Can we trust Twitter?
"Twitter is one of the fastest and most comprehensive ways of staying abreast of breaking news," says SciTechDaily.com. "However, it's not always easy to tell whether these microblogging status updates are truthful." Developers are working on ways to automatically assess the credibility of information tweeted during a disaster. Research has shown: "False rumours were far more likely to be tweeted with a question mark or some indication of doubt or denial. … Truthful tweets tend to be longer and include URLs; people tweeting them will have higher follower counts; the tweets are negative rather than positive in tone, and the tweets do not include question marks, exclamation points or first- or third-person pronouns."
Computers with senses
"IBM's 5 in 5 – a list of five innovations that could change the world in five years – focuses on how computers are developing the ability to taste, touch, hear, see and listen just like humans do, except way better," writes Deborah Netburn in the Los Angeles Times. "It is kind of exciting and kind of terrifying, but mostly just really cool. For example, Henrik Hamann, a research manager of physical systems for IBM, describes a smartphone that could use a computerized nose to 'smell' if we are sick. Forget the thermometer and the doctor's visit – we will simply breathe into our cellphones to find out if we have the flu. … Dimitri Kanevsky, a research scientist at IBM, explains that sound sensors may be able to 'hear' an earthquake coming, long before a human could sense it. And John Smith explains that a computer that knows how to make sense of what it can 'see' would be able to diagnose a cancerous growth on your skin."
An app to detect allergens
"A smartphone that can be
transformed into a lab with the ability to detect food allergens is the latest in add-on technology from Aydogan Ozcan," reports NBCNews.com. "He and his researchers are creating prototypes of these devices that turn the phones into precise lab instruments. The iTube, Ozcan and his colleagues' new device, converts smartphones into colorimeters that are able to detect minute amounts of allergens, such as peanuts, in food. It's designed for use at home or in public, such as at a restaurant, said Ozcan, an engineering professor at the University of California, Los Angeles."
Flushing with your phone
"You've heard of a smartphone? Now meet the Genius Toilet," says The Huffington Post. "The Japanese company Lixil has released its latest luxury toilet, a model called the 'Satis' that can be flushed, cleaned and adjusted via smartphone. How does the Satis do it? Well, first the lucky owner of a Lixil Satis needs to download a special app in the Google Play Store and then connect his or her smartphone via Bluetooth to the toilet. Once paired, the app features controls to flush, clean, raise, lower or heat the toilet seat, or choose music to play through the toilet's built-in speakers."
Elephants in peril
"Jane Goodall, one of the world's greatest conservationists," says The Guardian, "has made an impassioned plea for a worldwide ban on the sale of ivory to prevent the extinction of the African elephant. "'A massive tragedy is unfolding in some parts of Africa. This is desperately serious, unprecedented,' she said. 'We believe that Tanzania has lost half its elephants in the last three years. Ugandan military planes have been seen over the Democratic Republic of the Congo shooting elephants from the air. Armed militia are now shooting the elephants.' She accused China of being ultimately responsible, because most of the ivory is sent there to be made into ornaments."
Thought du jour
"Man loves company – even if it is only that of a small, burning candle."
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, German scientist and satirist (1742-99)