Tuesday, July 31, 2007

10 things your IT department doesn't want you to do, and how to do them anyways. (Via Diana.)
"How does a human calculator do it?" (Via Cosmic Log.)
Humans can't detect cellphone tower emissions:
Roughly 4% of Britons claim to be affected by radio waves from sources such as telephone transmitters and other electrical equipment.

...When told that the transmitter was switched on for 50 minutes, 'sensitive' individuals reported higher anxiety, discomfort and tension. But when asked to tell whether the transmitter was on or off, only two of the 44 'sensitive' volunteers were correct six times out of six. Five of the controls were equally successful.

And the severity of symptoms reported by the volunteers, as well as their heart rate and levels of sweating, did not depend on whether the transmitter was switched on or off, the researchers report...

...The results suggest that the many health problems attributed to mobile phone transmitters -- including nausea, headache and flu-like symptoms -- are probably caused by something else, says Elaine Fox, a psychologist at the University of Essex in Colchester, who led the research. She suggests that the problems may well be psychological.
This is a nice bit of science.
Sharks are repelled by geeky rare earth magnets.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Gillette is giving away a free trip to outer space. (Via Gravity Lens.)

Update: Jim May points out that the contest may be only open to Canadians. Bummer!
"The Top Ten science moments in The Simpsons". (Via Cynical-C.)
"In Japan, even sex goes high-tech"
"How I Envisioned My Adult Work Week When I Was 6 Years Old"

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Update on 3D-TV.
"Earthquake Sets Japan Back To 2147":
TOKYO—Japanese government officials confirmed Monday that the damage wrought on Japan's national infrastructure by the July 16th earthquake—particularly on the country's protective force field, quantum teleportation system, zero-point fusion energy broadcasting grid, and psychodynamic communications network—was severe enough to set the technologically advanced island nation back approximately 300 years to a primitive mid-22nd-century state of existence.

"Japan finds itself in crisis, with our society and culture temporarily reverting to a pre-cyberunification era," said Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, communicating non-telekinetically for the first time in his nearly 150 years of post-cryogenic life. "Though many citizens have been limited to algorithm-based emotion detection, neutron baths, speed limits below the speed of light, and other barbaric inconveniences for over a week now, I promise we will pull through."
(Via The Onion, of course.)
Humans are only barely better at poker than machines.
There are 12 kinds of effective ads. Learn how to resist them.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Orson Scott Card on cognitive bias and global warming.
"Profiting from mortality": Death Bonds.
Ultrastrong paper made from graphene.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Detailed update on MRI lie detection. (Via Bruce Schneier.)
My friend Francisco Gutierrez is blogging again.
Excellent camera illusion.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Admin note: Posting may be light or non-existent for the next couple of days, as I'll be reading the new Harry Potter book.
Statetris is Tetris with US states.
"Psychology, design and economics of slot-machines". (Via Boing Boing.)
God's Inbox. (Apparently God uses a Mac...)

Monday, July 23, 2007

How AT&T has broken up and come back together. (Via Neatorama.)
Bouncing cooking oil.
"Famous Poems Rewritten As Limericks." (Via GMSV.)
Laws of software development. (Via Found On The Web.)
Wireless power transfer: A nice overview.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

"10 things i hate about star trek". My favorite:
5. Rule by committee. Here's the difference between Star Trek and the best SF show on TV last year:

Star Trek:

Picard: "Arm photon torpedoes!"
Riker: "Captain! Are you sure that's wise?"
Troi: "Captain! I'm picking up conflicting feelings about this! And, it appears that you're a 'fraidy cat."
Wesley: "Captain, I'm just an annoying punk, but I thought I should say something."
Worf: "Captain, can I push the button? This is giving me a big Klingon warrior chubby."
Giordi: "Captain, I think we should reverse the polarity on them first."
Picard: "I'm so confused. I'm going to go to my stateroom and look pensive."


Captain: "Let's shoot them."
Crewman: "Are you sure that's wise?"
Captain: "Do you know what the chain of command is? It's the chain I'll BEAT YOU WITH until you realize who's in command."
Crewman: "Aye Aye, sir!"
(Via Clicked.)
"Kids say e-mail is, like, soooo dead":
Just ask a group of teen Internet entrepreneurs, who readily admit that traditional e-mail is better suited for keeping up professional relationships or communicating with adults.

"I only use e-mail for my business and to get sponsors," Martina Butler, the host of the teen podcast Emo Girl Talk, said during a panel discussion here at the Mashup 2007 conference, which is focused on the technology generation. With friends, Bulter said she only sends notes via a social network.

"Sometimes I say I e-mailed you, but I mean I Myspace'd or Facebook'ed you," she said.
(Via /.)
A marketplace for information on security breaches?
The world's tiniest PC's.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Computers are now unbeatable at checkers.
"Debris spots found on stars reveal planets that went splat like bugs on a windshield." (Via SciTechDaily.)
"101 Ways To Know Your Software Project Is Doomed". (Via GMSV.)
Ultracold physics.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

MIT scientists design new sleek, skintight spacesuit. (Via Gravity Lens.)
"People playing chess on roller coasters." Real life pictures inspired by this comic. (Via Boing Boing.)
"How Top Bloggers Earn Money". (Via MeFi.)
Before the 2007 iPhone, there was the 1983 Apple phone.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"Did Ron Howard exaggerate the drama of the reentry scene in the movie Apollo 13?"

The answer: A little bit, but not much. Flight director Gene Kranz (played in the movie by Ed Harris) explains:
The final ordeal of the flight was a radio silence, or blackout, caused by ionized air surrounding the command module during its superheated reentry through the atmosphere. With no radio signal, there was "no way to tell" how the crew and ship were faring, Kranz says. "There was no telemetry from Odyssey until the end of blackout," he recalls. "Take a look at the picture of the flight directors during blackout.... There was some distress, but nothing we could do about it." To make matters worse, the blackout went on longer than usual because the reentry path for Apollo 13 was longer and shallower than normal. "Per my mission log it started at 142:39 and ended at 142:45 -- a total of six minutes," Kranz relates. "Blackout was 1:27 longer than predicted... Toughest minute and a half we ever had."
Crocs: A cultural and aesthetic history.
The future of Google search technology.

Monday, July 16, 2007

How dangerous is it to be gored by a bull?
"How Useful Are You? Take This Technology Quiz"
There is a Twilight Zone episode where a businessman makes a pact with the Devil, which allows him to go back in time so that he can capitalize off of his knowledge about the future. It turns out though that the businessman's knowledge about the future is all superficial and thus he is unable to jump start any technological advancements by traveling back in time. This would likely be the plight of most contemporary humans if they were sent back in time. While we rely greatly on technology, most of us don't know much about how it actually works and where the materials to make it come from.

If you were to travel 2000 years into the past, how useful would you be in jumpstarting technological advancements? This 10 question quiz will help you figure out your technological usefulness. If you do poorly on the quiz, as most people likely will, then just let that inspire you to study up more on how things work and where raw materials come from.
I scored 10/10, but had two lucky guesses. (Via BBspot.)
"Five Ideas That Will Reinvent Modern Computing".
"Why can an opera singer be heard over the much louder orchestra?"

Sunday, July 15, 2007

New mathematical discovery about the properties of the Moebius strip:
[Mathematician Eugene] Starostin and his colleague Gert van der Heijden, both of University College London, have solved a conundrum that has perplexed mathematicians for more than 75 years -- how to predict what three-dimensional form a Möbius strip will take.

The strip is made from what mathematicians call a 'developable' surface, which means it can be flattened without deforming its shape -- unlike, say, a sphere.

When a developable surface is formed into a Möbius strip, it tries to return to a state of minimum stored elastic energy, like an elastic band springing back after being stretched.

But no one has been able to model what this final form will be. "The first papers looking at this problem were published in 1930," says Starostin. "It seems such a simple question -- children can make these things -- but ask the experts how to model this shape and we've had nothing."
People are reverse "upgrading" from Vista back to Windows XP.
What it's like to have "face-blindness", aka prosopagnosia. (Via Neatorama.)
"Nine Brain Quirks You Didn't Realize You Had"
Wealthiest Americans ever, adjusted for inflation.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I'd love a 40 Gigabit per second internet connection:
Sigbritt Löthberg's home has been supplied with a blistering 40 Gigabits per second connection, many thousands of times faster than the average residential link and the first time ever that a home user has experienced such a high speed.

But Sigbritt, who had never had a computer until now, is no ordinary 75 year old. She is the mother of Swedish internet legend Peter Löthberg who, along with Karlstad Stadsnät, the local council's network arm, has arranged the connection.

Sigbritt will now be able to enjoy 1,500 high definition HDTV channels simultaneously. Or, if there is nothing worth watching there, she will be able to download a full high definition DVD in just two seconds.

The secret behind Sigbritt's ultra-fast connection is a new modulation technique which allows data to be transferred directly between two routers up to 2,000 kilometres apart, with no intermediary transponders.

According to Karlstad Stadsnät the distance is, in theory, unlimited - there is no data loss as long as the fibre is in place.

..."The most difficult part of the whole project was installing Windows on Sigbritt's PC," said [network boss Hafsteinn] Jonsson.
(Via /.)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"Scientists find way to teleport atoms on optic fibres". (Via Engadget.)
Cynical-C has also made The Switch.

(Now that I'm 2 weeks post-Switch, I'm also very pleased. I've had no problems adjusting to the Mac OS X. And the Parallels 3.0 software allows me to run my work-related Windows software without any problem. My biggest concern was whether I could get into my office VPN from home through Parallels and it worked perfectly on the first try.)
"Top [Australian] cop predicts robot crimewave":
Technology such as cloned part-robot humans used by organised crime gangs pose the greatest future challenge to police, along with online scamming, Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty says.

..."Our environmental scanning tells us that even with some of the cloning of human beings -- not necessarily in Australia but in those countries that are going to allow it -- you could have potentially a cloned part-person, part-robot," he said.

"You could (also) have technology acting at the direction of a human being, but the human being being distanced considerably from the actual crime scene."
Um, right... (Via Bruce Schneier.)
Some ingenious/unscrupulous Europeans are making money by trading drivers license points on the internet:
It is the latest ruse on the roads of France: drivers are avoiding disqualification by trading licence points on the internet.

Complete strangers are taking the rap for speeding offences in return for up to €1,500 (£1,000), and police admit they are powerless to intervene. Even pensioners who have not driven for many years are getting in on the act.

...The technique is simple. In return for money, the seller provides his or her name and licence number in response to the speed camera ticket. The notice that is automatically sent to the owner of the offending vehicle includes a form for identifying another driver. Checks are extremely rare.
More details in this article.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Robot that walks on water.
"Second Life's virtual conference rooms might be more useful if they didn't resemble their real-world counterparts."
Invention of the day: Hands-free toilet paper dispenser. (Via Fark.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

iPhone software upgrades? (Via GMSV.)
"Joke comprehension may decrease with age". That's not funny...
When coins are worth more as metal than as currency. (Via Bruce Schneier.)
"The Geek Comic: The iPhone excuse."

Monday, July 09, 2007

Of the multiple iPhone reviews, this is one of the most informative and useful that I've read. (Via IPList.)
Evolution of the Apple form factor, 1976-2007. (Via Boing Boing.)
Competitive eating injuries.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Dutch museums are selling some of their surplus national art collection on eBay.
Sudoku and Graph Theory
Adding new meaning to the genetic code. It's like adding new letters to the alphabet.
Why ATM machine PIN numbers have 4 digits:
One by-product of inventing the first cash machine was the concept of the Pin number.

Mr Shepherd-Barron came up with the idea when he realised that he could remember his six-figure army number. But he decided to check that with his wife, Caroline.

"Over the kitchen table, she said she could only remember four figures, so because of her, four figures became the world standard," he laughs.
(Via Bruce Schneier.)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Time lapse photographs show the exact moment of when one embryo becomes two identical twins. (Via KevinMD.)
Admin note: Due to external obligations, posting may be light and/or irregular for the next week.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

"A robot controlled by a simulated rat brain has proved itself to be a remarkable mimic of rodent behaviour in series of classic animal experiments."
"Catching Cheaters With Their Own Computers"
The business and marketing of bottled water. (Via IPList.)
Jefferson's last letter: Thomas Jefferson was invited to attend a celebration in Washington DC on July 4, 1826, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He had to decline due to reasons of health, but he did write the following in his last letter:
I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have met and exchanged there congratulations personally with the small band, the remnant of that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between submission or the sword; and to have enjoyed with them the consolatory fact, that our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made.

May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government.

That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.
(Via Marginal Revolution.)

Monday, July 02, 2007

World map of social network dominance. (Via Clicked.)
"The Medical Tricorder Comes Two Steps Closer to Reality".
Best dog suit ever. (Via Neatorama.)
Mars or Earth? Can you tell which landscape is from Mars and which is from Earth? (Via BBspot.)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

"Why do banks use that awful robotic looking type font for routing and account numbers?"
Molecular surgery:
A single hydrogen atom has been snipped off a molecule and then added back on again, marking the first time a single chemical bond has been broken and reforged in a controlled, reversible way.
Turning peanut butter into diamonds.
Eating strategy and birth order? Here's an interesting tidbit from Marginal Revolution:
Do you eat the best thing first or save the best for last? Most people fall into one of these two categories and according to Brian Wansink's Mindless Eating there is a simple economic explanation. The people who eat the best thing first tend to have grown up as younger children from large families. The people who save the best for last are more often first borns. Need I say more?