Pushing Up Daisies?

Researchers at Warwick Manufacturing Group, part of Britain's University of Warwick, devised a novel way to recycle discarded mobile telephones: Bury them and watch them sprout flowers.

The university team worked with high-tech materials company PVAXX and Motorola to create a mobile phone case made of a special biodegradable polymer.

Engineers at the university also created a small transparent window in the case, so users could view the seed inside. When the phone case is buried, it decomposes into nonlethal materials and the seed germinates. For the first prototype telephones, researchers used dwarf sunflower seeds. -- University of Warwick

Phone Home

More than 300,000 cellular phones are being used in North Dakota, which has a population of about 640,000. A state survey found that Foster County has the highest percentage of cellular phone users at 69 percent. -- USA Today

Listening For Trouble

New technology may help stem gun violence in Chicago and Los Angeles.

The microphone surveillance system recognizes -- instantly and with high accuracy -- the sound of a gunshot within a two-block radius. The system precisely locates where the shot was fired, points a camera at the shooter and calls the police. Officers then can take control of the camera to track the shooter and dispatch personnel to the scene.

Chicago is installing the first five of 80 devices in high-crime neighborhoods, supplementing existing cameras. The system is based on brain cell research conducted by a University of Southern California biomedical engineer. -- University of Southern California

Open Source Routers

The eXtensible Open Router Platform (XORP) could become a low-cost, open source alternative to proprietary routing software used in network routers.

The XORP software package currently provides a set of routing protocol implementations, an extensible programming API and configuration tools. XORP supports BGP, RIP, PIM-SM and IGMP/MLD protocols. It also supports IPv4 and IPv6. At the present time, XORP doesn't implement its own forwarding system, its creators say. The software relies on the forwarding capabilities of the underlying host operating system.

Quick Strike

Automated software "bots" now take over PCs lacking firewalls within four minutes, according to a recent study.

Working with hacker turned security consultant Kevin Mitnick and USA Today, technology company Avantgarde released a study in late 2004 showing that automated "bots," worms and other threats pummeled six computer platforms over a two-week period with 305,955 total attacks.

Results also demonstrated that an inadequately protected computer was compromised within four minutes of plugging into the Internet. -- Avantgarde

Talk Bot

Japan's growing elderly population will be able to buy companionship in the form of an 18-inch tall robot programmed to provide just enough small talk to keep them from going senile.

The "Snuggling Ifbot," which has a glowing face and is dressed in an astronaut suit, has the conversation ability of a 5-year-old, the language level required to stimulate the brains of senior citizens, its software designer said. -- l'Agence France-Presse

Everyone's Connected

In October 2004, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom made free wireless Internet access a goal for the city. San Francisco is not the only city planning blanket wireless Internet coverage -- Philadelphia announced a plan to provide citywide Wi-Fi access earlier this year, while San Jose, Calif., and Long Beach, Calif., have set up large areas of Wi-Fi coverage. -- eMarketer Inc.

Jessica Mulholland, Web Editor Jessica Mulholland  |  Web Editor/Photographer

Jessica Mulholland has been a writer and editor for more than 10 years. She was previously the editor of Emergency Management magazine, and she loves that she can incorporate her love of photography into her work as a part of the Government Technology editorial team. Jessica can be reached at jmulholland@govtech.com and @jbronwen on Twitter.

Shane Peterson  |  Associate Editor