SciTech Briefs

ICANN announces last IPv4 address blocks distributed

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced last week that it had distributed the last blocks of IP addresses in the current system. Most Internet devices today use the IPv4 standard, which is limited to several billion addresses. Regulatory bodies and technology leaders have been pushing IPv6 for several years, and the exhaustion of the IPv4 pool will accelerate this rollout. The IPv6 system allows for an exponentially greater number of addresses.


Americans keep blood pressure down

A recent study published in The Lancet revealed that worldwide obesity continues to increase, but that people are nevertheless reducing the cases of high blood pressure and high cholesterol that are associated with this condition. Nearly every region of the world has seen rising body mass index levels, and the United States has the highest level among wealthy nations. However, the U.S. was found to have comparatively low blood pressure and cholesterol levels compared to other developed nations.

Source: BusinessWeek

Facebook adds new account protection feature

Facebook began rolling out a security feature last week that aims to protect users’ accounts. The new feature uses the HTTPS protocol — the same technology that protects many e-commerce sites — to encrypt communications. Users must enable the feature themselves in the Account Security menu under the Account Settings panel. By taking advantage of HTTPS, Facebook users can avoid having their accounts hijacked when using unsecured connections such as those at airports and coffee shops.

Source: The New York Times

Husband of Tucson victim to command Shuttle mission

Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D–Ariz.), has announced his decision to command the upcoming flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavor. The flight, which is scheduled for April, will be Endeavor’s last and possibly the last for the Shuttle program as a whole. Kelly has been on leave since Giffords was wounded last month. Endeavor’s flight will be his fourth in space.

Source: Time

Jeopardy champs to face off against IBM computer

Watson, a computer developed by IBM and Carnegie Mellon researchers, will make history as the first nonhuman contestant on Jeopardy on Feb. 14. Like Deep Blue, the IBM computer that defeated Garry Kasparov at chess in 1997, Watson will use a combination of raw processing power and complex algorithms to answer host Alex Trebek’s trivia questions. The computer is designed to understand the subtleties of human speech, and IBM researchers hope that similar technology will one day be available to everyone.

Source: The Guardian

NASA humanoid robot appears for Super Bowl

The NASA Robonaut 2 (R2) appeared in the pregame show for the Super Bowl yesterday. The R2 is a humanoid robot that will be used to help astronauts on the International Space Station. R2 is designed to accomplish many of the same tasks as humans, with delicate sensors and manipulators. It was developed as a joint project between NASA and General Motors.


Compiled by
Michael Kahn