New research suggests that in addition to being one of history's cruelest conquerors, Genghis Khan may have been the greenest. It is estimated that the Mongol leader's invasions unintentionally scrubbed almost 700 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere. From the article: "Over the course of the century and a half run of the Mongol Empire, about 22 percent of the world's total land area had been conquered and an estimated 40 million people were slaughtered by the horse-driven, bow-wielding hordes. Depopulation over such a large swathe of land meant that countless numbers of cultivated fields eventually returned to forests. In other words, one effect of Genghis Khan's unrelenting invasion was widespread reforestation, and the re-growth of those forests meant that more carbon could be absorbed from the atmosphere." I guess everyone has their good points.
eldavojohn writes "Thinking about developing a game involving a 'database driven online distributed tournament system?' Well, you had better talk to Walker Digital or risk a lawsuit, because Walker Digital claims to have patented that 'invention' back in 2002. The patent in question has resulted in some legal matters for the makers of 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1 and 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Call of Duty: World at War, Blur, Wolfenstein, DJ Hero 2, Golden Eye 007, World of Warcraft and its expansions, Mafia Wars, and many others.' Walker Digital (parent company of Priceline.com) said it's not sure how much damages are going to be, and requested that through discovery in the court. If you think Walker Digital is not a patent troll, check out their lawsuit from two months ago against Facebook for using privacy controls Walker Digital claims to have patented. It would seem that any online competitive game that uses a database to select and reward contestants in a tournament could potentially fall under this patent — of course, those with the deepest coffers will be cherrypicked first."
Knile writes "While not the youngest patent recipient ever (that would be a four year old in Texas), Bryce Gunderman has received a patent at age 8 for a space-saver that combines an outlet cover plate with a shelf. From the article: '"I thought how I was going to make a lot of money," Bryce said about what raced through his brain when he received the patent.'"
Instead of bottle caps and ridicule from his peers, 3-year-old James Hyatt found a locket worth millions with his metal detector. James and his dad found the gold locket last May in Essex. Since then the 500-year-old treasure has been appraised at around £2.5million. From the article: "James’s father Jason, 34, said: ‘My son is one of the luckiest people ever. If we go to the doctors he’ll put his hand down the side of the sofa and pull out a tenner.’"
tetrahedrassface writes "When I was very young, my dad took me on a trip to his parents' farm. He wanted to show me 'The Crater.' We walked a long way through second generation hardwoods and finally stood on the rim of a hole that has no equal in this area. As I grew up, I became more interested in The Crater, and would always tell friends about it. It is roughly 1,200 feet across and 120 feet deep, and has a strange vibe about it. When you walk up to it, you feel like something really big happened here. Either the mother of all caves is down there, or a large object smashed into this place a long, long time ago. I bought aerial photos when I was twelve and later sent images from GIS to a geologist at a local university. He pretty much laughed me out of his office, saying that it was a sinkhole. He did wish me luck, however. It may be sinkhole. Who knows? Last week I borrowed a metal detector and went poking around, and have found the strangest shrapnel pieces I have ever seen. They are composed of a metal that reacts strongly to acids. The largest piece so far reacted with tap water and dish-washing detergent. My second trip today yielded lots of strange new pieces of metal, and hopefully, one day the truth will be known. Backyard science is so much fun. And who knows; if it is indeed a cave, maybe Cerberus resides there."
A study authored by Christopher Nave, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, says that our personalities stay pretty much the same from early childhood all the way through old age. From the article: "Using data from a 1960s study of approximately 2,400 ethnically diverse schoolchildren (grades 1 - 6) in Hawaii, researchers compared teacher personality ratings of the students with videotaped interviews of 144 of those individuals 40 years later. They examined four personality attributes - talkativeness (called verbal fluency), adaptability (cope well with new situations), impulsiveness and self-minimizing behavior (essentially being humble to the point of minimizing one's importance)." This must explain my overriding need to be first captain when we pick kickball teams at the office.
Ant writes in with news of a study revealing differences in gadget preferences by US region. The survey is not rigorous, based as it was on 7,500 online questionnaires submitted to Retrevo, a website for tech shoppers. The company plans to run the survey annually. "...in the smartphone category, the state of Maryland came out on top with 48 percent more households owning at least one such handset than elsewhere in the country. ... In iPad use, the state of New York took top honors. According to the survey, 52 percent more households have at least one iPad in the Empire State. ... Massachusetts beat out the rest of the nation in e-reader adoption..."
Officials in Riverhead, New York are using Google Earth to root out the owners of unlicensed pools. So far they've found 250 illegal pools and collected $75,000 in fines and fees. Of course not everyone thinks that a city should be spending time looking at aerial pictures of backyards. from the article: "Lillie Coney, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, DC, said Google Earth was promoted as an aid to curious travelers but has become a tool for cash-hungry local governments. 'The technology is going so far ahead of what people think is possible, and there is too little discussion about community norms,' she said."
The Plastiki, a catamaran made with plastic bottles, has completed a 8,000 mile trip between San Francisco and Sydney. Captain David de Rothschild said, "The Plastiki is literally a metaphorical message in a bottle about beating waste and reducing our human fingerprints on our natural environment." The boat will go on display at the Australian National Maritime Museum for the next month.
Today Electronic Arts announced Darkspore, an action RPG in development from Maxis that is inspired by Spore's creature creator technology. The game is due to launch in February 2011, and a teaser is available on the official website. A more descriptive video is available from EA's live demo (start at 8:25). Quoting Joystiq: "...Darkspore will let up to three players traverse 'several' planets cooperatively, and while there will be PvP in the finished product, Maxis isn't providing details just yet. The basics will be the same whether going in solo or as a team: You'll be able to choose from a number (again, no specifics yet) of pre-created melee, ranged and support creatures that can have their stats and abilities augmented by equipment. ... When choosing to beam down from your starship to a planet, you will see a lineup of enemy types that you'll encounter. This gives you and your friends enough information to decide which three characters from your collection you'll want to deploy. The trio can then be switched between on the fly, albeit with a brief cool-down period afterward. The idea is to use the characters' various abilities strategically against what the Left 4 Dead-inspired 'AI director' decides to toss your way."
Gisg writes "The University of Arizona team reported that their genetically modified mosquitoes are immune to the malaria-causing parasite, a single-cell organism called Plasmodium. Riehle and his colleagues tested their genetically-altered mosquitoes by feeding them malaria-infested blood. Not even one mosquito became infected with the malaria parasite."
JoshuaInNippon writes "Japan has gone life-size anime model crazy. Last year there was the robotic 1:1 Gundam model that guarded Tokyo for a few months in the summer to mark the series' 30th anniversary, and then there was the giant Gigantor moment that opened in Kobe in the fall in honor of the city's rejuvenation from the devastating 1995 earthquake. Now, an amusement park near Mt. Fuji named Fuji-Q Highland is building an Eva Unit 01 from the popular Neon Genesis Evangelion series, or at least a bust of it, in conjunction with the series' recent movies. The bust will sit in a replica hanger, and reportedly stand around 9 meters tall. Visitors will have the chance, for a little extra money, to have their photo taken in the unit's cockpit, where the series' protagonist-of-sorts Shinji Ikari normally sits. The attraction is set to a cost of over US$1.6 million to build, and open on July 23 of this year. It will also undoubtedly be swamped by crazed fans looking the opportunity to bring their anime dreams to life."
Humunculus writes "Of more worldly issues, NASA's latest multimillion-dollar stratosphere-bound balloon launch has gone horribly wrong and crashed into a car, turning it over and narrowly missing two elderly people who were observing the launch. The payload fared worse, reportedly being smashed into a 'thousand pieces.'"
WrongSizeGlass writes "The L.A. Times is reporting that Santa Clara County officials have voted to ban toys and other promotions that restaurants offer with high-calorie children's meals. 'This ordinance prevents restaurants from preying on children's love of toys' to sell high-calorie, unhealthful food, said Supervisor Ken Yeager, who sponsored the measure. 'This ordinance breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes.' Supervisor Donald Gage, who voted against the measure, said, 'If you can't control a 3-year-old child for a toy, God save you when they get to be teenagers.' The vote was 3 - 2 in favor of the ban."