The Daily Sprout

Obama’s Science Test: Obama has responded to the group’s 14 question science exam. Clean energy research and development feature prominently in his take on where federal funds will help advance science – ScienceDebate08 via NYTimes.

Toyota Releases Sustainability Report 2008: The Japanese automaker released its annual sustainability report today, disclosing its emission and energy reduction goals. To save some trees, download the 91 page report – Toyota.

HP Strips Down Laptop Packaging for Wal-Mart: The retail giant named HP the winner of its Home Entertainment Design Challenge for slashing the packaging of the Pavilion laptop by 97 percent. Wal-Mart’s pressuring all of its vendors to reduce packaging to save space and fuel – Press Release.

eBay Goes Green with Online auctioneer eBay launched a socially and environmentally responsible retail portal today called which will sell products that have a positive impact on the world – WorldofGood.

Stolen Solar Panels Selling on eBay: If your uncle comes home with some “new” solar panels that he says fell off the back of a truck, watch out. Solar panels are being stripped off schools, churches and homes and sold on Craigslist for $1000 a pop – CBS via Valleywag.


In my ongoing search to finish the process of making my Mac the only object I need to do anything at all – a can opener is in development – I’ve been on the lookout for a good piece of software to manage microscopy photos.

Most microscopes come with software to do this, to be honest, but the big flaw with a lot of that software is that it’s either Windows-only, requiring Mac-using scientists to run some kind of virtualization or get a cheap Windows box to run it, or it simply doesn’t do all the things you need it to.

Enter Macnification, from Orbicule. With a whole host of features that I’ve been wishing for in current scope apps, and others I hadn’t even hoped were possible, Macnification is about to be a complete revolution in the way I work.

The most amazing part of Macnification is its support for stacks. In microscopy parlance, a stack is a group of images arranged vertically to either show different focal depths or time phases. A stacked image lets the viewer see the object in as close to 3D as flat photography is going to get. Macnification really highlights this, treating the stacks as if they were physical objects.

Z-slices through a stack are cake, with a realtime preview of what the section is going to look like that lets you rotate and angle the slice line to get the ideal cut. Extended focal imaging, or EFI, is also a breeze – a matter of two clicks – and fast, compressing a stack into a single image that features the sharpest parts of each component image.

All this image editing is also non-destructive, a huge plus in today’s increasingly-suspicious scientific imaging scene, with more and more journals requiring originals for analysis or forbidding image editing outright.

Another nifty bit is the ease of creation of time-lapse movies. I have a series of photos of the calcium flare across some neurons, and I’d been looking for a decent way to make this a time-lapse movie for presentations. Macnification did it in about fifteen seconds with only a couple of clicks. Brilliant – and everyone’s been asking how I did it. (Now I get to smile enigmatically again and point to my Mac.)

I do wish that this would run on anything besides 10.5, though – I’ve got some older computers in the lab that just are never going to cut it for Leopard. While I know it’s a sacrifice for all of the fancy features that require Leopard’s strengths, it’s still a drag.

Macnification is available in a free trial and for purchase starting at around $400 USD.

NTV Station Today: Science Comedy, Cheerocracies

NTV StationReady? OK! Liz already linked to our George Carlin memorial earlier, but today we also have Karina Longworth’s review of the new science comedy series Improbable Research Collections. How to describe it? Karina puts it best: “Have you long felt that the one thing the web video world has been sorely lacking is comic treatments of scientific studies on homosexual necrophilia? Well, you’re in luck!” Check it out, and don’t be afraid to add your own thoughts!

And elsewhere on the web, Oprah Winfrey inspires the Stanford class of 2008, and we spotlight my favorite of the shorts premiered at the YouTube Screening Room, Our Time is Up, starring Kevin Pollak (with a brief appearance by Jorge “Hurley on Lost!” Garcia). Also, we have an important news update: Bring It On is now available on Hulu. Remember: NewTeeVee is a cheerocracy of online video. And we at the Station are your cheertators.

Google Clicks to Call In India

Google is offering click to call service to its Indian users. VoIP Inc. emailed us and let us know that they are partnering with Google on this new rollout.

The click-to-call service is no different from a similar service that the search giant started offering in the US in November 2006. Since then there was talk that the service was pulled due to prank callers, but it seems to still work in some cases.

Regardless, the wisdom of click to call features in India doesn’t make much sense, given the low PC density in that nation. If they are offering such features on their mobile version, it would make a lot of sense. Mobile phones are a more viable platform for offering new services in India.

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