Monday, September 30, 2002

Yakima County in Washington will now let you e-mail your excuses to the judge as to why you shouldn't have to pay your traffic ticket.
If you're an unethical auto mechanic who likes to go joy-riding in customers' cars, don't post about it on the internet. The owner might read about it and get pissed off. (A lengthy discussion on this saga is available here on Kuro5hin.)
Quiz: How geeky are you?
Some unusual materials shrink when heated, rather than expand. Scientists hope to be able to do interesting things with them.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

I sure hope that Saddam Hussein doesn't do this.
It doesn't matter if you're in outer space -- you still have to fill out the damned census form. According to this article, "A Russian spaceship carrying census forms is on its way to two cosmonauts so they can take part in Russia's first post-Soviet population head-count... Russia's Valery Korzun and Sergei Treshchev on the orbiting International Space Station will fill out the questionnaires and send them back to Earth, joining millions of their land-based compatriots in the exercise planned for October 9-16."

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Sharp has invented an LCD display that shows 3-dimensional images. Unfortunately, only one person at a time can experience the full effect.

Friday, September 27, 2002

German scientists predict that natural blondes are "endangered" and will die out within 200 years.
Take a look at this astounding optical illusion. Here's why it works. The Koffka Ring version is also pretty damned impressive. More Flash demos are available here. (Via Metafilter.)
Michael Malone muses about life, the universe, feedback loops, and the Segway scooter.
The newest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary will include numerous science fiction terms including Jedi, Klingon, and dilithium. The word "wedgie" will also make its first appearance in the OED.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

"Lorenzo's Oil" has been proven to work, at least according to this article. Other physicians are more skeptical.
The first big commercial nanotechnology product may be nano-pants. (Via Plastic.)
Michael Malone argues that we're virtually guaranteed to experience another big economic boom in the next decade. Why? Because of rising chip speeds.
How not to do cybersex. (Via Linkfilter.)
Now this is ironic: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says that he can't get cable or DSL service to his Seattle house, despite personally begging the heads of AT&T and Qwest. (Via BBspot.)

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Science fiction writer David Brin makes "The Case for a Cheerful Libertarianism". In this thought-provoking speech, he skewers a number of libertarian sacred cows, yet reaches a very optimistic conclusion. Well worth reading. (Thanks to Andrew Breese for this excellent link.)
Beer in space. (Via Linkfilter.)
The "Laura Bush" parody of the Nigerian money laundering spams. (Via Boing Boing.)
Would you like to get a copy of your genetic code on a CD? An American company will offer that service for only $600,000. A British company hopes to be able to lower that price to a mere $1000.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

I didn't know you could plagiarize silence, but a lawsuit alleging exactly that has been settled for a six-figure amount. (Via Fark.)
Nanotechnology researchers can now weld together individual carbon nanotubules.
Now you can create your own virtual sandart on your computer without the mess. (Via Metafilter.)
Young people are unconsciously slipping into "Instant Messenger English" in their formal school writing assignments.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Everyone on eBay is sniping.
Invention of the day: Self-cleaning glass. (Via Boing Boing.)
Future US soldiers may be able to utilize robotic eyes, ears, and noses.
MirCorp says we need more advertising in outer space, not less. They point to this ad as an example.
Forget the risk of cellphones causing cancer. This poor cellphone user reportedly attracted a bat attack, supposedly because of the "cellphone signal interfering with the bats' sonar sensory system". At least cellphones are helpful in scaring away ghosts.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Forbes lists the Top 15 Richest Fictional Characters of all time. The first four are:
1. Santa Claus $Infinity
2. Richie Rich $24.7 billion
3. Oliver "Daddy" Warbucks $10 billion
4. Scrooge McDuck $8.2 billion
(Link via Boing Boing.)
ObNonGeekPoliticalPost: Victor Hanson answers questions about Iraq. Well worth reading. (Via Volokh Conspiracy.)
Are you colorblind? (Via Madville.)
Salon calls this "the strangest domain-name squabble ever" because it involves "Girl Scouts, domestic violence awareness, and charges of racism and censorship"...

Saturday, September 21, 2002

This internet-enabled smart alarm clock will check on local traffic conditions and adjust your wake-up time in order to get to work on time.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Local Denver police officers recently participated in a double-blind scientific taste test comparing the relative merits of products from two donut stores. As the article notes, "Not even a minor traffic accident within sight of the doughnut table distracted the judges from their tasks..."
Vocera is marketing a new system of hand-free voice-activated communication badges that allow anyone on the network to contact anyone else by tapping the badge and speaking the recipient's name. As one analyst notes, "The only thing that I can really compare them to is Star Trek:The Next Generation..."
"A science magazine is offering one reader the chance to have their body frozen after death in the hope that medical science will one day revive them." Here's how to enter. The winner also has the option of choosing a Hawaiian vacation in this current life instead.
CEA's Gary Shapiro argues that P2P file sharing is both moral and legal. (Via Politech.)

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Stimulating certain parts of the brain with electrodes can induce out-of-body experiences virtually identical to those attributed to paranormal phenomena.
European scientists have produced mass quantities of antimatter. By "mass quantities" they mean up to 50,000 atoms of anti-hydrogen, which is still pretty damned impressive.
It sure would be cool to get good at speed cup stacking. (Via Memepool.)
"Memo to employees: The dot-com boom is over so everyone has to wear formal business attire again". Translation: we were forced to let you wear what you wanted for a couple of years to keep you from quitting, but now the market has changed so suck it up! (Via Plastic.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

The DNA code with the A, C, G, and T nucleotides has been shown to be structured very much like a computer parity error-correcting code. Full details are available here (HTML version) or here (PDF version).
Airline ticket pricing is now so screwy that it is practically impossible to devise an efficient computer algorithm that can work out the cheapest fare between two cities. As the article states, "the more specific (idealized) problem of finding an optimal fare for a particular route, while theoretically solvable, turns out to very similar to a classical mathematical problem known as boolean satisfiability, which has long been known to be NP-complete -- which means it could take the fastest computer longer than the lifetime of the universe to find the solution." (Via Linkfilter.)
Black holes now come in all sizes -- small, medium, and large.
Looking to make money in the stock market? James Glassman likes these technology stocks.
Where do defense scientists research bizarre or fringe technologies? In the "black world", of course. (Via BBspot.)
A special robotic probe was sent to explore a secret passageway behind a mysterious stone seal in the Great Pyramid in Egypt. And what did it find behind the stone seal? Another mysterious stone seal.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Preventing music piracy with Super Glue. (Via Metafilter.)
Bored at work? Try making one of these exotic paper airplanes. (Via Linkfilter.)
The modern high-tech excuse for being late to an appointment: "Mapquest lied to me".
For the paranoid, there's terror-free parking.
The ultimate guide on how to remove nearly 250 different stains from clothes is available here, thanks to Cornell University. Blood and urine are listed separately, but other potentially incriminating fluids are lumped together as "body discharge".
Yet one more reason why you shouldn't discuss your sex life via e-mail. (Via Metafilter.) Here's another version of the story.

Monday, September 16, 2002

"Equipment found in any college science department can be used to transmit electric signals at four times the speed of light." Buried at the bottom of the article is the disclaimer:
"While the peak moves faster than light speed, the total energy of the pulse does not. This means Einstein's relativity is preserved, so do not expect super-fast starships or time machines anytime soon.Signals also get weaker and more distorted the faster they go, so in theory no useful information can get transmitted at faster-than-light speeds..."
Because of the anticipated rise in space tourism, the International Bar Association will meet next month to discuss necessary modification to current outer space law.
Internet jewelry websites are thriving. And because of successful industry self-regulation, online fraud is apparently not a problem.
A clever array of laser beams can be used to sort microscopic particles by size.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Google's definition of "I love you". (Via Madville.)
Computer historians have tracked down the first use of the "smiley" :-) emoticon. (Via Boing Boing.)

Saturday, September 14, 2002

New Google problem in China: "A mysterious new obstacle has emerged for Chinese internet surfers attempting to use the Google search engine - entering politically sensitive search phrases crashes their internet connection."

Friday, September 13, 2002

The Nielsen system will start incorporating TiVo viewership data into its television ratings.
Astronomer Martin Rees warns that Mars could look like the Wild West if private space agencies are allowed to land there before presumably more enlightened government space agencies. (Actually, the possibility doesn't sound too bad to me!)
Supersized Silly Putty: A surprising number of people are buying bulk quantities of Silly Putty. Here's how you can, too. (Via Metafilter.)
"Tissue engineers grow penis in the lab"
Mathematics of "The Wave" in sports stadiums.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Mainland China is now allowing citizens to use the Google search engine again.
This is a bizarre coincidence. (Via BBspot.)
Chinese scientists have been giving Viagra to male pandas to get them to be more interested in breeding. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have worked.
Iowa finally gets its first Starbucks. (Via Obscure Store.)
"Star Trek:TNG" meets Microsoft. (Via Madville.)

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

An amateur astronomer in Arizona may have discovered a new moon around the Earth.
As expected, there's a lot of weblog commentary today on 9/11. My favorite so far is this essay by NZ Bear.
There are a lot of remembrance sites for 9/11: This one is one of the best. (Warning -- lengthy download.)
Forbidden thoughts about 9/11: Salon has two stories on forbidden thoughts on 9/11 here and here.
Great profile of Eugene Volokh, the UCLA law professor who runs one of the best libertarian legal blogs out there. (Link via Quare.)
Is meditation hazardous to your health?
Ferroelectric crystals can remember sounds.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Buzz Aldrin punches out lunar landing skeptic: According to this article, "Authorities are investigating a complaint that retired astronaut Buzz Aldrin punched a man in the face, because he was asked to swear on a Bible that he had been on the moon... Bart Sibrel says he was socked by the Apollo 11 astronaut after confronting him about the 1969 lunar mission. The 37-year-old from Nashville says he does not believe Aldrin or anyone else has ever walked on the moon."

As Boing Boing says, "You the man, Buzz."
A pair of interesting articles on using the internet to plagiarize school papers: Although students are more frequently using Google to help them plagiarize term papers, teachers can also use the website to catch cheaters. Plus some teachers are adopting a novel approach -- they're assigning papers that require the students to think for themselves.
In this ultra-wired California high school, surveillance cameras continuously track the location of each student. So much for privacy.
"Scientists Develop Computer Mouse for the Blind"
"The Real Star Wars": The US Air Force and its plans for space warfare.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Don't use any of the following forbidden words in your MSN nickname! (Via Madville.)
More nanotech: Hewlett-Packard researchers have created yet even tinier molecular memory circuits. Their prototype is nonvolatile, meaning that the data is preserved even if the power is turned off.
The US Navy is using software designed to detect breast cancers on medical images to help it detect camouflaged military targets hidden on battlefield images.
Invention of the day: A high-speed applicator for condoms. In theory, it should reduce condom deployment time from 30-40 seconds down to a mere 3 seconds. (Via Boing Boing.)
There sure are a lot of 9/11 urban legends.
Tired of losing out in eBay auctions at the last second? Automated bidding software from eSnipe will keep you in the running while you sleep.
Although China has been using firewalls to block access to the Google search engine, people there can still use the parody Google mirror website, elgooG.

Sunday, September 08, 2002

The Fields Medal is the most prestigious award in mathematics. Salon explains the current winners for the layperson.

Saturday, September 07, 2002

Kuro5hin readers post their favorite revenge stories.
Game of the day: For all you aspiring Robin Hoods, take the challenge of the Golden Arrow.

Friday, September 06, 2002

The Top 11 Signs you're becoming a geek.
The first private Moon landing has been approved by the US State Department and the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) for commercial development of the Moon. The company TransOrbital expects to launch in June 2003.
A new debugging tool uses music to help programmers find where the problems lie. After translating computer code into musical tones, bugs stand out as dissonances against the pattern of normal code.
Online begging has really taken off spurred on by the financial success of sites like, who racked up $20,000 in credit card debt and is asking for donations to help pay them off. (Hmmm... Maybe I should put up an Amazon tipjar or something like that on this page...)
Has someone installed spyware on your computer? Learn how to detect and disable it with these spyware countermeasures. (Via Linkfilter.)

Thursday, September 05, 2002

British scientists have synthesized a dinosaur protein from scratch.
Move over silicon chips, here come chips made of diamond.
IKEA furniture can be hard to assemble sometimes. But Swiss researchers have invented "smart" furniture components with movement and pressure sensors that tell the user if he's assembling the item correctly or not.
A financial-controller-for-a-Bay-Area-internet-company-turned-cabbie tells stories of shady accounting practices in Silicon Valley.
The internet is corrupting the youth in the conservative Islamic society of Iran.
The British Civil Aviation Authority is considering banning all laptop computer use on its flights because of fears that some new chips may interfere with the collision avoidance systems on airplanes. (Via Metafilter.)

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

And now for something completely different: The Financial Times interviews John Cleese, of Monty Python fame. Apparently Cleese is quite the entrepreneur -- as the FT notes: "'Capitalism,' says Cleese with a let's-get-this-straight tone, 'is the best system.'" (Via PostPolitics.)
Peeling "The Onion": A look behind the scenes of the best parody news site on the web. (Via Volokh Conspiracy.)
The latest computer security device is a special LCD screen that looks blank unless you're an authorized user wearing special glasses. The article also notes that this $1600 system could be easily defeated by someone wearing cheapo 3-D movie glasses.
Toilet paper algorithms. (Via GMSV.)

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

What happens when geeks drink too much caffeine.
Spam used to comprise approximately 8% of all e-mail traffic on the internet. Now it's up to a whopping 36%. (Via Madville.)
A self-organizing electronic circuit using evolutionary algorithms has spontaneously evolved a radio receiver.
Smart tatoos will tell diabetics when their blood sugar is too low.

Monday, September 02, 2002

If you prefer to pray to God the high-tech way, this site offers e-prayers.
The FTC will soon unveil its latest cartoon mascot -- Dewey, the Internet Safety Turtle. Remember boys and girls -- look both ways before crossing the information superhighway!... (Via Boing Boing.)
Do we really need automatic gear shifting for bicyles?

Sunday, September 01, 2002

A grizzly bear attacked a group of animal rights activists from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), mauling one of them. As Rand Simberg notes, "She's obviously not a member of BETH (Bears for the Ethical Treatment of Humans). Or then again, perhaps she is..."