Friday, July 29, 2005

Excellent optical illusions. (Via BBspot.)
Robotic Lego hand.
Salaries of America's favorite TV dads, in 2005 dollar$. (Via Linkfilter.)
Brice Mellen is a video game prodigy. And he's also blind.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Forbes Best of the Web.
"I Am F*cking Terrified"
Admin note: My Blogger template file was corrupted late last night, but fortunately my smart and beautiful wife Diana was able to salvage my blogroll and set me up with a new template while I was tied up at work. Given the positive responses to the new look, I think I'll keep it for a little while. BTW, posting may be light for the next couple of days.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

"Canadian scientists are performing DNA tests on a tuft of hair said to come from a sasquatch, a legendary ape-like creature also known as Bigfoot." (Via Gravity Lens.)
Worst Album Covers Ever, set 3. And don't forget set 1 and set 2. (Via Linkfilter.)
Logogle: You'll have hours of fun with this Google Logo Maker. (Via Tom McMahon.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Microsoft's version of virtual Earth is missing the Apple Computer headquarters.
"Soon in Japan, it'll be raining ads".
Quirky Japanese Invention of the Day: Automatic Human Washing Machine.
Japanese scientists have invented a way to store up to 5 megabits of data onto a human fingernail using femtosecond laser pulses. The data lasts for approximately 6 months, which is the length of time it takes for the body to completely replace the fingernail tissue. Researcher Yoshio Hayasaki notes:
I don't like carrying around a large number of cards, money and papers... I think that a key application will be personal authentication. Data stored in a fingernail can be used with biometrics, such as fingerprint authentication and intravenous authentication of the finger.
(Via Mahalanobis.)

Monday, July 25, 2005

"Scientists... have discovered a whole family of previously unknown materials, which are one atom thick and exhibit properties which scientists had never thought possible." (Via Technovelgy.)
The mathematics of folding a grocery bag.
Barcode confusion: Record store clerks have been confused by the cover art for the album "Electric 80's", which features a giant barcode. Many clerks have been mistakenly scanning the cover art as the price tag, and hence inadvertently selling the album for a steep discount. Here's what the album cover looks like. (Via Fark.)
Soon, we will be cooling computers with liquid metal. Of course, from there it's only a short step to making invincible Terminators out of "mimetic polyalloy"...

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Top 10 downloads of the past 10 years.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

"If World War Two had been an online Real Time Strategy game". Contains some profanity. (Via GMSV.)

Friday, July 22, 2005

Classiest iPod mini case ever.
"BMW adds super-vision to night driving". (Via Clicked.)
Top 10 internet fads.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

US Postal Service instructions on how to ship a hippopotamus. (Via Fark.)
What happens when you combine "Hot or Not?" with Google Maps. (Via Linkfilter.)
Google Map of the Moon. BTW, check out the map detail at full zoom (close-up).
"40 Things That Only Happen In Movies"

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

None of my math instructors at MIT ever looked like her: The NY Times has an excellent profile of actress Danica McKellar, who played Winnie on The Wonder Years. Some excerpts:
Ms. McKellar, now a semiregular on "The West Wing" playing a White House speechwriter, Elsie Snuffin, is probably the only person on prime-time television who moonlights as a cyberspace math tutor.

Her mathematics knowledge extends well beyond calculus. As a math major at the University of California, Los Angeles, she also took more esoteric classes, the ones with names like "complex analysis" and "real analysis," and she pondered making a career move to professional mathematician.

She may also be the only actress, now or ever, to prove a new mathematical theorem, one that bears her name. Certainly, she is the only theorem prover who appears wearing black lingerie in the July issue of Stuff magazine. Even in that interview, she mentioned math.
Those who want to know more about the Chayes-McKellar-Winn theorem can read her paper, "Percolation and Gibbs States Multiplicity for Ferromagnetic Ashkin-Teller Models on Z^2".

(Via Tom McMahon.)
The new British Antarctica base will be built on skis so that it can be moved out of the way in case of climactic trouble.
Bar code clock.
Quick-thinking man uses Google Maps, an unsecured WiFi connection, and his laptop in court to get out of a traffic ticket. (Via Boing Boing.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Update: I've corrected a bad link to the "100 Greatest Math Theorems" site. (Thanks, Sam!)
Great waiterblog. (Via Memepool.)
"Birds have learnt to imitate the ring tones of the omnipresent mobile phones, say German ornithologists... Many of the more common ring tones are themselves imitations of bird calls, so the birds are in some instances mimicking another species." (Via Boing Boing.)
The 100 Greatest Math Theorems. (Via Linkfilter.)
Getting closer to a proof of the twin prime theorem.

Monday, July 18, 2005

According to the latest study, a third of medical studies are wrong.
Invention of the day: A Turing Machine built out of Legos. Includes very detailed instructions. (Via Boing Boing.)
"Did you ever wonder what it would be like to pop a water balloon in space?" Cool videos. (Via MeFi)
How to build a time machine without exotic conditions or materials, but only "normal matter and the vacuum known to exist in space". The key is shaping it like a doughnut. ("Umm, doughnuts!...")

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Carnival of Tomorrow Version 6.0 is now up. The theme: "Is humanity evolving (or going the other direction)?"

Friday, July 15, 2005

"How do airplanes fly, really?"
How To Fail Your Chemistry Exam.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Caltech astronomer Maciej Konacki has discovered a world with 3 suns.
"With three suns, the sky view must be out of this world," says Konacki, who likens it to the vista seen by Luke Skywalker in Star Wars as he watches two suns set from his home planet of Tatooine.
Incidentally, this discovery casts significant doubt on current theories of planetary formation.
"How a Fly Escapes Your Swat": The secret is the jumping, not the flying.
Retro comic book of the day: "The Computer That Said 'No' To Drugs", starring the Tandy Computer Whiz Kids. No, really. (Via Metafilter.)
Psychiatric patients who hear imaginary voices usually hear male voices, and this is true for both male and female patients. Here's why.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

"Stop reading this headline and get back to work": A recent survey of the biggest time-wasters at work shows that (no surprise), websurfing is the biggest cause. Socializing with co-workers, and conducting personal business are 2nd and 3rd. (Via /.)
Time wasting game of the day: Planarity. (Via BBspot.)
The Picotux is the world's smallest Linux computer, "only slightly larger than an RJ45 connector". (Via Glenn Butler.)
Classified ad of the day: Click here and take a look at the top ad. I sure wish I knew how that one turned out... (Via BBspot.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Modern microprocessors are inherently chaotic in their behaviour. (Full article available here.)
Glass sponges. (Via Mitch Berkson.)
Fun with sparklers and long exposures. And yet more cool pictures. (Via Boing Boing.)
Death is less painful for the rich.

Monday, July 11, 2005

One of the little known business casualties of 9/11 has been the manufacturers of Swiss Army Knives. (Via Gizmodo.)
"Why don't trees grow on the Great Plains?"
The current state of teleportation research.
"The Smell of Power: Odor and Mating Preferences"

Sunday, July 10, 2005

"Bloggers Need Not Apply": When university faculty search committees are considering a job applicant, the mere fact that they run a weblog may be held against them, "even if the blogger/applicant has never mentioned any details about his or her workplace or fellow employees, employer or students online". According to this professor (writing under a pseudonym),
The content of the blog may be less worrisome than the fact of the blog itself. Several committee members expressed concern that a blogger who joined our staff might air departmental dirty laundry (real or imagined) on the cyber clothesline for the world to see. Past good behavior is no guarantee against future lapses of professional decorum.
For the record, I think the argument cited is incredibly unsound. But the very fact that there are people on academic search committees who believe this argument and make hiring decisions accordingly is troublesome. (Via Metafilter.)
"Mobile-phone firms have found a profitable way to help the poor help themselves". One of the best anti-poverty programs for the so-called developing world that I've heard about is this for-profit initiative by mobile phone manufacturers. Basically, the manufacturers are recognizing that there's a huge untapped market in the third world for inexpensive yet reliable mobile handsets. Here are some relevant excerpts:
Mobile phones have become indispensable in the rich world. But they are even more useful in the developing world, where the availability of other forms of communication -- roads, postal systems or fixed-line phones -- is often limited. Phones let fishermen and farmers check prices in different markets before selling produce, make it easier for people to find work, allow quick and easy transfers of funds and boost entrepreneurship. Phones can be shared by a village. Pre-paid calling plans reduce the need for a bank account or credit check. A recent study by London Business School found that, in a typical developing country, a rise of ten mobile phones per 100 people boosts GDP growth by 0.6 percentage points. Mobile phones are, in short, a classic example of technology that helps people help themselves...

...[A]s markets have become saturated in the rich world, manufacturers have started to realise that their future growth depends on catering to the needs of developing nations. As a result, they have been working with operators to develop new extremely cheap handsets and to boost adoption in the poor world.

Several operators from developing countries teamed up earlier this year under the auspices of the GSM Association, which promotes the use of GSM, the world's dominant mobile-phone standard. They invited the handset-makers to bid for a contract to supply up to 6m handsets for less than $40 each. The contract was won by Motorola. Delivery of handsets began in April. The low cost is not due to cross-subsidy from high-margin handsets or "corporate social responsibility" funding, insists David Taylor of Motorola. "We do make a margin -- a much smaller margin, but it is still a margin," he says...

Such a phone cannot simply be a cut-down version of an existing handset. It must be very reliable and have lots of battery capacity, as it will be used by people who do not have reliable access to electricity, says Mr Taylor. Motorola's low-cost handset has a standby time of two weeks. And the handset must conform to local languages and customs: Motorola's handset, for example, includes a football game in Africa, but a cricket game in India.

Nor can the makers skimp on design. Kai Oistamo of Nokia, the world's largest handset-maker, notes that people in poor countries have to spend a far larger proportion of their income than those in the rich world to buy even the cheapest handset. "So looks and brand are highly important -- it is much more of a status symbol in those societies," he says. And it is wrong, points out Mr Prahalad, to assume that consumers in poor countries will not be interested in fancy features such as music-playback. Since they cannot afford multiple devices -- an iPod, a PC, a PlayStation -- they may want more from their mobiles.

As handset-makers respond to this new market, prices will continue to fall. "We will give you the volumes so that you can continue to drive down prices," promised Sunil Mittal, boss of Bharti, a big Indian operator, at a recent industry conference. On June 29th Philips, a Dutch electronics firm, announced a new range of chips designed to take handset costs below $20.
As the article observes, this could be a significant win-win for both the manufacturers and their potential customers.

(In contrast, the present strategy of sending aid money to corrupt governments merely makes the problem worse, as this article shows.)

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Video of the day: Slow motion of a Glock being fired. (Via Madville.)

Friday, July 08, 2005

Cow-free beef.
Do women suffer more than men?
The Southern accent explained. (Via Fark.)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Swiss will introduce the legally binding digital postmark.
Tetris shelves. (Via BBspot.)
Women will soon be able to look forward to their annual remote robotic breast exam.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Joke of the day:
A farmer asks an engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician to build him the largest possible pen out of a fixed amount of fencing.

Without giving it a second thought, the engineer builds the farmer a large, circular pen.

After a moment's consideration, the physicist builds a long straight piece of fence, and says, "We can consider the length of the fence to be infinite," pointing out that fencing off half the globe would be a more efficient solution.

The mathematician laughs gently at both of them, builds a tiny pen around himself, and says "I declare myself to be on the outside."
(Via Forward Biased.)
"The world's air transportation network resembles the Internet."
The science for (at least some) differences between identical twins.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Admin note: Posting may be light-to-nonexistent until Monday, July 18.

Friday, July 01, 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.