Links for 28th September 2009

Fresh from the clogged tubes of teh intarwubs…

  1. "WhiteFi" could be worth $15bn a year—and fix climate change

    "While the report itself admits that "the exact validity of the assumptions of this modeling exercise can be questioned," it points out that even under its most pessimistic scenarios, white spaces WiFi should generate billions of dollars each year in value. And that's in the US alone; if the rest of the world adopts similar licensing strategies, that value could skyrocket."

    Tagged with: radiospectrumwirelesscommunicationhardwaretelecomseconomicsenvironment

  2. Harvey Cox

    "The main function of religion, I think, is to provide a sense of meaning, purpose and the kind of values that derive from that meaning. There are, of course, alternate ways of discerning meaning in life, but this, I think, is the major contribution that religion makes. So people who don’t have anything like this, any sense of purpose or meaning, I don’t see how their purpose fits into something larger. They really have to swim on their own, and it’s a tough swim.

    I haven’t noticed [a trend toward atheism.] Students now are enormously more interested in religion, in studying religion, asking religious questions, taking courses, participating in religious institutions [than when I first came to Harvard]. The only trend I see is the other way. But obviously there are people out there buying these books, so I don’t know."

    Tagged with: religionfaithatheismHarvey-Coxtheology

  3. Viagra spam brings bulging returns of more than $4,000/day

    "Pharmaceutical spam can generate more than $4,000 per day in sales, confirming that spam continues to thrive because of those gullible few who click through and ruin it for the rest of us. And that's not just an estimate: a security researcher from Sophos have combed through sales logs as part of his investigation into the growth of spam networks, noting that Russian affiliate partner networks—also known as "partnerka"—are responsible for some of the largest Canadian pharmacy spam businesses."

    Tagged with: technologyemailspampharmaviagramarketingeconomicsblack-economy

  4. Better cheap than good: renewable power for developing world

    "Nocera pointed out that most of the work in providing carbon-neutral energy has focused on increasing efficiencies of existing technology and creating economies of scale, both of which will ultimately reduce the cost of electricity produced in the developed world. The problem has been that this has kept the price of the hardware expensive. As a result, the solutions we're arriving at won't make sense for the developing world. "We need to tackle the non-legacy world, and they don't have any money," Nocera said."

    Tagged with: renewableenergyworldeconomicsdeveloping-worldalternative

  5. Parasitic Homes Take Root On Empty Walls

    "Accessed via a retractable staircase, the dwelling is placed about 3 or 4 meters above the street level. Depending on the needs of the residents, the width could be wide or narrow, but would maintain a cross sectional area of 36 square meters (387 sq ft). Residents walk up to their one-bedroom home, and are first greeted by a home office located on the first landing. Next comes the bedroom, then the living area, the kitchen and dining, and finally on the top terrace is an open air balcony.

    Since none of the structure really touches the ground, the footprint of the house consists of the service shaft that connects it to power, sewer and water."

    Tagged with: architectureurbanismhousingparasiticdesignfictionfuturism

  6. Locust flight simulator helps robot insects evolve

    "Until now, modelling insect wings involved building physical replicas from rigid materials and estimating how they might move from observations of insect flight. Thomas hopes the simulator will take the guesswork out of the process, especially as every flying insect has uniquely shaped wings and wing beat patterns.

    Building miniature aircraft is of great interest to the armed forces. In the UK, for example, the Ministry of Defence wants to create a device that can fly in front of a convoy and detect explosives on the road ahead. In the US, the Pentagon's research arm DARPA is funding development of a "nano air vehicle" (NAV) for surveillance that it states must weigh no more than 10 grams and have only a 7.5-centimetre wingspan."

    Tagged with: robotinsectevolutionflightsimulationresearch

  7. Ants vs. worms: Computer security mimics nature

    ""Our idea is to deploy 3,000 different types of digital ants, each looking for evidence of a threat," Fulp says. "As they move about the network, they leave digital trails modeled after the scent trails ants in nature use to guide other ants. Each time a digital ant identifies some evidence, it is programmed to leave behind a stronger scent. Stronger scent trails attract more ants, producing the swarm that marks a potential computer infection.""

    Tagged with: computersecurityswarmintelligencebiomimicryvirusdetectionantsinsects

  8. A brief guide to DNA sequencing

    "… although these methods can differ, sometimes radically, in how they obtain the sequence of DNA, they're all fundamentally constrained by the chemistry of DNA itself, which is remarkably simple: a long chain of alternating sugars and phosphates, with each sugar linked to one of four bases. Because the chemistry of DNA is so simple, the process of sequencing it is straightforward enough that anyone with a basic understanding of biology can probably understand the fundamentals. The new sequencing hardware may be very complex, but all the complexity is generally there to just sequence lots of molecules in parallel; the actual process remains pretty simple."

    Tagged with: sciencebiologygeneticsDNAsequencingbasics

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