Roland Piquepaille writes "UK researchers have developed a prototype of a future giant rubber tube which could catch energy from sea waves. The device, dubbed Anaconda, uses 'long sea waves to excite bulge waves which travel along the wall of a submersed rubber tube. These are then converted into flows of water passing through a turbine to generate electricity.' So far, the experiments have been done with tubes with diameters of 0.25 and 0.5 meters. But if the experiments are successful, future full-scale Anaconda devices would be 200 meters long and 7 meters in diameter, and deployed in water depths of between 40 and 100 meters. An Anaconda would deliver an output power of 1MW (enough to power 2,000 houses). These devices would be deployed in groups of 20 or even more providing cheap electricity without harming our environment. But read more for additional details and pictures showing how the Anaconda works and how these systems could be used in farms of 20 or more."
djvaselaar sends along an article from The New Atlantis that summarizes recent research indicating that multitasking may be detrimental to work and learning. It begins, "In one of the many letters he wrote to his son in the 1740s, Lord Chesterfield offered the following advice: 'There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once, but there is not time enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time.' To Chesterfield, singular focus was not merely a practical way to structure one's time; it was a mark of intelligence... E-mails pouring in, cell phones ringing, televisions blaring, podcasts streaming--all this may become background noise, like the 'din of a foundry or factory' that [William] James observed workers could scarcely avoid at first, but which eventually became just another part of their daily routine. For the younger generation of multitaskers, the great electronic din is an expected part of everyday life. And given what neuroscience and anecdotal evidence have shown us, this state of constant intentional self-distraction could well be of profound detriment to individual and cultural well-being."
The New Yorker features a review of the life and work of R. Buckminster Fuller, on the occasion of a retrospective exhibition in New York 25 years after his death. Fuller was a deeply strange man. He documented his life so thoroughly (in the "Dymaxion Chronofile," which had grown to over 200K pages by his death) that biographers have had trouble putting their fingers on what, exactly, Fuller's contribution to civilization had been. The review quotes Stewart Brand's resignation from the cult of the Fuller Dome (in 1994): "Domes leaked, always. The angles between the facets could never be sealed successfully. If you gave up and tried to shingle the whole damn thing — dangerous process, ugly result — the nearly horizontal shingles on top still took in water. The inside was basically one big room, impossible to subdivide, with too much space wasted up high. The shape made it a whispering gallery that broadcast private sounds to everyone." From the article: "Fuller's schemes often had the hallucinatory quality associated with science fiction (or mental hospitals). It concerned him not in the least that things had always been done a certain way in the past... He was a material determinist who believed in radical autonomy, an individualist who extolled mass production, and an environmentalist who wanted to dome over the Arctic. In the end, Fuller's greatest accomplishment may consist not in any particular idea or artifact but in the whole unlikely experiment that was Guinea Pig B [which is how Fuller referred to himself]."