Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to get around the "No wishing for more wishes" rule (click on image to see full size):

"Acoustic cloak to hide ships from sonar":
"Invisibility cloaks" have been in the news since 2006, when scientists proposed that they could design synthetic materials that would bend light in ways that made the objects under them appear invisible. Three years ago, Steve Cummer at Duke University figured out that the same principle could be applied to sound waves, and his lab has now brought out their first physical proof of the idea.
Popular Mechanics: "101 Gadgets That Changed The World".
Update on the mathematics of the Rubiks' Cube.

In particular MIT computer scientist Erik Demaine and colleagues have shown:
...[T]hat the maximum number of moves required to solve a Rubik's cube with N squares per row is proportional to N^2/log N. “That that’s the answer, and not N^2, is a surprising thing,” Demaine says.
(Via Reid A.)
Hilarious spoof of drug ads:

(Via E.D.P.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Did the Chinese really practice 'death by a thousand cuts'?"
" has been created to help the average person check if their password(s) may have been compromised and need to be changed."

("This site uses a number of databases that have been released by hackers to the public. No passwords are stored in the database.")
"Academic Article Title of the Day"
Really, really big viruses
Off topic: The 6/29/2011 edition of PajamasMedia has just published my latest OpEd, "Why the 'Unexpected' Keeps Happening".

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"Is the ATM Cash-Dispensing Sound Fake?" (Via Tyler Cowen.)
DNA testing to catch dog poop scofflaws.
How fatigue affects the brain-mouth filter. (Via @KevinMD.)
12 proposed space shuttle missions that never got off the ground. (Via SciTechDaily.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Wall Street Journal asks Ray Kurzweil, "When will man merge with machines?"

"WSJ's Andy Jordan talks with futurist Ray Kurzweil about what he fears in terms of technology, why he thinks humans will one day live forever, what the job of the future is, and even what post-"singularity" sex will be like."

Searle discusses Damasio on consciousness: "How do neurobiological processes in the brain cause consciousness?"

(Amazon link to Damasio's book, Self Comes To Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain.)
"10 Super Cool Jobs You Can Get At Apple Right Now"
If Sauron Had Been a Lego Enthusiast.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"What You Learned About Static Electricity Is Wrong"
Barcode art:

Today's technology scare story: "Does life online give you 'popcorn brain'?"
"13 brilliantly smart-ass responses to completely well-meaning signs".

My favorite:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Seagull steals video camera:

Assuming it's genuine, it's great footage. (Via @debbywitt.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Disturbing: "Can You Fall In Love with This Beautiful Girl?" (Via Vik R.)
"Help! A Web Ad Is Stalking Me"
Video of the day: How fiber optic cables work.

(Via BBspot.)
Photographs of fluid dynamics.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Nevada Passes Law Authorizing Driverless Cars"
Update on nuclear fusion power. (Via Instapundit.)
"The Humble Origins of Instant Ramen: From Ending World Hunger to Space Noodles". (Via Franco L.)
"Why Sex With Creatures from the Future Is a Bad Idea". (Via Don S.)
The Iceman's Last Meal. (Via @MatthewBowdish.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Dropbox Files Left Unprotected, Open To All"
"For the Best Naps, Use a Hammock"
Clever recursive images. (Via Transterrestrial Musings.)
Cool rooftop bars!
Off topic: The 6/20/2011 has published my latest OpEd, "A Doctor Exposes Obama's Health Care Fallacy".

My theme is that the proposed Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) merely represent the latest incarnation of the age-old "central planner fallacy" as applied to American health care.

Monday, June 20, 2011

"Apple turns 'Big Brother': Will it police iPhone cameras?"
Amish kids stealthily signing up for Facebook.

No, really. (Via Tyler Cowen.)
Dogs can distinguish identical twins. (Via @MatthewBowdish.)
"Physicists in Singapore and Norway have been able to copy a secret quantum key without revealing their presence to either sender or receiver."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"Turning The iPad Into A Weapon"
Kindle self-publishing is also leading to Kindle book spam.
Using nanotechnology to recover old fingerprints.
"This is the coolest science experiment you'll see all week". Nice demonstration of laminar flow!
The apparatus, called a "Couette Cell," was developed by John DeMoss and Dr. Kevin Cahill, and uses dyed corn syrup to demonstrate how a fluid with a sufficiently low Reynolds number will flow along distinct paths in parallel layers (like fanning a deck of cards), thereby preventing disruption of the fluid.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Gomboc is the world's only artificial, self-righting shape:
The Gömböc doesn't have any power, and is a consistent weight all the way through. It has a wide curve on the bottom, surrounded by flat-ish sides and a ridged curve of a top. No matter how it's placed on a flat surface, it will right itself. It's what's called a mono-monostatic shape, and was born of mathematical theory. The theory stated that a self-righting shape was possible, and that it had one stable point of balance, and one unstable point.

Placing it on the curve on its top will let it pick itself up quickly. Placing on its flat side starts a slower process. It rolls back and forward slowly, then slows almost to a stop, then rolls back and forward quickly in a tiny vibrating motion, and then falls onto its stable point of balance, righting itself again.
Fascinating article on neuroscience and the law.
"Tracking Down Twitter's Best Rumor Spreaders"
"Scientists Create Tiny Artificial Brain That Exhibits 12 Seconds of Short Term Memory". (Via BBspot.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"World's First Virtual Heist? BitCoin User Loses $500,000"
Advances in camouflage technology.
"To Make Search Faster, Google Speeds up the Web". (Via @LyndsiM.)
The mathematics of the perfect putt
"Translation technology may let humans speak with dolphins".

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What happens when an Australian newscaster tries to tell a Dalai Lama joke to the Dalai Lama?

Vertical camping technology:

Interesting podcast on political themes in Firefly and Serenity.

If you prefer to read it rather than listen to the audio, here's the transcript (PDF).
Can brain scans can identify children who will likely become killers?
"Who Invented the Oreo? The Unsung Heroes of Cookie Design"

Monday, June 13, 2011

This semi-liquid picker-upper is one of the coolest things I've ever seen:

"How the tiny hyphen causes big confusion". (Via @LyndsiM.)
Taxonomy of wine labels. (Via GMSV.)
"The Ol' '3-D Pit Illusion' Painted On Sidewalk". Check out the video:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"The Cost of Hard Disk Space Has Decreased by Almost 1.5M Times Since 1980". Lots more details here.

Hula hooping from the hoop's perspective:

Giant version of Digi-Comp II, huge automatic mechanical computer that uses billiard balls instead of marbles. Of course, there's a video!

It doesn't yet run Linux. (Via Waxy.)
"A Practical Way to Make Invisibility Cloaks"

Saturday, June 11, 2011

"BMW Powered Twin-Rotor Hoverbike"

Off topic: PajamasMedia has just published my latest OpEd, "Dude, Where's My Freedom?"
"Entrepreneur Creates World's Lightest, Strongest SteelIn Less Than 10 Seconds"

Quick -- let's regulate it, before people start using it!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

"Computational circuit built from 74 small DNA molecules".
"Why do people believe in cabals?"
"50 Things I Am Not Allowed To Do At Hogwarts". (Via Adam B.)
"More Awesome Behind the Scenes Star Wars Photos"
"The 10 Most Memorable '80s TV Theme Songs".

I must admit to always liking the Hill Street Blues intro. Don't click through if you don't want one of these stuck in your head for an hour...
Tennessee law bans posting images that "cause emotional distress".

What could possibly go wrong with this kind of law?

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

"What happens if you respond to spam?"
"11 Secret Meanings Behind Punctuation in Text Messages"
"How can I make my own spaceship?"
Classic article: "How to use game theory to buy a car".

Here's the essence of the technique:
So here’s what you should do. Research the car carefully on the internet and decide exactly what you want.

Determine the colour, the extras, everything. Then, call every dealer within, say, a 20-mile radius.

When they answer, tell them exactly the car that you want. Then inform them that you are calling all the dealers in the area and asking about the same car.

You are going to buy the car at 5pm from the dealership offering you the best deal. You will ring back soon and seek a price — the full price, with nothing at all left to be added on later.

The dealer may object that if he gives you a quote over the phone, the next dealer will just come in £50 lower. You simply tell him that, yes, this might indeed happen.

That is why, you explain, he has to give you the very lowest price he humanly can, so as to avoid anyone underbidding with a price the dealer would have been willing to accept.

When the witching hour arrives, you go to the dealer with the best offer, cheque in hand, and pick up your car. If there is any change in the terms, you go to the second-best showroom, although this shouldn’t be necessary.

What has happened here? You have forced the salesman to provide you, in the form of his lowest price, all the information he has about the real cost of the car. The advantage has moved from the dealer to you.
(Via Eric Barker.)

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Video of the day: Timelapse clouds.

Update on the classic double-slit experiment.

Yes, the universe is still "stranger than we can imagine".
Timewaster of the day: The actor/director career trajectory plotter.

Towards the bottom of the page. Film geeks will love it. (Via MR.)
How Twitter's features tripped up Congressman Weiner.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Dramatic photos of the Puyehue volcano. (Via @Qwertz0.)
Apparently 41% of winning bids on eBay for Amazon gift certificates exceeded the face value.

In other words, people were quite willing to overpay on eBay for something they could easily purchase at face value at the Amazon site itself.
More on Lockheed Martin's purchase of the first commercial quantum computer from D-Wave.
Infographic of the day: "10 most commonly misused English words". (Via @LyndsiM.)
Birthing dolls. No, really.

I actually liked the zombie birthing doll the best. (Some images may be NSFW.)

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Our anti-matter containment now lasts up to 15 minutes. (Insert favorite Scotty quote from Star Trek.)
Video of the day: Juggling robot handles 5 balls at once:

Detailed (and harsh) critique of Bitcoin.
"France bans 'Facebook' and 'Twitter' from TV, radio":
Radio and television news anchors may no longer say the words "Facebook" and "Twitter" on air, unless the terms are part of a news story. This prohibits French news organizations from urging their audience to "follow us on Twitter" or "check out or Facebook page," or other such promotions.

The ban actually stems from a decree issued by the French government on March 27, 1992, which forbids the promotion of commercial enterprises on news programs. To sticklers of objective journalism, this may seem a reasonable rule. But as expat blogger Matthew Fraser points out, this type of regulation is absurd, especially when Facebook and Twitter have become so widely established in everyday life...
Is there a Denny's-Moon rocks connection? (Via @Qwertz0.)

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Friday, June 03, 2011

Off topic: The June 2, 2011 edition of the Christian Science Monitor has published my latest health care OpEd, "Here comes Obamacare's Big Brother: Accountable Care Organizations".

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Don't trade your right kidney for an iPad. (Via Tyler Cowen.)
There sure are a lot of conspiracy theories about Denver International Airport.
"Air Force's Robotic Bags Will Pack Themselves"
Star Wars trash compactor book ends.

(Via Michael Williams.)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

FDA approves computer chip for humans
"Is This Reporter's Crazy Basketball Shot Real?" Lots of physics geekery!

(Via Tyler Cowen.)
How sinking island nations can retain their statehood.
"Updated Commodore 64 scratches your 80′s retro itch"