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  • Oil-Spill Answers: What the Heck Happened? A Visual Guide.

    Good magazine linked to a great visual explainer from Al-Jazeera that shows exactly what happened on the Deepwater Horizon rig to cause the spill, how the oil is leaking, and what options exist for stopping it.Right now both the oil company and the military have robotic devices trying to turn on the shutoff valve, but navigating so deep under the sea can be difficult, and getting the valve to function can be complex. The valve, which should have shut automatically after the collapse, may not even work: it's possible it jammed in the fall. Crews are currently building the containment dome, which could be in place by the end of the week, and BP has started to drill a relief well, which could take up to four months to complete.
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    Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things

    Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee share an inside look into the cluttered brains of compulsive hoarders. Through profiles of their patients, the authors, both of whom have studied hoarding for years, provide a comprehensive view on the disorder that leaves its sufferers buried in junk—and sometimes literally trapped in their own homes.
  • New York’s Calorie Counts: A Good National Model

    The new health-care law contains an overlooked boost for nutritionists like me: by next year, all national chains with more than 20 locations must offer "clear and conspicuous" calorie information. It's the most important obesity-related public policy since the USDA's food pyramid. But reception to the new mandate has been muted so far, largely because the benefits of New York City's similar 2008 law seem minor: one study found just 15 fewer calories were consumed per meal; another reported it was 30; and a third found that people ate more....
  • China Churns Out iPad Clones

    iFakes? One of several Apple knockoffs coming out of China. ( Call it another shining example of how China doesn't need the United States to get what it wants when it wants. According to a Reuters story, Chinese demand for the Apple iPad—whose international launch was delayed—is so big that knockoffs have already made it to some of the dark-lit back rooms where vendors sell all sorts of bootleg digital devices.  The new fake iPad is apparently a little larger and heavier than the actual iPad, but one of the vendors the Reuters reporter spoke to said it's only the first generation, implying that future versions will address these issues. The price for the counterfeit is slightly cheaper, at $410, compared with the real thing, which ranges from $499 to $699. (There's also another version available on eBay like site--for about $200.)  China has long had a taste for faux things, pirating everything from DVDs to Nike shoes, and a lot of i...
  • Facebook's Play to Take Over the Entire Internet

    Mark Zuckerberg must read NEWSWEEK. For months now, Techtonic Shifts has implored him to open up the social graph—the Facebook data that describe our friendships, tastes, and more—and share it with the world. Back in February, we wrote,"If competition breeds innovation, closed systems kill it . . . Today, there's no war over who can better mine the social graph. That's because Facebook holds the only key, and for now, we're all locked inside." ...
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    Is This Really the Next Apple iPhone?

    In the world of tech-gadget journalism, this score represents the Holy Grail—a next-generation Apple iPhone discovered in a bar, presumably left there by a careless employee. The photos of the phone are splattered all over the home page of tech-gadget blog Gizmodo today. If they’re real, the folks at Apple, a place known for its crazy secrecy and security measures, must be freaking out.
  • Smoked Out: Why Volcanic Ash and Planes Fight for the Same Small Airspace

    As the vast ash cloud from Iceland's volcano spreads over the Europe, flights to two thirds of European countries were delayed or canceled on Friday. Although flying through the ash isn't always deadly, the sheer volume of the volcanic output over England is enough to shut down Heathrow airport until the skies clear. But this shutdown, with global consequences and no real end in sight, isn't just bad luck: it's science. Volcanic ash and airplanes are both drawn to the same airspace—the jet stream—making plane routes especially susceptible to attracting volcanic ash. The jet stream, the channels of fast-moving air that crisscross the planet, are created by the tension between warm and cold air masses. Traveling from west to east, their narrow corridors make for great plane routes; the momentum the planes gain when pushed by the fast-moving air saves airlines time and money. But the stream also attracts volcanic ash, according to a September 2009 article in the...
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    Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

    Bill McKibben doesn’t pretend that if we can just rein in our greenhouse-gas emissions everything will be fine. Government actions are so far short of what’s needed to avert catastrophic climate change, he says, as to warrant a “don’t bother.” The message runs counter to that of virtually every green group, which lobbies for both individual action and government policy to control greenhouse emissions.
  • Uncle Sam Wants Your Tweets

    How does a tweet die? Quickly and quietly. As any Twitter user can attest, the rolling, unstoppable "tweet stream" has a short shelf life; any message older than a few hours has reached its expiration date. That all changed yesterday, when the Library of Congress announced (through its Twitter account, of course) that it would archive every public tweet ever made. That’s right—every tweet, from the mind-numbing review of your sister-in-law’s breakfast burrito to John Larroquette's 140-character tone poems, will now be preserved for posterity. This is good news for pretty much everyone. It's a win for Twitter, which gains legitimacy at the expense of its rivals. (Don't expect the Library of Congress to target Foursquare checkins any time soon.) It's a PR coup for the Library as well, showing the world that a hidebound government bureaucracy can adapt to the digital era. And, most of all, it's a boon for researchers and historians. Much of Twitter is...