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May 16 2013

Japanese Human-Eating-Giants Meme Chows Down on Internet

They are at it again. Japanese kids are storming the Internet with yet another clever viral photo trend. They've already turned into wizards to play Quidditch and into Dragon Ball Z masters to hadouken, but now they have become human-eating giants. Naturally

A slew of images have cropped up online showing teens picking up their schoolmates and preparing to chomp into them, Bigfoot style

The pics are startlingly realistic, but we had no doubts about their meme abilities. Bow down (or get eaten) by the viral giants of the world

リアル進撃の巨人。 twitter.com/murai71/status…

— 村井大陸 (@murai71) April 14, 2013

More about Japan, Memes, Watercooler, Pics, and Viral Pics

May 10 2013

Do You Stink? This Robot Will Tell You

If you’re headed to an important meeting or big date, it’s probably a good idea to make sure you don’t stink. Don’t burden your friends or family members with the heinous job of sniffing your parts, enlist a robot.

Japanese company CrazyLabo teamed up with Kitakyushu National College of Technology to build a robot that looks like a bulldog and another shaped like a woman’s head.

The dog robot sniffs your feet, generating one of four responses depending on how bad the odor. If it’s particularly bad, the robot loses consciousness. If your feet smell okay, the robot will nuzzle up to you.

The female head (named “Kaori,” which can translate as “aroma,” “fragrance” or simply “smell”) does something similar. Exhale onto its face, and it will produce an answer: “Good, like citrus,” “Yuck! You have bad breath,” “No way! I can’t stand it!” and “Emergency taking place!” (These translations are a bit rough). Read more...

More about Japan, Robots, Tech, and Videos

February 07 2012

January 04 2012

Asian Social Media Users Create; Western Users Consume [STUDY]

Social media users in metropolitan China and India are much more apt to be “creators” on the platforms than their Western counterparts, according to a new report.

Forrester Research polled about 100,000 consumers in Asia, Latin America and North America in the second and third quarters of 2011, and the results show that people in emerging markets are often enthusiastic adopters of social media. Among those who have Internet access, 93% report using social media once or more a month vs. 49% in the seven European countries in the study — the U.K., France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Italy.

Consumers in emerging markets also tend to be consumers rather than creators, according to the report. In fact, 80% of Indians and 76% of Chinese fit that description, which Forrester defines as someone who publishes a blog or a website, uploads video and/or music and/or writes and posts stories once or more a month. In the U.S., the figure is 24% while in Europe it was 23%.

Reineke Reitsma, vp and research director at Forrester, says the differences are less attributable to differences in national character than respondents’ age and relative positions on the adoption curve. Overall, the Chinese and Indian people polled were younger than their U.S and European counterparts. (They were also urban — all of them were based in major cities.)

But age is only part of the equation: “In China, Brazil, even Spain instead of using email or IM people immediately go to social networking,” says Reitsma.

In comparison, consumers in mature markets such as the U.S. and Europe are using social media less for communicating than for finding and processing information. About 70% of consumers in the U.S. and Canada are deemed “spectators” in the study, meaning that they merely consume social content. About one third of people in those regions are “critics” who respond to existing social content.

One country that emerges as distinctly different in the survey is Japan, which indexes lower on social media usage than everyone else. Just 28% of Japanese visit a social networking site once or more a month and only 13% visit Facebook. Reitsma says that Japanese consumers prefer anonymity, which is why Twitter and mixi are more popular.

What do you think? Are you a creator or a consumer of social media content? Sound off in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, kizilkayaphotos

More About: Brazil, china, Facebook, india, japan, Social Media, Twitter

December 14 2011

Google Maps Shows Street Views of Post-Tsunami Japan [VIDEO]

Google has unveiled an online archive of before and after photos from its Street View cameras, revealing the devastation in Japan after the March tsunami.

“In the case of the post-tsunami imagery of Japan, we hope this particular digital archiving project will be useful to researchers and scientists who study the effects of natural disasters,” wrote Kei Kawai, Senior Product Manager of Street View, in a blog post. “We also believe that the imagery is a useful tool for anyone around the world who wants to better understand the extent of the damage.”

You can view Google’s dedicated website here.

More About: Google, google street view, japan, Japan Tsunami, mashable video

October 18 2011

NASA and Japan Unleash World’s Best Topographic Map of Earth [PICS]

Example One From the Map

Images taken aboard NASA's Terra spacecraft helped NASA and METI update the world's most complete topographic map.

This is what Terra captured of California's Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous U.S.

Image courtesy of NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS,and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Click here to view this gallery.

NASA and Japan have published a new version of the world’s most complete digital topographic map. It could potentially help people across the globe plan highways, search for natural resources and protect lands with cultural or environmental significance.

Using images taken aboard NASA‘s Terra spacecraft, the free online map now features improved spatial resolution, increased horizontal and vertical accuracy, more realistic coverage over water bodies and the ability to identify lakes as small as 0.6 miles in diameter. The map, often referred to as a global digital elevation model, is an update of the one released in 2009.

SEE ALSO: 23 Twitter Accounts for Space Lovers | Space Travel Milestones

This map gives viewers the “highest-resolution global topography data available,” says Mike Abrams, ASTER science team leader at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

An instrument on Terra called ASTER — Japan’s Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer — captured the images. The map creators then improved 2009′s map with 260,000 new stereo-pair images. A stereo-pair image is two images merged offset together to provide a 3D effect.

The pictures above and video below display validated results of the joint topography project between NASA and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which aim to help Group on Earth Observations monitor and forecast global environmental changes.

The ASTER data cover 99% of Earth’s landmass and span from 83 degrees north latitude to 83 degrees south, and each elevation measurement point in the data is 98 feet apart.

More About: Earth, japan, NASA, space

September 01 2011

Hulu Goes International With Japan Launch

Popular streaming service Hulu is now available to customers in Japan, as part of the company’s first international expansion.

Japanese viewers will not have free access to Hulu.com, but rather its Hulu Plus service, in which content can be accessed on the web, via connected devices and video game consoles, and on smartphones and tablets.

Hulu has secured licensing deals with Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Walt Disney Japan, Warner Bros., NBC Universal and CBS. The company, which is currently on the sales block, says it will be working to bring Japanese-produced content to the service, as well as content from across the Asian region.

The price of Hulu in Japan is ¥1,480 per month, or the equivalent of $19.99. That’s more than twice the price of Hulu’s U.S. offering, but considering all the international licensing deals, it’s probably a bargain for Japanese consumers who want access to American content.

On its blog, Hulu notes it has localized its user experience, by making the service available in both Japanese and English. Hulu Japan has also partnered with NTT Docomo, Japan’s largest mobile carrier. The details of this partnership haven’t been released yet, but we imagine it will likely integrate well with NTT Docomo’s other offerings.

During its last quarterly earnings call, Netflix mentioned plans for international expansion. Rather than going after markets like Japan that have a well-entrenched digital ecosystem, Netflix will first target Latin America. It’s clear that in this new world of content distribution, international partnerships are going to become important, if not essential.

More About: entertainment, hulu, japan, subscription streaming, tv

For more Media coverage:

July 11 2011

Got a Minute? Website Requires You To Sit Still for Japan Memorial

sun image

July 11 marks four months since the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that slammed Japan’s coastline. The natural disaster claimed thousands of lives, wrecked massive damage and caused a disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Even though the initial trauma may be over, there is still much rebuilding and emotional recovery to be done. This was the impetus behind Still for Japan, a website that asks people around the world to observe a minute of still contemplation.

Indeed, the only way to see the website is to keep still for 60 seconds. Any typing or movement of your mouse will cause the screen to pause until you stop fidgeting. The site draws influence from donothingfor2minutes.com, a viral sensation that also required viewers to sit still.

Still for Japan adapts that principle and puts it towards a good cause. As viewers sit, they are greeted by woodblock-style illustrations and a giant sun. The sun rises, revealing information about the disaster and words of support and Japanese proverbs, such as “In adversity we are saved by hope. Perseverance is strength.” The site is a collaboration between VCU Brand Center, McKinney and Clear Channel, which will be donating space on its Times Square digital billboard and its radio stations across New York.

japan map image

The initial goal of the campaign is to reach 180,000 minutes of stillness, one for every dead, injured, missed, orphaned, homeless and radiation victim from the disaster. The second is to reach 1,031,704 minutes, the number of people in the Sendai Prefecture.

The idea came from Kaede Seville, a New York-based Japanese reporter, who wanted to show Japan that the world still supports it. She teamed up with 27 students at VCU Brandcenter to make the site a reality.

After sitting through 60 seconds, viewers are presented with a map of minutes, a short video about the project and a way to share their support through various social platforms.

As the website says: “After a tragedy, one of the most comforting feelings is to know you are not alone.”

What do you think of donating time instead of money? Is emotional support just as important as the huge outpouring of financial support? Let us know in the comments below.

More About: charity, japan, japan earthquake, non-profit, social good, still for japan, tsunami

For more Social Good coverage:

July 04 2011

Scientists Discover Large Deposit of Rare Minerals Used in iPads

ipad image

A huge deposit of “rare earth” minerals has been discovered on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, Reuters reports.

Japanese scientists announced their analysis of the deposits Monday, claiming the area around Hawaii is especially rich in minerals that help build iPads, LCD TVs and other electronic devices.

Prior to this discovery, manufacturers and environmentalists alike expressed concern over the limited and dwindling supply of rare earth minerals. However, experts report that the minerals found in the Pacific may reinforce known land supply by 1,000 times.

The mud is rich in rare earth minerals like gadolinium, lutetium, terbium and dysprosium, which are especially important in the manufacturing of technology like hybrid cars and flat screens. China, which currently produces 97% of the world’s rare earth metals, has at times threatened to cut exports of the materials, leading to fear that the prices of electronic devices could soar.

Now, China’s near monopoly is threatened as scientists say that ocean bed extraction from this particular region should be relatively simple using acid leaching techniques.

“The deposits have a heavy concentration of rare earths. Just one sq km (0.4 sq mile) of deposits will be able to provide one-fifth of the current global annual consumption,” Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor of earth science at the University of Tokyo, said in a Guardian.co.uk interview.

More About: environment, ipad, japan, pacific, Science, tech, technology

For more Tech & Gadgets coverage:

May 26 2011

Hello Bar Sees 200M Installs to Help Japan, Announces Pro Version [INVITES]

The makers of the Hello Bar, a dead-simple web design feature anyone can use on a site, have told Mashable that the company has served more than 200 million Hello Bars to help Japan.

The company conservatively estimates the tool helped raise $2 million for the Red Cross and other organizations working to help the Japanese people recover from a string of natural and nuclear disasters.

“We had some heavy hitters like the Seattle Seahawks using it,” writes Chuck Longanecker of digitaltelepathy, the web shop that created the Hello Bar as well as SlideDeck, the popular JavaScript image slider.

Longanecker said of consumers’ use of the Hello Bar during the Japan crises, “It’s inspired us to continue to support causes with out platform.”

Other big news includes the official launch of the tool’s Pro version. All users will get a free 2-week trial of Hello Bar Pro, after which the upgrade will cost $25 per month.

In addition to the tool’s usual features (a slim bar that sits atop your site for as long as you tell it to, delivering customized text, links and design), Hello Bar Pro will also give users:

  • A/B testing tools to see which text, links and colors are most effective
  • Advanced statistics, including A/B results
  • Dynamic Hello Bars that pull text and links from RSS feeds
  • Up to 10 Hello Bars, all free of Hello Bar branding
  • An always-on-top feature that keeps the Hello Bar in view during scrolling

If you don’t currently have Hello Bar access and would like to try it out, just go to the Hello Bar website and use the invite key mashable. That key will be good for the first 500 people.

More About: hello bar, japan

For more Dev & Design coverage:

April 17 2011

April 07 2011

Another Earthquake Hits Japan, “Damn Japan” Starts Trending on Twitter

Almost one month after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami devastated the northeastern coast of Japan, another quake, accompanied by a tsunami warning, has hit the country.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the 7.1-magnitude earthquake hit the east coast of Honshu, in Japan’s northeast region, at 10:32 a.m. ET. There have been hundreds of aftershocks in the region since the March 11 quake, but this is by the far the strongest (none of the others surpassed 7.0).

The denizens of Twitter are rapidly spreading the news via the microblogging site, most expressing shock that such an incident has occurred again.

However, oddly, “Damn Japan” has become a worldwide trending topic in the past few minutes. Still, despite the rather negative look of the topic, most tweets are along the lines of: “Damn another earthquake and tsunami warning in Japan? :(”

We’ll keep you updated as we hear more. In the meantime, here’s a roundup of our coverage of social media and technology as it relates to the events in Japan, and ways you can help:

Image courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey

More About: damn-japan, japan earthquake, twitter

For more Social Media coverage:

April 06 2011

All-Star Chefs Create Digital Cookbook to Help #Japan

cupcake image

You can learn a lot about a culture through its cuisine. KeepRecipes.com is using that connection to raise money for the Red Cross Japan earthquake and tsunami relief fund.

The website aims to be an iTunes for recipes by collecting and eventually selling recipes from amateur chefs and top pros alike. Some of those professional chefs have teamed up to offer their signature dishes for charity. KeepRecipes for Recovery launched Wednesday and will feature 21 Japan-inspired recipes from chefs including Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Anita Lo, Eric Gower, Mayumi Nishimura and Marc Spitzer. The cookbook will be available as a digital download for donations of $10 or more. KeepRecipes will donate 86 cents for every dollar of revenue to the American Red Cross.

donate image

Phil Michaelson, the creator of KeepRecipes, said he came up with the charity idea when certain Japanese products, like mushrooms, started to become scarce following the disaster. KeepRecipes for Recovery was a way of combining the culinary traditions of the country with a way to give back. Users can request membership to the site or automatically be approved by donating to the Red Cross. Right now the all-star recipes are for charity, but they will eventually head toward a pay model, said Michaelson.

“I do think that recipes are a great way to connect people,” Michaelson said. “When I cook [a chef's] dish I feel that connection to Japan. So it’s definitely about the chefs who are cooking those recipes and their connection with the culture.”

chefs image

It’s a sense of solidarity not lost on chef Gower. “Japan is suffering from its worst crisis since WWII,” Gower said in an email. “It can use both monetary help and a sense of solidarity with others.” Gower is offering recipes for miso orange roasted chicken and umeboshi scallops.

It hits even closer to home for Spitzer, executive chef at BONDST, a renowned Japanese restaurant in New York. “As a human being your initial response should be what can I do? How can I help? But as a chef that has gotten so much from Japan in tradition, culture, food and its people — the answer is as much as I can,” Spitzer said. He also created a special roll for his menu with 100% of the proceeds also going to the Red Cross. His offered recipe is Japanese Thai snapper tacos.

food image

The recipes run the gamut from traditional (Lo’s trio of steamer clams) to the more eccentric (Morimoto’s tuna pizza with anchovy aioli). Regardless of your personal taste or culinary daring, the project’s primary goal is raising money for the relief effort. KeepRecipes has managed to not only create a platform but a digital connection to the people and culture it’s trying to help.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Cillian Storm

More About: charity, Food, japan, japan earthquake, keeprecipes, non-profit, red cross, social good

For more Social Good coverage:

April 02 2011

Tsunami Victim: Dog Rescued After 3 Weeks Adrift [VIDEO]

Check out this little tsunami victim, a dog that somehow stayed alive on a floating pile of rubble with a roof on top for three weeks before the Japanese Coast Guard rescued him.

If a dog can stay alive under these conditions, couldn’t a human? That’s an important question, because there are still 18,000 tsunami and earthquake victims missing in Japan, with little hope for their survival.

How did this dog stay alive? While dogs and humans can survive for three weeks without food, they can’t go longer than a couple of days without water. Floating in the ocean off the coast of Japan, the dog was surrounded by salt water, but like a human in the same situation, that wouldn’t have kept him alive — according to the Department of Energy’s Ask a Scientist website:

Humans can’t drink salt water because the kidneys can only make urine that is less salty than salt water. Therefore, to get rid of all the excess salt taken in by drinking salt water, you have to urinate more water than you drank, so you die of dehydration.

It must have been a rainy three weeks aboard this ragtag vessel, where small collected pools of fresh water must have kept the dog alive.

It’s probably too late for more survivors to be found, but it’s not too late for you to help earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan. Here’s how.

More About: Coast Guard, dog, japan, Rescue, Survivor, tsunami, video

For more Video coverage:

March 31 2011

March 25 2011

Gaga & Bieber Together At Last: “Songs for Japan” Charity Album Hits iTunes

To help raise money for disaster relief efforts in Japan, Universal Music Group has assembled a who’s who of the music world for a benefit album called Songs for Japan, which hit iTunes Friday. It includes an exclusive remix of Lady Gaga’s latest chart-topping single, “Born This Way.”

The 38-track album [iTunes link] costs $9.99 and features popular tunes in original, remastered, live or acoustic formats from Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Justin Bieber, Eminem, Katy Perry and other superstars (see full list below).

Worldwide proceeds from album downloads will go to the Japanese Red Cross Society to provide immediate assistance to people affected by the March 11 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The participating artists, their labels and music publishers waived their royalties, meaning every cent from each album download helps survivors.

This global initiative — one of the many new ways people can help Japan — is akin to the star-studded fundraising efforts following the destructive 2010 earthquake in Haiti when celebrities joined forces for a telethon and a new “We Are The World” charity single.

What do you think of the Songs for Japan lineup? Let us know in the comments.

Track listing

  • John Lennon — “Imagine” (Remastered)
  • U2 — “Walk On”
  • Bob Dylan — “Shelter From The Storm”
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers — “Around The World” (Live)
  • Lady Gaga — “Born This Way” (Starsmith remix)
  • Beyonce — “Irreplaceable”
  • Bruno Mars — “Talking To The Moon” (Acoustic piano version)
  • Katy Perry — “Firework”
  • Rihanna — “Only Girl (In The World)”
  • Justin Timberlake — “Like I Love You”
  • Madonna — “Miles Away” (Live)
  • David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland — “When Love Takes Over”
  • Eminem featuring Rihanna — “Love The Way You Lie” (Clean version)
  • Bruce Springsteen — “Human Touch”
  • Josh Groban — “Awake” (Live)
  • Keith Urban — “Better Life”
  • Black Eyed Peas — “One Tribe”
  • Pink — “Sober”
  • Cee Lo Green — “It’s Ok”
  • Lady Antebellum — “I Run To You”
  • Bon Jovi — “What Do You Got?”
  • Foo Fighters — “My Hero”
  • R.E.M. — “Man On The Moon” (Live)
  • Nicki Minaj — “Save Me” (Clean version)
  • Sade — “By Your Side”
  • Michael Buble — “Hold On”
  • Justin Bieber — “Pray” (Acoustic)
  • Adele — “Make You Feel My Love”
  • Enya — “If I Could Be Where You Are”
  • Elton John — “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”
  • John Mayer — “Waiting On The World To Change”
  • Queen — “Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)” (Remastered)
  • Kings Of Leon — “Use Somebody”
  • Sting — “Fragile” (Live)
  • Leona Lewis — “Better In Time”
  • Ne-Yo — “One In A Million”
  • Shakira — “Whenever, Wherever”
  • Norah Jones — “Sunrise”

More About: itunes, japan, japan earthquake, justin bieber, Lady Gaga, music, social good

For more Social Good coverage:

8 Ways To Help #Japan After the Earthquake

japan help image

Despite some tentatively good news surrounding Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the country is still reeling from the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit its shores just two weeks ago.

There has been a huge outpouring of support for Japan as it weathers the aftershocks and aftereffects of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Social media has been no slouch with nearly countless campaigns aimed at donating money, supplies or lending support in any way possible.

Mashable brought you seven other ways to help, and we’re back with even more ways that you can assist the on-going relief efforts. Some are as lighthearted as a T-shirt from Snoop Dogg while others support on-the-ground rescue workers. Let us know how you’re helping.

How You Can Help

#Hands4Japan on Crowdrise

crowdrise image

Two Japanese-born venture capitalist brothers started a campaign on Crowdrise in support of the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter. They’ve offered to match donations until the campaign reaches its total goal of $1 million. In just four days, the brothers and their family raised more than $225,000 (with matching donations), at time of writing that number is nearly $325,000. The family said most of those donations were for amounts of less than $50.


twestival imageTwesitval is an international charity event that uses social media to help organize local meet-ups around the world. This year’s Twestival had several meet-ups planned for Japan but those had to be canceled because of the need for help following the earthquake and tsunami.

Instead, Twestival opened a special channel of its site where people can donate to Save the Children’s Japan Initiative.


The popular online payment site has offered to credit transactional fees incurred from March 11 to April 10 to any registered charity in the U.S. or Canada raising funds to aid Japan relief. (For the U.S., any 501(c)(3), and for Canada, any under the Canada Revenue Agency). PayPal members can also donate directly here (U.S.) or here (Canada).

Clothing & Shopping

threadless image

Threadless, the online clothing vendor jumped into the effort by running a short, crowd-sourced contest to come up with a t-shirt design that could be sold to help Japan. The winner, based on the theme “sunrise,” is available for $20. All of the net proceeds from the sale will be donated to the American Red Cross‘ Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami fund. The shirt is part of Threadless Causes, an initiative to help non-profits and causes through its sales.

snoop dogg image

Snoop Dogg and Neff Headwear have teamed up to help Japan by creating a t-shirt in which all profits will be donated to Operation U.S.A.. The pair are hoping to raise $50,000 in funds in one week.

shop image

Shop for Japan is a one-day global shopping event happening Saturday, March 26. Businesses can sign up at the site to pledge a percent of their revenue from that day to go toward charity. The site also has a list and map of participating stores.


tweetdrive imageThis social good community has organized #TweetDrive4Japan.

The campaign is an international series of tweets-ups from March 29 to 31 where 100% of ticket sales from each event will go to the Save the Children‘s emergency Japan relief fund.


japan image

Ever since Haiti was hit by an earthquake, text-to-donate has been a huge trend — and a huge help — in times of need. The Japan crisis has spawned several options:

  • MobileCause has shortcodes for the Salvation Army (text “JAPAN” to “80888 for a $10 donation), the International Medical Corps (text “MED” to “80888″ for a $10 donation), and ADRA Relief (text “SUPPORT” to “85944″ for a $10 donation).
  • MobileGiving promises a 100% pass-through of all funds for shortcodes to Save the Children Federation (text “JAPAN” or “TSUNAMI” to 20222 to donate $10), World Vision (text “4JAPAN” or “4TSUNAMI” to 20222 to donate $10), the Mercy Corps (text “MERCY” to 25383 to donate $10), the Canadian Red Cross (text “ASIA” or “ASIE“ to 30333 to donate $5), and Canadian Salvation Army (text “QUAKE” to 45678 to donate $10).
  • Obopay lets consumers make larger donations (in the hundreds) that, according to Obopay, reach organizations faster than carrier-based text-to-donate plans. Donors can text “Japan” to “48510″ where they’re taken to a mobile payment site complete with electronic tax receipt.


jiwire imageJiWire has offered it’s location-based ad network of Wi-Fi hotspots and mobile apps by running a campaign in support for the Red Cross. The ads will let users know about nearby Red Cross locations as well as options to donate through text.

It’s a nice example of an ad platform maximizing its reach and geo-location possibilities to serve a good cause.


tumblr image

Tumblr recently announced the addition of Japanese as the newest language option for the blogging network. Users will be able to change their language setting on the preferences page, opening new opportunities for outreach for native-speakers and supporters abroad. Users can also keep up with news from Japan on Tumblr’s #Japan tag page or donate to the Red Cross from the dashboard. Donating will unlock a Limited Edition Japanese Tumblr Logo and the company will match donations up to $15,000.

The last time Tumblr opened special features was its all-black background to promote awareness and raise funds following the Gulf oil leak.

Next Steps

Before donating to any sites or organizations, make sure you do a little bit of homework. It’s important to know about any transaction fees and to double check that the site will actually donate to the (registered) charity as promised. Disasters are unfortunately prime targets for scammers who try and play off the public’s genuine sympathy and desire to help. Organizations like the Red Cross are generally above-board and provide up-front information on how your money is being spent. It’s important to help in times of crisis, but it’s also important to make sure your support isn’t being misused.

There are definitely other ways to help the relief efforts outside of the options above. Please share in the comments your hashtags, newsfeeds, non-profits, campaigns or any other ways to help Japan.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Yashar.Mans

More About: charity, Earthquake, japan, japan earthquake, non-profit, social good, tsunami

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March 21 2011

Radiation Dosage & Its Sources Explained [CHART]

Fear and uncertainty continue to grow around the condition of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. There has been a fervent struggle to keep the plant’s reactors from achieving a partial or complete meltdown after the devastating earthquake in Japan and Pacific tsunami damaged the plant and knocked out the backup power needed to cool its radioactive fuel rods.

Naturally, the events in Japan have people curious, frightened and confused about the potential impact of not only the Fukushima plant’s radiation, but on the impact of nuclear power plants and radiation in general on the body. Even friends have asked me if they should evacuate the U.S. West Coast just in case radiation from Japan travels across the Pacific Ocean.

Until now, I haven’t had a good way to explain why they shouldn’t worry about radiation from Japan, especially given the many other sources of radiation we encounter on a daily basis. However, Randall Munroe of XKCD has solved that problem by putting together a very informative chart explaining and visualizing radiation doses and their sources. Although we don’t suggest living by this chart, it’s a good general education tool for understanding the effect of radiation absorption.

We encounter sources of radiation every day, from natural background radiation to bananas. (Yes, bananas emit gamma rays, but you’d have to eat 5 million bananas in one sitting to get any kind of radiation sickness.) The absorption of this radiation is measured in units called the sievert (Sv). As the chart explains, we absorb approximately 0.1 microsieverts (μSv) of radiation per day from eating a banana, 10 μSv from background radiation and 20 μSv from a chest x-ray. That’s more than the radiation you’ll absorb from living within 50 miles of a power plant (0.09 μSv). Even a coal power plant generates more radiation (0.3 μSv) because coal has trace amounts of uranium.

It takes a lot more radiation to actually cause harm to a person, although, the maximum yearly dose permitted for a U.S. radiation worker is 50 millisieverts (mSv), more than 200 times the exposure received from a typical X-ray. It takes double that amount though (100 mSv) for an increased risk of cancer and a full 2,000 mSv for severe radiation poisoning to occur.

For a more detailed explanation of radiation dosage, check out the XKCD chart below. Click on the image to see a full-sized version:

Image courtesy of Flickr, zfmg!

More About: japan, japan earthquake, Japan Tsunami, Nuclear, Radiation, xkcd

For more Tech & Gadgets coverage:

March 20 2011

New Website Crowdsources Japan Radiation Data

Still in the throes of a nuclear disaster, Japanese residents need reliable information about radiation levels throughout the country. Now a website was just started to crowdsource radiation data collected by private citizens.

The site, RDTN.org, urges its visitors to purchase a radiation detection device, take readings in their area, and then post those readings to the site for all to see. To submit those readings, the site offers a form to enter which equipment was used, when the reading was taken, and the longitude and latitude of the location.

Then, the purveyors of the site plan to add that data to places on its map, coordinating it with readings from the government. They hope the result will be a more detailed and timely look at radiation levels throughout the country. Says the site, “With conflicting reports of radiation levels in affected areas, we wanted to build a way to report and see data in an unbiased format.”

Those at RDTN.org emphasized that their crowdsourced information is not intended to replace government data, but hope that “data sets from various sources can provide additional context to the official word in these rapidly changing events.”

Great idea. However, these radiation detection devices aren’t cheap — from the links provided on the site, you’d have to spend hundreds of dollars for a good one, if you can find one that’s not backordered. At the same time, people living in the most afflicted areas probably have basic survival issues to deal with, taking priority over purchasing some pricey gadget to measure radiation.

That said, even if only a dozen additional readings are submitted to the site, that’s important information that could serve to verify government data.

[via Boing Boing]

More About: crowdsourced, japan, Nuclear, Radiation, RDTN.org, websites

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March 19 2011

Top 10 Twitter Trends This Week [CHART]

Twitter Chart Image

As expected, the devastation in Japan from last week’s earthquake and tsunami captured the thoughts of Twitter users from around the world, and an outpouring of sentiment (which included the popular hashtag #PrayForJapan), made this topic number one. If you’d like to make a donation to the relief efforts in Japan, which are still underway, here are some options:

Meanwhile, in Orange Country, California, a pop singing sensation was in the making. 13-year-old Rebecca Black, whose parents paid about $2,000 to the label Ark Music Factory to produce a song and music video, has had the entire Internet captivated for days. Following the tweeted discovery of the video by comedians Michael J. Nelson and Daniel Tosh, and the subsequent blogosphere frenzy, Black’s name has rarely left the trending topics list since last Friday, and lands at number two on this week’s chart. Speculation persists about what made this catchy pop tune such a viral powerhouse. The song is face-meltingly bad.

Soccer, no surprise, continues to trend strongly, and rounds out the top three topics this week.

For the full list of top trends, check out the chart below, compiled by our friends at What the Trend. Because this is a topical list, hashtag memes and games have been omitted from the chart.

You can check past Twitter trends in our Top Twitter Topics section, and read more about this past week’s trends on What The Trend.

Top Twitter Trends This Week: 3/11 – 3/18

Top trend illustration courtesy of SoftFacade.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, 123render

Interested in more Twitter resources? Check out Mashable Explore, a new way to discover information on your favorite Mashable topics.

More About: japan, List, Lists, Rebecca Black, soccer, social media, Top Twitter Topics, twitter, Twitter Lists

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