Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"How to Defend Earth Against an Asteroid Strike".
The new California Gold Rush. (Via Drudge.)
Today's "best-of-craigslist": "Wanted: time machine DESPARATE!!!"
Dan Meth's Movie Trilogy Meter. (Via Cool Infographics.)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Poker is more skill than luck. A study of over 100 million real world poker hands for real money showed:
Of the hands they examined, slightly over three-quarters of them did not go to showdown. That means that over 75% of the time, the best hand was not shown down. With that in mind, it can be said that skill was utilized instead of pure chance. That includes the skills of betting, being aggressive, and also knowing when to fold.

When there was a showdown, the study found that the best five-card hand actually won the pot only about half the time. The other half of the time, what would have been the winning hand was actually folded prior to showdown. This once again shows the amount of skill involved when players can get other players to fold better hands than them in order to win the pot. All in all, the study showed that the true best hand only won about 12% of the time.

Using that information, they argue that poker is predominantly a game of skill, being approximately 88% skill and 12% chance.
(Via Radley Balko.)
Celebrities using "ghost twitterers".
German police acknowledge major "DNA bungle" in hunt for non-existent serial killer:
Dubbed the "phantom of Heilbronn", the woman was described by police as the country's most dangerous woman. Investigators had connected her to six murders and an unsolved death based on DNA traces found at the scene.

Police now acknowledge swabs used to collect DNA samples were contaminated by an innocent woman working in a factory in Bavaria.
(Via GMSV.)
Try run your name through the Internet Anagram Server!

For instance, some of the results for "Eugene Volokh" include "Geek Love, Uh No" and "Eek! Love Gun Ho".

Saturday, March 28, 2009

"What does one TRILLION dollars look like?" (Via Keith Dangleis.)

Friday, March 27, 2009

"JPEG compression 600 times over". (Via DDTB.)
"The World's Biggest Laser Powers Up":
The most energetic laser system in the world, designed to produce nuclear fusion -- the same reaction that powers the sun -- is up and running. Within two to three years, scientists expect to be creating fusion reactions that release more energy than it takes to produce them. If they're successful, it will be the first time this has been done in a controlled way -- in a lab rather than a nuclear bomb, that is -- and could eventually lead to fusion power plants.
"Do men and women read books differently?"
Fantastic photographs of waves. (Via Boing Boing.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"The formula that solves every Sudoku."

Here's the mathematics journal article (PDF). (Via Cosmic Log.)
"School kids measure distance to the Moon":
The students analysed an mp3 recording of the conversation between Neil Armstrong on the surface and ground control in Houston in which he utters his famous "one small step" speech. The recording is available on the NASA website.

They noticed an echo on this recording in which sentences from Earth are retransmitted via Armstrong's helmet speaker through his microphone and back to Earth. They used the open source audio editing program Audacity to measure the echo's delay which turned out to be 2.620 secs and used this to work out the distance to the moon as 3.93 x 10^8 metres.

That's not bad given that the actual distance varies between 3.63 and 4.05 x10^8 metres.
Live iPhone musical performance using only App Store apps. (Via Howard Roerig.)
"Kill Bill Parts 1 & 2, in One Minute, in One Take". (Via Neatorama.)

If you liked that one, then check out "Forrest Gump in One Minute, in One Take".
Tweeting while performing brain surgery.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Top 10 Time-Lapse Videos Show Nature at Work".

As a Colorado resident, I liked the "Denver Snowstorm" video.
Cold fusion redux? (Via Transterrestrial Musings.)
"Paraplegic Man Suffers Spider Bite, Walks Again". (Via The Speculist.)

Update: It's probably not a miracle but just bad reporting.
Cross-cultural reactions to Western music passages intended to convey happiness, sadness, and fear.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Off topic: PajamasMedia has published my latest OpEd. It's entitled, "Health Insurance Industry Sells Its Soul to the Devil".
"How Cell Towers Work"
"100+ Funny Photos Taken At Unusual Angles". (Via Rand Simberg.)
"Extreme Sheep LED Art". (Via Clicked.)
Organic chemists have developed an easier way to create compounds that are meta (as opposed to the easier ortho or para).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Identical twins commit perfect crime:
German police say at least one of the identical twin brothers Hassan and Abbas O. may have perpetrated a recent multimillion euro jewelry heist in Berlin. But because of their indistinguishable DNA, neither can be individually linked to the crime. Both were set free on Wednesday.

...German law stipulates that each criminal must be individually proven guilty. The problem in the case of the O. brothers is that their twin DNA is so similar that neither can be exclusively linked to the evidence using current methods of DNA analysis. So even though both have criminal records and may have committed the heist together, Hassan and Abbas O. have been set free.
(Via Kottke.)
Growth in supercomputer power over the past 15 years. (Via DRB.)
"How (and Why) Athletes Go Broke".

(Interesting article from Sports Illustrated that examines the psychological factors that causes many pro athletes to lose their money. Like many lottery winners, newly-rich professional athletes suddenly find themselves with lots of money out of proportion to their life skills. Hence, either they raise their life skills to match their income or else they lose their money until their net worth again matches their life skills.)
Optical tiles. (Via Patrick Reynolds.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bomb squad alerted over Monty Python's "Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch":
Buildings were evacuated, a street was cordoned off and a bomb disposal team called in after workmen spotted a suspicious object.

But the dangerous-looking weapon turned out to be the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, made famous in the 1975 film Monty Python And The Holy Grail.

...But when the bomb squad arrived, they quickly established there was no danger and the street was declared safe. In the film, the grenade was used to slaughter a killer rabbit.

Python actor Eric Idle had filmgoers in stitches as he said: "Oh Lord. Bless this hand grenade, that with it thou mayest blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy."

..."And the Lord spake, saying, 'First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin, then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out.

"'Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it. Amen.'"
Here's a related story in the Telegraph which doesn't take advantage of this perfect opportunity to quote Monty Python dialogue.

(Via Bruce Schneier.)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"How Do You Hide a Dollar From A Radiologist?"

Friday, March 20, 2009

Some people really like their Star Trek chairs. (Via GMSV.)
"The Trouble with Eyewitness ID". (Via Radley Balko.)
Killing mosquitoes with lasers. (Via David Jilk.)

Then there's this other story, "Military Laser Hits Battlefield Strength".
"Can You Trust iTunes App Store Reviews?"
Steep rollercoaster:
The new attraction at Thorpe Park in Surrey, Saw -- The Ride, claims to offer the world's steepest freefall drop -- a beyond-vertical 100-degree descent back under the ride's 100ft (30m) peak.
Includes video. (Via BBspot.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

"What Makes The Five Smartphone Platforms Different"
"Where does consciousness come from?"
The science of NCAA March Madness upsets. (Via Radley Balko.)
Tactile illusions. (Via Boing Boing.)
"Operating System Interface Design Between 1981-2009". This brings back memories! (Via BBspot.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"New invisibility cloak allows object to 'see' out through the cloak".
"iPhone 3.0 OS Guide"
"Can I save money on electricity by unplugging appliances and using capacitors?"

Short answer: Yes, but only a trivial amount.
Farewell to the View-Master.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"MRI Lie Detection to Get First Day in Court"
If Frank Miller drew Peanuts.
How the web has changed science.
Update on the Four Color Problem: Including cellphones, cliques, holes, anti-holes, and perfect graphs.

Monday, March 16, 2009

"Deaths of gamers leave their online lives in limbo".
"Floatiest Material On Earth". (Via David Jilk.)
"The anatomy of a DDoS attack"
"The Untold Story of the World's Biggest Diamond Heist"

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sleek animation of the day: AdobeCards.

Here are the directions:
Click on the link and a playing card will appear on your screen... Wait a few moments for it to load, then scroll down below the card and you will see a line that has a little red slider bar in it.

Move the slider gradually to the right and stop and watch the show take place, then move it a little more to the right and stop and another show will take place and keep doing this till you are to the end.
(Via BE.)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Cleaning up space junk with water guns? (Via Cosmic Log.)
Simulating crowd behaviour.
Storing energy with "spin" batteries.
Omnidirectional wheels. (Via Howard Roerig.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Video of the day: "The New F***ing Citibank".

Probably NSFW due to repeated use of F-bombs. (Via Radley Balko.)
"What to do when old photos of you appear on Facebook"
"Create Your Own Original Star Trek Story". (Via Rob Abiera.)
Venice from above. (Via BBspot.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mini-nuke update.
The economics of the Kindle. (Via MR.)
Star Trek colognes. (Via BBspot.)
The current state of fMRI lie detection.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"Face Recognition: Clever or Just Plain Creepy?"
"The Jetpack: An Idea Whose Time Has Never Come, but Won't Go Away". (Via MR.)
"Football fans take their rivalries into mathematical hyperspace".

(This is a UK paper, so they are using "football" to refer to what Americans call "soccer".)
Writing Math On The Web.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Video of the day: "That Jean-Luc Picard". (Via Clicked.)
"The first virtual reality headset that can stimulate all five senses". Related story here.
"Metal Bits Self-Assemble Into Lifelike Snakes". What could possibly go wrong?
Predicting a person's creditworthiness through his or her facial expression.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Off-topic: Perhaps the new administration doesn't want small creative entrepreneurs to thrive. Michael Williams, the creator of the "Tax Cheat" stamp has just been audited by the IRS.

I'm sure it's just a coincidence...
ArsTechnica reviews the BBook of Geek.

You are reading BBspot each day, aren't you?

Friday, March 06, 2009

Admin note: Due to external obligations, posting will be light.
"Over Half Of Humanity Use Cell Phones"

Thursday, March 05, 2009

"Before Google became Google: The original setup at Stanford University" (including photograph).
The original Google platform (Backrub) at Stanford University was written in Java and Python and ran on the following hardware:

* Sun Ultra II with dual 200 MHz processors and 256MB of RAM. This was the main machine for the original Backrub system.

* 2 x 300 MHz Dual Pentium II Servers (donated by Intel) with 512MB of RAM and 9 x 9GB hard drives between the two. The main search ran on these.

* F50 IBM RS/6000 (donated by IBM) with 4 processors, 512MB of RAM and 8 x 9GB hard drives.

* Two additional boxes included 3 x 9GB hard drives and 6 x 4GB hard drives respectively (the original storage for Backrub). These were attached to the Sun Ultra II.

* IBM disk expansion box with another 8 x 9GB hard drives (donated by IBM).

* Homemade disk box which contained 10 x 9GB SCSI hard drives.
"A time traveller's phrasebook: A handy little guide to small talk in the Stone Age". (Via BBspot.)

Update: Some linguists have taken issue with the reporting of this story.
"Three Security Anecdotes from the Insect World"
"Saturn has small moon hidden in ring".

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

"10 Geeky Tricks for Getting Out of Bed in the Morning". (Via BBspot.)
"The first bendable, touch-screen display will be used by the military."
"Filming the Unfilmable: Behind the Scenes of the Watchmen Movie"
Superfluid helium.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Off-topic: PajamasMedia.com has published my latest political OpEd, "Ayn Rand and the Tea Party Protests".
"Placebos can also benefit patients who do not have faith in them."
"Twitter Throughout History." (Via Neatorama.)
How to really destroy your hard drive. (Via Look At This...)
Zero-G coffee cup.

Monday, March 02, 2009

"An Austrian scientist has solved the mystery of belly button fluff":
After three years of research, Georg Steinhauser, a chemist, has discovered a type of body hair that traps stray pieces of lint and draws them into the navel.
(Via Neatorama.)
"High-speed video captures the nuts and bolts of lightning". (Via SciTechDaily.)
Computer model for snowflakes.
Doodling helps memory. (Via Brian Schwartz.)