Man builds social network using Atlantic Ocean

(Credit: Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET)(Credit: Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET)


Harold Hackett has thousands of friends all over the world, and he didn’t get them through social media.

The Canadian has spent the last 15 years using the Atlantic Ocean as his very own Facebook by casting bottled messages on the waves.

A resident of Tignish, a fishing village on Prince Edward Island, Hackett has received over 3,100 replies to more than 4,800 messages he has sent out, a 64 percent response rate.

Hackett, interviewed on BBC News Magazine, tossed out his first message in May 1996. He has received replies from Canada and the U.S., Iceland, Europe, and as far away as Africa, Russia, and South America.

The 59-year-old hobbyist uses juice bottles with their launch date inscribed in permanent marker. He encloses photocopied messages asking those who find the bottles to write to him–via snail mail.

Hackett often sets bottles adrift on his birthday, August 23, and waits.

Some bottles have taken more than a decade to be discovered. Some have been opened and then returned to the waves, only to be found by someone elsewhere.

“I got one (note) back with five different people finding it,” Hackett was quoted as saying by The Guardian of Charlottetown, capital of the island province.

“They found it and let it go. It started in Cape Breton, went to Nova Scotia. It went to Newfoundland and then it went to St. Pierre-Miquelon and Florida, and then he wrote back to me,” Hackett said. “There were five letters in my letter when I got it.”

He doesn’t include his phone number because he wants a tangible reply. “Evey letter has its own story,” he says. He has formed many pen-pal relationships and usually gets 150 Christmas cards.

Known as “Harold the bottle man,” Hackett has gone through over 4,800 plastic bottles, 680 rolls of black tape for securing the caps, hundreds of pens, and dozens of permanent markers. And he’s still going strong.

“I don’t think I want to quit until I shut my eyes for good,” he told the BBC. “I’m going to go as long as I can. I’ll keep doing it.”


Kung Fu Meditation: Staying in Your Power Center

By Stacey Nemour – who is a black belt in Kung Fu, and a highly respected martial artist

Kung-fu is an art that entails not only self defense skills and getting in shape, but also teaches about the development of mind, body and spirit and how one can grow in all aspects of life. When our personal awareness is cultivated from within these three areas, it will reflect in our relationships with all people, the planet and the universe. In China, the spiritual and physical realms are traditionally not seen as separate.

In martial arts an important grounding force is learning to originate all your moves from the tan tian, (known as the sea of chi.) The psychic center that protects the center of gravity and produces a reservoir of force from which one can draw energy. It is located about two inches below the navel and inward in the body. In the martial arts tradition, it is the source of all power; our life force. Chi is defined as energy that can be directed through visualization from the tan tien to places outside the body. It is from this center that martial artists draw power to break concrete. When you study martial arts, you learn to use the breath to create a connection between the mover and the movement. Sometimes, when we are under pressure, threatened or intimidated, we move away from our power center into our head, where we can undermine ourselves. This rooting power centers the mind and body, so it is difficult to be dislodged or intimidated. From here you are able to control your mental states.

In martial art classes, white belts can be the most dangerous to spar with and are most likely to hurt you. Once while sparring with a white belt ground fighter, I had the advantage and this outraged my opponent. She lost control and flipped my legs behind my head, putting her full weight on me until my sternum separated from my ribs. I had to be rushed to the emergency room. A highly ranked martial artist will remain calm, unemotional and will have mastered their ego. It would be safest to spar with a partner such as this.

The spirit and feeling in training should be harmonious, working together as partners, not opponents. Working with another person helps both progress more rapidly. Working against someone is dangerous, as a calm disposition is essential in order to act with accurate judgment of your partner’s movement.

Success is measured not by rank, but how the student’s life improves. By learning to manage energy and emotions, and letting go of the need to be right, students become masters over their actions, rather than prisoners of their reactions. In ancient cultures, students studying martial arts disciplines did not practice to obtain a rank or belt. They practiced to develop themselves physically, mentally and spiritually. In Kung-fu, T’ai Chi and Karate the competitor seeks to lose all distractions of ego, analysis and self-referring thoughts, immersing him or herself completely within the activity. This is also known as being in the zone or flow.

In life there are many levels on which we can be attacked, but not just physically. Being centered physically reflects in being centered emotionally. How this translates into daily life is by not overreacting, avoiding conflict, standing ground, and allowing others to have their opinion without feeling like you have to convince them that you are right.

If you allow yourself to become defensive, a cycle is set in motion and, before you know it, the conflict has spiraled into negativity that has nothing to do with the truth at hand. Instead of making people over in a certain image or trying to force them to do things in a certain way, if we practice detachment, compassion and acceptance we create harmony. This positive state of mind prevents us from getting pulled into things that don’t serve us or the higher good.

Part of the training in martial arts includes learning how to fall and to trust that you won’t get hurt. We are often afraid of falling and hurting ourselves literally and figuratively. This can manifest as common fears … fear of failure, falling in love and of the unknown. In all of our lives we sometimes fall or feel out of control. Learning how to fall physically without hurting yourself and bouncing right back up is an empowering lesson that teaches us we can come back from anything with speed and wisdom.

In meditation or moving meditation, we have access to an inner sanctuary to retreat; a safe haven, a place no one can ever touch or destroy, available to us at any time.

Solar panels wrapped round the moon could power the world, EVs and all

by Eric Loveday

What if you took the solar panel idea and applied it on a scale of epic proportions? Just imagine wrapping the entire 6,800-mile circumference of the moon with solar panels to harness the sun’s power and then beamed all that collected energy back to Earth via microwave or laser technology to power the world. Sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? Sure, but the Shimizu Corporation, a Japanese construction firm, still hopes to one day make this dreamy idea a reality.

The Luna Ring, as Shimuzu calls it, is a large band of solar panels wrapping the Moon’s equator. At 6,800 miles in length and 248 miles in width, the company believes that the Luna Ring could one day power the entire world. While we don’t doubt the claims, a build of this size in outer space would undoubtedly be the most ambitious project ever tackled – in or outside of Earth’s confines. Shimuzu envisions robots carrying out the majority of the labor-intensive work, such as ground leveling, while astronauts handle more intricate tasks. The robots would be teleoperated from Earth via remote control and antennas more than 12 miles in diameter would beam energy back to Earth… hold on. Let’s stop right there. The Luna Ring is nothing short of amazing, but the complexity and astronomical cost make it too far-fetched to ever become a reality in our lifetime. Maybe that’s why Shimuzu simply calls the Luna Ring “its dream.” Tip of the hat to Larzen!

[Source: PhysOrg | Image: Shimuzu Corporation]

Wire Bike Lanes in The Sky Are Faster, May Be Safer, Certainly More Badass


by Lloyd Alter, Toronto

Just yesterday, Jaymi showed a guy zipping ’round town on a wire and I thought, why build all of this wire infrastructure for a zipline when you can just give the guy a bike? But Martin Angelov of Kolelinia Lab beat me to it, and instead he gives the bike a wire. Angelov’s Kolelinia project creates bike lanes in the sky out of a network of wires and suspended troughs, creating a minimalist version of Velo-City.

The wheels of the bike fit into a furrow, or trough that is supported on a rail, so that will be pretty stable. An attachment to the end of the handlebars keeps you connected to a safety wire, so one is unlikely to fall over.

kolelinia personal safety device image

The safety device is very clever, with a mechanism that pivots around the safety wire supports.

velo-city bike paths image
Velo-City: Cycle Tracks Will Abound in Utopia

While I am really fond of Chris Hardwicke’s Velo-City, no doubt Martin Angelov’s proposal would cost a lot less to implement, and is less intrusive on the skyline.

Follow link for Video ->

9 Shocking Things Made From Oil (PHOTOS)

From Huffington Post

Oil isn’t just what fuels your car– it’s all over, pervading every part of your life. When it comes to products, you’d probably be more hard-pressed to find something that doesn’t contain oil than something that does. We’ve compiled some of the most surprising, commonly-used products that contain petroleum. Take a look, and vote for the most shocking.

All plastics are made from petrochemicals, unless they are are made from sources of biomass. Petrochemicals are chemicals that, you guessed it, are derived from petroleum.

Acetylsalicylic acid is made from petrochemicals, and it is the active ingredient in many well-known over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin. Synthetic vitamins are also made from petrochemicals– this is especially bad for fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K, because they accumulate in the body’s fat deposits and liver, as opposed to water-soluble vitamins that flush out of the body.

More Photos can be found at->

Nude-Colored Hospital Gowns Could Help Doctors Better Detect Hard-to-See Symptoms

A new study from Rensselaer Professor Mark Changizi suggests that changing the color of hospital gowns and bed sheets to match a patient’s skin color could greatly enhance the ability of a doctor or nurse to detect cyanosis and other health-related skin color changes. Perceived color on skin crucially depends on the background color. For example, the five small squares are identical in each of the above boxes. The change and gradation of the small squares, however, are much easier to identify in the box in the lower right-hand corner than the other hospital gown-colored boxes. (Credit: Mark Changizi / Rensselaer)

Changing the hue of hospital gowns and bed sheets to match a patient’s skin color could greatly enhance a physician’s ability to detect cyanosis and other health-related skin color changes, according to a new study from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

“If a doctor sees a patient, and then sees the patient again later, the doctor will have little or no idea whether the patient’s skin has changed color,” said neurobiologist and study leader Mark Changizi, assistant professor in the Department of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer. “Small shifts in skin color can have tremendous medical implications, and we have proposed a few simple tools — skin-colored gowns, sheets, and adhesive tabs — that could better arm physicians to make more accurate diagnoses.”

Human eyes evolved to see in color largely for the purpose of detecting skin color changes such as when other people blush, Changizi said. These emotive skin color changes are extremely apparent because humans are hard-wired to notice them, and because the background skin color remains unchanged. The contrast against the nearby “baseline” skin color is what makes blushes so noticeable, he said.

Human skin also changes color as a result of hundreds of different medical conditions.

Pale skin, yellow skin, and cyanosis — a potentially serious condition of bluish discoloration of the skin, lips, nails, and mucous membranes due to lack of oxygen in the blood — are common symptoms. These color changes often go unnoticed, however, because they often involve a fairly universal shift in skin color, Changizi said. The observer in most instances will just assume the patient’s current skin color is the baseline color. The challenge is that there is no color contrast against the baseline for the observer to pick up on, as the baseline skin color has changed altogether.

(To hear Changizi address the age-old question of why human veins look blue, see:

One potential solution, Changizi said, is for hospitals to outfit patients with gowns and sheets that are nude-colored and closely match their skin tone. Another solution is to develop adhesive tabs in a large palette of skin-toned colors. Physicians could then choose the tabs that most closely resemble the patient’s skin tone, and place the tabs at several places on the skin of the patient. Both techniques should afford doctors and clinicians an easy and effective tool to record the skin tone of a patient, and see if it deviates — even very slightly — from its “baseline” color over time.

“If a patient’s skin color shifts a small amount, the change will often be imperceptible to doctors and nurses,” Changizi said. “If that patient is wearing a skin-colored gown or adhesive tab, however, and their skin uniformly changes slightly more blue, the initially ‘invisible’ gown or tab will appear bright and yellow to the observer.”

While there are devices for specifically measuring the oxygen content of blood to help detect the onset of cyanosis, Changizi said the color recognition offered by the color-matched adhesive tabs and hospital gowns would be another tool to tip off the clinician that there is even a need to measure blood oxygen content. The color-matched tabs and gowns would also benefit many hospital departments, as well as international hospitals, which lack equipment to measure blood oxygen content, he said.

Changizi’s findings are detailed in the paper “Harnessing color vision for visual oximetry in central cyanosis,” published in the journal Medical Hypotheses. The complete paper may be viewed online at Changizi’s Web site at:

Last year, Changizi’s eye-opening book, The Vision Revolution: How the Latest Research Overturns Everything We Thought We Knew About Human Vision, hit store shelves. Published by BenBella Books, The Vision Revolution investigates why vision has evolved as it has over millions of years, and challenges theories that have dominated the scientific literature for decades.

Story Source:

Adapted from materials provided by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Journal Reference:

  1. Mark Changizi, Kevin Rio. Harnessing color vision for visual oximetry in central cyanosis. Medical Hypotheses, 2010; 74 (1): 87 DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2009.07.045

New U.S. $100 Bill Unveiled

New bill on the top, old bill on the bottom.  (Source: NY Daily News)

New $100 bill will be available February 10, 2011

Ahhh, the smell of money. Although many people like to carry around plastic in their wallets instead of paper bills, there is still a need to thwart counterfeiters who always try to outsmart the latest security improvements included in U.S. currency.

Today, high ranking members from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the United States Secret Service pulled the wraps off the newest design for the $100 bill, the highest currently available denomination available for U.S. currency.

The new $100 bill features new security enhancements to cut down on counterfeiting including a 3D Security Ribbon that has images of 100s and bells which change position as you move the bill and a “Bell in the Inkwell” image that changes colors from green to copper depending on how the bill is oriented.

“The new security features announced today come after more than a decade of research and development to protect our currency from counterfeiting. To ensure a seamless introduction of the new $100 note into the financial system, we will conduct a global public education program to ensure that users of U.S. currency are aware of the new security features,” said Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios.

According to U.S. Department of the Treasury is the most circulated and counterfeited of all U.S. bills — the total worldwide circulation of the $100 bill is $890 billion according to the Wall Street Journal. In addition, roughly two-thirds of all $100 bills in circulation can be found overseas.

“The $100 is the highest value denomination that we issue, and it circulates broadly around the world,” said Michael Lambert, the Assistant Director for Cash at the Federal Reserve Board. “Therefore, we took the necessary time to develop advanced security features that are easy for the public to use in everyday transactions, but difficult for counterfeiters to replicate.”

The new $100 bill will be ushered into service on February 10, 2011.