Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lecture: How a Microwave Works

Bill Hammack, the Engineering Guy, explains how the microwave vacuum tube, called a magnetron, generates radio frequencies using tungsten and thorium that cause the water in food to rotate back and forth. Then he demonstrates the principles involved using poorly melted cheese. Fans of The Way Things Work will definitely appreciate the detailed explanation.

Inspiration: The Future is Ours

"The future excites me so much, that is why I made this video. We need to be inspired by the immense possibilities of the future and work extremely hard to achieve them. We can do it, we just have to commit."

Tech: Rock/Paper/Scissors Robot

From the Ishikawa Oku Laboratory at The University of Tokyo:
In this research we develop a janken (rock-paper-scissors) robot with 100% winning rate as one example of human-machine cooperation systems. Human being plays one of rock, paper and scissors at the timing of one, two, three. According to the timing, the robot hand plays one of three kinds so as to beat the human being.
Recognition of human hand can be performed at 1ms with a high-speed vision, and the position and the shape of the human hand are recognized. The wrist joint angle of the robot hand is controlled based on the position of the human hand. The vision recognizes one of rock, paper and scissors based on the shape of the human hand. After that, the robot hand plays one of rock, paper and scissors so as to beat the human being in 1ms.
Source: Ishikawa Oku Laboratory

Tech: Robotic Hand Can Pick Up, Throw Anything

The Cornell Creative Machines Lab has invented a low-cost, morphing robot “hand” that can pick up, drop, or throw any object, using just a balloon, coffee grounds, and a vacuum. The concept is a landmark break-through for romanticists.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Gadgets: Virtual Reality Surface


"What science offers for explaining the feelings we experience when believing in God or falling in love is complementary, not conflicting; additive, not detractive. I find it deeply interesting to know that when I fall in love with someone my initial lustful feelings are enhanced by dopamine, a neurohormone produced by the hypothalamus that triggers the release of testosterone, the hormone that drives sexual desire, and that my deeper feelings of attachment are reinforced by oxytocin, a hormone synthesized in the hypothalamus and secreted into the blood by the pituitary. Further, it is instructive to know that such hormone-induced neural pathways are exclusive to monogamous pair-bonded species as an evolutionary adaptation for the long-term care of helpless infants. We fall in love because our children need us! Does this in any way lessen the qualitative experience of falling in love and doting on one’s children? Of course not, any more than unweaving a rainbow into its constituent parts reduces the aesthetic appreciation of the rainbow."
- The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies — How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths by Michael Shermer, 2011.

Snippet: We Need to Learn to Become Digital Citizens

We Need to Learn to Become Digital Citizens:
It's not about the technology, it's about us.

That’s the obvious yet elusive truth that has been elbowing its way into the popular consciousness since 2010: there is no digital “world,” no “first nation in cyberspace” lurking behind our computer screens. Instead, what we see and do online is a part of what we do, period. The Internet is neither a magical kingdom nor a pirate nation of free speech and perfect artistic self-expression circling the earth beyond the reach of national laws. Nor is it an alien intrusion flooding a fragile human reality with orcs, kinky sex, and email scams from Nigerian bankers. The Internet is us. Once we accept this, it follows that we have a lot of work to do.
Via: The Daily Beast

Monday, June 25, 2012

OpEd: Is the Web Browser Replacing the Art Gallery?

For the past 200 years, the gallery has been the home of new and cutting-edge art, a place where the art community can come together and share new ideas. But in this episode, we ask: is the web browser replacing the gallery as the best place to view amazing, cutting-edge art?!? In the era of the internet, you can view remarkable art from the comfort of your laptop. Accessible to virtually everyone, web art does away with the physical limitations of the gallery and makes impossibly cool art a part of our daily lives!

Net: Google Sets Out to Save Languages

Did you know that a lot of languages die every day? That may not be one of the things you consider on a regular basis, but the fact is that languages stand for more than what people speak. They are part of people’s cultures, and the death of a language may also mean the death of a culture.

Google, the Internet giant that you either hate or love, seems to see the importance of languages – all 7,000 that are spoken worldwide today. Via its philanthropic branch,, the company is collaborating with other organizations such as the First Peoples’ Cultural Council and the Institute for Language Information and Technology (Eastern Michigan University). The goal? To help preserve languages.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Business: Surface vs iPad Announcement

Source: ReadWriteWeb

On Monday, Microsoft held a secret press event in Los Angeles where it announced a new family of tablets under the Surface moniker. Along with Surface, the event revealed a branding shift for Microsoft, one that values the unity of hardware and software, and the idolization of aesthetics. Something about it felt familiar...

Video Distraction: Gates vs Jobs Rap Battle

Epic Rap Battles of History: Steve Jobs vs Bill Gates

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tech Links: June 20, 2012

Illustration for Andrew Keen’s article “Society isn’t a startup and sharing’s not caring” in Wired Magazine.

"Society isn’t a startup and sharing’s not caring" by Andrew Keen in Wired Magazine.


Pretty Eight Machine - an 8-Bit rendition of the Nine Inch Nails album.


Microsoft today announced it's first ever hardware products running a mainstream version of Windows, and the first designed for Windows 8: The Microsoft Surface, in ARM and Intel flaovours. Hands on. Video highlighting the stand and covers.

Newton, Reconsidered: There was certainly some Newton in the Pilot. And there’s an awful lot of Pilot in the iPhone 4S, the iPad and every Android device–starting wtth the home screen’s grid of icons and the way apps run in full-screen mode. Had Apple followed Palm’s path–smaller, simpler, cheaper–it might have made all the difference.


The Curious Case of Internet Privacy: Free services in exchange for personal information. That's the "privacy bargain" we all strike on the Web. It could be the worst deal ever.

Government requests to censor content ‘alarming,’ Google says Google has received more than 1,000 requests from authorities to take down content from its search results or YouTube video in the last six months of 2011. In its twice-yearly Transparency Report, the world’s largest web search engine said the requests were aimed at having some 12,000 items overall removed, about a quarter more than during the first half of last year.

Infographic: How Social Media Is Making Us Awkward

Online articles often change after publication, except there is no history tab and sometimes those revisions are controversial, for example this Politico story on General Stanley McChrystal. Enter NewsDiff: Tracking Online News Articles Over Time. It allows you to compare evolving versions of online news articles after they are published, starting with The New York Times and CNN. Here are some example diffs - see anything controversial? Last year, Times executive editor Jill Abramson called the idea "unrealistic" in response to an OpEd calling for diffs.


Breaking records at 16.32 petaflops, Blue Gene/Q is the world's new fastest supercomputer. Code named Sequoia pdf, Blue Gene/Q pdf is built around a derivative of the IBM PowerPC A2 processor. A 45nm, 16 core, 64 bit system on a chip, the PowerPC A2 pdf is highly parallel and highly energy efficient, enabling Sequoia to achieve 2.097 Linpack GF/watt.

Reading & Discussion

How Tech Is Turning Us All Into Neurotics: I’m never not looking sideways at what I’m doing, never not pulled to look at something else, never not reacting to whatever I’ve paused on.

How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost the Internet: It was a stunning failure in vision, and more or less the same thing happened at Flickr. All Yahoo cared about was the database its users had built and tagged. It didn't care about the community that had created it or (more importantly) continuing to grow that community by introducing new features.

Is Technology Fostering a Race to the Bottom?


TorChat is an instant messaging protocol based upon Tor hidden services, making it perhaps the only instant messaging protocol with any substantive resistance to traffic analysis. jTorChat is a portable stand alone client written in Java.


Falsehoods programmers believe about names and time shows how difficult it can be to represent basic concepts in code.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Video Distraction: Seeing the Digital Future

AT&T Archives: Seeing the Digital Future (1961) by ATTTechChannel

Documentary: Playing God

"Playing God"
A BBC Documentary About Genetic Engineering

With great power comes great responsibility. Join Adam Rutherford in this full-hour exploration of the progress and perils of our ability to cut and splice the very fabric of life on command.

“Life itself has become a programmable machine.”

Daily Links: June 19, 2012

Scratch-Off Minesweeper Postcards
From the “So Stupid It’s Brilliant” Department of “Why Didnt I Think of This Myself” Mart. Available for purchase at connectdesign. I’m a little worried about Windows timekillers invading the flesh world, but if someone finds a way to bring over the bouncing cards from a victorious game of Solitaire, I might mouth-kiss them.
5 Pillars of the Abandoned World is a tour through lost landscapes and shrugged off citadels. From the Gothic, Disney villainness ominousness of Miranda Castle to the distant splendor (photo by Cédric Mayence) of the abandoned Luxembourg Stock Exchange. Don't feel left out, North Americans: the US has plenty of holy, holey structures to sweep you off your feet. Fan favorite for urbane decrepitude, Detroit has lots to see. The St. Agnes Catholic Church is the place to be for the religiously inclined ramshackle rambler. Need a place to put up your feet? The Book-Cadillac offers a cozy spot to spread out your tour guide and relax. When you're ready to move on, just head over to Michigan Central Station and hop on the last train to forever. The world's an awfully big stage. There's a lot to take in, but don't worry about a thing. Just enjoy the show. There's no hurry; what's already gone isn't going anywhere.

10 bets that you will always win is a video collection of clever tricks (& science) from Richard Wiseman's Quirkology YouTube channel; see also top 10 quirky science tricks for parties, 10 more science stunts for parties, another 10 quirky science stunts, and 5 amazing mind tricks. Wiseman is a psychologist, magician, and author who created LaughLab: the scientific search for the world's funniest joke; the final report & top jokes are available here and over 1000 LaughLab jokes here.

Connect yourself to Kevin Bacon through film and you earn a Bacon Number, connect yourself to mathematician Paul Erdos through published papers and you earn an Erdos Number, connect yourself to Black Sabbath through recorded, published music and you earn a Sabbath Number. Want to know which 3 people have an Erdos-Bacon-Sabbath Number?

Raising the Dead:'At the bottom of the biggest underwater cave in the world, diving deeper than almost anyone had ever gone, Dave Shaw found the body of a young man who had disappeared ten years earlier. What happened after Shaw promised to go back is nearly unbelievable—unless you believe in ghosts.'


"I always tell people that MIT is the closest thing to being Hogwarts — Harry Potter’s wizarding school — in real life.

The science and innovation that occurs here looks no different than pure magic to most of the world. The faculty here are the real-world McGonagalls — that’s you President Hockfield — and Dumbledores. There are secret tunnels and passages with strange wonders and creatures around every corner — some of whom may just finish their thesis this decade. The names of history’s great wizards surround us here in Killian Court — from Aristotle to Galileo, Newton to Darwin. They remind us that we have inherited an ancient art. One that, despite being vilified or suppressed by forces of ignorance throughout history, is the prime cause of human progress and well-being.

Also like Hogwarts, MIT brings young people from around the country and world who are a little bit off-the-charts in their potential for this “magic.” Some come from environments and communities that celebrated their gifts. Others had to actively hide their abilities and passions for fear of being ostracized and ridiculed. Students come to MIT from every religion, every ethnicity. Some from educated, affluent families, others from ones that live at or near poverty. But they — you, we — shared a common passion. Something that made us feel a little different. We sensed that MIT might be a place where there were others like us. Where we could challenge ourselves and develop our craft."
- Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, in his MIT Commencement Address

Monday, June 18, 2012

Video Distraction: Cracking An Egg Open 20 Meters Underwater

The Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences presents “The Egg”, a video short from the 2011 BIOS Explorer program’s “Water Moves” series. Watch what happens when we crack open a raw egg 60 feet (20 meters) below the surface!

Source: BIOSstation

Art: Ask Google Series

In the Fall of last year, Ottawa’s Gallerie SAW Gallery curated Emilio Chapela’s Ask Google series. In this series, the 33-year-old Mexican artist uses Google Search as a source for tapping into the collective unconscious of the internet. 

Documentary: The Culture Of Reddit

"The Culture Of Reddit" from PBS's Off Book

Documentary: The Rise Of 8-Bit Art

"The Evolution of 8-Bit Ar"t from PBS's Off Book
Beginning with early Atari and Nintendo video games, the 8-bit aesthetic has been a part of our culture for over 30 years. As it moved through the generations, 8-bit earned its independence from its video game roots. The idea of 8-bit now stands for a refreshing level of simplicity and minimalism, is capable of sonic and visual beauty, and points to the layer of technology that suffuses our modern lives. No longer just nostalgia art, contemporary 8-bit artists and chiptunes musicians have elevated the form to new levels of creativity and cultural reflection.


“In a time when likes, reblogs, and favorites determine what gets seen and what doesn’t, all cultural products, movies, music, writing, and visual art alike, exist in an economy of attention. Instead of critical regard or placement in the right magazines, the most obvious metric of a piece of art’s success is how many eyeballs it attracts and how quickly it gets spread on the internet. This economy of attention can be a great thing in that artists have the hope of reaching a wider audience than ever, but it also comes with certain creative conflicts. Should work be designed to go viral, in the same way that the Old Spice Guy campaign was crafted to be a YouTube sensation? Has a work failed if it fails to go viral.”
How Going Viral Has Changed Art” by Kyle Chayka, June 14, 2012.

Science: Measuring Inequality

West Oakland: median income $26,432  Piedmont: median income $165,903

How Can You Measure Income Inequality? Count The Trees:
Turns out there’s a direct correlation between the number of trees a neighborhood has and its monetary wealth — and we can see how this dynamic plays out in space. Environmental journalist Tim De Chant mapped it all out for us on his blog, Per Square Mile, where he worked up a small project called “Income Inequality, As Seen From Space.”

De Chant took satellite images from Google Earth that compared two neighborhoods from selected cities to show income disparities.

Source: ColorLines


Research at Stanford may lead to computers that understand humans:
After decades of trial and error, artificial intelligence applications that aim to understand human language are slowly starting to lose some of their brittleness. Now, a simple mathematical model developed by two psychologists at Stanford University could lead to further improvements, helping transform computers that display the mere veneer of intelligence into machines that truly understand what we are saying. 
Via: Gizmag

Lecture: 18 Things You Should Know About Genetics

18 Things You Should Know About Genetics

18 Things You Should Know About Genetics is an animated film that presents fundamental background information about genetics, as well as offering some quirky but interesting facts about DNA, genes and genetics. It was created to be an upbeat, fun educational short film to initiate and draw interest to this sometimes daunting and seemingly complex subject matter.

Source: Genomicseducation

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tech Links: June 18, 2012


How the Business of Streaming Music Will Change Culture…For the Better

How Garmin Failed to See the iPhone Threat


15 Google Maps with Stunning 45-Degree Views


Could Cops Use Google To Prevent Murder? Murderers often turn to the Web for tips on killing. Could search data help the police stop those crimes before they happen?

Forget selling ad space. Facebook should be selling credit, argues The Daily Beast's Steven Weiss.

Here's a list of new top-level domains that will soon compete with .com and other TLDs

Reading & Discussion

Does HTTP need a status code for censorship? Perhaps

The Feynman Files. For the first time, FBI records for Dr Richard Feynman have been released to the public. They document the Bureau's apparent obsession in the 1950's with outing him as a communist sympathizer, and include notations from several background checks as well as interviews with his colleagues, friends and acquaintances.


Why We Don’t Believe In Science


The Graphics Interchange Format is 25 years old. Originally released by CompuServe to replace RLE - a file format which was limited to black and white only, the GIF (which you're probably pronouncing incorrectly) evolved over the next 25 years - first gaining color, then better color, then the ability to repeat itself, and finally an adoring audience willing to take GIFs to the next level.


The App of Life: Technologies are transforming city life in countless ways: everything from finding a date to finding a bus in an instant. "Thanks largely to smartphones, this is probably the best time ever to live in a packed city... Steve Jobs was a lifelong suburbanite, but it turns out he perfected the city."

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is spending about $1.1 million to develop a way to physiologically measure how engaged students are by their teachers’ lessons. This involves “galvanic skin response” bracelets that kids would wear so their engagement levels could be measured.

BitCoin appears to be gaining a measure of stability, at least temporarily, through anger at banks, paypal, visa, etc., the activities of currency traders, and increased activity, as well as the promise of multi-signature transactions. BitCoin has suffered lots of setbacks in the past months due to non-serious platform providers and their shocking lack of security. As a digital asset that's anonymous and therefore extremly difficult to trace, BitCoin is a criminal's wet dream and Bitcoin fraud is already a problem. There are already root kits custom made to steal BitCoin wallets (which are basically .dat files on your computer).

Infograph: The Science of Star Trek
Tiny satellites will use Kinect to dock with one another

Welcome to the Hybrid Age: We are on the verge of living in a human-technology civilization.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tech: Avatar Mirrors users Facial Expressions

A Keio University group, led by Associate Professor Yasue Mitsukura, has developed a method for measuring which way a person is facing and how their expression changes. This system achieves high speed and high precision, using an ordinary PC and a USB camera.

“We think this system could be used by CG animation hobbyists, in Web dialog systems that show a character instead of the person’s face, and for making characters move in real time at events. Because the system uses just one PC and one camera, it can be applied in many situations very easily.”
Source: DigInfo TV

Video Distraction: Boreus Hymalis

“Boreus Hymalis (Boris)” by Oakland-based artist Justin Gray is a 3000 pound tracked robot that belches fireballs and can demolish objects with its trench digging arm (video). It is based on a mid 1970′s trench digging machine. The robot was built in 2010 for the Danish festival Smukfest.

Gadgets: PVAC

The Air Force asked, "How can a team of soldiers scale a high wall without the use of a grappling hook?" In response, Utah State created the Personal Vacuum Assisted Climber. The University has received $100,000 from the Air Force to continue development.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Space: Mars One

Mars One is an ambitious mission to place a human settlement on Mars by the year 2023 (video). The mission’s Dutch organizers Bas Lansdorp and Arno Wielders plan to privately fund the project through “the biggest media event in history.”
Mars One plans to establish the first human settlement on Mars by April 2023. The first crew of four astronauts emigrate to their new planet from Earth, a journey that takes seven months. A new team will join the settlement every two years. By 2033 there will be over twenty people living, working and flourishing on Mars, their new home.

Daily Links: June 11, 2012

Source: Buzzfeed

News: Amelia Earhart's remains may have been found  ...seventy years ago, then were promptly lost.

10 Ways A Tampon Can Save Your Life, incase you ever find yourself stranded in the middle of the Yukon with nothing but a pack of Tampax.

35 Lifechanging Ways To Use Everyday Objects - such as using a banana to get the scratches out of a CD or DVD, the very popular "make a hair bun with a sock" trick, and the ever-useful how to open a wine bottle without a corkscrew. "These handy little things are all things you probably own already. I know this is a topic usually reserved for moms on Pinterest..." It's true, the denizens of Pinterest are an excellent source of useful tips: how to peel a potato in 10 seconds, how to get rid of a sunburn, making emergency ingredient substitutions when you're baking, or 20 new ways to use magic erasers; why not iron your kitchen floor to get out ground-in dirt? ... A Big List of Sites That Teach You How To Do Stuff.

How many hours per week does a person have to work in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment at minimum wage? Following a report (PDF) by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a rather striking infographic has been making the rounds (NYT) on the web. The bottom line: nowhere in the USA is it possible to afford a two-bedroom apartment on forty hours per week of minimum wage work.

Why There's No Such Thing As A Sold Out Concert (Even For Justin Bieber)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tech Links: June 7, 2012


11 buses full of strangers have 72 hours to build and launch startups on the road to a meeting with investors at SXSW. StartupBus is a tech industry boot camp on wheels.


Wired Magazine has rereleased their inaugural issue for free in their iPad application.


Freaks, Geeks and Microsoft: How Kinect Spawned a Commercial Ecosystem

The Gas Station of the Future Just Opened

Innovations that will Change your Tomorrow

While reading an e-book copy of War and Peace on his Nook, North Carolina blogger Philip noticed a minor glitch in the text: "It was as if a light had been Nookd in a carved and painted lantern." He ignored it and moved on, but then encountered a similar error shortly thereafter. As it turned out, the word "kindle" had been systematically replaced by "Nook" throughout the whole book.


ITU Power-grab, or is something else brewing behind the scenes? C-SPAN Video coverage of fascinating proposal to give the United Nations more control over the Internet. The proposal, backed by China, Russia, Brazil and India, is being examined in depth. And some folks aren't liking what they see...

The Internet Society wants to remind you that THE FUTURE IS FOREVER. On or by June 6th, some major Internet sites and services will have permanently enabled their services over IPv6, including Google, YouTube, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft Bing, Netflix, and many others, thus helping complete a changeover started as far back as 1998.

Reading & Discussion

The NYT published an article this week covering a new "digital divide" where poor children are spending more time "wasting time" online. The article states that low income children are more likely to waste time online then their peers who have college educated parents. "The new divide is such a cause of concern for the Federal Communications Commission that it is considering a proposal to spend $200 million to create a digital literacy corps. This group of hundreds, even thousands, of trainers would fan out to schools and libraries to teach productive uses of computers for parents, students and job seekers."

The US has lost a quarter of its high-tech jobs since 2000, the number declining by 687,000. A veteran headhunter opines on the causes: The technical jobs in Silicon Valley are hard to fill with Americans...I get email every day from new grads, asking for help finding jobs, but honestly, most are Indian or Chinese, not many Americans. He cites a NYT article which claims that the reason iPhone manufacturing doesn't happen in the US is that Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that “Made in the U.S.A.” is no longer a viable option for most Apple products.

You may remember the sounds your old dial-up modem used to make, but do you know why it was making those sounds and what was happening during each part? The Atlantic explains the Mechanics and Meaning of That Ol' Dial-Up Modem Sound.


How Studying Ant Behavior Can Make Social Networks Better


25 years of HyperCard—the missing link to the Web

"If you're clever and sophisticated, you may enjoy my new YouTube series, Computers for Cynics." Ted Nelson talks about The Myth of Technology, The Nightmare of Files and Directories, how It All Went Wrong at Xerox PARC, The Database Mess, The Dance of Apple and Microsoft, Hyperhistory, The Real Story of the World Wide Web, and CLOSURE: Pay Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Video Distraction: Earthereal

Earthereal by Adonis Pulatus
This short film created by Adonis Pulatus features the photos shot by the Expedition 30 crew from he International Space Station, which capture nearly every square mile of the globe. It isn't the result of video footage, though. Pulatus downloaded the high-resolution image sets released by the Johnson Space Center and compiled them using time-lapse techniques!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Snippet: Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow

"We tend to rewrite the histories of technological innovation, making myths about a guy who had a great idea that changed the world. In reality, though, innovation isn’t the goal; it’s everything that gets you there. It’s bad financial decisions and blueprints for machines that weren’t built until decades later. It’s the important leaps forward that synthesize lots of ideas, and it’s the belly-up failures that teach us what not to do.

When we ignore how innovation actually works, we make it hard to see what’s happening right in front of us today. If you don’t know that the incandescent light was a failure before it was a success, it’s easy to write off some modern energy innovations — like solar panels — because they haven’t hit the big time fast enough.

Worse, the fairy-tale view of history implies that innovation has an end. It doesn’t. What we want and what we need keeps changing. The incandescent light was a 19th-century failure and a 20th- century success. Now it’s a failure again, edged out by new technologies, like LEDs, that were, themselves, failures for many years.

That’s what this issue is about: all the little failures, trivialities and not-quite-solved mysteries that make the successes possible. This is what innovation looks like. It’s messy, and it’s awesome."

— "32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow" by Maggie Koerth-Baker June 1, 2012.
Published in The New York Times

Tech: Video Tech for Superhuman Sight

MIT's New Video Technology Could Give You Superhuman Sight:
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created "Eulerian Video Magnification" software, which amplifies subtle movements through video technology to reveal "hidden information" not visible by the naked eye, such as blood flowing through a face, or the human pulse. In other words, as noted in the video above, we might one day be able to take someone's vital signs purely by watching them via a video.
Source: The Huffington Post

Net: The Culture of Reddit

Since its creation in 2005, Reddit has grown into one of the most influential communities on the internet. More than just a content aggregator, it generates information and new content, and has given birth to intriguing collaborative projects that reflect a particular group character and value system. The Reddit community has become so active that it has had an impact on recent political events like SOPA/CISPA. And like any real-world community, it also has its share of internal social issues, forcing it to grapple with its commitment to free speech and the lawlessness of the internet.

Interview: Stephen Colbert Interviews Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses science, society, and the universe with Stephen Colbert (who is out of character) at the Kimberley Academy in Montclair, New Jersey. Jump to 6:15 for the start of the interview.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Lecture: Greatest Cosmology Sermon Ever

When Carl Sagan first spoke of the cosmos, he helped people wrap their brains around the idea through digestible facts, like “the nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars.” But it’s thought-provoking insights like “We are made of star stuff” that continue to create curiosity in this field.

In a time when people have an insatiable thirst for knowledge, Neil deGrasse Tyson is another profound storyteller who can spark imaginations.  As he tells the story of his calling to study the universe, you can’t help but feel something. Some would call it spiritual, others would call it religious and some would point to a connection with the universe. Whichever it maybe is for each person to determine. But what I can say is that this is quite possibly “The Greatest Science Sermon” ever.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Daily Links: June 1, 2012

Here's a shot of the extensive home gaming setup of Youtube user 16bitghost. As you can see, he has pretty much every console ever made and custom cabinetry to house it all.  It was posted to Reddit by Samsara_tmh. Take a video tour on his Youtube channel. It's a pretty awe-inspiring sight.

Build a Hovercraft With Your Kids — When Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage built hovercrafts for Mythbusters, he realized that these floating-on-air vehicles were easy to make, not too expensive, and fun. So he built one with his kids. More diy hovercraft fun.

Confessions of a Genius Art Forger — In one of Germany's greatest art scandals, former hippie and talented artist Wolfgang Beltracchi forged dozens of paintings over a period of 35 years, earning millions and fooling top collectors and museums. In a SPIEGEL interview, he reveals how he did it and why he eventually got caught. Art Forger All Smiles After Guilty Plea Seals DealRingleader Reveals He Faked Many More Works

Dominic Wilcox watch sculptures combine vintage timepieces with miniature figures to create unique animated scenes.

The Green Bar is a beautifully-craft steampunk-style wet bar.

“Skyrim Gets Played”, a Skyrim gangster rap song witten and directed by RAWN. It’s available for purchase on iTunes.

Tech Links: June 1, 2012


How Amazon is changing the rules for books and movies

How Tim Cook is changing Apple

Motorola Will Be Google’s Most Interesting Project Yet

Why Apple needs to settle its e-book suits


In the age of the internet and negative reviews, you need to be able to turn that one customer’s bad experience into a PR boost.

Life in Life: Using something called an OTCA metapixel (Outer Totalistic Cellular Automata Meta-Pixel), which is a pattern in Conway’s Game of Life, someone has implemented the Game of Life inside of another Game of Life.

The Most Magical Event in Twitter History Just Happened

The Romney Campaign released an app so you can illustrate the phrase "A Better Amercia. I'm with Mitt." People are going with it, and you can see the results at the blog Amercia is With Mitt!


3D printing can now make replacement jaws, thousands of user-designed widgets, electromechanical computers - but also ATM skimmer fronts, handcuff keys and gun parts. But can you own the shape of a thing?

As they become more readily available to consumers, LEDs will undoubtedly replace CFLs as the primary light source for residential and commercial, inside and out, due to their dramatic efficiency gains. In an unexpected turn of events, however, MIT researchers have developed an LED with 230 percent efficiency. Impossible, you say? Supposedly , the Law of Thermodynamics is not violated because the device converts ambient heat into photons.

A Facebook Phone: Ambitious Leap or Fatal Mistake?


46% of Americans Call Facebook A Fad

Google Lifts Veil On Copyright Takedowns: Detailed Data On Who Requests Removals


New York Legislation Would Ban Anonymous Online Speech | Threat Level |

A Scary Precedent: Hackee Allowed To Decide Hacker’s Fate
Senator admits: SOPA “really did pose some risk to the Internet”

U.S. and Israel have been confirmed as the authors behind the Stuxnet virus. The program — codenamed "Olympic Games" — was started under Bush and accelerated under Obama. The virus was never meant to expand beyond the Iranian nuclear facility it targeted.

Reading & Discussion

Pandora's Vox: On Community in Cyberspace:  "when i went into cyberspace i went into it thinking that it was a place like any other place and that it would be a human interaction like any other human interaction. i was wrong when i thought that. it was a terrible mistake."

Resources & Software

Do SLR cameras confuse you? Then try the SLR Camera Simulator.


Apocalypse Soon: Has Civilization Passed the Environmental Point of No Return? Four decades ago, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer model called World3 warned of such a possible course for human civilization in the 21st century. In Limits to Growth, a bitterly disputed 1972 book that explicated these findings, researchers argued that the global industrial system has so much inertia that it cannot readily correct course in response to signals of planetary stress. But unless economic growth skidded to a halt before reaching the edge, they warned, society was headed for overshoot—and a splat that could kill billions.

MIT Scientists Figure Out How to Get Ketchup Out of the Bottle

Minus 40 degrees is the same temperature in both Celsius and Fahrenheit. It is also the temperature where skin freezes, and the point where water is completely frozen (and mercury too). Strangely, it's also the average temperature of the record lows for all 50 United States, though normal in Alaska.

Science off the Sphere is a video series by Don Pettit aboard the ISS showing off the neat things you can do in zero-gravity.


An anti-censorship software package Simurgh, aimed towards aiding dissidents in Iran and Syria, has been circulated with a backdoor that reports keystroke logs back to a server hosted in the U.S. but registered with a Saudi Arabian ISP.

JavaScript at 17 Brendan Eich on the language he initially created in just 10 days in 1995, and on its state now, 17 years later.


Apple's Crystal Prison and the Future of Open Platforms.

How Headphones Changed the World

Smartphones Reignite the OS Wars


Journey into Cryptography is a multipart video introduction to the subject for beginners, created by Brit Cruise and hosted by Khan Academy. There are several interactive tools to help explain some key concepts. Also, a recent lecture entitled "Principles of Security" was given by noted Javascript curmudgeon Douglas Crockford, focusing on security and the web, with a detour into Volapük.

Video Distraction: Outer Space

"Outer Space" by Sander van den Berg

The footage in this video is derived from image sequences from NASA's Cassini and Voyager missions. The song is The Cinematic Orchestra -That Home (Instrumental).

Tech: Volvo’s Self-Driving Road Trains

Volvo’s Self-Driving Road Trains Hit The Streets:
Google’s self-driving cars may be out on the road already, but it will take awhile before public is truly ready to give up all driving control to artificial intelligence. In the interim, Volvo has a solution that lets drivers (sometimes) sleep at the wheel while still improving highway safety—and it just completed the first real-world tests.

Dubbed SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment), the EU-backed project is working on road trains—vehicles equipped with software already found in many Volvo vehicles (including laser sensors, cameras, and radars) that are automatically led along the highway by a lead vehicle, which is commandeered by a professional driver. Regular drivers could one day simply use in-car navigation to find the nearest highway road train, get on the tail end, and let the vehicle platoon take over steering, braking, and acceleration.
Source: FastCo.

Gadgets: Power-Generating Sneakers

The brainchild of Kenyan entrepreneur Anthony Mutua, the new technology was on display earlier this month at the Science and Innovation Week taking place in Nairobi, according to a report in Kenya’s Daily Nation. The technology consists of an ultra-thin chip of crystals that generate electricity when subjected to pressure; placed in the sole of a shoe, it gathers energy when the wearer walks, runs and moves about. A phone can then be charged via a thin extension cable that runs from shoe to pocket, or energy can be stored in the crystals for charging purposes later. Mutua charges KES 3,800 to fit any shoe with one of his chips, and he offers a two-and-a-half-year guarantee.

Mass production of Mutua’s chips will reportedly begin soon thanks to funding from Kenya’s National Council of Science and Technology.

Photo: Ineffable Mysteries