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Archive for the 'The Future' Category

Interesting Facts

Friday, October 26th, 2012

I knew I was probably the last person on earth to sign up for facebook but the day after I did I saw a news article saying the one billionth person had signed up. It was probably me. Here is my link. Also here is the link to our page for Bash the Bankers. Hope I did that right as I am a total facebook noob. I closed comments on the blog a long time ago because I got tired of all the spam. I was thinking I would eventually put them back with a better spam filter but have never gotten to it. So at least you can comment on my FB page now.

If you are a regular reader and I imagine there are some from my stats, you know I normally finish up with a cute picture. Also since as one friend of mine put it “It’s so sciencey!” and another one recently said “I would describe your writing style as a high-tech Andy Rooney.” often the subjects I write about are well, not necessarily light reading. According to this, cute images make you sharper, perhaps I should put a cute picture at the beginning instead of the end of my blog.

Suddenly I’ve found myself with a little time on my hands and I’ve been thinking about starting some sort of project. I’ve written about the Raspberry Pi $25 ARM based computer before and thought about getting one to play with. Although it seems like an interesting platform to build some sort of sensor/controller, the more I read about it, it does seem kind of weak in terms of processing power. Yesterday I saw an article about this kickstarter project called Parallella where these people are trying to build an open source parallel computing platform. It’s $100 but it does look like it would be considerably more powerful. Yesterday it didn’t look like they were going to make  their goal but with 24 hours to go, today I noticed it might be close. I think they should have come up with a better name.

Speaking of open source,

The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) is a modular, DIY, low-cost, high-performance platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts.

There have been a lot of articles like this one about 3D printers lately and also the legal implications. I’ve always wanted to get a 3D printer but other than 3D art or maybe some odd connectors for some sort of PVC structure I want to build, I’m not sure what I would do with one. Unless of course I had one like this which is so large I could make furniture with it.

I mentioned I bought a graphics tablet recently and I’m really enjoying using it. Although it supports gestures like my iPhone and Android, I don’t use them that much. Occasionally my computer starts doing odd things and I realize my cat Kelly is leaning up against it. I like using the pressure sensitive pen though. Unfortunately my abilities to use a pen peaked when I was in college and spent most days trying to scribble down notes in a hurry which would actually be readable later on, or being bored in class and spent my time doodling.  When I built my first machine back in the 80’s all I could think about was how cool it would be to have some sort of sophisticated way of controlling it. This article from the BBC talks about the range of new technologies that will change the way you interface with machines.

Here is an interesting fact

Over 3 million people globally every month search for something online with the words interesting facts in it according to the most popular search engine.

I got that from this list of interesting facts. One of them I was already familiar with. If you want to bring a computer to it’s knees, try rendering a human head with 85,000 to 150,000 hairs.

And finally, something to make you say awww…

Asteroids

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Last month I told myself I was going to try to post more. So much for that. I spent a lot of time practicing digital sculpting and rigging characters and working on a silly walk.  Then out of nowhere a bunch of people I did web sites for wanted to redo their sites so I’ve been busy.

In the meantime I’ve been trying to come up with a good idea for this device from leapmotion. It allows you to control your computer with your hands going way beyond what you can do with 2d gestures. I would love to get one and the developer kit to play with. Virtual thumb wrestling anyone?

When I read this article about  Planetary Resources’ plans to mine asteroids it made me think about where wealth comes from. According to their website…

A single 500-meter platinum-rich asteroid contains the equivalent of all the Platinum Group Metals mined in history.

This article is interesting because it talks about the legality of mining in space.

Last month everyone was talking about mining asteroids. I was going to link to the jobs page at Planetary Resources because the application had some pretty amusing questions, but it seems they got so many applications  they took it down.

If this is actually practical, I kind of wish NASA had gone for it.  Maybe we wouldn’t have to pay taxes. I guess lately I’ve been thinking about not necessarily the Star Trek economic model where people don’t care about money but the whole asteroid mining via robots and delivering precious metals to earth thing got me thinking. What if there was something so lucrative no one would care if it were taxed at a rate where everyone could live comfortably from it.

Actually it reminded me of Project Azorian where supposedly Howard Hughes was building a ship to mine the sea floor for manganese nodules. The whole thing turned out to be a cover for an operation to recover a Soviet submarine. There’s probably some alien ship out there on an asteroid and this is their way of getting to it.

Speaking of Star Trek, I couldn’t help but think of Data in the Next Generation episode where they traveled back in time when I saw this photo.

It was interesting reading about metals in the platinum group. Apparently they are so rare because they sank to the middle of the earth when it was molten and the only ones we have now are from asteroid impacts. This article  is interesting as it is about finding ways to make catalysts which are far cheaper than platinum.

What if solar power got the same subsidies as fossil fuels?

BEC expects to be able to generate power at 1 cent per kilowatt-hour with no toxic emissions of any kind.

This article talks about “Modern Antiques” Today’s Kids Have Probably Never Seen where this one speculates about technologies young kids today will not remember.

They got me to thinking… “Hey kids you probably don’t even know we used to do math using a stick!”

This is just embarrassing.

Siri just got patched. Isn’t this the kind of thing that made HAL go crazy?

A lego crab.

I really love the light in this picture.

We ride at dawn!

And finally something to make you say awww…

It’s Noisy!

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

I wasn’t sure I was going to write about this article. As I’m trying to write and my wife is trying to nap, there is a lawn mower out there somewhere nearby. My closest neighbors have two Harleys. I’m reminded of the time I was doing contract work for a game company. I was really sick, really tired, and I had gone in on a Saturday to try and get caught up. They had a sound booth there which wasn’t nearly as sound proof as the one in that article. Some sound engineers had come in to work too and they were recording a woman screaming over and over and over…

I just need to relax, sit back and watch the Dalek relaxation tape.

I mentioned I bought a graphics tablet recently. I got to thinking how cool it would be to control music with it. It occurred to me someone probably has done that. After a short search I found a couple programs to do it. One of then I couldn’t get to work and the other one I can’t seem to pipe through anything other than the default synthesizer. My tablet senses gestures and has some other control features that Wmidi (the software) doesn’t take advantage of but it’s fun to play with. If you have a tablet, you can find the free software here.

I was laughing when I read this Wired article about the Navy making a real life laser cannon wondering what it actually sounds like. Because if you are going to spend a fortune on a laser cannon, it absolutely must sound cool.

This is another one of those ‘free energy‘  things that make you think if it were true it would completely change the world. There is a lot of discussion about whether it would violate the laws of thermodynamics in the comments. It’s kind of like these people. I’m pretty skeptical but it doesn’t mean I’m not rooting for somebody out there to make some sort of breakthrough. On the other hand, solar power in its various forms keeps advancing. You wouldn’t think about it, but making a better salt could make concentrated solar more affordable.

There seems to be a lot of nostalgia going on at kickstarter. I guess bringing back Leisure Suit Larry was to be expected.

When I think of Iran, I think of something desert like. I guess I’m not that well-informed. It’s a pretty big country. These pictures are absolutely beautiful and amazing.

And finally, something to make you say awww…

 

Crowd Sourcing Science

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

I mentioned kickstarter in my last post. Until recently I would look at it and people would have projects there for games they wanted to write but often they were trying to raise ridiculously small amounts of money compared to what it takes to actually produce a game. The past month that seems to have changed with a few projects raising millions of dollars. Of course, these are well known people. I’ve had a game in mind for ten years or so I’ve wanted to write, but it’s hard to imagine doing it without large resources.

I ran across the site petridish the other day. They are attempting to crowd source science in the same way kickstarter does. I remember reading about DRACO, a project to create a broad spectrum anti-viral at MIT. It holds the promise to do to viruses the same thing that antibiotics did to bacterial infections. Those people should definitely get their project on petridish.

We occasionally have wasps building nests in our grill. At least they aren’t two and a half inches long!

This place is a good example of somewhere I would go a lot more often if I owned a self driving car. It’s about eight hours away and spectacular. You could just settle in for the night and wake up there. I had not thought about the point he makes in that link where people would probably own a lot less cars because most families could get by with one car. I disagree with his point in the last paragraph though. I think once most people have them, the insurance costs for driving your own car will become so high most people will not be able to afford it.

This is not a caterpillar.

Apparently there are glowing jellyfish in Japan.

And finally, something to make you say awww

Creative Video

Friday, December 5th, 2008

I spent my first year in college at an engineering school. It was a tough school and we didn’t have a lot of extra time. One of the things I remember was the guys building tennis ball cannons. Of course we eventually soaked the balls in lighter fluid so they would be flaming tennis balls. Here is a video of some guys playing tennis with flaming tennis balls.

I suppose that wasn’t all that dangerous. It would definitely keep you concentrating on the ball. Here’s something really crazy. At least the guy had the sense to put the liquid oxygen on a long pole before he poured it on the grill.

This video of bioluminescence was particularly striking. I have seen pictures of it before but the motion is really very cool.

You have to wait a bit for the next one to load before you see the motion. It is some guys being creative with stop motion video.

This one is from my friend Matt. It’s a silly dog video. This dog goes charging around in snow well over his head. You wonder how he manages to not run into something. I have never seen a dog move through snow like that.

Check out this image of two guys having lunch in a very high spot.

I thought this piece on the 10 most amazing things the sky can do was interesting.

Some of these are better than others. People make themselves invisible by covering or painting themselves the same as the background.

I’ve been thinking I need a new background for my new monitor but I wanted to create something myself. Here are some free high resolution wallpapers.

This close up of a snowflake was not at all what I expected.

Nature has perfected splitting water. I thought this was clever. If you can’t figure out exactly how plants do it then the next best thing is to extract the molecules from the plants and create cyborgs.

These vintage drawings of what the future would be like are pretty funny.

This is a very in-depth piece on fountains with some incredible pictures.

And finally, this is really silly. It’s a collection of Ninja cat pictures.

HDTV

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

I’m sure if we had waited, the price of a new HD set would have continued to fall but I was tired of squinting at my old Sony monitor. We don’t really have much HD material to watch, just the local stations. This weekend we finally broke down and purchased a 40″ Toshiba HDTV. I had read a number of bad reviews from people who bought a set online only to find the picture quality was disappointing. I wanted to see the set in the store. With an instant manufacturer’s rebate of $100 we ended up spending $750 on it at the local Costco. That is just about what we paid for our first 32″ television many years ago.  I would have gone with a 32″ but they didn’t have many to choose from. It seems huge. I usually write on my smaller computer which had a 19″ LCD display set at 800 x 600. At that resolution, it’s pretty readable but the web has gone wide screen and I found myself scrolling around more and more to see what is out there. My larger machine where I do most of my art had the same size monitor. I usually ran it at 1024 x 768 but it was a CRT and over the years it seemed to get fuzzier. Maybe it’s my eyes. A lot of the tools I use required scrolling through a bunch of icons. Now I’m running at 1360 x 768. The text is large and clear and I can see all my icons without scrolling and my menus are out of the way in my workspace.

One feature some of the new sets have is the 120 Hz refresh rate. I was afraid at 60 Hz this set would flicker when using it as a monitor but it looks good. It is barely noticeably darker in the corners. I had to put the cursor in the corner and point it out for my wife to see it. It does draw a lot more power than the small screen. Last night the power went out and I hooked it up to my battery/inverter. It was drawing 100 watts. Luckily the power wasn’t out for long. I guess I was surprised to realize how many digital channels were out there since I didn’t have a tuner capable of picking them up before. Since a lot of the web uses white backgrounds it can be a little too bright at night.

Speaking of the web, how long before you speak to it and it speaks back? That is one of the things IBM predicts will happen in the next five years. We recently learned an old friend is losing the use of her arms and hands. I was googling voice recognition software and I wondered if it really has improved much.

I played with this tool which allows you to choose colors and then it finds pictures on Flickr that use those colors. I’m not sure how useful it is but it was kind of interesting for a few minutes.

This was cool. I have seen this done before but on a much smaller scale. It’s a video of a fountain with strobe lights where the water appears to be suspended in air or moving backwards.

This is one of those pictures that looks just awesome on my new monitor. It’s a shot of Crater Lake in Oregon with the clouds moving in.

Of course everything looks better on here including this cute cat picture.

This is a collection of wild cat pictures.

Time magazine choose the eight new natural wonders. Too bad the images aren’t larger.

Here are 100 underwater hi-res images.

Also, these images could be larger but they are spectacular solar and lunar eclipse pictures.

I thought this concept of chalk shadows was pretty creative.

I’ve read about this strange creature recently, but this is one of the better sets of pictures of a Raz. That thing is so odd looking!

Now for some odd mice, the computer kind that is.

When Neil Young was young; Sugar Mountain — Live At Canterbury House 1968 is being released today but you can listen to the entire album at NPR.

Christmas and holiday cards for geeks are really geeky. Let me explain that first one for you. In hexadecimal a single digit can have 16 values. That means zero through nine then they start using letters so F is fifteen. In two digit hex the largest number is FF or 255 in decimal. Since colors are described in the amount of the primary colors red, green, and blue FFFFFF is white. The # sign is normally used to indicate the number is in hexadecimal. Hence may all your Christmas be #FFFFFF.

I have linked to some of these liquid magnetic sculpture videos before. This one has some cool towers.

I first ran across the storm cloud image in this collection and then realized there were lots of other nice images there as well. Here is the top level of Neil Paskin’s galleries.

My wife doesn’t care much for blond jokes but I thought this keyboard for blonds was pretty creative.

Turritopsis nutricula is an immortal jellyfish.

Here is another large panoramic image; this one is of Melbourne at night.

I have to say I agree with this guy. The amount of money being thrown at banking bailouts is so huge, solving the climate problems or ending poverty is small change in comparison. To try to stay positive here are a couple interesting articles. This one is about how financing can make solar cost effective. This one is about a new generator that can make use of slow currents for generating electricity.

The song If I only had a brain was stuck in my head after seeing this.

And finally, I didn’t even know red pandas existed. They sure are cute!

Follow Up

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Last spring two wild kittens showed up in our driveway. With our neighbor’s help, we found a home for them but not before we got a chance to get them to adapt to humans. I wrote about it in this post and this post. We learned they are growing up strong and happy and I have a picture. They sure have grown!

Jack and Jill look happy

Jack and Jill look happy

I’m not sure I ever posted about this word game where they donate rice for every answer you get right. I may have played it before I started blogging. According to this they have surpassed their billionth grain of rice.

This looks pretty fun but you would need a really large place to fly it. It’s basically like being tied to a small blimp and strapping on wings to direct it for you own personal airship.

This example of using nanotube sheets as speakers is exactly the kind of technological advance which will produce products in the future you can’t imagine. It’s interesting they can use heat instead of motion to make sound.

I thought this ‘fountain of youth‘ drug sounded really promising but I had to laugh at this quote.

“The search for anti-frailty medications has become increasingly important because the average American is expected to live into his or her 80s, and most seniors want to stay strong enough to remain independent as they age.”

Most seniors? What? Did they do a survey? Does anyone want to become fragile?

Speaking of aging, this article about the coming singularity where machines become more intelligent than humans touches on so many points. The internet surpassed the capability of the human brain in 2006? I think Marshall Brain, (is that really his name), has a point about 50 million people being put out of work.

Probably not appropriate if you are at work. Heidi Klum re-enacts a scene from the movie Risky Business in a commercial for the new Guitar Hero game.

Here is an unusual design for a staircase.

Check out this clever theme for a bar.

When my friend Matt sends me pictures of dogs dressed up in costumes he says this is why dogs bite people. Here are a bunch of pictures of dogs dressed up in funny costumes.

These cats aren’t in costumes but they are scary and funny anyway.

And this dog is just too cute.

Finally check out these pictures of a cat and a lynx who are buddies.

Trick Or Treat

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

We used to have over 120 kids come to our door on Halloween. That was years ago. Now I think there are a lot less young kids in town and most of go to the new subdivision. I suppose it’s a lot safer to walk around there. I remember we used to cover a fair amount of ground in the town I grew up in, but we never treated Halloween like this. That’s a business plan!

I saw a picture of a large bottle of soda held up by a tiny piece of tape inspired by gecko feet lately but I didn’t bookmark it and couldn’t find it. People keep mentioning being able to play Spiderman with it but I can just imagine all the practical jokes it might be used for. Here are ten innovations inspired by nature including that one.

This is just funny. It’s so small I’m surprised anyone noticed.

I normally carry a lighter when I’m camping. After watching Bear Grylls use flint and steel on Man vs Wild though it looks remarkably effective. It’s difficult enough to get far enough into the wilderness in Indiana to not be within walking distance of a restaurant. I suppose if I was in a survival situation somewhere where I didn’t know a lot of the plants I would take this guys advice. Around here there are numerous edibles in the wild. There are few I would choose to eat though. Spring beauty and sumac lemonade are quite tasty, as are the morel mushrooms that grow around here.

I’ve heard golden orb weaver spiders are big but I didn’t realize they ate birds. Also speaking of spiders, I’m glad humans  don’t eat their mates.

One of these days carbon dioxide may be considered too valuable to throw away.

Strangely enough, if you use scotch tape in a vacuum it emits X-rays.

For some reason I don’t think this picture of a lion and a zebra is as ‘touching’ as it seems.

Don’t panic but in 1.1 million years we are all going to die, unless we move.

Check out the world’s most relaxing room.

And finally, what is cuter than zoo babies?

This Is Your Brain On The Internet

Friday, October 17th, 2008

A UCLA study has concluded searching the internet increases brain function. Don’t you feel smarter now?

HacknMod is a site devoted to building or altering your equipment. Who doesn’t want a giant pedal powered tank?

Speaking of mods here’s how to build a Wifi antenna using a vegetable strainer.

This article about the IRS using a hack-able computer system makes me feel oh-so-comfortable with the information they have.

Is it about zombies or not? A student was arrested on terrorism charges after his grandparents found a story he’d written. I have often thought Steven King would never make it though school these days.

Even so, police say the nature of the story makes it a felony. “Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it’s a felony in the state of Kentucky,” said Winchester Police detective Steven Caudill.

Give me a break! These people are afraid of zombies? Don’t expect any classic horror writers to come out of Kentucky in the future. Do you think the number of horror films involving proms will decrease after this? If they prosecute this kid for writing a zombie story, the terrorists have truly won.

The tune “Stayin Alive” has the ideal beat for giving CPR. Can you imagine waking up to someone pounding your chest while singing disco music? Great, now that song is stuck in my head.

Besides bringing you back to life, music has other amazing powers.

This site gives you the ability to generate you own soft drink can. Now I’m just not sure why I would want to. Actually, it is a pretty well designed site.

I’ve often thought some of the coolest things we will have in the future aren’t really predictable because they will be possible due to breakthroughs in material technology like this metal foam

Here’s a collection of award winning microscope photos.

Check out this nice collection of photos of frozen waterfalls.

Here is a site devoted to pictures of upside down dogs.

If that wasn’t silly enough for you, this lady has taught her cat to eat with a fork.

And finally, I really like this picture but frogs may not be cute enough for my ending picture so try this one.

Brain Theory

Monday, October 6th, 2008

I saw this TED Talk by Jeff Hawkins the other day on a theory about how the brain works. I think his main point about intelligence was interesting. When I took Artificial Intelligence I remember seeing some interesting programs, but when you saw the code it was like a magic trick where once you know how it’s done, the ‘magic’ vanishes. Could it be intelligence is just a matter of sophisticated pattern matching?

I really think someday people will walk around with their computers rolled up into little tubes like this example of flexible TV displays. On the other hand I can’t imagine how much better looking a laser based TV would look. Also, once they are small enough to project from your cell phone, you wouldn’t need a display to fold up.

It takes a minute to get going but once this landslide starts up, you see an entire forest slide down the hill.

As the worlds financial markets melt down, keep in mind the less control you feel you have the more likely you are to see patterns or connections that don’t exist.

Also on the subject of the financial melt down, here is how to live with almost no money. I haven’t gotten a chance to read much of it but it does involve eating varmints.

Guess what is more fun than a barrel of monkeys?

I had seen the study about strippers before but I had not heard the one about armadillos changing history.

And finally, not only is this a funny animal picture, it’s also quite a striking photo.