Thursday, June 30, 2005

10 Future Google Headlines You Don't Want To Read. (Via Linkfilter.)
How To Make A Realistic Star Field. (Via BBspot.)
"A giant cloud in space is emitting regular flashes of laser light, astronomers have shown. The laser is powered by the spinning corpse of a dead star."
Cracking open a comet.
Why you can't tickle yourself.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

"Could a nuclear weapon be built and carried in a suitcase?"
"A traffic forecasting system capable of predicting traffic conditions seven days in advance will go live to the public in California on Wednesday."
Google Earth: "The idea is simple. It's a globe that sits inside your PC. You point and zoom to anyplace on the planet that you want to explore. Satellite images and local facts zoom into view. Tap into Google search to show local points of interest and facts. Zoom to a specific address to check out an apartment or hotel. View driving directions and even fly along your route. We invite you to try it now." (Via Linkfilter.)
Make your own R2-D2! (Via memepool.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Time Waster of the Day: "Is It Normal?"
How it works:

1. Read the small story below.
2. Ask yourself "Is it normal?" and choose "Yes" or "No" in the green box.
3. See what others thought on the left. Repeat.

Example: "Sometimes I just stare at my hands and my wrists. The backs of my hands and how thin my wrists are and what colors they are and the veins and hairs and any scratches or marks. It just amazes me that these are my hands. I look at my fingernails and the folds of skin and the fingerprints... Does anyone else do this? Do you think it's normal, or weird?"
Try it now. (Via Linkfilter.)
"10 Things You Should Do If You Encounter A UFO". (Via Fark.)
Brain scans show the neurological basis of post-hypnotic suggestions.
Archibald "Moonlight" Graham was a real person, not just a fictional character in the movie Field of Dreams. 100 years ago today, he made his only appearance in the major leagues for the New York Giants. Here's his story.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Real life Eye of Sauron, taken by the Hubble telescope.
Cool new calculator interface does away with the standard button-based syntax. More info here.
"We're Not Dismembering Babies": Dispelling some myths about stem cell research.
The Best Product Designs of 2005. Here's the full slide show. (Via MeFi.)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Radiology story of the day: Locksmith John Somers makes duplicate car key from patient's xray showing swallowed original car key.
Somers said the X-ray was unlike anything he had ever seen. The key was clearly outlined in the picture, located just to the right of the spine.

"I've seen all kinds of things. This is the most bizarre," Somers said Thursday afternoon as he held up the X-ray to the light.

"It's a perfect silhouette."

Using the image, Somers made two new keys in just a few minutes, based on the visible notches in the original key and the type of keys used for the vehicle.
(Via Boing Boing.)
"Space Tourism: Keeping The Customer Satisfied"
Scientists have discovered a new species of bacteria in the deep ocean that "uses faint light emitted by deep-sea hydrothermal vents to power its metabolism." This is "the only photosynthetic organism in nature known to use a light source other than sunlight" to provide its energy needs.
Some online gambling websites are thriving due to the American ban on online gambling.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Carnival of Tomorrow 5.0 is now up.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

"Why your brain has a 'Jennifer Aniston cell'". Here's a related article.
"MIT physicists create new form of matter".
How the Web changes your reading habits.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

"How To Perform Strong Man Stunts". (Via MeFi.)
Beautiful map of Mars.
Summer Moon Illusion.
The economics of being Batman. Here's the breakdown of the costs.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Ken Ogle has started a promising new blog, ForwardBiased.
Stupid airline security rules: US military personnel on a recent flight from Savannah, Georgia to Kuwait city were notified of "FAA regulation that requires soldiers - all of whom were armed with an arsenal of assault rifles, shotguns and pistols - to surrender pocket knives, nose hair scissors and cigarette lighters." (Via Bruce Schneier.)
Updated link on the paper folding problem: "There's a widespread belief that one can't fold a piece of paper in half more than 7 or 8 times. However, Britney Gallivan has shown that with clever planning, one can fold a piece of paper 12 times(!)"
World's Gayest Logos. Not that there's anything wrong with that... (Via Boing Boing.)
The head of the Japanese space agency wants to establish a moon base by 2025. Staffed by robots, of course. As Diana pointed out, "Overlord master robots, I hope? I mean, if it's not with overlord master robots, it's not worth doing..." (Via Engadget.)

Monday, June 20, 2005

MRI brain scans can tell when a woman is faking an orgasm.
"Even the courts know the Internet is the first place to turn for information." In other words, if you haven't done a Google search, you haven't done your due diligence.
Why too many physicists use "137" as their briefcase lock combination.
Number theory story of the day: It's got primes, partition numbers, and Ramujan's notebooks, explained in terms accessible to the intelligent layperson. What more do you need?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Ultra life-like robot.
Invention of the day: An "intelligent carpet" that tells robotic vacuum cleaners where to go, and can even direct the robot to spots it might have missed. (Via Linkfilter.)
"A new aeroplane has been designed entirely in virtual reality."
"Computer scientists in the US are developing a system which would allow people to 'teleport a solid 3D recreation of themselves over the internet." And it's based on the animation of "Wallace and Gromit".

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Inside the bizarre world of art forgery. (Via ALDaily.)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Are methane-producing bacteria the explanation of the Bermuda Triangle mystery? (Via Boing Boing.)
James Bond fans will enjoy the James Bond Film Flowchart and the Opening Sequence Flowchart. (Via Gravity Lens.)
Internet legal issue of the day: Does it count as "possession" if one views child pornography over the web, and copies of the images are automatically cached onto the viewer's hard drive? This point is being argued in a Georgia court. (Via /.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Mathematics of "word of mouth".
Lawsuits over who becomes valedictorian. (Via ALDaily.)
Time waster of the day: Derek's Virtual Slide Rule Gallery. (Via Gravity Lens.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Lateral thinking puzzle of the day: This is from the CarTalk website.
I'm getting old and a little absent-minded, so my friends got together and bought me a stylish little desk calendar. It's a cradle for two cubes, each with one number per face.

They figured I probably had enough left in me to figure what year it was and what month it was, but the date was going to elude me. So, this little gift was going to show the date. So, for example, if it were the 21st, I'd rotate one cube until a "2" was showing, and the other would show a "1". The next day I would know to rotate one cube so, together, the two cubes would read "22".

With the two cubes, I was able to express every date. For example, if it were the 2nd of the month, it would be expressed as "02". If it were the 18th you'd put up a 1 and an 8, and so on.

Here's my question. If you were designing the cubes, what numbers would you paint on each one so you could express all the dates from "01" to "31"?
You know the VCR is a dead technology when Wal-Mart decides to stop selling VHS format movies. (Via Techdirt.) Update: Wal-Mart denies the above.
Little known internet sideline careers. (Via BBspot.)

Monday, June 13, 2005

"Some Cafe Owners Pull the Plug on Lingering Wi-Fi Users"
Invention of the day: Nanotechnology brushes, with bristles made from carbon nanotubules. "The brushes can be used for sweeping up nano-dust, painting microstructures and even cleaning up pollutants in water."
A look inside the job of fortune cookie writer.
Best improvised iPod Shuffle case, ever.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Hamilton Naki, was one of the world's most gifted transplant surgeons. During his 40 year career, "he instructed several thousand trainee surgeons, several of whom moved on to become heads of department". Yet he was listed in the hospital employee records as a gardener. Find out why.
"Futuristic alloys called amorphous metals could someday combine the strength and electrical conductivity of ordinary metals with the versatility and low cost of plastic."
Random Corporate Gibberish Generator. (Via David Solsberg.)

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The 50 Worst Hairstyles of All Time. (Via BBspot.)
The new "Carnival of Tomorrow" is available.
Noah Schachtman of DefenseTech is skeptical about the "space rods" story below. He explains why.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

One step closer to the single-molecule transistor. Moore's Law marches on...
"The Rods from God: Are kinetic-energy weapons the future of space warfare?" (Via SciTech Daily.)
Web innovation of the day: The Google Content Blocker. (Via GMSV.)
Math geeks will like these cool metal scuptures. (Via Boing Boing.)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Medical trivia of the day: According to an Israeli researcher, Jesus may have died of a pulmonary embolus, i.e. when a blood clot breaks loose from the leg and lodges in the lungs. (This is the same condition doctors warn air travellers about, since they spend such a long time sitting with their legs relatively immobile).

Nowadays, Jesus would have been diagnosed with a 16-detector chest CT scan, then treated with intravenous heparin, but the Romans obviously had neither the technology nor inclination to do so. Besides, to have done so would have undermined the entire basis of Christianity...
"Experts have discovered a previously unknown work by Johann Sebastian Bach..." (Via Rand Simberg.)
The BBC will have all 9 Beethoven symphonies available for free downloading for a limited time. (Via NewsTrolls.)
"Secret TiVo Tips and Tweaks"
Swingset physics: Last weekend Diana and I were at the playground with some friends and their kids, and we started wondering how "pumping" one's legs on the swingset caused the swing to go higher. We weren't able to figure out the answer at the time, but fortunately a Google search revealed the answer.
"The world's first quantum encryption computer network has been expanded to include a wireless link that uses quantum communications codes."
The fastest gun in the West: "Scientists at the Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque, New Mexico have accelerated a small plate from zero to 76,000 mph in less than a second."
Invention of the day: A Japanese "robot suit" that enhances human strength.
Potential bookstore customers are browsing less.

Monday, June 06, 2005

"Invention Allows Humans to Breathe Like Fish: Alan Izhar-Bodner, an Israeli inventor, has developed a way for divers to breathe underwater without cumbersome oxygen tanks. His apparatus makes use of the air that is dissolved in water, just like fish do."
"In an emergency, disobey authority." (Via BBspot.)
The Little Girl and the Telescope: An excellent little vignette. (Via Rand Simberg.)
How to move the Earth. (Via Linkfilter.)

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Building a simulated brain: I've often wondered how long it would take before something like this would be attempted by scientists. This classic staple of science-fiction and philosophy thought experiments may apparently soon become a reality:
An effort to create the first computer simulation of the entire human brain, right down to the molecular level, was launched on Monday.

The "Blue Brain" project, a collaboration between IBM and a Swiss university team, will involve building a custom-made supercomputer based on IBM's Blue Gene design.

The hope is that the virtual brain will help shed light on some aspects of human cognition, such as perception, memory and perhaps even consciousness...

Until now this sort of undertaking would not be possible because the processing power and the scientific knowledge of how the brain is wired simply was not there, says Charles Peck, IBM's lead researcher on the project.

"But there has been a convergence of the biological data and the computational resources," he says. But efforts to map the brain's circuits and the development of the Blue Gene supercomputer, which has a peak processing power of at least 22.8 teraflops, now make this possible.
The unique topology of the I-95/I-695 highway interchange near Baltimore. More info here.
"What Does Your Ringtone Say About You?" One excerpt:
If your phone plays a classic rock tune, you're showing your age, but you get points for figuring out how to change the ringer, Gramps.

If your phone is still playing "Jingle Bell Rock" in July, you're not going to impress people with your productivity.

If your ringtone is a current hip-hop or R&B hit, you're young at heart, but you're not particularly original. Hip-hop ringtones accounted for more than half of the $300 million U.S. market in 2004.

If your phone plays the sound of an old mechanical phone bell, you're not as funny as you think you are.

If your phone plays the theme song to a television show, you're not going to impress anyone with your intellectual acumen. Perhaps a Mozart or Beethoven ringer would do some damage control.

If your phone never leaves vibrate or silent mode, you may be the kind of important person who can't afford to waste time answering a phone call right now. Or maybe you just think you're that important. However, you may also be considerate and respectful, the kind of person we'd like sitting behind us in a movie theater.

Unfortunately, we tend to get saddled with seatmates whose phones play the popular "Crazy Frog," the clucking chicken, or any number of other annoying animal noises. If you're one of these folks, you may be a sociopath.
(Via Virginia Postrel.)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Why you should clean your plate.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Politically incorrect (but possibly scientifically correct) story of the day: "The high intelligence of Ashkenazi Jews may be a result of their persecuted past."

The argument is that Ashkenazi Jews are more intelligent than the norm (a good thing) for reasons that are also linked to their increased incidence of various neurological diseases such as Tay-Sachs and Gaucher's disease (a bad thing).

The proposed natural selection mechanism is similar to that which causes people of West African descent to be more resistant to malaria (a good thing), yet also gives rise to sickle-cell disease (a bad thing) - namely a mutant gene which is beneficial if a person has one copy, but detrimental if a person has two copies.

At this point, I regard this theory as speculative but plausible. But as the article points out, it is a partially testable hypothesis.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

A previously unknown moon of Saturn is causing tiny waves in Saturn's rings due to its gravitational effects. Includes nice photograph.
Invention of the day: The camera that sees behind objects. "Researchers from Stanford University and Cornell University have put together a projector-camera system that can pull off a classic magic trick: it can read a playing card that is facing away from the camera. The dual-photography system gains information from a subject by analyzing the way projected patterns of light bounce off it. "
Fake Windows features.
Predictions of life in the future, from the year 1900. (Via Rand Simberg.)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

"Trust in a bottle: Researchers have produced a potion that, when sniffed, makes people more likely to give their cash to someone to look after."
"The Science of Consistency": Entertaining discussion of some of the methods used to deal with internal inconsistencies in fictional universes, especially science-fiction universes. Includes the following proposed experiment.
...[M]y friend David Whitney (a talented Boston-area architect and a pillar of his community) decided to subject his older son, a youngster named Charlie, to an experiment that might conclusively prove, in a way that my theorizing never could, whether the whole Star Wars saga logically holds together.

...[H]e would show the films to Charlie in numerical order (and thus fictional-chronological order) rather than in the order that they were released. Charlie would meet Vader as a child before the character becomes an evil adult.

...I had an ulterior motive for egging Dave on. Getting the child to watch the series with fresh eyes from Episode I through VI in order, in a way that we Generation Xers never can, would enable us to watch the child for signs of confusion: the child might spot contradictions that our chronology-skewed brains never would. Other obvious research questions suggest themselves: When would Charlie first notice that Senator Palpatine is a bad man who wants to become Emperor, for example? When would he first have doubts about Anakin? Would Charlie be saddened that in Episode IV Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru don't remember their old friends C-3PO and R2-D2? (Note: I do not have children of my own and do not intend to have any, so it is only natural that I experiment on children from other families.)
Click through to learn the (anticlimactic) result. (Via Clicked.)
Wil McCarthy explains why we should reduce the Moon's size by 60%. I can hear the environmentalists howling already... (Via Gravity Lens.)
Radio stations are trying a new "random format" in order "to appeal to listeners used to loading their own iPods with music from different genres or to keep the loyalties of those thinking about switching to satellite".
"Water into wine: Few insiders will admit it, but the dirty little secret about Californian wines today is that many of them are adulterated. That happens to be no bad thing..."