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SOCIAL STUDIES

A smart arm: Biological computer will some day diagnose disease Add to ...

One day, a handy computer

“Forget smartphones, how about a smart arm?” asks the New Scientist. “Human cells capable of performing simple arithmetic could one day be implanted in your body as a biological computer to diagnose disease, administer drugs or interface with electronic devices. Martin Fussenegger and colleagues at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich created biological versions of two key digital circuits inside two sets of embryonic kidney cells: a half adder and half subtractor. As the names suggest, they add or subtract two binary numbers. These are the most complex biological circuits ever created, and could form the building blocks of more advanced computational components.”

Working out pays off?

If you feel underpaid, you may want to hit the gym,” says The Huffington Post. “You’ll feel better immediately, and over the long term you’ll get better pay. That is the implication of a new study in the June issue of the Journal of Labor Research, according to SmartMoney. The study found that workers that exercise on a regular basis earn 9 per cent more than inactive workers. … Some workers may really need the exercise. Forty-four per cent of workers have gained weight in their current job, according to a recent study by CareerBuilder. Jobs that make people gain weight include law, social work, teaching and public relations.”

A sneaky gift from Dad

“Parents are using iPad video calls with their children to snoop on the lives of their estranged or former spouses,” writes Robin Henry of The Sunday Times of London. “Applications such as Apple’s FaceTime and Skype, which offer free video calls on tablets and smartphones, have been cited in custody cases where family lawyers have claimed they have been misused for ‘intrusive purposes.’ In one case, a father asked his child to ‘give him a tour’ of his ex-wife’s new home. … Louise Halford, a partner at Pannone solicitors, said her firm had seen a steady stream of cases in recent months. ‘I’d never head of this issue before this year but it seems a lot of children got smartphones and iPads for Christmas and in all the cases I’ve handled they were presents from the dad,’ she said. Ms. Halford said while most video calls were innocent, in some cases ‘the estranged partner has a history of obsessive or controlling behavior.’”

The razor’s edge

“This year Gillette debuted a 30-second television spot that will go down in the annals of razor blade marketing,” writes Scott Cendrowski of Fortune magazine. “Actor Brandon Quinn begins by telling the audience that Gillette sent him around the world to see how long he could shave with a single ProGlide cartridge. After gallivanting … he tells viewers what Gillette never had: That the company’s blades last up to five weeks. Gillette has always been famously tight-lipped when it came to blade life. … ‘This is the most specific we’ve been,’ says Gillette spokesman Damon Jones.”

What’s cool today?

“Most would agree that the concept of being ‘cool’ emerged after the Second World War,” says Psych Central. “Characteristics associated with coolness included rebelliousness, emotional control, toughness, thrill-seeking and generally doing things the way the individual desired. … In a new study, a University of Rochester Medical Center psychologist has found the characteristics associated with coolness today are markedly different from those that generated the concept of cool. ‘When I set out to find what people mean by coolness, I wanted to find corroboration of what I thought coolness was,’ said Ilan Dar-Nimrod, PhD, lead author of ‘Coolness: An Empirical Investigation,’ published by the Journal of Individual Differences. ‘I was not prepared to find that coolness has lost so much of its historical origins and meaning … The main thing [today] is: Do I like this person? Is this person nice to people, attractive, confident and successful? That’s cool today, at least among young mainstream individuals.’”

Nothing better to do

Last week, a mob figure was sentenced to about 8½ years in prison for plotting robberies and burglaries with a longtime colleague while both were in their 70s, the Chicago Tribune reports. “As Arthur Rachel briefly addressed the court during the sentencing, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber interrupted him with a question. ‘What possessed you to get involved with this caper after you (already) spent half your life in prison?’ the judge asked. ‘Nobody takes it seriously, your honour,’ Mr. Rachel said with a shrug. ‘It’s the way we are. We got nothing better to do. We sit around talking.’”

Thought du jour

“It is the vice of scholars to suppose that there is no knowledge in the world but that of books.” – William Hazlitt (1778-1830), English writer

 

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