Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Miscellany 24

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Big roundup here of things that have been hanging around (non-political version).

It’s war! The ants are coming for our chocolate. The article is actually much wider-ranging, and quite interesting.

A Faberge egg not seen (and known for what it is) since 1902 was purchased a decade ago at a Midwestern antique fair.

Need a handy reference for musical intervals? This may help.

Planning to record some audio at home? This may help.

How to take excellent notes and be productive with paper. I can always use the help.

This looks like an interesting resource for computer science.

I’ll want to spend some time reminiscing at this site.

Two scary economic charts, billed as documenting the demise of the American Dream.

An interesting list of Google Easter eggs.

I like these thoughts on the Starship Troopers movie. I didn’t much care for it myself; I’ve usually referred to it as “Paul Verhoeven’s rebuttal to Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.”

Google makes an emulator in Chrome for the Amiga 500. I still have two Amiga 2000s in my basement, although I’ve only got one monitor for them, and the hard drive on one needs to be reformatted. It’s too bad there was never a widely-available Ethernet board for them.

Men’s Health says these are the best over-the-counter medications.

The Smithsonian says these vitamins and supplements are worth taking.

Continuing on the subject of health, how old is your heart?

Here are photos of various famous locations. There are two photos of each location: one showing the normally-presented view, and one showing surroundings that aren’t normally seen unless you’re there. I’ve been to the pyramids of Giza, and it’s startling how close development has come to them.

Wanna learn something? Try here.

You can find over 22,000 comics that are out of copyright here. Via.

Man sublets his apartment, comes home to find a plus-sized orgy going on. Then he loses his apartment, because his lease doesn’t allow him to sublet.

Do incorrect and inappropriate use’s of quotes (like that one) bother you? Best stay away from this site, then.

I’ve seen the movie Head, but it was many years ago. There’s a link to the movie in this article.

It looks like there’s some good information in this gardening thread at Ace of Spades HQ.

They’ve found more Dead Sea scrolls.

Interesting art. I’ve seen similar things, but it’s still cool. Now, imagine the following in a Cockney accent: “That’s not a bird, that’s a bird! Via.

Speaking of birds, but not really

And not speaking of birds, but really! Rogue Chihuahuas overrunning a town?

I like this guy’s obituary. He’d have been fun to know.

What if the Winter Olympics had been held on Hoth?

I’m not surprised that this happened in Japan.

In 1731, King Frederick I of Sweden gave a lion to a taxidermist who had never seen one. Some of the comments are hilarious, also. I particularly like the first reply to this one.

Information you can use: 7 Myths About Storing Beer.

More Information you can use: Picking a lock with a hairpin.

Some people believe that this is the best newspaper correction ever. I’m not so certain of that, but I don’t have any other suggestions handy.

As a European, this is how I imagine Americans have breakfast. Via Protein Wisdom. The comments at both locations are good, too.

Looking for back issues of Starlog magazine?

Why do we do some of the things we do at weddings?

An interesting clock presentation.

These are impressive tattoos. Not that I’d ever get one, but …

Some carbon fiber musical instruments. I’ve played a Blackbird tenor ukulele and liked it, and I have a friend who is trying to set himself up producing carbon fiber soprano ukes.

I knew people drank more in the past, but damn! That’s a lot of booze!

How to make a sling from woven paracord. The site is often NSFW, but this post isn’t (unless your company employs extreme hoplophobes).

On the same website: If you ever feel stupid

Remember the warehouse scene at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark? It might not have been too unbelievable.

Figure skaters caught in mid-spin. They look much more graceful and elegant when you don’t catch all the details.

When it goes, it all goes at once.

Giant desert art project in Egypt.

Sarah Hoyt is a local science fiction author. I met her at a party at a mutual friend’s place a couple years ago. This post on her history with SFWA is absolutely hilarious.

There may still be time to apply for this job – it’s got to be hard work. Then again, a lot of people like swords.

Ever seen a ship break apart?

Were you aware that France was still conduction executions by guillotine as recently as 1977? Were you aware that the actor Christopher Lee attended the last one?

I wasn’t able to find an update on his recovery, but the fact that he survived going through a wood chipper is amazing. When I was in the Navy, if you were going to work on anything that could be dangerous if it were turned on during the process, you’d attach a red tag to the power switch. I wonder if they’ll implement a system like that for the wood chipper?

Boy, the Aussies don’t hold back with their PSAs, do they?

I have a friend who photographs most of his restaurant meals. I should send him to this site.

I think that’s about enough for now. I may do another one (with older accumulated links) later.

Miscellany 23

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

My posting has been sporadic for some time, so it’s time to dump the accumulated links.

The Younger Generation

Not all is lost, as shown by this Google science fair winner.

Fun/Funny Stuff

Personally, I don’t think synchronized swimming should be part of the Olympics, but I recognize that some people enjoy watching it. With that in mind, I’d like to present the Russian synchronized swimming team.

I had no idea that lab techs had such fun on the job.

I have a lot of problems with President Obama, but I’m amazed and horrified to learn that he’s covering up jump-gate technology to Mars.

British boy’s comics are not doing well. I used to read a number of them when I was a young boy in England, and for years I kept my copy of the 1962 Eagle Annual, but I think I lost it years ago.

So, this guy in the Netherlands had his FaceBook page hacked by his younger brother. He got revenge.

There’s a song to teach you how to pronounce Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Want to be a financial backer for a horror film? Here’s your chance. There’s even a pun in the title.

Here’s another Kickstarter project (music this time), but I must say that this one seems a little “off” to me.

Some people have interesting jobs.

Sometimes, a product will garner all sorts of interesting reviews. The “Bic Crystal for Her” pen is one such.

These pens, however, need no amusing review comments. Probably safe from borrowing, too.

Max thinks our society is doomed. I don’t disagree, but I do see the need.

I may have to spend some time at the Museum of Unnatural History.

This is a cruel joke.

Science project genius!

Learning Japanese? Mangajin was a good resource.

I’m not into baseball, but this is a fascinating story.

Cats don’t seem reliable enough for the CIA to use them in surveillance. That appears to have been borne out.

There are no dangerous weapons, only dangerous people.

There are, however, ludicrous weapons.

Some logo designers need to be supervised.

Science and Technology

A dynamic periodic table of elements is a fun toy.

How to make an abacus in an Altoids tin.

A Chinese noodle-slicing robot. Fun, useful, and fascinating to watch.

A hoverbike? I’d love one, but I’d have loved it more when I was younger.

How the Navy taught people about computers in 1962.

Graphene is a fascinating material. It appears that molybdenum disulfide is similarly attractive, and is more useful in certain areas.

Wind energy is not a good deal.

Renewable energy in general is not a good deal.

Printing images at 100000 dpi.

MPEG-H is the new compression standard for video.

Two mammoth skeletons have been found on an Iowa farm.

It appears that fathers (or, more specifically, older fathers) contribute significantly to autism and schizophrenia.

Convergence in inheritance.

Science toys you can make with your kids.

Telepresence with iPads.

Celebrities often get science wrong. Someone has decided to do something about it.

Pickled brains.

This is a fascinating graph on technology adoption rates.

I’ve backed a few projects on Kickstarter so far. Not any of the most successful ones, though, although I did consider backing the Pebble watch.

Harvard scientists have encoded a 53000-word book in DNA. Evolutionary literature?

Underwater living is becoming possible.

The fraternal organization of chimpanzees. No evidence of funny hats, though.

I’m a touch typist. I also have (and occasionally use) Dragon Naturally Speaking, which is a speech recognition input method. Soon, we may be able to dispense with that, also.

I’ve long been interested in 3d displays. I still have a pair of Haitex X-Specs tucked away in my garage. I’m concerned about the durability of this one, however.

Could this have been the source of the stories of Atlantis or Noah’s ark?

I’d be interested in seeing this lecture on safes and safecracking.

I’m absolutely amazed by the size of fairy wasps.

I gave serious consideration to placing this discussion of women’s breasts and a general theory of ogling in the “Fun Stuff” section.

I was aware that we shared most of our DNA with chimpanzees. I was not aware that most of the differences are on the Y chromosome.

I used to have a t-shirt that said, “Montserrat: Land of Beautiful Women and Mountain Chicken. I had not known that Mountain Chicken is a breed of frog, though … I thought it was a nickname.

I’m going to have to watch this film.

This is a neat (and heart-warming) use of 3D printing technology.

Something tells me that this guy isn’t impressed with Windows 8.

Matt Ridley isn’t too fearful of a looming apocalypse.

A lost species has been brought back to life.

And, wood pulp is finding new use as a high-tech material.

Politics and Society

Don’t expect much in this section. This is already a long post, and this section could make it much longer. I don’t see the need to do that, particularly since anyone following politics on the internet has probably seen much of this already.

So, about those nonexistent Iraqi WMD

Do you know how much you’re paying in taxes? Some myths and misconceptions about tax rates are addressed here. Meanwhile, taxes are about to go up. The Democrats have no plan, and the White House says that the only plan out there doesn’t balance the budget fast enough for them?

Larger cuts than are currently proposed can’t balance the budget. The necessary cuts would be incredibly massive, such that nobody would propose them, and nobody else would accept them.

Then again, the Senate hasn’t passed a budget since April 29, 2009. The federal budget hasn’t been balanced at all since 1969.

Taxs aren’t the only thing going up; energy prices are, also.

Media bias is evidenced in many ways. In many ways. Many. Ways. Many. Many. (I feel like I should add “Tekel, Upharsin” here, which is probably more apropos than I originally thought.)

I guess this shows who Obama considers important.

What might we expect if Obama is reelected?

What could possibly go wrong with government control of your personal networking equipment?

What could possibly go wrong with the DOJ preferentially hiring dwarves, schizophrenics, and the intellectually disabled? That’s not the only problem with federal hiring/appointments. Not by a long shot.

Interesting discussion on the gender orientation of television shows.

Those “lice-infested, dirty murderers” … like me?

Another failure of zero-tolerance. The kid gets some geek cred for the claim, “my name is a weapon,” though.

What happened after guns were banned in Australia?

Miscellany 22

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

I see by the clock on the clubhouse wall that I haven’t posted in a month. Sorry.

Then again, nobody’s been complaining … about that, anyway.

Be that as it may, I’m going to clean out some tabs and saved links.

Back around 1985, my boss brought in a summer intern and told me to get some use out of him. Four days later, we sent him back to his professor – I’d spent about 10 hours over those four days explaining to him in detail how to write a program that would have taken me somewhere around an hour to write. The problem was that he had only written Pascal programs on VAX hardware, and had no conception of how a program could actually deal with the underlying hardware itself. I was reminded of that when I ran across Real Programmers Don’t Use Pascal. I remember that from when it first appeared – I didn’t get Datamation, but I had coworkers who did. Don’t skip the linked “Story of Mel,” which also is pretty good.

I have a hand-cranked radio, but this is something else: a wind-up AA battery.

This article on medical school acceptance rates by race is pretty horrifying. It reminds me of an article I read some time ago that made the case that affirmative action was reducing the number of minority (specifically, black) attorneys. The mechanism proposed was that blacks would be admitted to law schools that their scores wouldn’t get them into if they were white, which made it harder to keep up with the rest of the student body, so they’d drop out. It is likely they’d have been able to graduate from a less-prestigious (and less difficult) school, so affirmative action had the exact opposite of the purported effect.

This is cool – do-it-yourself eye exams on a smartphone.

This is also cool – electric currents passing through the brain can induce a state more conducive to learning. Be careful if you do it yourself, though. More here.

I wish this had been available when I broke my ankle last year.

Some kids are smart. Ten-year-old Clara Lazen is going to have plenty of geek cred for coming up with a previously-unknown molecule that’s likely to be explosive.

A one-stroke penalty if a bomb goes off during your swing? That seems harsh.

This is one of those articles that’s worth it just for the headline. So is this one.

I’m amazed that someone could call the first score of the Super Bowl correctly.

To solve a problem, you need to define it correctly. Even without committing a category error, it could be that you are solving the wrong problem.

This is another of those computer toys that let you get an idea of the scale of the universe. I wish things like this had been available when I was a child. We had to make do with the movie “Powers of Ten.” Of course, I was in high school when that came out, so it’s still not a childhood memory, per se.

Speaking of films, I’ve seen two of these. I suspect my daughter has seen more of them than I have. If not, she probably will after checking out the list.

Several years ago, my doctor told me to start taking a daily aspirin. I had to give it up a few months later, because I was getting frequent nosebleeds. If only I had known the healing power of bacon! I fear my cats may have caused problems, though.

Slightly related to that, there’s good news about eating fried foods. It doesn’t match up with Satchel Paige’s advice not to eat fried food because “it angrifies the blood,” but I suspect the food he was familiar with was fried in different oils.

Attractions, flotation devices, or airbags. I’m glad her breasts helped, but I consider her misshapen. I remember the news stories when she acquired the infection that caused her to get reduction surgery – she’d had to go to Brazil because doctors in the US wouldn’t expand her breasts any more.

Speaking of breasts, I’ve seen a few protests here and there, but I’ve yet to witness one like this. (NSFW, unless topless women are allowed by your office dress code.)

How to distract your enemy. I particularly enjoy the third panel.

Lots of older periodicals available here.

Speaking of reading, I’m going to be waiting for this e-book app to become available. I just hope that it doesn’t require a new proprietary DRM’d format.

Some nice music here. I listened to several of the young lady’s other videos, and they were nice. A bit too similar for listening to in a block, but they’d be very nice in a shuffle.

If your taste runs to psychedelic music, try this. I have the Nuggets LP in a box in my garage. If I’m remembering correctly, I’ve got the 1976 release, not the earlier one.

Here’s an interesting music game.

Besides seeming a bit tacky, is a Titanic Memorial Cruise a good idea? Some people don’t think so. Having been on one cruise myself (which I quite enjoyed, actually), I’ll admit to some misgivings. It makes me wonder how I ever managed when I was in the Navy.

I do fairly well with English grammar. Many of the things I read would irk me less if their authors took this advice to heart.

I could add more to this post, but I think I’ll finish with this tweet that expresses an awe that I’ve experienced when reading code.

Year-end link dump

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

In Japan, tradition for New Year’s Day is that it’s a fresh start – houses are cleaned, debts are paid, and so on. I’m not going to be anywhere near a fresh start this New Year’s, but I can at least try to clear out some of the links I’ve been accumulating.

This is not any sort of year-in-review, so don’t expect comprehensive links or dots being connected. This is just some of what I’ve accumulated in the last couple of months.

We’ll start with the Christmas/winter-related links while they’re fresh.

The Portal Christmas Tree is pretty cool. It’s appeared on a number of websites recently. The Portal 2 present wasn’t quite so widely noted. This last Portal-related link shows how Santa gets around quickly.

Instead of the Portal tree, which is one tree in two places, the Obama’s have 37 separate Christmas trees.

I’ve never cared for Star Trek ornaments, but I like this.

If you’re concerned that your stocking won’t hold your stuff, you can build one of these.

Do you tell spooky stories at Christmas? Some people do.

Some people like music to go with (inspired by) those spooky stories.

Some people have entirely too much time to play in the snow. Looks like fun. Back around 1977, I made this kind of fancy snow sculpture with my housemates, but I’ve not done it since then. Most winters, there’s seldom enough snow where I am to make an attempt worthwhile.

Art links:

Street Art Utopia has a wonderful retrospective of street art from the past year.

Variations on a theme. Some drawing are likely to be NSFW.

I like the fourth picture, but they’re all good.

Did Vincent Van Gogh have a vision deficiency?

Music links:

The Whitney Music Box. It’s fun to watch, too. Via.

Play Ukulele Hero.

So you’ve heard a song in a movie, and you want to know what it is.

Math and Science links:

A new technique lets you count the animals living in a body of water by monitoring the DNA in a sample of it.

This is amazing! MIT has a new high-speed camera system that can show the advance of light.

The archives of the Royal Society have been put onto the net for free access.

Nature wants to eat you.

This is cool! Watch the video showing how a new spray can keep your clothes and other things clean. I could use this on my windows and shower doors.

Another success for adult stem cells. To the best of my knowledge, all stem cell successes to date have involved adult stem cells, not fetal stem cells.

Do you believe in anthropogenic global warming enough to kill people? I don’t.

On science, pseudo-science, and heresy as it relates to AGW.

Nine equations true geeks should know (or pretend to know).

Technology and Toys links:

One of the Christmas presents I gave this year was a nice watch. Personally, I wear a cheap Casio watch currently, but I’ve been thinking of getting myself a nicer one. Here is one website I’ve checked out. You can find some nicer watches (definitely out of my price range) here, including this one that is wayout of my price range. It is beautiful, though. There is some attraction in an Android watch, though.

I had a Digi-Comp1 when I was younger. All that I have left is the manual. I may have to play with this emulator some time, but it was a pretty rudimentary computer, so perhaps not. Via Boing Boing.

I came so close to building one of these for a senior project in EE. I wish I had.

I have fond memories of Rogue, but they’re not too specific, because it’s been a long time since I’ve played. I wonder how close this is.

I haven’t tried this game-development system yet, but it looks interesting.

There’s not only an app for that, there’s now a brick-and-mortar app store.

It can’t tell you what changes were made, but there’s a new computer program that can tell you what parts of an image have been changed.

I remember reading this article (the Popular Science one) when it came out. I thought it would be a neat thing, and wanted to try making an aquarium pump. Unfortunately, I was a poor pre-teen at the time, and had no way to obtain the supplies.

This looks cool (and I almost put it in the art category), but I have to wonder about traction.

How cool is the idea of black boxes for archery arrows?

Politics, culture, and the economy:

An infographic about the Federal budget.

If the media were actually conservative, or even impartial or honest, this would be one of a number of major administration scandals.

The claim has been made that Occupy Wall Street is a grassroots uprising just like the Tea Party, but on the opposite side of the political spectrum. Is it? Is it really?

I had to ask some friends not to invite me for dinner if they were also inviting a specific neighbor of theirs to the same dinner; at each get-together where we were both present, he seemed to be challenging me to respond to his provocatively-stated political opinions, and I refused to submit myself to him being obnoxious all evening, and I didn’t want to make a scene. It’s not an unknown problem.

There are a lot of scary charts and graphs around. Here are two of them.

Are white men gods? Fred makes a good case for it.

At the very least, it appears that old Republican white men know what’s going on in the world.

Muslims have killed more than 1000 Christians this year. They don’t limit themselves to Christian targets though, and the numbers add up.

It used to be that medicine had little relation to or dependence upon evolutionary concepts. As that is no longer the case, I weep for the future of medical treatment.

When should you use violence? Don’t skip the comments.

Sometimes, they don’t even make an effort to hide their attitudes.

Food and Drink links:

A cheeseburger requires the capabilities of modern society.

Recipes for Liquers.

Highway closed by 20-ton Marmite spill. Kind of reminds me of the Great Molasses Flood.

I’ve made orange peel candy before, but it’s nice to keep a recipe handy.

I’m planning to try this recipe tomorrow night.

Sometime, I’ll have to try to make Italian Beef.

Most honey isn’t honey (according to the FDA).

Whisky and lasers sounds like a dangerous pairing, but it’s actually useful.

I’ve had a couple of these brews. I used to have some bottles saved from various brews with fun names (I had a bottle of Beer Goggles IPA, and two of the Denver Zoo’s custom labels), but I got rid of them some time ago.

I never really cared for Dippin’ Dots, although it was an interesting thing to try when I was young. It seems that other people feel the same way.

Miscellaneous links:

I propose that world building is the primary distinguishing characteristic of SF and fantasy.” Years ago, I attended a presentation on world building given by John Barnes. It was fascinating – among other things, he talked about Mac applications he’d developed to do forecasting of everything from expected rates of technology introduction to likely political alliances to popular names that could be extrapolated for particular future time periods.

Trade your old gold for a new cat.

Lost/missing culture

An enlightening discourse on Fantasy Armor and Lady Bits.

I’ve seen this guy before, but he wasn’t modeling bras then.

Speaking of modeling, a Swedish fashion chain is under fire for showing their clothing using computer-generated models.

Also, as a model, you should know what terms are in your model release.

Here is one link to a resource for learning languages.

Speaking of languages, they’re being mapped by Twitter.

Like a southern accent is good for a drop in perceived IQ, the same is true of dressing in a certain manner.

I think I’ve posted this before, but I ran across it again recently. An amusing anecdote about an attack cat.

Wisdom from Calvin’s father.

Ernie Pyle remembers Clark Kent.

And Bruce Wayne has a medical examination.

This is interesting – Mayan ruins found in Georgia.

It’s not GlaDos, but it used to be potato powered.

The Royal Navy is retrofitting submarines in preparation to allowing women to serve on them. I’ve written about this before; I think it’s a bad idea.

Be careful what you text. Also, review it to make sure it’s what you intend to send.

It’s a sad thing to note that this is necessary these days.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show actors – where are they now?

I haven’t gotten around to reading this webcomic yet.

Some nice newspaper headlines here.

Watch out for online dating scams.

UPDATE: Fixed a couple of links that weren’t properly closed.

I presume turnips wouldn’t have worked

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Scientists use genetically-modified rice to produce human blood.

Via Dyspepsia Generation, which, for some reason, doesn’t seem to accept comments from me anymore.

Miscellany 20

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Running into a booby trap can ruin your entire day.

This is good news for me.

Watching this video makes me want to buy an iPad, just to take advantage of the deal. Not quite enough to actually make the purchase, though. However, if I ever do acquire an iPad, I may buy it, even at the normal price.

You know, I’ve never had a really impressive Halloween costume like this.

Where are they now?

Scientists and the public both speak English, but not quite the same version, which leads to misunderstandings.

It’s been a bad month for computer people. Following the deaths of Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie (creator of the C programming language and co-creator of Unix), we now have the death of John McCarthy, creator of the LISP programming language.

I had known that blue-screen technology had been largely replaced by green-screen technology, but I’d never known why. Now I do.

It sounds to me like this guy is a jackass.

Sure, kids will be able to make their own toys with this, but I’m not sure how much of a positive step it is. After all, kids have always been able to make their own toys; this is just a high-tech method. That’s not to say I wouldn’t want one, though.

This is worrisome. The Yellowstone supercaldera is closer to me, though.

You knew it had to come to this someday.

Does a zombie apocalypse change your criteria for who to date?

Speaking of zombies, this is some pretty effective makeup. At the last wedding I attended, the bride could have made good use of it.

Your underwear-fu must be strong to wear these.

I love candy corn. I’ll have to try this recipe.

I like H. P. Lovecraft’s writings, and they’ve apparently had some effect on me. Recently, I watched this documentary on his life, which I found to be quite interesting.

These are interesting photos of the progress made cleaning up after the tsunami in Japan.

I have to admit, I don’t understand how this works. Not that that’s unusual, or anything.

Somewhere, I have a button that reads, “I don’t need a weapon. I have a banjo.” It’s a paraphrase from a novel. I’ve never had anything quite like this happen to me, though.

I’ll bet that her mother has definitely had better days. Speaking as a father, I must say that this is one of the nightmares that parents of girls have, even if they know their daughter would never do such a thing.

Miscellany 19

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

I’ve been accumulating a lot of links. Time to clear the tabs out.

A good overview of corruption in Obama’s DOJ here.

Interesting discussion of poverty here.

This must have something to do with truth in advertising: a supermarket chain has been forced to withdraw ads that show happy customers.

Useful knowledge: How to avoid going to jail for violating 18 USC 1001.

Not, perhaps, the best dietary choices.

It’s been a long time – I haven’t read much about spontaneous human combustion since I was in high school.

I’ve seen photos of people with elaborate facial tattoos before, but never in this context.

This is interesting – a section of Idaho where major crimes can’t be prosecuted.

Time for Science and Technology:

Carbon nanotube cables that conduct electricity as efficiently as copper? Bring it on!

This is a bit old, but … we can now measure the magnetic properties of a single proton.

This is also a bit old … a new type of car engine. These come around every so often. I was quite taken with the Wankel rotary engine, but it had problems with manufacturability. Maybe this one will work out better.

Visual cryptography. Interesting, but I’m not sure how easy it would be to extract the information into text form.

A visual reference to computer ports.

Fairly computer-centric, but, then, I am employed in the field of software, and I love the title – Here be dragons: advances in problems you didn’t even know you had.

New and improved wireless technology.

Fossilized feathers found in 80-million-year-old amber.

Here’s a scale model of the solar system. Be prepared to do a lot of scrolling.

On the subject of the solar system, here’s an orrery that I think is pretty damned impressive.

Continuing with science, the Ig Nobel awards are about to be announced.

Scientists are also planning to make an artificial volcano.

Here’s something unusual: placebos are becoming more effective. How’s that work?

Been hearing voices with nobody around? You may not be as insane as you feared – birds are teaching each other to talk.

A Z-machine interpreter and a list of games for it.

Technology keeps on improving our lives – here’s a self-inflating bicycle tire.

The Document Which Used To Be Called The MIT Lockpicking Guide. I downloaded a copy when it was called that. Related: a series of lessons on YouTube.

Some products aren’t well-designed. Here’s one example from a trade-magazine blog on the topic.

Time for a little humor.

Here’s something that’s a staple of Jay Leno’s “headlines” segments: marriage announcements.

Got OCD and like to cook?

Lord of the Strings?

I like some of these modified signs.

Not quite humor, but close … Which Programming Languages Make You Cuss More? More accurately stated: which programming languages have more cussing in comments in the code I looked at?

Miscellany 18

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Just some things that have been hanging around.

This is a useful site for learning to play the ukulele. If you want to start from the beginning, here’s the first post. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t have an easy way to access the archives.

Tired of people who don’t know how to spell or which homophone to use? Here’s a potential solution.

Want a guess as to how long you’ll live? This site tells me I can expect about another 27 years.

Can spiraling help you run faster? I don’t have the knees to run for exercise anymore (and I’m still coming back from my broken ankle, besides), but this sounds interesting.

Sometimes, science fiction can be eerily prophetic. A couple more by Heinlein that they could have mentioned are his prediction of the waterbed in Stranger in a Strange Land (which was actually referenced as prior art to invalidate a patent application), and his prediction in the story Waldo that telephone answering machines would be used to screen incoming calls.

I’m not terribly familiar with it yet, but I’m becoming quite taken with the music of Flanders and Swann. It’s certainly more interesting than this concert.

Scientist trading cards. The people behind these also pulled off a neat guerilla art prank.

Oh, wow, man! The colors!

I can’t believe it! (via Theo Spark – the site is possibly NSFW, YMMV)

The rarely-seen arborial moose. Must have been trying to visit Rocky.

And, to finish up, a list of the ten deadliest toys of all time. I’m not sure I agree with all of their choices, particularly with the “of all time” qualifier, but it’s probably a pretty good starting point for the years since about 1950.

Miscellany 16

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Let’s see what we can pull out today, shall we, boys and girls?

I don’t use picks much, apart from finger picks when I’m playing banjo. I do use picks when I play mandolin, but I don’t play my mandolin that often (and, actually, it’s on a long-term loan at the moment). However, I can’t help but wonder if I’d have a better grip and be able to keep the picks from sliding around in my fingers without having to clamp down to the point of cramps if I were to punch them out of old credit cards.

Carbon fiber is neat stuff. I’m quite taken with the Blackbird carbon fiber ukulele, although I doubt I’ll ever own one. Perhaps I can eventually learn to make my own, though.

If you’re interested, there are more extreme substances discussed here. I don’t think there are any hobby guides for using them, though.

There are a couple of new British reality shows in the process of finding cast members. I’m linking to this article because the shows are based in Liverpool, where I was born, and I enjoy stupid puns such as the series names.

Invisibility cloaks are now officially passé – now they’re proposing time cloaks.

This is an extremely heart-warming story. I so understand why the father feels like that.

We’ve long had computers that could play games, but that’s because they were specifically programmed to do so. There have also been computers that have been programmed with the rules for a game, then tasked with determining a winning strategy by playing countless games against themselves or other computers. Now there’s a computer that learned to play a game by reading the manual.

Here’s a cool video: one year of the moon’s cycles covered in 2.5 minutes.

If someone tells you that the Sun doesn’t affect weather on earth (which I’ve seen argued by some global warming/climate change advocates), tell them “thanks for playing; now go away.”

Lots of information about sunscreen here; some of it I’d known, and some I hadn’t. It does put me in mind of the letter purportedly received from a child by a book publisher: “Dear Sirs: I am returning your book because it is about penguins and it tells me more about penguins than I care to know.” The link goes to PDF file of a speech delivered in 1948 – I first ran across the anecdote (which I remember slightly differently) in an earlier edition of this book.

This looks like an interesting site to help with learning a foreign language.

Mark Steyn has a disturbing report up.

Here’s a series of mug shots. A couple of them show up more than once. All I can say is, the only way I’d get tattoos like these people is if someone drugged me and applied them while I was unconscious. And then I’d have to worry about getting mug shot, after I went after them.

And, finally, the (presumably) first Pastafarian driver’s license.

Yesterday in history

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

I saw a program on this on the Science Channel, and saved it on my DVR so I could write about it on the correct date, but missed it. On June 29th, 3123 BC, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.

I also find it interesting that they note that it’s possible that this is also the source of the myth of Phaeton losing control of his father’s chariot.