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What’s Sleek, Simple, and Could Help End Our Smartphone Addiction?

The Light Phone is the size of a credit card, can go weeks on a single charge, and does just one thing: make phone calls.

Be honest: Have you checked your smartphone in the last ten minutes? Twenty minutes? Are you reading this on a smart phone right now?

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Pocket Doc: 17 Year Old Builds Cell Phone Heart Monitor for Developing World

Catherine Wong wanted to improve healthcare access in remote places, so she built a cellphone-enabled EKG from parts you can get at Radio Shack.

Telehealth solutions are catching on. Tools that allow people to get digital diagnoses or remote consultations with doctors are being used both to reach underserved rural populations in the states and to expand health care access in the developing world. Big brains are working on these solutions and one of them happens to be a 17 year-old tinkerer from suburban New Jersey named Catherine Wong.

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Sky Gazing: Help NASA Gather Meteor Data This Weekend With Your Smartphone

Watch the Perseid Meteor shower this weekend (a hundred shooting stars an hour!) and help NASA at the same time. Here's how.

Never seen a shooting star? This weekend is your chance to see hundreds and NASA wants you to count them. The Perseid Meteor shower—the best of the year—will light up the pre-dawn sky Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights. So, grab a blanket and a set of binoculars and get out of Dodge. The further away from city light pollution the better shape you'll be in to make lots of wishes.

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Should Schools Go Back to 1983 Technology?

A class of suburban Chicago sixth graders gives up the internet, cable TV, and cell phones for a week—and survives.

Could you survive for a week without your smartphone, your iPod, or your new Michael Jackson Experience video game? If not, trust me, I understand. I'm ashamed to admit that my BlackBerry sleeps under my pillow. However, a classroom of suburban Chicago sixth graders managed to give up all the gadgets and technology that make our modern world go around, and guess what? They're still alive.

Inspired by a language arts unit on the "human condition," one of the students, Kelley Powell, came up with the tech abstinence experiment. Powell's teacher, Jennifer Coombs, told the Beacon-News, "Kelley e-mailed me with the suggestion that we go technology-free for a week. I asked the rest of the kids what they thought, and it sparked a great deal of enthusiasm. Over 90 percent of my students opted to take part in this.”

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Step Away from the Smartphone

It's a New Year. Maybe it's a good time to re-evaluate our ever more complicated relationship to technology.



I received an email from a friend today which, he wrote, interrupted "my year-long vow of digital semi-silence as a cellular-and-social-media-free human.” Reflecting on the hours spent on the various gadgets that surround me, I thought, 'Maybe I should take that vow in 2011.'

New York Times reporter Matt Richtel would likely think that was not a bad idea, having spent the past year on the series, Our Brain on Computers, a provocative and often jarring collection of articles exploring how the constant use of our devices impacts not only our behavior but our thought processes and even our neurology. Richtel, who won a Pulitzer in 2009 for his series of the dangers of multitasking while driving, has in the course of his research, spoken to numerous scientists who recognize the merits of technology but not unconditionally. As Richtel explained it to Teri Gross in an interview on Fresh Air earlier this year, "When you check your information, when you get a buzz in your pocket, when you get a ring — you get what they call a dopamine squirt. You get a little rush of adrenaline," he says. "Well, guess what happens in its absence? You feel bored. You're conditioned by a neurological response: 'Check me check me check me check me.' "

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