Layer 8's top 10 of 2007

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Top 10 most popular stories from Layer 8

At Layer 8 we get to write about all manner of tech and not-so-tech topics. Take our Top 10 stories of the year, we have articles on everything from a look at unmanned militiary aircraft to open source math software and a look at cursing in the workplace. Enjoy!

The mainframe lives!

If you believe the stories, IBM's mainframe has in the last 10 years been knocked down and gotten back up more times than most of the characters in all the Terminator, Die Hard and Rocky movies combined. And while there are some out there who'd like to see its demise, a true threat to the Big Iron has never really amounted to much. Read more .

Smart sunglasses change color almost instantly

Here's a candidate for the next big thing: A pair of glasses with lenses that can be transparent or dark, and in shades of yellow, green or purple, all basically at the push of a button. Read more .

The treadmill workstation

Did you know you could lose as much as 66 pounds by sweating on you PC? Well using the Mayo Clinic's vertical workstation, that just might be the weightloss wave of the future. Read more .

Holmes Comet grows bigger than the sun

The Sun is no longer the largest object in our solar system. The recently visible-to-the-naked-eye Holmes comet has achieved that distinction today. The comet has a larger gas and dust cloud known as the coma, and consequently it has a larger diameter than the sun according to astronomers at the University of Hawaii. Scientists don't seem to have a guess as to how big it will ultimately become. Read more .

Boeing C-130H

Boeing this week said completed work on and installed a 12,000-pound chemical laser in a C-130H aircraft and will now test the weapon, which will fire through a rotating turret that extends through the aircraft's belly, until an official demonstration set for 2008. Read more .

A new open source mathematics program

A new open source mathematics program is looking to push aside commercial software commonly used in mathematics education, in large government laboratories and in math-intensive research. The program's backers say the software, called Sage, can do anything from mapping a 12-dimensional object to calculating rainfall patterns under global warming. Read more .

SkySails

The Beluga shipping company that owns the 460-foot Beluga said it expects the kites to decrease fuel consumption by up to 50% in optimal cases as well as a cutback of the emission of greenhouse gases on sea by 10 to 20%. Interestingly, the ship will be hauling windmills from Esbjerg, Denmark to Houston, Texas. Read more .

Swearing at work is a good thing?

This is the kind of news that your HR folks don't want to hear, but researchers today said letting workers swear at will in the workplace can benefit employees and employers. The study found regular use of profanity to express and reinforce solidarity among staff, letting them express their feelings, such as frustration, and develop social relationships, according to researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA). Researchers said their aim was to challenge leadership styles and suggest ideas for best practices. Read more .

The Gryphon

This one is straight out of a James Bond movie or Batman script. German researchers this week showed off their Gryphon personal strap-on jet wing that lets the pilot scream through the air at about 135MPH. The Gryphon features a six-foot wing and hand-held rotary controls for the rudder. The system includes onboard oxygen and helmet that features a heads-up display. Read more .

The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper

The first unmanned attack squadron in aviation history will arrive in Iraq today looking to deliver 500-pound bombs and Hellfire missiles to the enemy - all from the comfort of a US Air Force base in Nevada. The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper can be controlled via satellite link thousands of miles away from operational areas. The planes are launched locally, in this case Iraq and Afghanistan, but can be controlled by a pilot and sensor operator sitting at computer consoles in a ground station, or they can be "handed off" via satellite signals to pilots and sensor operators in Nevada's Creech Air Force Base or elsewhere. Read more .

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