Telepathy for rats
“Two rats – one in North Carolina, the other in Brazil – worked together on a task by communicating telepathically,” reports NBCNews.com. “Electrical signals from a ‘leader’ rat’s brain were collected, encoded and then zapped into the ‘follower’ rat’s cortex in the form of an electrical signal. The follower rat then pressed one of two levers based on a light visible only to the leader rat. The Duke University experiment is the first time two animals have collaborated through such an artificial link, and shows that the mammal brain can be trained to act on electrical signals from another animal.”
New jargon for the OED
“Thx to the lexicographers at Oxford Dictionaries, who added a fresh round of tech jargon to its online English Dictionary, you can now look up words like ‘thx,’ ” says The Christian Science Monitor. Other additions:
Touchless: this term refers to gesture-control devices such as Microsoft’s Kinect gaming accessory that uses a camera to interpret body motions.
Cruft: badly designed or unwanted software.
Range anxiety: a term that will be heard more frequently as electric cars become more common and drivers worry whether they will make it to their destination before the battery dies.
Making mail disappear
“A driver of a white Prius with a giant, red plastic flag affixed to its side is rolling through the hilly streets of San Francisco, undelivering mail from mailboxes,” reports CNN.com. “The driver is not a thief. He and the car are part of a start-up called Outbox that is attempting to pick up where the embattled U.S. Postal Services leaves off – by digitizing physical mail. The driver, dubbed an ‘unpostman,’ visits subscribers’ homes three times a week. … He collects the letters, bills, magazines and advertisements that were deposited by official postal workers and delivers them to a warehouse. There they are opened and photographed, and the resulting digital files are sent electronically to the recipient through the Outbox website. … The idea is that for $4.99 a month, someone can make their physical mail disappear.”
Women as leftovers
“Over 27? Unmarried? Female? In China, you could be labelled a ‘leftover woman’ by the state – but some professional Chinese women these days are happy being single,” writes Mary Kay Magistad for BBC News. “Even the website of the government’s supposedly feminist All-China Women’s Federation featured articles about ‘leftover women’ – until enough women complained. State-run media started using the term sheng nu in 2007. That same year the government warned that China’s gender imbalance – caused by selective abortions because of the one-child policy – was a serious problem. ‘Ever since 2007, the state media have aggressively disseminated this term in surveys, news reports, columns, cartoons and pictures, basically stigmatizing educated women over the age of 27 or 30 who are still single,’ says Leta Hong-Fincher, an American doing a sociology degree at Tsinghua University in Beijing.”
Want your own army tank?
“Weapons buffs may stock semiautomatics in the gun safe,” writes Michael Phillips of The Wall Street Journal. “But nothing makes a statement like having an army tank in the garage. Scattered about the country are members of a small fraternity of guys who own tanks. They are hyper-avid history buffs or hyper-edgy investors or just wealthy men who can now afford hyper-sized versions of the toys they played with when they were boys. Tank brokers – yes, there is such a thing – estimate there are several hundred to a thousand private tank owners in the U.S.”
Thought du jour
Life is like a B-movie. You don’t want to have to leave in the middle of it, but you don’t want to see it again.
Ted Turner, U.S. media mogul (1938- )