Earth Portation News November 23rd

ANIMALS - Call that a ball? Dogs learn to associate words with objects differently than humans do
Dogs learning to associate words with objects form these associations in different ways than humans do, according to research published November 21 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Emile van der Zee and colleagues from the University of Lincoln, UK.

ANIMALS - Researchers find fly receptor neurons able to communicate without synapse connections
(Medical Xpress)-Researchers at Yale University have found that neural receptors in a fly's antenna are able to communicate with one another despite a lack of synaptic connections. They suggest in their paper published in the journal Nature that the communication between the neurons occurs via electrical signals transported by shared fluids.

ART - Discovering hidden art: Detective work using terahertz radiation
Damaging biocides can be detected on old wooden sculptures, hidden wall paintings can be made visible again and the layered structures of pieces of art analyzed. Using terahertz scanners restorers will soon be able to identify quickly, and completely non-destructively, what is happening with an object of art.

EARTH - Student Invents Earthquake-Powered Stress Sensor for Buildings
The wireless sensor would be powered by the vibrations during an earthquake and transmit information about stress to buildings.

ECONOMICS - Is Foursquare's Bubble About To Burst?
Guest post written by Patrick J. Sweeney II

ECONOMICS - New BBC boss should stick with Entwistle's bold online plan
When George Entwistle gave his first speech to BBC staff after becoming director general in September, he delighted many in the digital media sector.
For some years now, BBC Online has approached online much as a medium to deliver conventional broadcast content, through iPlayer - in many ways, far less ambitious than the strategy under which it used to regard the web as a "third platform" in its own right.
But Entwistle came in like a breath of fresh air, observing: "We've taken ... our capacity to present and distribute existing forms of content to their natural limits rather than innovate to discover genuinely new forms of content."

Zarrion Walker / Flickr
Now that much of the iPlayer platform building has been done, he was prepared to shoot for a greater prize: "It's the quest for this - genuinely new forms of digital content - that represents the next profound moment of change we need to prepare for if we're to deserve a new charter. We need to be ready to produce and create genuinely digital content for the first time."
Entwistle was prepared to tear up existing BBC structures to achieve it, promising to integrate three distinct units - Vision (TV), Audio & Music and the digital Future Media division - within two years to ensure all three were conceiving digital content from the start, not just "obsessing only about the creation of television or radio".
The plan was much welcomed. As much as iPlayer has pushed forward the VOD market, it now signifies an online strategy that is broadcast-led. But Entwistle will not get to start, much less complete, this transformation, having resigned in November after failing to convince BBC trustees and other decision-makers he was in control of the BBC Newsnight sexual abuse reporting controversy.
Now the BBC Trust has named Tony Hall to succeed interim replacement Tim Davie as director general. And many in the online business will likely want him to pick up and run with Entwistle's plan, which could reinvigorate the BBC's well-regarded online services with a much-needed post-broadcast raison d'etre.
What chance Hall will do so? A BBC spokesperson tells me: "Given the new director general doesn't start until March, it is too early to say at this stage."
The BBC Trust's announcement of Hall's appointment lauds him thusly: "He was a digital pioneer, launching BBC News Online, as well as Radio 5 Live, BBC News 24 and BBC Parliament."
Only one of those services, BBC News Online, is "digital" in the internet sense. And the pioneering site is most often credited as being created by editors and directors of the time including Mike Smartt, Alf Hermida, Pete Clifton and Bob Eggington, albeit under Hall as director of BBC News.
Now he has been CEO of Royal Opera House for 11 years, Tony Hall has been custodian of a cultural institution and has leveraged digital platforms to extend access to its core product. Projects have included big screens to relay performances around the UK.
But if that all sounds a little like BBC iPlayer's own goal (making TV and radio programmes more available whilst not necessarily changing that core product), then the Royal Opera House, under Hall, has also taken a slightly different approach, acquiring an opera DVD distributor, Opus Arte, that has subsequently become an online classical music retailer.
No matter who is top dog at the BBC, much of online strategy thinking will come from the corporation's future media director, currently Ralph Rivera, and not the director general. But it was from Entwistle and not from Rivera that we first heard the exciting post-iPlayer proposals in September.
Hall should continue this way of thinking to carve out a new mission for BBC online services going forward. For it would be a shame to let the impetus fizzle.
Hall told a press call on Thursday: "I am committed to ensure, every way that I can, that the best and the brightest, the most creative people in the country - or, indeed, around the world - come and want to work in this place.
"With the right creative team in place, sparking off each other, you can do extraordinary creative things. I want to build a world-class team for this world-class organisation.'

EDUCATION - Forget all-night studying, a good night's sleep is key to doing well on exams
As fall semesters wind down at the country's colleges and universities, students will be pulling all-night study sessions to prepare for final exams. Ironically, the loss of sleep during these all-nighters could actually work against them performing well, says a sleep specialist.

ENERGY - Algeria Targets 22,000 MW Of Renewable Energy By 2030
North African country Algeria is upping the ante in the renewable energy game. According to a recent PV-Tech article, the country hopes to have 22 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy online by the year 2030, with a good part being exported on the international market.
State-owned utility Sonelgaz, is expected to build 4.2 GW of renewables itself, providing underlying support towards Algeria's goal.
Next year will see the first phase of the ambitious project, which will eventually include solar photovoltaic energy, concentrated solar power, and wind energy. As noted by PV Tech:
The first phase, which is expected to start in 2013, will include 1,228MW from PV power plants, followed by 2,475MW of concentrated solar (CSP) and 516MW of wind energy by 2022.
Besides Sonelgaz's commitment to wind and solar, the utility also has a deal with the Desertec CHP project, to look at possibly exporting 1 GW to European countries.
With lots of sun to harness, Algeria, if it succeeds, could be a renewable energy market to watch out for in the years to come.

ENERGY - Carbon Pricing Could Help Reduce European Deficits
A new study published by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy shows that carbon pricing has the capacity to raise revenue in European countries and reduce their fiscal deficits more effectively than other taxes.
The new policy paper, entitled "Less pain, more gain: the potential of carbon pricing reduce Europe's fiscal deficits" and authored by Professor Michael Jacobs and several co-authors looked at a new analysis conducted by Vivid Economics of the potential impact of energy and carbon taxes, as well as the changes to the European Union Emissions Trading System. The paper outlines how energy and carbon taxes raise as much revenue as other forms of taxation while having the added benefit of enacting reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and causing less damage to economic growth.
The paper concludes: "Many European countries are running high annual fiscal deficits and have high debt liabilities, and are looking at options for raising tax revenues. While energy-carbon taxes have generally been considered to be instruments of environmental rather than fiscal policy, it is time to reconsider that view."

Professor Jacobs' analysis suggests that energy and carbon taxes are capable of having a smaller impact than other taxes, such as labour taxes, on gross domestic product (GDP) and employment.
For example, an energy tax package introduced in Spain which included an increase in duties on transport fuels has the capacity to raise more than 10 billion euros each year by 2020, while similar packages implemented in Poland and Hungary could generate approximately 5 million euros and 1 billion euros a year, respectively.
The paper points out that the evidence shows that energy and carbon taxes "currently play too small a role in the tax portfolio of many European countries." It adds: "This evidence is not widely known, which perhaps is why energy-carbon taxes do not fulfil their potential role in fiscal strategy."
It states: "Unlike the taxation of labour or consumption via VAT, there is an appropriate minimum level of energy taxation. This minimum reflects the costs energy consumption imposes on society. Those costs are primarily proportional to the carbon content of energy (more precisely, its contribution to global warming)."

The paper suggests: "It is crucially important for the future low-carbon competitiveness of the EU to get the taxation of the major fuel types - petrol and diesel - right. Currently, EU countries collect less revenue from diesel than they could, with negative implications for the fiscal balance."
"The solution is to agree a collective increase in diesel tax rates. Of course, rates which have for so long remained differentiated cannot be raised overnight, because the public would not accept it. Yet, a gradual programme of alignment would be worthwhile for all countries and for each individually."
Source: Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
Image Source: Karsten Hitzschke (some rights reserved)

ENERGY - More Than 3,000 Natural Gas Leaks Discovered In Boston's Aging Pipeline System, Finds New Study
There are more than 3,000 leaks in the natural-gas pipeline system that serves the City of Boston, according to new research from Boston University and Duke University.
The new research is following on the heels of the devastating fires that were caused by natural gas leaks during Hurricane Sandy. Safety concerns have been raised because of potential flooding damage that may have been done to the gas pipeline pressure regulators located there.
As a result of the research in Boston, more than 3,356 separate natural gas leaks under the streets of Boston were found. "While our study was not intended to assess explosion risks, we came across six locations in Boston where gas concentrations exceeded the threshold above which explosions can occur," said Nathan Phillips, co-author of the study, and an associate professor in BU's Department of Earth and Environment.
In the U.S., natural gas pipeline failures kill an average of 17 people every year, cause 68 injuries, and cause around $133 million in property damage, according to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Natural gas leaks are also a major environmental problem because natural gas is almost entirely methane, a very-potent greenhouse gas that also lowers air quality. The leaks are also simply a significant loss of resources. Over $3 billion of natural gas is lost every year in the U.S. due to leaks.
"Repairing these leaks will improve air quality, increase consumer health and safety, and save money," said co-author Robert B. Jackson, Nicholas Professor of Global Environmental Change at Duke. "We just have to put the right financial incentives into place."
The researchers conducted the research by using a "new, high-precision methane analyzer" installed in a GPS-equipped car to map the gas leaks under Boston. They then drove over all the 785 road miles within the city limits, discovering the 3,356 known leaks.

"The leaks were distributed evenly across neighborhoods and were associated with old cast-iron underground pipes, rather than neighborhood socioeconomic indicators. Levels of methane in the surface air on Boston's streets exceeded fifteen times the normal atmospheric background value."
Boston's not unique in these regards, though - most other aging cities around the globe have old pipeline infrastructure that is likely to be leaking. The researchers are highly-recommending that 'coordinated gas-leaks mapping campaigns' be developed in cities where the old infrastructure is likely to be a significant risk. "The researchers will continue to quantify the health, safety, environmental, and economic impacts of the leaks, which will be made available to policymakers and utilities as they work to replace and repair leaking natural gas pipeline infrastructure."
The new research is being published this week in the online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Pollution.
Source: Boston University College of Arts and SciencesImage Credits: Boston University College of Arts & Sciences

ENERGY - Student's invention harvests energy from earthquakes
(Phys.org)-A wireless vibration sensor being developed by a Victoria University student could provide a low-cost solution for engineers to monitor the damage of buildings affected by earthquakes.

ENERGY - Transforming 'noise' into mechanical energy at nanometric level
Scientists have developed a method that enables efficiently using the random movement of a molecule in order to make a macroscopic-scale lever oscillate.

FASHION - 25 Shoes For Baby Boomer Feet

HOMES - $200 Earthen Geodesic Dome Cabin Uses Salvaged Materials
This cozy cabin in the woods was an exercise in resourcefulness and even bartering of skills for a community of natural builders in Oregon.

HOMES - Fresh Japanese Style Mobile Tiny Home is a "Little Piece of Sky"
Cedar panelling and a roof outfitted with clerestory windows make this tiny home on wheels a light and fresh place to live in.

HOMES - Lightweight, Recyclable Tree Tent is Inspired by Airships
Combining airship and autosport design principles, this low-impact shelter allows you to sleep suspended among the trees.

PLANTS - Le Rouge et le Noir: Where the black dahlia gets its color
The molecular mechanisms whereby a spectrum of dahlias, from white to yellow to red to purple, get their color are already well known, but the black dahlia has hitherto remained a mystery. Now, a study reveals for the first time that the distinctive black-red coloring is based on an increased accumulation of anthocyanins as a result of drastically reduced concentrations of flavones.

PLANTS - Scientists discover carnivorous plant using sticky catapulting tentacles
The first detailed analysis of a WA native carnivorous plant by a group of German scientists has confirmed the presence of a unique mechanism for trapping prey.

SCIENCE - How Silicon Will Spur A Boom In Solid-State Lighting
Guest post written by Bill Watkins

SCIENCE - Materials science: One size cloaks all
Scientists have developed a metamaterial invisibility cloak that can adapt to hide different sized objects. The findings represent a useful advance for more practical applications of metamaterial cloaking.

SCIENCE - New technique excites atoms and molecules using pulsed laser
The best method to obtain the most precise information on the inner structure of atoms and molecules is to excite them by means of resonant laser light. Unfortunately, just this laser light (above a certain intensity) can lead to measurable modifications within the atom's electron shell. Scientists of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) have now shown experimentally how to prevent such "light shifts". This confirms the advantages of "hyper" Ramsey excitation that had already been predicted theoretically. This method can make their optical ytterbium atomic clocks even more accurate. Furthermore, "hyper" Ramsey excitation can be helpful in numerous applications where the focus lies on a precise, controlled interaction between atoms and laser light. The results have been published in the current issue of the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

SCIENCE - One material, two types of magnetism
When placed next to a bar magnet, an aluminum ball draws gently towards the magnet. In contrast, a ball made of silver moves out of the magnetic field. The mechanisms underlying these different behaviors are known as paramagnetism and diamagnetism, respectively. Surprisingly, the material called BiTeI-composed of layers of bismuth, tellurium and iodine atoms-can be either diamagnetic or paramagnetic, depending on how it is prepared.

SCIENCE - Physicist proposes simple experiment to detect foam-like structure of the universe
(Phys.org)-Prominent physicist Jacob D. Bekenstein, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has proposed a simple experiment in a paper he's uploaded to the preprint server arXiv, that he says could be used to measure quantum foam. Instead of looking to ever faster particle accelerators, he proposes using an ordinary block of glass, a laser and a detector.

SCIENCE - Professor designs shape shifters
(Phys.org)-Craig Lusk's job takes on many shapes.

SOLAR - Creating Rainbows Using Nanoscale Structures May Lead To Better Solar Cells And LED-Displays
This article has been reposted from Solar Love with full permission.
Researchers from King's College London have developed a detailed process to separate colors and create 'rainbows' on a metal surface by utilizing nanoscale structures. This method will likely lead to improved solar cells and LED displays, according to the researchers.

The modern discovery of how to separate and project different colors was actually also made at King's College, more than 150 years ago. This discovery led to the development of color televisions and other displays. In modern research, the primary goal has been for the manipulation of color on the nanoscale. When this capability is further developed it will lead to great changes in imaging and spectroscopy, the sensing of chemical and biological agents, and also (likely) to better solar cells, LED displays, and TV screens.
In the new research, light of different colors was 'trapped' at different positions of a nanostructured area, by using nanostructures designed specifically for this function. Specific to the nanostructure's geometry, a 'trapped' rainbow "could be created on a gold film that has the dimension on the order of a few micrometers - about 100 times smaller than the width of a human hair."
Professor Anatoly Zayats explains: "Nanostructures of various kinds are being considered for solar cell applications to boost light absorption efficiency. Our results mean that we do not need to keep solar cells illuminated at a fixed angle without compromising the efficiency of light coupling in a wide range of wavelengths. When used in reverse for screens and displays, this will lead to wider viewing angles for all possible colors."
The primary difference between natural rainbows and these artificial rainbows is that the researchers can actually control where and in what order the colors appear, simply by altering the nanostructures' parameters. And in addition to this, they can also separate colors to appear on different sides of the nanostructures.

Co-author Dr Jean-Sebastien Bouillard says: "The effects demonstrated here will be important to provide 'color' sensitivity in infrared imaging systems for security and product control. It will also enable the construction of microscale spectrometers for sensing applications."
"The ability to couple light to nanostructures with multicolour characteristics will be of major importance for light capturing devices in a huge range of applications, from light sources, displays, photo detectors and solar cells to sensing and light manipulation in optical circuits for tele and data communications."
The new research is published in Nature's Scientific Reports.
Source: King's College LondonImage Credits: Dr. Jean-Sebastien Bouillard, Dr. Ryan McCarron

SPACE - Could chlorofluorocarbons someday provide evidence of alien life?
Hairspray might one day serve as the sign that aliens have reshaped distant worlds, researchers say. Such research to find signs of alien technology is now open to funding from the public.

Yesterday Mars Science Laboratory principal investigator John Grotzinger set the entire space science world abuzz with a tantalizing promise of "earthshaking" news on the horizon-literally "one for the history books," as he put it in an interview with NPR. It seems one of Curiosity's main science tools, the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument, has discovered... something... within recently-gathered samples, possibly in windblown-material scooped at a site called "Rocknest" earlier this month.

TECH - 1000 calibration reports . . . and counting
The U.S. Internet - and indeed any communication system that sends information by fiber-optic cable - depends critically on strong, clear signals propagating reliably through transmission lines. The principal measurement for evaluating the performance of those systems and their components is optical fiber power, so the meters used have to be very precisely calibrated.

TECH - 3D printers and 10 more gifts for the DIY set
Call them makers, hackers DIYers or nerds, but I've been spending more time hanging out with and talking to people who are building cool products on Kickstarter, helping startups understand the ins and outs of product design and people who are combining existing tech in cool new ways. So I've asked a subset of them to help me come up with a list for the people on your list who are established hackers and for those who might be interested to give hacking a try.
Here are some of the suggestions from Emile Patrone, the founder of DIY project sales site Tindie, Scott Miller, the founder of product design consulting firm Dragon Innovation, and William Hurley, the co-founder of design firm Chaotic Moon Studios. And yes, all of them recommended some sort of 3D printer, either the Form-1 that began as a Kickstarter campaign and will sell for $3,299 in April, or the MakerBot Replicator for $2,199 (because of Hurricane Sandy it looks like that won't arrive in time for the holidays though). But like a soldering iron, I'm going to assume if your hacker recipient wants a 3D printer they already have one.
Product: Simon Says
Cost: $12.95
What you need to know: The Simon Says board is a beginner board kit that plays a light and sound-based memory game. The board plays a series of sounds and you play it back in sequence. The kit aims to teach people how to solder, and is also uses open source hardware so you can program your own light and sound combinations after you've maxed out the ones already programmed on the board.
Product: The Rascal
Cost: $175
What you need to know: This is a somewhat hard-to-buy gift, since they are batch-made, but the boards are basically portable (if you include a Wi-Fi radio and a battery) web servers that you can program using Python. People have used them to control any electronic device from the web. You can hook your electronic device into the board (you will probably need a shield of some sorts) and then write some code to build a web site from which you can now control the device. With the right board and shield I may be able to figure out how to control my oven from the web (yes, this is a dream of mine).
Product: Stirling Engine Model
Cost: $129
What you need to know: The product description says this is beautiful as well as a lesson in thermodynamics, and who wouldn't want a desk-side sculpture that also doubles as a physics experiment? Plus you have to make it! As paperweights go the replica of a Stirling Engine, (there's one inside a Segway) shows you how to convert an external heat source into motion via a fan, car and generator experiment. Outrage your steampunk friends with a more alternative engine.
Product: Electric Imp Breakout
Cost: $19.95
What you need to know: The Electric Imp guys have the ambitious goal of bringing Wi-Fi to everything using an SD-style card that you can plug into a variety of gadgets, appliances or even lamps. then you program those elements via a web-based service. You can't get the easy-to-use version of the products yet, but you can buy a breakout board and build your own connected product if you're so inclined.
Product: ExtraCore
Cost: $10.50
What you need to know: A lot of people buy Arduino boards and share them between projects. This makes sense because those boards containing the logic processors can be expensive. The downside is that you may have a lot of half-complete projects waiting around for a board to make it work. ExtraCore is a kit that can power your project for a third of the cost of an Arduino board. The key to this board is that it's small and Looks just like Arduino Uno to the integrated developer environment.
Product: Twine
Cost: $99
What you need to know: Connecting stuff to the Internet is pretty much an essential step in many DIY projects, and Twine makes is easy enough that I can do it. The product is a rubberized self-contained sensor pack that also has a Wi-Fi radio that outputs to a web site. The Twine web app reflects what the sensors see in real time, so you can than write a little program telling Twine that when X happens it should take an action that might send info to a web page, to an email, to Twitter or to the Pebble Smart watch.
Product: The 2WD Rovera Arduino Robot Kit
Cost: $174.99
What you need to know: Who doesn't want to build a friendly little robot to play with and/or help you in your plans for world domination. The kit includes everything you need to build a two-wheeled robot including the motor shield board, wheels and wires. It's unclear if you can add a sensor that would allow you to program the robot to look soulfully at you and say, "No disassemble."
Product: MiniStylophone Kit
Cost: $9:50
What you need to know: This is a kit for beginners that will allow them to play music and record sounds for later playback. The kit requires the recipient to solder 24 resistors to the board, so make sure your recipient has a soldering iron. When done you use a stylus to play the music on the stylophone. You can hook it into other projects or annoy your friends and parents.
Product: Membership to a hack space
Cost: It varies, but can range from $99 to $175 per month.
What you need to know: There are myriad places where like-minded DIYers can get together and take classes, use equipment and store their projects from the Artisan's Asylum in Boston to TechShop which has spaces in the Bay Area, Austin, Detroit and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. For a listing of other popular places check out the Hackerspaces Wiki.
Product: Gamby
Cost: $25
What you need to know: This is a limited edition Arduino shield to combine with an Arduino board to make a mobile gaming console. It has a monochrome LCD screen and four-way directional pad for that up-up-down-down gameplay. The games are already in your head, so get coding and start playing them on your very own hardware. Great gift for a special proposal or an awesome product to make with your kids.

European researchers have squeezed radar technology into a low-cost fingernail-sized chip package that promises to lead to a new range of distance and motion sensing applications. The novel device could have important uses in the automotive industry, as well as mobile devices, robotics and other applications.

TECH - Designers reinvent the remote
Sixty years after its creation under the name "Lazy Bones", the remote control is poised to change our relationship with digital content. The EPFL+ECAL Lab, in collaboration with the Kudelski Group, announced today the project, "Lazy Bytes," which thoroughly reconsiders this connection with the content now available on television. Lazy Bytes brings together creations from ECAL in Lausanne, ENSCI - Les Ateliers in Paris, the Royal College of Art in London, and Parsons The New School for Design in New York.

TECH - E-Waste By the Numbers: New Infographic Breaks Down U.S. Electronics Consumption
The infographic has some troubling statistics, like only 18 percent of our electronics are disposed of properly.

TECH - Engineers pave the way towards 3D printing of personal electronics
Scientists are developing new materials which could one day allow people to print out custom-designed personal electronics such as games controllers which perfectly fit their hand shape.

TECH - Giving Thanks For All That Tech
A year ago today, I was standing in the middle of the island in Times Square in New York, snapping pictures on my smartphone of my son's high school marching band and then emailing them to family and friends back in California within seconds. Next to me, my husband, connected via video chat on his iPhone to our daughter who was studying abroad in the U.K., held his phone above the head of the crowd so she could watch her brother march by in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

TECH - How To Make Your Website More Popular And Raise Conversions
Video is now an essential component within websites, part of the rapid transition to visual communications forcing writers like me to spend the weekends practicing with a camcorder. Video makes websites stickier and increases conversions.

TECH - Improving 3-D image capture in real time
Researchers have developed a technique to improve the capture in real time of three-dimensional images. The work has applications in aeronautics, the automotive sector and operating rooms.

TECH - Inside Thingiverse, The Radically Open Website Powering The 3D Printing Movement
If a 3-D printer can make it,

TECH - Instagram's Thanksgiving Is Its Busiest Day Ever
Instagram had its busiest day ever on Thanksgiving, with 10 million photos shared mentioning turkey day-related words, the company said.

TECH - Luxury For Less: New Web Sites And Shops Offer Gently Used Designer Goods
Consignment shopping, once déclassé, is now chic. For some style mavens it's not just a money saver but a moneymaker as well.

TECH - Protect Your Data From Fire And Floods
Taking time out from furiously stuffing turkey into my mouth to answer a quick question from the mailbox.

TECH - Scientists design a revolutionary data storage device
Scientists have designed one of the most advanced data storage devices in the world.

TECH - The state of broadband in the U.S. [infographic]
For many people, their broadband connections are their lifelines. So what is the state of broadband in the U.S.? Well, when it comes to speed and price and adoption, we're certainly not a leader - "middling" is a better way to describe our position.
Currently 119 million people that live in the U.S. don't have broadband connections (for many reasons, including not wanting it or not being able to afford it) while 19 million don't even have the option to get it. Our rate of broadband adoption (62 percent) lags behind countries such as South Korea, the U.K.,and Germany, according this year's Federal Communication Commission report. (We're closer to the penetration rates to Japan, Finland, and Canada.) These numbers are not likely to change soon, given that broadband growth is slowing and providers are moving away from wireline infrastructure.
Pricewise, we're not in the top 10 in any speed tier, and in the in the highest tier - 15-25 Mbps - we're 26th out of 32 countries. Hong Kong and Denmark both have cheaper internet - and faster average broadband speeds.
In this infographic, we highlight some key facts on broadband in the U.S. We obtained the data from the FCC, the National Broadband Map and Akamai.


196.7 million (62%)

Americans who have broadband


rank in wired broadband adoption per capita

Green denotes areas with at least two wireline broadband providers. Click to see how well your area is covered by both wireline and wireless broadband providers. Source: National Broadband Map.


6.6 Mbps


U.S. broadband speed rank worldwide
Akamai State of the Internet Q2 2012
The average internet speed worldwide is 3.0 mbps. While the U.S. beats the average, it doesn't stand out among other developed nations. Source: Akamai


speed in Kansas City, using Google Fiber

Google Fiber has by far the fastest speeds in America. Click to test your speed. Source: Google/Ookla



amount telcoms invest in U.S. broadband, per person annually



what Americans on average pay for a standalone broadband subscription every year (5-15 mbps)


This map shows which broadband technologies serve different parts of the U.S. Click to see what type of infrastructure your hometown has. Source: National Broadband Map

TECH - Wireless networks: Mobile devices keep track
A more sensitive technique for determining user position could lead to improved location-based mobile services.

WIND - Europe Could Be 100% Renewable by 2050, If It Gets Its Act Together
A new report suggests that 100% clean energy is feasible for Europe, but there are major organizational barriers in the way.

WIND - Faroe Islands Demonstrate The "World's First" Smart Grid
The Faroe Islands archipelago (group of islands), which are 540 square miles (1,400 square miles) in area, are demonstrating the "world's first" smart grid, and large-scale utilization of wind power.
The purposes and the anatomy of a smart grid is a mystery to some, but I will explain that.

The Purpose of a Smart Grid

First: Most power plants (especially steam plants such as coal, natural gas, and nuclear) cannot scale their electricity production much to match electricity demand, because they take too long to do so. As a result, they operate quite inefficiently as well.
This causes utility companies to use inefficient and costly grid sustenance systems such as peaking power plants to prevent brief blackouts.
Wind and solar power plants have a different but similar issue - they are not constant power providers without energy storage. Battery energy storage, for example, makes them fully scalable - they can respond to changes of power demand instantly, at their optimum efficiency, and you don't even have to wait for them to start.
Unfortunately, batteries tend to be expensive. However, there are potentially cheap ways around that, as well as alternatives to batteries, including pumped hydroelectric storage.

Smart grids are intended to match electricity demand with production to minimize the amount of electricity that is wasted, and also to augment electricity production if possible in order to meet demand in the most efficient way possible, hence the term "smart." They use advanced information and communications technologies "to gather and act on information, such as information about the behaviors of suppliers and consumers, in an automated fashion to improve the efficiency, reliability, economics, and sustainability of the production and distribution of electricity."
In the case of the Faroe Islands, surplus electricity is transmitted across the islands in a matter of seconds to whoever needs it, using: Yes, you guessed it! Computers.
A computer is a tremendously powerful tool, unparalleled by any other.
Source: BusinessGreen

WORK - 5 Ways to Work for a Tech Start-up -- Even if You Can't Code
As we've seen in BRAVO's new series, Start-Ups: Silicon Valley, tech start-ups seem to be all the rage these days. Despite the fact that the show doesn't exactly tell the standard start-up story (and that most start-ups actually fail), working for an early-stage company is a great way to take on more responsibility, make a big impact, and potentially make a lot of money.

WORK - How To Plan For A Second Career

WORK - What Is It Like To Work At Hulu?
Note: The following is reflected of my opinion only and is not in any way the official Hulu response (just sayin'). For the company's statement on what defines Hulu, see What defines Hulu? (hulu.com) at the Hulu Jobs site.


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