Thursday, November 20, 2014

Interview With Sculptor Michael Wilkinson,

Linda Cordair interviews sculptor Michael Wilkinson.

Why Coffee Is More Prone to Spills Than Beer

"Physicists Explain Why Coffee Is More Prone to Spills Than Beer"

NYT On Randi

The New York Times has a nice in-depth profile of James Randi, magician and defender of reason. Randi has done a magnificent job over the years debunking bogus paranormal claims.

Lawyers Using Fitbit Data In Personal Injury Cases

Forbes: Lawyers have started using Fitbit data in personal injury cases.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

10 Science Fiction Tropes We Will Never Get Tired Of

"10 Science Fiction Tropes We Will Never Get Tired Of"

Zoom Into A Computer Chip

"Zoom into a computer chip: Watch this video to fully appreciate just how magical modern microchips are".

As the article notes, this isn't even a state-of-the-art advanced chip.

Daily Aspirin May Not Prevent Heart Attacks

"Daily Aspirin May Not Prevent Heart Attacks"

London Taxi Driver Test

NYT: "The Knowledge, London's Legendary Taxi-Driver Test, Puts Up a Fight in the Age of GPS". (Via G.B.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Navy Laser

"US Navy Deploys Its First Laser Weapon in the Persian Gulf":
The laser can be adjusted to fire a non-lethal dazzling flash at an incoming vessel so they know it’s there “all the way to lethal,” [Rear Admiral] Klunder said. The laser’s range is classified. 

Interview With Mark Weir (Author Of The Martian)

Ars Technica has a great interview with Mark Weir, author of The Martian.

This was one of my favorite summer SF reads, and I'm glad it's being made into a movie.  (Via Howard R.)

Pixar Animation Math

"Interested In The Math Of Pixar's Animation? This Video Is Must-Watch"

NZ Gets No Respect

"World Maps Without New Zealand"

Monday, November 17, 2014

How Did The Enigma Machine work?

"How did" the Enigma machine work?" A nice clear, nonmathematical explanation.

Here's the graphic from the article, below (click through to see full sized).  And a positive review from IEEE of the upcoming movie, The Imitation Game.

Sonar Watch

"Researchers Develop $60 Sonar 'Watch' to Help Blind People Navigate". (Via Howard R.)

How Much Does Google Glass Distract You While Driving?

"How Much Does Google Glass Distract You While Driving?"

Smart (Or Too-Smart) Bombs?

NYT: "Arms makers have crossed into troubling territory: They are developing weapons that rely on artificial intelligence, not human instruction, to decide what to target and whom to kill."

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Regarding ShirtGate

Overall his shirt would have been considered inappropriate at a lot of workplace (including my own).

OTOH, I do tend to cut techie/geeky people some slack with respect to their intentions. I don't think he meant to deliberately send an anti-woman message. Rather, it's more like if he had worn a t-shirt with one of those retro Wonder Woman images on it -- wearing a costume meant to highlight her anatomy, but clearly inconvenient for fighting actual supervillains (see below).

Taylor undoubtedly thought his shirt was non-offensive, even if others might see it differently. In turn,  I might have regarded his shirt as worthy of a couple of minor eyerolls, then moving on.

I've been very surprised at the intensity and vehemence of the attacks against Taylor. I get what his critics are objecting too, but there seems something oddly disproportionate about the reaction relative to the magnitude of his deed. And I think that reflects something unhealthy about our culture -- but which I don't quite have a full handle on.

Update: For some reason, I had the scientist's name wrong -- it should be Taylor, not Martin!

Update #2: I wanted to post this thoughtful dissenting response from a female friend who is also a programmer (quoted with her permission):
I've worked with a lot of clueless poorly dressing geeks... Not a single one of them would wear a shirt like that to work. If they did their manager would do his job and tell them to change. The bigger problem here isn't that a lone man wore the shirt. It's that his management let him wear it on national TV... And if he is a manager then he should have known better.

As to why people would blow up over it?? The fact that it so casually was allowed to happen and so many of you think it's not a big deal is why. I've been lucky to not have to deal with the sexism that my fellow female programmers have had to.. But I know in the wrong company or place it is there.

This man took an amazing scientific achievement and at the same time knowingly or unknowingly slapped down thousands of woman who have worked to keep that type of imagery out of their work place. How the $&@? Can I let my little girls see that news conference with that shirt? People aren't yelling to destroy the achievement. They are yelling because they are shocked it was allowed to happen with such an achievement. The achievement deserved honor and not degrading imagery.

Imagine if it had been men in speedos or something that made another race look stupid. Would you still think it not a big deal? Women are extra angry because when it should be getting better junk like this keeps happening... And so many just give us the "oh there she goes again overreacting" stereotype.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Injunction To Enforce Godwin's Law?

Eugene Volokh: "Can one get an injunction to enforce Godwin's Law?"

Update: Link was broken -- fixed now!

Smart LED Bulb Knows When Someone Falls

"Smart LED Bulb Knows When Someone Falls":
The bulb has a 24 GHz milliwave radar, developed by Panasonic, pointing downward that can measure the distance to a person’s skull below it. If this distance suddenly and rapidly increases, the bulb assumes someone fell and uses an on-board networking chip to send a signal that can be picked up by a professional service or relayed to family or caretakers.

The bulb hanging at 3 meters above ground can cover an area of 13.2 square meters (142 sq ft). Having these bulbs throughout the house should be sufficient to cover most of the living space where accidents can happen.

Snow Rollers

"Snow Rollers: Nature's Winter Treat"

Universal Mobile Keyboard

This Universal Mobile Keyboard from Microsoft looks pretty good. And gets good reviews on Amazon.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Honest Academic Citation

"This Is What Happens When No One Proofreads an Academic Paper"

Gorgeous Time Lapse Of The Sun

"Gorgeous time lapse of the Sun"

xkcd On No-Rules NASCAR

xkcd: "If you stripped away all the rules of car racing and had a contest which was simply to get a human being around a track 200 times as fast as possible, what strategy would win? Let's say the racer has to survive."

Bostrom at Berkeley

"A video has been posted by Book TV of a talk by Nick Bostrom, a professor, Oxford University, about his book, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, where he posits a future in which machines are more intelligent than humans and questions whether intelligent machines will try to save or destroy us.

Direct link to C-SPAN video.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Princess Leia Gets Catcalls From 'Star Wars' Characters

"Dark side of the walk: Princess Leia gets catcalls from Star Wars characters"
This isn’t the catcalling video you’re looking for. Actually, maybe it is.

Youtube user Are We There Yet? made a Star Wars-themed version of this now-famous GoPro video — in which we learn that even Leia Organa, princess of Alderaan, isn't immune to catcalling on the streets of New York. Watch as Leia is followed by a familiar bounty hunter and hollered at by Yoda, Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, a gang of Jawas, an anonymous Stormtrooper and Darth Vader.

Secret Cameras At Harvard

NYT: "Secret Cameras Rekindle Privacy Debate at Harvard"

Astronauts Put A Camera Inside An Orb Of Water

"Maybe you've seen videos of astronauts playing with floating blobs of water, but how about a video shot from inside the watery blob? That's just what we have here..."

Cyborg Cockroaches

"Cyborg Cockroaches Could Save Your Life":

If you're trapped under the rubble of a collapsed building, the last thing you want to see is a swarm of cockroaches headed your way. But thanks to a group of North Carolina State University researchers, those creepy crawlies could just save your life.

The scientists have developed a technology allowing cyborg cockroaches, or biobots, to pick up and seek out sounds with a miniscule microphone, meant to help emergency personnel in the aftermath of a disaster.

(Click through to see video.)

Kids React To Old Cameras

"Kids React To Old Cameras"