Monthly Archives: December 2014

This is where the 60% of the world that don’t have the Internet live

This map, created by consulting firm McKinsey & Company using data from the World Bank, shows where the roughly 4 billion people around the world who aren’t created to the Internet live. And it might surprise you.

WorldMap small

While it often seems like the whole world is connected these days, the reality is that around 60 percent of the world still doesn’t have access to the Internet.

Three quarters of the world’s offline population live in just 20 countries – including India, Russia, Nigeria, Brazil and, surprisingly, the US, where one in five Americans don’t have the Internet.

But things are changing quickly. Current uptake trends suggest that by 2017 nearlyone billion more people will be online, with many of those in India. And both Facebook and Google now have innovative projects in the pipelines to help beam wi-fi to the whole world. Facebook intends to do this with giant solar drones, while Google wants to use balloons to beam its Internet.

With Internet access now being a key indicator of someone’s economic prospects, both of these ambitious projects are important to help bring the majority of the world into the future and provide them with equal opportunities.

Even more excitingly, an US Internet provider just rolled out the fastest Internet in the world – capable of downloading a feature film in one second – in a US suburb. Hopefully this will help increase competition and speeds around the rest of the world too.

But in the meantime, it’s fascinating to think about the billions of people out there who don’t have access to information (and procrastination) at the click of a button.

Source: The Washington Post, McKinsey & Company

Smartphone use continuously alters our brains and makes our thumbs more sensitive

The integration of smartphones and touchscreens with our everyday lives has occurred only recently, but right now, it’s extensive. We sit on trains and buses and use them to pass the time between destinations, we lie in bed and scroll for hours before dozing off, we check our various social media channels while sitting on the couch watching TV.

We talk about how the repetitive nature of learning an instrument or a new language changes the shape and processing power of our brains, so what is smartphone use doing to them? We’re scrolling, tapping, and swiping with our thumbs multiple times a day, in a way that humans never have before, so neuroscientists from the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich in Switzerland decided to figure out how it’s affecting our brains.

“What this means for us neuroscientists is that the digital history we carry in our pockets has an enormous amount of information on how we use our fingertips (and more),” one of the team, Arko Ghosh, told Collins at Wired UK.

The team used electroencephalography (EEG) recordings to observe how the brains of regular smartphone users work, and then compared those to the brains of people who used older, touchscreen-less phones. They

Here’s when you should be drinking your coffee, according to science

It probably doesn’t surprise you when I say that caffeine is the most widely consumed psycho-active substance on the planet. One of the most popular vehicles for caffeine consumption – coffee – is so popular, worldwide production is now over 7 million metric tonnes. If averaged out, that equates to 1.3 kg of coffee per person per year. So it’s safe to say we like the stuff.

Why? It’s not just because it tastes good and suppresses our appetites. It’s also because at a time when, as a society, we have way more things to get done than we have hours in the day, it wakes us up and keeps us going.

But not all coffee breaks are created equal. Research into the dips and peaks of hormone production in our bodies suggests that