We round up this week’s most intriguing items from around the Web.
The Times of London raises an eyebrow at James Downey, an American artist who plans to enlist millions of North Americans in his “collaborative work of celestial art”-shining laser pointers at the moon. Despite the advice of astronomers and optics experts, Downey hopes the lasers will create a red smudge on the dark part of October 27’s crescent moon. Succeed or fail, Downey will live out an age-old story: a man, his dream, one million lasers and the moon.
Diesel Versus DSL
Still waiting for DSL to reach your block? Maybe your ISP could learn from Malaysia, where a special bus carries the Internet to remote villages. The New York Times describes how schoolchildren in the less developed north use 20 computers aboard the bus-called the Mobile Internet Unit-to surf the Web and send e-mail via satellite. Thanks to support from the United Nations, the bus will probably be going strong long after your DSL provider runs out of gas.
2BR, DSHWSHR, NUCLR PLNT
Japanese researchers are developing a miniature nuclear reactor intended, reports New Scientist, to power an apartment block. Originally designed for a moon base, the reactor measures just under six feet wide by twenty tall-small enough to fit in a customized basement. Careful on trash day, neighbors!
Be a Better Bully
If your child suffers from poor health and low self-esteem, one possible reason is that he doesn’t spend enough time beating up other kids. Research reported in Scientific American explains that “pure bullies” may enjoy a heartier constitution, allowing them to sow, and not reap, wedgies and the whole armamentarium of locker-room hijinks.
A Cuddly Computer
Israeli scientists have built a baby computer that eats, talks, plays and, most important, learns. Named after Kubrick’s killer app from 2001, this Hal sports a toddler’s vocabulary that has apparently foiled child language experts. In about ten years they expect his vocabulary to equal an adult’s, although it remains to be seen whether he will open the pod bay doors.
Last week: Turtle Tracks