Flash Game: WordTris

Get into the action of creating words with falling letters in WORDTRIS. Letters drop from the top of the screen, and you must form words horizontally and vertically. When the words form, the letters disappear, and the pace begins to quicken as you complete levels. As the letters continue to descend, look out for the letter to create the magic word that will clear all of the letters from the…

FCC probes 'fake news' at U.S. TV stations

Among the video news releases uncovered were an item on ethanol plants aired on a Louisiana station that was created by a public relations firm on behalf of Siemens AG, a corporation with a financial stake in the construction of ethanol plants. In another case, a Boston station edited and re-voiced a video segment produced by an outside company on behalf of Toshiba, Fisher-Price and Scholastic, whose kids’ products were…

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Weird Science: Why editors must dare to be dumb

In science, feeling confused is essential to progress. An unwillingness to feel lost, in fact, can stop creativity dead in its tracks. A mathematician once told me he thought this was the reason young mathematicians make the big discoveries. Math can be hard, he said, even for the biggest brains around. Mathematicians may spend hours just trying to figure out a line of equations. All the while, they feel dumb…

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The mismeasure of woman

Within a year of birth, boys and girls also prefer different toys. Boys prefer cars, trucks, balls and guns. Girls prefer dolls and tea sets. Although evolution has clearly not had the opportunity to mould a preference for tea sets, there is evidence from another species which suggests that human infants might be predisposed to prefer toys that have particular adaptive significance to their sex. Several years ago, Melissa Hines,…

Websites that changed the world

Amazon used to be a large river in South America – but that was before the world wide web. This month the web is 15 years old and in that short time it has revolutionised the way we live, from shopping to booking flights, writing blogs to listening to music. Here, the Observer’s Net specialist charts the web’s remarkable early life and we tell the story of the 15 most…

Snow White's dwarfs more famous than US judges: poll

Just over 60 percent of respondents were able to name Bart as Homer’s son on the television show “The Simpsons,” while only 20.5 percent were able to name one of the ancient Greek poet Homer’s epic poems, “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.” Asked what planet Superman was from, 60 percent named the fictional planet Krypton, while only 37 percent knew that Mercury is the planet closest to the sun. Respondents…

Microsoft to Let Regular Joes Develop Xbox Games

The house that Gates built will be launching XNA Game Studio Express, a set of (dumbed-down) development tools that will allow hobbyists and their ilk to develop games for both the Xbox 360 and the PC. Initially, these homebrew (is it still considered “homebrew” if you’re using official tools?) games will only be playable to other coders part of a so-called “Creator’s Club,” a nice way to say that Microsoft…

To google or not to google? It's a legal question

Bloggers have been making fun of the examples Google’s lawyers deem acceptable. They included: “Appropriate: I ran a Google search to check out that guy from the party. Inappropriate: I googled that hottie.” Web veterans have also been taken aback by Google’s suddenly humourless approach. The eight-year-old company has previously cultivated an image of youthful non-conformity, from the jeans and T-shirts often worn by its billionaire founders, Sergey Brin and…