Thursday, November 30, 2006

"If programming languages were women". Warning: If you're easily offended by mildly non-PC humor, then don't click through. (Via Andy Thissen.)
Great slide show on how LEGO bricks are made.

Interesting tidbit: "...[T]he factory also produces 306 million tiny rubber tires a year. In fact, going by that number, LEGO is the world's No. 1 tire manufacturer." (Via /.)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What really happens when the human body is exposed to the vacuum of outer space? (Via Gravity Lens.)
Ticket scalping goes high-tech.
Now this looks like a comfortable chair. (Via BBspot.)
Timewaster of the day: "Asteroid's Revenge".
You are an asteroid that's seen many of your brethren decimated by the evil spaceships in the original Asteroids game. The loss of your rock-fellows has hurt and scarred you deeply. For long, your rocky heart has longed for revenge. So now, you've finally decided to go to the ships and destroy them...
(Via Neatorama.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"Researchers have now found a blind man who experiences deja vu through smell, hearing and touch."
"Top 11 Ways Blogging is Like Sex"
Inventions of the day: Transparent household appliances. (Via BBspot.)
Chess was banned under the Taliban and in Khomeini's Iran because it encouraged complex, nuanced thinking. Bottom paragraph of the article. (Via ALDaily.)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Eugene Volokh notes, "this year for the first time Asians outnumbered any other racial group, including whites, among students admitted to all University of California schools. (This had already been the case as to some schools.)"
"Top 20 Replies by Programmers to Testers When Their Programs Don't Work"
Do humans have a compass in their nose?
"Will It Blend?": Multiple videos of various food and non-food items placed in the Total Blender. Includes two separate sections, "Try This At Home" and "Don't Try This At Home". (Via Found On The Web.)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cancer stem cells. Good article in the popular press on the science. (Via Howard Roerig.)
Happy "Cyber Monday"! (And I hope everyone had a good "Black Friday" as well):
"BLACK FRIDAY", the day after Thanksgiving, is traditionally the start of the busiest shopping season in America. This year is no different. Shoppers on Friday November 24th were expected to race to the malls to snap up this season's hottest gifts. The day is "black" not because of the misery of queues and crowds, but because it marks the moment when retailers are supposed to move from the red (indicating losses) to the black (indicating profits).

...And the internet is ever more popular. ComScore Networks, an internet information provider, says online retailers expect the biggest sales ever on "Cyber Monday", the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday, when millions of Americans take advantage of high-speed internet in their offices to hunt for presents.
"Two Swiss scientists said on Wednesday they had been able to identify a part of the brain that may be responsible for the 'out-of-body' experiences of patients who came close to death."
Legal liability for linking?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Beware the Sushi Police. (Via Volokh.)
"The 25 Funniest Analogies Collected by High School English Teachers".

(PSH -- I can't vouch for their authenticity, but they are funny...)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The history and science behind the search for a "truth serum". According to the article, "There is no pharmaceutical compound today whose proven effect is the consistent or predictable enhancement of truth-telling." (Via Bruce Schneier.)
Astounding video on how a blind teenager uses human echolation to "see". (Via Howard Roerig.)
"Where do police get the people for lineups?"
Interesting story on the sociology and order of a PS3 waiting line in Chicago.
Thanksgiving story of the day: "The Myth of Tryptophan"
At some point tomorrow the family know-it-all will explain why everyone's sleepy: "It's the tryptophan! Turkey has a natural sedative, and that's why you want to pass out." It's conventional wisdom now, which means it's probably wrong...

...It's a myth. From my detailed research -- i.e., Googling around the Internet -- it appears that the tryptophan in turkey is A) insufficient to knock you out, and B) the wrong kind, anyway. The most likely excuse for drowsiness? Oh, I don't know. It's a mystery. Could have something to do with the 6 pounds of protein and carbs sitting in your belly, and the fact that your body has to rush all available blood to the region to deal with the holiday wad. Add some wine to the mix, and it's a miracle you're not face down in the yams before the pie comes.

Here's an exercise for tomorrow: As soon as someone heads for the couch, blaming the tryptophan, chase him with an ax. He'll wake fast and run in panic, just like a turkey. And they're full of the stuff.
(Via Cosmic Log.)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Teenager creates nuclear fusion in parents' basement.
Legacy computers and the Space Shuttle:
The U.S. Space Shuttle computers cannot tell one year from another. Some of the software, when it hits December 31st, goes on to December 32nd (or, day 366). This is why the Shuttle can never operate through a change of year. The Shuttle control computers on earth do recognize the changing of the year, but some of the computers on the Shuttle do not, which makes News Years Eve flights impossible. The Shuttle is reaching the end of its useful life, and that three decade old software bug is one of many ways it is showing its age. The Shuttle was designed in the late 1970s, and many of the computers are still using 1980s computer technology. The web, and sites like eBay, have been a salvation for the Shuttle. That's because these auction sites make available a lot of ancient (1980s) computer technology, to provide spares for Shuttle gear that is no longer manufactured.
Wikipedia Brown and the Case of the Captured Koala. (Via MeFi.)

Monday, November 20, 2006

"The World's Most High-Tech Urinal". (Via GMSV.)
Edible cotton.
"iPod glow leads to lost mushroom picker"
Chocolate milk is good for athletes.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Video of the day: "Worst Burglar Ever".
Real-life time travel? University of Washington physicist Jon Cramer will try to send a photon backwards in time:
If his experiment with splitting photons actually works, says University of Washington physicist John Cramer, the next step will be to test for quantum "retrocausality."

That's science talk for saying he hopes to find evidence of a photon going backward in time.

"It doesn't seem like it should work, but on the other hand, I can't see what would prevent it from working," Cramer said. "If it does work, you could receive the signal 50 microseconds before you send it."
(Via Clicked.)
Cool photographs.
The Economist on pro blogging.
Scientists have built a robot that can sense damage and adapt its actions accordingly. Not quite the Terminator, but one small step closer.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Was life on Earth inevitable?" (Via BBspot.)
Why the new wave of Silicon Valley startups are picking names without vowels (e.g. "Flickr" or "Pluggd").

As Virginia Postrel notes, this is a "fad that will give the survivors a nice vintage feel in five or 10 years..."
Damascus steel swords may owe their extraordinary sharpness due to carbon nanotechnology. Here's a related story.
Virginia state police abandon the traditional "10-x" codes, in the face of surprising resistance. (Via MeFi.)
Michigan at Ohio State: On September 10, 2006, two games into the college football season, I made the following comment on Rand Simberg's blog Transterrestrial Musings (second comment down):
My fantasy for this season is that Michigan and Ohio State both go 11-0 coming into their November 18 Big Ten finale, ranked #2 and #1 by that time. Those other conferences can eat their hearts out!
Sometimes things just work out nicely... Go Blue!

Here's a little bit of history as well. And perspectives from two opposing fans. (PSH, native of Kalamazoo, MI; UM Med 1989)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"KFC targets extraterrestrials with huge logo":
The KFC Corp. on Tuesday launched a rebranding campaign with an 87,500 square-foot image of Colonel Sanders in the Nevada desert which the company says makes Kentucky Fried Chicken the world's first brand visible from space.

"If there are extraterrestrials in outer space, KFC wants to become their restaurant of choice," KFC President Gregg Dedrick said in a statement.

The logo consists of 65,000 one-foot by one-foot painted tile pieces that were assembled like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

"If we hear back from a life form in space today - whether NASA astronauts or a signal from some life form on Mars - we'll send up some Original Recipe Chicken," said Dedrick.
More info and images on the corporate website. (Via GMSV.)
"Six major airlines are to fit aircraft passenger seats with iPod docks":
US carriers Continental, Delta and United, along with Air France, Emirates and KLM, will begin adding iPod connectors during the middle of next year.

Of course, what's not yet clear is which class of traveller will get iPod connectivity, but we suspect it'll be those whose seats command higher ticket prices to start off with. They'll not only be able to keep their music players powered up, but play iPod-stored video content on seat-back screens.
"Air Force wants Terminator Tongues".
Deceiving pictures. (Via Found On The Web.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Amputees' phantom limbs return in virtual reality". (Via Solsberg.)
Is this the perfect face for comedy? (Via Cosmic Log.)
"The stages of an exploding laptop battery"
Trailer for Spider-Man 3.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Judge rules that a burrito is not a sandwich:
Is a burrito a sandwich? The Panera Bread Co. bakery-and-cafe chain says yes. But a judge said no, ruling against Panera in its bid to prevent a Mexican restaurant from moving into the same shopping mall.

Panera has a clause in its lease that prevents the White City Shopping Center in Shrewsbury from renting to another sandwich shop. Panera tried to invoke that clause to stop the opening of an Qdoba Mexican Grill.

But Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke cited Webster's Dictionary as well as testimony from a chef and a former high-ranking federal agriculture official in ruling that Qdoba's burritos and other offerings are not sandwiches.

The difference, the judge ruled, comes down to two slices of bread versus one tortilla.

"A sandwich is not commonly understood to include burritos, tacos and quesadillas, which are typically made with a single tortilla and stuffed with a choice filling of meat, rice, and beans," Locke wrote in a decision released last week.
(Via BoingBoing.)
Excellent video demonstration of a non-Newtonian fluid:
They filled a pool with a mix of cornstarch and water made on a concrete mixer truck. It becomes a non-newtonian fluid. When stress is applied to the liquid it exhibits properties of a solid.
Here's the Wikipedia entry.
Internet shoppers are now more impatient than ever. If a site doesn't load up within 4 seconds, then they'll often not return. This is a decrease from the 8-second lag that shoppers would be willing to endure a few years ago.
"Australian air guitar T-shirt actually rocks"

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Video of the day: "Sexual Consent". No nudity, but some of the dialogue may be borderline NSFW. (Via DonW.)
A meal that Homer Simpson would love. (Via Solsberg.)
Graduate student uses techniques from cognitive neuroscience to win $500,000 on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?". (Via Marginal Revolution.)
"The Top 10 Lies of Web 2.0". (Via Fark.)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

" video prompts probe of LAPD":
An FBI investigation prompted by video footage of a man being punched repeatedly in the face by police has demonstrated anew the power of the Internet sensation of the year,

In addition to being a monumental time-waster around the office, YouTube could also become a tool for keeping police honest, some say.

This week, a clip on the post-it-yourself video Web site triggered a police-brutality investigation by the FBI. The footage shows the Aug. 11 arrest of alleged gang member William Cardenas, 24. Two Los Angeles officers can be seen holding him down on a Hollywood street; one punches him several times in the face before they are able to handcuff him.

The Los Angeles Police Department is also investigating the officers' conduct.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Republicans Blame Election Losses On Democrats":
WASHINGTON, DC -- Republican officials are blaming tonight's GOP losses on Democrats, who they claim have engaged in a wide variety of "aggressive, premeditated, anti-Republican campaigns" over the past six-to-18 months. "We have evidence of a well-organized, well-funded series of operations designed specifically to undermine our message, depict our past performance in a negative light, and drive Republicans out of office," said Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, who accused an organization called the Democratic National Committee of spearheading the nationwide effort. "There are reports of television spots, print ads, even volunteers going door-to-door encouraging citizens to vote against us." Acknowledging that the "damage has already been done," Mehlman is seeking a promise from Democrats to never again engage in similar practices.
Forensic statisticians are developing clever anti-steganography algorithms.
Video of the day: Attractive blonde shows "How To Put On A Bra". Safe for work. (Via Solsberg.)
Update on commercial quantum encryption. (Via MeFi.)
May we should be listening for alien TV.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Interesting information on copyright law.
Spiders with a chili-flavoured bite.
New Microsoft screensaver mimics the Blue Screen Of Death.
One of the most feared colors in the NT world is blue. The infamous Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) will pop up on an NT system whenever something has gone terribly wrong. Bluescreen is a screen saver that not only authentically mimics a BSOD, but will simulate startup screens seen during a system boot.

...Bluescreen cycles between different Blue Screens and simulated boots every 15 seconds or so. Virtually all the information shown on Bluescreen's BSOD and system start screen is obtained from your system configuration -- its accuracy will fool even advanced NT developers. For example, the NT build number, processor revision, loaded drivers and addresses, disk drive characteristics, and memory size are all taken from the system Bluescreen is running on.

Use Bluescreen to amaze your friends and scare your enemies!
(Via GMSV.)
Video of the day: Time lapse of ants digging a new home.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Undergoing brain electrostimulation while sleeping can improve memory and learning. (Via Cosmic Log.)
Illustrated internet acronyms. (Via Boing Boing.)
Designer decimals are fractions with cool decimal expansions. will help clean up embarrassing material about you that's circulating on the web.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Admin note: GeekPress will take a hiatus for 1-2 days.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Video demonstration of "waterboarding".

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Rubber band physics in super slow motion. Includes multiple video links.
The ethics of robo-warfare.

Personally, I don't see any ethical issues in using battlefield robots, if the underlying war is already morally justified, and if the robots perform reliably. (Via Cosmic Log.)
Are you geek enough to hang with the TopCoders? (FWIW, it seems like a very interesting business model.)
Book In-Jokes. (Via BBspot.)
Cool video of the day: "Extreme Mentos and Diet Coke - Domino Effect". (Via Found On The Web.)
"A Satellite Orbiting Earth is Learning to Think for Itself". (Via Gravity Lens.)
"The Seven Phases of Owning a iPod".