by , / October 2, 2007

Sky's the Limit
Google is attempting to interest millions of Internet users in stargazing with the launch of Sky, a new feature of Google Earth. Sky lets people view the night sky through a virtual telescope.

Users can zoom in to see images of 100 million stars and 200 million galaxies, which Google compiled based on data from the Hubble space telescope, NASA and other scientific institutions. Google Earth users can select a location on the planet and then click "Switch to Sky" to see a view of the night sky as seen from that spot. They can then navigate this like a road map, moving across the sky or zooming in for close-up images. Users can search for approximately 20,000 celestial objects. - The Financial Times Limited


Fast Tracker
At least 20,000 police surveillance cameras installed along streets in southern China will soon be guided by sophisticated computer software to automatically recognize the faces of police suspects and detect unusual activity.

Most citizens will be issued a residency card fitted with a powerful computer chip, which will include their name, address, work history, educational background, religion, ethnicity, police record, medical insurance status and landlord's phone number. Personal reproductive history will be included, for enforcement of China's controversial "one child" policy. Plans are being studied to add credit histories, subway travel payments and small purchases charged to the card.

Security experts describe China's plans as the world's largest effort to meld cutting-edge computer technology with police work to track the activities of a population and fight crime. But they warn that the technology can be used to violate civil rights. - The New York Times

In Good Hands
More than 130 Iraq War veterans now face the daunting challenge of living with a missing arm. To make this transition easier, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency launched a $55 million project that pools prosthetics experts nationwide to create a thought-controlled bionic arm that duplicates the functions of a natural limb.

The Proto 2, a thought-controlled mechanical arm - complete with hand and articulated fingers - performs 25 joint motions. This dexterity approaches that of an organic arm, which can make 30 motions, and trumps the previously most agile bionic arm, the Proto 1, which could bend at the elbow, rotate its wrist and shoulder, and open and close its fingers. The next steps are to shrink the battery, develop more efficient motors, and refine the bulky electrodes used to read electrical signals in muscles. - CNN.com


Techno Lifeline
A recent study conducted by Knowledge Networks looked at various media and technologies that U.S. consumers ages 13 to 24 couldn't live without - and the Internet tops the list.

Internet                            54 percent

Computer                         51 percent

Cell phone                        49 percent

TV                                   47 percent

Microwave                        35 percent

MP3 Player                       18 percent

Newspaper                       13 percent

None of the above             20 percent
Figures are expressed as a percentage of respondents


Show Me the Money
The worldwide market for peer-to-peer and file sharing services is expected to generate $28 billion in revenue for carriers and Internet service providers over the next four years, according to Insight Research Corp.

Karen Stewartson

Karen Stewartson served as the managing editor of Government Technology for many years. She also contributed to Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.

Jessica Jones Assistant Editor