April 27, 2012
Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond

Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond     Photo: Jeremy T. Hetzel/Flickr

Walden Video Game in Development

Players explore Thoreau environment

The National Endowment of Arts this week awarded the University of Southern California a $40,000 grant to develop a video game based on Henry David Thoreau's Walden writings. The game will recreate a 3-D environment of Walden Pond in which players "can conduct their own experiments in living deliberately," according to the game's promotional video. Gameplay involves traipsing through Walden Woods, picking berries, fishing the pond, and contemplating Thoreau's ideas in his tiny cabin. The game's developers hope to infuse reflection and insight into a new genre of play that embodies Thoreau's experiment to "live as a part of nature and not apart from it." 

Read more at The Guardian


San Francisco Bay

San Francisco Bay     Photo: ground.zero/Flickr

Coast Guard Halts Sailing Races off SF

Deadly crash prompts investigation

The U.S. Coast Guard on Thursday put an indefinite hold on sailing races off San Francisco Bay while it concludes an investigation into a deadly accident that killed five sailors earlier this month. The ruling permits sailing within the bay but will restrict events, including this weekend's Duxship Race, from sailing more than one mile beyond the Golden Gate Bridge. On April 14, five sailors died when the the Low Speed Chase crashed into rocks on the Fallaron Islands. San Francisco will host the America's Cup next summer.

Read more at KTVU.com



Pigeons     Photo: zigazou76/Flickr

Scientists Find GPS Neurons in Pigeons

Study helps explain birds' ability to navigate

Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine may have identified how pigeons navigate after discovering a group of brain cells that are sensitive to the direction and strength of magnetic fields. On Thursday, researchers Le-Qing Wu and David Dickman published a study in the journal Science showing that the birds' orientation determined which neurons were activated, giving the pigeons virtual compasses inside their brains. The species' ability to navigate thousands of miles, even in poor weather, has long baffeled scientists. “It’s a stunning piece of work,” said David Keays of Vienna's Institute of Molecular Pathology. The authors are still unsure how the birds are able to sense the magnetic field, but next plan to study the inner ear.

Read more at the New York Times


Dara Torres

Dara Torres is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit     Photo: Bryan Allison/Flickr

Olympians Sue Samsung Over App

App uses likenesses without permission

Eighteen Olympic athletes on Wednesday sued Samsung for using their names and faces in a Facebook app without permission. The app, which has been live since March, shows Facebook users how to connect to more than 10,000 Olympians. The group of athletes, including Mark Spitz, Amanda Beard, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, claim that Samsung app's design makes it look as if they endorse Samsung. Samsung has said that it would remove athletes from the app on request, but several athletes were still included after filing opt-out letters.

Read more at ESPN