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Are 'smart' objects the future?

People certainly like so-called smart phones, and almost every home in America has a computer, and making everything 'smart' might be a future trend, say humanities scholars at Penn State University.

 As sensors and computers increasingly become smaller and cheaper, smart objects will appear in more homes and offices and not be hidden or shielded from interacting with people, according to the researchers. For example, smart refrigerators could talk or send tweets to signal when certain food items are almost out, or when expiration dates are nearing.

Imagine being the project scientist for a NASA experiment and getting an email telling you that a 3,100 lb. defunct spy satellite dating back to the Cold War might crash into your baby?

That's what happened to Julie McEnery of NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope,  which maps the highest-energy light in the universe, a year ago. When she checked her email on March 29th, 2012,  she had an automatically generated report from NASA's Robotic Conjunction Assessment Risk Analysis (CARA) saying that in about a week Fermi might be hit by Cosmos 1805. 

In the modern regulatory environment, start-ups and smaller companies tend to be less well-known. The costs are increasingly high and its hard to get venture capital funding without  knowing how long it can take to clear government hurdles so if things look promising, companies are acquired instead. 

But some are sticking it out and they are trying to gain momentum as they advance their technologies and produce significant clinical data on the road to eventual commercialization of their technologies. 

As planets age the general rule is that they become darker and cooler - but Saturn is an exception. Why it looks so young for its age has been a space science topic since the late 1960s but a paper in Nature Geoscience says it has some answers.

Elsevier and the Integrated Earth Data Applications facility at Columbia University have announced a competition to improve preservation of and access to research data in the earth sciences. 

Members of the international geosciences community who have worked on preservation and improved access of research data, particularly dark data, can share their work and advise on ways that these data are being processed, stored and used. 

Brown and white fat cells in a living organism can be converted from one cell type to the other, according to a study using mice as a model organism.