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Smart windows warm you up or cool you down

Smart windows can block heat

"Sweltering at your desk as the sun beats down? Don't worry, smart windows that change how much heat they let in will soon be able to keep you nice and cool," says the New Scientist. " 'We are developing a coating that comprises a thin layer of nanocrystals that transmit visible light and can reject near-infrared light,' Delia Milliron, deputy director of the Molecular Foundry at Berkeley Lab, [said] The near-infrared transmittance of the nanocrystals can be tuned by applying a few volts of an electric charge. On a cold day, both visible and the near-infrared light would be allowed through to let the heat in; on a hot day, however, a few volts of electricity are applied so that the windows still transmit visible light but block light in the near-infrared spectrum, keeping the sun's heat out."

Don't lose the penny?

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"It's hard to think of a recent Canadian policy that's drawn as much praise as our northern neighbour's decision last week to eliminate the penny," says Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein. "The economics, after all, seemed pretty clear-cut: It makes no sense to keep circulating a one-cent coin that costs 1.5 cents to produce. But over at The New Republic, Eric Wen flags some research suggesting that there could be an economic downside to eliminating the penny, as it could have a disproportionately negative impact on the poor, who tend to be more reliant on cash transactions: 'A 2001 economic analysis by Penn State's Raymond Lombra found that a post-penny economy – in which we round to the nearest nickel – would probably hurt the poor disproportionately. In theory, rounding would balance itself out over time – with some transactions rounding up and others rounding down. Lombra's simulations, however, which were based on the price book of a major retail chain, found that between 60 and 93 per cent of transactions would round up, costing consumers $600-million (U.S.) a year. Because the poor tend to use cash more often (and only cash transactions would be subject to rounding), they would shoulder most of that burden."

Tuckered-out truckers

"A startling new study reveals just how prevalent sleep apnea may be in the professional truck-driving world," writes Amanda Chan for The Huffington Post. "Australian researchers found that 41 per cent of truck drivers in Australia have obstructive sleep apnea, which is a sleep disorder where a person may stop breathing on and off throughout the night, leading to daytime sleepiness because of the disturbed sleep. The study, published in the journal Sleep, included 517 long-distance truck drivers in Australia. Just 4.4 per cent said that they had been previously diagnosed with sleep apnea, though when the researchers tested them, 41 per cent had the sleep disorder, according to the study. In addition, the researchers found that 49 per cent of the truck drivers smoke cigarettes, 50 per cent are obese and 36 per cent are overweight."

Who needs experts?

"Helping people overcome a life challenge, find true love or track down children snatched by an estranged partner: Community support is the latest trend in reality TV," reports Agence France-Presse. "Many of the new show formats to hit TV screens in the coming months will focus on the idea of help between strangers, French TV research company The Wit told AFP at the industry trade show MIPTV. 'Whereas in the past, people went to experts to help solve their problems, those in crisis now ask their neighbours for help,' said Virginia Mouseler, managing director at the Paris-based company. 'The strongest trend in TV productions today is peer-to-peer recommendations,' she said. And that reflected a broader trend entrenched by social networks that values advice handed out by one's peers above that of experts."

Woman power, less pollution?

"Here is yet another indication that women are greener than men," writes Lisa Hymas of "According to a new study in Social Science Research, 'controlling for other factors, in nations where women's status is higher, CO2 emissions are lower.' Study coauthors Christina Ergas and Richard York, sociologists at the University of Oregon-Eugene, write: 'even when controlling for a variety of measures of 'modernization,' world-system position, and democracy, nations where women have higher political status – as indicated by the length of time women have had the vote and women's representation in parliament and ministerial government – tend to have lower CO2 emissions per capita.' " The researchers say they can't explain why this correlation exists, but, among other potential reasons, it's "possible that women make different decisions than do men when placed in positions of power."

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Thought du jour

"He that lives well is learned enough."

– George Herbert (1593-1633), Welsh-born English poet

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