Little Children
Political Brief


by Craig Reynolds

iPhone is coming: between the blog buzz  and the patent patter, it looks like Apple is getting ready to launch an iPod/cell phone combo device at MacWorld in January: Apple Seeks U.S. Patent for Combo Mobile Phone, IPod (via), Radio Transparent Zirconia iPhone? From the Bloomberg article: Using [zirconia and alumina] ceramic materials would result in a ``highly scratch-resistant surface,'' according to the application. Zirconia could be used to create cases in a variety of colors, including white, black, navy blue, ivory, brown, dark blue, light blue, platinum and gold. Other Apple news: from CERT Official warning on Mac code bug. Could this finally be the end of Apple v. Apple?: Apple, Beatles close to iTunes deal and Beatles: only on iPod? Surprisingly this iPod hyperbole did not come from Apple: Google: 'iPod will hold all the world's TV in 12 years' (On a personal note, I got an iPod Shuffle this week.  Being so tiny makes it really convenient and unobtrusive.)

Pitch black metal: using incredibly brief, incredible powerful laser pulses, Chunlei Guo's team at Rochester University treats polished metal surfaces to cause them to be irregular and "fuzzy" at a microscopic nanoscale: Ultra-short laser pulses turn metals pitch black, Pitch Black The New Black and Ultra-intense laser blast creates true 'black metal'. These surfaces are extremely efficient in absorbing all radiation that strikes them, making them useful as detectors and collectors. See these micrographs of the treated metal surface (via). While generated by different processes, that pattern in the lower left reminded me a lot of these highly unsmooth fractal shapes created with DLA simulations by Andy Lomas.

Hard times for graphics hardware: Nvidia ends options probe, takes $127 million charge, AMD receives DOJ subpoena over graphics processing, Sony's PlayStation unit shakes up top management and PlayStation 3 sales drop sharply on low supply.

Ancient Greek computer:I have a vague recollection of mentioning the Antikythera mechanism in this space several years ago--either my memory is shot or the PSACOT archives do not go back far enough. A recent analysis of the partial remains reveal it to be a sophisticated mechanical computer, at least a thousand years before its time: Early Astronomical ‘Computer’ Found to Be Technically Complex, Secrets revealed and Unique Marvel of Ancient Greek Technology Gives Up New Secrets.

Cell phones, threat, YouTube, TV: apparently in Zimbabwe devices which promote free speech are considered a security threat: Zimbabwe army says cellphones danger to security. Whereas in enlightened democracies, and here in the US, cell users have the freedom to watch Coke/Mento fountains and stupid human tricks: Verizon to show YouTube on phone. Movement continues toward TV on cell phones: Cell-phone TV to reach mass audience in 2008, Ericsson predicts and DoCoMo plans multimedia for cell phones.

Free culture: Sting's lyric "if you love somebody, set them free" is lost on media companies. See Cory Doctorow's Giving It Away in the Forbes special report on books. When governments go to ridiculous lengths to enrich copyright holders, the results hurt other parts of the commercial sector, not to mention consumers: Australia's copyright law breaks search engines. See Mark Pesce's editorial: Attack the pirates, not the viewers.

Catastrophic climate change: was the dino killer a comet impact, a series of meteorites or a black hole?  Oy, looks like it was even scarier than that: Single massive asteroid wiped out dinosaurs: study (check this illustration). OK so if that does not keep you awake at night, how about a sudden 50 foot increase in sea level?: Massive ice shelf 'may collapse without warning'. Not only are greenhouse gas emissions increasing, in the last few years, they have been increasing faster: Carbon emissions show sharp rise.

Technobits: journal Science reacts to stem cell retraction: Steps Urged to Prevent Fraud in Science Journals and Science journal to tighten standards after fraud --- third world tech: Satellites beam life-saving data to poorer nations --- spindle cells and the social brain: Humpback whales share high-level 'human' brain cells --- Meteorite's Organic Matter Older Than the Sun, Study Says --- 'Worm' attacks Second Life world --- CNET wrap-up: Robots in action --- How to Find Those Gifts in a Flash.