Wednesday, March 31, 2004

It's the time of year for all sorts of internet hoaxes and gags.
The Geek Workout.
Even The Simpsons have been outsourced to India. (Via Joost Bonsen.)
Science news of the day: Dogs really do resemble their owners. Sort of like this.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

A new weapon to be issued soon to US Marines in Iraq uses sound waves to incapacitate the target. The special sound is "a recording of a baby's scream played backwards". (Via Metafilter.)
NASA is discussing how to terraform Mars. (Via Linkfilter.)
"The Adventures of Seinfeld and Superman": Pretty good mixed live action and animation featuring you-know-who. The longest one is "Uniform". (Via Gravity Lens.)
Send an e-mail to your future self. (Via Boing Boing.)

Monday, March 29, 2004

Catching car thieves with high-tech bait cars.
Police load the vehicles with an array of technology, including a global positioning satellite tracking system, computers, video equipment and cell phones, transforming them into eyes and ears. The cars are left in the top auto theft spots based on crime analysis and police and citizen tips.

When a thief makes an attempt to steal or burglarize the car, sensors send a signal that notifies police dispatchers who contact a patrol officer who then follows the car. At the same time, auto theft investigators are paged and the videotape begins to roll.

The GPS tracking computer software maps the car's location in real time, and at any time, the officer can make the decision to remotely shut down the engine and lock the car doors, trapping the thief inside.
Some of these videos have been aired on local television, and they are very popular with the public. (Via Techdirt.)
Detailed review of electronic voting and some associated problems. Given the importance of these issues, a mandatory verifiable paper audit trail seems like such an obvious solution, both to insure the honesty of the system and (more importantly) to assure voter confidence in the honesty of the system.
Invention of the day: The SawStop can sense the difference between wood and a human finger, stopping a power saw blade in 5 milliseconds. Dramatic videos here. As the company says, this technology "can make the difference between needing a Band-Aid or a hand surgeon." (Via David Solsberg.)
Food scares: Myth vs. truth. (Via SciTech Daily.)
Advances in brain-machine interfaces now allow humans to control a videogame with their minds.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Two high school students have developed new mathematical methods for detecting killer asteroids.
The Earth has a quasi-moon.
A burglar breaking into a house in Washington state was caught cross-country on the East Coast via webcam. (Via Linkfilter.)
Medical breakthrough of the day: Stool transplants. No, really. According to the article, these are usually administered by a feeding tube through the nose or mouth. (Via Dave Barry.)
More would-be challengers to Google.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

The TSA cancelled an American Airlines flight because of a psychic tip. Needless to say, nothing suspicious was found during the search. (Via World Wide Rant.)

Friday, March 26, 2004

"Putting the Weirdness to Work": Upcoming business applications of quantum mechanics.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

"What a Difference a Century Makes": Some interesting statistics about life in the US in 1904. (Via Linkfilter.)
Mobile phone with its own virtual keyboard. (Via David Solsberg.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Airline restrictions on inflight use of personal electronics -- justified or not?
"I Fought Moore's Law And The Law Won"
Overview of the other browsers.
William Shatner sings! (Via Linkfilter.)
Light-transmitting concrete will be available for sale later this year. (Via David Solsberg.)
3-D advertisements can project a virtual glass of beer a meter in front of the screen.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

"Coming back soon to a theater near you -- a controversial film about a Jewish guy from Nazareth who is worshiped as the Messiah and crucified by the Romans.

No, it's not Mel Gibson (news)'s 'The Passion of the Christ.' It's Monty Python's 'Life of Brian.'

Inspired by the runaway success -- and public furor -- over Gibson's portrayal of the last 12 hours in the life of Jesus, the creators behind the 1979 biblical satire about an anti-Roman activist who spends his life being mistaken for a prophet are planning a 25th anniversary re-release next month."
The Onion presents some online dating tips.
Are social networking sites like Friendster or Orkut the next big thing? Or just the next big bubble?

And if you're sick of being pestered by "friends" on these social-networking sites, block their annoying invitations with Introvertster.
Disturbing quiz of the day: "Puke or Soup?" I got 9/16 right, and lost my appetite in the process. (Via Dave Barry.)
How much money did your neighbors donate to a Presidential candidate? Find out here. Just enter your address to see any nearby donors, or search by a specific name, such as "Barbara Streisand". (Via Hanah Metchis.)
As a result of recent asteroid scares, NASA has decided to formalize its procedures for notifying the appropriate government officials in the event of a realistic impact threat.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Update on the female-mouth-shaped urinal story: Aeon Skoble pointed me towards this story in which Virgin Atlantic Airways has cancelled their plans to install the controversial plumbing fixtures.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Japanese Pencil Carving: Astounding artwork made from ordinary #2 pencils. Check out their full set of pencil carvings here. (Via Boing Boing.)
Breaking up by e-mail is now socially acceptable.
The economics of faking an orgasm. Full paper (.pdf format) here.
There are way too many goofy USB gadgets.
Camera phones are becoming increasingly useful in fighting crime.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

America's Funniest Senators: John Hargrave posed as a 10-year old boy and wrote every US Senator to ask for his or her favorite joke. How did they respond? Is your Senator one of "America's Funniest Senators" or "America's Unfunniest Senators"? (My favorite was John McCain's.)
JFK Airport has installed new urinals in the shape of a woman's open mouth. Article includes pictures. These urinals are only accessible to members of the Virgin Atlantic clubhouse at JFK. (Via Linkfilter.)

Friday, March 19, 2004

Hilarous parody of those annoying "Respect Copyright" trailers now playing in movie theaters. Watch it here. (Via Boing Boing.)
New dining fad: The cook-it-yourself restaurant. Um, sure... (Via ALDaily.)
"A new sex fad called 'dogging' is sweeping Britain, and it's all thanks to the wonders of technology."

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Pinky and the Brain as Klingons. Don't forget to click through to read all 5 parts. (Via Gravity Lens.)
"Your Trekkie Communicator is Ready"
Space commercials: A Russian scientist has patented a method of displaying commercials in space, visible from the Earth. His system uses multiple satellite with sunlight reflectors linked together to create a message large enough to be seen from the ground. (Via Ars Technica.)
"Spam-Free at Last: For approximately a month now I have been completely spam-free. This amazing feat is the result of a one-time cost of many hours of careful mailbox combing, email address rediscovery, a judicious use of dual-sided addresses for posting and receiving on mailing lists, and a kind of soul-cleansing I never really thought was possible."

The author describes his method at length in this article. His method seems to require a fair amount of work, but there are some other useful suggestions in the accompanying comments thread.
Mainland China is now the second-largest spam target after the USA.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Dr. Seuss drew political cartoons before and during World War II. Some of his cartoons on the dangers of appeasement are particularly relevant today. More cartoons available here. (Via James Hudnall.)
Nanniebots are automated software agents that log onto chatrooms and pretend to be young children in order to catch pedophiles. "The nanniebots do such a good job of passing themselves off as young people that they have proved indistinguishable from them. In conversations with 2000 chatroom users no one has rumbled the bots..." The article also includes some sample transcripts from the bots as well as real children, so you can see how good your Turing test skills are. Update: Michael Williams, an artificial intelligence expert and a PhD student in CS at UCLA has doubts about the claims as to how realistic the Nanniebots are. He explains his reasoning here.
Using network theory to visualize scientific turning points.
Virtual keyboards are now available for sale. (Via Linkfilter.)
Google: The print edition.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

"Why Every High-Performing Team Needs An 11-Year-old Boy" Good essay by Tom McMahon. Here's an excerpt:
Several years ago GE decided to consolidate several then-recent acquisitions under one name in its Medical Systems division. A team comprised of corporate vice-presidents, general managers, upper level managers, marketing managers, and more MBA's than you could shake a stick at came up with this name:

GE Medical Systems Healthcare Information Technologies

which abbreviates to


Of course, after the ordinary folk of the company provided their immediate feedback, this high-performing team (did I mention the MBA's?) dropped the "Healthcare" and the new group was launched. The point is, that if they had replaced just one of those MBA's with just about any 11-year-old boy, they could have saved themselves a lot of needless organizational embarrassment.

If you think they've learned this lesson, read on . . .
Ten minute parodies of "Fellowship of the Ring", "The Two Towers", and "Return of the King".
Analysis of the Batman theme song. (Via Serendipity.)
Random Law & Order plot generator.
"Pornographer donates address to U.S. government"
Everyone loves TinyURL.

Monday, March 15, 2004

40 years after Star Trek was first conceived by Gene Roddenberry, many of its futuristic gadgets are now part of daily life. The advances in medical technology have been especially dramatic, particularly in my own field of diagnostic radiology. But some Star Trek technologies are still a few years away. Interesting set of articles from the SF Chronicle.
How to avoid a heat-seeking missile.
George Bush's Hotmail account. (Via GMSV.)
Although this has been all over the blogosphere, it's still pretty funny: "City falls victim to Internet hoax, considers banning items made with water". Here's one of the realistic-looking dihydrogen monoxide hoax sites.
Gadget of the day: The USB Swiss Army Knife.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Motion Induced Blindness: In this striking optical illusion, staring at the central blinking green dot will cause the three stationary yellow dots to intermittently disappear. At first, I wondered if I was being fooled by the animation software and that the yellow dots really were disappearing. But of course every time I looked directly at the yellow dots they never wavered; they only disappeared when I looked at the green dot.

The Nature paper on this effect is available here (.pdf format), but the scientific basis of this illusion is still not well-understood. More interesting optical illusions are available here. (Via Linkfilter.)
Clothing that looks like tattoos.
I hate it when airline security hides firearms in passengers' suitcases without their knowledge as part of a training exercise. (Via Fark.)
Scientific paper of the day: "Electron Band Structure In Germanium, My Ass". (Via GMSV.)
"Physics can't find the biggest thing in the known universe, so it's looking beyond our paltry three dimensions..." (Via SciTech Daily.)
Interesting profile of Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay. My favorite quote from her:
"If I'm in an airport wearing an eBay hat or eBay T-shirt, people will come up to me and ask me if I work for eBay. When I tell them 'yes,' they say: 'I want to tell you, my feedback rating is 936.' Before they tell me their name, before they tell me what they sell, it's their feedback rating. It is a really important part of eBay's chemistry..."

Friday, March 12, 2004

Scientists have spun long rope-like fibers from nanotubules. In theory, these could be used to form ultra-strong cables.
Why women live so long.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

New definition of irony:
A user receives a virus-infected email message warning him that his email will be shut off if he does not open the infected executable attachment. The user opens the infected attachment. A few hours later, the user's company receives a phone call from their ISP informing them that their ability to send email will indeed be shut off because of a virus infection.
US Marines vs. quicksand. Now that's what I call a "quagmire"... (Via Linkfilter.) Update: Unfortunately, the link now seems to be diverted to a porn site, so I'm taking it down.
The geekiest wedding proposal ever. I think Diana would have killed me if I had done something like this...
Best computer pranks ever. The "continual crash" trick is especially devious...

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Quantum computing update: The "flying qubit".
Advances in veterinary medical education: The Bovine Rectal Palpation Simulator. (Via Memepool.)
The Concise History of 4000 Years of Medicine. (Via Boing Boing.)
Military and government agencies are now beginning to buy quantum cryptography systems.
"Excuse me, Mr. Prime Minister -- the French scientists are revolting!" "Well, you're not so good-looking yourself..."
We're leaving mysterious "crop circles" on Mars for future Martians to puzzle over.
The Mars Spirit Rover LiveJournal. (Via GMSV.)

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

How will the Universe end? Here's another take.
The entire first Superman comic book ("Action Comics #1") has been scanned page-by-page and can be viewed here. (Via Linkfilter.)
Industrial robots are having a significant but under-reported effect in the manufacturing sector.
The neurophysiology of religious experience.

Monday, March 08, 2004

The most common tune heard in musical hallucinations is supposedly the hymn "Abide with Me". No, I have no idea why either, but I suppose the average age of the sample size has something to do with it.
"What's On My Pen Drive?" (Via Metafilter.)
Interesting predictions from futurist Glen Heimstra.
Time lapse movies, including some slow-motion videos as well as accelerated time videos. (Via Linkfilter.)
American Express issues a special black card that allows its holders to buy almost anything. Update: Franz Gilbert pointed me towards this link on the American Express website.
If environmentalists are really concerned about global warming, then according to this MIT study they should be advocating aggressive use of nuclear power.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

"Does open source software enhance security?... Yes, but not for the reasons many think"

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Before there can be a Hobbit movie, some legal issues need to be sorted out first. Peter Jackson said,
"I guess MGM's lawyers and New Line's lawyers are going to have a huge amount of fun over the next few years trying to work it all out... I'm obviously busy for a couple of years on 'King Kong' so those lawyers can just go at it for a long time."

Jackson said if he were going to direct the movie, he'd want it to feel like the rest of the trilogy... "I'd want Ian McKellen to be back as Gandalf, I'd want it to feel like it was part of the same mythology that we've done with 'Lord of the Rings,'" Jackson said.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Octogenarian salad bar brawl. (Via Fark.)
Bizarre mutant frog discovered with 3 heads and 6 legs. Apparently all 3 heads are functional. Here is the news story and some more pictures. (Via Linkfilter.)
Bloggers like to borrow from each other, often without attribution. Not sure this is breaking news, but the study does include some interesting quantitative analysis.
Top 11 TV Shows Spun Off from The Lord of the Rings
Where can I get one of these cool robotic exoskeletons? (Via Gravity Lens.)
It's easy to fake UFO photos.
Phishing scams are more devious than ever. (Via IPList.)

Thursday, March 04, 2004

What happens when a meteorite strikes the Earth? "Do they bounce, stick or disappear? Nobody knows." Well these scientists are dropping bowling balls from airplanes in order to find out.
The Passion of The Christ: Transcripts from the blooper reel. Too bad we'll never see these scenes. (Via NewsTrolls.)

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

College students don't "date" anymore. Instead, their three dominant modes of socializing are "1) Hang out and 'hook up', 2) 'joined at the hip,' or 3) 'friends with benefits.'"
"If I win the lottery, should I ask for a lump sum or an annuity?"
This sleek machine is a true handheld computer, with 256 MB DRAM, a 30 GB hard drive, a 1 GHz processor, a 1024x600 screen, and a full version of Windows XP.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

"What's 'popcorn' in Aramaic?" A handy set of Aramaic phrases for moviegoers seeing The Passion of the Christ. My favorite:
Ma'hed lee qalleel d-Khayey d-Breeyaan, ellaa dlaa gukhkaa.
It sort of reminds me of Life of Brian, but it's nowhere near as funny.
(Via GMSV.)
Yahoo vs. Google: See how their searches compare. The circles indicate the top 100 hits from each search engine, with the lines indicating which sites show up in both searches. (Via Madville.)
Can you tell when someone is lying by their body language? According to the Harvard Business School, many so-called guidelines are actually myths. (Via Linkfilter.)
Now these guys have good memories.
Summarize a novel in 25 words. Fans of Ayn Rand might enjoy these two:
The Fountainhead: I'm naked on a cliff. I'm expelled, get a dead end job, rape a woman, become successful. I blow up a building, marry my victim.

Atlas Shrugged: Who is John Galt? I don't know. Oh, now I do. He's destroying the world. I will help. Now it's gone. We're very happy together.
(Via Jennifer Fulwiler/Buttafly.)
The Sopranos actors' personal lives are even more screwed up than their characters'. (Via Fark.)

Monday, March 01, 2004

Maybe the large asteroid strike off of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico didn't kill the dinosaurs after all.
Borg casemod. (Via Linkfilter.)
Marketing to the TiVo generation requires new strategies beyond the traditional 30-second commercial.
"Light signals can be stored on a semiconductor chip, according to computer simulations..."
Excellent overview of the physics behind rendering software.
Do we really need a TV set that doubles as a bathroom mirror?