Monday, July 06, 2009

Kindle Shines in the Sun

I recently purchased a Kindle DX from Amazon, mainly hoping to use it while travelling. I've more or less ignored it since the first couple of days after it arrived. But today is a gorgeous sunny day for a change here in Boston, so I decided to try to read something out on my deck, which is blazingly bright today. I brought out the Kindle and was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to read while wearing a pair of extremely dark polarized sunglasses. I found reading on the Kindle easier on my eyes than a paperback book, perhaps in part because the print is somewhat larger on the Kindle. As a joke, I brought out my laptop. I could barely see anything on the laptop screen in the sunlight without my sunglasses and absolutely nothing with the sunglasses on.
On a nice sunny day I often would like to read outdoors, but usually find the eye strain too much. The Kindle seems to help in this situation.

On the other hand the E Ink display used by the Kindle has its quirks too: there's a dramatic flash when the page is changed and there's long decay time when erasing the cursor, etc. However, I don't really even notice the page change flash anymore, though I certainly did when I first got it.

This Snake is a Fake Out Artist

The Tentacled Snake, an aquatic reptile of southeast Asia, does a nice job of faking out its fish prey: Tentacled snakes turn C-starts to their advantage and predict future prey behavior.

Many People Reject Unfair Offers Even When They Screw Only Themselves

The private rejection of unfair offers and emotional commitment
In a series of experiments, we demonstrate that certain players of an economic game reject unfair offers even when this behavior increases rather than decreases inequity. A substantial proportion (30–40%, compared with 60–70% in the standard ultimatum game) of those who responded rejected unfair offers even when rejection reduced only their own earnings to 0, while not affecting the earnings of the person who proposed the unfair split (in an impunity game). Furthermore, even when the responders were not able to communicate their anger to the proposers by rejecting unfair offers in a private impunity game, a similar rate of rejection was observed. The rejection of unfair offers that increases inequity cannot be explained by the social preference for inequity aversion or reciprocity; however, it does provide support for the model of emotion as a commitment device. In this view, emotions such as anger or moral disgust lead people to disregard the immediate consequences of their behavior, committing them to behave consistently to preserve integrity and maintain a reputation over time as someone who is reliably committed to this behavior.

Giant Kangaroo was probably wiped out by Humans

The largest-ever kangaroo, Procoptodon goliah disappeared about the time that humans arrived in Australia. It appears that was not a coincidence: Extinction implications of a chenopod browse diet for a giant Pleistocene kangaroo.

A Tight Biological Loop

Prochlorococcus, a tiny photosynthesing marine bacteria, is one of the smallest and most abundant forms of life. It needs nitrogen which is often a limiting factor in its growth. Apparently a major source of its nitrogen is nitrate, which is produced by organsims which mainly feed on Prochlorococcus itself: Prochlorococcus: Approved for export!