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Local Motion's electric cars target Silicon Valley HQs. 14 March 2012Last updated at 17:33 ET By Laura Locke Technology reporter, San Francisco Israeli President Shimon Peres tried out one of Local Motion's prototypes at a recent conference in San Francisco In an age when most Silicon Valley start-ups focus on creating software for web services or apps, newcomer Local Motion stands out for building a working prototype weighing 107 stone (680kg).

Local Motion's electric cars target Silicon Valley HQs

The innovation? A compact electric vehicle designed for short local trips at low speeds. It may not sound world-changing, but the car could prove to be the smartest, most efficient, four-wheeler yet. Snazzy-looking and low-slung, the open-air buggy is easy to hop on and off. It fits a driver and three passengers comfortably inside, or seats can be removed to accommodate cargo. 'Intelligent' design Clement Gires, Local Motion's co-founder and his six-person engineering team define mobility as "information and service". What is more, the cars detect mechanical troubles, crashes and flat tyres. Tech sprawl. 14-y-o Florida girl buys foreclosed house with money from Craigslist furniture-selling hobby.

NPR's Planet Money profiles Willow Tufano, a 14-year-old Florida girl who saved thousands of dollars by harvesting furniture from foreclosed houses and selling it on eBay.

14-y-o Florida girl buys foreclosed house with money from Craigslist furniture-selling hobby

She's just bought half interest in a house that went for $100,000 at the peak of the bubble. Her mom owns the other half, and the house went for $12,000. They rent it out for $700 a month now. Chana Joffe-Walt writes, One day, Willow's mom, Shannon, saw a two-bedroom, concrete-block home on auction for $12,000 — down from $100,000 at the peak of the bubble. This 14-Year-Old Girl Just Bought A House In Florida (via MeFi) (Image: Chana Joffe-Walt) POD House » POD House. Stephen Cave - Stayin' alive. A group of American psychologists has discovered a simple way of turning ordinary people into fundamentalists and ideologues.

Stephen Cave - Stayin' alive

Their method requires neither indoctrination nor isolation nor any form of brainwashing; indeed, it can be done anywhere and in a matter of minutes. It is just this: the researchers remind these ordinary folks that they will one day die. In one experiment, for example, the psychologists asked a group of Christian students to give their impressions of the personalities of two people. In all relevant respects, these two people were very similar – except one was a fellow Christian and the other Jewish. Under normal circumstances, participants showed no inclination to treat the two people differently. The researchers behind this work – Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg and Tom Pyszczynski – were testing the hypothesis that most of what we do we do in order to protect us from the terror of death; what they call “Terror Management Theory”. SOLIPSIST. At SXSW, homeless people become WiFi hotspots. [Video Link] Over the weekend, I noticed that David Gallagher of The New York Times observed in Austin, "Homeless people have been enlisted to roam the streets wearing T-shirts that say 'I am a 4G hotspot.”

At SXSW, homeless people become WiFi hotspots

A number of other folks I follow on Twitter who are attending the annual SXSW event there mentioned it, too, with concern. Here's the project's website, detailing their system to PayPal each "homeless hotspot" person directly. "We suggest $2 per 15 minutes. " The project was created by a team at global ad agency BBH. Jon Mitchell at RWW has more. The Homeless Hotspots website frames this as an attempt "to modernize the Street Newspaper model employed to support homeless populations. " Tim Carmody at Wired News has more about the project's roots, and why he and others find it troubling: China: 30-story prefab skyscraper built in two weeks. Of course it's safe! In Changsha, China, a 30-story hotel project went from blueprint and prefab parts to finished building in fifteen days.

China: 30-story prefab skyscraper built in two weeks. Of course it's safe!

Some are questioning how the construction project could possibly be safe, but the builder defends it. From reporter Jonathan Kaiman, the Los Angeles Times' man in Changsha: In early December, Liu Zhangning was tending her cabbage patch when she saw a tall yellow construction crane in the distance. At night, the work lights made it seem like day. Fifteen days later, a 30-story hotel towered over her village on the outskirts of the city like a glass and steel obelisk. Architects and engineers weigh in, too. Video Link: Time-lapse of the project, showing the prefabricated building assembled on-site. (via @RamCNN) India's homemakers recruited as hotel chefs. 6 March 2012Last updated at 03:21 Twenty-two women have left their home kitchens to work in high-end hotel restaurants A new breed of chefs is taking over hotel kitchens in India.

India's homemakers recruited as hotel chefs

Housewives and mothers are now being recruited to bring "home-cooked" food to five-star plates, as Vasanthi Hariprakash reports from Bangalore. As I finish my lunch at a restaurant in the city-centre, I reach for the dessert that the steward has recommended. Continue reading the main story “Start Quote Our cuisine doesn't have too much mirch-masala (spice). End QuoteSantosh PatariaChef at Gateway Hotel, Khajuraho It turns out to be "obbattu", a sweet usually made in south Indian homes during festivals and not often seen on upscale hotel menus. The "flat, wafer-thin chappati with a mix of jaggery and dried coconut, fried gently on a skillet" melts in my mouth and feels light and wholesome - like your mum made it for you. At Bangalore's Gateway Hotel, a homemaker has put on the chef's apron.

'Foreign Veggies' Confidence. Plants have a memory of pests that spans generations. In the age of industrial agriculture, seeds are often purchased in bulk from corporate growers that use heavy doses of pesticides.

Plants have a memory of pests that spans generations

They then travel many miles to a farm where climate, soil and pest conditions are dramatically different. As a result, crops often encounter new ailments that never impacted first generation seed plants, which may have been protected from the most troublesome invaders. This might not be the best approach, based on three studies published in the February issue of Plant Physiology. Not only does adversity in the parent generation appear to make the seed stronger, but it primes plants to fight the specific ailments that plagued their parents. “We show that exposing tomato plants to some level of caterpillar herbivory will increase resistance for future plants—it’s sort of like a plant vaccine,” says Sergio Rasmann, a biologist at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. Rasmann isn’t the only one seeing this effect. How does pest resistance get inherited?

'Largest fox killed in UK' shot on Aberdeenshire farm. 5 March 2012Last updated at 12:08 Alan Hepworth said he took no pleasure from shooting the fox A fox believed to be the biggest killed in Britain was shot after attacking lambs on an Aberdeenshire farm.

'Largest fox killed in UK' shot on Aberdeenshire farm

It weighed 38lbs 1oz (17.2kg) and was 4ft 9in (1.4m) from nose to the tip of its tail. On average the animals tend to weigh up to about 15lbs (6.8kg). Alan Hepworth, 69, from Rothiemay, shot the fox on a friend's farm and said its size was "incredible". He said: "We take no real pleasure from it. Mr Hepworth explained: "We have to shoot foxes to keep on top of them, and stop them from killing the lambs. "It was late at night, and this particular fox caught our eye because it was such an incredible size. "When we went over to pick it up, we were amazed by quite how big it was. "I could only hold it for a while because it was so heavy and was nearly as big as a roe deer. " He added: "I'm 5ft 7in, and it was 4ft 9in. Star Wars artist Ralph McQuarrie dies aged 82.

4 March 2012Last updated at 10:04 McQuarrie's conceptual designs for Stormtroopers were shown at the Star Wars: The Magic of the Myth exhibition Ralph McQuarrie, the artist who helped George Lucas bring Star Wars to the big screen, has died aged 82.

Star Wars artist Ralph McQuarrie dies aged 82

The conceptual designer created the look of characters including Darth Vader, Chewbacca and R2-D2 and C-3PO. He also worked on the original Battlestar Galactica TV series and Steven Spielberg films ET and Cocoon, for which he won an Oscar. A tribute on his website said: "We'll miss you Ralph. Born in Gary, Indiana, McQuarrie began his career as a technical illustrator for aeroplane manufacturer Boeing and designing film posters. He also animated US TV network CBS's coverage of Nasa's Apollo space programme. In 1975, he was hired by Lucas to design some of the characters and scenes for his "space opera" Star Wars. McQuarrie worked on all three films in the original trilogy "His influence on design will be felt forever. ‘Street Furniture’ Reclaims Hamburg’s Streets for the Public. Urban studies 101: if you let them sit, they will come.

‘Street Furniture’ Reclaims Hamburg’s Streets for the Public

This is the delightfully simple concept behind Oliver Show’s “Street Furniture,” a series of guerilla public seating areas that sprouted into being through the wrapping of yellow drainage pipes around Hamburg’s existing urban infrastructure. The low-cost, weather-resistant and highly flexible plastic cushions turn bridge trusses into recliners, bike racks into loungers, and safety rails into sofas. Moreover, the bright yellow accents bring attention to the commercialization of the city’s public space.

Show’s ingenuity won the former architecture student a design award from the HFBK Leinemann Foundation for Education and the Arts. Add To Collection Save this image to a collection “The interventionist and experimental approach to me is more important than the quest for a ‘perfect’ product,” he tells Der Spiegel. [All photos via Der Spiegel, discovered via Gblog] Made by Hand. Swedes find 'world's oldest tree' A tree said to be the oldest on the planet - thought to be nearly 10,000 years old - has been found in Sweden.

Scientists from Umeaa University discovered the spruce on Fulu Mountain in Dalarna province while carrying out a census of tree species there in 2004. The age of its genetic material was recently calculated using carbon dating at a laboratory in Miami, Florida. Scientists had believed the world's oldest trees were 4,000-year-old pine trees found in North America. The oldest, a bristlecone pine named Methuselah located in California's White Mountains, is aged 4,768, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Cloning The new record contender, which would have taken root just after the last ice age, was found among a cluster of around 20 spruces believed to be more than 8,000 years old at an altitude of 910m (2,985ft) on Fulu Mountain. The clones take root each winter as snow pushes low-lying branches of the mother tree down to ground level, Mr Kullmann added. NOTCOT.ORG. LiveJournal: Russia's unlikely internet giant. 1 March 2012Last updated at 01:42 By Robert Greenall BBC News As Russia prepares to elect a new president this weekend, voters are more fired up than they have been for a decade.

It's partly due to an internet revolution that has challenged the state's power to control public opinion - and to the blogging platform LiveJournal. A month before the election, a liberal opposition group carried out a brazen stunt, hanging a massive anti-Putin banner across the river from the Kremlin. It showed the prime minister's face crossed out, and the words "Putin, leave". The banner was hastily removed, but photos of the action reached millions of Russians via the blog of Ilya Yashin, the group's leader and one of a small army of opposition activists currently spreading their word through the Russian blogosphere.

In a country with tightly controlled TV and few independent newspapers and radio stations, the internet is a vital space for alternative opinion. Continue reading the main story “Start Quote. NOTCOT.ORG. _m054lqzw431qz6f9yo1_500.jpg (Image JPEG, 499x499 pixels)