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Five tech-related companies that may not see 2014

2012 certainly seemed to be near-apocalyptic for some technology companies. While Apple, Google, and Samsung had a great year, other firms that were once the pillars of the technology industry seemed to teeter. And members of the last decade’s Web 2.0 bubble rapidly deflated.

The gap between the winners and the losers of the current tech market is widening: Apple’s market capitalization alone is more than those of the top five PC manufacturers combined; Google is worth 10 Yahoos. With economic uncertainties still lingering and the pie continuing to shrink for the also-rans, the coming year may prove one where natural selection thins the herd.

Some of the companies that flirted with death in 2012 might be primed for a comeback. RIM has emerged as a smaller, leaner, but still unprofitable company, with its future staked on one big bet: the BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system. Thanks to cost cutting (and huge staff cuts), RIM can stay alive even if BB10 doesn’t take the world by storm—but the company does have to stem the loss of corporate customers for its messaging and e-mail services. Depending on how early 2013 plays out for RIM, the company could retake a comfortable third position in the smartphone market, or it could end up licensing the OS to others and getting out of manufacturing entirely. Barring an acquisition, RIM will likely make it out of 2013 alive.

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via Ars Technica » Technology Lab http://feeds.arstechnica.com/~r/arstechnica/technology-lab/~3/QmFJd-N0lKw/

A growing body of scientific studies have examined the implications of finger length ratios  But until recently up to 50% of humanoid distal appendages may have
been largely overlooked – for what of toe-length ratios? Progress
towards rectifying this digital imbalance has been made with a recent
study from the Department of Psychology, Penn State University,
Harrisburg, US. Professor Marissa Harrison has published one of the very few studies to investigate :
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Occasional readers of this blog, I reckon, have time and again been left wondering what is the matter with these lower mass limits on new particles that physicists so copiously produce with their subnuclear physics experiments. How are they determined ? Why always lower mass limits and (almost) never upper limits ? And why do we care ?
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The view from the cockpit of NASA’s DC-8 flying lab during an Operation IceBridge survey flight 500 meters above the Antarctic ice fields.

Mars and Antarctica have a lot in common—they’re both cold, inhospitable places with terrible broadband service. The crew of Operation IceBridge, NASA’s airborne survey of glaciers and ice shelves in the Arctic and Antarctic works with networking constraints similar to those of the Curiosity rover, keeping in contact with its ground crew at worse-than-dialup speeds using the lowest-bandwidth method possible: Internet Relay Chat.

In February of 2010, after seven years of operation, the final laser sensor on NASA’s Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite (ICEsat)  failed.  With its replacement not slotted to be launched until 2015, NASA launched Operation Ice Bridge to conduct aerial surveys to fill in the gap. Flying 500 meters above the surface in a precisely-planned pattern over the Antarctic ice sheets, the OIB aircraft—operated by the National Suborbital Education and Research Center at the University of North Dakota—carries ice-penetrating radar, a gravimeter for measuring variations in the density of the ice below, and an Airborne Topographic Mapper—a laser altimeter that combines GPS data with laser measurements to build a precise record of the elevation of the ice sheets.

But because of the poor satellite coverage in the Antarctic, the refitted vintage Douglas DC-8 airliner can’t use the Inmarsat BGAN service it normally uses for voice and data communication channels. “Like most high bandwidth satellite systems, the constellation is in geosynchronous orbit,” David Van Gilst, NSERC’s network engineer, told Ars in an e-mail interview.  “So once you get past 72-73 degrees latitude the satellites are so low in the sky as to be problematic. Past 80 degrees latitude, they’re below the horizon.”

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via Ars Technica » Technology Lab http://feeds.arstechnica.com/~r/arstechnica/technology-lab/~3/9luCOOvwc80/

How To Remove Graffiti

He stood by the door of a subway car, looking from side to side to see if anyone was looking. Maybe my clothing camouflaged me against the background of my seat. More likely, I did not pose a threat, and certainly he didn’t realize I was a teacher at his school. He opened his long coat, and for a moment I thought he was going to flash the ghosts of the subway tunnels when suddenly he pulled out a marker from his inner pocket and tagged an advertisement on the wall.
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Back in October, author Michael Pollan wrote an opinion

piece for the New York Times in which he said the upcoming vote on California Proposition 37 would

show whether or not the “Food Movement” had developed into “a movement worthy

of the name.”  Proposition 37

failed for good reasons

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When Science Goes To Pot

Disclaimer: I have never smoked pot. Not interested. But, I have been very interested in the decades-old debate about it. On one side you have people who claim it as a benign, useful substance that should be legal. On the other side, you have people who claim it is a dangerous and destructive and should be banned. I was surprised to realize to myself recently that I couldn’t articulate a good argument for either side. I didn’t know enough. 
So I wanted to do an experiment. But not that kind of experiment.
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Galactan is a polymer of galactose, a six-carbon sugar that can be readily fermented by yeast into ethanol and is a target of interest for those researching advanced biofuels produced from cellulosic biomass.

Galactans are polysaccharide components of pectin, the sticky sugar substance that binds together the individual cells in plant cell walls (and is used to make delicious jellies and jams). The β-1,4-galactan component of pectin is especially abundant in the “tension wood” that forms in cell walls in response to mechanical stress from wind or snowfall. An international collaboration has identified the first enzyme capable of substantially boosting the amount of galactan in plant cell walls.
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Plant Sex Gets Hot

Sex is not just an activity confined to higher animals such as mammals and not just for reproduction. The changes in offspring that result during reproduction are integral to the continuing adaptation and evolution of millions of species of plants, fungi and other organisms throughout the food chain. 
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Rational Suckers

Why do people skip the queue, obstruct, cause traffic jams, and create delays for everyone? Who are these anonymous creatures lacking cooperation skills? And more importantly: are you sure others don’t classify you as such?
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