Battle Raging Between Mini-notebooks and One Laptop Per Child

One Laptop Per Child, the company that wants to help the "world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning" isn't getting much love from global PC makers.

Coming on the heels of a Wired magazine story touting One Laptop Per Child as having hit the big time, reports today that while the company has decided to open-source their hardware design, global PC makers are unlikely to participate, instead opting to focus on their own agenda of producing competitive mini-notebooks.

OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte has said recently that current notebooks lack three important design features: low power equal to or below 2 watts; ruggedness and the ability to be repairable easily; and displays that are readable in the sun.

While such features could be made available by non-traditional vendors, Big multinationals, such as Hewlett-Packard and Dell, are not interested in helping out. According to Reuben Tan, IDC's senior manager for personal systems research in the Asia-Pacific region, these big vendors are more interested in copying One Laptop's price and optimized operating system—features that have not been properly addressed in the mini-notebook market yet.

One Dell spokesperson told ZDNet Asia that user demands differ according to markets or need. And a Lenovo spokesperson said that it was "premature to comment" as the company does not have details on the OLPC offering. While OLPC has seen successes in Latin America, penetration is "very low" in regions such as the Asia-Pacific. Mini-notebooks, on the other hand, which emerged after OLPC's XO laptops came onto the global scene, have seen strong growth in those areas.

One Laptop Per Child may have thought that their altruistic mission would insulate them from competition, but in this economy, the world's poorest children is a market niche that PC makers are not willing to ignore. Please don't miss Big Think's interview with Mary Lou Jepsen, the co-creator of One Laptop Per Child on her plan to change the world.

How to make a black hole

Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.

  • There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
  • CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
  • Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
  • Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
  • The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
  • Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
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China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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