Daily TIPs: Bandwidth Trading, LED Standards, Curbing Cows, & More

7/1/08

Call Out for Next-Generation Web Standards

The OpenAjax Alliance, an industry group trying to promote standards for the future of the Internet, is asking its members to vote for their favorite Web features and suggest ways of encouraging their spread. Ars Technica has its own suggestions of “things that need fixing” to secure the Web’s future. Their list: Improved security features, more persistent connections, better support for video, and support for 2D graphics.

Internet Bandwidth Market Proposed

An exchange market, on which companies could buy and sell unused bandwidth, could improve the efficiency of Web use and lower prices, a United Nations proposal says. Hamadoun Toure, the Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union, the UN body responsible for communications standards, tells the New York Times that such an exchange is his dream. He hopes the exchange could help bridge the digital divide in developing countries.

MIT Students Build Solar Concentrator

One relatively cheap method for harnessing solar power is to focus a wide swath of sunlight down to a small area, thus concentrating its heat. Students at MIT have made a 12 x 12 foot mirror that can focus sunlight onto a small point, boiling water to create steam energy. The Discovery Channel says that the students, who aimed to make the mirror as inexpensively as possible, are forming a company to market their technology.

Unsafe Browsers Widespread on Internet

A full 40 percent of people surfing the Internet are doing so with outdated versions of Web browsers that are vulnerable to attack, a study shows. The study, conducted by Google, IBM, and the Communications Systems Group in Switzerland, found 576 million people using unsafe browsers, the Washington Post reports. More than half of all Internet Explorer users had outdated versions, the report found.

Government Sets New Standards for LED Lighting

The future of lighting may lie in tiny, bright, efficient LEDs, but so far incandescent and fluorescent bulbs dominate the market. Now the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the nation’s main standard-setting body, has released two key standards for LED-based lighting, Daily Tech reports. The standards, which have to do with color specifications and measurements of efficiency, should make LEDs more legitimate in the eyes of industry.

Pentagon, NSF to Study Social Sciences

One aspect of national security is understanding how other societies work. The Pentagon and the National Science Foundation are therefore teaming up on the Minerva Research Initiative, a project that will distribute grants to social scientists to study topics of interest to defense planners. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the grants may support studies of the Chinese military or examinations of life under Saddam Hussein, for instance.

More-Productive Cows Mean Less Gas?

The worldwide dairy industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than vehicle traffic, thanks to the land, water, and feed that go into milk production, as well as the methane produced by cows’ digestive systems. Agence France Presse reports that a researcher at Cornell University found that giving one million cows a controversial growth hormone would allow dairies to produce the same amount of milk with far fewer cows. Researcher Judith Capper says the result would be the same as removing 400,000 cars from the roads.

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