Technology

Computer. Image: Everaldo Coelho and YellowIcon
Lighter News Technology

UK Insurance Company Has An Email Accident

Lots of companies use email to communicate with their employees.

Most companies create email “distribution lists.” A distribution list is a group email, that lets a company send a message to many employees at once, with just one email.

Aviva is an insurance company in the United Kingdom.

Recently, someone in the company sent an email to one of Aviva’s employees who was being let go, or fired. The email gave instructions to the employee about what they needed to do, now that he’d been fired.

However, the email was accidentally sent to everyone in the company.

Aviva has 1,300 employees around the world.

That means that 1,300 people who work at Aviva were all sent an email that implied they had been fired.

Everyone.

But it wasn’t true.

A technical illustration of the space station. Image: NASA
News Science Technology

Students’ Experiments To Be Conducted In Space

Three students have won the chance to have science experiments they created carried out by astronauts in space.

The students won an international competition called the YouTube Space Lab Contest. Last October, students around the world aged 14 to 18 were invited to come up with ideas for experiments that could be performed on the International Space Station.

The space station is a satellite that orbits the Earth. It includes a research laboratory where astronauts from the United States, Russia, Japan, Europe and Canada conduct experiments. Because there is no gravity on the space station, they are able to do experiments they could not do on Earth.

For the contest, students had to make a video explaining their hypothesis – the idea they wanted to test – and the method for doing the experiment. Then they posted the videos on YouTube.

Winners were chosen by people voting on YouTube, and by a panel of judges that included scientists, teachers, astronauts and journalists.

A F-35 Fighter Jet. Image: Bill Thorton
News Politics Technology

How Much Did Fighter Jets Really Cost?

In 2010, new F-35 Fighter Jets were ordered by Canada’s Defence Department (the department that oversees the country’s military).The new jets were supposed to cost around $15-billion.

Now, however, the Auditor General of Canada has said that the 65 planes will actually cost $25-billion, $10-billion more than expected. The Auditor General’s office watches over Government spending.

NDP and Liberal MPs (Members of Parliament) have accused the Defence Department (part of the Conservative government in power) of “hiding” the extra $10-billion in their financial reports when the 2011 election was coming up. Some are saying that the Conservatives wanted to keep it secret so people wouldn’t see the real costs and not vote for them.

Now that it is in the open, some MPs have demanded that Canada’s Defence Minister, Peter MacKay, step down from his job.

The Defence Department has explained their position saying that their original estimate did not include many costs such as operations (day-to-day expenses), people to run the project, or a “contingency fund” (in this case, this refers to money set aside for unknown problems in the project). Some of that money was already recorded in other budgets.

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan in front of the Lockheed Electra, 1937. Public domain image..
News Technology

New Information In Amelia Earhart Mystery

An old photograph may solve the mystery of what happened to Amelia Earhart, the famous pilot who disappeared on a round-the-world flight 75 years ago.

Earhart was the first woman to fly alone across North America and back, and the first woman to fly alone across the Atlantic Ocean without stopping.

In 1937, she and a navigator, Fred Noonan, set out to fly around the world. They had travelled more than two-thirds of the way when their plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. Ships and airplanes searched the area, but they were unable to find any trace of the plane or its crew.

What happened to them has remained a mystery. One theory is that the plane ran out of fuel and was forced to land on a tiny island called Nikumaroro, about halfway between Australia and Hawaii.

An organization called The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR; pronounced “tiger”) has been searching for Earhart’s plane. The group has an old photograph of Nikumaroro that was taken about three months after the plane disappeared.

Recently, they used new technology to make the picture clearer. Now they believe that a dark shape in the picture, sticking up out of the water, may be part of Earhart’s plane.

The gnome in Japan
News Science Technology

Nomadic Gnome Puts Gravity To The Test

A plastic garden gnome is travelling around the world to help demonstrate how the pull of gravity changes in different locations.

Gravity is the force that attracts a person or an object to the centre of the Earth. It keeps us on the ground, and it also determines how much we weigh.

Gravity may be slightly stronger or weaker depending on where you are, which means things weigh different amounts in different places on Earth.

The difference is so small – 0.5 per cent or less – that most people using ordinary scales wouldn’t even notice it.

For example, if you weigh 40 kilograms, the difference would be no more than 200 grams higher or lower, depending on where you were.

But even such a small difference would matter to scientists who need to be very accurate when measuring amounts of chemicals for an experiment or comparing weights of different objects.

A reconstruction of what Ötzi might have looked like. The reconstruction is by Kennis © South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, Photo Ochsenreiter
News Science Technology

DNA Reveals Clues About “Ötzi The Iceman”

Scientists studying a 5,000-year-old mummy have learned that the man had brown eyes and hair and that he couldn’t digest milk. They also think he may have relatives alive today.

The mummy is nicknamed “Ötzi the Iceman.” He was discovered in 1991 by two people hiking in the Alps in Italy.

By examining the body, scientists found that Ötzi (pronounced “`oetsi”) died from an arrow wound about 5,300 years ago. His body was preserved by ice and snow.

They discovered that he about 45 years old when he died, 1.6 metres tall and weighed 50 kilograms. He wore a goatskin coat, had shoes made from grass and deerskin, and he carried a bow, an arrow and some tools.

Recently scientists have learned even more about the Iceman, by studying his DNA. DNA is a collection of molecules that contains information about the characteristics of an individual plant or animal. This information is stored in the cells that make up each individual.

A boy practices his facial expressions using FaceMaze. Image courtesy of FaceMaze.
Kids News Technology

New Video Game Helps Kids With Autism

An amazing new “video game” is helping kids with autism show their emotions in their facial expressions.

Autism affects the brain’s development of social and communication skills.

People with autism typically have difficulty recognizing facial expressions and emotions.

The new video game, called FaceMaze, was developed to help kids with autism recognize what certain emotions look like, and what they mean—for instance, smiling, frowning or looking sad.

The video game looks and plays a lot like Pac-Man, a popular video game from the 1980s.

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Breaking News News Technology

Do You Want to Buy A Piece Of Facebook?

Facebook is the most popular “social networking” website in the world and it may be for sale soon. Or at least part of it.

A “social networking” website is one that lets people meet and chat with each other—not face-to-face, but over the Internet. Facebook and Twitter are two popular social networking websites.

Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook with some university friends in 2004. Recently, he decided to “go public” with Facebook. In this case, that means people he doesn’t even know will be allowed to buy a share (part) of the company.

Right now, Facebook is privately owned by some individuals and companies. Zuckerberg himself owns 24 per cent or almost one-quarter of Facebook–the largest portion.

When a company “goes public,” it is given a value (for instance, Facebook is said to be worth $100-billion) and that value is divided into “shares.” Those shares, which each represent a tiny piece of the value of the company, are then offered for sale.

Two Canadian high school students, Mathew Ho and Asad Muhammad, send a Legonaut into space. Image: screen capture from their time-lapsed YouTube video.
News Science Technology

Toronto Teens Send Legonaut Into (Near-) Space

Two teenagers in Toronto, Ont. have taken a giant leap – for themselves, and for one little Lego man.

The teens launched a Lego figure into near-space.

They hooked a helium weather balloon, a home-sewn nylon parachute and four cameras to the figure. And then they went out to a soccer field and let their contraption go.

The cameras were set to take pictures every 20 seconds.

When their figure came back to Earth, they looked at the pictures the cameras had taken.

They were shocked to see their little Lego figure, clutching his Canadian flag, with a picture of the curved horizon of the Earth in the background.

Google Offers Holiday Easter Eggs
Lighter Technology

Google Offers Holiday Easter Eggs

If you type the words “let it snow” (without the quotation marks) into the search engine Google.com or Google.ca*, you probably won’t be surprised when Google gives you back a list of links to the classic Christmas song.

What might surprise you, however, is that it will also start snowing on your computer screen!

Eventually, so much “snow” will fall that your screen will fog up. But don’t worry, you can click on Google’s “defrost” button to clear it again. You can also use your mouse to “wipe” the screen clean.