Sunday, December 28, 2008

Some new New Scientist articles

There are two interesting stories in the new issue of the New Scientist.

  1. The internet hasn't eliminated the blockbuster dominance like it was once thought it would do. A new research paper shows how physical bookstores can be optimized with only 10-20 titles, like we find in airport bookstores. Even online inventories can be optimized by being smaller than previously thought. For instance, internet music downloads are still dominated by the big stars, with 0.4% of songs accounting for 80% of downloads. It looks like even the internet can't get rid of Britney Spears. (I can't find the online version for the New Scientist article yet, entitled "I want what she wants", page 52)
  2. The environmental impact of meat consumption is showing up everywhere. Some researchers, as discussed at the end of this article, are arguing that kangaroos are the answer. Unlike cows, kangaroos produce much less methane when digesting food. There are some problems though: kangaroos aren't really that profitable, and some Australians aren't too excited about turning a national icon into their main food source. The article also only discusses free-range production, so it's not clear this will work on a large scale outside of Australia.

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