Lani's Blog Posts

The New Office: Your Lap

October 07 2008 / by Lani / In association with Future
Category: Culture   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

The office. It’s a dreaded workspace for many, for others it’s a grand tradition (and, for a few, it’s just a funny TV show). However you see it, the office as it exists now is evolving. Have a look at yours. Does it resemble the standard Dilbert-esque vision rife with miles and miles of identical cubicles, Sticky-Notes, and studded with those ever-flattering fluorescent tubes? Or is it simpler setup- a laptop on your lap?

These days, companies are rethinking the way we work. The new workspace, called non-territorial or non-assigned workspaces, resemble a modern version of musical chairs. Employees come to work and find their spot. This model works for Cisco Systems. At other companies, such as Bank of America, employees can reserve spaces or meeting rooms. Others (think IBM) don’t even have offices.

Mind you, the concept of the paperless office isn’t new. It’s been floating around since the 1940’s. The Atlantic featured a series on Memex machines, theoretical proto-hypertext computer systems that were to function as self-contained research libraries, in 1945. Life Magazine soon followed with illustrations. And, of course, we can’t forget gems like The Jetsons, or Brazil, or even Spielberg’s Minority Report.

Although, we’re not quite hovercraft bound, the future of the office is increasingly flexible and mobile. Employees will no longer be confined to the cubicle. The advent of wireless technologies, smartphones, teleconferencing and the Web 2.0 cloud has made the office as we know it, a thing of the past. Today, virtual is the way to go.

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The Future of Fertility: Lose Weight, Fix Bad Sperm

October 07 2008 / by Lani / In association with Future
Category: Health & Medicine   Year: Beyond   Rating: 8 Hot

Here’s another good reason to lay off that super-sized combo with extra fries: bad sperm. Besides being the cause of diabetes, heart disease, and back problems, a large waistline can also affect fertility. And not in a good way.

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen conducted a study involving the sperm of more than 2,000 men who were having trouble conceiving. The results, presented at a recent conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona, revealed a substantial difference between the sperm of obese men and those of normal weight. The men were divided into four different groups, depending on Body Mass Index. Men with an optimal BMI of 20 to 25 had a healthy level of normal sperm, while the opposite occurred with heavier men. Findings show obese men produce more abnormal sperm as well as lower volumes of seminal fluid.

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A Pigment with the Power to Revolutionize Room-Temperature Computing

October 03 2008 / by Lani / In association with Future
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

There was once a color deemed so dull, and expensive that no artist would touch it. It produced weak colors. It looked bad. And, soon it was forgotten.

That is, until, one day, over two hundred years later, when a group of researchers at the University of Washington found something that would change Cobalt Green’s legacy forever. The discovery? Cobalt Green has the potential to revolutionize the way we use computers. Imagine turning on your computer and within seconds getting immediate access to your hard drive instead of having to wait on end for everything to boot up. Imagine a hard drive with almost infinite storage. Imagine that all this would only leave a footprint the size of a pea.

It’s simply a matter of color.

So, how does work?

Swedish chemist Sven Rinmann invented Cobalt Green in 1780. Also known as Rinmann’s Green, it was originally produced by using a mixture of zinc oxide and cobalt. What makes it so valuable to scientists today is its unique magnetic properties and what they mean for the emerging field of spintronics. Current technology relies on the movement and accumulation of electrons. Spintronics, on the other hand, exploits the spin of electrons to increase computational power in a device. More power means a faster and efficient machine.

Thus far, researchers have run into problems with temperature. Most materials work well only in extremely cold temperatures. Cobalt Green, however, can be used at room temperature.

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