The number 7 spot on our list of the worst predictions for 2008 belongs to Dr. Walter Wagner, a leading proponent of the theory that the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland could destroy the entire planet. Several readers have written in to point out that the LHC actually broke down in September before it was fully operational and the most "dangerous" partical collisions could occur. My friend Ben Regenspan of the Huffington Post's humor site 23/6, writes:
In fairness to the guy who warned about the Large Hadron Collider, when it was still turned on they never had a chance to do any of the interesting things that he thought could destroy the world. It broke after doing some boring warm-up tests. My prediction is the world ends when it comes back online in 2009.I still feel pretty confident about this one. But if the world does end, we promise to issue a correction and a full apology.
This was probably inevitable:
An Indian Court has been called to ban Google Earth amid suggestions the online satellite imaging was used to help plan the terror attacks that killed more than 170 people in Mumbai last month.
A petition entered at the Bombay High Court alleges that the Google Earth service, "aids terrorists in plotting attacks." Advocate Amit Karkhanis has urged the court to direct Google to blur images of sensitive areas in the country until the case is decided[...]Police in Mumbai have said the terrorists familiarised themselves with the streets of Mumbai's financial capital using satellite images, according to the sole gunman to be captured alive.
This isn't a new issue. The al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade also apparently used Google Earth to plan rocket attacks on Israel. But holding Google responsible for terrorists using its product makes about as much sense as blaming the Wright brothers for 9/11.
Just as the fact that terrorists take advantage of the laxer security regimes in democratic societies isn't a reason to unduly curb civil liberties, it would be a mistake to curtail the development of useful technologies because the bad guys have figured out how to use them too.
I don't mean to come across as some kind of libertarian tech-evangelist, and I think that some reasonable precautions--like not allowing Google to street-level map a military base--should be taken. But this is the price we pay for technological progress. As Tom Friedman might say, the world is flat for terrorists too.
It would also be a bit sketchy if India took any steps to restrict Google Earth at the same time they're developing a domestic competitor.
When we printed the FP list, Five Physics Lessons for Obama, we anticipated that Berkeley Professor Richard Muller's counterintuitive arguments about global warming and alternative energy would provoke some discussion out on the Internets. But interestingly, his thoughts on manned space flight seem to have generated the most controversy. Muller argues that "putting humans in space is not only very dangerous; it usually slows the advance of science." A good number of Reddit users seem to disagree.
Dr. Evan M. Zuesse of Melbourne, Australia also wrote in with a very spirited and lengthy rebuttal. Zuesse feels that following Muller's advice could lead to the demise of humanity itself. Here's an excerpt:
In the long term (by which I mean over the next thousand, ten thousand or hundred thousand years) what policies we put in place for climate change, financial stabilization, the defense against jihadi Islam and secular extremisms such as Communism or the new fascism of Russia and China, the nuclear weapons race, etc., etc., all pale into utter insignificance when compared to the existential importance for humanity of the space program. There quite simply is, aside from medical research and nanotechnology, no other initiative as essential to the survival and well-being of humanity as this.
At present we are going through a world-wide technology explosion that relies upon the availability of precious metals and rare elements. We are feverishly mining the earth for all kinds of minerals that we use for a year or two, and then trash. But these are not renewable resources. They are finite, and perhaps within the next century or two some of the less common of them will be used up. That means that hundreds of thousands of years into the future the human race will not have them available on earth. We could get to the point where even if we have the science for travel between the stars, we will not have the raw materials to do it with. We will be locked here on earth. But if other tendencies prevail, e.g., ruination of the environment, both by pollution and by erroneous "climate change" policies, a nuclear holocaust brought on by jihadi Islamic states, the spread of failed states, or other future unknown nightmares, we may well have ruined large portions of the earth or otherwise created hell-holes. Earth then will be our prison, condemning untold numbers of future generations to declining expectations and poor lives, from which there can be no escape, no second chance. Our present century might then be seen in future ages as the peak of human attainment and prosperity instead of a stage toward even better societies. And we now would be damned in future generations for having ruined the possibilities for all later generations.
It is therefore essential for the long-term future of humanity that we develop space facilities to mine Mars and the asteroid belts, and that we have a basis for further space exploration if earth itself becomes a mined-out and polluted planet.
Who would dare challenge Google, the superman of the Internet age?
India, that's who.
Fresh off the high of its recent lunar achievements, India is taking on the powerful Internet search company on a playing field a little closer to home: Google Earth.
The Indian Based Research Organization (ISRO) plans to launch its Web-based mapping system, Bhuvan (Sanskrit for Earth), by spring. The data comes from India's network of 50 satellites.
So, why does India think its program can compete? For starters, Bhuvan users will be able to zoom in on areas as small as 10 meters wide (Google's zoom limit is 200 meters). ISRO will replenish its high-resolution images each year, unlike Google, and its additional GPS component could lead to partnerships on navigation devices for cars.
While initially the program only covers India, if successful, Bhuvan will extend across the globe. ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair also hopes that the online software will lead to improvement India's notoriously bad offline hardware -- potholed road, clogged cities, and degraded environment. "This will not be a mere browser," he says. "but the mechanism for providing satellite images and thematic maps for developmental planning."
Here's why you should never bet against Japanese innovation.
At right, Japanese Health Minister Yoichi Masuzoe feeds himself with the assistance of "My Spoon" during a demonstration of healthcare robots in Tokyo on Nov. 10. People with disabilities can operate a joystick with their jaw, hands, or feet to direct My Spoon to their mouth.
Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images
After hundreds of millions of dollars and years of work, the first malaria vaccine is ready to test. Sixteen thousand children are set to be vaccinated in Burkina Faso, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania -- African countries where malaria is a serious problem.
Preliminary tests have shown that this particular vaccine -- one of several candidates funded partly through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation -- is 30 to 50 percent effective. Some worry those rates are too low to make a big impact.
But there is a strong case to make for any amount of effectiveness at all. Malaria, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, is no small matter in countries where the disease is prevalent. Many experts argue that the economic impact in endemic countries contributes greatly to underdevelopment -- taking workers out of the workplace and reducing childrens' attentiveness in school.
And although malaria is a treatable condition, the best medicines are sometimes too expensive for poor victims of the disease. There is also a problem of quality: A recent study found that medicines in six African countries are either diluted or inneffective. And since there are multiple, constantly adapting strains of the disease, resistance to drugs is common. Quinine and chloroquine, used to treat malaria throughout colonial times, now have virtually no impact on the disease.
So, even if it's not 100 percent effective, a vaccine is a dream for public-health experts struggling to keep up with the changing disease that kills more than a million people every year and leaves many more sick. Here's hoping it works.
Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images
The Russian SOYUZ TMA-13 rocket is moved to the launch pad of the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, on Oct. 10, 2008. U.S. space tourist Richard Garriott is set to blast off for the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz TMA-13 rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome with Michael Fink of the United States and Russia's Iouri Lonchakov on Oct. 12.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin's Latin American trip took an odd turn in Cuba earlier this week. After searching for ways that Moscow could help clean up the mess that Hurricanes Gustav and Ike left behind, the two countries had a more lofty goal to discuss: building a Cuban space center.
Yes, really. Though the details are unclear, Russia and its famed Cold War ally discussed the possibility of sharing technology to build Cuba's space program. Russia's Federal Space Agency issued a press release officially announcing the intent to collaborate this morning (sorry, it's in Russian).
Imagery of Cuba and Russia collaborating on anything that flies, of course, conjures up alarmingly unpleasant memories. Too bad the bargaining doesn't end there. After Havana, Sechin took off for Venezuela, where Russia is looking to close a deal to sell fighter jets and air defense systems to President Hugo Chávez after joint military exercises last week.
Just like the Cold War days, get used to Russia reaching for the stars.
There's a fascinating article in today's New York Times about India's controversial practice of using electronic brain scans for lie-detection in interrogation. Two Indian states have been using electroencephalograms (EEGs) to interrogate criminal suspects since 2006, but this summer was the first time a judge handed down a conviction based on the data. Here's how the procedure works:
This latest Indian attempt at getting past criminals’ defenses begins with an electroencephalogram, or EEG, in which electrodes are placed on the head to measure electrical waves. The suspect sits in silence, eyes shut. An investigator reads aloud details of the crime — as prosecutors see it — and the resulting brain images are processed using software built in Bangalore.
The software tries to detect whether, when the crime’s details are recited, the brain lights up in specific regions — the areas that, according to the technology’s inventors, show measurable changes when experiences are relived, their smells and sounds summoned back to consciousness. The inventors of the technology claim the system can distinguish between people’s memories of events they witnessed and between deeds they committed.
Based on this scan, a woman who claims to be innocent was convicted in June of poisoning her fiancé.
Neuroscientists have widely condemned this application of EEGs, which has not been sufficiently peer-reviewed to have gained wide acceptance. It's not too far-fetched, though, to see it as the future of criminal investigation. Officials from Singapore and Israel have expressed interest in the Indian program and similar procedures have been developed in the United States.
Before we condemn India for using such an unproven technology in murder trials, it's worth pointing out that U.S. law enforcement agencies still regularly administer polygraph tests even though the Supreme Court ruled them unreliable a decade ago. And of course, there's bullet lead analysis, which the FBI used for four decades before it was discredited.
Let's just be sure these new technologies really work this time around before we start putting them in front of juries.
If global warming, weapons of mass destruction, or an asteroid eliminate human life on Earth, all will not be lost. Stephen Colbert's DNA will be there to save the human species.
Next month, a digitized copy of Colbert's DNA will be sent to the International Space Station as part of "Operation Immortality," a project of video game designer Richard Garriott. In the event that humans cease to exist, aliens can use the DNA to resurrect Homo sapiens.
Colbert, the satirist who was the winning write-in candidate in FP's "World's Top Public Intellectuals" poll, says he is now even closer to his "lifelong dream" of being the floating fetus at the end of the 1968 science fiction movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Next Wednesday, scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland will switch on the $6 billion Large Hadron Collider, a 27-kilometer particle accelerator that will create physical conditions that haven't existed in the universe since the big bang. It all sounds totally awesome, unless you're one of the very few people who think that the LHC will create a black hole that will expand to consume the planet.
Opponents of the LHC have filed suits in Hawaii and the European Court of Human Rights seeking to prevent the historic experiment, but it's highly unlikely that the court will take action. Scientists involved in the project have also been receiving death threats.
According to a newly released report, naturally occuring cosmic rays regularly produce more powerful collisions than the LHC, so the fact that we're even alive to worry about this is a good sign. Cory Doctorow quotes one physicist saying, "Look, it's a 10^-19 chance, and you've got a 10^-11 chance of suddenly evaporating while shaving."
So we can be pretty confident that the end of the world is not coming next Wednesday. But just in case, it's been great blogging for you all.
(Hat tip: Chris Blattman)
If you've ever had a burning desire to have your voice projected through a megaphone in Norway, today is your last chance.
This summer, a group of artists erected a 23-foot-tall, wind-powered "telemegaphone" on top of a mountain in western Norway that overlooks the village of Dale and a scenic fjord. Dial 47 90 369389, and your voice will be projected through the telemegaphone and across the scenic Nordic landscape. Sing, yell, yodel, pontificate. Better yet, play a concerto.
Today's the last day, however. Tomorrow, Sept. 6, the telemegaphone is being turned off -- deer season is commencing.
Just about everyone in Pakistan has an opinion about what former President Pervez Musharraf's real legacy will be. To some, he's a leader who successfully stared down violent extremists and reformed the economy. To others, he's a common criminal who should be put on trial for enriching his friends in the military and for being the willing pawn of the CIA.
Given such division, is it any wonder a fight over Musharraf's legacy has broken out in Facebook? A host of group pages have sprung up to either show support or lambast the former president. Pakistan's Daily Times reports:
Some Facebook users say they appreciated his liberal economic policies and efforts against extremism. His fans include a number of young Pakistanis, many of them expatriates.
“Thank you Musharraf for all you have done for this nation and its people,” wrote Seema Ahmed from Los Angeles. Facebook fan Sherbano Ahmed said, “If we, as the silent majority, don’t speak up this time, then we have surrendered our decency and freedom to thieves.”
The idea that Western-style democracy is what Pakistan needs has also come under fire. “Fixing the system with American or UK systems will be mimickery at best and will produce thieves or even worse, third-rate actors,” said Shahedah Ahmed from London.
Their entries are found under headings like ‘The only hope - Musharraf’ and ‘Pakistan would be lost without Musharraf’. The anti-Musharraf groups were equally unsubtle - ‘Burn in hell Musharraf’ and ‘I hate Musharraf’.
And it appears that Pakistan's PML-Q party, which has been so closely aligned with Musharraf that its HQ could be mistaken for his pocket, is now being wooed heavily by both Asif Ali Zardari's PPP and Nawaz Sharif's PLM-N. Here's Nightwatch's analysis on this ironic turn of events:
The PML-Q was the political organization formed by the Chaudhry brothers of
Gujaratto represent the views of then General Musharraf in the National Assembly in the general elections of 2002. It was the biggest loser in last February’s general election.
One of the ironic and unintended outcomes from the collapse of the parliamentary coalition during the presidential election campaign is that a staunchly pro-Musharraf political party is the potential kingmaker in Pakistani politics.
"Corporate cartographers are demolishing thousands of years of history – not to mention Britain's remarkable geography – at a stroke by not including them on maps which millions of us now use every day," she said. "We're in real danger of losing what makes maps so unique; giving us a feel for a place even if we've never been there."
No disrespect to Spence but this is luddite nonsense. The Internet is about the best thing to happen to geography nerds since the sextant and anyone who's ever wasted hours flying around the world on Google Earth did so specifically to get a feel for a place they've never been.
As readers of this blog know from our weekly "Tuesday Map" feature, computer graphics and the interactivity of the Internet are allowing people to do new and fascinating things with maps every day. How could any development that lets cycling fans take a virtual Tour de France from their desks or allows activists to publicize a Tiananmen massacre map of Beijing possibly be negative? These posts are typically among our most popular so I'm not too worried about the public losing interest in cartography.
This is one aspect of modern life that I'm more than happy to see googlized.
What do you do when you're an international pariah dependent on foreign food aid to feed a starving population? Why, develop a "special noodle" that delays feelings of hunger, of course!
Choson Shinbo, a pro-Pyongyang Japanese newspaper, reports that Kim Jong Il's new noodles, which pack more protein and fat than normal noodles, will be available soon:
When you consume ordinary noodles (made from wheat or corn), you may soon feel your stomach empty. But this soybean noodle delays such a feeling of hunger," it said on its website.
While it's nice to see North Korean scientists working on something other than nuclear weapons, a "special noodle" alone isn't going to solve the country's food crisis. It is fitting that, instead of tackling the root causes of the food shortage, the country instead found a superficial means to delay hunger.
To delve further into the mind of North Korea's Dear Leader, check out
"The Secret History of Kim Jong Il" in FP's Sept./Oct. issue, as well as the accompanying photo essay: "Inside the World of Kim Jong Il." (The former requires a subscription and the latter is free.)
With the space shuttle set to retire in 2010, and its replacement not ready until 2015, the United States had been planning on hitchhiking to the International Space Station for a few years. That may be a bit of a problem now, as the one country with the ability to transport to and from the station turns out to be -- you guessed it -- Russia.
Beyond the rising rhetorical showdown between the two sides, there's also a legal roadblock that may prevent further space cooperation with Russia. The United States needs to negotiate a new contract with the Russian space program, which may be difficult because Congress must first pass a waiver to a 2000 law banning government contracts with states who supported nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran. That includes -- you guessed it -- Russia.
In an election year with an increasingly bellicose Moscow, that's "almost impossible," says Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a supporter of the waiver who admits America is stuck between a rock and a hard place:
It is a lose-lose situation," Nelson said.
"If our relationship with Russia is strained, who knows if Russia will give us rides in the future?" Nelson asked. "Or if they give us rides, will they charge such an exorbitant price that it becomes blackmail?"
Still, who knows what relations with Russia will be like in 2010? Even if the Cold War is truly back, that doesn't necessarily spell the end of U.S.-Soviet -- er, Russian -- space cooperation. A lot could change in the next few years.
The September cover of Esquire is going to be pretty cool. An electronic ink diplay, built on the same technology that E Ink used in the Amazon Kindle, will flash the words "the 21st Century Begins." The logistics of pulling of this feat are a story in globalization:
First Esquire had to make a six-figure investment to hire an engineer in China to develop a battery small enough to be inserted in the magazine cover. The batteries and the display case are manufactured and put together in China. They are shipped to Texas and on to Mexico, where the device is inserted by hand into each magazine. The issues will then be shipped via trucks, which will be refrigerated to preserve the batteries, to the magazine's distributor in Glazer, Ky.
So, has the magical world of Harry Potter and its animated Daily Prophet sprung into being? Esquire Editor-in-Chief David Granger sees a bright future for e-ink:
Pointing to the prototype sitting on a conference room table, Mr. Granger said, "The possibilities of print have just begun. In two years, I hope this looks like cellphones did in 1982, or car phones."
Alternatively, it could look a lot like this.
In some ways, the iPhone is a step backward for Japan, where the masses are accustomed to using their mobile phones for everything from watching television to buying Royal Milk Tea from vending machines. But the iPhone 2.0's lack of such modern conveniences failed to deter the more than 1,000 people who waited patiently overnight outside the Softbank Mobile store in Tokyo to get their hands on Apple's latest device for the first time. Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son, the richest man in Japan, hailed it as "a historic day."
It's hard to tell from the photo below, but it looks like this guy is so excited, he's made himself an iPhone hat. Either that, or he's wearing a visor and leaning against a very clean glass window:
TOKYO - JULY 11: A man waits to buy the newly released Apple iPhone as he queues on the first day of its Japanese launch outside SoftBank Mobile's flagship store. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)
A great post on Neatorama lists the 10 strangest anti-terrorism patents you'll ever see. Among them are an airplane trap door (shown above), a railroad missile launcher and -- best of all -- a biohazard suit with a built-in toilet. We'll hopefully never see any of this stuff in action, but during the final year of a second-term president with dismal approval ratings? Stranger things have happened.
Bhutan -- Land of the Thunder Dragon -- is on the cutting edge when it comes to postage stamps. It has a stamp on a CD-ROM, roughly 4 inches in diameter, seen in this image. The CD plays a video on the history of the country's kings. Other philatelic highlights from Bhutan include 3-D stamps and scented stamps, as well as stamps printed on steel, silk, and extruded plastic.
Want to buy the stamp? Check out the "Marketplace" tent at the 42nd annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, held through June 29 and again from July 2 to 6. In addition to its exhibition on Bhutan, the event has programs on NASA ("Fifty Years and Beyond") and Texas ("A Celebration of Music, Food, and Wine").
Students studying computing in the UK and US are outsourcing their university coursework to graduates in India and Romania. Work is being contracted out for as little as £5 on contract coding websites usually used by businesses. Students are outsourcing everything from simple coursework to full blown final year dissertations. It's causing a major headache for lecturers who say it is almost impossible to detect."
Slashdot's CmdrTaco cracks,"The irony, of course, is that if they actually get jobs in the sector, this will be how they actually work anyway."
You've heard of peak oil? Get ready for peak phosphorus:
Researchers in Australia, Europe and the United States have given warning that the element, which is essential to all living things, is at the heart of modern farming and has no synthetic alternative, is being mined, used and wasted as never before.
Massive inefficiencies in the "farm-to-fork" processing of food and the soaring appetite for meat and dairy produce across Asia is stoking demand for phosphorus faster and further than anyone had predicted. "Peak phosphorus," say scientists, could hit the world in just 30 years. Crop-based biofuels, whose production methods and usage suck phosphorus out of the agricultural system in unprecedented volumes, have, researchers in Brazil say, made the problem many times worse. Already, India is running low on matches as factories run short of phosphorus; the Brazilian Government has spoken of a need to nationalise privately held mines that supply the fertiliser industry and Swedish scientists are busily redesigning toilets to separate and collect urine in an attempt to conserve the precious element.
Colin Barras of New Scientist stumbled across the following odd bit in the End User License Agreement (pdf) -- you know, the legal document you pretend to have read when you install a software update -- for iTunes 7:
Licensee also agrees that Licensee will not use the Apple Software for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture or production of nuclear, missiles, or chemical or biological weapons."
This just might be the coolest vending machine of all time:
Michael Keferl of CScoutJapan reports:
Pushing the button on the vendor won’t exactly pop out a car, but it does dispense a branded tube containing pamphlets on the new models, dealer information, and a sheet of Smart Car stickers featuring the available colors.
Not quite as cool as an actual car vending machine, but ingenious nonetheless. I'm still waiting for MIT's Media Lab to roll out its long-hyped stackable cars, though.
(Hat tip: TreeHugger)
The last thing Beijing wants to see at the Olympic opening ceremonies on August 8 is Tibetan flags, "Stop genocide in Darfur" signs, or similar such provocations from "troublemakers." And given Beijing's paranoia, it's hardly surprising that this year's opening and closing ceremonies are going to have some of the tightest security of any event, ever.
Each ticket for the ceremonies will have a microchip embedded with the user's photograph, passport details, addresses, emails, and telephone numbers. All event tickets also have microchips to prevent counterfeiting, but only the ceremony tickets will contain the personal data. Some have raised fears of data theft, and others question whether activists known to the Chinese authorities could even attempt to attend, since many of them are being detained or at least closely watched ahead of the games. Perhaps the biggest concern is that the tickets will be too effective: If you are attending the ceremonies with a few friends or family members and your tickets get switched among you, expect big delays at the gates.
July 11 could not come fast enough for a few million folks dying to get their hands on the new faster, sleeker, cheaper iPhone 3G. (Count me in.) But what I found most interesting about Steve Jobs's big announcement yesterday is Apple's abandonment of its iPhone business model so far: exclusive carrier agreements.
In the six countries where you can officially get an iPhone, Apple has signed deals with mobile carriers (such as AT&T here in the United States) that give Apple a cut of the revenue from the carriers' service plans. But within weeks of the iPhone's launch last year, a massive global gray market in hacked iPhones emerged -- much to Apple's surprise. The company still made money on iPhone handsets, but it was missing out on millions of dollars in revenue it could have gotten from its partners, since more than a million new iPhone users were using hacked phones on different carriers. So, instead of pursuing what was clearly an untenable course, Apple yesterday switched gears, dropping plans for exclusivity agreements in new markets. In other words, they learned from the gray market that their business model simply wasn't the best way to go:
We've changed our business model, from getting a cut of the future revenues to just a more traditional model," Mr. Jobs said in an interview on Monday. "That’s enabled us to roll out around the world much faster."
As for the new business agreement in the States, Apple and AT&T will no longer share revenues as of yesterday. But it still sounds like AT&T will be the exclusive carrier through the end of its multi-year contract, believed to be five years. At the very least, it will be harder to gripe about AT&T's slow download speeds on the new 3G network.
Behind doors on the tombstone that can be locked is a QR code -- a square code read by mobile phones that can link to Web addresses. Grave visitors can use the code to access images and photographs of the person while they were alive. [...] In addition to images of the deceased, people can view a greeting from the chief mourner at the funeral and browse through the guest book. They can also make entries using their cell phones.
Here are a couple photos:
[Nintendo] also is shrewdly maximizing its profit by sending four times as many units to Europe, reaping the benefits of the strong euro, said Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities. Pachter estimated that Nintendo shipped just 500,000 copies of the game in North America but as many as 2 million units to Europe. "The shortage demonstrates one consequence of the weak dollar. We're seeing companies ignore their largest market simply because they can make a greater profit elsewhere," Pachter said.
With the iPhone going global today, this Nintendo story leads me to wonder if we aren't eventually going to be seeing a similar calculus from Apple. Why keep your inventories high in the United States if you can bank more cash elsewhere? (The potential difference, of course, being that Nintendo is a Japanese company and Apple is American.)
(Hat tip: Slashdot)
In Japan, where people seem to have a fondness for high-tech gizmos and small, cute things à la Hello Kitty, an engineering professor and his students are serving up something, er, gastronomic: the world's smallest bowl of Ramen noodles.
The bowl is 0.001 millimeters in diameter, while the noodles were 0.002 millimeters long and 0.00002 millimeters thick.
But this wasn't just a fun stunt. The whole thing is made from carbon-based nanotubes, whose special properties (they're stronger than steel) mean they have the potential for wide use in electronics and medicine. Note: not food! As Masayuki Nakao, the engineer behind the creation, stressed to the Associated Press, "… they are not edible."
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.