Monday, June 30, 2014

Software Spots Genetic Disorders from Regular Photos

MedGadget: "Software Spots Genetic Disorders from Regular Photos".

One application of this technique: "Abraham Lincoln may have suffered from a rare gentic disorder known as Marfam syndrome which elongates the limbs, fingers and can cause heart problems".

Why You Can't E-mail Your Doctor

Slate: "Why you still can’t email your physicians with a simple question. (Hint: It's not their fault.)"

Aaronson on Quantum Randomness

Scott Aaronson discusses quantum randomness. (Here's the single-page printer-friendly version.)

BTW, this is the part 2 on his discussion on randomness.  The first part can be found here: "The Quest for Randomness".

Spot The Hidden Sniper In These Photos

"Can You Spot the Snipers Hidden in These Photos?"

 Like Where's Waldo? for grownups. I missed almost all of them.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tau Vs. Pi

Because it's Tau Day (6/28) here's a piece from Scientific American: "Why Tau Trumps Pi".

(Note: I'm still a pi supporter.)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Google Maps Displays Different Borders To Viewers In Different Countries

See how Google Maps displays disputed territories around the world"

15 Terrifying GoPro Videos

"15 Terrifying GoPro Videos to Make Your Heart Skip".

These are good to watch if you're suffering from an adrenaline deficiency!

On-Demand Doctors

"One of Uber's core crew said to launch on-demand doctors".

These services often start for the well-heeled, but when market forces are allowed to unfold they can become increasingly affordable to the middle class.

Creepy Japanese Robots

Uncanny valley update: "In Japan, Robots Look a Bit Too Much Like Us"

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Supreme Court Privacy Ruling

NYT: "Supreme Court Says Phones Can’t Be Searched Without a Warrant"
In a major statement on privacy rights in the digital age, the Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously ruled that the police need warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the court, said the vast amount of data contained on modern cellphones must be protected from routine inspection.

The old rules, Chief Justice Roberts said, cannot be applied to “modern cellphones, which are now such a pervasive and insistent part of daily life that the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy.”
Analysis from Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog: "Broad cloak of privacy for cellphones".

LEGO Bus Stop

"London Has A Bus Stop Made Of 100,000 LEGO Bricks"

3D Printing Explained In 2 Minutes

"3D Printing: Everything You Need to Know in 2 Minutes"

Remember To Log Off

Police: "Thief Forgets To Log Off Facebook After Burglarizing Home"

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hsieh Forbes Column: "8 Star Trek Technologies Moving From Science Fiction To Science Fact"

My latest in Forbes: "8 Star Trek Technologies Moving From Science Fiction To Science Fact".

Some of the 8+ technologies (or story elements) of Star Trek that I discuss include:
1) Warp Drive
2) Universal Translator
3) Handheld Computers
4) Medical Tricorder
5) Energy Weapons
6) Androids
7) Teleportation
8) Intelligent Aliens
9) Other Technologies
Although some Star Trek technologies are still clearly in the realm of science fiction (e.g., the warp drive), others like the medical tricorder are coming close to reality.  And some design elements (like the flip-style communicators of Star Trek: TOS) have already come and gone as consumer products in the real world.

For more details, read the full text of "8 Star Trek Technologies Moving From Science Fiction To Science Fact".

I had a lot of fun working on this latest Forbes piece.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

31 Essential Science Fiction Terms

"31 Essential Science Fiction Terms And Where They Came From"

Vacuum Tubes 2.0

"How Vacuum Tubes, New Technology Might Save Moore's Law"

Related: "Introducing the Vacuum Transistor: A Device Made of Nothing"

How To Marry The Right Girl: A Mathematical Solution

How To Marry The Right Girl: A Mathematical Solution".

The key is the quantity 1/e (roughly 36.8%).

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Publishing Business Is In Crisis

Sarah Hoyt: "The Publishing Business Is In Crisis"

Of course one person's crisis is another person's opportunity.

3 Delorean Limo

"Stretch limo made from three bodged-together Deloreans"

How Americans Pronounce Common Tech Terms

"'Why-Fi' or 'Wiffy'? How Americans Pronounce Common Tech Terms".

I have never heard it pronounced "wiffy". (Via Doug M.)

How To Catch A Chess Cheater

"How To Catch A Chess Cheater: Ken Regan Finds Moves Out Of Mind"

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Benefits Of Recording Police

Two stories from Ars Technica on the benefits of videorecording the police.:
"Candid camera, part 1: Five times video footage showed police misconduct"
"Candid camera, part 2: Four times that video evidence exonerated cops"

OK Go Does Optical Illusions

Excellent music video from OK Go full of optical illusions: "The Writing's On The Wall".  (Via N.L.)

The Mystery of Anesthesia

"Why Anesthesia Is One of the Greatest Medical Mysteries of Our Time"

Geometry Game

Excellent addictivegeometry game: Euclid.

The player has a virtual compass and ruler, and is challenged to perform increasingly-difficult tasks using only those tools.  Only a few levels, but very addictive!  (Via io9.)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Sherlock Holmes In Public Domain

The Sherlock Holmes character is now officially in the public domain.

Update: Link was broken, now fixed!

Chinese Test Cheats

"Chinese Teens Have Found Remarkable High-Tech Ways To Cheat On Tests".  (Via R.G.)

30 Death-Defying Photos

"30 Death-Defying Photos That Will Make Your Heart Skip A Beat".

Do not click through if you have a fear of heights. (Via S.H.)

Why You Are Wrong

Heh: "Why You Are Wrong". (Via S.V.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

History of Android

Ars Technica: "The history of Android"

WiFi Life Detector

"MIT’s WiFi System Detects People’s Breathing, Heart Rate, Even Through Walls".

It works by detecting low powered wireless reflections.

Extreme Mountain Biking

Gizmodo: "Watch extreme athlete Jaws Szczęki tackle this very narrow and difficult mountain bike route in the French Alps. Zero room for error."

Do not watch this if you have a weak stomach!

Space Station Coffee

Alex Knapp: "The Space Station Is Getting A Coffee Machine".

No more instant coffee for the astronauts!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Shaky Science

"Two big recent scientific results are looking shaky -- and it is open peer review on the internet that has been doing the shaking":
Scientists make much of the fact that their work is scrutinised anonymously by some of their peers before it is published. This “peer review” is supposed to spot mistakes and thus keep the whole process honest. The peers in question, though, are necessarily few in number, are busy with their own work, are expected to act unpaid—and are often the rivals of those whose work they are scrutinising. And so, by a mixture of deliberation and technological pressure, the system is starting to change. The internet means anyone can appoint himself a peer and criticise work that has entered the public domain. And two recent incidents have shown how valuable this can be...
 (Via Instapundit.)


"In Pixeltrek, Explore the Enterprise in All Its Glory. And Its Toilets."

Direct link to Be prepared for hours of lost productivity.

Real-Life Laws That Regulate The Supernatural

"10 Real-Life Laws That Regulate The Supernatural World"

Cloaking Update

Forbes: "Physicists Create An Optical Invisibility Cloak"

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

VC Firm Names Algorithm To Its Board Of Directors

"Venture Capital Firm Just Named An Algorithm To Its Board Of Directors"
Deep Knowledge Ventures, a firm that focuses on age-related disease drugs and regenerative medicine projects, says the program, called VITAL, can make investment recommendations about life sciences firms by poring over large amounts of data.

Just like other members of the board, the algorithm gets to vote on whether the firm makes an investment in a specific company or not. The program will be the sixth member of DKV's board.
More info here.

Blood Type Complexities

"Your Blood Type is a Lot More Complicated Than You Think":
There are in fact hundreds of antigens that fall into 33 recognized antigen systems, many of which can cause dangerous reactions during transfusion. One person's blood can contain a long list of antigens, which means that a fully specified blood type has to be written out antigen by antigen—for example, O, r”r”, K:–1, Jk(b-). Try fitting that into that little space on your Red Cross card...

Theater Chain Bans Google Glass

"Theater chain bans Google Glass".

I think we'll be in for an interesting "shakeout period', as private establishments decide exactly what ground rules they want to set for patrons who own Google Glass.  I can see some businesses legitimately wanting to establish a "no-Google Glass zone", which would be their prerogative.

6 Word SF Stores

Six word science fiction stories.

My submission: "Zombies move faster than I realized---"

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

History Of Light

NPR's Planet Money had a recent fun podcast on the "History of Light".

One fascinating tidbit was on how much artificial light you can get for a day's labor:
Antiquity: 10 minutes (candle)
1800s: 5 hours (kerosene)
Today: 20,000 hours (electricity)
If you don't want to listen to the audiofile, here's a transcript of that segment.

This Is Not Your Father's Paper Airplane

WSJ: "Paper Planes Transform Into Tiny Drones"

Efficient US States Road Trip

"How to drive through all 48 of the contiguous United States in 113 hours".

The route begins in South Berwick, Maine and ends 6,872 miles later in Taft, Montana.

Notifications Are About to Rule the Smartphone Interface

Wired: "Why Notifications Are About to Rule the Smartphone Interface"

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Digital Gerrymandering

"Facebook Could Decide an Election Without Anyone Ever Finding Out". (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Van Gogh Severed Ear Recreated

Vincent van Gogh's severed ear has been 3D printed using van Gogh's DNA as well as living cells from his great-grandson. (Via GMSV.)

Microsoft Universal Translator

"Microsoft emulates Star Trek, turns Skype into a Universal Translator".

More info from Microsoft's blog. (Via Ari Armstrong.)

Chocolate Quadcopter

Yes, we live in a world where someone can build a freakin' Chocolate Quadcopter!

Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson Secretly Returned to Comics

"Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson secretly returns to the comic pages"

More details here.  A great story!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

10 Things You Didn't Know About The D-Day landings

"10 things you didn't know about the D-Day landings".

For instance:
Lieutenant James Doohan of the Winnipeg Rifles was shot in the hand and chest on D-Day. A silver cigarette case stopped the bullet to the chest, but the shot to his hand caused him to lose a finger. Doohan later became known to generations of TV viewers as the actor who played Scottie in Star Trek. While on camera, he always tried to hide his injured hand.

Luxury Ice Cubes

Markets in everything: Luxury ice cubes.

Quiz: Drug or Programming Language?

Quiz: Drug or Programming Language?

I got 17/25.  Back when I was young, programming languages had names like FORTRAN and COBOL, whereas drugs had names like "weed". #GetOffMyLawn

Pilots and Flight Attendants Confess Dark Secrets About Flying

"Pilots and flight attendants confess dark secrets about flying".

One interesting tidbit:
#3: The true story behind those oxygen masks. That if the oxygen masks drop down, you only have about 15 minutes of oxygen from the point of pulling them down. However, that is more than enough time for the pilot to take us to a lower altitude where you can breathe normally. More important – at altitude, you have 15-20 seconds before you pass out. Put yours on first, then do your kids. Passing out for a few seconds won’t harm the kids.

How To Coil Cables.

"How to coil cables"

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Wrong Store To Rob

If you want to commit robbery, maybe a store that sells surveillance cameras should be pretty low on your list.

Star Trek Stablized

"Somebody ran a Star Trek scene through an image stabilizer." (Via @Schlaeps.)

Lots more here.

23 Photos Of People Posing With Their Daily Food Intake

"23 Photos Of People Posing With Their Daily Food Intake".

For example, "Lan Guihua, Farmer, China -- 1,900 Calories":

Guessing Age From Name

"How to Tell Someone's Age When All You Know Is Her Name"

Monday, June 02, 2014

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Slow Motion Ballet Moves

"Six dancers from the Washington Ballet were asked to demonstrate the most physically challenging dance-moves in their repertoires; the slow-motion video of the performances yields up an unworldly sort of bullet-time version of these extreme feats of grace."

High-Speed Internet on the Moon

"You Can Now Get High-Speed Internet on the Moon".

But the tech-support costs are a b*tch...

First "Elfie"?

BBC: Zoo elephant takes "selfie" with visitor's dropped cellphone

Real Computer Worms

Real computer worms: "A crowd-funded project aims to build the world's first simulated organism"

The Most Expensive Starbucks Drink Yet

"The Most Expensive Starbucks Drink Yet".

Related story: "New Starbucks Free Drink Record Set With $54 Sexagintuple Vanilla Bean Mocha Frappuccino".

BTW, it took him 5 days to drink it.