Published online 26 March 2008 | Nature 452, 393 (2008) | doi:10.1038/452393a

News in Brief

Sidelines

Scribbles on the margins of science.

On the Record

“I've got a student working on an application where you enter a city and it will tell you what grades and types of marijuana are available.”

Clemson University economist Todd Kendall discusses the rising trend of websites that act as consumer guides to illicit activities.

Scorecard

GOING UP: WiFi

According to Google, the unused 'white space' between the frequencies used by US television stations could be co-opted to give wireless broadband to everyone in the country.

GOING DOWN: Internet users

An editorial in the American Journal of Psychiatry has called for Internet addiction to be added to the official inventory of mental illnesses.

Robot news

Brave little toaster

T. TEN VELDEN/UNIV. AMSTERDAM

Roboteers from the University of Amsterdam have invented a robot that mimics human phobias — and the steps needed to overcome them. The 'Phobot' retreats when it first meets a larger robot, but then gradually gets comfortable with smaller ones until it feels brave enough to conquer its fears.

Number Crunch

40% is the proportion of scientists and technologists in the European Union (EU) aged between 45 and 64.

27% is the proportion of people in this age bracket in the EU population as a whole. The scientific workforce is ageing faster than other sectors.

47% of senior scientists are female, which indicates that science has greater gender equality than many other professions.

Sources: Wired, BBC, Am. J. Psychiatry, Associated Press, Eurostat  

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