Saturday, November 30, 2002

Google's Live Query lets their employees keep their fingers on the pulse of the internet.

Friday, November 29, 2002

A leading British plastic surgeon believes that face transplants will be feasible within the next year.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

An unfortunate font choice. (Via GMSV.)

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

What can you do if your TiVo mistakenly thinks you're gay? Or a neo-Nazi?
The first cloned human baby is supposedly due to be born in January 2003.
The Ark of the Covenant (aka "The Lost Ark") might be in Ethiopia. (Via K5.)
How reliable are our recollections of so-called "repressed memories"? According to noted psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, not very.

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.)
"Physicist Fotini Markopoulou Kalamara has developed a way to connect relativity with quantum theory -- while making sure that cause still precedes effect"
"Intuition: Its Powers and Perils" Psychologist David Myers has written an interesting book about the phenomenon of intuition. More information is available at the author's web page and in this book review.
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

Back in 1992, technology writer Mike Langenberg wrote an article on what life would be like in 2002. How accurate was he? Let's find out. (Via Techdirt.)
The NY Times has discovered the Sims.
Brewster Kahle, my old MIT housemate, talks about what he hopes to accomplish with the Wayback Machine. Great interview!
A new mobile phone keypad will give direct access to all letters and numerals.
Ellen Feiss admits that she was on drugs during her infamous Macintosh "Switch" commercial -- her allergy medication Benadryl. But her stoner fans still love her nevertheless.
In Hong Kong, many people no longer carry pocket change. Instead, they make small purchases with anonymous cash cards.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Important computing safety tip: Don't burn your penis with your laptop.
Game of the Day: Can you make the you-know-what hit the fan?

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Can you tell the difference between real photographs and Photoshop fakes? Take this quiz. (Via BBspot.)
A public library's filtering software causes it to ban its own website.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Asteroid strikes are not as frequent as previously thought.
A clever new approach to throttling computer viruses.
Baby Boomers: This interesting study compares what they thought in the 1970's with what they think in 2002. (Via Metafilter.)
Origin of dogs: Scientists believe that they can trace the ancestry of all dogs to "a handful of wolves tamed by humans living in or near China less than 15,000 years ago."
Glenn Reynolds has written an excellent paper on nanotech regulatory policy. There's both full length .pdf version as well as a concise summary on TechCentralStation.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Gulf Wars: Episode II (Via BBspot.)
Scientists are planning to create a new form of life. (Via Right Wing News.)
"Engineers are working on software to load every photo you take, every letter you write - in fact your every memory and experience - into a surrogate brain that never forgets anything..."
HighLift is making slow but steady progress on its commercial space elevator project.
What ever happened to chess genius Bobby Fischer? The Atlantic has the rest of his bizarre story. (Via Plastic.)
An eloquent 14-year old boy describes what it's like to be autistic. Amazing stuff.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Glenn Reynolds (aka Instapundit) gives some practical advice as what we as individuals can do to respond to/prevent terrorism.
Consumers are getting sick of excess tech.
"Mark Allen, a gay man living in New York, conducted an online relationship with a man living in Austin, Texas. But as the relationship matured, Allen realized it wasn't his cyberboyfriend he was falling in love with, it was his PowerMac G3."
The Onion has an interview with Wil Wheaton.
Technology Review talks about virtual keyboards.
I never knew that one in four men faked their orgasms.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Time magazine picks the best inventions of 2002. (Via Linkfilter.)
Now this is consumer product testing: "We are running a washing machine permanently until it breaks. If you guess when, you win $1500".
"IBM starts work on computer to rival the human brain" (Via Neuroprosthesis News.)
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.)
Fossil will be selling a Palm OS PDA/wristwatch. The company website has more product info and specifications. (Via Techdirt.)

Monday, November 18, 2002

Casinos like to use mechanical card shufflers to speed up game play. But according to Stanford mathematicians Persi Diaconis and Susan Holmes, these machines are not very good at randomizing the cards.
Watch out for the flying cell phone tower!
Feed your pets over the internet.
Chocolate pizza?

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Busy commuters will love the minicopter.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

Help the economy -- have more sex.

Friday, November 15, 2002

This month's Crypto-Gram has an interesting story on the defense tactics of the Japanese honeybee.
"Scientists have created what is claimed to be the world's first radiation-proof fabric which provides as much protection as a lead vest but at a fraction of the weight."
I never knew that there was such a big business in counterfeit batteries. (Via Fark.)
Boston College researchers have created a new high density optical storage medium by combining "epoxy glue sold at hardware stores and a glass-like substance". This new material is very stable and can store 19 times more data than a DVD. (Via Ars Technica.)
Attention Unix enthusiasts: "Under the Hood of OS X"
Instant Messenger chat slang is invading (some would say corrupting) high school English classes. (Thanks to Kent Manning for the link.)

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Sunspots: The latest high-resolution images of sunspots are astounding.
Eugene Volokh, Supreme Court justice?
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.)
Game of the day: Radial Pong. (Via Madville.)
"Marxists' Apartment A Microcosm Of Why Marxism Doesn't Work" (From The Onion.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Mirror matter?: "Two Australian scientists believe they have found evidence of a parallel universe of strange matter within our own Solar System." This "mirror matter" is different from anti-matter and "weirder".
Mad magazine has a parody of The Onion. (Via Metafilter.)
Why settle for a mere robotic guard dog when you can have a robotic guard dragon? (Via BBspot.)
Game of the day: Miniputt2 miniature golf. That 17th hole is a killer!
If weapons inspectors return to Iraq, they'll have some new technology at their disposal.
Even elementary school kids are using PowerPoint for their school presentations. (Via Techdirt.)
Who has been struck by a meteorite? (Here's some of the relevant physics.)
The Top 11 Lies that computer science students tell themselves.

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.)
The Chinese Restaurant random name generator. (Via Madville.)
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.
Quantum encryption is coming.

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.)
More geek toys: The Amazing Magnets Superball kit.
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

Eric Harshbarger has created a Lego mosaic of the New York City skyline. It's obviously a pre-9/11 image, given the presence of the WTC twin towers. (Via Memepool.)

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.)
Own the elements: For a mere $900, you can own a box containing all 92 of the naturally occurring elements in the periodic table from hydrogen to uranium. (Via Boing Boing.)

Friday, November 08, 2002

The FAA has denied the Sioux City Airport's request to change its 3-letter designation to something other than SUX. (Via BBspot.)
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.
These are some of the most amazing Etch-A-Sketch drawings I've ever seen. (Via Metafilter.) Update: Rick Meyer pointed me to these astounding Etch-A-Sketch drawings by George Vlosich.
The city of Taipei has suspended its instant lottery after a contestant cracked the barcode system on the lotto tickets, and started winning more money than random chance would allow. (Via Linkfilter.)
A rock from Mars strikes the Earth about once a month.
"UC Irvine physicist Gregory Benford will announce plans for the first known attempt to push a spacecraft into the Earth's orbit with energy beamed up from the ground." More information on similar projects is available here.
Vending machines are getting huge.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

An antimatter-based space drive.
The return of the Black Death: Two people in New York City have been diagnosed with the bubonic plague, although they probably contracted it in New Mexico. (Via Fark.)
Couples that meet online still don't usually admit the truth to their families and friends. (Via Plastic.)
Making "ghosts" in a machine: British scientists are hoping to build a neutrino factory.
A pair of (very nonscientific) personality tests: "Which Founding Father Are You?" and "Which Pulp Fiction Character Are You?" (Via Linkfilter.)
Overclocker Cafe has a good review of caffeinated soap from Xoxide. In their "Pros and Cons" section, one of the "Cons" they list is, "Say a four letter word near your mother and you will be sorry if you have this soap handy". (Via Ars Technica.)

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.)
"The U.S. Army used a high-energy laser to shoot down an artillery shell in mid-flight..."
Some Russian scientists are theorizing that a particular species of radiation-resistant microbes may have evolved on Mars, then travelled to Earth. Other scientists are skeptical, to say the least.
This might catch your eye. (Via Memepool.)
The German secret service has been bugging the mobile phones of some of their citizens, then billing them for the "service". (Via BBspot.)
Why does so much high-tech gear glow blue?

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.
These are some pretty wild optical illusions. As the warning note states, "Should you feel dizzy, you had better leave this page immediately."
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."
It's Election Day, and many people are excited about new high-tech touch screen voting machines. Unfortunately, some tech experts warn that they may have some serious drawbacks.
Slower download speeds makes websurfers more likely to click on hyperlinks, a someone counterintuitive result. Plus it also increases the degree of arousal caused by erotic images. (Via WonkoSlice.)
Net Vegas: The proliferation of computing power in Las Vegas casinos has led to an incredible economic boom as customers flock to the gaming tables. But it has also meant an explosive growth in high-tech cheaters and high-tech countermeasures.

Monday, November 04, 2002

A Russian MIG 21 supersonic jet fighter is available for sale on eBay. Be the first on your block to own one. (Via Linkfilter.)
I hate it when my cordless keyboard sends messages to my neighbor's computer. (Via Madville.)
Danish researchers have invented "[a]n interactive pool table with a laser that points out exactly where the best shots lie..."
Crime Scene Investigators (CSI): Television vs. reality.
An intrepid researcher looks into the mysterious packets of silica gel labelled "Do Not Eat". (Via BBspot.)
Psychologist Nick Kanas studies how to select astronauts who can live together in orbit for 6 months at a time without killing each other.
GeekPress returns: Diana and I are back early from our trip, so posting will resume today.