Monday, September 26, 2011

Flexible Piezoelectric Remote Works by Bending & Twisting It

A new flexible remote control is being released that allows you to change channels and adjust volume levels by bending and twisting it. It's made out of a new type of piezoelectric sensor film that was developed my Japanese tech firm Murata Manufacturing.

The "Leaf Grip Remote Controller" has two handles with a transparent film between them. The film contains two layers of special piezoelectric sensors that create small amounts of electricity through bending and twisting motions. Experts say that the new film is a breakthrough because it doesn't suffer from "pyroelectric" problems, which involve changes in temperature adversely effecting a piezoelectric device.

Murata has also announced the release of a "Touch Pressure Pad" that can be used to control a computer. It detects finger movements and can gauge the amount of pressure being applied. It could lead to an entirely new class of electronic device controls.

We say: Very nice. Now just hurry up and make a bendy/twisty controller for our video game consoles!

Learn some mo': Piezoelectric Remote Control Changes Channels When You Bend It

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Google Search Ads Get More Social With +1 Feature

Google added the +1 social voting feature to their search ads today in an attempt to personalize users' "ad experiences." It also may be a move to create a fresh monetization channel for their new, and increasingly popular, Google Plus social network.

According to Google's engineers, clicking on a +1 button has the same effect whether it's an ad, a search results page listing, or an individual web page. +1 buttons will also start showing up on Adsense for Mobile text and image ads within the next couple of weeks. According to the search giant, users will be able to opt-out of the +1 ad personalization system by updating their Google account/Gmail personalization options. Advertisers can also choose to opt out and not have the +1 buttons appear on their ad campaigns.

We say: This is a very interesting move by the Big G. Adding a social layer to their ginormous ad network allows for all kinds of possibilities. It will also certainly affect the Adwords "quality score" feature that already gives advertisers (especially spammers) nightmares. So it may have a big effect on search engine marketing and pay-per-click (PPC) ad buying as a whole. Overall though, this should lead to better, more useful, and more targeted ads... higher revenues for Google... and more GREAT free Google products. That's always a good thing! :)

Learn some mo': Google Puts +1 on Ads, Creates Google Plus Revenue Stream

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dark Chocolate Almost as Good for You as Exercise

Eating small amounts of dark chocolate high in cocoa can boost your health in ways similar to exercise, according to new research. Scientists from Wayne State University found that a powerful compound found in chocolate -- called epicatechin -- appears to stimulate muscle tissue mitochondria in the same way as vigorous exercise.

According to head researcher Dr Moh Malek:
"Mitochondria produce energy which is used by the cells in the body. More mitochondria mean more energy is produced and more work can be performed... Aerobic exercise, such as running or cycling, is known to increase the number of mitochondria in muscle cells. Our study has found that epicatechin seems to bring about the same response - particularly in the heart and skeletal muscles."
In the study, middle-aged mice appeared to get the biggest benefit from the chocolate/cocoa supplementation. According to doctor Malek epicatechin supplementation combined with regular vigorous exercise may be a powerful combination for preventing/slowing muscle ageing. Experts say that more research is needed in order to confirm that chocolate provides similar benefits in humans.

We say: This is great! Now we have another excuse to buy pounds and pounds of dark chocolate at Trader Joe's! :D

Learn some mo': Chocolate 'as good for you as exercise'

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

("Broke") Las Vegas Schools Give Students iPad 2s

Southern Nevada's Clark County School District is giving nearly $800,000 worth of Apple iPad 2 tablet computers to 1,150 Las Vegas area students. It's part of a 1-year pilot program that's the biggest of its kind in the US. Schools receiving the ultra-portable computers include Silverado High School, Leavitt Middle School, Silvestri Middle School, and the Academy for Individualized Study, a special school for non-traditional students like Cirque du Soleil performers.

Each $687 iPad is pre-loaded with a special "interactive" Algebra 1 textbook application. The app -- called the Fuse Algebra textbook -- was developed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and teaches using touch-tab lessons and video tutorials. It also has powerful note-taking functionality.

According to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt the Fuse app is able to deliver "truly personalized instruction" that helps students learn difficult subject matter easier and more quickly. It apparently allows a student to learn at his or her own pace and to easily catch up on lessons if they miss school.

We say: We thought the Clark County School District was completely broke?!? First they spend a million on iPads for teachers last year. Now they buy a butt-load of iPad 2s for lazy high schoolers and middle school students? Does Apple have a mole planted inside the Las Vegas school board or what?

Learn some mo': In turnabout, teachers give students Apples, hope iPads boost test scores

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

16 "Super-Earths" Have Been Found!

Scientists have found a bunch of new planets outside our solar system, including 16 so-called "super-Earth" planets with masses as much as 10 times that of our own super-Earth. One of the newly discovered planets could, according to the science geeks, possibly sustain life.

The European Southern Observatory announced that they've found over 50 new extrasolar bodies. The most exciting is called "HD 85512 b" and it's nearly 4 times the size of Earth. It's just close enough to its own sun that it could potentially have liquid water... and even support some form of life!

Don't worry though, HD 85512 b is 35 light years away from our planet (a VERY far distance) so we probably won't be visited by aliens anytime soon. The discovery was made using some pretty powerful technology called the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) located at La Silla Observatory in Chile.

We say: This is great news! Now we just have to figure out a way to visit HD 85512 b because, who knows, they might have a roaring economy and some actual JOBS over there!!

Learn some mo': 16 'super-Earths' found outside solar system

Monday, September 12, 2011

Insulin Nasal Spray Slows Down Alzheimer's

A special insulin delivery system may help to slow down the progress of Alzheimer's disease in some people, according to a new study from the University of Washington. Researchers have developed an insulin nasal spray that appears to improve memory and protect cognition in people with Alzheimer's or "mild cognitive impairment".

In recent years researchers have found a strong connection between insulin resistance (which causes type 2 diabetes) and the development of Alzheimer's disease. For some reasons the brains of Alzheimer's patients don't have enough insulin hormone or aren't able to metabolize insulin that is present. But giving insulin via the normal methods -- such as injection -- does not solve the problem and can actually be very risky.

The new spray delivers insulin close to the brain by inserting it into the sinus cavity. From there it is able to travel along nerve cells and reach the brain with 20 minutes. The researchers said they were surprised that so many study participants benefited from the medication (most Alzheimer's treatments only work for a small percentage of patients).

Experts warn, however, that it will take some time and much more research before a consumer product is available to the public.

Learn some mo': Insulin nasal spray may slow Alzheimer's

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Study: Pesticides Cause Hyperactivity in Children

Ingesting pesticides may lead to your child developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a new US study. Research published in the journal Pediatrics showed that common pesticide chemicals found in food and also in the home significantly increases the risk of ADHD in kids.

The researchers concluded that parents should try to buy organic, pesticide-free foods for their children. Also, women who are trying to become pregnant should begin eating a mostly organic diet at least 6 months before conception, then throughout the pregnancy, continuing until the baby has stopped breast feeding.

According to public health expert Phil Landrigan, MD:
"It's mainly exposure through food. Diet is the driver... For most people, diet is the predominant source. It's been shown that people who switch to an organic diet knock down the levels of pesticide by-products in their urine by 85 to 90 percent."
Many experts believe it's also important to reduce or eliminate the amount of toxic pesticides in and around your home. That means using organic gardening and weed-control methods, as well as non-toxic bug/pest control methods.

We say: It's a damn shame that kids in in the United States -- and much of the world for that matter -- have to endure constant exposure to dangerous pesticides and other environmental chemicals. If we know that certain pesticides cause harm in kids -- especially those designed to alter the neurological systems of pests -- why are they still legal to be used in our food production systems??

Learn some mo': Pesticides in food linked to ADHD in kids

Friday, September 9, 2011

Weight Watchers Diet Works! (According to Weight Watchers-Funded Study)

According to a new study, people following the super-popular Weight Watchers dieting program for a year were able to lose 15 pounds -- two times as much as people who followed normal medical weight loss advice from a doctor or nurse. The research was funded by the Weight Watchers corporation. But it was published in a very well-respected medical journal called the Lancet... so it's probably not total BS!

Researchers followed nearly 800 obese and overweight people for 12 months. Half of them followed the Weight Watchers program and half attended special 1-on-1 "weight management" meetings with their doctor every month. About 60% of the Weight Watchers group stuck with the program for the entire year and lost 15 lbs. Even those who dropped out lost weight, about 11 pounds on average.

Experts believe that the social/group support/accountability aspect of Weight Watchers -- which includes weekly weight-ins to track progress -- is what makes it more effective than typical medical weight loss approaches. According to Dr. Michael Jensen from the Mayo Clinic:
"It's not terribly surprising that a group whose whole career is basically helping people with weight management would do a better job than a primary-care group that has a lot more responsibilities on top of that."
Other commercial weight loss programs -- like Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, and other pre-packaged diet food programs -- have provided similar results in other studies. In fact, a 2010 study funded by Jenny Craig found that women were able to lose about 20 pounds in a year while using the program.

We say: We think weight loss and fitness programs that involve healthy amounts of social peer pressure are going to become more and more popular -- because they work. There's nothing worse than being the only person in a social support group who's actually getting fatter!

Learn some mo': Dieters in Weight Watchers study drop up to 15 pounds in a year