Saturday, January 31, 2015

LED Super Bowl

"The First Super Bowl Played Under LEDs Will Use 75 Percent Less Power". (Via H.R.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Good Question About NSA Activities

"If the NSA has been hacking everything, how has nobody seen them coming?" (Via W.G.)

Archery Skepticism

GeekDad offers some skepticism about the "Danish archer" video currently making the rounds.

Exploding Metals

BBC: "Metal explosions 'driven by charge'". (Via H.R.)

Self-Assembling Transistors

"3-D Transistors Made with Molecular Self-Assembly"

Monday, January 26, 2015

[Off Topic] Hsieh Forbes Column on "The Right To Die"

[Off Topic] My latest Forbes piece is now out, "Does Your Right To Life Include The Right To Die?"

I discuss the revived debate over physician-assisted suicide, especially in the wake of Brittany Maynard's decision to end her life following a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. This issue is being debated in several state legislatures, including New Jersey and California, so we will be hearing much more about this in coming months.

I recognize that this is a controversial topic and that good physicians can disagree on this issue. Nonetheless, I believe this should be a legal option for patients, provided that there are appropriate safeguard to protect both the patient and the physician.

In my piece I cover three main subpoints:
1) Your life is your own.
2) The state has a legitimate (even vital) role to play in assisted suicide.
3) Physicians must not be required to participate
For more details, please read the full text of "Does Your Right To Life Include The Right To Die?"

(Much of this material is drawn from the recent Philosophy In Action podcast by my wife Dr. Diana Hsieh and her co-host Greg Perkins in their 1/18/2015 segment, "The Right To Die".)

(Photo: Brittany Maynard by Allie Hoffman
Creative Commons Attribution – Share Alike)

Baby Name Markets In Everything

"This company will create a unique name for your baby - for £20,000".

This is roughly US $30,000. (Via Marginal Revolution.)

Americans Try To Pronounce UK Place Names

"Americans try to pronounce UK place names". (Via Trey P.)


"Why Do Sneezes Come In Twos and Threes?" (Via M.B.)

Police Oppose Police-Tracking Function in GPS App Waze

"Police Oppose Police-Tracking Function in GPS App Waze":
But civil liberties advocates say that as long as Waze users are reporting police sightings that occur in public, they are conveying information in a reasonable and protected way. Nuala O'Connor, head of the Center for Democracy and Technology, told the AP, "I do not think it is legitimate to ask a person-to-person communication to cease simply because it reports on publicly visible law enforcement."

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Archer Extraordinaire

Lars Andersen: A new level of archery"

Sonos Pulsating Logo

"New Sonos logo design pulses like a speaker when scrolled":
Go ahead and give the page a wiggle. The pulsing effect you see, akin to a throbbing speaker, is the outcome of a new identity created for Sonos by Bruce Mau Design... 

AI and Magic

"What Artificial Intelligence Research Can Learn From Magicians (and Vice Versa)"

Ultrasonography of Wild Haggis

Hah! "Applications of ultrasonography in the reproductive management of Dux magnusgentis venteris saginati". (Via VA Viper.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Compact Folding Keyboard

"WayTools TextBlade is a folding QWERTY keyboard the size of a pack of gum".

More info at the company website.

AI Isn't So Scary

"Why the world's most intelligent people shouldn't be so afraid of artificial intelligence"

A Designer's War on Misleading Parking Signs

"A Designer's War on Misleading Parking Signs"

Police Radar Sees Into Homes

USA Today: "New police radars can 'see' inside homes".

The article describes both the technological and legal/privacy issues:
At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly equipped their officers with radar devices that allow them to effectively peer through the walls of houses to see whether anyone is inside, a practice raising new concerns about the extent of government surveillance.

Those agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, began deploying the radar systems more than two years ago with little notice to the courts and no public disclosure of when or how they would be used. The technology raises legal and privacy issues because the U.S. Supreme Court has said officers generally cannot use high-tech sensors to tell them about the inside of a person's house without first obtaining a search warrant...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Edge 2015: Machines That Think

The Edge Annual Question 2015: "What Do You Think About Machines That Think?"

Lots of interesting responses.

Old Plutonium

"Manhattan Project Plutonium, Lost to Obscurity, Recovered by Scientists"

Design Flaws In The USS Enterprise

"Top 10 Biggest Design Flaws In The USS Enterprise"

Wireless Brain-Computer Interface

"A Brain-Computer Interface That Works Wirelessly". (Via H.R.)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Food Labelling Update

"Over 80 percent of Americans support 'mandatory labels on foods containing DNA'".

And watch out for that dihydrogen monoxide!  Personally, I'm ok with DNA in my food as long as it's organic.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Packers of Catan

Several Green Bay Packers (including most of the offensive line) are avid players of "Settlers of Catan"

Zero-Maintenance Data Storage

"How Computer Scientists Solved The Challenge of Zero-Maintenance Data Storage"

Original 1978 Microsoft BASIC Source Code

"This is the original 1978 source code of Microsoft BASIC for 6502 with all original comments, documentation and easter eggs... This is currently the oldest publicly available piece of source written by Bill Gates."

Stealing Pizza

"How to sneakily steal pizza so your friends won't hate you"

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

UK Considering Banning Strong Encryption

NYT: "British Prime Minister Suggests Banning Some Online Messaging Apps".

From the article:
Popular messaging services like Snapchat and WhatsApp are in the cross hairs in Britain.That was the message delivered on Monday by Prime Minister David Cameron, who said he would pursue banning encrypted messaging services if Britain’s intelligence services were not given access to the communications.

The statement comes as many European politicians are demanding that Internet companies like Google and Facebook provide greater information about people’s online activities after several recent terrorist threats, including the attacks in Paris.
Related: "UK's Cameron won’t 'allow' strong encryption of communications".  And "For Political Leaders, More Surveillance Is Always the Answer".

My dissenting piece on PJ Media from last month: "Should You Have to Speak with Others in a Way the Government Can Understand?"

The Effect of Police Body Cameras

"The Effect of Police Body Cameras".

Short version: "The first randomized controlled trial of police body cameras shows that cameras sharply reduce the use of force by police and the number of citizen complaints."  More info here. (Via C.M.)

The Spaceship That Almost Landed

Rand Simberg: "The Spaceship That Almost Landed".

As he says, "Focusing on what went wrong with the landing of SpaceX is to ignore the many other things that went astonishingly right."


Some people are not so welcoming of our new robotic overlords: "Artificial intelligence experts sign open letter to protect mankind from machines"

Monday, January 12, 2015

From Clay to Bronze

Linda Cordair: "From Clay to Bronze – Timeless Beauty".  Nice discussion of the "lost wax" method.

Seahawk Seismology

"What that 90-yard Seahawks TD looked like to seismologists".

Economic World History in One Chart

"Economic World History in One Chart":
This chart shows the distribution of the annual income between all world citizen. To make incomes comparable across countries and across time the annual incomes are measured in International Dollars – this is a currency that would would buy a comparable amount of goods and services a U.S. dollar would buy in the United States in 1990.
The distribution of incomes is shown at 3 points in time:
  • In 1820 only few countries achieved economic growth. The chart shows that the majority of the world lived in poverty with an income similar to the poorest countries in Africa today (around 500 International Dollars).
  • 150 years later in the year 1950 the world has changed – it became very unequal. The world income distribution has the shape of a camel. One hump at around 500 International Dollars and a second hump at around 5,000 International Dollars – the world was divided into a poor developing world and a 10-times richer developed world.
  • The world income distribution has changed dramatically over the following 3 decades! The poorer countries, especially in South-East Asia, have caught up. The two-humped camel shaped has changed into a one-humped dromedar shape – the world is not divided in two anymore. And not only is the world more equal again, the distribution has also shifted to the right – the world is much richer!
(Click on image to see full size.)

The Town Without Wi-Fi

"The residents of Green Bank, West Virginia, can't use cell phones, wi-fi, or other kinds of modern technology due to a high-tech government telescope. Recently, this ban has made the town a magnet for technophobes, and the locals aren't thrilled to have them."

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

What the World Will Speak in 2115

"What the World Will Speak in 2115". (Via R.S.)

Bad Tech Speak

"10 pieces of tech speak we should trash in 2015". (Via Trey P.)

Number of Unique Ancestors?

"How many unique ancestors do you have?"

I used to wonder about this exact question as a kid.  Too bad YouTube wasn't around back then in the Neolithic era!  (Via Matthew Bowdish.)

New Silicon

"Scientists Synthesize an Entirely New Form of Silicon". (Via H.R.)

Monday, January 05, 2015

Drug Delivery

"Device Squeezes Cells to Get Drugs In". (Via H.R.)

Does Sleeping Naked Prevent Diabetes?

"Does sleeping naked prevent diabetes?"  (This is a question based on a Daily Mail story.)

From the response: "It’s not hard to see how a paper that specializes in celebrities’ beach bodies and baby bumps might oversell the nudity concept for clickbait purposes"

Blind Film Critic

"What is it like to be a blind film critic?" (Via Marginal Revolution.)

LOTR Fan Prequels: "Hunt For Gollum" and "Born Of Hope"

These are from a few years ago, but I want to link to these two "Lord Of The Ring" fan prequels. (I've seen the first and am looking forward to watching the second.)

For fan movies, they're pretty good!

"The Hunt For Gollum" (39 minutes):
Award winning unofficial prequel short film dramatising Aragorn & Gandalf's long search for Gollum directed by British filmmaker Chris Bouchard. Based faithfully on the appendices of the books this is a non-profit, serious homage to the writing of J.R.R Tolkien and the films of Peter Jackson.

It was shot on locations in England and Snowdonia with a team of over a hundred people working over the Internet. It took two years to make and was released as a non-profit Internet-only video by agreement with Tolkien Enterprizes.

"Born of Hope" (71 minutes):
A scattered people, the descendants of storied sea kings of the ancient West, struggle to survive in a lonely wilderness as a dark force relentlessly bends its will toward their destruction. Yet amidst these valiant, desperate people, hope remains. A royal house endures unbroken from father to son.

This 70 minute original drama is set in the time before the War of the Ring and tells the story of the DĂșnedain, the Rangers of the North, before the return of the King. Inspired by only a couple of paragraphs written by Tolkien in the appendices of the Lord of the Rings we follow Arathorn and Gilraen, the parents of Aragorn, from their first meeting through a turbulent time in their people's history.

Sunday, January 04, 2015


"Robots are starting to break the law and nobody knows what to do about it".

Clearly, to fight RoboCriminals we need RoboCop!

Science By Press Release

"Why you can't believe all the health articles that you read"

Starbucks 'Flat White'

"Starbucks has high hopes for 'flat white' drink":
Quartz rounds up various explanations, including this one from an aficionado: "It's like a cappuccino, except that instead of a top layer of flavorless, airy, milky foam, it's a velvety, dense foam that is mixed evenly through the drink."

Flat whites have been popular overseas for years, with both Australia and New Zealand claiming credit for inventing the drink.

The Future of Getting Arrested

"The Future of Getting Arrested: What they're gonna do when they come for you"