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Strange Business: Why Is This Popular iPhone App -- Designed to Help You Relax -- Worth $415,000?

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Plus, sharks help aviation engineers develop new cost-saving measures.

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App With Rolling Waves and Green Fields
Source: Andrea Drugay

Calm.com, a relaxation website originally geared toward Silicon Valley types and other busy workers, announced today that it received $415,000 in funding from angel investors and will launch its first iPhone (NASDAQ:AAPL) app. The website found a niche quickly among stressed executives when it generated 2 million unique views during its first day of operation last year. The new app features a program called "The 7 Steps of Calm," which guides users through meditation. To unlock the rest of the app, a customer will need to pay $4.99.

Underwater Predator Inspires Aviation Engineers

Airbus has partnered with German airline Lufthansa (ETR:LHA) to test a new shark-skin coating for airplanes. Animal lovers don't need to fret, though, as the airlines will only use a synthetic replica of shark skin rather than the real stuff. Despite appearing smooth, sharks have rough skin with jagged scales covered with longitudinal lines. The rough texture cuts down on the friction between the shark and the surrounding water, and engineers believe this design will work in the air as well. Lufthansa estimates the use of the synthetic shark skin will lower fuel costs by 1%, or $94 million at current jet fuel prices.

Smartphones in Space

A team of researchers from the University of Surrey in India have launched a "smartphone-sat," (a small satellite equipped with a Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Nexus phone) into space to test, among other things, if screams can be heard in outer space. In the second phase of the mission, the Google Nexus phone will control the satellite through several apps. Among them is the Scream in Space app, developed by Cambridge University Space Flight, which will play screams submitted by various individuals throughout the phone's six-month orbit of Earth, and the app will verify if the phone's speakers detected the shouts.

Men Should Become Nurses for Quicker Job Promotion

Male nurses comprised 10% of all nurses in 2011, according to a new Census report, compared to 8% in 2000. This small minority of men on average, though, earned $60,700 in 2011, more than their female counterparts who earned $51,000 on average in the same year. What accounts for this discrepancy? Hospitals usually hire men for full-time work, but this factor alone doesn't account for the entire pay gap as full-time female nurses see 9% less pay on average. The Census study also cited the "glass escalator" phenomenon, or when men jump up the company ladder more quickly and receive higher wages than women in female-dominated professions.

Tell Marissa Mayer That Working From Home Improves Productivity

Yahoo
(NASDAQ:YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer made headlines today for implementing a strict attendance policy at the Internet company. The privilege of working from home will be suspended because Mayer believes employees need to sit side-by-side for Yahoo to become "the absolute best place to work." Studies show this may not be the most prudent move, though. Tech giant Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) conducted an internal study and found that it saved $277 million a year by allowing employees to telecommute. Another study from California State University analyzed previous papers on the subject and couldn't find an instance where productivity increases fell short of 10% when telecommuting was allowed.

Twitter: @ChrisWitrak
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The author has a position in Cisco.
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