Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cool toy of the day: The Neocube. Here's the commercial website.
Loopt is like a real-life Marauder's Map for the iPhone. (Disclaimer: I haven't actually tried it yet.)
Nice high-definition versions of the trailer for "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince". (Via Clicked.)
Multi-touch Sphere. Includes "the craziest rendition of Pong ever." (Via Michael Williams.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Latest warp engine design:
It is possible to travel faster than light. You just wouldn't travel faster than light.

Seems strange, but by manipulating extra dimensions with astronomical amounts of energy, two Baylor University physicists have outlined how a faster-than-light engine, or warp drive, could be created that would bend but not break the laws of physics....

The Alcubierre drive, as it's known, involves expanding the fabric of space behind a ship into a bubble and shrinking space-time in front of the ship. The ship would rest in between the expanding and shrinking space-time, essentially surfing down the side of the bubble.

The tricky part is that the ship wouldn't actually move; space itself would move underneath the stationary spacecraft. A beam of light next to the ship would still zoom away, same as it always does, but a beam of light far from the ship would be left behind.
(Via Cosmic Log.)
Playboy for the blind.

As the post notes, "I guess the blind are the only people who actually do read Playboy for the articles." (Via MR.)
What if a committee designed the "Stop" sign? (Via Neatorama.)
Texting trauma:
A growing group of multitaskers are texting on the go, trying to manipulate the small keypads of a mobile phone or personal digital assistant while ambulatory. They obliviously ram into walls and doorways or fall down stairs. Out on the streets, they bump into lampposts, parked cars, garbage cans and other stationary objects.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Glass is still a scientific enigma.

Update: More interesting information on glass. (Via Howard Roerig.)
"British scientist hopes for 'yeti hair' breakthrough".
"YouTube makes it easy to learn the finer points of breaking and entering -- and locksmiths aren't happy."
According to Google there are over 1 trillion unique URLs on the web. (Via BBspot.)
"NASA is preparing to send into orbit a small satellite that can be propelled by solar sails."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Some stuff is really cheap now. (Via Ms. Think.)
The Economist asks some good questions about the field of "neuroeconomics".
Bert Rutan on private space exploration. (Via Amy Mossoff.)
"How to disappear without a trace". (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008

"Find a Parking Space Online":
This fall, San Francisco will implement the largest mesh network for monitoring parking to date. Around 6,000 wireless sensors from the San Francisco company Streetline will be fixed alongside as many parking spots, monitoring both parking availability and the volume and speed of passing traffic. The city hopes that displaying information from the sensors on Web maps, smart phones, and signs on the street will reduce the traffic and pollution caused by circling cars.
If you're a scientist, here's your excuse to buy an iPhone. (Via SciTechDaily.)
"A Slam-Dunk Design for a Wheelchair".
"51 Things You Aren't Allowed to See on Google Maps". (Via Look At This...)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Building demolition based on old Japanese game". (Via Brian Schwartz.)
"Why do Asian students generally get higher marks than Latinos?"
But what is it? [California state superintendant Jack] O'Connell called a summit in Sacramento that drew 4,000 educators, policymakers and experts to tackle the issue. Some teachers stomped out in frustration and anger.

No Lincoln students stomped out of their discussion. Neither did any teachers in a similar Lincoln meeting. But the observations were frank, and they clearly made some uncomfortable.
(Via Neatorama.)
"San Francisco Admin Coughs Up Passcodes in Secret Jailhouse Meeting With Mayor". My favorite comment was this one:
"Vinson said the passcodes the mayor handed over did not work initially, but after clearing some confusion with the defendant's attorney, they did."

Probably had the caps lock on.
Controlling objects with brain waves. (Via SciTechDaily.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Leopard vs. crocodile: "A series of incredible pictures taken at a South African game reserve document the first known time that a leopard has taken on and defeated one of the fearsome reptiles." (Via Cynical-C.)
What we do (or don't) know about the science of the female G-spot. (Via Cosmic Log.)
"Why San Francisco's network admin went rogue". (Via BBspot.)
A gun that fires variable-speed bullets.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Migraine headache science.
"Converting genetic activity into music may be a way to monitor health."
"Britain on alert for deadly new knife with exploding tip that freezes victims' organs".

It actually sounds kind of cool -- assuming of course that it's used for the intended purpose of emergency self-defense against dangerous animals such as sharks and bears. Here's the commercial website. (Via Gizmodo.)
Can you crack the Fermilab code? (Via Cosmic Log.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

How long does it take to detect BS in the sciences vs. the humanities? xkcd has done the research.
Video of the day: "Cities At Night, an Orbital Tour Around the World". (Via Diana.)
"Rise in lawsuits against bloggers".
The strongest known material is graphene. (Via Ari Armstrong.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Beating a speeding ticket with GPS:
Shaun Malone, was able to successfully contest a speeding ticket in court using the data from a GPS device installed in his car.

...While the police clocked him going 62-mph, the GPS's data in fact showed him driving at the 45-mph speed limit.

...[W]hen he took the stand to begin his testimony, Dr. Heppe corrected that written report, saying that the Rocky Mountain Tracking device was "very" accurate, to within a couple of meters on location and to within 1 mph on speed. Dr. Heppe also pointed out that the GPS device released instantaneous data, and not data averaged over a distance."

Needless to say, with Dr. Heppe's revised testimony, Malone was found innocent of speeding.
The article also notes that this is not the usual "make-a-left-turn-100-feet-ahead-onto-Maple-Street GPS", but a more advanced vehicle tracking GPS system.

(Via /. and Ars Technica.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

If you haven't yet watched Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible, then maybe you should. Watch it here! And more information here.
More stories of disgruntled tech workers.
Unintentionally funny Chinese restaurant name.
Parody ad for iPhone 3G. (Via TUAW.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Tour of Panasonic's Toughbook Testing Facility". (Via Fark.)
Excellent new video in the "Simon's Cat" series: "TV Dinner". Someone has clearly been watching our cat Oliver. (Via Neatorama.)
"Why Batman Could Exist -- But Not for Long"
Unbreakable fighting umbrellas. Here's the commercial website. (Via Bruce Schneier.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"A disgruntled city computer engineer has virtually commandeered San Francisco's new multimillion-dollar computer network, altering it to deny access to top administrators even as he sits in jail on $5 million bail..." (Via GMSV.)
"The 100 Most Influential Taglines Since 1948". Here are their top 10:
1. Got milk? (1993) California Milk Processor Board
2. Don't leave home without it. (1975) American Express
3. Just do it. (1988) Nike
4. Where's the beef? (1984) Wendy's
5. You're in good hands with Allstate. (1956) Allstate Insurance
6. Think different. (1998) Apple Computer
7. We try harder. (1962) Avis
8. Tastes great, less filling. (1974) Miller Lite
9. Melts in your mouth, not in your hands. (1954) M&M Candies
10. Takes a licking and keeps on ticking. (1956) Timex
(Via Neatorama.)
"Is Fan Fiction Legal?" (Via ALDaily.)
"Ten Cool (and Free) Magic Bar Tricks". Ok, some are better than others. (Via Clicked.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

One step closer to room temperature superconductors.
"Shouting at the Cosmos": David Brin asks if some SETI researchers are moving into dangerous territory by advocating "active SETI". (Via Rand Simberg.)
"In an attempt to understand the extent of cow flatulence on global warming, scientists in Argentina are strapping plastic bags to the backs of cows to capture their emissions".
Don't fall for this con game.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Detailed 3G iPhone review from Gizmodo. And from iLounge.
Today's episode of TSA stupidity:
"You ain't takin' this through," she says. "No knives. You can't bring a knife through here."

It takes a moment for me to realize that she's serious. "I'm... but... it's..."

"Sorry." She throws it into a bin and starts to walk away.

"Wait a minute," I say. "That's airline silverware."

"Don't matter what it is. You can't bring knives through here."

"Ma'am, that's an airline knife. It's the knife they give you on the plane."
The whole thing is worth reading. As the author (an airline pilot) asks, "Do I really need to point out that an airline pilot at the controls would hardly need a butter knife if he or she desired to inflict damage?"

(Via Bruce Schneier.)
"Watching the Growth of Walmart Across America". (Via Neatorama.)
Yes, there is an ICD-9 code for getting injured onboard a spaceship. (Via KevinMD.)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Glenn Reynolds interview on space law.
"The Ultimate Guide to iPhone Games". The App Store is going to make a lot of money today.
"Gmail allowing remote log-off in case you forget".
A UK court has officially ruled that Pringles are not potato chips. Apparently, this will save P&G a lot of British tax money. (Via Linkfilter.)
"Southwest Airlines' Seven Secrets for Success"

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Nanotubes and Next-Generation Computing
"Killer robots which can change their shape to squeeze under doors and through cracks in walls to track their prey are moving from the realms of science fiction to the front line in the fight against terrorism." (Via DefenseTech.)
Settling the great over-vs-under toilet paper debate. (Via BBspot.)
Top 11 Geek Euphemisms for Sex.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

"Machine Gun That Fits in Your Pocket". (Via DRB.)
New insights from the Milgram "shock" experiments? (Via SciTechDaily.)
"Octopuses given Rubik's Cubes to find out if they have a favourite tentacle". (Via Fark.)
Dubai's high-tech water fountain.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Improv Everywhere's latest project was "Human Mirror". (Via Neatorama.)
Update on the "microwave ray gun able to beam sounds directly into people's heads":
The device – dubbed MEDUSA (Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio) – exploits the microwave audio effect, in which short microwave pulses rapidly heat tissue, causing a shockwave inside the skull that can be detected by the ears. A series of pulses can be transmitted to produce recognisable sounds.

The device is aimed for military or crowd-control applications, but may have other uses.

...MEDUSA involves a microwave auditory effect "loud" enough to cause discomfort or even incapacitation. [Developer Lev] Sadovnik says that normal audio safety limits do not apply since the sound does not enter through the eardrums.

"The repel effect is a combination of loudness and the irritation factor," he says. "You can’t block it out."
Some child actors, now all grown up. (Via BBspot.)
The Japanese iPhone tour guide has the same black sweater and mannerisms as John, the American iPhone tour guide.
"Are Some People Mosquito Magnets?" (Via Fark.)

Monday, July 07, 2008

"Does the President have an official food taster?"
Hologram Google Earth. (Via GMSV.)
"Even those experienced at dealing with deceivers, detect others' lies no better than would be expected by chance":
The new investigation challenges a view, championed by psychologists Maureen O’Sullivan of the University of San Francisco and Paul Ekman of the University of California, San Francisco, that a small number of individuals with considerable experience in unraveling certain kinds of lies do so with great accuracy...

Experienced judges displayed no lie-detection advantage over inexperienced ones. Neither did judges show greater accuracy in evaluating highly motivated liars, such as crime suspects, compared with less-motivated liars, such as college students pretending to have stolen money.

The researchers also found that the tendency to label someone as a liar also depended on whether a judge regarded other people as generally truthful or not.
Is humor based on pattern recognition? (Via SciTechDaily.)

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Police receive emergency call about UFO which turns out to be the Moon:
Control Room: "South Wales Police, what's your emergency?"

Caller: "It's not really. I just need to inform you that across the mountain there's a bright stationary object."

Control room: "Right."

Caller: "If you've got a couple of minutes perhaps you could find out what it is? It's been there at least half an hour and it's still there."

Control: "It's been there for half an hour. Right. Is it actually on the mountain or in the sky?"

Caller: "It's in the air."

Control: "I will send someone up there now to check it out."

Caller: "OK."

The mystery was soon solved, as the exchange between control and an officer at the scene, makes clear.

Control: "Alpha Zulu 20, this object in the sky, did anyone have a look at it?"

Officer: "Yes, it's the moon. Over."
(Via Neatorama.)

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Spammed Persistently All Month (S.P.A.M.) experiment: What happens if you actually answer all your spam for a month? (Via Howard Roerig.)

Friday, July 04, 2008

Trivia question of the day: "What country somehow managed to observe two Fourths of July in the same calendar year — a timekeeping feat unmatched by any other nation in recorded history, including the July 4th obsessed United States?"

Click here for the answer.
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, from last year.)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Dell is offering a so-called "Windows Vista Bonus", where the bonus is Windows XP:
The Dell channel blog is pointing resellers to the loophole in the Windows Vista license that enables business customers to downgrade from the unwanted Windows Vista to its dated, but comfortable and better-supported predecessor.

According to the blog: "Dell can sell what we've branded 'Windows Vista Bonus' which allows us to preinstall XP Professional with a Vista license (on select system categories). This lets customer's upgrade to the Vista platform when they're ready. And yes, Dell will support both OSs."

Dell's blog points resellers to further information here.
(Via Fark.)
How does the Netflix queue work? (Via BBspot.)
"How we read online". (Via Look At This...)
The neuroscience of the itch. (Via SciTechDaily.)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Scientists have created the roundest objects in the world.
"How Smart Is the Octopus?" (Via Marginal Revolution.)
"How To Hide An Airplane Factory". (Via BBspot.)
Timewaster of the day: Poiser, a physics stacking game. (Via Neatorama.)
Nanoscale Tractor Beam.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Personally, I think it would actually be cool to have one of these license plates. (Via BBspot.)
Review of The Science of Humor. (Via ALDaily.)
Getting closer to the perfect computer poker player?
Lightsabre mashups: Classic movie sword fights converted into lightsabres. (Via Miss Cellania.)