Stories tagged development

In the libraries i've seen the children have always been living really close to the library or they are old enough to ride a bike or bus to go to the library, mind you this is just a burst or an idea. I mean do you go to the library a lot because you live close to it? I certainly would!


Playing with blocks helps young children develop language skills: Photo by chaim zvi from
Playing with blocks helps young children develop language skills: Photo by chaim zvi from

…building blocks. A new study shows that children who play with blocks develop greater language skills. The theory is that playing with the blocks forces children to think about what they’re doing, assigning names to the pieces, the structures and the activities.

I especially liked this line:

“[U]nstructured play with blocks stimulates thinking, memory and physical mastery of objects….”

Say, isn’t that what museum exhibits try to do?


It won't be so bad!: A human child enjoys his new home.    (photo by sofubared on
It won't be so bad!: A human child enjoys his new home. (photo by sofubared on
Evolution has just taken a bold step forward. I hate to be the bearer of grim news, but, if, like me, you are a human being (and I expect that most of you are), I have this to say to you: we have been left behind.

That’s right, if you haven’t guessed it already, the inevitable has finally happened, and a New York woman has given birth to a healthy 12-fingered and 12-toed baby boy. The scientific press hasn’t said so directly yet, but I think I am safe in saying that the boy is expected to be a superb athlete (at least in ball-sports), a concert pianist, and some sort of crime fighter (I’m thinking “Spiderman Jr.”).

So there you have it. All that’s left now is for the rest of us to wait and wonder what we should do now that we are obsolete. If nothing comes to mind, governments across the world will be initiating the long-planned “Troglodyte Protocol,” a voluntary program to assist members of the species homo sapien to our rightful future home – deep below the surface of the earth, where we will cheerfully run factories and power plants for homo sapien superior.

Goodbye surface and sunlight. We know when we aren’t needed.


Think Global: photo: KnutBry/TinAgent/Think Technology
Think Global: photo: KnutBry/TinAgent/Think Technology
Think an electric car has a chance in todays market? In the 1990s General Motors spent nearly $1 billion on their EV1. Ford pumped about $150 million into an electric car known as "Think" but sold it 5 years later. As Think was in bankruptcy, Norwegian entrepreneur, Willums, picked up Think, its factory, and Ford's nearly completed design for a new-model "City" for the fire-sale price of about $15 million. His company, Think Global, has raised $60 million in funding to roll out a new and improved version of the City this fall.

$43 million battery deal with Tesla Motors

Willums, whos experience is in solar panels, went to a brainstorming session at the Googlplex in California. Google billionaires, Sergy Brin and Larry Page, had test driven earlier versions of the Think. They are also major investors of another electric car, the Tesla. Tesla will sell customized batteries to Think Global. The group also came up with these radical ideas:

  • Sell the car on the internet.
  • Never build a car before it's paid for.
  • No car showrooms or sales force.
  • Sell the car but lease the batteries.
  • Every car will be Internet and Wi-Fi enabled.
  • Components will be open sourced modules.
  • Assemble cars locally (no exporting).
  • Use the car's batteries to feed the electric grid during power shortages.
  • Car sharing companies like Zipcar and Flexcar allow trying before buying.

Batteries are separate.

By taking out the cost of the battery ($34,000) the "City" car will only cost from $15,000 - $17,000 in the United States. A "mobility fee" of $100 to $200 a month that might also include services like insurance and wireless Internet access seems to be part of the business plan. Managing a two way exchange of electricity with the electric grid is another possibility. Thousands of cars plugged into the electric grid could be tapped during energy demand spikes. PG&E plans to buy batteries that have outlived their usefulness for transportation but still retain capacity. The utility will install them in the basements of office towers and at electrical substations to store green energy produced by wind farms and solar arrays.

"Open source" modular assembly.

Willums car assembly plan resembles how Dell builds computers.

"He points to the black steel chassis of a City standing on a nearby pallet; it's shipped preassembled from Thailand. At one station, workers attach the car's aluminum frame -- made in Denmark -- and drop in a French motor. At another station, prefabricated rust-and dent-resistant polymer-plastic body panels produced in Turkey are hung on the frame of a nearly completed car."

Parts will be shipped for assembly near purchase points (like New York or California). The "Think" will do 70 mph and will have a range of 110 miles.

Update: "TH!NK GLOBAL" forum website link.

Source: CNNmoney.


Danger seat: Are there steps that can be taken to help lower higher-than-average rates of teen driving accidents and fatalities? It's a good question in Minnesota, where there's been a spike in the number of teen road fatalities this summer.
Danger seat: Are there steps that can be taken to help lower higher-than-average rates of teen driving accidents and fatalities? It's a good question in Minnesota, where there's been a spike in the number of teen road fatalities this summer.
It hasn’t been a very good summer in Minnesota for teen driving fatalities. Seven young drivers or passengers in cars driven by teens have died since June 23.

And while we take a lot of pride in Minnesota about being a national leader in rankings for education, health and voting participation, we’re actually one of the national leaders in the percentage of teens who die in traffic accidents. To top that all off, Minnesota is just one of five states in the country that doesn’t have a teen driving curfew and/or restrictions on the number of passengers outside of family members a teen driver can have in a vehicle.

Here are some quick stats that the Star-Tribune reported over the weekend.

• In 2006, the age group of drivers with the most deaths in Minnesota was 15-19, with 70 people killed. No age group 30 or older had more than 40 deaths.
• Teens make up only seven percent of Minnesota’s drivers but are involved in 14 percent of the crashes.
• Overall traffic accident statistics show that one in eight teen drivers are involved in an accident each year in the state.

Past action by the legislature has put on some restrictions on teen drivers. For several years now Minnesota has had a graduated driving license law that includes these provisions:
• New drivers can’t use a cell phone while on the road.
• All passengers in a car driven by a teen need to be seat-belted.
• Must complete one full year of driving without an alcohol or crash-related violation before they can get a standard driving license.

So what, if anything more, should be done?

Would a curfew curtail a lot of teen driving problems? Most the fatalities listed above happened at late-night or early-morning hours of the day. Or would many teens thumb their nose such rules?

The other common method that states use to deal with the situation is to restrict the number of non-family members in the car while a teen is driving. The thinking is, fewer friends in the car will make for fewer distractions to the driver and more attentive driving. Others say that kind of rule will simply divide up teen drivers between more cars.

What do you think? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.


Crowds gather at the Berlin Zoo to see the polar bear cub Knut: Photo by Claudius Prosser at
Crowds gather at the Berlin Zoo to see the polar bear cub Knut: Photo by Claudius Prosser at

Poor Knut! The polar bear cub, abandoned by its mother, has been raised by zookeepers. As we reported in March, some “animal rights activists” demanded that the bear be killed, rather than be raised by humans. This led to great interest in the furry little fellow.

But all good things must come to an end. At five months of age, Knut is looking less and less like an adorable little cub, and more like a full-grown adult every day.

Animals that must fend for themselves as soon as they are born – many fish, insects, and reptiles – often hatch as fully formed, miniature versions of the adult. (Some may go through a larval stage, but development finishes early, long before the animal has reached its full adult size.) Animals that receive care from their parents, however – mammals and most birds – often look very different as children than they do as adults. Certain features are not yet fully developed. Scientists speculate that the parents are genetically programmed to respond in a caring manner to the infant appearance.

(This certainly seems to be the case with humans – just watch everybody ooh and ahh over a baby.)

In fact, the instinct is so strong that it even works across species. Newborn Knut, with his large head and small nose, reminds us of a baby’s features, and we react the same way. An adult bear, with its full snout, no longer generates this reaction. As we noted earlier, our ideas of “cuteness” can influence our feelings about nature, and which animals we are more likely to protect.


baby2: A baby standing on a chair.

A researcher in Germany has conducted experiments showing that babies as young as 18 months old have a natural instinct to help others. The researcher performed tasks with books or clothespins in front the babies. If he accidentally dropped something, the baby would come over to pick it up. If he dropped it on purpose, the babies would not help.

According to the article:

Toddlers' endearing desire to help out actually signals fairly sophisticated brain development, and is a trait of interest to anthropologists trying to tease out the evolutionary roots of altruism and cooperation.

Now, of only they could retain that helpfulness as teenagers!