Friday, May 31, 2002
A lot of cars and minivans are coming equipped with onboard VCR and entertainment systems to keep the kids quiet. Unfortunately, this can create dangers of its own. As one busy LA commuter said, "I've had a person pull up next to me and say, 'Great movie,'... And that was the driver."
Thursday, May 30, 2002
Wireless technology in chips: Because integrated circuits are getting larger and faster, severe bottlenecks are developing in the flow of information between different parts of a chip. To solve this problem, some Florida researchers are designing chips with built-in wireless technology to send signals to their various internal components.
No more menstrual periods for women? A pharmaceutical company is developing a new oral contraceptive that will all but eliminate the monthly menstrual cycle for women. Assuming that this is proven to be medically safe, it could lead to very interesting psychological and cultural changes for women.
Wednesday, May 29, 2002
Daniel Pearl murder video: According to this Wired article, "The unedited video of journalist Daniel Pearl being murdered is back online. An Internet hosting company in Virginia, which the FBI threatened last week with federal obscenity charges, said on Monday afternoon that it would resume distribution of the horrific 4-minute video." The ProHosters website explains why they've taken the position they did, citing the First Amendment. (Warning to readers: Diana and I watched the video, and portions are very gruesome. Minors and sensitive viewers should not watch it.)
Tuesday, May 28, 2002
Monday, May 27, 2002
Sunday, May 26, 2002
Scamming Amazon: According to this article, "This 'clever' author of a $3 Self Help PDF has written a program to put his book in as a recommendation 12 times, on every single top seller at Amazon (at least random collection I checked in the first 500 top sellers). As a result he is now the #3 best seller on Amazon."
Invention of the day: An electronic bra that detects breast cancer. Men shouldn't feel neglected, since scientists are also training dogs to detect prostate cancer. (My dogs sniff my crotch a little too much already -- I'm not sure I want to be encouraging them any more...)
Saturday, May 25, 2002
Friday, May 24, 2002
New amino acid discovered: Scientists have discovered a 22nd amino acid, "a discovery that is the biological equivalent of physicists finding a new fundamental particle or chemists discovering a new element." Medical students everywhere groan in dismay at the prospect of more test questions...
Thursday, May 23, 2002
Wednesday, May 22, 2002
AT&T's spam filter blocked out its own rate increase notice to its customers. (Via Techdirt.)
Tuesday, May 21, 2002
Monday, May 20, 2002
Sunday, May 19, 2002
Saturday, May 18, 2002
Friday, May 17, 2002
"Can a Child Love a Robot?": So far, children seem to be able to tell the difference between a robotic dog and a real dog. But this may change as such toys like the Aibo become more realistic. The article notes that It's already been shown that elderly nursing home patients who cannot keep real pets still get many of the health benefits (such as lowered blood pressure) by holding and caring for mechanical dogs as they would for caring for real dogs.
Thursday, May 16, 2002
Wednesday, May 15, 2002
Unmanned "snipers in the sky" could change the nature of warfare by giving the US government the capability to assassinate individual bad guys from a mile up in the air. (These would clearly fit on the high end of the "Top Murder Weapons by Income".)
Napster is on the verge of death. The CEO has quit, and the "remaining employees were offered two unappealing options: Quit now and receive severance pay, or take one week of unpaid leave, hoping somebody will revive the once powerful file-trading company". Almost all of the employees are choosing the first option.
Tuesday, May 14, 2002
Monday, May 13, 2002
Smart cards are vulnerable to "an inexpensive attack that employs a $30 camera flashgun and a microscope."
Is the Earth being bombarded by strangelets? Some physicists believe that the Earth is being bombarded by "strangelets", which are "tiny cosmic missiles weighing tons and travelling at 900,000 mph. They are only the size of a pollen grain but so dense they can rip through the planet and exit on the other side in seconds." Two explosions in 1993 are felt to be caused by these strangelet impacts. (Via Slashdot.)
Sunday, May 12, 2002
Saturday, May 11, 2002
Friday, May 10, 2002
Hiding a backwards voice in one's music is so passe, now that some musicians are hiding pictures of "devilish faces" in their songs.
There is no natural limit to human life expectancy according to some Duke researchers. In the developed countries such as US, Japan, and western Europe, life expectancy is "steadily increasing by three months a year, per year[sic]". I'm just waiting for medical science to advance to the point that life expectancy increases by one year per year -- then I'll never die! (Malignant cackling in the background...)
Thursday, May 09, 2002
Airbus is planning to install hidden cameras on its airpanes in the light fixtures above passenger seats -- in the name of passenger security, of course. (Perhaps I missed it, but how exactly does this stop a dedicated suicide hijacker? And unless these cameras are also planted in the bathrooms, this leaves a bad guy an obvious place to prepare any weapons or explosive devices unobserved by the flight crew.)
Wednesday, May 08, 2002
Robofalcon: Wilfred Emonts has invented a 7-foot robotic falcon that can scare away real birds from airports. Given that airplanes are more likely to be brought down by a "bird strike" (when a bird gets caught in an airplane engine) than by a terrorist attack, this seems like a very useful invention.
Tuesday, May 07, 2002
Undetectable "Son of Cookies": Scottish Enterprise is developing a new, advanced "sensor" system to monitor websurfers without relying on computer cookies. These "sensors" can monitor individual keystrokes, can be altered remotely, and are "almost impossible to detect". But privacy advocates should fear not, for the developers assure us that "[s]afeguards to prevent misuse of the software will be developed at the same time as the program itself." Ok, I feel much better now. (Links via The Register.)
Sweden the socialist paradise? Sweden is often portrayed by American leftists as an enlightened example of compassionate socialism. However, recent figures from Swedish Research Institute of Trade published in the "liberal Dagens Nyheter newspaper" show that if Sweden were a US state, it would be the poorest state, ranking below Mississippi. The article also states that "Black people, who have the lowest income in the United States, now have a higher standard of living than an ordinary Swedish household." And according to figures from the United Nations Crime Victimization Survey, Sweden has more crime than the US. (Via Plastic.)
Monday, May 06, 2002
Sunday, May 05, 2002
Saturday, May 04, 2002
Friday, May 03, 2002
Frequent flyer miles currently in circulation exceed $500 billion in value, making them the second biggest world "currency" after the US dollar. And at their current rate of growth, flyer miles "could overtake the dollar within two years". Where will we spend them? According to this related article in the Economist, "US Airways has launched a deal where, for a mere 10m miles, you can buy a seat on the first private spacecraft to take passengers into space, scheduled for 2004."
"Fly the Copter": Today's time-waster is this game in which you have to navigate a remote-controlled helicopter through a maze of barriers. What's deceptively simple about this game is that at any time you only have two choices -- either press the left mouse button or not. (Via MetaFilter.)
Thursday, May 02, 2002
"US Sailors Wear Out Sex Workers": In yet another example of the stress caused by the War On Terrorism, prostitutes in Perth, Australia were "reeling from exhaustion" after dealing with an influx of US sailors from warships coming off of tours of duty in the Middle East. According to the article, "Mary-Anne Kenworthy said she was forced to close the doors of her famous Langtrees brothel for only the third time ever yesterday because her prostitutes were so worn out they could no longer provide a quality service." (Via WonkoSlice.)
Unbreakable quantum cryptography could become commercially available in the next couple of years.
Wednesday, May 01, 2002
If you are going bald, the Hairogenics company will preserve a sample of your hair in its underground vault (for a fee of course) until science comes up with a cure for baldness. Just in case this future cure requires a sample of your present hair and you don't happen to own a freezer of your own. Um, sure.