Just in time for Guinness World Records Day Thursday, a church steeple in Suurhusen, Germany, has been declared the most tilted tower in the world, toppling the record of the world-famous Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Guinness World Records found that the 13th-century church's 15th-century steeple tilts an astonishing 5.07 degrees, while Italy's circa-1372 defending champ in Pisa only tilts 3.97 degrees. Nevertheless, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is still taller. At 185 feet (56 meters) tall, it towers over the 84-foot (26-meter) German steeple, which rests on a wooden foundation and sodden soil. And with its ornate columns, arches, and cornices, Pisa's leaning tower is nicer to look at.
Check out the video here:
Google Earth is a cool tool that's fun to play around with. Now you can also use it for something more serious—monitoring countries' progress toward achieving the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals, eight objectives to be reached by 2015 that form the blueprint of a mighty effort to make poverty history.
Launch Google Earth (download it first if you don't already have it) from the MDG Monitor Web site and you'll be able to click on capital cities all around the world to monitor their corresponding countries' progress toward achieving the MDGs. For example, you can learn that due to improvements in health and education, Madagascar brought its poverty rate down from 85.1 percent in 2003 to 67.5 percent in 2006. (The goal is to reduce the percentage of Madagascarians living on less than $2 a day to 50 percent by 2012.) There are also links to complete country profiles, such as this one for Madagascar.
Not to be outdone, the World Bank has put a bunch of its own data and links to its projects around the world into a Google Maps mashup. It's not quite as flashy, but you don't need to download any special software to view it. Is this the beginning of a map war between the World Bank and the U.N.?
(Hat tip: Mark Leon Goldberg)
NASA is seeking astronaut candidates to staff up the International Space Station and to carry out future missions to the moon (and beyond). Here are some highlights from the want ad posted on USAJobs.com:
Today, Sept. 18, is the 25th anniversary of the smiley-face emoticon. At 11:44 a.m. on this day in 1982, Scott E. Fahlman, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, first typed the smiley-face emoticon, :-), on an online bulletin board as part of a discussion about how to signal that an online comment is being made in jest.
The historic phrase, located after a "heroic effort" of digging through ancient backup tapes, reads as follows:
I propose the following character sequence for joke markers:
Read it sideways.
A reproduction of the original bulletin board thread that gave rise to the emoticon is available here. (The discussion reveals that "&" and "#" were also proposed joke markers. The character "&" supposedly looks like a "jolly fat man in convulsions of laughter," and "#" supposedly resembles "two lips with teeth showing between them.")
Fahlman writes on his Web page about :-): "I've never seen any hard evidence that the :-) sequence was in use before my original post, and I've never run into anyone who actually claims to have invented it before I did."
Fahlman seems to have cemented his place in history as the creator of the smiley-face emoticon, which has spawned the creation of other emoticons and given Internet users worldwide the ability to express what in verbal communication is normally conveyed through tone of voice. In doing so, he has probably helped millions of people avoid all sorts of misunderstandings and hurt feelings. And that should make everyone feel :-).
Janus, the Geneva Museum of Natural History's two-headed Greek tortoise, eats salad as it is presented to the press and the public during the official celebration of its 10th birthday, September 5, 2007, at the Natural History Museum in Geneva. Janus, named after the two-headed Roman god, was born September 3, 1997. (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Want to get the jump on the next Bush administration resignation? Follow the nascent political prediction markets, where insider trading ain't no crime. This just arrived in my in box from InTrade, one of the leading markets:
Within minutes of TV reports of the resignation the price of a single contract on Gonzales resigning had soared to 99.5, representing a probability of 99.5% that he would be gone by the end of September.
Less predictable was the movement in this market early on Sunday, more than 24 hours before the resignation was officially made public. On Sunday the price of a contract for Gonzales to resign by the end of September rallied from 10.0 to 29.0. The contract for a resignation by end of December rallied from 26.0 to 40.0.
Washington Whispers broke the Gonzales rumor at 12:06 p.m. on Sunday, the day Gonzales met Bush and resigned in person, so it's likely that people were just making a bet based on that story. After the Winograd Commission condemned Israeli PM Ehud Olmert in late April for his conduct of the war with Hezbollah, InTrade's Olmert resignation contracts spiked. Today they are at rock bottom. Still, this, from the same newsletter, is intriguing:
A similar market for Donald Rumsfeld to resign as Secretary of Defence also saw sudden upward movement in the hours before the news became public. The market on Saddam Hussein being captured also rallied just before he was found hiding in his bunker.
The city of Suzhou has long been known as the Venice of China because of its many canals, but its title is now being taken away by a "real" Venice of China—that is, the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel. The 10.5 million square foot complex, the largest building in China (and the second largest in the world, behind the Boeing plant outside Seattle), cost $2.4 billion to build. The casino-resort is the epitome of Macao's efforts to rebrand itself as a prime destination for millions of Asian tourists who want to spend a weekend gambling or catching a show in the southern Chinese city. Last year, Macao surpassed Las Vegas in gambling revenues, aided by casinos such as the Wynn and the Sands.
Now, with the opening of the Venetian Macao, American billionaire Sheldon Adelson is aiming to boost the cachet of the Cotai Strip to make it something akin to the Las Vegas strip. "Today is the beginning of what has been a dream of mine for some time to reproduce the capital of entertainment in Asia for Asians," he said at today's opening, which was packed with thousands of eager would-be gamblers.
Remember our blog post about those 1,500 prisoners in the Philippines who were jamming out to Michael Jackson's "Thriller"? Well, ABC News went behind the scenes and visited the Cebu province prison to find out how it all got made.
They talk to warden Byron Garcia, who conceived of the routines for prison yard exercise and YouTube fame (and whose sister happens to be the local governor). Are the prisoners actually enjoying themselves? According to a journalist interviewed by ABC who has visited the prison, the enforced dancing may actually be a violation of their human rights. He says:
I think Byron sees his prisoners as his dancing monkeys.
Garcia, however, thinks everything is copacetic:
We have a good relationship. Whatever I tell them to do, they do.
Check out the ABC News video here:
Guests will get to enjoy "space sports," "surreal sleeping arrangements," and—you guessed it—stargazing. They will see the sun rise 15 times a day as they travel around the world in 80 minutes. To move about in zero gravity, they will wear Velcro suits that let them stick to the walls of their pod rooms. To take a shower, they will go to a spa room with floating bubbles of water. (Accommodating other bathroom activities, however, is still proving to be a challenge.)
The three-bedroom hotel is already taking reservations (seriously, just check out the Web site) at $4 million for a three-day stay and eight-week training at a James Bond-style space camp on a tropical island. It's a steal of a deal considering that Virgin Galactic is charging $200,000 for a mere seven minutes in space.
Of course, those with even more money can shoot for the moon. Space Adventures, a space tourism company, will be charging $100 million to take people around the moon as early as 2009. (Lunar tourists won't actually land on the moon; they'll just get incredible views.)
Unfortunately, the nascent space tourism industry will remain out of the reach of most of us Earthlings until prices come more down to Earth. But it's still pretty cool.
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 11: Technicians abseil down the clock face of Big Ben as they begin maintenance and cleaning work to the Westminster clock on August 11, 2007 in London, England. The maintenance, which is carried out every five years, includes the replacement of the bearings that sound the chimes on the hour and every quarter of an hour. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
It's easy to see globalization at work in the Philippines, as long as you just add a couple decades and throw in 1,000 orange jumpsuits. Nearly 24 years after the premier of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video, prisoners in the central Philippine province of Cebu groove out during their morning exercises by re-enacting the zombie dance moves that became so famous on MTV.
The jailbirds also perform to Queen's "Radio Ga Ga" and don nuns' habits when dancing to "Hail Holy Queen" from the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg movie "Sister Act." Warden Byron Garcia introduced the choreography to the prisoners last year, but only uploaded the videos recently. They've been tearing up cyberspace ever since.
I want the prison system to learn from this," Garcia told Reuters. "The inmates are after all human beings and the inmates after all, once inside, know that they have committed mistakes, let them enjoy their stay."
Using an array of sensitive, sophisticated techniques, scientists have discovered that our rotund planet Earth is a bit smaller than previously thought: a whole 0.1 inches (2.5 mm) smaller from surface to center on average.
Some of the other updated measurements the scientists made after two years of measuring include:
So what? Well, the more accurate measurements give scientists a better baseline against which to measure and track environmental changes such as melting ice caps and evaporation from the Amazon Basin. If the sea level is rising somewhere, it's important to know whether that change is due to a sinking continent, or due to, say, global warming. Regardless of the important implications of the new measurements, we at least now know for sure that it's a smaller world after all.
Anyone who has traveled to the Middle Kingdom would agree that the country's public restroom facilities leave a lot to be desired. Well, in Chongqing, a city of 31 million people in south-central China, they've had enough. Not content with the rudimentary squat units found everywhere in China, the city has pursued some innovative ideas that are meant to make the experience not just easier, but a little more fun.
First came round, open air urinals on the city's infamous "Foreigners Street," featuring tiny waist screens that left little to the imaginations of passers-by.
Then came news of outdoor sinks, pictured at right, that made the hand-washing experience, um, different.
Now comes news that the city has opened the world's largest restroom. The four-story, 1,000-stall facility features TVs, a soothing soundtrack piped throughout, crocodile- and Virgin Mary-themed urinals, and stalls with no roofs for those who prefer to relieve themselves al fresco. Says a local government official:
We are spreading toilet culture.... After they use the bathroom [people] will be very, very happy."
You can't argue with that.
UPDATE: More images below (via China Photos/Getty Images).
I'm proud to note that my home state, Pennsylvania, invites no embarrassing comparisons. Some caveats on the data: Russia, with a GDP of $733 billion in 2006, is best compared not to New Jersey, which has a gross state product of about $453 billion, but to Florida at $716 billion. And tiny Washington, DC, at $88 billion, puts out about $10 billion less than the entire country of New Zealand, whose GDP is more comparable to that of Utah. And actually, Iran's annual GDP is nearly $34 billion larger than Alabama's. Still, it's an interesting way to look at the world.
For a more traditional (and more accurate) way of slicing the data, take a look at this color-coded map from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis:
British entrepreneur Nick Denton is best known as the founder of Gawker.com, a Manhattan media-watching site that's become one of the most popular blogs on the Internet. But his Gawker Media empire has other sites too, including Wonkette for Washington gossip, Gizmodo for news about the latest tech gadgets, and Deadspin for sports fans.
Another Denton venture, Gridskipper, is for travel enthusiasts. The blog is aimed primarily at urban twentysomethings who take (or at least want to take) globalization literally on a personal level, jetting off to find the best tapas in Sydney or the coolest design galleries in Paris.
Until now, the website has just offered travel tips and addresses for hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops. Now Gridskipper has added a mapping feature to six cities on its site: Berlin, Los Angeles, New York, Paris San Francisco, and Sydney. So the next time you decide you really need to buy a skull sweater at Lala Berlin when you're in Germany, Gridskipper will show you exactly where to find it.
The editors of The Morning News, a popular and beautifully designed online magazine based in Brooklyn that's been in business since 1999, just named Passport its "Favorite Foreign Affairs Grocery Bag" of 2007. Quoth TMN's editors:
Linking and explaining global stories big and small, Passport transmits a populist bent, but also satisfies specific joneses with links to whitepapers, obscure studies, and corruption scandals we’d otherwise miss.
I think we may have our new mission statement. Thanks to Rosecrans Baldwin, Andrew Womack, and the crew at TMN for this great honor. And be sure to check out the other awardees—a veritable Who's Who of the Internets.
Many of you may have read the joke memo that former IMF Economic Counsellor Kenneth Rogoff penned in the guise of outgoing World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz warning Bank staffers against insider trading on Wolfowitz resignation contracts on InTrade, one of a number of websites that allow you to essentially make bets on the outcomes of political events.
Funny stuff. Yet very serious, smart people—including Nobel Prize winner and FP contributor Daniel Kahneman—believe that prediction markets similar to InTrade and competitor News Futures "could substantially improve decision making in the private and public sectors," and are pushing for the United States to make them legal (the famous Iowa Electronic Markets are a special case). One intriguing aspect of these markets is that, at least for the moment, insider trading is perfectly legal. Some economists argue that these types of markets function at their best only when they reflect all available information, insider and not.
It strikes me that Hamas, which is struggling to overcome an international boycott and finance its government, may be missing an opportunity here. InTrade has several contracts related to the likelihood of Hamas recognizing Israel. As you can see, the market is heavily discounting the possibility, whether it be by the end of June, September, or December of this year:
Hamas Accepts Israels Right to Exist ON or BEFORE 30 Jun07
Hamas Accepts Israels Right to Exist ON or BEFORE 30 Sep07
Hamas Accepts Israels Right to Exist ON or BEFORE 31 Dec07
If Hamas accepts Israel's right to exist by the end of June, these contracts suddenly become worth 100. If not, they become worthless. Until that time, the price fluctuates based on the odds the market places on the outcome. Below is a graph showing the December 07 contract price over time:
In theory, a quiet, dispersed buy of these very cheap contracts coupled with a well-timed leak could be a quick way to get some cash into the Palestinian Authority's bare coffers. And Hamas wouldn't even have to recognize Israel: Just whisper in the ear of a New York Times reporter that a deal is in the works, sell when the price spikes, and then deny the story.
Then again, it probably won't be long until somebody finds out what was going on. And at these small volumes, other market players will certainly notice if there is a significant buy, and suspect that something is going to happen. That doesn't mean Hamas insiders couldn't make some money, but there's a natural limit to how much the system can be gamed. At the end of the day, the smarter play would be to recognize Israel, renounce terrorism, and reap a financial aid windfall. But I'm betting that won't happen anytime soon.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia – One of the world's largest and least studied freshwater turtles has been found in Cambodia's Mekong River, raising hopes that the threatened species can be saved from extinction.
Scientists from Conservation International (CI), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Cambodian Fisheries Administration, and the Cambodian Turtle Conservation Team captured and released an 11-kilogram (24.2-pound) female Cantor's giant softshell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii) during a survey in March.
Thanks to the nice people at Conservation International for allowing us to use this very cool photograph.
You've heard of the $100 laptop. Meet the $30 stove/refrigerator/generator combo.
Scientists from a consortium of UK universities have come up with a novel solution for food storage and preparation in developing countries. Using thermoacoustic technology, the team of scientists is developing a device that acts as a refrigerator, cooker, and power generator at the same time, and is powered by biomass fuels such as wood that are locally available. Led by Paul Riley at the University of Nottingham, the SCORE (Stove for Cooking, Refrigeration and Electricity) project has been granted $4 million to develop the device.
So how exactly does it work? Riley explains:
[B]urning wood heats a gas-filled pipe at one end. The gas moves from the hot part, where it expands, to the cold part, where it contracts. The pipe then resonates rather like an organ pipe."
The acoustic pressure waves this creates are then harnessed to produce electricity, so SCORE doesn't need an external electricity source.
For the two billion people in the world who still use open fires as their primary cooking method, this is potentially great news. And considering that 93 percent of the energy generated by these fires is wasted, and the smoke can lead to serious health problems, the device also provides environmental and health benefits. Riley hopes that the stove will be commercially available within four years, adding, "We are hoping to build a million a year after year five - that's the aspiration - and the price target we've set ourselves is between 15 and 20 pounds ($30-40) per unit." He also hopes that ultimately the technology will be accessible enough for the devices to be produced cheaply by local populations.
There was a time in America when riding a motorcycle meant you generally lived on the fringe of decent, legal society. For the most part, those days are gone. Today, motorcycling is mostly a yuppie activity, embraced by guys like professional golfer Davis Love III, whose chief sponsor is Ralph Loren's Polo.
Not so, however, Down Under. In Australia, outlaw biker culture is thriving. A 2006 report by the Australian Crime Commission estimated that there are 35 outlaw motorcycle gangs currently in Australia, with 3,500 members, or "bikies" as the Aussies call them. And their numbers are growing. Ten gangs opened 26 new chapters last year.
In March, one gang known as the Commancheros fired shots into a club called Mr. Goodbar in a hip suburb of Sydney. Their target was the president of a rival club. Last month, the clubhouse of another Sydney gang known as the Nomads was firebombed in a suspected attack by the Commancheros.
Why should FP readers care? Because, interestingly, Australian police blame globalization and immigration for the rise in biker gang violence. According to Reuters, Australian police superintendent Scott Whyte said that:
Australia's multi-cultural population meant the traditional Anglo-Saxon make-up of biker gangs was changing and different ethnic groups were starting to take over and bring a more violent attitude to the gangs."
Australian police are vowing to crackdown on bikies in showdowns reminiscent of 1960s California. Where is Hunter Thompson when we need him?
(Hat tip: Erin Baker)
Turn it into a luxury leisure complex, equipped with a hotel, shops and a spa.
At least that's what Nikolai Temerev, the general director of a company that purchased a 1950s nuclear blast-proof bunker in the heart of Moscow last year, plans to do. The Tagansky bunker was built under Stalin and was used to house the communications headquarters of the Soviet leadership and top military officials. With stores of food and medicine, as many as 3,000 people could live and work in the underground network for 90 days without assistance from the "outside world" thanks to its air recycling system and diesel generators.
Temerev's got a powerful ally in Yury Luzhkov, Moscow's mayor. Luzhkov wants to develop as much as a quarter of underground Moscow over the next ten years, up from the 8 percent that is currently being used. Temerev explains why:
There are big problems in this city—transport problems, communications problems. And these need to be resolved .... Either we can build upwards—like, say, in Japan, where they have all these overpasses. But that would mean covering the landscape with triple-level roads. The other option is to build underground. And in that way you don't change the face of Moscow, which is of historical importance to the city and to the Russian people."
And of course, who wants to be disturbed by a nuclear explosion when they're having a facial?
Google Earth is fast becoming a tool of choice for looking at big problems like genocide in Darfur. The latest innovative use of the 3-D mapping software? Tracking bird flu.
Researchers led by Daniel Janies, an assistant professor of biomedical informatics at Ohio State University, used Google Earth to create a color-coded "evolutionary tree" of the avian flu virus (H5N1) over a 10-year time period. They published their findings in the latest issue of Systemic Biology, a bimonthly journal. By showing the data in new ways, the mapping tool could help other researchers and public health officials develop better strategies to fight the virus. (If you've seen the latest episodes of the television show Heroes, it looks somewhat like Hiro Nakamura's map of the past. But in this case, the map's colors refer to different types of hosts for the H5N1 virus.)
Did you think Nicholas Negroponte’s $100 laptop stretched the limits of economic practicality? Then you might have hard time wrapping your head around this one: The government of India wants to produce a $10 laptop. The amazing part is that they are, apparently, on their way to achieving that goal despite some early skepticism.
Including labor, the current cost of producing one of these laptops is only $47, but the Times of India reports that the government expects costs to come down due to the massive potential demand from a billion Indians.
The Indian government is keeping the technical details of their laptop a secret, so the chances of the project succeeding are still unknown. India is not exactly known for its technical manufacturing prowess. But even a viable $50 Indian laptop could pose a serious challenge to Negroponte's machine, the costs of which have already ballooned to $175 per unit. It's unclear, though, whether the Indian government would make the technology available beyond its domestic market.
Andy Richter sure gets around. Two weeks ago, Passport noted the late-night comedian's eerie resemblance to Swedish Defense Minister Mikael Odenberg. But Richter may have had a prior second job—as first president of the Russian Federation. Take a look at the video tribute to Yeltsin below, this week's Thursday Video:
Could Andy Richter have actually secretly ended the Cold War?
Pop psychologists and canine aficionados theorize that you can tell a lot about a person by the kind of dog they own. And there's a corollary to this theorem: that people with similar taste in dogs make great couples.
Now, it just got easier for dog owners to meet and, perhaps, to fall in love. The aptly-named SNIF Labs—Social Networking in Fur, that is—is finally set to begin beta-testing a hotly anticipated new product that turns dogs into walking personal ads.
When two dogs wearing [SNIF's special radio-enabled] tags come within range of each other, the tags start to swap dog and even owner information. Once owners are back home and using the company's social-networking service, they can trade information about their dogs and themselves online.
"Social networking" is the concept that powers smash website successes like MySpace and Facebook. (There's even one called Dogster.) But this new tool strikes me as having a far greater potential for abuse if it isn't implemented very carefully. The company says it has enacted numerous technological safeguards in order to allay privacy fears, such as that SNIF tags would enable stalkers or identity thieves. But, of course, it won't be long before unscrupulous spammers figure out a way to exploit this new technology for their own ends. It'll be interesting to see how they do it.
Currently smarting from their country's political implosion, the last thing Ukrainian partisans need is an entry in the Eurovision Song Contest that promises national humiliation in a form that only a drag queen named Verka Serduchka can deliver. And yet, that is precisely what they are getting:
Angry Ukrainian nationalists held demonstrations across the country Sunday, demanding that Ukraine pull out of Eurovision this year. [They] are furious about their country's entry for this year's Eurovision song contest, a drag queen who some feel denigrates their national character. Protestors have taken to the streets to demand the motherland withdraw from the contest."
Surprisingly, their objection to Ukraine's overwhelming vote in favor of Ms. Serduchka has less to do with the gender-bending and more to do with Serduchka's particular schtick:
Their beef with Serduchka, whose real name is Andei Danilko, is that she represents a stereotype of a stupid Ukrainian villager and her performance will damage Ukraine's reputation abroad."
In the end, though, the Ukrainian right may be able to find comfort in an odd place: The Russians are just as outraged! Why? Because the chorus to "Dancing," Ms. Serduchka's nominated song—which you can watch here—commands Ukraine to sing "Russia goodbye!"
An extraordinary effort to circumnavigate the globe by boat in record time has run into tragedy. The crew of Earthrace, a Kiwi group of seamen, engineers, and supporters, set out in early March from Barbados in a their futuristic craft, the Turbo. The boat runs entirely on biodiesel, contains almost no metal in its hull, and is designed to slice through, rather than ride over, giant ocean waves. Nine days into the voyage, the Turbo accidentally sliced through an unlit fishing boat off the coast of Guatemala. Captain Pete Bethune's relates the scene in his "Captain's Blog":
Suddenly we are all awoken by a deafening series of crashes. I know instantly we’ve collided with something, and run out to see what’s happened. Anthony is already in the cockpit area. What lies behind is like a scene from a horror movie. We’ve driven right over the top of a 26ft fibreglass fishing skiff, and its tattered remains lie scattered around us. We can hear moans and yelling in the water.
Despite the crew's best efforts, one fisherman lost his life. After more than a week of detention by the Guatemalan Navy, acquittal of any wrongdoing by the local courts, and an emotional meeting and coming-to-terms with the survivors and the family of the deceased, the crew is back on the open sea.
Tragedy aside, the voyage so far has been a modern account of derring-do afloat, a modern-day version of a good sailor's yarn. Captain Bethune and the ground crew each keep fascinating blogs detailing their struggles with technology, nature, and various national bureaucracies in pursuit of the record. GPS technology even makes it possible to track the boat's progression in real time. Earthrace is 3500 nautical miles behind the record-setting, 75-day pace now, but still looks likely to complete the voyage and demonstrate the potential for more powerful, efficient, and environmentally friendly technologies. They definitely bear watching over the next two months.
(Hat tips: Popular Science Blog)
Over the weekend, a video game system became the heart of the most powerful supercomputer on earth. As I write this, Playstation 3 game consoles all over the world are working together to power through 493 trillion calculations per second in a group effort to find cures for Alzheimer's, Huntington's Disease, Mad Cow Disease, and several forms of cancer. To put that into perspective, IBM’s Blue Gene, considered to be the fastest unclassified supercomputer, reportedly maxes out at 367 trillion calculations per second. And the Playstation 3 cluster is still growing.
The game consoles' owners have volunteered to run a special software package developed at Stanford by a group called Folding@home. Their task is to simulate protein folding, the process whereby the human body produces new proteins. Alzheimer's and other diseases appear when human proteins become malformed. Exactly how normal protein production goes bad and eventually leads to these diseases is unknown, because the processes are extremely complicated, and they happen in milliseconds.
So scientists have begun simulating these complex processes via software—but it's no light-weight task. Most protein folding requires banks of powerful computers and days, if not months, of processing time to simulate just a few seconds of biological reaction. The "distributed computing" approach to tackling big problems isn't new. Several other projects are working to cure AIDS, study global warming, and even scan the cosmos for extraterrestrial life by dishing their software out over huge networks of computers. But Folding@home is the first to tap the power of the Playstation 3, which, it turns out, is a computational powerhouse.
Stocked with seven processors, all tuned to perform heavy number crunching, the Playstation 3 puts the average single-processor PC to shame. (All that computing power is also using quite a bit of energy, but that's another story.)
The Playstation 3's formidable numbers are surely being noticed by the other distributed computing projects, so pretty soon video game consoles could also be predicting the weather, simulating nuclear explosions, or unlocking the origins of the universe. To follow the progress of the Folding@home project, be sure to check in on the regular updates published on their website.
Watch a video of the Playstation 3 Folding@home software at work:
Passport, FP’s flagship blog, brings you news and hidden angles on the biggest stories of the day, as well as insights and under-the-radar gems from around the world.