MySci Round-Up, September 2: The ATM Debuts

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On this day in 1969, the automatic teller machine as we know it debuted at a Chemical Bank branch in Rockville Center, NY. The idea of using machines instead of live tellers to dispense cash wasn’t a new one. Barclays Bank in the UK installed a machine that handled out pounds in 1967, but it required printed vouchers that bank customers had to obtain in advance from human bank employees, which kind of defeated the point. Chemical Bank’s machine—built by Docutel, a Dallas automated baggage-handling equipment firm—was the first to allow customers to log in using personal bank cards with magnetized strips on them. The first version could only give out money, but in 1971, a more advanced ATM allowed customers to check their balances and perform other functions. By 1980, ATMs had proliferated across the nation, and eventually they started showing up not just outside banks but in convenience stores and other places. Today, there are an estimated one million ATMs around the world, and a new one is installed every five minutes. The average American uses one six to eight times a month, which is probably why most of us are broke all the time. And with that thought, here are some other science stories of the day.

Greenpeace leading campaign to pressure Facebook to stop using electricity from coal. 500,000 users have joined the effort to convince the social-networking company to use renewable energy to power its new data center.

Planned oil exploration in Arctic waters has environmentalists worried. Oil companies insist that they can drill in the Arctic safely, but after the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, they have a lot of doubters.

Some bacteria sacrifice themselves for the common good. The strong, antibiotic-resistant ones help the weak to survive and thrive. We’d be touched, except that they’re making us sick in the process.

Hot water around giant carbon star creates interstellar mystery.

 This could change our understanding of the chemistry of stars.

Real-time 3-D movies of developing embryos. It’s possible to watch eyes, brains and other organs form. Next thing, they’ll be singing “Chocolate Rain” and posting videos to YouTube.

Buddhist-style mindfulness meditation helps adolescent boys be happier, function better in daily life, study shows. At least, more so than Grand Theft Auto IV, skateboarding and listening to Insane Clown Posse CDs.