The Daily Flash -Eco, Space, Tech (5/14)

6a00d8341bf7f753ef01053691ebe1970c.jpg Life on Earth Arose Just Once

All life on Earth shares a single common ancestor, a new statistical analysis confirms. The idea that life forms share a common ancestor is “a central pillar of evolutionary theory,” says Douglas Theobald, a biochemist at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. “But recently there has been some mumbling, especially from microbiologists, that it may not be so cut-and-dried.”Because microorganisms of different species often swap genes, some scientists have proposed that multiple primordial life forms could have tossed their genetic material into life’s mix, creating a web, rather than a tree of life. To determine which hypothesis is more likely correct, Theobald put various evolutionary ancestry models through rigorous statistical tests. A universal common ancestor is at least 102,860 times more probable than having multiple ancestors, Theobald calculates.

100512-space-artificialgravity-hlarge-630p.hlarge Artificial gravity could solve space problems

New plans for artificial gravity tests in space using centrifuges may hold the key to helping future astronauts ward off the debilitating loss of muscle and bone due to weightlessness on long missions to asteroids or the moon under NASA's revised space exploration plan.The new NASA budget proposed by President Barack Obama not only sets sights on long-duration missions, but also extends the lifetime of the International Space Station. Upgrades for the space station "could include a centrifuge to support research into human physiology," according to a summary by the Office of Management and Budget.

Ford-american-journey-01 Ford’s Tweeting Car Embarks On ‘American Journey 2.0′

Ford is taking a road trip to Maker Faire to show off what it hopes will be the next step in mobile connectivity — cloud-based in-car apps that, among other things, allow a car to Tweet from the road. The tweeting car was one of two Ford Fiestas that left Dearborn, Michigan today bound for the Silicon Valley DIY festival. The cars are linked via Caravan Track, a cloud-based app designed by University of Michigan students, and other experimental applications. “We believe this is the first time vehicles will be socially connected through the Internet during a cross-country trip,” T.J. Giuli, a Ford research engineer, said. The apps, he added, “really explore new boundaries in the use of digital tools to expand social links.”


1 in 4 Households Use Cell Phones

One in 4 households has a cell phone but no traditional landlines, a trend led by the young and the poor that is showing no sign of abating. The 25 percent who had only a mobile phone in the last half of 2009 was up 2 percentage points from the first half of the year, according to data reported Wednesday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Spotlighting how steadily people's telephone habits are evolving, in the beginning of 2006 just 11 percent of homes had only a cell. The move away from landlines — just 15 percent of households have a traditional phone and no cell phone, about half the rate of 2006 — is having a widespread effect. It affects everything from how telephone companies stay profitable to how polling firms and government agencies gather data to how 911 service providers locate people in need of help.

4565164969_692a7ce2d1_b Printable Brick Could Cut World's Carbon Emissions by "At Least" 800 Million Tons a Year

Metropolis magazine has announced the winner of its 2010 Next Generation contest: A brick that doesn't have to be baked or fired, but rather, can be grown.The Next Generation contest awards designs that tackle the world's problems, and the humble brick is a Big Problem. Tossing a clay brick into a coal-powered kiln, then firing it up to 2,000˚F, emits about 1.3 pounds of carbon dioxide. Multiply that by the 1.23 trillion bricks manufactured each year, and you’re talking about more pollution than what’s produced by all the airplanes in the world. Ginger Krieg Dosier, a professor at the American University of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, invented an alternative: A process for printing bricks, using low-cost rapid-prototyping machines. The process starts with sand, which is then printed with a layer of bacteria, calcium chloride, and urea. Microbes in the sand react with that mixture, forming a glue that binds the sand together. The bricks are built up in the printer, one layer at a time, like lasagna (but with urea). When finished, they can be as strong as marble. Dosier is dreaming big: She figures that replacing traditional bricks with her biomanufactured masonry would reduce world-wide carbon emissions by "at least" 800 million tons a year.

Bluebox1 Bluebox is Turning iPad Into an In-Flight Entertainment System

You know that handheld media-friendly new tablet gizmo from Apple? Yeah, that one. Turns out that companies are looking at it and wondering how to use it in business–and one, Bluebox, has turned it into an in-flight entertainment box. If you think about it, this is an ideal solution for in-flight entertainment. iPads are small, portable, give the user control over when and what they do for entertainment, and since they can be wirelessly-served data through specialized apps, it's easy for the operator to serve out films, TV shows, and what-not. Their battery life is good for all but the longest flights, and re-charging them is easy.Hence Bluebox Avionic's interest in the devices. In this case, the company is looking to use the iPads to supplement hard-wired in-flight systems, and has built dedicated apps for the iPads that complement the 200,000 or so available through Apple–except that the Bluebox app connects to the AV system and serves up movies, 3-D games and so on, and even enables in-flight gambling.


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