Wednesday, December 27, 2006
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.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
"Whatever Happened To?...": Follow-up on 8 stories, including
The inflatable hotel?
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
"'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.He is expected to make a good recovery, with no loss of mental function.
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.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
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.Here's a related article.
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.
"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
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Some Germans want to put gamers in real-world jails for "crimes" they commit in virtual worlds. (Via Rand Simberg.)
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Monday, December 11, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
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.)
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
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.)
"An accident with some chopsticks has led to an experimental medical treatment based on stem cells".