Saturday, November 30, 2002
Friday, November 29, 2002
Wednesday, November 27, 2002
Tuesday, November 26, 2002
Domino Artwork creates portrait mosaics from dominoes. What makes their work particularly challenging is that they always use complete sets, utilizing a mathematical technique called "integer programming" to help them determine how to optimally position the dominoes. (Via Boing Boing.)
Afterlife Telegrams: "For a fee of $10 per word (5 word minimum), our customers can have a telegram delivered to someone who has passed away. This is done with the help of terminally ill volunteers who memorize the telegrams before passing away, and then deliver the telegrams after they have passed away." Diana observed that one flaw with this method is that it assumes that everyone's all going to the same place, a point that the company acknowledges in their FAQ. (Via Metafilter.)
Monday, November 25, 2002
Sunday, November 24, 2002
Saturday, November 23, 2002
Friday, November 22, 2002
Thursday, November 21, 2002
Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Tuesday, November 19, 2002
This past weekend, "Master Pete" Lovering won the World Rock Paper Scissors championship. Here's the official announcement. Interestingly enough, there's a fair amount of academic study of this subject (see some of the links at the bottom of this page), including a discussion of how some microbes play the equivalent of RPS. (Via Kent Manning.)
Monday, November 18, 2002
Friday, November 15, 2002
Thursday, November 14, 2002
The Human Swiss Army Knife: "An eccentric Frenchman who goes by the name of Crazy Eric has entered the record books for the unusual feat of carrying permanently about his body more than 1,000 useful objects." He has apparently designed a clever set of clothes with multiple pockets enabling him to carry all of his gear. (Via Techdirt.)
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
Tuesday, November 12, 2002
The US Marines want you to read science fiction. Their recommended reading list for privates includes Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers and for corporals/sergeants includes Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game. The rest of the reading list for the various ranks is pretty interesting also. (Via Boing Boing.)
There are not enough real military buglers to play "Taps" at veterans' funerals. And many military families didn't like their loved ones buried to the sound of a CD. The Pentagon's solution? "[A] real bugle with a computerized insert. Now, a soldier only needs to push a button, wait five seconds and pretend to play." Apparently, very few people can tell the difference between the simulated playing and the real thing.
Monday, November 11, 2002
Two customers at the Alaska Experience Theater were sitting through the earthquake simulation tour when a real 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit. They merely thought it was part of an exceptionally realistic simulation. According to the article, "Even afterward, as they viewed displays in an adjoining gallery and aftershocks made the ground shake again, the Wortleys didn't catch on. Susan Wortley thought her wobbly legs were a residual effect of the simulator - something like a seaman getting his land legs back. 'We thought, 'This was really good.'"
"An assistant professor at MIT is working to embroider soldier's uniforms with polymer threads that silently flash an optical bar code."
The Colossal Colon is coming to a city near you: "As part of March's National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month 2003, the Cancer Research Foundation of America will lead a nationwide, 20-city Colossal Colon Tour from March 2003 to October 2003... The Colossal Colon is a 40-foot long, four-foot high replica of a human colon. Visitors who crawl through the colon, or look through the viewing windows, will see healthy colon tissue, colon disease, polyps and various stages of colon cancer." (Via Metafilter.)
A nice photograph of the "green flash". When I used to live in a beachside apartment in La Jolla, California, I was lucky enough to see it three times in a two year period. There's even a seafood restaurant on the San Diego waterfront called the "Green Flash" where customers can regularly see this phenomenon.
Sunday, November 10, 2002
Saturday, November 09, 2002
Nanotech version of Tetris: "A real-life implementation of the evergreen arcade game Tetris was obtained by optically trapping 42 glass microspheres (1 ìm diameter) in a 25 ìm x 20 ìm sized field under a microscope. Their positions are then steered with a computer. The generation of multiple traps, as well as the computer-steering, is accomplished by the use of acousto-optic deflectors: devices that tune the deflection of a laser beam that have very fast response. This page contains real-time videos and images of a micro-Tetris game, played live from the computer keyboard." (Via Boing Boing.)
Friday, November 08, 2002
European soccer officials will field test a system of real-time tracking sensors placed within the soccer balls and players' shin pads which should in theory allow referees to immediately know if a player is offsides or if a player has scored a legal goal.
Thursday, November 07, 2002
Wednesday, November 06, 2002
A real-life "superhero" going by the name Terrifica has been patrolling the streets of NYC saving young women from would-be seducers. From the article, "'I protect the single girl living in the big city,' says Terrifica, sporting blond Brunhild wig with a golden mask and a matching Valkyrie bra. 'I do this because women are weak. They are easily manipulated, and they need to be protected from themselves and most certainly from men and their ill intentions toward them.'" She even has an arch-nemesis, a man named "Fantastico" who likes to dress in velvet. According to Fantastico, "over the years, Terrifica has thwarted his attempts on numerous occasions to get to know women a little better." (Via Boing Boing.)
Tuesday, November 05, 2002
Who has the biggest collection of spam? Why, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission), of course. The FTC has been requesting that annoyed spam recipients send them copies for several years now, so their current spam data base contains over 20 million entries and is considered the most extensive in the world.
Chameleon Tanks: The US Army is developing a "smart tank" with a nanotechnology-based coating that will allow it to detect and heal surface damage. Plus the coating will be able to "turn chameleon, creating instant camouflage and making themselves virtually invisible on the battlefield."
Monday, November 04, 2002
Danish researchers have invented "[a]n interactive pool table with a laser that points out exactly where the best shots lie..."
Psychologist Nick Kanas studies how to select astronauts who can live together in orbit for 6 months at a time without killing each other.