Page 6 - Technology Facts

Google maps uses anonymous cell phone data to give its live traffic feeds.


If you’ve ever used the mobile Google Maps application to navigate your way through an unfamiliar place, then you’ve probably also unknowingly returned Google the favour. When you choose to enable Google Maps with My Location, your phone sends anonymous pieces of data describing how fast you’re moving, back to Google. 

A collection of different people’s speeds from across thousands of phones moving through city at a given times, gives a pretty accurate picture of live traffic conditions. Google Mobile’s privacy policy includes an entire list of private information that Google is allowed to gather; your phone number, your carrier, basic usage stats about your device, etc. Google claims that it uses this information to create practical solutions and create a better user experience. 

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Scientists created a synthetic living cell that can replicate itself—and named it Synthia!


Dr. Craig Venter from the J. Craig Venter Institute and his research team have taken a copy of an existing bacterial genome, inspected at all the DNA inside a bacterial cell, decoded that on a computer and then used the information to chemically construct a new genome. They synthesized a genome in their lab from scratch in 2010!

This new cell lives and it is replicated over a billion times already. They decided to name this synthetic cell Synthia. Why did they do this? According to Dr. Venter it will help us to understand life on the most intimate level and it helped to develop the tools to design new organisms.

But to what end? "I think they're going to potentially create a new industrial revolution if we can really get cells to do the production we want, if they could help wean us off of oil, and reverse some of the damage to the environment like capturing back carbon dioxide. I would be pretty satisfied with that outcome alone," says Dr. Venter.

One of the first applications would be vaccines. According to Dr. Venter, new vaccines could be developed in a day, where new flu vaccines have taken much longer to produce in the past using conventional methods.

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Prisons have found something that keeps them from having to hire more guards--you probably have one too!


Working in a prison can be a seriously dangerous job—especially if you're vastly outnumbered by the hordes of dangerous inmates. The most logical way to deal with an unruly crowd would be to hire more guards to keep everyone in line. Luckily, there's a much more economical solution, and one that probably keeps a lot of us out of trouble as well!

The Nielson Company reported that TV viewing in the United States was at an all time high in 2009, with children averaging about eight hours a day on TV, video games, movies, the Internet, cell phones, iPods, and other non-school related tech. It works as a way to pacify agitated individuals—which is why cable television is so prevalent in prisons.

Private prisons recognize that inmates with cable television are much more quiet and subdued. This is how they get around having to spend more money on staff while keeping a safe and relatively quiet prison. Of course, you probably shouldn't let them watch “Prison Break” in case they start getting some crazy ideas!

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Some awesome lists!

This color photograph is over 100 years old! Learn how it was made


The man in this photo is Alim Khan. The photo was taken in 1911 and is one of the earliest color photographs ever taken. It was created by first taking three black-and-white photographs through red, green and blue filters, then projecting those photographs through similar filters which, when projected on a projection screen, created a full-color image.

The first ever permanent color photograph was taken in 1861 using an imperfect technique known as the three-color method. The earlier methods of color photographs were limited in the range of colors they could produce. The photo of Alim Khan was taken using a more advanced version of this method.

It was a challenge to find a method of color photography that worked well. The first commercially successful color process was called “autochrome,” and was introduced in 1907, but this was still limited. Kodak introduced “kodachrome” in 1935. It was an effective method, but one that required a lot of work to develop the photos.

It wasn’t until 1963 that Polaroid introduced instant color film. Unlike previous methods, cameras that used instant color film could develop a color photograph in just one-to-two minutes after exposure. Nine years later the company introduced integral film, which developed and fixed the photo without any intervention from the photographer.

Today most people use digital cameras which uses an electronic image sensor to record the image as a set of electronic data rather than as chemical changes on film. Digital cameras are much more convenient and have comparable image qualities to film cameras. There’s still a small market for film cameras, however, due to the potentially superior image quality and distinctive look.

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Black boxes are made to withstand severe conditions— but they're not black, and they're not even boxes!


Any commercial aeroplane or corporate jet is required to be equipped with a cockpit voice recorder and a flight data recorder. It is these two items of separate equipment which we commonly refer to as a ‘Black Box.’ All recorders undergo countless tests that include exposure to a 1,110°C fire for an hour and 260°C heat for 10 hours. It is also able to operate between -55° to +70°C and it can carry a minimum 25 hours of flight data. It should also be able to withstand the pressure of being a mile under water for 30 days.

When Air France Flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on 1 June 2009, all 228 passengers and the entire crew aboard were killed. Investigations were hampered because the aircraft's black boxes were not recovered from the ocean floor until May 2011 - nearly two years later.

Amazingly enough, the black boxes were still intact after such a long period of sea water and pressure exposure! The history of the flight as recorded by the black boxes revealed that the aircraft's crash into the sea was not a result of mechanical failure or severe weather conditions, but because the flight crew had raised the aircraft's nose, reducing it's speed until it stalled. They were unable to recover from the stall and crashed into the ocean.

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