Jan 20, 2011

De-Smell Your Dell With A USB Scent Flower

Men! Do you smell so bad that even your laptop has started stinking? Desperate times call for desperate measures, which means you might just have to consider this USB scent flower.

As your lookey-holes can see, it's in the shape of a flower, but don't let that put you off. You can't put a price on a harmonious working environment, nor be too picky about aesthetics. Besides, each bouquet—which retails for $9.99—has three refill cartridges which last for months. The USB flowers come in different colors and scents, so every day can be an Ocean Breeze, Purple Lavender, Pink Jasmine or White Chamomile day. Shop.

DSLR Tiny Spy Camcorder

If you thought those micro four-thirds cameras were pricey for their size, get a load of this Japanese spy camera. Considering it costs $120 and weighs just 12g, it might just be the most expensive camera per millimeter ever.

The actual size is 2.5cm x 2.5cm x 2.6cm, and it shoots video at 640 x 480 resolution. Photos can be taken too, at 1600 x 1200 res, plus there's even a mono speaker within that tiny casing. It takes microSD cards for recording onto, and has a miniUSB port for transferring footage to PCs. You can find them here.

Jan 19, 2011

Steve Jobs Action Figure Now Equipped with Ninja Stars

The world may never know whether Steve Jobs actually packed ninja stars on that fateful flight to Japan, but in the (extremely likely) event that he didn't, you can recreate the fantasy on your own. In action figure form!

The newest model figurine some pretty intricate updates—a wedding band on Steve's hand, more durable glasses, and, of course, a handful of Ninjutsu weaponry. He's even got a mystical white iPhone 4, probably acquired with lightning ninja dexterity.You can find it here.

This Watch Could Star In Terminator 5

If you look very closely at the Urwerk UR-110 watch, you can just about make out a face. Not, like, a watch face. The face of an uncaring machine delivered to us with some nefarious intent.

The UR-110 has a confusing layout, but is actually quite practical; by placing the time on the watch's right edge, you can see be subtle when you're checking just how long that presentation's been droning on. And amongst all that raw titanium, there's still a touch of whimsy: a "Oil Change" indicator that alerts you if your watch needs service.

My favorite part? Urwerk hasn't decided on a price yet.

Charge All Your Gadgets Using This Multi-Charger

Most multi-chargers bore me to tears, but JoyFactory's Zip, Touch-n-go looks like it was designed by people who actually care what these things look like on your desk. It uses magnets to connect the gadgets' cables to the charging-pod.

It's not on sale yet, however JoyFactory claims it'll come in somewhere between $49 and $99. 

Jan 18, 2011

Turn Your Office Chair Into An Office Bed In Seconds

If every office chair converted into a narrow bed-like furniture item like this, I'd be in heaven—there'd finally be an excuse for all those accidental office naps.

Whisky in a Can Is the Best Thing in a Can

Scottish Spirits, despite the name, is not a Scottish liquor company. It's based in Panama. But that's not important. What is important is that it sellswhisky in a can. Real, straight whisky. 12 ounces of it. In a can.

Again, it's not scotch. That's okay. It's eight shots of whisky. In a can. For the first time ever.

No, it's not sold in the US. Not yet. But I can safely say, after seeing many things in a can, whisky is the best one yet.

Science Has Found the Best Way to Cure Your Hangover

Finally, a reason for science to exist: A researcher in Philadelphia (of course!) has discovered the single most effective cure for a hangover. And it's really pretty simple.

Coffee and aspirin. That's it! So much simpler than my current cures of "building a time machine and preventing myself from drinking the night before," and, if that fails, "staring at the wall until the day is over." This is all according to Thomas Jefferson University's Michael Oshinsky, who, no joke, gave rats hangovers:
Ethanol brings on headaches thanks to a chemical acetate it can produce and even low doses can affect some people more than others, said the study.
Professor Michael Oshinsky, of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, induced headaches in rats using small amounts of ethanol.
He then gave them doses of caffeine and anti-inflammatories to find it blocked the acetate and relieved the headaches.
Is this real? Well, it's science, so it has to be! But what does it mean?

For one thing, that dehydration isn't the cause of hangovers—the rats Oshinksy got drunk weren't dehydrated—so don't worry about coffee further dehydrating you. For another, all the weird cures your roommate is always trying to make you take—"A raw-egg-and-vodka wheatgrass shot? And I have to drink it from the opposite side of the glass? Are you sure about this?"—aren't even as effective as what your grandfather (and grandmother) were taking.

Jan 17, 2011

There's a DIY Gastric Bypass Surgery Kit For Sale on Amazon

For those considering gastric bypass surgery, take a look at Amazon's do-it-yourself kit. It's only $260 (cheap!) and comes with 3 sets (so you don't have to get it right the first time!). Bring your own anesthetics and instructions, though.

Rainbow Shots Turn Even More Rainbow In Your Stomach...Honest

There's not much you can say about this video of a bartender pouring out a series of rainbow-hued shots than WOW. I wonder if they all tasted different?

My guess, if so, would be yes, yes they do. I think I can spot algae, cucumber, '70s bathtub, earwax, urine, raw sausage, pureed carrot, rust, and bloodied water. 

This Is What It's Like to Stare a Black Hole In the Eye

If you ever got close enough to a black hole to get this view, you'd be on your way to anextremely horrible death and possibly other universes. So, uh, thank goodness for the magic of the internet?

What you're looking at is a computer-generated image, posted by NASA today, that shows the visual distortions that take place as light bends towards the immensely strong gravitational forces:

Every star in the normal frame has at least two bright images—one on each side of the black hole. Near the black hole, you can see the whole sky - light from every direction is bent around and comes back to you.

So that's what it's like to stare a black hole dead in the eye. It's sure less scarier than falling into one.

Jan 16, 2011

Sony Ericsson's Xperia Arc Has a New Type of Display

What the hell, Sony Ericsson? "Reality Display"!? Are you just jealous of Apple's Retina Display; Samsung's Super AMOLED Plus and LG's NOVA buzzwords? Whatever, this Android Gingerbread phone is slim at 8.7mm—yes, a new "world's slimmest" phone.

You've got to feel for LG really, who had barely a day riding the "world's slimmest" float with their 9.2mm Optimus Black, and before it the iPhone 4, which is a shade thicker.

The Arc has a 4.2-inch Reality Display with 854 x 480 resolution, which they say brings a brighter, clearer picture than other displays thanks to the "Mobile Bravia Engine". There's an 8.1MP camera on the back (no forward-facing cam here), and two color options: midnight blue and misty silver.

Charm the iPhone Snake to Sit 'Round Your Neck

This patent-pending iPhone neck-mount has dual uses. It can slither around your neck for hands-free viewing while on the go, or coil up on the desk in front of you, for stationary media-watching.

Jan 15, 2011

Did You Know It Costs More Than a Penny to Make a Penny?

I just found out that it costs more than a penny to manufacture a penny. Specifically, it costs 1.62 cents to produce that 1 cent copper coin. And that's been the case for a while now! What the hell?

Why's it cost so much? Apparently, the penny is made from 2.5% copper and 97.5% zinc and those metals have gone up in price as of late. In fact, if you could melt the coin, you'd have materials totaling 1.62 cents—more than the cent that measly penny is worth. That's crazy! What's crazier is that it's been that way since 2006. Aren't useful things supposed to be greater than the sum of its parts? Shouldn't they have changed the metal mixture to something cheaper by now?

Apparently, the director of the Mint tried to make the penny cheaper to manufacture but Congress shut that initiative down. As it currently stands, the Treasury boss can "recommend changes in metal content or in the amount of coins produced" but only Congress can make the final decision.

So maybe it'll eventually become worth the money to make! Though really, I figured this loss in manufacturing would make for a good reason to kill off the penny (I mean, who likes pennies?). But with old school Congress calling the shots, I doubt that'd ever happen—no matter how useless and expensive pennies become.

What Do Kings Use for Ringtones?

Would you believe me if I said that King Juan Carlos of Spain has the sound of giggling children set as his ringtone? And that it went off during a meeting with a Honduran ambassador?

According to Spanish newspaper El Pais, the King was shooting the breeze with a Honduran ambassador when the ringtone piped in:
But before accusing him of break and understand it's probably his GRANDCHILDREN. Juan Carlos never said what the ringtone actually was, but AOL news mentioned that he has a whole bunch of of the little runts, which would make sense. Moral of the story? The sensibilities of "royalty"—whatever that now means—are just as middlebrow as your own.

Can A Shirt Pocket Ever Be Too Big?

Can shirt pockets ever be too big? Can you appear sane with a netbook crammed into your chest pocket? No matter the answers, this weird shirt can be ordered now for $30 here.

South Korean Scientists Transmit Broadband Signals Through Human Arm

Human skin is apparently a very energy-efficient conduit for transmitting data. A recent experiment achieved a rate of 10Mbps, which may put my Internet connection to shame. The experiment used small, flexible electrodes and took place at Korea University.

The finding may lead to a new generation of medical devices that can monitor blood sugar or electrical activity in the heart. Such devices cut energy needs for a monitoring network by about 90 percent compared to wireless devices running on batteries.

South Korean researchers placed electrodes about 12 inches (30 centimeters) apart on a person's arm, and found that the low-frequency electromagnetic waves travel easily through the skin without any outside interference.

The South Korean study improved on past attempts by using tiny metal electrodes coated with a silicon-rich polymer, which allowed the device to bend at a 90-degree angle 700,000 times without incident. Each electrode was just about the width of three human hairs.

This may not seem all that surprising coming from South Korea, known as perhaps one of the most wired places on Earth for Internet. But we can't help but wonder if the researchers hadn't been watching some Battlestar Galactica goodness, given the tendency for a certain Cylon (played by Grace Park) to plug data cables into her arm for a bit of computer-on-computer consultation — not that we're talking about brains communicating directly with devices just yet.

Jan 14, 2011

A Map of the First Internet

This is Arpanet. The internet before Google. Before Flickr, before YouTube, before BitTorrent. Before pictures of your ex-girlfriend on Facebook. An internet that you could draw a map of with only a few lines and some dots. 1972.

At this point, the internet wasn't even the internet—still dubbed ARPANET, the Pentagon (and a handful of universities') private plaything. As you can see, it wasn't exactly extensive. The network served only to link key research centers. It's pretty amazing to think that this smattering of cables turned into the bizarre, twisted, incredibly complex nebula of porn, parody, knowledge hatred, joy, and cat videos we now adore.

Will It Blend? - Chrome Notebook

BlackBerry's Storm Line Looks Far From Dead With Pumped-Up Storm 3 Leak

It has a 3.7-inch display with 800 x 480 resolution (which will be the highest for a BlackBerry phone ever), along with a 1.2GHz processor to match therumored Torch 2 speed, and a 5MP camera that shoots video at 720p. Supposedly it'll have 8GB of storage, plus 512MB of RAM, and will be able to hotspot like the other two rumored handsets.

The Storm line has stumbled a few times, with talk that RIM might even kill the whole series off, but it looks set to be back on track with this far more powerful third model.

How to Attract Boys

Jan 13, 2011

Sony Telling People The PSP2 Is As Powerful As A PS3

It's part of a clear strategy Sony has for the upcoming (and still not yet officially unveiled) handheld, which is that it's "specifically requesting richer, more in-depth content to differentiate its device from app-centric Apple and Android devices."

Like its own PlayStation Phone, for example.

This all collaborates what Kotaku previously reported — that the PSP2 may rival consoles in horsepower. EA honcho John Riccitiello also told Kotaku, "Having something as powerful as a PlayStation 3 in your pocket is a pretty compelling idea."

The same report claims that while downloads will play a big part in the system's game library, the PSP2 will also use physical media so that its games can be sold in retail stores. It also states the handheld will be out in Q4 2011, possibly as early as October.

There's even word it may include some kind of phone (remember, the current PSP can be used as a Skype device), though "not as a primary function".

Before you spit internet coffee all over yourself, remember the PSP2 probably won't actuallybe as powerful as a PS3. But on a smaller screen, it should manage — just like the PSP did with the PS2 — to appear as though it's pretty close.

Kotaku is following up with Sony and will update should the company comment.

Mordor Is Real, and It's In Sicily

It's been nearly 350 years since Mt. Etna blew its top in a major way. Until yesterday, when Europe's largest active volcano spewed hot lava for two hours—within shouting distance of these people's houses. Location, location, location.

Fortunately the eruption didn't cause any injuries or damage, which means that the residents of this volcanic village were treated to an amazing fire show.

A Menu with Healthy Options May Make You Choose Unhealthier Meals

A recent study suggests that simply seeing healthy choices on a menu satisfies our desire to be healthy, causing us to be more likely to choose more indulgent foods when we actually place our order.

Daniel A. Marano at Psychology Today, explains:
Context is just as telling when it comes to that all-important piece of real estate known as the restaurant menu. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that the mere presence of healthy offerings on a menu or on display in a restaurant or even in a vending machine can often be enough to vicariously satisfy our long-term health and nutrition goals-and trick our brains into allowing us to make more indulgent food selections, ones we would not otherwise make.
It's unlikely that restaurants will ever remove their unhealthy (but probably delicious) menu selections. Next time you're checking out your options and find yourself leaning towards the fried hamburger, keep in mind that the menu might be inadvertently messing with your head.

Jan 12, 2011

Real Magic Mouse for Windows

Microsoft's Touch Mouse for Windows 7 is a lot like Apple's Magic Mouse: The top is a capacitive, multitouch sensor. The difference? The Touch Mouse was actually designed to be used by humans.

It's the best touch experience on Windows yet. No surprise, 'cause Microsoft's designed the Touch Mouse's drivers and software, which is what really ties everything together. The ergonomics are quite solid too—unlike the Magic Mouse, which is passable, but not great. As you can guess, the hatches dotted all over the mouse mark the touch area.

The list of gestures is quite familiar:

• One finger scrolls in any direction inside of a window
• Swiping your thumb up and down acts like the back and forward buttons common on Windows mice
• Two fingers to the left or right activates Aero Snap, pinning the selected window to the side; two fingers up or down minimizes or opens minimized windows
• Three fingers—wait for it—activates a Mac OS X Expose-like view, showing all of your windows in a neat grid.

It's a little pricey at $80 when it comes out in June, but for a taste of what touch should be like in Windows, it could be worth it.

The Return of the Boxxy

iPhone Game Boy Case

Due to copyright concerns, Incipio will never sell this Game Boy case for the iPhone—but that didn't stop them from showing it off.

Jan 11, 2011

What Was This Person Thinking?

This is a mask that keeps a fresh patch of soil pressed to your face in order to force you to smell grass while listening to your own breath through the attached headphones. What are artists thinking lately?

The piece is called "The Open" and was created by Mattia Casalegno who describes the work as something which "plays with the Deleuzian notion of "ritornell" (refrain), and about the quality of sound to define a territory."

Assemble Your Very Own Human with This Life-Sized Model Kit

Artist Wayne Chisnall created a pre-assembly model kit of himself. The 12 body parts, er, pieces are all attached to a plastic frame and when put together, is just as big as his real-life self. Like having a life-sized action figure!

This is totally how I imagine how human droids will be made in the near future. Only not lime green.

Take a Bath in a Waterfall

The Aquamass Parure bathtub is clever! Designer Elvis Pompilio used crystalline pearls backlight by LEDs to make it look like the tub is constantly overflowing with water. Like taking a bath in a waterfall. Or in Avatar-world too, I guess.

Jan 10, 2011

Extravagant iPhone Case Artwork Comes with a Price to Match

Word out of CES is that Intel execs revealed their true feelings about Windows 7 on tablets. Apparently, they lobbied for Microsoft to make a more tablet-friendly OS. Microsoft said no.

 According to Cnet, here's what Tom Kilroy, Senior Vice President of Marketing, had to say:

"Hey, we tried to get [Microsoft] to do a tablet OS (operating system) for a long time. Us, and others like Dell," said Tom Kilroy, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Sales and Marketing Group, speaking to CNET at an Intel function last night.

Looks like we're not the only ones who think full-blown Win 7 on a tablet is a bad idea.

Grate That Bar of Soap Like It's a Block of Cheap Cheddar

The designer may cite ecological reasons for eschewing the liquid soap for a bar of soap, but me? I just love the sheer brilliance of this concept. Grated soap! I demand all public toilets fit them immediately. 

Oh hey, your delightfully tacky Louis Vuitton Belt Buckle is ringing

Rarely do ostentatiously tacky and expensive rich people things look gaudy and do something useful at the same time. That's still the case here, as this curious Louis Vuitton belt buckle continues the trend. It's also a cellphone, you see!

Jan 9, 2011

Retro-Looking Analarm Wristwatch Awakens Wearer with Vibration

Hate the buzzer alarm clock, as I do? Radio station alarm mode not up to the task? Maybe vibration will get you out of bed. Since vibrating beds are expensive and a bit tacky, check out this Analarm wristwatch instead.

It's certainly not cheap at $450, but for those of us looking for a trendy, reto way to get up in the morning (and without waking others, perhaps), this could do the trick.

This Is What Happens When Polaroid Lets Lady Gaga Design Something

Lady Gaga stood up on stage and proclaimed "This is the camera of the future." This futurecam also happens to be a set of shades with a outward-facing 1.4-inch OLED display under each eye. Funky.

The whole world can see itself from your perspective, as images stream from the camera mounted in the bridge of the glasses. Or you can throw in an SD card and play something else. Like photos of your dog. Or your kids. Or a video of a vacation—anything that's in your mind's eye can be literally on your eyes for the world to see.

The spec-obsessed Gaga (remember those rad cigarette shades from Telephone?)says she came up with the concept for the glasses on her Fameball tour. She had a pair of glasses made with iPod screens as lenses; then, using her juice as Polaroid's creative director, she brought the idea to the instacam company and Polarez GL20s were born.

You can share the fabulous photos and videos you take with these glasses with a disguised removable USB in the earpiece, or send pictures straight to a printer via Bluetooth. They'll be available around springtime this year, though pricing information is not available yet.

Jan 8, 2011

An iPhone Case That Opens Beer Bottles Too

The iBottle iPhone case combines two of the modern man's most used tools—his phone and a bottle opener—in one. This way, you'll always know where your phone is when you drink.

It's 20 bucks for the 3G/3GS version. The iPhone 4 version is available for pre-order (for the same price) and coming this month.

Wooden Cuckoo Clock Disguises the Reason You're So Cool

I love this wooden fan from Dutch designer Luc Van Hoeckel, who used the original Black Forest design of cuckoo clocks to create a self-propelling fan. Once the weight-toggles are dropped, the fan starts churning. Beautiful.

It's a Chair, It's Made From Wood and It's Flexible

Wooden furniture is easy on the eyes, but not always the most comfortable thing to sit on for extended periods. This "Spring Wood" design aims to change that, by cutting wooden chairs in such a way that they become flexible.

Jan 7, 2011

The Nike+ SportWatch GPS Has TomTom and an Attitude

It's a new year, which means new resolutions to get in shape. Let technology help you! Don't fight it! The Nike+ SportWatch, powered by TomTOM GPS, will bug you when you forget to run and encourage you when you do.

It's like your own personal trainer...on your wrist! The SportWatch GPS will bug you with run reminders when you haven't logged a run in five days, you'll get "attaboys" for achieving run records, and you can plug the watch directly into your computer to interface with

Never Worry About Expired Food Again

Developed by British professor Andrew Mills, this bag stores food and reacts to changes in the food chemicals or the oxygen levels inside the bag. When the those changes reach a certain point, the bag changes color. And if you have yet to open the food in question, it will also change color if its seal has been broken.

The UK government says its citizens waste over 400,000 tons of food a year, nearly 40,000 tons of which was never opened. They estimate this bag could help reduce waste by 8.3 tons in the UK.

Verizon's First LTE Wi-Fi Hotspots

Until now, all of Verizon's 4G has been packed inside dongles. Samsung and Novatel's LTE hotspots will let you spread the 4G around with Wi-Fi. Slightly thicker than the old MiFi.

No price or date—or battery life spec—for Samsung's 4G Hotspot or Novatel's MiFi 4510L yet, unfortunately. Just that they'll support up to 5 devices.

Jan 6, 2011

Man Survives Without Using Soap For 18 Months—Could You?

What would happen if you went a year and a half without washing with soap and shampoo? Would your girlfriend ditch you? Friends loathe having to invite you 'round? Or, like Richard Nikoley and Sean Bonner, would life just...go on?

Nikoley's gone without either for 18 months now, and Bonner, inspired by Nikoley, just a year. Both claim life is much easier now, with Nikoley seeing some pleasant bonuses:
"What I've found over these 18 months is that I never even thought of the money I was saving. Hell, a decent sized bottle of shampoo and body wash would last me months anyway. Oh, and then there's the travel size versions. No, what has made this experience oh so satisfying is that I don't have to worry about any of that anymore — ever. Don't have to buy it. Don't have to carry it. Don't ever run out of it. Don't have to get it tossed in the dumpster by TSA goons."
Bonner, writing on Boing Boing, can't see himself ever going back to buying bottles of chemicals:
"The future? I will definitely be sticking with this. I'm still annoyed it took me 35 years to learn what I clearly already knew as a baby kicking and screaming when my parents tried to wash my hair. At least that's what I want to assume I knew back then. I know now, but I'd still rather not think about how much I spent on soap and shampoo and related products over the years when they were likely causing all the problems I was trying to protect against."
Supposedly one in 230 million people around the world are allergic to water, and cannot bathe without their skin being brought out in rashes, so suffer far worse than Nikoley and Bonner would if forced into a shower with a bar of soap. But would you go 18 months without using cleansing products on your skin or hair?

Jan 5, 2011

Samsung's 9 Series Laptop Takes the MacBook Air Head-On

It looks like the 13-inch MacBook Air finally has some serious competition: the 13-inchSamsung 9 Series is a shade lighter, a touch thinner, and looks like the Air's evil twin.

The differences in size and weight may amount to not much more than a rounding error—2.89 pounds to the Air's 2.9, and profiles of .64 inches versus .68—but its black metal finish and sleek curves make it look like it belongs on the deck of the Death Star.

The 9 Series packs a 1.4GHz second-gen Core i5 processor, including Intel's much-improved integrated graphics, and claims a downright decent 6.5 hours of battery life. You're also looking at 4GB RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a, surprisingly for the frame, a 1.5watt subwoofer. Gilding this very thin lily are USB 3.0 and built-in WiMax 4G.

Which, of course, is going to cost you. The 9 Series comes this February with a $1600 starting price.

A Fungus Is Destroying The World's Bananas

Tropical Race Four, a soil-born fungus, has been destroying bananas across the world. It kills the plant and makes bananas smell like garbage. That deadly fungus is expected to hit Central America, which is where we get all our bananas from.

There are a thousand types of bananas in the world but only one represents 99% of the banana export market. That'd be the Cavendish banana. Cavendish bananas dominate the export market because they provide farmers "with a high yield of palatable fruit that can endure overseas trip without ripening too quickly or bruising too easily".

One problem, though. By relying solely on the Cavendish banana (and clones of the Cavendish), one disease can wipe out a whole ton o' bananas in one sweeping motion. Tropical Race Four is that disease, and it's already wiped out Cavendish bananas in Asia and Australia with newspapers around the world calling it the "HIV of banana plantations".

The funny thing is the Cavendish banana actually replaced another banana (Gros Michel) in the 1950's because that one got stricken with the Panama disease. History is repeating itself but this time scientists are working feverishly in an attempt to save our banana population. Let's hope they succeed.

Jan 4, 2011

iFlash Lights Up Dark Scenes for Flash-Less iDevice Photographers

If you're constantly disappointed with your iPhone 3G, 3GS, or iPod Touch's camera performance in low light scenarios, the iFlash could be just what you need. It's $29.95 and plugs into your iDevice's docking port.

The iFlash can conveniently fit underneath most cases and can also be repurposed as an LED flashlight. According to the iFlash's makers, by attaching the module to your iPhone with a plastic 3.5mm jack it can dangle like a phone charm, but that sounds highly unappealing.

SDXC Cards Go to 128GB

We're still a long ways from the 2TB SDXC. At $700, the card's clearly aimed at the professional market. It's best to think of this more as a neat technological breakthrough than something to add to your shopping list.

The 128GB Lexar should be available, along with its 64GB cousin ($400), this spring.

Mighty Mouse Has One Less Gene, Lives 20% Longer

Sorry, Apple. Researchers have already created a mightier mouse: By deleting a single gene from a mouse's genetic makeup, they've enabled it to suffer fewer age related ailments and live 20% longer. On humans, that'd be about 16 bonus years.

So what exactly did those crazy scientists do? They bred mice with the "gene that produces the protein S6 kinase 1 (S6K1)" disabled. The effects of this are a bit extreme:

The change mimicked the effect of keeping the mice on a calorie-restricted diet. Severely restricting the diets of yeast, bacteria, mice and primates have granted these animals unnaturally long lives. For humans, however, maintaining a diet of near starvation would be difficult at best

That last part's the bad news so far, but researchers are conducting further studies particularly targeting the S6K1 protein as it seems to have a direct link to longevity in mice. There are hopes that the benefits will one day be reproduced with drugs so that we don't have to starve ourselves for longer lives and prettier looks.

Jan 3, 2011

This Mouse Knows How to Tweet

I'm not even talking about Twitter. Thanks to the wonderful world of genetic engineering (which is the greatest thing ever), this mouse no longer squeaks. It tweets. Yes, like a bird.

The tweeting ability of the mouse actually came about by accident. Sort of. As AFP tells it, scientists at the University of Osaka were working on a study to see how genetic mutation facilitates evolution. So after breeding genetically modified mice that were prone to copy DNA wrong, they happened upon one mouse that could unexpectedly tweet. They've since bred over a hundred of these "singing mice."

Scientists are especially intrigued by this, because tweeting among birds functions as a low-level language for them. So they believe these noises from the tweeting mouse aren't entirely as random as the normal squeak. And they're also curious how it will affect normal, non-tweeting mice exposed to these sounds.

Why the Human Body Temperature Is 98.5 Degrees Fahrenheit (37°C)

Scientists have found the reason why our body temperature is 98.5° Fahrenheit (37°C). Apparently it's the perfect balance, as it's warm enough to prevent fungal infection but not so hot that we need to eat nonstop to maintain our metabolism.

Scientists have always wondered why advanced mammals are so hot compared to other animals. And this might be the reason! Fungal species that can thrive and infect an animal typically declines by 6 percent for every 1° C rise in temperature. So, we know we need a higher body temperature to ward off fungal infection. The question is how warm?

Scientists devised a mathematical model that analyzed the benefits gained by body temperatures that protect against fungi versus the costs (in terms of extra food consumption) required to maintain body temperatures between 30° and 40° C. The optimal temperature for maximizing benefits while minimizing costs was found to be 36.7° C, which closely approximates normal body temperature.

Looks like we were made for a reason (and so were the other mammals who all have temperatures around 98.5 degrees)!

Lightest 3D Glasses in the World

Samsung's ultra-lightweight 3D glasses don't look as bad as generic active shutter specs, but that's not saying much. Noses and ears, breathe a sigh of relief: they weigh just 28 grams.

Jan 2, 2011

A USB Hub With a Power Strip State of Mind

That's the idea behind Japanese company Elecom's latest attempt to re-engineer the humble USB hub, a power strip-esque block with ports facing skyward and a switch dedicated to each one.

Sure, the garden of sprouting cords won't help you forget that the hub is sitting on your desk, but that means you won't forget that they're sucking up precious electricity, either. The hubs are on sale now in Japan $41 for four ports or $106 for seven.

MacBook Air's SSDs Will Be Sold to Other Companies by Toshiba

Available in 64GB and 128GB capacities (both measuring 2.2mm in height) and a 3.7mm tall 256GB option, the Blade X-gale SSDs will inevitably show up in laptops, netbooks or even tablets. They've got a max sequential read speed of 220MB/s, with max sequential write speed of 180MB/s.

Forget Your Dog, Your Phone Needs an Adorable Little Outfit

You don't spend all day in some sweaty plastic case, so why subject your most faithful electronic companion to that same sartorial torture? Get it the case it deserves. The outerwear it needs. A tiny denim outfit.

Thanks to SabaiSmile at Etsy—where you can now certifiably buy anything you can think of—you can snatch up a jacket, a dress, or some short shorts for your smartphone, MP3 player, or if you're a real big weirdo your handheld GPS device. 

Jan 1, 2011

A Winter Wonderland in China

The Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin, Heilongjiang China is set to open on January 5, 2011. It's a winter wonderland with buildings made from beautiful ice and snow.

The northern lights could be headed south to a night sky near you

The amazing lights of the aurora borealis and its southern counterpart, the aurora australis, are created by the collision of charged particles in the Earth's magnetic field. As photons from the solar wind are accelerated along the lines of our planet's magnetic field, they undergo incredibly energetic reactions with nitrogen and oxygen atoms in the atmosphere, releasing and absorbing lots of energy in the constant collisions. Collisions with oxygen molecules create the green or brownish-red colors of the aurora, while collisions with nitrogen account for the blue and red colors.

Because the lines of Earth's magnetic field run towards the two magnetic poles, the aurora effect is strongest and most likely to be visible to the naked eye in the polar regions. The poles also have an added advantage, as their much longer periods of darkness mean there are far more opportunities for auroras to become visible.

But every so often the auroras become visible far away from the poles, thanks to a little help from the Sun. During periods of extreme solar activity, the Sun can create what's known as coronal mass ejections (or CMEs), which are huge blasts of charged particles. In almost all cases, these CMEs miss the Earth completely, and even when they do hit the Earth it's rare that they have any noticeable effects.

Still, if a strong enough CME hits the Earth, it can trap tons more charged particles than normal in the magnetic field. That supercharges the aurora effect so that people living as far south as Dallas or Los Angeles would be able to see the northern lights. (Well, maybe notspecificially Dallas and LA - the city lights would probably drown the aurora out.)

We've already enjoyed some spectacular auroras thanks to the solar activity, and it only figures to get better. We're in a particularly strong period of solar activity at the moment, and astronomers predict it will peak around 2013.

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