Robo Traffic

Distracted drivers are not at fault, according to new research. The Robotic Automotive Administration yesterday announced that car manufacturers are responsible for the traffic and injuries caused by distracted drivers, not the drivers themselves.

“It’s simple, really. Humans are designed to talk, to look, to interact for short periods of time. They aren’t designed to drive long distances in complicated environments in sub-par conditions. They get tired. They get emotional. So why are we blaming the human when they feel the need to check their social media?” says the RAA release, “If we give a knife to a toddler, can we blame him if he cuts himself?”

Vehicle technology, the report says, has improved in areas of efficiency and comfort, but it has failed to keep up with the trend of mobile phones and social media. The report goes on to cite the lack of a push from car manufacturers to develop automated cars. While it makes no absolute claims, it does imply that they have their own agenda for keeping people behind the wheel.

“We cannot blame social media. We cannot blame communication technology. Above all, we cannot blame the user. We have the capability (to created automated vehicles). We have cameras and sensors, actuators and high speed processors, navigation and traffic warnings. There is absolutely no reason why we cannot see automated cars on the road, which would alleviate congestion, reduce the number of serious incidents and improve the quality of life of all commuters.”

Dial Away Your Fat

Forget diet and exercise and embrace your mobile phone. Recent studies have shown that having a digital phone in our back pocket can help you burn off more fat, even when you’re not moving.

Arman Raseekasingha of Balmain Research has studied the effects of mobile phone proximity to adipose tissue.

“We concentrated our efforts where the phone was most likely to be in contact based upon common usage. This is the chest area and the rump area. There was a measurable difference in the quantity of fat cells between those sides that had a mobile phone in proximity,” he says, “In most cases it’s not visible to the naked eye. There are some exceptions. We have documented several samples where the breast and rump tissue is obviously asymmetric, and in each case the person has chronic exposure to a mobile phone on the smaller side.”

He says possible explanations for the increased loss of fatty tissue around areas exposed to mobile phones include an increased localised temperature, or perhaps that there is a tendency for the phone to be placed on the person’s natural dominant side. When asked whether cell phone radiation could be the answer, he replied, “Absolutely not.”

“We cannot talk about causality at this stage. These findings show a correlation,” he says, “There is no cause for alarm. There is also no reason to base a law suit on these findings: Lopsided breasts or posterior have more to do with diet and genetics than exposure to a mobile phone device.”ChesterLogoSmall

Comic Sans “Evil”

Encoded into the font file of Comic Sans is a sequence that might prove a little disturbing.

The most popular font file has a sequence which has been described as ‘genius’ as well as ‘dastardly’ by font afficionados. Various messages can be deciphered, ranging from, “hALe dark 1”, to “sol EatR” and even “woRlD domN8shn”.

“It all depends on how you align your bytes, how you group them. You can find patterns everywhere, but what was very interesting is if we group the bytes into clusters of six by six, the sixth block then contains these cryptic messages,” says Philip Alabast, curator of the Advanced Science and Mathematical Institute of Wallan, “It’s deliberate, no doubt about it. Normally we see these things in what is termed ‘junk’ bytes, areas of code that hold no relevancy to the actual functionality of the file.”

What makes the comic sans file so interesting, he says, is that the messages are encoded into the functional portion of the code.

“As to whether a pattern within a byte arrangement can make an abstraction, like a font, evil, I don’t know. I’m a mathematician.”ChesterLogoSmall

Rare As…?

Pushing genetic engineering to its limits, a team of Nepalese scientists are creating what will be the first “hen’s tooth”. Inspired by the classic idiom, the funding has been granted by an anonymous beneficiary who hopes to be the first, and last, collector of hen’s teeth.

“It’s genius,” says Paulo*, “We have the science. It should only take a few iterations to get it right.”

Getting it right is the problem, he goes on to say, since each new strain of chicken needs to be grown and checked for what actually constitutes a tooth. The technique involves ‘turning on’ recessive genes that exist naturally within the chicken, that have been made dormant.

Early indications are promising, although most ‘teeth’ have appeared as mere ridges on the bird’s beak.

It’s not all science, though. Paulo insists that there is a financial side to this as well, “By making the world’s only source of hen’s teeth, (the beneficiary) will have the monopoly and be able to control the number in existence. This keeps them extraordinarily rare and valuable. If it works out, he will more than recoup what he spent on the project.”

*Not his real name. Identities have been suppressed at the request of interviewees.ChesterLogoSmall

Breathe In

70% of household dust is made up of waste cells and hair. While this might come as a shock to some, researchers have established that, over the course of a lifetime, the average pair of lungs breathes in the equivalent of an entire human!

Those who spend more time in recycled air environments with a large number of mobile personages, like office buildings, aeroplanes and hospitals, have been found to have a higher count of particles in their lungs tissues, coupled with an elevated macrophage count.

Michelle Green, Senior Technician of Higher Research in Louisiana, says, “We noticed a spike in macrophages, an order of one hundred times greater, between population samples when looking at lung tissue. Simon (A fellow technician) noticed the potential correlation and we performed further analysis to find out just what they were feasting on.”

The amount of ‘foreign human matter’ found was ‘interesting’ but not ‘alarming’, she said.

“It’s not cannibalism, if that’s what you’re worried about. Sure, an amount of digested matter is absorbed into the bloodstream, but it’s not like you’re chewing off a finger. What’s more, there’s a good chance that, among the billions of particles that have entered your system, you have most likely inhaled several celebrities!”ChesterLogoSmall

Dogs Dethrone Cats

The long, hotly debated argument of which animal makes the best pet has been settled. Once again.

In New Ireland, an island of Papua New Guinea, the chief has declared that a former ruling declaring that cats are superior as pets be overturned.

“The original law is clearly wrong. My father was right about many things, but in this he made a mistake,” says the chief through a translator, “I waited two years, so as not to disrespect him. I think I made the right decision.”

Dogs are essential to Papua’s lifestyle, used in hunting and for companionship across the mainland and archipelago while cats, he says, do nothing but “lay about all day, catching more sun than rats.”

The previous ruling had been in effect for over ten years and reportedly was made to stop bickering between feuding families. “There were too many arguments over a silly thing. A decision has to be made. Now I will make the right one,” he says.

The new ruling will see a rise in the number of dogs on the island, although the cat population is expected to remain steady.ChesterLogoSmall

Samping Craze

Fads come and go: the hoolahoop, the yoyo, the frisbee. Few stand the test of time and fewer still are as esoteric and downright creepy as “Samping”.

Samping is a phenomenon whereby people collect, preserve and trade samples of celebrities. The samples are generally frozen or preserved an alcohol/formaldehyde mixture, depending on the kind and quantity sampled.

“It’s not dissimilar to keeping an article of clothing once worn by celebrity. The samps we collect are more personal than mere objects,” says a practitioner, who refused to be named, “But I can understand that it’s not a hobby for everyone.”

The advent of the internet has seen a significant number of ‘samp-sites’, web pages that facilitate the sale and trade of samples between sample collectors or “Sampers”. The practice has been common since the fifties, when cheap refrigeration became widely available, enabling samples to be collected and frozen, although proponents state that the practice is actually an extension of the ancient Egyptian’s mummification ritual.

Michael Jackson and Barbara Streisand are the most popular bang for buck, while Chuck Norris is rating at an all time high, even though there is a running joke that vials aren’t strong enough to contain his cells. While film and television personalities are popular, there are specialist Sampers who deal with requests for bits of scientists, artists, musicians and sports stars.

“I’m not going to share how I collect my samps. I will say that so long as you have documentation on the provenance, and you’ve preserved it properly, you’re onto a solid investment.”ChesterLogoSmall