Happy Fourth of July weekend! Our regular roundup of noteworthy stories from the web covers Wall-E's secret roots, bizarre patents from the war on terror, and how to get the most out of your trash.
If you think I missed a great story, feel free to post your links as a comment down below. That way, other readers can enjoy them as well. Let’s kick it off:
Energy – Garbage In, Megawatts Out
"This week, city counselors in Ottawa, Ontario, unanimously approved a new waste-to-energy facility that will turn 400 metric tons of garbage per day into 21 megawatts of net electricity – enough to power about 19,000 homes." [Via Technology Review]
Space – France plans revolution in space
Ambitious plans for European missions to the Moon and Mars are being considered by the French government. It wants to kick-start a revolution in space by letting EU politicians, not bureaucrats, decide on priorities for the European Space Agency (Esa). [Via BBC]
From the Monitor archive – Video: Space tourism is ready for takeoff: "Wanna see outer space? The round trip will only take 30 minutes. Xcor Aerospace is counting down to 2010 for the launch of its Lynx rocket ship. The two-seater tourist plane will blast toward the sky at 1,500 miles per hour."
Humor – Top 10 Strangest Anti-Terrorism Patents
"Technology has always played a big role in fighting terrorism. Some inventions are truly useful and will undoubtedly save lives, whereas others are so bizarre that one wonders how in the world they got patented. This list is about the latter." [Via Neatorama]
Goodbyes – Microsoft After Gates. (And Bill After Microsoft.)
“In some respects, this week won't be terribly different for Bill Gates than the previous 1,712 weeks he has spent working full-time at Microsoft, the company he co-founded as a teenager…. But normalcy will be an illusion.” [Via Newsweek]
From the Monitor archive – Update: Forget Jeeves, ask Powerset: "Microsoft just purchased the Silicon Valley start-up at the rumored price of $100 million. To follow up on this news, here’s my introduction to Powerset from May, with some fresh analysis on what this buyout means for Microsoft."
Wink, wink – ‘Wall-E’: An Homage to Mr. Jobs
"Talk about product placements. 'Wall-E,' the Pixar movie that took in $62.5 million over the weekend, is chock-full of references to Apple products. Perhaps that’s because Steven P. Jobs, the chief executive of Apple, used to own Pixar before he sold it to the Walt Disney Company." [Via NY Times's Bits blog]
Future watch – Video: Sony Flexible Full Color Paper Screen
A look at bendable plastic computer screens – geeks, prepare to get a little giddy. [Via YouTube]
From the Monitor archive – Dubai’s twirling tower: "Its 80 floors rotate independently, ensuring that the tower will never look the same way twice, the architects say. The stores pivot around a central spine, and in between each apartment spins a wind-turbine – an extra innovation that turns these rotating homes into self-sufficient powerhouses."