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SOCIAL STUDIES

Tweeting from beyond the grave? Add to ...

Death won’t stop tweets

“Death already has a surprisingly vivid presence online,” says CNN.com. “Social media sites are full of improvised memorials. … Now technology is changing death again, with tools that let you get in one last goodbye after your demise, or even more extensive communications from beyond the grave.” A new crop of start-ups will handle sending prewritten e-mails and posting to Facebook or Twitter once a person passes. One company is even toying with a service that tweets just like a specific person after they are gone. “It really allows you to be creative and literally extend the personality you had while alive, in death,” said James Norris, founder of DeathSocial. “It allows you to be able to say those final goodbyes.”

Your tongue as a compass

“Can you imagine feeling Earth’s magnetic field on the tip of your tongue?” asks the New Scientist. “Strangely, this is now possible, using a device that converts the tongue into a ‘display’ for output from environmental sensors. Gershon Dublon of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology devised a small pad containing electrodes in a five-by-five grid. Users put the pad, which Mr. Dublon calls Tongueduino, on their tongue. When hooked up to an electronic sensor, the pad converts signals from the sensor into small pulses of electric current across the grid, which the tongue ‘reads’ as a pattern of tingles. Mr. Dublon says the brain quickly adapts to new stimuli on the tongue and integrates them into our senses.” For example, if Tongueduino were attached to a sensor that detects Earth’s magnetic field, the tongue could be used as a compass.

Computers for the Amish

Covering an Amish trade show for U.S. National Public Radio, Robert Smith noticed a booth selling computers. “The key selling point, perhaps not surprisingly, is all the things the computer doesn’t do. … No Internet, no video, no music. It’s 1980s-era technology that lets you do basic word processing, spreadsheets and accounting. It’s the kind of thing some (but not all) Amish people would find acceptable to use for work. In general, the Amish are more willing to adopt new technology if they can justify it for business reasons and they can keep it out of the home.”

Bullets over America

“Roughly 10 billion rounds are manufactured in the U.S. each year, with a weight equal to two Titanics,” says Wired magazine. “More to the point, it’s enough bullets to pump 32 rounds into every man, woman and child in America.”

“Our immense appetite for bullets – and expertise in producing them – drives the entire global market, in which the U.S. is the biggest importer and exporter.”

A photographer’s dilemma

An enterprising Chinese boss outsourced his 12-year-old daughter’s homework assignment to nine of his employees, reports The Daily Telegraph. The senior executive’s cunning plan was revealed by the Qianjiang Evening News after one of his weary workers snitched to the local newspaper. The employee, who gave his name only as Chen, said it took three days to finish the homework. Students were asked to follow their parents back to their home towns and either draw a picture, create a video, take photographs or write an essay about the changes that had happened over the past decades. Chen, a professional photographer, reports: “My boss said it was practice for me, too. But there was a dilemma. I could not take great pictures, since they were supposed to be by a 12-year-old. But if the pictures were bad my boss would blame me.”

Thought du jour

“Light travels faster than sound – isn’t that why some people appear bright until you hear them speak?”

Steven Wright, U.S. comedian and writer (1955- )

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