Monday, June 30, 2008

After distributed computing, astronomers try distributed human brain power.
"Silicon photonic crystals key to optical cloaking:
...[R]esearchers have demonstrated an approximate cloaking effect created by concentric rings of silicon photonic crystals.

... "This is much more than a theoretical exercise," said Harley Johnson, a Cannon Faculty Scholar and professor of mechanical science and engineering at Illinois. "An optical cloaking device is almost within reach."
Motivating soldiers by having them get beat up by a 77-year old grandmother:
Miss Wakabayshi, who stands exactly 5ft tall, looks tiny compared to her charges who are mostly over 6ft.

But the pensioner is a trained master in an array of martial arts disciplines including jujitsu, jojitso, kenjitso, judo, kendo and karate.

...After flooring an opponent she tells them: "Don't think it's unbelievable. The physique doesn't matter." ...Italian military officers hope the experience of being humiliated by Miss Wakabayshi will toughen up their soldiers.
(Via Clicked.)
"70+ Tools, Tips and Hacks To Work From Bed". (Via BBspot.)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Metallic glass update. (Via Ari Armstrong.)
Giant steel ball used to dampen earthquake vibrations in a skyscraper. Includes video. (Via BBspot.)
Nice summary of MythBusters results. (Via Neatorama.)
"International Association of Time Travelers: Members' Forum". (Via Found On The Web.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Boosting your memory with a 9-volt battery.
"UK teens are using Google Earth to find swimming pools they can crash." (Via Bruce Schneier.)
One clue that you might want to find another hospital.
"GOOD Guide to the Shadowy Organizations That Rule the World". (Via GMSV.)
Nice lip-synch version of Tom Lehrer's classic "New Math". (Via Kim's Play Place.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Harnessing the untapped power of breast motion"
Judge officially rules that Duke football sucks:
Judge agrees: Duke football as bad as it gets

A Franklin, Ky., Circuit Court judge sided with a devilishly clever argument and ruled in favor of Duke University yesterday in a breach of contract lawsuit brought forth by the University of Louisville.

Judge Phillip J. Shepherd agreed with Duke's lawyers — the football team is so bad that any replacement would do.

U of L sued Duke for $450,000 — or a series with another Atlantic Coast Conference opponent — after the Blue Devils backed out of a four-game football contract with three dates remaining.

The contract called for a penalty of $150,000 per game if a date with a "team of similar stature" could not be arranged.

Duke's lawyers argued the Blue Devils, which have a record of 6-45 over the past five seasons, were so bad that any team would be a suitable replacement.

Judge Shepherd agreed in his summary:

"At oral argument, Duke (with a candor perhaps more attributable to good legal strategy than to institutional modesty) persuasively asserted that this is a threshold that could not be any lower. Duke’s argument on this point cannot be reasonably disputed by Louisville."
(Via Volokh.)
Nicholas Carr asks if the internet is rewiring our brains? Or as he puts it, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" (Via DRB.)
The Onion video of the day: "Study: Most Children Strongly Opposed To Children's Healthcare"

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Physicists can store images in vapor.
The classic Microsoft staff photo from 1978 and the reunion photo 30 years later. (Via BBspot.)
"Getting Found Out, Web 2.0 Style: In a world of Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr, our little white lies can come back to haunt us. Will we get more honest, or shut off the feed?"

Or as Brent Butt said on the TV show Corner Gas, "I once got caught in a lie, and I learned an important lesson that day about lying more convincingly."
Stream algorithms.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The past and future of Yahoo, eBay, and Amazon from The Economist.
Universal law of coiling.
Prosthetic foot update.
"The 25 Best High-Tech Pranks". (Via BBspot.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"How to Balance 17 Dominoes on One Domino". (Via Clicked.)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Some excellent "Teach the Controvery" t-shirts. My favorites are the Turtle Cosmology and Classical Period Table designs. I just wish the Turtle shirt showed that it was "Turtles all the way down".

(Via BBspot.)
(Real) headline of the day: "Man gets Windows Vista to work with printer". (Via GMSV.)
"Is the Universe Actually Made of Math?"

Or is this just a new twist on the philosophical doctrine of "idealism"?

(Perhaps I'm misunderstanding Tegmark's thesis, but I must confess that I have no idea how mathematical ideas can be the underlying substrate of reality, with physical beings and thinking minds arising from them. That seems like a total inversion of the dependence relationship, since one would think that ideas can only exist if they are generated by a conscious mind or minds.)
Acoustic cloaking.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Physicists Model Single Molecular Switch, Computing's Elusive Holy Grail"
Is there a genetic advantage for hyperactivity (ADHD)?
If you have a fear of heights, then don't watch this video. And especially don't watch in in full screen mode. (Via Not Totally Rad.)
"You've Had a Genetic Test. Now What?"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Way more information than you ever wanted to know about how Google Gmail web app works. (Via BBspot.)
Kicking ass chart. (Via Dan G.)
The Gizmodo iPhone 3G FAQ.
"Scientists find bugs that eat waste and excrete petrol".
Update on Chinese hacker attacks against US Congressional computers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One of the best predictors of road rage is the number of bumper stickers on your car. Interestingly enough, it's the number of bumper stickers and not the content that matters.
Link between brain symmetry and sexual orientation? Or to paraphrase Seinfeld, "He sure has symmetric amygdalas -- not that there's anything wrong with that..."
"Christian Theologians Prepare for Extraterrestrial Life"
The chemistry of "superatoms".

Monday, June 16, 2008

You can get some pretty good stuff in foreign grocery stores. (Via BBspot.)
Video of the day: "Learn How David Copperfield Flies". (Via Clicked.)
Artificial DNA.
Controversial new swimsuit technology.
What we know about they mysterious Tunguska blast of 1908, one hundred years later.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Off-topic weekend political post on Ted Kennedy and "universal" health care. Someone sent me the following excellent essay by Dr. Richard Parker. I agree with every word:
Ted Kennedy vs. Universal Healthcare: A Double Irony
by Richard Parker M.D. (June 9, 2008)

Senator Ted Kennedy recently underwent an operation to remove a brain tumor at Duke University. Besides Hillary Clinton, no other politician in America has devoted as much of his political career to the enslavement of physicians. The name Ted Kennedy (and Clinton) is nearly synonymous with the anti-concept "Universal Healthcare."

It was reported that Senator Kennedy chose his surgeon for this difficult operation after very careful research and consultation with his physicians in Boston. Using his free and independent judgment, Kennedy chose Dr. Allan Friedman, a surgeon renowned for his experience and expertise in the field of neuro-oncological surgery.

No government regulations restricted the Senator in this extremely important personal choice. Facing a life threatening illness, no bureaucrat forced the Senator to chose his surgeon nor hospital from a government "approved" list--a list not generated by Kennedy's independent and free judgment, but by "public servants" whose expertise is not Kennedy's life, but the arbitrary and byzantine politics of "pull", of favors owed and collected, of political pressure groups and the bitter reality of healthcare rationing. No, Kennedy was not forced to sacrifice his life, liberty nor property in the name of the so-called "greater public good."

The surgeon he chose, Dr. Allan Friedman, has freely devoted his life to treating patients with neurological tumors. Dr. Friedman wasn't coerced into medicine; his patient load is not presently rationed nor stipulated by bureaucrats. Dr. Friedman was still free to accept Senator Kennedy as his patient and was free to choose the best surgical approach for treating the Senator's tumor. No bureaucrat stipulated how many patients per day, week, month or year Dr. Friedman may accept and treat during the long decades he spent perfecting his life-saving skill. Dr. Friedman is still relatively free to use his expert judgment in the face of the awesome responsibility he assumes with each patient he treats.

Ironically, however, if Senator Kennedy succeeds in his ambition of forcing a government financed (and therefore government controlled) healthcare system onto the American people, all these life altering and personal freedoms will vanish with the strokes of a few pens in Washington. This is the reality of any government enforced healthcare system—both patients and physicians will face a vast increase in taxation and the loss of additional property (fines) and liberty (imprisonment) if they violate the morass of arbitrary and contradictory regulations that will descend on a healthcare industry that is already all but crippled with the slow but steady creep of government controls over the past 50 years.

In her novel Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand predicted one of the most pernicious aspects of so-called "Universal Healthcare"—the refusal of talented minds to be forced at the point of a gun. Dr. Hendricks, a neurosurgeon in Atlas Shrugged, describes the indignation that lead him to leave medicine:
"Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill?... I observed that in all the discussions that preceded the enslavement of medicine, men discussed everything--except the desires of the doctors... I have often wondered at the smugness with which people assert their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, to violate my conscience, to stifle my mind--yet what is it that they expect to depend on, when they lie on an operating room table under my hands? Their moral code has taught them to believe that it is safe to rely on the virtue of their victims. Well, that is the virtue I have withdrawn."
Ted Kennedy will undoubtedly continue his push for the enslavement of physicians with what remains of his political career. What he will evade, of course, is that his surgeon chose to go to medical school and spend decades training for and practicing neurosurgery in what is still the freest healthcare system in the world. What Kennedy will refuse to acknowledge is that under his vision of “Universal Healthcare” he would never have had the absolute freedom to choose his surgeon, nor would his surgeon have had the absolute freedom to treat him.

The fact that "Universal Healthcare" will destroy what freedoms in American medicine still remain (and thus all the Dr. Friedman's under whose virtue the fate of Kennedy's brain now lies), will be not only evaded but explicitly denied—never mind that Kennedy chose not to go to one of the many "industrialized countries that provide 'Universal Healthcare'." Apparently, Kennedy ignored Michael Moore's claims of the excellent healthcare provided in other “industrialized” communist and socialist nations that provide "Universal Coverage", albeit this is precisely what Kennedy seeks to bring to America at the point of a gun.

While the successful outcome of Senator Kennedy's operation depended on freedom, Kennedy has devoted his political career to legislating freedom out of existence. This is an irony that America's news media will evade, much less report.

Richard Parker is a practicing physician in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. He holds and MD from Brown and MD from Yale University. He has published in the scientific literature and has written Op-eds for the Ayn Rand Institute and Capitalism Magazine.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Astronomical data from before the Big Bang? (Via BBspot.)
Quantum-entangled images.
Bruce Schneier discusses the new TSA requirement to show one's photo ID:
The TSA has a new photo ID requirement:
Beginning Saturday, June 21, 2008 passengers that willfully refuse to provide identification at security checkpoint will be denied access to the secure area of airports. This change will apply exclusively to individuals that simply refuse to provide any identification or assist transportation security officers in ascertaining their identity.

This new procedure will not affect passengers that may have misplaced, lost or otherwise do not have ID but are cooperative with officers. Cooperative passengers without ID may be subjected to additional screening protocols, including enhanced physical screening, enhanced carry-on and/or checked baggage screening, interviews with behavior detection or law enforcement officers and other measures.
That's right; people who refuse to show ID on principle will not be allowed to fly, but people who claim to have lost their ID will. I feel well-protected against terrorists who can't lie.
Daniel Solove adds:
...[T]his rule will allow TSA officials who don't like you to have even greater power. If you lose your ID, you better hope that the TSA officials believe you, take pity on you, and otherwise think you're being cooperative. It's entirely up to them!
"When Do Post-Humans Show Up?" (Via Instapundit.)
"Radiology of Competitive Speed Eating":
...[O]n an anatomic and physiological basis, there are only a few logical ways to explain the capacity of some supreme suppers:

1. increased stomach size
2. increased gastric emptying speed into the small intestine
3. disappearance of food into the fourth dimension
Click through to read the answer. Hint: It's not #3. (Via KevinMD.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"Space Station Could Beam Secret Quantum Codes by 2014":
Researchers hope to send an experiment to the International Space Station (ISS) by the middle of the next decade that would pave the way for transcontinental transmission of secret messages encoded using the mysterious quantum property of entanglement.
Will the 3G iPhone kill other portable GPS manufacturers?
Video of the day: "How To Fold a T-shirt in 2 seconds". (Via GMSV.)
"Baby With Rare Tumor Born Twice, Now Healthy 4-Week-Old". (Via Ari Armstrong.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Antarctica base gets 16,500 condoms before darkness":
One of the last shipments to a U.S. research base in Antarctica before the onset of winter darkness was a year's supply of condoms...

Bill Henriksen, the manager of the McMurdo base station, said nearly 16,500 condoms were delivered last month and would be made available, free of charge, to staff throughout the year to avoid the potential embarrassment of having to buy them.

The base only has a skeleton staff through the long winter.

"Since everybody knows everyone, it becomes a little bit uncomfortable," Henriksen told the Southland Times newspaper.
It sounds like the issue is that people may become a little bit too comfortable during the long dark winter months...
Clever "microdeposit" scam. (Via Bruce Schneier.)
"New 'super-paper' is stronger than cast iron"
IT posters. (Via BBspot.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Mouse for 3-D Navigation"
How to get Windows XP after June 30, 2008. And how to get support after the cut-off.
Time traveller survival tips from Marginal Revolution:
I wanted to ask for survival tips in case I am unexpectedly transported to a random location in Europe (say for instance current France/Benelux/Germany) in the year 1000 AD (plus or minus 200 years). I assume that such transportation would leave me with what I am wearing, what I know, and nothing else. Any advice would help.
Lots of interesting reader comments.
"Could sheep replace the lawn mower?"

Monday, June 09, 2008

A review of recent experiments on quantum mechanics and reality. I must confess that I still don't quite understand what's going on. (Via SciTechDaily.)
Today's version of "Who's On First?": "But I Already Have Windows in My Office!"
If Moore's Law is to continue, other options besides silicon will have to take over. This article reviews some of those alternative technologies.
The Economist has an interesting article about Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, Larry Sanger, and Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

"Fake bus stop keeps Alzheimer's patients from wandering off":
The idea was first tried at Benrath Senior Centre in Düsseldorf, which pitched an exact replica of a standard stop outside, with one small difference: buses do not use it.

The centre had been forced to rely on police to retrieve patients who wanted to return to their often non-existent homes and families.

..."They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting there means they will go home."

The result is that errant patients now wait for their trip home at the bus stop, before quickly forgetting why they were there in the first place.

"We will approach them and say that the bus is coming later and invite them in for a coffee," said Richard Neureither, Benrath's director. "Five minutes later they have completely forgotten they wanted to leave."
(Via Look At This...)

Friday, June 06, 2008

"The number of moves necessary to solve an arbitrary Rubik's cube configuration has been cut down to 23 moves".
Gregg Easterbrook reviews our current asteroid impact detection and prevention strategy, or lack thereof. (Via SciTechDaily.)
The 2000-year old medical mystery of "finger clubbing" has been solved.
Self-replicating machine.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Map of our galaxy from above. (Via Fark.)
Security stupidity Because of "security concerns", tourists and amateur photographers visiting the Amtrak Union Station in Washington DC are told they can't take pictures. A local TV news team went to investigate this story.

The best part of their video was when a security guard came up to the camera crew and told them there was no photography allowed, right as the chief Amtrak spokesman was telling the reporter that there was no ban whatsoever on photography.

(Via Bruce Schneier.)
"Holodeck 1.0? Star Trek-style 3-D displays make their debut"
The IEEE Spectrum has lots of special essays on The Singularity, by both enthusiasts and skeptics:
"Economics Of The Singularity" By Robin Hanson
"Signs of the Singularity" By Vernor Vinge
"Can Machines Be Conscious?" By Christof Koch and Giulio Tononi
"The Consciousness Conundrum" By John Horgan
""Rupturing The Nanotech Rapture" By Richard A.L. Jones
"Singular Simplicity" By Alfred Nordmann
(Via MeFi.)
"The Moral Life of Cubicles: The Utopian Origins of Dilbert's Workspace". (Via ALDaily.)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Are online auctions a "dying breed"? I'm not yet convinced...
"5 Ways to Spot a Fake Photo". (Via GMSV.)
"Weizmann Institute physicists have demonstrated, for the first time, the existence of 'quasiparticles' with one quarter the charge of an electron. This finding could be a first step toward creating exotic types of quantum computers that might be powerful, yet highly stable." (Via IPList.)
Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro talk about the forthcoming Hobbit movie in this transcript from an online chat. (Via Dave Does The Blog.)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

"20 Funniest Newspaper Headlines ever". (Via Look At This...)
Real-life versions of some classic James Bond gadgets.
Dr. Fredric J. Baur, the inventor of the Pringles potato chip can has asked that his ashes be buried inside a Pringles can. His family honored that request after he died last month on May 4, 2008.

Interestingly enough, he was also the inventor of freeze-dried ice cream:
The ice cream was patented and marketed, but didn't catch on. "Basically, what you did, you added milk to it, put it in the freezer and you had ice cream," said his son Lawrence J. Baur of Stevensville, Mich. "That was another one he was proud of but just never went anywhere."
xkcd on fortune cookies.

Monday, June 02, 2008

"A man's irregular heartbeat returned to normal after he was shot with a Taser gun in a hospital emergency room..." (Via Gunwatch.)
Inside Google's data center. (Via Howard Roerig.)
Palm OS emulator for the iPhone. (Via Engadget.)
"Getting a Handle on Space Toilets".

And a related article, "When an astronaut pees, where does it go?"