Thursday, July 28, 2011

Daily Links: July 28, 2011

Above: Carbon Sink is a controversial new art installation at the University of Wyoming by British artist Chris Drury. The sculpture, a 36-foot spiral of logs morphing into charred coal, is constructed from trees that have died from skyrocketing beetle infestations across the western United States. Lawmakers in this coal mining state aren’t happy about it, and veiled threats have been made to potentially cut funding to the university. Read more at the Guardian.

Chess Boxing, a hybrid sport which combines boxing with chess in alternating rounds, is growing in popularity. Inspired by fictional depictions of the sport in French comic book artist Enki Bilal's graphic novel, Froid Équateur, Dutch artist Iepe Rubingh brought the concept to life in 2001. Governed by the World Chess Boxing Organisation, whose motto is "Fighting is done in the ring and wars are waged on the board", matches consist of up to eleven alternating rounds of boxing and chess with a one minute break between rounds. A photographic account of the sport. Further reading. Further viewing.

The Encyclopedia of Life is E.O. Wilson's dream become reality. It has been online since February of 2008, aiming to catalog the currently known 1.9 million species on our planet. You can also add text, images, video, comments, and tags. [ Video Introduction]

GE has posted a searchable bird's-eye view of the 6,000 most popular airports in the world.

The Guardian: Online commenting: How the internet created an age of rage

How to Convince People to Let You Cut in Line

Jury nullification, a situation in which jurors acquit in a criminal trial even if the facts favor conviction (often because the jurors disagree with the law), is of ancient provenance in the Anglo-American legal tradition. Courts are ambivalent towards it, regarding it both as quasi-illegal (they'll remove jurors if they catch them during the attempt) and as something that they cannot overturn once it happens. Nullification has furthered many causes, from anti-death-penalty to pro-southern-lynchings. Lawyers can't mention it in court on pain of contempt, but some hope to educate people in other ways.

Offshore drilling/container ship catering crews know some really cool kitchen tricks for cleaning.

An Ohio trial court judge last Friday in State v. Stephens [.pdf] held that there is no First Amendment right to bark at a police dog.

Please now enjoy this ginormous gallery of slow motion videos from a high speed digital camera.

"Putting Weird Things in Coffee" is one man's quest to find new and unusual ingredients to add to coffee instead of the cream-and-sugar staples.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Daily Links: July 26, 2011

16+ Nerdy TV Shows You Can Stream on Netflix

Cyanide, Uranium, and Ammonium Nitrate: When Kids Really Had Fun With Science. I guessed we learned too much, because now you can’t even buy decent cold medicine without drawing suspicion that you’re up to something.

How to Detect Counterfeit Money

Life Before Air Conditioning: How in the world did people deal with the heat of August without air conditioning? Lots of ways, both time-tested and experimental.

Lollipops pacify drunken troublemakers: The city of Victoria in British Columbia is trialling a new technique for dealing with boozed-up partygoers getting lairy in public.

The SWAT team that protects NASA.

To cool you off, read about the 10 Coldest Places on Earth Where People Actually Live.

Zombie proof your doors IF AN invading zombie army is staggering towards your front door, don't worry: a fingerprint-activated door lock could save your bacon. That's because one group of researchers has worked out how a biometric scanner can keep the undead at bay.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Video Distraction: MP3 Experiment

Edited by Keith Haskel / Music by Tyler Walker

For our latest mission, over 3,500 people downloaded an MP3 file and pressed play simultaneously. The event began at sunset in two starting points by the Hudson River. The masses converged on Nelson Rockefeller Park as twilight ended and participated in a series of synchronized activities involving flashlights, camera flashes, glow sticks, and masks. This was the 8th installment in our Mp3 Experiment series.

Enjoy the video above first, and then go behind the scenes with our photos below. We’d like to thank the River to River Festival for hosting the event.

Video Distraction: Photography Rube Goldberg Machine

"This is our Photography-themed Rube Goldberg Machine. We hope you all enjoy the clip! Watch our video explaining some of the process of getting this video done."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Daily Links: July 22, 2011

Photograph taken on the escalator leading to the Earthquake Room
at the Natural History Museum in London, England.

17 Real Life Mysteries

DO Lectures: a smaller, gentler TED, with annual conferences in Wales and the US. Every twenty-minute conference presentation is available as free online video. A sampling: Tim Berners-Lee on how the web just happened. Peter Segger on soil. David Allen on optimizing your brain.  A complete list of presenters. The Do Village blog.

Geeks warn us about geek bullies in this parody of anti-bullying PSAs. Or maybe it’s not a parody after all, since I’ve seen this type of snobbery all over the internet.

Ranking the 5 Dumbest Categories of People on the Internet. You already guessed YouTube commenters, didn’t you?
Ultimate Adventure Bucket List: Here they are. The 20 most extreme, hair-raising, legendary adventures on the planet, daunting even for the world's elite athletes. If you've got the mettle, add these to your lifetime to-do list. Not quite ready? Check out the 20 next-best adventures—and start planning.

The U.S. Debt envisioned in hundred-dollar bills

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Science: Earth Guide for Aliens

Back in 1977, geek heroes Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan headed up the team that created the golden record — gold-plated copper disc that serves as a sort of time capsule for Earth, in the event that some alien species finds and explores the Voyager probe as it wanders out past Pluto’s orbit and into the 40,000-year journey to the nearest planetary system.

NPR rounded up this video a while back that features some of the sounds and images on the Golden Record.

As Sagan noted, “The spacecraft will be encountered and the record played only if there are advanced spacefaring civilizations in interstellar space. But the launching of this bottle into the cosmic ocean says something very hopeful about life on this planet.”

Daily Links: July 21, 2011

Above: I was walking past my local Tesco's store yesterday when I noticed this peculiar security sign; my wife said, "Huh, their security must be supplied by the same people who design Portal levels." [Via]

Get Rich Slowly is a methodical guide to basic financial skills, banking, credit, investing, and insurance, with links to other comprehensive guides to personal money management.

The History of the Pizza Box 

John Mayer visits Berklee to speak to students and offer insight on learning music theory, making music, listening to music, and the temptation to publish yourself.

Last Chance to See a Space Shuttle in Night Sky … Ever

National Geographic offers an infographic on income distribution across the globe.

Proust is a way for you and your family to share and preserve your stories, one question at a time. The site takes its name from the Proust Questionnaire. Stories can be viewed in several different ways and be set as private or public

Where Paychecks Go the Furthest: 20 Best and Worst Cities It's not the salary you make that counts, but how much it buys you - which is why, for some, living in Des Moines would beat living in New York City. Check out the best and worst cities for stretching the value of your paycheck.

Your Kung Foo is strong, grasshopper: Scientist: Tae Bo workout sent skyscraper shaking

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Video Distraction: Bullet Time Lightning

70-megapixel bullet time lightning captured with 10 cameras and 1 Tesla coil
Via: Coudal

Daily Links: July 19, 2011

Steampunk Computer Mod by Steve La Riccia

15th Annual Webby Awards You could easily spend hours here, exploring the sites that won the Webby award or nominations, as well as the People's Choice award. There's something here for every interest, and odds are, there are many you hadn't known about (I didn't, and I spend a LOT of time hunting for the good stuff).

Dawn spacecraft now orbits asteroid Vesta - After almost 4 years of space travel, the Dawn spacecraft successfully entered orbit around Vesta, an Arizona sized rock. Dawn tweets, takes pictures, and there is a Vesta Fiesta party to celebrate. After hanging out at Vesta for a year, Dawn will head off to visit the Ceres asteroid next, a three year trip. Amazing achievement of engineering, innovation and accuracy.

Did you ever find a picture on the internet and thought, "Where is this?" We can help you find this place!

In the U.K., sometimes the bookstore comes to you on a barge. The Book Barge: a floating bookshop on a canal boat (57' Cruiser Stern) in Lichfield, Staffordshire.

Job searchers have begun outsourcing the process of applying for jobs to companies in India. The results have been mixed.

Neil deGrasse Tyson speaks on the future of NASA. No other part of government has the inspirational bang for the buck that the space agency has, but we are currently squandering it.

Ocean Voyager shark cam: As a tie-in with the upcoming Shark Week, Georgia Aquarium has set up a live webcam of the world's largest shark tank through August 7.

A tenured professor explains "Why I will never pursue cheating again"

The World's 18 Strangest Pools

Monday, July 18, 2011

Video Distraction: Capture the Flag

Daily Links: July 18, 2011

Above: More from the Ames Research Center's mid-1970s gathering of artists and academics, tasked with designing space colonies able to accomodate 10,000 people.

Everybody likes earning badges. It's what built scouting and what drives the Khan Academy. Now Google has introduced "Google News Badges". Is this a benevolent attempt to get more people to be aware of what's going on in the world, or is something deeper and/or darker going on? It's an unusual move, whatever the reason.

'Harry Potter' owl born at Seattle Zoo Just in time for the release of the final installment of the Harry Potter movies, a snowy owl has been born at the Seattle Zoo — the same species that accompanies Harry Potter throughout his adventures. How does the species stack up to its fictional counterpart? Turns out, pretty darn well.
How Much Does it Cost to go to Hogwarts?

How to Restart Windows Without Restarting the Computer

Juan of the Dead is a Cuban zombie horror/comedy film. It’s gory and bloody, and I can’t wait to see the whole thing!

The winners of the very first Google Science Fair were announced this week. These young ladies may one day save your life with their research, but right now they are looking forward to some awesome internships.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Daily Links: July 15, 2011

8 Incredible Ghost Towns to Visit in Europe

10 Fascinating Facts About Phone Numbers

Bacon sandwich really does cure a hangover

Got some free time? Looking for something mildly amusing? Predator and Prey Arrows. Click and move the mouse. Enjoy!

Tired of tower defense games? Tired of always playing the good guy? Try playing Villainous, a tower conquest flash game.

Why do people believe something even after it's been proven false? A new study confirms that "the effect of misinformation on memory and reasoning cannot be completely eliminated even after it's been corrected." 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lecture: Teller Speaks

The usually silent half of Penn & Teller speaks at a conference and shows how magicians use psychological principles to create magic.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Daily Links: July 12, 2011

Above: This 360-degree virtual tour of the Space Shuttle Discovery flight deck offers an excellent chance to gawk at history, before they box it up and stick it in a museum.

Hidden Tunnels, Bugs, and Bigamy: A Strange and True D.C. Story. The solution to the mystery of the tunnels is both mundane and truly weird at the same time.

Languages of the World (Wide Web) — Google researchers graph cross-language links on the web, and "see a surprisingly clear map of Europe and Asia" 

The Late Movies pays a tribute to the Space Shuttles.

Researchers taught Capuchin monkeys to use money as an exchange medium, then gambling, theft, and prostitution soon followed.

The participants in the Stanford Prison Experiment are revisited 40 years after their experience.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Video Distraction: Greatest Movie Bank Robbery Ever

Cinema’s more memorable bank heists come together to form the Greatest Movie Bank Robbery Ever in the latest Screen Junkies Supercut.

Daily Links: July 11, 2011

AutoWed Wedding Machine is a novelty wedding machine offering a quick hitch, a couple of rings and a personalised certificate for just £1/$1.

Evolution of the Map of Africa

How to tie anything to your car. You know, just in case looting breaks out.

The Physics of Cheating in Baseball. Baseball fans know the rules and the scandals, but does a wet ball really travel further?

The US Secret Service has raided the home of an artist who collected images from webcams in a New York Apple store. The tumblr is still up, as is a explanation of the project by the artist at F.A.T.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tech: Terrafugia Transition Flying Car

Terrafugia, the company that developed the transition flying car, has finally received regulatory clearance from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration allowing it to take the road when it hits the market next year. Thanks to the new exemptions, the vehicle can now use a polycarbonate windshield instead of those laminated safety glasses used on regular cars and special tires, allowing it to withstand the stress of landings. If everything goes according to plan, the transition should hit the market in late 2012.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Video Distraction: Fireworks Flashmob

Fireworks Flashmob of the Day: Chicago may have canceled its annual Independence Day fireworks display, but Chicagoans did not.  Here is time-lapse footage of illegal fireworks exploding in the skies above the Windy City over a two minute period starting around 9:30ish on July 4, 2011 in Chicago, near the intersection of Western and Armitage.

Daily Links: July 7, 2011

10 Amazing Geek Bars and Restaurants, beginning with Miracle of Science, in Cambridge

The Connected States of America is a supercool interactive map from the MIT Media Lab and IBM that lets you visualize how regions in the US are connected by cell phone calls and SMS messages. Instead of the familiar states, new patterns emerge, with New Jersey and California split in half, and Pittsburgh the new capital of West Virginia, among other changes. 

Drunk Puppy Buying Banned by West Village Pet Stores

Magician Derren Brown admits his chess game is shit. Nonetheless, he plays nine world-class chess masters, simultaneously, and wins more matches than he loses. But how?

Tibetan singing bowls give up their chaotic secrets.

Will young men ever grow up? 'They're often called lost boys, the many young men' in Canada, 'who keep postponing adulthood.' 'Social scientists are trying to figure out why their numbers keep growing.' 'In the past, marriage and family were markers of adulthood, writes Michael Kimmel in his book Guyland, but in a world where young women put off children for careers, where job security is a thing of the past and their parents' values hold little allure, young men can postpone adulthood almost indefinitely.'

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Daily Links: July 6, 2011

6 Beloved 80s Toys With Bizarrely Horrifying Origin Stories.

11 Fantastic Fourth of July Facts

Dogs Know a Smile When They See It

Free downloads to make use of PC idle time

Google WebFonts - 184+ open-source webfonts from Google.

Numericana explains the origin and meaning of some commonly used symbols:  = ½ * QED ? 4 3 + %

On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets: An Empirical Study. If you are paranoid about government mind-control rays, you’ll be even more so after reading this research

PBS Newshour covers recent advances in medical technology in an 11 minute video.

Some Approaches to the Question of Chewing Gum Litter.

They Might Be Giants is conducting a video contest for the first single from their upcoming 15th studio album. The winner will ultimately be determined by comedian John Hodgman, who previously narrated their concept album/DVD Venue Songs in character as a Deranged Millionaire who challenges the band to write a new song for every venue they visit on tour.

Turns out that numbers make beautiful music. Someone used some simple rules to turn the numbers of Tau into music.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Video Distraction: Fireworks Destruction

Bomb Squad technicians today destroyed approximately 5,000 pounds of confiscated fireworks at the NYPD firing range in the Bronx.

Daily Links: July 5, 2011

The Polish artist Marek Tomasik has a room in a castle made ​​of wood and used computer parts and built the same, nor even a fancy keyboard costume. The installation is called "open You sometimes have to be".

3D display using a kinect

5 Acts of Nature That Rearranged the Face of the Planet.

5 Advanced Technologies Still Catching Up to Invertebrates.

11 Overdramatic Road Warning Signs (Ranked By Overdramaticness). Sometimes you have to be dramatically obvious to get anyone to pay attention at all.

After Earth: Why, Where, How, and When We Might Leave Our Home Planet: Humanity may have millennia to find a new home in the universe–or just a few years

A court-mandated opening of some secret chambers at the Sree Padmanabhaswami temple in Kerala - family temple of the ruling royals of the former Kingdom of Travancore - has led to the discovery of a treasure estimated to be worth billions of dollars

The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable. The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study. More on the Declaration: full transcript and ultra-high-resolution scan, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft, the little-known royal rebuttal, a thorough history of the parchment itself, a peek at the archival process, a reading of the document by the people of NPR and by a group of prominent actors, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation, Slate's Twitter summaries, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Video Distraction: Camera on a Firework

Just in time for the Fourth of July, Jeremiah Warren (of Space Invaders IRL fame) straps a wide-angle camera to a bunch of fireworks and sends the suckers soaring into the sky.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The 13 Most Haunted Places in the World

Ancient Ram Inn, Gloucestershire, England

This quaint little Inn in Gloucestershire plays host to ghost-enthusiasts year-round. The building, which was built on a 12th century pagan burial ground, is the very picture of a haunted house, complete with creaky floorboards, musty smells, chilly rooms, and dimly lit hallways. Completing the picture is the accompanying accounts of paranormal activity - ghostly residents including two demons (a succubus and incubus) and a witch, poltergeists, and orbs – and the knowledge that eight patrons had to be exorcised after their visit. The sinister history of the Inn, which includes murder, child sacrifices, pagan rituals and suicide, thoroughly explains the spirits present between the walls.


Video Distraction: Melvin the Machine

Melvin the Magical Mixed Media Machine (or just Melvin the Machine) is best described as a Rube Goldberg machine with a twist. Besides doing what Rube Goldbergs do best - performing a simple task as inefficiently as possible, often in the form of a chain reaction - Melvin has an identity. Actually, the only purpose of this machine is promoting its own identity.

Daily Links: July 1, 2011

EDWARD is an electric dicycle–a vehicle consisting of two giant side-by-side wheels–designed and built by students at the University of Adelaide. The students developed a remarkably sophisticated stability control system (see their video demo) to tame the dicycle’s less civilized behavior, such as instability when traveling forward and something called “gerbiling.” The tamed dicycle can transport a single passenger at up to 40 km/h. EDWARD is an acronym for Electric Diwheel With Active Rotation Damping. Via: Hack A Day

2 True and 2 False Origins of Tongue Twisters And Nursery Rhymes.

7 July 4th Traditions from Around the Nation. Although it is quite possible to grow up in New England and never eat salmon for the holiday.

11 Overdramatic Road Warning Signs (Ranked By Overdramaticness). Sometimes you have to be dramatically opbvious to get anyone to pay attention at all.

66 Beautiful Small Cities & Towns In Europe Ever considered traveling through Europe but skipping the tourist traps?  If you're really looking for some breath-taking European vistas, check out this list of charming towns & villages across Europe

Living on the cheap?  This Ramen Noodle ratings site might come in handy. Via

The Ray Harryhausen Creature List. The legendary special effects wizard was a master of the stop-motion monster, every one of which you’ll see in this video.