David Kirkpatrick

August 18, 2009

Economic indicators …

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:06 pm

… are analyzed, talked about, reported on and used to justify almost any position you might want to take on the state of the economy at any given moment — and can successfully be used to prove both sides of the argument.

This article lays out the “hows” and “whys” of a whole slew of leading and lagging indicators, so hit this link if you want a little more information on where all those figures are actually coming from and what they really mean to the economy.

From the link:

To determine the health of their patient, economists look to indicators, such as unemployment and consumer spending, in much the same way doctors monitor blood pressure and heart rate. One reading can’t provide enough information to understand the state of the economy. Several together can lead to accurate conclusions.

Earlier this year and in late 2008, many indicators pointed to the economic equivalent of a massive coronary. The U.S. economy has been in the longest recession since World War II. While there have been improvement, concerns remain. Will the economy suffer further setbacks or is it on the mend? No predictions can be guaranteed, but several key indicators point to a continued recovery. With the benchmark S&P 500 Index up about 50% in the past five months, a lot of money is riding on the economy returning to growth this year.


Home office deduction for dummies

I go to the trouble of taking a home office deduction because it’s worth it to me. As a professional writer I’ve worked out of my home for a long time.

Many people have home offices, but less than half take the tax deduction because the process is not easy. Once you’re going it’s not too bad, but it’s still a little onerous.

This idea makes too much sense. Quick, easy and nothing would change for those of us who actually go to the trouble of taking full advantage of the tax break.

From the link:

To ease the process, Reps. John McHugh, R-N.Y., and Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., introduced the Home Office Deduction Simplification Act last spring. The bill would create a standard $1,500 deduction, which owners could opt for over the messier version. It would translate into a tax savings of about $500 for those who aren’t currently taking the deduction, says Keith Hall, tax adviser for the National Association for the Self-Employed.

Nanotech across the United States

A release from this morning:

Putting Nanotechnology on the Map

New data show nanotechnology-related activities in every U.S. state

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Every state can now lay claim to the nanotechnology revolution.

Data released today by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) highlights more than 1,200 companies, universities, government laboratories, and other organizations across all 50 U.S. states and in the District of Columbia that are involved in nanotechnology research, development, and commercialization. This number is up 50 percent from the 800 organizations identified just two years ago.

While many of the original “Nano Metro” clusters — areas with the nation’s highest concentration of nanotechnology companies, universities, research laboratories, and organizations — have maintained their prominence in the field, areas such as Boston have moved up in the rankings, while others, such as Raleigh, N.C., have broken into the top-ranked locations for the first time.

This information is part of PEN’s interactive map displaying the growing “Nano Metro” landscape, powered by Google Maps(R), and available online at www.nanotechproject.org/121. The map’s accompanying analysis ranks cities and states by numbers of companies, academic and government research centers, and organizations and technology focus by sector.

  Nanotechnology Map Highlights:

  —  The top 4 states overall (each with over 75 entries) are California,
      Massachusetts, New York, and Texas. These states have retained their
      lead since the first analysis was released in 2007. Ohio has moved up
      four spots as the state with the sixth most entries.  North Carolina
      has broken into the top 10 states for the first time.
  —  All 50 states and the District of Columbia have at least one company,
      university, government laboratory, or organization working in the
      field of nanotechnology.
  —  The top 6 Nano Metros (each with 30 or more entries) are: Boston; San
      Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; Raleigh; Middlesex-Essex, Mass.; and
      Oakland, Calif. Boston and San Francisco have taken the lead from San
      Jose. Raleigh has moved into the top 5 Nano Metros (displacing
  —  The top 3 sectors for companies working in nanotechnology (each with
      over 200 entries) are: materials; tools and instruments; and medicine
      and health.

  —  The number of universities and government laboratories working in
      nanotechnology is still substantial, as it was in 2007, with 182

“The rapid growth in nanotechnology activity across the United States illustrates the impact of continued and significant investments in nanoscience and nanoengineering by the federal government and private sector,” said PEN Director David Rejeski.  “There is now not a single state without organizations involved in this cutting-edge field.”

The global market for goods based on nanotechnology is predicted to grow from $147 billion in 2007 to $3.1 trillion in 2015, according to the research and advisory firm Lux Research. “Given this expected continuation in growth, the ‘Nano Metro’ map remains a work in progress and will be further updated as more data becomes available,” according to Rejeski.

About Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is the ability to measure, see, manipulate and manufacture things usually between 1 and 100 nanometers. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter; a human hair is roughly 100,000 nanometers wide.

The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies was launched in 2005 by the Wilson Center and The Pew Charitable Trusts. It is a partnership dedicated to helping business, governments, and the public anticipate and manage the possible health and environmental implications of nanotechnology. To learn more, visit www.nanotechproject.org.

Source: The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
Web Site:  http://www.nanotechproject.org/

August 17, 2009

Five real estate lies

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:41 pm

I’d say this article may currently be a case of good advice coming a bit late in the game, but real estate is cyclical and a new buying frenzy is coming someday. Maybe not anytime too soon, but it is coming.

All five of these falsehoods are worth taking to heart. I’m adding number one to this post because I know a number of people who totally fell into the trap of “I prequalified for this amount and by god I’m buying a house for that amount.” Those people now? Not feeling so good about pushing the top edge of their purchase time financial clout.

From the link:

1. Buy as much home as you can afford. Even after the breathtaking three-year decline in home prices, I still hear this mantra over and over. This line from a well-known TV realtor continues to ring in my head: “You qualified for a $295,000 mortgage and you should spend that.” When the budding buyer protests, the realtor responds with a curt, “You can’t get what you want for less.”

The home shopper is worried about going too deep into debt and the realtor wants her to party like its 2005. And we know all know how long that hangover’s lasted.

Here are the two reasons NOT to buy too much house. You could lose an amount of money that you cannot afford to lose. Yes, home prices can decline. Because homes are bought with large amounts of leverage, a small decline can wipe out your entire investment and then some. In buying too much house, that loss will be too great as a percentage of your income and savings.

Two, the minute your income declines you bought MORE house than you can afford. As soon as someone takes a 20% hit to their pay (easy if you’re in a commission-based job) or suffers a job loss, that house payment becomes beyond your means.

The basic concept of buying a modest home over renting is sound because of the forced savings. But overreaching and buying too much house is not wise. A bigger home is not a better investment.

USPS expected to lose $7B in 2009

Filed under: Business, Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:50 pm

The US Postal Service is in real financial trouble. Jobs are being cut drastically, post office closings loom, red ink flows freely and mail volume is way, way down.

From the link:

Mail volume has plunged more than 12 percent this year, meaning that the Postal Service handled some 20 billion fewer pieces of mail, the largest decline since the Great Depression. By 2010, volume is expected to fall by an additional 10 billion pieces, while the service’s debt could top $13 billion. At the same time, the service is dealing with healthcare and retirement costs that postal officials insist are debilitatingly high. A law passed three years ago mandates preretirement contributions to an employee healthcare fund, payments that now amount to more than $5 billion per year.

The economic downturn is one reason for the sharp decline in mail volume. But the larger and more systemic issue is that Americans have abandoned stamps and letters in favor of online bill payments, digital advertising, and E-mail. In 2000, about 80 percent of U.S. households paid their bills through the mail. Now, 56 percent do so. The volume of advertising mail fell 20 percent in the past year. Personal letters, meanwhile, are estimated to make up only 6 percent of mail traffic.

IRS interest rates remain unchanged for Q4

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:21 pm

The news is something of no news — rates will remain the same for Q4.

The release:

Interest Rates Remain the Same for the Fourth Quarter of 2009

IR-2009-73, Aug. 14, 2009


WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today announced that interest rates for the calendar quarter beginning Oct. 1, 2009, will remain the same. The rates will be:

  • four (4) percent for overpayments [three (3) percent in the case of a corporation];
  • four (4) percent for underpayments;
  • six (6) percent for large corporate underpayments; and
  • one and one-half (1.5) percent for the portion of a corporate overpayment exceeding $10,000.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, the rate of interest is determined on a quarterly basis. For taxpayers other than corporations, the overpayment and underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points. Generally, in the case of a corporation, the underpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points and the overpayment rate is the federal short-term rate plus 2 percentage points. The rate for large corporate underpayments is the federal short-term rate plus 5 percentage points. The rate on the portion of a corporate overpayment of tax exceeding $10,000 for a taxable period is the federal short-term rate plus one-half (0.5) of a percentage point.

The interest rates announced today are computed from the federal short-term rate during July 2009 to take effect Aug. 1, 2009, based on daily compounding.

Revenue Ruling 2009-27, announcing the rates of interest, will appear in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2009-39, dated Sept. 28, 2009.

Reader’s Digest files Chapter 11

Filed under: Business, Media — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:09 pm

Even Reader’s Digest is driven to bankruptcy

From the link:

Reader’s Digest Association, the 87-year-old publishing company, said Monday that it plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to carry out a restructuring that would give lenders control of the company.

Reader’s Digest is seeking to reduce its debt load, which swelled after it was taken private in 2007 by an investor group led by Ripplewood Holdings. Reader’s Digest said in a statement Monday it had reached an agreement in principle with the majority of its senior lenders to convert a “substantial portion” of its $1.6 billion in senior secured debt into equity.

“Restructuring our debt will enable us to have the financial flexibility to move ahead with our growth and transformational initiatives,” Mary Berner, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement.

In addition to its flagship title, Reader’s Digest, the company publishes magazines such as Every Day With Rachael Ray and The Family Handyman and runs Web sites including Allrepices.com.

The company did not make a $27 million interest payment due Monday on its notes, and will use a 30-day grace period to continue talks with lenders about what it called a “pre-arranged” bankruptcy filing.

Lockheed Martin announces job cuts

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:59 pm

A release from around an hour ago:

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company Announces Workforce Reductions

DENVER, Aug. 17 /PRNewswire/ — Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, a major business area of the Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT), today announced employment reductions aimed at improving its competitive posture.

Space Systems will implement a broad-based workforce reduction of approximately 800 employees by year-end. The reductions represent about 4.5 percent of the overall workforce and will impact all levels and disciplines, including technical, managerial, and administrative positions primarily at the Denver, Colo., and Sunnyvale, Calif. facilities. The company also will offer a voluntary layoff plan designed to minimize the number of layoffs necessary.

The reductions announced today are separate from the ongoing downsizing underway at the company’s Michoud Operations as a result of the planned fly-out of the Space Shuttle program in 2010.

Joanne Maguire, executive vice president, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, said, “The action we are taking, though difficult, is necessary to adapt to our current projected business base and to maintain an appropriate workforce to meet our customers’ needs.”

Maguire reaffirmed the company’s dedication to mission success: “Space Systems is a sound enterprise with technical breadth and unmatched capabilities. We will remain relentlessly focused on operational excellence and mission success as we position ourselves for the future.”

The company will provide career transition support to those impacted by these workforce reductions.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company designs and develops, tests, manufactures and operates a full spectrum of advanced-technology systems for national security and military, civil government and commercial customers. Chief products include human space flight systems; a full range of remote sensing, navigation, meteorological and communications satellites and instruments; space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft; laser radar; ballistic missiles; missile defense systems; and nanotechnology research and development.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 146,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation reported 2008 sales of $42.7 billion.

Source: Lockheed Martin
Web Site:  http://www.lockheedmartin.com/

Cell phones, safety and your auto insurance rates

Information from WeCompareInsurance.com:

Cell Phones, Safe Driving and Auto Insurance 

Automobile insurance is vital if you drive a vehicle, in fact a certain level of liability car insurance is likely required in the state the car is registered. Auto insurance is also a great place to save money because it comes in so many types and levels of coverage. One way to save car insurance money is to drive safely and avoid accidents. The subject of cell phone use and automotive safety gets a lot of attention, but the fact is driving and cell phone use just don’t go together.

How dangerous is mixing driving with cell phone use?

The quick answer is pretty dangerous. The National Safety Commission released the results of a number of studies showing distractions, particularly cell phone use while driving, cause many accidents.

Here are two excerpts from the NSC alert:

“A study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute concluded that almost 80 percent of motor vehicle crashes and 65% of near crashes involve driver inattention within three seconds before the event. While the study looked at all different types of driver distractions, it listed use of wireless communication devices (cell phones and PDAs) as the most common form of driver distraction”


“An earlier University of Utah study showed that a 20 year old driver on a cell phone had the same reaction time as a 70 year old. Regardless of age, drivers on cell phones were 18% slower in stepping on the brakes, and 17% slower in regaining their speed after braking. They also kept a greater following distance and slower speed than drivers who were not using cell phones, which contributes to congestion on the roadways.”

Based on these statistics a number of states have banned cell phone use that isn’t hands-free when driving, many more cities and towns have passed similar bans and new cell phone related ordinances are being enacted on a regular basis. The studies into the safety of cell phone use find there is little difference in the distractions created by hands-free or hand-held conversations when driving. It goes without requiring emphasis that texting while driving is very distracting and dangerous.

To keep a safe driving record, avoid accidents and continue saving money with your auto insurance it’s best to pull over for any cell phone conversations when you are in your car.

Did You Know? Using a cell phone gives a 20-year-old the reactions of a 70-year-old.


  1. Cell phone use while driving – hand-held talking, hand-free conversation and texting – is dangerous and distracting.
  2. Using a cell phone when driving affects many driving skills, including reaction time.
  3. Cell phone use is the most common form of driver distraction.

An independent online resource is the fastest and easiest way to have auto insurance providers competes for your business. Click here if you are ready to start comparing auto insurance quotes from multiple providers.

August 16, 2009

DNA scaffolding and circuit boards

A release red hot from the inbox:

IBM Scientists Use DNA Scaffolding To Build Tiny Circuit Boards

Nanotechnology advancement could lead to smaller, faster, more energy efficient computer chips

SAN JOSE, Calif., Aug. 17 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Today, scientists at IBM Research (NYSE:IBM) and the California Institute of Technology announced a scientific advancement that could be a major breakthrough in enabling the semiconductor industry to pack more power and speed into tiny computer chips, while making them more energy efficient and less expensive to manufacture.

  (Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090817/NY62155-a )
  (Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090817/NY62155-b )
  (Logo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090416/IBMLOGO )

IBM Researchers and collaborator Paul W.K. Rothemund, of the California Institute of Technology, have made an advancement in combining lithographic patterning with self assembly – a method to arrange DNA origami structures on surfaces compatible with today’s semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

Today, the semiconductor industry is faced with the challenges of developing lithographic technology for feature sizes smaller than 22 nm and exploring new classes of transistors that employ carbon nanotubes or silicon nanowires. IBM’s approach of using DNA molecules as scaffolding — where millions of carbon nanotubes could be deposited and self-assembled into precise patterns by sticking to the DNA molecules – may provide a way to reach sub-22 nm lithography.

The utility of this approach lies in the fact that the positioned DNA nanostructures can serve as scaffolds, or miniature circuit boards, for the precise assembly of components – such as carbon nanotubes, nanowires and nanoparticles – at dimensions significantly smaller than possible with conventional semiconductor fabrication techniques. This opens up the possibility of creating functional devices that can be integrated into larger structures, as well as enabling studies of arrays of nanostructures with known coordinates.

“The cost involved in shrinking features to improve performance is a limiting factor in keeping pace with Moore’s Law and a concern across the semiconductor industry,” said Spike Narayan, manager, Science & Technology, IBM Research – Almaden. “The combination of this directed self-assembly with today’s fabrication technology eventually could lead to substantial savings in the most expensive and challenging part of the chip-making process.”

The techniques for preparing DNA origami, developed at Caltech, cause single DNA molecules to self assemble in solution via a reaction between a long single strand of viral DNA and a mixture of different short synthetic oligonucleotide strands. These short segments act as staples – effectively folding the viral DNA into the desired 2D shape through complementary base pair binding. The short staples can be modified to provide attachment sites for nanoscale components at resolutions (separation between sites) as small as 6 nanometers (nm). In this way, DNA nanostructures such as squares, triangles and stars can be prepared with dimensions of 100 – 150 nm on an edge and a thickness of the width of the DNA double helix.

IBM uses traditional semiconductor techniques, the same used to make the chips found in today’s computers, to etch out patterns, creating the lithographic templates for this new approach. Either electron beam or optical lithography are used to create arrays of binding sites of the proper size and shape to match those of individual origami structures. The template materials are chosen to have high selectivity so that origami binds only to the patterns of “sticky patches” and nowhere else.

The paper on this work, “Placement and orientation of DNA nanostructures on lithographically patterned surfaces,” by scientists at IBM Research and the California Institute of Technology will be published in the September issue of Nature Nanotechnology and is currently available at: http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nnano.2009.220.html.

For more information about IBM Research, please visit http://www.research.ibm.com/.

To view and download DNA scaffolding images, in high or low resolution, please go to: http://www.thenewsmarket.com/ibm.

Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20090416/IBMLOGO
PRN Photo Desk, photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: IBM

Web Site:  http://www.research.ibm.com/

Nanolaser could lead to optical computer and more

Sounds promising. The field of alternate computation — such a quantum, optical, biological, et. al. — is always interesting.

The release:

New nanolaser key to future optical computers and technologies

Because the new device, called a “spaser,” is the first of its kind to emit visible light, it represents a critical component for possible future technologies based on “nanophotonic” circuitry, said Vladimir Shalaev, the Robert and Anne Burnett Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University.

Such circuits will require a laser-light source, but current lasers can’t be made small enough to integrate them into electronic chips. Now researchers have overcome this obstacle, harnessing clouds of electrons called “surface plasmons,” instead of the photons that make up light, to create the tiny spasers.

Findings are detailed in a paper appearing online Sunday (Aug. 16) in the journal Nature, reporting on work conducted by researchers at Purdue, Norfolk State University and Cornell University.

Nanophotonics may usher in a host of radical advances, including powerful “hyperlenses” resulting in sensors and microscopes 10 times more powerful than today’s and able to see objects as small as DNA; computers and consumer electronics that use light instead of electronic signals to process information; and more efficient solar collectors.

“Here, we have demonstrated the feasibility of the most critical component – the nanolaser – essential for nanophotonics to become a practical technology,” Shalaev said.

The “spaser-based nanolasers” created in the research were spheres 44 nanometers, or billionths of a meter, in diameter – more than 1 million could fit inside a red blood cell. The spheres were fabricated at Cornell, with Norfolk State and Purdue performing the optical characterization needed to determine whether the devices behave as lasers.

The findings confirm work by physicists David Bergman at Tel Aviv University and Mark Stockman at Georgia State University, who first proposed the spaser concept in 2003.

“This work represents an important milestone that may prove to be the start of a revolution in nanophotonics, with applications in imaging and sensing at a scale that is much smaller than the wavelength of visible light,” said Timothy D. Sands, the Mary Jo and Robert L. Kirk Director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center in Purdue’s Discovery Park.

The spasers contain a gold core surrounded by a glasslike shell filled with green dye. When a light was shined on the spheres, plasmons generated by the gold core were amplified by the dye. The plasmons were then converted to photons of visible light, which was emitted as a laser.

Spaser stands for surface plasmon amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. To act like lasers, they require a “feedback system” that causes the surface plasmons to oscillate back and forth so that they gain power and can be emitted as light. Conventional lasers are limited in how small they can be made because this feedback component for photons, called an optical resonator, must be at least half the size of the wavelength of laser light.

The researchers, however, have overcome this hurdle by using not photons but surface plasmons, which enabled them to create a resonator 44 nanometers in diameter, or less than one-tenth the size of the 530-nanometer wavelength emitted by the spaser.

“It’s fitting that we have realized a breakthrough in laser technology as we are getting ready to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the invention of the laser,” Shalaev said.

The first working laser was demonstrated in 1960.

The research was conducted by Norfolk State researchers Mikhail A. Noginov, Guohua Zhu and Akeisha M. Belgrave; Purdue researchers Reuben M. Bakker, Shalaev and Evgenii E. Narimanov; and Cornell researchers Samantha Stout, Erik Herz, Teeraporn Suteewong and Ulrich B. Wiesner.

Future work may involve creating a spaser-based nanolaser that uses an electrical source instead of a light source, which would make them more practical for computer and electronics applications.



The work was funded by the National Science Foundation and U.S. Army Research Office and is affiliated with the Birck Nanotechnology Center, the Center for Materials Research at Norfolk State, and Cornell’s Materials Science and Engineering Department.


Researchers have created the tiniest laser since its invention nearly 50 years ago. Because the new device, called a “spaser,” is the first of its kind to emit visible light, it represents a critical component for possible future technologies based on “nanophotonic” circuitry. The color diagram (a) shows the nanolaser’s design: a gold core surrounded by a glasslike shell filled with green dye. Scanning electron microscope images (b and c) show that the gold core and the thickness of the silica shell were about 14 nanometers and 15 nanometers, respectively. A simulation of the SPASER (d) shows the device emitting visible light with a wavelength of 525 nanometers. (Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University)

A publication-quality image is available at http://news.uns.purdue.edu/images/+2009/shalaev-spasers.jpg

Abstract on the research in this release is available at: http://news.uns.purdue.edu/x/2009b/090817ShalaevSpasers.html



More cloaking news

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:03 pm

This isn’t really on my typical topic of invisibility cloaks, but it is a very interesting cloaking technology.

The release:

A new cloaking method

This is not a ‘Star Trek’ or ‘Harry Potter’ story

IMAGE: Graeme Milton, a distinguished professor of mathematics at the University of Utah, is the senior author of two newly published studies outlining the numerical and theoretical basis for a new…

Click here for more information. 

SALT LAKE CITY, Aug. 17, 2009 – University of Utah mathematicians developed a new cloaking method, and it’s unlikely to lead to invisibility cloaks like those used by Harry Potter or Romulan spaceships in “Star Trek.” Instead, the new method someday might shield submarines from sonar, planes from radar, buildings from earthquakes, and oil rigs and coastal structures from tsunamis.

“We have shown that it is numerically possible to cloak objects of any shape that lie outside the cloaking devices, not just from single-frequency waves, but from actual pulses generated by a multi-frequency source,” says Graeme Milton, senior author of the research and a distinguished professor of mathematics at the University of Utah.

“It’s a brand new method of cloaking,” Milton adds. “It is two-dimensional, but we believe it can be extended easily to three dimensions, meaning real objects could be cloaked. It’s called active cloaking, which means it uses devices that actively generate electromagnetic fields rather than being composed of ‘metamaterials’ [exotic metallic substances] that passively shield objects from passing electromagnetic waves.”

Milton says his previous research involved “just cloaking clusters of small particles, but now we are able to cloak larger objects.”

IMAGE: These images are from animated computer simulations of a new method — developed by University of Utah mathematicians — for cloaking objects from waves of all sorts. While the new…

Click here for more information. 

For example, radar microwaves have wavelengths of about four inches, so Milton says the study shows it is possible to use the method to cloak from radar something 10 times wider, or 40 inches. That raises hope for cloaking larger objects. So far, the largest object cloaked from microwaves in actual experiments was an inch-wide copper cylinder.

A study demonstrating the mathematical feasibility of the new cloaking technique – active, broadband, exterior cloaking – was published online today in the journal Optics Express. A related paper was published online Aug. 14 in Physical Review Letters.

Milton conducted the studies with Fernando Guevara Vasquez and Daniel Onofrei, both of whom are assistant professors-lecturers in mathematics. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the University of Utah.

Cloaking: From Science Fiction to Science

Cloaking involves making an object partly or completely invisible to incoming waves – sound waves, sea waves, and seismic waves, but usually electromagnetic waves such as visible light, microwaves, infrared light, radio and TV waves.

Cloaking things from visible light long has been a staple of science fiction, from invisible Romulan Bird of Prey warships in “Star Trek” to cloaking devices in books, games, films and shows like “Harry Potter,” “Halo,” “Predator,” and “Stargate.”

In recent years, scientists devised and tested various cloaking schemes. They acknowledge practical optical cloaking for invisibility is many years away. Experiments so far have been limited to certain wavelengths such as microwaves and infrared light, and every method tried so far has limitations.

Compared with passive cloaking by metamaterials, the new method – which involves generating waves to protect or cloak an object from other waves – can cloak from a broader band of wavelengths, Milton says.

“The problem with metamaterials is that their behavior depends strongly on the frequency you are trying to cloak from,” he adds. “So it is difficult to obtain broadband cloaking. Maybe you’d be invisible to red light, but people would see you in blue light.”

Most previous research used interior cloaking, where the cloaking device envelops the cloaked object. Milton says the new method “is the first active, exterior cloaking” technique: cloaking devices emit signals and sit outside the cloaked object.

Videos Simulate How Cloaking Method Works

The new studies are numerical and theoretical, and show how the cloaking method can work. “The research simulates on a computer what you should see in an experiment,” Milton says. “We just do the math and hope other people do the experiments.”

The Physical Review Letters study demonstrates the new cloaking method at a single frequency of electromagnetic waves, while the Optics Express paper demonstrates how it can work broadband, or at a wide range of frequencies.

In Optics Express, the mathematicians demonstrate that three cloaking devices together create a “quiet zone” so that “objects placed within this region are virtually invisible” to incoming waves. Guevara Vasquez created short videos of mathematical simulations showing a pulse of electromagnetic or sound waves rolling past an object:



  • In one video, with the kite-shaped object uncloaked, the wave clearly interacts with the object, creating expanding, circular ripples like when a rock is thrown in a pond. 


  • In the second video, the object is surrounded by three point-like cloaking devices, each of which emits waves that only propagate a short distance. Those points and their emissions resemble purple sea urchins. As the passing waves roll by the cloaking devices, waves emitted by those devices interfere with the passing waves. As a result, the passing waves do not hit the cloaked object and there are no ripples.


Milton says the cloaking devices cause “destructive interference,” which occurs when two pebbles are thrown in a pond. In places where wave crests meet, the waves add up and the crests are taller. Where troughs meet, the troughs are deeper. But where crests cross troughs, the water is still because they cancel each other out.

The principle, applied to sound waves, is “sort of like noise cancelation devices you get with headphones in airplanes if you travel first class,” Milton says.

Protecting from Destructive Seismic and Tsunami Waves

“We proved mathematically that this method works when the wavelength of incoming electromagnetic radiation is large compared with the objects being cloaked, meaning it can cloak very small objects,” Milton says. “It also can cloak larger objects.”

Because visible light has tiny wavelengths, only microscopic objects could be made invisible by the new method.

“The cloaking device would have to generate fields that have very small wavelengths,” Milton says. “It is very difficult to build antennas the size of light waves. We’re so far from cloaking real-sized objects to visible light that it’s incredible.”

But imagine incoming waves as water waves, and envision breakwater cloaking devices that would generate waves to create a quiet zone that would protect oil rigs or specific coastal structures against incoming tsunami waves. Or imagine cloaking devices around buildings to generate vibrations to neutralize incoming seismic waves.

“Our method may have application to water waves, sound and microwaves [radar],” including shielding submarines and planes from sonar and radar, respectively, and protecting structures from seismic waves during earthquakes and water waves during tsunamis, Milton says. All those waves have wavelengths much larger than those of visible light, so the possible applications should be easier to develop.

“It would be wonderful if you could cloak buildings against earthquakes,” Milton says. “That’s on the borderline of what’s possible.”

The new method’s main disadvantage “is that it appears you must know in advance everything about the incoming wave,” including when the pulse begins, and the frequencies and amplitudes of the waves within the pulse, Milton says. That might require placement of numerous sensors to detect incoming seismic waves or tsunamis.

“Even though cloaking from light is probably impossible, it’s a fascinating subject, and there is beautiful mathematics behind it,” Milton says. “The whole area has exploded. So even if it’s not going to result in a ‘Harry Potter’ cloak, it will have spinoffs in other directions,” not only in protecting objects from waves of various sorts, but “for building new types of antennas, being able to see things on a molecular scale. It’s sort of a renaissance in classical science, with new ideas popping up all the time.”




A video showing an object uncloaked and cloaked as a wave passes may be seen and downloaded from http://vimeo.com/6092319 or as separate videos from http://vimeo.com/5406253 (no cloaking) and http://vimeo.com/5406236 (with cloaking).

University of Utah Public Relations

August 14, 2009

Here’s a handy bailout tracker …

from CNNMoney.

Want to see what’s happening with all that bailout money and what’s gone where with Troubled Asset Relief Program, Federal Reserve rescue efforts, Federal stimulus programs, FDIC bank takeovers and other financial and housing initiatives, plus the dollars handed over to Amerian International Group, take a few minutes and hit the link.

Invisibility cloak tech creates fake portal

Via KurzweilAI.net — Here’s the latest news on invisibility cloaktechnology, a longtime favorite subject for this blog.

A lot of this stuff is really getting deeper and deeper into the world of science fiction as science fact. Of course, I’m still waiting to see a convincing real-world demonstration of the basic cloaking technology touted the last few years, so maybe all this news remains in the world of fiction. Either way, it’s a fun topic.

Beyond the looking glass…
PhysOrg.com, Aug. 13, 2009

A “hidden portal” invisibility cloak may be possible using exotic new single-crystal yttrium-iron-garnet ferrite metamaterials that force light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation in complicated directions, researchers from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technologyand Fudan University have found.

People standing outside the portal would see something like a mirror.

Read Original Article>>

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory building 100Gbps Ethernet

Man, that’s fast!

From the link:

Looking to build a blazing Ethernet network that will exclusively support science research, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is receiving $62 million to develop what it calls the world’s fastest computer network.

Specifically, the lab will utilize the Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) to build a prototype 100Gbps Ethernet network to connect Department of Energy supercomputer centers at speeds 10 times faster than current ESnet. ESnet serves an estimated 50,000 to100,000 DOE users, as well as more than 18,000 non-DOE researchers from universities, government agencies, and private industry.

Texting aliens

Well not quite, but this release from the wee hours of the morning grabbed my attention.

The release:

Send an Interstellar SMS During National Science Week

CANBERRA, Australia, Aug. 14 /PRNewswire/ — Australians will have the opportunity to send text-like messages to potential intelligent life beyond Earth thanks to an initiative to be launched today to mark National Science Week.

From today until 5.00 pm Monday, 24 August, the public can visit www.HelloFromEarth.net to post goodwill messages that will be transmitted to the nearest Earth-like planet outside our Solar System likely to support life.

The planet – Gliese 581d – is eight times the size of Earth and some 20 light years away (194 trillion km). It was first discovered in April 2007. Due to its size, it is classified as a ‘Super Earth’.

Messages sent during the 2009 National Science Week will arrive in the planet’s vicinity by around December 2029.

Messages can be no longer than 160 characters and will be transmitted from the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla, with the close cooperation of NASA.

Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research entered the first message at the launch of National Science Week at Questacon in Canberra, which read:

“Hello from Australia on the planet we call Earth. These messages express our people’s dreams for the future. We want to share those dreams with you.”

“What better way to discover the limitless possibilities of science than to give Australians the opportunity to try to seek contact with other intelligent life forms,” Senator Carr said.

“As a child I, like many Australians, stared up at the stars and wondered what was out there. Now science has allowed me to send a personal message that may answer that question.

“This is one way that we are stimulating debate around big questions in science, such as whether life exists outside Earth, and generating enthusiasm about science, which is what National Science Week is all about,” Senator Carr said.

The spokesperson for HelloFromEarth.net and editor of the Australian science magazine COSMOS, Mr Wilson da Silva, said the project had excited global interest.

“We’ve secured incredible support from around the globe, including NASA – people are really excited about this,” Mr da Silva said.

“It’s like a ‘message in a bottle’ cast out into the stars. What’s interesting is not just whether there’s anyone listening, but what the public will say to intelligent life on another planet, given the opportunity.

“Hello From Earth is our way of showing that science can make the impossible possible. We have been to the Moon and now, we can speak to the stars.”

The Hello From Earth site is a National Science Week initiative of COSMOS and has been developed with the support of Questacon, CSIRO, NASA, and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Post-Detection Committee of the International Academy of Astronautics.

National Science Week is Australia’s largest national festival. Now in its 12th year, the event celebrates the nation’s scientific achievements, creates awareness of the importance of science and encourages students to pursue a career in science.

The 2009 festival runs from 15-23 August and includes over 800 events Australia-wide.

“National Science Week is an opportunity for Australians of all ages to learn about the wonders of science in a fun and exciting way,” Senator Carr said.

“From schools, universities and research laboratories, to community libraries, town halls and local theatres, National Science Week celebrations will be accessible to everyone.”

National Science Week is proudly supported by the Australian Government and partners CSIRO, the Australian Science Teachers Association, the ABC and shac Communications.

More information about National Science Week events and initiatives is available at www.scienceweek.gov.au.

  Links to images/ animations

  Artist’s impression of the planetary system Gliese 581
  High resolution still image

  Illustration of Gliese 581 star system vs Earth’s solar system
  High resolution still image

  Video animation of Gliese 581d, the target planet
  Standard Definition, High Definition 720p25,
  and ultra High Definition 720p50.

  Video animation of the star system Gliese 581, including the target
  Standard Definition, High Definition 720p25,
  and ultra High Definition 720p50.

Source: Australian Government Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and
Web Site:  http://www.hellofromearth.net/

August 13, 2009

Ahh, pro football

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:52 pm

I love the NFL, but I’m usually not terribly excited by the preseason. For some reason this year is different. I watched the bulk of the Hall of Fame game, a notorious snoozer, and I’m watching preseason ball tonight. I think I’m ready for the NFL this year.

Mike Vick signed with Philly today, Donte Stallworth is out for at least this year with a conduct susupension and every team has some sort of interesting/exciting/perplexing training camp news cooking right now.

I can’t wait for the September 10 kickoff between the Steelers and the Titans.

Les Paul, RIP

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 7:52 pm

The man, among many other things, changed electric guitar forever. And for the better. I proudly own a 1976 Kalamazoo cherry sunburst.

From the link:

Les Paul, 94, a Grammy Award-winning guitar virtuoso and inventor of the solid-body electric guitar who helped bring his instrument to the forefront of jazz and rock-and-roll performance, died Aug. 13 at a hospital in White Plains, N.Y. He had pneumonia.

Keeping the “baby” in Baby Boomer

Filed under: et.al., Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:51 pm

I think I’ve finally gotten a handle on the crazy, old white people spouting nonsense at the Congressional recess town hall meetings. Throughout their lives the Baby Boomer generation have been a bunch of whiny me-firsters at every stage of development and a lot of this “protesting” is just more of the same. Possibly the last real line of BS the rest of us have to deal with from this bunch. And if you think about it, most of the media figures pushing for this brand of activism are, you guessed it, Baby Boomers.

Maybe it’s too bad the death panels are nothing more than fiction. Looks like the old and cranky are not planning on going quietly into the good night.

Sanity from the right — Bruce Bartlett

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:51 pm

After this piece he’ll probably get shouted down as a RINO or some sort of defeatist, but Bruce Bartlett’s — yes, the conservative economist Bruce Bartlett— Daily Beast missive pointing out where the current economic rage against Obama from the right is just wrong is a needed voice against the current stream of idiocy on display nightly from rightwingers.

Of course in today’s United States conservative does not equal “Conservative.” Just ask David Frum. Self-proclaimed “Conservatives” wouldn’t get a truly conservative policy if it came from their mythic, almost to the point of fiction, champion Ronald Reagan himself.

What is “Conservative” today in the U.S.? If you spend much time watching cable news you’d guess it’s dominated with very angry, quite crazed old white people making complete demagogic spectacles of themselves. The shouted slogans are nonsensical and for the most part flat out incorrect. Sure it makes for great public theater and rating, but there is such a thing as being given enough rope to hang yourself. This “movement” if you want to go that far in characterizing a loosely organized astroturfing campaign, is doing more harm than good for any actual policy directives it hopes to implement.

From the link:

I think conservative anger is misplaced. To a large extent, Obama is only cleaning up messes created by Bush. This is not to say Obama hasn’t made mistakes himself, but even they can be blamed on Bush insofar as Bush’s incompetence led to the election of a Democrat. If he had done half as good a job as most Republicans have talked themselves into believing he did, McCain would have won easily.Conservative protesters should remember that the recession, which led to so many of the policies they oppose, is almost entirely the result of Bush’s policies. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the recession began in December 2007—long before Obama was even nominated. And the previous recession ended in November 2001, so the current recession cannot be blamed on cyclical forces that Bush inherited.

(Hat tip: the Daily Dish)

Economic recovery alphabet soup

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:00 pm

As in will the recovery be “v,” “u” or “w” shaped.

Or maybe the whole thing is more of a big “o” since the economy runs in cycles.

From the link:

Typically, sharp downturns like the current one yield equally rapid, or V-shaped, upswings. But the worst recession since the Great Depression has been anything but typical, with housing and credit markets devastated. In a USA TODAY survey, 63% of economists said the recovery will be slow and gradual, or U-shaped.

Yet 37% said it will be moderate or fast. And a smattering of experts say the rebound will look like a W, with a precarious economy sliding back into recession before turning around for good. USA TODAY presents the case for each scenario:


Foreclosures still on rise

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:54 pm

No good news from the housing sector. This is one area where there will be dissonance between the facts on the ground affecting real people and the economic pundits who tout the ongoing (real, but very slow) recovery from the financial crisis.

From the link:

The number of U.S. households on the verge of losing their homes rose 7 percent from June to July, as the escalating foreclosure crisis continued to outpace government efforts to limit the damage.

Foreclosure filings were up 32 percent from the same month last year, RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday. More than 360,000 households, or one in every 355 homes, received a foreclosure-related notice, such as a notice of default or trustee’s sale. That’s the highest monthly level since the foreclosure-listing firm began publishing the data more than four years ago.

Banks repossessed more than 87,000 homes in July, up from about 79,000 homes a month earlier.

August 12, 2009

Repeal the “health-care tax” for the self-employed

Now this is a great idea, of course I have a vested interest in the issue because I’ve been self-employed for years. This is just the sort of pro-small business action I fully expected Bush and the GOP controlled Congress to make happen. I gave up on that pipe dream early in Bush 43’s first term. I don’t expect Obama to do anything about the tax either, I’ll just not be nearly as disappointed. 

From the link:

By a quirk in the tax code, self-employed workers who buy their own health insurance essentially pay an extra tax on their premiums. They’re the only taxpayers in the system who pay taxes on premiums, which count as a business expense for corporations and pretax income for employees. Because self-employed workers have no corporate employers to match their payroll tax contributions to Social Security and Medicare, they pay double the rate of wage and salary workers in a levy known as the self-employment tax equal to 15.3% of their net earnings. That’s on top of regular state and federal income taxes, and the income they spend on health premiums is not exempt.

The nation’s 9 million self-employed—sole proprietors with few or no employees, contract workers, and freelancers—constitute about 8% of the total U.S. labor force, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (The Census Bureau counts 22 million sole-proprietors, but it’s not clear how many of those may be payroll workers as well.) “You correct this, think of the widespread health benefit you would give to so many people,” says Kristie Arslan, executive director of the lobbying group National Association for the Self-Employed(NASE), which represents the self-employed in Washington.

Microsoft and Nokia join forces to take on BlackBerry

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:54 am

First Google hints at using Android to challenge Research in Motion’s BlackBerry for business mobile dominance, now Microsoft and Nokia announce a partnership for the same purpose.

Industry insiders have been speculating BlackBerry is sitting at an absolute peak and has nowhere to go but down. Looks like a lot of players have decided to enter the business mobile fray and put some of the speculation to the test.

From the second link:

Microsoft Corp and Nokia announced an alliance on Wednesday to bring advanced business software to smartphones in a bid to counter the dominance of Research in Motion Ltd’s Blackberry device.The alliance between the world’s largest software firm and the largest cellphone maker means the latest online versions of Microsoft’s Office suite of applications, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint, will be available on a range of Nokia handheld devices.

The two companies, at one time fierce rivals in the mobile telecommunications business, expect to offer Nokia phones running Office sometime next year, targeting the lucrative market for business users.

“This is giving some of our competitors — let’s spell it out, RIM — a run for their money,” said Nokia executive vice president Robert Andersson, in a telephone interview.

Bush 43, torture and incompetence

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:39 am

These three grafs areprobably all you need to read on the genesis of the Cheney/Bush torture program and exactly how ill conceived and amatuer the whole operation was in terms of execution, and more importantly, legality.

The damage done to the United States is still an untold story, and the legitimacy our use of torture has already given despotic governments around the world is reason enough to spend time and resources to uncover the entire illegal program.

From the link:

Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were military retirees and psychologists, on the lookout for business opportunities. They found an excellent customer in the Central Intelligence Agency, where in 2002 they became the architects of the most important interrogationprogram in the history of American counterterrorism.

They had never carried out a real interrogation, only mock sessions in the military training they had overseen. They had no relevant scholarship; their Ph.D. dissertations were on high blood pressure and family therapy. They had no language skills and no expertise on Al Qaeda.

But they had psychology credentials and an intimate knowledge of a brutal treatment regimen used decades ago by Chinese Communists. For an administration eager to get tough on those who had killed 3,000 Americans, that was enough.

August 7, 2009

Was the Twitter DoS attack a product demonstration?

Filed under: Business, et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:10 pm

You have to admit it’s an interesting theory and more than a bit cybercloak-and-daggerish.

From the link:

Randy Abrams, director of technical education at ESET, an IT security company based in Bratislava, Slovakia, said his best guess is that a major botnet herderwas offering a demonstration of the power of his botnet to a potential client with a major target in mind.

“They could have been saying, ‘Look what I can do to Twitter. I think my botnet can handle whatever you want it to do,'” said Abrams. “I’d put my money on this being a demonstration, a show of force, by someone looking to hire out their botnet.”

Update — Or maybe not.

Microsoft cooks Bing search results

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:18 pm

Disappointing and potentially lethal to the popularity of Bing, Microsoft’s reworked and rebranded search engine. The ad campaign was working, the Yahoo deal complete and it looked like Microsoft was doing something right in the search space.

And now this.

From the link:

Case in point: a search on Bing for the phrase, “Why is Windows so expensive?” returned this as the top link….

“Why are Macs so expensive.”

That’s right. You’re not hallucinating. That was the top response on Bing to a question about the price of Windows.

But it’s not just the top link. The rest of the links on the first search page don’t get much better. There is one link about the price of vinyl windows (actual windows that you look out), one on why Windows hosting providers are so expensive, and one about fish. The five other links on page one are about the expensive price of Macs. The Windows client OS is not even mentioned.

If Microsoft is going to resort to blocking and self-protection with their search engine, they could at least be subtle. This is about as subtle as a machine gun.

Also from the link:

The first of the search results about the Microsoft Word question linked to a page about how expensive Manhattan is (Is Microsoft competing with Manhattan now?). The top responses to the “Is Microsoft Evil?” question were, get this, a link to a New York Times story about whether or not Google is considered evil, a link about proxy servers, and a link to a story about Microsoft being charitable. Wow.

To be fair Microsoft has responded search results are based on an algorithm, blah, blah …

The results found in the linked article are more than fishy, and Microsoft is under a pretty heavy burden in public perception to avoid looking like, well looking exactly as the Redmond behemoth does right now.

Unemployment — more “good” bad news

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:06 pm

In yet another case of calling bad news an encouraging sign (and as much as I’ve derided the practice, even I dipped a toe in that pool) the latest jobs report is bad — but, wait for it — it isn’t as bad as expected.

Here’s three links from the New York Times today on the topic: the news report, an Economix blog putting positive spin on the report and Floyd Norris bringing things back to reality.

The Old Grey Lady news:

The most hopeful jobs report since last summer suggested Friday that the recession was ending, but the recovery will be marked by a still-rising unemployment rate and tens of thousands of job losses each month until next year.

The American economy shed 247,000 jobs last month, the smallest monthly toll since last August, the government reported on Friday. While businesses are expected to keep cutting positions through the rest of the year, the Labor Department’s latest figuresoffered hopeful signs for the American worker and a measure of relief to the Obama administration, which has faced rising criticism as unemployment blew past its earlier projections.

“The trend lines are positive,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com. “We are going from massive job losses to just big job losses on our way to a stable job market, I think by next spring.”

A bit of bloggy pollyannaish spin:

The story of today’s jobs report is pretty simple: given what was expected, it’s very good news.

The economy lost significantly fewer jobs in July than expected. Forecasters were predicting a loss of about 325,000 jobs in June. The actual loss was 247,000 — the smallest since August 2008.

The average hourly pay of rank-and-file workers, which had been flat in June, rose 3 cents in July, to $18.56 an hour. That wage is up 2.5 percent over the past year, while inflation has been roughly zero. So the average person who’s still employed has actually received a raise in the last year.

The average private-sector workweek increased by one-tenth of an hour, to 33.1. It was the first increase since last summer.

And the government said that the economy had shed somewhat fewer jobs in May and June than previously estimated.

And now Norris getting this topic back on firmer ground:

There are clear signs that world economy is turning up, or at least not sinking further, but today’s jobs report is not a bright spot. The unemployment rate went down, from 9.5 percent to 9.4 percent, but that is statistically unimportant given the sampling error in the household survey. In any case, it fell not because more people said they had jobs — employment was down in that survey — but because fewer people were still looking for work.

The key to Norris’ point is that last line. As the unemployed give up and stop looking for work they are no longer “unemployed.” Sure they aren’t working, but since they are seeking employment they aren’t considered unemployed. Last fall the Bush administration used the same rationale to attempt and spin up negative jobs reports. This thing ain’t over by a long shot.

Facebook, college kids and jealousy

Quite the combination …

The release:

Does Facebook usage contribute to jealousy in relationships?

New Rochelle, NY, August 6, 2009—The more time college students spend on Facebook, the more likely they are to feel jealous toward their romantic partners, leading to more time on Facebook searching for additional information that will further fuel their jealousy, in an escalating cycle that may become addictive, according to a study reported in CyberPsychology & Behavior, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (www.liebertpub.com). The article is available free online at www.liebertpub.com/cpb

Amy Muise, MSc, Emily Christofides, MSc, and Serge Desmarais, PhD, from the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada), surveyed young adults involved in romantic relationships and found that those who spent time on social networking sites such as Facebook may be exposed to information about their partners that makes them jealous, leading them to spend more time involved in online surveillance and to uncover even more jealousy-provoking information.

The Rapid Communication, entitled “More Information than You Ever Wanted: Does Facebook Bring Out the Green-Eyed Monster of Jealousy?” describes a vicious cycle in which Facebook usage and feelings of jealousy become intertwined and have a negative influence on behavior and relationships. Some participants in the study described their increasing use of Facebook as “addictive.” The authors recommend further research to explore this feedback loop and to determine whether a similar relationship between online social networking and jealousy toward a partner affects older adults as well.

“This research on university age individuals is an excellent starting point to begin asking additional questions on how this new forum might be impacting the dynamics of adult relationships and other social processes,” says Professor Dr. Brenda K. Wiederhold, Editor-in-Chief of CyberPsychology & Behavior.




CyberPsychology & Behavior is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published bimonthly in print and online that explores the psychological and social issues surrounding the Internet and interactive technologies. A complete table of contents and free sample issue may be viewed online at www.liebertpub.com/cpb

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (www.liebertpub.com), is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology and Alternative and Complementary Therapies. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry’s most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm’s 60 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available at www.liebertpub.com

August 6, 2009

Goin’ viral

Filed under: et.al., Media, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:49 pm

This is a very interesting PhysOrg article why some memes go viral and hit millions of eyeballs in mere hours.

From the link:

“There has been a lot of research done on social networks,” Esteban Moro tells PhysOrg.com. “However, until now it has been rare to get feedback from an actual performed experiment. Most research on social media is done with data that is inferred. But we have real experimental data for the basis of our model.” Moro is a scientist at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences at Carlos III University in Madrid, Spain. Along with José Luis Iribarren at an IBM division based in Madrid, Moro devised a viral marketing experiment that provides some quantitative conclusions about how something goes viral online. Their work appears in Physical Review Letters: “Impact of Human Activity Patterns on the Dynamics of Information Diffusion.”

“Most models of information diffusion through social media are based on the idea of homogeneity in human response,” Moro explains. According to Moro, most models are based around the average time that it takes for a person to respond to a request and then to pass it on. This model, while it might be useful in predicting some aspects of online marketing campaigns, does not adequately account for the reasons that some rumors, advertisements, content and even viruses suddenly explode worldwide in what is known as “going viral.”

Time dynamics of the biggest viral cascade, from Spain. Each "snapshot" represents the process at different times. The circles represent participates and the arrows describe the propagation of the message. Colors are meant to help you keep track of different stages of the message propagation. Image credit: Esteban Moro and José Luis Iribarren.

Time dynamics of the biggest viral cascade, from Spain. Each "snapshot" represents the process at different times. The circles represent participates and the arrows describe the propagation of the message. Colors are meant to help you keep track of different stages of the message propagation. Image credit: Esteban Moro and José Luis Iribarren.

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