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n2doc

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The TV on Your Shirt
Adafruit Industries announces a new wearable technology platform.
DAVID ZAX 01/27/2012

Wearable electronics gets a new boost, with a new platform from Adafruit Industries, the brainchild of DIY-goddess Limor Fried (hacker handle: Ladyada). The new platform, dubbed the Flora, points to a future where people are wearing TV screens--or at least, something vaguely like them--on their T-shirts.

“For the last few years Ladyada has been thinking about everything she wanted in a wearable electronics platform for Adafruit's community of makers, hackers, crafters, artists, designers and engineers,” writes Adafruit in its announcement of the new platform. “After months of planning, designing and working with partners around the world for the best materials and accessories, we can share what we're up to.”

The Flora board is quite small, less than 2” in diameter (the thing has to be wearable, after all), and has built-in USB support (“this means you plug it in to program it, it just shows up,” says the site). CNET says the new platform is designed so that anyone can “craft a matrix of hundreds or someday, more than 1,000 small LED ‘pixels.’” Currently the Flora, which is being beta tested, can support no more than 500 linked pixels. Of course, 500 pixels isn’t an immense number--you might want to stick to your television to watch a movie--but it’s a start.

What’s next? Adafruit promises “dozens of projects that will be released” with the Flora this year, including related apps for iPhone, iPad, and Android.
more
http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/helloworld/27535/?p1=blogs

In the Developing World, Solar Is Cheaper than Fossil Fuels

Advances are opening solar to the 1.3 billion people who don't have access to grid electricity.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 27, 2012BY KEVIN BULLIS


The falling cost of LED lighting, batteries, and solar panels, together with innovative business plans, are allowing millions of households in Africa and elsewhere to switch from crude kerosene lamps to cleaner and safer electric lighting. For many, this offers a means to charge their mobile phones, which are becoming ubiquitous in Africa, instead of having to rent a charger.

Technology advances are opening up a huge new market for solar power: the approximately 1.3 billion people around the world who don't have access to grid electricity. Even though they are typically very poor, these people have to pay far more for lighting than people in rich countries because they use inefficient kerosene lamps. While in most parts of the world solar power typically costs far more than electricity from conventional power plants—especially when including battery costs—for some people, solar power makes economic sense because it costs half as much as lighting with kerosene.

Hundreds of companies are swooping in to grab a piece of this market.

"This sector has exploded," says Richenda Van Leeuwen, senior director for the Energy and Climate team at the United Nations Foundation. "There's been a sea change in the last five years."

more
http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/39544/?p1=A2

World's only iridescent mammal is a shiny accident

Animals from butterflies to birds have iridescent colours to draw the eye. But why golden moles? They spend most of their lives in near-darkness - and they're blind.

Now a study of the structure of the hairs shows that they may be designed to streamline the moles or repel water, rather than attract a mate.

Matthew Shawkey of the University of Akron in Ohio took samples from four golden mole species, all with blue or green iridescence. Electron microscopes revealed that the hairs were flattened into paddle shapes, giving a greater surface area to reflect light.

Unusually, the scales on each hair contained alternating light and dark layers. Each layer bent the rays of light just like oil on water (Biology Letters, DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.1168). Shawkey says this is the first example of a multilayer reflector in hair.

more

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21390-worlds-only-iridescent-mammal-is-a-shiny-accident.html

Satellites detect abundance of fresh water in the Arctic



ESA satellites show that a large dome of fresh water has been building up in the Arctic Ocean over the last 15 years. A change in wind direction could cause the water to spill into the north Atlantic, cooling Europe.

The results are remarkable: since 2002, the sea surface in the studied area has risen by about 15 cm, and the volume of fresh water has increased by some 8000 cubic km – around 10% of all the fresh water in the Arctic Ocean.
Researchers from the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at University College London and the UK’s National Oceanography Centre used data from ESA’s ERS-2 and Envisat satellites to measure sea-surface height over the western Arctic from 1995 to 2010.

The results were published yesterday in the online version of the scientific journal, Nature Geoscience.

more
http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMD7FNXDXG_index_0.html

Barred Spiral Galaxy Swirls in the Night Sky



This image shows the swirling shape of galaxy NGC 2217, in the constellation of Canis Major (The Great Dog). In the central region of the galaxy is a distinctive bar of stars within an oval ring. Further out, a set of tightly wound spiral arms almost form a circular ring around the galaxy. NGC 2217 is therefore classified as a barred spiral galaxy, and its circular appearance indicates that we see it nearly face-on.

The outer spiral arms have a bluish colour, indicating the presence of hot, luminous, young stars, born out of clouds of interstellar gas. The central bulge and bar are yellower in appearance, due to the presence of older stars. Dark streaks can also be seen in places against the galaxy’s arms and central bulge, where lanes of cosmic dust block out some of the starlight.

The majority of spiral galaxies in the local Universe — including our own Milky Way — are thought to have a bar of some kind, and these structures play an important role in the development of a galaxy. They can, for example, funnel gas towards the centre of the galaxy, helping to feed a central black hole, or to form new stars.

Credit:

ESO
http://www.eso.org/public/images/potw1204a/

Friday TOON Roundup 4- Seals and the rest

Seals



Kansas




Keystone




Rights



Giffords






Georgia


Drones


Friday TOON Roundup 3- Finger









Friday TOON Roundup 2- More Newt and Mitt
















Friday TOON Roundup 1- GOP clowns












Ted Rall toon on Joe Paterno

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