Thursday, April 29, 2004

Google's IPO has a number of interesting quirks. For example: "If you take a close look at the form Google filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the exact value of its planned offering is $2,718,281,828 dollars, which some would immediately recognize as the mathematical constant e."
Soldiers in Iraq are armoring their dogs as well as their Humvees.
Funny cybersex logs. (Probably not safe for work.)
Fibonacci numbers are frequently found in certain plants such cacti and sunflowers. Now two mathematicians at the University of Arizona think they know why.
Austrian scientists have successfully completed the first bank transfer using quantum encryption.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Cool invention of the day: Robotic traffic cones. These self-propelled traffic markers use GPS guidance to open and close traffic lanes with speed and accuracy close to humans.
Evil invention of the day: The pop-up ad blocker blocker.
Five customers have already spent $50,000 each to have genetically identical clones created from their beloved pet cats. Cloning will start in May 2004, with the kittens expected in November 2004. More information is available from the website of the company, aptly named Genetic Savings & Clone.
Women tend to marry men who look like their fathers. (I must confess that I see little resemblance between myself and Diana's father unless he's got some secret Chinese genes hidden in his Western European phenotype.)
"California cops want spider guns". These would be used to capture would-be suicide jumpers in a "spider-like web". (Via Linkfilter.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Homemade weapon of the day: How to turn your $5 disposable camera into a cheap taser. (Via Linkfilter.)
What's new in mind control technology.
Whatever happened to HavenCo? It received a lot of publicity in this July 2000 Wired article as an offshore data haven located on the artificial island "nation" of Sealand, theoretically free from the reach of other governments. However, HavenCo's former Chief Technology Officer Ryan Lackey has since written a pretty scathing review of the subsequent events in "HavenCo: What Really Happened", available as a PDF file or HTML version. Of course, this is just one side of a story; more information is available here
Unlikely phrases from real phrasebooks.

Monday, April 26, 2004

"Microvision has developed a system that projects lasers onto the retina, allowing users to view images on top of their normal field of vision". Plus the eerie glowing red monocle makes you look like a Borg.
A new mineral has been discovered on the moon. The mineral is called hapkeite, and is formed when iron and silicon are bombarded by micrometeorites striking it at high speed.
Medical invention of the day: The "living bandage", made from a patient's own cells.
Using interchangable DNA parts to create "living machines" or "synthetic life".
Now this is real latte art! It makes the other stuff look lame by comparison. (Via Boing Boing.)

Sunday, April 25, 2004

The science of fishing lures: Some features are designed to attract fish. Other features are designed to attract fishermen.
Update on cold fusion. I'm still skeptical, but I'd love to see more scientifically rigorous research that can settle the issue one way or another. (Via Gravity Lens.)
Latte art. (Via Boing Boing.)
Liquid body armor. (Via Linkfilter.)
Dermatologists run amok: Boston University medical school professor Dr. Michael Holick has been fired by the Department of Dermatology in what appears to be a gross violation of academic freedom. Dr. Holick, an expert in Vitamin D metabolism and sunlight, ran afoul of the Dermatology Department chairman because of the following:
...Holick recommends people spend a few minutes two to three times a week, depending on skin type, exposed to the sun or lying under a sun lamp (without sun cream) to ensure they get enough vitamin D.

He says he does not advocate tanning or sun worship but "moderate" exposure to the sun sufficient to gain its benefits.

"I am advocating common sense, something often in short supply in America's approach to health. Our society doesn't seem to believe in a happy medium, only in extremes. The notion that we have to protect ourselves from the sun all the time is misguided and unhealthy." (Link to article.)
Holick cites a number of benefits to such moderate sunlight exposure, including prevention of osteoporosis, decreased levels of depression, and some new work indicating decreased risk of breast and prostate cancers.

This aroused a great deal of controversy in the academic dermatology community. For example, Boni E. Elewski, president of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD),
...argued that even a few minutes of sunlight exposure can be dangerous, and people can get what they need of the vitamin through supplements. "Any group, organization, or individual that disseminates information encouraging exposure to UV radiation, whether natural or artificial, is doing a disservice to the public..."
The AAD also stated that,
...Holick was irresponsible and compared his advice on the benefits of the sun to suggesting that smoking might be used to combat anxiety.
Dr. Barbara Gilchrist, chairwoman of the Department of Dermatology defended her decision to fire him as follows:
I would ask anyone to resign his appointment in the department if I felt that person was conducting himself in a way that was professionally irresponsible, potentially dangerous to the public and not conforming to what I think are very high standards for reporting scientific information.
As a physician myself, I believe this extreme "zero-tolerance" approach to sunlight to be patently absurd. More importantly, as Professor James Fleet (a Vitamin D and nutrition expert at Purdue University) observed,
If he was fired for his opinion, which is based on science, then it would appear to be a violation of the principles of academic freedom.
One claim made against Dr. Holick is that he has financial links to the indoor tanning industry. However, Holick "strongly denies any financial conflict in his research and says the tanning association did not directly support the book." Although Holick has been fired by the Department of Dermatology, he still retains his other appointments in the medical school , including his directorship of the Vitamin D Laboratory.

More information is available in these article from the Boston Globe, The Scientist, and IOL.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Criminal tip of the day: If you don't want to be arrested, don't include "rob bank" on your to-do list. (Via Neoflux.)
Curry may save brain cells. (Via Gravity Lens.)
Electronic languge translators continue to advance.
Cool toy of the day: The Microscope Pen.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

The entire Silmarillion in 1000 words. (Via Boing Boing.)
Neuroscientists have discovered the part of the brain responsible for those "Aha!" or "Eureka!" moments of insight.
Quantum computing continues to advance.
Eyeball, spyball.
Economic analysis of stealing an election by hacking the electronic voting machines.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Newly declassified: Saddam Hussein's interrogation logs.
Can you get amnesia from a blow to the head?
Christian teens are stealing Christian music at nearly the same rate as non-Christian teenagers are pirating secular music. The Christians' rationalizations are somewhat unique, however. (Via Madville.)
"Google and Akamai: Cult of Secrecy vs. Kingdom of Openness"
The dinosaurs might have died out because asteroid impacts led to a lack of female dinosaurs.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Steven Den Beste has posted a pair of great essays on the technology and tactics of space navies. Part 1 reviews the history and theory of naval warfare, and Part 2 applies those ideas to predict what space navies would look like assuming current technology. A must read.
The next technological revolution may be programmable matter. (Via Linkfilter.)
Your Planetary Protection Officer: What on Earth does he do? (Via Volokh Conspiracy.)
"Agog over Gmail": Another detailed review of Google's new Gmail. (Via IPList.)
Bubble fusion has reportedly been replicated. (Via Cosmic Log.)

Monday, April 19, 2004

Telemarketers are using all sorts of tricks to get around the new "Do Not Call" lists.
How do spammers work? (Via Linkfilter.)
Injecting medications without needles. This is almost a real-life version of the fictional Star Trek "hyposprays".
Review of various toolbars.
High tech yo-yos.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

"Trekkie communicator ready to go": The first major real-world applications are expected to be in hospitals, which should eliminate the aggravating phenomenon of "pager tag" between doctors and/or nurses trying to get a hold of each other when both are constantly moving from one location to another within the hospital. (Via Gravity Lens.)
A Florida man had to call 911 from his hospital room in order to get the nursing staff to fix his malfunctioning IV line. (Via Dave Barry.)
"The Fuss About Gmail and Privacy: Nine Reasons Why It's Bogus"
Pros and cons of the new Amazon search engine.
DARPA is trying to develop technology to allow soldiers to survive despite having lost most of their blood.
One page movie treatment of Harry Potter. Or was it Star Wars? Decide for yourself. (Via Linkfilter.)
The ultimate Star Trek drinking game.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Optical disc made from paper.
Three-dimensional search engine.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

A UCLA geophysicist has "set the scientific world ablaze" by predicting that a big earthquake of magnitude 6.4 or greater will hit the Los Angeles area by September 5, 2004. By monitoring precursor seismic activity and applying new pattern recognition algorithms, professor Vladimir Keilis-Borok and his team at UCLA's Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics "accurately predicted a 6.5-magnitude quake in central California last December as well as an 8.1-magnitude temblor that struck the Japanese island of Hokkaido in September". (Via David Solsberg.)
Ultra-condensed version of The Lord of the Rings in a two minute animated GIF. (Via Madville.)
"Nearly half of all spam is bugged with so-called 'spam beacons' for tracking users who open junk mail..." These spam beacons are small piece of hidden HTML code that are used to notify the spammers that the recipient e-mail address is a valid one.
Useful gadget of the day: Finderz Keyperz misplaced item locator.
Headline of the day: I don't know if this is a deliberate pun or not. (Via Metafilter.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Scientists have invented a new fire-fighting chemical that looks and acts just like water except it doesn't get things wet. It's expected to be especially useful in places like museums and libraries. (Via Fark.)
Raymie Stata has invented "the Google of e-mail". His system could eliminate the need for complicated filing systems for one's e-mail messages.
Gullible readers keep mistaking the parody stories from The Onion for truth.
The FDA has approved clinical use of human brain implants that will translate thoughts into computer instructions. These are expected to be used in patients who are paralyzed or suffer from other neurological conditions such as Lou Gehrig's disease.
The first user review of Google's new Gmail.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Scientific study on why cellphones are annoying to others. Interestingly enough, it's not just the loudness but also the irritation of overhearing just half of a conversation. (Via Linkfilter.)
ObPolitical Post: "In a parallel universe called 'What If'"
"Lightweight, super-strong robots will lead human soldiers into battle within 10 years..." My favorite quote from the article:
"We're not using these robots to hand out flowers..."
Reportedly, the first iRobot has already been destroyed in action, but the company claims it may have saved the life of an American soldier in the process.
"Jetson" Lifestyle May Not Be Too Far Away. (Via Fark.)
Are Vlogs (videoblogs) going to be the next big thing?
Geek limerick contest winners. My personal favorite was the "Spam Limerick" from Seth Brown:
Gifted students are better at using both sides of their brain. More information here.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Technical guide to shooting rubber bands. (Via GMSV.)
If gay marriage were legalized, it would be worth approximately $16.8 billion to the wedding industry.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Can you balance the federal budget? Here's your chance to try with this online simulator. (It's actually not that hard if one adheres to a strict minimal-government philosophy, but I suspect that my choices would be politically unpalatable to most of the electorate.)
The BBC will televise the first live sperm race. (Via Dave Barry.)
Physicists have created an atomic system in which the electron truly does orbit the nucleus like a planet going around the sun.
A new "phishing" scam utilizes a fake address bar in the browser window to fool the user into thinking that he's entering data into a legitimate site instead of the fake one.
Gadget fans will enjoy this new website, The Technology Log.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Astounding photograph of a male whale's reproductive organ. I feel very inadequate now. (Via Boing Boing.)

Thursday, April 08, 2004

The "Two Things" List: "For every subject, there are really only two things you really need to know. Everything else is the application of those two things, or just not important." Examples:
The Two Things about Trading
1. Buy low.
2. Sell high.

The Two Things about Marketing:
1. Find out who is buying your product.
2. Find more buyers like them.

The Two Things about Artificial Intelligence:
1. "Real" AI is very, very hard.
2. As soon as a branch of AI has practical applications, it ceases to be AI.

The Two Things about Economics:
1. Incentives matter.
2. There's no such thing as a free lunch.

The Two Things about Star Trek:
1. Don't beam down in a red shirt.
2. You can always talk evil computers into destroying themselves.

The Two Things about World Conquest:
1. Divide and Conquer.
2. Never invade Russia in the winter.
(Via Tom McMahon.)
New traffic lights can punish speeders by measuring the velocity of oncoming cars. If it senses a car going too quickly, the light immediately changes from green to yellow to red. This will definitely piss some people off. (Via Techdirt.)
Four-dimensional Rubik's Cube. After playing with it for 5 minutes, I have a huge headache... (Via David Solsberg.)
Japanese "smileys" (aka emoticons) are much more elaborate than the simple American ones. (Via Memepool.)

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

How many different ways are there to spell "Viagra"? According to this article, at least 600,426,974,379,824,381,952. (Via GMSV.)
NASA has invented a "black box" for people. (Via Michael Otte.)
Scientists have weighed a single bacterium.
More blurring of the line between virtual and real economies.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Surgeons who regularly play videogames are faster and make fewer mistakes in the operating room.
Time waster of the day: Tilt mazes. Other related puzzles here.
Evil tricks you can play on someone else's PC. (Via Linkfilter.)
"How your brain discards unwanted memories"

Monday, April 05, 2004

A bicycle with square wheels can still roll smoothly on the right kind of road.
Scientists are on the verge of creating artificial life. (Via Madville.)
Space will be the next battlefield.
"Suitcase" nuclear bombs: How small can a working nuclear bomb be built?
It's a quagmire! No, not the situation in Iraq. The 2004 Democratic Party convention in Boston...

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Size does matter.
Which will be the hot new computing paradigm: quantum computing or chaotic computing?
If I owned a gerbil, I'd buy him this PC HabiCase.
Sony's QRIO humanoid robot has successfully conducted a performance of Beethoven's 5th Symphony by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Robotic lawn mowers.
Ingvar Kamprad, the man who founded Ikea furniture, is now reportedly the world's richest man ahead of Bill Gates.
"Brawl breaks out at anger management assembly"

Saturday, April 03, 2004

"Imagine a portable device that runs on 4 AA batteries & runs for 20 hours+, has an address book, a date book, a notepad-like app, a built-in modem, a full-travel keyboard, a terminal application, even the ability to connect to a modern Windows or Linux based PC & transfer files. Sounds great doesn't it? But in 1983?" Great review of the Radio Shack TRS-80 Portable Computer.

Friday, April 02, 2004

An ultra-pure glass has been created in a NASA laboratory while being levitated in mid-air by static electricity fields. This method allows scientists to create special types of glass with unique chemical and material properties, because it is free of trace contamination from containers.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

"How to be a Programmer: A Short, Comprehensive, and Personal Summary"
Google's proposed Gmail service has been getting a lot of press lately. Here's an overview of the pros and cons. (Via Lisa Langsdorf.)
Is suicide against the law?