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Science Unlocks The Mystery Of Belly Button Lint Screenshot-sm 161

After three years of research, including examining 503 pieces of fluff from his own belly button, Georg Steinhauser has discovered a type of body hair that traps stray pieces of lint and draws them into the navel. Dr Steinhauser's observations showed that "small pieces of fluff first form in the hair and then end up in the navel at the end of the day." Chemical analysis revealed the pieces of fluff were not just made up of cotton from clothing. Wrapped up in the lint were also flecks of dead skin, fat, sweat and dust. Unfortunately, further study has failed to yield a hair or fiber that would give Dr. Steinhauser the last three years of his life back.
Social Networks

A Quantitative Study of How Memes Spread 219

rememberclifford writes "A survey of about 3,000 people who were tagged in a '25 Random Things About Me' note on Facebook found that memes spread through social networks in a remarkably similar way as diseases do. A biologist who looked at the data says that '"25 Things" authors can be seen as "contagious" under what's known as a "susceptible-infected-recovered" model for the spread of disease,' with a propagation factor of 0.27 in this case. But like an infection, the whole thing died out as quickly as it exploded once the number of 'victims' — people who were willing to write 25 things about themselves — was depleted." The '25 Things' meme was at least as annoying as a light flu.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Banned Words List Carries Its First Emoticon 333

DynaSoar writes "Lake Superior State University in Michigan's Upper Peninsula ('The land of four seasons: June, July, August and Winter') has just published its 34th annual List of Words to Be Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness. Besides such unsurprising inclusions such as 'green' corporations being 'game changing' due to concern with their 'carbon foot print,' this year's list contains an emoticon for the first time — not a smiley face or variant, but the 'heart' symbol made from the characters 'less than' and 'three.' It's perhaps a sign of the evolution of language, or at least of this volunteer linguistic watchdog group, that a symbol compounded of two characters, neither of them a letter, is considered not only a word, but a particularly egregious one."
The Internet

The Wackiest Technology Tales of 2008 97

coondoggie writes "Despite the daily drumbeat of new and improved hardware or software, the tech industry isn't all bits and bytes. Some interesting things happen along the way too. Like floating data centers, space geekonauts, shape shifting robots and weird bedfellows (like Microsoft and Jerry Seinfeld). What we include here is an example of what we thought were the best, slightly off-center stories of 2008."
Space

Spider Missing After Trip To Space Station 507

Garabito writes "A spider that had been sent to the International Space Station for a school science program was lost. Two arachnids were sent in order to know if spiders can survive and make webs in space, but now only one spider can be seen in the container. NASA isn't sure where the other spider could have gone. I, for one, welcome our new arachnid overlords."
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The Science of the Lightsaber Screenshot-sm 197

Smartcowboy writes "Chances are that you have seen a lightsaber at one time or another, whether on the evening news or down at the local cantina. Therefore you know that a lightsaber is an amazing and versatile device that is able to cut through nearly anything in a matter of milliseconds. Have you ever wondered how these remarkable weapons work? Where does the energy come from, and how are they able to contain that energy in a rod-like column of glowing power? In this article, you will have a chance to look inside a lightsaber and discover the source of its incredible characteristics." I was sure the blade was made from the focused hate and disappointment of the last three movies.
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Slashdot's Disagree Mail Screenshot-sm 100

Ernest Hemingway's micro-story, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn," is one of my favorite examples of how less is sometimes more. Sometimes a few sentences say it all; you don't always need a hundred pages to convey an idea. Most of the mail I get is brief and to the point. Others are just brief. To be honest, I appreciate the short, crazy email more than the long rants, and they can be just as funny. Read below for this week's mail snippets.
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Slashdot's Disagree Mail Screenshot-sm 202

Slashdot has one of the best discussion systems there is. It's grown and adapted over the years to meet various challenges and suit the needs of our users. A lot of time and effort has gone into it and we are always open to user input to help make it better. Some of our best ideas start as user suggestions and we appreciate the feedback. Of course they can't all be gems and sometimes the suggestions we get are unworkable or just bizarre. Here are a few of my favorite unhelpful, helpful suggestions.
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Slashdot's Disagree Mail Screenshot-sm 251

There is no shortage of comments about us selling out or running advertisements as stories. As you might expect there is no shortage of mail with the same theme. What I enjoy most about them is all the different corporate entities and sometimes political parties, that we are supposedly working for. If even half of them were true, I would have a stack of W-2s as long as my arm every year for the tax man. The truth of the matter is, nobody here sits in their Microsoft smart chair, talking on their minion iPhone, while playing in the Google money pool. (If someone knows how to get into the Google money pool, please send me a mail.) Conspiracy theories have been around as long as man, so I guess it should come as no surprise that Slashdot has a few of it's own. Read below to find out who is pulling our strings.
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Slashdot's Disagree Mail Screenshot-sm 188

Since we covered people who wanted out of Slashdot last week, I thought we'd look at some people who wanted back in. These users found that living without Slashdot was a lot harder than they thought. Maybe you've just been married and are finding out your wife is less interesting than Slashdot or maybe you were bad and want to make amends. These people found out it's hard to make it without your favorite website. Keep reading to find out what they'll do to get back.
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Verizon Tech Accused Of Making $220K In Sex Calls On User Lines Screenshot-sm 218

Joseph Vaccarelli, a former Verizon Technician, has been charged with racking up $220,000 in phone-sex calls by tapping into the land lines of nearly 950 customers. Authorities say that he made approximately 5,000 calls, resulting in 45,000 minutes of call time. Verizon estimated that out of a 40-week period, Vaccarelli spent 15 weeks talking on sex lines. How in the world do you have this much phone sex, period, but especially at work, and not have anyone notice?
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Slashdot's Disagree Mail Screenshot-sm 354

There is an old Japanese proverb that goes, "Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher." This week's mail is all about teaching. Whether it is about the seriousness of psychic ability, a short history of trolls or explaining how much free time and malice your dad's attorney has, these people just want to impart information. If what they sent me is any indication, they had a lot of sick days. Click on the link below to become enlightened.

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