iFive: China’s Nobel Rival, FBI’s Barbie Fears, Palm Out-Maneuvered, Microsoft Windows Phone Lag, Android Data Hogs

Here’s the early innovation news, in bite-sized lumps to help you get over the hump of the middle of the week:

Science fiction is colliding with reality again: Doctor Who fans will know and love his Sonic Screwdriver, used to get out of many a scrape. Now ultrasonics physicists and budding scientists in the U.K. are trying to work out how to make one for real. The theory goes that guided, frequency-tunable ultrasonics could apply forces and even undo screws remotely. On with the real news:


1. Piqued that the rest of the world loves the Nobel Peace Prize going to a Chinese dissident, the nation has decided to award its own Confucius Peace Prize. A five panel jury with government affiliations has already chosen Taiwan’s former president Lien Chan for building a “bridge of peace.” Meanwhile China’s government is busy smearing the Nobel winner, and arranging a boycott of the award ceremony. Peace? It’s all relative.

2. The FBI issued an alert to law enforcers to remind them not to overlook the Barbie Video Girl in searches of properties. The popular dolly may, the FBI worries, be used to generate child pornography–though no cases have been reported.

3. Palm CEO Jon Rubenstein revealed why Palm’s desperate bid to turn around its business with the Pre smartphone failed: Palm was simply out-maneuvered by swifter-moving competitors. It’s not “game over” for Palm, though, Rubenstein noted and the new webOS will hit on tablets and smartphones next year. Just in time to compete with iPad 2.0 and iPhone 2011.

4. Microsoft’s head of Windows Phone Joe Belfiore tells Walt Mossberg that MS doesn’t expect Windows Phones to catch up to iOS or Android-levels of success anytime soon. Maybe over many years. Which makes us think not many Windows 7 phones have crossed sales counters in the two months it’s been out. MS isn’t saying though.

5. Google’s Android phones have been revealed as the phone network’s biggest smartphone data hogs by a new study. The cell phone industry is worried about network crashes, and conveniently Verizon’s 3G network just glitched-out across the whole nation.

To read more news on this, and similar stuff, keep up with my updates by following me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

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