Stand out in a cloud
Squid London (squidlondon.com) has come up with the perfect way to brighten up a grey day and demonstrate one's membership of the fashionable set. Squid's Bird Squit umbrella starts out monochrome, but the moment it starts raining, its black and white façade metamorphoses into rainbow hues. SquidLondon has pledged to donate £1 from the sale of every umbrella of their new limited collection to support a local student’s efforts to raise funds for ChildReach International, a UK charity aimed at fighting child poverty in developing countries.
Former professor of physics at Oxford University, Josh Silver, has invented a pair of spectacles that he says are a "tremendous glimpse of the obvious". Silver's specs consist of fluid-filled sacs sandwiched between two plastic discs. Each sac is equipped with a tiny syringe attached to the arms of the glasses. The wearer simply adjusts a dial on the syringe to increase or decrease the amount of fluid in the sacs, thereby increasing or decreasing the strength of the lens. Once the correct setting is achieved, the sac is sealed and the syringes are removed. The beauty of this innovation is that it can be mass-produced, eliminating the need to manufacture millions of unique lenses. It is also empowering: no optician is required to fit them, since it is the user who decides which setting suits best.Read more on the Centre for Vision in the Developing World website at www.vdw.ox.ac.uk.
Social networking site Facebook has introduced new privacy settings designed to prevent your dancing-on-the-table-while-at-the-annual-office-party pics from getting into the wrong hands. Or so it seems. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) the new settings could actually make you more vulnerable. Each Facebook user will be asked to review their settings when next they log in, prompting them to classify visitors to their profiles as friends, friends of friends, everyone or "custom", where you can divide your friends into smaller groups. EFF lawyer Kevin Bankston says that although it is a good thing that users can make decisions around who sees what, they are in fact pushing more information out into the public realm by making the changes to their profiles. If a user now opts for Facebook's default privacy settings, all their status messages and wall posts will be visible to all and sundry, whereas before they were only visible to friends. Facebook's vice president of communications, public policy and marketing, Elliot Schrage, stated at a press conference that it has introduced the new settings to encourage all users to "make informed decisions about their privacy or about the Facebook experience they want."
License to misbehave
An experiment designed by researchers at the University of Zurich has demonstrated that the link between testosterone and aggressive, sex-crazed behaviour is largely a perception fuelled by the media. In a double-blind randomised controlled trial, women were either told that they were being given the hormone and then were given a placebo or were in fact injected with testosterone, but not told. The results were interesting. The women who believed that they had been given testosterone behaved more aggressively and selfishly, while those who actually received it were more altruistic. Read a summary of the report from Nature magazine on the Science Blogs website (scienceblogs.com).
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