Stories by Susannah Patton

Ideas 2003: Still searching

Monika Henzinger, born in Bavaria, Germany, enrolled at Germany's University of Saarbrücken in 1985 and promptly fell in love. The object of her affection was an arcane branch of computer science. "As an undergrad, I fell in love with the efficient algorithm," Henzinger says enthusiastically. "This was something elegant and fun. I have always liked solving problems, and finally I had found my true calling."

Written by Susannah Patton27 Jan. 03 22:00

Ideas 2003: Bye-bye batteries

Imagine chatting on your cell phone for months at a time without recharging it. Or taking a laptop on a weeklong business trip without a battery or power cord. That's the goal of scientists around the world working to perfect tiny fuel cells using microtechnology engineering.

Written by Susannah Patton26 Jan. 03 22:00

Ideas 2003: Diamonds (and grandma) are forever

Looking for a novel way to spend eternity? Consider LifeGem, a Chicago company that will turn your ashes into diamonds. Ocean lovers might prefer Eternal Reefs, a Decatur, Ga., company that mixes ashes into concrete to make artificial coral reefs that are dropped into the sea. Then there's Celebrate Life, of Lakeside, Calif., which will scatter your remains in a fireworks display. In fact, when it comes to innovative ways to use cremated remains, the sky is not the limit. Houston's Celestis has already blasted the remains of about 100 people into space, including Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

Written by Susannah Patton26 Jan. 03 22:00 settles for lower shelf

The Problem: Fell behind upstart competitor.
Barnes & Noble Inc. was slow to react to's launch in July 1995. When it did launch an e-commerce site in 1997, its online spinoff, Inc., was barraged with criticism for being slow and hard to use. What's more, there was little connection between the site and the well-known stores. It reached millions fewer online shoppers compared with Inc., and like other e-tailers it struggled with order fulfillment. By the end of 1999, had 4 million customers, compared with's 16.9 million. All told, Barnes & Noble's predicament gave rise to a new term for what happens when an online competitor knocks an established business on its heels: getting Amazoned.

Written by Susannah Patton25 Nov. 02 22:00