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Figures & Facts
25 years of innovation: Apple's unveiling of the first Macintosh forever changed the future of personal computing
The Macintosh - the first to bear the name - turns 25 on 24 January. The machine debuted in 1984 and kicked off a product line that were Apple's flagship computers for many years.
The Macintosh helped popularize the combination of graphical interface and mouse that is ubiquitous today. It had a revolutionary all-in-one design, and crucially, used a graphical user interface to navigate around, rather than text commands. This enabled the Apple Macintosh to cross the species barrier – everyday users could now use the computer, rather than just geeks au fait with scripting and coding. Indeed, the $2,495 price tag was perhaps the only barrier to entry.
The mouse input system and simple GUI enabled users to carry out a range of tasks that had been impossible on other computers. The Apple Macintosh came bundled with two software programs, MacWrite and MacPaint, signalling the birth of word processing and desktop publishing. With just 128KB of memory and a sloth-like 8MHz processor, the Apple Macintosh is woefully underpowered by today’s standards, but was cutting edge at the time. read more »
New evidence of climate change: Antarctica warmed over 1°F over last 50 years, not cooling as previously thought
The Antarctic Peninsula juts into the Southern Ocean, reaching farther north than any other part of the continent. The southernmost reach of global warming was believed to be limited to this narrow strip of land, while the rest of the continent was presumed to be cooling or stable.
Not so, according to a new analysis involving NASA data. In fact, the study has confirmed a trend suspected by some climate scientists. "Everyone knows it has been warming on the Antarctic Peninsula, where there are lots of weather stations collecting data," said Eric Steig, a climate researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle, and lead author of the study. "Our analysis told us that it is also warming in West Antarctica."
The finding is the result of a novel combination of historical temperature data from ground-based weather stations and more recent data from satellites. Steig and colleagues used data from each record to fill in gaps in the other and to reconstruct a 50-year history of surface temperatures across Antarctica. read more »
Obama takes office with call to remake nation with ideals of the Founding Fathers and "choose our better history"
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama was inaugurated yesterday as the 44th president of the United States, seizing the historic moment to invoke the "price and the promise of citizenship" and demand the participation of all Americans in restoring the country to greatness. He took the oath of office on Abraham Lincoln's Bible before a sea of more than 1 million people that stretched from the Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial. He struck a solemn tone in warning of the challenges and sacrifices that lie ahead. Comparing the economic crisis and fight against terrorism to the trials faced by the Founding Fathers, Obama implored his fellow citizens to join him "in the work of remaking America."
"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord," Obama said, his voice reverberating throughout the National Mall. "Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end - that we did not turn back, nor did we falter." read more »
From car to aircraft in 15 seconds: 'roadable' plane Terrafugia Transition is a flying car that fits in the garage
The fantasy of spy novels and science fiction films is at last becoming reality with a vehicle that can turn from car to aircraft in 15 seconds
It is the ultimate off-roader and it is coming to an airstrip near you. The Terrafugia Transition is a two-seater plane that at the touch of a button converts into a road-legal car. It takes its maiden flight next month and is scheduled to hit the showrooms by next year. “It’s like a little Transformer,” says Carl Dietrich, the Terrafugia boss, proudly. “This is the first really integrated design where the wings fold up automatically and all the parts are in one vehicle. All we have is one simple folding wing, and that means the Transition takes just 15 seconds to switch between flying and driving.”
The Terrafugia Transition is a light sport airplane with four wheels and foldable wings that span 27.5ft when extended. It can soar up through the skies just like a regular aircraft then land on the ground, fold up its two wings and drive down the road at highway speeds. Measuring 19 feet long, it has an airborne range of 460 miles and can cruise at 115mph. According to early reports, the plane uses unleaded gasoline - no rocket fuels necessary. It runs via the 100 horsepower four-stroke Rotax 912S engine. read more »
China becomes world's third-largest economy with 13% '07 GDP growth, surpassing Germany & closing rapidly on Japan
China has become the world's third-largest economy, surpassing Germany and closing rapidly on Japan, according to government and World Bank figures. The Chinese government revised its growth figures for 2007 from 11.9 percent to 13 percent this week, bringing its estimated gross domestic product to $3.4 trillion -- about 3 percent larger than Germany's $3.3 trillion for the same year, based on World Bank estimates. Beijing is expected to release its 2008 GDP figures next week.
Although the world's top economies, the United States and Japan, are in recession, the most pessimistic estimates for China's growth in upcoming years runs about 5 percent. That could allow China's GDP to overtake Japan's, currently $4.3 trillion, within a few years. The U.S. economy, the world's largest, was about $13.8 trillion in 2007.
As the art world waited breathlessly for word on whether the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles would survive or go bust, a white knight, the billionaire art collector Eli Broad, rode to the rescue with a $30 million bailout plan. Some people cheered; others sneered. Few thought to point out that more venerable and vulnerable institutions across the U.S. are also struggling, but with no bailouts in sight.
Major art museums in Detroit, Newark and Brooklyn are prime examples. Forged a century ago or more from idealism and dollars, they are American classics, monuments to Yankee can-do. As latecomers to the culture game, American museums had to buy art fast and big, and they did. But times and fortunes - we all know the story - changed. Depression, recession and politics brought powerful cities to their knees. Populations shifted.
Around the world in 1460 days: Mike Horn navigates sustainable sailboat Pangaea on 4-year 7-continent eco-voyage
For South African-born explorer Mike Horn, 42, navigating in sub-zero temperatures requires basic tools: chocolate for energy and mucus for wind-block. Horn has circumnavigated the Arctic Circle solo, circled the globe along the equator without motorized transport and completed the first-ever night expedition to the North Pole, without dogs and frequently swimming along the way.
Back in 2002, Horn's expedition around the Arctic Circle involved skiing, sailing, kayaking and trekking in temperatures as low as -76 F (-60 C). This year, Horn embarks on his most ambitious expedition to date - Pangaea. read more »
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