... Anymore - Overheard in the Office
Office chick #1: Don't squeeze it! All the goo will come out!
Office chick #2, playing with stress ball: Why, what happened?
Office chick #1: I got a little too excited and squeezed it until it popped... That's why I don't hold babies...
An anonymous reader sends us to Popular Mechanics for word on a New York automaker with plans to introduce a US version of the air-powered car, with which India's Tata Motors made a splash last year. Zero Pollution Motors plans a sub-$18,000, 6-passenger vehicle that can hit 96 mph and gets over 100 MPG, using an untried dual engine â€” the air-powered motor being supplemented by a second (unspecified) engine that would kick in above 35 MPH. The company estimates that "a vehicle with one tank of air and, say, 8 gallons of either conventional petrol, ethanol, or biofuel could hit between 800 and 1000 miles." The vehicle could be introduced to the market as early as 2009.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Leadership Is Having Him Ask for Seconds - Overheard in the Office
Project lead: It's like making a vegetarian eat a hamster.
Santa Clara, California
Overheard by: Rob
mickq writes "The Age reports that Melbourne scientists have built and demonstrated tiny CMOS chips, 5 mm per side, that can transmit 5 Gbps over short distances â€” about 10 m. The chip features a tiny 1-mm antenna, a power amp that is only a few microns wide, and power consumption of only 2 W. 'GiFi' appears set to revolutionize short-distance data transmission, and transmits in the relatively uncrowded 60GHz range. Best of all, the chip is only about a year away from public release, and will only cost around US $9.20 to produce."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
An anonymous reader writes "We've known for ages that IPv4 was going to run out of addresses â€” now, it's happening. IPv6 was going to save us â€” it isn't. The upcoming crisis will hit, perhaps as soon as 2010, but nobody can agree on what to do. The three options are all pretty scary. This article covers the background, and links to a presentation by Randy Bush (PDF) that shows the reality of the problem in stark detail."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Project Cat People Hits an Ethical Snag - Overheard in the Office
Lab worker #1: Murder only applies to humans. It's a term specific to us.
Lab worker #2: You can't 'murder' a dream?
Lab worker #1: You can't murder baby cows.
Lab worker #2: What about cats?
Lab worker #1: No. Cats can't be murdered... Unless they?re half-cat, half-person.
Lab worker #2: Then it's half murder.
Lab worker #1: Even if it's premeditated, it's knocked back to manslaughter. That?s probably why the cat people think we're biased against them, but really it's just that the legal system wasn?t set up with them in mind. [Silence.] I've thought about this a lot.
Durham, North Carolina
genji256 writes "Adding to his first impressions, Walt Mossberg has published a full review of the soon-to-come Lenovo X300. As a bottom line he 'recommends the X300 for road warriors without hesitation, provided they can live with its two biggest downsides: a relatively paltry file-storage capacity and a hefty price tag.' Gizmodo lists all the comparisons with the MacBook Air that Walt inevitably makes. Final score: it's a tie, though certain points are arguable ('Doesn't use Mac OS X Leopard. Winner: MacBook Air')."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
The BBC reports that French researchers have invented a rubber made from urea (a component found in urine) and vegetable oil that rebinds when cut. They say immediate applications include self-reparing seals and kids toys.
The substance, described in the journal Nature, produces surfaces when cut that retain a strong chemical attraction to each other.
Pieces of the material join together again as if never parted without the need for glue or a special treatment.
The French researchers are already making kilogramme quantities in their Paris laboratories and say the process is almost completely green, and could be completely so with a few adjustments.
Link (Thanks, Sigsy!)
Tex Avery toon on the Future of TV, 1953 - Boing Boing
Over on Boing Boing Gadgets, our Joel's spotted this classic 1953 Tex Avery toon about the future of TV:
Cartoon genius Tex Avery produced this short in 1953, showing off TVs for smokers, water drinkers, and those afflicted by airplanes overhead. The integration of real footage with the cartoon is fantastic.
TSA steals food from doctors' infant children - Boing Boing
Two doctors -- a married couple -- were flying with their kids from Chicago to Manchest NH. Given the record delays, snows, etc, they brought along a bunch of extra baby-food. When they got to the TSA checkpoint, the government stole their children's food, saying that if they wanted to bring that much food past the checkpoint, they'd need a letter from a doctor. So -- being doctors -- they offered to write the letter. No, the TSA said, you need a letter from a different doctor.
According to Dr. Soni, the T.S.A. officers said they would need a â€œdoctorâ€™s noteâ€� to bring on all of the food. He said he pointed out that he and his wife were doctors, and then offered to get a pediatrician colleague on the phone...
The T.S.A. officers confiscated some of the food. â€œThey divided it up. They took a jar of prunes and one of bananas, and I think a bottle of formula,â€� he said.
Kinetic steampunk submarine sculpture - Boing Boing
Argentine kinetic sculptor Pablo Lavezzari has a new creation called "Utopia" that's a kind of hand-cranked, tabletop steampunk submarine/fish. It's handsome standing still, and a total knockout when it's in motion.
Link to video, Link to stills gallery
(via Automata Blog)
Scientists Find Believing Can Be Seeing - Slashdot
Ponca City, We Love You writes "Scientists at University College London have found the link between what we expect to see, and what our brain tells us we actually saw revealing that the context surrounding what we see is all important â€” sometimes overriding the evidence gathered by our eyes and even causing us to imagine things which aren't really there. A vague background context is more influential and helps us to fill in more blanks than a bright, well-defined context. This may explain why we are prone to 'see' imaginary shapes in the shadows when the light is poor. "Illusionists have been alive to this phenomenon for years," said Professor Zhaoping. "When you see them throw a ball into the air, followed by a second ball, and then a third ball which 'magically' disappears, you wonder how they did it. In truth, there's often no third ball â€” it's just our brain being deceived by the context, telling us that we really did see three balls launched into the air, one after the other." The original research paper is available on PLOS, the open-access, peer-reviewed journal."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Astronaut describes what space smells like - Boing Boing
On NASA's website, ISS Science Officer Don Pettit describes the "smell of space" -- long a staple of science fiction stories.
Each time, when I repressed the airlock, opened the hatch and welcomed two tired workers inside, a peculiar odor tickled my olfactory senses. At first I couldn't quite place it. It must have come from the air ducts that re-pressed the compartment. Then I noticed that this smell was on their suit, helmet, gloves, and tools. It was more pronounced on fabrics than on metal or plastic surfaces. It is hard to describe this smell; it is definitely not the olfactory equivalent to describing the palette sensations of some new food as "tastes like chicken." The best description I can come up with is metallic; a rather pleasant sweet metallic sensation. It reminded me of my college summers where I labored for many hours with an arc welding torch repairing heavy equipment for a small logging outfit. It reminded me of pleasant sweet smelling welding fumes. That is the smell of space.
The Nebraska Library Commission has begun to include Creative Commons licensed editions of books in its catalog -- so you can check out my novels in the Tor editions, or just nab a copy from the library's site.
About a month ago I was asked the following question: Why don't libraries start cataloging and offering CC-licensed works? Why not, I asked myself. Why doesn't the Commission try this. So, I spoke with others and everyone loved the idea. (At first anyway. We'll come back to that in a moment.) The basic idea was to take electronic versions of these titles, post them on our Web server, catalog them in the OPAC, then offer them up to those that wanted them. Additionally, for some titles the license allowed for physical printing of the works so we sent those files off to the print shop to turn them into spiral-bound books to be added to the physical collection. (A few days later the print shop called back to question our right to print these works. A few pointers back to the CC Web site and the relevant licenses straightened it all out.)
Disneyland is reviving its old "House of the Future" attraction -- originally, this was a wheel-of-gouda-shaped plastic house sponsored by Monsanto that opened in 1957, featuring futuristic technology like cordless phones, giant TVs, electric razors, and kitchen appliances that rose out of the countertops. It was inspriringly goofy -- and so indestructible that the wrecking-ball bounced off it and so the structure had to be disassembled with cutting torches and chainsaws.
The new version will look like a suburban McMansion and will feature stuff that sounds like rejects from CES: touch-screen home automation, automatic lights and temperature (oooh, a thermostat!), and assorted junk from HP, Microsoft, and a couple other sponsors.
I'd rather see Disney give us something built out of surplus shipping containers, filled with just-in-time blobjects that track their existence through spimes and gracefully decompose into the manufacturing stream at their end of life. Something that at least looks like the future, rather than the model home in a pre-subprime-meltdown housing development.
When a resident clicks a TV remote, for example, lights will dim, music will shut off and the shades will draw as the network realizes a movie is about to start.
The system will allow residents to transfer digital photos, videos and music among televisions and computers in different rooms at the click of a button. Other applications still in development could include touch-screen technology built into appliances, furniture and countertops, said Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's vice president for entertainment services.
In the kitchen, for example, touchpad software on the countertop would be able to identify groceries and produce recipes and meal suggestions. Similar programs could turn a desktop into a computer screen, allowing residents to load photos, music or e-mail onto a cell phone by placing it on the desk.
The New Yorker has a good investigative piece on the history of the use of waterboarding by US troops in the Philippines in 1901-2 -- a scandal that rocked the nation.
A letter by A. F. Miller, of the 32nd Volunteer Infantry Regiment, published in the Omaha World-Herald in May, 1900, told of how Millerâ€™s unit uncovered hidden weapons by subjecting a prisoner to what he and others called the â€œwater cure.â€� â€œNow, this is the way we give them the water cure,â€� he explained. â€œLay them on their backs, a man standing on each hand and each foot, then put a round stick in the mouth and pour a pail of water in the mouth and nose, and if they donâ€™t give up pour in another pail. They swell up like toads. Iâ€™ll tell you it is a terrible torture.â€�
And let us not forget: after WWII, Japanese soldiers who'd waterboarded their American prisoners were put to death by the US military for committing unconscionable acts of torture.
I Want to Be the Guy is an insanely hard platformer video-game that mashes together art, bosses, and other play elements from several 8-bit console cartridges from the golden age. Here's a video of someone running the game -- mesmerising.
Infrared LEDs make you invisible to CCTV cameras - Boing Boing
This German exibition is showcasing bright infrared LED devices that overwhelm the CCDs in security cameras, allowing you to move through modern society in relative privacy. I used this as a gimmick in my story I, Robot -- now I want to own one!
The URA / FILOART developed device promises to the citizens of a more reliable protection against security measures of the state (and other Ãœberwachenden).
In addition to monitoring purposes organised systems interaction between man and machine is still IR.ASC an additional interaction between machines dar. This absurd accumulation of technology is symptomatic, because although the entire expense of the protection measures for the alleged safety of citizens is made, the person slips on the importance scale of the current security plan ever deeper down.
Alice In Wonderland syndrome - Boing Boing
Alice In Wonderland Syndrome (AIWS) is an unusual neurological disorder that causes the person with the condition objects to sometimes perceive certain things as much smaller than they are. It's also referred to as "Lilliputian hallucinations," after the tiny folks in Gulliver's Travels. In The Guardian, Rik Hemsley describes life with the spatial distortions of Alice In Wonderland Syndrome. From his essay:
When it first happened, I was a 21-year-old undergraduate. I had been up late the night before writing my dissertation and drinking a lot of coffee, but on that particular morning I was stone cold sober and hangover-free. I stood up, reached down to pick up the TV remote control from the floor and felt my foot sink into the ground. Glancing down, I saw that my leg was plunging into the carpet. It was a disturbing sensation, but it lasted only a few seconds, so I put it down to over-tiredness and forgot all about it.
It wasn't long, however, before I started experiencing more extreme spatial distortions. Floors either curved or dipped, and when I tried walking on them, it felt as though I was staggering on sponges. When I lay in bed and looked at my hands, my fingers stretched off half a mile into the distance.
JÃ¼rgen Stumpf's Berlin wine-bars in the gentrifying neighborhoods of Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte run on the honor system: show up, drink wine, and pay what you think you owe on the way out the door.
Each of Mr. Stumpfâ€™s three honor-system wine bars (a fourth, down some stairs on Kollwitzstrasse, is temporarily closed while it deals with licensing issues) carries a different assortment of red and white wines. Their owner hails from the north Bavarian region of Franconia, and more than half the wines are produced in Germany. Before you turn up your nose, German wines have been impressive of late, and the food is also good. The fare is mostly variations on German cuisine made with organic ingredients. Food prices, too, are on the honor system. Diners typically pay around 10 to 15 euros for an entree, salad and a few glasses of wine.