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Safe data is just a heartbeat away Add to ...

Pitter-patter passwords

“Having trouble remembering your password? Perhaps you need to use your heart instead of your head,” says the New Scientist. “An encryption system that uses the unique pattern of your heartbeat as a secret key could potentially be used to make a hard drive that will only decrypt in response to your touch. Our heartbeats follow an irregular pattern that never quite repeats and that is unique to everyone. Chun-Liang Lin at the National Chung Hsing University in Taichung, Taiwan, and colleagues used an electrocardiograph to extract the unique mathematical features underlying this pattern. They then used the information to generate a secret key. … The work will appear in the journal Information Sciences.”

How professional eaters do it

Competitive eaters have unusual stomachs, says Popular Science. “Marc Levine, the chief of gastrointestinal radiology at the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, has found that a competitive eater’s stomach works more like an expanding balloon than a squeezing sac. For his study, Dr. Levine recruited a professional eater, then ranked among the top 10 in the world, and a man who was 45 pounds heavier and four inches taller. He pitted the two against each other in a hot-dog-eating contest and used fluoroscopy, a real-time X-ray, to watch the two men’s stomachs. Dr. Levine immediately noticed something odd. Even when empty, our stomach – our entire digestive tract, in fact – makes a wavelike muscular contraction called peristalsis. … The competitive eater displayed almost no peristalsis. The regular guy stopped eating after just seven dogs – his stomach was full. The pro, however, was still going strong. After 10 minutes and 36 hot dogs, Dr. Levine asked him to stop. The pro’s stomach had stretched to the point that it took up most of his upper abdomen, and still there wasn’t much peristalsis.”

Transplants for coral reefs

“U.S. marine scientists on Florida’s Atlantic Coast say they’re using corals grown in an onshore nursery to help restore a damaged reef,” says United Press International. “About 100 basketball-size corals will be transplanted [Friday]to see if they can help save the reefs and the surrounding marine life, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. Abby Renegar of the National Coral Reef Institute in Dania Beach, Fla., said restoring the reef that runs past Fort Lauderdale may protect marine life from offshore oil drilling that began last month off the north coast of Cuba, about [90 kilometres]from Florida.”

More mobiles than humans

“Mobile devices will outnumber humans this year, according to network firm Cisco’s latest analysis of global mobile data traffic,” says BBC News. “By 2016, it predicts that there will be 10 billion mobile connected devices around the world.”

Cop chases himself

A British policeman “spent 20 minutes on the trail of a suspect after a CCTV operator reported somebody ‘acting suspiciously’ – but the hunt was called off after it emerged he was the suspect himself,” The Sunday Times of London reports. “An unnamed source told Police magazine: ‘Officers were on plainclothes foot patrol when a report was received of a suspect male. The CCTV operator soon had the suspect on camera and everywhere he saw the male, the keen PC was on his heels. Every time the man darted into another side alley, the PC was turning immediately into the same alleyway, but every time the CCTV operator asked what he could see, there was no trace.’ It was at this point the sergeant entered the control room, where he recognized the junior officer. ‘The operator had been watching him, unaware that he was a plainclothes police officer – and thus the PC had been chasing himself round the streets.’ ”

Thought du jour

“You can never have enough garlic. With enough garlic, you can eat The New York Times.”

- Morley Safer (1931-), Canadian reporter and CBS correspondent

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