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Where Have All the Forests Gone?
November 23, 2013
Earlier this month, researchers published a report discussing global forest coverage, and supplementing their findings was a first-of-its-kind interactive mapping tool that was created in partnership with Google. In this TechNewsWorld podcast, we discuss the research with the study's lead author, geographer Matthew Hansen.
Water-Resistance Breakthrough Makes a Splash
November 22, 2013
Scientists may have just created the most water-resistant artificial material in the world. Many of those who study hydrophobic materials -- water-repellant surfaces in both nature and laboratories -- had found themselves at an impasse with a theoretical limit on the amount of time it takes for water to rebound from a surface. However, a team of researchers have achieved a breakthrough.
Chinese Chat App Exposes Kids to Prostitutes
November 20, 2013
China's massively popular WeChat messaging app has exposed school students to prostitutes through its "People Nearby" feature, which is sometimes used by prostitutes as a form of, shall we say, mobile advertising. A survey among students, conducted in a handful of major Chinese cities, found that the kids had indeed come across prostitutes' accounts when firing up the People Nearby function.
Technology's Artsy Side
November 20, 2013
Google Earth sometimes makes mistakes: Freeways look like they are upside down or waterfalls flow sideways. For engineers or programmers, these might seem like things to fix. For artists like Clement Valla, however, they're artistic opportunities. Valla's project Postcards from Google Earth, for instance, looks at these mistakes and asks not how to get rid of them, but what they mean.
Big Data Spurs Big Collaborations
November 20, 2013
The U.S. government's Big Data initiative is sparking more investments in data management projects, especially those involving joint efforts between business and government. Under the sponsorship of the Obama administration initiative, the White House showcased more than 30 Big Data projects Nov. 12 at an event hosted by the federal Office of Science and Technology.
MAVEN to Search Mars' Atmosphere for Evolutionary Clues
November 19, 2013
NASA's MAVEN mission is under way following Monday's successful launch from Cape Canaveral of a spacecraft that will explore Mars' upper atmosphere and seek answers to questions about the planet's evolution. The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, or MAVEN, craft is scheduled to travel for 10 months and reach Mars in September 2014. MAVEN is the first mission targeting Mars' upper atmosphere.
Cloud Efficiency: Different Paths, Same Destination
November 18, 2013
Aggressive use of cloud-computing strategies can significantly improve delivery of applications to end users. Healthcare patient-experience improvement provider Press Ganey and project and portfolio management provider Planview are both exploiting cloud efficiencies and agility. Their paths have been different, but the outcomes speak volumes for how cloud transforms businesses.
Graphene: Have Strength and Conductivity, Will Transform
November 16, 2013
A developing technology using an ultra-thin layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb structure could start revolutionizing consumer electronics and many other industries in less than five years. Known as "graphene," the material's special strength and conductivity make it an ideal component of super-fast, very sensitive and low-cost devices.
Google Reveals Skyrocketing US Data Requests
November 15, 2013
The U.S. government once again heads the list of those requesting data from Google, and lately it's been asking for a lot more. Google's Transparency Report, a twice-a-year reminder of how often governments ask for information, says that the U.S. submitted 10,918 requests for 21,683 user accounts during the first half of 2013. U.S. requests had the highest rate of compliance.
Devs Will Get to Put IBM's Watson Through Its Paces
November 14, 2013
IBM plans to open up its Watson cognitive platform, allowing developers to access it in the cloud starting next year. The technology is based on its Watson supercomputer. Participants will build apps incorporating Watson's cognitive computing intelligence. A cognitive computing system is "capable of continually learning and refining itself through human/computer interaction," said IBM's Rob High.
MakerBot Rallies Support for Classroom 3D Printers
November 13, 2013
There's a campaign afoot to put a 3D printer in every school in America. MakerBot -- along with education crowdsourcer DonorsChoose.org, America Makes and Autodesk -- on Tuesday announced MakerBot Academy. Individuals and businesses can contribute money to the initiative through DonorsChoose.org. The funds will be used to award MakerBot Academy bundles to teachers who register at the site.
Space Agency: Pay No Attention to That Plummeting Satellite
November 11, 2013
The European Space Agency has predicted that when its fuel-less, Earth-bound, 2,000-pound research satellite crashes, it will likely crash into the ocean or polar regions. The satellite was expected to crash down some time on Sunday or Monday, according to the agency, which added, "with a very high probability, a re-entry over Europe can be excluded." Good news for Europeans, bad news for polar bears.
NSA-Bashing Brazil Claims It Spied Better
November 06, 2013
Few if any countries have been more outspoken, incredulous and chest-thumping over U.S. spying revelations than Brazil. Last summer, after Edward Snowden's leaks had made the rounds, Brazilian lawmakers proposed a law that would require e-businesses to store data in Brazil -- and only Brazil. Then, after it was revealed that the U.S. had spied on Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Rousseff canceled a state visit to the U.S.
HealthCare.gov Is Symptomatic of Feds' Ailing IT Procurement System
November 06, 2013
The troubled launch of HealthCare.gov has been costly for President Obama and Democratic supporters of the entire Affordable Care Act program, also known as "Obamacare." The difficulties surrounding the launch have spurred broader criticism about the federal government's management of major IT deployments. So far, $118 million has been spent on the website launch itself.
Kepler's Search for Life: Cosmic Haystack Just Got a Lot Bigger
November 05, 2013
Around a fifth of the Sun-like stars in the Milky Way are orbited by Earth-sized planets capable of sustaining life, suggests a study of data obtained by NASA's Kepler and the Keck Observatory. Those planets, up to twice Earth's size, are orbiting their stars in the so-called habitable zone -- that is, the range of orbits that would permit liquid water to exist on the surface.
BiiSafe Buddy Puts Caution on Your Side
November 05, 2013
We've looked at personal tracking products before, including stolen-phone locators and a breadcrumb-tracking, mugging-alarm combo for Google's Android mobile operating system. Where some of these kinds of products have disappointed is that they have needed daily user intervention. The personal attack alarm required turning on before entering crime-infested neighborhoods, for example.
The Unhealthy State of Healthcare.gov
October 25, 2013
Finger-pointing has erupted among contractors responsible for the Obama administration's troubled Healthcare.gov website. CGI Federal, the subsidiary of Canadian firm CGI that was the lead contractor for the project, blamed another contractor, as well as the United States federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which it said directed and supervised its work.
Tungsten Discs Could Function as Million-Year Time Capsules
October 23, 2013
Jeroen de Vries, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Twente, has developed a prototype storage system that might last for up to 1 million years. This might be needed if the planet were devastated by a natural disaster, or as a reference for future intelligent life on Earth -- or for visiting aliens. "You must then think about archival storage of between 1 million and 1 billion years," he said.
Facebook: Decapitation Vids Are OK if You Oppose Decapitation
October 22, 2013
Facebook has reversed a ban that it implemented earlier this year forbidding the posting of graphic and gruesome content such as videos of decapitations and other atrocities. The company apparently made this about-face some time ago, but it only became widely noticed when the BBC reported on it this week after being alerted by a reader over a page with a clip of a masked man killing a woman.
Demo Fall 2013: Little Slices of Amazing New Technology
October 21, 2013
Demo's fall conference took place last week. This show has proven to be both a great and an expensive experience for me every year. Great because the technology shown is often truly amazing; expensive because I almost always end up buying one or two items, and my taste trends toward pricey. This year was no different, and my product of the week is the product I'd most like to personally own.

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