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Horizons

Horizon highlights – 'Rethinking the basics' edition

By / January 30, 2009



Our regular roundup of sci-tech stories from across the Web includes: The life of a serial inventor, a field guide to digital photography, and, oh yeah, the world might be a hologram. Let’s kick it off:

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Essay: Elevating science, elevating democracy
"To be honest, the restoration of science was the least of it, but when Barack Obama proclaimed during his Inaugural Address that he would 'restore science to its rightful place,' you could feel a dark cloud lifting like a sigh from the shoulders of the scientific community in this country.... My first reaction was to worry that scientists were now in the awkward position of being expected to save the world. As they say, be careful what you wish for." [via NYTimes]

Video: Woody Norris on inventing the next amazing thing
"Woody Norris shows off two of his inventions that treat sound in new ways, and talks about his untraditional approach to inventing and education. As he puts it: 'Almost nothing has been invented yet.' So – what's next?" [via TED]

Business plan: Netflix attracting more subscribers through streaming video
"Netflix showed little sign of the economic slowdown that's been nailing other companies this corporate earnings season. But it attributed its fourth-quarter jump in revenue, profit and subscribers to a surprising factor: surging popularity of its online video streaming service." [via LATimes]

Theory: Our world may be a giant hologram
"According to Craig Hogan, a physicist at the Fermilab particle physics lab in Batavia, Illinois, GEO600 [the German-British Gravitational Wave Detector in Hanover, Germany] has stumbled upon the fundamental limit of space-time – the point where space-time stops behaving like the smooth continuum Einstein described and instead dissolves into 'grains,' just as a newspaper photograph dissolves into dots as you zoom in. 'It looks like GEO600 is being buffeted by the microscopic quantum convulsions of space-time,' says Hogan. If this doesn't blow your socks off, then Hogan, who has just been appointed director of Fermilab's Center for Particle Astrophysics, has an even bigger shock in store: 'If the GEO600 result is what I suspect it is, then we are all living in a giant cosmic hologram.' " [via New Scientist]

Advice: Green screens
"What's the most environmentally friendly television?... TVs are getting thirstier, and the biggest, least-efficient plasmas can potentiallyuse as much electricity as a refrigerator – traditionally the most power-hungry appliance in your house. But those are the sets at the extreme end of the market. If you shop carefully, you can get any kind of fancy new TV you want without dramatically increasing your energy consumption." [via Slate]

Endorsement: Digital photography's missing manual
"In fairly concise, jargon-free terms, Pogue works to explain shooting, editing, and organizing pictures, and distributing them to your audience. 'These days, digital photography is photography. But even the cheapest pocket camera has over 100 features, half of which are never decently explained anywhere. I mean, come on, read the photo magazines: "Boost the ISO to 1600, dial up the aperture, or change the exposure compensation by 1/3EV." Huh?' he notes." [via CNET]

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