Sunday, March 31, 2002

The best way to teach your kid physics? Have them play computer games.
Take a deep breath: The "Yoga Inside" Foundation in Ventura, California is being warned by Intel that their name may constitute trademark infringement. According to the article, Intel's lawyers argue that "the linguistic construction '(Blank) Inside,' whether concerning state-of-the-art technology or a centuries-old spiritual practice, should uniquely belong to the chipmaker."
Because today is Easter, GeekPress presents this handy guide to various DVD and software Easter Eggs!

Saturday, March 30, 2002

Oklahoma's first spaceport is now open, although the maiden launch scheduled for 3/23/2002 was postponed because of heavy winds. More background information on the Oklahoma Burns Flat Spaceport is available in this kuro5hin article.
Easter holiday science experiments take a morbid turn...
I hope I didn't throw away one of these top ten baseball cards when I was a kid.
"Sit. Speak. Good Photon!" Good review article on the methods physicists use to trap photons and preserve their quantum state.

Friday, March 29, 2002

"Virtual kingdom richer than Bulgaria": The virtual kingdom of Norrath -- the setting for the game Everquest -- is the 77th richest country on earth, "sandwiched between Russian and Bulgaria."
Painting on a 3-dimensional canvas is now possible with the virtual "Body Brush".
Another deadly time waster: The on-line LEGO Builder. (Via Metafilter.)
Interesting shareware statistics: Very few people end up paying for shareware. According to this article, "If you make your program just have a 'nag' screen, you can expect about 0.25 percent of people who try it to register it... If you make it a time-limited demo, you will typically get this up to 0.5 percent of people. If you limit the features, you can typically get around 1 percent."
Which fledgling nanotech company will be the next Intel or Apple? Investors might be interested in this market analysis from Forbes.

Thursday, March 28, 2002

The state of Kentucky is considering purchasing a submarine in order to patrol the Ohio River and "to engage and destroy any casino riverboats that the submarine may encounter."
Thank God I'm an atheist, otherwise I'd be offended by
I want my own personal anti-noise machine.
Pull my finger: Scientists in India have discovered that irradiated beans make you fart less. (Via Wonkoslice.)
Why does spinning an egg cause it to stand up? This behaviour seems counterintuitive because the center of gravity of the egg rises. But two mathematicians have figured out why -- it's all in the friction.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Scientists studying artificial societies have found that they exhibit eerie similarities to our own, including ethnic self-segregation, artificial "genocide", and interesting patterns in the spread of honesty-vs-corruption. All public policy wonks should read this.
What caused the greatest mass extinction in earth's history? Yes, you guessed it -- methane gas.
For the swimmer who has everything: A portable electronic anti-shark unit. Just make sure you know when your two hours of protection are up...
Apple has kicked out a programmer from participating in its Darwin open source project because he's too young.
Spyware vs. Anti-spyware: Makers of computer spyware (which secretly monitor computer keystrokes) are upset at anti-spyware that alerts users to the presence of spyware. Hence they've released upgrades which include countermeasures that disable the anti-spyware. Needless to say, the anti-spyware people plan on developing counter-countermeasures... (Via Techdirt.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

The Music of Life: To get around the 17-year lifespan on DNA patents, a California biotech firm is thinking of encoding a DNA sequence as a piece of digital music, then copyrighting the MP3 file. This would give it rights to the sequence for 100 years, rather than merely 17. (Via NewsTrolls.)
A robotic dog for the Terminator: If you think the Sony Aibo is too cuddly, then maybe you should consider the T7S Type 2 robotic guard dog from Sanyo. It's much more sinister looking.
If you have a weak stomach, then don't look at this news photograph of a severed head of a terrorist.
If you need to make an off-color remark but you're stuck in the same room as your grandmother, you can always count on the Euphemism Generator to save you.
Electronics has been great, but photonics could be even greater.
"Six degrees of separation" probably false: It's almost universally accepted as a fact that any two people are separated by no more than six links of acquaintances. However, a re-analysis of the data from the original study shows that this is probably "the academic equivalent of an urban myth."

Monday, March 25, 2002

Why stick people are extinct...
Physicists will be looking for microscopic black holes created by the Large Hadron Collider once it comes on line in a few years. Two independent groups of physicists predict that it will generate a black hole once every second(!)
Politicians sure love their phone spam.
A Japanese scientist has used stem cells to create working frog eyes. These eyes have been successfully transplanted into blind tadpoles, restoring their sight.
Table-top nuclear fusion? You may have read some of the recent articles about this alleged breakthrough, but here is some fascinating behind-the-scenes information about the article's publication history.

Sunday, March 24, 2002

"Millionaire" contestant wins then loses top prize due to computer glitch: The recent jackpot winner of Thailand's version of "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" was forced to give back the top prize of 1 million baht (approximately $23,000) because the wrong computer cable was inadvertently plugged into her monitor (instead of the moderator's monitor), thus highlighting all of the correct answers. She was honest enough to admit what had happened, and was allowed to play the game one more time. On her second attempt she only won 25,000 baht (~ $576.00), proving once again that no good deed goes unpunished...
Thinking of buying your own private island? Forbes has some tips for the novice buyer here and here.
Grave sentiments: I recently saw an e-mail about an unbelievable headstone in Montreal which contained a cleverly concealed insult. I wasn't sure if it was an urban legend or not, but the ever-reliable has confirmed that it's true. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
Worried about being kidnapped? According to this article, you may soon be able to implant a tiny VeriChip with a GPS tracking device into your body. (I have no objection to anyone who wishes to purchase this device on a private, voluntary basis. Of course, the big question is whether governments will someday mandate this sort of device in the name of "public safety".)
"Nano-Newt": Apparently, one of the country's biggest nanotech supporters is Newt Gingrich(!)

Saturday, March 23, 2002

Lawyers can now serve legal documents via e-mail.
Cell phone battery run out in the middle of nowhere? Recharge it with this clever hand-crank device.
Although the Chinese government attempts to censor the internet, they are unable to keep up with the proliferation of blogs.

Friday, March 22, 2002

"MyLife" virus spreads: Most computer viruses are boring, but this one is interesting because it's spread via an e-mail which includes a line which (falsely) claims that it's been ceritified by McAfee as "virus free".
The so-called Digital Divide is largely fiction.
Women more efficient websurfers than men: According to this article, women "know what they want from the internet and spend less time than men getting it" than men, spending their time in a more purposeful and efficient fashion for shopping, making travel arrangements, etc. (What the author of the article doesn't realize is that we men aren't inefficient -- we're simply taking our time to enjoy the ambiance of the internet...)

Thursday, March 21, 2002

The next secret military weapon? A super-slippery gelatinous goo called the Mobility Denial System (MDS). When spread on floors, walls, or any other surface, it apparently prevents the enemy from walking, driving, or climbing on that surface. Of course, the US military is also working on (classified) countermeasures to help defeat this system...
Anti-plagiarism software sparks controversy: The Economist has an excellent overview of anti-plagiarism software used by teachers to catch cheaters. Interestingly enough, although many good schools like Duke and Rutgers are using it, many of the top-notch schools like Harvard are not. One person quoted in the article suggests that this is because places like Harvard don't want any cheating to be exposed. The article also discusses a recent incident in which a high school biology teacher in Kansas used this software and discovered that 28 out of 118 of her students plagiarized their botany projects. After she flunked them, the school board caved into protests from angry parents and overturned the flunking grades. The teacher then resigned in protest, igniting a firestorm of controversy in this small town.
How much is an empty cardboard box worth? If it's the original box for one of the 1984 Macintosh computers, it can sell for over $500 on eBay -- more than the computer itself would worth be these days. (Sometimes I don't understand the "efficient market"...)

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

The BBC reported on the allegedly shockingly fast collapse and disintegration of the Larsen Ice Shelf. Predictably, Slashdot was very melodramatic about it: "This is terrible news." But a followup story in today's Smarter Times gives a slightly more historical perspective.
Tasteless business practice of the day: A videogame company now wants to advertise its latest title on gravestones. This is apparently a legitimate business offer, which they believe will "particularly interest poorer families" of the deceased. (Via GMSV.)
Why settle for a standard microscope when you can use a "microscope that can be placed inside a living cell, enabling scientists to examine individual molecules"? (Note: the rest of the article doesn't quite seem to support the bold quote taken from the first sentence. But it's still a pretty impressive device.)
Malcolm Gladwell explains why despite all the marvels of our computerized age our offices will never get rid of paper. (Via ALD.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Teen culture update: A handy guide to the latest 9/11 slang.
Pro-choice, anti-cloning? Some noted pro-choice abortion-rights leaders (including Judy Norsigian, executive director of the Boston Women's Health Book Collective and co-author of Our Bodies Our Selves) have issued a statement opposing human cloning research.

Monday, March 18, 2002

Why do cars in the other lane of the highway always seem to be going faster than you? One group of scientists argue that it's just a perceptual illusion. On the other hand, a Yale philosopher using the anthropic principle argues that they really do go faster.
Don't mess with airport security -- real-life cyborg learns that "resistance is futile". Due to increased airport security measures, Canadian engineering professor Steve Mann was forced to unplug all his cybernetic implants that help him augment his memory and vision. According to the article, Mann (who has worn these implants continously for 20 years!), found the experience extremely disorienting: "Without a fully functional system, he said, he found it difficult to navigate normally. He said he fell at least twice in the airport, once passing out after hitting his head on what he described as a pile of fire extinguishers in his way. He boarded the plane in a wheelchair."
South Carolina bans sale of on-line urine: The South Carolina Supreme Court has upheld a state law banning the sale of urine online. In response, the leading marketer Privacy Protection Services, has wisely relocated to North Carolina.
One-way street for heat: Physicists have designed a unique material that conducts heat in one direction yet acts like an insulator in the other direction.
You're a 24-year old geek. You're brilliant. You've just completed revolutionary scientific research which will win you the Nobel prize. But you can't even get laid...
Should you trust your "gut" as to whether someone is lying? Popular myth notwithstanding, the answer is often "no". Our intuitions about such matters can be surprisingly wrong.
Turn your skull into a loudspeaker with the Soundbug. The best "400 pounds of force" applied against your head that you'll ever enjoy...

Thursday, March 14, 2002

The world's fastest PC runs at 3 GHz, thanks to some special cooling technology.
Secret US nuclear documents? Get 'em here. (Via Politech.)
"MIT to make 'nanotech' Army wear" Why would a soldier want a "molecular exoskeleton"? According to the article: "Imagine the psychological impact upon a foe when encountering squads of seemingly invincible warriors protected by armor and endowed with superhuman capabilities, such as the ability to leap over 20-foot walls..."

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Want to improve your memory? Start chewing some gum...
Mysterious "Afghan girl" found One of the most famous National Geographic cover photos was a picture of 15-year old Afghan girl taken in 1985. After an extensive search, the original NG photographer has finally found the woman 17 years later. (More info here.)

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

"Beam Us Back, Scotty!" The Nation is upset because the new Star Trek Enterprise show is a tad too right wing. (I must confess that I kind of like the old-school, meat-eating, politically-incorrect humans of this era...)

Monday, March 11, 2002

Hail hail Ladonia! Thousands of Pakistanis are trying to apply for citizenship in the Northern European country of Ladonia. The only problem -- it's an imaginary country that exists only on the internet.
"The Naked Truth" Running an internet porn site is harder than it looks.

Sunday, March 10, 2002

Where is the theory of evolution taught? This map may surprise you.
Latest addiction: This diabolical free online computer game has been sucking up far too much of mine (and Diana's) time lately...
Looking for the sleekest color PDA? According to the Gadgeteer's latest review, the Sony CLIÉ PEG-T615C is your best bet. (Gotta love that Jog Dial!)

Saturday, March 09, 2002

GPS for drinkers: If you're looking to get drunk but don't know where to go, the eSleeve wearable wrist computer will use GPS to tell you where the four nearest pubs are located. Then once you're done getting plastered, it will even help you find your way home.

Friday, March 08, 2002

Hacking into a wireless network with an empty can of Pringles.
A year at Harvard now costs $35,950. (For some people it's worth it -- take a look at Conan O'Brien's 2000 Harvard Commencement speech. It's one of the funniest things I've ever read.)
What color is the universe? Scientists used to think it was turquoise but after re-analyzing the data they now believe it's beige.

Thursday, March 07, 2002

Hungry? You too can fry an egg on an AMD Athlon XP1500+. (Link via WonkoSlice.)
Why you shouldn't dress like Jesus.
"No Pain, No Game" Bizarre story about a new game called the PainStation where you get to inflict pain on your opponent every time you score a point against him. (Why does it not surprise me that the inventors are German?)

Monday, March 04, 2002

Radiology can be fun! Yes, the British Medical Journal did publish an article studying the MRI appearance of people having sex.
"What's Wrong With This Picture?" Take a look at the following picture and see if you can find what's wrong. You'll have to open it up to "full screen" to get all of the details, and take your time to study it closely. (If the original link doesn't work, here's a mirror.)

(I found this particularly evil link on another discussion forum. After forwarding it to my friends, most of them have sworn vengeance against me, then said they'd forward it on to their friends...)
The Return of GeekPress: This is the first post of the new GeekPress. Unlike the old version of GeekPress which was mostly devoted to offbeat technology news, this incarnation will include links and commentary about pretty much anything that strikes my fancy.