Heat maps for the location of Tweets and Flickr photos

Orange dots = Flickr photos, blue dots = Twitter messages, white dots = both simultaneously

Have you ever wondered where people are located when they post on Twitter or take a digital photo? Eric Fischer, a programmer and designer, recently answered this question by creating a series of maps showing people’s location when they send a Twitter message or upload a photo to Flickr, the photo-sharing Web site.

The data visualization series is called “See something or say something,” and according to Mr. Fischer’s Twitter feed, uses Twitter and Flickr’s A.P.I., or application programming interface, to figure out the location and times of each photo or message. He then plots it on a map.

In the map images, Mr. Fischer chose orange dots to illustrate the location of photos uploaded to Flickr, the blue dots show Twitter messages and the white dots are the location of both services being used at the same time.

Apps like these are facile enough that I guess we no longer need suggest these folks have too much time on their hands. Although I think that’s certainly true of Mr. Fischer.

Bioengineered teeth grown from stem cells

Scientists in Japan…have created teeth — complete with connective fibers and bones — by using mouse stem cells and successfully transplanted them into mice, a step they hope will lead to progress in stem cell research.

The entire tooth units, which were inserted into lower jaws of mice, attached successfully with jaw bones and the rats were able to chew normally, the researchers wrote in a paper in PLoS One (Public Library of Science).

The bioengineered teeth were fully functional…there was no trouble (with) biting and eating food after transplantation,” wrote Masamitsu Oshima, assistant professor at the Research Institute for Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Science…

Professor Takashi Tsuji’s team removed two types of stem cells from the molar teeth of mice and grew them in the laboratory. To control the length and shape of the teeth, the cells were placed in a mold, where they grew into entire tooth units.

The entire tooth units were then transplanted into the lower jaws of one-month-old mice. They fused with the tissues and jaw bones around them after about 40 days, Tsuji said. Nerve fibers too could be detected in the new teeth.

Tsuji stressed the importance of finding the right “seed cells” for reparative therapy. In this case, entire tooth units could be grown because the stem cells were taken from molar teeth of mice — where they later grew into enamel, dental bones and other parts that comprised a regular tooth unit.

Yup. I definitely was born a half-century too soon.

Stress tests at European banks will test your credibility

The European bank stress-test results are in, and the good news is that, of 90 lenders reviewed, only eight failed: five in Spain, two in Greece and one in Austria. A ninth bank, Germany’s Landesbank Hessen-Thueringen, probably would have failed but refused to disclose its data. Sixteen others narrowly passed, the European Banking Authority concluded.

The bad news is that banking regulators say the eight test flunkers will need to raise a mere 2.5 billion euros in fresh capital by year-end. How can that be bad news? Because the number lacks credibility. Almost no one believes that’s all it will take to shore up Europe’s troubled institutions, especially if Greece or another of Europe’s fragile economies defaults on its debt, which looks increasingly likely.

By contrast, Standard & Poor’s conducted its own analysis of European banks and concluded in March that they needed as much as 250 billion euros — or much, much more than the EU’s figure — to withstand a sharp increase in yields and a severe economic downturn. The U.S. required nine banks to raise $75 billion in new equity after stress tests were conducted in the spring of 2009.

What most undermines the credibility of this latest attempt to calm Europe’s financial fears — the third in three years — is that a sovereign-debt default wasn’t among the worst-case scenarios under consideration, even though credit-default swaps already indicate an 87 percent chance that Greece won’t be able to repay its debts. Instead, European authorities looked at the ability of banks to endure an economic contraction of 0.5 percent — in other words, a mild recession — as well as a 15 percent stock-market decline, rising unemployment, a drop in housing prices and trading losses on government debt…

Even if European leaders are in denial about the level of fresh capital required to stem the contagion, they are at least giving investors the tools to begin to figure it out themselves. Stay tuned — the stress tests could yet give Europe’s bankers palpitations.

The follow-on question will be — Euro regulators must consider if they have faith in existing oversight and enforcement or will they need an equivalent of Dodd-Frank to add [a rather mild] additional layer of eyes peering at the books of self-deluded bankers?

Phone hacking phallout: CEO of Wall Street Journal resigns


Les Hinton, Rupert Murdoch

Les Hinton, the head of News Corp’s flagship American newspaper and a trusted, long-serving executive, resigned on Friday over his role in the phone-hacking scandal that has rocked Rupert Murdoch’s global media company.

He became the first high profile casualty of the controversy in the United States, where he had been chief executive of the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones, a financial news service, since Mr Murdoch’s takeover in late 2007.

In his resignation letter, Mr Hinton, 67, apologised for the “pain caused to innocent people” by repeated illegal intrusions by News of the World reporters and private detectives.

Mr Hinton was in charge of News International, Mr Murdoch’s British newspaper division, from 1997 to 2007, when most of the egregious cases of phone tampering that have come to light occurred…

He continued: “When I left News International in December 2007, I believed that the rotten element at the News of the World had been eliminated, that important lessons had been learned and that journalistic integrity was restored.

Sounds as if his departure was the event that removed the rotten element at the News of the World.

Mr Hinton had worked continuously for Mr Murdoch since joining one of the Australian newspapers that were the foundation of the News Corps operation as at the age of 15.

Few people were closer to the tycoon, and he held a variety of senior posts, including leading the Fox television station network and the American newspaper division, which includes The New York Post, before the highly prized capture of the Wall Street Journal.

Given the industrial scale of phone-tapping, bribery and other misconduct now acknowledged by the company, media experts questioned how Mr Hinton did not know what was going on…

No less culpable than Nixon or Bush – or Conrad Black and Bernie Madoff – of the crimes they committed.