Horizon highlights – Thinnest balloon, lordship for sale, alternative storytelling
Our regular roundup of sci-tech stories from across the web includes: A balloon only one atom thick, an English lordship for sale online, and new ways to tell old stories. Let’s kick it off:
Security – ‘Fakeproof’ e-passport is cloned in minutes
"New microchipped passports designed to be foolproof against identity theft can be cloned and manipulated in minutes and accepted as genuine by the computer software recommended for use at international airports." [Via The Times, UK]
From the Monitor's archive – U.S. defends laptop searches at the border: "For the past 18 months, immigration officials at border entries have been searching and seizing some citizens’ laptops, cellphones, and BlackBerry devices when they return from international trips. In some cases, the officers go through the files while the traveler is standing there. In others, they take the device for several hours and download the hard drive’s content. After that, it’s unclear what happens to the data."
Engineering – Scientists Create World's Thinnest Balloon
"Scientists have created the world's thinnest balloon, made of a single layer of carbon just one atom thick. The fabric that the balloon is made of is leakproof to even the tiniest airborne molecules." [Via Yahoo]
Royalty novelty – English 'Lord' puts life up for sale on eBay
"An eccentric British millionaire has put his entire life up for sale on the Internet – including his title of Lord of the Manor of Warleigh – in the hope of converting his assets into cash." [Via MSNBC]
From the Monitor's archive – Why we do what we do on eBay: "In the 12 years since eBay's launch, the online auction house has established itself as a one-stop shop for all things rare, kitschy, and collectible. But recently, a small group of economists have mined the site for a different prize: clues on how people spend their money. Behind the millions of online auctions lies a virtual mini-economy flush with raw data. Harvesting this information has fed a new branch of economics, one that has proved again and again that shoppers act in unexpected ways."
Alternative storytelling – We Tell Stories
"Penguin asked six authors – Charles Cummings, Toby Litt, Kevin Brooks, Nicci French, Matt Mason, and Mohsin Hamid – to take the first line of one of six books – The 39 Steps, Haunted Dolls House, Fairy Tales, Thérèse Raquin, Hard Times, 1001 Nights, and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland – a tell a short story in a new media format over 6 weeks. This odd project is worth exploring." [Via 3QuarksDaily]
Responsible Tech – Banking by phone for the poor
"It can scale mountains in a single bound and wend its way down the most wretched roads. It is the mighty cell phone signal – and the latest hope for bringing financial services to the world's masses who don't have access to banks." [Via Technology Review]
From the Monitor's archive – More computer brands chase the ‘$100 laptop’: "Bye bye, bulk. New lines of tiny PCs fit both in your purse and into third-world classrooms."