Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Detailed analysis of the so-called "abortion effect" and its effect on relative numbers of Democratic-vs.-Republican voters. Fascinating article.
You can buy Silly Putty in 5 lb lots for only $60. (Via Linkfilter.)
A fly's taste experience is similar to humans.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved leeches as a medical device.
How to pick a lock. (Via Metafilter.)
"Galaxy Cluster Abell 1689 Warps Space."

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Watching too much TV can hasten the onset of puberty.
Personal computing urban legends. (Via Techdirt.)
F3ll0wsh1p of teh R1ng. (Via GMSV.)
Dispatches from a Public Librarian: Three Tales of the Internet.
New text messaging speed record. Kimberly Yeo has set a new world record for speed text messaging. She was able to enter the following phrase in 43.66 seconds, smashing the old record of 67 seconds: "The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human." Contestants were not allowed to use the cell phone's predictive text function and the punctuation also had to be exact.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Invention of the day: Beer-pouring device for sports spectators.
The mystery of the "beach blobs" has been solved.
This simple nanomachine propels itself through liquid simply by changing its length.
Dogs catch frisbees the same way that outfielders catch baseballs.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

PhD Comics. (Via Linkfilter.)

Friday, June 25, 2004

Top Ten Most Untranslatable Words. The full list:
• THE TEN FOREIGN WORDS THAT WERE VOTED HARDEST TO TRANSLATE

1 ilunga [Tshiluba word for a person who is ready to forgive any abuse for the first time; to tolerate it a second time; but never a third time. Note: Tshiluba is a Bantu language spoken in south-eastern Congo, and Zaire]

2 shlimazl [Yiddish for a chronically unlucky person]

3 radioukacz [Polish for a person who worked as a telegraphist for the resistance movements on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain]

4 naa [Japanese word only used in the Kansai area of Japan, to emphasise statements or agree with someone]

5 altahmam [Arabic for a kind of deep sadness]

6 gezellig [Dutch for cosy]

7 saudade [Portuguese for a certain type of longing]

8 selathirupavar [Tamil for a certain type of truancy]

9 pochemuchka [Russian for a person who asks a lot of questions]

10 klloshar [Albanian for loser]



• THE TEN ENGLISH WORDS THAT WERE VOTED HARDEST TO TRANSLATE

1 plenipotentiary

2 gobbledegook

3 serendipity

4 poppycock

5 googly

6 Spam

7 whimsy

8 bumf

9 chuffed

10 kitsch
(Via Plastic.)
"British defense contractor BAE Systems has developed a stealth wallpaper designed to stop electronic eavesdropping on Wi-Fi networks. The company has produced panels designed to prevent outsiders from listening in on companies' Wi-Fi traffic but let other traffic through, including radio and mobile phone signals." (Via Netizen News.)
Canada's new quarter is much cooler than the American $0.25 coin. (Via Linkfilter.)
Where does outer space begin?

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Remote-controlled, internet-enabled, scriptable sex toys.
Spam is annoying enough for most people, but it's especially bad for blind websurfers who have to listen to it when using text-to-speech software. Here's a related story.
Dogs can predict epileptic seizures.
There are a lot of crazy tax-protestors out there who believe we aren't legally obliged to pay income tax. Here's why they're wrong. (Via Linkfilter.)
Quote of the day: "Thomas Edison invented the movie camera to show people killing and kissing..." (Quentin Tarantino in this article.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Amazing animated music video. Lengthy download, but worth the wait. (Via Solsberg.)
"The flight of the first private astronaut was not as perfect as it first appeared – a number of glitches occurred during the flight, some potentially catastrophic." Nonetheless, it was still a magnificent accomplishment. I especially like the last picture in this photo essay. (Last link via Ari Armstrong.)
Invention of the day: The Knock-In-Key keyless car security system lets you get into your automobile by tapping your secret knock. (Via Technology Log.)
It's surprisingly difficult to figure out exactly how many people are really visiting your website.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Computer models of traffic flow have become more accurate now that they incorporate human psychology into their cellular automata rules.
Slick wearable gadgets that are now available in Asia but not (yet) in the US. Pictures here.
Tracking glaciers with wireless pebbles.
"When the zombies take over, how long till the electricity fails?"

Monday, June 21, 2004

"The brain-gain revolution is already underway."
Learning to play a musical instrument can increase a child's IQ. (Note: this is different from the now-debunked "Mozart effect" in which some people claimed the merely listening to a lot of classical music as an infant or child would increase IQ.)
Using evolutionary algorithms to "breed" faster racecars.
Surf the net while surfing the waves with this internet-enabled solar-powered surfboard.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Star Trek: Voyager Plot Generator. (Via Gravity Lens.)
Invention of the day: Long distance non-lethal stun guns that can incapacitate large numbers of people at a time.
Literary site of the day: "Seven Haiku at Night in a Convenience Store" (Via David Solsberg.)

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Scientists have used "quantum teleportation" to transfer information between atoms.
3-D displays without the dorky glasses.
What Should I Do If My Television Dies?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

"Dating In Manhattan: An Exercise In Contract Law"
The Sarcos exoskeleton can give users superhuman strength. Lots of pictures.
Testosterone dampens pain sensations in males.
Quiz of the day: Dog Toy or Marital Aid? (Via Andy Trovinger.)
Invention of the day: "Look and shoot" helmets.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The Catholic Church is outsourcing American prayers to India. (Here's the original NY Times article.)
Am I GhettoFabulous Or Not? (Via Boing Boing.)
The newest prison contraband is the cellphone.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Invention of the day: The Invisible Wall, brought to you by the same person who created the Invisible Cloak.
Monty Python and the Fellowship of the Ring: Right here. Ni! (Via Linkfilter.)
How well is your popup blocking software working? Find out with this PopUp Test. (Via GMSV.)
Of the world's 100 largest economic entities, 51 are now corporations and 49 are countries.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

How to skin your PC running WinXP so it has the look and feel of a Mac running OS X. (Via Boing Boing.)

Friday, June 11, 2004

"NASA engineers are working on a robotic sphere that would propel itself around the space station, check the quality of the air and relay handy information to astronauts. Think of it as a cross between a tricorder and a lightsaber training droid."
As more people turn to online dating, experts are noticing some patterns. One analyst noted that, "Men lie about their availability, whether they have a steady girlfriend or wife, and women tend to lie mostly about their looks..."

Thursday, June 10, 2004

A Purdue mathematician claims to have proven the Riemann Hypothesis. He has made his work available here for review by other mathematicians. If true, this could be worth $1 million. (Via Cosmic Log.)
"Quidditch Sucks!": Detailed analysis of why the rules of this fictional game from Harry Potter don't make sense. (Via Volokh Conspiracy.)
Eric Drexler says "grey goo" most likely won't be a problem for nanotechnology.
Scientists have found a way to create a version of the Japanese pufferfish (a food delicacy also known as "fugu") without the deadly toxin.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Using shame against drunk drivers with "scarlet letter" license plates. (Via Technology Log.)
Computer models of traffic on the mean streets of Bogota, Colombia reportedly show that aggressive driving can reduce traffic congestion, albeit at the price of an increased death rate from motor vehicle collision. (This data doesn't explain why traffic is still so horrible in Boston, Massachusetts, where the drivers are extremely aggressive...)
The legal battle against spyware.
The human brain was not meant to multitask.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Update on nonlethal directed energy weapons. Set your phasers to stun! (Via Cosmic Log.)
Harry Houdini's classic "Metamorphosis" trick: How it was done. If you don't want to know the secret, then don't click through... (Via Metafilter.)
Future commercial applications of superconductors.
If you like to play the board game Go, then you need to know these Go Proverbs.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Brain teaser of the day: Petals around the Rose. Once you think you know the answer, you can test yourself with this applet. (I don't usually brag about these sorts of things, but I must confess that I was able to figure it out in 5 minutes. Diana also got it in about an hour...)
Do these satellite images show the lost city of Atlantis?
Automated supermarket checkout stations are exploding in popularity. Interestingly enough, the theft rate from the self-checkout lines is less than from the lines staffed by traditional human clerks.
How will the influx of money change Google's employee culture?
The Pop-vs.-Soda Map. (Via GMSV.)

Sunday, June 06, 2004

An asteroid strike 1.8 billion years ago turned part of the Earth's crust inside-out.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

How it feels to get shot.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Estimating the Airspeed Velocity of an Unladen Swallow. (Via BBspot.)
Invention of the day: New childproof medicine containers that rely on mental dexterity rather than physical strength. Given that a recent study showed that up to 90% of adults had trouble with current childproof packages, this could be step in the right direction.
Dedicated Simpsons fans have created this detailed map of Springfield. The big map is especially nice.
Good story about Pixar and how it became such a powerhouse.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Many corporate IT systems automatically add a lengthy e-mail disclaimer to the end of outgoing messages. Here's an interesting legal analysis of their validity. (Via Techdirt.) More information on stupid e-mail disclaimers can be found here, including these funny ones. (Via BBspot.)
The first privately funded spaceflight to carry a civilian in space is scheduled to take place on June 21, 2004.
Three ways to make money while blogging.
Everything you wanted to know about airfoils. Nice webpage on basic aerodynamics for the intelligent layperson. (Via Rand Simberg.)

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

It's way too easy to spot "undercover" air marshalls.
Management tip of the day: If you're the CEO of a major bank, and you decide to outsource your entire IT Department, make sure you remove all your porn from your workplace computer before your disgrunted employees rat you out to the press, thus forcing you to resign.
You can now bank your own stem cells in anticipation of future medical advances. Here's the corporate website.
"The largest prime number yet found has been discovered by a mathematics enthusiast using his desktop computer. The monstrous number has over seven million digits."

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Insecure password horror story of the day: During much of the 1970's, the US Minuteman nuclear ICBM missiles had their launch authorization codes set to "00000000" (without the knowledge of the President or Secretary of Defense) and that "everyone" at Strategic Air Command knew the "secret" password. According to the author, a former nuclear weapons officer:
The Strategic Air Command (SAC) in Omaha quietly decided to set the "locks" to all zeros in order to circumvent this safeguard. During the early to mid-1970s, during my stint as a Minuteman launch officer, they still had not been changed. Our launch checklist in fact instructed us, the firing crew, to double-check the locking panel in our underground launch bunker to ensure that no digits other than zero had been inadvertently dialed into the panel.

SAC remained far less concerned about unauthorized launches than about the potential of these safeguards to interfere with the implementation of wartime launch orders. And so the "secret unlock code" during the height of the nuclear crises of the Cold War remained constant at 00000000.
The locks were eventually activated in 1977. (Via Slashdot.)
A student who has been expelled from his degree program for internet plagiarism is suing the university for having caught him too late. He claims that the school "should have spotted what he was doing and stopped him sooner."

According to this article, his argument is as follows:
It's a technique I've used since I started the course and I never dreamt it was a problem. I can see there is evidence that I have gone against the rules, but they've taken my money for three years and pulled me up the day before I finished. If they had pulled me up with my first essay, and warned me of the problems, it would be fair enough. But all my essays were handed back with good marks and no one spotted it.
"Japanese and U.S. scientists have genetically engineered a bovine embryo that is resistant to the deadly mad cow disease..."
Space robots that will need to work in the frictionless conditions in outer space are being trained on Earth on air hockey tables.