Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Now You Can Buy Your Very Own Robot Swarm"
"Digital Narcotics May Be the Future of Drugs". (Via Francisco G.)
A single air rifle may have been the most influential weapon in American history:

Could be a great plot element for Harry Turtledove-style alternative history SF novel! (Via B.E. and J.W.)
"Stradivarius violin recreated from CAT scan, 'sounds amazingly similar'". (Via Rand Simberg.)
Off topic: Today's PJMedia has published my latest OpEd, "Screening For Terrorists vs. Screening For Cancer".

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"Man with jetpack races actual jets". Includes video. (Via Don H.)
Stanford University professor Dan Boneh is teaching a free online cryptography class starting January 2012. (Via Bruce Schneier.)
"One of biggest information technology companies in the world to abolish e-mails"
"12 Famous Magic Tricks and Illusions Exposed"

Monday, November 28, 2011

Interesting background on Susan Kare, "the woman who designed the original icons for the Macintosh, including a never-before-seen look at her initial sketches for some of them." (Via Kottke.)
Carbon nanotube 'space camouflage' can be used to cloak three-dimensional objects.
You can now buy the ultimate treehouse. (Click on image to see full size.)

Here's the commercial site.
"Why our brains make us laugh". (Via D.D.)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thailand's government warns FB users they could face criminal prosecution "if they press 'share' or 'like' on images or articles considered unflattering to the Thai monarchy."

Even more alarming, this was used against a Thai-born US citizen who wrote a book about the Thai monarchy while living in the US, then was arrested when he visited Thailand for medical reasons.

A few related stories from the NYT:
"American Arrested for Insulting Thai King", 27 May 2011
"A High-Tech War Against Slights to a Centuries-Old Monarchy", 2 Oct 2011
"20-Year Sentence for Text Messages Against Thai King", 23 Nov 2011
(Via /.)
"Palantir, the War on Terror's Secret Weapon".

This incredibly powerful data-mining technology can clearly be used for either good or evil purposes. Hence, I find it both super-cool -- and super-creepy -- at the same time.

Update: The original link has gone bad.  Here's the revised story link.  Here is a printable version.
"These 18 Napkin Sketches Will Teach You Everything You Need To Know About Saving Money"

My favorite (click to see full size):

Carl Richards also has a very serious piece in the 11/8/2011 New York Times on his own personal financial errors, "How a Financial Pro Lost His House".
"How To Make A Cheaper Quantum Computer"
Interactive chart showing Internet "choke points" where governments to control information. (Via @jerrybrito.)
As Jon Henke says, "Somebody is living every boy's dream":

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"The Rise and Fall of Bitcoin"

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Psychopaths' brains are anatomically different from normal.

Specifically, they seem less able to experience guilt or fear. Of course, the big question is whether the anatomic difference is a cause or an effect of the psychopathology. The MRI studies can only establish a correlation. (Via Transterrestrial Musings.)
Computerized contact lens. (Via @SupaTrey.)
Black Friday holiday shoppers: "8 Germiest Places in the Mall"
Gary Loveman used to be an economics professor at Harvard Business School and is now CEO of Caesar's Entertainment Corporation (one of the largest casino companies). He notes: "There are three things that can get you fired from Caesars: Stealing, sexual harassment and running an experiment without a control group."

I enjoyed the full podcast (21 minutes).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

(Regular posting will resume tomorrow.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"The Amazing History and the Strange Invention of the Bendy Straw"

I especially liked this excerpt from the original 1936 patent application:
Applicant has met a problem long existing in the art. A view of any soda fountain on a hot day, with the glasses showing innumerable limp and broken straws drooping over the edges thereof, will immediately show that this problem has long existed.

Where we have the conditions where certainly the straw is old, where corrugated tubing is old, and where no inventor, during those years, has seen fit or has been able to solve this problem, whereas applicant did, that situation alone is prima facie evidence of invention.

Oatmeal: "Thanksgiving as a kid vs. Thanksgiving as an adult".
The Turkey-Tryptophan Myth
Modern turkeys have been bred with extra-large breasts, to meet the high demand for breast meat. These turkeys are physically unable to copulate naturally, so they all require artificial insemination.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Can the iPhone 4S replace a 'real' digital camera?"
"10 Mesmerizing Time-Lapse Videos"
"Scientists invent lightest material on Earth. What now?":
Scientists have invented a new material that is so lightweight it can sit atop a fluffy dandelion without crushing the little fuzzy seeds.

It's so lightweight, styrofoam is 100 times heavier...

As for the uses of such a material? That's still to be determined.

25 Worst Passwords of 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

"Doctors noting increase in 'sleep texting'"
"USB Stick Contains Dual-Core Computer, Turns Any Screen Into an Android Station". (Via David Jilk.)
"The End of Cheap Coffee: Why the Diner Staple Is About to Become a Luxury". I hope this isn't true!

And in case you missed this, "Coffee: The Greatest Addiction Ever":

(Here's the transcript.)
Antikythera mechanism wristwatch. (Via Howard Roerig.)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Awesome Star Wars-themed advertisements for a UK PC store. Click through to watch the short videos.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Oatmeal: "I love it when Wikipedia asks for donations"
It's a tie and a smartphone screen cleaner!
Save the scrollbar!
"The Science of Sarcasm". Really.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"MIT's Technology Review archives going back to 1899 are now live. Here's January 1899." (Via Alex Knapp.)

Meanwhile, from Technology Review 2011: "Researchers Create a Pituitary Gland from Scratch". (Via Instapundit.)
"Attosecond laser may be fast enough to capture electrons in flight"
"12 Things We Buy in a Bad Economy"

So maybe it's been the dastardly Donut Lobby deliberately sabotaging our economy these past few years!
"Brain exam finds signs of awareness in 3 'vegetative' patients"

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Glenn Reynolds (and readers) give their initial impressions of the Kindle Fire.
"6 Guys in a Capsule: 520 Days on a Simulated Mars Mission"
The economics of the NBA lockout.
"Want to create a really strong password? Don't ask Google". (Via Bruce Schneier.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Wired give a very positive review of the Kindle touch and a much more mixed review of the Kindle Fire.
"Man stacks 3,118 coins on a single dime" (via VAViper):

Here's the video:

"Australia Issuing DC Superhero License Plates". (Click on image to see full size. Via BBspot.)

"When Tweeting Can Cost You Your Job, What About Retweets?"

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Matt Ridley: "Is That Scientific Heretic a Genius -- or a Loon?" (Via Instapundit.)
A classic from George Takei's Facebook page.

Yes, that George Takei. Click on image to see full size:

"Upcoming documentary shows world's greatest Tetris players"

Here's the trailer:

"Think your computer is safe? Think again"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Star Trek Episode Featuring Nazis Airs for the First Time in Germany"

From a related article:
The plethora of Nazi uniforms on a show billed as family viewing was regarded as too provocative in the 1970s especially as at one point it describes Nazi Germany as "the most efficient society ever created".

But now 40 years later public broadcaster ZDF felt it could air the show for the benefit of the legions of German Star Trek lovers who have never seen it...

Doctor Simone Emmelius [editorial director at ZDF]... added, however, that the episode was subject to a German FSK-16 regulation. That meant that nobody under the age of 16 was allowed to watch, and it was shown after 10 o'clock at night so the "audience is capable of questioning the complexity of the episode".
This GIF is not animated. Any subjective motion is an optical illusion. (Click on image to see full size):

Interview with firefighter after he helped put out a marijuana fire:

"The world's smallest electric car - made of a single, carefully designed molecule"

Hip Fracture Update: 10 Weeks

Off topic: I recently had my 10-week postoperative check for my left hip fracture. As you can see from the image below, the fracture shows considerable healing and improvement from the earlier 6-week image (click on image to see full size):

The image on the left is the most recent 10-week image; the image on the right is the earlier 6-week image. The arrows point to the fracture line.

For reference, here is the matching CT scan of the hip just prior to surgery (click on image to see full size):

In particular, the fracture shows good bony union on the 10-week image. There is no breakdown of the fracture repair site, and no bending or deformity of the three titanium screws which would indicate abnormal stress at the repair site.

Nor is there any sign of the complication known as "avascular necrosis" or AVN, which is when the bone of the femoral head starts to die off due to inadequate blood supply (a known risk from certain types of hip fractures). If I had developed AVN, then this would have meant that the attempted repair failed and I'd likely need a second surgery for artificial hip replacement.

My orthopedic surgeon (Dr. Steve Morgan) has now given me the green light to get rid of the crutches and start walking with cane. I'm continuing my physical therapy and am now much more mobile. He'll continue to monitor my progress over the next few months, but for now everything is looking good.

Diana deserves tremendous credit for putting up with my relative immobility these past 10 weeks, including doing all the unpleasant household chores that I used to do (like cleaning up the kitty litter).

And we'd like to extend our thanks to all our friends who have offered their support and encouragement during this challenging time!

Earlier posts on this topic:
"My Hip Injury", August 31, 2011
"Hip Injury Aftermath", September 6, 2011
"Open Letter to Apple: My iPad and My Hip Fracture", September 7, 2011

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

"Is the stench of massed zombies toxic?"
"Supreme Court justice on GPS tracking"
"The McRib as Arbitrage"
"NCBI ROFL: Clueless doctor sleeps through math class, reinvents calculus… and names it after herself". (Via Andrew D.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

College majors, salaries, and unemployment rates.

Hey, where's puppetry on this list?
"Astounding 3D effects projected onto a building's facade". (Via Howard R.)
The moray eel has a second set of Alien-like jaws.

More information here.
"1 in 5 journal articles have fraudulent authorship". (Via J.K.)

Monday, November 07, 2011

"How the Post Office Deciphers Bad Handwriting". (Via Neatorama.)
Bizarre international borders. (Via BBspot.)
"The Transcension Hypothesis: Do Advanced Civilizations Leave Our Universe?"

Obviously, these are very speculative (if not downright arbitrary) ideas -- but at least they are potential fodder for science fiction.
"Why your Facebook feed is crammed with visual gags".

Sunday, November 06, 2011

"Do a Barrel Roll" and 8 other Google Easter Eggs

Update: Fixed bad link.

Update #2: One reader notes, "It isn't mentioned in the article but after you do the 'google gravity' easter egg, try putting some search text in the box and hitting search. It makes the gravity easter egg twice the fun."
"Deep Intellect: Inside the mind of the octopus"
"Three new members join the Periodic Table":
The General Assembly of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) has approved the names of the new elements - including one which will honour the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.

The elements are numbered 110, 111 and 112 and are called darmstadtium (Ds), roentgenium (Rg) and copernicium (Cn).
(Via Hot Air.)
How Apple dominates the supply chain.
Cool levitating lamp:

(Costs over $1200 at the commercial website.)
Off topic: The 11/6/2011 PJ Media has published my latest OpEd, "In Praise of Capitalist Inequality".

Saturday, November 05, 2011

This is by far the best 2-cello version of "Welcome to the Jungle" that I've ever heard:

(Via Washington Post "Classical Musicians Gone Wild?" and @JPFreire.)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Each downloaded book does make your Kindle weigh slightly more:
Although the electrons were already present, keeping them still rather than allowing them to float around takes up extra energy -- about a billionth of a microjoule per bit of data.

Using Einstein's E=mc² formula, which states that energy and mass are directly related, Prof Kubiatowicz calculated that filling a 4GB Kindle to its storage limit would increase its weight by a billionth of a billionth of a gram, or 0.000000000000000001g.

This is roughly equivalent to the weight of a small virus, while the equivalent number of books -- about 3,500 -- would weigh approximately two tons.
(Via Marginal Revolution.)
"Half Of Young Professionals Value Facebook Access, Smartphone Options Over Salary".

As the article notes:
This technology addiction represents a major opportunity for employers looking to add to their bottom lines while recruiting top talent. For just a few simple workplace concessions (say, allowing employees to choose an iPhone over a BlackBerry, and opening up access to social networks), recruits could be more likely to accept job offers -- and at a lower salary. One in four college students, according to the report, said issues like these -- while likely baffling to older generations -- would represent key factors in their decision to accept a job offer.
"It's Complicated: 5 Puzzling International Borders". (Via BBspot.)
Clever cable management tip:

Using Bitcoin to create an "anonymous, transparent, cheat-proof" lottery with 99% payout. (Via @Zooko.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

What really happens to the human body if exposed to the vacuum of outer space? (Via Instapundit.)
The astounding longevity of Windows XP.

Heck, my workplace still uses XP because of its stability and because some of our mission-critical specialty software does not work well -- if at all -- with Win7. (Via BBspot.)
"Verify That You Have Good Scotch -- With Lasers":
Even better -- you only need to give up a single drop. The drop of whiskey is placed on a transparent plastic chip. Then two optical fibers are placed in the drop, and the researchers analyze the scattering of light that ensues. As one of the researchers noted, “Whisky turns out to be very interesting: we can not only gather information about the alcohol content, but also the colour and texture. These are dictated by the manufacturing process, which of course influences greatly the type of whisky people enjoy.”
Not sure when the machines can evaluate scotch as accurately as an experienced human taster. But we may reach a "John Henry" moment in scotch tasting sooner than we expect...
"Sculptures whose intention is only evident when they cast a shadow". One example:

More examples here.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

"World's most powerful laser to tear apart the vacuum of space"

I'm sure nothing could possibly go wrong here! But maybe I'll get to meet my evil doppleganger from the alternate universe who wears a goatee. (Via @debbywitt.)
"His & Her Diary From the Same Day"
"United Airlines tests iPad for 'paperless flight deck'":
The iPad weighs about 1.5 pounds, [Captain Joe] Burns said, while the flight bag containing paper copies of charts and handbooks weighs about 40 pounds. United estimates the savings will be about 326,000 gallons of jet fuel a year and 16 million sheets of paper...

What pilots won't be able to do with the iPads -- just like passengers can't -- is turn on the devices during takeoffs and landings...

United pilots also won't be able to play mobile app games like "Angry Birds," sort through their e-mail or watch movies.
(Via Howard Roerig.)
"Robotic venus flytraps catch bugs in mechanical jaws".