Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Admin note: Posting will be spotty for the rest of the week due to obligations at work.
Top 10 UI bloopers in movies. (Via /.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"Skype stress detector calls my mother a liar":
With the recent release of Skype 3.0 for the PC (Mac and Linux users will have to wait), the company has made some intriguing third-party "extras" available from within Skype. One of those, the KiskKish lie detector, claims to do "voice stress analysis" on Skype calls, measuring the stress in the other party's voice for signs of deception.

The program is based on the observation that, when people lie, their voices tend to rise in frequency. Tension throughout the body tightens sensitive vocal chords and produces higher-pitched sounds that can be measured by machines.

Anecdotal testing of the KishKish software reveals, among other things, that my mother is a massive liar, especially when it comes to the contents of Christmas dinner. A needle charts the speaker's stress on a graph in real time after taking the first 10 seconds of a call to establish a baseline stress level. A small light also changes from green to red when stress levels are abnormally high, perhaps a signal that the person is lying.
Denver International Airport before and after the blizzard. (Via Boing Boing.)
How large is our world? And video version. (Via Howard Roerig and Speculist.)

Monday, December 25, 2006

The science of artificial snowflakes. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

"Whatever Happened To?...": Follow-up on 8 stories, including
The inflatable hotel?
Bird flu?
The predicted increase in storms?
A cheaper way to fight malaria?
The Hooke papers?
Woo Suk Hwang?
The new, extreme strain of tuberculosis in Africa?
The fish that crawled out of the water?
The new-fangled basketball?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Correlation between dog color and personality. Here's more info.
"'Hibernating' Man Survives For Three Weeks":
A man who went missing in western Japan survived in near-freezing weather without food and water for over three weeks by falling into a state similar to hibernation, doctors said.

Mitsutaka Uchikoshi had almost no pulse, his organs had all but shut down and his body temperature was 71 degrees Fahrenheit when he was discovered on Rokko mountain in late October, said doctors who treated him at the nearby Kobe City General Hospital. He had been missing for 24 days.
He is expected to make a good recovery, with no loss of mental function.
"UK report says robots will have rights". (Via Gravity Lens.)
"Mathematical proof is foolproof, it seems, only in the absence of fools". (Via ALDaily.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Admin note: The good news is that our ISP is working again. The bad news is that we're in the middle of a huge blizzard. So posting may be near-normal or it may be quite irregular for the next few days.
"Are a country's foreign embassies an extension of its territory?"
Invention of the day: "The backpack that's easier to carry". Using a specially designed bungee suspension system,
...a load weighing 27 kilograms "feels" more than 5 kilograms lighter: the walker uses only as much energy as they would for a normal rigid pack weighing 21.7 kilograms.

The reason, Rome and colleagues report in Nature, is that the bungee pack bounces up and down on the frame exactly out of step with the vertical movements of the walker's body. So these movements cancel out and less energy is wasted shifting the load up and down.
Here's a related article.
"Had he not died so young, James Clerk Maxwell would almost certainly have developed special relativity a decade or more before Einstein."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Space Marines.
"The YouTube world opens an untamed frontier for copyright law"
"10 Ways to Build a Cult-Like Following". (Via Gravity Lens.)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Advances in cooling technology.
Real world taxes on virtual world profits?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Diabetes paper: Here's the original Cell paper (PDF format) on the diabetes story. Plus some popular press writeups at Ars Technica and New Scientist.
Diabetes breakthrough? I hope this works in humans as well as it works in mice. (Via Howard Roerig.)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Admin note: Due to ISP problems, posting will be light for the next few days.

Friday, December 15, 2006

High temperature superconductors are quietly reaching the commercial marketplace.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More on the giant Swiss Army knife with 85 blades. (Via Gravity Lens.)
"Why You Don't Need Vista Now"
Interesting article on energy self-sufficiency and living off the grid. (Via Instapundit.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Invention of the day: "Phase-change" memory.
Virginia Postrel has written a good essay, "In Praise of Chain Stores".
After someone loses 300 pounds from gastric bypass surgery, what happens to all the excess skin?
"What Happens To Your Body If You Drink A Coke Right Now?"

Monday, December 11, 2006

"Researchers Create DNA Logic Circuits That Work in Test Tubes"
Video of the day: Cool mountain bike tricks. (Via Clicked.)
Why is it dangerous to burn gift wrapping paper?
"The phone of the future"

Saturday, December 09, 2006

"Firefly Reborn as Online Universe"

Friday, December 08, 2006

"The Geopolitics of Asian Cyberspace". (Via Clicked.)
"Hollywood's dumbest depictions of code"
Division by zero? (Via /.)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

ZIPScribble: "What would happen if you were to connect all the ZIP codes in the US in ascending order?" Based on the very cool zipdecode. (Via BBspot.)
"How To Recharge Standard Duracell Batteries". Here are the full instructions.
"If a sibling or other close relation of yours ever went to prison for more than a year, suspicion of criminal behavior now extends to you."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bones from glass.
Holiday gift idea of the day: Nontransitive dice (i.e., A beats B, B beats C, and C beats A). Great for bar bets. Here's where to buy them.
Intersting (and slightly troubling) article on the paradoxes of military technology. (Via Solsberg.)
The "Goodbye Weapon" makes you feel like you've been dipped in molten lava, but it's supposedly nonlethal.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The FBI can use your cell phone as a remote bug. Here's how to tell if it's happening to you.
Actual English subtitles used in movies made in Hong Kong.
Video of the day: "Octopus escaping through a 1 inch hole". (Via Marginal Revolution.)
So you want to watch some classic Monty Python sketches? (Via BBspot.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Michael Chorost has written an interesting account of how hearing with a cochlear implant differs from biological hearing. Here's an interesting excerpt from the book review:
No one reading this book can fail to be impressed by the power of neural plasticity, the brain's capacity to adapt to lost limbs or wrecked neural pathways or, as in this case, to take a brand new language of sensory input and turn it into something meaningful. (In fact, to turn it into something as close as possible to what was there before. Neural plasticity is, paradoxically, a highly conservative process. As Chorost puts it, "I knew what my own voice was supposed to sound like, and by God, my brain was going to hear it that way; to hell with whatever nerves were actually being stimulated." p. 87) What must have been a frustratingly lengthy process for Chorost can seem amazingly rapid to the reader: 24 hours after activation, for example, he has regained the ability to perceive women's voices as higher pitched than men's, not because they "really" sound like that, but because his brain knows they must sound like that.
I believe that the book review takes an overly representationalist view of the phenomena. For those familiar with the "form-content distinction", perhaps a more accurate way to describe his experience is that he has been able to reprogram his mind to reinterpret the novel data/content delivered by the cochlear implant into something akin to the original subjective "form" as before. (Via SciTechDaily.)
Detailed map of the United Federation of Planets. (Via Fark.)
"Ten Tips for Smarter Google Searches"
"An accident with some chopsticks has led to an experimental medical treatment based on stem cells".

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Top 100 TV catchphrases. (Via BBspot.)

Friday, December 01, 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 /.)