntrous ceramic brakes.

Audi TT RS could have I5 or V6 power

Since its introduction in 1999, the Audi TT has been known for its unique look — and its lackluster performance. The TT hasn't exactly been slow, but its lack of serious horsepower made it more of an image car than a true driver's coupe. This might change with the introduction of the 2009 Audi TT-RS, an all-out performance version of the stylish TT.

Caught testing on the Nürburgring test track, the top-of-the-line TT wears several telltale design elements that identify it as a high-performance RS model. Up front, the TT-RS has the same metallic trim across the grille as the TTS, but closer inspection reveals large air intakes at each corner in place of foglights. Other styling differences include seven-spoke wheels and a pair of oval tailpipes, a signature RS design cue.

It's hard to peg which engine will provide the power for the TT-RS at this point. Early rumors suggested a turbocharged five-cylinder, but the recent introduction of Audi's new 3.0-liter TFSI V6 suggests otherwise. The new supercharged motor is expected to develop roughly 300 horsepower in U.S. trim, a number that would put the TT-RS a solid notch above the TTS with its turbocharged 265-hp inline-4. Expect one of Audi's S tronic dual-clutch gearboxes with either six gears or possibly even seven.

Like all RS models, the TT version will also get a retuned suspension, larger wheels and tires and upgraded brakes. Minor interior upgrades will be part of the package as well. Given the lack of camouflage on this test mule, expect a public introduction in the next few months, with U.S sales starting by early next year.