Daily TIPs: High-Tech Candidates, Bat Killers, Viruses in Clouds and Bugs, & More

8/26/08

Nielsen Measures Obama’s Text Audience

If the phone rings at 3 a.m., it’s probably Barack Obama texting you the late news of his vice presidential choice. Nielsen, which normally measures television audiences, said about 2.9 million people received the cell phone message, which had already been scooped by the more old-fashioned media. The Wall Street Journal points out that Obama still wins, having collected all those cell phone numbers so he can contact supporters in the future.

Joe Biden Sends Out Video Message

The online campaign neither starts nor ends with the text message announcing Joe Biden as Barack Obama’s running mate. Biden has since sent out an e-mail with a link to a video that thanks supporters and tells them something of who he is. The Christian Science Monitor says this is all part of an ongoing digital campaign that’s getting a lot of attention.

Can Obama Bring Facebook Fans to the Polls?

Online support may be great for generating buzz—and donations—but it doesn’t necessarily translate into votes; Witness how Howard Dean’s online support in 2004 failed to win him the nomination. BusinessWeek asks if Barack Obama can translate his success in social networking into success in getting out the vote.

Candidates to Answer Science Questions Via E-mail

Despite months of calls for the presidential candidates to address questions of science and technology, it looks increasingly unlikely that there will be a debate on science in this election. But Science News reports that the organizing committee for Science Debate 2008 has gotten the candidates to agree to answer 14 questions, on issues ranging from stem cells to space exploration. It’s unclear, however, when the campaigns plan to respond.

Security May Be Better in the Cloud

Protecting computers from viruses and worms is a never-ending battle that can take up a lot of desktop processing power. According to Technology Review, researchers from the University of Michigan think computers could have better protection with no loss of performance if antivirus software were moved off the desktop and into the cloud, a collection of Internet-connected servers that act as if they’re one machine. The researchers found that, by using cloud computing, they could detect 88 percent of viruses, instead of only 73 percent found with a single antivirus program.

Wind Turbines Kill Bats With Pressure Changes

The mysterious deaths of large numbers of bats near wind turbines had scientists stumped; bats, after all, excel at not bumping into things. Now researchers have found that it’s the rapid drop in air pressure near the turbine blades that is causing the damage, the Discovery Channel reports. Necropsies showed that the sudden drop is causing the bats’ lungs to explode.

Pedal Pushers Produce Green Energy

While you’re sweatin’ to the oldies, why not use some of that muscle power to help the environment? That’s the thinking at a new gym in Portland, OR, which according to the Los Angeles Times is the first in the country to use human-powered cycling and cardio machines to generate renewable energy. Solar panels on the roof also make the gym more eco-friendly.

Scientists Contemplate Biowar Against Mosquitoes

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found a virus that infects the world’s most dangerous type of mosquito. The New York Times reports that the virus in its current form is harmless, but the researchers feel it could be genetically engineered to kill the mosquitoes. The virus targets the type of mosquito that is chiefly responsible for spreading malaria in Africa.

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