Sunday, September 30, 2012

Freedom and 3-D Printing

"The Next Battle for Internet Freedom Could Be Over 3D Printing"

Fractal Cat Images

Mathematicians have finally created fractal cat images.

Economics In Virtual Worlds

How macroeconomic theories operate in the massive multiplayer virtual worlds.

Free Stanford Online Class on Computer Networks

Stanford University announces "Free Public Online Class: An Introduction to Computer Networks".

From the e-mail description by Professor Nick McKeown:
Professor Philip Levis and I are teaching one of these free (and often massive) public online classes this Autumn quarter as an "Introduction to Computer Networks". The material is designed to be broadly accessible to anyone who wants to understand the design principles of computer networks, with a special emphasis on how the Internet works. The class is based on our CS144 class for Stanford juniors and seniors, which will run in parallel.
The class begins October 8, 2012.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Honest Trailers: The Avengers

Honest Trailers: The Avengers.

 (Via @supatrey.)

A Conversation With Randall Munroe

"A Conversation With Randall Munroe, the Creator of xkcd"

Human Support Robot

"Toyota has unveiled a new assistant robot designed to help the disabled live more independently."
Called the Human Support Robot (HSR), it represents the latest initiative in Toyota's Partner Robot program and is intended to help out around the home by fetching things, opening curtains, and picking up objects that have fallen to the floor.
(Via Kelly V.)

Can a Robot Pass the University of Tokyo Math Entrance Exam?

"Can a robot pass the University of Tokyo math entrance exam?"

From the article:
The test uses high-school math problems. For a computer to solve a math problem, it needs three things, according to NII:
  1. Semantic analysis: Understand the problem text, which is expressed as natural language and formulas easily understood by humans.
  2. Formulation: Convert to a form that can be processed by a computer.
  3. Calculation: Find the answer using the mathematical solver.
So far, Todai Robot can solve about 50–60% of Todai’s Level 2 entrance-exam problems, Fujitsu says.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Gorilla Glass

"Gorilla Glass is the thin strong glass used for the screens of most smartphones. It was invented in the 1960s by Corning but was shelved in the early 1970s due to a lack of demand. The iPhone brought it out of retirement in a big way."

Laser Pointering The Moon

xkcd: "If every person on Earth aimed a laser pointer at the Moon at the same time, would it change color?"

Meeting A Troll

Man confronts internet troll in real life. With a very surprising ending.

Stanford For All

Stanford University's big push for online education.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Driverless Cars Update

Lots of people are working on driverless cars.

Robotic Fish To Catch Drug Dealers

"Something's Fishy Here: Robo-Tuna Sinks War On Drugs To New Depths". (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Are Prehistoric Cave Drawings Really Animations?

Are prehistoric cave drawings really animations? (Includes video.)


New lens-free microscopy capture complex 3D swimming pattern of human sperm.

Link includes an animated video. (Via Maximizing Progress.)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Can a Google Autocomplete Function Be Libelous?

Can a Google Autocomplete Function Be Libelous? (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Create Your Own Local Dropbox

"Create your own local Dropbox with AeroFS".

Update: Other services, such as ownCloud, may do something similar.

How To Avoid Choking In Sports

Surprisingly simple technique: Make a fist with your left hand

(Note: The research was only performed on right-handed athletes.)

Most And Least Common Four-Digit PINs

An analysis of 3.4 million four-digit PINs.

Some tidbits:
The most popular password is 1234 -- nearly 11%
The next most popular 4-digit PIN in use is 1111 with over 6% of passwords being this.
In third place is 0000 with almost 2%. 
Hence, "a staggering 26.83% of all passwords could be guessed by attempting these 20 combinations!"

The least popular 4-digit password was 8068.  Many more interesting bits of data in the full article.

(Via Bruce Schneier.)

Sniffing Out Malignancies

Faster, please: "A Technion scientist has developed a breath test to determine whether a growth is benign or malignant":
Breath tests are usually used to test for drunkenness, or perhaps halitosis. But Dr. Hossam Haick of the Technion has found a new use for breath tests – determining whether or not a growth in the lung is benign, or malignant...
Interesting how one Middle Eastern country seems to be a bastion of science, progress, and innovation.

Could The Internet Ever Become Conscious?

Slate: "Could the Internet Ever 'Wake Up'?"

I doubt it, but it does make for some fun science fiction.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Surveillance State Update, NJ Edition

"New Jersey Bans Smiling in Driver's License Photos:
The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission has cracked down on drivers smiling in their driver’s license photos because their smiles could interfere with new facial recognition software.
The other tidbit:
[R]esidents are also asked to remove glasses and head wear, unless it is for religious reasons

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Stealing Magic?

"Stealing magic has become a commonplace crime. Teller, a man of infinite delicacy and deceit, decided to do something about it."

Lightbulb 2.0

This is not your father's lightbulb.

TV News Archived

"All the TV News Since 2009, on One Web Site"

Russian Diamond Stash

"Russia Has More Diamonds Hiding in an Asteroid Crater Than the Rest of the World Has Combined"

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bezos and PowerPoint

"Jeff Bezos And The End of PowerPoint As We Know It"

Acoustic Levitation

Acoustic Levitation (via @supatrey):

The Stamp that Almost Caused a War

"The Stamp that Almost Caused a War"

Boiling Water without Bubbles

"How to Boil Water Without Bubbles"

Linux is 21!

Tweet of the day from @thinkgeek:
Today in Geek History: In 1991, Linus Torvalds uploaded 1st Linux kernel's 10,239 lines of code--0.07% of today's v3.6rc5.
(Via Dave Jilk.)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Geek Goes To DC

"Geeks are from Mars, wonks are from Venus".

There's a very fine line between "relationships are important" and "it pays to have 'pull'".

New Tablet Computer

Truth: "New Tablet Computer".  (Click on image to see full-size)

Twitter Acronym Guide

"The complete guide to Twitter's language and acronyms"

Tailor-Made Organs

"Scientists Make Progress in Tailor-Made Organs"

Build Your Own Supercomputer

"Wanna build your own supercomputer? All you need is some Legos and a few dozen Raspberry Pis."

Saturday, September 15, 2012

War On Men?

"Women Are Paying Huge Sums To Have a Daughter Rather Than a Son"

Some interesting excerpts:
The conventional wisdom has always been this: Given a choice, couples would prefer sons. That has certainly been the case in places like China and India, where couples have used pregnancy screening to abort female fetuses. But in the United States, a different kind of sex selection is taking place: Mothers like Simpson are using expensive reproductive procedures so they can select girls...

For Jennifer Merrill Thompson, the reasons were simple. “I’m not into sports. I’m not into violent games. I’m not into a lot of things boys represent and boys do,” she said. Thompson is the author of Chasing the Gender Dream, a self-published book that documents her use of gender-selection technology to conceive her daughter.
Interviews with several women from the forums at and yielded the same stories: a yearning for female bonding. Relationships with their own mothers that defined what kind of mother they wanted to be to a daughter. A desire to engage in stereotypical female activities that they thought would be impossible with a baby boy.
 I guess gender stereotyping is ok if it's done by affluent American women.

Chemistry in the Quantum Vacuum

I only partially understand this, but it sounds very interesting: "Chemistry in the Quantum Vacuum. No, Really".

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Best. Nigerian. Spam.

Yes, you can help this poor Nigerian astronaut collect his $15 million in back pay:

"He was stranded (at a space station) in 1990 when the Soviet Union was dissolved.  … He is in good humor, but wants to come home."

"It's Complicated", Animal Version

Pregnant males and pseudopenises: Complex sex in the animal kingdom"

Cardboard Bicycle

"Izhar Gafni has designed a bike that weighs 20 pounds, costs between $9-12 to build, can hold up to a 485 pound person, and is made out of cardboard."

Living Inside A Computer Simulation?

The latest variation on an old idea: "Whoa, Dude, Are We Inside a Computer Right Now?"

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Things I Would Not Put In My Underwear

Pretty high on my list would be a monkey.

The 10 turtles would also be pretty high on my list. (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Shiniest Living Thing

"The world's shiniest living thing is an African fruit that looks like a pointillist bauble". (Via Trey P.)

Advertising Jingles

"The history of advertising jingles, a truly American art form"

Bad Cooking Job

If I had cooking skills, being the personal chef for the North Korean dictator's family would be pretty darned low on the list of jobs I would ever take.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Bacon Standard

Forget the "gold standard", I'm supporting the new "bacon standard"!

Nanocrystalline Cellulose

"Nanocrystalline cellulose is the new carbon nanotube"

Is "Log In To Unsubscribe" Illegal?

"Log in to unsubscribe from this e-mail": Annoying, possibly illegal

Violin Upgrade

"Treatment with fungi makes a modern violin sound like a Stradiavarius". (Via Monica H.)

[Off topic] Hsieh PJM OpEd on ObamaCare 2.0

[Off topic]: On 9/10/2012, PJ Media has published my latest health care OpEd: "In Top Journal, Obamacare Boosters Push 'Global Spending Target'".

I discuss the latest push by former Obama administration officials for a "global spending cap" on health care -- but public and private.  (And I very much appreciated the weekend Instapundit link!)

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Marginal Revolution University

Marginal Revolution will be offering free online economics courses!

You can sign up here.

Meth Maven

The real-life chemistry teacher who showed Breaking Bad how to make meth.

The article also notes that the TV show "deliberately put in faulty steps" so that home viewers can't actually create their own meth with those techniques.  (Via Ryan Sager.)

Update on Junk DNA

NYT: "Far From 'Junk,' DNA Dark Matter Plays Crucial Role". (Via David Jilk.)

Long Experiments

"Experiments Scientists Would Do If They Lived Indefinitely". (Via Jared R.)

[Off Topic] Hsieh Forbes OpEd: Will Obamacare Play Games With Your Actual Life?

[Off topic] Forbes has published my latest health care OpEd, "Will Obamacare Play Games With Your Actual Life?"

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Soulmates and Statistics

xkcd answers: "What if everyone actually had only one soul mate, a random person somewhere in the world?"

Driverless Cars Update

Update on driverless cars.

Will Technology Replace 80% of Doctors?

Vinod Khosla: "Technology Will Replace 80 Percent of Docs"

How Deep Is the Shadow Economy?

"How Deep Is the Shadow Economy?"

I was especially interested that participants developed informal dispute resolution techniques, where there's obviously no way to take such matters to a court of law.  (Of course, sometimes things do break down and turn violent.)

Monday, September 03, 2012

Hypoxia and Risk Taking

"Oxygen depletion increases risk seeking for losses but not for gains". (Via WD.)

Energy Weapons

Update on energy weapons.

No Star Trek phasers yet.

Google Street View Via Tricycle

Google Street View reaches remote Canadian Inuit village via tricycle. (Via Neatorama.)

Internet Cat Film Festival

Yes, there was an Internet Cat Film Festival.  And they announced a winner.

Unusual Labor Market

Markets in everything: "Cat Holder-Downer"

Sunday, September 02, 2012

A Statuette of Your Fetus

"Expectant mothers can now order a custom three-dimensional model of their unborn child in utero".

The model is based on ultrasound and/or MRI scan data.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Maple Syrup Strategic Reserve

The US maintains a "strategic reserve" of petroleum. Apparently, Canada maintains a "strategic reserve" of maple syrup.  (Via Doug Mataconis.)

Flat Lens For Cameras

"New Flat Lens Could Revolutionize Cameras as We Know Them". (Via Instapundit.)