Daily TIPs: Tech Czar, Nanoparticles, Hackers, & More

6/27/08

Who Should Be Obama’s Tech Czar?

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has proposed creating a Cabinet-level position for a chief technology officer. Washingtonian.com finds the idea intriguing, and reviews some of the names being kicked around among techies. Should the czar be Google’s Vint Cerf, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, or someone else.

Foreign Hackers Could Black Out the U.S.

Chinese hackers are a major threat to both government and private computer networks in the U.S., the National Journal warns. Even worse than stealing data, attackers could disrupt the control of major utilities and bring down the power grid. In fact, the magazine says, two major blackouts may have been caused by hackers.

Generation Gap Between Moms on the Web

How mothers use the Internet varies depending on their age, a study by Bonnier Corp’s Parenting Group has found. As Ars Technica reports, Gen X moms, born in the 1960s and ’70s, are very task-oriented, using the Web to achieve specific goals, such as buying products. Gen Y moms, on the other hand, are much more into Web 2.0, writing and reading blogs, creating videos, and updating their online profiles

Solar Cell Market May Mirror That of Computers

In a sign that the market for photovoltaics may be about to take off, three computer heavyweights that promoted the development of the PC over the past three decades are moving into the solar cell business, says Scientific American. IBM announced it will begin making solar panels based on chemical thin films. Intel spun off a new solar tech company. And Hewlett-Packard started licensing technology to a company that makes rooftop solar systems

Climate Change is a Security Threat, Spies Say

Global warming could spur wars over water resources and push refugees to migrate far away, raising security issues for nations around the world. That’s the assessment of a classified study released by the National Intelligence Council to policymakers in Washington this week, according to U.S. News and World Report. The report said sub-Saharan Africa will be the most susceptible to political instability.

New Test Could Determine Toxicity of Nanoparticles

Materials engineered to be smaller than the wavelength of visible light are finding increasing applications in medicine, engineering, even consumer products like face cream, but no one quite knows what impact they might have on human health. Now researchers at the University of Michigan have come up with a way to test the effects of nanoparticles on human cells, according to the Wired Science blog. They also found that if they coated certain particles with a gel, they could make them less toxic.

EU Caps Airline Emissions, America Objects

The European Union has imposed emissions caps on intercontinental flights, even though the U.S. argues that such a cap violates treaties on aviation, the International Herald Tribune reports. Europe seems confident that the U.S. will get on board with the cap, though, because both Barack Obama and John McCain promise to support an emissions trading program in America

Genes May Affect Voter Turnout, Study Claims

Do your genes make you more or less likely to vote? Researchers at UC San Diego and the University of Southern California think they do, according to Science Daily. The scientists studied voter turnout patterns of identical and non-identical twins, and found that 53 percent of the variation in turnout can be explained by genetic factors.

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