Monday, January 31, 2011

100 Best First Lines from Novels. (Via GMSV.)
"$3 Million Prize Offered to Solve Hospital Admissions Puzzle".

Basically, it's the medical equivalent of the Netflix prize, except to help predict which patients in a large population will require an unplanned hospital admission. The goal would be to target these patients with appropriate care prior to the hospital event, thus saving lives, money, and time.
Drinking water from 100,000 year old ice cores.
Axe Cop: The Movie

If you haven't heard of AxeCop, here's some background information. And the original comic for Episode 1. (Via BBspot.)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

"The differences between your eyes and your camera". (Via Gizmodo.)
How Google is losing the battle against spam in search results.
"Why Bacon Is A Gateway To Meat For Vegetarians"
"The Biology of What Is Not There"
Six month photographic exposure:

"The lowest arc in the photo is the sun's trail on the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice. The highest arc is the summer solstice. The lines which are punctuated by dots represent overcast days when the sun penetrated the clouds only intermittently."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

"Get Internet Access When Your Government Shuts It Down". (Via Instapundit.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Classic traps:

(Via BBspot.)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Did China Try To Pass Off Top Gun As Air Force Footage?"
"Life without left turns". (Via Marginal Revolution.)
"Can liquor be used as an emergency antiseptic?"

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"UK engineer develops own life-saving implant". (Via Instapundit.)
Don't take this guy's yogurt.
Why your call dropped: "Cell breathing".

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Techno-Sponge 'ShamWows' Oil Spills". (Via Howard Roerig.)
"Fugitive Busted By His Pacemaker (And His Doctor)"
The 12 word clouds for horoscopes are essentially independent of the actual astrological sign.

As a bonus, you also get a meta-horoscope which pretty much works for everyone!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Thomas Edison's predictions about 2011 made in 1911. (Via GMSV.)
Inverted Romulans. (Via BBspot.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Admin note: Posting may be lighter than usual this week due to my work schedule.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How the iPad is affecting when people read.
Interesting statistics about spam.
Which movie sequels are better than the original?
"Why You're Probably Less Popular Than Your Friends". (Via @TylerCowen.)
Chinese motorists can pay others to sit in a traffic jam for them

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Netflix spends 20 times more on postage than bandwidth".

This may explain their desire to encourage customers to rent movies by streaming. (Via @JonHenke.)
Why Facebook apps that claim to show you who's been looking at your profile are not real.

(There are legitimate apps that show who has left the most comments/likes on your wall or who has recently unfriended you.)
"The Terminator Scenario: Are We Giving Our Military Machines Too Much Power?" (Via Instapundit.)
What a Flying Arrow Sees In Its Rear View:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Safety tip of the day: Don't use a live grenade as a bookend.

Safety tip #2: If you ignore the above tip, do NOT pull the friggin' pin.
"Unnatural Genes Used to Replace Missing DNA Keep Cells Alive"
"Why the Internet Is a Great Tool for Totalitarians".

Like all technologies (gunpowder, electricity, lasers, etc.), the internet can be harnessed for good or evil.
"Amazing Morgan Freeman Impression (plus three others)":

"How birds (and bird-watchers) compute the behavior of a flock on the wing"

Monday, January 17, 2011

"British military scientists plan to develop an army of 'invisible' tanks ready for use on the battlefield within five years":
Armoured vehicles will use a new technology known as "e-camouflage" which deploys a form "electronic ink" to render a vehicle "invisible".

Highly sophisticated electronic sensors attached to the tank's hull will project images of the surrounding environment back onto the outside of the vehicle enabling it to merge into the landscape and evade attack.

The electronic camouflage will enable the vehicle to blend into the surrounding countryside in much the same way that a squid uses ink to help as a disguise.

Unlike conventional forms of camouflage, the images on the hull would change in concert with the changing environment always insuring that the vehicle remains disguised.
(Via Technabob and Cosmic Log.)
How-to guide for iPhone users who want to switch from AT&T to Verizon.
Farhad Manjoo really really doesn't like two spaces after a period.
Clever design: "Motorola's Atrix Android phone leads secret double life as a netbook".

Basically, the smartphone docks into a netbook shell, serving as the processor/memory.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Timothy B. Lee: "Emulation, Simulation, and the Human Brain"
The surrealistic life of a nuclear missile silo officer.
These cats didn't seem to enjoy zero-gravity:

In contrast, this dog is totally fine with zero-G:

(Via MeFi.)
"Drunk scientists pour wine on superconductors and make an incredible discovery".

No, really. (Via SDW.)
"Saudi Arabia bans blogging without a licence"
Detailed NYT article on Stuxnet.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

IBM's Watson vs. humans on Jeopardy. Includes must-see video of the practice match.

Plus quotes from the interview with the human contestants:
Q: Humans, do you feel any pressure competing with Watson?

A: Brad isn't worried about Watson, but afraid of "Watson's progeny when they come back from the future to kill me."

Ken says he was warned by a friend, "Remember John Henry.' Ken's response: "Screw that, remember John Connor!"
"Peep show: Inside the world of unsecured IP security cameras"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

"The woolly mammoth could be brought back to life in as little as four years thanks to a breakthrough in cloning technology."
Thunderstorms proven to create antimatter. (Via BBspot.)
Your Zodiac sign may have changed.

Best response
so far: "If I were the zodiac killer I would be so pissed right now." (Via Hanah V.)
"Best Scientific Paper Comment-and-Reply Ever". (Via @TravisPew.)
"The Year Ahead in Commercial Space Transportation". (Via @Rob_Abiera.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Researchers store a qubit in a centimeter-long crystal"
"Q&A: Jimmy Wales Reflects on a Decade of Wikipedia"
"Special metallic glass with a strength and toughness greater than any known material"
How American troops cheat death.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mashable infographic on AT&T vs. Verizon iPhone.
A brief history of conspicuous product placement in the movies:

(Via BBspot.)
Tempting a time traveler?
Personal book digitizer.
Colorful terminated employee warning letter from Domino's Pizza. (Via @RichardMetzger.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Why Caltech is different:
Of the top two dozen or so elite universities in America only one has managed both to avoid the craziness of the post-60s intellectual fads, and to establish something pretty close to a pure meritocracy -- California Institute of Technology, which has not received the general recognition among academics that it clearly deserves...

If you can't meet the stellar performance requirements and show an intense love for science and mathematics, Caltech isn't interested in you and will not lower its standards. When you apply to Caltech the admissions committee is interested only in your intellectual merit and passion for learning. It has little or no interest in your family heritage, your race, or your skill in slapping around a hockey puck...

Perhaps the most striking difference from all other elite universities -- including institutions like MIT and the University of Chicago which forgo athletic recruitment -- is Caltech's complete indifference to racial balancing.

In a state and a region of the country with the largest Hispanic population, Caltech's entering freshmen class in 2008 was less than 6 percent Hispanic (13 out of 236). The unwillingness to lower standards for a larger black representation is even more striking -- less than 1 percent (2/236) of Caltech's 2008 entering freshmen were listed as "non-Hispanic black".

This "underrepresentation" of blacks and Hispanics, of course, was more than made up for by the huge "overrepresentation" of Asians. Only 4 percent of the U.S. population, Asians made up a whopping 40 percent of the incoming freshmen class in 2008, a slightly larger proportion than the 39 percent figure for whites.

Applicants to Caltech are clearly seen as representing only themselves and their own individual merit and achievement, not their race or their ethnic group.
(Read the full text.)

The "no legacies" and "no racial preferences" policies are especially interesting. Given how rigorous the school is, it would simply be cruel to admit a legacy student or "underrepresented racial category" student who couldn't otherwise handle the academic pace. It also means that if you're a black or Hispanic student at Caltech, everyone there knows you are there because you met the same admission standards as the white and Asian students, rather than being stigmatized with the "affirmative action" label.

And even though I'm a proud alumnus of MIT, Caltech is purer in how it applies its meritocratic principles.

(Via Marginal Revolution.)
"MIT Media Lab Prints Out a Sweet-Sounding Flute with a 3-D Printer". Includes cool video.

(Via Transterrestrial Musings, who notes "This will be a very disruptive technology...")
Genius soap dispenser.
"Do people ever get divorced via text message?"

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Satellite tracking reveals epic journals of turtles.
"The Definitive Classification System for T-Shirts"
Why the Chinese government is having trouble mandating Linux use.

It's a combination of the "outlaw mentality" amongst many users -- plus all the Windows games!
"Wicked Laser S3 Arctic Laser Review"

Friday, January 07, 2011

Off-topic: The January 7, 2011 RealClearMarkets published my OpEd, "A Defense of High-Frequency Trading".

(My original title was, "I, For One, Welcome Our New Robotic Trading Overlords".)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Virgin Galactic now offering space trips for $200,000. (Via Instapundit.)
McArdle: "Bye, Bye, Borders?"

I particularly agree with McArdle's point:
The bigger problem is that while Borders lets me find things I'm not looking for, Amazon always lets me find the things that I am. In the good old days of local bookstores, I frequently went without books that I knew I wanted, because it was such a pain in the butt to order them. Now if I know I want to read a book, I can do so in short order. Ultimately, this is a bigger boon than the occasional undiscovered gem -- particularly since there are still libraries...
I might miss my local Borders. But as an avid reader, I'm glad to be living in the Amazon era.
"Illinois researchers have demonstrated an acoustic cloak, a technology that renders underwater objects invisible to sonar and other ultrasound waves"
"8pen Android Typing App Reinvents The Keyboard".

(Not sure how steep the learning curve would be...)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Off topic: The Washington Times has published my latest OpEd, "Best Health Care Political Pull Can Buy".
"2010 Box Office Movies Infographic". Click through for tons of detail.
"Cheap DNA Sequencer Size Of A Printer". Moore's Law marches on.

(Via Instapundit. I also covered some related political aspects last year at, "Should You Be Allowed to Know What's in Your DNA?")
"Happy mathematical new year: 2011 is the sum of 11 consecutive prime numbers"
"What would really happen if you were exposed to vacuum?"

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

"A German businessman is getting around a law banning incandescent bulbs by selling them as 'Heat Balls'".

(Via Rand Simberg.)
California police can search a suspect's cell-phone text messages without a warrant. More info here.

(Via GMSV.)
How NFL footballs are made:

As Kottke notes, "Every football used in the NFL for the past 20-30 years has been made by Deb, Loretta, Peg, Glen, Emmitt, Tina, Etta Mae, Pam, and Michelle."
"Chrome OS Knows Your Every Move".

(Of course, some users may be completely fine with trading their personal information for an OS and/or browser that better meets their needs, provided all parties agree to the exchange.)
Off topic: PajamasMedia has just published my latest OpEd, "Will the GOP Walk the Walk on the Constitution?"

Monday, January 03, 2011

Video of the day: "Nature By Numbers"

For a more on how the Fibonacci sequence relates to the biological examples shown, see this explanatory page, "Nature by Numbers: The theory behind this movie"
"The Bermuda Triangle of Productivity". (Via BBspot.)
"Will the Great Blizzard of 2010 Lead to a Storm of Lawsuits?"
Updated versions of the "Touching Your Junk" Venn diagrams. (Via Tim Hsieh.)

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Yes, this Kindle book costs over $6400. Just don't accidentally hit the "Buy Now With 1-Click" button!

(The customer reviews are also quite entertaining. Via Marginal Revolution.)
"Medieval warfare was just as terrifying as you might imagine"
Ubuntu Linux tablet.

Reportedly includes Atom 1.66 GHz CPU, 10-inch capactive touchscreen, 2 Gb RAM and a 32Gb SSD hard drive. Could be nice alternative to iPad or Android tablets.
These 1993 "You Will" ads from ATT offered surprisingly good predictions of future technology:

(Via Kevin W.)
Wired vs. NYT on flash trading:

It's especially interesting to contrast the Wired story ("Algorithms Take Control of Wall Street") with the more alarmist NYT story ("The New Speed of Money, Reshaping Markets").

Both stories cover many of the same basic facts. But the Wired story puts more emphasis on the challenges and opportunities the new technology poses for rational actors in the marketplace.

In contrast, the NYT story asks "whether the technology is getting dangerously out of control", whether it's "fairer" that those willing to invest in better technology should be able to reap higher rewards, and plight of the poor regulators "struggling to keep up with the pace of innovation".
Justice for the topless Italian sensuous sunbather!

(Original story from last year.)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

"Sales of bodice-ripping e-books soar as women use digital readers to hide their romantic novels"