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Q&A: 9/11 lights, China currency, data boxes

9/11 Memorial's lights

How high in the sky can those lights at the 9/11 Memorial be seen?

It's unknown how high the twin beams that make up the Tribute in Light can be seen, a National September 11 Memorial & Museum spokesman told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but it's been reported that they are visible from as far as 60 miles away.

Each beam is made up of 44 custom-designed, high-intensity searchlights that are arranged in two 48-foot squares near the World Trade Center site, according to, the official website. The lights are turned on at sunset on Sept. 11 and turned off at dawn on Sept. 12 every year to mark the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.

China's currency

I recently read a story about Apple's iPhone in China and saw a currency I wasn't familiar with called the renminbi. Can you tell me more about it?

Renminbi, which means "the people's currency," is the official name of China's currency. It was introduced to communist China in 1949 and is often referred to as the yuan, which actually is a denomination in the renminbi system, according to a BBC News article. A comparable example is the British pound being a unit of the pound sterling, the name of British currency. Yuan means dollar in Chinese, but the word kuai, which is slang for yuan, like "buck" is for dollar in the United States, often is used, the article states.

A car's black box

In light of the many Progressive insurance holders who have refused the company's offer for using Snapshot, has there been a similar response to the black box that will be installed in cars in 2014? Can you tell us more about the data the black box will collect and how it will be used?

The information stored or recorded by a car's black box belongs to the car owner, but 14 states (Florida not among them) have passed laws that "law enforcement officials and those involved in civil litigation can gain access to the black boxes with a court order," the New York Times reported. "Without protections, it can lead to all kinds of abuse," Khaliah Barnes of the Electronic Privacy Information Center told the paper.

Black boxes, or event data recorders, have been in cars for decades and are in 96 percent of new vehicles sold in the United States. The National Highway Traffic Administration wants them installed in all new vehicles by September 2014. Unlike black boxes in airplanes, which constantly record conversations and aircraft performance, the recorders in cars capture data during an accident, including the speed of the vehicle, brake activity, seat belt use and air bag deployment.

Information recorded on black boxes, usually installed in the car's console, has been used in insurance investigations, to prove fault in accidents and help decide lawsuits.

Compiled from Times and wire reports. To submit a question, email

Q&A: 9/11 lights, China currency, data boxes 10/17/13 [Last modified: Friday, October 18, 2013 9:32am]
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