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Strange Business: Facebook to Save Us From Falling Debris

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Plus, art buyers go mad for anything Wild West.

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Facebook Can Even Help Predict This

More scientists have found Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) useful for data mining. Meteorologists used the information on the "Pictures and Documents Found After the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes" Facebook page to help create models that predict the fallout from tornadoes, such as the ones that tore through the southern states in 2011. A database now exists detailing the trajectory of 934 objects lifted by 15 different twisters, and the computer models may allow weather scientists and public officials to warn residents about the risk of falling debris in the event of a tornado.

Cowboys & Indians
Source: Artcyclopedia

Auction houses have seen a boom in demand for art from more contemporary artists portraying life in the Western part of the US. Notable collectors include billionaires William Koch and Philip Anschutz. Heritage Auctions specialist Kirsty Buchanan says, "A lot of the money comes from oil and ranching, well insulated from any sort of Wall Street downturn, which is why the market is still booming." Bonhams vice president Scott Levitt says auction houses have been caught off guard by the trend, but the genre's popularity has grown for more than half of a decade.

What's Your Pulse?

No need to check your pulse with your fingers anymore. Fujitsu Laboratories (TYO:6702) claims to have created new technology that works with built-in cameras in smartphones, PCs, or tablets to measure a person's heart rate. The camera measures the variations in the brightness of a person's face, which presumably determines one's pulse by monitoring blood flow. Watch for this technology to be used for health monitoring or security applications in the future.

National Retail Theft Ring Busted

Four members of a Polish "gypsy family" have been charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to commit commercial burglary and grand theft after allegedly admitting to detectives that they stole more than $3 million in electronics and merchandise. Despite confirming they carried out at least 17 thefts, the four pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The ring targeted Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stores in Manhattan Beach, Pasadena, the San Fernando Valley, and Orange Country along with Costco (NASDAQ:COST), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) stores.

How did they do it? They simply hid the merchandise in oversized purses and clothing to smuggle them out of the store then mailed the items to other locations in the country.

Ocean's 14?

A couple of con men in Australia tried taking a page from the playbook of George Clooney's and Brad Pitt's characters in Ocean's 11. While one man played cards at the Crown Casino, Australia's largest casino, his accomplice allegedly accessed the property's security cameras and began sending information to his gambling partner. Police aren't sure exactly how the pair communicated with each other -- the case is still under investigation -- but foul play was suspected when reports indicated that an unauthorized person had gained entry into the security system.

After eight hands, the fraudster allegedly walked away with $32 million. The Crown issued a withdrawal of license notice to the high roller in the middle of the night, meaning he will no longer be able to enter the Southbank complex of the Crown. His VIP services manager, who watched over him during his stay, has also been fired.

Twitter: @ChrisWitrak
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