Top scientists share their future predictions – Times Online

Top scientists share their future predictions – Times Online: “Nothing much is going to happen in the next 10 years. Of course, that’s not counting the diesel-excreting bacteria, the sequencing of your entire genome for $1,000, massive banks of frozen human eggs, space tourism, the identification of dark matter, widespread sterilisation of young adults, telepathy, supercomputer models of our brains, the discovery of life’s origins, maybe the disappearance of Bangladesh and certainly the loss of 247m acres of tropical forest.

As I said, just another decade really.

These days, “just another decade” always means 10 years of future shock. Science, technology and the contemporary mania for change combine to stun the imagination. It is the way we live now, in a condition of permanent technological revolution.”

BBC News – Secret mobile phone codes cracked

BBC News – Secret mobile phone codes cracked: “A German computer scientist has published details of the secret code used to protect the conversations of more than 4bn mobile phone users.

Karsten Nohl, working with other experts, has spent the past five months cracking the algorithm used to encrypt calls using GSM technology.

GSM is the most popular standard for mobile networks around the world.

The work could allow anyone – including criminals – to eavesdrop on private phone conversations.

Mr Nohl told the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin that the work showed that GSM security was ‘inadequate’.”

The Raw Story | Potatoes, algae replace oil in US company’s plastics

The Raw Story | Potatoes, algae replace oil in US company's plastics: “Frederic Scheer is biding his time, convinced that by 2013 the price of oil will be so high that his bio-plastics, made from vegetables and plants, will be highly marketable.

Scheer, 55, is the owner of Cereplast, a company that designs and makes sustainable plastics from starches found in tapioca, corn, wheat and potatoes.

He has believed for the past 20 years that the price of oil will eventually make petroleum-based plastics obsolete and clear the way for his alternative.”

More fun with Maths

Say to your friend, “Pick two numbers, both of them less than 10.”

Then say, “Choose either one of those numbers and multiply it by 5.”

Then, “Add 7.”

Then, “Multiply the result by 2.”

Then, “Add that number to the other number that you picked initially.”

Finally, you ask, “What’s your answer?”

Knowing that, you can now tell your friend the two numbers he originally chose, and also the one he started with and multiplied by 5.

Here’s how: From your friend’s final result, you subtract 14. That gives you a two-digit number made up of the two numbers your friend initially selected. The left-hand digit is the number he started with and the other number multiplied by 5. (ie divide the number by 5 to find out)

mental_floss Blog » 8 Signs You Might Be Boring Someone

mental_floss Blog » 8 Signs You Might Be Boring Someone: “1. Repeated, perfunctory responses.
A person who repeats, “Oh really? Wow. Oh really? Interesting.” isn’t particularly engaged.

2. Simple questions. People who are bored ask simple questions.
“When did you move?” “Where did you go?” People who are interested ask more complicated questions that show curiosity, not mere politeness.

3. Interruption. Although it sounds rude, interruption is actually a good sign, I think. It means a person is bursting to say something, and that shows interest. Similarly…

4. Request for clarification. A person who is sincerely interested in what you’re saying will ask you to elaborate or to explain. “What does that term mean?” “When exactly did that happen?” “Then what did he say?” are the kinds of questions that show that someone is trying closely to follow what you’re saying.

5. Imbalance of talking time. I suspect that many people fondly suppose that they usually do eighty percent of the talking because people find them fascinating. Sometimes, it’s true, a discussion involves a huge download of information desired by the listener; that’s a very satisfying kind of conversation. In general, though, people who are interested in a subject have things to say themselves; they want to add their own opinions, information, and experiences. If they aren’t doing that, they’re probably keeping quiet in the hopes that the conversation will end faster. Or maybe you just aren’t letting them get a word in — recently I was talking to someone who, though fascinating, didn’t want to let me contribute to the conversation. I enjoyed it, but not as much as if I’d been able to talk, too.

6. Abrupt changes in topic. If you’re talking to someone about, say, the life of Winston Churchill (I have a tendency to dwell at length on this particular subject), and all of a sudden the other person says, “So how are your kids?”, it’s a sign that he or she isn’t very interested or perhaps not listening at all. When someone makes this kind of switch, I have to fight the urge not to drag the topic back to what I want to talk about – but the fact that someone has introduced a completely different subject is a sure sign that the subject is not engaging.

7. Body position. People with a good connection generally turn to face each other. A person who is partially turned away isn’t fully embracing the conversation. Along the same lines, if you’re a speaker trying to figure out if an audience is interested in what you’re saying:

8. Audience posture. Back in 1885, Sir Francis Galton wrote a paper called “The Measurement of Fidget.” He determined that people slouch and lean when bored, so a speaker can measure the boredom of an audience by seeing how far from vertically upright they are. Also, attentive people fidget less; bored people fidget more. An audience that’s sitting still and upright is interested, while an audience that’s horizontal and squirmy is bored.”

The dark side of the internet | Technology | The Guardian

not heard of this yet…

The dark side of the internet | Technology | The Guardian: “Fourteen years ago, a pasty Irish teenager with a flair for inventions arrived at Edinburgh University to study artificial intelligence and computer science. For his thesis project, Ian Clarke created ‘a Distributed, Decentralised Information Storage and Retrieval System’, or, as a less precise person might put it, a revolutionary new way for people to use the internet without detection. By downloading Clarke’s software, which he intended to distribute for free, anyone could chat online, or read or set up a website, or share files, with almost complete anonymity.

‘It seemed so obvious that that was what the net was supposed to be about – freedom to communicate,’ Clarke says now. ‘But [back then] in the late 90s that simply wasn’t the case. The internet could be monitored more quickly, more comprehensively, more cheaply than more old-fashioned communications systems like the mail.’ His pioneering software was intended to change that.

His tutors were not bowled over. ‘I would say the response was a bit lukewarm. They gave me a B. They thought the project was a bit wacky … they said, ‘You didn’t cite enough prior work.”

Undaunted, in 2000 Clarke publicly released his software, now more appealingly called Freenet. Nine years on, he has lost count of how many people are using it: ‘At least 2m copies have been downloaded from the website, primarily in Europe and the US. The website is blocked in [authoritarian] countries like China so there, people tend to get Freenet from friends.’ Last year Clarke produced an improved version: it hides not only the identities of Freenet users but also, in any online environment, the fact that someone is using Freenet at all.”

Britain’s Inflationary Debt Spiral as Bank of England Keeps Expanding Quantitative Easing :: The Market Oracle :: Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting Free Website

Britain's Inflationary Debt Spiral as Bank of England Keeps Expanding Quantitative Easing :: The Market Oracle :: Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting Free Website: “Over the coming years we will witness the systematic destruction of the British currency as witnessed through the inflation and commodity / asset price data as the Inflation Mega-trend starts to unfold following the asset price destruction induced Deflation of 2008 into early 2009.”

Camel problem

An Arabic man is riding a camel across a desert expanse, when he encounters a novel sight. Three young Arabic men are fiercely arguing, surrounded by 17 camels. Dismounting, the stranger was told the problem. Their father had died, leaving (as their only real inheritance) these 17 camels. Now, the eldest son was to receive half of the camels; the second son, one-third of the camels; the youngest son, one-ninth of the camels. Problem: how could they thus divide the 17 camels?

The stranger adjoined his camel to the collection, making it 18 camels>. Then, the stranger apportioned 9 (= 1/2(18)) camels to the eldest son; 6 (= 1/3(18)) camels to the 2nd son; 2 (= 1/9(18)) camels to the youngest son. Having solved the problem and assuaged their argument, the stranger mounted his own camel and rode away.

Antarctica served as climatic refuge in Earth’s greatest extinction event

Antarctica served as climatic refuge in Earth’s greatest extinction event: “The largest known mass extinction in Earth’s history, about 252 million years ago at the end of the Permian Period, may have been caused by global warming. A new fossil species suggests that some land animals may have survived the end-Permian extinction by living in cooler climates in Antarctica. Jörg Fröbisch and Kenneth D. Angielczyk of The Field Museum together with Christian A. Sidor from the University of Washington have identified a distant relative of mammals, Kombuisia antarctica, that apparently survived the mass extinction by living in Antarctica.”

The Simple Dollar » Why Are Oranges Always on Sale in December? Seasonal Food Sales and How to Take Advantage of Them

The Simple Dollar » Why Are Oranges Always on Sale in December? Seasonal Food Sales and How to Take Advantage of Them:

“Asparagus – late April and early May
Broccoli – late February and March
Cauliflower – late March and April
Cranberries – October
Oranges (all but Valencia) – December
Raspberries – mid-August
Strawberries – late June through early August
Sweet Corn – early August to early September
Turnips – February
Watermelon – July”